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Filed under: Forums

Healing's evolution in Cataclysm

Ghostcrawler, when not directly occupied with the pack of idiots harassing him on the Damage Dealing forums, stopped by the Healing forums this past month to share some information on how healing is likely to change in Cataclysm. Of particular interest is Blizzard's changing design philosophy with respect to what makes healing challenging. Right now tank avoidance is so high that, as GC's previously observed, bosses have to hit like a freight train in order to pose any threat to tank survivability at all. Between that and what's universally acknowledged as the "never running OOM" ethos of Wrath, the unfortunate effect has been healers spamming their largest heals on anyone within range.

The model that Blizzard's looking to move towards is getting a test run of sorts in Icecrown Citadel -- lower tank avoidance, bosses hitting for more reasonable amounts, and -- in Cataclysm -- higher health overall. In other words, we'll be healing for roughly the same amount we're healing now through less damage that nonetheless occurs more frequently. This will lead to a greater risk of running OOM as the encounter progresses if you dump a ton of mana on damage that should have been healed more efficiently. Even now, there are encounters like hard-mode Vezax where you do have to do this, which I thought made for a pretty interesting fight.

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Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Forums

Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

Why you don't have freedom of speech in WoW

Freedom of speech is one of the most often quoted rights by gamers and people online, yet it is sadly one of the most misunderstood. This right comes about regularly when people are discussing forum bans, moderation, and people like Ghostcrawler telling folks they need to behave. People think that just because they live in a democracy or free society that they have an innate right to do and say whatever they want wherever they want.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In a private forum, such as the official World of Warcraft forums, or on a site like WoW.com, you don't have any inherent right to do anything. The people running the site or designing the game sets the rules, and that's that. If Blizzard says all communication must end with "Ni!" or you're banned from their forums, then that's the rule you must follow. It's their property and their choice to do that.

If we say every comment must make fun of gnomes or the commenter will be banned, then that's the rule you must follow. It's our website.

Freedom of speech has absolutely no bearing within a private organization. When you accept WoW's Terms of Service or use a website like WoW.com, you agree to abide by the organization's rules. If you don't follow those rules, or if someone in the organization just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed that day, you can be prohibited from returning to the forums or playing the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Forums

Patch 3.3: Fishing pool guarantees and what it means for the market

Wryxian has written a book on fishing over on the forums -- he originally responded to the thread with a quick link that affirmed in patch 3.3, you will never ever catch trash from fishing pools, regardless of your fishing level. If you put the bobber in a pool, you'll get what you're supposed to, no matter what (presumably to allow even low level players to do the fishing quests). But players have problems with that. First, there's the old issue of things always getting easier as the game changes -- people are complaining that they had to level with missed catches and trash, and those who level fishing after 3.3 won't. For that, I don't have a better answer than Wryxian does: that's just the way it works. The game is ever-changing, and most changes make things easier. That shouldn't devalue what you did before.

The other issue is that this may destroy the fishing economy -- if even low level characters always get the fish they want 100% of the time, that means more fish in the market, which means any money high-level fishermen would have made off of rare fish will probably go bye-bye. But Wryxian says that's OK -- people will still use fish for themselves, and he believes that the pain of losing that AH sale will be solved by the bonus of always getting the fish you want. We'll have to see -- it's true that between the updates to cooking lately (and the future fishy updates we're expecting), Blizzard is making sure the secondary professions are much less exclusive, which means there has to be the balance of also making them less lucrative.

Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Fishing, Items, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums

Hallow's End was exactly random enough

Now that Hallow's End is over for another year, it's time to settle up. We already asked whether you got what you wanted, but according to the informal polls (and the feedback I've been hearing), quite a few people didn't actually get everything they were trying for. As we mentioned on the podcast the other week, many people who said they did everything they could probably didn't (did you really go trick-or-treating every hour of every day during the holiday?), but it's not too far a stretch to suggest that maybe the drop rates for some of the hardest items to get (the Horseman's helm and the Sinister Squashling pet seem to be the toughest, though I heard a lot of stories about hard-to-find toothpicks, too) are a little bit lower than they should be for fairness.

Not so, says Bornakk -- he said while the holiday was ongoing that the drop rates were fine, and now that it's over, he says they're still fine. That doesn't mean Blizzard won't change it for next year, but it does mean that they don't have any current plans to change the holiday at all. "The randomness," as he says, "can win sometimes."

Our condolences if you were trying for an item and didn't get it -- even on a 50/50 coin flip, there's still a chance to see one side 1000 times in a row. We sincerely mean this one: better luck next year.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Buffs, Forums

Ulduar drakes not being removed (yet)

Bornakk confirms something that a number of guilds still working on their Ulduar drakes have been wondering -- are they planning to eighty-six them as soon as patch 3.3 hits? Nope -- Blizzard hasn't changed anything from its previous policy concerning the drakes, and they'll still be warning us a month in advance if they do eventually decide to remove them. This started as a response to the removal of the Naxx-era drakes without much advance notice, which resulted in some very unhappy players being caught unawares.

What I always found interesting about the wording on Blizzard's policy is that they don't "currently" have any plans to remove the drakes at all, but they're keeping an eye on things. It makes me wonder if there's an ideal percentage of guilds or players they'd like to achieve the drakes each patch, and that numbers were short in Naxx and still short in Ulduar. The Naxx-era Glory of the Raider (heroic) was certainly uncommon and, for a competent guild, hinged almost entirely on their ability to get past the RNG-riddled and sometimes-buggy Immortal, then said to be the rarest raiding achievement in the game. For Ulduar, my guess is that achievements like Firefighter are probably the biggest stumbling block, although fortunately the achievements required for the meta are more dependent on skill and less dependent on RNG than Immortal. We'll keep an eye out for you, but for the moment, raiders, keep plugging away at those drakes.

Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mounts, Forums

Blizzard explains delay in Race Change service

Zarhym responded to a thread on the official forums started by, of all things, a troll. The poster wrote accusing Blizzard of lying about paid race changes being still in development, pointing out that faction change enabled racial changes, as well. Zarhym calmly explained that "the conversion tables for changing races within one's own faction are completely different from the faction change service." This means that there's a separate development time for it.

He also reminds everyone that "the only thing better than offering a service people want is making sure that service works when people want it." It's pretty much standard operating procedure for Blizzard, a company notorious for pushing back releases in favor of getting things right. It's interesting to note that Blizzard introduced faction changes ahead of race changes, perhaps because the former addresses more player concerns while the latter is merely a customization preference.

There's also a chance that Blizzard will allow the new race-class combos leading up to the Cataclysm, which would be perfect timing for the paid race change service, anyway. I was looking forward to swapping my Blood Elf Death Knight into an Orc, but since the announcement, I've been drooling over the prospect of an Undead Hunter -- a race-class combo I've wanted to play since I first launched the game. I've waited this long, I guess a little more of Soon won't hurt.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

GC clarifies ArPen's stat removal and others


Ghostcrawler's hoping this answer "gets read," so we'll help. A player asks why Blizzard is worrying about armor penetration with the Scourge Strike ability -- isn't, they ask, ArPen getting removed in Cataclysm like we heard at BlizzCon? The answer is basically no: Armor Penetration rating is getting removed from gear (along with Block value, Defense, Attack Power, and a number of other gear stats), but Armor Penetration as a stat is not getting removed from the game. Talents and other abilties will still depend on removing and penetrating armor, even if your gear selection won't revolve around it. They'll still be balancing it, but as players choosing gear, it won't be a part of our calculations there.

Make sense? Just because you don't see, say, Attack Power on gear doesn't mean you won't have an Attack Power number governing how much damage you do. It just means that the AP you have will come from stats like Agility and Strength (depending on your class and a number of other factors) rather than gear adding directly to AP. Of course, as Ghostcrawler says, these changes aren't even coming until patch "4.0" and the Cataclysm expansion, so there's still lots of gear choices and balancing to do before then.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Buffs, Death Knight, Forums, Cataclysm

EpicAdvice.com lets you ask and answer Warcraft questions


Reader Jesta sent us a note about his new website. He's a big fan of Stack Overflow, which is a big Q&A/advice site for programmers -- you show up, ask your question, and then other folks who might or might not be working on the same problem post their answers, in moderated and organized threads for everyone to read. Jesta decided this same type of thing could work for our little game, so he put together EpicAdvice.com -- the idea is that you go there, leave a question about anything in the game, and then wait for your answer from other people browsing the site.

Stack Overflow actually has a little "badge" system where answerers can earn reputation points for answering questions correctly, and Jesta says that they're working on doing something similar for Epic Advice (though they'll probably have Achievements, as that's more Warcraft-y). But as of this writing, the site definitely needs more questions and answers, so if there's something bugging you about WoW (that our own Queue hasn't answered yet), or you consider yourself an expert and want to clear some things up, head over and give the site a look.

Filed under: Tips, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Quests, Classes, Forums, Fan art

Breakfast Topic: How to be realm-famous


I like this post on the General forums about being "realm-famous" and how to get there. World of Warcraft has a gigantic community around it, but sometimes my favorite part of the game is that there are all sorts of little micro-communities in that big one. There's the player base at large, and then groups of people who read WoW.com or other sites. Then you've got the realm forums denizens, and that's a different group than the factions on either side of each realm in-game. And then you've got your guild, and then within that, your raiders and maybe even your friends list. We're all part of one big group -- we all play the game together -- but there are all sorts of little identities in all of these little micro-groups as well.

And people can become "famous" in these groups. It's tough for us at a macro level to cover all of that stuff, though I like trying to keep up with some of it in our Guildwatch column (and the picture above shows what happens when someone can become "realm-famous," or realm-infamous as the case may be. What's your experience with realm-fame -- can you name people on your own server, or have you ever gotten "famous" for nabbing a realm first or earning a reputation?

Filed under: Realm News, Guilds, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Forums

Ghostcrawler: Haste-y DoTs and HoTs for Priests


Nope, our good friend Tiberius isn't starting up a new ice cream company (though that would be good) -- he's posting on the forums about a new idea that Blizzard has for using Haste to affect Damage- and Heal-over-time spells. In the past, Haste hasn't been a very useful stat for spells that are instant cast and then have a HoT or DoT component -- they don't affect the initial instant casting, and once the spell is out, Haste does nothing. Until now -- Ghostcrawler says that they're thinking about making Haste actually lower the time between ticks on spells that do damage or healing over time.

There is a tradeoff here -- if your ticks come faster, then the HoT or DoT component will end earlier, which means you'll be casting the spell more often. GC isn't sure (and neither are we) about how that will balance out yet -- on the one hand, it means that within a certain period of time, you will be able to do more damage or healing... but then again, you'll be spending more mana to do it. So instead of throwing this into talents, they're starting it up with glyphs. In the next patch, priests would get three glyphs that make their instant cast spells have their DoT components affected by Haste (Mind Flay's glyph is likely being moved into the base spell, and they'll use that one as an extra glyph choice). GC says if it works there, it may be spread out into talents or even base spells.

Will it work? It's an interesting idea, but mana cost seems to be the toughest problem to deal with -- any time you're casting spells more often, you'll be going through more mana. But it does seem like a good way to make Haste a little more worthwhile, and especially with the stats refinement coming up in Cataclysm, Blizzard will have to even out all of the stats they can. What do you think?

Filed under: Priest, Blizzard, Leveling, Classes, Forums

Doing something nice for other players


This is one of the few forum threads of late that has given me hope in mankind rather than the other way around. Jastiri of Antonidas started a thread asking players what the last nice thing they did for another player was, and relates his/her own tale of running into a new level-15 player who had saved 20 silver and materials to pay a tailor to make 6-slot bags. This "just about broke my heart," Jastiri wrote, who then made the newbie five 16-slot bags and offered 10 gold. The player thanked him/her for the bags but didn't accept the gold, insisting that the bags were gift enough and that he/she intended to pay Jastiri back for them eventually as well. How can you not love that?

The whole thread's full of little gems like that that, and was lovely to read. Share the wealth, readers -- what have you done lately for other players?

Filed under: Odds and ends, Humor, Forums

Update on the Ghostcrawler situation


We reported this weekend on Ghostcrawler's self-imposed break from the forums. The response by the majority of the so-called mature fans was quite negative. Many were furious, and rightfully so in my opinion. It appeared that a key source of information for the community was taking leave. Right on the cusp of the Cataclysm alpha/beta, this would have been a terrible time for that to occur. We'd likely be in the dark about changes until they were discovered on the beta/PTR, and even then there would be little to no definitive philosophical discussion about the reasons behind the new content.

Ghostcrawler was apparently touched by the fan support, which you can see both in our post and the forum thread in the role forums. He's come back out and said that he will only be responding to topics he wants, rather than allowing clamoring forum-goers to push him into responding (or not responding).

This has been evident lately in the Shadow Priest QQ going on. When he doesn't respond to what is clearly inappropriate discourse, people get really angry. They think Blizzard is ignoring them, which isn't the case. The role forums are about discussion between players with Ghostcrawler occasionally appearing to offer some insight. Designers read everything on those forums, blue tagged or not.

His exact words, after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Forums

Patch 3.2.2 Hunters see changes to Bestial Wrath



Ghostcrawler has reached into his mysterious bags of tricks and drew out the Hunter card once again it seems. Last week we discussed the recent change to Armor Penetration. While we all agree that it is a nerf to Marksman Hunters and will reduce their DPS. The jury is still out on whether it is a game mechanics correction (which I tend to believe) or some evil plot to cause Hunters to spend more gold.

Well the changes continued to happen. Last Thursday we heard more from Ghostcrawler regarding a new change that will be hitting Beast Master Hunters in Patch 3.2.2. The interesting thing about this recent change is it is both a buff and a nerf. To help explain what I mean let's take a closer look at how Ghostcrawler explained the change on the Damage Dealing Forums.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Classes, Buffs, Forums, Battlegrounds, Arena, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Widespread "Logging in to game server" errors - Updated (again)


We've had tips of a problem some players are having logging in to WoW tonight, but I can attest to it since it's happening to me as well. I can log into any US or Oceanic server except the one I usually raid on. I was on, and about to pull the first encounter in 25 man Trial of the Crusader when I was suddenly disconnected and unable to log back into the server. Several attempts to log back in later, I found that yes, I could log on to other servers, just not Norgannon, my usual home. Attempts to flush my DNS, restart my computer, my router and my modem provided no relief. I could play anywhere, save where I have characters to play. As of 9:40 pm the problem persists. So if it's happening to you, take heart in that you're not alone.

Blizzard is aware of the issue, but currently has no ETA as to when it will be fixed.

Update: Blizzard poster Claudiog says that the issue seems to have been resolved. For my part, I am finally back online and raiding as of 11:12 PM EST.

Update #2: seems that problems persist and Blizzard is asking affected players to help them lock it down. If you can post your ISP and a traceroute to that forum thread you should probably do so. We're also getting widespread reports from EU players that there are several kinds of problems with their login servers as well. We have an image of the European client's Breaking News box after the jump.

Update #3: There's now a list of affected servers. We'll include the entire list after the jump: still no ETA on when the issue will be resolved.

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Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Odds and ends, Forums

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