blizzard entertainment

Major gaming studio, responsible for World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise, Diablo III and the Diablo franchise, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch.

The Game Archaeologist: Kesmai’s Air Warrior and Legends of Kesmai

Most studios would be overjoyed to have pioneered one significant advancement in video game history, but then again, most studios aren’t Kesmai. While it’s not a household name today, it’s reasonable to say that without the heavy lifting and backbreaking coding that this company shouldered in the ’80s and ’90s, the MMO genre would’ve turned out very different indeed.

Previously in this space, we met two enterprising designers named Kelton Flinn and John Taylor who recognized that multiplayer was the name of the future and put their careers on the line to see an idea through to completion. That idea was Island of Kesmai, an ancestor of the modern MMO that used crude ASCII graphics and CompuServe’s network to provide an interactive, cooperative online roleplaying experience. It wasn’t the first MMO, but it was the first one published commercially, and sometimes that makes all the difference.

Flinn and Taylor’s Kesmai didn’t stop with being the first to bring MMOs to the big time, however. Flush with cash and success, Kesmai turned its attention to the next big multiplayer challenge: 3-D graphics and real-time combat. Unlike the fantasy land of Island of Kesmai, this title would take to the skies in aerial dogfighting and prove even more popular than the team’s previous project.

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WoW Factor: World of Warcraft’s Battle for Azeroth feels like Cataclysm all over again

It took me a long time to identify what felt off about World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion. Something was definitely bothering me, but the thing was is that we know exactly what an expansion with the bare minimum effort looks like now, and it sure as heck didn’t feel like Battle for Azeroth was Warlords of Draenor But Again. Yet something kept nudging at me, some comparison that was just slightly eluding me as I dutifully tested new quests, new system revisions, and so forth.

Then I realized that the whole thing was basically Cataclysm and it clicked.

Mind you, I say this not as an indication that the expansion is nearly as bad as Cataclysm was. (There’s still far too much of the actual game to see, for example.) But far from my own optimistic excitement, it feels like the expansion is making a lot of the same missteps as that particular black mark, and it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.
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World of Warcraft Hunters launch #SaveHati campaign

With this week’s World of Warcraft pre-expansion patch, Blizzard has made one group of players deeply unhappy by putting down their pet dog.

Some — but not all — Beast Master Hunters are mourning the loss of their Legion companion Hati, who disappeared with the de-powering of their artifact weapon. Players who had grown attached to the blue pet over the past two years have taken umbrage with the studio for callously stripping it away with Patch 8.0, and the BM community has rallied together to launch a #SaveHati campaign on the forums and Twitter.

“For many hunters Hati is a person, a friend, a companion who has been part of our story for months. Years?” one player posted. “To many hunters, pets are more than just a weapon. To me, Hati is a full-blown character who is tightly bonded to my hunter,” said another.

Blizzard fielded a question on Hati during this week’s livestream, teasing the possibility of the pet’s return in some form in the future — but no plans and no promises were made in this regard.

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Massively Overthinking: What important lessons are MMORPGs failing to impart?

MOP reader and Patron Brett has a burning question about the lessons we’re learning (and not learning) from playing MMORPGs.

“In his book Theory of Fun, Raph Koster suggests that games are really just systems of learning things in a way that we enjoy with fewer consequences. In his words, ‘That’s what games are, in the end. Teachers. Fun is just another word for learning.’ If that’s true, then modern MMORPGs and their narratives would seem to be a pretty mixed bag of lessons – individual power can be accumulated like wealth; evil can be conquered through solo and group acts of courage; violence is a feasible solution to almost every problem; your race, nation or profession defines a lot about who you are; and accessorizing with the most expensive bag is possibly the most crucial decision to make before leaving home.

“So with so much opportunity at the moment for our real-world societies and communities to be better, I’d like to know what you think is the most important lesson or lessons that MMORPGs could be teaching us, but currently don’t? How could these games leave us wiser or more richer people for the experience?”

I’ve posed Brett’s questions to the team for the resurgence of Massively Overthinking this week.

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World of Warcraft answers pressing prepatch questions in its latest video Q&A

The prepatch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is out now, but the expansion is still a bit further off, so players have questions about it. For that matter, players have questions about the changes made since the prepatch hit. The latest Q&A video just below covers a number of questions, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you can get caught up with the summary of events. And several of the issues with the prepatch are ones that will be remaining in place. For example, Legacy loot mode? That’s working as intended and shouldn’t be available for Legion dungeons and raids in BfA.

The issue with artifact appearances changing your offhand as well as your main-hand is also a limitation of how Artifacts are coded; that having been said, transmog limitations are being examined, especially for Fist weapons. The developers have also considered doing a level squish instead of just a stat squish, partly in response to the perception of more levels without much actually happening during them (there’s a desire not to add more talent bars, for example). Check out the full video below or the full summary on Wowhead.

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Overwatch is performing a little surgery on its healers and planning another free PC weekend

Healers are important in Overwatch, but they also have the potential to get out of hand. Sure, it’s good to be able to patch up your teammates, but it’s not fun to play a match where you can’t actually damage the other team; at the same time, it’s not fun to play as a healer and watch your options be “slightly slow down team deaths.” In order to avoid these hypothetical scenarios, Blizzard is adjusting most of the game’s support heroes in the next patch.

Ana’s ultimate will get a healing component, Lucio gets additional shields and range, and Moira gets additional resource regeneration, all of which should help cover blind spots in these character toolkits. By contrast, Brigitte’s Shield Bash is getting its cooldown increased and Mercy is having her healing beam very slightly lowered in potency, which already has people on the forums happily explaining that Mercy is now completely useless. (Which has happened with every Mercy adjustment ever.) Check out the exact numbers and developer philosophy on the forum thread.

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Temtem discusses Kickstarter backer rewards, November PC alpha, and 2019 early access

If you backed Temtem’s successful Kickstarter, now is the time to collect at least some of your rewards. Spanish developer Crema has posted up detailed instructions on how to access the super secret Discord channels in a new Kickstarter update, though the rest will roll out depending on which platform you’ve picked. PC alpha, for example, is expected to begin in November; the early access is slated for September of next year. In-game rewards will roll out during that phase rather than alpha.

Temtem fully funded on Kickstarter back at the start of July; over 11,000 backers pledged $573,939 to make the game and all of its stretch goals happen, making it the biggest MMO Kickstarter of the year to date. As we’ve previously covered, the game is a bit of a Pokemon lookalike and calls itself more of a “massively multiplayer creature-collection adventure” than a WoW clone with raids. “The core idea behind Temtem is to build a classic adventure game with a focus on the story campaign, but with online elements added around it (seeing other people online, interacting with them to battle, trade, or just to talk and share experiences),” Crema says.

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Perfect Ten: Endless dungeons in MMOs

Most MMO dungeons are normal songs. You start out and you have a pretty clear picture of the beginning, middle, and end; they don’t really change up much. But the endless dungeon is like improvisational jazz. Sure, there’s a beginning and often a fairly reliable end, but the space in the middle can be filled with all sorts of things. You don’t even know what’s going to be there until you’re already in the thick of it. It could be filled with creme! (Probably not, but hey, life is weird sometimes.)

Our reader Arsin asked us a while back about MMOs with endless dungeon modes of some sort, and well, we do our best to find these things out. The goal here is to have an online-only game with randomly generated content between the start and end. Arguably some of these might not fit your personal criteria, but that’s all right; there’s plenty of variety here!

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World of Warcraft’s pre-expansion patch has a rough start as Blizzard levies bans and grants past content to subbers

The rollout of yesterday’s pre-expansion patch for World of Warcraft could have gone smoother. Much, much smoother. During the day, many players were completely unable to log in, and the problem reportedly popped up on Overwatch’s servers as well. While progress seems to have been made toward fixing the issue, Blizzard did take its Communities feature offline to improve stability.

Of greater concern for certain players is the fact that Blizzard is lowering the boom against players using certain cloud gaming services. Multiple users have reported that suspensions and even bans have been levied for those who have used cloud services to stream the game and play it remotely.

“If you are still using cloud gaming services for WoW, I recommend stopping now until Blizzard stops being anti-consumer about it,” said one Reddit player. “This is a real blow for my gaming for a while, as I don’t have the cash to buy hardware to play anymore at the level I was on my cloud machine.”

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Overwatch’s Hamster hero hits next week

We’re going to bet that a literal hamster ball (albeit a well-armed ball) as a hero is going to divide the Overwatch community. That’s to be expected, but if you’re on board with Wrecking Ball — a genetically-enhanced hamster who crafted his own battle mech — then you’re going to be counting the days until he arrives next week on July 24th.

Wrecking Ball may be small, furry, and oh-so-adorable, but he is also packing a punch. His mech includes quad cannons, a grappling claw, mines, and shields. If that’s not enough, W.B. can roll over or slam into his competition.

Hamster or no, Overwatch is happy that its recent endorsement system and looking for group feature has proved to be major hits for the team shooter. According to VG247, chat abuse is way down, as much as 26.4% less in the Americas than it used to be.

Source: Overwatch, VG247

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 178: #womenarecosmetic

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin mull over how necessary it is to actually provide MMOs with those icky, wonderful girlie-types. They deliberately deliver a light-hearted episode after last week, full of funky fresh frivolity. Will gaming ever be fun again? It has to be!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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World of Warcraft confirms that allied race requirements aren’t changing any time soon

Today is the day of World of Warcraft turning to the first page of Battle for Azeroth with the expansion prepatch going live today. Next week sees the story buildup kicking into high gear. But if you’ve been holding off on trying the expansion until the Allied Race requirements (added several months ago) were eased up… well, you’re going to be waiting quite some time, as the official word is still that there are no plans to ease the requirements for unlocking Allied Races.

Players who wish to unlock Highmountain Tauren, Nightborne, Lightforged Draenei, or Void Elves will still need to reach Exalted with a specific reputation for each and finish a story achievement, just as before. (The other allied races will have other requirements and can be unlocked once the expansion is live.) Of course, this isn’t actually a change; players have had these requirements in place since the pre-purchase bonus was announced, and that means several months to unlock the races. If you’ve waited in hopes that it would be easier by the expansion launch, though? Not going to happen.

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Hearthstone delivers a funny Boomsday Project short story, runs Midsummer Fire Festival

Yes, the Hearthstone team is having way, way too much fun with the loopy insanity of the upcoming Boomsday Project expansion. It’s so much fun, who could call it work? Not the person who wrote this new short story that steps into the Boom Labs to look at the mad science in progress. Plus, if you read carefully, you might catch a glimpse of one of the expansion’s newest cards.

Hearthstone is currently enjoying the heat of the Midsummer Fire Festival. In addition to enjoying some special theming, players can earn a new fire emote, take part of a fiery tavern brawl, and earn double gold from quests. This event will conclude on July 30th.

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