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Posts with tag jeff-kaplan

Blizzard looks back at the Molten Core

This weekend, Blizzard has begun a new series of blogs revisiting old raid content. Penned by community manager Daxxari, the first installment of Re-visiting Heroism's Past takes a look at Molten Core. Daxxari's guide includes a list of bosses, their most interesting drops, the battle pets added in the more recent past, and other tips for relative beginners to the game.

Interesting to veteran players and game historians is the mouseover links in the post which provide tidbits of Molten Core history. Long-time players already know of the auction house shenanigans that occurred with Baron Geddon's Living Bomb, but it may be new information to discover that Molten Core nearly failed to make the final cut in World of Warcraft. According to the post, developers finished the dungeon in a single week, with Jeff Kaplan handling spawning and creature placement, Scott Mercer designing the bosses, Bob Fitch designing the loot, and Pat Nagle creating the Hydraxis questline. Molten Core was originally conceived as a single room where players would face Ragnaros. Everything else came much later.

Filed under: News items

Breakfast Topic: Which Warcraft moment would make a great cutscene?


Earlier this month, an interview was conducted with Jeff Kaplan by Phil Kollar of Game Informer where they talked shop about World of Warcraft. One of the items that piqued my interest was that a new cutscene was being included in patch 3.3. I'm sure we can guess that it has something to do with Icecrown Citadel (and Arthas).

I know the Wrathgate cinematic itself was a big hit. Blizzard is certainly no stranger to creating movies. There's the Ulduar trailer, the Call of the Crusade trailer, and the Fall of the Lich king trailer.

Remember the Sunwell Plateau? That one is my favorite out of them all.

I'm sure there will be new cinematics to come. But if you could pick a moment in the game, what would you like to see in cinematic form?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Blizzard developers to speak at GDC 2010

Following the pattern held in previous years, Blizzard will again be loaning out some of their top developers for panels at this year's Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, CA. WoW's former Lead Producer Jeff Kaplan, a.k.a. Tigole, presented the keynote speech at last year's GDC, and this year two top developers will be on tap to give horribly esoteric panels.

Brian Schwab, Blizzard's Senior AI/Gameplay Engineer, will be presenting a lecture on AI architecture ...

"AI programmers rarely use a pure architecture such as a State Machine, Planner, or Behavior Tree in isolation. Rather, several symbiotic architectures are mashed together, resulting in an overall architecture that is unique and powerful in its own way. This lecture is designed as a series of three mini-lectures where you will hear about several mashed up AI architectures along with intriguing lessons and insights."

... and Erin Catto, Blizzard's Principle Software Engineer, will be presenting a workshop on physics engines.

"This one-day tutorial continues the 10-year tradition of the Math for Programmers and Physics for Programmers tutorials by bringing together some of the best presenters in gaming physics. Over the course of a day they will get programmers up to speed in the latest techniques and deepen their knowledge in the topic of physical simulation."

More information, including panel times and availability, can be seen on BlizzPlanet's writeup of the announcement. This is basically total nerd talk -- it's very unlikely that we'll have any new WoW-related info from these panels, unlike Kaplan's keynote, but anything is possible. We'll keep you posted.

Filed under: Blizzard, Interviews

New anniversary interviews in Blizzcast 12 and on the minisite

Blizzard continues to update their minisite -- the latest newness is the posting of a new Blizzcast, in two parts. In part one, Karune of the Starcraft community team interviews Chris Metzen, Rob Pardo, and Samwise Didier about the history of Warcraft as a whole (it's celebrating the 15th anniversary as well this year), and part two has our friend Nethaera talking to J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton, and Jeff Kaplan about the game itself. As is usual with the official podcast, there's not much new information here (especially if you've already read through some retrospective press), but both interviews are worth a listen (and/or a read through the transcript) if only to hear these guys all in a room together, joking around about old times.

Elsewhere on the site, they've started posting written interviews as well. The first one is with Shane Dabiri, former lead producer on the game, and there are faded-out spots for J. Allen Brack, Tom Chilton, and Jeff Kaplan as well. The other spots aren't revealed yet, but they're supposed to be interviews from the "community," so it'll be interesting to see who those turn out to be. Blizzard, anytime you want to chat with me about the history of World of Warcraft, just drop an email!

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

Jeff Kaplan on WoW development: "We debate like crazy"

Our buddy Phil Kollar of Game Informer (who was on the podcast recently) got a chance to talk to Jeff Kaplan about the World of Warcraft, and while Kaplan repeats a lot of what he's said before, the interview is worth a read for a look inside Blizzard's design process. What's probably most interesting is that it's very fluid and very dynamic -- just as much as we're arguing on this site and on the forums about how Blizzard should do things, they're also arguing and going back and forth behind the scenes.

He does talk specifically about cutscenes, saying that the Wrathgate scene was an experiment that paid off well, and we should expect some more of that kind of storytelling even as soon as in patch 3.3 (you may have seen it before if you're checking spoilers). And he does talk about raiding sizes and accessibility -- Blizzard has always wanted to do smaller raids, both for the feel of them and for the tuning, but it apparently took them a while to bring 40 down to 25 and then down to 10 correctly. Finally, he doesn't reveal anything about the new MMO, but he does say that singleplayer gaming will always have a place at Blizzard's core -- even when you're playing a multiplayer game, the singleplayer experience should still feel right. True enough, good interview.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Quests, Raiding, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King

Jeff Kaplan looks back at WoW's launch

The 5th anniversary press continues -- this time it's a site called Techland, where our friend Tracey John (who also writes for Massively) interviews Jeff Kaplan about his reflections on the last five years of the game. It's surprising to hear that early on, Blizzard wasn't so sure of their success. Despite the fact that even before WoW, they had made some of the most classic PC games of all time, they weren't sure that going the subscription route was a good idea. But one of the companies' founders stood up and gave a pep talk, and promised a whole million subscribers, apparently. Of course, they'd go on to make many times that, but that was good enough to get the team going again.

Kaplan also says that he is a little bummed that Blizzard didn't scale back raiding earlier -- 40-man raids were a little unwieldy, he admits now, and smaller raids would have meant more content in the vanilla days. But he does say that since the game has been updated so much, most of the stuff they wish they'd done different has actually been done differently. And in the future, he says that better technology will play a big role -- bigger instance capacity, and things like cross-server instances and other innovations. The next five years, he seems to hint, should be just as interesting as the first.

[via HolyPaladin]

Filed under: Patches, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Raiding

G4 talks to Blizzard about five years of WoW

We are quickly approaching the fifth anniversary of World of Warcraft's release (my calendar has it on the 23rd of November), and G4 has gotten a head start on celebrating -- they sent Morgan Webb over to Blizzard headquarters to talk to the team, including Tom Chilton, Alex Afrasiabi, and Jeff Kaplan, about what things have been like in the last five years since WoW's launch. There's nothing super groundbreaking in here, but there is lots of reminiscing about the game's early thinking -- Chilton talks about how dual specs were never even considered as an idea (until they, you know, were) and what things were like in the early post-launch days. Pretty stressful, sounds like.

Afrasiabi talks about how the quest team puts together and tracks all of the game's quests (he mentions both Metzen and the game's historian as the "lorekeepers" of the game), and the fact that they've put together "millions of words" of story and background lore for the game at large. He specifically talks about Cataclysm and replacing questlines, and says that if something does get removed from the game, they're hoping to replace it with something better, but most "fan favorites" will stay. And finally, Jeff Kaplan looks back on the early game itself, from unfinished zones to broken balance to launch day exhaustion. G4 teases something about the next MMO project, but all he says is that he can't talk about it. Oh well -- if we can't look forward, at least we get a nice look back from the folks at Blizzard who've been there since the beginning. You can see all four of the videos after the break.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items, Quests, Lore

The making of the World of Warcraft

Eurogamer has a nice long look at the early days of World of Warcraft, way before Northrend and Outland and even Molten Core, back when the question wasn't just how big the game would get, but whether Blizzard, a company known for their polish rather than their size, could pull off an entry in this new MMO genre. They've interviewed some of Blizzard's luminaries, and the piece offers a really good look at what it was like at Blizzard even before WoW's release, when they were hashing out some of the ideas and mechanics that have now set the bar with World of Warcraft: the stylistic Warcraft look, and questing as storytelling (originally, they thought they'd only do quests through the starting levels, and then have the game move to a grinding, monster-killing stage towards the end, but players said the game was boring without quests).

There are all kinds of great little tidbits in here: originally, Warcraft III was planned with the over-the-shoulder look that WoW now has, and that's one of the reasons they wanted to create a more straightforward RPG game. Tom Chilton showed up on the team about a year before WoW's release, and to his surprise, the game was almost completely unfinished -- the level cap was only 15, the talent system wasn't implemented, the AH or mail systems weren't in, PvP wasn't in at all (of course, even at release it was pretty barebones), and endgame raiding was nonexistent. Most of the things we think of as intrinsic to the World of Warcraft -- even things like the Horde and Alliance not speaking to each other -- were debated and almost not in at all as they moved towards release.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Interviews

EQ dev: WoW wouldn't exist without EQ

Videogamer.com has an interview up with Ryan Barker, the lead designer for seminal MMORPG EverQuest. When asked if he thought WoW would exist without EQ having been around, he replied that he didn't think so, and that Blizzard designers would likely agree with that statement.

I think he's right, too. The success of EQ allowed for countless imitators and innovators to follow in its footsteps, and WoW is certainly both of those things. What made WoW successful in the first place, beyond brand recognition, was the fact that the developers -- whose team consisted of a number of former EQ devs and prominent community members! -- refined and added on so many features cribbed from EQ. They made the formerly hardcore-only genre accessible to a wide variety of players and age groups, and in doing so broke subscriber and sales records -- thus continuing to make new MMOs financially plausible. And with WoW's improvements to the diku formula, the genre is now filled with WoW imitators as well. History repeats itself.

Sure, it's entirely possible that WoW could have existed without the advent of EQ, but it would have been a very different game if it existed at all. And I doubt it would have been anywhere near as good without having been able to learn from EQ's myriad mistakes or study its successes. We owe a lot to Old Man EQ. Now get off his lawn.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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

511 characters per quest

One of the most interesting things we heard from Jeff Kaplan last week (besides that he agrees the Green Hills quest sucks; won't do that one again) was that quest designers are given only 511 characters (not words) to put their quest text in.

It's surprising to think that they've created all the backstory, throughout Azeroth, in just 511 characters at a time. But even Kaplan said the limit is a good thing: it means Blizzard has to show story to the player rather than tell it.

Still, doesn't seem easy to

Crap. Out of room -- that's 511 characters. Of course, they can fudge things a bit by having those "story quests" where characters can use multiple pages to build up their background, and the 511-character limit doesn't apply to all of the dialogue -- some of the later quests have pages and pages of dialogue as the quest goes on. But squeezing enough information to keep a player interested in just 511 characters is quite a feat.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Quests

Progressive drop rates

Jeff Kaplan has said some interesting things at this year's GDC (expect a full account from us soon). One of them concerned a new technology that debuted in Wrath of the Lich King which I, for one, had not heard of before: progressive drop rates for quest items.

Pre-Wrath, if you're on a collection quest, whatever you're trying to collect will drop at a constant rate (35% was apparently the standard). Overall, this averages to a predictable amount of kills per quest. But probability being the way it is, it was altogether possible to have terrible luck and have to kill 100 foozles to get your four gizmos, or to have great luck and get your gizmos in only four kills. It was the bad streaks that the devs were particularly concerned about, as those are very memorable and never fun.

In Wrath, according to Kaplan, drop rates for quest items are progressive - the more foozles you kill, the higher chance each one has to drop a gizmo. The standard quest item drop rate has been raised to 45%, and each kill you make raises that drop rate by some amount. Kaplan said that it can eventually reach 100%, at which point every kill would drop your item. This puts a hard cap on just how frustrating a collection quest can be. Seems like a smart idea to me. I hadn't really noticed Wrath collection quests being easier, but then, I wouldn't - I simply wouldn't have bad-luck streaks, the absence of which might not be easy to notice.

[via Shacknews]

Filed under: Items, Quests

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.

Read more →

Filed under: Podcasting, Blizzard

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