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Liveblog of the Shadowlands Lore Interview with Steve Danuser and Taliesin & Evitel
10/4/2020 em 11:01
Taliesin & Evitel is interviewing Lead Narrative Designer Steve Danuser on their Twitch Stream and answering questions about Shadowlands! We'll be liveblogging the interview and summarizing important answers in this post.
So far through datamining, we've learned some
important characters are returning
who whispered to Vol'jin
to appoint Sylvanas Warchief.
Watch live video from TaliesinAndEvitel on www.twitch.tv
What's the first week of alpha week like for Blizzard?
The entire team is so excited, from quest designers to artists. It's like putting a baby in the world!
Tell us about your job at Blizzard and experience in the industry
Steve has been in games for ~17 years, starting at Sony Online Entertainment on Everquest II.
He's been at Blizzard for nearly 5 years.
He worked first on quests and Legion content (Hunter Order Hall, artifacts), and now he's Lead Narrative Designer.
For his current job, he meets with many teams to hear their ideas and "just vibing" to come up with the best storyline.
Is the Sylvanas loyalist line officially over in BFA or are there more moments in Shadowlands?
You can't keep splitting story threads forever, you need to pull threads back together sometimes. The 8.2.5 finale was a good time to make a nice epilogue.
Going forward, Blizzard wants there to be a unified story, so everyone understands what Sylvanas is up to. Choice wouldn't really make sense anymore.
However, there may be some flavor moments here and there, alluding to your choices with Sylvanas' story, when interacting with NPCs.
Shadowlands questing is more linear than BFA - thoughts?
The story in Shadowlands doesn't lend itself to player choice, but Blizzard may consider different storylines in future situations.
You will progress through the story in a logical, linear way in Shadowlands. It's meant to be a laid-out narrative arc, culminating in Revendreth.
After the cool event in Revendreth, you will make your covenant choice.
You can choose a covenant right away on alts and then quest in whatever order you like.
You won't experience every corner of the zones in the linear storyline, so you'll have opportunities to return to the zones and discover new quests/stories after, like Maldraxxus.
How much story is tied to the covenants at max level?
The four covenant campaign stories are very different, but there is some cross-over for major story moments.
The covenant campaign is like the War Campaign or Artifact questline - they take you around the world to see different things.
The Legion quests were the inspiration for covenants, where each class received a distinctive storyline.
How did you create the aesthetics for the Shadowlands?
Blizzard drew some inspiration from cosmology and how they touched upon death previously in Azeroth.
They talked about things like the Scourge, Val'kyr, and the Emerald Dream, and what happens to them, and how to explore that more.
They wanted to create a variety of aesthetics all tied to death. This is a very high-fantasy expansion.
Steve wouldn't spoil geographically where the story will go in future patches/zones.
In the Shadowlands, Death is a cosmic power that drives everything - it's not an end, but a beginning.
All of the realms are scared because the souls aren't coming, and Shadowlands explores how these cultures break down without souls and panic sets in.
Plot in Shadowlands
Bizzard has set up a long/deep storyline for Shadowlands, and they know how the story ends and how it leads into things to come. Trying to learn from narrative stumbling blocks of BFA.
One example to do better - have less ambiguous moments at the end of patches, they know some people were disappointed with BFA. They want people to feel like at the end of a patch, they are at a cool place and have enough ideas to do cool speculation--in a healthy way, vs a "lost and uncertain" way. They want to give players more ideas and hints.
How big a deal is the Jailer?
It's been fun to throw all the "bad guy eggs" into the Jailer, after BFA was ambiguous where the villainy was more spread out.
The Jailer is a central villain whose actions drive the expansion. His metaphorical fingers have been on the move for a very long time.
The Shadowlands has been suffering for a while, and the Jailer has more allies beyond Sylvanas.
The expansion will be driven by the Jailer and how we stop him and what he's after. There's more to him that first appears.
We'll learn more about how Shadowlands was before the Jailer through Oribos questing/stories.
It's been remarked that Oribos and Bastion have titan aesthetics. Is it likely that we'll see some familiar titans pop up?
Shadowlands delves deeper into the cosmology chart. We've explored some sections in past expansions--like Argus (Disorder) and Emerald Dream (Life). We've mostly seen Titans through their Azeroth expressions, but we haven't gotten to a proper Titan homeworld.
As you learn things in Shadowlands, you should look at stuff you experienced before through a slightly different lens, like how Chronicle is written from a POV of the Titans (not written specifically by the Titans though). You'll have a better understanding of the big picture in Shadowlands.
Chronicle introduced a good framework, and in Shadowlands the devs can put "meat on bones."
Tyrande is searching for answers from Elune. Will she find some peace in the expansion?
Tyrande will figure prominently in the Ardenweald storyline, both in 9.0 and some things going forward.
Her story is a thread from BFA that couldn't just be wrapped up neatly by the end of the expansion.
The loss of the Night Elves is a huge story and the team wants to give it the proper reverence.
Tyrande is also grappling with the huge influx of power tied to the Night Warrior.
There may be some cool cinematics that tug at the heartstrings!
Story innovations in Shadowlands?
Blizzard is always trying to innovate stories and quest design.
They work with tools to make content faster and cooler than in the past, and you can also see similar improvements with cinematics through the years.
Will we get as many cinematics in Shadowlands as BFA?
Blizzard has to plan out story moments, including quests and cinematics, way in advance.
Will the Forsaken be explored a bit more in Shadowlands?
It will be a part of the story, it is a story that will not be rushed though. When a kingdom undergoes as much turmoil and change as the Forsaken in BFA, it takes some time for those things to play out.
Is Torghast just a system or tied to the story?
Torghast was designed to be an endless dungeon but the story leads directly to it. They strived to make sure that it doesn't feel tacked on.
Torghast has the Forge of Domination, which was used to craft the Helm. It's now broken, and they won't share a specific outcome, but the remaining pieces have some power and purpose in the storyline.
What is Bolvar up to?
Bolvar is very key to the storyline, interview hinted that he could play a Magni and Khadgar -esque role in this expansion.
Bolvar couldn't look into the Shadowlands with complete clarity before, but he was able to peek beyond the veil, and with his knowledge, he will help us.
Bolvar's past will also be explored as well - we know that Taelia is his daughter, and she doesn't know who her father is.
How did you determine what character returns in the Shadowlands?
They wanted to fixate on key characters, including some that are living. Wanted to avoid bringing back everyone for "greatest hits."
The choices made are for deliberate reasons. There are lots of stories left to be told. The ones pulled into Shadowlands help illuminate the story experience and the jailer's plot.
Steve is overall satisfied with what characters are returning.
Arthas in Shadowlands?
Won't answer directly - just focusing on the best story possible.
Arthas is a fundamental character to the Warcraft IP and they didn't want to use him in an offhand way to cheapen his storyline.
"We want to do the right thing by him."
Will the events of Shadowlands reverberate across Azeroth and beyond, or stay contained?
The things characters go through on personal levels will resonate beyond, such as Tyrande in BFA continued forward.
There are big implications for many characters that we know and love. This may also impact various kingdoms of Azeroth moving forward.
Expansion philosophy now doesn't limit a story to one expansion.
How many expansions are you planning in advance?
They like to keep an eye on the horizon to plan ahead.
However they like to see what players gravitate towards to and adjust.
They have a long term plan but like to stay flexible.
Will the sword disappear from Silithus?
The sword has a part to play in something to come.
Will Azeroth ever be born?
Wait and see.
Will everyone who begins this expansion alive, be alive by the end?
Life and death have different meanings in the Shadowlands, so wait and see.
Is the lore team consulted on customization options?
The team was consulted on various options to determine if they were appropriate or not to the lore and universe. They are 100% on board with all of the options.
The team wants Azeroth to be a place you can express yourself.
If you use Wildhammer tattoos, are you part of that clan? Seeing how you start in a Bronzebeard starting experience.
It's complex - can't make a starting experience for every subset, it would consume so many resources.
You have the freedom in your mind to roleplay your character how you like. You get to decide how you want your character to be.
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