WoW dev analyzes Cataclysm's dungeons and raids

Gamers are always happy to throw their two cents around to anyone who will listen when it comes to their favorite games. World of Warcraft has those types of gamers in spades and while a few bring up solid points, most of the criticism becomes white noise. But when a developer of the game takes a critical look at his game, people take notice. Blizzard used its WoW blog on Battle.net to chat with Scott "Daelo" Mercer, WoW's lead encounter designer, about the dungeons and raids in Cataclysm. The interview offered some quality tidbits about some of the most interesting encounters in the game. When asked about the things that didn't work out as planned, Mercer said: "Initially, we started off the Heroic dungeons at too high of a difficulty. The difficulty level rather abruptly changed when compared to the Heroics players experienced at the end of Wrath of the Lich King. This major change caught many players off guard, and frustrated some of them. The difficulty also increased the effective amount of time required to complete a dungeon to a longer experience than we wanted. With the release of patch 4.3 we're now in a much better place. We’ve always talked about being able to complete a dungeon over lunch, and the Hour of Twilight dungeons get us back to that goal. End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight all provide epic play experiences to our players, but at the real sweet spot of difficulty, complexity, and time commitment."

Preparing for Mists of Pandaria

With the new expansion Mists of Pandaria, on the horizon, Mercer said that many of the things learned in Cataclysm will be applied to the expansion for a more immersive experience: "We learned we could create a crazy encounter like the Spine of Deathwing. It took a lot of hard work from the whole team and it was a difficult design challenge to tackle. How do you orchestrate a fight on the back of a gigantic flying dragon without inducing nausea? How do we make sure you feel like you're on Deathwing? Delivering that experience was really important and everyone wanted the opportunity to work on it. What was really great was that we launched the story of Cataclysm with the cinematic that showed Deathwing having his elementium plates being put on, then we end the expansion with those very same plates being torn off. It gives some real closure to storyline. For Mists of Pandaria, we will continue to provide new dungeons and raids while also presenting interesting new types of content in the form of challenge modes and scenarios. Players will also be introduced to new enemies in the Sha, Mogu, and Mantids. Making those creatures come to life will be a lot of fun." The postmortem series has been fun to read, even if they do lack a bit of depth because of who is conducting the interviews and Blizzard is usually so tight about extra information getting out. But it is always nice to see a developer honestly assess their work.