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by Published on 2012-01-28 04:34 AM

Diablo 3 - Tooltip Options, Updated Login Screen, Blue Posts, and 15 Anniversary Party

NAO Invitational Qualifiers
Curse, Skill-Capped, and Logitech are sponsoring a player run Arena tournament with over $4000 in prizes. You can find the list of prizes on ArenaJunkies. See the structure and rules for more information about how the teams are selected.

The remaining part of this week's qualifier rounds will be held on the 28th from 7-11pm EST. The second qualifier round will take place on Febuary 3rd/4th 7-11pm EST. The Tournament itself will take place on February 17th / 18th /19th. You can watch the stream of all of them here.

Dragon Soul Difficulty Changes
Don't forget that the previously mentioned Dragon Soul changes are supposed to be going live next week, so this will likely be your last chance to complete the encounter before everyone has access to the 5% buff.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of January 31, the Dragon Soul raid will become enveloped by the “Power of the Aspects” spell, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the raid by 5%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Looking for Raid difficulty.

The spell can also be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul, if a raid wishes to attempt the encounters without the aid of the Dragon Aspects.

For those of you who raided in Firelands and/or Icecrown you’re no doubt aware that as time goes on we want to keep people progressing by adjusting the difficulty. For any number of reasons a group may be having difficulty on a specific encounter each week, and our intent in adjusting the content is to ensure the ability to keep progressing, enjoying the content, and gearing up. With Icecrown we progressively buffed the players, and while this slow progression (and ability to opt-out of the buff) were both beneficial, it led to an expectation of your characters power, and once you left the raid you could certainly feel less effective. For Firelands we attempted to fix that by nerfing the content instead of buffing players, but we nerfed the content difficulty all at one time, which was counterproductive for players who really didn’t need as severe a change as we made. With Dragon Soul we’re attempting to do the best of both by having a progressive nerf to the content, keeping player power constant while providing small increases in assistance over a long period of time, as well as allowing players to opt-out of the assistance by speaking to Lord Afrasastrasz.

We hope you continue to enjoy Dragon Soul, and that these changes encourage you to attempt a higher difficulty, or just keep pushing to down that next boss.

Mists of Pandaria PvP
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
One of our upcoming goals in Mists of Pandaria is to make the gap between the overall DPS/healing of both PvE and PvP items smaller. In fact, we have design plans for new PvP combat mechanics that will make PvP gear and weapons markedly better in PvP than equivalent level PvE gear and weapons.

The overall goal is to reduce the barrier for crossing between PvE and PvP (and vice versa), as well as to also ensure that PvP gear is the best in PvP, and PvE gear is the best in PvE. More details on these upcoming changes will be posted as they become available.

Regardless of anyone’s rankings past or present, the process of learning and striving to improve never stops: it helps even the most battle-hardened gladiator remain able to go toe-to-toe with their fiercest opponents.

In team-based combat such as Arenas, pressuring an enemy in order to go for a kill or striving to protect your comrade from being the brunt of a focused assault are part of the experience, no matter what classes are driving to get the job done. Most matches are an incredibly complicated dance between combatants: a push and pull of offensive and defensive tactics, of coordinating switches, interrupts, dispels, crowd control, and of learning when to use your particular cooldowns or abilities, and when to change your tactics on the fly. Depending on who you ask, what class they are, what brackets they are in, and what team compositions they run, you are likely to get a totally different answer as to what particular class gives them the most trouble at any given time.

As far as the current balance of various classes: it’s something we are, as always, keeping a close watch on. We welcome you to post constructively about your observations in the appropriate threads, and the more focused and on-topic you can keep it, the better.

While it's not possible to address every individual thread or concern of the community, rest assured we are listening, regardless if you see us post within a particular thread or not.

Comics: Dark Legacy and Teh Glad
Dark Legacy Comics #323 and Teh Gladiators #308 + #309 are available!

by Published on 2012-01-27 05:24 AM

First Glimpse of the 2012 World Championship
Teamliquid has an interview about the Starcraft portion of the 2012 World Championship. A few of the main points are summarized below, read the full interview for all the details.

  • The prize pool will be comparable to the continental invitationals in 2011.
  • Qualifications will begin in Q2 this year.
  • The entire 2012 season is going to be played with Wings of Liberty.
  • There will be five regional championships, with the final being held in Asia.
  • There will also be national championships before the regionals.
  • Blizzard won't be running all of the matches, instead they will be working with existing eSports organizations.
  • There will be more matches and ways to see them than there were for Blizzcon 2011.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Hot off the presses and fast on the heels of the recently announced 2012 World Championship event set for later this year, Team Liquid took the time to interview Ilja Rotelli, director of global community and eSports at Blizzard Entertainment. The interview looks deeper into the new structure of the World Championship and the future of Blizzard eSports. Here’s a brief snippet from the interview to whet your appetite.

At the national qualifier level, do you hope to hold some tournaments that are completely open to anyone who wants to compete?

Ilja Rotelli: That is precisely one of the design philosophies we originally adopted. The idea is that we want to make a more aspirational and participatory eSports environment for StarCraft. The idea that there are superstars that seem so far away, that one can't hope to become; this makes eSports very restrictive.

Blizzard has a slightly different goal from eSports companies. If you think very frankly about the business goal for Blizzard as a company, we gain when more people play the game, and a strategy that makes sense to achieve that goal is to go grassroots. We don't have plans in place yet, but in my dreams, this is the beginning, where we go as grassroots as we can for the first year. Then, in 2013, we would love to add an additional layer to the bottom of the structure, to be even more grassroots than now. This is just a philosophy, not a practical plan that we have in place, but certainly that is one of the design principles we have been using so far.

Visit the Team Liquid site to read the complete article.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Allow Players to Turn Off Enchant Effects
I realize this thread has been around for a while but the topic is still relevant. As many of you may or may not know, weapon enchants have been a feature of World of Warcraft since the beginning. Providing iconic and recognizable looks to various enchants is something that’s added an element of uniqueness to the game and to your character. However, we do understand they can sometimes overpower the aesthetics of the awesome weapons you can obtain in game now. It’s certainly something we have discussed with the developers recently and we’ll be looking into potentially allowing an enchant toggle. If and when such a feature is introduced, we’ll be sure to let the community know as soon as possible. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Damage in Arenas
As you already mentioned, in the upcoming patch there is a change to Vial of Shadows that should reduce some of the burst damage you are experiencing in PvP.

Dying in openers certainly isn't fun, and can be incredibly frustrating if you're the one on the receiving end of such a coordinated attack, but don't give up! In addition to perhaps taking some time to focus on other activities such as Rated and unrated Battlegrounds where you have more people to watch your back, you might also consider browsing some PvP videos from other members of the community to not only help inspire you, but to also arm you with a further arsenal of tactics that you can use to your own advantage against opposing teams.

Also, from my own experience, when I was having a lot of trouble against a certain class or spec that I felt countered my usual tactics, I found it helpful to sometimes grab a friend that played that class and spent some time dueling them so that they could critique me on areas where I could improve my skills, including my timing on using certain abilities, and how I could counter some of their own tactics. That way when I stepped back into arenas, I was more confident in my own skills and felt better-prepared for how to expose the weaknesses of my enemies.

Keep at it, and remember there are players out there equally as scared to see you step out onto the Arena floor.(Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Expansion Name
It's not irrelevant, particularly given almost everything that happens after the Cataclysm and Deathwing's demise is centered around the discovery of this new continent. These forgotten lands, as well as the way the Horde and Alliance go about exploring them, are central to the overall story line (much like Illidan and the Burning Legion were to The Burning Crusade, the Lich King and his Scourge were to Wrath of the Lich King, and Deathwing's destructive return to Azeroth was in Cataclysm).

I'm not sure I understand your argument. It feels like you're claiming we're naming the expansion after a new race's starting zone (not true) and arguing that's "jumping the shark." If you're only taking issue with the title, I don't think that qualifies for such a label at all. More importantly though, I get the sense you learned only two bulleted details about the expansion (new race and new land to explore) before deciding to post this thread. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Encounter Designers Who Worked on Ulduar
What a coincidence! We happened to talk about raid design and results with Ghostcrawler and Mumper yesterday, and everyone looked back fondly on Ulduar, among others. Yes, the same designers and artists who worked on Ulduar are still working on raids.

Here's the thing -- Ulduar is an example of a raid where lots of players got to enjoy the first few bosses, and very few players ever saw the last few. Yogg Saron and Algalon were among the least-killed bosses ever, and not because they were exceedingly difficult. Rather, clearing the dungeon all the way to Yogg took up a big chunk of a raiding week (and you only had an hour to kill Algalon), and the ability to extend raid lockouts came later in 3.2.0 (but extending raid lockouts means getting less loot overall). Raid Finder partially resolves the length-of-raid problem, so we can consider designing longer raids, but that's not always an easy call. Long raids mean longer development time, and while some players might be willing to wait, we understand why others might get impatient.

Of course, having multiple raids in a tier (like the combination of Bastion of Twilight and Blackwing Descent) has the advantage of giving players different environments to play in while potentially making scheduling and logistics easier.

Pushing a big red button for Mimiron was very cool, and again is fondly remembered. We have created something like 40 raid bosses since the creation of those encounters however, and we cant help but think that it would start to feel really gimmicky and forced if every raid encounter had its difficulty set by pushing a button, (or not killing adds, or changing the order you kill the bosses, or the other mechanics we used in Ulduar). We think Mimiron would feel less special if there were six more bosses in the game with big red buttons, and we’re just not sure the design space is there to have a near infinite variety of means by which players launch a heroic mode in game.

Nonetheless, because there are so many requests for those style mechanics, we are considering doing a few bosses with optional modes (in the same way Mimiron, Freya or Sartharion had them) in Mists of Pandaria. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Talent Trees
One of the problems we're specifically trying to address with the new talent system is getting back a little to the sense that there are 10 classes in the game (soon 11) instead of 30 (soon 34). A common complaint we saw about the Cataclysm talent design was that hybridization was greatly downplayed. Now it’s easy to dismiss going down two trees as never really having worked out, but it’s clear that many players are in love with the idea of doing so.

We also just want to keep the total number of talents under control, since the intent is that they have pretty big effects. If you're facing a Frost mage in PvP in Mists of Pandaria, you’ll have even less of an idea of what is in their toolbox than you do today. If you're a raid leader, you won’t be so certain what abilities your Discipline priest has to deal with the upcoming boss. A little of that keeps gameplay feeling fresh, but too much of it can be overwhelming. If each of the three mage specs, for example, had different talent choices, then we would have 612 total talents in the game instead of 198. Even 198 is a lot to learn. We also have the suspicion that coming up with 612 really awesome talents will be much more challenging. One of our design philosophies is concentrated coolness: have a few awesome things instead of a lot of mediocre things.

Now in some ways we are strengthening the concept of a spec by really pushing rotations and some other signature spells to specific specs. Immolate is Destruction only. Backstab is Subtlety only. Given that, talents are a great vehicle to make sure that your character still feels like a warlock or a rogue at the end of the day.

We really want to avoid talent synergies where only one talent on a tier makes sense for your character. This would be the case if say Fire mages did bonus damage with only Fire spells, or there was one healing talent on a tier competing against two DPS talents for your priest. Please continue to bring up concerns you have in this regard (though not necessarily all in this thread) and we will try to address them. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Intellect on Plate
The situation with intellect plate is an ongoing discussion among the designers, but we have yet to come up with a solution that's better than just continuing to make intellect plate.

  • Let Holy paladins wear Strength plate – This would require a lot of conversions. Does hit become Spirit? What happens to expertise? Do all Strength items convert or just actual armor pieces? Can paladins mix and match with Intellect jewelry and trinkets? Do Holy paladins also hit really hard in melee, or do they lose that ability? Does it make paladins too effective as hybrid classes if they can share much of their gear across three different roles?
  • Let Holy paladins wear mail – Our mail is designed to look like shaman or hunters, not paladins. It’s cruel not to let a paladin wear the paladin tier armor, and also weird that a given tier piece could be plate or mail even though it looks identical.
  • Let priests wear plate – We like the design for priests as cloth-wearers, we would not want to drop less cloth overall (since only mages and locks would need it at that point), and we don’t want priests to look like warriors, DKs or paladins.

Individually these aren't difficult problems, and we have the ability to solve each of them, but at the end of the day the designers don’t think any of those solutions are preferable to just keep on making Intellect plate for Holy paladins. Maybe someday there will be a new class that also uses Intellect plate. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blizzard Art
Blizzard has added four more pieces to the World of Warcraft: Classes and Cataclysm Art galleries.

by Published on 2012-01-25 01:24 PM

Update: Added a Blizzcon 2012 follow-up post by Bashiok and other news.

No BlizzCon in 2012 - World Championship
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Blizzard Entertainment is proud to announce the 2012 World Championship, a major global eSports event featuring some of the best pro-gaming competition in the world. Slated to take place in Asia toward the end of 2012, the World Championship will host this year’s StarCraft II and World of Warcraft Arena World Championship tournaments. Blizzard gamers and eSports fans from around the world will be invited to attend and witness some of the most skilled pro players on the planet battle it out for cash and glory.

We’re excited to be showcasing Blizzard eSports on a truly global stage this year. We're also heavily focused on getting Diablo III, Mists of Pandaria, and Heart of the Swarm into players’ hands as soon as possible. In light of our jam-packed schedule, we’ve decided to hold the next BlizzCon in 2013.

More details about the 2012 World Championship and BlizzCon 2013, including specific dates and locations, will be coming in the months ahead.

Blizzcon 2012 Follow-up
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Yeah it's a bit disappointing because we all really do enjoy being able to 'open the doors' so to speak. But, it is an enormous effort by all employees, including our game designers and artists, not to mention customer support and quality assurance, PR, our business departments, and *hot breath on fingernails & shirt rub* Community & eSports to make a BlizzCon happen. In a year when we're working to release multiple titles (knock on wood) it makes sense to focus our efforts. Also with multiple game releases we just wonder if we'd be at a point with any of them where we'd have anything really big or new or cool to talk about.

We didn't have a BlizzCon in 2006 either, and at that time we were really strong on the idea that BlizzCon isn't really supposed to be and doesn't have to be an annual event. Of course then we have it for five straight years in a row... which obviously built some expectation.

Personally I always enjoy seeing the excitement, the rushing crowds, hearing the clicking of mice on the demo stations, and waiting in agony as the seconds countdown to an announcement and then the waves of emotion from the crowd that follow it. But thinking about our year and what we're trying to get done already without a BlizzCon, and having to think pretty hard about what we'd have to announce or demo, it just makes sense to me not to have one.

Here's to the World Championship, it's going to be awesome, and to a bigger and better BlizzCon in 2013.

Fan Art
The World of Warcraft Fan Art Section has been updated with six new pieces of fan artwork.

The MMO Report has SWTOR, TERA, and Mail Bag this week!

by Published on 2012-01-25 05:47 AM

Diablo 3 - Simple Spell Tooltips Live, Blue on Patch 10,Beta Level Cap, Vote for D3, Weekly Roundup

Patch 4.3.2 Release Date Update
The status of the patch is still unsure, the whole situation is most likely the reason why the US Maintenance got cancelled and then moved to Wednesday.

The patch files are available on the download servers and things look somewhat ready but at this point it seems that the patch will only go live next week. The EU maintenance wasn't moved to Thursday and I don't think Blizzard plans to deploy a patch on both continents on the same day, even if it's a small one.

Statistics: Heroic Madness of Deathwing Class Representation
Continuing our ongoing statistics posts, today we look at class representation for characters that have completed Heroic Madness of Deathwing. As always with this type of post, the sample size is fairly small; less than 100 guilds have completed the encounter so far.

Don't see a chart? Enable javascript!

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Blue Post Replies
We read them. We also allow conversations to take place without our influence when it seems that it's the better course of action. Sometimes our intervention can actually skew a conversation off track if we're not careful. Then again, sometimes skewing a conversation is something we need to do too, to get people "on track" or even away from non-constructive discussion.

Sometimes we just don't have anything we could effectively add to the conversation, but it may spark some discussion internally that we can have amongst ourselves or take to the developers and producers. If and when we do have something we can bring back, we generally try to. Some may be under the false belief that it was the constant posts about a topic that made us come back to the topic, when in fact we may just need some time to discuss and come up with an answer that works and sometimes, we may have an answer that we just can't share at the time. Timing in our roles is often everything and as many know, "promising" something too soon, can be upsetting or worrisome to some people, while others don't mind being "in the know" even if plans do change. It's a balancing act.

We don't have elaborate schemes. That would mean we have a lot more time on our hands than we actually do to sit, plot and plan. In most cases, when we reply to something on the forums, we're tightrope walking while keeping an eye on the ever so dangerous ps and qs. That's not to say there isn't a method to the madness (see above paragraph.) It just means, we have to be quick on developing our thoughts and typing them out in a way that (hopefully) makes some semblance of sense.

If we see some really good feedback or ideas, we will often take it with us when we meet with the developers (which is generally a weekly face to face meeting.) We don't want to give the wrong impression that feedback given equals a guaranteed change based on that feedback.

We are just as likely to notice a smaller thread as we are to notice the larger ones. Sometimes, the best conversations are on the first few pages (not to say we don't read through the entire thread.) The reason being, that often, the conversation is more focused on the topic at hand and as the thread lengthens, we either see repeat discussions/arguments, or it begins to expand to other topics that may not be as relevant to the main topic of the original post.

BTW, contrary to popular belief (and not to start a moderation discussion.) We do not delete threads solely on the idea that it's saying it dislikes something we've designed or done to the game. We generally delete non-constructive threads or repeat threads since they often don't lead to good discussion or split conversation which makes it more difficult for us to sift through them for the constructive bits. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

64-bit Live Client
We'll be disabling the PTR forums shortly. Going forward you will be able to find the latest 64-bit client on the Tech Support forums. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Information Plan
There does and there is. There's not anything specific I can share on a time frame as of yet, but things are moving along well with Mists of Pandaria and we'll be getting you all more information on "what's next" as soon as possible. For those that were able to see the next expansion at BlizzCon, you'll have seen that we were relatively far along in development. As we've said before, we're working diligently to put out expansions a little bit quicker than we have in the past. But, as always, we want to make sure we release "when it's ready" as well. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Update
The Trading Card game art gallery has been updated with ten new pieces.

Curse Weekly Roundup
Pico is back to tell us about the things you might have missed recently in Diablo 3, Minecraft, Resident Evil 6, and more.

by Published on 2012-01-24 08:08 AM

Patch 4.3.2 Going Live This Week - Or Maybe Not
I just received an update on the Patch 4.3.2, it seems that the update was postponed because of a very bad bug. As far as I know it means the patch won't happen tomorrow, however it might happen on wednesday in the US and thursday in Europe. If it's not the case it will be postponed to next week.

The info was solid and was backed up by a few other things (announcement of PTRs going down, etc) but those last minute changes happen, and there's nothing I can do against them. This is also the reason why Blizzard doesn't announce patches early.

Even if I always warn that things might be postponed, it still sucks when it does happen, and this is pretty much how comfortable I feel when I have to announce it. Feel free to yell at me and make me sad. I'll be in my corner trying to hide in my happy place.

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