Blizzard has been rather vocal in the community lately, a nice change from the long bouts of silence that usually echoes in the official forums. In the Wrath of the Lich King forums, particularly, Blizzard has been wonderfully candid. One blue response addressed the apparent "bloat" in the new talent trees, a sentiment I've heard more than a few times, including from our readers.
Koraa says that bloat is another term for "I can't have everything I want" and that Blizzard actually intends to make every class tree feel a little "bloated", forcing players to make tough yet interesting decisions regarding the talents they take and, ultimately, the talents they sacrifice. I said as much in a response to one reader, noting that talents look so good now that it's hard to ignore a lot of them.
This is actually a good thing. This allows for creative gameplay and diversity in builds... although of course, with millions of players looking to min/max, I have no doubt that there will eventually be cookie-cutter specs. If anything, it might be what Blizzard is trying to avoid. It would indeed be refreshing to see a little less homogeniety in viable specs in the game. Looking at the Wrath talent trees, do you think that they're bloated? Are there too many good talents to pass up on? In this case, I think, a little bloat is perfectly fine.
You break it, you bought it - Wed, 06 Aug 2008 18:00:00 EST Larisa over at The Pink Pigtail Inn mused on an interesting question the other day: Should you pay for the wipes you cause? Her feeling is not only that you shouldn't, but that the mere fact of offering to pay is offensive to her, like offering hush-money or a bribe. Instead, she says, apologize quickly and confess what you did so that others can learn from your mistakes.
I agree with the idea of the mistake-maker apologizing and confessing immediately. This technique also works in real life situations. (I wish it was heeded more often in politics, too.) Further, I vigorously disapprove of ham-fisted reactions from over-zealous raid leaders or guild leaders. Overreacting by /gkicking people (as one of the commenters related) in normal guilds is completely ridiculous. (If you joined a guild who wants to make world's firsts or server-firsts, then you know what you're getting into.) If you are the raid leader then you need to take responsibility for the team you put on the floor. In life, work, politics, and gaming, the buck stops with leadership. Leaders need to pick the right team and remind people who they know are not as experienced or strong in the particular raid situation about tactics, strategy, and common mistakes. Or else they need to chill the heck out. In fact, from a certain point of view, it's not the person who caused the wipe who should pay repair bills: it's the raid leader.
Other commenters on Larisa's post offered different payment plan ideas. One suggested a tax on all the loot acquired in the raid. Another suggested that before the raid even begins, raiders should pay an ante to participate, thereby socializing the costs of what might happen. Of course, there is the ever-popular solution of letting the guild pay for repairs afterwards, too. But as another commenter pointed out, repair bills and buff flasks for a 25-man raid can run a guild nearly 400G per run. My feeling is that as long as everyone goes into the raid knowing those taxes are being imposed, it sounds like a fine idea. Or, realizing that mistakes are going to be made, even by the most experienced and savvy players, we could all act like we realize that raising gold is as much a part of the game as raiding, questing, or grinding, and suck up our own repair bills, regardless of who caused the wipe.
One animation called EmoteEat shows the bear bracing a piece of food against the ground with his paw while tearing off a chunk with his teeth, while another is a fishing animation where the bear looks to be pawing at the water, waiting to slap out a fish. The other exciting thing in the video is the possibility of a closed mouth on my bear! Do you know how many flies he's caught with that constantly open mouth of his?
I logged onto my Druid on the Beta servers to check on the status of the animations. While you can now eat, drink and use potions in Feral forms on Beta, there are still no animations associated with the act (You simply sit down while eating). In addition, you can't fish at all in Feral forms (Trying to cast my line put me back in Night Elf form).
Unfortunately, the fact that these animations haven't been implemented yet does lead me to a bit of pessimistic thought: They simply be meant for bear mobs, and not for Feral bears at all. Blizzard's been adding a lot of cool little idle animations to mobs, such as mama beasts who flush out critters for their cubs to chase and eat, so this may simply be one more set. Still, since they exist, they could easily be added on to the Feral bear's animation list in a future patch even if they aren't originally meant for Ferals. Here's hoping we see them there!
As we said last week, things like reputations and quests are easy to track -- other than dailies, you can't do the same quest twice, so it's easy for Blizzard to know, since day one, which quests you've done. And if a quest takes you to kill, say Onyxia, and you've completed it, then obviously you've got the achievement. Where it gets a little fuzzier is if you haven't done that quest, but you have killed Onyxia -- Blizzard probably doesn't even know yet if they'll do things like look for specific loot from certain bosses in a character's history, or if they'll extrapolate things even farther -- if you're Exalted with Hydraxian Waterlords, does that mean you've cleared MC?
But Tigole does say that Blizzard is making a conscious decision to be as inclusive as possible on these old achievements -- whenever they can, they'll reward credit rather than making you go back to redo old content. That's a good choice -- it does mean that a few people will get angry for not getting the achievement because they killed the boss but didn't do the quest, but the alternative, awarding no retroactive achievements at all, would be even more frustrating.
The latest announced changes for Death Knights are out, and this time, they seem to be mostly concerned with tanking. There's two major philosophies that Blizzard seems to following for Death Knights: First, any tree should be able to excel at tanking at least to the 5-man level, and Death Knight tanking should be at least somewhat interactive.
In that vein, they're introducing two revamped late tree tanking talents to the mix. In Frost, Unbreakable Armor will be a usable ability that costs 1 frost rune, but will only increase armor by 25% and Strength by 5%. In Blood, Vampiric Blood (previously mentioned in last week's Lichborne) will be a 1 blood rune ability that increases healing received from all sources by 50%. Both abilities will not trigger the GCD, will last 20 seconds, and will have a 2 minute cooldown. Blizzard aims to balance these 2 abilities with Bone Armor (which will have an internal cooldown of 3.5 seconds, like Shaman shields) to create 3 viable late tree tanking abilities.
Haven't been to Sunwell yet? Sure, you say it's that you don't have time to raid, or that maybe you just can't find a guild that vibes with you, or that raiding is pointless until the expansion releases. But we know the truth: deep down inside, you really do want to go, but you're just not good enough. Worry not, you noob: the good folks at SK Gaming (whom we've interviewed in the past) are here to let you experience the instance anyway. You may not have the healing prowess needed to stand up with the big boys, but they do and they're streaming the whole thing live over the internet, complete with commentary and two points of view.
The show starts at 2pm EDT tomorrow afternoon, and to see it, you've got to pick up Joost, which is a free download, for Windows or OS X. They're set to talk mostly, they say, about Warriors, Mages, and Paladins, as well as UI setups, and they're also planning to attempt a world record for DPS on Brutallus.
Should be fun to see, and if nothing else, you can pretend to be a raider. Take that, Brutallus! Have another Frostbolt!
Showing all questgivers on the minimap - Wed, 06 Aug 2008 14:00:00 EST Players have been asking for a way to track even their gray quests for a long time (in order to go back and do them for lore or reputation value), and now it looks like Blizzard is finally listening. Tigole says that in the next Wrath beta build, even gray quests will be trackable on the minimap, like normal quests are now. While a few players argued when the minimap first got updated that it would make the game way too easy, I've found (as I've been leveling my alt again lately) that it actually lets you focus on the important part of the game -- the quest text. Not poking around looking for those exclamation points keeps your mind on what's actually going on as you go back to a quest giver, and makes it more fun as you turn in the overdeveloped gizzard or whatever you're giving away.
So good news on this one for completists -- if you've been thinking about going back and hunting down all of the old quests, for reputation, for the new achievements, or just for the heck of it, you might as well wait until you can see them on the minimap.
Poking around on our front page for the latest and greatest in Wrath news not enough for you? Want an IV of all the news coming out the Wrath beta poked directly into your news-reading veins? Then look no further than our newly resdigned Wrath of the Lich King news page, found at wowinsider.com/wrath-of-the-lich-king. From now until launch, that's your number one stop for anything and everything Wrath related, including guides on what's going down in the beta, news about upcoming talent changes and updates for all classes, and what the Lich King himself has planned for us when we step across the threshold in Northrend. Read it, link to it on your own blogs, and, above all, enjoy it. Just like the horrendous undead/demonic melding of Nerz'hul and Arthas Menethil, it's waiting for you.
And if Ask a Beta Tester is more your style, our hardworking linkbunnies (actually, there's just one, and she's really nice) have hammered together this Ask a Beta Tester page as well, with a clear overview of everything our Beta Testers have been asked and answered so far. Want to know what races the NPCs of Dalaran are, or whether Stratholme has showed up in the expansion yet? Our Beta Testers have your answers, and you can see them all over there.
After watching Born again Ret, I'm still not sure that I understand some of the jokes, but apparently I'm the only one. Lakez has consistently received five stars on Warcraftmovies. His epic 47-minute storyline machinima is about a Holy Paladin that reluctantly specs Ret after a life-changing incident, but enjoys it so much that he doesn't want to tell his friends.
This movie is not just random. It's really random. There are about eight minutes of skits, five minutes of PvP, and the rest is part of the storyline. Although this is his second effort, he mentions that some of it was filmed before his first. I'm not sure if some of the blurry shots were intentional or as a result of taking it in a lower resolution many moons ago. Fans of this movie will have to wait quite a while for the sequel, though, as Lakez is supposedly out of town for a whopping two years!
Good morning, everyone! It's another day to answer your Wrath of the Lich King questions in Ask a Beta Tester. For as long as you have questions, we'll be here finding answers. In the image above, we see a Zeppelin leaving Orgrimmar heading for Northrend -- so let's go with them!
How well does healing gear transform into spell power gear? I want to know if my priest would be better served by holding onto epic items with high healing stats or by blue items that are +damage for grinding in Northrend. For example. Would a pair of pants that are +90 to have higher or lower spellpower than a pair of pants with +40 damage?
It is not a direct one to one conversion and some of the changes may be surprising -- or at least they surprised me.Let's look at a couple of examples from the gear my Priest is wearing right now. My usual healing pants, Whitemend Pants, on the live realms, have +62 healing. On the Beta realms, the same Whitemend Pants have +33 spell power. Alternately, my DPS pants, Trial-Fire Trousers, have +49 damage and healing on the live realms. On the beta realms, the Trial-Fire Trousers have +49 spell power. I've seen a similar pattern across the board -- healing numbers significantly reduced, with spell damage numbers staying about the same. I'm sure it will work out fine in the long-run, but when you first enter Wrath, you may find that your DPS gear gives you more overall healing power than your healing gear!
As several commenters have noted, though your healing numbers drop, your actual healing ability does not. I personally feel my heals are hitting somewhat harder on the beta realms than on the live realms, despite a huge drop (really, massive -- my beta +heal number is sort of depressing) in the healing number on my character sheet.
Holy moley, it's the skeleton of an Octorok! Or possibly Birdo finally realized how universally mocked he was and swam out to the bottom of the sea. Our submitter, beta tester Gormmad of Coldarra-EU, doesn't know the exact origins of this underwater skeleton (located just south of the Emerald Dragonshrine in the Dragonblight.) However, he believes that it's the second-biggest corpse in all the Dragonblight, coming in only second to the bones of meta-dragon Galakrond. I'm not in the beta, so I'll have to take Gormmad's word for it.
This image came to us straight from the Wrath of the Lich King beta -- and we'd love to have your beta screenshots, too! If you have anything our readers might like, beta or not, sharing it 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. We prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. And, please, no more sunsets! Unless it's a sunset over Arthas's grave.
Exploring Wrath as a Druid: A Feral Cat in Borean Tundra - Wed, 06 Aug 2008 09:00:00 EST I've been poking around Northrend the last few days with my Alliance druid and wanted to share some of my discoveries with other Druids wanting to know what to expect in Wrath. I started in on the quest lines in Borean Tundra, one of Wrath's two entry zones, so today's observations are centered on Cat Druid solo experiences. In the future I'll be soloing Howling Fjord in Balance spec and running instances in all four Druid specs, so I will save those observations until then.
If you have specific questions about Druids in Wrath, leave a reply on this post and I'll see what I can do about answering them. Remember, I'm not level 80 and I won't be raiding in beta, so try to keep your questions to areas I can play in potentially. First impressions, after the jump!
Breakfast topic: The calm before the storm - Wed, 06 Aug 2008 08:00:00 EST The expansion draws ever nearer, and many folks are working away at the last important bits of Burning Crusade content. We're looking to see Wrath by the end of this year. I've been spending a lot of time leveling alts to get ready for Wrath of the Lich king. I've noticed that this has been surprisingly easy compared to my previous leveling experiences. In the last week or so I've leveled my Warrior from 40 to 56 with very little resistance. I've probably only been ganked a total of ten or so times.
I remember the day that patch 2.3 was released.I got out of work atsix PM as was stoked to get home and try some of the glorious improvements.I had a 25 minute commute then, north on I-15 right past the Las Vegas Strip.Usually by six most of the traffic had cleared and it was pretty smooth sailing- except that day.Some genius decided that it was a good idea to reduce the four-lane freeway to one.My left leg aching from working the clutch and blood pressure rising from impatience and a bit of road rage, it took me about an hour and a half to get home.I should be used to pushback though; I play a caster in WoW.
Debigmacca of Aman'Thul believes that Wrath would be a good time to do away with spell pushback.His argument is based on the number of stuns, fears, and assorted other of immobilization effects that abound in the current state of the game.There was some agreement with the original poster that spell pushback is unnecessary as casters often quickly fall prey to melee DPS.There's only so much a trinket can do.
It's strange how just one little action or one little phrase can completely unravel a whole guild ingame. Of course, you could argue that guilds are ad hoc organizations anyway, and that it shouldn't be surprising that it doesn't take much to knock down a house of cards built only through text on a screen. But for a lot of people, their guildies are good friends and fellow players, and yet one misplaced phrase or piece of loot given out the wrong way can make those ties snap right apart.
There's plenty of that in this week's Guildwatch, along with better news (downings from around the realms), and your chance to get in on some of those weak ties (recruiting notices). Click the link below to see the 'Watch, and send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Because as weak as these ad hoc ties may be, they're still worth having.
How can we amuse ourselves while we wait for Wrath of the Lich King to come out? One word: geekcrafts. Sure, you could go to Jinx or CafePress and buy some stickers or T-shirts, but then again there's all that waiting, what with the shipping and everything. Plus, although somebody made it, they didn't make it. By which I mean, it wasn't crafted. So, you know, it's like a BoE item instead of an engineers-only item.
Am I making any sense yet? No? Hm. Okay. Let me try again. Idle hands are the devil's workshop, so pick up some art supplies and start learning a new hobby. By way of inspiration, take a look at some of these cool things other people have crafted from their love of WoW.
Talents like Grace in the new Discipline tree seem aimed at making Discipline priests very viable tank healers in Wrath, in addition to their current role as highly survivable in PvP. However, one of the problems inherent in the tree for a tank healer is that their shield based abilities, Reflective Shield and Divine Aegis, deprive tanks of rage and/or mana that they'd need for being healed. (Apparently it's also an issue for Runic Power for DK tanks.)
Redoubtable Blizzard poster Koraa comes to the rescue with words of reassurance: if rage/mana generation continues to be an issue with these spells (since they absorb damage and thus either prevent the tank from gaining rage via damage or mana via healing that damage) then there may well be changes to allow them to be less of a problem. We're warned that this would be a last resort fix, however.
I'd personally love it if a priest could shield me as I run in on a boss without being worried that I won't get enough initial rage to start generating threat. Perhaps (as some posters argue) the bosses will be hitting so fast that rage won't be an issue. We'll see what happens, of course, but the very idea of Power Word: Shield and its related talents not cheating me of my initial threat generation makes me giddy.
Kaplan reveals a stinky achievement - Tue, 05 Aug 2008 17:00:00 EST It was just a quick sentence that went by almost completely unnoticed, flew totally under the radar. But in an interview which WoW lead designer Jeff Kaplangave to WoW Vault, he mentioned a heretofore unknown achievement reward coming up in Wrath that will definitely pass the smell test.
Current Wrath beta testers may have been able to peruse the approximately 500 achievements in the current build, but Kaplan has indicated that by the final release there will be 600-700 achievements for players to attempt. One of these achievements, Kaplan said, can be acquired by collecting pets. It seems that if you collect all the available pets in the game -- and I'm not sure if he meant tameable pets or collectible/vanity pets or both -- you will be granted a unique pet in the form of a skunk called Stinker. For my two "scents," I do love me some cute vanity pets, but I'm really glad that WoW doesn't come in a scratch-n-sniff version or with smell-o-vision.
So now it's time for you to earn a WoW Insider achievement! Anyone under the age of thirty who can guess the name of the character in the picture will get this achievement: "Le kittee quel terriblay odeur!!"
There's a new splash screen on the WoW homepage, but instead of hinting at a new game, it is instead showing off Blizzard's new Recruit-a-Friend benefits. Looks like they found a place for that Zhevra mount we heard about a while back -- whenever you recruit a friend into the game (by convincing them to create an account with your name as a reference and having them pay for at least two months of game time), you can choose one of your characters to nab a Zhevra mount. Additionally, you can summon referred friends to your character, and when questing together, you can pick up triple experience until level 60, for both quests and monsters that you kill together.
More details on Blizzard's support page. Just yesterday, we heard Mike Morhaime saying Blizzard was aiming to bring tons of people into the game this holiday season, and it looks like the recruiting drive has started.