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Posts with tag dungeons-and-raids

Interview with Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas

At the Mists of Pandaria launch event in Irvine last week, I had the opportunity to talk to Ion Hazzikostas, lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft, about Mists of Pandaria's raids and dungeons, lessons learned from Cataclysm and beyond, and the road ahead.

WoW Insider: State your name and position!

Ion Hazzikostas: My name is Ion Hazzikostas and I am the lead encounter designer for World of Warcraft.

What does that job entail?

I'm the lead on the encounter team, which is self-explanatory; we make the dungeon and raid content, primarily. We're specialists in multiplayer PVE combat. On top of the dungeons and raids, we also help with outdoor raid bosses, scenario bosses, things like that.

What would you say that your biggest goal going into Mists of Pandaria was?

Particularly on the dungeon and raid front, to provide content for everybody, for all kinds of players. And we recognize that there's a massive spectrum of millions of people who are playing and enjoying World of Warcraft - a huge range of skill, frankly, and time commitment, the whole casual-hardcore spectrum people always talk about. And one of the things that we've been doing over the evolution of the game is to add additional difficulties, additional ways of consuming that content. So, you know, we now have LFR, normal, and heroic raids, and now we've introduced challenge modes, a sort of new tier of actually legitimately difficult five-player content. It's one of the biggest differences from Cataclysm at launch; one of the things we heard from people who were in guilds with friends and they'd say "these dungeons are awesome, we're having a lot of fun" ... but the people who queued up in Dungeon Finder would have a miserable time.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

BlizzCon 2010: Patch 4.1.0 brings enhanced dungeon maps

Cory Stockton (World of Warcraft lead content designer) announced an unexpected feature that will be coming in patch 4.1.0. It has been revealed that Blizzard is adding maps for all dungeons from Burning Crusade all the way back to classic in order to match the features that the current Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm dungeons bring with them.

The new information is that they're planning on taking those maps up a notch. Instead of just a stylized skull icon marking where the bosses are on the map, we'll be getting enhanced information about each boss encounter.

This will include a 3D portrait of the boss, a brief bit of lore about why exactly you're fighting them and a list of what all loot drops. While all that is all well and good, this is not where the new features end.

The interface will also give you a listing of what abilities each boss uses. That doesn't mean that you are given the strategy, but instead you'll be able to find out what things to look for during the encounter and react a little faster. You'll know if a debuff will be something that you must cleanse immediately or something that you'll be able to ignore for a moment while healing and then get to when you have a moment. These features will not only be for 5-man content, but will also be available in 10/25-man raids as well as heroic content.

Their reasoning behind this is two-fold. First, a lot of players already tab out to check sites like Wowhead to find out loot and boss abilities. Secondly, when presented with a new dungeon a player doesn't have to have as many things explained by the dungeon guide. We'll see how this develops when 4.1.0 starts to get closer.

BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, BlizzCon

WoW Insider Show Episode 108: Don't get your hopes up

We taped our podcast a little early this week, on Wednesday night, and rather than having you wait all the way until Monday for it (not to mention that Pirates' Day will gone by then), we figured we'd post it up for you today). Matt "Matticus" Low was kind enough to join us (he writes the Spiritual Guidance and Raid Rx columns), and while Turpster was on a business trip, he did end up making it to provide us with his usual sparkling insight. We talked about that wacky 2v2 team rating and what it means for Blizzard's Arena system, the Abyssal Maw and what else we've heard about Cataclysm's dungeons and raids, and whether being in a guild really can calm you down (Matt, our only guildleader on the show, says no).

And as usual we answered your emails (including why Gamestop claims to know Cataclysm's release date) and chatted live with listeners, and you can listen to the show at any of the links below. Haven't subscribed to iTunes yet? Why not? Not only do you get the show automatically every week, but you can also leave us a rating and a review in iTunes, and we appreciate every single one. We'll be back a week from Saturday (on the 26th) at the usual time (and between you and me, we've got some nice guests planned for the next few shows, too!), so we'll see you then.

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Filed under: Podcasts, Podcasting, Virtual selves, Guilds, Instances, Humor, Lore, WoW Insider Show, Cataclysm

WWI '08 Notes from the Dungeons & Raids Panel part 4

11:31 AM: CoT: The Culling of Stratholme. Player response to CoT was overwhelming, allowing players to play through story rather than just read it. CoT: Stratholme located in CoT, Tanaris. Removing faction requirement on CoT teleport. Level 80 instance. Scripted experience, similar to Old Hillsbrad. Experience "The Culling" mission from Warcraft 3 in the WoW universe.

Fight alongside Arthas (before he falls to the Lich King) to see how Stratholme fell, what exactly went on with Arthas to get him where he is today. Really want players to get to see more of Arthas. Timed encounters, some completely new things. Non-linear. You're actually in Stratholme, used a good portion of the original Strat dungeon, looks and feels as you would expect and tried to stick as close to lore as humanly possible. Using original voiceover acting from Warcraft 3.

11:35 AM: Infinite Dragonflight storyline from TBC will be continued in Stratholme, popular storyline, this was the perfect place to do it.

11:37 AM: Entrance in CoT similar to other dungeons, entrance reflects Lordaeron art and Strat style buildings. Plaguewood transformed. Really wanted city to feel alive, on the brink of something bad but feeling that the city was fully functioning, player arrives at a crucial moment.

11:39 AM: Player Q&A. Will there be a change in legendary drops? Atiesh-style or random drops?

A: For the most part they like the Atiesh style. Sometimes they have to deliver content and don't have time to implement quests like that hence simplified drop system. Case-by-case basis.

Q: Attunements lifted in TBC. Any in WotLK, or just gear checks?

A: Plan to reduce any complexity on attunements, don't plan to add new attunements to dungeons/heroics and entry level Naxxramas, will still have an attunement path once you get into raiding that takes you to the end but goal to make sure it's simple to understand and not as complicated as the attunements TBC shipped with.

Q: Wipe management - will there be closer graveyards, shorter run times through dungeons?

A: Yes, definitely something we constantly think about. We play all the dungeons too. If we feel like something's too far we'd move it. In most cases the distance of graveyard is based on difficulty, want to make sure there's some price for death, but not too annoying.

Q: Being a hardcore raider, you could see content that not a lot of people can see. With 10-man dungeons being the same as 25, will you reward hardcore raiders beyond just loot?

A: Want to make sure 25-mans feel like the pinnacle of raiding, hence the one tier loot separation, so you know for sure someone's done that raid, they'll wear different gear. Titles is something we're looking into working more with, titles from kills, title just from being able to get into one specific area. Definitely aren't trying to merge the two, like the first kills, videos etc. Want to keep that feeling, if you get that first kill it feels great for you.

Q: Will there be an expansion of the token system or will loot be randomly determined?

A: Don't plan to move away from token system but some of the randomness can be alleviated by simply dropping more loot.

Q: With all this talk of heroics, there are some people who can't even manage normal dungeons, is there any idea of bringing in new dungeons for them?

A: I don't think you're alone. There are a lot of players who find that first 5-man a barrier to entry, it's something we've been talking about a lot. We're not going to make everything easier but we do want to make things more accessible. It might not mean a creature is easier to kill but easier to understand, easier for new players to learn advanced techniques.

That's the end of the panel, some interesting developments in the pipeline for all levels of raiding. Keep checking back for more invitational live coverage throughout the day!
WoW Insider is on the ground in Paris at the Blizzard Invitational bringing you the big announcements and latest Wrath news as it happens. Check out our latest coverage!

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Worldwide Invitational

WWI '08 Notes from the Dungeons & Raids Panel part 2

11:01 AM: Lessons from TBC. A big project, heroics were an interesting tuning problem, hard enough to be a challenge but easy enough that people just starting out could do them. Were a great success. But too hard, want to make them more accessible. Don't want e.g. lacking a prot spec tank, holy priest, etc to bar people from doing heroics. Should be available to more players, open up to different classes and groups.

Some dungeons were too long. Took longer than they planned. Like to keep dungeons to ~1 hour long. Not their intention to have players stuck in dungeon in 3 hours. Going to really check length before releasing new dungeons.

Quests did not feel as connected as they should (kill end boss/kill 10 creatures). Really trying to allow dungeon quests to have interesting goals. Gundrak is cumulation of a long questline encompassing the whole zone. You know why you're killing the endboss, and what the outcome will be, connects players to dungeons beyond killing bosses for loot. More of an impact on the world.

Summoning changes worked out great. Stones/warlocks summoning into instance (audience applauds). Main reason was to remove barrier to entry to dungeons that were annoying to get to. Wanted to make it convenient.

Patch order. Has an impact on what players have available to do, have to make sure things feel right when releasing patch. They wanted to get Black Temple out asap so Zul'Aman ended up being released later, probably would have been better to deliver ZA first since most players weren't ready for BT but keen for 10-man content. Learned that lesson with WotLK. Arthas is final endgame boss so delivering content in the order they thinks works best for the players, whether that's a new 5-man, raid etc.

11:07 AM: Naxxramas... Again? Audience cheers; 'that's about the same way we feel about Naxxramas'. Huge labour of love. Always felt it was a dungeon that WoW needed. Most players never got to experience it because of the release timing. Loot was still really great but TBC superceded it. Made sense to come back to it and give everyone a chance to experience it. 10-man accessible. Extremely proud, want everyone to play it.

Lore-wise Naxx fits in perfectly, with Arthas/Northrend, history behind Naxx lends itself well to being a part of WotLK and something players can get into really early. Chance to retune it and make it even better. Huge dungeon with a ton of bosses, over 15 bosses in one raid dungeon, non-linear (wings) giving players a lot of choice.

11:10 AM: Itemisation. PvP gear will be available through PvE as well as PvP. Spirit shard system. Players that want to get started in arenas who love dungeons can get started through PvE. Won't be the best gear, but will give you a chance. More items per boss kill in 25 player raids. More items desired by more classes, big project. Trying to remove unnecessary stats because there are too many different types of loot, what if a ret paladin item drops and you don't have one? Merge some of the stats so that items will work across a group of ~3 different classes. Players can get loot that's more useful and accessible, killing a boss feels better.

11:12 AM: Recipe drops, pretty rare right now. Specific plans only drop off one boss at really low drop rate. Doesn't mean they won't put unique plans on hard to reach bosses but want most plans to be accessible, earlier bosses, easier dungeons. Might not feel like such a grind to get that one rare pattern.

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Worldwide Invitational

WWI '08 Notes from the Dungeons & Raids Panel

At the Worldwide Invitational, the Dungeons and Raids panel is about to begin. We'll be bringing you updates on the anatomy of dungeons and raids straight from Blizzard's mouths, and of course any tidbits of information about dungeons and raids to come, all after the jump. Stay tuned!

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Raiding, Wrath of the Lich King, Worldwide Invitational

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