In the flood of Cataclysm news that went live recently, Gameplanet got the chance to sit down with WoW's Lead Content Designer and Lead Systems Designer (you'll know them better as Cory Stockton and Greg Street, a.k.a. Ghostcrawler) and discussed a number of subjects likely to be affected by the expansion. Both interviews are great, and I've highlighted a few points past the cut if you're trying to avoid spoilers (in which case I must respectfully question your choice of website reading material).
From the interview with Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton:
- Heroic Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines won't ship with Cataclysm. They're currently being planned for patch 4.1. Stratholme, Scholomance, and Dire Maul are high on the list of other instances they'd like to revamp.
- The "narrative flow" of a constantly-changing MMORPG is "always a problem" -- e.g., how do you send death knights to train under an Arthas who is now canonically dead? -- and they've talked a lot about how to balance the game's overall story with the smaller one each character experiences.
- The Cataclysm content patch will be the approximate size of Canada and will be delivered to your house via sherpa. OK, he didn't actually say that, but the patch will be huge, and they'll be breaking it up into several mini-patches for players' convenience.
- Expect a pre-Cataclysm event much bigger than the zombie invasion.
- There will be a new Caverns of Time instance or raid in a later patch.
- WoW's gotten complicated, and the game was initially designed with the expectation that it'd only be around for a few years.
- Removing Path of the Titans was a tough decision, but after a lot of work they asked themselves: "Why are we spending all this time on the Path system when what we really want to do is fix glyphs up?"
- There are other ideas similar to Path of the Titans (e.g. the dance studio) were a lot of work was poured into developing it and they still weren't satisfied with the result.
- They'd like to decrease players' dependence on third-party websites to get an understanding of how their class and spec works. (Speaking as an employee of one such third-party website -- hey!).
- Glyphs will be moving to a three-tier system: major, minor, and medium glyphs. Major and minor glyphs will continue to do pretty much what they do now, but "the new medium glyphs are some of the most interesting because they'll affect abilities that you don't use constantly but you do use, and they can be DPS or healing increases, but not necessarily straight-forward ones."