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by Published on 2018-06-16 07:36 PM

Patch 8.0 PTR - Artifact Retirement Questline
The pre-expansion patch on the PTR has updated to include the quest chain that leads to our Artifact Weapons becoming inactive as we head into Battle for Azeroth.

Spoilers: When you log into the PTR, you are given the quest The Speaker's Call which has you travel to Silithus and talk to the flight master of your respective faction's hub in order to get a ride up to your faction's gunship. Magni is on board with a select number of influential Legion NPCs (based on your faction) who also have Artifact weapons.

Upon turn in, you will receive the quest The Power in Our Hands which requires you to speak to Magni to initiate a cutscene in which you and the other NPCs use your Artifact Weapons to drain the energy from Sargeras's sword and stabilize the wound.

Completing these quests will still allow you to use your Artifact Weapon, but all traits and abilities attached to it will become disabled, including those from the Netherlight Crucible and your relics. Relics can still be slotted into the weapon, but all they do is increase the item level of the weapon. Currently Artifact weapons are disabled upon login to the PTR, so you can't just avoid doing the quest to keep your traits.

by Published on 2018-06-15 07:27 PM

Dev Watercooler: World of Warcraft Classic
Blizzard just released a blog post to discuss updates on Classic WoW.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Greetings! Development of World of Warcraft Classic is underway, and we’re very excited to share some of the challenges and solutions we’re working on. As we mentioned last BlizzCon, the process of restoring the classic game is not straightforward, and it’s important to us to take the time and effort to get it right—this includes poring over numerous game versions, data, and code; meticulously scrutinizing all the changes we’ve made over the years. Rest assured: The WoW Classic team is hard at work making it a reality, and we’re at a point in development where we’re ready to share some of the things we’ve been working on.

WoW Classic: First Prototype

The first—and among the most important—decision we had to make was which version of the game to focus on. As many of you have noted, the classic period was two years long and full of changes. Core features like Battlegrounds were introduced in patches after WoW’s original launch, and class design similarly changed over time. After careful consideration, we decided on Patch 1.12: Drums of War as our foundation, because it represents the most complete version of the classic experience.

Once we had our starting point, we began taking stock of what we had in the source code and what we could make available, which included restoring the original development database from archival backups. After stitching various key pieces together, we had a locally rebuilt version of Patch 1.12 running internally. The team could create characters and do basic questing and leveling—and dying, which we did many times. For testing purposes. Obviously.

Our initial runs exposed a few (expected) issues: the game sometimes crashed, didn’t recognize our modern video cards, and was incompatible with our current login system. That first pass also couldn’t support any of our modern security and anti-cheating capabilities. Clearly we had a lot of work to do to make WoW Classic live up to the Blizzard standard of quality, and deliver the experience players want.

The Path Forward: Second Prototype

Speaking of engineering, World of Warcraft is a very data-driven game, which means the basic code is flexible and the specific way it behaves is controlled by information contained in databases. Things like quests, monsters, items, and the rules for how these all interact are defined by the designers and artists in data.

So we asked ourselves, would it still be possible to deliver an authentic classic experience if we took our modern code, with all its back-end improvements and changes, and used it to process the Patch 1.12 game data? While that might seem counterintuitive, this would inherently include classic systems like skill ranks, old quests and terrain, talents, and so on, while later features like Transmog and Achievements would effectively not exist because they were entirely absent from the data. After weeks of R&D, experimentation, and prototyping, we were confident we could deliver the classic WoW content and gameplay without sacrificing the literally millions of hours put in to back-end development over the past 13 years.

While our initial effort helped us determine the experience we wanted to provide, this second prototype really defined how we’d get there. Starting from a modern architecture—with all its security and stability changes—means the team’s efforts can be focused on pursuing an authentic classic experience. Any differences in behavior between our development builds and the patch 1.12 reference can be systematically cataloged and corrected, while still operating from a foundation that’s stable and secure.

Digging In

So what does it take to recreate an authentic classic experience with modern engineering? Let’s start by categorizing the different types of game data that make up WoW:

  • Table data: This kind of information is almost always represented as numbers. How many hit points a creature has, the amount of Strength an item grants, or where and when certain creatures spawn, are all examples of the numerical data we store in our databases. We can also store and enforce relationships between different pieces of data.
  • File data: This is often very dense data like 3D models, textures, animations and terrain. Our user interface is built up from XML and Lua files. Many of the art files do not use the same file formats that commercial art tools spit out. Our build pipeline takes these raw art files and translates them into something optimized for our game to read and process.
  • Lua scripts: Some features are driven by Lua scripts written by designers, allowing them to easily define custom behaviors for server-side logic without requiring deep engineering knowledge.

How Engineering Has Changed

One challenge we face is that all the classic data is in the original format used at launch, but that format has changed substantially in the intervening years. Major work needs to be done in this area to make the modern client compatible with the classic data.

For example, spells could originally only perform three actions on the spell’s target. In table form, that looked something like this:

As you can see, there is a lot of space taken up by ‘Nothing’. Over the course of WoW’s lifetime, we’ve improved our data design and normalized much of our database data. Today, that same data would be separated out like this:

In this form, there is much less wasted space and spells are no longer limited to three effects. But before we can load any database data, we need to transform the old data layout into the new one. This is not limited to spells, as almost every game system (including items, creatures, player characters, spawning, AI, and more) has had its database layout altered over the years.

Looking Ahead

All the work we’re doing will ultimately allow us to recreate an authentic classic experience on a platform that is much more optimized and stable, helping us avoid latency and stability issues. Additional modern improvements will include modern anti-cheat/botting detection, customer service and integration, and similar conveniences that do not affect the core gameplay experience.

We are looking forward to the challenges ahead and share your passion for the classic game; every code check-in data conversion we make brings WoW Classic closer to providing that authentic experience you—and we—want. Thanks for joining us on this journey.
by Published on 2018-06-15 12:23 AM

World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth Main Title Music "Before the Storm"
Composed and arranged by Glenn Stafford, with additional music by Neal Acree, Sam Cardon, Clint Bajakian, David Arkenstone, and includes classic World of Warcraft themes by Jason Hayes.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
With every expansion, our musical mages reach deep down into their souls and summon a tableau of sound to accompany your next adventure. Building upon a variety of musical themes from World of Warcraft over the years, composer Glenn Stafford has infused his magic into the new main title for Battle for Azeroth, “Before the Storm.” Sit back, relax, and let the music carry you into the heart of Azeroth.
by Published on 2018-06-14 05:45 PM

Developer Q&A with Ion Hazzikostas - Battle for Azeroth
Ion answered World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth beta questions today!

Patch 8.0 PTR
  • The pre-expansion patch is going live on the PTR right now!
  • Everything but Battle for Azeroth content or content specific systems will be in the pre-expansion patch, just like always.
  • An exact release date will be announced closer to release.

Allied Races
  • Blood Trolls aren't an Allied Race, someone misspoke in an interview.
  • We could see more Allied Races in the future, but they aren't necessarily required for each expansion.

Patch Cycle
  • The patch cycle in Battle for Azeroth will be similar to Legion. Alternating large and small patches.

  • You will be able to unlock flying later in Battle for Azeroth.
  • The achievement had a display bug on beta, you will only need to complete requirements on one faction.
  • The team is wary of devaluing the effort that goes into earning Pathfinder if they were to remove it right away.
  • Leveling through Draenor was designed to be done on the ground, so you don't need flying to level there today.

Class Changes
  • The window for any major spec changes is rapidly closing. An example of major changes is Fury Warrior or Balance Druid changes recently, major overhauls of a rotation or spells.
  • A few more abilities are coming off the GCD in the next beta build.
  • The team doesn't want to make major changes that won't have time for feedback this close to release.
  • The focus needs to shift to basic balance and tuning changes for launch.
  • Feel, pacing, complexity and other rotation feedback is ongoing, but soon the target will shift to changes being put in Patch 8.1.
  • Enhancement Shaman, Elemental Shaman, Shadow Priest have been talked about recently.
  • It's frustrating, but any more major changes will probably have to wait for a patch.
  • Balance and Tuning changes can still completely change your rotation, so major changes can happen as a result of balance and tuning.
  • Changes will be mostly numerical from here to release.
  • The BlizzCon build with class buffs was an experiment that the team has pulled back from a bit.
  • The team wants to make sure there is a reason for all of the classes to feel special. Everyone getting some passive throughput buff isn't a great solution, no one really feels special.
  • The team looked at the overall utility package of classes and where it made sense to bolster that package by bringing back some of the old buffs.
  • Druids have pretty great utility, between Battle Res, Innervate, control talents, and more, they already have enough utility. Adding Mark of the Wild on top of all of this seemed excessive.
  • Balance and tuning is mostly focused on BfA content. The team doesn't want old content to be significantly harder or things to be significantly broken.

War Mode
  • War Mode and the new Honor Talent system will be available as part of the pre-expansion patch.
  • There will be some War Mode specific events as part of the pre-expansion patch.
  • If you are on an RP server and turn on War Mode, you will see players from your server in the world. You can still see people from different realms if someone from your realm invites them to a group.
  • Patch 8.0 changes realms to Normal and RP only, there is no more PvP and PvE server.

Mythic Raids
  • There is a lot of value in preserving what remains of server and guild identity.
  • The team wants to look at potentially unlocking Mythic cross-realm earlier in the raid release cycle.
  • There are some new achievements in Battle for Azeroth, Hall of Fame
  • The top 100 guilds of each faction in the world will get the Hall of Fame achievement.
  • There will be a web leaderboard for the top 100 guilds.
  • Once the top 100 Horde and Alliance guilds have earned a Hall of Fame achievement, Mythic will unlock cross-realm.

  • Artifact Traits will go away with Patch 8.0, as the weapons are retired.
  • You will keep the Artifact weapon and relics, which will still increase the item level.
  • Artifact transmog will remain spec specific in Battle for Azeroth.

  • It is intended that you aren't able to swap gear while inside Mythic+ dungeons.
  • People would love to change gear and talents during the middle of raid encounters, but you can't do that. The same idea applies to Mythic+ dungeons. You will have to pick one set of gear and talents for the entire dungeon, as it is one encounter.
  • The vast majority of most Mythic+ players aren't swapping gear right now.
  • The game will be balanced around not being able to swap gear. Mythic+ dungeons shouldn't be any harder as a result of this, and if the dungeons are harder the team will do tuning to fix it.
  • There isn't a huge set of changes coming to Affixes compared to the ones in Legion.
  • Tyrannical and Fortified are available from the start of Mythic+. You'll either have tougher bosses or tougher trash. This gets rid of the big jump in difficulty from 9 to 10.
  • There will be a seasonal Affix and for Season 1 it is Infested. Makes units more dangerous, resistant to CC. When the target is damaged, the parasite jumps out of the target and makes its way to another NPC, giving you a chance to kill it.
  • The seasonal affix will be retired at the end of a season and a new one will be added.
  • Mythic 10 will yield the best possible loot once everything is unlocked, Heroic Uldir items from runs, Mythic Uldir from the weekly chest. This model worked well in Legion, so no reason to change it.
  • The power of Azerite effects is proportional to the item level of the item with the effect.
  • The team wants a large item level jump to make it clear that the item is better for you and you should equip it without having to sim things.
  • Once you get past blue quality loot from dungeons, all of the Azerite Armor sources are gated by something. Raids, chests, and PvP all have some kind of weekly gating. You won't need to spam run Mythic+ forever to try and get specific Azerite armor.
  • Mythic (non plus) dungeons will work like they did in Legion. The first 3 weeks only have Mythic dungeons, with a lower ceiling on the Warforged / Titanforged cap. Once Normal and Heroic raids open, the cap will be raised a bit, but not to Mythic Raid quality. After Mythic raids open, the cap will be raised to Mythic.

Heart of Azeroth
  • The catch-up mechanism for Heart of Azeroth is similar to Legion, but reduces the cost instead of increasing the amount of Artifact Power you earn. You'll see a 25-30% reduction in the cost that unlocking the next Heart of Azeroth level if you don't play for a week. Legion Artifact Power numbers got far too large.

  • The team wants to complement the random end of match rewards with more deterministic rewards.
  • With gear mattering once again in PvP, the team wants to give people a reliable path to the gear they want.
  • At the end of a match, you'll have a chance to get an item. The quality of the reward is based on your PvP Tier.
  • You'll earn Conquest points, filling a bar on the UI, reward is a raid quality piece of armor or weapon. Week 1 is a Raid Finder quality weapon.
  • The gear cycle repeats again with higher quality loot.
  • If you are behind, there is a catch-up system in place.
  • If you invest time in PvP, you will get a full set of PvP gear over the season, regardless of your rating.
  • When you fill up the Conquest bar for the week, you get a reward from a chest. One reward per week, proportional to your rating and ranking, based on your highest one.
  • PvP seasons will be a little bit longer than Legion. Rewards systems should parallel each other, so it's cleaner if PvP and PvE reward systems are moving in parallel.
  • In Legion, the team tried to fit 2 seasons into the time of a raid tier, so the first season in each pair had gear that felt weak.
  • The team wants to announce and end PvP seasons with more warning, without them being tied to a patch or content release. There will be a post-season where you can still earn the rewards like the end of match random loot, including during the pre-expansion Patch 8.0.

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