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Ben Brode Doesn’t Flip Coins

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.

Hero Banter and ditching daily quests

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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.

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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.

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

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?

Golden Gelbin and other news

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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)

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 Entertainment Careers – Job Openings – May-21-2013

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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.

 
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