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Posts with tag Vanilla-WoW

WoW Archivist: A Glyphmas story

Scrolls of glyphs
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?

Professions in Warlords of Draenor feel completely different than at any other era in WoW. Creating powerful items is no longer a matter of farming, luck, or gold. Instead, we have to produce their key ingredients via garrison work orders. Leveling crafting professions is no longer about creating a bunch of useless items that we instantly vendor or disenchant, and reaching max level is now a slow burn instead of a quick grind. This is the first expansion where I haven't hit max level on all my professions within the first week or two.

The profession that has changed the most is the most recent: Wrath of the Lich King's inscription, added in 2008. Even the interface changed: the glyph window was originally part of the spellbook UI, not the talent pane. Because of those changes, for a few very special weeks, inscription transformed the financial futures of countless WoW players. I was one of them. We called it Glyphmas, and it was magical.

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WoW Archivist: Upper Blackrock Spire

Whelps and eggs in the Rookery
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?

You may have taken Upper Blackrock Spire, Warlord Zaela, but the classic version lives in our hearts, where your orc friends can't get to it. In 2005, UBRS was the dungeon everyone desperately aspired to run. They begged to run it. They paid to run it. They sat in capital cities for hours just hoping, dreaming, that someone, somehow, would put together a UBRS group.

The dungeon was the pinnacle of content for classic WoW's "nonraiders" and the gateway to raiding for raiders. Quests here attuned you for Onyxia's Lair and Blackwing Lair. (And who doesn't love a good lair?) Another quest allowed your Molten Core raid to summon Majordomo Executus. No endgame PvE'er could avoid UBRS, even if they wanted to. We didn't avoid it, though, because the original "Ubers" (OO bers), as players affectionately called it, was awesome.

What made it so special? Why was it so revered, and why are some players sad that it has been removed from WoW forever? Let's turn back the Empowered Hourglass to 2005 to find out.

Ascension

UBRS, like many of WoW's classic endgame dungeons, required a key to enter. It was not nearly as simple as grinding out some reputation -- click the link for the full rundown of just how painful getting this key was. Even the quest giver knew trying to get a key would be awful. He told you, "Understand this, mortal: the chance that one of the three generals of the lower citadel would carry a gemstone at any given time is rare. You must be vigilant in your quest. Remain determined!"

In early 2005, when many players were finally hitting the endgame, very few had a Seal of Ascension to grant UBRS access. To put this in perspective, by the end of classic, my guild of more than 200 people only had about five or six keys. If you had a key, you had two choices. You could hide in your guild and only do guild runs. Or you could advertise that you had one to your realm, find yourself on everyone's friend list, and get requests day and night, every time you logged in, to run UBRS. Even if you tried to keep it a secret, someone in your guild may have outed you. Once that cat was out of the bag, your WoW experience changed dramatically. You were now a realm celebrity.

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WoW Archivist: Epics

Bulwark of Azzinoth
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?

Leveling through Draenor has been a blast, but as a player from classic WoW, a few things have struck me as incredibly strange. Triple-digit numbers in the guild panel. Sending NPCs to do quests on my behalf. And most of all, getting epic armor and weapons from solo leveling quests.

Many players in classic WoW (and not just raiders) opposed making epics more available to players. They called Blizzard's evolving attitude a slippery slope. "What's next," they argued, "epics for doing solo quests?" They never actually imagined that would happen. In 2005 it would have been unthinkable. Eight years later, here we are. But it's all been by design -- an evolving design with many steps along the way. Let's look at how we got here, one random drop at a time.

The few, the proud, the epic

In early classic WoW, only one path allowed you to deck out your character in purple items: 40-player raiding. Other raiding didn't cut it. Bosses in the 15-player (later 10-player) Upper Blackrock Spire dropped rares. Even bosses in the 20-player raids, Zul'Gurub and Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, dropped mostly rares when they first opened their instance portals. Only their end bosses consistently dropped epic loot.

Outside of 40-man raids, a handful of bosses had a very small chance to drop an epic item. Emperor Thaurissan in Blackrock Depths had a tiny chance to drop Ironfoe. The "tribute run" chest from Dire Maul very rarely offered up Treant's Bane -- and I'll never forget the joy in my warrior friend's voice when it dropped for him, all those years ago. DM was also the source of the highly coveted tanking weapon Quel'Serrar, but the quest item to obtain it had an incredibly low drop rate.

Back then, even the recipes to craft epics (such as the awesome Force Reactive Disk) could only be obtained from 40-player raids.

Even if you were raiding with 39 of your closest online friends, earning purples was no picnic. With two drops per boss at first, odds of getting an item on any given run were slim. You could complete a full clear without a single drop for your class and spec. Each epic you equipped generally represented several weeks of endgame effort. When a player sauntered through Orgrimmar or Ironforge in head-to-toe purples, players knew this was a person who had spent many, many hours on that character.

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WoW Archivist: The zombie plague event

Zombies attack
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?

We have one more week of the Iron Horde invasion event before we can take the fight through the portal to Draenor. Most players seem to think this event is serviceable, if unexciting. Like all such events, it lives in the shadow of the most memorable pre-expansion event in WoW's long history: the zombie plague. It debuted almost exactly six years ago, and Blizzard has never topped it.

If you need evidence, just look at the comments on the previous WoW Archivist about patch 3.0. I only mentioned the event in passing as a topic for a future column. Even so, readers posted more about the plague event than about any of the other 3.0 features like achievements, glyphs, or pally nerfs.

Shaking the foundations

Although the players knew some kind of Scourge-based event awaited us, no one knew the details or the scope. At midnight on October 22, 2008, it began. Argent Dawn members appeared in capital cities to warn us. "The Lich King is attempting to make his presence known," they said. "We must not let this occur."

At the event's inception, WoW Insider posted an article speculating on what we might soon face, and our hopes turned out to be prophetic:

Will it be a simple replay of the Scourge Invasion that brought Naxxramas to our shores for the first time? Or will it be something even more sinister, a world event that shakes the very foundations of the World of Warcraft as we know it?

Call us destructive, but we're kind of hoping for the second.

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WoW Archivist: Patch 3.0 -- Echoes of Doom

Patch 3.0.2 official poster
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?

Patch 6.0 is finally upon us. Like all pre-expansion patches, it has been both invigorating and chaotic. Almost exactly six years ago, a similar patch went live to begin a new era in WoW. Blizzard called Wrath of the Lich King's pre-expansion patch "Echoes of Doom." On October 14, 2008, this third version of the game gave us the brand-new achievement system, inscription and glyphs, 51-point talent trees, the zombie plague event, and TO THE GROUND, BABY. Read on to see what WoW was like for those turbulent few weeks before Wrath of the Lich King's launch.

Dalaran, where art thou?

Through all of classic and The Burning Crusade, Dalaran sat in northern Hillsbrad, but players couldn't see it. An opaque purple dome walled off the Kirin Tor from the world at large. At the time, the enormous structure was one of the most striking landmarks in Azeroth. Although a few quests hinted at what lay beneath it, players new to the WoW universe had no idea what was there.

And then it was gone.

All that remained was a city-sized crater. I remember making a pilgrimage to this site during the 3.0 prepatch just to see it for myself. We couldn't go to Northrend yet to see the city first-hand. We had to wait for the launch of Wrath to do that. But looking at that crater certainly fired the imagination. I couldn't wait to find out what had been lurking under that dome for the first four years of the game.

I have to say, the city lived up to my high expectations.

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WoW Archivist: Class protests and the Million Gnome March

Naked gnomes everywhere
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?

Betas make players nervous about their class. It happens every time. Blizzard makes changes, often drastically, and for better or worse some people hate the changes. I've been keeping my eye on the beta class forums since the Warlords beta began, and I've seen a lot of unhappiness this time around. The ability pruning that was one of Blizzard's major design goals for classes this year has removed depth from rotations, taken away both utility and cosmetic options, and in some cases radically altered or deleted abilities that players enjoyed. Beta testers have voiced strong opposition to many of the changes.

In ten years, I haven't seen players this up in arms about class issues since classic WoW -- an era when many specs and mechanics were simply broken in PvE, PvP, or both.

This past Friday, something happened that I believed would never again happen in WoW: an in-game class protest. With much more open lines of communication from developers to players in recent years, I thought the game had matured beyond the point where such things would ever be necessary. But here we are, almost ten years after the most famous class protest in WoW's history, and players once again felt the need to gather in Azeroth to voice their complaints.

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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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WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience, part 3

Ragnaros

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?

If you missed part 1 and part 2, that means you were late for the raid and we're docking you 50 DKP. Next time get here early to help the warlocks farm soul shards.

OK, fellow archivists! We've cleared trash, we've decursed, we've pulled Geddon to Garr's room, we've brefriended the Duke, and we've doused every fiery rune. It's time to delve into the core of the Core to take on the Majordomo and Ragnaros himself, 2005 edition.

The invincible majordomo

Undefeated in battle, Executus rose through the ranks of Ragnaros's lieutenants to become the Firelord's majordomo. He did not appear until you doused all the runes, so the earliest raids on Molten Core had to stop after Golemagg and Sulfuron due to an Aqual Quintessence shortage.

After raiders repped up with the Hydraxian Waterlords and could finally summon the Majordomo, they were faced with an invincible warrior -- literally. Executus could not be killed. His Aegis of Ragnaros spell gave him a 30K damage absorb buff and healed him to full, so it was pointless to DPS him.

Instead, raids had to manage his eight adds: four Flamewaker Elites and four Flamewaker Healers. Mages were the key to this fight as they had the only reliable, long-term crowd control spell for humanoids. The fight required at least five tanks, one for the majordomo and one for each elite. All four healers were sheeped until all the elites were dead. Then the raid could kill the healers one at a time.

But it wasn't that simple. The fight had some interesting complications.

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WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience, part 2

A rune in Molten Core
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?

In the last WoW Archivist, we covered the early parts of Molten Core: the "attunement," the grueling trash clear to Lucifron, and the weird hunter-focused mechanics of Magmadar. As we left off, the raid had just reached its first rune. To douse the rune and (eventually) summon Majordomo Executus, you had to make friends with an angry royal guy made of water.

The duke of douse

Duke Hydraxis, as a water elemental, wasn't very fond of other elemental types, particularly Ragnaros or his fiery kin. His Hydraxian Waterlords were the first raid-based reputation in WoW. You could rep up with them before setting foot in Molten Core by killing certain elementals out in the world, but only up to just shy of honored. After that, you had to run MC to get additional rep. Trash gave rep until revered, but only boss kills got you through the slow grind to exalted.

Meanwhile, you could complete a small quest chain for the Duke. He first sent you to kill elementals in Plaguelands and Silithus, and then to obtain an item from Pyroguard Emberseer in Blackrock Spire. Further quests involved killing specific trash mobs and bosses in Molten Core. Hands of the Enemy quite literally asked you to bring him the severed hands of Lucifron, Gehennas, Shazzrah, and Sulfuron. Once completed, you could loot the duke's coffer and choose one of two very valuable fire resistance rings. At this point, the duke also gave you an Aqual Quintessence, one of the most famous items from classic WoW.

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WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience

Lucifron
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?

Are you ready to return to the Core? Last week, we learned that Blizzard is planning a 40-player LFR version of classic's Molten Core raid as part of WoW's 10th anniversary celebration. Regardless of what they have in mind, the experience is certain to be very different than it was back in 2005.

Sure, you've probably solo'ed MC or cleared it with a few friends. But what was a Molten Core run like during classic WoW, when conquering Ragnaros and his fiery lieutenants was the pinnacle of endgame content? Read on to find out.

Zoning in

To access Molten Core at release, raids had to fight their way through the 5-player Blackrock Depths dungeon in order to access the raid. Today that would be impossible, but originally, dungeons had the same 40-player cap as raids.

Those poor, poor fools in BRD didn't stand a chance with three dozen+ players carving their way through. Since clearing it offered nothing but a timesink, Blizzard changed the Molten Core discovery quest into an attunement in March 2005. You had to reach the entrance of Molten Core once, and then you could port there directly by jumping out of a small window in Blackrock Mountain.

The game sometimes failed to register the instance transfer and you plummeted into a vast lake of lava. Yes, Molten Core could kill you before you even set foot in it.

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Breakfast Topic: Do you miss vanilla?

With the 10th anniversary events announced, it's clear that Blizzard is trying to take us -- in a way -- back to the days of vanilla WoW, with PvP battles between Tarren Mill and Southshore and an updated 40-player Molten Core raid. But as a vanilla-era player myself, I have to ask: does anyone really miss those days?

While 40-player raids sound epic in scale, the effort coordinating 40 players to be at the same place at the same time -- much less getting them to act as a cohesive unit -- was a fairly major undertaking. And though the new Molten Core takes away some of the headaches by making the event LFR, getting even 25 people to work together in LFR is a challenge.

Will I be in the new anniversary version of Molten Core with everyone else? Sure. (After all, I want a Core Hound mount as much as anyone.) But have I missed running Molten Core all these years? Not really. What about you, fellow raiders? Are you feeling nostalgic for the good old days of vanilla?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Archivist: One night of payback in 2006

Theramore
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?

An interesting aspect of the ongoing Ashran faction hub debate is the fear people express that their hubs will be raided by enemy players, since the new hubs are adjacent to a PvP zone. Blizzard pointed out that the hubs will be better defended by NPCs than the Shrines are now -- and the Shrines currently see few serious attacks on live realms, despite their close proximity.

On most realms today, little large-scale world PvP occurs, and even fewer faction raids. Faction raids were once a huge part of the game, even on PvE realms. You couldn't kill opposing players on PvE realms if they didn't want to be killed, but you could deny them their questgivers, flightmasters, and other crucial NPCs. And we did that, on both sides, throughout classic WoW.

Easy targets like the Crossroads, Astranaar, Grom'gol, and Refuge Pointe were raided almost daily. If your faction was heavily outnumbered, like mine was on Khadgar-US back then, it could be infuriating. We had our small victories at times, as I covered in my first Archivist column. But many days, all we could do was stand by and watch as the Alliance occupied our towns for hours at a time and took away our ability to level effectively.

On our first anniversary in 2006, my guild set out for some payback. Today I'd like to share that tale of classic world PvP, from the era when faction raids were serious business.

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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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WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
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?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

WoW Archivist: Expansion gaps

Gap in the bridge on the Timeless Isle
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?

Expansion gaps are the most reviled of all content gaps. It's not just because they are the longest -- it's because at the other end of the gap lies so much to look forward to. Expansions change WoW from top to bottom. They usher in brand new worlds to explore and bring us new ways to play the game. That's part of why it takes Blizzard so long to release them.

In the meantime, we wait, mired in the old, but excited about the new.

We are experiencing what is likely to be the longest expansion gap so far in WoW's 10-year history. But what about the expansion gaps of the past? How do they stack up? What did Blizzard offer and what were players' reactions to them? Read on to find out!

Classic WoW to The Burning Crusade

Dates: August 22, 2006 to January 16, 2007
Duration: 4 months, 25 days
Subscriptions: Rising
Mood: Excited

The first expansion gap was also the shortest. It felt like a long time to players back then, since classic WoW offered patches and content at a blistering pace for the first two years of the game. Players were impatient, yes. That never changes. But we knew WoW was a hit and we were thrilled that the success of the game had made an expansion possible. We couldn't wait to roll a blood elf or a draenei, or take to the skies and fly for the first time. Plus, most raiding guilds hadn't conquered every boss (or even close), so they had plenty to keep them busy.

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