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. Shudder's Avatar
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."

    There was a time, not long ago when Blizzard liked being the first to do things. Instead of just copying other mmo's and giving bull shit excuses, they actually innovated. These ghosts they're referring to that will be upset that their hair lip is gone are exactly that, ghosts. They don't exist. In fact, I'd say the majority of the population will see the new models, go "oh hey that's cool" and then never think about it again because most of the time your gear covers everything up anyways. I play zoomed out as far as I can when I raid so I don't even remember what my character looks like.
  1. Kryos's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Shudder View Post
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."
    There was a time, not long ago when Blizzard liked being the first to do things.
    I play Blizzard WoW since day 1 and I ask you: When was that? Blizzard always copied old ideas and polished them until the mass market liked them.
  1. Daniri's Avatar
    I thought the popular sentiment has always been that Blizzard doesn't innovate but rather takes what's already out there and polishes it.
  1. Matty710'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.
    Yeah I'm sure your reading of a forum makes you an expert on all things Everquest.
    You are still wrong.
    The majority of players liked the models. A large portion of those who didn't like them simply never turned them on. Some drama on a forum isn't going to change that.
    No change made to an MMO has ever made 100% of the playerbase happy. You said yourself that the majority didn't hate them. That's the definition of success in the MMO world.

    Blizzard is choosing to ignore the successful implementation of new character models in order to bolster up their arguments for the delay in their own new models.
  1. F-Minus'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.
    Who fucking cares really

    Even in the most perfect scenario, there is going to be people who will dislike, despise & hate change or new stuff regarding the whole universe let alone a multiplayer game. I can guarantee you right here and now, that when we finally get new models, there's going to be so much trash talk about how bad they are and that everyone wants the old ones back that the official forums are going to explode.

    It's been that way since forever, but the love & hate camps are about equally big, the biggest of the camps however is those who don't give a shit if there's old or new models, but would welcome a change to high fidelity, not demand it, but welcome.
  1. Daniri's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Matty710 View Post
    Yeah I'm sure your reading of a forum makes you an expert on all things Everquest.
    If only we were talking about all things Everquest this might have been a worthwhile sentence. The question is whether there was backlash against updated models and don't try and change it to anything else.

    Quote Originally Posted by TenTonHammer View Post
    On the flip side, the other half have been playing with their characters for up to seven years. Having a different skin, different eye shape, or even different body frame may perturb them. Back in 2001 Everquest launched Everquest: Shadows of Luclin which included the “Luclin models” which were a new set of character models (including armor). Many players felt that the changes were unwelcomed and ruined their game which is why players now have the ability to switch between post Luclin and pre-Luclin models in Everquest.

    This is a game that over 10 years ago implemented this change and players, to this day, can be found arguing on the various message boards about which is better. Same say the blocky pre-Luclin models are far superior to the non-blocky post-Luclin models while others find the improved graphics to actually be an improvement. There is no clear victor in an argument of perception, but we can see how serious this subject is.
    This is the truth. Every time there's been a discussion about updating WoW models over the years, someone invariably brings up Luclin as a cautionary tale. If you don't know that, if you haven't seen that, then you shouldn't be having this discussion. You aren't aware of the context.
  1. aerodragon83's Avatar
    removed....
  1. workhabits's Avatar
    This is ALL BS. Blizz just do it or shutup..stop with all the damn excuses to not do it or delay it forever......


    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. (WE aren't running on XP machines anymore with 32bit OS) come on....
    •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.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Shudder View Post
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."

    There was a time, not long ago when Blizzard liked being the first to do things. Instead of just copying other mmo's and giving bull shit excuses, they actually innovated. These ghosts they're referring to that will be upset that their hair lip is gone are exactly that, ghosts. They don't exist. In fact, I'd say the majority of the population will see the new models, go "oh hey that's cool" and then never think about it again because most of the time your gear covers everything up anyways. I play zoomed out as far as I can when I raid so I don't even remember what my character looks like.
    completely agree with this.
  1. Salech's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Blur4stuff View Post
    It's funny you mention everquest. I hated those models. Many people I played with hated them too. When I first read the interview I immediately agreed with him and thought about how terrible EQ1 did it.

    If they make dramatic changes to WoW models I'm sure some would be okay with it. They might even like it more. But, we should all know that it could potentially cause many thousands of players to be upset and even cause them to quit. This may seem ridiculous, but it will happen.
    It's also funny that shitloads of people actually liked them in EQ, also upsetting a few thousand players and so what?, they have 5 million + players and i bet the main part of those either A) don't give a shit and B) Casuals that just go with the flow of the game so it will not affect them anyway.
  1. Phurox's Avatar
    Why not give players the opportunity to choose between classic and "Future" player models? Like people can choose between DX 9 and 11 for an example.
  1. The Illusive Man'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.
    Oh god I never believed that anyone can be that wrong at all. If just 1 person complains about something in WoW then the game would be a fucking failure and you know it. There won´t be anything in any game that does not cause at least a few guys to complain on the internet.

    "When they say models have never been updated successfully, they mean without ANY player of that game complaining about them"

    So just shut down WoW because in this case the game has been a massive failure because with every new stuff they added there were a lot of people complaining on the internet. Stuff like new tier sets, new races, new content had a ton of complaining people and every new stuff they will add in the future will be the same.

    Sure if Blizz would add new models there would be a bnuch of people whining but EQ1 did that successfully because they added a feature that allowed you to choose between old and new models. That was a long time ago and you guys tell me that Blizz can´t do that in 2013 ?? I thought they were a fucking billion dollar company with a lot of great devs?
  1. SodiumChloride's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by prwraith View Post
    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.
    OK, seriously. What's the hurry?

    Sure Blizzard can put out decent ones and leave them toggle able so people won't get pissed. But why settle for that?

    They are trying to make full on replacements that feel the same as the old models but are of higher quality. Why not let them try?

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