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Filed under: Blizzard

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

Patch 6.0.3 notes for October 28th

So tomorrow we're getting patch 6.0.3, which hotfixes a lot of issues thus far in patch 6.0.2 and brings the game more in line with what's running on the beta servers. So what issues needed fixing, you ask? Well, there's a host of fixes, so why not let them speak for themselves?
  • In the hilarious words of the patch notes, "Thrall received a reminder that he is currently still on Azeroth."
  • The glitch that was making Undead players' jaws vanish in certain helmets has been fixed.
  • Shamans can rejoice that Flame Shock, Chain Lightning, Lightning Bolt, Frost Shock and Lava Burst have received a discount and now cost 50% less mana to cast.
  • You now can't complete the quest for Warforged Seals if you already have the maximum amount (20) of Warforged Seals.
For the complete list of hotfixes, click the link below! And remember, you are currently still on Azeroth.

Read more →

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

Characters of Warcraft updates with Velen, Archmage Khadgar

The Characters of Warcraft page is a useful one to keep abreast of what's coming in the Warlords of Draenor expansion. Recent updates have made it more so, with focus on Velen and Archmage Khadgar. The focus on each character explains their roles in the expansion to come (for example, how Velen has responded to the Iron Horde) and how they're involved in the story of the expansion. I'm excited to see some mention of Khadgar's having been aged by magic, although it's not really reflected in his current model - if anything he looks younger now than he did in the Burning Crusade days.

If you're looking to get a sense of who the people we'll be dealing with when we get to Draenor are, the Characters of Warcraft page and these updates definitely offer some help.

Filed under: Blizzard, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

New Warlords of Draenor TV spots

It's time for some serious orcface, as the Warlords of Draenor hype machine kicks into overdrive with these new TV spots. There's one where Grommash just glares out from the screen, I admit that one makes me kind of uncomfortable. This one, with Garrosh getting a couple of beats, is my personal favorite (I've grown to like Garrosh in that love to hate sort of way - he made a pretty compelling bad guy, at least I thought so).

The weeks have flown by and we're in the home stretch now, with November 13 a few short weeks away. Are you ready for the Iron Horde? These TV spots want to know.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

Latest Artcraft covers exterior level design


One of the things I love about the Artcraft series is how it covers an aspect of World of Warcraft that's critically important and yet often overlooked, namely the look of the game. This week, Blizzard has a new Artcraft for us, covering level design out in the world. As presented by Julian Morris, lead level designer for World of Warcraft's exterior level design team, we get a glimpse into what goes in to giving us the lush visuals of zones like Shadowmoon Valley or Nagrand.
Artcraft - Level Design Part 1
Exterior level design is the process of designing and constructing the zones of World of Warcraft, from Azeroth to Draenor and everything in between. Our team has planned, plotted, and designed the rise and fall of ancient cultures, as well as shaped mountains, forests, seas, lakes, rivers, roads, ruins, and every land feature imaginable. In addition to the land itself, we also design and create cities, towns, and Battlegrounds (with the random exterior dungeon or two in there every now and then, too).


One of the things I remember thinking when I first arrived in Shadowmoon Valley on the beta was how amazing it was that they managed to create a zone that actually felt like a living place, yet you could believe it could become the ruined hellscape of Outland's SMV. Reading about how the level design team works with artists and designers from all over WoW to create these zones is something we've not really gotten much exposure to in the past, so I'm very excited to see how the series continues.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Arts and Crafts, Warlords of Draenor

A Behind the Scenes look at Lords of War with Senior Illustrator Laurel Austin

Earlier this month, Blizzard released a behind the scenes look at Lords of War, the latest short series from the team that brought us The Burdens of Shaohao. Although that behind the scenes glimpse was pretty good, it focused mainly on the story of the short films, the ideas behind the process. Yesterday, another Behind the Scenes featurette was added -- this time, featuring Senior Illustrator Laurel Austin, the artist behind all of those gorgeous moving frames. Austin goes through the process of character design for the shorts and the challenges of bringing the various warlords to life.

This is frankly the kind of behind the scenes stuff I really like to see -- don't get me wrong, I love a story as much as the next person, but I like seeing how it's all put together from a technical standpoint. While the exact process of animating the still paintings is only brushed on, it's still incredibly cool to watch Austin work and explain why particular stylistic choices were put into play. I didn't expect a second installment to this series, so I'm almost hoping we might yet see a third installment that goes into the animation process itself and how all those stunning paintings are brought to life. Either way, the video is a fascinating watch for anyone who wants to see how Blizzard puts their art together.

If you somehow missed Lords of War when it originally aired, you can catch the entire series on World of Warcraft's Youtube channel -- they've even put together a helpful playlist of all the episodes in order.

Filed under: Machinima, Blizzard, News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Warcraft wallpaper, costume, art, and comic updates

Another round of new art and updates has been added to Blizzard's official website. This time around, the costume updates are all featuring cosplay from BlizzCon 2013. Mylune makes another appearance, along with some stunning costumes of various tier sets and familiar characters from the franchise. In addition to the costume updates, a new wallpaper has been added to the fan art section. The piece, by Juyoung Oh, is a warlock flanked by a couple of Nightmare steeds and wings that would make Deathwing jealous.

And if you're still anxiously awaiting Warlords of Draenor, the concept art gallery has been updated with some new images. There are a few new concept pieces of draenei temples, as well as a pretty stunning piece of Tanaan Jungle lit at various times of day. Rounding it all off is an update to the comic section, appropriately themed for Hallow's End. Take a look at Blizzard's official post for links to all the new updates.


Filed under: Blizzard, Arts and Crafts

Ion Hazzikostas: "Without a question" WoW will last another ten years

PC Gamer has an interview up with Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas, and it didn't hold back - and neither did he, really. Asked if he thought World of Warcraft could last another ten years, Ion's yes was unequivocal.

I can't tell you exactly what our 20th anniversary celebration event is going to bemaybe new content which hasn't been createdbut I can tell you there's going to be one.

So now that I'm sitting here desperately curious about what that 20th anniversary celebration is going to be, let's look over some other interesting points from the interview.
  • Baking all previous expansion into the Battle Chest is all about removing obstacles to play - they like the depth of having ten years worth of content, but not the feeling that in order to check out the newest content you have to run all the old stuff first.
  • Visual updates being discussed include various forms like moonkin and cosmetic additions to armor, things like quivers for hunters and updated geometry on the armor itself.
  • It's unlikely we'll get another Cataclysm style visual update anytime soon - resources are more likely to be allocated to new content.
So head on over to PC Gamer and read Ion's interview.


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

Blizzard puts some character services on sale


Blizzard has discounted faction changes and character transfers by 25% for the next week. This means that you'll be able to get the services for the following prices:
  • Character Transfer -- $18.75
  • Faction Change -- $22.50
This is a great opportunity to transfer characters and get a new faction started before Warlords releases on November 13th. Interestingly, this makes the faction change cheaper than the race change, which is still going for $25. I gather moving from a human to an orc is easier than moving from a human to a night elf, at least for the next week.

A discount of similar stature is running on the EU servers. The sale ends at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, October 29th, 2014.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Free Character Migrations for select EU realms

Players on EU realms looking for a change of pace or simply a new place to call home should take note -- Blizzard has opened up free Character Migrations for select EU realms. These Character Migrations are a one-time move from a predetermined list of source realms to a choice of a few destination realms. It's a one-time, one-way move, but it's absolutely free of charge for those that want to take advantage of the process while it's available. At the moment, these Character Migrations will be available until October 23. However, they can be closed down at any time, if enough people have taken advantage of the offer.

Players may also want to note that this is on an individual character basis only. Any guild leaders looking to move their guilds may do so through the Guild Master Realm Transfer service, which they'll still need to pay for. However, guild members that want to follow to the new realm can do so for free with the Character Migration offer. Please note -- this service is only available to EU realms, and at this time, there are no free Character Migrations available for US players. Read on for the official announcement, as well as the full list of available realms for the Free Character Migration offer.

Read more →

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

World of Warcraft back up to 7.4 million subscribers

Though Activision Blizzard's quarterly earnings call isn't for another month, Blizzard has released their latest subscriber numbers a little early. As of October 14, World of Warcraft sits at 7.4 million subscribers, up 600,000 from their previously reported 6.8 million.

Warlords of Draenor's impending release is having an effect -- players are finding a renewed interest in the game. More than ever, it's clear that the long wait between content releases is Warcraft's worst enemy. If you build it, they'll come. But in the meantime, they'll have fun somewhere else.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

World of Warcraft Battle Chest now includes Mists of Pandaria

Mists is now included as a basic part of WoW. This means that, for the time being, the entire game and all expansions are available for $20.

This is great news for those that are trying to come into the game, and presents a super low barrier of entry. As the game continues to age it's important for newer players not to have to spend hundreds of dollars to purchase parts of the game that they're only going to spend a little bit of time on. Included Mists in the Battle Chest makes a ton of sense, and is a smart business and community move on the part of Blizzard.

You can find out more about the Battle Chest over on Blizzard's page.

Filed under: Blizzard

World of Warcraft patch 6.0.2 release date announced

You need wait no longer -- World of Warcraft patch 6.0.2, the pre-expansion patch for Warlords of Draenor, has been officially announced for next week. The upcoming patch features a host of systems changes - talent and abilities changes, the item squish, the removal of justice and valor points, the end of PvP Season 15, as well as a new world event involving the Iron Horde invasion and a new level 90 version of Blackrock Spire.

Head over to the official site and take a look at the announcement, and get ready for the Iron Tide to roll in.

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

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