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Matthew Rossi

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Matthew Rossi is not a figment of your imagination. Matthew Rossi does not live in Edmonton, AB, in the cold and storied northlands of Canada. Matthew Rossi is not a large silithid. It's possible that this bio is not entirely accurate.

Warlords of Draenor: Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas on healing in dungeons

Dungeons can be tricky to balance. Too easy, and everything turns into a 'go go go' zergdown. Too hard, and no one wants to run them. This is of course subject to change as gear and skill and familiarity all increase, of course. But it's a topic that Ion Hazzikostas recently took up on the forums. One of the things people have been concerned about is the change to how healing works, and Ion discussed it and why they made the changes. Basically, it came down to the idea that with mana regen effectively not a factor in Mists, the only way to kill players in raids was with massive spikes of damage that required immediate reaction from healers to survive.
Our goal is not to make healing more difficult. Note that nowhere in the above did I say that a problem with Mists healing is that it was too "easy." We want to slow down the pace a bit, and for the challenge in healing to lie more in making decisions about spell usage and targeting, and less in twitch-reaction and sustaining a DPS-style rotation. This also means that the cost of a mistake is not a dead player, but rather a more injured one, giving you a chance to fix your error.
So what does this have to do with dungeon tuning? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Dungeons are being tested on the beta now (I've recently gotten to run Auchindoun and Shadowmoon Burial Grounds) and when they're tested, your level is adjusted to the bare minimum necessary to run said dungeons. This of course means that players are testing the content at its lowest possible threshold, because it has to function for players in the minimum gear to get into the door. And this leads to issues with healing, because the dungeons aren't final yet. It's an interesting job, beta testing. Often, stuff doesn't work - that's why you test it.

We've reproduced Watcher's post in full after the cut. For the most part, I'm interested to see if Blizzard actually succeeds with their goal of slowing down healing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: How many raid tiers?

Thinking about how many raid tiers Warlords may have based on this interview with Tom Chilton, and one of the things that interests me there is the comparison to other expansions. To put it in perspective, Burning Crusade saw four distinct raiding tiers (although there was some muddling with 10 and 25 man raid sizes), Wrath of the Lich King had four as well (the Naxx/Sarth/Maly tier, the Ulduar tier, Trial of the Crusader and ICC/Ruby Sanctum) and Cataclysm saw three (BWD/Bastion, Firelands, Dragon Soul) as did Mists (Mogu'shan/Heart of Fear/Terrace, Throne of Thunder, and Siege). So going with a two raid structure will either mean a shorter expansion this time around, or it will mean more time spent in each raid overall.

In some cases this could be to the good - I still feel that Ulduar didn't get the chance to really breathe as a raid. It's also true that fewer raid tiers doesn't necessarily mean fewer raids as a whole - lately the opening raid tier has two or three raids to start off. If that was continued for the second raid tier, we could have six raids by the end of the expansion, just not over as many tiers. Still, it's an interesting statement. Why would we only have two raid tiers? Is it because of the barber shop allowing faces to be changed?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Blackhand the Destroyer

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

There are no spoilers for Warlords of Draenor here, because we're not talking about that Blackhand. No, the Blackhand we're going to talk about today is the original, the first Warchief of the Horde, the leader of the Blackrock orcs. A raider of the Sythegore Arm and a feared wolf-rider, Blackhand was both tactically brilliant and overly fond of flattery - he rose to the position of Warchief because he possessed both the ruthless cunning necessary to lead the Horde and the ego and vanity that Gul'dan used to manipulate him. It was this strange mix in his personality, his bloodlust and desire for power yet gullibility and willingness to be misled that led him to the position of Warchief, led him onto an alien world, and ultimately led him to his death.

Blackhand was first in command of the Blackrock clan. He had three children with his mate Urukal, Griselda, Rend and Maim. Griselda's fate shows us that not all orc clans were as egalitarian as the Frostwolves. But before all of that, before he sold his children to warlock magic to make adults from them before their time, before he was Warchief, before he drank the demon blood after Grom Hellscream, Blackhand was an ambitious, cruel, and eager warrior who sought glory in battle, and his own aggrandizement.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore

Breakfast Topic: Well-Known

By the time we get to max level it feels like we're fairly well known. I'm not saying we're celebrities in Azeroth. Potentialy the average person has no idea who we are. But if you've been playing for a while, you've probably accomplished some pretty impressive things. By now I've:
  • Killed two Old Gods
  • Defeated the Firelord Ragnaros twice, the Lich King, Deathwing himself
  • Liberated Westfall twice and defeated the Defias Brotherhood in both original and new flavors
  • Assaulted Orgrimmar and defeated Garrosh Hellscream
And quest text would seem to bear that out. Kings and Warchiefs know us on sight. We're routinely tasked with the most dangerous missions imaginable. So what I wonder is this - are we celebrities? Does the average person know who these people are when we come by town? When I land on a massive dragon in the middle of Redridge because I'm on my way to Blackrock Mountain and I'm getting a friend the flight point, do people just think oh, it's that guy on his dragon or is it a big deal?

I guess I'm just wondering how jaded the average person is about all this. What are your thoughts?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Voice acting in Warlords of Draenor

There was a moment in the Warlords of Draenor beta when I realized that I was getting a quest from Frank Welker. Aka Megatron. Aka Nibbler from Futurama. Aka a million other voices. The man has 728 credits as an actor on IMDB, and here he is, doing a voice in the Warlords beta. Specifically, Reshad the storekeeper. See, they recently added a ton of voice acting to the beta - pretty much every character you interact with has significant voice work put into it, and for the most part it's frankly stunning. I'm not trying to exaggerate here, but the difference between this expansion and, as an example, Lady Sindragosa's Betraaaaaaaaays you dialogue is night and day.

Heck, just pop over to Frostfire Ridge at level 90, or run through the Tanaan Jungle opening, and you'll hear a variety of voice actors, more so than World of Warcraft has ever boasted.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

The Queue: Spinosaurus was aquatic

Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

That's right, more dinosaurs. Why? Because I love dinosaurs, and also because we have news about Spinosaurus, one of the most famous predatory dinosaurs and also one of the largest predators. Specifically, a new skeletal reconstruction based on fossils found in Morocco in 2008. This is a big deal because before that, we didn't have much at all for Spinosaurus, since the original fossils were destroyed during World War II by Allied bombing. The idea that the Spinosaurus was aquatic isn't a new one - the shape of its teeth and molecular analysis of the fossils suggested a marine diet - but the skeletal reconstruction gives new, physical evidence to support the idea.

At up to twenty tons, Spinosaurus is definitely one of if not the largest predatory dinosaur ever, and it's suggested that it survived by hunting and eating sharks. With teeth like the ones it had (conical, for catching fish) it definitely specialized in fish eating. Fifteen meters long, twenty tons, this was a massive animal all told.

Jpec07 asks:
How likely is it that the in-game face re-customization feature will make it to live from beta?

I only ask because some forum posts have been met with skepticism.

Pretty likely, all told. Pretty darn likely. It's coded, it's in the beta, at this point taking it out is reversing a solid amount of work that served to include it. It's possible, but not very likely, that they would do that. Also, we have the following from Rygarius.


So I'd say that's pretty much a done deal. I'm 95% sure.

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Filed under: The Queue

Breakfast Topic: I could buy Westfall

Been messing around on a lowbie alt recently when I hit Westfall, and started doing the quests. I soon noticed that people would kill each other for a few copper pieces there, and then it occurred to me that my lowly level 16 character had something like fifty gold on her. And then I realized that, if a human life was worth a few copper pieces, my fifty gold made me an economic titan in Westfall. If not for the game not allowing it, I could easily completely sabotage the Defias by simply offering a silver piece to every able bodied adult I met in tne entirety of Westfall.

And then I remembered my main, who is toting around tens of thousands of gold. (And heck, that's nothing, we all know people who are actually gold capped) and it occurred to me that if said character came to Westfall and gave every single NPC who isn't hostile to him a gold piece, he'd still have most of his vast forture, and every single one of those people would be wealthy by Westfall's standards. Of course, they'd all probably immediately get robbed by the Defias. And that led me to consider - why can't I just buy Westfall? Fix up Sentinel Hill garrison style, put everyone to work on civic improvements and irrigation systems, offer every able bodied recruit a job in the militia hunting down the Defias. It would probably cost me less than a thousand gold to completely fix up the place.

Alas, it is not to be. Westfall languishes forever in the grip of the Cataclysm revamp. Still, I wish I could build a garrison anywhere in Azeroth and fix it up. How about you? Would you stick a garrison near Razor Hill? Somewhere in Azshara? Out in the Blasted Lands?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Brunch Topic: What feature concerns you most?

Now that we know that the new character models will be accompanied by the ability to change your face via the barber shop, it's safe to say that one of the new features that has been concerning some players has been addressed. I think it's a pretty solid compromise, but it does have me wondering. Now that that's dealt with, what feature concerns do players have now? For me, it's undoubtedly the way garrisons and professions interact - I'm still not sure how I'm going to deal with them. It seems like I'd be better off just going with two crafting professions on my main and then having one of my alts be my gathering guy, especially with the garrison working to provide materials.

But what about you? Maybe you're still unsure of the events scattered throughout Pandaria, or you're unsure of how outposts will work. Anyway, here's a slightly late topic for you to discuss, and a comment thread for you to discuss it in. Have at, my friends.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Face Re-customization via Barber Shop

There's been a lot of discussion of the new character models and people being afraid they won't like their character's face after they come in. Well, it appears Blizzard has been listening, because on the beta you can recustomize your character's face at the barber shop, meaning that you can now change your face, hair style, hair color and facial hair at the barber, and all for in-game gold. Of course it's the beta, things can change, don't count on this feature until it makes it live. But it does seem a pretty good way for Blizzard to address the concerns people have had that they may not like their characters after the model changes.

It works exactly as the barber shop does now - you go in, sit down, get the menu and make your changes. You click through the available facial options with the right and left arrows. No mess, no fuss. Hopefully it'll make it live to the thunderous applause of those who were worried.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Lantresor of the Burning Blade

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

He is not the result of Gul'dan's breeding experiments.

He is not orc, nor is he draenei. No, he is Lantresor, and he is a half-orc blademaster of draenei descent. Formerly one of the Burning Blade, his story straddles two worlds, and in its wake embodies both the glories and the foibles of the world of his birth. Not welcome among either of his peoples, he sought his own path, his own destiny. And we have seen it unfold in different ways, at different times.

Lantresor of the Blade is a blademaster. This is his story.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor