2:55 pm Five minutes to the panel, still waiting to get started.
2:58 pm Nothing as yet; they might be running a bit late, though we're still technically early.
3:01pm Here we go.
3:01 pm Alex Afrasiabi and Chris Metzen present.
3:01 pm They're planning a straight question-and-answer session.
3:01 pm Alex loves us!
3:02 pm "Do you guys ever plan to do something on the scale of Ahn'Qiraj again?" Cross-faction cooperation, the whole scale and build-up.
Afrasiabi implemented it and there was a lot of "designer math" behind all the stuff you had to collect. Definitely want to do more of these events, "but on smaller scales." Doesn't want to say they'll never do a major event like that again, but they're focusing on smaller stuff.
3:03 pm "When we will see another caster legendary that's NOT a mace?"
Afrasiabi: What do you want?
Asker: I'm a mage, so I have a knife and a big stick.
Metzen: What would make you happy?
People are shouting out suggestions. "A big stick" seems to be popular.
OK, a legendary staff is coming!
3:04 pm "What happened to Turalyon?"
They have "every intention" of dealing with Turalyon in a very epic manner, but they're still thinking it over. No firm plans as yet, "but you're gonna love it."
3:05 pm Infinite Dragonflight? What'll happen with them? Will we see them?
Yes. We will definitely see them and it's "so badass."
3:05 pm "What clan were the Saurfangs from and will they be ingame?"
Metzen says the Blackrock Clan. Asker says, "You sure?" Big laugh. "Oh, it's Blackrock."
3:06 pm Original philosophy behind the Burning Legion, Sargeras as the "trash man" for the Titans. Question meandering a bit. Has Kil'jaeden shaped the Legion to his own ends?
Metzen says philosophy hasn't shifted. Life is innately bad and must be scrubbed out from their perspective. Questioner keeps coming back to Kil'Jaeden, Metzen struggling valiantly for an answer (I'm not sure what the question really is). But Metzen confirms we will see KJ again.
3:08 pm Questioner on battle of Andorhal.
Afrasiabi says we'll see a lot of the Forsakens' motivation in Cataclysm.
3:09 pm "Kul Tiras? Lots of water themes, world is messed up, what happened to them?"
Afrasiabi says "We gotta save something." You will see it but they don't want to debut it now. Metzen says if you eat all your Halloween candy at once you'll get a tummy-ache. No word on whether they mean we'll see it in a future patch or a future expansion.
3:10 pm "How did Kael'thas go from well-intentioned leader to Burning Legion lackey?"
Metzen (thinking about it): Mickey Neilson in lore department wrote a novella concerning Kael'thas' character transformation and Metzen actually wants to get it out because he thought it was so good.
3:11 pm "Will we see Medivh's staff back in the game?"
No. :( Been there, done that. Crowd is very unhappy about that. Shame, one of the best models in the game.
3:11 pm "Windrunner family reunion didn't happen in Wrath, going to happen in Cataclysm?"
Metzen says we'll see it wrapped up with the Turalyon storyline, in Stromgarde, with Atiesh. Some kidding here.
3:12 pm Proud orc shaman - "Lok'tar!" Metzen gives it back.
3:12 pm Argent Crusade will be seen again in Cataclysm, they're already very much in the beta and expanding.
3:13 pm "What drove Sargeras mad?"
They like the questioner's hat a lot, but they're not giving up any major information that hasn't been said before. Sargeras' corruption is due to the "dirt and filth" of actually dealing with races. Metzen satisfied with the retcon that had to happen.
Interesting point from Afrasiabi: "Is Sargeras mad?"
3:15 pm "Any lore about the troll moonkins? Trolls not a moon-oriented race."
Afrasiabi: I hope so. (We) like moonkin. Troll druid lore developed in-house and you'll see it.
3:15 pm (feed seizing up a bit, sorry folks)
3:16 pm Legendary items, any quest lines to upgrade for level 85? They'll otherwise be useless.
Afrasiabi: No plans for now.
3:17 pm "Phasing technology will freshen up existing zones?" Question meanders a bit but I think he's asking if a higher-leveled character could travel back to old Azeroth to see higher level NPCs in a phased version of the world.
Metzen: "HEROIC BARRENS." Oh dear God.
Afrasiabi: Interesting, they're planning on a max-level Hyjal zone that's healed at the end of your quest line, possibly dailies, a lot of discussion about it on the team.
3:19 pm Garrosh question, questioner being polite about him. He's become a warlord, but is he going to be a true warchief or "just another Hellscream?"
Metzen: That would be telling. Is he daddy's son, or can he straighten out? (Interesting that it was phrased that way). A theme that Blizzard is really trying to push, actually. They know and appreciate that Garrosh is a "contentious" character. He's part of a far larger storyline including Thrall ("And dammit, I like talking about guys like Thrall. He's the most important person on Azeroth."), who is a pivotal character. Thrall had a great bit in Nagrand but Metzen doesn't think they've actually used him to his potential. The whole Garrosh deal actually has a lot to do with Thrall.
References Christie Golden's "The Shattering." Sees Thrall as a Clark Kent-type character, good guy who may not really know his true strength. "He's never taken the time to just grow," was pushed into leadership very young. Metzen sees Garrosh used as a counterpoint to Thrall, the former as a hothead against someone who thinks. Ultimately, Garrosh "is the foil to Thrall." Don't get fixated on Garrosh; the story's not ultimately about him. Thinks this is going to be some of the best storytelling that WoW has ever done. "If you love the Horde today, how much more will you love it when you need to fight for it?"
3:24 pm RP-server questioner says players often argue about small matters. How would an average city guard react to a warlock with a demon out?
Metzen: If you're just rolling around Azeroth and you're down in the cheese shop chilling and you see a voidwalker, that is not a normal thing. Demons almost blew up the world "2.5 times, to my count." You suck it up as a necessary game convention. It's not great for lore but you have to facilitate gameplay.
3:25 pm "Who is Mudcrush Dirtfeet?" A bit of a joke. "Is his story going to be developed?"
Big laugh around the hall. Deadpan response, "Absolutely."
3:26 pm "Just finished reading 'The Shattering,' and (feed cuts out)
3:27 pm "Outland doesn't make sense in the present world, how will that work?"
They grin again, deadpan answer from Afrasiabi: "Poorly." It's a big game and Cataclysm is by far the largest expansion they've done to date. They "absolutely will go back and deal with Outland," need to make it more cohesive, but it might not make the ship date.
Metzen: Outland and Lich King "are gonna be a little broken for a while." You can only do so much with an undertaking as large as this expansion. They will fix up the world and they don't like that lore-wise it's going to be broken for a bit, but overhauling the old world was more important. For Wrath, they did about 1,000 quests, it was badass from Metzen's perspective. For Cataclysm, they did 3,500 quests (holy crap). "Impossible job," and Metzen's still impressed at what Blizzard managed. They don't want Outland and Northrend broken but being realistic about the expansion, they weren't the priority; the old world was.
3:30 pm "Council of Tirisfal and Med'an, what's going on there? Will we see them ingame?"
Med'an the new Guardian, built that story for the comic book, but Blizzard's still thinking about it. It hasn't come into the Cataclysm storyline yet.
3:32 pm "Will we ever see the redemption or resurrection of Illidan?"
Metzen: Thinks it would be badass, but nobody's ever suggested or talked about it. "I'm a sucker for a good redemption story." Except for Arthas; "You gotta pay, brother."
3:32 pm "Deathwing's involvement in questing?"
Afrasiabi: They felt they "cartooned" out Arthas a bit much; Illidan wasn't involved enough in BC, Arthas involved perhaps too much, so they're trying to strike the balance between the two. "It's a little harder to have him show up and not just kill you ... when you see him in Cataclysm, he'll kill you 99 percent of the time."
Metzen: "His name ain't Socialwing."
3:34 pm "Old gods in Cataclysm?"
Metzen: You haven't seen who signs Deathwing's paycheck yet. They're not going to give spoilers on the next expansion though. Asks questioner to clarify.
Questioner: Do we know the name of the next Old God? Doesn't seem to be much calamity yet.
Afrasiabi: Have you played Cataclysm?
Metzen: Where the world blows up?
Afrasiabi: "You might, if you're astute enough, see his or its name uttered in a few places in Cataclysm."
Metzen: (decides to throw audience the name) Nizzoth (spelling?). He's a real problem.
3:36 pm "Are there plans to take out some of the more benevolent challenges?" Would we ever be in the position of taking down, say, Alexstrasza?
Metzen: Aspect of Life can't be "punked" down. Over the course of Cataclysm, Deathwing is the big bad, but patches will introduce story development and the dragon family will have to get involved. "Greatest and most terrible hour." They will perform the function for which they were created. They built and love these characters. How do you defeat the undefeatable? How will the dragon family -- "And Thrall" -- pull this off?
Metzen What Aspect is missing from the family? Deathwing, the big black dragon, the Earth Aspect is out. The family is "broken." Missing the Earth Aspect. And Thrall is a shaman ... and he might distinguish himself in some fashion. Thrall as the new Aspect of Earth?
3:39 pm Big Crits peep asks a question related to "Stormrage." What's going on with the Emerald Nightmare?
Metzen tries to clarify the question, asks -- do we reference the events of the novel "Stormrage" in Cataclysm? Afrasiabi says there are things in the literature harder to pull off than others, and that's one of them. "Things can get muddled." The Stormrage events are dealt with "delicately," but they don't hit you over the head with it. Metzen opines that Deathwing and his effects on the world are by far the bigger priority than the Emerald Nightmare, they're not going to deal with it when the world is falling apart.
3:42 pm Another RP server player asks, "Are there tools going to be implemented to facilitate role-playing? Have to download and use addons right now. Everquest had little pop-ups describing characters, as an example."
Afrasiabi: Haven't really discussed it often but a possibility.
3:43 pm "Is the Demon Soul going to make a reappearance in Cataclysm? And Nether Drakes, will their relationship with Deathwing be clarified?"
Afrasiabi: A non-specific yes.
Metzen says you'll see something and it'll be awesome.
3:44 pm "Will goblins ever try to go back to Kezan? If not, will we ever see Undermine?" Wow, great question.
Afrasiabi: Yeah, totally. Goblin experience is "a small segment of the actual whole" of Kezan. They do want to go back to Undermine and the other goblin land holdings, just a question of when.
3:45 pm "Paladins and pally organizations got a lot of attention in Wrath. Will they still play a big part in Cataclysm?"
Afrasiabi: Argent Crusade involved in clean-up of the Eastern and Western Plaguelands. Cenarion Circle is helping. No dungeons or anything else specifically planned for them however.
3:46 pm "Ulduar to Coliseum to Lich King seemed disjointed. Will there be more cohesion between raiding tiers in Cataclysm?"
Afrasiabi: Disagrees that the Lich King story was entirely disjointed, there was a master story underlining each patch but it could have been done more "masterfully." Thinks there will be more cohesion in Cata.
3:47 pm RP player asks, "What's the nature of the Cult of Shadow?" Concerned about priests, it doesn't seem expanded on beyond some references with the Forsaken.
Metzen: "Working on it."
3:48 pm "What are you guys planning on doing with Kalecgos?"
Afrasiabi: "Something amazing."
Metzen: "So f***ing boring dude!"
Afrasiabi: (joking) Take it.
Metzen: Kalecgos will be the new blue Aspect, and (says cryptically) just in time.
3:49 pm "What's going on with Nerz'hul and Bolvar Fordragon, the new Lich King?"
Metzen: Nerz'hul is done. (stops and thinks about Bolvar a bit) He doesn't think they'll be revisiting Northrend anytime soon, so he's unsure exactly how to describe what's going on there. He sees Bolvar up there "keeping a lid" on the Scourge for a while, but the idea of his sacrifice and what he's doing is something that intrigues him. He just doubts they'll revisit it soon.
3:51 pm "Any update on the Warcraft movie?" Claps and cheering from the crowd.
Metzen: "It went straight to video, didn't you get the memo? Was really good." (laughs)
About a month ago they had a four-day session with Sam Raimi and really hashed out a story that Metzen thinks is really good. Sam has a few projects going so they're waiting to see which one gets prioritized. Interesting point here -- Sam Raimi plays WoW with his kids. Metzen feels they broke through a serious wall with the big meeting -- it was "a geek cyclone." They hope for more concrete news soon. They're OK with moving slower in order to do it right, "and we are going to do it right."
3:52 pm "Any tanking legendaries?" Big cheer from the tanks in the crowd.
Afrasiabi wants one (guess he plays a tank!). When they do a legendary it covers a role. Unfortunately, the tank role is smaller than the DPS role, maybe even smaller than the healing role, "but most important role in my opinion." (more cheers). But they've gotta do the legendary staff first.
3:54 pm Question on Thrall. "Are Thrall and Jaina ever going to get together?" More cheering and clapping.
Metzen: "Think Jaina has some green fever going on?" He doesn't want to spoil anything but he really thinks Golden's "The Shattering" really covers this -- he decides to spoil it, Thrall's going to meet "a nice orc in Nagrand" and have some kids. Question, disappointed says, "He's not Jaina!"
Then Metzen: "What happens to the men that Jaina dates?" Big laugh from the crowd. "THRALL HAS TO LIVE!" Crowd laughs again. "So let's put that matter to bed ... Oh, that's a funny choice of words."
3:56 pm "Thanks for the tank love, a legendary shield would be amazing." (the bear tank writing this liveblog disagrees strongly). Ghostcrawler promised us a moose, "Where is our moose?"
They laugh. "We have no damn idea." Find him and ask him. Afrasiabi and Metzen both want moose. Turns out Metzen does a pretty good Bullwinkle impression, by the way.
3:57 pm Last question. "Make it good! No pressure." "Is Ragnaros going to one-shot a lieutenant again?"
Afrasiabi: You want him to do that? I do too.
Questioner: Some poor bastard to die...
Afrasiabi and Metzen kicking around a random number of hapless NPCs to kill off.
3: 57 pm What the hell, one more question. "Now that the Lich King is dead, how are worgen and goblin death knights being created?" Excellent question!
Afrasiabi: When you play the death knight starting area now, it's assumed you're starting before the events that take place in Northrend. When you start the worgen and goblin areas, you're also assumed to be starting before the events of the modern world. "It's a different timeline."
Metzen: Necromancy isn't exclusive to the Lich King, existed well before Nerz'hul became the Lich King, so he thinks the lore is a bit flexible here.
And that's it folks! I'll make a pass through the blog to clean up any typing errors or answer any question related to the coverage.