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by Published on 2015-11-08 10:18 AM

Engineering Community Amphitheater Discussion
WoW, Heroes, Battle.Net, and Overwatch engineers talked and answered questions. This was not included on the Virtual Ticket. If you enjoyed it, let Blizzard know!

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
  • The Overwatch team was putting together a demo of Overwatch in China, but they had forgotten they couldn't show anything with blood. The game had to be patched over weak wifi in China to get rid of the blood. The team realized that there was one point in the code where the client determines if you shot another unit or the environment, a simple if statement. They realized they could change one byte of the executable to get rid of the blood. They wrote an executable to load the game client, find the byte, flip it, and save the modified client. It worked and Chinajoy got their Overwatch demo.
  • At Warlords launch, things were a little rocky. The team had all of the hardware they needed, but because WoW is an older game, each blade had to be dedicated to certain parts of the game. The team set up the blade configuration to what they thought would work well, but they weren't very particular about what kinds of blades were in each pool. They didn't have enough of the high memory blades allocated to instances, so they were running out of memory. Running in your garrison would spin up a new instance, resulting in hundreds of thousands of instances. It took the team around 8 hours to go into the datacenters and pull blades, add memory, and move blades between clusters. This result in some downtime, but when everything came back up it was much more stable. After that there were just software issues.
  • The Heroes of the Storm engine is the Starcraft engine, so when the team wants to make changes they have to consider all of the user created mods that may be using the functionality. They can't change things that would harm user mods in the Arcade. The team built lots of chains and shackles but everyone is okay with it. Thankfully no one leaves Team 1, so all of the people working on it are familiar with things.
  • The original WoW developers decided that there would be an array to hold your inventory. The first several entries are things that end up on the paper doll, your head and leg slots and such. After that comes your inventory. At some point they wanted to add a bank to the game, so they added that to the end of the array. Players shouldn't be able to access their bank anywhere in the world, as it would break the code. This was handled by adding lots of statements in different places in the code, defining what the array position was where the inventory ended and where the bank begins. This value was hardcoded all over the place, but it isn't just a simple search to find them all. Some math logic may rely on it being constant. If you want to add slots to the backpack, who knows what you are going to break? It becomes very buggy and error prone, and likely that you are going to make a mistake. This mistake would break the game in a way you don't like. As a result, they would have to put amazing engineers that could be working on new features on a task to look through thousands of lines of code to find all of those cases, as well as the QA department testing every edge case in the world to ensure the change doesn't break anything. This is how we ended up with a fixed size backpack.
  • The team would rather fix things when they come back to work on related new features. When they worked on cross-realm zones, they rethought how they handed off players between realms. They ripped out lots of the old code and redid it, resulting in being able to add features in the future without having to worry about 16 slot backpack style bugs. This allowed for seamless instancing for garrisons, along with some new things in Legion that have yet to be revealed.
  • All of the games are like legacy code that the Battle.Net team has to support. When the team wanted to increase the number of friends you could have on Battle.Net, they had to go and find all of the places where there was a constraint in the games. The UI in all of the games may have constraints on how many friends you can have and see. All of the games have to be patched to support any new features or changes. The team can never do anything that would require all of the games to patch simultaneously, so changes have to be backwards compatible to some effect.
  • It's reasonable to assume the WoW team is looking at new technologies, including DirectX 12. No timeline or announcements yet though.
  • Heroes of the Storm is a very data driven game. The design team comes to the systems team and wants to do something fun like a hero that is controlled by two different players (and show it off at Blizzcon). The team panics a little bit, thinks about it, and then gets it done.
  • Engineers don't ever want to tell design no. Designers are amazing at what they do and have great creative ideas, so no one wants to tell them no. Especially when the designer will find their own way to do it. There is a picture that gets passed around of a trash can with a iron sitting on top of it. The iron is turned on and there is a coffee pot on top of it, with spaghetti in the coffee pot. Problem solved, they can make spaghetti.
  • It is really important to figure out where the designers feel pressure when designing the game and try to make that pressure go away. As soon as you have a designer looking at a dialogue box with 128 checkboxes, they are no longer thinking about the awesome experience they want to deliver, they are thinking about what the difference between LEAVE_WORLD_CANCELS and ENTER_WORLD_CANCELS. (Where is the player when they are not in the world?!)
  • Overwatch has strike teams, where lots of people from different disciplines come together to work to get a feature done. With Overwatch, that is usually a hero. They get a gameplay engineer, engine programmer, designer, animator, and effects artist to make Hanzo. They have to bring in the Sound team which is always stressed. Everyone works together to perfect the gameplay, get feedback from each other, feedback from the entire team, and finally feedback from the rest of Blizzard and beta players. A lot of this interaction comes from sitting down and playing through what you are working on together.
  • There are two types of heroes in Overwatch: D.Va and not D.Va. They only started working on her a few months ago, not realizing it would take all of those months to get her done.
  • The team decided that the designers would eventually ask for something like a rocket that you fire and then control, so they got ahead of it and wrote some code to do that kind of gameplay. Junkrat came along and they thought they had it covered and everything was great. It turns out that all of that had to be redone for D.Va. Bugs came up like jumping out of the mech, but it is still behind capturing the payload, moving along. Another bug resulted in the camera going to 0,0,0 when you jumped out of the mech, leaving you with controlling nothing.
  • Engineers and designers have complementary goals. The designer's goal is to ensure that the highest number of players get the best experience. The engineer's goal is to ensure that no one has a bad experience. Think about all of the edge cases and make sure your code can cover them.
  • Appear Offline not being ready comes down to some legacy code. It is hard to design it in a way that remains consistent throughout the games. It isn't really hard technically to do. What do you do when your friend is appearing offline but they are in front of you in the game world? Appear Offline really means "I want to hide from my friends so I can play D3 rather than go and raid", but when you are both standing in front of the auctioneer...
  • The team uses lots of standard industry tools like VTune, as well as internally developed profilers. There is lots of automation to test things, like putting 10 heroes in a one lane map and having them fight each other to compare performance over each build. Heroes get changed from build to build, but it gives you a general performance trend and catching catastrophic mistakes.
  • Overwatch uses similar profiling tools.
  • Any time you are optimizing code there are trade-offs. Your knowledge about optimizations, the time it takes to write optimizations, how maintainable your code is going to be, and what constraints you are going to put on the engineers and content team to solve problems.
  • The team has had to make tons of optimizations that took the form of talking to artists to simplify collision geometry. There is no flat surface in a body, so optimizations are needed for performance.
  • When the team is trying to solve a design problem, they consider the fantasy they are trying to create, not what is the solution they are trying to write. They want to consider the player experience they are trying to craft.
  • At one point in his previous life as a HFT engineer, @kurtismcc saved 120ns on a hash function and people were thrilled. It was a big win.
  • The WoW team spends a lot of time looking at if it is faster to read static data out of a table to speed things up by 4-5x, then pat themselves on the back. Then they will do something like launch Warlords, spin up hundreds of thousands of instances, and find out that when you want to shut an instance down you have to crawl over a linked list to find the one you want to shut down. Someone decided hash tables would take too long so they put it in a linked list.
  • The teams have likely written five our six profilers to meet the needs of each team.
  • Blizzard has identified that they really want to make games stay online longer. They want to think less about engineering like something they throw over the wall and more along the lines of achieving three nines. They have been trying to achieve this internally, especially with WoW, but they are dealing with an older live infrastructure. Battle.Net also has a lot of older infrastructure. The team recently tried to get to a one hour patch cycle and they got down to 1h 45min in NA and 53 minutes in EU. They are getting faster and it would be nice if they could live patch WoW without maintenance one day.
  • There is a lot of static data that drives the game, so patch days require copying a lot of that data in very inefficient ways to a lot of places. They are working on improving that process. A lot of maintenance is inefficiently pushing updated code, binaries, and data to remote data centers. After that they need to do live testing, as until recently testing environments haven't been as great as they should be. They also have to take down and bring back servers in a specific order. The team has development environments where they test everything, but that all has to be replicated in the live environment and hope testing accounted for everything.
  • There are lots of people that enjoy VR at Blizzard, but they work on amazing game ideas, not adding amazing tech without a good idea. When and if they come up with a good application for VR, they will explore it. If VR will help player immersion it would be cool.
  • The team uses Perforce on the Overwatch team, as well as proprietary source control software they wrong for art assets.
  • Battle.Net uses Git for all of their code and Jenkins.
  • The WoW server team uses Subversion still, but there is talk of moving to Git where there is lots of shared code.
  • Team 1 uses Git, Perforce, Jenkins. (Not Leeroy)
  • The WoW UI team looks at the source code to figure out what functions do and occasionally use WoWPedia. There is some documentation for server side Lua, but client side not so much.
  • The Lua engine that runs on the server side is worse than not having documentation, as it actively scrapes the code looking for new functions to add so that designers have more flexibility. This means you end up with 17 functions named teleport and having no idea which one is the right one. If it is bad for addon developers, it is much worse internally.
  • WoW doesn't use a ton of agile development. A few of the teams are moving to scrum like things. Blizzard doesn't have a lot of consistency between teams internally.
  • The Overwatch team was worried about datamining. We found the Progression system 2.0 and even though you can still see it in the Blizzcon demo, it was something they killed 2 days before beta. They realized they didn't like it at all. They did it on such short notice that they left behind some remnants.
  • The WoW team knows that as soon as they put data on the CDN we will pull it and go over it with a fine tooth comb. When they were talking about changing over the system to the new content delivery system, they talked about encrypting every single thing to keep anticipation as high as possible. Encrypting everything would mean that they can't patch them, so you would have to completely redownload that content, so the team decided not to encrypt everything.
  • It is challenging to create a locked down and secure environment that allows for rapid iteration. Iteration is very important in both engineering and game design, so it is sometimes given priority over locking things down.
  • Blizzard games operate at a scale where an innocuous decision will come back to bite you really hard. You want to let players do the /who query in WoW to see who was online, but players were hitting the server really hard. Servers were spending 85% of their time answering the queries because there were so many players online. A good example of the n squared problem. The team has to be sensitive to things like this, as there aren't population bounds like the other games have.
  • Legion is rewriting a lot of code so that you subscribe to changes and get them pushed to you, resulting in more responsive servers. During Brewfest, the ram racing quest wasn't very fun, because you could never see the buckets. The server would only update your area of interest every 5-6 seconds, so you would arrive to the bucket's location before it updated and loaded the bucket. The team is trying really hard to improve that in Legion, but it is a lot of work.
  • Team 1 - SC2 and Heroes, Team 2 - WoW, Team 3 - Diablo, Team 4 - Overwatch, Team 5 - Hearthstone.
  • The teams all want to be on mobile more. Hearthstone has shown that Blizzard can do mobile well. Lots of people wanted to do Garrision missions on mobile devices and the team is aware and wanted that too.
  • Blizzard does code reviews across most of the teams and is taking advantage of modern C++ features to make code more readable. Readability and maintainability is an important value for them. Products have to live for a really long time, which is why it is important.
  • There is a cheap solution and a right solution and the team supposed to do the right thing, even if it takes longer. You don't want to have to come back and fix things that were done poorly.
  • There is a tension between wanting to understand code vs rewriting code that might look messy. If there is code with clearly defined ways to extend it, that is code that is great, even if it is legacy code.
  • Overwatch had a lot of people signing up for a constrained beta test. One of the things they want to see is how the code works in different network environment. One person at Blizzcon was playing from Chile and he let them know that it was playing great. The team has even trying playing over a tethered phone and it worked well.
  • Open beta weekends are good for crashing servers and exposing bugs. The D3 beta weekend exposed a bug that sent lots of games to a D3 server after it came back from a crash because it appeared to have no load.
  • Technology choices that you can get off of the shelf are generic and don't always solve the problems Blizzard encounters when developing games. The team would rather work with constraints they have built themselves rather than constraints someone else built into a tool.
  • If there was open source code to solve a problem on the WoW server team, they would use it. If you look at the legal descriptions in the client you can see a lot of the open source licenses from libraries that they use. They try to not reinvent the wheel.
  • Having a completed game is a valuable experience if you are looking for things to put on your resume. Passion for learning and variety in what you have done is also good.
by Published on 2015-11-08 07:56 AM

The Cutscene - Behind Blizzard's In-Game Cinematics
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
  • The machinima team started doing trailers back as early as Burning Crusade. They quickly realized they could do more than just trailers and took on the Wrathgate cinematic next.
  • In 2010, the machinima department was part of the in-game cinematics department, which made all of the content for the Starcraft 2 story mode.
  • After Wings of Liberty, the team had made upgrades to their tools in preparation for Heart of the Swarm. The Diablo team wanted an announcement trailer for the Demon Hunter, so it was assigned to the machinima department.
  • A Cinematic Director works with the game team and creatives to get together and come up with the story that is going to take place in the gameplay experience or online. The story is then brought to artists, working with storyboard artists to block out the scene, layout artists to get the characters in their poses in the environment, as well as animators, lighters, compositors, and effect artists.
  • The director has to ensure that the truth, spirit, and flow of film are maintained during each step of the process.
  • The team has grown from 2 to more than 20 people.
  • Machinima artists work with the technology that makes everything work, as well as the creative side that makes everything look awesome.
  • Once the team has an idea of what assets they want to use, they have to find them. The team can use the regular game development tools, as well as a tool that allows them to browse the existing models. Once they have selected a model, they can change the textures if needed.
  • Once assets are pulled together, the other artists work on improving them so that they fit the cinematic and are high quality.
  • Game characters are the base for the characters in the cinematics, but in game they are optimized for situations where there are lots of characters on screen.
  • The team takes the game character and rounds out the edges and makes them higher quality so they still look good when viewed close up in the cinematic. This is done to all of the character, but especially the hands and faces. The topology of the face is important, as the characters need to be able to act when the animators work with them.
  • The lead animator brings characters to life though movements and performances.
  • Skin weighing plus additional bones meant that the Pandaren were able to emote much more than the older character models.
  • The team was about to work on the cinematic with Garrosh, so they decided to improve him without breaking the look of the game. They took the older model and made a new face rig, giving us Garrosh 1.5, which hasn't been seen before the panel. The game team happened to be making the new character models at the same time, starting with the Orc. The team took the new Garrosh and used the new face rig, creating the Garrosh we saw in Siege of Orgrimmar cinematics. This was the start of more expressive animation for in-game cinematics.
  • Compositing may be working with hundreds of layers at once on hundreds of shots, so it gets complicated really fast.
  • The team starts by looking for a visual style that complements the story. They then work with the in game shots, adding layers like atmosphere, fog, effects, colors, and fire. Warlords added per pixel lighting which was helpful for Gul'dan's cup.
  • WoW doesn't use a lot of lighting in the shots, but Heroes of the Storm does.
  • Heroes of the Storm trailers are 99% straight from the game, including the effects, background, and character models.
  • Heroes of the Storm was getting ready for closed beta and wanted a trailer for each hero. One new artist was tasked with creating all of the trailers. The too he used was a modified version of the Starcraft 2 editor, made especially for Heroes of the Storm.
  • The tool allowed for sculpting of the ground, painting textures, placing trees and objects, and summoning NPCs. This allowed him to cut from Camera 1, to Camera 2, to pan across to another hero, and fade out.
  • There are now 4 artists working on Heroes of the Storm machinima, allowing for lighting and compositing, custom models, and animations. This was first done for the Eternal Conflict trailer, as well as more recently in The Arena trailer.
  • In January 2014, the team was also working on Warlords of Draenor. Their plan was to make as many cinematics at launch as all of the other expansions combined. Alliance and Horde specific cinematics had worked well before, so they did it again with the first zone finale cinematics. Both are identical in the general concept, but the details are different and fit each faction well.
  • The Garrosh vs Thrall cinematic was the most challenging cinematic that Terran Gregory had ever worked on. There was a very complex and emotionally rich backstory between Thrall and Garrosh. Writer's block isn't always not knowing what to say, in this case it was having so many options and being paralyzed with choice. He knew it was going to be a battle to the death, so they started with the fight sequence. There used to be observers on the sidelines, almost as if they were in an arena. The observers were removed, giving the scene a different vibe. One on one is different than when you are around strangers. If this was the first time Garrosh was able to talk to Thrall without having to maintain any mask, what would really come out of his heart. They realized it was about abandonment, his father, Thrall leaving him to be Warchief. The final voice over came out amazing. While we could never forgive Garrosh for the things he had done, he was not a character that was beyond sympathy. It was a satisfying death for one of Warcraft's greatest villains.
  • Yrel's horns and hair were a unique identifier, as well as a customized gear progression to show her journey. Her gear became nicer over time, starting out with a simple modified Aldor set from Burning Crusade. She went to a Paladin set for Talador.
  • Garrisons needed a reward when they leveled up. Something flashy but not too long, giving you a little ego boost. The team worked with assets from the game while it was being developed, as well as their custom camera system to get smooth curves. The same methods were used for the Shipyard.
  • The team started with Yrel's game model, making the horns exactly like the concept, but they didn't look great when she wasn't looking straight ahead. They were then adjusted to work well with other camera angles. Her armor was then uprezzed and 3D armor was added to give her an actual breastplate rather than painted texture.
  • Yrel had to give a very emotional performance while not saying many lines, so expressiveness was important. Her game model was turned into a movie star!
  • Yrel's cinematic was quiet and subtle rather than the usual overly epic cinematic. It had to be compelling with very little dialogue in under 2 minutes. The team started by showing her looking to Velen for answers, but she doesn't realize the answers are within her. The final shot shows her hope and determination, which you see later in the Battle of Shattrath.
  • Garrosh vs Thrall is the more standard epic cinematic, but it is also a very intimate moment.
  • Warlords was a ton of work for the team, 6 sequences, 274 shots, all due in 6 months. The team developed a comp template that allowed artists to sit down and hammer out some stuff really quickly, making them functional really fast, increasing throughput.
  • Lords of War required a real 3D package for the first time. Real lights, real shadows, and they created dark and brooding sessions.
  • The team showed a small Legion in-game cinematic storyboard teaser at the end!

by Published on 2015-11-07 10:28 PM

World of Warcraft Q&A
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
  • When we discover Alleria and Turalyon in Legion, the way you view WoW will change. Amazing things in store.
  • It is important to sell the fantasy behind races and classes in the game. Then they will support and customize races. They want to do sub-races, just not sure how to do it right yet. Going to continue to work on it.
  • There are more and more groups that are cross servers, so the current guild structure doesn't meet their needs. A solution won't make it for launch, but some way to communicate with a cross-server group is something they are working on.
  • The flying achievement will exist at launch, but you won't be able to complete it at launch. You can start progressing on it though.
  • In Legion, there will be a short appearance by Bolvar Fordragon, likely at the Frozen Throne.
  • The team has a wide array of class quests with the Artifacts, one for every spec. The team is focusing on class content in this expansion, but it will likely be artifact related rather than green fire quest.
  • The team is looking at how tapping works in the outdoor world. Rather than one person hitting a mob and getting it, it would be nice if several people could tap it to get credit for quests and loot. No need to group with people you come across when questing. Open tapping will remain for larger NPCs like quest and world bosses.
  • Launching expansions more quickly is still a goal. Not sure when they would get to one per year. Quality is more important than release dates.
  • Tomb of Sargeras is just a monument.
  • Guilds are very important to the social structure of the game. It would be ideal if you could be in multiple guilds at some point, one for PvP, one for Raids. Maybe a secondary guild system? Still in progress.
  • No new battleground, focus is on the new PvP progression system.
  • No plans to update old starting zones for Legion. There will be Legion invasions in the world, maybe one will take place there. Legion wants to invade Azeroth, aren't going to start with the Exodar.
  • The Broken Isles version of Dalaran is upgraded, you will find out the secrets that are protecting it, they are big.
  • The team wants to get around to resolving old stories from Cataclysm at some point.
  • Keystone affixes are standardized globally for the week, so no need to try and find someone with one that is slightly easier.
  • The new transmog system should help with the inventory space problem.
  • Titan's Grip for Fury warriors is not dead. Artifact is too small, will be sized up. Holding 2 x 2H is a cool distinctive thing.
  • Legion will get into the details of multi Legion vs singular Legion.
  • One more character slot is coming in Legion.
  • No new scenarios in Legion that you queue for, but lessons learned from MoP scenarios used to create scenarios that are part of the leveling and questing experience.
  • You can pre-order, buy the collector's edition, and contact customer service to get the difference.
  • The team doesn't want the Artifact to be a blocker for playing multiple specs. There are lots of catch-up mechanisms in place to help you bring 2nd or 3rd weapons up to speed with your main one, as well as people who took a break from the game. You will have to decide what weapon you will use your Relics on though.
  • Legion will allow you to use all the specs, no longer limited to dual spec, each spec remembers your action bars and such. No such thing as no spec anymore, there is a default spec.
  • Multistrike is just another form of crit, doesn't appear in many of the class fantasies.
  • Versatility has a defensive component, useful for PvP, tanks, not a fantasy problem. Each stat should have a special identity and purpose. Do people hate Versatility because it is not strong enough or because of how it works?
  • The team doesn't like account wide things, because the point of having an alt is playing the alt, but things should be a bit faster the second or third time you do it. More and more people want to play and maintain alts, so the team is aware of the need to make things faster when you play it again.
  • Nothing like the AQ gate opening is coming. There will be the invasions around the world, taking server level participation. A large event would be nice, but it needs to be the right time and place.
  • Karazhan will be relevant in Legion. The secrets we need to beat the Burning Legion are in Karazhan. Karazhan could be a 5 player dungeon in Patch 7.1.
  • One of the Artifact quests will shed some light on what is going on in Tirisfal Glades.
  • Wrathion may have some interest in Highmountain and Neltharion's lair. Don't expect him to look the way he did before.
  • The team could make old world materials relevant again, but Legion is going to focus on new materials. Not sure you would enjoy old materials being relevant again.
  • New lore is coming for Tauren, Forsaken, Worgen, maybe even something for Gnomes.
  • Old Gods will play a role in Legion.
  • Some of the huge raids the team made in the past were awesome, but they might be better if they were broken up. More smaller raids, different environments, part of the same tier.
  • The team has tried to use non-linear layouts to make things faster for guilds that only raid a couple of nights a week that still want to progress.
  • Reforging isn't coming back. It isn't needed anymore.
  • You won't be using Artifacts forever, maybe display them on your mantle in a future expansion.
  • Part of the coolness of older rewards is how rare and cool they are. If you were guaranteed to get something it wouldn't be as cool. There is a difference between mounts / pets and power items.
  • Dance Studio - Still don't have the animation time for it.
  • No plans for Vanilla realms. Lots of emotional desire for it, but when other MMOs tried it, it didn't work out. Lots of complexity, old code, old hardware, old data, old bugs. Players would expect things to be fixed.
  • You can't transmog other things to look like Artifacts, but you can transmog Artifacts to look like other things if you really don't like it.
  • Alliance and Horde are coming together in your Class Hall to confront a common enemy.
  • You will still have the language barrier in the Class Hall. You can see the other faction, but doesn't mean you can speak their language.
  • Demon Hunters of either faction can speak Demonic to each other!
  • OpenRaid is a great site, group finder has worked out well so far, team wants to continue to expand on it and social tools.
  • No AU heroes at the start, after that TBD.
  • Genn Greymane and some Gilneans will appear.
  • Gear from strongboxes will be similar to gear you get out in the world, what you get based on ratings.
  • We will see Gul'dan before the boss encounter, it is a big part of the storytelling.
  • Mythic flex would be too hard to balance. It is challenging in lower difficulties now, would be much harder with Mythic and people trying to optimize group sizes.
  • Mythic being 20 players is the right number, especially with another class on the way. It allows for certain designs that require a decent number of players. Maintaining a guild roster is a struggle no matter what the raid size is. Ideally they will make it easier to find players and for players to find guilds, rather than changing the raid size again.
  • No new roles (tanking Warlock) for existing classes are planned in Legion. Legion is about enhancing the fantasy of the existing classes and roles.
  • Legion Challenge Dungeons won't be part of the random matchmaking system. One person is putting their Keystone at risk. Guilds, social circles, and group finder will be where you find players. Having an unused keystone is a desired commodity. People will be lining up to use your Keystone on a Sunday, shouldn't be hard to find people.
  • The team hates split raiding, high end guilds hate split raiding, but there isn't a good way to solve it yet. Forcing personal loot would solve it, but that isn't something that some players would enjoy. Open to suggestions.
  • Nefarian will get an update for a Demon Hunter class call, maybe using double jumps.
  • Melee got some new effects and animations in Legion, hopefully people will enjoy them.
  • The team built some of the class accessory models, but now there are Artifact weapons. There was a lot of overlap between the systems. Class accessories are still on the list, what is left beyond Artifacts to add to class fantasy.
  • The Talking Heads that appear during questing are cool. Legion has the most VO of all of the expansions. Every world group has different lines, so you will hear a lot more VO when out in the world.
  • Jaina is not a Dreadlord.
by Published on 2015-11-07 08:57 PM

World of Warcraft: Legion - Game Systems
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
  • The Deadwind Harvester - Purged the life from Deadwind Pass, for Affliction Warlocks. Get together with Council of Black Harvest, steal some information about artifacts from the Legion. Go to Deadwind Pass, under Karazhan! Every time you kill something, you get a damage boost for a short time. Souls try to escape and you can reap the damage boost effect.
  • Artifact power comes from quest bosses, rare spawns, rare drops, dungeons, raids, battlegrounds, arenas.
  • Artifact traits are unlocked by artifact power. You start with some traits unlocked. You first unlock active traits that you put on your bar.
  • After the active trait there are more choices, some of them passive. Minor traits have multiple ranks, you have to unlock them all to progress into the tree.
  • Eventually you can unlock every trait in the tree, but it will takes months into the expansion. You can keep getting smaller power increases after that, so weapon will get more powerful throughout the expansion.
  • Relics can be socketed into the artifact to increase power. Increases item level and gives bonus ranks to some traits. Go from 3 to 4 or 5 ranks in a trait, giving you some customization.
  • Two types of relics for each weapon.
  • You can eventually upgrade your artifact. Dungeon and world content lead up to a big upgrade moment. Upgrade will unlock a new model.
  • You can also get other models from different types of gameplay, as well as different colors.
  • Finish questing zones or do something that is significant to your weapon.

Class Halls
  • Class halls needed to be in a location that strongly represents the class. You should feel like your class when you are in that space.
  • Some Warriors see themselves are a barbarian or berserker, some as a knight fighting for what is right, some as a grizzled veteran. All of them should feel at home in that space.
  • Class Orders are stepping up to fight the Legion.
  • Druids almost had a class hall already with Moonglade. It gets pretty close to meeting the criteria, welcoming a variety of druids, but it could do a better job of immersing them in nature, welcoming feral and guardian druids more.
  • Druids are getting the Dreamgrove, you can feel the influence of the Dream around you. No other classes are allowed in. It fits better than Moonglade.
  • You will find a shrine in your class hall to unlock traits and work with your Artifact.
  • Class champions are also found in your class hall. Some of them are leaders of their own factions. You will unfold their backstory over time and see them in the world.
  • You will interact with your Scouting Map in your class hall. It lets you select your starting leveling zone and you come back to it for new content later on.
  • There is class specific content in the halls, such as demon hunting quests or pickpocketing quests.
  • There are lots of features and bonuses in the halls. Some are shared among many classes, such as armor stands to show off tier sets you have earned from previous content.
  • Hunters have a lodge in Highmountain, getting access to special flight path network no one else has.
  • Druids can reach many other natural places in the world very quickly.
  • Warriors can spar in an arena for bragging rights.
  • Every class will have their own variation of Death Gate to quickly go to their class hall and back. Giant eagle that takes you for hunters.

Demon Hunter
  • Demon Hunters are a dark hero, giving up their soul to fight a threat that most people don't even know exists.
  • Use weapons of the enemy against them, warglavies, fel magic, sculpted biceps.
  • You can select your horns, blindfold, tattoos, custom skin textures, plus normal customization options.
  • New VO for Demon Hunters, things like /train, /flirt, /silly.
  • Havoc is the melee spec with emphasis on mobility. Fight fire with more fire!
  • They use fury, generated by abilities, somewhat like rage.
  • Demon's Bite - Generates random amount of fury.
  • Chaos Strike - Does not consume fury, but requires you to have some.
  • Throw Glaive - No fury cost, short cooldown, no minimum range, hit multiple targets.
  • Blade Dance - Talent that might become a skill.
  • Double Jump adds mobility.
  • Glide is like your own goblin glider, with demon wings! Activated by jump key, no other keybind.
  • Other damaging abilities may not require a target and can be done in the air. Can use them to move outside of combat.
  • Consume Magic - Interrupt someone and gain a full bar of fury.
  • Metamorphosis - Leap in the air, transform, slam into ground, stun everyone, get more damage, more fury, 100% life leech. Gain defense through offense.
  • Spectral Sight - 10 sec cooldown, see through invisibility, stealth, walls.
  • Vengeance - Demon inquisitor. Extracting information from the enemy by using fire and inflicting pain. Also have picked up some protective spells. Maybe glaives and parry.
  • Strong defensive cooldown Metamorphosis. Lots of modifications through talents and Artifacts.

  • Immersive - You should feel like everything you do is involved with class. Abilities, names, animations.
  • Distinct - Every class and spec should have something unique.
  • Empowering - Your character is powerful, total control over what you are doing, use abilities the way you want to use them.
  • Death Knight runes restricted gameplay, so there are now 6 runes, one type, don't worry about what types are off cooldown anymore.
  • Fury Warrior is controlled by how many charges you have of different things. Use Enraging Blow as much as you want. Use Whirlwind, don't worry about Meat Cleaver.
  • Arcane Charges are a resource in addition to mana rather than a buff to monitor.
  • Arcane has a strong fantasy that you really didn't feel while playing. The mana management could ruin things. New mastery - Savant, increases the amount of mana you have. Mana level doesn't matter anymore. Also increases charges damage.
  • Survival Hunter - Melee spec with pet side by side, all of the old abilities are back and awesome.
  • Disc Priest - were a different flavor of Holy, but not good enough. Atonement is now core healing mechanic, now heal by dealing damage to enemies.
  • Subtlety Rogue - Had a really cool ninja fantasy. Shadow Dance was pretty cool, but it is now a passive. 20% chance to re enter stealth that doesn't break from taking damage. Can figure out what you want to do, new opener, combos, finisher, repeat.
  • Shadow Strike - Teleport to target, do Ambush level damage opener.
  • Honor Among Thieves gone
  • Demonology should be about summoning demons, not becoming one. More new minions, buff them and send them out to attack. Metamorphosis is for Demon Hunters.
  • Guardian Druid should be a giant bear, not dodging. Now about increased health, armor, survivability.
  • Shadow Priest - was poor cousin of Affliction warlock. Tapping into the void. Insanity - No more mana or Shadow Orbs, going more insane. Grow tentacles, transform into Void Form. Makes you more and more powerful the longer you stay there. Can only stay there for so long, Insanity drains away, keep generating as much as you can.
  • Talents will have less theme rows, more meaningful choices, more spec specific talents, hundreds of new talents!

  • More stuff to do!
  • Recipes all coming from the trainer is gone. You should get out into the world and carve your own path, go on adventures.
  • Tailoring sends you to Dalaran, wants to know what cloth is like in Broken Isles. You go get some cloth, sew with her, make a robe, cloth is falling apart and not working. Go out into the world, meet a Nightfallen who helps you with sewing problem, teaches you more patterns, find out why he was exiled, why he is so good at tailoring.
  • Miners learn from a dead Tauren. More efficiently mining new materials like Leistone, new Ore.
  • Mining and Herb nodes will be shared. Everyone can gather from a node, no more stealing nodes.
  • Recipes have ranks, 1-3 star recipes. Rare, make you more efficient at crafting things. Less materials, shorter cooldown.
  • Profession UI getting an update, bigger window, list on the left, details on the right, favorites at the top.
  • Learned and Unlearned tab, so you can see what you don't know and where to find them.
  • Obliterum. Build a big forge in the middle of Dalaran, convert crafted items you don't need anymore into Obliterum. Create ring, it has the wrong stats, destroy it and make Obliterum, use it to increase power of the ring you are wearing.
  • Lots of things to do with professions, shouldn't be running out of content.
  • Crafted gear should be special, helms are made out of gun parts. Shoot bullets at enemies with your head. Necks from JCs have guaranteed gem slot. Class specific buffs, 15% move speed for Warrior when enraged.
  • Inscription - Major glyphs are gone! Still have Minor Glyphs and Darkmoon Trinkets. Glyphs are a consumable, applied directly to the spell. One glyph per spell, but no limit on total glyphs! Vantus Rune - Week long buff that targets a specific boss. 10% bonus damage on Xavius.
  • Archaeology - Expansion length campagin over several months, lots of cool things to display, wear, equip, pets.
  • Cooking - Nomi comes from Pandaria, more recipes, can make bacon
  • Fishing - More like an adventure, less what are you watching on your other monitor.

  • Used to have rare world drops, they are back.
  • Rare drops, from anywhere in the world.
  • Power should be relevant throughout the entire expansion.
  • Unique effects - Role, Class, Spec based effects. Movement speed increase based on haste, extra rage from blocked attacks, etc.
  • World drops are legendary! - DoT has a chance to trigger full remaining effect each time they tick.
  • Lots of world drop variety.
  • Drops aren't fully random, will have ways for you to target them.
  • All of the Legion items can scale, could be the best item in the game (super rare).
  • Duplicate personal loot can now be traded. If you have an item that is equal to or less than power level of what you have, can trade it to anyone else who was eligible for loot.
  • Transmog - Clean up bank and inventory some more. More customization. A collection system.
  • Wardrobe - As soon as item is bound to you, appearance is unlocked. Once it is unlocked, you can get rid of it. Account wide! Have to be able to equip item to unlock it.
  • New transmog UI - Left side is the same as the old one, right side is visual gallery of models. Top has a bar that shows you how many appearances you have unlocked.
  • Outfits - Make item sets, store what you look like now, link outfits to other people even if everything isn't unlocked.
  • When you log in to Legion, all of the items you have are unlocked, as well as items from every quest you have ever completed, including items you didn't even pick.
  • Save different outfits per spec. Switch set when you switch specs.
  • You can hide slots (cloak / helm / shoulders) per outfit.
  • Hiding shoulders allowed!
  • Weapon enchants, shirts, and tabards for transmog!

by Published on 2015-11-07 01:32 PM

Blizzcon 2015 - Day 2 Schedule
Join us in the chat for the biggest Blizzcon viewing party! Keep checking back to explore the new content as we update live during the panels!

Blizzcon 2015 Schedule
Note: all times are converted to the timezone your computer is currently in.

Blizzcon 2015 - Day 1 Recap
Saturday starts off with the Legion Game Systems panel at 1 PM PST / 4 PM EST, followed by Q&A and an In-Game Cinematics panel at the same time. Linkin Park will close out the show!

We will be going back and covering the Cinematics panel after the Q&A is wrapped up, along with the Engineering discussion and Community Game Systems discussion later in the day.

Opening Ceremony

World of Warcraft
  • Legion beta begins in the weeks following Blizzcon
  • Legion Cinematic was released
  • Warcraft Movie
    • The movie trailer was shown during the Opening Ceremony.
    • There was a press event with Duncan Jones, Chris Metzen, and some of the movie cast
  • Legion Releasing by September 2016
    • The regular version costs $50 and Digital Deluxe costs $70.
    • Pre-purchasing gives you a Level 100 Boost and at least one week early access to the Demon Hunter class.
    • You will need a level 70 character to create a Demon Hunter and you can only have one Demon Hunter per realm.
  • Artifact Weapons - Blog posts for all of the Artifact Weapons include models and a little bit of story.
  • World of Warcraft: Legion - World and Content Overview (Official Recap)
    • The Broken Shore has a 20 Alliance and 20 Horde (40 Player) scenario that begins right after the cinematic.
    • Demon Hunters have a unique starting experience involving Illidan, who creates a Felsaber epic mount for you.
    • There are four leveling zones that can be done in any order, as they scale.
    • There will be endgame world questing content that aren't strictly daily quests.
    • Legion will have two raids, one with 7 bosses (Emerald Nightmare) and one with 10 (Suramar Palace) with Gul'dan as the final boss.
    • Legion Challenge Mode dungeons keep becoming harder as you defeat them and the rewards keep getting better. Complements or replaces raiding.
  • World of Warcraft Cinematics - The Road to Legion
  • Misc

  • Overwatch Pricing
    • Overwatch - $40, PC only, includes all of the heroes. Widowmaker skin bonus for pre-orders.
    • Overwatch Origins Edition - $60, PC, Xbox One, and PS4. All of the heroes, bonus skins, rewards for other Blizzard games. Baby Wintson Pet for WoW.
    • Overwatch Collector's Edition - $130 PC Xbox One, PS4. All of the Origins Edition content plus the soundtrack, an art book, and Soldier: 76 statue.
  • New Map and Trailer
    • Hollywood is the new Overwatch map, set in a fictional version of Hollywood.
    • A new gameplay trailer was released.
  • New Heroes
    • D.Va - Former pro-gamer turned mech pilot.
    • Mei - Former Climatologist. Uses lower damage frost based attacks, has an ice block like ability, ice wall, blizzard.
    • Genji - Hanzo's brother. Throws Shuriken, deflects attacks, charges forward, and uses a katana.
  • Whats New in Overwatch
    • There will be no support for Macs
    • Release will only have 21 heroes, no announcement on additional heroes or pricing for anything after that.
    • New heroes are coming to beta next week.


Heroes of the Storm
  • Announcement Trailer
  • Hero Deep Dive
    • There are more than 200 characters on the list of potential heroes.
    • Lunara, King Genn Greymane, and Cho'Gall are the three new heroes.
    • Cho'gall is one hero controlled by two players.
    • Cho'Gall will be given to everyone that bought a Blizzcon (or Virtual) ticket.
    • If you party up and play 2 games with someone who does not have Cho'gall, they will unlock the hero for free as well.
    • If you play 4 games as Cho'gall with someone else, you will get bonus gold!
    • The Arena is a new mode will let you pick from 3 random heroes, then play on a new small single objective map. The game is shorter and has less restrictions than normal games now.
    • Towers of Doom is the new map, allowing you to destroy enemy towns to take them over and damage the core.
  • New Hero Skills and Talents

Diablo III
  • Blood and Treasure - New Content and Features for Reaper of Souls
    • New zone - Greyhollow Island, Adventure Mode only.
    • The Eternal Woods and Royal Quarters were expanded for Adventure Mode.
    • Patch 2.4.0 is going to revamp, revisit, or revise nearly every one of the 24 class sets in the game.
    • Set Dungeons - Once you complete and don the full six pieces of any given class set, you'll receive a clue to track down an ancient dungeon designed just for you and your set.
    • Empowered Rifts, New Legendaries, More Stash Space, Season Journey Revisions, and more!

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