Approval by the European Commission was necessary because Vivendi (the owners of Blizzard and now the buyers of Activision, if you haven't been keeping up with all this) is a French media company, and therefore subject to EU business laws and antitrust concerns. Officials were mulling over the merger because of fears that Vivendi's association with Universal Media Group would give Activision Blizzard an unfair advantage in licensing music for games like Guitar Hero.
WoW theme for Blackberry - Thu, 17 Apr 2008 17:34:00 EST Not to be outdone by the WoW iPhone theme, Xtina over on WoW LJ took it upon herself to use those WoW icons to create a theme for the Blackberry. This one's even a little more in-depth -- she even skinned the calling screen (which is actually easy enough to do on the iPhone as well, but we just hadn't seen it before). Plus, the best part is that this one is completely legit -- you just download the file from Xtina's page there, and you can install it using Desktop Manager.
Of course, we haven't actually heard from Blizzard about any of this stuff yet -- odds are that as great as their icons are, they're not real thrilled with seeing them used in other places (a friend of mine who just recently saw me playing World of Warcraft shouted out in surprise, "Hey! Those are the icons from that game on Facebook!" I didn't bother telling her about the real DotA or Warcraft III). Then again, both of these are completely fanmade and free to download -- surely themes like this, that let Blizzard fans show off their loyalties, can be let through the loopholes.
Bornakk hints that Tier 3 might be removed from the game - Thu, 17 Apr 2008 17:00:00 EST With solid confirmation that Naxx will be "floating" off to Northrend (and not exist in two places at once) also comes a strong hint by Bornakk that they will be removing the ability to get Tier-3 armor pieces along with the rest of the current Naxx loot. Bornakk says that "For players who want the look and the stats of tier 3 armor at level 80, hopefully they are already farming the dungeon for them." This is a very strong indication that post WotLK, the current Tier 3 gear will be no longer available.
Before today it has been pure speculation that this removal of loot would or would not happen. The only time that the WoW Insider staff can think of this happening before (save for the holiday and special events) is with a few old mount models getting changed. And that is nothing compared to entire loot tables being removed from the game. Note that the changes in patch 2.3 to old world loot were just that - changes, not removal.
In many ways this removal does make since, given that the armor models will be reused in Wrath of the Lich King's version of Naxx. While there is similar looking and colored gear floating around WoW, none of it is really twenty levels apart and powerful each in their own right.
However with that said, the removal of items from the game like this stirs a mixed reaction in me.
PlayNoEvil is a blog that claims to do "MMO security news and analysis" -- they've got an interesting post up trying their best to track gold selling prices over time in various MMOs (the information itself seems to come from MMOBux.com). The World of Warcraft graphs (US seen above, EU on the site) show that for whatever reason, in the US at least, gold prices seem to be dropping. Of course, whether that's driven by low demand (thanks to Blizzard's daily quest implementation and other anti-gold selling mechanics), or high supply, we aren't quite sure.
In the EU, things aren't so clear -- while there are still bumps around content releases, things are holding pretty steadily at a price well below the United States. Either way, no matter what price it is, we should note as well that buying gold from anywhere is against Blizzard's terms of service and will get you banned. Hopefully, these lower prices in WoW mean that Blizzard's attacks on goldsellers are working, and that low demand has driven the price down further than its been in a long time. Even so, and even assuming that these prices actually do correspond to the market (no idea where MMOBux gets their info from), there's not much concrete info we can suss out of this other than the fact that prices are dropping in the US.
A user interface is an ever-evolving work of art. You can use it one way for a long time and then suddenly find one simple addon that lets you change everything and make it much better. Especially with all the problems that show up every patch, I've begun to look at my interface as a constant work in progress. As such, I'm usually in a constant state of getting rid of old addons, enjoying the ones I use now, and looking for new ones that might help me even more in the future. Every choice of what to put in or what to take out is a conscious decision about what will help make my game play smoother, more successful, and more visually interesting.
As hunters, there are a number of needs that we have which other classes don't have - and special hunter addons are there to help in many of those cases, while in other situations, one of the more generalized addons might fit our needs best.
Today I'll cover three of the most glaring interface problems for hunters and show you how I deal with them at the moment. In the comments section, feel free to share your own different interface issues, as well as your own solutions, for the benefit of our readers. Keep in mind that a user interface is an extremely subjective thing, and one solution may not work for everyone. Nonetheless, often times just sharing your idea will inspire someone else to vary it a little and make their own thing out of it, which is even better.
Totem Talk: Too versatile? - Thu, 17 Apr 2008 15:00:00 EST Totem Talk is the column for shamans. This week, Matthew Rossi examines the great flexibility of the shaman class and whether it causes difficulty for the design and play of the average shaman. He's also trying desperately to come up with a joke for the header paragraph but aside from a 'It's over 9000' reference, he's got nothing. But hey, at least it's being posted on the right day this week.
This week, on our way into Hyjal after having given Vashj her dirt nap, I noticed our guild's shamans doing some awesome work for us kiting striders, healing through massive DoT's, and putting out incredible damage on naga's.One of the top DPS on our Vashj kill was an enhancement shaman. An elemental shaman used frost shock to kite the striders and did very well holding aggro. All in all, without our shamans, we wouldn't have gotten her down, and wouldn't have been able to go kick Winterchill and Anetheron in the groins. I've talked before about how important the shaman is for raiding and this week I've really seen it in action. Grounding totems to eat damaging stuns before Vashj can apply them to me, windfury totem to boost our melee (one of our rogues gets very cranky if he has to raid without the enhancement shaman in his group), a variety of boosts to our healing and ranged DPS... shamans bring a huge toolkit to dungeons and raids.
In fact, I'm starting to wonder if the problem is that very versatility. Sometimes, it's as if people just don't know what to ask a shaman to do for them. Groups even seem to skip taking a shaman over another class because they don't understand that yes, a shaman specced for it main heal your Slabs run, or does have the ability to dps effectively. For that matter, at times they don't even care if the shaman can do the job or not: they just want someone who can crowd control.
Very interesting. Unfortunately, we're not quite clear on what "entry level" means -- it seems unlikely that Naxx would be a level 71 dungeon (or that there will be any "raid dungeons" before level 80 at all). And the fact that he uses the word "raid" definitely means it's either 10 or 25man, then, though whether it will be the new Karazhan or Gruul remains to be seen. Bornakk also says that attunement isn't solidified yet -- a lot of players are hoping that all that Argent Dawn rep doesn't go to waste, but he says it's a matter of balancing "special quest lines" with opening up content to many players.
Finally, the Ashbringer gets a mention -- apparently it will be discussed in the next Blizzcast. It's great to finally be hearing some official information about Wrath of the Lich King, vague as it may be. Hopefully there's lots more to come, sooner rather than later.
Drysc responded strongly to some QQ over at the forums when a poster from Kil'jaeden -- a PvP realm -- ranted about being griefed by high level characters while leveling up. Drysc's uncompromising response? Get some friends and fight back. He reasons that if players roll on a PvP server, they should expect to be griefed as part of the leveling process. It's the same philosophy that has prevented Blizzard from allowing character transfers from PvE to PvP realms. It really only makes sense. If players roll on a PvP server, they shouldn't complain about players from the opposing faction taking advantage of the fact that they're flagged for PvP.
As Drysc explains, "the rules of war are based around attacking when the odds are in your favor". This could mean when opponents outnumber you, outlevel you, when you're low in health and/or if you're engaged with multiple mobs... the question isn't whether it's honorable or fair. It's war. In a PvP server, everything is fair game. There are no rules, and players certainly shouldn't bother sending tickets to GMs asking for any help (or sympathy). This should probably be common sense, but Drysc's somewhat provocative response is something of a surprise -- to many players a welcome one. While I'm all for etiquette (ganking a fisherman is just plain rude) and a personal sense of honor, players who roll on a PvP server know what they signed up for. Shape up or ship out -- character transfers, after all, are just a click away.
Raiding warlocks have a very specific role - dealing damage. As we progress further in the high end-raiding game, one thing becomes more and more apparent. Our much-envied range of playstyles diminishes and we seem to be shoehorned, like other classes, into pretty much a single cookie-cutter spec.
The spec in question is destruction or 0/21/40 specifically. This spec capitalizes on the wonderful scalability of shadow bolt and consistently outperforms affliction when good spell hit and crit gear becomes available. For a detailed look at the 0/21/40 build, check out my "A Warlock's descent into Destruction" article.
I've recently respecced back to an affliction spec (40/0/21) just to revisit the good ol' days of mobility (instant DoTs) and an "unending" mana pool (Dark Pact). I know we tend to look back on the past with rose-colored glasses, and true enough, my experience with affliction again was ... less than satisfying. Why the difference?
Episode 9 of The Guild is up, and it's confrontation time. The guildies meet each other in RL again to take down the bank ninja Bladezz, but yet another boss battle looms deep on the horizon. Y'know, not that we don't love this series (we do), but has there ever been any actual gameplay footage here? Am I the only one that would kind of like to see them in their characters, maybe raiding into Karazhan or wherever else they're raiding?
Maybe there's legal issues or something involved (but surely Blizzard wouldn't mind, right?). At any rate, another fun episode for The Guild (Tink needs to get some new DS games, I beat Mario like years ago), and it seems like things are coming to a boil on this storyline. Episode 10 should be a big one.
Well Fed Buff: Cherry Grog - Thu, 17 Apr 2008 13:00:00 EST Well Fed Buff serves up tasty dishes to boost your HP, stats and appetite - with that special WoW twist, of course.
We're crispy. That's not an indictment of our cooking skill - no-no, Well Fed Buff writers definitely have the (Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok) chops to pull off some tasty stat boosts. No, the problem here is the beautiful springtime weather. After months of gaming indoors, it's almost inevitable that WoW players will at some point surrender to the siren call of the sunshine - ending up pink (if not actually crispy), sweaty and ready to ... well, to chill out.
Since springtime also gets us feeling just a wee bit silly, we thought it only appropriate to chill out with an icy-cold WoW-themed Cherry Grog. Yeah, we know that grog is traditionally made with boiling water - but we're going to offer you ideas for both hot and cold versions. And before the comments get besieged: If you're below level 21 or are acting as the Designated Raid Driver, You do not meet the level requirements for this item. Get some levels, guys, and come back when you're attuned.
There were funny moments to the story, but I found the beginning very repetitive. The voice acting wasn't helped by his microphone either. Also, did he really use his sword to shoot that guy? Well, Mindblade Studios is up to episode 4 and some change already, so I admire their dedication and effort to the medium, however I think they have plenty of room for improvement. Perhaps constructive feedback from the audience would help?
This should be good news for raiders who feel like their epics don't mean that much anymore (although to be honest, I was using a few of my BWL and AQ40 drops well into my late 60s, so I don't think the gear reset was that bad after all). If the gear jump isn't that bad, your shiny new epics should still work pretty well. Heck, same goes for badge runners. I've suspected for a while that the new Badge of Justice gear was meant to be a partial preliminary gear rest ahead of time, and I'd bet this more or less confirms it: If there's not going to be as much as a jump, these Tameless Breeches might last my druid longer than one might think.
I think it's definitely a good middle road to take. We'll get a gear reset so alt-o-holics and casuals can jump right into the Howling Fjord, but the gap won't be quite as great, meaning that raiders and badge gear savers won't need to feel like they're watching months of work go down the drain when that first level 71 green drops.
First off, I want to thank you guys for your massive response to the glitch screenshot and poll yesterday. I want to specially thank all of you who sent in your pics of different glitches, because it's given me an idea. Tomorrow's Around Azeroth will be Around Azeroth: Glitchstravaganza! Send in pics of your favorite graphics glitches, and we'll pick the top five or so and put them to a vote. As always, the address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and we prefer pics with no UI.
Now onto this picture. Ehiz of <Natural Selection> on Greymane has some lovely underdeveloped tracts of land for sale. Convenient to Gadgetzan. Small scorpion problem. The lot is currently being squatted on by goblins, gnomes, and people trying to get their level 40 mount gold, but they should be easily evicted. Free horseback tours available. What? There's nothing wrong with that horse. It's supposed to be on fire.
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 prefer full screen shots without the UI showing. And please, no more sunsets. Remember Glitchstravaganza!
Unfortunately, we're not talking about the Wrath of the Lich King Beta. Instead, we're talking about the new Latin American Spanish version of World of Warcraft. Eyonix announced yesterday that the Beta Test has begun. You can download the language pack here, the FAQ is located here, and Q&A Representatives will be on hand on the official forums here to answer questions and address problems during the test.
Good luck to all you Cazadores of bad grammar and misused language, Guerreros for the cause of South American servers, and all the rest who'll be testing this out.
Need a place to park your frosty beverage? What these coasters lack in functionality, they make up for in style. In my step-by-step instructions, I've included a guide to help you create the coasters that will surely be the talk of the table at your next dinner party. Here is what you will need:
Players who like leveling alts - or alt-o-holics - may find leveling in the first few levels of the WotLK expansion difficult.
With the accessibility of epics from badges and Arenas, the average level 70 character is now a far cry from a freshly-minted 70. The gear bar has certainly been raised among level 70s, compared to pre-BC 60s. This has led some to proclaim that "epics are the new blue."
Despite the proliferation of "welfare epics", there are still level 70 characters who are in their leveling blues and greens. They typically belong to alt-o-holics or really casual players who simply do not invest enough time to gear them up in pace with the general populace.
Some alt-o-holics even put their characters, even mains, into cold storage as soon as they ding 70 and move on to leveling a new alt. No Arenas, no heroics and certainly no raids for them. There's nothing wrong with avoiding the "endgame" really, but the gear level of their toons will be unavoidably lower than someone who chooses to focus on just one or two characters. Of course, there are alt-o-holics who do a good job of gearing up multiple 70s; if you're one of them, more power to you.
If Blizzard tunes the difficulty of the inital WotLK game to the "average" 70 with epics, will undergeared 70s and alt-o-holics be left in the dust?
In a piece called "Fury of the Sunwell and Beyond: an Insider Interview" (were they thinking of us when they named that?), Blizzard Europe sat down with J. Allen Brack, WoW lead producer, as well as art director Chris Robinson. They talked about the recent patch 2.4, as well as a bit about my favorite topic, the upcoming expansion Wrath of the Lich King. As usual in these interviews, there isn't a ton of solid, new information, but it's still a good read.
Here are the parts I found the most interesting:
Sunwell Plateau is the evolution of what Naxxramas was for the original game. They learned some lessons from Naxx; for instance, Naxx was just too big for many guilds to be able to get through it before The Burning Crusade hit.
Northrend will have "a very Nordic, gothic fantasy feel" -- sounds cool! To set the scene, players will be rewarded with "Northrendy" items early in Wrath: "for example, say, a two-handed axe that's made of a dragon jaw, covered with spikes, leather, and other traditional materials. We want players to see the new gear and think, 'Yeah, that guy's been to Northrend.'" I want my dragon jaw axe now please. Er...you can make that with +heal, right? And give priests axe skill?
As the player treks through the zones of Northrend, the landscape gets bleaker and players get more spread out, escaping the hyper-population of the starting zones. Blizzard wants to invoke a "growing sense of isolation and dread" as players get closer to Arthas.
The two starting zones are at opposite tips of crescent-shaped Northrend. They wanted to give us an easy way to travel between them, so we get boats. But not just any boats -- turtle boats! Brack talks about "a giant turtle with a deck mounted on top of its shell." Best form of transportation since Captain Placeholder, if you ask me.
Mr. Peanut and his monocle: Bank toon fashion - Wed, 16 Apr 2008 18:30:00 EST So you're getting all rich and the gold's started to pour in. You've made lots of wise investments and your arbitrage has been paying off great dividends. You've even got a bank toon to handle all your business -- after all, the rich folk leave all the dirty work to their accountants. Here's a question for you... is your bank toon dressed for the part? See, it just isn't right for your bank toon to run around Stormwind or Orgrimmar in their underwear, no matter how much that delights your inner pervert. Bank toons must be dignified... classy, even. They are the keepers of your wealth, so give them their due by throwing out that ratty Thug Shirt.
Fortunately for you, WoW Insider has prepared a simple makeover guide for your bank toon. If you've been treating your banker right, you've probably dressed them in the tuxedo sets made from Tailoring or obtained through the Noblegarden event. Complete the look with a perfectly matching pair of Frayed Shoes. You probably won't find these on the Auction House, but they drop from Level 1-5 mobs, so they shouldn't be a problem to farm. If you're too lazy (or unlucky), you can purchase Heavy Weave Shoes from clothiers in most cities. These also go very well with tuxedo sets but require Level 12. I personally keep my banker at Level 1 too keep her ego in check, so it's the Frayed Shoes for her.
I wrote up about Leatherworking as the hardcore raider's profession of choice. This is due to one particular item -- the Drums of Battle -- which greatly increases raid efficiency, particularly if the buff can be kept up indefinitely throughout a boss encounter. The item is so raid-beneficial that even cloth-wearers, who cannot equip any leather items, drop more aligned professions such as Tailoring. For Arena PvP, where each stat point counts towards survivability and lethality, there is no better profession than Enchanting and to a lesser degree, Jewelcrafting. Arena players competing at the highest levels have taken up Enchanting purely for the exclusive ring enchantments. A quick inspection of all players rated 2k and above will reveal that most have taken up at least Enchanting and enchanted their rings with the appropriate enchantments.
Today I dropped Mining to take up Enchanting after months of internal debate. I know the cost involved and it would break my back to level all the way to 375 for the Enchant Ring - Stats and the Enchant Ring - Healing Power along the way, but if I felt that if I were truly dedicated to Arena play, there simply was no other way. In fact, I'm rather disappointed in myself for having taken this long to take up Enchanting. Embarrassingly, I wasn't hardcore enough. Fortunately, I had informed my wife of this decision weeks ago and she's been generous enough to amass a bunch of Enchanting materials for me to use in skilling up. She even made me a Spellfire Bag. Now the trek begins.
I'm not as sold on Jewelcrafting for PvP, however, so I'm keeping my Blacksmithing. I also have an emotional attachment to my Stormherald, even though I know the Season 3 mace is arguably better. But as more and more players run around wielding one of the coolest-looking weapons in the game, thanks to the easy availability of Nether Vortexes, I'm pretty sure my love affair will soon end. Jewelcrafting only has unique-equipped gems with minor stat point benefits so I think I'll pass on it for now. I'm also willing to wager that Wrath of the Lich King holds nice BoP surprises for crafting professions. It feels good to have finally made the jump. At the very least, I can put this silly little racial skill to good use. Enchant Bracer - Minor Health, anyone?