MMO Champion
  • Beta Ending, Oct 30 Hotfixes, Artcraft - Level Design Part 4, Character Services Sale
    Blizzcon is coming: Legendary Workshop, Tristram’s Got Talent, 2014 Charity Auction

    What We Know About Hearthstone's Next Expansion

    Town Hall: Heroes #37 - "Halloween Episode OMG!"

    Warlords of Draenor Beta Ends Monday November 3
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    The end of the Warlords of Draenor beta test is upon us. As of Monday, November 3 at 4:00 p.m. PDT, the beta realms will be taken offline and players will no longer have access to the beta. But before we bring down the realms, we’d like to invite all beta testers to join us at 2:00 p.m. PDT for an end of beta event. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll trade bad puns, and probably let loose just a little chaos too.

    We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to test the beta, provide feedback, and break ground with us on Warlords of Draenor. While this is the end of beta, it’s not the end of the road as we prepare for the final release of the expansion on November 13. We look forward to seeing you there as we push through the Dark Portal once more and explore all that Draenor has to offer.

    Patch 6.0.3 Hotfixes - October 30
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Hallow's End

    • Resolved an issue where durations for periodic effects were not always being extended for the full amount when refreshed by another ability.
    • Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • Unholy
        • Necrosis’ damage has been increased by 67%.
        • Scourge Strike’s damage has been increased by 50%.
        • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 5% (down from 10%).
      • Talents
        • Defile should no longer be growing in radius and damage by more than the intended amount.
    • Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • General
        • Druids are no longer able to switch specializations while in Flight Form.
        • Druid shapeshift forms should now override the transformation from Fire-Watcher's Oath.
        • Wrath’s damage has been increased by 25%.
      • Balance
        • Starfall’s damage has been increased by 75%.
        • Starfire’s damage has been increased by 25%.
        • Starsurge’s damage has been increased by 25%. Additionally, resolved an issue where Starsurge may sometimes provide an incorrect Lunar or Solar Empowerment.
      • Restoration
      • Talents
        • [Requires a realm restart.] Nature's Vigil now heals and damages nearby targets for 20% of the healing done (down from 30%), but can now trigger from Multistrikes.
    • Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • General
        • Adaptation now increases Combat Experience’s damage increase to 70% (down from 85%).
      • Beast Mastery
      • Marksmanship
        • Chimaera Shot’s damage has been reduced by 13%.
      • Talents
        • Focusing Shot now has a 2.5 second cast time (down from 3 seconds), and its damage has been increased by 25%.
    • Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • General
        • Conjured food no longer has a level requirement to use.
      • Arcane
        • Resolved an issue where notifications for Arcane Missiles charges may sometimes not display properly.
      • Frost
        • Frostbolt’s damage has been reduced by 20%.
      • Talents
        • Cauterize should no longer be dealing more damage than intended to the Mage.
        • Alter Time should now work correctly for characters below level 77.
    • Monk (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • General
      • Brewmaster
        • Black Ox Statue should no longer be attacking targets.
      • Talents
        • Chi Explosion now deals reduced damage to secondary targets. Damage to the primary target remains unchanged.
    • Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • Discipline
        • Smite critical hits should no longer incorrectly cause the target to be healed for a greater than intended amount through Atonement while also receiving a larger than intended damage shield that's granted through Divine Aegis.
      • Shadow
        • Mastery: Mental Anguish now increases damage by 3.125% per point (up from 2.5%).
      • Glyphs
    • Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • Combat
        • Killing Spree should no longer cancel or end prematurely if one of their targets is immune to damage.
    • Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Warlock (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • Demonology
        • Molten Core should no longer incorrectly trigger its effect based on the casting Warlock's health
        • Resolved an issue where Soul Fire damage was reduced by a greater than intended amount.
      • Destruction
      • Talents
        • Cataclysm now has a slight visual which can be seen by the Warlock's allies when it's being cast.
    • Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
      • General
        • Heroic Leap should no longer allow the Warrior to ignore vertical terrain restrictions while in a Dungeon, Raid, or Battleground.
        • Whirlwind’s damage has been reduced by 30%.
      • Talents
        • Ravager’s damage has been reduced by 25%.
        • Slam’s damage has been reduced by 30%.
    • Breaking the Emperor's Shield: Nakk'rakas should no longer despawn, allowing players to complete the quest.

    • Damp Shambler's Renewing Mists now heals for less.

    Dungeons, Raids, and Scenarios
    • Siege of Orgrimmar
      • [Requires a realm restart.] Paragons of the Klaxxi: Resolved an issue where Kil'ruk the Wind-Reaver could not be looted.
      • Downfall Wing 4: Resolved an issue where Gnomish Gyrocopters may not be destroying Thresher Turrets for Alliance players.
    • Throne of Thunder
      • Jin'rokh the Breaker's Ionization effect should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.
    • Icecrown Citadel
      • [Requires a realm restart.] The Lich King's Harvest Soul ability should no longer deal an excessive amount of damage.
    • Trial of the Crusader
      • Anub'arak's Leeching Swarm should no longer be healing Anub'arak for an excessive amount.
    • Dungeons
      • [Requires a realm restart.] Blackrock Caverns: Angered Earth should now spawn in when Rom'ogg Bonecrusher hits a player with Quake.
      • Razorfen Kraul: Groyat, the Blind Hunter's Drain Life ability should no longer damage or heal for an excessive amount.

    Battlegrounds and Arenas
    • Arenas
      • Tol'viron Arena should now correctly have Dampening.
    • Battlegrounds
      • Deepwind Gorge: Status of the mine cart should now be updating correctly.
      • Isle of Conquest: Huge Seaforium Bombs no longer have a level requirement to interact with them.

    • Elixirs from the Cataclysm expansion should no longer be more powerful than their counterparts from Mists of Pandaria.
    • Boiled Silkworm Pupa now provides a buff to Critical Strike instead of Hit.
    • [Requires a realm restart.] Claws of Agony and Claws of Torment's 2-piece set bonus now gives a more reasonable amount of Haste.
    • Manual Crowd Pummeler's on-use effect now grants a more reasonable increase to Haste.
    • Technique: Glyph of the Executor no longer has an effect as the Glyph it teaches no longer exists.
    • Zandalarian Hero Badge now provides a more reasonable amount of Armor.

    • Settings for SET ffxGlow should no longer be resetting when exiting the game client.

    Artcraft - Level Design Part 4
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Hi, I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director of World of Warcraft. In this last installment of this four-part Artcraft series, WoW community manager Bashiok sat down with a few of the level designers who created Nagrand to pick their brains a bit more on the process of creating the zone.

    Hey everyone—so for all the peoples out there, go ahead and introduce yourselves, and for fun, name a zone you’ve worked on in the past.

    Victor: Hi, I’m Victor Chong, senior level designer, and people probably remember Vale of Eternal Blossoms in Pandaria.

    Ian: I’m Ian Gerdes, level designer on World of Warcraft, and the zone I was probably most involved with in Mists [of Pandaria] was Isle of Thunder.

    Ed: I’m Ed Hanes—I’ve been at Blizzard for 13 years, and the first zone I ever worked on was Ghostlands for The Burning Crusade expansion.

    Kevin: I’m Kevin Lee, a four-year vet here at Blizzard, and I worked on the Jade Forest in Pandaria.

    Damarcus: Hey there I’m Damarcus Holbrook. I’m the new guy, so all my focus has been on Warlords; specifically for this discussion, the exterior of the Highmaul Raid in Nagrand.

    What were some of the specific challenges you had with creating Nagrand?

    Ian: I think a lot of it was trying to preserve the original layout as much as we could. Nagrand was kind of the one zone that was never really as wrecked as the other zones were from being shattered. It’s kind of blue skies and green trees, and there’s not fel energy everywhere. So I think trying to preserve some of the landmarks and maintaining the spaces was something we really wanted to make sure remained intact—while still making sure it feels new to the player.

    So you obviously had to do some translation of the Outland version. How did you decide how to fill in the areas that were previously destroyed?

    Ian: We wanted to preserve some of the silhouette on the world map, so that it still felt familiar. I know Tanaan Jungle was similar in some respects where the edges were broken away, but we still wanted to retain what was Hellfire Peninsula. It was the same for Nagrand. We had a little bit of freedom, however, because there were some parts of the zone that were more obviously destroyed than others, like the southern edge of Oshu’gun and the western border. There were some ogres hanging out there, but nothing substantial in terms of structure, so we decided to add the Raid over there, because it felt like it would be a good extension of the story that fit with the timeline. It ended up getting quite a bit bigger than we had originally planned for. It’s pretty impressive as a zone point of interest (POI) that you can see from a distance, and really breaks up the skyline.

    Ed: The biggest challenge was giving a fresh look to something players are familiar with. It’s definitely a zone that players who had that experience in Burning Crusade know; there’s a defined image that comes to mind of what that zone is and what it’s about. A lot of people remember the Nesingwary stuff—the sweeping plains, the angular trees, the floating rock islands, the Throne of Elements. It was one of those zones that was around where a lot of people were hitting their max level, and so it’s got that association with it as well. So that was a huge challenge, figuring out how to keep it fresh while keeping it familiar.

    Any stories from Outland people might remember represented in this new old Nagrand?

    Ian: On the mountain range north of Nagrand, in the Burning Crusade version, as you were going to Zangarmarsh there was an orphanage that...

    Victor: Yeah...

    Ian: ...it was a little...creepy. There’s an NPC there, and I think they’ll be making a return. I actually just put a cage in at the Burning Blade POI today, so I’ll be talking to [the quest team] to see if they want to do anything with that. Corki was certainly one of the more memorable quest lines in Nagrand.

    Victor: The Ring of Blood is coming back. It’s a bit more upgraded, but the visual style is very similar.

    So you put a cage there, but want to go talk to the quest designers. How does that work as far as who is designing what? How much of it is your team coming up with the story of an area, and how much of it is the quest team bringing it in?

    Ian: It’s bi-directional. Sometimes we’ll have a cool idea and they’ll latch onto it, and sometimes they’ll have the cool idea and we’ll latch onto it. It’s definitely a partnership.

    Victor: We spend a lot of time with the quest designers, specifically on coming up with really interesting ideas. This expansion specifically is doing a lot of vignette stuff...

    Sorry, what’s a vignette?

    Victor: It’s an internal term we use for a cool little area or thing you stumble across, something that’s not necessarily part of the main quest line. We’re putting a lot more Easter eggs into the zones this time around, so it doesn’t matter if players find them or not...

    Ian: But it’s cool for them if they do.

    Victor: We’ve added a lot more vignette stuff, and I was working with Kurt Sparkuhl, a quest designer, on how I could add hidden stuff on the tops of mountains. So we have a lot of vignettes where players have to figure out how to get up there without just being able to walk up. It’s stuff like doing some jumping around to get into an area, and then when you get to the top, you find a goblin with a glider that’ll let you glide to specific areas that aren’t normally accessible. Then if you get through all of that and land on a specific spot, you’re rewarded with whatever the prize is there from a chest or something. We’re doing a lot of that, and Nagrand was a good test bed for those kinds of things.

    What’s your favorite area or detail in the zone?

    Victor: There are a lot of very cool things we did in Nagrand. For me specifically I did the whole canyon area, so there’s like three big canyons within the zone.

    Ian: And that’s kind of a callback to the original zone...

    Victor: We originally weren’t even planning to do that stuff.>

    Ian: It was kind of an iteration of the process, because we had originally gone super crazy with the rolling hills, which looked fantastic, but we needed something to break it up.

    Victor: That’s actually kind of an interesting story. The first thing that comes to mind for Nagrand was the rolling hills, and the big open grass areas where you were just killing animals—that was a lot of fun and really stood out to me. I started doing a very elaborate rolling hill layout, where every hill is perfectly molded and you have these perfect views of the zone from every angle. Most of the level designers thought it looked great, but when the quest designers looked at it they thought, “What are we going to do with all this open space?” and it didn’t work—it was just too big of an open area. And so when you start looking at the elements of the zone there are trees everywhere, and I think [lead quest designer] Craig Amai said that what he remembered wasn’t the rolling hills, but the canyons, which was surprising to me. Turns out, it was actually a zone full of canyons. It got me thinking about why I never really remembered these canyons, and looking back it’s that they were pretty bad; there wasn’t really any good gameplay there. Spawns were far apart, they were very narrow, and if you accidentally fell down into one they were just this annoying trap you couldn’t find your way out of. So I looked at what I could do to make them better—made them wider, added multiple sub-zones within them, and added more pathways in and out of them. They turned out really well and we ended up adding two more of them.

    What do you want players to experience when they enter Nagrand for the first time?

    Victor: I’d like them to see that it’s familiar, but that this is definitely a different time, and that the Warsong clan is here. This is their place.

    Ed: Familiar but new. It’d be awesome for people to feel like it’s familiar, but that there’s a lot of new stuff, that it’s a new experience and not just the old Nagrand that’s just been touched up a little.

    Could you tell us more about some of the POI’s, how they developed, and what kinds of inspirations were taken from inside and outside of World of Warcraft?

    Let’s start with the Warsong clan camp.

    Ian: The idea originally was that the Warsong were nomadic, and seasonally would move from the highlands to the lowlands. The idea being that the flood plains would indeed flood, they wouldn’t want to hang out there, and they’d move up to higher ground.

    Victor: We ended up using the canyon to illustrate that while their city is both nestled in the canyons and up above them, it still feels like a cohesive city. There’s a river that goes through the entire center of town, but it’s dried out, and it’s supposed to show that when it’s the rainy season it would fill up, so we still tried to pull off that same feeling. We also have where Garrosh is supposed to be sitting in his throne there.

    How about the Highmaul Ogres? How did they influence the zone, and how did you try to create a sense of history?

    Ed: They were originally supposed to be in the background of the Warsong. However, as the kit was developed, we had a bigger and stronger art push on the look of those guys, and they became a much bigger presence in the zone. Now most of the max level content is focused around them, with that kit being so robust that we were also able to use it in other zones. Their culture actually expanded, I think, as people got on board and dug the vibe of this kind of elevated status of ogre society and their seat of power, and it spread across the expansion.

    Ian: Yeah, I think the idea for them was kind of the twilight of the Roman Empire, where their society used to be very grand, and you kind of see how it’s devolving as you look at Frostfire and the Stonemaul. Kind of how ogre society is getting more brutish and less sophisticated and the Highmaul are this last remnant of what they were, or what the Highmaul still are.

    Victor: It’s interesting too, because when we first started it was all Warsong—we had this giant Warsong warpath, this giant road, and then we ran into what we called orc fatigue, where the entire expansion just had too much orc. Which fits thematically and makes logical sense, but from a gameplay standpoint gets boring really quickly. So in that process the ogres got elevated quite a bit.

    Ian: You get kind of a layered history too, where the ogre empire used to reach across all of Draenor—but over time it’s deteriorated, other races have moved in, and so Victor did a really nice road treatment where you have the sort of ancient and broken ogre tiles, with the newer Warsong paths crisscrossed on top of it.
    Ed: And we knew we were going to have the Highmaul Raid, and so once the art started taking shape for that we were able to pull pieces out of it—like this wall or column looks really cool—and were able to use a lot of that to build out their story in the exterior environment.

    Tell us more about the Highmaul Raid.

    Damarcus: It’s the stronghold, the final stand for the ogres to hold their ground. The orcs are pushing against them, but they’re holding out. You and your friends roll up through their arena first, and you get some cool options on how you want to progress through the first few bosses before you get into the big keep.
    Ian: It’s a little less linear than newer raids have been, so it’s kind of a throwback to that old style of non-linear raids and choosing which way you go and which bosses you want to kill in what order.

    So is it as open as, say, Firelands?

    Damarcus: Actually, so this was the first thing I really got to work on at Blizzard. I ended up making the exterior areas of the Highmaul raid and working with the team who made Firelands—so I looked at that a lot and worked with them on how exterior design works for raiding. Ed and I jammed on layout a bit and we kind of thought a triangular layout would work best where you hit the first boss, and then have three options before coming back in before you get to the keep itself. The layout itself works really well.

    What’s about Oshu’gun?

    Ed: Kevin is really the guy who worked on a lot of it, but we knew it was one of those parts of Nagrand that we needed to keep. We also of course wanted to do something different with it, and one of the things we pitched early that stuck was to give it to the orcs. They’re there right now, but before that, there was a nice forest wrapping around it, and there are still some remnants of the impact when it crashed into Draenor.

    Kevin: We wanted to draw on the crater vibe, to make it look a bit more raw—like this had happened recently versus how it looked in Outland. We also wanted to still have some of the runes around it kind of for the nostalgia factor because that’s how we all remember it looking. You can also go inside of it as part of a quest chain, and into an orc cave inside. It’s one of the main quest story lines and will have a lot more meaning to people when they play through it.

    Finally, tell us about the Throne of Elements.

    Ian: We really wanted to try to preserve a lot of it. Originally we had it elevated, where it was halfway between the top of the mountains and the lake surface, and the idea was that with the destruction of Draenor, it crashed into the lake. But it blocked the shot of the iconic waterfalls behind it, and there were some other technical constraints, so it ended up more as how we all remember it. Also up top on the Elemental Plateau where people probably remember farming motes, there were elementals kind of sharing a space, but we wanted to break that out into four distinct areas where each is represented. So for the fire area, the ground is all dried out and scorched, the water elemental section is where the waterfalls are up above the throne, and the earth and air sections are nearby.

    Ed: Real estate–wise it commands a bigger presence than it did previously, for sure.

    Hey there, Chris again. So this wraps up this exterior level design series, but this is by no means the end of the line. We hope that we’ve been able to provide a bit more insight on what it takes to create a zone in World of Warcraft, and look forward to seeing you make your way into Draenor. We’ve put a lot into trying to create some truly epic environments and experiences for those of you who take up the challenge of fighting back against the Iron Horde. Until next time, thanks for reading!

    Blue Posts
    Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
    Class Tuning Changes
    The aforementioned class tuning changes have now been applied to the live realms for this region. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    Normal Highmaul Testing Over
    Highmaul testing has now concluded. Thanks all, for the participation and feedback. See you in Draenor! (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    Save 25% on Select Character Services - Sale Extended
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    The invasion of Azeroth is imminent. Beyond the Dark Portal, the destructive might of the Iron Horde gathers. Now's the time to summon your guildmates, arm yourself, and prepare to stand against the tides of iron and fury. Select character services are available for 25% below their normal price. The following services will be on sale until November 3, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PDT:

    • Character Transfer
    • Faction Change
    • Guild Transfer
    • Guild Faction Change

    To get started, simply click here. Alternatively, you can log in to your Battle.net account, select your World of Warcraft account, and choose a character or guild service at the bottom of the page.

    World of Warcraft Arena Championship on Friday
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Starting at 20:00 (CET) on Friday, October 31, the top eight 3v3 Arena teams in the world will kick off the Blizzcon 2014 World of Warcraft Arena Championship at ESL’s studios in Burbank.

    Watch all the action for free in HD here.

    Find links to live streams in a dozen languages on our official BlizzCon.com Tournament site.

    • 20:00 (CET) -- Skill-Capped EU vs. 3 Amigos
    • 21:00 (CET) -- Penny for Your Thought vs. Popped CD No Skill
    • 22:00 (CET) -- Playing with Fire vs. Death Innovators
    • 23:00 (CET) -- Push Push vs. Bleached Bones
    • 00:00 (CET) -- Group A: Winner vs. Winner
    • 01:00 (CET) -- Group B: Winner vs. Winner

    All eight teams will still be alive heading to BlizzCon next week, with Friday’s group winners holding two of the final four spots in the semi-finals.


    Join us Friday and watch live in free HD at Twitch.TV/blizzard. For team breakdowns and additional information and updates throughout the event, check out our BlizzCon 2014 website.

    Curse - The End Game Tournament and Giveaway
    Curse is running a WoW Boss Battle Tournament with new lineups every day until Warlords of Draenor release. Along with the tournament they are giving away a SteelSeries mouse and mousepad every day. Be sure to vote every day from noon EST to 10 AM EST on the following day for your chance to win.

  • Ironhoof Destroyer, Upcoming Class Tuning and Honor Changes, Charity Auction
    Health Scaling Hotfix, Deadset Sanctuary Talk, HC Americas Rank #1 DH vs GR 41

    Patch 6898 Now Live - Warlords and BlizzCon Card Backs Now Available

    Town Hall: Heroes #37 - "Halloween Episode OMG!"

    Warlords of Draenor - Ironhoof Destroyer Mount
    The Ironhoof Destroyer will drop from Blackhand in Mythic Blackrock Foundry. It is the only Warlords of Draenor mount that drops from a raid instance so far.

    Warlords of Draenor - Garrisons: Inn / Tavern
    Our Inn / Tavern guide has been updated.

    Upcoming Class Tuning Changes
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Giving everyone a heads up on class balance changes that could potentially take effect as early as later tonight. Many of these changes may not be reflected in tooltips.

    These changes are primarily aimed at level 100 balance, but they will have reasonable effects in the meantime as well. Please keep the comments constructive, and we expect to be making a few additional tuning changes in the future.

    Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Scourge Strike’s damage has been increased by 50%.
    • Necrosis’ damage has been increased by 67%.
    • Unholy Might now increases Strength by 5% (down from 10%).

    Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Starfall’s damage has been increased by 75%.
    • Starfire’s damage has been increased by 25%.
    • Starsurge’s damage has been increased by 25%.
    • Wrath’s damage has been increased by 25%.

    Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Adaptation now increases Combat Experience’s damage increase to 70% (down from 85%).
    • Chimaera Shot’s damage has been reduced by 13%.
    • Focusing Shot now has a 2.5 second cast time (down from 3 seconds), and its damage has been increased by 25%.
    • Kill Command’s damage has been increased by 20%.

    Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Frostbolt’s damage has been reduced by 20%.

    Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Mental Anguish now increases damage by 3.125% per point (up from 2.5%).

    Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)

    Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
    • Ravager’s damage has been reduced by 25%.
    • Slam’s damage has been reduced by 30%.
    • Whirlwind’s damage has been reduced by 30%.

    I think this is a misspeling, you guys buffed this crap right? 2k damage for a 2s cast get reduced?
    This change undid the buff to Frostbolt back on October 17. The net change is zero.

    So you're saying the tuning team really don't have a clue what they're doing?
    Or, we made a change and undid it because it isn't working out. Note that the tuning is primarily intended for level 100.

    Upcoming Honor Changes
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Wanted to give a heads-up that there's a hotfix being worked on (no ETA but soon without the TM) to increase the amount of Honor gains for Arathi Basin, Deepwind Gorge, Eye of the Storm, and The Battle for Gilneas. We're changing it so Honor is awarded for every 150 resources gathered (up from Honor awarding for every 250 resources gathered).

    Characters of Warcraft Updated: Velen and Khadgar
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    The Lore section of our game guide has been updated with two new entries on the Characters of Warcraft page: Velen and Khadgar!

    Velen is a staunch defender of the Draenei, and has guided his people in the struggle against the Burning Legion for thousands of years. Now he’s facing a much more immediate threat – the Iron Horde.

    Khadgar saw the Iron Horde’s intentions for Azeroth when Nethergarde Keep fell. Now he is determined to stop their assault before it’s too late, and is leading the charge into the Dark Portal, as he did in the past.

    Their fates intertwined, Velen and Khadgar are willing to sacrifice much to ensure the safety of their people. Can they triumph over the Iron Horde? Or will they fall to a foe more dangerous than any they’ve encountered before?

    We invite you to learn more about these characters and the pivotal role they play in Warlords of Draenor.

    To learn more about the leaders of the Iron Horde, check out the Lords of War video series.

    BlizzCon 2014 Charity Auction for CHOC Children's
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    This year, we’re expanding our BlizzCon Charity Auction beyond the walls of the Anaheim Convention Center. Beginning November 5 through November 14, we’ll be hosting an online auction of rare art and other unique loot from the Blizzard Vault—all to benefit CHOC Children’s.

    For more information and to get a sneak peek at the items that will be up for auction, visit our newly posted BlizzCon 2014 Charity Auction page—then make sure to come back when the Auction House opens on November 5!

  • Artcraft - Level Design Part 3
    Artcraft - Level Design Part 2, Oct 28 Hotfixes, Anti-Exploit Mechanic, Ashran Event

    Artcraft - Level Design Part 3
    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Hi again, I’m senior art director Chris Robinson. In this third installment, senior level designer Ely Cannon explains a bit more of the level designer’s role in bringing the landscape to life and how this role may be a bit different at Blizzard than what players, and even other level designers in the industry, might expect the role to encompass.

    Hi, I’m Ely Cannon, a senior member of the Level Design team for World of Warcraft. I wanted to talk a little about the important role that our level designers play in developing the visual style for the zones. In a traditional level design role, you wouldn’t historically find artists; but we’re not what most people know as traditional level designers on the World of Warcraft team. We go out of our way to hire artists with design experience, or designers with art skills, for our level design team. This is essential to our process since each level designer is ultimately the gate keeper for the visual style and tone of the zone he/she is working on.

    This process starts with the preproduction work for a zone. Working with an environment artist, the level designer will help to guide and define the scope of environment assets needed. These assets include terrain textures, trees, bushes, accent plants, rocks, etc. The range of models and textures needed must address not only the main zone look, but the sub environment types needed to break up the zone, all the while bringing the concept to life while remaining within the capabilities of our game engine. It can be a challenge, and often is.

    Take for example the new Nagrand. Not only do we have the environment that you know of as the Nagrand from Outland, but new areas, like a wetlands, and a higher elevation arid region. The visual clash of these disparate environmental themes could be quite jarring if not handled with care. There is a constant conversation between the level designer and the environment artist about shape language, color, diversity, scale, mood, model usage, and ultimately the visual tone of the zone as a whole that keeps the zone development moving in the right direction.

    While the environment artists make the models and textures, it is the level designer who sculpts and paints the terrain, places the trees, rocks, and bushes, all the while considering gameplay and the art/design direction. We approach the whole process in a very considered and intentional way, balancing visual style and gameplay all the while. A typical day for our level designers will include big decisions about the overall look and feel of a zone as well as small decisions about how one plant looks when placed next to another plant in the scene.

    Nagrand in Warlords of Draenor is a good example of the color relationships between textures. The vast sweeping savannahs of verdant green which make up a large portion of Nagrand presented a challenge for our level designers. How can we get color depth into massive green fields while staying true to the concept? At first glance the fields and rolling hills seem to be simply green grass – and lots of it. On closer inspection there is a carefully selected range of green tones used to render the savannahs of Nagrand. Each of the green tones is a unique grass texture which is carefully blended with the others in the set to create the effect seen in-game. Likewise, the subzones in Nagrand diverge from the main zone color scheme in very specific ways that were defined early by level design to ensure that players would experience a diversity of environment types while playing through the zone, and ultimately when they return for max level content.

    Having capable and talented artists and designers sitting behind our level editing tool allows for fast iteration, and ensures that we can create huge play areas with a consistent level of visual quality. In the last segment of this Artcraft series you’ll meet five more of these designers: Victor Chong, Ian Gerdes, Ed Hanes, Damarcus Holbrook, and Kevin Lee.

| Date published: Fri, 31 Oct 2014 17:33:13 +0000
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