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Posts with tag Jade-Forest

WoW Archivist: Bottlenecks

Gyrocopter jam
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Wherever thousands of players try to complete on-rails content, bottlenecks are inevitable. For Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard is trying to be proactive about eliminating them. Back in July, CM Zorbrix posted a "targeted feedback request" about bottlenecks in the beta. Given that the introductory experience is completely on rails before the expansion unleashes players into its less structured zones, this is a real concern.

WoW hasn't had the best track record when it comes to bottlenecks. As we help Blizzard loosen the bottlenecks of the future, let's revisit those of the past.

The great gyrocopter jam of 2012

Blizzard's server tech has come a long way since the game's launch. Lag and crashes are no longer rampant during expansion launches. But sometimes, other problems can prohibit players from progressing on Day 1. If we're talking bottlenecks, we have to start with the most infamous one in all of WoW, which also happens to be one of the most recent.

This was a problem that people saw coming. I found a thread on MMO Champion from September 2012 where a poster writes, "On Beta - everyone had to funnel through a single vehicle quest to proceed on the Jade Forest quest line. I'm a touch concerned that this is going to be way worse than any other expansion..."

And this guy was totally right. OK, maybe Mists wasn't as bad as The Burning Crusade overall, but the ironically named Unleash Hell was still the biggest -- and most dramatic -- bottleneck ever caused by a single quest.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Did you miss in Pandaria?: The broken burner

Shrine of Fellowship incense burner
Not long ago, Blizzard unveiled the action-packed Warlords of Draenor cinematic, a worthy follow-up to the one for Mists of Pandaria. But did you know there's an achievement that ties in to the Mists trailer?

Restore Balance sounds like it's just for druids, but anyone can earn it. The achievement asks you to "Visit the Shrine of Fellowship in the Jade Forest and follow in the footsteps of Chen Stormstout." What these cryptic instructions really mean is to find the in-game location where the Mists trailer happened.

Head northeast from Grookin Hill toward the mountain on your map. When you see Shrine of Fellowship pop up on your screen, you're in the right place. It's a flat, misty plateau with a prominent jade bell (it was featured in the cinematic).

Look for the Broken Incense Burner. You'll notice it's a bit crooked, just like in the trailer before Chen straightens it. Click on it to "restore balance" and you'll earn the achievement. I wonder if there will be a similar achievement for the Warlords trailer...

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: More beta surprises

Sylvanas models through the years
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

As the Warlords of Draenor beta rolls onward, Blizzard keeps managing to surprise us. Recently we've learned about a huge overhaul to guild systems, random upgrades for quest rewards, and an extra-awesome core hound mount.

In the last WoW Archivist column, we looked at the surprises from the original beta and the betas of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King expansions. This time, we continue with Wrath and also look at the surprises during the Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria betas.

(As before, I won't go into storyline surprises here. And I won't cover surprises announced at BlizzCon outside of a beta. BlizzCon already has its own feature for controversial surprises.)

Beta of the Lich King (continued)

Goodbye, night elf Sylvanas. Through vanilla and TBC, the Sylvanas model looked like a night elf rather than an undead high elf. With Sylvanas poised to play a big role in Northrend, Blizzard clearly needed to revamp her model. Players worried that they would have to look at the old night elf model through all her lore moments in Wrath.

A build in August 2008 gave her an initial makeover (middle image above) and lore-focused players breathed a sigh of relief. Clearly she still needed some work, but at least she wasn't a night elf anymore.

A later build in September gave her the fantastic model we see today. The same build also updated the models for Varian Wrynn and Alexstraza.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Why testing matters

People often look at things like the current Friends and Family Alpha test and wonder why they exist. Why not go straight to beta, or even just do everything via internal testing? Well, there's lots of reasons. One of them is one expressed very well in this tweet by Russ Petersen.
What we've seen happen through several betas is that content has been changed, reworked and redesigned based on Alpha or Beta feedback. I'm reminded of the Cataclysm expansion and Paragon's effort to be World First on Heroic Sinestra, a fight that simply hadn't been tested very much externally, in order to keep it relatively unknown. This meant that it was a heroic-only boss, being attempted for world-first status, while the fight was being hotfixed. It was necessary to preserve some of the mystery of the fight, because let's face it, if it had been open to testing someone would have written up the strategy and Paragon would have been going in knowing what the fight was and wasn't. But it also meant that Paragon had to learn what the fight was and wasn't while it was being changed, during the attempts.

Similarly, the drastic revamp of the Jade Forest during Mists beta can't be undersold here. This happened right in the middle of the beta -- players who were testing out content had to be moved to the next zone and leveled up while the Forest was completely redesigned. In both cases, we see how the presence or absence of testing can have wide consequences for everyone.

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

The Mists of Pandaria that never was

The Mists of Pandaria that never was
It wasn't until after a few weeks of raiding Siege of Orgrimmar that it really hit me: Mists of Pandaria is winding down. Unless Blizzard has a fast one up its sleeve, this is the last tier of raiding before the new expansion, whatever that happens to be. It seems almost too fast, seeing as how we've just hit the one-year anniversary for Mists, but at the same time the faster pace has left me very little time to be bored. Between patches with raid content and patches with quest content, there has always been something to do -- and in patch 5.4, we get not only a new raid, but a delightful island on which to while away the hours.

And I was flying to the Timeless Isle to go farm a rare mob or two when I started thinking about the expansion as it comes to its end. More specifically, the Jade Forest. A lush, tropical paradise the likes of which we hadn't really seen in such scale, the gorgeous scenery and introductory quests ushered players through what ended up being an emotional, gripping, and overall entertaining roller coaster of an expansion. But there's a catch to that. Once upon a time, the Jade Forest wore a very different face -- and had it gone live, Pandaria itself may have looked very, very different to players.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Know Your Lore: The mysterious disappearance of Varian Wrynn

Know Your Lore The mysterious disappearance of Varian Wrynn
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.

As a leader of the kingdom of Stormwind, Varian Wrynn's track record leaves much to be desired. Swayed by tragedy and the sneaky, manipulative claws of a particularly clever black dragon, Varian was completely out of the picture in vanilla, at which point the surrounding human territories began a decline from which they have yet to fully recover. Varian returned in Wrath, and promptly began the campaign to wipe out the Lich King, sending his best soldiers north.

While the campaign in Northrend was successful, we also saw the beginnings of the clashes between Varian and the Horde -- clashes that would continue in Cataclysm, and ramp up with alarming speed in Mists of Pandaria. Or ... that's what we thought we'd see. In truth, Varian's spent much more of this expansion absent than he has being a driving force for the Alliance. Where has Varian been, and what has he been doing?

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Possible hint to the next patch?

Possible hint to the next patch
Mists of Pandaria has brought about a ton of visual changes, and not just to Pandaria -- Orgrimmar has seen a lot of evolution over the course of the expansion, what with the abrupt shut down of the Valley of Spirits and the wild Gamon chase all throughout the city. However, it looks like the Siege of Orgrimmar might not be the last patch we'll see in Mists of Pandaria after all -- Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak made an interesting comment on Twitter regarding the future of Orgrimmar.


Whether this is pointing to the usual lead-in patch for the next expansion, or a patch 5.5 in the works is, of course, completely up in the air. But it's nice to see that Orgrimmar won't be in a state of perpetual lockdown for good. It would be even nicer, however, to see the Vale restored at least a little bit in some sort of resolution -- after all, its appearance in 5.4 is kind of a shock. And if we're dead set on cleaning up Pandaria, wouldn't it be lovely to see some kind of evidence that we're serious about it? For that matter, seeing the Jade Forest cleaned up would be nice, too. Sure, it might take another hundred years to build another statue for the Jade Serpent, but I miss the orange trees.


Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

The top 10 most beautiful spots in WoW

http://www.blogcdn.com/wow.joystiq.com/media/2013/03/map-header.jpg
World of Warcraft sometimes gets panned for its graphics, which have never been on the bleeding edge of virtual reality. This, however, was a deliberate choice on Blizzard's part, and I think it's a good one. It allows for people who are behind the hardware curve (such as myself) to enjoy the game, and the graphics' intentional cartoonishness holds up better over time than hyper-realistic renderings, which often seem horribly dated within months. More importantly, WoW's beauty hasn't suffered for it. Azeroth is stunning.

I've compiled a list of the ten spots I personally find to be most beautiful, and by spots, I truly mean spots, not entire zones. I expect many of you will have wildly differing opinions, and I look forward to reading about them. The ten locations are listed in alphabetical order by zone; there's no way I could actually order them - I would never be able to decide!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Archivist: 11 moments from WoW's history that should become scenarios

The Qiraji invasion
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Next year is WoW's tenth anniversary. It's hard to believe, but it's true! If the typical timeline holds, the next expansion will release a few months prior to that anniversary. You have to believe Blizzard wants to pull out all the stops for this milestone.

What better way to celebrate ten years of WoW than by crafting scenarios to relive the best moments? It's possible that Blizzard is planning a time-based expansion centered around the Bronze Dragonflight. The Keepers of Time could send us on missions, much like the Caverns of Time dungeons of expansions past. Only instead of lore moments from the distant past, they could be moments from WoW's own history, including events driven by the community and removed content that players may not have been able to experience.

Here are 11 examples that I would love to see.

1. The Blood Plague
What: The Alliance seizes a rare opportunity
Where: Original Orgrimmar
When: Patch 1.7

As WoW Archivist previously covered, the Corrupted Blood plague began when players used "creative game mechanics" to export a boss ability into the general population. The unstoppable and highly contagious plague debuff devastated cities around the world as thousands of players and NPCs alike succumbed to it. The resulting chaos became an excellent model for how real-world diseases could spread.

This scenario would take place at the height of the plague and have different versions for Alliance and Horde. Alliance players would accompany NPCs on a strike into Orgrimmar. They would take advantage of the deadly outbreak to make an attempt on Thrall's life. Horde players would defend the city and their Warchief while trying to contain the plague.

Why Orgrimmar? Due to the time frame, Blizzard could reintroduce the original version of the city.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Frolicking merrily with Martar the Not-So-Smart

Frolicking merrily with Martar the NotSoSmart
Have you ever wondered, while you were wandering the lush forest of Pandaria, what it would be like to have a constant companion at your side? A friend to share the scenery with, someone to reassure you that in the end, everything will be all right? Someone who looks up to you as the triumphant hero that you are, impressed by your various exploits across Azeroth and beyond? Someone to snuggle with on those particularly cold nights at the heights of Kun-Lai Summit?

I'm terribly sorry, but you're out of luck. But we do have a different sort of companion for you -- the kind that interjects with silly catchphrases while he's merrily pulling half the hostile wildlife to your side. The kind that stares down the face of danger without fear, only the empty eyes of one who has taken one too many blows to the head, tongue dangling wildly from the corner of his mouth as a gobbet of drool lazily grazes his cheek.

His name is Martar. He's not-so-smart. But he'll tag along with you if you know where to find him.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Anduin Wrynn broke my heart

Anduin Wrynn broke my heart
"That was a close one! I can't believe you stood your ground against so many at once."

Oh, well, it was nothing really.

"You really have a way with people, Dawn. They fear and respect you."

You think so? I mean, I do try to be -- respectable, that is. You don't think I'm too intimidating though, do you? You really have to be firm with some of these people, you know, or else they don't take you seriously. Still, I've been thinking if I wore my hair down I might look less fierce. What do you think?

"Dawn, you did it. It looks like they're fleeing."

Of course they are. No one's going to mess with a two priest team! Say, if you're not busy after this, I know this great little place in Old Town. Maybe we could get something to eat before we head back to the castle?

Anduin Wrynn. You were gentle, but tenacious ... Also patient, and so wise for your years. You were nothing like I thought you'd be -- nothing like your father. Except for maybe your force of will. Yes, you definitely got that from your father.

When we first met I thought we'd become fast friends. I can't deny you were personable, but it was your earnestness that really struck me. The night after our meeting I remember feeling a hope that I hadn't felt in years. With you, Anduin, I knew the Alliance had a future.

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Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

People live in Pandaria; or, our house in the middle of the sea

"And that night, her mom said that the two of them and the now-dead guy were the only 3 people who ever lived in Las Vegas. Everybody else just arrived, ate their complimentary shrimp cocktails, and left."

Blizzard's focus is, as they've repeatedly professed, "to create the most epic gaming experiences ever." But for all the world-ending threats we've encountered in the last few WoW expansions, Azeroth just isn't that big. The entire Eastern Kingdoms are about the size of the island of Manhattan. We're made to believe that hundreds of thousands to millions of people of various races inhabit the planet, but examining the amount of residential space in each zone shows us room for far, far fewer.

Now, yes, the Azeroth we see could simply be an abstraction of some other, larger, "real" Azeroth that doesn't tangibly exist. But this one is the one we get, and it seems sillier and sillier each time when you ponder things like where exactly King Wrynn managed to find a hundred thousand troops to send to Northrend, or where night elves have lived for the past ten thousand years. The same goes for Azeroth's endless supply of doomsday villains and the cultists they inevitably find to do their bidding. They had to come from somewhere. And they definitely don't live in Stormwind.

But the problem isn't even really where they live. It's how they live. It's where they come from. Outland presented a unique opportunity to show us the how and why of the many strange alien races on an entirely new planet, but we learned more about how they died than how they lived -- the fate of most non-player races in World of Warcraft. Their homelands were a theme park, a casino, and we run through pulling levers, grabbing drinks, buying t-shirts. Nobody lived there.

Pandaria, though? People live there. The continent feels more like a brand new planet than even Outland ever did.

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Filed under: Lore, Mists of Pandaria

WoW Insider interviews Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak

Dave Kosak talks Theramore, dailies and more
Mists of Pandaria is a gigantic undertaking of an expansion that has subtly reworked everything that was painful about Cataclysm and turned it into a fun and interactive work of art. Responsible for much of that is Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak, who graciously sat down to chat with us about the changes, and what went on behind Mists' development to make it the expansion we've all been waiting for.

What makes Mists so fun? The substantial revamp to endgame, and the crazy number of quests and content to complete. The key to Mists is the sheer amount of quests and content to play through, presented in an interactive and entertaining environment designed and executed by Kosak and crew. Read on if you're wondering where that that world event we were expecting went to, what exactly happened to the Jade Forest, or how dailies are going to be less grind and more fun.

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Filed under: Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

Blizzard previews the Jade Forest

Blizzard previews the Jade Forest
We're all going to have the chance to step into the Jade Forest in two weeks, and Blizzard is preparing us all with this preview of the zone. It's packed with screenshots and has a Q&A with quest designer Helen Cheng giving us a tour of the zone's highlights, explaining who the factions are and what locations we'll be seeing when we explore. It also places the Horde and Alliance conflict into the beginning context. So go ahead and check out Blizzard's official zone preview of the Jade Forest now.


It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

WoW Archivist: Burned by Hellfire Peninsula

The Path of Glory in Hellfire Peninsula
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

When Mists of Pandaria goes live later this month, players will all begin leveling in the same zone for the first time since 2006. In Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King, Blizzard gave us two zones to choose from at the beginning of our adventures. Wrath split players up on either side of Northrend with Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord. Cataclysm's starting zones put players on different sides of the planet with Mount Hyjal and the less popular but unique underwater saga of Vashj'ir.

In contrast, The Burning Crusade's Hellfire Peninsula put us all on opposite sides of the street. That is not a joke. It is literally true -- see the image above! As you can guess, this led to problems. Let's look back at the Hellfire experience and try to gauge what we're in for when we arrive at the Jade Forest shortly after midnight on September 25.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

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