This probably should have been kept to the original thread, but caution to thee, wind, I say! (I say that.)
So everyone has seen various posts and comments around the World Wide Web about flying not being allowed in Draenor, why, and what that means. It'd probably be helpful to try to sum up some of those things, and potentially help build a foundation for anyone's discussions on the topic going forward. If everyone has the same info then it just helps conversations glide along, as you can expect everyone else knows what you know! Knowledge Parity! (Knarity?)
Anyway, it's important to first dissuade concerns that we're looking to slow down the game (I've recently posted about this in another thread
, but it bears repeating). We're going to be making sure flight paths and other forms of travel are quick and efficient, with a goal of getting you to the places you want to go. The flight paths in Draenor are not going to be loop-de-loop sightseeing tours, and we're going to be looking to our beta testers to let us know if any are less than tip-top.
Our goal is not to make travel time consuming or painful, and with players on ground mounts we know we'll have to do more to try to ensure people can get to where they want to go quickly... BUT being able to lift off and fly over content compromises many of our goals in how the game world is approached, how it's played, how it's consumed, and how the content is designed to account for those factors.
As an example, let us consider a quest to assassinate an enemy leader. From the ground you approach a fort with guards at the gate. You charge and are able to dispatch them and sneak in a side hallway. You methodically take out packs of roaming sentries, and some of them shout at you as they run toward you. You notice they're in the middle of practicing dark and forbidden magics, and you take a moment to disrupt their ritual. Dashing into the main courtyard you spot your target, sneaking and fighting your way to him--and with a forceful slash--the fort's captain is vanquished, and as guards are alerted you fight your way out, glorious and triumphant in your success.
Alternatively, from a flying mount, you fly over the gate, see some guy whose name is highlighted, land on top of him, kill him, and then fly away.
Being efficient is great, being clever is great, and using your cleverness to be efficient is great, but how many of us have done the Tillers dailies up on the cliffside where the Hozen are, and waited for packs to pass by before setting down right where you're supposed to, use whatever thingamabob you're supposed to, and then lift off ASAP hoping-hoping-hoping
nothing aggros? How many of us have become furious when we actually have to fight something
!? Is that clever gameplay? Is that being good at playing the game, or is it using a mechanic to avoid having to play it? Is that what the game should be, and what our expectations should be as gamers playing it?
I hope everyone can agree, regardless of personal opinion toward flight vs. non-flight, that flying fundamentally alters how content is approached in a world where the gameplay exists wholly on the ground.
In Draenor we're designing max-level content, portions of zones or zones in their entirety that will be dedicated to max-level gameplay-and not just the top of a cliffside, or some dailies in the Vale. There's a harsh change in how the game plays between leveling, and when you hit max level. Hitting 100 and instantly switching everything you do to raiding or Arenas is pretty abrupt, and we want to try to keep that questing experience available at max level with something more robust than daily quests. We don't think having all of that content inside buildings, or constantly challenged by sky cannons
, or with magical no-flying smoke
, or within some kind of dismount bubble
is the most straightforward or best solution to the ultimate issue in that World of Warcraft is not a flight sim, and that's just not what the content of the game is about. Even at level 100 there will be no small portions of the game world intended to provide relevant content even to max-level players. These zones may even unlock over the course of the expansion, or the content in them will progress in story and scope throughout content patches. Content has to be designed with the expectation that there either is or is not flight, and approaching ground-level content from the ground
offers more compelling gameplay. Raids, dungeons, and PvP continue to disallow flying for this same reason.
It's also important to think about not just what the content is, but how it's experienced. Not everyone that plays the game cares how quests and outdoor content are experienced, of course. Some may find it unnecessary; they don't feel it adds anything to their experience. Others play through it fairly quickly, enjoy it, but don't particularly want to put much thought into why. Some may begrudgingly trudge through the content just so they can get to the part of the game they do want to play, and any other number of situations and preferences.
I'm sure some of you see the fortress example with the flying mount and see nothing wrong, if that's how someone wants to play the game they should be allowed to. But a game is largely defined by its limitations, and the rules within which you must find or create a solution. We're not trying to create a slow and laborious game (hopefully people actually enjoy the content!), or expect people will be yelling "YIIIPPPEEEEE!" while fighting a mob that aggroed when they tried to pick an herb, but there's a big difference between a slow and laborious game and the expectation of instant gratification-not to mention the somewhat nebulous intention of creating and maintaining an engaging and immersive game world. World of Warcraft is a persistent online roleplaying game, and as much as we let players choose how they improve their characters within the world; leveling through dungeons, or PvP, or questing; choosing to do Arenas, or raids, or both; we're still always wanting to create a holistic experience that supports all of these things. That doesn't mean we think it's a good idea to force people to read all their quest text, or stare at and appreciate the pretty new models, or anything like that, but it's not unreasonable to see that combat and content exist on the ground, understand that, embrace that, and make decisions to support it.
In summary: It's important to us that we integrate max-level questing into the expansion more thoroughly than designated daily locations on mountain tops, or only have the option of releasing new max level content in magically appearing islands where flight has different rules because reasons. We also know that being able to approach content that's on the ground from up in the air compromises much of what creates the game world, how it's played, and how it's consumed. The game experience is fundamentally altered when you can lift off and set down wherever you want. And lastly, that we're not intending to slow anyone down, and we're going to make sure that players can get where they want to go efficiently through more direct flight points, and potentially alternate travel methods.
None of this is new philosophy; it's something we've maintained since Burning Crusade when flight was introduced, but it has evolved over the years, and I expect it to continue to be-like everything we do-an iterative process. And hopefully this has been at least marginally informative.