Archive for the ‘Blizzard Corporate’ Category

Patch 4.1.11 Preview Notes

Blizzard posted a note over at the official forums about what changes we’ll see in patch 4.1.11; the one that will contain the Tomb of Immortal Darkness. They don’t normally go to such lengths to tell us what’s going on behind the scenes way before a patch like this, but I’m glad they’re being open and honest with us.

All in all though, the changes look good! They’re finally taking Dance Studio out of the game – no one used that anyway, and adding a Random Guild Finder! Awesome!

Also, to encourage people to get out of capital cities, they’re adding a new debuff:

Players in capital cities will receive a 2-hour debuff “Homebody” that increases damage taken and reduces damage and healing given by 10% for every 10 minutes they’re within city limits. We hope this encourages something.

Oh snap! And look, class improvements too! For example:

Druid forms are now considered vehicles, allowing one player to ride on the druid’s back while in any form, even their humanoid form.

and for Hunters:

Ettin’s Grip (new talent) allows the hunter to equip two ranged weapons simultaneously.

(ooc: that would actually be badass. seriously.)

And a few others worth noting:

* Invisible walls have been added around all harmful ground effects.

* All dungeon & raid bosses now have legs. If they already had legs, they got more legs.

* In order to make the Cataclysm expansion appeal to all players’ sense of nostalgia, shaman, druids and paladins may now only queue as healers when using the Dungeon Finder.

* Tank Stimulus: Successfully completing 25 Dungeon Finder runs as a tank will grant you a $400 Federal tax credit. (Requires Form 8863)

Woot! A tax credit! Time to respec my Paladin! And honestly, who doesn’t appreciate more legs? I know I do. I can’t wait for this patch to land!

Blizzard Unveils the Tomb of Immortal Darkness: New 5 Man Dungeon!

Wow, Blizzard is really intent on bringing new and interesting 5-man content to the game. Today they announced the Tomb of Immortal Darkness, a new 5-player dungeon that will blow your mind. Here’s their description:

Deep beneath the crumbling tombstones of Duskwood’s Raven Hill Cemetery, a dark and mysterious power is emerging. Drawing strength from the blackest night and fiercely jealous of the sighted, a once-devoted follower of Leotheras the Blind is spreading his shadowy tendrils across the land. Heroes of Azeroth must delve into his pitch black lair to face Omgsogoth, Dark Lord of Twilight, before the world is plunged into eternal night.

Making use of cutting-edge Deep Dark® technology, the Tomb of Immortal Darkness is a new five-player normal and heroic dungeon that will be introduced in patch 4.1.11. Three new bosses, with unique features and mechanics, will put your group to the test: Omgsogoth, Dark Lord of Twilight; the maniacal Twisted Spiral Fool; and Duc Ulah, The Winged Keeper. Featuring new daily quests, updated monster models, and all-new unique loot, you’ll find you really can’t believe your eyes…

Face your greatest fears in the paralysing dark of the Tomb. Tremble as you stumble blindly towards Omgsogoth’s chamber. Panic at the claustrophobic atmosphere, and feel terror cloud your senses. Will you find your way, or will you be lost, never to return?

Check out the gameplay videos there too – the dungeon looks incredible! So much depth of field, and so much to explore! You could literally go over it a thousand times and never see the same details twice!

I cast magic missle!

Blizzard’s Horadric Cube App Transmutes Anything!

In Diablo, the Horadric Cube allows you to transmute items into new, more powerful ones! Add a little of one element to a little of another, bam – something incredible! Now you can do the same with the apps on your smartphone, thanks to Blizzard and their new Horadric Cube iPhone App!

Fruit Ninja and Angry Birds? Ninja Birds! Skype and Facebook? FaceSkype! You get the idea. Here’s what Blizzard has to say:

Using this app, you can transform and recombine any number of other apps you drag into it. Use the Cube’s transmute power, and the Cube’s Horadric magic will change the existing apps into a new, potentially more powerful app. But beware! A terrible fate awaits those who do not heed the warnings contained within the ancient scrolls. You must not attempt to drag the cube into itself! No good can come of it! Seek out the disclaimer (section 2) for further information.

Wow! And that say that while transmutation is available in the current version, future versions will also feature translocation, which will allow you to open dimensional portals and summon the horrors of hell onto earth and doom us all! How’s THAT for “one more thing,” iPhone users?

Here’s hoping Blizzard is planning an Android version soon!

Blizzard Returns to Consoles with Starcraft Motion Overdrive!

This can only be seen to be believed – Blizzard is planning an epic return to consoles by bringing Starcraft II to the XBox 360, using your body as the controller, thanks to Microsoft’s Kinect!

Check out it, and be amazed!

Here’s what Blizzard had to say:

Ever since its inception, the real-time strategy genre has been missing one crucial gameplay element: You. Generations of players have commanded their forces from afar, making tactical decisions and planning their strategies at a safe distance from the front lines. But now, we finally have the technology to put you at the center of the battlefield. Welcome to StarCraft: Motion Overdrive!

Read more about it here at the Motion Overdrive information page!

Awesome! Now I can get in shape and pwn noobs! Terran fo’ lyfe!

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No.3

The third round of Blizzard’s developer Q&A just finished, and most of the questions and answers this round focused on UI elements and usability changes. The questions and answers this time were really good for those folks who are passionate about the look and feel of World of Warcraft, and how players play and interact with the game. The full thread is here.

Here are a couple of the highlights, especially some of the questions and answers that I’m particularly enamored with, starting off with the “is it possible to raid without add-ons/are add-ons making the game too easy” question we hear all too often:

Q: Some Addons are so powerful they simplified the game content to a degree (e.g., boss fights). Do you think that when the majority are using these Addons, the original reasoning behind the game design is violated? And isn’t it unfair for players who don’t use Addons? – 冷影幽光 (Taiwan)

A: This really deserves a long answer. It sounds like a good topic for a future developer blog. To tide you over until then, we can say that some addons do a great job of providing information we really should be providing (and have long-term plans to provide).This includes information like threat, the distance you are from other players , when you have a killer debuff on you and things like that. On the other hand, when addons are too helpful, they are playing the game for you and you’re just doing what the addon tells you to do. When the mod tells you so much information about the fight that you don’t even really need to pay attention to what is happening in the world at all, then we feel that crosses the line. I don’t know that we could put the djinn back in the bottle at this point though. It would feel really harsh to prevent addons from tracking some of that information, and in some cases we’re not even sure how we would prevent it.

We continue to try and come up with new mechanics that ask players to pay attention to the fight itself instead of just pushing whatever button the addon tells them to push. You might be alerted to when Atramedes emits a Sonar Pulse, but you don’t know where it is going to be. Sinestra’s Twilight Slicer requires you to look at the battle field and not just your UI. To be fair, we are also trying to do a better job of telegraphing to players when bosses will use predictable abilities. The Conclave of Wind and Nefarian for example do their special abilities at predictable intervals along their resource or health bar.

It is a fine line to decide when an addon becomes mandatory. Ideally you could raid without any addons, and some players do. Information is often power in complex raid encounters though, and we agree that in some cases we don’t provide enough information yet. Does that mean Blizzard needs to replicate some of the screenshots produced by players who install thirty mods and completely overhaul their UI? Probably not. Our raid UI is a good example of what we are going for. It provides enough information for many players (and we have plans to add more to it overtime). It’s not going to incorporate the favorite feature of every raider out there, and for them, a very customizable third-party addon is a perfectly reasonable solution.

That’s fabulous – although unlike the devs, I don’t know anyone who raids without add-ons. In fact, I know more guilds who require them than that don’t, and the only people I know who raid without add-ons are the kind who are too stubborn to install them, simply don’t know how, or are perfectly okay skating along and letting other guild members carry them through raids and dungeons instead of contributing, but I’m sure there are some people out there who are more naturalist and prefer to simply play the game the way it was designed.

Q: Would you please implement a feature that allows players to change the order of their characters on the Character select screen? – 흑풍육손 (Korea), Fanahlia (North America/ANZ), Perle (Latin America)

A: Sure. Does 4.2 work for you? :)

And boom goes the dynamite!

That was the bulk of it – there are a couple of questions that I seriously can’t believe people asked, much less wanted: like the topic of being able to buy things directly from chat (an attempt to circumvent the limitations of mail/auction house location/player location in order to quickly buy things) and the whole “I’m tired of paging through mail to get items one at a time,” point.

I can identify a little more with the latter though, I understand how frustrating it can be, especially if you’re sending yourself items, to have to load up your bags and then mail items to yourself one at a time. At the same time though, there are add-ons (like Postal, for example) that allow you to streamline the process – and the people who know about those add-ons and use them are likely the ones who will get the most benefit: eg, the people who use the AH the most, or mail themselves lots of things frequently. Everyone else probably doesn’t care so much.

So what do you think? What would you ask the devs if you had an opportunity to ask them about user interface and gameplay questions?

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 2

Blizzard held another Q&A session with its developers recently, taking forum questions from interested parties, just like last time. Same as last time, you can read the whole set of questions and answers on the official forums, but we’ll take a look at some of the new and interesting ones:

Q: Why can’t we have a pure, straight up, unadulterated Death Match style Battleground? – ???? ???? (Taiwan), Gulantor (North America/ANZ)

A: We think Battlegrounds work better when there is a goal that the team can work towards. Huge melees with lots of players tend to be chaotic by nature so there is less room for skill to influence the outcome. It feels more random, and the more random the system is, the more arbitrary the rewards will feel. It might be something we try someday.

For example, emergency buttons are balanced around the assumption that only a few players are ganged up against you. Even in the 5v5 Arena bracket, it’s very difficult to survive being focused by so many players at once, so you feel like you don’t have many options. There is a reason that most of our Arena attention is on 3v3 – it just feels the best.

You know, I had been wondering about this one too back when I was spending more time in battlegrounds – some people would love the “in and out” nature of having a battleground they could hop into and hop out of just to grab some honor in a short period, and in a game that’s perpetually ongoing that they could play for as much free time as they have without worrying their departure will negatively impact a team.

At the same time, the sheer number of empty multiplayer game servers in the world kind of tell the tale that when there’s no one interested in playing that all-out deathmatch style game, the few people who do want to play would have a horrible time doing it – or worse, they’ll just give up because it’s not the epic experience they’d actually want. After all – I’m sure the people asking the question are thinking of massive 25 v. 25 battle arenas with fast re-spawning, not a 3 v. 3 match.

Q: CC used to be the big thing for arena, but now it’s all about damage. Is it the direction you are taking at the moment? – Thatis (Taiwan)

A: If crowd control really was as weak in Arenas as you’re claiming, then Holy paladins would be the healer of choice and Resto druids wouldn’t have much of a role. But the Entangling Roots and Cyclone of the druid make a huge difference in Arena, and we see a lot of healing druids.

Ultimately, we think there has to be a place for both crowd control and damage. It can be just as frustrating to be chained from a fear to a poly to a stun without having an answer as it can be to die to two dudes killing you in a few GCDs without an answer. We don’t want Arena in particular to be all about which comp has the best layering of crowd controls that don’t share diminishing returns, because that greatly lowers the number of viable comps out there (and why rogue-mage-priest dominated in earlier seasons). We have taken steps this season already to nerf both out of control damage and excessive crowd control for some classes.

The best thing you can do is just keep providing feedback when you think something is broken. Many other players will disagree with you, and at times so will we. The signal to noise ratio for PvP balance is frankly always going to be bad, and the design calls are extremely subjective. We are constantly amazed that some players playing very powerful specs perceive themselves as weak or interpret very gentle nerfs as soul-crushing. That doesn’t mean that we’re never going to listen, but it does mean the burden of convincing us something is broken is going to be high, probably higher than it is for PvE.

Ouch – holy blowoff, batman! Although I can’t say I disagree here. I think Blizzard is acquising the point that they’re paying more attention to damage, but they’re trying to strike the balance between damage and crowd control. I disagree that seeing a lot of resto druids somehow means that holy paladins aren’t the healers of choice in battlegrounds (that’s like saying “hey, the fact that a exists means there must be less of b,”) but I see their point. Balance is what’s important, and they’re always open to your feedback.

I hope the person asking the question got that same message, because I could see how the tone at the beginning is kind of a diss. A loving one, but a diss nonetheless!

Q: Can I hear your thoughts of the survival abilities of the Warlock on PvP? – Mccoll (Korea)

A: Overall, we think they’re fine. Warlocks in PvP often compare themselves to Shadow priest, and to be fair, Shadow priests have some very potent emergency buttons, particularly Dispersion. Warlocks have good self-healing (which also to be fair, was nerfed recently), abilities like Demonic Circle and fears that are good for both offense and defense. Once Shadow priests lose their defensive dispel capabilities, we think they will be less versatile and their entire package will be more comparable to warlocks.

I love this question only because it was asked. I remember the days when warlocks were unstoppable damage and destruction machines in arenas. If you had a lock on your team, you were pretty much guaranteed to win, and if you had one on your team and another on the other team, it came down to who had the most resilience. Thankfully, no more.

So – this set of Q&A questions were pretty heavy on the PVP side of things. If you’re a heavy PVP’er, what do you think of Blizzard’s responses and the questions they selected to respond to? What would you have asked if you had the opportunity? Leave us a comment and let us know.

The Celestial Steed is So 2010: Make Way for The Winged Lion!

Are you all tired of riding your sparkle ponies around? Good, because the Winged Lion is on its way to the Blizzard Store!

See the guy above? MMO-Champion uncovered it in a recent datamine, and it bears all the glorious, sparkly, sunshine-y indications that he’ll be a for-purchase mount from the Blizzard Store, the same way the Celestial Steed was.

If the winged lion (which some people have taken to calling the Sunshine Lion) is the same price as the Celestial Steed, players will be out $25 USD to pick one up, and Blizzard will rake in the cash, as usual. A lot of people who didn’t like the Celestial Steed model have been commenting around the Web on how they’re really eager to get their hands on this one, and vice versa – the only thing for sure is that when it’s available, it’ll almost certainly be a hit.

What do you think? Would you spend money on a virtual mount? Did you buy a celestial steed, and what do you think of the sunshine lion? Sound off in the comments.

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A

Over at the World of Warcraft LiveJournal Community, eminent news source tchernobyl was kind enough to post the results of the latest Blizzard developer Q&A session, hosted over at the new official forums.

The whole post at LJ is here, but I’ve cut a few snippets I felt were particularly interesting:

Q: Are there any plans to update Outland and TBC zones to facilitate better level flow? – Atreydes (Latin America)

A: We think the flow of the zones works out well. It is true that you can finish the continents before hitting every zone because of the accelerated quest experience (further enhanced by mechanics such as heirlooms) but most players going back through the content on new characters seem perfectly happy to get through it faster than they did with their original character. What we don’t like is the strange way you go back in time when you go to Outland and Northrend and then back to the future (heh) when you go to the level 80-85 zones. That is definitely something we want to fix.

A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Russian players:

Q: Will the Outland and Northrend be “renewed”? Will there be new quests? – Мандрэйк (Europe [Russian])

A: Because we did those areas more recently than Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, we don’t feel the same urgency to go update them. They just don’t have the level design and quest flow problems to the same extent as the original content. We recognize though that some players are getting awfully tired of Hellfire Peninsula, and we’d like to come up with a good solution there.

This one is of particular interest to me. While I agree that the biggest issue with Outland and Northrend is that the player feels like they’re going back in time when they’ve leveled and then move into those zones to continue leveling but somehow the events of the Cataclysm haven’t happened there yet, I’m just as concerned with level tuning and story that players are missing when they push through all of those zones just for the sake of racking up dings.

I think the content of TBC and WoTLK deserve more than just a slight tweak to get the characters to give a nod to the fact that old world Azeroth isn’t the same as it used to be: I’m not saying they need to be directly affected by the Cataclysm, and I’m not saying that quests need to be reworked or zones completely changed, but I do think that when you go into outlands you should see the fruits of the past several years battle against the Burning Legion, and when you go into Northrend now you should see at least a little progress from the results at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, even if it’s only to note that the war is still open on that front and there’s still work to be done.

Q: What is your favorite escape/distraction when you arent working on WoW? – Danksz (North America/ANZ)

A: We polled the entire World of Warcraft development team and included the most interesting, unusual, and potentially terrifying responses. They included: roasting my own coffee; hiking all over SoCal; gardening with yuccas and bamboo; building my own 3D printer; attempting to turn my living room into a live action scene from Tron using blacklights, stencils and a helluva lot of paint; autocross racing my sweet ride; board games (I have over 450 of them); being spinal tapped to Tumblr, Reddit and 4chan; mastering cooking (duck confit, breads, pastas, more breads); building Star Wars Lego sets; trying to control my computer using brainwaves and an EEG reader; plein air/outdoor watercolor painting; geocaching; hockey; painting miniatures; swing dancing; crafting old-time cocktails; running 5 / 10 Ks / mud runs; motorcycling; go; blending smoothies; skydiving; work on my Jaina/Varian fanfic; baking bread; playing drums; reading sci-fi; comics; playing WoW.

Sounds like a fun place to work! Or at the very least fun people to work with.

Q: Will the devs consider giving us reason to interact in the new world of cataclysm? We sit in cities waiting on queues. Theres little reason to leave the city gates outside of farming and archeology. The *main* cities feel alive, the world however feels quite dead. – Odiem (North America/ANZ)

A: While you’re leveling up your character and gathering professions, you’re more than likely interacting with the world plenty. World of Warcraft’s endgame has centered on dungeons, raids, Battlegrounds and Arenas for some time, so it’s natural that you spend more time in cities organizing and preparing for those group-based events. We do think there is more that we can do to promote compelling solo gameplay for max level characters, though. The 4.2 patch has a pretty epic questing experience involving the Firelands and we’re really excited to see how players respond to it.

A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Korean players.

Q: PvP realms are getting indistinctive from the PvE realm as players are not engaging into PvP contents, since they are not finding it attractive. The only difference from the PvE realm is that it’s possible to attack opponent around zones in Conflict. Is there any plan to strengthen the difference between PvP and PvE realms? – Soulcube (Korea)

A: We don’t think it’s that world PvP is unattractive, we just think it’s just the cumulative effect of a lot of changes we made to the game to meet other goals. For example, flying mounts are really cool and convenient, but they mean you are much less likely to stumble upon someone from the opposite faction while travelling. We considered teleportation a mandatory feature for Dungeon Finder to succeed, but then you are less likely to bump into an enemy outside of a dungeon. To get world PvP back in some form, we’d have to develop something like the Isle of Quel’danas: a non-flight zone that is not a sanctuary where players congregate to finish quests or earn rewards. We’ll think about ways to do something like that again in the future.

I can’t say I’m satisfied with the devs’ answer on this one. While I agree that there’s plenty of world interaction when you’re out and about and questing and gathering and boosting your professions, I think that the concern of PVP players is probably more serious for them than the devs are really picking up.

Back in the vanilla days, when mounts were both expensive and far off, and when beginner mounts were slow enough that you could still be ambushed on one successfully, it was pretty hazardous playing on a PVP server during those early levels. I remember trying to just quest as a poor level 25 Tauren Druid and getting repeatedly ganked in Stonetalon by level 60 Night Elves coming through the pass.

Admittedly, I moved on to play on PvE servers after that, but I understand how global combat is a core component of playing on a PVP server, and between flying in old world and earlier/faster mounts, it’s become all but a moot point.

Q: I think a lot of people would like to see some more options for inventory storage are there plans for any of the following? Bank slots/Equipment manager storage/Upgrade backpack/storage for costume, cosmetic, toys/tabard storage. – Shinysparkle (North America/ANZ)

A: We do have some storage solutions in the works. We’d like to convert tabards in particular to something like the current UI to manage titles. We don’t want to just keep giving players larger and larger bags in which to lose items. We’re focusing more on better ways to organize items.

Finally! A fix is coming for my tabard addiction!

Q: During the expansions released since vanilla, the specialities of the different classes were watered down more and more. By now, many classes can do almost everything and almost none is still special. Are there any steps planned to give the classes more “charisma”, so that they are more distinguished from each other and regain their special flair? – Blades (Europe [German])

A: Sometimes when players say “special flair” what they really mean is “something so awesome that everyone will have to take me.” We really don’t want to go back to that model, which just isn’t tenable in a game with 10-player raids and 30 different talent trees. We have no problem spreading around buffs and utility that we consider more-or-less mandatory, such as the battle rezes and raid buffs. At the same time, we think there are enough unique abilities out there to make the various talent trees shine. Shaman have a great interrupt with Wind Shear. Warlocks can get out of danger with Demonic Portal. Discipline priests can mitigate a lot of damage with Power Word: Barrier, but Unholy death knights have their own version in Anti-Magic Zone. We struggle a lot with how much homogenization is good for the game, largely so that you can play with your friends, and how much is bad for the game, because then your character feels less special. It’s something we’ll continue to work on in an attempt to strike that perfect balance.

I really REALLY like the answer to this question. A lot of players who have been around for a long time miss the days when people formed their raid or dungeon groups because specific classes had “ubertalents” that were so good in the situations the raid would put you in that you absolutely wanted to have them – and it made the people who played that class feel uber as well.

In reality, that’s indicative of a lack of balance, and I’m glad that Blizzard is trying to strike a line between giving people talents that feel epic and important without being essential to specific – or every – encounters.

So what do you think? Blizzard developers took this one in stride, I think – and there were some great questions. I don’t think this will be the last dev Q&A that the developers do, so stay tuned for more in the future. What would you ask Blizzard developers if you had the chance? Sound off in the comments.

Blizzard’s 20 Year Anniversary Retrospective

Can you believe Blizzard, the company that’s brought us World of Warcraft and a litany of other games from Starcraft to Diablo and everything in between is now 20 years old?

The company’s been turning out quality titles for longer than a number of its customers have been alive, and over at the Battle.net WoW Blog we get to take a peek into the history of Blizzard, its franchises, and its workings over the years, from a small gaming company to a massive gaming powerhouse with not just one, but three unstoppable titles under its belt.

Head over to the Blizzard 20th Anniversary Site to see the retrospective video!

update: We just found the retrospective video on YouTube; check it out below!

Video :: Blizzard Sucks

You’ve likely heard all of the complaining about the state of Cataclysm raiding and dungeons. You’ve also likely heard enough from either side of the debate that you’ve come to your own conclusions. Personally, I think that a number of people are asking a little too much of Blizzard when it comes to nerfing the game – and that when some of the more hardcore players are mad that the game is too easy and some of the most casual players are mad that the game is entirely too hard, then you’ve got the perfect balance for most players who don’t complain either way.

To that point, this video is another Cataclysm Heroics are Hard-style skewering of the mentality that Blizzard should ratchet the difficulty of the game down to the point where it’s pretty easy, especially for players who want to put in even less effort than those who willingly call themselves casual. Click play, and enjoy.

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