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by Published on 2012-03-13 05:58 AM

Diablo 3 - New Skill Videos, Beyond the Gate, Hardcore and Blue Posts, Curse Gaming Bracket Challenge

MMO-Champion Giveaway - Pandaren Monk
While we are waiting on the Press Tour NDA to expire, we are giving away 3 x Pandaren Monk every day this week! You can enter the contest only by commenting on this news post. Please only enter once, multiple entries will disqualify you. Good luck!

  • To enter the contest, just post a reply in this news post, you have until Tuesday March 13th @ Midnight EST to enter the contest, this thread will be closed and winners will be selected randomly.
  • Entering more than once is useless and will get you disqualified. There will be no 2nd chance for people posting more than one comment in this thread, you have been warned. (We will also of course check for double accounts, etc)

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
War Banner
We made it a banner for a couple of reasons. We thought the demoralizing and mocking mechanics were more useful if the warrior could place them somewhere else. For example, imagine a warrior (and not just a tank) using the Mocking Banner to direct incoming adds over to where the tank is currently standing. Now Skull Banner doesn’t strictly have to be a banner, since the warrior will probably want to benefit from it most of the time, but we left it as a banner for one pretty cool reason: since the banner is an ally, you can Intervene to it (!). That opens up some cool gameplay options.

Ultimately, we wanted to try and expand the design potential for warriors a bit. Increasingly, it seemed that any new ability had to be another type of movement, a weapon strike, or shout, or it wouldn’t feel like a warrior ability. We wanted to try something new, and we're hoping that warriors will give them a shot once we’re in beta and let us know how it feels. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Protection Spec and PvP
We don't have a problem with players choosing to PvP as tank specs, but if they do, then we want them to be effective because of their defensive and control abilities, not because of their damage-dealing potential. It's intentional that, overall, tanks have to sacrifice some DPS in order to make up for their other strengths.

For comparison's sake, we don't think it would be cool if healing specs did as much or more damage than DPS specs in PvP, and the same is true for tanks. In Battlegrounds, tanks often do have a role, whether it’s running flags, defending a node or tanking NPCs. It is much harder to provide tanks a role in Arenas since the strategy ultimately revolves around focusing down enemy players. Nobody wants to try to focus down a tank, and tanks typically can’t contribute as much to focusing down enemy targets.

I'm not so much for debates, because design isn't about rhetorical prowess, it's about making the game the best it can be for all players, not simply those who can make a compelling case on the forums. Because of how personal (even emotional) the experience of playing a character is, sometimes it's hard to see over the fence into someone else's yard. We have to keep an eye on the whole neighborhood. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Still waiting....
There will be plenty of information coming out of the press tour. This week, is all about getting that information to the media and fansites so they can show you what they've learned next week. I am not going to get into specifics of what is going to be covered, but you can be assured, it's what some would call a plethora of information. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Curse March Gaming Bracket Challenge - Round 3!
The March Gaming Bracket Challenge presented by Curse and Alienware is a tournament that pits video game characters against one another for multiple rounds of voting!

Each week in March we will be matching up characters from all ends of the gaming universe; from Skyrim to Starcraft, WoW to Minecraft. Selection of the characters that make it through to the next round is up to you since your votes decide who rises up and who falls in this arena! You can see the full bracket here.

Each week we are giving away one Alienware X51 (US residents only), so don't forget to enter to win and vote for your favorite characters.

The MMO Report has another special episode about RIFT this week.

by Published on 2012-03-12 08:13 AM

Pandaren Female is on Her Way - March 19
She’s on her way -- March 19 (Source)

by Published on 2012-03-12 12:55 AM

Diablo 3 - Beyond the Gate, GDC Art Slides, Blue Posts

Mists of Pandaria Press Tour This Week, Suggest Questions!
This week is the Mists of Pandaria Press Tour! We're sending a team of fearless people to Blizzard to bring you back tons of shiny new Mists of Pandaria information! The information gathered during the press tour will be released in exactly one week, on Monday March 19th.

Question Suggestions
Since we'll be interviewing developers during the tour, if you have something you really really want to ask about Mists of Pandaria, now might be a good time to bring it up in the comments. We'll pick the best questions and add them to our existing list. I'd love to see if you guys can suggest of something we haven't thought of!

Before posting a question, check and make sure it hasn't been answered by reviewing what we already know about the expansion.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Missing out on Scroll of Resurrection
I'm going to respond to this simply because I've seen this sort of sentiment before, and while I have no doubt that not everyone will accept the answer I will give here, I'm going to give it anyway.

There is an assumption that we don't care about our long term customers. This couldn't be further from the truth. We absolutely care, and part of that is the ongoing efforts we make every day to communicate, to share what we're doing, to listen to what you are saying here and elsewhere about what more you want to see in the game and more. We also heard you say that you wanted to get your friends back that have previously left the game, so we revisited the Scroll of Resurrection so you could see about enticing them to return and play. This is our way of empowering you with a way to convince your friends that there is a benefit to coming back and that it will be as painless as possible to get caught up with you (thus the boost and transfer.) The level differences and even realm differences are often something people have said serve as a barrier to convincing their friends to return. So, we're doing what we can to move those obstacles away, at least for a little while.

I'm sorry to hear that your own friend wasn't able to benefit from the promotion, but there has to be a start and end to these things. Anytime we've run promotions in the past, there has always been someone somewhere who didn't get a chance to take part. We do what we can though to spread the word and make it as available as possible, but we have to be careful about limitations as well. We'll make sure to let people know if new such opportunities come up. It sounds as if (though) that you're having a good time leveling up together and that seems like a big win for you overall. We hope that you continue to do so since having fun is what the game is all about.It's for a limited period of time, but we don't have a specific date to give you. We'll do our best to give people some warning before it ends. I'd tell your friends that it's better to do it sooner rather than later to be safe, but it's completely up to them on what works for them. Since the promotion just started, we still have some time yet though. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Is There Anything Positive Going On?
There's plenty of positive, but we go through these periods between content sometimes where people start looking for the "next big thing" if they feel they've done it all in game. People who are generally happy, tend to just play the game for what it is and we rarely see them on the forums. (That's not to say that we don't get people who are also happy on the forums too.) People who feel that there needs to be change to the game or have run into things they aren't happy with, tend to come to the forums to talk about it. They come to discuss it with other people here and see if they're the only one feeling a certain way, or they hope that one of us will see it and pass word along to the developers.

Frankly, we love getting to see constructive feedback whether it's positive (I love this thing because of xyz!) or more negative (I don't like this because xyz.) I sound like a broken record when I say this but, it's a truth that any community manager knows passionate people post passionately. If apathy wins, all you hear is silence. I'd much rather see that people still care than deal with no one talking about anything.

That said though, it's important not to let other's negative perceptions color your own (as difficult as that may sometimes be.) If you're having fun and enjoying the game for what it is, there is no reason at all you can't continue to do so. Your fun is purely your own.

It won't be long though and we'll have more to share on the ongoing development for the game and Mists of Pandaria, so hopefully that will lighten the mood a little. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

War College - The Battle for Gilneas
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The battlefields of World of Warcraft are littered with the bones of those who have become casualties in the ongoing conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. You do not need to become one of them. One of the keys to victory is knowledge, and that is where the World of Warcraft War College enters the picture. In these discussions between players, you can learn and share strategies with other players to improve your tactics and improve your odds of emerging victorious from the field of battle.

Are you a veteran Gladiator with countless victories tallied? Are you new to World of Warcraft and striving to improve your PvP skills? In this weekly feature, we invite players of all skill levels to ask questions, share tips and tactics, and join a conversation dedicated to surviving and thriving in World of Warcraft PvP.

This week, the topic of discussion is:

The Battle for Gilneas - Which strategies are most effective in this battleground for both rated and un-rated play? What tips, tricks and tactics have you discovered? What common mistakes have you witnessed?

Join the War College forum thread here.

SWTOR Patch 1.2
Patch 1.2 is approaching and the new trailer from the Guild Summit last week shows off some of the new features. If you are interested in giving it a try, see the thread in the SWTOR forum where people are giving away a 7 day free trial.

Originally Posted by SWTOR
There are a number of new features coming to Star Wars™: The Old Republic™ with Game Update 1.2, “Legacy”. This includes new playable content, like Operations and Warzones, as well as new game systems like Guild Banks, Player-vs-Player Warzone ranking, and the next evolution of Legacy. Check out all of the exciting new content coming up in this video!

Curse Weekly Roundup
Pico is back to give us news on Minecraft, Wow, Diablo 3, Assassins Creed 3, Infinite, and Waking Mars.

by Published on 2012-03-10 05:05 AM

Diablo 3 - Patch 14 Looking Good and Undocumented Changes

Diablo III PvP Update - PvP Arena System Postponed
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
As we’re counting down the days until we’re ready to announce a release date for Diablo III, we’ve come to realize that the PvP game and systems aren’t yet living up to our standards. Today, we wanted to let you know that we’ve made the difficult decision to hold back the PvP Arena system and release it in a patch following the game’s launch. After a lot of consideration and discussion, we ultimately felt that delaying the whole game purely for PvP would just be punishing to everyone who’s waiting to enjoy the campaign and core solo/co-op content, all of which is just about complete.

While we work on making sure PvP lives up to its full potential, we hope you’ll find some consolation in the fact that soon, you’ll be having a blast leveling characters, finding items, learning the classes, and perfecting builds…and that when the Arenas do arrive, you’ll be all the better prepared for battle.

When the PvP patch is ultimately ready, it will add multiple Arena maps with themed locations and layouts, PvP-centric achievements, and a matchmaking system that will help you and your team get into fairly matched games quickly and easily. We’ll also be adding a personal progression system that will reward you for successfully bashing in the other team’s skulls.

We know a lot of you are looking forward to PvP, and we’ll be focusing our post-launch efforts on making sure the Arenas are as brutal, bloody, fast-paced, and awesome as we know they can be. In the meantime, we’re in the process of putting the finishing touches on what we think is a truly epic campaign and co-op experience for launch.

We’ll have a lot more info to share on the PvP system in the future, and we look forward to the moment we can get the game into your hands.

Mists of Pandaria Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Spell Resistance Removal
There were two primary problems with spell resistance.

First, the mechanic was implemented in a really confusing way. We could describe it all here, but it would take paragraphs, so instead we invite you to look it up on one of the fansites. The way a point of resistance leads to decreased damage is not an easy system for even experienced players to understand. We certainly could have redesigned the system, but to what end? Gearing for resistance sacrificed so many other stats that it was really only beneficial on those fights that the designers decided ahead of time would be "resistance fights," which generally meant getting a whole set of Nature (or Fire or Shadow, etc.) resistance gear. It felt more like an annoying speed bump to being able to progress to the next boss, rather than a fun challenge.

Secondly, the various resistance auras were passive things you'd just throw up, and pretty easy for any group larger than 5 to have. In designer parlance, we balanced around the assumption of their presence, rather than them feeling like awesome bonuses when you got to use, say, Fire Resist Aura. There isn't a ton of interesting gameplay there.

As we said in the blog, in some alternate universe, we could imagine a World of Warcraft itemization design where resistances are nearly as meaningful as stats like haste or crit. In that game there would be a lot of mobs that cast spells or use magical attacks, and stacking resistance might be an interesting trade off to stacking Stamina and armor. In the abstract, resistances could be cool. They aren't currently very cool in the actual World of Warcraft. We could spend a lot of design attention to make them cool -- and maybe someday we'll take that challenge on again -- but for Mists, we'd rather spend more attention on making sure the talent tree and spec revamps are as cool as they can possibly be. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Conquest and Valor Points Cap
There is often a razor’s edge between optional and mandatory. While earning a little more Conquest or Valor might feel like an option for a player who has some free time at the end of a week, it feels mandatory for a Gladiator-type PvPer or realm-first raider who wants to stay competitive with other players at that level. And of course, whenever we bring about the possibility of earning gear faster, we have to assume that players will take advantage of it. To use an extreme case, if you could complete all of your Conquest or Valor gear in one week (even if it took you nearly all of your waking time to do so), then PvP and PvE would have to be balanced with that level of gear in mind, in addition to the fact that players who quickly consumed the content by finishing their gear progression so quickly would then be looking around for something else to do.

We do try to balance time investment with skill in the game. If there was no reward just for playing (time investment), then only the most skilled players would win Arenas or BGs or kill raid bosses and there would be no catch-up mechanism for the rest of us. This would demoralize and discourage players from participating, and the highly-skilled players would have no one to oppose in the BG or join in raiding.

Of course, if we overly reward time investment, then the value of skill gets diminished, which is very unsatisfying. The design we typically follow is to give the most skilled players the opportunity to accomplish things first, but let other players get there by eventually acquiring the gear and familiarity to accomplish the same (boss kill / acquisition of desirable piece of armor / achievement).

But we don’t like it when players run out of things to do. That's something that is always on our list of things to do to improve WoW. We’re not sure that removing caps is the right solution. We have discussed ideas like having diminish returns on Valor and Conquest, such that you always could earn more, but at some point the effort per reward becomes less and less desirable. Maybe under that model very dedicated players could continue to earn additional points, without creating a new standard for everyone. It’s tricky though, because we have to go with an option that doesn't quickly slide into something that feels mandatory. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Stat Changes Philosophy
I'd like to jump back in here to address a common concern we've been reading, which is that we're trying to oversimplify the stat system in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience.

One of our design philosophies is: simple to learn, difficult to master.

We don’t believe in obfuscating information just to create a barrier between players who understand the rules and those who don’t. We do like to have lots of depth to our systems however, and we’re totally fine with veteran or knowledgeable players knowing a lot of nuance, exceptions, and tricks to the basic rules. To use an older example, armor penetration wasn’t our most shining moment in item design. At the base level, it was pretty easy to understand (physical attacks do more damage). However, the way a point of armor penetration rating translated into damage was mathematically complex. And to make matters worse, it was such a good stat that it made sense to stack it even if you didn't understand the mathematical basis for why it was a good stat. Armor penetration was difficult to learn (what does it do?) but easy to master (it’s overpowered). You can make similar examples with "capping" block for paladin and warrior tanks.

On the other hand, haste and crit aren’t that hard to understand. Haste is "you can do more." Crit is "you do stuff bigger, but not 100% of the time." The depth comes from deciding if your play style is more about doing lots of stuff, or about occasionally getting bigger heals and hits. If you’re intolerant of randomness, then crit might be unappealing. If you run out of mana a lot as a healer, then spending mana faster through haste might be unappealing. Both stats can impact rotations as well, depending on individual spec mechanics. These are the types of stats we feel add a decent amount of depth to the system in terms of how you want to build your character, yet they're quite easy to understand on a fundamental level. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Mists of Pandaria Priest Development Status
Prayer of Healing can be used by Holy and Discipline once again. We realized that the goal of making Holy Nova an effective AE healing tool was problematic. It meant that we would have to change Holy Nova so thoroughly, that it was becoming a second Prayer of Healing. Remember: we aren’t even in beta yet, and we want to retain as much opportunity as possible to respond to player feedback throughout the rest of this process. Things will change for priests, and every other class, over the coming weeks.

There is some speculation that Discipline is intended only as a PvP spec or only as a tank-healing spec. Neither of those is our design intent. Both Holy and Discipline should be effective at group healing or single-target healing, and if we do our jobs right, both can have a role in PvP. The main difference between them is that Discipline relies more on absorption mechanics, such as Power Word: Shield, Power Word: Barrier, Divine Aegis and the new Spirit Shell. Holy priests should place more emphasis on heals over time and have more area healing mechanics (e.g. Circle of Healing, Holy Word: Sanctuary), but those are intended to offset the incredible benefit of absorbs and not to make Holy the only option for handling AE damage. We see both in use a lot in PvE in Cataclysm, and we intend for that model to continue.

So does that leave Holy Nova on the cutting-room floor, or is it just going to remain like it is now, useable by both specs, but never really used?
At this time, we don't have an update on Holy Nova for Mists of Pandaria.

Will Prayer of Healing still be restricted to affecting one group per cast or will it be a "smart" heal that prioritizes on health of those around you similar to Wild Growth?
It looks like Prayer of Healing is going to continue to work as it does today.

Give binding heal back to disc as well...
There is certainly a chance. At the moment, Discipline doesn't have Binding Heal because we want the specs to play differently (not just vary by Circle of Healing vs. Penance and similar spec spells).

This, friends, is why we need to be vocal about things as early as we possibly can.
I respectfully disagree. As I said above, there is a difference between feedback that comes from pure imagination ("I've not played this yet, but I can guess how it might feel") and feedback that comes from hours and hours of actual gameplay. The latter is much more preferable and helpful, and can only be gotten during beta testing.

We recognize that change is always scary. It’s probably impossible for us to make a change that is universally acclaimed by all players (or even just one group of players, such as priests). We try to make the best decisions for the class, and that includes seeking feedback from interested players, but these things are perpetually a work in progress, and not everyone can be pleased. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

PvP and Gear
I feel like I should take some time to better relay the development team's intentions when it comes to how PvP stats will work in Mists.

There are two important changes to PvP itemization coming:

1. We're splitting Resilience into an offensive and defensive component.
2. All players will have at least 30% damage reduction versus other players.

If you want to do more damage to other players in Mists, you have two options. You can get better PvE gear with more offensive stats, or you can get better PvP gear with slightly smaller offensive stats built in(because PvP gear is lower item level), but which will also give you more damage against players specifically. In today's game, stacking PvE gear is really the only way to do more damage to other players in PvP since Resilience only supplies a defensive bonus. These are completely made up numbers, but imagine PvE gear is 100% effective in PvE and 75% effective in PvP. PvP gear is 50% effective in PvE, but 100% effective in PvP -- despite its lower item level, it wins out over PvE gear when used for its intended purpose.

Here are some examples:

Ders the rogue: wears PvE gear.
Jillian the hunter: wears PvP gear.
In Cataclysm PvE, Ders does much better damage than Jillian in PvE, because her PvP gear “wastes” stat budget on Resilience.
In Cataclysm PvP, Ders does better damage than Jillian for the same reason. However, when Jillian hits Ders, he doesn’t mitigate her damage at all. The result is high burst damage on both sides.
In Mists PvE, Ders still does better damage than Jillian, because his higher ilevel PvE gear has more offensive stats. The difference is smaller however because Jillian’s PvP stats aren't part of the item budget.

The item level difference is the main distinction.

In Mists PvP, they both do about the same amount of raw damage to each other, with a slight edge for Jillian. Her power stat offsets Ders's PvE stats. Jillian takes less damage because of her PvP Defense (let’s say it’s 50% damage reduction), but Ders still has 30% damage reduction innately, so he doesn’t blow up either. Again the difference is smaller. If Ders wants to get serious about PvP, he’s eventually going to want PvP gear, and Jillian will want more PvE gear to do PvE.

Another way to think about it is that we are pushing PvP and PvE gear closer together with two changes: A player in PvE gear always has some base PvP defense (it's like a little PvP gear for free). A player in PvP gear can do more damage and healing than today in PvP because of the new Power stat (it's like a little PvE gear for free).

Right now, if you walk into PvP using PvE gear, odds are there are some dudes that aren't wearing any resilience at all that you can probably blow up. On the same token, even when fighting players that have resilience, your raw output is higher compared to them, because you have more raw dps (or healing) stats on your PvE gear.

In Mists, everyone will be a bit tougher, so even fresh PvPers aren't as likely to get insta-gibbed, making pure PvE gear less useful straight out of the gate. At the higher end, a PvP geared player will both do more damage in PvP and take less damage in PvP than a player in similarly powerful PvE gear.

So, right now, there isn't an alternative to using awesome PvE gear in PvP. A great PvE trinket beats anything from PvP. In 5.0 a trinket with PvP stats should beat out a PvE trinket in PvP.

Legendary items might be an outlier, because legendary items are legendary, and the additional item levels will probably make them competitive with PvP items. On the other hand, we also expect legendary items to be *much* more rare than they are currently, so they'll also be less of a factor.

When you state that PvE gear will have a higher item level than "equivalent" PvP gear, are you referring to normal or heroic raiding gear?
Perhaps I misunderstood the question? I'm referring to gear, in general. If we were to compare introductory PvE gear with introductory PvP gear, the PvP gear would have a lower item level, but would be stacked with lots of 'free' PvP Power and Defense that don't count against that items item budget. In reality, it would be just as, if not more powerful than the equivalent PvE item, but exclusively for the purposes of PvP.

Have you ever considered implementing a stat on PvE gear that's reminiscent to PvP Power and Defense, but for PvE scenarios? For example, a stat that increases damage dealt to non-player characters only?
In a way, this is already the case. There are stats that are of great value in PvE that are extremely sparse in PvP items, and also extremely weak in PvP. Hit is a good example.

That sounds great, honestly. I just wonder how committed you (Blizzard) is to this concept.
Well, we aren't particularly happy with the way some of these PvE burst trinkets (Cunning and Vial in particular) have worked out in PvP. Future trinkets aren't likely to follow the same model, though we do want to make trinkets powerful and interesting when we can. We can make PvP trinkets compelling by (just for example) doing things like offering proc or on-use effect to provide PvP Power, much as we already have equivalent PvE trinkets that proc strength or spell power.

If we still run into issues with out of control trinkets, then we have levers we can pull, like adjusting the internal cooldown, or reducing the spikiness of their output. Either way, allowing Cunning of the Cruel to be so dominant in PvP qualifies as a misstep.

I'm trying to get my head around it, would you say PVP power in a sense is like +100 damage against undead enchants, or more of a Res pen?
Think +damage, not penetration. Your PvP Power isn't less valuable if your target isn't already stacked with PvP Defense.

What about healers? How do they fit into this equation? Can healers just wear PvE gear?
PvP Power will increase the healing done to other players in PvP situations, so no worries there.

Should we expect PvP will involve a lot of 10%-->100% healing and 100%-->10% damage then?
We want healing to scale with PvP Power, but that doesn't mean that bonus healing has to scale at the same rate as bonus damage from PvP Power. Again, we have levers we can adjust to make PvP feel good.

I have a concern that the model you're suggesting won't be able to deliver on the two-fold promise of keeping 'PvE gear out of competitive PvP' and 'reducing the barrier of entry.'
That's an understandable concern, and it's true that as gear gets beefier tier by tier, it gets harder for new players to step into the fray, but even then, the innate defenses coming in Mists should help a lot. We're also aiming for the power curve from un-geared to geared level 90 player to be flatter than it currently is at 85, which should also help.

We want the PvP community to grow, so at least one of the goals here is to let players cross over more easily into PvP than they can today. That said, we're not expecting a just-dinged level 90 player to step into a 5.3 BG and smash face against dudes in stacked PvP gear. I'm pretty sure that's not what you guys want either. We do want someone who's moderately geared to have a much better chance in Mists than he or she does in today's PvP environment, though. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

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

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