Category Archives: Game Design

Alled Races: Satyrs

Here comes my second part of a demonic allied race duet I had planned. While eredar are something I wanted playable for a while in some form and considered both factions for them, I found them going to the Horde as a way to oppose the draenei the better choice. After that, the question remained, what is the best Alliance counterpart to eredar? I could go for a low-hanging fruit and grab high elves because they seem as the straightest counterpart, but not only they are extremely un-demonic, I also prefer more unorthodox options for these posts. So I defaulted to two of my favorite demon races: mo’arg and satyrs.

Mo’arg are a great race. They are probably the most versatile non-eredar race that we’ve seen. Among their numbers, we’ve seen the cyborg doomsmiths, the stunted gan’arg, the hulking felguards and the new brutes. A couple of other unique demons were never given a racial descriptor and seem like they’d be mo’arg too. However, it feels like allied race would not be enough for them. And I ended up finding satyrs to be a better fit as an allied race, since they too had Legion involvement like the eredar, and also resemble another race, much like the eredar. Unfortunately, it’s another night elf offshoot, but they could work despite this. Therefore, I introduce the satyrs.

General Information

SatyrAlliedRaceFaction: Alliance

For many night elves, satyrs are the enemy. The ancient force of corruption, made from their own brethren who listened to the whispers of the Burning Legion. And if that was not enough, they dance from one great enemy to another, dedicating themselves to the Emerald Nightmare and its Old God master. But those nuances mean few people know the truth about the satyrs and their flexibility. Perhaps there is a yet different faction of satyrs somewhere deep in the Dream, that escaped the corruption of their brethren.

Classes: warrior, rogue, hunter, priest, mage, warlock, druid, shaman.

Mount: Purified Courser (a new variant of the unarmored Legion unicorn mount)

Requirements: Future content (see below)

Introduction

Like the eredar, the satyrs are first met in a special questline that sees the Alliance – and especially night elves – return to the Emerald Dream following the end of Legion expansion. During the first months of the Legion invasion, adventurers ventured into the Emerald Dream, defeated Xavius once again, and purified it of the Nightmare taint. Again. Unfortunately, in the process Ysera, the guardian of the Dream, became corrupted and then died. The end of the raid suggests everyone that all the demigods that became corrupted and died are slowly returning (other than Ysera who somehow became a set of thermonuclear superheated balls of gas thousands of light years away). The lack of Ysera may throw a wrench into the Emerald Dream.

As it turns out in this questline, after the burning of Teldrassil, majority of night elves left either for Gilneas or Val’sharah. Malfurion led his people to Val’sharah, and that’s where he summons you. He explains that to secure this land for his people, he must cleanse Shaladrassil and enter the Dream rift still present at the roots of the tree, and he invites you along because of your role in the defeat of Xavius.

Together you venture through the portal into the Eye of Ysera, the capital of the green dragonflight. However, once there, instead of the purified tranquil glade you expected it to be, you find it in chaos. Not Nightmare, but simply nature growing out of control and fighting itself. The green dragons you find explain that without Ysera, and with all the demigods regenerating, the Dream is completely uncontrolled. The raw power cannot be contained without a guardian, and the dragons are not enough. Malfurion offers his and your help, and thus, the new faction and storyline begin.

Over time, you find that a group of satyrs who survived the purge is behind the chaos. They’ve been inciting nature to fight, all in an attempt to have that strife bring the Nightmare back. After a while, you see them succeed a little bit. Small pockets of the Nightmare begin to manifest. In one such pocket, you find an albino satyr prince who says he will bring “the Father” back no matter the cost. You and Malfurion end up following him to the Rift of Aln, where you see a great nightmare tree. From the tree, a deep and familiar voice speaks to the Albino. It’s Xavius. He survived his defeat once more, and retreated into the tree form to recuperate. The amount of satyrs there make it impossible to destroy him now, but you now know your enemy.

In the process, you also find a splinter group of satyrs led by Princess Ivixa. These particular satyrs bear no allegiance to either the Legion or Old God faction, and are simply pranksters who live in harmony with the Dream, being born to demonic satyr parents without choice in the matter. Malfurion doesn’t want to trust them, but the green dragons are willing to take that step. Together with these prankster satyrs, you venture deep into the uncharted layers of the Dream, to find the Fount of the Moon, the legendary source of power of much of dream’s endless creative energy. The Fount is revealed to be directly connected to Elune and with its help, the good satyrs are purified of their taint, while keeping their form (more or less).

In the storyline finale, the good satyrs take a part of the Fount’s power with them to confront the Albino. After a long and difficult fight, the Albino is defeated, but not before prophesising the eventual return of Xavius. “Father always returns… he is eternal.” Malfurion realizes that by turning him into a tree, he gave Xavius an unbreakable bond to the Emerald Dream. The only way to destroy him forever is to break that link and undo his ancient magic. Malfurion enters a great ritual that expends almost all of his energy to destroy the tree. Once the spirit of Xavius is liberated, Ivixa then uses the Fount’s power to sever Xavius from the Dream permanently and banish him to the Twisting Nether like yet another demon.

Storyline

Some time after completing the questline, Malfurion invites you to the Alliance embassy in Stormwind, where he vouches for the new satyr faction to join the Alliance. Anduin agrees, and decides to send you into the Eye of Ysera once again to officially recruit them. Unfortunately, after following through the portal in the Twilight Grove, you find the Eye under assault by a force of a different shade of green… demons! In the Emerald Dream!

No one knows who these invaders are, since the Burning Legion has been defeated, but everything is explained after you hear the familiar voice once again. It’s Xavius, who has returned once again, but this time green. He explains that once he was banished to the Nether, he met Mal’Ganis who offered to restore his power in exchange for serving Mal’Ganis’s new Dread Legion. Xavius quickly agreed and returned in a new, more corrupted form.

You meet up Princess Invixa and her archdruid, Zyndaxxia, in the ruins of their former palace. It is now clear to them that even banishing Xavius to the Twisting Nether was not enough. Since a sliver of the Fount’s power was not enough, you must do a very risky act of leading to the very Fount of the Moon itself. Malfurion doesn’t want to hear of it, because he fears it would risk Xavius corrupting the Fount, but Ivixa and the green dragons overrule him. He leaves in protest to fight for the Dream in a more traditional way, while you go deep into the Dream once again, with Xavius and the Dread Legion harrowing you on every step.

After going through a few layers, you finally enter the deepest and greenest layer and see the shimmering fount of power once again. Xavius is not far behind you, and is in awe at the sight of the Fount. He gloats that you led him to your doom, as he will now claim the power of the Fount, and even Elune can’t stop him. After all, did she ever stop him before from corrupting her precious children? He begins spreading fel energy into the Fount, which begins cracking and extruding a lot of holy energy. Xavius begins choking, but he is relentless. Finally, the Fount glows green with fel and Xavius laughs how he would corrupt Elune herself. And this is when things get weird.

You are all whisked away in the last moment. You end up teleporting to the surface of the White Lady. All around you is a silvery, lifeless wasteland, and despite not being underwater you get a breath bar. That is, however, the least of your worries, as you’re taking massive frost damage. You end up frozen at 1 HP, while Xavius is fighting all the way through. He laughs it off as Elune thinking a little cold can scare him, especially now that he has seen the domain of the Legion in the Twisting Nether. However, while you are frozen, he continues to take damage, and begins wasting away from the all-permeating holy energy of the moon itself. In the end, he is wholly obliterated.

Moments later, you are teleported back where you came from, to Ivixa’s old palace. As you thaw out, you see Malfurion and his night elven allies have beaten the satyrs while you were out on the moon. With Xavius taken out by Elune herself and his new army beaten back, the fey satyrs are free once again. In thanks to your involvement, Ivixa offers her services to the Alliance. You soon meet her back in Stormwind, where she officially pledges herself and her satyrs, and the allied race is officially unlocked.

Playable Race

Your new satyrs start at level 20 in the Emerald Dream version of Darkhear Thicket. Ivixa’s new palace has become a training ground for the satyrs. Their new hunters start with goat pets, and druids get forms similar to night elven – but far more shaggy, and with goat horns. Only the travel form is a proper goat.

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Allied Races: Eredar

So a few days ago I made a poll on Twitter, asking for what allied races I should write about next. Foolishly, I thought it would be a good idea to include some races that are really popular right now – like vulpera and sethrak. Predictably (and yet I did not predict it) that one particular vote option skyrocketed. And you see, I’d love to write about them, but there’s just one problem. We know nothing about them. All we know about the sethrak is that they’re related to a loa called Sethralis, spread desert wherever they go, and use magical gems to call down lightning. As for vulpera, we know… they live in Voldun. That’s it. So I’m very sorry, but there is pretty much no material to base a post on. I could make up almost literally everything about them, but that would hardly do justice to the actual race we end up meeting.

Thankfully, the next set I had the strongest ideas for was also the second one most voted for. This set also represents two races I wanted to be included among the playable for some time now – (man’ari) eredar and satyrs. While I imagined the eredar as simply trainers behind draenei warlocks (much in the way of broken training draenei shamans), the new allied race system is a perfect way to include them. And since they no longer have to be bound to the actual draenei, we can deviate from their example even more. As for satyrs, you will see soon.

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Allied Races: Anubisaths

Here comes by far my boldest proposition yet – anubisaths. So far, there is very little to this race, if it can even be called that. We first met anubisaths at Ahn’Qiraj, serving the Old God C’Thun, and we were originally told they were constructed by qiraji. Which was strange, as they were giant stone constructs that looked just like most Titan constructs, except with a dog head. Only recently, the Chronicle confirmed our long suspicions that anubisaths were in fact one of the original Titan seed races and served in Uldum and the Titan facility that became Ahn’Qiraj. Still, they were the least known of all the Titanic races. Which on one hand gives us little material to work with… and on the other hand, gives us a lot of space to make up stuff.

The idea originally came from looking for an Alliance counterpart to mogu. I deliberately left out jinyu and hozen because I think they should be their own set of allied races. I didn’t want sauroks, because between them and drakonids/dragonmen, I’d rather we had the latter as a reptilian race with worgen-like animations. The list of races on Pandaria was running thin, but I decided we don’t have to look for a counterpart to mogu on Pandaria. Then, the most obvious choice was the tol’vir – another Titan seed race, one who also served under Highkeeper Ra at one point. There’s only one problem – they’re quadrupeds. Their body plan has too many logistical issues that just won’t be solved for an allied race, and changing their body plan just makes them no longer look like a tol’vir. This is when my mind wandered to another animalistic Titan race from the same general area and it felt immediately felt like a no brainer.

I think anubisaths would be another hit, much like void elves. They’re very new, but still based in the existing lore. They hit some popular themes – they’re dog like, look badass, and could have some things worgen players always wanted. Less hunched, tails, new class options. All we need is to make them fit a player race a little more, like making them smaller and made of flesh, and they become an instant hit. I loved this random idea so much I decided to stick by it for these posts. So here it is, anubisaths for the Alliance.

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Allied Races: Mogu

After the last post detailing arakkoa as two allied races, one per each faction, I was left wondering what other unlikely races could be made to fit into the mold. After all, what we expect the most of allied races are the so-called “subraces”. Essentially a variant of an existing race with only minor alterations. And in the existing examples, some of those alterations are very minor. One would almost hope for more than an additional hairstyle-level option on the tauren. The ideas I’m experimenting with here are on the far side of the spectrum – they will usually either share little more than animation rigs with existing races, and sometimes even less. They could be arguably made into full races, some time down the line. However, many of these are very unlikely to be added as a regular playable race and being added as a “low effort” allied race is their only hope for that distinction.

One of the races I like that I would hope to be added as playable one day – and which would do fine as “just” an allied race are the mogu. Personally, I think they would’ve made a perfect counterpart to the pandaren back in Mists of Pandaria, but perhaps they needed to be seeded in a bit since then to really grow and be recognized. Draenei were made almost from scratch – and from scraps of otherwise unrelated lore – and weren’t very well received at the time. Perhaps after this time the almost forgotten mogu (who happen to share most of the draenei animations) could find their brief spotlight. Here is my personal write up of how the mogu could happen as an allied race.

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Arakkoa as Allied Races

Seeing that Allied Races require only fairly brief introductory experiences, and on your main character too, I decided I would try my hand at describing the arakkoa as Allied Races – with the pre-requisites, and the short questline to unlock them. Yes, you heard it right – Allied Races, plural. Because this hypothetical scenario will involve two arakkoa races becoming playable at the same time: high arakkoa for the Alliance and dark arakkoa for the Horde. Both models are unisex.

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GDE: Dream of Creation, Verdant Plains (part 2)

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Last time we ended up a bit abruptly. The post grew longer than I expected, because the story detail required for a full zone of an expansion was unsurprisingly large. I managed to detail the first four chapters of the zone’s storyline, which included a lot of worgen, arakkoa, and Wild Hunt lore. Today, we move on towards the last two chapters of the zone, leading up to the climactic resolution of the storyline began in the pre-expansion patch. This time I do not have long rants prepared, so we’ll head into the story proper in a minute.

But before we do that, I wanted to give the proper attention to an actual game design point lost somewhere in the body of the text. It’s about the garrisons and Dream of Creation, and how their question is solved by me. In short, in every zone your central quest hub contains an Outpost – a special, unique building that contains a few garrison services. The first is the mission table, which works just like the one currently in the garrisons. The second is the work order table, which replaces building up an actual garrison. The work order table lets you assign a follower with the proper profession trait to a fitting work order. The resulting items are then left in the box outside the Outpost. If you had an inn in your garrison, there is also a headhunter waiting for you (it might not require building an inn – TBD). Your bodyguard followers are also found there, awaiting your orders. Finally, in all of Emerald Dream you have one garrison ability, Call to Arms, identical to the one from Shadowmoon/Frostfire. That resolution allows you to continue the best aspects of a garrison, without the “facebook game” aspects of it. And yes, the new zones do give you new followers – I just didn’t decide on them yet.

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GDE: Dream of Creation, Verdant Plains zone

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Welcome back to Game Design Exercise, where I try to write up an expansion to World of Warcraft as I would have done it, despite about three or four people total caring about what I post here! As I would have done it, if I had a thousand pairs of hands and a mountain of money to spend. Really, it’s my wish fulfillment fantasy, taking the best parts of various expansions and doing them in the context of the Emerald Dream. Like I said in the last post, I’m in a slightly resigned mood when it comes to these. In the time since the last post I’ve been thinking about various other design options. A Dishonored sequel about an Overseer who becomes the next Outsider! My original game idea about playing as a guild, which turns out to be a lot like Garrisons: the Game! Ultimately, all of those ideas are extremely unlikely to become anything more than ideas and with this one, at least I have a few more people reading it. So I might as well keep going.

Now, to end the rant, today we’ll embarking to the first zone of the expansion proper, Verdant Plains. Like in Warlords of Draenor, I decided to go with an Alliance/Horde split between starting zones. In part because I thought it worked, and in bigger part because I decided the entrances to the Emerald Dream become the racial mini-capitals for the new races. It would be like Alliance players entering the Cataclysm zones through Bilgewater Harbor. So today’s post is the beginning of the Alliance storyline, and involves several factions, including Greymane Crossover (a new Alliance reputation faction), Skettis Exiles (the arakkoa racial faction), a continuation of the Wild Hunt storyline and an introduction to a few new elements.

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GDE: Dream of Creation, Satyr starting experience

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

We return for another Game Design Exercise: Feelings of General Irrelevance Edition. When I started these exercises, it was partly due to just wanting to test my design skills for something that I can’t actually design, and the one thing that interested me the most out of the possible options – World of Warcraft patches or expansions. The other part was having some kind of written material to show off as proof of my skill. Well, turns out the second part is pointless because “make believe doesn’t count”, according to a Blizzard employee I asked about this, although half-jokingly. Now, I don’t hold this against him but it did make me feel rather… irrelevant and my efforts pointless. Sure, I can design this stuff but it’s not going to be made real. The only design I can actually do is for games I have little interest in. So in other words, I can’t do the design that I want, period.

I still enjoy to just “make up stories”, as it was once called by Chris Metzen, so I will continue doing these but it just doesn’t feel the same. It’s just the soul-crushing realization that all of my efforts here will never be received by the people I aspired for. But no, it’s all fine. I’m not trying to get anyone’s sympathy – just thought I’d share this… insight with my readers, as few as there are of them.

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GDE: Dream of Creation, Arakkoa starting experience

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Call it build 7.0.0.21600

Welcome back to Game Design Exercise. The first thing you might notice is I decided to shorten the title. “Game Design Exercise” was taking up a lot of precious character space, so I decided to shorten it in case I ever need a particularly long title for one of the sections. The second thing you might notice is that the map posted this time is different from the previous one. I continue working on it and although most of the additions are things I hid from public view (because they spoil future content before it’s ready) there are some zone shape and size changes. They stem from me noticing that Ravenwood and Thornbranch are definitely too small. Most starting zones aren’t much smaller than regular end-game zones, so I thought I wouldn’t be able to realistically squish in a full 1-13 experience in those areas. They are now bigger, partially at the cost of the oversized Verdant Plains.

Another thing I wanted to talk about before the break is a concern that was raised on Twitter recently. Dream of Creation is adopting several fey creatures from Dungeons & Dragons and other fantasy sources and one of those creatures is called a hag. They’re ugly troll-like creatures that undeniably bear some resemblance to a caricature of an old woman, and the term likely comes from there. To me, a person with a certain fantasy gaming experience, hags were just a normal thing that didn’t raise any red light. I was however told that the term is considered offensive. I mean, it’s obvious calling a real person “hag” is an offense, but a person was concerned that using it as a name of a fantasy creature is offensive as well, regardless of the term’s past in the genre. Personally, I don’t see it, but if enough people see it as a valid concern, I will adopt it. So, what do you think? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments below.

So, I invite you to read my take on arakkoa starting experience for Dream of Creation, an Emerald Dream expansion. They are arakkoa from the main timeline, so they continue storylines from the Burning Crusade and only influences from Warlords of Draenor are clarifications about the common past of both timelines and references – such as WoD characters showing up here in their main timeline incarnations. Enjoy!

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Game Design Exercise: Dream of Creation, pre-expansion patch

Concept map Remember when I said concept map? It means it's not a finished artwork.

Welcome back to next part of my game design exercise about the Emerald Dream expansion, which I dubbed Dream of Creation. For a while, I was struggling with the idea of how exactly should I divide up all the potential material into posts. Since designing an expansion takes up a lot of space and time, and many internal elements are very intertwined, I can’t really design everything in one, specific order, like I was able to with Farahlon. Take for example designing leveling zones. Let’s say I want to have space for six chapters of the zone’s storyline, but I can’t leave it at that. I need space for not only level cap content, but also for potential future patch areas, like parts of Krasarang used in patch 5.1. So while designing even the first leveling zone, I have to take into account how many reputation factions or other level cap activities I want to have. And when I decide how many reputation factions there will be, I have to decide what role they will have in distributing gear… so yeah. My point is, it’s a really complex system and a lot of thought has to go into it. Even when you have just one post written, you have to keep in mind almost everything else right from the very start.

So how do you decide what post to write first? I decided the best way to present this expansion will be to present it in the same order a player would normally experience it. In short, we start with the pre-expansion patch, and continue to leveling. Next post will describe at least one of the new races’ starting experience, and we will continue through leveling zones, and into endgame content of patch X.0, and only then proceed to further patches. Because I want it to feel as “real” as I can make it, I will keep information about those future patches hidden until shortly before their respective posts’ publication. So now, I invite you to the X.0.1, the Wild Hunt – the pre-expansion patch to Dream of Creation.

Another thing I wanted to speak about before the break is something else I felt would help the immersion of this exercise. Basically, after a BlizzCon announcement you’d have a Q&A session which would reveal various small (and not so small) details about the coming expansion. Well, we didn’t have it. To create one, I invite you to ask Q&A questions in the comments below. I will gladly answer all of them, pretending to be a real game dev when I can.

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