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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Q&A Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

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.

 

 

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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

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.

Diablo Achievements

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.

Diablo Crafting

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

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.

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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft Dungeon and Raids Panel Q&A

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

This is a transcript of the last part of the World of Warcraft Dungeon & Raids Panel led by Cory Stockton and Scott Mercer. The panel ended with a 30 minute Q&A with fans.

Q&A

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?

Mercer: Ohhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

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.

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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft Dungeon and Raids Panel – Epic Raids

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

This is a transcript of part two of the World of Warcraft Dungeon & Raids Panel led by WoW Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer.

Epic Raids

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.

Raid Finder

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.

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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft Dungeon and Raids Panel – Challenge Modes

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

This is a transcript of part one of the World of Warcraft Dungeons & Raids Panel led by WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton.

Challenge Modes

We have some very awesome dungeons and lot of ways to play them, but some people are looking for a greater challenge in them.

Maybe you want to try something different, and so we’re looking to give players an opportunity of a different thing to do.

It works great to do it within the dungeons because we have so much content there to come up with a new mode for players to play them in.

Essentially, what challenge mode is is doing a dungeon on a timed run similar to the runs we used to have back in the day where people could go in and do a timed run specifically on a — Stratholme is a great example with a 45-minute Baron Run, you know something like that — but we want to take that and turn that into a whole entire mode with what the whole concept is.

So you’ll be able to go into a dungeon, timer starts, and then see how quickly you can finish it. We’ll have specific time setup that would give you a Bronze, Silver or Gold medal, and depending on how quick you can finish it you can earn that medal and that would work for the dungeons across the board.

We’re going to start first with the Pandaria dungeons, and move on to older dungeons where that could work, like Stratholme and Scholomance.

Really give players something they can do with guildies, with their friends, but we’d also like this to work with the dungeon finder tool.

We’re looking into having an option to queue for challenge mode, and only queue with other people that want to do it in this mode.

Another huge note about challenge mode is that we’re using normalized gear. It’s a huge deal here. Essentially everyone that’s in here is going to have the exact same item level of their gear.

So it really means it’s a skill-based exercise, and not just based on how good your gear is, and it’s really great because it means this content is going to last for so much longer because we can normalize that gear.

Later on you might have gear and come back and try to do a dungeon, and think you’re going to blow it out of the water, but you’ll be on the same playing field as another guy who might have heroic gear rather than raid gear.

Now what we were talking about for the rewards for this is really really awesome looking gear you can use for transmogrification.

Obviously we were saying you’ll get Valor Points for doing this. Part of our philosophy is that people should be able to do whatever they want to advance their character.

You’ll be able to do Challenge Modes if you like and still learn valor points, but we love the idea of getting unique art for this so you can show off.

A big part is Bragging Rights and Leaderboards.

If you can only get that gear here you can transmogrify your tier 14 into the gear you get specifically out of challenge mode.

Now like I mentioned, Leaderboards will be a huge part of this. The concept you can take your time and compare it against your Battle.net Friend List or your guildies and find out who got who, which dungeon the fastest, and what medals have you earned.

A number of ways you can compare with other people. You can look at their gear, and know if they’ve been able to get the gold medal in this dungeon.

We’ve got a couple mockups of what the UI is going to look like for this. So on the left there, you can see the challenges screen and you can see the gold, silver and bronze medals that a guy has gotten.

You can see what his best time is, and the dungeon. You can see who he ran it with. There’s a number of information you can get from this screen.

On the right side, that’s a leaderboard. Imagine that being in the guild system where you can have the dropdown and compare by achievement points or by different things by your guild members. There’s now an option to compare by Challenge Mode and you can see who’s gone up in the leaderboard. That’s what that little green arrow is.

This screenshot below is a look at what would happen when yo finish the dungeon. Same thing in the roster if you click one specific guy you can see what has he done, kind of just like looking at inspecting someone and finding out what’s the fastest time they’ve done.

What dungeon are they the best at. You guys can decide to get together and do another dungeon run the same way.

This one below is just a mockup of like — one of the big things about this is when you succeed well, we want you to feel awesome.

The guys mocked up something like this. Imagine you win. You get an awesome background sound, and this super cool screen telling you that you that you got the Gold Medal. Beat this dungeon, now try to get the Gold Medal somewhere else.

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BlizzCon 2011: Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime Public Apology

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

After a serious business incident at BlizzCon 2011, Blizzard Entertainment CEO took full responsibility and apologized.

Mistakes happen. Let’s move on. All the fun that was BlizzCon is what matters.

“Dear members of the Blizzard community,

I have read your feedback and comments about this year’s BlizzCon, and I have also read the feedback to the apology from Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftain. I’d like to respond to some of your feedback here.

As president of Blizzard, I take full responsibility for everything that occurs at BlizzCon.

It was shortsighted and insensitive to use the video at all, even in censored form. The language used in the original version, including the slurs and use of sexual orientation as an insult, is not acceptable, period. We realize now that having even an edited version at the show was counter to the standards we try to maintain in our forums and in our games. Doing so was an error in judgment, and we regret it.

The bottom line is we deeply apologize for our mistakes and for hurting or offending anyone. We want you to have fun at our events, and we want everyone to feel welcome. We’re proud to be part of a huge and diverse community, and I am proud that so many aspects of the community are represented within Blizzard itself.

As a leader of Blizzard, and a member of the band, I truly hope you will accept my humblest apology.

– Mike Morhaime
President, Blizzard Entertainment

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BlizzCon 2011: Known Celebrity Sightings

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

BlizzCon 2011 had a few visitors from Hollywood and TV Celebrities. Some invited as part of the event, and others who came as fans. Or maybe to also approach the executives concerning the Warcraft film? Who knows.

DirectTV broadcast live from BlizzCon, and curiously they had a known Celeb interviewing Cosplay fans. A Cosplay lover herself, Adrianne Curry did this for DirecTV, and she’s one of the Celebs interested in the Warcraft film.

Michelle Morrow, the Scream Queen of Horror films actress who told Blizzplanet during our interview she would love the role of Sylvanas in the film, came to BlizzCon 2011, and shared time with fans at the WoWhead Party Event. She tamed Ghostcrawler for a few minutes, and I bet she managed to get her way to Chris Metzen — I haven’t confirmed that yet. I keep in contact with her from time to time, so we’ll see soon. Eldorian met her and talked with her socially for a bit. She’s scary on the screen, but a lovely person IRL. Check out Michele Morrow’s Blizzcon gallery at her own website. Join her Facebook page titled Michele Morrow as Lady Sylvanas and Like her page.

Believe it or not, Daryl Hannah was at BlizzCon 2011. As a kid, I remember to have seen her for the first time in the film Splash with Tom Hanks back in 1984, and Kill Bill. She was sighted at the FingerPrints booth with Ed Fries.

WoW Insider interviewed Felicia Day and Michele Morrow on video at the BlizzCon 2011 WoW Insider / WoW Head Meet Up.

Brando Eaton (Born to Race, Alvin & the Chipmunks) attended BlizzCon 2011 and loved the StarCraft II Tournament.

Millionaire Match Maker Mitch Gordon is said to be the sensation of female cosplayers at BlizzCon 2011. There was no photo that escaped his presence.

Guillermo Diaz from the Jimmy Kimmel Talk Show was at BlizzCon doing mock interviews to Blizzcon attendees

Know of any other celebrity? Do you have photos, or know of other website, facebook or twitter page with photos of a Celeb who attended BlizzCon 2011? Let us know.

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BlizzCon 2011: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm FAQ

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzcon 2010, StarCraft 2 News

StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™ General

What is StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™?

Heart of the Swarm™ is the first expansion set to Blizzard Entertainment’s sci-fi real time strategy game StarCraft® II: Wings of Liberty™. Heart of the Swarm continues the epic story from Wings of Liberty with an all-new campaign that focuses on Sarah Kerrigan, the former Queen of Blades. New multiplayer units and maps will also be included in the expansion, as well as new features and upgrades to the Battle.net® online platform.

 

What features can we expect from the single-player campaign of Heart of the Swarm?

Heart of the Swarm’s campaign will include approximately 20 new missions. Players will be able to evolve their swarms with unique, campaign-only units and abilities, and this evolution will happen in an organic manner befitting of the expansion’s zerg theme. As an example, zerglings can be induced to evolve the ability to split into broodlings upon death. Further evolution can yield specialized sub-species of zerglings such as the swarmling, a variant that spawns three swarmlings per larva at an almost instantaneous rate instead of the standard two zerglings. The fearsome raptor is another evolutionary offshoot of the zergling that has more health and the ability to leap short distances to quickly close the gap on an enemy.

Another aspect of Heart of the Swarm that sets it apart from Wings of Liberty is that Kerrigan will play a major role in each of the battles as a powerful hero. Over the course of the campaign she gains in strength as well as new capabilities. Players will choose what abilities to enhance and powers to use from mission to mission.

Heart of the Swarm will also include a wider variety of locations, or sets, for players to explore between missions. These sets change dynamically as players complete missions, giving players a sense of an evolving world as Kerrigan makes her presence felt throughout the galaxy. Fully voiced cut scenes will round out the cinematic gaming experience in Heart of the Swarm’s campaign, while a new array of achievements will unlock in-game rewards such as portraits and decals.

 

Will there be any technical upgrades to the graphics engine?

We’ll be making some improvements to the graphics, including upgrades to the look and behavior of zerg creep, as well as some changes that allow our artists to better showcase the new types of planets that Kerrigan will explore in Heart of the Swarm. We still plan to keep the minimum hardware requirements the same for this expansion set as they were in Wings of Liberty.

 

What approach is the development team taking toward multiplayer in Heart of the Swarm?

We’re very pleased with the state of multiplayer in Wings of Liberty. Over the past year, the metagame has evolved as players are continuously developing new strategies and counters, while we’ve tried to make measured changes to game balance through patches. However, we recognize that there are still areas for improvement. Heart of the Swarm gives us an opportunity to address some of those needs through new units and abilities, which we’re typically not willing to make outside of an expansion as they can have a serious effect on current tournaments.

With Heart of the Swarm, we’ve tried to locate the needs of each race and address them with new units and abilities. We’re also trying to maintain — and if possible, enhance — the uniqueness of each race. The goal with everything we create for multiplayer Heart of the Swarm is to add new dimensions of strategy and gameplay to competitive StarCraft, while maintaining balance and avoiding redundancy with existing units.

 

What are some examples of new units, abilities, and game mechanics in multiplayer Heart of the Swarm?

First, it’s important to note that units and abilities are still very much subject to change. What we’re showing at BlizzCon only represents a snapshot of where multiplayer Heart of the Swarm currently stands, and these are just a few examples of the new units and abilities coming in Heart of the Swarm.

For the zerg, the new Swarm Host will serve as a ground-based siege unit. When burrowed, the Swarm Host will spawn melee units that slowly move in a stream toward enemy units or structures. This will allow the zerg to apply pressure on entrenched enemy positions. We’re also testing a new ability for the Ultralisk, called Burrow Assault, which will allow them to more easily get into the fight on a crowded battlefield. This activated ability will allow an Ultralisk to dive underground, quickly advance underneath units, and pop back up to attack enemies.

The protoss will field an interesting new unit called the Replicant. This unit has one ability — to turn itself into any non-massive unit within the protoss player’s line of sight on the map. This means protoss will have the ability to instantly clone units like terran Banshees and Siege Tanks, zerg Infestors, and more. The drawback is that Replicants are very expensive to create. On the abilities side, the protoss will get a new energy-based Arc Shield ability on the nexus that will temporarily add shield and building armor to any structure, as well as a weapon that functions in a similar way to a photon cannon, doing 20 light damage to enemies. This new ability will help protoss players fend off unexpected drops.

The terrans will have some new tricks as well. The Hellion will be given a new ability to transform into a walking battle mech. In this alternate form, Hellions will move slower, but gain health and deal higher damage in a shorter spray of flame. Battlecruisers will get a short speed-boost ability (Redline Reactor), which will be cooldown-based. This speed boost should help these terran capital ships with positioning and engaging in late-game battles.

We’re also testing a new gameplay mechanic for maps: destructible rock pillars that can create a blockade on a choke point. These will allow players to close off pathways, block themselves into expansion bases, or protect scouts holding position on an elevated Xel’Naga watch tower.

 

What changes will come to Battle.net with Heart of the Swarm?

Our primary focus will be on getting our new Battle.net initiative, Arcade, up and running at some point around the launch of Heart of the Swarm. The mapmaking and modding community around StarCraft II has published tens of thousands of custom maps using the StarCraft II editor. One of our goals with Arcade will be to upgrade the custom map UI to better showcase the wide variety of great new maps and mods to players who are looking for fun new gaming experiences. We want players to be able to more easily find, rate, and sort through all the great custom maps that have been created.

For map creators, we’re adding even more tools for them to create compelling custom games. These tools will include a cinematics editor for players to create their own cut scenes, and a 3D model importing tool which will allow artists to bring their own models into the game for use in custom maps. These are just a couple of the improvements and new features we’re developing to better support the map-making and machinima community in their quest to create fun and compelling content.

Arcade will serve as a foundation for the StarCraft Marketplace we’ve talked about before. Eventually, Battle.net will include a commerce element that will allow mapmakers to charge a fee for their work. While there will always be a wealth of free content, we believe that allowing content creators to profit from their work will foster an environment for more complex and higher-quality custom maps. Our ultimate hope is that the StarCraft Marketplace will function and thrive in a similar manner as mobile “app stores” — providing tons of free and premium content for players, and a limitless source of entertainment through StarCraft II and Battle.net.

We do have other Battle.net feature upgrades and improvements planned as well, and we’ll have more details on those at a later date.

 

Will Heart of the Swarm require players to own Wings of Liberty?

For the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, yes, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty will be required in order to play the Heart of the Swarm expansion. For other regions that have alternative access models, we’ll provide details at a later date.

 

How much will Heart of the Swarm cost?

We typically don’t provide details about pricing until the game is closer to release. We do view Heart of the Swarm as an expansion set, so for the regions that have a standard box business model such as North America and Europe, we will price accordingly. For other regions that have alternative business models, we’ll provide details at a later date.

 

Will there be a console version of Heart of the Swarm?

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm is being developed for Windows and Mac. We currently have no plans to bring StarCraft II to any console platform.

When is Heart of the Swarm coming out?

It’s too early to talk about a specific release date at this point in time. As with all Blizzard games, our ultimate goal is to provide the best possible experience for our players, and we will take as much time as is needed to ensure that Heart of the Swarm meets the expectations of our players, as well as our own high standards.

 

Will there be a beta test? When will it start? How can I apply for the beta?

Yes, we do intend to run a beta test for Heart of the Swarm multiplayer. However, we don’t yet have an estimated time frame for the beta test. As with all Blizzard games, if you wish to be considered for testing, you can opt in by going to www.battle.net and logging in to your Battle.net account. Go to Account Management, and click on Beta Profile Settings to begin the opt-in process.

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BlizzCon 2011: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – Units and Abilities

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, StarCraft 2 News

This document lists the new units and abilities in the BlizzCon® 2011 build of StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™. Please keep in mind that Heart of the Swarm is still in development, and all of the units and abilities you see described below are subject to change. It’s possible that some of these units and abilities will be discarded and new ones will be created to replace them as we continue to iterate on the game design. What we’ve listed below is just a snapshot of where we currently stand on multiplayer Heart of the Swarm.

Also note that some Wings of Liberty™ units have been cut — our goal is to avoid redundancy and maintain a tight and manageable number of multiplayer units and abilities for players to consider as they play competitive matches.

 

Upon analyzing data from their most recent battles, the protoss have identified a few areas of improvement that would help them maximize effectiveness against their enemies. Based on their findings, the protoss have augmented their arsenal with a second psionic unit, a new way to counter flocks of Mutalisks, and a new form of enemy harassment.

Tempest: The tempest is a new capital ship that deals massive area-of-effect damage to air units. It also has a standard ground attack, but its chief role is to help gain air superiority.

Oracle: The Oracle is a psionic warship, built from a Stargate, that uses several unique abilities to raid and harass the enemy. The first is Entomb, which can temporarily block mineral fields from being harvested. Another ability, Preordain, grants vision of a targeted enemy building, allowing the protoss to see which units or technologies are being researched. Rounding out its kit is Phase Shift, which phases a target building, preventing it from being attacked, using its abilities, or granting technology. Not only can structures like missile turrets be prevented from attacking, but using this ability on a zerg Spire would block the production of Mutalisks, Corruptors, and air upgrades.

Replicant: Replicants have one ability: to transform itself into any non-massive unit. They’re expensive, so cloning a Zergling would not be very cost effective, but transforming into a specialized unit like a Raven, Infestor, or Siege Tank could open up interesting strategic options for the protoss.

New Abilities

  • A new ability called Arc Shield has also been added to the nexus — this ability will temporarily add additional shield and building armor, as well as a weapon very similar to a photon cannon. The weapon does the same amount of damage as a regular photon cannon but only damages light units. This ability will help the protoss buy time to defend in the case of an unexpected drop from an enemy.

  • Another ability, Mass Recall, has also been added to the nexus, which allows protoss players to teleport armies from out in the field back to the nexus. The recalled units are stunned for a few seconds when recalled.

Retired Units

As we add units to the multiplayer game, sometimes it’s necessary to remove units or alter others’ abilities to maintain game balance and eliminate redundancy. In the current design of Heart of the Swarm, the protoss are not able to deploy Motherships and Carriers, though these and other units that don’t exist in Heart of the Swarm multiplayer will still be available in Wings of Liberty multiplayer and the solo campaign.

 

The resourceful terrans have also been improving their technology to better survive their battles in the Koprulu sector.

Shredder: The Shredder is a new unit built from the Factory that allows the terran player to control the battlefield. In its mobile form, the Shredder has no attack — but when set to stationary mode, it channels area-effect damage to both the air and ground. If a friendly unit enters the range of the Shredder, the weapon shuts off.

Warhound: The Warhound is a small, walking ground mech that wields an effective anti-air weapon with splash damage, much like the Thor from Wings of Liberty. The difference is that the Warhound is smaller and much more nimble, though it gives up some range on its anti-air missiles in exchange for this mobility. The Warhound also wields a small ground attack weapon that does additional damage to mechanical units, making it particularly well suited to taking out enemy Siege Tanks — though it’s not particularly effective against non-mechanical units.

Thor (Modified): While it was always quite effective against ground and air, one of the biggest problems with the Thor has been that it’s too big and bulky to move around well… so the terrans decided to made it even bigger. In Heart of the Swarm multiplayer, terran players will be limited to having only one Thor at a time, but this new behemoth hits even harder with its regular ground weapons and can absorb a tremendous amount of damage. The terrans have also swapped out the Thor’s anti-air weapons for a bombardment ability that does a huge amount of damage to a wide swath of ground. The Thor will need time to set up its bombardment cannons, as well as time to repack them after an attack, much like a Siege Tank. Of course, fielding such a powerful weapon requires a hefty investment in technology, so both an Armory and a Fusion Core will be required before a Thor can be built.

New Abilities

  • The Hellion has been upgraded to a transforming unit similar to the Viking. When transformed into its new battle mode, the Hellion will gain in hit points and get a stronger flame attack that covers a short arc in front of it. This makes the Hellion more effective in late-game fights against large clusters of light units such as Zealots.

  • The Ghost’s Cloak ability has also been modified — it will no longer be a toggled effect. Instead, there will be a one-time energy cost to activate Cloak for a specific time duration. Energy regeneration will continue while cloaked, and Ghosts can re-cloak while nuking without interrupting the call-down.

  • The Battlecruiser will gain a speed-boost ability called Redline Reactor, which is governed by a cooldown.

  • And finally, the Reaper no longer has a special building attack, but instead has a passive health-regeneration that allows it to recharge hit points quickly when out of combat.

 

The zerg continue to evolve and adapt to changing environments, particularly the dangers they face on the battlefield. New creatures will help the zerg stage more effective sieges and add unique enemy-manipulating abilities to their arsenal.

Viper: The Viper is a new flying unit with three unique abilities. Blinding Cloud temporarily reduces the attack range of all ground units inside the cloud to melee range, and prevents energy-based abilities from being used. Abduct allows the Viper to physically pull a unit to the Viper’s location. Finally, the Viper has a one-time ability called Ocular Parasite, which allows it to detach its eye stalk and meld it onto any friendly, non-massive unit, turning that unit into a detector.

Swarm Host: The Swarm Host is a slow-moving ground unit that has no standard attack. When burrowed, the Swarm Host spawns a continuous stream of slow-moving melee units called Locusts that can be used to lay siege and pressure entrenched enemy positions.

New Abilities

  • The Corruptor’s Corruption ability has been replaced by a new ability called Siphon that allows Corruptors to target buildings and slowly damage them. This damage is converted into resources for the zerg at the same time.

  • Ultralisks have a new Burrow Charge skill that lets them dive underground and instantly surface at a target, allowing them to initiate the fight faster on a crowded battlefield.

  • Finally, the Baneling has evolved tunneling claws similar to the Roach, which allows them to move while burrowed — this new evolution will mean other races will need to be even more wary about hidden drops and making sure to have detectors with their army.

  • Finally, the Hydralisk has a new upgrade that allows them to move faster while not on creep.

Retired Units

  • The Overseer has been cut; its detection ability has been replaced by the Viper and its Ocular Parasite.

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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Press Kit Screenshots

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

Blizzard Entertainment provided the press several Diablo III screenshots at BlizzCon 2011. Some of these show you different spell modifications with runestones. There are a few new creatures too.

  • Monk using Deadly Reach against a Fallen Shaman
  • Monk using Deadly Reach against a Sand Dervish
  • Monk using Deadly Reach modified with Indigo Runestone — it alunches three versions of the spell each in three directions separated by 45 degrees (cone range)
  • Monk using Lashing Tail Kick against Writhing Deceivers.
  • Monk using Sweeping Wind
  • Witch Doctor casting Firebats modified by Crimson Runestone
  • Witch Doctor with Zombie Dogs
  • Wizard and her Enchantress fighting Rockworm
  • Wizard casting Shock Pulse
  • Wizard casting Shock Pulse modified by Indigo Runestone
  • Wizard casting Shock Pulse modified by Indigo Runestone 2
  • Wizard casting Shock Pulse modified by Indigo Runestone 3
  • Wizard hurling magic missile at Rockworm
  • Wizard melting cultists with Disintegrate
  • Wizard melting cultists with Disintegrate 2
  • Wizard melting cultists with Disintegrate 3
  • Wizard melting cultists with Disintegrate 4
  • Wizard melting cultists with Disintegrate 5
  • Wizard melting her foes using Disintegrate modified with Golden Runestone
  • Wizard standing over her slain foes with Enchantress companion
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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III FAQ

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News


What is Diablo® III?

We’re developing Diablo® III to be the definitive action role-playing game and a true continuation of the Diablo series. Players will adventure through rich and varied settings, unraveling an epic storyline, engaging in combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, growing in experience and ability, and acquiring items of incredible power.

Diablo III will be a fitting sequel to Diablo II, with the easy interface, fast-paced action, and visceral gameplay that Diablo players have come to expect and enjoy. It will also include many new features that will take the Diablo action-RPG experience to the next level.

 

Which characters will be in Diablo III?

Players will create a male or female hero from one of five distinct classes — barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter — each equipped with an array of spells and abilities. New customization options will provide for an even greater level of character specialization than the previous Diablo games, allowing players to create unique characters brimming with power.

 

What can you say about the different classes?

The heavily armed barbarian is one of the stoic guardians of Mount Arreat. Armed with powerful abilities and moves, this plate-wearing savage wields ferocious weapons to annihilate the demonic forces threatening the world of Sanctuary.

The fearsome witch doctor hails from the terrifying Tribe of the Five Hills of the legendary umbaru race. The witch doctor is equipped with spells and alchemical powers; can summon mongrels, locust swarms, and zombie armies; and hurls fiery concoctions to annihilate any demon foolish enough to trifle with the powers of the umbaru.

The wizard is a wielder of the elements and a master manipulator of time, who combats the hordes of the Burning Hells by launching environment-shattering lightning bolts, channeling explosive arcane energies, and creating pockets of space outside of the normal flow of time.

The monk is a skilled warrior of unparalleled dexterity. Armed with speed, holy fervor, and a quest for physical and spiritual perfection, the monk becomes a deadly apparition in the heat of battle, moving faster than the eye can follow to strike down enemies with a barrage of lightning-fast blows.

The demon hunter has a sole purpose in life: to track down and destroy every last demonic being that dares to threaten humanity. Lithe and notoriously deadly with a pair of dual crossbows, the demon hunter brings an entire arsenal of gadgets and traps to the battlefields of Sanctuary.

 

What is the story of Diablo III?

The game takes place on Sanctuary, a world of dark fantasy. Unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants, Sanctuary was saved some twenty years ago from the demonic forces of the underworld by a few brave and powerful heroes. Most of those warriors who directly faced the armies of the Burning Hells — and were fortunate enough to survive — went mad from their experiences. And most of the others have buried their haunted memories and pushed the horrors from their thoughts. In Diablo III, players will return to Sanctuary to confront evil in its many forms once again.

 

Will players interact with any familiar faces or places in Diablo III?

Yes, definitely. Players will return to Tristram and certain other locations from the previous games, and they’ll also be exploring new areas of Sanctuary. Players will also encounter several new characters as well as a number of characters from the previous games, including Deckard Cain.

 

Will Diablo III be running on a new engine?

Diablo III is powered by a new graphics engine that can display characters and hordes of monsters in lush, fully 3D environments. Powerful special-effects and physics systems allow for realistic object dynamics and cloth simulation, enabling players to lay waste to the minions of the Burning Hells in spectacular ways.

 

Will Diablo still have randomized events?

Diablo III builds on the random environments of the previous Diablo games by adding random scripted events and encounters throughout the game, creating a dense and exciting world alive with quests, NPCs, and dynamic encounters.

 

What can you tell us about Battle.net®?

Diablo III will benefit from Battle.net® upgrades that will provide some exciting new features for players. Cooperative online play remains a primary focus, with multiple enhancements being planned to make connecting with your friends easier and playing together even more fun.

 

Will I need to be connected to the Internet to play Diablo III?

Yes, players must be online in order to play Diablo III. Diablo III was built from the ground up to take full advantage of the new version of Blizzard’s powerful Battle.net platform.

Players will have access to several features through Battle.net, including an advanced achievement system as well as the Diablo III banner system; a powerful co-op and PvP matchmaking system; comprehensive stat-tracking; persistent characters that will not expire and are accessible from any computer that has Diablo III installed; a persistent Real ID friends list across multiple Blizzard games, along with cross-game chat; a shared stash accessible by all Diablo III characters on the Battle.net account; and the ability to have friends seamlessly jump in and join you at any time during your quest against the Burning Hells.

Together with the security-related benefits that Battle.net provides, these Battle.net-based features are integral to the Diablo III game experience.

 

How will PvP be implemented in Diablo III?

While Diablo III is designed primarily for cooperative multiplayer, we are building in support for competitive player-vs.-player gameplay as well. We’re focusing on team-based PvP in an arena setting, allowing groups of players to battle head to head in beautifully hand-crafted locations. We also plan to integrate Battle.net’s matchmaking system, a progression-based ranking system, and more.

 

What matchmaking functionality will the game include?

With Diablo III, it will be easier than ever to quickly group up with your friends or other players in the community. When looking for a group, players will be able to simply broadcast an invite to all of their Real ID friends. Anyone who sees this broadcast can accept the offer with one click and automatically be added to their friend’s game.

We’ll also be including a robust public game finder for those times when you just want to play with whoever’s available on Battle.net as opposed to Real ID friends specifically. This feature will bring together players based on different factors, such as the part of the game they’re looking to play through.

Regardless of whom you group with, the game is designed to offer a seamless, fun experience. Players will be able to easily transition between single-player and cooperative play with their characters at any point during their Diablo III campaign, and the game will dynamically adjust to accommodate for additional players midstream. This means more-powerful demons to slay, more loot exploding out of corpses, and more fun on the fly.

In addition, the game will offer each player their own individual loot drops, health globes will be automatically shared among players, and players will be unable to go hostile at will, all of which should eliminate unfair ambushes and other types of griefing.

For player-vs.-player matchmaking, the game will group players together in the PvP arenas based on level and skill, making for fun, closely matched PvP action.

 

What is the banner system?

Think you’re better than all of your friends? Your banner will prove it. The banner system will be a visual representation of the achievements players earn across all of their Diablo III characters on their Battle.net account. A player’s banner will have multiple components that can be earned through various modes of gameplay.

Completing the game at different difficulty levels, defeating bosses, progressing in PvP, playing a Hardcore-mode character, and earning achievements will all unlock different ways for players to customize their banner and show off what they’ve accomplished.

 

What is the shared stash?

The shared stash is an inventory-management feature that allows players to stash items in a collective storage space for all of their characters. Items in the shared stash are accessible to the player regardless of which character is currently being played.

 

What difficulty settings will be available in Diablo III?

Players will have the opportunity to play the Diablo III campaign through four successive difficulty settings: Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno. Each difficulty setting will progressively increase the challenge and will reward players with higher tiers of armor, weapons, gems, crafting recipes, and runestones. Players must complete Normal to unlock Nightmare, complete Nightmare to unlock Hell, and complete Hell and reach level 60 to unlock Inferno.

 

Will there be a Hardcore mode?

Yes, players who seek the thrill of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for their character will again have that option in Diablo III. All four difficulty settings — Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno — will be playable in Hardcore mode. Players choosing to participate in Hardcore mode will only be able to play with other Hardcore characters and will only be able to trade items in the Hardcore version of the gold-based auction house.

 

After completing the game on Normal, why would I want to continue playing on more difficult settings?

Diablo III continues the series’ tradition of offering advanced levels of challenge once players play through at Normal difficulty. Due to the game’s randomized elements, including the monsters you’ll face and the layout and content of the areas you’ll explore, you’ll have a different experience with each play-through.

In addition, the challenges you’ll face will ramp up significantly at the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno levels. Playing at these settings before your character is at the appropriate level would provide a less-than-optimal experience. Once your character is ready, though, significantly greater rewards and levels of power await you at the Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno difficulty settings.

 

When will Diablo III be released?

We plan to release Diablo III in early 2012. As with all Blizzard Entertainment games, our goal is to create a game that is as fun, balanced, and polished as possible. We intend to take as much time developing Diablo III as is necessary to ensure the game meets our own high expectations and those of our players.

We’re aiming to release Diablo III on both Mac and Windows simultaneously in as many regions as possible, and to localize the game in several languages. We’ll have more details to share about countries, languages, and specific dates as we get closer to release.

 

What will Diablo III be rated?

The Diablo III rating will be determined by the ratings boards in each region. We will announce the rating that Diablo III has received in each region as we get closer to launch.

 

What are the system requirements for Diablo III?

We’ll announce specific system requirements at a later date.

 

Will Diablo III include support for bots and/or mods?

No, for a variety of gameplay and security reasons, we will not be supporting bots or mods in Diablo III, and they’ll be expressly prohibited by our Terms of Use.

 

Will Diablo III be offered digitally as well as at retail stores? How much will it cost?

As with our previous games, we do intend to offer Diablo III for purchase digitally as well as at retail. Specific details regarding pricing and availability for each region will be announced closer to release.

Diablo-III-Box-Art

BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Fact Sheet

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

Diablo® III is being developed as the definitive action role-playing game, and a true continuation of the Diablo series. Players will create a male or female hero from one of five distinct classes — barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, or demon hunter — each equipped with an array of spells and abilities.

As these heroes adventure through rich and varied settings, unraveling an epic storyline and engaging in combat with hordes of monsters and challenging bosses, they’ll grow in experience and ability and acquire items of incredible power.

The game takes place on Sanctuary, a world of dark fantasy. Unbeknownst to most of its inhabitants, Sanctuary was saved some twenty years ago from the demonic forces of the underworld by a few brave and powerful heroes.

Most of those warriors who directly faced the armies of the Burning Hells — and were fortunate enough to survive — went mad from their experiences. And most of the others have buried their haunted memories and pushed the horrors from their thoughts. In Diablo III, players will return to Sanctuary to confront evil in its many forms once again.

Diablo III will be a fitting sequel to Diablo II, with the easy interface, fast-paced action, and visceral gameplay that Diablo players have come to expect and enjoy. It will also include many new features that will take the Diablo action-RPG experience to the next level.

Features

  • Five powerful character classes to choose from, including the barbarian, witch doctor, wizard, monk, and demon hunter

  • Brand-new 3D graphics and physics engines enhanced with spectacular visual effects

  • Numerous indoor and outdoor areas detailing new regions in the world of Sanctuary

  • Interactive environments with dangerous traps and obstacles, and destructible elements

  • Randomly generated worlds bolstered by scripted events for endless and dynamic gameplay

  • Vast assortment of fiendish monsters, with unique attack patterns and behaviors

  • New quest system and character-customization options for the ultimate action RPG experience

  • New runestone items that let players change how their abilities look and function, allowing for nearly limitless skill customization

  • Multiplayer functionality over Battle.net with support for cooperative and competitive play

  • Four different difficulty settings — Normal, Nightmare, Hell, and Inferno — that progressively increase the challenge and reward players with more powerful armor, weapons, and runestones

  • Hardcore mode for players who seek the thrill of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for their character

blizzcon-2011-talent-system-panel-60

BlizzCon 2011: WoW Class Talent System Panel – Priest

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

As part of the World of Warcraft Talent System Panel held at BlizzCon 2011, Ghostcrawler introduced details of the Priest talent trees.

Priest is a challenge because its two healing specs, and one damage spec.

We really wanted to make the choices were there. We didn’t want to have two healing choices, and here’s the thing shadow chooses. So I’m excited about these.

These are really creative.

Level 15

Level 15 is about control. We tried to let players recreate the existing builds they have so if you just like Psychic Scream, pick Psychic Scream and you’re good.

If you want to try something different, we have two new forms of crowd control in here. The Void Tendrils rise on the ground and can root all targets within an area.

And the Psyfiend is kind of an interesting idea where a little Psyfiend comes out and will Psychic Scream repeatedly on different targets.

Level 30

Level 30 is a fun tier that adds kind of a little wrinkle to some of your existing abilities.

Body and Soul, and existing holy talent that grants movement shield when someone has been shielded.

Path of the Devout increases your movement speed while levitating.

And Phantasm, when you fade you remove all movement impairing effects, and give yourself a movement speed boost.

Level 45

Level 45 is about damage and healing. Again we didn’t want for Shadow who always has to take “this one”, so e wanted choices in here. We have Surge of Light and Surge of Darknes which clears casting, it’s a different version for Shadow to make sure damage still works and has no Shadow Orb cost.

And Divine Star, fires a projectile out that does damage and healing and then it comes back and does damage and healing over the same path again.

Never had a spell that worked quite like this so it’ll be fun to try it.

And then Archangel. Archangel is a core ability now. You get Archangel or Dark Archangel to consume evangelism or shadow orb.

Level 60

Level 60 is keep the Priest alive — Survivability. Anyone with Desperate Prayer, it’s a bit instant heal.

Angelic Bulwark increases your shield when you shield yourself.

And Final Prayer is a passive that when you get hurt without having a clicking ability you will get a little bit of help.

Level 75

Level 75 is about power. Twist of Fate — very powerful talent. Totally passive but increases damage and healing on targets that are wounded below 25% health.

The existing Power Infusion from Discipline now is available to everyone.

And we merged Serendipity and Mind Melt into one talent choice here that lets you reduce the mana cost (Healing spec) or stack up Mind Melt (Damage spec).

Level 90

Three crazy new abilities at level 90. Vow of Unity … Imagine you designate a champion for a short period of time, and you can — when you heal that person it heals you a little bit, like a reverse beacon. It doesn’t last the whole time, though.

Void Shift … really crazy talent. This just swaps health percentage with your target. That’s all! No big deal.

Very simple and obviously, a lot of ramifications if the tank is at 50% and you’re at 100%, you can swap that health, and then quickly heal yourself up. I know. That’s awesome.

And then Vampiric Dominance is a greatly improved Vampiric Embrace. Shadow Priests used to have this cool vibe of a passive, heal the rest of your group.

We thought by making you choose one of these three abilities we could offer a more powerful version so hopefully we’ll see some more priests out there.

Talents Window

witch-doctor-zombie-giant

BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Press Kit B-Roll Video

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

This Diablo III B-Roll video came within the Press Kit provided to Blizzplanet by Blizzard Entertainment at BlizzCon 2011.

In this video you can see all the five classes and respective genders clash against different monsters and demons in Act 1, after the defeat of the Skeleton King.

There are some familiar faces such as the Tomb Viper, the Khazra (Goatmen), Scavengers, Gnarled Walkers (Treant-like), Dark Cultists, and others who escape my memory.

This video is awesome. The sound quality when the female barbarian is smashing things gives the impression that players with a 7.1 surround system are going to activate all car alarms around the block.

There are a few spells in this B-Roll I hadn’t seen before. Take a look at the Witch Doctor and the Demon Hunter for instance. The beastiary as well, there are a few creatures I haven’t seen before.

00:20 – the Barbarian slashing through a pack of Tomb Vipers who unburrow from the ground inside a dungeon.

00:27 – The Barbarian leaps to attack a giant and bulky bull-like creature straight from a Star Wars film, and some Khazra goatmen.

00:50 — wow, those bulky creatures actually look the part. Like a bull, from half the screen it started to scratch the ground with one leg, and charged at warp ten against the female Demon Hunter. In short, keep your eyes peeled, or you gonna get the horns.

It has a signature that tells you it’s about to charge from afar. It exhales a very long string of steam from its nose in the direction it’s going to charge. Barely a second to move out of its path.

1:00 – there’s a weird Witch Doctor spell that summons three bear-like bulky creatures that dig out of the ground and as they approach their target disintegrate into green goo causing damage. Resembles the Stampede animation, just these disintegrate.

1:20 – this is one of those rare times when we see the Wizard overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

2:18 – The female Demon Hunter fights in what looks like a cave with a lava river. She’s fleeing these scorpion-spider hybrid things

Around 2:25, you can see a very tall zombie-like monster with sort of totems on his shoulderpads. It’s attacking the undead … a Witch Doctor minion to do your bidding.

The giant toad can be seeing swallowing a mob at 2:30. Wait, I thought the Witch Doctor would be the one transforming into a giant toad. Probably my bad. The tall zombie minion is in that scene again too, and in the next mission as well crushing giant spiders.

At the end the female Monk is kickin Scavenger ass. You can see their burrowing animation.

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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Cover Artwork

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

Eldorian just sent me some BlizzCon 2011 press kit assets to share with visitors. Not sure which dimensions would be best for you guys, or what you would be using it for — so I’m open to size petitions.

For now I am down to sharing it on this size: 1417 x 1920. The original file was 212MB — 6644 x 9000. Seems this artwork will be printed somewhere on the Diablo III box, probably the inside folding.

Hold down your mouse right-button and choose “Open in New Tab” to access the hi-res image.

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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Auction House FAQ

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News

What’s the difference between the gold-based auction house and the currency-based auction house?

The gold-based auction house uses in-game gold for purchases and sales. With the currency-based auction house, players will be able to conduct these transactions using actual currency from an authorized payment method or from funds that have been added to their Battle.net account. Players can choose to participate in whichever version of the auction house they prefer, on a per-transaction basis.

 

How does the auction house system work?

Players open the auction house interface to make purchases or list items for sale. Items can be sold from the shared stash (storage shared among all the characters on your Battle.net account) or from any individual character’s inventory. When posting the item, the seller picks whether it will be sold in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house. The item is then held by the auction house system until the listing expires or a purchase is made. Items that are not sold are returned to the seller’s shared stash, and items that are sold are delivered to the winning bidder’s shared stash.

In either case, the auction house system will deduct a nominal fixed transaction fee from the seller, the amount of which is determined by whether or not the item was sold (see below). For the currency-based auction house, players will have a few different options for how to pay for item purchases and receive funds for item sales, as discussed elsewhere in this FAQ. There may be differences in how this system will work in different regions of the world. We’ll provide further details at a later date.

 

How is the transaction fee determined?

A nominal fixed transaction fee will be deducted from the seller for each item listed in the auction house. This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold.

Because the listing portion of the fee is charged even if the item doesn’t sell, it will be in the seller’s interest to list items he or she believes other players will be interested in, and to do so at a competitive price. Specific details related to the transaction fee for the currency-based auction house will vary by region and will be announced at a later date.

Please note that we plan to waive the listing portion of the fee for a limited number of transactions per account. In other words, for these transactions, the seller will only pay a transaction fee if the item is successfully sold, and that fee will not include the listing charge. We’ll have further details on this as well at a later date.

 

Why are you creating a currency-based version of the auction house?

Our goal with all of our games is to ensure players have a highly enjoyable, rewarding, and secure experience. Acquiring items has always been an important part of the Diablo series, but the previous games have not had a robust, centralized system for facilitating trades, and as a result players have turned to inconvenient and potentially unsafe alternatives, such as third-party real-money-trading organizations.

Many of the transactions between players and these organizations led to a poor player experience and countless customer-service issues involving scams and item/account theft, to name a few. To that end, we wanted to create a convenient, powerful, and fully integrated tool to meet the demand of players who wished to purchase or sell items for real-world currency, and who would likely have turned to a less-secure third-party service for this convenience.

 

How will the currency-based auction house work?

Players will be able to make purchases in the currency-based auction house using a registered form of payment attached to their Battle.net account. As with other popular online-purchase services, players will also have the option to charge up their Battle.net account with a balance of funds that can be drawn from for purchases of any digital product available through Battle.net — this includes not only auction house items but also things like World of Warcraft subscription time and paid services, to name a few examples.

On the flipside, when players sell an item in the currency-based auction house, the proceeds of the sale are deposited into their Battle.net account and can then be used as described above. Note that this process might be different for certain regions; we’ll provide further region-specific details as we get closer to launch.

 

Can players choose to get cash from currency-based auction house sales, instead of having the proceeds deposited into their Battle.net account?

Yes, as an advanced feature, players will have the option of attaching an account with an approved third-party payment service to their Battle.net account. Once this has been completed, proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house can be deposited into their third-party payment service account. “Cashing out” would then be handled through the third-party payment service.

Note that this process will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service. Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house that have been deposited into the Battle.net account will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account.

Not all regions will support this advanced feature at launch. Region-specific details, as well as details regarding which third-party payment services will be supported and the fee that Blizzard will charge for the cash-out process, will all be provided at a later date.

 

Is the currency-based version of the auction house optional?

Yes, the currency-based auction house is available as an option for players who wish to purchase or sell Diablo III items for real money. Players are also able to buy and sell items through the gold-based auction house, and they can trade items with each other as well through direct character-to-character in-game trading.

 

Why would I want to pay real money to buy or sell in-game items?

Acquiring items has always been a core part of the Diablo series’ appeal. With the previous Diablo games, many players have shown a great interest in buying, selling, or exchanging items for their characters using real-world currency, turning to potentially unsafe avenues to accomplish this goal. The currency-based version of the auction house provides players with an easy-to-use, Blizzard-sanctioned way to collect money for items obtained while playing Diablo III.

In addition, it helps protect players from scams and disreputable third-party sites by providing a secure, in-game method to search for and purchase items posted by other players that are a perfect fit for their character and play style.

The currency-based auction house is completely optional. Players who aren’t interested in paying real money for items will still be able to rely on items they acquire through their own adventures, and they’ll also be able to trade with friends and use the full-featured gold-based auction house.

 

Can I play on a server without a currency-based version of the auction house?

We want to provide a secure, fun environment for our players to purchase and sell in-game items using gold or real money and have no plans to divide the community.

Players are free to participate in the gold-based auction house or the currency-based auction house, or to opt out of using any of the auction houses at all, progressing through Diablo III using only the items they obtain through their own adventures or direct trade with other players.

 

Does Blizzard plan to post weapons, armor, and other such items for sale in the currency-based version of the auction house?

The currency-based auction house is a place for players to purchase or sell items they’ve obtained within the game. Blizzard does not plan to post items that affect gameplay, such as gear or character-enhancing runestones, for sale in the auction house.

 

Will Blizzard sell anything directly through the auction house?

We don’t have any plans at this time to post items for sale in the auction house.

 

Does the currency-based auction house signify a shift in Blizzard’s business and revenue model?

We’ve always tailored our business models to match what we’ve felt would be most appropriate and effective for each game and in each region, and that’s the case with Diablo III as well.

The item-based nature of Diablo gameplay has always lent itself to an active trade-based ecosystem, and a significant part of this trade has been conducted through unsecure third-party organizations. This has led to numerous customer-service and game-experience issues that we’ve needed to account for.

Our primary goal with the Diablo III auction house system is for it to serve as the foundation for a player-driven economy that’s safe, fun, and accessible for everyone.

 

What’s Blizzard’s cut?

As with other online auction sites and real-world auction houses, our fee structure will vary by region. However, we plan to collect a nominal fixed transaction fee for each item listed in the auction house.

This fee consists of a fixed charge to list the item, which is assessed whether or not the item is successfully sold, and an additional fixed charge that is assessed only if the item is sold.

The listing portion of the fee, which helps encourage sensible listing prices and discourage the mass posting of items that are very low quality or would be of little interest to other players, will be waived for a limited number of transactions per account.

For players who opt to have the proceeds of their auction house sales go to their third-party payment service account instead of to their Battle.net account, Blizzard will collect a separate “cash-out” fee. Specific details regarding these fees will be announced at a later date.

 

Why would I even want to use the gold-based auction house?

We recognize that not all players would prefer or have the means to participate in the currency-based auction house, and it was important to us to provide these players with a full-featured alternative.

 

Can we buy gold from the currency-based auction house?

Players will be able to buy and sell gold through the currency-based auction house at whatever the current market price is, as established by the player community.

 

If I no longer need an item I bought in the auction house, can I relist it in the auction house?

Yes. Once you’ve purchased an item you can do anything with it that you could if you had acquired it through your own adventures, whether that be using it yourself, or, after a cool-down period, trading it to another character or relisting it on either the gold-based or currency-based auction house.

In fact, you can generally do any combination of these things — for example, you can purchase an item in the auction house, use it for a while, and then relist it or trade it to another character.

Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. Please note that the duration of the cool-down period mentioned above will be discussed at a later date.

 

AUCTION HOUSE FUNCTIONALITY

 

What items can be traded in Diablo III?

Nearly everything that drops on the ground, including gold, can be traded with other players directly or through the auction house system. Aside from certain quest items, there will be very few (if any) items that will be “soulbound” to your character and therefore untradable. We are also planning to allow players to buy and sell characters in the auction house at some point in the future and will have more details to share on that at a later date.

 

What is "smart searching"?

When players launch the auction house interface, they’ll be able to select any Diablo III character associated with their Battle.net account. The "smart search" feature will assess which item slots have available upgrades and will sort items available in the auction house based on which upgrades would be most beneficial to the character. You can also search for specific stats to match the requirements of a particular character build.

 

How does bidding work?

Players will be able to place a current bid as well as a maximum bid if they wish to engage in automatic bidding. In addition, they’ll be able to check the status of their bids on the "Currently Winning" page and the "Outbid" page in the auction house interface.

 

Can I buyout items that I want to purchase immediately?

Yes, the Diablo III auction houses will support a buyout feature as well as standard bids.

 

How do I pay for items?

For the gold-based auction house, purchases will be made using in-game gold. For the currency-based auction house, players can make purchases using a registered form of payment attached to their Battle.net account.

As with other popular online-purchase services, players will also have the option to charge up their Battle.net account with a balance of funds that can be drawn from for purchasing items in the currency-based auction house. Note that this process might be different for certain regions; we’ll provide further region-specific details as we get closer to launch.

 

How do I receive the items I’ve won?

After winning an auction, the item will be available to pick up through the built-in auction house interface in the Diablo III client. Players will then be able to immediately send that item to their shared stash (storage shared among all the characters on a Battle.net account) or repost the item in the auction house after a cool-down period. The duration of the cool-down period will be discussed at a later date.

 

How do I sell items?

From the auction house interface, players will be able to select items from their shared stash or from a specific character’s inventory. They will then be able to post items for sale by listing a starting bid and buyout price.

 

How do I cash out from the currency-based auction house?

As an advanced feature, players will have the option of attaching an account with an approved third-party payment service to their Battle.net account. Once this has been completed, proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house can be deposited into their third-party payment service account. “Cashing out” would then be handled through the third-party payment service.

Note that this process will be subject to applicable fees charged by Blizzard and the third-party payment service. Also, any proceeds from the sale of items in the currency-based auction house that have been deposited into the Battle.net account will not be transferrable to the third-party payment service account.

Not all regions will support this advanced feature at launch. Region-specific details, as well as details regarding which third-party payment services will be supported and the fee that Blizzard will charge for the cash-out process, will all be provided at a later date.

 

Will buying or selling items in the auction house reveal my identity?

No. All player transactions in the gold-based and currency-based auction houses will be anonymous, and neither your real name nor your character name will be revealed to other players.

 

Will there be a mobile or Web-based auction house?

We’re always on the lookout for opportunities to enhance the game experience and keep our community connected to our games through the Web or mobile devices. However, we do not have any plans to share along those lines at this time.

 

When will this be available for testing?

We’ll share more information on our auction house testing plans as we get closer to launch.

 

REGIONAL AUCTION HOUSE DETAILS

Which regions will have currency-based auction house support?

We plan to roll out the currency-based version of the auction house in as many regions as possible with the launch of Diablo III. In regions where the currency-based auction house will not be available, players will still have access to a gold-based auction house. We’ll share more details in the future.

 

Will there be separate auction houses in each region? Will I be allowed to bid on items from players outside my own region?

Due to various factors, including technology, language, and currency, there will be multiple separate auction houses serving different player communities around the world. We’ll share specific details on how the auction houses will work for each region as we get closer to launch.

 

If I live in Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia, what server will I play Diablo III on?

As with StarCraft II, players who purchase the Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia version of Diablo III will have their own regional servers, offering lower latency and more action during peak hours.

While we encourage players to play on these servers, we recognize that many have longstanding friendships with North American players and would like to continue playing with them. Because of this, we’re again giving Australia/New Zealand/ Southeast Asia gamers access to both regions’ servers so they can choose where they’d prefer to play.

How does this impact the items I have purchased in the auction house?

Auction house purchases are bound to the servers in the region in which they’re bought. Any items acquired on the Australia/New Zealand/Southeast Asia servers, in-game or otherwise, are bound to those servers and are not transferrable to the North American servers (and vice versa). Please keep this in mind when making purchases in the auction house.

 

What currencies will be available? What currency will items in the auction house be viewed in? Can players purchase items using local credit cards or bank accounts?

Our goal is to make the auction house experience in each region as seamless as possible for players, and we are currently exploring various currency and payment options to help achieve that goal. We’ll provide further details as we get closer to launch.

 

AUCTION HOUSE GAMEPLAY ISSUES

Will I be able to use third-party mods to track auction prices?

For a variety of gameplay and security reasons, we will not be supporting bots or mods in Diablo III, and they’ll be expressly prohibited by our terms of use for the game.

 

Can Hardcore-mode characters use the currency-based auction house?

No. Hardcore characters will only have the option to buy and sell items together with other Hardcore characters via a separate "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house; they will not be able to use the currency-based auction house.

Hardcore mode is designed as an optional experience for players who enjoy the sense of constant peril that comes with the possibility of permanent death for a character. All of a Hardcore character’s items are forever lost upon that character’s death, so to avoid the risk of a player spending real money on items that could then be permanently lost when the character dies, we decided to prohibit the use of the currency-based auction house in Hardcore mode.

 

If my character dies in Hardcore mode, will I lose the items that I purchased in the "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house for that character?

Yes. Again, Hardcore-mode characters will only have access to a "Hardcore-only" gold-based auction house, not the currency-based auction house, and will not be able to trade with non-Hardcore characters.

Hardcore is an optional mode designed for players who enjoy playing with the risk of permanently losing their character if the character dies, and that includes the items they acquired with that character.

Can I just buy the most powerful items and breeze through the game?

Items will be level-restricted, meaning your character won’t be able to use an item until he or she is at the appropriate level for that item.

 

AUCTION HOUSE CUSTOMER SUPPORT

What happens if a player does not receive a purchased item?

The auction process is automated, but if a player purchases an item and for some reason does not receive it, he or she will be able to contact our customer service team to look into the issue.

 

What happens if there is a patch and the item I purchased is altered?

It’s important for us to ensure that Diablo III remains balanced and fun for years after launch. To that end, it may be necessary to change stats or alter abilities of items from time to time.

It’s very important to note that Blizzard will not be providing refunds or making other accommodations if a purchased item is later altered in a patch. Given this, it’s up to players to determine whether they’re comfortable purchasing items in the currency-based auction house.

 

Someone bought an item on my account without my permission. Can I get a refund?

Please note that account sharing will be forbidden in Diablo III’s Terms of Use. In cases of compromise, our customer service team will look into the situation and determine the appropriate course of action.

 

I accidentally lost or dropped an item I just purchased — can I get a refund?

No. After a purchase is made, players will be responsible for what they do with the item.

 

How will you address bots or cheaters?

We take cheating very seriously, and we’ve designed Diablo III and Battle.net to include measures to detect and prevent unfair play. In addition, we will have anti-cheating policies in place and will take action to address any issues as they arise.

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Blizzplanet: BlizzCon 2011 Panels Transcript Archive

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News, Featured Stories, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

Over the next two weeks, this hub page will grow as we add more BlizzCon 2011 updates. This is a transcript archive to read the BlizzCon 2011 panels. There were around 20 panels led by Blizzard Entertainment developers covering World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm and Diablo III.

Those who wish to can still order the BlizzCon Ticket Livestream at the official BlizzCon website. All VODs will be available for view until November 20th, 2011. Additional links: Blizzard, BlizzCon Homepage, BlizzCon Twitter.

Blizzplanet Articles

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria – Press Kit

This section gathers all the material Blizzard Entertainment provided Blizzplanet network manager Eldorian at the BlizzCon 2011 Press Room.

World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria

Browse through the Transcript Archive of each panel.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Class Talent Panel

Dungeons & Raids Panel

Diablo III – Press Kit

Diablo III – Panels

StarCraft II Press Kit

StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm – Panels

Browse through the transcript archive of each panel. (coming soon)

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BlizzCon 2011: Mists of Pandaria – Dungeons, Battlegrounds, Arenas & Major Class Changes

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

In this panel, the developers talk about some of the initial dungeons in the Jade Forest and Valley of the Four Winds, the new PvP Battlegrounds, and the new Arenas.

Achievements will be shared among all your characters, and the developers will introduce ones where all your characters participate in to complete an achievement.

Resilience will have a few changes to accommodate newbie PvP players who are wearing mostly PvE gear at first. Nothing really crazy, just a way to allow newbies to transition well without getting owned badly and overpowered to the point they can’t compete and get their initial PvP gear.

New changes to be made to your characters — ouch, how do I tell you this? Hasta la vista, Relics. Gone. The Wand slot? Vaya con Dios.

Bye, Hunter melee weapons! Ouch. Gone. Without further ado, read the full transcript of the Mists of Pandaria Dungeons Sneak Peek discussion.

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria Panel, WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton discussed details of some of the first Dungeons of Pandaria.

Dungeons Sneak Peek

Cory Stockton: We’re expecting to make 9 dungeons for Mists of Pandaria. We’re super excited to be able to do a lot of new dungeons and a lot of awesome looks. There’s going to be six dungeons specifically on Pandaria that you’ll be able to fight in. We also have something coming back that we found out was very popular with Cataclysm.

A few updates of classic favorites. So we picked a couple: Scholomance, and what’s cool about it is that it’s got a new layout and it will have bosses that are re-worked with all new abilities.

It will be a little bit easier to navigate and it will feel really cool and fresh. We’re going to talk a ton about it the dungeon panel later today.

The other one is The Scarlet Monastery. The Scarlet Monastery as you know it has four wings, but some of these wings only has one boss (aka the Cathedral), and then we have another wing that has a ton of bosses, so we wanted to make it a little more even, so we’re going to redo the Scarlet Monastery Completely and re-introduce them as two separate unique dungeons with their own bosses.

We got a few screenshots of a couple of the new dungeons. This is the Stormstout Brewery here.

You are going to be helping Chen Stormstout recapture this brewery for his family heritage.

This is a look at the Shado-Pan Monastery. It’s a really awesome outdoor dungeon.

And this is the Temple of the Jade Serpent which is in the first zone in the Jade Forest.

It’s another dungeon that goes indoor and outdoor. We’re trying to get a whole different vibe with players going both indoor and outdoor at different times.

Raids Sneak Peek

Not to be left out, we’re obviously going to be introducing three new epic raids. The races we are looking to feature in these raids are the Mogu and the Mantid.

We’ve talked it about earlier, it will be two of our killer enemy races that definitely fit well into the whole raid vibe as part having creatures that you’d want to kill.

As you know, were introducing the new raid finder in patch 4.3 for the Dragon Soul raid. In Mists of Pandaria, the raid finder will be available for all raids right from day one, so all the raids will have essentially three difficulty levels: raid finder, normal and heroic — right off the bat.

The Group finder will give the other people a chance to get into raiding with content that really fits for them, and like Tom Chilton mentioned earlier, we’re looking to bring back world raid bosses.

I think the big thing here is that obviously there were problems with them originally, but we’ve figured out solutions to those problems.

The fact that they drop very specific pieces of gear that players need. We’ve got solutions to those problems so why not bring them back. They were something players really liked, so it’s something that we really want to do here for Mists of Pandaria.

Like I said, we’ll have a lot more of info on this in the Raid and Dungeons Panel today.

So questing. What’s going on with questing in the game? A couple of different things. One thing is we want to focus on more max level content. It’s something that we saw with Cataclysm that people burned right through the content very quickly, and we saw that they really want more content to do at max level, so it’s something we want to focus here.

We still obviously want a strong leveling experience along the way but we want to make sure when you get there, you have a lot of stuff to do, and stuff that can give you valor points that you can do at that level.

Things like the molten front — from patch 4.2. We want to do things like that right from the beginning so that players have choices when they hit level 90. So we were talking about having multiple hubs for that kind of stuff all over the world. Those will play in right into the factions, as well, but give players different things to do at max level and not just necessarily the same options that they’ve always had historically.

Another thing that goes along with that is maybe giving some incentives to dungeon players for doing outdoor, daily kind of stuff.

If you did five daily quests, you would get a buff. If happen to go into a dungeon with that buff, you might get a chance to roll on a piece of loot that only shows up to the players that have that buff. So maybe you went out and did some dailies first, and then go into the dungeon — and it helps to motivate some players there from both sides.

Like I was talking a little bit earlier about the Valley of Four Winds, we’re really looking to make the questing feel less linear.

Not the fact that they’re always going to feel completely different, but the fact that we give you some choices so that when you come back, and you go through a zone, you can do it in a little bit of a different level.

Same thing with the max level. We mentioned this earlier. It’s something that feels better to not have flying mounts. To keep people on their ground mounts, we can introduce other different type of quest content that really fits, and we don’t have to worry so much about people flying up in the air, and landing on the boss mob, and kill it right away without clearing anything along the way.

It doesn’t really have that good vibe to it. You didn’t really did it. You kind of cheated a little bit, and flew in. So by keeping people on the ground, it’ll really feel better.

Finally, faction Improvements. Factions are something we’ve had in the game for a long time, and we’ve done a number of different things with them, and here we’re looking to shake it up again with offering players more ways to earn the items they want.

If you look right now, we ended Cataclysm, we had Tol Barad, and we had a number of great items, but it was like kind of your only option of a place to go.

We want to have more options for players to go, but still be able to use all these options towards getting the gear they want.

So we’re looking at having groups of factions, and you can do any quest within these factions that you want, but they all lead toward that awesome flying mount reward. That one thing you really want to get. You don’t feel like you have to grind so much. We want factions to be fun. We don’t want them to feel grindy, and that’s something we’re really going to be focusing on here.

PvP Battlegrounds

Do we have a lot of PvP’ers here? So we were talking about making some PvP Battlegrounds. We don’t know exactly which of all these battlegrounds we are going to do, but these are all ideas we are working on.

We figured out this is Blizzcon, so we wanted you guys to think about and tell us about a few of them.

So we have different types of battlegrounds here with different types of game styles. You know, we obviously have CTF (Capture The Flag), King of the Hill type of game, so we’re looking at making different types of battlegrounds here.

Another thing is we are looking out to make new Arenas. Right now we have the Tol’vir Proving Grounds, and this is located up in Uldum. We have some screenshots to show you in a little bit.

Stranglethorn Diamond Mine

First, let’s talk about the Stranglethorn Diamond Mine.

The concept behind this is that the goblin mine below northern Stranglethorn — Alliance and Horde are fighting over it to get all these minerals out of it.

We are looking at doing a Payload style gameplay. So essentially, you have these mine carts to escort to a depot. When it hits the depot, you get points.

We’re looking at multiple tracks, within the actual mine itself, and the first team to escort enough carts through the depot with points would win, but you still are buried with a lot of options every time you play.

You could get a mine cart and send it on a different track each time, and we’re also talking about having you be able to, in the middle of the game, send the car off to a different track, and the track could split, and the player can sit there and decide which way he wants it to go.

So it’s a unique kind of style of gameplay, something that we feels is really pretty cool with what is PvP.

So this is a look at a map of how that could work.

There in the center of this diamond mine would be where the cart starts and then there is a couple of different tracks that lead all around the cave.

And you can see some of the tracks split in different directions. There are some bridges there, so when a track goes across the bridge you can knock guys off the bridge.

There’s all kinds of opportunities to do cool things here. Here’s a concept art. We’ve gotten a little bit of progress on to the point where we have some playable prototypes.

The Valley of Power

Next up, this one we’re talking about. It’s called the Valley of Power. This would be about getting an ancient Mogu artifact and capturing that artifact — the Alliance and the Horde both want it — because it offers power for the war on the other side.

The way the gameplay will works is: you have an object and you pick up the object, and the longer you hold it your team earns points.

Depending on where you stand in the area of the actual map, you could earn more or less points. So if run off in the corner and hide, you’ll earn less points.

If you stay out in the middle where it’s wide opened, you earn more points. The ball itself is doing damage to you so the longer you hold it, you’re taking more and more damage — so you need healers with you to keep you alive, but it’s really a fun style of gameplay and something we think, again, will fit really, really well with WoW.

So here’s a look at how something like this could work. We’ll have some start areas on the two sides of the ledge going all the way around, and then some stairs that lead to a some kind of recessed area, and the orb is right there in the center. So you start and run right for it. We’ve got a couple simple pillars for line of sight, but really a simple map. For something like this, the gameplay is all about the combat.

You don’t necessarily need a lot of line of sight blockers or things in the map to make it fun.

Here’s what I was talking about with the point values. You see the farther away you are, the less points you’ll earn. The more you are closer to the middle, the more you’ll get.

Here’s a concept art where this could fit into the world.

Tol’vir Proving Grounds

We haven’t done an arena in a long time, so we thought — you know — maybe it’s time to add a new arena in.

A lot of players are happy with the arenas that we have now, so we’ve been tentative to add a new one, but this really felt like a cool opportunity to use a really neat piece of art and do an arena that could be simple, and that players would really like, so we based it off of Nagrand Arena, one of our most popular arenas.

It’s got a great sense of place in the world because you feel like it could be in Uldum, when you go there you’ll know exactly that it fits.

So here’s a look at it from the top down. A simple square with four line of sight blockers, and they’re on angles a little bit, but the layout in general is very similar.

Here’s a look at it from the side to see how it can fit in Uldum.

So we have one other new feature we’re talking about adding in. And Greg Street (Ghostcrawler) will tell you about it.

Achievements

Pretty much all we can say about it is we’ll take some achievements, and let them be shared across the characters, and especially the ones that are more difficult to get, and this gives us a possibility to introduce new types of achievements.

So for example, we could say, get every profession to max level. That would be really cruel to do for one character, but across your other alt characters, it would be kind of fun to look for that.

Major Class Changes

Greg Street (Ghostcrawler): Let’s talk a little bit about some class changes coming up. I think most of these are pretty exciting.

Resilience

First one is a change we’re going to try for resilience. We like the way resilience works. We like that when you’re hardcore at the very competitive levels getting more resilient can make a big difference, and we know it gives you a goal to work for. Our concern is that if a big barrier of entry into Battlegrounds or Arena, there used to be a day when you could come in with your PvE gear and gradually work up to better PvP gear.

Players have told us now they feel like they can’t compete in PvP at all because it’s such a big step up. So the way we’re going to try to do this is to treat resilience as a base stat, which means you get a little bit every time you level up, and as you get PvP gear, you get up to the kind of resilience you have now.

We don’t want PvE gear to be the best gear for PvP, but we want it to be something you can use and viceversa.

A few things I’m going to talk about, the future of range weapons, Warlock and Druids. I can’t talk about everyone — but we still love you.

Ranged Weapons

First, let’s talk about Hunter minimum range. I’m going to milk this for a second. Oooo … it’s gone.

(cheers and applause)

Once you decide to make this change, then we’re left with what does a Hunter do with their melee weapon. It’s just a staff stick. So Hunters don’t need melee weapons anymore.

Just get your range weapon, and you’re good to go, and the funniest thing about this is we went really quick from everything is a hunter weapon to nothing is a hunter weapon.

And it led to a few more questions that I will share real quick. We don’t think we need a range slot for all the other characters.

We think the relics slot is one of the least interesting pieces of gear we can introduce. It has some stats on it, but we don’t drop them in dungeons, you get a new one every tier, and you’re good to go, and there’s not a lot of gameplay there, and honestly we don’t think we’ll really miss it.

The Rogue and Warrior can throw their melee weapon when they need to do range attacks. This is literally the gun, bow and crossbow weapon slot — all hunter weapons going across the bar, and the other classes don’t ever want them.

Finally, we know some of you casters really want to be Harry Potter. So rather than cutting the Wand completely, we’ll make it a main weapon like you have your caster dagger, and your spell sword.

Sometimes you can get a wand and it will have stats like the other items you can use on your main hand.

Warlock

Warlocks. Gone.

I’m kidding. I had to show some love. Warlocks are one of these classes we’re taking a hard look at with the new talent system, because we thought once some of those kind of signature abilities are available to any warlock, you’re really left with like a bunch of guys that are kind of using similar spells, and doing similar things — so we really thought there was a lot of room to kinda push Affliction, Demonology and Destruction away from each other a little bit. So the way we are going to try this is — we have a unique resource for every spec.

We are gonna keep Soul Shards for Affliction. We like the improvements made for Soul Shards in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and we totally agree with the feedback, but they’re not quite interesting enough. We have some cool ideas for them. The Soul Shards will be something affliction uses. You get to pick Affliction at level 10, you get Soul Shards. You get Destruction or Demonology, then you’ll get something different.

Demonology has a new resource called demonic fury — you build up demonic fury by doing stuff. When you hit max demonic fury, then you metamorphosis.

So rather than being a cooldown, you can try to build it up constantly and be in demon form a little more often, and we’ll do a new cooler abilities you get to have in demon form, and we think this will make the prospectus play very differently and we have a new resource for Destruction.

Destruction has always been a little tricky to design because it kind of feels like — hey, I’m a warlock that thinks is a mage.

(crowd laughter)

We think that’s not rich enough for Destruction. We feel that Destro can stand to have a little more excitement going on.

What Infernal Embers are — you can imagine a destro warlock that keeps casting fire spells slowly like gets hotter and hotter and eventually catches on fire.

When you get to this fire space, then your conflags do like really crazy damage. The problem if ever having those big destruction nukes be too powerful is the burst issues we have, but you have to build up to get to that point so we think we can handle throwing some really massive conflags out there.

This is the kind of thing, again, you can build it up quickly, hit your big nuke, then build it up again. We think it will be a lot more fun overall to play that spec — and then if you wish to switch to Affliction or Demonology it will feel pretty different.

Shaman

We think this is a good mechanic, but we agree it’s not fun like constantly dropping just to do competitive DPS or healing and be the buff bitch for everyone else in the group.

We’ll keep the concept of buffs, but it will be something that you can just have. We want it all to be about utility, and that means we have to fill in the design space a little bit with some new totems.

We have an Earthgrab Totem that does a big root around it, and we have the crazy Repulsion Totem to keep him from getting to close to the Shaman, or wherever he put the totem; and then we have the Bulwark Totem which puts a shield on the Shaman and helps him to take a little bit less damage.

When we talk about the Shaman talent tree here, you see how some of these totems fit in the talent tree. Some are poor and some are talents you have to choose to the exclusion of others.

Druids

This is a pretty short section, but it shows what we can do with this new spec and talent system we have. The druids always felt like they had four specs. So now they do.

(crowd cheers)

We’re adding a new one called “Guardian”, and this is the bear specific spec. You’ll see they’re trying to go after the player that wants to shift around to lots of different forms.

There will be a lot of overlap, but overall if you want to be the tank for your group, probably you would want to pick the Guardian spec, and you can still go cat or bear form. You’re not losing that ability.

All Classes

Just because I didn’t mention your class, so you know, that doesn’t mean we’re not doing something for you in Mists of Pandaria. We’ve done a massive spell book clean up, and gotten rid of some junk.

We have tried to find roles for some of those spells that actually didn’t do anything, want to clean up action bars a little bit, but not removing the fun things, but we’re kind of removing the spells that you didn’t really use often.

Rotations are improved.

You now automatically learn spells on the field, you don’t have to go back to visit the trainer. Trainers will still be there for things such as respec.

Lots of new spells with a lot of new talent trees. A few new core spells that make sense. Getting in a new level 87 spell and level 90 you get your final talent point, but we might get you a new spell at 87.

And overall, we really want talent trees to be fun. They shouldn’t be a chore. They shouldn’t be the thing you’re looking up on the internet to find your cookie-cutter build. Something you can obssess over and have a lot of fun with, and I think that wraps it up.

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List of BlizzCon 2011 Goodie Bag Items on eBay

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in Blizzard Products News, BlizzCon 2011, Diablo 3 News, StarCraft 2 News, World of Warcraft News

BlizzCon 2011 is now gone, and players from all around the world have begun to fly back home. The lucky ones to have already arrived home, have begun to put their awesome BlizzCon 2011 Goodie Bags up for sale on eBay, as well as other individual items such as the Tyrael statue, and in-game vanity pet code card as a way to somewhat reimburse themselves the travel and accomodation costs. It’s become almost a yearly ritual.

Check out the links and try out your luck at getting an exclusive BlizzCon item only 26,000 souls around the world were able to take home.

Items on eBay

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BlizzCon 2011: Pet Battle System in Mists of Pandaria

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria panel, Cory Stockton introduced one of the coolest features to be released in the upcoming expansion: The Pet Battle System.

Here’s a transcript of the panel:

Pet Battle System

Cory Stockton: Pretty much everyone who plays World of Warcraft probably has a vanity pet. I don’t think everyone necessarily has all the collections, or the achievements but it’s definitely something everyone knows what it is and it’s a feature we felt like we could expand upon and offer some new gameplay.

What exactly are we doing here? Essentially you’ll be able to collect, level, and fight with your pet.

It’s accessible to everyone. We didn’t want it to be a feature that was locked to the max level that only a few people would get access to. We wanted it to be something that everyone could do so you can start at a low level and collect pets, level them up and build your team.

Another thing, if it’s going to work with almost every pet in the game right now, as well as a ton of new pets that we’re going to add for the system for you to collect. So for all you people that already have … say you have 100 pets, most likely almost all of those pets will work with the system right when you get it. Grant it, you’ll have to level them on your own, but they’ll still be able to work with the Pet Battle System.

There’s going to be a lot of customization. You’ll be able to name your pets, give them individual abilities. As far as collection goes, how does that work? Like I said, It will work with your existing pets so a lot of people will start the system and have a pet to start with and get it going. There’s another type of pet you’ll be able to get that we’re introducing new for Mists of Pandaria.

This is going to be called a Wild pet. The way wild pets work is you find them out in the world. When you find them you’re going to be able to engage in battle with them, and fight with them using the pet you already have, and then you’ll be able to get the wild pet and add it to your collection.

Now what’s cool about these wild pets is that they have random varying stats. You’re not necessarily going just go out and be able to get all the wild pets you want, within that first week because they’re going to have varying stats.

You might want a pet that’s good as, maybe, tanking or one with a crowd control ability. You’ll want to collect the pets until you have the one that has the right set of stats — then you can start leveling it up.

The other thing that feels special is that they have unique spawning abilities. Certain wild pets you might only find during a certain season — like winter. Certain pets you might only find when it’s raining, for example, certain pets might only spawn during the day or night so there could be a pet that only sets up during the spring, while it’s raining, in a wind forest at night.

They’re not all like that, obviously but we definitely want to mix it up so people have a lot of pets to collect over a long period of time. We don’t want you to go out right away and get them all we want it to be a system that lasts.

Now, how are you going to find these pets? We are going to change the pet database we have got now, and introduce something called the “Pet Journal”.

Collect

What the Pet Journal does, is, it let’s you manage all your existing pets you have, as well as the teams and the battling and everything that goes along with the new system. We’ve got a few shots that we’ll show you that give you more of a rundown about how the journal works.

The other thing along with this, most pets will become tradeable. So what this means is you’re going to be able to say, get the Wolpertinger from the Brewfest seasonal world event and then be able to take it and say — level it up to a certain level, maybe change some abilities and then you can take the pet and throw it on the auction house and someone else could get it, and based on the time and amount of work you put into it, it will sell for what people think it’s worth so you want the system to fell like you cannot only trade pets not only in the auction house but with your buddies and friends, your guildies, and other players.

This is a huge one. We’re really working hard to have this. It’s to have Account-wide pets. Meaning, obviously, if you have a set of pets one one character you log in another character, you are able to use the same pets. If you have a pet up to level 14 and you log in another character, that pet is still 14. You don’t have to do it multiple times for all the pets.

So here’s a look at the pet journal. Just like the mock-up, these are all mock-up UI made by our UI team. You have your list of pets. You can search and filter through to find the ones you want and over on the right, you can see the pet’s stats and then at the bottom you can see the abilities that they’ve unlocked.

We’re looking at unlocking six abilities over 25 levels, and then on the right there’s an interesting spot called location.

If you click that, you can find out where you can get this pet in the world. So, instead of having to alt-tab out of the game, go to the web, and go to a database site to find out where to find this guy, where do I get him — similar to what we did with the Dungeon Journal where you could see all the items, what boss drop them — you’ll be able to find out where to get all your pets straight off the Pet Journal from within the game.

So now you’ve collected some pets. You’ve got a good amount of them, you managed them, and you’ve got to level them.

Level

How do you do it? Fight with other pets. When you win battles, you earn experience, and experience levels up your pet. As you level, you’re going to learn new abilities that you can then use in battle. Now you’re also going to have slots to place these abilities in.

Every pet can use three abilities in battle at one time, so a pet’s going to learn six and you get to choose any three of those and place them on your pet to use in the battle.

I have a mock-up so you can see how it looks. Every time you level, you earn stats, as well, so the entire level of your pet, obviously, he’ll get stronger as it’s growing.

You’re going to be able to level multiple pets because you’re going to want to build a team. You don’t want to take one pet and get him all the way up. You might want to take a couple and level them all up together so you can have a group of pets that are at similar level.

So here’s a look at the team interface. This is also within the journal. This is a different tab. This guy has two pets on his team and you can see the three slots for abilities where he dragged an ability in. Those are the abilities that when this pet goes to battle that’s what shows up on the bar and you can press that ability to use it.

Over on the left these are pets and their level and on the right, you drag them over and that’s how you build a team.

Battle

Now, how does the fighting work? You have a pet. You have leveled him up and you want to fight against someone and use all this stuff you’ve been earning so you can fight in PvE in the world against the wild pets, but you can also fight friends, and possibly enemies, using the PvP Battle as well. One thing that’s different is it’s going to be turn-based combat.

So we want to slow things down a little bit from WoW combat. WoW combat is super fast. People sometimes die in like 15-20 seconds, right away. So we wanted to introduce something different. Slow it down. Something that’s more of a thinking game.

So mechanic-wise, it’s not going to be something that is going to move so quickly, you won’t necessarily have to miss it, or know what happened, so we wanted to get something that felt different so it could be just people that want to focus on that could have a different piece of content to focus on, like we said earlier, we want content for everyone and have a feature that a lot of different people can play, not just something for a small segment of the population.

You are going to fight with a team of three, and we’re going to allow you to queue. You can go up against another group and we’ll look at the level of their pet to make sure we put you against other pets in the same range, so hopefully you’ve a fight that feels is about a level that you can handle.

So here’s a look. This is just a mock up. One thing that’s important, we want to keep the wow characters in the scene, in the fight. They are important. They are who are collecting the pets. They’re the masters of the whole system. We want to have the WoW characters actually be a part of it. When your pet has an ability, you might do something that makes sense going along with that ability that you use. You can see the bar at the bottom has the ability to be casting, and then you can see your other pets underneath the portraits there.

This is just a mock-up like we said, but something we could envision it looking like.

Customize

Customization like naming your pets is a big thing. You can have a pet that you’ve had for a really long time and finally you can give it a name, and see that name in battle.

We’re also talking about having items. So imagine the idea that you can have an item slot on the pet, you can equip an item. Maybe you could even put gems in that item so that you can modify the stats on the pet as well, so you can pull in some of profession systems.

You can do individual builds like we showed you earlier with abilities so you can take a certain pet and change his abilities and change the slots out, so your team will feel different than other teams around you, and finally, we got this concept of masters, you’re going to be able to — we wanted to have people into the system feel like they could travel around the world and have a reason to go to other places so you’re going to other places. So you’re going to be able to go to Tanaris, like say, there’s a goblin here and it’s really great with training mechanical pets.

So you can go there and fight him, and if you can beat him, he’ll grant you what we call a “master ability”, and you can use that ability on any of your pets to fight in battle.

So here’s a look of how this could work. He has three abilities at the top and then over on the right we see the map and that shows you where to go to fight the master and the ability that you could get.

So it adds a little bit more depth and customization into the system as a whole.

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BlizzCon 2011: Scenarios, PvE Battlegrounds & Challenge Mode Dungeons

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria, WoW Game Director Tom Chilton discussed the new features: PvE Scenarios, PvE Battlegrounds and Challenge Mode Dungeons.

Here is the transcript of the Scenarios Panel.

Scenarios

Tom Chilton: Scenarios are about re-using parts of the world that we already created in interesting new ways. I’ll go over one example which is the Defense of Goldshire.

It also gives us the ability to do some interesting new types of PvE gameplay that we’ve never done before.

One way to characterize that potentially would be to label them as PvE Battlegrounds.

These are short instances for a few players. The amount of players will vary on what type of scenario it is. A Scenario could be for three-players for example, and these are all designed for players that are playing their characters in similar ways as when they are questing.

They aren’t their typical type of setups for that you would for a dungeon. It’s a staged experience or at least in many cases you’ll have different phases of the scenario you go through, and you’re trying to accomplish some greater goal.

Here’s one example. These are purely theoretical examples. This isn’t an actual scenario. We’re in the process of creating the Defense of Goldshire.

Imagine for a moment a scenario we called the Defense of Goldshire, and you and a couple of buddies are in there, and your job is to clear out a bunch of Kobolds, and find and return some children to town; and then kill Goldtooth.

This would be the type of scenario we’d use in an introductory scenario. Maybe we first introduced this at level ten for players leveling up for the first time, or if you never got a chance to do it, or you just kind of wanted to go back and do it again, you would be able to do that.

Of course, with our philosophy of being able to do whatever it is you want to do to progress your character you still be able to get Valor points out of doing it at level 90.

So here we are imagining these are all fake screenshots. By the way, big Goldtooth there.

PvE Battlegrounds

Another idea we have is called PvE Battlegrounds, these are things we haven’t really done before. We’d like to experiment with that.

Imagine this is the Battle of Grizzly Gulch. Imagine this is a defense of the ancients style, except there are no enemy players on the other side. A lot of players out there that would love to do battleground type of content or kind of really nervous, or freak out against other players, or they don’t like that kind of thing so this give us the ability to do the similar types of mechanics in a PvE setting and that allows us to do slightly different things than we’d normally be able to do in PvP.

So imagine you and a couple of buddies are in charge of going down the lanes of this PvE Battleground and you have slay enough soldiers to get your characters powered up and then destroy their six towers in the barracks, and out comes the boss and you have to apply the beatdown to General Drake.

Here’s a map we have been working on for a little bit. It’s an extension of a Defense of the Ancients-style battleground that we’ve been working on. This scenario would play out in an environment like this.

These scenarios have a wide variety of applications and they’ll signal you to do new things that we haven’t done before with dungeons.

Another important point here isn’t player collision. These are designed to be in PvE, and one other way to look at these is to think of group quests in outdoor areas using a Dungeon finder. Queue and go. No role requirements.

It implies automatically, very short queues. Very quick experiences. One of many options to earn Valor Points to progress your character.

Challenge Mode Dungeons

Hopefully these will excite some of you. I don’t know how many of you guys were back around way back in the day when we had this 45-minute Stratholme Baron Run. That was pretty exciting, and I’ve always really wanted for us to be able to do that sort of thing again and really institutionalize it in a way that adds a whole new type of gameplay, grant it, there were some not-good elements like if it was blocking your progression to getting to your Tier 5. That was a downer, but that won’t happen here.

What are Challenge-Mode Dungeons? These are the experiences you guys go through already but what if we had time-trial versions of the dungeons — so Challenge-Modes are that.

When you set yourself in Challenge-Mode and you group up with your buddies the purpose of doing this is going to complete the dungeon in a specified amount of time and so that implies a whole different level of coordination and teamwork that you don’t necessarily get when you’re sort of plowing through because you’re either new or try to just get the loot out of it.

You’ll rip through there as fast as you can to win medals: Bronze, Silver and Gold. It rewards you with sweet looking gear with no stats which you can use to transmogrify your current gear, plus valor points.

We’re going to create an entire tier of gear that has unique and special look that you’ll be able to get exclusively by doing challenge-modes so if you do the challenge mode and you rip through there and get the gold medal and all the different dungeons, you can earn yourself an entire set of gear to show off to your friends about what a bad ass you are for being able to clear the dungeons as quickly a you can.

A big part of this feature is bragging rights and leaderboards. It feels like competitive PvE in a sense. When you pop open your character’s sheet you can see your best times for any given dungeon, what the rewards for the different challenge modes are if you complete them in gold, silver or bronze times, and you can compare yourself to other people on your realm. See what are the top times for people on your realm.

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BlizzCon 2011: Pandaren Race Features

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria, Wow Lead Systems Designer Greg Street — known as Ghostcrawler — led the discussion about the Pandaren Race Features.

Pandaren Classes

Ghostcrawler: We have a new race: The Pandaren. One of our early concepts here.

The hair and facial style options and the female pandaren are not available yet when you go play here at BlizzCon. Those are still in development. So far they’ll look like this in this build.

The playable Pandaren race is neutral, and at level 10 you’ll kinda choose which faction to belong to: Horde or Alliance.

These are Pandaren Classes: Hunter, Mage, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior.

We can talk a lot about the Monk, but you can see we have a lot of other classes to choose from. Some of these we saw didn’t make as much sense. There was a lot of discussion among developers about which classes fit the Pandaren. For example, does a druid bear turn into a bear? (crowd laughter)

Pandaren races are embedded into those seven stones and will never change. There won’t be a Pandaren Death Knight, Druid, Paladin nor Warlock.

Racials

These I’m sure are set in stone and will never ever change.

  • Epicurean: You get increase stat benefits from food by 100%.

They also like to cook. In fact we are thinking about a whole lot of interesting things with cooking because that’s such a key element to the Pandaren culture.

    <
  • strong>Gourmand: Cooking skill increased by 15.

Inner Peace feels like a so much of a powerful racial, and probably isn’t, but that’s one we’d want in a racial. (Crowd breaks into laughter).

  • Inner Peace: Your rested experience bonus lasts twice as long.

(Crowd breaks into laughter again seeing the Bouncy Racial)

  • Bouncy: You take 50% less falling damage.

And finally, we had to do an active racial, and this is it. Little bit of a crowd control.

  • Quaking Palm: You touch a secret pressure point on an enemy target, putting it to sleep for 3 sec.

Pandaren Weapons

Here are some of the awesome weapons that the artists have put together for the Pandaren starting zone. You’ll see a lot of stuff like this.

We really want it to feel like you aren’t in Azeroth. You’re in this new place, an entirely different culture.

New Class: Monk

We have a Monk. We’re going to start with some concept art. They have really excellent animations, and we’ll show you some of those in a second here.

If you ever wanted to play a Drunkenmaster, this is your chance.

There are three Monk specs:

  • Brewmaster – Tank
  • Mistweaver – Healer
  • Windwalker – Melee DPS

What we want to do with the Pandaren Monk healer is to try to have a healer that can stand up in melee.

We don’t expect Monk healers to be doing tons and tons of damage, but we wanted to experiment with a different type of healing style. Maybe players that are burned-out on healing to try something different here. Some can probably guess what the last one is? Punch someone in the face (he refers to Windwalker: melee DPS).

We do have this epic start zone so we want our players to experience this. With the Death Knight we thought the story made sense if you were brought back by the Lich King, here you’re starting out on the turtle and will eventually make it to Pandaria, so you start at the first level.

Very martial arts-based, but we’re really trying to embrace this, even like I said, the healer and the tank will do a lot of Kung-Fu things, and our animation team really delivered on this on a crazy level, there are a lot of new unique animations for the Monk.

The tank, healer and melee DPS monk all have different stances. They stand in so even their basic idle animations look different too.

You’ll see all their weapon animation is unique, and this for the non-Pandaren races too. Ohh! You thought that it was only Monks and Pandaria only?

Races that can choose a Monk Class

  • Draenei
  • Dwarf
  • Gnome
  • Human
  • Night Elf
  • Pandaren
  • Blood Elf
  • Orc
  • Tauren
  • Troll
  • Undead

The Worgen and the Goblin are excluded from choosing a Monk class.

Pandaria has been rediscovered almost like a stay-at-home types. There are adventurous ones and they are spreading around the Eastern Kingdoms, and Kalimdor — and starting to train some of the other races in the secret art of Monkery or whatever you call it. I think Tom Chilton said, if we don’t do no Monks, Monks aren’t worth doing. I also can’t wait to see a Tauren doing the Monk roll ability.

Monk Equipment

Monks hit a lot with hands and feet. We wanted to deliver on that fantasy of punching and kicking the krap out of those little bunny guys (the Verming), but we still want them to have weapons.

We want to see your weapons as you use them — so you can imagine a typical fight — you build up Shi with your hand and feet, and then you pull out your staff or your other weapon for some kind of finisher (finishing move).

We’ve made a lot of Staves and Fist Weapons. These are the very signature for the monk, and we think it will allow us to put more fist weapons in the game.

They don’t have enough users yet, so expect to see a lot more. They use One-Handed Axes, Maces and Swords. We are trying to figure out the difference between the dual-wielding and the two-handed. We might let anyone do anything. Dual-wield might be DPS. That’s the thing we’re looking at.

That’s the sort of thing we will need to iterate some. I’m sure you guys will let us know the right way to do it, and healers use off-hands. We don’t want Monks using shields.

Monk Armor Type

They are a leather armor class, sorta like the druids, agility for monk tank and dps, and intellect for the monk healer.

Monk Resources

One of the fun things about making a new class is the new resource system. We want to make them kinda different and capitalize with what we already know works, and try to mix it up a little bit.

The monks have an energy-like resource and it slowly regenerates and you use this primarily for two attacks: your jab which is primarily an energy builder, and then the roll attack which you saw in the opening trailer where the monk is running along. A lot of fun if you go check it out in all the computers around the corner there.

Jab generates light and dark force which you then use for anything else. You have some finisher moves which use light force, and some finisher moves that use the dark force.

We have talk about that. It’s controversial, but it’s been a lot of fun. We wanted to deliver on this Street Fighter-feel that you are punching a lot, and we thought the auto-attack would get in the way of that. When you punch a button you see an animation.

We wanted it to be visceral. We thought it feels pretty good, but try it out and let us know.

This is the current Monk Resource Bar. Again, if you were with us with the Death Knight, we had to iterate with it a lot, but you can see for the monk we have four Light force balls and four Dark force balls on the other side.

You fill those and consume them to do finishers. At the moment, in the play test area around there, this bar is down in the middle of your screen, something we haven’t done before. Something players have asked us a lot, so we’ll try it. Again, let us know how it works.

This is what a Monk animation should actually look like when you are in combat.

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BlizzCon 2011: Creatures of Pandaria

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria panel, WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton introduced the discussion about the Creatures of Pandaria.

Creatures of Pandaria – Transcript

Cory Stockton: Next up, let’s talk a little bit about what we are going to be killing here. It’s not all going to be a happy land. You got to have stuff to kill.

First off the race of fish-like creatures: The Jinyu. They kind of look as the wisemen of Pandaria. They can stick their staff in the river and hear what the land is saying. It’s literally talking to them.

You’re going to see them across a wide number of zones. They will play into your story the whole way through. Here’s a concept piece of how they look like.

Next up we’ve got the Hozu. The Hozu are a monkey-like race. They stand up on their behind-legs. They are known to be really mischievous. You’ll see them in dungeons as well as the zones outside. Here’s a concept art of how they look like.

Next up is the Verming. The Verming are a take on … we really wanted to make a new Kobold. It’s a classic creature. Whenever you see them you want to take them out. You can fight them in droves.

They aren’t too strong, so you can fight a bunch of these guys at one time. They are a bit of a nuisance. Here’s a look at the these guys (crowd breaks into laughter).

We saw a concept art, and we were like ‘we have to build that. Right now! And he needs this whatever this crazy knife-fork weapon thing going on.”

But the Pandaren have a lot of farmland, and these are the guys that are going to kinda like — these kind of guys have dug tunnels under the farmland and they’re stuck in the vegetables down underneath into their tunnels from below so that’s part of the storyline, the stuff you’re going to get with these guys.

Next up we have one of our killer races: The Mantid. We’re going to have whole raids based around them, dungeons. They really play a big role. The kind of over-arcing story. They are an insect race that’s been on the island for a long time, for milennia.

They’ve laid next to the Pandaren the whole time but have been kind of separated from the rest of the continent by a giant wall.

They’re starting to go a little crazy and they’re coming through the wall in places. You’ve to end up dealing with that.

Here’s a look at them. Now different than our other insect races that we’ve had before, like the silithid. These are able to dress themselves, they have their own houses. They have looks. They’re more of a creature that you can expect to be intelligent and use weapons. We really wanted to play up a different aspect.

Next up we have the Mogu. The Mogu are another ancient race. The Mogu are actually the original race in the land of Pandaria. They were the first race before the Pandaren overthrew them ten thousand years ago, and took the island for themselves. And what’s happening now is — the Mogu want it back so that plays another part of this big storyline. In raids you’ll see them in dungeons. We really wanted to have a lot of villains for players to fight. Like Chris Metzen mentioned, we don’t necessarily always have to have one big bad guy that’s causing all the badness in the expansion.

We kind of wanted to spread it out and have a number of things that players are dealing with. Here’s a look at these guys. You can se they’re kind of big and hulky.

And finally, we’ve got the Sha. The Sha is really unique. What it is, it is the manifestation of negative energy on Pandaria. If you imagine whenever anything bad — someone gets killed, a fight happens — you know something like that on an island — any sort of battle, especially what’s happening with the Alliance and the Horde once they get here, releases Sha energy into the land.

It’s kind of a shadow form creature, and you are going to see them all over the place. Here’s a look of how we think these guys can feel. Super aggressive.

Something you definitely want to take out. You can fight this guy at the raid box for sure. That’s a quick look at some of what you can expect from the creatures of Pandaria.

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BlizzCon 2011: Continent of Pandaria Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

Here’s a transcript of the Continent of Pandaria Panel by WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton.

Cory Stockton: You have heard what World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is, but now we want to tell you what you’re going to be; and what is this place.

It is going to be five new zones, level of zones, for continent itself. Another thing that we’re changing here is the fact that we’re going back to a single unified continent. If you remember back to Burning Crusade, we had one single continent with all the zones together. With Cataclysm, we changed that up and our zones were in different places. We kind of felt like that didn’t make it feel like one unified place.

Instead, it didn’t have the same vibe. With Pandaria, we’ll go back all the zones that make one unified place. We’ve clearly got an asian influence on the landscapes and environments and everything you’re seeing here.

It’s been super cool just to see the artists at Blizzard take that and turn it really into a unique World of Warcraft style. You can take that and kind of make it look specifically chinese or asian or one specific look but we really put that World of Warcraft look on it so when people see it they instantly think wow.

We’re going to do something we really haven’t done since Burning Crusade, we are going to add an auction house in the new continent. So actually on Pandaria you will have an auction house that you’ll have access to — now, granted, you are still going to need to go to Stormwind or to Orgrimmar for certain things that you need to do, but we wanted to give players that convenience if you are at the new continent and you like playing there, you should be able to stay there in Pandaria, you shouldn’t necessarily have to always go back and forth actually.

Another thing we’ll be changing is that we aren’t going to allow flying until max level. It’s great to see that response, because that’s really how we feel about it, but for us, every time you kill a mob, you fly down, kill it, mount up and fly up in the air, fly down, dismount, kill a mob again, mount up and again and again.

You know, even if it feels convenient, and fast in the long run we just don’t really feel it gives the best quest experience that you could have. Going back to this we really feel like we’re going to get a better core quest experience.

Here’s a look at the continent of Pandaria, as a whole. Anyone who’s been to Blizzcon before know this is how we start out. Our design process. We lay out everything in 2D.

We have placed dungeons across all the different zones. I’ll talk about the Jade Forest, our intro start zone, then the belly of the Four Winds there on the south side.

One thing that’s cool is we’ve really been working on this for a while. We’ve got a lot of stuff to show you guys. This is probably the first Blizzcon we’ll be able to show video fly-throughs of these zones that are complete and ready to see.

Here’s a little look at the scale. There’s Twilight Highlands from Cataclysm. Yes, we are delivering in five zones, but they’re really dark zones and when you add that to the fact that you’re not going to have access to a flying mount until max level, you can see there’s going to be a ton of content in these zones.

So a little bit about Pandaria. It’s been around for a long time. Thing is it’s been shrouded by mist since The Sundering. The Pandaren have been alone there all this time, undiscovered. Chris Metzen mentioned in the Opening Ceremony, the Alliance and the Horde are locked in an intense battle. That’s something that’s always been the core of World of Warcraft. We want to follow that up here.

They end up having a naval battle offshore. Ships get blown, and they wash up ashore on the Island of Pandaria.

You have finally unshrouded the mist and you are able to see the continent. Once they land here and they find it, they realize that it is a lush land. It is full of resources and all kinds of things that Garrosh can use, and that Varian can use in their war, and so they’re basically just going to destroy this land trying to get as much as they can out of it, and that’s when we come in.

We have a whole panel on Story and Lore tomorrow at 4:15pm. If you want some more info make sure to hit up that panel.

Besides the continent of Pandaria, we’ve also got a new starting zone. Anyone who rolls a new Pandaren has a new start zone to play in. What’s really crazy about this place is that it’s a turtle!

You are going to see it here in a little bit. Essentially you are playing on the back of a giant turtle.

This turtle left Pandaria 10,000 years ago, and started growing. Pandaren have always been happy in there, but a few of them have the wander lust, they want to get out and see the rest of the world.

Those pandaren who want to do that have left on the turtle. Now it is going to be similar to our past experiences. It’s going to be story focused, simple mechanics but it is going to really, really draw you into the pandaren lore, culture and history, and find out what’s really going on with them as a whole.

The Pandaren are a neutral race. You’ll start out neutral and play from level one to ten, then when you get to ten you’ll pick your faction.

It’s a one-way choice. You’ll make that choice and decide and go forward from there. We’re pretty excited about that. It’s our first chance to do it.

It should play out really well. Here’s a look at some of the concept art of the turtle. There’s a valley you start in, and you kind of work your way around. We’ve got a real cool storyline here where you try to restore some spirit to the central temple.

This is the map. This entire starting zone is playable here on the show. You’ll be able to go over, get a Pandaren and lay all the way through. That’s why we have a final map here because this whole thing is playable now at the show.

Here are some screenshots. This is that central temple you saw. This is a look at the edge of the turtle so you can see where the turtle hits the ocean there.

Obviously, Pandaren love beer, so they have lots of breweries. You’ll find these all over the place. This is a great screenshot showing the actual “You’re on the back of a turtle”. We’re not trying to fake it. This is the actual turtle you play on.

When you run up to the edge, you’ll see the head so it will feel really cool and unique. Here’s a video of some of what that looks like.

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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft Class Talent System Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Tom Chilton led the World of Warcraft Class Talent System Panel after the official announcement of the upcoming World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria expansion.

In a nutshell, basically, the current talent system will be thrown out of the window. Poof! It’s gone. The Talent System will be revamped from the ground up. We won’t see the same vertical talent system we have been used to in the past seven years.

The new talent system is horizontal. Every 15 levels you will have to choose one out of three talents. As you progress down to the next 15 levels, and so on, you are building a unique and different character than the player next to you — and while you only have those three choices per tier, you are in fact having more customization power and differentiation than you have ever had in the lifespan of World of Warcraft.

Here is a transcript of Tom Chilton’s Talent System Panel: (apologies for inaccuracies. Feel free to provide corrections)

Tom Chilton (WoW Game Director): What is World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria? Our prime objective here is we want to combine new gameplay with the most fun parts of the past.

I think it is a fair criticism that some people that have leveled up through Cataclysm are saying that there weren’t a whole lot of new things to do at the end game.

You do a lot of new stuff or reroll and go through the very much changed world but at the end game it is the same kind of stuff that you’ve been doing for years and years — hopefully, at least — so we want to make sure that we introduce some really fun new things for you guys to do to kind of keep things exciting at the end game.

So there we are: “New things to do”. That’s a core part of blending exciting things of the past with new things of the future.

Another core philosophy that we have is getting people back into the world. I dont know about you guys but I’m getting a little bit tired of seeing the inside of Stormwind all the time. Granted these are all lovely places, but that can get a lit bit old.

We want to get you back into the world at max level and experiencing the world and that means a lot of different things. Getting out there and doing stuff like in the picture here (Azurego’s outdoor raiding).

We’ve got a little shot of one of the things we plan to do is reintroduce the concept of these outdoor world raid bosses players have played, of course, where there are outdoor world people there fighting on PvP servers, that meaning people will be there trying to grief the people doing the outdoor world raid fighting.

So another core philosophy that we want to be able to do is “Do what you want to do to progress your character.

Over time, World of Warcraft has kind of blossomed with all these different things to do and we are going to add more things to do, and we’re really want the game to feel like there’s a menu of content and that you can pick and choose what kind of content you want to do and you aren’t necessarily pigeonhole-ing the content that you feel like you have to do in order to be able to progress your character.

What we’re trying to say here is that we want you to be able to progress your character whether you’re waiting, doing dungeons or daily plus. For example, that’s what that little plus is there. You’re getting power points out of it. That way you can actually get valor points (30 VP via quests) and progress your character even if you just want to go out there and smash, it would be faster if you want to do raids, of course, but you’ll still be able to make progress all the time.

Next, we really want you to be able to geek out with more interesting character builds than ever before.

I was there back in 2004 when we created the talent system — in fact that was kinda my job to create the talent system that you guys have experienced over the last many, many years. We have this vision. Back then it was in the friends and family alpha that we were getting constant feedback. This is before we had a talent system or at least one that you know of today.

We would get constant feedback about players wanting to be able to customize their character more, they wanted to stand next to another character of the same class and feel like they were a little bit different that made some choices and that those choices were meaningful and that led to their gameplay experience feeling a little bit different, and that their character was special. With that in mind, we went out and created a different talent system.

We drew a lot from the original Diablo II talent system, that sort of thing. But at the end of the day, I don’t actually feel like it’s aged as well as I wish it had. I feel like we’ve been plagued over the years with cookie cutter builds.

How much space do you really have when you step into your raid, and your raid leader tells you those’s four points you spent right there are going to cost you 4% DPS and we really can’t have that so you’re going to take a hike,that sort of thing. So we want to try to make sure that we refine what we call the talent system to get to the point where we don’t have the cookie cutter builds that we have today and that the choices you are making are significant choices for your character but that you actually have a lot of flexibility about how to set up your character and how to play.

Tom Chilton: As you already probably know, we’re here to talk about the talent system, and all the new stuff that we’ve done with with it and to give you guys a sneak peek at what we’ve done with your class.

So let’s open this vault of knowledge.

(Tom Chilton clicks the remote control and a massive panda paw fingerprint on a round mural glyph rotates clockwise and an animation as if it was a slide door pops open to show the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria logo)

Talents 2.0

We spent some time talking about this in the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria preview panel, but now we’d like to go into a little bit more depth, and recap some of our philosophies and some stuff, and then make our way through the different classes.

As you may realize by now, this represents a mayor change to the class talent trees, and it’s really kind of a new phase of development for our talent system.

Still similar in a lot of ways to the original talent system, but we had these ideas in the back of our minds, kind of squeaking around that were telling us that we had bigger and better things to do with it.

Goal

So the goal here is that you’re standing next to another combat Rogue, for example, and this kind of rogue, she has different talents than you do … wow, wouldn’t that be something?

Holy crap! And they’re not just an idiot, right?

So as I said before, character customization was the original point of talents in the first place. That’s what we set up to do back in — somewhere around April or May of 2004, when we were talking about this, and that’s what we kind of thought we were going to accomplish, but over time we’ve really seen that cookie-cutter builds have dominated the scene and players have told us: “We want more talent customization!”

We did the Cataclysm talent revamp with that kind of idea in mind, hoping to give players more meaningful choices than they had before, but while we made improvements to how clean the system is and that sort of thing, we didn’t really feel like we delivered it on a level that players would really be happy with. Time to do it all over.

So this new model is all about customization. Making choices that are interesting and difficult choices. When you look at a class now, the class will be comprised of three things:

New Model

Class Abilities: The first is your core of possibilities and these are abilities available to everybody of that character class, whether or not you’re Arms or Protection or Fury. To take a warrior for example, All Warriors, obviously, learned Heroic Strike.

Spec Abilities: This is something we’re doing a lot more with this than we did before. Spec Abilities in Cataclysm is that one ability you get like Mortal Strike for picking Arms spec.

But now it translates into quite a few new things, and that can include abilities that are core abilities if they only make sense to work out for, for example, for a certain spec or they could be old talents or existing abilities that we have now. In this case, for the Arms Warrior can now learn Slam.

Finally, we have talents, and any warrior can pick from the same sets of talents. What’s very important to us is that players are making apples to apples comparisons about their talent choices.

One thing we learned over time is that if you put, let’s say, a survivability ability up next to a DPS ability, and you’re playing a DPS role, let’s say you are an Arms warrior — which one are you more likely to pick? Hmm, I wonder … You’d take the DPS ability, and that sacks the actual reality of choice from the decision.

However, what we feel like is if we present you with three different options that are comparisons that are right, like three different survivability abilities, and say: “Here they are, here are three of them. They are cool in different ways. Pick one.”

Then there’s only so wrong you can go with that, right? It becomes more of a choice of your style of play, what abilities appeal to you more as a player, and those choices can really actually add up to being very creative and different characters once you look at your character overall.

If we had DPS abilities in there, they’ll be compared against other DPS abilities, so you pick one of three different DPS abilities, or utility abilities, or mobility abilities, or survivability — all that kind of stuff.

Talents: Every warrior can choose Throwdown. So in this case, it’s crowd control. Throwdown will be put up against two other crowd-control abilities so you have to pick which crowd control suits you best.

Warrior Core Abilities

Here’s a bunch of different warrior core abilities, maybe you are probably very familiar with these.

Of note, enrage is in there as a passive, and so an example of a really significant talent for warriors that we don’t want to go away with, it’s a cool mechanic and all that, but now all warriors will have passive enrage.

At level 10, warriors can choose a spec, and here’s the example, warrior’s going to choose between arms or protection, and that’s going to have a whole bunch of implications at different levels.

If you’re the fury warrior, here are the abilities you’d get at the different levels, and so that implies these aren’t necessarily abilities you would get as Arms, Fury, or Protection. There may be a little overlap where it is necessary or makes sense, but for the most part, these are very distinct.

Like Fury, for example. Before, you didn’t want to be that warrior that didn’t pick Fury, right? — that wasn’t really a choice, not if you were sane. So at level 15, you’ll pick your first talent.

In this particular example, you’re looking at a warrior and you’re comparing three different mobility abilities against each other. Do I want Juggernaut, do I want Double Time, or do I want the Warbringer ability?

You pick which makes most sense for your character, your style of play, and the things you do.

We’ll continue to go through all these different examples with the different character process in a moment.

Talent Philosophy

Some of the philosophies that go along with this is that it gives you access to stuff you couldn’t access before in terms of the combinations, right?

In the past, let’s say you’re a rogue and you’ve chosen subtlety — so you know — I’m going to get Shadow Step as Subtlety rogue, and I’ll have Preparation and I’m going to have that sort of thing, but you were never able to combine an ability like that with an ability — let’s say, like Killing Spree.

And because these different talents are now going to be able to play against each other in the same tree, you’ll be able to create all kinds of new combinations of the cool talents that are already in the game that are really meaningful in ways you could never before.

And really, that’s at the crux of giving you guys a lot more control over your character and and a lot more flexibility, and a lot more customization.

We’ll also be adding several new overpowered feeling talents, so there will be new stuff in the trees that you have never seen before.

Talent Philosophy

Bear in mind as we go through the trees, as Greg said, don’t make assumptions about the talents that you see in there in terms of how they operate today.

A lot of these talents, once they’re in this kind of system, they will change in terms of their cooldown or their duration, or some of the details of their effects.

That’s because they aren’t necessarily all layered on top of each other. In the past we’ve had to essentially give some abilities because we had to worry about — well, first you can Gauge the guy, and then you can Kidney Punch him, and then Blind him, and then you can do this, that, and the other — and when you layer all those mechanics on top of each other we’re in the situation to marginalize those more and more.

So in a lot of cases, this opens up a lot more flexibility that we didn’t have before. As we go through these, if you don’t see a beloved talent, don’t worry. It’s probably something that’s a core ability or something like that.

There’s not an intent here to take away a whole bunch of awesome stuff. We’re just moving things around and putting them in places where they actually make for some interesting choices.

An example, all holy priests now have Circled Healing, and hopefully, you’ll come away with this not feeling like they’re mandatory talents, and every choice should be hard, but fun.

Talent Philosophy

So, Screenshot time. Rather than disappointing everyone, I’m walking off the stage, and Greg will just be going to go through every freaking talent. So, Greg Street (Ghostcrawler), take it away.

Classes Talents In-Depth Preview

Ghostcrawler: We’re going to reiterate a lot on these individual talents. They’re not set in stone. You haven’t played them yet. Don’t get too obsessed about the numbers, or “OMG! Too many cooldowns, that’s OP (overpowered)” — we can get to all of that.

Look at the spirit of the talent, and what we’re trying to do. We have ten classes and their talents, and buckle up. We’re going to go in alphabetical order.

If you’re a Warrior, go get a beer. and come back later.

Note: Before continuing to read the transcript of this Talents Panel, choose which class you wish to preview. Due to the massive amount of info shown by Ghostcrawler at this point of the panel, I decided to split all classes into separate pages. Otherwise this page would be very crowded with too much info and over 100 images. Basically, they showed every single freaking talent choice, and tooltips per every 15 levels (7 Tiers) per class. That was an awesome preview. Choose your class:

Change is Scary!!!

Change is Scary!!! And we know one of the initial reactions to hear about this talent thing is: “Wow, I used to get talents like every level and now I’m getting talents every 15 levels. There’s so fewer choices, only six talents instead of the 70 back in Burning Crusade, or something.”

We really want the quality of the choice to be more interesting than the quantity of the choice.

We want to focus on very cool talents that make you feel like you’re playing differently, you’re doing things you could never do before and less about well someone math out that this talent over here was a 2% DPS upgrade so I’m about only going to pick two out of three ranks here.

And honestly I think that what most of us did was we tried to find someone with a good build rather than having fun experimenting it ourselves.

We think about your current talents trees. Just think about the class you play a lot for a minute, and there’s cool talents in that tree.

Most of those we’re going to give to you for free now. If you pick the right spec you will get all that stuff anyway and some we’re going to elevate to the core class level.

Then there’s the really boring talents. The things that either no one took or the small DPS increases. You’re glad to have them. More DPS or Healing is nice. Not super compelling, like WoW I’m so glad I finally got this thing that made me have more armor.

And then there are the fun talents, talents that felt like game changers. That’s what we want this new system to be about.

None of these are set in stone. I would be surprised if these are what the talent trees look like when we ship.

You can see the philosophy and ideas we’re going for. We’re going to be super excited to get feedback.

I’m sure it’s going to be coming once we step off the stage. What’s overpowered. What’s a terrible idea. What we do to ruin the game or something.

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BlizzCon 2011: Pet Journal and Pet Battle System – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

Blizzard Entertainment announced plans to add a Pet Battle System feature to World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria. This is a feature I was so much looking forward. As I grew my collection of 129 pets, it came to mind it would be nice to have some sort of Pokemon system clashing pets vs pets.

My eyes pop out when Cory Stockton announced the Pet Battle System. Not only can you and your pet level up to battle other pets, your entire account will have access to the Pet Collection, meaning you don’t have to collect the same pets over and over for each character.

Pet Battle System

  • Collect, level and battle with companion pets!
  • Accessible to all players
  • Works with almost every pet
  • New pets will be added for players to collect
  • Customize your pets

Collect Pets

  • Works with most existing pets
  • Wild pets! Players have to fight them to add them to their collection
  • Pet Journal – Certain pet spawn at day or night, in a rainy day, in a specific season. The journal shows you info.
  • Pets are tradeable in the Auction House
  • Account wide pets – any character in any server of a single account will have access to the pet collection.

Level Pets

  • Win battles to earn experience
  • Learn new abilities as you gain experience
  • Create builds using abilities
  • Each pet can use up to three abilities at one time
  • Every time the pet levels, increase stats
  • Level multiple pets to build your team

Battle

  • PvE & PvP battles
  • Turn based combat
  • Simple combat system
  • Fight with a team of 3 pets
  • Queuing system

Customize Pet

  • Name your pets
  • Items
  • Builds & Teams via UI slots
  • Masters & Abilities
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BlizzCon 2011 – World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria FAQ

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

What is the story of World of Warcraft®: Mists of Pandaria™?

Alliance warships prowl the seas. Horde armies thunder across Kalimdor. Tensions between these factions edge closer to erupting in a savage war that threatens to consume all of Azeroth. Against this backdrop of impending conflict, an uncharted island mysteriously appears….

Shrouded in fog since the world was sundered more than ten thousand years ago, the ancient realm of Pandaria has remained unspoiled by war. Its lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures — including the enigmatic pandaren.

All but the bravest pandaren explorers have been hidden from the world for thousands of years. Now, in the aftermath of the events of World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™, Pandaria’s heroes are stepping forward to declare their allegiance to either the Alliance or the Horde and share the extraordinary secrets of their ancient martial arts with the world.

Who are the pandaren?

The pandaren are an enigmatic race native to the long-hidden continent of Pandaria. Honorable and filled with a love of good company, good food — and every now and then, a good friendly brawl — the pandaren have been content to live in seclusion, allowing their culture to flourish and thrive away from the influence of the outside world. However, every now and then, a pandaren is born with a thirst for adventure that rivals his or her thirst for a strong drink, and he or she strikes out to explore beyond Pandaria’s shores. One of the most famous such wanderers was the brewmaster Chen Stormstout, who set out to look for exotic ingredients for a special ale and wound up assisting the Horde during the events of Warcraft® III: The Frozen Throne®.

While the pandaren are predominantly a peace-loving race, their history is marked with turmoil and strife. After years of living under the oppressive rule of the cruel mogu, who banned the use of weapons as a means of control, the pandaren developed the martial arts that would become the hallmark of their monk caste and used their skills to free themselves from the mogu rule. Terrifying natural forces and strange indigenous enemies — such as the voracious mantid, who emerge every few years to consume everything in their path — have also had a hand in shaping pandaren culture over the centuries. Now, the pandaren way of life faces its biggest trial yet, as Horde and Alliance forces make landfall on Pandaria’s pristine shores….

What are the features of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria?

Some of the new features of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria include:

  • New Playable Race — Pandaren: Adventure through Azeroth as World of Warcraft’s first neutral race and decide whether to side with the Alliance or the Horde.

  • New Playable Class — Monk: Unlock the secrets of pandaren martial arts and do battle as a damage dealer, healer, or tank.

  • Level Cap Increased to 90: Learn potent new spells and abilities while exploring uncharted zones and taking on challenging new content.

  • New Zones: Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.

  • Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.

  • Dungeon “Challenge” Modes: Master the ultimate 5-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test.

  • Pet Battles: Challenge other players’ companion pets with your own collection in a new tactical mini-game, and find out who’s king or queen of the pint-sized battlefield.

  • New Talent System: Customize your character to suit your play style with the newly overhauled and improved talent system.

How are the pandaren a “neutral” race? At what point do you choose which faction to side with?

Pandaren who strike out to explore the world outside their homeland begin their journey on the Wandering Isle (a new starting zone for pandaren characters level 1 to 10), where they face a number of trials — and meet with a number of characters from both the Alliance and the Horde — before arriving in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms.

Pandaren remain neutral through most of their Wandering Isle quests, but before they leave, players will need to make a decision whether to permanently side with the Alliance or the Horde. After that decision is made, the character will be treated just like any other member of their chosen faction in cities, on quests, and in character interactions. Choose wisely, because once your decision is made, it’s irreversible (except through the Faction Change service).

What is the monk class? How does it differ from other classes in the game?

The monk is a martial arts expert who excels in close-quarters hand-to-hand combat, and can fill the role of a tank, damage-dealer, or healer, depending on a player’s chosen specialization. As with most classes in the game (with the exception of death knights), monks begin their journey at level 1.

Monks have a number of unique mechanics and resources that set them apart from other classes. For example, the class is being designed with a more active approach to combat than other classes; every kick and punch is performed with the press of a key, so they will not have a default auto-attack.

In addition, monks build up “chi” through a combination of punches, kicks, and other basic martial arts moves, and then expend it to unleash powerful special moves, such as finishers or potent heals.

Which races can be a monk?

Since coming into contact with members of the Horde and the Alliance, several of Pandaria’s masters have begun to teach their new allies the secrets of their ancient martial arts. Currently, every race except goblin and worgen can learn the ways of the monk.

Which classes are available to a pandaren?

Currently, pandaren can choose to be hunters, mages, priests, rogues, shaman, warriors, and — of course — monks. Pandaren are not able to become death knights, druids, paladins, or warlocks.

What end-game content will be available for players at level 90?

With World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, our focus was on rebuilding the old world and improving the level 1 to 60 experience for players — and as a result, we didn’t end up creating a lot of new types of content for players to tackle once they had reached max level.

One of our primary design goals for Mists of Pandaria is to give players a wider variety of content and different types of gameplay to enjoy once they reach level 90, in addition to the Heroic dungeons, raids, and daily quests that they’re used to. To that end, we are introducing three major new features in the new expansion: scenarios, challenge modes for 5-player dungeons, and companion pet battles.

What are Scenarios?

Scenarios are a new type of PvE challenge designed for groups of as few as 3 or as many as 25 players, depending on what is appropriate for the content. Scenarios require players to band together to complete a specific goal, such as defending Goldshire against a gnoll attack or storming a beach near a Horde fortification. Each scenario will have its own set of unique objectives, and in general they will offer a different type of gameplay from the trash-and-boss design of 5-player dungeons.

Scenarios will allow for more flexible group compositions than dungeons do, so parties won’t necessarily need a specific number of tanks, healers, or damage-dealers (though exactly what’s required will vary by scenario). And while a scenario may take place in a familiar location within the game world, each scenario will be instanced. In general, expect a scenario to take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes to complete.

What are Challenge Modes for 5-player dungeons?

Challenge mode is a new, advanced mode for 5-player dungeons designed for players looking for the ultimate test of coordination and skill. In challenge modes, players are tasked with trying to complete an existing 5-player dungeon as quickly and skillfully as possible.

Depending on how well the group does, players will receive recognizable prestige rewards such as mounts, pets, titles, achievements, or special armor artwork that can be used with transmogrification to customize a character’s appearance.

The inspiration for challenge modes comes from events such as the 45-minute Baron Rivendare runs in the original Stratholme dungeon, or the timed Zul’Aman dungeon run for the Amani War Bear.

We want challenge modes to be a test of player skill and not of player gear, and so the stats on all players’ armor and equipment will be normalized to a set level upon beginning a challenge. As a result, players will have the same chance at victory whether they are wearing quest rewards or Heroic-raid-level epic items. Regardless of equipment, challenge modes will remain just as challenging at the end of the expansion as they were at the beginning.

What are companion pet battles?

In Mists of Pandaria, we are adding a new tactical mini-game that will give the Snowshoe Rabbits, Mechanical Squirrels, and other cute lil’ companion pets players collect something to do other than stand around looking adorable.

Companion pet battles allow players to pit their pint-sized pals against other players’ pets (or against special critters you come across in the wild) in strategic, turn-based combat. Pets will level up as they earn combat experience, and each companion in the game will have its own set of stats – such as attack and defense rating – along with unique abilities with their own tactical merits.

During a pet battle, players will be able to swap companions out strategically depending on which pet they’re facing or what abilities might come in handy against a given foe.

Pet battles are meant to be completely independent from your character’s main progression, and the rewards won’t offer additional advantages in regular PvP or PvE situations such as Battlegrounds or raids — though they should help pass the time while you’re waiting for your group to recoup from a particularly nasty wipe.

Are any changes in store for dungeons and raids?

As with the upcoming patch 4.3, Mists of Pandaria will include a third difficulty level for raids. Expect one difficulty to be roughly equivalent to the current normal mode, one to be about on par with the current Heroic mode, and one to be much more pick-up-group-friendly. Our goal is to allow more players to be able to experience the content — especially the climactic boss encounters that are a part of each expansion’s story arc — while still satisfying players looking for the most epic challenges and rewards.

What’s in store for professions?

While we don’t plan to add any brand-new professions in Mists of Pandaria, the profession skill cap will be extended, and new recipes and content will become available for every existing profession.

What are the new zones?

The continent of Pandaria will consist of five enormous zones for players level 85 and above, and new pandaren players will begin their adventures in a unique starting zone separate from the pandaren homeland. Here’s the breakdown of the zones, along with their current working names:

  • The Jade Forest: High-level adventurers will make landfall in the lush Jade Forest, where they’ll meet some of Pandaria’s indigenous races, such as the fish-like jinyu and monkey-like hozu.

  • Valley of the Four Winds: Playing home to both farms and rainforests, the Valley of the Four Winds is also where travelers will find the legendary Stormstout Brewery.

  • Kun-Lai Summit: Amid this treacherous mountain terrain, players will encounter the Shadowpan, a clandestine sect charged with keeping one of Pandaria’s darkest secrets.

  • Townlong Steppes: Here, a tremendous wall separates Pandaria’s verdant forests and plains from the desolate wasteland left in the wake of the ravenous, all-consuming mantid.

  • Vale of Eternal Blossoms: Adventurers from either faction are welcome to share a drink in the central city of the pandaren. This zone also hosts many daily quests for max-level characters.

  • The Wandering Isle: Pandaren adventurers looking to explore the world outside Pandaria begin their journey here, on a mysterious island that never seems to settle in the same place for too long.

What changes are being made to the talent system?

We are making a couple of major changes to how class specializations and talents work in Mists of Pandaria. First, your specialization is now completely independent from your talent choices. When you reach level 10, you will still choose one of three specs (e.g. Discipline, Holy, or Shadow priest) to determine your role, play style, and which signature abilities your character has access to. In addition, you’ll receive more of your spec’s defining abilities as you level up.

Secondly, the talent system has been redesigned completely. At regular level intervals (at level 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90), players will now be able to choose between one of three very powerful talents. All three specializations will have access to the same three talent options, and our goal is to make sure that these talent choices are appealing to all three specializations with no obvious “must-have” options for any of them.

For example, level-15 warriors will be able to choose one of three movement-related talents: Juggernaut, which permanently lowers the cooldown of Charge; Double Time, which lets the warrior Charge twice before incurring a cooldown; or Warbringer, which causes the target to be rooted in place following a Charge. Once you choose a talent in a specific tier, the other two talents are locked out from your talent build, even when you reach the next talent tier.

We want players to be able to change their talent build independently of their specialization, and without visiting a class trainer. This new system is designed to provide players with hundreds of distinct and meaningful options for tailoring their character’s gameplay to their specific desires and situation.

Why is the talent system going through an overhaul?

As with the talent-system redesign in Cataclysm, our goal is ultimately to give players more meaningful character-customization options and to eliminate “cookie-cutter” talent builds. We were only partially successful in realizing that goal in Cataclysm, as many talents still felt mandatory to a given specialization, and some talent choices in the trees were still not particularly interesting or exciting.

By giving the benefits of the previously “mandatory” talents to players automatically as part of their specialization choice, and allowing any specialization to choose any given talent, we hope to be able to give players much more significant and interesting decisions to make about their character.

Will you be making any changes to how stats work?

Yes. As World of Warcraft has matured and more expansions, content updates, and tiers of equipment have been released, players’ stats have begun to inflate exponentially. At this point, the numbers for health, mana, and so on are threatening to get out of control. In order to combat this and bring statistics back to earth — or Azeroth, as it were — in Mists of Pandaria, we will be “flattening” the statistic curve in places where it no longer needs to behave exponentially (primarily at the point of the end game for old expansions).

In practice, this means that upon the expansion’s release, the numbers for Strength, Health, Intellect, damage, and so on will be significantly lower than you’re used to seeing across the board, from level 1 to level 85. It’s all relative, of course — enemies’ and bosses’ stats will be reduced as well, and it should take a level-85 warrior roughly the same number of many sword-whacks and ability uses to kill a level-85 monster as it did before.

However, this also means the difference between each level between 1 and 85 will be less significant, so you may find that an enemy 5 or 10 levels below your own will be a little tougher to deal with than it was before.

Will players be allowed to fly in Pandaria?

Upon arrival in Pandaria, players will be restricted from flying until they reach a certain point in their quest progression. While the ability to fly is a great convenience for players once they have completed content, we can provide a much more enjoyable, rewarding, and varied questing experience if players are (mostly) grounded while the story of Pandaria unfolds.

Will there be any updates to the graphics and changes to the minimum system requirements?

Yes, there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we’ve made improvements to the way textures are displayed. We’ll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion’s release.

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BlizzCon 2011: World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Fact Sheet

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

Alliance warships prowl the seas. Horde armies thunder across Kalimdor. Tensions between these factions edge closer to erupting in a savage war that threatens to consume all of Azeroth. Against this backdrop of impending conflict, an uncharted island mysteriously appears…

Shrouded in fog since the world was sundered more than ten thousand years ago, the ancient realm of Pandaria has remained unspoiled by war. Its lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures. Will the mists of Pandaria part to reveal the world’s salvation… or will the battle to control this breathtaking new land push the Alliance and the Horde over the brink into total annihilation?

Blizzard Entertainment’s Mists of Pandaria™, the fourth expansion for World of Warcraft®, unveils an entirely new continent for players to explore and reintroduces the enigmatic pandaren as a playable race. All but the bravest pandaren explorers have been hidden from the world for thousands of years. Now, in the aftermath of the Cataclysm, Pandaria’s heroes are stepping forward to declare their allegiance to either the Alliance or the Horde.

Mists of Pandaria also introduces an exciting new player class: the monk. Pandaren masters will share the extraordinary secrets of their ancient martial arts with members of both the Alliance and the Horde. Depending on how they choose to channel their chi energy, monks can be effective at dealing damage, tanking, or healing.

Even more content and features await as players journey to the new level cap of 90, including flexible scenarios for smaller bands of adventurers, challenge modes for fearless dungeoneers, and strategic companion pet battles for your pint-sized pals.

Key Features:

  • New Playable Race — Pandaren: Adventure through Azeroth as World of Warcraft’s first neutral race and decide whether to side with the Alliance or the Horde.
  • New Playable Class — Monk: Unlock the secrets of pandaren martial arts and do battle as a damage dealer, healer, or tank.
  • Level Cap Increased to 90: Learn potent new spells and abilities while exploring uncharted zones and taking on challenging new content.
  • New Zones: Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.
  • Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.
  • Dungeon “Challenge” Modes: Master the ultimate five-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test.
  • Pet Battles: Challenge other players’ companion pets with your own critter collection in a new tactical mini-game, and find out who’s king or queen of the pint-sized battlefield.
  • New Talent System: Customize your character to suit your play style with the newly improved talent system.