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Posts with tag classic-wow

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

The Difficulty Trap

The beautiful thing about twitter is how it can engender conversations you might never get to have otherwise. Last night (thanks to my perpetual insomnia) I was up and scanning when Bashiok made a series of tweets I just had to respond to.

What I really took away from this discussion is, frankly, just how difficult it is to compare the difficulty of WoW's vanilla epoch and today's raiding (and raiding to come). There are at least two kinds of difficulty to discuss, when talking about raiding difficulty - the difficulty of putting together and keeping a raiding group going, and the difficulty of actually executing the content. These are wildly disparate.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

WoW Archivist: The battle for Hillsbrad

Fighting at TM
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?

Almost ten years later, people still talk about the Southshore versus Tarren Mill battles, the most infamous and celebrated world PvP in WoW history. They go on about how glorious it was, how they'd like to see that kind of intensity return to world PvP. It's not often, however, that they discuss the details.

If you want to know exactly what it was like to fight in those battles, keep reading. I lived it. My old tauren hunter still bears the scars. Pull up a bench and pour yourself a glass of ale. I will tell you about the war.

Why Hillsbrad?

Several places on Azeroth in classic WoW had two faction-specific towns in close proximity. You had Astranaar and Splintertree in Ashenvale. Arathi Highlands featured Refuge Pointe and Hammerfall. Theramore and Brackenwall squared off in Dustwallow Marsh. A few others had proximity also.

So why didn't any of these pairs become as legendary as Southshore and Tarren Mill? The fact is that battles did happen here -- some fairly major ones, too. World PvP ran rampant in the early days, even on PvE realms, and even before the honor system arrived to reward you for doing it.

Many raided faction villages for the simple joy of denying your enemy a stronghold, a questgiver, or a flight point. Such players sought out undefended towns, which these others often were, at least when you first struck.

Other players wanted resistance. They wanted to march forward as part of one vast army of players into an equally imposing force. They wanted the chaos, the rush, the endless bloodshed, the death cries of their foes echoing all around them. And they knew exactly one place you could find that experience, at virtually any hour of the day or night.

It had to be somewhere. Early forum threads began to buzz about such battles taking place. As word of mouth spread, more players wanted to make it happen on their own realm. It became the thing to do.

But why there?

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

Alex Afrasiabi's design framework for Benediction

Benediction design notes
Today on twitter Alex Afrasiabi is at it again with the pictures, this time with the above: a photo of his 10-year-old notes for the design framework of two classic priest weapons: Benediction and Anathema.

Priests from World of Warcraft's days of yore probably have vivid memories of these coveted items, Benediction and its counterpart, Anathema. In order to obtain them, an eager priest would first have to get The Eye of Divinity from Majordomo Executus in Molten Core, then The Eye of Shadow from an elite demon in The Blasted Lands or Winterspring. With both trinkets equipped, the ghostly questgiver Eris Havenfire became visible in the Eastern Plaguelands. Eris would then task the player with healing and curing 50 peasants escaping the undead. If 15 of them died, you failed the quest. Once you had successfully completed the objective, Eris would give you the Splinter of Nordrassil, which together with the two trinkets created Benediction. Priests could then switch the two staves into each other as they wished.

Afrasiabi's photo is a nice little glimpse into a world WoW has largely left behind, and a sure shot of nostalgia for those who were there. It's also nice to see how much of the work was done the old fashioned way, with pen and paper! What a nice, pre-Valentine's Day gift for the playerbase.

Filed under: News items

How long is too long for a raid?

How long is too long for a raid
I remember the year I spent in Icecrown Citadel. I'm not really exaggerating - it was from December to December, so about a year total. It was about the longest time I spent on a raid, including the days of Molten Core - for comparison, Molten Core was the only real endgame raid besides Onyxia's Lair from November of 2004, WoW's release date, until July of 2005, so roughly eight months. Interestingly, the Shadow of the Necropolis patch (patch 1.11) came out in June of 2006, so in the year between the first and last raids of classic WoW we saw MC, Onyxia, BWL, Zul Gurub, Ruins of Ahn'Qiraj, Temple of Ahn'Qiraj and finally Naxxramas. All of these raids released between July of 2005 and June 2006. Not all of these raids were replacements for previous ones - Blackwing Lair and AQ 40 were considered 'sidegrades' from each other, at least until one killed C'thun, who until the release of Naxxramas had the best gear in the game. The two 20 man raids, ZG and AQ20, did not replace BWL or evn MC gear, they just provided another place to go.

Because of the way raids were structured back then it's a little misleading to compare classic's raid release schedule with our modern one. Raids were something a very few players overall did - there was no parity between smaller and larger raid sizes, no LFR, no flex (although by the time Naxxramas came out, some guilds were running MC, Onyxia and even BWL/AQ with smaller raids to maximize gear acquisition before heading into Naxx) and the only way to gear up for raids was either to be carried through said raids by geared groups and handed all the stuff they didn't want or need anymore, or to start on the ground floor and run the level 60 dungeons. The design wasn't structured around raiding being accessible or allowing a larger group of players to see these fights - raiders got to see them, and if that was 10% of the people playing the game, that's what it was.

It's interesting to look at how players react to raid content now. A commonly expressed sentiment is that Throne of Thunder, a raid first released on March 5th, 2013, has been around too long and players are eager for new content. This is a raid that has been around for six month, and will be superseded around the time it enters it's seventh. While hardly the shortest time a raid has ever had to be run through, it's not much longer than the initial tier of Mists raid content, either. Mists of Pandaria released on September 25th, 2012, meaning that from October 2012 to March 5th 2013 we only had MSV, HoF and ToES - a time of about five months. What makes five months acceptable and seven months unacceptable? Are two months that much longer to raid a zone?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Would you play on a classic WoW server?

Breakfast Topic Would you play on a classic WoW server
You can never go back -- well, unless it's via the Caverns of Time or unless Blizzard ever decides to open classic-era WoW servers. Of course, Blizzard has already given a thumbs down to the idea. Really. No, seriously. Even so, many players continue to keep the candle burning in hope of rekindling a classic, expansion-locked WoW server.

Before you start cynically smirking about rose-colored glasses, consider this: There really are good reasons to love classic World of Warcraft. This is the content that made us fall in love with the game. It's what melted our hearts for Azeroth, offering some of the best and most enjoyable fights in Azeroth. Plenty of players still enjoy the classic content via retro raiding and more casual trips back for transmog gear.

The question is, do you miss the classic game so much that you'd play on an expansion-locked classic server? Would you perhaps even pay a special fee to unlock or subscribe to that experience? Remember, there would be no new talent systems or gameplay improvements, no new content or leveling curves. You'd start out with nothing but the original World of Warcraft experience, unlocking each expansion in a realmwide effort over time. It would be all old school, all the way, baby. Sound like fun? Sound like a grind? Sound like a fun grind?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The best fight from classic WoW

Vaelastrasz
This is a topic I know will get me into trouble. Classic WoW is known as "classic" for a reason, after all. Being the opening foray into the MMO that has since become the standard for the entire industry, WoW's first incarnation is filled with memorable encounters. The raid bosses we battled back then are the yardsticks by which we have judged pretty much everything that has followed.

I know it's tempting to say something like Ragnaros or Onyxia or C'Thun, because those are the big bad end boss fights that remain etched in WoW players' collective consciousness. I've always tried to stay away from the obvious answers, though, because, well, they're obvious. I don't think there's anything particularly interesting I could write about Ragnaros or Onyxia that hasn't already be said better by someone else. When I sat down to brainstorm about this topic, I ran through many of the classic bosses, testing my memories of them, and after a while I hit upon what I knew would be my personal answer to this question: Vaelastrasz the Corrupt.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Transmog your way into a classic plate DPS clown suit

Transmog your way into a classic WoW plate DPS clownsuit
Being that I'm a huge transmog junkie, I'm awfully jealous of Dawn and Anne and their cool transmog posts. But I don't generally go around trying to look like an Avenger or a member of the Stormwind Guard or even Deckard Cain. This had me despairing for a bit, because it meant I couldn't really come up with a hook for a transmog set.

Then, while farming Molten Core for the left Binding of the Windseeker (it didn't drop, although the right one did -- again), I got the Flameguard Gauntlets, a pair of gloves I've probably vendored more times than I can remember. And suddenly, it all clicked. I knew exactly what I would do with my transmog post. I would recreate the look of the classic WoW raiding DPS warrior. I would resurrect the clown suit.

The clown suit was the cobbled-together, not at all coordinated, not-matching-well-at-all set of epic DPS gear almost all warriors threw together in classic WoW raiding.

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Filed under: Paladin, Warrior, Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Transmogrification

Tipster unearths treasure chest of classic WoW raiding memories

Do you ever wonder what you missed by not playing WoW back in the early days? You've seen the classic instances, of course, as you've swatted aside their bosses during mining expeditions for transmogrification gear -- but what were these viragoes like back in the day when conquering them took 40 players at the top of their game hurling themselves against the storm, before modern levels, gear, abilities and game mechanics reduced them to mere echoes of their former fury? Screech "rose-colored glasses!" all you like -- WoW classic and The Burning Crusade were far and away the eras that pinned me most devotedly to my keyboard, smitten by the game. (Others think very differently, as demonstrated below.)

You can't really relive the classic experience today; there's simply been too much water under the bridge. Still, I'd love to be able to give newer players a taste of those old raid instances in a way they just can't get from muscling through the instances today. But if playing through won't do the job, neither will videos from the past. Boss kill and strat videos cast an analytical eye on the proceedings, remaining aloof from the atmosphere and focusing more on the spray of combat text and special effects. On the other end of the spectrum are roleplaying epics that, while entertaining, represent the particular personality and experience of a specific group of players.

If you've got time to burn, though, you might enjoy sinking into these vanilla-era flavor films by Order of Watchers on Ragnaros (EU). WoW Insider reader Karol discovered these old-school gems ("Maybe it just found me in a nostalgic mood, but I think both of them are masterpieces from the old times and worth a mention" -- we agree, Karol, so thanks!), tipping us off to this abstract of one Hungarian guild's march through classic encounters and The Burning Crusade. Somewhere between a guided tour, a roleplaying narrative and guild memory book, these videos attempt to preserve a glimpse of the wonder the guild felt on the path through the earliest endgame content in World of Warcraft.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

5 reasons you should love classic World of Warcraft

I have a lot of love for World of Warcraft in each of its iterations. When I wrote 5 reasons you should love Mists of Pandaria, it really made me start to look back at the history of the game -- not necessarily the lore and story that I usually write about, but the various expansions from classic all the way to the upcoming Mists. Though the expansions themselves were vastly different in terms of story and progression, there are still things to love about every single one -- yes, including Cataclysm.

Maybe it's just human nature to be cynical. Maybe it's just human nature to be caught in the dissatisfaction of now. But I can't help but think that perhaps we've lost sight of the reasons we love this game. It's not just internet dragons, after all. There's plenty out there to look at and remember fondly and keep in mind as we move on into the future. So read these, think back and remember -- once upon a time, we were all in love with this game. I don't think that the game has altered from its basic tenets in so dramatic a fashion as to warrant outright hatred or derision.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Archivist: Patch 1.10, Storms of Azeroth

The 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?

Personally, I find patch 1.10 to be one of the most memorable patches of classic WoW. It was a
patch dedicated almost exclusively to giving nonraiding players more content, access to better gear (without trivializing raids), and generally making the world a prettier place. Patch 1.10 was the patch that implemented weather, as its Storms of Azeroth title implies.

More than that, patch 1.10 taught non-programmers everywhere how version numbering works. "Patch one-point-ten? You can't do that! Shouldn't it be patch 2.0 after 1.9? Isn't 1.10 the same as 1.1?" Nope, sorry! Version numbering doesn't work that way! These aren't decimals, folks. The .10 does not represent a fraction of a whole; it's part of a versioning scheme set up like so:
expansion.major.minor.build
Patch 1.10 indicates that this is the first retail software release and it is in its 10th major revision. While I'm writing this, World of Warcraft version 4.2.2.14534 is on the PTR. Build 14534 of the second minor revision of the second major revision of the fourth expansion/retail release. These aren't decimals, and this isn't math. Patch 1.10 is neither patch 1.1 nor patch 2.0. Got it? Good!

Now on with the show.

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Filed under: WoW Archivist

The Classifieds: She'll be coming 'round the mountain


The Classifieds brings you weekly news from around the WoW community, including your shout-outs to perpetrators of the famous Random Acts of Uberness.

Have you ever wondered what lies on the other side of the mountain? What's going on down there below your flight-path flyover? Wonder no more: The Glitch Hunters have arrived to show you the unspoiled areas of vanilla WoW in all their pre-expansion glory. Contrary to their name, The Glitch Hunters explore entirely on live servers with no exploits or trickery. They use simple tactics to gain access to difficult-to-reach areas, including Levitate, Slow Fall, vehicle mounts, Death Grip and the liberal use of pally bubbles. "We're traversing the continents and documenting all the weird and unique landscapes and borked terrain before the Cataclysm revision hammer destroys them for good," explains Glitch Hunter Alyssa of Dawnbringer (US). Explore the entire series -- now some six episodes deep -- on The Explorers League YouTube channel.

If the scenery of classic WoW leaves you feeling nostalgic, wander through our growing collection of galleries devoted to zones that will soon feel the sweeping hand of the approaching Cataclysm: Undercity, Scholomance, Eye of Eternity, Shattrath City, Sunwell Plateau, Azshara, Tirisfal, Redridge, Stranglethorn Vale, Western Plaguelands, Quel'danas, Trial of the Crusader, Deadwind Pass, Teldrassil, Tanaris, Blackrock Mountain, Thunder Bluff, Feralas, Mulgore, Moonglade, Ironforge, Westfall, Darnassus, Thousand Needles.

Vanilla WoW holds many charms -- but if it's more current news you're after, let's crack open The Classifieds!

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Filed under: Guilds, The Classifieds

15 Minutes of Fame: Classic raiders keep a different pace

15 Minutes of Fame is WoW.com's look at World of Warcraft personalities of all shapes and sizes -- from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, from the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

The old days are long gone, Gramps; take off the rose-colored glasses and play Wrath, where raiding is better than ever.

So goes conventional wisdom in the comments whenever anyone espouses a little nostalgia for the old days of vanilla WoW. Raiding was a far different animal back then. Players who raided were still considered hardcore -- "casual raiding" wasn't on the radar yet -- and devoted week after week of angling for a 40-man raid slot in hopes of earning the chance at a purple drop. Even though strategy sites for WoW raids blossomed sooner rather than later, videos and the trustworthy guides remained relatively sparse, and many early guilds developed their own tactics and jealously guarded alternative strategies. Standing at the mailbox in Ironforge with a massive, raid-sized weapon on your back meant wielding a badge of achievement that attracted a small crowd; bearers would be flooded with awed whispers asking where it was from.

A thoughtful look back at WoW's 40-man past yields both positives and negatives. It wasn't simply the size of the raids that made them feel so different than today's raids ; it was the interplay of raid size, the inexperience of the raiding player base, the scarcity and difficulty of rewards, the lack of universally accepted tactics and strategies ... A whole host of influences that simply can't be replicated today.

But while the era may long cold and dead, the content is still very much alive. Beyond the bored, pre-expansion players who are fending off burnout by sightseeing in vanilla WoW and The Burning Crusade instances lies another layer of players who are attacking old content with level-appropriate characters. These classic raiders aren't fruitlessly attempting to recreate the past; rather, they're enjoying an entirely different pacing for the game.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Creating "special purpose characters" with the XP toggle

I love this, as I seem to love most of the things that Mania does. She's just posted that she's put together a whole guild of hunters, all with XP turned off at different levels, for one purpose: testing pets as they move up the leveling ranks. She says she cheated a little bit to do it -- transferred alts from other realms, and it's Alliance-only -- but just having the idea to put something like this together is super creative. We've talked about people who've leveled up one of every class before, but I never considered just how much the XP-off option changes the game in terms of what Mania calls "special purpose characters."

Of course, raiding at level 60 is one way to use it, but you can go even lower than that -- want to farm Runecloth without it getting too boring? Roll up a death knight, and leave him in Felwood to grind on Furbolgs. Really love running, really running, Scarlet Monastery with your friends? You can all roll characters to 39 (or lower, if you're looking for a regular challenge), turn XP off, and leave them camped outside the instance. Turning XP off means you can create characters for almost any purpose, and having heirloom items (especially if you buy cloth, which any alt can wear, even if it means they take an armor hit in some cases) means that leveling them up doesn't take more than a few days of free time. Lots of interesting ideas to play around with there for sure.

Filed under: Hunter, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Why leveling will always be important to WoW

Times they are a changin', and as Patch 3.2 hits the PTR with a new wealth of mechanics aimed at making the journey to 80 that much easier, why not take a moment to look back at how Azeroth has changed?

Leveling used to take a long time, and one of the first things a friend told me was that "the game started at 60." While the level cap might have changed, it's something I heartily agree with.Those of you who joined the game around the time of the latest expansion or even before might hear others speaking with misty-eyes of the olden days of Classic WoW when it took an age to get from Darnassus to Stormwind.

While WoW might have a much lower learning curve than, say, EVE Online, it does still have one. But WoW is known as a bit of a grind fest and the ever growing level cap, which currently stands at 80 but will no doubt go higher with the next expansion, can be pretty daunting.

Especially for a new player.

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Economy, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Bosses, Leveling, Buffs, Mounts, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King

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