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The QueueApr 16, 2015 11:00 am CT

The Queue: Of shipyards and submarines

Welcome back to The Queue! Adam Holisky is stepping away from Queue duties to focus on the important job of making the site go, so I will be your host on Thursdays moving forward, while Matthew Rossi will be taking over on Tuesdays. Note that some of our questions do address patch 6.2 and may contain spoilers: if you want to stay completely spoiler-free, today’s last question could be considered spoiler territory. Beware!

Now, let’s get to the questions!


Q4tQ (well actually for Adam – I hope I have the right day!)

This is about the site design and development. We’ve all seen the quick work that went into the site initially and some of the newer features trickle in over time.  It appears to be WordPress based, and I was wondering what percentage of custom-development, commercial themes, and free (forked?) theme work went into it.

I tinker with WP development as a hobby – and some of the new features on this site, especially round mobiles, have been fantastic.  Just sort of interested to know the paths you took and how much custom development went into this – especially considering how much you achieved in a small space of time.

I don’t even keep track of who’s writing The Queue six days out of seven — we don’t keep a written schedule of it because I’m told “everyone knows” — so I could hardly ignore this perfectly timed and properly directed question, even though I’m not Adam.

The site runs on WordPress and perhaps the biggest advantage to being at Blizzard Watch is that when we want to make a technical change… we can just do it. This is something that just wasn’t possible in our previous life, and we’ve already gone through more design changes than most of us saw during our entire tenure with the old site.

I know this doesn’t address all of your questions, but Adam is planning on writing up a larger “technology behind Blizzard Watch” article which will. We also have plans to open source some of our design work, but that’s further off — when I asked Adam, he said it’s “in the year plan,” so don’t expect it to happen tomorrow.


Do we get a Submarine in our Garrison Shipyard?

When it comes to adding cool, fun stuff to the game, submarines seem like a no-brainer.

I’m totally not saying this just because my gnome engineer is looking to pick up Shipyards building contracts. Nope, not me, not at all.


D3 Q4tQ: Do you look up ability builds, or come up with your own?

I’ve never copied a build, but I’m considering it for my witch doctor. I call my custom one “MOAR DOTS!”, and as an Afflicton ‘lock at heart, it appeals to me. But if I play with anyone else I feel extremely ineffective, as any build with more burst ends up killing everything before I’ve really begun to do any damage. D3 needs dual-spec something awful.

I’ve always been something of a Diablo 3 casual, simply because I inevitably hit the point where I run out of patience for the game’s grind and leave… only to come back and start all over again when the next Season arrives. And from that playstyle, at least, I’ve never bothered to dig into looking up builds — as I play, I try out new abilities and runes, some of which feel like they fit into my playstyle and some of which don’t.

Does Diablo 3 need dual spec? Since it’s designed to let you switch abilities quickly and easily — you can change your build any time you aren’t in combat — it doesn’t feel like a necessity. But you do run into some of the same issues you would in World of Warcraft: namely, some setups are great for group play and some are great for solo play. For example, in our just-started Diablo 3 leveling group, I can build my Demon Hunter as a complete glass canon, because I can hide behind Dan’s Crusader and Alex’s Monk. If I was playing on my own, I’d want to focus on more defense and escape abilities to avoid dying every thirty seconds. Even though I can switch back and forth between builds on the fly, it takes time to go through and select each of your abilities and runes — and it would be great if you could save builds and just click a button to switch between them, like in WoW.


OK, my question is for everyone. I’m asking this as an outsider since I’ve been out for a year… If 6.2 does turn out to be the last patch, do you think this expansion was worth it? Or do you feel like you got less than you were promised?

Trying to ask this in a neutral tone to avoid sounding like I’m trying to troll.

Warlords of Draenor feels like an odd expansion. Not just because of crazy time travel plot — we’ve done time travel before, after all — but because what Blizzard initially said the expansion was didn’t turn out to quite be what the expansion was.

At BlizzCon 2013, Chris Metzen explained Warlords was to be “a boys’ trip” to explain the absence of Aggra. At the time, the “boys’ trip” idea seemed to encompass the entire expansion, which had a sharp focus on the super masculine figures of the Warlords while leaving the game’s leading ladies out in the cold — if women were present at all, it was to be victims. (Let’s just say that the beta version of Yrel was very different than the Yrel we meet on the live realms.) I know I looked at that vision and wondered “where do I fit in? How can I be a hero when the next expansion is apparently has a big ‘no girls allowed’ sign plastered on it?”

The game we finally got wasn’t the game Blizzard was trying to sell in 2013. Yrel is a hero. Drakka chides Thrall for not bringing Aggra to Draenor (and Aggra eventually shows up in Nagrand). But it doesn’t necessarily feel like the transition from that game to this game was an easy one for Blizzard to make, and I wonder if it’s because of a mid-development shift in direction that the storyline feels rather disjointed. Big plot elements — like all of the Warlords for which the expansion was named — feel like they’ve been quickly wrapped up and pushed aside. We’ve already defeated most of them and the second patch hasn’t even arrived yet.

I’ve had fun in Draenor. I’ve enjoyed garrisons and I loved leveling through the new zones. But I’ve also found some of the story to be very rough and perhaps rushed. Is there a conclusion to this story in which it will all make sense? Is Blizzard pushing us quickly through this story arc to get us somewhere more interesting — or are they simply pushing past plots that they decided didn’t work after the response at BlizzCon?

None of us know, and until we do it’s hard to say if the expansion really worked — we’ve got to see how it ends. Blizzard might pull everything together in a way that’s awesome, either in 6.2 or 6.3 (for the record, my money’s on having a 6.3)… or the Warlords story might make us look back fondly on Cataclysm. Time will tell.


Have you seen any references/signs of Grommash or Wrathion on the PTR?

The latest patch files have a reference to Wrathion, but we don’t know where he’ll be showing up yet… though with the references we’ve seen to Wrathion’s travels on Draenor so far, our favorite member of the black dragonflight has to show up sometime.

That’s all for now, folks! Leave your questions in the comments and come back tomorrow for another edition of The Queue.

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