fbpx
Menu Close

WoD Enters Friends and Family Alpha Testing!

The moment is finally here! Warlords of Draenor has entered Friends and Family Alpha testing! Not only that but in the announcement blizzard has declared we should be getting more information in the near future!

Quote from: Blizzard

We’ve been hard at work on World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor™, and today we’ve entered the Alpha phase of our expansion testing. As part of this, we’ll begin using public servers to host the data, which means you may begin seeing some datamined information show up in the usual places.One of our goals for this very early stage of the Alpha is to test out some new technology in the wild with employees and friends and family, including a new file format called CASC (more on that below). As such, the expansion content available during this first phase will be quite limited—many of the expansion’s major features, such as Garrisons, won’t be available until a later point in the testing process. This early phase of testing will help us ramp up for our larger beta phase later on, when we’ll be inviting more players.

Introducing Our New File Format: CASC

For nearly 20 years, Blizzard games have used a file format called Mo’PaQ (MPQ for short) as a way to compress and store game files. We’ve been able to introduce some great new technology using MPQ, such as our streaming client, but we’ve really pushed the file format far beyond what it was ever intended to be used for. Today, it’s become the source of a number of technical limitations for World of Warcraft.To address these limitation and help us develop new technologies that will improve everyone’s game experience for years to come, we’re introducing a new proprietary file format that we call CASC (Content Addressable Storage Container). We’ll be using this new format in the Warlords of Draenor alpha and beta tests, and our intent is to convert everyone to the new format in a pre-expansion patch.

As geeky as it may sound, we’re extremely excited to be moving to this new file format. It provides a ton of benefits not only for us and our ability to support and patch the game, but also for players. Here are just a few of the benefits of the new CASC file format:

  • File Corruption—File repair tools are a thing of the past. The file structure maintains itself, helping to prevent errors during installation.
  • Speed—Real-world game performance should increase for many players thanks to a non-redundant file structure—in layman’s terms, the game can find the assets it’s looking for more quickly.
  • Patching—Updating your game files should be faster and more reliable. Patch data is integrated seamlessly, and no longer requires double the installation size on-disk when patching.
  • Client Hotfixing—CASC allows us to be able to hotfix client game data, similar to server hotfixes, giving us the ability to address client-side issues that would normally require a patch.
  • Streaming—The new format provides better support for streaming data and gives us greater flexibility to define how content updates are delivered and released.
  • Expandable—The file structure is built to allow easy integration of new technologies in the future that we haven’t even thought up yet.
  • . . . and more!

We’re already using this file format for Heroes of the Storm’s Technical Alpha test, and we’re looking forward to reaping its benefits for WoW. As we mentioned, the first big step in transitioning all WoW players over will be converting everyone’s World of Warcraft installs to the new file format prior to the expansion. Our goal is to make sure that’s as seamless and painless a changeover as possible, using as much of the existing installed data as possible to reduce additional downloads. We’ll have more info on the file conversion process as we get closer to the launch of Warlords of Draenor.

Signing Up for Beta
We’re still early in the Alpha testing process, but if you’re interested in opting in for a chance to participate in the Warlords of Draenor beta test later down the line, let us know you’re interested by creating a beta profile. To do so, log in to your Battle.net® account, go to Beta Profile Settings to download and run the Battle.net System Check tool, and submit (or update) your computer’s specifications. From the Beta Profile menu, make sure that Warcraft is checked, and update your beta preferences. You’re now eligible to be randomly selected for a Warlords of Draenor beta invite at a later stage of the testing process.

Account Security Reminder
As interest grows for the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, please be aware of phishing attempts. Unscrupulous individuals (possibly working for the Iron Horde) may send out falsified emails purporting to be from Blizzard, but are in fact meant to steal your login credentials. For more information on how to identify these emails please refer to our Battle.net® Account Security site.

Stay tuned for more information as development and testing progresses for Warlords of Draenor™. This is just the beginning and we’ll have more information to share with you in the near future!

Hearthstone Ipad version is being rolled out!

With the first official Hearthstone Season starting, the iPad version is being released as well.  It’s currently available in New Zealand, Canada and Australia, and will be released in other parts of the world soon.

Quote from: Blizzard

The Hearthstone iPad rollout begins: today, we’ve launched Hearthstone for iPad in Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, with other regions around the world to follow soon!The iPad version of Hearthstone brings all of the features and excitement of deck-building and dueling your friends that’s currently available for PC right to your fingertips. Wherever you have an Internet connection, you can log in to Hearthstone and amass your card collection, play a friendly game or two against your buddies, or test your skills in Play or Arena mode!

Your Hearthstone collection and data is shared across all devices, so if you’re playing from your PC or Mac at home, you won’t miss a beat when you take Hearthstone on the go with the iPad!

Launching Hearthstone in a limited set of countries allows us to focus on the end-to-end player experience and make sure it’s awesome before we move on to the rest of the world. If you don’t live in Australia, Canada, or New Zealand, you don’t have much longer to wait to get your hands on Hearthstone for iPad—Murloc Scout’s honor.

Keep an eye on playhearthstone.com, Hearthstone on Facebook, and Hearthstone on Twitter for the latest news and rollout updates!

April Fools 2014 Blizzard Roundup

Today was the first of April, which means Blizzard has once again come up with some “news”. Here’s the roundup!

World of Warcraft:

Quote from: Blizzard

Welcome to Artcraft! I’m Chris Robinson, senior art director for World of Warcraft, and today we’ll be discussing the revamp of the female Draenei model. In this blog, we’ll touch on how we approached this redesign, show before and after images, and talk about our art process with this particular model.


When we first discussed throwing away the old model and making a new female Draenei from scratch, one topic that kept coming up was the connection between the Lost Ones and the Draenei; visually, there wasn’t one. We wanted to help a player understand, more viscerally, the connection between the Lost Ones, and their seemingly perfect cousins—the Draenei. Ready to challenge long-standing design conceits, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Lead Character artist Tyson Murphy explains: “The original model was never very popular among players, and while certainly there are the few who dearly love playing a female Draenei, we felt like we needed to start over. The best way for us to do that was pretty clear from the start: rely on the lore. I wanted to create a new face that got across the idea that this was someone you know, the proverbial “blue space demon next-door”, while playing up her connection to the Lost Ones. We brought out her eyes, created a more natural “Lost Ones” jaw line, brought her waistline in to more realistic proportions, and took the hairline up to create some visual parity with the male designs.


Lead Animator Steve Aguilar:
A lot of what we try to accomplish with art in the game is to tell a visual story through the textures, props, and animation, giving you a sense of what something is without having to outright explain it through text or voice. Most people forget that the original Draenei survivors on the Exodar came from one specific mountain family clan, and the Draenei female you know and love was actually conceived en route to Azeroth. We wanted to rough up her edges a bit, and tell a story that has been told many times before—the story of a rebellious young girl cooped up on her family’s floating crystal ship that’s just crashed on a fantastical planet. When you get your hands on Warlords of Draenor, be sure to take a look at some of the unique emotes the animation team has created for her. Some of my favorites are: /twerk, /ew, /chewgum, and /whatever. Also keep in mind that the models shown here are using a temporary pose, which may make her appear more animated and lively than she will in the final product.


Character Artist Dusty Nolting adds:
The Draenei, like all of the game’s races except the humans, are essentially anthropomorphic representations of animals, so a lot of care went into conveying that. Playing up the capra-like slender reverse-ankle and hoof, and adding tasteful amounts of fur, were both changes players have been asking for since Burning Crusade. We also know a lot of you have been requesting full “back side” shots to properly compare the before and after. Hopefully this helps!

That’s all we have for the female Draenei right now. We hope you continue to enjoy this series as we invite you to meet the team, get insight into our development process, and sneak early looks at some of the art we’re creating for Warlords of Draenor.

See you next time!

Other links:

Heroes of the Storm

The new hero Pajamathur was presented today. You can check out his amazing abilities and other details here. Let’s hope this will become a Abathur skin!

Starcraft II

Quote from: Blizzard

Throughout our history, we’ve sought to bring epic experiences to gamers around the world. StarCraft II has seen Jim Raynor, Sarah Kerrigan, and Zeratul as the focal points of epic adventures across the universe. As we move toward our third chapter for StarCraft II, we’ve come to feel that a fresh approach is needed to keep the experience as immersive as possible. Accordingly, we’ve decided to realign the focus of the Protoss story to reveal this mysterious race in all its power and glory. Therefore, we’re happy to announce that the next expansion will feature the Protoss story through the eyes of Artanis, the Hierarch of the sage Templar, and it will be titled StarCraft II: Herald of the Stars.

Herald of the Stars will feature a revolutionary non-linear campaign. It can be played backwards, forwards, with any mission in any order, or not played at all, while still delivering the exact same life-affirming storyline.

Writers James Waugh and Justin Dye said,

“We don’t want to give away too many details of the plot at this point, but rest assured we will answer the important questions you’ve always wanted to know about the Protoss, and we plan to do so in excruciatingly specific detail. “What do they eat?” “How do they breathe?” “Do they breathe?” “Hold on – they surely breathe, or how do they oxygenate their blood?” “You know what, I’m sorry I asked about the whole breathing thing… this is going massively off-track.””

New weapons! New units! New armors! New hairstyles on the Stalkers! Customize the color of your lasers so long as you’re okay with 10 different shades of blue! A dance editor? Yes. Sure! A dance editor!

Will Artanis save all of the multiverses from utter annihilation? It’s up to you and all of the other Twitch viewers who are in chat at the time!

While the motivation for this change ultimately stems from our desire create the most epic gaming experiences ever, there’s more behind this decision. As you might expect, Blizzard Entertainment is constantly researching the aspects of our games that our community of players enjoy. One thing that has unexpectedly come to our attention is our audience’s love for the acronym HotS. With recent successful titles Heart of the Swarm, Heroes of the Storm, and Hearth (of the) Stone, we took notice of players’ absolute love for this particular string of letters. This caused us to reconsider everything, and the results were nothing short of spectacular.

Long-time Blizzard Head of Trend Studies Jack Sterling said,

“At Blizzard, we constantly strive for optimization. Over the last few years, through deep market analysis, ethnographic study, and highly advanced acoustic research, we have come to scientifically prove that the player community prefers games with titles that form the following acronym: HotS. We were amazed. It’s quite unexpected. For some reason, people just synergize with the acronym HotS. In one study, 87% of respondents choose the HotS acronym over another random video game acronym. People seem to like how easy it is to say, how attractive they feel when saying it, and the sudden rise in body temperature associated with such an impactful acronym. Other than that, it’s baffling, but it’s awesome at the same time!”

Senior Game Designer David Kim also voiced his excitement about the new name.

“From a design perspective, we want to create new and exciting experiences for our players, while making it as easy as possible for new or returning players to try the game out. HotS is a well-known name at this point with lots of awareness in the gaming community. Switching over to an entirely new acronym for our next expansion creates an entry-barrier that just felt unnecessary. When players upgrade from HotS to HotS, that transition will be as smooth as possible!”

Senior Game Producer Hony Tsu had this to say about HotS:

“Developing the StarCraft II franchise puts a lot of responsibility on us at Blizzard. There were many creative hurdles between Heart of the Swarm and Legacy of the Void, and we just love the acronym HotS. We’ve spent so many hours of time searching for names in the past. In fact, more than half of the time we spend in development is on hair-brained, outlandish, theory-crafted suggestions from random co-workers. With Herald of the Stars, our team saves not only frustration and time, but we get to hold on to superior acronyms. It’s hard, on the spot data that can’t be contested. HotS is like a … hug of the soul. HotS will hugely overhaul the sacred naming conventions of our games. I just realized that thanks to my name – Hony Tsu – my e-mail address is [email protected] That just makes heaps of total sense.”

Check out our new Herald of the Stars website here, and perhaps you, too, will come to hope our triumphant success in naming leads to great things

Diablo III

For D3 blizzard released their own flappy bird game! Happy Reaper! You can play it here.

Podcast Episode 27 404 WoD Beta Not Found

It’s Saturday again, technical issues have been solved so it’s time for a new podcast! This week we talked about history of WoW Beta’s and their starting times, the changes to cross realming Siege of Orgrimmar and why do we still play World of Warcraft?

Siege of Orgrimmar Normal And Heroic Now Possible Cross-Realm

In a rather unexpected move blizard has now allowed players to group up for Siege of Orgrimmar Normal and Heroic crossrealm! This change is already live in the US and should go live in the other regions in the next few days.

Quote from: Blizzard
We’ve recently implemented an often requested feature to enable cross-realm raiding for Siege of Orgrimmar. Cross-realm BattleTag™ and Real ID friends can now raid together and take the fight to Garrosh on Normal or Heroic difficulty. Players will be able to earn greater rewards such as Reins of the Kor’kron War Wolf or the title of Conqueror/Liberator of Orgrimmar; both of which aren’t available to be earned within Flexible or Raid Finder difficulty.

This change is currently live.

Ion Hazzikostas (Watcher) clarified a few things:

Quote from: Blizzard
Current-tier Mythic raiding in Warlords will still be limited to players from a single server. In the meantime, though, this change may help guilds that are trying to recruit and grow in preparation for Mythic raiding.

As for realm firsts, realm firsts are guild achievements; you need to be in a guild group, which is by definition 8/10 or 20/25 members coming from a single guild on a single server. You could theoretically have a couple of guests from a different server and still claim the realm first, but ultimately 80% of the group still has to be from the same guild.