"I Feel Lied To," Post-BfA Version

Back on the old board, there used to be a thread titled “I feel lied to.” Some of us were using it to collect statements from the devs that implied certain things about the way BfA was going to go–not just plot, but in tone and theme as well–and that had not (so far) panned out.

Now that BfA is officially over and all the “wait and see” stuff has been seen, I’d like to recreate that thread so that we can take a look back and see if any of that stuff makes more sense now. And if not … what happened to it? What were they thinking when they said these things?

I’m going to be as thorough as possible with exact quotes and links so that people can check out the statements for themselves if they want.

(ETA: Can someone please post a quick response? I was going to put the various quotes in different messages for easier reading, but the board won’t let me respond to a thread I started until someone else makes a post.)

ETA 2: As this thread is getting pretty long, I’m putting quick links to just the articles here, in chronological order of their publication:

11/4/17, Blizzplanet (Alex Afrasiabi)
11/9/17, PC Gamer (Alex Afrasiabi & Ion Hazzikostas)
11/16/17, Blizzplanet (Blizzcon Q&A notes)
1/30/18, Forbes (Alex Afrasiabi & Ion Hazzikostas)
4/5/18 Invenglobal (Travis Day, Jimmy Lo, & Steve Burke)
4/5/18, Blizzardwatch (Travis Day & Jimmy Lo)
4/5/18, Inven.co Korea (alternate translation and discussion here)
4/26/18, Twitch (Ion Hazzikostas & Josh Allen)
5/3/18, PCgamesn (John Hight)
8/17/18, Polygon (Steve Danuser)
8/21/18, PCgamesn (Michael Bybee)
9/12/18, Polygon (Kevin Martens)
4/5/19, Polygon (Ion Hazzikostas)
11/?/19, Reddit notes (Blizzcon 2019)
3/12/20, Windows Central (Steve Danuser)

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Uh, sure, here you go.

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Thanks, @Ximothy!

Let’s start with April 5, 2018, which was a big day for interviews about BfA.


https://www.invenglobal.com/articles/4755/explore-claim-resources-and-battle-for-your-faction-world-of-warcraft-interview

InvenGlobal interview with senior producer Travis Day, principal artist Jimmy Lo, and senior designer Steve Burke on April 5, 2018:

The various conflicts between the Horde and Alliance have sparked once again because of the Azerite. But, it seems that Sylvanas Windrunner is showing as a villain too much according to the revealed story so far. Is there any chance that she will be corrupted and become a boss in the future, or has a chance to redeem her image?

Steve: Oh, you never know. Anything can happen, and we have nothing to answer on that front, but I know what you mean. I think that it just depends on your perspective, she’s an interesting character, and a very charismatic leader too. She’s very effective. You’re right, I think throughout the history of Warcraft, the Horde and Alliance have always been just a hair’s breadth away from war. We’ve hit war several times in the history. This is the first time in World of Warcraft where we actually get to set everything aside and go after each other. There have always been other bigger things such as Lich King that we’ve had to either come together for or at least set our differences to the side to be able to take care of. And now, it’s turning back on each other. They’ve got plenty of reasons not to like each other.

Travis: That’s a cool idea, but I do think that, and it’s just the way it’s been represented so far. As we [come] closer and closer to launch, we are going to have some of those that fill in the blanks as you play through the siege of Lordaeron and such, I think it will tell you the story that it’s even-handed. I think we want to end up in a place where the Horde can make an argument that the Alliance started it and vice versa, as is the lead of all conflicts.

Jimmy: It’s a matter of interpretation. There’s no clear like this person is good and that person is bad. It really depends.

Travis: Because Sylvanas is not evil. In the story for her, it’s much more. She’s definitely aggressive, and she definitely believes in having power and control, but I also think that she does take seriously the representation of the Horde. She has a different perspective which is that the Horde will never be safe until the Alliance is wiped out. But, is she acting in a cruel, mustache-twirling evil way? Not really, she’s just trying to defend her people.

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You do the good Lord’s work, Pellex.

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Here’s another interview with Travis Day and Jimmy Lo, and also dated April 5, 2018. They must have been making the rounds that day.

https://blizzardwatch.com/2018/04/05/wow-developer-qa-travis-day-jimmy-lo/

Mitch: In terms of the story, were you guys concerned with having… it sounds like Horde being the ones to start the attack. Was there any point where you considered, maybe, the Alliance will be the aggressors to start?

Travis: So… who started it, right? I think it’s interesting – I think what we’ll find, honestly, is that, uh… you guys remember the intro to Legion, where we have the Assault on the Broken Shore, where Varian dies and Sylvanas had… she made a choice, right? She made the choice to retreat rather than letting the whole Horde die up on that hill, which they probably would have. She’s probably not wrong. She sucks, but she’s probably not wrong.

Mitch: Whoa!

Travis: Alliance, sorry. [Laughs]

Mitch [to Jimmy]: Are you Alliance?

Jimmy: Yeah.

Mitch: Sighs

Travis: In coming out of that, I think a lot of the Alliance players were really, like –trying to not swear — were really anti-Sylvanas coming out of that. And a lot of the Horde players were like, ‘Oh no, she made totally the right choice. Actually, the Alliance was just diving to their own deaths. To hell with them, let them die.’

So, I think, in the way that the story’s gonna be told, and the two-and-a-half/three pieces that are coming out ahead of time, where we’re actually gonna see the burning of Teldrassil, and what that’s gonna do is… hopefully leave it open to debate. I definitely think that you’ll come to the conclusion that Sylvanas burned the tree. But…

How much of the Horde is behind that? [That’s] up to debate.

And how much of the retribution is driven by the Boy King trying to prove his manhood, and how much is actually strategic objective? [It’s] also up for debate.

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Jeeeesus I mean it’s one thing to know they flat out lied, but it’s another to read it after having known it.

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And finally, the third interview from April 5, 2018, which was a Korean-language one. If anyone here happens to read Korean, I’d love a fuller translation.

(Korean language original) http://www.inven.co.kr/board/wow/1896/27860

(Rough English translation as quoted below) https://www.mmo-champion.com/threads/2390689-Interview-with-Blizzard-about-Horde-Alliance-and-Good-vs-Evil

Q. So Sylvanas is the bad guy, Anduin is the good guy? Horde is Evil, Alliance is good? What is different Sylvanas from Garrosh?

A. This is our mistake, but we have to first release the story of Teldrassil and Lordearon in order to gain the game’s popularity and this helped make Sylvanas and the Horde “Evil”. Three animations will be revealed before Battle for Azeroth. We’ll cover a variety of people here. For instance, Jaina may have an abnormal side of her. You’ll see the good side of the Horde. Nor will Anduin’s Lordaeron’s attacks be done for justice. Frankly, it is meant to show the king’s dignity. The head of the state does not represent the camp.

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I wouldn’t call this a lie but the initial presentation of the expansion seemed extremely misleading. The way I interpreted the teaser and trailer for BFA, I thought they were splitting the continents with Alliance claiming the Eastern Kingdoms and the Horde getting Kalimdor and that the faction war would be a war between factions not a MOP rehash. Although I sure this way of marketing was intentional as they were trying to surprise the player-base and I just found the pay off for that surprise disappointing.

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I’ve been working on finding exact quotes of what the devs said about the burning of Teldrassil, especially in the time before they let slip that Teldrassil happened first, and as part of that, I noticed that there was quite a lot of talk at Blizzcon 2017 about the idea of one continent per faction. I don’t know if they ever were going to actually do it or not, but they definitely were deliberately creating the expectation that it would happen.

EDIT: Look at some of the quotes below:

It kinda sounds like they had bigger plans for warfronts that didn’t happen.

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I’m presuming you’re referring to the trailers and such? Metzen has an interview up on Soundcloud where he talks about how someone came and told the story team that they were going to change things. Sylvanas was going to burn the tree for a Game of Thrones moment. So, the trailers, the preamble a year before while metzen was there, was all essentially wasted.

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Here’s a direct transcript (made by me) of a part of the developer Q&A from April 26, 2018.

http://www.wowhead.com/news=283905/liveblog-of-the-april-26-battle-for-azeroth-beta-q-a-with-ion-hazzikostas

Video only: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/254739285

Starts at 1:13:17

Q. “The intro quests on the beta are painting the Horde in a negative light. Should I be worried about my faction turning evil?”

Ion: Evil’s, you know, it’s a matter of perspective.

Josh: There’s probably a ton of Alliance players that are like, “What are you even talking about? You’ve been evil the whole time.”

Ion: No one told you? “Are we the bad guys?”* So, some have said–I think the attribution of the quote is all over the place, but–“All that is needed for evil to prosper is for the good men of the world to do nothing.” The Horde has many facets to it, and there are aspects of what the Forsaken have represented for a long time that have not necessarily been directly in line with what the Tauren represent, for example. I mean, compare the events at the Wrathgate to what you know about Tauren culture. Yet there’s been this uneasy partnership between these groups for some time. And, you know, there are similar tensions and similar discordance that we see throughout the other factions. These entities aren’t monolithic.

That said, evil–again, it’s–there’s a lot of harsh things that happen in war in general. You know, when groups are fighting for survival, at the end of the day, they resort to desperate measures when it, you know, when it comes to the choice between that and extinction. There’s a lot of story to tell going forward. I don’t want to dig too far into this, but–

Josh: Sure.

Ion: Both sides should be worried about this. I think it’s–Azeroth is a world of grey. It’s never been a world of “black or white.” I think that’s one of the things that was a defining aspect of the franchise from its earliest days, right: you looked at “Warcraft: Orcs and Humans” and the stories told in that world, and you looked at, you know, these noble, recognizable folks who look like us and these giant, green, brutish monsters and naturally might assume, “Well, okay, right, humans are are the good guys and orcs are evil because they look like monsters.” But that’s not what Warcraft is about. There’s more nuance, and that’s not changing any time soon.


*Almost certainly a reference to this comedy sketch:

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The way they consistently weasel out of answering so many questions is making me seethe. I would be fine if they just said “we don’t want to spoil the story”, even if a straight answer would be preferred.

If I wanted to be tossed sweet, incredibly vague nothings then I would turn on the news.

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Moving back to Blizzcon 2017, here are Alex Afrasiabi’s remarks from when they were still keeping some mystery about the order of Teldrassil and Undercity.

https://warcraft.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/blizzcon-2017-world-warcraft-battle-azeroth-panel-transcript

Alex: We are here today to talk about the Battle for Azeroth and prepare you for the coming war. Right now, we have all seen that incredible cinematic. We are from the get-go: battle lines are drawn, and what I like best about that cinematic (and it does so many things, so well) is that it reinforces the foundations of Warcraft; because whether we are fighting the Burning Legion, the Scourge, Old gods, Dragon Aspects, Elemental Lords, or yes… timetraveling Orcs, our hearts and minds are with our factions. We do what we do in this worlds, first and foremost, for the HORDE! … and for the ALLIANCE! — and that makes us the champions of Azeroth. The greatest hope the world has ever known, and also its biggest threat. But this is WoW. We don’t just get to watch awesome cinematics. We get to live them. Because to get to the Battle for Azeroth, you are going to have to go through the battle for Lordaeron.

Like the Broken Shore, we will pick up where the cinematic left off; and what goes down that day will change Warcraft history forever. Now some of you might be asking: Hey, Alex. Why would the Alliance attack the Undercity? It is a good question. It is a good question. Here is a better question: why would the Horde burn down Teldrassil?

Did Teldrassil fall first, and lead to the attack of Undercity; or was the burning of Teldrassil a response to the bold Alliance attack on Lordaeron? You will find out. Think about this: the stage is set for an Alliance-controlled Eastern Kingdoms, and a Horde-controlled Kalimdor with one great big sea separating the two continents — which leads us to our search for allies. In our quest for victory, we will seek out the Kul’Tirans as the Alliance, and the Zandalari as the Horde. Coincidentally, both of these nations have extremely powerful navies, which we are going to need to span that great sea. Let me leave you with this thought: no matter who fired the first shot, we are in an all-out war. It is our duty as Alliance, as Horde, to defend our people, our families, and our homes. This is the Battle for Azeroth.

So to recap: the Alliance and the Horde are in an all-out war. All hatreds have reignited. It is both factions strike at each other’s hearts. Now with the world divided, we seek out lost territories, and new powerful resources; and with no external threats, we turn our fury to each other. We fight for our faction’s survival, and our place in this world.

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This stuff is pretty bad. It honestly reads like they were promoting a very different xpac than what we actually got.

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Lord, what a trainwreck BFA was ROFL. This is awful to relive.

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From August 21, 2018 (about a week after BfA’s release):

https://www.pcgamesn.com/world-of-warcraft/sylvanas-garrosh

Blizzard has addressed concerns voiced by World of Warcraft players in the run up to the release of Battle for Azeroth, saying that it has no plans to repeat story beats that have been seen in previous expansions. In a presentation at Gamescom, producer Micheal Bybee says that “there are definitely other plans in store,” for both the Alliance and the Horde…

Concerns were mostly aimed at the fact that the current Horde Warchief, Sylvanas, was following too closely in the footsteps of previous leader, Garrosh, by very clearly putting forward the Horde as the bad guys, yet again.

According to Bybee, however, those fears are unfounded. He says that “the key thing is that it’s all part of a story thread that we’ve had planned out for a long time. The Sylvanas burning of the tree was maybe a low moment for the Horde, and the Saurfang piece was maybe a high moment, but those are just the first couple of drum beats of a very long story that we’re telling in Battle for Azeroth.”

“We’re super excited with where it’s going to go, and I can just say that we’re not going to do to Sylvanas what happened with Garrosh,” Bybee says. That should help to alleviate the concerns of Horde players who were worried that the unfortunate matter of that genocide would cast them as the baddies. It also more or less confirms that Sylvanas won’t follow in the footsteps of Garrosh in acting as the final raid boss for the expansion as well.

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Maybe they just genuinely think that the Horde and/or Sylvanas wasn’t evil in BfA?

Maybe it’s just their view of the whole situation? I’ve seen them mention it quite a lot that the Horde and Sylvanas aren’t evil, so maybe they just have a different definition of evil than most people (which obviously doesn’t make it any better, but still).

I personally feel like it’s kind of weird to have a faction start a war and commit genocide and then come out and say that they aren’t evil when they spent an entire expansion showing us the opposite, but with Shadowlands we learn that not only did they commit genocide, they also sent everyone to hell which makes their actions even worse instead of better.
Waiting for the story to play out has proven them wrong even further.

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Some tidbits from the Blizzcon 2017 fan Q&A session. Most of the questions were about gameplay, but there were a few interesting lore nuggets mixed in. All the quoted bits are from pages 2 and 3.

https://warcraft.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/blizzcon-2017-world-warcraft-qa-panel-transcript

https://warcraft.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/blizzcon-2017-world-warcraft-qa-panel-transcript

https://warcraft.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/blizzcon-2017-world-warcraft-qa-panel-transcript/3

(Note: I’m putting in the question about Jaina not because it feels like a lie to me, but for comparison and contrast with how they talk about Sylvanas. Also, I think it’s interesting that the questioner used the G word with regard to her and the devs didn’t correct it. Not that I think they think it’s accurate, but I think it shows that they’re happy to have players hate characters on the “other side,” even irrationally. And also, what’s that bit about “responsible for what the Horde is today”??)


Participant 14 : In the Battle of Azeroth, is Jaina actually a good guy? I mean, are we just supposed to forget the whole genocide of Dalaran?

Alex : Jaina is complicated, just like any of the other characters. She’s as evil as I am. Bad example.

Jenny : How evil are you?

Alex : As these guys. So look… if I am Jaina… as a character, Jaina is racked with regrets… looking over her past decisions and the things that she’s done, responsible for the death of her father, potentially responsible for what the Horde is today as a result of that.

What could she have done differently at Stratholme? Could she have saved Arthas? What about the Battle for Undercity? So if you could have unpacked all that, break all of those things apart, it has left a character that has some damage (and then not even speaking about Theramore). So one of the things we are going to do is explore that damage, explore those decisions with Jaina, and try to understand how she got to be the way she is, and hopefully pull her out of it.

So… no, she’s not evil. She’s conflicted, and it is something we absolutely want to explore.


Participant 17 : Hi there my name is Grant. With the Horde attacking Teldrassil, and the Alliance attacking Lordaeron, what are your plans for the starting zones in those areas, and also just some of the other leveling zones in the Eastern Kingdoms?

Alex : Starting zones are not going to change. In order to appreciate the burning of Teldrassil, you kind of have to understand what Teldrassil is first; and the wait time works in our game is that it flows by level. So you’ll still be able to start in Shadowglen, go to Dolanaar, Darnassus, Darkshore, go through all of that and then when you hit 110 — we will burn it all down.

The same thing for Lordaeron, and what happens there. You’ll still make a character in Deathknell, and go through all those cool experiences, and get to the place of a questgiver, and all the other fun stuff; and then we’ll see what happens; but once you do get to that point in Battle for Azeroth — where these events have occurred, the land around you will (of course) change; and potentially more. You know we have got a Warfront in Arathi that who knows what’ll happen there.


Jenny : Alright, another viewer would like to know: are the continents of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms completely split between the factions; and what does that mean for places like Silvermoon city and the Exodar?

Alex : Well, Silvermoon and Exodar are still Alliance and Horde respectively. Those zone boundaries are very tricky for NPCs to cross. We will have a fiction in place, obviously.

Those two are kinda the last bastions of their factions, and maybe a way in for those factions as well, and we will be sure to use them in this battle.

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Why did they feel the need to mislead us like this?I saw no sign of “gray” in this expansion’s story line.Just the Horde once again starting another pointless war after committing yet another atrocity against the Alliance before turning on itself with another pointless civil war with an evil Warchief with the Alliance helping out the “Good Horde” once again.Meanwhile the Alliance takes it’s place on it’s golden light-infused high horse to defend itself against the “unwashed savages” of the Horde.How boring.Does Blizzard truly think the Alliance is capable of doing no wrong so they have to hit the horde with the villain bat each time they fill the need to drum up faction conflict?

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