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by Published on 2021-10-27 11:15 PM

Season of Mastery Beta Updates - October 27, 2021
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The Season of Mastery Beta is back online following maintenance and includes the following updates.

Week 4 of open Beta (October 27)

  • Many groups of Guard NPCs that were removed from Alterac Valley in patch 1.11 have been restored for Season of Mastery.
  • The denizens of Blackrock Depths have grown more leery of criminal activity and will now attempt to stash their most valuable items away if they suspect that a thief is in their midst.
  • Many adjustments have been made to the raid encounters in Molten Core and Onyxia’s Lair.
  • The PvP honor system has been adjusted to accelerate the rate at which players rank up.
    • Developers’ notes: Each week, the Honor system keeps track of players’ PvP participation, and at the end of the week, player-characters with at least 15 honorable kills are sorted by PvP participation. Once sorted, the system decides how many points to award that week, and the sorting is independent of the character’s current PvP rank. The system then awards a calculated number of expected points, and the calculation uses the character’s current PvP ranking points. This can be simplified to: (this_week’s_expected_points - current_ranking_points) * rate_factor. The result is then added to the character’s current_ranking_points, so each week, every player-character approaches their deserved rank. In Classic Era, the rate_factor (i.e. the percentage of the previous week’s expected points that will be awarded) is 20%. In Season of Mastery, we are increasing that rate to 40% to match the faster pace of content.

Please join us starting tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. PDT (5:00 p.m. EDT) for another round of raid testing. Molten Core and Onyxia’s Lair will be open for 24 hours.

Thank you!
by Published on 2021-10-27 05:49 PM

Shadowlands: An Inside Look at the Character Creation UI Redesign
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The release of Shadowlands provided a new opportunity to streamline and redesign the character creation process. Go behind-the-scenes with Senior UI Designer Jeff Liu to learn more about the thought processes behind it.

Greetings, denizens of Azeroth! My name is Jeff Liu, and I’m a Senior UI Designer on the World of Warcraft User Interface Team. I’m here to share some insights into the Character Creation redesign that launched with Shadowlands. With all the great new customization options that have been introduced recently, we thought this was a great time to pull back the curtain and show off a bit more of the behind-the-scenes design choices we’ve made to the user interface (UI).

I previously worked on the Transmogrification System and Auction House redesigns. Revamping old UIs is by far my favorite type of project, so I was incredibly excited to redesign the Character Creation screen.

This was part of the New Player Experience initiative, which included Exile’s Reach, the new player starting zone. Character Creation is the first screen a new player interacts with, so we wanted to modernize it to make a good first impression. The character art team was also in the process of adding lots of new customization options for Shadowlands, so the timing for the UI update was perfect.

The New Layout
For reference, this is what the old Character Creation screen looked like:

One of the first things we tried was splitting up the class and race selection screens. You would choose your class on the first screen, and your race on the second:

In this example, if you want to play a Night Elf, you’d have to go back to the previous screen, pick a different class, and then keep going back-and-forth between screens to see all your options.

Yeah, it was pretty awkward.

This didn’t work out, so we nearly ended up keeping the old layout and simply updating the art. During a last-minute brainstorm, my fellow UI Designers, Crash Reed and Ray Ocampo pitched a concept where the races were split into opposite sides:

One highlight of this layout is how the face-off between the Horde and Alliance instantly communicates the faction war. We loved the simplicity and freshness of this design, so it was full steam ahead!

Go With Your Gut
With a new layout in our pocket, I reevaluated the amount of information presented to players on this screen. The old Character Creation screen featured a lot of information in the form of text descriptions:

The harm of presenting too much information (even if it’s useful) is that it can prevent someone from making an otherwise simple choice.

We designed the new Character Creation screen to help new players avoid what’s known as analysis paralysis. We cut down a lot of text and relied on visuals and sound to explain the races and classes. We’d rather show you a mage casting a fireball than describe it to you.

Most new players will already be familiar with these fantasy archetypes through pop culture. It’s commonly understood that a warrior wields a sword, wears relatively heavy armor, and fights in melee range.

We sorted the classes in an order that would help new players quickly identify a class they’d understand:

The first three are the strongest, most understood archetypes. The next three are slightly less strong. For example, someone who’s never played a video game might not know what a Priest does. After that are the hybrid classes, which are more complex.

It’s important to note that this design choice wasn’t about how hard each class is to play, but rather how easy it is to understand the concepts behind what the class is and what they do without the need for additional explanation.

Races are largely an aesthetic choice. We didn’t want new players to worry about racial abilities, so we hid them by default:

For us, it’s ok that a new player doesn’t create their “forever character” on the first go. They’ll learn much more about the races and classes by playing the game than we could ever explain on the Character Creation screen.

All we want new players to do is pick the coolest looking race, pick a favorite class archetype, and go!

Show, Don’t Tell
Now that we removed all that text, we set out to create new animations that could really sell the class fantasy.

We began by exploring how elaborate the animations should be. We were especially mindful about the duration, as we didn’t want it to drag on for too long.

Here were the first mockups created by Lead Animator Ian Lang:

Side note: the last clip shows an early concept we tried of a large, cloth background and your character standing on a pedestal. Here’s another mockup of that:

After we decided on a direction, the animation team created a sequence for each class, working with the FX team to select the right special effects to accompany the shown abilities. When that was completed, a sound designer hooked up sounds to all the animations.

I think you’ll agree that the animation, FX, and sound teams did an amazing job making these classes feel heroic. The animations turned out to be one of the biggest highlights of the new Character Creation screen.

Stay Focused
One of our major goals was to have your attention focused on the character model in the middle of the screen. We wanted it to feel like you were designing a superhero. This philosophy guided us on many of the decisions we made in designing this screen.

Instead of the traditional WoW UI art style, we went with a more minimalist aesthetic. We removed elaborate art pieces on the sides, like the old faction banners, as they were too visually distracting and took focus away from your character.

We placed a large shadow on the edge of the screen to give the character a spotlight effect, effectively creating a vignette.

We also positioned the UI elements to draw your eyes toward where we want you to look.

Finally, we blur the background when the camera zooms in during customization mode. This makes the character pop and helps you focus on your character’s features.

New Players
New players see a different version of Character Creation than veteran players do. I wanted to curate a simpler, cleaner experience for them.

For example, only the core races are shown, and their names are labeled under the portraits.

Then there are some subtler differences.

The first character you’ll see as a veteran player is an entirely random race/class combo. For new players, the first character they see will always be a Human or Orc Warrior (of a random gender). This goes back to the idea of easing new players into the game by showing them something more relatable.

Characters are also randomized a bit differently for new players. Since this might be their first introduction to the Warcraft universe, I felt it was crucial for each race to read well visually. For this reason, we disabled options that obscure the face – such as tattoos, war paint, and headdresses – when the character is randomly generated.

But don’t worry, once the player goes into customization mode, they’re free to choose those options.

Lastly, new players see a tip on the customization screen:

One takeaway we got from user testing was that some new players had anxiety around finalizing their character. It makes sense, right? If you assume this is your last chance to customize your character, you’re going to take your time to make sure it’s perfect. This tip lets them proceed with confidence and get into the game faster.

Character Customization
Speaking of Character Customization, let’s look at some of the early mockups for that screen. You can see how the design evolved from the old layout:

At one point, I experimented with a more free-form layout where the options weren’t contained inside a box:

We disliked how cluttered this looked but liked the openness of it, so I combined it with some of the earlier ideas where we grouped the options into categories:

Now we’re getting close to the final layout!

The Option Selector
You’ll notice that the options in the last mockup are controlled by sliders. This UI control went through many iterations during development.

The old layout featured large preview portraits on the right. If you look at these examples, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the different face options:

They’re also not very scalable and counter to our goal of focusing on your character in the middle.

So we set out to find a UI control that could replace the portraits.

I didn’t want to use a mix of different controls (like checkboxes, buttons, and color pickers), as I felt it would make the screen look cluttered and overwhelming. I wanted to use a single control that could work for all option types.

However, the most important goal was enabling you to jump between any two options quickly so that you could easily compare them.

The first few iterations didn’t satisfy that requirement, and it was a hassle to navigate between options that were far apart.

Sliders made it possible to jump around quickly, but not precisely. Sliders are also typically used to move between two extremes (like short and tall), which wasn’t the case for most of these options.

In the end, I came up with a multi-column dropdown that satisfied every goal we had:

  • It lets you jump quickly between any two options.
  • It lets you see all the options at the same time.
  • It’s a single, versatile UI control that can be used for both names and colors. In some cases, we even mix the two types in the same dropdown.
  • Your focus is kept on your character in the middle.
  • And perhaps the coolest part: it lets you preview options in real-time just by mousing over them.

Side note: I’m a huge Overwatch fan. How many Overwatch references can you find in the option names?

The Category Icons
All of the customization options are contained in one of three categories. Here’s how the categories and their icons evolved:

I originally planned for five categories, but that changed after I tested it in-game.

I felt it was clunky for hair options to be in the second category, since changing your hairstyle is typically one of the first things you do. So I moved them into the first category with the face options.

Most races don’t have many body and tattoo options, so I combined those two categories as well. And that’s how we ended up with the final three.

You might remember that the barbershop used to have a completely different UI from the Character Creation screen. With the redesign, it made a lot of sense for us to use it in both places.

Some barbershops used to be inconveniently dark because the lighting was based on the environment around it. This also made the perception of colors inaccurate in some cases. A green might look yellow, for example.

The art team solved this problem by applying a completely neutral light around your character when you activate the barbershop chair. Now the lighting is both bright and color accurate.

A new feature of the barbershop is that you can change your character’s gender. Here’s a video of the very first gender swap, recorded by the engineer who implemented it.

There were many visual bugs we had to iron out over the course of this project:

You can thank the QA team for saving you from this nightmare fuel!

Until Next Time
The Character Creation revamp was a huge collaborative effort involving character artists, animators, producers, test analysts, sound designers, user researchers, and engineers (read their previously published article here!). We hope to have built a flexible, modern UI that will facilitate the creation of millions of characters in the years to come.

I hope you enjoyed this inside look at how we redesigned the Character Creation screen. Thanks for reading!

Jeff Liu
Senior UI Designer, World of Warcraft
by Published on 2021-10-26 06:17 PM

BlizzConline 2022 Event Cancelled - Reimagining Future BlizzCons
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
To the Blizzard community,

We’ve decided to take a step back and pause on planning the previously announced BlizzConline event scheduled for early next year. This was a tough decision for all of us to make, but it’s the right one.

Any BlizzCon event takes every single one of us to make happen, an entire-company effort, fueled by our desire to share what we create with the community we care about so much. At this time, we feel the energy it would take to put on a show like this is best directed towards supporting our teams and progressing development of our games and experiences.

Additionally, we would also like to take the time to reimagine what a BlizzCon event of the future could look like. The first BlizzCon was held 16 years ago, and so much has changed in the time since—most notably, the multiple ways in which players and communities can come together and feel like they are a part of something bigger. Whatever the event looks like in the future, we also need to ensure that it feels as safe, welcoming, and inclusive as possible. We’re committed to continual communication with our players, and we see BlizzCon playing a big role in that going forward. We’re excited about what we’ll do with the event when we revisit it in the future.

One more thing we wanted to make clear: even though we aren’t holding BlizzConline in February, we’ll still be making announcements and updates for our games. We’re proud of our teams and the progress they’ve made across our games. We have a lot of exciting upcoming news and releases to share with you.You’ll continue hearing about those through our franchise channels, with the talented people on the BlizzCon team playing a part in supporting these efforts.

We’ll miss seeing you, but don’t worry. We’ll be back together soon.
by Published on 2021-10-26 12:22 AM

PTR 9.1.5 Development Notes - October 25, 2021
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

  • Phial of Serenity (Kyrian Ability) and healing potions no longer reset the melee swing timer.
  • Death Knight
    • Fixed an issue that prevented Shackle the Unworthy (Kyrian Ability) from spreading to enemies behind the Death Knight.
    • Unholy
      • Unholy Assault’s (Talent) global cooldown (GCD) is now correctly reduced by Haste.
  • Demon Hunter
    • The Hunt’s (Night Fae Ability) effect can now be removed with player immunities.
    • Fixed an issue that prevented the Lost in Darkness (Conduit) from improving with higher conduit ranks.
    • Havoc
      • Dancing with Fate (Conduit) damage effect increased by 300% (down from 650%).
      • Fixed an issue where the Dancing with Fate conduit did not increase the damage of the final slash from Death Sweep.
    • Vengeance
      • The Demon summoned from Fodder to the Flame (Necrolord Ability) no longer scales off the 50% maximum health increase from Metamorphosis.
  • Druid
    • Fixed an issue where the Well Fed effect from Born Anew (Conduit) was not increased with the Epicurean racial ability when casting Rebirth on a Pandaren.
  • Hunter
    • Binding Shot (Talent) root effect can now break upon receiving enough damage. Damage threshold to break is higher than other roots.
      • Developers’ note: We recognize that Binding Shot has become part of a Hunter’s utility package and want it to remain a powerful root that has a lower chance to break on damage than other effects.
    • Freezing Trap now removes active Murder of Crows debuffs on the target when it is applied.
    • Beast Mastery
      • Bestial Wrath’s tooltip has been updated to better match its functionality. No functional change has been made to Bestial Wrath.
    • Marksmanship
      • Fixed an issue that caused Marksman’s Advantage (Conduit) to remove stealth from targets when Hunter’s Mark was cast.
      • Fixed an issue that caused a player’s Marksman’s Advantage (Conduit) to be removed from targets when another Hunter applied Hunter’s Mark with the Marksman’s Advantage conduit.
    • Survival
      • Fixed an issue that caused Coordinated Assault to require line-of-sight to your Hunter pet.
  • Mage
    • Frost
      • Icicles damage increased by 12%.
      • Frostbolt damage increased damage by 8%.
      • Flurry damage increased damage by 10%.
  • Monk
    • Mistweaver
      • Fixed an issue where Expel Harm would heal the caster twice when used while channeling Soothing Mist on themselves.
      • Fixed an issue that prevented Resplendent Mists (Conduit) from increasing the healing of Bonedust Brew’s Gust of Mists.
    • Windwalker
      • Keefer’s Skyreach (Runecarving Power) now properly increases the critical strike chance of Bonedust Brew (Necrolord Ability).
  • Paladin
    • Holy
      • Fixed an issue where Bestow Faith (Talent) would reset the melee swing timer when cast.
  • Rogue
    • Fixed an issue that prevented Shadow Blades gained from Toxic Onslaught (Runecarving) to not affect certain off-spec abilities.
    • Subtlety
      • Fixed an issue where Flagellation (Venthyr Ability) would always critically strike with Symbols of Death.
  • Warlock
    • Decaying Soul Satchel (Night Fae Runecarving Power) no longer generates stacks when targeting enemies that are immune to its damage.
  • Warrior
    • Fury
      • Auto attack damage has been increased by 43%.


  • Soulbinds
    • Venthyr
      • Battlefield Presence (General Draven) no longer counts nearby Stealth enemies.

Player versus Player

  • The following toys can no longer be used in battlegrounds and arenas:
  • The incapacitate from the Pandaren racial ability Quaking Palm now breaks to absorbed damage.
  • Druid
    • Thorns (PvP Talent) can no longer reflect damage to enemies more than 10 yards away.
    • Restoration
      • Floral Recycling’s (Conduit) healing bonus to Swiftmend is reduced by 50% in PvP combat.
  • Hunter
    • Fixed an issue where Hunters could capture flags in Battlegrounds while under the effects of Feign Death.
    • Beast Mastery
      • Fixed an issue where Burrow Attack’s (Exotic Ability) cooldown was unintentionally reduced by Kindred Beasts (PvP Talent).
  • Mage
    • Fixed an issue where Mana Gem could not be used in rated battlegrounds and rated arenas.
    • Fire
      • Fixed an issue where a Mage’s Ignite that was spread by Phoenix Flames could hit a Rogue while under the effect of Cloak of Shadows.
  • Paladin
    • Auras are no longer removed when leaving battlegrounds or arenas.
  • Rogue
    • Subtlety
      • Fixed an issue where the target of Shadowy Duel (PvP Talent) would become invisible if the Rogue is under the effects of a Paladin’s Blessing of Protection when starting the duel.
  • Warlock
    • Decimating Bolt’s (Necrolord Ability) damage bonus to Demonbolt, Shadow Bolt, or Incinerate can no longer be dispelled.

Torghast, Tower of the Damned

  • Anima Powers
    • Death Knight
      • Fixed an issue that was causing Rune Hunter to trigger too often.
    • Hunter
      • Petrified Pet Food damage now correctly increases with each stack of the Anima Power.
by Published on 2021-10-25 08:55 PM

Notorious Studios - New Video Game Studio Founded by Former WoW Developers
Chris Kaleiki, former systems and class designer on World of Warcraft, has announced Notorious Studios - a new video game studio founded by former developers of World of Warcraft.

The studio has nine people right now, all former Blizzard developers, many of which were also in Notorious - a World of Warcraft guild of 17 years. Chris told Venture Beat that they want to grow the studio to 12 people by early next year.

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