New Stormwind Easter Egg: Warlords of Draenor Beta

While exploring Stormwind to check for further updates on the odd new portal, I discovered a smaller addition. An “Easter Egg” involving an new NPC named “Archmage Nakada <Master of Spells>” giving a Harry Potter-esque magic lesson to some “Junior Mages”.

Upon further research, I think this might be a tribute to Blizzard’s former Senior Software Engineer, Ron Nakada, who passed away this April. If so, it’s a very touching tribute. They easily could have just made another NPC, but his students and interactions with the player character will make Nakada a far more memorable addition to Stormwind.

HORDE BIAS! A Red Shirt Guy Editorial on the “Faction Bias” Arguments

Orgrimmar

Hi readers and welcome to my first editorial type article. With the release of Patch 5.4’s trailer (see it here if you haven’t already), the debate on whether or not Blizzard is biased towards the Horde in content development has risen again. Its a subject that really came to a head with the release of Cataclysm, enough so that Blizzard actually had Dave Kosak make a blog post, “Dev Watercooler: Faction Favoritism“. It was very negatively received, and in fact was seen by many as further proof there was faction bias favoring the Horde enough to be detrimental to the Alliance among Blizzard’s developers. So, does this faction favoritism really exist? Is Blizzard ignoring half their playerbase because they can’t muster the effort to to create content for a faction they don’t like? Or is this all overblown outcry from WoW’s notoriously unpleaseable fanbase?

Cataclysm: Flexible Raid Lock System in 4.0.1

Blizzard has announced a new update to the Cataclysm raid dungeon lockout system which allows flexibility to guilds and PUGs. You can do a 25-man Marrowgar up to Saurfang attempt, and later a 10-man Blood Queen attempt and you will get the same loot in both type of raids. The way players are individually saved has changed too and you can check it out in your raid info tab.

Bashiok posted a very extensive explanation of how this dungeon lockout system works. More details after the break.

[BLUE]Almost six months ago we announced that Cataclysm raids were being redesigned to make both raid sizes the same difficulty, drop the same quality of loot, and exist in the same lockout. This evolution in raid philosophy is built on the belief that the size of your raiding group should be a choice based solely on what’s more fun and enjoyable for you, and that you should not have to complete the same raiding content twice in a week to maximize your character’s progression. These systems are the culmination of a great deal of design and player feedback from the last few years. With the release of the 4.0.1 patch, the new Flexible Raid Lock system will debut in Icecrown Citadel and The Ruby Sanctum.

With the Flexible Raid Lock system, instead of being locked to a specific raid size or raid group, each character will have the opportunity to defeat each raid encounter once a week. You could kill Lord Marrowgar and Lady Deathwhisper with a 10-player raid on Wednesday, join a 25-player raid to kill Festergut and Rotface on Thursday, and then lead a completely new 10-player raid to kill The Lich King on Friday. Every raid has a list of encounters associated with the zone. For example, Icecrown Citadel has twelve encounters. After you defeat Lord Marrowgar, you can open up your character’s raid information dialog and see the list of encounters in Icecrown Citadel with Marrowgar marked as defeated. You may no longer fight Lord Marrowgar with any raid size or difficulty until the weekly raid reset for your region occurs.

Another key change is that if you join someone else’s raid in progress, you are no longer locked to that raid after merely zoning in. Your raid status will only change when a boss is defeated, at which point it will be updated to reflect the state of the instance in which you are currently participating. So, let’s say you have killed the first four bosses of Icecrown Citadel, and you then join a raid that has defeated the first four encounters, as well as Festergut and Rotface. The dialog that displays upon entering Icecrown Citadel will show that the raid has defeated 6 of 12 encounters. If you help them defeat Professor Putricide, then you would be marked as having defeated not only Professor Putricide for the week, but also Festergut and Rotface. If instead after joining the raid you then proceeded to wipe ten times to Professor Putricide, you could leave the raid with only the first four bosses marked as completed.

To help communicate to players which bosses are dead in the raid leader’s raid, there is new functionality to link in chat a list of the encounters the raid has defeated. So before you join a raid, you can see what they’ve already defeated. If a raid leader advertises in chat that she needs another healer for an 8/12 Icecrown Citadel run, you can see precisely which bosses are still available to fight. If you were only looking for that one item from Queen Lana’thel that never drops for you and this raid already defeated her, you will know not to join that raid.

Let’s look at another example of the Flexible Raid Lock system. A guild schedules three nights for 25-player Icecrown Citadel raiding on Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday. On Wednesday, the raid defeats Lord Marrowgar, Lady Deathwhisper, Icecrown Gunship Battle, and Saurfang. On Thursday, five people cancel their raid attendance due to real life emergencies. The raid leader knows that if he cancels Thursday raiding, there’s little chance they’ll have enough time on Saturday to defeat the other eight bosses in Icecrown Citadel. So he splits the remaining 20 Thursday raiders into two 10-player raids. Each new raid enters Icecrown Citadel and defeats Rotface, Festergut, Blood Council, and Valithria Dreamwalker. The next Saturday with all 25 players online, they reform as a 25-player raid and enter Icecrown Citadel once more. Only Professor Putricide, Queen Lana’thel, Sindragosa, and The Lich King remain. After a tough fight, the Lich King falls and everybody celebrates. Without the Flexible Raid Lock system the entire raid probably would have missed out on a night of raiding, and likely would not have reached the Lich King.

While players can freely move between raids of different sizes in normal difficulty, there are some additional rules for Heroic difficulty. If a 10- or 25-player raid defeats a boss on Heroic difficulty, then those players may now only raid additional Heroic encounters with that specific raid. If your Heroic 25-player raid defeats the first four bosses of Icecrown Citadel on Heroic, then they may not split up into two 10-player raids and continue to fight in Heroic difficulty. You may also not join someone else’s raid if they have defeated a Heroic encounter.

But let’s say you are a member of a Heroic raid in Icecrown Citadel, and after killing Lord Marrowgar on Heroic you have Internet connection issues that prevent you from raiding for two nights. During those two nights, the rest of the raid kills everything. Without the Flexible Raid Lock system, you would be done with raiding Icecrown Citadel for the week. Ouch. With the Flexible Raid Lock system, you can join someone else’s raid as long as they are doing Normal difficulty. This would at least give you the opportunity to earn your Justice Points for the week. If this raid attempted to switch to Heroic difficulty for Icecrown Gunship Battle with you in the raid, the raid leader would receive an error message stating that she cannot change to Heroic, because someone in the raid (i.e., you) is already locked to a different Heroic instance.

All of the new Cataclysm raids will feature the Flexible Raid Lock and Dynamic Difficulty systems, and when the Cataclysm occurs the other Wrath of the Lich King raids will also have these features. It’s important to note that this system doesn’t affect Heroic dungeons, they will work as they always have. We look forward to feedback for this new system after 4.0.1 is released. As a reminder, Icecrown Citadel and The Ruby Sanctum are the only two raids that support the Flexible Raid Lock until the Cataclysm occurs.[/BLUE]

Blizzard Mike Morhaime interview at L.A. Times

The L.A. Times interviewed Mike Morhaime, Blizzard Entertainment co-founder and president to talk about the success of his game studios. I am a fan of everything Blizzard, and that doesn’t extend to only their products. I love to get to know and learn the story, background and passion of the people behind these products.

I had the fortune to meet Mike Morhaime, Frank Pearce and Bob Colayco (Public Relations) at Best Buy (Times Square) at the New York City midnight launch of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King. No one knows, but I mistakenly clicked the voice recorder button wrong, and missed most of the interview that never got published, obviously. Yet, it was an honor just to sit there with Mike Morhaime and listen to him answer my questions. Shook his hand again in Paris, France — and even if he didn’t recognize one peon out of 11.5 million — I was glad to see him again, and to be able to say Thanks for making these video games, and for inviting me to Paris for the official announcement of Diablo III during the Blizzard Worldwide Invitationals. I had an aweful toothache around that time, but for me it was a blast of an experience to be there. Later met him briefly at Blizzcon.

Whether you are an employee at a McDonalds, Chicken in the Box, Best Buy, a gas station clerk, maintenance, unemployed or else, you can find inspiration in people who love to do what you do: To play and develop excellent video games. You might be the next building a successful company or joining the Blizzard Entertainment crew. You never know, till you try and give your best effort.

Feel free to learn a bit more about Mike Morhaime’s beginnings as a child, a student, and as the co-founder of a three desk office known as Silicon & Synapses, later renamed into Blizzard Entertainment.

GDC 2010 Blizzard Entertainment Schedule

Do you have the talent and the passion for games to join Blizzard Entertainment? Do you live near San Francisco? This could be the opportunity of your life. Blizzard Entertainment will be accepting resume and reels at the Game Developers Conference in Moscone Center at the Career Pavilion Booth Number CP 272 through March 9-13, 2010. Not attending GDC? No problem. Go online at http://jobs.blizzard.com

Four Blizzard developers will be attending GDC 2010 as speakers:

Rob Pardo
VP, Game Design, Blizzard Entertainment
Making a Standard (and Trying to Stick to it!): Blizzard Design Philosophies
Date/Time: Thursday (March 11, 2010) 3:00pm — 4:00pm
Location (room): Room 134, North Hall

Brian Schwab
Senior AI/Gameplay Engineer
AI Architecture Mashups: Insights into Intertwined Architectures
Date/Time: Wednesday (March 10, 2010) 3:00pm — 4:00pm
Location (room): Room 310, South Hall

Erin Catto
Principal Software Engineer
Physics for Programmers
Date/Time: Wednesday (March 10, 2010) 10:00am — 6:00pm
Location (room): Room 125, North Hall

Dominic Filion
Senior Software Engineer II
Designing for Performance, Scalability & Reliability: StarCraft II’s Approach
March 11, 2010) 9:00am — 10:00am

Paul Sams Interviewed by Post-Gazette: Warcraft Film in Pre-Production Stage

The Post-Gazette interviewed Paul Sams concerning the recent news that he is one of the co-owners of the Pittsburgh’s NFL team The Steelers. He confirmed his friendship with Thomas Tull (Legendary Pictures CEO), who is also a new co-owner and shareholder of The Steelers. At the end of the interview, the Post-Gazette pitched a question to find out the current status of the Warcraft Film.

For now it is in pre-production stage, putting the script together, while Sam Raimi works on Spider-Man 4.

Blizzard Quote:
Post-Gazette: When is the “World of Warcraft” movie coming out?

Paul Sams: Sam Raimi has been attached as the director. We’re working really hard with Legendary [Pictures] and Sam—he has “Spider-Man 4” first, then he’ll move to this project. We’re in the process of developing the scripts.

Via: WoW.com

E3 2009: Blizzard accepts Guinness World Record Awards

Mike Morhaime (CEO) and Paul Sams (COO) accepted the Guinness World Records Gamer’s Edition award for World of Warcraft as the most popular MMORPG with 11.6 million subscribers; and for StarCraft, the best selling strategy game for PC with over 9.5 million copies sold worldwide.

Elsewhere in E3, Gaz and Matt had the opportunity to meet up with some of the people who have made massive, record-breaking contributions to videogaming, and who have featured in Gamer

Patch 3.1.2: Class Q&A Series

The developers want your feedback about each class and questions for the developers.  Read first the patch notes to identify the changes introduced in patch 3.1.2. Play around your class once the live servers come back online, specially tonight when you go to Ulduar. Any bugs or suggestions should be posted at the following forum threads.  Try not to create new threads about this topic. The developers will be reading all your feedback in these class specific threads.

More threads will be appearing in upcoming days and weeks. For now these are the class threads available:

USA

Europe

 

Blizzard Quote:
We are looking for community class questions and topics for a class Question & Answer series. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting in each of the class forums and discussing the latest high priority questions and topics the community has. We will then be compiling these questions and topics into a larger Question & Answer post to address as many of questions as possible. While we will be creating one post in each of the class forums to solicit questions and topics of interest, we will also be keeping a close eye on additional posts and discussions.

It is important to keep in mind that we have a schedule of classes we will be addressing and will be getting to each class individually over this period of time. Please note, this list is subject to change.

Shaman
Mage
Warlock
Death Knight
Paladin
Warrior
Hunter
Druid
Rogue
Priest

GDC 2009: Blizzard’s Pardo: Sony, Microsoft Need New Forms Of Gameplay

Recently we reported that Rob Pardo confirmed that Blizzard and Microsoft are talking about the Xbox 360 successor.  They want Microsoft to learn from Nintendo. During the Luminaries Lunch at the GDC 2009,  Junction Point’s Warren Spector slashed at Rob Pardo with mockery … “I

Blizzard And Microsoft Talk Xbox 360 Successor For Next-Gen MMO?

Rob Pardo confirmed at the GDC 2009 that Blizzard Entertainment and Microsoft are talking about the Xbox 360 successor.  And by the looks of it they want its successor to have a keyboard and mouse peripherals and tools to allow MMO and RTS gameplay on consoles.  The potential is enormous. Imagine World of Warcraft, Starcraft: Ghost, Starcraft II and even Diablo III on PC and Consoles.  It is the culprit of the Next-Gen MMO no doubt.

The future is looking brighter for Blizzard and all its millions of fans if Microsoft can pull the right cards off its sleeve and places them into the table to make it possible.

Blizzard Quote:
Rob Pardo: “There are are so many games like we make at Blizzard that we don’t take to consoles because they don’t support the input device, and you end up with crappy ports. That’s why RTS games never do well on consoles,” he said.

“If I was them, I’d be sitting around trying to figure out what’s a cool input device that supports all types of new kinds of games.”—read more

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