BlizzCon 2010: Emerald Dream, Cataclysm Fixes in WoW’s Future
Here’s Blizzard’s main message of every panel at BlizzCon 2010 this weekend: “We’re thinking about it and we want to do it, we just don’t know when.”
Lots of questions that came up at various Q&A panels boiled down to that — specifically when talking about making various things sync when it comes to Cataclysm, the new World of Warcraft expansion due out Dec. 7.
Cataclysm fundamentally changes the world of Azeroth, rips up the continents, destroys some locations, and brings players back to a lot of places they’ve visited in the past. So sweeping are the changes that the locals in other expansions, Outland and Northrend, should have been vastly altered as well. Right now, they aren’t.
This was addressed at a couple of Friday’s panels, and it boils down to a time element. Going back and reworking those two huge regions is going to take a lot of work, and Blizzard just hasn’t been able to do it yet. But it’s in the plans — sooner or later, a properly f-ed up version of those two areas will be patched into WoW.
Narratively, though, it might require a stretch for players, bouncing back two years in Wow’s lore in order to make sense. Chris Metzen, vice president of creative development, and Alex Afrasiabi, lead world designer, spoke about it at their Quests and Lore panel Friday. To make a ruined Northrend and Outland make sense, the story will have to be out of sync with current lines. And it’s probably going to be a while before players get to go there anyway.
Speaking of going new places, Afrasiabi said during the WoW Open Q&A on Saturday that yes, Emerald Dream is going to show up in the future. He wouldn’t say when, or if it’ll be an expansion in its own right or a location patched in. But it’s coming.
For those uninitiated, the Emerald Dream (and the corrupted version, the Emerald Nightmare [which Afrasiabi made a point to mention, so it's in the cards, too]) is included in WoW lore as a sort of spirit world from which sprung the creation of the world. It’s like the blueprint for Azeroth, and while it’s mentioned in WoW’s story, nobody’s ever been there. But players would like to go.
Blizzard has heard those pleas, but adding in the Emerald Dream is a matter of narrative cohesion as well as the time to do it, Afrasiabi said. So basically, it’ll show up when it shows up.
Another thing: Blizzard is already looking down the pipe at WoW’s next expansion, and given the nature of Afrasiabi’s comments — he knew Blizzard would be doing the Emerald Dream, but he seemed genuinely unsure of when it would be feasible — it doesn’t seem like it’s the crux of expansion No. 4. Could be sooner, could be later, but I wouldn’t expect World of Warcraft: Emerald Dream to be on sale at stores in two years.