Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
My interview with Tigole

... isn't going to happen. Using all the addresses I could find and those suggested by readers, I still got absolutely no reply from Blizzard to my request of getting something like a press pass for the 2008 Blizzard Invitational. Not even a "No", just stony silence. So I'll just go there as a regular visitor, and won't get to talk to anyone. Too bad, I would have liked to interview one of the developers of World of Warcraft. But hey, if silence is all the response I get anyway, I can easily simulate a whole interview with Tigole, just asking my questions and putting <silence> as response. So here we go:

Tobold: Today we have with us Jeffrey "Tigole" Kaplan, Lead Game Designer at Blizzard Entertainment, responsible for "world design" for World of Warcraft. Tigole, thank you for joining us in absolute silence. Tigole, before you got the job at Blizzard, you were guild leader of Legacy of Steel, one of the top raiding guilds in Everquest. It is said that game developers create the games they would most like to play themselves. Is that true in your case? Would World of Warcraft have been a much different game if you had been lets say guild leader of a PvP guild in Dark Age of Camelot instead?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Let's talk a bit more about PvP. Everquest had no PvP at all on most servers. The Warcraft lore would have fit well with a more PvP-centric game, but the various PvP systems like honor points, PvP rewards, battlegrounds and arenas have only been patched in later. You're on record as calling PvP rewards "welfare epics", is it fair to say that you aren't a big fan of PvP personally?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Last question on PvP: The PvP part of World of Warcraft is apparently perceived as a weak spot in an otherwise immensely successful giant of a game, and several competitors are coming out with more PvP-centric games this year. Do you perceive Age of Conan or Warhammer Online as a threat? Do you think that World of Warcraft's subscription numbers will take a visible hit when these games come out, that the population at least of WoW's PvP servers will drop noticeably?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Agreed, World of Warcraft beats all other games in excellence of execution and craftmanship, the term "polish" has entered the MMO design vocabulary because of WoW. But then Blizzard seems to be unable to produce this polished product in a timely manner. The second expansion of World of Warcraft will presumably come out close to the 4th anniversary of WoW, two years per expansion on average. What prevents Blizzard from keeping an earlier promise of releasing one expansion per year? And no, one expansion in early 2007 and the next in late 2008 doesn't count.

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: So will there be a third expansion in 2009?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Will the feature list of that third expansion mainly consist of raising the level cap to 90, a new continent with level 80 to 90 content, one more hero class, and one more crafting profession? Or could you imagine expanding WoW in a different dimension, like creating a new continent with new races and level 1 to 80 content, or adding totally new features like player housing?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: If you introduce player housing, the step to guild halls isn't a big one. Are there any plans to introduce more features for guilds, like guild ranks, guild halls to hang up trophies from successful raids, a guild loyalty and reputation system, a guild event calendar, or better web support for guilds? Would you say that creating better social systems can prolong the longevity of a MMORPG, because people want to stay in the game their friends are in?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Back to your main area of expertise: raids. In the Burning Crusade there was a distinctive trend of increasing the power of players, and decreasing the difficulty of raid encounters with every patch. All attunement requirements have been removed, some bosses like Magtheridon have been considerably nerfed, and getting epic gear by various means has been made a lot easier. Was that a deliberate plan from the start, or was that a learning process in which you adjusted the accessibility of raiding in function of the progress the players showed? Will the first raiding dungeon in Wrath of the Lich King be easier than the original Karazhan?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Do you think that there is value in making raid content more accessible to the average player? Is there value in having extremely hard content which only a very small elite of players can access? And do you think you can combine the two with your announced new concept of having all raid dungeons in WotLK have an easier 10-man version and a harder 25-man version?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Final question: History suggests that MMORPGs decline in subscription numbers after a couple of years, because players get bored of playing always the same game, and newer games becon with new features and advanced graphics. Do you see World of Warcraft as still growing, stable, or slowly declining? Do you think that WoW can keep up at 10+ million subscribers by adding regular content patches and expansions, or would it be better for Blizzard to concentrate on creating a next-generation MMORPG?

Tigole: <silence>

Tobold: Thank you for your continueing silence!

As you can see you can ask much more daring questions if your interview partner is absent and silent. Of course Tigole is invited to send me his responses and I'd insert them in this interview, but somehow I doubt he will do so. I'd continue this series of silent interviews with a Warhammer Online interview with Paul "Bears, Bears, Bears" Barnett, but had to cancel the idea because nobody can imagine Paul Barnett to be silent for that long. :)
Great interview Tobold!

Oh, Tobold, that last sentence was so harsh -- but so deliciously true.
They're scared of you )

In all seriousness, the best way to judge future behavior is from past behavior. Since Blizzard is always late with everything, it's safe to assume that expansion number three will not be released 12 months after expansion number two.
what do you mean by "guild ranks"
Out of curiosity, do you still really think that WotLK will be coming out on/around the 4 year anniversary (so somewhere near November/holidays 2008)?

Considering that it's not even in beta and that they've mentioned not yet working on even a single raid encounter in it to date.. My guesstimate has it at summer 2009 at the earliest.

Considering that it's not even in beta and that they've mentioned not yet working on even a single raid encounter in it to date.. My guesstimate has it at summer 2009 at the earliest.

Where did you read that they haven't begun working on raid encounters yet?
Does this mean you count yourself as a game journalist yet?
what do you mean by "guild ranks"

Guilds gaining "levels", like in EQ2 or LotRO.

My guesstimate has it at summer 2009 at the earliest.

I wouldn't confuse Blizzard being secretive with them not having done anything. I'm pretty certain that Warhammer Online will be making a 2008 release. If Blizzard pushed Wrath of the Lich King into summer 2009, that could put a visible dent into their profits. Can you imagine playing TBC for one more full year? I'd think many players would be completely burned out by then.

Does this mean you count yourself as a game journalist yet?

My stance on that is that it isn't important whether *I* count myself as a game journalist. The important question is whether game companies count me a such, and would be willing to give me priviledged access based on that. Up to now it doesn't appear as if Blizzard does count me as press.
a reply from WOW forumer

quote :

if he's the lead game designer, maybe he has other things to do

you're not the only press person to ever try and interview somebody big

might try the who you know approach rather than what

could work better than a bitter, self-indulging interview

if you're really serious about being a reporter
should just try harder at getting your reporting done for real until you get it

not just write angry letters ... plenty of reporters are already non-flattering

heck... you could even write in what responses you THINK he might have had
maybe have something for whoever your reading audience might be anyway

but something unoriginal as this, gets no attention in a world with 100 other people being just as unhappy

press passes usually don't go to people because they ask, they go because the company they're affiliated with asks

and i never worked for a paper, magazine, or tv station about games or anything
but those questions don't seem that amazing

they'd have to be great to get you a press pass handed to you

maybe u can change tactics and actually get the real thing? dream is a dream
why not do it until u win for real? now it's just another annoyed forum post with all the other wow subscribers.....

sorry u didn't get that pass
The mock interview was a joke, Anonymous. I personally found it pretty funny. Lighten up.
You forgot to ask if Blizzard is having a hard time figuring out how to make new content due to designer burnout.
Ooh a bit bitter this morning huh? I hope they are just being a little slow with the response, I would love to get your take on BlizCon. Fluff pieces from IGN and whatnot only go so far...

BTW, did Tigole have previous game experience, or was he hired purely on being an EQ player?
Purely a game player - hence his utterly one-dimensional view of what players want from mmorpgs.
The MMO Blogsphere seems to be under the impression that Blizzard won't release WOTLK until sometime in 2009. I personally believe that they have a pretty good shot of making it in November/December 2008 -- and I'm usually one of the release date cynics. The fact that WOTLK isn't in Beta yet really doesn't mean a thing, seeing as the BC beta lasted just shy of three months. Blizzard released BC information at the Blizzcon in October 2005, and BC came out in January 2007. Assuming a similar time frame would mean that WOTLK, which was announced in August 2007, would enter Beta sometime in August and be released at the beginning of November.

Personally, I like those odds. The only unkown so far is WAR. Vanguard got burned hard when it tried to compete directly with BC, but as WAR is shaping up to be a bit more of a contender, it's really hard to perdict the extent to which Mythic will try to dance around the WOTLK release.

My vote is for WOTLK releasing right around the beginning of December and WAR pulling a LOTRO and not releasing until March or April 2009.
well neil, we've heard the same optimistics type of comments with every release date blizzard has ever had. And they never get it out as early as people think they will.

They won't rush it for war. It wouldn't be a horrible strategy to let war hit the shelves and see if the PVP pulls away a huge number of people. They they could tweak what they've got PVP wise in WOTLK.

blizzard always prefers to let the other companies take the risks they sit back and see what works and then tweak it.
What a great post. I don't know if I'm laying too much at the feet of a single game designer but several trends in World of Warcraft started right after Tigole became lead game designer. The one that was the most painful was the lack of single group content after Dire Maul.

PvP has traditionally been very bad in WoW but has improved over the last year with meaningful awards and crude attempts at a ranking system. It's a bit obvious that it's something new for the Blizzard developers because they keep leaving huge holes that allow many exploits. They also seem hamstrung by a lot of initial game decisions made when WoW was strictly PvE based.
Nice interview. I found Blizzard's responses to your questions telling as to their future development plans. It's business as usual for the time being!
PvP has traditionally been very bad in WoW but has improved over the last year with meaningful awards and crude attempts at a ranking system. It's a bit obvious that it's something new for the Blizzard developers because they keep leaving huge holes that allow many exploits.

This does seem kind of odd in a way, though, given that blizard's main games before WoW were the RTS ones known for relatively balanced multiplayer online play. (Though of course the people developing the two games will be different.)
Kind of amusing... but I'm sure if you had a job like Tigole's, you probably wouldnt have time to write blogs like these, much less respond to a bloggers' interview request... So yes, I also found your interview immature though I know it was supposed to be a joke. Gererally I love your blog, but I dont see any reason why Kaplan should grant you any of his precious time. Your interview makes Blizzard look silly, and I thought it was also kind of disrespectful, in sharp contrast to the common tone of your blog. Maybe not what you intended but that's what comes across.
Tigole deserves every bit of flak he gets.... Me no likey. (not just because.. I have good reasons)
Loved the interview.

Anyone whining, complaining, or making negative comments needs to understand what it was.


Deal with it. It was funny. If you don't like it, go watch television. You won't need brain cells for that.
honestly I've seen far too many smart ass off the cuff forum posts by kalgan and tigole to have much respect for them.

They both seem to have a problem being professional in all thier communications.
Man I laughed! Thank you Tobold.

Tigole deserves all the stick he gets IMHO. As for making Bliz look stupid, this blog post hardly started that. Regarding Tigole's time to reply... you're probably right, the rest of the DEV team are showing him how use the new 'Lego' blocks... you know the ones that allow him to convey what he wants a dungeon to look like.
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