World of Warcraft game director Tom Chilton has spoken at length with VideoGamer.com about the possibilities for the next expansion to the mammoth Blizzard MMO.
Chilton was speaking during the Warcraft Regional Finals 2009 tournament in Cologne, Germany, where 64 pro gamers battled it out for places at this August’s BlizzCon event.
He was also promoting the upcoming Call of the Crusade update (Patch 3.2), which will bring class changes, a new battleground and the ability to turn experience gain off.
Topics discussed included when the next expansion will release; new classes and races; and where it might be set.
Chilton said it’s “not likely” that the next expansion will be out 12 months after Wrath of the Lich King, which was released in May 2009; that there is room left in Azeroth for the expansion to be set; that because Blizzard doesn’t feel that it can support the pace of adding a new class with every single expansion, a new class in the next expansion is “less likely”; and that it wants to “introduce and pre-seed” new races before they’re used as player races in order to avoid a repeat situation experienced with the draenei, an alien race that was “harder for players to get” because “nobody had really ever seen or dealt with them” before they arrived with first expansion The Burning Crusade.
Here’s what he said on each topic:
On when the next expansion might be released: “We'd like to hit each calendar year somehow. Whether or not that actually happens in the near term I don't know yet. It's safe to say there will be more expansions for WoW. And it's safe to say that we have long term things that we're working on right now. They get players excited and give players a lot of new stuff to do all at once so it's really cool. Whether or not that actually happens a year from when Wrath of the Lich King came out, not likely! But we'll see. We're still trying to get it to the point where we're able to deliver them more quickly than we were before.”
On where the next expansion will be set: “I don't think it has to be anywhere completely foreign yet. There are parts of the map that we have left ambiguous and unexplored. There are parts of Eastern Kingdoms and Azeroth that haven't been filled out yet. Out there in the South Seas there are islands, there's out where the Maelstrom is. There's still quite a bit of land mass. We keep referring to the Emerald Dream, which is maybe not exactly in Azeroth but is sort of tied to it in some way or another. But there are definitely places in Azeroth itself that are close to home that haven't been filled out yet so there's more room for that sort of thing.”
On new classes: “It's a design driven approach as to whether or not we do a new class, because we don't feel that we can support the pace of adding a new class with every single expansion. We feel like we will dilute the classes too much if we do that. It will only be a couple of expansions before, I would say three, four expansions down the road, I would worry that our classes would become less distinct and interesting and the new stuff may not feel as cool. Or the classes would start to become more and more alike as we start to hybridise things more and more. I do think there are a limited number of classes the game can support with its level complexity. So we want to make sure that we choose wisely what the class is going to be and when it's introduced, and not kid ourselves into thinking that we can just keep shoving them into the game without making a mess of the game.”