Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision, took the stage at the All Things Digital conference, and spoke a little more about the Activision Blizzard deal.
Kotick fesses up that a lot of the merger was about Blizzard's people. While a pessimist might read this as "we can't compete with them, so join 'em," what I see is a deep level of respect for Blizzard and its creation. Kotick said, "the merger is really our mechanism to get access to Blizzard's talent, capability and infrastructure." This isn't really a surprise, and reinforces what Kotick's had to say about being considerate of Blizzard's culture.
As has been said before, Kotick doesn't seem like a bad guy. What he's doing is acknowledging the good work Blizzard's done in the past. He straight out says that, "I've never seen anything quite like World of Warcraft, not just as a gaming experience, but as a social experience, as a business."
That's not the kind of sentiment issued by someone who doesn't like what they just bought (Ed: But would someone who just spent $18.8 billion on anything not like it?). While Kotick doesn't say directly much about the future of Blizzard, things are still looking good for our favorite Blue team.
If you're asking me: no. "Restoration," "Holy," and "Protection" are all reused in a few different talent trees, and for both of those, while the talents are different, the intent is the same. "Frost," for both Mages and Death Knights, will have the same aim as well, as far as we've been told so far -- both classes will aim for DPS in those trees, with extra consideration given to crowd control and slow debuffs. In fact, depending on exactly how the Death Knight's talents work, the "Frost" title might help newer players understand the tree a little better anyway, especially if they've played with a Frost Mage before.
Not that people don't have ideas -- "Ice" (yes, Ice, baby), "Chill" and "Really, really cold stuff" are all names being thrown around on the forums. But Blizzard will probably stick with "Frost" -- no reason to change it up, especially if the abilities line up with the Mage tree as much as we expect them to.
Well Fed Buff serves up tasty dishes to boost your HP, stats and appetite - with that special WoW twist, of course.
Your friends will stand in awe of your mage-ly prowess when you conjure up these delectable Conjured Croissants. Not only do these morsels add a hefty 7500 calories hp to your heroic hulk, but their 3-second 10-minute cast time and low mats requirement means you can conjure them up in at a moment's notice - all while projecting the nonchalant air of a true master of the elements. Our version comes with a special twist: a gooey center of dark chocolate. Roll up this simple, two-ingredient version of pain au chocolat for a treat that impresses.
One caveat: Conjured items disappear if logged out for more than 15 minutes. Don't AFK, or you may find yourself the only one in the group stuck using bandages (you did level your First Aid skill, didn't you?).
To be completely objective here, we should say that we don't really know who your candidate of choice is -- unfortunately, we have no idea if Stevens' incumbent opponent, Deborah Heinrich, is a WoW player or not. For all we know maybe she, too, has wandered Azeroth with the rest of us. If that's indeed the case, you Connecticutians will have to make your choice based on something else. Politics, we guess. Not really our thing.
But we do know this: the local press up there should be asking the tough questions. Does Heinrich, in fact, play WoW? And if so, what class and level are the candidates? And the most important question for both: Horde or Alliance? If the Shore Line Times can't find out, maybe we'll have to put our own 15 Minutes of Fame feature on the trail. If these potential State Representatives can't bring down Hogger, then why would we want them running a whole state?
Here's one more reason to make it out to Paris on June 28th and 29th this year: Blizzard's announced a 3v3 World of Warcraft Tournament. It's even open to most residents of the US, so if you're an American arena junkie with 2 friends planning a European vacation, here's your chance to participate in the contests. You will, of course, be competing for prizes: A Frostmourne replica for first place, a Logitech G51 Surround Sound Speaker System for 2nd place, and a free year of WoW for 3rd place. You can check out the complete information here.
As a reminder, those extra tickets we told you about are now on sale, so if you were planning to buy some, now is your chance. It'll set you back 70 euros (which is currently $108.53 in US dollars), but for everything you'll get, the price is probably worth it. If you still need a little convincing of that, check out our previous World Wide Invitational coverage.
Lots of classes are very much "point-and-click" when it comes to battle -- you just pick your target and start using special abilities. The artistry of playing your class usually has to do more with the particular order you use these abilities in than it does with actual positioning and usage of the space around you (with the exception of raiding boss battles which require people to be standing in the right place at the right time).
More than any other class, however, hunters use space itself as a weapon. For us, the usage of space is so much more than just "getting in close" or "keeping a safe distance." Our traps, combined with our totally different abilities depending on how close we are, mean that our strategy completely changes depending on the spacial circumstances we help to create.
Thori'dal, as you probably know by now, shoots its own ammunition, which means that not only did Stefang win a nice bow, but he now has an extra bag slot (something all Hunters probably want even more than a legendary weapon). There's no word on how the giveaway went down (we're guessing DKP, and if Stefang did anything less than cash in everything he had, he got this thing for a bargain), but grats to both him and Last Resort for a very, very nice piece of loot.
Totem Talk: Into Medivh's Tower and beyond - Thu, 29 May 2008 16:00:00 EST When you finally hit 70, and the swirl of light dies down around your character (I always seem to be fighting something when this happens) you step into what some people call 'Endgame'.
Yes, I call it endgame too. So I should have said "What I call 'Endgame'."
Anyway, last night while running around trying not to be killed by Thaladred it occurred to me that the fight demands a lot out of a shaman. Constant group movement, kiting, proper totem placement (gotta get that Tremor Totem up near the Sanguinar tank) and replacement makes this a very demanding fight for a shaman. That's not a bad thing... it's never boring... but it got me to start thinking about shamans and their roles in raids.
Depending on your spec, your shaman will provide the role of ranged DPS, melee DPS or dedicated healing to any raid you're a part of. But abilities like Bloodlust/Heroism, the special abilities of the shocks and the various totem buffs and group utility auras (fire resistance, poison and disease cleanse, temporary tanking, temporary high DPS) make any shaman more than their raid defined role. Shamans are utility players to a degree, they can almost anything (with the exception of tanking) at varying levels of performance depending on spec. An enhancement shaman can throw an emergency heal but you wouldn't want him main healing your first Kalecgos attempt. If it's desperately necessary to apply every last ounce of DPS and heals are solid a resto shaman can fire off a few reasonable lightning bolts but you're not likely to ask him to be your main source of DPS unless he or she way outgears the run. Between this ability to vary their own abilities and the usefulness of their various class features, shamans often find themselves being asked to do unique or interesting things as they move into raiding.
Let's discuss how you can prepare for 10 and 25 man raids and what you'll find there.
I have these questions about some of the random things I find in World of Warcraft. One the one hand, I'm intensely curious as to the answer to these questions. On the other hand, I'm really not sure I want to know.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of playing the game sometimes is imagining what it is that is really going on behind the scenes. With an imagination like mine, this can sometimes lead to really interesting ideas as to just how things work.
While some of the screenshots won't be recognizable or meaningful to new StarCraft initiates, most of the action is generally recognizable (in a general sense) to a veteran RTS player. You can definitely get an overall sense of troops, constructed bases, and how the fight might progress if it were animated.
These new screenshots feature the Banelings, which sound like pretty fierce critters in their own right. Banelings -- a "morph" of the zergling -- are chemically volatile little buggers who spend their lives angry, temperamental, and ready to explode at any given time. Through tender loving care, Zerg Queens have been able to engineer the banelings in such a way that they'll explode exactly when needed. Presumably, "when needed" means "all over your troops." You can see the Baneling's idle animation on their feature page on the official site. They pump and undulate, and really do look like something that's over-filled and ready to pop given a moment's notice. Kind of gross, really.
Most of the details about Starcraft II will come "closer to release date," but it's still pretty tantalizing to get a first look at notable, trademark troops.
Ever get lonely sitting at your computer doing all those wonderfully redundant dailies? Need someone cute and cuddly to pass the time with? Use this easy to learn, but hard to master method to bring your favorite in-game companion or NPC into the real world. Here is what you will need:
While some of the parts are amusing, most are often too literal. However, I already see an improvement over the first TMV Hell that was released almost three months ago. Given how many songs there are out there just begging to be mocked, RaffyTaffy will have plenty for new material in the future!
Arena Junkies suffers virus attack - Thu, 29 May 2008 11:00:00 EST Arena Junkies is one of the most reputable online sources for. . .arena junkies. Its posters are numbered predominately among the 2000+ Arena Rated teams, and thus the site serves as a key resource for arena veterans and up-and-comers alike. Arena Junkies hosts dozens of forums, macros, strategies, and example Arena-centric Talent builds. Arena Junkies is also an official part of the Blizzard Fan Site Program. Oh, and they've got their own T-Shirts.
Which is why it can be so troubling to see they've been attacked by one of Vaneras's malicious "eVillains." The eVillain posted a "malicious applet" in their Interface forums, planting a virus which apparently spread to the hosting server itself. Naxos warns forum-goers that if any Junkie clicked on the link responsible for the attack, he or she should be careful that their system isn't under any danger. With the rising number of keyloggers and account theft, that kind of precaution is starting to get common for even the most casual WoW player.
Naxos definitely seems to have a handle on the problem, though. Arena Junkies reverted to its last-saved backup, from very early that morning, and now Arena Junkies is back to running smoothly. According to Naxos, the virus itself was a variation of the i-worm/stration virus. Links to the virus have, understandably, been removed.
It's unclear whether this attack was an attack of opportunity, or if someone has it out for the Arena Junkies. As Bio puts it: "He prob sucks at the arena."
As promised, SK Gaming have just released their video of their world-first kill of Kil'jaeden. They call this fight "all about absolute perfection in terms of execution," and "definitely the hardest boss ever made and an impressive final boss." Of course, this video contains full spoilers for the KJ fight. I'm just going to assume SK's site will go down, so I'm embedding it from Filefront above, and linking to WarcraftMovies if you want to download it. It's shot from five points of view, though SK promises that it is not "messy" -- hemo rogue, resto shaman, enhancement shaman, and two different destro warlocks.
And since people are always curious, the music used in the video is, according to SK:
Airbase - Ocean Realm
Alex M.O.R.P.H. - Walk the Edge (B2B Woody Van Eyden Mix)
To download in glorious 1680x1050 WMV, head on over to WarcraftMovies (edit: apparently a WCM premium account is required to download the full-res version). An H.264 version is due in a few days.
Cremation is an inexpensive, easy, and environmentally friendly method to dispose of human remains. However, there comes a point when cremation should not be considered as an option. That point would be when the deceased is level 70 and knows how to summon demons from the Twisting Nether. Augos of <Crucible> on Ravenholdt looks nonplussed by the whole situation -- but then again, I doubt any facial expression is going to translate to that Voidheart Crown.
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. We prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. And please, no more sunsets.
Let's give a quick timeline on what's happened with respect to Kil'jaeden (as a boss) so far in WoW. When patch 2.4 went live, on March 25th (26th in Europe), the Sunwell Plateau, the 25-player raid of which KJ is the last boss, was opened, but several "magical gates" were interposed between would-be KJ-killers and the demon himself. The last of these gates, giving access to KJ, was opened on May 20th/21st. SK Gaming got the world-first kill on him on the 24th, and Method and Nihilum quickly followed; and Deus Vox got the US first on the 27th, with Exodus following the day after (thanks, hyos). Nobody else has killed him, as far as I (and WowJutsu) know.
That may or may not be about to change, due to a new hotfix just implemented last night. According to Lead Encounter Designer Daelo, a change has been made to KJ's Soul Flay ability. It now uses "a much simpler rule" to determine its target: the target of Soul Flay is the player with highest threat against KJ (typically the main tank, I would think). Daelo notes that this is not intended to make the encounter easier nor mor difficult, but rather to produce "a more consistent, more understandable, and more enjoyable Kil'jaeden fight." Folks who have done this fight, do you think this is a good description of the change? Or is it a nerf, in the long tradition of nerfing raid bosses?
Breakfast Topic: The leveling curve (and bending it) - Thu, 29 May 2008 08:00:00 EST This forum thread talks about a person who dinged 70 while still back in Nagrand, and while I didn't finish off the run to 70 that early (he probably did lots and lots of instances), it is possible to bend the leveling curve a little bit, especially in Outland, where there are so many quests to go around.
So how far have you bent the leveling curve? Early on, it's pretty clear where to go to level up -- there are only a few areas you can go into at each level, and while there are definitely more quests than you need to do (especially in the newer Dustwallow Marsh content), things are pretty laid out for you. In Outland, though, things get a little squished -- Blizzard really went overboard with quests, and so it's possible now to hit the last level without ever seeing one or two of the zones.
Fortunately, any XP that you would have gotten at 70 is translated back into gold on a quest reward, so even if you've finished early, there's still lots of reason to go back and see what's out there (and there is some must-see stuff later in the game). But how off has your leveling been? Anyone hit 70 even before Nagrand?
In my last Light and How to Swing It, I covered some good enchants for the upper part of an endgame healing paladin -- the head, shoulders, cloak, chest and bracers. Now it's time to head below the belt (har) and take care of hand, ring, leg, foot, weapon and shield enhancements. Okay, hands and rings aren't technically below the blt, but I ran out of room for them last time.
Major Healing: As a holy paladin, you're all about healing. Whether you focus on PVE or PVP, more raw plus healing is always an excellent choice. The only drawback here is that the mats are pretty pricey. 9/10 PVE, 9/10 PVP.
Blasting: It doesn't sound like a paladin enchant, but Blasting is an inexpensive alternative to Major Healing for healadins. Spell crit isn't quite as good as it used to be, due to the Illumination nerf, but it's still useful -- particularly if your gear lacks crit.
Since this column has been dominated by news of the Ferlol kind lately, I thought this week would be a good time to bring some true leafy fun into the mix.
I am still working avidly on a gearing for Karazhan list for Restoration Druids, with research and insight provided by Bellwether of 4 Haelz, with full expectations of having it ready for you to enjoy next week.
In the meantime, here is a wonderful opportunity for Treelovers to show their Bark is stronger than our Bite.
Phaelia, the mind and heart behind Resto4Life, decided that Arbor Day was the perfect time for Resto Druids to let their imaginations bloom.
Tanking for beginners - Wed, 28 May 2008 18:00:00 EST Maybe you've heard that there's a tank shortage and you've rerolled to help your buddies out. Maybe you just like the idea of one of the tanking classes and you're interested in being as valuable for groups as you can be (and in the case of two of them you don't like healing). Maybe you enjoy being in the forefront of things. For whatever reason, you've decided you want to tank.
It's not too late. You can still run. There are quite a few DPS classes, and you can even spec DPS with each of the tanks. You don't have to do this.
You still here?
Okay, don't say I didn't warn you. The positives of tanking are many: it can be fun to consider yourself as a cussing, roaring, or even holy juggernaut who can take the beating and keep the enemy focused on you. It can be challenging, and mastering that challenge can be extremely rewarding. With the right group, tanking can be a heck of a lot of fun. If you dedicate yourself to tanking and do it well, eventually you may find yourself annoying some of the most powerful and evil bosses in the game.
But tanking is a fundamentally group related activity: it consists of two major tasks and you cannot succeed at either without the support of your group. Being a tank is essentially sacrificing soloing utility and the ability to succeed at your class' other focus in order to excel at a group utility role. And of course, whenever anything bad happens... bad pull, lose aggro on a group pull, what have you... it will be your fault. It will be your fault even if it isn't. Heck, after a while you'll start taking it personally even when everyone else is amazed at how good a tank you are. Tanking seems to create a perfectionist mindset, one that measures every single moment and always wants to do better. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it is something to keep in mind.
Okay, on to the basics. There are essentially two tasks involved in tanking. Holding aggro, and surviving having it. Both of these things are impossible without group support and even group sufferance. (Long time tanks, you will find little new here, and may in fact find it to be overly simplistic, so feel free to add class specific comments or details that simply didn't fit the constraints of the post.)