Legion Summit reveals new Illidan animated series Harbinger
On Tuesday, Blizzard Watch along with many other sites, were invited to Irvine, CA to a Legion Summit. Though no new information about the expansion was released, we did get to interview Blizzard staff about upcoming plans for World of Warcraft and get a sneak peak at an unannounced new animated series focusing on Illidan Stormrage, Harbingers.
In Harbingers, we saw the story of Illidan recruiting high elves in his fight against the invading demons. It focused on a young female high elf who had lost her family and became a willing recruit, but quickly questioned what they were giving up in their quest for vengeance. No date on when this will be released, though the normally vague “soon” seemed to be “very soon.”
After that screening, I sat down with John Haight, Production Director for WoW and Luis Barriga, Lead Game Designer for WoW. We talked about the efforts Blizzard have been focusing on to prevent overcrowding issues that plagued the beginning of Draenor. They have new sharding technology they are going to implement and test during the Legion prepatch events.
The sharding tech is designed not only to create new copies of areas to spread out players and prevent overcrowding, but to keep friends together by grouping people who see each other in the same shard. To accomplish this, the prepatch will be rolled out in phases so the tech can be tested gradually. Each phase will bring in waves of players that will stress the new sharding technology and allow Blizzard to adjust and prepare for the launch of Legion and the deluge of players that will arrive with it.
Another technological advance that is being worked on is dealing with crowding around important NPCs. We all remember Khadgar in front of the Dark Portal in the Blasted Lands at the beginning of Draenor. It was so impossible to click on him to advance the opening quests with all the mounted players stacked on him that Blizzard had to create an automatic dismounted field around him. Now they are taking things a step further. You will be able to see the outline of key quest NPCs through the clutter of other character models blocking your vision and click on that NPC despite what is blocking you.
I then sat down with Ion Hazzikostas, Lead Encounter Designer for WoW and J. Allen Brack, Production Director for WoW and VP of Blizzard Entertainment. We first talked about the pacing of patches in Legion. They are, of course, not happy with how the patch schedule of Draenor played out. For Legion, Brack said “we want to have more patches, we want to have different sized patches, we want to have more different sized kind of things we have in patches.”
One of their big regrets in Draenor with not getting out more patches was not being able to delve into more lore. Ion mentions in particular the Shadow Council in Shattrath and the nature of the Arakkoa that could have gotten more love if they hadn’t focused on moving toward the conclusion of the Draenor story. They don’t want to rush the story with the Broken Isles.
We also talked about the broken leveling system. Though there were recently strides made in fixing the 1-20 experience, zones quests still go green very quickly and heirlooms make running dungeons preferable to outdoor zones anyway. Ion pointed to the new zone scaling functionality in Legion as a possible solution. Zone scaling adjusts the level, difficulty and rewards of the zone you’re in so you’re not locked in to the level the zone has been preset to. So essentially the zone levels with you and you won’t outlevel it. They are going to keep an eye on it in Legion to see if it works out as planned and if it does, apply it to low level zones to see if it works there as well.
Finally, we asked them about updating Goblin and Worgen models. Unfortunately, while they would like to, it wasn’t high priority compared to other models needed to be made for Legion as well as new combat animations made for the expansion.
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