The tension between PvP balance and PvE balance is once more giving the developers a hard time. Ghostcrawler has made a post on the state of the Mage, and it runs roughly as follows. They're happy that Arcane is "starting to feel like a viable alternative" to Frostfire for raid DPS. However, they're concerned that Arcane does too much burst in PvP, and they need to figure out how to fix that without hurting Arcane too much in PvE. Argh! Can we just introduce different rule sets for PvP and PvE and be done with it? The devs have been saying similar things for Rogues since LK launched: too low in PvE, but we can't make them any higher in PvP or they'll be imbalanced.
He also touches on a few more points that don't make me want to hit things. The Improved Scorch debuff is "too much of a unique snowflake" in the new buff system, forcing exactly one mage per raid to spec for it and spend a fair amount of time casting Scorch to apply the debuff (compare Winter's Chill, which is applied passively); presumably, it is going to be addressed by making it easier to apply for Fire and/or castable by Arcane and/or other classes. Making frost-based Frostfire specs competitive is also "definitely a concern, but lower priority than these other issues."
Finally (and going back to PvE vs PvP), they would like to find some way to make Frostbolt builds competitive in PvE again (the phrase GC uses is "'Shatter combo' vibe"). However, so far, they haven't thought of a way to achieve this without buffing Cone of ColdIce Lance [thanks, Bubsa], which they don't want to buff in PvP. Wouldn't it be simple enough to remove PvP from the game just make Lance do less damage or whatever in PvP?
An interesting question came up in the WoW LiveJournal community early today: what does overhealing mean? At first I was a little surprised at the question, but then I realized they meant it not as "what is overhealing?" (to which the answer is that overhealing is the portion of your heals that would push the target past max health, and thus is in a sense "wasted"), but rather as "what does overhealing say about your healers?"
As a raid healer, my perspective agrees with most of the LiveJournal commenters: if your healer isn't having mana issues, don't worry too much about overhealing. It's going to be a natural consequence of proactive healing spells (Prayer of Mending, all HoTs, Earth Shield). In addition, most classes' big heals are too big to be used to their full extent all the time - to take an example from one of the comments, if I wait until targets are 10k in the hole before hitting them with something, we'll have a lot more deaths. Finally, sometimes overhealing can be actively helpful, as in the case of talents like Serendipity. I'd rather overheal by 1k than fill the hole exactly, because then I get a chunk of mana back.
However, if a healer is massively overhealing (the precise amounts to look for depend on the class), and is having mana issues, it can be a useful indicator that something is wrong with their playstyle - or they have a lot of latency. So, in summary: don't worry about it unless they're going OOM. Healing meters still suck, even the overhealing meters.
I have to be honest, this sort of falls into the realm of non-news here, but it piqued my interest anyway. Ghostcrawler recently hinted about some PvP upgrades for Shadow Priests, and it came up again last night. GC didn't give any specifics, only said that they hoped to announce the details 'soon.'
Despite the lack of details, I'm really looking forward to these announcements. I'm a Shadow Priest at heart, and while I'm perfectly fine with respeccing for different parts of the game, it would be nice if I didn't need to respec Discipline if I wanted to be truly effective in PvP. The biggest thing I'd like to see is some more debuff protection. Yeah, we could use more survivability for sure, but right now I think a lot of classes have that issue. My biggest Shadow Priest specific annoyance is not being able to keep DoTs up on a target reliably.
So we'll see what happens. Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to it. It is fun to go Discipline now and then, but being able to hold my own as Shadow would be pretty nice.
Rumor: Interview with a 3D modeler from Blizzard - Tue, 03 Feb 2009 16:00:00 EST We're going to go ahead and throw this out there, even though it's likely as fake as the 3.1 patch notes that come out a little while ago. But WotLK Wiki has an "interview" up with someone who (without any proof at all) claims to be a 3D modeler for Blizzard, and it's got some interesting info in it about a few of the future patches and the way things work behind the scenes over there.
The good news is that we'll someday know if this guy's full of bull or not -- he says that the optional boss in Ulduar will be vehicle-based, and that part of the raid will deal with the boss, while the other part of the raid runs around destroying parts of the environment in vehicles. He also says there's a whole new Azjol-Nerub zone going into the game in patch 3.2, and that the next expansion will likely focus on the Maelstrom and Caverns of Time, which will send us back in time and have Sargeras and Azshara as the main baddies. This could all be complete and total boloney (most of those things have already been rumored before), but at least it's stuff we can verify in the future.
The rest of his insights could just be made up, and unfortunately, he says some unkind things about a few other developers that Blizzard would probably frown upon if they were true. So take this with a metric ton of salt -- I looked around the Something Awful Ask/Tell forums to see if that's where this was originally posted, but didn't find anything, and WotLK Wiki didn't share a source at all, either. But we do have to agree with one of their sentiments: it would be nice if Blizzard was this forthcoming with some of their official outlets.
This post from Ghostcrawler on a discussion of warriors in PvP and their current woes mentions that the devs are 'currently discussing' the penalties warriors have to go through to switch stances. It's no secret that I think stance penalties are an outmoded concept, especially as I've been leveling my two DK's (one horde, one alliance) and getting to play with DK presences. As is pointed out, warriors not only have the stance penalty itself to consider, they also face losing most of their rage when they switch stances and they have to deal with abilites that they can only use in certain stances. It's one of the better explanations of the threefold disadvantage of stances and one I wish I'd come up with myself.
I realized when I got Rune Strike that it was like Revenge, only better in that it could be used in any presence. So if you are a soloing blood DK in blood presence, you can use Rune Strike as a source of high DPS without once switching a presence. And even if you did need to switch to use it, switching presences merely costs you a rune which will regenerate fairly quickly, it doesn't dump all of your runic power. This is just one example of how warrior stances penalize the warrior in three ways (loss of rage, inability to use certain abilities in certain stances, direct stance penalties) which really seems overly restricting. It's fine to say you want warriors to feel unique, but perhaps making them feel uniquely hampered isn't the way to go.
Ghostcrawler only says "This is something we are discussing" so I can only hope the discussion is productive. I don't mind there being pluses and minuses to stances, but the cost seems pretty high for meager benefits nowadays.
As of WoW 3.0, all DPS specs are supposed to be providing competitive DPS; this is one component of "bring the player, not the class." Overall I'd say this has turned out pretty well, although within class it still has some issues - almost every mage seems to be Frostfire right now, for instance, and Mutilate rogues are far and away out-damaging other rogue specs. To a certain extent this is probably by design; Subtlety's strengths in PvP, for instance, might make up for its lower raid DPS.
The more awake among you may have noticed that "Rogue" is not a spec. However, I'm reading that as "Combat (and possibly Subtlety) rogue," since the blues have said in a few other places that they're pretty happy with where Mut is right now and that Combat is underperforming.
Ghostcrawler goes on to say that changes are coming to these classes/specs, although of course we don't have specifics to share with you at this time. When we do, you know where to find us. But until then, what changes do you think would help even out the low DPS? And no, "reroll Death Knight" doesn't count (as much as I love mine).
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.
As Alex mentioned yesterday, he and I will be taking turns with the queue. So don't fret, Alex will be back in your loving graces tomorrow. As this is my first post for the queue, I feel like I'm boldly going where no man (Alex is a superman) has gone before. And who better to welcome me than John de Lancie's iconic Q character? With Picard oddly facepalming himself... huh. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come. Anyways, I digress. On with the Q!
"Is it possible to solo Zul'Durub to farm the mounts? If it makes a difference, I am a 10 Man Naxx geared Enhancement Shaman."
We also get some information on why downranking was removed ("The math problem was getting difficult and after many meetings we decided we could better spend our design time on more pressing issues"), discussion on what GC sees players concerned with ("Many players are worried about, e.g. whether their raid buff merits being invited to a raid, which has no PvP ramifications. Many players want to have more CC or CC breaks, which has very few PvE implications.") and there's a very interesting back and forth discussion of Recount and other damage/healing meters and their limitations as a predictative tool. All in all, it's a pretty illuminating thread on how Blizzard designs and interacts with the player base.
In this week's Guild, now up on MSN and Xbox Live (and Zune, if you're into that sort of thing), we get better acquainted with the stunt guy's *cough* buddy, who turns out to be named Riley, and is actually a gamer. Though not in the way you might expect. And Vork (last seen here -- you didn't forget about that sight, did you?) turns out to have a new skill, to Bladezz' disappointment.
Lots of fun. Do you think there really is a division among gamers like Riley and Codex? I'm a big fan of both genres, so I'd never have seen it, but do players of one type not get along with players of the other? We're all just gamers, right?
And we'll remind you, too, that there are only two episodes left this season. Only two more weeks of new episodes with Microsoft, and then in March, they'll start appearing back on YouTube again (pending another agreement, or whatever Felicia and those folks decide to do).
I'm not sure whether to call Warden of Eternity by Karash "high concept." It certainly fits some of the hallmarks of that idea, but I feel like the pacing might slightly miss the mark. However, in the very least, his epic machinima is firmly rooted in some of the most noble and recognizable lore offered by World of Warcraft. You should recognize Illidan and the dragon Aspects, in the very last. The movie was first created in Karash's native German, and it took him about a year to get subtitles created in English.
In my opinion, the "Warden of Eternity" is pretty dang well made. Its panning shots, use of characters, and chosen models are all strong. The voice actors did a good job. I actually really enjoyed the fact that it was in German, because that language really sounds right coming from dragons and epic characters. (Maybe it's the old Rammstein fan in me.)
I do, however, wish the pacing were a little faster. It drags on a tad. This gives you plenty of time to soak in the happenings and the scenery, but I don't need quite that much time. Overall, a very solid movie, and I hope Karash continues to make more.
Naxxramas optimization - Tue, 03 Feb 2009 11:30:00 EST Crygil posted an important announcement last night concerning the lag and associated performance issues in Naxxramas. Blizzard has made some recent optimizations to Naxx, and they want to know what all of our experiences are like in the instance this week. As such, they're asking everyone to post feedback in terms of performance in the thread over on the official forums.
Now by performance I don't think they mean "My pocket Paladin can't tank."
What they're looking for are detailed reports such as "When I was attempting to do the Heigan dance, my entire group lagged behind a good 5 to 10 seconds. We decided to go and raid Hogger after we wiped for six hours in a row." Or "The Ice Block appeared after Frost Breath when my guild was taking down Sapphiron because of the 30 second lag."
Matt Rossi wrote a great piece yesterday on the need for designing the fights around latency. Hopefully this will become less of an issue as Blizzard works out their backend mechanics; and it appears this change is a major step forward.
Our sister site Massively covers many different angles of the MMO universe - it's not all just World of Warcraft over there. Which is not to say we don't love WoW! Our weekly roundup will try to give you a look at the best WoW-related content on Massively from the last week. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed to follow our ongoing coverage of your favorite game.
Is World of Warcraft a religion? Just when you thought you had heard it all, MMO gamers are now being called religious zealots. According to Theo Zijderveld, a grad student at the University of Colorado, gamers who experience online worlds "like World of Warcraft and Second Life" are doing so to transcend their physical bodies and "realize a new identity in cyberspace".
Other hero classes were considered for World of Warcraft expansion The latest official podcast of World of Warcraft, BlizzCast Episode 7, features talk about a wide range of topics in the context of Wrath, but one thing that stands out is Brack's mention of hero classes, and the difficulty in narrowing down to one hero class for release from a pool of 29 hero classes that were complete.
The Lich King's casual decree: No geek left behind? Sean "Gamers with Jobs" Sands, a self-described casual gamer, claims that he and 10 million or so other casual gamers have achieved what competing MMORPGs have so far been unable to; they ruined World of Warcraft.
World of Warcraft makes up half of Activision/Blizzard's earnings What really makes their bottom-line work, though, is apparently the mightiest MMO on the planet. According to an analyst at the firm, World of Warcraft is backing a full half of the company's stock price. That is, above and beyond the actual revenue the game pulls down the game is responsible for $400 million of the company's share price.
Mythic announces the first live expansion to Warhammer Online! Massively.com recently had the chance to speak with Warhammer Online Executive Producer Jeff Hickman. Mr. Hickman laid out for us the much anticipated 'bombshell' news for their PvP-focused MMO: an entire expansion being released over the next few months as live events.
The saga of Daykin of <Plan B> on Arygos continues. When last we met, Daykin had been laid off from the Cenarion Circle and had taken a job directing visitors around Dalaran. But with even the Kirin Tor announcing layoffs on Sunday, Daykin has had to turn to ... darker pursuits. The Lich King is always hiring, after all. Daykin headed to the ramparts of Icecrown to meet with the master face to face. Using her druid storm-harnessing powers, she calls down the lightning and uses a Scourge bonfire to signal to Arthas that she's ready for her interview. What will happen next? Stay tuned!
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Last week we posted an epic license plate and asked for more, and you guys responded in force. We've added four new plates to our gallery, which you can browse below. My favorite is seen above -- Jeff N. actually took a picture of it at BlizzCon. It's not his car, but it is a pretty awesome plate.
The Hawaiians plate comes from Leialoha B., who gave the plate as a Christmas gift to her guildies in Hawaiians on Thaurissian, and the "MPG FTW" (which isn't really WoW-related, unless there's an "MPG" acronym we're not thinking of in the game ("Mana per gallon"?) comes from Angelo. More MPG for the win, indeed. And finally, the ZOMG LOL (also not necessarily WoW-related, but we'll accept it) plate comes from Joejohn, who saw it as he was driving around the other day in Washington, DC.
All awesome. If you've got another plate for us to add in, drop us a note with a picture and we'll get it included.
What? No regular long downtime for this week? That kind of... ruins my plans. I mean, the weekly maintenance usually means going out for coffee or a movie. Now that servers are actually going to stay up, the option to stay at home and play becomes available. For a lot of people, I think, this probably isn't even an issue. They'll be at work or in school, so the rolling restarts don't get in the way of any plans. Or do they?
While it's common for many players to do something outside of the game when it's server maintenance, I'm curious to know what happens when server maintenance doesn't happen or happens in the form of rolling restarts. Since Blizzard never announces too much in advance whether or not the maintenance will take a long time, some of us make plans for Tuesdays. What happens when servers don't go down? Do you take the unexpected uptime to catch up on some play time? Finish the Lunar FestivalAchievements, maybe? Run a couple of heroics? Or hey, maybe it's business as usual.
It's now been one week since patch 3.0.8a was deployed, and things are at least calmer around the game. Whether that's because the bugs were actually fixed or because people are just tired of complaining about them is a whole other issue. But at the least, this week will probably be another uneventful one. Of course, the Month of February itself will actually end up being a bit busy, as you can see in our February event roundup. Whether we'll add a 3.1 PTR to that list of events remains to be seen, but here's hoping.
Whatever else, there's not going to be much going on this morning. downtime is a set of simple rolling restarts starting at 5 AM Pacific. Proudmoore and Tichondrius players do have to suffer through an extra hour's downtime, though. Luckily, you have WoW Insider to browse while you wait. As usual, I've rounded up a list of some of the best stories and content from the past seven days after the break.
The restarts, they will be rolling - Mon, 02 Feb 2009 22:35:00 EST In game announcements have let us know there will be rolling restarts tomorrow morning. The restarts will happen at 5:00 a.m. PST / 8:00 a.m. EST. Each realm is usually down for only 15 minutes.
There will be additional realms that will be down for longer maintenance. Currently Tichondrius and Proudmoore are listed as needing to be down for an extra hour. Additional realms will eventually be listed on the official Service Status Forums, although nothing is up there just yet.
We'll update this post, and keep you updated throughout Tuesday morning if this turns into anything else other than just a restart.
According to the report, which was brought to our attention by Shawn Schuster of our sister site Massively, WoW earned over $500 million in 2008. We know that there's a substantial divide between WoW and the rest of the MMO market, and to drive the point home: WoW is the only game in the $500 million+ category.
DFC Intelligence will be releasing a more detailed analysis of the top MMOs on February 16th. Be sure to keep an eye out on Massively for coverage of the other games on the list, and we'll bring you the WoW information when it comes up.
Now, I do enjoy Naxxramas, especially in 25 man (the place feels very empty in 10 man) I have to admit that I despise certain fights, depending on how my connection is holding up. Some nights it's fine, and some nights I'm trying to do the Heigan dance with 1800 MS latency. I've wept, swore dire oaths, and of course died to a wave of green crap that was nowhere near me on my screen. It can be baffling because one day we'll be doing three drake Sarth and I dodge every lava wave and avoid all the void zones, and the next day I'm in stutter hell, no obvious reason for why it varied. And on fights like Thaddius, one person lagging can kill 10 in a second.
Over at The Many Relms of Relmstein, Relmstein discusses how Naxxramas was originally created to be the hardest of the hardcore 40 man raids and how what was then not as much an issue (namely, extreme latency causing issues) for the very few at the top is now somewhat more obvious. Since Blizzard designs raids to take buffs like Replenishment into account, should they go that one step further and assume there's going to be some latency? Some players report unusual latency in the raids that seems to have nothing to do with their internect connection (an issue that was supposed to be fixed in patch 3.0.8) so should lag just be considered a fact of life? And would we lose interesting mechanics (Relmstein himself mentions the Thaddius fight as one that would be hard to do with latency in mind) like the combined three drakes and their abilities?
Obviously I don't know, but I think a little thought placed into making lag less lethal for an entire raid would be a good thing, at least as long as it's out of the players hands like it seems to be now.
This is pretty silly, but we do have to give them credit: Bay Area NBC may have done a report on how incomprehensible our game's jargon is, but at least it's not a report about how WoW breaks up marriages or ruins the lives of children. But yeah, portraying WoW players as aliens with a foreign language all their own is a little far out -- the game's got jargon just like everything else, and what they don't do in this report, unfortunately, is show the etymology of all of these words ("QQ" means to cry because it looks like eyes crying, and "kek," as you know if you've ever been Alliance facing the Horde, is what "lol" translates into from Orcish). Not to mention that it's too bad she comes so close to the "I'm a girl, I don't get videogames" stereotype -- maybe if she sat down in the starting area for 20 minutes she'd know a little bit more about how it all works.
But maybe we're asking too much. Let's not forget that this is the media showing World of Warcraft played by a normal dude with a reporter girlfriend and a nice apartment. Sure, they're didn't spell "pwnz0r" quite right, and the guy isn't exactly "top 10 out of 12 million" -- he does have Ashes of Al'ar, but his guild is actually number 11 on the Greymane server -- but at least they're telling the story instead of trying to write it for us.