Tobold's Blog
Friday, May 09, 2008
Strategic release of WotLK information

Thanks to all of you who wrote to tell me that Blizzard has released a bunch of information about Wrath of the Lich King: Deathknight details, including the fact that all races can play one, yay gnome deathknights! Details on dungeons and raids in Wrath of the Lich King, including the plan to make the every raid dungeon into both an easier 10-man raid as well as a harder 25-man raid with better loot and a separate timer. Lots of stuff, I'll still need some time to process it all before I can write about it.

But what I would already like to remark is the curious fact of how Blizzard remained ultra-silent and secret about everything related to Wrath of the Lich King for so many months, and then suddenly floods us with a deluge of new information less than two weeks before the release date of Age of Conan. I can't help but think of that as a strategic defensive move. Blizzard's game development department might be slow, but their marketing department apparently owns a calendar.
Marketing doesn't always work the way it's intended. Gnome Deathknights? Talk about the straw that broke the camel's back! Bye bye WoW, hello AoC :P
Ummm isn't this about right on schedule for what they said at Blizzcon when they first started announcing details? I could of swore they had said they would release info around this time and the community reps have been hinting at it for some time.
Nice information - from what we know at this point, I think they're doing a LOT right with the Death Knight class.

Here's hoping they open up the "start at level 55" option for other classes at some point in the future as well.

Oh, and I really doubt they're much worried about AoC.
I think Blizzard *should* be scared of the competition coming in and taking away significant portions of their player base. WoW is definitely showing its age.

I just don't know if either AoC or WAR will be those games...
Hey come on - there is nothing funny about Gnome Deathknights???
Wow, I just read about having both 25-man and 10-man versions of all raid instances. They're moving very much in the right direction here, finally shaking off some of the EQ roots that have been keeping the game down.

I'm officially excited about this expansion. WoW continues to improve, and that's going to be great for the genre as a whole. In the future, new MMOs won't have to re-learn the lessons that Blizzard is finally figuring out.

Now, if only they'd fix gear imbalances in PvP...
PR and marketing wise it is a good moment to release this much info, scoring high on both quantity and quality too. But i wouldnt expect anything else from the makers of the king of MMO's and also think that the planned this long before as another poster mentioned.

Also, i dont think Blizzard is very worried about AoC, but that game was getting alot of attention (not all positive though) and its better to have that attention for your own products.

I like the way the new continent looks btw, the return to a more "normal" fantasy setting is good imho.
I made a prediction about the release date of Wrath of the Lich King if anyone wants to go check it out on my blog. Whether it ends up being accurate or not, it's always fun to try to predict these things. I made the link go straight to the post.
Hey come on - there is nothing funny about Gnome Deathknights?

I just wish there was something heroic about deathknights. Thats my problem with the idea of a hero class called the deathknight.
Lol... Blizzard being afraid of another MMO... rofl.

There's not really anything on the horizon that poses a real challenge yet. AoC and WAR are both very professional, so we'll have to see how they affect the market.

No real way to tell yet.
Anyone with a level 55 can start a DK. No questing required. I'm curios how they'll handle crafting.

Are we expected to take a 55 DK all the way back to the newbie zones, so we can pick herbs and skin wolves?

OH, and the dogfighting looked awesome.
Actually the 10 and 25 raid versions of all of those raid instances is an excellent idea.

It deals with the fact that many often cannot experience the full story of WOW due to raiding logistics yet still fulfills the hardcore niche.

I can only applaud at that particular choice. Hopefully gone are the days that 1% of the population sees the cutting edge content.
First off, all hail gnome death knights. I'd hesitant about rolling a gnome deathknight only because 3 out of the 4 level 70's I have are gnomes.

Secondly, I'm excited for WotLK. I havn't really cared about WoW lately, infact I've been playing GTA 4 and Guildwars for the past month. The end game grind of WoW has really turned me off from it.

Finally, WotLK is approching two years from the BC. Two years is too long for 10 levels, and two races. Blizzard needs to step it up. WotLK should be out by now, esp since Blizzard promissed expansions every year.
I am actually a little fightened that the description of Death Knight's as a specialist tank that will do well against caster targets came not long after I responded to the blog about Warrior Tanks being pushed out by Death Knights... There goes the spell reflect defense.

The news about the 25man/10man versions of raids is very good to hear. The fact that they don't have any raid bosses designed yet though... that makes me wonder just how far they really have gotten with this thing if they are still on a conceptual level with a lot of this stuff.
Also, i dont think Blizzard is very worried about AoC

I disagree. Maybe they wouldn't say "worried" but still changing strategies because of them. After AoC and WAR announced features, suddenly Blizzard announced similar features, seige engines, capturing keeps, pve quests to participate, etc. They are scared enough they are copying the main features.

They did the same after LOTRO came out, even though many people came back to WoW, they came back to find guild banks, enhanced minimaps, more guild and voice features, all of which were asked for but never implemented until the competition provided it.

The past 15 years most CEOs are smart enough to realize no matter how powerful their company is they are only a year or two away from losing most of their market. Which is why Bill Gates kept giving out copies of The Innovator's Dilemma.
I just wish there was something heroic about deathknights. Thats my problem with the idea of a hero class called the deathknight.

I disagree. When you play the RTS, your point-of-view follows Arthas down the road to becoming a Death Knight and you even play the Undead side from that perspective. It’s certainly heroic and epic feeling when you play the RTS, so I can understand why it is viewed as a hero class.

From a lore perspective, the current Horde and Alliance factions are both benevolent good people trying to rid the world of common enemies. They don’t get along (true) but they have agreed to maintain peaceful relations in an effort to rid the world of bad guys. Even the Forsaken are not evil since they fight on the side of right and are working against the Scourge.

While you can make the argument that the Deathknights storyline should be more closely linked to Forsaken than the other races, I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility that a “hero” could return from the dead to lead his people. How would the Alliance feel if Uther’s ghost showed up to aid them? I think the DK story arc will be along those lines. A fallen hero returned to lead his people back against the evil tyranny that led him into the darkness. That seems pretty damn heroic to me…
Maybe a goblin Death Knight? :D

Maybe crafting will introduce a money-sink.
1000g to purchase kill level 300.
5000g to purchase the ability for a third profession.

And if any of you Alliance see a gnome Death Knight, force-feed them a Deviate Fish.
Although i like what i see sofar from WotLK i too am a bit disappointed in the DKs. Apparently a Hero Class is just like any other class only it starts at a higher level. I would have preferred some differentiation within classes, specializations if you will, comparable to subclassing in a lot of other rpgs. I guess its just too hard to make all diversions from the main class really different, feasable in pve and pvp and somehow balanced.
no sid I'll never accept deathknights as heroes. I think from a psychological perspective it was a foolish mistake. But thats my opinion. If you wanna play the deathknight and get all excited about being an undead anti-life hero of the world more power to you.

For me it would be like trying to go watch a dracula movie with him as the hero. Vampiric bloodsucking hero of humanity. Not for me.

And I'll make the prediction now before it launches. the 10/25 mans will be the same mess that heroic 5 mans are.

I can see it now guilds will be screaming because well geared 10 man raiders don't want to join thier guild and do the "exact same thing" in heroic mode.
Uthers ghost would be one thing sid.

His rotting corpse in armour another entireley. Cause thats what deathknights are. Corpses walking among the living.

I'd bet Uther in that light wouldn't be welcomed anywhere but the undercity.
For me it would be like trying to go watch a dracula movie with him as the hero. Vampiric bloodsucking hero of humanity. Not for me.

Well, your initial comment was that you see nothing heroic in a deathknight. I disagree because I think that’s narrow minded. Some of my favorite books feature very prominent anti-heroes. I find a very kharma-like balance can be achieved when bad guys do the right thing. Those story arcs tend to be very much about redemption and illustrate that even the worst people can choose to make things better in the world. In many ways, I find stories like that far more poignant than something as straightforward as good vs. evil. I really don’t see much conceptual difference between a deathknight being a hero and Batman, Spawn or The Punisher. Not every hero has to be a Superman or Wonder woman caricature.

That being said, I’ll agree that an anti-hero is not something that is stylistically something everyone will enjoy. I can see how an undead hero can appear to be too contrasting a concept to accept for many people. From your example, I take it that you didn’t enjoy the movie Underworld.
There are also issues with hordes of Death Knights running about. The idea of the redeemed traitor is nice, but scads of those who gave their souls over to Arthus for power, turning on their own people, murdering and enslaving them, then all of the sudden coming back to work with those whom they had betrayed (and being accepted back, on top of all they have done). that is much harder to swallow, and not really very heroic.

We already have a Morgan L. story in WoW. And he was not so much redemmed, as released from undeath and forgiven by his surviving daughter.

The current move to make Death Knights heroes; it is a bad idea.

Death knights, as a whole (regardless of those rare instances of turnabout), are willing servents of evil. It would have been better to have an evil faction and just let them have death knights.
To posters above complaining about death knights, compare to warlocks that are already accepted in the game. In addition, there's no reason the death knights people are playing would have to have done lots of destruction, they just would have t have joined the undead, figured out how to use the powers, than had second thoughts and switched sides back.

They also provide new types of spells (backstory/description wise, not necessarily gameplay wise outside of the rune system.)
In addition, I will now have some fun with the tendency for WoW to stick in good features of other MMORPGs when they get released:

Age of Conan: In addition to adding siege weapons and keeps, blizzard will also go back and increase the muscle and breast size on all character models to produce a more "mature" effect. Undead characters will also emit putrid fumes from their decay, and cause surrounding living characters to vomit.

Starcraft 2: Possibly the biggest upcoming threat to World of Warcraft, the blizzard designers plan to add numerous new features, including extra support for player created maps. Several characters classes have been upgraded from the previous game, for example, rogues can now jump up and down cliffs, and Paladins have a special "hardened shield" which activates when hit with damage above a certain amount.

Guild wars 2: Around august, with some more information potentially released and a possible beta, Blizzard plans to add a "guild center" to world of warcraft. Guild centers are purchasable from goblin ambassadors for 3,000 gold, and come in 6 different types: desert center (based off durotar), mountain center (based off Dun Morogh), Forest center (Ashenvale), Volcanic center (Searing gorge/burning steppes), and plains center (mulgore). Netherstorm based and Zangarmarsh centers are planned for the future. These centers will allow access to battlegrounds, and NPCs canbe purchased for the centers including bankers, auctioneers, weapon and armor vendors, etc. People in a guild will also be given a "guild teleporter", which will take them to the guild center andcharge it up, and when in the center, take them to where they previously were. and discharge it. This would have a 1 hour cooldown.

Spore: Players, with enough reputation with goblin, gnome, Naaru, Draenei, or blood elf factions, will be able to design and purchase their own space ships, to travel to other worlds created by other MMORPGS, blizzard worlds, and some others, and interact with them, either declaring war, terraforming, or taking samples from these other worlds. This multi-world "metaverse" will be created through a procedural generation process where other people's work is copied and added to the warcraft universe.
The idea of the redeemed traitor is nice, but scads of those who gave their souls over to Arthus for power

Hmm. Well, I think we need to refrain from thinking about it as scads. I would draw the comparison to questing. I mean, how many times is Thazz’ril going to lose his pick?! I alone have returned the blasted thing to him at least half a dozen times. I’m sure it’s been returned to him a hundred million times in the past four years. Sometimes my friends and I have even returned two picks at the same time!!

The point being that the “story being told” to us is in the context of your individual character. The story progression doesn’t require it be known how many “others” exist of your kind or how many of you are doing similar things. The only notable exception are the world events like the Sunwell dailies.
And now they've started an overlapping PR blitz for BlizzCon.

I think it's backfiring though, because you're not the only one to note the non-coincidental timing. If they were following a normal schedule I'd expect these press releases to roll out closer to E3.

Blizz would have been smarter to start this PR campaign just after the Age of Conan release, not before. In shining a spotlight on themselves they've cast some light on the competitor about to launch.
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