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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.

All hail Grommloc

If you were wondering what the BlizzCon 2014 pet was going to be, wonder no more, for it is Grommloc, the mightiest of murlocs. Announced via the official World of Warcraft twitter, this little guy will be available for those of us who get to attend BlizzCon this year, as well as those of us who purchase the Virtual Ticket. Personally, I find his little Gorehowl so freaking cute I can't damn well stand it. I hope he yells We will never mrrghlgrlrble slaves at some point, I really do.

Oh, man, we need a lil' Pit Lord pet now for Grommloc to whack with his axe. Tiny murloc Mannoroth! You have to make this happen, Blizz.

Filed under: BlizzCon

Blizzard debuts Engineer's Workshop

It's always interesting to get more behind the scenes about how World of Warcraft is created, and Blizzard is doing exactly that with the all-new Engineer's Workshop series of posts. This week's column is about anti-aliasing and the new technology Blizzard is using to help evolve the game engine and update it going forward. Keep in mind, World of Warcraft is a ten year old game, and graphic updates like these are necessarily planned out to keep the game's look from sliding into obsolescence.

I admit I'm no expert on the technology being discussed, but if you are, here's a nice summary to get you started on explaining the whole thing to me in the comments. Use small words.


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

Warlords of Draenor Beta: Monk and Warrior Changes

Last nigh Celestalon posted two interesting bits of information on the beta, one for mistweaver monks and the other for fury warriors. First we'll cover the mistweaver change - Renewing Mist is headed back to being somewhat of a smart heal.
Celestalon - Mistweaver Consolidated Feedback
Hey again. Wanted to pop back in and let you know about an upcoming change that we're making to help out with how unreliable Mistweaver AoE healing feels.
  • Renewing Mist will now jump to the lowest health target within 20 yards.
  • Still prioritizes targets that don't already have Renewing Mist on them over those that do.
  • Glyph of Renewing Mist now simply increases the max jump range to 40 yards.
It's important to note that this is a not an indication of us returning to having a lot of smart heals. But in this specific circumstance, we believe that it's the right course of action. This should ensure that Renewing Mist and Uplift healing is consistently effective, while still being uncontrolled.


I'm not a monk player, so I can only say I hope this is good news for y'all - it looks to me like it would be helpful. Also last night, Celestalon posted about a huge change to fury warriors - Colossus Smash is now an arms only ability.

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Filed under: Warrior, Monk, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Beta is beta

You hear it all the time. Never count the beta as done until the beta is done. Never assume things are what you think they're going to be until we're told they're in the final stages. And even then, things can change. It's actually one of the things I like most about World of Warcraft's beta tests, the idea that you get to experience and test and report on things, and see those reports take life and actually have an impact on the game's design.

Yes, I know I used a warrior specific example. But other classes have seen design changes like this over the years, and it's interesting to see whenever it happens. Whole zones have been redesigned suddenly from time to time, like when Jade Forest got taken down and completely redesigned during the Mists of Pandaria beta. It just goes to show that you can never be sure the beta is actually what you'll get in the live game.

So now for those of you who've played in betas from the Burning Crusade to now, I ask you, what's been the biggest surprise change you can remember?


Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Losing track

So I spent several hours farming Battle for Mount Hyjal and Black Temple for the above transmog. You're thinking so you succeeded, well done but no - I didn't get the pieces I wanted. It just so happens that the character I was on (one of my many warriors) already had all of those pieces. That's because I completely forgot what this character had on him (or indeed, any of my characters at this point) - partially exacerbated by the fact that one of my characters has so much transmog gear that he has maybe two bag slots open.

It really doesn't help that even when I'm not playing a warrior, I'm on a death knight nowadays, and he has a lot of these same pieces of gear. Worse, I can't figure out what quests which character has or hasn't done, what reputations they have. I was surprised while farming because I hit exalted with the Ashtongue Deathsworn - a clue that I probably should have remembered I'd been there at least a few times already on this particular character.

So, if you play a lot of alts, how do you keep it all straight?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

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