The9 has been the target of persistent rumors over the last few months that they're on the verge of losing their license from Blizzard to operate World of Warcraft in China. First, we heard about their financial troubles, and then came rumors that Blizzard was going to ditch them. And now we've got WorldofWar.net reporting a rumor that Netease will be the company to take over the reins there. It makes sense -- Netease has been growing a lot during their history, and they successfully operate Fantasy Westward Journey, an MMO with a US value of $761 million, with 400,000 average concurrent users. They're already supposed to take over Blizzard's Warcraft III and Starcraft II in China, so Blizzard will actually be consolidating their properties.
The rumor supposedly comes from a leaked internal memo to The9 employees, which says that an unnamed company (supposedly Netease) is trying to pick up the rights and hardware for the game for a cool $22 million. The9 reportedly paid $73 million for the same capability, so they're losing twice on the deal -- both the license and the money they spent on it.
Not good news for The9 if it all turns out to be true, but maybe this means Chinese players will get their expansions a little sooner. Of course, a lot goes into releasing new content overseas (translation is definitely not a small part of it), but having a more capable operator probably won't hurt.
The Armory has been updated to reflect the new dual spec feature given to us by patch 3.1. It now shows both talent specs for characters that have bought dual spec, and shows equipped glyphs on the talent view.
There's also been a bit of a facelift overall, with new buttons for the various sections of a character's profile, and some achievement statistics shown on the main profile page. The "Last Updated" date is a nice touch, although recently I find the Armory usually contains fairly fresh info [edit: apparently this is not a new feature].
I was having some display problems, but it turns out that disabling Adblock Plus on Armory fixed it, so if anyone else is seeing elements display in the wrong places, try that. And yes, I am enjoying playing with Shadow, thanks. Quite a bit, actually.
Most of my mods are working pretty well in patch 3.1, even if it's no longer as easy to update them. However, there is one bug that bit me that seems to be widespread enough to be worth a mention: various types of messages not showing up in the chat frame. This includes outgoing and (sometimes) incoming whispers, guild member alerts, and notifications of discovering new recipes (the last one I find particularly irritating, since it leaves you unaware of what you've just discovered if you use a Research recipe).
At first, I thought the bug was probably Prat's fault, since Prat is the most chat-oriented mod I'm using. However, after taking a look at my Lua errors, I traced it down to CraftyGnome, which I have disabled for the time being. I've heard of this error being caused by a few mods, though, so if you're running any of:
An old version of Deadly Boss Mods
Try turning them off (or updating, in the case of DBM) and see if that fixes the problem. And if you've found any other mods that you have verified as causing this issue, let me know and I'll add them to the list.
Servers are still getting stabilized, players are reporting bugs left and right, and in general, it's the day after patchmas. So it's not too surprising that we're seeing some hotfixes. So far, here's what Blizz have let us know about:
XT-002 Deconstructor's heart aggro radius lowered to 60 yards.
Trash before XT-002 Deconstructor disabled temporarily, because there was a problem with them being linked.
Shattering a Construct during the Ignis the Furnace Master encounter will now decrease the number of Strength of the Creator stack buffs he has by one.
The last point is the most significant. The stated reasoning is that destruction is too bursty in PvP, which seems to have been the reasoning for half of the changes we've seen in WotLK. I hear this nerf was not unexpected - Warlocks, how do you feel about it? Was this change deserved?
I've been holding off on leveling up my cooking until 3.1 in the hopes that the tweaks Blizzard was making would give me an easier go of it, but I probably shouldn't have bothered waiting. While they have given us a few more recipes that stay green later, that's pretty much all we got. Anyone expecting more yellow recipes or even (gasp) orange to get the skill points rolling faster will be sorely disappointed. I cooked some of those Salmon you see above, and got a pretty good rate of about one point for every three cooks (which is normal for green on any profession), but 420-450 is still a slightly uphill battle.
The good news is that you no longer need flint and tinder (though if, like me, you bought a Gnomish Army Knife, you didn't have to worry about that anyway), and you should make sure to stop and talk to the cooking trainer next time you run the daily, as they'll now teach you the Black Jelly recipe. And of course that ugly Chef's Hat is in the game -- I considered it for a moment, but at 100 Dalaran Cooking awards, you're going to be doing at least a few weeks of grinding just to wear that hat. Still, if people will fish up the turtle mount, I guess there's no end to what they'll chase in game.
Update: We're also told the level required for the cooking dailies may have been raised to 80 -- one tipster says one faction can do them and the other can't. May be a bug -- we'll keep an eye out on this one.
Reminder: Win WoW Insider's stuff! - Wed, 15 Apr 2009 15:00:00 EST Dear readers, you've probably noticed that WoW Insider is downright eager to give you guys free things the last few weeks. To give everyone the best possible chance of winning, here's a reminder for our two current, ongoing contests for those that may have missed them.
Your window of opportunity is closing quickly if you want to enter our Arthas: Rise of the Lich King giveaway. It's 3:00 PM Eastern as of this posting, and that contest ends at 6:00 PM Eastern. That's three hours! Head over there and throw your name into the ring!
Our Fan Art contest is still ongoing, and you only have until Monday night to enter that. Remember. creativity is more important to our judges than anything else, so even if you think you're a bad artist, you probably have a chance to win if you can make us laugh!
Remember to go through the official rules for each contest (linked on their pages) before entering, and note which regions are able to enter. Good luck to everyone who participates!
While on a Sartharion 25 raid this past weekend, I noticed one of the other Rogues in the group moving very peculiarly. It took me a second to put my finger on it, but I figured out what was happening. He would be running around normally, and would then stop in place for two seconds every time he used Fan of Knives. I sent him a friendly whisper, asking why he was pausing when using Fan of Knives. He replied back that he had to stop moving and click the FoK button on his action bars, of course. I asked why he didn't simply bind FoK to a key for easier access, and he replied with "My 1-9 keys are already full!"
Many Rogues spend hours choosing between different gems and weapon choices, when often the difference is less than 1% of their DPS. I see the control aspects of the class as more important than gear choices (not that gear is unimportant!). Without the ability to perform your rotations and combinations with finely-tuned timing, you could be losing as much as 25% DPS on certain fights. Making proper use of key binds and user interface addons are crucial to maximizing your DPS and reaction times in PvP.
We're not out of the woods with this patch yet. I'm seeing this message on a North American realm, and lots of other people are seeing the same thing. At least one of our bloggers is still in the game, though, and Blizzard is saying the Authentication servers are still up and running, so this should be fixed soon.
We'll keep you updated, stay tuned.
Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
Update:A login server died. If you try signing in with a Bnet account, you should be able to get in. Otherwise, everybody PANIC hold on and they'll be back up soon.
Update 2: Everything seems back up. That was relatively painless. Thanks for playing, everybody!
Well goodness gracious me! We had nearly eighteen hundred comments for this morning's EU loot card giveaway! Not bad eh? Well we /rolled and came up with three lucky winners who will be receiving an email from me shortly!
So, without further a do, /drumroll. The lucky winners are:
Rugus, who gets the adorable Sandbox Tiger, Finezze (who from his post was dying to be the centre of attention) gets the Epic Purple Shirt and, finally, Elenac, who will be able to challenge her friends to duels with the Foam Sword Rack.
Congratulations to all and thanks to everyone who entered.
At this rate, Demachic's gonna give me a complex. I now know far too much about the current happenings of Britney Spears. My knowledge of Britney music has quickly become my dark, secret shame. The kind of shame you keep quiet, tied up and gagged under the bed, where polite company needn't see it as they come by to visit. Which is a roundabout way of saying Demachic is back with another Britney Belf music video -- Circus.
This video is as astoundingly well done as Demachic's other Britney offernings. I suggest watching the WoW version first, before going back to see the Britney version. I have to admit that I think Demachic did a better job of characterizing the music. I do think that the blood elf model chosen by Demachic is a great representation for Britney, and operates in the confine of the video very, very well.
I particularly like the glamorous circus Demachic built for this video. It would have been an easy cop-out to simply use the Darkmoon Faire as a setting for the "Circus" video. Instead, she built the entire set piece by piece, to emulate the actual circus environment from the Britney original. It must have been a painstaking effort, and one that paid off for her.
When male Draenei logged on last night, they were greeted with some serious facial hair. No one is sure exactly what's happened, and the only blue response is a reply asking for folks to post if they're having the issue.
Now what I have to say next is the important part.
Who has the best 'stache pictured above?
To the left we have the timeless hunk of man meat Burt Reynolds, in the middle we have Virtual Sacco, and on the right sits the anchorman himself, Ron Burgundy. Vote and be heard! The results of the poll will matter more than you could ever know...
We can leave your friends behind. Which is exactly what Firael and Rollack of <Knee Deep in Blood> on Antonidas did during Heigan in Naxx. When eight of their ten raiders wiped on the first dance, the tank and healer decided to see if they could down the boss alone. And sixty-two minutes later, Heigan hit the floor. I wonder if there's an achievement for that ... or if anyone else was still at the computer to collect the loot?
Do you have any unusual, beautiful or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
In the second of our two exlusive interviews, we sat down with Dan Jolley, the writer behind TOKYOPOP's latest Warcraft manga, Warcraft: Death Knight, which is due out later this year. You can also read our interview with TOKYOPOP Series Editor Troy Lewter here.
WoW Insider: How did you get involved with the Warcraft manga?
Dan Jolley: I've been writing for TOKYOPOP for a number of years now, and when I heard they were going to do Warcraft manga, I called them up and basically did the long-distance, over-the-phone equivalent of jumping up and down and holding my breath until they agreed to let me write some of them. (Tantrums aside, I think I'm also a bigger Warcraft geek than anybody else there, so that was another factor in my favor.) Did you have particular plots in mind for 'How to Win Friends' and 'Miles to Go' when you were first approached?
I actually turned in quite a few story ideas - just one-paragraph pitches - for Blizzard to choose from. Lucky for me, they liked several, and 'How to Win Friends,' 'Miles to Go' and 'Crusader's Blood' were among them. There was another one involving Booty Bay and some goblins, and that one didn't make it through, much to my chagrin. But I do have another short story coming up that centers on the Bloodsail Buccaneers, so that sort of makes up for the goblin loss.
It's been a long old twenty four hours but the US servers have had Patch 3.1 running life for a little while now. I can just imagine the thousands of people swamping Ulduar, the Argent Tournament and every class trainer from Azuremyst to Thunderbluff will be stood on by thousands of toons trying to dual spec.
Now over the last few weeks Breakfast Topic has been, quite understandably, a little Patch 3.1-heavy. We've asked about your most anticipated feature, whether your guild is ready and where your toon will be when the realms restart (just in case you were wondering, Serisa is waiting outside Ulduar to see if the above happens on live as well).
So if you're lucky, you've had a few hours to poke around and take a look, I want to know what your impressions are of The Secrets of Ulduar now that it's gone live?
Folks have been reporting extended maintenance and so we're now looking at 3pm CET. All we need to do now is cross our digits that Blizzard managed to fix whatever was ailing the US realms before starting to roll out 3.1 on our severs.
Needless to say. I'll be keeping you guys in the loop should things change.
Hopefully we should have a smoother ride of it but I'll be keeping you updated nevertheless.
UPDATE: As of 3pm CET, the realms are slowly starting to come back up. Some of the most popular ones - Vek'nilash amongst them - keep going offline, probably due to being hammered by players trying to login. Hang on in there.
Hey, European players, psst! I know it's the crack of dawn and to make things even worse it's patch day! Pretty miserable, huh? Well, I have something that might cheer you up! Upper Deck International here in the UK have given WoW Insider a set of shiny, brand spanking new loot cards from the Blood of Gladiators expansion set, which is available right now, just in case you didn't know.
And we're giving them away to you, loyal EU readers. All you need to do is leave a comment in this post before 5PM GMT (6PM CET) today, April 15, 2009. We will then randomly choose which of our three lucky readers will win one card each. Be sure to comment with an e-mail address you check often and have easy access to, because that's how we will be contacting our chosen winners with the codes.
The only caveat is you MUST have a European WoW account or the cards won't work (sorry to our American brethren) so please make sure before you enter, okay? Also, you can only enter once. Good luck to all who participate!
Thanks to Tom at Upper Deck International's UK office for the codes.
UPDATE: The competition is now closed! We'll be announcing the winners at 7pm CET/1pm EST!
Extended maintenance for Patch 3.1: the European edition - Wed, 15 Apr 2009 03:00:00 EST When I first had a chat with the Big Giant Heads who run WoW Insider and Massively, they were under the impression that I dwell in the future. Sadly not, even if I am on GMT. I had to explain that, no, we don't get patches before North America but rather we have to wait an extra day to enjoy all the new patch goodness.
So it's Wednesday morning in the UK and guess what? Yes we have extended maintenance on all European realms. Hmm, what could this mean? Ah yes, could it be, 3.1.
So all realms, the Armoury, Account Management and the Blizzard Store will be down from 3am until 11am (CET).
Fortunately, there's plenty to be doing while you wait. Personally, I will have the official trailer on repeat. For your convenience you can see it below, and while I agree with Alex that Jaina looks different, I actually prefer her in the trailer! The new character animations look amazing and she in particular finally looks human.
While I make no secrets that I play Alliance, I have to side with the Horde on this one (sorry Daniel)! Varian Wrynn is just becoming xenophobic and paranoid which is not doing any good for Alliance-Horde relations. Indeed I can smell a buildup of testosterone that is bound to come to a head in 3.2 or 3.3 and I can't wait! It is, after all, the World of Warcraft, it's about time the factions remembered they hate each other even if I live in hope that Thrall might eventually hook up with Jaina.
The Zug Initiative on Kael'thas turned two a little while ago, and to celebrate, their guildie Pacheco made these adorable cupcakes. The Horde symbols are red fondant, the Hearthstones are white chocolate (which sounds way too tasty), and of course the other ones say "Zug Zug." Very awesome. The guild had a little local gathering to celebrate, and we're sure these things were enjoyed. Congrats on two years!
Lots more guild news about all of the drama, downed, and recruiting news from around the realm's in this week's Guildwatch (a little late, but given that it's Patch Day, you're probably used to delays by now, right?). To send us your guild information, drop a note to email@example.com. Click on to read on!
15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Last week, Mike Schramm introduced Abotu (Emerald Dream-US) and his to-die-for custom Troll Rogue action figure. Abotu has been sculpting custom figures as long as he can remember. "When I was little, if there was a toy I wanted that I didn't have, I'd try to make it myself out of modeling clay or construction paper," he remembers. He's done exactly that here by creating Abotu, his own World of Warcraft figure - puts Figureprints to shame, doesn't it?
15 Minutes of Fame visited with Aboto this week, not only to find out more about the player behind the talent but also to get inside scoop on exactly what went into making his Abotu custom. Our two-part look at Abotu the sculptor, the making of Abotu the action figure, plus photo galleries of the Abotu figure and other creations from this talented player ... after the break.
Current Realm Status: Up - Tue, 14 Apr 2009 20:48:00 EST Please see the updated information at the end of the post for the latest news.
Realms have been down today since 3:00 a.m. PDT / 6:00 a.m. EDT. A few realms were up for a short time earlier this afternoon after the maintenance was extended, however they were promptly brought back down.
There is no indication as to what problems Blizzard has encountered. While the official forums and account management are often offline right now, WoW Insider has a few sources where we are getting our information from and we'll keep you updated with the very latest.
Don't forget to check out WoW Insider's Guide to Patch 3.1 for all our patch information, and stay tuned throughout the evening for updates! Update 9:30 p.m. EDT: Current announcements indicate that most realms are up and available for play, and those that are not will be available by 10:00 p.m. EDT / 7:00 p.m. PDT. Enjoy the evening!