Monday, October 13, 2008

News from Blizzcon

Well I'm back home and must say that Blizzcon went really well this year. I was amazed at how everything was put together and the level of detail into promoting all three of their franchises. I spent a majority of my time at the panels and was actually surprised a couple of times. I also managed to get information on some of the topics I came up with before leaving.

1) More Offensive abilities for Healing and Tanking classes
It looks like Blizzard isn't going to redesign any classes and take advantage of some of Mythic's ideas regarding healers and tanks. However, it does look like they are adding more base abilities for these classes so they can do damage despite being heavy into the holy or protection trees. In particular they mentioned cleaning up the protection tree for warriors so that more points could be spent in Arms or Fury. They also mentioned the new damage spell for priests called mind sear and how the changes to spell power would make it effective.

2) Assurances that 10-man raids will be more accessible
Nothing specific on how the ten man raids would be structured in comparison to the 25 man versions. However, the itemization developer for dungeons did cover that the 10-man versions of raids would use different badges then the 25-man version. This assures me that the developers are making sure that rewards are separate for both versions and not interdependent. This should allow the developers to more easily balance the 10-man raids for pick-up-raids.

3) Progress on the Warcraft movie
Nothing at all about the movie. I'm starting to suspect that it has been canceled or put on the back burner. Then again the addition and expansion of the Cinematics team at Blizzard has made me suspect that they might be considering doing the movie themselves as a pure CGI affair. I know Starcraft 2 is going to be split into three products and that each one will come with a lot of cinematics so that could also be the reason for the team's expansion.

4) Hint at their next MMO in development
Nothing concrete except the development style of Starcraft 2 which is going to heavily depend on introducing new characters and storylines for each campaign. This is remarkable similar to what Blizzard did with Warcraft 3 and I think is a pre-cursor to the Starcraft lore being prepared for a MMO.

5) The roll-out plans for additional Hero Classes
Nothing at all about additional Hero Classes. I can't even infer anything since Blizzard really is watching closely what happens with the Death Knight before making any more hero classes. I do like the Witch Doctor a lot from the playable Diablo 3 demo and I'm crossing my fingers they adapt it for World of Warcraft.

6) Starcraft 2 release date
Starcraft 2 will be released in three separate games, with each one having a different single player campaign. The first campaign about the Terrans will be called Wings of Liberty and was hinted at being ready for 2009. If you only care about the multi-player aspects of the game then don't worry, all three races will be playable in they first campaign. Blizzard is hoping the cinematics and challenge of the different single player campaigns can sell each separate product. I think they might have some luck in this regard as long as they approach the Zerg and Protoss games as expansions and don't try to charge 50$ for each game.

7) Other Diablo 3 classes
The Wizard was announced and given her own gameplay trailer at Blizzcon. She had a lot of spells which are new to the Diablo universe including a disintegration ray and the ability to create bubbles of slowed time. Also interesting was the ability to create multiple copies of herself which is an ability I think mages in World of Warcraft might be getting.

8) Information on the new Battle.Net
Nothing in the panels about their plans to update Battle.Net. Most likely it will have to be up and running before the beta test for Starcraft 2 starts. Since beta keys for the game were included in the Blizzcon goodie bag I'm assuming we should hear more about it soon.

9) Plans for additional character/item customization
There are plans for additional "paid" character customization. Most people are theorizing that this will be a micro-transaction system that allows you to customize your character's avatar even more so then the barbershop. No details were given by the developers and I'm not even sure if this involves paying real money or in-game money for customization options. article

10) Any tools for player created content in the pipeline
Nothing on housing or more advanced forms of crafting were announced.

P.S. I'll be doing several posts on additional information from Blizzcon in the future including some stuff on their contests.