Hello, my name is Ian Bates, more commonly known as the Red Shirt Guy, and I am happy to say I am now Blizzplanet’s newest contributor! In the coming days, weeks, months etc I hope to provide a variety of, perhaps not news but “flavor” articles for the site. You can expect lots of speculative ideas on future content, as I love imagining expansions, zones, where the game could go. I’m also planning on doing an article about the current “faction bias” issue that has reemerged with patch 5.3.
I hope you will enjoy these future articles and that they will help make Blizzplanet a fun read for all fans of Blizzard’s products.
Blizzard Entertainment dropped the bomb. There’s no BlizzCon 2012 this year due to their three-game release tight schedules: Heart of the Swarm, Diablo III and Mists of Pandaria.
The StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Championships will have a stand-alone event held in Asia at the end of this year.
Blizzard Entertainment is proud to announce the 2012 Battle.net World Championship, a major global eSports event featuring some of the best pro-gaming competition in the world. Slated to take place in Asia toward the end of 2012, the Battle.net World Championship will host this year’s StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship tournaments. Blizzard gamers and eSports fans from around the world will be invited to attend and witness some of the most skilled pro players on the planet battle it out for cash and glory.
We’re excited to be showcasing Blizzard eSports on a truly global stage this year. We’re also heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.
More details about the 2012 Battle.net World Championship and BlizzCon 2013, including specific dates and locations, will be coming in the months ahead.
Talking with Blizzplanet Network Manager Eldorian, we are both sad pandas after hearing this news. Just a few days ago, he got the cash to cost the trip that’s no longer in the foreseeable horizon. I was personally expecting the BlizzCon 2012 dates to be revealed at the upcoming Activision Blizzard Q4 2011 Conference Call like in times past it’s happened.
Moving on forward after the heartbreaking news, we were just talking about the announcement of the Next-Gen MMO. It usually takes Blizzard about 2-3 years to ship a game after it’s first announcement. With BlizzCon 2013 usually all the way back at the fourth quarter, that would mean we wouldn’t be playing the Next-Gen MMO until about 5 years from now.
During our short chat about this topic, Eldorian told me they might announce the Next-Gen MMO at the 2012 Battle.net World Championship. Reflecting on that thought, I remembered StarCraft II was first announced on May 19th at the 2007 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals (WWI) in Seoul, South Korea and the game shipped 1159 days after its announcement; and Diablo III was first announced on June 28 at the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals in Paris, France. It’s been 576 days since Blizzard Entertainment announced Diablo III. No release date is available at the moment.
It’s true. The unannounced games don’t need to be unveiled at BlizzCon. There’s still hope for the Next-Gen MMO. Could late 2012 be the year of the Next-Gen MMO announcement?
For those who missed going to BlizzCon 2011 or watching the livestream here are a few videos of L90ETC live performance. They played songs based on Diablo III, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.
L90ETC is composed of Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime (Bass), StarCraft II Lead Producer Chris Sigaty (Rythm guitar), Alan Dabiri (Drums), Dave Berggren (lead guitarist) and Blizzard Senior Art Director Samwise Didier (vocalist).
Blizzard Entertainment has emailed all BlizzCon 2011 Virtual Ticket viewers to fill out their BlizzCon 2011 Live Stream Feedback Survey.
The survey suggests Blizzard is considering to expand the pay-per-view BlizzCon Live Stream to PSN, Xbox Live, and iPad. Sounds like Blizzard is really into coming back to consoles.
The survey also hints at game streaming technology like Gaikai’s, allowing BlizzCon Live Stream viewers to play the same game demos played at the show floor — such as World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III — straight from your web browser.
Blizzard Entertainment is interested in your feedback on your experience with the BlizzCon 2011 Live Stream Virtual Ticket service. This survey should take 15 to 20 minutes to complete; all responses are completely confidential.
You must be 13 years of age or older to fill out the questionnaire.
We value your opinions and look forward to hearing from you.
Blizzard Entertainment Research
Two of the survey questions are definitely interesting. Blizzard wishes to know if you would like the BlizzCon Live Stream to be viewed in the future in the following platforms:
The second interesting survey question is: “Which of the following items would you be most interested in having for future BlizzCon online pay-per-view events? (You may select up to 3 items.)”
The two most notorious options in that question was the opportunity to purchase a Blu-Ray disc of full BlizzCon coverage and to play remotely the games demoed at the show floor.
Who wouldn’t want a Blu-Ray disc to watch BlizzCon panels, Q&As, contests, concert, and tournaments any time in high-definition? Count me in, brother.
Playing the games remotely? That would be totally awesome. How can this be possible? For a couple of years, I have been following the news on Gaikai. Just a few months ago, Gaikai launched their Cloud platform allowing players to test game demos straight from their internet browser.
Among the top games on Gaikai are Crysis 2, The Witcher 2, Mass Effect and Dragon Age II. Go ahead, you can play those games on Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Are Blizzard Entertainment and Gaikai partnering to allow BlizzCon Virtual Ticket viewers a chance to play future Blizzard game demos straight from your internet browser at the same time BlizzCon attendees are playing at the Anaheim Convention Center?
There is no official announcements from either Blizzard Entertainment or Gaikai, but there are certainly breadcrumbs out there online to suggest it might happen.
A year and a half ago, when I heard about Gaikai, one of their teasers to promote their game streaming technology was World of Warcraft on iPad. (May 2010)
About a year later, Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) said: “”Everyone I know here has an iPhone or an iPad so we’re huge fans of the hardware,” he said. “If we could make the right game changes to make that work, it’s something we’d be interested in. It’s not something you’re going to see in the next week or two, but it’s the kind of thing we’re always looking at.”
Something is brewing.
With Gaikai’s game streaming technology you don’t have to worry about elite graphic cards to handle high resolution and Ultra settings. No time-consuming game installations, driver installations. No download. The Gaikai cloud servers do that for you, and stream it into your web browser.
“GAIKAI offers a fully managed cloud platform across a global network that is optimized to deliver high-end video games and applications within seconds to all leading web browsers, operating systems, and devices, even premium destinations and social networks like YouTube and Facebook.”
“To deliver the lowest latency, highest quality experiences possible, Gaikai has designed custom servers and distributed them in data centers across the globe. Working closely with our partners like Limelight Networks and Level 3 Communications our peering and transit relationships are second to none.”
Here’s a 2009 video where Gaikai demonstrates how games like World of Warcraft can be played in the internet browser. The World of Warcraft and Warcraft III icons are in the game list UI.
The Diablo III Lore panel was held at BlizzCon 2011 on Day Two at the Panel Stage in Hall A from 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PDT.
This panel was conducted by Chris Metzen (Senior Vice-President of Story and Franchise Development), Kevin Martens (Lead Content Designer) and Leonard Boyarski (Senior World Designer).
Below you will find an approximate transcript of the Diablo III Lore Panel which shed some light on how Diablo: Book of Cain and Diablo: The Sin War fit with the Diablo III story.
Note: This is a work in progress: 40% done. A sneak peek.
Diablo III Panel Intro
Chris Metzen: It’s been kinda interesting. Fifteen years of Diablo. At least seven years of BlizzCon. We haven’t had a straight lore panel before, so this should be really cool.
We got some absolutely badasses on the stage today. This is Leord Boyarskii — our Senior Game Designer, and Kevin Martens — our Lead Content Designer.
We’ve been tag-teaming for what it seems a hundred years in Diablo III. We’re working a little bit on some new ideas, and talking a little bit about Book of Cain and some of the history we’ve tried to put together, and then we’re going to a Q&A.
As we get started here, I wanted to talk to you guys — we’ve put together this new thing called Book of Cain because the past few years while we have been developing Diablo III, it demanded that we relooked the world, and the relooked the way the history flows.
The Diablo series was developed between two different companies, probably something like eight different fiction writers across manuals and game scripts, and to be honest with you it was a bit of a mess.
As we started to get deep into Diablo III, new ideas were coming out and kind of new looks at the world were taking shape that look really cool.
We started looking at the history and tighting up and trim and looked at how all these ideas stack so that you get the most maximum, tight, and smartly built game continuity. As we got all these ideas, we came up with Book of Cain. Really badass, put it in a cover, and give it to people.
I want to say this upfront, we do this with Warcraft and StarCraft front all the time. We started tweaking things, and purposely retconning things, get a little emotional.
People like to know what they know, and the canon — the lore they have been following for years. I just wanted to say upfront, especially in the Q&A part if you want to ask about things (the preview of Book of Cain went up last night), and some things look a bit different than what they have looked like for years.
Not really major world changes or anything like that by the way. This all sounds very nerdy, but just want to say upfront we have been going back through history and trying to tighten up and make it as smart as we can make it. So wanted to say upfront as we get going here we’ll be talking about the Eternal Conflict.
We’ll be discussing ideas that we have been building into Diablo for a while, but we have early evidence in the game series about the Angels in the Diablo universe. We don’t talk about them a whole lot. The only character you have seen consistently has been Tyrael.
We kinda setup a little discussion about them. The idea is the Diablo universe is predicated on the Eternal Conflict. We have the High Heavens and the Burning Hells, and one of these modified ideas that we came up with, that we’ve running for the past couple of years in development is that “What are heaven and hell really been fighting about? What are they doing?”
We kinda had this idea that there’s a mythic cycle we came up with about the creation of the universe, the ultimate manifestations of good and evil fought at the beginning of time and pretty much wiped each other out in kinda a big bang of explosion — so, part of the good guy was this kind of massive crystal we called the Eye of Anu, it’s the Worldstone.
It began spinning out in the heart of the universe itself, and legend holds — “legend holds” as if I ain’t making this out as I go — legend holds that with the Worldstone you can build worlds without end. It’s essentially the heart of a supreme deity, it’s a force of creation.
With this thing, it’s theorized that you can build worlds without end, and ultimately the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are pretty much also evidences of this great powers of the universe.
As the Angels and Demons became aware of each other they began to fight over possession of the Worldstone, because whoever controls it can pretty much reshape reality to their whim. So the idea that we built is in the center of the universe where this Worldstone is the forces of the High Heavens and the Burning Hells are fighting there. We call that place “Pandemonium”.
You guys are familiar with the Pandemonium Fortress in Diablo II.
Kevin Martens: Yes, at that point the Angels had controlled it and the Pandemonium Fortress was sort of their operation base at the gates of Hell.
Chris Metzen: And the ideas is that over the Eons, since the dawn of time, Heaven and Hell have been fighting different lengths of times. This ten thousand years span: Hell owned it. The next thirty thousand years span: Heaven owns it.
So the architecture of the Pandemonium Fortress is kind of shaped around both of their cultures as they have occupied this place over time.
Kevin Martens: I should say the Pandemonium Fortress is also much bigger than what you have seen in Diablo II. There’s a lot more to it than what we have ever shown or talked about.
Chris Metzen: The idea is that the Pandemonium Fortress is built around the Worldstone, and kinda built to contain it, and certainly provide us with a little battleground for these forces to clash over.
As you move forward in time, the character of Inarius started to get tired at this giant battle, and didn’t want to play ball anymore. He thought that this unending Eternal Conflict was ridiculous. He was like “I’m done.” He kinda had a total break.
Long story short, he conscripts like-minded angels, and even stranger, like-minded demons. Like the demoness Lilith. And they pull off the maneuver — they actually ended up stealing the Worldstone from the heart of Pandemonium. Technically, it’s still right there. It still exists at the heart of creation, but somehow they dimensionally veiled it, they kinda blinked it out into a dimensional pocket that Heaven and Hell couldn’t see.
You could imagine what that would do to the Eternal Conflict. Suddenly the thing we are fighting over, the power of creation itself, Zoop! It’s gone.
So that complicated things for Heaven and Hell. What are we fighting over now? Where the Worldstone went is in the dimension of Sanctuary.
With this power of creation, Inarius and his goofy friends forged for themselves a paradise. A garden sanctuary where they could do their hippy-stuff, run around naked, have fun chasing bunnies, and there these renegade angels and demons began to … get it on.
They had babies. They had scary, mighty, supernatural babies called the Nephalem.
Long story shorter, over time these Nephalem … their bloodlines began to diminish, their powers began to diminish because the very very scary mighthy monsters — something that was never planned for in creation: hybrids of angelic and demonic power — (as this is said, Metzen is moving his hands as he talks, and he suddenly realizes it) what am I doing? This is weird. Grabbing air. (Metzen whistles and moves and gestures his hand to simulate a wave) … sorry, hold me. (Metzen grabs Boyarski’s hand).
(Crowd breaks into laughter)
So the Nephalems ultimately diminish and become us. Become men (… and women). And the idea is that locked within the mortal genetic code is the power of gods. Far beyond angels and demons.
The thing that scares the living hell of (aha!) Heaven and Hell is the fact that we are potentially far mightier than they. Some of these ideas, you guys may have seen in the Sin War trilogy that we put out a number of years ago by Richard A. Knaak.
We are kinda riffing in this space, and trying to construct a trilogy that would synch some of this stuff, but if you guys want to read the Book of Cain, you’re definitely going to get into this stuff, and kinda check the linear chain of events that really produced Sanctuary. So having said all that (catches a second breath) let’s get into this.
Blizzard Entertainment announced another round of BlizzCon 2011 Store merchandise for sale to attendees and online viewers of the Virtual Ticket livestream.
Miss out on picking up that special piece of commemorative BlizzCon® loot during the show? Don’t worry — we’re making select BlizzCon 2011 store items available once again to those who joined us for the show in person or via the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket.
Beginning November 11 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time through Friday, November 18 at 10 a.m., BlizzCon 2011 ticket holders*, Virtual Ticket buyers, and DIRECTV viewers who ordered the BlizzCon 2011 Pay Per View event will be able to purchase select BlizzCon 2011 store merchandise online (while supplies last).
HERE’S HOW TO PARTICIPATE:
Between 10 a.m. PT on November 11 and 10 a.m. on November 18, log in to the online Blizzard Store (us.blizzard.com/store) using the Battle.net account you provided when you purchased your BlizzCon 2011 tickets or Virtual Ticket. (DIRECTV viewers, use the Battle.net account on which you redeemed your BlizzCon Virtual Ticket code.)
Click the special “BlizzCon Sale” button in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
Browse BlizzCon 2011 items, add them to your cart, and then proceed to check out.
Items will be shipped directly to your home.**
It’s that simple! Thanks for joining us for BlizzCon 2011 — we hope you enjoyed the show.
*Please note: For those who attended BlizzCon in person, only the Battle.net account associated with the ticket purchased will have access to BlizzCon 2011 merchandise during this online sale. You can view this information in the ticket buyer’s Order History.
**BlizzCon 2011 Post-Show Sale items ship from the United States; international shipping rates may apply.
This is a rough transcript of the Diablo III Q&A Panel held on Saturday, October 22 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the main stage (Hall D). Not as accurate as I had wished, considering my language limitations, but close.
Yesterday, you were talking about Difficulty Levels and how at normal it’ll be really really easy. What about veteran players? Are we going to have to beat the game once before we get a challenge?
Wilson: We’re not planning on any shortcuts through Normal Difficulty. Just like in Diablo II, in Normal Difficulty will be fairly a quick path.
We’re not too worried about people getting bored. It does get more challenging, kinda later — even in the First Act. And progressively throughout. I wouldn’t say that the entire Normal Difficulty is not nearly as easy as the first hour.
The first hour is really a tutorial. So we really feel internally — what we noticed especially when a lot of people were playing is that they get through that first part really quick, and then they get through the whole First Act in Normal Difficulty and they don’t have problems with getting bored or things like that.
Martens: I should say the Normal Difficulty level if you are a veteran, your chance to enjoy the story and get familiar with the Skills so you can kick ass with them in the next Difficulty level.
There are three types of gamers in Blizzard games. There is the Hardcore player, there’s the casual gamer, and then there’s the farmer gamer. With Farmer being a big industry thanks to World of Warcraft, How do you guys plan on combating this? They are looking at how can we make some more money?
Wilson: The most important thing to remember, Diablo III is not a persistent world.
The reason farmers feel so bad in World of Warcraft is because the farmers are in your world, taking your quest mobs, and loot drop, and interfering with your experience.
In Diablo, they can go off into their own world, their own server, their own instance and farm and it doesn’t affect you at all.
We don’t feel it’s going to be a big problem in Diablo III.
With the release of Diablo III, I was wondering what the Chat Gem is gonna do.
Martens: It fulfills one of your dreams.
You made the Followers more viable for end-game content because feedback wanted it. Is it possible to get to the end of the game content — in Inferno Difficulty — without a follower?
Wilson: Yea, it should be totally possible to — we’re trying to make the Followers viable not required. They do give players some nice bonuses.
If you don’t like the Followers, you should be able to play without them.
This won’t be available in at release date, but we’re looking at ways you can benefit get the benefit of a Follower, without a Follower. We don’t know yet how exactly we’re going to do that, but that’s something we want to explore in the future.
Is Diablo a girl?
Martens: Diablo is not constrained by our Human gender stereotypes. Diablo can take multiple forms, and we’ve never seen the true form of Diablo yet. Do Diablo has many surprises in store for us.
Could you elaborate on hardcore mode, for example when it’s unlocked are there going to be real-money transactions, and are there any differences between Diablo II and Diablo III hardcore mode?
Wilson: For those of you who don’t know, If you make a hardcore character and that character ever dies, that character is gone forever.
Hardcore characters are separated from the other regular games. Hardcore mode have their own auction house, but it’s a Gold-only-based Auction House. They don’t have a Real-Money Auction House, and they can’t trade in any way with regular characters.
They are isolated. They can trade items with other Hardcore characters, but not with regular characters. The other big difference is when your hardcore character dies all items are gone. The items don’t drop on the ground, so it’s not like you can have another player grab your items for you, and trade them to you and you are back to action. It’s gone.
PvP is something we are actually internally debating. The PvP Team is concerned that if we have you die permanently in an arena, then hardcore players will never play Arena.
I still feel like there should be some kind of way to allow Hardcore Arena Dueling. We are still considering how to do that.
I have a couple questions about Inferno mode. Do you expect fresh level 60 characters to be able to succeed in Inferno? Do you even plan to nerf Inferno to make it more accessible to casual players?
Wilson: About the first question … NO. About the second question … (long silence) … Probably not. I wouldn’t promise that we’ll never nerf it, because certainly we’ve seen like — in the development of World of Warcraft we have seen super hard bosses show up and even the most hardcore of the hardcore go on and say hey, he’s a little too hard.
I’d never want to say we’ll never nerf something because even the hardcore people might say it’s too hard. However, we won’t nerf it to make it casual.
In Diablo I and II, there was a fog of war. I was wondering in Diablo III why that wasn’t there.
Wilson: There is fog of war in Diablo III.
Martens: We took fog of war out of your town. In New Tristram there’s no fog of war so you can find the stores easily, but to my understanding there’s fog of war evereywhere else.
Wilson: Do you mean the Light Radius? Alright, that was a long hard process, and there are some dungeons in the game that really do emphasize the light, because it’s there. It was more an issue of the 3D engine, and try to make the world feel really good and be moody and feel the way we wanted — when you only have one light, it’s easier with the 2D engine where every sprite is kinda hand drawn, with its light already in it — but with a 3D engine, if you have one light on the character, it actually makes for a really kind of bland and bad looking world.
You need to fill the world with a little more light to make it interesting. So it was very difficult for us to make the light radius exactly as what you see in Diablo II, but we tried to do it in some of the dungeons.
Concerning randomization in dungeons, there are some areas in Diablo II that looked frustratingly convoluted, are you toning that down in Diablo III?
Wilson: I think the question really is: “Are we going to not do krappy designs?”
(crowd and developers laugh)
Martens: I know exactly what you are referring to. Most dungeons are very random. A change from Diablo II to Diablo III is there’s quite a bit more story moments in the dungeons themselves.
So in a completely random dungeon, very often you got a unique entry point, and say the X NPC is a treasure hunter and he gets into these old ruins, and he can’t get through in the zone, and so it’s an escort mission, and it concludes at the end.
So it’s a random dungeon in between, but it has a set starting point and end point and a set final room, and the quest concludes.
In another cases, like you’d see in the beta, we have some dungeons levels that have very little randomness, like the Templar level. You acquire the Templar Follower in that level, he’s got his little story moments, it’s an open room, but even there there’s a little randomness between the first room and the end room.
He’s got a much bigger set spot because he’s going to get his armor and have his rescue scene, and then have his final confrontation with Jondar, and ultimately kill him.
(Martens says in a high pitch voice: “Spoiler”)
Diablo II was pretty much destroyed by spamming. So I want to know what you are doing with Warden protection against it.
Bridenbecker: Warden. That’s an investment we have spent ten years on. We’re trying to figure out how people are going through and re-engineering some of our systems or better understanding them.
We have some protections given the nature of Diablo II gameplay and it does render it a little less effective.
We’ll be policing it pretty well, and making sure that we maintain the consistency of the gameplay.
Wilson: I’m gonna follow up on that too. One of the things that I know that’s really annoying in Diablo II is that people who would jump in into games, and broadcast and jump out, and that’s something we will be looking at too as well. Any kind of things like spamming. We’ll stop things like that.
I was trying out the Monk, are all those strikes single-click single-attacks, or are they like the old Barbarian frenzy where we can just hold and go on forever?
Wilson: A lot of abilities, yea, you can hold down, and some you can’t. Most of them you can right-click drive with a particular ability if you want. We try to design the combat so that there’s really the most optimal way of play.
You’ll be better if you can swap in a nice follow up like a bit hit, controlled by a cooldown or resource. We find it’s more fun when you use a couple of abilities together.
Have you thought of adding WASD movement controls so players don’t have to spam the mouse so much when kitting?
Wilson: We played around and mostly played with games that use that in kind of an isometric type of view, and the general feeling we had is you don’t really want to support two control schemes.
It’s really hard to make one control scheme feel great, and having them two feel great just makes the challenge that much bigger.
We found that the nature of the WASD control movement doesn’t work pretty well with an isometric gameplay, so we decided to stick with the mouse.
In Diablo II you used to have runewords. Now in Diablo III you have runestones. Are you planning to add the runewords again?
Martens: No, sir. We have a lot of new systems that do sort of everything the runewords needed to do.
You’ve the runestones, and five variations of that times seven levels, so this is like a rich system. We also have gems which are coming back, and they have more things that they do as well.
We moved the attributes or stat points into the itemization game. Crafting, you make your own items which have some set abilities, and also random affixes as well. You can break those things down. That replaces gambling for example.
We have tons of new systems. We don’t really need runewords any more. We have it all covered.
You keep teasing us about the console version of the game. Is it coming out for consoles or not?
Wilson: We haven’t officially announced anything. So there’s my dodgy part of the answer. I don’t think we are shy about that.
We hire people. We have a console team working internally. We want to make a console version. I think that’s pretty obvious. We’re hiring people right now to fill out positions in that team, but we haven’t announced it, because we don’t want to announce something until we’re sure that we have a game that we can show to people.
Back in Diablo II, I perfected the teeth necromancer build in which I spammed every point in the teeth. I was wondering if Diablo III will have an equivalent to teeth.
Wilson: I don’t know that we have one that looks exactly like teeth, but we have skills that are multiple projectiles with randomization. With rune variations, there are around 700 skills per class. My guess is we have one that is exactly like teeth, and that is not the class I’m playing with right now. But yea, you might be able to see something that’s similar enough.
Any design, implementation, challenges you have had for the console version of Diablo III, and what things have you learned from it?
Wilson: We haven’t built it yet. We have only experimented with control schemes and things like that. The real challenge is really, targeting.
Movement really feels better with a controller, but how you target and certain skills like magic missile feels great because you are shooting in a direction, but a skill like Blizzard we’re trying to figure out exactly where that’s going to go without putting some kind of targeting which we don’t really want to do. That’s probably one of the biggest challenges.
Then there are a lot of these subtle little things: monster distribution and the AI feel a little bit different than it does in the PC version.
We play around with how the control feels, how it feels to get surrounded.
Jason Regier: The control of the game. Everyone wants a game where you have direct control of your character. That is where we probably spent most of our time experimenting with, and making sure that gets right on the console version that we’re playing around with.
Can we get some beta keys?
Wilson: I have some in my backpocket right now! We’re going to be releasing more beta keys very shortly. If you sign up, you’ll get some chance to get them. We’re definitely trying to keep beta running as long as we can, and we’re going to keep sending waves of beta keys.
We have a big patch coming. We’re just waiting to launch that patch to send some more.
Jason Regier: Those of you who have been participating in the beta and you are here right now, Thank you so much for playing and testing the heck out of the game. We really appreciate it.
Thanks for making Followers. There were some builds in Diablo II where the Hirelings were the main source of your damage. Will these be viable in Diablo III as well?
Wilson: We made the Followers very viable very recently, so we haven’t played with them in a higher difficulties that much. So how they feel in there, how much damage output they truly have, and how much we are willing to give them, is going to come through playing it ourselves. I wouldn’t want to say yes or no to that at this point.
You said in Infernal the level cap for the characters is at 60, but the monsters will be 61 and higher, so that the monsters are tougher and a challenge. Eventually we’re going to beat it. Are there plans for a super dungeon, or uber Tristram type of thing?
Wilson: I’m sure if you guys get really bored and don’t want to play the game anymore, we’ll try to do something. Right now we are more focused on getting Diablo III done. We haven’t really thought what we’d do beyond that, but I can promise you, if you guys destroy Inferno mode and you are sitting around on your giant mount of loot, then we’ll do something about it.
This is a transcript of the Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel held at BlizzCon 2011.
Jay Wilson: What’s up BlizzCon, how you doing? Are you guys ready to talk about some Diablo? So I have to tell you, the endless forces of hell, they got some plans for you guys. But started looking around the room I think you can take them. I think so. So what we’re going to talk to you today is the endless amount of items, class tuning abilities, and a whole bunch of stuff about how you can take on the forces of hell.
I’m going to let Bender get started.
Bender: I’m going to talk about achievements today a little bit, and you can get achievements in a number of ways.
One of those ways is coming to Blizzcon. So congratulations guys, you got your first virtual achievement.
So not all achievements involve you going to LAX and all that jazz. (Blizzplanet Note: LAX is the code that identifies the Los Angeles Airport when you buy a flight ticket)
Some of them are really easier to get. Normally you might be playing through and kill the Skeleton King and you can get an achievement for that. It allows you to track your progress as you go through the game, and review what you have done.
Some of them are a little bit crazier, extreme behavior. We consider it extreme to get to a level 60 hardcore character because it’s not easy. So if you do things a little tougher in the game, you’re gonna get achievements for that.
And then, of course, Absurd Shenanigans — because we all love some shenanigans. Our German players know about these, they play Diablo II without putting any armor on. That’s pretty absurd. In this case, it might be for beating every boss by punching them in the face without wielding a weapon. So that might be something that might get you an achievement.
What’s the point beyond that? They are fun to collect. Track your accomplishments. When you get achievements, they unlock components for your Banner. Your Banner is sort of a visual representation of what you’ve done in the game.
The more you achieve, the more components for your banner you unlock.
In PvP, you might open some, just playing through the game normally, and getting achievements by quantity will extend the pennants, so it gets more stuff on it as you play.
Other achievements can change the plot, the accents, and then, of course, if you play a lot of hardcore, the base of your banner will get bigger and after a while it can add up to something pretty cool.
Now, these banners are not just pretty, although they are pretty. They also allow you in coop to teleport directly to your friends.
If they’re out running around, you don’t know how to find them, you go back to town to craft something or buy from a vendor — you can click on their banner and you will teleport to them. That’s pretty useful.
It’s a good way to ensure that people see your cool banner.
New Gameplay Elements
Bender: That’s not it, though. Some other elements we’re adding to make gameplay more convenient for you. For example, the Stone of Recall.
The Stone of Recall is an endless use item. You can use it as many times as you want to get yourself back to town from the wilderness. So here we are like casting, takes about 10 seconds, can be interrupted by monsters, hope that guy on the left doesn’t interrupt us, so you get back to town, and it leaves this blue portal thing behind, and that allows you to get back to where you came from. Only you can use it. Your friends can’t use it.
They can get to you with your banner so that’s not a big deal. Not sure how to call this thing. Maybe like village door. If you can think of something, let us know.
Also, we have the Cauldron of Jordan allows you to sell stuff right out of your inventory. Want to clear up your inventory, want gold, you can sell as many thing as you want out of your bag.
Similarly, the Cube of the Nephalem allows you to pick items of your bag and convert it to crafting components. Got stuff in your bags, you replaced your gear, don’t want to go back to town yet — use it to convert them into crafting materials, all kinds of cool stuff.
Chambers: Holy Molly! A lot of you guys out there. How are you doing? I’m going to talk about crafting for a little bit. Crafting is all about making items, or making your existing items even more awesome.
So, I wanted to take a step back and look the way that the items were handled in Diablo II and what their item life cycle was.
Item from two sources in Diablo II: Buy it from a vendor or you could do what I have done here, kill Andariel and get awesome tridents. Once I’ve picked up that item, I’m probably going to wear it for a while, but then it’s going to get upgraded, and I can trade it to my friend for some gold maybe, if I’m lucky, or sell it for some gold to Charsi. What do I do with that gold?
Well you can gamble it, but Geeds allowed you to buy these unidentified items for like crazy amounts of gold, or crazy amounts of gold and identify them and find out what it was.
The system is cool, because it gave you access to super powerful items, but a lot of people had a negative experience when they tried it out, so they never really went back and kept on doing it again and again.
You just end up hoarding all of your gold, and that’s not really a life cycle.
That’s just a pub with no beer. And that makes Andrew really, really sad.
So what are some of the things that we’re doing in Diablo III to make this item life cycle better? First off, I want to talk about The Mystic.
The Mystic is where you go if you want to enhance your items. She can take any item that you have, like your chest piece, or bracers, and she can add an enhancement to it.
The enhancements are a wide array of things like gold find or magic find, but also increased core stats, and a whole a bunch of things for class related, like for example, here it increases Hatred regeneration by 0.83 per sec on a One-Hand Melee Weapon.
The interesting thing about enhancements in Diablo III as opposed to World of Warcraft, is they’re actually random.
So that 0.83 per second that actually has a chance like the bottomline for that is .66 per second.
So you can see up here, I’ve enhanced my Keen Heavy Axe of Storms with Hatred regen, and it’s .66 per second. I can reapply that enhancement and have a chance of actually making it better.
Making it get the top end of that. The awesome thing about that is, as you’re leveling off you apply the enhancement, and that’s good enough, but it’s maybe like middle range, but at the end game, by applying these enhancements you can get super powerful enhancements on your items you can get by not necessarily investing time and resources in that.
She facilitates — what the what is that? That’s a Demon Hunter running around with a one-handed axe and a shield. Who the hell thought of that? We did. Because it’s awesome, you know.
Like you don’t always have to run around and play with ranged weapons. Maybe you just want to like spam Fan of Knives, and Chakram and Bolt everywhere, that sort of thing.
Mystic can allow you to do that. Ordinarily you wouldn’t get it on a one-handed axe, but she lets you do it, because she’s kind of cool, and she levels up.
Awesome artwork. We have amazing artists by the way. Have you noticed? She levels up. She has ten levels. Every time she levels up, she gets more powerful enhancements, and she uses pages of training to level up which you can get from killing monsters randomly in the world.
Blizzplanet Note: Check out the short video below to see the Mystic level up animation. Her tent transforms into a better version with more gear and stuff.
With Challenge modes you said gear would be scaled. Does it scale up as well as down?
Stockton: Currently we’re planning for it to scale down. Although we talked about possibly instead of doing that, we could also just scale all of the monster’s power up, instead of — because we’ve been worried maybe just scaling the gear down might make people feel less powerful, because it’s going down.
An alternative to that would be scaling the monsters up and having the gear level be higher. Still a little give and take on that.
Regarding the Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder, are we going to be able to enter random queues for Burning Crusade raids, or Wrath of the Lich King raids?
Mercer: Currently, we’ve talked about that a little bit. What we’re concerned about is will there be enough people to fill that queue. If a lot of people wants to go to those old raids because of the Transmog gear now, trying to do achievements for their guildmates or friends, or whatever — we ain’t sure if the random Raid Finder would be fit for those kind of cases. It’s not off the table, but we’ll have to see what happens in 5.0.
Stockton: It’s a question of would we have enough people in the queue to make it work.
You were talking about how the dungeons would be visible in the outdoor world, but as far as I remember in Burning Crusade there were plenty of examples where they were. Why did you decide to actually forget about it in this expansion?
Stockton: Over time, we had dungeons that have existed in the outdoor before. You can imagine players who went to Scarlet Monastery. We’ve seen it in the world. It’s one of the things that we didn’t focus on all the time.
And there’s a secondary thing to it, that you’re not going to see until you’re actually playing, but the Stormstout Brewery, since it exists in the outdoor world, the quest developers have quested up all the areas around it, but they’re also using the dungeon itself for quests on the inside.
So there’s actually some quests where you can go inside the dungeon and have to fight some of the bosses in the dungeon, but you interact with them on a quest basis solo.
It’s really opened up a lot of new gameplay opportunities for the quest developers as well as the fact that it has a place in the world.
Mercer: There have been a few like that. Zul’Farrak was one like that, but when you actually see the scale of these inside the game, it’s really super impressive. They really make the zone come to life. These huge visual focal points.
Stockton: Historically, we’ve had to scale them to be smaller, so here they’re at a 1:1 scale. They have an awesome impact on the zone.
Given the increase focus on doing multiple things, are we going to be able to do quests in a raid group?
Stockton: That’s a great question. There’s not a lot of reasons why we don’t allow that other than the fact that we don’t want a large number of people able to beat certain quest mechanics, but now with the advent of Scenarios and the fact that our group quest might end up moving toward scenarios. It might not be as much of an issue.
Mercer: I think we might be able to pull that for patch 4.3.
Stockton: I’ll have to check. We’ve talked about that repeatedly. It’s been talked about.
I have a question about the Kick process. Usually some groups you try to kick somebody for being stupid and it says like “three hour wait” period. When most 5-player dungeons are ten and twenty minutes long or an hour long.
Stockton: We actually have an internal algorithm that works for our kicking, and it actually keeps track of the number of times you’ve kicked someone, how many times that person has been kicked, and it actually modifies that number dynamically based on the history of your kicking.
So we can kind of know — are you excessively kicking people for no reason, or you are the kind of person that comes across someone ocassionally and they’ll get kicked right away, but that’s essentially what you’re seeing is the algorithm working, trying to help the fact that someone doesn’t get kicked that doesn’t necessarily deserve it.
Essentially, we’re just trying to have a system feel as best as we can, because you want to allow people to kick, but we don’t want people kicked for no reason.
Mercer: We want people to be kicked for the right reason. Not for the LOLs.
At the Cataclysm, you talked about having the three raids as well, and 13 bosses and the tier, and talked about doing that for Mists of Pandaria as well, but in the later patches in Cataclysm — like patch 4.2, you’re down to seven or eight bosses respectively. Is that just the nature of patches or do you plan of having bigger tiers and patches in Mists of Pandaria as well?
Stockton: We haven’t actually figured it out. We haven’t finalized what the tier plan will be for all the launch raids. We don’t know if we’re going to have two tiers, and split those up; or if they’re going to be combined into one tier. A lot of that comes into how we’re going to actually get loot to the players.
A lot of what we’re talking about today is there’s so many other ways to get loot, so we have to make sure the loot we give in the game matches with all the other ways we’re allowing you to get items in the expansion. A lot of that we still haven’t figured out.
In Cataclysm there’s a very big steep jump in difficulty between level 85 normal dungeons and lvl 85 heroic dungeons — which was great, but the side effect of that was the level 85 normal dungeons there were the only two or three that you end up running over and over and over again and it was quickly tiresome.
How are you going to handle that for Pandaria? Will there be more level 90 normals — then do two or three normals, and then jump to the Heroics?
Stockton: Currently not planning to have level 90 normal dungeons at all in Mists of Pandaria.
We’re planning to have the level up dungeons, the level 90 heroic dungeons and then the Challenge Modes. This is the way you’ll see them flowing in your progression of content and because of Challenge Mode, the normal and our heroics would be a lower difficulty than what you saw in Cataclysm, because people looking for that extra level of difficulty could do the Challenge Mode.
Mercer: It’s as you noted, like there wasn’t really enough content to support a full tier with level 85 normal, and we’d rather spend time working on the heroics, making that tier super awesome, making the level ups really amazing and just we ended up — we couldn’t make that one super awesome, so we decided to cut it. In this weird middle ground, so hard to make them feel as heroic.
My question is about hard modes toggling. Ulduar was the first hard mode you guys set and that was cool, but you had to go to the internet to figure out how to push a button and make memory of that.
Mercer: The idea that you could choose multiple difficulties for the fights was very compelling, but in the end it was very difficult to come up with that kind of mechanic for every single boss.
It worked well with Freya, because she had other sub-bosses with her. It worked out great with the Iron Council because there were three of them — in which order you made it in. Mimiron was awesome.
If we could make another boss like the big red button is a total win in my book. We make things consistent with a toggle. Heroic toggle. It makes it more understandable to the player. A lot of weirdness that went on where it’s like oh we kind of screwed that up. Let’s stop this and stop this. It’s much clearer. That’s why I think we’re talking about the “Goal for Mists of Pandaria”, making things understandable for all players.
My question is about the Legendary items. Right now you guys currently randomly choose Legendary to a class that hasn’t gotten one for a while. Why can’t you make a universal Legendary item quest chain to give the item to the most dedicated raider that deserves it. One guild may give it to the healer, another to a tank, but they have different abilities?
Stockton: We could do something like that, but I think you lose the luster of the fact that anyone can get it at that point.
What we like about what we have now is you build up around that one Legendary. Rogues are about to get the next Legendary now. They’ve been waiting a long time to get their Legendary. We can design what’s really cool about it is that the quest line to get it has all the specific Rogue gameplay. You are sneaking around, you are pick pocketing, doing all using Rogue abilities all over the place, specifically for it.
So I think for us it feels like making sure that it’s for one specific type of gameplay, like a class, makes it really feel right.
So that’s what we did here. We could open it up, but I think it would lose some of the luster. Some of that exclusivity.
Mercer: You want unique and awesome, or generic and mushy? We go with unique and Awesome.
Stockton: It’s a good idea though.
The gen 25 lockout has been frustrating to me, because it made my alt spec, a dead spec for current tier.
I know the raid finder will help and give me something to do so if I have a main spec of a Tank, and my alt spec is healer — I can’t do the content as a healer.
The raid finder can we join that as a group with our guild and is the content going to be satisfying enough?
Stockton: You can definitely join as a group in raid finder. And I believe we have no lockout on raid finder.
Mercer: No lockout on raid finder, but only once a week per boss. You can totally like do your normal or heroic mode raid, and with the same character go into raid finder and get loose in there and have a fun time.
As far as satisfying for you, we’re trying to make all of the encounters super fun regardless of which difficulty you’re playing it at.
Stockston: Just a general concept of 10 / 25 and having the lockout unified is something we always talk about when we made that change originally. We’re still ways to go, but we always try to figure out what’s the best for the players at this time. That’s not completely out of the picture. Might go back. You never know.
For Cataclysm, there were like three raids that came straight from the expansion, and right after that we had Firelands. Then there were like 7 bosses compared to 12 we used to have before. So I was just wondering like have you thought about maybe like be some way to make it seem like this is not overwhelming in the initial part with three raid dungeons and seven bosses in there, that seems a little like too focused on one raid for a long period of time and one — it’s like two sides of the spectrum. Is there going to be like a middle in the next expansion or something? (Blizzplanet Note: what in the world was the question again? LoLs)
Stockton: Right now we’re talking about having, what, Six or five and two. Something like that. Something pretty similar, like 14 bosses on line, the same way, but we’re not sure how many of world raid bosses we want to do that will be in the exterior world. We’re going to have raid bosses like that as well. But definitely, we want that to not feel like it’s such a big jump all the time where maybe one time you get seven and then thirteen, and then you get five.
Essentially the number of bosses comes down to we need to have enough bosses to distribute loot correctly. There’s kind of a minimum number we have to have to spread the loot around. But other than that, I mean, it just comes down to the time of us being able to get a patch out with the number of bosses we think feels right for that zone.
I’d like to ask a question about the classic dungeons to see if there’s ever going to be another one. Kind of like Heroic Stockade — like Hogger.
Mercer: You never know. It might likely be in a future patch. We might do more classic dungeons and patches. They’re a lot of fun to do for us. We love doing those. Everyone loves Hogger. We’ll see.
Stockton: Cool fact is that originally Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep were supposed to be for patch 4.1, but the dev team thought it was so awesome we were like “No, we’ve got to have these done for launch, because these are just too cool”.
That’s the kind of thing that whenever we’ve got time, and we can get one in and it kinda fit, it’s something we want to do.
When you guys announced 4.3 you announced there was only going to be seven bosses, but I thought you were going to focus more on making the bosses feel more epic and put more work into them, and this is just my opinion, but I didn’t feel like the bosses were anything special, and so when it came down to it Fireland only felt like half a raid and with the patch 4.3 already on the PTR, it felt like you kinda nerfed all these bosses because we need to push this next patch out right away so guilds can get through it and push out the next patch. I didn’t really like that. I was just wondering is this something we can expect to see in the next expansion Mists of Pandaria?
Stockton: That was certainly not the reason why those bosses were nerfed at all. It doesn’t have anything to do with timeline. It had to do with we need as many people as possible to experience that content. So we were looking at the number of people that were getting killed by the raid bosses and it was extremely small. For all the work everyone in the dev team puts into something like that — that’s why we did the hotfixes right away instead of waiting because you want to get that content to as many people as possible and that’s why you saw that.
So really, the issue is us probably overtuning the bosses to begin with . That might come off a different way, but it’s not about us trying to rush and get to the next content, and making sure guilds are ready.
Mercer: The Deathwing stuff is extremely epic. You guys haven’t seen that yet in the PTR, but when you do — you will be blown away.
For competitive raiders, have you thought about separating the difference between teh 10 and 25, because there’s a difficulty difference in the way it’s set up for server first achievement?
Mercer: We’ve discussed it. There are some differences between 10 and 25 like the difficulties on heroic. It depends for some raids. They were harder some of the initial Cataclysm raids, some of those heroics were really, really hard. And viceversa from Firelands 25 ends up being harder. It’s hard for us. It’s difficult to keep those perfectly balanced. So that’s something we’ve talked about and can’t make any promises, but we’ll see.
You were talking how challenge modes can be done for dungeons, but are they also going to be for raids, and will those be going to be unlocked immediately, or like you have to do ten to unlock the next tier, and 15 to do the next tier.
Stockton: There’s a chance we could do challenge modes for raids, but we want to start those for dungeons, and see how they work out, and if they’re popular, and a chance to tune them and feel right. Raids aren’t out of the picture.
As far as the unlocking, there’s one thing we didn’t mention but we’ve been talking about once you get say the Gold Medal, after that we’ve talked about then actually the item level of your gear could get nerfed by like 5%, and then you a chance to run it again — almost like a prestige mode — and if you beat that, then we can lower your gear by 10% and then 15%, so not only would there be the three levels trying to keep going, depending on your skill level, that’s another way we could possibly unlock so you could do more. We haven’t finalized that to be honest.
I feel like one of the strengths of being able to have two raids on a single tier usually comes with giving the raiders a choice aas to how they will progress through content like they can choose — oh, we want to focus on this strength of bosses to get to the end, this beginning of this week or focus on this string of bosses to get to the end this week.
Whereas a single raid can seem to burden you toward getting to the end at times.
Have you considered maybe having a single raid where if you have progressed through one of two sides of the dungeon like with heroics, you’ve defeated both of these two bosses later on you can just progress through one side to the end of the boss and maybe have a little more time to work on him without having to slug through as many bosses week after week.
Mercer: We’re talking about that, and it came up because something we haven’t talked about with looking for Raid is, Dragon Soul is eight bosses — but the way the raid works you don’t choose all of Dragon Soul because doing eight bosses in one night looking for raids that’s a very long time commitment. Big commitment.
It breaks it up into two halves. The first four bosses, and you beat those, the last of those four you get the big battle reward.
Same thing after you’ve beaten those choose the second half and then it breaks up. Again, try to keep the content to smaller chunks. So along with that, essentially if we’re going to end up building in the backdoors, you know, Karazhan. The backdoor half way up, that’s something as a group we’re starting to see more about the logistic of getting raids through. That’s something that might happen in the future.
Last year’s Blizzcon and Cataclysm, you showed off a lot of artwork for the Abyssal Maw raid and you never released it. Do you have any plans and what happened to it?
Stockton: We don’t have any plans to release the raid at this point. What Abyssal Maw was is a raid we were doing for. Talking about doing Cataclysm, that was going to fit into Vash’jir, and ended up — it jut turned out that the storyline that we were telling within that raid and the bonds we were going to use didn’t fit with where we were going for the patch cycle.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with it, or that we’re just trying to not do it on purpose. It ended up not fitting. We ended up having better ideas for some other stuff we wanted to do, so we actually lost all that concept art. About as far as we had gotten with that concept was showing it at that Blizzcon. From a story perspective we’ve moved on from Cataclysm so I don’t think we’re going to go back to it. That’s what happened.
New dungeon challenges you’re going to be reducing people’s item level to a certain level. I wanted to know how you would handle the secondary stat like hitting expertise since those get lowered and people just take those to the cast and stop. The lower geared people are still going to be at their task where the higher group people will get that flag chopped off the top and will suffer the DPS loss from that.
Mercer: That’s a good point and that’s something we’ll certainly have to work out.
Stockton: A lot of other details like how do we handle trinkets.
Mercer: We have top men working on a solution for that. Have faith.
I was wondering how in old heroic Lich King you’d get Invincible, and the no head mount. 100% on hard mode. But in Firelands you made normal mode people get the Firehog mount and made people that got the firelord mount like a bummer that you could see like these noobs or whatever around on mounts that kind of work for it to get it. Like plan on continuing to do that or do you want to give these awesome mounts to people who don’t deserve it?
Stockton: Oh, goodness.
Mercer: Now on heroic you did get them every time you killed them and on normal I don’t think that was the case. So, you were rewarded more, as far as …
Stockton: and it’s a different color. That’s part of why the raid finder is going to be separating out so that the mounts like that will only come from normal and heroic and won’t come from Raid Finder.
Raid Finder is an intro to raiding for most people. What we were talking about earlier, all the prestige items will stay in normal and heroic modes.
This is a transcript of part two of the World of Warcraft Dungeon & Raids Panel led by WoW Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer.
Scott Mercer: Three new amazing raids in Mists of Pandaria. We really liked how the Cataclysm raid dungeons were developed where you had two raids, and a third one with a couple end bosses. We got multiple end bosses out of that. We got multiple times during the week you’d get that really nice exhilarating feeling of yeah, I beat this entire raid.
Will go with that philosophy again. The raids are going to feature predominantly two of our new enemy races: The Mogu and the Mantid.
All of these raids are going to have the raid finder: normal and heroic difficulties. We’ll talk about it more in depth. The raid finder difficulty we’re adding with Dragon Soul in patch 4.3. It will be in every single raid of Mists of Pandaria as well.
Here we have one of the early looks at what the Mantid might look like.
There are going to be different types of Mantid. We talk about with wings, maybe much larger Mantids that would act as tanks.
Then we have a look at the Mogu. These really huge beefy guys, but also very mythical. They are a very magical race.
The first raid dungeon we’re going to look at here would be Mogu’shan Palace. It’s located on the top of Kun-Lai Summit which is the center of Pandaria and it is a six boss raid.
Inside that you go in and explore the hidden secrets of the ancient Mogu empire. It’s been locked away, most of it a secret. Even the Pandaren don’t go into this place. The Mogu empire was very ancient even before the Pandaren empire. It’s very ancient. Lots of old secrets.
You’ll go in there and discover all of them. Here we’ll show you a layout that we have already changed. We’re reiterating all the time.
This layout has five bosses. You’d start on the right and head over to the left of the map. We don’t have video to show because it’s still in production. We have awesome concepts to show off for you. One of the rooms you’ll go along there will probably be a boss in front of here.
It will have a boss in front of this right here.
This is this crazy library where these huge scrolls are on the wall. Ancient Mogu scripts. You can see over on the far bottom right corner see the scale of this place. This place is huge.
Another beautiful concept of this entry. This grand entrance into the temple, and it’s just gorgeous. We really looking forward to expanding and making creatures for this and really giving you guys a great experience in this raid.
Cory Stockton: What is the Raid Finder?
We’ll talk a little about our Raid Finder for Patch 4.3, but we thought of giving you guys a little more details talking specifically on dungeons and raids.
Essentially the concept came up from what we did with the dungeon finder and being able to see how successful that’s been with getting a lot more players into the dungeon contents that we billed.
What we found with raids though is that we aren’t seeing as wide of an audience as we would like in our raid content.
We spend a lot of time on the raid content, and it’s just got some of our coolest fights, some of our best creatures, and really feel like everyone should have a chance to see that content.
It’s one of the main reasons we decided to get it in with patch 4.3 instead of waiting until Mists of Pandaria, because being able to fight Deathwing in the Dragon Soul raid, we just thought: “What better place to put it in so as many people could get a chance to experience that fight and be able to finally put down Deathwing for good”.
Now what we’re doing with it specifically is a lower difficulty level than normal difficulty, and that doesn’t mean we’re just going to go and tune the hit points down and damage down a little bit — 20% or 30%.
Instead, we’re going to go in, and look at the mechanics see how complicated they feel, talk about a group of 25 people that haven’t played together before. Be able to figure this out, and actually build something that works for them.
If we took the shortcut route about literally just changing numbers, that’s still not going to tune down the complexity of the fight.
Yes, it might make it easier, but you’re still then not going to know why you beat it. You’re not going to pick up on these mechanics.
So We’re actually going to go and make sure these fights feel right for this difficulty level.
Like I mentioned, this is going to be in patch 4.3 with Dragon Soul, but in Patch 5.0 (Mists of Pandaria), it’s going to be for every single dungeon on launch date.
So it’s going to be cool because starting out early on in the expansion, so many people are going to have more access to more content.
They’re not necessarily going to be done when you finish heroic dungeons, and challenge modes, and you feel like you’re ready, but you don’t necessarily have a group to raid with. Being able to use the Raid Finder is a way to get in quickly. Now, on the opposite side for Raid Finder we’ve made sure that the loot and the rewards you get from it feel appropriate to that level of player that’s doing it.
For instance, you’re not going to be able to get vanity items out of the normal raid finder — things like mounts that would drop off the final boss. We keep those in normal or heroic. Things like achievements for a specific bosses, are going to end up staying in the normal and heroic.
We’ll have an achievement that says you’ve done raid finder, but that would probably be it. And then all the rest of our achievements would end up staying in the normal and heroic modes. There’s a lot of people that play those modes and take a lot of pride in the fact that they can finish that content.
We think that’s awesome. We want that to still exist, but we want also to be able to open that content up to more people and that’s where the Raid Finder slots in.
So we got a couple of mockups of how this would look like.
We’ve been talking about how to get people more motivativated to do raids. So we thought, along with Valor Points, a side of fries would be sweet. So tasty. (note: joking about the icon beneath the Valor Points which looks like the McDonalds French Fries tagged as Side of Fries).
This would look very much like the dungeon finder we have now. You’d be able to open it up, pick your role, and queue up for it. And one really important point about the Raid Finder is that it works for 25-player Raids, not for 10-player.
We did that specifically because it’s going to be so much queue times we did only 25. We can fill it up with 17 DPS players and the 10-man would use a smaller number and the queue times would be bigger. 25-player raid finder would work much better than 10-player.
And now Scott Mercer is going to hit on some of the goals we have for the expansion as a whole.
Goals for Mists of Pandaria
Scott Mercer: One of the things we’re trying to do with Mists of Pandaria this time is keep the experiences short and focus.
I think a few of the dungeons in Cataclysm actually got away from us. Halls of Origination had seven bosses and that takes a while to get through.
Deadmines got six bosses. That took a long time to get through. We had to go back in and take some of the trash out to keep it a bit more focused, because — again — we want you to be able to not just like make it to where at the end — for a night — “Oh, I’ll make a dungeon”.
They should be short enough so you want to do a couple dungeons, or a dungeon plus some dailies, a dungeon plus some pet battles, a dungeon plus some battlegrounds.
Try to keep these short and focused, and give you more opportunity to do more things inside our game, and we think that’s very, very important.
Another one we talked about was to make dungeons more understandable, so we don’t setup groups to fail. We released Dungeon Journals, and one of the main reasons for that was tryng to make it so — you get into a group, you go alone, you get into a boss fight, all of a sudden you are all dead — and you’re like: “What just happened?”
And then the healer gets blamed. So you go to the Dungeon Journal and read to see what’s happening in there. The Dungeon Journal is great for that, but what we need to do as designers is to make sure visually that you understand what’s going on, that we telegraph these abilities so that you aren’t out of the blue hit by something really deadly.
It’s something we’re really going to try to focus on. Making all of the encounters super understandable, because — as I just mentioned — how bad it was if you don’t understand why you died or failed. It’s almost just as bad if you go into an encounter, everyone goes: “I got this!” Everyone fight, fight and fight, and suddenly everyone goes: “What just happened?” … “I don’t know, but we won.”
That’s pretty bad too. That means you didn’t actually understand what the game mechanics were. There wasn’t enough gameplay there. We put in abilities that if there’s damage spike to a tank, use your shield wall type ability. Things like that.
If you can ignore those kinds of things, and don’t understand them, that makes for not as much fun, and that’s what we’re trying to hit for is upping the fun quotient for the dungeons.
Another thing we like talking about is flexing our creative Kung-fu.
This expansion is awesome for us. We’ve been over the last few expansions had these really heavy dark themes when you think about it.
You’ve gone up to Northrend to stop the Scourge and the Lich King. The Cataclysm just happened, and now you’re killing Deathwing in patch 4.3.
Here in Mists of Pandaria – you saw the dungeons earlier, you’re trying to make sure the beer doesn’t stop. This is amazing. A little bit light-hearted, more friendly, and also, a lot of the — like all these culture and things, we are like super geeks, kung-fu movies, asian culture, anime. All these things that all of a sudden is like: “We can dragon-punch people in WoW? Awesome!”
You’ll get dragon-punched and all other kind of crazy moves, flying guillotines, all kind of new stuff.
It’s really exciting us as designers to work on this, and I think you’ll really see when you guys finally get your hands on this, all that layout, all that tender love and care.
And another like interesting thing, the three dungeons you’ve seen before, something that’s actually really cool about them that we’re doing is that they are actually in the world at a 1:1 scale.
A lot of our dungeons are actually just holes in the wall, and behind that wall like time and space sort of changes and if you like — if you actually walk the same distance inside the dungeon as outside you would go through a mountain or something.
These places are all in the world which opens up a ton of cool things. Our quest designers are super excited about being able to send you into these dungeons.
I can see here this is the Jade Temple. Again that’s actually in the world. It’s gorgeous. We’re giving you a chance to see it.
Like Cory was talking about the indoor / outdoor really feel amazing. Go into that more light-hearted feel if you can see the sun. That’s amazing.
And again, so many of our dungeons have been very dark, very heavy themes. So many of these, you know, just gorgeous.
Thanks for listening, we wouldn’t be here without all of you!
And now it’s time to listen to you guys. We’ll go to the Q&A.