Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SPECULATION :: Into the West

Only semi-joking was I. Yoda impression extra was.

Tom Chilton's become Blizzard's Poster Boy in the past couple of weeks, with a slew of interviews at Gamescon, and the difficult task of answering the tough questions ('why was the Expansion so late' seems to have been the #1 squirmer of choice.) In his latest interview with Icy Veins, there are some interesting concepts that appear: the fact that it appears that there has been discussions regarding how lower level content could be altered to effectively 'homogonise' old quest areas, that the look of the game will continue to be improved over time (and presumably as resources allow.) For me, the line 'the garrison feature turned into a bigger thing than we expected it to be' is probably one of the largest understatements of the entire interview but it does bring home the point that pretty much this thing's been built since March despite being a clear idea from well before last year's Blizzcon. Oh yes, and talking of that, there's that tweet above from this line of interview:

Quality is the most important thing, so if we have to make a choice between getting you something two months ago or getting you a great expansion in November, the choice is obvious. I think we are in a better position now for the future, we already have zones in production for our next expansion. So, if things go well, there will be less of a gap

Now, I may joke about the fact we'd get a 'new' Expansion confirmed before the old one releases, but actually it is already happening. Mr Chilton has, in other interviews, alluded to areas players cannot yet visit that may well be available to them in the 'Multiverse' but at some later date. Keeping players in this Multiverse is, as we have discussed already, conducive to current and indeed possible future events. It makes perfect sense that if Warcraft is going to mirror stuff in the Movie that this foreshadowing also needs to be prepared well in advance, and that the player base need to be primed for maximum attention. Blizzcon is a PERFECT place at which to do this. There's been a year of Blizzard faffing while everyone got up to speed, and what is becoming apparent is that deliberately stage managing events is far easier as a means to ensure that you get what you want from circumstances than it ever was. That's probably a lot to do with why the 'Launch Event' was as frustrating to some players as it was enlightening to others.

A deliberate exercise in Stage Management.

What I suspect we're going to see a lot of in the weeks that follow is a simple mantra: 'assume your audience knows nothing.' Exposition is going to be the key, and although this may well frustrate many who have been listening to every scrap of news going since early December, it has an overriding benefit. Assuming your audience hasn't been paying attention and knows nothing means that you can deliberately focus on the positives: plot, features and changes. Blizzcon will, I suspect, act as an introduction to Warlords, explaining exactly what has changed and what you'll be able to do when the Expansion hits the following week, but at the same time there'll be some very deliberate foreshadowing of what is to come, and the announcement we won't be leaving the Multiverse for a while yet, because let's face it, there's so much we can now do 'for the first time' in the ALTERNATE Draenor.

Needless to say, you may not get to know the Big Bad for the NEXT Expansion at Blizzcon, but I can guarantee you'll be treated to plenty of hints as to where we're going next, and I'll put a small bag of gold we won't move out of the Multiverse to get there.

In for the Long Haul...? 

If I was selling the NEXT Expansion, this is how I'd do it. Got your tin-foil hats pushed on tight? Okay then, let's go: we've killed all of the Hellscreams in all of the flavours by the end of Warlords, but yet there's still a villain to pursue, one that we have discovered is capable of escaping through time to do so. Here we are, in a wonderfully rendered new World, and frankly as we're a pair of 'exploration and conquest as default' bunch of races, it would be rude not to further explore the Draenor we've discovered, and (most importantly of all) discover the OTHER ALTERNATE PLACES THIS DRAENOR HAS ACCESS TO. This conveniently makes us all ignore the Old World, which Blizzard can then either decide ceases to exist at some point in the future and replaces with a completely rebooted 'alternate' Azeroth for a future expansion, or chooses to completely update while we're away and uses as the basis as an old/new Continent as a selling point for yet another Expansion, depending on how people react to Nostalgia in the next three years.

Either way, Alternate is the new Expansion. Watch this space for further developments :D


VOiDProXy said...

I'm still going to go with a Warcraft 4 for this year's BlizzCon. :D
Great post, excellent writing :)

Bartosz Szafarz said...

my 10g is that Starcraft 2: Legacy of the Void is going to be the biggest thing this blizzcon. And probably Heroes of the Storm release date. I think it will be softer on WoW this time, but I hope they will rerelease Warcraft 1&2 for modern systems, which they apparently been working on as a side project. The WoD release and all the nostalgia of this expansion would be a perfect time for that.