Blizzard enters the MOBA arena with Heroes of the Storm

MOBA’s have been around for some time and considering that one of the original MOBA’s was a mod off a Blizzard’s Warcraft 3 game it only makes sense that they eventually get into it.  I have played other MOBA games such as Heroes of Newerth, League of Legends and even DOTA 2.  Most are very similar with each other but Heroes of the Storm brings something unique to it and I find myself really enjoying it.

First off for those that aren’t aware of what MOBA is it’s a game normally played with 2 teams of 5 players each.  Some games have other modes with fewer players but all have the 5 man team mode.  Each team has a base and the eventual objective is to destroy that base.  In order to get to the base you must work your way past the defenses which are normally towers of some sort.  You will have little minions that follow a path and met up with the enemy minions.  You grind up those minions by killing them for XP.  As your character levels during the match you can upgrade your hero with new abilities or increase the power of their current abilities.  Some games you earn gold and purchase items to help boost your character even more.

Screenshot2015-01-03 15_06_40There are multiple different hero types that have different attributes.  In Heroes of the Storm you have Warriors, Assassins, Specialist and Support.  Within those types of characters you then have a break down of melee or ranged heroes.  So there can be a ranged assassin or a melee Assassin and same with supports and Specialist.  Your Warriors are normally your tanks that take the damage, stun the enemy and allow the other heroes to kill off the enemy heroes while your support buff and heal the team.  From my World of Warcraft days I lean more towards the healing roles or the specialist roles.  I normally avoid the Assassin roles and leave those to the more pro players as they are high DPS characters but also normally harder than most.


What makes Heroes of the Storm different than most of the other MOBA’s are several things.  For one there is no items to buy in game to buff up your hero.  Instead the game uses talents to modify your characters abilities.  In other MOBA’s the items can modify how your play your character such as making them more tank like with more health or some magic protection if there is a nasty magic damage dealer you want protection from or you can focus on more damage.  In Heroes of the Storm the talents fill this role.  Since there is no items there is no gold forScreenshot2015-01-03 22_38_01 killing the creeps.  I have to say I don’t miss that part since in other MOBA’s I would accidently kill a creep that a teammate felt they needed and I would get harassed since they felt they needed the gold for items more than my character since normally I play a support role and really don’t need gold other than to purchase wards.  In fact in other MOBA’s supports are pretty much stuck to lighting up the map for everyone to see.  Fortunately Heroes of the Storms does not have wards either but instead have Watch towers in which you can capture to see what’s going on in certain parts of the map and some heroes have talents and abilities that can show parts of the map as well.  The other thing that would create issues in other MOBA’s is that different characters would level up at different from their teammates.  In those MOBA’s you hope your strong carry’s level up fast and become very powerful and your supports normally suffer with low levels and get picked off easily by the enemy team.  You had to let your teammates farm the XP so they could level up quickly.  In Heroes of the Storm you level up as a team.  Since their is no kill steals the team can work together and level up together.  The downside some will see if that they can’t carry their team since they can’t level up or jungle as other MOBA’s allow them to do.

The other part that makes Heroes of the Storm different and probably the most important is that the maps have objectives.  Playing the objectives of the maps is what gives you the most chance of winning against the enemy team.  One map has you collecting coins to turn into a boss and when you hit the max he wants he’ll attack your enemy’s base with cannons doing the dirty work for you while you are safe.  Another map has something similar where you enter the mines and destroy undead and collect skulls.  There are 100 skulls and after they are all gone golems spawn and attack the enemy base and their power is based upon how many skulls were collected.  Your objective there is to obviously collect more skulls than the enemy so that your golem is more powerful.  There are two maps that also allow you to take control of a creature and control it and destroy the structures.  One has two shrines that you must control in order to seize control of a dragon knight while the other one you collect seeds by killing special creatures and once you collect 100 seeds your garden terror rises.

Heroes of the storm also introduced daily quests which is similar to their Hearthstone game.  Those daily quests help you earn in game gold which allows you to later purchase heroes.  You can also gain experience with a hero and open up more abilities for them.  By the time you hit level 4 on those heroes you have unlocked all of their talents and at level 5 you unlock more gold.  I’ve been making it a mission to hit level 5 on each character when they are free to play and have amassed enough to purchase a few heroes.  You can also buy the heroes for real money as well or by bundles that will include heroes and skins.  If your looking to start the MOBA style games then I think Heroes of the Storm will be a good starting game so you understand the mechanics of MOBA.  The game is still currently in Alpha and by invite only by Blizzard so good luck.

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Diablo III delayed till 2012

Blizzard has been famous for pushing back their titles over and over.  I remember how long the wait was for Warcraft III and even Diablo II.  My friends and I would often be upset but we knew that meant that Blizzard would be pushing out a better product.  I had some belief that with Blizzard merging with Activision that we might see products get pushed out faster with less concern with the quality.   Turns out that may not be true after all.  Here’s a direct quote from Blizzard.

We commonly use the term “soon” when referring to Blizzard releases, because we know that no matter how hard we’re working to reach a target, we’re not going to compromise and launch a game before it’s ready. For Diablo III, we were aiming to launch by the end of 2011. As we’re announcing globally today, our new target for the game is early 2012.

While this news might not be a complete surprise, I know that many of you were hopeful that Diablo III would ship this year. We were too. However, this week we pulled together people from all of the teams involved with the game to decide whether we felt it would be ready before the end of December, and we grudgingly came to the conclusion that it would not. Ultimately, we feel that to deliver an awesome Diablo sequel that lives up to our expectations and yours as well, we should take a little more time and add further polish to a few different elements of the game.

The upside of today’s announcement is that we will be running the beta test longer than we initially planned, which will allow us to invite more of you who have opted in.

For those taking on the Diableard challenge, we salute you — and now fear for your well-being and personal hygiene. We hereby issue an official reprieve to all Diableard participants, including Blizzard employees, if you want to trim or otherwise manage the lower half of your face. We’d still love to see your beardly achievements, and we look forward to seeing more of your efforts as we move into 2012, but not to the detriment of your workplaces and significant others.

Thank you everyone for your support and anticipation for Diablo III. We’re still moving ahead at full pace, and we’ll be keeping you fully informed of any news and developments here at, including the specific release date when the time comes, so stay tuned.

-Mike Morhaime


Blizzard to allow appearance changes of WoW equipment

Blizzard announced Wednesday that they were going to add a new feature called transmogrification which basically alters the appears of armor or weapons on your character.  For years many players had complained that if they were finding the best itemized pieces for their characters they would normally have to break up sets of gear that were designed to work together which of course would make the character looked mismatched.  Blizzard said that this feature should be available in patch 4.3 along with some other features.

Now it appears that if a player earns a new piece of armor they can make it appear as the piece of equipment that it’s replacing which will allow the set to still look complete.  This will probably excite a lot of the raiders that like to proudly show their new gear in their hometowns.

This will also have some benefits in PvP as well know that you can make your character appear to be wearing pure PvE gear or perhaps even low quality gear to fake out your opponent.  Some PvP players have stated though that they judge a player’s quality of gear more on health than on what they look like.

According to Blizzard’s own website:

Placing an item into the Transmogrifier interface will offer a preview of how the item will appear once the change is applied. However, not all item pairings are compatible with Transmogrification. In general, only items that have stats can be used in the transmogrification process. You must also be able to wear both items when using this service. Ethereals don’t have much in the way of ethics, but allowing someone to appear as if they’re equipping unusable items crosses the line. Similarly, they won’t allow you to change weapon or armor types. Sneaky death knights can’t make that breastplate look like a cloth robe, and you can’t make a one-handed axe look like a two-handed axe, or transform a sword’s appearance into that of a mace. Guns, bows, and crossbows will be the exception to this rule. You will finally be able to retain your dwarf’s racial gun bonus while appearing with all the splendor and elegance of a bow wielder (or at least the relative silence of one).

Placing items into the Transmogrify interface will increase the gold cost of the process, and clicking the Transmogrify button (assuming you have the necessary funds) will put the appearance change into effect. The process can be reversed by clicking the undo icon on each item, and then hitting the Transmogrify button once more to save the changes. Any item that’s transmogrified will have text indicating it’s been altered by the process for all to see, similar to the item tooltip callout for reforged items.

Update on Blizzards play time report

I had mentioned before that Blizzard was emailing me play time reports regarding my sons online access.  At one point my son and I had given up completely on World of Warcraft since we both picked up a copy of Starcraft 2.  I kept getting play time reports emailed to me however they kept telling that his battlenet play time was zero hours.  I knew this was incorrect because even if you are not playing multiplayer games on Starcraft 2 you still have to sign into battlenet.

I went ahead and investigated and logged into the parental controls for my sons account and found that Starcraft 2 and “other games” are still yet to be implemented for play time reports.  This was a bit of a let down as their parental controls in World of Warcraft were fairly decent and I could even control his log in and off times.  For instance if he had a bad habit of starting up the computer and playing right away after coming home from school I could set an allowed log in time for after dinner.  If I want to make sure that he logs out of the game before bedtime I could set a log out time there as well.

We both stopped playing Starcraft II as it didn’t motivate us to play it as much multiplayer as the original starcraft did.  So the play time report won’t matter as much since I know he won’t be spending that much time on Starcraft II.  With the upcoming expansion announced for World of Warcraft we’ve been looking at some of the changes that are up and coming.  At least I know the play time report is working for WoW as I am still getting updates now for that game.

Blizzards Real ID – Is it safe for kids?

I’ve posted before stating that my son and I often play video games together.  Some of our favorites happen to be made by Blizzard such as Starcraft and World of Warcraft.  When you play Starcraft you log into it using their battlenet system which allows you to play against other plays from all over.  The original battlenet system allowed you to use an anonymous name to use.  World of Warcraft originally had it’s own log in system that was independent of the battlenet system until recently.

In preparation for the release of Blizzards latest product Starcraft 2 they have completely revamped the battlnet system.  The changes even affected World of Warcraft accounts as players were forced to change their original logins into Battlenet logins.

One of the reasons Blizzard modified the new battlenet system was to introduce a new product called Real ID.  Their intention is to allow players to find their friends and communicate with them easier than before.  For instance I could be playing Starcraft II and my friends are over in World of Warcraft and want me to join them.  They could actually use Real ID to communicate with me even though we are playing completely separate games.

This doesn’t sound like a bad ID at first however Real ID will be using your real name instead of an avatar or character name.  This scares me as a parent as I don’t know who my son would add as Real ID friends and could be giving out personal information.  Blizzard also stated that the forums would start using players Real ID in order to posted messages.  This ticked off a lot of players who then asked if Blizzard employees would be sharing their real name as well.  One blizzard employee name Micah Whipple decided to release his real name into the forums trying to show that the Blizzard employees had nothing to hide.  The World of Warcraft community turned on the employee though and started digging up personal information on him to the point that the employee started pointing out that releasing other peoples personal information on the forums could get players banned.

It wasn’t much longer and Blizzard recanted on their idea of using real names for the forums which is fine but Real ID will still use your real name.

The good news is that parents can prevent their kids from using the Real ID product by logging into Battlenet Parental Controls.  I went ahead and registered my sons Battlenet account for parental controls and was able to block his access to Real ID.  I was also able to request a weekly report of his online play time.  There is an option for parents to turn off in game voice chat.  That will not work though if they are using a third party chat program such as Ventrilo or Teamspeak.  You can also set play time restrictions within the parental controls which again is nice but only affects games that are accessed through the Battlenet system.  Currently that will only affect World of Waracft and Starcraft 2.  Maybe in the future other game developers will help parents keep control of their child’s online time.