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World of Warcraft hits its tenth anniversaryCNET speaks to World of Warcraft Lead Game Designer, Ion Hazzikostas, about the history of WoW and making a game that is all things to all players.
[MUSIC] There is a big World of Warcraft anniversary coming up and I'm here with Ian Hesi Cactus. He was the lead game designer on World of Warcraft. Talk about Warlords of [UNKNOWN] great new expansion, and the, the anniversary itself. So thanks for coming in, Ion. Probably the big first question, though, lawyer to game designer. [LAUGH] What does that really mean for what it means to be a game designer these days. You just follow your dreams? Definitely. I know it's a little bit of a cliche, but it definitely works out. I mean, I, so I, while being a lawyer was, you know, enthusiastic, passionate World of Warcraft player pretty much from day one, and being able to turn your hobby into a career is a rare opportunity. But I was just fortunate enough to have this. Ridiculous how opportunities come along. People that I met through the magic of the Internet, through just playing the game. Connections through guild mates, things along those lines, gave me this crazy opportunity, and when it came up, I knew I had to at least give it a try. very, feel very fortunate that you know, Blizzard took a chance on me, and. I you know, no regrets. I, I gave it a year when I first accepted the offer. I said I'll if this is for me, I'll see if I like it. It's been over six years now, haven't looked back, no regrets. How different a game is, you know World of Warcraft now compared to when it launched. I mean we've, we've been through so many upgrades and And in some ways when we think about, you know, how it's evolved even just since the fifth anniversary. You know, what to you is critical to what is different now to what World of Warcraft was when it first launched. I think it's been a series of adaptations and evolutionary steps over the course of ten years. And there hasn't necessarily been any one step that was fundamentally transformational but when you go and look back at 2004 versus 2014. It is actually quite different game. I think one of the biggest things is just the overall breadth a, and how accessible the game as a whole is. You know, whether your place dial is hard core and whether it's casual. Whether you like collecting mounts and pets. Or whether you like, you know, killing people in battle grounds. Whether you just want to see the content in the story. Whether you want to prove you're the best in the world. We offer something for you. And we offer that, that type of play-style, that type of satisfaction. And there are more ways to experience World of Warcraft now, than ever before. And of course along the way, we've made a large number of updates. You know, most recently of course, the character model rebound. So that, you know, the, the human night elf. Etcetera models from 2004, have now been brought into the modern era. Massively overhauled and it's an amazing new look. So, apart from everything, what is it about Warlords of Draenor that is exciting and will be most exciting do you think to some of the players with a new world? Okay, so I think a couple of things. First off, the garrison feature, which is really an integral part of the story in Draenor. It is your chance. Almost like the Warcraft RTS mould or version of player housing. To own a piece of the world. And to customize it to your liking. You are not just, you know, levelling yourself up. But you have to also build a base. And raise an army if you're going to take on the Iron Horde. And topple the threat that the drama poses. And so, you know, when you, when you make choices, like whether you want build a barracks or an armory, or a stable versus a lumber mill, you are changing your game play experience, unlocking new content, new types of game play and really shaping that portion of the world to your needs and to your reflection of yourself as a player. separately, I think for the, for the raiders in the audience, I think one of the most exciting things that's coming to raiding in the World of Warcraft is a fully flexible structure to the raids. So if whether you do it in normal difficulty or heroic difficulty, you can bring a raid sized anywhere between 10 and 30 people. If you have 13, 17, 22, any of those numbers will work. And so no more do, no longer do you have to worry about, you know, leaving people out. Or being short handed. And, or you know, feeling like you're letting your friends down if you can't make a raid. Just take who you've got. Take your friends. Go out and kill some dragons. Though there are no dragons in Draenor. [LAUGH] There's a lot saying for you as a fan of the game as well, you know? What through the past ten years has been one of those real outstanding moments for you that, that, that still sits in your heart as a great moment in, in the, the personal experience of playing World of Warcraft? The personal experience of playing, i think, again, two answers here. I think as a player, I think definitely those moments as a raider when I would see an end boss for the first time, when I, I would, you know, go into the sun, we'll go into black temple, into, you know, ice crown citadel, what have you, and actually realize, you know, I'm face to face. With the uber-villain of the expansion. And I'm getting to see this amazingly cool thing alongside my guild and getting surprised by it. As a developer, honestly, it's a moment outside the game. It's it's BlizzCon that we have every year. I'm actually getting to see the bonds that people have formed playing our game, getting to see groups of guildmates meeting face to face for the first time, putting names and faces to the voices that they have just heard on Vent or Mumble, or what have you, for years. Seeing spouses that have met playing the game, it's just that's kind of humbling and awe inspiring really realizing that we've brought people together in that way. [MUSIC]