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Muffinus serves up Garrison details

Senior Game Designer Jeremy Feasel (he has an NPC named after him, the ultimate honor) has been answering questions on twitter about garrisons. Quite a few, in fact. Under his twitter handle of @Muffinus he dished out some pretty interesting details on what the current design for the feature is.
  • Garrisons are going to give you perks outside of them (we already knew about the faster mount speed perk, but others are being worked on).
  • Some perks, like a free resurrection, will not carry over into raids so as to keep them from becoming mandatory perks everyone has to get for their garrison. They want to keep customization as a draw and let players pick the perks they want.
  • You aren't hard gated by the initial quest that establishes the garrison - you can pursue the benefits and perks of the feature even if you decide to bypass it when leveling.
  • You will not have to stop doing something to run back and defend your garrison if/when it comes under attack. It's not a time-limited mechanic.
I'm pretty excited about garrisons, as they combine elements of player housing, RTS elements from the old Warcraft games, and new kinds of minigames. Should be interesting to get to see them in action.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Do you play betas?

Though there's always a lot of excitement when a new Blizzard game goes into alpha or beta testing stages -- both Heroes of the Storm and Warlords of Draenor are currently in an early alpha stage -- actually playing games at this point is sometimes less than fun. Alpha and beta games are meant for testing, which means they're full of bugs and prone to changes. But the worst of it, for me, is the fact that none of my character progress is kept -- anything I do in an alpha or beta version I'll have to do again later when the final game goes live.

It's completely understandable that Blizzard -- and other game developers -- need to wipe progress made while the game was still being tested, but for me it kills a lot of the fun because on launch day the starting content is already becoming a repetitive grind. The end result is that while I enjoy reading early news about betas, I don't tend to play them for fun. But what about you, readers? Are you already looking forward jumping into the Heroes or Warlords betas -- or would you rather wait for the finished product?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Heroes of the Storm technical alpha patch notes

Heroes of the Storm's technical alpha has been down for extended maintenance today for its first significant patch since the alpha began. The patch notes have been released and include some much-needed balance changes. There have also been changes made to the questing system. This note stands out above the others:

Quests can now only be completed in Versus mode.

As someone who has spent a great deal of time playing the cooperative game mode, I appreciated that Heroes of the Storm treated that game mode as a valid choice. The MOBA genre is all about competitive PVP, so it's understandable that Heroes of the Storm would like to promote that aspect of the game, but the support for cooperative (PVE) play was a breath of fresh air. Personally, I wouldn't consider reducing the viability of playing Heroes of the Storm as a cooperative game a good thing.

You can find the full patch notes below.

Read more →

Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

WoW Moviewatch: The Warcosmos with Veal TheGrass Byson

Movie time! Today, we have The Warcosmos with Veal TheGrass Byson, by Wowcrendor. Clearly based off of the recent relaunch of Cosmos, Crendor takes this opportunity to look at aspects of the World of Warcraft that we've all gotten used to over the years but which are somewhat baffling if you ever stop and think about them. I particulary liked the bit about fire, myself, because I've been wondering that myself for quite some time.
Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

Warlords of Draenor Screenshot of the Day gallery

Yes, it was a Cataclysm feature that continued in Mists of Pandaria's development process, and now it's back again for the ramp up to Warlords of Draenor -- the official Screenshot of the Day. We're actually up to five of them so far but the above scene from the steps of the Temple of Karabor is my favorite. Still, this picture from Frostfire Ridge (I presume) definitely interests me as well. Looking forward to combing over the pictures obsessively for the next few months.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Old models to remain available at low graphics

Over on the EU forums is an ongoing discussion of a type that usually comes about every expansion cycle: the question of whether or not your computer will need upgrades in order to run the new content. The short answer from CM Taepsilum is that, if you're happy with your computer's current performance in WoW, you're probably fine for Warlords of Draenor. So there's the answer to that.

However, fleetingly mentioned at the beginning of the post is the following interesting tidbit:
Taepsilum
Quote: Maideen

Since we are being blessed with new character models (Which can be disabled? Yes, no?)
Yes, if you set your graphics quality to Low.

This isn't something that's been explicitly clarified before now. There's been some talk that there would be a way to switch between the old and new models but we hadn't heard exactly how that would be done. It seems we now know: just set your graphics to "low" and it will enable the old player character models. If you've been nervous that your beloved main of many years might be changing irreversibly, hopefully this allows you to breathe a little easier. There'll be a way back!

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Unlearning game

World of Warcraft constantly changes. It changes in patches in small ways (buffs change, spell power changes making a formerly useless ability stronger, or a strong ability weaker) and it changes between expansions in much larger ways. If I still played a fury warrior today the way I would have played one back in Wrath I'd be using Whirlwind as part of my rotation.

Between player action (players roll alts, switch mains and change roles) and the game's inexorable forward progress, there are always new things to learn, which require us to unlearn what we did before. Factor in returning players who take weeks, months, even years off - I've seen a lot of Hey, I left the game in X expansion, what's different now emails in my time at WoW Insider - and you have a continuous problem for World of Warcraft in people who have, in essence, a different game in mind when they play. This issue affects gameplay in numerous ways, both for those players (and eventually, we're all those players) and for the game itself.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

The WoW Insider Show Episode 340

The WoW Insider Show Episode 247 In which we say hello to Anne
Every week, join us as we present you with The WoW Insider Show podcast -- an hour's worth of WoW community discussion covering everything from the week's top stories here on WoW Insider to emails from our readers and what's been going on with our particular characters in Azeroth.

Want to have your question answered on the air? Email theshow@wowinsider.com! And don't forget to join us for the live show again next Monday at 8:00 p.m. PDT!

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Listen here on the page:


Filed under: Podcasts, WoW Insider Show

What's wrong with Blizzard's development process? Nothing, nothing is wrong.


In yesterday's Queue Jeff asked the following question:

What is it about the software development process that causes Blizzard to slingshot from solving a problem to so overdoing it that it becomes a problem in and of itself. Examples:
  • Dungeons in Wrath were too easy - Cata dungeons are now stupid hard
  • Questing is too scattered in Vanilla - All questing will be done in a streamlined fashion
  • Not enough dailies in Cata - Locked reputation grinds via dailies to open up further content in Mists
The next example coming - Some people loved the farm, let's build an entire expansion around a farm but make it bigger and we'll call it Garrisons and we will add so many features that there is no way the players can't love this.

I'm calling it now, Garrisons will turn into one of the biggest mistakes of WoD.


I see this a lot -- people questioning the processes that Blizzard uses to arrive at the end product of a WoW expansion. I take no issue with this questioning, I think it's the vital step that helps the community better understand the microcosm of the universe we play in. Blizzard has a growing obligation to the massive community to keep them informed of how their universe is changing, and a deeper understanding of how it gets made is central to that.

However... I don't feel that it's a problem with the software development process -- that's a very defined process of creating software to specifications, testing, refining it in (ideally) agile methodology. Blizzard is just as good, if not better, than others in that area.

Game design, although, is an entirely different animal.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Around Azeroth: Pork and beans

"This mob says it's 'Embodied Despair,'" writes submitter Gimmlette. "Spectacular Death on Llane (US-A) says that's not the embodiment of despair. We heard that, due to a virus affecting pigs, bacon prices were expected to soar another 15 to 20 percent. The average cost of a pound of bacon in the US is over $5.00. Now that's despair. The guild mascot, Mr. Wiggles, probably doesn't have anything to worry about. Given all the places we've taken him, his bacon might be, well, certainly not applewood-smoked. And besides, who could do anything to such a sweet face? Even if it's kind of creepy that he just stands there watching."

Want to see your own screenshot here? Send it to aroundazeroth@wowinsider.com. We strongly prefer full-sized pictures with no UI or names showing. Include "Azeroth" in the subject line to ensure your submission dodges email spam filters; if you'd like to be credited, also include your name, guild and realm.

Filed under: Around Azeroth

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