World of Warcraft's patch 5.4 informs the future of the game in many ways. In this “WoW Source” video, three of the game's developers sat down with Morgan Webb to talk about The Timeless Isle, flexible raids and a solution to heirlooms that many have been waiting for.
As they discussed how patch 5.4 was deployed, J. Allen Brack, production director, said that it was one of the smoother patches. The panel revealed that the European servers have a more difficult time because their peak times are more dense than for North America.
Another big question was: Why reward the legendary cloak at the very beginning of the patch? This was answered by Tom Chilton, game director:
In the past, we've often had a legendary item that was on the final boss of the final raid of the final part of the expansion... But the downside is that you finally get that legendary item and then you... don't get to play with it as much.
Chilton went on to express the sentiments of many players that it feels anticlimactic for their legendary item to be so quickly replaced in the next expansion. “So, we really made a deliberate decision this time... so that they feel that they can use it to help defeat the content.”
Ion Hazzikostas, lead encounter designer, spoke extensively about how the idea of flexible raids came about and how people are using the system now. He said, “It addresses a lot of the social issues with organized raiding,” and explains why: “Because a flexible raid scales in difficulty numerically anywhere from 10 to 25 people... If you have 17 and someone needs to go because something comes up, okay, keep going.”
Brack said that flexible raiding exceeded their expectations, and Hazzikostas went on to give a few statistics to illustrate how popular the new feature is:
Over 50% of all flexible raids that happened last week had at least two or more raid sizes over the course of that session, so people are actually making use of adding or removing people from the group on the fly and continuing.
A lot of people have been getting into flexible raiding. Despite the fact that you have to have your own premade group to go do it—it's not something you can just queue for—it has proven to be a very popular activity. In North America and Europe, as many people did a flex raid last week as did scenarios.
What can we expect in future content? Chilton expressed that future zones might rely less on dailies and be more like The Timeless isle, with discoverable content.
In answer to a question from the forums, Brack addressed the eternal problem of not enough bag space with humor, saying, “Your bags are pretty much exactly like your TiVo and your harddrive; they are always full. It doesn't matter how much space we give you.” But, he also said that they are working on a way for heirlooms to work more like mounts and pets currently do, which might not only help with storage of those items, but also make them available to all of your characters on every server. He also said that they are looking into implementing a kind of “toy closet” for all of the fun items that they added to the game in Mists of Pandaria.
Before the conversation turned to the excitement of next month's BlizzCon, they also mentioned that patch 5.4.1 will include a new refer-a-friend system. Instead of just one reward, they plan to give players a token that can be used for either the new mount or one of the old rewards. This is sure to be welcome news to mount collectors.