Plenty of Tinfoil

Plenty of Tinfoil

Lately it has felt like there has been a bit of a mass exodus of folks leaving Blizzard or at least the World of Warcraft team.  The highest profile of these of course was the departure of Chris Metzen, but yesterday another fairly high profile name joined the group.  Tom Chilton posted a note on the forums stating that he would be leaving the World of Warcraft team to join an as yet unnamed project.  This leaves Watcher… aka Ion Hazzikostas in charge of the team.  This of course is simply two folks leaving a game… but in between there have been a number of lower profile departures as well.  The rumor mill of course starts churning and contemplating what might be going on at Blizzard to spawn these events, and honestly I think something more benign is at work here.  For some of these folks…  they have literally been working on the exact same project for over a decade.  Imagine if you, in whatever your line of work… had to work on exactly the same thing every single day.  Granted at Blizzard there is a lot of room to branch out and work on other teams as new games come down the pipeline, but I have long felt that WoW was essentially the product that no one seemed super excited to work on.

I feel like it is time once again to dredge up “The List”.  Years ago there was a supposed leaked list of expansions, that in theory covered the entire planned arc of the World of Warcraft franchise.  Of note… this list was floating around the interwebs before the launch of Burning Crusade, and I remember seeing it roughly the same time as the original Naxxramas patch was released.  I myself wrote about it prior to the announcement of Cataclysm, trying to draw upon it for wisdom as to what the path forward might be.  Cataclysm honestly threw a giant monkey wrench in the proceedings, and from that point onward it stops being terribly accurate, but for both Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King it was down right prophetic.  What I think we can draw from it now however is that the “Legion Set” was always something that was planned to wrap up the cycle of World of Warcraft.  I believe that from day one, it was the intent of the original WoW team to bring us back into conflict with The Burning Legion, and it was simply a matter of figuring out what path we would take to get there.  For the sake of having this list in a more modern post I am reprinting it below.

Draenor Set

Azuremyst Isle – 1 to 10
Bloodmyrk Isle – 10 to 20

Eversong Forest – 1 to 10
Quel’thalas – 10 to 20
Hellfire Peninsula – 58 to 62
Zangarmarsh – 60 to 64
Terokkar Forest – 61 to 65
The Deadlands – 63 to 67
Nagrand – 64 to 68
Blade’s Edge Mountains – 66 to 70
Netherstorm – 67 to 70
Shadowmoon Valley – 69 to 70

Northrend Set

Borean Tundra – 67 to 70
Howling Fjord – 67 to 70
Dragonblight – 69 to 72
Grizzly Hills – 70 to 73
Crystalsong Forest – 72 to 75
Zul’drak – 73 to 76
Sholazar Basin – 75 to 79
Storm Peaks – 76 to 80
Icecrown Glacier – 78 to 80

Maelstrom Set

Gilneas – 77 to 80
Grim Batol – 78 to 81
Kul Tiras – 79 to 82
Kezan – 81 to 86
Tel Abim – 83 to 85
Zandalar – 84 to 87
Plunder Isle – 86 to 88
The Broken Isles – 87 to 90
The Maelstrom – 89 to 90

Plane Set

Pandaria – 1 to 10
Hiji – 10 to 20

Wolfenhold – 1 to 10
Xorothian Plains – 10 to 20

The Green Lands – 88 to 91
The Dying Paradise – 91 to 94
The Emerald Nightmare – 94 to 97
The Eye of Ysera – 97 to 100

Deephome – 88 to 91
Skywall – 91 to 94
The Abyssal Maw – 94 to 97
The Firelands – 97 to 100

Legion Set

K’aresh – 96 to 99
Argus Meadowlands – 97 to 100
Mac’Aree – 99 to 100
Maw of Oblivion – 100+
The Burning Citadel – 100+++

So at least in part…  I think some of the recent leaves from Blizzard or the WoW team… are because the job if finished.  Now please do not mistake me saying that I feel like World of Warcraft is done… but what I am saying is that the original story arc has reached its conclusion.  There were a lot of changes and reworks as time went on.. and we ended up fighting the Legion at level 110 rather than 100, but we got there nonetheless.  I think for some of these folks who have been working on the product for over a decade now, there is a sense of closure.  They can make a break and walk away feeling like they accomplished whatever job it was that they set out to do in the first place.  I imagine were I in their shoes, it probably would feel like a great time for me to go do something else now.  Among the AggroChat crew there has been a lot of discussion about the way Legion feels… and more than anything else that it feels like the first truly “fresh” content that we have seen in a really long time.  There is something going on in the game, and a stark difference between the feel of the awesome intra-zone stories and the bigger factional story that feels forced in there.  I think what we are seeing is the evidence of two different teams at work, with different visions and goals for the game.

So while we might be losing the old guard, it definitely feels like there is some fresh new talent coming in to infuse something exciting into the franchise.  I’ve said this several times but it bears repeating.  This is the first time since the launch of Catalysm that I have hope for the future of the Warcraft franchise.  What I mean by that is that this is the first time in all of those years that I feel like maybe just maybe the best days of this franchise are not something we will remember fondly from the past, but instead something that is on the road that lay ahead.  Almost two months into Legion I am still completely smitten by it, and that seems like a really good thing.  By this point in both Pandaria and Warlords at least I was losing significant amounts of steam.  Here I am still more than happy to run almost anything someone points me in the direction of.  I am absolutely enjoying raiding and happy to be sitting at 4/7 Emerald Nightmare now with our super casual raid.  I am interested to see what comes next, and what news might filtered out of BlizzCon about where the future will take us.  More than anything I hope that the awesome Class Halls can be a bridge to get us to finally bury the hatchet and take a step away from the vision of the red versus blue game play and storytelling.  I want the next decade to be one I get to share with my horde and alliance friends both.

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