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Transmog and 3D Models
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Concerned the new Piccolo is going to be another annoying item that interrupts eating/drinking, confirm it won't?
22 hr 20 min ago
We've changed the way the item works specifically to avoid that. It will not interrupt eating or drinking.
22 hr 12 min ago
Have y’all made any official announcement about raid finder testing this weekend? Specifically timeframe/available encounters
22 hr 49 min ago
"...we will open up the Slagworks wing in Raid Finder over the weekend."
22 hr 28 min ago
, Lead Game Designer
I'm a raid leader, and I built a Mage Tower to help my raid team get to raid. Did I just waste my gold? They can't use it?
22 hr 57 min ago
Your friends will be able to use your Mage Tower / Spirit Lodge portals in patch 6.1!
22 hr 53 min ago
Coming in Patch 6.1: Elemental Runes collected for the 'Might of the Elemental Lords' quest will stack to 999.
1 day ago
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New Site Feature: Garrison Follower Tracking and Mission Recommendations
6.1 PTR: Build 19551 - Spell Changes, Twitter Integration Live, New Toys
6.1 PTR Patch Notes: Updated January 29th
Shapeshifting Improvements for Cosmetic Effects Coming in 6.1, BRF and Mythic Highmaul Guides
Method's Mythic Butcher Guide: Video and Written Strategy
Warlords of Draenor Follower Guide
Warlords of Draenor Legendary Ring Guide
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6.1 PTR: Build 19551
6.1 PTR Patch Notes
6.1 PTR: Build 19533
Blackrock Foundry Loot Preview
Method's Guide to Mythic Tectus
News Round Up: Tier 13, 4.3 Previews, and More
2011/09/21 at 4:57 PM
4.3 Dungeons Preview
Have a look at the five new screenshots we've added this morning to the End Time dungeon preview:
'Nuff said. :D
Meanwhile, here are all the previews:
4.3 Preview: End Time 5-man
4.3 Preview: Well of Eternity 5-man
4.3 Preview: Hour of Twilight 5-man
4.3 Preview: The Dragon Soul Raid
Keep in mind we do intend to allow tier 13 set pieces to drop for those using the upcoming Raid Finder. Similar to the difference between normal and Heroic versions of tier sets, the Raid Finder set will have a lower item level than the normal and Heroic counterparts.
Set pieces from all three difficulty levels can still be mixed and matched for the 2- and 4-piece bonuses.
Ultimately, we recognize that making these set pieces available only as raid drops leaves players much more subject to RNG drop rates/loot rolls, but we have a couple of plans to try and alleviate the sense of burden that stems from the randomness of token drops.
The way tier 13 pieces will be obtained in the 4.3 raid won't be unlike raids past, meaning players will still need to roll on multi-class set tokens. That said, we'll be tweaking the tier 13 10-player drop rates a little bit (for the better) relative to the 25-player version, given that these tier pieces can't be purchased from vendors for Valor Points.
In addition, due to tier pieces not being offered for Valor Points, another thing you'll see in patch 4.3 is a much wider array of desirable non-set loot (covering more slots than prior patches) available from the vendors, for those players who are unlucky with specific token drops, or who aren't interested in raiding -- although, once you get more details about the Raid Finder, we hope you'll find interest in having a go.
I felt this warranted its own response in a separate thread, but for those who missed it, here's my response to the original thread about tier 13 pieces being raid drops only:
Cool! Thanks. Most of this tier was attempting to play off a new ability the class got in Cataclysm, so for instance Time Warp for mages and Wild Mushroom for druid, in some cases (like warrior or warlock) there's playing off of the raid and those themes, and then for others it's a bit more just doing something we think represents the class in a more abstract manner.
So Paladins will look like Guardian of Ancient Kings?
Dragon Soul Raid Interview with Scott Mercer (Spoilers)
In World of Warcraft content patch 4.3, players will make their ultimate stand against Deathwing the Destroyer. Almost a year has passed since the corrupted Dragon Aspect burst forth from the Maelstorm to bring the Cataclysm down upon the mortal races. Now the determined survivors from the Horde and Alliance have rallied to unleash vengeance of their own.
To prepare for this earth-shattering battle, the Blizzard Insider recently discussed the upcoming Dragon Soul raid with Scott Mercer, lead encounter designer from the World of Warcraft team. Read on for all the epic details.
CAUTION: THIS INTERVIEW CONTAINS SPOILER INFORMATION ON THE CATACLYSM STORY AND THE FINAL BATTLE AGAINST DEATHWING.
Before we dive into the details, can you tell us about Deathwing’s character arc to date?
Deathwing has changed the face of Azeroth probably more than any other villain in Warcraft’s history. He tore the Barrens in half. He caused tidal waves that transformed both continents. He even burned his claw marks into Stormwind Keep, leaving his personal signature on the Alliance capital. In many ways Deathwing embodies the Cataclysm itself, not just as the direct cause of it, but also as the thematic center of the expansion. His violent transformation from Earth-Warder to Destroyer ultimately led to all these changes across Azeroth, so in a very direct way, his character arc represents the force that set the entire expansion into motion.
That said, we’ve been building towards a showdown with Deathwing for some time. Players have been wrestling with his Twilight's Hammer minions since before Cataclysm, and we’ve already seen Deathwing defeat Alexstrasza in single combat. The powers that be in Azeroth know Deathwing presents a mortal threat, so in the wake of all the chaos and destruction, forces are finally rallying to oppose him. That’s how patch 4.3 begins, with the major players of Azeroth gathering to decide how they are going to tackle this seemingly unstoppable monster.
Can you tell us about the new 5-player dungeons that lead into the Deathwing raid?
The short version is that the players are sent on a series of quests to recover the Dragon Soul artifact so Thrall and the other dragonflights will have the firepower they need to confront Deathwing. The new 5-player dungeons involve the Caverns of Time and require the players to go forward in time to witness a future where Deathwing has destroyed the world. Then, from that bleak future, they must go back in time to the War of the Ancients to recover the Dragon Soul and bring it back to the present. We’ve discussed a lot more details on the new 5-player dungeons in other interviews. They're going to lead in directly to the patch 4.3 raid instance, which is called Dragon Soul. When the raid begins, the players have recovered the Dragon Soul artifact and arrive at Wyrmrest Temple to find it under siege by Deathwing’s forces.
Aside from a battle with Deathwing, what other encounters do you have planned for the Dragon Soul raid?
When players first arrive at Wyrmrest, they have to fight off a variety of Deathwing’s minions who are laying siege to the temple. There’s Morchok, a stone giant who is pounding the base of Wyrmrest, and Warlord Zon’ozz and Yor’sajh the Unsleeping, two servants of the Old Gods in league with Deathwing who are summoning more minions to sack the gates.
In addition to lifting the siege around Wyrmrest, the players also have to return to the Eye of Eternity to get the Focusing Iris so the Dragon Aspects can refocus their power into the Dragon Soul. We have some new gameplay elements in mind for these raids, including a mechanic where players are granted the ability to dodge a deadly attack from a twilight dragon by phasing away.
What details can you tell us about the Deathwing raid? How does it differ from other raids?
Dragon Soul is the most story-driven raid we’ve ever created. We’re even building several cut scenes to transition between the last three stages of the final encounter with Deathwing.
The first stage occurs as players are flying on an airship, chasing down Deathwing while his Twilight's Hammer drake riders are swooping in to harry the pursuit. In the second stage, players paratroop commando-style onto Deathwing’s back and start ripping up his armor, trying to pry a hole big enough to give Thrall a clean shot with the Dragon Soul. During this phase, players are actually riding on Deathwing as he’s swooping around and trying to knock the players off with barrel rolls and such. Players will have to hang on at key points in the fight to avoid falling while also tangling with all kinds of monstrosities that are rising out of Deathwing’s corrupted magma blood. Once the players get enough of Deathwing’s armor off, Thrall blasts Deathwing with the Dragon Soul and sends him crash-landing into the Maelstrom.
Very cool! And the final stage?
Well, the interesting thing about Deathwing’s armor is that it wasn’t really built to keep things out--he doesn’t have to worry about weapons like swords and arrows. Instead it was built to keep things in. His body is this incredibly volatile mixture of corruptive energy and burning magma, so without his armor to hold it all together, he starts to lose it and come apart in all kinds of crazy ways. The final stage of the raid begins when Deathwing’s deformed body rises out of the Maelstrom to face off against the players in the final showdown. I won’t go into too much detail about this final stage, but I will say that it’s going to be unbelievably epic. Even in his weakened state, Deathwing still presents a major threat, and bringing him down will require the combined efforts of the players, Thrall, and even the other Dragon Aspects.
What difficulties did you encounter while designing the Deathwing battle?
It took a lot of new technologies to set up the fight on Deathwing’s back. The artists in particular focused on selling the fantasy that you’re grappling with a giant dragon midflight. We’ve never done anything quite like that before. Overall, setting the right scope for an encounter like Deathwing required a lot of development disciplines working together--artists, coders, encounter designers, level designers, and animators. We built corrupted Deathwing as a giant set piece with a lot of moving parts--probably our most complicated character model to date--but we felt it was necessary to convey the epic scale and do justice to the final boss of Cataclysm.
Let’s talk loot. What rewards await players who are strong enough to tackle Deathwing the Destroyer?
There will be a new tier of armor sets, of course. We’re also adding a new legendary weapon--a pair of daggers for rogues--with a new quest chain involved in obtaining them. The artists and animators are working on a new mount, a drake from the red dragonflight that borrows many visual elements from the Alexstrasza character model. Players can get one version of the new mount as the reward for the meta achievement for completing all other Dragon Soul achievements. There will also be a second, rarer version of the mount, that’s obtainable as a single, guaranteed drop off Heroic corrupted Deathwing.
Thanks for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to share before you go?
Sure, there’s a lot going into the next content update besides just the Dragon Soul raid--Transmogrification, Void Storage, the new Darkmoon Faire, and more. The patch should have something for everyone.
Be sure to check these links for all the latest details on the other features coming with patch 4.3:
Patch 4.3 Dungeons Preview, Part One: End Time
Patch 4.3 Dungeons Preview, Part Two: Well of Eternity
Patch 4.3 Dungeons Preview, Part Three: Hour of Twilight
Patch 4.3 Raid Preview: Dragon Soul
4.3 Preview - Transmogrification
4.3 Preview - Void Storage
4.3 Preview - New Darkmoon Faire
Every year, the brewmasters from Drohn’s Distillery, T’chali’s Voodoo Brewery, the Barleybrews, and the Thunderbrews celebrate their handiwork with two weeks of fun, frivolity, steins, spirits, and sausages right outside the gates of Ironforge and Orgrimmar. It’s an event that includes many opportunities for characters of all levels to drink together, participate in intoxicating quests, and earn many achievements that are only available during this holiday.
But it’s mainly about the brew!
With so many revelers enjoying the fermented fruits of the harvest -- pretzels, cheese, and booze -- it’s only a matter of time before the Dark Iron Dwarves from Blackrock Mountain will crash the party. You can team up and drive them back to the Grim Guzzler to earn valuable Brewfest Prize Tokens. If the Dark Iron are already running for the mountains, you can also earn tokens by completing daily keg deliveries, barking runs for the brewers, and other quests that you can drink your way through. After a few too many, you might even spot a pink elekk or wild wolpertinger.
This is also the only time of the year that groups of players can track down and fight the mug-wielding boss Coren Direbrew in Blackrock Depths. Coren Direbrew is even more powerful this year than in years past, with a stash of loot that he has spent all year improving and updating, and defeating him is your only chance to win a
Swift Brewfest Ram
Great Brewfest Kodo
. Don’t forget, as with any holiday-related boss you can queue up to take him on directly from the Dungeon Finder.
Don’t forget to join Gelbin Mekkatorque or Vol’jin at the stand in the Brewfest grounds at 6:15 a.m. and 6:15 p.m. every day during Brewfest, for the tapping of the keg. They’ll get your day or night started right with a buff that grants 10% extra experience from your kills for two hours.
Blizz Blues #32, Legendary #44 and The Weekly Marmot
Diablo III Beta Is Live
The fiery gates leading to the Burning Hells have begun to swing open, and the Diablo III beta test is officially underway. Invitations to participate in the beta test are now being delivered to the chosen heroes. As with beta tests for other Blizzard Entertainment games, the testing process for Diablo III will occur in phases. In addition to selecting players who have
via their Battle.net accounts, we’ll also be providing keys through beta promotions and giveaways -- stay tuned for more info. We welcome those invited to
provide feedback or report bugs
on the official forums.
If you have a beta license, you are free to show, share, or talk about any portion of the beta content to which you have access, as this beta test is not confidential.
We’d like to remind those looking forward to an invite to be wary of
. If you believe you’ve received an invite to the Diablo III beta test, it’s best to refrain from clicking on any links in the email, and instead
log in to your Battle.net account
to see if a Diablo III beta game account was granted. Or, if you were sent a key, attempt to add it manually by going to the
Add or Upgrade a Game
section of the Battle.net account management page.
For those who have received an invite to the beta test, we thank you for helping us test out our server stability and hardware. For those of you still hoping for an invite, we wish you the best of luck and hope you’ll keep an eye out for some of the beta-key giveaways and promotions we’ll have right here on the Diablo III community site.
For more information, please see the
beta opt-in announcement and FAQ
2 Million Facebook Likes
Over two million people are now following our
page! To show you how much we love you for "Liking" us, we've released a new desktop wallpaper image featuring Azeroth's favorite newlyweds, Thrall and Aggra, standing together against the fury of the Maelstrom. Head over to our
to download this picture-perfect moment for yourself, or to check out the rest of our wallpaper art.
Don't miss out on any Blizzard news or events! If you aren't already following us on Facebook, be sure to visit the official
New York Times
bestselling author Richard A. Knaak's latest book chronicles a series of pivotal events in the aftermath of the Cataclysm, as conflict engulfs every corner of Azeroth. Hungering for more resources amid the turmoil, the Horde have pressed into Ashenvale to feed their burgeoning war machine. There, acting warchief Garrosh Hellscream has employed a brutal new tactic to conquer the region and crush its night elf defenders. Unless the Alliance can overcome its own political strife, the new warchief might succeed in seizing Ashenvale.
is the story of King Varian Wrynn's struggle to accept the worgen of Gilneas into the Alliance and come to terms with the wolf within himself. As the Horde threat emerges in Ashenvale, Varian's ability to triumph over his own failings will determine the fate of the entire Alliance.
The breathing became labored, exhausted. The orcs heard stumbling.
Then there came a violent thud. The cage shuddered and almost slipped again. Only the strength of nearly two dozen struggling orcs kept that from happening.
Briln and the others waited several tense moments, but there was no renewed movement or sound. With caution, the captain approached the covered cage. Becoming more daring, he prodded the tarp.
Nothing happened. Briln exhaled in relief, then turned to the others. "Load that thing aboard, then get those bars bent back and that hole covered with something! Better make sure that there's always a sack of that herb concoction the shaman gave us ready to sprinkle on the thing's food! We can't afford this on the seas!"
The other orcs moved to follow his orders. The captain studied the silhouettes of the other ships. Each contained such a cage. The new warchief Garrosh had commanded that this venture be completed, regardless of the cost in seeing it done. Briln and the others here had not questioned that cost, either, for all would have readily perished for the legendary overlord of the Warsong offensive. Garrosh's deeds were epic and retold over and over in the Horde. He was also the son of the late Grom Hellscream and had been an advisor to Thrall, the orc leader who had freed their people from captivity.
Yes, no matter how many lives it had already cost and
likely cost by the time the fleet reached its destination, it was all worth it to Briln and the others. The Horde was at last within grasp of its destiny. It had the vitality, the drive, that this altered Azeroth deserved. Those who had held power so long in the world had become decadent... too
weak and soft
. The Horde--and especially the orcs--would finally stake its claim on the more lush regions that it needed not only to survive but finally to thrive as it had long deserved.
This recent Cataclysm, so Garrosh had impressed upon his people, was the great sign that this was their day. The world had been torn asunder, and to survive meant to be able to adapt to its much-transformed lands.
The crewmembers finally had the last cage loaded. Briln watched as they sealed the hull. They had a fair supply of the sleep powder in stock, and there were other threats that were supposed to keep the creatures in line, but the elder orc looked forward to the end of the journey.
Aboard deck, his first mate saluted. "Everything's secured, Captain! All set to sail on your word!"
"Get us going, then," Briln growled. "The sooner we get this cargo to Garrosh, the sooner it becomes the
The other orc grunted agreement, then turned to bellow Briln's command. In short order, the ship pulled away from the dock.
The winds whirled madly and thunder crashed. A storm was brewing, the last thing the fleet needed. Still, the captain thought it nothing compared to what the Horde's enemies would soon face. Briln stared beyond the dark, swirling waters, imagining the fleet's destination, imagining what his cargo would do once Garrosh had it under his reins.
And for a moment, Briln almost pitied Ashenvale's defenders, almost pitied the night elves.
But then... they
only night elves....
"Hail, King of Gilneas," the archdruid solemnly declared.
"Gilneas..." murmured the brawny, dour figure. Genn Greymane resembled a bear, albeit an aging one. No handsome man, he yet had a commanding presence and eyes still sharp and quick for a human of his more mature age. Unlike the night elf, Genn sported a much shorter, clipped beard. He stood taller than Eadrik, which brought him slightly nearer to the night elf in stature.
"Gilneas..." the king repeated. "In name only, Archdruid."
"For now!" Eadrik piped up.
"We shall see." Glancing at the other human, Genn added, "And why is the archdruid
? I asked you to see about an audience with him, not drag him to me--"
Malfurion interjected before the misunderstanding could grow out of proportion. "I told your man to take me to you, Genn. Your request coincided with my need to talk with you. Following Eadrik back saved valuable time."
"It's about the summit, Archdruid."
"Of course. Gilneas is one of the most prominent reasons I sought to bring it to fruition. Your people's admission to the Alliance is--"
-admission, you mean," the king growled with much bitterness. "After I was foolish enough to think that Gilneas was best served taking matters into its own hands."
"Genn! The curse was something beyond your control! You could not have--"
"It doesn't matter!" the lord of Gilneas growled, for the moment sounding more like an animal than a man. He leaned into the archdruid, and although Malfurion was still taller, to the night elf it seemed that their gazes met evenly. Genn seemed bigger, wilder. "It doesn't matter! We are and will always be cursed!"
Malfurion fought to take command of the conversation again. "We wanted to speak to one another about the gathering. The first emissaries will be arriving tomorrow."
Genn deflated. "Yes. The summit. They'll all have their chance to judge me for my foolish mistakes."
"I have been in contact with several of them. They understand the necessities of the time. They understand that you regret all that happened. They also can appreciate what you and your people can offer."
"And do they understand it's a double-edged sword they're offered, Archdruid?"
The night elf extended a comforting hand to the human's shoulder. Genn accepted it without question. "You have gained far better control of it than you think. You offer nothing but advantage, Genn. At the very least, they will have to seriously consider that aspect."
"I have no answer there," Malfurion admitted. "But I have great hope." The archdruid leaned closer. "He is coming. That was what I especially wanted to tell you."
"Stormwind is coming?" blurted Eadrik. "My lord! That means--"
"Exactly nothing," the king of Gilneas responded at first. Still, his eyes shone with hope of his own. "No... perhaps it means much... if he and I can set aside our differences. I know that I'm more than willing."
"Varian Wrynn is a wise man," the archdruid pointed out. "Stormwind would not be what it is if he were not."
Genn finally could not help smiling at the news. "As you say. This lightens my heart! There
a chance, after all. If he's coming, he must be willing to let bygones be bygones...."
Malfurion pulled back. "I need to return to dealing with the summit. I merely wanted to assure you that there is every reason to believe that Gilneas will be accepted into the Alliance. I want your promise that you will attend as previously stated and be willing to show your humility as well as your strength."
"I'll be doing my part, don't you doubt it, Archdruid." Genn offered his hand, which Malfurion shook. "There's my promise again on all we agreed to. If there's any hope of seeing our home again, it's to get through this summit."
"And I promise again to see that everyone understands the import of this... even Stormwind."
Genn Greymane signaled to Eadrik, who slipped into the forest. The lord of Gilneas gave Malfurion one last grateful nod. "I know you'll do all you can. It wouldn't have gotten this far without you, Archdruid." Genn gritted his teeth. "But from here on, you know it all lies in one man's hands."
"He will come to see things as they must be for all our sakes."
"I believe that, but let us pray to your Elune just the same. I'll take all the help we can get...." With that, the king slipped into the forest.
The archdruid stood there, momentarily caught up in his thoughts. His gaze fixed on the area into which Genn and Eadrik had departed.
A large, dark shape momentarily arose among the underbrush, then disappeared among the trees again. It was tall enough to be a man... but was not.
The sight, though expected, still jarred the night elf slightly. As he turned, he again silently swore to do everything he could to help the refugees from Gilneas, including ensure that they were welcomed back into the Alliance by everyone.
After all, they might never even have been cursed if not for
PayPal and Battle.net
We're pleased to announce that in most regions,
will be our payment-service partner for the Diablo III
, allowing players who trade with real-world currency the ability to cash out the spoils of their battle-torn adventures via a PayPal account.
PayPal will also soon be added in several regions as a payment option on Battle.net, providing another convenient and secure payment method for digital purchases of Blizzard products and services.
We’ll share region-related specifics, as well as further details on everything mentioned above, in the near future. Stay tuned!
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4.3 Preview: Rogue Tier 13 Blackfang Battleweave
2011/09/20 at 11:05 AM
Adventurers will be tested like never before in 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the rogue tier 13 set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
A "bat-themed" armor set for rogues seems like a no-brainer, but we were careful to skirt the more obvious inspirations. World of Warcraft often makes playful references to pop culture, but it’s important -- particularly with player gear -- that what we create has integrity within our universe. Rogues look good in close-fitting masks, collars, and cowls rather than elaborate armored helms. It also helps reinforce the rogue's sneaky silhouette if the shoulder pads have a streamlined shape... even if that shape has sharp, bladed details.
Rogue Tier 1-12
Tier 13 Previews
Warrior Tier 13
Warlock Tier 13
Druid Tier 13
Shaman Tier 13
Mage Tier 13
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4.3 Preview: Mage Tier 13 Timelord Regalia
2011/09/15 at 11:13 AM
Adventurers will be tested like never before in 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the mage tier 13 set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
It’s fun to put a spin on any caster class that moves it away from the usual wizardly archetype, and this set provided the perfect opportunity to do just that. Gnomish clockwork technology is an established part of the Warcraft universe, but it’s not something we’ve incorporated into a tier of player armor before. The combination of moving cogs, quilted fabric, and lots of buckled straps give the set an intriguing "techno-mage" flavor.
Mage Tier 1-12
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4.3 Preview: Shaman Tier 13 Spiritwalker's Vestments
2011/09/14 at 8:06 PM
Adventurers will be tested like never before in
World of Warcaft
patch 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging from the conflict with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the shaman tier 13 armor set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
Shaman – Spiritwalker’s Vestments
The best shaman sets are a mix of the animal and the elemental. This tier combines huge wolf-skull shoulder pads, bone fetishes, and fur with glowing shards of amber crystal. The entire set is lashed together with lengths of rope and heavily stitched leather, which lends the set a savage bearing.
Shaman Tiers 1-12
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4.3 Preview: Druid Tier 13 Deep Earth Vestments
2011/09/13 at 11:28 AM
Adventurers will be tested like never before in 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the druid tier 13 set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
Deep Earth Vestments
The design called for "phosphorescent mushrooms, reminiscent of Zangarmarsh," so our main concern was avoiding making a helm that looked like a giant toadstool sombrero. We’re always looking to incorporate interesting light sources within a raid set, and bioluminescent vegetable growth certainly provides that. Twisting, organic shapes are often key elements of a druid set, and this tier is no exception, with writhing plant roots providing a frame for the glowing clusters of fungi.
Druid Tiers 1-12
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4.3 Preview: Warlock Tier 13 Faceless Shroud
2011/09/09 at 11:18 AM
Adventurers will be tested like never before in 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the warlock tier 13 set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
Warlock – Faceless Shroud
A set with the flavor of the Old Gods about it - General Vezax from the Ulduar raid was a reference point. Any warlock tier is a great opportunity to bring a dark and warped aesthetic to player gear and this set was especially ripe for the treatment.
Replacing the caster’s face with writhing tentacles was the ‘hook’ I started the concept with and built out from there. We always try to include numerous points of illumination into a tier set as it helps to tie the various armour pieces together – whether that be glowing gemstones, fiery runes or, as in this case, bulging otherworldly eyes!
Warlock Tiers 1-12
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4.3 Preview: Warrior Tier 13 Colossal Dragonplate
2011/09/08 at 8:18 PM
It looks like Blizzard's started to share more 4.3 content, this time showing us the warrior set of tier 13! Inspired heavily by Deathwing himself, this set is pretty ferocious and very red.
We'd like to remind you that
we have several huge and in-depth guides to transmogrifying
--Blizzard links images in this preview of previous warrior tiers, but doesn't tell players where to get the items. But don't worry, we do!
Don't forget earlier that
were posted, either.
Adventurers will be tested like never before in 4.3 as they take on Deathwing and his minions, emerging with powerful new treasures. Please enjoy this preview of the warrior tier 13 set, as well as a visual guide to tiers 1 through 12 for
Warrior – Colossal Dragonplate
A simple concept: let's make a Warrior Tier that looks like Deathwing! Gnarled dragon horn and angular elementium plating with burning fire behind it were the key ingredients.
The shoulder pads and helmets are uniquely modeled for each set, and that gives us great opportunities to create eye-catching silhouettes. In this instance, the sweeping horn shapes ensure a powerfully brutal-looking set for warriors.
Warrior Tiers 1-12
Remember, if you want to find out where to get those previous sets,
check out our guide
Dev Watercooler: Rate of Change
Not to be outdone, Ghostcrawler came out with a blog at the exact same time about the rate of change. He's been a very verbous crab lately, so this is another long post explaining how the developers attempt to keep WoW from being stale--focusing on design elements and how developers approach tasks.
How the Developers Decide What Needs to Be Changed and When
My previous two blogs spelled out some upcoming changes. This isn’t going to be one of those blogs. If you care mostly about WoW news, and less about the design process behind the game, then you might want to skip this one.
A lot of game design is striking a balance, and I use that term not only to mean making sure that all the various classes are reasonably fair, but also to mean that it’s easy to go to one extreme or the other. You even have to strike a balance in how many changes you make. On the one extreme, if you don’t change anything, then the game feels stale and players understandably get frustrated that long-standing bugs or game problems aren’t addressed. On the other extreme, too much change can produce what we often call the “roller coaster effect,” where the game design feels unstable and players, particularly those who play the game more sporadically, can’t keep up. I wanted to discuss today some of our philosophy on change, how much is too much, and when we think a change is necessary.
First, Some Technical Background
World of Warcraft is a client-server game. The servers (which are the machines on our end) handle important, rules-y things like combat calculations and loot rolls. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, it makes it much easier to share information across groups. When a rogue stabs your priest, it’s helpful for both your computer and the rogue’s computer to agree about when and where a hit occurred and how much damage was caused (and what procs went off as a result, etc.) Second, we can trust the server in ways that we can’t trust home or public computers.
Over time, as our programming team has grown more experienced and picked up additional talented engineers, we have been able to make larger and in some cases bolder server updates without also having to update your client. Updating the client (the game on your computer) requires a patch. This can be a large patch, such as 4.2, which introduced the Molten Front questing area and the Firelands raids, or it can be a small patch, like 4.2.2, which fixed some bugs. Client patches are fairly involved. They take a lot of time to create and test, and they carry some amount of risk, because if we botch anything, we have to issue another client patch to fix it.
Changing the game code on the server has become much easier for us. There is still risk involved, but it’s also much easier for us to fix any mistakes. We call these server changes hotfixes, because often times we are able to deploy them even while you are playing. If we hotfixed Mortal Strike’s damage, you might suddenly do more or less damage in the middle of a fight. Players sometimes call changes like these stealth nerfs or buffs if we haven’t announced the hotfix yet (or in rare cases, if we don’t intend to announce them at all). We generally can’t hotfix, at least not yet, things like art, sound, or text, so we won’t, for example, add a new boss or swap a weapon’s art around without a client patch (though we could enable a boss that had been previously added via a client patch).
I mention all of that just to explain that one reason you see so many hotfixes these days is because we have the technical ability to do so. That doesn’t mean that the game has more bugs, more boneheaded design decisions, or more class balance problems than previously. It just means we can actually fix those problems today while in the past, we (and you) might have to wait for months until the next big patch day. Overall, we don’t think it’s fair to our players to make you all wait for things that are quick for us to fix. Whether or not players are excited about the change depends a lot on the nature of the change. If we fixed a bugged class ability, that is often greeted with gratitude by players playing that class… unless the fix lowers their damage, or requires them to swap out gems and enchants to benefit from the newly repaired ability.
With Great Power Comes…
That’s the challenge in all of this. If your hunter is topping meters by a small fraction, you might ask: what’s the rush? And many players do. But you have to consider that other players are miffed that their raid leader might sit a warlock in the interest of bringing a third hunter (since their damage is so awesome) or might be really frustrated that they are so likely to lose to your hunter in PvP. “Necessary change” is absolutely in the eye of the beholder.
We try to gather a lot of voluntary information from players -- when they are cancelling their subscription, for example -- about why they feel the way they do. Over time, we have seen concerns about class balance decrease and concerns about frequent game changes increase. Clearly there is a risk that we can change things too much and drive players away. The roller coaster effect of too many changes can be wearying to the community, even if each individual change is made with a noble goal. We have to balance the goal of providing fixes when we think they are warranted with the whiplash or fatigue that can come from players feeling like they constantly have to relearn how the game works. We debate constantly whether a change needs to be made immediately or whether we can sit on a problem for an extended period of time.
There are no hard and fast rules that help us resolve these conflicts, so I thought it might be easier to just give you a few examples of the kinds of things we might be tempted to change in a hotfix, patch, or expansion, and the kinds of things we would not.
Example One: Spec Parity
After looking at many raid parses, we conclude that Arcane mage damage now routinely beats Fire mage damage. (There are a lot of elements to this discussion that I’m ignoring right now in the interest of keeping the scope of the decision to something I can reasonably discuss.) For example, if Fire is better than Arcane on AE fights, that has to factor into the decision. If Fire is harder to play or if Fire is more inherently random, then that also has to factor into our decision. Even if you ignore all of those confounding issues, this is still a really tricky call. Ideally, we want players who like Fire to be able to play Fire without feeling like they are holding back their friends.
The extent to which Fire can fall behind Arcane and still be “viable” is very dependent. For some players, having the two specs within 10% damage of each other is close enough. Others will swap specs for a theoretical (i.e. not even proven empirically) 1% gain. If we could make a number of tweaks to Fire and be very confident that they bring Fire up to Arcane’s level, then we feel like we owe it to players to do so.
There are a number of risks with this decision though. If our buffs to Fire made them more dangerous in PvP, then we’d have to be very careful about the change. If more mages going Fire meant that some utility or raid buff brought by the Arcane mages was now harder to get, then we’d have to be careful about the change. But the worst outcome, from our perspective, is if we overshoot our goals. If that happens players who like Arcane might feel like they have to swap to Fire, which might involve regemming, reforging, and re-enchanting and might make them mad that they had rolled on that item that dropped last week. It just puts players in a bad position.
When players talk about being on a design roller coaster, this is often what they mean. Last week, Arcane was the spec to play. Before that, maybe it was Frost. Next week, who knows what it will be. We’ve absolutely screwed this up before, where we thought we were creating more parity between say hunter or warrior or DK specs, but the actual result was that it made players feel like they needed to respec. Given enough time, we can get pretty close on our balance tuning, but hotfixes and often even patch changes can’t always benefit from sufficient testing.
Remember, it’s not about how much damage the Fire and Arcane mage do against target dummies. What matters to players (and us) is how they do on individual encounters given a wide range of player skill, raid comp, and constantly shifting allocations of gear, PvP comps, etc. We will often take larger risks when there is a major difference in play style. It’s harder to ask an Enhancement shaman to swap to Elemental than it is to ask a Demo lock to go Destro. That may not seem fair to the player who really likes Demo, but we have to weigh the risk to the game and to the player base as a whole with even small changes that appear totally safe at first.
Example Two: Creative Use of Game Mechanics
A lot of smart people work on World of Warcraft, but there is still no way that we can compete intellectually or creatively with the combined efforts of the millions of you. Despite our best efforts, players are frighteningly brilliant at coming up with creative solutions that never occurred to us. There are a wide variety of examples here: A player finds a very old trinket, set bonus, or proc-based weapon that works really well on new content; a raid comes up with a strategy that makes a boss much easier than we intended; an Arena team finds a way to layer their crowd control or burst damage that is virtually impossible to counter.
A lot of the fun of World of Warcraft is problem solving. Our general philosophy is not to punish players for being creative. We try to give groups the benefit of the doubt as much as we can. If a boss ends up being slightly easier because players group up when we expected them to spread out, or they crowd control adds much better than we thought they were able to do, then we just silently congratulate the players for being clever. If a boss ends up being much easier than intended, then we might very well take action. (Overall though, we hotfix and patch in far more nerfs to encounters than buffs.)
Where we are more likely to take action is if it forces players into odd behavior, especially behavior that they won’t enjoy. If raids feel like they have to go farm really old content for a particular trinket, or if the raid feels like it has to sit six players in order to bring one particular spec who has an ability that trivializes a fight, then we’re more likely to do something. These kinds of changes are really subjective and involve a lot of internal discussion. Just remember that our litmus test is usually “Are players having fun?” and not “Are they doing something we didn’t expect?”
Example Three: Encounter Difficulty
With encounters, the decision almost always comes down to whether to make a hotfix or not. Waiting until patch 4.3 to make significant changes to 4.2 encounters once the focus for a lot of players moves on to 4.3 isn’t necessarily development time well spent. When new dungeons or raids launch, our initial philosophy is just to get all of the nails in the board at the same height, which means prying some up to be taller and banging a lot down to be shorter. After a week or so, we hardly ever buff encounters to make them more difficult. We tend to bundle several of these changes together, often when a new week starts, so that they tend to feel like a micro patch and not just a constant stream of boss nerfs.
For raids, we look at curves indicating the number of new players who beat an encounter each week. That slope tends to be steep at first as the most talented guilds race through the content, and then slows down as other players make progress. It’s time for us to step in when the lines flatten out and no new players are beating the content. It’s a bit easier for the five-player dungeons because we want players to prevail almost all the time. Nobody wants to go back to Throne of the Tides week after week until they finally beat Lady Naz’jar.
The statistics we look at the most are number of attempts to beat the dungeon boss, how many kills the boss gets, and how long the dungeon took to complete. Bosses such as Ozruk in Stonecore at Cataclysm launch were strong outliers. Sometimes we can handle these changes by tuning alone (lowering boss damage for instance) and sometimes we need to change encounter mechanics to the extent we can via hotfixes, which actually gives us a pretty big toolbox since almost all creature information is on the server.
Example Four: Class Rotation Change
There are a couple of sub-categories here: intentional and unintentional changes. Often we make fixes to make a class more fun to play. Allowing Arms warriors to refresh Rend without having to constantly reapply the debuff was a quality of life change to make the rotation a little less obnoxious to play. It also ended up being a moderate DPS buff as well. It forced Arms players to relearn their rotation slightly, but it was an improvement overall, and not too many players complained.
Example Five: Overpowered Specs
This would seem to be a pretty cut-and-dried case, but is one of the most controversial, because the community will never agree on when someone is overpowered or when someone is so overpowered that the developers need to step in. Being nerfed sucks. Period.
Players would typically rather we buff everyone but their spec rather than nerf their spec, even if the outcome is the same. It’s totally human nature to want other specs nerfed immediately, but when it’s your own character that’s in question, you wonder: what’s all the rush, man? Again, it comes down not to the developers being cold-hearted bastards (though we are) but to whether or not players are having fun. It’s fun for you to be a one man army. It’s not fun when the one man army rolls over you. It’s fun for you to top meters. It’s not fun for when you feel like you have no hope of competing with the guy topping meters.
Also keep in mind that when we make class adjustments via hotfix, we want to make the simplest fix possible that addresses the problem so we minimize the risk of us breaking something else and minimize how much testing we need to do before we can deploy the change. This is the main reason we are more likely to nerf via hotfix than to buff everyone else, because it’s just fewer changes. (Remember, that if we buffed everyone up to the DPS of the outlier, that we might very well have to buff creatures as well to keep you from trivializing content, which adds a lot more overhead to the change.)
I also want to point out that we virtually never make stealth class nerfs these days, at least not intentionally. It just makes players really paranoid to think their damage might change from under them. At worst, our programmers will manage to deploy a change before the community team gets it documented in the latest hotfix blog, but that situation shouldn’t usually last more than a few hours.
Example Six: Exploits
There is a gray area between when players know they are doing something they shouldn’t be doing and when they’re not sure if the developers would consider what they’re doing to be crossing the line. As I said above, we generally give players the benefit of the doubt. If they found something clever to do and it doesn’t give them an unfair advantage or make other players feel underpowered, then we will often do nothing, at least in the short term.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad guys out there who attempt to break the game in the name of personal profit or just because they have a malicious nature. We feel like we owe it to the other players to stomp out these abuses when they happen. Understandably, we also don’t want to publicize these changes too much. If one guy figured out a way to solo a boss to reap huge gold profits, we don’t then want to give ideas to thousands of other players by pointing out the loophole he found and how we fixed it. These also aren’t changes that we feel like we can sit on for very long. We need to get them out quickly.
I just wanted to point this out because sometimes players scratch their heads about a patch note that we made to prevent or discourage exploitive behavior. “Was anyone really doing this?” is a common reaction. Just remember that by their very nature, these kinds of changes are going to be on the down low, and they need to stay that way.
Example Seven: Expansions
We generally save up a lot of design changes for expansions. We know even this is too much for some players who don’t want to have to relearn their character’s rotation, let alone how glyphs work or what the new PvE difficulty philosophy is. However, we feel like we ultimately have to fix the problems we perceive in the game design if we want to keep players playing the game. In this case, we think some reasonable amount of change for change’s sake is desirable.
We hear from players who say “My dude hasn’t fundamentally changed in years,” and they want something, anything, that makes them look at their character in a new light. We don’t want to fix things that aren’t broken of course, but we do want to make sure that a new expansion feels all new. Expansions are opportunities to reinvigorate the player base and the gameplay itself. Therefore, you shouldn’t always view a class revamp as meaning your character is horribly broken and adrift on a sea of designer ignorance and apathy. We probably won’t ever reach a point where a particular class has reached perfection and no additional design iteration is necessary. Change, in moderation, is healthy.
Stuff like this is why I say game design is an art and not a science. Given the opportunity, there is no doubt various among you would make individual design decisions differently, and in some cases I have no doubt your decision might have been better. We’d love to see discussion on this issue, though. How much change is good? When can a problem chill for a few months as opposed to needing immediate attention? How much risk should we undertake to bring small, quality of life changes? Are we on the right track? Insane? Is this just more propaganda from the Ghostcrawler Throne of Lies?
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer on World of Warcraft. He has an unnatural disdain for the male night elf shoulder roll.
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