MMO-Champion - Visions of Time: Hidden Threads, Dev Interviews, Blue Posts, Cinder Kitten Sale, Art
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Patch 5.4 - Visions of Time: Hidden Threads
Patch 5.4 adds a quest line on the Timeless Isle that involves working for Kairoz of the Keepers of Time. He is on the Timeless Isle because the Bronze Dragonflight is not as powerful as it once was, only being able to catch furtive glimpses through time. He has created an hourglass that will allow for a window into the timeways, but you must collect 50 x Epoch Stones to make it usable.

After collecting the stones, you embark on a series of weekly quests to use the Vision of Time in different locations to calibrate the Vision of Time. Kairoz eventually will reveal that there is a traitor among the Bronze Dragonflight.

As the hourglass grows more powerful, he will send you to the Siege of Orgrimmar to look at one of the most devastating timeways you can find, which is the scene you see below. This uses the damaged Stormwind Harbor area we posted a few weeks ago.

You can join the ongoing discussion on the forums!



Patch 5.4 Developer Interviews
The Starting Zone recently had a chance to interview Marco Koegler (Technical Director). You can find information from previous interviews on our Patch 5.4 Developer Interviews page.


New Player Models
  • Blizzard isn't ready to show off any of the new player models yet, but hopefully will have an announcement soon.
  • One of the human models was changed six years ago and there was a large uproar over how the eye blink changed.
  • Changing the player model risks causing players to no longer feel attached to their character.
  • Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO.

Game Engine
  • The engine is about 12 or 13 years old now, but has been improved constantly.
  • For a long time it was mandatory to maintain the same visual look across all hardware, but recently they have diverged from that idea, allowing the team to do some nicer things at the higher end.
  • The last two expansions increased the minimum requirements on the boxes, but the team still tries to support the hardware from older minimum requirements.
  • Switching to another existing engine wouldn't make a lot of sense, as the WoW engine has been optimized for certain things that aren't supported well (or at all) in off the shelf engines. For example, moving to an engine that used more dynamic lighting and bump mapping would also require reauthoring most of the existing textures that have been created over the years. This would take a very long time and come at the cost of new content.

Misc
  • There was a bug at the Mists of Pandaria launch that made it harder to interact with objects the longer you raided, which is something that the developers noticed during their own play time and were able to fix.
  • The systems have been improved to where downleveling your character to play with a friend that is leveling is technically possible, but there aren't any announcements to make.


Mists of Pandaria Story
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The debate over faction story development continues internally here at Blizzard, as it does on the forums and elsewhere.

Any chance we can get more updates on that debate? We get constant updates on gameplay mechanics from Ghostcrawler and other CMs about their thoughts and feelings, but we only rarely hear things from Kosak and friends. It'd be very helpful if they started talking to us and telling us what they're hearing, because right now it seems like there's a really big communication gap.

It's something we're working on. I'd love to set up more story-centric interviews and conversations with the community. But, while Dave and Greg are both design leads, it's very difficult to compare their tasks, workloads, and roles within the community.

Systems design is extremely complicated, but it revolves primarily around math. It's easier to have a conversation over class balance concerns and walk away with some objective, actionable feedback. We also try not to change classes too dramatically from patch to patch -- we don't want people logging in and suddenly not knowing how to play their class every time they download a new patch. Greg can talk about general changes early on in a patch's development cycle, and then he can take feedback and look at an array of statistical data we collect in order to finetune numbers closer to the patch's release.

Story development works very differently. Concerns are much more subjective. This isn't to say they're inherently less valuable, as we're always taking careful note of what the popular opinion is on a given topic. But, there's often a degree of complexity to story development concerns that certainly can't be addressed by changing a couple values somewhere in the game code. And the story we want to tell, combined with the gameplay we want to introduce, is determined much earlier on in development than what class balance will look like in patch X.

For example, there are several people in this thread asserting that the entire concept of the Siege of Orgrimmar is flawed from a story perspective, particularly for the Alliance. Well, we knew Siege of Orgrimmar would be the final raid of Mists of Pandaria before the expansion was revealed at BlizzCon 2011, and the story framework for how we'd get there was already more or less in place. So, even when we do react directly to feedback about story concerns, we're looking much more at the big picture here, and what stories we want to tell and how they should unfold over the course of several patches (or even expansions).

We can make some tweaks and refine some story arcs along the way, but regardless of the discussions taking place right now, the 5.4 story is set. It has been for quite some time. That's in big contrast to the aspects of systems design that draw the most discussion (i.e. mainly class balance).

So, tying this back to the varying capacities in which Dave and Greg engage the community, I couldn't be very liberal with Dave's time when it came to booking interviews. I found about an hour of his time (hour and a half if you count that I stole part of his lunch break) and sat him down for back-to-back interviews -- in, out, and done in one swoop. The reason being that his role in the development of a patch happens at a very different stage of the cycle. At this point he's not actively reading PTR feedback and tweaking how the Horde and Alliance are responding to the threat of Garrosh, or deciding to rework the conclusion of the siege. It's way too late for that, and he's already very busy working on the stories yet to unfold in World of Warcraft. And, yes, in that space he takes popular feedback to heart.

Dave Kosak... I just don't know anyone more passionate about this game's narrative, or more burdened with the responsibility of making sure that the story is fun to play through regardless of the faction, race, or class a player chooses. He cares deeply about you feeling personally invested in what you're doing, and whether you're red or blue certainly doesn't change that.

All this being stated, I want to add more words to this post.

Part of my role on the WoW Community Team is fansite/influencer relations, which includes booking developer interviews. I've been on the team for six years, but I took on the role of fansite relations shortly before Mists of Pandaria was released. Not counting things like PAX or other press events, I've been responsible for booking developer interviews for five press rounds (5.0-5.4). Each time I experiment with the formula by trying to cover different formats, give different sites or people a chance to talk to the devs, etc.

Looking back on the last five rounds to determine how we can improve the process and results going forward, I'll tell you right now that I'm most interested in bringing story discussion more to the forefront of interviews -- including WoW devs like Dave Kosak, as well as folks from Creative Dev like Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson -- and getting our artists involved more regularly, 'cause you don't hear from them enough. And finally, while I understand the importance of having a mix of text, audio, and video formats, I want the developers on camera more. I believe strongly that the more you get to see and hear the individual behind the name, the better!

My friends and I have a running joke. If you're a Monk leveling through Pandaria (or a Pandaren for that matter) it's a bizarre experience, because no one recognizes you. They treat you like as much as a freak as everyone else. Now, obviously its unreasonable to ask to have different quests. But it's the bare-bones minimum to ask to see different text when chatting with NPCs.

Anyway, the joke: "We don't see many of your kind around here, Monk," says the Pandaren surrounded by Monks. We use it as slang for when something small catapults you out of immersion in a game. So, I have read and understand your words, but...eh. No one's perfect and WoW is huge, but c'mon.

Hah! I know what you mean. And I bet if you sat down with Dave to talk about that over a spot of tea, you'd find that those types of things bother him as well.

In all, Mists of Pandaria has a plethora of good examples where we implemented content in new ways to avoid immersion-breaking moments like that. But we're definitely not perfect, and we have to weigh the time/resources it takes to address an issue like the one you recounted, versus working on other things. I know some people hate seeing such an excuse, but the truth is it's a very real challenge we face everyday. Game development on World of Warcraft virtually never stops. In general, every task has to be looked at from all angles so an accurate estimate of time and resources can be made, before the task is green-lit and prioritized among all others.

Using the issue you noted as an example, we have to ask ourselves questions like, "Do we want to make sure Pandaren questing in Pandaria have a lot of unique VO and quest text, or do we want to design a rich gameplay experience on the Isle of Thunder in patch 5.2?" That's not literally what it came down to, but sometimes the choices are that stark.

Raid Testing Schedule - August 29
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
On Thursday, August 29, we will continue testing raid encounters in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid.

Each encounter should be available at approximately the listed times below for all Public Test Realms.

Thursday, August 29
  • Immerseus - 25 Player Heroic - 10:30 PDT (13:30 EDT, 19:30 CEST)
  • Iron Juggernaut - 25 Player Heroic - 13:30 PDT (16:30 EDT, 22:30 CEST)
  • Siegecrafter Blackfuse - 25 Player Heroic - 16:00 PDT (19:00 EDT, 01:00 CEST)

As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a beta environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the boss being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Battlefield: Barrens Ending Soon
Will the Radical Mojo be BOA / BOE after 5.4 or not.
No. As the armor tokens and weekly quest are going away, Radical Mojo won't be obtainable once Patch 5.4 hits. However, as we've stated before, Gahz’rooki’s Summoning Stone, Raptorhide Boxing Gloves, and the Kor’Kron Supply Satchel can still be found on the Kor'Kron mobs in Northern Barrens. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Scaling up Old Dungeons and Raids
I think you might be referring to this interview with Vanion. We still need to find an appropriate reward scheme for the scaled up content though, so feel free to share your eureka moments, might help out our devs and eventually speed things up a bit, as Tom said, we won’t be seeing this happen until some point in the future.

I don’t know about you guys, but personally, this news is so exciting that I think I’ll be running faster than usual for a while.

To me it spells good news, even though it could be considered "recycled content". It'd be nice to give these older things more attention and bumping them up to the level cap seems to be the right way to go.
I see it as a chance to make all that incredibly rich and awesome “lost” content relevant once again.
I always felt it was a tiny bit disheartening to see such well-designed dungeons that used to be the “crème de la crème” of past expansions, end up being skipped by most new players. I mean, new content should still be the main focus and the most rewarding, but if we can revive it in a way that it does justice to what that content once was and to the challenges that it used to represent, then I think it can come out as awesome fresh new experiences for new players and at the same time provide a much higher diversity of content at max level for everyone else.

New content is great but “new” is such a fleeting thing… I think diversity is just as important as freshness. More available dungeons = less chance to get bored. We’ll see how this goes (if/when this comes out), but I’m sure I will enjoy it no matter what, can’t wait to run some of my favourite dungeons once again at max level, and there are so many of them!

I also like the challenge of trying to solo older raids, but I guess that's just me.
Please take this is with a grain of salt, but I believe the current idea would be to still preserve the option to run content at their originally designed level if the player wishes to. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Patch 5.4 - Echo of Elements
One of the complaints about Elemental Shamans has generally been directly linked to the procs coming from Echo of the Elements. Because of the recent change to Echo of the Elements on the PTR, you should not be too concerned for any minor increases to the damage of Lava Burst as it will no longer be chain-casted onto you in PvP. We do still appreciate any of the feedback that you have on the 5.4 PTR.

You can see the change to Echo of Elements here:
Echo of the Elements' spell duplication effect can no longer occur more than once every 4 seconds when used against hostile players, and their pets or guardians. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

25% Off Cinder Kitten Pet - This Week Only
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Every hero needs a sidekick to watch their six, and this ferocious kitty is up to the task. The Cinder Kitten is fierce and fiery, and your enemies will think twice about engaging you in a fight when this feline is at your side. Scoop this little guy up for 25% off this week only (sale ends September 3, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PDT).

Adopt now! (EU)

Blizzard Art
Blizzard has added more pieces to the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Art gallery.

This article was originally published in forum thread: Visions of Time: Hidden Threads, Dev Interviews, Blue Posts, Cinder Kitten Sale, Art started by chaud View original post
Comments 92 Comments
  1. Zachary's Avatar
    "An announcement soon".

    That sounds promising actually? Yay for new models.
  1. MrExcelion's Avatar
    That Epoch stone quest sure looks like quite the grind Chaud, needing to get 50 Epoch Stones every week for 6 weeks. Wonder what the reward (and roleplay) is at the end. Maybe a chieve and the 10k coins you get along the way.
  1. Dead_MAX's Avatar
    Who is that person (In the video) between Jaina and Taran Zhu? ....It looks like a zandalari troll to me, but i do not recognize it.
  1. Oneirophobia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Megara View Post
    "An announcement soon".

    That sounds promising actually? Yay for new models.
    The announcement is going to be, "we scrapped them lel they mean too much to us."


    Basically I have no hopes so I could possibly be pleasantly surprised at one point.
  1. TCceen's Avatar
    They seriously worry about a few people being upset over a slight variation in eye blinking... yet they give my warlock cast while running for 1 full year... then take it away because it was never intended... yeah ok makes total sense!

    phasing and items like the ones in dalaran that make you see everyone as a mage prove you can have both new and old models, turn them on or off, etc. There are no excuses. As it is I've been with WoW since original beta but looking at Everquest Next... it looks like a WoW 2.0 with a lot more fun and actual evolutionary play mechanics (changing destructible worlds, the soe emote etc) combined with everquest next landmark or EQ minecraft you could say? I really need to see something striking, amazing and yes 'evolutionary' from blizzard come this next Blizzcon.

    Tier upon tier of disposable raiding is not evolutionary it's rinse and repeat. Even something as simple as player housing would have a long lasting effect on gameplay, interactivity and non disposable achievement from level 1 to max.
  1. Oneirophobia's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Oneirophobia View Post
    The announcement is going to be, "we scrapped them lel they mean too much to us."


    Basically I have no hopes so I could possibly be pleasantly surprised at one point.
    Female draenei I thought. :x

    If its a troll, it could be zen'tabra. She's... kind of a leader sort of not really, reoccurring character... something something like hamuul runetotem.
  1. tusker's Avatar
    As for giving players option A vs. option B for player models, it might not be technically possible depending on how much the new models are changed compared to their old (current) counterparts. If they're redoing skeletons and stuff, everything for how the armor fits might change.... Either way -- when they introduce the new models, you know sure as hell know there will be an outpouring of people screaming that X and Y races suck, etc. Oh well. They're likely to be the minority.
  1. Exploitbat's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Dead_MAX View Post
    Who is that person (In the video) between Jaina and Taran Zhu? ....It looks like a zandalari troll to me, but i do not recognize it.

    That's Tyrande! xD

    I hate Tyrande's new skin, I dislike Jaina's new skin and I know I will hate the new player skins aswell!
  1. VanishO2's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by TCceen View Post
    They seriously worry about a few people being upset over a slight variation in eye blinking... yet they give my warlock cast while running for 1 full year... then take it away because it was never intended... yeah ok makes total sense!

    phasing and items like the ones in dalaran that make you see everyone as a mage prove you can have both new and old models, turn them on or off, etc. There are no excuses. As it is I've been with WoW since original beta but looking at Everquest Next... it looks like a WoW 2.0 with a lot more fun and actual evolutionary play mechanics (changing destructible worlds, the soe emote etc) combined with everquest next landmark or EQ minecraft you could say? I really need to see something striking, amazing and yes 'evolutionary' from blizzard come this next Blizzcon.

    Tier upon tier of disposable raiding is not evolutionary it's rinse and repeat. Even something as simple as player housing would have a long lasting effect on gameplay, interactivity and non disposable achievement from level 1 to max.
    And then, they will have to fit every piece of gear they do for both models if they change those models a lot. New cast animations, etc... extra work, not something that Blizzard enjoy...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by The Illusive Man View Post
    They said "Updating player models has never been done successfully in an MMO" which means that they clearly refer to any MMO and not just big ones like WoW.

    This is just BS and they know it. If you are a Blizz official and tell the media that no other MMO has ever successfully updated its models then you are clearly stupid.
    Or maybe they just don't consider that an mmo worth mentioning...
  1. Mukki's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Exploitbat View Post
    That's Tyrande! xD

    I hate Tyrande's new skin, I dislike Jaina's new skin and I know I will hate the new player skins aswell!
    People like you are the reason we're stuck with gross 2004 models.
  1. Aven Blackery's Avatar
    I seriously doubt the new models could look worse than the current ones for me. Unless they become very deformed or something which shouldn't happen. Can't wait for the announcement!
  1. zaneosak's Avatar
    Everquest released new models just a few years into its existence (I believe it was the 4th expansion, Planes of Power) and they were just fine. They also gave the option to toggle between New and Old models for people that 1) didnt like the new models, but more importantly 2) PCs couldn't handle them.

    I dont see why this shouldnt be an option. It could require a game client restart to toggle them.
  1. Nerraw's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Baalb View Post
    "We might have to do the item squish because database limitation". Whut?
    You should read up on 32bit and 64bit integers and realize what actually happens when you're forced to go from one to the other. Hint: The impact has to do with resource usage.
  1. ItachiZaku's Avatar
    I like my Tauren. The others... well, i like my BE priest, i really wouldn't mind updated models.
  1. Romanthony's Avatar
    Announcement soon? I always said they will announce the new models at blizzcon
  1. Moraven's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Theendgamelv3 View Post
    There isn't any MMO as huge and old as WoW. Not only that Everquest has updated its models in the past which is a big mmo.
    But successfully, they did not. At the time the new models requirement twice as much RAM and more graphical power, which probably at the time, affected a lot of their playerbase. I remember simply just enabling my race's new model only.
  1. snakeeyesma81's Avatar
    Because the playerbase is full of a bunch of crybaby primadonnas, at this point blizz has trouble pulling the trigger on ANY features, for fear of mass panic and rage....
  1. Unholyground's Avatar
    The quality increase on the models can already be seen, look at the new Garrosh model VS his old one, that I can almost guarantee will be the quality increase across the board for all the models.
  1. Shurkuris's Avatar
    "One of the human models was changed six years ago and there was a large uproar over how the eye blink changed."
    Can someone explain to me the joke about this?

    "Changing the player model risks causing players to no longer feel attached to their character."
    So somehow I can relate to my "character" because his armor hides his/her body's current model. But I can't fall in love somehow with a new model hidden under the exact same clothes...

    Under this assumption I should hate all new races and other MMO characters. Because they are different, and in fact probably more detailed than the last.

    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."
    People say Everquest did this, but I haven't played/followed that game at all.

    Isn't Runescape a pretty good example? I don't remember them bitching about how hard their lives would be doing that.

    "The systems have been improved to where downleveling your character to play with a friend that is leveling is technically possible, but there aren't any announcements to make."
    Ya more GW2 stuff, it would be nice to actually play with friends on a even playing level.
  1. DeathbyFrostBomb73's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by snakeeyesma81 View Post
    Because the playerbase is full of a bunch of crybaby primadonnas, at this point blizz has trouble pulling the trigger on ANY features, for fear of mass panic and rage....
    Someone should just make a thread that says
    "I Will Hate Everything New Blizzard Does To WOW"

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