Pondering the Cataclysm with Blizzard's J. Allen Brack

Josh Augustine at

PCG: So are achievements your vice in the game? Mine is vanity pets, I have to collect them. What is the one thing that you just can’t resist?

Brack: I like vanity pets, but I’m not huge into them. I don’t have the firefly pet, for example, and I don’t know that I, as a player, would ever go out and get that. But I completely understand the psychology behind it. I’m much more of an achievement-type person. I have fewer characters than some of the guys, I’d rather have one guy and get as many of the achievements as I can.

PCG: So, what are you personally most excited to do once Cataclysm comes out?

Brack: You know, I think, if I didn’t work here, the thing I’d be most excited about is learning the story of Hyjal. I played a lot of WarCraft III, and it’s really exciting to have the opportunity to tell what happens after Archimonde’s story, which I think is very cool.

Definitely excited about the new zones. Deepholm is an incredibly looking zone--I think it’s the best looking zone we’ve ever done. High concept, very unusual, and I think players are really going to enjoy it. The Skywall dungeon and raid are the best looking dungeons and raids we’ve ever done. They’re very cool, very visual, and they’re going to be very exciting for players to see and for me to play. I do like the PVE of dungeons and raids, so that’s likely the thing I’m most looking forward to.

And, of course, with the PVE and PVP aspect of the new levels, I get all these new boxes called “Guild Achievements” that I need to light up.

PCG: So many boxes to light up.

Brack: Exactly.

PCG: One thing that I’m really excited about that I don’t see many people talking about, maybe because it’s not as glamorous, is Archeology. How is that turning out? Are you excited about it with everything else going on?

Brack: I’m super excited about it. I think it’s one of those things that we won’t know how great or not great it’s going to be until a couple of months down the road, but for the people who are hardcore lore guys it’s fantastic. For the people who have their bar that they want to get to full, or the boxes they want to light up, it’s fantastic. It really feeds that mechanic that players like to do, so I’m excited about it for both of those reasons.

But it’s not one of those things that people have spent a lot of time on in beta, it’s not something people spend a lot of time thinking about, so it will be interesting to see what the player reaction will be when you do it for real.

The achievement system is a really good example of how you don’t play in beta how you play on live, and so we saw a lot of different reactions from players once the system was live compared to beta, particularly from a performance standpoint. It will be really interesting to see how people do the archeology stuff once it matters.

PCG: Was that the case with Reforging?

Brack: Reforging is on live [realms now]. And that’s actually the feature that I think is the coolest that is the least talked about. It’s a very simple mechanic, where you can change one stat for another, which doesn’t sound like much, but the amount of customization that you get in your gear, and making your character a little more attuned to how you want it, it’s just awesome.

Shon Damron, Blizzard PR: I spent over two hours on all my alts and mains at the reforger, just going through everything.

PCG: But now you’re tweaked perfectly.

Damron: But I keep going back every time I get a new item!

Brack: Just in time for us to flush all of those items down the toilet. Good work, Shon. *laughter*