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Blizzard opens new dedicated Ashran forum

If you have an opinion about Ashran, now there's a place for you to take it. Blizzard CM Kaivax posted that there's a new forum dedicated solely to Ashran. It's right here, although it doesn't appear to have a counterpart in Europe yet.

Ashran's been a hot topic as of late for problems with queue times and difficulty in balancing it - with some players having used Ashran to gear up it's not not uncommon to see people discussing one faction utterly dominating the zone now. If you're interested in Ashran and possibly in contributing your voice to the discussion (you may have a good suggestion for fixing the issues, or just a perspective that hasn't been considered yet) then head over to the new official forum for the PvP zone and make your voice heard.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, PvP, Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard makes changes to official forums

So if you use the official forums a lot, you should probably be aware that they're going to change. This November 12th (known by its official name, Aaah it's the Day Before Warlords) the role sub-forums - Damage Dealing, Healing and Tanking - will be closed, along with several others. In addition, the Fan Fiction forum is being merged into the World's End Tavern forum. Kaivax has the skinny.

Kaivax - Changes coming to the WoW forums Nov. 12
On November 12 at 6:00 p.m. PST, we will be closing the following sub-forums permanently:

Tech & Science
Books & Comics
Raid & Guild Leadership
Community Events & Creations
Class Roles ->> Damage Dealing, Tanking, & Healing

Additionally, the Fan Fiction forum will be merged into the World's End Tavern forum at that time.

We will also be opening some new sub-forums immediately thereafter, with the launch of Warlords of Draenor.

We suggest that you save any content in any sub-forum (that you wish to keep a copy of) as soon as possible.

So if you make use of those forums, and there's something on there you want to keep or save, get on that - it's gone in six days.

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

Warlords of Draenor: High level characters vs. lower level content

In the new theorycrafting sticky on the Warlords of Draenor Alpha forums, there's a big post by Celestalon that explains how we're going to be able to solo old raids and such with the item squish making us proportionately less powerful in those raids. It's worth breaking down here, for those of us (like me) who enjoy that sort of thing for either fun or transmog.

First up, all players will gain a damage reduction factors when attacked by creatures that are lower level, starting at Cataclysm content and heading down from there. Creatures from Mists of Pandaria and, presumably Warlords of Draenor will not be affected by this. So once a creature from Cataclysm content or below (Wrath, BC and Vanilla) attacks a character that outlevels them, there will be a formula that determines how little damage the character takes. Celestalon presented it as such.

LevelDiff = PlayerLevel - CreatureLevel
if (CreatureExpansion < Pandaria) then
// 10% DR per level diff, with a floor of 10%
DamageTakenFactor = max(1.0 - 0.1 * LevelDiff, 0.1)
DamageTakenFactor = 1.0

What this means is that, when your level 100 character goes inside a level 80 Wrath raid, they'll have a very large reduction in how much damage they take.

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

How much transparency do you want?

It's come up time and again, and it's always an issue that's fascinated me -- how much information on how World of Warcraft is designed do we actually want? Some of us would be bored to tears by a technical discussion of the whys and wherefores of a design decision, while others would be absolutely fascinated by it. I'm sure no one's forgotten about the era of the 'Ghostcrawler experiment' and the sharp rise of communication from the game's developers. Today we have quite a bit of communication from people like Brian Holinka, Chadd Nervig, Ion Hazzikostas, Owen Landgren and others. I've always felt that it was a very good thing overall for the game to have that channel, with the devs taking time to explain design changes and what they mean. The question becomes, how useful is it to you, and how effective is it in getting players to understand the why behind changes?

Frankly, I think we all know that for every player who reads and absorbs dev interaction in the spirit in which it is meant, there's another who uses it simply as an excuse to blame said person for ruining the game. This goes back to before the time when devs were the ones delivering the news, mind you. I remember the days of Tseric, and the way the forums made him the villain in their self-generated narrative.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

EU class role forums are now closed [Updated]

The class role forums have closed their doors. Takralus posted on them yesterday that they're doing so to concentrate the discussion into existing forums (which I'm taking to mean the class forums). The role forums are currently in read-only mode, and will remain that way until April 8, when they are removed entirely.

The role forums were launched in October 2008 with the original intent of replacing the class forums. Blizzard backtracked on that quickly after the player base revolted, and they left everything in place as it is today. Ghostcrawler was a big poster on the role forums and used them extensively before he made his switch to Twitter. However, as we all know, the forums were not always a happy place.

Takralus' full announcement after the break.

Update 3:22 p.m.: Bashiok let us know that this only applies to the EU. They have no intention of closing the US class role forums at this time.

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Filed under: News items

Managing expectations and the evolution of discussion

In the run-up to Warlords of Draenor, we're seeing news of a lot of class and systems changes - discussion of what's being changed or removed has been one of the things we're very concerned with over here, for obvious reasons. It's also a subject of major interest on the forums. In fact, some people are accusing Blizzard of only posting the bad news in an attempt to create negative feedback, to get people talking. Bashiok addressed this idea recently, and it got me thinking about how we interact with game news in the first place.
Bashiok - Simplifying currency? That's the grand plan?
Well, actually, good news doesn't really create much interest, if you want to dissect it. But that's beside the point. We're obviously not intentionally releasing bad or angering information to try to get people riled up. That'd be silly. We do want to try to manage expectations. Letting people know far in advance that currencies are being streamlined gets that into people's brain meats early, and gives it time to sink in so that when they start seeing or playing that change it ideally isn't jarring and upsetting at that moment.

My point was that people discussing a change they have partial information about, debating the specifics, and questioning what it means, are not necessarily negatives. In cases where those are becoming destructive we'll generally try to provide some guidance to at least direct it back to a constructive conversation.

It's this idea of managing expectations that interests me, because over the years, I've come to see quite a few examples of people not doing it. To this day I'm convinced that much of the negative reaction to Cataclysm wasn't to the expansion's flaws (and yet, I admit it had quite a few) and more to the expectations people had for the expansion - expectations it didn't meet, because it wasn't trying to meet them.

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

Bashiok on choice and complexity

It's not a secret that a lot of change is coming to Warlords of Draenor and WoW, and not all of us are sanguine about all of it. Enter Bashiok, the man, the demonic evil tree avatar, with a forum post about the nature of choice and how it informs complexity in our gaming.

Bashiok's point about interesting choices vs. choices for the sake of having more choices is one that is worth discussing. There's complexity that comes from the interaction of options, and complexity that descends from an overwhelming variety of options. In the past, Blizzard has always tried to err on the side of lesser, more interesting choices as opposed to more choices that aren't necessarily choices at all. One need look no further than the change in Mists of Pandaria to our talent system. We lost talents that added things like 1/2/3% crit and gained decisions. Not everyone liked that change, but it's worthwhile to keep in mind when looking at future changes that happen.

There's a lot of complexity in modern WoW that evolved over time as new systems were introduced, but not all of this complexity is based on meaningful options and gameplay. As we get closer to Warlords of Draenor, we're going to lose some of this evolved complexity, in order to clear out some room for more choices that matter.

For the full text of Bashiok's post, click on through to the other side.

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Filed under: News items, Warlords of Draenor

The Helping Hand Effect

Sometimes crawling the blue trackers and forums leads you to posts like this one. I like this post for many reasons - first off, because it combats the strange mercantilism we see over fake money in WoW sometimes, where people demand gold for each and every thing imaginable, but also and mostly because it's a simple act of kindness. "I know how to do this, and I will share my experience with you, and all you have to do is participate." Nightfuzzy the DK is doing here something that my first raid leader did for me and a bunch of us back in Molten Core - he's sharing what he knows with others.

This is something that is the bedrock for any mmo - the willingness to play together with others, to work together to the completion of common goals. And it's the primary thing people are talking about when they decry the loss of 'server communities' and while I've never bought into the idea that matchmaking services in World of Warcraft are bad - indeed, in many ways I find matchmaking ideal, because many times I found those server communities to be rife with elitism, snobbery, a refusal to take certain classes because they didn't have X or Y ability, outright crudity and boorishness, and hours upon hours of delays - I do recognize that the opportunities for these helping hand moments are rarer now. I can't just sit in trade in a major city and take all tanking requests that come for a couple of hours just to help people out anymore.

But clearly these opportunities still exist, and Nightfuzzy stepping up to the bat shows us that. There are other ways to do this, ways we can in day to day life be the positive in a given situation.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

The game as it was, the game as it is

People do not remember the game as it was. They remember it as they think it was. Want proof? See Daxxari responding to a forum poster who is wildly mistaken about a mechanic that never existed during The Burning Crusade.
Daxxari - PvP gear penalty in pve content
Posted by Mát
in BC a penalty was introduced for wearing pvp gear in pve content. the simple version is the more pvp gear you had the more your damage and healing scaled down while in instanced pve content.

I am not aware of any such mechanic ever having been implemented. Perhaps you're thinking of the equivalent loss of effectiveness due to Resilience having been budgeted into the item level of that gear, and thus it was less effective than an equivalent piece of PvE gear?

Now one of three things is happening here. Either Mát is misremembering (it happens to all of us), he or she is lying, or he or she has made the mistake Daxxari mentions, mistaking the fact that Resilience back then was part of the item budget and thus, PvP gear was less powerful in PvE because it spent itemization points on a stat that reduced your chance to be crit (back then, that's what Resilience did). But no matter how you look at it, the idea of this penalty introduced for wearing PvP gear in PvE did not exist - which is why so many of us wore PvP gear to PvE in. Sure, it had resil on it, but it was easy to get and often better than what we would have gotten from five mans to prepare for raiding Karazhan.

With a game as old as World of Warcraft (we're entering its tenth year) this is understandable. Not all that many people playing today have played since launch, not even since the days of BC or Wrath - heck, there are a great many people who started playing in Cataclysm and even quite a few who started during this expansion. People will tell you that the talent system that we had up until Cataclysm allowed for great customization. They may even believe it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade

Should WoW have a customer loyalty program?

Every time this pops up on the forums, I mull it over - should World of Warcraft have a customer loyalty program, and if it did, what should it entail? Part of my difficulty with the concept is, I would probably benefit from it - I've been playing WoW pretty much non-stop for its entire existence. Even when I stopped playing I didn't unsub (probably should have, but hindsight is gloriously incapable of altering the past) and so, if a customer loyalty reward of some kind was implemented myself and my wife would probably get something out of it.

This has me wondering if it would in fact deter new players - the last thing you want is a system that makes people just picking up the game envious or feeling as if a reward is forever out of their reach. After all, you can't go back in time and start playing in 2004, If there was (say) a special mount or pet or transmog item that people who'd been playing five or more years got, then it would by definition exclude players who hadn't been playing that long. And a lot of people tell me they started playing in Cataclysm nowadays - that's a significant number of people who would have to wait at least another year or two before they could get that hypothetical reward.

I'm not opposed to the idea, mind you - like I said, I have been playing forever, so if it got implemented, I'd probably get something cool, and I'm sure you could work it so that it didn't feel like something so far out of new player reach that they felt like it wasn't even worth trying to get. I'm frankly more curious about what you think, friends - is a customer loyalty feature a good idea, or more trouble than it is worth? How should it be implemented? What should it do?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items

Official forums receive minor facelift

The official WoW forums have gotten a minor update today, confirmed with a blue post by CM Nethaera. The new format has several tweaks and changes, but the largest by far is the font -- posts and headers are now showing with much larger text both in the posts themselves, and in quoted text. Quotes are now a lighter shade of gray, and character portraits have been re-sized as well.

The updates appear to be slightly more in-depth than graphics, however. In addition to the font changes, it seems as though the option to view the forums in Simple or Advanced view has been removed, along with the ability to link items in posts. Along with this change, the My Realms option to switch between only those forums on which you have playable characters has vanished. For now, players will have to scroll through the entire list of realms to locate a particular realm.

If you can't see any changes, or if the forums are displaying incorrectly on your browser, you may want to try clearing your cache or refreshing the page. At the moment, there doesn't appear to be an official thread for feedback or to report any technical issues with the new forums. Although the removal of some features may be a little disconcerting, it might be possible that some of these changes are unintended, or that we'll see some of the more popular options make a return. What do you think of the facelift? Is it easier to read, or did you like the original version better? Are there features you'd like to see working again?

Filed under: News items

Feedback and what it does and doesn't do

For as long as I've been playing World of Warcraft (which is as long as it's been around) one thing I've seen over and over again is the constant debate between players about the forums and what they're for. Blizzard has stated repeatedly that they listen to player concerns and take feedback very seriously, but they've also stated that they don't design by committee. Still, we've seen design choices made with the player base and its reactions in place - Mists of Pandaria had a far more engaging and active endgame than did Cataclysm, and it evolved over the course of the expansion in response to player reaction. Similarly, many credit (or blame) the steep increase in difficulty in heroic dungeons between the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the neginning of Cataclysm on fanbase complaints.

One question that seems to get asked a lot is does anyone at Blizzard care about the forums, which to my mind is a strange question to ask given the evidence I just cited. Clearly, player feedback (and not just from the forums, either) is something that Blizzard pays a lot of attention to. CM Takralus gave a brief on what, exactly, the CM's do with player feedback on the forums and how it is brought to the devs' attention.

Let's talk a bit about feedback. When is it useful and when isn't it useful?

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

Doodlegnome answers all of your Warlords of Draenor questions

Doodlegnome answers: What will be the new legendary item?
Doodlegnome has done it again.

Five months ago, the World of Warcraft community watched, spellbound, as a certain precocious gnome enthralled us with her scrawled tale of a crab, the floating skull who loved him, and the nerf bat-wielding child they weaned on the tears of irate forum posters.

The Doodlegnome, Paululum, has been busy since that 251-page official forum thread finally came to an end -- she's continued to draw at a prolific rate, even starting up her own webcomic and crafting some amazing BlizzCon badges -- but she hadn't created a new epic forum thread since she took the Zarcrawler idea and ran with it as far as her little legs could carry her.

Until this week, that is.

On Wednesday, fresh from an invigorating weekend at BlizzCon, Paululum took to the official WoW forums once more to offer up scribbled answers to any and all questions about the upcoming expansion, Warlords of Draenor. Thirty-one pages, more than 600 posts and over 50 drawings later (and still counting!), we've got ourselves a Warlords encyclopedia the likes of which the world will likely never see again. In fact, so valued are Doodlegnome's posts that Community Manager Bashiok swooped in to make sure that each link within her posts in the thread could be clicked, even though WoW forum settings don't normally allow for non-blues to have clickable links.

Here, for your education and neatly categorized viewing pleasure, are each of Paululum's "Ask Me Anything" responses about the expansion. (We'll keep this post updated as/if new doodles are added.)

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Filed under: Comics, Arts and Crafts

Disconnects and latency issues and Patch 5.3

No one likes high latency, least of all someone playing an MMO that can demand reaction time the way World of Warcraft can, especially in raids. But even out in the world, latency can be a killer. So when people started reporting issues with connections to World of Warcraft soon after patch 5.3 launched, it got a lot of players noticing. In a six page forum thread there's been a lot of lively discussion of what's going on - whether it's on Blizzard's end, or somewhere between the computers of the affected players and the Blizzard servers. If you remember the Lagpocalypse post, you know how complicated these issues can get.

MVP forum poster Lissanna posted an interesting walkthrough of her own attempts to find the culprit today, and explained why despite some forum poster dissatisfaction that it is indeed helpful to run a traceroute and pathping and post the results to the tech support forums, since it gives Blizzard an idea of who to talk to about these issues. If they don't know who's being affected, where those people are, and more importantly where the issue is physically located there's not much they can do to help.

So if you're having the same problem, giving Blizzard as much information as possible is definitely helpful in terms of getting this sorted out. I've seen people in my raids disconnect on every single boss so far while I haven't had the issue at all myself, suggesting the problem isn't on Blizzard's end but is out there somewhere in the path the data takes between Blizzard and the players. Hopefully it can be solved soon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, News items, Mists of Pandaria

My favorite imaginary class mounts

Well, even more imaginary, I guess. Technically all of World of Warcraft is imaginary. But this post on the EU forums got me thinking: what kind of cool class mounts do I wish existed in the game? What with the Armored Bloodwing up for grabs in the Blizzard Store, I guess I have mounts on the brain.

For warriors, I want a mix of the fanciful and the gritty. I want an armored rhino mount. Something like the Wooly White Rhino, but with armor plates all over it, so heavily armored that it looks like a mound of metal coming to gore you. Like a rhino wearing Onslaught. A rhino wearing Onslaught with Christopher Lee's album playing in the background.

Some classes also come to mind - hunters should get to tame a mount, shaman should get a huge elemental ascendant version of a racial mount (so orc shamans would get a stone worg, while draenei would get a fire elekk and so on) and priests should get angel wings (or in the case of shadow priests, dark angel wings) like Imperius from Diablo III.

So what are your suggestions? What class mounts would you like to see?

Filed under: Hunter, Priest, Shaman, Warrior, Mists of Pandaria

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