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Posts with tag endgame

What is World of Warcraft?

On December 23, 2004, I rolled my first character in World of Warcraft. It seems almost impossible to imagine that this was a little over nine years ago, but I still remember the day clear as a bell. A friend told me where to make a character and what faction to use, and offered me a guild invite the moment I logged in -- an Alliance guild that, to my knowledge, no longer exists. That began a journey that was a long, impossible at times, climb to level 60. Along the way, I made a ton of friends both in the guild and out, and when I hit level 60 it seemed like an incredible accomplishment. But as I shook off the haze of congratulations and cheers, I realized I had little to no idea what came after you hit level 60 -- and frankly, neither did anyone else.

Ironforge was the place to be. If you were Alliance it was the only place with an Auction House. Players spent hours upon hours outside the front gates dueling each other. There was no PvP as we know it today -- Battlegrounds didn't exist, so PvP was relegated to long, drawn out battles between Tarren Mill and Southshore. The options seemed to be as follows: Run Stratholme, Scholomance, and UBRS to collect your blue dungeon set. Go raid either Molten Core or Onyxia's Lair. And ... that was it. Needless to say, my next option was to roll an alt and find a raid guild. What other choice did I have, at the time?

As the game has progressed over the last nine years, those choices have expanded into a flurry of content that dwarfs everything that has come before it. And that makes me wonder -- just what is World of Warcraft, now?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Community Blog Topic Results: What's your endgame?

In last week's Community Blog Topic, we asked, "What's your endgame?" We got a wide variety of answers -- not just raiding.

In a nostalgic look back at endgames throughout the life of the game, Alstanar at Cogitationes Astalnaris says
My endgame these days consists of a heroic dungeon runs, and scenarios. I do a wing or two of Siege in LFR in course of the week. Depends on my patience. Every now and then, I go and do a quick level or three on my various warrior and paladin alts. I work on my old reputations that I neglected for years. Wrap up the quests in old zones I missed while I leveled up. I stay away from PvP and pet battles. Not my cup of tea.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

"Crash Bandicoot" creator comments on Cataclysm's problems and the evolution of WoW

'Crash Bandicoot' creator comments on Cataclysm's problems and the evolution of WoW
I didn't see this until recently, but I'm really glad I did. Andy Gavin, the co-creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter, ran a series between the end of November and mid-January examining WoW, its four expansions, and how each of them succeeded or failed through both personal and professional eyes. His particular focus is the endgame in each and how it worked to attract and retain players -- or, in some cases, didn't.

While there's certainly been no shortage of player commentary on how WoW's developed, Gavin's experience as a game developer who's not involved with Blizzard is a pretty unique perspective. I found his article on Cataclysm to be particularly adept at putting into words a lot of things I felt but had difficulty articulating. Most of the expansion's developmental time had to go into a revamped leveling process that few people saw unless they wanted to level a new alt. The content at 85 that greeted more casual players got bottlenecked in a series of difficult heroics that frustrated players dropped constantly.

Personally, I still consider Cataclysm to have been a necessary expansion -- it did a lot of stuff that Blizzard had to do for the game even if it wasn't as eye-catching as what BC and Wrath did -- but I think Gavin's assessment is accurate and measured. (And many of Blizzard's own observations aren't all that different.) Funnily enough, with lots of people leveling new monks in Mists of Pandaria, more people might be seeing Cataclysm content now than they did during the expansion that was actually dedicated to it.

I've linked Gavin's full series here. While it's long, it's an incredibly interesting and detailed read:

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The Smart Kids -- or, why Cataclysm failed to impress

I was a smart kid. You remember those kids from school who were always the first to turn a test in and the ones to get the best grades? The ones who never seemed to put any effort into studying but always managed to get an A? That was me. You'd think that being a smart kid would make life incredibly easy, but it did exactly the opposite. Of course you had the endless students who hated you or made fun of you because you were smart, but there was something much harder to deal with than that.

See, in public schools (in America, at least), teachers generally teach at the speed of the slowest kid in class. This is absolutely appropriate, because you don't want anyone to fall behind. For the slowest kid, this meant that subjects were presented in a way that they could understand, and they'd learn the lessons even if it took a little extra time. But for the smartest kid in the class, it meant that classrooms were places of exquisite torture where information flowed at a snail's pace, and most of the information presented were things the smart kid already knew.

It made school an excruciatingly boring place to be.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

GuildOx data shows 50% decline in raiding guild activity

GuildOx data shows 50% decline in raiding guild activity
This news probably shouldn't come as a huge shock to anyone who understands the ebb and flow of WoW expansions, but GuildOx, a site that collects all kinds of data from the WoW Armory, has discovered that raiding guild activity has fallen 50% since the beginning of 2012. GuildOx site runner Polar tells us that a raiding guild is defined as "a guild that has gained a boss kill or raid achievement within the past month or those guilds that have completed heroic Madness of Deathwing." Activity in this case is defined, obviously, as killing a boss that week.

Again, not a huge shock; we're officially in Cataclysm's twilight (heh) years, and drop-off like this before an expansion is to be expected. It's worth noting in this case that the numbers for active raiders might be a little better than what's reflected here -- after all, plenty of guildless people have been able to raid thanks to Raid Finder, and that sort of activity wouldn't be tracked by this metric.

One thing's definitely for sure, though -- the game needs a jump start in the form of Mists of Pandaria if Blizzard wants people to stick around. Thankfully, it's right around the corner, but one wonders just how long this cycle can perpetuate. The end of Wrath and the lifetime of Cataclysm showed us that diminishing returns are already in effect, Annual Pass or no, but MoP's endgame is decidedly different than what we've seen in the past. Perhaps things will be different this time.

Filed under: Raiding, Cataclysm

PvP gear and the barrier to entry

Honesty time: I hate PvP gear. I have good gear for PvP now, and I still hate it. I hate having to collect another set of gear, having to gem and enchant it differently, having to decide between resilience, crit and mastery, and in general having to do even more work to keep yet another set of gear (my third) current in order to participate effectively. On my alts, I especially hate having to go into BGs effectively naked (in PvE gear) and blow up over and over again.

I've been considering the changes to PvP coming in Mists of Pandaria intended to address some of this and the conservative design philosophy reflected in this post by Ghostcrawler, and it has me contemplating how much more radical the redesign to PvP could and potentially should be. We know that in Mists of Pandaria, valor points will no longer serve to purchase new gear. Instead, they will be used to upgrade existing gear. You'll get a dungeon drop, then spend valor on it to improve it for purpose of raiding content, making the piece itself better instead of replacing it with a valor purchase.

This has me thinking, and thinking hard, about how honor and conquest points should work in Mists of Pandaria and whether or not we should even have separate PvP gear anymore. There are a variety of ways we could alter the existing system.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria Beta: The new endgame

Mists of Pandaria Beta The new endgame
Mists of Pandaria has a whole new story on a brand new continent with inhabitants that we've never really been able to interact with before. We've mentioned the leveling experience, we've mentioned the shift away from the linear nature of quests in Cataclysm, and we've mentioned some of the cool moments you'll see as you level. And let's face it -- there are a lot of cool moments. Leveling in Pandaria feels completely different from leveling in Cataclysm.

Jade Forest serves as the starting zone and the literal impetus, in terms of story, for what drives you to the rest of Pandaria. Without the events of Jade Forest, the rest of the zones simply would not happen. In fact, without the events in Jade Forest, I suspect the rest of Pandaria would have been largely uneventful. The key lies in our arrival, which is a shift in the direction of the storytelling. We aren't reacting to traumatic events anymore; we're the cause of them.

But it's the endgame that has changed so significantly that it's unlike anything we've ever seen before -- and it's changed for the better.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Officers' Quarters: Leveling as a guild in Cataclysm


Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook, available this spring from No Starch Press.

The weeks after an expansion goes live are a strange time for guilds. After months of working as a team toward a common goal, most members go off on their own to level up through solo quests. Since raiding at the cap is impossible and raiding old content isn't nearly as interesting as questing in the new zones, your guild can find itself strangely fractured during this time. This week, one guild leader wonders how to keep a guild from falling apart during the leveling process.

Scott,

I was a member of a "raiding" guild in The Burning Crusade (they didn't do too much raiding), but I hit level cap a week before Wrath of the Lich King came out. The guild basically came apart at the seams before anyone hit level cap. Then they tried to reform again a little before ToC and nothing really worked out. Now I'm running my own little raiding guild and don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past. What keeps a raiding guild together through the leveling process? I was thinking about putting in incentives in our loot policy for people getting to cap, but I'm not sure if that's a good idea. What are some things I should be doing, and what are some things I shouldn't be doing?

Thisius
Hells Vanguard
Sisters of Elune (US)

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Justifying the tiered badge system

Wrath is almost all wrapped up, and while we didn't know much about it before the expansion, we've all certainly experienced the token system that Blizzard implemented as they went along, where early instances drop one kind of badge/token, and then the newer instances offer up new tokens, which can then be exchanged back for the older ones and their rewards. Now that we see the big picture at the end of the expansion, it's pretty ingenious, actually, and it even allows Blizzard to beef up other parts of the game, as they did with the rewards in the new Dungeon system.

Not that he needs to, but Bornakk steps up on the forums to justify exactly this kind of tiered system. Players complain that Ulduar is "useless" now that you can obtain its badges from lots of different places, but Bornakk says this system is definitely preferable to what Blizzard did in vanilla and BC, which was requiring new raiders to run through all of the old content before seeing the new and shiny stuff. They don't want the old content to sit useless (and it's not -- lots of guilds are still running Ulduar and even Naxx for the hard modes and achievements), but after the high-end raiders have their fun, it's important to get everyone else up to speed as well.

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Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Healer survey contains a wealth of information about healing

If you've ever wanted a close-up look at the game's healing zeitgeist, Miss Medicina has it -- she recently started up a survey/meme of healers around the WoW blogosphere, and the answers are now in and posted on her site. They make for some interesting weekend reading, especially if you're interested in healing and what healers think of it. I'm sure there's lots of conclusions that could be drawn out of this (I'll let you all come up with some in the comments as well), but just reading through them on my own, it seems like there's a few threads between them. The majority of healing seems to be done in 10-mans, which probably isn't too surprising, given that's where most of the endgame players are right now as well. There's no clear winner on class or spec (all four healing classes are represented pretty evenly, though I didn't really crunch the numbers), though there are quite a few priests, and of those, things seem to be split between holy and disc.

In terms of a favorite spell, there's almost no crossover at all -- people are all over the place, from Beacon to Penance to Circle of Healing. To hear these guys tell it, healers have all kinds of fun spells to play with. In terms of a weakness to healing, two main answers appear: mana regeneration (always an issue with mana-heavy classes like healers) and mobility. Shamans and druids have problems with big burst healing, and paladins say they need more group healing strength, but almost everyone mentions either mana or movement. There's a lot more to look through, too, in terms of how healers evaluate their performance and addon recommendations from everyone. As a look inside the healer "scene," there is a ton of information in there about what healers are up to out on the realms.

Filed under: Druid, Paladin, Priest, Shaman, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Classes, Buffs

All the World's a Stage: The art of the alt

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

With all the talk lately about starting new characters once the Cataclysm arrives, it struck me that most roleplayers already have more than one, including myself. Like most players, I started with one, a night elf druid, and focused on playing that exclusively for quite some time. It didn't really occur to me that I would even want to play more than one.

Then, I began to notice that other people played more than one character, even within the same small group of friends. I had one friend in particular who had mastered the art of roleplaying multiple characters. She never said anything out of character to anyone in our group, and it took me ages to even realize that her characters were ally played by the same person in the first place. Each one had its own personality, and each had a different relationship with all our mutual friends.

Knowing her made something click inside my mind, and I began to see other possibilities for myself too, other sorts of characters I could play with different weaknesses, strengths, and entirely different stories to tell. As my roleplaying experience grew, I began to feel as though one character couldn't contain all the ideas I had jumbling about in my head, so... I started another one, then another, and ... another. Little did I know all the pitfalls I could run into with so many characters, nor the quirky little tricks that could become possible with multiple characters, a small group of friends, and a bit of creativity.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Guilds, RP, Classes, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Why Hit is a "sexy stat"

This post on Gray Matter has some pretty insightful thoughts about the much-maligned Hit stat. We've posted quite a few times about Hit with the various classes, and yet it's still fairly hard to get a handle on -- most people know their class has a "hit cap" that they have to reach to keep any of their swings or shots from missing, but other than that, they haven't really tangled with the stat much the way they might have some of the more core stats for their class. But Grey Matter argues that "Hit is sexy" -- despite the fact that, unlike other stats, Hit is required just to make your class do the right thing (rather than doing it better), Graylo still likes the idea, and actually likes the balance that Hit requires. No matter what ilvl your gear, you still need a certain amount of Hit on it, and the balancing job of keeping your hit cap met versus providing other stats on your gear is what Gray seems to like about Hit. While other stats just go up and up, Hit is the great limiter -- having more of it frees up space on other gear for more pressing stats, but you still have to balance out the pieces you wear to try and meet the cap.

To that extent, I agree. I do think that Hit is a relatively arbitrary stat (we know what it means in real life to be Stronger or have more Intelligence, but Hit is really just designed to keep game levels in line), but on the other hand, Gray's right -- because you need a certain amount of hit in your gear, it does become an interesting balancing game of "do I need this more powerful piece of gear, or this weaker piece of gear with some extra Hit on it?" It does a nice job of mixing things up as an endgame-balancing mechanic.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

WoW Insider Show Episode 93: Avoiding the scam

Our podcast was so much fun last Saturday that we went even longer than usual -- this week instead of the usual hour, you get nearly an hour and ten minutes for your download (and all for the same low, low price of free!). Robin Torres and Lesley Smith joined Turpster and me to talk about what I did at E3 last week (meeting Michele Boyd was definitely a highlight), the new Druid forms and how they look, what's new in the game with 3.1.3, and some recent player achievements, including Ensidia's big win, and the no-deaths character. Plus, we talked with Robin about her recent scam experience, and how you can avoid having something like that happen to you in the future. One quick note: during the show, we guessed that Blizzard would never ask you for your Authenticator passcode, but that's not true: they do require you to give it to them when you sign in on their site. But our other tips are valid: if you make sure that you're the one typing the URL in to "blizzard.com" or "WorldofWarcraft.com," then you'll never have to worry about any sneaky sites grabbing your name and password.

And of course we answered your emails as usual -- if you have any movie posters to send in to us this week, you can send them along to theshow@wow.com. Enjoy the show, we'll see you next weekend.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasts, Podcasting, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blood Elves, WoW Insider Show

What happens if Algalon isn't defeated?


This week information about the final boss of Ulduar has slowly been revealed, thanks to the guild Wraith on EU-Ysondre. We never got to meet Algalon the Observer on the PTRs so this encounter is one of the most mysterious, both in terms of tactics and of lore.

From what I've seen it's also one of the most gorgeous, but then again, I like stars and floating planets. Algalon himself is an entity composed of stars, a spectral being who is not uncompassionate to the heroes who have come to kill him. He just has a job to do. A job which could see our world being put in serious - even cataclysmic jepoardy.

Needless to say, from here on in, there be SPOILERS about the actual boss fight so read on at your own peril!

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, Expansions, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King

The drama of DKP

Donnyman is going through an issue with his guild that many a guild has faced before: the drama of going to DKP. Especially lately, it seems like lots of guilds are aiming to make the jump to DKP: because the endgame is relatively easier lately, lots of folks are getting into raiding seriously, and unless your guild is the closest of friends, you can really only go so long without people starting to wonder why the other guy got that roll when he's only been to two raids in the last month when they've been to five. At that point, the guild either breaks up due to loot drama -- or you decide to settle on a system like DKP.

The good news is that lots of guilds have been through this before, and there's a lot of great guidance out there about how to switch to DKP and what kinds of systems you might use if you do. I've only been in one guild that decided to go from a free-for-all roll to a loot system -- they chose Suicide Kings, everyone agreed it was fair, and they've never looked back. Donnyman's having an issue with his guild leadership's decision to put a little erosion on the DKP, and it's true -- if the whole guild isn't behind a disagreement like that, there could be some breakup. There's lots of great discussion in the LJ thread about how decay actually affects people who can't raid from time to time, and Donny ends up with two choices: be OK with it, or find another guild (there's plenty of them around).

It's not impossible to pull off a switch to DKP from a free-for-all system, but you need to a) make it clear that it's in everyone's best interest (if loot drama is starting to sneak up, it probably is), and b) make sure it's as fair as can be. Consider what your guildies want (more loot, just to have a good time raiding, or to reward people who do well or people who need the gear), and then go with a system that meets those needs.

Filed under: Tips, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Raiding

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