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Episode 12

Welcome to BlizzCast 12! In this special edition of BlizzCast we'll be celebrating the 5-year anniversary of World of Warcraft's retail release, as well as the 15-year anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs and Humans by reflecting upon the past, discussing the present, and looking toward the future with some of the masterminds behind the Warcraft franchise. We also take time to focus on World of Warcraft's history, development, and continual evolution.

BlizzCast #12: Warcraft Anniversary Special Part I BlizzCast #12: Warcraft Anniversary Special Part II
BlizzCast #12: Warcraft Anniversary Special Part I Kevin Yu "Karune" (Community Manager, RTS and StarCraft)
Chris Metzen (Senior Vice President of Creative Development), Rob Pardo (Executive Vice President of Game Design), Samwise Didier (Senior Art Director)
[ top ]
Karune: Welcome everyone to BlizzCast. My name's Kevin Yu, your community manager, also known as Karune on the boards. And today we have a very special Warcraft anniversary edition of BlizzCast. In this episode we'll be celebrating the five-year anniversary of World of Warcraft's retail release; and for our old school fans, the fifteen-year anniversary of Warcraft: Orcs & Humans by reflecting upon the past, discussing the present, and looking toward the future with some of the masterminds behind the creation of the Warcraft franchise. Joining me now to discuss the inception and evolution of the Warcraft franchise are Senior Vice President of Creative Development, Chris Metzen...
Chris Metzen: Hello!
Karune: ...Executive Vice President of Game Design, Rob Pardo…
Rob Pardo: Hello there!
Karune: ...And Senior Art Director, Samwise Didier.
Samwise Didier: For the Horde, baby!

Chris Metzen: Show off.
Karune: [laughs] Welcome! Thank you for joining us guys.
Chris Metzen: Hey!

Samwise Didier: Good to be here.
[ 00:16 ]
Karune: Fifteen years ago, in November of 1994, the Warcraft universe was officially open to gamers in the United States with its first title, Warcraft: Orcs & Humans. Can you talk a little bit about how the Warcraft universe was originally conceptualized in terms of lore and art, you know, from that perspective?
Chris Metzen: Sam, you want to go first?

Samwise Didier: I was hoping you were going to go first.

Chris Metzen: I will go first just for kicks.

Samwise Didier: [laughs]

Chris Metzen: Just for the record, I should note that I actually didn't work on Warcraft I at all. But at the time I think the design team, led by Allen Adham, Ron Miller – guys like that – they had generated a number of ideas around a series of map scenarios that they wanted to roll through the single-player component where the general conception was just a small little kingdom called Azeroth as the orcs were invading in from another world – and it really all centered on this little kingdom. There were notable characters, Sir Lothar, King Llane, the half-orc Garona, Blackhand the dark orc warchief, and a brother named Bill Roper handled most of the scripting duties on that first single-player campaign. And I think most of the ideas were really generated to substantiate this flow of maps, you know, this flow of game play. I think in that sense the game design really kind of came first; and it was an attempt to create this cool fictional flow through that sequence of levels. It created a really cool little nugget of a world there that was fairly Tolkien-based, but just had some great potential for some kingdoms and storylines, and certain of those original characters really had a lot of flavor.
[ 01:05 ]
Karune: How was that like designing, you know, art-wise, coming up with some of those characters and matching some of those lore concepts?
Samwise Didier: Yea, art-wise, it was really kind of our first games that were really fantasy-based. We had made right before Warcraft a car game. We had made a puzzle game: Lost Vikings. This was our first kind of realm into fantasy and our own style. So you'll notice that there isn't elves and dwarves right away. Everything is pretty human-based and pretty orc-based. There were no trolls or ogres yet. We started straying a little bit out of the normal realms with demons and water elementals and things like that, but it was still really our first venture into the fantasy genre. We hadn't really defined the style yet. So you can see it by going back to some of the old art that we didn't have the same color palette. Things were still a little bit more subdued then they were in some of our future Warcraft games. But we were just really getting into the style that we were trying to develop. At the end of the missions there were characters sitting down, and they had more of the Warcraft proportions because we had drawn those. But from the top-down view we were still really trying to just find how our art style was going to be in Orcs & Humans.
[ 02:44 ]
Karune: Blizzard's art style, especially with Warcraft, is so iconic. Was it pretty challenging coming up with, you know, actually being able to get all of those ideas into the very limited amount of pixels that you had for Warcraft?
Samwise Didier: Yea, it was difficult back then. We were a console-based company back then a lot. So we had a lot of those proportions for our console games. But back then all of the PC games were a little bit more realistic looking. And so I think we were kind of pushing even for a little bit of that back then, like in the cinematics, a lot of the proportions weren't as super-heroic and super-fantasy-based as they are now. So it's kind of funny to go back and see what the art style was back then, and then how it evolved just a few months later when we were working on Warcraft II.

[ 03:59 ]
Karune: So, going with Warcraft, the first one, it was also a very interesting time as far as game play for the RTS genre. It was very new. Rob, can you talk a little bit about what Blizzard was going for as far as with Orcs & Humans in terms of helping to also progress that genre?
Rob Pardo: Well I can talk about it, but I actually wasn't at Blizzard either during that time period. The funny thing was I was at Interplay Productions. And at Interplay, we were actually producing Blizzard's Warcraft games for international. So I did get the opportunity to play the game over there and work with one of the producers on other games. But I got the opportunity to kind of see Blizzard's work from that end and a lot of that first game was really based a lot off of Dune II, which was a Westwood game that was probably the first PC-based real-time strategy game, at least in the modern sense. And it was kind of interesting just because, you know, here's this sequel to a movie franchise game and the second version was very, very different than the first Dune. And it really was kind of that first resource collection, base-building sort of game. I think everyone that played that first game – it kind of came out of nowhere – and I think because it wasn't really marketed that heavy it really didn't splash very big, but I think all the gamers out there played it quite a bit. I think that's also a really good example of what Blizzard's really done well over the years, which is kind of look at these nascent genres that really have a lot of potential, and then go in and make a game that really busts that genre open.

[ 04:47 ]
Karune: So following into the next game, I mean Orcs & Humans was quite a big hit, and in December of 1995, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness hit the store shelves. How did the game play, graphics, art style, and lore evolve since then? What were the next steps? How did Blizzard as a whole keep progressing down the Warcraft franchise?
Chris Metzen: You know, I remember at the time we were pretty obsessed with trying to top every aspect of Warcraft I, right? We wanted the art to be, you know, twice as bad ass, right? We wanted the armies to be twice as deep. We wanted the story to be twice as deep. We wanted the world scale of these kingdoms and this place to just absolutely explode outward from this one single kingdom. I remember we banged it out pretty quick. I think War II took us something like ten or eleven months. I mean it was just ridiculous...

Samwise Didier: The old days. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: ...Especially now when it takes what like, you know, ten years to bang a game out these days?
Karune: We try our best right? [laughs]
Chris Metzen: It was, I remember, a very specific energy when we started kind of digging out the sequel, that it was just this explosion of ideas; like, "what if we bang out ogres and trolls and dwarves and elves and really start expanding the world?" And I think a lot of those ideas we were jamming out at the time really kind of translated to that art style Sammy was talking about earlier, really going with super-proportionate characters and a much richer color palette. I think we really found our identity on Warcraft II in terms of a dev. team, like our specific chemistry, I think, really started to pop on that game. I think we moved very quickly through it because it was just a lot of energy. It's just what I remember about the time. It just felt like this creative explosion, everybody kind of firing on all cylinders. I think that energy bled through every level of the production, you know what I mean? Like we had the game design, the scenario design, the sound, you know, all the stupid little gimmicks with the characters having piss lines, and just a lot of personality and flavor came out of every corner of that game. I felt we were just really detail-specific, like that was kind of the beginning of that matrix in Blizzard games. That hadn't necessarily existed yet, that loving care under every rock that you can feel in later games really started with Warcraft II. I just remember a really tremendous sense of creative energy on that one, you know?

Samwise Didier: Yea, we were still a really small team. So we were all kind of wearing a lot of different hats where you'd have artists who were also coming up with lines for the units and programmers had an idea for some art style. So we were all just really working closely together on it. Everybody saw what everybody was doing and we started pushing it. And we were a little bit more relaxed now. The first game we had done, we came out. It was a little bit more traditional fantasy. Now we were kind of mixing it up into the more modern fantasy. It wasn't as medieval European-based. It had elves and dwarves and dragons and orc warlocks. It was a little bit more setting the stage for doing anything we really want, whereas in Warcraft now you can make anything. So back then we were starting like, "okay, yeah we got this. What can we do to make this different than the normal elves? What can we do to make this different than the normal orcs that you see?" So, that's when we really started kind of flexing and pushing the art style.

Chris Metzen: Kind of finding our voice, right?

Samwise Didier: Yeah.

Chris Metzen: As a whole development, where it's a synergy of art and design and code and all that stuff. It really felt like that was our graduation moment, you know what I mean?

Samwise Didier: I think a lot of elements from everybody's Dungeons & Dragons groups got thrown into the game...

Chris Metzen: [laughs] Yea, a lot of that.

Samwise Didier: ..."You know my character, he would be really cool if he was on this..." [laughs] Yea, so...

Rob Pardo: [in background] Keltor the Destroyer! [laughs]
Karune: Just for reference, how big was the company back then when you guys were actually working on the game?
Rob Pardo: Oh, I don't remember.
Karune: It seems like it's changed quite a bit, huh?
Samwise Didier: : Yeah, I mean the art team was maybe, for the whole company, maybe twelve, something like that, thirteen, fourteen people?

Chris Metzen: I want to say it was less than... Warcraft II, like thirty-five, forty people...

Samwise Didier: : Yeah.

Chris Metzen: ...The company; the whole company maybe by the time that shipped.
Karune: That's pretty impressive.
Chris Metzen: I can't recall...
Karune: [laughs]
Chris Metzen: ...But it really wasn't that big.

[ 06:21 ]
Karune: So going into the next game then, in December of 1995, Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal was the next game that finally came out, and it was an expansion set. It was the first time you guys worked on an expansion set. How was that different than working on an actual sequel and what were the next challenges like with that?
Samwise Didier: I think we had mushroom trees on one of the orc tile sets of Draenor.

Chris Metzen: We did.

Samwise Didier: I don't remember much else after that. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: We really did! Well, we had started Beyond the Dark Portal. At the time we were still kind of getting our feet under us in terms of how many games we are going to do a year and the kind of general production pipeline we were putting together at the time. We decided, "well let's get some help on this one." So I think it was… was it Saffire? [Editors' Note: The group's name was Cyberlore.] We had a group helping us out conceptualizing the campaign, jamming out tile set art, and we worked with them... I can't tell time at all anymore, but maybe the better part of a year. And ultimately, since we're just so anal and retentive and crazy, you know, detail-specific, we wound up taking a good part of the production on and kind of co-developing a lot of the tile sets...

Samwise Didier: Always do. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: ...And a lot of the newer unit types and I remember doing some story editing and things like that. But it generally came off pretty well. I think Beyond the Dark Portal did well. I liked the thematic behind it. I loved that we got to see the orc world of Draenor.

Samwise Didier: I like the heroes.

Chris Metzen: The heroes were really cool. You know, Grom Hellscream, Deathwing, and all these old-school characters, Khadgar, Alleria, Turalyon, a lot of the secondary orc warchiefs were jammed out for that one. I look back now – we actually tried to novelize it a couple of years ago – and it was a pretty complex story. You've got guys running all over the map trying to get these different artifacts. It had everything but the kitchen sink and we may, in fact, have had the kitchen sink as well.

Samwise Didier: +2 fire wielding, right?

Chris Metzen: Yea!

[shared laughter]

So it was a strange expansion, but I think ultimately it came off really cool and I just like the way that it kind of pushed the world forward. You know, it's at that point with two core games and an expansion pack that we really started to feel like, "wow, this is really becoming this franchise kind of setting." I remember feeling very excited about that because you can start to see what might become of it down the road; and while it might be many years later that we would actually start specifically digging out what would become Warcraft III, I always thought that we had ventured into very fertile territory thematically. All of those tools were laying in the sand to be used.

Rob Pardo: I think one of the lessons though of Dark Portal is the importance of multi-player, because Dark Portal really didn't have any additions to the multi-player game. And if you look at Warcraft II compared to Warcraft I, it really was the multi-player that caused this huge explosion of game play, even though the world was obviously expanding too. But really once that competitive aspect came in with all of the gamers playing in Kali and Warcraft II, I think that really started expanding that genre and expanding the franchise quite a bit.

[ 10:41 ]
Karune: Definitely true. Also with Dark Portal, it seemed like that was the moment too where you realized the lore was going to get a lot bigger. How far in front did you guys plan as far as the lore and storyline? Was it something you were actively looking ahead to say, "these heroes are going to go down, these epic storylines…"?
Chris Metzen: Right. It is kind of funny on Beyond the Dark Portal. In between War I and War II, like I... it wasn't even my job at the time, but I kind of put a lot of [laughs] thought into some of the world stuff: the kingdoms and the races and kind of where it would go. At the time that we were doing Beyond the Dark Portal, I don't recall what I was doing. We were working on a number of weird... I remember Bloodlines, and...

Samwise Didier: I think you were working on Justice League Task Force?

Chris Metzen: That was before.

Samwise Didier: Oh, okay. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: Around this time Nick and I were digging out Bloodlines, or whatever the hell it was. We were working on a number of other projects that never came to light. And with the inclusion of the Saffire group, the kind of ideas, "well, we'll kind of let them run with it." I remember the time I'm like, "aggh! My baby!" I wasn't comfortable at all with people running with it, but it just kind of was what we were doing.

Samwise Didier: Doesn't share well with others. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: Yeah! You know, does NOT share well with others.

Rob Pardo: At least he's gotten a lot better about that over time.

Samwise Didier: Uh, a little...

[Group chuckle]

Chris Metzen: So, towards the middle of the project I think that was also a component. I think we had just been feeling like, "were we ready as a development team to let other people raise our kids?" I think we kind of felt – and Saffire is a cool group, I mean they came with a lot of flavor – but at the end of the day we had that reflex of "aggh, we can't not put our hands on it." So we drew parts of it back inside, but I learned my lesson. My lesson was, "you know what? No more, I want us to keep the kids at home, [laughs] raise them with some tender love and care, make sure we are planning out in advance and really thinking through where these franchises might go." So I think that was the moral of that story, which isn't to say anything bad about Saffire. They were awesome. But our burgeoning culture was developing at the time, too, and we realized over the years that we're just much better served handling things internally, you know, because we just care so much and it's hard to keep our hands off.

Rob Pardo: I think that lesson was really learned in Brood War though.

Chris Metzen: Yes, you know the continuity is amazing.

Samwise Didier: We understand we're jerks to work with, so...

Chris Metzen: We are.

Samwise Didier: ...We cut ourselves some slack!

[laughter]

Rob Pardo: So we decide to only be jerks to each other now.

Samwise Didier: Yeah!

Chris Metzen: Exactly, exactly.

[continued laughter]
[ 13:46 ]
Karune: Well, it seems like it worked out well for you guys. I mean, it led you guys to Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. And with that, it really opened up the RTS genre even further as far as story and game play. Especially being able to give players a twist of four different races, to be able to play multi-player really did become quite big during this time...
Samwise Didier: Heroes!
Karune: ...And you have, exactly, your RPG-type heroes also integrated into Warcraft III. So what was that like? I mean, each of you guys have a very different perspective. Everything really started booming at this point.
Samwise Didier: Well art-wise, we were working on the art in 3D which really allowed us to just kind of go crazy. We still had polygon counts and texture size, but we weren't limited to having to animate every single angle of the characters anymore like in our previous games. All we had to do was animate it once and it could run around in any direction you want it to. So, we were able to make more elaborate animations, make them quicker, and fix them. If there was an issue with it, we could fix it. We only had to fix one thing; whereas in previous games we'd have to fix every single angle that they were facing.

[ 16:17 ]
Karune: Was it tricky keeping the art style when jumping from 2D to 3D?
Samwise Didier: Nah, it was easy. It was actually even easier because you could iterate so quick. If you wanted something bigger, all you had to do was scale it up. If you wanted something to be smaller – which was never really the case– [laughter] You could do that as well. You could add twenty spikes on it, you could remove them. There wasn't as much labor-intensive art tweaking as the previous games. Now, we'd have to lower the polygon counts of things all the time and we did that sixteen, seventeen times. And that was kind of a pain in the butt, but other than that, art-wise you could just go crazy. It was awesome for us. That was the game we really pushed our style as well, where we started really being able to see those super-heroic proportions and the cool action poses. It was really the game that helped define what we wanted to do, at least with Warcraft.
[ 17:26 ]
Karune: And the cinematics in between mission to mission too seemed like it offered a lot of story-telling as well, right?
Chris Metzen: I remember as we came off of StarCraft and Brood War, we really hit this new paradigm where the story just came so much more to the foreground. Coming off StarCraft, even though the interface was kind of crude, essentially the story's playing out and there's these people talking through little windows and things. We found that depending on the context of the missions and the quality of the VO work, that people started to really care about certain characters in that franchise. We all felt that the single player story component of StarCraft and Brood War was a new level for us in terms of our game story telling in general and I think we all wanted to push those boundaries of War III as much as we could. So War III wound up being a much more cinematic game, a much more in-depth world. Four races, four giant campaigns, so we really had a lot of canvas to cover: world ideas, specific narrative plot ideas, and we were able to get a little bit deeper with our characters. I think we really just ran with it. I remember being really, really excited to get to dig into that level of detail on all these characters and histories. Really wanted to top what we had done with StarCraft and create a story that was much more immersive and potentially, I hope, more emotional ultimately, more satisfying ultimately. I don't know that the story's much better than StarCraft was, but I think the experiential component was much deeper from a game play standpoint.

Samwise Didier: That's where the tauren and night elves were developed.

Chris Metzen: Oh yeah, oh yeah. All sorts of crazy stuff.

Rob Pardo: Some of the things that we started doing in StarCraft, but we really started pushing in Brood War, was really trying to have the player experience the story as much as possible through the game mechanics and the mission design too. We really couldn't do a lot of the things with the editor that we wanted to be able to do, but we got some things in for Brood War and we really started experimenting with the idea of in-game staged events and trying to come up with really cool mission gimmicks that really aligned with what Chris was doing with the story. Once we got to Warcraft III, we pretty much got to make an editor that allowed us to do exactly what we wanted to do, which was try to connect people with those characters and with the missions, and marry those things right into what we wanted to do with a developing storyline. There would be a lot of times when me, Chris, and Sammy would be talking about different story elements and then trying to come up with a mission design that the player would play the story rather than just hear about it through the characters.

Chris Metzen: It wasn't all just talking heads. "I didn't remember that data bit, what's going on?" Just live it, play it.

Samwise Didier: We really fleshed out the world even in the sense of the non-playing characters. All the creeps, we came up with every kind of creep imaginable because one of the components was fighting against these and gaining experience. Well, we had to come up with different creeps for all the different tile sets. We didn't want to rehash, "oh, now on this tile set they have blue gnolls and red gnolls." I always was joking that I wanted to come up with the fifth army and have it based on the different creeps that we've made.

Rob Pardo: There 3D helped us a lot too because we got to scale and tint everything we wanted.

Samwise and Chris: Mhm, that's right, that's right.

Samwise Didier: Part of the reason why we had to make new art because a lot of the designers would need a new monster so they'd scale it up, which was ok, but then they'd tint it yellow. [laughter] Yellow! Which is the worst color in the world pretty much. So, we'd say "Okay, we'll come up and make them some new art."

Chris Metzen: Something New.

Rob Pardo: But never dwarven axemen though!

Samwise Didier: Nope, sorry about that Dean! If you hear this. [laughing]

Chris Metzen: But I remember that whole development phase we were just digging out all of these little subhuman races, just like Sam said, just for the creeps on the map. But, we were never content with that. We would come up with specific tribes and specific places they came from and specific leaders. It's kind of funny later on, much later on, as we were talking about doing World of Warcraft which I'm sure you'll get to. We just happened to have all these ideas already embedded in all these documents we had jammed out, and all these places and maps and this kind of continuity had all been mapped out for Warcraft III. And we were lucky to have all that. So as the button got pushed so, "well let's start thinking about building this out into a massively multi-player world." We already had so much of that DNA sussed out and ready to be encrypted.

Samwise Didier: Yeah, one of the cool things too is when we'd have new people starting up on the WoW team, they'd go, "oh, we've got to make, oh yeah! I know what those look like, I played Warcraft III. Crazy, they'd look like this except maybe you should have scaled that up a bit because it wasn't..."

Chris Metzen: Right, right. It was kind of that common visual language, right? We had done so much work on Warcraft III – more than is apparent in the final game – and I would argue the final game is fairly rich in terms of the world craft of it. We were stoked that we had such a deep well of concepts to run with in forging out the World of Warcraft specifically.
[ 18:27 ]
Karune: I'm sure some listeners are also thinking too, "so this is where the murloc was starting to be seen in creeps as well." How did he come about? [laughs]
Samwise Didier: The murloc was a hack of a ghoul model. Good job Roman!

Chris Metzen: Yep.

Samwise Didier: Basically, he took the existing ghoul model that we had and retextured it and threw in a kind of curved kookier-looking knife and changed the face to look a little bit more frog-like. In the WoW version it ended up being more fish-like. But the first ones were a little bit more of the toad-kin variety.

Chris Metzen: Mhm.

Samwise Didier: Not Tolkien! Toad-kin.

Chris Metzen: Toad, toad...

Rob Pardo: The thing is though that the murloc really didn't become the murloc I think until the sound effect in World of Warcraft.

All: Oh yeah, right.

Rob Pardo: Because the murloc was really not a big deal during Warcraft III. It was just another creep.

Samwise Didier: That's what I was saying. WoW really pushed it and gave it its more distinct look.

Chris Metzen: Right, mhm.

Rob Pardo: Well and the sound effect actually almost died a death many times in development because so many people complained about it. There's actually one time that I even had the sound department come up with an alternate sound effect and we put it in the game temporarily. And then everyone wanted the old one.

Chris Metzen: Wanted the old one, exactly. [laughing]

Rob Pardo: Yeah, so we put the old one back in and the legend of the murloc was born.

[ 23:36 ]
Samwise Didier: So do you stand by your decision Pardo to have the Blade Master's mirror image not do damage? Do you still stand by that?

Chris Metzen: Oh...

Rob Pardo: Oh here we go again. We're going to have this argument right here in the sound room.

[laughter]

Samwise Didier: I mean I think the game probably would have been way more popular if it did.

Rob Pardo: Hey Sam, I remember you actually finally came into my office...

Samwise Didier: I don't recall that at all.

[laughing]

Rob Pardo: ...And said that it was fine.

Chris Metzen: Plead the fifth man.

[laughing]

Rob Pardo: You were finally sold. I knew I should have recorded it back then.

[ 24:44 ]
Karune: So after the battle of the world tree – that was obviously a huge event from Reign of Chaos – I think as any player playing. Myself, I remember "how can Blizzard top this when they announced they were going to come out with Frozen Throne?" So when Frozen Throne came out obviously it pushed the whole Arthas storyline as well. Obviously it became very epic. It's interesting to talk about this now because with patch 3.3 coming about. It's really the progression of that story. What was that like coming up with that story for Frozen Throne; and also, were you already seeing it in the future where you could actually finish that story?
Rob Pardo: Hey I'm going to cut Chris off before he starts telling you this epic story...

Chris Metzen: [laughs]

Rob Pardo: ...Just because this fun little other note is that most people don't know there was actually a level that was going to come after night elf 7 in Reign of Chaos. Because we had that level, whereas a forty-five-minute holdout where of course, people know about it now that have played through where you have to defend Jaina, and then Thrall, and then finally the Night Elf base.

Samwise Didier: Spoiler!

[laughing]

Rob Pardo: Yeah, just in case you haven't played it seven years later. But after you finish that level there is actually another level at the end where it ended up being almost a two-hour mission. And the more we played it, the more we realized that god, after you got done with this mission where your knuckles are pretty much all white and you've been sweating the whole time, you don't want to go into this big slugfest of a mission. So rather than keep it, we actually cut the last mission of the game and peeled back and made night elf 7 the final mission.

Chris Metzen: I can't believe you just told the world that. What in the world?

Rob Pardo: [laughing]

Samwise Didier: That and the whole Blade Master thing. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: You know what? The list goes on and on.

Rob Pardo: Now I threw you all off. So, the Frozen Throne storyline...

Samwise Didier: You were talking about how cool Arthas is.

Chris Metzen: Exactly. But to answer the question, it's hard to remember exactly when we were jamming it all. It seems like a lifetime ago. I'm sure it does for all of us. I remember it was a tremendous amount of fun. Expansion sets usually are for us because we've learned our lessons in terms of the development, right? We know how the tools work, we know what design paradigms work, we know what's funnest to play, we know how much is too chatty for dialogue and stuff like that. Any number of things we've learned the kind of game we want to make through the original game and now we're ready to just light it on fire. We had a lot of energy and a lot of ideas rolling into the Frozen Throne and the continuation of Arthas' story, and the whole Lich King hook seemed pretty organic given where we ended up in the original game. The whole night elf, Burning Legion storyline had really resolved with some strong satisfaction. And really the big dangling plot thread was the Lich King and Arthas' curse and how far will that go. So it all seemed pretty organic and we wound up having pretty clever ways of weaving everyone else back in, like Illidan's quest to stop the Lich King's ascension. We had a lot of good hooks that were left dangling that we were able to activate on. But in terms of imagining where it would all go, by that time we were in development for World of Warcraft, but just figured it'd be years before we actually got there - it has been by the way - but it'd be years and years before we'd get to actual Lich King content in World of Warcraft. So I can tell you, I was just in our World of Warcraft dev. area the other day, and the modelers were showing me the actual Frozen Throne, showing the Lich King sitting on it. I was tripping out. I haven't seen anything in WoW in a few weeks and I was like, "wow, holy cow!" – sorry to rhyme. It's been seven years or something like that, again I can't tell time, but it really struck me and I'm like "wow!" The storyline is still going on and still compelling players and stuff like that, and it just trips me out that whatever was going on in those couple games that we developed had something going on that people wanted to take part of. It's so rewarding to see all that excitement translate to WoW especially with this patch, Fall of the Lich King, where it's all kind of coming down and resolving. It's really exciting and I don't think any of us would have imagined that all of these ideas would still be very energizing and still be moving and active. It's pretty cool.

Samwise Didier: You didn't plan for all that?

Chris Metzen: Yeah, right. [laughs]

Rob Pardo: Well, I do think it goes back to one of the things you were saying earlier, Chris, where you were talking about more work went into Warcraft III and Frozen Throne than it seemed on the surface, because we had the ability to put in more role-playing game elements into the game. And we developed all the different heroes, which really allowed us to develop the whole cast of characters and storylines that we weren't able to do really in the StarCraft franchise in the same way. So we have of course the main storylines, but even outside of that, we have all the off-shoot storylines with Varimathras and Sylvanas or all these other characters, Maiev or Illidan, and we still haven't got through all those storylines. If you think about it, we really haven't done much with all that Tyrande and Furion stuff still. There's still all these areas that we actually...

Samwise Didier: Rexxar.

Chris Metzen: Right.

Rob Pardo: ...Yeah! Rexxar, we put all this stuff into Warcraft III that we really still haven't developed entirely into World of Warcraft.

Samwise Didier: Pandaren wooo!

Chris Metzen: Right, there's still plenty of stuff waiting. That was one of the really interesting things about developing. It was kind of towards tail end of War III or mid-point of War III, definitely Frozen Throne, we were developing WoW at the same time– a lot of these things that we were doing at a campaign level on War III. I, and or we, kind of always had these kind of instincts for how things would slide over and be leveraged against the World of Warcraft experience. While we've always had a long-term plan for WoW, what a number of expansion sets would be – and it's flexed a bit over time – but yeah, there are still a lot of elements from original games that are playing out or have yet to play out in WoW. It's fun developing them concurrently. And now seeing some of that coming to resolution is really cool.

[ 25:10 ]
Karune: : At this time when there were tons of people playing also online in addition to the single-player experience for Warcraft III and they're still actually playing today. Did that take part in the amount of people who were actually playing online and the popularity of Warcraft in bringing that into the MMORPG genre? Taking a different jump into a different genre was obviously a huge step from something that had traditionally been an RTS franchise. What was that like, or how did you guys come to that decision?
Samwise Didier: I think it's like how Blizzard always does. We'll play a game that we really like, everyone was playing EQ and we go "god, how cool would it be to do like a World of Warcraft," just like we did when we were all playing Dune II and go "oh my God, what if this was in a fantasy world with orcs and knights?" We play a game and if we like it we always want to make our own version of it. I know that's kind of how everyone started thinking about it.

Rob Pardo: Yeah, and I think a lot of the thing with doing that, the question would be which franchise to use. I think there really never was a question. We could have done something with StarCraft, we could have done something with Diablo. But I can't remember a time we ever even argued it. It was clear that Warcraft was the right franchise to do a Massively Multi-player Role-Playing Game.

Samwise Didier: Hydralisk mage didn't seem as cool. Yeah...

Rob Pardo: Yeah, it wasn't quite there the same way. But we saw that opportunity and a lot of us played Everquest and before that Ultima Online quite a bit, and we just saw how much more fun it was to play a game that you had really deep social connections to people you played with. You were playing content together that you had to overcome night after night, but the problem was that those games really didn't make that content well accessible to a broader group of players. But, there is no reason why you couldn't. We knew that if we put in the Warcraft franchise and we kind of took all of the lessons we knew as gamers and game designers that we could really broaden out that fun and really make it accessible to our whole Blizzard audience that, previous to that, might not even have tried an MMO.

Chris Metzen: I think also that, like we were saying earlier, that Warcraft III had so much world detail built out. Event-wise, the orcs had founded their own homeland and we had met groups like the tauren and the trolls, and we had built out all of these spaces. Since we were really liking the idea of doing one of these big MMOs, Warcraft was easily the richest thing we were sitting on and it just made the most sense, because we had the most visibility on the kind of world it was and the conflicts that made the fiction engaging. And it was really kind of a no brainer in terms of translating all of those ideas into more of a virtual space.

Samwise Didier: Yeah, even the creeps, they are still making them. They had just recently done the forgotten ones and all that sort of stuff with Wrath of the Lich King. I wonder if there's any creatures that haven't been made with lots of polys and new textures and put into WoW that was leftovers. I wonder if there's any leftover ones.

Chris Metzen: I'm trying to think. I remember there are still a bunch of characters that we made for WoW itself that we haven't really leveraged the way we intended to leverage with all the story that we had planned.

Samwise Didier: The two headed ogre ninjas, yeah.

Chris Metzen: Yeah, they're silent but violent. [Laughing] Yeah, there's still a lot of pepper left in the tank.
[ 31:03 ]
Karune: So kind of related, I want to go back to the art question. How has that been like over the past fifteen years for Warcraft working in a 2D environment for art, and then jumping into a place where, after Warcraft III, they're telling you to create art for a whole entire world and still being able to develop that style, making sure that it translates into the game? Also, I think at various points you guys added a lot more pop culture references and a lot of Blizzard style humor into the game itself.
Samwise Didier: Well, the best thing about Warcraft is you can do anything you want. You want guns? Guns are in it. You want aliens from another planet? In it. Space traveling citadels? In it...

Chris Metzen: [laughing] That's right!

Samwise Didier: ...Werewolves? We got werewolves in it now. Cool.

Rob Pardo: Pandas.

Samwise Didier: Oh, we do have that in WoW? That's patch 201732-and-a-half.

Rob Pardo: He said in Warcraft. He didn't say the World of Warcraft.

Samwise Didier: Just in general, making art for the Warcraft IP is just awesome. Pretty much, if anyone says, "hey! I want to try doing this and combining..." "Go for it man!" Chances are it's going to end up looking awesome and the designers will make it play killer, and Metzen will work it into the lore somehow.

Chris Metzen: Somehow.

Samwise Didier: I trust you. [laughs]

[ 34:27 ]
Karune: Actually this brings me to my last question as well. With all of the universe really exploding now with so many different ways to get the story – having books and a movie right on the horizon as well – what's the next step for the Warcraft franchise?
Chris Metzen: Destruction. Pain. Heroism. Epicness.

Samwise Didier: [laughs] What about power and majesty? Is that working anywhere?

Chris Metzen: Power and majesty!
Karune: Maybe for some of the heroes and stories that you guys have talked about before that we haven't really touched, anything off the top?
Samwise Didier: Should we go over the new hero classes we want to put in? [laughs]

Chris Metzen: That's right. [more laughter] You mean like the tauren wind walker...

Samwise Didier: Yeah.

Chris Metzen: ...And the naga sea dweller and the goblin blackjack? None of those are real classes, guys.

Samwise Didier: The tauren bard.

Chris Metzen: The tauren bard, exactly, exactly.

Samwise Didier: Mooooooooooo!

Chris Metzen: You know I could say that for all of these years that WoW's been out, we've had a game plan for any number of expansion sets, right? In order to leverage a lot of these cool ideas we had even as far back as Warcraft III, and just ideas that had popped as the franchise had shaped itself since WoW's debut, you know just building WoW, we came up with all sorts of weird stuff that did not exist. Ahn'Qiraj and crazy old gods, well actually, we had old gods in Northrend in Frozen Throne...

Samwise Didier: That's right. [laughs]

Chris Metzen: ...Just all of these new ideas that popped the real nature of Outland, and what's going on up there in Naaru, and crazy crystal space ships, blah blah blah. But in so much as we had this plan for a sequence of expansion sets, newer, bolder ideas popped to the surface too. I can tell you the Cataclysm expansion set we announced wasn't necessarily part of the product plan four years ago. But as things moved and shifted in flight, we kind of got done with Northrend and felt how satisfying that was. It was just this idea that started to percolate, and you know what? We needed to do this now and I do not want to put it off because some of these other ideas can stand to come later right? But this one feels like the right chapter right now. There's not an iron clad plan. I think that there's room for flex, but I think that the stories and themes that we have yet to chase down just get increasingly epic. That's something that's just really fun and energizing about the franchise. Sky's the limit. Like Sam said, we can finally substantiate any fiction that we want to chase at some level – still a long ways to go in terms of the ideas that are waiting around the corner.

Rob Pardo: Well, I think it's fair to say that there's still stuff out there that's been in the lore that is going to make it into World of Warcraft one of these days, like the area of Nazjatar or the Emerald Dream. Those are not necessarily going to be in the expansion or the expansion after that, but we're eventually going to visit them and really explore that more.

Chris Metzen: Will we see actual titans one day. Will we ever get to the truth and origin of the old gods? There's all sorts of meta-themes that's all rich fertile ground and we will get there. It's just kind of fun gauging how and when.

Samwise Didier: The cool thing is that I don't know if there'll ever be an end to the story because as the WoW team grows, they're cultivating these new stories. As new people join the team, they have cool ideas and things to build off on it.

Chris Metzen: And ways of making you look at the content in different ways. We, as developers, have been dealing with these ideas for a long time. You tend to get a certain set of expectations about where you want it to go and how it should feel, but with all of the new blood on Team 2, which is the WoW team, as they come in.

Samwise Didier: Team 2!

Chris Metzen: I always loved this idea. Take a hard left. Wow, I never considered that. That's really bitching too. It keeps it honest, it keeps it fresh, it keeps us in a position where we need to relook at the franchise every once in a while and just shake off the old expectations and really look at in a way. Does it still feel vital? A game that's five years old, are these themes and these adventures still singing to people? Is it getting a little stale? So, maybe sometimes you need a little Cataclysm to shake things up. I don't mean that specifically.

[evil laughter]

Rob Pardo: Actually, I think Cataclysm's going to be a really interesting experiment on how we can story tell in WoW, because Cataclysm is going to make certain old content go away which really shakes up the paradigm of a static world, and all you can do is add new content that adds new chapters...

Chris Metzen: Right.

Rob Pardo: ...Where Cataclysm's going to offer us the opportunity to change the world and move it forward and make it dynamic, and it will be interesting to see how well that goes over with gamers, because if it is something that people really gravitate to it might give us a whole other avenue to explore the story of Warcraft.

Chris Metzen: Right, it keeps the wheel moving.
[ 35:49 ]
Karune: Looks like we'll have to save that for our next future episode of BlizzCast. And on that note, it looks like that wraps up all the time that we have. Thank you everyone for joining us for BlizzCast in being able to talk about the development of Warcraft.
Samwise Didier: Alright, Take it easy!

Rob Pardo: Thanks!

Chris Metzen: Have fun gaming!

[ 40:42 ]
Karune: Next up we have Nethaera to interview the World of Warcraft team about the next following five years of World of Warcraft.
[ 40:58 ]
BlizzCast #12: Warcraft Anniversary Special Part II Danielle Vanderlip "Nethaera" (Community Manager, World of Warcraft)
J. Allen Brack (Production Director - World of Warcraft), Tom Chilton (Game Director - World of Warcraft), Jeffrey Kaplan (Former Game Designer – World of Warcraft)
[ top ]
Nethaera: Welcome to part two of our Warcraft anniversary special. My name is Nethaera from the World of Warcraft community team. In this segment we'll be focusing on World of Warcraft and its five-year anniversary. Sitting across from me are production director J. Allen Brack, game director Tom Chilton, and former game director Jeff Kaplan, who as many of you know moved on to assist in the development of a new Blizzard Entertainment project earlier this year. Welcome back to BlizzCast gentlemen.
All: Thank you!

Jeffrey Kaplan: It's great to be here.

[ 41:20 ]
Nethaera: In our last segment, we talked with Chris Metzen and Samwise Didier as well as Rob Pardo a lot about the inception of the Warcraft franchise, which has become just a real-time strategy juggernaut featuring three separate titles, two expansion sets. How did a game with a real-time strategy platform suddenly seem to lend itself to the MMO market?
Tom Chilton: Well it was a juggernaut like you said. Juggernauts just make way for anything they want like MMOs.

J. Allen Brack: I think it was more the strong setting, and the strong story, and the strong lore. We have joked about a world of StarCraft, or other people have joked about a world of StarCraft. You can see a lot of story and lore in StarCraft so you can easily see how that could eventually become something like that, although that is not something we are currently working on.

[ 41:53 ]
Nethaera: Did it seem like a bit of a struggle though when you're considering the amount of fan-base that just loves the RTS element of Warcraft and the idea of translating that over to an MMO? The concern about: would it translate properly over to an MMO? Was that something that was difficult to juggle?
Tom Chilton: I don't think so personally. My feeling is that a strong story is a strong story. Strong characters are strong characters. Interesting conceptual game world is interesting regardless of what the particular genre is originally created in.
Nethaera: Mhm, sure.
J. Allen Brack: Warcraft III introduced the concept of the hero that you controlled with special spells, special abilities and could level up. It's a little bit of a one or two steps down the road of you controlling an individual character already.

[ 42:44 ]
Nethaera: Mhm, just a general evolution of the whole RTS from the beginning of Orcs & Humans where it was pretty straightforward storyline to the evolution. Jeff, you're quite well known for your experience as a gamer in earlier MMOs. What experiences helped shape your design philosophy for World of Warcraft; and what attracted you to the Warcraft franchise to begin with?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well, I think playing way too much of certain games really helped me have an understanding for what games were like for very hardcore players and what attracted them. Because I would try to invite friends to play with me who would go, "man you're crazy! I'll never play that game." It also gave me an understanding of what kept people away from games I liked and knew that I liked because I was very hardcore. So there's that. As far as what attracted me to Warcraft, it's just a beautiful world. I remember some of the early web journals that featured Brann before World of Warcraft came out and they had concept art of what was to become Stranglethorn Vale. And anybody looking at that, it was just an amazing setting that you could just imagine all sorts of great game play taking place. And then when it came to Warcraft III and we first started to see how beautiful Warcraft looked in 3D. And you even had that camera that you could roll in as close as possible. It's the last possible way a real RTS player would ever play.
Nethaera: Right.
Jeffrey Kaplan: An MMO geek like me, I'm like rolling the camera all the way in.
Nethaera: All the way in, right.
Jeffrey Kaplan: "Look they're destroying my base but it looks really cool! Imagine if I could play on the ground like that guy!"
Nethaera: Right.
Jeffrey Kaplan: That's kind of what WoW became.
[ 43:38 ]
Nethaera: So let's move things over to you Tom. You had previous development experience before teaming up with Blizzard Entertainment. What attracted you to World of Warcraft during its initial stage of development?
Tom Chilton: A lot of the same kind of stuff. Not only was it clear that the game world was going to be inviting and really interesting and capture the imagination, I also think that Blizzard had a reputation for great game play. And that was something that seemed like it would be really awesome to take part in and learn from and help contribute to.

[ 45:35 ]
Nethaera: So for you J., what brought you to World of Warcraft production; and how as producer have you seen the development process evolve over the years?
J. Allen Brack: I came to Blizzard from another game company. I actually just crossed my fifteen-year anniversary in the game industry and I have always been a big fan of Blizzard games ever since the first Warcraft. I played a lot of Warcraft over a null modem cable. I played a lot of Warcraft II. Just been a big Blizzard gamer fan for many years, so getting the opportunity to come work on World of Warcraft, which I was a player of before I worked on, was really a dream – really a dream job for me.

Tom Chilton: I played on a null modem cable too, Warcraft I. Good times. [laughter]
Nethaera: We used to have LAN parties where we'd just get everybody into one very small apartment and try to get everybody hooked up and working together.
All: Mhm, Yup.

[ 46:11 ]
Nethaera: So let's go back to something that we had discussed in the first segment, which was a bit more about the humor that is found in Warcaft. It's something that is integral to the world. It's a very serious story, but at the same times there are these touches of humor and I wanted to find out where a lot of those things in the pop culture really comes from in World of Warcraft. Obviously there's a very serious tale to be told, but these little touches of humor are things that the players really love to see and really enjoy. How do those come about and how do those evolve into World of Warcraft and work?
Tom Chilton: Well like Samwise says, we've got a whole bunch of class clowns that work at Blizzard, so that inevitably finds its way through.

J. Allen Brack: The geek mentality tends to be either the shy person who's a little socially awkward or the guy who's always trying to be seen and clowning it up.

[ 47:10 ]
Nethaera: Mhm. So when looking back on the early days of development, will you guys talk a bit about the direction you saw the game heading as well as some of the early decisions you had to make the game play and lore? Has it gone the direction based on those decisions made, or have there been some fundamental philosophy shifts that have happened of course? We're talking from the very beginning obviously.
Jeffrey Kaplan: From the beginning, I think the game stayed true to its core. Just to give you a couple examples, there was a philosophy around being able to reach maximum level in the game while soloing, that you shouldn't have to group. We thought grouping was something that should be encouraged but not necessarily forced. I think we've always stayed really true to that. We also wanted a heavily directed game play experience through quests. We wanted that to be the most rewarding way to play the game and I think we really stuck to that as well. We knew we wanted a strong PvP component. We knew we wanted a real strong PvE component with dungeons and raiding, and that all is still there today. I do think there has been a huge evolution though in a lot of minor systems, and probably evolution in terms of the level of accessibility to some of those activities in particular with raiding and PvP to try to draw more players into them.

Tom Chilton: Yeah, I definitely would agree with that. And our philosophy in terms of how we build end-game content has definitely evolved. So while the core philosophies of the game and how we approach it – easy to learn and hard to master and all that kind of stuff – still carry through. A lot of those philosophies for really how to execute on it have evolved.
Nethaera: Even though there has been the solo leveling end of things, there's still that group element as far as the multi-player goes as well.
Jeffrey Kaplan: Well the idea with groups for us was always just encourage it and reinforce it in every way possible, but don't go out of your way to let that be the only way to play the game. A lot of people are very intimidated about interacting with people who they don't know. So they'll get into an online world and suddenly feel just completely overwhelmed that they have to have this level of interaction that they're just not comfortable with. So we wanted the world to feel inviting and people could make progress without instantly having to go out and spam the general channel or whatever to find a group just to even progress a little ways into the game. And we knew if we had group activities in there and rewarded for them and encouraged that, that eventually as people became more comfortable they would sort of move over to that part of the game.

[ 48:10 ]
Nethaera: And we've obviously seen a large population that has come into World of Warcraft. Do you feel that that accessibility has made that possible, as far as getting all those people who've never tried an MMO before into the game, and continuing to progress and evolving on their own skills?
Tom Chilton: Nah, that's crazy talk.

[laughter]

Yeah definitely, that's easily one of the things you call out as being what expanded the MMO audience for WoW is the accessibility, being able to play solo, being able to play through without getting punished for death heavily, that sort of thing.

Jeffrey Kaplan: We spent a lot of time looking at why people didn't play other games or didn't even play our game when it was in Alpha and Beta. And looking at what were those walls that they'd run into where they'd just say "this game isn't for me," and then ask ourselves as a development team, "can we tear down some of those walls?" I think, to sort of reference what Tom was saying about the evolution of the endgame, the problem was at the time we couldn't iterate heavily on the endgame because there was no endgame and there were no players there and we were only making assumptions based on other games as to what our endgame might look like or be. But the WoW community formed in its own unique way and we had to react to them in our own special way and sort of change what World of Warcraft was all about over the years.

[ 51:01 ]
Nethaera: What do you guys think about the game's success; and why do you think it's been such a success?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Penguin pets for everyone.
Nethaera: Free pets.
J. Allen Brack: For sure.
Nethaera: And pony mounts for everybody.
Tom Chilton: Yeah. [laughter] Bright clown-colored outfits.

J. Allen Brack: You want to tell the Adham story, post-E3 Adham story? I think that's pretty good.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah! Okay, when WoW was in early development, we had this moment where we were going to show at our first E3 and it was a very scary time for the dev. team, and exciting at the same time, because you're kind of putting it out there and hoping there's a good reaction. We showed at that E3 and the game was received well, but there were other games that really did well and the press was talking about a lot. One in particular was Star Wars Galaxies, and they had this awesome movie that they showed and they won "Best of Show." Afterwards, we're kind of having this team meeting about, "what did you guys see at E3?" And there were some members of the development team that were kind of down a little bit and they were saying, "man I don't know, how can we compete with Star Wars? We all grew up with Star Wars and Everquest II's coming out and there's all of these great games coming out right now." And Allen Adham, who was one of the original founders of Blizzard and who was the lead designer on the project at the time, stood up in front of the team and said, "guys this game is going to have a million subscribers." And we were just blown away because most of the team was thinking if we could have in the ballpark of a couple hundred thousand subscribers, the game would be a great success. At that time, that's what a successful MMO did.
Nethaera: Right, at the time, nobody knew a number like a million subscribers.
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah, exactly. To have basically the leader of our company and our lead designer at the time stand up in front of the team who we all had tremendous faith in and say, "you guys are going to get a million subscribers, this game is that good," was kind of shocking to us. It was a great pep talk. And yet at the same time, after Allen left the room there was some of that, "is he crazy? A million? How are we ever going to do that?"
Nethaera: It's a daunting goal! [laughter]
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah, and I think it really speaks to Allen that five years later, or even more than five years later, he was right. And he was right many, many times over on that. He really had a vision for where it was going to go.

[ 52:40 ]
Nethaera: What challenges did the game face early on and how did you overcome them?
Jeffrey Kaplan: Early on, I'd say our biggest challenge was getting servers up fast enough and getting players onto servers fast enough. I don't think we were prepared for the sheer load that came into the game rapidly. We blew our entire reserve for an entire year of dark servers on the first day, on launch day, right away.
Nethaera: Right, nobody anticipated that kind of response to the launch of the game.
Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah, and we thought we were even cushioning, "well if this thing is really successful, we'll have this by the end of the year and it's going to put a lot of pressure on us." And within 20 minutes of launch having to figure out, "oh my God, how are we going to keep this thing running?" [laughter]
Nethaera: Right.
Tom Chilton: Because if you bear in mind that the million subscriber number that Allen even talked about, that was at its peak years down the line when World of Warcraft has grown to its maximum...
Nethaera: Right, pie in the sky, some day.
Tom Chilton: ...That's what we're talking about, not the "wow, almost there in the first couple weeks" kind of thing.

[ 55:21 ]
Nethaera: So with major villains we're going to move onto something else. With major villains from Warcraft's evolving storyline over the last fifteen years being challenged or defeated by players in World of Warcraft over the course of the initial release and two expansion sets, what direction do you see this game taking in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, our third expansion set, and beyond?
Tom Chilton: Well, you have more villains to kill, right? We've got Deathwing that we're bringing back who was a major character in previous Wacraft games. Deathwing's there. We've got other characters waiting in the wings like Azshara. There's still a lot of Warcraft characters to deal with, and then we also create new characters. We're not limited to Warcraft I, II, and III in terms of major characters. What happens is we also introduce them ourselves and grow them over time. You can look at characters like Tirion Fordring and things like that. While he's not a villain right now or anything, it's still an example of a major character that we've developed solely within World of Warcraft.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Onyxia, Nefarian, C'Thun.

[ 56:34 ]
Nethaera: Right. How do you address the people that feel they have played Warcraft III, they're very familiar with Arthas, of course Icecrown is coming up, they feel Arthas is it? How do you address that kind of feeling for those players? Because they're obviously very attached to him, they've lived through the story. Now they're going to get to face him, and yet there's this continuing story after him that I think is a little daunting for them to grasp and move on with.
Tom Chilton: Sure, I think that's always going to be the case. It's just like when you read through a novel and you get to the end of it and that's the end of that particular story. But that doesn't mean that if you are talking about a series of novels that there aren't more things that happen after that, that there aren't more interesting storylines to pick up. I think the story of Arthas is an awesome story and just like anything else, it will have its conclusion. I mean if it didn't have its conclusion, I think that it would always feel a bit empty. If you look at any popular fiction or television shows, there's a point at which where you drag it on so long that people lose interest because it kind of feels artificial. I think bringing it to a natural and really cool and epic conclusion is the right way to go about it.

[ 57:46 ]
Nethaera: It looks like we're out of time. I'd like to congratulate each of you on the work you've done to shape this franchise we've all come to love. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today.
All: Thanks!

[ 59:10 ]