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BlizzCon 2013 – Heroes of the Storm Overview Panel Transcript

Welcome to the Heroes of the Storm Overview panel. Your panelists are: Dustin Browder (game director), Alan Dabiri (lead software engineer), Sam Didier (art director), and Chris Sigaty (production director).

Browder: Hello BlizzCon. This is kind of a dream panel for me here. These are all the guys that I hang out in the office with all the time. We play board games together, we play “Dungeons and Dragons” together, so I get a chance to come up on the stage and talk about the game we have been working on for the last couple of the years is an absolute blast. We got Alan Dabiri, lead software engineer, we have got, Samwise Didier here art director, and we got Chris Sigaty, production director.

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[Audience Applauds]

Alright, we are gonna talk to a little bit about what we are working on for “Heroes of the Storm”. So Heroes of the Storm is a lot of different things. It is a big game, we have been working on for a long time, but I am gonna try to boil it down to some sort of key points for you guys.

It’s about getting these Blizzard heroes into the game. It’s about trying to create an environment, where we can bring all of the heroes from all of our worlds, into one single amazing game.

It’s about fun with friends, and this seems kind of obvious, I guess; but it’s about playing with your buddies. This is a team game. We want to focus it on team work, and working together as a group and it’s about these battlegrounds, these new ways to play games of this genre. New challenges, new strategies and new tactics. And of course, for us it’s about paying homage to the amazing Blizzard community.

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They really helped to create and to invent this entire genre of games. So I don’t know what you guys think, like for me it really seemed like everything really exploded when Warcraft III, came on the scene.

We had some really great stuff of course in Brood Wars, and even before, but Warcraft III is, it seemed like everything just really took off.

BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Panels Transcript Available

If you missed the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket livestream, then you’d be glad to hear that I have finally added the transcripts of all three Diablo III: Reaper of Souls panels held at BlizzCon 2013. Please, spread the word and share the link with your friends, communities and social networks. Or Reddit.

Feel free to submit corrections or requests through the comments or the contact us page.

I’ll translate them to spanish at some point later at the Blizzplanet Latinamerica website. I’m working next with the Heroes of the Storm panels. Stay tuned.

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BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A Panel Transcript

Presenter: Welcome to the Diablo III Lore and Story Q&A panel. The panelists are: Leonard Boyarski (senior designer), Michael Chu (game designer/writer), Brian Kindreagan (lead writer), Valerie Watrous (game designer/writer) and Justin Parker (historian)

Kindreagan: Hey, BlizzCon! I’m Brian Kindreagan and I’m the lead writer on Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. And I’m gonna ask everyone on our panel to introduce themselves before we get to the questions. So let’s start with Leonard.

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Boyarski: I’m Leonard Boyarski, and I’m senior world designer.

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Chu: Hey, I’m Michael Chu and I’m game designer and writer. And you can probably blame me for some characters like the Monk, Witch Doctor Covetous Shen and Zoltun Kulle.

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Watrous: Hi, I’m Valerie Watrous and I’m a writer on Diablo. I work mostly on dialogue and characterization.

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Parker: Hello, I’m Justin Parker. I’m the historian or one of the historians. We mostly work with the world that’s gone before and trying to keep continuity as best we can.

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Kindreagan: So, Justin is the surprise last minute addition to our panel. So that he can help with the some of the really deep Diablo history if we get into that. So, OK, let’s open it right up for some questions. If you have any questions, call me up.

BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III: Gameplay Systems + Crusader Panel Transcript

Presenter: Welcome to the Diablo III: Gameplay Systems and Crusader panel. Your panelists are: Josh Mosqueira (game director), Kevin Martens (lead game designer), Paul David (senior artist), Nicholas Chilano (lead animator), Andrew Chambers (senior game designer), Nicholas Eberle (senior technical artist), Wyatt Cheng (senior technical game designer), Travis Day (game designer), and Steve Shimizu (lead gameplay programmer).

Mosqueira: Good morning Blizzcon, How you guys doing?

[People scream with happiness]

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I brought the whole gang with me today, because there is a lot of you guys out there. I mean I have lot of really cool things for your guys today. So what are we covering today? This is the gameplay panel.

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So yesterday we talked a lot about some of the big new features that you are gonna expect with Reaper of Soul’s adventure mode . But today we are doing a deep dive on the few of the very core things that are at the heart of Diablo.

And those start with epic heroes. So the guys here are gonna talk to you guys about “The Crusader”. Our knight in battlestar armor. What was our process behind, how we come with his skills, his look and how we are fulfilling that fantasy. But “The Crusader” may be the star of Reaper Souls but all of the five classes are getting brand new skills. And why here we are gonna talk to you guys about what you are gonna expect.

BlizzCon 2013 – Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview Panel Transcript

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Presenter: Welcome to the Diablo III: Reaper of Souls Preview Panel. Your panelists are: Josh Mosqueira (game director), Kevin Martens (lead designer), Stephen Wong (senior gameplay programmer), Jesse Maccree (senior level designer), Joe Shely (senior game designer), Julian Love (lead technical artist), Tim Linn (lead interior environment artist), and Zaven Haroutunian (level designer).

Mosqueira: Hey, how you guys doing?

[People scream with happiness]

Mosqueira: Are you guys ready to face Death? Awesome isn’t that cinematic just awesome, we’re really excited to be here, umm my name is Josh Mosqueira, I’m the game director, and it’s a great honor to be here with you guys today, we’re going to show you some of the cool new things we have in store for you guys for the ”Reapers of Souls” .

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We got a great panel for you guys today, but before we get in to meat and potatoes of Reapers of Souls, I want to take a few moments to talk to you guys about what Reapers of Souls means to us.

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What of our high level goals we had when we started the project; and for us it all starts with epic heroes, where you are the Barbarian or Demon Hunter or the Monk or the brand new Crusader, You’re a knight in a battlestar armor, you guys are playing heroes which are bigger than life and you are facing the forces of darkness.

In “Reaper Souls”, we’re celebrating the dark gothic hearts. It is at the root of Diablo, and we have a sleuth of new monsters for you guys to kill and loot; and Joe and Julian, up here, are gonna talk to you about how our monsters are designed to live to die, and we’re not only introducing new monsters we’re also introducing brand new villain to the world of Diablo in the form of Malthael — the angel of death, and Tim and Zaven are going to talk to you guys about Pandemonium — the final battleground where you guys are going to be confronting Malthael, and trying to stop death; but we’re not just stopping there, one of the most important goals for us is we wanna make sure that there was, an end game for everyone.

When Will We Get to Draenor? Warlords of Draenor Release Date Speculation

When Will We Get to Draenor

Hello Blizzplanet readers, unfortunately some technical difficulties have gotten in the way of my write-up about Shadowmoon Valley as shown at BlizzCon 2013, so in the meantime let’s look at another important topic. Just when are we going to get to Draenor, anyway?

BlizzCon 2013 – World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, The Adventure Continues Panel Transcript

Presenter: World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues panel. Your panelists are Alex Afrasiabi (Creative Director), Tom Chilton, Brian Holinka, Dave Kosak, and Chris Metzen (Senior VP Story & Franchise Development).

Kosak: Hello, hello, hello BlizzCon. Guys I am… I am so excited! I’m so excited to be here just to meet the fans and the costumes – guys you outdo yourselves every year. I got to tell you, you guys make this the most fun gaming convention I’ve ever been at, hands down! Thank you so much.

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Alright so we’re going to talk about Warlords of Draenor. So if you were on an earlier panel, I think we blew through two hundred PowerPoint slides in like 60 minutes or something. It was a little much, we kind of ran out of time. For this panel we wanted to want to slow down a little bit, take it easy.
We are going to talk about just a few topics. What we’re going to do is we are going to talk about the heart of this expansion, our values sort of the soul and why, most importantly why Draenor is absolutely the next place to take the Warcraft franchise.

Alright, so let’s get my PowerPoint up here, because I’m a big fan of PowerPoint.

(Audience laughs)

Okay so recap, how did we get here? How did this all began? We asked ourselves what if, what if you take, you take this guy, Garrosh Hellscream. Now we know about Garrosh, we know about his values, we know what’s important to him; we know yeah, yeah we know the kind of horde that he wanted.

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BlizzCon 2013 – The Warcraft Movie Panel Details in a Nutshell

After transcribing the full BlizzCon 2013 Warcraft Movie Presentation Panel, I decided to summarize and gather the soul of the panel in a nutshell for you guys to learn everything that needs to be learned about the Warcraft movie.

Duncan wishes to develop a Warcraft movie based on his view as a player of the game. He wants to go to the roots of what the original Warcraft was, which is you can be a hero no matter what side you are on; and it is about both sides. It’s gotta be red and blue. Horde and Alliance. Not just from the point of view of the Alliance as the original movie script was.

Another interesting thing that spun out of this panel is that Duncan Jones is hoping to have a preview of the Warcraft film by BlizzCon 2014. If that is not awesome news, then how about the fact Rob Pardo and Duncan Jones mentioned “Next Year’s BlizzCon”? After reading the details in a nutshell below, you may read our entire panel transcript here.

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Film Details

  • Orcs will be real actors, emotive as much as any human character.
  • There is a scene in the Lion’s Pride Inn (Goldshire)
  • Concept Art shows: Dalaran, Draenor, Iron Forge, Stormwind.
  • Many Blizzard Artists, including Wei Wang, contributed an estimated 4,000 pieces of concept art for the film.
  • The past six months (June-Nov 2013) has been focused on pre-production design.
  • Half the cast is live-action actors and the other half are motion-capture technology based actors.
  • Real costumes will be crafted for the actors performing with motion-capture technology to have photographic references for the animations.
  • Nick Carpenter and Blizzard Cinematics team are working with Duncan Jones (Film Director) and Bill Westenhoffer (VFX Supervisor).
  • The orcs will really act and have personalities.
  • The Costume designers will create full-size casts to build the real Blizzard-style costumes.
  • Motion-Capture technology has been used in Planet of the Apes, Avatar, and The Avengers.
  • The team working on the Warcraft film was the same who worked on the film THE HULK.
  • The team is creating a duplicate of Elwynn Forest. The trees will be created as physical props capturing their size and distribution across the landscape too.
  • Bill Westenhofer and Nick Carpenter plan to add easter eggs found in-game into the Warcraft film.
  • Legendary and Blizzard have worked in collaboration to make this film.
  • The film will be set during the First War, during Warcraft I: Orcs and Humans (1994).
  • The lead characters are Sir Anduin Lothar and Durotan of the Frostwolf clan.
  • Duncan hasn’t been able to find an actor to play as Durotan.
  • Lothar and Durotan represent the highest ideals for each of both races.
  • The film will be done from the point of view of the humans and the orcs. Equally. Both races are heroes.
  • Durotan did never show up in the first Warcraft game. Was added to the lore later. The film will be like the Ultimate Spider-Man line reintroducing the Ultimate Warcraft classic story.
  • Duncan Jones hopes to break barriers introducing a War movie told from the point of view of both sides. A unusual structure for a movie.
  • Duncan teased whether the film and Warlords of Draenor tie-in somehow or not.
  • Bill Westenhoffer compares the Warcraft movie with Gladiator (2000). Actors will get dirty, covered in grime.
  • The music of the film has to be true to the music of the game and the environment soundtracks.
  • The swords that are being built are the biggest swords that a human can wield.
  • The production of the film is being documented as it progresses. Photos and video taken. Duncan would love to see a “The Making of” Art Book or Behind-the-Scenes DVD. No plans yet.
  • If the film works out they would be excited to continue the story. Trilogy isn’t ruled out. Metzen teases many trilogies if they put their mind to it.
  • The Production Team is pushing to include strong female lead roles.
  • If the Warcraft movie succeeds Blizzard hopes to have TV studios knocking their door to launch a Warcraft TV series like Game of Thrones.
  • Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson inspired Duncan Jones to wish to direct a fantasy movie.
  • Duncan thinks Peter Jackson has really set the bar as to what fantasy needs to be and anything the Warcraft movie team does has to match or beat that.
  • Duncan would like to have the Warcraft movie available in 2D and 3D so that fans choose which version to watch.
  • The Warcraft movie will be PG-13, but explains they can get their way with strong content with that rating, citing the Joker’s pencil scene in The Dark Knight was … PG-13.
  • During the Q&A a fan cited Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Game of Thrones had in common the development of linguistics for some races. Duncan Jones confirmed they have a linguistics team member who worked on some of those movies developing orcish language for the Warcraft movie.

Production Team Revealed

During the BlizzCon 2013 Warcraft Movie panel, Duncan Jones and Bill Westenhoffer revealed some of the team members in the Warcraft film production.

  • Gavin Bocquet: Production Designer for Star Wars: Episode I, II, III

  • Mayes C. Rubeo: Costume Designer for Avatar, World War Z, John Carter, Apocalypto, Dragonball: Evolution.

  • Paul Hirsh: Filming Editor for Mission: Impossible-Ghost Protocol (2011), Source Code (2011), Won an Oscar for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986), Footloose (1984), Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Carrie (1976), Phantom of the Paradise (1974).

  • Alex Gartner: Producer of Season of the Witch (2011), DC Comics The Flash (2016). Get Smart (2008)

  • Simon Duggan: Cinematographer for 300: Rise of an Empire (2014), The Great Gatsby (2013), The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008), I, Robot (2004)

Warlords of Draenor PvE and PvP Changes Part 1: Gear Changes

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Now that I’ve gotten home from one epic Blizzcon, let’s go over some substantial changes coming to raiding in 6.0!

Spec is everything:

One of the biggest announcements for Warlords was that armor pieces will now change stats according to spec.  Plate is plate, mail is mail, leather is leather, cloth is cloth.  Here’s an example:  I have a Pandaren monk who starting 6.0 will have leather with agility stats in my Windwalker spec.  If I change to my other spec, Mistweaver, it will change agility into intellect the moment the spec cast bar completes!  Same goes for Brewmaster, which would shift to armor emphasis as a tanking stat.  This change also includes Tier bonuses for each spec as well!  What impact does this have on WoW?  It means a few things:  raids will gear up faster, with no more hunter mail drops that an elemental shaman can’t use for their primary spec.  A cat druid will no longer skip on intellect gear, its leather armor pieces will change stats for all roles!  There will still be non-armor gear (such as trinkets) that will be role specific, but as a whole this will be a very welcome change to how gear works.  My Ret Paladin can actually consider tanking without being in tanking armor that is more suitable for two or three raid tiers prior.  Alternate PvE specs will likely get a lot more use now that players can try out new roles on a more competitive ilvl.  Imagine having your 4 piece set bonus and switching to Prot!  This change will also apply to PvP, which is a welcome change for many classes.

Speaking of PvP, a very welcome change is coming that will have people using the same Arena gear.  No longer will you struggle in rated Arenas while you earn enough Conquest points to become competitive.  Along with the resilience changes in Mists of Pandaria, this poises PvP to be skill based.  Do you prefer flexing your PvP gear muscles in the outside world?  That gear is still available for purchase, but will not function in ranked games.

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You may be wondering, what about gems and enchants?  They are on almost every piece of gear!  You know what is on every piece of gear?  Reforging!  So much gold and bag space for switching specs.  Fear not, for Blizzard has taken steps to make sure these obstacles are minimal:

1)      Reforging:  Removed!  Blizzard felt it was too much of a penalty without enough fun to it.  It caused people to hesitate on gear, fearing the cascade effect that so many of us are familiar with.

2)      Gems:  Less items will have gems, but they will increase in potency.  I like this change because it makes gems feel special and more manageable for switching specs.

3)      Enchants:  These have also been reduced, which will make us feel them more as well as make gear less expensive to play with different specs.

4)      What about Jewelcrafters’ and Enchanters’ pocketbooks?  Blizzard stated that they will be creating new ways for them to make money, minimizing the economic impact for those professions.

A couple of other things.  As I mentioned above about Brewmaster, armor will now be the primary tanking stat as Blizzard really likes active mitigation going forward.  Hit, and expertise will no longer be a factor as they have been removed!  The sigh of relief in the room when this was announced was universal.  It appears that Blizzard’s philosophy for this expansion is to really remove obstacles and things that are useless wastes of time (looking at you hit and expertise) so we can maximize our time playing.  Next up we will be discussing the exciting raid size and name changes!  What are you most excited about?

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A MOBA by any Other Name

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So who were the heroes I played?

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

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

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

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