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woohoo! thanks to the server transfers (as well as the minimum player change), Alterac Valley has finally returned to Smolderthorn!

AV is awesome. Pure bloodshed for 7 hours before we finally killed that freaking dwarf. The battle went back and forth for quite some time. The alliance even came so close as to destroying both our towers before we finally pushed them back.

It was extremely fun, and a challenge as it actually requires some strategy. You can't just throw yourselves into the opposite team's base and hope to take over their graveyard.

The end boss fight was quite fun as well. He'd be pretty tough by himself, but when you factor in all his little gaurd fgts and 40 alliance guys trying to rape you from behind, it becomes very interesting.

In the end it was definately worth the struggle, because my New Polearm is le awesome.

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lvl 54 now. which reminds me, where i should i be questing and/or grinding at this level? winterspring? also, i think i should probably do sunken temple or something.

If you're horde, there's a lot of easy quest lines around low 50s. The cauldron series in Western Plagueland is one (close to 40K), the tablets series in Azshara is another (40K again). Un'Goro has a lot of quests that are gathering but mixed in with killing quests; you'll end up full bags and have to sell a lot of shit before you complete them all (almost half a level in quest EXP alone, nevermind kill EXP).

Winterspring is gorgeous....but has very few quests. Silithus you can start questing around level 55/56 safely and actually make progress. Also, make your way to Moonglade and pickup the Silithus quests there before heading that way; it's 3 quests that nets a total of around 30K, plus you'll have the new quests that just opened up there.

If you haven't done any, there's also the Thorium Brotherhood quests in Searing Gorge, which is easily a level in itself due to sheer number of kills.

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Weee! Ysondre, the female green dragon from the patch, spawned today in Duskwood. We ride up from Grom'Gol, get buffed up, and start going; we'd already killed Taerar and Emeriss several times so we knew the basics of the fight. The key thing on these dragons are their special move, and their 75/50/25% moves.

Her move is to spawn a legion of Druids equal to the number of half of your raid. They spam Moonfire, and occassionally toss out a 2 second silence. They're non-elites, so mages can AE them down in about 4 seconds.

She dropped my CORNCOB OF DOOM (scroll to the bottom, I have a picture posted), as well as some nice tanking shoulders for our MT. I'd say without her 25% ability (which is a joke, I'm willing to be she gets hotfixed to be harder), your guild could take her Zircon; imagine Golemagg without the adds up front basically, tank gets about 30 seconds of hate building, then everyone engages full throttle. In the event a tank goes down a new one steps in and DPS backs off for another 30 seconds. All healers just focus onhealing the tank, as the dragons hit hard -- 1,400 is the average hit, with crits floating around 5K.

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w00t! Broodlord down :D Drops were:

Maladath, Runed Blade of the Black Flight

Boots of Transcendence

Bloodfang Boots

Flamemaw is going to be fun. He hits about as hard as Broodlord, pulses a fire aura that does minor DoT at first, but stacks. I does 150 initially, then 300, then 600, then 1,200, then 2,500. It also is the first boss to breath Shadow Flame -- a move that does a 4-6K intial damage + 8K DoT over 20 seconds. Onyxia's Scale Cloak lessens the initial damage *slightly* and removes the DoT portion.

Sadly, we don't have one for everyone in the guild ; ;

His breath does a piddly amount of damage at first; the MTs died on our first attempt and I was the first one he turned to (which, as a Druid with -20% threat talent meant other healers were being pussies) and it did only 600 damage. However, the first breath gives you a debuff that increases fire damage taken by 250, then 500, then 1,000, then 1,500, and finally 2,000. He likes to spam fire breaths alternated with Shadow breaths on the MTs :\

The good news is Firemaw, Flamegor, and Ebonroc are the "minor" bosses of BWL (Zircon, think of Shazz, Lucifron, and Gehennas) and once you killed one you've killed the other two basically since they act the same. Then we clear the trash shit, free Chromaggus (he's the screenshot you can see on the main site -- looks like a cross between the Dragon Footsoliders and The Beast) and stomp his ass (however long that takes), and then we'll be at Nefarion.

The rush is on for Horde side still, as last I checked there is *NO* Horde guild that has killed Nefarion...yet. Only Alliance side with their "omg it's not unbalanced" unbalanced Blessing of Salvation.

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The rush is on for Horde side still, as last I checked there is *NO* Horde guild that has killed Nefarion...yet. Only Alliance side with their "omg it's not unbalanced" unbalanced Blessing of Salvation.

I don't know about your server, but I'm pretty sure the Horde guild "TKT" on my server (Sargeras) has downed Nefarior without useing blessing of Salvation.

That "corncob of doom" is a pretty nifty little staff.

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so the expansion has officially been unveiled, though blizzard is still holding back on some things (like the other new playable race which is rumored to be Draenei).

check it out:


Nah, I believe that it will be the Pandarens, even though people are considering them to be a Horde race, look at the Blood Elves, no one would have thought of them as Horde. Let us not forget that China has now been given WoW and since Pandas are considered a Chinese animal, well you get the idea. Beisdes we need an animal race on the Alliance side, Tauren just aren't what they use to be =/

Found this on a fansite and Blizzard has yet to comment about this picture to Gamespot since Gamespot has also found this image. Before I start getting negative feedbacks from people saying this is FAKE, I do believe the same thing, but I thought I would give the forum something to talk about =)


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Honestly, I can't see the Pandarens ending up as a major race in the game. There's simply no motivation for them to be fighting ANYBODY. They live to party, they are the eternal fratboys. Furthermore, they are overall a very peaceful people from what I've gathered.

The Draenei, however, are almost equally unlikely to my mind. The main problem with the Draenei is pretty simple - their homeland would HAVE to be Outland. And Outland is a pure PvP, level 60+ area. Even if the Draenei were put right next to the Dark Portal, that still dumps them into the Blasted Lands. They'd have to do some funky stuff to put them close enough to the Alliances areas. Notice where the Blood Elf starting lands are - right smack next to the Undercity.

To further confuse things, what would the Draenei capitol be like? This is supposed to be the shattered remnants of a people that were nearly wiped out by the Orcs, after all. Given that the Blood Elves are getting a capitol (at least I think I remember reading that - can anyone confirm?), it seems only natural that there would have to be some impressive Draenei city, which just plain out doesn't seem to fit.

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That's why I see the furbolgs as a possibility. They'd start in northern Kalimdor (and whatever the new Alliance race is, it would probably have to in order to maintain balance), and one could easily say that they're one of the few tribes still uncorrupted by demonic taint that has driven most of them to madness.

The problem I see with that is that one of the most logical Furbolg classes is Shaman - which is a Horde-only class.

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Before I start getting negative feedbacks from people saying this is FAKE, I do believe the same thing, but I thought I would give the forum something to talk about =)

Actually, that picture *is* fake though Blood Elves are the race for the Horde. This was confirmed at Blizzcon (love my Murloc baby, btw, cute as a button). The new Blood Elf models that will be used on Horde model don't have the "blocky" look that the current Night Elves do, plus there are artist differences in the way they look, move, and attack.

I seriously, seriously, seriously doubt it will be Panderan. For one, the Chinese populace may consider it a slap in the face due to Blizzard's own description of them on the WC3 site is "A race of Warriors whose single ambition is to find their next drink." -- they portray the Panderans as Drunkards.

Draeni is more than likely going to end up being the Alliance race. Blood Elves were trapped in Outlands just like Draeni and the Vjashl tribe of Nagas; it's not unforseeable that Draeni calls upon an old favor with the Night Elves. The orcs decimated the Draeni in Outland, the Alliance shuns the Blood Elves, and both factions despise the Naga. Lorewise it'll end up being Draeni more than likely -- how else is Illidian/Burning Legion going to keep tabs on the Alliance side?

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All I know is that socketed items remind me too much of Diablo II, and although it is a fun game, I'd much rather Blizzard try to stay away from it with World of Warcraft.

WoW already is so much like diablo 2....talent trees remind you of anything? So far...jewelcrafting and socketed items are what I am most excited for, next would be the new races.

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I'll put my money up for Pandarens, just because I want to play as one. No real reason, I jsut do. Except, Blizzard said they originally the had plans to place them in somewhere, and I honestly couldn't see a better place. (Just so long as they are at least NPCs, I'll be satisfied.)

Though, I also may place a few chips on the Draenei, just because they are ugly and hate the horde. If Blizzard was trying to give Horde a pretty face, they may believe they are balancing it out by giving the Alliance an ugly one.

If there are any kinks in the story though, Blizzard will change it like they have everything else. Like moving Draenei's home or creating a motivation for the Pandarens to fight. They can add whatever they want.

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This beez a bery bery rong reply. Lots of shit from people I know that heard this from developers and Blizzard employees firsthand from Blizzcon. Also, this will put your fears to rest about the UBRS buff Zircon.

Alright, Both my husband Quutar and I are here in Anaheim, Calf, at Blizzcon.

Yesterday was the first day and was a total blast. We walked from our hotel at about 9:30am to get in line for the opening ceremonies.Luckly we arrived pretty early, because apparently the line ended up wrapping around the block. Quutar and I started talking to the people around us and had fun meeting a couple and their neice from Uldum and a group of guildmates from Destromath. Sometime after 10am the doors opened and we were all ushered inside the beloved con. We looked around for a bit but not long before heading straight over to the big auditorium for Opening Ceremonies. We got good seats right off the asle and met up with our new friends form Uldum and enjoyed the excellent opening remarks then then new WoW Expansion Demo movie. (look below for Quutar's excellent notes)

After there we headed up to the "realm meet" but were sadly disappointed because, while they went through all the trouble to make this nifty schedule and set up tables, the con forgot to NUMBER said tables so it was total chaos. Sighing in defeat, Quu headed over to nab us some food while I waited in the exceedingly slow line for the Blizzcon store. Sore feet and a sandwich later, Quu headed off for his Raid panel while I continued waiting. (look below for Quutar's excellent notes) Two hours later I got my phat l00t and even got my Well of Eternity book signed by Richard Knaak before heading over to the Lore and Quests panel.

Sadly i had to retire for the night, but Quutar wandered around and had fun. The Cocktailes and Contests shindig was ok. The contests were painful as most convention contests are, but the supposed mixer afterwards was sadly disappointing since all the well known Blizz staff disappeared as soon as the contests were done.

Overall the whole thing is really exciting and I'm betting today is going to be a blast (more panels! yea!).

Now.. as promised, Quu's excellent notes from the con:


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’Quiraj
  • 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 Eleve 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…

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.

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.

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 miniscule 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’Thas (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.

Illidan 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 spic 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.

Items and 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 preists 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.


Left = Shaman (The Ten Storms), Right = Paladin (Judgement Armor)


Warrior (Battlegear of Wrath)

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K, that one is long enough, so double posting for her Husband's comments.

(this is not pretty formated or edited by my wife... we had a long day today... so this is the rest of day 1... raw... working on day 2 right now... someone buy me a drink! my head is still rining from the offspring concert... i did meet and talk with some of the euro CMs... go figure... very friendly and easy to talk to... maybe i play on the wrong side of the pond?)

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 vagarities 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 designed 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 moveable 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.

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

• Playtesting

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 le vel 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.

It was re iterated that stealth runs were not exploits, and 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 for seeable future.

Rest of the con

I had planned on attending the battle grounds panel… but hunger made me re 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.

Plus, we have a Hunter in our guild that works as a GM (hence why we never see him anymore ; ; ). He specifically told us the second he got home "The cat's out of the bag so I can tell you this. Stop giving out loot to people that's going to rot -- Warlock and Druid gear in particular -- and *save* them for disenchants past 1.9. You're going to need them, and I have a feeling the necessity of the enchants that use the Nexus Crystals will require DKP to regulate. They're literally that awesome compared to ZG enchants guys, even though they're on separate slots."

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