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Posts with tag Tobold

Addon devs respond to Blizzard UI policy changes

Blizzard dropped a bombshell on the addon community last Friday with their new addon policies (among a few other clarifications, addon developers can no longer charge for their addons or even ask for donations in-game), and developers are reeling. Already, the creator of the popular QuestHelper has responded on his changelog, saying that the addon is "dead." He says that he has tried to get donations without having an ingame link, it doesn't work, and that without any money coming in, he doesn't see any reason to keep the addon in development. Likewise, the developer of Outfitter has pulled his addon from the usual outlets, saying that he "will no longer add value to the World of Warcraft" and that Blizzard is trying to "continue a system of treating addon developers as if their time and products are worthless."

Blizzard may not be too worried about Outfitter -- they're planning to add an official Equipment Manager into the game soon (and Tobold makes a point that Blizzard may want addons to be worthless). As far as we've heard, there's no word from the folks behind Carbonite yet -- there's lots of speculation on their forum, but we've contacted them to try and get an official statement. They are the addon that's believed to have kicked this all off -- they were actually charging (and holding up full time jobs) for their addon, and word is going around that Blizzard released these new policies to put the kibosh on them.

We'll have to wait and see on the long term policies of these changes -- a few developers have already called for a strike, though who knows how successful an idea like that would be. We'll definitely see a few devs hold back from working on their addons, but it's unlikely changes like these will shut down the community completely.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items, Add-Ons, Quests

Naxxramas gear by type


Tobold has a post up with an interesting analysis of all the epic loot that drops in the ten-man version of Naxxramas, broken down by armor type and by broad stat type (tank, melee, caster). At the top of this post is a chart I made from his armor type breakdown ("Other" is anything that's not cloth, leather, mail, or plate, i.e. weapons, off-hands, shields, jewelry, and cloaks). As Tobold mentions, this confirms that there is significantly more plate than anything else, about 50% more, even though there are the same number of plate classes as cloth classes. My guess is that this is because they expected an influx of DKs bumping up the plate numbers.

As far as stat types, leather and mail are both split half-and-half for caster vs melee. This is a little iffy. In both cases, there are two caster specs (Balance and Resto Druid, Elemental and Resto Shaman) out of six total specs (Druids and Rogues, Shamans and Hunters), so it seems a 33/66 split would make more sense, but maybe they just wanted to keep it simple.

The case that really bothers me is plate, which is split evenly between caster, tank, and DPS (see right). The only plate spec that wants caster gear is the Holy Paladin. That's one of three specs from one of three plate-wearing classes, and yet it gets a third of the plate gear. I'm sorry, my plate-clad healing brethren, but that's just not an equitable proportion. Mostly it just means that our prot pallies have full healing sets and we're still disenchanting a good chunk of the plate every week. Here's hoping we see less caster leather, mail, and especially plate in Ulduar.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Is Blizzard cutting costs?

http://tobolds.blogspot.com/2009/01/cost-reduction-at-blizzard.htmlSo with all the hubbub about 3.0.8's problems, a lot of people are wondering who to blame. Activision seems to be a popular target, with people blaming them for nerfing Blizzard's famed "it's-ready-when-it's-ready" game design cycle and rushing things out the door while they're still buggy and imbalanced.

Popular MMORPG blogger Tobold is in that camp himself. In one of his latest blog posts, he theorizes that Blizzard has been cutting spending for some time now, be it because of falling stock prices or the need to move WoW team members to Diablo 3 or Starcraft 2 or simply because of the economic downturn in general.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Rumors

15 Minutes of Fame: Tobold blogs from the hip


15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes – from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

The internet is abloom with emoticons – fragrant flowers peppering the soil around posts filled with fertile viewpoints, hoping to soften and breathe context into black and white text. Posters struggle to assume an innocuous mantle. Not Tobold. MMORPG blogger Tobold has built a reputation as a straight-shooter. He unabashedly gulps down macro and micro topics alike, spitting out analyses minus the ubiquitous apologies and humble posturing that characterize so many blogs. Opinion as opinion, fact as fact – and an audience of readers who appreciate the opportunity to volley between fact and opinion, hardcore and softcore topics.

The man behind the blog is really a pretty humorous and easy-going guy, and our e-mail interview with Tobold actually did start out with an emoticon. Find out what made Tobold smilie, after the break.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Features, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, 15 Minutes of Fame

Blizzard wins lawsuit against bot makers

You may recall the long running Blizzard vs. MDY battle from various reports here on WoW Insider. In short, Blizzard sued MDY, the makers of the MMOGlider bot (formerly the WOWGlider bot), claiming that the bot violated Blizzard copyright by writing portions of the game to RAM in order to work (since you only have a license to run the game files, and do not actually own them, unauthorized copies are against the EULA). They also claimed that the bot tortiously interfered with Blizzard's customer base. MDY sued them right back, claiming they had every right to sell and distribute their bots.

MDY received a crushing blow yesterday as the court ruled against them, Virtually Blind reports, declaring them guilty of copyright infringement and tortious interference (Apparently, bots stealing your kills is now a legal issue, which is sort of cool). The ramifications of this decision are still being discussed in various corners of the net and legal world.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Blizzard, News items, Account Security

Insider Trader: Crafting a future for professions


Insider Trader is your weekly inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

Are you a tradesman -- or are you simply a player who crafts? The determining factor is yet another question: Do you care? For the vast majority of WoW players, crafting is a means to an end: better gear, more money, consumables and resources. For others, though, crafting is a game in and of itself. The WoW tradesman relishes the entire process of crafting: training up, obtaining rare recipes, scrounging mats, actually crafting items, researching new possibilities, interacting with customers ... an enjoyable pursuit in its own right.

WoW's crafting system is by no means complex or even especially compelling – and perhaps even anachronistic. This week, Insider Trader brings you musings on professions inspired by well-known MMORPG blogger Tobold's predictions on the shape of MMORPGs in the year 2020. We have a lot for you to ponder and pontificate about – so please come join the conversation, after the break.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Economy, Insider Trader (Professions)

The return (of Tobold and others) to World of Warcraft

Well he doesn't think he's news, but since we reported on his exit way back when, we might as well bring the whole story full circle, and report on Tobold's return to World of Warcraft. Patch 2.3 (and the Scroll of Resurrection deal-- which is a great one, I don't blame him for filling out a form to get 40 days free) is bringing him back as, he says, a casual player only.

Now of course, the story's not really about Tobold-- with apologies to him for the unwanted attention we sent, it never was (so leave the guy alone, already-- if you've got comments about his decisions, leave them over here). But he is a big, influential MMO blogger, and his leaving WoW was part of a trend back then. In the dark days before 2.2, progress on the realms was stagnant, and there was nothing new to keep folks interested. Even with patch 2.2, voice chat wasn't a big draw for players (and in fact, now that I think about it, I haven't used it at all since it debuted-- my guild is still on Ventrilo, and no one has invited me to use the voice chat system).

But now we're at patch 2.3, and the times, they are a-changin'. There's new midlevel content (!), Engineers have a purpose in life, Hunters have no dead zone, and there's a brand new 10-man instance in the game (almost guaranteed to quickly become the most popular endgame instance out there). Tobold's back, and, just as before, we've got to wonder if he's part of an early trend. Are all the players who took a break this summer coming back to Azeroth?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Leveling

Are cross-realm dungeons necessary?

Prolific MMO commentator Tobold writes about a possible problem with Blizzard's plan to speed up the level grind in 2.3: it could make getting a dungeon group together even harder. His solution would be to institute cross-realm dungeons that would resemble the current cross-realm battleground system. He also mentions some improvements to the LFG system (setting aside slots for dedicated roles, so that if you need a tank you don't end up in a group with three mages and two priests, for example) and the commenters come up with some good points, including worrying about how to deal with cross-realm ninjaloots.

Generally, the cross realm BG's worked out and I'm a fan of the much reduced waiting times for an AV run. Even with the anti-AFK measures it still only takes a few minutes as opposed to the upwards of an hour it could take before. But I do see some logistical problems in setting up a similar system for instance runs: no more summoning stones since everyone is on a different server, for example. Everyone would have to make their way to the dungeon themselves like they used to in the dim, barbaric past when cavemen first played WoW.

What do you think? Would we need 'Instance Groups' similar to Battlegroups, or would you just extend the Battlegroup to also be the pool your cross-realm LFG pulled from? Is this even an issue or are folks overestimating how much faster level will effect instancing?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Leveling

Late to the party

Tobold's got a good post up today about players 8,999,999 to 10 million-- folks who've come late to the party that is World of Warcraft. Lots of people like to brag that they started playing on the beta, day one (Tobold's one of those), but I didn't-- while I watched WoW news with close attention, and remember watching a livecast of someone playing a gnome Mage on Winamp, I didn't actually pick up the game until the May after it came out. Still, I was early enough that there were still some newbies to level up with-- I remember grouping at level 5 in Teldrassil with four other people who were discovering the game just like I was.

Nowadays, says Tobold, things just aren't the same-- if you're just coming on board, you might wonder where all the nine million players in this game are (answer: Outland). And with every expansion, the real action will get farther and farther away from the starting zones-- would you come to this game when WotLK releases if you knew that you had 80 levels and two expansions to get through before you joined the rest of the world?

There are probably benefits to coming late to the party as well-- nowadays, we have guides aplenty, and you don't have to suffer through any of the old bugs or balance problems that have already been fixed. And if you're looking for single-player content, there's plenty to go through. But joining up with the other 10 million players now isn't nearly the same experience that everyone had a few years ago.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Expansions

Breakfast Topic: How new would a new class have to be?

I can't stop thinking about new classes these days for some reason. Perhaps it's Blizzcon and the hope that Blizzard will announce a new expansion with new classes in it. In any case, I'm thrilled by the challenge of how to design a new class (or even new class abilities).

And I'm not the only one. Lots of intelligent writers out there have been thinking about this for a long time. One of them, Tobold, recently changed his mind, and I was struck by something in this change. At first he said that Blizzard should not add new classes because there couldn't possibly be anything fundamentally new in this new class, but later he said that maybe it isn't such a bad idea to have new classes that are pretty similar to what we have already. "People who liked one character class and are starting an alt because they don't enjoy the end-game often are looking for something not so different from what they already played.... Adding more content to a game is never wrong."

So I got to wondering, how new would a new class have to be in order for players to accept it? Is it true that people would just cry "Bah! Another kind of rogue!" or "Humbug! another kind of warlock?" Or would these sorts of initial criticisms just die down gradually as people got used to the new rogue and warlock and whatever else that did basically the same thing in just a different way. After all, if you can reduce all class abilities down to a simple few (damage, crowd control, and healing) then maybe you can expand all these abilities out in a myriad of interesting hybridizations too. Perhaps, with this perspective, the potential for class differentiation is limitless.

What's your opinion?

Filed under: Cheats, Breakfast Topics, Expansions

Avoiding gold-selling scams


Tobold has an interesting post up on getting scammed by businesses claiming to sell in-game gold or items. While, yes, it's easy enough for them to take your money and hand you some in-game cash, it's easier still for them to take your money and then not bother doing anything else. (And try to explain that to your credit card company when you dispute the charges...) And once you've lost real money to such a scammer, what's your next recourse? Well, a lot of people will call customer service and complain -- Sony cited frequent customer service calls as one of the reasons they legitimized the trading business with their Station Exchange. But Blizzard's not going to be able to do anything but snicker when you call and complain that a gold-seller took your money and ran, so, really, buying gold could just leave you with a hole in your real and virtual pocket. The only way to be 100% sure you get what you pay for is obvious: don't buy gold in the first place.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Economy

Optimistic speculation about expansion number two

The lack of information about the next expansion continues, and so does the fabrication by fans hungry for info about new content. This time Tobold lays out what he'd like to see in the next expansion, which he is calling, as a parody of the Burning Crusade, the Freezing Jihad.

He's got some of the usual suspects in there, including the long awaited hero classes. But his biggest suggestion is probably that the expansion focuses on adding oomph (technical term) to the midlevels of the game. In his imagination, there is no new level cap, but rather a complete reworking of everything between 1 and 70, including an all new neutral faction with four new races, and a new continent of quests for players from beginning to end. I doubt we'll get anything near that comprehensive, but it's true that players want more midlevel content. While this is probably beyond their wildest dreams, hopefully Blizzard will at least hear their pleas.

In other places, Tobold is just plain wrong-- we're going to see guild housing before we ever see player housing, and Blizzard has consistently said they want their armor to look like what they say, not what players say. But he's dead right on the new professions-- woodworking and the ability of players to make arrows and bows would both fit perfectly with the lore, and fill a nice hole in crafting that's been there for a long time.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Expansions, Leveling, Factions

Going really, really hardcore with WoW

Tobold linked to a new blog about MMO gaming called Hardcore Casual, and the first entry is a nice one-- it's all about the differences between a "carebear" game like WoW, and the much more hardcore games of the past. His big example is Ultima Online, where players could gank each other and actually loot the corpses. Playing a game where others could steal your armor is very different from playing a game where BoE means it's yours forever.

But you don't have to go back that far to find a really hardcore game-- in Blizzard's own Diablo 2, you could play "hardcore mode," which meant that when your character died, that was it. Game over, no respawns, nothing. Either you lived and beat the game, or you died and lost the ability to play your character and everything with it.

To tell the truth, I'd love to see a server like that in WoW. Not because I'd love to play it (what are you, crazy?), but because the stories coming off of that server would be terrific-- we could all just stand in awe of the character who made it to 70 on the Hardcore server. Or would that even be possible? Especially if the server was PvP (and it would be, wouldn't it?), it seems like an impossible challenge to keep a character alive that long, especially since the other side would be gunning for anyone who got too high. Would you play on a hardcore server, where you could lose your life (and/or your gear)?

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, PvP

Another one bites the dust

First Tobold, and now Mastgrr of Paladin Sucks has exited Azeroth.

Before you yell at us for saying the sky is falling (again), that's not what we're saying at all. WoW has lasted for a long time for a lot of people-- more than almost any other videogame out there (in some cases, ever). For some people, including this first round of bloggers, it's run its course. Just because they're quitting doesn't mean the end of the world (of Warcraft) is upon us. In fact, it doesn't even mean the blogging is over-- Tobold quit a week and a half ago, and he's still blogging about WoW. My guess is that both bloggers will be back when the next expansion hits.

But then again, it's kind of sad that these WoW veterans are stepping out of the game. At least it's productive-- Tobold quit partly because of attunements, and they were lifted the next day. Maybe now that Pally Sucks is RIP, that ret Paladin review will come sooner than we think.

Filed under: Paladin, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Sold to the highest bidder, or is it?

The Auction House system in WoW is one of the more popular mechanics in the game. Having a way to trade goods is one of the ways that Blizzard puts the Massively Multiplayer in MMO. But I know that when I use the AH, 90% of the time I buy something using the buyout price. I don't have the patience to participate in a bidding war. And evidently this is a trend within the game.

Tobold explains that the system is actually designed so that players will be more than likely to choose the buyout rather than play the bidding game. Part of this comes from the fact that to not have an item sell is to lose the down payment we place on it when a bid is first posted. With the Auction House as it is currently designed the bidder gets no sense of the bid prices, of the history of bids, of really any of the information that someone might see on an auction site like eBay. It's actually too transparent for the purpose as an auction system.

There have been suggestions as to how this might be improved. Perhaps, like Tobold says, tweaking the interface so that the auctions have more information provided might work. Reader Joe Szilagyi wrote in with a different suggestion. He mentioned the possibility of making the AH like the PvP system, system-wide rather than server-specific. He explains that this would be a way to bolster the economies of lower population servers while at the same time allowing loot to be available to both the Horde and the Alliance. The daunting task of such a reconfiguration makes this an unlikely solution, but it poses an interesting hypothesis. Either way you look at it, the Auction House system is a good game mechanic with some room for improvement. What would you suggest as a way to fine tune the AH?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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