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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

Improving the character selection screen


I really like this post over at Mend Pet -- after five years in a game's life, no part of the WoW interface should be remiss from getting the occasional update, and they mention possibly the only part of the game (even the login screen's been updated quite a few times) that's been the same since day one, the character selection screen. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with it, as you can choose your character and get into the game. But everything can be better, no?

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Filed under: Patches, Tips, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Add-Ons

How will the Stormrage novel tie into Cataclysm?

So the convention is over, Blizzard has shown all (or at least most -- there are still secrets, we're sure) of their cards, and the next expansion will involve the return of Deathwing and a completely remade Azeroth. Goblins will be in there as the Horde race, but as for the original speculation of the Maelstrom and the Emerald Dream, well... It remains to be seen exactly how those will tie in to what we heard about at BlizzCon.

The biggest hint I saw at the Emerald Dream in the last year was the fact that Blizzard is going to release a "Stormrage" novel -- that would hint that good old Malfurion Stormrage and his kin would be spotlighted in the near future. Richard Knaak says the novel is set in the present, so something is going on for sure. Even though Deathwing is going to be the big bad this time around, something's still cooking with Stormrage.

Which actually makes sense. If we're going to get looks at Deepholm (the elemental plane of Earth, where Deathwing has been lying dormant recently) and The Firelands, as well as Skywall and the Abyssal Maw (the Fire, Air, and Water planes, respectively), that could mean they're going to open up Azeroth's other planes as well, with the Emerald Dream among them. The return of Deathwing would undoubtedly bring the other Aspects to bear, and Ysera would definitely be among those. In the opening ceremony last weekend, Metzen dismissed the Emerald Dream as "rumors and speculation," but the upcoming Stormrage novel still hints we still might see the Emerald Dream sometime soon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

Rage as a liability

Rage is a problematic mechanic, and has been since its implementation. It can be a lot of fun, but it can also be frustrating, and it contributes to Warriors' gear dependance. Blizzard is probably working on a way to redo rage entirely, but in the mean time, I'd like to highlight this suggestion for a rage revamp from Alveredus, a commenter on a recent post of mine.

Here's a quick rundown of Alveredus's proposal:

  • Rage increases over time by itself.
  • The more rage you have, the lower your attack speed, but the higher your crit chance.
  • When your rage is at maximum, you start losing resilience.
  • Your abilities vent rage instead of costing rage - same thing really, but a different way of looking at it.

I'm not certain about the specifics of it, but I like the general idea of rage being something you want to get rid of instead of something you want to spend. It makes sense: being in combat makes you angry; when angry, you may be less accurate, more vulnerable, or generally imbalanced.

On the other hand, a system like this runs the risk of feeling like Rogue energy with a penalty. Rogues get their resource back at a constant rate and use it on abilities, but nothing bad happens to them when they cap their energy (aside from losing out on some potential DPS). The comparison could feel unfair for Warriors, who already have their share of penalties for core abilities. But rage definitely could use some work, and I'd like it to stay an interesting mechanic.

Filed under: Druid, Warrior

More ideas for player housing

Spicytuna has a nice little writeup about a much-discussed but never implemented feature in World of Warcraft: player housing. Blizzard has borrowed (and subsequently improved upon) many of the most common features in MMOs -- they revamped leveling with ideas like rested XP and recruit-a-friend, they changed the endgame with the ideas of Heroic instances and daily quests, and they've tweaked PvP with battlegrounds, Wintergrasp and Arenas.

But for some reason they've never taken on the idea of player housing: a place in the game for players to make their own. The reason we've always heard is that they never landed on a good implementation of it -- if they couldn't do it right, they wouldn't do it at all.

But Spicytuna proves there's no shortage of ideas. The main thought so far is that such an area would be instanced, as having actual buildings in the game as player houses just leads to emptied out ghettos of buildings left to rot.

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Filed under: Engineering, Tailoring, Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard

Freshening up the battleground with new ideas

This idea has been floating around ever since we all realized there were two new opposing reputations in the Burning Crusade-- an Aldor vs. Scryer battleground. It would definitely be a fresh change of pace to line up alongside the opposing faction and have a chance to face off against your own friends and guildies. Of course, there's lots of coding work that would have to be done (as well as a little lore work-- Aldor and Scryer aren't exactly in open war at this point), but it would be a cool addition to the current battleground options.

And the forum thread that mentions the idea is actually full of great BG ideas-- a Team Deathmatch BG, multi-team CTF, and even an escort battleground. There's already that kind of thing in AV (you can run the quests that summon an NPC for you to follow around more than escort), but it would be neat to have a BG where you had to get an actual player from one place to another. Or maybe they could do it with an NPC-- run it in the Caverns of Time, and have the player escort someone in the history of Warcraft. Like Durnholde, but with players instead of an instance.

The other neat tidbit from this thread is that Ommra winkingly mentions siege engines as something she'd (he'd?) like to see in the BGs. So whatever news comes out about what's new in the battlegrounds, it's a pretty good bet that siege engines are almost upon us.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, PvP

Two specs too easy?



As far as basic skills go, every character of a given class in WoW is the same (assuming they bothered to train all their skills; I've certainly left Feedback on my Priest and Wound Poison on my Rogue well alone). Where character customization comes in is with talents and gear. Gear is relatively easily switched -- many classes carry multiple sets routinely, and mods like ItemRack or Outfitter are great at helping you switch between them. Talents, on the other hand, are not quite so easy to switch up. Not only do you have to trek back into Azeroth to a major city to find a trainer, but you also have to pay, and of course the more you respec the more it costs. Granted, even the 50g maximum cost is a lot less now than it used to be, due to inflation, but it certainly adds up, and it's not really attractive to pay 100g (respec away, then respec back) just for one night of instances, PvP, grinding, or what have you. Blizz have said that the respec cost is not going away, as they want talents to have some kind of lasting implications, to be a somewhat weighty choice, but it does get somewhat frustrating to have to gimp yourself in one part of the game to be great at another part.

Tobold's MMORPG Blog
is always a good read, and today he debuts a new column about "single features that I think are easy enough to implement and which could make World of Warcraft a much better game." This being WoW, I'm sure the idea has arisen before, but this week Tobold has come up with the idea of letting everyone have two specs and be able to switch between them for free. You could still charge to change either spec, on the same plan as before. To avoid on-the-fly spec switching abuse, you could make people go to a trainer to switch. If this were implemented, I'd also want to see a spec switcher NPC in Shattrath, because that's where the party is these days.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Talents

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