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BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Gameplay and Auction House Panel

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

BlizzCon 2011: Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime Public Apology

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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

BlizzCon 2011: Known Celebrity Sightings

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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.

BlizzCon 2011: StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm FAQ

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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.

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

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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.

BlizzCon 2011: Diablo III Press Kit Screenshots

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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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