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Blizzard on raid design evolution

Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has written a very extensive blog on the evolution of raid design, the first installment of which went live this morning. In this first part, Watcher covers the history of raiding, from the launch of the game in 2004 all the way through to the end of Icecrown Citadel in 2010.

For many, these were the glory days of raiding and World of Warcraft alike, well, if you believe the forums at least. Watcher talks about the developers' aims to make raiding more accessible, and to improve the gameplay of groups by reducing them in size -- one healer in a group of fifteen healers can't have as big an impact as one healer in a group of five or two. He also discusses the introduction of varying difficulties in raiding, and looks back over all the patches of some of the game's greatest raids.

Hit the break for the full post.

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Filed under: Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

WowCraft episode 3: Profession Obsession

Carbot Animations, the creator of the StarCrafts series of cartoons, as well as the Heroes of the Storm trailers, has released the latest episode of his World of Warcraft series, WowCraft. After the first episode dealing with character creation, and the second one handling the joke about toothless dogs that's almost as old as the game itself, this one is diving into professions, and the perils of gathering herbs around higher level characters.

While the episode doesn't detail the corpse camping and judicious use of the /sit command that would likely have taken place in reality, the juxtaposition of the angry orc and warlock and their delightful baskets of pretty flowers is entertaining, and the Imp really steals the show for me! I liked the episode, and am hoping the series will develop into something really fun, just like Starcrafts.

Filed under: Humor

Further MMR adjustments for Rated Battlegrounds

You may recall that, a little while back, WoW Insider posted about the changes being made to MMR tolerance in order to repair the ladders after a bug. It seems, unfortunately, that these changes did not go far enough to rectify the issues for players of Rated Battlegrounds. It makes sense that, for this far less played discipline, MMR issues have not self-corrected.

As a result of this, matches played are still resulting in 0 point rating gains with wins, which is disheartening at best. So Blizzard has come up with a simple solution that might have been a faster and more popular fix to the initial issue -- increase everyone's rating to get it closer to their current MMR. If these terms are confusing, I made a fair attempt at explaining them in the last post.

This, coupled with the initial increased tolerance in MMR to rating parity, should result in everyone gaining points for wins. Hit the break for Lore's full post.

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Filed under: PvP

New WoW Source: PvP and Class Changes

WoW Source has made a return, with Senior PvP Designer Brian Holinka Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas, and Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut. They're talking PvP and Class Design.
  • Diminishing Returns categories have been cut from thirteen to five.
  • Fear's PvP duration has been reduced from eight seconds to five.
  • CC needs reduction, but without it the game would be boring.
  • In WoD every PvP item will have two item levels, e.g. 550 for PvE and 590 for PvP. This will be effective in the world too.
  • We saw an early map and description of Ashran -- looks like a League of Legends style ARAM-esque back-and-forth with other activities around the main central run.
  • There was some more information on Skirmishes, they may drop Conquest gear, and will drop bags containing Honor, Honor gear, or gold.
  • Tanking will not go back to being about Threat
  • Button Bloat has focused on redundant or duplicative abilities
  • Sometimes cutting or simplifying buttons has made class flavor/fantasy better.
  • They do want to give players new things where appropriate, but they need to free up some space to do so.
  • The devs do their best to avoid different spell behaviors in PvP.
  • The devs endeavor to make classes fun to play without affecting their numbers.
  • The devs are listening to feedback and nothing is final.
You can view the video above or on Battle.net.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: What would you do in WoW if you were immortal for a day

Just for one day, in WoW, you can't die. You can't be killed by anything. Not by magic, not by bosses, not by falling, not by anything at all. So what do you do? Now, you have to remember that, on this day, everyone else is immortal too. PvP is right out, because there would just be really crazy long bouts of PvP where nobody ever died. I mean, that might actually be a ton of fun, who knows?

So what do you do? I strongly suspect a lot of you are going to say Siege of Orgrimmar progression, but that's a little dull. Challenge Modes would be made easier for sure, so maybe those too, especially given that your tanks could pull as much as they liked with no risk of death. I mean, so could your DPS, they wouldn't be in any danger either. But you'd still have to kill the mobs in time to get the medals, so it might be a little more entertaining than slowly whittling Heroic Garrosh down to 0 health.

Personally, I'd go exploring. No fatigue risk means unlimited flight range, and something about seeing the edge of the world appeals to me. And maybe I'd find the mythical GM Island... What would you do?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Warlords of Draenor: Wowhead digs up Garrison models and more

As a new alpha build hit servers last night, the datamining began again. Wowhead has already turned up a plethora of new models, weapons and more, and has now turned to one of the most hotly anticipated features of Warlords of Draenor, Garrisons.

They've put together a detailed list of 70 buildings, along with what exactly all of them do, and what size plot they go on. There's a lot of interesting information one can glean from this data, such as how follower gearing might work and what mission rewards might be, as well as how you get various vendors into your Garrison. Of course, this is datamining, so shouldn't be taken as 100% fact, but it's still really interesting stuff.

There's also information showing off small images of the Garrison buildings, and a map. It seems like these may be UI elements that allow you to design your Garrison and set up its layout, but of course, this is just inference from the data that's presented. There is, however, even more information on each building type, that ties in with the aforementioned list. We're slowly getting an idea of what the Garrison progression might look like.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords, models, and performance

We all know that Warlords of Draenor is bringing a much-desired and long-awaited feature in new character models, and understandably, there's concern about the impact on PC performance. WoW Insider reported on EU Community Manager Taepsilum's post on the forums, which has since been updated to indicate that there is no requirement to run the game on Low settings to use the old models. Instead, the toggle which has been seen in the Alpha is set to remain.

Taepsilum's assertions that you won't need a new computer are, perhaps, bold. Gamespot has picked up on them for an article, and asserts that you "probably" won't need a new machine. This is accurate, with the key word being "probably". If you're currently only able to run the game at 8FPS on Low settings, it's pretty likely that Warlords of Draenor will push your system over the edge.

Let's be realistic here. World of Warcraft has pretty amazing performance on older machines. A little while ago I asked on Twitter about players running it on low-spec systems, and it will let you run the game on some pretty archaic specs. Performance is about what you can do with the game, and is subjective. I'm happy with the graphical quality I get out of WoW on my machine, but to friends with higher level systems, it looks awful.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Flight path reassurance

Community Manager Bashiok has posted on the official forums in an attempt to calm players' fears about the enforced dependence on flight-paths that will come with Warlords of Draenor.

Bashiok
We're going to be making sure flight paths and other forms of travel are quick and efficient, with a goal of getting you to the places you want to go. Flight paths in the past have always been "the scenic route", lazily listing from side to side and around waterfalls to the intended oohs-and-aahs of the transportee. The flight paths in Draenor are not going to be loop-de-loop sightseeing tours, and we're going to be looking to our beta testers to let us know if any are less than tip-top.

The key to his point here is the directness. Especially in Mists, flight paths were gratuitously looping and indirect. The Horde shrine from the PvP vendor, for example, does a series of completely arbitrary tours around the shrine before actually landing. Hopefully this will not be the case in Warlords.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

PAX Beta keys temporarily allowed Warlords of Draenor access

Matthew Rossi posted on Friday about Blizzard's handing out Beta keys to people who played Warlords of Draenor at PAX East. Those keys were supposed to be for a later phase of the beta, but, as Bashiok elucidates on the official forums, a few of them actually worked during the PAX weekend itself.

This meant that a few of the players who took their key home and applied it to their account were able to access and play the beta well in advance of when the keys should have allowed them to. Blizzard has taken steps to revoke those players' access, but it would explain some of the streams seen on Twitch over the weekend. Where players have legitimately accessed Warlords with PAX keys, no action appears to have been taken. However, it seems that the Twitch warning is still in place for anyone streaming the alpha outside the select few who had accessed it legitimately with keys.

Those players no longer have access to the beta, and will need to re-redeem the same keys again at a later stage. No comment has been made by Blizzard so far about keys appearing on Ebay, but based on previous betas, they will be taken down as soon as they can be. Hit the break for Bashiok's full post.

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Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Heroes of the Storm: First account wipe this Tuesday

The first account wipe for the alpha of Heroes of the Storm is coming this Tuesday, April 15. Players in the Alpha have received an email, which you can see after the break. It's working a little differently to the usual wipes, so let's lay out what you're losing and what you're keeping.
  • All purchases made with real money will be unaffected. This does not mean future wipes will be the same.
  • Your account will be reset to level 1
  • All experience points, all quest progress and leveling progress will be reset
  • All in-game gold you've earned, and purchases you've made with that gold, will be reset.
You will also receive some rewards for your hard work, to compensate you for what you're losing:
  • Starting after the wipe on Tuesday, April 15, all players will gain access to every single hero until Thursday, April 17 at 3:00 p.m. PDT.
  • You'll get in-game gold as a reward based on your leveling progress:
    • Levels 1 – 19: 10,000 Gold
    • Levels 20 – 39: 30,000 Gold
    • Level 40: 30,000 Gold and an exclusive Heroes of the Storm lanyard
Hit the break for the full email I received.

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Filed under: Heroes of the Storm

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