See Project Legion

WoW Factor: A decade of Blizzard’s bad habits

The funny thing about World of Warcraft – and I should note here that I’m using “funny” in this case as a synonym for “odd” rather than “hilarious” – is that the game has been around long enough to make a lot of design mistakes, fix those mistakes, and then make those same design mistakes again. I find the overall thrust of patch 6.2.3 kind of baffling, since it’s bringing back a currency that should not have been removed in the first place for a purpose that almost no one liked, and hoping that this will get people to stick with the game for the lengthy gap until Legion arrives.

Ultimately, though, it’s a symptom of some issues that the game has had for a while, a longstanding set of bad habits that have an awkward tendency to stick around long after it should be obvious that these are bad ideas. So just to change things up with the game’s next expansion, perhaps it’s time to look at some bad habits the game has long been guilty of and actually address them rather than just assuming they don’t really matter.
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BlizzCon posts its two-day event schedule

BlizzCon 2015 is less than a month away, and fans of World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Hearthstone, StarCraft II, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm have much to look forward to when the convention opens.

To help you suss out what might be revealed and what will be discussed during the two-day event, there’s the new convention schedule, which covers both Friday and Saturday’s panels, tournaments, and activities.

As might be expected, there are several panels scheduled to discuss World of Warcraft: Legion, including those discussing game systems, cinematics, the new zones, and the expansion’s dungeons. Fans who weren’t able to snag a ticket or head out to California for the convention can attend via a virtual ticket for $40.


Global Chat: Why is Blizzard so sluggish?

World of Warcraft: Legion and Blizzard’s recent decisions were at the forefront of a couple of recent MMO blog posts as of late, their authors noting how the studio cannot easily react to community objections or bad development choices.

Alternative Chat used the issue of Rogues protesting the lack of Ravenholdt as their class base to show that the studio can’t adjust on the fly: “What’s abundantly apparent however is that Blizzard isn’t for turning. This is not up for discussion. The problem here is that this makes [the] objection seem completely redundant, and that’s just wrong.”

Gamer By Design followed that post up by talking about why Blizzard lacks the ability to turn quickly: “Having a deep pipeline means less downtime due to waiting on others; you’re almost always busy, which is good from a financial and throughput perspective. But having a deep pipeline also means you’re very much not agile.”

Marching on with today’s round-up of community blog posts, we have a loving retrospective of Lord of the Rings Online, a debate about factions, a look at in-game holidays, and more!

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WoW Factor: A wishlist for World of Warcraft’s Legion expansion

We’re going to find out a lot about World of Warcraft: Legion in November. Not just because I expect that’ll be around the time we get our beta announcement and date, which may even be as soon as BlizzCon ends; we’ll just be told a lot while we’re there. We’re going to just be learning a lot of design goals and ideas from the panels and what-not whilst we’re there. And that, I think, is a good thing. It’s so something we already need, but you know, I already wrote that column.

So I have a little more than a month before I find out all of the things I want that I’m not getting. And while I’ve spent the past several weeks listing some of the things that I’m looking forward to seeing from the game’s next expansion as examinations of larger topics, let’s talk a little bit about the stuff that I’d really like to see from the expansion that I’m also not expecting to actually see happen.

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WoW Factor: Between now and Legion

I’m going to be very surprised if we see World of WarcraftLegion before June 2016. The odds are good that a beta announcement is coming in November, and roughly seven months of beta seems fairly normal. I certainly wouldn’t push the beta any lower than four months, which would give us a launch in March at the absolute earliest. This means that even in our most unrealistic scenario, we’re looking at a content gap of nine months.

More likely, a year. At least.

Yes, I’m aware that we’ve been told there’s more work already done on Legion, but we’ve heard that during every single World of Warcraft expansion announcement, and it has yet to mean much. So after an expansion that didn’t exactly fill anyone’s heart with joy, we’re facing down an almost identical gap in terms of content, only this time it’s coming after an expansion that lasted for only a patch and a half.

So here’s what Blizzard needs to do between now and then.

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Here are a ton of tidbits about World of Warcraft: Legion

You’ve got questions about World of Warcraft: Legion. Of course you do. And Blizzard knows that it’s got you on the hook, which is why the studio is going to make you anticipate every drip and drop of information about the upcoming expansion.

Or you could take a shortcut and drink straight from the news hose. Wowhead compiled several tweets covering Blizzard’s presentation at the recent Dragon*Con, delivering the good word to awaiting fans. First on the slate is the hotly anticipated Demon Hunter class, which starts at level 98, uses one-handed swords and glaives, and has a temporary metamorphosis form akin to the Warlock’s.

Other subjects discussed include stat changes, crafting updates, a possible account-wide transmog system, adventure mode, and changes to class specs. Druids will rejoice to hear that Moonkin forms are slated to get a high-resolution model update with the expansion.

Source: Wowhead. Thanks to Omedon for the tip!


World of Warcraft welcomes players back to the skies

It’s been a good while since World of Warcraft players have been able to fly in high-level zones, but as of today the skies are the limit for Warlords of Draenor pilots.

Patch 6.2.2 turns on flight for players who have achieved the account-wide Draenor Pathfinder achievement. Flying wasn’t always assured for Draenor, as Blizzard flirted with the idea of keeping it turned off entirely, only to backtrack after significant player backlash. Flight is also scheduled to be included in the upcoming Legion expansion.

Today’s patch also includes the new PvP mercenary mode, a longer period of time for bonus events, and new badges and rewards for Timewalking dungeons. Blizzard Watch has a handy guide of what to do in the update.


WoW Factor: Wild guessing about Demon Hunters

So what’s the deal with World of Warcraft’s Demon Hunter? We just don’t know yet. But the space to speculate is pretty awesome.

I mentioned in my last column that in some ways, Legion feels like an expansion that should have been launched back in the post-Wrath of the Lich King space. Certainly the design elements seem a little odd, bringing in a lot of bits and pieces that had all but vanished from the game since that much-loved expansion was done with. There’s speculation to be done there, but the more immediate speculation is about the game’s second Hero Class and what it means for the game as a whole.

We don’t know yet how the class will play in any detail; we know a handful of abilities, we have some idea of the class resource (but not its real mechanics), and we know that in all likelihood they’re going to just be carting around a specialized weapon for the whole expansion because of the Artifact system. But we can still make some guesses based on that.

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Gamescom 2015: More details on World of Warcraft: Legion

It’s only been a day since the announcement of World of Warcraft: Legion, but fans are already eager to learn more about the expansion. Fan site Icy Veins was able to get a quick interview with the developers that reveals a few more interesting details on the expansion as a whole, from the new Demon Hunter class to mechanics that weren’t discussed during the presentation yesterday.

Artifacts are confirmed to be the only weapons players will get during the expansion, with no weapon drops in Legion; however, each Artifact will have Relic slots that improve the weapon’s stats and DPS. Demon Hunters, as a result, will wind up with just one type of unique weapon being used throughout the expansion, the Glaive. Professions are also being adjusted in depth for the expansion, with the designers acknowledging that Warlords of Draenor underutilized the profession systems. Check out the full interview for more tidbits about the new direction for the game.

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WoW Factor: Analyzing Legion with a critical eye

All right, let me just say for the record that when it comes to this expansion, my speculation last week was meant as just that. But it turns out that I was right on the money, that this was all ramping up as a reminder that the Legion exists, and now we’re going to be storming the beaches quite literally with our new Demon Hunter pals to kick some demons up and down the block like an old, familiar can.

Or whatever you kick up and down the block. I don’t know what your deal is. You do your thing, my friends; I do not judge you in the least.

I said last time that I was rather doubtful of what we’d see with this expansion announcement, and now we’ve seen what World of Warcraft has to offer. So now we get to analyze, speculate, and think about what this means for the next several months. Let’s get on that, shall we?

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World of Warcraft announces Legion expansion with Demon Hunter class, Broken Isles continent; beta this year

The liveblog is after the cut. Here are the highlights!

Blizzard has just announced World of Warcraft’s next expansion: Legion. Blizzard’s Tom Chilton says that the initial video is “connecting tissue” between Warlords of Draenor and the next expansion. It shows Gul’dan is setting up the events in the next expansion. Spoilers: It’s Illidan. Here’s what the trailer and presentation promises for Legion:

  • New continent: Broken Isles
  • New Demon Hunter class for Night Elves and Blood Elves with a unique experience akin to the Death Knight’s; it has two specs, one for DPS and one for tanking
  • Raised level to 110
  • New dungeons and raids
  • New PvP honor system with a PvP talent tree of sorts that reduces levels’ importance in PvP (it’s a bit like GW2 or FFXIV)
  • Artifact weapons (it’s like LotRO’s LIs + an awesome customization tree), along with weapon visual customization
  • Class “order halls”
  • The “biggest demonic invasion of Azeroth ever”
  • Titans are involved; so is the Emerald Dream (but it’s a raid)
  • Dalaran is coming back as the main hub (hell yeah!)
  • Beta begins this year! No release date was given.
  • The official site will be here: http://us.battle.net/wow/legion/

Blizzard promises that the lore lead-up to the new expansion will take place in the game prior to its launch. Eliot’s whole liveblog with more info is down in the comments!
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CCP Games buys back $20m in bonds, drops Legion trademark

News is circulating in the EVE Online blogs and forum that developer CCP Games has just bought back $20 million in publicly traded bonds. The bonds were sold to the public back in 2013 and required the company to publish detailed financial accounts each year for investors to see. Now that the bonds have been bought back, CCP no longer has to report its financials publicly. The move has led to widespread speculation on exactly where CCP got the funds to buy back its bonds, though it may have simply found cheaper finance elsewhere. Adding fuel to the speculation is the fact that CCP has also recently removed its trademark on EVE Legion.

Blog The Nosy Gamer has put together a fascinating rundown of how the bonds came to exist and some speculation on what this move means for CCP as a company. The debt seems to originate from the time of the 2011 Monoclegate scandal, when CCP was pressed for cash and an $11.8 million US loan was due for repayment. The company managed to secure a long-term loan with Silicon Valley Bank to cover the repayment, and from then on it owed $20 million to that bank. A total of $20 million in bonds were then created in July 2012 and listed publicly on the Icelandic NASDAQ exchange the following year. The Nosy Gamer speculates that CCP may have a large new investor, perhaps due in part to its impressive focus on VR at EVE Fanfest 2015.


EVE Fanfest 2015: Project Legion may be in development limbo

At last year’s EVE Online Fanfest, developer CCP Games announced Project Legion, a complete reimagining of failed console MMOFPS DUST 514 for the PC. DUST launched on PS3 back in 2013 to a lacklustre reception, failing to meet the company’s goals of drawing millions of console gamers into the universe of EVE Online. A potential relaunch on PC with revamped gameplay had some EVE players excited at last year’s fanfest, but this year CCP has been oddly silent on the title.

Yesterday’s keynote speech at EVE Fanfest 2015 mentioned Legion only in passing by CEO Hilmar, who said there was “nothing to report on it” but that devs are still “exploring in that area.” Questions about Legion have been met with fairly universal silence throughout the event, and the message now is that development efforts are continuing on DUST 514. Jeremy Peel over at PC Games N spoke with CCP’s Shanghai office managing director Jean-Charles Gaudechon today and managed to tease a little more information out of him on the current state of Legion and DUST 514.

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