Planning for the Hallow's End title - Sun, 12 Oct 2008 18:00:00 EST A lot of folks found the article on planning for the Brewmaster title helpful, so we thought we'd put one together for the upcoming Hallow's End holiday as well. Getting all of the sub-Achievements for the Hallowed Be Thy Name Achievement will reward the title "The Hallowed," but frankly I think this one is going to be a little tougher than the Brewfest one. As with Brewfest, part of the Achievement is going to depend on getting very lucky with a drop, but it's also going to depend on getting lucky with a few other things.
This, however, is going to be the first holiday after patch 3.02 hits with the Achievement system firmly in place, so you'll be able to track Achievements ingame for the first time (by the way, "Y" is the default hotkey for pulling up your Achievement screen).
I said it before and I'll say it again. I'm not a huge fan of the new gimmicky mechanics of the new Dalaran and Orgrimmar Arenas. Blizzard highlighted these features in the PvP panel earlier today. There really isn't anything new, as most of these features were touted at the Worldwide Invitational, except that this time there are now textures for the maps.
I'll concur that the new dynamic elements add a bit of fun and another layer of strategy to Arena matches. That said, it also brings in an unnecessary factor of RNG. If Arenas are to be truly a barometer of professional and competitive play, it should have as little gimmick elements as possible. In Arena terms, it should be something uncomplicated like a boxing ring or martial arts mat. The new maps are more like American Gladiators or Takeshi's Castle. On the other hand, that kind of format has higher entertainment value.
The good news is that the best players will know the timing of the moving pillars, flames, and water spouts and use it to their advantage. The bad news is that those elements will save a lot of lesser skilled players' lives and sometimes break heals or worse, land accidental killing blows. Being at 1% health and dying to a flame spout while trying to get away from an opponent would suck big time, especially in pro competition.
There are those who like to buy Hello Kitty paraphernalia, decorate their bedroom with stuffed animals, or perhaps just smile at anyone they pass on the street. The Forsaken would eat those people for breakfast.
I see, dear readers, that I have caused some of you to recoil in horror at the very thought of such depravity. But to the Forsaken it is not uncommon to view other people as potential lunch -- the reason being that the Forsaken are not really "people" as such. They used to be people, they remember being people, and yet now they are not. Their bodies are decayed and some of their flesh is missing -- and yet they are doomed to walk this world under the curse of undeath, animated by evil magic rather than natural life energy, denied all those things that living people enjoy.
Consider for a moment the pleasures of the flesh: the rich taste of food in your mouth, the soft touch of the breeze in your hair, or the embrace of your dearest loved one. Consider also the feeling in your body when you rise to heights of anger or fear, joy or sadness. Now imagine if all those were taken away -- you may still eat, but your meals no longer taste good or bad; the breeze simply disturbs the stiff remains of hair on your head; and the embrace of your loved one would feel like the touch of wax upon wax, if anyone could love you enough to touch you anymore. You don't even feel that love in your heart anymore -- no feeling, no matter how passionate, can make it beat even once more. The feelings you used to live with every day are merely ideas now, reminders of a time when you lived in the body that now traps you in its cold and dark materials.
If you were thus afflicted, could you maintain any sense of compassion?
Ready Checkis a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, ZA or Sunwell Plateau, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. While enjoying sparkly new raid buffs...
Once the upcoming content patch hits, our raids are going to look pretty different. Or are they? Currently, balancing your raid is a delicate game that involves weighing up various gains and tradeoffs, while simultaenously placating people who are all competing for the same spots. While this micromanagement doesn't appeal to everyone, looking at a raid and acknowledging it as a feat of min-max perfection does bring a certain warm glow to one's heart.
Of course, knowing the exact DPS increase from putting a feral druid in the melee group or running perl scripts to calculate a retribution paladin's RDPS contribution is considered overkill by many. Perhaps it's with a sigh of relief that we look forward to 3.0.2's new buff system, where such things will be unnecessary - though I think the logicians among us will always look back slightly wistfully at the way things are now.
So, how do you optimise your raid when the patch hits?
I have to confess that I haven't spent as much time in Lake Wintergrasp as I thought I would. Even when we got premade Level 80s to fiddle around with in the Wrath Beta, I ended up spending very little time in the zone because it was simply too confusing. It didn't help that every build wiped your talent points, so I'd end up logging in to a crossfire without any abilities on my hotbars. In general, my Beta experience with what still promises to be my favorite zone of all time was rather unfulfilling.
The good news is that there's a lot of work being done on the zone and the siege vehicles and buildings do a nice job of blowing up. I also appreciate the return of my favorite guys from Alterac Valley, like my Pusoy Dos buddy Lieutenant Murp. In general, though, Lake Wintergrasp needs a lot of breadcrumb quests and hand-holding just for people to get the basics. Blizzard has big plans for the zone, and they detailed a lot of those in yesterday's PvP panel.
The zone is massive. In the Beta, there were areas that felt somewhat abandoned and felt empty. This is certain to happen in live realms, as there are off-hours of play. But Blizzard's aim is clear: they want this place to be all combat all the time, with hundreds of players bombing, killing, attacking and defending. In fact, they prepared their servers to handle such a load. If this happens -- and by the Light, I hope it will -- and hundreds of players do fill the zone for unadulterated combat, I'm going to have one hell of a good time.
I ran into two common questions last night on the Dalaran coin post, so I thought I'd start off by answering those here. I apologize if we haven't yet gotten to everyone's questions; most of them, like Gurluas' question concerning The Missing Diplomat and the high elves in Northrend, we're just not 100% sure of the answer to yet, but I'll keep trying.
Just curious...the gold coins all have "Use: Throw this coin back into the Dalaran fountain", yet I've seen people commenting (as well as the author) that they'll carry the coin in their packs. What happens when/if you throw the coin back in?
When you toss a gold coin back into the fountain, you gain the "Lucky" buff for 2 minutes, increasing your chance to fish up any and all coins from the fountain (rather than fishing hooks or goldfish). You don't have to toss them back in if you don't want to, in which case they'll just occupy a bag slot like anything else, or you can sell them to a vendor (not for much). But most people throw the coin/s back in because fishing the coin up is enough to give you the Achievement for getting it. Particular coins would be carried solely for personal or sentimental reasons, i.e. I can definitely appreciate the irony and RP value of grimly hunting Arthas down like a dog while carrying a symbol of Sylvanas' wasted hopes.
Question though, do we have to keep the coins for the achievement or does it count when we throw it back in?
It counts as of the moment you've fished it up. No matter what you do with it afterwards, the Achievement's yours. The same mechanic is true of everything else; once the game "knows" you've done something and an Achievement's gained, nothing can take it away.
Sunday Morning Funnies: Mistell - Sun, 12 Oct 2008 11:00:00 EST It's Sunday again, with Hallow's End a mere one week away! With our BlizzCon team dropping news left, right and center, there's plenty to do until the festivities begin, but for those who need their comic fix, the home team has you covered. Noobs
Over the Hedge presents a WoW-related comic. Thanks to Keyra for the tip!
Muahaha! Irial, a blood elf rogue from Khadgar-EU, writes in that he's discovered the perfect spot from which to perform his evil deeds. Will he be stealing from orphans? Conjuring up demons from the Burning Legion? Fishing for gnomes to feed to the orcas of Northrend? No! His wicked plot is to ... throw leather balls at people? What the hell? The standards for evil plans have really gone downhill lately. I suppose his next action is going to involve ordering a pizza for delivery and then only tipping 10 percent.
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. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards.
Daniel Howell contributes BigRedKitty, a column with strategies, tips and tricks for and about the Hunter class, sprinkled with a healthy dose of completely improper, sometimes libelous, personal commentary.
From: The Big Bossman at WoW Insider
To: The WoW Insider peons
Subject: Get to work!
Write a post on each of your class's trees, or you're fired. Fired with extreme prejudice!
Dan O., aka The Punisher
Holy crap, we're in trouble now. Why? Because not only do we have to write about Beast Mastery, Marksmanship, and Survival, but we've now we've got pet talent trees too: Tenacity, Cunning, and Ferocity! Six talent trees, are you kidding us?
So BlizzCon's over. It was a packed two-day affair, with some real treats to come out of the convention, but the general consensus seems to be that there simply wasn't that bombshell announcement that people -- perhaps unreasonably -- expected. Sure, StarCraft coming out as three separate games, with one epic campaign for each race, was probably huge, but other than that there was very little news. Specially World of Warcraft-related news. The announcement of a new class, the Wizard, was for another game.
So what were you expecting that didn't come out of this year's BlizzCon? I was secretly hoping to hear World of StarCraft as the next-gen MMO, but Blizzard dropped hints that it might be a brand new property entirely. Some of us were expecting the Emerald Dream to be announced as the next expansion, but Blizzard said it could even be a Caverns of Time-style time traveling expansion. If anything, this BlizzCon left us with more questions than answers. What announcement did you think was missing?
Alright, I know what you're thinking. That's it? No announcements? No big bombshell revelation at BlizzCon? The biggest thing to come out from those two days was the announcement that StarCraft would come out as three separate games. Yep, that's not even World of Warcraft-related. What gives? Well, let's put it this way: we've got one huge game coming up this November, another -- or three -- coming out when "it's ready(R)", and the long-awaited Diablo III in development. Do we really need more games? Blizzard might actually be doing us a favor by giving us enough breaks to do some real world stuff. Like eat or shower. If you missed Day 2, here's the quick lowdown:
All of us over here at WoW Insider have always enjoyed the independently-produced web series The Guild. So when we heard they were going to be at BlizzCon, we jumped at the chance to interview them. Check out Mike's little tete-a-tete with the cast of the show.
First up for the day was my favorite panel, the PvP discussion, which Mike liveblogged for us. The developers talked about the new Arena maps, Battlegrounds, and what lay ahead for World of Warcraft PvP.
Adam walked away a little grumpy from liveblogging the Dungeons & Raids panel because one of Blizzard's promises was to never field another dungeon as retardedly difficult as Sunwell Plateau. And you guys know Adam, he always likes his raiding hardcore!
It's hard to be grumpy after watching the BlizzCon '08 Dance Contest, though. From the opening clip of a guy shamelessly mimicking an ogre to the girl doing the female draenei dance in 5-inch stilettos, it really brings an embarrassing smile to your face.
Here's a secret gem from BlizzCon from our sister site, Big Download: The DVD Production panel. The DVD Production team, despite the name, actually oversees most of the video produced by or at Blizzard. That means that they had a hand in the South Park episode "Make Love Not Warcraft," as well as the "What's your Game" and "Lawgiver" commercials.
They also work on the gameplay trailers from World of Warcraft, and walked us through the creative process for the patch 2.1 Black Temple trailer, revealing some interesting lore behind Akama's betrayal. Finally, they revealed that they were the force behind the Wrath Gate cinematic. It's no wonder they were able to make such an epic cut scene though: One of their team members was a member of Rufus Cubed Productions, the creations of the epic machinima Return.
There's some other nice information from the panel, including the real identity of the villain from "Make Love Not Warcraft" and a preview of the lore of Diablo 3. Be sure to go check it out at Big Download!
During the Q&A Panel at BlizzCon, Blizzard surprised the audience by responding obtusely to the question of when mounts will be usable in dungeons. One of the most annoying things in the game is probably those times when you're trying to cross a stream or something, only to get dismounted and have to summon your mount again after you cross. Well, Ghostcrawler Tigole -- in a BlizzCon exclusive -- says that will soon be a thing of the past. All ground mounts will be usable in water in the first patch following Wrath of the Lich King. It took us a bit to confirm this because, well, it sounded like a joke. You all know how Blizzard loves to kid around.
This probably means you'll be able to submerge with your mount. In one of the older patches in The Burning Crusade, flying mounts were adjusted so that you are no longer dismounted when coming into contact with water. That also made it impossible to dive into the water without manually dismounting from your flying mount. A different behavior will probably happen for ground mounts. Thanks to the change, we can happily cross this off the list of annoying things in the game.
I'm serious. This completely nonsensible and illogical statement is brought to you by the 53 tiny lore moments you'll get if you'll just sit yourself down somewhere and level up fishing. Yes, it's boring having to fish up dozens of useless fish to get to the good stuff in Outland and Northrend. Yes, you could be farming up gold or materials that will help you level in Wrath. I don't care. Go fish.
You see, while you'll be fishing up a lot of equally useless fish in the Dalaran fountain, you'll also get coins. No, not in the sense that you'll be fishing up ingame money, but you'll fish up coins tossed into the fountain of this very old city by 53 people, many of whom will be known to you if you've played the game for any length of time. Some of them, perhaps most of them, are funny. Some are serious. Some are heartbreaking. I admit to a touch of being a lore geek, and it was wonderful being allowed a peek into the irreverent or hopeful or sad heads of Jaina Proudmoore, Thrall, or Stalvan Mistmantle. It is idiosyncratic little touches like this that make WoW hopelessly fun to play, and it is my fondest wish that whatever person at Blizzard who thought this up is pulled off whatever they're doing right now and chained to a desk until they come up with more stuff like this.
So, if you don't do anything else with your time between patch 3.02 hitting and Wrath going live...level up fishing so you can fish in the Dalaran fountain. But don't read any further if you're not interested in Wrath spoilers, because there are a few here...
Diablo III, Rock 'n' Roll Racing, and The Lost Vikings 2. What do all of these things have in common? They're all made by Blizzard, and they're all playable on the floor of BlizzCon 2008. The last two, however, are hidden in the Retro Arcade area, where Blizzard has set up all of the old games from their past for visitors to experience and play. It's not a complete display (no Starcraft 64, and Justice League Task Forcewould have been fun to play), but there are a lot of great titles in there anyway. It's too bad I've got to play Starcraft II for a hands-on later today -- I'd kind of rather go play the original again. But that's not a bad problem to have.
Check out our gallery of the retro arcade, and revisit some old Blizzard favorites.
Each week Arcane Brilliance patches itself with new Mage content. These weekly patches are always full of buffs, and never any nerfs. They never contain any changes made for the sake of class balance. There are no bug fixes; because Arcane Brilliance has no bugs (or at least no bugs that can't be retroactively called "features"). This week, the patch notes read as follows:
New spell: Polymorph: Corpse - 1% of base mana, instant cast, 50 yard range, transforms the target into a corpse, making it dead. While dead, the corpse cannot attack or cast spells. Lasts however long it takes for the target's ghost to run back to their corpse.
Mages can now equip plate armor.
Mana no longer goes down when casting, it instead goes up.
Next week, I'll complain about this patch. It's totally not powerful enough. Also, Warlocks are OP.
All signs point to this coming Tuesday being the day patch 3.0.2 arrives and turns the game on its head. Up will be down, left will be right, dogs and cats will live together, mass hysteria will ensue. We need to prepare for this coming insanity, if only so that we're able to give snarky answers to the many questions that will pop up in trade chat after we all log back in. I expect lots of "LOL WUT HAPPEN TO MY TALENTS?" and the occasional "I used my mount and it disappeared! Bug?"
This week will be the first of two columns in which we'll go over the changes most important to Mages that we can expect come Tuesday. We'll begin with general changes, and move on to the altered trainable spells. The second part will appear Monday, and will cover the three talent trees and review the many changes we'll find there. Jump on past the break and we'll get started.
Our folks on the floor of BlizzCon have said a fire alarm has gone off, and they're asking everyone to leave the convention. We can't get inside to verify, obviously, but people are streaming out of the front of the hall. Currently, things in the press room here are unchanged, and we haven't heard anything officially yet.
More as we learn it. Update: We were heading into the hall, and saw an alarm go off. The guards at the doors started turning people away, and when we asked what was up, we were told it was a fire alarm and that we should exit the building. There's still no action in the press room (and they haven't interrupted the class panel on the floor), so it's likely a false alarm.
Update2: Whoops, the class panel is being held upstairs, not on the convention floor. We just sent our man Adam Holisky down to see what the ruckus is all about and get the inside story. It's good having bloggers to boss around, and nice to know they'll even walk into possible injury to do what we say.
Update3: A security guard told Holisky that somebody tripped something they weren't supposed to, and they are now letting people back onto the floor. Crisis.. averted!
It's not the flashiest place at BlizzCon -- until you step inside. While the gameplay demo areas and the developer panels have claimed most of the attention here at the convention, there are a few hidden treasures inside the booths, one of which is the Blizzard art gallery. The art inside spans across all of Blizzard's games, and though their games are beautiful, the art used in designing them is even moreso.
Check out the gallery below to see what's in BlizzCon's art gallery -- from the Barbarian brutes of Diablo to the frozen tundra of Northrend and the starscapes of Starcraft, here is Blizzard's creativity and design mastery put into form on the wall. Whether it's concept art, quick sketches or full paintings, it's really amazing stuff.
I know what you're thinking. "Didn't we have a class panel yesterday?" Well, of course we did, but as exciting as it was we had to come back for a second helping. We're live on the BlizzCon show floor, bringing you the latest class news and information straight from the developers' mouths and starting... right now! For the details as they happen, read on.
Selective Queuers got the match-up they wished for. Sort of. When asked in a post-match interview who they wanted to fight next after beating Korea's Council of Mages, the trio said they were looking forward to a rematch with Nihilum Plasma and hopefully set up an all-American Grand Finals. The rematch was granted, but not in the way the team expected as Nihilum upset the favored Fnatic Orz, leaving the two American teams to fight for a slot in the Grand Finals.
The celebrated team of Hafu, Glick, and Rhaegyn were outclassed, outmatched, and eventually upset in well-played mirror matches between two of the best WLD (Warrior, Warlock, Druid) teams in the world. Many observers noted that the intense pressure on the Druids exposed Hafu's weakness as she needed more peeling from her teammates than Wojo from Selective Queuers. This allowed Wojo's teammates to be more on the offensive and make easier target swaps throughout the match. Although Glick and Rhaegyn are arguably the best peelers in the game, being on the defensive for most of the matches resulted in the North American champions getting ousted from the tournament 3 matches to 2.
Their win over Fnatic Orz sent Selective Queuers Itsmecasper (aka Gumbot), Yogz, and Wojo up against Inflame, Carekoala, and Paperkat of Nihilum Plasma in the Grand Finals for a Europe vs. America showdown. Both teams played their expected comps of WLD but Selective Queuers had their work cut out for them as they needed to beat Nihilum in two series. Unfortunately, despite going up 2-0 with aggressive play, Nihilum found their groove and played flawlessly to win three matches in a row and take home $75,000, the biggest pot in the history of professional Arena competition.
In an exhibition match, the newly crowned Champions showed their dominance as they beat China's top team World Elite, who ran an RMP (Rogue, Mage, Priest) comp through three matches. In a bit of showmanship and flair, Nihilum toyed with World Elite using three different comps, including double warrior cleave. The Chinese team never posed a threat to the champions, owing perhaps to lack of professional gaming experience on the world stage. A later exhibition match will pit Nihilum against Blizzard employees.