Designing World of Warcraft: Tom Chilton interview

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PCG: What do you think the knock on effects to World of Warcraft's Battle.net implementation will be (Battle.net will, for the first time, allow cross-realm, and cross faction chat - Ed)?

Tom Chilton: There are going to be side effects that we didn't really image. If you look at the way that the group conversation system works in Battlenet, if you think about the impact that might have on things like guild chat and the other channels, stuff like that, it's kind of hazy as to how that's going to effect communication in-game. Some of that we're just going to have to fly by the seat of our pants and see how it plays out, and make adjustments as we go from there. But, all in all, I think that the fundamental concept of being able to talk to your real life friends regardless of what game they're playing and what server their on is a great concept.

PCG: The Battle.net stuff is bringing Facebook friends into Blizzard games. I'm wondering if you have any predictions about how it'll shake out?

Tom Chilton: I think a lot of times people's in-game friends end up becoming real life friends, especially in the Facebook friends sense, where there are a lot of people out there who use Facebook in the same social way that people experience WoW. A lot of times you come to consider someone a real friend even if you have very light, to no real life interaction. I think that those parallels might be a bit stronger than people expect. And then, ultimately, I think the people from Facebook that come into Battlenet will be doing it with the assumption that they're going to play some sort of Blizzard game, and at that point the become a little bit more part of the gaming community.

PCG: I always wonder if it's less about bringing your Facebook friends in, and more about getting your World of Warcraft friends out into Facebook.

Tom Chilton: Yeah, I think there's a combination.

PCG: What do you think's going to happen to Wintergrasp after Cataclysm?

Tom Chilton: Well, with Wintergrasp itself I think not much is going to happen. It's going to kind of stay what it is and not a whole lot of people are going to be there. Tol Barad (the new open world PvP zone that will arrive in Cataclysm) hopefully will be a positive evolution of Wintergrasp. The experience of fighting in Tol Barad should be better because we're trying to spread people out more, and not crunch everybody into a single focal point. And then what will hopefully be a lot more interesting is what you get out of Tol Barad, with it being the daily quest hub of the game. It's like the Argent Tournament of the game is there.

PCG: We haven't seen much of Tol Barad. So it's an Alcatraz style prison, yes? So presumably if you're spreading people out, it's separate islands that you go to?

Tom Chilton: Yeah, the island of Tol Barad has several major points of interest. It's a kind of domination style, like a giant eye of the storm where your team has to successfully hold all three parts of it.

PCG: At E3 we saw a massive push for 3D within games. Have you ever considered implementing 3D in WoW? Can you see 3D goggles in World of Warcraft's future?

Tom Chilton: That I don't know. That would be a long ways off for us I would guess. Granted, when Nvidia went through their process of doing 3D tech with glasses and all that, their stereoscopic 3D, they actually used World of Warcraft as their demo game, and it actually looks really good. It blew me away. I was highly skeptical when they came to us and said “hey, we want to use WoW as our game to showcase this tech” and we were like, “really, are you sure about that?” And they did it, and came and showed it to us and gave us the full demo and I was like “wow, this is a lot better looking than I expected”. But as far as how long it takes before that penetrates to become like a common household thing for WoW players, I don't know.