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Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

A little pre-80 min/maxing can be helpful

Gnomeaggedon has written up a great guide to something a lot of players (including me) haven't worried about at all in the past: min/maxing your gear before you ever hit level 80. Aside from twinking, there seems to be almost no reason to worry much about gear before you hit the endgame -- you can level in almost anything these days, and by the time you hit 80, you'll replace it all anyway. Why bother? But Gnome makes a good point: he says you should put the minimum of effort in to max out your gear's power. Better gear will help you level faster, will help you play better, and I'll even add that it will help you learn your class better; figuring out early on which stats you want to choose over others will be a big help when you are dealing with all of the epics at level 80. You don't have to spend all your time choosing gear pre-80, as most of it will get replaced with regular quest rewards anyway. But it's good to put some thought into it.

So how's it done? Gnome's posts have some excellent tips on browsing Wowhead for new gear, using Rawr to analyze where your character's at now, and eventually looking ahead to what's next (I'll throw Gear Wishlist in again, simply because that's helped me out a lot). There's so many great tools out there for choosing gear, and it's interesting to note that they're still helpful even pre-80. Taking a second to check your gear while leveling up might actually make that grind that much easier.

Filed under: Items, Instances, Leveling, Guides

How the 3.2 Emblems changes will affect the game

As we've heard, patch 3.2 will seriously streamline the Emblems system, allowing players to pick up Ulduar-level Emblems even just by running Heroics. Though lots of the other patch 3.2 changes have taken the spotlight lately, the Emblems change is definitely still a big deal, and while lots of "hardcore" players are up in arms about the changes (they had to raid for the same gear that people will now be able to get just by running Heroics, and even the brand new Emblems of Triumph gear will be attainable through Heroic dailies), other players are just confused by the whole thing. Fortunately, if you haven't yet wrapped your head around what all the changes mean, Clearcasting has a really excellent, thorough writeup about the Emblems changes, both explaining what you'll be able to get from where, and why Blizzard has decided to do things this way.

The biggest fear seems to be that players who have never raided before will start walking around in Ulduar- or even Coliseum-level gear, and they'll get invited to raids based on their gear, only to find that they're clueless about what to do. But I like Arioch's point there: does that mean we don't have clueless raiders now? Of course we do -- the gear you're wearing doesn't say anything about what you've done now, and it'll say even less after the patch. Players are already requiring achievements, and even that doesn't necessarily guarantee you're a good player.

Will there be bad PuGs after the patch? Of course, and there are bad PuGs now, too. But this is definitely a helpful change for anyone with alts, and while yes, it will allow non-raiders to get better gear, and it will probably bring raiders back into Heroics more often, it still won't affect those who are raiding at the highest levels. They'll still get the best gear earlier than everyone else, so if that's what's important to them, they've got nothing to complain about.
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, Bosses

Solving the mathmatical tangles of ArPen

Armor penetration is probably one of the most misunderstood stats in the game, for a number of reasons. First of all, it's only become popular lately -- while it's been in the game since 1.10, it's only started showing up regularly on items in Wrath. And even then it's really only a meta-meta stat: the core abilities like Strength and Agility are easy to understand, the next level of abilities are things like hit rating and crit rating, and then armor penetration, you could argue, goes another level after that: it's a stat that affects a stat affected by a stat. It's for that reason, then, that Xanthan argues we need a more elegant solution.

Armor penetration basically allows you to hit an opponent as if they're wearing less armor than they really are. That's not to hard to understand -- if you have a certain amount of armor penetration, then the opponent armor number in the equation that determines damage done is lower (edit: by a percentage, not a number) than it would usually be. But the confusion comes in when you see how armor penetration scales. It actually scales exponentially, not linearly -- if you have no ArP and you increase it by a little bit, you only get a little extra damage increase. But if you have a lot, and you add a little more onto that, then you'll get a bigger damage increase, due to the way the math works (I'm bad at math, but Xanthan has an excellent, clear description of the calculations in the forum thread, and we've posted some explanations before as well). Blizzard recently capped ArP at 100% (so you could never get into a place where you're reducing armor below the amount of armor that's there), but it's still possible to have the amount of armor reduced equal the amount of armor on a target, causing the equation of armor vs. armor penetration to divide by 0, and at that point, things get wacky, and terms like "infinite damage" come into play.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Buffs

Quantifying Wrath's success

The Egotistical Priest has a good series of posts up attempting to somehow quantify whether Wrath has been an overall success or not. Of course, it's definitely a financial success, but has the game's second expansion delivered what both players and Blizzard expected it to? Vonya sets out to find out in what has turned into a three part post: you can find parts one and two on the site now, and part three is set to come out tomorrow.

So far, the answer is yes: while the area of Tradeskills is noted as less than a success (it seems to me, too, that tradeskills had more variety and options in Burning Crusade than their current state in Wrath, though that might be because we're only partway through the expansion cycle), everything else is noted as a win for Blizzard: they've really beefed up questing, balance has been intriguing since Wrath (and even if one class has rubbed you wrong, consider how many players came running back with the expansion patch to re-try their class), and of course, Achievements have (predictably) brought the game to new levels of addiction and given players of all kinds new things to do.

Vonya still plans to tackle instancing and raiding as the other two criteria for Wrath's success (and there are probably a few other ways you could test it -- lore? setting?), but by the reasoning so far, Wrath is a win no matter how you slice it. Blizzard has outdone themselves with the second expansion -- the only question is where they'll go from here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Classes, Wrath of the Lich King

Datamined Ulduar boss information, with analysis

Yes, yes, we know you're curious about what the Ulduar boss encounters will be like, loyal readers. With 14 bosses, 11 hard modes, and an optional heroic boss, we wonder, too! We'll be able to test some of these encounters on the 3.1 PTR soon, but there are, of course, those of us who just can't wait to know anything about what's going on in Ulduar.

Luckily, ever-resourceful players and dataminers have acquired information about spells and abilities related to bosses in Ulduar from the 3.1 PTR files. There's a lot of of stuff in here -- some of it may make it into the live game, some may not, and some may be related to vehicles or other sundries involved with encounters. I'm going to go into detailed analysis of those encounters for which detailed spells exist.

It goes without saying that these will be huge spoilers to anyone who doesn't want their Ulduar experience to be anything but pure, so don't read past the jump if you don't want to know!

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King

Analysis of stated 3.1 rogue changes

All right, rogues. So by now some of you have likely read our list of 3.1 changes for our bloodthirsty class, and if not, you should! Right now! Make no mistake, these are some very cool changes, and even if this is the whole list (it's not), I'm pretty happy with how things are shaping up--not just for rogues, but for all the classes mentioned so far.

If you haven't read through them yet or if you're not a big theorycrafter, you can take a moment and read through our analysis of how 3.1 will (so far) affect you, the rogue.

Let's have a look!

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Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Analysis / Opinion

What Blizzard did right (and wrong) with the world event


I've been waiting to do some breakdown analysis of the Wrath world event until it actually ended, and since we're now swarming over Northrend and exploring Arthas' domain, I think the time has come to determine a verdict on whether or not Blizzard's world event delivered.

The short answer? I think it did, but not without a few bumps along the way. This was certainly the most ambitious world event Blizzard has attempted yet, both reusing some of their old techniques (the Scourge invasion), some newer tricks (a special boss with extra loot, which they learned from the Horseman last year), and even some tricks they picked up from players. But there were certain issues -- the timing was just plain bad, and the event really fizzled out rather than finished with a bang.

After the break, we run through what Blizzard did right and wrong with the world event, and what we can expect in the future.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Analyst: Wrath will sell five million copies

Here's our first analysis of Wrath sales (actually second, if you count Mike Morhaime's take on the subject): someone thinks it's going to sell big. Gamasutra reports that Mike Hickey of Janco Partners is predicting sales of five million copies for Wrath's first month in stores, which would basically make it the most popular expansion pack of all time. Burning Crusade, a pack that just barely beat out The Sims, sold 2.4 million copies in the first 24 hours, and 3.5 million within the first month, and so Hickey is looking at a little less than double that for the Northrend expansion.

Huge numbers indeed, and yet they don't seem that surprising -- WoW's population has grown since Burning Crusade was released for sure, and while pretty much everyone agrees that not all players will be buying the expansion right away (our own informal poll has about 13% of our readers waiting, not to mention all of the players in other markets around the world), but if even 1/4 of WoW's 11 million players decide to pick up the game on launch, we're still looking at 2.75 million copies, more than BC.

No matter what, Blizzard will make a lot of money, and very likely break all records anyway next week. Wrath of the Lich King will be huge.

[via BigDownload]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

The Colosseum: Retrospective and Analysis, pt. I

The Colosseum takes us inside the world of the Gladiator (Brutal, Vengeful, Merciless, and otherwise), to interview some of the top Arena fighters in the battlegroups. Our goal is to bring a better understanding of the strategy, makeup, and work that goes into dueling it out for fame, fortune, and Netherdrakes.

Season 4 ended some time ago, and Wrath is only a few weeks away. While we don't have official word about when Season 5 will start, it probably won't be until Blizzard's finished balancing the classes. Right now, the Arena is a sort of blasted land, filled with teams taking advantage of the relatively unrated play to experiment with new compositions, new talents, and new strategies.

We're going to take advantage of the break ourselves, by looking at the collective of interviews we've gathered in our three months of the Colosseum. There are definitely common themes across what each Arena fighter had to say, and it'd be helpful to take some time and understand what those common themes are, and what they say about the Arena.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Interviews, Arena, The Colosseum

Can Blizzard fix all their launch problems in Wrath?

Our good friend Relmstein (who I was able to finally meet in person at BlizzCon this year) is back to blogging about World of Warcraft, even though he was on a WAR trip for a while there. But we're glad to have him back -- yesterday, he posted about how Wrath might tackle all the launch issues we saw with the Burning Crusade.

Everyone knows by now that Blizzard has split the entry area into two different areas (with four total Northrend entry points, one for each faction), and of course there's also Death Knights to roll, so hopefully the lag problem is helped (hard to believe it could actually be solved). But Relmstein has other ideas in mind: the dynamic spawn system (mobs will spawn faster the more people there are around killing them) causes some crazy repops last time, and hopefully that's been evened out a bit. He's also worried about the "leveling truce" on PvP servers -- during the last expansion, everyone was more interested in exploring than fighting for the first few levels, but if you missed that ad-hoc "truce," you had new level 70s beating you down as you were trying to explore the world. Hopefully the Lake Wintergrasp PvP zone will keep PvPers busy without griefing all of the people trying to see Northrend for the first time.

And later on, the Karazhan bump is a worry as well -- lots of guilds, early on in BC, were crushed by Karazhan's 10-man limit and the gear checks in there. Will 10-man Naxx also cause a ton of guild breakups, or will the 10/25 man split help guilds play what they want to play? We'll have to see how it all works out -- this is only the second time Blizzard has released this amount of content into the game, so while they're sure to have evened out some problems, you have to think that there will still be a few bumps in the road.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Raiding, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

Breaking down Blizzard's world event so far

Blizzard, as we've said already, has really outdone themselves with this latest world event. It's been so fun and so innovative that players are wondering just why the rest of the game hasn't been this good so far (even though, of course, it's been superb anyway). The zombie invasion really gave players of MMOs everything they've wanted since this genre first came into being -- a growing, changing world populated not by mindless AI characters stuck in static patterns, but actual, creeping story and chaos. For all of the anti-zombie whining, this world event has been MMO gameplay at, I'd say, the best it's ever been.

And while I was waiting until the event completely ended to do a final analysis, Colin Brennan over at Massively isn't waiting -- he's got a good analysis up over there about the zombie event and just why it was so brilliant. He describes how the world event not only gave players a terrific reason to hate Arthas enough to go to Northrend and want to fight him, but how the gameplay design of the event (when you are killed by a zombie, you become one) was tuned towards fueling the story and the immersion. As he says, the best way to fight the plague was to embrace the fact it was in the game, whether you were a zombie or a cleansing Paladin.

There's lots more to dissect with this world event, including how Blizzard brilliantly invoked something that had happened by accident -- the Corrupted Blood plague -- and incorporated it into the game itself, and how the various zombie abilities were aimed directly at gameplay only possible in an MMO, from the AoE healing to the shrinking plague incubation time. I'll go so far as to say it expanded the boundary of what an MMO can do -- Blizzard let zombies loose on the populace not by hiring GMs to run around on every server, but by giving power to the players. But again -- there'll be time for analysis later, once we've discovered ingame just exactly what's going on here and how it all ties to Arthas. Colin's analysis is a good start, though -- Blizzard really outdid themselves with, even considering the complaints, one of the best world events ever seen in an MMO.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Quests, Lore

Phat Loot Phriday: Crossbow of Relentless Strikes


BM Hunters, here's something you can spend those Badges on.

Name: Crossbow of Relentless Strikes (Wowhead, Thottbot, Goblin Workshop)
Type: Epic Crossbow
Damage/Speed: 182-339 / 2.80 (93.0 DPS)
Abilities:
  • It can strike relentlessly, obviously.
  • Improves hit rating by 14 and crit strike rating by 18, and increases attack power by 32.
  • The hit is very nice for a bow and it takes up a good chunk of the +hit you need to meet the hit cap, which means you probably will have a gem or two free elsewhere to add more Agility into the mix. The crit is nice, and more attack power is always a good thing obviously.
  • But the real stat on this bow is its speed -- while the damage ain't the best, the lower speed makes it easier for BM Hunters especially to match up their Steady Shot/Autoshot rotation, which means more DPS overall. This bow is a gift from Blizzard to Beastmaster Hunters,
How to Get It: It's relatively easy -- just lug 150 Badges of Justice (those things have to be heavy, right?) to the Badge Vendors in Quel'danas or Shattrath. There's 22 Badges in a full Karazhan clear, and Heroics have about 3-5 each (plus a few more for the daily quest), so run Kara and the daily Heroics all week long, and it should only take you about two or three weeks to pick up all the badges you need. Throw in some ZA if your guild is running that one, and add in the fact that you probably already have a few badges in the bank, and this baby's almost in your hands. It'll last you at least until Sunwell, too, and even if the expansion rolls around before you can make it in there, you should at least be able to get a level or two under your belt before it eventually gets replaced by a green. If you're looking for something to do ingame before the expansion, this bow's not a bad goal to have -- think of all the rep, other gear, and gold you'll pull out of running all these instances, too.

Getting Rid of It: Disenchants into a Void Crystal, but just like most Badge gear, vendors won't buy it back from you. As I said, odds are that if you don't replace it with a Sunwell piece, you'll probably replace it at some point in Northrend. But the thrill of gear isn't in having it, it's in chasing it, right?

Filed under: Hunter, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Instances, Phat Loot Phriday

Azeroth Security Advisor: Patient patching prevents pestilence

Every other week, computer security expert Jon Eldridge is your Azeroth Security Advisor. He will delve into the darkest reaches of computer security rumor and bring the facts back home even if they're wriggling at the end of a pike. His goal is to provide useful information to gamers who don't think about security much and flame fodder for those self appointed experts who need to rationalize the cost of their expensive certifications. Like any good security force he's a mercenary at heart and is happy to take subject requests from the user community that he serves. So feel free to leave a comment below or just sit back and enjoy the show.

It's Friday night at 6:45 pm server time. Your raid begins in 15 min and you think you're ready to go. Narrowly escaped another speeding ticket trying to get home from work in time? Check. Belly full of pizza? Check. Mind totally polluted on bad tasting energy drink? Ch3cK! Dog fed and walked? Check. TiVo recording the latest over hyped drivel? Check. Kids unconscious. Check. Parents or domestic partner unconscious or otherwise leaving you alone for one damn second? Check. When will they understand that you ARE being social by locking yourself in the computer room all night... jeez!

Time to rock and roll! Or not. What's this? A patch? On Friday night? Agony, shame and defeat. Azeroth will not know the terror of your blade this night. Gornak the mighty has been caged by some dweeb code monkey and their total POS patch system. Your raid leader is going to KILL you. Wait, what about downloading the patch from the Internet? Just Google up the patch number and let your cable modem download it at lightning speed right?

Don't do it.

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Filed under: Patches, Account Security, Azeroth Security Advisor

Has Growl been changed or not?

Ever since it was reported that in 2.4.2, threat generated by Growl would no longer scale with pet attack power, Hunters have been trying to figure out what that means. Will it only scale with Hunter attack power? Is there any way to get Growl's threat up? Just what is the relationship between the threat generated by Growl and the stats listed on both Hunter and pet? The Mystic Hunter has been working to try and figure things out, but the stats he's found have actually been more confusing than clarifying -- he did a series of tests on the Live server and then on the Test server... and found them to be the same.

Say wha? Mystic found that threat is clearly scaling with Pet AP, and not with Ranged AP (he shot RAP way high using the Core of Ar'kelos and a few other gear pieces, and had no noticeable affect on threat generated by Growl).

So not so fast on that Growl change -- if it is going to be implemented in 2.4.2, it hasn't been put out there yet (which, considering that the 2.4.2 testing is supposed to be almost over, makes us think it won't happen this patch at all). Of course, if the fix doesn't come out, then the original problem is still there. These Growl issues are turning out to be a huge headache for both Hunters and Blizzard.

Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Buffs

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