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Filed under: News items

Warlords of Draenor: Tank changes

Tank
Technical Game Designer Chadd Nervig, aka Celestalon, has been answering some inquiries on Twitter lately, and hinted at a few of the changes we can look forward to with tanking. It seems all tanks are up for tweaks, in some fairly overarching ways.

If you're not familiar with Resolve, it's essentially what Vengeance has become in Warlords of Draenor, albeit with some changes. Currently, Resolve improves self-healing and absorbs done by the tank to the tank and partially converts mastery to attack power. How it will be further tweaked in Warlords remains to be seen, but the overall change itself should help tanks be tanks without overshadowing the DPS.

The rest of the tweet is much more intriguing, but does fit with the overall theme of scaling down we're seeing in Warlords. Lowering tank health and mitigation seems risky, but if boss damage is also reduced, then it shouldn't be a problem. For a long time, Blizzard has made noises about how they wanted to slow down the pace of boss fights, especially in the final tiers of an expansion. Damage that's less devastating, healing that is slower pace and choices that are more meaningful. To me, these changes read as being in line with that philosophy. I will be interested to see them implemented, and how they affect gameplay in the beta.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Rob Kazinsky says Azeroth sets "exceed every expectation"

Warcraft move actor Rob Kazinsky talked a bit with website zap2it about his impressions of the movie's set, at it's all positive. He gave a glowing review of the interiors, saying that they "were some of the most amazing grandiose things I've ever seen in my entire life." Kazinsky asserted that it was clear the Warcraft team "spared no expense on quality, on building things to be representative of the game and of the highest realism." He explains that there were plenty of green-screens in filming as well, and that plenty of the creatures involved absolutely needed to be digitally rendered, and couldn't be done with makeup. That probably comes as no surprise to those of us who play the game--it would be pretty tough to create a flying dragon outside of a computer!

It's good news to hear about how excited Kazinsky is about the Warcraft movie project. He was once an avid WoW player himself, and I'm sure it was a real thrill to be part of the project. Many of us are eagerly awaiting the film's release, so it's good to know that the people involved share our enthusiasm.

Filed under: News items, Interviews

Tom Chilton: Blizzard had hoped to have Warlords out a couple of months ago

In a recent interview with Icy Veins, Tom Chilton talked about Warlords of Draenor and one of the things he mentioned that struck me immediately was that Blizzard was hoping to have Warlords out by now. Specifically, a few months ago.
We did a good job earlier in Mists of Pandaria, having the content come at a more frequent intervals, and certainly we had hoped to have Warlords of Draenor out a couple of months ago. The reality is that scaling up the number of people that we have, to work on multiple projects at once has slowed us down. Honestly, it should have not come as a surprise to us. We increased the size of the team by 50% and the majority of those people had never worked on World of Warcraft before or any other MMO, so it is really difficult for them to create content right away, without getting up to speed.
This echoes what other developers have said in interviews and it interests me because one of the things we've bemoaned is the huge drought in content between the end of Siege of Orgrimmar and now - if they'd intended to have Warlords out in June, that would have been a fairly reasonable amount of time for a new expansion, really. (September to June is 10 months, long, but much more reasonable) and the idea that just throwing people at development doesn't immediately bring more content because they have to learn what they're doing makes sense.

I still feel like it's been a heck of a dry spell, all things considered. I really would like to see the alternate timeline where Warlords released in June.

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

Tom Chilton: "We are already in progress with our next expansion"

According to an interview with gameplanet.co.nz Blizzard isn't just working on Warlords of Draenor right now - they're in fact working hard on the next expansion, and have ideas for six or more future expansions they could do.

We are already in progress with our next expansion. We already have zones in production for it. Our next expansion after that, we have a couple of different options that we'll be choosing between over the next several months. Beyond that, there are about six or seven different ideas for expansions that we can take elements of and say, 'You know what? Let's take that and put it in this one for our next expansion after the next one.' Or we might shift the timelines around from what we originally envisioned. There's easily 10 years worth of stuff that we can draw from – more, really.

When I first heard that Warlords of Draenor will be coming out on November 13th, I wondered if that meant it would be all that Blizzard had to talk about at BlizzCon this year. Now that I've read this, I wonder if they'll have the fortitude to announce a new expansion before Warlords even comes out. As crazy as that sounds, if they're working six expansions deep, even if just conceptually, it's definitely a possibility.

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

Blizzard donates to bring back GaymerX

It takes a lot of money to throw a gaming convention, which is why second-year LGBTQ gaming convention GaymerX wasn't certain there would be a third year of the event -- especially after NIS America backed out of a sponsorship deal (though the company eventually came through). Now the GaymerX crew is working on a third convention, which they're calling GX3, and they've pulled together some impressive financial backing in advance.

The biggest donor on the list -- besides dating app Hornet, which donated ad space -- is Blizzard Entertainment, which has pledged to chip in $10,000 to the convention. Blizzard doesn't have the best track record on supporting diversity lately -- especially where women are concerned -- and this seems like a solid move to change some of that public perception... and help keep an awesome gaming con going.

If you'd like to attend GX3 yourself, it will be held in November or December 2015 in San Francisco and you can pick up early tickets -- and other goodies -- on Kickstarter.

Editor's Note: Our moderators have bedded down for the night, so we're disabling comments on this post.

[Thanks, Orkchop, for the tip!]

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Amazon acquires Twitch for $970 million

cantorstudyimage
Today Emmett Shear, the CEO of Twitch.tv, announced that Twitch has been acquired by Amazon. In his letter, Shear explained that they went with Amazon in the end because "they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster." We'll see what kind of changes this development brings to our favorite streaming service, and hopefully they will all be welcome ones.

Amazon's interest in the streaming platform initially came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that initial reports cited Google's Youtube division as potentially interested in purchasing Twitch.

Filed under: News items

World of Warcraft suffers DDoS attack, bomb threat issued to SOE


A collection of ne'er–do–wellers that go by the name of Lizard Squad inflicted significant denial of service attacks to large online gaming networks over the weekend. These attacks brought to a halt World of Warcraft and the entire Battle.net system, PSN, League of Legends, and Path of Exile. Service to all networks has so far been restored.

The group also took things to a new level by issuing a bomb threat to Sony Online Entertainment's President John Smedley flight to San Diego. This, of course, triggers an FBI response and brings things to a whole new level of national security -- Sony is now not commenting any more due to the high level of the crime. Several people have said that claiming "national security" is an overreaction, however if this group really did manage to get an explosive device on to the executive's plane, then it means there are major holes in airport security.

It's likely that this group of script kiddies just didn't realize how incredibly dumb it is to make such a threat, and will soon find themselves facing terrorism charges, with the DDoS charges just an after thought.

One thing to keep in mind; your data in Blizzard's servers was never in any jeopardy. A DDoS attack is like turning on a thousand faucets in your bathtub all at once and watching the tub's drain not be able to handle the extra water flow. The tub is fine (as is your data), it's just completely useless until the faucets get turned off.

Filed under: News items

Warlords of Draenor: Recruit Alexi or Weldon Barov for your garrison

Ah, the Barov family. If you've been playing WoW for any length of time, you're likely well acquainted with the brothers Barov. The last two heirs to the Barov family fortune, Alexi and Weldon Barov used to send players both Alliance and Horde to the opposite faction's camps in order to murder each other. Once the head of the offending brother was returned, players were rewarded with the Barov Peasant Caller, a trinket that summoned Barov servants. In Cataclysm, the Barov brothers seemed to have come to an accord, each no longer intent on the murder of the other, and instead focused on assaulting Scholomance.

But in Mists, both Weldon and Alexi disappeared without a trace. The Barov Peasant Caller was no longer able to be obtained, Scholomance was revamped, and the brothers Barov vanished. Some players idly wondered if this meant the end of the Barov line -- we can officially say no, it did not. Why? Because it looks like Weldon and Alexi decided to team up and band together to enter the lumber industry, and you can find them both on Draenor. In fact, you can recruit either Weldon for the Alliance, or Alexi for the Horde, as a follower for your garrison.

And that Peasant Caller? It's back, and it's gotten a substantial upgrade along the way.

Read more →

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

EU Connected Realm Updates for August 22

The list of EU realms slated for the Realm Connection service has been updated with new information and new realms in regards to upcoming dates for the service. At the present time, there are no additional updates for US realms -- all US realm connections have been completed as of last Thursday, and there are no further US connections scheduled at the moment. EU realms, however, still have plenty of realms left on the connection schedule.

The following EU realms are scheduled for connection on Wednesday, August 27.

German Realms
  • Proudmoore and Madmortem
  • Frostmourne and Nazjatar/Dalvengyr
  • Gorgonnash and Nefarian/Nera'thor/Mannoroth/Destromath
  • Der Mithrilorden and Der Rat von Dalaran
  • Kult der Verdammten and Die Arguswacht/Die Todeskrallen/Das Syndikat/Der Abyssische Rat

Read more →

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items

Wowcraft's Warsong battle has nearly reached its end


Who will win? Who will lose? The Carbot Animations Wowcraft team has been in Warsong Gulch for longer than even the worst Alterac Valley match (though some Warsong runs certainly feel this long). But with the alliance and horde still locked in a dramatic struggle for the flag -- stymied by hunters feigning death and mages using polymorph -- there's no sign who will win or lose in the end. However, Carbot does say the next Wowcraft will wrap things up with Warsong (perhaps with our heroes leveling up to do Arathi Basin).

If you haven't been following Wowcraft, you definitely should be as it's an on-the-nose parody of life in WoW. You can catch up with the Warsong storyline, if you've missed it, by watching episode 7, episode 8, episode 9, and episode 10 above. Stay tuned for the (presumably) dramatic conclusion!

Filed under: News items

World of Warcraft as religious experience

How much of what we do in World of Warcraft matters, and how much does it matter? Can one be said to be engaging in a spiritual or religious experience when we play the game? Robert Geraci would seem to think we can at least start talking about that. Dr. Geraci is a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, and his new book is about the interaction between the virtual worlds we inhabit (his current book discusses World of Warcraft and Second Life) and our inner lives. Dr. Geraci seems to be using WoW as a means to explore how we approach life itself, and how we can interact with it fundamentally in the same way we do our day to day, walking about lives.

it's just about virtual reality - in particular, virtual reality experiences that millions of people are seeking out. From a religious perspective, people are making their lives rich and meaningful and interesting in these virtual worlds. The grant project was to expand on that and say, 'Ok, in what other ways are virtual worlds meaningful for their participants?

The idea that what we do in game has an impact on our lives seems pretty irrefutable -- Dr. Geraci mentions how we make friendships in game that are as real to us as any we make outside of it (indeed, many in-game friendships quickly transcend the game they started in) and he discusses how the game presents concepts of morality, good vs. evil, environmentalism and so on. One could go further with his argument -- the nature of in-game interaction presents a kind of meta-contextual exploration of good social behavior, ultimately. The idea that 'it's just a game' vs. those that argue game or not, you're playing with real people for stakes that matter to them and how you behave in that situation has an impact. In other words, the evolution of in-game morality isn't limited merely to the game's storylines, but the players themselves develop a code of conduct, mores that govern and shape their behavior. Concepts like ninja-looting, PuG etiquette and how to navigate guild social structures are all part and parcel of the game, but they're not narrative focused -- the community evolves these standards itself.

To my mind, any discussion of MMO spaces as religious experiences has to take these kinds of issues to heart. It's not the game, ultimately, that provides much (if any) real spiritual value. It's the evolving consensus between players - the discussion of what is and isn't of value, the behaviors chosen, the direction of the internal zeitgeist of the experience. If we're discussing the investment of meaning into these experiences, it is almost always the players who make that investment. All the game itself can do is give them a framework on which to hang these connections.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Connected Realms updates for US realms

It's another round of updates for the process of connecting up our realms.

Today, Thursday, August 21st we should be seeing the following realms connected. The process should have already begun (5:00 AM PDT) and will hopefully conclude by 1:00 PM PDT, allowing anyone playing on these realms back in at that time. This is of course subject to change based on circumstances. The realms connecting today are:
  • Lightninghoof and Maelstrom, The Venture Co
  • Shattered Hand and Coilfang, Dark Iron, Dalvengyr, and Demon Soul
  • Sisters of Elune and Cenarion Circle
So if you play on these realms, you should have more folks to play with soon. Yay!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Warlords of Draenor Beta: New Login Screen

With the newest patch to the Beta servers we're one step closer to what Warlords of Draenor will look like at release with this new login screen. As you can see, it hearkens back to the days of classic with the return of the Dark Portal, but changes it up with the signature red portal used by the Iron Horde to invade Azeroth and threaten both the Alliance and Horde with destruction.

I like it. It's retro, but it also changes it up enough with the images of what's going on behind it and that red glow seething, it's very interesting. I really enjoy that, when I first come back to the login screen after clicking the cinematics button, the portal is dormant, and then bursts into red light again. It's a very neat effect. What are your thoughts?

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

Robin Williams NPC appears in Warlords of Draenor

Robin Williams was a known gamer and his daughter's namesake is no secret -- Zelda Williams is named for none other than Princess Zelda. He was also a World of Warcraft player. Shortly after his death, Blizzard developers Chadd "Celestalon" Nervigg and Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas responded to a player petition to honor the actor and comedian in-game. The latest Warlords of Draenor beta build includes Blizzard's tribute in the form of Robin the Entertainer.

Currently, Wowhead has datamined three versions of Robin the Entertainer including a djinn, a human female, and a human male -- nods to Genie of Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, and possibly Mork. The NPCs have yet to be seen in-game, so the nature of these NPCs is currently unknown; they might be found in three different locations, or it could be a single representation of Robin Williams rotating through some of his most beloved roles. It's been theorized that he'll be a replacement for The Burning Crusade's Perry Gatner, a character that performed standup comedy in Shattrath's World's End Tavern.

Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords Collector's Edition Hearthstone card back revealed

Among the oodles of goodies included in the Warlords of Draenor Collector's Edition is a new Hearthstone card back. The artwork has been revealed, which can be seen above or over on the @PlayHearthstone Twitter account. The art has an Iron Horde theme, exemplified in random spikes and furnaces. The Warcraft Twitter account confirms that this card back is also included in the Digital Deluxe version of the expansion.

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider, Warlords of Draenor

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