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The QueueSep 19, 2016 11:00 am CT

The Queue: Mysterious Whisperwinds

Welcome back to The Queue, our daily Q&A feature for all of Blizzard’s games! Have a question for the Blizzard Watch staff? Leave it in the comments!


Is Drelanim Tyrande’s sister?

There’s no indication she’s Tyrande’s sister… but there’s no indication she isn’t, either. It’s a curious little mystery. She’s getting a lot of attention now because she has an active speaking role in Legion, but it isn’t actually our first time seeing her. She was hanging around in Warlords of Draenor, just chillin’ as part of Cordana Felsong’s retinue. She also made an appearance in … Warcraft 3, as one of the random name options if you made a Warden hero unit in multiplayer.

When those random Warcraft 3 names come up, it’s usually just a cute callback and no more significant than that, which is probably the explanation here. They may or may not have thought too much about her relationship to Tyrande, but just pulled names from the Warcraft 3 pool when adding Wardens beyond Maiev to the gameworld. She could be related to Tyrande, perhaps as close as a sibling or as distant as a multi-generaional cousin, or she could be someone who just happens to have the same last name and isn’t part of the same family at all, like two Smiths on opposite ends of the world.


Will there be a new leader for the Forsaken? Or will Sylvanas do both?

I’m sure Sylvanas will do both. Faction leaders have never given up leadership of their own race when rising to Warchief or whatever the Alliance equivalent is. Thrall was in charge of both the Horde and the Orcs. Nobody took over the Trolls during Vol’jin’s brief tenure. Varian Wrynn was King of Stormwind as well as the de facto man-in-charge of the Alliance as a whole.


Speaking purely from a game mechanics perspective, how important is it to collect every Pillar of Creation? I know you need the Tears of Elune for [spoiler redacted], but other than that? Could I afford to skip a Pillar or two on alts without crippling myself?

In the current game, they’re not that important mechanically as long as you hit Friendly with everyone to unlock World Quests. As far as I know, not having the Pillars doesn’t block you off from anything at all. However, that may not always be true. Given how integral they are to the story of Legion — acquiring them is our primary goal in the Broken Isles — they might be required to enter raids or dungeons later in the expansion.

You could skip them if you want, but honestly, the Artifact Power and similar things earned through the questing experience is pretty sweet. You could rely on World Quests for all of that, but there’s tons of it littered throughout the questing process. You could always work your way through it little by little.


With Metzen retired, who is going to give the opening speech at Blizzcon and rile the crowd up?

I’m not sure Blizzard has anyone quite like Metzen. Nobody is going to be a complete replacement for him. They have other charismatic people, but they’re charismatic in different ways. Hearthstone’s Ben Brode is a dynamo on stage, but he’s more of the lovable goofball charismatic. The WoW team has Dave Kosak (and I love you Dave), but he’s totally the standard nerd and not the unexpected rockstar image of Chris Metzen.

Many of the other WoW developers who come to mind, at least the ones who have been on stage at BlizzCon, either lack the bombastic charisma or come across as intensely uncomfortable on stage. Tom Chilton and Alex Afrasiabi, for example, strike me as two people who are on edge on stage and seriously do not want to be in front of thousands of people. I don’t know if this is just the way they are or a sort of defense mechanism in an uncomfortable situation, but they both have a habit of tossing vaguely insulting wisecracks at their players/fans, particularly during Q&A portions of panels. They make people feel bad to be Blizzard fans, judging by reactions on social media during their panel appearances. That’s not a good stage presence.

Afrasiabi in particular is the opposite of a hype man on stage — looking back on his overview of Legion’s zones, he seriously undersold some of the expansion’s best parts. Maybe the expansion wasn’t far enough in development at the time to hype some of these things, but the most he said about Suramar was introducing the Nightborne and saying we’d be killing all of them. Suramar seems like the high point of questing and storytelling in World of Warcraft and, from BlizzCon, all we knew about it is we’d mass murder elves. That made Suramar sound boring! That’s not hype.

I’m not saying these things because I dislike these guys. I don’t! They just don’t have Metzen’s presence — a dude who occasionally misspoke, but generally wanted to get people fired up, wanted to make them feel good not just about Blizzard’s games, but about themselves. I don’t think Blizzard has anybody else like that, but of their public-facing developers, Ben Brode probably comes closest.


Can any follower be a combat ally? So far I have 4 druid followers, but only two can be put in the Combat Ally slot. I want to bring Zen’tabra but she’s greyed out from that slot. I can bring the bear druid who’s a bodyguard, but “I am nature’s RAGE!!” isn’t as much fun as Zen’tabra’s voice lines. :-/

Sadly, no. Only select followers can be combat allies. I hoped King Ymiron would be a Combat Ally for Warriors because he looks cool, he’s more interesting than Generic Iron Dwarf, and I don’t really care for the Ulduar Crew. I’ve been using my Gal Pal Finna because the rest of them are just kinda lame.


Maybe I just missed it, because it happened around the same time as Metzen’s departure, but I find it odd that BW has yet to report that Craig Amai (lead quest designer on WoW) has stepped down too, no?

We had a long chat about whether or not to post about Craig Amai’s departure, but ultimately I think our conversation got derailed by our own mourning of his loss. (Not that he’s dead or anything.) Craig Amai was such a cool dude, and after Metzen’s retirement, seeing Craig leave as well was brutal. I don’t think he had nearly as much recognition in the community as people like Chris Metzen, or even any of the developers I listed in the BlizzCon question above, but he was still great. I’ve chit-chatted with him a couple times at BlizzCon and I know others have as well, and he struck me as someone who loved his work and was happy to hear from players. He struck me as an introverted version of Chris Metzen: An extremely creative dude who ultimately wanted to create stories and scenarios to bring joy to others. Chris wanted to pull everyone together and celebrate it with them, while Craig was happy to watch that love happen from afar.

I don’t know either of these guys personally so I don’t know if that last statement is true or not, but that was the impression I got from them.

It’s understandable to feel burnout after working on the same game for a decade, especially when you’re an intensely creative person — and that’s certainly what Craig Amai was/is. Given he worked on the game’s questing, which only got better and better with each expansion, and he had a leading role in Legion’s artifacts system, which undoubtedly took a lot out of his team … the man surely needs a break from it all.

After reading his blog post and seeing some of his followup tweets, it appears he isn’t necessarily leaving Blizzard as a whole. He might, but he might not. He’s definitely left the WoW team, though. It seems he’s on a sort of sabbatical — taking some time to explores the paths available to him, and he might settle on a path which takes him to another Blizzard title. Time will tell.


So is it safe to say that the stat squish was a complete failure since one expansion later were again running around with 2ish million HP?

I don’t think it was a failure so much as it’s something they’ll need to do repeatedly over the course of the game’s lifetime. If they’d never squished, we’d probably be looking at a HP in the hundreds of millions instead of the single digit millions. In a persistent MMORPG where one of the players’ primary goals is better and better loot, numbers will constantly be growing over time, and when that goes on long enough, the numbers are going to get crazy. It’s just a matter of how long it takes to get to that point.

A squish happened, it brought things under control for a few years, but numbers continue to grow and another squish is inevitable. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next expansion introduces another squish … and 4-6 years from now, we’ll probably get another one. It’s a necessary, periodic maintenance.

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