EU MVP Schwick takes a break - Thu, 24 Jan 2008 21:00:00 EST EU Forums MVP and community member (and friend of WoW Insider) Schwick, he of the Warcraft Weekly and the occasional "what we know" roundups, has decided to take a step back from posting as much in order to finish up his schooling. He's aiming to be a game developer, and so while he's still planning on doing the occasional roundup, he's stepping away from his weekly posts to focus on schoolwork.
Which is kind of a shame, as his posting was a huge boon to the community. But on the other hand, school is much more important-- focusing on school now will definitely let him do this kind of work more later.
So a big thanks yet again to Schwick for all his hard work, and here's wishing him good luck in his studies.
Every Thursday, V'Ming - who thinks that gnome warlocks are travesties of nature and need to be KOSed - shares thoughts and ideas on becoming deadlier at the Arenas. He also dabbles in the dark arts in Blood Pact.
Like I mentioned in my Building an Arena team article, some PvPers scoff at PvP mods. For me, I like to think of addons as little "fixes" that address deficiencies in the default UI. It's not like they create a huge unfair advantage or anything, but addons, created by well-meaning individuals, simply make our collective gaming lives easier. Hey, if everyone else is using them, why not?
There are literally thousands of addons out there, and some of us quickly develop an almost unhealthy reliance on all the bells and whistles. I'm a firm follower of the minimalistic movement: if I hardly interact with a particular addon during a typical game session, it disappears from my AddOns folder, no matter how nice or "useful" it seems. I prefer quicker loading and response times, to conveniences that are situational at best, thank you.
I'm also a big Ace fan; who doesn't like updating all your addons with one click? Besides that, many of the most functional and bloat-free addons are emerging from the active Ace community. Hence, if there are multiple addons providing the same functionality, I'll tend to gravitate towards the Ace version. The easiest way to grab and manage Ace addons is to download the WoWAceUpdater application. With that, let's look at some addons I consider "essential" if you are a frequent or serious gladiator.
Madmarv thinks that there might be a relationship between WoW players and metal or rock music, since everyone he knows that plays the game listens to metal or rock, and lots of videos use the same. But other players quickly prove him wrong-- not everyone listens to or even likes metal or rock music. And since we've got these nifty polls, why not figure out exactly what you do all listen to?
Of course, if metal/rock doesn't win (and I suspect that it won't-- my guess is you all are a pretty eclectic crowd), then the question remains just why all that crazy rock keeps showing up in your PvP vids anyway.
Except that's not right. Because while North American and European players pay about $15 a month, many Chinese and Asian subscribers don't pay monthly-- they pay hourly, at a much lower rate than what other players around the world pay. With 2.5 million and 2 million subscribers in North American and Europe respectively, Blizzard is still making $810 million a year (not to mention the cost to purchase the original game and the expansion pack, which at this point is probably negligible at this point given how much retailers like to take out) in those places. But that leaves 5.5 million players in other countries, and their payment plans aren't as rigidly defined.
Of course, obviously these are all estimates as well, and they're gross, too-- you have to remember that Blizzard pays a huge group of people money to keep up content, customer service, promotion, and administration, as well as maintenance on what must be a huge number of servers (each realm has at least three or four servers running on it, for each continent and all the instances). And Blizzard has other income coming in as well-- licensing fees, fees from The9 (the company that actually runs WoW in China, and likely collects subscription fees there), transfer fees from players, and so on.
Don't get me wrong-- Blizzard is still making a lot of net money on the deal, easily into the hundred millions. But it's not as easily as multiplying what you're paying by ten million, because that's just not the case.
Never go into battle unprepared. Before you queue up for a Battleground or Arena, make sure to repair your equipment so it doesn't break in the middle of an encounter. PvP takes its toll on your armor just like in PvE, albeit at a slower rate, so always be mindful of your repairs. While you don't receive durability damage when you die, your equipment still suffers every time you get hit. I once PvP'd for almost 15 hours straight without repairing and had my armor almost break on me. Though far from being as expensive, PvP is an endeavor that entails costs just like raiding or other instances.
Always have a mental checklist for buffs when entering an Arena or Battleground; before a match begins, players receive a buff called Arena Preparation or Preparation which reduces the cost of all spells and abilities by 100%. This period allows you to buff yourself and, ideally, your entire team as well. Note that although the spells are free, they still consume reagents in Battlegrounds (but not Arenas) so be mindful of your stocks. It's always good practice to have full stacks of reagents, so remember to replenish now and again between battles. If you're a Mage or Warlock, your teammates will be extremely grateful if you throw up a Ritual of Refreshment or Ritual of Souls. Extend courtesy to your fellow players and be sure not to take more than Conjured Manna Biscuits than you actually need!
In Battlegrounds, dying is a good opportunity to refresh oneself for the fight. When running low on health and/or mana, don't rule out the option of dying to top yourself up, specially if there's a nearby Graveyard under your faction's control. Right after you rezz, you receive a 6-second buff called Spirit Heal, which reduces the cost of all spells by 100%. Considering global cooldowns, you can cast maybe up to three buffs for free before heading back into the fray. Remember to cast your most expensive buff first, and stack as many self-buffs as you can to provide a buffer for dispel abilities. Preparation pays off, or in this case, costs nothing!
Battle Bites is a short feature that gives out weekly tips for PvP. Have fun storming the castle!
Gamers on the Street logs into U.S. servers to get the word from the front on what's going on in and around the World of Warcraft.
I'm leveling too fast. My brand, new main character is already in her mid-50s and closing on BC content fast. One night's worth of questing while my husband was offline catapulted me two levels ahead and greened out our next planned instance. It took a week's worth of jostling to get our quest lines and zones back in sync with one another. And money for my mount at 40? Who are you kidding? Even with steady gathering from 1-40 with just that in mind, it took dedicated money-making days to bring in the cash I needed in time (err, relatively in time - I didn't mount up at level 40, that's for sure).
One of patch 2.3's handy-dandy, user-friendly changes was a boost in leveling speed for characters between levels 20 and 60. The XP required per level was reduced by 20 percent, and the amount of XP granted by quests between levels 30 and 60 was increased. Loot in leveling dungeons was improved. Oodles of outdoor elite mobs were changed to non-elites for solo-friendliness.
Fast forward a few months ... Do players like the results? We dropped in on the Ysondre server earlier this week to see what leveling players think about the current state of XP'ing in Azeroth. Read about their XP experience and share your own thoughts on how fast is too fast, after the break.
I'm sure the coding here is complicated (anybody remember how buggy the ships used to be? In the early days of the game, there was probably a 50/50 shot that you would end up out in the middle of the water, having to swim back to shore on your own), but clearly this is a feature players want and Blizzard wants to implement, so why not just buckle down and fix it? Why keep pushing it back farther and farther? Give a programmer a clean room, a fast computer (or two), a case of Mountain Dew, and let him go to town until vendors are sitting on the boats.
It's probably not that simple, of course. There are probably a lot of issues with the code, and of course, programmers have lives, too-- even with Mountain Dew. But developers are always saying things like "would you rather us work on your crazy idea, or on something people actually want?" And this is something people actually want-- why not just get it done?
Totem Talk: The Three Trees - Thu, 24 Jan 2008 15:00:00 EST Totem Talk is the column for Shamans. Matthew Rossi spent most of yesterday running instances on his blueberry shaman, and a lot of healing and caster mail dropped, which is weird when you're enhancement and you're running with two priests, a mage and a warrior. I now have half of a very decent elemental set and a resto set that would serve to heal regular instances. Absolutely no enhancement gear dropped.
Being a shaman, like the other hybrids, means that you end up picking a role and dedicating your time to it. You spend your talent points in one of the trees, run instances, PvP, and raid for gear to supplement that role, and you find yourself with lesser viability in other roles. My enhancement shaman can still cast healing spells, yes, but they're nowhere near as effective as my resto shaman's heals. Meanwhile, my resto shaman can still put Windfury Weapon on his Hand of Eternity, and often does when healing in a BG. This should not be taken to mean that he can actually melee as well as an enhancement shaman, and the bonus spell damage on his healing gear does not make up for the gear and talents, much less experience, of an elemental shaman.
This is more or less how it should be, but I think it's an error to ignore the other specs too much. One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started playing a shaman was to focus too tighly on the enhancement tree and not looking at the others: as a result, I was fairly ignorant of how shaman healing worked, an oversight I paid for later when I had to start healing when I went resto. Meanwhile, in my guild there was another shaman who refused to spec out of the resto tree even though he wasn't healing any groups, meaning that he leveled exceptionally slowly. (He was level 30 when I started my first shaman, he's still not 70 yet long after I reached 70 on my second.) You can level resto, certainly, but you should look into a few points in elemental (in my opinion) if you're going to do that, just to give your shocks and spells some more bite and lower mana cost.
The WoW community is growing ever larger, and for lots of people the entire Warcraft story is a puzzling maze of overlapping tales. I know if I were a new player and someone told me, "Oh yeah, you can go play this other stategy game to get some of the story... or you could read some books!" I might balk at the time commitment required just to understand the background story for this new game.
Dawnbow has a solution though. This is the cliffs-notes version of WoW Lore. It won't keep you on the edge of your seat with spine-tingling suspense, but it'll give you a rough idea of what's going on behind the scenes of the game, without you having to spend extra time and money on other things.
A few responders to her original post on the forums say that there may be a few errors here or there in her summary, but don't worry too much about that. Lore fans often disagree on details -- sometimes they're both right, sometimes both wrong, and sometimes Blizzard just hasn't been consistent. Either way, if you're looking for a quick catch up on the essentials of the WoW story, spend a few minutes with some simplified WoW lore, and then check out WoW Insider's own Know Your Lore column for some the juiciest character portraits you'll ever read about a game story.
Here are your fake (real?) patch notes - Thu, 24 Jan 2008 13:30:00 EST A poster on World of Raids has posted these notes he claims were on the EU PTR forums. There is a whole host of changes in these notes. Quite frankly, there are so many changes listed here that I don't believe they're accurate. This is a lot to change considering how much was changed in 2.3, especially while also doing a major content patch including the Sunwell Plateau. However, I am not remotely psychic, and I'm wrong all the time, so for those of you who love pondering patch notes here's some gristle to chew on.
If these notes are accurate, they're going to try and re-introduce the 'silence and interrupt diminishing returns' idea, entirely redesign how backpacks work, change the human diplomacy racial so that it also increases healing received by 3% (this is the change that most sets off my 'no freaking way' meter), bear tank druids will see their self heal buffed by the healing gear they're all not wearing while tanking, shamans will find Windfury Weapon and Windfury Totem to be nerfed, and prot warriors will be hitting with both weapons on Devastates, which I would personally love to see in my stocking come patch 2.4, but I remember them trying this once. They said then that it did damage 'far in excess' of what they expected, and let me tell you, I was on those PTR's and they're not kidding. All this in addition to a major content push? It seems far-fetched to me.
Still, you may see more plausibility here than I do. Go take a look and tell us what you think.
"You may want to brace yourself." It will come as no surprise to skilled Engineers, apprentices, and innocent bystanders alike that Engineers have a vested interest in their own health. Perhaps more than most tradescreatures, the Engineer has far more opportunity to need healing as a result of his own craft. As a result, Engineers have devised a number of ways in which they might come to the aid of their compatriots, their allies, and even their own devices. Herein we will discuss the various methods by which Engineers can heal themselves or their allies. Methods of making amends for having caused the damage thereby healed will be left for a later lecture. Potion Injectors: Don't worry, it won't hurt a bit, stop struggling. A boon to many an Engineer who is short on space and long on supplies, the matched set of Potion Injectors can save a great deal of room, before they even begin saving lives. Each injector carries twenty doses, and takes up a quarter of the space a like amount of potion would. Further, the injectors can be stored in an Engineer's toolbox, unlike potions.
Falcore has been in WoW for over two years, so he decided that it was only fitting to make a rock tribute. Do you wanna play? features 45 scenes, detailing quests, bosses, and a bit of history. If you enjoyed the video, you can download the high quality version, although I do believe it has interlace issues.
For a first attempt at a music video, I like it. The timing of the cuts to the music was dead on. However, there are some issues with the borders of the models, but that's something that can easily be fixed. I look forward to seeing his next video!
Back in May 2007, when the Black Temple materialized in Patch 2.1, high end raiding guilds were drooling at the idea of taking down the infamous Illidan Stormrage, scourge of the Outland. Unfortunately for those guilds that achieved their lofty goal, there has been little else to challenge them. The telling fact is, when the Sunwell Plateau goes live in Patch 2.4 sometime this Spring, it will be the first new 25-man content to hit the game in a year!
And this is where Lore, a level 70 Blood Elf Paladin whose guild has had Illidan on farm for the past three and half months, now sits. For 25-man raiders, clearing Black Temple hasn't been the real challenge. Finding a new goal worthy of their time, dedication and uber-gear has been the task just out of their reach. And Lore's guild has been suffering for it with attrition, disinterest and players leaving the game entirely.
The news that new high end content is coming is great news, but it can't come fast enough for elite raiders who aren't quite the minority they used to be. WoW Jutsu shows that more than 6% of raiding guilds have entered Black Temple already.
Has Blizzard made the right choice by ignoring this group of players in favor of cranking out PvP improvements, 10-man instances and Cooking Daily Quests? Or has Blizzard dropped the ball for a good chunk of its player base?
Enaress sends us this shot of Grim Batol. If you aren't familiar with its history, the short story is that it was once a Dwarven fortress, but is now being held by the Red Dragonflight, who attacks anyone drawing near. Enaress points out that, despite Blizzard's removal of many elite mobs from Azeroth, the guards of Grim Batol are still elites. Why guard a fortress that serves no real purpose, we wonder? (For those of you who appreciate a bit of lore, this shot is also available in wallpaper size.)
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? Because we'd love to see your idea of the best looking instance 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!
Breakfast Topic: Non-combat uses for combat spells - Thu, 24 Jan 2008 08:01:00 EST Obviously, all of our classes have a bunch of combat spells, and we use them in combat all the time. But when it comes to standing around the city, all of us might as well be clowns mocked up in different outfits, because we don't use our magic unless we're killing something. Of course there are also a lot of non-combat spells, such as mages summoning food and water, or warlocks summoning you and me. But is there any use to some of our combat spells for those times when we're not in combat?
The greatest non-combat use I can think of for combat spells is in roleplaying, such as the frost-mage gnome I featured in an article, who had such a horrible cold all the time -- she would sneeze and Frost Nova at the same time for a really fun character effect. I'd love to hear some more of these roleplaying ideas, but I'd also like to hear from non-roleplayers as well. How do you use your spells to entertain yourself or your friends, without killing something at the same time?
Between Arenas, V'Ming spends his time as a lock laughing ominously in AV, tanking Olm with his own minions and pondering troll fashion from Zul'Aman. He's recently started to plumb the depths of SSC with his 0/21/40 build and bragging about 8k shadow bolts.
Sneaky, backstabbing rogues and warlocks seem to fit naturally into the evil mold - with the latter summoning demons from hell and all. Unlike rogues, who seem more like common thugs and hired hands, warlocks are more akin in flavor to evil masterminds, orchestrating doom behind the scenes and manipulating their minions to get the dirty job done. Incidentally, it was a warlock who got us into this Horde-Alliance mess.
Like Elizabeth, who wrote the rogues' version of "How to be evil", I'm not a mean, vicious or even evil person. In fact, if you met me in a dark alley, you'd probably invite me home to meet mom. So how do good people like you and me play this deliciously evil class to its full creative potential?
Weather or not you play a toon that uses Mana or has a use for Intellect you need to stay well hydrated to play WoW to the very best of your ability. Now, I know that the last time I wrote about a beverage 99% of your comments were about how I needed to add something, shall we say, stronger to give it more kick.
Once again I am not adding that stronger element but I have a good reason. If you are giving yourself an intellect buff don't you think it should clear your mind not make it more.... well, drunk? Now that I have given my recipe such a glowing introduction, I present you with Elixir of Greater Intellect Punch.
She has taken it upon herself to cut down her addon list to what is really necessary. After all, load in and zoning times are important, too. After deleting some that were rendered obsolete by recent patches, some that weren't that great after all and some she couldn't remember what they even did, she got down to 79. Yikes.
I recently got a new rig so I have very few addons going right now. But I do have to clean out my Interface folder on my old rig which I still play on. One addon for sure I couldn't live without though is Outfitter which automatically switch gear sets between Druid forms.
Does your addon folder need spring cleaning? What addons can you simply not live without? Are you an addon addict or an addon newbie?
Over here at The Light and How to Swing It, we've gotten behind on our class guide. If you missed the first installment and have just rolled a Paladin, check out Elizabeth's guide on levels 1-20. As Elizabeth said in her article, until you hit 40 or so, Retribution is probably the best talent tree for solo leveling unless you're doing a lot of instances where you are healing or tanking. Even so, Prot and Holy specs get far more effective at 40, so my advice is also to stay Ret until then, as it really will speed things up.
Be prepared -- going from 20 to 40 will take you a lot longer than going from 1-20. If you're on a PvP server you'll have to level in a contested area (this means you are automatically flagged for PvP), and that means you are likely to be ganked by opposing players who will often be a much higher level than you. If you're on a PvE server there is no threat of ganking unless you flag for PvP or wander into an area held by the opposing faction, but the difficulty level also ramps up here as well. Mobs have more health and do more damage, and you will probably find quests are harder to complete. Generally, you won't need to group up for quests (your bubble and your ability to heal yourself is invaluable), but in many zones it's not a bad idea. Since Blizzard increased the amount of experience gained from quests in this level range, it may be advantageous to group up and finish a quest quickly, rather than do it solo.
According to Worlds In Motion, the CFO of The9, distributor of World of Warcraft in China, has recently announced her resignation in order to pursue other interests. Hannah Lee, The9 vice president and CFO, has worked with The9 for over four years and will be stepping down at the end of February. The resignation comes at a curious time as the Shanghai-based company outperformed expectations in the last quarter of 2007. The announcement dealt a crit to the company's shares, which subsequently fell over 8.75% on the Nasdaq.
The9 is China's biggest online gaming operator -- naturally with the license for WoW -- and also develops as well as distributes games in the region. Among its licenses are familiar titles such as Guild Wars and Hellgate: London, as well as titles more popular in Asia such as the control-three-characters-at-once Granado Espada, Ragnarok Online 2, and others. The company's CEO had this to say, "Hannah has been with us since before The9 went public in 2004. Over the years, she has played a vital role in transforming our company into a highly regarded US- listed public company with substantially improved financial reporting and internal control systems. We want to thank Hannah for her many contributions to The9 and wish her all the best in her future endeavors."
The company has announced a search for a replacement and expect to make an appoinment before the end of February. Let's hope that The9 stays in good shape despite the departure of the key person responsible for crunching their numbers! Otherwise, we might no longer see silly news stations using maps of the Arathi Highlands!