You may remember the story of Ezra Chatterton. He and his father played together in Azeroth, using the World of Warcraft to spend quality time with one another. Ezra had a brain tumor. Thanks to help from the Make-A-Wish foundation and Blizzard, Ezra was able to live out some of his dream of being a game developer. You can see his influence in the Merciless Gladiator's Crossbow of the Phoenix, which is finely crafted to ePhoenix's specification. Ezra was the rider for the first phoenix mount in game. But, only a few months ago, we heard the frightening news that Ezra had suffered a stroke.
Reader Sedna directed us to Ezra's web site for the saddening news. Ezra passed away on Monday, October 20th, at 10PM pacific time. We at WoW Insider would like to offer our sympathies to Ezra's family. Both they and Ezra are in our thoughts. His story was an inspiring one, and we will not forget ePhoenix.
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Last week we talked Enhancement. This week, it's Restoration's turn as we move through patch 3.0.2, ward off angry zombies and get ready for Wrath of the Lich King. Last week I was hesitant to talk about glyphs, but it's clear that you guys want to talk about them, so we'll do that too. First off, behold in all his cobbled together glory my orc shaman, wearing a miz of Karazhan, PvP, badge and heroic gear (with the exception of a blue mail chestplate from a quest) - wearing this gear I have successfully healed heroics, Headless Horseman attempts (but let us be honest, the new DPS and tanking abilities make that fight a complete joke at 70), and a variety of PuG raids including a relatively successful Black Temple PuG.
Right now, I'd say Restoration is a powerful healing spec, but the problem is, it's hard to tell how powerful when all the content has been reduced to the point where fights that used to be hard can now just be muscled through. Prince Malchezzar, already a pushover once you're in Tier 5 or better gear, died so fast on my most recent Kara run that I barely had time to cast a few Riptides. Phase 2? Oh, yeah, that already happened? This makes the effects of the downranking and potion changes on mana efficiency rather difficult to determine as we progress forward. For now, I have no mana issues whatsoever, because everything dies before I can even look crosseyed at my mana bar.
This year I was fortunate enough to attend BlizzCon, and while my experience ranked right up there with getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas, there was one thing missing. A picture frame.
How Blizzard forgot to include such a simple product in their stores, made to protect our memories of such a grand event, escapes me. However, this oversight has allowed me to craft a frame reminiscent of the icy chill soon to takeover what's left of our social lives, Wrath of the Lich King. Here is what you will need:
It's nothing to hold your breath over (you'll pass out way before we see any changes on the realms), but Ghostcrawler says that healing is due for a revamp in terms of "fun," and while he says it'll be "a more challenging fix because what people think is fun about healing varies and some people are pretty happy with it already," he also hints that it'll be a pretty big change. Right now, healing is basically whack-a-mole -- when someone gets hurt, you cast a heal on them -- but Blizzard may be rethinking that mechanic completely. We'll have to wait (probably quite a while) and see.
It's also interesting to note that Death Knights are a tanking class, and tanking got the revamp in Wrath of the Lich King. While some healers probably won't want to wait all the way until the next expansion, could this be a hint that we're looking at an Emerald Dream expansion, with an Arch Druid healing Hero Class, and an accompanying revamp of healing mechanics? Obviously, that's a stretch, but it makes sense, doesn't it?
Tips for eating brains - Thu, 23 Oct 2008 13:30:00 EST I had a ton of fun on the servers last night running around and eating as many brains as I can. As I'm a huge fan of zombies in all their forms, Blizzard's world event hit the mark for me, and so, I've spent my every minute as a zombie plotting how the living undead just might take over the world. Here's a few tips for making sure the zombie apocalypse really does shake the world.
Strength in numbers: This one's obvious by now, but you need to be with other zombies to really do any damage. You can convert NPCs, but not very quickly unless they're low level, and low level zombies drop relatively fast. It's far better to convert players (usually by listening in for anyone who wants to be a zombie, and then inviting them to a zombie party off the beaten path). But the key is to wait until you've got a good group -- any zombies that go shambling off by themselves are going to get quickly overtaken by NPC guards or overzealous Paladins.
Sam Raimi thinks a Warcraft movie has potential - Thu, 23 Oct 2008 13:00:00 EST The hottest topic that didn't get discussed at BlizzCon this year was the WoW movie -- last year, we had a whole panel dedicated to how it was going, but this year, all we got was a vague mention that it's still being worked on. Still, the biggest question that hangs in the air is just who might direct it, and we've got our first rumor: Sam Raimi, he of Spiderman and The Evil Dead series. He's not exactly hired yet, but he is quoted by MTV Movies as being interested in the Warcraft story and universe.
He's got my greenlight -- I don't know how good a movie it would be (Spiderman 3 is proof that Raimi, quirky as he is, can go off the rails at times), but any movie with Bruce Campbell in it works for me. And you know we'd get at least a cameo if Raimi took the helm. But at the very least, it sounds like Raimi has the right ideas to get a Warcraft movie together: "It has such great, adventurous characters in it," he says, "and such fantastic landscapes and rules."
The premise appears to be revolve around the conflict that arises when the clairvoyant Aislynn (a former Night Elf turned Undead) foresees the death of another Night Elf in her visions and tries to prevent it, putting her at odds with her fellow Horde. That's all the trailer really hints at, but it's a gripping teaser for what's to come. On their website, Slashdance says that the full film version of Pursuit will be released on October 31. We'll keep a look out for it.
You can tell the Wrath beta is winding down, because Ask a Beta Tester has been getting a lot fewer questions lately. Because of that, we're going to be pretty short and sweet today. If you still have questions, though, keep em coming! Let's start today off with dfsnow's question...
What's happening with Alchemy and Alchemist's Stones in WotLK? Alchemist's stones have been like enchanting rods where you need the previous one to create the next one. Are new players going to have to grind Sha'tar and then SSO rep to create the reagent they need to create their level 80 Alchemist's Stone? I don't have to tell you how hard it will be to grind Sha'tar rep with no one running BC instances any more.
The new Alchemists stones aren't tied to the older ones at all. All the new ones will require to make is the appropriate Alchemy skill, some herbs, some eternals and maybe some oils.
After finally acquiring his helm and pet from the Headless Horseman, Terry's guildmate posed for a king-sized picture in front of the Stormwind Bank. I don't know what combination of potions and effects he had to take to get that big, but he's apparently not big enough to disrupt the flow of people checking their mail.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
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I play Alliance. I like playing Alliance. I like fighting the good fight and saving the poor peasants from the path of war and taking the orphans out on trips. But last night something inside me changed. I became a zombie and damn if I didn't enjoy decimating NPCs that have done nothing but aid me in my time of need.
After getting drive-by cleansed too many times, I got myself infected and ported immediately to Moonglade where nary a Priest or Paladin would try to save me from my inevitable fate. Ten minutes later I transformed into the walking dead and proceeded to take half of Moonglade with me. And I didn't feel a twinge of regret. Because you see, it wasn't my fault, I was a Zombie.
I think we can take this one step further.
"Who took all the Hearts of Darkness out of the guild bank?" "It wasn't my fault, I was a Zombie."
"Who ate the last of the brains and didn't leave any for the Guildmaster's girlfriend who nobody likes but we all tolerate because the GM is making killer progress for the guild through all the raid content despite the fact that the latest patch put the whole game on easy mode?" "It wasn't my fault, I was -- oh, I guess it was."
What bad behavior are you blaming on your Zombie state?
Breakfast topic: Braiiins for breakfast? - Thu, 23 Oct 2008 08:00:00 EST If you've paid any attention to the goings-on in the World of Warcraft lately, you probably know that Arthas has already made his first move and sent crates of a conspicuous nature to some very public places in Azeroth. They're not exactly gift packages, either, as clicking on these crates will infect you with a ghoulish disease. There've been reports of zombies attacking towns, feasting on the innocents, and turning entire populations into the Lich King's servants.
Have you unwittingly (or wittingly!) gotten infected? Have you had the disease run its course and turn you into one of the malevolent Scourge? Are you one of the remaining bastions of the Light, cleansing all who may be infected and smiting those who have been transformed? How are handling this world event that's preparing us for Wrath of the Lich King?
There is a slowly growing chaos on the realms right now -- in the far reaches of Outland and even Azeroth, things are as normal, but slowly a plague creeps across the land. Westfall has fallen on many servers, and even our greatest leaders have become infected themselves, and the hordes continue to grow and lurch in search of living flesh.
Below you can see the sights of tonight's Zombie invasion. Someone has put some curious infested crates in Booty Bay, and as a result, Azeroth's population, NPCs and players alike, are slowly becoming something even worse than dead. If you've got some great screenshots of tonight's festivities, send them in to our tip line -- we'll be adding to this gallery of the zombie world event in the days to come... assuming we live that long.
Bornakk posted some excerpts from what appear to be an old diary in the dead town of Andorhal. The diary details the struggles of one Eric Farrington, who explains the horrors of seeing loved ones transformed into gruesome tools of the Scourge only to be eventually transformed himself... and hunger for brains. Bornakk also appended a short Q&A that should answer some of the questions players might have about the new Scourge invasion. Of course, most of those same questions have already been covered by Mike in his live... er, undeadblog.
Bornakk didn't mention that zombies also have their own language, and when players speak while transformed, their speech will be unintelligible to normal players. While the Q&A addresses how to avoid getting infected and finding a cure, players who might want to experience becoming part of the Scourge are encouraged to read up on the unique zombie abilities...
Kisirani, who no doubt is laughing with maniacal glee right now, says that if you're worried that the zombies might not overtake the world, don't -- things are going to get worse. When a player complains that the buff is easily dispellable, the world event designer jokes that "it sure does seem containable, doesn't it?" It kind of does... for now. But keep in mind that we haven't actually seen Arthas yet (and technically, we don't even know this is him -- it might just be, you know, a mistake in shipping or somethitng like that). Clearly, the Argent Dawn can handle this little "event," and none of us need to worry.
Sure. Just keep thinking that. Meanwhile, more zombies have started appearing all over the world. Mind if I chew on your skull for a bit?
You probably heard about that cool, new World Event that just started today. It's not related to Hallow's End, although it seems thematically perfect, doesn't it? It's really all part of the Arthas' plan to invade Azeroth, and I have to say that being part of the Lich King's army isn't at all bad...
First, you have to get infected. This is easy to do as there are Conspicuous Crates all over -- I clicked on some from Booty Bay -- which will give you a 10 minute debuff called 'You're Infected!'. The only way to cure the debuff is to be in the vicinity of an Argent Healer [EDIT: It can be cured by Paladins, Priests, and Shamans, too. Those killjoys!], who will heal you automatically with several yards. If you want to serve the Lich King, stay away from the major cities until you get turned. If you don't get cured within 10 minutes, you will, like me, turn into a zombie!
[UPDATE: If you transform into a zombie, you will need to keep on killing things. Otherwise, you will constantly lose health until you die and return to your normal state. The ability Bite! is a passive effect that happens whenever you attack, so you'll constantly need to keep attacking. This prevents zombies from traveling very far without killing.]
When you turn into a zombie, you'll get a whole bunch of unique abilities. The first is Mangle!, which is your basic melee attack on a 3 second cooldown. It's fairly weak, but the best part of the ability is that it seems to shave minutes off infections. Attacking players or NPCs will infect them, so be ready to spread the plague. Players and NPCs that die with infections will transform into zombies immediately, as will players whose infections run the course naturally or through zombie attacks. With a little cooperation, you'll soon have a zombie army of your own!
Be warned that the video above contains a few instances of profanity, so you may not want to watch it right now if you're at work or something like that. If you'd prefer to not hear their Ventrillo chatter, you could always mute the video, pop open Winamp and play some trance or techno. It'll be just like every other raiding video, then!
Durante of Hydraxis-US did what many Hunters have been dying to do since the changes for Wrath of the Lich King were announced: He tanked a raid boss. Or more specifically, his pet tanked a raid boss. His Gorilladin (dubbed thusly by BRK) Bubbles smacked Gruul around for a raid made up of members of the guilds Snuggles, Redemption, Gone Casual and Unemployed.
I'm not sure if this video displays how powerful Hunter pets are after patch 3.0.2, or just how much raids were nerfed. A little from column A, a little from column B? In the thread on the official forums, Durante mentions that the raid's DPSers didn't really need to hold back on threat much at all, nor did they need to stand around forever as you can see in the video above. A few seconds was more than enough time for Bubbles to hold aggro, and the raid only had four healers. I'm willing to bet things would have gotten a little more dicey if Gruul lived long enough to stack more Growths, but he didn't, so it's kind of moot. If you're interested, Durante has also posted his 'tanking' spec as well as his pet's spec.
I'm willing to bet we'll see a lot more Hunter pet tanks in level 70 content, but it'll drop off dramatically (perhaps completely) at level 80. Time will tell!
DirecTV replay still available, showing tomorrow - Wed, 22 Oct 2008 19:00:00 EST Reader Stephen dropped us a note to let us know that if you missed the DirecTV stream of BlizzCon the first time around, you've got another chance tomorrow: they're going to show the whole thing again starting tomorrow morning. Seems pretty meh to us -- from what we heard, the stream wasn't all that great. And what you missed in terms of official panel information, you can get right from us here on the site. Anybody hear otherwise? Is this worth watching at all?
Of course, even if it's not, there is still one reason to order it, and that is of course the BlizzCon bear. Apparently people who purchase this replay will still get a code good for an ingame bear, and given that the bear and the Starcraft II code from the convention is going for as high as $200 already on eBay, shelling out $40 for just the code might be worth it to you.
And you'll pick up 16 hours of high-quality video along with it -- who wouldn't want to see Ghostcrawler in HD, right?
And thus it begins. Midnight just rang out across the EU's servers, and with it brings the Argent Dawn, appearing in capital cities all over Azeroth warning of the coming of the Lich King. "The plagued tendrils of the Lich King," they say, "lurk close."
We knew it was coming (heavy spoilers on that link!), though we still don't know for sure exactly what form the Lich King's re-arrival into Azeroth will take. Will it be a simple replay of the Scourge Invasion that brought Naxxramas to our shores for the first time? Or will it be something even more sinister, a world event that shakes the very foundations of the World of Warcraft as we know it?
Call us destructive, but we're kind of hoping for the second. Stay tuned for more news of the world event leading up to Wrath of the Lich King as we hear it. Thanks to everyone who sent this in!
So this is clearly a problem. Let's fix it for Blizzard: how can we make sure everyone has five chances a day at summoning the Headless Horseman (one per day per group member) without ripping off people for helping their guildies or friends? Basically, we need a clear way of seeing whether someone has a summon or not -- maybe a debuff that resets at midnight every night, or a changing number of candles on the pedestal based on how many people in the instance can still do the daily quest? Right now, there's no accountability at all, and with droprates the way they are, getting screwed out of another chance at the HH (or even four chances, in the worst cases) can make the difference between having the achievement and not.
Any other good ideas on how to solve this problem and keep players accountable? I'm sure players with less than upright morals have no problem claiming their brother used their summon or lying to steal the summons of others, but it would be a lot more fair for everyone if the possibility for scamming wasn't there at all.