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Has the splash screen mystery been solved? - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 18:30:00 EST

So if you've been living under a rock here's the news: Blizzard announced Diablo 3 at the World Wide Invitational's opening address. This has brought much delight to many fans, and closure to the many who believed that the changing splash screen has pointed to this game. During the address the splash screen changed to a flash teaser of the latest in the demonic property. It a pretty exciting announcement, but I'm not convinced that this is the only thing there.

The demon in the logo does match up with the eyes and brow of the central character, but the flash does not add to the existing chain of splash screens. This bit of news also fails to explain the interesting icy bit in the lower left hand corner of image 5.5.

Continue reading Has the splash screen mystery been solved?

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WWI '08 Day 1 roundup - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 18:15:00 EST
We had bloggers onsite for Day 1 at the Worldwide Invitational 2008 in Paris. Elizabeth Harper, Turpster, and Jennie Lees were all in France to provide in-depth coverage with liveblogging, pictures, and videos, and our entire staff was back here in the US to break out the analysis and coverage of the live streams. Here's a roundup of all the posts from Day 1.

Liveblogging


Analysis by Class
Analysis by Topic
Media

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Arcane Brilliance: Gearing your Mage for Karazhan - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 18:00:00 EST



Welcome to another edition of Arcane Brilliance, where our spell hit is capped out, our damage is through the roof, and our crits are frequent and beefy. We're Mages, after all, and absolute power is what we do. Except against that Rogue last night--the one who seemed to be able to pop Cloak of Shadows every 3 seconds or so and never took full damage from anything even though armor-wise, he only seemed to be sporting some kind of ninja mask and a black jumpsuit of dubious fire-retardant value. No, against that particular Rogue, our absolute power amounted to having three of our spells resisted in a row, followed by us blinking away in abject horror, weeping like a child. That's right: fear Mages. We're powerful sorcerers, channeling the profound and unparalleled might of the arcane...unless you resist our spells, in which case we're just guys in dresses waving sticks. Feel free to jab us with something sharp.


Once upon a time, your Mage stumbled blearily out into Azeroth and cast his first Fireball at a kobold or a wolf or something. Then a bunch of other stuff happened, and now you're level 70, and you just bought your flying mount and used it to see how far up you could go before your graphics card stopped rendering the ground. After you screw around a bit, maybe quest out Netherstorm, run Shadow Labyrinth a few times and learn to hate the Blackheart fight, you may find yourself wondering what's next for your green and blue-clad wizard. Perhaps...another color entirely? Wandering aimlessly about Shattrath one day, you notice a fellow spell-slinger clad in a robe you've never seen before. Inspecting her, you are shocked to see the name of the robe is written not in green...or even blue...but purple.

Asking where such a treasure might be obtained, you learn a name that will consume your waking thoughts and haunt your dreams: Karazhan.

Your guild, you learn, frequents the haunted castle that bears this name, and would be happy to take you along...if you can be of some use to them within its shadowed walls. Your current hodgepodge of mismatched quest rewards and 5-man drops simply won't cut it. You must improve yourself, and quickly. But how? Read on, fellow Mages, and find out.

Continue reading Arcane Brilliance: Gearing your Mage for Karazhan

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WWI '08 Panel: Gear Resets - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 17:45:00 EST
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And if current information holds, you'll be looking like one of his elves when you hit Northrend. Say goodbye to your cool-looking level 70 purple gear and say hello to starting over with greens. It'll be like reliving your junior high photo day -- or worse.

Answering a specific question about the topic of ugly, mismatched armor during the WWI Q&A session today, the developer panel gave a cheeky answer:

We ended up having a little clown action, ok, a lot of clown action in TBC. We aren't going to eliminate it, but we are going to improve it. You won't be happy 100%, but we could just solve it by making everything gray.

I think this answer is perfectly reasonable. After all, it gives you an incentive to keep going for better gear: embarrassment.

However, on the positive side, Blizzard will offer more armor customization in Wrath. For example, they will make Raiding sets look different from PvP sets. For me, this means if I spy someone wearing a clear-cut PvP getup, I'm going to get the heck outta Dodge lickety split.

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WWI '08 Panel: Rogues - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 17:30:00 EST
The big news from WWI so far for rogues is focused around two things: picking up a little AE damage and getting more use out of Sap. Both hints came from Tom Chilton during this morning's WWI dev panel, when he spoke to a large swath of class changes and balance issues.

The inspiration for the new area effect damage ability comes from Warcraft's Wardens -- Fan of Knives. As part of Blizzard's attempt to bring the lore and history of the game forward, they look to previous abilities and lore to inform current changes. Fan of Knives seemed like a natural ability to help give rogues a little extra AE damage. While Chilton cautions us not to expect Rogues to become the kings of AE damage...this will may be a welcome addition to our bags of tricks. It could certainly help in a pinch, but we'll have to see how it's going to meld with crowd control powers.

Where Rogues should feel some relief is the additional consideration given to Sap. Chilton's looking for Sap to play a greater role in crowd control strategies, and having it apply to more mobs. To paraphrase, Sap's going to apply to anything with a skull, and a brain to then rattle around inside of it. We may see ourselves sapping dogs, cats, bears, and. . .well anything with a brain inside a skull. So maybe not oozes quite yet - we're just going to have to satisfy ourselves with killing those.

I think a lot of the Rogue information we're curious about will actually come up during tomorrow's PvP section, since it's the Rogue's Arena capabilities that's seen so much forum action lately. Like Mages, we just haven't gotten the same amount of screen time as Death Knights or Shamans. Still, here's hoping we see more soon.

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Select group buffs going raid wide in Wrath - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 17:00:00 EST
Between the Shaman portion of the Class Panel and the Q&A session at WWI08, raiders have some great news (in my opinion). If you're a reader of Hybrid Theory, a few weeks back I discussed the possibility (and necessity) of certain group buffs becoming raid buffs. The devs have confirmed that yes, many of these things are becoming raid buffs.

The examples given were Totems and Unleashed Rage from Shaman, and Battle Shout for Warriors. This will greatly lower the need to stack Shaman so every single party of your raid has totems, but there's still the Bloodlust/Heroism issue. Taking 4-6 Shaman for Heroism is the single largest buff to your DPS that you can supply, so we'll see what happens. Either way, this is fantastic news, and something that has been sorely needed. Figuring out class balance for a raid can be fun, but not when your determining factor over who gets cut is "who won't fit in the Windfury group?"

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WWI '08 Panel: Warlock - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 16:30:00 EST

Warlocks got a few mentions at this morning's WWI class panel, not only with confirmation of some previously mentioned spells in the form of Demon Form and the Demonic Circle, but in relation to the Mage, confirming the eternal struggle that seems to go on between the two classes. Still, what these mentioned changes do for the class, I believe, is mostly unclear.

Demon Form and Damage

Demon Form, otherwise known as Illidan form to the dev team, is something that a lot of Warlocks having been asking for for quite some time. Admittedly, it's pretty cool. Being able to morph into a Demon and gaining temporary access to a whole new skill set to devastate the enemy with? Yeah, I can't see that not being fun. But the question remains: How will it perform?

Continue reading WWI '08 Panel: Warlock

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Two talent trees for the price of one? - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 16:00:00 EST
Ripped from the WWI Dev Q&A comes news that I think is, frankly, massively important for the future of World of Warcraft, At around 7:30 central european summer time, the following question and answer exchange tried to slip under the radar:

"7:34pm CEST: Q: Any plans to be able to switch between Talent specs easier?
A: We are working on a plan to give players access to two Talent specs. More details in the future."

Reread that. Because every time I read that passage, with a prot spec warrior as my main, I get ludicrously giddy. Two specs? Access to two specs? You mean I can go tank spec, and then switch to fury? Can I do this in an instance? If yes, holy heck.

The viability gets even more ridiculous for hybrid classes. Imagine if you arrive at a raid on your elemental shaman, only to discover that the raid is down a healer. You no longer have to go respec. You just throw on your healing gear (and with Universal Spellpower coming, you might not even have to switch gear) and you're good to go. Need another tank for one particular boss? The healing paladin has you covered. The flexibility for raiding this would allow is almost impossible to underestimate, and the freedom it brings for people to grind, quest, PvP or raid depending on what they want to do becomes mind-numbing. You would no longer have to worry as much about balancing all class' specs for PvP, PvE and soloing, since each character could have two specs to help them make the transition easier. "Well, I need to grind some primal ice for my Northern Hammer of Ragnarok, so I'll just switch to retribution for a few hours."

Of course, we have no idea what will actually be implemented beyond the statement that players will be given access to two Talent specs. How will they be given this access? How often can you switch between them? Is there a fee, or do you have to find a talent trainer for the switch? How on the fly is it, exactly? But it's still incredibly exciting news.

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WWI '08 Panel: Death Knight - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:40:00 EST
Understandably, everyone is begging to know more about the Death Knight class. At WWI, the Blizzard developers discussed the class in depth at both the main Development panel as well as at the Q&A panel. So you don't have to go fishing everywhere to find what you want to know, here's a roundup of new information about Death Knights from WWI so far.

Starting Area

The Death Knight starting area will be an extended area in Northern Plaguelands. The developers feel strongly about keeping people interested in playing in the Old World so they are creating this new zone. I personally hate every zone that has the word "plague" associated with it. Admittedly, I didn't reach either of the current Plaguelands until after I'd upgraded to The Burning Crusade, which meant I really had no time for grinding there since Outland awaited alluringly. However, it will be interesting to see if they make changes to the existing Western and Eastern Plaguelands along with adding content to the North to make these areas more interesting to players -- be they Death Knights or not.

Continue reading WWI '08 Panel: Death Knight

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WoW Insider Show special WWI '08 edition going live - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:25:00 EST


A special Worldwide Invitational edition of the WoW Insider Show is about to go live over on WoW Radio in just a few minutes -- myself, John "BigBearButt" Patricelli, Matthew Rossi, and Duncor from WoW Radio will be live on the air talking about all the announcements we heard at WWI '08 this afternoon, and we'll be speaking live with Turpster all the way from the convention in Paris about what he's seen. Subjects of discussion will include Diablo 3, everything we heard at the two dev panels today (Titan's Grip! Two talent trees! Pet talent trees!), as well as all the other news coming out of WWI.

We're also chatting live on IRC with players and listeners -- join us in the #wowradio channel at irc.mmoirc.com. And you can email us any questions you have (for us or Turpster in Paris), at theshow@wowinsider.com. Should be a great show. Come join us right now over on the WoW Radio website.

Update: Show's over and we covered pretty much everything (and got some good info from Turpster). Keep an eye on the site -- there will be a recording posted on WoW Radio later this weekend and on WoW Insider next week. And if you missed the show, you can always subscribe to it in iTunes and get the new one whenever it comes out.

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The state of WoW on Linux - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:15:00 EST
During the dev panel a few minutes ago, Tom Chilton told us something interesting about playing World of Warcraft on the Linux platform -- Blizzard has actually had it working. For "compatibility purposes," they apparently had an internal build of the game that worked on Linux. But unfortunately for Linux users, they have no plans at all to bring the final game out on the system. They didn't expound much more than that, but of course we can imagine all kinds of reasons they'd hesitate to release a Linux version, first and foremost being that in terms of gamers on the platform, the marketshare just isn't there.

Of course, this doesn't mean you can't ever play WoW on Linux, it just means you can't do so off the shelf. WoWWiki has some really great information on how to play WoW with WINE (which just, by the way, reached a 1.1.0 release, and allows you to play Windows programs on other platforms). Transgaming's Cedega is also supposed to work with World of Warcraft (and you probably won't get banned), and Codeweaver's CrossOver also is approved to work with World of Warcraft on Linux.

So there are ways to play it, but you might have to do some tweaking. Still, we wish they'd told us more about why they don't want to release the client they builtt

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The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Titan's Grip! - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 15:00:00 EST

Titan's Grip is confirmed -- dual wielding 2h weapons. Rossi will love that. -
Michael Gray from WoW Insider's coverage of the WWI dev panel.

To my mind, the news from the Worldwide Invitational is big enough to push back our discussion of DPS gear for the starter raider. (We most certainly will talk more about it, believe me.) Several statements from the invitational need discussion for us warriors, I think, especially worth considering how they may well change the design philosophy of the class.

Also, yay, Diablo III. It's especially appropriate that we get the news about Titan's Grip on the same day as we get our spiritual forefathers, the barbarian class, back. So, you may ask, what exactly was said about warriors that was interesting?

Warrior

  • Wanted to make the class feel more like Warcraft III -- put the Bladestorm Shockwave in, and tweaked Arms and Protection.
  • Shockwave will help with Prot damage problem
  • Titan's Grip is confirmed -- dual wielding 2h weapons.

Continue reading The Care and Feeding of Warriors: Titan's Grip!

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WWI '08 Panel: Mage - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 14:00:00 EST
Well. At first, it didn't seem to me like Tom Chilton had as much news for Mages at the first WWI dev panel as he did for other classes, but one of the Q&A dialogues did reveal a nice vision for our future.

The most common news being reported, of course, is the new "bolt" spell -- the Frostfire bolt. This is a direct damage nuke that's a mix of "fire" and "ice" damage types, and will help circumvent the resistances of certain bosses who have an affinity for an element. Eh. I mean, that's great and all, but it doesn't really speak to any retooling or massive re-vamp at the ways Mages need help.

However, during the Q&A, one of the audience members was a lot more pointed. Now that everyone seems to have their own spammable crowd control, he askes, what's being done to bring Mages back to a more unique role?

The answer was awesome. Simply put, if everyone's doing crowd control, then Mages are going to be buffed in their hallmark: raw, unadulterated damage. Especially since Seed of Corruption shines against our AE damage ability, Chilton says we should expect to see our overall damage output increased.

Does this mean Mages will become the epitome of WoW DPS? Mm, I'm not holding my breath - but at least in terms of putting us back in a vital, noticeable role, the future looks hopeful. Stay tuned as we continue to cover the WWI event, and try and bring the best (and worst) news available.

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WWI '08 Panel: Paladin - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 13:30:00 EST
There weren't very many exciting things for Paladins at the Worldwide Invitational Panel earlier today, and this reflects the development we've seen leak out from the Wrath of the Lich King Alpha. The sneak peek of the Alpha showed that while most classes have proposed talents and abilities mapped out, there's still very little work done for Paladins. This doesn't mean Blizzard isn't thinking about the class, though. In fact, from the few things they've mentioned, it looks like they're moving in the right direction.

  • Confirming something the Paladin community has known for quite some time now -- Retribution itemization blows is very poor. They're moving itemization for Retribution Paladins to share items with Death Knights and Warriors. This means future Retribution items will have no Intellect on them... could this herald some Strength as mana mechanic?
  • Hand of Purity is a new "reactive healing" spell for Paladins, something that the oft-maligned 'two-button healers' sorely need. It will work as a clutch Prayer of Mending-type spell. Will it be instant cast? As the two staple heals of a Paladin unenviably have casting times, maybe this new spell will actually be something to thank the Light for. Having another healing spell to cast during encounters should be a real blessing.
  • Speaking of blessings, overlapping Blessings have always been a problem with Paladin support, with active Blessings like Blessing of Freedom and Protection overwriting passive Blessings already on the target like Blessing of Kings. Blizzard plans to allow these spells to be non-exclusive and rename them. Not much, but it definitely addresses existing issues.
These changes aren't as exciting as a Warlock's Demon Form (or Illidanform, as Blizzard staffers jokingly call it), or a Warrior's Titan's Grip, the changes show that Blizzard knows what's wrong with the class and is serious about fixing it. So while there hasn't been any major news like a new tanking tree for Hunters or greater Arena viability for Priests, we're hoping to see more exciting stuff for Paladins!
WoW Insider is on the ground in Paris at the Blizzard Invitational bringing you the big announcements and latest Wrath news as it happens. Check out our latest coverage!

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WWI '08 Panel: Druid (UPDATED) - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 13:00:00 EST
While there isn't quite as much shocking news for those of us in the furry set as there was for our totem-spouting Earth brothers, there's still enough information to get us excited about our futures in Wrath of the Lich King.

I have to admit that I was a little surprised to hear Tom Chilton say in the first WWI dev panel that Blizzard isn't planning any Cyclone changes. When an audience member asked if there would be any alterations for Cyclone, Chilton answered in a pretty clear, unambiguous manner: Nope. But he did give us some explanation for it.

Continue reading WWI '08 Panel: Druid (UPDATED)

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WWI '08 Notes from the WoW Q&A Dev Panel - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 12:20:00 EST


The Q&A panel from the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational is about to begin. We'll be bringing you live updates on the latest tidbits and bombshells the devs have in store for us. Check after the jump for a minute by minute description of what's being asked and revealed.

Continue reading WWI '08 Notes from the WoW Q&A Dev Panel

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WoW Moviewatch: Epic Raids - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 12:10:00 EST

While I'm aware that anything I blog today will be dwarfed by the vast amount of WWI news that our amazing team of bloggers are posting, I still want to give it a shot! That's why I saved a new video by Oxhorn just for today. While he usually has tidbits and audio from his machinima productions up on his blog and website, he's been unusually silent with this one. However, you can find the lyrics on the video page.

Epic Raids is a parody of the intro to a television show that aired before a lot of us were born, Happy Days. However, its age never made it any less fantastic. The entire gang of bosses made it into the intro, as well as some campy goodness from raiding adventures. As an aside, am I the only one that wants to see Oxhorn occasionally use other singers for his songs?

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

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WWI '08 Panel: Hunters - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 11:30:00 EST

The first WoW panel has come and gone at the Worldwide Invitational. It was focused on class abilities in WoTLK, and there was some absolutely juicy stuff, especially for Hunters. As the proud player of a 70 Hunter, I'm feeling amazingly awesome about my class right now. Two of the biggest, most universal Hunter complaints have not only been answered, but answered in a way that I think a lot of Hunter players are going to be incredibly excited about.

Steady Shot Clipping

First up, it looks like Shot Rotations as we know them will soon become a thing of the past, or at least be incredibly simplified, as Steady Shots will no longer clip Auto Shots. This is actually an issue that has gained some blue post love in the past, but it's nice to see it so directly confronted and dealt with.

There may still be a shot rotation of a type for fitting in Arcane Shot and various stings, but it looks like Hunter DPS will no longer be a complicated dance of weapon speed, haste rating, macros, and server latency. That in itself is amazing news.

Pet Talent Trees and Uniqueness

One of the other major complaints of Hunters is the lack of pet diversity. It is generally expected that if you are min-maxing, you will go for a Cat, Ravager, or Scorpid and nothing else, because they are the only pet families that have the right combination of ability and DPS to get their jobs done. Some pet classes, like Sporebats, languished due to a complete lack of useful family skills.

Continue reading WWI '08 Panel: Hunters

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WWI '08 Panel: Priest - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 11:00:00 EST

Before I begin, if you haven't seen our notes from the class discussion Dev Panel at the Worldwide Invitational, you should go take a look. Skip down to the Priest section, look it over, and come on back. I'll wait here for you, okay? Okay, go. Are you back now? Good.

We knew of the existence of the three spells Chilton discussed for quite awhile now, but the confirmation is nice, especially since there's no need to dance around the 'it might not be real, oh no' bit. The three spells I refer to are Divine Hymn, Guardian Spirit, and Dispersion. The stated goal of these abilities is to solidify the role of the current Priest specs. I can definitely agree with that on the part of Divine Hymn and Guardian Spirit, but not so much Dispersion. That doesn't mean Dispersion is a bad ability for what it does, it just doesn't reinforce the role of a Shadow Priest necessarily.

Continue reading WWI '08 Panel: Priest

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WWI streaming reliability disappoints - Sat, 28 Jun 2008 10:30:00 EST
It's not like we've been awake since the wee hours waiting for a big announcement or anything. And it's certainly not like there was a huge dev panel with Tom Chilton, whose every word we hung on about class changes. But as your intrepid WoW Insider staff huddles around the news room viewers to get you the latest information from the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational, we're encountering the same problem as everyone else. The streaming live feed offered by Octoshape and Blizzard is kind of letting us down.

I suppose some of the technical difficulties are unavoidable. I have to assume the technology is pretty complicated. But the problems range from audio and video randomly cutting out, to Octoshape's viewing slots being filled by too many users. This is a little surprising, since Octoshape had good performance for Blizzcon and even GotFrag. Just as frustrating, the Octoshape web site doesn't have any information about what was going wrong.

On the other hand, since Tom Chilton stepped off stage, the stream has been a lot more reliable. They've either fixed the problems, or the number of viewers has stepped down since the WoW discussion has ended. Here's hoping the better performance lasts.

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