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The Warlocks Den - WoW Warlock Discussions » Discussion Forums » World of Warcraft Discussion » Exclusive Interview with WoW Game Designer, Jeffrey Kaplan!

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Old August 06, 2004, 05:23 AM   #1 (permalink)

Exclusive Interview with WoW Game Designer, Jeffrey Kaplan!

The Safehouse, which most Rogues in EQ know as their class forum have been priveledged enough to have an exclusive tnterview with WoW Game Designer, Jeffrey Kaplan!
Quote:
Welcome to our second exclusive Safehouse interview. World of Warcraft is Blizzard's first MMORPG and a real legitimate Everquest killer. Once again, one of our own is behind the scenes making the games we love to play! Today we will speak with Jeffrey Kaplan, the rogue formally known as Tigole Bitties. He is well known around these parts and was kind enough to spend a few moments discussing his role as a Game Designer. Much love and thanks to Jeff, Gil and George at Blizzard for their time.
Q: How did you make the transition from cynical uber EQ junkie to getting a paycheck working on the hottest MMORPG around? What exactly do you do at Blizzard and what specific areas of the game do you focus on?

A: In EQ, I joined a guild called "Legacy of Steel" and eventually became an officer of that guild. Legacy of Steel was the top guild on the server I was playing on and one of the top guilds in the game, serverwide, but we didn't have a Web site. So, the guild leader at the time, Ariel, asked me to start posting Web updates, which I did. However, I soon found that just writing about the guild's most recent kills got boring, so I started branching out into other areas, including writing in-depth design suggestions.

I eventually became Legacy of Steel's guild leader because Ariel was becoming too busy at work, and during my tenure, I led the guild to a number of server firsts as well as a few serverwide firsts, seconds, and thirds. Ariel would still log in and play occasionally, though, and we would often chat about games. Well, as it turned out, Ariel was Rob Pardo, who is now the vice president of game design at Blizzard.

Eventually, World of Warcraft was unveiled, and the position of quest designer opened up. The job description matched my background perfectly: passion for games, experienced MMO player, Master's Degree in Creative Writing. Of couse, I applied, and after a rigorous series of interviews and tests, I was accepted on as one of the original two quest designers on World of Warcraft. As part of the design team, I quickly branched into other areas of world design, and I've worn many hats over the course of the game's development.

My current responsibilities involve working with artists, programmers, and spawn and spell designers to make our dungeons fun and challenging. Designing dungeon encounters is a blast. Because our dungeons are instanced, we can do a lot of really cool stuff. Anyone who has done the final boss encounter in Gnomeregan knows what I'm talking about.

Also, I've been doing a lot of work on the World of Warcraft endgame raid content. None of this content is in the beta. We're keeping it pretty secret for the time being, but I am extremely excited about eventually exposing players to the raid game in World of Warcraft.

Q: How does your experience playing EQ help you make a MMORPG? There is a lot of good and bad in EQ, is there any thing specific that has affected your vision for World of Warcraft? Yikes, I said the V word.

A: My experience with other MMO's proves invaluable to me daily in my job. It's always important to remember what makes gaming fun. It's equally important to remember what leaves a bad taste in a gamer's mouth. For example, I can remember the exact incident that caused me to quit a certain MMO and never log in again. As a designer on World of Warcraft, it's my responsibility to make sure that the same experience never happens to any of our players. As with anything in life, you're more apt to succeed with more experience. It would be impossible to design for an MMO without previous experience. It's such a unique gaming genre with unique problems to be solved.

Q: Every game that comes out manages to screw up the rogue class without fail. Please. Please. Help us out! What can we expect?

A: The World of Warcraft rogue is a blast to play. The combo-point combat system makes it a completely different combat experience from other classes in World of Warcraft. We're also very in tune with the rogue's primary roles in World of Warcraft. We want the rogue to be a high-damage dealer in melee combat, and we also want the rogue to be the master of stealth and deception. Also, our poison system is really fun. When all is said and done, the World of Warcraft rogue is going to rock.

Q: The game is huge already, are there any plans for expansion? Can players expect new free content every few months or an expansion pack?

A: Players can expect new content with live updates. As for an expansion, we have left ourselves plenty of areas to open up. The Warcraft world is enormous and well developed. But before we talk about expansion, let us ship the game first =)

Q: Will the game be available through a digital download using your version of the bit torrent system? Any perks planned for a special edition or beta testers?

A: We haven't yet finalized our launch and distribution plans for the game. There's a lot of work that goes into making those decisions as well, but for the most part they're handled outside of design--where my focus is.

Q: With a PvP server in beta, Blizzard has shown that pvp will be a part of the game and not an afterthought. This is a big draw for some people, what are the plans to maintain the balance between the PVE and PVP? Will PvP be balanced to a rock, paper, and scissors level?

A: That's the hope. We never really intended every class to be able to defeat every other class in a one-on-one duel. But, every class will have strengths and weaknesses against other classes. Every class needs a strong role in PvP *AND* PvE.

Q: Any plans for roleplay servers or premium servers? How much interaction will GMs have in day-to-day play? Will we see them wandering the world? Will they be manually running special events? Will there be such events purely for theme and story instead of reward?

A: I'm not sure about role-play servers or premium servers. The GM's will serve primarily as customer service representatives. We plan to have special world events, but those will be automated by our content designers and not run by our GM staff.

Q: Talents just came out last push for warriors & mages will you have a hand in the rogue talents? Is there a "rogue" guy? Who is he?! What can we expect for rogue talents?

A: Actually, the designer who is implementing the talents shares an office with me. So like it or not, my opinions on rogue talents shall be known! We have one designer whose primary role is class spell and ability design. He worked closely with Rob Pardo to design the rogue in its current form.

From the very beginning, I've been a very vocal party when it comes to the rogue's abilities. But, I would hate to take credit for other people's work. We have a ton of talented people here, and it's been an absolute pleasure and honor working with them on this game.

Q: Hero classes have been mentioned but not much info has come out about them. Instead of epic weapons or armor, it seems that there will be an epic subclass? Will this be another lame time sink to keep players hanging on or a truly rewarding end game experience?

A: Hero-class design is still being iterated on right now. Since we're still actively balancing the classes, it's hard to give definite, concrete answers on this one. If I had to vote on lame time sink or rewarding end-game experience, though, I'd cast my vote toward rewarding end-game experience =P

Q: Anything I missed or something on your mind?

A: There's always something on my mind. I once told my girlfriend I was stressed out. She asked why. I said that we were under a lot of pressure at work. She said, Don't you talk about orcs all day? I realized I have the best job in the world. I felt better after that.
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Old August 06, 2004, 11:39 AM   #2 (permalink)

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boscolio
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Guild: Dark Echo
Exclusive Interview with WoW Game Designer, Jeffrey Kaplan!

heh, this was fun to read. i never knew the background behind Kaplan
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