The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

BlizzCon: Blizzard surveys the battlegrounds

Saturday, October 29, 2005, 2:28
Section: Geek

Blizzard Entertainment developers held a candid discussion of the bumpy learning process experienced when making player versus player battlegrounds for the World of Warcraft Friday afternoon at BlizzCon in Anaheim, including a discussion of two scrapped battlegrounds.

Alterac Valley was originally going to be a persistent — not instanced, in other words — and quests and non-player-character-driven content was added to give players something to do for the times when no one from the opposite faction was around. When the team ended up making the battleground instanced, the quests and NPCs remained, but Alterac Valley, as it was, had quests that took players away from trying to achieve victory conditions, had a high risk of player death due to NPCs instead of players and had several zone design issues that made achieving objectives harder than they needed to be.

Azshara Crater, which was to be the second battleground, was very similar to Alterac Valley, but given all the problems that had cropped up with the battleground, work on it was stopped, although its entrances are still located in the game.

Following the success of the “lunchtime battleground,” Warsong Gulch, which featured a PVP standard, Capture the Flag, Blizzard looked at using another PVP staple, single-elimination Deathmatch play. The battleground, Gurubashi Catacombs, was to be located beneath the Gurubashi Arena, in pens where dangeous animals were once kept.

But the 5 versus 5 single elimination match invariably turned into melee classes killing spellcasters immediately, which was great fun for the melee classes, but absolutely no fun for the casters: “Of course you’re going to kill the guy in the dress.”

The issue could not be resolved, the designers felt, without a fundemental class revision that would make every class equally able to survive an attack by any other class.

The battleground was scrapped, but group duels might be made a feature of the game independent of battlegrounds at some point in the future instead.

Learning from the mistakes of their past, Blizzard has plans for future and present battlegrounds:

  • They are looking at a variety of ways to get battlegrounds to the critical mass needed to start a battleground more easily.
  • They are looking into ways that, when possible, the game will automatically match up opponents more evenly.
  • They will attempt to even out the honor gained per hour in each of the battlegrounds, so that people will choose a battleground based on what they enjoy, rather on where they will get the most honor.
  • Battlegrounds will begin to have some sort of impact on the world outside of the zone.
  • More improvements to the queueing system will be coming.
  • Groups will automatically form when players enter a battleground.
  • Siege weapons are currently not being worked on, since they couldn’t be made cool enough, but will be worked on again in the future.
  • General PVP changes will be coming later, with announcements to follow.
  • And in the 1.9 patch, multiple battleground queues can be joined at once time, and those who /AFK out early will be assessed a penalty on their times for the next queues.

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