Gamebreaker interviews Blizzard’s Dave Kosak on Patch 5.2: The Thunder King

Gary Gannon sat down with Blizzard Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak today to discuss the recently released trailer for World of Warcraft Patch 5.2: The Thunder King, getting a behind the scenes look at the processes behind the trailer. As Blizzard Entertainment’s lead quest designer for World of Warcraft, Dave Kosak oversees the development of all quest content for the game and its expansions, as well as contributing to the overall fiction of the game world. The Gamebreaker crew took this opportunity to get their red shirts on and ask Dave about the lore of patch 5.2 and beyond!

  • Dave Kosak confirms that Patch 5.2: The Thunder King is the last patch where attention is focused on Pandaria – by eliminating the Thunder King we’re eliminating the final threat to the new continent, and from this point forward the Horde and Alliance conflict is really going to ramp up as we take the fight back to Azeroth!
  • We discuss the process behind the trailer: How did it all come together? Gary gets the inside information on what goes into making a trailer, what Blizzard hoped to achieve with it, and, of course, how they pulled out select parts from Patch 5.2: The Thunder King to show off, whilst also putting it all into a poem, written specially by Dave and the Quest Team!
  • We talk about Lei Shen, what killed him off the first time around, and did his death signal the end for the Mogu domination of Pandaria? What was he trying to achieve with the Serpent’s Spine, was he trying to keep something in, or keep something out?
  • What has happened to the Draenei and Blood Elves in the current story? They’ve been rather left by the wayside, but there’s good news for the future.
  • Ra-den’s sound file says “Wait, I am not your enemy. [...] I do not believe that you can correct this doomed course, but you have earned the right to try” and Wrathion legendary audio shares “‘We have fallen, we must rebuild the final titan. Do not forget.’ It is gone, I do not remember any of it. None of them remember” which rather implies that we might be working with the Titans rather than against them. Dave confirms that this is way more accurate than just random tin-foil hat speculation!
  • Dave discusses the new approach to lore, a move away from the cutscene heavy methods of the last expansions, and how it’s working out.
  • And, once and for all, where the hell is the seventh Sha?

 

 

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/JIndeed Jon Hutch

    Great Interview, It is great to see Gamebreaker having more contact with the developers of the games that GBTV showcases. I hope this happens more with games in the future. I know I’d be grateful if Mr. Gannon got to interviews with Matt Firor of TESO, and Wildstar’s Chad Moore. Both games I believe are going to set a good triple A tone for MMO’s in 2013/14. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kyle-Rogers/100000222205677 Kyle Rogers

    So did Kosak drop the spoiler of who is gonna be the new horde warchief at 21:12?! O.o

    • JariKiv

      I agree completely.

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      The Dominance Offensive questline really highlights several of the Horde faction leaders, but I’m cheering for Vol’jin. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kyle-Rogers/100000222205677 Kyle Rogers

         I have completely played through the Horde Dominance quest line, and during the quest where you travel to Silvermoon one of head elf guy’s minions even say “You would make a grand Warchief!” to him, so I know its something Blizz has hinted at.
        I play a troll, so I too was kinda rooting for Vol’jin, but I can handle Theron.

        • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

          There was several hints dropped about the direction of the Blood Elves.  Maybe the Blood Elves would go back to the Alliance or even start a third faction. 

          But the Vol’jin vs Garrosh conflict has escalated for a couple of expansions now and should be resolved. 

  • http://twitter.com/ChadMCowder Chad Cowder

    Great interview.  Can’t wait till Legendary for Lore and Olivia to break down and speculate from answers that were given. 

  • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

    Blizzard going full out to save their crap of a game at this point.  I really couldn’t care less.  Story of WOW…  The living server world does not keep up to that story so why on earth should ppl really bother ?   Draenei are still just landing when you start that zone…   Thats how bad of a living world BLizzard is doing when it comes to story and keeping their game up to date.

    • lilmissy4205

      Welcome to the world of RPG (Roleplaying Games). I’m so glad you know the role that Dave Kosak has at Blizzard entertainment. He is the Lead Quest Designer, which is very story central. Without story, you would have little to no purpose to enter the gaming world. In fact, you wouldn’t even have a structure of when, where, and why. And truth be told, a LOT of players are actually interested in the story of the games.

      • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

        So … daily quests are not story?  Or was Gary told specifically not to mention the words daily quest? 

        RPG does not mean that world stands still.  Blizzard has just proved over the last few years that their method of releasing expansions is not self-sustainable in terms of updating the story.  World should ofc be moving on after each major event.  THATS why ppl should bother to really sub for the game to follow an ongoing story.  Its not an ongoing story when things are then left in unchanged for years.  Thats bad story telling.  

        • lilmissy4205

          Well, the daily quests this expansion really haven’t told story. I would know. I did them all. Now the quests after hitting certain reps with factions who have daily quests, THOSE are true story.

          And let’s just toss on more work for the developers already! We just want to make the whole world of Azeroth reflect the changes that happened in Pandaria. Oh wait! We learned that didn’t do very well with Cataclysm because all of the story was in the 1-60 zones! If people don’t like story, then they certainly won’t level a new character just for the story!

          • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

            Questing should be the key to a real story.  The story of YOUR character and how that character is involved into the world it is in.   Thats again a reason why daily quests are so bad.  They are just generic stuff to grind instead of making them interesting part of a meaningful story.

            Developers of an MMO game get payed for making a world that can be updated and maintained over 10-20 years.  They should be creating content and story accordingly.  When a whole faction is just thrown in as a filler like with Draenei … then developers have not done their job very well.   

            Talking about the Cataclysm quests overhaul.  It failed so badly cause it was way too linear and did in no way take into account core assets of true story telling for each character.    And MOP has pretty much gone one step further with the removal of talent trees to make the experience totally unbearable from 1-90… just to be forced into doing dailies when you finally get to max level.

            And Blizzard themselfs told us how important they consider the story.. by giving away free lvl 80 in the end of Cata. Thats how crappy the story of WOW world really was to them. ah… just skip it.

          • lilmissy4205

            If you are wanting individuality for a character, might I suggest going over to GuildWars 2? Warcraft has not, and will never be the type to make a singular player feel uniquely special. The way they have the game set up, the masses are consolidated into one/few. The focus is on either entire races as a whole or key important NPCs that are not player controlled.

            I would rather not have to repeat the same story with daily quests a few weeks later when they popped back up. Quite honestly, that seems to be the opposite of a daily quest if you’re seeking story in that form. And I would not want minimal story given in those daily quests either when I can do 3-5 “real” quests like with the Landfall patch 5.1.

            And I did not experience any linear questing from 1-60, which was the point of my focus in the above. Later on, I’ll agree that it happened, but that happens will all areas to be honest.

            And they do have a solid world that can be updated and maintained in the next several years. But for a patch, like what we are getting in 5.2, it’s slightly obsolete to have some random change in other parts of Azeroth when you are in a singular continent. Most players quite honestly don’t care about the older areas in Azeroth and that was the biggest complaint of Cataclysm.

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            That’s a cop out reply, suggesting players if they don’t like it leave. That doesn’t help WoW, it just guards turf.

            It’s that turf war that makes otherwise nice games turn into split camps.

            Quest design in WoW is horrible. Be it only space for 25 (EQII you have 75 slots available for questing; and you can track questing in your party via your own log, so you’ll know if XYZ needs ABC item), to how the quests don’t change anything in the world but add more horrible phasing (have you been looking for the Scourged Whelpling pet in Icecrown? Do you understand the pain of finding one with all that phasing, let alone CRZ?).

            There are issues that are very real that do need addressing to better the game. Not only for lorehounds, but people questing as a primary source to level (where group tracking of quests would be a nice feature).

            BTW, the biggest complaint about the quest system during Cata was the linear forced quest lines (what folks hated about Cata was they literally blew up the world, which is depressing to see otherwise tranquil locales turn into burning pits from hell — what was done to Auberdine is a perfect example). You had to follow all the breadcrumbs to start quests in other zones. Perfect example is Thousand Needles quests, you can’t start them until you visit Tanaris to get the starter quest. If players didn’t ask they would’ve needed to goto Wowhead to even know what quest would lead them to start the Thousand Needles quest line.

            Cheerleading doesn’t get things fixed, cheerleading causes more heads to be buried in the sand. This is why folks speak out, because things can and do get broken, and damn if players are paying a monthly fee to have it continue for years without a fix.

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            Deadalon has posted on several occasions that he no longer plays WoW Mists and claims most of his current complaints are based on people he knows that still play WoW.  
            So posting a response suggesting a MMO he might be happy with, sounds in theory like a great idea.  But, I think it’s a pointless exercise now, I think Deadalon just post negative WoW posts,just because it’s his/her thing. 

            I’m showing that one of the starting quests Thousands Needles is “The Grimtotem are Coming” from the Feralas zone.   I do agree the transition to Thousands Needles is a bit awkward now.  But, it supports the internal conflict within the Tauren story.

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            People don’t become negative and continue to post about a game they want to play, if they’re not interested in improving that game so they can come back.

            People leave games for a multitude of reasons, but the reasons are personal and deep. Some it’s plain burn out; others due to gameplay; others due to class changes. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to play, they’re tired of changes that at times make no sense (change for change sake).

            There’s a serious disconnect between what Blizzard wants the game to be, and how players want to play the game. I refer it to sticking to 2004 concepts (dinosaurs) too stubborn to change, but asking players to do backflips and demanding them to change. The result is the Stanford Prison Experiment. And WoW shouldn’t have that dichotomy, but it’s fans are being pitted against fans with the “guards” egging the fighting on, like a sick game. A scientific method that has gotten out of control with the mob dictating the status quo when they think it’s how Blizzard wants it to be (which in the end is a disservice to Blizzard, as it confuses them of what players really want. Essentially loving a game to death, and pulling the devs into the same grave). It has gotten out of hand and clearly not healthy.

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            Many complain they don’t want the game to change, preferring that it remains exactly as it was in the past.  Playing exactly like it played in Vanilla or TBC.  

            Deadalon was playing a healer at the beginning of Mists. So, I totally understand his challenge with this expansion. Dailies have never been the healer friendliest content. With my resto druid, I run heroics, lfr and normal raiding. Only dabling with the tillers faction.  I enjoy the remaining content on my other toons.

            I just re-read the Standord Prison Experiment and what struck me was comparing the experiment to GamebreakerTV.  With Gary in the roll of the prison superintendent  and prison guards.  Watching his interactions with each show and set of hosts. Very interesting discussion. 

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            They have some merit for wanting to play like that. I play games that’s 10 years-old. I’m not used to constantly updated content, that even destroys the very world (and doesn’t fix it back). Not used to class changes that don’t follow any rhyme or reason. To play only on a WotLK server, would be more ideal. Had fun in that expansion, endless 25man raids, active healing model and a central villian that followed a player to the end. Plus, being a paladin there was 1000000000000001 undead to slay, and keep dead.

            Everyone has their preferences in how they like to play, yet we’re only getting content that’s rehashed from the old. Taking Consecration from a mainline paladin ability and giving it to only tanks, is like in Cata, taking Sacred Shield away from Holy paladins and giving it to Rets as a secondary bubble. We got it back as an univeral talent now, but it’s not the Sacred Shield I used on tanks in WotLK (it allows damage to pass through now, making it a very ineffective absorb shield).

            See?

            If we’re in the business of shuffling what’s already exists, going back to an earlier expansion isn’t much of a leap. I can have DI back, can have all 3 Judgements, and none of this gating to heal like Holy power. MP5 will be back, all those seals that were removed (have to goto ZD in Northrend to get Blessing of Wisdom…and it still has the same 92Mp5 value even!); hand-to-hand/weapon skills; and talent trees…and being able to play the last full length raid in WoW…and not at 90.

            Others would enjoy vanilla and TBC…but it’s a choice. And in gaming choices are a good thing.

            The comparison with the Stanford experiment is between Blizzard and it’s players. A social experiment that got out of hand, and this time Blizzard isn’t pulling out of it. The result is one crabby, obnoxious and rebellious fanbase, with the blues getting more abusive to exert control (and the Diablo 3 / Facebook incident isn’t isolated to Diablo 3, it shows the mindset of Blizzard towards the fanbase in WoW even [like they have some manual they teach from in how fans work, and stereotype them). GC got me totally wrong, and no telling how many others, but if the manual says your ABC you’re ABC. It’s that head in the sand thinking is how we have recycled content, too. Keep making the same fruit punch Kool-Aid and folks addicted to bug juice will keep drinking it. Their own dinosaurs wanting more content, but refusing to accept real cultural/systemic change.

            So, expansion only realms really isn’t much of a change. It at least keep a segment of the game happy to play, and stay playing.

          • lilmissy4205

            Why would anyone want to force people to stick with one game? If someone isn’t happy in a game, maybe they can be happy in another game. It’s not a cop out reply, it’s a reply to encourage self-happiness.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with suggesting to someone else an alternative to happiness.

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            Nobody is, but you have to realize the time+effort+money put into the game as a form of investment.

            A player can just outright leave their investment behind (easier for cheerleaders), but the player doesn’t want his time+effort+money rotting away on a closed account, either.

            So that’s the crux, either walk away or stand up and fight for changes to get a return on that investment.

            And that’s an individual choice.

          • lilmissy4205

            Sounds like an attachment issues.

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            RPGs are all about attachment. You don’t play a toon for years as some “faceless pointman”.

            It’s about character development, and you can’t develop it if it’s some throwaway.

            That’s a point Blizzard prefers, but even Blizzard can’t change the foundation of why a RPG is a RPG.

            Yeah, like Swifty the warrior becoming Swifty the mage? Can’t even envision him in a dress!

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            I disagree, the daily quests definitely tell a story.  Whether you include or not include the questlines interspersed through the faction levels.

            The only faction I don’t see a discernible story from dailies is the Anglers.  While the surrounding questlines cover the classic themes of pollution and over-fishing. The Anglers dailies seem a little light.  

    • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

      Re-listen to the previous set of interviews. There was several questions about dailies and Blizzard acknowledged the Golden Lotus/Shado Pan dailies pacing was way off.   

      • http://twitter.com/Luke_Malcolm Luke Malcolm

        I still enjoyed the story of them.

      • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

        Ye – I was listening to those as well.  Blizzard did acknowledge issues -but they did not fix those in 5.2.  Instead they created yet another system that pushes ppl to play every single day to progress (witch is not selfsustainable for any human beeing over years of gameplay).   Thats the real dissapointment here.  

        Designing a game around cutting edge mechanics has worked for BLizzard before – but its not sustainable for long by players.  Most players burn out that way in few months or years.  And in WOW – PPL that are not playing cutting edge are considered second class citizens.   That has always been the case. Thats why most ppl that quit playing that way leave the game for good. 

        • Kevyne_Shandris

          The issue here is the conflict between how humans prefer to play, and what the statistics show they can play.

          It’s at odds.

          Humans, by nature will always take the path of least resistence. Can’t blame mankind for being, by nature, human. The conflict comes with a design process that *must* make everything challenging, when this game isn’t the Olympics, it’s pure entertainment.

          Now a game isn’t fun if there’s no type of challenge, but if the challenge is obstacles that normally humans will find more annoying than challenging, it too isn’t fun.

          The balance isn’t there between defining what is the challenge for this population and what is considered fun as a challenge. Defining end-game on 10% of the population isn’t going to make the game fun for 90%. And in the end that perhaps is why the subscription numbers remain unstable.

          I championed for designs like LFR long before coming to WoW because it removed an annoyance in having fun (getting x amount of players to raid). Thrilled that it now is a concept that exists. Yet not thrilled how it was wrapped around a design that flat out rubs gamers the wrong way (the loot issues and conduct of the players). Blizzard turned LFR not as a means to train folks to raiding normally, but as a lore sideshow, and that hurts the LFR concept. Sure it got the masses to raid, but also highlighted the reason to have guild only raids, further ghettoizing the population behind enclaves (and folks wonder why concepts like world PvP is but dead in WoW? Hide behind walls to keep the “anything goes” riftraft out, and people don’t want to play with others, too. The constant threads about ganking is a symptom of that disease, people otherwise wanting to play under certain rulesets, but can’t by being camped by a group of 90s. Too many chiefs doing as they please, too few Indians wanting to play when it means endless deaths…which Armory is sure to display to the world).

          It’s not that players can’t play together or don’t want to play together, but the environment has to support many backgrounds and belief systems without polarization. That hasn’t happen yet. It’s the Wild Wild West system of anything goes, when the game needs a Wyatt Earp to clean out the corral. Then players can come out into the world, interact with others like human beings…and outnumber the bots.

        • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

          Patch 5.1 did a good job addressing the Golden Lotus/Shado Pan problems.  One of the failures of the Golden Lotus dailies, was as you progressed through the dailies, you simply open up more daily quest hubs. 

          The challenge for Shado Pan was requiring rep with another faction before you could start the dailes and Shado Pan just had too many dailies at a time.

          With Patch 5.1, dailies are no longer hidden behind other faction grinds and the Dominance Offensive had to me an intriguing storyline that ran parallel with with story.

          Now with Patch 5.2, we will see if they avoid risk of Golden Lotus with the progression unlocks.  The assumption is with progression unlocks, you can pick and chose which dailies you prefer.  Where with Golden Lotus you had to complete all the first hub dailies if you wanted to run the second and then complete all the 1st/2nd hubs before you can do the third hub.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Berger/612288895 Nick Berger

      their “crap of a game” that is the #1 subscription MMO, and has been for a while now. I can tell it’s not your game, but don’t leave such negative responses just because you don’t like it.

      • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

        #1 is always relative.  WOW has lost over 20% of its subscribers last 2 years.  At the same time other long serving MMOs are still growing and maintaining healthy populations.  Lets take EVE for example.  Its not a multi million player game – but unlike WOW – it seems to have a stable design process that improves the sub numbers with each expansion.  500K subs might not sound much but for a 8 year old game that started with under 50K…  thats actually alot bigger complishment than many realise.

        And thats the thing.  WOW has made some bad development decisions in the past few years causing a 8 year old MMO game to loose subs.  At the same time – another 8 year old MMO game has made good development decisions that keeps not only stable playerbase – but still increasing one.  

        Like I said many times before – PPL can not blame 8 year old game for why WOW is loosing subs.  EVE is just living proof of that.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Spears/100000045054762 Joseph Spears

          what you talking bout willis? 

          • Kevyne_Shandris

            Pretty clear to me: poor design decisions = unstable subscription numbers.

            WoW should be breaking the 20 million subscription mark by now (steady increase in subs due to superior gameplay; class balance; graphics and innovation), yet it lost the most subs in it’s history in Cata (and not improved by much today…it’s still lower than WotLK).

            More have left WoW than those currently playing…it has a retention problem.

            Snark isn’t bringing players back. What brings them back is if the experience is worth the time+effort+money.

        • lacslyer

          WoW is an end game content driven game, that will always have subs  rising and falling between content patches. What’s more silly about your post is how you say WoW loses 20% of it’s subs, yet that 20% is practically more the remainder of the MMO market across all other games. Furthermore, WoW has dedicated subs as much as Eve does, however it also has fluctuating subs due to it’s content release. So your whole comparison to Eve is just completely flawed when Eve is a niche game with practically no competition. 

          Lastly, I’m a bit baffled as to your claim of Eve making good development decisions when just over a year ago they implemented pay to win items in the game that caused a major player revolt.

    • Eric Davenport

      Bad troll is bad. Wish there was a way to ignore someone’s post entirely because all you do is show how you haven’t played the game in a long time. 

      • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

        I think pretty much all that read comments here on GBTV know I stopped playing MOP after patch 5.1.   Nothing has been added since so I liked to ask what shows I havn’t been playing for a “long time”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/seanthomas85 Sean Thomas

       They have the single most massive game world of any MMO… and you expect them to waste time continually revamping old content to make it “keep up with the living world”?

      Sorry, I’d rather have NEW content than them going back constantly and updating content I probably won’t even see because (GET THIS) I’m not rerolling Draenei toons on a patch-by-patch basis!

  • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

    Good interview.  I was surprised and pleased  Dave Kosak answered questions about the data mined audio files.  The tin-foil hat questions on future content was a nice touch. 

  • Eric Davenport

    Love these interview videos. I hope we can have many more in the future. This only has me more anticipated than ever for the next patch. Hell, i even leveled an Alliance character just to see the storyline from their perspective.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joseph-Spears/100000045054762 Joseph Spears

    Blizz continues to show why WoW is still King. ya subs have fallen but there is 10x more “MMOs” out there now than there was. No other game can surpass a million for more and 90 days and they are near 10 million time after time. after 5.2 it will go back up to 11 million or more like it always does. everyone hates the first tier because its “harder” the later when you can catch yup fast.  these are facts not opinion, all you have to do is look. i have even tried to leave, but i want end game and it doesn’t exist outside of WoW. Thank you Blizz!!!!!

    PS: if you hit 14 million with 1 competitor lkike during Wrath, or 9.8 million when there are 5 legit competitors like now, whats the true difference? its a game of %. ( not to mention F2P games like TERA and secret world etc.)

    • http://twitter.com/Deadalon Deadalon

      Patch 5.2 is not a catch up patch.  PPL will not be coming back for it.  They will wait till 5.4 at least.  If they come back that is.

      • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

        Sorry, I’m seeing players come back every day. Will sub go back over 10 million, who knows. There is a whole base of players that are happy with casual gameplay, willing to play for a few months at a time.  No longer feeling they have to maintained the latest best in slot gear. 

        • Kevyne_Shandris

          They don’t come back to play for long. It’s a constant 400k subscription base that comes and goes within a month of a patch. Most will come back for the 5.3 show down (end of the expansion), but will be gone until about a month before the next expansion again.

          Despite how casual Cata became at the end (with the worst raid ever…Dragonsoul) they still lost subs.

          It’s more than casual gameplay that keeps them subbed. It’s, again, what’s worth the time+effort+money. Subbing for a month isn’t it.

          • http://twitter.com/dularr Dularr

            I don’t think there is anything Blizzard could do to keep this type of player sub for the entire year. They no longer want or have the time to play WoW year round, but do enjoy keeping a favorite character current. 

      • lacslyer

        How isn’t 5.2 a catch up patch? 5.0 raids dropping gear more often in LFR and 5.0/5.1 VP vendor gear getting considerably cheaper scream catch up more than any 5 man heroic with a few epic pieces ever could. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hamad-Ali-Al-Jalahma/512893526 Hamad Ali Al-Jalahma

    Amazing interview, Good job GBTV.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-O-Reilly/517423076 Alan O Reilly

    So Ion basically says patch is this week? When talking about limited attempts he says about top end guilds “in this coming week in throne of thunder”

  • http://www.facebook.com/seanthomas85 Sean Thomas

    It should be mandatory for these interviews to have a transcript. I really hate watching these things, I’d rather just read what was said. It’s a lot faster.

    I don’t need all the talking and the annoying music and the fanfare.

  • Mekothunder

    love it

  • Mekothunder

    love it