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Posts with tag developers

Death Knights and the new design directive


I've been having fun with Wowhead's new Wrath of the Lich King talent calculators lately. Since I couldn't fiddle around with my favorite class' talents just yet, I decided to play with the Death Knight talent trees. Although I have yet to actually playtest the class (keeping my fingers crossed for that elusive Beta key...), studying the new talents and spells made it apparent to me that Blizzard was now working on a completely different level. The class design is so bold, fresh, and completely unlike any class we've seen before.

With each patch and expansion, Blizzard has demonstrated a keen sense of learning. One of the things I truly enjoy about their talks, such as the panels during the Worldwide Invitational event in Paris, France last month, is when they illustrate their learnings and what they've come up with in response. For the most part, each iteration of their designs is progressively better than the last. Take World PvP, for example. Their first attempts were silly and laughable, such as the sandlol in Silithus. In Outlands, however, they implemented several World PvP objectives that were more successful, particularly Halaa and the Bone Wastes. In Blizzcon 2007, they talked about the things they learned so far, which make me truly excited for Lake Wintergrasp.

The Death Knight is another matter altogether. It's a new class. With the Burning Crusade, Blizzard simply added new races, which wasn't too difficult to balance. With the coming expansion, they've designed a class from the ground up -- and from what I can see so far, they've broken the mold and created something that doesn't quite follow the conventions we're become accustomed to. If anything, the Death Knight is a shock to the system. Looking through the talents and spells, a few key design points stood out for me.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Worldwide Invitational Paris: The roundup

Happy Monday morning everyone! If you're a fan of World of Warcraft, chances are you heard about the big old shindig Blizzard threw in Paris this week. If you didn't a chance to get to Paris this year or catch any of the news over the weekend, you'll want to keep reading. We had a crack team on the convention floor, and more of us watching the live feeds all weekend, all working hard to deliver up to date reports and analysis. What that means for you is that this is the perfect place to catch up on all the WoW news from Paris. This handy list will direct you to exactly where you want to go to get the information you need.

Liveblogs and other event reporting:

Of course, if the flood of liveblog information makes your head spin, no worries, we have analysis on every angle and every little tidbit discussed during the Invitational. Check them out after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

Breakfast Topic: Addons requests and recommendations

Lileah on Livejournal was looking for some help with an addon the other day, and her request gave me an idea. For this morning's Breakfast Topic, we're going all out with the addon requests. If you've got a need for an addon (like custom timers, an addon for keeping track of food, or any other weird needs you might have), ask in the comments below, and if you're an addon expert, show off your expertise by letting the requester know if there's an addon that will fill their needs.

And if there's isn't an addon that can do what they're asking, maybe this comments section will be the impetus for someone out there to create one of their own. Think we can find a need out there for an addon that doesn't yet exist? Of course, there are some things that addons can't do (choose targets or spells for you is a big one), but otherwise, consider this thread your clearinghouse for addon service requests.

If you can't get an answer here, feel free to tip us, too -- we at WoW Insider always love finding out and writing about new addons. Whether you need help finding an addon that does what you want or you know of a great addon that could use some coverage, let us know and we'll be thrilled to take a look at it.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Add-Ons, Breakfast Topics

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

Blizzard developers are out there

An interesting discussion went on in the Community Service forums yesterday concerning the role Blizzard developers play in those very forums. A poster was obviously attempting to troll and start some argument, asking if the Blizzard devs actually do read what people write or pay attention to the community at large. Kisirani, a Blizzard developer, responded that indeed they do.

A few interesting things came from subsequent blue posts that help outline the roles of the developers and community managers. First, it is the job of the community managers (CMs as we call them) to do just what their title says: manage the community. This includes the forums and everything that goes on in there. Kisirani tells us that they regularly collect feedback and suggestions and pass them along to the developers. Kisirani makes it a point to say that they don't have enough time to read everything themselves, and if they were to read everything the game itself would not be developed – and again, this is where the community managers come into play.

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Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard

Breakfast Topic: The secret lives of Blizzard employees

Tom "Kalgan" Chilton, in his interview we posted yesterday, said that one of Blizzard's class designers was the guild leader of one of the world's best known PvP guilds, but he wants to keep him anonymous. Wait, what?

Chilton meant that Blizzard has solid ties into the community, but should it worry us at all that those ties might be a little too close-knit? We already know that Jeff "Tigole" Kaplan has major ties to a guild in the game (he was actually hired by Blizzard from his Everquest raiding guild), and quest designer Alex "Furor" Afrasiabi also comes from a guild that is still active in World of Warcraft. In fact, we've already seen Blizzard get in trouble by their own admission for treating the devs' guilds differently -- is it right for them to keep their guild associations anonymous?

On the one hand, obviously it's much easier to keep the developers' ingame identities anonymous, otherwise they wouldn't be able to play the game at all without getting approached with questions and complaints every time they log on. But on the other hand, not only is there the potential for favoritism in terms of game design, but what if the PvP guild mentioned in the article was one that won an eSports or the Arena realm tournament? Is it right for Blizzard's developers to keep their guild associations anonymous?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics, Rumors

Drysc on Blizzard customer service

We are all rather critical of Blizzard at times. After all, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time in the game; especially the WoW Insider staff on patch days. We expect things to work in a certain type of way, and we expect that when we encounter a problem, things will be solved ASAP.

Nothing is wrong with these expectations we have, and indeed we should have them. After all, we want this game to be the best game possible. For many folks it's the only one they'll play. The happiness and smooth sailing in game is principally the responsibility of the customer service department at Blizzard. They're the ones to fix our issues when something goes wrong.

Drysc, one of the most visible community managers, made a wonderful post earlier this week on exactly what happens in Blizzard's support services. The full post and response are worth taking a second to read. The bullet points of his posts are as follows:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard named 3rd of 50 top developers

Game Developer magazine has done a study naming the top 50 videogame developers in the world, based on "sales and reputation data," and our favorite folks at Blizzard have been named number three on the list, just under Nintendo Kyoto (responsible for Brain Age and Wii Play) and Infinity Ward (most notable lately for Call of Duty 4), and ahead of EA, Valve, Harmonix, and Square Enix.

I tend to think this chart is weighed a little bit towards recent sales more than reputation -- as far as I know, Infinity Ward doesn't have a big enough following to actually hold a convention based on their games, and while there's no question that Nintendo has a huge fan following, I'm not sure that it's quite right to include a first party console maker on a list of developers (yes, I know Nintendo Kyoto is a studio, not the company itself, but would the average Nintendo fan on the street know the difference?). Still, lists are lists, and there's no question that all of these developers, Blizzard included, are held in the highest regard by fans of their games.

[Via Massively]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade

Onyxia is the toughest attunement in the game

Here's an interesting observation: after patch 2.4 drops, Onyxia will be the hardest attunement in the game. BT and Hyjal dropped, SSC and TK dropped, and even the Karazhan attunement got removed, so the hardest attunement now left in the game (does the AQ gate opening count as an attunement?) will be the long quest chain to attune to Onyxia's Lair.

And Blizzard is apparently OK with that. They've been back and forth on attunements since the beginning of the game. On the one hand, attuning a character to an instance like Onyxia makes things feel epic (and indeed, some people think the Alliance version, with the Stormwind reveal, is one of the best quests in the game). But putting attunements in the way just to keep players away from content clearly isn't the way to go about things.

It will be interesting, as always, to see how things change in the next expansion -- Blizzard has already said that they'd like alts to be able to benefit from attunements and reputation rewards, so odds are that while there still will be attunements of some kind, they'll be set up in such a way that once you do them one time, you won't have to do them again. And that's a pretty good balance -- players still get to experience epic content, but it never is forced into a grind where you have to jump through hoops just to get someplace the devs don't want you to be yet.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Quests, Expansions, Raiding, Leveling

Blizzard patents "BattleChat," renews Blackthorne patent

Blizzplanet has uncovered that Blizzard has apparently filed a patent for something called "BattleChat," which purports to provide "an interface for the electronic transmission of messages and data including voice, text, and message transmission." Along with the recent news that Blizzard is seeking mobile developers, Blizzplanet supposed that this means Blizz is developing a mobile application for chatting with players either in World of Warcraft or Battle.net (their online network from previous games).

It's all speculation at this point, however-- we did hear back at BlizzCon that Blizzard was planning some really interesting updates for Battle.net, so this just could be a social networking launcher/application for Blizzard's games (chat with, and play with, your friends in multiple Blizzard games at the same time). Either way, odds are Blizzard is working on something big.

And Blizzplanet also discovered that Blizzard also recently updated their Blackthorne patent as well. So if anything is going mobile, that's another good guess (seeing as the game has already been released for a few older consoles and the Game Boy Advance). If these patents are any indication, there's going to be a lot of interesting products on tap at Blizzard Entertainment.

[Thanks, Medievaldragon!]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Breakfast Topic: Design your own death knight

It's way too soon, of course, to know exactly what powers and abilities the death knights will have; the developers themselves haven't entirely decided. Only they know exactly what stage of the design process they're in, but today let's pretend that we ourselves are the designers, and now we're in the brainstorming stage of what the death knights are going to be like, how they're going to play, and how they're going to be different from other classes. What abilities would you give them and how would you balance them against the classes already available in the game?

While brainstorming ideas, keep in mind that players want the death knights to feel fresh and interesting, so they'll be wanting unique abilities other classes don't already have. At the same time, you can't make the death knight class overpowered in relation to all those other classes -- they will want to keep having fun, too, after all. So every ability you give the death knights has to have its counter in something other classes can do, like rock-scissors-paper. If you're feeling particularly professional this morning, you can go into detail about all these balance issues, or else you can just write the idea you think would be cool.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Death Knight

Strange patch note choices (or, my last Orc shoulders post ever, I swear)

I can confirm for you that yes, patch 2.2 has finally fixed our Orc male shoulders. Finally, my Orc Shaman can hold his shoulders up proudly (ok, well, a little hunched down under all the weight, but still). I know lots of you readers are tired of hearing about it, but the saga is over: our Orc shoulders have grown back. Now I'll never mention it again.

Strangely enough, however, this change didn't make the patch notes, and when players ask why, Neth sounds a little tired of talking about it herself. She says that while the change did not appear in the official 2.2 notes, "one graphical item of which has been stated as being fixed many times now, does not make it less accurate." I've wondered before who exactly writes the patch notes, and yet again I find myself wondering what the method is behind their madness. Some patch changes, including some boss tweaks, are clearly not included on purpose. Some huge changes (like the DOTs affected by resilience change) get the smallest of mentions. And some small changes very much awaited by players, like the anti-AFK measures, get quite a bit of ink.

Now, I doubt that Blizzard purposely left the Orc shoulders change off the patch notes-- they probably just didn't think it important enough to include. But surely there are things that they do leave off of the notes on purpose, and some things that the devs might not think are big, but that whoever writes the patch notes chooses to emphasize. Whatever their method behind the madness, I can't see what it is at all.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Night elves are latest shrinking shoulder casualties


First Orc males, then Draenei, and now Night Elves? It appears that Night Elf shoulders have shrunk (just a bit-- not nearly as dramatic a change as the Orc shoulders were) over on the PTRs. We talked about this on the WoW Insider show last week: what is up with Blizzard's code that changes like this are happening? What variables are they editing that makes the weird stuff like this happen?

At any rate, there is good news. Hortus says the issue is unintentional, and will be fixed in an upcoming PTR build. So your Night Elf will still be able to wear his broad shoulder pieces with pride.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Fear and how to fix it

Draele just started a blog about being a Warlock called Rantings of the Afflicted, and today he's got a post up about that most heinous of Warlock abilites: yes, none other than fear. A touchy subject (to say the least), but he offers three different suggestions on how to make fear fun for everyone.

At its base, fear is actually Blizzard's way of trying to come up with another game mechanic. If you're a veteran MMORPG player, you know there are three archetype classes-- healer, DPS, and tank. All three of them are centered around damage-- either getting rid of it, doing it, or tanking it. Fear, however, plays with none of those rules-- it's a complete damage negator. The reason Warlocks have fear is so they can wear cloth and yet stay alive for a long time against one target-- long enough for their DoTs to come in.

The problem with fear, however, as even the developers have admitted, is that it's not fun for the person being feared-- getting feared leaves you with almost no option but to sit there and do nothing. It removes control from your character, and that's never fun.

So how can we fix it?

Read more →

Filed under: Warlock, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Classes, Buffs

Blizzard giving PvE to PvP transfers to friends

The rule on transfers is that you can't start out on a PvE server, and transfer away to a PvP server. Blizzard has said that players can't fight carebear up to 70, and then jump over to gank lowbies-- if you want the ability to kill those below you, you have to be killed first.

That is, unless you're friends with the developers. Players are claiming that someone named Broodthorn has been switched from Zul'jin (a PvE server) to Black Dragonflight, a PvP server. How do we know they're the same? The old Broodthorn's Armory profile is empty, and the new one is right here. All indications are that he switched servers, sometime recently. How is this possible? Broodthorn is now in Fires of Heaven, which is the same guild that Furor used to lead in Everquest. And Furor is none other than Alex Afrasiabi, one of Blizzard's main quest designers (he appeared on the Lore and Quests panel with Chris Metzen at BlizzCon). So bottom line is that if you're a good friend of the developers, Blizzard can make anything you want happen in game, even things they've specifically said shouldn't happen.

And this isn't the first "stealth transfer" to go down, either-- supposedly, entire guilds have been transferred from server to server by Blizzard before. Sure, Blizzard has the right to do something like this (it's their game, their rules), but it's a little hypocritical (at least) to require paying customers to abide by certain rules, while moving your own guild around at will.

Update: Wow. To tell the truth, I was tending towards the camp of "it's a perk, who cares," but Nethaera is having none of it. After someone linked this post on the forums, she sez:

This transfer was based on an internal request that bypassed our checks and balances dictating how such transfers occur. Since the transfer violates our character-transfer policy, the character in question is being moved back to its originating realm, and we have imposed some additional measures to help avoid such situations in the future. We made this correction as soon as we became aware of the oversight; we appreciate everyone's attention and input on the matter.

Hardcore. Way to go Blizzard for making everyone play by the same rules. Kudos.

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, PvP

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