Category Archives: Game Design

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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Game Design Exercise: Dream of Creation

Hello again, we return for another Game Design Exercise post. As promised, we are done with Farahlon (unless I decide to make a proper art map for it one day) and we are moving on to our next topic. You probably already know what to expect from the title and my previous GDE post, but hey, when an expansion announcement at BlizzCon comes we usually know the trademark and the obvious implication of what comes from the trademarked title. So let me put on my best impression of Chris Metzen and “announce” this thing.

Ever since World of Warcraft began, it had a deep, expansive mythology. Although we started with just Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, we always knew there was so much more out there. And we always wanted to bring all of that rich universe to life in the game. Since before the game came out, we had plans for how we would implement various elements of this universe. And as time went by we slowly implemented those realms into World of Warcraft. We visited Outland and defeated Illidan. We went back to Azeroth to go to Northrend and finally deal with the Lich King once and for all. In Cataclysm, we visited the Elemental Planes. And we always knew Pandaria was out there, and Mists of Pandaria we finally got to see it. We even went to Draenor before it was destroyed.

But there’s one element that we haven’t visited yet. One element that we always knew was out there. A special, magical realm underlying all of Azeroth. And we always struggled how to properly represent it, given its vast size and all the lore behind it. But we thought, it’s time to finally get it done. To finally let the heroes of Azeroth into this mystical realm… realm of dreams… and nightmares. A realm that was once again comes under attack by nefarious forces and needs our help. Because if we no longer can find safe haven even in our dreams… how can we ever feel safe?

Ladies and Gentlemen… Dream of Creation!

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Game Design Exercise: Farahlon Horde Storyline

Farahlon

And we return again to designing Farahlon, for the last time. But fear not, this is not the end of me trying to pretend I’m designing World of Warcraft. Because I still have too much time on my hands, I will return in about a week with a new project – Emerald Dream expansion! Yes, it’s a potentially much bigger project, which is also why we will probably go into less detail with specific design parts, or with every small storyline present in the expansion. But until that happens, let’s return to Farahlon and see what the Horde is doing while Alliance is busy being all heroic saving the draenei towns and protecting monasteries from ravenous looters.

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Game Design Exercise: Farahlon Alliance Storyline

Farahlon

We’re back in our Farahlon Game Design Exercise! After taking a foray into designing dungeons, which is probably closer to actual hard design, we’re returning into a more lore-like environment. I have alluded previously to the larger Alliance and Horde storylines taking place in Farahlon, but other than small glimpses of it, we didn’t know exactly who and how acts in this new environment. Well, as we’re drawing closer to the end of this particular exercise, we’re going to finally finish those storylines – though we mostly know the very end (Uraga’s demise in the Bladewind Fort instance). But this will be like watching Revenge of the Sith – we know how it ends, but it’s the journey that matters!

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Game Design Exercise: Sky City of the Apexis

Do not fear, even though this post does not have “Farahlon” in the title, it doesn’t mean I abandoned or finished that project, or even that this post isn’t part of the series. Indeed, this is a continuation of the previous post which talked about the dungeon associated with the Farahlon patch – this time we’re dealing with the culmination of its storylines and content, that is the Sky City of the Apexis raid, which I don’t doubt players would dub SCA or SCotA. It’s meant as an Ulduar-style raid, with multiple wings and a total of twelve bosses, with each wing having its own separate environment. And don’t worry – although I’m myself not a raiding person, I know what makes them tick in most people. So I’d probably hate playing this myself.

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Game Design Exercise: Farahlon’s associated dungeons

Farahlon

Greetings again. This time we really did return before whole patches managed to release and you might have noticed, our concept map of Farahlon changed a bit. Mostly, you can find new names for some of the previously unnamed areas, but two new locations have been added as well – Mok’nathal Village on Ara’s island and a raid icon for the Sky City of the Apexis. Today’s post will delve into the three dungeons that are added with my imaginary Farahlon patch, and mostly concentrates on the story featured in those dungeons, with a general idea of boss abilities. The raid will be the subject of a whole other post, as it’s meant to represent a whole large tier – with about 12 bosses total. So let’s delve into the three dungeons and what they have in store.

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Game Design Exercise: Open Objectives in Farahlon

Farahlon

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I told you more than once that I wasn’t abandoning the project – just delaying it until further notice. Of course, that notice took a bit longer than expected, but we’re back. The thing that propelled me to come back the most was constant hits I’m receiving on the Farahlon articles, as well as my other ideas that I want to develop in these posts. So stay tuned. Meanwhile, Farahlon!

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Game Design Exercise: Farahlon Side Stories

I know it’s been some time since I’ve done this, but most of that time, I had better stuff to write. As in, in-character pieces about events actually happening in the Tower of Krasha. We got some new people involved in my particular circle, and I concentrated on that for the time being. But now, I return with the piece I promised two weeks ago, side stories of Farahlon. Most of these you won’t even get a breadcrumb for and you’ll have to stumble upon the right NPC in the wild. Doing these stories is not essential to your story or game progression, but they reward with some cool bits, including lore, battle pets and followers.

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Game Design Exercise: Introduction to Farahlon

Last time, I presented to you all a general overview of what my design of Farahlon would look like, including a handy map presenting most major points of interest. I promised to go into details about the specific points later, and here I am. In this part, I’m going to present the storyline that introduces you to Farahlon. There isn’t much in terms of very unique gameplay in this specific part, so that will have to wait for the next parts.

Farahlon

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Game Design Exercise: Farahlon

Recently, we were told in a developer interview that Farahlon may never come, or at least not in Warlords of Draenor (which lowers the possibility of it ever appearing by itself). Not only that, it was also suggested it might be retconned to have been Ashran all along, which is a total disaster from lore perspective. Although it has been since reported the retcon will not happen, the thought that it was even a possibility remains frightening. And you know I’d love to see Farahlon in-game, so the news was rather shocking to me. I thought, if they don’t see a place for it in game, I’ll show them how to do it – I’ll design Farahlon myself, basing it on the way rest of WoD is designed. (Also, usually when I get to making something, Blizzard then announces they’re doing it, so that helped too)

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