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Ghostcrawler on the Path of the Titans


Our good friend Ghostcrawler (I can say that now, because we all got to meet him at BlizzCon the other week) has done his best to explain the new Path of the Titans feature coming in the Cataclysm expansion over in this forum thread. We had this same question come up on last week's podcast as well, and we said pretty much the same thing GC does: Path of the Titans is a brand new way for max-level characters to keep improving themselves. Of course, the feature is still being developed, but the goal is a "gated, not grindy" way (as in, you'll earn rewards by doing things, not by doing them over and over again) to experience character progression outside of just reputation grinding, PvP, or raiding.

He clarifies the idea more later in the thread as well. The different paths of the Titans are meant to be class-independent, but GC says that they do want players to debate which path is best for which class, even if they do end up with a "best" solution in the end. Archaeology is meant to be a part of it, so GC agrees that it could be more of a mandatory secondary profession than Cooking or Fishing has been in the past, but they're aware of that danger. And just because the paths may be tied to dailies or instances doesn't mean they'll work the same: the time in which you can progress might be longer than the daily quest limit or shorter than the weekly raid limit. The idea, as above, is to give players who don't necessarily raid or PvP something else to do with character progression at endgame.

Should be interesting to see what they come up with. Personally, this sounds a little bit to me like D&D's prestige classes -- not nearly as powerful or varied, but a way of separating your character out from the rest of those that chose the same class you did. That's just me being hopeful, though -- Blizzard seems to have a lot of development before we see this as a finished product.
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgens to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

Filed under: Items, Blizzard, Leveling, Forums, Cataclysm, Archaeology

Behind the scenes of WoW's bandwidth

We heard a little while back that it was AT&T who provide data center hosting to Blizzard and this gigantic game (and actually, we've had outage problems before due to maintenance on AT&T's end), but our friend Tamara Chuang of the Orange County Register went straight to the source, and spoke with the big bandwidth provider on just what it takes to keep the servers up. There's some good information in there, especially if you're interested in all of the motherboards and wires that run the World of Warcraft. MMOs are apparently AT&T's biggest gaming customers, and they run the wires for companies like Blizzard as well as Konami and Turbine. They originally helped run Battle.net, and when Blizzard wanted to expand with World of Warcraft, AT&T's gaming division expanded with them.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of secrets here -- given that they're selling a service, AT&T doesn't speak too frankly about how much downtime they're really responsible for, and of course as a trade secret they can't give any numbers on how much bandwidth is passing through and where it's all going. But they will say that they've got latency levels down to milliseconds (in their testing, I'm sure -- lots of players would probably suggest it's a little worse, depending on which ISP you use), and that they offer services like Synaptic Hosting. During times of hard usage, Blizzard can ask (for a price, of course) to open the floodgates up and make sure there's enough bandwidth to go around.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Economy, Hardware

Can Blizzard fix all their launch problems in Wrath?

Our good friend Relmstein (who I was able to finally meet in person at BlizzCon this year) is back to blogging about World of Warcraft, even though he was on a WAR trip for a while there. But we're glad to have him back -- yesterday, he posted about how Wrath might tackle all the launch issues we saw with the Burning Crusade.

Everyone knows by now that Blizzard has split the entry area into two different areas (with four total Northrend entry points, one for each faction), and of course there's also Death Knights to roll, so hopefully the lag problem is helped (hard to believe it could actually be solved). But Relmstein has other ideas in mind: the dynamic spawn system (mobs will spawn faster the more people there are around killing them) causes some crazy repops last time, and hopefully that's been evened out a bit. He's also worried about the "leveling truce" on PvP servers -- during the last expansion, everyone was more interested in exploring than fighting for the first few levels, but if you missed that ad-hoc "truce," you had new level 70s beating you down as you were trying to explore the world. Hopefully the Lake Wintergrasp PvP zone will keep PvPers busy without griefing all of the people trying to see Northrend for the first time.

And later on, the Karazhan bump is a worry as well -- lots of guilds, early on in BC, were crushed by Karazhan's 10-man limit and the gear checks in there. Will 10-man Naxx also cause a ton of guild breakups, or will the 10/25 man split help guilds play what they want to play? We'll have to see how it all works out -- this is only the second time Blizzard has released this amount of content into the game, so while they're sure to have evened out some problems, you have to think that there will still be a few bumps in the road.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Expansions, Raiding, Leveling, Wrath of the Lich King

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