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Filed under: Blizzard

Three new Heroes of the Storm

Well, gamescom is tomorrow, and we're already seeing news from it (like for instance this gigantic and frankly somewhat terrifying statue of Grommash Hellscream) but one piece of news that might have gone out a little early is this trailer. It reveals three new heroes for Heroes of the Storm -- the cunning Anub'arak, the loathsome Azmodan, and the inebriate Chen Stormstout.

Blizzard's MOBA entry is as dependent as any game on the quality of its roster of heroes, so it's not surprising that they'd beef it up, but I'll admit to being surprised on who they've chosen here. With Diablo in the game already, does Azmodan bring anything? We'll find out soon. Still, count me in among players who might have appreciated a Jaina or a Sylvanas.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3, Heroes of the Storm

US Connected Realm updates for August 8

The list of US realms scheduled for the Realm Connection service has been updated with a few new dates, the return of a few servers that have been on and off the list, and some updates on the future of the service. If you are on one of the servers listed below, please note that Realm Connections take place on Thursdays, beginning at 5am PDT and ending at approximately 1pm PDT. The list below is for US realms only -- EU realm schedules were updated earlier this week. For more information on Realm Connections, take a look at Blizzard's official blog post about the service and its features.

The following US realms are scheduled for connection on Thursday, August 14:
  • Burning Legion and Agamaggan, Archimonde, Jaedenar, and The Underbog

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

New Gul'dan and the Stranger comic available now

If you've been wondering, like I have, how the Iron Horde changed the destiny of the alternate Draenor we find ourselves journeying to, then Blizzard is finally doling out some of that information. Gul'dan and the Stranger, a comic downloadable directly and at now cost from Blizzard, has some of those answers for you. Micky Neilson, the author of the comic, assures us that each following issue will also be free to download, so you can read each issue and see what happened to make the Iron Horde a reality, and how the most evil warlock in creation reacted to these events. Man, sometimes it's hard not to spoil things.

The art's by Alex Horley and it looks pretty awesome. I recommend checking it out.

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

EU Connected Realms update for July 6

The list of EU realms that are slated for the Realm Connections service has been updated with new dates and planned connections. Please note that if you are a player on an EU realm, your realm connections are typically completed on Wednesdays, and while these connections are being made, the affected realms will not be available for play. For more information on Realm Connections and what exactly they entail, be sure to check out Blizzard's official blog post about the service and its features.

The following EU realms are scheduled for connection on Wednesday, August 13.

English Realms
  • Azuremyst and Stormrage
German Realms
  • Nathrezim and Anetheron/Festung der Stürme/Rajaxx/Gul'dan

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor: Spires of Arak zone preview

We have another zone preview, guys. This time Blizzard is previewing the Spires of Arak, a zone that has no analogue in Outland, an entirely new zone for players to explore. We'll get to see the arakkoa, both the cursed ones we're familiar with from Outland and their kinfolk with the ability to fly and a freaking laser beam.
In The Burning Crusade, the arakkoa of Skettis had pretty much fallen entirely into evil, but in Warlords of Draenor we see them at a crossroads. They're outcasts, hated and oppressed by the flying arakkoa who are torching their villages with an enormous beam weapon fixed atop Skyreach. To make matters worse, the Shattered Hand orcs have begun expanding into the region, killing anyone in their path. These arakkoa outcasts are caught between several enemies, and they really have nobody on their side before you show up.

Over the course of the zone, you're helping this shady resistance group of cursed arakkoa to make their final stand. You're learning about the curse they bear, the ancient gods of their land, and the very real threat posed by the Adherents of Rukhmar, the ruling caste of zealous arakkoa in Skyreach.

I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain allying with the cursed arakkoa is going to come back to bite me in the posterior, but that's a song we adventurers have sung before. Also, I don't know who decided to let the goblins start up an expedition to Draenor, but I'm calling it now - huge mistake, guys. Huge mistake.

Head on over to the official site now for the preview.

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

World of Warcraft's 10th anniversary preview

Molten Corgi
Ten years is a long time. Ten years ago, in 2004, I was 20 years old and entering my third semester of college--also entangled in endless piles of paperwork while I prepared to spend a year studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney for the calender year 2005. Ten years ago, in November 2004, World of Warcraft officially launched.

The mark that WoW has left on the gaming industry is indisputable--but we're not here for musing retrospectives. At least, not yet. We're here because there's going to be a whole bunch of fun in-game events to celebrate WoW's first decade of existence, and Blizzard has given us a lovely preview of what at least a few of them are.

Read more →

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor: Nagrand zone preview

The Warlords of Draenor zone previews continue with a look at Nagrand. Often listed as one of people's favorite BC zones, the Nagrand of Draenor is a different place with familiar landmarks. Just seeing the zone with harborages and familiar sights like Telaar and Oshu'gun interspersed with entirely new (to us, at least) places like Grommashar and Highmaul Palace caught my eye.

So how do we get to Nagrand, you ask? Well, Senior Game Designer Eric Maloof explains:
You'll be led to Nagrand by a quest you'll receive in your Garrison that involves sending new supplies to the front. The Alliance and the Horde-not working together, of course-are trying to establish a toehold in the zone in order to take on the Warsong clan. The Warsong clan has had problems with the ogres in the past, but they're really the top power here.

The Alliance will be working alongside characters such as Vindicator Yrel and Rangari D'kaan, Thaelin, and Hansel as they progress through the storyline. The Horde will be working alongside Thrall, Durotan, Draka, and Drek'thar-even Aggra will show up and surprise Thrall.
Hopefully the process of building your outpost and fighting the Warsong clan throughout Nagrand will include a trip inside Oshu'gun, one of my favorite locations in the zone. Head over to the official preview now to take a look at what awaits you in Nagrand. Here's a hint - the words 'mounted' and 'combat' pop up in there.

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

US and EU Connected Realms updates

The lists for both the US and EU realms slated for the Realm Connections service have been updated with new dates and planned connections. Please note that if you are a player on an EU realm, your realm connections will be on a Wednesday. For US players, realm connections are scheduled for Thursdays. For more information on Realm Connections and what exactly they entail, be sure to check out Blizzard's official blog post about the service and its features.

The following US realms are scheduled for connection on Thursday, August 7.
  • Shadowmoon and Detheroc

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Artcraft focuses on facial customization

One of the hot button topics when talking about the new character models is faces. Many players worry that when the customization comes in, their characters won't feel like their characters anymore. Blizzard has now released a new Artcraft discussing exactly how they're planning on dealing with that issue.

Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we've moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces-not to mention higher-resolution textures-recreating those same facial options isn't as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you'd just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now-and make it look great-we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.

So it's still a work in progress, but take heart in the knowledge that Blizzard abandoned their original plan, which was to release the new faces before customization was completed. "Our initial idea was to release the new models with their base face, and then add additional options in updates over the course of the expansion." That would have been a huge mistake, in my opinion. People would likely have been very unhappy with the uncertainty of knowing whether or not they'd get the face they identified with.

Head on over to the latest artcraft and check it out now.

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

US Connected Realms update for July 25

The list of US realms scheduled for the Realm Connection service has been updated with new dates, and a new planned connection. Realm Connections take place on Thursdays, beginning at 5am PDT and ending at approximately 1pm PDT. If you're on a realm scheduled for connection, keep that in mind. The following list is for US realms only -- EU realms should take a look at the official forum thread for more information regarding the EU connection schedule.

The following US realms are scheduled for connection on Thursday, July 24.
  • Malfurion and Trollbane
  • Ravenholdt and Twisting Nether
  • The Venture Co and Maelstrom

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Beta raid testing rescheduled to Monday

According to Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, the Warlords of Draenor beta raid test that was planned for today, has been rescheduled for Monday.
Raid Testing Schedule - July 25 (CANCELED)
So, sometimes things literally catch fire.

We were hoping we could get the servers up in time for the scheduled raid test, but that's looking unlikely. Servers should be up today, but I'd rather not speculate while everyone is waiting on the off-chance that testing will happen.

I'll post a new schedule for Monday testing, in a short while.


It's really unfortunate that the raid test had to be delayed - I was hoping to get a look at some of the new mechanics, get a feel for how raiding is going to work in Warlords, but I'll admit to understanding the motivation for postponing it. It's not likely that the servers will be as stable as one would hope, and sitting around waiting for them to be up doesn't make for a good, focused group to really test the content.


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

Warcraft movie logo, props revealed

It's that time of year again - the San Diego Comic Con is in full swing, and with it, news about the upcoming Warcraft movie directed by Duncan Jones. While we still have to wait for Legendary's panel on Saturday for any really juicy details, we do now have the logo for the movie (seen above) and pictures of the Doomhammer and a Stormwind-themed sword and shield set.

I admit, I'm not much for movies adapting game properties, but that's one heck of a Doomhammer, and the Stormwind sword/shield set - I'd like those in game. Considering Travis Fimmel's in this thing and we know Ben Foster is playing Medivh in it, I'm hopeful we'll get to see Anduin Lothar up in this.

Thanks to Craig Everson for the tip

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Lore

A plethora of World of Warcraft mysteries

Well, actually the article from Kotaku mentions ten, but I feel strongly that ten is a plethora. The video from the DDG guides covers various commenters questions about what that snake in Gundrak is, what the dwarves dug up in Bael Modan, what happened to Neptulon after he got snatched out of Throne of the Tides, and where Tyr went after he abandoned his Temple in Northrend.

It's pretty neat stuff all told, so go watch it already. Number one is pretty interesting, at least I think so. I go there from time to time via the Stratholme dungeon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?

Okay, I'm sure with a headline like "Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?" you're already thinking this is it. Rossi has finally snapped. But hear me out for a second. We've had BlizzCons since 2005, before The Burning Crusade was even released. While they haven't happened every year (there was no BlizzCon 2006 and no BlizzCon 2012) it's been fairly regular since its introduction. Last year, Warlords of Draenor was previewed at BlizzCon 2013 - for many of us it's the source of pretty much every opinion we have on the expansion.

That, in fact, is exactly what got me thinking that it's possible that BlizzCon itself is bad for the game, for the game community at large, and for the future of the franchise. BlizzCon, by its very nature, is a hype machine. It's where we learn details about the expansion - its name, its features, its setting and goals - before they are even close to being ready for players. People play demos. Developers give talks about the games. In many ways it's very exciting. I've never been myself, but most of my coworkers and a lot of my in-game friends have. So my argument isn't that BlizzCon itself is bad.

But looking over the past year or so, in terms of Warlords of Draenor and player interaction with it, I start to wonder if having the big reveal at the convention does more harm than good, overall. Expectations are set at the convention - looking at the recent player reaction to the news that Karabor and Bladespire wouldn't be capital cities in Draenor, the issue can in part be traced back to the fact that we were told they would be at BlizzCon. Players (like myself) had months to get excited about the idea of Karabor as a capital city. Then, suddenly, we were told (almost as an afterthought) that no, the capitals were moved to Ashran.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft earns over $1 billion a year

According to statistics from SuperData Research, World of Warcraft still dominates the MMO market with 36% market share. The game raked in just over a billion dollars in revenue in 2013, putting it well ahead of its nearest competition -- $253 million for NCSoft's 1998 title Lineage. The ranking of top subscription titles suggests that MMOs need staying power -- WoW is nearly 10 years old and Lineage is 16 -- and a strong Asian presence -- the top 3 are all big titles in Asia -- to sustain them over the long haul.

However, even though WoW continues to pull in strong subscription numbers, the industry has seen the subscription model declining sharply while microtransaction revenue has been on an upswing. With both a healthy subscriber base and its own microtransaction strategy, WoW seems prepared to succeed no matter which direction the industry goes. However, the overall subscription trend begs the question: will we ever see a free-to-play version of WoW? Blizzard has said no, and with subscription stats like this we can see why.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

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