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Posts with tag j-allen-brack

Joystiq interviews J. Allen Brack



Intrepid reporter and all-around cool guy Kevin Kelly over at Joystiq scored an interview with J. Allen Brack during the festivities at BlizzCon 2009. Just in case you're not aware, J. Allen Brack is the lead producer for our beloved World of Warcraft, having joined the team back in 2005. Kevin's a pretty smart cookie, and managed to get some great insight into the game from Brack. The interview's worth a full read, but there's a lot of insight that's worth spending some time talking about.

It's not any surprise that Brack told Kevin that there's no end in sight for WoW, and that he expects the game to survive at least another 10 years. But Brack immediately followed up by saying that Blizzard has changed the way they view the franchise novels recently. Back in the day, it seems, they just let authors go wild. "Go off and create a kind of story in the world," Brack told Kevin. Now, however, it seems like the creative team is spending more time trying to make sure the novels reflect what they plan in the game, as well as vice versa.

Brack confirmed that Blizzard still keeps an eye on what other games are doing, and will bring that into the World of Warcraft by giving it their own take. That comment reminded me of the discussion about upcoming Fishing changes in Cataclysm, and how the new fishing system was inspired by Animal Crossing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Interviews, BlizzCon

Battle.net conversion to become mandatory soon


In an interview over at Slashdot, J. Allen Brack, Lead Producer of WoW, spoke about the Battle.net conversion that's going on and how it will apply to WoW. One of the more important things he said was:
We have optional Battle.net conversion right now, but that will be mandatory at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Many people have done the conversion already, and many speculated and inferred from past Blizzard comments that the conversion would eventually become mandatory. But now it looks like it's going to be, and that date is in the "not-too-distant future."

The conversion process is relatively straight forward, and can be started by visiting your account management page. There have been times when Battle.net enabled accounts were not able to get into the game due to authentication issues, but those seem to be diminishing.

We'll be sure to keep you updated on any additional announcements concerning the upcoming mandatory conversion

Filed under: Realm News, Realm Status, News items, BlizzCon

GDC Austin will feature a Blizzard keynote

The Game Developers Conference Austin, a spin-off of the original GDC in California, takes place every year in Austin, TX (home of our own fearless leader, Liz Harper). GDC is, as the name suggests, an industry conference for folks who make games. This year it's going to be held from September 15 to 18th, and it'll feature a keynote about our favorite MMO.

J. Allen Brack, Blizzard's Production Director (was that his title last month?), and Frank Pearce, Co-Founder and EVP of Product Development (that's a title for you), will be on hand to talk about "The Universe of World of Warcraft." I assume the discussion will include topics like "how to print money" and "how to secretly laugh at Shamans all day." So who's going?

Filed under: Events, Blizzard, News items

BlizzCon Flashback: The Panels of BlizzCon 2008

Tickets are sold out for the day, and most of us are probably a little angry, but don't forget! There's another day of ticket sales on the 30th! If you haven't made your decision on whether you want to go or not yet, you're running out of time and it's probably a good time to look back on the BlizzCon that was. BlizzCon 2008 lacked any major World of Warcraft announcements, Blizzard's other franchises stole the spotlight last year, but that doesn't mean WoW wasn't there in spades. Let's take a moment to look back on that, shall we?
The Opening Ceremonies
BlizzCon 2008 kicked off with the opening ceremonies, hosted by Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. Morhaime delivered many facts and figures about the World of Warcraft at the time (if WoW were a country, it would be the 75th largest in the world), and announced a new class for Diablo III: The Wizard.

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Filed under: BlizzCon

The Queue: How do you make that weird U thing?

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Adam called yesterday's edition of The Queue 'the Extreme edition,' but I'm of the opinion he didn't quite follow through. So I'm posting something extreme to make up for it, which you can see in the video above. Extreme. If you don't feel it's extreme enough, feel free to post your extreme links in the comments below with your usual questions, as long as the links are safe for work (and sanity.)

Eternauta asked...


I have a question, too. I know it's pretty stupid and obvious, but here I go: Why is everybody DPS and why is it so hard to find healers or tanks?

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Filed under: Fishing, Analysis / Opinion, Lore, The Queue

Jeff Kaplan leaving World of Warcraft

Jeff Kaplan In a surprise announcement this afternoon, World of Warcraft's Game Director Jeff Kaplan (whom you may know from the forums as "Tigole," and whom those of you with a longer memory may remember as the guild leader of Legacy of Steel back in the EverQuest days) is leaving the WoW team to work on a their unannounced MMO. (What this means for how far along that project is it's hard to say -- are they perhaps bringing in a solid game designer because they're just now getting things started? Or to polish off the finishing touches?) Says Kaplan of his time with the World of Warcraft team:

I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I've switched roles here at Blizzard to work on our upcoming, unannounced MMO. World of Warcraft has been such a central part of my life these past six and a half years, and it's success would not have been possible without the tremendous community around it, so I wanted to say thank you to all our players who've shared this amazing experience with us so far.

World of Warcraft isn't going anywhere, however, as the rest of the team is remaining in place, including Kaplan's "partners in crime" Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack.

Mr. Kaplan, while we haven't always agreed with you, we'll certainly miss having you around. And, since you're going, we have to ask... can we have your stuff?

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Blizzcast episode 7 released


Episode 7 of Blizzcast, Blizzard's official podcast, came out this afternoon; it's been a couple of months since the last episode. This time, they did a little bit of a "WotLK Wrap-Up" with J. Allen Brack and Jeff Kaplan, as well as some chatting with Chris Metzen, the creative head, about what's been going on in various aspects of the story. Here are the parts I found most interesting:
  • When the development on the original WoW was getting wrapped up, Outland and Northrend were both in the running for the first expansion. They decided the timing was better to do Outland first.
  • There were three front runners for the hero class to appear in LK:
    • Necromancer, a ranged caster with corpse explode and such. Some of this ended up getting incorporated into Death Knight
    • Rune master: "think rogue or monk type character"
    • And, of course, Death Knight.
  • JAB thinks "the first month has really validated that decision" to go with 10- and 25-man raiding.

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Filed under: Podcasting, Blizzard

The Queue: Pandapocalypse


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.

On Friday I responded to a question regarding Pandaren, and it turns out I'm about half wrong. Partially right, but also partially wrong, which is certainly a problem. My answer was based off of something I talked about with a random Blizzard employee, but in hindsight that's a pretty poor move on my part, they wouldn't necessarily know the little inner workings of one or two departments within the company. What I said was refuted with quotes from J. Allen Brack and Chris Metzen, which I'm willing to put more weight in as far as game lore goes. The Chinese did, indeed, have a problem with the Pandaren being in-game.

I was right in that there are no laws against virtual pandas getting shivved or whatever, but there definitely was an issue with the Pandaren race, culturally. It's much more likely it just ran into a lot of friction when it came down to dealing with censors and the cultural shift, and it became not worth it to risk losing players over. I'm sure the fact that the Pandarens' original design was much more Japanese (see above) than Chinese didn't help, but that was shifted in the right direction eventually and may not have had an actual impact at all. And with that said...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Lore, The Queue

Detroit Free Press talks to J. Allen Brack about what's new in Wrath

WoW's lead producer J. Allen Brack (who we spoke with back at BlizzCon) is making the rounds -- he was on the radio this morning at Dallas' Live 105.3 (thanks to everyone who sent that in), and earlier, he spoke with the Detroit Free Press about how WoW became so incredibly popular and what Blizzard is doing with the game's second expansion. There are even a few spoilers in there, about how phasing is used in the game, and a few different situations that haven't yet been covered later on in Northrend.

Brack also confirms that Blizzard ripped off Xbox Live's achievements system, which we all knew, but that's what makes it so much fun. He says that achievements will likely be included in the Armory eventually, but all we get is a chuckle and a "stay tuned." And finally, he says Blizzard was amazed by how well players took to vehicle play in the game -- while that was only planned for a few places, when they saw how much players loved it, they really took off with it. The bombing runs, he says, were one of the most popular things in Burning Crusade, so they went for that feel again in quite a few places inside Wrath of the Lich King.

Nice interview -- good to see how excited Blizzard is to get this content out to players. The Free Press also has a review of the expansion (glowing, naturally), and a quick story about how people are taking off work in Michigan just to play it. And of course, all of it just leads to one conclusion: we can't wait.

Filed under: Blizzard, Quests, Leveling, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Paid character customization on the horizon

I was one of those people who got really excited about the idea of changeable hairstyles way back when they were first announced. Ever since then I've been daydreaming about how I would get to modify my character's appearance, albeit in a limited way: Blizzard seemed to think that faces and skin colors should be unchangeable -- otherwise the Barber Shop would feel too much like a Plastic Surgeon.

But now, it looks like one day there will be nothing we can't change about our characters except their race and class (and gender). In a small BlizzCon '08 press conference about WoW and Diablo 3, Production Director J. Allen Brack (whom we interviewed recently), mentioned that one day even the skin and face of your characters would be customizable through some sort of paid change, akin to changing your character's name, perhaps. They haven't worked out any details yet, but it certainly does look promising.

I have no idea why they'd charge real money for it, or how much it would cost, but as long as it's not too expensive (around $5 dollars maybe?) I think it's something I'd go for. I'd like to change my draenei hunter's skin color and facial expression, even though what I have now is already nice enough. Sometimes it's just nice to have a change every now and then. What about you? Is it the sort of thing you'd pay real money for? How much would be too much?

[via G4TV, and reader Anthony with the tip]

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items, Expansions, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King

BlizzCon 2008: WoW Insider interviews J. Allen Brack

Here at BlizzCon, we just got to sit down with the head honcho of our favorite game, J. Allen Brack, lead producer of World of Warcraft. And the biggest surprise of the interview wasn't a nice tidbit about the future of WoW (and its battlegrounds) or how class changes are made, though we did talk about both of those things. No, the biggest piece of news we got out of him is that he loves WoW Insider -- he told us that Blizzard is paying close attention to what not just us bloggers but you commenters are saying on this site, and that the community plays almost as big a part in directing the game's development as the developers themselves do.

But the WoW Insider love didn't stop us from grilling him on what's next for the Wrath release and the game beyond. We talked about what changes Blizzard aims to make to battlegrounds, what kind of ideas Brack and his team have for after the second expansion, and even what he wants WoW to do that it hasn't yet. And yes, we got the story on dance studios, and why we won't be cutting a jig quite yet in Wrath.

Click the link below to check out our exclusive interview with J. Allen Brack.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Interviews, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard doesn't hate consoles, it's just a square peg and a round hole

We love diversity when it comes to controlling our WoW time. There's a seemingly infinite sea of AddOns and custom UI options. You can even hook up a treadmill, and simulate your character running in live action. However, except for a few custom hacks, like rigging your Wii up to control your character's direction, WoW is not playable on your console gaming device.

There's always been quite a few folks who'd like to be able to play WoW on their Xbox or Playstation. But, according to J. Allen Brack in an interview with VideoGamer.com, that's not going to happen any time soon. "World of Warcraft is designed as a PC game," Brack said. "It's designed to have a keyboard and a mouse. So the controls and the control scheme that you have are very PC centric. If you think about mapping those controls and all those different type of buttons that you have to a console without a keyboard for chatting, it's a very challenging proposition."

I think that makes a lot of sense. When you talk about keybinds, control combinations using the Shift and Alt keys, mouse buttons, Addons, customization -- it just seems like an awful lot to try and cram onto a Xbox controller. To even make it feasible, it seems like you'd have to add some kind of keyboard to the device. And even then, AddOn customization wouldn't be the same.

Tom Chilton summed it up by saying "It's just more like a square peg round hole thing for our game. "

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

Chilton content to endorse multi-boxing

Belfaire already explained previously that Blizzard's okay with the idea of multi-boxing, whether it's for PvE use or even to compete in the Arena. In the same Eurogamer interview that discusses the new phasing technology, Tom Chilton reinforces that Blizzard is "content to endorse multi-boxing to some reasonable degree."

Eurogamer was focused on the possible abuses of Blizzard's Recruit-a-Friend program, and the speed with which players can create and level new accounts. Chilton says that if someone wants to drop the bucks on a new account -- not only the retail fees, but also the subscription cost -- then Blizzard's okay with that.

J. Allen Brack immediately brings the discussion back to a point I've previously made -- the idea is really to help players get ready for the new expansion. You can bring in a friend or family, and get them to a level where they can play with other friends very quickly. They want new players to be able to "roll a Death Knight and be ready to go."

Now, Chilton did say the endorsement only goes to a "reasonable degree." I suspect if we see vast abuse of multi-boxing in multiple areas of play, the endorsement might quickly be repealed or re-focused. But, for now at least, Chilton has confirmed Belfaire's statement -- Blizzard's okay with multi-boxing.

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

Brack clarifies graphical update plans

We heard just last week that J. Allen Brack said Blizzard was definitely considering a graphical overhaul for WoW in the future (something players have been asking about for a while), and now WorldofWar has asked Brack to clarify exactly what's going on with the game's graphics. And he's answered. He says that Blizzard's approach to updating the game's graphics will likely be very different than other games' attempts -- they want to do it organically and iteratively rather than all in one go.

Which follows with what's happened already -- Burning Crusade got a few tweaks and upgrades, and Wrath has its own. Not only will they implement that shader system we heard about way back, but the shadows for each model ingame will be updated (and real-time, very cool), and Blizzard is increasing the view distance (to help out with vehicular combat, we hope?). But other changes, Brack says, will come in waves, not all at once.

He does mention an upgrade of how the water in the game looks, though of course he doesn't say when that might happen, only that Blizzard is looking at it. But it seems like a pretty sure bet not to expect an upcoming content patch to be "the graphical update patch." Blizzard is improving the way the world looks, but they're doing it one step at a time.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Screenshots

Blizzard says MMOs might work on consoles, but not WoW

Here's one more interview with the folks at Blizzard from Leipzig today -- play.tm sat down with J. Allen Brack and Tom Chilton during their interview marathon to chat more about Wrath of the Lich King and our favorite game. Unfortunately, with all the talking they've been doing lately, there's a little reptition -- we hear again that the game will provide content for both hardcore and casual players, and they mention a possible graphical overhaul again.

Their answers about the "biggest advancement" in Wrath are interesting though -- Brack says that he thinks the fact that they're introducing a new class to the game for the first time has been the biggest design challenge so far. Chilton is excited about the achievements (as am I) -- they should provide a lot of new ways for players to extend their gameplay and get rewarded for new accomplishments.

They also talk about a few things players don't usually associate with MMOs: social networks and consoles. Brack says that both are possibilities for Blizzard, though consoles wouldn't really work with World of Warcraft as we know it. Any MMO, they say, for consoles would have to be designed from the ground up to work with the hardware, and that's not something (including the next-gen MMO, we assume) that Blizzard is working on at the moment.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Leveling, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

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