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Artcraft continues with a look at development tools

The excellent Artcraft series continues with a look at the tools used to develop zones, as well as how the Level Design team works with Environment Artists to craft a zone's many areas and make them all seem like natural parts of an area.

Artcraft - Level Design Part 3
The environment artists make the models and textures, and the level designer sculpts and paints the terrain, places the trees, rocks, and bushes-all the while considering gameplay and both the art and design direction. A typical day for our level designers will include decisions about the overall look and feel of a zone, as well as paying finite attention to detail, like how one plant looks when placed next to another plant in the scene.


So far this has been one of my favorite Artcrafts - while it was fun to get to see the various new models for playable races, getting to see the tools that craft the World of Warcraft we experience as players is nothing short of amazing and I'm very much looking forward to part four. Just getting to read about how they vary the shade of green to bring out different elements of the zone has me super excited. Nagrand is beautiful and diverse, and we're getting to see how elements of the game we've already known are referenced and incorporated in its creation.

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

Blizzard wants you to update your payment information


Blizzard made a good point today -- you should probably check and make sure all your payment information is updated. If it's not and something goes wrong, now is the time to deal with it, rather than when the assist queues are busy with all the stuff that happens during an expansion release.

This probably isn't some evil conspiracy. But for those of you that want to don your tin foil hat and think that Blizzard wants to collect new payment info so that they can do nefarious things with the money, bravo. I salute your conspiracy-ness.

To check your payment info, Blizzard has outlined the following steps:
Blizzard Entertainment
1. Log in to your Battle.net account at https://battle.net/

2. From the Settings dropdown, select Contact & Shipping Addresses.

3. Make sure you're seeing your current Contact Address and phone number, and then click Shipping Address to make sure that's up-to-date as well.

4. Return to the Settings dropdown and select My Payment Options.

5. Select Edit next to each payment method, and make sure you're seeing your current information.

Filed under: Blizzard

Know Your Lore: Mannoroth

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

We talk about the great evils of the Warcraft universe - your Kil'jaeden's and Archimonde's, your Sargeras and your Old Gods - and of course there's the mortal monsters like Gul'dan, quite possibly the single most evil mortal being ever to live, or Kel'Thuzad who enslaved himself to evil so profound that his transformation into a lich was probably a palliative influence on his malevolence. But what of evil as a corrupting vector? What of an evil so profound that it is part of your blood, that can seep into the souls of an entire race? Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you - what of Mannoroth, king of the Pit Lords, master of the Annihilan?

We know little of the Annihilan. They are the pit lords, a massive and powerful species of demons recruited to serve the Legion by none other than Kil'jaeden himself. They were already a powerful part of the Legion when the War of the Ancients unfolded - Mannoroth himself was one of the Legion's elite who came through the portal to help make clear the way for Sargeras to stride forth into Azeroth, doing battle with the forces of the Kaldorei who were attempting to preserve their lives. But as to where the pit lords come from, it is as yet a mystery unsolved. What world did they originate on? What happened to it? We do not know.

What we do know is this - few races in all the cosmos can boast so powerful and corrupting an evil nature as the Annihilan. And Mannoroth was for eons first among the pit lords - the acknowledged master of his kind, the most powerful of them all. Not Brutallus, not Magtheridon, not Azgalor, but Mannoroth ruled the Annihilan on behalf of the Legion.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Artcraft continues with Nagrand and level design

One of my favorite zones to just look at in The Burning Crusade was Nagrand, it was a beautiful zone with just enough strangeness to feel alien and different. Now in the latest installment of Artcraft by senior level designer Michael McInerney, we're getting a look at how Blizzard's level designers created a Nagrand that felt like the natural predecessor to the zone we already know.

Artcraft - Level Design Part 2
Nagrand also had some equity we wanted to explore; players have experienced a shattered version of the zone in Outland, and this was a unique opportunity to provide a contrasting look. Giving places a sense of history is high on the list of zone design philosophies. Some of the more obvious ways to tell a zone's history are with ruins, when they make sense. The Highmaul ogres were once a great power in Nagrand. Now they are on the edge of oblivion. All that's left of their once great civilization is scattered remnants, as evidenced by their crumbling towers and roads you find throughout the zone. It's not a coincidence that the area they occupy in the zone doesn't exist in Outland.


How'd they do? Well, having been there on the beta, I have to say the new Nagrand is magnificent and definitely feels like it could have been the place we know, before the destruction of Draenor. Mister McInernery's point about the various races in the zone telling a story by how they interact with the environment is also spot on - you can tell a lot about the various people you encounter in Nagrand by how they live.

Head on over to the official site for more, it's definitely worth a read.

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

Patch 6.0.3 hotfixes for October 28


The first round of hotfixes for patch 6.0.3 are in. The list of fixes is a bit shorter than what we've been used to over the past couple of weeks, with no class or stat squish fixes this time around.

Quests
  • Roll Club: Serpent's Spine should no longer cause players to float and allow them to complete the quest.
  • Zarhym Altogether: Spirit Chests looted during the weekly quest no longer contains gold.
World Environment
  • World Defense chat channel should be joinable once again.
  • Alliance characters taking a flight path to Shattered Beachhead should now arrive safely at their destination (rather than falling through the world).
Battlegrounds and Arenas
  • Bonus Honor for winning a Battleground is now only awarded when queuing for a Random Battleground (it was incorrectly awarding the bonus Honor for any Battleground win).
Be sure to check out the patch 6.0.3 notes from yesterday if you missed them.

Filed under: News items

The Queue: Bother

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

The worst part about the Warlords of Draenor pre-event for the Alliance? The second Horde hub is directly between the second Alliance hub and the ogre camp. Try to take a direct path to the ogre camp? You're dead. Dead.

JeffLaBowski asked:

Do you think we will get a gametime credit for extended maintenance? I haven't checked to see if we got any credits lately.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Around Azeroth: Cat versus water

"I decided to have a little fun when my orc death knight was abruptly transformed into a cute little black cat upon opening a Hallow's End pumpkin at Sri-La Village in Jade Forest with his Path of Frost still active, and gleefully took off across the sea," writes submitter Klawe of Maximum Pwnage on Earthen Ring (US-H). "However, he stopped short of actually making it to Windward Isle because I hear there's some even bigger cats prowling around there."

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

Breakfast Topic: How do you feel about personal loot?

One of the things I disliked the most about UBRS when we got it was the personal loot system they introduced - it stripped away the way it worked before in LFR, and forced you to actually loot the boss, but you still had a chance for nothing to drop for you. I actually liked the way it was handled in LFR before, where if I got a drop I knew it immediately and could decide to use my Warforged Seal or not right there, I didn't have to run up and loot first to see if I'd gotten the drop I wanted.

But since I'm aware that I often am alone in these opinions, it occurs to me that you might like the personal loot system we have now. Maybe you think we should have to loot the bosses, that it returns a certain nuts and bolts practicality to the looting process. I personally feel like there's something almost atavistic in the way loot worked before, that it would appear and we could choose to roll on it or not - maybe it's just that I've been playing WoW for a decade and my brain has accepted the dopamine rush of seeing a loot window, I'm not sure.

What's your take on it? Do you love personal loot or loathe it?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Blizzard disables 'anti-exploit' experience cap mechanic

For a while now people have been complaining about a new system that caused experience gained by repeatedly killing the same mobs as they respawned to be reduced, saying it was too punitive. Now Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted explaining that the mechanic, intended to combat exploits common to power leveling, has been disabled.

Watcher
This isn't intended to be an "anti-grind" mechanic. It's intended to be an "anti-exploit" mechanic that programmatically addresses power-leveling abuses, with the aim of letting us reward legitimate players more generously. In the past, we've often had little choice but to drastically reduce the experience awarded by certain respawning bosses or enemies that are locked in combat with other NPCs, because otherwise they'd be abused. That always felt bad to the regular player who was just passing through in the course of questing or exploration and got unexpectedly little or no experience for killing something. The goal was to come up with an approach that would be invisible to most players, but discourage sitting there and repeatedly farming the same mob for long stretches of time in order to gain experience. Alternatives like questing, dungeons, or PvP are all supposed to be more lucrative than that - WoW has never been a game in which mass-killing mobs for experience was the most efficient route.

That said, clearly this implementation is far too strict, and is triggering from a wide variety of normal activity. We're going to disable the functionality entirely and look into a much more narrowly targeted approach if and when we reintroduce it. Apologies for the inconvenience and the lack of response on the issue - we were working on understanding exactly where the algorithm was going awry, and now that we've done so, we'll be taking action in the near future.


So if you happen to enjoy grinding and don't mind it being somewhat less rewarding, while not wanting it to be almost completely so, this change should please you. Still, there probably should be a mechanic for combating power leveling abuses involving tagging mobs and then having a whole party or raid backing you up to kill what you tag, and I hope that when they do come up with an idea for it, it's a little less broadly implemented than this was.

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

Mythic difficulty lockouts explained

For some folks, mythic raiding is causing a bit of a problem. Not that it is hard in any way, but rather that they don't understand the specifics of its lockout system as compared to LFR or Normal/Heroic raiding. This is understandable - with all the changes to raiding, it can be hard to keep track of how everything has changed. Rygarius has taken the time to explain the system, and to anybody who raided before Mists of Pandaria it should look pretty familiar.
Rygarius - Question about Mythic
I've seen some confusion over Mythic raiding lately and wanted to clarify.

Mythic difficulty's lockout works differently than the other raiding difficulties (Raid Finder, Normal, Heroic).

In Mythic difficulty, you are bound to the raid ID. This means if you join a Mythic raid, defeat the first boss (thereby binding you to that Mythic raid ID) and leave; you'll return to the same raid. If the raid continues on to defeat bosses 2, and 3 while you were gone, you will return to the raid with those bosses already defeated.

For that reason, it is important to stick together with the same group of people as much as possible for Mythic difficulty.

When joining a Mythic raid that's already in-progress, read the notification box that pops up carefully. It'll let you know how many bosses have already been defeated and ask for confirmation to be saved to that raid. If something's not adding up, you can refuse to be saved and be teleported out without being saved.


Yes, it's the old raid ID system. It's understandable that it might confuse folks used to the more flexible loot-locked system we have in Normal/Heroic - with those raids, if you leave after three bosses into a raid, you can come back on a fresh clear and kill stuff until you get to a boss you haven't looted yet and start getting loot again. With Mythic, you and everyone in the raid who kills the first boss are bound by the raid ID - the 20 players who killed that boss are basically in the exact same instance of said raid, and if two people step out on boss 6 and are replaced, and the raid continues on to kill all the bosses, that's their raid ID - if they formed a raid and zoned in after the clear, they would arrive in a cleared out instance.

It's clearly all part of the design to keep Mythic as something more akin to the old days of raiding, where server communities formed and fought for realm firsts. I admit, it's not a raid ID system that appeals to me anymore, but it's not complicated - it's the raid ID system that we've always had.

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