With Rise of the Zandalari now live, Blizzard has published an interview between 'Blizzard Insider' and Scott 'Daelo' Mercer, World of Warcraft's Lead Encounter Designer. It's important to note that Blizzard Insider is an internal team that performs interviews with the various development teams that comprise Blizzard Entertainment, so don't expect any difficult or controversial questions.
"The idea first came up after the launch of 4.0 when we reintroduced 5-player versions of Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines. The classic dungeons ended up being a big hit with players, so we knew we wanted keep the momentum going by remaking more dungeons," Mercer said when asked why the team decided to focus on revamps of past dungeons for the first major Cataclysm content patch.
Zul'Gurub was chosen for an update due to it being an extremely popular raid during the classic era of World of Warcraft. Even deep into the Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions, some players returned to the raid for various farming -- be it for rare mounts, or the coveted Polymorph: Turtle spell. With its removal at the launch of Cataclysm, it left a hole in the hearts of many players, and Blizzard felt it was time to patch that up.
Zul'Aman, on the other hand, was added later in the patch development, near the end of Zul'Gurub's redesign. The World of Warcraft team felt it was one of the best raid zones they'd ever created. "It was really the 'hidden jewel' of Burning Crusade raiding," he said, touching on the fact that Zul'Aman was introduced late into the game's first expansion. Many players missed out on it due to that, so the designers wanted to bring it back.
Fans of classic Zul'Gurub may be sad to discover that Hakkar has left the building.
For overall boss changes, Zul'Aman hasn't been touched all that much -- sans Zul'jin no longer being the final boss. Its encounter mechanics were inline with the team's philosophy for the most part. On the other hand, Zul'Gurub has been touched up quite a bit. Its non-boss creatures have been completely redesigned, and many bosses have been reworked to include more advanced mechanics, albeit those that are not punishing to 5-player groups.
Moving forward the team wants to revamp other original dungeons where it makes sense. While there are technical hurdles in many cases -- not to mention the risk of removing level-up content -- it's a goal they would like to see to fruition. A few already discussed are Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance, both fan favorites of the classic era.
Of course, two others are being thrown into the pot as well, and both fit in strongly with the existing lore of Cataclysm. Blackrock Spire and Blackrock Depths have been discussed, and could potentially see the light of day at some point during Cataclysm's development cycle.