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Kaplan announces Outlands leveling to be shortened

Jeff Kaplan, the lead game designer, posted in the forums under his username Tigole that Blizzard will be speeding up leveling in the 60 to 70 bracket just as they sped up the 20 to 60 bracket. This has long been rumored and it's great to see this get implemented.

Initial reports tell us the amount of experience points necessary to progress to each level has been decreased by 30% (for the 60 to 70 range only). Additional posters are reporting that mobs which give 500xp on the live server are now giving 600xp on the beta server. There doesn't seem to be any increase in the XP rewarded by quests yet, but this might be a future change.

Kaplan asks everyone to provide feedback on the change (if you're in the beta), and it looks like they've got his ear for the time being. So if you're in the beta and want to weigh in on the subject, now's the time.

Many thanks to the various users who submitted this news tip.

Filed under: News items, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast topic: Problem paradigms

My main is a resto Shaman, but I've been spending my spare time either leveling a Rogue or gearing up my Ret Paladin. It is a completely different experience. I've spent hours in the battlegrounds and have managed to earn the honor for the Merciless Gladiator's Greatsword. Thus far is has been a real challenge for me.

I have a harder time with the Paladin than the Rogue. In the battlegrounds my first reaction when I see someone going down is to heal them. I do drop an emergency heal here and a bubble there, I know that my heals are generally crummy. I should just keep swinging my sword and leave the healing to the healers. With the Rogue, there is no option for healing, so I just keep Slicing and Dicing away through the levels. On top of that, I'm used to trying to get away from my opponent, not trying to stay on top of them. The whole paradigm shift has been difficult for me, but I've learned a lot from it.

How do you feel when you play something totally different from your main?

Filed under: Paladin, Rogue, Shaman, Breakfast Topics, Leveling, Alts, Battlegrounds

Reading between the lines: are more PvE to PvP transfers possible?

The announcement earlier in the week that Blizzard was allowing free transfers from a couple Oceanic PvE realms to the Oceanic PvP realm Thaurissan lead to a storm of speculation that Blizzard could be considering opening up PvE to PvP transfers on a wide scale.

Blizzard has recently said that they won't be allowing large scale transfers from PvE to PvP servers. This rule was supposedly in place for a number of reasons, the main one of which has always been the relative ease of leveling a character on a PvE server compared to that of a PvP server. Having done both, I can say that it wasn't too different – a few more tricks had to be used when leveling on the PvP server, but in no way was my leveling prolonged on the PvP server because of the PvP elements.

Drysc chimed in on this very topic yesterday.

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Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP

WoW Rookie: What is a patch?

Here at WoW Insider, we've had extensive coverage of changes and updates that are being tested for the release of patch 2.4. It occurred to me that many of our newer players may not know what patching is all about.

Blizzard regularly releases updates to World of Warcraft to add new content, fix problems, and otherwise improve the game. The game has evolved considerably throughout since its launch over 3 years ago. Many quests, instances, battlegrounds, events, items, and tools have been added through various patches. Clicking through the historical patch notes can be a source of nostalgia for many players.

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Filed under: Patches, Tips, Expansions, Guides, Classes, WoW Rookie, Rumors

Breakfast Topic: Defecting from the Horde

I've often heard of Alliance players who get fed up with their fellow teammates for whatever reason, and decide to defect to the Horde. Perhaps they say the Alliance complains too much or seems too crowded, or even seems "less mature" somehow. But we've talked about that quite a lot already, and Horde players often say they have just as many maturity problems as Alliance has.
Yet I was still surprised to discover that one of my relatively new friends had actually defected from the Horde to the Alliance. As a roleplayer, apparently he felt that the Horde roleplayers kept on rehashing the same roleplay material, about death, trollish accents, and "strength and honor." I admit that my experience with my Horde hasn't been so in-depth, but so far I'm thoroughly enjoying my Horde characters, and I haven't had the same problem at all. In fact, it's my (limited) experience that Horde tend to complain least about their faction, in the same way that warlocks complain least about their class, though not at all with the same consistency.

Have you or someone you've known ever left the Horde and made new Alliance main characters? If so, why?

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Breakfast Topics, RP

The more things change...

Most of us have heard by now that the next expansion will bring the ability to change your appearance somewhat, and some people out there may be thinking "What was I thinking when I created my character, Uglybub? Finally, with Wrath of the Lich King, I will at last be able to get rid of this electrfied hair and frowny face! Then I'll change his name to PrettySmoochCakeLove too!" As much as we might love to dream, it's not yet clear how much of your character's appearance you'll be able to change. Should Blizzard enable you to change everything about your character's appearance any time you might wish to?

According to Blizzard's current thinking, you will be able to go to the local barbershop and have your hairstyle changed -- probably facial hair and earrings too. You will be able to go to the local dance studio -- yes that's right, a Dance Studio in the World of Warcraft -- and learn new dances. But the devs believe that plastic surgeons just haven't caught on in Azeroth or Outland yet. "Plastic surgeons?" You cry out, "Who said anything about plastic surgeons? I just want to be able to change my facial expression! What's the big deal?" And yes, of course you are right, but your facial expression is tied to eyecolor, nose shape, and everything else about your face. Those things shouldn't be changeable ... or should they?

Is Blizzard right or wrong on this issue? Now that we've got name changes and we're getting hairstyle changes, it's got me wondering, where do you draw the line? Redoing your hair, or turning that frown upside down is one thing, but going from dark skin and brown eyes to pale skin and blue eyes (with lots of wrinkles) makes your character look like someone else altogether. Is infinite customizability something we really want? Does a certain degree of consistency offer any other advantages?

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

PTR Notes: Rogue's Blind change changed back

From the "some-of-the-people-happy-all-of-the-time file," you may have noticed a fun little change under the Rogue notes in patch 2.2: "Blind duration reduced to 8 seconds, cooldown reduced to 1 minute, Blinding Powder is no longer required to use." Blind with only a minute cooldown? With no reagent cost? Sounds good to my PvP Undead Rogue.

But most people didn't like the sound of spending all that time disoriented, so this weekend, the forums opened up with the QQ rain. Even some Rogues agreed that they didn't use Blind that often, and that the reagent costs didn't bother them that much (I know I always have tons of it from pickpocketing-- it's the Flash Powder that I never have enough of). And yet when Neth announced that the change that was in the patch notes hadn't actually been implemented on the PTR (here are the new official patch notes, sans Blind changes), the whole situation flipped-- Rogues decided that they did want the Blind change, and other classes cheered that a change they weren't sure would affect them negatively had ever existed in the first place.

Should Blind be changed? I tend to agree with most people's opinions-- it works right now, so why bother with it? But all the outrage and the flip-flopping on the PTR (a place that is supposed to be full of experimentation) just brings up the point I made on the last PTR: have a little patience, people. The PTRs are a place to test ideas on a massive scale, and since this change never actually appeared on the PTRs, all the commentary on it actually came from people who'd never actually played with it in the first place.

Filed under: Rogue, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP

Breakfast Topic: Would you change your race?

The other night we finished the Path of Conquest quest chain in Shadowmoon, and I found myself running around blasting Colossi as a Blood Elf. It was fascinating to see what I would look like if I had rerolled my character, something I consider on and off just for fun.

Often times we get a chance to respec our talents. What if we could respec our race? If there was a free chance to reselect your character's race, would you choose differently? I know despite the faction shift the Blood Elf race is looking very tempting after playing a human for so long.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, RP

When it comes to nerfs, maybe change is good

Here's a fascinating post over on Terra Nova. Joshua Fairfield has been playing a lot of Arena PvP, and he suspects something very interesting: that the developers might not be trying for equilibrium in PvP at all. They may actually be trying for imbalance.

Our assumption, he says, is that with every nerf and/or buff, the developers are trying to reach a nirvana of balance-- a game where every class has an equal chance to win when all of their abilities are used correctly. Keep in mind that the "chance to win" could only involve a percentage of the time-- Blizzard has already stated that they're working for a "rock, paper, scissors" solution, where rogues beat casters but warriors beat rogues, and so on. But we've assumed that the main goal is a balance, where as long as every class is played well, every class will win a certain percentage of the time.

But Fairfield suggests the opposite-- that "games that seek permanent engagement by communities," i.e. MMORPGs like WoW, are actually working against equilibrium, and fighting to keep things constantly interesting. Mages are winning because of Pyroblast's high damage? Nerf it to make Mages use other spells. Warriors are being kited around? Give them a way out of it, so other classes have to learn new strategies.

That's a wacky way of looking at game design, but it works for games like WoW because we're already expecting the rules to constantly change. Chess has an established balance-- rook moves a certain way, queen moves another way, and every game they will always move those ways. But WoW is dependent on the rules changing every patch-- if players maxed out their characters and learned all possible strategies, they'd quit paying the monthly fee. So in that strange sense, Blizzard should be happy when lots of players cry foul over a nerf-- the more players they affect with a change, the more they can keep interested. "Any change disrupts the current equilibrium," and forces players to figure out new ways to win.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasting, Blizzard, PvP, Classes, Buffs

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