Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blizzcon - Cataclysm

Blizzcon has come and gone, and as we found out the information leaked at MMO-Champion in couple week period before Blizzcon was entirely accurate, though not complete. The official Cataclysm site is now up, so you can read the full details there and at MMO-Champion (Day 2- Raids and Dungeons, Day 2 - Game Systems, Day 2 - Q&A, Class Discussion, Preview, FAQ).

Long story short is that everything about old Azeroth will change. Zones, quest chains/hubs, limitations (flight anyone?), and lots of class/stats will change. It's basically an answer to the many calls over the past couple years to allow flight in old Azeroth and to shake things up a bit. They didn't say this of course, but does anyone get the sense that they might really not know where to go from Wrath? I had assumed that the obvious next part of the story would lead us to the Titans and the Emerald Dream but it looks like they're putting that on hold for the time being, though perhaps not entirely. We have yet to see any information about the new zones and the quests and information we'll find there, so its quite possible we'll see some building blocks that would lead us to a story I still believe will inevitably lead us to the return of the Titans to Azeroth.

One thing that I am beginning to find alarming is yet another far ranging change to the stats system used in WoW. It'll essentially be the third major revision to the overall system in the past 2-3 year period when Cataclysm is released, and that doesn't speak well to me regarding Blizzards ability to make decisions about game play systems over the long term. It says to me they do not have a good handle on the consequences and outliers for the decisions they make. In BC they made far-ranging changes to every class in the game, and introduced new stats like Armor Penetration, combined stats like Hit and Crit, and then in Wrath went even further in combining Attack Power and Feral Attack Power, changing classes again and smoothing out gear differences between them (Rogue and Druids using same gear for instance). Now this -- Removal of Armor Pen, Defense, Attack Power, Spell Damage. They already laid some of the ground work for this in Wrath but they're going a great deal further than anything I think any of us anticipated and I am beginning to become troubled by it all where I wasn't previously.

Obviously we'll all be anxiously awaiting additional information in the coming weeks and months, as I expect Cataclysm to be released around the June 2010 time frame, which would mean they are already probably in Alpha and should be starting up Beta sometime in the next couple months. Lets see if I get a beta invite this time!!

This was the first Blizzcon I was actually able to attend, though virtually via the Direct TV internet feed. I had heard a great deal about the vibrancy and energy of previous Blizzcons but I didn't get a sense of that this time. I saw videos of the crowd when they first saw the BC trailer and there was an loud outburst of enthusiasm. Didn't see any of that this time. Nor did I get a sense of energy from the Blizzcon panel members either.

Still, I was glad to finally get to watch one and hear things first hand from the panel members. Here's hoping they continue doing that every year.