5th WoW Anniversary: Battlecry Mosaic Update 4

The 5th Anniversary of World of Warcraft’s Battlecry Mosaic has been updated again. Hardcore Blizzard fans with a decent digital camera are welcome to submit a photo to reach the milestone of 20,000 photos — needed to complete the mosaic. Thus far they have 4618 submissions.

Be cool, and take a side: Alliance or Horde. You can submit your photo to Blizzard at the following page.

The Dichotomy of Dungeon Finder LFG Tool and Occulus

Ever since the Dungeon Finder LFG Tool hit the PTR 3.3.0, this dilemma came into view in my mind. One player voiced his concern in a more crude way without actually explaining his reasons, or offering a constructive insight.

Sitting in Dalaran with that 15 min leaver debuff ain’t fun, after getting zoned into Occulus for your random instance (and within 5 next seconds pressing the leave button obviously). I’m sure the rest of the wow community agrees, that this failure of an instance is not a welcome sight on anyone’s loading screen.

Possible solutions:
-Remove Occulus from the random instance pool, so you’ll never end up there.
-Remove Occulus from the game.

Oculus is not fun NOBODY LIKES IT, OK

Removing Occulus from the game is not a logical suggestion, so let’s go into the part that suggests removing Occulus from the random instance pool that is the Dungeon Finder LFG Tool.

Last night, I used the tool to find a group for Occulus in specific. Personally, the only reason I have to go there is to complete two achievements that in months of trial and error, I haven’t been able to complete.

There were various players who would immediately abandon the dungeon when they randomly got sent there. So a shaman and I had to wait until three more people would make their minds to run Occulus in the queue. Obviously some people didn’t even want to waste their time. Have you seen the annoying “No more instances available” message pop again? All these players entering a random Occulus, and abandoning it might be in part responsible for the return of those dreadful messages.

The reason Occulus is not a healthy dungeon to be part of the random dungeon queue is that people are split in this unique dungeon which has 4 separate Achievements. So whenever someone pops into Occulus through the random dungeon queue, you have players who will run it just to:

  • 1. kill all bosses to gain money reward and emblems; or
  • 2. to complete the Make It Count achievement
  • 3. to complete the Ruby Void achievement
  • 4. to complete the Amber Void achievement
  • 5. to complete the Emerald Void achievement

There is a conflict of opposite interests whenever players pop into the Occulus through the random dungeon queue. Each player has a different reason to wish to run the dungeon, and not all players match each other’s wish. One player might need Ruby Void, another might need Amber Void, and another might need Emerald Void, and so on. A player might just want to run through the whole thing to get his money and emblem. People will rather leave the queue and do another dungeon because it requires a length of time to communicate and agree on which achievement to go for.

As an experiment, I queued to run Occulus in specific. Even when I need the Ruby Void and the Make it Count, I stayed silent to observe what players would do. I saw all the people abandon the dungeon at zone in. When the dungeon filled with 5 players who didn’t abandon, we started the dungeon. No one communicated on what they needed from there. I was the leader of the group, and just remained silent to determine what the group would suggest. Someone said: “Get three amber, one green and one red drake”. No one complained, no one made other suggestions, no one said “wait, I need X achievement”.

Did some people needed an achievement done, but decided to stay silent? Did they went through it because at this point, complaining and leaving the dungeon would mark them to not enter another queue for 15 minutes? That’s something I kept wondering, and it may require further analysis asking feedback from players. Either way, there is a dichotomy because this dungeon in specific has four achievements with different requirements. How can you find four people through the random dungeon queue who needs the same achievement as you? Why would you care spending your dungeon run lock to do someone else’s achievement when you need other one? There lies the dilemma.

Removing the Occulus from the random dungeon queue might not be a solution. There are players who would run it without any achievements just to get their emblems. The solution would be treating Occulus as a special and unique dungeon with a separate Dungeon Achievement LFG option with variables.

LFG Occulus: Make it Count
LFG Occulus: Ruby Void
LFG Occulus: Amber Void
LFG Occulus: Emerald Void
LFG Gun’drak: Share the Love
LFG Ahn’kahet: Volazj’s Quick Demise

And so on. That’s the smart-way to go about it without modifying the random dungeon tool. Simply create a achievement LFG tool for those who wish to do a specific achievement matching all the players who need that one from across all servers. You can provide Blizzard feedback about the Occulus and the random dungeon LFG tool here.

GDC 2010: Blizzard Speakers Announced

The Game Developers Conference 2010 will take place at Moscone, San Francisco through March 9-13. Blizzard can be found at the Career Pavillion by Booth 2726. The GDC 2010 kicks off with two Blizzard Entertainment developers joining the speakers roster.

Brian Schwab is Senior AI/Gameplay Engineer II at Blizzard Entertainment. He has worked for Sony, Dreamworks Interactive, Radical Entertainment and The Collective among other studios. He’s credited for Medal of Honor: Underground (2000).

Erin Catto is a Principal Software Engineer and Physics programmer at Blizzard Entertainment. He has worked for Crystal Dynamics and Comergent Technologies as Senior Software Engineer.

The interesting part is they are working on a super-secret project at Blizzard. Could any of this info below offer any hints to extrapolate what this secret project is? Throw in your wild guesses.

Brian Schwab
Senior AI/Gameplay Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment

Brian has over 15 years industry experience, including 13 published titles. He has worked seemingly forever on making engaging and fun game experiences by using a MacGyver style combination of anything nearby: be it academic AI techniques, hand rolled state/tree hybrid systems, or multiplying his birthday with the sum of the jump button presses divided by the number of current extra guys. Brian has done work in AI, gameplay, game design, and has even been lead designer on a few titles. He s worked at companies ranging from three person start ups to SCEA. His projects have ranged from edutainment to location based thrill rides to his current gig on a super-secret project at Blizzard. When not cramming fun into a C++ compiler, he has also spent a good deal of time writing. His book AI Game Engine Programming recently released its second edition, and he s also been an AI editor for the Game Programming Gems books.

Session
AI Architecture Mashups: Insights into Intertwined Architectures
Speaker: Steve Rabin (Principal Software Engineer, Nintendo of America), Kevin Dill (Software Engineer, Lockheed Martin), Brian Schwab (Senior AI/Gameplay Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment)

Date/Time: TBD

Experience Level: Intermediate
Summit: AI Summit
Format: 60-minute Lecture

Session Description
AI programmers rarely use a pure architecture such as a State Machine, Planner, or Behavior Tree in isolation. Rather, several symbiotic architectures are mashed together, resulting in an overall architecture that is unique and powerful in its own way. This lecture is designed as a series of three mini-lectures where you will hear about several mashed up AI architectures along with intriguing lessons and insights.

Idea Takeaway
Insight into the pros, cons, and subtleties of combining various AI architectures.

Erin Catto
Principal Software Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment

Erin has been developing physics engines for the past 10 years. He is currently a physics programmer at Blizzard Entertainment. Previously he worked on dynamic simulation of proteins, mechanical simulation software for computer aided design, and modeling and control of flexible robot arms. Earlier in his life he programmed games on his HP48 calculator, including ANT and JOUST. He holds a Ph.D. in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University.

Session:

Physics for Programmers
Speaker: Jim Van Verth (Senior Tools and Technology Engineer, Insomniac Games), Takahiro Harada (Senior Software Engineer, Havok), Erwin Coumans (Physics Simulation Team Lead, Sony SCEA US R&D), Marq Singer (Engineer, Red Storm Entertainment, Inc), Erin Catto (Principal Software Engineer, Blizzard Entertainment), Glenn Fiedler (Online Game Programmer, Sony Santa Monica)

Date/Time: Wednesday (March 10, 2010) 10:00am

JINX Holiday 2009 T-Shirts Promo

J!NX is offering now a new World of Warcraft Winter Veil Holiday Women T-shirt featuring the cute snow man.

Additionally, they have a special promo code. You can browse through all the available World of Warcraft T-shirts here. Happy shopping!

5% off $50+ order
10% off $100+ order
15% off $150+ order
20% off $200+ order

Use Promotion Code: GIVEMELOOT
This offer expires Thursday, December 31, 2009 at Midnight EST, so don’t wait!

*Not Valid in combination with any other offer or discount.

BlizzCast # 12: 15 Years of Warcraft Interview

Those who visit Blizzplanet, if you haven’t heard the BlizzCast # 12 released a few days ago, this is a good time to do so. I suggest bringing some snacks and juice with you before loading this podcast, because it is 59:10 minutes long.

The first 40 minutes we have Karune interviewing Chris Metzen (Senior VP of Creative Design), Rob Pardo (Executive VP of Game Design) and Samwise Didier (Senior Art Director). This is a very interesting interview which goes in-depth through the development of each of the Warcraft games starting with Warcraft: Orc and Humans, Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness, Warcraft II: Beyond the Dark Portal, Warcraft III and World of Warcraft.

Lots of funny moments, old-die-hard debates between Rob Pardo and Samwise come afloat right in the middle of the interview [Blademaster’s mirror images not making damage] — that was an epic Rob Pardo facepalm moment (“oh lord, not here, not right now. Again …”). This kind of interview is what makes anyone wish to be a Blizzard employee making games, and having fun while making them.

The second part of the BlizzCast 12 is led by Nethaera who asked Tom Chilton (Game Director), J. Allen Brack (Production Director) and Jeff kaplan (former Game Director) what made them join the production of the WoW team, and their previous experience with games. How difficult it was to translate the RTS game into a MMO.

It’s interesting to learn that all three of them were former Warcraft: Orcs and Humans players and were fans of Blizzard Entertainment. Gotta say this because there are many talented fans out there whose dream is to one day work at their studios in Irvine. Download the BlizzCast # 12 podcast here (Transcript available)

J. Allen Brack: You want to tell the Adham story, post-E3 Adham story? I think that’s pretty good.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah! Okay, when WoW was in early development, we had this moment where we were going to show at our first E3 and it was a very scary time for the dev. team, and exciting at the same time, because you’re kind of putting it out there and hoping there’s a good reaction. We showed at that E3 and the game was received well, but there were other games that really did well and the press was talking about a lot. One in particular was Star Wars Galaxies, and they had this awesome movie that they showed and they won “Best of Show.” Afterwards, we’re kind of having this team meeting about, “what did you guys see at E3?” And there were some members of the development team that were kind of down a little bit and they were saying, “man I don’t know, how can we compete with Star Wars? We all grew up with Star Wars and Everquest II’s coming out and there’s all of these great games coming out right now.” And Allen Adham, who was one of the original founders of Blizzard and who was the lead designer on the project at the time, stood up in front of the team and said, “guys this game is going to have a million subscribers.” And we were just blown away because most of the team was thinking if we could have in the ballpark of a couple hundred thousand subscribers, the game would be a great success. At that time, that’s what a successful MMO did.
Nethaera: Right, at the time, nobody knew a number like a million subscribers.

Jeffrey Kaplan: Yeah, exactly. To have basically the leader of our company and our lead designer at the time stand up in front of the team who we all had tremendous faith in and say, “you guys are going to get a million subscribers, this game is that good,” was kind of shocking to us. It was a great pep talk. And yet at the same time, after Allen left the room there was some of that, “is he crazy? A million? How are we ever going to do that?”

Joystiq: Frank Pearce Talks Blizzard History

Joystiq cornered Frank Pearce to learn how Blizzard Entertainment was born since its early incarnation Silicon & Synapse. This interview can be quite educational on the history of Blizzard for those fans who joined later on with World of Warcraft, or Warcraft III and wish to learn more about the company’s roots.

Frank Pearce was a co-founder of the original studios along with Mike Morhaime and Allen Adham back on 1991.

There was a part that caught my attention:

Speaking of marketing, some people have been asking, “Can we please get a girl in one of those ‘What’s Your Game’ ads?”

Pearce: Do you have any suggestions about who would be a good candidate?

I probably have a long list I could send over.

Pearce: We are always brainstorming ideas for people for that style of commercials. I think a woman doing those commercials would be awesome. Send us your top three we will forward it to the marketing guys

Ohh … I can see it coming. Jessica Alba (Undead Rogue), Shakira (Human Warlock), Adrianne Curry (Night Elf Warrior). Bring it on, Blizzard !!! Read the full interview

Game of the Decade: Final Four

The powers of Azeroth are once more needed! Orum No’Bendir! Orum No’Mallah! Vohl Um Aranar … An’delahna! Power we have! Power we share! Out of many into One! [Council of Tirisfal’s words to empower a Guardian].

CrispyGamer is ready to start the votes to select the Game of the Decade. World of Warcraft stands before Halo: Combat Evolved in the Chocobo / Bo Jackson Division while Super Smash Bros Melee tackles Half-Life 2.

Cast your vote on World of Warcraft here.

As of the posting of this article at 12:10pm EST, World of Warcraft is ahead for 15 votes — what were you expecting? The poll was just opened. Go-go-go!

World of Warcraft 58% (55 votes)
Halo: Combat Evolved 42% (40 votes)

Blizzard Holiday Dessert Contest 2009

Blizzard has launched a new contest aimed at fans who have leveled up their real life cooking experience. Use your skills to create food shaped like anything from the main Blizzard franchises: popular characters, mobs, buildings, or objects.

What can be better than fresh-baked cookies or cakes? Cookies, cakes, and scrumptious desserts created with care to represent elements of the Warcraft, StarCraft, or Diablo universes, of course! We’re holding our Blizzard Holiday Dessert contest again and calling out all those talented bakers and pastry chefs to get out their flour, sugar, and rolling pins to create something amazing to tantalize the eye. Find out more on our contest page!

Prize

Ten amazing delicious delights will be chosen to win one set of the following books:

Arthas, Night of the Dragon, Beyond the Dark Portal, Tides of Darkness, Rise of the Horde, War of the Ancients Archive, and the Warcraft Archive

Fall of the Lich King Cinematic

Fall of the Lich King, the latest World of Warcraft content update, is now live! The heroes of the Horde and the Alliance have faced unimaginable horrors and suffered terrible losses in their desperate struggle against the Scourge. Now the time has come to break through the fortified gates of Icecrown Citadel and confront the Lich King in the frozen heart of his domain. Follow Jaina Proudmoore or Sylvanas Windrunner through the Forge of Souls, Pit of Saron, and Halls of Reflection in an attempt to subvert the Lich King’s army in a new multi-wing 5-player dungeon.

Join the Ashen Verdict as they charge through the citadel’s main gate to take on the Scourge’s most powerful leaders and fearsome monstrosities in a new 10- and 25-player raid. Fall of the Lich King also introduces the cross-realm Dungeon Finder interface, new quest-tracking features designed to make it easier to find objectives, and much more.

Watch the trailer now, or check out our Fall of the Lich King page or official patch notes for more information.

Add an Authenticator, Adopt a Core Hound

Show everyone in Azeroth that you’re serious about account security with man’s (and orc’s) best friend! Beginning today, any World of Warcraft player who protects his or her Battle.net account using either a Blizzard Authenticator or the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator will get their very own in-game Core Hound Pup, a fiery and feisty guard-dog pet. Adopting this molten mutt is easy: If you’ve got any kind of Authenticator attached to your account, you’ll find your new canine companion waiting for you the next time you log in.

We’ve also just released a new Blizzard Authenticator token featuring a Core Hound-themed look and design. Click here to order one through the online Blizzard Store. For more information on account security and the various Authenticator options available to you, check out our Account Security and Authenticator pages.

Core Hound Pup Pet FAQ

How do I get the special Core Hound Pup pet for Authenticator users?

If you have a Blizzard Authenticator or Battle.net Mobile Authenticator attached to your Battle.net account, you