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WoW patch 4.3 Dragon Soul interview, part two: It's transmogrif' time

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In part one of our interview with WoW's lead designer Tom Chilton, we got insight into the fight against Deathwing in the game's most grandiose encounter yet. But who cares about killing raid bosses if you can't do it in style? We're getting into the nitty-gritty of transmogrification in today's installment, the feature that lets you graft the look of your favorite gear sets onto the items with the stats you need to survive. And what's the verdict on Legendary weapons, anyway?

PCG: Jumping over to transmogrification (which is personally my favorite part about 4.3)--the name obviously reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes. I just have to know on a personal note, was that the inspiration for the name?

Tom Chilton: Yep, it was inspired by C&H—[Bill Watterson definitely] popularized that terms in a lot of ways. And of course, a lot of us here are C&H fans, myself included, so I thought that was kind of a neat homage [laughs].

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PCG: What was it that made you decide that now's the right time to do transmogrification? I'm sure it's been on your guys' minds for awhile.

TC: Yeah, it really has been on our minds for quite a long time now. I'd say we actually started talking about it probably early in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. We actually thought that it was going to be a very difficult task to implement, and all of our estimates were that it was going to take a lot of time to do. We didn't even think we would be able to make it happen for Patch 4.3, but once we had a programmer working on it, he got it done WAY faster than what we thought was originally going to be possible. So parts of me wish we had done it a lot earlier [laughs].

PCG: I know you guys have said that you didn't want to have Legendary weapons in the transmogrification system, because you don't want to destroy their "mystique." Do you think there's any flexibility on that, or are Legendaries out of the question?

TC: I think that, at least for now, Legendaries are out of the question; it's hard to say in the long run how we'll go, but I would say that from a philosophical design standpoint, we tend to put in systems that have more restrictions early on, and then we lose some restrictions over time ('cause you really can't go the other way). For example, any player right now that's at max level can go back to Black Temple and farm themselves a bunch of Warglaives [of Azzinoth]. It feels a little weird to us if the game were to eventually evolve into everything being Warglaives, etc. So we're hoping to protect that; we can always loosen those requirements and restrictions over time.

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PCG: Are you concerned at all with players losing that ability to immediately recognize who someone is? For example, I'm sure that as a rogue, I can go out there and I can find leather pieces that look like cloth, so someone might think I'm a caster.

TC: I'm not too concerned about it, just from the standpoint that I think what we're gaining is a lot more than what we're losing, particularly since, the way that the game has evolved, there's so much art in the game. We have done so many tier sets, that, I think for the most part, players are starting to lose track of which tier sets are the current hard ones to get, and which ones aren't, stuff like that. I think that it gets saturated at some point, to the point where you actually lose that sort of prestige.

PCG: I already have in mind exactly what I'm gonna be wearing. Are there some specific pieces of gear that you love that you know you want to have for your character?

TC: Yeah I would say so. I've got a variety of different max level characters, and each one, I've got a different idea in mind of what I'd like to put on those characters. I think that's probably the case for a lot of people [laughs].