Lately, the EU forums have been on my must-read list due to posts like this one. Poster Ask (no sign of Embla) posed the question, as it is right and appropriate that Ask should do, of whether or not Blizzard could or should release new content without there being a PTR or beta for it.
I wasn't even done sputtering yet when CM Takralus pretty much said what I would have, were I not busy sputtering.
Takralus - "New" content and an idea
New content must be tested. Many, many players enjoy being able to test and give their feedback on upcoming new content, and we put that feedback to good use. But, many more people do not test it, and first experience it when the content is actually released.
The simple truth is that if you do not want to see maps and tactics for upcoming content, it's not too hard to avoid. Neither of those are things that will burn into your mind, never to be forgotten.
The day WoW launched, even that had first been through an alpha and then beta test, where people could play and give feedback for months :P
Even with beta tests, bugs get through. Anyone remember Sinestra? At the time Paragon killed her, they talked about the fight and its issues. One of those issues was that Paragon was one of the first guilds to really see Sinestra, and as a result, the fight had bugs that were not discovered until after Paragon began seriously pushing for the kill. In other words, not testing Sinestra on the PTR had consequences that may be acceptable with a single fight that only a few players will even see while it is current and that will be fixed by the time other guilds go back while outgearing it.
These consequences would absolutely be ruinous if they were felt by everyone attempting to do normal-mode raiding content. To a degree, not running a PTR or beta test is irresponsible on Blizzard's part, especially with content meant for the majority of players. I really think the responsibility for walking into a raid fresh, unspoiled by tips or beta testers, is on the players. Better we have some spoilers than untested content.
And yes, we had both an alpha and a beta for World of Warcraft. They didn't translate to having everyone know everything when it went live. Heck, half the time, it just confused you because stuff changed so much. I really fall on the side of those who appreciate beta testing. It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!
Some forum posters report that the PTR realms are coming up right now. So if you don't have access to the beta but do want to check out what will develop into the final Cataclysm patch, head on over to Battle.net and download the PTR build from your Account Management screen.
All relevant blue posts are after the break.
Editor's Note: The patch 5.0.4 PTR patch notes were just made available, you can find them right here.
Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.
If you haven't watched Legend of Korra yet, you're a bad person. The first season ended this past weekend, so it's a perfect time to catch up on the whole thing.
I have 4 85s. A Combat Rogue(main), Arcane Mage, Ret Pali, and an Unholy DK. My question is simple, going into MoP, what would be the most fun to play through to 90 first? I'm curious about trying out a Monk but I simply want to hit 90 ASAP. Any suggestions?
Some time last month, I was chatting with a friend about various story bits in WoW when we wandered onto the subject of the blood elves and what they're up to in the story. I pointed out the short story In the Shadow of the Sun for more recent sin'dorei lore, adding that of course the story took place prior to Wrath in the time line, so it really wasn't the most up-to-date bit of lore, although it was a wonderful read. My friend asked if I thought we'd see anything with the blood elves in Mists, and I replied that I didn't think so, but then we didn't really know that much about storylines in Pandaria yet.
"Well, yeah," they replied. "But what about Rommath? I mean, he's part of the Twilight Cult and all." I paused for a moment, confused, and then realized what they were referring to. "That was a set of datamined voice files that never made it to game," I clarified. "Well yeah, but he's evil," they insisted. "No, he's not -- as far as the game and the lore is concerned, that conversation never happened, and Rommath is still the same old Rommath. A little cranky and snooty, but definitely not evil. Until proven otherwise." They pondered this, and the conversation moved on from there.
I've had this conversation again and again -- in game, on Twitter. And this, my friends, is just one example of the many dangers of datamining.
One of the most frequently asked questions around here these days is what exactly the difference is between a 32- and 64-bit client of World of Warcraft. Blizzard, which has been hinting at a 64-bit WoW client for some time now, has finally announced that such a client exists and can be downloaded for testing on the PTR. This is great news for people with computers that have large amounts of RAM and hefty processors, as well as great news for general improvements to WoW's structure itself.
In order to use a 64-bit client of WoW, you need to have a 64-bit operating system on your computer. The main difference between 32- and 64-bit operating systems (usually Windows) is that one deals with information in a more efficient way. Information in a 32-bit operating system is dealt with in pieces of information that are 32 bits wide, while 64-bit operating systems deal with information that is 64 bits wide -- double the alternative. With this larger bit structure comes better efficiency and the ability to use or "see" more RAM in your computer. 32-bit systems can only use 4 gigabytes of RAM and your 32-bit WoW client can only use 2 gigabytes, whereas the amount a 64-bit system can use is almost unlimited.
While we don't fully know exactly what improvements to the game will come with the 64-bit client, we can assume that more efficient processing power and the ability to stack more RAM for WoW to use might give some players a big frame rate boost and better performance. Lifehacker has an old article about how to tell if you have a 32- or 64-bit operation system.
So, remember the hints that've been dropped recently about a 64-bit game client? Well, it's here. In a blue post on the PTR forums, Dresorull has formally announced the client's existence and provided a link to a 64-bit executable file that runs in place of the normal 32-bit one. (This means that you won't have to download a huge new version of the game, just a small file that you can then toggle between in the launcher settings.) This is still being heavily tested; it will only work on the PTR and is being distributed separately from the PTR itself.
Now, before you get too excited, realize that this isn't a panacea. If you're running a 32-bit OS, you won't be able to use this at all, and a 64-bit system with limited memory (say, 4GB of RAM or less) may actually see decreased performance due to the increased memory usage of 64-bit programs. Systems with more memory, however, will be able to cache more program data in RAM. This should help speed up things that require large reads from the hard drive, such as changing zones, and may increase stability for those who run lots of addons.
A 64-bit client is now available for use with the 4.3.2 PTR. You can download it at the link below, unzip it into your PTR directory, and then run the executable to test it.
• The 64-bit client is being distributed separately from the PTR as it is not yet supported for use with World of Warcraft.
• This can only be used with the 4.3.2 PTR, it is not to be used with the live version of the game.
• A Mac version is not available yet, though we are working on one and plan for it to be available in the near future.
• The game's built in voice chat does not currently work in the 64-bit client.
It appears that the holidays are over at Blizzard today, as our first new content since the launch of patch 4.3 has hit the public test realms with a few interesting tidbits. MMO-Champion has got the full scoop, showing off the datamined Feldrake mount as well as a new World of Warcraft optimization feature that can slim down WoW's footprint on your system. A 64-bit game client is also teased with the addition of a Text x86 client marking, and new client strings show off some of the WoW parental controls.
A rideable Feldrake as well as an Eye of the Legion pet, hmm? Could these items give us any clues toward the Mists of Pandaria launch events that are going to be happening presumably within the next few months, making way for the next expansion? Are we getting a glimpse of a demonic invasion that will leave the Horde and the Alliance scrambling to fight off enemies from all sides?
According to reports on the forums and the above video, GM Xel spawned Deathwing on the PTR and had him return to Stormwind to deliver another blow to the Alliance this Friday at the Harbor.
It appears that the version of Deathwing spawned is the current one that flies around Azeroth and burns zones to the ground, killing all NPCs, mobs, and players. We can even see the player in the video get the Achievement "Stood in the Fire." There is no indication this is the version of Deathwing that will spawn in the raids. We didn't see any players on his back, which is something we know will be possible during the fight.
We believe the video and reports are credible. And while it happened on the PTR, there is little possibility of this happening on the live realms. "Fly around and randomly destroy zones" Deathwing doesn't hit the cities, and GMs rarely, if ever, make themselves known on the live realms. However on the PTR, as the video above shows, things are completely different.
One of my all-time favorite television shows as a child was $ale of the Century. It was a simple question-and-answer game show with a twist: All correct answers only awarded contestants with $5. However, at various points in the show, contestants would be given the chance to buy thousands of dollars worth of prizes for next to nothing -- a new recliner for $8, a trip to Hawaii for $17.
It was a special economy all its own. A trip to Hawaii could cost $2,176 in one place while costing $17 in another. It's the same good ol' U.S. currency -- it's just that $17 has a far greater value in one context than $2,176 has in another.
Like said game, the patch 4.3 PTR operates by a bizarre set of economic rules all its own, if you can even call them rules. It's the wild west of economies. Anything goes. The fantastic BOE Mekgineer's Chopper is normally valued at 15,000 gold. But today, on Sale of the Azerothian Century, that Chopper can be yours for only ... 1 silver. Or 240,000 gold. Depends on who your seller is.
I mean that headline quite literally -- I have been on the PTR pretty much every available moment since it dropped. I've run End Time close to 40 times now. I've messed around with transmog, copied over my warrior four times and run amok with options, done some DPS and tanking and mused over the set bonuses for tier 13. In general, I've gorged on the PTR like Thrall running headlong into hostile mobs in Durnholde Keep. As soon as I get a chance to run The Hour of Twilight, I'll let you know if he still yells I did not ask for this while throwing himself bodily at six hostiles.
Frankly, Thrall, you so asked for this.
So what do I think of Patch 4.3 at this early, early date? I'm glad I rhetorically asked. Well, for one thing, I am loving transmogging my gear like you would not believe. I'm vacillating between a mix of Onslaught and Ymirjar Lord's (I like the tier 10 chest and legs with Onslaught everything else) and the classic Horde level 60 PVP gear. But as much fun as transmogging is, it's hardly the meat and potatoes of this patch.
Here's an interesting tidbit of information coming out of the news from the patch 4.3 PTR: Each class has a level 80 set of gear at ilevel 232 that covers every spec and gear slot from head to toe, weapons, rings and trinkets included. We have no idea what purpose these sets serve or where and how they are obtained, but each set is in the files and has art that matches the level 68 to 70 gear one picks up in Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord.
We could speculate a million different explanations for these sets. A new service or gameplay mechanic to make new characters that start at level 80, perhaps? We'll know soon, hopefully. Here are all of the set names, with Wowhead links for those curious souls.
My first action after leaping onto the patch 4.3 PTR was to hunt down the Transmogrification and Void Storage vendors immediately. Apparently everyone else had the same idea too, as the little building was crammed full of players eagerly changing the appearance of their gear. Transmogrification is an incredibly simple process, and Void Storage is just as easy -- all that's required is dragging and dropping your gear and gold.
Did I mention gold? There's a lot of gold involved currently. In order to open up your Void Storage vault, there is a fee of 1,000g. Once you've opened the vault, it costs a whopping 100g per item to deposit it into your vault -- and another 100g per item to remove it. With 80 slots available to fill, that quickly adds up to 8,000g just to place all your items into Void Storage. Want to take them out? It's another 8,000g.
Keep in mind, however, this is the PTR and prices may change -- although most players have so much gold on their hands by now that this could almost be considered a needed gold sink.
Check out the gallery for a full step-by-step walk-through of the Transmogrification and Void Storage process, and keep your eyes peeled here at WoW Insider for more PTR news.
The new 5-man instances, End Time, Well of Eternity, and Hour of Twilight, now award 150 valor points for each random completed, up to seven per week. The valor point cap per week has been increased to 1,000 points -- but interestingly, the cap for using the random Dungeon Finder is higher than the actual cap. This could be a bug, or it could be intended to allow players to gain that extra 50 valor points through the Dungeon Finder, but I'm assuming that things just aren't complete (because after all, this is the PTR).
End Time, the first instance in the sequential set of 5-mans, took my group about 20 to 25 minutes to make our way through. Three bosses and only about seven to eight trash packs later, we were happily finished and 150 valor points richer. This time frame is radically different than the Zul' heroics we are currently used to, making the play experience, in my experience, more fulfilling in a shorter amount of time. We have not yet run the other two dungeons, but if they are as streamlined as End Time, valor points will be a less stressful experience in the future. We will have more information as it becomes available. Brace yourselves for what could be some of most exciting updates to the game recently with patch 4.3. Review the official patch notes, and then dig into what's ahead: new item storage options, cross-realm raiding, cosmetic armor skinning and your chance to battle the mighty Deathwing -- from astride his back!
Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Mat McCurley will be your host today.
Since my job is working for WoW Insider, today is what we call a busy work day. Why? Well, friends, the PTR is up and patch 4.3 is live thereon. I'll be running dungeons, filming movies, and taking questions all day about the new content. This is what we call fun.
I'm working my hardest and fastest to get videos of the new instances up and ready for your viewing pleasure. Damn you, upload speeds.
When do you think the other T13's will be revealed?
Very soon. Datamining of the new patch files on the PTR has revealed most of the new sets, so Blizzard will want to get its own official previews up in the near future. Expect them soon.