World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Interview and Developer Chat

In addition to another Twitter-based developer chat log on the official World of Warcraft forums, there's a pretty thorough Cataclysm interview with World of Warcraft world designer Cory Stockton over at VG247 to sift through. First, an excerpt from the former:
Q: What about some class specific quests for Cataclysm? I enjoyed them in the early levels of WoW!
A: It's very expensive to create class-specific quests given the literally thousands of new quests we are already adding for Cataclysm; however, we are going to have class-specific dungeon quests for everyone at levels 20 and 50. These won't be as involved as, say, the old Benediction quest line, but they will give you a way to get some blue loot that isn't otherwise available.

Q: Are Fury Warriors still going to see a new attack to fill the loss of Whirlwind? Any insight?
A. Yes! It's called Raging Blow (at least for the moment), because we wanted to distance it a little from the old Enraged Assault. It's Fury-only and can only be used when Enraged, but does not consume the Enrage. It does indeed strike with both weapons (including the animation).

Q: Do you expect anyone, alts or new players, to level as a healer specialization? Do you think locking them to Holy or Restoration early is bad?
A. We expect leveling as DPS will probably always be more efficient, just because killing things is faster than surviving longer while you kill things. Furthermore, we don't want the healing specializations to be as good at killing things or the DPS specialization will not have a role. We do, however, think we can make leveling as a healer more enjoyable than it is today. Also, it will be a lot easier to use Dungeon Finder to level as a healer.

And a snip or two from the latter:
When we last spoke you said Cataclysm's demolition of parts of the game world was [Blizzard's creative head] Chris Metzen's idea. Were there any other solid contenders for central themes in this expansion?

Cory Stockton: The other biggest theme was the South Seas in general. The idea of maybe going with something more Azshara-based, her being one of the big crazy bosses like Arthas [Wrath of the Lich King] style. We talked about going really heavy in the pirating with a South Seas type of thing. We did do some research into that and got kind of far into it but it never really lead to anything that was huge, you know, that really grabs you and would make you feel like (what's gonna make you play this expansion.)

A couple of new islands, some pirates that's cool: but what's the hook? And from that we kind of developed and kept going to the idea of (who is the protagonist going to be?) and Deathwing [Cataclysm's bad guy] came up. He's such an old character. You know he's been around forever, but he got owned way back in Grim Batol and nobody had ever heard from him ever since. He'd gone crazy and so the idea of bringing him back and having him be empowered by old gods was just a huge, cool thing.

That never came around until we played with the old god idea so much. With Cthun and Yogg Saron they corrupted these great leaders and that's what you're seeing here with Deathwing. The Twilight's Hammer is that invisible connection between the old gods and Deathwing.

WoW's well over half a decade old. How much longer can you hold the long term player's attention?

Cory Stockton: I think what we're doing now could hold a player whose done it from one to 60 five times, easily. The experience is completely different. Not only are you playing through entirely different quest lines, but the zones that have a completely different flow. You're not going from zone to zone to zone to zone. We've closed off areas that lead to old zones; a zone like Hillsbrad Foothills is Horde-only now. Southshore isn't even owned by the Alliance any more, for example. Barrens has been broken into two zones northern and southern. So, you're going to see a different flow that's going to feel completely different. The quests that's going to feel completely different; that's a given.

Besides that, Cataclysm's easily the biggest change we've ever made to our classes by far. The idea of the mastery system coming in and the way the new talent trees work (where you get all your passive bonuses come from the amount you've spent in the tree), we've been able to remove all those passive talents; the 5 percent crit, the 5 percent defence. You know the ones that aren't very exciting, they just give you a percentage. We've been able to pull all of those out, and put them into the mastery system and replace those with ones that feel cooler.

I feel like that, combined with the whole new game experience is going to really feel different. It's not going to feel like just the world has changed; the way that you play your class all the way through will feel very different. And I think that's going to be compelling for. number one, I feel it's going to be better for new players or new players that we might have lost at some point along the way to feel more compelled to get all the way through. And then players that have already done it multiple times, I would hope, will see the new race and class combinations. That to me is one of the bigger things that would draw people in. A Tauren Paladin, you know, an Undead Hunter, a Gnome Priest. all those kind of things that people have always talked about like a Night Elf Mage being able to make that class and do that fantasy, along with everything else I think will be big.