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11-06-05, 12:24 PM   #21
Norek
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Thanks Cair, looks like you all had a great time, and from reading I just found out your also Canadian lol, musta been fun making that trip, wish I coulda went but I can only guess at how much it costed you ><
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11-06-05, 01:30 PM   #22
Zweider
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I really got to make it there next year!
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11-06-05, 01:40 PM   #23
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I had an absolute blast. It was worth every cent I paid and all the hours of traveling I put in to be able to actually meet so many folks face to face, to hang out and just chill. Dolby, Kudane, Leah, Kaelten, Slouken, Lauren, Mirah, Iriel, Quutar, Silvershadow, John, Mark, Chris, Caydiem, yes even Sargeras. Getting to spend time with them ... wouldn't trade it for a thing. I wish I could have met more of you. Maybe next year.
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11-06-05, 07:46 PM   #24
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Okay ... Quutar was kind enough to give me his notes from the 'con, and permission to post them, so I can now post something with a bit more meat to it:

Notes from Blizzcon, as observed by Quutar

Interesting quote from the line to get in:

“WTB Murloc pet… $30!”

Opening ceremonies

The opening started with the president of blizzard doing a future talk… talking about how good things will be. This was the first Blizzcon, and got 8,000 people in attendance. He loves the fans, blah blah blah. The Zerg are playable in the Ghost multi player, and other Ghost things that I did not pay much attention to.

The name of the expansion is the “Burning Crusade”. The producer for WoW came on, and talked about community. The community of WoW is what makes it strong; In the future… for the free “patches” they will be adding
  • Noxtramus (sp?) (The place above Stratholme)
  • Linked Auction Houses in all major cities (HUGE cheer)
  • Ahn’Qiraj (sp?)
  • Weather effects… real effects, not just pretty fluff
And the highlights from the expansion was
  • Burning Crusade
  • Blood Elves for Horde
  • Primarily in outland, through the dark portal
  • Medhiva(sp?) Tower
  • Caverns of Time
  • The Black Temple where you will fight and kill Illdian
  • Flying mounts in the outlands
  • Gem Crafting/socketed Items… new profession
They then showed a demo movie for the new expansion. It was a lot of concept sketches that looked awesome… some in game scenes from Medhevas(sp?) tower, and from the Blood Elf starting area

The burning legion is exacting revenge on the people beyond the dark portal. They are punishing the outland. The concept art… looks awesome.

The caverns of time will deal with the lore of WoW. Three instances listed were:
  • The raising of thrall, before he became war chief… something about Hillsbrand
  • The opening of the dark portal for the very first time
  • The defense of the world tree… final battle in War3
And… the level cap is raised to level 70. Talking to a blizzard employee afterwards (they had a “B” on their badge)… they will be giving us ten more talent points… and increasing the “tree” to a 41 point talent. No details were giving on the filling in from 31 to 41… but the idea is one of balance… if someone gets the 41… they can’t have a 21 from another tree…
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Last edited by Cairenn : 11-06-05 at 08:27 PM.
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11-06-05, 07:50 PM   #25
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Raid Panel

Definition of a raid: Entrance into another territory for phat l00t.

They focus on the end game for raids. “Heat only rises” which means… I think… that they have to keep things going up and harder, since the challenges have to remain. Raid targets provide something to aspire to… something that makes the world feel bigger, even if you don’t do the raids, you hear about them.

Low level raids are not really their focus. It is possible to ten man the dead mines at level 15… but they don’t focus on balancing it for that.

The 1% myth. They talked about how on the forums they are flamed for making “content” that only 1% of their player base is playing. According to blizzard, during the week… during peek hours… at any one time there is
  • 500 Molten Core instances
  • 1500 Onyxia instances
  • 250 BWL instances
  • 700 Zul’Gurub instances
All going at the same time. If you consider that this is all week long (for instance 800 MC on weeknights) that is far more than 1% of their gaming population. This is for the American servers only… and you should keep in mind the raid lockouts… which means that many of these people won’t be doing the same instance on other days.

Onyxia was born August 13 2004. She was the first end game raid targeted instance/mob for WoW. She was designed to break the mold for previous games raid encounters. She borrowed “stages” from other RPG games and brought them into WoW. Her stages, as described by blizzard were:
  • Introduction
  • She can fly!
  • All hell breaks lose
Onyxia became a template for the mindset of later raids. They ask themselves for each raid
  • what should each class be doing
  • Mix things up, try not to keep it static
  • Have a duration in mind
  • Pacing is important
  • Keep Challenging the player
  • Raise the bar
There was some discussion about “smart” mobs. Nefarion, in Oobers, says to go after the one in the skirt, but when you finally fight him, he gets tanked like normal. Where are the smart mobs that go after healers first? That use smart tactics? Simple answer:

“We can kill you any time we want!”

A smart raid boss is not fun. Killing the player is easy, challenging the player is hard.


They had some interesting stats up. In a one week period… the most deadly raid bosses were
  • Vaelstraz(sp?) 24,182
  • Bloodlord 11,242
  • Firemaw 10,363
Then the most deadly “mobs” in the game outside of raid bosses
  • Gadjetstan Bruiser 19,254
  • Defias Pillager 17,162
  • Tauren Mill Death Guard 8,298
Testing the raids is very hard. A guild that works together will do better than a pickup raid almost always. Previously, internal testing was basically done via pickups. They would get some internal testers, CMs, and other blizzard employees… all of which are very good raiders on their own, and have them test things out. The problem was that all of these people were not used to raiding together… so they are working on a “Strike Raid Team” of dedicated raiders. A group of employees who test raid content… and work together… mimicking a guild.


Blackwing Lair was not put on the public test realm at the request of the player base. They wanted to be surprised… and well… it was a mistake. Zul’Gurub was in the PTR, and the difference showed… all future raid instances will be on the PTR.


WoW was in Alpha/Beta for over a year. The average turn round now for content is 3-8 weeks. That is why the older stuff is far more polished than the new stuff.


The CDC (Center for Disease Control) in Atlanta contacted blizzard about the ZG plague in the game. The CDC had read that Blizzard had simulated a plague spreading through the world, and was interested in how they simulated it. They were disappointed when they found out it was a bug.


They also previewed some of the raid content. Ahn’Qiraj was the focus of the preview. There is going to be a massive war with the Qiraj, and it will involve the entire server. Previous raid locations were bereft of quests, that is going to change with AQ. There will be a large amount of quests interwoven with the raid instances. Story is highly important with all new raid instances coming out, AQ being the first with this it seems.


AQ will require a world event to open. Both sides, alliance and horde have to complete “stuff” to open the gates. Once they are opened, then they are forever opened, it’s a permanent server change. All level ranges will be involved, as there will be supply gather and processing quests for the lower levels, and stuff ranging the spectrum. One side and/or the other will have to gather the four parts to a scepter to open the gates. It will take the average server 3 weeks to open it. If nobody does stuff, eventually the gate will open on its own..
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11-06-05, 07:52 PM   #26
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The 20 man instance of AQ is an outdoor instance at the difficulty level of ZG. It is an exterior instance and will be non linear, just like ZG.

The 40 man instance of AQ is HUGE. They showed a scale map of the 40 man, and showed the cathedral section of the scarlet monastery. The cathedral section fit inside of one of the boss rooms. They also showed some play scenes (one of the devs hopped on the computer and explored with an invulnerable dwarf)… and it looks beautiful… and creepy. It sets the mood, and just makes you feel like the minuscule invaders.

They showed the map of the Naxxram(sp?) which is the instance above Stratholme. It will have multiple floors. I think I saw they had multiple wings, and that is something that blizzard wants to move to for future dungeons.

They are really pleased with the “wing” experience with dungeons. A group can do a single wing, and feel accomplishment.

Kazzazhan (sp?) Medhiva’s tower is going to be a 10 man raid instance. It is massive, larger than all of Blackrock Spire (upper and lower) combined. The opera house inside of it was very cool.

The caverns of time will have 4 instances. Two normal instances, one battle ground, and one battle of Mount Hijal from the end of WC3.

Tempest keep was talked about. It is the home of Kael’Thalas (sp?) and will have 4 wings. There will be three 5 man wings, and one raid wing at the level of Molten Core.

Hellfire Citadel is the home of Magtheredon (sp?). It will be modeled like Onyxia… a few trash mobs, then right to the boss.

Illdian will be the final boss of the black temple in the outlands. He is the big bad boss that is planned for the expansion… expect him to require 40 level 70 players.

The ultimate goal of the raid team is to keep hard core raiders busy all week. They want to provide a menu of raids available, making the raid lockout a background issue, since there are so many to choose from that by the time you get back to raid XXX, its timer is up anyway.

Linear progression is no longer desired in raids. One example of this was Onyxia->BWL where her cape is needed… I think they listed another… but I don’t remember what it was.

Smaller raid sizes are planned in the future… they want to make more 10 and 20 man instances. They will still add 40… but the focus will be on 10 and 20 man instances for the raid team.

The dire Maul tribute idea they like a lot. It provides at least two ways to approach and experience the same raid. Expect them to do similar things in the future with multiple ways to play a dungeon besides just killing all that walks.

Q:“How will level 70 effect current epic gear?”
A:”You will have a head start on the new stuff”

Itemization was addressed. Items for specific builds is lacking, and they plan on adding more. They will be, eventually, adding stuff for specific builds… like more fire mage gear, more shadow priest gear… things like that.

The big raid change

The biggest, to me, change they said they are doing… probably in the 1.9 patch, is how they handle the raid lockout timer. Currently, the timer expires in XX amount of hours/days after the first boss kill. They are going to be moving that to a calendar system. For instance, molten core would reset on Tuesday during server maintenance for everybody… even if you entered it for the first time on Monday. It means that all the instances will reset at certain times… not a set time after you first kill a boss. I am not sure if this is a good or bad thing. This also was not something they were “thinking of” but something that they are doing soon.

The idea of loot tokens, like with ZG was brought up in a question. Blizzard really likes the tokens more than the pure random drop like BWL/MC. Expect them to move to things like that for all future set pieces. They would have implemented something like that before, except that the quest department was to busy. Its time vs effort.

The random seed for loot is random. It is not seeded from the raid leader, or who ever enters the raid first. There is no mystic voodoo on what loot drops when. They did a two week study on what loot actually did drop, and found it to be random and approximately average… the way it was supposed to be.

They will be adding more scripted encounters in raids… they really like them a lot.


Any thoughts on cross faction cooperation should be squashed. More horde vs alliance in the future… the two sides will hate each other more and more

What is the role of druids in a raid? It was said that each class is tasked and thought about when they design encounters… how is druids considered. They added more crowd control into encounters to compliment druids, and are going to add in the future times where a feral druid is needed. But for now, we are healers with unique crowd control for encounters.

Mods where discussed. Blizzard looks at the top mods found on curse gaming, and evaluates each one. Does this mod provide functionality that is sorely lacking from the base UI, and should it be implemented. Does this mod do something we don’t want it to, and should we remove that functionality from the API. Is the mod great, but purely 3rd party and should stay as such. They basically adjust things based on the players needs.

A quick aside… thunder clap was mentioned in a way that made it sound like it works on bosses… can anybody test this?

Rogues in instances was brought up. They acknowledge that there is not much for a rogue to do in earlier instances, which is why they added traps to BWL. In the future they will do more for the special abilities of the various classes. As far as rogues being vulnerable to AE attacks, they are doing more directional AE attacks… cores and such, as not to decimated rogues as often.


They want skill to be more important than gear and level.
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Last edited by Cairenn : 11-06-05 at 07:55 PM.
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11-06-05, 07:57 PM   #27
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Items/Professions Panel

20 million items are crafted each day. Number one is the copper bar, number two is the heavy rune cloth bandage. They want professions to be simultaneous, be done while questing, and be for everybody.


They listed some barriers to professions that they avoided.
  • Complex invention (you just make the stuff, no complication)
  • Repetitive behavior. (to make one item should not be a grind…)
  • Scary interface (click and make)
  • Focus on item creation
  • Creation failure (it does not fail and you lose your materials)
  • Item quality (if you can make it, you make it at full quality)
  • Items need to be fun to make
Not quiet sure the explanation on all of them, since I don’t like the crafting interface all that much. But overall it was an explanation on why the current crafting system is the way it is, something to be simple, accessible, and intuitive.


They are going to be adding more gear with a random enchant… like wild leather and green lens.


They are adding more consumable items

They allow tradesmen to differentiate themselves through world drops, specialization, and other methods. Specialization is obvious, but the world drops was surprising. Basically the patterns that have rare drops are there to set apart one crafter who has it, from another.

They want to let the hardcore players shine, to reward the hard core players. Enchanting is considered the hardest core of the hard core professions. They have no plans on making “enchanting crystals” allowing enchanters to sell their enchants on the AH. Having to spam the trade channel in the cities is a conscious choice, and intentional. They will be adding something to the enchanter for the auction house.

Wizzard oil. There is at least two types of wizard oil, which acts on weapons just like sharpening stones. One of the adds +24 to spell damage and healing to a weapon for 30 minutes… another adds to mana regen. There are consumables, and applied to the spell casters weapon.

Each profession is supposed to cover different needs, no duplication. An example was the “scribe” profession people ask for. The ability to make the scrolls of agility and the like. The problem is that is what alchemy does, so the scribe won’t be made.

The future of fishing looks interesting. Macro/bot fishing was a big upheaval early in the game, and caused many of the current adjustments. The biggest change for fishing is the targeted fishing, like in the tournaments. They will be doing that for all fishing in the future. There will be schools of oily blackmouth, schools of stonescale eels, shipwrecked items… that you target and fish for. They want to make fishing use nodes, just like herbalism and mining.

Dis enchanting items are “cool” according to the items person. It allows a useless item to become useful. In the future, when you dis enchant an epic (level 60 epic or any epic was not said)… you will get a nexus crystal instead of a shard. There will be new very powerful enchants that use these crystals.

The expansion will add specializations to tailoring and alchemy. Transmutation was one specialty in alchemy. Jewel crafting will be added also. It will allow people to make rings and necklaces, crowns and “gems” for inserting into socket able items.

When ever a item is made, four questions are asked
  • Who is it for
  • What else is available
  • What makes it compelling
  • How difficult is it to obtain
There is a math formula on how items are made, when balancing the various stats and abilities. It is item level and quality which is put together to find what stats it can have. The slot also matters, with some slots getting more than others. Special abilities also cost stat points. 1% crit cost 14, while 1% dodge costs 12 stat points. Spreading stats allows for a higher overall value. But even with this hidden formula… the item creators are allowed to fudge things.

Design flows into art. When something is designed, then the concept art is made for
that item


In 1.9 there will be a lot of new procs for casters. Spell casters are getting a massive itemization boost in 1.9. There was one proc on a weapon that when ever a successful spell cast, there is a chance to lower the targets resistances to the spell. There is a lot of caster itemizations coming.

Socketable items are a concession to the player. They will allow the players to pick and choose the abilities that they find important, fitting the gear they have to their playing style. Gems will be available through various ways. Crafted, quest, and drops.

The tier two art is very very nice. The paladin art is incredible… make up for all the banana jokes ever. The tier two items will undergo a review stat wise… but mainly for the set bonuses… the stats for the items will not likely change.

There will not be a caster legendary any time soon. If they make a caster legendary item, they will have to make one that all casters (except hunters!!!! Specifically) would want and could use.

Do not expect any epic quest items for other classes individually any time soon. The current epic quest items for hunters and priests where a mistake. There are items in AQ that are better than both of the epic quest items for those classes. If they do make new epic weapon quests… they will release all 9 at the same time.

Warlock shard bags are a long way off.
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11-06-05, 08:00 PM   #28
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Expansion Playable Demo

I did not get a chance to play the demo yet… the line was huge and I only had 30 minutes before the next panel. I did get to ask some questions, and watched some blood elves play. First off… the blood elves are close to night elves in model and movement, but there are a lot of subtle differences that make them two races. First off… they don’t flip when they jump. Occasionally when you jump… you spin in a circle. The starting area and the races are very bright. The playable classes for the blood elves are Warrior, Warlock, Mage, and Priest.


Dungeon Panel

(THIS IS NOT FOR RAIDS, but mainly the 5 man instances)

With the dungeons, the level range is the first choice of the developer. The first time they expect the players to begin venturing into dungeons is level 15. The best loot and experience is supposed to come from dungeons. For the gear, they mostly got that right, but for the experience, they messed up slightly. Mathematically it is supposed to be better, experience wise, to grind dungeon 5 mans… but they failed to take into account the chaos of dealing with 4 other people, the amount of time to travel to the dungeons, and the time to form the groups. Dungeons are supposed to have an epic sense to them. Elite mobs were originally added for dungeons, giving the designers a way to boost the combat potential of the mobs up, with out messing with the balance of levels and resistances.


Players want a sense of progression in a dungeon. They want to feel that they have a large goal, and easily understandable “mini goals”, or bosses on the way.


Designers want to vary the points of interest through a dungeon. The dungeon should have a unified theme or style, but the background should not feel cookie cutter.

They like to mix up the pulls. Not every pull should be exactly identical. They want the strategy to have to adjust to the moment, and for the players to have to adapt… not go /afk or /pizza.

They want to make groups move through the dungeon. “Pulling” is a very valid and smart tactic, according to the dungeon designer. What he did not want was things from other games… where the healers and main part setup camp at the beginning of the dungeon, and the pullers basically feed all the mobs in the dungeon back to the original safe point. He wanted the full party to explore through the dungeon with the pullers.

Every class needs places to shine. Warlocks shine in Dire Maul and Marudon, being able to banish one demon and enslave another, for example.

Boss pacing is important. There should be bosses spaced evenly through the progression of the dungeon. Red side strath was an example of how they failed at this.

They want to let skilled players shine, by adding short cuts and hidden buffs. This is important! They know about the shortcut in lower black rock spire, and approve of smart players using it. They know about getting buffs from mind controlled mobs, and put those there specifically as hidden treats and bonuses for smart players. They specifically mentioned the mind controlled mobs in more details, saying how it was one of his favorite ways to reward creative players was to put great buffs on various mind controllable mobs, they were not accidental. The fire buff in black rock spire was put there intentionally, and is not an exploit, but instead a valid and encouraged strategy. Apparently, one GM, way back when, did not have the right info, and it has been corrected.

Stealthing through a dungeon is a completely valid tactic. They are aware of the rogues and druids ability to stealth, and the designer gave the example of three rogues and two druids stealthing through a dungeon and killing each boss as a smart and valid thing to do. The 5 instance cap per hour was added to “balance” stealth runs, but they are still allowed and encouraged.

Instancing was heavily implemented for a couple of reasons
  • Player collision (players don’t grief bosses)
  • The boss is always up
  • Being able to script encounters (this was a big one)
  • Best elements of a traditional RPG can be integrated
The public areas provide a freely movable area… to make sure the players never feel trapped in pockets. There is content added to these public area to reinforce that the players have a choice, and are not forced into the instances.

Micro dungeons are scattered through out the lands. These are basically the non instanced caves, towers, and other places, normally used in quests. They typically have a single named boss, and are not meant to force the player to party, but to encourage it. The instanced dungeons are meant to force partying

Dungeon caps were added, mainly due to the path of least resistance. Dungeons are tuned and seeded based on the amount of players envisioned for each, and the ability to zerg a dungeon makes the experience easier, less of a challenge. When the design cap is exceeded, the perception of the dungeon goes down. With a smaller group, each player feels more important. This was a tough choice, but one that was overall good for the game.

What is interesting… Oobers is considered a 10 man instance as far as tuning is concerned. A story was told about how when the designer is playing on the public realms anonymously, he was in a UBRS group… that would not move until they filled all 15 slots. He kept trying to hint that the 11 people they had at the time would be fine… but could not outright say it with out blowing his cover.
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11-06-05, 08:02 PM   #29
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One big lesson they learned is to keep a very tight level range in the dungeon. Deadmines was a big example of how they failed with this. The beginning of the dungeon is level 14 I believe, while the end is level 22. The players that find the beginning a challenge will fail at the end… and players who find the end a challenge will breeze through the beginning.

They apparently have fallen in loved with the winged design for dungeons. Winged dungeons allow you to define you own style of playing. If you want to do only one wing, you can easily and still have a sense of accomplishment. If you clear all the wings, it’s a grand thing, and you feel that you have done something bigger and better. Scarlet Monastery and Dire Maul were listed and successful examples of winged instances. Uldaman, Gnomeragon, and Stratholme were listed as the failed attempts at winged instances.

The level range of the dungeons is also a huge consideration for the design of the dungeon. A lower level dungeon is primarily a quest and XP source for the players. They will quest inside of it, for short term items and for experience, but quickly move beyond it. Higher end dungeons are primarily for loot, and expected to be ransacked again, and again, and again, and again.

They wanted each level range to have a choice of dungeons available to the player. The player as they progress should have 3-4 dungeons to choose from, and not be forced into the same one all the time.

They also said that they enjoy the random bosses, such as the arena in BRD, and will be implementing things like that more and more.

There is 4 phases when designing a dungeon
  • Concept
  • Design and Layout
  • Spawn and Scripting
  • Play Testing
The concept is the first part, and many times directed from the lore director. “I need a dungeon inside of a volcano”. The beginning of any design is the who/where/why questions. Who is the dungeon for? Where is the dungeon at, and why is this dungeon being designed. The art team comes up with some concept sketches, and the designers brain storm various cool ideas.

Design and layout is the second phase. They figure out where the bosses are, figuring out how they want the pacing. They add in various points of interest, things that are in the background, but important for story or ambiance. The quest and trade skill team is engaged, making the quests and trade skill items, recipes, and “stuff” an integral part. BRD with the dark forge and dark anvil was an example of the trade skill team integration.

Once they are beginning to flesh things out, they start with a 2D model of the instance. This allows them to get a sense of flow and placement for the mobs. It allows them to get their first ideas down, and to have something to work with the art team with.

The second phase is a low polygon version of the map. This is a simple set off blocks and the like, done to specifically test scale and play feel. A 2d map can be deceiving for scale and visual issues, the 3d map compensates for this.

The final step in the design and layout is passing the items to the art team for them to finish the assets and visual design. Some of the images given here of unreleased dungeons was breath taking.

Spawning and scripting is the third phase of the dungeon. Here is where they place the creatures in the dungeon. Pathing and AI is designed for the creatures, as is the scripted encounters. This third phase is the longest of the four phases, and requires many iterative steps.

Spells and abilities of the mobs inside this new dungeon are added at this point. It is important to the designers that the bosses in a dungeon be unique, each a different challenge. Spells and abilities can be shared in a dungeon, to provide cohesion and a sense of belonging, but the individual details are tweaked to make the abilities different when they are shared.

The final phase is the play testing phase. This is hard because there is no way to adjust the time of this. A 4 hour dungeon takes 4 hours to beat, and can’t be condensed. Many important things are learned here. Bloodlord originally did not have a level cap, and during one play testing, made it to level 72. The public test realms are the final part of the play testing.

Player caps will be used extensively in the expansion pack. 5, 10, and 20 seam to be the sweet spots.

It was re iterated that stealth runs were not exploits, instead they are a smart use of abilities and skill.

They will be moving to small caps, and “tighter” dungeons to emphasize the player over the group. In a smaller group, the actions of one player are more critical.

3rd party UI mods are never considered when designing a dungeon or encounter. They do not count on anybody having any mod, and do not tune for them. Internal play testing is done with the stock UI.

The idea of Diablo style random dungeons was brought up, but was quickly nixed. The current dungeons are all hand crafted, each mob and each boss placed exactly where they want. There is no quality control in a random dungeon. They will be adding more and more random elements, but there will be no random dungeons in the forseeable future.
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11-06-05, 08:04 PM   #30
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Rest of the con

I had planned on attending the battle grounds panel… but hunger made me choose otherwise. I returned for the 7pm contests and mixer. The contests were a mix of brilliance, and pain… which is normal. The mixer afterwards was awkward and poorly planned. The designers and coders did not stand out versus the normal blizzard employees, and it was very hard to figure out who was who.

Overall the first day of Blizzcon felt more professional, but less friendly and inviting than the Anime cons I had attended in the past. This is not a bad thing, but mainly an observation.


Day two at Blizzcon

The day started a little differently from the previous day. The line, as normal, formed early. A local friend met me at the line into the convention. He was unable to buy tickets, the convention was sold out. As a favor, I let him borrow my badge for an hour (my first panel was at 11AM, the doors opened at 10AM) so he could buy some of the limited items for sale there and do a quick look around.

I ended up hanging out in front of the convention hall, in the area that apparently is the smoking area. I saw a person with “M” on the badge, and struck up a conversation. It was one of the German community managers from Europe. I did not get the name, my notepad was not out, I did feel like formally interviewing anybody. After a while, one of the English language reps for Europe arrived. It was fun talking to them, about the looks from the inside, the crap they go through, the fun, the all of being the “voices”. The largest group of native language players in Europe is the Germans it seams. More people play the English version, but that includes Spain, Italy, and the rest. The largest population of native speakers is the Germans.

We spoke about UI mods a bit… nothing specific or things I want to quote, but it was interesting. Localizations were brought up, and the difficulty of a fan (me) to get things translated… people want to use it in the languages… but its rare for people to want to do the work… or do it for more than one version… meh.

One of the press people from WoW Europe came by. A short American woman… she was “married to a Frenchie” so lived in Europe, and got a job there. She was very cool, and we talked a little bit about the convention, and the notes from the panels. Apparently WoW Europe is based in France, since Vivendi was able to get the better facilities there, or something along those lines.

Overall, the European community managers were very “accessible and human”… but they also were not as stressed out as the American ones where. I watched Caydiem (the only one I know by looks) run up and down stairs, bounce between moderating panels and dealing with “con crap”. I don’t know if the Euro CMs had as many responsibilities… but after the con (Sunday) I ran into Eyonix and Caydiem relaxing in front of the center… so I think that it was the stress of the con that rendered previously accessible and friendly CMs friendly.

I think something that might have helped referencing which Cms where who would be making shirts with the forum icons they use on the back. For any of the people who post on the forums maybe like block also? It might have been a lot of work, but it would then have given instant visibility to the people we interact with on a daily basis, and who we tend to crucify and blame for stuff out of their hands… on second thought I can see why they would not… ^_^

The realm meet up times for Sunday were later in the day, during the panels I reported on… so I never ended up making it to them. They fixed the “mixed up” meet up of the tables from the previous day… but alas… I missed today’s also.
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11-06-05, 08:05 PM   #31
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Art Panel

I was very late to the art panel, which I highly regret, but even then, I was able to get some information.

Many of the artists learn a lot while working at blizzard. The artists come in with various levels of skill (all of them far above me ^_^), but the merging of people means that skills and tricks are spread among the team, and they learn and challenge each other.

There was a lot of Starcraft: Ghost comments and questions… I did not record them, as my focus was squarely on WoW.

The lead artist does not draw as much as he used to anymore. The art staff is more communal then hierarchal.

There is a lot of interaction between the concept artist and the modeler. Many of the people do multiple jobs, modeling for this one, concept sketch for the other. There is a blending and merging, allowing people to know all sides of the process.

Body shape options was played with at some point during the development. The problem they had was that it interfered with the armor models and animations. It also interfered with the immersion. While it’s easy to imagine various body times or scales with humans, the other races provided “lore” problems… A fat night elf would not be fitting. A tall gnome… a short… or skinny tauren would also be out of place. It is something that they still think about, but not likely to be implemented in any foreseeable future.

The general art philosophy is “Less is more”.

Q: Why does Finkle’s Lava Dredger not glow when an enchantment is placed on it?
A: We don’t know yet.

The topic of tabards and chest armor was brought up. The artists spend a lot of time on the chest armor design, and we players cover that up with our tabards to show guild loyalty. With the current technology it is not feasible to show both, but they are interested into looking up different ideas for it. Some ideas thrown around was to make them into cloaks, to put them on shields, or to otherwise integrate the design of the tabard with out obscuring the art design of the underlying armor.

Sadly this was all I had from the art panel. I was only able to go for the end, but at least I had some information.

Walking around

After the art panel, I had an hour to goof off before the next panel. An intentional lunch break designed into the Blizzcon schedule. A quick grab of crappy pizza, and I walked around… to see what I could see. I started talking to random “B” and “M” badges… my quest for Soulken was pretty much given up, so I decided to talk to who ever would listen, and listen to what ever was told to me.

The line for the expansion was longer than an hour, so I again watched over the shoulders of those playing. A group of 20 uber equipped pickups made short work of the trash mobs in the outdoor AQ instance. They were not organized, but they were decked out in the best possible gear for each class. The super shield from Nafarion and the orange sword that is the wind elemental one was given to the warriors. The classes were predone level 60s, all with the tier 2 gear. These group of pickups were able to fight in the 20 man, with some difficulty. The organized ones, fully equipped as they were, stomped the instance.

Nobody in my view was taking on the 40 man instance, but what I saw looked fun. Enchanting is going to get some very nice recipes in 1.9 and there appears to be some new librams, or at least new effects that can be applied to the legs and helm.

I chatted with a random “M”. For reference… “M” was the all access pass, while “B” was blizzard employee. “P” was for press, and “S” was for staff of the conference. I was a “G” for general or guest. One person told me that “M” meant master, another that it meant media… either way the “M” was for the people with no limitations on their locations.

The random “M” that I chatted with works in hardware compliance. His job is to test the various video cards and make sure they work with the versions of WoW. It seams like a interesting job, and he gets access to the new video cards from the companies early for testing. Listening to his lamentations about windows 98 was actually amusing. I don’t blame him, I have tried to code for 98, it’s weird. The official drivers from the companies are the officially tested by blizzard ones, but when they have time, they do test the alternative drivers, such as Omega Drivers and others. The big “thing” is that these are not supported, and they don’t provide support for people who use them.

For their own good they do test these alternative drivers. Even though they are not supported, if they can find a conflict, they are able to stop one potential support call or problem, since a percent of the end users will use them anyway.

I talked to a couple “B”s and it was interesting seeing the various perspectives on the con. They seamed blown away by the fan response, and enjoyed the turn out, and the enthusiasm of crowds. Many where bewildered and seamed a bit out of place, feeling timid about the attention they were receiving for… as one said “just working for a company… one just like many others”.
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11-06-05, 08:07 PM   #32
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I settled into the Hall B, which seamed to by their main presentation area, a bit early. While there I struck up a conversation with two employees… ended up they were a senior GM and a GM that works for him. They were very guarded on the information they gave out. Very amusing actually, but it makes sense. A lot of the policy that guides the GMs is private and they did not want give it out. We talked a bit about technology and other things, a good conversation. I was able to glean that the GMs are more guided and limited by policy and procedure, rather than technology. As much “crap” that the GMs are subjected to in the forums, they did say that there is more good feedback than bad, more people helped than those that *****. The big difference is that the malcontents tend to be louder. The GMs, though guarded, where very human and approachable. They seamed to love their jobs, and wished they could tell us more about the details.


Character Class Panel

The character class panel was a fast paced panel. A massive amount of information in a short time. It would focus on four things.
  • Origin of the classes
  • Talent System
  • Future
  • Balance
The classes were designed with traditional RPGs in mind, along with the heroes from Warcraft 3. They wanted too use a lot of the traditional ideas from other games. If WoW went far to exotic, then people would not be able to relate to the classes.

They want to challenge the players.

When they decided to implement the classes they focused on a few things
  • concentrate on coolness
  • separation of roles
  • some classes did not make the cut
The Necromancer and the Death Knight classes did not make the cut.

They wanted to make sure that there was “concentrated coolness”. Every class needs to have a purpose. They don’t want much overlap.

Mage

The mage originally came from the Archmage and the Sorceress from Warcraft 3.

The idea of the class was a high damage class.

There was thought about summoning water elementals, I believe this ability came from Warcraft 3, but it was decided to not make the mage a pet class. A pet class would dilute the mage.

Mages originally had an ability called Chains of Ice. This was a single target shackle, and could be cast on multiple opponents. This ended up being incredibly overpowered and was removed or modified.

Crowd control went through a more conscious redesign. Previous to the removal of Chains of Ice, a mage was required for every instance run. The ability to immobilize all except for one enemy at a time made content trivialized. After this they reevaluated the crowd control methods of the game.

They spread out the CC among the classes. No one class would have a monopoly on crowd control. The CC was meant to be specialized, situational. Different classes are needed for the different CC, allowing each class with CC to shine in different places.

Paladin

The paladin is a direct version of the Warcraft 3 paladin.

The paladins are very defensive in nature

The paladins were meant to be easier to play than any classes. It was no accident or “mistake” but a carefully planed “entry level” class. The designers figured that the paladin would be the most appealing class for new players, and wanted to make sure they had an enjoyable experience.

The class was a constant struggle to balance complexity with stuff to do.

There is a balance between fighter priest verses a defender. The paladin is supposed to be the protector, the defender. The shield spells follow this. They are looking to add more interest to paladins.

Priest

The priest class came from Warcraft 3. I have not played many other MMOs, but I get the impression that they are more armored in other games. There was a big deal made that the priest is not armored like a “cleric”, but is a cloth wearing class. Because the priest class is very fragile, the developers were able to add more damage spells. An armored healer would not be able to do as much damage due to balance.

Originally the idea was for each side to have different priests. The idea of the undead to have the same priest as the alliance was “weird” at first. They wanted to differentiate the races. The separate priest classes did not work, and they implemented the racial spells.

In the expansion pack there will be more racial differentiation among the priests. The details of this was not given, but one thing was rather clear and not ambiguous… the priests of different races will be more different then they currently are after the expansion.
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11-06-05, 08:09 PM   #33
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Shaman

The shaman is a combination of the Witch Doctor, Shaman, and Farseerer class from Warcraft 3.

In lore, the shamans were powerful warriors. The problem with the lore is that the details changed a lot, there was not one definitive “Shaman”. The final Shaman was a combination of the Warcraft 3 classes merged together… then adjusted for balance. In lore the shamans were basically warriors, in game balance they are mages first, and fighters second.

The totems evolved. Originally shamans did not have any Totems. This was not found to be interesting, so they added Totems, which fit perfectly in with the lore.

Originally you could drop all of your totems, resulting in instances looking like a forest of little stumps, it was over powered. The portable forest was a problem also since players would leave the totems everywhere. They then scaled it down to one totem at a time, but it did not work, and was not fun to play.

Finally they grouped the totems around the elemental groupings, as it currently is, and the right balance between power and fun was achieved.

Warriors

Warriors come from D&D and pretty much any RPG. Originally warriors did not have the rage bar, and were watered down paladins. The class was purely based on its cool downs. Playing a warrior was like a metronome, when a cool down arrived, you used that ability and moved to the next. When they were looking for a more interesting way of doing it, the idea of the rage bar came from fighting games. The more a warrior does stuff, the more ability they get to use and spend.

Stances were also added to differentiate the class. Different stances where for different times, making the play style more about strategy instead of simple button clicking. Different stances gave different advantages, and provided different abilities.

Hunter

The hunters came from the Head Hunter, the Ranger, and the Huntress classes from Warcraft 3.

In beta they had a “focus” bar. This was a bar of energy to use, and it would fill up when they were holding still. So a hunter would have to run into position, then hold still while they gained “focus” to use their abilities. As cool and different as this sounds… it was not fun. They moved the hunter to a mana based system.

The hunters are primarily a ranged based class, and focuses on doing damage at range.

The pet focus of the hunter was meant to be different from the warlocks. A hunter should care about his/her pet. Show interest in the pets, name and take care of them. That is why there is the emphasis on happiness and other maintenance.

The different pets in the same group where not supposed to have different stats. If they did this, then every hunter would want the “best” pet, and you would get various cookie cutter hunters. They wanted the hunter to pick and choose the pet based on style and model, and then customize the pets after that.

Rogues

There was no Warcraft 3 rogue equivalent. It came from traditional RPGs. And originally it was called an Assassin. While the idea of the assassin was “coolness personified” and fit with one of the core ideas of the classed, it severally limited the focus of the class. They changed the name to rogue, and expanded the focus to encompass what it does now.

The rogues started like the warriors, with no energy, just cool downs. Like the warrior, something was desired to make this “different”, to stop the metronome of playing a cool down based class. The combo point system was the big addition. Instead of combos from other games, where you have to do certain moves in a row, they wanted their combo system to be flexible. The rogue opens up with a move, does a couple builders, then does a finisher… allowing the player to adapt and choose the combos to use.

Warlocks

The warlocks were from the orc warlocks in Warcraft 3. Mainly the warlocks came from lore, not from any specific class in the games. The emphasis is on the demonic roots of the warlocks, and gave them to the alliance for a friendly happy group to get some evil.

Warlocks are evil. A warlock is all about fire and shadow.

Demonic pets went through many iterations of design. They did not want to put a pet progression in, where you would trade up to the better and better pet. The pets were supposed to grow with you, and each pet is supposed to fill a role, even the imp is important at 60.

One of the original ideas was to put each pet on a timer… it would last 5 minutes, and had a 15 minute cool down. Forcing you to use different pets in serial. This was nixed, mainly because combat could last longer than the five minutes, and it removed the flexibility that the warlocks needed.

The pet bar was originally designed for warlocks. Controlling pets became a problem, and began to take up the UI bar of the warlock, who already was full with caster items. The pet bar allowed the warlock to better control the abilities of the pet, and borrowed a lot of the design elements from how the player controlled the heroes from Warcraft 3.

The pet bar ended up being used for the hunters, and for the other classes, to deal with auras and other things of that nature.
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11-06-05, 08:11 PM   #34
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Druid

Druids in WoW came from the War 3 Druid of the Claw, Druid of the Talon, and Keepers of the Grove. Druids were on the cutting room floor at first. The lore only allowed for male night elves to become druids, and the lore director was adamant about that. Eventually the druid was such a cool class, and filled such a needed role in the balance, that the lore was changed to allow them as a player class. As a note… all night elven sentinels… or warriors… are female if they are NPCs… and all night elf druids are male. The NPCs stick to the original lore.

The biggest power of the druids is their shape shifting. It is what makes them powerful, and is the class defining feature. Druids are the only true hybrid class, and the shape shifting is what enables that. The shape shifting was the vehicle used to make them the hybrid work.

Talent system

Originally there was a simple stat customization system to allow players to differentiate each other. When you leveled, you placed your stats where you wanted.

This was not desired, as it did not provide the game style they wanted, and did not provide the feedback to the player.

Early concepts of the talent system were based on a cost system. You have XXX talents points every level… and then you spent them on various talents… each costing a different amount… it looked like the spell interface. The flat modifiers and lousy end game scaling is what nixed this method quickly

After these first two, they took a page from Diablo 2, and went with a tree style progression. A limited pool of points was also desired, as having to pick and choose… to compromise... is what would set apart the different build styles. They also wanted the talents to be mostly passive, with some “gold medal” talents which became spells scattered around.

There was a lot of iterations of these basic ideas… each getting closer and closer to the current design. They wanted to focus on flexibility and expandability. They have plans on allowing the talent trees to expand downward… continually getting deeper, but not wider. When they go from level 70 to level 80 cap (eventually they will… said so)… they will keep growing the trees downwards. For instance… at level 70… someone can do 41/20… but you will never be able to get the best talent in one line, and the 21 in another.

Originally you could not respecc. It was a one time thing, and if you messed up, then you were screwed. After a while they saw the problem with this, but kept the price high, discouraging constant respeccing.

On a PvP realm… 60s end up respecting an average of 3.6 times. On a PvE realm… 2.8 times.

Class Balance

There is a lot of ways to balance things.

Raid, Solo, Group, PvE, PvP

And the roles and abilities need to have different focuses for each. Each one needs to feel challenging to the player, and for the game play.

Players can surprise the designers on the class roles. The designers originally envisioned paladins to be front line players in a large PvE raid… swinging swords and taking blows, not staying in the back healing and cleansing. The players can adjust the balance and concept of the classes.

Future

There will be more mechanics at levels 60-70. It won’t just be a rehash of the current spells, but more powerful. The current spells and abilities will be upgraded, but new ones will be added, and improved.

There will be an increase in the racial differences. The priest class was used as an example of the different races being a class, and they want to expand on this in all of the classes.

Heroes are still be worked on. There is no details or ETA, but it is something actively being worked on, and they want to do it in the spirit of Warcraft 3. “Do it right”

In the 1.9 patch, paladins will be re evaluated. The focus of the new change is to look into three types of paladins. The healer, the damage dealer, and the protector. There will also be more agro abilities or mechanics, allowing for paladins to main tank more. The seal and judgment system is going to undergo a heavy review. The big paladin news… there will be AE blessings:
  • 15 minute duration
  • The “group” will be based on class. Cast the AE might on a warrior, all warriors in that party/raid get it if they are in range
It was not said if the 15 minute duration was for all blessings, or just the AE ones. It was not said if the AE blessings were trainable, book based, or a talent. It was not said if the Ae blessings required a reagent.

The talent review of the paladins will follow the pattern of the druid's changes. A lot of items will be consolidated, giving more choice to the player. Abilities that are mutually exclusive will be merged, like cat and bear talents where. The abilities will be more consistent in their flow.

The paladin will have more dps, at the expense of some of its obscene survivability. A talent preview will be up when they are more comfortable of the results.

Casters will be getting a lot of upgrades in the future through gear. “Spell penetration” and other proc abilities will be added to gear. The effect of +dmg to items is being looked at, to keep the damage progression in line with a rogues

Priests are the masters of agro control. No other class is able to control and remove agro as much as a priest. A warrior is good, but does not have the fine control a good priest has. Other classes won’t have the priests agro control, it’s a class defining feature.

Why are the persons abilities in MC not usable, instead of just auto attack? Mainly balance. Why should a priest be able to blow all of someone’s cool downs. As far as NPCs doing that… they have special NPC powers.
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11-06-05, 08:13 PM   #35
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Battlegrounds

Philosophy of Design

· Destination for PvP Rewards.
· Object based team PvP
· Reinforce the Horde vs. Alliance conflict. This conflict is a core concept of WoW. The designers wanted to enhance the sense of conflict.
· Warcraft 3 meets Battlefield 1942. You get the strategy of War3 with the single unit control of BF1942
· Must compliment the game world. Lore and game play must integrate. It must fit into the are it is placed in.
· Eventually the actions inside the battlegrounds will effect the outside world. The general game world will be buffed or adjusted based on the actions. They don't know when yet, as the details are still being worked on. They want the results of a battleground to feel meaningful.

Alterac Valley

Alterac valley was the first battleground worked on. It went through a lot of changes to get to the form we see today.

The original valley was a non instanced persistent zone, like the tram system. The good thing with this, is that battles would be meaningful, as the results of the battle would be reflected on everybody who entered this zone. The largest downside is that you could not control or predict how many people would go into it, reflecting the population imbalances to greatly.

Quests and NPCs were sprinkled through out the zone to persuade other players to enter the zone.

Winter Axe Hold, a large troll section with bosses and awesome loot was removed from the zone.

Due to the popularity of the battlegrounds, the worry of server stability, and the demand for balance... it became an instance.

They learned quiet a few things from Alterac Valley.

· Dying to players is ok... Dying to NPCs is bad. They toned down the power of the NPCs.
· Quest objectives need to meet the battle goal as a whole. Quests, like Korrak, did not contribute to the winning or losing of the battleground.
· Don't make the players compete for loot in the battleground. They made the turn in tokens in AV shared faction when they found people loot stealing from other players.
· Capture and respawn points need to be further apart from each other. Graveyard zerg camping is a very bad thing. Clusters in the graveyards were bad.
· An attainable resolution in a reasonable amount of time to play.

Ashazara Crater was put on hold when AV was done. It was 3-4 weeks behind AV... but repeated all of the mistakes from AV. It was the same flaws and ideas.

The Lunchtime Battleground

· Wanted to have a short battle.
· Beat in the time of a lunch break
· No quests, no NPCs, one objective
· Small teams, non epic. The worth of a single player is diluted in 40v40
· Geographically a small map


They made Warsong Gulch.

They started prototyping WSG very early. This was something new from AV where they did not test things until later. The early testing ended up being a awesome idea.

During plays testing they tried different styles and ideas, but capture the flag fit the best

They made the symmetrical bases, a “balance”, since in a small battle, any terrain differences or imbalances would be magnified. No external focus, its all about the players.

There was a lot of thought put into the design. A staffer who did a lot of Quake 3 mods and I think was famous for them??? finished up the bases and designs.

After prototyping they tried to find where it would fit in the world. They wanted to place it somewhere on the border of conflict, Not in a max level zone, and somewhere very accessible.

The biggest problem with WSA is that the graveyards are to close to the flags. They wished they had moved them further back, making the clearing of the base worth something.

“Birth of the Zerg”... the current WSG strat of a 10v10 zerg was unexpected by the developers. On the test server, they did a balanced strat, of 3-4 on defense with the rest on offense. On the live realms, it started this way, but quickly changed to the zerg that is currently the winning strat in the game... two groups of 10v10 grab each others flag... meet in the middle to fight.

Casual can turn hardcore. This was originally meant to be a casual game, something done easy. They have watched some of the WSG games last two hours.

WSG is very gear dependent.

Losing was not fun... you (originally) got nothing at all for losing.
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11-06-05, 08:15 PM   #36
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The Gurabashi Catacombs

This was to be third battleground. It was a death match arena. In Stranglethorn Vale, it was below the free-for-all arena.

During the early prototyping (they learned with WSG) it was made into a 5v5 single elimination death match fight. This turned out to be very unfun to the healers, while the rogues loved it.

Thanks to the early prototyping, they quickly found this problem and stopped work. Some ideas sound great at the time they are said... but fail in practice. They learned a lot from this failed battleground.

WoW is not a First Person Shooter. They types of games and rules in those do not always translate. In WoW the level and gear should play some effect in the battle, where in a FPS... its all about skill. In a Fps all enemy players start equal to your self. There is no long one shot kills that are so much fun in a FPS.

Objectives are key in any battleground. Players will kill each other for no reason, the battleground needs to provide more, an objective... a reason for killing.

This battleground is on hold for now, maybe further down the road it will be looked at.

Arathi Basin

They wanted to get back to the design roots with this battleground.

They wanted this to be more players than WSG. Originally it was 30v30, but through play testing, 15v15 felt right.

It was to have a simple design. Accessible and understandable. The locations were “the farm”, “the mill”. No fancy names were used, and the entire battleground was meant to be visible in once glance.

There had to be clear points of interest. Each location was unique, and easy to spot and move to. The early prototyping was used here, and some locations were moved around.

This was also the first battleground to reward the losers also. The winners got a lot more, but the losers received something for their effort. This was brought into the other battlegrounds.

Future

They are working on new ways to get a critical mass... a way to start at least one instance. If one instance is running, more people tend to sign up for the queues, a self fulfilling cycle.

Better opponent matching. Pickups were getting stomped very often by organized groups. They would like to match opponents by skill, history, and organization.

They also want people to choose the battlegrounds based on game play, not in the honored gained. Some people select the battleground that will net them the maximum honor per hour. AB is the #1 for this. Their goal is to even out the honor progression on each BG... so the honor per hour will be equivalent, and you choose the game that is fun.

The big change they want to do is have the battlegrounds effect the outside world. Huge wins in the various battlegrounds would trigger various world events. Victories might grant buffs, resources, or other things. They want the prowess of a faction or side in the battlegrounds to translate over.

They are considering cross server battlegrounds. It would soften the imbalance issues. The issue of honor is the biggest problem. Honor is a competition between people of your alliance on your server.

A world event might trigger a battleground. Some questing or world event might trigger a huge battle, which the people could then join.

In 1.9 they are looking to allow people to enter multiple queues for battlegrounds. You could sign up for AV and AB both at the same time.

They are looking for an auto raid invite feature in battlegrounds. The details of this was not given... and it was “soonish”.

In AV it is possible to wall walk to do something to the alliance. This is a generic flaw with the engine... allowing wall walking when its not supposed to happen. This is being addressed in the engine its self, they won't change the AV geography.

Siege weapons are still in mind... but are a very long way away. They are waiting until its done right

There will be a huge revision of the honor system in the expansion pack.

They are considering changing Warsong Gulch, that if the flag is held for to long with out using it, it will auto return to its home. The details were not given.

They are considering an outdoor open and public battle ground like encounter. It would balance the PvE and the PvP encounter, working on bosses.

Also... a queue jumper is considering being punished. If you /afk out of a battleground they are considering putting a timer on how soon you could re enter the queue.
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11-06-05, 08:17 PM   #37
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Lore and Quests

The main speaker for this panel was Chris Metzen. He is the main person in charge of creative direction in WoW. This means that though this was a “lore” and quest panel, a lot of the future direction of WoW in general was fair game. (As a note... Chris says he plays the Horde when he plays)

Why was the outland chosen for the first expansion, vs other more interesting places? Why not “Northrend”? “Do you really think Arthas is level 70?”

The storyline for this twisted and morphed to come to this point. The burning crusade is the burning legion's desire to kill all life. It is the thing that drives the legion to do what they do.

The setting for WoW is huge. This battle we fight is a supposed to be on a cosmic scale, many worlds, not just this one. The expansion is designed to show the scope and breadth of the cosmos. Other worlds are being threatened by the burning legion, other battles, other people. The world of Azeroth is the only location that the burning legion has ever been defeated, and we have done it twice. WoW will eventually take the fight to the Burning Legion, take the fight to these other worlds, save them. This expands the “current world”, and provides new hooks. Later expansions can link from the outland... those other portals that the legion are attacking through.

There was a bit of talk about lore, how the titans tamed the elements in the worlds, formed them as they are, seeded life. They came across demons and other things in the twisted nether. The fall of Sargares is well documents in other lore sites, and I won't reprinted here. I checked my notes against what was already printed in lore sites, and nothing was changed or added. So look it up there.

Outland is the remnants of the original planet the orcs are from. The details are in the Warcraft 3 expansion. The heroes (who are still around) closed the portal from the other side. This world was corrupted by the legion, used as a tool, and the tool failed... the burning legion does not reward failure... they have found their way back to the outland... and the actions in the WoW expansion are almost a retribution. The 5 heroes from the expansion are alive, and will be part of the plots. You can see the 5 heroes if you go to Stormwind... they are the huge statues at the entrance.

Outland is huge chunks of rock... continent sized, floating in the astral plane. It is all that is left of the original planet.

In Warcraft 3 expansion, Illdian escaped into the outlands. He closed the gates that the original inhabitants used to escape the destruction. We will be opening these gates to take the fight back to the burning legion.

“The twisting nether is the astral plane”

We the players, will fight Illdian. It is not said if we kill him or not... but we do fight him. They were very cagey about the details... whether this would be a fight like Majordomo Execetus... or a slaying. Or he could have been playing on the audience.

The blood elves are meant to be cool. The blood elves are the high elves that aligned with Illdian. The players will be the elves still in our world... trying to make it to the outlands. The goal of the night elves is to make it to the outlands and rejoin their prince, to rejoin Illdian. The “drama” is when they get their, there is something wrong with the prince or the details (not a lot of specific info was given... just vague clues).

“Why would the blood elves fight Illdian and their price with the rest of the horde once they get to the outlands?”.

Basically things are not like the blood elves left behind expect things to be. Something is wrong... and they, once they learn the truth of something, will no longer want to unite, or be welcomed, by the people in outlands.

Arcane Magic is corrupting. It is corruptive and chaotic in nature... the longer you use it, the more you are twisted.

Chris then went into the exile of the high elves after the sundering... the forming of their new nation... all in line with the already published lore.

95% of all high elves are dead. Killed in Warcraft 3. 4% have become blood elves... and 1% remain in the world as high elves.

Blood elves are addicted to magic.. a deep hard addiction. Prince Kal'thalas(sp?) made a deal with the devil (Illdian) to sate this addiction. It was pride that drove him to (I think).

The blood elves rebuilt their homeland. They want to regain the glory of their past. They are steadily being more corrupt, and have gone down a path they can never come back from. They are the “Nice happy blond people” according to Chris... royally f.ucked up.


Kal'thalas lives in the outlands. He has a dungeon, and is a raid boss.

Players will start in Qual Theras (sp?) with their eventual goal is to get enough power to open the portal to go into the outlands. That is such a burning desire, that they are willing to do the unthinkable to reach it. Nothing is as important to make it to the outlands and rejoin their allies there to the blood elves left. Yes... we know they are not going to find what they want there... but in the mean time... this is the plot point to get them into the horde.

The alliance is right out, and would never accept the blood elves.

The horde is the only choice available to them. Though the blood elves have no love for the horde, their alliance with them is one of convenience. What ever is necessary to reach the outlands is done... the horde have the power and the resources that they blood elves need to reach the outlands. Silvanas... the queen of the undead is the conduit of the blood elves entering the horde, the link that brings them in.
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11-06-05, 08:20 PM   #38
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The quest/lore group at blizzard used to tape record all of their session. They had thought to go back to older discussions, use them as reference. There was a lot of adult humor and rather ribald references in them. The tapes have since been destroyed... and it seams to be a running joke among them... “burn the tapes”. Chris does the very top level, and the other quest designers do the details.

There is a couple challenges to make a Quest.

· make the quest fit
· craft an interactive story
· balance detail vs verbosity
· explore the lore and class at once

Quests are a “go to” for danger. The story line of the quests need to be cohesive. But you have to be careful not to go overboard.

The little things in the game is the fun part. The easter eggs, the references are fun because everybody working there are geeks them selves. “Being a geek is fun, express your self!”

“Why does the prince Kal'thalas fight the blood elves?”

The blood elves have been doing their own thing being trapped on our world for a while now... things have become very different in the outlands... and there will be a big surprise for the blood elves who make it there... things are not as they had hoped.

Are the titans the “zelnaga”? No! (I have no idea what the Zelnaga are)

What happened to the humans south of Silverpine forest, behind the wall.

“We forgot about them”

Chris has a bad memory.

Where does arcane magic come from, the twisting nether or from the universe?

“both”... the twisting nether is the physical manifestation of the arcane magic in the universe.

Is Illdian powerful?

He will not be easy. This is supposed to be a boss that will be difficult to repeatedly drop.

More raid quests?

In the future, all raid zones will be interwoven with quests. There will no longer be static zones like BWL or MC that are there for loot alone, quests will be involved in the zones. The raid zones need to be cool, and feel like they are part of the lore. ZG was quested out for this reason. AQ will have more quests.

The “Alliance race” will be baddass. “a feeling of Ohhhhh... but wow!”. Its supposed to be obvious once you know it..

Saragras (sp?), the corrupted titan will be back.

Chris lamented the druids in the game. If he had his way, only male night elves would be druids, and only female night elves would be the warriors, and no tauren druids. He likes the flavor of the night elf race where the men wore the skirts and the women had the swords. In the game, all NPCs follow this... every druid is a night elf male, and every sentinel is a night elf female.

“What is Arthas doing”

He is rebuilding his power base.

The floating necropolis above Stratholme is “named” for a reason... “why would we name it... if there was only one of them”

Kil'Jaden is still out there, and one day will need to be dealt with. He is the supreme leader of the burning legion with Saragras not available.

There will be a new book (or series of books?) dealing with the lore of wow before the game. The book(s) will deal with the 8 months before the game, how the alliances fell apart, how we got to this point from Warcraft 3.

Pandarans are a legitimate part of the Warcraft lore. They were originally an April fools joke, that has gone legit. They have no idea about the future of the Pandarens.

If you don't have the expansion pack you won't be able to access the outlands. There will be lots of solo content in the expansion pack.

There was some asking about “life quests”... or a long term quest that follows your character from level 1 to 60. There will be no life quests, but there will be more epic quests at the 60+ for characters.
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11-06-05, 08:22 PM   #39
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Comic Panel

The comic panel was fun and interesting. It was a hour long Q&A session, with more tangents than a math class. Anyway... these are some of the notes and stuff i jotted down.


Who are your idols

PVP: Garfield, Burk Bra(something). Gru
GU : Bill and Samwise. Lockhorns
PA: Peanuts, Mark Twain.

Is there any thoughts or motions for some “Pro Gaming” legislation?

The current legislation is not hurting games... they are sure blizzards has a room where they roll in money.

PA: though a prison sketch book would be interesting.

The PVP vs PA rivalry is not violent. They like to play it up, and find it amusing how the fans over react. Its funny that people seam to think that the rivalry is real.


Where do you get your gaming news?

?: “Evil Avatar”, “Magic Box”, “Game Tab”
PVP: Penny Arcade... (Really... pvp does not follow gaming news all that much... far to busy with other things)
“No time to shower or masturbate” ... “bring on the blood elves”

Social responsibility in comics?

PA does the social responsibility outside of comics... to counter balance the total lack of responsibility inside of the comics... keep them fully separate... the PA comic is totally with our any redeeming worth socially.
The 10K donation from PA was done in spite
Child's Play... the charity that PA runs balances the karma of their comic..

Why do other MMOs's not succeed?

The market is saturated... only the good succeed.

Why did you choose gaming as the comics?

PvP : you write what you know
PA : In for the money
GU was originally written from the perspective of inside the games, but has recently ben more from the outside of the games.

When the comic first started he was playing most of the time... now he is more busy, and his comic follows his focus, as he is not playing ALL the time anymore.

PvP are you still taking donation for the mac? No, he bought a mac mini... which is cute... and a paper weight with how much he uses it.

PvP is Frances Ottman the lovechild of Max Powers?

No, max is to self absorbed to love anyone else.

Next gen console

PvP – no revolution... only skinny guys want it. Also... he made a joke about selling advertising on the pvp website
GU – the consoles need to prove themselves, but the 360 is interesting
PA – revolution (then pvp points out that the PA artist is skinny... proving his point)

Academic benefit of games?

It was shown that children who were playign video games needed less pain medicine for the same level of effect vs those who were not playing.

The author of the PvP comic is engrossed in the latest web comic gossip, he revals in who is talking about who, and what was said on what forum.

A large amount of plugging for “Apple Geeks” the web comic.

There was a bit of good natured ribbing between PA and PvP and there war on “Dark Iron”... PA is working to form groups to take on Uldaman... while PvP is already at ZG. Also... PvP's wife is a good healer... but rarely heals PvP... since “she heals the important people”... hehehe... it was a fun bit of ribbing between them two.

There was a good story that the PvP told. Basically, he saw the skull flame shield in the AH for a stupidly high buy out. Later he saw a level 55 shaman with it, and asked about it... the shaman said they just bought it, and when asked how he got the money... the shaman admitted to PvP that they used IGE for gold. PvP then went to tease the guy... saying that he would report him unless he got a cut of the money to buy his epic mount... but ended all of his whispers with a smily... (something from inside his comic)... the PvP guy says it much better. Anyway... long story short... the shaman eventually sends the PvP guy 500g in the mail... and PvP responsed back “my silence has been paid for” and buys his epic mount...

How has wow changed your life?

GU : my ass hurts a lot
PvP: strip is always late now... both him and wife are to busy and the dog poops in the house sometimes
GU has been playing warcraft since War1.
PvP tried EQ2 for a week and stopped
PA was in the early beta. One of them played FFXI until he lost a level due to dieing... and never went back... death is easy in WoW.
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11-06-05, 08:24 PM   #40
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Concert

The arena held the concert.

Level 60 Elite Tauran Cheiftans was fun.They palyed three songs... power of the horde, I am murloc, and “Leeroy jenkins... the best horde paladin”. Personally... I liked L60ETC... they had more than enough skill to play with out being bad... and had a fraking blast up there. Its not exactly platinum selling songs... but who cares... these are people who play and make the game... doing things they love and having fun.

The comedian... I don't know how to describe. Some of his jokes were funny... but i was highly disappointed. The game of wow is such great fodder for jokes and other things, but the comedian went down rather tried and true paths, dealing with geeks and the like. This had the potential to be awesome... but I felt that it fell flat.

After that there was a 30+ minute wait while the offspring was setup. The sound system was rebalanced for them, and other crap that should have been handled before hand. I don't know why... but we ended up waiting far to long after the comedian before the offspring played... but it was worth it.

The offspring rocked. Here is the play list:

· All I Want
· Come Out and Play
· Can't Repeat
· Long Way Home
· Walla Walla
· Gone Away
· Have You Ever
· Bad Habit
· Gotta Get Away
· Want You Bad
· Hit That
· Why Don't You Get a Job
· Americana
· Staring at the Sun
· Pretty Fly for a White Guy
· The Kids Aren't All Right
· Head Around You
· Self Esteem

Sunday/ Conclusion

My flight did not leave until Monday... so I relaxed a bit Sunday.

I ran into Eyonix and Caydiem outside the convention hall... and they seamed to have a visible weight lifted off of them. It was pleasant to simple talk... and to talk about the con. This was their first year, and they learned a lot. I learned that there is a major rewrite of the forums system coming... which hopefully will have a feature to counteract the level one anonymous trolling. I did not have my notepad with me when I chatted with them... and did not feal like taking any detailed notes... this was not an interview, I am not press. I am sure that there was other things said that would prove interesting... but who cares... it was Sunday... and we survived it.

Later on Sunday I went into Disney Downtown and had dinner with the wowinterface crew and Soulken. He was surprised that digital signatures were mentioned during the con, since they are not sure how they will implement them. We talked a little bit about Decursive... and how I am trying to make it less bot like. (The original reason it did it all automated is because I suck at UI design... so just made it do what i would anyway). Spell Alert style mods are actually fine... no matter how people may b.itch at me for QuuSpellAlert. That information is provided to the client for a reason. Mainly they don't want mods making choices. They have no problem with mods making actions easier, or providing more information... its the choice and the decision making built into the mod they want to avoid.

Also... the design document for UI mods... the goals, hearts and dreams of the development staff in regards for UI mods development is still being worked on or approved (not sure). Since it has been long in coming... I had thought that they had forgotten about it completely. Not so, it seams to be hangup in the details. Like with the earlier Sunday chat, I did not take my note pad... this is just what I remember.

Blizzcon has come and went. I wish I had a camera with me... the slides they showed during the panels had so much information on them... I wanted to share them with you.

Blizzard has hopefully learned a lot with this. The routing of lines and the crowd control in the main entrance for the blizzard store needed to be addressed. The mess up of the forum meet ups they know about it, and corrected... a bit late for me. There were other things, but overall I felt that this was a very well run con, and look forward to next year.
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