World of Warcraft Interviews

In addition to an in-house "Rise and Fall of the Lich King" Q&A on the official World of Warcraft website, the guys at GamesRadar have published an interview with Blizzard's Chris Metzen on the 15-year history of the Warcraft franchise. From the former:
How did the Lich King's centrality to the concept of the expansion shape its development?

Scott Mercer: After The Burning Crusade, we realized that Illidan had appeared many times in the concept art and the other material surrounding the expansion, but very few players ever actually saw him in the game itself. To most heroes, Illidan was a bit like Sauron from The Lord of the Rings; he was an omnipresent evil that they would hear about, but never actually meet in a face-to-face confrontation. When development began on Wrath of the Lich King, we knew we wanted the players to have a more personal connection with the Lich King than they did with Illidan, even if it was an antagonistic relationship. So we started designing quests and instances in which we could show the Lich King to the players, even have him interact with or hamper them on their quests, like in Utgarde Pinnacle or Howling Fjord.

In addition to the Lich King himself, we also referenced the events from Warcraft III many times in the content of Northrend. Players can see the wrecks of the Alliance ships that Arthas set ablaze during Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. They can also find the altar upon which Arthas first discovered Frostmourne. And of course there's the Culling of Stratholme, the Caverns of Time instance that allows players to relive the moment Arthas first began to adopt his zealous "ends-justify-the-means" attitude, which ultimately lead to him becoming a death knight. We deliberately built these aspects into Wrath of the Lich King to help remind players who Arthas is and where he came from, which we hope makes his character that much more vivid in players' minds.

Overall, we think this new direction for the portrayal of the expansion's main villain worked very well in Wrath of the Lich King, and we will likely adopt this approach for other villains in the future.

And a little something from the latter:
Do .ood' and .vil' exist in the Warcraft universe or is it all just shades of grey?

Evil is absolutely real in Warcraft... but you have the whole spectrum of black, white and greys in between too. What's interesting about Warcraft is that in Warcraft I, the noble humans and evil orcs were very one-dimensional. It was pretty much good guys vs bad guys and what really interested me was challenging that idea. I love the idea that the orcs might have had a very bright origin, but they got involved in some hairy stuff with demons and got turned into this demonic war machine. Can a culture come back from the brink like that? Can a culture be saved? That's part of what we did in Warcraft III.

We took Thrall, this sort of orc messiah character who's worked very hard over the years to bring his people back from the abyss and give them an identity and a homeland. I just love the idea of turning [typical fantasy elves] into blood elves, having an entire race of people with an addiction problem. Can they be brought back from the brink of the abyss or does a society sometimes go too far for redemption? I love those polarities. I love the fall from grace and the possibility of redemption, because you can have it come to pass in a unique individual like Kerrigan from StarCraft or the Lich King from Warcraft, and you can also use those scenes at a societal level. That's always been compelling to me.