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Posts with tag Patches

The Lore Vacuum Effect

It's no secret that I'm into World of Warcraft for the lore. I play the game for the story, to a great extent. And that's what makes end of expansion lulls the hardest for me - I know that there will be no new story. This time around, Mists of Pandaria has just absolutely ground me into the dust. I simply can't make myself be interested in playing when I know the story this well. I've leveled Horde to get a new look at things, run the Dominance Offensive, done the Isle of Thunder, even run Siege LFR on him. I've seen it. Alliance and Horde, I've seen it.

I know that a great many players, perhaps the majority of the game's players, do not care about this. I accept this as fact. I don't expect you to put lore and narrative ahead of gameplay. I know Blizzard designs the game with gameplay firmly ahead of the lore. But it's still a huge issue for me, and there are other players like me - not only does it affect how they're playing now, but it controls whether or not they'll play it in the future.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard should rethink their content release model

Sleeping druids
Blizzard changes many things for each new expansion: raid structures, class spells and talents, game systems, UI elements -- few aspects of WoW survive an X.0 patch untouched.

It's time for Blizzard to change the one thing that has stayed the same since The Burning Crusade: the "event patch" release cycle. In WoW today, every patch is a big deal. We get previews. We get a trailer. We get fancy artwork with the X.X numbers. The patch release is an event.

Every patch has tons of content for nearly every aspect of the game. It's exciting -- there's almost too much to do. When a new patch releases, we're in WoW heaven.

Then months go by and that content grows stale. Blizzard doesn't give us new content at that point, but peeks at future content. We're starving for a delicious content meal, but we can only look at pictures of the food.

It's a feast and famine cycle that has to end. It creates this massive gap between the final content patch of one expansion and the release of the next. We must cross it once again in 2014. Players put up with it because we know Blizzard will deliver, eventually, a tremendously fun experience. But should we have to endure this, still, after the game has been around for almost ten years?

It's time for Blizzard to rethink the way they release content.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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

Siege of Orgrimmar and the waiting game

I've played World of Warcraft for the entire history of the game, since about a month after launch (my wife actually played in beta, and she's the one who got me into WoW in the first place) and I've raided for pretty much the entire time - I took a few months off after The Burning Crusade dropped, and had to catch up in BC raids. Since that time, though, I've raided - I was in my server's most progressed guild in Wrath, switched servers but ended up in the same situation in Cataclysm, and have settled down to a still well progressed but less aggressive heroic raid in Mists of Pandaria, cruising at 10/14H and working on Thok. We have one pally, so Thok's a bit of a gigantic cinderblock wall, but we're still plugging away.

Being that I've been raiding so long, I sometimes see patterns. There's one I saw in BC, and repeated in Wrath and Cataclysm - the end of expansion lull. Once we get into the last tier of content, there's a surge of interest and everyone leaps to get in there and work on it... and that lasts a couple of months. After that, however, interest starts to wane. Players get burned out, stop playing, need to be replaced. Each player who needs to be replaced causes tension as the guild slows down due to the losses. Recruitment means bringing in people with less gear, less experience, and even if you manage to get a player with both the gear and the experience, it doesn't always mean they know how you do things. I was once recruited, after my Horde guild had killed all of Heroic Dragon Soul, by an Alliance guild that was on Spine. I took the jump because I wanted to play Alliance again - and even though I was geared as well or better than they were, I still had to relearn the fights based on their strats, and make suggestions based on my own experience that meant delays as they learned these new ideas.

This can lead to a feedback loop - players burn out, leave, this stresses the guild, more players get burned out. It's always present in raiding - churn is inevitable, recruitment must be continuous - but the promise of future content to come creates a counter pressure. You don't just raid to see the current content, you do it to be ready to get into the guts of the new stuff when it drops. But when you get into the last tier of raiding, there is no new content to keep you interested. And so, when that last raid tier takes months and months - sometimes, as in the case of ICC in Wrath, over a year - it becomes very difficult to keep guilds focused on progressing through it. Talking on twitter about all this after reading multiple posts on the issue, I started thinking about how it works out.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Why Mists of Pandaria needs one more patch

We're at that time in World of Warcraft where I'm not quite done with the expansion we have - there's still a few things I'd like to do like kill Heroic Garrosh - but at the same time, we've been playing long enough that I'm starting to really, really feel the urge to move on to a new place. At the least, I'd really like to feel finished with Pandaria.

It's not that I didn't or don't like the expansion. Nothing could be further from the truth. In many ways, I still feel like this was the best expansion, in terms of pure storytelling - an incredible amount of story unfolded over the past year and four months, if you get right down to it. The voyage we undertook to a distant shore ended up teaching us almost as much about the world we left behind, ultimately taking us to a confrontation at the very gates of Orgrimmar. Garrosh Hellscream's journey from Warchief to reviled enemy of almost the world entire, even his own faction, was surprising and at times maddening and I played through it on both factions. There were some deeply troubling twists - to this day, I look back on the Dalaran purge on my worgen and shudder at stalking and killing an elf for the crime of wearing the wrong color and trying to take his money with him when he fled, while my tauren felt responsible for it all, having stolen the Divine Bell in the first place.

After all of it - after having marched from the Jade Forest and those first arrivals to here, after having seen the destruction we left in our wake and done what I could to ameliorate it only to see it eventually bring even the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to the brink, after having finally waged war all the way back to that chamber deep beneath Orgrimmar I feel conflicted. I feel like there's more to do - the sha need to be cleaned out of the Vale, for instance, and the final fate of the mogu and mantid would be nice to discover - but at the same time, there's the urge that got me to Pandaria in the first place. The urge to go somewhere new. And that's likely still a way's away at this point.

It's times like this, I actually miss Halion.

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

Breakfast Topic: Your favorite patch memories

There have been plenty of patches -- 24, to be precise -- since the game launched in late 2004. And if you've been playing for any length of time -- or since the beginning -- chances are that you have a favorite patch amongst them. Perhaps it was a new dungeon, a world event, or just a class change that made your character, for a time, feel godly.

For me, it was definitely patch 1.9, when I was dedicating the time to be part of a serious raiding guild and got to take part in the incredible quest line that led to opening of the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj (and, coincidentally, around when I first started writing for WoW Insider). Looking back, there was as much bad as there was good -- long hours raiding that I couldn't find time for if I tried today, the tedious task of collecting linen and peacebloom to fuel the Ahn'Qiraj war efforts, and intense guild rivalry over who would complete the quest first -- but it was definitely a memorable time in my WoW-playing life.

So what about you, readers? Which patch do you look back on fondly and why?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Will we see any more patches before WoW 6.0?

We've gone through 24 patch cycles and four expansions since World of Warcraft launched. But while that sounds like a lot of patches, in the past Blizzard has only done 3 or 4 patches per expansion -- 11 of those 24 patches were between vanilla WoW and the game's Burning Crusade expansion. But the recent breakneck pace of patches -- one every couple of months -- doesn't quite mesh with the fact that Blizzard doesn't tend to do more than 4 patches per expansion and the fact that they recently confirmed that patch 5.4 will be the final raid patch of Mists of Pandaria.

While final raid patch doesn't necessarily mean final patch, it certainly doesn't get our hopes high for exciting new WoW content. So what's a gamer to do with a potentially tremendous content drought on the horizon? We really don't expect to see an expansion announcement before BlizzCon this November, which would mean an actual expansion launch date even later than that.

So, readers, I put the question to you: how many more patches do you expect Blizzard to roll out to keep us engaged and interested before the next expansion launches?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Patch 5.4 PTR: New mounts from the Siege of Orgrimmar

PTR files are the gift that keeps on giving: today AdriaCraft posted videos of two mounts from the patch files, which we expect will be drops in the Siege of Ogrimmar raid. On show are the Kor'kron Proto-Drake and the Iron Juggernaut. The Juggernaut may actually be the Kor'kron Juggernaut Wowhead lists as dropping from Garrosh, but we can't yet say with certainty where either of these drop, so if you're desperate to nab one, stay tuned for more info.

If you're in this post for the eye candy, check the videos embedded after the break for a close look at what could be your next mount!

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Filed under: News items

Breakfast Topic: Do you want more patches?


Looking back on the days of vanilla WoW, we had a lot of patches -- and I don't mean that as a figure of speech. Original WoW went to patch 1.12 before Burning Crusade hit the scene. Since then, we've seen fewer patches between expansions -- 4 patches during BC, 3 patches during Wrath, 3 patches during Cataclysm, and, to date, 3 patches during Mists. But with the speed at which Blizzard is rolling out new content lately, I think it's safe to say that we can expect Mists to beat the average number of patches before we get another expansion... but is that too many patches?

More frequent patches could mean we're hard-pressed to keep up with all the new shiny toys presented to us... or they could mean plenty of content to keep us busy and interested. But what do you think? Are patches coming too quickly these days? Or are they just frequent enough to keep you interested? Or are patches still arriving too slowly for your tastes?
Patch release speed is...
Too fast! I can't keep up.1372 (30.9%)
Just right! There's just enough content to keep playing for.2056 (46.3%)
Too slow! I'm already bored of 5.3, where's 5.4?1008 (22.7%)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

What new players need to know about WoW patches

What new players need to know about WoW patches
If World of Warcraft had but one holiday, it would be Patch Day: the glorious Tuesday (or Wednesday) in which the WoW servers go down for maintenance but come back online brimming with new, unexplored content. If you're new to World of Warcraft, or MMOs in general, you may not entirely understand all the fuss the community makes over patches. So just what is a patch? Why are they so important? And how can you get your hands on one? We'll do our best to explain.

What is a WoW patch?
Did you know we're playing version 5 of World of Warcraft right now? It's true: Version 1.1 was World of Warcraft's launch client and every expansion since has bumped the version number up a full number, while each patch release is a decimal place. The original game went up to patch 1.12 (the 1.1 launch client and 11 patches after), Burning Crusade (2.0) had a scant 4 patches, Wrath of the Lich King (3.0) had 3, Cataclysm (4.0) had 3, and Mists of Pandaria (5.0) is about to see the release of its 3rd patch, patch 5.3. These days, patches are coming more quickly than ever and we have no idea how many patches to expect before the next expansion arrives.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

Are patches coming too fast?

throne of thunder
So the Patch 5.3 PTR was announced earlier this week, and I am currently downloading the files for it as I write this. Patch 5.2 only went live a couple of weeks ago, and its PTR began in January, a mere few weeks after 5.1 was released. Oh, and Mists of Pandaria itself has only been available since October! Whew! Ladies and Gentlemen, content in WoW's fourth expansion has been coming at a breakneck pace, and I'm not entirely sure I like it.

I'm a slow player, in all honesty. I like to take my time and explore, do lots of quests, level professions, and generally just take my sweet time. I play WoW largely to relax, and for me, racing through everything as quickly as possible is not relaxing. I also have a pretty hard limit to the amount of time I can spend playing before I start to go stir crazy and really need to get up and do something else. That isn't conducive to rapidly completing things like daily-based rep grinds. So for me, I'm a little disappointed by the short spaces between new content being released. It kind of stresses me out, makes me feel like I need to play more, and harder, to keep up. I realize that feeling is all in my own head, but it doesn't stop me from wishing I had, oh, maybe two extra weeks before the 5.3 PTR was announced!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

This Too Shall Pass: Balance and imbalance in World of Warcraft

Image
First off, we know that game balance is an eternal goal. As the game evolves and becomes more complex (as it does every expansion, because new abilities are introduced and new classes or races make their debut), balancing them all for every role they can fill and every aspect of the game (Arena PvP, BGs, 5-man instances, raiding) becomes ever more complicated. Abilities that seem minor in impact can mushroom in importance due to synergy with other talents or abilities. As an example, Vengeance in PvP became important enough to cause it to be turned off, as gear improved and health pools rose.

This has been the case in World of Warcraft since its debut. Heck, thanks to Indalamar, warriors got nerfed before the game went live. Balance is ephemeral. Your class may be on top one day, but your day will end. Anyone who's tanked for the past six years can attest to the roller coaster of which class is best at which aspect of the role. There was a time where paladins were the undisputed kings of AoE tanking, a time before Death and Decay or Blood and Thunder.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, PvP, Raiding, Hotfixes

Patch 4.2 PTR patch notes updated for May 31

Blizzard has updated the patch notes for the patch 4.2 PTR today, with some notable additions!
  • The defensive pet stance will now only cause the player's pet to attack enemies that attack the pet or the master.
  • Hunters can tame eight new rare beasts, each with a specific "taming challenge."
  • Party/raid interface profiles can now be saved, letting you easily switch for different encounters and roles.
  • Mages: Arcane Blast damage done has been reduced by 5%.
  • Warlocks: Soul Fire is now available at level 20, down from level 54.
For the full update, follow along the cut below.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: What's your personal patch day history?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

There are a lot of firsts in World of Warcraft. Some firsts are great -- our first level, first mount, first dungeon, and first raid. Then we have our horrible, cry-ourselves-to-sleep-while-hugging-our-teddy-bear firsts -- our first death, first wipe, our first night of wipes ... We always remember these firsts. They're permanently set in our mind (much like Magni is permanently set in Old Ironfoge, may he rest in peace).

Finally, we remember our first patch day. This first could fit in either category.

My first patch day was catastrophic. All of a sudden, my talent tree was different, my DPS was garbage (well, worse than it was before), and everyone was "LFM for Ulduar." I was lost, confused, and scared -- yet it was the first day I knew I loved the ever-changing World of Warcraft. Patches provide an always-evolving universe, and I love it.

Do you remember your first patch day? What patch was it? Was your first patch a good or a bad memory?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

WoW, Casually: Things to know about upcoming patches

Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.

The above video has absolutely nothing to do with WoW or upcoming patches or even gaming. It's just a feel-good video that is currently at the top of my current YouTube favorites. Besides, everybody's doing it. Now, onward to the actual content...

So, rumor has it that patch 3.3.3 will be out either next week or the week after. The PTR seems stable-ish and the downloading of much of the patch has already been happening. So, let's talk about what we have to look forward to in the patches before Cataclysm, particularly 3.3.3.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW, Casually

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