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WoW Archivist: WoW's 18 weirdest quest items

Rainbow!
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?

Adventuring in Azeroth has never been what some would call "conventional." The weird happens everyday for the heroes of the Alliance and the Horde. After all, we inhabit a world of talking walruses, and recreational marmot punting. But some quest items go above and beyond into the realm of the truly bizarre. In no particular order, here are my top 18.

1. Valoren's Shrinkage Totem

In a questionable mashup of Free Willy, Seinfeld, and a certain infamous subgenre of Japanese hentai, Wavespeaker Valoren asks you to use his "shrinkage totem" on the tentacle horrors imprisoning Wil'hai the whale shark. Why does Valoren carry such a thing around with him? It's better not to ask such questions.

As if we needed another reason to avoid questing in Vashj'ir, Blizzard went out of their way to remind us how all that cold water affects male genitalia. The totem works as advertised, and I can't help but feel a pang of sympathy for those tentacles when they shrivel up.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Dev Watercooler: Pruning the Gardens of War

We've been waiting for it forever and it's finally here -- Blizzard released the first in a series of Dev Watercoolers discussing Warlords of Draenor. This particular post is about systems changes and the reasons behind them. So what did they reveal this time?
  • The upcoming item squish is detailed, both in terms of the reasoning behind it and the effects it will have. In order to ensure old content will still be soloable, you'll even see a buff implemented when higher level characters clear older content to make them even more powerful by comparison.
  • Base damage on player spells and abilities is being removed - all abilities and damage will scale with spell or attack power.
  • Racial traits are being adjusted - high outliers (like, perhaps, Every Man For Himself) will be reduced in power, while obsolete abilities will be removed entirely.
  • In terms of the ability purge (called 'pruning' here), one big target is Cooldowns. Various classes with multiple cooldowns will see them removed or combined.
  • Crowd Control is seeing a significant overhaul and reduction, with a complete list on the blog post - examples include interrupts no longer having added silences, certain CC's like Cyclone now being dispellable, and all stuns now sharing the same DR.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Agony of Anticipation

This is something that I can personally attest to. Waiting for the details when it's near expansion time can be absolutely agonizing. And yet, wait we must - there's simply no alternative. No amount of speculation, simming based on tantalizing glimpses, or twitter bombardment will force those details from Blizzard before they're ready.

Those details Celestalon is talking about are item squish related in this case, but it's not even remotely the only thing we're waiting for details on now. People (myself included) are desperate for details on a host of issues (button bloat, new raids, the lore/storyline) that we're simply not being told yet, and I know how maddening it can be. It gets worse after events like last week's press trip, because interviews and articles begin tantalizing us with tidbits of information. We see bits and pieces, but in these pre-beta days we can't see the whole picture.

I remember during the end of the Wrath of the Lich King's cycle, waiting for details on Cataclysm, and seeing everyone in my guild speculating on every last thing. The worgen models, the new raids, where would the final raid even be, you name it and we speculated on it. Speculation is fun, it's natural when there's a dearth of info, but it's not something you can hold Blizzard to. Often I see people surprised and upset when an expansion ends up not being what they expected, even if Blizzard never once promised them the thing they built up in their anticipation.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Lore, Warlords of Draenor

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Wowhead's talent calculator updated with new Warlords of Draenor talents

In the wake of Blizzard's press event, all sorts of news is burbling out, and among these bits of information are new level 100 talents for rogues, warlocks and warriors. Now Wowhead has updated their Warlords of Draenor talent calculator with these new talents. Some of these changes are pretty amusing.

Rogues, for example, get a new talent at level 100 called Venom Zest, for instance. However, since the video in question didn't actually mouse over said talent, we don't actually know what it does. I like to think it makes venom a delightful accent to any meal. But that's unlikely if you've ever actually eaten with a rogue.

Head on over to Wowhead and take a gander at all the new talents at their talent calculator for Warlords of Draenor. With Celestalon tweeting about an upcoming flood of new information, you should probably keep an eye on it.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

WoW Archivist: The evolution of Alterac Valley

This edition of WoW Archivist was originally published July 13, 2012. Given the Alterac Valley terrain changes introduced in patch 5.4.2, we felt this piece of Warcraft history is worth another look.

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?

The battle was nearly won. Back and forth, a 16-hour war between the Frostwolf Clan and the Stormpike Expedition had ravaged this once-remote valley. Towers and strongholds had been put to the torch. Countless heroes on both sides had fallen to blade and blast. A rampaging troll king had been defeated. Air strikes had rained fire from the sky. Elementals had been summoned and vanquished.

At last, but not without heavy losses, the Frostwolf orcs and their allies had fought their way across the narrow bridge to assault the final bastion of the dwarves. All had sworn to see Vanndar Stormpike dead that day and the valley seized. They would kill him or die in the attempt.

The AV "zone"

The original version of Alterac Valley went live with patch 1.5. Along with Warsong Gulch, these two Battlegrounds were the very first ever added to WoW. Warsong Gulch was designed to be a more traditional PvP experience that anyone who had played Unreal Tournament or Halo could recognize. Some matches could last for a while, but the experience was meant to be a short-term PvP engagement.

Alterac Valley, in its first incarnation, was absolutely nothing like that. AV was not, in any modern sense of the word, a Battleground. AV was a zone.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard's New Player Guide covers human starting zones

If you know a someone who's eager to get started with WoW, first you ought to hit them up with a Recruit A Friend invitation -- but your next step should be to send them to Blizzard's New Player Guide. The latest installment walks newbies through the human starting zone, and though it may seem awfully basic to you and me, for a brand new player this can be just the sort of information necessary to get their gaming experience off to a good start. Especially handy are the tips scattered throughout, explaining simple -- but important -- concepts like tapping monsters, how to see your equipment, and why you should travel on roads. It even warns players about murlocs, which, having lived (and died) through numerous murloc invasions ourselves, we find a bit unfair... though we suspect newer players probably appreciate the warning.

The guide currently covers the human starting zone, broken into levels 1-5 and levels 5-10 -- just enough to launch players into the big, wide world of Azeroth, but with the tips to help newbies land on their feet.

Filed under: News items

WoW Archivist: What has never changed?

Party fights a dragon
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?

With WoW's tenth anniversary fast approaching, one thing is clear: virtually everything in this game has been changed, updated, or replaced at one time or another. The UI, the stats, character creation, raid systems, class abilities, questing -- all have undergone necessary overhauls to keep the game relevant and modern. A question for the Queue last month asked a very interesting question: What in WoW has never, ever changed?

You might think so, but no

Many aspects of the game seem like they have never changed, but they have.

The act of gathering: Sure, Blizzard added bonuses to the professions in Wrath such as the crit bonus for skinning or the HoT from herbalism. And as of Cataclysm, you can now earn XP by gathering. Gathering no longer requires tools. Yet the fundamental mechanics have always been the same: you right click stuff, get the stuff, and skill up so you can click on better stuff. Right?

Back in classic, gathering actually had a chance to fail. Orange difficulty nodes would not cough up their resources to anyone who wandered past with the minimum required skill. Failing three or four times on a node before a successful gathering attempt was not unheard of.

This led to some interesting "PvP" gathering scenarios, even on PvE realms. If two players converged on the node, the first to click it didn't necessarily get the goods. This situation sometimes led to a hilarious "duel" in which both players failed at gathering over and over again. It became a matter of luck, persistence, and rapid clicking. Mining was especially bad, because it used to take multiple strikes to clear out a node. Two players could spend minutes trying to outmine each other on a single rock.

Racial bonuses, enchantments, and items that boosted gathering skills all mattered much more, not just to save time from the failed attempts, but to beat other players to the punch.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard's street rename could have used some more PTR testing

According to Nick Carpenter on Twitter, Blizzard has finally gotten the street that runs between their buildings renamed... but it looks like there's a minor bug in the implementation.


Here's to hoping they manage to hotfix it soon... or we may be stuck with Bizzard Entertainment for a while.

Filed under: News items

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history -- part 2

Joyland statues
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 China, few Western games have been more embraced than World of Warcraft. But few games have endured more scrutiny from the government and more interruptions. As WoW Archivist covered two weeks ago, Chinese players have put up with censorship, endless waits for expansions, and intense bureaucratic meddling that shut the servers down for months. But their enthusiasm for the game remains.

Today, we will look at the more recent years of WoW in China, the raiding scene there, and the game's impact on popular culture, including a certain infamous theme park...

Too soon, Executus

After sorting out issues with the Ministry of Culture and GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publications), WoW operator NetEase was on a roll. Though Cataclysm also faced delays, it launched in China on July 12, 2011 -- just half a year after the Western release. By the standards of prior expansions in China, this release was practically instantaneous.

In a bitter irony, however, the expansion actually arrived too soon.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Reminder: Blizzard Student Art Contest deadline is this Friday

The deadline for the Blizzard Student Art Contest is fast approaching! If you're working on a piece for the Blizzard Student Art Contest, which this year includes four categories for submissions -- Environment Art, Character Art, Weapon Art, or Animation -- note that the deadline for submissions is Friday, January 31. That's this Friday, so if you're still in the middle of working on submission pieces, you better start wrapping them up.

This year's contest includes a gigantic collection of prizes for winners. Grand Prize winners will receive a one year subscription to World of Warcraft, a Blizzard Entertainment notebook featuring an original sketch by a Blizzard artist, a Blizzard T-shirt, and a three-month mentorship by a member of the World of Warcraft art team in the form of email or phone critique of portfolio work. If you have yet to submit your entry, or just want another look at the official rules and information, head to the official contest page and get it in before it's too late. Good luck to all who enter!


Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Contests

WoW Archivist: WoW in China, an uncensored history

Official Chinese WoW site
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?

A few weeks ago, we learned that ten men had been sentenced to two years' imprisonment in China for hacking WoW accounts and selling the stolen gold. It was not the first time that hackers have been punished by the state in China.

The relationship between WoW and China has often been contentious, going back to the early years of the game. While most players there have simply tried to enjoy the game they love, censorship, politics, and illicit activities have all had an impact on their experience.

As we wrap up the Mists of Pandaria expansion, let's not forget that so much of the culture, history, and geography of the expansion was inspired by the real legends and landscapes of China. Today, let's look at the history of WoW in China -- a history as rife with conflict as Pandaria's own.

Pop stars and cola fuel WoW's launch

From the earliest stages, Blizzard had little reason to doubt that WoW would be a hit in China. When the beta signups became available in April 2005, approximately 100,000 people signed up in the first hour. The beta achieved 500,000 concurrent players.

For the Chinese version of WoW, Blizzard partnered with Shanghai-based company The9, who could better handle localization, support, and customer service. The9 launched the classic version of the game on June 7, 2005.

Coca-Cola partnered with The9 to promote the game. For their ads, Coke brought in pop stars such as Taiwanese band S.H.E. (already covered by WoW Archivist), Super Voice Girl winner Li Yuchun, and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang. Although -- or perhaps because -- the TV ads broke China's rules against showing game content on TV, the cross-promotion was a huge success.

(As a side note, Pepsi later struck back with a partnership with Guild Wars the following year. Reportedly, Guild Wars' closed beta was delayed a week in China after Coca-Cola complained about The9's deal with their biggest competitor.)

Within the first month, The9 reported 1.5 million active WoW players in China. Although many Chinese citizens had already been playing on Western realms, this was still a huge achievement at the time for a Western MMO in China.

Unlike the West, most gamers in China play in Internet cafes, and MMO subscriptions are almost always handled on an hourly basis. At launch, WoW authorization keys cost 30 yuan and gametime cards were 0.45 yuan per hour. That converts to about $4 for game access and 6 cents per hour.

Like their Western counterparts, China's realms had their share of launch problems. Long queues and lag plagued realms in the East, too. By early 2006, players had grown increasingly dissatisfied with The9 and threatened a boycott. The9 claimed that difficulty with communicating with Blizzard was behind poor realm performance.

Soon enough, poor realm performance would be the least of players' concerns.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Blizzard Support Callback: Don't call us, we'll call you

Anyone who's had to wait on hold for customer support from Blizzard or anyone else knows, waiting on hold is one of the least fun ways to spend your time. You already have some kind of problem, and now instead of solving it you're sitting with the phone glued to your ear, listening to bad music and mentally counting the hours of your life lost to waiting on hold. (Everyone does that, right?)

Fortunately for all of us, Blizzard has announced that instead of waiting on hold, you can now fill out a form online detailing the problem you're having and they'll give you a call. This means no more phone menus or explaining your problem to a support agent -- they'll have your account info and problem info at hand when they call, so you can dive right into troubleshooting your problem. The feature is available now between the hours of 1PM and 9PM EST (or 10AM and 6PM PST) -- off-hours, you'll just have to make a support ticket, like always, and wait it out. But in case your problem turns out to be an easy fix, the site will also suggest some support documents to help you out.

To use the new system, just head to Battle.net's support page and select Get Help to see your contact options.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WoW Archivist: The curse of Karazhan

Karazhan Tower
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?

Something has been afoot in Karazhan of late. First, dataminers noticed that Karazhan had been renamed Medivh's Big Birthday Bash on the PTR. In the rechristened raid, objects such as cobwebs and skeletons had disappeared. Then a later build renamed it Karazhan 2: Eclectic Boogaloo. Senior game designer Jonathan Craft tweeted that fellow designer Dave Maldonado was responsible. Maldonado later said that nothing is happening. It turned out to be a test to see if a phased quest could be set there, but sadly it didn't work.

Many players would be excited to return to Karazhan, and it would make sense to do this in Warlords of Draenor. After all, Karazhan is from the same expansion that took us to the shattered remnants of Draenor back in 2007. Hopefully Blizzard will find a way to feature some Karazhan-based content during the next expansion.

Karazhan remains one of Blizzard's most popular raid zones, and for good reason. But did it succeed too well for WoW's own good? Let's look back at what Karazhan offered us in its prime and how it impacted raid design in future expansions.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

New Year's Eve server connectivity issues

If you were planning to ring in the New Year by leveling up or running some LFR, you may want to think again -- realm connectivity issues have abounded over the past hour, bringing numerous realms offline. Customer Support is looking into the problem and on the official forums the Blizzard reports that "some realms have recovered."

For realms that haven't recovered -- or realms that are hopping online and off -- we don't have an official ETA, but keep your eyes on this post for further updates. For the official word from Blizzard, follow @BlizzardCS on Twitter or watch the forum thread on tonight's connectivity issues.

Filed under: News items

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