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Role Playing (Games)

Ask Questions of the World of Warcraft Team 1000

You may have already heard of Blizzard's most recent title. World of Warcraft was released in November of last year to high critical praise and a favourable player reaction. While technical issues were a problem for the first few months of retail service, prompt patching and additional world servers have left the game in excellent shape. World of Warcraft has since gone on to become not only the largest MMORPG in the United States, but also the world, with 3.5 million subscribers as of July 21st. Given all this, the likelihood that Slashdot readers would be interested in asking the development team some questions seemed pretty high. The team has kindly offered to take some time out of their extremely busy schedules to answer questions. So, feel free to ask whatever question is burning in your heart. Please stick to World of Warcraft related topics, and only ask one question per comment. We'll take the best of the lot and pass them on to the Team. Their answers will be posted when we've gotten them back.
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Ask Questions of the World of Warcraft Team

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  • wow cheat (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlexTheBeast ( 809587 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:04PM (#13323488)
    Many long-term users were troubled when people like MickeyMouse publically described the the recent duping cheat. [tech-recipes.com] I think many WoW users would like to know what steps the administration and code gurus took to correct the problem. Do you get a call from your pissed-off boss at 3 am in the morning?
    • Re:wow cheat (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Chyeld ( 713439 ) <chyeld@gmaMONETil.com minus painter> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:39PM (#13323946)
      Given the Community Managers basicly put up a sticky indicating that there was no evidence of real duping going on in game, I doubt you'll get an answer that you'll consider useful for that question.
    • I think it'd be cool if people who duped such items through bugs suffered the consequences through in-game punnishments -- perhaps denizens from some other dimension who want their stolen items back.

      Having some other-worldly demons force these guys to recover the items (if they sold them) and give them back would be a nice way to keep the game going -- and the fear of these demons may get people to refrain from cheating in the future.

  • Addiction (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kevin_conaway ( 585204 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:04PM (#13323493) Homepage
    How do you guys react to all the negative press we've been hearing lately about the actions of gamers who have a severe addiction to your game?

  • by nweaver ( 113078 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:04PM (#13323495) Homepage
    How much economic monitoring do you do? Both in-game and on the secondary market (eBay)? Have you considered working with an economist ( Steven D. Levitt comes to mind, but there are dozens of others as well) to study some of these phenomenon?
    • by team99parody ( 880782 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:51PM (#13324072) Homepage
      How about the reverse of this question.

      Virtual worlds seem like an excelent arena for testing and experimenting with various economic models.

      Have you guys considered using your world for economic model research that could be applicable helping understand real-world economics and potentially benefit to the rest of the world.

      Or, if short of that; have you done any experiments with monatary supply; interest rates; etc with interesting results you can share.

      • Oh common (Score:5, Funny)

        by apankrat ( 314147 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:45PM (#13324766) Homepage

        Dear Mr. Greenspan,

        Based on the experiments we conducted in WoW universe, we are pleased to offer you the following advice regarding interest rate management ...

        A bunch of nerds from virtual reality.


        It's OK to ask if they ran into any interesting problems with their economics model, but that stuff about 'benefit to the rest of the world' - this is really something :)
    • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:56PM (#13324135) Homepage
      Or, a variant on that question... how important do you think the economy is, as it relates to making the game enjoyable?

      Level 60 players are allowed pass on their vast sums of gold to their level 10 alts. "Power-leveling" services online require 2.5 weeks to get to level 60, despite having all the gold in the world. If the economy takes a nosedive, players may still be able to have fun. So is economic monitoring a primary concern to you?

      • by Jack9 ( 11421 )
        For those who are familiar with the WoW economy, every major patch (client-side) since release has included a server-side economic change.

        It may not seem like a big deal that the Darkmoon Faire takes 1000 thorium bars PER Darkmoon Amulet out of the economy (through thorium widgetx6->20 Faire Tix), but it's effectively driving up the demand/price of thorium to 3x what it has been since release. Essence of Undeath recipes have bumped up the going price of undeath 1000% (although it stands at 3g it needs to
        • For those who are familiar with the WoW economy

          If you have any links or further information, I'm sure they'd be appreciated if you posted them.

          every major patch (client-side) since release has included a server-side economic change. Even moreso than class balance since it's relatively easy to fix.

          My point is that economics don't really affect how fun the game is to play, in general. Yeah, people spend a lot of time at the AH. But a screwed-up economy doens't have that many negative effects on the

  • by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:04PM (#13323496)
    What the hell where you thinking with the Darkmoon Fair? Can I at least get an epic t-shirt that says "I went to the Darkmoon Fair and all I got was this stupid Jubling"?
  • Challenges (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What sort of challenges did you face in taking a universe that was always primarily for RTS gameplay, and translating it to an RPG? And how does the MMORPG setting allow you to further the story of Warcraft differently than if you'd just made another RTS (if there even is a difference)?
  • Question of venue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fjornir ( 516960 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:05PM (#13323509)
    How is it that you have time to answer questions on Slashdot but elect to ignore questions and problems reported by paying users on your own forums?
    • by dave-tx ( 684169 ) * <df19808+slashdot@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:23PM (#13323733)
      While this is a very fair and appropriate question, the obvious answer is that the Slashdot Q&A is a one-time thing, while answering questions by their own users is a never-ending process.

      Not trying to sound flippant, but that's the reality of it.

      Disclaimer: I don't play WoW or any online games, but this Q&A interests me nonetheless.

    • Expansion of base (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Orne ( 144925 )
      The World of Warcraft forums only contain paying users.

      Slashdot is a site that they can use to connect to a large pool of gamers, where a decent percentage may not yet play the game.

      This exercise in getting in touch with the Slashdot community could be seen by the cynical as just another marketing / advertising excercise.

      Connect with a market of tech-saavy gamers who may not be playing your game, who have concerns about the administration and gameplay of the MMORPG. Send out a small contingent of developer
    • by Surt ( 22457 )
      I'll side with one of the other responders: this question isn't interesting, the answer is obviously one of volume tied to venue. There are also a different set of people at blizzard when you consider who develops the code, versus who is responsible for answering forum questions. One is the developers, the other is the Tech Support group. Let's mod this down and get more interesting questions to the devs.
    • by JoeD ( 12073 )
      Here's why.

      If a dev were to post to one of the WoW forums and say something like "I'm a dev", that forum would quickly become an unusable morass of whining, flaming, trolling, and general bitching. Yes, yes, they're already that way, but it would get even worse, as hard as that may be to believe. I've seen it.

      Way back when, Brad McQuaid used to post to alt.games.everquest, and actually participate in the official Everquest forums. This was actually kind of cool, you could talk, and he'd answer.

      But then s
  • Other MMO's (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _Hiro_ ( 151911 )
    How much play time have the members of the dev team put into playing other MMO's, either to look for features that may benefit WoW, or to look for stumbling blocks to avoid?

    For example, unclear quest instructions like in FFXI or the staggered leveling system in City of Heroes, etc.
  • by Trespass ( 225077 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:07PM (#13323531) Homepage
    It's the biggest MMORPG to date in terms of number of subscribers. It's easy to guess that you've encountered challenges due to scale that no other developer has before.

    Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently, and when?
  • LEEROY JENKINS!! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goldspider ( 445116 ) <ardrake79@NoSPam.gmail.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:07PM (#13323535) Homepage
    Are there any plans for a player hall of (f/sh)ame?
  • Subscribtion Fee (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Maagma ( 714192 )
    Since your game is subscribtion based, do you think you'll feel a lot of heat from games like Guild Wars who aren't charging a monthly fee to play the game?

    (My personal thought is that you won't simply because a person could by both games and only pay for one. I know the reason I don't play WoW is because I would feel guilty by not playing because I know I dropped a good amount of money so I could play that month!)
  • Linux version? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:07PM (#13323538) Homepage
    How about a native Linux client? It runs great under cedega (transgaming wine), even better in opengl mode.
    • Plase mod parent up.
    • http://www.linuxgazette.com/node/10249/ [linuxgazette.com]

      Blizzard is definitely no friend to Linux or the open source community. Sure they make good games, but thats about it. There is a Linux version of the hugely popular World of Warcraft, and Blizzard canned it, without warming or explaination, even though it was functionally complete and ready to go, and after a discussion of a support agreement with LGP. It would have risked nothing for them to make the game available, and they chose not to.

      • by utopianfiat ( 774016 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:30PM (#13323839) Journal
        That's just stupid. It's not like Blizz has anything to fear. There's no good chance of "source purification" to worry about, there's hardly any MSFT retailation that could be expected, and if so, then ID Software has a lot to worry about.
        I guess the more appropriate question to ask Blizzard on the Linux client issue is:
        Why are you alienating a market which is most likely more dense in players than your other target platforms? Why did you can WoW Linux?
        • by AHumbleOpinion ( 546848 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:32PM (#13324578) Homepage
          Why are you alienating a market which is most likely more dense in players than your other target platforms?

          Keep in mind that the Linux market is *not* anyone who will play a game under Linux. It is *only* the subset of that group that refuses to emulate or dual boot. Given the fact that the majority of Linux users dual boot or emulate the market is far far smaller than you suggest. Replacing a Windows sale with a Linux sale does not generate any new income and does not defray the ongoing costs.

          In short, why bother, why add the QA and tech support issues when the community is *already* saying "It runs great under cedega (transgaming wine), even better in opengl mode."
        • Blizzard had enough problems initially without having to worry about supporting a half dozen linux distributions. I use linux regularly at home and at work and they didn't alienate me.

          Anyways, if the linux user is more likely to play WoW than other users, it's not because they run linux. It would be because they were tech users and early adopters. Most people I know that fit this description and play games also run windows or can do emulation.

          My guess is they developed a cross platform version to
    • Re:Linux version? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by endx7 ( 706884 )
      Recently they added a function to their lua ui api called isLinuxClient(). slouken said the function was being added for "completeness". There is already a isWindowsClient() and isMacClient().

      Whatever that means for sure, I do not know.

      Plus, slouken is Sam Lantiga, the sdl guy who used to work for Loki. So Blizzard does have someone who is capable, however, they have him doing a lot of other things. :P (Right now I think Blizzard doesn't have enough manpower in developers to worry about Linux client.)
  • by GoatMonkey2112 ( 875417 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:08PM (#13323542)
    I would like to know what kind of servers, how many, network bandwidth, etc., for WoW.
  • World Economy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:08PM (#13323544)
    Is there any consideration for guild halls, house or player cities in the future? SWG's had many issues but their Cities where a very interesting concept, and since blizzard is in a position to use the lessons learned is this something you guys would consider?
    • by Dioscorea ( 821163 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:15PM (#13324374) Homepage
      Is there any consideration for guild halls, house or player cities in the future? SWG's had many issues but their Cities where a very interesting concept, and since blizzard is in a position to use the lessons learned is this something you guys would consider?

      Yes, it does appear that you (Blizzard) have made a conscious decision to go for slick playability over user-designed content. Can you confirm this, or would you like to see more player cities and the like? This is something that does seem to be hugely lacking in MMORPGs compared to text MOOs [mud.org]. Given various speculations [slashdot.org] about the "wikification" of games, how long do you think the top-down content model can thrive?

  • Mutiple platforms (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Fizzlewhiff ( 256410 ) <jeffshannon@h o t m a i l . c om> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:08PM (#13323550) Homepage
    Blizzard is one of the few companies that distribues Windows and Mac games together on the same media. Going further, WoW allows Windows and Mac users to play together on the same realms, something which isn't done in other MMORPGS. What kind of hurdles did you have to overcome to get both Windows and Mac versions to co-exist and have you had to make any sacrifices because you were only able to do something on one platfrom and not both?
    • Re:Mutiple platforms (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rinikusu ( 28164 )
      As a cross-platform gamer (I play WoW on both my desktop (PC) and my laptop (iBook), I'm really curious to know how many mac players are out there, and if it's financially viable for Blizzard to continue supporting the mac version.

  • It depends, will I get an answer? When I use the Blizzard technical support forums, they don't answer there.
  • I've been into video game editing for some time, with mods and stuff like that. Now I've pretty much given up on it as a viable career, due to the instability involved with trying to obtain (and most of all SECURE) a good video game designing career.

    I have had a few interviews, and some really bad experiences with video game companies out there who shall remain anonymous for the purpose of this question.

    In once instance, I've been lied to by HR directors on the annual salary, told it was around $65k and it
  • by spludge ( 99050 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:10PM (#13323570)
    Are there any plans to introduce accounts that cost less?

    I'd like to try out WoW, but I don't have a huge amount of time and paying the high up front and monthly cost seems excessive to me for the amount of time I would play it. However if there was some form of time restricted cheaper account I think I would try it out.
    • I'm currently in the middle of a 14-day trial that cost $9 (the cost of the PCMag the DVD came bundled with). Maybe you should try picking one up.

      I should add that despite the trial period I very much share your concern about the high subscription fees. As it is I'm considering not even extending my trial since it just isn't worth it to either a) waste money on a service I don't use much, or b) ruin my life by playing enough to make it worth it.

      ...why do I feel like b) is my inevitable pat
  • Item Duplication is something all online RPGs are currently dealing with, what are you going to do to fix this situation before it gets out of hand?
  • by grungebox ( 578982 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:12PM (#13323586) Homepage
    Let me be up front: I don't play any MMORPG's...probably never will. I'm sure WOW is fantastic, but I generally stick to console games.

    Which sort of leads to my question. How in the world did the decision for a Warcraft MMORPG get made? I mean, I know it seems like a great idea now but at the time that idea represented a huge amount of money to invest in a new area of gaming Blizzard had limited experience with via Battlenet. The new game also faced the once (and possibly still) formidable Everquest juggernaut. When I first heard about WOW, the general rumors going around were that it'd be an action adventure title about a single Orc in the style of say, God of War or Prince of Persia. I'm just curious who first said at the weekly staff meeting, "Uh...dudes? Like, let's totally go all MMORPG with this biatch and like stuff!" and what was the reaction of the staff and Blizzard overlords.
  • I have heard tales of accounts being banned for using game exploits (mind-controlling mobs in UBRS to give a special fire resist buff for use in MC) to me, this seems like it is just a part of the game. How do you determine what is an exploit and what is not, and how do you handle the closing of an account that a player has spent potentially months playing and building?


    What is your take on Chinese farming? It would appear that a lot of people are making thier livelihood dealing in virtual goods in your wo
  • by Amich ( 542141 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:12PM (#13323596)
    I've noticed that "bot"'d characters programmed to do nothing but farm money and items has become a growing problem in WoW. Farming bots can frequently be spotted in the game, and I have evern personally recieved in-game mail spam advertizing mmobay.com . What do you plan to do to curb this issue that is eating away at the economy and atmosphere of your realms?

    24 night elf Druid
  • Balance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zaffir ( 546764 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:13PM (#13323613)
    What is the process the dev team goes through for balancing character classes, items, NPCs, etc.? Seemingly minor changes can have a huge effect on gameplay, how do you avoid unwanted negative effects on the overall gameplay experience with each content patch? Also, How much of an effect does feedback from the community have on this process?
  • Please... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john.lamarNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:14PM (#13323616) Homepage Journal
    I'm stuck in Arathi Mountains (in the wilderness outside of Hammerfall)... can you warp me to Stromgarde Keep?
  • by edderly ( 549951 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:14PM (#13323618)
    How do think you are doing keeping long term players interested in the game whilst making it enjoyable and worthwhile for new (or short term) players. Isn't the problem here is that you have to proportionally repay the effort and time that players have put into the game, but at the same time you want to allow people progress without devoting their entire lives on WoW [or getting their backside continuously kicked by the more devoted(obsessive)]

    Bonus question: What do you think/compare/dislike about StarWars Galaxies? I'd also be interested to know whether you think the combat upgrade for SWG was worthwhile or whether they should have rewritten the game from scratch i.e. SWGII. Any interesting lessons for WoW to learn from this?
  • Here's one! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by paulius_g ( 808556 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:15PM (#13323629) Homepage
    Earlier this year, the WoW servers were encountering numerous problems. Some servers crashed and the load was so high that you even has to suspend new subscriptions for a short while.

    So, how does today's WoW server infrastructure look like? Did everyone take precautions? Do you use a load balancing system to equal the loads? Did you create more optimized patches? What kind of server hardware do you use?

  • What other (non-Blizzard) games do your designers like?

    Computer games? Console games? Table-top RPGs? Chess, Go, Bridge?

    What are your favorite german board games?

  • by Erioll ( 229536 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:15PM (#13323643)
    In the WoW community, we have "community managers" that continually insist "sometimes the devs don't tell us" or "we need to check with them", etc. Why don't the devs speak for themselves? On many (most?) other MMOs, the developers (even down to the programmer level) speak for themselves on the boards, and are often VERY open on the direction they are thinking of going. Then even if the players disagree with what occurs, they at least understand it, and know that SOMEBODY is listening to what they say.

    But not in WoW. Apparently the community needs to be "handled" by go-betweens. I don't blame the go-betweens as much for this, as this is their job, but why not be as open as others? Feedback could actually come on ideas BEFORE they are implemented on a test server (of which I have yet to see anything NOT implemented on there, INCLUDING bugs), and result in a more streamlined process overall.

    "Community Managers" just seem like a way to keep the community away from making the game better, which seems like a mistake. The cries of the majority are RIGHTLY not always heeded, but never knowing the direction of the development at all is far more frustrating from a player's perspective. Why can't the development team speak for themselves, and forget about keeping secrets? We all want to know the future of our game.
  • Still competitive? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamsure ( 66666 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#13323646) Homepage
    With games like City of Heroes, there is an effort to revamp not only upper-end content, but also (importantly) lower-end content as well. Having run over 6 different players through levels 0-40, over a 9 month period now, I can say fairly accurately that there have been virtually no changes in the low-level quests (let alone additions).

    Worse, the Battlegrounds/PVP changes have made crafting virtually useless - even at higher levels - because player-crafted items are inferior to drops in instances, which are ALSO inferior to hardcode PVP-earned items.

    So with the exception of long-term players, who play hardcore PvP virtually every day, there is little new to enjoy.

    What then do you say to a nine-month subscriber who is looking at alternatives (SWG, CoH) that are doing those things better?
  • by Mirkon ( 618432 ) <mirkon@@@gmail...com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#13323650) Homepage
    World of Warcraft was the first MMORPG I gave more than a passing play. Everquest, Asheron's Call, Ultima, SW: Galaxies; none of those interested me, because I saw and read about the endless toil and trouble just to gain numbers on your character stats. WoW was different - I saw the simplicity of Diablo/II in it: easy to play, rich in content, and with a wide world to explore.

    But then I got to level 60, and all that ended. Now, instead of being able to do most things alone or with a small group of friends, game accomplishments take a full raid of 40 people? You need someone to plan it all out in advance, you need everyone to agree to common rules and to get along with each other; and you need everyone to be coordinated in order to defeat ridiculous enemies. With this, the challenge of the game ceases to be learning techniques and honing skills, and becomes social. The difficulty is not in playing, but in making sure everyone else is playing.

    Endgame is a different game, and I don't care for it. It's not the game I bought. Rather, it's the games I declined to buy in the past. Friends of mine who played Everquest and Final Fantasy XI are right at home, but I'm decidedly out of place, and don't really want to invest hours, days of my time on goals with exponentially increasing difficulty and exponentially diminishing rewards.

    The early game is brilliant, and playing it was a joy. Why is that so hard to retain in level 60 play?
    • The early game is brilliant, and playing it was a joy. Why is that so hard to retain in level 60 play?

      Because at low levels you could solo, and in a 1 - 2 hour playing session you would always come out with a new item, or a new level and with it some new abilities (well new abilities every other level).

      At the endgame you need to find raids of 5-40 people to be successful. You group up with them, and raid a dungeon for 2-6 hours. You will sometimes come out with nothing to show for it.

      WoW was so
    • Why is that so hard to retain in level 60 play?

      You need the Golden PSP. And a soul.
    • I definitely agree with this one.

      It's the entire reason I cancelled my account and moved to Guild Wars. While I don't know if Guild Wars will be any better toward the end, at least I get the early on experience again. I absolutely despised the end of the game where anything worth attaining on my character was so hopelessly out of reach of someone like me who casually plays. Blizzard consistently said "We realize our main audience is casual players", and then implemented these massive, sluggish requirements
    • This is so true. I was going to ask something similar but this post pretty much sums it up for me and WoW right about now. It also is why I am letting my WoW subscription lapse. Please make sure this question is asked.
    • Hooray for the parent post. The following is an essay I wrote about WoW in April 2005. Some of the points are no longer valid, but many of them are. My WoW subscription has been cancelled and I won't be renewing until, at the VERY least, the class balance issues are improved, if not solved. Shamans are WAY overpowered, and the only people who don't seem to agree are Shamans and Rogues, with rogues being the second most overpowered class in the game, especially in PvP. The balance issues are so glaringly apparent that I can only assume that Blizzard intended them to be as they are.

      Why World of Warcraft's Endgame Is Not Fun

      April 17, 2005

      I have been playing World of Warcraft since beta in August, 2004. At the time, I had been playing EverQuest for about 2 years and was growing weary of it: the raids in Planes of Power were long and tedious with very few rewards, and the entire "backflag" system caused a lot of strife within many guilds by forcing them to do long events just to flag one or two people. As the raid leader for my guild, I led everything from raids Vindi in Kael Drakkel to the Emperor in Ssraeshza Temple, to Aten Ha Ra in Vex Thal, to Rallos Zek and Fennin Ro.

      Between the mess of flagging and the tedium of the raids themselves (hours of clearing) it became clear to me that Sony was incapable of designing "fun" encounters. Planes of Power introduced events which required lots of "kiting" of mobs, apparently as an attempt to introduce a new element to a game whose events are so tedious that people would put their characters on auto-attack and go AFK for 15-20 minutes at a time and be just as effective as if they'd been playing them.

      It had gotten so bad for me that I had taken to reading rather than logging in to EQ. I felt bad since I was the raid leader, but the game had stopped being enjoyable months before. So when a friend let me play his WoW beta account I was stunned. WoW seemed to have everything I had wanted in EQ and none of what I hated.

      Among the smaller things I appreciated at the time were: showing exp gain per mob as a number, and amount remaining in this level; showing "percent chance to crit;" showing health/mana regen instead of forcing you to count up your mana regeneration items as EQ did. Some of the major things I loved about WoW as opposed to EQ were the ability for any class to solo without serious downtime (2+ minutes) - downtime is one of EQ's most aggravating aspects, forcing people to sit around and literally do nothing. Experience loss on death in EQ was annoying, and as you gained levels it became insulting, especially when facing monsters that would death-touch. When learning a raid encounter in EQ it was not uncommon for the entire raid to wipe multiple times, and at the end of the night people could walk away having lost up to 10% of their levels (even after EQ's coveted 96% rez). Experience loss also basically prevented any sort of soloing in EQ that involved risk of death, unless you wanted to eat 20% experience loss per death or spend hours running around from zone to zone /shouting for a cleric to rez you in whatever zone you died. You would often have to pay for this "service."

      Soloing itself in EQ was horrible. Unless you were able to kite (e.g. Plane of Fire "tables" camp), the only mobs you could kill were 10-20 levels below you and gave little to no experience, and even then many people faced 10+ minutes of downtime between mobs.

      In WoW, monsters forget about you after you run a certain distance away from them. In Everquest, monsters chased you until you died or "zoned out." The whole concept of zoning was annoying and immersion-breaking in Everquest. The seamless world in WoW was another thing I loved.

      In WoW beta, I played a paladin, as I had in Everquest and in other games. I was pretty pleased with most of the Paladin's abilities, and found the healing power a surprise, having come from Everquest, where the Paladin's heals were a jo

  • As a developer and / or game designer on an MMORPG, you will always experience an extreme amount of negativity from the very vocal minority of players who seem to be displeased with every decision that is made with regards to the game.

    That said, how are decisions made with regards to these "suggestions" from players? How do you decide the difference between "You can't please everybody" and a suggestion with merit?
  • by OS24Ever ( 245667 ) * <trekkie@nomorestars.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#13323655) Homepage Journal
    First off, as a Mac user who loves MMORPG gaming it was an utter delight to be able to log on the day of launch and play with my brother who is 1800 miles away and running a Windows machine. The way other MMORPG vendors talk this was an impossible task. I thank you for making it either looks so easy, or calling BS on those who said it was hard.

    My question is:

    What challenges did you/do you face in bringing together clients from different software and processor architectures on an ongoing basis? I'm working off the asumption that the graphics content is similar if not identical and really it's the data translator that sends/receives information from your servers that does most of the client interaction.

    Thanks, looking forward to more things to come.
  • More role-playing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sivar ( 316343 ) <(charlesnburns[) (at) (]gmail.com)> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:16PM (#13323656)
    World of Warcraft is an excellent game, but at the same time it tends to have a "canned" feel about it. What I mean by that is that it seems as if almost everything that a player can achieve has been expressly thought of, balanced, tweaked, and timed by Blizzard.
    This is good in a sense--it makes the game simple and somewhat predictable, which is one truth that has made Blizzard games so appealing to the mainstream in the past.
    On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if the game would benefit from more depth in some ways.
    For example, it would be interesting to have a Morrowind-style enchantment system, where certain (possibly rare) "base items" can hold varying degrees of enchantment, and enchanters can assign a wide variety of abilities to those items. If a player chooses to have an item hold two different types of enchantments, each will be far weaker than just having the one.
    In order to prevent extreme specialization, it may then be necessary to implement some sort of penalty for having multiple items with the same enchantment. For example, it would be a BadThing® if every single item on a warrior were enchanted with +1% chance of critical hits.

    Another important item, at least important to me, which I believe to be missing from WoW is the role-playing. WoW is classified as a role-playing game, but there really aren't any moral choices of any kind as most RPGs would include (and make an important part of the gameplay).
    For example, many of the quests are "good deed" quests, but there exists no option to do the quest "out of the goodness of your heart" or to have to choose between "evil" and "good" quests.

    I suspect that perhaps a good way to implement this would be to have an attribute like "virtue", similar to faction "meters."
    The benefits of this attribute would be up to Blizzard of course, but a few possible suggestions might include: 1) Requiring that warlocks maintain a fairly low virtue and and that paladins maintain a high virtue (or have penalties).
    2) High virtue may lead to a discount at stores
    3) Virtue effects faction

    I am sure the creative minds at Blizzard could come up with good uses for this idea without ruining the simplicity and streamlining of the game. I hope they do!
  • Programming model? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Defiler ( 1693 ) * on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:17PM (#13323668)
    One of the first things that struck me as I played WoW, (other than, "hey, this is a lot of fun") was how sophisticated the server-side code had to be to cope with various tricky things like instance dungeons, visibility, etc.

    Assuming it isn't a trade secret, how do your lead engineers "think" about the problem? A first-that-comes-to-mind object model would probably be fantastically hard to scale up and/or verify, due to the huge amount of state associated with even the smallest little things in the game.

    On the other hand, you probably didn't write your auction house code in Haskell.
    How "cool" is your model of the world?
  • by JavaLord ( 680960 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:21PM (#13323707) Journal
    Two weeks before world of warcraft was launched the Paladin class was totally changed, with their two main talents (holy strike and crusader strike) being removed as well as their ability to cast undead spells on undead players. What prompted you to make a change so close to launch, and how do you evaluate what needs to be done to balance out the classes?
  • by NixMonk ( 887624 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:21PM (#13323716)
    If you could start over, would you use Linux and Oracle again?
  • by pyite69 ( 463042 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:22PM (#13323728)
    ID does such a good job of making Linux releases - what will it take for you to do the same?

    I am glad to help out the Cedega folks, but it would be nicer to not have to use a band-aid.
  • by Palos ( 527071 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:23PM (#13323744)
    As more and more of the players reach the raid level content the instances are becoming more laggy and less stable. On my server for example when there are 8+ raids on our side in Molten Core and probably a comparable number on the opposite faction the instances lag to the point where they are unplayable. It's not uncommon for instant cast spells to take 15-30 seconds to go through. Other times the instances will just lockup completely, the chat channels will work but we can't do anything else.

    Because of the number of people required to do these instances (40), it is hard if not impossible for us to schedule these except during prime playing time.

    I understand that you have offered transfers off of some of the higher population servers, but this doesn't really address the problem. In the coming months are there any plans to beef up the raid instance servers on the higher population servers to accommodate their increases usage?
  • by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:24PM (#13323756) Journal
    Why, for the last month or so has WoW sucked performance wise? You guys seemed to have had it nailed for the first few months but now hardly a weekend goes by that im not in an instance or world crash. sometimes, happening multiple times an evening.

    Is it that theirs too much data in the game now? your team is stressed with supporting the EU and Asian servers? IS it because people are crashing the instances (on purpose) to dupe from them?

    Its weird because i really love wow, and the downtimes are usually around the order of 10 minutes or less. However, when you've spent 2 hours already in an instance and they it crashes, you cant help but get pissed off.
  • by Zarhan ( 415465 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:28PM (#13323809)
    Battlegrounds are a nice feature, but despite them, the World of Azeroth is quite static place. There have been few events - like the orphan week - but nothing big.

    Are you planning to introduce "events" into the gaming world that would actually shape it permanently, like in Asheron's call?

    For example, a demon/naga expedition force attacking a frontier fortress - and depending on how well the battle goes over the next week the threatened faction either hold the town or lose it. Depending on what happened, the next "event" would be either attempts to retake the town or perform a retaliatory strike. NPCs would do most of the "grunt" work, of course, but players ultimately would contribute to the fate of the world. The happenings could be tied to the actual World of Warcraft timeline. Depending on the server type (PvE or PvP) some of the events could also be between factions (players on both sides of conflict).

    Battlegrounds are a good start, but in the end they are just refined team deathmatch maps..
  • by zoomba ( 227393 ) <mfc131&gmail,com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:29PM (#13323823) Homepage
    I'm a casual player by all counts. I loaded up the game on release day, and only in the past few weeks finally got my paladin to level 60. I play at my own pace, spending a lot of time seeing the sights and not necessarily grinding or farming loot. I'm in it for the experience and the rich world around me.

    I've played a lot of MMOs in the past and usually lose interest quickly because there's nothing obvious to do at the start. WoW breaks that pattern by having a very well crafted early game experience where I'm led around to a ton of great and varied locales, given a variety of quests to do and am told a rich and involved story. That takes me up to about level 30. Then, as an alliance member, I enter Stranglethorn Vale and the game goes rapidly downhill from there.

    It feels as if the game had a lot of care and attention given to those first 30 or so levels, packing the areas with great content and wonderful gameplay, then suddenly I'm playing a different game completely. One that involves killing tons of mobs to grind out levels between quests, and then we're suddenly dumped into a game that requires 5-man groups for a large portion of the content.

    Was this intentional? Was the first half of the game designed to be a solo, story-driven experience whereas the second half was meant to take what you learned at the start and now apply it to help other players? Why does the game change so drastically at this mid point?
  • Honor vs Dishonor (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <sparr0@gmail.com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:31PM (#13323851) Homepage Journal
    Honor for worthy PVP encounters, Dishonor for killing lowbies. Such a simple idea, and anticipation of this feature was what kept many people playing WoW, finally a penalty for "griefers" for over a year. And then suddenly the Honor rules were published, a couple of months before the system went live, and dishonor was explicitly missing. Many people bring up issues such as reverse griefing, using low level players as human shields, ganging up on high level people, etc, but all of these have simple obvious solutions. In the end, why was this aspect of the system nerfed so badly?
  • by halivar ( 535827 ) <bfelger AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:34PM (#13323885)
    Given the success of WoW, are there any plans/contingencies/what-if's floating around Blizzard regarding MMORPG's based on other successful Blizzard titles?
  • by Dysfnctnl85 ( 690109 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:42PM (#13323981)
    It would be fantastic to get a *glimpse* of how Blizzard designed the infrastructure to handle WoW. I was actually thinking a field trip to Blizzard would be a great opportunity for my IT department to get away for a few days. Anytime I receive connection hickups or difficulties logging in, I immediately try to understand how Blizzard would handle said situation with server redundancy, as well as database redundancy. What's most interesting to me is how a character object is handled from the database perspective, especially considering how our company views business objects. So, how DO you do it?
  • by Onan ( 25162 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @03:44PM (#13323999)
    It strikes me as an odd choice that all instances should be arbitrarily tuned to a hard-coded number of players (40, 20, or, most often, 5). Given that the game already has the notion of "elite" mobs that have a multiplier applied to their total health, item drop rates, and xp rewards, why doesn't this multiplier adjust to match the number of players in the instance, rather than being fixed at 3?

    This seems all the more strange to me in light of the fact that Blizzard has already used this mechanism, with great success, in Diablo II. This seems to confirm that not only is it not a generally difficult thing to implement, it is specifically not beyond the reach of Blizzard in particular.

    The current approach of using manually-tuned dungeons seems like the worst possible deal for everyone: players have a limited set of content that suits the play style they prefer, and Blizzard needs to do much more work to separately create content for soloers, small-group players, and huge-raid players. Causing all instances to scale smoothly would seem to allow players the most flexibility, and Blizzard the greatest return on their efforts.

    This issue is of personal interest to me because I prefer to play with one to three real-world friends or alone, rather than with thirty-nine strangers. I've essentially ceased playing the game because there's simply no more content that suits the solo/small-group playstyle that I enjoy.

    I certainly accept that other people prefer the feel of a huge raid, and I don't wish to deny them any content tuned to their preferences. Indeed, I'd like them to be able to 80-man any instance in the game if they so choose, while I 3-man the same instances with rewards scaled down to match.

  • by uigrad_2000 ( 398500 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:01PM (#13324200) Homepage Journal
    While technical issues were a problem for the first few months of retail service, prompt patching and additional world servers have left the game in excellent shape. -original /. story
    One week ago, I created a brand new character (on alliance side, even though I normally play Horde), and picked up mining. I went up to a copper vein, successfully mined it, but then got stuck trying to loot the copper ore. My body was stuck in the crouching position, and I never received what was rightfully mine. So, I logged out, and back in, as I'm so accustumed to doing.

    The next vein gave me the same problem. In fact, I had gotten stuck, and had to re-log on 4 of the first 5 veins that I mined with this toon. If I had been a new subscriber, I would have returned the game later that same day, and demanded a refund.

    This problem is obviously not just with mining. Sometimes, it can take 7-15 minutes to get an item out of a mail sent to me from another player. Sometimes, it can take 45 minutes to list all one-handed maces on the auction house, even though there's only 23 to list.

    What data structuring technique did you use to hash items in the game? (I need to know, so that I stay away from it.) Also, is it too late to fix such a fundamental problem as this?

    Lastly, what makes you think that the servers are in "Excellent shape"? Have you forgotten about posts such as this one? [worldofwarcraft.com] I count 397 people who disagree with the developers response (that's 100% of the players who have replied to the initial blue post). Why can you just respond with "ok, we're looking into it" ??

  • by LetterRip ( 30937 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:05PM (#13324248)
    In your view what short comings would open source software such as Blender http://www.blender.org/ [blender.org] and the GIMP http://www.gimp.org/ [gimp.org] need to overcome in order to be suitable to become part of the pipeline for developing high end game content as used in WoW?

  • by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:10PM (#13324303)
    I have heard many times the 'it's complicated' line on the official message boards, given the revenue you're getting from WoW it's ridiculous you haven't given serious thoughts to fixing this: on many servers AV starts maybe once a day, 2-3 hour waits for WSG are common as well, this makes 'casual' pvp-ing practically impossible for most of your subscribers.

    I know you're probably worried about people trading items in WSG across servers due to the high abuse potential but if you disable trading in battlegrounds unless players are from the same server (which should be easy code-wise) cross-server BGs should enable us to actually get in in a reasonable amount of time. Right now my choices as a level 60 are:

    = farm for gold while waiting for AV/WSG to open (boooooring)

    = find a pickup group for some instance while waiting (which means waiting in IF for an hour for people wanting to do DM west/north or 5-man strath, which NOBODY ever wants to do) only to have the 'you are eligible to enter AV' pop up 30 min inside the instance run (argh)

    = level up my alt(s) (gets boring after a while to do the same quests over and over and over and over and over again because there is no new content to be had at 60 really)

    And btw, fix the code for the 'estimated waiting time' please, there have been way too many times where I've had the 'ETA 10 minutes, time elapsed in queue 3 hours 15 minutes'.
  • by Robotron2084 ( 262343 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:15PM (#13324382) Homepage
    In order to progress through the game, its important to sell your goods at the auction house. Its practically a requirement. When I play, I generally leave my Hearthstone at Ironforge, because after I'm out running around I need to teleport back there to sell my stuff.

    I'm lucky, a friend of mine cannot even step foot in Ironforge. Her computer is unable to withstand the heavy lag and number of players. We went once, it took 45 minutes to get back out. Now I just buy her equipment, and bring it to her.

    What is the reason for your decision to limit the auction house to a couple geographical locations within the game? This not only excludes a vast number of players from improving their characters at the early stages because of proximity, but also requires extra travel time, and completely excludes people with lower end systems from being able to easily sell their stuff. Is the reason a technical bottleneck of some sort, or a design decision?

  • Itemization (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @04:28PM (#13324534) Homepage
    It's been argued that the melee itemization in the game is out of control and casters are falling more and more behind. Do you see this as a problem, and if so, what does blizzard plan to do about it?
  • by cryptomancer ( 158526 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:04PM (#13325018)
    There are dozens of places that currently are just eye candy, some only when flying over the landscape. The airfield NE of Ironforge, the lake above the tram to Stormwind, the Venture Co. camp mountain-locked between Stonetalon Peak and the Charred Vale, the Graymane Wall, southern Silithus, Dalaran, Quel'Thalas, Mount Hyjal... Was all that just meant to be in-flight entertainment? Created-but-cut content? Under construction for later to make it all seem 'fresh and new'? Bait for explorers to lure them into places for which they are banned for seeing early? Please, impart some insight into these holes in the world!
  • External API? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jargonwhat ( 867845 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:35PM (#13325326) Homepage
    Are there any plans to expose any game information to the "outside"? It would be pretty handy to have something like a dashboard widget that lets me search the auction house or alerts me when a certain item is on it. Of course, it would be even better to be able to bid, but that might open up things like bid sniping programs and such, so I'd be happy with even a read-only interface.
  • by Shanoyu ( 975 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:40PM (#13325375)
    Firstly, i've noticed that WoW lacks relatively any high social endgame content, such as a system of kingdoms or players being able to build up their own towns/bases etc, or really anything where leadership is especially important; I see this as positive. Generally speaking every other MMO, from Puzzle Pirates to Anarchy Online has some sort of feature where guilds have to pour tons of money and resources to support the resources for gameplay only a few people will experience. This omission seems intentional and i'm interested in the factors that led you against that sort of end-game content. In the same vein, the whole system of factions suggests that something similar will be available, but without specific players acting as the primary fulcrums that make the system work.

    One thing that i'm curious about is how you see the alliance/horde population imbalance. If you could go back to day one and redo faction, would it still be the same way?

    Finally i'm interested in what priority #1 is when you design an encounter. Whether you're designing a battleground or a high end rading zone such as Blackwing Lair, it seems that there are essentially two possible routes. 1. Focusing on the role each individual class will have in the encounter 2. Focusing on the overall scheme of the encounter. The obvious trade off being that focusing on the overall scheme can make players feel as if their individual contribution doesn't matter very much, whereas focusing on class can ocassionally make some classes feel as if they aren't needed at all for a specific encounter. Or does a different thing come to mind when you first begin thinking about how to build an encounter?
  • by dividedsky319 ( 907852 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:49PM (#13325466) Homepage
    I played WoW since closed beta, and bought it the day it came out. In about 3 months, I made it to level 60. But... then my interest in the game sort of ended. I didn't care about high end raids, or about any PvP content. Elite content was more of a hassle for me than it was fun and exciting. I eventually cancelled my account. So, my question is, are there any plans for more solo content for the endgame? I understand the concept of a MMORPG is to interact with others, but I don't want to have NOTHING to do if I can only play for an hour and want to do something alone.
  • by ChozSun ( 49528 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @05:59PM (#13325544) Homepage
    Blizz: When are you going to move the story along? Are you planning to shake things up with realigning alliances within both factions?

    For example, at the end of Warcraft III: FT, Jaina Proudmoore and Thrall team up against Jaina's father to take him down and reigned in a new era of peace. I played WoW based on the excellent epic story of Warcraft and I thought it would be a no-brainer that both factions could learn the other faction's language and even earn reputation. For those on RP servers, I thought for sure that we would be able to rewrite the story thus fall and try to reestablish that era of peace.

    Well, I was wrong.

    Since the launch of WoW, the story is dead. What do you plan on doing to push it closer to Warcraft 4 / WoW 2?
  • by Sleepy ( 4551 ) on Monday August 15, 2005 @10:59PM (#13327431) Homepage
    I loved the Warcraft games so much that I could never play WoW (major time sink! :-)

    My question is, would your company encourage, allocate time for and generally nudge willing developers to blog?

    It seems Blizzard has a bad name among some who used to like Blizzard. This is due to bugs, some bad moves by Blizzard legal, and a "black box" process for customer feedback (many comments here bemoan the 'handlers' on the Blizzard forums).

    If anyone's worried about bad postings and replies to the blog, a good example to look at is the Microsoft IE7 bloggers. A public blog seems to have influenced Microsoft into fixing IE7 to a degree more than initally planned, which is a Good Thing for many.

    A theory is their developers wanted to do the right thing, and the blog helped support that.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller