World of Warcraft Icecrown Citadel Q&A

Blizzard Entertainment has published an in-house Q&A with World of Warcraft lead content designer Cory Stockton and lead systems designer Greg Street about the game's forthcoming raid dungeon, Icecrown Citadel.
Is there an existing model in World of Warcraft for Icecrown Citadel's itemization or style of play? What lessons that you'd learned from earlier projects wound up being applied to Icecrown Citadel?

Greg: The nice thing about Icecrown Citadel from an itemization perspective is that we have lots of bosses. That's something of a relief coming from the Crusaders' Coliseum, where we had only five bosses. For Icecrown, we can afford to have multiple options for a particular slot -- say a healing leather bracer or a melee trinket -- and even itemize some of the more unusual pieces. We have a pretty effective system for figuring out who is going to drop what to make sure that an individual boss will be interesting to a variety of players in terms of loot. Most of our lessons learned are in the realm of what differences there should be between 10- and 25-player itemization, the role of tradeskill recipes, and what kinds of items to place with badge vendors.

Cory: I think we learn lessons from every raid that we do. We didn't model Icecrown specifically after any of our previous raids, but you can definitely see influences. For example, we have a winged structure in Icecrown that players will remember from Naxxramas. Another example of an influence would be the teleporters from Ulduar. We know that players really loved that concept, so we brought it back in Icecrown.


What have you done to make the tier-10 sets feel like a meaningful advancement from tier 8 and tier 9? How do they visually represent Icecrown's lore and history?

Greg: Not only do we want them to be a meaningful advancement, but we want them to feel really awesome. This is Arthas loot you're talking about. We started by spending a lot of time on the concept art to make sure it tied into the type of creatures you'll encounter and the whole Icecrown art "kit" in general. For example, the rogue tier-10 set has a strong geist look to it, while the hunter set has strong Nerubian elements, and the mage set looks a lot like the Blood Princes. You can see the Icecrown look and feel in a lot of pieces, which itself drew strongly from the Lich King's original helmet. Look for lots of blue, ice, skulls, and spikes.

We have also spent a lot longer on the set bonuses than we usually do. It's important that they feel awesome for every class and spec. Going back to the Crusaders' Coliseum, part of the challenge we made for ourselves was to create an instance that didn't require as much time or resources as Ulduar to develop, yet was still cool. We had set bonuses for the tier-9 gear, but they were often simple -- more crit on a common ability was a typical one. For tier 10, we're really going for set bonuses that change your game up a little. At the very least, you should want to change your rotation a little, though this is easier with some classes than others.