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Posts with tag Blizzard

WoW Archivist: Talents have come full circle

Circle of Healing
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

The Warlords of Draenor patch 6.0 notes have revealed the latest changes to WoW's ever-evolving talent system. Talents have remained a core system in WoW since its earliest days, the primary method that allows players to make their characters distinct.

In the beta for WoW and throughout vanilla, talent trees were a bit of a mess, as Archivist covered. Today, we'll examine how those early trees came to be expanded, refined, and then scrapped for a very different system. We'll also look at how Warlords is bringing back the earliest version of talent trees in a brand new way.

The golden age of hybrids

Talent possibilities exploded during The Burning Crusade. Ten more levels granted players ten more points to assign. Players could now combine abilities in ways that vanilla's trees had never allowed, opening up exciting new gameplay paths.

Players didn't choose a specialization like they do today. Instead, they assigned points to three different "trees." Each tree represented a spec, but each also had talents that helped the other two specs as well. So players could pick and choose just how far down they wanted to go in a given tree, and thus how much to commit their character to one spec. "Hybrid" builds were not ideal from a min/max perspective, but they were popular. And TBC was the golden age of such builds.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Play Warlords of Draenor at PAX East, get beta access

If you're at PAX East this weekend, you may want to find the Blizzard booth post haste. Why, you may ask? I'll tell you why.

Because that's why - if you play Warlords of Draenor while you're at PAX East, you get a beta key for use when Warlords of Draenor enters later testing. So if you're there or planning on attending, you should get on that.

It's interesting they have this for conventions like PAX East but they didn't for BlizzCon - I'm not sure why that is. But have it now they do. Community Manager Lore has tweeted that there will be other opportunities to gain beta access, so perhaps keep an eye out for other convention appearances by Blizzard.

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

Blizzard registers "Overwatch" trademark?

We've heard from various recent news sources that Blizzard has registered a new trademark. Of course, we recognize the scepticism, following last years incidents with The Dark Below and the associated silliness, but let's take a cautious look at this one.

The trademark is "Overwatch", a term usually used to denote small, supporting military units. Blizzard hired Left 4 Dead developer Michael Booth last year, and it seems like he is directing a small project, with a similar team size to Hearthstone, that isn't Titan. There have been various job listings for positions with this new project, some of which talk about multiplayer experiences and maps. Now this might all be nonsense, but perhaps it points to a new military-styled game coming out of Irvine.

There has long been speculation that Blizzard's next franchise would be a shooter, but with Titan ostensibly on the shelf for now, could this new small team production be that game? We're understandably cautious in our presentation of this information, but it's certainly interesting.

Filed under: Blizzard

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

The joke is on women in Blizzard's April Fool's gag

Though Blizzard doesn't always treat female characters with as much respect as I'd like, where big game companies are concerned they usually do okay -- heck, the fact that you can play a female character at all puts them ahead of a lot of the gaming industry. But Blizzard doesn't have a particularly spotless record, with sexist NPCs, more sexist NPCs, sexual dimorphism, the lack of women in game lore, and the fact that Aggra won't be heading to Draenor in Warlords -- not to mention the fact that Chris Metzen described the journey as "more of a boy's trip" at BlizzCon. The fact that Blizzard does all of this and I still think of them as doing okay speaks to the exceedingly low standards women have where it comes to inclusion in video games.

And in today's April Fool's gag, the joke's on us with the new female draenei models. Today's draenei are the most sexually dimorphic of the lot, with male models that are extremely muscled and female models that are slender -- but still heavy on the cleavage (seriously, they must have so many back problems). Releasing this so-called ugly draenei model as a joke -- though it might have been intended to poke fun at the gamers who insist on sexualized game characters -- just says outright that any women who aren't the height of perfect beauty are a joke.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

New female draenei model?


This morning Blizzard "released" the new female draenei model to the world. The new model is a near complete revamp of the old one -- Blizzard essentially started from the lore and went from there. The female draenei now has fur, more defined edges, and has a deeper connection to the lost ones.

This model will also introduce several unique animations for the female draenei: /twerk, /ew, /chewgum, and /whatever.

Check out more images of the new model after the break.

Is this an April Fools joke? Our money is on that it is. We'll let you decide though.

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WoW Archivist: Warlords of Draenor hates The Burning Crusade

Draining a naaru
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

In many ways, The Burning Crusade was the birth of modern WoW. Most of TBC's innovations are still going strong in WoW today and have been ever since their introduction. Looking back, it's striking how many key features of WoW were absent in classic, only unveiled during the game's first expansion.

Even more striking, however, is how many of these innovations Warlords of Draenor seems poised to undo. Just as Garrosh will undo the transformation of Draenor into Outland, Warlords seeks to unravel most of what Blizzard innovated during TBC. The next expansion will take us through a portal into a very different WoW.

Archivist has now covered all the major patches of The Burning Crusade: patch 2.0.1, patch 2.0.3, patch 2.1, patch 2.2, patch 2.3, and patch 2.4. Now it's time to review the expansion as a whole -- and explore how Warlords will make most of TBC's innovations disappear into the nether.

Dawn of the quest hub

The idea seems so obvious it's hard to imagine that classic WoW actually didn't have quest hubs, at least not in the strict sense. WoW was the first MMO to promote the idea of leveling mainly through quests rather than grinding mobs. So Blizzard had no model to look at when they were designing the original quests.

In classic WoW, quests were put into the game wherever the developers thought they made sense, mostly from a lore perspective. Quests didn't necessarily guide you through a zone area by area. Quests were scattered, and their objectives were, too. They weren't breadcrumbs -- they were meant to be discovered. They didn't hold your hand -- they sent you on an adventure, like it or not.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

The best Diablo III article you will read all week

Seriously, there's a lot of press out there about Diablo III. We've even done some here. But no one is going to top this piece over at Games.on.net, I promise you that. It simply cannot be done. How amazing is this piece, ostensibly about Reaper of Souls, that brought together interviewer Tim Colwill, senior character designer Paul Warzecha, and some pencils and paper to absolutely rethink some classic Diablo characters (and also a clown)? It's this amazing.

Paul: You know what – let's go ahead and... I don't think he needs a shirt. Does he need a shirt?

GON: Whenever I picture a clown, I always take their shirt off.

Paul: Yeah?

GON: We've all been there.

Paul: Well we're going there today, anyway. And I like these pants but I would... he needs some mobility. I would go full-on hammer pants. Remember in the 80's when they used to wear potato-sack pants? Remember those? With the things?

I don't see how I could add anything that would better encapsulate the brilliance of this article. Never before have I laughed quite this much at the notion of screaming decapitated heads being hurled at enemies by an evil clown with a lacrosse net, and I doubt I'll ever laugh that much at it again. This is, simply put, the best press you're going to see for Reaper of Souls or any Blizzard game this year, and I take the hat I don't have (probably made of snakes) off to you, Tim Colwill.

I now desperately want to see this happen for the Warcraft setting. I wonder what the clowns of Azeroth would look like. They'd probably have much bigger shoulders.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3

Having trouble pre-ordering Reaper of Souls? You're not alone

If you're trying to pick up your own copy of Diablo 3's soon-to-be-released Reaper of Souls expansion from Blizzard, you may have run head-first into a "500: Internal Server Error" message. The big downside to this error -- beyond your inability to buy the expansion -- is that though you don't get anything, you may still see the charge pending on your credit card. According to Blizzard support, because the charge didn't successfully go through, it should vanish within a few days. However, it doesn't leave us inclined to, as the error suggests, try again later.

Fortunately, Blizzard is on the case:

Hopefully we'll see a resolution sooner rather than later -- with Reaper of Souls due out on the 25th, there's not much time left to buy for release-day gameplay. In the meantime, we're holding off on clicking "buy" until @BlizzardCS gives us the all clear.

Filed under: Diablo 3

WoW Archivist: The battle for Hillsbrad

Fighting at TM
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Almost ten years later, people still talk about the Southshore versus Tarren Mill battles, the most infamous and celebrated world PvP in WoW history. They go on about how glorious it was, how they'd like to see that kind of intensity return to world PvP. It's not often, however, that they discuss the details.

If you want to know exactly what it was like to fight in those battles, keep reading. I lived it. My old tauren hunter still bears the scars. Pull up a bench and pour yourself a glass of ale. I will tell you about the war.

Why Hillsbrad?

Several places on Azeroth in classic WoW had two faction-specific towns in close proximity. You had Astranaar and Splintertree in Ashenvale. Arathi Highlands featured Refuge Pointe and Hammerfall. Theramore and Brackenwall squared off in Dustwallow Marsh. A few others had proximity also.

So why didn't any of these pairs become as legendary as Southshore and Tarren Mill? The fact is that battles did happen here -- some fairly major ones, too. World PvP ran rampant in the early days, even on PvE realms, and even before the honor system arrived to reward you for doing it.

Many raided faction villages for the simple joy of denying your enemy a stronghold, a questgiver, or a flight point. Such players sought out undefended towns, which these others often were, at least when you first struck.

Other players wanted resistance. They wanted to march forward as part of one vast army of players into an equally imposing force. They wanted the chaos, the rush, the endless bloodshed, the death cries of their foes echoing all around them. And they knew exactly one place you could find that experience, at virtually any hour of the day or night.

It had to be somewhere. Early forum threads began to buzz about such battles taking place. As word of mouth spread, more players wanted to make it happen on their own realm. It became the thing to do.

But why there?

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Hearthstone demos on iPad at CN Hearthstone conference

At a Hearthstone conference (the CN Hearthstone conference, to be exact), Blizzard pulled out the stops and gave a demonstration of Hearthstone for the iPad. We've been hearing that the game will be on tablets since BlizzCon, but although there's a video you can watch here of the game running on an iPad, there's still no specific news of a release date for the device. Watching the video, it's clear that Hearthstone runs very well on the device, and is easy to control with the tablet scheme.

Alex Dai, Blizzard's General Manager for Greater China, had some comments about how game balance and new cars will be handled as well. Head on over to 2P.com to watch the video, or follow us behind the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Hearthstone Insider

Real ID Appear Offline option on the back burner for now

One of the questions we get asked fairly often in the Queue and other places is "Is Blizzard working on an 'appear offline' feature for the Battletag/Real ID friend's list?" I understand the desire for the feature: Sometimes I don't want to have everyone I know see that I'm online because I just want to chill and do something small-scale or by myself.

Sadly, it seems that feature is currently having some troubles being realized. According to Lore, it's hit some technical difficulties.

I'm fairly sad about this, and I hope they can eventually solve those difficulties and get this into existence ASAP.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

5 things I'm amazed WoW still doesn't have

World of Warcraft's tenth anniversary is this year, and with that milestone we've seen a lot of changes, additions, and growth -- the game now spans 90 levels (soon to be 100) and sprawls across the original two continents, Outland, Northrend, Pandaria and places like Deepholm. We'll be traveling to an alternate dimension soon. The game has auction houses, flying mounts, the Brawler's Guild, Proving Grounds, dungeons, raids, scenarios, transmogrification ... a lot has been changed and added over the years.

Yet there are some things WoW never did that I admit, I expected it to do before now. With the level 90 boost incoming, they added one I was wondering about (and which our own Adam Holisky basically predicted based on what other games were doing) but there are still features other games have had over the years that WoW doesn't. Some have seemed like real no-brainers, while others might just be based on my own weird ideas. None of these are things I necessary want or think are good ideas, they're just things I expected.

1 - User Generated Content

When I read up on Neverwinter's user generated content, I immediately found myself wondering why World of Warcraft hadn't taken a bite out of that. The Warcraft RTS was so infamous for player created maps that it spawned a whole sub-genre of games (if you play League of Legends now, that game wouldn't exist without the original Defense of the Ancients mod to Warcraft III) and yet, we've never really seen anything like that in WoW. I understand why Blizzard might want tight control over the game's story and content, but even something where players could submit generated content to be evaluated has never manifested, and I'm kind of astonished. To be honest, after Neverwinter announced its Foundry, I expected something like it for WoW, but I was wrong.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2

Reaching Blizzard support if you can't log in

Earlier this year, Blizzard launched a new Support Callback feature that allowed players with account issues to simply fill out a form and wait for a callback from support. This was a fantastic move in terms of getting rid of the need to spend hours on hold -- but it did have some players concerned and wondering how, exactly, one was supposed to contact support if one was locked out of their account and could not access the appropriate Battle.net page.

Customer Support representative Araxom has written up a response to just that particular situation over on Reddit. If you cannot access your account, or log into Battle.net, there is a support page that will still allow you to live chat with customer service, set up a callback, or even submit a ticket, all without having to log in. Although callbacks and live chat may not be available every hour of every day, you can still submit a ticket with this method and get a response in a reasonable amount of time. And remember -- if you're worried about account security, picking up an Authenticator is always an excellent idea.

Filed under: Account Security

Third annual Blizzard Student Art Contest announces winners

Blizzard has looked through all of the entries for the third annual Blizzard Student Art Contest and chosen the winners, who were announced on the official website yesterday. Entrants this year had four different categories to choose from -- Environment, Character, and Weapons art, and also an Animation category -- the first time we've seen additional categories for the contest. Needless to say the variety of winning entries covered everything under the sun.

The top three winners were Sukjoo-Choi for the mount model shown above, Servando Lupini for an absolutely gorgeous Hallows End-themed environment design, and Duy Nguyen for an eredar-themed, incredibly ornate weapon that frankly I'd love to see a draenei slinging around. Runners up included more environment and weapon art, as well as several incredibly quirky character designs, including an otter fisherman complete with rod and knapsack full of tasty fish. Check out the official announcement page for a look at all of the entries from the talented winners, runner-ups, and honorable mentions -- and congratulations to all!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Contests

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