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World of Warcraft

BlizzCon kicks off on Friday, virtual tickets still available

World of Warcraft, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Hearthstone

Same venue as last year, then?
If you've been waiting patiently for the next big convention focused entirely around Blizzard's game catalogue, your wait is almost over. BlizzCon 2014 kicks off on Friday, November 7th, with the opening ceremonies starting at 2:00 p.m. EST. There's no chance of attending in person if you don't already have a ticket, but you can still pick up a virtual ticket, and DirecTV customers can also grab a pay-per-view stream that includes a virtual ticket and the associated benefits.

The convention will host a variety of tournaments, including the Hearthstone championships, the StarCraft II championships, and the World of Warcraft Arena championship. There will also be the usual assortment of lore panels, development previews, and reveals for the various games under the Blizzard banner, included the much-anticipated Warlords of Draenor expansion. If you've been on the fence about getting a stream, take a look at the list of festivities and get ready to see what's coming from the studio this weekend.

One Shots: Jolly pumpkins

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, The Secret World, Humor, Miscellaneous

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Halloween may be over, but its spirit remains alive in MMOs! Alive, that is, as long as there are spooky locales to explore and a population that's more than willing to dress up in costume and face down the terrors that slip between the shadows.

Our friend David here may be taking Halloween at face value in World of Warcraft, but can you really blame him? He and his demonic minion look to be having a heck of a time. Plus, there's a whole-hearted embrace of a pumpkin motif that will be all but extict come December. Enjoy it while it lasts!

The rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots may not be creepy in the least, but they do all share the same jolly attitude that exists in this moment. In a world that brought back One Shots, really anything is possible!

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WoW level designers discuss Draenor's callbacks and vignettes

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

WoW
Blizzard's final Artcraft blog for World of Warcraft has arrived today in the form of an interview conducted by Community Manager Bashiok. Once again, the topic is the design of Nagrand, a zone made iconic in The Burning Crusade expansion and returning in Warlords of Draenor next month.

The five interviewees, all level designers, discuss preserving key landmarks and environments in the proto-zone and how they've incorporated appropriate callbacks for classic content. The popular Ring of Blood arena quests will return, for example, as might everyone's favorite escort quest NPC, Corki. "Vignettes" will sound familiar to fans of more modern MMOs, as well; Senior Level Designer Victor Chong explains:
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.
The complete interview is available on the WoW official site.

World of Warcraft chronicles the challenges of Draenor zone design

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Lore, Previews, News Items, Dev Diaries, Subscription

WoW
The third installment of World of Warcraft's Artcraft blog series is now live, and in it, Blizzard Senior Level Designer Ely Cannon discusses the visual style of zone design and how the artists and level designers team up to sculpt the look of zones and sub-zones within the limitations of the game engine. Cannon again references popular zone Nagrand and the difficulties of creating color depth and variation in the Warlords of Draenor version of the famed Burning Crusade zone, with its sweeping and sometimes one-note rolling plains. (Spoiler: The problem is solved with even more green.)

Blizzard has also updated the WoW game guide with new lore about the Draenei leader Velen and human wizard Archmage Khadgar. Both posts are found on the official Blizzard blog.

World of Warcraft examines the art of designing proto-Nagrand

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Subscription

Everybody's favorite.
Part of designing an MMO is putting a whole lot of work into things that no one will really notice. If you're playing World of Warcraft and running through Nagrand in Outland, you might be vaguely curious about how the zone is going to translate into its original form in Warlords of Draenor. Odds are, though, that you'll notice only in passing what the latest development blog from art director Chris Robinson talks about extensively.

Robinson details the challenges of building the temporal prototype of an iconic existing zone, especially since the original Nagrand was marked partly by the contrast between its peaceful plains and the floating bits of rock in the distance. The intent was to give the area an almost delicate feel, as if parts of the landscape could rise up and start floating away. Take a look at Robinson's whole piece for more insights about weaving the story of the zone into the art, and take a moment to stop and look around when you reach the zone in-game.

WoW devs discuss environment and zone design

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Dev Diaries

World of Warcraft senior art director Chris Robinson has penned a new dev blog focused on zone and environmental design. It's the first of a planned series that will use Nagrand as its primary example, and over the coming days you'll be hearing from additional quest and systems designers and even historians who "craft and create not only the zones we adventure in, but the visual story about these locations and the creatures and races that inhabit them."

World of Warcraft commercials are raiding your TV

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Promotions, Subscription

WoW
Blizzard is ramping up its Warlords of Draenor hype with a new series of World of Warcraft commercials aimed squarely at television viewers. The brief clips -- Grommash Death Stare, Bond of Iron, Iron Horde, and Conquerors -- evoke more Lord of the Rings than the WoW we all know. No gameplay is shown, though there's a sliver of an in-game level-up animation for a human. Spoiler: lots of orcs!

Anyone see any of these on TV yet? Enjoy all four commercials below.

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World of Warcraft gives behind-the-scenes tour of animated series

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Lore, Dev Diaries, Subscription

Blizzard has been paving the way for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor with its recent animated miniseries, Lords of War. If you found that series particularly, erm, enThralling, then the devs have a treat for you. The team posted two behind-the-scenes videos talking about the story and art of the series, respectively, which you can watch after the jump!

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WoW Archivist: Patch 3.0, Echoes of Doom

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Patch 3.0.2 official poster
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on October 23rd, 2014, and is included here by permission.

Patch 6.0 is finally upon us. Like all pre-expansion patches, it has been both invigorating and chaotic. Almost exactly six years ago, a similar patch went live to begin a new era in WoW. Blizzard called Wrath of the Lich King's pre-expansion patch "Echoes of Doom." On October 14, 2008, this third version of the game gave us the brand-new achievement system, inscription and glyphs, 51-point talent trees, the zombie plague event, and TO THE GROUND, BABY. Read on to see what WoW was like for those turbulent few weeks before Wrath of the Lich King's launch.

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Perfect Ten: My World of Warcraft launch memories

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Perfect Ten, Subscription

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I'm really not a big fan of those constant reminders from the media as to how much time has gone by using pop culture as reference points. I'm really not. So I kind of hate myself for saying this, but friends, next month will be World of Warcraft's 10th anniversary! Ten years! How old are we now!

Back in November of 2004, I was a wide-eyed 28-year-old bachelor who had just met his future wife and was generally leery about MMOs to date. Now I'm a grizzled 38-year-old journalist, father of three, and veteran of more MMOs than I can count (because I cannot count past 22). A decade can contain so much history, especially when looked back all at once.

I played World of Warcraft for many years, and while most of the memories have faded and merged together in a technicolor morass, there are a few vivid recollections of the launch period that stir emotions in me even today. Ten years, 10 launch memories. I think that's appropriate.

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World of Warcraft gives a week of free game time to lapsed players

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Promotions, Subscription

mists
If you're a former World of Warcraft player who's been away from the game for a while, you might want to check your account for a nice surprise. Blizzard has activated a free seven-day pass to the game for all lapsed players. This pass includes all of the content up through Mists of Pandaria.

World of Warcraft is also throwing a 25% off sale for its extra services, including character transfers, faction changes, guild transfers, and (you guessed it) guild faction changes.

The Think Tank: What will MMOs look like a decade from now?

World of Warcraft, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

WoW
A reader in my Working As Intended column last week penned this thought-provoking gem:
"I have no idea what games will look like say in 10 years time. I am sure some of these current games will still be going and doing well because of the investment of those playing them now. What new stuff will be coming out then, I have no idea, especially as the 'Minecraft generation' gets older."
What will the Minecraft generation make of World of Warcraft? What will MMOs look like in 10 years? These are the questions I asked Massively's writers in today's Think Tank.

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World of Warcraft to relocate Oceanic servers to Aussie data center

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items

WoW
Blizzard has just announced a new Australian server infrastructure for World of Warcraft, deploying ahead of the release of Warlords of Draenor in November. The existing Oceanic servers (Barthilas, Frostmourne, Thaurissan, Saurfang, Caelestrasz, Jubei'Thos, Khaz'goroth, Aman'Thul, Nagrand, Dath'Remar, Dreadmaul, and Gundrak) will physically move to a new Australian data center, ensuring reduced latency for players down under. Aussie and Kiwi players currently housed on North American shards will be granted free but optional character transfers and guild master realm transfers in the two weeks leading up to Draenor; Blizzard assures Oceanic players that LFG and PvP pools and queue times won't suffer unduly as a result.

In other WoW news, PC Gamer has a new interview with lead encounter designer Ion Hazzikostas, in which he discusses the "obstacles" facing aging games, the dilemma of graphics upgrades, and the non-Blizzard MMOs he enjoys. When asked about subscription models across the industry, Hazzikostas reiterated that subs still make sense for WoW: "We deliver high value for the monthly subscription because it allows us to provide a steady stream of content, and we don't have any plans to move away from that any time soon."

World of Warcraft previews the creatures of Gorgrond

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

Hello, I'm more interesting than orcs.
Draenor is not the same as Azeroth. Sure, the release of Warlords of Draenor will bring the heroes of Azeroth into a lush and vibrant version of Draenor, but World of Warcraft players will have to deal with creatures that most decidedly do not exist on Azeroth. Case in point: The preview of the creatures who inhabit Gorgrond shows off sentient plants and stones that have stood and wage war against one another on the steppes and in the jungles of the region.

The Botani are a race of sapient plants that wage war against the Gronn, the Goren, and their minions. They revere their walking demigods, the Genesaurs, and they are more than capable of gestating the seeds of their offspring in living hosts to produce shambling beasts called the Infected. Take a look at the full preview for more lore details, and get ready to sharpen your sword against a hostile plant-person when Warlords of Draenor releases.

Metallica will rock out at BlizzCon 2014

World of Warcraft, Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Promotions, Miscellaneous

MetallicaImagine that you're a big-name game developer with a pile of money and millions of fans to impress at your yearly convention. Would you hire your favorite band from your youth to play a custom gig? Hell yeah you would! And so would Blizzard, which is why the studio's just announced that Metallica will be performing at BlizzCon next month. It's the perfect band to listen to while riding around on your Azeroth Chopper and playing your Orc.

"We're thrilled to announce that Metallica will be performing the closing concert at BlizzCon 2014, playing before a sold-out convention crowd on the night of November 8!" Blizzard gushed in its announcement post earlier today. "If you didn't score tickets to the show, don't worry -- you can still get a front-row seat from home with the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket."

Hey, at least it's not Blink-182.

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