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by Published on 2014-09-17 05:04 PM

Update: A new beta build is on the way!

Engineer’s Workshop: Engine Evolution in Warlords of Draenor
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Welcome to the first in an ongoing series of programming- and engineering-focused articles that, over time, will cover some of the technical nuts and bolts that go into creating and running World of Warcraft.

Before we kick this first one off, a quick warning: What follows is a fairly technical explanation for a graphical-setting change related to anti-aliasing. Most of you probably won’t notice any difference at all—this is primarily for those who tend to tinker with their hardware and graphical settings.

In short, we’re taking strides to improve the performance of World of Warcraft, while also ensuring there’s plenty of potential to further increase graphical fidelity and enhance our support of high-end CPUs and graphics hardware.

For Warlords of Draenor, we made a decision to remove Multisample Anti-Aliasing (MSAA) and instead include a new anti-aliasing technology called Conservative Morphological Anti-Aliasing (CMAA). This change is going to allow us to bring some overdue technological advancements to World of Warcraft over the course of the next few years—we’re thinking long-term with this change.

One reason MSAA remained viable for WoW over the past decade was that the GPU had the time and resources to handle it. WoW has been a CPU-bound game for much of its lifetime, but during the Warlords development cycle, we endeavored to change that. A lot of that work involved analyzing the flow of data through our code and making sure we work on only what we need to for any given frame. One example is we now variably reduce the number of bones that need to be animated based on proximity and view (sometimes called level of detail, or LOD), a primary consumer of CPU time. We’ve also added a job system that the engine uses to task out animation and scene management in ways we had prototyped in Patch 5.4, but are expanding in Warlords.

The outcome of all of this is that more than ever before, World of Warcraft relies heavily on a GPU that previously was largely free to handle things like MSAA. We explored a number of options to reconcile this increased GPU demand with the game’s anti-aliasing needs, and ultimately decided to embrace CMAA as our anti-aliasing technology for Warlords of Draenor. As with anything that can potentially change the look of the game, we vetted removing MSAA through our engineering and art teams before coming to the conclusion to swap it for CMAA. CMAA provides solid anti-aliasing at a fraction of the cost in memory and performance. It also integrates well with technologies we have planned for the future, and helps us bring those to the game sooner. We also support FXAA (Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing), an even lighter-weight solution, as an option for our players using DirectX 9.

CMAA fulfills our goals of providing high-quality anti-aliasing at reduced performance cost, while giving us the extra headroom we need to further improve the graphical fidelity of the game. We don’t have to make any architectural concessions within the engine for CMAA to work, and for Warlords of Draenor we’ve already been able to implement new graphical features like target outlining, soft particles, a new shadowing technique, and refraction—and more graphical features are on the horizon for future patches and expansions.

For the launch of Warlords of Draenor, CMAA is the top-tier graphical setting available, but after release we’ll be exploring more options for players with high-performance graphics cards—and if they provide quality while still fitting into our future technology plans, we’ll take a serious look at adding them to the game.

The graphical future of World of Warcraft is a bright one, and the changes we’ve made during the development of Warlords of Draenor have laid the groundwork for us to continue making the game look better and better far into the future.

Thanks for reading!
by Published on 2014-09-17 12:50 AM

Legendary Cloak Questline Ending, Black Prince Buff, Heirloom Vendor Vacation

Blizzcon 2014 Murloc Pet
As you may have guessed from the icon, this year's Blizzcon pet appears to be Grommloc.



Warlords of Draenor Facial Customization: Ready for Your Close-Up
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

With the availability of the updated character models and animations that are being added with Warlords of Draenor, we’ve seen a question pop up among the community: “Will I be able to customize my face?” The simple answer is “yes.”

We’re pleased to announce that the in-game Barber Shop will be able to provide additional facial-customization options for your character once these art updates are made available. For just a little gold, your character will be ready for any occasion and look their very best for any screenshot.
by Published on 2014-09-16 05:06 PM

Legendary Cloak Quest Last Chance - Black Prince Buff Extended
It looks like you won't need the cloak for Ordos anymore either!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
As your journey takes you from Pandaria to Draenor, we wanted to extend one last opportunity to obtain your Legendary Cloak—and share some important updates related to this iconic item.

Legendary Cloak Changes: Once More unto the Breach
As a part of the transition from Mists of Pandaria to Warlords of Draenor, we’ll be making some changes to the Legendary Cloak quest line and ultimately closing it out as players head into the new expansion. Once the quest is fully closed, the item will no longer be attainable, and the cloak will become a symbol of the great deeds you’ve accomplished in Mists of Pandaria.

With the release of the pre-expansion patch (6.0.2), players who are not already on the journey through this quest line will no longer be able to begin it. We will also be removing the Test of Valor step with patch 6.0.2 as a part of our transition from using Valor as a currency.

Once Warlords of Draenor launches on November 13, the Legendary Cloak quest line will be gone entirely—the quests and the cloak will no longer be obtainable, and any related in-progress quests will be cleared from your log.

But when one door closes, another door opens. In Warlords of Draenor, players will have the opportunity to earn a new Legendary item available exclusively in the new expansion: Khadgar’s Band of the Archmage.

The Gaze of the Black Prince: One Last Look
If you haven’t yet earned your Legendary Cloak, you still have one final opportunity to make accelerated progress on your quest. Rather than end the Gaze of the Black Prince buff on Tuesday, September 16 (as previously announced), the buff will remain active until the release of the Warlords of Draenor pre-patch (6.0.2). This buff increases the reputation gained with the Black Prince by 100%. It also increases the chance of obtaining items from his foes needed as a part of the Legendary Cloak quest line, including Secrets of the Empire, Sigil of Wisdom, Sigil of Power, and Titan Runestones.

Good luck on your quest, but remember that your voyage doesn’t end here. Soon, you’ll be setting your sights on the new Legendary item, Khadgar’s Band of the Archmage, in Warlords of Draenor.

Heirloom Vendor Change in Patch 6.0.2
Heirlooms in the Warlords of Draenor beta currently have some gold prices associated with them, but the prices may not be final. You will still be able to get the shields and offhands from the Darkmoon Faire.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
With the upcoming release of Patch 6.0.2, we’ll be sending the vendors who sell Heirlooms for Justice Points on a nice vacation.

As you might already be aware, both Justice and Valor Points are being removed as currencies from the game in 6.0.2. As we started to work on new ways to buy Heirlooms, we found that we were setting their value up for a rollercoaster ride. That's because we’re also working on a larger Heirloom system for a future patch, and we don’t want to introduce an interim pricing scheme that could temporarily devalue Heirlooms or limit how we’d be able to give them out in the future. Rather than make players face buyer’s remorse and hand-wringing decisions about when to buy, we’re going to give the Justice Heirloom vendors some time off while we work on improving the system as a whole.

One thing to note is that this change only affects vendors that sell Heirlooms for Justice. PvE Heirlooms will still remain available at the Darkmoon Faire and the Trial of the Crusader, and PvP Heirlooms will continue to be available for Honor.
by Published on 2014-09-15 05:03 PM

Patch 6.0 Reminders, Warlords of Draenor Healing, Blue Tweets, DLC #457

Release the Names! Character Name Reclamation Coming
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
With the upcoming Warlords of Draenor pre-patch (6.0.2), we will be releasing sidelined characters’ names back into the wild.

Any characters that have not logged into the game since November 13, 2008 will have their names freed up, making them available to anyone creating a new character or using the paid Character Name Change service.

How Do I Preserve My Names?
You will need to log in to World of Warcraft and enter the game using each character whose name you wish to retain before patch 6.0.2 goes live. While it is possible no one will claim your recently released name and you might be able to snag it again, it is probably not worth the risk if you want to keep your names intact long-term.

Our goal with this great name liberation is to make sure new and returning players have a large and varied pool of names available to choose from—so log in now if you wish preserve your unused characters’ names for your journey intro Draenor.

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