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Embers of Neltharion Interview with Morgan Day

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We've had the privilege to interview Associate Game Director Morgan Day who answered some burning questions about Embers of Neltharion, the Brawler's Guild, Dragonriding, and more. Here are the highlights!

We've learned it wasn't intended for the "A Symbol of Hope" cinematic to be datamined, and that Dragonriding is here to stay after Dragonflight as an evergreen feature. We've also asked about raid skips for older raids (Siege of Orgrimmar, Ulduar, Antorus, in particular) and Morgan said we could potentially see them added in a mid-season Dragonflight .5 or .7 patch. Furthermore, we've learned there are no plans to change the Mythic+ Keystone Master mount reward in Dragonflight, and Morgan also briefly talked about the Brawler's Guild's future and patch cadence.

Question: Given the fact that one of the more recent cinematics, most notably “A Symbol of Hope”, wasn't encrypted, we were wondering if this is a change in Blizzard's stance on encrypting cinematics in the future, or if you really wanted to get that specific cinematic out to the community?

Morgan Day: So on that one in particular, definitely not intended. Our intent is to encrypt all of our cinematics. For us, the main intent and philosophy behind the PTR is to get testing and feedback on a lot of those gameplay loops. A lot of the systems, a lot of the cool content, but when it comes to major story moments, those are actually the parts that we've been trying to create more surprises once, once the game goes out. Like the awesome kind of dark ranger thing that came out late in Shadowlands. That was a major surprise to people. Those are the types of things that are really narrative and story-driven that we feel aren't things that we need a ton of iteration on from a systems perspective or from an encounter design perspective. So those are things where we would say, philosophically, we want more surprises like that in World of Warcraft, which is where you'll see potentially even more encryption being used in the future to make sure that those are fun surprises. It's fun when there are things to discover when the game or the patch comes out.

Question: This is the first time where we've seen things like the creation catalyst/the revival catalyst move between patches beyond expansions. How is it actually going to function once the patch rolls over? Is this something where it will be disabled or will it still be available for season one tier sets moving forward?

Morgan Day: To the best of my knowledge, season one will still be available because there are a bunch of cool transmogs that you can still earn there. When it comes to rolling over to season two, you know, multiple weeks into the patch, when the Revival Catalyst becomes “season two revival catalyst”, there is a similar timing there as we saw in previous updates with Dragonflight Season 1. I'll need to double-check with the team on that one though.

Question: Would Blizzard consider in the future having the option to continue being able to craft season one gear or, when we roll over into season three, craft season two gear so that those transmogs are still more easily available?

Morgan Day: That is definitely something we would take into consideration. The team very much understands the excitement around the completion of your transmog collections and it is a really big part of the game for a lot of people. We don’t want people to suddenly feel like they’re losing access to something that they previously had access to. That said, this is the first time that we’re seeing two catalyst options open at the same time and there are definitely some technical hurdles to overcome there.

Question: Are there plans to add Dragonriding mount rewards to Mythic+, similar to the skins obtainable from raiding and the gladiator achievement in PvP, or will it stay as a non-Dragonriding mount reward?

Morgan Day: For the rest of Dragonflight, that’s the plan. When we first set out creating the Keystone Master rewards, we thought it would be fun to have them act similarly to how Gladiator mounts did back in the day. Those mounts had a very specific look to them and, if you saw that mount, you knew it was a gladiator mount. We wanted the same thing for Keystone Master mounts, to have the aesthetic of them being associated with the achievement. Dragonriding skins are, on the other hand, a very new thing to World of Warcraft. We weren’t sure how it was going to work out and how the community would react to the system, so as we move forward in the future, we can explore skins as a reward for Keystone Master, but for now, for the rest of Dragonflight, the mount will stay consistent.


Question: Based on that, I assume that means that Dragonriding is being considered for future expansions?

Morgan Day: Initially, we were really interested in the response to Dragonriding before committing to it becoming a permanent part of WoW. Having seen the reception from the community, I’m sure there’d be a lot of “feedback” if it didn’t become an evergreen element of WoW, so I absolutely think it is here to stay. There are, however, conversations to be had and problems to solve in terms of the mount collections. We want people to still find value in their mount collection - we don’t want to suddenly make 95% of your mount collection feel obsolete. There are some problems we need to solve there in terms of introducing Dragonriding into older continents, as well as allowing non-Dragonriding mounts to fly in Dragonflight. It’s definitely a hotly debated topic within the team, we just want to roll out the plan in a way that is going to achieve all of our goals.

Question: For cross-faction guilds, is it intended that they cannot queue for instances with one another?

Morgan Day: As we launched Dragonflight, we launched it with cross-faction instances, where you could enter, for example, a Mythic+ with the opposite faction. We are trying to take a very measured approach to cross-faction play because it is a pretty major and one-directional change for World of Warcraft. This isn’t something where we can just turn back after allowing more play and cooperation between the two factions. We’re taking it one step at a time and, initially, we had cross-faction queued instances. It was really fun to be able to play with these other groups, but the obvious evolution of that is, what if we can join a guild together, so we have ways to communicate, schedule things, whatever it may be. When we talk about the next step in evolution, queued activities are probably next on that roadmap, but factions are a big part of World of Warcraft. People’s identities are tied to their faction and we don’t want that to change - we always want factions to be a major part of World of Warcraft and having Horde and Alliance, having a difference in philosophy and how they would approach solving problems will always play a major role in the narrative of World of Warcraft. We know that people also have strong feelings about that too, so we want to make sure that, for now, if you’re in a queued activity, you’re with your faction. We want you to opt into playing with the opposing faction.

Question: Going back to the cosmetics topic, is there any chance we’ll be getting raid skips for some of the longer old raids?

Morgan Day: This definitely isn’t a change that is coming with Embers of Neltharion, you definitely would have heard about it, but this isn’t the first time we’ve had this question. We’ve received a fair amount of feedback about adding skips and we're open to adding them, but for now, this is just a relic of instances that were created before the more modern raids that now include skips. This will definitely be taken back to the team and is one of those things that will likely be made as an improvement in a mid-season patch, a .5 or .7 update. No promises, but maybe we can get something for a future Dragonflight update!


Question: What about the Brawler’s Guild? Is that something the team still wants to work on? Are there changes planned?

Morgan Day: So, we love the Brawler’s Guild as well, and we do want to bring it back. It’s one of those fun things where, not only does the community get to enjoy it, but we get to as well because we can make these weird, zany fights. It’s the Brawler’s Guild, it’s meant to be fun! It opens up opportunities for the encounter design team to really work on some “out there” ideas, but it’s always been something that we have to update for an expansion. It will normally come down, get reworked, come back next expansion, and so on. Our goal is that, when we bring it back, and we do want to, we want to make sure that it’s something that will scale with you as we move forward, and isn’t something that we just have to keep taking away and bringing back. 

Question: To wrap things up, we just wanted to ask if we can expect the current trend of patches to continue, assuming there are no further interruptions to workflow, etc. Will we continue to see .5 and .7 patches?

Morgan Day: I think the roadmap that we released is extremely exciting for us because we’ve never really done that before and it’s indicative of our goals and what we are planning for World of Warcraft moving forward. Our goal is always to get content in the players’ hands at a responsible and satisfying pace and we feel like we’re really starting to hit our stride with Dragonflight. It opens up opportunities for us to do things differently on the development side, where we can be putting things in more frequent updates instead of feeling like, if we don’t get the things we want into a certain update, we won’t have the opportunity to do so again for a while. Ultimately, we feel it’s an approach that has been successful and I think the community has been enjoying it as well, so we want to try to continue with that, I don’t think this is a spoiler, but I believe we have also discussed updating that roadmap in the not-too-distant future and add some more information to it.

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I still don't understand why they have to close the Brawler's Guild between expansions in the first place. Even if there's no new content, what is the downside of leaving it open all the time for the people who want it?

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21 hours ago, Brightamethyst said:

I still don't understand why they have to close the Brawler's Guild between expansions in the first place. Even if there's no new content, what is the downside of leaving it open all the time for the people who want it?

Probably bugged to hell and no time to fix.     Wow is a lot of interlinked circles and it's very easy to break something with completely unrelated content.

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