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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.

  • 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.

This article was originally published in forum thread: Visions of Time: Hidden Threads, Dev Interviews, Blue Posts, Cinder Kitten Sale, Art started by chaud View original post
Comments 92 Comments
  1. moonripper's Avatar
    I totally understand where blizz is coming from about player models. I'm a huge fan of the orcs, but if the new models suck? or even if blizz takes the new models in a different direction from what I feel like orcs should look like, that would ruin almost everyone of my characters for me. This isn't about being a special snowflake, I'd like to think I'm the exact opposite of a special snowflake, it's about not wanting to ruin characters that people have become connected too.
  1. Wayne25uk's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Mukki View Post
    People like you are the reason we're stuck with gross 2004 models.
    And people like you are the reason the games industrys dont want to make games anymore because of your whiny piss ant nature and wanting everything for nothing culture. I bet your the type that goes "YEAH XBOX HD GRAPHICS YEAH FUCK GAMEPLAY!!!" when a normal person would play a Wii game with shit visuals but great gameplay.

    Get a life dude its only a bunch of pixels...
  1. F-Minus's Avatar
    What keeps them from keeping the old models and adding new ones, and let the player decide which model he wants to use. Considering all the gear will still have to fit, there is no point going into semantics. If an xy player would like the old models, I don't mind that he sees me as an old tauren model instead of the new one I'm using, all I care about is how I see the game, not how others see it. Cosmetics and e-pening is done through gear and transmogs, not models.

    Just bring them out, and give players the option to chose, considering they give the same answer every few months, the time will never be for them to release them.
  1. Kazuchika's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Zephre View Post
    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.
    "It's okay that I have nothing to do in game because at least my human doesn't cast spells like he has a broom up his ass!"

    Yeah no.

    Also the people who are surprised by the backlash they alluded to must not ever read anything on the forums. Ever. People will complain about ANYTHING in this game.
  1. xinjun's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by DeathbyFrostBomb73 View Post
    Someone should just make a thread that says
    "I Will Hate Everything New Blizzard Does To WOW"
    From the comments on here, I'd say this is such a thread.

    Seriously, why the developers even attempt to please any of you is beyond me. It's a good game and it's well done and a lot of people worked hard on it and I appreciate it.
  1. Faroth's Avatar
    I disagree on models having never been successfully updated. EverQuest did it just fine, perfect in fact.

    Shadows of Luclin came out, character models were updated. Don't like it? No problem!
    Open the options, go to the right interface and just click the checkbox....per race.

    So players could have updated humans and elves with original model trolls and ogres if they wished. They could have all new, all old, or any mix of the two they wanted. And that's what they'd see for ALL models of that race.

    Promotional art and screenshots showed the new ones, of course, but if a player particularly disliked it the OPTION was there to use the old ones and it worked quite well. It also allowed players on older computers to turn them all off to use original models and lower the performance demand on their PC.
  1. Unholyground's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by moonripper View Post
    I totally understand where blizz is coming from about player models. I'm a huge fan of the orcs, but if the new models suck? or even if blizz takes the new models in a different direction from what I feel like orcs should look like, that would ruin almost everyone of my characters for me. This isn't about being a special snowflake, I'd like to think I'm the exact opposite of a special snowflake, it's about not wanting to ruin characters that people have become connected too.
    Did you see the new Garrosh model? that is what they will look like but green.

  1. ThirdWizard's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by F-Minus View Post
    What keeps them from keeping the old models and adding new ones, and let the player decide which model he wants to use.
    What happens when Tier 23 comes out and the old troll models have helm clipping issues, and the old human, blood elve, and worgen models all have their shoulders sitting two feet above their bodies? How many resources do they need to put into fixing that? If most people use the new models, do they just leave the old models broken? And speaking of that, how much dev time should they put into QA for both old and new models wearing all the various equipment in each expansion/tier? In three more years, they'll have to spend double the amount of time developing and testing equipment to make sure the the old models wear everything correctly, even though a small minority would still be using them. That's resources that could be spent working on a new dungeon or raid.
  1. Nullpointer's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Nerraw View Post
    You should read up on 32bit and 64bit integers and realize what actually happens when you're forced to go from one to the other. Hint: The impact has to do with resource usage.
    So the numbers in the next expansion will rise so dramatically that they will require a transition from 32 bit to 64 bit? That is the part I don't get. Actually the blue post that concerned the item squish had no information in it other than "approaching a database limitation", so it is hard to really understand the problem and it very much seems like a lame excuse.
  1. NMX-'s Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Baalb View Post
    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.
    1) Item squish is more work than not doing the item squish. They have to go back to all the old raid content and items from TBC -> MoP and balance them all down. This is not an easy "lets just do 60% across the board" fix. Because it takes so much time and resources to do this, I''m not sure how you are interpreting this as "cheap and lazy".

    2) I want to say (this I will admit I'm not 100% sure) that they:

    a) are really just looking at their main recent MMO competitions, such as Aion, SWTOR, guild wars 2, rift, etc, whenever it comes to "successfully in an mmo" and

    b) They have mentioned time and time again that they are making these changes very, very, very carefully to not turn-off any of the community as much as possible. That's not lazy/cheap. Let's say they have already done 20-30 different models for humans, each one a tad better than the previous. Until they get the model right, the rest of the animations will have to wait, which is more future work. To you their process might look like "ok I like this new model, let's choose this model." but it's not as simple as that.

    c) Their definition of success might be different than what we think. Just changing the models isn't a success. Maybe changing them all with minimal complaints and ppl threatening to leave the game if they dont change back is a bit more successful, don't you think? And what about this: What if they did just the perfect job on these models so that this makes players want to come back to WoW that have been gone for a long time? Isn't that even a bigger success than the previous 2 examples of "success"
  1. prwraith's Avatar
    I love how they said upgrading player models has never been successfully done in an MMO.

    Everquest 1 Luclin models say hi you morons.
  1. Blur4stuff's Avatar
    It's funny you mention everquest. I hated those models. Many people I played with hated them too. When I first read the interview I immediately agreed with him and thought about how terrible EQ1 did it.

    If they make dramatic changes to WoW models I'm sure some would be okay with it. They might even like it more. But, we should all know that it could potentially cause many thousands of players to be upset and even cause them to quit. This may seem ridiculous, but it will happen.
  1. Jixson's Avatar
    Any chance someone could explain to me why my system can run most games, including Skyrim at alright graphics setting at 30 fps, and I have to make my WoW setting into the toilet to get to 20 fps?

    Come on Bliz. I shouldn't be playing with garbage graphics, or 14 fps when I can play newer gamers at much higher settings, with MUCH higher fps.
  1. Gazlow's Avatar
    They all die and the world will be ruled by High Kind MekkaXY , Prophet Velen and the Dwarf Council !
  1. kejer's Avatar
    Am I the only one here who REALLY REALLY REALLY like the all-dead timeway? Seriously, wow needs a fresh restart. Let Garrosh kill them all and the next two expansions will center around new heroes and fresh new stories. Too bad it will never happen...
  1. Destructus's Avatar
    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.
    I think they need to make the graphics engine less cpu bound and put more of the load on the video card before they worry about upping graphics quality. Not even a supercomputer can run the game at 60 fps with all options at max because of how their engine works and the fact that the game can't even utilize more than 2 cpu cores. Sorry AMD cpu users
  1. Tenjen's Avatar
    i love seeing the design sketches
  1. Avallon's Avatar
    Anyone notice that High Tinker Mechatorque and Trade Prince Gallywix aren't impaled on the spikes?
  1. McNeil's Avatar
    The impaled models look really awkward. They are basically their /roar models, just freezed up
  1. Goremonger's Avatar
    People won't get attached to the older models if they don't change their face. If you have had the same look on your character since you started, it would only made sense if you kept the same face. When you are making the new models update every one of the old faces, and add some new ones obviously.

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