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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Patch 4.2 Hotfixes - June 29

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Classes
Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
  • Feral druids can now use Skull Bash in the Firelands raid. It only seems fair.

Dungeons & Raids
Baradin Hold
  • Eye of Occu’thar damage and health is now properly scaled for 10- and 25-player versions of the dungeon.

Blackwing Lair
  • All Brood Affliction debuffs applied by Chromaggus are now removed after zoning out of Blackwing Lair.

Firelands
  • The stationary Hell Hound pack at the front of the dungeon should no longer cause players to become stuck in combat.
  • There are now fewer Hell Hounds before Beth’tilac, making the engagement a little less… hellish.
  • Beth’tilac and her offspring now have increased health and damage on Heroic difficulty.
  • Rageface’s Face Rage is now slightly less rageful, as the increase of the rate of damage per tick has been reduced.
  • Creatures linked to Shannox will now respawn every 4 hours until he is killed, up from 2 hours.

Zul’Gurub
  • High Priest Venoxis and Zanzil have had the damage of many of their spells and abilities reduced.

Items
  • Cauldron of Battle and Big Cauldron of Battle no longer lose flask charges from repeated clicks when players already have one in their inventory.
  • Eternal Embers dropped in the Firelands raid now bind when picked up. Master Looters are only able to give Eternal Embers to players who are on the quest All-Seeing Eye.
  • Paladin tier 12 2-piece set bonus: It should no longer be possible to get a double proc of Flames of the Faithful.
  • Many item procs were not being triggered properly by melee auto attacks after a hotfix made yesterday. This has been corrected.
  • Holiday Rewards
    • Satchel of Chilled Goods, Keg-Shaped Treasure Chest, Heart-Shaped Box, and Loot-Filled Pumpkin will no longer remain in character inventory once the associated holiday is over. Players must loot the items from these caches before the corresponding holiday ends. More information can be found here.

PvP
Arenas
  • The Ring of Valor
    • There is no longer a 6-second delay on the rising of the pillars after the match has begun.

Quests & Creatures
  • It is no longer possible to complete some daily quests more than once a day by turning them in during a small window before the standard reset time.

URGENT: Congress Wants To Make Streaming A Felony

Tell Congress to oppose S. 978, the new "Ten Strikes" bill

   Wanna Watch Starcraft 2? Wanna watch a Raid in Firelands? Wanna make your own pvp clips and post them on youtube? Well it might soon be illegal to do so.


Here they go again: The big business lobbyists who are behind the Internet Blacklist Bill are already making the sequel. THIS WEEK Senators will be voting on a "Ten Strikes" bill to make it a felony to stream copyrighted content -- like music in the background of a Youtube video -- more than ten times.
As the writers at TechDirt point out, under this bill you could go to jail for posting video of your friends singing karaoke:
The entertainment industry is freaking out about sites that embed and stream infringing content, and want law enforcement to put people in jail over it, rather than filing civil lawsuits.... We already pointed to one possibility: that people embedding YouTube videos could face five years in jail. Now, others are pointing out that it could also put kids who lip sync to popular songs, and post the resulting videos on YouTube, in jail as well.
That's right: Ten strikes and you could get jail time.  Less than two weeks ago, the Hollywood industry magazine, Variety, reported, "Industry lobbyists pressed House members on Wednesday to pass legislation that would make illegal streaming of movies, TV shows and other types of content a felony...."
Only days later, the MPAA is getting its wish. Will you email your lawmakers and tell them to vote against the Ten Strikes Bill? Just add your info at right to automatically send this note to them, under your name and from your address. (You can edit the letter if you'd like to.)
Click here to read TechDirt's take on the bill.  The bill's text is here.


Email a letter to your Local Lawmaker by Going Here 
(This is not spam)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adept Gaming - Firelands - Fxoxo (Hpally) PoV

New Battle Chest & Free TBC Upgrade, Trial Time Restrictions Removed (Still capped at level 20)

So we now have the RAF to level 80, US players getting free keys for their friends, and now free Burning Crusade!
Originally Posted by Bashiok (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Haven’t yet ventured beyond the Dark Portal? Beginning today, June 28, players will be able to get both the original World of Warcraft and the game’s first expansion set, The Burning Crusade, for only $19.99 as part of the new digital Battle Chest now available in the online Blizzard Store.

In addition, anyone who owns the original World of Warcraft, regardless of when they purchased the game, will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from The Burning Crusade expansion at no additional cost. It’s time to set forth from Azeroth, adventurer -- Outland awaits!

Also, the trial accounts are no longer limited in time and players can spend an unlimited amount of time on them. The level cap (20) and other restrictions still applies.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
The restrictions should still all be in place. Trial accounts simply no longer expire. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Patch 4.2 Hotfixes

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
June 28

Dungeons & Raids
Blackwing Descent
  • Atramedes's Sonar Pulses are properly moving toward raid members when spawned underneath him.

Firelands
  • Fiery Blood from Fire Scorpions now only affects other Fire Scorpions and Giant Fire Scorpions.
  • Fire Turtles should no longer keep players in combat after their pack is killed.

Items
  • Alliance and Horde Guild Battle Standards cannot be used inside the Firelands raid.
  • Both Faldren Tillsdale and Jamus'Vaz (Valor Point vendors) now display items grouped together in the following manner: rings, necks, bracers, relics, ranged weapons, thrown weapons, then tier sets.
  • The Severed Visionary Tentacle is no longer infinitely applying to characters.

Quests & Creatures
Elemental Bonds Quest Chain
  • Aggra's bubble is now significantly larger and has a sparkle effect, making it easier for players to locate her when on the quest Elemental Bonds: Desire.
  • Players should be able to see Therazane and turn in the quest Into Constant Earth while at any stage of Deepholm progression without issue.

Avengers of Hyjal Reputation


Earning reputation with the Avengers of Hyjal can by done only by defeating monsters inside the Firelands.

All trash gives reputation up until 5999 Friendly. After that, only larger mobs like Molten Lords give reputation. Thus it's easy for farming groups to get honored with little effort, even if they don't raid.

Since some people have been asking... yes, epics drop from trash (quite a bit actually) and the patterns do as well. All of it is BoE.

Bosses (250) - Total of seven bosses, 250 (275 with guild perk) reputation each, with Ragnaros possibly awarding more.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Patch 4.2 on Live realms this week


 Its a miracle servers are coming back up, and on time O_O
By Mary Bargin


Patch 4.2 - Rage of the Firelands on Live Servers
Assuming something doesn't explode, Patch 4.2 should be officially confirmed shortly and will be deployed on live realms today! The patch size
is about 400mb and it's time for our traditional super huge recap.

If you're wondering, there's already a confirmation of Patch 4.2 on Korean Forums. (Thanks to locriani for translating/confirming that)


The patch files are now available in the dark places of the internet and unless something terrible happens, patch 4.2 should hit the live realms this week! I'll update this post with more info in the coming hours (This is a major patch expect a delay on realms coming up tomorrow)
We will be doing a live stream of everything but the raid, kill video's will be made available as they happen.  The live stream player will be on the front page when servers go live.
Also if your gonna do the thrall quest line do it in a group and don't forget to update your addons Blizzard changed crap again and there all gonna be broken.
Originally posted by MMO Champion
General

Legendary Staff

Items


Road to Patch 4.2 - Firelands Raid Boss Pages
Pages for the bosses of the Firelands Raid are now available! Technically, most of this info is now available in game through the encounter journal but it never hurts to peek before the live release. Thanks to chaud for the time he spent on those.




Road to Patch 4.2 - Tier 12 Pages
Tier 12 Armor Sets finally have their dedicated pages, with set bonuses, item lists, and armor models on all races for all classes!





Season 10 - Elite (2200+) Armor Sets



Season 10 - Armor Sets


Thrall 4.2 Sound Files *Major Spoilers*


Sunday, June 26, 2011

TorchLight Live Stream Part 2

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Point Conversion Sellback Policy

 Originally posted by Blizzard Entertainment
With the release of 4.2 all Valor Points will be down-converted to Justice Points, and all Conquest Points will be down-converted to Honor Points. To curb the ability to sell items back to the vendors after the conversion for the higher currency, we’re instituting a new sellback policy for items purchased directly before currency down-conversions.

Items purchased within the two hour window before the release of 4.2 will lose their ability to be sold back to the vendor when the realms are brought down for maintenance. No refunds will be granted for items purchased during this time, either by the in-game vendors, or our support departments.

As an example, I buy the Vicious Gladiator's Battle Staff at 2:30 a.m. The servers come down for the release of 4.2 half an hour later. Normally I would still have an hour and a half after the servers return to sell the item back to the vendor. With this policy change though, upon logging in my item can no longer be sold back to the vendor.

This policy is only in effect for maintenances that include currency down-conversions, such as the release of 4.2. To ensure you don’t purchase the wrong item with the inability to sell it back, we recommend buying well before the final two hours so there’s time to change any incorrect purchases.

For more information on the down-conversion please refer to: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2880562

TorchLight Live Stream Part 1

Patch 4.2 - Patch Notes Update

Blizzard posted what seems to be the final version of the Rage of the Firelands Patch 4.2 Notes and added RAF to 80, removed the Move Pad feature (moving your character with the mouse only), and clarified the starting conditions of the Legendary Quest.

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
General
  • Recruit-A-Friend now awards bonus experience and free level grants to level 80, up from level 60.

Interface
  • Move Pad is a mouse-click interface for movement which is now built into the base interface.

Legendary Item - Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa's Rest
  • Steadfast raiders have an opportunity to embark on a series of quests to create an all-new legendary caster staff. In order to begin the process of assembling the staff, players must first kill a Molten Lord in the Firelands, or have completed any of the achievements Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, or Throne of the Four Winds. Once any of these achievements have been unlocked, players can accept the quest A Legendary Engagement from Ziradormi in Grommash Hold in Orgrimmar, or Coridormi atop the Wizard's Sanctum in Stormwind (players who have already completed any of these achievements are immediately eligible for this quest). Players who become eligible for the quest series by killing a Molten Lord in the Firelands will automatically receive the quest Your Time Has Come, leading them to the start of the questline. The legendary item questline is only available to druids, mages, priests, shaman, and warlocks.

Free WoW keys sent to subscribers
The updated Recruit a Friend bonus isn't the only thing Blizzard decided to do, they also sent free WoW keys to a lot of subscribers to let them invite a friend who doesn't want/can't buy the game! You might want to check your email to see if you were elligible to this.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Cataclysm - Preparing for 4.2: Molten Front dailies, justice points, and more...

Ask The Devs #10 - Damage Dealing (Answers)

Q: The new "assist" pet stance added in 4.2 would work very well with fire totems - is there any reason why totems were specifically excluded from that functionality?Korghal (NA/ANZ)
    A: We’d love to have Searing Totem use the new assist stance, but we felt it was too risky to just flip that switch without a great deal of testing. True pets have a control bar so it’s possible to override their behavior if the default behavior is something you don’t want. That’s not the case for Searing Totem. We’ve just recently been able to get the totem to behave fairly predictably in a wide variety of situations – it has a lot of special case code designed to make it do what players want it to do. (Making an AI behave consistently isn’t that hard; making an AI read players’ minds is the hard part!) If assist works out well for pets, and some of the temporary guardians like Guardian of Ancient Kings, we’ll turn it on for Searing Totem. The Fire Elemental is even more complicated than Searing Totem because the totem is the master of the elemental, not the shaman. It generally works pretty well focusing on the Flame Shock target, but we plan on rebuilding the spell so that the totem summons the elemental (and killing the totem could still despawn the elemental), but the shaman is considered the master, which will solve some of the problems that arise.

Q: Have you considered reincorporating Windfury as the shaman's main DPS ability? Lava lash is their best ability (Cataclysm), but it feels nerfed and feels far too predictable. Saverhagen (LA)
    A: Every Enhancement shaman loves seeing numbers fly across the screen when a huge multi-crit Windfury occurs, reinforced by our recent change to allow Windfury Weapon to trigger three additional attacks, rather than merely two. Windfury is ultimately a passive ability, though, and serves as an extension (albeit an awesome one) of your auto-attacks. In Burning Crusade, Windfury was prominent because shaman had very few active buttons to press, and long periods of downtime between them that some would fill by “twisting” totems. Not the most compelling gameplay. In Wrath of the Lich King, they arguably inherited the opposite problem, having so many buttons to press that there was never a free global cooldown, while no single ability felt particularly impactful or meaningful. For Cataclysm, we attempted to pare down the rotational complexity of the Enhancement shaman (removing the need to manually refresh Lightning Shield, removing Fire Nova from single target rotations, etc.) and at the same time created synergies that allow Lava Lash to do impressive damage. As an aside, there were several questions that we didn’t answer about whether Enhancement DPS is too low overall. It is, and we buffed it for 4.2: (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2723732)

Q: Currently, Enhancement benefits greatly from mastery, but poorly from crit and haste; what solutions have you considered (aside from the previously mentioned possibility of 200% crits) to make these stats more attractive to Enhancement shaman, especially since the spec has such a high requirement for hit rating and expertise rating, making it harder to reforge into more mastery? Wickedpissah (NA/ANZ)
    A: As we’ve discussed in the past, any time a class has a meaningful portion of its damage only receiving 50% bonus critical damage, it’s going to be difficult for crit rating to be an attractive stat. We’d certainly prefer if haste were a more attractive stat for Enhancement shaman. For many other melee classes, the great value of haste lies in its ability to increase resource generation. Enhancement shaman are not generally limited by any resource, so aside from more auto-attack damage and Windfury/Flametongue procs, haste currently yields more Maelstrom Weapon charges. We’ve thought about taking steps to make Maelstrom Weapon a more central mechanic for the Enhancement shaman spec, which would in turn make haste potentially much more valuable, but don’t currently have any firm solution to announce.

Q: Is anything ever going to be done to decisively end Enhancement's usage of spell power weapons? Ragnarok (NA/ANZ)
    A: Part of what makes the Enhancement shaman feel like a true hybrid is their even mix of melee attacks and magical ones, and changing the way spells like Lightning Bolt or Flame Shock work might have a serious impact on how Elemental shaman play. We do want Enhancement shaman using melee-oriented Agility weapons, though, and one solution we’re considering is a mechanism that would make Enhancement shaman spells all scale from attack power, similar to what we did with Flametongue procs. In the meantime, we’ve taken steps (and will continue to take them) to ensure that while spell power weapons might at times, with certain gear setups, remain an interesting alternative, they aren’t the strictly superior route.

Q: DPS Warriors and Frost DKs can generate threat very quickly, even if they are trying to be very careful, letting the tank build up threat, etc. Are there any plans for these 2 classes who seem to have threat issues? Snooptrogg (NA/ANZ), 용소랑 (KR)
    A: For a long time we’ve resisted the temptation to add threat-reduction abilities to warriors and death knights because we don’t want every class to have the mirror images of the same abilities. Class homogenization is a complex and philosophical discussion and probably worthy of a developer blog soon. In some cases, we realized that preserving flavor among classes was just holding classes back – reliable interrupts are a great example of this, where we finally just gave one to every melee and tank spec. But we feel like we have to remain vigilant about this sort of thing. While it might feel like a nice band aid if you are currently the character lacking what seems like a must-have ability, in the long term it can do harm to the game. You see a lot of players today who would rather trade some of their utility and possibly even game balance in order to have classes behave more differently from each other. You can disagree with that point, but it’s hard to completely dismiss it and we certainly don’t. Getting back to the original point, this may be one of those cases where we just need to give in and make sure all DPS specs have some sort of personal threat dump. We’d definitely want to do it as an active button that requires player interaction and not just a passive modifier that lets you just ignore threat as a game mechanic.

Q: Will we ever see an in-game damage and healing meter to replace Recount?Sinthìa (NA/ANZ), Hemodynamic (EU-EN)
    A: We’d dearly love to do this, and it’s been something we’ve been working on, off and on for some time. The problem is that increasingly players place a really high and occasionally unhealthy emphasis on meters, and once there is an official Blizzard-supported meter, then that situation is only going to get worse. Anything that isn’t portrayed in our meters with a great degree of accuracy is going to be misinterpreted and cause forum drama. For example, it’s easy for DPS to inflate their meters on some fights by attacking targets that don’t matter. How do we handle those situations -- trust players to know the difference? That’s tricky, especially when the community has a penchant for distilling lots of fights down into a single measurement of DPS. As another example, the Restoration druid Tranquility is intended to fill a role similar to Power Word: Barrier or Spirit Link Totem. Yet the druid cooldown is an actual heal, which greatly inflates their meters to the extent that we see a lot of players complaining about how Resto druids are overpowered. Do we not show Tranquility on healing meters? On the other hand, one benefit of having easy-to-use Blizzard meters would be getting players to focus on their own personal DPS instead of what the best players in the world are capable of. It makes developers cry when we see a good Fury warrior go Arms and do lackluster DPS just because they read that Arms DPS is higher. (Now, if that player just likes Arms or wants to try something different, more power to them.) Also consider that damage and healing meters are valued by a pretty small set of the playing population as a whole. New UI features like the quest and equipment systems we added not so long ago, and even the upcoming Dungeon Journal, would be more widely used overall. So the short answer is that it would be a very useful tool and we suspect we’ll do it eventually, but we have an enormous responsibility to get it right, and even then it could do bad things to the community as a whole.

Q: Are there any plans to reduce ramp-up times and RNG for certain specs? IE shadow orbs can not proc for quite a while sometimes, hindering our DPS. Xista (NA/ANZ), Whitewnd (KR)
    A: We generally introduce ramp-up time for two reasons. The first and most important is so players have a decision about when to switch targets. If there was zero cost for target swapping, then it would always be the right thing to do. We want to reward players, modestly, when they know when they should swap targets versus sticking with the original. The second issue is that ramp-up time helps us reduce burst in PvP. The intent for Shadow Orbs was that procs weren’t guaranteed so that there is some unpredictability involved to add gameplay. We could easily make it less random, but then they wouldn’t be something you think about or factor in your rotation. Sometimes you won’t get Shadow Orb procs and your DPS will be lower than it could be if you get really lucky. Shadow Priest DPS is balanced around the average of those two extremes. If you get lucky and get good procs, that’s an unexpected bonus. There’s a thin line between something that’s frustratingly random and something that is boring and has no gameplay. We have learned that when percent chances are too high, then rather than feeling like a bonus when it happens, it becomes very frustrating when it fails to happen.

Q: If encounters are not being designed with positional requirements and or other abilities (Shred, Backstab, Feral Charge on Al'akir, Killing Spree in general) in mind, why do we still have those requirements? It seems unfair in a competitive PvE environment to allow those very limiting requirements to exist if the encounters are going to be heavily punitive towards classes that have them. Foxlore (NA/ANZ)
    A: The main reason we have the positional requirement is to have a different vector along which to design abilities. Backstab without a directional requirement could probably just be folded into Sinister Strike. It’s a way to make abilities different from each other, in the same way we have ranged attacks vs. melee attacks, instant spells vs. cast time spells and physical damage vs. magic damage. Also consider that all melee should want to get behind a target, and it hurts all of their DPS when they cannot. We have also made the alternatives to the positional requirements much less of a DPS loss than they used to be. If you go into your Mangle rotation instead of your Shred rotation, your DPS will drop, but not catastrophically. Now there are some encounters where the positional penalty is just too extreme. In 4.2 we have the ability to make the “back” of a boss encompass 240 degrees, and we have done so for bosses like Magmaw, Sinestra and Ragnaros. Furthermore, there are fights where Killing Spree and Feral Charge just kill you. That obviously isn’t acceptable. We have manually added some safeguards to try and manually solve a few encounters, such as Magmaw, but even that isn’t bulletproof and we are investigating more robust and global solutions. But it’s technically challenging given the diversity of our encounters.
Q: What do you consider when looking at whether a class is doing too much or too little damage? Merovin (LA)
    A: As you probably suspect, we have a simple counter that measures the number of forum posts on a given class and we buff or nerf accordingly. Seriously though, we look at a lot of different measurements, which becomes the full-time job of several designers. Our three most powerful tools are doing predictive modeling for how classes will perform under various scenarios and with various levels of gear, actually testing these numbers using characters in the game world, and then measuring the numbers generated by actual players on PTR or live servers. Remember that we have access to a number of tools not available to players. While theorycrafters have gotten very good at reverse engineering how our damage calculations work, there are still a few opportunities where they get it wrong while we can just peek under the hood to remind ourselves how a calculation is made. Secondly, it’s very easy for us to create a lot of characters with whatever gear we want and have them beat on whatever kinds of targets we want in a very controlled environment. We can also change any of the numbers to empirically test the outcome. Furthermore, we can automate character damage rotations to a much greater degree than macros can accomplish, which gives us an idea of the delta between theoretical maxima and more typical player performance (which includes things like human reaction speed, decision making and good old Internet lag). The specific situation that the character is in matters enormously. Maximum sustained DPS is almost irrelevant in PvP when applying burst in controlled windows is king. Yet both numbers have a huge impact on the game and neither is more important than the other. In PvE, the specifics of an encounter can trump almost everything. We have very few Patchwerk-style fights these days, and sometimes we even buff or debuff characters directly as part of the encounter. Some specs are good on movement fights. Some do better when there is a lot of incoming damage. Some benefit from spreading dots. Some can shoot flying dragons. We tend to focus a lot of our balance effort on the current tier of raiding content, because that is what is most important to players, but even then we have to look at a wide variety of skill sets. We do look at scaling into future content, but we tend to obsess over it a lot less than players do, because we adjust classes quite often these days. We actually do read the forums a lot too, our own and all the others out there that you probably read, just to make sure there is nothing we’re missing. Our community team helps enormously in this endeavor, particularly in helping to funnel the feedback from players from Latin America, Europe and Asia. We’re in contact with expert gamers from around the world. We also all play the game a great deal and very often we personally catch a bug or something else that isn’t working quite right. As an aside, this is the kind of question we were really hoping to get more of with this series. It’s open-ended, potentially interesting to a lot of different players, and not just a thinly veiled demand for buffs.

Q: Rogue is the only pure melee damage dealer class, however their overall damage is lower to compare with other pure DPS classes (like mages, warlocks and hunters) due to obsolete mechanics. We lose a lot of DPS while switching between targets, which happens rather often in Cataclysm encounters. Redirect ability is useful of course, however its cooldown is way too long and at the same time you can’t redirect poisons and some other effects from one target to another. Taking this in mind, do you have any plans to change rogue mechanics in the nearest future? Луксурия(EU-RU)
    A: One of the defining elements of rogue gameplay is the feeling of building up potential against a single opponent, and then unleashing that power. Redirect allows rogues to “cheat” on these mechanics once per minute (or more often with Restless Blades), but if we removed these ramping elements entirely, rogues would lose a large piece of what makes them unique. We recognize that at the end of the day, however, many players would rather be powerful than unique. Ideally, we’d like you to be both. Having to build up combo points to operate at maximum effectiveness is a disadvantage compared to being able to just do maximum damage from the outset, and having to move to melee range to attack a new target is a disadvantage compared to being able to switch instantly from range. There’s nothing inherently wrong with disadvantages, as long as they are counterbalanced by equally powerful strengths. Rogue damage recently has been lower than we’d prefer, even on fights with low movement and no target-switching, which should be absolutely ideal for rogues. We’ve taken steps in 4.2 to increase rogue damage output across the board, and we will continue to make adjustments until we feel that rogue performance is where we’d like it to be.

Q: Could you find a way to give a sense of responsibility to damage dealers as much as tanks and healers already have in instances? Raghnar (EU-FR)
    A: First off, DPS often do have important roles in fights, whether it’s banging gongs for Atramedes or interrupting during the Nefarian encounter, or just knowing to run out of the dragon breath in the Drahga Shadowburner encounter in Grim Batol (since the healer can’t possibly keep you alive through all of that). On any given encounter, we tend to give responsibility to a few DPS players instead of all of them, and we think that’s ultimately a good thing. Not every player wants a ton of responsibility and we don’t think it would be good for them, or the game, for us to force those players into high-pressure situations. It is a game after all – it’s supposed to be fun. If challenging is what’s fun for you, well, that’s what Heroic modes are for. We think most players understand that taking on the healing or tanking roles is going to come with more responsibility, and those roles in turn tend to attract players comfortable or interested in having more responsibility. Going even further, we’d say that one of the reasons our current raid encounters are considered so difficult is that the failure mechanics are fairly steep. We have a lot of “you’re the bomb!” spells where if you fail to run out of the group, you can kill not only yourself, but the entire raid. That makes it harder to bring along inexperienced players or new recruits to see a boss encounter. Maybe those type of mechanics should stick to the Heroic modes of the fights, where everyone is presumably signing up for a lot of individual responsibility.

Q: Do you have any plans to improve Frost mages in PvE? Currently, Frost isn't considered a viable tree, as a fair number of players spec either Arcane or Fire, but they rarely consider Frost. Tenecto (LA)
    A: This is one of those interesting phenomena you observe when you do game design. According to our testing, Frost does comparable DPS today, and remains competitive in Heroic Firelands gear. Yet, Frost is much less popular than Fire or Arcane in the current raiding environment. Some of that could be tradition. Some of that could be that the DPS is close enough that players pick whichever mage rotation they enjoy the most. It’s also possible that some aspect of our testing doesn’t catch some factor that ends up suppressing Frost damage in the “real world” compared to our internal servers. That certainly happens sometimes. It’s hard to just look at logs and get an accurate picture of the mage DPS situation. When the best mages in the world are playing Fire and Arcane, it’s natural to expect that there are a lot of huge DPS averages for Fire and Arcane mages. That might not mean that Frost damage is low, only that the best players aren’t playing Frost. We see this sort of thing over and over again. As we mentioned recently, you can see Unholy DPS drop in 4.1 not because Unholy’s DPS was nerfed, but because so many good DKs switched from Unholy to Frost. While it’s ideal that all DPS specs are viable in all aspects of the game, and that remains our goal, it’s a lofty goal. Frost remains the mage spec of choice in PvP, which is a better situation than if it were just a dead spec. While some specs may do slightly higher damage than other specs within a given class, the differences aren’t so great that you’d really be holding your group back if you played your favorite talent tree instead of the one with the highest DPS logs. In almost all cases, individual skill, gear, encounter specifics and Internet lag will have a bigger effect on your DPS than your spec choice (and often your class). Seriously, try Frost mages. Try Subtlety rogues. Their DPS is honestly pretty competitive.


Archive:

Ask the Devs - Answers #1: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2228225718
Ask the Devs - Answers #2: PvP http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2267599521
Ask the Devs - Answers #3: UI http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2301722463
Ask the Devs - Answers #4: Armor and Weapons http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2353015977
Ask the Devs - Answers #5: Achievements http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2369681189
Ask the Devs - Answers #6: Guild Advancement http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2416158906
Ask the Devs - Answers #7: Professions http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2522165843
Ask the Devs - Answers #8: Firelands http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2580388888
Ask the Devs - Answers #9: Tanking http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2649805301

    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Ask the Creative Devs #2

    To say that it's been a while since there was a session to ask the creative team at Blizzard questions would probably be an understatement. However, today is changing all that--if you're a lore fanatic, you're about to get some light shed on some very obscure topics. From the question of the blood elves' true eye color to pondering on where the forsaken get their ship fleet from, we've got the second "Ask the CDevs" to show you guys.
    The moon recently sent some irate emails to our Creative Development team, threatening to vacate Earth's orbit if we didn't divulge the answers to the "Ask CDev #2" thread soon. Rather than calling the moon's bluff, the CDev team stepped up its timetable and is now ready to present the answers to your questions!

    In an effort to efficiently disseminate as much information as possible, many of these questions are amalgamations of several slight variations asked by the US, EU, Korean, and Chinese player bases. In addition, a few unanswered questions from "Ask CDev #1" are included as well. Enjoy!

    Q: Are the Warcraft and World of Warcraft RPG books considered canon?

    A: No. The RPG books were created to provide an engaging table-top role-playing experience, which sometimes required diverging from the established video game canon. Blizzard helped generate a great deal of the content within the RPG books, so there will be times when ideas from the RPG will make their way into the game and official lore, but you are much better off considering the RPG books non-canonical unless otherwise stated.

    Q: Where is X? (X = Calia Menethil, Turalyon, Alleria Windrunner, Med'an, Gallywix, etc.)

    A: There are several "missing" characters in the Warcraft universe, but they are not forgotten! While we'd love to talk about these characters, doing so would spoil a number of the plots we have for Cataclysm and beyond. Believe us when we say that you will definitely hear about these characters when we're ready to talk about them!

    Q: Why isn't there a(n) X Archaeology branch? (X = Tauren, Aqir, Faceless One, Furbolg, Murloc, etc.)

    A: This is more of a game design question than a CDev one, but it was asked enough that we wanted to at least point out the following: just because a race doesn't have an Archaeology branch now doesn't mean there aren't artifacts for that race, nor does it mean that the race isn't a candidate for possible future additions to the profession.

    Q: Have we seen a true titan yet in World of Warcraft?

    A: No, only their creations.

    Q: Are night elves related to trolls in some way?

    A: See issue #5 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine!

    Q: What is the relationship between the Ancients of the Emerald Dream and the loa?

    A: Troll druids visiting the Moonglade have been overheard calling the wisps who reside there loa, just as they refer to Goldrinn, Aviana, and the other returned Ancients as loa. Night elves and tauren have tried to counsel these trolls on "correct" druidic nomenclature, but the trolls thus far have been stuck in their ways.

    Q: If trolls are able to regenerate their limbs, why didn't Zul'jin's arm grow back?

    A: For the most part, it is the speed at which trolls regenerate that makes them formidable foes. When in balance with the loa of their tribe, they are also able to regrow digits (fingers and toes). Tales abound in troll culture, however, of those blessed by the loa with extraordinary regenerative abilities, such as the ability to regrow limbs and even vital organs lost in battle. The tale of Vula'jin the Void speaks of how he regrew almost his entire body after standing in a pool of shadowflame. But just as the loa can bless, they can also curse; troll children are taught legends of those cursed by the loa, unable to heal even flesh wounds, to instill the proper respect for their patron spirits.

    Q: What races were on Azeroth before the coming of the titans?

    A: Besides the elementals, the only known sentient races on Azeroth when the titans' forces arrived to subdue the Old Gods were the trolls, the race known as "faceless ones," and the aqir. Due to the Old Gods' war against the titans, as well as the extensive terraforming that followed the war's conclusion, records of what races existed before even the Old Gods' arrival have likely been lost forever.

    Q: What contact, if any, have the tol'vir in Uldum had with the rest of Azeroth over the course of their existence?

    A: Although the systems keeping Uldum hidden from the rest of the world worked flawlessly from the ordering of Azeroth up until the Cataclysm, the tol'vir inside did have some knowledge of what was going on outside their home: many of the titans' security devices in Uldum were in communication with the other titanic cities (Ulduar, Uldaman, etc.). The Halls of Origination were actually the system that Algalon the Observer intended to activate upon his arrival in Ulduar… which the players prevented from automatically triggering when they sent the "Reply-Code Alpha" signal from Dalaran.

    Q: Why do blood elves still have green eyes?

    A: Corruption from fel energies takes a long time to wear off. It's why most orcs are still green even though Mannoroth is dead.

    Q: How did Sinestra survive the events of Night of the Dragon?

    A: For all intents and purposes, she didn't; when players encounter Sinestra in the Bastion of Twilight raid, she is a husk of her former self, pieced together and reanimated by the powers of Deathwing's Old God master.

    Q: What are the origins of stone and storm drakes?

    A: Brann Bronzebeard recently uncovered evidence, corroborated by reports from adventurers in Deepholm, that proto-dragons and dragons may have origins in these—and other—elemental drakes. The inhabitants of Deepholm, the Skywall, the Firelands, and the Abyssal Maw are less than talkative on these matters, however, and most of them were not around when the elemental prisons were created.

    Q: Were there ever different elemental lords before the current four?

    A: Ragnaros, Al'Akir, Therazane, and Neptulon are the only elemental rulers Azeroth has had in its existence. What this will mean for the elements of fire and air with the deaths of their elemental lords is unknown, but it most certainly is not good.

    Q: Why do Kvaldir disintegrate into seaweed when they die?

    A: The Kvaldir typically reside deep in the ocean, where their corporeal forms would be crushed if their mistweaving magics didn't hold off the ravages of the depths. Although they remain flesh and blood in life, their deaths result in a backlash of mistweaving energies, dissolving the Kvaldir into mist over time. All that remains are patches of sea growth that had accumulated on their bodies and, of course, any loot they were carrying.

    Q: Why are gnomes suddenly interested in the Light?

    A: The gnomes have had an interest in the Light since they joined the Alliance, but they were so focused on technology and, later, the retaking of Gnomeregan that studying the Light didn't feel necessary to them; the dwarven priests and paladins of Ironforge served as the only connection to the Light they needed. Now that the gnomes have reclaimed a foothold in Gnomeregan and begun rebuilding their culture outside of Ironforge, however, they've recognized the importance of having followers of the Light in their own ranks. In addition, researching new methods of purifying irradiated gnomes has led to radical advances in Light-based technology!

    Q: Does the Wildhammer area that was called Northeron appear in WoW?

    A: Prior to the Cataclysm, the northernmost part of the Twilight Highlands was called Northeron. The rapid melting of its famed icy cliffs due to the catastrophic climate shift from the Cataclysm, the incursion of Twilight's Hammer forces, and the appearance of the creature known as Iso'rath all served to put an end to Northeron and many of the independent dwarves who lived there. Some of the wreckage is still visible along the northern coast. Fortunately, the nearby spiritual center of Kirthaven remains intact.

    Q: Is Elune a naaru?

    A: During a recent visit to Darnassus by Velen, he explained that the kaldorei's description of Elune, as well as the demonstrated powers of the goddess, matched his experiences with powerful naaru. He began to offer advice regarding how to commune with powerful naaru, but Tyrande thanked him for his opinion, then cordially requested that he refrain from making such outlandish claims when in Darnassus or in the presence of Elune's priesthood.

    Q: The "There must always be a Lich King" mantra seemed awfully suspicious, coming from ghosts trapped in Frostmourne. Was there something else going on there?

    A: To save people from generating elaborate conspiracy theories, we'll be serious for a moment and say, definitively, no. The ghosts of Uther and Terenas understood that the Scourge would run rampant without someone to keep them in check. Yes, that does also mean that Arthas and Ner'zhul were not unleashing the full force of the Scourge during their respective reigns: you are welcome to speculate on the reasons for that.

    Q: What is the Argent Crusade's relationship with the Forsaken, in light of Sylvanas's recent actions?

    A: Although the members of the Argent Crusade still stand by the Forsaken heroes who joined them in the battle against the Scourge, Sylvanas's actions since the slaying of Arthas have deeply concerned the crusaders. They, along with certain members of the Ebon Blade, are now watching Sylvanas and the Forsaken very closely, as similarities between her and the Lich King are increasing in number by the day.

    Q: The Forsaken don't have a harbor or any dry docks: how do they create their ships?

    A: The Forsaken navy is composed of ships dredged up from the bottom of the ocean. Most of them were once among Lordaeron's fleets.

    Q: When undead use or are healed by the Holy Light, does it cause them any actual damage or harm, or does it only cause them pain (in addition to the intended effects of the spell)?

    A: Channeling the Light in any way, or receiving healing from the Light, only causes pain. Forsaken priests do not disintegrate or explode from channeling the Light for an extended period of time… though they may wish they would.

    Q: Are there long-term effects on an undead who is in regular contact with the Holy Light in a positive way?

    A: It is difficult to say, as there are no known records of undead wielding the Holy Light before the Third War. There are reports, however, that some Forsaken have slowly experienced a sharpening of their dulled senses of touch, smell, etc., as well as an increase in the flashes of positive emotions that have otherwise become so rare since their fall into undeath. Unfortunately, this may be the cause of the Forsaken priesthood's increased attempts at self-destruction; regaining these senses would force the priests to smell their own rotting flesh, taste the decay in their mouths and throats, and even feel the maggots burrowing within their bodies.

    Q: Why are humans who drink the blood of worgen unable to be raised as Forsaken?

    A: Not only are the Val'kyr less powerful than the Lich King when it comes to raising the undead, but the worgen curse also makes raising them into undeath far more difficult than it is for normal humans. The worgen curse has roots in both the Emerald Dream (through the wolf Ancient, Goldrinn) and the holy power of the goddess Elune. In addition, those worgen who imbibe the waters of Tal'doren—through the ritual they undergo to maintain balance between the worgen curse and their humanity—have a further resistance to the corruption of undeath.

    Q: Are blood elf death knights still afflicted by their racial addiction to magic?

    A: No, though their new addiction, the one all Ebon Blade death knights possess, is arguably worse: the need to inflict pain. If death knights do not regularly inflict agony upon another creature, they begin to suffer wracking pains that could drive them into a mindless, blood-seeking hysteria—a far worse fate than that of those who suffer from arcane withdrawal.

    Q: What has become of the blood elf Spellbreakers?

    A: While they were already few in number to begin with, the ranks of this formidable fighting force were thinned drastically when their headquarters on the Isle of Quel'Danas was overwhelmed by Kael'thas and his Burning Legion forces. The lone squad that remains now exists as a relic of a bygone era, as the Spellbreakers have refrained from training any new recruits since Kael'thas's betrayal.

    Q: How have the blood elves reacted to the Highborne's return to night elf society, heralding the return of kaldorei magi?

    A: Because their expulsion from night elf society after the War of the Ancients was due to their use of arcane magic, the blood elves were outraged to hear that the kaldorei had welcomed the Highborne back and were tolerating the practice of arcane magic again. After witnessing the "rookie" mistakes made by the new kaldorei magi, however, the blood elves are anxiously awaiting whatever mess the kaldorei are going to put themselves in. What's more, some sin'dorei have been able to exploit the kaldorei's inexperience in order to rout Alliance forces, as seen in the "Amberwind's Journal" quest series in Azshara.

    4.2 Dungeon Journal Preview

    In patch 4.2, Rage of the Firelands, we'll be introducing the Dungeon Journal, a new system that players can use to learn more about specific dungeons, the bosses within those dungeons, their abilities, and the rewards they offer.


    While in a dungeon, hitting "M" (the default key for Map) will open the Dungeon Journal. A new button will also be available in the navigation tray, so that the Dungeon Journal can be accessed from anywhere in-game. There won’t be any "gating" or limitations placed on what content a player can see in the Dungeon Journal. All boss/dungeon/raid information will be available to all players regardless of level, gear, or content experience.




    The dungeon/raid map will display each boss in their respective locations, marked by unique icons.

    Players can access boss information by clicking on boss icons on the map, or by clicking on the boss’s name in the associated tab of the dungeon/raid map page. General loot information for the dungeon/raid can also be accessed from the dungeon/raid main page by clicking on the Loot tab. This will show all loot dropped (from bosses and trash) in the instance, of a certain quality.



    Boss abilities will be available via the boss’s page, either by clicking on the map or by going through the Dungeon tab. The Dungeon tab on the boss’s page will list out all major spells, abilities, and phases for that encounter.

    Players will be able to glean useful insight in to the mechanics of boss encounters by first reading the Dungeon Journal. Our goal is to give a solid foundation for taking on the boss, a general sense of how the encounter will play out, and some context to the abilities, without taking the place of creating independent strategies.




    In patch 4.2, you'll be able to use the Dungeon Journal to help conquer every dungeon and raid that was introduced with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, including those in Firelands. We want the Dungeon Journal to include as many dungeons, bosses, and encounters as possible, and we hope to add more in the future. Have fun storming the castle!

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    Blizz Blues 20: Enhancinate

    Darnell shows us what Blizzard's real intentions are with the latest PvP mount announcement and more!

    Shall We Play a “War” Game?

    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    Last December we introduced a new feature to World of Warcraft called War Games. This feature would provide players with the opportunity to face off in battles of epic proportions for fun and bragging rights. Arena teams and Battleground teams could meet up, pick their field of battle, and go toe-to-toe to hone their skills, see who was king (or queen) of the hill, and settle a score or two. While this was an exciting new feature, starting a War Game wasn’t as visible or easily accessible as we had wanted it to be. To address this issue, patch 4.2 implements a new interface option within the Player vs. Player (H) tab that makes it easier than ever to call out friend or foe for a face-off.


    To answer your burning questions, we’ve updated the FAQ below.

    Q: What's a War Game?
    A: A War Game is an unranked match in which one group of players challenges another group to an Arena or Battleground skirmish in a setting of their choosing. The leader of the group will be able to initiate a War Game by opening the Player vs. Player window (H) as explained below.

    Q: How does it work?
    A: After you've formed your group (a minimum number of party members is needed depending on the Battleground or Arena chosen), open the Player vs. Player window (H), and select the War Games tab. To start a War Game you must be the party leader, select a Battleground or Arena, target an opposing party leader, and click the Start War Game button.

    The other party leader will receive a pop-up notice stating " has challenged you to a War Game in the ."

    The challenged party leader then has a little over a minute to accept the challenge. Once he or she accepts, each group will be placed in the queue and will receive a pop-up window prompting them to enter the skirmish once it's ready.

    Q: Can I play War Game skirmishes against members of my own faction?
    A: Yes! The War Game skirmish system allows you to challenge players in your same faction to Arena and Battleground matches. You can also challenge those of the opposite faction.

    Q: What Battlegrounds and Arenas are available to play?
    A: Players can choose from the drop-down menu the following Battlegrounds and Arenas to play in:
    • Battlegrounds
      • 10v10 (minimum 5v5)
        • Warsong Gulch
        • Twin Peaks
        • Battle for Gilneas
        • (Rated)Eye of the Storm
      • 15v15 (minimum 8v8)
        • Arathi Basin
        • Eye of the Storm
        • Strand of the Ancients
      • 40v40 (minimum 10v10)
        • Alterac Valley
        • Isle of Conquest
        • Random Battleground
    • Arenas (2v2,3v3,5v5, minimum 2v2)
      • Nagrand Arena
      • Blade’s Edge Arena
      • Ruins of Lordaeron
      • Dalaran Sewers
      • The Ring of Valor
      • All Arenas

    Q: Can I challenge a team from another realm to a skirmish?
    A: No, you can only challenge opponents on your own realm.

    Q: Can I start a game if one team has fewer group members than the other?
    A: You are able to create a Battleground War Game with uneven team sizes, but you are not able to create an Arena War Game with uneven team sizes. For example, an 8v5 Warsong Gulch War Game is possible, but launching an Arena War Game with uneven team sizes won't work.

    Q: What's the largest possible size for a War Game?
    A: Arena War Games can support up to 5v5 matches. Battleground group sizes are limited to the maximum number of participants each map normally allows.

    Q: Are any statistics recorded from War Game skirmishes?
    A: No, they work similarly to the old Arena skirmish system. Kills, damage, and healing are tracked and displayed at the end of the match, but wins and losses are not.

    Q: How long does it take for a War Game match to start?
    A: Once the challenge has been accepted, you will generally be through the queue in less than 30 seconds. War Games offer you a quick way to get into practice matches with other teams, test out potential recruits, or just have fun with your friends.

    Q: Can I receive achievements or guild experience in a War Game?
    A: Because you can pick who you play against, nothing is awarded for playing in these skirmishes -- except for the rush that comes with a hard-won victory, of course.

    Q: Do I get honor for killing players in a War Game Battleground?
    A: No. These are skirmish matches, so no honor is awarded for objectives or kills.

    Q: Why have you added this feature?
    A: Players have long been asking for a way to challenge specific teams, guildmates, friends, and rivals to skirmish matches in Arenas and Battlegrounds of their choosing. We hope you enjoy this new feature, and we look forward to seeing you on the battlefield!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Midsummer Fire Festival

    The festivities have begun as the citizens of Azeroth and Outland celebrate the hottest of seasons by playing with fire all across these worlds! You'll want to take part no matter your experience or character level, as this is one of the most rewarding holiday events of the year. It's also one of the most PvP-heavy events, so strap into your gladiator gear and get ready to desecrate or defend the Midsummer bonfires.
    As with most holidays you'll want to stop by a capital city to begin the event’s main quests, including the ever-fun torch tossing challenges. While in each of the capital cities, be on the lookout for enemy players; stealing the flames from capital city bonfires is a necessary step in getting everything out of this once-a-year event.
    Ultimately you'll collect Burning Blossoms through your participation in these events, a special holiday currency you’ll then spend to purchase various items and pets available from the Midsummer suppliers and merchants.
    New or Leveling Players
    If you're not at max level yet you'll want to stop by the bonfires located near most towns and cities. By honoring the friendly bonfires, or desecrating the enemy faction bonfires, you'll be awarded a great deal of experience and gold. Be sure to use a Burning Blossom while at a bonfire to receive an hour-long critical strike buff to increase your damage output while questing. Relighting an extinguished bonfire will also grant a zone-wide buff that gives all players a bonus fire damage proc.
    Dancing around the ribbon pole at any friendly bonfire location will grant you a 10% bonus to XP for up to an hour (spin longer to increase the buff duration). Make sure you're stopping by as many locations as you can to honor or desecrate each bonfire, and keep the 10% bonus up to make leveling even faster.
    Be warned that desecrating enemy fires will flag you for PvP – even if you play on a PvE server!
    Level 85
    The Frost Lord Ahune appears during the Midsummer Fire Festival, and max-level characters can use the Dungeon Finder to queue up for a chance to take on this holiday boss. Talk to Luma Cloudsister once you’re inside the instance to begin your quest to summon and defeat Ahune. If successful, he’ll drop one of five ilevel 353 cloaks (Icebound Cloak, Shroud of Winter's Chill, The Frost Lord's War Cloak, The Frost Lord's Battle Shroud, Cloak of the Frigid Winds), and very rarely a unique Deathfrost weapon enchant recipe for enchanters. Players will also receive a Satchel of Chilled Goods for their first Ahune victory each day. These satchels contain Justice points, a very small chance at the Frostscythe of Lord Ahune, and an even smaller chance at an ice elemental non-combat pet. Although only one Satchel of Chilled Goods can be had per day per person, a group of five characters can summon and defeat Ahune five times in the same instance by each using their quest item to summon him.

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Weekly Podcast list: June 13-19, 2011


    All podcasts and content belong to their owners. WoW Insider is not responsible for what you hear, and some of the content may not be safe for work.

    Patch 4.2: New PvP Mounts for Rated Battlegrounds

    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

    In order to best accommodate players under the unique play style of Rated Battlegrounds, we’ll be offering all-new PvP ground mounts -- the Vicious War Wolf (Horde) or Vicious War Steed (Alliance) -- in a unique way. If you want to sit your knickers on these sweet new rides come patch 4.2, Rage of the Firelands, you must earn achievements for winning either 75, 150, or 300 Rated Battlegrounds.

    One account-bound mount will be awarded for each of these achievements earned, so if you win 300 Rated Battlegrounds with a character, you’ll be afforded the opportunity to give that character and two of your alts each a wolf or steed. Since these mounts are tied to each achievement and not to your placement on the competitive ladder, they will be awarded instantly rather than at the end of each season as with Arena mounts. Your Rated Battleground wins tracked for these achievements are cumulative and are not reset with each season, so you can work toward the reward at your own pace.


    For those of you storming the front lines, protecting vital tactical positions, and keeping your teammates alive in Rated Battlegrounds, we wish you the best of luck in obtaining awards that befit your show of valor!

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Cataclysm - Tier 12: Druid and Priest

    Paragon Live Raid at DreamHack 2011 - VoD is up

    Starts at about the 7 minute mark

    Watch live video from SHOUTcraft on Justin.tv

    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    Patch 4.2 - PTR Build 14313/ End of Season 9 Postponed for 1 Week

    Another bugfix build has been deployed on test realms tonight. That one really didn't have any interesting changes


    End of Season 9 Postponed for 1 Week
    The patch won't hit the live servers next week and as predicted, it means the Arena Season will end later than expected.

    Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    As an update, Season 9 will be ending no earlier than June 28.

    [...] Unfortunately, there are many logistical reasons for why we needed to push back the end date to the 28th. Keep in mind our original announcement said it could end "as early as June 21." It wasn't an absolute confirmation of the end date. The announcement now says it could end "as early as June 28", which means it's still not guaranteed to end that day. It just depends on if all of our other ducks are in a row.

    Friday, June 17, 2011

    Patch 4.2 - Opening Map / Mails Animation

    World of Warcraft is Dead - A Film by Jesse Cox and Wowcrendor

    Explanation of 4.2 Balance Changes

    Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
    We understand that raw patch notes don’t always provide enough context for changes to the game, so we thought we’d take a moment to explain some of our logic behind the buffs and nerfs coming in the 4.2 “Rage of the Firelands” patch. We particularly want to try to combat the perception that classes end up nerfed in PvE as collateral damage from PvP nerfs (or vice versa). The number of PvP buffs versus PvP nerfs were about equal this time around, and we make careful consideration to keep the impact outside of PvP minimal. So, if we nerfed your class’s PvE damage, it’s most likely because we thought your class was doing too much damage in PvE.

    No doubt you’ll disagree with some of our logic -- “But we were middle of the pack!” seems to be the common rebuttal these days. Balance is an art, though, not a science. (This topic probably deserves its own blog, but I’ll try to spell it out briefly.)

    Balancing a Battleship
    Player feedback certainly plays a role in our deciding to make balance changes, but it’s just one small part. (And remember that our public forums are not the only place where players voice their opinions.) We also do a lot of internal testing, both simulations and actual character performance, and we collect a lot of external data, which needs to include players at a wide variety of skill levels.

    If a class is performing poorly except in the hands of one percent of the population, that’s a problem, but it’s not an excuse for that class to be overpowered when played by that one percent, especially in PvP. In PvP, your group composition (whether your whole Arena team or just the participants in a given fight in a Battleground) matters enormously. In PvE, the encounter specifics matter enormously (and we’re about to get a new cast of characters in Firelands). As a result, it can be challenging to decide which numbers are the right numbers. It doesn’t make sense to balance PvE damage solely around Patchwerk-style target dummies and assume everything else is a gimmick. Likewise it doesn’t make sense to buff and nerf for each individual encounter. (Say a boss buffs casters -- do you then nerf casters as a consequence?)

    Also realize that we don’t believe in the existence of any single thermometer for estimating character performance. By that I mean there is no single relatively-accurate measurement of real and true DPS (or tanking, or healing) upon which most players agree. Everything from simulations to target dummy DPS to Arena comp percentages to the top 100 raid parses all count as pieces of the puzzle, and you really have to consider the totality of all of that information in the proper context.

    Resto druids “win” healing meters now in part because their raid cooldown, Tranquility, shows up as healing. Warriors do well on Chimaeron because they take a lot of raid damage. Resto shaman heal well on Chimaeron because everyone is wounded all the time.) Yet once you start eliminating data -- “oh that’s a gimmick fight” or “oh, someone is inflating their meters by attacking an irrelevant target” -- you risk skewing the results.

    Statistics is a complex business. That doesn’t mean all of this stuff is inherently unknowable and nobody should bother. It just means you have to be careful; the discussions about these topics are never short and simple. It's wise to be skeptical when anyone attempts to boil down conclusions on class balance to very simple declarations.

    Simple Declarations
    Having said that, we have a lot of ground to cover below, so some of these notes are going to be very terse by necessity. My apologies in advance.

    General
    • We changed the way interrupts interact with spell schools. Our intent when we created dual school spells (like Mind Spike being Frost and Shadow) was to allow players locked out of one school to still have something to cast, and we now have the technology to deliver on that design. However, we maintained the rule that being interrupted while casting a dual-school spell will lock you out of both schools because we didn’t want players to only use those spells as a way of avoiding interruption.
    • We changed all heals to have 200% crits because we wanted to make crit a more attractive stat to healers. Anything random is already at a disadvantage when viewed by a healer, and one point of haste just flat out increased throughput more than a point of crit.
    • We removed the threat caused by buffs or crowd control because we wanted to make communication and coordination easier in dungeons, especially among strangers using Dungeon Finder. We want the challenge of a dungeon encounter to be the encounter mechanics, not marking targets. We also think this change will be a quality of life improvement for tanks, who inherited a lot of the responsibility for explaining fights, marking targets and otherwise setting the pace.
    • We changed the values of Agility for plate-wearers and Strength for leather-wearers to reinforce which type of armor you should be using and so we wouldn’t have to spend diminishing returns trying to balance tanks wearing non-traditional armor sets.

    Death Knight (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We added the cast time to Hungering Cold for PvP reasons. It is one of the most powerful forms of crowd control in the game, especially in Battlegrounds, and yet was impossible to prevent.
    • The nerfs to Obliterate and Howling Blast were made because Frost damage was too high in both PvP and PvE. Note that these values were hotfixed -- you shouldn’t see damage drop further when 4.2 goes live.
    • The Glyph of Dark Succor change was to keep Death Strike from providing so much healing in PvP.
    • The Might of the Frozen Wastes change was a small tweak to help keep one-handed Frost relatively competitive with two-handed style.
    • The Unholy Might buff was to help catch Unholy up to Frost in PvE. Interestingly, we didn’t nerf Unholy damage at all in 4.1, but you can still see a small drop in their DPS because so many talented DKs went Frost. I’d love to have the discussion some time about how close two similar specs need to be before players will play the one that is most fun for them and not the one that does theoretical higher damage. Is it 5%? 1%? 0%?

    Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We boosted Feral damage to compensate for their losing the attack power from Strength. Net DPS shouldn’t change much overall, though burst may be slightly higher. (We didn’t want to buff bleeds since that was a problem before in PvP.)
    • We cut back on the power of Innervates from Feral and Balance druids because we felt they were contributing to too much healer mana.
    • We changed several Balance druid mechanics to cut down on the damage they could do while moving in both PvP and PvE and to cut back on some of their strength in multi-dot fights in PvE. Furthermore, we felt like druids were spending too much time at one end or the other of the Eclipse bar by using dots rather than moving the bar back and forth as intended.
    • We toned down bear damage, because they were going to do more DPS than other tanks while tanking. Other changes were made to keep bears from neglecting certain core abilities.
    • We redesigned Restoration’s mastery because it was devalued in situations where druids did a lot of raid healing by HoT-ing different targets, especially in 25-player raids.

    Hunter (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • Multi-Shot was doing too much damage in PvE given how simple it was to use.
    • Careful Aim allowed Marskman hunters to do too much damage in PvE raiding, where the 80% health phase could last for a long stretch of time.
    • However, the Careful Aim nerf also affected Survival, whose DPS was fine or even a little low, so we buffed Black Arrow to compensate.

    Mage (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We nerfed Arcane Blast because Arcane’s damage was too high in PvE. We wanted Arcane to be competitive with Fire, especially given that Fire tends to perform better on fights with movement or multiple targets. However, it looked like many Fire mages were begrudgingly respeccing to Arcane, which wasn’t the intent. We wanted Arcane to be competitive, not the only serious mage spec for PvE. (See Frost vs. Unholy note above.)
    • We originally tried nerfing Spellsteal’s cooldown, but that made it feel really random (for both sides) since the mage had no control over which spell was stolen. We instead nerfed the mana cost to encourage tactical use of Spellsteal and discourage spamming. We’d still like to try a model where dispels have a long cooldown but remove everything, but that is too big a change for now.
    • We added the diminishing returns to Deep Freeze and Ring of Frost (after earlier trying some different nerfs) to tone down Frost mage control, especially in the mid and lower tiers of PvP when dispels can’t be assured.

    Paladin (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We concluded PvE Holy paladins were ending fights with too much mana relative to other healers, so we raised the mana cost of their single-target heals.
    • We tweaked Holy Light because we wanted it to compete a little more with Divine Light, especially when used with Beacon of Light.
    • We buffed Word of Glory for three reasons: We felt Holy Power was mattering less to Holy paladins than it did at Cataclysm launch. We wanted to provide more uninterruptible healing in PvP. We knew Light of Dawn was trumping Word of Glory in almost all cases in 25-player raids.
    • We changed the Denounce mechanic to give Holy paladins slightly more offensive utility in PvP. We felt that ignoring the other healing classes came at some risk which was not the case for paladins.
    • We buffed Holy Radiance both to help PvE paladins feel like they could make larger contributions to raid healing (especially in light of the single-target nerfs) but also as part of a significant buff to Speed of Light to let Holy paladins have more mobility in PvP.
    • We made a tweak to Holy’s mastery to allow its bubble to stack, so it would be wasted less often when healing a single target.
    • We made Selfless Healer, Divine Protection, and Beacon of Light no longer dispellable so that paladins didn’t lose so much of their survivability in PvP to dispels. (At no point in this patch was Avenging Wrath undispellable -- that was a myth.)
    • We redesigned Holy Shield, partially because paladin mitigation was going to be too good in the Firelands raid, but also because many paladins (though of course not all) told us they wanted a more dynamic rotation and less passive mitigation.
    • We buffed Seal of Righteousness to let Retribution use it for AE fights as intended, and also to buff Ret AE damage overall.
    • We made a slight buff to Selfless Healer. While we thought the old model was unbalanced and turned Ret into too much of a healing spec, we heard from a lot of players who liked the utility of being able to help heal somewhat. This talent should provide that trade-off in a more balanced way.

    Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • Shadow was doing too much DPS in PvE when multiple DoTs was favored, so we nerfed their DoT damage. We want Shadow to benefit from multi-DoTs, but Shadow’s damage was just too high under those conditions. We buffed Shadow cast-time spells to compensate.
    • We changed the facing requirement of Psychic Horror as a PvP quality of life change to make it consistent with other non-projectile crowd control spells.

    Rogue (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We nerfed Cloak of Shadows because it felt like Subtlety rogues could counter both casters and melee specs too easily. This change forces them to choose between Cloak of Shadows and Combat Readiness.
    • However, we wanted to compensate rogues for this PvP nerf, and we concluded rogue damage in PvE was also too low, so we buffed their damage overall.
    • The buff to Hemorrhage was designed to make it less punishing when it wasn’t possible to get behind a target, which often arises in PvP but also sometimes in PvE.

    Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We previously nerfed Water Shield via hotfix because shaman were gaining too much mana in PvP when attacked (especially by pets to discourage drinking). The 4.2 change is just a more elegant implementation of the same nerf that should keep the same mana per time as they have currently.
    • We recognized Fire Nova had some usability issues so we increased its throughput and added the Flame Shock refresh mechanic to help ease some of the inconvenience. This is a new mechanic and one we are still evaluating.
    • We introduced the Glyph of Unleashed Lightning to help shaman feel less punished by movement in both PvP and PvE. The impact of changes like this are very difficult to model.
    • We nerfed Mana Tide for the same reason we nerfed Innervate -- it was just providing too much mana for the group’s healers as a whole. We didn’t want to decrease the benefit to the shaman, so we redesigned / added the talent of Resurgence to help offset the nerf to them personally.

    Warlock (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We nerfed the Glyph of Soul Swap to reduce the ease of applying multiple DoTs in PvP.
    • We nerfed Drain Life because Affliction was forsaking Shadowbolt in PvE, which wasn’t intended. We want Drain Life to be for utility, not primarily for damage, and we want all casters to have to hard cast at least some of the time. This was done via hotfix and players won’t see a change in 4.2.

    Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
    • We put Deadly Calm and Recklessness on the same cooldown to reduce warrior burst in PvP.
    • We also nerfed Arms and Fury damage across the board because they were doing too much damage in both PvP and PvE. While we are sensitive to casters outperforming melee on several raid encounters, having warriors handily outperform all other melee isn’t the solution to that problem.
    • The stance requirement changes on long cooldowns was a quality of life change.
    • We didn’t want warriors using Charge as a rotational ability on some fights without actually having to move (which was a bug created as a result of a fix put in to help hunter problems with minimum range).

    Raid Nerfs
    • As discussed previously, now that players who have spent a lot of time in Throne of the Four Winds, Blackwing Descent, and Bastion of Twilight are moving on to Firelands, we wanted to make sure players who previously couldn’t progress on those raids are now able to experience them. In a way, this provides new content for everyone -- if you’re done with the 4.0 raids, you now have 4.2. If you haven’t seen the 4.0 raids yet, now’s your chance.

    As I write this, 4.2 has not been completed, so there is still time for us to make additional changes. Constructive feedback is always welcome. Even the most articulate, logical, and passionate argument won’t always force our hand, but it helps.

    Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He successfully resisted the urge to bore the other designers with tales of obscure marine fauna for Vashj’ir, though he did suggest the pogonophorans.