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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

War Crimes novel release date details

So if you're wondering when War Crimes (the upcoming Christie Golden novel about post-Siege of Orgrimmar Garrosh Hellscream and his trial) will be released, we have the details straight from author Christie Golden's Twitter account.
So not only do you know that the book will be released on May 6th, but if you just can't wait that long, you can go to Denver to the StarFest convention and snag a copy there three days early. I'm not saying you have to do this, nor am I saying to get me a copy while you're there, but I wouldn't mind it, either.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

I haven't touched my boosted character


I went and pre-ordered Warlords of Draenor along with everyone else a couple months ago (well, most everyone else, it seems like). I'd been thinking about which character I wanted to boost up to 90 and get maxed professions with for a while, and after a fair amount of time I took the jump and maxed out my rogue.

After the boost I played around on it a little bit. Did some timeless isle, ran some troll raids, and that was that. She just sits there now, not moving, not doing anything in particular. I've parked her next to a pet trainer. Occasionally I'll log on to her and battle the trainer whenever I remember to -- so that's a nice thing, I guess.

But you know what? For me the character became pointless, just a thing sitting there that doesn't get any attention or play time. I might as well have left her at 61, forever toiling around Mount Hyjal

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The World as Story: Emergent storytelling in World of Warcraft

How does storytelling function in World of Warcraft? What are its limits? Does it have to unfold solely via quest text, or can it be told via other means? I ask this in part due to a developing discussion on the scale and scope of how the world we interact with as we play reveals the story elements. Back when I first started playing WoW, game story was almost exclusively revealed via quest text. When it wasn't, it was often revealed via in-game books. I remembered being floored with the pre-fight scene between Majordomo Executus and Ragnaros because it was a bit of story happening entirely in front of my eyes via dialogue and scene.

Over the years World of Warcraft has added a host of tools to its story delivery options - cutscenes, scenarios, events like Battle for Undercity, open-ended exploration, and quest integration with each of these kinds of vectors for story. It's not all just text anymore - we have in-game cinematics, cut-scenes rendered and played through using totally in game scenes, dialogue (the end of the Isle of Thunder, when Jaina and Lor'themar confronted one another was entirely realized through in-game dialogue), scenarios like A Little Patience and Dagger in the Dark, and even more complex combinations of all of them. The Dominance Offensive/Operation Shieldwall story in particular was unveiled through all of these techniques, using every arrow in the quiver to drive the story points home.

I'm bringing this up because of the recent revelation that not all secondary objectives in Warlords of Draenor will have quest text. The discussion led to a series of tweets from Dave Kosak that I think definitely are worth discussing. How do we get story in an MMO? Can the world we encounter be the story itself? As we move through it, how can it be best presented to us?

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

Know Your Lore: Look back in Draenei

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.

The draenei have a lot of unresolved issues.

For starters, they're stranded on a strange planet called Azeroth, after having just barely escaped Outland. They lived on Outland (back when it was called Draenor) for a few hundred years, time enough to start thinking of the place as home. Then it was taken from them, and their people nearly totally exterminated. Their escape to Azeroth was an accident, crashing here because their ship was sabotaged by blood elf servants of Kael'thas Sunstrider.

So let's look over things. In the past few decades the draenei have seen formerly amicable neighbors turn bloodthirsty, demon-addicted monsters. They endured the near-total extinction of their people, hiding in swamps and bedraggled refugee settlements, seeing many of the survivors mutate and lose their connection with the Holy Light. They saw roads made out of the bones of their people. They only escaped by stealing back a dimensional ship from people they'd never really seen or heard of who still helped try and kill them. And as soon as they arrived on this new planet they found out that the Burning Legion (the very same force that is trying to exterminate them) has already been here.

This is a condensed list, of course.

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

Muffinus serves up Garrison details

Senior Game Designer Jeremy Feasel (he has an NPC named after him, the ultimate honor) has been answering questions on twitter about garrisons. Quite a few, in fact. Under his twitter handle of @Muffinus he dished out some pretty interesting details on what the current design for the feature is.
  • Garrisons are going to give you perks outside of them (we already knew about the faster mount speed perk, but others are being worked on).
  • Some perks, like a free resurrection, will not carry over into raids so as to keep them from becoming mandatory perks everyone has to get for their garrison. They want to keep customization as a draw and let players pick the perks they want.
  • You aren't hard gated by the initial quest that establishes the garrison - you can pursue the benefits and perks of the feature even if you decide to bypass it when leveling.
  • You will not have to stop doing something to run back and defend your garrison if/when it comes under attack. It's not a time-limited mechanic.
I'm pretty excited about garrisons, as they combine elements of player housing, RTS elements from the old Warcraft games, and new kinds of minigames. Should be interesting to get to see them in action.

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

Warlords of Draenor Screenshot of the Day gallery

Yes, it was a Cataclysm feature that continued in Mists of Pandaria's development process, and now it's back again for the ramp up to Warlords of Draenor -- the official Screenshot of the Day. We're actually up to five of them so far but the above scene from the steps of the Temple of Karabor is my favorite. Still, this picture from Frostfire Ridge (I presume) definitely interests me as well. Looking forward to combing over the pictures obsessively for the next few months.

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

The Unlearning game

World of Warcraft constantly changes. It changes in patches in small ways (buffs change, spell power changes making a formerly useless ability stronger, or a strong ability weaker) and it changes between expansions in much larger ways. If I still played a fury warrior today the way I would have played one back in Wrath I'd be using Whirlwind as part of my rotation.

Between player action (players roll alts, switch mains and change roles) and the game's inexorable forward progress, there are always new things to learn, which require us to unlearn what we did before. Factor in returning players who take weeks, months, even years off - I've seen a lot of Hey, I left the game in X expansion, what's different now emails in my time at WoW Insider - and you have a continuous problem for World of Warcraft in people who have, in essence, a different game in mind when they play. This issue affects gameplay in numerous ways, both for those players (and eventually, we're all those players) and for the game itself.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

What's wrong with Blizzard's development process? Nothing, nothing is wrong.


In yesterday's Queue Jeff asked the following question:

What is it about the software development process that causes Blizzard to slingshot from solving a problem to so overdoing it that it becomes a problem in and of itself. Examples:
  • Dungeons in Wrath were too easy - Cata dungeons are now stupid hard
  • Questing is too scattered in Vanilla - All questing will be done in a streamlined fashion
  • Not enough dailies in Cata - Locked reputation grinds via dailies to open up further content in Mists
The next example coming - Some people loved the farm, let's build an entire expansion around a farm but make it bigger and we'll call it Garrisons and we will add so many features that there is no way the players can't love this.

I'm calling it now, Garrisons will turn into one of the biggest mistakes of WoD.


I see this a lot -- people questioning the processes that Blizzard uses to arrive at the end product of a WoW expansion. I take no issue with this questioning, I think it's the vital step that helps the community better understand the microcosm of the universe we play in. Blizzard has a growing obligation to the massive community to keep them informed of how their universe is changing, and a deeper understanding of how it gets made is central to that.

However... I don't feel that it's a problem with the software development process -- that's a very defined process of creating software to specifications, testing, refining it in (ideally) agile methodology. Blizzard is just as good, if not better, than others in that area.

Game design, although, is an entirely different animal.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

"A more elegant collection game" - Watcher on transmog

Today we posted a rundown on PAX East information. and one of the pieces of information was that Diablo III's transmog system is not coming to World of Warcraft. This made me sad, of course. Today, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas tweeted the following update on that.
Now, this doesn't tell us how they plan to make transmog more elegant. It doesn't even tell us for sure that there won't be a Diablo III style approach to it - it just tells us that it won't be in Patch 6.0, whatever it ends up being. Still, it's nice to know that it's still being worked on. The extra void storage tab is a nice feature. Until we know what it is going to be I'll just be over here staring wistfully at my complete lack of bag space.

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

The Queue: More draenei are required

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

I'm tired of looking at orcs. Today calls for a draenei.

JordanPhillips asked:

Will garrisons be phased? Can our friends visit our garrisons or will they all be individually phased?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Queue

Sunday Morning Funnies: Fuzzy again

Dark Legacy Comics
Sunday Morning Funnies is your weekly list of WoW-related web comics.

This week, in comics: A pattern of revenge is brought to light. A bribe is offered. Some bad advice is dished out. A newfound appreciation for game content is earned. Finally, the hunt for the sorcerer continues (because, fuzzy!).

In comic news from the past week, the Looking for Group site has been redesigned. Plus, the kraken is still around! And he has a name (Scooter).

The creator of Chat Channeling has answered a questionnaire (as part of a blogging game), so if you're interested in getting to know Witty Warlock, you should check it out.

The interview with Trigonometry continues this week. You know, our favorite undead gnome? Who may be our only undead gnome, but that hardly accounts for the love. (I, personally, think it's the cheeks. Anyone?) (Rug is also apparently trying to recruit me to prank Trig more often. I, for one, would be smart enough not to deny Rug something she wants!)

In sadder news, Gnomeregan Forever features a comic to commemorate the life of a recently departed in-game friend, Xiaolong. I am sure that even though many of us have not suffered a loss in quite this manner, we all know what it is to make real friends in this game, who are there for us when we are sick or down or out, as well as when we really need a new piece of gear or a partner to take on the world (of Azeroth). Our condolences.

As a reminder, in case you missed us last week, Contested Territory is on an unexpected (but brief) hiatus. It will return April 18, and show up here again on April 27.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

Switching roles

It's officially the end of the expansion, because I'm tanking again. Every expansion, this happens. I start off tanking, something happens and I switch to DPS, and then by the end of the expansion I'm tanking again. The best part is that it usually happens in the middle of working on heroic progression, meaning that I'm suddenly tanking the hardest fights in the game. Usually without having ever tanked them before, in fact. Last night for instance I found out that I am much better at doing Heroic Norushen if I go down to kill the big add with some Vengeance built up, for how much it helps with Shield Barrier if I mis-time and get hit by the big attack.

My gear is adequate - about ilevel 566, with quite a few heroic pieces - but it's still a learning curve and one that's sometimes fairly hard to adjust to, and not just for me. This is a raid we've been clearing weekly, and suddenly here's a new tank who doesn't know what's going on as well as the previous tanks did. Combine that with my general sense of perfectionism (I do not like making even the most understandable mistake) and it can be pretty stressful.

But sometimes it's necessary -- your group has all the healers it needs, and you volunteer to DPS. You've been playing a hunter, now you're on your priest healing instead. (Hi, Final.) You're a tank but you're burned out and you need a change of pace. So, how can you deal with this, both as a player and as a group with a player switch? While I'm not pretending to having any sort of universal answer, here's a few things I've noticed.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Warlords of Draenor: The changing face of buffs and debuffs

One of the changes that will have a pretty significant impact on how we play both in PvE and PvP is that many buff and debuff spells are being changed or removed. It can all seem a bit complicated at first viewing, what with all the class specific changes, but it's really fairly easily broken down and it won't directly affect how you play all that significantly. We're going to go over the changes and explain what they are and how they'll change how you play, if they do.

First up is the Weakened Armor debuff. Essentially, this is the old-school Sunder/Expose Armor affect. It's gone entirely. Rogues no longer have Expose Armor, warriors no longer have Sunder Armor and the Devastate prot warrior ability no longer applies Weakened Armor. In addition, the druid ability Faerie Fire now applies Physical Vulnerability instead, increasing all physical damage taken by its target by 4% for 30 seconds. This is because it was thought that having both Weakened Armor and Physical Vulnerability was excessive, since they did basically the same thing. What this means in terms of how we play? Almost nothing. If you're a rogue, you won't use Expose Armor anymore because it's gone. A warrior tank will hit Devastate the same as they always did. Druids are still going to use Faerie Fire to debuff things. Hunter pets that had similar abilities will no longer have them.

Next up is the Weakened Blows ability that almost all tanks had - it reduced incoming damage. The abilities that provided it still exist, they simply don't provide it anymore. Thunder Clap is an example of an ability that currently provides the debuff, but won't in Warlords. Since all tanks applied this debuff, it basically wasn't very meaningful, and instead monsters will simply be tuned to do less damage to compensate for its removal. What changes for players? Nothing. You won't apply the debuff, but you'll still use those abilities that did once apply it.

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

Play Warlords of Draenor at PAX East, get beta access

If you're at PAX East this weekend, you may want to find the Blizzard booth post haste. Why, you may ask? I'll tell you why.

Because that's why - if you play Warlords of Draenor while you're at PAX East, you get a beta key for use when Warlords of Draenor enters later testing. So if you're there or planning on attending, you should get on that.

It's interesting they have this for conventions like PAX East but they didn't for BlizzCon - I'm not sure why that is. But have it now they do. Community Manager Lore has tweeted that there will be other opportunities to gain beta access, so perhaps keep an eye out for other convention appearances by Blizzard.

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

Warlords of Draenor: Tanking and the future

One of the things I'm thinking about lately is how tanking is changing in Warlords of Draenor. In at least one major way, it's not changing - Active Mitigation established itself in Mists, based in part on DK tanking in Cataclysm, and it's going to be front and center in Warlords of Draenor. But right now, AM tanking heavily relies on four stats (depending on the tank class) and all four of those stats will be gone come Warlords, meaning that we're looking at a pretty significant change depending on the class. The remaining stat, mastery, is probably going up in value, and in addition, we'll have crit, haste, readiness and multistrike to consider. But stats aren't the whole of the game, and they're not the whole of the changes, either.

In addition to new stats, there are the abilities each tank will see affected by readiness to consider. There are also Draenor Perks for each tank spec, granted randomly as we level from 90 to 100. There are changes in what abilities exist, in what specs get them. Vengeance is gone, replaced with Resolve, buffing our self heals and absorbs. In short, while the basic idea remains the same - generate resources via attacks to spend on damage reduction in one fashion or another - how we go about it, how it interacts with us has so many changes that it's worth discussing in length. There's so much change coming in that I don't pretend I'll catch all of it, which is why we have comments, after all.

So what do I expect to see out of tanking coming 6.0? It should be noted, this discussion is based on the Warlords alpha patch notes and such datamining as I've looked over, and I freely admit I only tank on one class, so while these are general observations I may be missing key class specific factors.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Death Knight, Monk, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

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