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by Published on 2012-03-02 02:10 AM

Diablo 3 - EU Beta Wave, Diablo 3 Weekly Maintenance, Blue Posts, Sword of Justice Cover Art, Fan Art

Dev Watercooler – Mists of Pandaria Stat Changes
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Our recent talent calculator changes led to some players asking questions about how character and item stats were changing, because some spell and talent tooltips suggest that changes are coming. We compiled this list to attempt to explain more of what’s coming in Mists of Pandaria. First of all, please note that we actually aren’t making many stat changes compared to the ones we made in Cataclysm (“armor penetration -- gone!”). Second, the stuff below can get a little technical. If you’re not into the subtle nuance of gear itemization, then don’t worry about it -- you don’t need to be to enjoy the expansion -- but we know there are plenty of you who enjoy some nuts and bolts talk, so here we go.

Spell Resistance
  • Spell resistance is gone. There are no buffs that improve it and there shouldn’t be much, if any, spell resist gear left. We always thought the system was hard to understand and we weren’t getting much gameplay out of it. Now taking a step back, we can imagine how to develop a game where you’d want various forms of resist gear for certain situations and opponents. Resist gear could potentially be interesting, but it isn’t currently in World of Warcraft -- the game has just been moving away from that sort of thing for years.
  • In the absence of spell resistance, there is no need for spell penetration on gear, so we’ll remove it as well.

Hit and Expertise
  • We still think having stats that can be capped is a good game design. Rather than focusing solely on stacking your best stat, you have to decide how valuable it is to hit your target before you go back to stacking your best stat. However, we are making some changes.
  • Hit and spell hit will no longer be separate stats. The hit stat negates melee miss and spell miss.
  • Expertise will negate dodge and spell miss, then parry.
  • Expertise will be listed as a percentage, just like hit, instead of having an intermediary stat.
  • We are normalizing hit with expertise, so that 1% of each stat will require the same amount of rating.
  • We are normalizing melee and spell hit, so that spell hit is equal to miss plus dodge.
    • Against an equal level creature: 6% spell miss, 3% melee miss, 3% dodge, 3% parry (from the front only), 3% block (from the front only).
    • Against a +1 level creature: 9% spell miss, 4.5% melee miss, 4.5% dodge, 4.5% parry (from the front only), 4.5% Block (from the front only).
    • Against a +2 level creature: 12% spell miss, 6% melee miss, 6% dodge, 6% parry (from the front only), 6% Block (from the front only).
    • Against a +3/boss level creature: 15% spell miss, 7.5% melee miss, 7.5% dodge, 7.5% parry (from the front only), 7.5% block (from the front only).
    • Ranged attacks will be able to be dodged. Hunters will benefit from expertise and will have it on their gear, which will also allow hunters and Enhancement shaman to share gear more easily.

Block

  • The chance to block will be handled by a separate combat roll for each attack that is not avoided. In other words, we first determine if an attack misses, or is dodged or parried. If it is not, then the attack has a chance to be blocked.
  • This gives block a consistent value, regardless of avoidance. Currently block becomes more valuable the more you have.
  • Block will also have diminishing returns, much like dodge and parry. This doesn’t mean that the value of block will go down as you get more block. It means that it won’t go up by as much when you get more block.
  • We don’t expect Protection warriors or paladins to get “block capped” other than during temporary effects, such as mastery procs on trinkets. Block tanks will be balanced around this change. Our intent is to make playing block tanks more fun, not to nerf them.
  • Also notice how Shield Block and Shield of the Righteous have changed in Mists.

Criticals

  • All spells and abilities will crit for double damage, baseline. There are a few exceptions where crits can get larger, but the default is x 2.0 for everyone.
  • This means that Enhancement shaman spells and rogue poisons will crit for double damage. Rogue poisons will also use the melee hit chance.

Resilience
  • We are renaming this stat to “Defense (PvP)” or possibly “PvP Defense.” All players will have 30% base Defense, the same way all characters have some base Stamina.
  • PvP gear will have Defense on it, as well as a new stat, “Power (PvP).” Power increases the damage you do to other players as well as the healing you do to other players in PvP situations.
  • If you have a lot of Power, you’ll do more damage to other players, but they likely have Defense as well. If you fight players in lots of PvE gear, they’ll take more damage. Likewise, a player in PvE gear won’t have enough Power to effectively penetrate your Defense.
  • The names PvP Power and PvP Defense may not be final, but we’re leaning towards going with stat names that are obviously PvP-related, rather than “fluffier” names that might not be as easy to grasp. We want it to be clear to players that neither Power nor Defense have any relevance when fighting creatures, such as in dungeons or raids.
  • PvP gear will be lower in item level than PvE gear of an equivalent tier, however the Power and Defense stats will make sure that PvP gear is more powerful in PvP (both offensively and defensively) than PvE gear. In our budgeting system, the PvP stats will be free rather than causing other stats, such as Strength or haste, to be smaller as a result of including Power or Defense.
  • The goal of this change is to make it easier for a PvP player to participate in PvE, or for a PvE player to get started in PvP. Currently, we feel it is too large a barrier to go from one to the other, and the result has been that we see more and more players choosing to focus exclusively on only PvP or PvE. In earlier expansions, it was more feasible to use PvE gear in Arenas or Battlegrounds until you acquired the more useful PvP gear. The same was true of being able to use your PvP gear in a dungeon or raid until you acquired something better. In Cataclysm, stepping into PvP with no PvP gear would result in a player being so ineffective that it was difficult to even make progress towards acquiring PvP gear.
  • For the higher-end of PvP or PvE (say Gladiators or heroic raiders), we believe those players will still gravitate towards the dedicated PvP or PvE gear. It is the players who are working towards those two end games that will benefit more from some cross over.

That’s a lot of information, and it probably sounds more set-in-stone than it really is. We’ll continue to iterate as players poke holes in our ideas, tell us what is working out and what isn’t, and finally get to experience it first hand in beta.

First European Wave of Diablo III Beta Invites Under Way
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Brave heroes, the time has come to arise and answer the summons: the Diablo III beta is upon us here in Europe!

The first wave of invitations to the European Diablo III beta test is now being delivered. The client is available in English, with German and French becoming available at a later date. In addition to selecting players from those who have opted in via their Battle.net accounts, we’ll also be providing keys through beta promotions and giveaways. We welcome those invited to provide feedback on the official forums.

If you have a beta license, you are free to show, share, or talk about any portion of the beta content to which you have access, as this beta test is not confidential.

As always, we’d like to remind those hoping for an invite to be wary of phishing attempts. If you believe you’ve received an invite to the Diablo III beta test, it’s best to refrain from clicking on any links in the email, and instead log in to your Battle.net account to see if a Diablo III beta game account has indeed been granted. Or, if you were sent a key, you should attempt to add it manually by going to the Add or Upgrade a Game section of the Battle.net account management page.

For those who have received an invite to the beta test, we thank you for helping us test out our server stability and hardware. For those of you still hoping for an invite, we wish you the best of luck and hope you’ll keep an eye out for some of the beta-key giveaways and promotions we’ll have right here on the European Diablo III community site.

For more information, please see the beta opt-in announcement and FAQ.
by Published on 2012-02-29 05:35 PM

Update - According to the press release, it looks like Blizzard cut 600 positions in the company.

Message from Mike Morhaime
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Everyone,

We announced today that we’re in the process of cutting a number of active positions, mostly non-development, throughout the company. I'm sure this announcement has sparked some questions from all of you, so I want take this opportunity to address those as best I can. Over the past several years, the company has grown rapidly and evolved to better serve you and the rest of our global community. Thanks to all of your support, we continue to serve by far the biggest subscription-based MMO community, as well as the most passionate eSports and online gaming communities, in the world.

In order to keep making epic game content while serving players effectively, we have to be smart about how we manage our resources. This means we sometimes have to make difficult decisions about how to best maintain the health of the company. We’re in the process of making some of those hard decisions now.

After evaluating our current organizational needs, we determined that while some areas of our business had been operating at the right levels and could benefit from further growth, other areas had become overstaffed. As a result, we need to scale down some of our departments and part with some of our colleagues and friends here at Blizzard. I know that you all understand how difficult this type of situation can be for anyone who might be affected, so I want to assure you that we'll be offering each impacted employee a severance package and other benefits.

I also want to emphasize that we remain committed to shipping multiple games this year, and that our development teams in particular remain largely unaffected by today's announcement. We're continuing to develop, iterate, and polish Blizzard DOTA, Diablo III, StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, as well as other, unannounced projects. We'll have exciting news to share in the coming weeks regarding Diablo III's release date, and will soon be holding a private media event to showcase the latest work on Mists of Pandaria. It goes without saying that we're working hard to get all of these games in your hands as soon as possible.

You've all come to expect Blizzard to live up to our mission statement with every game, and deliver the most epic entertainment experiences ever. You can continue to expect that and nothing less from us as we move forward.

-Mike Morhaime

Press release on BusinessWire
IRVINE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that it has conducted a review of its business based on current organizational needs. Following a completion of the review, the company is conducting a global reduction in workforce of approximately 600 employees. The company anticipates approximately 90% of the affected employees will come from departments not related to game development. The World of Warcraft® development team will not be impacted.

“Constant evaluation of teams and processes is necessary for the long-term health of any business. Over the last several years, we've grown our organization tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However, as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we've also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Knowing that, it still does not make letting go of some of our team members any easier. We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to work with the people impacted by today’s announcement, we’re proud of the contributions they made here at Blizzard, and we wish them well as they move forward.”

Blizzard's current development and publishing schedules will not be impacted. The company will announce specific release plans for Diablo® III in the near future, and it’s continuing to drive aggressively toward beta testing for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria™, Blizzard DOTA, and StarCraft® II: Heart of the Swarm™. Blizzard also remains committed to maintaining its high standards of quality for customer service delivery. In addition, Blizzard is still recruiting and looking to hire qualified developers for a number of open positions. Further details are available at http://jobs.blizzard.com.

For press inquiries, please contact Lisa Jensen in Blizzard Entertainment public relations at [email protected].

The accounting charges associated with Blizzard's reduction in workforce are not anticipated to be material to Activision Blizzard, Inc. and were included in the 2012 financial outlook that was provided on February 9, 2012.
by Published on 2012-02-28 05:07 PM

Diablo 3 - Beta Contests Over, Patch 13 Class Changes, Curse Weekly Roundup

World of Warcraft Patch 4.3.3
The new 64-bit client is now live. (Windows and Mac)
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Bug Fixes
  • Fixed several client-side bugs.

General
  • Modified code and content support for the Scroll of Resurrection system.

Cataclysm Post Mortem -- Quest Design with Dave "Fargo" Kosak
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
To kick-off our World of Warcraft: Cataclysm post mortem series, we sat down with World of Warcraft Lead Quest Designer Dave “Fargo” Kosak to discuss his thoughts on questing in Cataclysm.

Q: What were your main goals going into Cataclysm?
Certainly from a quest design standpoint our primary goal with Cataclysm was to remake the old world, specifically the 1-60 questing experience. World of Warcraft was released in 2004, and we've learned so much in the years since about what constitutes good MMO gameplay. We wanted to make sure that the game was relevant to new players coming in, and walking up and down the length of the Barrens on foot over and over just didn’t do it for us anymore.

Remaking the entire old world -- 46 zones! -- was ambitious. Actually, it was ludicrous. It was like re-releasing a whole game in the course of an expansion cycle. Then we added a couple new races and their starting zones on top of that. I’m not sure how we convinced ourselves we could make it happen, but somehow we pulled it together.

Q: Are you happy with how the old world re-vamp turned out?
I am. Leveling up a new character to 60 nowadays is a great deal of fun. Every zone has stories to play out, with interesting nooks and crannies and plenty of hidden gems or references for players who remember the pre-Cataclysm world. Zones like Ashenvale now live up to their premise (intense Horde-vs.-Alliance combat), and previously empty zones now have a lot of character (see: Azshara). The content just flows. It's still World of Warcraft, but the quests have a modern feel, with lots of action and storytelling.


Q: But what didn't work out so well?
We really spread ourselves thin and taxed the team. The original plan was to totally re-do a handful of high-priority zones, but to leave a lot of the zones that worked mostly alone. We categorized them into "red," "yellow," and "green" zones. The idea behind the green zones (for example, Loch Modan) was just to tweak the quest flow to be a little smoother, but not to make any major changes.

The reality is that even the green zones really needed a lot of love. Once we got in there, it was all or nothing: we ended up completely re-doing a lot of green zones so that they met our new quest design standards. We came up with a nickname: "watermelon" zones. They were green on the outside, until you got in there and started poking around. . . .

Where that hurt us was when it came time to do the max-level content, the 80-85 zones. The content there turned out well, but the experience is inconsistent across the board -- Uldum feels totally different from Hyjal, which in turn feels different from Vashj'ir. The design decisions and efforts we made didn't always yield the desired results.

Q: Tell us more about the level 80-85 zones -- what worked and didn’t?

We were aiming for a really global feel with Cataclysm, so we set the max-level zones in varied environments all over the world (underwater, across deserts, in the elemental plane of earth, etc). However, as a result, they ended up not feeling as connected as we'd like. You get widely different experiences in zones that aren’t geographically related to one another. That's something important that we're keeping in mind moving forward – World of Warcraft works best when there's a sense of place. A connected world to explore.

We feel the storytelling in Cataclysm was strong. Whether assembling the ancients in Hyjal, rescuing your drowned crew in Vashj'ir, or reassembling the world pillar in Deepholm, there’s a strong sense of plot in every zone. Players participated in stirring stories, like bringing the Dragonmaw into the Horde via a violent coup or reuniting the Wildhammer Dwarves with a crazy wedding. These were memorable moments and shared experiences.

The downside to creating these stories is that the zones on the whole ended up being way too linear. For example, because we wanted to show your character re-growing the burning devastation of Mount Hyjal, there was really only one way to play that zone: you started at point A, and you worked your way through to point Z. Pretty glorious the first time, but frustrating on your second or third character because there's only one way to do it, and no way to skip around. That's a lesson we’re going to carry forward for sure. We want big sweeping stories, but we want to give players the freedom to explore those stories on their own terms.

Q: Places like Hyjal also used a lot of phasing to show the world changing.
We have a massive phase shift halfway through the story that changes the terrain for nearly a third of the zone. It's epic, right? But it can be a real pain for players when so much of the world changes like that. Phasing is like a story sledgehammer: it gets the job done, but at best it splits up players and at worst it totally confuses them.

We're going to be a lot more careful going forward. The Firelands dailies in patch 4.2 gives you a much better idea of our future direction. There were sweeping visual changes to the world as you progressed, but there’s very little actual phasing. For the most part, everyone is playing together on the same map. That’s important to us. Looking ahead, we’re going to be a lot smarter about how we show changes to the world, and we’re going to do everything we can to avoid splitting players up.


Q: Talk more about the 4.2 patch. Were the Firelands dailies a hint of what’s to come?
Definitely. With those dailies we were able to engage a lot of players, myself included. (I was the first quest designer on the team to get the mount and all the achievements on the live servers -- suck it up, slackers!) Previously, "doing dailies" meant hitting the same quest givers for the same three quests, usually in a static place. Here we were able to deliver a sense of progression and a story that unfurled over the course of a few weeks, all as you did a constantly changing set of quest objectives in a dynamic environment. We think that worked out well.

Moving forward, we're going to look for more opportunities like this -- ways to keep people engaged and cool things to do solo with your max-level character. We've got ambitious plans.

Q: Patch 4.2 also had the Aggra and Thrall questline, "Elemental Bonds." Did that meet your expectations? How do you feel about Thrall's character development?
That's a tricky one -- we’ve got mixed feelings. The essential story is a good one, and we really wanted to portray all the inner struggles Thrall is going through. Here’s a guy that stepped down as Warchief and had to rediscover himself as a shaman in order to save the world. And he's haunted by his decisions: he’s afraid of what’s to come, paralyzed by doubt, angry at what Garrosh did to Cairne . . . the guy's a mess. We figured out a way to show all that internal tension, and we wrapped it up in a story that demonstrates how his mate, Aggra, will literally go to the ends of the world to pull him through this. It's a powerful love story, and a story about finding one’s inner focus.


But we had to do a lot of things to make it work in the game. We needed to make a quest that 500 people could do simultaneously without getting in each other's way. We wanted a quest that players could do solo, no matter what their skill level. We didn’t know if the player was decked out in raid gear or level 85 greens, so we had to keep it simple. We somehow made all of it work under those restrictions, and we filled the screen with some killer imagery (I love the vision of Thrall immersed in the Abyssal Maw). But ultimately the quests themselves ended up not being as compelling from a gameplay perspective as we would have liked. Many players blew through them once and never looked back.

I really think we can do better. Cataclysm was in many ways Thrall’s story, but it was hard for players to follow his development over the course of the expansion. Going forward we want to convey a clearer narrative, delivered in the context of solid gameplay. We have some ideas on how to do that, and we’re also going to keep experimenting. This is important to us -- we talk about ways to tackle this problem all the time.

Q: The Cataclysm patches also saw the debut of some legendary weapons: Dragonwrath and the Fangs of the Father. Will future legendaries be this, uh, legendary?
Good question. We love class-specific content, but quest lines like those are very resource-intensive. Each sequence involves weeks of development focus that takes content away from dungeons, dailies, or outdoor zones.


The feedback from players (and from our own team) has been overwhelmingly positive. Dragonwrath proved to be extremely popular, and allowed caster classes to get a front-row seat for major lore moments otherwise reserved only for dragons. Meanwhile, Fangs of the Father was pure rogue, from the theme to the mechanics. It was super-targeted and extremely fun -- it proved to us the value of focusing in on a specific class and tailoring the content to their abilities. Given that the audience for these weapons consists of badass raiders, we didn’t hold back on the difficulty either, so these quests were great for people who wanted a real challenge.

The short answer is yes, we'll definitely continue doing these moving forward. Most likely future legendary quest lines will be built similar to the rogue experience: a couple key story moments, a lot of flavor, and some very specific challenges. But I wouldn't expect very many quest lines like these. Like legendary weapons themselves, they're going to be rare and special.

Q: We haven't even talked about goblins and worgen yet. What lessons did you take away from the new racial starting zones?
In both cases, the starting areas really sold the character and tone of the new races. The worgen area is so marvelously gothic, and Kezan is unmistakably unique and gobliny. The art and the quests all work together to establish a racial character. So that’s a big win.

As for the mechanics themselves, I’m glad we were so experimental, but our general feeling now that all is said and done is that we went a little too ‘gimmicky’ with the player’s initial experiences. Everyone can agree that the goblin experience gets pretty wild in places.

That's a big lesson we're carrying away from the expansion as a whole.

Q: Can you elaborate?
Overwhelmingly, players have told us that they want more quests where you have to flap a giant bird around a cave while targeting creatures in a 3D space.

Q: Seriously?

Maybe not . . . But moving forward, we're re-focusing on core gameplay mechanics. World of Warcraft works best when you’ve got your boots on the ground and you get to play your class. To that end, we’re concentrating on giving players lots of fun combat challenges in continually changing environments, wrapped up in a terrific story that’s propelled forward by the quests. Whenever we do special mechanics, we want them to feel special, and they’ll never tear you away from combat for very long. Our goal is to load up the world with lots of interactive spaces, cool encounters, great characters, and neat spaces to explore. That’s part of the reason we’re keeping you grounded (literally) in Pandaria, and why we’re focusing on a single continent. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll talk more about Pandaria soon enough.

Q: Looking forward to it. Thanks for your time!
Not a problem!
by Published on 2012-02-28 03:36 AM

Statistics: Heroic Dragon Soul Encounter Difficulty
Today we continue our ongoing statistics by taking a look at the relative difficulty of the encounters in Dragon Soul. As always with the API, there are limitations that prevent us from discriminating between players who completed the encounter in 25 man or 10 man mode, so keep in mind that these numbers contain both raid sizes summed together.

The sample size was ~5.7 million level 85 characters, with ~290k that have defeated the Heroic Morchok encounter. Keep in mind that the sample contains many alts, which makes the absolute numbers look lower than they are in reality. This means that we are looking at encounter difficulty relative to the easiest encounter, not the percent of the player population that completed each encounter.

Don't see a chart? Enable javascript!

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
What Was Vanilla WoW Like?
I was actually chatting just last night with someone who had started playing shortly after Cataclysm launched.

I have lots of great memories of adventures that have spanned from when World of Warcraft first launched through to the present day. The game has evolved quite a bit over the years, and I’m especially thankful for the many quality of life upgrades that were made along the way.

Way back when, you could only get a mount starting at level 40, so it took quite a bit of time to travel around Azeroth on foot. Flight points were by far the fastest modes of transportation, but you could only use them if you first hoofed your way over and discovered each Flight Master individually. When you used flight points you also could only travel directly from one to the next. They didn’t automatically connect to your final destination like they do now. So you’d have to make your way to the first point, talk to the flight master, fly to the next point, talk to the flight master, and so on. Accessing dungeons or raids also required additional travel time, as you had to make your way to them manually, and there were no mass summons or personal flying mounts back in that era that could speed up the process, either. So assembling five people for a dungeon run involved quite a bit of waiting around while people slowly made their way to the particular dungeon. It often took even longer for raids to get up and running because you’d be waiting for 40 people instead of just 25 or 10.

Battlegrounds and Arenas (both of which I relish) also did not launch with the original game. The first two Battlegrounds areas, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch, went live on June 7th, 2005, and you had to physically travel out in the world to the particular Battleground portal for each location in order to queue for them. As there was no time or resource limit on those games, they could run very long, and indeed some Alterac Valley matches on the servers I played on at the time could span multiple hours or even, in some cases, multiple days. For Battlegrounds, specifically, there were no cross-realm Battlegroups originally, so you could only face-off against opponents from your individual realm that were on the opposite faction. Way back then, you also couldn’t step up and challenge another guild on your own faction to an all-out War Game in Warsong Gulch, either, because War Games didn’t even exist until shortly after Cataclysm launched.

Travel around Azeroth and assembling groups for anything from PvP to dungeon runs and raiding is much more efficient now than it was in classic times. I think it’s especially fantastic being able to freely roam around the world and do other activities while you wait. Then, once the group is assembled, you can teleport directly into battle with your comrades as well as your friends from other realms (thanks to the advent of Real ID’s cross-realm support). And that’s, well… awesome. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Global Writing Contest
Instead of the Global Writing Contest this year, would you all be interested in a poetry contest?

If so, what kind of parameters would you like to see set on the contest entries? (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Patch 4.3.3 64-bit Client
Originally Posted by Jurannok (Blue Tracker)
If you are currently testing the 64-bit client, in order to patch up to 4.3.3 you will need to remove the 64-bit files to allow the patching process to complete. With the 64-bit client files in place you will receive the error: Blizzard Updater failed with an internal error.

Simply delete the 64-bit files listed below from the World of Warcraft folder, and the patching process will resume after going through a short repair process.

Windows
Battle.net-64.dll
MovieProxy.exe
WoW-64.exe

Mac
World of Warcraft-64.app

A new version of the 64-bit client files will be available for 4.3.3 after the patch is live. Please keep an eye on the 64-bit client forum thread for updated files.

DiabloFans Calculator Build Contest Has Started!
Our friends over at DiabloFans are holding a contest that involves picking the best build for your character. The 50 randomly selected winners will get a Diablo III beta key!

The contest ends 2/28/2012 at 5 PM EST, so make sure to get your entry in before then if you want a chance to win.



Guild Wars 2 Beta
Guild Wars 2 recently opened sign ups for future beta events and got over one million applications in just 48 hours. The accepted players will be able to participate in a beta event closer to the end of March. If you are looking for like people to play with, take a look at our Guild Wars 2 forum.


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