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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.

Honor gain increased for resource gathering in battlegrounds

There's been a bit of discussion and consternation about how honor gains are working currently. Rygarius posted to clarify how they're working (turns out there was no bonus honor at the beginning of patch 6.0.2, which was later mistakenly hotfixed to apply bonus honor to all battlegrounds, when it was intended for random BG's only) and that fixing the hotfix error was what had caused people to mistakenly think they weren't be awarded the proper honor. In the middle of that discussion, Rygarius shared the following.

Rygarius - What's Going On With Honor?
Wanted to give a heads-up that there's a hotfix being worked on (no ETA but soon without the TM) to increase the amount of Honor gains for Arathi Basin, Deepwind Gorge, Eye of the Storm, and The Battle for Gilneas. We're changing it so Honor is awarded for every 150 resources gathered (up from Honor awarding for every 250 resources gathered).


That's an interesting change and one I approve of - one of the things I dislike about that style of BG is how they can suck you into a prolonged and pointless battle (you know you're going to lose) and people stop even trying to take and hold places. With the resource gain now more strongly tied to honor points, maybe people will be more inclined to do their best.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Hotfixes, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Class tuning hotfixes

Yes, turns out they're still at work adjusting class tuning before we go into Warlords of Draenor. Some classes saw buffs, other classes saw another round of savage nerfs. Death knights and balance druids saw some buffs, as did elemental shamans, while mages saw a 20% nerf to frostbolt's damage (rolling back a buff from October 17th) and warriors got pummeled.

A complete list of the class changes will be posted after the jump.

Read more →

Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Death Knight, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Overlooked changes

I managed to not even notice the changes to Blackfathom Deeps, Razorfen Downs or Razorfen Kraul until fairly recently. When they added quest rewards and a vendor to the Blasted Lands Iron Horde event, I didn't notice that until one of my guildmates pointed it out to me. So I guess I'm admitting to not being very observant. But it does make me wonder - what changes were you all the most surprised by with Patch 6.0.2 and its successor, 6.0.3? Thrall finally noticing he's still on Azeroth? What's been the biggest surprise change for you so far?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Artcraft continues with a look at development tools

The excellent Artcraft series continues with a look at the tools used to develop zones, as well as how the Level Design team works with Environment Artists to craft a zone's many areas and make them all seem like natural parts of an area.

Artcraft - Level Design Part 3
The environment artists make the models and textures, and the level designer sculpts and paints the terrain, places the trees, rocks, and bushes-all the while considering gameplay and both the art and design direction. A typical day for our level designers will include decisions about the overall look and feel of a zone, as well as paying finite attention to detail, like how one plant looks when placed next to another plant in the scene.


So far this has been one of my favorite Artcrafts - while it was fun to get to see the various new models for playable races, getting to see the tools that craft the World of Warcraft we experience as players is nothing short of amazing and I'm very much looking forward to part four. Just getting to read about how they vary the shade of green to bring out different elements of the zone has me super excited. Nagrand is beautiful and diverse, and we're getting to see how elements of the game we've already known are referenced and incorporated in its creation.

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

Know Your Lore: Mannoroth

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.

We talk about the great evils of the Warcraft universe - your Kil'jaeden's and Archimonde's, your Sargeras and your Old Gods - and of course there's the mortal monsters like Gul'dan, quite possibly the single most evil mortal being ever to live, or Kel'Thuzad who enslaved himself to evil so profound that his transformation into a lich was probably a palliative influence on his malevolence. But what of evil as a corrupting vector? What of an evil so profound that it is part of your blood, that can seep into the souls of an entire race? Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you - what of Mannoroth, king of the Pit Lords, master of the Annihilan?

We know little of the Annihilan. They are the pit lords, a massive and powerful species of demons recruited to serve the Legion by none other than Kil'jaeden himself. They were already a powerful part of the Legion when the War of the Ancients unfolded - Mannoroth himself was one of the Legion's elite who came through the portal to help make clear the way for Sargeras to stride forth into Azeroth, doing battle with the forces of the Kaldorei who were attempting to preserve their lives. But as to where the pit lords come from, it is as yet a mystery unsolved. What world did they originate on? What happened to it? We do not know.

What we do know is this - few races in all the cosmos can boast so powerful and corrupting an evil nature as the Annihilan. And Mannoroth was for eons first among the pit lords - the acknowledged master of his kind, the most powerful of them all. Not Brutallus, not Magtheridon, not Azgalor, but Mannoroth ruled the Annihilan on behalf of the Legion.

Read more →

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

Artcraft continues with Nagrand and level design

One of my favorite zones to just look at in The Burning Crusade was Nagrand, it was a beautiful zone with just enough strangeness to feel alien and different. Now in the latest installment of Artcraft by senior level designer Michael McInerney, we're getting a look at how Blizzard's level designers created a Nagrand that felt like the natural predecessor to the zone we already know.

Artcraft - Level Design Part 2
Nagrand also had some equity we wanted to explore; players have experienced a shattered version of the zone in Outland, and this was a unique opportunity to provide a contrasting look. Giving places a sense of history is high on the list of zone design philosophies. Some of the more obvious ways to tell a zone's history are with ruins, when they make sense. The Highmaul ogres were once a great power in Nagrand. Now they are on the edge of oblivion. All that's left of their once great civilization is scattered remnants, as evidenced by their crumbling towers and roads you find throughout the zone. It's not a coincidence that the area they occupy in the zone doesn't exist in Outland.


How'd they do? Well, having been there on the beta, I have to say the new Nagrand is magnificent and definitely feels like it could have been the place we know, before the destruction of Draenor. Mister McInernery's point about the various races in the zone telling a story by how they interact with the environment is also spot on - you can tell a lot about the various people you encounter in Nagrand by how they live.

Head on over to the official site for more, it's definitely worth a read.

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

Breakfast Topic: How do you feel about personal loot?

One of the things I disliked the most about UBRS when we got it was the personal loot system they introduced - it stripped away the way it worked before in LFR, and forced you to actually loot the boss, but you still had a chance for nothing to drop for you. I actually liked the way it was handled in LFR before, where if I got a drop I knew it immediately and could decide to use my Warforged Seal or not right there, I didn't have to run up and loot first to see if I'd gotten the drop I wanted.

But since I'm aware that I often am alone in these opinions, it occurs to me that you might like the personal loot system we have now. Maybe you think we should have to loot the bosses, that it returns a certain nuts and bolts practicality to the looting process. I personally feel like there's something almost atavistic in the way loot worked before, that it would appear and we could choose to roll on it or not - maybe it's just that I've been playing WoW for a decade and my brain has accepted the dopamine rush of seeing a loot window, I'm not sure.

What's your take on it? Do you love personal loot or loathe it?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Blizzard disables 'anti-exploit' experience cap mechanic

For a while now people have been complaining about a new system that caused experience gained by repeatedly killing the same mobs as they respawned to be reduced, saying it was too punitive. Now Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas has posted explaining that the mechanic, intended to combat exploits common to power leveling, has been disabled.

Watcher
This isn't intended to be an "anti-grind" mechanic. It's intended to be an "anti-exploit" mechanic that programmatically addresses power-leveling abuses, with the aim of letting us reward legitimate players more generously. In the past, we've often had little choice but to drastically reduce the experience awarded by certain respawning bosses or enemies that are locked in combat with other NPCs, because otherwise they'd be abused. That always felt bad to the regular player who was just passing through in the course of questing or exploration and got unexpectedly little or no experience for killing something. The goal was to come up with an approach that would be invisible to most players, but discourage sitting there and repeatedly farming the same mob for long stretches of time in order to gain experience. Alternatives like questing, dungeons, or PvP are all supposed to be more lucrative than that - WoW has never been a game in which mass-killing mobs for experience was the most efficient route.

That said, clearly this implementation is far too strict, and is triggering from a wide variety of normal activity. We're going to disable the functionality entirely and look into a much more narrowly targeted approach if and when we reintroduce it. Apologies for the inconvenience and the lack of response on the issue - we were working on understanding exactly where the algorithm was going awry, and now that we've done so, we'll be taking action in the near future.


So if you happen to enjoy grinding and don't mind it being somewhat less rewarding, while not wanting it to be almost completely so, this change should please you. Still, there probably should be a mechanic for combating power leveling abuses involving tagging mobs and then having a whole party or raid backing you up to kill what you tag, and I hope that when they do come up with an idea for it, it's a little less broadly implemented than this was.

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

Mythic difficulty lockouts explained

For some folks, mythic raiding is causing a bit of a problem. Not that it is hard in any way, but rather that they don't understand the specifics of its lockout system as compared to LFR or Normal/Heroic raiding. This is understandable - with all the changes to raiding, it can be hard to keep track of how everything has changed. Rygarius has taken the time to explain the system, and to anybody who raided before Mists of Pandaria it should look pretty familiar.
Rygarius - Question about Mythic
I've seen some confusion over Mythic raiding lately and wanted to clarify.

Mythic difficulty's lockout works differently than the other raiding difficulties (Raid Finder, Normal, Heroic).

In Mythic difficulty, you are bound to the raid ID. This means if you join a Mythic raid, defeat the first boss (thereby binding you to that Mythic raid ID) and leave; you'll return to the same raid. If the raid continues on to defeat bosses 2, and 3 while you were gone, you will return to the raid with those bosses already defeated.

For that reason, it is important to stick together with the same group of people as much as possible for Mythic difficulty.

When joining a Mythic raid that's already in-progress, read the notification box that pops up carefully. It'll let you know how many bosses have already been defeated and ask for confirmation to be saved to that raid. If something's not adding up, you can refuse to be saved and be teleported out without being saved.


Yes, it's the old raid ID system. It's understandable that it might confuse folks used to the more flexible loot-locked system we have in Normal/Heroic - with those raids, if you leave after three bosses into a raid, you can come back on a fresh clear and kill stuff until you get to a boss you haven't looted yet and start getting loot again. With Mythic, you and everyone in the raid who kills the first boss are bound by the raid ID - the 20 players who killed that boss are basically in the exact same instance of said raid, and if two people step out on boss 6 and are replaced, and the raid continues on to kill all the bosses, that's their raid ID - if they formed a raid and zoned in after the clear, they would arrive in a cleared out instance.

It's clearly all part of the design to keep Mythic as something more akin to the old days of raiding, where server communities formed and fought for realm firsts. I admit, it's not a raid ID system that appeals to me anymore, but it's not complicated - it's the raid ID system that we've always had.

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

Maintenance extended until 4pm Pacific (updated)

If you're sitting around waiting for the servers to come up, you have a bit longer to wait - the roll out of patch 6.0.3 is continuing apace, and the servers will be down for a while longer.

This is apparently due to last minute issues with the new patch, so it may or may not be the final say in terms of delays. Don't get too overexcited either way - things could end up resolved earlier than expected, or they could be delayed past 1pm Pacific. Just know that currently the call is that maintenance has been extended past the 11am PST point.

Updated - Server Maintenance has been extended until 4pm PST.

Filed under: Events, Bugs, Blizzard, News items