I think I've found the limits of Video Mode Ultra -- when we first hard in the 3.1 patch notes that Blizzard was adding in a superspecial video mode for high-end computers to use, I was excited. I just recently "updated" my PC (read: "it broke and I had to spend a lot of time and money to fix it"), and it's been running like butter, so I was interested in putting it to the test. The day after the patch dropped, I flipped the switch to Ultra, and had no problems -- until this past Saturday. While wandering around Dalaran, I noticed my framerate had dropped quite a bit. I lowered a couple of the environmental settings just a bit and I was fine again, but apparently even with a 2.5 GHz quad core CPU, 4gb of RAM, and a GeForce 9600GT, Video Mode Ultra is still just a little too hardcore for me.
What's interesting is that I ran Wintergrasp a few times before having those slowdowns in Dalaran, and never had a problem. But then again, Blizzard did say that they had spent a lot of time making sure Wintergrasp was streamlined enough to run huge battles with minimal slowdown, so maybe Dalaran didn't get that same makeover. And I should say as well that I had no issues anywhere else in the world -- even my Naxx run the other evening looked perfect with Ultra flipped on.
Having a "future" graphics mode on PC games is nothing new -- for most games, the highest graphics setting is usually "experimental," so there's a little leeway in terms of release time (the game looks good with current hardware, but even better with next year's gear). And Video Mode Ultra is just that -- Blizzard trying to send a shot across the bow at those who are already saying the graphics look a little dated.
Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, where each week blogger and columnist Alex Ziebart answers your questions about the lore and history of the World of Warcraft. Ask your questions in the comments section below, and we'll try to answer it in a future edition.
Hello, hello! In this week's edition of Ask a Lore Nerd, some of our questions are followups to our Fallout edition. If you find yourself confused by the premise of any of these questions, you might want to go back and read that one so you understand what caused these questions to come up.
Sweet Sweet SoulShards asked...
"Why is the undead all over Northrend glowing orange? Is there more of an answer than the lame 'It's a new plague?' "
Yes, as you may have noticed in the update on our post the other day, it's confirmed: NetEase will be taking over operating the World of Warcraft in China as of June -- their new homebase over there can be found at wow.163.com. And while we originally reported that The9 would be turning over their software, hardware, and staff to run the game, apparently that's not completely true. IDG News Service is reporting that NetEase will be setting up their own network of servers to run the game. That's a big undertaking -- it likely means that things will be bumpy for the first few days of the transition (though Blizzard is clearly confident that NetEase can handle it, having run a few other games in the market before). And it also means that some of the supercomputers we've reported on before that are owned by The9 will go to... well, we're not sure what.
Not that there aren't plenty of things to use them for -- despite their stock dropping on news of the WoW license loss, The9 also runs a number of other games over there, including Guild Wars, Ragnarok Online, and a few more popular Eastern MMOs (not to mention that EA has a nice stake in them). And at the very least, there's got to be a market for supercomputers with other companies and educational institutions, right? It's unlikely that all that hardware will just sit dark.
But more importantly, it'll be interesting to see how NetEase handles the transition -- we've had a few inventory and other issues here on the Western side of the world, but we've never had a major loss of character information (cue all of the Blizzard engineers knocking on wood). We're sure there are countless backups in place, but if something goes majorly wrong in the transition between hosts, it could be devastating for the WoW audience in China.
Blizzard gets an F at the Better Business Bureau - Mon, 20 Apr 2009 15:00:00 EST Looks like quite a few of those players who threatened to complain about Blizzard ended up doing so: over on the local Better Business Bureau website for Blizzard's region, our favorite game developer has earned an F. The BBB says that they've been given this rating "for reasons such as that they have failed to respond to complaints, their advertising is grossly misleading, they are not in compliance with the law's licensing or registration requirements, their complaints contain especially serious allegations, or the company's industry is known for its fraudulent business practices." Ouch. We don't really know that any of those things are true about Blizzard's way of doing business, but there are certainly many people on the forums every day who claim that the first two especially are major issues.
Personally, I'm as big a critic of Blizzard as anyone when I think that there's something to complain about, but this rating hardly seems justified -- even if the BBB has received tens of thousands of complaints, that's still just a small portion of the playerbase. And despite the occasional downtime and various class nerfs, they hardly deserve an F rating, especially when a company that many people really do have issues with is riding along with an A rating. The BBB page also says that Blizzard's mass bannings have been a factor in many complaints -- there is probably no distinction made (or that can be made) in terms of complaints between people who have broken the ToS and people who have not.
At any rate, even if the F rating is there, it obviously has very little effect on Blizzard's business -- how many of you ran to check the rating before you decided to subscribe to World of Warcraft? It seems like a few customers (who may or may not have broken the rules to begin with) have ruined Blizzard's reputation with the BBB, but it's fairly apparent that the BBB doesn't hold much sway among Blizzard's customers anyway.
Greetings fellow Warlocks! Welcome, to our wicked weekly: Blood Pact! Here, heretical happenings are heard, diabolical deeds are done, and alliteration is always awesome. So continue to sit at your computer, continue to read your monitor, and enjoy the ramblings of Old Man Sentai as much as you're able.
I've dreaded the coming of 3.1 for awhile now. I love the new features of course. Being able to switch to a spec with replenishment any time my raid needs it will certainly be handy, and Ulduar will be a nice change of pace once I get in there -- even if I really wanted to get a few more Naxx achievements done before moving on. What I don't love is the new Affliction. There's so few buttons I feel like I'm playing Burning Crusade style Destruction. (Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt, Shadow Bolt...)
3.0 Affliction's rotation went something akin to Shadow Bolt > Haunt > Corruption > Siphon Life > Curse of Agony > Unstable Affliction > Immolate > Shadow Bolt Spam, followed by dot refreshments as needed, and Drain Soul once the target was below 25%. There was some variation based on whether or not the group wanted Curse of Elements, or whether you liked your short duration dots to go up first, but on average that's how it was.
Now that Siphon Life has been removed as an active spell, as well as Unstable Affliction and Immolate being altered so that they're mutually exclusive on a given target, two dots are out of the rotation. I'm sure it's a welcome change for some, but I'll be referencing the period between 3.0 and 3.1 as the golden age of Affliction from now on. Oh well, such is WoW.
As an officer or a guild leader, doing favors for your friends is one thing. The situation described below goes way beyond that. This one just blows my mind. Let's jump right into it.
I'm by no means an officer or leader of a guild but I am a very active raider. We use the EP/GP loot system in our guild; it calculates how often you raid vs. how much gear you acquire and based on that gives you priority when looting.
Myself, a raider who attends almost every major raid, and an officer who tries to be there when he can, have both been wanting a certain item to drop. I finally pass this officer on priority and if the item drops it should be mine.
Our last Naxx raid the item drops and I put in for it, and suddenly it gets awarded to the officer. I confront the guild leader about this, knowing he is friends with the guy and he gives me a vague answer such as "I'm sorry I know you're pissed at me, but that item has been destined to be his for a long time, I'm sure you'll get the next one." What kind of answer is that?! This is supposed to be a fair loot system right? So I go and confront the officer that was awarded the loot, after several minutes he told me that he had made a back door deal to get that item. He had just bought the guild a new Ventrilo server, and the condition he made to the guild leader was that he gets that item when it drops.
WoW Insider Show Episode 86: No love for Gnomes - Mon, 20 Apr 2009 12:30:00 EST Here's this week's episode of the WoW Insider Show, in which we recapped patch 3.1 and all of the class goodness and new content included in there, as well as the Ulduar cinematic and that fact that Gnomes have been historically dissed by Blizzard's machinimists. We checked in on your emails as well -- we got some Rogue theorycrafting in the mix thanks to our Encrypted Text writer Chase Christian stopping by, and we checked back in with Duncor of WoW Radio for the first time in a while on both which tank is the best and whether leather-wearing casters should get cloth upgrades or not.
Was a good show -- you can give it a listen at any of the links below, or just subscribe to us in iTunes to get the show automagically every Monday. We'll be back live on the air next Saturday, and we're climbing ever closer to a few big goals: in just 14 weeks, we're set to hit our 100th show, which will definitely be a nice anniversary for us, and we're only 600 followers away from hitting our goal of over 9000 followers on our Twitter account. So join up there if you haven't yet, and I'll get the tux out to the cleaners in anticipation.
Enjoy the show this week and we'll see you next time!
Get the podcast: [iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes. [RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator. [MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
In a world where the battle between the Horde and the Alliance is fought out in grueling games of Capture the Flag and King of the Hill, the AFKPlayers are back with a believable and entertaining new battleground. Check out their new machinima, Major League Azeroth.
This new video by the Taiwanese AFKPlayers manages to tie in both tongue-in-cheek comedy and some fun shots of the mysterious new raid instance, Ulduar. Brann Bronzebeard makes a guest appearance during the film, and ultimately is responsible for the game's outcome.
Part of what I love so much about MLA is the firm understanding AFKPlayers show about the WoW community zeitgeist. Cracks and references about King Wrynn mirror things I've said in my own Guild chat. When a Death Knight steps up to bat, the authors issue subtle nods to things we all think about the new class.
Even without subtitles, though, "Major League Azeroth" is fun to watch. It's got a clean, crisp animation style which makes the action easy to understand. The scenery is very well composed, and the character models are built without distracting elements. The AFKPlayers have stuck to their basic storytelling roots here, and let us enjoy their dialogue, plot, and raw comedy.
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.
Welcome back to the Queue. We offer you service with a smile.
"Is the construction of the Argent Tournament colosseum at all dependent on realm participation like Quel'Danas was? I was wondering if the goblin dailies 'A Chip Off the Ulduar Block' and 'Jack Me Some Lumber' helped construct the building faster. If so, is there any way to see progression like there was with Quel'Danas?"
It looks like the quality of interior design in Azeroth continues to improve. First an astute reader finds a dead-on parody of American Gothic, and now Daranara of Zangarmarsh has discovered this campy velvet masterpiece in Icecrown. "Okay so, I'm putzing around the Argent Tournament grounds on my hunter, right?" Daranara writes. "Just seeing what's what and such. Suddenly I come across what might be either on-site armor inspection, or possibly approval of all those wayward night elves and their human pets, I'm not sure. Either way, not the sort of thing expected of a jewelcrafter's tent."
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.
Once you're done with that, the next step is to begin the dailies, which will allow you to begin stacking up on more Champion's Seals for things like Tabards, Pets, and Mounts. Of course the other thing you can do is repeat the The Valliant's Charge line of dailies to earn the right to represent other factions in the Tournament.
The four daily quests which you can obtain Champion's Seals are listed below.
My pick for the most annoying aspect would have to be the new quest tracker that shows the icon of the quest item, if there is one, next to the information. Or, rather, on top of it. Somehow, knowing that I've killed 1... doesn't really help me. Is that 1 of 12? 11 of 12? 13/17? Who knows.
Despite this easily-fixable problem, I'm loving it. Thursday night raiding was smooth as silk, and not only are dual-specs extremely handy and fun, it also makes it easier to answer questions about your off-spec. How many hit points does my Tankadin have unbuffed, you ask? Give me under one minute, and I can tell you! I can't wait until the Equipment Manager is live.
How are you liking the changes and new features, now that you've had a few days to play around with them? Have your opinions changed from how you felt in the first day or two after it landed? Why?
I'm back again for another week, guest-writing once again for David Bowers. Today's All the World's a Stage is themed in honor of Mr. Bowers, for whom today is a special day. Everyone at WoW Insider is wishing him the best and it's in the spirit of the festive and celebratory that we take a little bit of time to talk about the roleplay wedding.
Last week, we talked about some tips for setting up a roleplay event. These included a small series of steps that would help you formalize and execute an actual plan for such a gathering. Today, we're going to focus in on a specific kind of roleplay event -- the "roleplay wedding."
Roleplay weddings come and go in popularity. Just now, it's been a long while since I've heard of one happening on my server. But around this time last year, it seemed that I couldn't take a quiet stroll in Darnassus without tripping across a pair of Night Elves getting handfasted.
So, let's talk about that most sacred and beloved of roleplay subjects -- the wedding.
The Colosseum: Mute of Terenas - Sun, 19 Apr 2009 20:00:00 EST The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.
Season 5 is over. The dawning of Season 6 is peaking over the distant horizon, the bright traces of new challenges and adventures casting long shadows over the victors of Season 5. Reflecting over the first season of Wrath of the Lich King, one 2v2 composition has clearly dominated the ladder. The Death Knight / Paladin synergy had definite control of the season.
For all the power of the composition itself, however, two identical teams have the same advantage to one another. The determining factors in a mirror match are a little bit of RNG luck, but mostly the skill and tactics of the competing teams. Since the top teams are all swimming in the same composition types, only their relative abilities determine who rises.
And so we come to the last interview of season 5, by visiting with Mute of Terenas. While we're still waiting to see what the final ratings return for titles, Mute and his partner Unicornz have both executed wonderfully in Season 5. Check out what Mute has to say behind the cut.
Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of PlusHeal, a new healing community for all restorative classes. Matt's got awesome raid healing tips to share as Discipline along with some thoughts for dual spec!
The first week of Ulduar is almost done! For those in there, how far have you managed to go? I've found it to be a test and a challenge for not only myself, but for the crew I raid with. Thank goodness for dual spec as it's saved me both time and money for switching between different roles.
I wanted to share a few tip I picked up in my experience so far as a raiding Discipline Priest.
The thread and the contents inside it are notable in that it is, by my recollection, the first time a Blizzard employee has given out the complete rundown of an in-game formula. While there have been hints and comments about how certain statistics impact the game from patch notes and game designer posts in the past, there has never been a "step a, step b, step c" like algorithmic definition to all those stats contained within the black box of theorycrafting.
In giving out the computations behind Armor Penetration, Ghostcrawler makes note to point out that Blizzard is not, and will not, get in a habit of delivering theorycrafting to players. They like the idea that players have to test out game mechanics, and that while the starting and end results are known, what happens in the middle of combat isn't written in stone. In the case of the Armor Penetration rating, they released it due to quite a bit of (somewhat) inaccurate information out there.
The armor penetration formula, and an example, after the break.
When I look at the Dalaran landing pad, I see fewer red proto-drakes than I should be. This pains me, dear readers. The 5-man heroic achievements are a lot of fun, if admittedly time consuming, and they force you to think on your feet and wring the most out of your character's abilities. Plus - it's a proto-drake. If you didn't get a 10-man or 25-man drake before 3.1 hit, you're out of luck there. Odds are good that you're still waiting for a green one to hatch out of the worthless egg that snake-oil salesman from the Oracles sells you, some jerk is camping the Time-Lost spawn 24/7, and the worst DPS in your Pinnacle PuG was the guy who won the blue drake off of Skadi, right right?
A lot of the WoW population has been at 80 for a while now and has some quality gear under their belts, much of it obtainable without setting foot in a raid. You should be able to pull off all of the 5-man heroic achievements in decent blues with a good group. I highly recommend trying to run with a stable set of players and -- if at all possible -- at least one Shaman. This is more true if your group is still gearing up and needs the damage boost provided by Bloodlust/Heroism.
I thought initially about organizing these from the easiest to the hardest, but I think it's ultimately less confusing to list them dungeon by dungeon. We'll address each dungeon alphabetically, so let's get started with Ahn'kahet:
Sure, you know about dual spec, the Argent Tournament, and Ulduar. But patch 3.1 was a patch of many changes, and some of them seem to have flown under most people's radar. Here are a few changes that have been surprising some people recently, judging by the tips we've been getting.
Emblems are now automatically distributed to everyone upon the first person looting them, similar to gold. This means no more forgotten emblems, and no more rush to the corpse as everyone goes to get theirs. It will also make loot chests much less unpleasant.
Many spells with ground effects, such as Rain of Fire, Blizzard, and Death and Decay, are not showing the same as they used to. This is because there is a new video effects option, "Show Projected Textures," which controls whether things like the rune circles from RoF/Blizz/DnD are rendered on your client. It also appears to control my framerate in 25-man raids.
How to activate Ulduar's hard modes - Sun, 19 Apr 2009 13:00:00 EST You may have heard that a numberof guilds have cleared Ulduar to Yogg-Saron already, which to me is perfectly fine. I like to think that a lot of good, properly-coordinated guilds will kill Yoggy this week, and the Blues agree with me. Of course, this week's Yoggy kills were on the easiest possible difficulty, so world first or not, it doesn't mean a whole lot in terms of fame and fortune.
This is the beauty of Ulduar -- if you want prestige (and the best gear), you have to earn it by flexing your raiding muscle and beating encounters on their respective hard modes. If you don't have the chops or the time for the highest difficulty content, then you can still beat the instance and see every encounter.
But, of course, you want those 239-level items.
So you should probably read after the jump and find out how to activate each boss' hard mode, yeah?