Winning Isn’t Enough?

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

There’s a topic in the Hearthstone subreddit that really irks me – Should the players that win the maximum number of times in the Arena get some sort of additional reward because they did so?

The suggested reward is tame enough to merit discussion as the absence of gold cards in the Arena seems like an oversight or planned purchasable option later but the origin of the suggestion is entirely offensive. Since when is winning not enough? 12 wins already awards the most gold, has the highest chance for an additional card pack or golden card, and gives the least dust. Is winning the highest possible number of matches already so pedestrian that another reward is needed?

Again, the idea of getting gold cards from an Arena run isn’t a bad idea. I’d still prefer that golden cards in the Arena simply stem from your collection – if you have a golden version of the card you drafted, you can use it. Maybe a checkbox or an icon that toggles available golden cards for the Arena deck or on an individual basis would work. If selecting a card from the Arena deck is way the wind wants to blow, however, let everyone who drafts make such a selection after the deck has been made, or maybe as it’s being drafted. Other than the experience and knowledge, previous Arena runs don’t matter in the system. There’s no rank structure, no identifier of merit or proficiency aside from forum fame and stream success. Keep it that way.

Speaking of the Arena, there’s another Arena tier list for drafting out. Made by reddit user AntiGrav1ty, the list ranks class cards as well as commons, and is organized around the classes themselves. It’s fairly comprehensive and definitely worth a gander. However, it is just a list and doesn’t have the commentary something like Trump’s card ranking does. Regardless, the tiers are useful. Maybe with some bugging and general encouragement the author(s) can provide some insight onto why some cards are ranked the way they are.

Patches, Delays, and Legends

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Another Hearthstone patch hit a few days ago, guided by development lasers focused entirely on Jaina and her delay tactics. The changes are simple, a delay on the delay – Cone of Cold, Frost Nova, and Blizzard all had their costs increased by 1. A bit more room to maneuver against the inevitable Pyroblast.

And Open Beta is delayed until January 2014. Everyone who opted in the closed before December 16th should be playing and complaining about decks with six legendaries stuffed inside. The closed beta opt ins close January 7th, open beta should follow soon after. The major delays have come from the nitty gritty stuff – server infrastructure and hardware. Settling up the servers, databases and hardware takes time and planning. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it does happen. Be patient and Hearthstone will be out sooner than you expect.

More top ranked players, too. There’s been some fluctuation and rank swapping with the new round. A few of them have streams, too, so watching and learning from the best is a possible path to success. They lack the sheer numbers of Trump, Kripp, Hafu, and the other big name players so they’re more able to answer questions and interact with the audiences. No disrespect intended to the celebrities but the reward of fame is also its price. Consider spreading the Twitch.tv love around. I’m considering starting a channel for myself and give you fellow card slingers another way to waste time.

I also got my first 9 win arena streak the day before the 12 win cap was released. As much as I dislike Garrosh, the warrior and I seem to speak the same language. Rushes, injuries, weapons, sacrifices. Thrall and I don’t, despite my desperate attempts to make it work. Maybe I’m more Warsong than Frostwolf. Regardless, I know I hate Anduin.

See you in game!

Upcoming Patch

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Products News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Another patch coming for Hearthstone, another round of card changes and adjustments.

As we move further into the closed beta, we’re continuing to closely monitor card balance as more and more Hearthstone games are played. We also want to ensure that cards acquired in Hearthstone are done fairly through our various game modes.

The amount of gold gained by winning games in Play mode per day will be capped at 100 in the upcoming patch. This cap does not affect gold gained through Quests, Arena, or Achievements. There will be an indication within the game when this gold cap is reached. This cap is intended to combat certain methods of gold acquisition that violate our Terms of Service. The spirit of fair play is extremely important to us, and we will continue to monitor gold acquisition activity closely to ensure a fun and enjoyable game environment for everyone.

In regards to card balance, there are a few cards we’ve noticed that have sprung up that warrant some tuning, and we’ll be making these changes in the next patch. Our goal is to change as few cards as possible over the course of time, but we felt the need to address these six cards in particular. The cards are:Shattered Sun Cleric, Flame Imp and Argent Commander. These cards will be adjusted along with the other cards we mentioned at BlizzCon: Mind Control, Starving Buzzard and Unleash the Hounds.

Shattered Sun Cleric is now a 3/2 (was a 3/3)

Argent Commander is now a 4/2 (was a 4/3)

  • These cards are quite good for their cost, and they currently feel to be slightly above the curve in power compared to cards of a similar cost and type. Players end up choosing these cards for their deck much more often than other cards at the same mana cost. We want to increase the variety of cards being played at 3 and 6 mana.

Flame Imp’s Battlecry now deals 3 damage (up from 2)

  • Warlocks have a very strong early game, and this small change to Flame Imp should help a small amount. There are other cards that help the Warlock maintain early board advantage, and we’re keeping a close eye on those as time goes on.

Mind Control’s mana cost is now 10 (up from 8)

  • Mind Control has some pretty accurate flavor text … perhaps a little too accurate. Raising the mana cost will allow players to have a couple more turns to play with their big minions.

Starving Buzzard is now a 2/1 (was a 2/2)

  • At some ranks, Hunter was a bit strong versus Druids, Mages and Rogues. This change to Starving Buzzard will help even the playing field against those classes in particular.

Unleash the Hounds has been reworked and now reads: “(4) For each enemy minion, summon a 1/1 Hound with Charge”.

  • The old version of Unleash the Hounds was allowing for Hunters to win in a single turn, starting with no minions on the board. The new version adds some fun, new card combos to Hunters and helps with their ability to AoE.

We hope these changes will increase your versatility and creativity in making card choices for your decks, and helps to make Hearthstone a more fun game for all to enjoy.

 

The main changes I’m concerned with are the hits to SSC and AC. SSC is powerful for a 3 cost minion, even for a 4 cost minion. As sad as I am about it, dropping her health by 1 is probably the best move. Likewise for the Commander. He’s still almost a guaranteed 2 for 1 trade, the opponent just has more options to trade with him. I don’t Gul’dan much, or against him often, so the change to Flame Imp is one I’m more curious about than wary of. I feel sorry for Starving Buzzard – another target for Jaina to plink away. Unleash the Hounds might be more balanced, it might also be useless. I’d rather it summon a set number of hounds every time than a number that may or may not be useful depending on my opponent’s board size. A bunch of 1/1s with charge probably won’t save me if I get to summon them.

I celebrate the MC change. MC should be a dramatic game changer but it’s often so deflating, morale wise, that continuing past that point feels more fruitless than it might be. Flamestrike can wipe your entire board but it doesn’t hurt as much as MC.

As far as the gold cap, I don’t play 30+ games a day. Those that do are probably machines or machine like. You can still earn full gold from quests, achievements, and whatever so no worries there.

And no wipe! Grommash Hellscream stays in my library!

A Mildly Triumphant Return

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

I took a break from Hearthstone after BlizzCon. The announcements were announced, a bit of the next patch was discussed, but I mostly came away with an anticipatory feeling. My curiosity about the game’s future was stoked, my enthusiasm for its current form was still waning. So, a break. It ended up being much longer than I intended – the flu will do that – but after sometime languishing in bed and stuffing myself full of dense Thanksgiving goodies, I returned to the kinetic world of Hearthstone anew.

With no patch during my leave, little has changed mechanically about the game. There have been a few fun streams to watch, some good discussions to be had, but Hearthstone is Hearthstone. That makes sense – the game is still in beta, it’s still a growing community, and it has only one card set.

That’s the main thing to follow: one card set. The mechanics of Hearthstone aren’t as complex as, say, Dota 2. Valve kept that game in beta for years because each hero is so intricate and tweaking each hero’s abilities gives new metagame potential, team fight strategies, and lane tactics. Adding new heroes is akin to reshuffling the entire game.

Hearthstone is reaching a stable point. A basic metagame has formed for both Arena and Play and there are specific cards everyone uses, almost regardless of deck style. This isn’t a bad thing. Quite the contrary, it’s a good thing. The more stable the game becomes, the closer it will be to an official release. The Hearthstone team has some idea of what they want Hearthstone to look like when it launches and, given all the data they collect, they must have a good idea how to get there.

So my return to Hearthstone wasn’t a resigned one. Not much has changed, sure, but it’s a solid game I still enjoy. It’s a bit steadier, a bit more predictable (aside from those infuriating top decks), and rewarding skilled play with more regularity. Decks are easier to design and anticipate. My first arena run back in the saddle went 7-3 and I was feverish and exhausted with the flu. Maybe I’m getting better, or maybe the game is reaching a point I understand more. Is there a difference?

As it stabilizes, expect the designers to throw curve balls to keep the game fresh. The first is a patch followed by the open beta. A retooling of a few cards and a swarm of new players will boost activity in the game. After that, I imagine the first card expansion will be along shortly. I hope the card expansions come a little quicker than the other Blizzard IP expansions – 2 years is a long time to wait.

A MOBA by any Other Name

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzCon, BlizzCon 2013, Heroes of the Storm

Dota 2 is complicated. It doesn’t have a learning curve so much as a learning wall. The volume of information to memorize and master is immense and intimidating: the multitude of hero builds, items, crafting, ward locations, creep respawn timers, rune types and timers, the hundreds of hero powers and status effects that can change them. Factor in team fight tactics, lane strategies, and meta game organization and the game has moved from complex to daunting, even unwieldy. That’s just the knowledge required to play, not the mechanical skill required from the player like last hitting, hero ability timing, and map awareness. I’ve put more 500 hours into Dota 2, and about as many in the original, and I’m passable with a few heroes.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Heroes of the Storm so in my first game at BlizzCon I dropped my expectations. Whatever I played was whatever I was going to judge the game on. I’ve read the briefs from Blizzard, watched the videos, but I wanted to go in as open as possible. I did, I think. Over the course of the two day Blizzard celebration I spent about 4 hours with Heroes of the Storm and played 6 games with different heroes each time. My time certainly wasn’t wasted. Heroes is fun, but that’s almost unnecessary to say as a fan of MOBAs. It’s got the standard trappings – lanes, heroes, pushing, and frantic team fighting – but Heroes does a few things differently.

First, there are no items (and no gold!). None. At all. No health potions, no tangos, no town portal scrolls. Your hero has a town portal ability that recharges. I don’t miss the items. They serve a purpose in other MOBAs but items usually come with the baggage of being boring most of the time. They improve stats or damage, rarely adding powers or altering the ones a hero has. It’s easy to be crippled by missing an item or two because you’re not attacking as fast as you should be. The lack of items means the hero powers improve significantly on their own or via talents. It’s a simple system that leaves more cognitive power for fighting and less for GPM and shopping.

heroes-of-the-storm-logo-685x200

No last hitting. This isn’t unique to Heroes, *cough*League of Legends*cough*, but it’s not common either. Last hitting is usually the sign of a precise, skilled player in Dota. It’s how you earn most of your gold. With no gold to gather, last hitting has gone out the window. I don’t mind it in Dota but I didn’t miss it here.

Shared XP. Not reduced XP when another hero is close by, but even, shared XP for all heroes. Everyone levels at the same time. Your carries won’t be 22 while your support are struggling at 10. The even power curve makes everyone solid in a team fight – no Crystal Maiden syndrome.

Mounts! What’s a Blizzard game without animals you can sit on? Mounts do exactly what you’d expect – they help the heroes move faster. Easier grouping, more team fights. Everyone wins, except those that die.

The differences Heroes has from the other MOBAs reflect the game’s thesis: it’s about the hero punching, plain and simple. There are creep waves and towers and forts but Heroes wants you and your friends to square off against 5 opponents and beat each other silly. It succeeds on that goal – no one I spoke with didn’t enjoy their time with Heroes and want more.

So who were the heroes I played?

Falstad and Nova from the Assassins, Sonya from the Warriors, Malfurion and Uther from Support, and Abathur from the Specialists type. The highlights:

  • I enjoyed Malfurion the most but that’s because I’m biased – I love playing support and looking like a weirdo. He heals well, roots, and silences.
  • Uther heals well, gives his buddies invulnerability through Divine Shield, and can stun. Like any paladin, he’s sort of a frustration to counter but rewarding to play.
  • Nova is a sniper. Chances are that if she shot you, you’re not going to live very long. She hits hard, summons an annoying clone, and can call a nuclear strike. It’s as great as it sounds.
  • Abathur is…different. He’s interesting. He’s a mix of Lifestealer and Wisp which makes him absolutely terrible to fight against. He’s rated “Very Hard” to play and it shows.
  • It’s not that Falstad isn’t fun, it’s that the others were much more fun. I really liked flying over the jungle and descending on enemies as a hammer throwing alcoholic.
  • Sonya didn’t feel particularly special. Her abilities are simple and straight forward, as one would expect a barbarian would be. Maybe for the carries out there that like fighting and fighting and fighting (any Alchemist fans?) but she was the lull in my hero selection.

Heroes is a fun game so far. I want to play more. Boy do I want to play more. Hint hint, community reps. It’s got some room to grow and I look forward to watching (and hopefully playing) as it does so.

Because Everyone Needs Weapons!

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Five of the nine Heroes have weapons, and several. It makes sense that they’d swing swords or axes or shoot arrows and the casting classes wouldn’t. A melee mage isn’t a viable build in Hearthstone’s progenitor. But mages, priests, warlocks, and druids still use weapons. A warlock without a weapon is half a warlock. I’ve taken the liberty of creating some epic quality weapons for the Heroes currently unarmed. To keep things balanced I’ve also added some epics for the already equipped.

Mage
Staff of the Shadowflame
6, 1/5 – +2 Spell Damage. Each time you cast a spell, lose 1 durability.

Priest
Anathema and Benediction
5, 1/1 – Your hero power now heals friendly targets and damages enemy targets.

Warlock
Healthstone
4, 0/3 – Lose 1 durability, restore 3 health to a friendly target your Hero.

Druid
Fist of Cenarius
6, 2/3 – Draw a card each time you attack.

And for the weapon ready:

Rogue
Evasion
6 – You are immune until your next turn.

Paladin
Silver Hand Champion
7, 4/5 – Battlecry: Give all other friendly minions Divine Shield.

Shaman
Lightning Shield
5 – Deal 3 4 damage to your next 3 attackers.

Warrior
Thunder Clap
5 – Deal 1 damage to all enemy minions and reduce their attack 1 until your next turn.

Hunter
Scattershot
6 – Your opponent cannot cast any spells any cards next turn.

They’re almost certainly not balanced so why not offer some suggestions in comments?

VanCleef trips!

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Products News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

And no longer has stealth.

The patch notes for the upcoming Hearthstone patch have been released and they’re lengthy. Lots of balance changes (the ringleader has less health now) and piles of bug fixes. Secret and fatigue animations have been sped up and there’s some clarity as to why you get a coin when going second.

The full notes are available here.

Hearthstone Closed Beta Patch Notes

Written by Andy Go on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, BlizzPlanet Articles, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

wipeout

Today is the day for our Hearthstone Closed Beta patch! This patch also includes the account wipe, so when the servers are available for play once more, you’ll be starting again as if you were a new player. For more information on the wipe itself, please revisit our Account Wipe Incoming blog post, found here. Now, onto the patch notes!

General

  • The maximum level is now 60, and you can earn XP in any game mode up to max level.
  • Chat has been rejiggered.
  • Gold gained in Play mode has changed from 5 gold per 5 wins to 10 gold per 3 wins.
  • You can now acquire Golden Basic minions at higher experience levels.
  • Arena rewards now give less dust and more cards.
  • More gold is guaranteed at 5 & 6 Arena wins.
  • At 9 Arena wins, you are now guaranteed an extra pack or a Golden card.
  • The animations for Secrets and Fatigue have been sped up dramatically.
  • All cards now have flavor text when you view them in your collection.
  • “Spell Power +1” has been renamed “Spell Damage +1”.
  • Heroes can be unlocked in any mode (Play/Arena/Practice)
  • Play, Practice and Friendly Play modes will now default to the custom deck selection UI if you’ve previously created a deck
  • You can now click on chat bubbles to respond
  • Social – When your friends complete an Arena run or get a Legendary card in a pack, you’ll be notified so you can tell them, “Grats!”
  • Quests that required you to win with a class now give you a choice between 2 classes.

Favorite Arena Picks

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

More than flair, Hearthstone’s Arena is about solid cards that carry themselves. Synergy is something to spot as the deck is drafted but each pick is more about the best card at face value and not its potential when combined with a complex strategy. Constructed decks are where theme and flair can manifest with real power and presence.

But what cards have the best potential in a draft? Exact favorites vary from drafter to drafter, from deck to deck, but four out of five times I pick these cards over anything else presented. I wish I could swap most of these for a rare or even an epic when my choices are things like Angry Chicken, Coldlight Seer, or Hungry Crab.

Venture Co. Mercenary

Venture_Co._Mercenary

Its effect isn’t great, but he’s a nasty threat. It also puts your opponent in an uncomfortable position – they have to deal with him or risk him running over a weaker taunt minion or chopping the health pool down in big swings. But dealing with him removes the minion inflation cost, usually meaning you’ve baited out a polymorph, hex, or a heavy hitter of the enemy’s. Not bad for a five cost.

How many minions again?

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Hearthstone provides a useful graph of information when constructing an Arena deck: the mana curve. It’s an invaluable chart that can help smooth out the transition from early to mid to late game, fix problems as you construct a deck (too many high costs cards, or no beefy minions at all). Certain deck strategies can subvert the curve or ignore it entirely, but most decks and their players watch it carefully. I’d like the mana curve added when making custom decks in Play mode because of how useful it is. I consider its absence an oversight and it hopefully appears later.

I’d like to see another graph added to Hearthstone’s deck construction: a minion versus spell chart. While not as vital as the mana curve, displaying a bit of info about the number of minions in your deck as well as the number of spells would be helpful. A mana curve taken at face value can be deceptive because it doesn’t distinguish between card types. Lots of cost spells may keep your curve smooth but a lack of early minions may leave you vulnerable. It’s not too troublesome to count the totals or track them externally but implementing such a feature seems like a natural addition to an already robust and informative UI.

As long as I’m talking about things I’d like added to a free game, how about showing cards by type? Neutrals and class cards, basics and experts, commons, rares, epics, and legendaries. The growing list of charts could be situated across from the deck list, or a button could be added next to the deck list to flip it over and display the information. Swap, swap.

These are minor suggestions from an immensely satisfied customer, however. The game is kinetic and fun, the cards well illustrated and expansive. I’d still really like banter from the heroes to each other. There are potentially more boards in the works, which is great, but I hate waiting for them. Personally I’d love to see an Undercity board with rats scurrying across the play area, maybe dodging cards. And anything from Northrend.

What about you? Any locales you’re waiting for? Any information you’d like Hearthstone to display?

Update: I am a fool. The mana curve is available in constructed: hover over a hero’s image and you can see your current curve.

hearthstone-beta-logo-patch-3749

Ben Brode Doesn’t Flip Coins

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Games News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Well, he probably does. Who doesn’t? But he’s careful and doesn’t leave the construction of Hearthstone to chance and whimsy. In a previous column I discussed the issues with the coin that most players are stirred up about. It’s a hot button issue – the coin has proponents and detractors. Hearthstone’s forums are brimming with threads discussing, at length, the impact of that little card.

But none carry as much weight as the words of Mr. Brode. In a post on the Hearthstone forums Brode details the history behind its inception, the logic for its purpose, and the hard numbers of the coin’s actual significance in games. With Hearthstone’s systems closely monitored by developers the figures aren’t amorphous, specific samples from a handful of games but rather a complete and exhaustive data set. And they provide some incredible insight into the coin’s impact.

Across all leagues, 52.2% of wins are for the player who goes first. In master league, where the giants fight, that imbalance shrinks to 50.4%. The advantage of going first isn’t insurmountable and the coin seems to be fulfilling its role as a field leveler. The passionate responses it stirs may be more related to its potential for momentum shifting: dropping a heavy minion a turn before it’s expected or delivering a powerful combo attack (as has been done to me with frustrating regularity).

Arena statistics aren’t provided, but further in the thread a player asks and Mr. Brode answers. The results are similar to standard mode, a slight advantage to going first but it isn’t significant. The coin is here to stay. I’m happy the developers provided numbers about the coin’s use and impact during a game rather than simply stating a position and expecting the players to live with it. The statistics and comments may not convince everyone but it convinces me. It’s not a game breaker, just a light touch on the scale.

EU Closed Beta

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

After a few long weeks of waiting Hearthstone followers in the EU can start playing today, provided an invite finds its way to an inbox. The full details are available here. A high number language availability, no NDA, and a gold equivalency for money spent during the beta.

Check your inboxes, I hope to find some fresh players to duel.

hearthstone-quests-frame

Hero Banter and ditching daily quests

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

I like the chat wheel. I like the options. I don’t think it needs anything added to it, except maybe a laugh emote. It could still be abused but only one hero would have a sarcastic, condescending laugh (and he’s going to be dead soon) – the rest would be sincere laughs for a play or minion that worked well. I don’t think custom options, “Hurry Up,” “Lucky” or similar emotes will add much, if anything. Luck is part of a card game no matter how well you craft your deck but good players and good deck construction can counter it.

hearthstone-quests-frame

garrosh-heroWhat I would like to see would is chatting between the heroes, with and without player direction. Many of them have relationships with each other or at least know of each other enough to have a strong opinion. Rexxar and Thrall are friends, or at least respect each other immensely. The “Greetings” emote could change when they meet each other in a fight.

After a particularly brutal attack, when the audience is oohing,  the two trade friendly jabs about each other’s lives. Thrall and Jaina could have uncomfortable, even awkward moments, because of their history. Anduin could be humbled by Uther, despite never meeting the most famous paladin in the history of the Knights; Thrall would probably have few pleasant things to say to Gul’dan, and vice versa.

The rivalries and alliances would just strengthen the game’s already impressive atmosphere. Warcraft is smothered in lore so why not really take advantage of it? The beta is early, of course, and balance issues are more pressing matters than what angry words Thrall and Garrosh would trade. But the little things tend to give projects that extra shine.

But for something more mechanical, why can’t we abandon daily quests? You can only have three in your log at any time and suppose you don’t want to do one of them – playing Malfurion’s druid is as much fun as trimming your nails – so why not abandon  the quest to get five wins with the deck. You don’t get another daily quest in place of it, you just don’t have that one anymore.

It’s a simple thing to add. With the trickle rate at which you acquire gold, anything that makes the grind more bearable is appreciated. It may slow it down but it makes it more fun, which is what seems to be driving the game anyway.

I’d also like some variety in the quests that make them less about grinds and more about tactics or clever playing. Maybe a quest to have a single minion deal 10 points of damage in one game? Or defeat three heroes with charge minions? The daily quests available now aren’t always hard, though I don’t enjoy playing the warrior, but they’re rarely anything interesting. There’s a lot that can be done with them to add variety to the objectives and I hope Blizzard decides to expand the options.

Hearthstone-Heroes-of-Warcraft-Logo

HORDE BIAS! A Red Shirt Guy Editorial on the “Faction Bias” Arguments

Written by Ian Bates on . Posted in Activision Blizzard, Blizzard Developers, Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Product Reviews, Cataclysm, Lore, Novels, Uncategorized, World of Warcraft - Races, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Orgrimmar

Hi readers and welcome to my first editorial type article. With the release of Patch 5.4′s trailer (see it here if you haven’t already), the debate on whether or not Blizzard is biased towards the Horde in content development has risen again. Its a subject that really came to a head with the release of Cataclysm, enough so that Blizzard actually had Dave Kosak make a blog post, “Dev Watercooler: Faction Favoritism“. It was very negatively received, and in fact was seen by many as further proof there was faction bias favoring the Horde enough to be detrimental to the Alliance among Blizzard’s developers. So, does this faction favoritism really exist? Is Blizzard ignoring half their playerbase because they can’t muster the effort to to create content for a faction they don’t like? Or is this all overblown outcry from WoW’s notoriously unpleaseable fanbase?

hearthstone-golden-mekkatorque

Golden Gelbin and other news

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Merchandise, Blizzard Products News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

hearthstone-golden-mekkatorqueZeriyah provided a lengthy update on Hearthstone today, commenting on some changes to the game as it progresses closer and closer to beta. Among the items discussed was a restatement that the Hearthstone team is working vigorously to launch beta before summer ends. Zeriyah phrased the timeline for beta as “not days away from launching the beta, but [...] not months away either.” Progress is being made but patience is required.

The beta will allow players to spend real money on card packs and Arena entry. However, because of the changing nature of beta testing Hearthstone’s developers have decided to reward players who put down cash with something special – a golden version of Gelbin Mekkatorque. When you purchase cards or Arena entry, you’re granted a copy of the Gnome King. His golden version is only available this way: no crafting or lucky drops from card packs. A regular version can be crafted once the game is released.

Hearthstone has also been tested on the iPad with cross-platform play. Zeriyah called it an awesome milestone in development for Hearthstone. Any means of expanding the player pool for the game has to be considered an incredible success; cross-platform potential is a phenomenal one.

The update ends with Zeriyah telling the community to continue to engage with the Hearthstone team. The community helps guide how the game evolves and the developers want to know what’s working and what isn’t.

The Forge is now The Arena (Hearthstone Livestream)

Written by Travis Morrow on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft

Eric Dodds and Ben Brode explored the ever changing nature of Hearthstone today during an hour long livesteam. The duo began their commentary explaining that the Forge has been renamed to the Arena to avoid confusion with Hearthstone’s card crafting system. The change reflects internal testing done by the Hearthstone team and also better captures the spirit of the game mode.

After the name announcement, Dodds began to comb the Twitch stream for questions while Brode entered the Arena to build a deck.

Building an Arena deck is entirely random. Players are presented with a choice of three heroes from the game’s total of nine. Afterward, the building process guides players through deck construction with cards suited for the selected hero. In the livestream Dodds and Brode selected Jaina Proudmoore, the mage.

Players have 30 choices to make the deck, each choice being between three random cards. The proceeding choices are not influenced by previous choices: i.e., selecting Ice Lance does not increase the likelihood of seeing a Frostbolt or Water Elemental. Any rarity of card can appear for selection. The maximum number of card duplicates in a deck is removed, allowing for three or more of any card.

At any point during deck construction players can leave the Arena and return later, picking up exactly where they left off. The same is true once a deck has been made. Players that leave a game in progress, either by closing Hearthstone or disconnecting, are given a loss. The duo acknowledged that accidental disconnects are a problem the development team is addressing.

Dodds and Brode emphasized that careful selection of cards is key to success in the arena. Deck strategies can change quickly as different cards are presented.

Once a deck is built players enter a match queue against opponents of equal success with their decks. The games progress as normal. Each win, however, improves the quality of a player’s Arena Key, to a current maximum of nine wins. The key is used to unlock a chest in Hearthstone’s Arena that gives rewards. The value of the rewards can vary but it always includes at least one card pack for the standard play mode.

Players can retire successful decks at any time. After three losses, a deck is forcibly retired and the player’s key unlocks the Arena chest automatically.

Dodds and Brode played two games during the livestream. The first was a decisive victory against Uther the Lightbringer. The second game was closer and resulted in a loss to Valera Sanguinar. A game was attempted between against Garrosh Hellscream but networking issues caused the session to crash.

Dodds and Brode unlocked their chest at the end of the livestream, displaying the process and rewards. They received three bags of five gold, ten arcane dust, and a booster pack. While the rewards from the chest were initially unimpressive, the booster pack of five cards contained two rares and a golden version of the legendary minion Cairne Bloodhoof.

blizzard-careers-jobs

Blizzard Entertainment Careers – Job Openings – May-21-2013

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Entertainment, Diablo 3 News, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

blizzard-careers-jobs

Blizzard Entertainment Careers Team have posted new job openings these past days. Recently, Blizzard Entertainment was ranked #6 America’s Ideal Employers 2013 by Universum after a survey with the participation of over 65,000 students. Join one of the best employers in United States and the World.

Follow the links below to submit your resume at the appropriate page:

Looking for a different position? No sweat. These above are just the newest ones. Over 80 job openings available at Blizzard Entertainment here. Look for the navigation bar to search Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania job openings.


Language Tester, Italian

Quality Assurance – Irvine, CA

Blizzard Entertainment is looking for intelligent and highly motivated multilingual game testers to help test our games in Italian. Job duties include documenting bugs, working closely with a team of translators, testing games for hours upon hours. An ideal candidate is a hardcore gamer with a localization background, or an individual with a higher education in a language-related discipline, who is good at both finding bugs and describing them in an organized and clear fashion. language testers must be able to work full-time at our headquarters in Irvine, California. Applicants must also be available to work extended hours and weekends when necessary, to meet project deadlines.

Responsibilities

  • Review the Italian translation of Blizzard Entertainment games.
  • Ensure consistency with the glossary between games and other projects.
  • Perform quality assurance for Blizzard Entertainment games and other projects.
  • Review localized material and provide regular feedback to project leads and supervisors.
  • Handle other duties as assigned.

Requirements

  • Passion for video games and linguistics
  • Exceptional verbal and written communication skills in both Italian and English
  • Excellent knowledge of fantasy, and / or science fiction worlds and an understanding of Blizzard Entertainment games
  • Willing to work extended hours
  • Excellent teamwork skills
  • Able to work independently
  • Strong motivation and a high level of commitment

Pluses

  • Previous experience in video game localization or video game quality assurance
  • Higher education in language-related disciplines, and / or work experience as a professional translator
  • Excellent knowledge of Blizzard Entertainment games

Applicants must submit (i) a cover letter (with language proficiency), (ii) a resume, and (iii) a mock game analysis of their latest favorite video game in English and Italian. Only resumes with cover letters and game analyses will be considered.

  • The game analysis should demonstrate applicant’s understanding of the game play mechanics and relationships to the design and implementation of the game.
  • The game analysis should be on either a computer game or console game. Please limit the game analysis to no longer than 5 pages (the average length of an analysis is approximately 3 pages).
  • This game analysis should not be a game made by Blizzard Entertainment.

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

 


Customer Service – In-Game Services

Office – Irvine, CA

Customer support representatives or game masters (GMs) are service specialists supporting Blizzard Entertainment customers via phone, web chat, and email within the game environment and on account related issues. Through problem identification, troubleshooting, education and resolution, GMs are required to provide innovative and exceptional customer handling following Tier I Empowerment Guidelines. As a key member of customer service, GMs are expected to maintain Blizzard’s culture of excellence and commitment to quality in every aspect of their work.

Responsibilities

  • Provide first contact resolution of customer issues via phone, web chat, and e-mail.
  • Deliver timely and accurate responses to customer questions and requests.
  • Take personal ownership of customer requests and maintain accountability for follow-through.
  • Provide exceptional customer experience as measured through customer surveys.
  • Maintain productivity that meets or exceeds departmental goals for Tier I.
  • Perform account maintenance, data entry, and order processing functions.
  • Display a professional, positive, and enthusiastic demeanor to employees and customers.
  • Learn and review departmental policies and procedures.
  • Provide proactive customer communication via phone, chat, or email when necessary.
  • Maintain accurate account of hours worked and report any discrepancy in a timely manner.
  • Maintain security and confidentiality of Blizzard internal information and customer / account information.
  • Respond to general customer inquiries.
  • Identify, update, and report on interface or game mechanic issues.
  • Provide for restoration of character / item losses of low complexity.
  • Investigate reports of player harassment or inappropriate behavior.
  • Investigate and communicate reports of service outages.
  • Escalate and communicate any customer well-being issues.
  • Escalate or refer issues beyond the scope of Tier I training and duties.
  • Other duties, as assigned.

Requirements

  • Team player with a positive attitude
  • Able to work under pressure in a fast-paced, ever changing, high-volume environment
  • Comfort with using telephony related hardware and software
  • Flexible to work rotating shifts
  • Strong customer service and written communication skills
  • A minimum of 1 year experience handling customers within service / technical fields
  • Basic computer and typing skills
  • Familiar with Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office
  • Successful criminal background check may be required if allowed by local law

Pluses

  • Previous call center or direct customer-facing experience
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Drive for self-improvement
  • Passion for supporting gamers

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

 


Associate Producer / Producer

Office: Irvine, CA

Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a producer to join our support systems engineering team. Support systems engineering is a 100% agile software development group currently using the Scrum framework. In this position, the producer will be empowered as the product owner for one of our Scrum development teams. The ideal candidate has a passion for product development and a natural aptitude for business.

Responsibilities

  • Meticulously maintain a product backlog that represents the product’s vision and roadmap with a focus on customer and business needs.
  • Build and maintain relationships with customers from all levels and job positions within the company.
  • Communicate a clear vision and release plan for the assigned product(s).
  • Actively manage expectations, results, and forward progress for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Determine and report on product return on investment.
  • Provide regular reporting of product scope, schedule, progress, and planning.
  • Promote a collaborative environment for development, user experience and quality assurance to deliver successful products within.

Requirements

  • Strong desire to be a part of and contribute to a team environment
  • Exceptionally self-motivated and directed
  • Passion for user experience
  • Previous experience in product development
  • Able to set and manage business priorities judiciously
  • A demonstrable understanding of marketing techniques
  • Knowledge of the software development lifecycle and associated activities
  • Possess a strong understanding of agile development methodologies, particularly Scrum
  • Clear ability to manage a range of different personality types in a facilitative and professional manner
  • Superior listening, written, and oral communication skills
  • Proven ability to plan, execute, and complete project activities to achieve high quality results
  • Able to articulate ideas to both technical and non-technical personnel

Pluses

  • Experience creating mock-ups, workflows, wireframes, and / or prototypes
  • Product Owner Certification
  • PMP Certification

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

 


Associate Producer – Locatization

Office – Irvine, CA

The Blizzard Entertainment Localization team is looking for an associate producer (AP) to support the localization of text, audio, and video assets for Blizzard game titles, as well as, the localization of support services initiatives that accompany the launches of those titles. The ideal candidate has superior organizational and communication skills, three years of localization-related experience on a AAA title, fluency in one or more non-English languages, strong technical skills, and in-depth knowledge of Blizzard games. For more information, check out the posting.

The associate producer’s primary responsibilities will be assigned by the localization production staff, and involve hands-on localization tasks within game clients as they ramp up for release. Other responsibilities will be to organize and execute localization requests for support services teams, such as, community, PR, web, video and post production, etc., whether via Blizzard’s internal localization teams or its external vendor partners. The AP will also work with localization QA to champion localized product quality and the platform services project management team to ensure transparent and proactive communication to all relevant project stakeholders. Secondary responsibilities will be to challenge and champion the tools and initiatives designed to assist the department in running as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Requirements

  • Passion for video games
  • Superior organizational skills and attention to detail
  • Excellent oral and written English communication skills
  • Self-motivated with an ability to work under tight deadlines
  • A minimum of 3 years’ localization-related product development experience on a AAA title
  • Willing and able to travel internationally as needed
  • Team-oriented with the ability to work independently
  • Computer literate and familiar with MS Office products

Pluses

  • Understanding of the complete localization life-cycle
  • Fluency in one or more non-English language(s)
  • Experience with MS Project
  • Above-average knowledge of Blizzard and its games
  • Working knowledge of database and version control software
  • Working knowledge of audio, graphic, and movie file types and applications

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.

 


Network Engineer

IT – Network Operations
Office – Irvine, CA

Blizzard Entertainment is looking for a highly motivated and skilled network engineer to join our network operations engineering team. The ideal candidate possesses a high level of experience with cutting-edge network platforms. The network engineer must be efficient and organized while working in a self-directed team environment.

Responsibilities

  • Design, install, and operate LAN / WAN network infrastructure.
  • Perform network performance tuning and administration.
  • Research new technologies including software and hardware, based on business requirements.
  • Provision and deploy new routers / switches / security platforms in current or new data centers.
  • Document operational processes and procedures.
  • Develop and maintain network topology diagrams for all networks.
  • Troubleshoot and locate root causes of network incidents.
  • Mentor network administrators and technicians.
  • Participate in production support and in on-call duties.

Requirements

  • A minimum of 5 years’ experience with enterprise-level or service provider network design and support
  • Excellent knowledge of TCP / IP protocol
  • Knowledge of application flows, packet capture, and analysis
  • Extensive experience with network routing protocol like BGP, OSPF, and EIGRP
  • Extensive experience with Cisco routing and switching
  • Knowledge and experience of public and private peering
  • Security experience with Cisco and Juniper firewalls
  • Experience with network monitoring tools
  • Experience with load balancer solution
  • In-depth understanding of network H / W architecture
  • Superior troubleshooting skills

Pluses

  • A degree in computer science or a related field.
  • Comfortable with Linux / UNIX
  • Network certification(CCIE,JNCIE)
  • Experience with supporting MySQL and Oracle
  • Experience with SAN switching

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. and its affiliated companies is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.