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AMA - Former WOW developers Kevin Jordan (classes and spells), John Staats (dungeons and instants), David Ray (database, Wowedit, tools)

Are you still playing the game and if so what are changes in the game you liked and disliked since you left the team.
I only play occasionally, I haven't played in about 3 months. I stopped playing regularly after WoD. For me, I miss the Talent Tree.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Have any of you been approached to help on the upcoming WOW Classic project?
I have not. However, I did just start looking for a new job, so the possibility exists, but I think it's unlikely.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

AMA - Former WOW developers Kevin Jordan (classes and spells), John Staats (dungeons and instants), David Ray (database, Wowedit, tools)

instances*

Hi !

We are excited to be hosting this AMA with the original World of Warcraft developers Johnathan Staats, author of the World of Warcraft Diary, David Ray and Kevin Jordan !
 
  • John Staats (whenitsready) was the first Level Designer on World of Warcraft. From Vanilla to Wrath of the Lich King, he notably built famous instances such as Molten Core, Ahn'Qiraj, Scholomance, and so on.
  • David Ray (SecretPyaray) was the Senior Tool & Database Programmer for Vanilla and The Burning Crusade. He worked on the database... (Full text here)
Hello everyone! :)

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Out of the things you created or worked on, what’s one that didn’t make the game that you wish had?
I wanted "Guild Castles." It was an expensive, pie-in-the-sky (probably ill-thought-out) idea of guilds competing for real-world real estate, bragging rights to lord over the other guilds. Probably no functionality, maybe cheaper repair NPCs or something. I guessed guilds could compete via PvP events or server-firsts in raid progression. They'd fly their own colors on them for each patch, when ownership was wiped.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Are you still playing the game and if so what are changes in the game you liked and disliked since you left the team.
I'm afraid I am not. I don't play any computer game due to a problem with my hands. :\

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Dear John, David and Kevin,

(Btw, Kevin, my first world epic in vanilla was Staff of Jordan - thanks!)

Thanks so much for taking your time to be here to talk about everything and nothing! I have a few questions up my sleeve that I have been wondering about throughout the years! I'm sure you don't have time to answer all of them, but I thought to better ask one question too many than one too few:
  • Do you know which scripting language was (is?) to script encounters? Could it be LUA because of its low-memory footprint?
  • If you get outside the Deadmines instance map, you see several Dalaran-like domes beneath an area of the world, anyone remember what they might have been used to test/try?
  • John, some of my absolute all time favorite zones are Molten Core and Naxxramas. Any cool things hidden inside not intended to be found? (Like the inscription in AQ40)? And are there other places which might contain these interesting small invisible gems?
  • In va... (Full text here)
For vanilla, (as far as I can remember) there wasn't a scripting language for encounters, they had this event system that when certain types of things happened they could trigger other things happening, but it wasn't really a language.
GodTool was mostly about chatting, inventory, quests, and logs. What you describe about the GM walking away probably was an actual in game avatar, and not a GodTool thing. At least when I was there, when you logged your character in using GodTool it immediately turned you invisible and teleported you to GM island. You had to have an in game avatar to be able to chat, but GodTool didn't have any graphics in it, so you couldn't really walk around the world. It looked way more like something from "World Of Spreadsheets" than a game.
I don't know who made the various islands. But the purpose of GM isle, was to have a place where all the invisible avatars of the GM's could be, while they chatted with the players, so they were out of the way of the game. They could also summon players there, to force them to pay attention, because there was no way off the island. Until it became a thing to try and see the island, and people were intentionally misbehaving to try and see it. Developer island was a place where we could create NPC's, and summon things, and use powers without players being able to see it. It was a necessity because in the early days we kept finding bugs that couldn't be reproduced on dev servers, they would only happen in live. So we needed a place to test bugs and things that would be away from the public, and were isolated so if we really messed things up it wouldn't affect the players.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Are you still playing the game and if so what are changes in the game you liked and disliked since you left the team.
I haven't played recently. I did play the game last year. I made a new account and leveled a human paladin from level 1 to max level.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Would love to see vanilla wow be implemented like old school RuneScape.
Will you guys be on the team developing and maintaining it? How excited are you for Vanilla's return?
I won't be on the team, I doubt any old devs will be. Because of an issue with my hands, I don't play computer games, so I'll likely not play.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

David, as we have seen on the WoW Classic update, back in the day, the databases weren't normalized. How much did that affect developpement? Was it hard to maintain?
Some of the databases were normalized. It depended on what was needed. Back then (32 bit days) normalization cost a lot of memory, and performance. But not normalizing meant that there were limits on how much data we could have. So each relational piece of data was thought about, and we considered whether it should be normalized or not. Performance & memory were huge factors. If we felt that it didn't need to be normalized, we usually would not.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

I'd be interested to hear about how warrior ended up with three different 30 minute cooldowns! It always felt so horrible if you accidentally hit one of them and wasted such a powerful ability.
LOL. I didn't know that. I suppose with great powers, comes great cooldowns.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Out of the things you created or worked on, what’s one that didn’t make the game that you wish had?
I pitched a Morale system for raids and dungeon boss fights for two different expansions that didn't make it in. It was essentially a metric for how the raid was doing and would help tell players what to expect from the boss and possibly how to play:
Low Morale: Boss will use his nastiest abilities here. Hover your fingers over your defensive cooldowns.
Normal Morale: Business as usual.
High Morale: Boss is on the back foot, be aggressive and use your DPS cooldowns to better effect.
That's the simple version, anyway. :)

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

What is one thing you wish they didn't remove in the game?
In Vanilla? I with leveling took more time, but I'm not a casual player. I enjoyed zoning out and just stupidly killing mobs for XP. I enjoyed it, in a zen sort of way. I capped and felt compelled to raid raid raid...which, admittedly, I enjoyed immensely.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Did you have any other concepts for classes besides the necromancer pre wotlk?
FailureAndAnalysis
I'd love to hear Kevin's answer for this too. He was "in the room" for this one, big time.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Whenitsready What rooms were a part of the mini dungeon for the scholomance before it got turned into an instance?
SecretPyaray Who wrote the message 'HELP!'' On a mountain top?
FailureAndAnalysis Was eye of the beast really that hard to implement?
BONUS; What faction, race and class where you?
Who wrote the message 'HELP!'' On a mountain top?
I don't know, I would guess one of the world designers. They wrote all kinds of funny things all over the world, at one points we did a flyover to see if anything "needed" to be erased, I remember there was at least one... It was common for them to write "notes" directly onto the terrain while they were designing an area. Like "swamp here", or "desert", and stuff. Usually they didn't check that stuff in, so it wouldn't have ended up in the released game.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

What is something that you like about current WoW?
What is something you dislike about current WoW? :D
<< Dunno about current WoW. I guess I like that people are still playing it.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

I have not. However, I did just start looking for a new job, so the possibility exists, but I think it's unlikely.
Nope. They wouldn't need 3D level designers anyway. :P

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

What is something that you like about current WoW?
What is something you dislike about current WoW? :D
Wow, the open ended questions are tough to tackle in a short time. Here goes nothing:
I think the focus has changed a little in the current game to more game and less social. When we were originally laying out the framework, we always felt that we needed to create a great game to get people in but great social systems to keep them after the game got older. Come for the game, stay for the community.
The current WoW, in my opinion, is pushing game much harder and the game isn't as social anymore. Well, for anyone that isn't already established in their social groups. I see this as a natural progression for many of the devs (who have established social groups) but it doesn't accommodate the player jumping in for the first time and playing alone.
Note that the change in focus isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there is a cost to either way you choose.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Wow, the open ended questions are tough to tackle in a short time. Here goes nothing:
I think the focus has changed a little in the current game to more game and less social. When we were originally laying out the framework, we always felt that we needed to create a great game to get people in but great social systems to keep them after the game got older. Come for the game, stay for the community.
The current WoW, in my opinion, is pushing game much harder and the game isn't as social anymore. Well, for anyone that isn't already established in their social groups. I see this as a natural progression for many of the devs (who have established social groups) but it doesn't accommodate the player jumping in for the first time and playing alone.
Note that the change in focus isn't necessarily a bad thing, but there is a cost to either way you choose.
WoW has gotten SOOOOOO much better at telling a story, especially for the individual. Private instancing where you interact with big name NPCs in historic ways being a great example. So amazing!

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Thanks for doing this AMA friends! Question for any and all of you cool cats: What's your most memorable fuck up or "oh shit" moment from back in the day?
I wrote the server side code for area exploration. I asked the designers how many explorable areas they needed, and they told me they shouldn't need more than 64. Obviously there is more than that. I upped it to I think 512. And they were stored as bits. But I stupidly didn't put bounding checks on the bit array. The next field after the exploration was money... So, once they exceeded 512 zones to explore, you would walk into this one zone and suddenly you have 128 gold. If you spent the money, well then the zone wasn't explored anymore, and you could walk into the zone again and "explore it" again, and get another 128 gold, rinse, repeat. Yeah, that was my biggest one...

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Thank you for doing this :).
What was your most memorable, and or favourite, technical achievement during development? And what was the engine like to work with?
Back when I was there, the engine was complicated, but very well architected. my favorite "technical achievement" would have been when I wrote the quest log. This is back when our servers were 32 bit, so memory was a premium. The entire quest log for the character was stored in 300 bytes, not the history, just the active quests. I was pretty proud of that.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

How did you come up with Thunderfury?
Ohh! I talk about this in my book (SPOILERS--LOL). It used to be just a garden variety scimitar. That's the way it was going to be shipped. One of the artists, Carlo Arellano, came across Alex Afrasaibi's story he wrote about this insane weapon. I think it was just something he was pitching to people. Anyway, the asset was just an unremarkable scimitar. Carlo took it upon himself to learn particle fx in 3D S Max (a 3D art program) and designed and built the current version.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Did you have any other concepts for classes besides the necromancer pre wotlk?
Our original goal for the 9 classes we settled on was to bring in all the hero classes from the Warcraft RTS games. We also wanted them to be open ended concepts so that various races could attach to it and make it their own. For example, we didn't set out to make the Dwarven Mountain King, Tauren Chieftain and Orc Berserker. We made the Warrior, so that any of those could become a reality based on other choices made by the player (race, weapons, etc., note that this was before talents were dreamed up).
After we had the basics covered, we also wanted to have a freak class that was unusual and different from the standard RPG tropes. It came down to two choices. The Warlock and the Runemaster. Warlock KO'd Runemaster! :P

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

John Staats
  • I've heard the design of Molten Core was fairly rushed due to time constraints. With unlimited time and no technical constraints what would you have liked to improve?
David Ray
  • What was the most challenging feature/task you worked on?
  • Technologies, especially cloud services, have come a long way since 2004. Is there any specific technology or service you would have killed for back then?
Kevin Jordan
  • What spell/ability/system were you most proud of working on?
  • The game systems and the way the game is played has changed a LOT since those days. For example, hybrid specs becoming more viable in end game. Knowing what we know now, what system would you most like to change if you had a time machine?
David Ray
What was the most challenging feature/task you worked on?Technologies, especially cloud services, have come a long way since 2004. Is there any specific technology or service you would have killed for back then?
As I've mentioned in previous replies, we were 32 bit back then on the servers. I would have killed for 64 bit servers. The memory constraints were tough.
I'd probably give different answers based on the day of the week you ask me, but right now I'd say challenging wise, the thing we called "ground effects". As you run around the world you see little flowers and grass and stuff like that on the ground. We couldn't spend the time or memory to place all of those. So we came up with this system that would psuedo-random place flowers and stuff on the ground based on what the dominant texture was on the ground. So for each little square of terrain, we had to calculate what the dominant texture was for that square, because the terrain was painted with a blend of textures, but the dominant texture would define what flowers and fluff was on the ground. Figuring that out and making it look good was a huge technical challenge. I should point out, this is not something I did on my own, the graphics guys were very involved in this. My main responsibility in this was on the tools side, generating the data for them to use.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Dear John, David and Kevin,

(Btw, Kevin, my first world epic in vanilla was Staff of Jordan - thanks!)

Thanks so much for taking your time to be here to talk about everything and nothing! I have a few questions up my sleeve that I have been wondering about throughout the years! I'm sure you don't have time to answer all of them, but I thought to better ask one question too many than one too few:
  • Do you know which scripting language was (is?) to script encounters? Could it be LUA because of its low-memory footprint?
  • If you get outside the Deadmines instance map, you see several Dalaran-like domes beneath an area of the world, anyone remember what they might have been used to test/try?
  • John, some of my absolute all time favorite zones are Molten Core and Naxxramas. Any cool things hidden inside not intended to be found? (Like the inscription in AQ40)? And are there other places which might contain these interesting small invisible gems?
  • In va... (Full text here)
I think LUA was the scripting language for complex stuff like the Onyxia fight (it was Geoff Goodman's job to do most of the complex stuff). Possibly SecretPyaray) or FailureAndAnalysis may correct me on this, but 99% of just just wowedit scripting.
The Dalaran Domes were just probably large objects used as visual placeholders, or used for scale.
No Easter Eggs that I was aware of, although I placed the runes expecting the game designers to incorporate them into the fights. They were "active props" but no one thought of anything cool. I suppose a missing bit of trivia could be that the Lava Hounds and Golomag's areas were once connected by a thin hallway. Jeff wanted to "gate" the fire gear, so removing the connecting passage made the dungeon tougher.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

On behalf of user PregnantOrc :
For Kevin mainly: My favorite old spell has to be Starshards. One of the old night elf priest racials. It was a channeled spell that hit four times and did more damage with each hit. It also dealt arcane damage which was not part of the normal Priest toolkit. It is such a unique spell.
It alone makes me want to ask:
  • The only other ramping spell I can think of is the current Agony spell for warlocks. What are the pitfalls of ramping spells?
  • What is the strangest or most interesting spell that didn't make it into the game that you have made/planned but had to scrap and why?
Starshards came straight from Warcraft 3. That spell was a MONSTER in that game, and pretty beloved so we knew it had to make it in at some point.
The core problem with ramping spells that are channeled (you stay in one place for a while) is that they aren't very interactive during that time. We didn't want channeling to be over used in the game because it made your experience too static. No movement and one button press every 8 seconds is far from ideal. :P
Ramping spells also have trouble scaling from solo fight to raid boss and with action bar space so precious as the game ages, the spells you make really have to be flawless to make it in.

The strangest spell I pitched a couple different times was one I called Heroes Feast. It was a mage spell that worked like his group teleports but it took the whole group/raid to a giant banquet hall where tons of food and drink was laid out and everyone could sit down and chill for a bit before going back to where they came from. And oh yeah, it was usable during combat. :P
Obviously, the spell was fraught with potential problems but I loved the concept of a mass break for everyone to refresh, catch their breath and talk strategy before being tossed back in.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

http://images.eurogamer.net/assets/articles//a/6/9/5/8/5/8/ss_preview_3.jpg.jpgI found this image of an area in Elwynn Forest, that I am not able to recognize from the released game.I have heard before that Elwynn and Westfall were some of the earliest zones made, and was wonderingwhether the entire Elwynn Forest was remade since this image was taken.
Also why was the water changed to be flat with a texture instead of the one we can see in old trailers where the water actually has waves? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnM1q6lpOUY at 0:41
Given the menu bar across the bottom, almost certainly that entire zone was redone twice since then. My guess is that's the fishing dock in Goldshire, but that's just a guess.
As for the water, I wasn't really involved with that, but if I recall correctly it goes back to the thing I've mentioned a few times already, 32 and 16 bit computers. When WoW first shipped, it would run on Windows 98, in 16 bit. I think it was killed because it would have upped our min spec a lot, for something that didn't add very much to the game. It looked great, but it was just too expensive. We had a few of those kinds of things.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

What’s better, vanilla or modern wow?
Well, my ego says it was best when I worked there, up to Burning Crusade. But in the interest of political correctness, I'll say it depends on your personal preference.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Dear John, David and Kevin,

(Btw, Kevin, my first world epic in vanilla was Staff of Jordan - thanks!)

Thanks so much for taking your time to be here to talk about everything and nothing! I have a few questions up my sleeve that I have been wondering about throughout the years! I'm sure you don't have time to answer all of them, but I thought to better ask one question too many than one too few:
  • Do you know which scripting language was (is?) to script encounters? Could it be LUA because of its low-memory footprint?
  • If you get outside the Deadmines instance map, you see several Dalaran-like domes beneath an area of the world, anyone remember what they might have been used to test/try?
  • John, some of my absolute all time favorite zones are Molten Core and Naxxramas. Any cool things hidden inside not intended to be found? (Like the inscription in AQ40)? And are there other places which might contain these interesting small invisible gems?
  • In va... (Full text here)
I didn't know about the gnome city at all. I've never heard of this.
Yes, GM's used the godtool to get around and whisper. I'm sure they moved very fast, could restore gear, reposition players. I suppose SecretPyaray could answer this better...I'm not sure if he should. All I know, he built TONS of security features so that GMs couldn't abuse it.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

I remember hearing talk about actual "hero classes" that would be available after level 60, almost like a specialization of your current class with a new talent tree becoming available or something. Was this concept ever actually discusses or was it pure rumor?

I also remember hearing about the possibility of getting race specific weapons ( I'm still waiting for tauren to have totems) either after reaching level 60, or with "hero classes". Was that ever actually on the table?

Thanks!
Yes, we did discuss this. Talents ended up accomplishing most of the goals we wanted out of the Hero Class idea (specialization, identity etc...) so it ended up supplanting the idea for the short term. They remained on my mind for a long time though. People being able to plant their flag and say I am this specific thing from the warcraft lore was very compelling to me. We ended up with more classes instead (DK, Demon Hunter, Monk).

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Oh, you were one of the Wildstar guys, right? Sorry to hear about the game. Are you looking for anything specific in your next job (like AAA vs indie)?
I was, although technically still am. I'm still at the company until the lights go out. Most of my colleagues were not so lucky.
I'm looking at all kinds of things, I do have a passion for casual games, although my skill set these days is pushing me towards servers.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Does the thought of going back to work Classic appeal to you?
Might be worth reaching out to some contacts there if so, your skill set seems to match with the issues Hazzikostas and Brack thought would make the project difficult (updating to work in modern infrastructure).
current blizzard openings!
I am talking to Blizzard recruiters, but I don't know. I prefer smaller companies these days.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Dear John, David and Kevin,

(Btw, Kevin, my first world epic in vanilla was Staff of Jordan - thanks!)

Thanks so much for taking your time to be here to talk about everything and nothing! I have a few questions up my sleeve that I have been wondering about throughout the years! I'm sure you don't have time to answer all of them, but I thought to better ask one question too many than one too few:
  • Do you know which scripting language was (is?) to script encounters? Could it be LUA because of its low-memory footprint?
  • If you get outside the Deadmines instance map, you see several Dalaran-like domes beneath an area of the world, anyone remember what they might have been used to test/try?
  • John, some of my absolute all time favorite zones are Molten Core and Naxxramas. Any cool things hidden inside not intended to be found? (Like the inscription in AQ40)? And are there other places which might contain these interesting small invisible gems?
  • In va... (Full text here)
Checkered cubes were probably nodes for logic. Relays, switches, triggers for events. It could have been an incoporeal NPC announcing the play-by-play or any number of things.
Those islands were all testing areas. When one became too buggy, someone would just create a new island I suppose. :P

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

is this similar to how the Deadly Boss Mods work(information given for boss mechanics) or would this actually be dynamic and change each time a boss was fought?
There's been some boss fights where the boss will take extra damage in certain phases or less damage/immune in certain phases. In the current raid for example, the first boss Taloc has a phase where he powers down and takes 99% less damage and the raid is supposed to focus down adds.
I did envision it helping combat some of the "DBM required" stigma the game was acquiring. I wanted players to have a better understanding of where they stood and what "phase" the boss was in so they didn't need a mod to spoil it. It wasn't ever going to replace DBM though as people tend to want to win more than they want to explore. :P
Yes, the system was intended to be flexible and work differently based on boss. Different fights have different needs so you could adjust the system as necessary.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

Is a continent like the Eastern Kingdoms a continuous land mass or is it comprised of smaller regions (e.g., zones) that can be loaded independently? How would multiple designers work on the same continent at once? e.g., someone building Duskwood while someone else is working on Searing Gorge.
It's one continuous map, but the server technology allowed for a single server to only load part of the map, and then another server the next part, and you could seamlessly run across the server boundaries, and would only notice if one of the servers had more lag than the other...

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

How do the various tools work together to create the world that we know?
John has mentioned that dungeons and raids were designed in 3D Studio Max. Are outside structures like inns, houses, and shops also created in 3DSM or are they created with Wowedit? How about dungeons like the Scarlet Monestary where there is a mix of enclosed dungeon structure and also an open sky, grass, fountains, etc. -- is that a mix of Wowedit and 3DSM?
Yes, it's a mix. Buildings and structures were all 3DSM, and terrain was WOWEdit, and the models were placed on the terrain. Scarlet Monastery, and zones like it, were terrain with buildings set on top of it.

SecretPyaray (David Ray - Tools & Database) (link to comment)

Would love to see vanilla wow be implemented like old school RuneScape.
Will you guys be on the team developing and maintaining it? How excited are you for Vanilla's return?
Yeah, I won't be on the team either. I'm excited that people are excited. I hope people can really connect with the joy they experienced in the early game and some players can experience it for the first time. That makes me happy.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

  • How would you describe the difference in design philosophy, back then vs. now, when it comes to class/spec spells and abilities?
  • Do you think it has improved on all fronts or do you think some things could have been done differently?
  • How did you come up with for example aura animations for paladins? They are simple, yet so extremely iconic.
The thing that has changed the most is probably "the audience." Players learn how to play faster and the discover different "preferences," and ask for different things as the years go past. I think it's mostly improved, but I don't think it's a matter of just improving, it's just different. It's like one set of preferences isn't necessarily better than another.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

Was there ever any plans to include the uncorrupted Ashbringer in WoW?
I don't think anyone had any idea what this was in Vanilla WoW...I'm not entire sure I understand the question.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

I'd be interested to hear about how warrior ended up with three different 30 minute cooldowns! It always felt so horrible if you accidentally hit one of them and wasted such a powerful ability.
Cooldowns were always a tricky thing. We wanted some abilities to be crazy powerful (iconic D&D Paladin Lay on Hands) but it was tough to define our threshold for maximum cooldown. Everquest had a 24h cooldown on that ability if I remember right and I felt we couldn't go that far. Warrior was no exception in terms of powerful abilities, and we tended to want all three specs or roles to have their amazing ability. Some were passives though. It just so happened the concepts for all three were long cooldown abilities for the Warrior.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

What is one thing you wish they didn't remove in the game?
I wanted to find a better solution for action bar space problems than removing spells/abilities. We always wanted WoW to be a world and a giant toy as well as a game (we called this "World as Toy") so added abilities/spells that were just for fun. Sentry Totem, Eye of Kilrogg, Eyes of the Beast. All the tracking skills we found a good UI solution for and I felt there was an answer out there, but we just didn't find it.

FailureAndAnalysis (Kevin Jordan - Game Systems, Classes & Spells) (link to comment)

What was the original purpose of the Karazhan Crypts? Some of the most creepy content I've ever seen in the game (notably the upside down sinners room).
Also what did you think about explorers like myself getting to areas we have no business being in (such as Hyjal)? I didn't start playing until TBC but I was fascinated with Hyjal and did everything I could to try to circumvent the no man's land teleport.
The upside down sinners was my undisguised reference to Big Trouble in Little China. It was only a half-finished dungeon...we scrapped it because people didn't need these areas to level. It was creepy because the props for Duskwood are already so macabre, I dunno, that's just where my imagination took me at the time. :D
I like the explorers. They don't bother me. I suspect the hardcore explorers are game devs who haven't discovered their calling yet, LOL.

whenitsready (John Staats - Dungeons & Instances) (link to comment)

submitted by blizztracker to blizztracker_wow

Exclusive AMA - John Staats, Blizzard's first 3D Level Designer, is funding the WoW Diary, a book on the development of World of Warcraft - Part 2

Continued...

Am not the OP but if Amazon does offer free shipping then obviously thats better for you. Reasons not to wait:
a. you will get the book earlier, the campaign is currently 3.5 times over the goal in under an hour, I highly doubt there will be enough books to ship to everyone in the start, so Amazon most likely wont be his highest priority
b. You are sending more money directly to the OP and less money to amazon and their slave-labour warehouse centers.
More like robot-labor warehouse centers.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hello John, nice of you to drop by.
In hindsight, do you think some of the dungeons you designed are too long/too big? I'm a fan of those big immersive dungeons myself but I'm curious if you regret some of the level design.
Pretty much all of them were too big. LOL
But if the mobs had 1/3rd health, then they'd all be too short. Well, maybe no WC, but you see what I'm saying. Read the wowhead article on Scholomance for the "true" size of a dungeon.
https://www.wowhead.com/news=286763/the-world-of-warcraft-diary-kickstarter-now-live-development-of-vanilla-wow

I don't really regret anything. AQ temple was my worst dungeon because it was one of my first. /shrug As the game got older, we learned better ways to build, we built better dungeons. Nah, if I regretted something, then I changed it.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Looking at Warcraft III's alpha and beta screenshots, it seems that the story was largely different than what was released. Considering that WoW and WC3 were developed at the same time, did WoW change the story of Wc3? Do you have any idea of what was the original story of Wc3 supposed to be like?
W3 was in production for so long, it went through a few engines before I even arrived at Blizzard. LOL
I'm not even sure, did Vanilla WoW have a story? Maybe something about Foresaken and Argent Dawn celebrating each others' diversity. :D

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I'm kinda wondering what the thoughts from the devs were about casual accessibility way back when. Today we have all kinds of options but in Vanilla it was pretty limited.
Was there a point where as a developer you just had to say "Well this isn't for them"?
Many devs didn't play at all. Maybe as a passing interest. Most of the artists and level designers were casual players, only a few of them ever reached 60. Blizzard games succeed on the coattails of casual players, so no one ever complained that the game was ever too easy. I was one of the few raiders, so I can't speak for the team on this.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

1) In your interview with Countdown to Classic, you briefly mentioned that some people on the team were unhappy with "the world tree". I assume you meant Teldrassil. I always thought it was lame how it was essentially just a plateau with fake roots. What did you think about Teldrassil?
2) Were you disappointed that the gold mine you made that ended up in Mulgore and Blasted Lands was so underutilized? (I think those were the only locations it was used until BC, where it got put to great use with Netherwing dailies.) They did barely anything with the Mulgore location and I believe the Blasted Lands one had no quests associated with it at all. I was remarking to a friend (before I even listened to the podcast!) how cool that mine was and how strange its lack of use was in Vanilla.
3) Did your work on WoW influence how you DM? Playing WoW has influenced how I make dungeons, personally, and a lot of that is due to inspiration from the complex ones you designed (I agree w... (Full text here)
  1. I thought it was too high concept to be pulled off with MMO limitations. I feel the same about the titans, they're too big for the game.
  2. Not really. For me, the joy is in the making of something. A lot of cool areas were under utilized but that's probably the best problem to have with an MMO.
  3. DM=Direct Messaging? :) For me it was the reverse. Making homemade AD&D modules taught me how to make immersive environments. I haven't DM'ed sinced I played WoW (although I'm in a weekly podcast called RollforCombat.com (plug-plug) wherein my friends and I play Pathfinder 2.0, Starfinder and so on. I'm not good at role playing over the internet (unless you call arguing with my friends roleplaying, LOL).

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Have you ever played Gloomhaven? What are your thoughts?
I haven't played GH, but it looks like a game I would play. That's not necessarily a compliment. It seem to have too many rules, too many game mechanics, long set-up. Maybe that's as good as it can get...if so, I might dump my game if it isn't good, but I see much room for improvement.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Sounds great. I'll be following your progress! Looking forward to reading the WoW Diary.
Actually, if you want to follow my board game, sign up for my email list (I promise I won't spam you) at whenitsready.com

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Do you think there will be other devs from Vanilla that step up and talk about their experiences as you have as in the coming years?
Honestly, this stuff gets forgotten. I was the only one lucky enough to take notes. Plus, they're still in the industry, pushing their own products. Everyone's favorite creation is the one they're currently working on. Mine happens to be a book that celebrates yesterday gaming. LOL

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Thank you so much for doing this AMA!
When WoW first started, was the scope of how far the game would go played with? It seems like there are a lot of open ended stories in WC3 that WoW can play off of, was that intended?
This game is my all time favourite, thank you so much for doing this.
Metzen was smart enough about comics to know good characters never truly die. As far as open-ended, it's easier to avoid than you think. Resolutions kill franchises. That's why LotRs never did it for me as a game. Everything was too polarized, too final. Few shades of gray. I dunno, this is just my opinion.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Was there a concept guideline you followed to make boss encounter rooms more iconic than other, regular places?
Trained instinct more than guideline. The job is to make the room cool. If the boss had a pet alligator you build the room about the alligator pit. If he had a monkey, you integrate trees into the architecture in an interesting way. You'd look at neighboring rooms to see if there was an interesting relationship you could establish between them. You'd just apply as many layer of ideas as you could.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Do you see in Legion and in BFA any concepts that were cut from Vanilla but ended up being developed years later? If I recall correctly, Kul Tiras and the top of Upper Karazhan (where you fight Viz'aduum https://i.imgur.com/HhWqlG2.jpg) were supposed to be in Vanilla, weren't they?
I don't know for a couple reasons. Northrend was my my last played expansion. Sorry, I got nuthin.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Thanks for all the work you did and the upcoming book, WoW is a valuable creation for humanity going forward.
What would you say are you preferred video games, or games that have been inspirations for you at the time for creating WoW and its essence?
All shooters pretty much. Hexen. System Shock 1/2. Duke Nukem (props to Levelord-Richard Gray!). Undoubtedly id Software's series, Doom 1/2, Quake 1/2/3. Baldur's Gate was cool. I love Civ games because you could build a civilization (more building, get it?). Myst and Riven were VERY inspirational on an artistic level.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

How set in stone were the first few expansions? Was there any major deviation from the plan? What is the biggest cut content from any of the first few expansions?
Backed your book just now. Super excited for my copy! Thanks for doing this.
I usually paid less attention to the expansions. I was so burnt out, after WoW. and it took so much time to wait for zone concepts, dungeon concepts...I dunno, you just learn not to wait on the edge of your seat. I was happy enough to work on updates (raids!) to worry about the future.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Was there a particular reasoning for not including the draenei and blood elf starting zones in the 'real world' but rather sticking them in with Outland?
And then was there any particular reason for not updating it to be part of the 'real world' with Cataclysm?
Yeah, there was too much data on the Azeroth/Kalimdor "world tabs." They needed to be put on their own server. I'm 90% sure this was the reason. There's no important gameplay in cities so, we reserve "real world" conent for playable zones (Hyjal).

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

How much were you directed by Blizzard regarding the more fanciful or humorous areas, such as Booty Bay? I recall that design went against the classic "grim and serious" style that was used in other MMOs of the time.
Bill Petras was the art direct. My book talk a lot about Bill's directing style. I guess we were both from the Midwest, conferred with one another about a lot of things.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

How far in advance was early content planned? I remember seeing Noggaholic videos showing Emerald Dream, AQ, Karazhan and Outland in amongst many other assets. What was the original plan behind all those zones, were they always intended for future use or were they discarded early ideas from the game? Given the lore-rich zones that didn't make it into vanilla how did the team decide upon MC/BWL/ZG as the first 3 raids? Were you already thinking 3-4 expansions into the future?
Not really, we discovered we were making too much content. Then putting things on the back burner until later. Making more zones and dungeons doesn't enable animators to make monsters faster. You realize there's a bottleneck (usually monsters) and you adjust the time you spend on other assets and features.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Is that a book that can be enjoyed by non-techy wow geeks?
It is written (hopefully) for non-gamers. I define all the techy terms--and I had editors who didn't play game who demanded definitions to the techy stuff.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Can you elaborate on the dev process and reasoning leading up to Blood Elves and Draenei being chosen as the playable races for TBC? Metzen noted at one point that Pandaren were being considered as the Alliance.
We needed a pretty race for horde...badly...and draenai were a Metzen decision. They were the new alien outland race.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I recently listened to your interview on. The countdown to classic podcast. In which you said you were writing this book as you exit the video game development industry to enter the board game development industry.
What types of board games do you enjoy? Anything you think are criminally underrated? Do you happen to have a design er page on bgg yet?
I'm 3 years into designing my dungeon board game. And I like all new mechanics in games. Mostly I like simplified board games, streamlined, elegant (few rules), and fast-moving.
I find myself suddenly surrounded by board game designers in Ohio. I got to playtests once a week and really I'm digging it.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Was a third playable faction ever considered at one point during development?
Goblins were considered to be a neutral faction...but no one really believed we would have the resources to do them for Vanilla.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hi John! I wanted to thank you for doing this, and i'm definitely looking forward to reading this diary. Anyway here's my question for you: What was the reason behind scrapping the original concept of hero classes prior to Vanilla launch? If I remember correctly, I recall reading in a very old issue of PC Gamer how each original class was intended to branch off to 2 different advanced/hero classes once they reached a certain lvl. ie Hunter had Ranger as a choice, Warrior had Knight, Mage had Archmage etc.. Thanks in advance!
Yeah, I remember that. It was probably WAY too much work. Not a lot of bang for the buck, and basically, talents became the replacement.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hi John!
Grats on crushing your kickstarter this fast!
I'd love to know what raid boss fantasy/story, old or new, that is your favorite?
Thanks!
I loved all the old god stuff. Anything with Cthulhuish monsters were great.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hi John.
Just backed! Can't wait to read it. No real questions now, but I wanted to just weigh in that Karazahn was and still is my favorite dungeon. I love the whole haunted wizard tower theme and the whimsy of the place is fantastic!
Thanks!

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

What was the old god squid-temple about? What land or area was it meant to be?
Dragon Isles. It probably wasn't thought out as it should have been. Probably married to an abandoned concept.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Backed. I love what you're doing man, godspeed. A question for you: My biggest joys in Vanilla were going places I shouldn't be and finding the weird and crazy stuff you guys had left there (on purpose or not). Things like, the smiley face underneath Karazhan, the entire dungeon BELOW Kara (fear ftw!), the unfinished hall under the IF throne room, and a million more places.
One of the greatest things I remember in Vanilla was wall jumping our way into Old Hyjal with my warlock buddy, going in the "lake" under the world tree, casting underwater breathing, swimming the SEVERAL MINUTES to the bottom, then summoning our guildies to their eventual drowning. The most fun nobody ever intended.
These are my favorite memories after 14 years of playing wow. While everyone else was making pvp videos, I was making exploration video after exploration video. Thank you for making the greatest game ev... (Full text here)
Thanks! I've those memories too. (well, not exactly THOSE memories, but you get the picture)

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hello Mr. Staats,
Before I ask my question, I want to thank you for the work you’ve put into a game that has made a big impact on my life for the positive.
My question is, is it true that the horde guild named Insufficient Light on the Silver Hand realm was all blizzard employees? Are you able to confirm this?
Thanks
I am unaware of any such guild or operation - nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hello!
As a 3D designer in a different field, new programs, ideas,etc can change my everyday life. How did the advancements of programs/tech you used affect and enhance your abilities to design? Also were there any unique design tricks/concepts you came up with that you're proud of?
Modeling parabolic stalactites and stalagmites efficiently are on my resume I suppose. Learning how to model and entire cave at once. Starting with a goldmine/cave floorplan, universally extruding the edges upward, changing texture IDs and Roughly mapping UVs for the floor-wall blend texture, then universally extruding them again for walls (while applying all at once UVs and texture IDs), and continuing in that manner to make ceiling polys. With 3DS Max, I could construct a bland generic layout in about 10 minutes...leaving more time to create more epic rooms/areas.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

How did dungeon design evolve, from earlier designs layouts to later ones? Was there a bias towards doing more winged dungeons as design evolved? If so what was the benefit in going towards that approach?
Wings weren't a thing until after WoW launched. The production pipeline evolved as we learned how to use our tools better. Wings were popular because we could reuse our dungeon textures for multiple (short) instances. Game design was calling for shorter dungeons and it make more sense to reuse art assets like textures...wings were a natural decision.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I've heard (as I did not play WoW until Wrath), that instances like Scolomance, UBRS, LBRS were originally set up to be basically mini-raids. That was obviously gone by the time I started playing, but what was the initial purpose for that, and is that why those particular dungeons seem so large and sprawling compared to basically every other Vanilla dungeon?
Only UBRS and Stratholme were raids (10 player groups). The more players in a group, the more you could rely on certain classes being there. You really couldn't do any class-specific tricks with boss fight in 5-player dungeons. In raid, you could let some classes really shine.
I think larger groups also accustomed people to the idea of 40 player raids. It was less jarring. /shrug That's just a guess.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

What was the thinking around legendary weapons (how powerful to make them, how long it should take to earn them) and just general thinking and conversations around them?
They were something for a guild to work toward. Simply that. A group reward that outshine others.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

What are your references? Where does your creativity comes from? What did you used to play before, and what do you work with now?
You just look at your assets in play. If you're doing a certain flavor of dungeon, filled with a certain type of monster, you look for similarities between these two seemingly unlike things. You "blend them" together. You do that "blend" with everything. I've gone as far to list down properties of places, creatures, environments and ponder how they could be used to describe other assets in play.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Do you remember what was the rationale behind putting the undead and the night elves on their respective sides after you decided to nake the game factional? And if putting night elves onto the Alliance was connected to making them less tribal and savage when compared to their earliest concept art?
Night Elves are the reclusive, oldest race. (unless dwarfs are older, hehe) Kalimdor is the oldest continent. It's Azeroth's Africa. The mountains are older, the creatures and ruins. Trolls were made from Night Elves, that's why they're similar looking (tall, long ears). Foresaken are basically plagued humans so they belong in the Eastern Kingdoms.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I second this question. And I'll put in my own, which is this:
Was it ever considered to put Night Elves on the Horde and Forsaken/Undead on the Alliance?
see above

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

What was the purpose of "GM Island" from vanilla? (Not even sure if it's still in the game)
not sure. Maybe a place to restrict training new GM's? I honestly don't know, but creating an island (programmer island, designer island, GM island) is trivial.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I’ve had a lingering question about Vanilla for over a decade. Maybe you can provide insight into it.
It seems like there was a major change in design philosophy between the Launch of Vanilla and just after Dire Maul was released.
I read somewhere years ago that a lot of the original designers left around then. Therefore the shift was due to their departure and the later team not agreeing with their philosophy.
An example would be the dearth of green stats in gear before DM, compared to those appearing regularly afterwards
Is that accurate in your opinion? If so can you shed some light on what went on, at a detail level.
That wouldn't have been a designer change that cause that shift. Major systems issues were being re-learned at the time. How critical hits were a dead end system until "Crit Rating" was created. Green items were probably just a itemization decision that needed to happen to avoid stat inflation on items. That's my educated guess. Whether they were green or blue...that's mostly a cosmetic change...maybe someone redefined what green/blue meant...or people said they wanted more throw-away items.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

- did undermine exist at any point? how was it/what was in it ?
- why did stepping on chow is my love monkey teleported to caer darrow (scholomance?) ?
- why was there a dark portal in ashzara's waters ?
- were there quests that never got completed before cataclysm? are they still in the game ?
- did cleansed ashbringer was at any point available in the game but the way to obtain it was never found ? (all the theories with nat paggle and stuff)
- why azjol nerub never got released even though it was built a bit ?
- how were the caverns of time intended at first ? knowing that is was a tower with the three branches linked together
- what was the point of the cavern south of zulgurub ?
- what was on the right of the blasted land down to the right of the burning steppes ? there were unusual shapes on the ground.
- what's your favorite easter egg/unknown place ?
- was something supposed to go between desolace and feralas instead of this emp... (Full text here)
Not in vanilla WoW. Cataclysm was UM's first appearance I think.
There was likely a trigger-teleporter there. Those were the risks one takes on Programmer Island!
It was cool to have it underwater...but alas, there was nothing interesting in the Blasted lands, so...

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

You stated that you come from AD&D, what edition of D&D do you prefer( or pathfinder). And what character do you usually play.
I learned most of my stuff on second edition AD&D though, back in the day. PF 2 is pretty cool, probably going to be my favorite. I'm part of a podcast that covers Paizo material, called Rollforcombat.com - my friends and I rule-lawyer one another, bust each other's chops, argue over loot...you know...8th grade level gaming.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

How far along was the development of outlaws before you decided to wait to release it in BC?
If you mean Outland, it was never a part of Vanilla WoW.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

just ordered my copy, can't wait!
Question, I remember a little after initial launch that you guys had to suspend game sales because you had too many players on the servers. Is today's ocassional 'queues' the equivalent of halting sales? Did you not have the technology back then to do this? Thanks!
We didn't suspend sales, we simply ran out of boxes! Queue's don't affect sales, they just stop servers from being overloaded. Queues were developed fairly quickly, I think. Simple tech I imagine.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Do you detail the original Realm vs. Realm plans in the book? If no, could you share some of them now?
Totally. I give credit where it's due (DAoC)

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Thanks for answering some questions, and looking forward to the book!
Looking back to vanilla some of the dungeons had crazy sprawling level designs that could take a coordinated group a much MUCH longer time than any dungeon/raid designed today. Looking at ones like Molten Core, Wailing Caverns, and Karazhan, how did you all decide how big/long a dungeon should be and was there ever a point in any dungeon where you were like, we went really over the top here. Also, what do you think a good dungeon time is and does the 25 minute dungeons of today lose some of the grand scale that older dungeons had?
For me and hour to 90 minutes sounds reasonable, but shorter dungeons should also be available. If you check out the wowhead article I wrote about Scholomance, it took 6 hours for a full clear!
https://www.wowhead.com/news=286763/the-world-of-warcraft-diary-kickstarter-now-live-development-of-vanilla-wow

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Hey John! Congratulations on the Kickstarter!
This question is not exactly about dungeon/level designer but about Dungeon Journal.
Do you think if there wasn't a dungeon journal and data-mining would make Dungeons and Raids more interesting/"misterious"? Making the player play cautiously for what may come next? Or maybe reworking, making dungeon/raid info only available after you do the dungeon/raid on that difficulty?
And I saw in your comments guild castles, do you think WoW will ever have them?
Thank you for your time! I will probably have more questions soon...
I'm afraid I don't know what Dungeon Journal is, but hiding ANY info from players is impossible. It's an internet thing. And no, guild castles have long since been forgotten. The pitch never got traction in Vanilla, scant chance they'll do them now, LOL.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Thank you for all you've done, I'm so excited and bought the high tier one jumping for joy!! I meet you back in 2005 BlizzCon right before I went to college. Because of your interaction I am a 3D modeler and designer. Really means a lot on the conversation you, Eric and Gary had with me while looking over my work.
Any chance your coming back to Blizzard or work on other Dungeons / Raids as a Contractor?
That's so cool! Congratulations! Now, my hands can't handle computer work (they're dying right now) so my computer game development days are over. Hopefully this book will pass on what I've learned.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

One of my favorite parts of other games (Starcraft, Skyrim, etc.) was always modding and other forms of user content. I'd love to be able to do some of my own level design with WoW content.
So the question is, what do you think about player-created content in WoW? Is it feasible? Do you like the idea, even if it isn't?
All you need is 3D S Max, a texture set, and unfettered desire to build. I imagine there are tutorial everywhere how to do things on YouTube. I love player-created anything, but WoW is a closed system. Good for learning the tools and trade, but for really playable content, you gotta learn to work on a team. Join a mod group, it's how I got started!

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Four parter - How much of Warcraft and world of Warcraft is product of Chris Metzan/Alex Afrasiabi/Rob Pardo/Jeff from the Overwatch Team?
Well, they worked on different things, different goals. I would argue between those four, it was mostly Jeff and Rob's influence that shaped it. Chris and Alex are all lore, the "world's skeleton" was created by Chris, and fleshed out by Alex...and dozens of other quest designers, character artists, level designers. The core game was done before Jeff was on the team and Rob didn't come aboard until the last year although he designed the core class mechanics and highly influence Allen Adaham's thinking.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Can you talk at all about the game's shift from being more like an open RPG in some ways (sprawling dungeon complexes, the original talent and stat systems with armor that didn't wind up being good for anyone, secrets in the world) to the more curated, streamlined experience we know today?

What were you folks setting out to create?
Team 2 was trying to make an RPG (as you described) until we learned how much more fun it was to play a streamlined game. RPGs are as repetitive as MMOs, so streamlining needs to happen. It's good to have a mix of both.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

If you had the time/energy/resources back then: What dungeon or area would you have like to have done or do now looking back?
I was always starving for more textures. But the dungeon I envied the most was Shadowfang. I was such a Ravenloft fan, in fact, I was starving to build ANY castles. WHY DIDN'T WOW HAVE MORE CASTLES!?!?! :)

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Will the book be available for purchase after the Kickstarter is closed?
Absolutely. It will be on Amazon for $50 in early 2019.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Do you know if any gameplay had ever been planned for Azshara Crater? You answered earlier in the AMA, that Azshara Crater was cancelled due to Arathi Basin, but had any plans been made on how the battleground would have played out? The last layout somewhat resembled a MOBA type map, but Azshara Crater changed alot over time.
I honestly couldn't say. PvP was in such turmoil then. I'm sure someone had intentions but the trick is to sway the rest of the team toward YOUR plans. :D

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

What was the original plan for WOW raids in classic wow after Naxxramas?
There are datamined files of Kara designed to fit a 40 man raid, and there is a primitive design for Outland as well though it looks very similar to the WC3 Outland.
Was Karazahn going to be a 40 man raid that got scrapped? (Atiesh really supports this theory)
Karazhan raids were reduced in size because the floorspace was tight. Simply that. It was too small. The designers said, "Why not make raids smaller?" They tried it and it worked! The design process on reducing raid size was never more complicated that that.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Will your book be on audible or any sort of audiobook platform? I’d love to listen to it on my way to work and whatnot.
I hear ya (get it!?). I'm the same way. I listen to audio books whenever I drive or walk, but there are too many visual components and captions. The images in The WoW Diary (available on Kickstarter today!) are instructional, not beautiful, and are accompanied by actions.
I don't have a good voice either, have you heard my interviews? That nasal twang? Egads, I can't believe I sounds like that.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I was dismayed when your first Kickstarter attempt failed to reach its goal because I was really eager to read your book. What changed in the scope or production to result in a dramatically lower pledge goal for the new campaign?
I was unprepared, inexperienced, and unthoughtful. I also did no PR because I'm an idiot.
Some friends at Blizzard said 10,000 books was very conservative number of books to sell. I didn't know any better. I figured "very conservative" worked for me, so I set 10,000 books (as a minimum!!!) multiplied that by $40, and came up with an embarrassing, ridiculous goal. All the production values are the same. It's the same book in both campaigns. :P

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Was stormwind vault a old version of the stockades that got scrapped? Its weird how the portal into the instance was made but just blocked off with a closed gate - http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Stormwind_Vault
Yeah, that's odd. Stormwind stockades were our attempt to copy-paste rooms to create lots of "real interesting" dungeon content. They were built long before dungeons were tested. I would have nixed them from the game but they stayed in for whatever reason. Very little of Stormwind had functionality at all when it was built, designers could say whether or not they needed things other than a bank and some tradeskills shops, so we built stuff and tried different things. To answer you question, nothing specific to my recollection was meant for SW Vault.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

I don't have a question, but I wanted to thank you for all the wonderful memories I had in vanilla WoW in the 5mans and later, raiding. The challenging content is still something I look back on fondly.
Thanks!

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

Is there anything that didn't get added that you would have loved to see in the finished project ?
Tons and tons and tons. Years of features were cut. MMOs are everything to everybody. These weren't cut, they were delayed until later expansions and patches.

whenitsready (John Staats) (link to comment)

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