“Stay a While”: A Look Inside the Quest

January 30th by Blizzard Entertainment

Dragonflight introduced a variety of quests to draw players into the beauty and wonder of the Dragon Isles, but one has stood out among the many—"Stay Awhile.” We take a moment to look at the genesis of this quest with the quest design team and how it evolved into the quiet moment of remembrance so many players love.

The Seed of an Idea: Meet Veritistrasz

The NPC Veritistrasz’s story emerged from the desire to tell a story about the Ruby Lifeshrine and keep the action contained entirely within the area while providing It was insight into the mind of a dragon returning home for the first time in 10,000 years.

The original pitch was for a player to explore the area with an old red dragon who grew up in the Ruby Lifeshrine. The red dragon would tell the player about it from notes they had written to help them recall many things they may have forgotten over time. In this version, the quest had a lot more levity to it but would end in a similar way, with the red dragon coming across the black dragon egg tending location and having a breakdown as he remembered his old black dragon friend pre-corruption.

 The intent of the quest could be described as “Explain what the Ruby Lifeshrine is and explain the various situations of the dragonflights told through the lens of an old dragon.” The problem was that we already had a similar quest where the player visited the various hatcheries and talked to the egg tenders, so the team decided to work on other ideas for this quest. They focused on the core idea of an old red dragon feeling remorse and weariness after such a long time and then confronting those feelings and memories.

 Iterating on a Theme

Then began the team’s iteration on this quest to the version players play today.

Some changes that were made include:

  • When talking to Alexstrasza, there was a lot of focus on loss with how every known brood or brood relative of Alexstrasza is dead, how that impacts her, etc.
  • Having our questgiver reminisce about a black dragon friend that they were visibility distraught over having to kill those many years ago.
  • Another version broke this into multiple quests, got rid of the Ruby Lifeshrine tour, and introduced the concept of sitting and looking at the view. It also added the idea of the memory capsule.

Further iteration of the dialogue was made based on feedback and discussions with the team. The original dialogue was much less conversational, and more about listening to the NPC tell a story to the player character. There were about 3 or 4 breaks in it, and you can see this original iteration if you return to talk to Veritistrasz and ask to listen to his stories again.

After discussion, the team decided that there was too much dialogue, and something was needed to break it up. The idea behind the quest was to avoid combat and keep it within the Ruby Lifeshrine, so they went with a more conversational approach where you talk to Veritistrasz more frequently, which flowed better. An idea was tossed around to have the player go to some ruins and collect some items midway through, but they decided against this since players do something similar already in another quest.

The initial dialogue that was written could be described as sarcastic and bitter. Through the team’s iteration and how they wanted to represent the NPC, they developed it into a sadder tone. As this was developed, the team agreed that it was more interesting to listen to an NPC with a sad personality who feels as if he’s just done with everything. The line of thought was to represent a character that had just given up because of their experiences.

Another goal of this questline was to avoid having the player “fix” Veritistrasz, as that is not how emotional, mental, or mood disorders work. Instead, the team wanted to just tip the scales a bit, so instead of having Veritistrasz slide further downwards, maybe this conversation with the player character could be a catalyst to help him start to climb upwards.

 Fitting the Character to the Story

Many people can relate to a story about coming home to a place that is no longer exactly what they remember, as well as feeling that longing to return home and the days filled with good memories. Verirtistrasz was created with a specific intention, and there’s no backstory (yet) on the character and their actions over the past 10,000 years.  His very existence is all due to that initial seed of an idea that grew into a beautiful moment high above the Waking Shores on the edge of the Ruby Lifeshrine.

We hope this helps shine some light on the development process and shows how many ideas in WoW are born from a collaborative team effort. We look forward to telling many more tales within the World of Warcraft and look forward to seeing you in Azeroth.