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Mists of Pandaria bestiary and Temple of Kotmogu previews now available

Official WoW site updated with battleground previews and Mists of Pandaria Bestiary
The official World of Warcraft community site was updated with more Mists of Pandaria previews today. The latest previews are for the next expansion's two new battlegrounds, the Temple of Kotmogu and Silvershard Mines. Both previews showcase the battlegrounds' basic objectives, unique features, and some shiny new screenshots that highlight the aesthetic beauty of the battlegrounds before we litter them with (Alliance) corpses.

For those of you who are interested, WoW Insider's Olivia Grace covered the Temple of Kotmogu and Silvershard Mines earlier this month. Her previews don't have as many pretty pictures, but they're more in-depth on gameplay and tactical information.

In addition to the battleground previews, the official site was updated with a Mists of Pandaria Bestiary. The bestiary will give you a first look into all the new, non-playable races you'll find on the Wandering Isle. You should totally check out the Grummles -- they're my favorite new race.

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft War College: Getting Geared

Daxxarri has hit the official World of Warcraft blog with a new feature called the World of Warcraft War College, a new initiative to open up the PvP scene to more players with information, forum topics, and discussion about breaking into player-versus-player action. Discussions between players, mixed with official Blizzard topic suggestion and input, are hoped to fuel a new avenue of information for players looking to get into the scene.

This week's discussion is all about getting geared up for PvP. Gear is important in PvP because of the resilience rating, which increases your effectiveness and defenses specifically against other players. Daxxarri asks players to discuss their best techniques and tricks to gear up quickly to be competitive in Battlegrounds and Arenas. Do you have something to share? Hit up the official thread on the WoW community forums.

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Filed under: PvP

Blizzard improves the WoW community site (again)

Blizzard debuted the new World of Warcraft community site a while back, and it's definitely a huge improvement over the old one, which was really outdated and rarely helpful. The new site has a built-in Armory, better forums, a fairly robust Game Guide, and even regular dev blogs to give some insight on the development process.

Apparently the improvements don't stop there, though, as Blizzard recently announced a laundry list of updates for the site, including:
  • Rotatable 3-D models for gear in the item database
  • Boss info pages, loot tables, and ability information
  • Improved, easier-to-read search results
  • And more!
Check out the full list of changes and updates after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Dev Watercooler: Ghostcrawler discusses the number of player abilities

In his continuing conversational blog series Dev Watercooler, Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street (lead systems designer) muses about the number of abilities players have, what the sweet spot is in terms of quantity, the need for all classes to have a viable AoE rotation, and the difference between rotational abilities and situational abilities. From a game design perspective, this might be the coolest Dev Watercooler yet.

Read this full Dev Watercooler after the break, or check out the other Dev Watercoolers with Ghostcrawler:

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Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Patch 4.1: Blizzard explains upcoming guild challenges

One of the cool new guild features coming with patch 4.1 is a set of guild challenges, weekly tasks that charge your guild groups with completing objectives in dungeons, raids, and rated battlegrounds. These challenges are built right into the guild information pane and do not require party or raid members to have a quest to share or anything. After completing a challenge, the members who completed it gain rewards like gold, guild experience, and more!

Guild challenges will require a guild group to complete, meaning three out of five group members must be guildies in dungeons, eight out of 10 for 10-man raids and rated battlegrounds, and 20 out of 25 for 25-man content. The challenges can only be completed a certain number of times a week, and they add guild experience over the cap for the week. Blizzard is promising "substantial" sums of gold going to the guild vaults with these new features.

Hit the jump for the full announcement.

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Filed under: Guilds

Cory Stockton addresses Tol Barad balance

In an informative tell-all, Cory Stockton, WoW's lead content designer, has posted a blog entry discussing the past, present, and future of Tol Barad, its cousin Wintergrasp, and his hopes for the balance changes that will soon be coming to Tol Barad. One particular issue mentioned is that the attacking side in Tol Barad is less favored as part of the design, but taking Tol Barad is too hard, as opposed to being just challenging. Check out the post on the WoW community site here, and check back later here on WoW Insider for my writeup and reactions to the changes.

For the most part, I think Stockton's aims, goals, and intentions are good for Tol Barad, and people need to remember that the changes listed are not the end all, be all for the zone. We've got a lot of balancing coming, so hang tight.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: PvP

Blizzard debuts the World of Warcraft Game Guide

The new World of Warcraft community site has, in my opinion, been a marvelous success for Blizzard. It's gorgeous, informative, and updated regularly. We've always wanted this type of outreach from Blizzard, and we got it in spades. And now, Blizzard has expanded the site with the new World of Warcraft Game Guide.

The Game Guide features four illustrated chapters detailing what World of Warcraft is, getting started with the game, basic game mechanics, very detailed visual representations of game and chat etiquette, and an entire section explaining the late PvP and raid game. It is truly a sight to behold, and the people in charge of visualizing and explaining some nebulous concepts have gotten it right in a simple and aesthetically pleasing way. It's really awesome. But the game guide doesn't stop with describing the game alone.

The new race and class pages up the ante on player race information, detailing the story of each race, capital and starting cities, faction leaders, and the story so far. Each race's page is lovingly crafted with gorgeous artwork and awesome story bits. The class pages are just as robust, with lore on the various classes, role descriptions, and more. Blizzard had a lot of fun making these pages, and it shows.

Filed under: Blizzard, Cataclysm

Ghostcrawler explains tanking with a vengeance

Ghostcrawler (lead systems designer) had some very interesting tidbits of information and explanations on the new tanking mechanic vengeance in a recent blog post on the new World of Warcraft community website. Vengeance is a new passive ability that all properly specced tanks receive, which converts damage taken into an attack power bonus to make sure that tank threat scales with the increasing power of DPS.

Ghostcrawler admits that as with all new mechanics, there is much tweaking still to happen to Vengeance. He explains that the ability has been implemented to give tanks the tools needed to retain threat, but not do the job for them.

One interesting point that Ghostcrawler makes is that Blizzard and the designers strive for a healthy balance between the mechanics making tanking possible and players' ability to successfully hold threat. All in all, this is a great post, and I hope for much more from Ghostcrawler like this. I love the systems design posts and rationales behind gameplay design, especially when it covers my role of choice. Check out the whole article on the new community blog.

And, Mr. Street, as for that dinosaur -- screenshots or it didn't happen.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it; nothing will be the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion (available Dec. 7, 2010), from brand new races to revamped quests and zones. Visit our Cataclysm news category for the most recent posts having to do with the Cataclysm expansion.

Filed under: Cataclysm

Official forums are now read-only

The official forums have gone read-only as promised, effectively shutting them down. The new forums, over at the new World of Warcraft community site, are your new go-to forums.

If there are any threads you loved, discussions you cherished, and anything memorable you wish to keep, it would be best to save those now. The forums are staying read-only until the end of the month, and then they are going away forever. End of an era ...

Forums going read-only
These forums will remain read-only until the end of the month, after which they and all of their posts will be removed ... forever! If you have any posts, information, stickies, etc. that you'd like to keep you'll want to have finished saving it before then.

We've all enjoyed the past few years on these forums, and look forward to creating many more with you on the new community site. See you there!

Filed under: News items

World of Warcraft community site preview now live

A preview of the new World of Warcraft community site is now live. It has several tabs that lead you to a blog, the forums (complete with the latest blue posts), services, and a preview of what the armory will look like when fully implemented, among other things. This is the testing phase and also the prelude to a shutdown of the current forums in favor of the ones on the new community site. The full transfer of forum functionality is scheduled to occur sometime this month.

This seems to be a step in the right direction for Blizzard. I really like what I've seen so far. Try putting your character's name in the search field to bring up the armory preview. The search results are in a new format that is easier to search through, in my opinion, as well as a better way to critique yourself at a glance. And the community managers seem to be having a good time with it as well.

Note: The Off Topic forums have not been transferred to the community site and there are no plans to do so.

Update: Forum bans are also not being transferred to the updated forums.

The full text of Blizzard's announcement is after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Official World of Warcraft websites feature Spring Festival gallery

Earlier this week, the World of Warcraft community sites (multi-regional) updated with a gallery from WoW China. Chinese WoW players participated in an event called, "I Love World of Warcraft, I Love Spring Festival" that combined a passion for WoW with the Lunar New Year celebrations. Chinese players submitted pictures of themselves that incorporated both of these things and the community picked their favorites.

This is, by far, one of my favorite galleries that any of the official community teams has ever done. As a blogger here on WoW Insider, I see every day just how much community has been built up around this game, and I know very well that there are faces behind the characters. I've met many of my guildmates in person, and I hear similar stories every single day through WoW Insider's tipline. I love seeing the faces behind the characters, and that is exactly what this gallery does. Sure, they posed for these things and they're not exactly candid, but it still shows that the game is very personal.

We're all players, but we're also people. I much prefer galleries that display that, rather than yet another mount gallery. Mount galleries are cool and all, I just like this better. Go on, check it out!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Galleries

WoW Player Stories updated: Military stories

I'm not Val Kilmer, either.

The official World of Warcraft Community site has updated its Player Stories section with two new stories from military personnel. Both are short and easy reads, so I'm not going to spoil them here for you. They're kind of heartwarming, and help put WoW in a little bit different light. The stories definitely show another side of why some players play the game.

It's pretty easy for some folks to forget that there are people on the other side of the computer. Real live human beings, who have friends and family. And, for some players, the whole reason they're sitting down at the computer in the first place is to get access to those friends and family. And, remember, even Activision CEO Bobby Kotick says one of the great things about World of Warcraft is its social experience.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, News items

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