Foreseeing Cataclysm: The Rumors, The Leaks, The Rage

Last time on Foreseeing Cataclysm:
The wild speculations that popped up once Blizzard filed a trademark for the name Cataclysm.

In this episode:
A recount of all the rumors and leaks that came to public attention before the official announcement of Cataclysm at BlizzCon ’09.

A few tidbits of information regarding what Blizzard may be planning for the next expansion came in early July from VideoGamer.com interview with Tom Chilton, game director of WoW. When asked about the possible setting of the next expansion, Chilton pointed out a lot of Azeroth hadn’t been finished yet and areas like South Seas and the Maelstrom hadn’t been introduced at all. Concerning new races, Chilton reiterated that adding new classes too often is not something they wanted to do. Also Chilton admitted a design flaw with adding the Draenei race was that the race had very little presence in WoW beforehand and any new races they introduced would have to have a presence in the game beforehand. This interview certainly seemed to indicate that Blizzard was going to add 2 new races in the next Cataclysm and that it might unlock new zones within Azeroth.

According to Google - Ladies and Gentlemen, World of Warcraft game designer Tom Chilton

A couple of weeks later avid players on the 3.2 PTR discovered in the game files textures for Worgen and Goblin Halloween masks. This major goof on Blizzards part immediately sent the community speculating. One of the most memorable announcements concerning this leak came from Boubouille, overlord of MMO-Champion, who said he’ll be running naked through the streets if his prediction of Alliance getting Worgens and Horde getting Goblins did not come to pass. Boubouille running through streets in his birthday suit seemed like a plausible scenario when a few days later additional Halloween mask textures for Murlocs, Vrykul, Ogres and Naga were data-mined. Of course now we know that Blizzard was trying to salvage what they could but at the time it wasn’t possible to tell which leak was the the real deal.

On second thought Goblins aren't that bad

Over the next few weeks new information was scarce. Most of it, like Hunters possibly getting a non-mana resource system, came from class Q&A sessions released. For the most part these posts were vague and nothing solid could be gathered from them – just promises to improve certain aspects of each class. Ghostcrawler confirmed that Blizzard intended to focus on battlegrounds more in the future, however then it only meant that we’d get more than 1-2 new BGs per expansion and the rated battlegrounds system was still kept secret.

Just when it seemed that we’d have to wait until BlizzCon to hear any new info about the future of WoW, the floodgates opened and simultaneously several sites posted an incomplete feature list of the upcoming expansion, risking their good reputation in case their informants had got it wrong. However the sources were reliable – 2 weeks before BlizzCon fan sites confirmed that the next expansion would feature 2 new races, Worgens for the Alliance and Worgen for the Horde. A couple of days later new race/class combinations were leaked as well – because these included the unlikely Tauren Paladins and Night Elf Mages many people dismissed them as fakes and borderline-blasphemy.

The big leak however came on 14th of August, mere week before BlizzCon was to start. Boubouille posted an extensive list of features of the Cataclysm expansion, many of which seemed completely outlandish at the time but were accurate in the long run. The 85 level cap, the complete revamp of Old World, flying in Old World, zones like Gilneas, Hyjal and Uldum, Deathwing and Azshara being the big baddies, Garrosh becoming the new leader of the Horde, murder of Cairne Bloodhoof etc. Such bold announcements made many MANY players vary and call this information an elaborate hoax that was full of things that would NEVER happen.

Needless to say, the last week before BlizzCon many players spent on forums flaming or praising the leaked features. Many threats were made to cancel subscriptions if night elfs got mages/Cairne was killed/Garrosh became leader of Horde/Alliance got the cool race etc. One must wonder how the population of WoW didn’t halve when all of these changes were confirmed.

BlizzCon '09

Regardless, BlizzCon came a week later and every rumor and leak out there was either confirmed or debunked. Many other features were announced and the tone of Cataclysm changed from flaming to can’t-wait in just a few days. Ever since BlizzCon we’ve been treated to a steady trickle of new information which has grown to a steady waterfall since the public beta stage began. Hate it or love it, Cataclysm is coming and nothing can stop it from happening.

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~ by Shale on July 27, 2010.

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