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Posts with tag development

Encrypted Text: Words from the wise

Every Wednesday, Chase Christian of Encrypted Text invites you to enter the world of shadows, as we explore the secrets and mechanics of the Rogue class. This week, an interview with acclaimed Rogue theorycrafter Vulajin.

If you have ever been to the Rogue section of the Elitist Jerks forums, chances are good that you've read one of the amazing posts by Vulajin of Mal'Ganis. His Roguecraft spreadsheet and Rogue PvE DPS discussion thread are amongst my most treasured resources. Still very active in the community, he's been involved in some of the recent work concerning boss crit depression and a possible change in a Rogue's chance to miss.

I had an opportunity this week to sit down with the very intelligent and self-effacing Vulajin and talk about a few different topics, and I wanted to share some of that discourse with you today. We talked a great deal about the current Rogue hotness that is Honor Among Thieves and also concerning the impact that we as players can make upon the design of WoW in the future.

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Filed under: Rogue, Raiding, Classes, Talents, Interviews, (Rogue) Encrypted Text, Wrath of the Lich King

Forum post of the day: They know their lore

The Warcraft storyline has come a long way since Orcs and Humans. Bobbyjeh of Aman'Thul asked how Blizzard maintains their "seemingly endless lore and story arc. Nethaera responded that the company has a Historian on staff as well as an expanding department dedicated to lore. They cover all three of the major Blizzard universes. They help to keep continuity in the game and keeps things interesting for our resident Lore Nerd.

While I was doing the quest chain for my Swift Flight Form, I wondered to myself. What does someone who's been asleep for so long know about Outland? I've often wondered how it is that new Draenei characters all crashed "one month ago." As some pointed out, there has been some discontinuity in the Warcraft Universe. But Blizzard does a pretty good job of keeping their story straight. No stranger than C3PO saying, "Thank the maker," when technically, Darth Vader is the maker. We accept these plot holes and move on.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

PTR closed with a thank you from the blues

Bornakk and Maaven posted a thank you note to everyone in the Public Test Realm (PTR) forums this afternoon. The PTRs are now closed since patch 3.0.2 is coming out tomorrow. It was an interesting note in that it made sure to mention all of the feedback that they've gotten.

The feedback for this patch (and Wrath of the Lich King in general) has been different from previous times. There has been a ton of constructive, well thought out posts on the official forums about all the changes. Often times they've attracted the attention of Lead Class Designer, Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler), and the discussion that results from such series of posting are quite enlightening and entertaining.

So no more PTR, a nice little thank you from Blizzard, and a whole lotta patch to look forward to tomorrow.

Filed under: Patches, News items

New details on upcoming 3.x patches

Curse is running an excellent story about their time spent last evening with Blizzard developers Jeff Kaplan and Tom Chilton. There's a few things we didn't know before that are in the article. The major ones are:
  • Patch 3.1 is already done (says Kaplan). Will release Ulduar 10-man and 25-man raids.
  • Patch 3.2 will contain a yet to be announced raid instance. Hopefully more on this over the next two day. Release date / timeframe is unknown.
  • Patch 3.3 will continue the Ashbringer storyline. Release date / timeframe is unknown.
  • Dance studio to be released after WotLK.
  • Guild ratings, where guilds get a rating based on PvE/PvP achievements. The idea is being "tossed around."
The other interesting note is that the development team is three patch cycles ahead of the live game. That's amazing, in my opinion. And beyond that, they're also working on the next expansion. Doesn't that raise your eyebrow just a bit? Perhaps we'll hear something major in the next few hours...
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, News items, BlizzCon

Forum post of the day: Mobile love

Recently, rumors have been spreading about a mobile application for WoW. Blizzard has been trying to get some information through a series of mobile service polls on the forums. Bornakk began a poll regarding the number of times forum users have downloaded games or applications for cellular devices. In the cellular era, Blizzard appears to be making our favorite MMORPG more mobile friendly.

Many of the posters indicated that they have the latest in smartphones and thus are constantly adding new aps. This will likely encourage Blizzard to provide better mobile support. This will be handy considering that they have been resistant to third party mobile applications.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Forums, Hardware, Rumors, Forum Post of the Day

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.

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

Have faith. Paladin changes are coming.

The Paladin class hasn't gotten much love from Blizzard from what we've seen so far in the development of the Wrath of the Lich King. Of all the class updates delivered during the recently concluded Worldwide Invitational in Paris, France, the Paladin was one of two classes (the other was the Mage) that didn't receive much by way of news. On the other hand, leaked information from the Alpha revealed some new whopper spells for Mages, including cool and explosive (literally) 51-point talents. Hunters don't have new talents yet, either, but the exciting news is that in WotLK, their pets will.

From out of the blue.
But good things come to those who wait. Tipster Delsin helped shed some Light on the slow development pace by linking to what is purportedly a forum discussion with Ghostcrawler, a developer of the new expansion. The responses from the blue were supposedly sprinkled over a couple of weeks, with the first and oldest post revealing little we didn't already know. It detailed the design directive the developers were taking, noting four important points:
  • Retribution Paladins need to have better utility in raids
  • Holy Paladins shouldn't feel so punished during encounters which require lots of movement
  • Protection Paladins need to be great tanks not only for 5-person content but also for raids; at the same time, all four tanking classes should maintain their niche
  • Paladins, more than any other class, need diverse sets of gear depending on their spec and role. Itemization is being fixed across the board to make it easier for healers and tanks to do damage without needing a whole new set of gear
These key points illustrate that Blizzard has a good grasp of what plagues the class, and is moving in the right direction. In two more responses in the same thread, the developers explain why the Paladin developments are taking so long and the issues they're looking at. Read more after the break.

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

Screenshot confirms that Diablo III is "Hydra"

Reader Oleg was kind enough to send along this Diablo III screenshot, which he found over on Blizzard's main site about the new game they announced this weekend. As you can see up in the corner, the game's internal code name apparently was Hydra, so that answers the question we posted way back in September of last year about someone overhearing the name "Hydra" being bounced around the Austin GDC.

And we also know now, of course, that Diablo III isn't an MMO, which means that Blizzard still has at least one secret project running: that next-gen MMO that we've been told about via job listings. Unfortunately, we probably won't hear much about it for a while -- unless Blizzard wants to ramp up their production, three titles at once is a lot for them to work on, and even at BlizzCon later this year, we don't really expect to see a new game announcement (although they might use the occasion, if Wrath really is released by then, to announce the next planned expansion).

Still, that's one mystery solved. Maybe we'll overhear another codename this year in Anaheim, and the rumor wheel can start spinning up yet again.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, Screenshots, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors, Worldwide Invitational

Development servers in live?

With the game updated to patch 2.4, and the servers "scheduled" (I use the term loosely) to come online in 15 minutes, I'm presented with a nice little server selection box when I log in. Complete with a new location (Blizzard's catogorization, not mine) to choose: "Development."

What is this?

When clicking the name I'm not seeing anything different. It still shows the realms off line. In fact, it's the only option. Now my memory isn't completely clear here, as it's something I've always just clicked on, but for my U.S. account the options there have always been "United States" and "Oceanic." So what's this new tag about? The only time I've seen this has been on the PTR.

I have a few guesses.

First, and quite likely the most plausible explanation, is that it is an artifact of the servers being upgraded. Blizzard takes the servers down, the put them into a special mode, and they update them as needed. That could be all this tag is about.

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Filed under: Realm News, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

Blizzard's internal tools need an upgrade

Susana of Hyjal speculates about something I've thought about a few times before -- just what exactly are Blizzard's internal development tools like? Most games that have mapmakers can churn out new maps pretty rapidly, but we've had the same BG maps for years now, and only one or two per year since then. And even the created maps aren't fixed easily, apparently -- a few map tweaks on WSG would probably fix the turtling problem, but Blizzard instead is tweaking the rules to fix things. Just what is Blizzard using to make their game that they take so long with development?

To be fair, the rules here are a little more complicated than most first-person shooters (since you can do a lot more than just shoot at each other), so obviously the maps would presumably be a little more complicated as well. But in the age when players have access to the Neverwinter Nights toolset and even the Forge on Halo 3, surely it's a little crazy that Blizzard takes months to release one map, when other great games can pump out whole packs of them in the same time.

Now, this is WoW Insider, so it's ok if you're a Blizzard apologist. It's fine for you to say "Blizzard has the biggest game in the world not despite the fact that they're so slow, but because of it," and it's fine for you to be a fanboy/girl and say you'd rather wait three years for a Blizzard-quality Arathi Basin than play a whole "Hidden Fronts" pack. And the truth is that when Blizzard does release content, they don't disappoint. But we're still left wondering just why, after doing this for so long and having so much practice at it, it still takes them so long to do it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Battlegrounds, Arena

Rob Pardo to speak at the 2008 Game Developers Conference

The 2008 Game Developers Conference is underway in San Francisco right now, and this means there should be quite a bit of gaming news and juicy bites to report on in the next few days. Blizzard's own Rob Pardo is there as a featured speaker, participating in a panel on the future of MMORPGs and giving a talk on Blizzard's approach to multiplayer gaming design. Hopefully that means we might even get a few pieces of new information about Warcraft and the expansion, or even beyond.

Our colleagues at Massively will be watching the whole conference closely, as will we, and we'll be sure to keep you up to date if Blizzard drops any bombshells of the Lich King variety or otherwise.

And speaking of conference news, Gamespot's posted more video coverage of the DICE 08 Summit, including Blizzard's presentation, which you can watch here.

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard's "Next-Gen MMO" project continues

Back in April we noticed that Blizzard had some interesting job openings on their web site. Specifically, they were looking for Lead Engine Programmer, a Lead Tools Programmer, and a Lead Technical Artist, all for what was only identified as a "Next-Gen MMO." And while we have no official news from Blizzard, we can follow this mystery game's development by keeping an eye on the job opportunities available at Blizzard. Recently, they've started looking for a Senior Graphics Programmer, a Senior Tools Programmer, a Lead 3D Character Artist, and a Lead 3D Environment Artist for their "Next-Gen MMO." (Hydra?) Whatever the project is, its development must be progressing as the team grows.

[Thanks, minimoose!]

Filed under: Blizzard

WoW Under Development page (finally) updated

If you've been keeping up with the news here on WoW Insider, you already know the information that has been updated on the WoW Under Development page. But it's nice to see it in black and parchment.

Under Almost Ready, Blizzard lists the highlights of Patch 2.2: Voice Chat, Mac Movie Capture and the Improved Chat Interface. They also include a link to the current PTR Patch notes. These changes will be released in the next major patch, which unfortunately looks like it will be a while.

The Coming Soon section lists things that will be in upcoming patches, presumably before the expansion. They don't link to any further official info for this section, but I've provided links to WoW Insider details:
The On the Horizon section is all about Wrath of the Lich King. The highlights they list are the new level cap, Inscription, Northrend, Death Knights and Character Customization. For more info, they link to the official WotLK website.

I was hoping for more official info on the Coming Soon topics -- and something more than just 3 items. I don't expect the expansion to be here for another year, so an official sneak preview of some more of the free goodies we're going to get in the meantime would be nice.

What are you most looking forward to being added to the game before the expansion? Or will nothing satisfy you except for new hairstyles, ten new levels and another continent?

Filed under: Patches, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard reveals new unannounced game in development

In an exclusive interview with Gamasutra, Blizzard revealed they have 3 development teams hard at work on games. WoW has 135 developers, Starcraft II's team has 40 members and a third unannounced title has a team of 40 members. Frank Pearce, Blizzard's Senior Vice President of Product Development, said "Team 3 is working on something really awesome. I can't give you any hints but it's totally awesome."

Be still my beating heart. Of course, the speculation on the forums has begun and Blizzard CM Tigerclaw is fanning the flames:

When our awesome new World War II first person shooter ships, you'll all be saying "aw why didn't I see that coming!"

A few players suggested that World of Tacocraft is on the horizon. Tigerclaw ran with the idea:

You could have power-ups and add-ons, like you could wrap the taco in an authentic Chicago-style pizza... maybe even dip it in batter and then deep fry it til it's golden brown... That's what I call a Taco!

Personally, I would like to see Diablo 3 or another MMO on the horizon. Hopefully, they will tell us more at Blizzcon, but Blizzard is notoriously reticent with this kind of information, so I'm not holding my breath.

What new game would you like to see from Blizzard? Do you think they'll tell us at Blizzcon? Would you eat a deep fried, pizza wrapped taco?

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard answers development priorities question

Bloodsong asked the following on the General Discussion Forums today:

WoW or Starcraft 2? Balancing classes or creating new content? Raiding or PvP?
Professions or transportation? Next patch or next expansion? New races or new classes? New zones or new quests?

Bloodsong's questions are timely. People are leaving WoW and those that are staying would like to know what to look forward to. Yes, Blizzcon is coming up, and we will find out more about upcoming development then -- but we are impatient.

CM Nethaera responded:

World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2 are being developed by different but equally dedicated teams.

Everything else goes hand in hand since they are all interconnected.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

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