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Posts with tag beta

Warlords of Draenor: Gorgrond preview

Fresh on the heels of today's Talador preview, we get a look at Gorgrond, forbidding home of the Iron Horde's industrial machine. Gorgrond is the next step for fighting back Iron Horde aggression -- after you've fought them off in Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge, it's time to take the battle to them, and Gorgrond is exactly where you're going to do just that. Smash them Iron Horde. Smash them good.

But they won't just sit back and take it. In Gorgrond you'll come face to face with some of the most powerful and destructive weapons the savage world of Draenor had to challenge you with.

After withstanding the Iron Horde's initial assault, you'll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs' intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It's a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It's the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.

If there's one thing I know about players, it's that they can't resist going someplace conce they've been told not to go there. It's like candy to them. I expect we'll all flood to Gorgrond as soon as we possibly can. I for one welcome our new Iron Horde victims, and everything else in the zone that gets in the way, too.

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

Editorial: On impractical playstyles and too much change

Adam recently wrote an editorial on why change is an essential part of the MMO experience -- after all, WoW is 10 years old at this point and not changing is more likely to cause problems than shaking things up. Change is what makes the game stay fresh and fun after all of these years and it's a large part of why those of us who are still playing WoW are still playing WoW.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that coin is that change can be taken too far. Change can alienate players who no longer feel attached to the game -- and no need to stick around long enough to relearn how to play something they used to love. It's a fine line to walk between changing enough to keep things new and not changing so much that your audience is pushed away... and it's arguably a line Blizzard crossed when many of the game's mechanics turned upside down in Cataclysm.

Is Blizzard doing the same with the upcoming Warlords of Draenor? With the beta in a constant state of flux, it's hard to tell -- but if we look back on the tumultuous era of Cataclysm, maybe we can learn something about just what these big changes mean for World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
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?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

Breakfast Topic: What do you want to see in the alpha?

The Warlords of Draenor alpha is here, though this early version only contains a rather limited amount of content. Of course, an alpha test most definitely a testing phase, and an early one at that. Unlike the game at release where we'll have a whole expansion's worth of content ready for us the moment we log in, the alpha is both piecemeal and buggy -- since it's the alpha and other testing phases that get us to the pristine game we see at launch.

That said, we'll soon be seeing the alliance joining the fight on the alpha as Blizzard opens Shadowmoon Valley for testing in the next build. When Shadowmoon opens, however, the horde's Frostfire Ridge zone will shut down, at least for now. But with Shadowmoon and alliance content on the alpha horizon, let's talk about what you want to see next in the alpha. Are you just waiting for more garrison details -- in which case this next build will be of great interest to you -- or are you craving end-game information? Tell us about it!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Why testing matters

People often look at things like the current Friends and Family Alpha test and wonder why they exist. Why not go straight to beta, or even just do everything via internal testing? Well, there's lots of reasons. One of them is one expressed very well in this tweet by Russ Petersen.
What we've seen happen through several betas is that content has been changed, reworked and redesigned based on Alpha or Beta feedback. I'm reminded of the Cataclysm expansion and Paragon's effort to be World First on Heroic Sinestra, a fight that simply hadn't been tested very much externally, in order to keep it relatively unknown. This meant that it was a heroic-only boss, being attempted for world-first status, while the fight was being hotfixed. It was necessary to preserve some of the mystery of the fight, because let's face it, if it had been open to testing someone would have written up the strategy and Paragon would have been going in knowing what the fight was and wasn't. But it also meant that Paragon had to learn what the fight was and wasn't while it was being changed, during the attempts.

Similarly, the drastic revamp of the Jade Forest during Mists beta can't be undersold here. This happened right in the middle of the beta -- players who were testing out content had to be moved to the next zone and leveled up while the Forest was completely redesigned. In both cases, we see how the presence or absence of testing can have wide consequences for everyone.

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

Breakfast Topic: Do you play betas?

Though there's always a lot of excitement when a new Blizzard game goes into alpha or beta testing stages -- both Heroes of the Storm and Warlords of Draenor are currently in an early alpha stage -- actually playing games at this point is sometimes less than fun. Alpha and beta games are meant for testing, which means they're full of bugs and prone to changes. But the worst of it, for me, is the fact that none of my character progress is kept -- anything I do in an alpha or beta version I'll have to do again later when the final game goes live.

It's completely understandable that Blizzard -- and other game developers -- need to wipe progress made while the game was still being tested, but for me it kills a lot of the fun because on launch day the starting content is already becoming a repetitive grind. The end result is that while I enjoy reading early news about betas, I don't tend to play them for fun. But what about you, readers? Are you already looking forward jumping into the Heroes or Warlords betas -- or would you rather wait for the finished product?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

It's time for the Warlords of Draenor beta


"It's time for the Warlords of Draenor beta."

Kind of an obvious statement, isn't it? A lot of people are making the call for it, voicing their discontent that it's not available yet, that we're not getting the deluge of Warlords info that one expects from an active beta. The majority of those complaints, however, are just on the surface of the community -- ardent fans that crave more Warcraft.

But the need for a beta now is deeper than appeasing the community's need for new purple pixels. Three reasons:

First, and foremost in the mind of a multinational business like Blizzard, the beta itself is needed to show investors and other stakeholders that the company is moving forward with their flagship property and is executing its recovery plan. Let's not argue about how healthy or not healthy WoW is at the moment -- it has had a subscription drop and the market demands that it tries to recover from that. Part of the rejuvenation process is to release an expansion that alters the gameplay in fundamental ways that will draw players back in.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

The wonders and perils of betas

Here at WoW Insider, like in many other places, we've got betas on the brain. Mists of Pandaria had WoW's largest beta, with a huge audience thanks to the Annual Pass sign-up system. In case you don't recall, the Annual Pass gave players a copy of Diablo III, as well as guaranteed access to the Mists of Pandaria beta, in return for committing to play WoW for another year. As a result, the beta access was huge. Not to mention problematic, as it took Blizzard a really long time to roll out beta access to all the players who'd signed up for the Annual Pass. It was a bit of a nightmare for them, one would imagine, as players felt they had the right to access Mists beta from day one, and just got more and more angry as wave after wave of invitations went out, without theirs.

So, before players even got into the beta, there were problems. Betas, originally, were for testing and testing alone. Testing by a slightly larger group than Alphas. Now, beta access seems to have evolved into a different beast altogether. It's early access, it's getting to play a game before your friends, it's status as someone in the know. Betas have become a way for game designers to get their games promoted via streams and YouTube, and the exclusivity of access creates a culture of have and have-not. Everyone wants to be in the beta, with little regard for how it affects their enjoyment of the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Warlords of Draenor

Hearthstone open beta arrives in Europe

The much-anticipated open beta for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft hit US servers yesterday, and as promised by Blizzard at the time, has landed in the EU. European players, or holders of EU Battle.net accounts, should head over to the EU Hearthstone site and download the beta, as well as the battle.net Desktop Client, if they haven't got it already. The two are tied together, and the installer will prompt you to download it if you need to.

If you're a seasoned closed beta player, prepare to welcome a lot of new opponents. If you're brand new to the game, have a look at the tutorial, and maybe peruse WoW Insider's Hearthstone guides, articles and offerings.

Fear not, you won't be crushed by the overgeared. Hearthstone's matchmaking will put your against opponents of equal skill so that everyone can enjoy themselves. Have fun climbing the ladder, crafting cards, and stepping into the Arena!

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone open beta begins!

The moment you've been waiting for is here, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft open beta has begun! You can head over to the official Blizzard site right now, download a copy to your Battle.net account, along with the Battle.net launcher if you don't have it already, and start playing right this very second!

WoW Insider has countless guides and tidbits of information about Hearthstone available for your perusal, so do have a look around while it's downloading to ready yourself for battle!

Do note that while this is US-only for now, other regions' open betas will be going live in the next few days.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Final rounds of Hearthstone beta invites complete

Check your Battle.net account! If you haven't received your beta invites yet, log in and check as the final round of invites have been handed out. Most Battle.net accounts that opted into the Hearthstone beta test before January 7th or did not have a Hearthstone license already attached to it as of January 7th should now have access. Check your emails and check your spam folders. Alternatively, just head over to the Battle.net Account Management page.

Note that the Battle.net desktop app is a requirement in order to play the game.

Not quite sure where to start? Check out a few posts here on WoW Insider that might help point you in the right direction.
Hearthstone Closed Beta Invites Status

The majority of the final round of invites to the Hearthstone closed beta test have now been completed - We have now directly flagged most Battle.net accounts that have met both of the following criteria:

  • The account was opted into the Hearthstone beta test before January 7th.
  • The account does not have a Hearthstone license already attached to it as of January 7th.

If your account was successfully flagged for beta access, your account was also sent an email with instructions on how to download and install the game. If you cannot find this email for any reason, please go to your Battle.net Account Management page - The Hearthstone license should be visible under "Summary" - "Your Game Accounts" if your account was flagged for beta access. If your account has not yet been flagged for the beta test, we are still going through all of the accounts and we will provide another update at a later time.

The Battle.net desktop app is required in order to play Hearthstone, so make sure to install the Battle.net desktop app first. If you run into issues with downloading or installing Hearthstone or with the Battle.net desktop app, please visit our Support site for more assistance.


Good luck and welcome to Hearthstone!

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Diablo III: Reaper of Souls closed beta has begun

The closed beta for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls has officially begun. Players that have opted in to the beta should begin checking their email for beta invites. Reaper of Souls, the first expansion for Diablo III, features all-new content as well as the new Crusader class, enchanting, transmogrification and of course, lots and lots of frantic mouse clicking. Players that have received a beta invite can check their Battle.net accounts to verify that the license has been added -- or if you've received a Closed Beta key, you can add it to your account by logging in to your Battle.net page.

For players that have yet to receive an invitation to the closed beta, make sure you've opted in on your Battle.net Beta Profile Settings page -- and while you're at it, make sure the page has the latest system specifications for your computer. Keep in mind that with the closed beta, you must have an active Diablo III license attached to your account -- and that license needs to be in good standing in order to be eligible. No banned or suspended accounts.

Also, as with any beta test, the risk of phishing attempts runs a little higher. If you receive an email that states you're in the beta, be sure you don't click any links in the email itself. Instead, log into your Battle.net account to check that the license has been added, or to manually add a game code. For more information on the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls closed beta, take a look at Blizzard's official page -- and good luck to all those that have opted in!


Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Diablo 3

Hearthstone internal testing on iPad begins

Hearthstone testing on iPad begins
While we're all acutely aware of the Hearthstone beta being available to those with keys on PC, we all rather thought the iPad version might be coming "soon". And in Blizzard parlance, "soon" might be either next month, or sometime this decade.

However, as Chief Creative Officer Rob Pardo has tweeted the following, soon (tm) may have just become a lot sooner.

For iOS users at least, this is exciting news! Could we see an iPad version of the game for download by Blizzcon, even? Those of us on Android systems, it seems, may need to wait a bit longer.

What are your thoughts? Personally, although I'm an Android person rather than an iOS user, I would love to play Hearthstone on a tablet rather than a PC. It just feels like a game that you should be able to play sitting on a sofa or on the bus, rather than sat at a computer desk. So, the news that it's rolled out into general internal testing on an iPad, and ready to the point that Rob Pardo can tweet about it, is exciting indeed.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

EU Hearthstone beta coming "soon"

EU Hearthstone beta coming 'soon'
To all the EU Hearthstone fans out there, Blizzard has provided an update on when you might be able to get your longing hands on those virtual cards. However, it might not be exactly what you were hoping for. In fact, I'd say it almost certainly isn't. The official press release actually says "in a few weeks", which could mean anything from "the same day as patch 5.4" to "sometime around BlizzCon".

Of course, we're all hoping for the former rather than the latter, but even then, they aren't going to open up the EU beta to everyone who's registered all at once. Rather like the US version of the beta, it will be released in waves. Why's it taking so long? Well we don't know, of course, but smart money's on localization. The EU version has to be translated into six other languages, and while German is definitely done, given how it was playable at Gamescom, who knows what the status of the other five might be.

Hit the break for the full Blizzard statement.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone Beta: Playing through the tutorial

Hearthstone Beta Playing through the tutorial
As if you didn't already know, the Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft beta launched today, and like any geek worth her salt, I immediately downloaded it and started playing. So I thought I'd give you a brief run-down of the tutorial process and the like.

Hearthstone Beta Playing through the tutorialYou start off with a mage deck, as you load into the game, you have a very dwarven-sounding voice announcing that a new hero has appeared, Jaina Proudmoore. She's the character behind the mage deck, and the tutorial starts you off slow, taking on Hogger. The tutorial is really well constructed and doesn't hold your hand too much, just points out key elements as you go through it with little tip popups. As you progress through the tutorial, you're issued with free cards on every win, of which there are several, and these are added to your deck. You don't get anything amazing, but we''ve heard on several occasions how great pains have been taken to ensure that these cards are just as powerful as the higher level ones.

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Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

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