Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.
Prepare your spell counters: it's magician versus magician in this week's Two Bosses Enter, as we pit Prince Keleseth of Utgarde Keep against Grand Magus Telestra of The Nexus.
There'll be no tricks or handicaps in this battle. The usual rules apply: assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools and damage output, and that they are fighting in neutral territory. We'll allow Keleseth the use of his summoned skeletons. Remember, focus your debate on the three S's: Style, Story and Scale. Don't get caught up in game mechanics and what players might do in each encounter. Consider the flavor each villainous gladiator brings to bear, then cast your vote for who you think would come out on top.
Of course, nowadays, whether they mean to or not, we're back to the way it was -- patch 3.1 will have pretty huge changes for all of the classes, and everyone is getting a free respec. GC says that while the "progressive patching" idea was a good one, Blizzard just doesn't have the chance to take that time -- patching is a big undertaking, and the way they change the game just plain leads to putting a lot of changes in a big patch. He would love to have the team make smaller patches more frequently (tweaking instead of a complete revamp), but the way things are now, the system just isn't set up that way.
He also reiterates that Blizzard is designing the game, not the people who complain on the forums. Blizzard listens to what their customers have to say, but they make their own decisions from there. Sometimes, that means we complain about problems that don't get fixed (Cower bug, anyone?), and sometimes it means they hear us complain about things that turn out not to be a problem (back in beta, a few forum posters claimed Death Knights would never be able to tank, and we now know that's clearly not true). We can hope for more sequential changes in the future, but GC says that right now, the way the game works is that Blizzard fixes as they can, and those fixes will come out in large chunks like 3.1.
More and more people (myself included) are starting to use iGoogle as their homepage, because it's incredibly useful. There's all sorts of widgets you can use to customize your homepage, from useful things like the weather and a feed of the top news stories, to goofy things like games and videos. I started using it awhile ago, so I was excited to hear about the addition of World of Warcraft iGoogle theme.
The theme is pretty basic as far as its appearance goes: A little art on top, a little art on the bottom, and text colored to match. No absurd bells and whistles or major distractions. The cool thing this theme does, like a few other iGoogle themes, is it changes depending on the time of day in your region. When I first put this theme on my homepage earlier today it had a somewhat orange tinge to it all, the art being what I believe is Durotar. Orcs, all of that sort of thing. As of my writing this, it's only 2 PM Central and it's already switched over to the dark blue of the Lich King. It seems a bit early to be swapping to what appears to be the nighttime version of the theme, and it's somewhat depressing in an odd sort of way.
Pardo at GDC lunch: It's all about nailing the execution - Thu, 26 Mar 2009 17:01:00 EST Blizzard isn't making too much of an appearance at any of the gaming conventions this year (save for, of course, BlizzCon), but they are floating around the Game Developers Conference going on on San Francisco this week -- Rob Pardo showed up at a luncheon panel yesterday to talk with luminaries like Will Wright and Warren Spector about the latest trends in social gaming. He was actually introduced by Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, who said that "social is buying someone a drink," not "sitting around in your underpants," but said that Pardo manages "maybe the largest group of people in their underpants in the world." Funny.
Pardo defended the game, saying that what was once a hobby for outcasts has now become quite cool and that no matter what you're sitting around in, the people who play WoW are people with real relationships, responsibilities, and lives. And he says later in the chat that Blizzard doesn't necessarily aim for innovation, but for "nailing the execution." That's something Nintendo does as well, he said, and many times, that's the key in game development. You don't necessarily have to get it first, but you do have to get it right.
The rest of the conversation wanders away from MMOs (and Pardo), but it is a fun look into what these gaming development greats are thinking about what's next. Stay tuned to both us and Massively for more coverage from GDC -- Jeff Kaplan is scheduled to be on a panel there today, and we'll bring you news of that soon.
The most recent PTR build has a confusing bug fix to Totem of Wrath (Okay, so it's not changing to 30 yards, because it was 30 yards anyway and now it will be the 40 yards the tooltip reads) and a nice buff to Storm, Earth and Fire. Each new tank reduces the cooldown on Chain Lightning, meaning that at max rank the six second cooldown will be reduced by 2.5 seconds. Combined with Lightning Mastery, you will be able to cast a Chain Lightning every 3 seconds. While shorter cast times are always good for PvP, this change will affect PvE just as much by giving shamans more casts of chain lightning during AoE pulls. It doesn't really match true AoE, not even with the glyph on, but it's something to add to dropping Fire Nova or Magma Totem. And unlike those, it won't cost you Totem of Wrath to use. There was also this nice discussion of Totem Stomper macros, which I call a nice discussion because it's blatantly in favor of destroying them and scattering their virtual ashes across the wide and bitter plains.
Hello, everybody! I'm going to jump right into things today because I'm sure at least a dozen people will want to shiv me for my answer to our first question, and I'd like to give everyone time to do that. Andrew R. asked...
"Why do the females in WoW always wear such scantily clad gear? I don't see how plate armor that exposes half your upper body will do you any good when someone wants to stab you. Isn't it kind of degrading to real women who play the game?"
They'll be profiled right here on WoW Insider, and they'll even pick up a raid pack from our friends over at Swagdog. Even if you don't win, you can go over to Warcraft.Swagdog.com and pick up customized guild gear, both shirts and hats with your guild's logo and name on them. Very cool.
If you haven't entered the contest yet and think your guild can be chosen as the best of the month, please do enter. And stay tuned -- after the first of the month, we'll reveal the winner for March, and then the contest starts all over again.
FileFront suspending operations indefinitely - Thu, 26 Mar 2009 13:00:00 EST Our old friend Moo Money wrote in a little earlier today (along with a few readers) to alert us of some news that has the potential to hit the WoW community pretty hard: FileFront is closing its doors, citing poor economic conditions as the reason why they're indefinitely suspending the site's operations. As of March 30th, 2009, FileFront will be gone.
Countless WoW videos are currently hosted on FileFront, including some of our favorite machinima, many that we've highlighted on the site previously. It's not just machinima, either. I know many of my friends that arena heavily find and host their videos on FileFront, and my raid has linked to strategy videos that were hosted there, too.
Red Eye Lobine posted the preview for Frontline on YouTube. Smartersnipe of Bladefist dropped us a tip about the video, and I'm really glad he did. I'm usually a little nervous about previews and trailers, because they often don't see fruition. But after checking this out in both normal quailty and HD, I was totally convinced that I had to display it.
Okay, so the basic story of the video so far is a trope. Two badarses beat up a bunch of people, pose impressively, and generally look heavy metal awesome. But, as I've said before, some tropes are tropes because they're awesome. And you don't fix what ain't broke, right?
I loved the opening shot of an eagle soaring over the countryside. Again, granted, it's a bit of a cliche, but it's one that wonderfully sets the scene for upcoming action. After the eagle screeches, the camera zooms in on our badarse orc warriors. They proceed to lay some smackdown on people.
If you're looking for deep, meaningful, pretty prose, this might not be your video. But, if you'd like an inspirational piece to fire your blood before Wintergrasp, especially if you're Horde, Frontline's going to be your pick. I look forward to Red Eye finishing it. His graphics are amazing, and I can't wait to see what he's got up his sleeve.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch ..
Study: MMOs bringing in $1.4 billion a year - Thu, 26 Mar 2009 11:00:00 EST If America's bankers want to get back into Moneytown, apparently they could do a lot worse than designing a hit MMO -- a study by a group named Screen Digest says that the MMO market is hotter than ever. After dropping down to a total of $701 million in 2008, games like World of Warcraft are seeing their revenues rise again, up to a total of $1.4 billion. And not surprisingly, WoW is still leading the charge -- while their overall market share is dropping very slightly, from 60% of the market down to around 58%, they're still making more money than ever. And while other games are picking up some numbers, according to Screen Digest, they're not really stealing players from Azeroth -- they're actually pulling new MMO players in.
Which is understandable -- during times of economic downturn, online games like MMOs are actually positioned to do very well. Why spend $15 on one night at the movies when you can spend it on a whole month of entertainment? World of Warcraft may have brought the MMO monster to the surface, but according to numbers like these, this is a game genre that's going to be extremely popular (and profitable) for a long time to come.
Way back in the day, Måy of Moon Guard decided that taking down an Anubisath was worthy of a picture. She sent this picture to her mother, hoping that it would be included in the yearly Winter's Veil card. But the goblin-run mail delivery system malfunctioned as usual, and her snapshot ended up at the abuse investigation branch of DEHTA headquarters. Now Måy has a new title over her head: "Wanted for Cruelty to Giant Dogs."
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!
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.
"Remember, it's not just about which boss would win, it's about the race to the finish," commented Samedji. "Gortok and friends ... have to make it through eight waves of Undead, several waves of Dragonflight, some miscellaneous baddies down that last hallway and then the Corrupter himself. Don't forget about Meathook, the Fleshcrafter, and the Infinite agent in town hall, as well."
Kebina Trudough here, offering you the best gold making secrets they don't want you to know about! I was like you once, poor and homely, before I discovered my patented system. Now you too can fill your pockets with the good stuff without ever breaking a sweat! Why spend all your time toiling when you could be vacationing in the Hot Springs? I'm not offering these tips for 100 gold, or 90 gold, or even 50 gold! No, not even 20 gold! My system is yours for FREE! Satisfaction guaranteed or I'll give you a full refund (handling charges may apply).
Cloth has always been a farming staple. It doesn't require any special skills, and you can begin right out of the gate. Changes to the game over the past year have put some cloth in even higher demand, making it an incredibly lucrative business.
While any cloth is worth farming, there are two types in particular, wool and mageweave, that fetch a high price. This is because, compared to the other types of cloth, they have a short window of appearance when leveling. Depending on how often you linger when questing, you practically jump straight from linen to silk, and from silk to runecloth.
To add to this, Blizzard has increased the speed at which we level, and even added bind on account shoulder armor that speeds us up even more. You can even Recruit-a-Friend for an unprecedented bonus.
The advent of achievements has also increased the demand for cloth, as people are eager to earn reputation, become pirates and then buddy up to the goblins again, and maximize professions. So how can you best take advantage of this market?
Surprisingly, yesterday's Breakfast Topic wasn't a flood of QQ as I'd initially feared. A lot of the posts were constructive, informative, and some were pretty well thought out. Admittedly some others were plain QQ, but you can't help that. Welcome to the Internet. Well, enough of the complaints. If you're reading WoW Insider, chances are you're playing the game and enjoying it. I know I am.
Vonya over at The Egotistical Priest is enjoying the game, too, and I'm kidnapping her question for this morning. She relates how WoW just suddenly became more than just a game to her while traipsing through the fungus-laden caverns of Maraudon. She also recalls seeing a Devilsaur for the first time (or not seeing it and getting totally eaten by it, more likely...). There are moments in this game where it became really special for us. I know the very first time I entered the Undercity I was completely enthralled... I'd never played an MMO before, and I fell completely in love with the wacky, Tim Burtonesque design of the Forsaken capital. I spent hours just ogling and it wasn't even at Sylvanas.
What was your moment? When did WoW become something special to you? When did the game reel you in? I know that our interest in this game waxes and wanes, but there was -- I'm certain of it -- a particular moment while playing where excitement and wonder coalesced, pushing World of Warcraft just a teensy bit over the definition of 'just another video game'. When did that happen for you? Oh, and yeah, that's a Whitney Houston video. You're welcome.
I don't know exactly what's so funny about this long chatlog between some of the more popular undead and evil NPCs of the game (maybe just how similar this crowd ends up being to us), but it is hilarious. Basically a sequel to the old boss chat, this one has "theLichKing" chatting with "Killzone'jaeden" and "An00barak" about everything from how cold it is in Icecrown to just where Sargeras is from. Very well done, Warraven of Ravenholdt. He even gets some nice lore in there even between all of the pony jokes.
And this little chatlog reminded me of all the funny stuff over at Wowbash. If you've never looked through the archives over there, definitely check them out, but be careful. Browsing all of those funny quotes is almost more addictive than actually playing the game.
Upper Deck has officially released the latest expansion in the WoW Trading Card Game -- the Blood of Gladiators is the game's eighth expansion set (can you believe this game has been around for three years already?), and features new PvP action, including a new Duel Faction Ally card and a new Arena setting in the Gurubashi Arena. There are three new characters in the game as well, coming straight from the pages of the World of Warcraft comic, with art by none other than Jim Lee. And of course it's got the loot cards we talked about earlier, including the Foam Swords rack and the Sandbox Tiger. Can't wait to see those in the game.
Booster packs from the set run about $4 in most places, though demand for the game can actually drive the prices up at retail if store owners feel they're running out too fast. Seems like, at this point, the WoW TCG has its fans, and the online game does as well, and sometimes the two are not the same people. Anyone been waiting for this release, or, eight times in, is yet another expansion set actually business as usual in the collectible card game?
Blizzard Europe poster Ancilorn posted the lowdown on ArenaSeason 6 (Bornakk posted the same on the US forums), which is slated to begin at around the same time that Patch 3.1 is released. There will be some key changes to this season, the biggest of which will be that all teams will start at 0 rating instead of the traditional 1500. This way, players will generally have an upward progression throughout the season before plateauing at their estimated skill level.
Another change is that Blizzard has reevaluated the item requirements, feeling that many of them were too difficult to obtain. The lowest rating requirement for an item is currently set at 1250, which may seem low but considering players will be progressing from 0, that's a 1250 point spread. In Season 5, the lowest rating requirement is 1615, which is a mere 115 points from the starting point of 1500. It remains to be seen how much of the continually changing Arena system will award points and how easy or hard it will be to move upwards from 0. More details on the ratings after the jump.
Authenticators to be optional for the Forums and Armory - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 19:30:00 EST Many of the people who are actually allowed to surf the official World of Warcraft forums were a little unhappy with the change to Battle.net accounts simply due to the fact that it meant that if you had an authenticator attached to your account, you now had to use that authenticator to log onto the forums, which wasn't needed before. Even if you're allowed to surf at work, and even if the authenticator has a ring on it to so it can be attached to your keys, not everyone feels comfortable carrying that thing around all of the time. You lose it, you're out of luck for awhile.
The other day, Bornakk announced some good news that I think a lot of those individuals may have missed: They've temporarily removed the requirement to use an authenticator for the forums and the Armory. In the future, they'll be making this feature optional. You'll be able to choose whether or not you want to use the authenticator on the forums. Why would you want to do that? Well, if your account uses an authenticator, it's going to keep keyloggers and hackers/scammers from stealing your account or characters, but if the authenticator isn't attached to your account on the forums, it can still be used for spamming keylogger links since all that's needed there is your password. If you have your authenticator turned off, it's going to do a whole load of nothing to stop that from happening.
It's nice that it will be optional, but if you frequent the WoW forums and don't plan on using your authenticator there, keep in mind that you'll still want to be very careful about where you surf and what you click if forum access is something you enjoy having. In my experience, the forum mods are much less forgiving and not nearly as quick to respond as the in-game GM team.
Blizzard vs. Relic Entertainment in The Escapist's March Mayhem - Wed, 25 Mar 2009 19:00:00 EST The good folks over at the Escapist are giving March Madness a little game developer spin -- they've pitted 64 different videogame developers up against each other in an NCAA Basketball-style showdown, with readers voting for which dev moves on to the next match. And our favorite developer, Activision-Blizzard, is still in the running after a few rounds: they've beaten Wideload Games and Crytek, and are currently facing Relic Entertainment (makers of the Dawn of War RTS series, as well as the classic Homeworld). Unfortunately, Escapist had to list them as "Activision-Blizzard," though what we're really voting for here is Blizzard, since companies who make Activision's other hits (like Infinity Ward, who make the best Call of Duty games, as well as Neversoft, who've overseen most of the Guitar Hero games lately) have their own places in the showdown.
Blizzard's got a tough road ahead, though -- if they win, they're likely facing fan favorite Harmonix (heck, I love Harmonix), and then will probably show down against either Bioware or Rockstar, both extremely popular developers. The other side of the bracket will likely have heavyweights like Nintendo and Valve coming out of it, too, so it'll be a tough road if Blizzard wants to make it to the top.
To vote, you just have to head over to The Escapist's forums -- the next round starts tomorrow morning, and every few days they're moving the developers on to the next matchup. The final round will be decided on April 8th, and while of course winning means nothing at all, this is a nice chance to show off your developer pride. Say what you want about the recent class changes, but Blizzard has given you Starcraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft -- how can you not vote for them?