Ulduar development history

Hello everyone !

I'm going to speak about Ulduar raid, more precisely how it has been developed.

Ulduar was planed to be a Wrath of the Lich King raid from the beginning of the expansion, the first drafts of this area was in the game files even in 3.0 . Although it's interesting to see how it evolved through this data.

But before everything else, a little historic point. Ulduar is one of the 3 Azeroth's complex created by Titans with Uldum (in fact, the Halls of Origination) and Uldaman. Ulduar is full of the Titans' knowledge, but is also used as a jail for the Old God Yogg-Saron. Remember, the Old Gods are entities linked to the essence of Azeroth, and behind the Curse of Flesh. So Yogg-Saron was locked deep in Ulduar, kept by five powerful Earthen, the Ulduar Keepers : Hodir, Thorim, Mimiron, Freya and Tyr, however he released from his shackles and took the fortress control, submitting the Keepers to his wishes.

To match with this story, Ulduar's concept have been revised on many points between 3.0 version and the one that we know nowadays. Ulduar can be separated in two parts : exterior part (the entry), and the inner part that contained the prison. The first version had no drafts for the exterior part. Was it intended at this time ? I don't know, but we're going to be interested in the inner part.

Once we entered, we can find many changes : the star-shaped hologram that you see on the raid loading screen wasn't the same before

Before :

After :

Besides the hologram, you can see that the wall colours wasn't so shiny in the first version, many improvements have been done there. It's although the case for the major part of walls, they have been very reworked. For example, this is Thorim's hall and arena :

Before :

After :

Here we can see that some details changed, lamps were added, the wall frescoes have been redone or recoloured to give more light than the original version.

Regarding the arena it's less impressive :

Before :

After :

The central lamp has been totally redone. Must say that such a little star, that wasn't nice ! The statues have also been replaced by beautiful holograms. This kind of statues are here to take place, waiting for being replaced by the true model. I insist on it because we will see it again later.

Let's go to the hall that we take during the fight :

Before :

After :

The main thing is that stained glasses representing Thorim have been added. He's easily recognisable because of the hammer he carries. Indeed each Keeper refers to a Norse mythology god : Hodir to Odin, Mimiron to Mimir, Freya to Freyda, Tyr to Týr, and Thorim to Thor and his famous short-shafted hammer Mjöllnir, controlling lightening and thunder.

This kind of adds have been done in many ways on the raid. The only exception is the Hodir part, where the hall was very more detailed before now.

Before :

After :

We can see a little clarity change, and some missing ice blocks and peaks in the final version.

That two previous areas was today very close to the original one, and that's absolutely not the case for the other Keepers. We begin with Freya :

Before :

After :

The original version was much smaller than today's one, the garden was more square-shaped, there was not large length and width as today. No space for the three ancients, no space for the hard mode. It means that they hadn't intended to implements a hard mode, or that they just didn't know how they will do. In the old version, there is a place to fight the boss, it's easy to see, thing that finally disappeared, surely for having more freedom in an exterior fight, as what we have with Shannox for example.

Mimiron now. There it's something else, the area is absolutely not ready, and very far that what we have today, even if we recognise some basis. There is a global view on this part :

The cog-shaped rooms validate that this part was indeed for Mimiron. A very long corridor reminds somewhat what we have with the Tram, but the size was too small to keep something like that :

Maybe the devs were initially thinking about something like a little cart on rails instead of what we have today.

At the very end, we have a little room with a big sleeping man. This is surely not Mimiron, he wasn't that tall ! I think it represents his robot. Nice to see it changed because I wouldn't have enjoyed to fight something as big and ugly in a such small room !

It's although sure that it was planned to fight Mimiron via a machine (you see yourself and 24 others hitting a little mechanic gnome ? Hummmm, not really !).

Done for the Keepers ! … Ah but no, wait ! Remember I spoked about Tyr before ! So who can this Tyr could be ? In fact we don't know many things on him, but he really existed in devs' minds, I don't invent it. If you played alliance and read your Storm Peaks quests, you may remember about an investigation in each Keepers' temples (except Thorim's one) : Temple of Life for Freya, Temple of Winter for Hodir, Temple of Invention for Mimiron and Temple of Order for Tyr. So there is surely a Tyr part in Ulduar, around the observation ring. There's no many possibilities left, only the hall that makes us going to the Descent into Madness today remains.

Before :

After :

We can see two important details : the door, now closed, was open and looks more like a balcony, more precisely like an exit. Just as it's for Hodir, that is in the opposite of the raid. Chance ? I don't think so. We're sure it's not an entry because it's not climbable.

The left hall (to the Descent into Madness) is the same as the one we know, but doesn't go down in depths. And above all it contains again spained glasses like the Thorim's ones :

I think it represents Tyr, I don't see anyone else that could be. So, what's this big hole at the end of the hall ? Here it's coming really impressive :

A gigantic colossus emerging from the water. There are some theories on what this colossus is supposed to represent : maybe Tyr, because as seen on the stained glasses just before he's linked with the water, or it could also be Kologarn. I didn't show you that but the old version of the broken bridge was kinda deep... really deep.

So unless it have very long legs, not that easy to spawn a boss here. The colossus makes me think about something like Kologarn : same position, bringing you a same combat with an immobile boss. So we can wonder how to cross the broken way if we can't use Kologarn's corpse as bridge ?...

The colossus may also be Yogg-Saron itself, because in Old Ulduar, there is no place where to build the prison. Indeed that was there before :

Before :

After :

A great platform above a small cupola wasn't that nice to lock an Old God, and its position in the water isn't adapted too. Keepers are indeed supposed to keep an eye on Yogg-Saron (that's why it's called Observation Ring), but if it is in this area, it doesn't make any sense. Moreover the colossus have a human shape, and that's not really the Old God's case...

So I think there is the most credible idea : the colossus is Tyr. Yogg-Saron is locked below the Observation Ring,  although this part didn't existed yet (after all, maybe the statue and the platform are here just for waiting the prison to be built). And we can explain that the broken way was split when Yogg-Saron unlocked itself (like the shattered hologram shield)

The only detail that doesn't match is that in Norse mythology, Týr wasn't really linked with water. Thor was the Thunder God, Mimir the memory one. Odin wasn't especially related to the winter, but maybe because his a famous viking god among people, he's easily linked to snow and winter. Freya was more “the beauty” than “the life”, and Týr was associated with sovereignty and order (as his temple is named in the Storm Peaks, remember). So why did they put him in water ? We mustn't forget that the Keepers aren't Nose Gods but only references, so Blizzard could take some liberties on them, as for Freya and Hodir.

Now lasts the broken way part with the Assembly of Iron, Algalon, and the two planetariums : the Archivum and the Celestial Planetarium. Interesting thing is that on first look, it seems like there's only one planetarium in the old version, the Algalon one (the Celestial). Here is the missing one (from a far look) and the room before it :

Before :

After :

Besides the fact that it's much bigger than the old room, we see they added the Archivum behind. It was, I think, intended to be on the place where Algalon is :

Before :

After :

No door to keep the access, the ground identical to the Halls of Stone Archivum, well, not very adapted to a Herald of the Titans fight ! It was really planed to fight Algalon, but not here. Remember, while going to the Celestial Planetarium, you see this :

Before :

After :

See the door on the right ? This is the way to the old Celestial Planetarium and the fight against Algalon. Want a proof ? There is what you can see behind !

It really reminds us more what we have today : a fight in space, between stars and planets. However, surely by the wish to add an access via the Assembly of Iron, devs may have found better to invert all that, and to make from the old Archivum the Celestial Planetarium for Algalon.

So what happened to the old planetarium ? It has been deleted, but the door remains, as the door for the Tyr part.

Thus, Ulduar has been very modified from the original idea, and even if we can regret the missing Tyr, the raid has been a great success, as visually as for the fight mechanics.

So, I think I covered every angle of the subject, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed !