World of Warcraft developer Blizzard is gearing up to launch the game’s next expansion Mists of Pandaria this week. The developer has responded to criticisms surrounding the brutally difficult dungeons in previous expansion Cataclysm.
Speaking with AusGamer, lead encounter designee Ion Hazzikostas reflected on Cataclysm’s most frequently discussed dungeon issues, “Well, we’re constantly looking at feedback from our players and learning lessons. Sadly we’re not perfect in what we do but we try to improve and fix past mistakes.”
“Just a couple of examples,” he continued, “in the older world, one thing that we noticed is that there’s a lot of potential in the use of phasing and the quest team used that to great effect to help players feel like they were part of the story and were progressing and advancing that story, but at the same time though, it can also serve to divide players.”
“On a dungeon related note,” he added “one thing that we’ve clearly heard from our players at the start of Cataclysm is that many of them found our heroic dungeons to be too difficult and they had a frustrating experience as a result, and some of that was a product of the fact that we began making our Cataclysm dungeons – and they were primarily designed – before the Looking For Dungeon tool was live on servers.”
“So we were designing dungeons for the traditional audience that had always consumed dungeon content, that is to say groups of friends and guild mates. But it turned out by the time Cataclysm came out there had been a massive shift in that regard as a result of the Looking For Dungeon feature and most dungeons were being run by randomly match-made groups of people who were queuing individually and were playing with others who they had likely never played with before and likely would never play with again and that completely changes the dynamic of how you respond to difficulty and how you respond to adversity.”
Hazzikostas then shed light on his team’s new approach to dungeons in Mists of Pandaria, “Obviously we quickly changed the tuning of the dungeons in Cataclysm, but these are lessons we’ve learnt and taken to heart moving forwards when designing the dungeons for Mists of Pandaria. Players who were frustrated by the Cataclysm dungeons should find a much better experience at level 90 when they start running dungeons.”
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria launches 25th September.