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by Published on 2017-11-04 07:46 PM

The Art of World of Warcraft
The art team sits down to discuss the art and models in World of Warcraft.

Kul Tiras
  • Team wanted Kul Tiras humans to look more battle hardened and robust.
  • Clothing is made for harsh weather (high collars)
  • Elegant weapons with nautical themes

Drustvar
  • Lots of creatures that utilize death magic
  • Wanted to combine death magic with druidic feel

Zandalar
  • Troll style influenced by Aztec culture
  • Dinosaurs and gold
  • Brotosaur (long necked dinosaur is used as a mount)
  • Blood trolls worship blood Loa and use blood magic. This magic corrupts the creatures around them and turns them into blood beasts.

Total War
  • Lots of faction inspired gear to wear including what was shown in the Warfront preview

World Building
  • Team used what they learned in Suramar to build the new zones and dungeons
  • Freehold
    • Features a lot of drunken citizens and beer
    • Rogues and pickpockets hanging out on walls and ledges
    • Town criers
  • Nazmir
    • Bound captives, blood magic, dark rituals and chanting

Spell Effects
  • Using layers to create visuals on abstract shapes
  • Warlocks are on the way
  • Even more new spell effects for ones that were updated already.
  • Drustvar
    • Ancient druidic death magic spell effects for witches
    • Wanted to incorporate spirit magic in the feel of the creatures in the zone as well.
  • Blood magic will use a lot of new spell effects

Environment Art
  • Nazmir
    • Zandalari abandoned the zone because of rampant blood magic.
    • Wanted to create an experience where the player goes in and our of light and dark spaces
    • Inspired by swamp marshes
    • Open spaces have low foliage with giant dinosaurs
    • Trees in the zone are based on actual growth in swamps
    • Ancient trees and huge root systems in the swamp areas
    • Strangler figs were added to make the space feel intimidating
    • Important to make sure the water seemed gross in the swamp.
    • The Necropolis is a large temple in Nazmir
  • Kul Tiras
    • Environment is very cold and harsh and surrounded by water.
    • Buildings needed materials that could withstand extreme weather
    • Connection and pride with ships - Buildings are inspired by ships
    • Oxidized green and earthy tones were used in a lot of the architecture with nautical designs

Prop Art
  • Make what the characters would make
  • Set decorations
  • Make the world feel more lived in and tell a story
  • Guide a player's eye to points of interest
  • Zandalari Trolls
    • Ancient and colorful but thriving
    • See a lot more of troll culture in Zandalar
    • Dinosaurs are huge part of culture - shown in carvings of wood, materials and food
    • Aztec influence is a lot less subtle this time around

Holiday Art
  • Makes it feel like time is passing
  • Brings community together
  • Art can be sillier than normal as it's not permanent

Q & A

Q: Are we going to see heritage armor for the older races?
A: Nothing planned for now, but maybe in the future

Q: Will the new idle animations shown in the trailers be given to player characters?
A: The npcs are a test for now and maybe in the future it will be given to players as the animations are on the player models.

Q: What kind of improvements were done to Zandalari armor?
A: Dinosaur leather and gold chain mail are iconic in the new armor

Q: What slows down the re-imagining of magic?
A: Working to make sure each class uses magic differently. Want warlock shadow magic and priest shadow magic to feel different. Takes a lot of work.

Q: How do you breathe life into the models in game?
A: Team looks at a lot of real life creatures with similar anatomy. Things like murlocs are more idea orientated and comedic.

Q: When are we getting hunter quivers?
A: Jumped the gun on the announcement. When artifact system was decided, idea was put on hold. The conversation to move forward with it is happening now.

Q: Where do you draw your inspiration for Kul Tiras?
A: Variety of different cultures and port cities

Q: Is heritage armor usable for all Allied races?
A: Each Allied race has their own unique heritage armor models

Q: Will there be more "plate-kinis?"
A: Many people see them as inappropriate but if it makes sense they might add more similar armor looks

Q: Will head slots/hats be wearable with all hair styles?
A: Too much of an undertaking to make all hair styles work with hat models

Q: Will other races get Allied races that stand up straight?
A: Upright standing orcs are coming! Players will be able to toggle between classic hunched orc or straight standing

Q: Where are worgen/goblin model updates?
A: Right now not ready for Battle for Azeroth launch but definitely planned. They are being worked on!

Q: Any new druid forms for the new Allied races such as moose for Highmountain or Zandalari trolls?
A: New druid forms on the way!

Q: Will the Allied races new body silhouettes transfer into character creation as well?
A: Yes, making its way to character creation in Battle for Azeroth

Q: Any other classes getting new colors for spell effects like green fire for warlocks?
A: No, new spell animations fill this spot

Q: Will mail on gnomes be altered to look normal?
A: Something we are always looking into

Q: Will old world zones get face lifts?
A: Updates will be made where they make sense. High fog is being added and lighting tuning

Q: Will there be a glyph for old priest shadow form?
A: No plans as of now but if it's something the community wants usually it's looked into

Q: Any improvement to riding animations?
A: Very challenging but looking into it

Q: Will there ever be an armor dye system in the game?
A: Maybe someday but not planned as of now

by Published on 2017-11-04 06:31 PM

Designcraft: Building Blocks of Level Design Panel Live Recap
A few members of the Warcraft team are sitting down to discuss how they build the world of Azeroth!

  • Player character is very important
  • Azeroth itself is the most important character to the design team.

Blocking Out a New Zone
  • Start with a flat plane
  • After they have a basic surface, they start to map what the surface will look like
  • All textures are hand painted and geo is molded
  • Once hub is established, terrain is push and pulled for elevation differences.
  • Demo zones are shown to art team to break the ice and discussion is created.

Inhabitants
  • General idea of inhabitants and story of area is known before world building.

Vertex Building
  • Painting with shadows to create terrain and depth
  • Work with art team to use textures and creations to the best of abilities

Creating Atmosphere and Mood
  • Concept and storytelling comes after the general zone is created
  • A general human character is set into an area to get a perspective on the area and size scaling
  • Sketches/ideas are used in the process of forming a story of a small area of the map
  • Playing around with ideas is common until it feels right
  • Lighting helps sets the mood of the area and guides the eye in the direction you should go in
  • Like to tell visual stories without words using props and visuals such as spider webs, graveyards, etc.
  • Small details give quest designers ideas of what should be in a space
  • One of the biggest things in Warcraft is telling a focused story. Using lighting to guide the eye and changes in color is an inventive way to lead a player in a certain direction.
  • Fog is used to hint for a character to stay away from an area

Iteration
  • Creative process to make something exciting
  • Process involves making something and changing it over time until it's perfect
  • Look for improvements and changes
  • Quest designers will alert zone designers of new story arcs and how to change the terrain to reflect it
  • Sometimes entire quest hubs are turned into Adventure points of interest. Team tries to utilize these areas as best as possible by adding boss points or changing terrain to reflect new direction
  • Almost everything added to a map is hand placed including purposeful spots for quest givers and bosses
  • Every area of the game goes through tweaks, some small and some large
  • A month before shipping WoD Gorgrond went through a change in which the jungle area and the Botani were added to reflect differences in the zone.
  • Creatures and mobs placed within a zone will often change the scope of the map
  • Quest designers add the creatures, people and elements of a zone to bring it to life after it is finished.

Q & A

Q: How do the level and quest designers work on the maps at the same time?
A: Only one level designer is working on a map at a time but there is constant communication to make sure it's evolving smoothly. Sometimes quest designers will think ahead but will hang back until level design gives the all clear for the broad strokes of the spaces.

Q: Do you design based on players being on the ground or is flying taken into account?
A: Flying is taken into account. Terrain must be easy to navigate on foot regardless.

Q: How do you approach the random nature of actual nature?
A: Be a student of reality. Look at photos, take photos for reference and build small spaces before looking at the larger scope. less is more but it takes practice. Using elements of nature to guide players in where to go is one of the best parts of design.

Q: How do you collaborate with the tools team to build the software you need to do your job?
A: Constant communication is the key to making sure everyone has what they need. New tool sets are added regularly.

Q: When you create bridges how do you curve them?
A: The model team will create any custom pieces such as bridges. Design team stages the elements around it.

Q: What sort of tricks do you use to guide players through a large world?
A: Terrain cuts will create illusion of lines that steer the eye in a direction. Even blades of grass and bushes are used to steer players.

Q: How do you connect these small hubs within a zone to the broader area of the zone?
A: There is a general sense of where the main parts are and the rest of the time is spent forming the world around the points of interest. They want the world to feel real and not just random spots with roads between them.

Q: Do you hide your personal signature or symbols in less traversed parts of the zones?
A: The design team hides things that make sense in the world, such as skeletons and elekk plushies.

Q: Do you use tools that a landscape architect uses to create terrain?
A: Sketches are used to form the idea in the designers head and then as something to show when communicating with other team members. Some designers use all 3D models and running around the game client to get an idea of how well an area works.

Q: What stops you from updating old terrain and models?
A: Team is busy constantly making new stuff. Try to assess what actually needs new texturing and it is often driven by content.

Q: How easy or difficult is it to make sure that going between the new zones feel natural?
A: It's an art form in itself. You need to have an understanding of the map flow. Vanilla wasn't designed for flying and so lessons were learned in creating Cataclysm when mountains separating zones among other artistic approaches had to be made.

by Published on 2017-11-04 03:58 AM

Submit Your World of Warcraft Questions for Saturday's Live Q & A

Hands on with the Kobolds and Catacombs New Dungeon Run Feature

Visual Effects of the Necromancer Panel Overview

Blizzcon 2017 - 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!


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



Blizzcon 2017 - Day 1 Recap
Saturday starts off with the CodeCraft - Under the Hood with Blizzard Engineering panel at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST, followed by DesignCraft - Building Blocks of Level Design panel at 11:30 AM PST / 2:30 PM PST.

The Art of World of Warcraft panel is at 12:45 PM PST / 3:45 PM EST and The World of Warcraft - Live Q&A is at 4 PM PST / 7 PM EST. Muse will close out the show!

World of Warcraft
A new expansion and Classic servers were announced! Submit your questions now for the live Q & A tomorrow!




Overwatch
Overwatch is getting a Blizzard Theme park map and a new support hero: Moira.



Hearthstone
A new expansion and single player mode were announced.

  • Kobolds and Catacombs is the next expansion.
  • Dungeon Run is a new free to play single player mode.
  • Legendary weapons are now cards for all classes in Hearthstone.
  • Marin the Fox given for free to all those who log into the game starting Monday. Virtual ticket/Blizzcon attendees get golden version.


Heroes of the Storm
Two new heroes are coming as well as many new features.

  • Hanzo and Alexstraza are the two new heroes.
  • Performance based matchmaking, voice chat and new camera features.
  • Laning improvements, stealth rework and evolved battleground mechanics
by Published on 2017-11-04 03:18 AM

Heroes of the Storm What's Next - Live Panel Recap

Alexstrasza - Ranged Support - Warcraft Hero


Screenshots







Recap

This panel was hosted by Matthew Cooper (Lead Live Designer), Alan Dabiri (Game Director), and Travis McGeathy (Lead Game Designer)!

2017 Recap
  • The release of Heroes 2.0 was the single-biggest moment in Heroes history
  • Hanamura brought a lot of new things, but some didn't quite work out as planned. They're still working on a rework for the map
  • 15 new heroes were added in 2017! Hanzo will be the 75th hero in the game, more than double the 30 on release
  • 16 hero reworks for existing heroes were carried out just in 2017 alone.
  • 59 heroes had balance updates made to them.

Looking Ahead
  • Previously the team has focused on very big updates. It feels cool but it can also become cluttered, individual pieces of content often feel overshadowed.
  • Massive amounts of concurrent changes can also disrupt the meta.
  • They're planning on spreading out individual content/releases/changes to several updates. New hero in one patch, hero rework in the next one, and so on.

UI Updates
  • Target frame being added to the game. You can select units and see their stats. Includes armor, attack, etc.
  • Heroes in Hiding: New way of showing heroes inside vehicles, Stitches Gorge, Zagara Maw, etc.

Voice Chat
  • Blizzard Voice being integrated directly into the game client.
  • The system is opt-in.
  • Ingame voice chat indicators for easy overview to see who has opted in.

Performance-based Matchmaking
  • Goal is to improve matchmaking accuracy by taking personal ingame performance into account
  • Matchmaker tries to match players together by MMR. The higher the accuracy of your MMR, the better the game.
  • MMR is hard to pin down though. Current system is solely decided by win/loss.
  • They've been adding data hooks to the game for a while (MVP, on-fire system) to pinpoint personalized stats and help with the new MMR system.
  • Illidan example: Damage, xp soak, few deaths, camp captures.
  • Kerrigan example: Damage, xp, few deaths, but focus on Crowd Control instead of camps.
  • These hero/role-specific stats can be incorporated into the matchmaker for it to more accurately figure out how well you actually do in a game.
  • The new matchmaker has quietly been running on Live servers in parallel to current systems for a while, for statistics gathering
  • MMR example: Master tier player took control of a Bronze player's account under the current matchmaker.
  • The data gathered from both old and new MMR systems showed that the Master player would reach his intended rank (Master) in only half the time under the new system.
  • This sytem can also help detect feeding to help with punishing bad behaviour. The system isn't currently automated, but it could be with time
  • This is releasing in mid-December with the new ranked season!

2018 Gameplay Update - Camera
  • Can currently be claustrophobic.
  • Over time they've added heroes with long range or crazy mobility (Chromie, Genji), so they want to pull the camera out a little bit.
  • How far out can they go? Question of performance vs visibility.
  • They want to reach the right balance. Too far can impact performance significantly, and it can be hard to see details

Gameplay - Stealth
  • Stealth heroes are typically powerful heroes in quick match, but weak in competitive.
  • They want to even out the playing field
  • The stealth visual can be hard to see for the untrained eye.
  • Goal is to make stealth easier to see for moving heroes.
  • In internal testing, stealth is being changed so that heroes standing still will disappear completely after a few seconds
  • Stealth should still be a strategic advantage. You're still invisible on the minimap, and you cannot be directly targeted.
  • Stealth heroes are being updated and buffed in response to being easier to see
  • Nova: New active ability to insta-stealth. Baseline +15% movement speed in stealth. Base Snipe damage reduced, but Snipe Master is baseline.
  • Full stealth changes will be covered on tomorrow's panel.

Gameplay - Laning
  • The laning phase currently carries to small of an impact.
  • Towers now have infinite shots.
  • Currently too easy to just clear a lane and go elsewhere while the minions push the towers and drain shots.
  • The change will make pushing require more active measures and less passivity
  • Minions have been buffed to compensate.
  • New Regeneration Globes: Team-specific for 4 seconds, and then it turns Neutral for another 4 seconds before timing out.

Gameplay - Fortifications
  • The standalone tower in towns is being removed.
  • It's not really that important, and sometimes even hinders defender movement.
  • Remaining town structures have had health buffed to compensate
  • Like the core, forts and keeps are getting Truesight. Any stealth heroes in range are revealed.
  • This will help heroes like Abathur and Murky.

Gameplay - Map Mechanics
  • Some maps keep you in the lane (Tomb, Dragon Shire), while others pull you out of the lane (Sky Temple, Cursed Hollow).
  • Certain map objectives will be pushed back to allow for longer laning phases.
  • Simplified objective timers. Two rulesets: Objectives spawn at 1:30, or 3:00. 30 second warnings are being added so people are aware of objectives coming up.
  • Upcoming objectives will be telegraphed, such as the next active shrine on Infernal Shrines being highlighted beforehand
  • They still want variation on maps, such as random Tribute spawns, but they want to make the randomness more visible.
  • The goal is to make the game more interesting without increasing game length.

Gameplay - Mercenaries
  • Currently many are working as tower ammo fodder. Won't work with the new tower system
  • Knight Camp caster will emit a spell armor aura, to encourage pushing with the camp.
  • Hellbat will decrease armor on the targets.
  • Siege Giants will now always telegraph their attacks at all times, even when capturing the camp
  • They're still looking at the other camps too, to ensure they're all interesting.

Upcoming Timeline
  • Community summit was held back in October, to collect feedback from prominent community members and pro players
  • 3-week PTR will be coming up later in November, with release in December alongside new ranked season.


Q&A

Q: Are you considering moving duo-queue back into Hero League?
A: Not currently. Always looking to evaulate, but they currently like Hero League solo-queue. They'd rather work to improve the Team League experience for grouped players

Q: It's difficult to see things like sprays and emojis on 4K monitors. Improvements, like up-scaling, coming?
A: Known issue, the team will work on it

Q: Will you do personal commendations and the like?
A: Want to do it, team has been thinking about it for a while. Want to call out good players in various ways. Nothing specific to announce right now.

Q: Will you expand interactive environment, like conveyor belts, to more maps?
A: The battleground team is always looking to push boundaries. Crazy ideas are always being tried, so who knows what will happen

Q: Have you considered repositioning fountains to make them less vulnerable?
A: Battleground team has been looking at this and want to improve. Not a huge concern, but they're keeping an eye on it.

Q: QM team comps. Sometimes you get actual comps, sometimes you get the exact opposite Will you look at improving this?
A: QM is an interesting beast. Meant to be the Wild West. Constrained compositions runs contrary to the goal of the gamemode. They've run simulations with trying to find good comps every time, and the queue times "explode". They continue to tweak the matchmaking rules, but no sweeping changes

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