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Posts with tag Newsitem

Night Elf Druid bear forms revealed


Thank heavens for Twitter. Twitterer @kreeoni tweeted a scoop detailing the Night Elf Druid bear forms following the exciting revelation of Tauren Druid bear forms yesterday. And oh boy... do they look spiffy. I particularly like the fellow on the lower right, with the Spike-like white stripe and matching sideburns. Our girl Allison is already jumping up and down from excitement (or is it envy? I can't tell with Tauren females...), probably impatient that we don't have the cat forms yet. But here you go, savor the first look at these new Druid bear forms with nastier growls and face paint. Man, Druids get excited over the tiniest things...

UPDATE: Apparently, Allison was jumping up and down from, uh, being underwhelmed. She's kind of weird that way.

ALLISON UPDATE
: Hey, I am totally whelmed here. Maybe they're less a shock to the senses after the initial change to Tauren bear form!

Filed under: Night Elves, Druid, News items

Blizzard Theme Park contest ending soon


Don't miss out on your chance to cook up the zaniest, most Blizzard-worthy idea of a theme park -- the deadline for submissions to Blizzard's Theme Park Contest is on March 30. Blizzard called on fanboys everywhere to submit their ideas for a theme park based on their properties, Diablo, StarCraft, and Warcraft, and anything from theme park maps to ride schematics to landscape pictures of the park are welcome. Selected entries will be shown during BlizzCon 2009.

The best entry incorporating all three properties will receive a Wacom Cintiq 12WX, along with the Echoes of War soundtrack and a pair of StarCraft II Beta keys. Three other winners with the best Diablo, StarCraft, or Warcraft themes will win Echoes of War and two StarCraft II Beta keys each. With just under five days to go, designer hopefuls should submit their designs soon! You never know, Blizzard just might make that theme park happen...

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Contests, BlizzCon

Rumor: The9 to lose WoW in China


Trading Markets reports from the Xinhua News Agency that The9, the company that handles World of Warcraft in China, is likely to lose their license as agents of the game. Blizzard and The9 have not yet reached an agreement regarding the extension of their contract, although The9 representatives have repeatedly tried to quell these fears. President Xiaowei Chen has confidently stated that the contract would be renewed in June.

An insider source, however, noted otherwise. Blizzard is said to have been unhappy with The9's performance over the past four years, and posed higher requirements in their renegotiation with the Chinese company. Recent troubles with the Chinese government in securing approval for Wrath of the Lich King hasn't helped matters, and The9 is facing bankruptcy should Wrath fail to get past China's censorship laws and negotiations fall apart. The online game operator gets 90 percent of their profits from managing World of Warcraft in China. The9 has refused to comment, only saying that negotiations have not been finalized.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King

ESL Arena tournament Finals kicks off in Germany


The Intel Extreme Masters World of Warcraft Arena tournament will be culminating at the CeBit in Hanover, Germany from March 3rd to 8th, featuring the European Continental Finals as well as the Global Finals, which will determine the overall winner of the 3v3 Arena tournament. The event closes the third season of a globe-hopping event that spanned Dubai to Chengdu to Los Angeles, and a total of $280,000 in prizes is ready for the taking.

The event in Hannover is significant in that it will be the first Level 80 tournament on the pro level, with special rules changes to reduce the effects of RNG. One example is banning speccing into talents like Hunters' T.N.T., Mages' Impact, or Priests' Blackout. ESL has also elected to exclude the new Arena maps -- the gimmicky Dalaran Sewer and Orgrimmar Arena -- from the tournament. This should make the competition notably different from live realms.

The Electronic Sports League will feature live streaming videos of the matches throughout the event, with live commentary from the ESL hosts. Archives of matches throughout the tournament can also be viewed on the site or on youtube, even including popular clips outside of matches such as Swarm's infamous nerdrage breakdown. The program can be viewed through the ESL TV, as well as the live stream of all the matches. All games will be broadcast in English.

Filed under: Events, News items, PvP, Arena

[UPDATED] WoW Patch 3.1 shuts down the Iron Council


After players got a taste of Hodir yesterday, Blizzard earlier opened up another Ulduar boss encounter on the Patch 3.1 PTR. The Iron Council were ready and waiting for raiders eager to have a shot at them -- and as you can see from the screenshot above, they don't look like pushovers. However, numerous crashes and related problems prevented full testing of the encounter, and Blizzard shut down Ulduar testing for the meantime. We had some of our team from WoW Insider who tried to take a crack at the Iron Council but were repelled by various iterations of server fail.

[UPDATE: According to some reports, well-known raiding guilds Death & Taxes, Method, and Fusion all managed to stay inside Ulduar for some time after Blizzard booted everyone else out of the instance. This is sort of expected, considering Blizzard wanted to truly test the encounter -- numerous players formed 2-man raids just to be able to enter Ulduar, thus maxing out the instance limit.]

Players who can't get on the PTR or who have similarly given up in frustration because the world server isn't exactly in the stablest of conditions, you can live the encounters vicariously through the streaming video of other intrepid players such as the folks from Rawrcast or Thelastrace on Justin TV. You mileage may vary. In the meantime, you can enjoy the screenshots of the encounter below. We guarantee they won't crash.

Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Patches, News items, Raiding

Hearthstones down to 30 minute cooldown in patch 3.1


Alright, so they killed ghetto hearthing. Blizzard never intended the instance boot system to be used as means to travel back to one's home city while Hearthstones were on cooldown, so they're setting things right in Patch 3.1 by making it port players to the nearest graveyard, instead. Naturally, this sparked outrage amongst the instance-abusing community and some players demanded Blizzard to make up for the loss of one of the most frequently used means of travel.

Eyonix was quick to shut down these arguments in a long thread but eventually capitulated to the will of the masses, announcing that Hearthstones would be usable every 30 minutes when Patch 3.1 goes live. Eyonix still doesn't quite understand what the fuss is all about, though, and points to mage portals, Dalaran portals, and good old mount riding as acceptable means of getting from point A to point B. He even dismisses the complaints as QQ at one point. That said, it looks like some QQ has won the day for now. Enjoy your 30 minute hearthstones, everyone.
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Forums

Plagued and Black Proto-drake rewards to be removed


Bornakk had some news today that might send a lot of raiding guilds into a frenzied rush to get those raid Achievements. According to him, Blizzard will be removing the Plagued and Black Proto-Drake rewards from the Glory of the Raider and Heroic: Glory of the Raider meta-Achievements respectively. Blizzard believes that with guilds progressing into Ulduar and getting significantly better gear, those Achievements would be trivialized. So the 310% mounts are sadly going the way of the Amani War Bear.

With Patch 3.1 already on the PTR -- although without Ulduar yet -- the clock is ticking for aspiring drake riders. All hope isn't lost, however, as Blizzard is introducing two new reward mounts to go with the 10- and 25-man Ulduar raid Achievements. Pictured above as mined from the PTR files by MMO Champion is the Ironbound Proto-Drake, which I suspect is the reward for the Heroic Ulduar Achievments. There's also a Rusted Proto-Drake, which is likely the reward for the 10-man meta-Achievement. For those of you working towards the Plagued and Black Proto-Drakes, you don't have long now! Hop to it and don't die!
Patch 3.1 brings us Ulduar, dual specs, significant changes to all the classes, and more! We've got you covered from top to bottom with our Guide to Patch 3.1.

Filed under: News items, Raiding, Mounts, Achievements

Blizzard theme park? Make it so.


If the thought of a Blizzard theme park makes you squeal with girlish excitement -- something I'd, um, never, ever do, of course -- then here's your chance to help make it a reality. Maybe. Nethaera announced the Blizzard Theme Park Contest on the forums, asking players to submit their ideas for a theme park based on Blizzard's properties. Players can submit illustrations that look like theme park maps, or make them look like screenshots from the games. The best entries will be displayed in BlizzCon 2009.

While this doesn't necessarily mean that Blizzard will actually make a theme park based on the StarCraft, Warcraft, and Diablo universes, the idea does make me squeal girlishly giddy with excitement. Those interested are challenged to illustrate every fantastic thing they can imagine -- from water rides, roller coasters, and even food courts and shopping arcades. Aspiring park designers have until March 30 to submit their entries, with a chance to win a Wacom Cintiq 12WX Digitizing Tablet, Echoes of War, and StarCraft II beta keys. So hop to it! Now where'd I put my stylus...

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Contests, BlizzCon

More on Blizzard's new Arena system


Blizzard has gone the extra mile in trying to explain their extremely mysterious new Arena matchmaking and rating system. They've featured their blue posts prominently on their front page as a feature called 'Shop Talk', collating all the official statements on the subject over the past couple of weeks. This is retroactive transparency going into overdrive, seeing as how they unleashed the system on players without mentioning it or even getting it tested on the PTR. When the system blew up in everyone's faces soon after Patch 3.0.8 was released, they were quick to suspend Arena play and tried to get things right.

Now that it's up, players have reported winning games but losing points. In fact, some readers have written in to report extremely successful Arena records but result in low or even negative gains. If Blizzard wanted to make Arenas more accessible and enjoyable, taking points away from winning teams was certainly the wrong way to do it. In the latest chapter of this sordid saga of the new Arena system, Kalgan mentions that Blizzard "made adjustments to the ratings system" in a hotfix applied recently. Notable points after the jump.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Forums, Arena

The new Arena system explained


One of the many changes that came along with Patch 3.0.8 was a new and nebulous Arena matchmaking and rating system that nobody was aware of except, perhaps, the guys over at Blizzard. When the new system debuted, it was met with mixed reactions and Blizzard was forced to suspend Arena play for a few days while they straightened out the kinks. The system was back a few days later, with ratings rolled back to pre-maintenance numbers and Achievements reset. Some players report being able to keep the items bought during that period, despite Blizzard stating that these would be removed and Arena points refunded.

Blizzard poster Aratil dropped by the PvP forums earlier to explain -- in layman's terms -- the new Arena system. The new system is supposed to match players according to skill, rather than gear. Exactly how the system determines skill wasn't made clear, although Kalgan explained that the system uses a Gaussian Density Filter. New to the system is a 'hidden rating' that's different from either the personal or team rating, and is unique to the player regardless of how many Arena teams he or she plays with.

What's clear from Aratil's post is that the change was intended to "promote the enjoyment of Arenas". Under the new system, highly skilled players will be matched up against other teams that provide a challenge while newer players just starting Arenas won't feel shut out. In a way, this can be likened to the low barrier of entry for raiding in Wrath of the Lich King. They're still tweaking the system, specially as far as ratings losses and gains are concerned, but the overall goal is to make Arenas more fun. I think we can all agree that more fun is always good. As long as it's working as intended, that is.

Filed under: Blizzard, PvP, Forums, Arena

BusinessWeek thinks corporate execs can learn from WoW


In the midst of recruiters being told not to send WoW players to job interviews, BusinessWeek wrote an interesting piece about how World of Warcraft promotes innovation. The articles examines how Blizzard had designed a game that could probably be mimicked by any corporation looking to innovate. It's an interesting analysis of the game, with BusinessWeek saying that its players are motivated to achieve and solve tasks.

Although some readers counter that the achievement-oriented environment is normal for MMOs, one key insight is how WoW reduces barriers to entry and early advancement. More than most MMOs, World of Warcraft is easy to access -- it's easy to level and there are no harsh penalties for dying (unlike some MMOs where death results in a sharp XP loss, sometimes to the point of losing levels). In fact, some might even say that WoW is a little too casual-friendly. Even then, there's a lot in the game that drives people to perform.

The article recommends that corporate leaders take a look at the game and see how it creates a motivational environment. It even goes so far as to laud the gamer disposition, something that players have or develop. It's certainly a refreshing counterpoint to the idea that gamers (or WoW players, in particular) "cannot give 100%" to their jobs. So even though some companies might think that WoW is bad for their employees, BusinessWeek says it just might be good for the bosses.

Thanks, Cahu!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

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