turikk: Bonus question, you having worked on WoW, what do you think about WoW classic?
Jeff: I think classic is a great idea. I have great nostalgia for what the game was. I think people need to be careful about what they think the magic was versus what it actually was. I don’t think what made the classic servers great was the shitty quests. I’m allowed to say that because I wrote all of them.
turikk: You'll have to answer for Stranglethorn Vale again.
Jeff: ...and then they deleted them all in Cataclysm, that was the "hey-Jeff’s-off-the-team" update!
I don't think it was my old crappy quests that made World of Warcraft great. What I think made old World of Warcraft great was the sense of community: that there wasn't dungeon finder. People don’t know this, but the server concurrency was a lot smaller than it is today, purely because of technology we couldn’t fit as many people on a server. When the game first launched, there were no server transfers, we didn't have server coalescing. There are a lot of systems in place now that I think actually make WoW a better game, that contributed to there being a small the community... people are going to be in shock at some things that were in classic WoW. Think about flying your griffin ... you had to go stop-by-stop, clicking each link. You couldn't go grab a beer while you flew across the world.
Everyone: Unarmed skill! UBRS! Onyxia Cloak!
Jeff: Remembering that the auction house wasn’t linked, so the server communally had to decide "I guess it's Ironforge and Orgrimmar, sorry other cities I guess we're never going to go to you". I think it’s really cool, and I think there’s more to do in that direction, but to me, I think the cool nostalgia is - getting back to - how do we create that the sense of small community within a larger game. It’s not so much about giving me Burning Crusade or vanilla exactly -- I think it’s a red herring that people have latched onto too hard. It’s the community, not the game.
BoozyPelican: The technological limits actually helped the community, in a way. You could become infamous on a server, there were names, and you could be known for causing trouble -- people would know what you're known for.
Jeff: Oh yeah…
BoozyPelican: The technology wasn’t so seamless, you couldn’t smoothly transfer servers, and that really shaped the community.
Jeff: I think there’s actually a huge lesson here that applies to all games. All of game design is a tradeoff. Oftentimes, people look at design decisions in black and white; it’s right or wrong, you’re dumb for not doing this, and why aren't you listening to us, it should be this way. But it’s actually full of subtlety and nuance in every single design decision. I think it's less about black and white or what’s right or wrong, people mostly just think about what they’re gaining. But the thing players really need to think about is what asking for certain changes forces them to give up.
Travel Back in Time to a World of Warcraft before the Mists of Pandaria parted, and before Deathwing broke the world. When Blackrock Mountain, the Temple of Ahn’Qiraj, and the floating citadel of Naxxramas were the most difficult challenges in Azeroth.
The World of Warcraft team is working on bringing that world back to our players with Classic WoW, and we need engineers to help us bring the past into the present.