in your browser.
Transmog and 3D Models
Toy Box and UI Changes
Zones, Quests, and Exploration
The wait is over, we'll be giving you a sneak peek at the new blood elf models tomorrow!
7 hr 48 min ago
2) Guards in Southshore & Tarren Mill were buffed because nostalgia! Time limit in the BG also shortened & points needed to win set to 300.
8 hr 54 min ago
Good morning! Two updates: 1) Honor gained for killing Marshal Tremblade or Warlord Volrath was reduced; previous amount was a bit too high.
8 hr 56 min ago
10 years ago today,
was born! Congrats to everyone who has contributed and been part of this amazing game and community.
1 day ago
, Chief Executive Officer
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Pilgrim's Bounty 2014 Guide (November 24 - December 1)
Garrison Timer App Update: Automatically Update Your Timers!
Wowhead Weekly Episode 18 - More Warlords Q&A, Garrison Calculator Updates, Nov 21 Hotfixes
WoW's 10th Anniversary (November 21 - January 6)
Garrison Timers Mobile App: Track Your Garrison Missions and Work Orders
Guide to Garrisons in Warlords of Draenor
Warlords of Draenor Follower Guide
Warlords of Draenor Legendary Ring Guide
Gearing up in Warlords of Draenor
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News by Tags
WoW's 10th Anniversary
Garrison Timer App
Personal Loot Improvements
Gearing for Molten Core Requirements
Garrison Guides and Giveaway
Wowhead Interview with Lead Game Designers Cory Stockton and Ion Hazzikostas, Oct 17th Hotfixes
2014/10/17 at 2:33 PM
We're giving away two BlizzCon ticket-holder exclusive Faerie Dragon Plushies and four BlizzCon Virtual Tickets! All you have to do to win is tell us what
new thing you're enjoying most in patch 6.0.2
in the comments below!
More details after the Video
Olivia Grace and Perculia interviewed Lead Game Designers Cory Stockton and Ion Hazzikostas at 1 pm PDT, the livestream is over but we have the YouTube video below.
The hour-long interview covered the pre-expansion patch, itemization in Warlords of Draenor, Garrisons, Legendary Questline, World Events, and Professions.
We also have some hotfixes for October 17th at the end of the blog, covering hunter buffs, fixes to some old-world encounters, and a fix for raid items that were losing item levels.
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5.4.7 Hotfixes, Transcript of Wowhead's Interview, WoD Press Images, PAX Beta Keys
2014/04/14 at 12:23 PM
Raids, Dungeons, and Scenarios
Siege of Orgrimmar
should no longer be incorrectly awarded from the Spoils of Pandaria encounter.
: Resolved an issue that could prevent players from being able to loot
The Lich King
if NPCs dealt fatal damage to him.
: Added additional safeguards to the
encounter to address issues that could cause him to sometimes not grant loot if he's defeated too quickly.
Insane in the Membrane
: Resolved an issue where Exalted status with the various Steamwheedle Cartel factions, as well as Honored status with the
faction, were not properly being credited if those reputations subsequently decreased. Players should now be able to earn this achievement if they have ever brought those five reputations to the required levels.
PAX East News
We've rounded up several of the interviews that took place at PAX East, as well as our own with a brand new transcript. As we find more news from the weekend, we'll add that in, so do keep checking back!
Transcript of Wowhead's PAX East Interview
The transcript of Wowhead's PAX interview with Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke is now up! Many thanks to user
for providing the initial transcript.
Click here to read the transcript for Wowhead's PAX East interview on Warlords of Draenor!
Other PAX East interviews
's Scott Andrews spoke with Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut, Senion PvP Designer Brian Holinka and Game Designer Steve Burke on various aspects of Warlords of Draenor, discussing Garrisons, raiding, the level 90 boost and the start experience.
interviewed Senior Game Designers Brian Holinka and Steve Burke along with Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut about the boost to level 90, inventory management, exploration in the game, how the questing system will work, Garrisons, and some information on the PVP zone Ashran.
also discussed things like the 90 boost and visual fidelity, talking about Warlords of Draenor's graphical upgrades.
conducted a brief interview on revamped designs and story.
provides a run-down of Warlords first impressions and their problematic nature.
Heroes of the Storm has posted daily recaps of their antics on
of PAX. There's also a
VOD up of their panel
in which they hint at two more heroes - Sylvanas and Chen Stormstout.
Press Kit Screenshots
The following screenshots were released by Blizzard as part of their
PAX East Press Kit
. They cover the level 90 boost, garrisons, and several Draenor zones.
Due to a glitch, several players who received Warlords of Draenor beta keys at PAX East were able to log on and start playing the Alpha. Access has since been revoked, but Blizzard will not be taking action against the actions or content produced.
We've copied Blizzard's statement below:
At PAX East in Boston this weekend we’re handing out Beta keys to those who wait in line and play the Warlords of Draenor demo at the show. As the expansion is still in an internal Alpha, the keys we’re handing out are inactive, with the intention that they are redeemable for a future test phase. However, yesterday we discovered that a small amount of people were actually able to claim their keys and log in to the Alpha.
We’ve resolved the key claim issue and no further key claims should be possible. Those who were able to claim a key will need to redeem it again once the proper Beta phase begins.
We’re not looking to take action against accounts or content involved in this unintended access. We know everyone is excited to play Warlords of Draenor, is looking forward to additional information about the expansion, and we hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve seen thus far—keeping in mind, of course, that we are still at an early testing phase.
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Warlords of Draenor: Wowhead interviews Blizzard developers
2014/04/12 at 3:55 PM
interviewed Lead Class Designer Kris Zierhut and Game Designer Steve Burke on Warlords of Draenor.
Topics discussed include:
Bad Luck Protection and the prevention of looting duplicate items
Engineering tinkers as sellable items and the impact on raidint
Garrisons and how they're tied to overall gameplay - your Garrison can be attacked by NPCs, and you get rewards for defending it
Followers—interesting ways to recruit them, specialize in different types of rewards.
Incentivizing Proving Grounds
Challenge Modes Strengths and weaknesses of Timeless Isle
You can listen to the audio below. Obviously, as it's a convention, there is some background noise for which we apologise.
Edit: transcript is now up too! We have tried to be as exact as possible, but due to the poor audio quality at points, there are a few summarized bits.
Hit the break for the Transcript!
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Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig Talks Warlords of Draenor
2014/04/05 at 1:10 PM
Update! 3:30 EST, the
Warlords of Draenor talent calculator
is now updated with datamined talent changes.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to Blizzard Campus to interview Technical Game Designer Chadd "Celestalon" Nervig on Warlords of Draenor. You can
read the full interview over at WoW Insider
, but I've created a summary for Wowhead which you can read below. Please note that while the WoW Insider transcript is just that, I have used my own phrasing here.
Timeline and the "Alpha" term
Celestalon wanted to be very clear that this was not the final set of patch notes. There's already another 5,000+ word set being created by Rygarius, as well as blogs. It's definitely not the case that these are set in stone.
Players shouldn't take the "Alpha" as meaning that Blizzard is not that far along in content, and not assume that there's a certain time period of Beta to follow.
"Alpha" more relates to how many people are being invited. Mists had a lot of people, thanks to the Annual Pass, and it wasn't necessarily the best for testing. In this Alpha, invitations are going to go a little more slowly, and ramp up steadily.
It also has to do with the new CASC file system and wanting to test certain aspects of that.
As we suspected,
will be learned randomly between 91 and 100. The reason for their randomness is to provide variety, and also to remove the problem of choice, and the pressure of making the wrong choice.
Draenor Perks also serve as a way for players to adapt to their new rotation in Warlords in manageable steps rather than trying to completely re-learn their class at level 100. These small changes alter the rotation as they come in, meaning players can learn as they level.
They should be considered a fun perk rather than a complete reworking of an ability, it's fun to see your character grow stronger with every level.
Battleground Balance and Ability Pruning
There is a single Battleground bracket from 90-99 and a new one starts at 100, so there shouldn't be any issues with balance from the perks.
It's not detailed in the patch notes at this point, but thanks to the ability pruning they're going to re-examine when specs get abilities and look to balance at the same time.
It will result in a much better experience, especially at low levels.
They're also adjusting the damage and healing of certain abilities, removing base damage and healing, which will massively improve scaling at low levels.
Raid Cooldown Removal from Tanks and DPS
Several of the raid cooldowns being removed from tanks are also being removed from DPS - such as Devotion Aura
The next version of the patch notes will include a section on "Stackable Raid Utility". It covers survival cooldowns for the raid.
The general philosophy is that the healers signed up for keeping the raid alive so should do most of that.
It's good for other specs to contribute to it, but some were doing too much and infringing on healers' jobs
They're lowering these raid-wide defensive cooldowns for all tanks, as it's not going to lose them their spot, but they have to be more careful for DPS
They want to balance stackable raid utility at a lower level than it is now, so everyone brings a little
Windwalkers' Stance of the Fierce Tiger's 10% movement increase will become a 10-yard radius aura for all melee to move faster
Mages will bring Amplify Magic as a raid cooldown, which increases all healing received by the raid by 20% for a short duration
Ret Paladins lose Devotion Aura, but keep all their hands apart from Salvation
Smoke Bomb's damage mitigation is reduced
Gateway is being nerfed, and Healthstones are basically just replacement health potions
Potions and Pre-Potting
Health Potions and Healthstones now heal for the same amount and share a cooldown
Health Potions and Healthstones do not put mana potions, nor agility potions, crit potions, any other potions on cooldown
Blizzard was considering removing pre-potting, but decided that players would all just use potions at the start of a fight unless there were very specific mechanics that demanded them later, so pre-potting will remain as it adds gameplay
Tanking, Vengeance and Resolve
There were various issues with Vengeance and how it altered tank behavior and damage. Tank damage varied wildly depending on the fight, with tanks either doing a lot or very little. Tanks would do counter-intuitive things like take a lot of damage to get more Vengeance.
The defensive aspect of Vengeance worked well, though, so that has been renamed Resolve and will affect only active mitigation
Tank damage is being increased, so tanks will do good damage regardless of whether they're being hit. They can expect to be a little behind a similarly skilled DPS
Different tanks will rank higher on healing meters depending on whether their active mitigation counts as healing. DKs will rank very high, Warriors won't appear, just thanks to their different ways to prevent damage. This isn't something Blizzard is concerned about.
Profession Changes in Raiding
Profession bonuses that provide a direct combat benefit are largely removed, so Blacksmithing's extra sockets, Enchanting's extra enchants and so on.
For items such as Engineering's Rocket Boots, where they provide a considerable benefit despite not being a direct throughput buff, the current plan is to let Rocket Boots and other things like Invisibility belts be something engineers can make and sell so everyone can have them.
Things like Life Spirits and Water Spirits are currently staying in, but they are something the devs are monitoring
There is a blog coming up on how professions are being made appealing following the removal of combat bonuses
Combo Points, poisons and Agility versus other stats
The change is coming thanks to the big rework
The devs are looking to create a more dynamic gameplay experience with fewer inherent downsides to target swapping
Rogues and Ferals shouldn't expect a complete rework with this change, but it is something that requires a lot of tweaking
The impact is likely to be on their target-swapping and ramp-up, so the devs are watching this closely
Agility classes are getting a crit bonus over other classes like Strength ones because of thematic reasons, and also because that's how it always was
There is no longer an increase in crit from agility itself, just the flat 10% bonus to crit
Blizzard wanted to bring the preference for primary and secondary stats to a more level standing -- Agility always loved agility, Strength always loved secondary stats, Intellect was somewhere in between. They are looking to balance that.
More poisons are coming for rogues!
The low throughput low cost heals were removed as, in most cases, they're something you want to gear out of ever using
The devs do recognize that this has lowered certain healers' toolbox and are monitoring it
They want mana to matter, but they don't want that to mean you're OOM all the tome.
The equivalent of Greater Heal or Greater Healing Wave will be castable at very low mana levels as your mana regen will be far higher
Base mana regen will be like starting Mists in Throne of Thunder gear. There will be less spirit on gear, so the change from the start to the end of the expansion will be less
It will become worth the mana to cast a multi-target heal when around 2.5 players are injured, as a general rule
They want to get back to overhealing being something that players care about
Melee vs. Ranged, Casting While Moving
Melee vs. Ranged balance is an ongoing task. While it wasn't perfect, if you ignore some outliers melee vs ranged balance was pretty good in Siege of Orgrimmar.
They recognize the need to tune both encounters and classes to ensure that you need to do less DPS while moving, and also do less DPS while moving!
when you're casting-while-moving less, you care about movement more and it becomes a gameplay element you want to consider, and it also means different spells become more valuable.
Elemental Shaman were the hardest hit and are being closely monitored
If someone has an ability that obsoletes the need to worry about something they stop remembering their other abilities that they have to deal with that thing. That's the case with casting while moving for a lot of characters.
More spell- and class-specific details are available in the
WoW Insider transcript
Crowd Control and CC breaks
It's OK if some classes have more CC than others. They just want to reduce the difference between the classes with the most and the classes with the least.
They want to have less CC, so if they remove too many CC breaks they'll end up where we were, so they still need most of those CC breaks. A couple will go but the majority will stay.
Ability Removal and the Problem of Iconic Abilties
There will not likely be many more abilties removed, but some may be swapped.
They're currently discussing Army of the Dead, as it's something DKs feel is iconic
Abilties which have been in the game longer or have more "Affordance" - visual impact - are less likely to be cut
A good example is the merge of Skull Banner into Recklessness as opposed to the reverse - more information over at
Paladin wings are another great example of an iconic visual that the devs see the merit of and are working to retain
If people have feedback on how they love this ability and it felt awesome, that is very valuable feedback to the devs, let them know. There is still flexibility in what they're pruning and they might change it.
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Hearthstone Interview with Eric Dodds and Jason Chayes
2013/10/04 at 3:17 PM
Along with Hearthstone's
significant beta patch
and card wipe this past week, we interviewed Lead Designer Eric Dodds and Production Director Jason Chayes today! We touched on some of their favorite changes in the beta, the success of
, possible features in the future like alternate Warcraft hero options or co-op mode, how successful players are who haven't spent money on packs, and the fate of
If you're curious about this week's beta patch, check out the
closed beta patch notes
and browse our
What's your favorite change in this week's patch? Any particular hero or card you think players will really enjoy a lot more after the changes?
: One of the changes that we're pretty excited about on the team was getting in some new music during the matchmaking as you're waiting to get a match in Play mode. For players who have played Warcraft 2 in the past, it's a reference back to those themes. It's kind of a fun homage to our history and something we geeked out about, so I'm pretty excited for that.
In terms of cards that we're pretty excited about, one of the things we've been working on for a while that's only showing up in this patch is a large number of the Golden Cards are finally appearing--we think they look really awesome! Some of the more common ones, some of the legendaries, they're all looking great. If you can find it, you can see that the golden version of
Ragnaros the Firelord
looks pretty killer!
: My favorite card changes are probably for Priests, we changed a couple of their cards to be more aggressive cards. The priest was having some trouble mid-game so I'm excited to see where the priest stands out. Because he was having some trouble at the highest level, I'm expecting Anduin to be right back in there and swinging which I'm excited about.
From a features point of view, I'm just in love with all the new social stuff that went in, like the toasts--you can see what your friends are doing at any given time and when your friends complete an arena run, it will let you know how they did. We've been going crazy with it around the office going "oh hey, how is your arena run going'"or "oh you're opening some packs, that's awesome." People run over to other people's desks, it's been really exciting social environment.
So there's already been
a lot of discussion
. Are you happy with the current state of
, and how things are balanced between who goes first and second? Or could there be future adjustments to cards that could have potentially OP synergy?
So the route we're taking right now is to adjust the couple of outlier cards that really make
very very powerful. So the
both were changed in this patch that just came out to try to address that issue.
itself makes for pretty interesting gameplay. You play differently based on if you go first or second, you mulligan depending on what class your opponent is or whether they have
or don't have
. It makes for really interesting dynamic gameplay. There are these targeted specific card interactions that we're looking at.
What you can expect in the future is us to look at targeted interactions and again, all of that being said, at the highest levels, it's still looking like it's pretty even as far as first or second turn advantage goes. While there's sometimes an emotional feel like the person who has
has more say with what's going on, there's a lot of power to going first as well. We're pretty happy with how it's going although you may see some card changes in the future based on that interaction.
Arena is a very accessible experience and there's been some tweaks for 5, 6, and 9 wins this patch, but do you think beginners are still daunted by the cost though, especially when they might lose a bit at first?
We wanted to make sure that as players are getting accustomed to the game, they wouldn't jump into arena right away. It's for that reason that you have to unlock all the heroes before you get a chance to go in. We know that the process of enlisting each of the 30 cards in your deck requires some amount of knowledge--the mana curve, what makes for a competitive deck, etc, and so the intention is to make that as accessible as we can. But you kinda want to know a little bit of what you're doing before you jump right in.
So in terms of the brand-new player, our advice is to get your feet wet a little before you jump right in to arena. But it is important to us, as you said, to go and play and have a chance to keep coming back to the arena. For that reason, we did juice up the gold rewards in the arena, so people have a better chance to get the gold they can use to come back to the arena in the future. Overall we're feeling pretty good with the changes we made in the patch, but we'll keep an eye on it in the beta and see how it goes.
Yeah, just as a suggestion--I know you guys did some crafting UI tweaks, and it would be pretty cool to record an arena deck that you happened to perform really awesomely with.
That's a really cool idea. We've seen people bragging a little about their coolest arena deck and throwing up shots on that on Facebook and other places, so having something up there where you can always see it is a cool idea.
Do you have any further rewards planned for the constructed ladder, such as cosmetic stuff or cards, in addition to getting more gold per win?
So it's something we're definitely talking about. We've gotten a lot of feedback from the beta about there hasn't been as much motivation for Play mode as we've liked, and that's something the team would like to do something about. We've been spending a lot of time talking about what the right rewards are to connect to Play Mode, and have a few ideas that we're batting around. Not in the far future, but actually something in the pretty-near term that we'd like to come back to and see what we can do to have more things linked to that particular game mode.
Are you happy with the gameplay balance between players that are playing Hearthstone as a free game and mostly getting upgrades from crafting and gold, vs those that have dropped a ton of money into the beta? Obviously you have more cards at your disposal if you spend cash, but you still have to know what you're doing.
It's actually something we have paid a lot of attention to and looked at a lot of the numbers behind it. Certainly one of the things that we saw in the alpha and continued to see is that players who are at 3 star Master level are actually players who have basically spent no money on the game. So we're seeing all the way through the spectrum that there are players who have spent money on the game and players that haven't spent money on the game.
And of course if you spend money, it gives you a lot more options, it give you a lot more flexibility in terms of "oh I've seen this deck is pretty powerful, I want to counter with this other deck" but as far as actual ability to participate in a given level, it seems like you can do pretty well even if you're just playing for free. Even if you're worried about that, the matchmaking system behind the scenes is always making sure that you're playing against a player of your skill level.
So what you can expect to see is say you're playing against someone with a number of expensive cards, or rare cards…first off, I think you have a fair chance of beating them. Really it's all coming down to kill with the cards making a small difference there. But also, if they have a ton of cards that seem powerful but you've been matched against them…you're probably better than they are, so it will still be a fair and exciting match.
Some of the legendaries seem OP in the right context but gimmicky otherwise, so if you don't really understand the cards, that could be still shut down.
Yeah, people have tried to build decks of all legendaries and they can be pretty terrible if you just say 'I'm just going to pick all the legendaries and put them into a deck!' Those decks are funny, but not especially powerful.
Can you talk a little bit more about some of the major card changes, like how the Warrior and Priest decks got some new tools? Also, are there any potentially problem cards on the horizon that didn't get changed yet but that you're watching closely?
As far as OP cards on the horizon, I have no idea! We made a number of changes, so I imagine over the next few weeks we'll be seeing trends occurring and we'll be seeing what's going on there.
As far as overall themes to the changes we made, we looked at the Warrior and decided that he needed a bit more card draw--a lot of their cards are useful in narrow circumstances but not as good when you're in top decking mode. So we wanted to take some of the cards that we're a little more niche and give them a little more heft and card draw. For the Priest, we looked at the Priest and went "the Priest is super fun and early on they do OK, but mid-game they have a problem where opponent puts out some big creatures and they just have no way of dealing with it." They get overrun and without heavy AE for mid to late game, and without the ability to deal with opponents dropping big creatures until they get to
on turn 8, they were having issues. so we put two cards in specifically to deal with this issue.
And then you can look at both the Druid and Rogue, which were a little bit on the strong side, and we made changes to both of those to try to bring them back down. And while we made a bunch of changes, our win percentages at the highest level are still relatively close, so we'll be watching in days and weeks to come to see how this new environment plays out. But we're pretty happy with the changes we made.
Going back to social improvements--this patch had some improvements like the toasts, but do you have any thoughts on more elaborate social things like custom rules among battle.net friends or co-op mode so groups of players can team up against each other?
Totally. We're basically just starting with things we'd like to do for social features. With this patch, we have the ability to see toasts when your friend completes an arena run or gets a legendary from a pack. You can also see what your buddies are doing if you check out the friends list. You can see them busting out cards opening packs or putting together a deck in the Collection Manager, and really what we want is people to engage with their buddies as they're playing Hearthstone.
So some of the ideas you're talking about like custom tournaments or other ways I can do more cooperative things with my buddies are things I'm thinking about. Those are features that typically take a bit longer for us to develop because they require a bit more pipelining and infrastructure, so they're not things we're planning for the release this year, but it is something we are laying into our plans for next year and figuring out what we can do to improve upon that experience.
General question about card and hero design--How do you guys keep deck and playstyle variety in each class, when a hero's power is a pretty unique and defining feature of that class?
So the Hero Power is defining of that class, but in a lot of ways, it's not the most powerful thing and certainly the change we made to Rogue was because we felt that the Rogue Hero Power was starting to really define how that class played. The Hero Power is always set up to be not cost-effective compared to another card of that cost. So, how you'll use a hero power is sort of a tactical choice, like "I have a 5 drop, and I have a 3 drop and my Hero Power. Should I drop that 5 drop or the 3 and use the Hero Power?" It helps to make that tactical choice rather than a defining choice as far as how that hero plays.
On a meta level, it impacts how you play. For example, the Hunter is always about putting pressure on their opponents. You can expect that 2 damage coming in every turn. But that's more a high-level overall flow of the game. Playing against a Hunter--it's going to be a pressure deck. But what kind of pressure deck? We don't really know. It could be overrunning you with Beasts, it could be hanging back and playing a defensive trap game and just shooting you every turn until you die and using a powerful card at the end to polish you off.
Are there plans to add any themed cards from other Blizzard games, or more game backdrops, in future patches?
As for the first question, in terms of other Blizzard games, right now we're focused on the Warcraft universe--the good news is that it's a very rich universe and there's a lot we can draw from. Both in the context of the World of Warcraft timeframe but back before that to the Warcraft RTS days. So we're pretty happy to be continuing to explore that space for a while.
In terms of more boards, I think that's definitely in the future for Hearthstone. Our art team has already started on where we want to go next. They have more ideas on more clickables and more ways to develop the awesome themes that remind players of when they played in their Warcraft days. That's definitely reasonable for everyone to expect to see in the upcoming months.
At one point the
was meant to be a mount you could use in WoW as a reward for joining the beta, but that's since changed. Are there any plans to have cross-game promotions still?
is something that is still coming up. We haven't announced how that's all going to work yet but there's a connection coming up with regards to that.
In terms of other cross-game promotional stuff, thats's something we think would be really cool for players of World of Warcraft--you want to see cool stuff in Hearthstone and vice versa, so we have a few ideas there. Nothing that we can quite announce today but something we're actively working on across both of our team and the WoW team.
I know people were asking about this when Hearthstone just came out, but with how WoW's lore is developing in 5.4, this seemed worth bringing up again. With how everyone hates Garrosh in 5.4, could there be options in the future to choose between new heroes for the same class that mechanically work the same but are cosmetically different? Like choosing Tyrande instead of Anduin for Priest, Varian instead of Garrosh for warrior.
Yeah, that's certainly a thing that we've heard a lot and have been paying a lot of attention to. We don't have anything to announce right now specifically, but we've planning on adding a lot of features in the future, and a lot of those features will be based on what the community is demanding. And we're hearing that this is the sort of thing the community would like. It's the sort of thing that I would not be surprised if this is something we do before all that long. Because it would be pretty exciting to do something like that.
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Wowhead's Patch 5.4 Interview with Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton
2013/08/18 at 10:24 AM
Patch 5.4 is coming very soon
, bringing with it a variety of innovative content from Flex Raiding to the daily-free Timeless Isle. This past week, we got to sit down with Lead Game Designer Tom Chilton and ask him about popular upcoming content--the unique nature of the Timeless Isle, legendary questline development, Proving Grounds, and more.
Read on to find out more about the most-anticipated features coming in Patch 5.4!
I've had a lot of fun with the
on the PTR--finding all the hidden events, getting the vanity loot, participating in the Pet Tournament, etc. What were the inspirations in designing a hub that's so radically different from past ones, where the emphasis is on participating in fun vanity content instead of daily hubs for reputation epics?
One of the resounding things that we heard and felt from launching Pandaria was that the dailies felt too repetitive. We wanted to find a world content structure where the content wouldn't feel as directed. We wanted it to be a little more open-ended and do more freeform open gameplay that would feel more inherently accommodating to non-repetitive play. And so, we took that as our major philosophy and looked into ways we can do that.
It's going to be a push for us in the future as well to continue to develop on some of these ideas. In a lot of ways, the
is a place where we can test out ideas for the future.
How do you hope players will view and experience the
. The daily hubs felt mandatory for gear at first, but since the Isle is just for enjoyment, what will make players keep returning to it?
I think there's going to be some amount of people who need charms for the week or want to round out the Valor they get, so some of that is your normal playtime stuff. But beyond that, we hope players find reason to go back whether it's World PvP that crops up, or taking advantage of the legendary cloak they get that allows them to access special content. Or it could be to gear up alts--a lot of the Timeless Isle gear you can hand off to an alt character. The play space should get reused quite a bit.
Can you talk a little about the new tech that's on the
? I've observed some additions like the map alert for rare spawns and new event tech.
We're definitely developing our tech to be able to do more events out there in the world that feel more dynamic and happen outside of the normal quest system. We feel things like that support the normal quest system. As players quest through zones, they can be supported by extra free-form stuff that helps players feel like they've discovered things that they otherwise wouldn't have encountered if they did quests.
In addition to just the rare spawns, I had a lot of fun stumbling across the sword icons on my map and doing those daily challenge events.
We're definitely trying to find the right balance for the UI--we want them to be discoverable, but also to give you enough hints to where you can reasonably find them. We're definitely experimenting there with what we put on the minimap.
So in addition to the
being a daily-free hub, we also have most of the daily quests in the Vale of Eternal Blossoms being destroyed in 5.4. I know at launch Golden Lotus dailies were seen as a bit extreme, so some players might view this as a welcome change while still being sad over the overall destruction. Can you elaborate on the decisions that went into revamping the zone?
It's not so much that we wanted to eliminate those quests, but it was a by-product of how we wanted that zone to evolve as part of the Garrosh storyline. We really wanted it to feel like Garrosh was having a real negative impact on the world, and think about what players would be likely to see. The heart of Pandaria really is the Vale, so there was no better place to express that.
So it really was a side consequence that we decided "well, we're doing this to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms…it makes no sense they'd still be giving out their daily quests." We know that players expressed that they want the world to feel more dynamic, and these changes are really part of making the world feel that way. Things change with time.
It's those two things combined that let us go "well, it's okay if that goes, we've got other things for players to do once they hit 90." There's no obligation to have to have done those specific quests.
Yeah, while the vale does look pretty different, you can still get everything done except that one Feat of Strength.
So we also have the conclusion of the legendary questline. When it was first announced that the rewards would be capes, some players were shocked that they weren't weapons for a change--how are some of the ways players get to feel special when finishing this questline? I've seen some of the visual process on the PTR and they look great.
We've definitely tried to make sure that it feels very legendary. Since the beginning of World of Warcraft we've always envisioned that there would be legendary items that weren't necessarily weapons. One of the first legendaries that slipped into the game was the amulet from Rag, so it's always been on our minds but we just didn't have an opportunity to do it much. Honestly, when we were thinking about what this legendary item should be, we were trying to think of something that wasn't deliberately a weapon. We've been doing weapons so much, we wanted to do something a little bit different this time.
At the same time, we want to make sure that these cloaks feel really rewarding and really awesome. They have a huge item level and they have the ability to open up content you can't normally do. So unquestionably, I think these capes feel legendary and they deliver on that uniqueness that legendary items should have.
What about the decision to make the capes obtainable pretty early on in 5.4, instead of towards the end of a tier's progress, such as previous weapons?
That was extremely deliberate, definitely something we planned right from the start. When you get this legendary item, we want you to feel you could really take advantage of it and use it to beat content that you haven't necessarily beaten yet. And that would feel a lot better than getting it at the end of the expansion when you've already beaten everything. Sure, you might use it in the next expansion, but it will get replaced quickly and become obsolete, so you don't get to feel like you're beating new content that's relevant to you with your legendary item.
With all these new cool things to do, some new or returning players might worry that their gear isn't good enough for a raid or taking down some of the rares on the
. What catch-up mechanisms are in place for players? We touched a little on the
BoA gear before, and there's also things like no ilvl requirement for Flex.
We try to make sure there's ways for players to catch up pretty quickly. Even with LFR through Throne of Thunder, you'll get a player caught up very quickly. We increased the droprates of loot for older raids, so you can get gear and get through them very quickly.
In addition, the
has a variety of difficulties throughout the island. There are parts we deliberately designed for players to solo them even if they don't have a really high item level and get some gear there, but in addition, if they partner up with other players or friends, they can take on some of the harder content on the
and gear up even faster.
More than anything else, we want to get someone to the point where they can do the 5.4 raid content, so they can then quickly go with friends to a Flex raid.
Cool, that ties into my next question actually which is about Flex raids. They seem like a lot of fun for players who don't have a dedicated raid but are missing the social component when they're in LFR. What is your target audience for flex raids, and how do you envision it fitting into players existing raid schedules--both more casual players in LFR and organized groups in Normal/Heroic?
It definitely feels like there's a segment of players out there that are part of friends and family type guilds that aren't hardcore enough to do the hardcore versions of raids. Normal and heroic are tuned at this point to require a fair amount of dedication and willingness to stomach a lot of failure. So, we wanted to make sure there was something out there for more casual guilds that wanted to do the raids, but they didn't just want to jump into LFR as a full group, or even as a group of 10 or whatever.
We initially thought LFR would satisfy that type of player. And it really turns out we were off the mark on that. Those players weren't really satisfied by the LFR experience, and there was a gap to fill.
As for more serious raiders in the Siege of Orgrimmar, there's a wider variety of mount rewards and other incentives compared to previous MoP raids. We've got a mount from Heroic Garrosh, a mount tied to the Ahead of the Curve achievements, and then the Glory mount...and also the new heirlooms. How did Siege of Orgrimmar end up with all these additional cool raid incentives?
We truly feel that the game is a better experience when you're playing with friends and guildmates. We're really trying to give players incentives and reasons to go beyond LFR. LFR is there so that anybody that wants to, even if they're not really social or don't have a big guild, can go and experience the content instead of feeling left out. But we really do feel that you don't fully realize the WoW experience until you're going beyond that. So we really wanted to emphasize that while also not taking things away from LFR players or making them feel like they couldn't get something anymore.
Really it's about making sure that we keep giving players reasons to the more difficult content.
Yeah, it seems that there's many community initiatives with Flex--the glory mount for example. You can go in and do it with friends, but it's not tied to Heroic kills, so it can be more casual and also not disrupt heroic raids.
Definitely--the lockout decision was also made to support that. You can do Flex with friends, whether they're on your server or other servers, if you want to raid with them, you can now, instead of having it come into conflict with your own raid. In addition, the server boundary conflict is removed when you can do Flex cross-server.
So to prepare players for raiding, there's Proving Grounds also in 5.4, where players can go from easy Bronze challenges to pretty challenging encounters in Endless. What are your target audiences for various levels, and what sort of players do you think will be drawn to these challenges?
Primarily we've built the feature for players that struggle to make that transition going into the endgame and want to do more than just solo. That audience is a meaningful group--they do solo content and quest and experience the storyline of the expansion, but they feel kind of afraid to go into multiplayer content because they don't feel comfortable with the role they're expected to have. A lot of players have negative experience--they go into dungeon finder, and they get yelled at because they don't know what to do in an encounter, they get yelled at because their dps is terrible, or they don't know how to tank or heal a group, and they feel like there's no way to really learn that without doing it. But they don't want to deal with the negativity as they're trying to learn that. So we really wanted proving grounds to be that place where players can learn how to make that transition into doing group content.
And then, beyond that, we figured that once we're setting things up for Bronze, we might as well make sure that it has value to the existing core audience, the hardcore players. It's an interesting event, so we might as well make it cool for everyone while we're at it. And that's really where the Gold, Silver, Bronze and Endless modes came from.
How do you envision Proving Grounds fitting into the larger community? Do you think they'll catch on as qualifications for pugging raids?
I definitely see it becoming a way we can do qualifiers. We talked about in the future, it's a possibility that we could do a dungeon scheme more like we have in the past with Burning Crusade where we have normal dungeons that we expect everyone to be able to do, and then only once you've gotten a Proving Grounds medal of Silver or higher, you can queue for the heroic dungeons. Something along those lines.
A difference from the way that happened in Cataclysm would be that we would never require you to complete the heroic dungeons in order to do LFR, so it wouldn't block you from your raid progression. It would just be a more time-efficient way to get your Valor.
So I guess while we're on the subject--quick question about Valor. What's happening to it in 5.4?
There won't be a Valor reset for 5.4--the item upgrade stuff is likely to stay in place and that will be the primary outlet for Valor.
I know you guys are short on time, so I'll just ask one more quick question. Cooking got a big (and possibly controversial) revamp in MoP, with all the various Ways and additional effort required to max things out. It's been untouched for a few patches and now we have the addition of noodle carts--how does that fit in and what niche does it fill?
More than anything else, they're ways to give players more optional content. Cooking more than anything else is a secondary profession. It's meant to feel like something optional to do. If you've done everything there is to do, or trade skills are just your thing, it's an awesome thing for you to go out and experience. We want to continue to deepen experiences like that, but they're really not designed to be something where every player feels obligated to do it. I think if it got to that point, that's where it would feel like the experience breaks down.
Thanks so much for answering my questions--we'll get back to having fun exploring the
and playing the PTR!
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5.3 PTR: Hidden Brawler's Guild Items, Tom Chilton Interview
2013/05/17 at 11:08 AM
In addition to the new Brawler's Guild bosses coming with Ranks 9 and 10 in Patch 5.3, there are twelve special bosses which each require players doing something creative to unlock.
First, players must find a special item, such as
. Each item has a unique source.
These items start quests asking the player to return these item to the Brawler's Guild, like
Once at the Brawler's Guild, you will then fight the boss associated with the item, in quests like
Beating the boss for the first time will reward you with a significant amount of gold like
, and a themed vanity shirt like
You can now purchase that boss' Challenge Card and fight them again as much as you like.
Challenge Cards are a new addition to the Brawler's Guild--players can purchase them to fight any boss they've already faced.
Here are some of the interesting quest sources recently brought to our attention:
Users participating in Battlefield: Barrens can purchase
. Users can get one a week from completing
. This leads to defeating
It appears that
can be fished up from Pandaria pools (600 fishing not required). This leads you to defeat
and get a
Multiple players have confirmed that
is unlocked by fighting Rank 1
, when summoned by
will then drop
, which leads to
as your reward!
User Ozlem found
, a new elite battle pet in northern Icecrown surrounded by tons of penguins. Defeating him (Aquatic, Level 25) seems tied to acquiring
which leads to
. Players may remember fighting Doopy's annoying brother,
, in Rank 2.
According to user ashraf0,
can be looted from "caravan supply boxes." We've looted our fair share of supplies from Overturned Caravans and
from escorting Barrens caravans, but have yet to see any ourselves. In theory, this will lead to
User dieselh found
from doing daily random scenarios. This leads to
For a complete look at all the new shirts and bosses, check out
New Brawler's Guild Content in Patch 5.3
. Turning in the initial items for all twelves bosses rewards
Collect Your Deck
, and defeating them all rewards
Deck Your Collection
Blizzard Insider Interview with Tom Chilton
Blizzard has also put together an interview with Game Director Tom Chilton, which previews several important Patch 5.3 features, including
spectator mode for Pet Battles
Click the cut to read the complete interview!
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Diablo III for Console: Press Kit and PAX East Interview
2013/03/30 at 1:11 PM
Last weekend at PAX East, we checked out the Diablo III console demo in addition to covering
Hearthstone, Blizzard's new game
While Diablo III may seem easy to adapt for console play, there are a lot of quality-of-life changes:
In multiplayer mode, you'll be able to play side-by-side, as well as via the network. The camera will zoom out to accommodate players separated.
Fewer items drop from mobs, but they tend to be high quality. Items you wish to vendor can also be tagged as junk while fighting.
Higher-quality items drop from the console version because there is no Auction House as a means of obtaining gear.
Console monsters have a staggered combat rhythm, as being surprised by a cluster of mobs is exciting and fun on a PC, but less so with console mechanics.
A new event queue shows recent buffs and items looted. Symbols will pop up for all recent items showing how much of an upgrade or downgrade it is, for easy reference.
The achievement system has been converted into trophies and challenges.
Offline play is supported.
My PAX demo playthrough covered part of Act III on a Demon Hunter--Barbarians were also available. I had a blast on the Demon Hunter, as I played mine pretty intensely at launch and killed Inferno Diablo right before the first round of nerfs hit. I took a break when Mists of Pandaria beta coverage picked up, so it was fun to revisit the class. While playing, I had some questions about combat, item, and ability changes, which were answered by senior producer Julia Humphreys.
Click the cut for our PAX East interview with senior producer Julia Humphreys, as well as console screenshots and the fact sheet from the official press kit!
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Hearthstone Interview and PAX Demo Gameplay
2013/03/26 at 10:20 AM
Over the weekend, I interviewed Hamilton Chu, Executive Producer, and Ben Brode, Game Designer, about Blizzard's newest game, Hearthstone, which was just revealed at PAX East! I also got to try out a few rounds of this fast-paced lighthearted demo as my favorite classes--Rogue and Warlock.
We've also covered the artwork, videos, and the Official Press Release and Gameplay FAQ from Blizzard in
. Also check out
for more fansite interviews and resources.
Hearthstone is designed to be an accessible and fast-paced online strategy card game using popular figures from World of Warcraft:
: There are nine classes total. All WoW classes are represented except for Death Knights and Monks. Each class has a unique low-cost ability that's meant to be an option if you get unlucky with card draws. For example, Warlocks can draw a card at the cost of life, while Rogues can summon a dagger that deals damage.
: 30 cards can be in play for each game. You start off with three cards and gain one each turn. Players can manage their decks with the in-game Collection Manager.
: Each starter deck comes with class-specific cards. For example, Mages can polymorph enemy creatures, reducing them to 1/1, while Warlocks can Hellfire, damaging everything on the board for 3. Additional cards can have a variety of effects, such as Taunt, which prevents creatures from attacking your hero directly.
: Each hero starts off with 30 health. Most creatures can attack the turn after they're placed on the board, and can attack enemy creatures or the opposing player directly. Games are designed to be fast-paced and lighthearted, with creatures and heroes having custom emotes and sound effects.
: Players can enhance their decks in several ways:
Cards can be disenchanted and their Arcane Dusts can be used to craft new cards.
Packs of five cards can be purchased online through Battle.net or other payment methods.
Achievements may grant cards in the future.
Players can win other cards by defeating other players.
Practice matches can award basic cards.
In the Forge, players can play against other participants to win their deck. The decks are pre-selected from a series of randomized card choices.
In addition, there are Golden cards which affect a card's appearance but not its power.
: Hearthstone is designed to be very accessible--helpful arrows show which enemy you're attacking. There will also be a Practice mode. In addition, there are several different gameboards (Pandaria, Alliance, Horde) that come with interactive elements. For example, you can drag rocks onto a Horde trebuchet and fling them at your opponent.
Click the cut for the interview with Executive Producer Hamilton Chu and Game Designer Ben Brode!
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Wowhead's Patch 5.2 Interview with Lead Game Designer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas
2013/02/28 at 2:22 PM
Patch 5.2 is right on the horizon, bringing with it a new raid full of exciting bosses and powerful epic loot! Yesterday I had the opportunity to interview Lead Encounter Developer Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, who shared insights on
Throne of Thunder
's design as well as on raid-related topics such as Item Upgrades and Thunderforged gear.
Topics covered include:
The decision to implement Ra-den, a limited-attempt heroic-only boss, in Throne of Thunder.
Thoughts on the staggered release of Tier 14 content.
Progression paths for raiders in 5.2 who have yet to complete Tier 14 content.
The multiple purposes behind Thunderforged items and how they can benefit 25-player raids.
Strengths, weaknesses, and possible modifications to the item upgrade system.
The purpose behind the new Feats of Strength (Ahead of the Curve, Cutting Edge) for killing Tier 14 bosses before 5.2's release.
Challenges behind creating legendary weapons and their effects on raids and player participation.
The success of and future plans for Challenge Modes.
As for other Patch 5.2 raid commentary,
interviewed Ion Hazzikostas yesterday and
focuses on many of the new encounters coming in 5.2. Blizzard also released a
Throne of Thunder
raid preview earlier this week, in which Ion contributed commentary on all of the new bosses. We've included his comments as well after the interview.
Click the cut for Wowhead's interview and Blizzard's Throne of Thunder raid preview!
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