MMO-Champion - Patch 4.1 Bugs and Blue Posts, Scott Mercer Interview, GC - Number of Abilities
Are you feeling weird? Are you scared of not logging back in every time you leave the game? Good news! It means your server is patched to 4.1! Blizzard is working hard to fix all the annoying bugs as soon as possible.

Upcoming Hotfixes
Originally Posted by Bashiok (Blue Tracker)
We have a hotfix in which should correct outstanding Retrieving Character List hangs, game logins, and instance disconnects related to the new Optimize for Network Speed option that some people are experiencing.

It will take realm restarts to pick up the hotfix which aren't currently scheduled until off-peak tonight.

If you haven't already, please refer to the sticky thread for some possible fixes and/or to continue discussion on this topic.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2416207628

Stuck at Retrieving Characters
Originally Posted by Daxxarri (Blue Tracker)
We are aware that some players are becoming stuck at the Retrieving Character List screen. If you are experiencing this issue, please click the Options button on your log in screen, then go to Network and ensure that the 'Optimize Network for Speed' box is checked.

This temporary workaround should allow you to play, but you may experience increased latency. We are currently working to resolve this issue and we will provide further updates and information as soon as they are available.

Note: Some players who remain able to log in successfully are experiencing connectivity issues, particularly in instances. Those players may experience fewer issues if the 'Optimize Network for Speed' box is unchecked.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Authenticator box missing from the login screen
Aye, we're aware of it and it is being looked into. I'm afraid there aren't any updates at the moment though. (Source)

Character stuck after dying in Zul'Gurub
As with any other stuck issue, Lokio, the best solution would be to log into an alternate character and submit a petition with the phrase "stuck" within the text. Our Game Master department will do their best to assist you as quickly as possible. (Source)

Bind to Battle.net Account items
The change in 4.1 allows the item to be sent to another character, on the same realm, on another account, that's contained within the same Battle.net account. So if you have two WoW accounts on the same Battle.net account, you can now send items between accounts to characters that exist on the same realm (including cross faction).

It's admittedly pretty limiting. We still want BoA items to truly be BoA, it's just something that will take quite a bit more development time and technical hurdles to overcome. This is one step in the right direction, though. (Source)

Blizzard Insider Interview with Scott Mercer
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
In patch 4.1: Rise of the Zandalari, the devastation wrought by the Cataclysm drives the troll tribes of Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub into a renewed frenzy that threatens to escalate into outright war.

To learn more about this troll onslaught, the Blizzard Insider recently sat down with World of Warcraft Lead Encounter Designer Scott Mercer. Read on to get the behind-the-scenes details of the upcoming content patch, which will bring back the legendary raid dungeons of Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub as 5-player Heroic instances.


How did Rise of the Zandalari come about?

Scott Mercer: Well, it's always a good time for trolls! No, just kidding, there's more to it than that. The idea first came up after the launch of 4.0 when we reintroduced 5-player versions of Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines. The classic dungeons ended up being a big hit with players, so we knew we wanted keep the momentum going by remaking more dungeons. Zul'Gurub was an obvious choice as it was a long-time player favorite, and many people were sad to see it go when Cataclysm launched. We started revamping it as soon as we could. Much later, when work on Zul'Gurub was nearing completion, we decided to add Zul'Aman to the lineup as well. The team felt Zul'Aman was one of our best raid dungeons of all time, but that it launched late in the Burning Crusade expansion cycle, so not that many players got a chance to experience it when it first came out. It was really the "hidden jewel" of Burning Crusade raiding. We're hopeful that bringing it back as a 5-player Heroic will open it up and allow a much larger portion of the player base to try out the encounters.


Can you give us any indication of the how the major bosses and features of Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub will be updated for the patch?

Scott Mercer: Zul'Aman was ahead of its times in a lot of ways, and it actually adheres pretty closely to the encounter design philosophies we use today. For that reason, we didn’t feel the need to change the encounter mechanics too much aside from a few tweaks here and there needed to retune it for 5 players instead of 10 or 20. On the other hand, Zul'Gurub needed to change a lot to bring it in line with our current thinking on encounter design. For starters, we simplified the dungeon layout by closing off some of the wings with doors or fallen debris. This should make progression through the dungeon more streamlined and obvious. We're also completely redoing the non-boss NPCs in the dungeon to make them easier to clear with a 5-player group. A lot of the Zul'Gurub boss lineup is changing as well, and players can even expect to see some new faces in the crowd.


Were there any specific challenges in taking a 10 or 20-player raid instance and revamping it for 5 players?

Scott Mercer: Knowing that there will only be five players at an encounter introduces some constraints that aren't there for larger raid encounters. For example, you can't use tank switching mechanics when you know that most 5-player groups are only going to have one tank. In the same vein, events that require a lot of crowd control aren't going to work either; there just aren't as many players available for crowd control as you would have in a 20-player raid. We also had to be careful to limit encounter mechanics that could potentially disrupt or lock down the healer. These kinds of mechanics tend to be much more devastating in 5-player groups, mostly because there are no other healers available to pick up the slack. Of course, I'm not saying players aren't going to see any disruptive mechanics at all, I'm just saying we had to use them much more carefully than we would with larger raid encounters.


You discussed how several of the encounter mechanics are changing for the revamp. Can you give us any specific examples?

Scott Mercer: Sure, take Akil'Zon, the eagle boss in Zul'Aman. He used to interrupt players by launching them straight into the air, which could be devastating in a 5-player encounter if he chooses the healer or the tank, so we changed this mechanic slightly. Now his summoned eagles pick players up and try to fly off with them instead. The player that gets picked up can still act and cast normally, even while being carried away. So the group just has to make sure the eagle dies before it carries the player away. This works better, because the eagle mechanic still creates a sense of urgency without completely disrupting the targeted player.


Let's talk phat loot! What kinds of rewards can players expect from the new versions of Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman?

Scott Mercer: The bosses drop epic quality item level 353 loot, which we hope will help players gear up for Cataclysm raiding. We also reworked the Edge of Madness event as an optional boss encounter which requires the archaeology profession to activate. At a certain point, an archaeologist can release one of four randomly chosen troll spirits, each with unique loot. We're also releasing new versions of the special mounts that used to be found in Zul'Aman and Zul'Gurub. Players who successfully complete a timed run of Zul'Aman can get the new version of the war bear. Anyone who has the old version of a mount can still get the new version. Also -- though this isn’t really part of the dungeon itself -- we're adding a new mini-raptor pet for people who do the Stranglethorn Vale lead-in quests. Oh, and of course, Mojo the toad can still be found in Zul'Aman.


Going forward, can we expect more raid dungeons from past expansions and patches to be revamped as 5-player Heroic dungeons?

Scott Mercer: We definitely want to, but there are a few technical limitations we will have to solve first, especially with some of the older dungeons. That said, we know players like the classic dungeons and we’re open to updating just about any instance that has memorable encounters, especially if the dungeon as a whole meshes well with our current philosophy of encounter design. Several dungeons in particular keep coming up as potential candidates for 5-player Heroics. I've heard Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance discussed a few times. We also think it would be cool to revamp Blackrock Spire and Blackrock Depths given their obvious tie-ins for the storyline of Cataclysm. Nothing's been ruled out yet, so I guess we'll have to wait and see which ideas rise to the surface and we move further into Cataclysm.

Dev Watercooler -- Number of Abilities
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
‘Dev Watercooler’ is a blog series that provides an inside look into the thoughts and discussions happening within the World of Warcraft development team. In our first entry, Lead Systems Designer Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street laid down a few ground rules:


  • No promises.
  • Don’t read too much between the lines.
  • No whining about the choice of topics we cover.


How Big Is Your Spellbook?

How many abilities should a max-level class have? This is something I ponder at least once a day and is a regular topic in nearly all of our class design meetings. Even if you pick a magic number, how many of those should be core rotational abilities versus abilities that are used rarely?

Each class has a lot of spells and abilities -- the hunter has over 60, including the various forms of tracking. Despite our pruning abilities for many classes, there are still probably too many overall. In vanilla, most classes had one ability they used much of the time for damage or healing. Other abilities were situational or, to be honest, not used at all. In more recent expansions, we’ve tried to develop actual rotations for all 30 talent trees so that you’re hitting more than one button most of the time.

When we talk about class “rotations” we’re just using that term as shorthand for the abilities you tend to use often, as opposed to situational abilities. In this context “rotations” aren’t limited just to classes who cycle through buttons A, B, and C in that order. It just means “stuff you use a lot.”

Kidney Shot is a situational ability. You wouldn’t want to use it every time it was off cooldown. Envenom is a rotational ability. You might not want to use it the moment it’s off cooldown, depending on what else is going on, but you’ll still get around to it pretty quickly. Cold Blood straddles the fence. It’s rotational in that your DPS will drop if you ignore it, but you can’t spam it because it has a cooldown. All three buttons require space on your action bar. You might scoot Kidney Shot off to the side if you’re a raiding rogue, but it probably commands a prominent hotkey if you PvP a lot.

What's the Magic Number?

There isn’t a magic number for how many rotational abilities a class needs, but we find that about four is the sweet spot. (Warning: four is not a magic number. Please don’t “helpfully” point out classes with more than four abilities as candidates for immediate design overhauls.) Elemental shaman, for example, get most of their damage from Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst, Flame Shock, and Earth Shock.

Many more abilities than four and it’s hard for us to carve off niches for them. Fewer than that, and the characters can become boring to play. We’ve tried to make it clearer about which are your rotational abilities (e.g. Overpower is for Arms warriors, not generally for Fury or Protection warriors), and we’ll try to get even better about this in the future.

We generally think of rotations as mechanics for DPS classes, but they apply to tanks as well and to a lesser extent, healers. Protection warriors use Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate, and Heroic Strike as their single-target threat abilities. They also use Demoralizing Shout, Thunder Clap, and Shield Block, pretty much on cooldown. Given the number of situational abilities warriors also have, and that they prioritize different abilities when attacking multiple targets, you can argue that Prot warriors have too many abilities. To my mind, Demoralizing Shout is the least interesting one and the first candidate to cut. (We would have to cut the equivalent debuffs from all sources in order to prevent this from just being a warrior nerf of course.) We could also have Devastate completely replace Sunder Armor (i.e. Sunder Armor vanishes from your Spell Book) so there is no confusion about whether Sunder should ever be used again. That would help to get a few buttons off the bar.

Healers have less of a rotation, since much of what they are doing is always highly situational. However, Holy paladins do have builders and finishers, and other healers want to get their HoTs up before switching to cast-time heals, etc. All healers still have a group of core spells though. For a Holy priest healing a single target, these are Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Renew, and Holy Word: Serenity. If we gave healers a new healing spell, it would need to distinguish itself from those spells in some meaningful way, else it or one of the existing spells risks getting crowded out. Flash Heal is often the heal that risks getting crowded out most often, since so many of the healer talents give them more situational-ish emergency buttons, such as Penance and Power Word: Shield for priests.

It's Complicated

I’ve stuck with long-ish single target rotations -- the kind you’d use against a dungeon or raid boss -- for the most part, but of course it isn’t always that simple. As you’re leveling, you’re killing things very quickly, so applying long DoTs isn’t always worth the effort. A Feral druid could stealth behind every quest mob and open with Shred (or even Ravage), but for the most part it’s easier just to Mangle targets down and spend combo points on Savage Roar or possibly Ferocious Bite, since the target won’t live long enough for Rip to really do its job. These “quick kill” rotations can also come into group play where you’re dealing with adds that can’t be AE’d down for whatever reason (such as the risk of breaking CC). A Shadow priest might use Mind Spike in these scenarios rather than their full dot and Mind Flay rotation.

On the topic of AE, some specs have some fairly interesting AE rotations, such as Fire mages (Flame Orb, Flamestrike, Combustion, Living Bomb) and Survival hunters (Serpent Spread, Explosive Trap and Multi-Shot). Other specs have really simple rotations, such as channeling a targeted spell over and over. Boring. Going forward, we’re going to make more of an effort to make sure everyone has a reasonable AE rotation that at least involves more than one button. Part of the reason we don’t want groups just AE’ing down everything in dungeons that they don’t yet overgear is because we think the gameplay is less compelling. Adding a little more depth than just channeling Blizzard would encourage us to add more situations where AE is the right thing to do.

The Human Factor

Rotations are very different in PvP as well, where uninterrupted time to sit there and do max DPS is in very short supply. On the other hand, all of those situational abilities (crowd control, dispels, cooldowns etc.) are at a premium in PvP and very often have an even bigger effect on the outcome of a fight than the core abilities do. It is tempting, and to be fair sometimes appropriate, to solve class balance problems by handing out new abilities to make a particular class or talent spec more attractive to a team or at least more viable overall.

We can do this sometimes by tweaking existing abilities, but there is also a risk of “kitchen sinking” an ability. If a button does too many things, then you’re sometimes asked to say use an offensive ability for defensive utility or apply a debuff you don’t really want to mess with in order to get an ancillary benefit. We can cut down on potential confusion by giving similar or even identical abilities to multiple classes (now you only need to learn the name, icon and spell effect of one ability instead of a half-dozen), but too much of that risks class homogenization as well.

Because there are so many different scenarios (PvP, AE, quick kill, and long kill), classes end up with a lot of different rotational and situational abilities that you all are asked to manage and master. Your action bars fill up. Now add in potions and other consumables, mounts, trinkets, professions, and a potential host of macros, and your action bars get very full. Designers also feel a lot of pressure to fix neglected abilities rather than cutting them, even though pruning is often the wiser (but unpopular!) solution. An additional complication is that players expect (and rightfully so!) to gain a new ability or two whenever we increase the level cap. Very powerful situational abilities can serve this role, such as Ring of Frost, but players often react more positively when they gain a new rotational ability that changes up their second-to-second play style, like say Colossus Smash or Unleash Elements.

Too Many to Handle?

So when do we cross over from having “enough” cool abilities to “too many” cool abilities? The depth that comes from lots and lots of content can feel cool to a veteran player, but even for them, the intended role and nuance of every ability can become blurred. For the new or returning player, it just becomes incomprehensible.

A warrior who took some time off after Lich King and then came back to Cataclysm recently would have to relearn her rotation. Raging Blow? What’s that about? Yeah, it might be more interesting than just spamming Bloodthirst, Heroic Strike, and Whirlwind (even on single targets) like Fury warriors did in Icecrown Citadel, but it’s also just one more thing to learn. Even if the new rotation itself isn’t all that complicated, the fact that the design changed over time makes it feel more confusing than it really is at any one moment in time.

Also remember, that to be the best that you can be, you need to understand the abilities of every class, not just your own. Yikes. We designers have to be vigilant to keep complexity at a manageable level, not just for veterans who are active on the forums, but for returning players who want to see what changes Cataclysm brought to the game.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He prefers Greek mythology over Roman. Cooler names.

Remote Guild Chat Now on Android, iPhone, and iPod touch
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Remote Guild Chat is now available for Android™ mobile devices, iPhone®, and iPod touch®! The Remote Guild Chat feature lets you stay in touch with your guildmates wherever you go:


  • Read and contribute to your guild’s in-game chat channel in real time

  • Participate in one-on-one conversations with members of your guild

  • View the members of your guild who are currently online

For a limited time, both Android and iPhone/iPod touch users can access the Remote Guild Chat feature without a subscription to World of Warcraft Remote. This free preview is currently available on all North American, European, and Korean World of Warcraft realms.

After the free preview period ends, players will need to have a subscription to World of Warcraft Remote in order to continue using the feature. We'll announce the end of the free preview period in the near future -- keep an eye on the official World of Warcraft website for further details.

To access Remote Guild Chat, players will need to download the free World of Warcraft Remote app for Android (formerly known as the Remote Auction House app) or the free World of Warcraft Mobile Armory app for iPhone and iPod touch.

To learn more about World of Warcraft Remote, which also grants you full access to the Remote Auction House, visit the World of Warcraft Remote page, or go here to subscribe. You can also share feedback on Remote Guild Chat in this thread our Website Feedback forums.

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Update
The Trading Card Game Art Gallery has been updated with 10 new artworks.


This article was originally published in forum thread: Patch 4.1 Bugs and Blue Posts, Scott Mercer Interview, GC - Number of Abilities started by Boubouille View original post
Comments 46 Comments
  1. superbattler's Avatar
    aaaaah patch day...goooood times
  1. FireBorne's Avatar
    More raids to dungeons, great!
  1. Venteus's Avatar
    Today's patch was a fucking disaster.

    Only way I could put it. Get your shit together Blizz.
  1. clickerflipper's Avatar
    Gallery pics bottom row second to last woow stepping on one and the head of another freakin cool
  1. blackangel209's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    Today's patch was a fucking disaster.

    Only way I could put it. Get your shit together Blizz.
    Have you ever been here for major patch days? This is par for the course. I don't get why people seem outraged by it every time. It's technology and code. Shit happens.
  1. Ivirus's Avatar
    10 characters
  1. Ivirus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by blackangel209 View Post
    Shit happens.
    Otherwise, holy bajeebus, a WoW-related painting from Boris Vallejo!? /nerdgasm
  1. blackangel209's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivirus View Post
    Otherwise, holy bajeebus, a WoW-related painting from Boris Vallejo!? /nerdgasm
    I feel really bad that I have no idea what you're talking about...
  1. Venteus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by blackangel209 View Post
    Have you ever been here for major patch days? This is par for the course. I don't get why people seem outraged by it every time. It's technology and code. Shit happens.
    I don't care for what they have made "par" for patch days simply through habit. If entire raid encounters, seemingly untouched by the patch go completely to shit then something needs to be done. If the technology or resources to properly test the content to simulate release traffic does not exist, then something should be to done to create those resources.

    Today was an aggravation, and I'm not content with having that become standard procedure for patch releases.
  1. nnelson54's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    Today's patch was a fucking disaster.

    Only way I could put it. Get your shit together Blizz.
    It is no different than any other major patch on any other major MMORPG ever in the history of mankind. I've been playing MMORPGs since Ultima Online in 1997 and in that time I've played UO, EQ, City of Heroes, Conan, SWG, Asheron's Call, EQ2, DAoC, D&D:O, LotR:O, Rift, EVE and, of course, WoW and it is the same exact story every patch day for any of those games(when they were popular; now that nobody plays any of those games anymore patches might be smoother, I haven't played any of them in a while, other than WoW and Rift). The simple fact is the thousand or so people who log onto the PTR are no match for the millions who play on Live and shit will be broken in ways that a relative few cannot find on the PTR when applied on the scale of Live.
  1. blackangel209's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    I don't care for what they have made "par" for patch days simply through habit. If entire raid encounters, seemingly untouched by the patch go completely to shit then something needs to be done. If the technology or resources to properly test the content to simulate release traffic does not exist, then something should be to done to create those resources.

    Today was an aggravation, and I'm not content with having that become standard procedure for patch releases.
    My god, you never had to wait for anything as a child, did you?
  1. nnelson54's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    Today was an aggravation, and I'm not content with having that become standard procedure for patch releases.
    Then I suggest you stop playing MMORPGs. That is seriously the only way to avoid patch day troubles. They are not going away.
  1. rochedo's Avatar
    New things to explore = Millions of ppl trying to log at same time doing the same thing. Server lags and that make shit happen. Normal...
    If you don't like don't log for a few days.
    And so you know when firelands hit live don't pay that month because queue time will come with lag. All will come to explore it for a few weeks making your experience worse then pre-Patch weeks.
  1. Grizzelbar's Avatar
    Maybe I missed something when ZG was deleted, but it seems to me that "The idea first came up after the launch of 4.0 when we reintroduced 5-player versions of Shadowfang Keep and Deadmines." about recycling ZG isn't right. It was not present in beta already so it's more likely that they decided to delete and add later it after successfully redoing Naxx or Onyxia.
  1. Venteus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by blackangel209 View Post
    My god, you never had to wait for anything as a child, did you?
    This makes little to no sense. If every player "waited" and (i'm assuming you) claim that the issue is the "millions" of players queing for ZG and running raids at the same time causes these bugs, then how would the bugs ever get realized and fixed?

    I personally would have preferred to wait another month on the release of this patch if it meant a smooth release. This just wasn't an enjoyable experience.

    I could care less about other MMOs. I already said I understand they've managed to make this 'standard procedure' for each and every one of you. I'm saying fix it. If it's possible to fix it after the patch is released, it certainly is before the patch is released. If the issue is not having the player base to detect them on the PTR, then create a means to detect them or find a way to avoid screwing up raid phasing or entire unrelated encounters.
  1. Emorium's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    This makes little to no sense. If every player "waited" and (i'm assuming you) claim that the issue is the "millions" of players queing for ZG and running raids at the same time causes these bugs, then how would the bugs ever get realized and fixed?

    I personally would have preferred to wait another month on the release of this patch if it meant a smooth release. This just wasn't an enjoyable experience.

    I could care less about other MMOs. I already said I understand they've managed to make this 'standard procedure' for each and every one of you. I'm saying fix it. If it's possible to fix it after the patch is released, it certainly is before the patch is released. If the issue is not having the player base to detect them on the PTR, then create a means to detect them or find a way to avoid screwing up raid phasing or entire unrelated encounters.
    spoken like a true whiny kid who doesn't know what he's talking about.
  1. Venteus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Emorium View Post
    spoken like a true whiny kid who doesn't know what he's talking about.
    spoken like a true whiny kid who doesn't know what he's talking about.
  1. Durandro's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Venteus View Post
    spoken like a true whiny kid who doesn't know what he's talking about.
    *raises eyebrow*

    The 'No you!' argument died a long time ago.
  1. Awe's Avatar
    ZG and ZA epics are going to help people start Cata raiding? Seriously? Now? We have already access to this raid tier content for 5 months! It is time to release Firelands and not to help people start BoT and BWD. If someone still didnt started those raids they are not raiders. And I didnt cleared heroics raids and I do not plan to since HC level is intended for hardcore guilds and not semi-casual like mine. Stop forcing people into doing something. Release Firelands NOW for all those who waits for it in both normal and HC versions.

    Icecrown patch was live for way to long and made people puke with ICC. With current Blizzard speed I would expect 4.2 to come maybe in July. 8 moths for Bot/BWD? Brilliant. ZA/ZG is not raiding tier. It could be a nice addition as 5-man content to Firelands but not standalone! If some people do not raid BoT/BWD yet it means they either lack will or skill to do so. Same for heroic raids.

    Blizzard overtuned current raid content for all bads and Wrath babies. But instead of teaching them a lesson they do profit from it by delaying new content. Oh look! 75% of our players didnt cleared BWD and BoT yet! Lets slap few more months before next raid goes live and justify that by giving people time to "catch up". No, if people didnt catched up it means they fail. Simple. I'm not in good enough guild to tackle HC raids and I'm fine with that. People who are not good enough for normal raids should accept it as well and move along.
  1. Venteus's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Durandro View Post
    *raises eyebrow*

    The 'No you!' argument died a long time ago.
    Damn, should have used the "You are[*] because I say so" :\

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