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BlizzCon 2018 splash

Check out coverage for other Blizzard games below!
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This year marks the 12th BlizzCon hosted by Blizzard Entertainment. This conference is the source of major news and announcements from the company, including new games, expansions, and other important content additions and updates.

The Opening Ceremony serves as a teaser for things to come during the Con, with each game typically receiving a "what's next" as well as a "deep dive" with attached Q&A. The deep dive is a more in-depth look at particular upcoming features.

Below is the schedule for upcoming content related to World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, World of Warcraft: Classic, and Warcraft III: Reforged (depending on availability). Check back at this blog during and after the listed times to find out what was covered, and be sure to check out the remainder of the wiki for updates!

Note: all times are PST

November 2, 2018 (Friday)

Opening Ceremony

11:15 am - 12:00 pm
Warcraft news

What's Next

3:30 pm - 4:15 pm
  • Patch 8.1 Tides of Vengeance
    • Heritage Armor for Blood elf and Dwarf
    • Azerite Armor improvements
    • Seafarer's Dubloon vendor
    • Improved emissary rewards
    • Account-wide alt reputation will include rep armor for alts
    • Improved Warfront quest structure, improved rewards.
    • PVP talents reworked
    • Changes to War Mode bonuses
    • Releasing December 11, 2018 (NA), December 12, 2018 (EU), December 13, 2018 (Asia)
  • New 'Terror of Darkshore' cinematic
  • Patch 8.1.5
    • Zandalari trolls allied race
      • Addition of Paladin class
      • Heritage Armor and racial mount
      • New Racial abilities - Regeneratin', Embrace the Loa, City of Gold, Pterrordax Swoop
      • Unique Druid forms
    • Kul Tiran humans allied race
      • Addition of Shaman and Druid Classes
      • Heritage armor and racial mount
      • New Racial abilities - Haymaker, Brush it Off, Jack of All Trades, Child of the Sea, Rime of the Ancient Mariner
      • Unique drust-like Druid forms
  • New Gryvern (sp?) roller coaster at Darkmoon Faire
  • Children's Week will include Kul Tiran and Zadalari children and new quests
  • New Micro holidays including The Wanderer's Festival (Pandaran), Vashj'ir Diving, and Free Tee-shirt Day.
  • Warlords of Draenor will be added to Timewalking and include two new WoD themed mounts.
    • Auchindoun
    • Bloodmaul Slag Mines
    • Shadowmoon Burial Grounds
    • Skyreach
    • Iron Docks
    • The Everbloom
  • New Portal rooms in Orgrimmar and Stormwind
  • New 'Tools of the Trade' content and questlines for all Professions
  • Brawler's Guild
    • New questline
    • New transmogs
    • New mount - Bruce the Mount
  • PVP
    • Warsong Gulch and Arathi Basin remastered
  • New player vs AI bots in new Arathi 'Comp Stomp Brawl' mode
    • Releasing some time after Patch 8.1
  • Patch 8.2 "Rise of Azshara"
    • New zone Nazjatar
    • New story quests
    • New races to ally with
    • New replayable content
    • New creatures including new naga warrior and old god-like enemies
    • New weapons and mounts
    • New Raid - Azshara's Eternal Palace
      • 8 Bosses
      • Naga Hatchery
      • Underwater boss (pending feedback)
      • Queen Azshara as the final boss
    • New zone Mechagon (lost city of the gnomes)
      • New Mechagnomes race - Junker gnomes
      • New Story - help the Junker gnomes break into the city defended by King Mechagon and his robotic minions
      • New Mythic-only "Megadungeon" featuring 8 bosses including King Mechagon
    • The story continues for Sylvanas, Saurfang, Anduin, Jaina, and Magni Bronzebeard
    • New Heritage armor for tauren and gnome
    • More Island expeditions
    • New Heroic Warfronts
      • 10+ Players
      • New Mechanics
      • Higher difficulty and rewards
    • New Arena - Mechagon Arena (or "Junker Gnome Arena"?)
    • Flying will become available
    • New PVP rewards and mounts
    • Releasing some time after Patch 8.1.5
  • Patch 8.2.5
  • New Worgen and Goblin models will be released.
    • Releasing soon™ after Patch 8.2

Inside Warcraft III: Reforged

5:30 pm - 6:15 pm

Host, Manuel "Grubby" Schenkhuizen.

Blizzard Classic Games Team panelists
Questions and answers mostly paraphrased…
  • Warcraft III is getting a remaster.
  • Grubby: What led us to this remastering of Warcraft III?
    • Rob: We started Classic with this idea that we have to preserve these games, we cannot break the fun. We learned alot from StarCraft: Remastered and it was a natural progression to move into Warcraft.
  • Grubby: Has it been hard to hide this information?
    • Pete: You want to share and you want to admit a patch is a precursor for something amazing that's coming. We want to incrementally release things so there isn't a big patch at the end with a lot of problems. It's frustrating to not type on the forum. I wore a WC3 shirt to last year's BLizzCon and Rob B. was kind of mad.
  • Grubby: What's it been like to go back to Warcraft III art and make it more current?
    • Brian: We originally planned to be more cartoony and stylized. Rough cartoony concept art of many orcs showing... We noticed alot of games have that style, so we took a step back. The Mists of Pandaria cinematic trailer with the orc and the human really nailed Warcraft to me. Showing human and orc from Mists of Pandaria Cinematic Trailer... So we went back with that in mind and redid the orc until we really liked him. Showing new orc model with red shoulder and wrist guard plus axe in other hand... "
      Grubby: I understand that Warcraft III was Blizzard's first 3D game... now you can see that.
    • Jay: Same engine, but now you see a little bit of a change. Okay, we added alot of features.
      Now showing old Arthas model, colored concept art of new Arthas, and new Arthas model.
  • Grubby: You've done a lot of the work on the original WC3. What has it been like to go back to this work?
    • Now showing old gnoll model, colored concept art of new gnoll, and new gnoll model.
    • Matt: We've learned a lot of things. We wanted to level it up from World of Warcraft. We want some locations from WoW match what we see see in Reforged.
      Now showing old Stormwind knight model and new Stormwind knight model.
    • Matt: We want to deliver a new experience.
      Now showing old ghoul model and new ghoul model.
  • Grubby: Let's move on to the subject of patches.
    • Jay: We're trying to improve the quality of life issues for people currently playing Warcraft III. We can't tell them about Reforged. We can improve the patching system, we can let them take advantage of more memory…
      Now showing old orc blade master model and new orc blade master model.
    • Brian: Wide-screen support…
    • Pete: Get rid of port forwarding…
    • Jay: Silence! We're definitely trying to remove pain points. Get rid of limitations that now have no point. Are plan is to continually improve the game as we go ask well as build the foundation for Reforged.
  • Grubby: Another thing that people are very curious about is whether Warcraft III will be joining other games in the Battle.net launcher?
    • Rob: That's a really important reason to explore this stuff. We'll be able to do that again. Jay is underselling the engineering and art effort. The engine is still rooted in the one from 2001-2002, but to bring it forward to today. This is an effort to heal the community and bring everyone together. Putting this stuff on the Battle.net launcher is part of the vision. Not having some of our games not there is just criminal.
    • Pete: What I didn't realize earlier was that WoW's engine was built from Warcraft III's engine. What we've done is take that learning and what they did to beef that up and port it back. So it's come full circle. James Doverspike helped us immensely and came from the WoW team.
    • Jay: He was able to bring over things much more cleanly and simply.
  • Grubby: Are there any Easter eggs you come across when going through the old code?
    • Jay: There are comments that would not be… those comments have to be removed. There was a a lot of stress and not as much love between the artists and other programmers as we'd like to believe.
  • Grubby: Rob you were saying the engine underneath is still very much the same. To what degree is that engine still there and the same and how much is being revamped.
    • Rob: Jay is going to be diving into that in more detail. All the animations and the attack swings have to be accounted for. The version players are used to for the last 16 years has to be maintained. You have to make it look as high fidelity as possible, but try to keep those original time constraints.
      Showing hi-res screenshot of sheep running through a village.
    • Jay: The graphics engine has been completely be rewritten, but it will be compatible with all the existing content. We call it SD for what’s live right now (for Standard Definition). The goal is maintain perfect compatibility, so barring people using hacks or things like that, the original game should play exactly as you expect. Artists use to have more constraints on memory, but now animation represents only a small percentage of the time. So artists are now more freedom to do fun things. So now there’s a stand animation where an orc just takes his axe and scratches his back with it. Why? Because an artist thought it would be cool and devs thought that has to go in. We can take advantage of more memory and more processor cores. The core game play has to stay the same.
    • Rob: I don’t remember you having the ability to zoom in on the sheep so much…
    • Jay: We tweaked the mouse wheel. So when you play make sure to spin the mouse wheel and get in there and see how much work Brian has put into the textures. It hurts me.
    • Brian: The only constraints we have are mostly in the attack animations between SD and HD, so if the attack animation is 20 frames long we have to keep it 20 frames long. But we have more freedom with things like stand animations, so you won’t see 10 guys doing the same animation at the same time. You’ll see a lot more variety and a lot more realism.
    • Rob: This is important so all these old maps can be reloaded in Reforged and playable…
    • Jay: …with new assets.


20 min and 55 sec into panel. More to come...

November 3, 2018 (Saturday)

Build A Panel: World Creation in WoW

11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Restoring History: Creating WoW Classic

1:30 pm - 2:15 pm
World of Warcraft: Classic
  • Ion Hazzikostas introduces Senior Software Engineer II on WoW, Omar Gonzalez
    • Started in 2003, 15 years ago, before gnomes were part of the game
  • What's under the hood?
    • Database data
      • Only two versions of the game, Development and Live (i.e. Dev 1.2.0 → Live 1.1.0)
      • New Dev version overwrote some of old Dev version when it was pushed to Live (i.e. Dev 1.2.0 → Dev 1.3.0)
      • Patch data existed as far back as 1.12.0 and a little before
    • Art assets
      • 3D models (vertices and indices)
      • Textures (paintings and colors on a 2D canvas)
      • Kept on network stores with mostly only recent art data, so needed to get assets from off site data archivists
      • Oldest data initially found was only back as far as 2008, but eventually found a folder labeled “Final 1.12 data” which was a backup of a backup
    • Source code
      • Kept track in a repository, so go back to first change back in 1997
      • First change 4/16/1997
      • Bug fixes, first in 4/25/1997
  • Reconstructing the past
    • Got version of 1.12 running internally
    • Could login, create characters, and level up
    • This version didn't know how to run in modern Blizzard Cloud
    • Didn't work with Battle.net network framework which included account management and authentication
    • Didn't work with current content delivery pipelines it couldn't work with Blizzard desktop app
    • No login server support
    • No customer support access (can't create GM tickets)
    • Worst of all, every bug, exploit, and hack were re-activated
    • Didn't meet Blizzard quality standards
  • We're not giving up yet
    • Try to use modern source code engine, but try to use old database and art assets
    • Unfortunately, new engine didn't know how to work with old data
    • Did compromise proof of concept using approx. Patch 7.3.5 engine with old database data (not old art)
    • Video of gnome mage in Coldridge Valley killing wolves, but showing new UI bar…
    • Early prototype wasn't quite right, had errors and problems
    • Core of the game was there
  • Omar introduces Lead Software Engineer for WoW Classic, Brian Birmingham
    • Joined in 2006 and worked on WoW Tools Team for 8 years, helping to ship Naxxramas
    • Helped migrate database data to new expansion engines
  • From Prototype to Demo
    • Diagram showing connections between…
      • Source Code, Database Data, and Art Assets with…
      • Terrain, Gameplay, Animations, and Lighting
    • Terrain: Heights of mountains and valleys, the placement of trees and buildings, and the water in the lakes, rivers, streams, and oceans
      • Dun Morogh was shown in prototype because it was unaltered by the Cataclysm, but nearby Loch Modan had all kind of problems
        Video of Loch Modan with walking threshadons and huts…
      • Thousand Needles also had much strangeness</br/>Video of gnome swimming through water where there shouldn't be any…
      • Restoring old terrain data didn't fit with new engine (diagram shown)
        Video of Loch Modan with misplaced trees and building also a shattered dam that holds back water…
      • Converter made to adapt old terrain data to new engine and it worked
    • Tools
      • WoW Tools were adapted to work with both latest version and Classic at the same time
      • Classic is a fully integrated effort that has full support of the WoW Dev team
    • Art Assets: All old art assets were imported, but problems where still seen
      • Old engine defaulted to white light, but modern engine defaulted to purple (actually magenta) light to reveal errors
      • So some fixes where to implement same look, even if it was based on a bug in old version
    • Other differences
      • Source code doesn't exist in new engine for old systems that were removed
      • Examples include hunter class abilities such as pet training, happiness, and loyalty
      • Integrate old parts of source code to support old systems
      • Old combat formulas restored including weapon skills
    • Animations
      • Had problems where some animations weren't playing correctly
      • Example of Mankrik's Wife quest chain animation showing problems with wife who was named later Olgra, but just Beaten Corpse in Vanilla
    • Character Customization
      • Shows how prototype evolved to match original game where a fog effect was missing in gnome creation screen
      • Classic team is doing side-by-side comparisons to ensure matching as close as possible
    • Restored Lighting
      • Lighting could not be matched exactly, so adjustments were made based on investigation of old formulas
  • What's Next?
    • Capital cities
      • Banks
      • Auction House
      • Mail
    • Dungeons & Raids
      • Boss Abilities
      • Raid UI
    • PvP
      • Battlegrounds
      • Honor
      • Honor Rewards
  • Brian re-introduces Ion Hazzikostas
    • What does “design” even mean for “Classic”?
  • Design Philosophy: Do we maintain status quo, work to remove something that was introduced, or even re-add bugs that felt like part of the experience?
    • First goal was to deliver and authentic experience
    • High priority on integrity of social dynamics
    • Avoid messing with 1.12 data
  • Examples of problems
    • Dungeon Finder? Of course not. (and no Raid Finder, etc.) Although /lfr partially works
    • Cross-realm grouping? Never.
    • Flying? Come on.
    • Achievements? Nope.
    • Unified Auction Houses? No way.
  • Harder decisions
    • Debuff limit? (Was 8 max on a mob; was raised to 16 in 2005 and now 255); Restoring to 16
    • In-game mail mechanics (used to be much slower); Restoring and removing instant mail
    • Some UI convenience will be retained
    • Loot trading; being kept to reduce impact on CS
    • Energy regeneration; old mechanic being restored
    • AddOns (powerful AddOn abilities were removed in BC); old powerful functions will be left out and new abilities may be restricted
  • Content Release Plan
    • Will have staged content unlocks throughout the release of Classic
  • Current thinking:
    • Stage 1: Molten Core, Onyxia, Dire Maul, Kazzak, and Azuregos (circa March 2005); no PvP rewards from Battlegrounds or High Warlord/Grand Marshal items
    • Stage 2: Blackwing Lair, BGs, PvP rewards, and Zul'Gurub 20-player (circa July 2005)
    • Stage 3: Ahn'Qiraj (Ruins 20-player and Temple 40-player), Tier 0.5 gear, Silithus (including Opening of Gates of Ahn'Qiraj), and Green Dragons (circa January 2006)
    • Stage 4: Naxxramas raid and Scourge Invasion (circa June 2006)

World of Warcraft: Q&A

3:30 pm - 4:15 pm
Panelists

Introduced by Scott Johnson, host of The Instance podcast since 2006, played WoW since 2003 in Friends and Family alpha...

Questions and answers mostly paraphrased…
  • How important is it for players to have agency and repercussions?
    • Alex: We need to be careful about when we give players choices. An interesting choice would be to back either Sylvanas or Saurfang. Right now we're testing the waters. We want to make sure the choice matters.
  • Chris Metzen question: Horde where you at? Alliance where you at?
    When is the Horde getting its true Warchief back?
    • Alex: Are you talking about Thrall? I miss you, we all do. Good question, person I've never met before. I'm going to guess there may be a job posting up soon on the Orgrimmar war board for a new Warchief. If there is, we'll call you.
  • On behalf of gold makers: The 20% auction house fee has really hurt casual players… when will it be removed, if so?
    • Ion: It only affects to items that don't sell and select stackable items like flasks or herbs. That said, it's a bandaid. A rewrite of the the Auction House is pending and actively working on. The Auction House load is one of the main reasons larger populations on realms can't be supported.
Scott reminds people complaining about money for AH use, that they should play Classic and be reminded about what it's like to have no money.
  • Will items from WoW Classic count for transmog on normal Live on the same account? Like items that were removed.
    • John: No. It's important that we keep those ecosystems separate.
      Scott: Could you get some achievement in normal for something you did in Classic.
    • Ion: It's important you play Classic because you want that experience, not because you want some achievement in Battle for Azeroth.
  • Chris Robinson did a blog post showing off class relics. Any plans to further enhance class fantasy?
    • Chris: I may have the jumped the gun on that a little bit early. We've tried to infuse that in some systems. It's actually hard to do things like put a book on a character's hip. We'll probably do things more piece-meal like parts of Heritage Armor. We're still working on it.
  • Character progression when leveling is not quite satisfying. Wouldn't it be better to do a level squish? So, leveling up gives more progression in less levels.
    • Ion: We're not satisfied what leveling has turned into at the high end especially. It is arguable that Legion and Battle for Azeroth really effectively only had 2 levels each, pre-110, 110, pre-120, and 120. A level squish would be a big deal. We'd have to consider the impact psychologically. For example what would it mean for a player who was level 120 to login and suddenly be level 60. It's one of the top thing we're discussing.
      John asked if we can call Ion “Mr. Blizzard” which the questioner posed the question to. Ion replied, “Please don't.”
  • What steps you might be taking to address the toxicity in the public chat channels?
    • John: It's worth it to lose a toxic player, even if they are a long time player, than to lose all the people they might affect in a negative way. We're not good sometimes notifying the community, because we have to do a lot of investigation ahead of time to ensure it isn't a prank or something. We'll be instituting technologies used in other Blizzard games like AI to make it more responsive and faster addressing problems.
    • Ion: Check out Play Nice, Play Fair panel later for more specific info about what Blizzard is doing.
  • Why is there so much RNG in the game and are you working to move away from that?
    • Ion: We hear this lots. Our concern with deterministic systems where getting items gets too predictable is that there is no excitement along the way. We're trying to pull back from randomness.
      Scott: Can you put a smart loot system on out Mythic caches?
    • Ion: We are working on streak breaking of too many same slot drops.
  • What is the future of Azerite gear with coming patches?
    • Ion: There isn't enough choice within the gear you get. With Tide of Vengeance there will be two more outer rings (4 or 5 total?) with 3 traits which will give much more variety and choice. This will increase the gear with a specific trait. Looking for ways to add more depth in the system, maybe specifically adding more choice in the Heart of Azeroth (necklace).
  • Scott (from forum questions?): Are you going to pull more things off the GCD? We really want that.
    • Ion: In Beta, too many items were off the GCD. Abilities are coming off the GCD in Tides of Vengeance, but we're satisfied with most offensive cooldowns. We'e trying to make abilities better rather than changing cool downs. We're looking for feedback on movement and utility abilities, so we're going to take more abilities like this off the GCD.
  • Will we get armor dyes?
    • Chris: This has come up frequently. The big answer is not for everything. Tinting is somewhat antithetical to our process in WoW. We tested a form of tinting internally in the BC era and it sort of became known as the clown era in armor. We could think about a color system that is part of a larger game system.
  • Would you be willing to return the diversity of situational abilities back to the level of Mists of Pandora?
    • Ion: We'd rather double-down on strengths rather than homogenization.
  • How will you address server population concerns in Classic?
    • Ion: Unlike launching a traditional game, we expect there will be hardcores, but also casuals. We are looking at using sharing in a limited way. We think we can use sharding to mitigate launch day high pop problems.
  • Will we see any more backstory on Gallywix?
    • Alex: I think Gallywix is a 3D money-grubbing character. When the true pleasure palace appears, Azshara (the zone) will be covered in Gallywix skyscrapers. Until then we're going to look into it. We're gonna fire that cannon.
  • Can we ever expect more freedom to transmog into armor of other classes?
    • Ion: Some is about class fantasy and silhouette so you can draw inferences about their class. That's why these restrictions have existed throughout WoW. However we're loosening some of these restrictions with cosmetic armor sets and things like Heritage Armor which can be used across classes. In Tides of Vengeance we're going to allow transmog over fist weapons with other one-handed weapons. We can't fix wands yet.
  • How are you going to differentiate between what Sylvanas is doing and what Garrosh did?
    • Alex: These are my favorite kind of questions. The kind I can't answer. The story's not done. Wait and see and all of that. But, if I was Sylvanas and looked back at what Garrosh wrought, I would think Garrosh was an amateur?
  • If we're on acting against the other faction in Island Expeditions and Warfronts, why aren't the PvP talents being activated?
    • Ion: Because you're not fighting other players. It's important that we don't offer too many options for situations that they aren't specifically designed for. This is why we have PvP abilities always on by default in War Mode regardless of the situation.
    Followup question: Will PvP talents not activate against Battleground NPCs if they end up being based on Island Expeditions technology?
    • Ion: We probably would turn on PvP abilities in Battlegrounds.
    Scott: Is it wrong to level a druid to level 120 exclusively in Island Expeditions? Am I a weirdo for doing that?
    • Ion: In Tides of Vengeance, we're adding an account bound item available item that unlocks all flight paths (for those weirdos).
  • Will there be a revamped Mythic+ keystone leaderboard so we don't have to go to a 3rd party site?
    • Ion: Yes. Actually, sort of. In Tides of Vengeance, we're planning to add the highest keystones you have done in a given week or by region will be added to the Armory profile like Challenge times.
  • Low performing specs get a bad reputation that persists long after they're buffed. Can you do something to help Shadow (priests), Shamans (elemental?), and Feral (druids) find their pickup groups?
    • Ion: Yes. It's a huge motivator for us in that regard. To some degree community perception matters more than reality. You are justified for blaming Blizzard for being turned down because of the reputation of your class. Sometimes we need to over-buff to get the community's attention. We hear you, we know we need to take action when classes or specs are falling behind and community input helps drive that.
  • Are there any plans or considerations to bring back tier sets or gear related of some sort to give definition of class identity?
    • Ion: In Battle for Azeroth we're trying something different with a mix of how Azerite Armor and material-based sets. More about expression of where the gear came from (troll raid or naga stuff from Nazjatar) than an expression for a class as it muddied the waters. I can't say class-themed armor sets won't see a return someday. We like to see more variety at a high level of fidelity for armor sets (implying class sets make it harder to do this).
  • Scott (from forum questions?): Will Classic eventually get its own expansions?
    • Ion: We're just focused on getting the 2006 original WoW experience out there. We'll do what makes sense as a full-fledge live service. We look forward to keeping it updated for a long time to come. We'll listen to the players, do what's right for the community, and what's right for the game.

Images

Creating WoW Classic Panel

Videos