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ArtCraft Part 2 – Building a Garrison

Bashiok posted a new chapter of the ArtCraft series that aims to provide fans a glimpse into the work of the artists and the new features they are working on for the Warlords of Draenor expansion.

Just in this ArtCraft, seven developers in the Art Team offer insight into the artistic development process of the Garrison and some of the buildings, and props.

  • Chris Robinson (senior art director)
  • Cory Stockton (lead content designer)
  • Wendy Vetter (lead artist, dungeon team)
  • Eric Browning (lead prop artist)
  • Jordan Powers (associate artist)
  • Eric Braddock (associate 3D artist)
  • Jay Hwang (senior 3D artist)

Chris Robinson: Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft, and for this second entry I’ve gathered a group of Warlords of Draenor developers to talk a bit about Garrisons—specifically, how our artists are working closely with the game designers to ensure that the visuals we’re crafting support their design goals.

We’re not really going to get into the details of how Garrisons work here, like specific mechanics of their design. Think of this more as a behind-the-scenes glimpse into our art process with two of our groups: our dungeon art team, which is responsible for all the Garrison’s large buildings, walls, gates, and so on; and our prop art team, which is focused on the profession buildings and all of the awesome details you’ll find inside of them. — read more

 

Activision Blizzard Q4 2013 Conference Call – Transcript

During the Activision Blizzard Q4 2013 financial results conference call, Mike Morhaime announced the 2013 ended with 7.8 Million subscribers for World of Warcraft. The introduction of one level 90 boost is aimed at returning players who for whatever reason left some time ago, but wish to play and level up with friends right away in Warlords of Draenor.

Hearthstone is in public beta and expects to release it on iPad and Android later in 2014. This page will be updated with a full transcript later tonight. In the meantime, here is the audio clip of the Activision Blizzard Q4 2013 conference call — only the Mike Morhaime portion.

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Transcript

Morhaime: 2013 ends on a strong note with our most successful BlizzCon yet. More than 4.5 million viewers around the world tuned in into the show where we gave you two news games, Heroes of the Storm and the next expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor.

More than 24,000 attendees got a chance to download those games in addition to Diablo III: Reaper of Souls on PC and PS4; and Hearthstone are free-to-play digital card games. We received very positive player feedback in press coverage on all of our games that has come given us great momentum as we head into the great 2014.

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Before we look ahead, let’s review World of Warcraft in Q4. Global subscribership in the quarter ended at 7.8 million subscribers worldwide, and slightly above where we ended in Q3, meaning that the player base has remained pretty stable for three successive quarters.

We should use the strength in Q4 for a few factors: The excitement from BlizzCon, seasonality from the holidays and a refresh of the recruit of final program which offer special test inbound to players to bring revenue into World of Warcraft.

As we head into Q1, we are not going to benefit as much from the same factors that drove Q4. So we will continue to work ways to drive engagements as we move closer to the release of the next expansion.

Warlords of Draenor will reintroduce players with some classic settings and characters from our Warcraft strategy games. In addition to a new continent, and new dungeons, Warlords will include Garrisons, which are our personal fortresses within the game.

Players can collect computer-controlled followers to work in that Garrison, customize their fortress with structures for special battle sets and invite friends to explore their personal piece of Azeroth.

Players will also get the ability to instantly boost one character to level 90 when they purchase the expansion.

We recently announced that players will get access to this boost when they pre-purchased the game.

So, people would be able to enjoy their new max level character right away in Mists of Pandaria.

We think that this is a great feature that will make it easier for friends to play together in World of Warcraft.

It’s also attractive for veteran players, who have already experienced the level and process multiple times and want to quickly raise a new character to deal with end-content.

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We also had some exciting news for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls in Q4. The game will ship for Windows and Mac on March 25th, and we began taking pre-orders in December. We also kicked-off beta testing in December, and feedback from players has been positive.

The expansion will add a new class, the Crusader, as well as new areas for players to explore; and new features like Adventure Mode and Nephalem Rifts, which enhance for replayability.

An all-new Loot system will make playing and collecting gear even more satisfying.

We’re also removing the Auction House from the game on March 18th. A change that has been welcomed by players.

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I’d also like to talk a bit about Hearthstone, our free-to-play digital collectible card game. Players build decks of cards that consist of familiar spells and creatures from World of Warcraft and battle against other players using the cards. Players can collect new cards, simply by playing the game or purchase cards with real currency.

Entry into a special game mode called Arena can also be purchased with in-game gold or real currency. Millions of players across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America participated in Hearthstone’s closed beta test. And a couple of weeks ago, the game transitioned into open beta, which means that anyone can now download the game without any special invitation.

Concurrently across the globe, it has grown steadily since open beta started. And Hearthstone continues to be one of the most popular games watched on Twitch.

The launch of open beta is a great follow-up for the success we had at BlizzCon, while a 100,000 concurrent online viewers watched the finals of our Hearthstone invitational tournament.

We also announced at BlizzCon that we’re working on an iPhones and Android versions of the game, which we expect to ship this year. In the near term, we hope to just quickly transition into launching on iPad.

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Hearthstone isn’t the only free-to-play game on our sleeve. At BlizzCon, we also announced Heroes of the Storm, a new free-to-play online team brawler. Players can choose from an array of iconic Blizzard characters, customize their abilities and team up with friends to battle other players. Heroes take a more fast paced accessible approach to a genre that has grown extremely popular in online gaming over the past few years.

Players and fans are very excited about the game at BlizzCon. We also showcased Heroes at G-Star in Korea, where it was named most anticipated new game by a poll at G-Star.

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Now to one of our franchises which is StarCraft II. The Heart of the Swarm expansion is the number one selling PC game at North American retail last year. And a couple of weeks ago, we made the StarCraft II Arcade available to anyone via the free starter version.

We’re hoping a change will encourage new players to try StarCraft II and bring visibility on the thousands of user-made games and maps created using our in-game tool.

Since the patch, we are seeing increased player engagement. Going forward, we are continuing our (###) with our World Championship series. And we’re hard at work on the final chapter to the StarCraft II saga, Legacy of the Void.

To sum up, Q4 was quite busy, an exciting quarter for Blizzard. We showed excitement for all of our games with a very successful BlizzCon and look to make 2014 a great year for Blizzard gamers with multiple game launches.

 

World of Warcraft Ended 2013 with 7.8 Million Subscribers

According to Robert Kotick, World of Warcraft ended 2013 with 7.8 Million subscribers and continues to be the #1 subscription-based MMORPG around the world.

Expecting growth and record 2014 Non-GAAP EPS driven by strong slate: Hearthstone, Diablo III: Reaper of Souls and another major game.

Another major game? That’s bound for some speculation.

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PvP Season 14 Ending Soon – Warlords of Draenor Beta Imminent?

Blizzard Entertainment announced that PvP Season 14 is ending soon. No date was provided, but this might be a sign that PTR patch 5.4.7 is coming to an end.

Once PvP Season 15 starts, players will be able to acquire Prideful Gladiator gear with an Item Level 550. Make sure to read the notes to plan ahead what to do with your current Honor and Conquest points.

Speculation

A couple of questions might brew out of your mind after reading PvP Season 14 is coming to an end. Is Patch 5.4.7 coming out in the next couple of weeks? is Warlords of Draenor beta imminent?

I also remind you — Mike Morhaime is talking on February 6 at 1:30pm before shareholders at the Activision Blizzard Q4 2013 financial results conference call. Going back in time, Morhaime revealed on February 10, 2010 that StarCraft II beta would start that month (no date, but an approximate). StarCraft II beta started on February 17, 2010. That was 7 days after Morhaime announced it. Wink … wink. Stay tuned to Blizzplanet on February 6 for the coverage.

World of Warcraft: War Crimes by New York Times best selling author Christie Golden ships on May 6, 2014. The novel bridges the gap between Patch 5.4: Siege of Orgrimmar and the upcoming expansion World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.

The current Diablo III: Storm of Light by Nate Kenyon is a novel tie-in that bridges Diablo III and Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. It was released today. The expansion ships in exactly in 48 days. Let that sink in for a moment. War Crimes ships on May 6. A novel tie-in to Warlords of Draenor.

Let’s go back in time for a moment. World of Warcraft: Cataclysm closed beta began on June 30, 2010. The expansion shipped nigh six months later on December 7, 2010.

Mists of Pandaria beta began on March 21, 2012 and shipped on September 25, 2012. Six months of beta testing.

In a nutshell, Beta lasts an average of 6 months. If Warlords of Draenor shipped approximately 48 days after the War Crimes novel, the release date would be somewhere around late June or July. Do your own math and tinkering on when Warlords of Draenor beta should start.

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Blood, sweat, and tears stain the Arena floors and Battleground fields—a grim chronicle of the hard-fought battles many of you have survived. Once again, the time has come for the victorious to be heralded, and champions to be rewarded!

Season 14 is coming to an end as early as two weeks from now. On that day, we’ll begin the process of determining end-of-season reward eligibility, which could take up to two weeks to complete.

Qualifying players should note the following in order to ensure you receive your just rewards:

  • Please do not transfer your characters to another realm or faction until after Season 14 has ended.
  • Award distribution for Season 14, including titles and mounts, could take up to two weeks after the season ends, though our goal is to finish in one.
  • Only players who have a rating of 1,000 or better are considered when calculating rewards.

At the end of the season, Conquest Points will be converted into Honor Points, and any Honor above 4,000 will be converted into in-game currency at a rate of 35 silver per point. There are a few other things to keep in mind once the season ends:

  • The Honor Points cap will remain at 4,000.
  • All Season 14 items will have their costs converted into Honor Points equivalent to their previous Conquest Points cost, with the exception of any items that have a rating requirement.
  • Season 14 items with rating requirements will no longer be available for purchase.

Season 15 Arenas and Rated Battlegrounds will begin approximately one week after the end of Season 14, and all Personal Ratings will be reset at the same time. Also note that Arena and Rated Battleground matches will not be available during the break between seasons. Once Season 15 begins, players will battle for the right to equip Prideful Gladiator gear, the most powerful PvP gear in game to date with an Item Level of 550.

Lastly, as of the beginning of Season 14, PvP players no longer needed to join or create an Arena team to compete. You can find more information about this earlier change in our Patch 5.4 Arena Update blog.

 

Blizzarre Auctions: Warcraft Products – Feb 2014

Over the years, I have been messaged by fans who reach out to me to say thanks and to keep up the good work. Especially, the Blizzard Licensed Products coverage. I have covered several eBay listings from time to time, and they have gotten popular. I’m adding a new section named Blizzarre Auctions to showcase some of the best picks of the week.

I was surprised to find a now rare collection of Tokyopop Warcraft Manga Lot in auction. Note: The Death Knight book has a tear in one of the first pages.

Tokyopop Warcraft Manga Collection

This lot contains 11 manga books consisting of the following items:

  • World of Warcraft Legends Vol. 1-5
  • Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy – DragonHunt
  • Warcraft: The Sunwell Trilogy – Ghostlands
  • World of Warcraft: Mage
  • World of Warcraft: Shaman
  • World of Warcraft: Death Knight

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2002 Blizzard-Employee World of Warcraft L-Silk Shirt

The really bizarre item in auction right now is the 2002 World of Warcraft Blizzard Employee L-Silk Shirt with a whooping $429 [Buy it Now] price tag.

The bottom of the shirt reads Blizzard Entertainment and also has the artist’s signature. Justin Thavirat was a World of Warcraft (2004) lead artist and credited as an artist in StarCraft (1998), Diablo (1996), and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness (1995) and their collective expansions. Justin also got a special thanks credit in the South Park (TV Series) Episode: Make Love, Not Warcraft (2006).

Now, I don’t know if this shirt — at that price tag — should be worn. I’d treat it as a collectible piece of art. Make sure to frame it.

BlizzCon 2013 Kerrigan, Diablo, Arthas Cute But Deadly Figures

There is a Cute But Deadly collection in auction right now. The Blizzcon 2013 Exclusive Kerrigan Diablo Arthas Figures is tagged as “A brand-new, unused, unopened, undamaged item”. The current bid as of this posting is $20 with only 4 bidders (Might change soon). Be swift as this one is expiring on Feb 06, 2014 10:58pm PST.

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Blizzard SDCC 2013 World of Warcraft Mini Sylvanas Figure

Another gem in auction is the Blizzard SDCC 2013 World of Warcraft Mini Sylvanas. This was a San Diego Comic Con 2013 Exclusive item and only 2500 were created for the event. The current bid is $50 and might increase over the next days. The listing expires on Feb 06, 2014 at 9pm PST.

BlizzCon 2013 Exclusive Hearthstone Collector’s Mug

A bit sleepy? How about a nice cup of coffee on your Blizzcon 2013 Exclusive Hearthstone Collectors Mug ? The listing says: “This product has never been used and in immaculate condition. Make your friends jealous as you stream your games online sipping from this timeless piece knowing only the most elite of elites drink from the same hearthstone masterpiece collection”. The current bid is: $10.50 and expires on Feb 07, 2014 5:30pm PST.

Blizzard Stream Awards Powered by Twitch

Blizzard Entertainment recently announced the Blizzard Stream Awards will run until February 5th. All you have to do is to browse through the categories and place a vote.

The nominees will have the opportunity to win prizes from a pool of approximately $45,000.

2013 was a great year for the Twitch streaming community, and many Twitch streamers have dedicated themselves to creating unique content based on Blizzard games. In recognition of their efforts, Blizzard is proud to announce the 2013 Blizzard Stream Awards powered by Twitch. These awards will provide recognition and cash prizes for the best Blizzard content streamers of 2013.

Award nominees will be announced on Thursday, January 30, and award winners will be announced on Friday, February 7, right here on Blizzard’s official community sites and on Blog.Twitch.tv.

For a list of awards categories and to learn how the 2013 Blizzard Stream Awards powered by Twitch works, check out the breakdown below. — source

 

PvP On/Off Toggle Coming in Warlords of Draenor

Bashiok revealed there are plans to add a PvP on/off toggle in Warlords of Draenor for PvE realms. That means flagged players can no longer mount up and stand on an NPC to force players to get PvP flagged accidentally; and can PvP only if the player wishes to participate. In some cases, the PvP system would flag a player out of the blue.

The new PvP on/off toggle system is quite a load of work — it’s basically rewriting the PvP systems from scratch.

Bashiok: Well, I understand where you’re coming from, but flagging as a PvE character is based on a player’s action to flag themselves (even if it’s on accident), so I’m not sure it’s us making you PvP. The systems that can cause someone to flag can absolutely at times be involuntary, which is notably frustrating.

In any case we are continuing toward a goal of a PvP on/off toggle for players on PvE realms to be added in Warlords of Draenor, which would absolutely and in all situations allow someone to refrain from becoming flagged regardless of their actions. Heals toward flagged players would fail, coalescing to PvP realms wouldn’t be possible, misclicks and AoE’s would never damage a flagged opponent, etc. It’s actually quite a bit of work because of all the systems involved, but it’s still something we think PvE players should have, and how the game should work for them.

 

World of Warcraft Infographics Revelation

wow-inforgraphic-1-28-2014Blizzard Entertainment recently unveiled a plethora of private information never shared before with the community through an extensive infographics.

For example:

Throughout 2004 – 2013, there have been 100 millions unique lifetime players (including trial accounts). Some new players come, some players leave, but in average that’s how many players have landed on Azeroth. Of course, would be interesting to learn how many of these accounts were multi-boxers.

100 millions is a mind-boggling number. 100 millions is the approximate combined population of Germany, Belarus and Sweden. Or two times the population of South Korea.

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