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  1. #1
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    Visions of Time: Hidden Threads, Dev Interviews, Blue Posts, Cinder Kitten Sale, Art

    IGN's D3 Art Contest Winners, Blue Posts, Jaetch's Pre-Expansion Paragon Leveling Guide

    Beta Wave #3, Hearthstone Beta Key Giveaway Reminders, Blue Posts

    Patch 5.4 - Visions of Time: Hidden Threads
    Patch 5.4 adds a quest line on the Timeless Isle that involves working for Kairoz of the Keepers of Time. He is on the Timeless Isle because the Bronze Dragonflight is not as powerful as it once was, only being able to catch furtive glimpses through time. He has created an hourglass that will allow for a window into the timeways, but you must collect 50 x Epoch Stones to make it usable.

    After collecting the stones, you embark on a series of weekly quests to use the Vision of Time in different locations to calibrate the Vision of Time. Kairoz eventually will reveal that there is a traitor among the Bronze Dragonflight.

    As the hourglass grows more powerful, he will send you to the Siege of Orgrimmar to look at one of the most devastating timeways you can find, which is the scene you see below. This uses the damaged Stormwind Harbor area we posted a few weeks ago.

    You can join the ongoing discussion on the forums!



    Patch 5.4 Developer Interviews
    The Starting Zone recently had a chance to interview Marco Koegler (Technical Director). You can find information from previous interviews on our Patch 5.4 Developer Interviews page.


    New Player Models
    • Blizzard isn't ready to show off any of the new player models yet, but hopefully will have an announcement soon.
    • One of the human models was changed six years ago and there was a large uproar over how the eye blink changed.
    • Changing the player model risks causing players to no longer feel attached to their character.
    • Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO.

    Game Engine
    • The engine is about 12 or 13 years old now, but has been improved constantly.
    • For a long time it was mandatory to maintain the same visual look across all hardware, but recently they have diverged from that idea, allowing the team to do some nicer things at the higher end.
    • The last two expansions increased the minimum requirements on the boxes, but the team still tries to support the hardware from older minimum requirements.
    • Switching to another existing engine wouldn't make a lot of sense, as the WoW engine has been optimized for certain things that aren't supported well (or at all) in off the shelf engines. For example, moving to an engine that used more dynamic lighting and bump mapping would also require reauthoring most of the existing textures that have been created over the years. This would take a very long time and come at the cost of new content.

    Misc
    • There was a bug at the Mists of Pandaria launch that made it harder to interact with objects the longer you raided, which is something that the developers noticed during their own play time and were able to fix.
    • The systems have been improved to where downleveling your character to play with a friend that is leveling is technically possible, but there aren't any announcements to make.


    Mists of Pandaria Story
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    The debate over faction story development continues internally here at Blizzard, as it does on the forums and elsewhere.

    Any chance we can get more updates on that debate? We get constant updates on gameplay mechanics from Ghostcrawler and other CMs about their thoughts and feelings, but we only rarely hear things from Kosak and friends. It'd be very helpful if they started talking to us and telling us what they're hearing, because right now it seems like there's a really big communication gap.

    It's something we're working on. I'd love to set up more story-centric interviews and conversations with the community. But, while Dave and Greg are both design leads, it's very difficult to compare their tasks, workloads, and roles within the community.

    Systems design is extremely complicated, but it revolves primarily around math. It's easier to have a conversation over class balance concerns and walk away with some objective, actionable feedback. We also try not to change classes too dramatically from patch to patch -- we don't want people logging in and suddenly not knowing how to play their class every time they download a new patch. Greg can talk about general changes early on in a patch's development cycle, and then he can take feedback and look at an array of statistical data we collect in order to finetune numbers closer to the patch's release.

    Story development works very differently. Concerns are much more subjective. This isn't to say they're inherently less valuable, as we're always taking careful note of what the popular opinion is on a given topic. But, there's often a degree of complexity to story development concerns that certainly can't be addressed by changing a couple values somewhere in the game code. And the story we want to tell, combined with the gameplay we want to introduce, is determined much earlier on in development than what class balance will look like in patch X.

    For example, there are several people in this thread asserting that the entire concept of the Siege of Orgrimmar is flawed from a story perspective, particularly for the Alliance. Well, we knew Siege of Orgrimmar would be the final raid of Mists of Pandaria before the expansion was revealed at BlizzCon 2011, and the story framework for how we'd get there was already more or less in place. So, even when we do react directly to feedback about story concerns, we're looking much more at the big picture here, and what stories we want to tell and how they should unfold over the course of several patches (or even expansions).

    We can make some tweaks and refine some story arcs along the way, but regardless of the discussions taking place right now, the 5.4 story is set. It has been for quite some time. That's in big contrast to the aspects of systems design that draw the most discussion (i.e. mainly class balance).

    So, tying this back to the varying capacities in which Dave and Greg engage the community, I couldn't be very liberal with Dave's time when it came to booking interviews. I found about an hour of his time (hour and a half if you count that I stole part of his lunch break) and sat him down for back-to-back interviews -- in, out, and done in one swoop. The reason being that his role in the development of a patch happens at a very different stage of the cycle. At this point he's not actively reading PTR feedback and tweaking how the Horde and Alliance are responding to the threat of Garrosh, or deciding to rework the conclusion of the siege. It's way too late for that, and he's already very busy working on the stories yet to unfold in World of Warcraft. And, yes, in that space he takes popular feedback to heart.

    Dave Kosak... I just don't know anyone more passionate about this game's narrative, or more burdened with the responsibility of making sure that the story is fun to play through regardless of the faction, race, or class a player chooses. He cares deeply about you feeling personally invested in what you're doing, and whether you're red or blue certainly doesn't change that.

    All this being stated, I want to add more words to this post.

    Part of my role on the WoW Community Team is fansite/influencer relations, which includes booking developer interviews. I've been on the team for six years, but I took on the role of fansite relations shortly before Mists of Pandaria was released. Not counting things like PAX or other press events, I've been responsible for booking developer interviews for five press rounds (5.0-5.4). Each time I experiment with the formula by trying to cover different formats, give different sites or people a chance to talk to the devs, etc.

    Looking back on the last five rounds to determine how we can improve the process and results going forward, I'll tell you right now that I'm most interested in bringing story discussion more to the forefront of interviews -- including WoW devs like Dave Kosak, as well as folks from Creative Dev like Chris Metzen and Micky Neilson -- and getting our artists involved more regularly, 'cause you don't hear from them enough. And finally, while I understand the importance of having a mix of text, audio, and video formats, I want the developers on camera more. I believe strongly that the more you get to see and hear the individual behind the name, the better!

    My friends and I have a running joke. If you're a Monk leveling through Pandaria (or a Pandaren for that matter) it's a bizarre experience, because no one recognizes you. They treat you like as much as a freak as everyone else. Now, obviously its unreasonable to ask to have different quests. But it's the bare-bones minimum to ask to see different text when chatting with NPCs.

    Anyway, the joke: "We don't see many of your kind around here, Monk," says the Pandaren surrounded by Monks. We use it as slang for when something small catapults you out of immersion in a game. So, I have read and understand your words, but...eh. No one's perfect and WoW is huge, but c'mon.

    Hah! I know what you mean. And I bet if you sat down with Dave to talk about that over a spot of tea, you'd find that those types of things bother him as well.

    In all, Mists of Pandaria has a plethora of good examples where we implemented content in new ways to avoid immersion-breaking moments like that. But we're definitely not perfect, and we have to weigh the time/resources it takes to address an issue like the one you recounted, versus working on other things. I know some people hate seeing such an excuse, but the truth is it's a very real challenge we face everyday. Game development on World of Warcraft virtually never stops. In general, every task has to be looked at from all angles so an accurate estimate of time and resources can be made, before the task is green-lit and prioritized among all others.

    Using the issue you noted as an example, we have to ask ourselves questions like, "Do we want to make sure Pandaren questing in Pandaria have a lot of unique VO and quest text, or do we want to design a rich gameplay experience on the Isle of Thunder in patch 5.2?" That's not literally what it came down to, but sometimes the choices are that stark.

    Raid Testing Schedule - August 29
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    On Thursday, August 29, we will continue testing raid encounters in the Siege of Orgrimmar raid.

    Each encounter should be available at approximately the listed times below for all Public Test Realms.

    Thursday, August 29
    • Immerseus - 25 Player Heroic - 10:30 PDT (13:30 EDT, 19:30 CEST)
    • Iron Juggernaut - 25 Player Heroic - 13:30 PDT (16:30 EDT, 22:30 CEST)
    • Siegecrafter Blackfuse - 25 Player Heroic - 16:00 PDT (19:00 EDT, 01:00 CEST)

    As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a beta environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session, change the boss being tested, or cancel a test entirely, due to bugs, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

    Blue Posts
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Battlefield: Barrens Ending Soon
    Will the Radical Mojo be BOA / BOE after 5.4 or not.
    No. As the armor tokens and weekly quest are going away, Radical Mojo won't be obtainable once Patch 5.4 hits. However, as we've stated before, Gahz’rooki’s Summoning Stone, Raptorhide Boxing Gloves, and the Kor’Kron Supply Satchel can still be found on the Kor'Kron mobs in Northern Barrens. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    Scaling up Old Dungeons and Raids
    I think you might be referring to this interview with Vanion. We still need to find an appropriate reward scheme for the scaled up content though, so feel free to share your eureka moments, might help out our devs and eventually speed things up a bit, as Tom said, we won’t be seeing this happen until some point in the future.

    I don’t know about you guys, but personally, this news is so exciting that I think I’ll be running faster than usual for a while.

    To me it spells good news, even though it could be considered "recycled content". It'd be nice to give these older things more attention and bumping them up to the level cap seems to be the right way to go.
    I see it as a chance to make all that incredibly rich and awesome “lost” content relevant once again.
    I always felt it was a tiny bit disheartening to see such well-designed dungeons that used to be the “crème de la crème” of past expansions, end up being skipped by most new players. I mean, new content should still be the main focus and the most rewarding, but if we can revive it in a way that it does justice to what that content once was and to the challenges that it used to represent, then I think it can come out as awesome fresh new experiences for new players and at the same time provide a much higher diversity of content at max level for everyone else.

    New content is great but “new” is such a fleeting thing… I think diversity is just as important as freshness. More available dungeons = less chance to get bored. We’ll see how this goes (if/when this comes out), but I’m sure I will enjoy it no matter what, can’t wait to run some of my favourite dungeons once again at max level, and there are so many of them!

    I also like the challenge of trying to solo older raids, but I guess that's just me.
    Please take this is with a grain of salt, but I believe the current idea would be to still preserve the option to run content at their originally designed level if the player wishes to. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    Patch 5.4 - Echo of Elements
    One of the complaints about Elemental Shamans has generally been directly linked to the procs coming from Echo of the Elements. Because of the recent change to Echo of the Elements on the PTR, you should not be too concerned for any minor increases to the damage of Lava Burst as it will no longer be chain-casted onto you in PvP. We do still appreciate any of the feedback that you have on the 5.4 PTR.

    You can see the change to Echo of Elements here:
    Echo of the Elements' spell duplication effect can no longer occur more than once every 4 seconds when used against hostile players, and their pets or guardians. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    25% Off Cinder Kitten Pet - This Week Only
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Every hero needs a sidekick to watch their six, and this ferocious kitty is up to the task. The Cinder Kitten is fierce and fiery, and your enemies will think twice about engaging you in a fight when this feline is at your side. Scoop this little guy up for 25% off this week only (sale ends September 3, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. PDT).

    Adopt now! (EU)

    Blizzard Art
    Blizzard has added more pieces to the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Art gallery.

    Last edited by chaud; 2013-08-29 at 08:49 AM.

  2. #2
    "There was a bug at the Mists of Pandaria launch that made it harder to interact with objects the longer you raided, which is something that the developers noticed during their own play time and were able to fix."

    What do they mean by that? The longer you raided the more difficult it became to interact with objects? What objects?

    Re: the player model concerns.. why not just give players an option.. use new model, or use old model. Simple surely? That way people who prefer the old can stick with the old and people who want a new model can switch to a new?

  3. #3
    God damn, I didn't realize how much is riding on these new models. Now I can understand why they are only 25% done. Blizzard is really rolling the dice here, but knowing them the new models will be well done.

  4. #4
    The Lightbringer Auxis's Avatar
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    That Hidden Thread's questline seems interesting.

    Curious-er is that it sends you into a raid. Perhaps a solo instance coming soon to deal with this traitor or follow the story in future questlines?

  5. #5
    not good with computers
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    Quote Originally Posted by Collected View Post
    "There was a bug at the Mists of Pandaria launch that made it harder to interact with objects the longer you raided, which is something that the developers noticed during their own play time and were able to fix."

    What do they mean by that? The longer you raided the more difficult it became to interact with objects? What objects?
    Things like the gems on Feng in MSV.

  6. #6
    Mechagnome Kobomino's Avatar
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    I wish Blizzard would just forget about the special snowflakes's feelings and release the new models already.

  7. #7
    Field Marshal Nitefyr's Avatar
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    Anyone notice a couple people missing in that scene? The Dwarf Council?

  8. #8
    Hidden Thread's quest line looks cool,

    @Chaud, yep I wasted weekly rolls on feng for that freaking OH

  9. #9
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."

    Didn't... didn't Runescape do it... 3 times?

    upgrading the whole engine technically counts as a model update... right?

  10. #10
    Herald of the Titans The Illusive Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by syteless View Post
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."

    Didn't... didn't Runescape do it... 3 times?

    upgrading the whole engine technically counts as a model update... right?
    I´d say so. This is just a lazy excuse of Blizz to somehow calm the players down because how could you expect new models of no other MMO did it successfully?

    So it takes them ages to create new models because Blizz fears the special snowflakes? Would you guys rather play as a misshaped Human or a good looking one? Ok it could happen that your favorite hairstyle is no longer available, so what? You then choose another one.

  11. #11
    the excuses to not make new models bullshit. Option A shitty old models Option B new improved models. That effin simple.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by The Illusive Man View Post
    I´d say so. This is just a lazy excuse of Blizz to somehow calm the players down because how could you expect new models of no other MMO did it successfully?

    So it takes them ages to create new models because Blizz fears the special snowflakes? Would you guys rather play as a misshaped Human or a good looking one? Ok it could happen that your favorite hairstyle is no longer available, so what? You then choose another one.
    I think the reason they're even entertaining it, is so they can keep saying they dont want to upset people to get the good guy award. Probably will never get released with the rate at which the subs are going :/

  12. #12
    Herald of the Titans The Illusive Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBogina View Post
    the excuses to not make new models bullshit. Option A shitty old models Option B new improved models. That effin simple.

    - - - Updated - - -



    I think the reason they're even entertaining it, is so they can keep saying they dont want to upset people to get the good guy award. Probably will never get released with the rate at which the subs are going :/
    In that recent interview they said that they are comparing the old models with the new ones all the time because they fear the player´s reactions on the new models.

    Why do they have that much fear? They could just implement a button that allows some stupid players to keep they're old models while everyone else gets fresh new ones but NO "We don´t want to upset our players ".

  13. #13
    Please buy this kitten, we worked so hard on it. "What's that? You don't feel like giving us any more money for pets? Ohhhhh."

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeBogina View Post
    the excuses to not make new models bullshit. Option A shitty old models Option B new improved models. That effin simple.

    - - - Updated - - -



    I think the reason they're even entertaining it, is so they can keep saying they dont want to upset people to get the good guy award. Probably will never get released with the rate at which the subs are going :/
    not to mention blizzard is full of bs when they say "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO.". Uhm... Everquest anyone? Really Blizz? You are going to try and pull that kind of BS excuse?

  15. #15
    Time travelly quest? Finally! Into black-out mode I go.

  16. #16
    The Patient gorocz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by syteless View Post
    "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO."

    Didn't... didn't Runescape do it... 3 times?

    upgrading the whole engine technically counts as a model update... right?
    Firstly, I think they meant one of the big MMOs. Despite Runescape being "the largest browser-based MMO in the world" and having around 537k paying customers, it really isn't in the same category as WoW.

    Secondy, - technically. RS has done this only once - from RSC to RS2. Armour model update is not a player model update (WoW has new models of armour too, they just don't update the older ones) and RS3 does not include any model update afaik, this is, I think, coming with the HTML5 version, which is still in Beta... Other engine updates, that Jagex so often mentions, are more along the line of what WoW does with every expansion... Also, they are keeping all the old versions, RSC is still running today, despite being updated 9 years ago, HTML5 client won't replace the Java client, they will coexist on the same live servers...

    Also you could argue if any of this was successful, because every time this is done, tons of people hate it. I, for example, despite not being "one of those", am still not used to the new armour models, despite it being already 1.5 years since they were updated. The difference between RS and WoW in this matter is that in WoW, you don't use the old armours, except for the graphics, while in RS, even high level players sometimes use lower level armour (e.g. Rune Plate, Guthan Full) because of its lower cost compared to the high end armour.
    Last edited by gorocz; 2013-08-29 at 09:51 AM.

  17. #17
    I guess it's the week of bullshit excuses. They're just cheap and lazy, nothing more. "We might have to do the item squish because database limitation". Whut?. "Upgrading player models has never been done successfully in an MMO." Double WHUT? Seriously, I'm getting disgusted with those people.

  18. #18
    Dreadlord Tarx's Avatar
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    I don't actualy believe they will improve currently characters models and environment they answer every time with the same way we don't want to delay the new content.

  19. #19
    Herald of the Titans The Illusive Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gorocz View Post
    Firstly, I think they meant one of the big MMOs. Despite Runescape being "the largest browser-based MMO in the world" and having around 537k paying customers, it really isn't in the same category as WoW.

    Secondy, - technically. RS has done this only once - from RSC to RS2. Armour model update is not a player model update (WoW has new models of armour too, they just don't update the older ones) and RS3 does not include any model update afaik, this is, I think, coming with the HTML5 version, which is still in Beta... Other engine updates, that Jagex so often mentions, are more along the line of what WoW does with every expansion... Also, they are keeping all the old versions, RSC is still running today, despite being updated 9 years ago, HTML5 client won't replace the Java client, they will coexist on the same live servers...

    Also you could argue if any of this was successful, because every time this is done, tons of people hate it. I, for example, despite not being "one of those", am still not used to the new armour models, despite it being already 1.5 years since they were updated. The difference between RS and WoW in this matter is that in WoW, you don't use the old armours, except for the graphics, while in RS, even high level players sometimes use lower level armour (e.g. Rune Plate, Guthan Full) because of its lower cost compared to the high end armour.
    They said "Updating player models has never been done successfully in an MMO" which means that they clearly refer to any MMO and not just big ones like WoW.

    This is just BS and they know it. If you are a Blizz official and tell the media that no other MMO has ever successfully updated its models then you are clearly stupid.

  20. #20
    Mechagnome Zephre's Avatar
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    Wish they'd stop making excuses about the new models we've heard it for years. Back in TBC it was " they're to expensive " and ever since it's been " We want to do it for the fans " if they spent as much time on the models as they do making excuses we'd have them by now.

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