The "Ultimate" Diablo 3 Gold Guide

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 28, 2011

My guide is very simple and it's just one page:

1. If you want to make money creating Diablo 3 gold guides, don't bother.
I was thinking the other day about the indeterministic nature of Diablo 3, and came to the realization that trying to make a Diablo 3 Gold Guide is going to be very difficult and practically pointless. All of the gold guides will be very simple, they'll all look the same, and they'll all be very short.

Here's Why

In World of Warcraft, there's just so much to do and so much variation (even when the game first came out). There's mining, gathering, crafting, services, dailies, special quests, and a thousand more forms of farming. There are mods to improve gold and item gathering. Due to the massive variety of quests, some can be bugged to give extra XP or gold. There are mobs that drop varying quantities of gold, materials, or different XP gains. Each mob has a specific loot table so that you can farm groups of mobs over and over to get a certain item or crafting material. Bosses also have specific loot tables, so that you can keep farming the same boss or instance to get it.

But Diablo 3 is nothing like that. The massive variety is gone, specialized mob drops are gone, loot tables are gone, gathering is gone, special quests are gone, etc.

If you compare the two gaming experiences, you can look at it this way:
  • players are only able to go from one zone to the next. They are all in order like a game on rails. You can only move forwards or move back into one zone at a time.
  • all of the mobs in the zone drop the exact same amount of XP and gold.
  • basically, there are thousands of the "same monster" in each zone, and you can only get a different monster by moving into the next zone. In zone 2, all of the mobs are level 7-9, they all drop level 7-9 items. In zone 3, all of the mobs are level 10-12, they all drop level 10-12 items. And so on..
  • there are no loot tables.
  • there are no mods to help you, improve gathering, or make the AH easier to use.
  • when you kill the boss at the end of the zone, they all have the same chances of dropping the exact same items.
  • there's no such thing as "farming" anymore. It's more simple: just kill everything in the zone because they all drop the same stuff.
  • all of the mobs drop the same crafting items too, so you can't farm specific mobs for items or mats.
  • because you have your own private world now, there's no competition or rarity of mobs to drive up prices on the Auction House. Meaning, they're of less value to you and not worthwhile to "farm".
  • "farming" bosses just drops more rares, but you can kill larger quantities of weaker monsters to get the same drops.
Basically, "farming" is gone. It's non existent in Diablo 3. If you want to "farm" items, it's now "farming" on the Auction House. That's where you know the specific items will be.

So, what does this leave for Diablo 3 Gold Guides?

There might be some guides on which classes are the most overpowered and in combination with certain skills. But, that's just a class guide and not a gold guide. It really just helps you kill mobs faster. (Classes will also be balanced regularly by Blizzard, so things will change. I would recommend becoming an altoholic so stay on top.)

There's no farming anymore, everything is just random selling on the Auction House.

There could be "gold guides" about what the best gear, items, or equipment for your character is. But, what's the point if the Auction House already does this for you? (e.g. the gear/skill matching system.)

The only useful guide would be a list of item rarity. All mobs have the same drop chances, but some items have more rare drop chances than others. That's where true value is determined.

So, there might be guides on how players can scan the Auction House more efficiently and what items and recipes to search for. If the items are being sold for really cheap, and the seller doesn't know the true value, they can be resold. Even better, recipes can be bought (if the seller doesn't know it's true value), and then multiple items crafted and resold from the single recipe.

But, that's all very common sense stuff. A guide isn't needed to tell people that.

And according to Robert Bridenbecker, they don't expect market manipulation to be possible. That means, no cornering or markets, no rare selling strategies, everyone just has the same chance of getting the same drops and selling the same stuff as everyone else. Everyone now has an equal chance of making the same money... whether they're skilled farmers or AH strategists.

Supply >>> Demand

His comments really concerned me actually, they're anticipating that supply will always be significantly greater than demand. WOW is much different. Plus, that's not very good for an economy.

I hope this isn't true though. From the sounds of things, when the game first launches there will be a lot of crazy selling and buying too, because no one will realize how valuable items truly are.. they'll just go by their short term benefits. Once things settle in though, I think Diablo 3 will have a massive penny market. Everyone will be selling their drops for pennies, just slightly above the listing fee and other cuts, and the both Auction Houses will be flooded with items.

All items will be selling for 10 or 20 cents. And people will buy them because they're so cheap. "Oh wow, only $0.20 for this armor upgrade? Buy! Oh.. another leg piece, and only for $0.10! Buy!"

Within the massive penny market, avid sellers might make $0.20-$2.00 per day selling hundreds of items (after hours and hours of work). But Blizzard will be profiting 10-20% of all earnings from the millions if not billions of player transactions per day. :)

Besides the massive penny market, there will also be those very rare and sudden drops that any player has a chance of winning. That's what keeps players going.. that chance to "suddenly win" a $10-50 item. People will be addicted to this, and that's where the true gambling nature of the game comes in.

The Best Diablo Gold Guides?

Unfortunately, the best gold guides will be about cheating and exploits.

Within the legitimate Diablo 3 game, you'll want to read guides on how to make the most efficient killing machine. Techniques, class, and skills to build the best AOE class you can.. and which zones have the most number of mobs in the smallest amount of space.

Finding mobs that give birth to smaller mobs (and killing those) is probably the most efficient (like the "Mothers" in the first zone). And you'll want to keep resetting the zone over and over. The game is about killing quantity, and not quality or specific farming. It might even be worth killing more mobs instead of bosses since time is a factor. Diablo 3 is all about KPM (Kills Per Minute.)

Other tips? Don't buy anything. Ever.

Selling gold and characters will provide the most consistent revenue. If you're a gambler, focus on drops.

Watch patch notes (unsure if there will be a D3 PTR) so that you can know if certain item drop chances will change, if items will have their modifiers changed, or if drops will be removed (if existing items remain, this will increase their rarity and possibly value.)

When the time comes, I'll probably create a few of my own gold guides.. but I think they'll mostly focus on the Auction House, areas with the most condensed monster groups, and probably player tricks or exploits.

Weak-ly Updates

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, October 27, 2011

  • "The Players Wanted It". I love it when Blizzard says this. Apparently, the reason for the new Pet Battles system is because players wanted it. Blizzard also said the same thing about the cash money auction house: players wanted it. Online only requirement and no mods for Diablo 3? Player want this because that's how it was in Diablo 2. Paid faction changes? Players wanted it. Create both factions on a PVP server? Players. Real ID? Players. Removal of Real ID? Players again. Character naming restrictions? Players. More restrictions? Removal of restrictions? Pandas? You get the idea. It's all completely true though.. it's like those commercials where they say, "Doctors agree that this is the best medical product." All they need are two doctors, who can have a doctorate in basket weaving, to promote the product. Players really did want these changes.. even if it was just 2 Blizzard employees who asked for it. Whenever they say "players want this", it's really "the business wants this." Why are the things that players REALLY want never done? Vanilla servers come to mind, and it's been a major discussion since TBC when there was no technical barrier.

  • Bethesda has been denied their appeal in attempting to stop Interplay's development of the Fallout MMO. I'm actually hoping Interplay wins this battle, but not in the way or for the reasons you might be thinking. They have both been pretty sneaky on both sides, but in my opinion, Bethesda has been far more cruel during this war. I think that the Fallout MMO development progress has actually been very slow by Interplay on purpose, and they're really just holding the IP hostage. Bethesda's lawyers wrote that "Bethesda would be unable to recover in the event that Interplay enters bankruptcy." If this is true, then they should just purchase the entire Fallout IP directly from Interplay. (Interplay, of course, will be asking for a tremendous amount of "screw you" payback.) After all, Bethesda is not permitted to create any new Fallout game after their next standalone installment; the IP will automatically revert back to Interplay as per their original contract. I suspect that Bethesda is even more desperate now that RAGE (the possible Fallout replacement developed by id Software) wasn't received too well. What they should do is just make Fallout 5 a game with heavy next gen expansion characteristics, so that the universe can keep being expanded with new graphics engines and content in each expansion pack (or DLC). They just need to outlast Interplay. And, they should also buy the Wasteland IP from Inxile (for a much reduced price) and use that as their next gaming franchise line.

  • Part 3 of that PC Gamer article came out. There was no more information on Titan, and no clarification of the first article which implied a possible Titan direction. Disappointing.

Diablo 3 RMAH Sales and Currency

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I was very disappointed about the Diablo 3 Panels and Q&A since they didn't reveal any new information. They just went over the same stuff that has been announced previously. But, apparently there was a press gathering with Robert Bridenbecker after Blizzcon and there's some interesting new information.

Here's the video, but the audio is a little poor:



A summary of the most interesting information from that meeting:

  • Blizzard's plan for the RMAH is that you have a credit card on your account. If your listing doesn't sell, your credit card is charged for the listing fee.
  • The other option they are debating is arrears and they're thinking that for every failed Listing Fee, you start building up a negative balance which would need to get paid out after a certain time.
  • They want to keep the flat rates as small as possible. He kept reiterating small tiny fees. Guess we'll see when the time comes. Based on Blizzard comments over the past few months and this recent reiteration, I'm thinking $0.05 or less, but if it's more than $0.25 that's way too much. The Blizzard team is apparently guessing that most items will sell for "sub $10". So a small 5 cent fixed fee should match this. He said they won't start messing around with the listing fees either to manipulate the market.
  • It sounds like the plan is to have players work for 3-5 months to maybe earn up to $50, and then they use that money to buy new games, DLC, paid services, or subscriptions. It will be quite a shock if people actually make a lot of money from it, and the anticipation is that most player profits will go back into Blizzard.
  • Here's something interesting. When talking about market manipulation and someone cornering the market (e.g. they keep buying out the same item and jacking up the price by 10-20%), he said that it won't be possible in Diablo 3 like it was in WOW. (This goes back to the deterministic nature of WOW versus indeterministic nature of Diablo 3.) Basically, he said that due to the indeterministic nature of Diablo 3, supply will always be greater than demand. Eeek! This also confirms what I have been talking about for some time.. it's going to drive down prices, but increase Listing Fees substantially (and more failed Listing Fees) meaning more revenue for Blizzard.
  • He talked about security measures; they're working on a SMS service where automated messages can be sent directly to your mobile in the case of abnormal security behavior on your account. If you're being hacked, you're notified right away.. rather than finding out when you attempt to login later.
And finally, here are the most interesting parts:
  • "When you buy Diablo 3, you're buying Diablo 3." You can play it anywhere in the world, it's not region locked. Only the RMAH is region based.
  • It's "just Diablo 3 now", no EN/EU/GB/etc versions. You choose the server, pick the language, and you can play anywhere in the world. No barriers, no RMAH restrictions, no currency restrictions, no region locking, etc. (Except that there is a different RMAH in each region and you are locked into your own currency, so the conversions are made for you when you cash out.)
  • I guess this means Australian players can buy D3 from the US Website for $50 and start playing right away?
  • Blizzard is the middleman for all RMAH transactions, you can utilize any currency you want, and if players want to they can even engage in speculative markets and currency trading. Robert said it would be perfectly acceptable.
  • I guess this means that gold farmers will be migrating from server to server looking for the best market and currency conversion. (Latency permitting of course.) :)
This all sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun. Can't wait!

* UPDATE:
  • Some people are saying that (from this video), you will have a different B.Net credit account in each region, and any money you earn can only be used in that region's B.Net store. Which is very strange that you can't use it for another B.Net store, considering there is only one "Battle.net". You can cash out to your main PayPal account though, and that's when the conversion takes place. But, I think they picked that up from the "Brazilian dollars" conversation that started at the 13 minute mark. He's just talking about conversion though, it's still Battle.net credit (but in "Brazilian dollars") and I think he's still saying it can be used for transactions everywhere else. For example, you make a ton of money in the European RMAH, but you can use that money (after conversion) to buy stuff off the US Battle.net Store.
  • The audio is very crappy, and there are some parts that I don't understand. If you jump to the 11:03 mark, he says everyone can participate in the Gold Auction House anywhere in the world, but the RMAH is specific to the region. He must mean that certain regions won't have the RMAH (like what has already been announced).. although it first sounded like he's saying the Gold Auction House is "universal", but there are separate RMAH's on each server.
  • UPDATE: Basically the way it works is when you first sign up to the game, you're "locked" into a specific region's RMAH. You can still play the game in any region, and you can use the Gold Auction House of any region. But, you're "locked" into a single RMAH (the one you first selected, which will typically be your own region that you're physically located.) You can "unlock" your RMAH region, though, by providing proof of relocation (like a scanned photo ID).

What You Didn't Know About Blizzcon

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 25, 2011

.. is going to blow your mind. Does this clickbait title work?

So, you want to hear something really messed up? I'm willing to bet that no one knows this (except Blizzard).

During the Blizzcon 2010 opening ceremonies, Michael Morhaime said that there were "more than 100,000 virtual attendees" watching across over 100 countries live via DIRECTV. (This was also when Blizzard DOTA was first announced, and he said it would be free to "all Battle.net players in the coming months.")

Next, during the Q3 2010 Earnings Call following Blizzcon 2010, Michael Morhaime said "More than 25,000 people attended the show with another 95,000 paid viewers following along via DIRECTV or the live Internet stream." (27,000 attendees were later reported.)

But wait.. don't you remember all of those RAYV problems? Oh right.. Blizzard also partnered with RAYV to provide live streaming through the Blizzard site.

In 2009 and 2010, Blizzcon was available live via Blizzard (RAYV) and DIRECTV as a Pay Per View event.

To clarify, there were TWO streams available for purchase: DIRECTV and BLIZZARD DIRECT

During the opening ceremonies, all of the official announcements, and shareholders meetings, Michael Morhaime only revealed the DIRECTV numbers. He was very careful about his wording, and he did not share their internal "Blizzard Direct" figures. How interesting.

However, RAYV sure did share this information in one of their official case studies.

Blizzcon 2010 served over 550,000 unique viewers watching over 100,000,000 minutes of online streaming in a single weekend, The [sic] premium package subscription cost $40 and included HD streaming of the entire event plus a special “pet code” [sic]
This was no typo. 550,000 paid viewers are mentioned multiple times in various RAYV releases. (Update: Even though they "served" customers and mention the premium package in the same statement, it's possible that there could be a percentage of free stream viewers in that 550k figure.)

So, there were 95,000 to 100,000 paid DIRECTV customers and over 550,000 paid BLIZZARD customers. HOLY CRAP.

Blizzard only revealed the 95,000 number though. It was a preplanned, calculated, and strategically worded delivery of speech. :)

It makes so much sense too.. with more than 25,000 (to 27,000) attendees and tickets selling out in minutes, why would virtual attendees only be 3x that number? 650,000+ viewers makes much more sense, but Blizzard does NOT want you to know this information.

It's exactly like what Michael Morhaime said, "margins are higher when we sell direct." SIGNIFICANTLY HIGHER when sold direct, in fact. (I mentioned that citation yesterday too.)

In their partnership with DIRECTV, they are probably taking a larger cut away from Blizzard. But, by using RAYV technology (back in 2009 and 2010) using their own website and resources, they made a TON more revenue from virtual ticket sales.

But 2011 is even more interesting.

During the Blizzcon 2011 Opening Ceremonies, Michael Morhaime gave a "shout out" specifically to the DIRECTV members only. He said there were "more than 60,000 from 130 countries who bought a virtual ticket." So sneaky. :)

He didn't mention the number of virtual attendees who watched through the direct Blizzard live feed though. And last year, it was over 5 times the number of DIRECTV customers.

SO, IS YOUR MIND BLOWN NOW? (Hopefully not just by the number of actual viewers, but also the other revelation.)

If there were 100,000 DIRECTV customers last year, but only 60,000 this year, it's very likely that even more customers are using the Blizzard live stream this year. (By the way, there were "over 26,000" attendees announced at Blizzcon 2011 vs "over 25,000" at Blizzcon 2010.)

How much do you want to bet that the Blizzard live stream numbers will NOT be shared at this upcoming shareholders meeting? They'll only announce the outsourced DIRECTV figures, and very carefully word it. :)

Blizzard is okay with sharing numbers on behalf of partners or citing research publications (who don't have access to their internal digital numbers), but they're highly secretive when it comes to internal figures and revenues.

* UPDATE (10/26/2011)

RAYV has just updated their blog with statistics from the Blizzcon 2011 live stream.
For the third year in a row, RayV partnered with Blizzard and Direct TV to broadcast Blizzcon to virtual ticket holders. The virtual ticket increases in popularity every year. Virtual ticket holders can tune in on their computers and watch all performances, panels, and matches live. The virtual ticket also guarantees VOD access for up to two weeks after the event is over.

For the first time, RayV also streamed regional Blizzard Tournaments. RayV streamed the GomTV tournament, based in Korea, and the SiTV tournament, based in China. Both streams added to the global reach of the Blizzard and RayV community.

The Blizzcon stream attracted countless online viewers. Over the weekend, RayV delivered over 2.26 Million hours of streamed content. There were over 740,000 viewers worldwide and at some points there were approximately 200,000 concurrent viewers.
So, Michael Morhaime announced that there were "more than 60,000" DIRECTV users who purchased the 2011 virtual ticket. But, there were another 740,000 viewers who used the Blizzard live stream instead of DIRECTV (this figure might also include those who watched the Opening Ceremony and SC2/WOW matches).

Those viewer counts are crazy, no wonder Blizzard doesn't like to share them. The "revealed" DIRECTV paid customers is just a fraction of the "unrevealed" paid customers who go through Blizzard directly. A good example of why digital sales are never revealed either.. if they're not there yet, retail sales will eventually just be a fraction of digital sales.

* -------------------

It's all about wording too, like what this blog has discussed so many.. many times. Remember when they said Blizzcon was a financial loss for the company.. but it was spoken in past tense? Or when Tom Chilton claimed that Mists of Pandaria was just a crazy rumor and speculation?

If you guys were interested in tallying up sales, Blizzcon tickets cost $175 (they were $100 for several years, then $125 in 2009, and then $150 in 2010). Virtual tickets cost $40 this year and last. (In 2010, they made approximately $30 million in revenue with $3-4 million in expenses.)

Because they're delivering streaming services themselves this year, their profit is probably even higher.

Activision Blizzard Objectives

All of these deceptive choice of words and "special features" are showing very clear objectives for the company and just how important it is to keep it secret. When Michael Morhaime said that he's a crazy CEO who gets to make crazy decisions, and "what if we just made Diablo 3 available for free to World of Warcraft subscribers".. that wasn't just a crazy "idea". It was with purpose and it was all part of a strategic plan for the company.

Their objective is to push digital sales of games, expansion packs and DLC as much as possible. Digital sales (and providing sales and services themselves) is more important to them than even Paid Services. DIGITAL SALES IS HUGE FOR THEM. And they're realizing it even more every day since a few years ago.

And, I don't think Blizzard wants their competitors to know just how much money they're making from digital sales. Profit margins are massive if you can cut out the middlemen. They're doing it with games, services, music, and even video streams now.

If other competitors aren't already doing this, they will be hurting badly and simply cannot compete with Activision Blizzard. There are just so many businesses out there that haven't realized the importance of digital delivery and just providing these services in house. They should be outsourcing labor, but OWNING the digital delivery systems and finding clever ways to get their customers to buy from their digital stores. This is how Activision Blizzard is destroying the competition.. if competitors can't keep up, they'll be just like Blockbuster still trying to rent out VHS tapes.

Future Plans

With their heavy emphasis on digital delivery, you can bet that both Activision and Blizzard will be finding new ways (and special promotions like "$10 off if you buy online" or "get it free by buying this") to push digital sales. One method is degrading the quality of retail boxes and promoting environmentalism or "green incentives" to move into digital.

Having an easy delivery system and purchase platform is key. The RMAH "B.NET BUCKS" system is a brilliant method to push even more digital sales.

And you can bet that Titan will be HUGE into the digital delivery system. Special coupons or incentives to buy Titan online, purchase DLC digitally, purchase expansion packs online, seamless client upgrade systems, etc.

To continue pushing the digital delivery method (to eventually replace most of their retail sales), Titan will also be incorporating a heavy payment system internal to Battle.net (e.g. more "B.NET BUCKS") If users can make money using Titan, they'll use their Battle.net credits to purchase more games or Titan expansion packs. Titan expansion packs will probably be smaller and delivered more quickly too, since they weren't able to do it in time for WOW but they can still do it for Titan. And with their digital sales objective, it makes much more sense.

More people (and in particular video game competition) need to be aware of where real game sales profit lies.

GTA V Announced

Posted by Daeity On

Right on the front page.

Teaser trailer will be posted there on November 2, 2011.

Apparently, all those resume searches and voice acting job finds really did indicate GTA 5 even though everyone (including Rockstar) was saying otherwise. :)

Good timing for the "Gaming Leaks; a How To" posts too. Now you know how people found out about GTA 5 earlier this year.

Wary of the WOW Annual Pass

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 24, 2011

The WOW Annual Pass was quite an interesting new announcement at Blizzcon.. it's actually quite brilliant and I have to commend the marketing team.

Here is more information on the Annual Pass which I will be referencing.

From what I understand, this was a last minute change. It was probably an idea developed (or just implemented from an earlier idea) within the past 3 months or so after they decided not to make the surprise Christmas announcement.

It's being marketed just like a mobile contract. If you sign up with us, you get this fancy new phone for free.. and you only have to pay month to month! Cancel anytime you want! (Many view this contract scheme as a scam, but it's pleasantly ignored when it comes to a video game.)

Just like mobile contracts, users on jumping on board without considering the consequences. And, it's a common human trait not to fully understand long term consequences (which is being exploited by clever marketers) after all.

Here are some things to consider:

  • You CANNOT cancel the monthly payments, so you better make sure you don't run out of funds and save up in advance (in case of monetary emergencies.)
  • In order to be eligible, you need to pay for a recurring subscription already. Meaning that it will cost you an additional month (13 months) to get the offer: "Prior to accepting the offer you must have a recurring World of Warcraft subscription active on the associated account."
  • You are stuck with the 12+1 month subscription, and it's deducted on a month to month basis.
  • You are buying the standard digital copy only. You do not get a retail box.
  • If you fail to make a payment: you lose the items, your account is disabled, you are charged the full amount for Diablo 3, and Blizzard is within their right to sue you: "If your World of Warcraft subscription lapses during the Twelve Month Commitment, or if you fail to make any required payments or timely payments, Blizzard reserves the right to terminate your participation in this offer in addition to any and all other remedies that may be available to Blizzard at law."
  • Because of the guaranteed beta access, other WOW players are penalized access for this. It further encourages them to participate in the offer.
  • You're locked into playing WOW even when D3 comes out next year. It's a limited time offer too, so you need to act fast!
  • You are stuck with an entire year's subscription during a time when new games will be coming out: Skyrim, Guild Wars 2, Tera Online, SWTOR, Torchlight 2, Path of Exile, The Secret World, etc.
  • When you're stuck with a subscription, you feel obligated to play the game to avoid a wasted expenditure.
  • It's a great way to keep Blizzard players away from new MMOs and more importantly, their competitors.
  • It gets Diablo 3 players to play WOW, and gets WOW users playing Diablo 3.
  • Having so many players locked into a 1 year contract increases their subscriber counts (vanity figures for impressing shareholders) even if the accounts aren't being played. It's "Subscriber" counts, not actual players.
  • Michael Morhaime stated that "their margins are higher when we sell direct." It's in Blizzards best interest to get you to use their digital downloads.. they are saving a ton of money by you not buying retail (they also lose a major cut from the retail sale too.)
  • This is also why the new D3 RMAH and PayPal relationship is so important.. by building up B.NET bucks, their profit margins are going to skyrocket compared to retail loss. This is the future of all of their games. Keep your money within Blizzard, buy digital. Degrading the quality of retail boxes is a great way to encourage digital purchases too. (Remember the quality of materials that retail boxes used to carry?)
A very clever move, just like the Pokemon style combat pets.

(Blizzard will be selling even more pets in the Blizzard Pet Store now, with special pets having new abilities. Since it's not "game impacting" and only for "vanity pets", then it's perfectly acceptable to start selling weapons and armor.. but just on pets. (I don't literally mean real weapons and armor.. I'm talking special skills and pet stats.) It's also opening up WOW to a younger crowd, whereas Diablo 3 is targetting a more older/serious crowd. They'll have a couple games now to hold over the various demographic groups until Titan comes out for a more larger demographic.)

I wouldn't recommend the WOW Annual Pass for anyone.. unless either you're rich or you live in Australia. $100 for Diablo 3 is a pain in the ass, I'm so sorry for you guys. This deal is much more beneficial to you guys than everywhere else.

For everyone else though, please consider the repercussions.

The big problem I have is that you're FORCED to start paying for the WOW Subscription right away, during the time when Diablo 3 and other MMOs come out. It would be much more fair to players if you could buy the WOW Annual Pass now, but start using it at any time you want. But, their plan is to get users paying monthly fees for a year, knowing fully well that they'll never actually be playing WOW. Brilliant marketing strategy.

Whoops.. my mic was on.

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, October 22, 2011

Apparently, several Blizzcon live stream listeners overhead a private conversation between Kat Hunter and Geoff Keighley. They weren't aware that their mics were still on, and they were discussing what now is considered a Warcraft IV leak.

This just comes one day after they were talking about how they were surprised there were no leaks. :) It looks like the audio has been cut out (so it wasn't just a rehearsal of something they were going to say) from the stream if you try to rewind now, but I'm hunting around to see if anyone had recorded it.

Here are some pieces of what was discussed:

* Kat Hunter was singing and cursing about her ear piece.
* Kat complaining about Metzen, he was pissed at her for leaking Warcraft 4.

Geoff: "I can't believe you leaked Warcraft 4."
Geoff: "Chris Metzen is pissed about you breaking the news."
Kat?: "Yeah, there was no leaks until Kat Hunter was here"

Sources: 1 2

There a lot of talk on twitter about it too.

Here's a transcript of the conversation, care of Mascotte who still had the conversation cached:

K: Look at those great razer headsets
G: I know
G: Fansy
G: Hello everybody, welcome to our live set
G: (Responding to an unheard question): Yeah
G: (Responding to an unheard question): Right..
(Music playing now, hard to hear anything besides it)
K: Yes thank you
(Someone eating an apple or something)
K: *Coughing*
K: *eating microphone it sounds*
K, now on phone: I need you to do me a favor, you dont have to do it but i need someone to do it this morning, i need you to take the camera in the office, its in the red box by the desk to the left, i need to document every shelf on the store on the backside
(This really isnt interesting at all, just typing this for completion sake)
K: And if someone can take pictures of the front of hall and display cases which is estimated at 4:30
K: And if security stops you say that you have authorization from (full name of someone, not posting since it doesn't add anything) to photograph the art store ony.
K: Thank you, bye.
(couple of seconds of nothing ness)
G(Talking to unknown third person): So am i sure you understand this euh.. Cool.
G: Is there sounds up here or we dont know?
G: OMG they are here! (Reacting to people walking in it seems)
G: For the hordee.., For the hordee
K: Why are they running?
G: For the hordee.., For the hordee
K: Yeah they are coming in.
G: Go go gooo
K: (Awkward laugh)
G: Omg they got warcraft 4 overhere (directed towards the people entering)
K: *Laughing* Yeah..
G: Yes Kat, Kat broke the news yesterday of warcraft 4 (This are his exact words, not MoP, not WoW, Warcraft 4)
K: There are no *Interrupted by G*
G: Metzen was pissed about that.
K: There are no leaks untill Kat Hunter got on stage.
G: I know!
G: Metzen was like how fucking will you..
K: Yeah couldn't believe she (talking in third person now) leaked warcraft 4.
G: Couldn't believe it either!
G: Sow how late was it last night?
K: Didnt get done until 11:30 (This is where the conversation shifts towards what time she ended up going to bed etc so im stopping right here).
Sounds like Kat was imitating Chris Metzen, "I can't believe she leaked Warcraft 4." It was related to a conversation from the previous day with Michael Morhaime where she accidentally asked about WC4 but received no denial (i.e, "All RTS resources currently focused on SC2"). This added conversation, however, does confirm that they know it was an accidental leak.

(I'm still digging up more information, will update as this progresses. But it looks like folks can still record the conversation if it was precached.)

Here we go, this is an audio recording of the WC4 specific conversation towards the end. Even if it was an accident, it shouldn't have been that big of a deal. But Kat sounds very upset about the whole ordeal, Geoff is making fun of her, Metzen is pissed with her, and Blizzard edited the audio stream to remove the conversation. Normally I would just ignore it (ie, the accident from yesterday), but the serious response to the "leak" tells me it was, in fact, a leak. :)

And, here's the full recording, thanks to Mascotte.

Kat made a Twitter response regarding Warcraft 4. It looks like it was posted about 1 hour before her new leak. Poor Kat. Geoff was being a pain in the ass, and she sounded very uncomfortable and maybe a little scared about the whole thing.. but it definitely didn't sound like sarcasm to me.
22 Oct
@kathunter haha, that was icky! we also heard you talk about warcraft 4...oops? ;P
@AmehSweet seriously there is no Warcraft 4. It is a joke from yesterday :)

22 Oct
@kathunter why did you talk about warcraft4 before preshow today but we never heard of it again
@Linkie1987 because Geoff and I were making fun of the misunderstanding the day before. We thought it was funny.
Nice cover. So, Kat Hunter, Licensing Project Manager at Blizzard for almost 3 years, prior Frag Doll, professional gamer, and avid World of Warcraft player was confused about the difference between WoW Mists of Pandaria and Warcraft IV. Uh huh.. sure. :)

Kat Hunter would never.. EVER.. confuse World of Warcraft's "4th Expansion Pack" with "Warcraft 4". A lot of users are attributing her mistake to not understanding the difference, which isn't true.

I wonder if she's talking about the "first mistake" or "second mistake" though, before the confidential conversation with Geoff?

* UPDATE:

If anyone has a virtual pass, would you mind recording the other Kat mention of Warcraft 4? Virtual ticket holders need to goto the WoW Class Talent System panel from day 1, and jump to the end. Then keep jumping forwards until you reach the in-between panel with Geoff and Kat. A YouTube link would be greatly appreciated. :) Apparently, she wasn't joking when she said she spoke to Metzen and other Blizzard developers and they said "Warcraft 4 is coming down the line". It was made distinct from the X4 expansion pack too (she said it was in addition to X4/MoP coming out, so it appears there's a lore integration being made).

There were a total of 3 conversations held regarding Warcraft 4. Only 2 of them were captured and posted publicly unfortunately. The first was with Kat and Metzen (which Blizzard deleted immediately from the stream) where she asked Metzen about WC4 and how she was talking to developers who were working on it, and he became visibily upset (she was definitely not talking to the dev team about MOP though). The second video, which is on YouTube, has Kat trying to cover it. And the third video is when Geoff is making fun of her, while both are trying to play it off as an accident.

NDA: Mostly For Bad Reviews

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Anyone getting the impression that the SWTOR Beta NDA isn't going to be lifted until just a couple weeks before retail or maybe even not at all? (ie, once retail hits, then everyone is free to post their reviews.)

I always figured that NDA's were probably lifted late, on purpose, if the developer/publisher knew that the reviews might do poorly. And companies like Blizzard that make great games would typically lift their NDAs much longer before the actual release date.

So, I looked back at some of the major releases over the past few years for comparison:

Age of Conan - NDA lifted May 1 2008, Released May 20 2008 (PVP specific NDA was lifted on Apr 19, but the General/Technical beta remained intact.)
RIFT - NDA lifted Dec 22 2010, Released Mar 1 2011
Earthrise - NDA lifted Jan 25, Released Feb 4 2011
Warhammer Online - NDA lifted Aug 19 2008, Released Sep 18 2008
Hellgate London - NDA lifted Oct 19 2007, Released Oct 31 2007
Matrix Online - NDA lifted Feb 14 2005, Released Mar 22 2005
Tabula Rasa - NDA lifted Sep 7 2007, Released Nov 2 2007 (Early Rls: Oct 30 2007)
Darkfall Online - NDA lifted Feb 18, 2009, Released Feb 25, 2009
DC Universe Online - NDA lifted Dec 6 2010, Released Jan 11 2011
Fallen Earth - NDA lifted Aug 18 2009, Released Sep 22 2009
Champions Online - NDA lifted Aug 17, 2009, Released Sep 1 2009
COD Elite - NDA lifted Aug 16 2011, Released Nov 8 2011
Cataclysm - NDA lifted Jun 30 2010, Released Dec 7 2010
Wrath of the Lich King - NDA lifted Jul 18 2008, Released Nov 13 2008
Starcraft 2 - NDA lifted Aug 17 2009, Released Jul 27 2010
DOTA 2 - NDA lifted Sep 22 2011, TBA 2012 Release Date
Diablo 3 - NDA lifted Aug 1 2011, TBA 2012 Release Date

(I would have liked to include Aion Online, but that game had multiple release dates, name changes, and NDAs for different geographies and it was just too weird.)

Are you beginning to see a pattern? Games that have done poorly (bad reviews) typically had very short periods of time between NDA lift and release (1 month or less). Average games would be about 2 months. And games that the publisher knew would do very well have their NDAs lifted 6+ months in advance.

NDA vs Release Date timing is a very good indicator of how much trust a company has in their game and a good determining factor of success.

It's sort of like preview trailers. If they show more pre-rendered videos and bullet point features than actual gameplay, it's not a very good sign.

If you can think of any other online or MMO games to add to the list, let me know.

It's so quiet..

Posted by Daeity On

I'm finding that investigating new information on the net is getting pretty hard to come by. Unfortunately, there are a lot of tighter controls and internal policies now on how employees are allowed to act or what they are allowed to publish online (small things that they didn't consider before). It wasn't like this 2+ years ago. :)

With all of the exclusive Google sleuthing, I'm also seeing ways in which the search engine can be significantly improved so that casual searchers can get better information. I might write something up on that subject sometime in the future.

Anyways, with most gaming leak information drying up, I'm creating a new post all about finding gaming leaks yourself. And, how anyone can do it themselves with just some simple automated tools.

I'm also trying to finish up a bunch of other stuff, since we'll all be pretty busy this entire weekend and I probably won't be able to post anything new until after the weekend. Other than Blizzcon, I also have a ton of other real life stuff going on this weekend (so I'm going to be missing the second half of the Blizzcon streams on both days unfortunately).

I'm not really expecting much, though. We all pretty much know by now what's going to be happening at Blizzcon:

  • Mists of Pandaria video during the opening ceremonies part providing all of the expansion pack details, the non-hero class, and a playable demo. (I can already hear that same Cataclysm narrator saying: "Azeroth has been shattered, but meanwhile within the MISTS there lurks a new evil..")
  • SC2: Heart of the Swarm video and game details (players will see new units, gameplay sequences, and be able to play the HOTS expansion pack)
  • Diablo 3 (stations setup for playing, new details, more Beta Keys given away)
  • I'm hoping for a little surprise though, like the new D3 release date. After all, the original Blizzcon 2011 plan was to have a big Christmas surprise (i.e. late November D3 release date) announcement.
  • I can see the whole event almost being identical to Blizzcon 2009 actually. Metzen introducing SC2 units, talk about rumor and speculation, and then the big MoP reveal.
  • Mike Morhaime making nervous and unfunny jokes in the beginning before Metzen is brought in. Recap of the "amazing" Blizzcon 2010, and then a recap of Blizzcon 2011 during the closing ceremonies (ugh).
So yeah.. it's all pretty quiet.

But, you know.. there is this little thing that kind of started a little while ago. Enjoy. :)

Leaks List

Posted by Daeity On

I was thinking about going back and updating this old "Leaks, leaks, and More Leaks" post by the Original Daeity.

With all of the recent game leaks happening, it's too hard to pass up keeping that list going. I'm also writing up a bunch of other information leak posts that you'll find very interesting, and I'm trying to pump out all of my drafts and posts as quickly as possible before this weekend when things get really busy for all of us. :)

Here's what I have so far:

Battlefield 3 PC - Leaked Oct 16, Release Date: Oct 25
Gears of War 3 XBOX360 - Leaked Jul 2, Release Date: Sep 20
Batman: Arkham City XBOX360 - Leaked Oct 13, Release Date: Nov 21
RAGE XBOX360 / PS3 - Leaked Sep 30, Release Date: Oct 4
Deus Ex: Human Revolution X360 / PS3 - Leaked Aug 18, Release Date: Aug 23 (Retailer broke street date.)
Resistance 3 PS3 - Leaked Aug 20, Release Date: Sep 6
The Witcher 2 PC - Leaked May 8, Release Date: May 17

Am I missing any other big game leaks?

Old Post Update

Posted by Daeity On

I don't know if you guys noticed or not, but I made a quick update to The Original Daeity's old "Profit from Blizzard Authenticators?" post a while back.

I found an official investment-related document that proved everything he wrote was completely accurate. :)

The "Vasco Data Security International" 2006 document is here.

In it, Vasco (the manufacturer of the Blizzard Authenticator GoPass 6 line) detailed that in 2004, their cost per token was ~$3.50. In 2005, it was ~$3.00 each. And in 2006, it cost ~$2.00 each per token. You can imagine how much they probably cost now, especially with their significantly higher sales figures, bulk purchasing, and new technologies. It would be perfectly fair, though, to state that they cost no more than $2 each.

This document was also for the entire Digipass line, and the Blizzard Authenticator models are what you would call, the "bottom of the barrel." So those "Costs Per Token" also included their more expensive (on average) tokens. :)

Very interesting insight into the company though, for those who are completely convinced that tokens cost $10-20 to manufacture. There are tokens out there that can cost $1 to make, and then wholesalers/resellers put them up for $30-60 each.

If people only knew how much everyday ordinary items REALLY cost to manufacture and ship... :) Corporations need to keep all of this information highly confidential (oil, cars, paper products, food, electricity) or else there would be public outrage.

And so it begins..

Posted by Daeity On

I've been seeing a lot of recent excitement on the Diablo 3 forums about user operated gambling, the most popular of these being the Arena / PVP Gambling.

http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3341759283
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3393349439
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3123032773
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3195920425
http://us.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/3182738500
http://eu.battle.net/d3/en/forum/topic/2690982214
http://forums.battle.net/thread.html?topicId=27810240878

It's no surprise that a lot of players are highly supportive of gambling within the game and all of this was bound to happen. They're already talking ideas on how to do it, rules, and making initial preparations well in advance of the game's release.

My favorite part was when a user said that placing a wage on an arena fight was not illegal or gambling because their actions are skills-based and there's no luck involved. I love hearing all of these justifications. :)

What's interesting about these forum posts, though, is that they're not being told NOT to do this. These forums are moderated, and when players start talking about gambling, cheating, exploitation, or discrimination in WOW forums, for example, they are reprimanded and censored.

All of this reminds me of classic internet libel cases. Companies are much more "protected" if their forums are left unmoderated because they have no control over what users post. The logic goes something like this; if you have a forum that is unmoderated, it's like a library where users can write libelous material in their books. They don't know about it, and hence can't be held responsible for it. However, if you have complete control over all subject matter and approve what is written, then you are responsible for all content and "officially support" what is written.

Now, that specifically deals with libel of course, but it can also apply directly to personal opinions within any moderated forum. If a forum is moderated and content is reviewed, then anything that is written is "supported" by the forum owner. When you talk bad about a company (their game, rules, people, etc), the content is deleted or edited. Good, supportive, and praising comments are left alone. Of course, some posts are hard to spot, and those get by, but when you have very popular (and multiple) posts with thousands of players saying the same thing, then whatever they write (or the idea they are promoting) is essentially "supported" by the company. :)

SWTOR Sales Speculation

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 14, 2011

SWTOR will be launching late December, and I thought it might be fun to make some predictions on their future sales figures.

So, Battlefield 3 pre-orders are over 1.5 million (Sept 20, 2011) and over 1.25 million (Sept 7, 2011). And, EA has stated that "SWTOR far exceed BF3's pre-order sales." (July 26, 2011) On August 29, BF3 pre-orders were over 800,000 and SWTOR pre-orders were 380,000. On July 23 (within a couple days of their "far exceeds" announcement, BF3 pre-orders were 467,000 (not including PC, so it was probably close to 500,000.)

(* Updated the entry above because I'm confused. SWTOR pre-orders started on July 21, 2011 but I don't know when the BF3 pre-orders started. BF3 pre-orders should have been around 500,000 at the time of the July announcement, meaning that SWTOR pre-orders should have been between 0.5 and 1 million.)

With December 20 still a couple months away, those pre-order figures will still continue to rise especially as we get closer to the release date.

Right now, pre-orders should be atleast 1.5 million, but because EA stated that they "far exceed" (but not double) BF3 numbers, pre-orders should be about 2-2.5 million. As we get closer to December, pre-orders should be around 2.5-3 million.

(Hey, by the way.. did you notice that the SWTOR pre-order comes with an exclusive Training Droid? It's a non-vanity COMBAT pet. I guess we know EA's stance on virtual items and sales.. if they do this now, you know they'll do it later.)

I kind of have a hard time believing that number though. It's been such a long time that a MMO has been able to achieve those numbers of players.

I looked at RIFT as a possible comparison, but it just won't work. If you try searching for RIFT Subscription Figures, you'll probably come across the "1.3 million subscribers" post on the official forums.

"In a statement today, Trion Worlds announced their new flagship title Rift: Planes of Telara™ has exceeded all expectations, shifting in excess of 1.3 Million units. Digital sales amounted to a staggering 1 million, whilst physical copies came in at a respectable 300,000. A spokesperson was quoted as saying "Maybe we're closer to Azeroth afterall", poking fun at their own marketting slogan in relation to their success in comparsion to the current top dog World of Warcraft."
However, this was just an April's fool joke.. if you couldn't already tell by the multiple spelling errors and poor grammar.

In reality, actual RIFT sales figures are about 400,000.

If you recall, Trion Worlds was bragging a while back about having "One Million Players" but these were just vanity figures invoked from "internal calculations". There's a massive difference between 1,000,000 players and 400,000 games sales (which probably has even less players). There was no outrage about this clear distinction, but WOW fans sure do get upset when you suggest that Blizzard does the same: "What!?? Blizzard would NEVER do that.. it would be ILLEGAL for them to give wrong subscriber numbers. THEY HAVE SHAREHOLDERS TO ANSWER TO DAMMIT! THEY CAN'T JUST MAKE UP SUBS!" Everyone else does it and they have shareholders to answer to.. so, why is Blizzard any different?

And, I can't really compare it to Age of Conan. They anticipated hitting 1M sales, but never reached their target. They also dropped 3/4 of their subscribers after the first month.

There is really no other MMO that can be used as a comparison.

So..

At current trends, there should be at least 3 million subscribers over the first month. This period is crucial too, and they will require excellent online reviews in order for their numbers to continue growing. But, from what I've read online there are a lot of people disappointed by the game and how it's too similar to WOW (which they have stopped playing due to boredom.) Most of the reviews have been very poor, and I know that EA has been trying to control these reviews as much as possible until after the game is officially released.

To that end, here's my prediction:

I think that right out of the gate, SWTOR will sell less than 3 million copies. Most of those figures will be digital / pre-orders. There will be poor reviews post launch, and many players will abandon the game after the first month. It won't be a massive exodus like what AoC experienced, but I'm going to guess at least 30% of the players will quit shortly after their first month (say 2-3 months after launch).

During the first couple weeks, EA/Bioware will be bragging about how great their sales figures are and how "successful" the game still is while trying to keep hype and momentum going. But, gamers will be more interested in the reviews and what their friends think. Normally a publisher would mention what review scores they are receiving and by whom, but in this case they will just pick out "certain quotes" from reviews and post the single quotes instead: "the graphics are phenomenal!", "the story is engaging!", "lag issues weren't that bad..", etc. etc.

(I'm hoping for a review scandal. :) EA threatens to remove advertising revenue due to bad reviews for example. Keep your eyes open on this one.. sudden changes in who reviews the game, reviews are up for a day then deleted, layoffs, angry blog protests, etc.)

During their Q3 2012 Shareholders meeting (during the first week of February), they'll talk about how greatly successful the game was.. and just pretend that their shareholders didn't read any of the reviews.

By mid 2012, subscribers will probably be around 1.5 to 2.0 million at the most. Still, not a bad chunk of probably many WOW (and some RIFT) players.

If I learn anything new, I'll update my estimates before December. But, I think the beta reviews that are slowly leaking out may halt pre-order growth. I might even need to start considering pre-order cancellations if the more disappointing reviews go viral.

* I'm going to have to make some updates, I'll wait to see if EA provides any new information. It's looking more like a RIFT situation though, but maybe with slightly more players in the beginning.

* UPDATE:

I'm going to cut some of those numbers in half, I just find it really hard to believe that a new MMO is going to have any where close to 2 or even 3 million subscribers. I think first month sales will probably be under 1.5 million (approx. 900,000 pre-orders and maybe 300-400k retail sales). I'm still expecting an exodus of players though once the reviews start to hit - so I'm sticking with the approx. 30% cut. I think most reviews will be "disappointing" but if they are "TERRIBLE" reviews, then that exodus will be much larger. If they can keep delivering major content, I think they can stabilize at around 1 million players and then slowly grow to probably 2 million over the first year.

* UPDATE (12/06/11):

I'm going to revise my numbers again. A lot of the information being peddled out by EA/Bioware is very misleading, which actually concerns me. And based on the active beta players, I don't think it's going to be over 1 million. It's "supposed" to be atleast 1.5 million based on what Bioware is saying.. but I'm going to estimate 900k sales for first day sales (which includes all pre-orders.) Even that seems really high and I have my doubts. If they do hit 1 million during the first day, I'll be very impressed.. then after the first month is when things get really interesting. :)

* UPDATE (12/15/11):

Even though sources are saying that pre-orders are near 950,000, the launch is 2 weeks away, and they still don't include digital orders and retail copies, I'm still going to stick with a low number. :)

You'll probably think I'm crazy.

Based on the most internet sites, it "should" be at the very least 1.5 million on the first day, and if you believe the publisher hype, it should be more than 2.5 million first day sales.

Even with all of that overwhelming information, I'm throwing caution to the wind and I'm still sticking with about 900k sales on the first day. If you want some more flexibility, I'll make a guess at somewhere between 800,000 and 1,000,000. :)

The "staying power" of SWTOR will be the most interesting. After the first month, will subscribers rise or fall?

LA Noire DLC - Useless?

Posted by Daeity On

Is there really any point to DLC for LA Noire?

I suppose it depends on what your definition of DLC is too.. to me, it should be something that expands a story, there are new discoveries, or it brings in something new, fun and useful.

The problem with LA Noire though, is that the main character (Det. Phelps) dies at the end of story. And because of the type of game, the DLC is pretty much limited to vanity aesthetics (suits, cars, etc.) and storyline driven DLC.

LA Noire DLC is a collection of "old adventures" before his death.

Does that interest you? If you found out that a TV series was revealed to be "all just a dream", would you even watch it in the first place?

With Phelps dead, what's the point in continuing the story? If he had lived, at least there would have been new "adventures" for you to follow, and the story could have been further extended or developed.

I think what had happened was that they didn't think it through clearly, and just tried to borrow from the success of RDR's DLC. But, they didn't consider the major differences between the two game genres.

RDR is a multiplayer action GTA-style game. (In the GTA games too, there's very little empathy for the main character as they are really just an outlet for your more villainous inner desires. If your character dies, no big deal, the next GTA will just have a new "bad guy" to play anyways.) RDR DLC consists of mostly new weapons or multiplayer maps. Besides, John's son Jack could just carry on his legacy if the story were ever extended in future DLC.

LA Noire, though, is completely different. It was marketed as a Single Player detective game with an immersive story line. The types of people who buy this game weren't interested in multiplayer shooting and action gameplay, but rather the story and it's people.

Your DLC options are pretty limited here. Why would you create a story, plan on extending the story, but have the main character DIE before extending the story?

It's just a simple logic failure, and I hope it's a lesson learned. DLC could have been MUCH more successful if Phelps was still alive, and they continued to develop his story and personal development. You need to get people addicted to a story; one where they can't wait to find out what happens next.

Perhaps LA Noire should have ended with a cliff hanger instead: the players are left wondering what happened to Phelps in the storm drain, and there was an "anonymous" funeral at the end of LA Noire instead. DLC for storyline driven games need to be marketed like successful novels.. you keep buying more books in the series to see what happens to your favorite characters next.

Metzen Comments on Lore

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I try to soak up as much information about Titan as possible, and I noticed something interesting in a PC Gamer article about GDC 2011 that they seemed to pick up on that no one else has written about (yet).

Here's what was odd about the article:

Chris Metzen is first talking about WOW lore, then customization, and then this continuation along the same line of thought:

“It’d be really cool if I could design my own castle and have people run through it. It’d be fun if I could design this big, epic quest line and let my friends run through it. The thing you run up against is quality level. With WoW, you’re going to get millions of submissions. There’s a lot of creative people out there. But maintaining a level of editorial control and quality control is just logistically impossible. But it’s something we talk about from time to time. I think it would be amazing if we were able to open this thing up.”
And then he talks about the following, like a "While we're on this subject.."
“Obviously, I can’t get into what our thinking is in particular [with Titan],” he said. “But if you’re fortunate enough to have that hit game that’s beloved by X number of people, that expectation of performing again or outdoing the competition that’s also learned from your big hit can become very, very intense.”
So.. was this part of his speech? He's talking about customization within games, which relates to the subject of Titan. Or was this a separate line of questioning?

I'll know more if I can ever get my hands on a video recording of the event. But, I thought it was of note since PC Gamer themselves made a connection between the two.

However, on the subject of their Next Gen game Nathan Grayson did continue to say:
And there’s plenty more where that came from. I was fortunate enough to sit down with Metzen after the panel for an exclusive interview, and you’ll see that in the coming days.
Implying that there should be actual Titan information, but I think he just worded it this way to attract more readers.. or maybe it was just incorrect formatting.

Weak-ly Updates

Posted by Daeity On

  • Mynsc's tweet about the Titan Timeline cause a little bit of a stir within Blizzard HQ. About 3 people came here directly from the Twitter page, and then there was a rush of some 25-30 users shortly after (and the following day) who appeared to have been emailed the direct link. Might just have been non-Titan employees who were interested in what was going on though.

  • Fallen Earth is going F2P this Wednesday apparently. Should be interesting, I've never played it before but I was never going to pay a subscription for it.

  • The most interesting development yesterday, which shouldn't come as a surprise, was Blizzard's unique approach to implementing an acceptable RMT method within World of Warcraft. Pay $10 for a BOE pet, sell pet in-game for gold. It's also only a single pet that you can buy, unlike past pets that would be available on all of your characters.
    Q: Could I put the Guardian Cub up on the auction house to try to make some gold if I wanted to?

    While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services. However, please keep in mind that there's never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they'll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. (You can read more about our stance here.) While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling “black market” and account theft.

    Q: What about future Pet Store pets?

    It's too early to say how we'll handle future Pet Store pets. We made this change in response to feedback from players looking for alternate ways to get the Pet Store pets, and we're always looking into other opportunities for improvement. We're interested in hearing what players think of the Guardian Cub when it launches, and we hope you'll have fun with this new flying friend.
    Funny how they, once again, stated that this RMT implementation was not because they wanted to do it, but because "players asked for it." :)

    It sure did cause a lot of uproar though. Players are reacting like Blizzard has defiled or tainted the game. It's inevitable though.. their existing Paid Services aren't as profitable now, and they're under direction from Vivendi to continuously find new ways to drive revenue.

    Unfortunately, because this is only ONE item, Blizzard will be benefiting from this RMT method far more than users will. With some many players attempting to profit from the pet (thinking that no one else will be doing it), the in-game price of the pet is going to plummet.

    Bashiok also wrote:
    TCG Loot card mounts like the Spectral Tiger have been BoE for a long time now (since patch 3.2), and that was and continues to be well-received, and as far as we've been able to tell hasn't had any adverse impact to the game or economy - despite them selling for sometimes astronomical amounts of gold.

    It’s potentially worth noting that no new gold is being introduced into the game's economy with those mounts or the new Guardian Cub pet.

    Our goal with the Guardian Cub is to provide alternative ways for players who don't want to spend real money to add these pets to their collection. Even though this has been available a while now with the TCG mounts, this is obviously a new kind of way to deliver Pet Store pets, and we're definitely interested to hear your feedback and ultimately see how this will play out.

  • It's funny how players reacted saying "Blizzard is now making it LEGAL!" I hate it when people say "Blizzard making RMT legal".. seriously, it's just a policy. You can't get arrested for breaking a dress code policy at work.

  • Other than that, it's been pretty quiet. I've gotten my hands on RAGE and will be playing that over the next couple weeks. No point in talking about the game though, there are a lot of good reviews out there that pretty much echo the same experiences I've had with the game. So far, it's a little boring unfortunately.

D3 Map Randomization

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 5, 2011

If you haven't watched this video yet, you should really check it out.



This is just the beta, and I'm hoping that this is just an "Act 1 thing". But it appears that there's not as much randomization or larger maps like what I was expecting.

The beta is much like a game on rails (i.e. linear paths) where all outside environments are the exact same design, but with random placement of trees and mounds. Dungeons have more randomization, but they still use fixed points and identical passageways, so they're fairly easy to navigate no matter how many times they are generated (i.e. there are points of reference that help you select correctly when given multiple choices.)

Boss encounter areas are also static. Looking at all of this tells me that botting will be easier than I anticipated, and model editing more useful. With significantly larger maps and heavy randomization, exploits become more difficult, but I suppose they took this approach to take load off their servers (and increase game efficiency) during the randomization process.

Update:

VoidTester (see comments below) has updated me to a blue post about the randomization concern. Apparently, it is limited to Act 1 and it was meant to ease players into the game through a guided experience in the beginning. But, zones are much more randomized in the other Acts. Awesome news indeed.

Team Titan Timeline and Tribulations

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 3, 2011

Below is some informative information gathered from Sam "Slouken" Lantinga's blog (Direct Link) where he talks about his work on Titan Blizzard's other Untitled Project (not the Next Gen MMO). (* Updated here.)

(There are no details about the project, but rather his working experience with Blizzard on this project which is quite interesting.)

Sam was previously their Lead Software Engineer but now works at 38 Studios.

Here's a summarized timeline of everything that happened:

January 2009

(* Note: His resume says January 2008 which is when Titan began, and a year before the Untitled Project. However, Mike Sacco claims that this is wrong and January 2009 must be the correct date.)

First beginnings of Titan Blizzard's Untitled Project.

a job opened up for technical lead on a small unannounced project that was getting underway. It was a small project, with a short timeframe, at least for Blizzard, and it was a project that I personally was very interested in.
Approx. Feb/Mar 2009

Sam was promoted to Engineering Lead for the small project.

Between Feb/Mar 2009 and June 2009

Research phase, planning, and hiring for urgent positions.
researching engine technology, getting some of the infrastructure set up, and worked with the producer on a detailed technical plan for the project.

After that, since the designers had a solid idea for the game and were making great progress in the prototype, I started work on proving out the gameplay systems and hiring the most urgent engineering positions.
July 2009

Starcraft 2 launch became Blizzard's top priority, so most of the team were reassigned temporarily to help get Battle.net ready.
"Since our team was so small, most of us went to help out, including our producer and UI artist."
From July 2009 to July 2010

The team consisted of approx. 6-8 people, while everyone else was helping out with the SC2 launch.
"We kept a small crew of designers, an artist and our newly hired graphics engineer to keep the project alive during our tour of duty on Battle.net."
Between July and August 2010

SC2 launched, and team moved back to Titan the Untitled Project to continue the work that had been done over the following year.
"our producer was promoted to lead Battle.net producer, and the designers made great strides in evolving the game design and the gameplay model. The graphics engineer had completed the core of the graphics engine and was roughing out the tools pipeline and content creation system.

When we returned from Battle.net, I jumped right on getting our AI/gameplay engineer up to speed on the gameplay systems and started the herculean task of migrating code I had already finished over to the new gameplay model and tools systems that were developed while we were gone."
If you recall, this is when Kotick announced (August 2010) that they were ramping up production of the game, but it looks like the reason for this was partially because the Titan team was working on the SC2 launch and there was just a skeleton crew left behind.

November 2010

His various tasks (e.g. "migrating code to new gameplay model") upon returning to the game were completed.

Sam was called into a meeting and told that there were issues on the team. He knew of issues with the gameplay engineer, but apparently there were more, and goals & milestones were not being met.

A few days later, he was asked to perform an interview for his own job.

Other Notes

The team was feeling a lot of time pressure and increased stress during the beginning phases of Titan the new mystery project. Sam didn't feel like he received any support from management, and they never provided him any details regarding the "issues" on the team.

It sounds like they were pretty much an independent group for 2 years (2008-2010) without any management involvement. But, with an accelerated deadline, management started taking notice (esp. with Bobby Koticks August 2010 announcement) and early 2011 is when they really really started stepping up hiring, with management more involved and setting clear goals.

Apparently, Blizzard was planning on developing and releasing this product at a faster rate than their previous (historical) development periods. Since they're rushing this game more quickly than previous installments, this might be one of the reasons why they brought in Kim Sellentin in Feb 2011 (i.e, Scrum and quick development principles).

If any of you follow up with this information and find some new interesting pieces of information, let me know.