Part two: Expansion, races. classes and the new Blizzard MMO discussed.
VideoGamer.com: What's your personal philosophy on the implementation of new classes and races? Is implementing a new race easier than a class because a new class can create so many problems for balance?
TC: I would say that's very true. It's easier from a game design perspective. It's generally harder from a production perspective. From the art, animations and that sort of thing, it's a lot more taxing on that side of it. We have to take that into consideration when we make that decision. With classes, it's a very 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.
VideoGamer.com: If you implemented a new class with each expansion?
TC: Right, exactly. 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.
VideoGamer.com: We saw the implementation of a new class with Wrath of the Lich King. Given what you've just said, is it unlikely that we'll see a new class in the next expansion?
TC: It makes it less likely. Not impossible – there may be a time when we do two classes back to back and maybe we'll do that. Maybe we won't. We'll just have to wait and see.
VideoGamer.com: Regarding new races, what possible new races are there left in the Warcraft universe that are suitable for being playable?
TC: There are a lot of them that we already know about that are creatures that are out there. I don't want to give away too many of the things that we have going on in our minds for different possibilities. But there are certainly possibilities that don't necessarily limit us to coming with completely new things that players will never have seen before. In fact one of the things that we learned from doing the draenei is that it's important to seed the race in the world. It was harder for players to ‘get’ the draenei thing because they kind of came out of nowhere. They'd been referred to in previous Warcraft games but nobody had really ever seen or dealt with them. So it was a little harder to do, whereas with Blood Elves it was a lot easier. What we learned from that is we do wherever possible want to seed that potential, even if it's in a small way. An example I could throw out there would be, in Blackwing Lair we had the drakonid race. We always looked at those and said, oh that would be a pretty cool player race - it would be cool to play as one of those guys. There's not a lot there as far as, where did they come from and what are they? But they are in the world and it wouldn't be completely inconceivable that a player would end up being able to play that, and we could continue to expand on the depth of that race and that sort of race.
VideoGamer.com: So it would be fair to say that there won't be any more aliens arriving in a spaceship?
TC: Yeah! It certainly could happen, but wherever possible we're going to try and make sure we introduce and pre-seed the races before we actually use them as player races.
VideoGamer.com: Another thing I asked you when we spoke last year was about the graphical issue. You mentioned then that Blizzard games tend not to be focused on graphics, more on gameplay. Does that mean that there will never be a need for a Warcraft sequel? Will you be able to make do by iterating on the game with expansions that slightly improve the graphics each time?
TC: I don't really know the answer to that yet. I don't feel like right now would necessarily be the right time to be creating a World of Warcraft 2. There may well be a day when that's the right thing to do. For now the right way to approach it is for us to continue doing that iterative improvement. And I also don't think that the right way to necessarily do it is with a big graphical overhaul expansion. Like we've talked about before we've seen other games do that and not do very well, because just making such a radical visual change to the game in the middle of its history, it's very hard to pull off.