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WoW Insider interviews Tom Chilton

Alex Ziebart

A couple of days ago at the midnight release of Wrath of the Lich King in Anaheim, CA, our very own Dan O'Halloran had an opportunity speak with Tom Chilton (also known as Kalgan), Lead Game Designer of World of Warcraft. They spoke on a wide variety of topics, from raid philosophy to the growth of the game in North America and many things in between. Read on to see what Kalgan had to say!

WoW Insider:
What did Blizzard think was the most surprising class development of The Burning Crusade? Did you think Paladin tanks would be as popular as they were, did you anticipate the Druid supremacy in the arena?

"If you can hold aggro reliably, and you can ... do a fair amount of damage, then tanking is a lot more fun!"

Chilton: Hmm... those two would probably be the most surprising! (Laughter) We definitely didn't anticipate Druids being as strong as they ended up being. In Season 1 they actually weren't all that strong, it really wasn't until we changed the way the Lifebloom coefficient worked that they really kind of came into their own, because they could keep people alive by spamming Lifeblooms and running around like mad. Before that, they just didn't really have the healing throughput without staying still and exposing themselves a lot. So that was pretty surprising.

Then I would say also the Paladin... we wanted the Paladin to be a viable tank, including raid tank. We just didn't expect it to go quite as well as it did, for them to become dominant tanks. Now we've used that as a good example of what tanking should be like, and tried to, in this case, make sure Protection Warriors tank similarly to that, and Druids, Death Knights... so we really want tanking to feel like it's more fun than it was before. We found that hey, if you can hold aggro reliably, and you can, you know, do a fair amount of damage, then tanking is a lot more fun!

WoW Insider: Right. Balancing tanking with needing to do some work but not being overwhelmed.

Chilton: Yeah, exactly. We kinda felt that... one of our early philosophies for tanking was that threat would be the razor's edge, and that it would take a really skilled tank to hold aggro and all that, so with the way we tuned things to start with it could feel very hectic as a tank, or sometimes desperate even. You know, trying to keep mobs off of your group, but as it turns out it's a lot of fun to hold aggro reliably and it still feels like there's a lot of skill differentiation from one tank to another. So that's where we are.

WoW Insider: Someone on your team said before that there would be no raid as hard as Sunwell Plateau. The question is, how hard is the hardest Wrath raid compared to raids that we know, what could we compare it to?

Chilton: Well, for the raids that are available right now when Wrath launches, there's really no comparison. Certainly Naxxramas doesn't even come close to the difficulty of Sunwell, it's intended to be an introductory raid zone. Malygos is more difficult than Naxxramas, so we do step up the difficulty a little bit there. I do think that later down the line when you fight Arthas it will definitely be more challenging than Naxxramas.

"...we're trying to build that more into the encounters, so that we have that Sunwell challenge without necessarily slamming the door in everybody's face."

We are adopting a new kind of philosophy towards raiding which is kind of inspired by the way we did Zul'Aman, which is that we want the raid to be accessible, you know, not just for 10-man groups but also 25. Then kind of have a hard mode built in so that you get rewarded for doing it in a way that's more difficult. Sort of with Zul'Aman, doing it in a shorter time, rescuing in the prisoners, that sort of thing. So that's kind of what we have in mind, a hard mode for it. So we're trying to build that more into the encounters, so that we have that Sunwell challenge without necessarily slamming the door in everybody's face.

WoW Insider: Alright. There's been talk about making healing more fun, what avenues are you guys exploring there?

Chilton: Some things that we're looking at are allowing Healers to predict what they're going to have to do more effectively. Right now they have to play more reactively, and playing reactively in and of itself... at times it's interesting and fun, but it needs to be complemented by more kinds of gameplay. So some of the things we're looking at doing is giving players more control of the situation, so they can anticipate what's going to happen and, you know, use spells and abilities that help them avert bad situations to begin with. Using them properly, right place and right time, that sort of thing.

As a note, that sort of gameplay might also help them watch the playing field more than just staring at health bars. That's one of the things we hear a lot.

WoW Insider: Yeah, especially in large raids.

Chilton: Right, looking at bars and you don't get to appreciate all of the scenery.

WoW Insider: One of our writers is a fan of the Dustwallow Marsh revamp, felt it filled holes in the lore of the area, provided another place for people to quest, all of that good stuff. Any plans to revamp more old world content?

Chilton: Definitely, giving that treatment to more of the old world is something that's very up there in our minds. I'm sure that's something we'll have more to talk about at some point in the future. Right now I don't have a list of zones for you that we're going to do but believe me when I say it's definitely up there in our minds.

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