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Posts with tag dev

Dev Watercooler: Rate of change

Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street's newest Dev Watercooler just went live today, discussing all manner of timing and the design process behind updating the game. This Dev Watercooler is perhaps my favorite Ghostcrawler has ever written because it eschews the wrappings of a news post and instead focuses on the actual mechanics and thought processes behind the trials and tribulations of updating and changing such a massive game.

The post starts off with some general technical information about how WoW works based on its client-server relationships and why the game works the way it does. From there, Ghostcrawler begins to discuss different time frames that Blizzard looks to when deciding when and how to update the game. Time frames run the gamut from patches to exploits, which get little to no attention in terms of announcements, and class balance, which mixes parts of expansion announcements and brand new changes that fundamentally alter a class.

If you've ever had an inkling of interest in how game design works and the thought processes that go into keeping a game like WoW running as smoothly as it does, this is the post to read.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Dev Watercooler: Bloody mitigation

In Ghostcrawler's last Dev Watercooler blog entry, tanking and threat were given a new focus when it came to World of Warcraft encounter design and gameplay experience. Threat for tanks was greatly increased, and the focus for tanks in the future seemed to hinge on active mitigation versus a combination of threat generation and damage mitigation.

Today, Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer Greg Street) posted more thoughts about overhauling tanking. He delves into what active mitigation means for the WoW team, some potential models that the future of tanking can hold for many tanking classes, and a deep, introspective look into what it means to hit buttons as a tank. Plus, he goes in-depth on how these major changes ahead will affect death knights first.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Blizzard's APIs and You: Cool information and tools coming down the pipe

Recently, Blizzard disabled the WoWArmory Facebook application, signaling that the time of the modern WoW Armory is over and we will soon live in an age when new Blizzard APIs will transform our out-of-game experience. And change it, they will. These forthcoming APIs will change the way you interact with WoW outside of the game in ways you cannot even think up yet. How do I know this? That's the power of information facilitation, and some inventive hypotheticals will show you what Blizzard's APIs will do for you in the near future.

Over the past few months, Blizzard has been preparing to roll out a new set of APIs that will take internal information from the Armory, the new community site, and more, parse it into easily manageable data streams, and make those streams available to application developers. With these new streams of information, savvy developers can craft web applications, smartphone apps, social media plugins, and anything else under the sun to provide you with new and dynamic WoW experiences on the internet. I know that sounds horribly cliché, but hear me out -- this stuff is pretty cool, and the back end could bring about a new standard for information availability and MMOs.

I'm not a developer. In fact, a lot of us in the community are not developers. Writing this story felt like an exercise in obscurity because, frankly, all this back end information isn't in my wheelhouse. As I dug deeper and began to realize the potential of the systems being set up, I fell in love with the idea that Blizzard is opening up easy access to so much information. I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate for those of us who have no idea what APIs are capable of, to break through the programmer/developer talk and discuss what these APIs mean for us, at the end of the day.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Ask the Devs Round 9 mitigates your tanking questions

Ask the Devs is back for Round 9, which deals with the most awesome role in WoW ever -- tanking. Of course, coming from a tank, that might be a bit biased -- but deal with it, healers and DPSers. I've got creatures to keep from punching you in your squishy little faces.

Of note this time around is Blizzard's tough time dealing with tanks wanting threat stats (hit and expertise) and the current struggle with making it work. Currently, in cutting-edge content, threat stats are pretty good for initial aggro, but over time, Vengeance does its job admirably and keeps bosses on tanks with relative ease. I think that design decision is hitting the sweet spot, but it begs the question of why even have the threat stats in the first place?

Blizzard also discussed the mastery bonuses for each tank. The devs feel that death knights and druids are doing pretty well, all things considered, and that paladins and warriors have a similar problem in "capping" mastery, but that paladins are more susceptible to problems. There is still the sentiment in the community that Blizzard needs to add its own visual threat meters or some type of aggro status, but there is a reluctance on Blizzard's part to clutter up its own default UI -- understandable, but this may potentially be a part of Blizzard's forthcoming (but not discussed) "how to tank" solution.

Buried in this discussion, however, was a little tidbit about patch 4.3. Blizzard states that the design for the patch 4.2 legendary, Dragonwrath, has wide appeal to a number of staff-wielding ranged DPS classes. However, it then mentions the "patch 4.3 legendary" and its more narrow appeal. Will we be seeing a tanking legendary in the near future, or potentially another healer item? We do know for sure that it will not be as widespread, class-wise, as Dragonwrath, so we can only sit back and assume. What is interesting, though, is that patch 4.3 also looks to be a raid tier and not a patch 4.1-style dungeon content update. Could patch 4.3 be bringing us the War of the Ancients raid that we have been eagerly anticipating, especially with the return of Nozdormu and his crazy time antics? Only time (heh) will tell.

Also, don't expect a new tanking class any time soon. Hit the jump for the full question and answer session.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Blizzard previews character, guild, and arena team APIs

Blizzard previously announced that certain APIs were going to become available for applications and players to access from the community website. We've finally got a preview of the information feeds that tap into character data in the near future. These feeds can be used in applications, websites, and more for user-created, World of Warcraft ... well ... anything.

Blizzard's opening up of these information feeds is pretty cool, and you will likely see some ambitious applications of this data being used in the near future. One of the illuminating aspects of this preview is that after finding the right way to do it, the devs are thinking about opening up quest ID information so that you can see what quests characters have or have not completed. There are tons of applications of that data out there and I'm sure the community is really excited to make use of this API information. Check out the full preview after the jump.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler discusses the number of player abilities

In his continuing conversational blog series Dev Watercooler, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (lead systems designer) muses about the number of abilities players have, what the sweet spot is in terms of quantity, the need for all classes to have a viable AoE rotation, and the difference between rotational abilities and situational abilities. From a game design perspective, this might be the coolest Dev Watercooler yet.

Read this full Dev Watercooler after the break, or check out the other Dev Watercoolers with Ghostcrawler:

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler talks critical hits (and misses)

The Dev Watercooler, Ghostcrawler's conversational community blog series, continues with a look at the theories behind critical hits. After a bit on the history of critical strikes in WoW, Ghostcrawler gets down to business with an awesome discussion about the homogenization of classes, the issue with healer critical hits, and the pros and cons of homogenizing critical hits across the board.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Gold Capped: Milling and prospecting changes ahead?

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aims to show you how to make money on the auction house. Email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail! This week's community post is the Auction House Junkies podcast's most recent episode.

The recent UI developer Q&A contained a little nugget that I found interesting:


Milling and Prospecting are incredibly dull and very manual tasks at present, especially when you do them in bulk. Speaking as a scribe, the entire manufacturing process from herb to pigment to ink to glyph is both time-consuming, boring and sending me well on my way to repetitive stress wrist and index finger injuries.

Yes, we totally understand why this is a problem. The reason we can't make it work just like other trade skills, is that we don't know which herbs and ore you want to use. If you have some cheap ore and some very expensive ore, we don't want to accidentally use the expensive ore. There are a few ways to fix this. One is we just redesign Milling and Prospecting. If they were recipe-based, then we would know exactly which material to use. It would also add a huge list of repetitive recipes to your Professions pages. We could also make some kind of new UI (think of something simple, like the Reforging UI) to let you drag and drop the materials you want to use. The advantage of the "box" solution is we could also use it for Disenchanting.

I was thrilled to hear Blizzard's considering changing the way this works. I had always just assumed that the clunky design of milling and prospecting was on purpose to put a limit on how much ore or herbs one player could process.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Economy, Gold Capped

Ghostcrawler chats about interrupts at the Dev Watercooler

Ghostcrawler (WoW lead systems designer) is blogging up a storm over at the WoW community site, with a new series called Dev Watercooler. The aim of this new column is to have candid chats with the community discussing game mechanics and pose questions that relate to the ongoing development of World of Warcraft. I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that this is pretty cool.

In his first Dev Watercooler, Ghostcrawler talks about interrupts, where interrupt mechanics are going, and what he hopes they can look like over time.

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Class Q&A: Shaman questions answered

The first answer post from the class Q&A series is up! 6:30 PM on a Tuesday night is not exactly when I expected this to drop, but I'm not complaining, and neither are most shamans, I expect. 4,400 words from the devs answering the community's questions is always nice. I've summarized the major points below; my summary may seem long, but it is only 20% of the original post.

As of Wrath, the goal is for all three Shaman trees to be viable in end-game raiding, and for Shaman DPS to be not necessarily quite as high as pure classes, but close; the goal is that "no raid worth its salt would turn down" any shaman out of concerns that the class is underpowered.

They do think Shamans are a bit underpowered in PvP, especially smaller Arenas, and view that as a problem. They mention particularly wanting to improve Shaman performance on 2v2s.

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Filed under: Shaman, News items

Ghostcrawler respondes to balance questions

Our buddy Ghostcrawler has appeared on the forums answering (or re-answering, as he says) a few concerns about the balance of the game. Most of his answer is about PvP: he says that Death Knights and Holy Pallies are overpowered, but that while Blizzard does believe there are more imbalances, debate is still raging about exactly where they are. And he does say that while burst damage is still a concern, he feels that Blizzard did a lot to combat that when they started Season 5, and that the bigger concern now is getting mana pools under control. Too many fights now have healers just going and going, and while they don't want fights to end super fast, they can't all drag out, either.

He also talks more in-depth about the balance between gear you can get from PvP and PvE and how it needs to be fixed: he straight out says that 25-man Naxx is too easy to PuG, and agrees that Ulduar and future PvP weapons "should ideally require the same amount of investment." Likewise, when Blizzard tried to reset the resilience stacking at the start of Season 5, they had players facing very powerful weapons from the PvE raids like Kel'thuzad, which lead to, as he says, "a perfect storm for fast Arena deaths." Which is probably why so many players left the Arenas.

The plan for the future? Ulduar's hard modes will be way tougher than Heroic Naxx, so players won't be able to PuG PvE and then go kill in PvP right away. Of course Death Knights are still cruising for a nerfing, if patch 3.1 doesn't bring them down off their high Deathcharger. And GC suggests that in the future, starter PvP gear may beef up resilience at the cost of offensive stats, so that players don't begin with gear that has great defense and offense right away.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Raiding, Classes, Forums, Arena

Rob Pardo to keynote at the Paris Game Developers Conference

Blizzard's Rob Pardo, Senior Vice President of Game Design, has been recruited to keynote the Paris GDC this summer, which will take place on June 23rd and 24th at the at the Coeur Défense Convention Centre in Paris. He'll participate in a Q&A session in which he will discuss his inspirations and challenges, as well as Blizzard's future plans.

The official press release should appear soon on the Paris GDC site.

The Paris GDC will be taking place a few days before Blizzard's World Wide Invitational in the same city. We're expecting a lot of choice WoTLK news to drop there, but certainly, Pardo may say something juicy ahead of time at the Paris GDC, and we'll be sure to find out if he does.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Worldwide Invitational

Breakfast Topic: What's your favorite WoW holiday?

Zom over on the forums asks: what's your favorite WoW holiday? And the response is extra special because it's by Kisirani, who, you may know, is actually Blizzard's World Event Designer-- him showing up in your thread about holidays is kind of like God showing up on a thread about your favorite mountain range.

Kisirani asks specifically for constructive, reasoned posts, but c'mon, he's asking on the WoW forums. Fortunately, this site is not the WoW forums, and our comments are more than capable of giving constructive and reasoned.. well...

I kid! Tell the guy what your favorite WoW holiday is, whether it be the free epics of Hallow's End or the ticket grinding of Brewfest, and maybe the upcoming updates to Nobelgarden (we hope) will incorporate some of your constructive and well-reasoned ideas!

Thanks, Joshua!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Forums

Legendary Thread with Cory Stockton

Legendary Thread, 1up's WoW podcast, has a special Blizzcon episode up with Cory Stockton, WoW's lead level designer and a new name to me. It's a fun chat, covering topics from Dalaran to Naxx to new hair. It also contains some interesting new information on Death Knights. Note that this isn't finalized but is, according to Stockton, the way the devs are leaning at the moment.
  • Doing the quest to unlock a DK will give you a new hero slot, in which you can make a DK.
  • This means you would need to redo it if you wanted to make a second DK; it's unknown whether you can have more than one hero slot per realm, though.
  • This also means you (hopefully) won't be stopped from making one by having ten characters on a realm.
Another tidbit that I found interesting is that Blizzard watched to see what items are flooding the AH on a regular basis, and then uses them in professions to help the economy. If you've got an hour to spare, go listen to the podcast. If you don't, feel free to complain here about the fact that Stockton mentioned "next expansion" when talking about a second hero class. That makes me sad.

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews, BlizzCon, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Stratics dev chat: live coverage

Well, it's time to get some answers, hopefully! Here I'll be covering Stratics' Q&A chat with WoW lead developers Kalgan and Tigole, as well as some of the CMs. I will keep this post continually refreshed with everything the devs say, so feel free to reload for updates.

Edit: The chat has been postponed until a week from today: Tuesday, May 22, at 6:00 PM Eastern time.

5:55: Chat starts in five minutes. Drysc, Eyonix, Kalgan, Tigole, and Nethaera have just joined the room.

5:59: Kalgan left, but I'm sure he'll be back. Several people are present with nicknames like "HELP_Shamans."

6:02: I estimate there are about 900 people watching the chat. That's quite a few. Looks like there are some set-up issues, as Eyonix has now left too, Kalgan isn't back, and nobody's said anything yet.

6:10: Here we go! Welcome to the first ever Stratics house of commons chat with the developers of World of Warcraft! We'll begin with a brief introduction from our guests and then jump straight into the questions. The full logs will be available at shortly afterward.

6:12: Introductions time.
Nethaera: Good afternoon everyone. I'm Nethaera and one of the World of Warcraft Community Managers.

6:20: The developers are experiencing some minor technical problems, it should be corrected in a moment.

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Filed under: Events, Blizzard

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