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Posts with tag phasing-technology

Wrath Retrospective: Lore and the art of storytelling


With the final content patch of this expansion on our doorstep and Cataclysm following close behind, we'll be taking the next several weeks to look back on Wrath of the Lich King and everything that made it what it is, for better or for worse, in WotLK Retrospective.

Wrath of the Lich King wasn't just an expansion -- it was an experiment in progressive storytelling featuring story lines and lore that we haven't seen since Warcraft III. While Burning Crusade tackled new issues and races, it did little to further any of the Azeroth stories we'd seen in the earlier Warcraft games; Wrath took a step backwards to move the prior stories forward. Along with this change in direction, we saw the introduction of a few things that hadn't been seen in Warcraft before that made a large change to the way we view stories and quests in World of Warcraft, and a re-introduction of many of the heroes and prominent figures that we'd only caught glimpses of in vanilla. Today, we're going to look at Wrath lore: what worked, what knocked it out of the park and what failed to impress.

Phasing

Quite possibly the biggest technical advancement in storytelling was the introduction of the phasing mechanic. This allowed players to play through quests, and as the stories progressed, so did the world around the players, giving a new and unique feel to story line progression. Suddenly, instead of playing through a zone with no indication that you'd made any changes to the status quo, the world changed around you -- the chain of events in Conquest Hold in Grizzly Hills and Frosthold in the Storm Peaks both actually ended with NPCs being replaced as a direct result of player interaction. In the quest chain of The Battle for the Undercity, both Alliance and Horde players are teleported into a phased version of Orgrimmar, designed as a vehicle to further the story line -- and as a way for Alliance players to interact with Thrall without being attacked.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Breakfast Topic: How phasing could be used in-game

Phasing seems to be Blizzard's new favorite toy. It's being used be more and more as we progress through Wrath. From the Wrathgate to those annoying out of body/spirit quests in Zul'Drak, phasing is changing how we see Azeroth itself. But it strikes me there's once area where phasing should sometimes be used and isn't: bosses. Specifically I mean the big guys ... Kil'Jaeden, Illidan, Loken, Yoggy, Algalon and, of course, Arthas himself.

The logic here is simple, these are bosses key to game lore and killing them not only takes an enormous amount of effort (or in the case of Kil'Jaeden, banishing him back to where ever he came from) but it also has an effect on the world itself. Think of the impacts the events of the Sunwell had - phasing was never implemented there, and definitely should have been once Wrath was released.

Now I know you will be thinking: "Why should we only kill a boss once?" I'm not suggesting that once you kill the Lich King, for example, you are locked out of killing him again. Rather that his death triggers a change in Azeroth - which is where the phasing comes in. Icecrown Citadel could collapse or be recycled by other NPCs, such as the Ebon Blade. Once this happens, you could then walk in, click on an NPC and 'relive' the fight in the form of a new raid. The same thing could be done with the Sunwell, for example, and it could open up a new quest chain and further the game's lore in new and fantastic ways.

We've already seen how phasing can change Northrend, just look at how it's used post-Wrathgate. How do you think it could be used (particularly considering that the new expansion is called Cataclysm) to change how we play, the bosses we kill, and how we raid?

Filed under: Patches, Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Lore, NPCs, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

Friday Night Gin: Your weekly Blue roundup


Good evening fine ladies and good gentlemen, I want to invite you to head over to your liquor cabinet, grab some of that fine gin and do with it what you will. I like mine without anything added, right at room temperature. Ghostcrawler prefers his with coffee. Once you're settled, come back to your computer and read up on the best of the blues and the ghostly-crab-crawler.

Welcome to a new weekly column here at WoW.com. Each week we'll take a look at what Ghostcrawler and his cohorts at Blizzard have said about the game, highlighting all the important announcements and discussions.

What Ghostcrawler says in particular is of great importance these days to WoW. A lot of the stuff he's talking about is reflective of the direction of the entire design team at WoW, and if you follow what he's saying you'll have a better understanding of where the game is headed.

So after the break we'll wrap up what Ghostcrawler and the other blues had to say this week. This week's topic include: Battleground Focus, 5 Second Rule, On Class Representation Versus Actual Power, Going to heckle at BlizzCon?, Water Dungeon, Affliction Changes, Console WoW, Truth In Developer "Promises" About Change & An Angry Community, Amount Of Leveling, Phasing Technology, and Flying In Old Azeroth.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Friday Night Gin

Breakfast Topic: The joy of phasing


Rayless on the General Forums asks a question that I've always wondered about but never poked into; how exactly does phasing work? If you've leveled through the Death Knight starting area, done the Wrath Gate questline, or quested in Icecrown (and you should really do all three), you've had the opportunity to see Blizzard's most intricate phasing in action. However, Zarhym and Crygil are pretty cryptic on how it's done, and it's up to players to fill in the details.

In a nutshell, phasing is all about the information that's sent (or not sent) to your computer by the game server; Blizzard can toy with anything that's not client-side, affecting which buildings and NPCs you can "see" but not affecting the game's basic geography. I was surprised to discover that phasing has technically been in the game since launch -- ghosts and stealth are a form of phasing, as are (I would assume) the ghosts of Caer Darrow -- but the hugely elaborate set pieces of Wrath are simply a more complicated evolution of the same mechanic.

Given the success of phasing, players have been kicking around suggestions for instances or zones that could do with a touch of it, and Gnomeregan seems to be a pretty consistent pick. I'd have to agree, but I'd also add the Echo Isles (the Gnomes and Trolls have overcome their low-level foes by now, surely?) and perhaps Duskwood for starters. Is there any other zone or instance that you think would benefit from a little reality-bending?

Filed under: Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Quests, Expansions

Phasing is the new instancing

In an interview with Eurogamer, Blizzard's J. Allen Brack revealed just a little more about the advancements developers have made with Wrath of the Lich King. As I raved about in my post about the Death Knight starting experience, I effused about how the entire experience was instanced, creating a feel of progression through the world. It turns out I was wrong. The Death Knight starting experience isn't instanced at all. It uses what Blizzard calls "phasing technology".

In my defense, even Tom Chilton made the same mistake in the interview, saying "(the Death Knight starting area uses) instancing quite a lot more... the world changes dynamically as you move through the story." This prompted Brack to interject a correction, "It's actually not instances. What we do is we have different world states, and depending on what quests you've completed, it changes what world state you're seeing." He also mentions that the new phasing technology is used in other parts and other quests all over Northrend.

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

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