Wowhead's interview with Kosak

Story Forum
http://www.wowhead.com/news=206589/interviews-with-lead-quest-designer-dave-kosak-lead-encounter-designer-ion-hazzi

Well there are some hints of how they want the lore to progress.

one that goes between major events on two continents? We're both exploring Pandaria and learning more about Garrosh's awful leadership at the same time. How can players feel like they have a good grasp on all the storylines?
It is a challenge. That's one of the reasons we redid the Jade Forest introduction: so players could get a clearer sense of the conflict and where things are going in the future. Making the Alliance and Horde conflict a central plotline is turning out to be a real challenge too. It's challenging because Horde players don't want their Warchief turning into a villain and Alliance players don't want a military setback. But all those things have to happen if we want to tell a story that involves both factions.

We want more players to be amped up about the Horde's changing leadership. We want Alliance players to feel like they've overcome a huge challenge and bonded together as a result. That's a tough story to tell. Everyone has expectations of what they want the Horde and Alliance to be. We're telling a very ambitious story and doing a lot of cool things with the narrative in interesting ways.


What sorts of things inspired Pandaria--lore, mythology, culture? How did you create a new area that on the surface, seems quite different from Azeroth, while still making players feel like they're tied to Azeroth?
It's an interesting expansion, because Pandaria's been hidden for over 10,000 years. It gives us the chance to do something totally new even though things are going on in Azeroth still. I think we used Pandaria's alienation to our advantage. Early in the opening sequences, you see giant Horde and Alliance gunships hovering over a small Pandaren town. You have a real feeling that they're invading someone else's space which we feel is pretty cool. We want to play with that feeling throughout the expansion.

You also asked how we create a new culture. What's great about Pandaria is that we can delve deep into a new culture and explore what they're about. We wanted to make sure that not all Pandaren were Kung-Fu masters or wise old masters or other stereotypes. There's definitely elements of that in the game, but you also have Pandaren farmers, Pandaren brewmasters, Pandaren tradesmen, fishermen…they're in all flavors. Family is very important to the Pandaren too, so we want to explore family relationships.

The whole world itself helps creates the Pandaren culture too. The sha energy haunts this continent, so the Pandaren have developed a culture that learned to adapt to that threat. They're very easy-going and they don't hold grudges--and the reason they don't hold grudges is because they know those negative emotions can become real and bite them in the butt. They're very laid back and that puts them in contrast with the Alliance and the Horde. It makes for an interesting story: they ask questions that the Alliance and the Horde don't usually ask, like "Why are you guys fighting in the first place?" We vaguely hint at that in the opening cinematic itself.


I just finished running the new Theramore Scenario. What was it like collaborating with Christie Golden on the scenario? Also, what were the challenges behind coming up with Theramore's plot arc--something that would be so volatile among players with faction pride?
So much of it was trying to look at the franchise on a big picture level. We have trouble involving Jaina in world events, she's been very much a peacekeeper since Warcraft 3. And it's hard to keep that peacekeeping role front and center in the current situation. We looked for ways to level up Jaina and have an interesting story arc with her. This recent crisis is very compelling for her and we elaborated on it in the novel. But we don't just want major events happening in novels that don't happen in game. We looked for ways players could get a sense of the story and progression in game.

We thought Theramore was a great way to kick things off and see what the Alliance and Horde are up to. It's dark. It's a very dark opening to an expansion that has lighter aspects. It showcases the brutality of the war and how it will carry forward. You can see how Jaina reacts to it by reading the novel, but we hope to show her reaction in game too and carry it forward beyond the novel's events. I encourage players to pick up the book though! Christie Golden did a great job with it.
Can you talk a little about how you take relatively static plotlines or characters like Jaina and Garrosh and dynamically change them in plausible ways that stay true to their characters?
There's no one decision-maker at Blizzard necessarily. There's a team of us making decisions, along with Chris Metzen. We brainstorm a lot of ideas, searching for those heroic plot arcs that we've come to love in World of Warcraft so much. Jaina's arc definitely engages players, which is good.

It's tricky because story is something is an art, not a science. We kick around a lot of ideas and go with what feels right to provide great events players can witness in game. If they're along for the full ride, they'll be part of powerful moments. We're working on some great things for 5.1 already: the Alliance and Horde conflict will spill out onto the shores of Pandaria. Big things will happen and we had to set those things up now with the novel and the in-game event. It all pays off for the rest of the expansion.


I almost wish I could just skip to 5.1. I want more faction conflict!
These sound interesting. It will be fun to see how the story develops.
I love the Pandaren, especially since they're right.

Why are we fighting?

It really just boils down to "we've always fought."
09/20/2012 09:49 PMPosted by Zerde
It's challenging because Horde players don't want their Warchief turning into a villain and Alliance players don't want a military setback. But all those things have to happen if we want to tell a story that involves both factions.


Nice to see the recognition.
I love the Pandaren, especially since they're right.

Why are we fighting?

It really just boils down to "we've always fought."


Theramore and Ashenvale are not "We've always fought."

Lordaeron and Hillsbarad are not "We've always fought."

That's where this expansion's story is going to fall flat. You can't tell me that the Alliance is fighting because of "hatred" or "intertia" anymore. Not after Southshore. Not after Astranaar. And CERTAINLY not after Theramore.

We are fighting for survival. And if a Pandaren tries to tell me any different, I hope I have the option to sock said Pandaren in the jaw so hard his cubs will feel it.
But for all the valid reasons we're fighting now, most of it ultimately started with "we've always fought."
I don't buy that. Horde have been invading Alliance lands since Vanilla. Alliance has been pushing them back since Vanilla.

It's always been about defending our homes from Horde encroachment. Because they have always been pushing.
09/20/2012 10:19 PMPosted by Jaelara
We are fighting for survival. And if a Pandaren tries to tell me any different, I hope I have the option to sock said Pandaren in the jaw so hard his cubs will feel it.


You sound like Garrosh.

But for all the valid reasons we're fighting now, most of it ultimately started with "we've always fought."


Which I continually try and point out when people try and boil everything down to a single event and a pointing finger.

09/20/2012 10:23 PMPosted by Jaelara
It's always been about defending our homes from Horde encroachment


Come on, Jaelara. This is willful ignorance. Or did Daelin not exist?
09/20/2012 09:49 PMPosted by Zerde
Horde conflict a central plotline is turning out to be a real challenge too. It's challenging because Horde players don't want their Warchief turning into a villain


This is the part that really rustled my jimmies. I mean, it's great because at least they acknowledge it, but the pure fact of the matter is that Horde players have nothing else besides the Warchief when it comes to it.

Sure, we have Baine and Vol'jin, who've recently been getting a bit of character development, but since the start of WoW, the Horde's central theme in lore has been focus on one character, everything else supports that character.

And that's where the Alliance comes in. There was no central character that was leading the Alliance at that point. Bolvar and Prestor were guiding Anduin, and everyone adored Bolvar, but not all the Alliance lore was around him. Marcus Johnathan, for instance, was able to become a major character.

And that's the flaw with Blizzard and the Horde. Currently, it's just a bunch of minor characters (Rageroar, Overlord in Desolation hold that gets killed by another Warlord, Kromgar) that are there to try to indicate that Garrosh can't be a good Warchief.

Which is fine and dandy and all, but again it's Blizzard keeping to the trend of making character appear out of thin air to be killed so Garrosh can look bad.

That is what I wish they would understand.
I don't buy that. Horde have been invading Alliance lands since Vanilla. Alliance has been pushing them back since Vanilla.

It's always been about defending our homes from Horde encroachment. Because they have always been pushing.


Actually, that's completely false. Unless you're counting the Dark Horde as the Horde. The closest the Horde had gotten to 'invading' before Cataclsym was the Warsong Lumber Camp in Ashenvale.. To get wood for their huts.

The Alliance on the other hand? That's another story (For instance, Tirigarde Keep ring a bell? ;D )
It's challenging because Horde players don't want their Warchief turning into a villain and Alliance players don't want a military setback. But all those things have to happen if we want to tell a story that involves both factions.


Nice to see the recognition.


It is, but I have to disagree with the Military setback thing.

It's not needed, because it implies the Alliance can't have a story that's not involving the Horde.

They still don't get it. If the story is only happening because the Horde, the same problems will plague the Alliance. It needs it's own story and identity outside of Horde actions.

Actually, that's completely false. Unless you're counting the Dark Horde as the Horde. The closest the Horde had gotten to 'invading' before Cataclsym was the Warsong Lumber Camp in Ashenvale.. To get wood for their huts.

The Alliance on the other hand? That's another story (For instance, Tirigarde Keep ring a bell? ;D )


Horde also had quests to gather silk from Theramore.
Forsaken were poisoning sleeping druids in Ashenvale to perfect the Plague.
The Dark Horde junk.
The Forsaken were kidnapping Alliance (and Horde) civilians and travelers to experiment on.

The Horde has been fairly aggressive long before Cata, whereas Tirigarde Keep was run by a nation that hasn't been heard from since WC3. And was condemned by the Alliance.
09/20/2012 10:19 PMPosted by Jaelara
We are fighting for survival. And if a Pandaren tries to tell me any different, I hope I have the option to sock said Pandaren in the jaw so hard his cubs will feel it.

I'm not solely putting the Alliance at fault, here. The Horde is also at fault.
I don't buy that. Horde have been invading Alliance lands since Vanilla. Alliance has been pushing them back since Vanilla.

It's always been about defending our homes from Horde encroachment. Because they have always been pushing.


Actually, that's completely false. Unless you're counting the Dark Horde as the Horde. The closest the Horde had gotten to 'invading' before Cataclsym was the Warsong Lumber Camp in Ashenvale.. To get wood for their huts.

The Alliance on the other hand? That's another story (For instance, Tirigarde Keep ring a bell? ;D )


Wrong.

The Horde was specifically in Ashenvale to take over. There were multiple NPCs in Ashenvale talking about the Horde's "Right to Tame this vast wilderness. Ashenvale has been about conquest as much as wood for years now.

They also had their Forsaken friends in Ashenvale actively poisoning and killing Sleeping Alliance druids and researching plague ingredients to use on the Alliance.

Elsewhere, such as in Stonetalon and Feralas, Troll Witchdoctors actively captured, tortured, and used Voodoo magic to enslave Night Elves and their eldritch allies.

In Dustwallow, they killed Theramore outriders and scouts and actively sent spies into Theramore to gather information.

In Lordaeron, they attacked Alliance monuments and villages in Plaguelands. Nathanos Blightcaller specifically had an edict from Sylvanas to kill Alliance as well as Scourge, and he himself personally oversaw attacks against one of the last pro-Alliance High Elf villages in Lordaeron.

In Hillsbarad, the Forsaken conducted open warfare on a farming village, cutting down farmers and the meager guard force assigned to protect them in cold blood. In addition, they unleashed a Lich on Southshore itself.

And that's just off the top of my head.

The Horde was most definitely on the offensive.
The fanon is strong in this one. Someone call Warden Stillwater.
I know what quests I did in Vanilla WoW. Nothing I said in that post is factually incorrect and all of it can be traced back to environmental/quest text, quest objectives, and NPC placement in Vanilla WoW.
09/20/2012 11:03 PMPosted by Jaelara
The Horde was most definitely on the offensive.


Garrosh is on the offensive, and we are going to kill him for it.
09/20/2012 11:08 PMPosted by Jaelara
I know what quests I did in Vanilla WoW. Nothing I said in that post is factually incorrect and all of it can be traced back to environmental/quest text, quest objectives, and NPC placement in Vanilla WoW.


"Facts"? Really? Because some of it read as carefully-worded and one-sided representations of things.

Example?

the Forsaken conducted open warfare on a farming village, cutting down farmers and the meager guard force assigned to protect them in cold blood


Give me a break. Take your appeals to emotion somewhere else. If you want a discussion, remove your head from your rear end and stop playing dress up with the facts. Farming village? Meager guard assigned to protect them? And who really started that fight?

It's always been about defending our homes from Horde encroachment. Because they have always been pushing.


Wrong. Daelin? Bael Modan? Bael'dun?
Holding on to historical grudges is never healthy...

Considering what's been going on in Hillsbrad, however, the idea that the Alliance needs to "get over it" is just silly. I'm a little more optimistic though; judging by how the expansion ends, it seems like Garrosh pretty clearly becomes the source of imbalance. Thus, the Horde is posited as the antagonist/bad guy that it's pretty much become at this point.
Give me a break. Take your appeals to emotion somewhere else. If you want a discussion, remove your head from your rear end and stop playing dress up with the facts.


Some people just don't believe in their faction enough to let it stand on its own feet.
09/21/2012 12:21 AMPosted by Seiryu
Give me a break. Take your appeals to emotion somewhere else. If you want a discussion, remove your head from your rear end and stop playing dress up with the facts.


Some people just don't believe in their faction enough to let it stand on its own feet.


Some people know their faction doesn't respond to anything but whatever whims Blizzard throws at it.

Join the Conversation

Return to Forum