Friday, April 2, 2010

Blue Post: Eyonix leaves Blizzard

Quote from: Eyonix (Source)
For nearly six years, we've shared our thoughts with one and other, we've laughed, we've argued, and we've cried -- the crying part was just me wasn't it? Those times, I'm afraid must come to an end as I've made the decision to explore opportunities outside of Blizzard.

It has very honestly been a huge pleasure, and I thank you all for allowing 'Eyonix' to always remain a very fond memory as I move on.

Blue Post: Account-Bound Emblems, Expansions discount

Quote from Blizzard staff
Account-Bound Emblems?
Account bound emblems would encourage players to continue to play on their decked-out main character then toss stuff to their alt, get them decently geared and maybe not do anything with them at all because they are already decently geared.

The interest in playing an alt should be that it's something you want to do. The current emblem system allows these characters to gear up much faster and that is through playing the alt itself which is a good thing. (Source)

Expansions discount
We're always looking for ways to make World of Warcraft as affordable and worth every dollar possible for players, particularly as it will soon require purchasing one game and three expansions just to receive access to all of the latest content. This is why we have offered boxed sets and discounted prices on the original game and The Burning Crusade. You can expect similar discounts going further as the life of this game moves on. Of course, this type of marketing is more to benefit those just getting started who are interested in experiencing more than just the 1-60 game.

We also know a lot of couples and families set out to purchase multiply copies of each expansion released in order to play together. It can understandably be much more of an investment in such cases. I don't have any direct plans to share with you at this time with regard to potential package deals for buying multiple copies of Cataclysm, but it's always something to consider. We do what we can when marketing any Blizzard product to players -- whether it be games or in-game pets for sale -- to be as accommodating as possible, letting customers decide what is valuable to them. Smiley (Source)

Why doesn't Blizzard sell ... ?
We're of the philosophy that, if there is a market for some fun, virtual flavor items which can be purchased using real-world cash to aesthetically enhance a player's character in a way they deem valuable, we'll provide that service. So far the virtual pet store has been very successful in this regard. Some players might think it's ridiculous to spend real money on a virtual pet that serves no gameplay purpose, so they can easily choose not to invest in that market. There's a very important distinction here though. If a person deems a virtual item not to be worth its value in real money, that person is not negatively impacted when someone else feels differently and runs around in the game with the virtual item on display.

It's an important part of the philosophy that, while we will expand the market for those who are willing to purchase with real money virtual flavor items, we want to avoid selling direct combat advantages to people. We want players to want to play the game to set themselves apart from other players, get more powerful items, or obtain in-game wealth. The reasons for playing the game become almost completely compromised if the best gear rewards for continuing to play can just be bought. (Source)

Are paid companion pets better than free ones?
Do we want to make sure any pets we sell for real money are very cool? Of course. Does that mean more design resources are dedicated to them than other pets? Not necessarily.

Sure, some pets have higher polygon counts because they were added to the game much later, but we're not intentionally saving the "best" pets for sale. Ultimately, your opinion of what are the best or highest quality pets is subjective. I have all of the pets from the store. I have some of the pets we've released for limited purposes (i.e. Murky). My personal favorite pet right now is the Onyxia Whelpling. Players literally had to do nothing for that pet but log in within a certain, fairly generous window of time and check their mail. It isn't very rare, wasn't hard to obtain, and did not cost money, but I love it.

I digress. The one major distinction here is that the value of flavor/vanity items is determined subjectively by each player. The value of a piece of gear is determined by its stats, rarity, how difficult it is to obtain, and the number crunchers who know how to min/max a class. That value is much more intrinsic in terms of gameplay. (Source)

Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Tier 10 Restoration 4-Piece Bonus Bug
Thanks for the reports! We're looking into this and should have a fix in a future patch. (Source)

Mage (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Frostfire Bolts / Brain Freeze
We are going to change it (or perhaps already did judging from some of these posts) that Frostfire Bolt can't proc Brain Freeze.

It's not an ideal solution for some of the reasons that you guys have been mentioned. However technically we don't have the ability to start the internal cooldown on use instead of when the proc is gained. It's possible to get the code changed, but that means it's unlikely something we could hotfix in. Long-term we'll look into a solution that isn't so mean to Frostfire Bolt. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Rage management
Heroic Strike is supposed to be a rage dump and in an environment where you are converting every swing into a Heroic Strike, it's a safe assumption that rage isn't really a resource anymore. The decision is supposed to be "Do I have enough rage to Heroic Strike?" vs. "If I don't Heroic Strike now, am I wasting rage?" Warriors need to be balanced around doing some Heroic Striking -- not converting every white swing to a HS and not so rage starved that they can never hit it either.

I've been hinting that we're likely to change rage in Cataclysm, and I'll do so again in the hopes that some smart players will come out and defend that decision when we get a lot of "You can't change rage!" posts. Smiley (Source)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bluepost: Equipement Potency EquivalencE Number

Quote from: Blizzard (Source)
What is best in life? Gear, plain and simple. As part of the upcoming stat-system revamp, we plan to introduce a new tool that will let World of Warcraft players know exactly where they stand in comparison to other players: the Equipment Potency EquivalencE Number.

With this new system, you’ll no longer have to wonder about your perceived or actual worth as a player. Your Equipment Potency EquivalencE Number, automatically derived from the quality of the gear you currently possess, will be placed on your character sheet and in the Armory, and also displayed over your character’s head in-game as an easy-to-read bar-like object that steadily grows as you acquire loot. Thanks to this new system, no one will be able to ignore the fruits of your long, hard journey toward gear perfection.

How Your Number Is Determined
Here's how it will work: With every new piece of gear you obtain, your number will grow; if you attain a high enough number, you'll graduate to the next tier (more on that below) and gain access to exclusive rewards. If you’re looking to boost your number even more, activities such as earning raid and Arena achievements or realm-first titles will help you get it up, and you'll also begin receiving in-game mail with exciting offers for additional ways to enhance it.

Player Potency Tiers
To complement this system, we plan to use an updated version of the phasing technology introduced in Wrath of the Lich King to automatically place players in segregated tiers based on their number. Each tier will comprise all players within a certain number range, and players will only be able to group with, talk to, or see other players in the same tier as themselves. To ensure players with a smaller number will not be shafted by this new system, we plan to introduce a wide variety of new solo content for less well-equipped players.

Those with sufficiently large numbers can earn in-game rewards such as a permanent bonus to "need" rolls, the ability to cut to the front of the queue in the Dungeon Finder, a larger ignore list, a much shorter dungeon deserter debuff, or -- if your number is exceedingly impressive -- a new non-combat pet, Binky the Mechano-Rooster.

As your number grows, the game world will tailor itself to you in other subtle ways: as the pool of players you interact with becomes more and more exclusive, you’ll no longer need to stand still in prominent locations quite so often to allow others to inspect your gear; you’ll have fewer time-wasting calendar invitations to sift through; and your friends list will become increasingly more manageable, reducing needless scrolling time. Any negative repercussions of these changes will be offset by the satisfaction you’ll receive knowing your equipment is significantly more impressive than average.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bluepost: Stealth nerf & Revenge change

Quote from Blizzard staff
"Stealth" nerfs
I guess you are using "stealth nerf" as synonymous with "nerf." My general impression of the use of the term "stealth nerf" is that the developers decide to sneakily change a spell or an ability in a way players won't immediately recognize and have to explore and math out. For example, if we thought Exorcism did too much damage, we might lower its coefficient. Players might notice, but it would take a lot of testing before anyone was convinced. Someone mentioned the Windfury ICD above, which is a good example of what I would call a stealth nerf. It was hard to notice. Making a change so that a spell doesn't work on players doesn't really sound like "stealth" because it's going to be noticed immediately.

There is little point in us making actual "stealth nerfs" with the intent to deceive, because players are going to figure it out anyway. (The WF one wasn't made recently.) What you seem to be calling "stealth nerfs" are hotfixes or mini patch changes that came without a GC or other blue post. But there are many of these made regularly, probably far more than you realize. Many of them will never affect your character, but some will. Some are made late at night when good developers are asleep or at blues bars.

We haven't yet come up with a great way to communicate changes that come in between patches. For patches we have the patch notes. Sometimes I'll make a blue post and we've tried to get better about documenting hotfixes. We've considered trying to use the launcher or login screen for breaking news or maybe even have a place in game where you can check out recent patch notes. Again, we make a lot of these, and some of them are too trivial for most players to care, and we wouldn't want the list to be so long that players just skip through it.

If you're defining "stealth nerf" as any change that comes in between patches or any nerf in general, well then you're just using your own private use of the term, which is a big problem with game jargon (see examples just as "cleave," "WG," "dead zone" etc.) (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Upcoming Revenge change
In the interest of avoiding the unflattering scent of stealth nerf, allow me to post that we are going to make that change (one Revenge per proc) I suggested above. (Source)

If we change Revenge to basically be one charge then the warrior can still pop the rogue or pet or whatever that triggers the block, dodge or parry, but they'd only get one hit instead of multiples. Such a change should not affect Protection at all.

Blue Post: Tauns missing, Starfall Nerf, No Thunderclap while silenced

Quote from Blizzard staff
Taunts missing = interesting gameplay?
I'm going to vote for not interesting gameplay.

At the very least, you should be able to reduce your chance to miss a Taunt to zero if you reduce your chance to miss with a weapon to zero. It's also possible we'll just let them always hit. (Source)

Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Starfall nerf?
At some point I posted some numbers for Starfall since there hadn't been a PTR build in some time and druids were chomping at the bit to figure out just how much damage it was going to do. The numbers we went with for 3.3.3 were slightly lower than that if I recall correctly, but we haven't made any changes to Starfall since the patch went live. The live Starfall numbers are still much higher than they were in 3.3.

We generally don't try to execute actual "stealth nerfs." The community will nearly always figure it out anyway so we don'y gain much by trying to hide anything. Sometimes "stealth nerfs" are just things we didn't manage to document, but many times they are misunderstandings.

(I'm talking about live anyway. On betas and PTRs numbers are going to change quite a bit -- that's the whole idea.) (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Can't Thunderclap while silenced
It is called "Thunder" and "Clap." That implies some noise. Smiley

Seriously though, silence isn't a dispel. Dispels are tied to magical effects. Silences are just tied to things that (more or less) logically require an audio component (in the game fiction -- I'm not talking about your sound card) to work. Most caster spells qualify but some other abilities do too.

As soon as I read that I thought, "Man, GC just opened up a can of worms". I understand where you are coming from but now we get to read 10 pages of "Wait, I don't have to make noise to do X, why does it obey silence!?"

That response is certainly possible, but I figure part of what I can do out here (in exchange for all the feedback we get) is offer the occasional intent behind a game decision. Sometimes players can get us to question those decisions, but in cases like this it's going to take more than "It doesn't seem to *me* like silence could stop a Thunder Clap." Trying to arbitrate how the physics of magic should work is a pretty futile exercise. Smiley (Source)

Bluepost: Blizzard Introducing the Story Forum

Quote from: Nethaera (Source)
We are pleased to introduce the Warcraft Story Forum where players can discuss the storylines of the Warcraft universe, as told in-game and through the novels, manga, comics, and short stories that Blizzard publishes. Be sure to visit the new forum here-

What is Creative Development?
Creative Development (CDev) is a "hub" within Blizzard, facilitating the development of ancillary products and services that tie into Blizzard's game universes. While there are several different divisions of CDev, this Warcraft Story forum focuses on the efforts of the Publishing division.

What does Creative Development's Publishing division have to do with Warcraft's stories and lore?
The Publishing division within Creative Development is the driving force behind every published story you've seen outside of the game: short stories, novels, comics, and manga.

Who comprises the Publishing division of Creative Development?
Publishing is made of two groups:
  • Story Development: this group focuses on story idea creation, story outlining, and story development for licensed fiction, as well as for internally-written stories
  • Historians: this group is the repository for all Blizzard lore, providing counsel for the game development teams and the CDev Story Development group

What is the Publishing division's usual process for developing a story?
  • Idea Generation & Outline Creation: Working with Chris Metzen and the designers on the respective game's development team, the Story Development team generates an idea and an outline for a story. The writer on the project is typically invited to our offices at this point in the project, so that they can be in on the ground floor of the story's creation.
  • Story Development & Lore Checking: Over the course of the project, the Story Development team talks constantly with the writer, as well as with Chris Metzen and the game developers, in order to help hone the story into a Blizzard-quality tale. At the same time, our Historian team combs through the iterations of the story in order ensure that the story adheres to the universe's established canon.

What does the Publishing division hope to accomplish with this Warcraft Story forum?
We'd like to give the community a chance to influence the development of our upcoming stories, so we're trying something new; this forum will serve as a direct line to our story developers. Please note that we're not looking for fully-formed stories - save those for the Global Writing Contest (which we operate and judge) - but rather we're looking for specific examples of what people like, don't like, and what they would like to see (story-wise) from us in the future.