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. UnifiedDivide's Avatar
    Christ, how thick can you people get?
    When they say models have never been updated successfully, they mean without ANY player of that game complaining about them. How hard is that to grasp? And hey, guess what, they're right. People even complained a lot about the Everquest model update, which many of you are so quick to point out. Runescape made an entire sequel to update models and not everyone loved those either.

    So yes, Blizzard are correct in saying that no MMO has ever updated models successfully.
    Most of you are only complaining because they mentioned they were actually doing them just before MoP went live. You'd not have batted an eyelid about the models if they hadn't mentioned them. I've seen people say they will come back to WoW for new models despite leaving the game because they hated it. Logic doesn't work well with most WoW players, current or ex.

    And considering this "fan" base that WoW has, I'd want to take my sweet time to get them done right too.
  1. ShobuBlaze's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by UnifiedDivide View Post
    Christ, how thick can you people get?
    When they say models have never been updated successfully, they mean without ANY player of that game complaining about them. How hard is that to grasp? And hey, guess what, they're right. People even complained a lot about the Everquest model update, which many of you are so quick to point out. Runescape made an entire sequel to update models and not everyone loved those either.

    So yes, Blizzard are correct in saying that no MMO has ever updated models successfully.
    Most of you are only complaining because they mentioned they were actually doing them just before MoP went live. You'd not have batted an eyelid about the models if they hadn't mentioned them. I've seen people say they will come back to WoW for new models despite leaving the game because they hated it. Logic doesn't work well with most WoW players, current or ex.

    And considering this "fan" base that WoW has, I'd want to take my sweet time to get them done right too.
    Finally someone with a brain. Believe it or not, Blizzard actually cares about its player base. Shocking, right?
  1. Miakisaki's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Shurkuris View Post
    "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.
    EverQuest 1 did successfully update every player model when Luclin came out AND gave people the choice between newer and older models. Developers will never satisfy 100% of the playerbase with any changes made to the game, so "success" can't really be gauged in that manner unless the models are universally hated. I know for certain they were not hated in EQ1 as most of the hate was directed toward the terrible gameplay choices (farming Lucid Shards, ugh) in the expansion and onward.

    Blizzard wording it this way means they either don't want to recognize or mention EverQuest. Whether or not they feel threatened by EQNext, who can say. I wouldn't doubt it though.
  1. rickhunterr's Avatar
    Anyone else notice which race faction leaders made it through the damaged Stormwind Harbor vision? Draenei, Gnome, Dwarf, I wonder why?
  1. EGTactics's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Miakisaki View Post
    EverQuest 1 did successfully update every player model when Luclin came out AND gave people the choice between newer and older models. Developers will never satisfy 100% of the playerbase with any changes made to the game, so "success" can't really be gauged in that manner unless the models are universally hated. I know for certain they were not hated in EQ1 as most of the hate was directed toward the terrible gameplay choices (farming Lucid Shards, ugh) in the expansion and onward.

    Blizzard wording it this way means they either don't want to recognize or mention EverQuest. Whether or not they feel threatened by EQNext, who can say. I wouldn't doubt it though.
    Wouldn't surprise me.

    If you're seriously praising Blizzard and their "outreach" with the community, think you need to take a step back and really look at their responses/stances are on a lot of pressing issues.
  1. Matty710's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Miakisaki View Post
    EverQuest 1 did successfully update every player model when Luclin came out AND gave people the choice between newer and older models. Developers will never satisfy 100% of the playerbase with any changes made to the game, so "success" can't really be gauged in that manner unless the models are universally hated. I know for certain they were not hated in EQ1 as most of the hate was directed toward the terrible gameplay choices (farming Lucid Shards, ugh) in the expansion and onward.

    Blizzard wording it this way means they either don't want to recognize or mention EverQuest. Whether or not they feel threatened by EQNext, who can say. I wouldn't doubt it though.
    I came here to say this. The Blizzard fanboys trying to spin it so that it takes every single person to be happy with a change for it to be considered "successful" are delusional. If that's the standard they want to go with then I guess WoW is an abysmal failure, huh? The EverQuest team did a phenomenal job with the new player models, and allowing players to choose which models they used at the time was genius. Why Blizzard refuses to give credit where credit is due is beyond me.
  1. CaptainArlong's Avatar
    Hey that's great. Me, I've grown detached from the entire WoW game because I keep playing newer games that show me just how outdated WoW is graphics wise. Yep, 12-13 year old engine, and the player models are the exact same age. I got tired of hiding my character in armor that was just as ugly, a bunch of blocks and polygons that had texture painted on them like some old PS1 game. I played Undead, and while the blocky painted armor might have hid some things, I still had to see the rectangle bones and low-resolution fingers/toes poking out of the boots and gloves.

    Update the game, and forget the people that are attached to such old graphics. Make it free to play, I'd be back. $15 a month for such an aged game though? Nope.
  1. snuzzle's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by The Illusive Man View Post
    I´d say so. This is just a lazy excuse of Blizz to somehow calm the players down because how could you expect new models of no other MMO did it successfully?

    So it takes them ages to create new models because Blizz fears the special snowflakes? Would you guys rather play as a misshaped Human or a good looking one? Ok it could happen that your favorite hairstyle is no longer available, so what? You then choose another one.
    Runescape and Everquest both have successfully updated player models without fuss, just off the top of my head.

    I think the longer they wait, the bigger peoples' expectations get, and the more likely players will be disappointed or unhappy. They ought to at least just show us what they've got like they did with the druid forms. Give us a bit of what to expect now, so we don't keep building the hype only to have it inevitably dashed later.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by UnifiedDivide View Post
    Christ, how thick can you people get?
    When they say models have never been updated successfully, they mean without ANY player of that game complaining about them. How hard is that to grasp? And hey, guess what, they're right. People even complained a lot about the Everquest model update, which many of you are so quick to point out. Runescape made an entire sequel to update models and not everyone loved those either.
    Seriously? Something isn't successful if ANY single player complains about it?

    In that case, nothing in WoW is successful, the game has been nothing but an abysmal failure. Shut down the servers, folks. Some players are unhappy so it's not successful.
  1. SodiumChloride's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerraw View Post
    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.
    I doubt it. I'm quite sure their CPUs are already 64 bit. RAM is cheaper than ever.
  1. moonripper's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Unholyground View Post
    Did you see the new Garrosh model? that is what they will look like but green.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gqht1AI1htM

    I'm glad they changed Garrosh from his Cata model, he does look much better. But his Cata model is a perfect example of my argument, I found it to be awful, and if my orcs had to use that model I'd stop playing. I realize I'm only one person, and my one sub loss wouldn't make a difference, but this is what Blizz is being careful of.
  1. Gallowglas's Avatar
    Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO.
    Funny...EQ did it and I didn't hear many complaints. In fact, almost everyone was ecstatic about the updates.
  1. ChaosWolf's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mementomori1993 View Post
    God damn, I didn't realize how much is riding on these new models. Now I can understand why they are only 25% done. Blizzard is really rolling the dice here, but knowing them the new models will be well done.
    Exactly. Which is why all the "rarghblargle Y U only 25% done Blizz" complaining is so laughable. Far too many people think that just because they play this game, that it somehow magically means they know everything about the game and how it functions, when that couldn't be further from the truth.
  1. iamthedevil's Avatar
    The artwork is better then the end product.
  1. Daniri's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Miakisaki View Post
    EverQuest 1 did successfully update every player model when Luclin came out AND gave people the choice between newer and older models. Developers will never satisfy 100% of the playerbase with any changes made to the game, so "success" can't really be gauged in that manner unless the models are universally hated. I know for certain they were not hated in EQ1 as most of the hate was directed toward the terrible gameplay choices (farming Lucid Shards, ugh) in the expansion and onward.

    Blizzard wording it this way means they either don't want to recognize or mention EverQuest. Whether or not they feel threatened by EQNext, who can say. I wouldn't doubt it though.
    I never played EQ but I know that you're wrong. One of the first things I learned about EQ while reading the FoH guild forums back in 2002 was the uproar the new player models caused. Even reading about P1999 I still see the same arguments.

    Also, your attempt to build up EQNext as the next great WoW threat is amusing. EQ2 was WoW's first competitor and it got crushed. Try some humility this time around.
  1. Aerisot's Avatar
    Why can't they just offer a way to upgrade your character model, like a race change, so those who wanna keep their old models can, and those that want to change can change.
  1. Matty710's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Daniri View Post
    I never played EQ but I know that you're wrong. One of the first things I learned about EQ while reading the FoH guild forums back in 2002 was the uproar the new player models caused. Even reading about P1999 I still see the same arguments.

    Also, your attempt to build up EQNext as the next great WoW threat is amusing. EQ2 was WoW's first competitor and it got crushed. Try some humility this time around.
    right....

    Well I did play EQ, and I know that YOU are wrong. The majority of players liked the new models.

    As for EQNext, I'm sure it won't kill WoW. The only thing that's going to kill WoW is time. I do hope EQNext is good though. I'm looking forward to it.
  1. Daniri's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Matty710 View Post
    right....

    Well I did play EQ, and I know that YOU are wrong. The majority of players liked the new models.

    As for EQNext, I'm sure it won't kill WoW. The only thing that's going to kill WoW is time. I do hope EQNext is good though. I'm looking forward to it.
    Yeah, no. You may have been playing EQ but you certainly weren't reading the forums then or now if you never saw the enormous drama over the model update. Not only do I think Blizzard was not ignoring EQ, but that it was the foremost example in their minds of a poorly received model update.

    And note when I say poorly received I don't mean the majority hated them, but that a sizable or at least considerably vocal portion of the playerbase had a problem with it.
  1. Zelbert's Avatar
    Oh my gawds, the Infinite Dragonflight!
  1. prwraith's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Daniri View Post
    Yeah, no. You may have been playing EQ but you certainly weren't reading the forums then or now if you never saw the enormous drama over the model update. Not only do I think Blizzard was not ignoring EQ, but that it was the foremost example in their minds of a poorly received model update.

    And note when I say poorly received I don't mean the majority hated them, but that a sizable or at least considerably vocal portion of the playerbase had a problem with it.
    Except for the fact that you know. the models were toggle able.

    As in they werent forced on anyone. And you had to manually toggle them on to begin with. Which is probably a far better way to do it than what blizzard will do.
  1. Daniri's Avatar
    I don't know what you mean "except". Except what? Do you think that stopped the complaining? It didn't.

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