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Why Mists of Pandaria?

Why Mists of Pandaria?


First, for some context, we showed a lot of pandaren at BlizzCon because that was the art we had completed at the time (and obviously it's the new playable race). Are there pandaren all over the new continent? Of course. There are also some really unique cultures and new races, including some very diabolical villains in the form of the mogu, the mantid, and the sha.

As a few posters have pointed out, Pandaria starts out relatively unspoiled. (spoiler!) That isn’t going to last. The Horde versus Alliance conflict is going to continue to ratchet up in a way we've often talked about, but never really delivered before now. It gives the story more depth (we hope!) when you get to see the “before” before the “after.”

The new continent has a heavy Asian vibe, but it’s still a fantasy game and there are some very fantastic and original landscapes as well. The last few zones in particular are what we like to call "high concept." You won’t find anything like them in the real world.

With all that said, you might still be asking, "why MoP?"

We think, more than seven years into World of Warcraft's life cycle, it's time to start some new stories. Previous expansions relied heavily on heroes and villains established in the Warcraft RTS games. We aren’t content to rest on our laurels though. We want to introduce some new characters to get to know. We want to have some new enemies to fight. Perhaps, most importantly, we want to start sowing the seeds for future stories. Nothing is lamer than finding out that the boss you're supposed to kill is someone you've never heard of. It’s a lot more fun when you get to know the bad guys, get a reason to hate them, and feel like you're thwarting their diabolical plans and not just killing them for loot.

We've focused a lot on the lighter side of Mists of Pandaria as a contrast to the world-ending vibe of Cataclysm. It’s not all unicorns and butterflies however. There are dark secrets lurking beneath the new continent, and in some ways they're even more insidious, because you get to experience the beautiful new landscapes before they become threatened and sometimes even destroyed.

To summarize, we provided you all with a very basic framework for the next expansion at BlizzCon. By the time the press tour ends in March, expect to get a lot more information on the real meat of this expansion. It won't be correctly summarized by a portrait of a smiling panda chewing on bamboo. 

Phasing is one of the most powerful tools in the designer toolkit. But like many powerful tools, it can cause great damage if used incorrectly. We definitely have overdone it in the past.

There is some phasing in Mists, but we try to take care not to separate friends, create ghosted mining nodes, and similarly disrupt your gameplay. What we were really referring to by the “dark secrets” is the way the story unfolds. The story in Cataclysm was something players knew from the outset -- Deathwing is back. The players were still heroes trying to undo some of the damage he caused, but they also still largely reacted to the things Deathwing and his minions had already done. In Mists we're attempting to take that one step further and have the world react to the players, and not just have the players react to the world. It gives the game a dynamic, “alive” feeling which is very much needed in a persistent-world game.

Some of the changes we’re talking about aren't going to happen right away, but we’ll build toward them in subsequent patches. While you can’t truly keep story secrets in this business, we're trying not to spoil the surprises too early. In retrospect, we’ve taken a little bit of flak for this approach, because the misconception among some players is that the new continent has no conflict. There is plenty of conflict, but a lot of it begins when you arrive (rather than in Cataclysm, where great cracks in Azeroth appeared before your adventuring began).

 

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