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Filed under: Interviews

Warlords of Draenor: New info from PAX East

Elekks on Draenor
PAX East 2014 has come and gone, but we at WoW Insider have come away from the weekend with juicy new information to share with you about Warlords of Draenor. During the expo, I sat down for a chat with senior game designers Steve Burke and Brian Holinka, lead class designer Kris Zierhut, and other developers.

In our brief time together, they told me some exciting info about garrisons, raiding, transmog, and the expansion's starting experience. They also provided insight into what a boosted level 90 will experience after the expansion launches.

Please note that mild spoilers about the early story of Warlords of Draenor will follow. Join me after the break for all the new info!

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Filed under: News items, Raiding, Interviews, Transmogrification, Warlords of Draenor

Wowhead interviews Warlords developers at PAX East

Our friends over at Wowhead are attending PAX East this weekend, and Perculia had a chance to sit down and interview Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke about Warlords of Draenor. A variety of topics were discussed -- Garrisons were discussed in detail, as well as raid cooldowns, the strengths and weaknesses of the Timeless Isle, professions and the removal of damage bonuses, and much more.

One of the more exciting discussions addressed the issue of storage space. Mentioned in the interview was the new toy box tab that will rid your bags of all the interesting gadgets and toys you find while questing. But that's not all -- most profession materials will stack to 100 in the new expansion, and gathered quest items from kill and carry quests will be tracked, but not actually take up space in your bags. And perhaps the most exciting news from the interview (for me, anyway) is that at long last, transmogrification fanatics will be getting a second tab of Void Storage in which to squirrel away their favorite fashions. You can listen to the full audio from the interview above -- it's well worth checking out.


Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Interview: Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig talks Warlords of Draenor

I was lucky enough to head over to Blizzard Campus this week to talk to Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig. Chadd is a huge part of the class design team, key to a lot of the changes we saw in the recent Warlords of Draenor patch notes, which is just what we discussed. We were also joined by Senior Community Representatives Zarhym and Lore. You can also find a much-abbreviated summary on Wowhead.

Olivia: First up, is there anything you really wanted to clarify and get out there?

Celestalon: I've tweeted about pretty much everything. This was the first version of the patch notes, there have been more changes since then, those patch notes are about a week old or so?

Zarhym: Yeah it's like, tons of changes. [Rygarius] said he had a huge list of changes.

Celestalon: There's another five thousand words that aren't up there yet, which [Rygarius] is working on now.

There have been different amounts of patch notes released for different classes. Paladins have been complaining that they haven't got enough, rogues have been really happy that not much has changed. Is it safe to assume there's more to come? This is just step one?

There's definitely more coming. Like, for example, paladins had relatively few patch notes, and a lot of that is we were relatively happy with how things played out, at least for ret and prot, with the exception of a few things we can solve with tuning – changing numbers. So a lot of what you see in the patch notes now is what we call design changes, so the mechanics that we want to change so we can get to some design that we like.

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Filed under: Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Hearthstone's Trump talks Twitch with Mashable

Hearthstone logo
For a long time, if you wanted to watch someone else play Blizzard games live, Starcraft II was your only real option, with some WoW arena gaming popping up here and there. With the addition of Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and now the technical alpha of Heroes of the Storm, though, Blizzard has quickly grown their number of streamer-friendly titles.

Many of you are probably familiar with Jeffrey Shih, aka Trump, a Hearthstone streamer who currently makes his living doing just that--playing Hearthstone on Twitch.tv. He's one of a several streamers featured in a recent article on Mashable that discusses the state of gameplay streaming as both entertainment and work. Twitch currently partners with about 5100 streamers who make income from their gaming, and some, such as Trump, make enough to do it as a full-time job. If you're interested in gaming as a profession this is a neat article that discusses some of the realities of the work itself, as well as the factors that have made such work possible in the last few years.

Filed under: Interviews, Hearthstone Insider

Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi's weekly look into Warcraft's past

Twitter Throwback Thursdays are one idea that World of Warcraft Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi has grabbed onto with both hands, and today was no exception. We saw the very first Naaru in the game, before they had a naming convention, and apparently before they stopped being boxing champions.

Alex followed this with an image showing his design for the DK starting area, a colorful but almost illegible flow chart that split the starting experience into chapters, and, from what I can read at least, had several recognizable quests and characters spelled out.

Next up was a screenshot of a very orderly queue in the DK start area on beta, apparently a bug was causing a bottleneck, which the beta players decided to overcome with an orderly queue, and stern admonishment for anyone who tried to skip their place in line.

Lastly, an image of the testing of the Battle for Undercity. While not much detail was provided on this now-removed feature, the image shows an Alliance group, with a couple of Horde flags, and a whole lot of deep freezes. It's great fun seeing old shots and remembering the days when that was a totally normal screen resolution!

Filed under: News items, Interviews

Warlords of Draenor: Gameplanet interviews Alex Afrasiabi

Gaming news website Gameplanet has posted an interview with Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi featuring a detailed discussion about the next expansion for World of Warcraft. Along with discussing the development of Garrosh Hellscream, Afrasiabi dropped some interesting new tidbits we hadn't heard before. Ner'zhul will be allied with the Iron Horde, but only for, as stated in the interview, a short time. In addition, garrisons are shaping up to be a massive, interactive experience -- and sound much more expansive and interesting than the farms introduced in Mists of Pandaria.

And if that weren't enough, there's some new details on the introduction to the expansion itself. The Iron Horde is trying to push through the Dark Portal into Azeroth, and players are immediately thrown into a frenetic 45-minute gameplay experience in which they are immediately confronted by thousands of Iron Horde. Afrasiabi states that players will, in that moment, realize where the orcs that have been streaming through the Dark Portal in the weeks leading up to the expansion's release have been coming from. It looks like we'll have our return of pre-expansion events -- something that was sorely missed leading into Mists of Pandaria.

But the most interesting part of the interview involves the discussion of flight on Draenor.

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Filed under: News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

15 Minutes of Fame: Actor Jake Stormoen lives the fantasy life on set and in Azeroth

Photo: Arrowstorm Entertainment
I actually made myself practice saying the first name of actor Jake Stormoen before our recent phone interview: "Jayyyyyyyke," I intoned over and over, trying to banish the memory of the chewy Irish "Jehk" I'd heard so many times in tale after tale of Azerothian camaraderie from long-time gaming buddy Kristian Nairn ("Hodor" in HBO's Game of Thrones). It's impossible to get very far talking with either actor without running into a reference to the other; the two have formed one of those crazy gaming bonds that -- well, you know how it is with a bromance forged in the ice and fire of Azeroth.

I caught up with the smaller half of the inseparable WoW-playing duo by phone during a break from the frigid set of multi-part fantasy epic Mythica, now filming on location in Utah in temperatures as low as 10 below zero. Young actor with a cool fantasy role? This guy's most definitely got it going on. We explored WoW friendships, mused over the pressures of tanking, laughed about blowing off steam in Azeroth after a long day on the set -- oh, and paused the whole interview mid-stream to deadpan and snort our way through a phone call from the Hodor-sized half of the Nairn/Stormoen duo.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Blizzard "planning on simplifying our currency structure" in Warlords

I've talked before about the need to simplify currency going forward, and I'm far from the only one. Now it appears Blizzard agrees - Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas' made that very clear on twitter recently.

Clearly this topic came up during this interview with PC Games N, which emphasized a bit more the idea of the complexity of current currency systems. The bonus roll system currently in play in Mists of Pandaria was mentioned as an alternative to valor. "We think we can take the bonus rolls system and make it a little bit more intelligent, so that it tries to avoid giving you duplicate loots - and allow that to be the way players counteract bad RNG. It removes a little bit of the grind and a little bit of the awkwardness of the current valor system."

While no announcement has been made yet about how Blizzard will streamline its currency, it's good to know they're aware of and focused on the issue.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Ion Hazzikostas video interview

We already posted one interview with Watcher (Ion Hazzikostas) this weekend, but he also did this video interview with the German language website Buffed.de, and he covers a lot of details not found in the previous interview. So what does Watcher have to say?
  • Level 100 talents are being designed around the idea that one talent can/should be different things to different specs, and this philosophy is being used in redesigning other talent tiers as well. He uses the example of the mage level 75 tier and says they've discussed taking all three of the current talents and making it one talent, which gives you one of the three spells (Nether Tempest, Living Bomb or Frost Bomb) based on spec.
  • The difficulty of Mists of Pandaria heroics was hampered by the decision to not have max level normal mode dungeons, but Warlords will have level 100 normal and heroic dungeons, and LFR in Warlords will not require gear from heroics, just normals. If players want an involved, cooperative challenge, heroic five mans will be more of this.
  • Challenge modes will see one change -- doing the random daily challenge mode quest will automatically give you one epic for completing the quest -- this gear will be as good as or perhaps better than LFR, even before LFR opens, so you can gear up via challenge modes.
  • Highmaul is 'very similar to Firelands' in layout - an open area with several nonlinear bosses that you can clear or skip, and two final bosses that must be completed, while Blackrock Foundry is a three wing dungeon that you can clear in any order you wish.
  • "Gul'dan is not the threat... and he might even be an ally against the Iron Horde."
  • Sha of Anger was the most successful world boss of Mists of Pandaria in terms of the difficulty and experience, and other world bosses didn't quite work out as planned.
There's actually a lot more, so head on over to Buffed.de and check out the video for yourself.

(Thanks to Adam, Julian and Mintie for tips and Susanne Braun for correction)

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

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

15 Minutes of Fame: Flower power pollinates leveling for true neutral pandaren

Crazy metagaming projects are among my favorite topics here at 15 Minutes of Fame. It's impossible not to catch the excitement of someone who's figured out a new way to spin Azeroth. Take for instance the curious case of Doubleagent , the "neutral" pandaren who's managed to make it to level 80 and still climbing without ever leaving the pandaren starting zone. In his case, staying put also means never having chosen a faction; Doubleagent is neither Horde nor Alliance but instead remains a neutral party. And the method to his madness? Flowers. Lots and lots of herbalism and flowers.

Ticking through level 83 when this article was posted, Doubleagent continues to drift through the gentle fields leading to level 90 and beyond -- because oh yes, this is one player who plans to take his leveling project all the way to the top in the coming expansion as well.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Mila Kunis talks WoW and other gaming

Mila Kunis joined One of Swords podcast's Dan Amrich to talk to the hosts about her gaming life, including her time spent playing World of Warcraft, joining one of her ex-guildmates on the show. She chats about how she had to change her in-game name, as the title "Captain" in her mage's name "Captainpicard" wasn't allowed.

She then discussed her gaming history, and how it led to her move into WoW, starting with co-host Hugh Sterbakov as their game night shifted from Settlers of Catan into WoW. She even talks about dragging her friends into the game, including the podcast's other guest, Lisa Sterbakov. They discuss playing all day sessions, questing together, killing mobs and wiping a "raid" in Black Morass while Mila went AFK for a bathroom break. Unfortunately, as her friends quit, Mila eventually lost interest.

It's a fun listen, Mila's segment begins from 27 minutes in, and continues after the WoW chat, talking about other games.

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews

15 Minutes of Fame: Converting all of Azeroth to raid by the thousands

You know the new guild on the scene is making a impact on the community when other players offer it up as a solution to other players' woes. Take a look at this excerpt from the comments of a recent Drama Mamas column, wherein a player was unhappy with the way her new raid guild membership was unfolding:

janet.houck I think you need to leave your current team, do some research to find a good match, and move. Aerie Peak has the CTR uber guild, and we're sitting at over 90 raid teams. You can always find a team for you. If you can't, you can build it.

MarshallGlenn @janet.houck wth is CTR uber guild?

janet.houck @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck Convert to Raid, the podcast, has a greenwall'ed guild on Aerie Peak-US A. I think there's 8 sub-guilds at the moment. We tend to attract an older and more serious crowd, so for a 45-year old player, it might be a nice place to check out. :)

TaxmanCDN @janet.houck @MarshallGlenn All of my toons are in the CTR guild. Best guild I've ever been in. I'm on two raid teams, and on my off-nights if I feel like doing a flex there's always someone looking. Great community there, and I've found it to be a better class of raiders (in general) than on other realms.

Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houckConvert To Raid is a popular WoW podcast. They have a series of raiding guilds on Aerie Peak, because there's a cap to the number of people you can have in a guild. I was also under the impression that there were 'steps', like the more casual guild splinter vs the hardcore one to make it easier to find your niche but I'm not entirely sure about that. There are a few other mega/meta-guilds similar to this around, too.

MarshallGlenn @Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck ahhh very cool. Edit

bluefer I had something like this problem and I transferred my toons to Aerie Peak and joined CTR. I suggest you roll an alt on Aerie Peak. AT L15 you can join CTR mega guild and find a ton of teams to choose from with good people and lots of raiders who treat each other pretty well. Best of luck.


While Bluefer sent our letter-writer off with a "best of luck," we don't suspect the Convert to Raid success story has anything to do with luck. We suspect it has everything to do with Pat Krane.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Japanese players build their own community in World of Warcraft

What does World of Warcraft sound like from an entirely different cultural perspective? Jump to about 8:30 in the above video and listen to the last moments of this heroic boss kill -- the point at which terse expletives usually bristle from from even the most disciplined, well-oiled raiders, the whole thing followed by a deafening avalanche of shouts and cheers when the boss finally falls. Contrast those expectations with the understated pleasure here of CAVAG, a guild of Japanese players on Proudmoore (US-Horde), and you'll gain a sense of just one of the more outward cultural differences between this group and the typical American raiding guild.

Welcome to the world of #wowjp, a network of Japanese WoW players who've learned English primarily through playing the game. You can find localized versions of World of Warcraft in Korea, mainland China and Taiwan, but Japanese players are left to their own devices -- no dedicated servers, no language localization. To solve those challenges, Japanese players have banded together to create their own Japanese game guides, share addons and tips for typing in Japanese within the game, and form a network of Japanese-language guilds across several North American realms.

Bringing us this interview with two Japanese WoW players is the Sha of Happiness, herself a native Japanese speaker and a member of the #wowjp community. But before we begin, a simple and heartfelt message from the Japanese players:

The wowjp community wished to tell the readers/Blizzard: "Thank you for providing the Hippogryph Hatchling for the tsunami relief efforts. Thank you for all of your donations."

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Turwinkle the gnome charms with adventure videos and community interviews

Sometimes a letter from an appreciative fan is the best way to introduce a player to WoW Insider readers:

I'm writing in to nominate a wonderful man that I recently had the pleasure of working with. Known as Turwinkle on Twitter or Palmerbomber1 on YouTube, he comes from Moon Guard and has recently begun making rounds on Wyrmrest Accord, where he gets in touch with various guilds and interviews them about what they are, what their stories are, and advertises their members. He also has a series with his gnome Turwinkle where he records himself leveling through the game, narrating the adventures of his mage.

The exposure he's done for the Wyrmrest community is second to none, and I'd love to see him get the recognition he deserves. The two hours he spent with our guild was a blast for everyone involved, and I'm sure many of the others he's spoken with felt the same.


Introducing the gentle good humor of Turwinkle the gnome, star of the "let's play" Adventures of Turwinkle and host of Turwinkle Talks interviewing roleplay guilds across Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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