Jeff, Scott and I met up in the common area outside of the offices.
At Blizzard, everyone shared an office with one person, except the design leads, animators and producers who had offices which was shared between four people each. In the center, a set of blue chairs with folding arms like something out of a college classroom were arranged in a circle. This was where the meetings were held amongst designers.
Scott: Sure. *he turned to me* Have you talked these ideas through with anyone else yet?
Me: No, I just scratched this stuff down half an hour ago.
Scott: Alright, well, go talk to Geoff to see if these things are even possible. Maybe check in with Kevin Jordan too – I promised you’d go around and ask people for ideas, so please do.
Me: Oh, of course.
Scott: Great… and also… how did you think of Mages and not think of Jaina and her Water Elementals?
Me: Hmmm… I dunno, didn’t seem as connected to the player fantasy of being a mage.
Scott: Well, as a Mage main, I assure you, they are.
Me: Okay, I’ll keep it in mind!
Relief and Communication
Relieved that everything had gone OK with my first meeting with the lead designer, I trundled around the office, talking to each designer.
Me: Hey, I am working on a raid boss that’s supposed to be the “Ultimate Mage”. Do you have any ideas you’d like to see?
Joe Shely: I dunno, I think your abilities are pretty good too – but what will you do during the Blizzard phase from keeping everyone from standing in the middle. You should put a counterspell or something to force healers and casters to stand back.
Me: (same question)
Eric Dodds: Hmm… you know, now that you mention it, I don’t but I bet Kevin Jordan does. If you ever make an engineer though, let me know, cuz I’ve got a ton of ideas I’d love to see there.
Kevin Jordan: You want old mage spells? We deleted most of them… oh, but I think there’s still the Chains of Ice spell lying around. Maybe you can use that.
Stephen Pierce: It would be pretty rad if he polymorphed people.
Geoff Goodman: It would be even better if he polymorphed everyone and drank, hahahaha. (This was a common mage tactic in classic wow.)
Eric Maloof: What if he summoned a dragon? Then it could breathe on you.
Alex Afrasiabi: It would be awesome if he noticed that you’re carrying around his son’s staff if you picked it up in Naxxramas.
Your coworkers, be they designers, artists, engineers or the secretary at the front desk are an excellent source of raw ideas.
Ideas and feedback coming from a lot of places give you the seeds of many ideas. Filtering down those ideas is then your task as a designer. Decide which ones are best, figure out when to use them, why NOT to use them and generally look for the biggest possible moments in the game.
- Fire/Frost/Arcane Supers
- Chains of Ice
- Dragon’s Breath
- Water Elementals
- Drinking Water
The First/Frost/Arcane theme was strong… and three of the abilities suggested were CC:
- Chains of Ice
- Dragon’s Breath
How convenient. So I lined up all of the abilities in a chart:
- DD: Arcane Missiles:
- Super: Explosion
- CC: Polymorph
- DD: Fireball
- Super: Flame Wreathe
- CC: Dragon’s Breath
- DD: Frost Bolt
- Super: Circular Blizzard
- CC: Chains of Ice
This looked pretty good on paper! Also, the rest of the ideas: water elementals, drinking water… they were fun and amusing to me, but they seemed like overkill.
Or so I thought until playtesting began…
(To be continued….)