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Thursday, April 6, 2006

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WoW: 1.1 Explored, Designer Interview, Dungeon Preview
7:49 AM | Cord Kruse | 1 comment

Issue 6 of Blizzard Entertainment's Insider newsletter examines some of the new features of the recently released 1.10 patch for World of Warcraft, offers an interview with one of WoW's designers, and casts a clairvoyant eye into the future for a sneak peak at upcoming content in patch 1.11.

Players interested in checking out the new weather effects can download movie clips from Blizzard's site.

All across Azeroth, the elements are finally coming to life. Thick drops of warm summer rain are falling gently through the green canopy of Elwynn Forest, while scorching desert sandstorms are blasting the walls of Gadgetzan and faraway Cenarion Hold in Silithus. The dreaded ogres of the Alterac Mountains and the crazed furbolgs of Winterspring alike are tasting the chill of merciless blizzards ravaging the countryside. Even the stout-hearted dwarven mountaineers of Khaz Modan would rather be at the side of a crackling fireplace, dancing flames warming the feet and dark dwarven ale warming the belly, than outside in the blistering cold.
Once finished frolicking in the rains and snows of Azeroth, an updated interactive priest talent tree offers the latest adjustments and improvements in an easy to navigate format.
The brighter the light that shines, the darker the shadows it casts. The darkness and the light are but two sides of the same coin. The priests of Azeroth have been blessed, their powers and talents increased to help them better face their class' many trials. Many awesome new powers have been unlocked, and the priests of Azeroth can now wield even greater healing energies. Some seem to be increasing their proficiency with wands much sooner than before, whereas others have been sighted living on as healing angels after their deaths! Some priests can now tap directly into the energies of their guiding power and create a locus of healing called a Lightwell, from which their friends can drink to regain health. Truly the priests have achieved a new mastery of their most potent talents.
The process of updating and modifying talent trees for the priest class and others can be a daunting one. In an in-house Q&A Game designer Tom Chilton offers a glimpse at the behind the scenes labor which keeps World of Warcraft running smoothly for its myriad fans.
What can you tell us about how the talent changes are evaluated and implemented? How much of the design cycle is usually visible to the players on the public test realms?

Actually, the vast majority of the design cycle happens before players ever see the changes on the public test realms. Generally speaking, our talent reviews begin about two to three weeks before the changes become available for testing by the public.

Once we've gone through the "mad scientist" phase and evaluated many different options, we isolate the ones we felt held the most promise and begin testing these trees. It is after these changes have gone through a few rounds of internal testing with our Quality Assurance department that players are exposed to the first preview on the website and a run on the public test realms. We receive a lot of important feedback during the public phase, and we evaluate the feedback in the context of the designs we tried in previous weeks during our earlier iterations. Based on this "big picture", we decide which modifications should be made to the design. Once we're confident we've accomplished our goals for this review, the trees are locked and made ready for the next patch.

Finally, the Insider offers a teaser for new thrills and dangers lurking just over the content horizon. Kel'Thuzad, the Lich King's right hand, will be bringing the horrors of the undead to Azeroth in a new dungeon and lair.
Several years ago, the Lich King preyed upon the mind of one of the most reckless magi of the Kirin Tor: Kel'Thuzad, whose obsession with the dark arts had ever concerned his fellow magi. Eventually he became one of the Lich King's most valuable servants. It was Kel'Thuzad upon whom the Lich King bestowed the task of assembling the Cult of the Damned, opening the way for the Scourge and ultimately for the Burning Legion's invasion of Azeroth. The Lich King promised Kel'Thuzad eternal life, and the Lich King kept his promise. After Arthas slew the wretched mage, Kel'Thuzad was brought back from the dead to continue his cursed existence as a powerful lich, locked in the service of his dark master for all eternity. The necropolis Naxxramas is the seat of Kel'Thuzad's evil, from which he oversees the Scourge and heeds his lord's command. A dreadful dawn is rising in the east as the Lich King's dark minions prepare to descend upon Azeroth. Soon the Scourge will march again, and this time there is no prophet to speak the warning, no gallant knight to fight the coming darkness, no legendary hero to thwart the monstrosity on the Frozen Throne. Who, then, will be the fire that burns against the cold, the light of hope that prevails beneath the shadow of the necropolis?
To learn more about the latest WoW developments click on the links below.

WoW: Patch 1.1 Features
WoW: Talent Tree Interview
Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft
Buy World of Warcraft

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