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Zarhym Talks About Content Patch 3.1

Zarhym expressed a lot of feedback about the upcoming major content patch 3.1 and the 25-man / 10-man dungeon Ulduar.  Content patches will be released at a fair pace, but not as often as it happened in Burning Crusade to allow guilds breath-space with raid progression before moving on to a new dungeon.

Blizzard Quote:
Our development team is currently hard at work on Ulduar. It’s going to be massive. For those looking to progress past Naxxramas, this will be your place. For those looking for much more of a challenge content-wise than they’ve seen thus far in Wrath of the Lich King, Ulduar welcomes you.

After The Burning Crusade’s final major content patch, the plan was to space out the new raid dungeons in Wrath of the Lich King so there wouldn’t be overwhelming moments or times where several raids are released at once and slightly ill-tuned (as was the case with The Burning Crusade’s launch); we also don’t want extremely long periods of time where no new raids come out, as was the case after The Burning Crusade’s initial launch.

I trust players can expect to find a fair amount of challenge and content with patch 3.1, and each major content patch after that in Wrath of the Lich King will offer similar new feats.

Raid progression in this game has always been fairly linear. That is by design. The idea is to have clear progressions depending on how you choose to spend your time, whether in 5-man, 10-man, 25-man, or PvP.

It takes quite a bit of time to design a new dungeon, even just speaking about the art alone. By the time we get around to tuning a new raid dungeon, the idea is to offer new, more difficult challenges, which would naturally result in better rewards. That seems to describe a linear design philosophy as you put it.

For those asking about the challenge, I’d wager the average guild couldn’t expect to waltz into Ulduar and clear the place right away in its top form. If it didn’t come back to haunt me (har), I’d guess it would take weeks for the average guild.

You might see some additional rewards from heroism vendors down the line, though it’s not expected there will be a host of new items released comparable to Ulduar or Icecrown loot, at least not in the same manner Sunwell badge gear was provided.

As we continue to evaluate professions, one shouldn’t rule out additional glyphs in the future. The achievements will continue to come, and there will always be plenty of achievements for everyone.

Wrath of the Lich King Patch 3.0.8a Released

Earlier today, Blizzard released a new minor patch on US Realms during the Tuesday maintenance schedule. Some of these class, race or gender bugs had been acknowledged and reported by Blizzard when the original Patch 3.0.8 was deployed. It’s nice to see that the devs worked around the clock to release them this quick. Nethaera sent us word immediately. You can read the patch notes and any updates here.

Patch 3.0.8a resolves the following bugs:

Blizzard Quote:
General

  • Human females Helms will no longer lift off the character’s head during a Special2H animation or during a HoldRifle animation.

Death Knights

  • Howling Blast : The 5 second cooldown will now display correctly.

Hunters

  • All Hunter aspects are no longer on the global cooldown that is shared with other Hunter abilities. All hunter aspects are now on a separate 1 second cooldown.

Warlocks

  • Ritual of Summoning will now function as intended.

Account-Wide Death Knight Creation Updated

Nethaera has informed us of an update to the recent Account-wide Death Knight Creation issue alert posted at the official forums. Some players are able to still create Death Knights, but other players can’t. Blizzard is trying to isolate what is causing this seemingly random bug.  As of later tonight, the problem will be resolved after the restarts. We have below a FAQ to Account-wide Death Knight Creation provided by Blizzard.

Blizzard Quote:
Update – 1/21 11:30 AM PST

We are continuing to work on allowing death knight creation on all eligible realms per the creation rules for death knights and will provide further updates as soon as they are available.

Update – 1/20 5:20pm PST

We will be bringing all realms down at 5am PDT (Oceanic realms will be brought down at 12pm PDT) on January 21 to address an issue with Death Knight creation. The restarts should only take approximately 15 minutes to complete. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Update- 1/20 3:30 PM PST

Please be aware that select players are currently able to create death knights on realms other than the one they currently have a level 55+ character on while others are still unable to do so at this time. We are currently working to address this issue and anticipate this to be corrected as of tonight

Diablo III: Build Customization, UI, Economy and More

This past week Bashiok has been on a roll posting and replying to fans on the official Diablo 3 forums. Among the topics discussed were the stat points allocation concerns which seem to be the new kid on the block after the Art Direction uproar a few months ago. Bashiok continues to tease and hint many Character build customization options that are still unrevealed. He also mentioned that any buttons we saw in the Blizzcon 2008 hands-on demo were placeholders and that none are recycled from World of Warcraft, but unique to Diablo III. There are other topics. You can read them below after the break. Share your thoughts with other fans.

Blizzard Quote:

Inventory

Maphack @ Azeroth: Well your developers seem to feel that putting items into boxes with the classic inventory was punishing to players, as if we weren’t beyond the level of tinker toys.

Bashiok: No I’m sure you’re a very intelligent person, but at it’s core elements Diablo is not about pouring over the worth of a single inventory square. That’s not what makes the game.

The grid system puts a secondary value on an item, one of how much space it actually takes up. That amount of space, unless it’s broken up in to minuscule segments, can’t be properly attributed to the actual worth of the item.

So you have a grand charm, three spaces, is it a good charm or a crappy charm? If it’s worth keeping is it worth taking up three inventory spots? If it’s worth taking up three inventory spots with that grand charm is there any other combination of lesser charms that could…

That’s just a lot of ridiculous work to figure out the worth of each single square of inventory space, and it’s pretty much unnecessarily punishing, yes.

Blizzard Quote:

Trade House System, Not Auction House

Qookie @ USEast: Now in World of Warcraft , using the Auction House is the biggest method of getting rich with gold cause gold is one way to get the best item in the game and another way is dueling in Arena or BattleGround for points and these points you can use to buy special items which some are the best item in the game and some aren’t. The problem with the Auction House is that it takes away with the interaction with other players to talk to each other and bargin items to a lower price and are that fun stuff you can do in diablo but not with gold, but with items. You can still trade with other people but mostly doesn’t happen because of course you can get mostly everything from your guild/Clan or your Auction House.

Bashiok: I’m not sure I understood all of what you said, sorry, it sort of read like stereo instructions written by the guy that scares people away from using the pay phone at the 7-11 down the street.

Just a couple of my own cents on the system. First off we really don’t have a solid plan for any sort of external trading system, that is anything beyond being in the same game with the person. We know we’d like something like that though if at all possible.

Foremost – spamming is bad. I think trade channels usually suck because of the requirement to spam. The amount of time and effort spent just to get your items noticed borders on brain-explosiony. Throw in the lack of easily gauged economy and you’re usually left out in the dark, laughed at, ripped off, etc. Your suggestion seems to mix the idea of an auction house and trade channel, in that you can use a channel in-game to spam, and then have some sort of UI to trade the item. That definitely solves one issue, which is needing to leave the game and just sit in a chat channel. What it doesn’t solve is needing to sit in a chat channel and spam. Sure, you could probably play and spam the channel every once in a while but it’s really not the cleanest approach. You’re still spamming a chat channel, you’re still limited to the people that want to see that spam (ie not many).

Since you brought it up let’s move on to the World of Warcraft’s auction house. World of Warcraft did not invent the auction house trading system. It may have certainly refined it, but an irrational hatred of the game that some of you seem to have really shouldn’t translate to game systems that aren’t original to it. There are some major advantages to an auction house similar to WoW’s. You don’t have to be present being the biggest and best. You can be playing with friends, PvPing, asleep, at school or work, and someone has the ability to see your items, and you have a greater chance to sell/trade them. You don’t have to spam a channel, you don’t have to even be online and playing. That’s HUGE, and really the main reason so many people use trading systems such as websites and forums for Diablo II. You want to focus on playing the game or not playing the game, not sitting around hoping someone wants your item.

It also helps form a visible and easily identified economy. I’m a new player, I got a sword I think it’s probably pretty nice, I can go on an auction house and search for it or similar swords and get an idea of how much it should sell for. In this case being in a trade channel is no better whether it’s in-game or out of game. What you’d probably end up with is people still going to forums and more static styles of trading found on websites, but even then any unified sense of economy is spread thin. Maybe that’s not such a bad system in itself, and an official trading site could work. Of course what you lose either way though, auction house or website, is in-game player interaction. Which is what I assume you’re striving to keep.

When it comes down to it, any change or addition or removal of any systems have to be weighed. Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I’ll go back to what I said at the beginning and state we don’t know what if any types of trading systems will be in the final game. Maybe there won’t be, it may be that eventually we settle on leaving it Diablo II style. We have some ideas of what would be cool, but at the end of the day we’re not going to do anything that isn’t far and away a more positive change for the game.

Character Build Customization

Deliras @ Europe: As some forumers have stated before I want to recall that one of the greatest and most enjoyable aspects of the DIablo series (specially D2 and D2-LoD), is the amazing variety of character builds you were able to create.

Bashiok: Agreed, and we’ll probably surpass them for viable number of character builds. With runes it’s actually kind of scary. Seeing the game in the wild and what people will come up with… eek. But it’s exciting, making a character that almost feels too powerful is pretty damn fun.

Many Build Customization Options Unrevealed

Deliras @ Europe: If you were to build your uberpwnzor pvp bowazon for example, every single stat had to be allocated carefully.

Bashiok: Ah, so then stat points were just a means to an end then, weren’t they? In almost all cases anyway. They were a requirement to the items, clicking a button to raise a number to a required value. The items and abilities chosen are really what created the character, not figuring out item requirements.

You could argue about it forever if you wanted to. The stat points didn’t make the character, but little extra math problems are fun, but little extra math problems don’t really equate to fun or interesting character building, but I think that math problems are fun and interesting, but … etc. etc. etc.

And of course all I can attempt to do is assure you that there’s going to be plenty of build potential, plenty of customization, and plenty of math to dive into, if that’s your thing.

Diablo 3 UI Unique, not WoW Clone. BlizzCon UI buttons were Placeholder

Qookie @ USEast: … Blizzard needs to understand they cannot be lazy and take ideas from World of Warcraft just because it’s a good idea. …

Bashiok: Uhm, well out of all the things you said I guess I could probably talk about the icons. All of the Diablo III UI and icons are created by the Diablo III team, mainly our UI designer Mike Nicholson. We’re not taking any art from other games, it’s all created for Diablo III. It should also be noted that everything seen thus far should be considered placeholder, a lot of the UI has already changed fairly significantly.

DX10 and OpenGL 3.0

Spherous @ USEast: Does Blizzard plan to make use of Direct X 10 and OpenGL 3.0?

Bashiok: We’re not currently using any specific DirectX 10 features in Diablo III. That could potentially change of course, but if it did we don’t have any plans to then require DirectX 10 to play the game.

Patch 3.0.8: Ghostcrawler On Dispel Resistance Overhaul

Ghostcrawler explained the internal concerns about Dispel Resistance mechanics from talent trees and dispel abilities.  The Developers wish to hear your feedback at the following forum thread. Feel free to submit to them your feedback, and tell us what you think by posting a comment below. Do classes need this nerf, or does it sound logical to you?

Blizzard Quote:
Ghostcrawler: The general rule of thumb is that helpful spells (e.g. buffs) and dots are protected. Other offensive spells (e.g. crowd controls) are not.

We are definitely interested on hearing feedback on this implementation. We like the basic mechanic of casting and dispelling spells, but I think many players agreed that the system beyond that needed an overhaul. I am sure many players have their own ideas on how this should have worked, because a lot of them have been pitched to us.

Feel free to discuss dispel and dispel resistance here rather than having the conversation across multiple threads.

The dispells spells themselves generally have not changed. The talents that protected some of your spells have changed.

Overall, dispelling attacks used against you should be easier to dispel (except for dots).

Windows 7 and World of Warcraft

Windows 7 OS beta (Watch the video demo) will be distributed on January 10th to the first two million downloads. Thereafter, downloads will be disrupted. If you are among the very few lucky, you will have to burn the ISO file. You require to have a DVD burner drive.  The Windows 7 installation must be made from within the DVD containing the ISO file.  No physical DVDs will be distributed by Microsoft. (Official Windows 7 Website)

World of Warcraft players attempting to install Windows 7 will very likely go: “Zomg! Windows 7 sux!” As per Blizzard Entertainment, today, Darth (from Technical Support Team) cleared up that Blizzard doesn’t support new OS in alpha or beta stage. You still have the opportunity to discuss issues or features of Windows 7 and World of Warcraft with other fans at a specific thread.  Don’t create new threads. Moderators will lock or delete them.

Blizzard Quote:
Please keep in mind that we (Blizzard) do not support operating systems in Alpha, Beta or Release Candidate phases. We will allow you to discuss the game or OS performance here when the public beta is released in a centralized thread. It’ll most likely be this sticky when it is unlocked tomorrow.

Getting Started

Drivers for….

Video:
-AMD – http://support.ati.com/ics/support/default.asp?deptID=894%20ID%20737-39069
-NVIDIA – http://www.nvidia.com/object/windows_7.html

Vote for Your Favorite StarCraft II Dark Templar

The Starcraft II Team wants your feedback to choose which of the three types of Dark Templar will be used in Starcraft II. Your participation and collaboration will decide the design process and appearance of the Dark Templar. If you are among the fans who do not like the Dark Templar’s appearance this is your chance to let your voice be heard. Cast your vote at the official poll and add your comments too.

You can watch the different types of Dark Templar animations at the Starcraft2.com Website.

Blizzard Quote:
The protoss dark templar has always been one of the StarCraft community’s favorite units—now, the community has a chance to participate directly in the dark templar design process for StarCraft II! Over the course of the next month, players will vote to decide which dark templar model will appear in StarCraft II multiplayer matches.

The first option represents the Lenassa tribe of dark templar, which made its debut in the original StarCraft. This unit carries a single warp blade, and a cloth shroud covers its face.

The second option represents the Zer’atai tribe of dark templar, who wield dual scythes and wear an ensemble of heavy armor and the bones of slain zerg.

The third and final option is to have both tribes represented: When you build a dark templar, either the Lenassa or Zer’atai dark templar would spawn randomly.

You can learn more about the dark templar here . Voting will close on Febuary 5th at 11:22 AM CET. The choice is in your hands!

Thanks, Handclaw

Starcraft II - Burrowed Unit Selection and Zealot Upgrade

Blizzard Quote:
Zealot Upgrades
There are two upgrades possible at Twilight Council, one is researching ‘Charge’ for Zealots and the other is researching ‘Blink’ for Stalkers. Charge upgrade for Zealots includes movement speed increase of Zealots as well.  So to speak, Charge increases the movement speed of Zealots AND allows them to intercept nearby enemies.

Unit Selection of Burrowed Zerg
Let’s say you have Zerglings in one group and some of Zerglings in a group are burrowed and the others are not. You can switch your selection of Zerglings burrowed or unburrowed in a group by hitting Tab key and also UI color is different for the units of which the ability is on with some more darked green color.
And you can use Tab key as well for Siege Tank’s Siege Mode, Spine Crawler’s Root.

However, for unit’s cloaking ability like Ghost and Banshee, I couldn’t swith off the selection of Cloaked/Decloaked units in one group by Tab key.

And one more thing, when you double click on a unit, you can select all of the same units even though some of the same units’ ability is on and other’s off like Siege Mode or Cloak. But you can select only burrowed or rooted units by double clicking on burrowed or rooted units.

I will check this more with Development team and if I have additional information on this, I will share it with you.

Important: Naxxramas and World Latency Fixes

The World of Warcraft Developers need your feedback to find solutions to the latency afflicting raid players throughout Naxxramas and the outdoor world. Feel free to post your comments at the following official thread.

Blizzard Quote:
Nethaera: For the last several weeks, our players have been experiencing periodic latency in both outdoor Northrend areas and Naxxramas, and we wanted to provide you with several updates on what we’re doing to resolve these issues. As many players have discovered, the outdoor Northrend latency has been tied to activity in Wintergrasp. We are actively working on a server-side fix that should address the high latency experienced in the outdoor world when Wintergrasp is active. This fix is currently in testing on internal test realms and we anticipate that we’ll be able to push it to live realms in the near future. Concerning Naxxramas, optimizations are being made that will address both the latency and disconnection issues affecting players while in that zone. These optimizations will be included with the next minor content patch.

We appreciate your patience as we work to address these issues.

Ulduar on PTR Soon

Vaneras has revealed a few details about the upcoming new 25-man raid dungeon: Ulduar It will be partially available on PTR at some point in upcoming weeks with various hard-modes to tackle.  Blizzard is satisfied with how the Sartharion dungeon was designed and plan to create new dungeons with many hard-modes.  Ulduar will not be just for everyone. Even in normal mode it will be challenging. It is developed for those guilds that have geared up through Malygos, Naxxramas and Sartharion, yet those will find Ulduar a hard experience..

Blizzard Quote:
Ulduar will be available on PTR in the future, however we are planning on having several limitations in place so that we can control what can be tested at any given time. Ulduar will also not be available permanently like Naxxramas was in the WotLK Beta.

All this basically means that if there is something we want to test, then we will enable the zone and encounter so that it is available. If at some point there is something that we no longer want to test, then the zone will be disabled so that it is no longer available.

Keep in mind though, that there will be quite a few encounters to test in both the 10 and the 25 man versions, and there will also be a whole lot of “hard modes” and achievements to test.

We are quite pleased with how Sartharion and his drakes worked, so we would like to expand on that idea quite a bit in Ulduar and future raids. We are currently planning for most of the encounters to have “hard modes” that will allow for raids to increase the difficulty. Increasing the challenge will of course also mean an increase of reward level if successful.

Ulduar will be on PTR in the future, but we’re going to have tight controls in place on what can be tested at any given time. Ulduar will also not be up permanently like Naxxramas was in the WotLK Beta. If we have something to test, we’ll make the zone and encounter available. If we don’t, we’ll disable the zone.

That being said, there’s going to be a LOT of encounters to test in both 10 and 25 player modes. There will also be a whole lot of “hard modes” and achievements to test. We’re shooting for most all of the encounters to have “hard modes” that allow raids to increase the challenge and reward level if they’re up to it. We’re pretty pleased with how Sartharion and his drakes worked, and we’re going to expand on that idea extensively in Ulduar and future raids.

The reward for completing the hard modes are not going to be just achievement points, titles, or mounts, but improved, additional item rewards.

I think it’s safe to say that Ulduar will be a bit more difficult overall than Naxxramas, even without the hard modes. We’re still going to tune the zone for accessibility(*), but a raid group that’s done Naxxramas, Malygos, and Sartharion and obtained the gear from those encounters should be well prepared for Ulduar. Not only is the raid’s gear better, but players should now have some raiding experience under their belts. We also have a much more accurate picture of what guilds are capable of from a healing, damage, and tanking perspective then when WotLK first went live. If Naxxramas was the introduction to raiding 101 class for players who have never raided before, think of Ulduar as the second year class.

* There will be one optional encounter that is only tuned as a “hard mode” encounter.

I don’t think you have to worry about spoilers from Achievements, to be honest. Seeing achievement text before you fight a boss is like seeing a single piece of a large jigsaw puzzle. Sure, it’s something, but it’s nothing really without seeing the context of the encounter as a whole. I also expect achievements to be something tested late in the PTR process. Implementing them is one of the last parts of the development pipeline.

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