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by Published on 2012-09-16 09:50 PM

Demon Hunter 1.0.4 Guide, Diablo Statue, and DPS Calculator for Android

Zone Previews: Krasarang Wilds, Dread Wastes, and Townlong Steppes
As we get closer to Mists of Pandaria, now is a good time to take a look at the new zones. You can find this preview again in the menu at the right side of the navbar. Below are edited videos by BaronSoosdon that adds some eye candy to the zone!









Blue Tweets
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
PvE
Your tidbits about 10/25 don't do the topic justice at this point. Any chance on a more detailed thought in the near future?
Yeah, it would make a good watercooler / coffee article. Good idea.

How will the mounts from Sha of Anger/Galleon work? Will they be random internal roll chances for players like the other loot?
Yes.

Challenge Modes
I'm assuming challenge modes won't be able to be done with a friend on Real ID?
I'm pretty sure you can. Battle Tags too.

Do the Challenge Modes have a lockout? Is it possible to restart a run once the timer has started?
You can reset them if you realized you screwed up.

Are Challenge Modes Heroics with a timer or do they come with increased enemy damage and health etc?
Both. The timer won't be very relevant for Bronze. You just need to finish.

Do challenge modes and heroics have separate lockouts?
Challenge modes have no lockout.
They do reward VP
But so do a lot of things and there is a VP cap.

Do you expect players to be able to jump into challenge modes in blues? or will set-bonuses make that non-viable?
Challenge modes are harder than level 90 heroic dungeons and we don't scale gear upwards. Set bonuses also are disabled.

How will trinkets work in challenge mode? Are there a few that will be accepted or will they be scaled some how?
For now they all work.

Based on internal and external testing/feedback, which Challenge Mode dungeon appears to be "hardest" at present?
I'd say Brewery. Scarlet Halls is up there too.

LFR
Is the Bag of Gold from LFR in case you win the roll but no loot is available on their loot table or do you get 1 every time?
If you don't win an item, you win gold. All LFR MoP bosses have deep enough loot tables.

So why does LFR exist when it requires little to no effort?
LFR is like a roller coaster. It's not hard but it can be fun.
But it completely removes the purpose of raiding - to see the awesome content. 1.1M drop in subs wasn't just cause of diablo 3
I don't raid just to see the content. I raid to hang out with my friends and strategize to beat the boss. LFR can't do that.

If you're "pushing secondaries", should elixirs be a viable option over flasks?
Have you looked at their stats?

Why do you lie that Raiders don't need LFR when legendaries drop there?
The items that drop in N and H are higher ilevel. RF would at best tide you over a couple of weeks.

Previous Raids / Reasons to Raid / Raid Difficulty
"We took the resources and put them back into FL" Does this mean the official stance on FL is that it was not terrible?
Nope. I was really happy with Firelands.

As we approach MOP and Dragon Soul becomes irrelevant.....will you admit that it's the worst raid to ever be made?
I liked DS. It went on too long as final raids tend to do. There are some things we'd do differently.
I didn't hate DS, and I know we got better since ICC, but DS was also considerably easier and shorter than ICC was.
Not the length of a single raid. The number of months when there was nothing else. The raid itself was probably a little short.
Tell us what you wish you could have done differently other then get MoP out faster
Some new architecture, less teleporting, maybe 1-2 more bosses. Maybe 1-2 more new boss models. More DW in the DW fights. I should add that we are our own harshest critics. That should not be interpreted as we hate the work we do.
People liked the difficulty and the raid when it was fresh and muchness nerfed. The worst raid thing is just boredom
Players drop out of raiding when there is no sense of progression. That can mean too easy or too hard. It's a myth that hard content just inspires people to keep trying. Dedicated players might make 400 attempts. Others just quit.
but simply the fact that the progression through content/gear was interrupted and restarted every patch cycle.
Yeah, when you catch people up too quickly, you do erode the desire to stick with tough challenges. Easier to wait than wipe.
Also, don't nerf Heroics unless you plan to introduce Challenge raids. Heroic-bound raiders don't want it.
Not actually true. Heroic raiders quit when they see no progress after weeks of wiping just like everyone else.
You didn’t Nerf Black Temple or sun well. Pretty sure they are better then any cata raid. Even if they were harder.
They were good raids, but very few players saw them. At the time, things like leveling alts or professions were fun alternatives
(Tweet missing, about leveling alts instead of raiding)
But once you level so many alts, it holds less attraction. Raiding = one of few systems we've come up with that keeps attention. Raids have a good track record for holding player attention so we like letting lots of folks raid.
The top end beats it easily, and the bottom end gets stuck. There has to be something for them to do other than quit.
Exactly.

Bliz likes the idea of more people seeing content because it values the work more.
That's not really it. When players have a lot to do, they want to play. Simple as that. Raids give players a lot to do.
True but you also just confirmed what I said. The strength of BC was the amount of raid content. The present system of raids being obsoleted during their own expansion has caused a dramatic reduction in raid content - and this came about in large part because of the idea of making them more accessible.
I think the strength of BC was it was the first expansion. Making an alt was exciting and new. We didn't need Raid Finder then.
True but why did you need raid finder? What shifted so much in Cata? TBH I believe the benefit 25 mans brought was not realized until most of them went away.
What shifted in Cata was players needed something new to do. For many, raids were something new.

PvP
The guards on PvP realms are already weaker than the guards on PvE realms?
Not sure if that change is live. It is on MoP launch for sure.

Why does the bg downranking feature not work correctly?
You can down rank. We didn't say that would do anything. JK it broke at the last sec. We will fix.

Will you ever do something with the 2v2 bracket, since it's a joke or you'll ignore it becuase its hard to balance it?
We don't ignore it but it is hard to balance. Either you are force to have a healer or you don't. We try to go with the latter.

Will there be a rating decay system implemented into arena for mop to prevent teams sitting on rating? Or something similar?
That's always under discussion. We don't like rewarding people to not play. Rating systems always encourage weird behavior.

Future
Will we see options like brown orcs and wildhammer dwarves when you get around to the model updates?
Discussed a lot. We debate whether you would just pick the skin or whether we need to explain why some of them were now available.

Are we ever going to see changes to the blood elf areas and when will i get to fly through silvermoon city!
Fixing Silvermoon would take much longer than fixing Stormwind for much less impact.

Any chance of an Azjol-Nerub raid at some point? Would love to see more of that beautiful art.
Would love to see that too. (This is in no way an announcement of anything.)

My guild recently cleared vanilla and some BC raids. Thoughts on reusing those encounters? I'm sure it's a catch-22.
Yeah, you have to strike the balance between nostalgia and "rehashed content."

Are we ever going to see Path of the Titans?
Still love the idea, but I want to do it right, not some one off-thing. Needs to be a major feature.

Have you guys ever thought about making currency such as JP account wide? It would mimic the D3 system a bit.
We'd consider letting you transfer some. If it is all account level, you wouldn't need to ever play your alt.

Will we ever be able to transmog Legendaries? The amount of time investment to get some of them, deserves it.
Maybe. We don't want to see everyone running around with Sulf. Common legendaries aren't legendary.

Will there be any new melee animations? Especially DKs. Love to get something like 'slam; with DK flavor.
We would like to add new melee animations. No ETA.

He also seems to avoid Q's about Char slots and if they will ever be more then 11 per server
We just went from 10 to 11. Too soon to know if and when we'll increase it.

Terrible rumors of ICC & Ulduar 25 meta mounts being removed. Can you confirm yes or no?
Pretty sure we didn't touch those mounts.
Wonderful rumors of Naxx 10 & 25 meta mounts being returned. Can you confirm yes or no?
We haven't changed them.

Have the "Charm of Good Fortune" been removed or are they still planned to be released.
Charms are alive and kicking.
Could you clarify about Charms of Good Fortune. Only usable in LFR or usable on normal/heroic mode raid bosses too?
All. Boss dies. You decide whether to use a charm for bonus loot. Normal boss loot is distributed however your group does it.

Off the record, how do you feel about player housing at this point?
We've always said we'd want to do it right and want it to have a purpose. Neither is easy.

Is there any future plans to make tabards hidden? Will make it a lot better imo for transmorg?
So you're declaring your allegiance via a tabard, but don't want anyone to know?

You have often say that you dislike the fact sending mails to your alts. Would realm-wide gold be an option in the future?
Potentially.

Have you considered making the Auction House global to help less populated servers with their often dodgy economy?
Potential downsides are not ever being able to corner the market or even recognize regular sellers. I predict it would be less fun for sellers. Maybe easier for buyers, but easy doesn't always mean more fun.
As a resident of Trollbane EU, I can't help asking if that's worse than not having sellers, regular or otherwise.
Just because A > B, doesn't mean A is the best answer.

Classes
Have the Devs ever considered a series of class based quests that would reward an evolving class/spec weapon?
Yes. But then we have one less loot reward. The Borderlands devs did a great answer for why you can't build your own gun.

Out of curiosity: What mistakes, design and number wise, did you learn from with DKs that you haven't made with Monks?
Long discussion, but one mistake with DKs is we listened to forum community too much and just kept buffing them before launch.
Also, concerning "buffs" for DKs- did you mean number or concept wise? Curious because of how much of the original DK is gone.
Mostly ability mechanics. Lots of concerns about DKs being kitable until they ended up with crazy CC and ranged attacks. Should clarify that I am *not* blaming players for that. It was all my fault.

Are monks as hard to balance as DKs were?
It's less about the balance and more about the design in general. Players have different expectations without years of tradition.

Any chance of making it so hunters cannot roll need on melee weapons? Saw a tanking sword (+parry/strength) ninja'd by hunter.
We need to expand the smarter Raid Finder loot system to dungeons. Dungeons just know hunters can equip swords.

What do you think of hunters' current status on simcraft?
I don't know how accurate the various specs are in simulation craft. Are you comfortable vouching for its accuracy? Sims overall are better used for improving your rotations or making gear choices than for stack ranking all DPS specs.

When will the warlock/hunter pet agro bug & lack of avoidance be fixed? Been bugged since 5.0.4. Hurting raiding/heroics.
Avoidance works fine except for Wild Imps.

Any plan on making wands able to auto-attack without incuring a GCD? Was this even intended when you made the MH switch?
We don't want wands to be the high dps choice. Daggers and staves still need a purpose. Wands have the same stats as daggers etc. We didn't want them to trump other int weapons.

Are you satisfied with the current tanking paradigm? Specifically, DPS matters, threat doesn't, AoE is easy, manage cooldowns.
As a developer, I like it. As a tank, I want threat to matter but I realize that's not fun for everyone else.

Why the 8 second CD on purify-like abilities? Was there really a problem with them having no CD?
They were spammed instead of being used reactively.

Are you 100% happy with the talent system? Seems some classes have a lot of underwhelming talents while others seem amazing great
Pretty happy, yes. We still see a lot of "X is useless," but we also see a lot of knowledgeable players using them.

When you talk about choices on the forum, what do you mean when you say "interesting choice?"
An "interesting" choice is one without a clearly superior answer. Choosing between 5% haste and 10% haste is not interesting.

I keep asking #monk questions, and no answers! WHY!
Because the answers take more characters than twitter offers.
There are questions all over the beta class forums that are not getting answered either
Believe it or not, my job is not to answer questions. I try to get to them when I can.

Why did you nerf warrior healing by 33.33% when warrior healing is pathetic in comparison to ret and hybrid healing?
Paladins have better heals. Warriors have better movement. Apples to oranges. Compare classes, not abilities IMO.
Apples to oranges? My expectation of your response wasn't high to begin with but I'm very disappointed.
Why? Do you think all classes should have the same amount of self-healing? I'm legitimately curious.
You have a problem
I disagree. It's only a problem if the situation you describe means that the paladin is generally better in PvP.

Does that mean SW is 2%/sec officially? Last I heard you were likely to reverse. No big deal - still works fine - but curious.
SW is 3%. The current healing debuff makes it 2%. Hopefully no debuff at 90. If so, we might need special handling for SW.

Any chance spell plate will be eliminated or more specs will use it?
Would love to get rid of it, but we don't like any of the obvious solutions. Please Twitter don't spam me with obvious solutions.

Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Why did you remove Hungering cold from Death knights?
We couldn't balance HC without a cast time, and the cast time felt terrible to a lot of DKs.

What do you have against DW tanking? Miss that on my DK and was hoping it would make a comeback with Monks
Just bandwidth. We went from 3 DK tank specs to 1 because we were spending so much time balancing DKs.

Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Can you give hunters any sign for quivers ? We would be happy to hear anything about that.
Quivers have been something we have discussed with the character art team for years. Would love to do it. No ETA.
Blizz Dev team said we will get quivers @ blizzcon.why not bring back the quivers which are in since the first day of WoW?
When we removed the bag we lost the ability to display them. We can fix that (and want to) but it's not simple.

I apologize for being annoying but do you not have any info from my question this morning? Throwning weapons never to return?
Unlikely. Throwing weapons aren't handled well by the engine for hunters.

Could you please give us hunters Volley back?
Can you explain how Volley was fun? Channel, snooze, repeat.
Does an ability have to be fun in order to stay in the game?
Ideally, yes. Volley was designed in an era when AE was for Strat rats. Now AE is common and we like to keep you awake.

You noted the rogue spec flavors. Thoughts on hunter spec flavors? Beast guy, Military sniper, Feral woodsman?
Hunters harder. MM and BM emphasize guns or bears, but we've never quite nailed a kit for SV. Currently tricks and traps.

Can BM Hunters be viable tanks? Will we be able to queue LFD as a tank ever?
Would take massive changes to convert a DPS spec to a tank AND be fair to current tanks. Not every BM or Demo wants to be a tank.

Monk (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Could you please talk to the ww monks regarding FoF rooting us in a raid setting?
Not sure what there is to say. We like it. Some forum posters don't.

Would it be possible to get some of the numerous class based questions from ama answered such as the monk ones
We can consider it. It's very easy for class Qs to just be arguments. "I don't like X. Are you going to change it?"

Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Paladins already lost the stam buff that you guys just gave us last week?
Don't think so...

I keep seeing holy pallys topping both dps and heals in bgs as ret it irks me is this intentional or will be fixed?
We hotfixed Holy Shock damage. Need to look at Denounce too.

WoG's proc of divine purpose is extremely high,even cast with 1HP,a macro is made to proc DP then use more WoG or SoR. A bug?
I think there is a bug where WoG can roll for the proc twice.

Currently, WoG with no CD and Bastion of Glory is awesome. But are you going to end up putting CD on it again like 4.0 to 4.1?
No, because all tanks have active mitigation now. The problem before was it would have been a huge buff to paladins alone.

If you don't mind my asking, what was the rationale behind making Consecration prot-only? Was such an iconic 'Paladin' move.
We didn't think Ret had room for it with the shorter cooldowns on J and CS. Ideally, we want 4-5 abilities in rotation.

The recent hotfix to Divine Purpose, does this mean it can no longer proc off itself?
We'll make a forum post on Divine Purpose. It's complicated.

Using free week of WoW. Tanked on Paladin after 1.5 years. Why go back to the clunky rotation from Cata beta? 3sec CS HotR ftw
3 sec CS means every other attack must be a CS. The new rotation gives you more flexibility (and TBH has been more popular).

Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
What is your response to people saying that rogues "weren't updated as much as other classes in MoP"?
Our goal isn't to change for the sake of it. We improved poisons and tried to distinguish rotations.

How do you see WoW's rogue? Assassin, Swashbuckler, Thief, Dirty Fighter, or all of the above?
We try to cover those archetypes with the different rogue specs: poisoner, sneaky guy, duelist.

Shaman (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Why does it feel like you guys ignored shaman and gutted the class? Nothing Synergizes, currently low low dps. Furthering the point: they actually do less things than they did before.
Players always tell us we ignore *their* class. In what circumstances (85, 90, PvP) is your dps low? You mean stuff like losing Strength of Earth and gaining Capacitor? What specifically do you miss?

What happened to cool shaman totems like repulsion totem? did they just not work or did you just not love shamans anymore?
Repulsion specifically had too many tech issues. It would have been easy for other players to cheat.

Elemental fury doesn't work on such magic damage like enchanting or trinkets
Ele Fury modifies spells by school, so it won't apply to effects that aren't shaman spells.

That make the 4pt14 useless for us ( Tidal Waves always up )
We think this is a fair concern. We'd consider changing the set bonus slightly - still Tidal Waves but in a different way.

Have you considered removing SLT? It's pretty clear many dps shaman hate being balanced to a totem and other players actions.
We like Spirit Link Totem and don't balance Elemental damage around its utility.

Warrior (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
What are your thoughts on Crit > STR for Warriors in stat weight values as Arms & Fury, were the #'s balanced around this?
You rarely choose Str vs. crit for gear except for gems, and we're pushing the secondaries a lot anyway in MoP.

Misc
I think you focus too much PvE balance on raids & numbers and overlook the rest.
We balance for raids and PvP because that's where tuning matters the most. We design for ALL aspects of the game though.

Do you plan raids to be completed in an amount of time or is that not a factor to consider?
How many hours for one run or how many weeks the content lasts?

Any attention going to be given to low-level dungeons? These need to be a learning experience again, rather than "gogogo."
Not sure I agree. When low level dungeons are hard, folks just skip them, because we can't make the loot motivating enough.

Any idea what the plan is before raids in MoP will be Real ID friendly?
Will likely be that you can do previous tier cross realm. You can do DS now. When 2nd MoP tier comes out, you can do 1st.
Would you be able to clarify on Cross Realm Raids - We'll not be able to use it for ''current'' content?
Correct. You can do it for current tier -1. I did it last night with a friends's guild. Very cool.
After CRZ release do we have any chance to get RealID raids for actual content?
Let's see how it goes. Cross realm is cool but so is having an actual guild on your realm.

World
Will cross-realm zones be active in Pandaria zones on release? I feel like this could mess with realm first achievements.
No, they will not.
Will we be able to quest with friends cross realm in Pandaria as soon as it comes out?
Yes, assuming you mean Real ID or Battle Tag friends. I think playing with friends is one of the big sleeper features for MoP.

Quick Q about CRZ...is it intended for people on diff server types (PVE/PVP) to be able to quest with one another? Or a bug?
If you invite them, they can join your realm. You should never be merged PvP to PvE or RP at random. Inviting the PvP players to a PvE realm doesn't let them gank you.

Any ETA on that post that was mentioned during the AMA re: CRZ? lotsa vague references to "misinformation" but nothing yet
Still coming AFAIK.

Will Pandarens, more specifically monks be able to group with other races before lvl 10 as they have no faction until then?
There are no other races on the Wandering Isle. You can group with other (non-aligned) pandaren if you'd like.

Character
Why can't you ignore players on other realms?
We will get ignore and report working ASAP. /who is tougher but we want to get that eventually too.

Hey GC, can we please have a "Every Woman for Herself" racial on Human Females? It's so weird to click it as "Himself"
TBH it bugs me too.

Any Reason Why "Blue Banner" Achievements don't credit their points to other characters? - seems wrong
Those are account level achievements. Your whole account should get them and the points.
In which case I'd expect to see a new character start with a total above 0 in the guild roster listing - right?
Might need to log in with each character to get the achievement points totaled correctly. But yes. Guild UI may not be updated.
Lovin the 5.x changes. Achieves account-wide = awesome BUT in guild panel it shows indiv toon points. Will you fix?
Yeah, we just overlooked that.

Any plans to make classic PvP titles and transmog account wide?
Not at the current time no.

You mentioned the other day that you'll be able to get multiple legendary gems. Is that a long process? Or should players hold off on slotting the gem if they think they're going to get the next version soon (e.g. a couple weeks)?
It was in the AMA. Think of it like a faction, with the gems at revered or whatever.
Will the legendary gem quest be for every raider in the raid, at same time?
Yes. We didn't want the politics and competition. Trying not to spoil it all.

When are you guys gonna repair the pet journal bug so I only have 1 copy of the pet?
Not a bug. You can sell the others. Seemed mean to delete pets if someone had them on each character.

Will we have to re-log at midnight for MOP launch to start getting XP?
The plan is no. /crosses fingers.

Professions
Have you looked at profession leveling. With leveling improvements it now takes a dedicated grind to keep a profession up
Check out Cooking and Inscription in MoP. Those are examples of ways we can improve catch up for all professions.

Misc
Did opening up the beta to (I'm assuming) so many more people help you guys or was it just to give people a preview of MoP?
No, it helped. Beta is not just about player feedback but also about what we observe with so many players playing.
Was patch 5.0.4 kind of an open beta for MoP?
We do like to have a few weeks to catch systems issues before the new content appears. Like a "soft opening" for a restaurant.

What's the official pronunciation: PAN-da-ren? pan-DAR-en? pan-DARE-en? Ditto for the continent name
We use pan-DARE-en and pan-DARE-ee-a (as I said before, like "bacteria").

How can you be proud of the way the armor looks in MoP? the armor looks like crap, hire a new art team already
Are you suggesting art is subjective?!

Was Ulduar always meant to host yogg saron?
IIRC he was originally in the Azjol raid. Ulduar merged with it. I might be misremembering.
If Yogg wasn't originally meant to be the end boss of Ulduar, who was?
Could have been Loken, or the four, or maybe we just hadn't gotten there yet. Really cant remember too well.

Sargeras coming back in a Kael'thas fashion. Emerald dream was cut with a the book. Any hints? is Sargeras lurking, biding?
Sargeras is out there. Burning Legion grows in strength. While Azeroth is focused on war, some already look ahead to that fight.

As a team, how do you decide how to balance change for people who hate change and people who thrive on it?
We debate that a lot. One way is to have some classes not change much.

Have you considered doing detailed feedback/discussion sessions with players about particular specs or one class at a time?
Problem is it builds up so much expectation. Whoever is last has to wait months, which then easily leads to disappointment.

Please note that my QQ comes from love of my class, not hatred of the game
Player passion is a good problem for developers to have.
You've taken a ridiculous amount of abuse over the years. Do you sometimes wonder "why do I bother?"
No. I love my job. Having passionate players is a privilege not a burden.

The best thing about having you on twitter is the eu fan base can finally interact with you.
Agree!

Will Blizz ever make Naga a playable race? Is the whole naga riding mounts the reason why they havent yet?
It's hard to fit legs or boots on naga...

Will the date for the SoR change any time soon?
I haven't tweeted about SoR or RaF because I don't want to get the details wrong off the top of my head. Not trying to ignore anyone. Some tweets are areas outside my realm of expertise or I feel have been beat to death in forums.

Could we please get a search bar for mount page similar to the one on the companion page? Would be brilliant.
Yeah we need one.

Is there a specific design philosophy behind vanity items/toys being short lived with long cooldowns?
In general, they can have big visuals which are annoying (and maybe less special) if spammed.

I know this is very subjective... but can you please explain what makes RNG fun? It's seems so much more frustrating than fun.
RNG is a barrier for players to overcome. I often describe it as the curves that make a racing game interesting.

Do you plan on reviving the mystery of WoW? Still remember getting no mans land in hyjal and thinking "what will it be?
Players are so good at documenting and data-mining everything now that it is certainly a challenge to maintain mystery.

Am I going to have to play FarmVille to get Tillers rep?
We'd prefer you play World of Warcraft to get Tillers rep.

Personal
Do you visit MMO-Champion and if so do you troll people on there.
I visit most active WoW sites and forums. I never post as a normal dude.

How much time do you (and the others) spend on trawling other sites (e.g. EJ and maintankadin) for opinions with higher STNR?
A lot. We find players are more honest outside of our own forums.

Have you ever played Wow on a public server with players who didn't know it was Ghostcrawler they were playing with?
Yes. Without sounding vain, it's funny when they quote me to me.
Is it funny when they misquote you, and you can instantly correct them?
No, I ususally say "He sounds like a clueless jerk."

Do you like being the face of blizzard to players?
Honestly, no, just because it doesn't give enough credit to all of the other people that pour their souls into the game.

Do you plan on remaining active (ie posting stuff) on the forums after MoP goes live?
Unlikely. I can't give the forums the amount of attention players seem to need. Too much "You're ignoring my class" or "You answered the wrong thread.
While we can't replace Ghostcrawler the community team will still be there and will keep relaying his wisdom.
Can't stress what Neth says enough.

Good to see ya on the tweets. Love how your to the point and say how you see it. Question whats your fav expantion.
Have a soft spot for BC because I was just one of the guys at a midnight launch standing in line.

I've found this "Twitter" challenges my verbosity. Does it suck seeing great questions and not having room to reply?
Yes, but it is liberating in a way too. Players have no expectations of gigantic answers to every bullet.

You've said a thick skin is necessary, but do you ever get tired of the conspiracy theories? (like the current 'plays mage')
I'd say the annoying ones are the ones that persist, almost to the urban legend degree (e.g. BK dictating class design).

Just curious but when did you get employed by Blizzard?
I started on Sunwell.

If you mind elaborating, what's your definition of "casual"? has it to do with regularity or quantity of playing time?
It's not a great term. It's hard to play WoW a lot and not become hardcore to some degree. By "casual raiders" I usually mean folks who might raid only a couple of hours a week or regularly skip a lot of weeks. It's fine if they don't progress as fast as 3 night a week raiders, but they do need to progress (or they stop playing).

What is your favorite mount? You can pick one land and one flying!
I'm partial to the nether rays. For ground, I might say the Grand Expedition Yak, because I worked on it a lot.

I know you have a personal vendetta against warriors but please dont nerf them... Nerf something op like a mage
I find that arbitrarily nerfing classes I personally don't like is good for the longevity of the game. I actually don't. It's just easier for the internet to explain things they don't like that way. I know I sound like an ass, but don't you think I'd lose my job if I designed solely for my own classes? It's not logical.

Just out of curiosity, what classes you personally don't like?
If history is any indication, whichever one you are playing.

I certainly noticed in the class Q&A @ Blizzcon that one dev answered the DK and Druid Qs, others for other classes etc
It's hard for every designer to play every class equally, but we all contribute to design. It's a group effort.
That explains why GC answered the mage questions
I don't play mage.

What is your favorite piece of pandaria lore/storyline? Did anything suprise you as you tested the expansion?
I really liked the Emperor Shouhou story Kosak came up with. Feels a lot like mythology in a good way. Surprise. Hmm. Maybe that Lili was fun to have around when she could have been annoying. Oh and for a time Snowblossom was probably unbeatable. We called her the Destoyer of Men.

What is your dream race/class combo that currently doesn't exist in the game? (Either because it's not allowed or not in game)
Dwarf lock and druid troll were my dream, and we got them in. Pandaren & Blood Elf druid and gnome hunter & pal are most common requests. BE druid doesn't make sense from lore. It makes sense from Horde players who want a pretty druid. (Not judging.)

If you could play any race in WoW lore, what would it be? Why?
I've always been partial to orcs. Also liked the nelfs when they were fierce.

From a design perspective what has been your favorite raid boss encounter?
Design: Mimiron. To tank: Deathwhisper (or maybe Razorgore). To heal: Chimaeron. To DPS: New Rag.
Not sure I agree with either Deathwhisper or Razergore being fun to tank. Alys and Nef were better imo.
I meant the adds on both those fights if it wasn't obvious.

I used to really dislike you but your tweetreplies over the last couple of days made me reconsider. (and I even play a warrior)
Twitter is probably a better reflection of one's personality than forum posts.

I used to think you thought of your job as work. But reading your tweets makes it look like you really love it.
Yes, I do. It's not always an easy job, but I am very fortunate to have one I love.

Does it bother you that most people's frustrations with WoW involves self induced burnout?
Actually a little. I can understand them getting burned out but I wish they recognized that.

Here's a non-typical question: If you could make a perfect costume for your favorite character at Blizzcon, what would you be?
Sha of Fear.

How do you deal with all the negativity?
Gin.

How about some hard hitting questions then. Tea or Coffee when working? (Or something different altogether?)
I drink an unhealthy amount of coffee.

A shot for each negative comment you get. Take one that negates the 1st shot for every positive comment you get: how drunk?
I'd be dead.

Many Chinese players don't like you, one even said would kill you if he went to US. So how do you get thru these harsh words?
I meet with Chinese players at China Joy. They are always excited and gracious. So I don't know what the concerns are you mention.
Not always. From where I came, is a large Chinese WoW based forum. People there just blame everything they don't like on you.
Well, that's fair, but I need to know what they don't like in order to have a chance to fix it.
Shall we retranslate Chinese players' comments back to you? Some of them are pretty insulting.
Insults aren't helpful. Concerns they have that we can address are.

Do you guys get angry about that sort of criticism?
It's hard for us to get angry when the criticism has the goal of improving the game.

Greg, as you worked on RTS design before, any role on SC2 so far for you? Testing or advising?
I do a SC2 strike team too (see answer about D3). Not sure those guys need my advice.

Hey GC, what kind of college courses would you recommend for someone planning on becoming a video game developer/designer?
Depends a lot on whether you're looking at art, code or design. There are a few design schools, but almost any major will work.

How did you transition from your PhD to game design? Am a social sci doctor (PsyD) who wants to career change but how to start?
I read a lot about the industry and what studios were hiring. The trick is to make yourself stand out and networking trumps all.

Behind the Design of Mists of Pandaria
If the tweets aren't enough for you, The Escapist has a nice interview with Ghostcrawler about the thought process behind different aspects of the Mists of Pandaria design.



Curse Weekly Roundup
Pico brings us the weekly gaming news including: the November 18th launch of the WiiU, Guild Wars 2 sells 2 million copies, Steam Greenlight project is a go, Minecraft XBox 360 updates, Terraria comes to XBLA and PSN, and finally new NVIDIA GPUs have arrived!

by Published on 2012-09-15 06:34 AM

Scheduled Maintenance, Puzzle Ring - So Many Goblins, Build Diversity & Skill Hotswapping, Poll

Patch 5.0.5 Hotfixes - September 14
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Here you'll find a list of hotfixes that address various issues related to the recently released World of Warcraft patch 5.0.5. Hotfixes are updates we make on our end without requiring you to download a new patch. Some of the hotfixes below went live the moment they were implemented, while others may require your realm to be restarted to go into effect. Please keep in mind that some issues cannot be addressed without a client-side patch update. We will continue to update this list in the days to come as additional hotfixes are applied.

General
  • Talents can no longer be removed if they are currently on cooldown.

Classes

Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Druids under the effect of Dash no longer gain the Stampeding Roar buff from other Druids.
  • Eclipse should no longer provide bonus damage after it fades.

Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • The Devilsaur Hunter pet ability Terrifying Roar should no longer apply to player pets or guardians.

Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Pyroblast and Combustion should combine to do the expected amount of damage and critical damage.
  • The initial damage of Combustion is now properly affected by Shatter, increasing its crit chance accordingly.
  • Cauterize can now only absorb up to twice the mages's maximum health.
  • Glyphed Inferno Blast should properly apply the Pyromaniac debuff.

Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Holy Paladins should now get the intended 15% bonus to spell hit.

Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Shadow Word: Pain should now interrupt flag captures and other similar processes with its initial damage (but not it's periodic damage over time).

Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Crimson Tempest should now stack correctly with Sanguinary Veins and Mastery: Executioner.
  • Cheat Death can now only absorb up to twice the rogue's maximum health.

Warlock (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Shadowburn should always return a Burning Ember when it instantly kills the warlock's target.
  • Soul Leech now causes Fel Flame to heal the Warlock for 10% of damage dealt in all three specs.
  • Fel Armor now increases Warlock's health by 10%.

Dungeons and Raids
Scholomance

Items
  • The level requirement for use of a number of elixirs has been fixed.

Quests
  • Players are now able to complete the quest Mimicking Nature's Call by using the Carved Horn near the frozen waterfall in Howling Fjord.
  • The quest objective for Call of Duty should again require that players "Ride the mercenary ship to Vashj'ir".

Bug Fixes
  • Level 10 characters logging into patch 5.0.5 for the first time will now learn Control Pet and Control Demon properly.
  • Death Knights advanced via a scroll of resurrection should now receive all level appropriate abilities including Death Gate and the two unique mounts: the Deathcharger and the Winged Steed.
  • In the Gilneas starting area, Lady Sylvanas' health has been returned to normal.

Vale of Eternal Blossoms Zone Preview
As we get closer to Mists of Pandaria, now is a good time to take a look at the new zones. You can find this preview again in the menu at the right side of the navbar. Below is an edited video by BaronSoosdon that adds some eye candy to the zone, let us know what you think!





Kun-Lai Summit Zone Preview
As we get closer to Mists of Pandaria, now is a good time to take a look at the new zones. You can find this preview again in the menu at the right side of the navbar. Below is an edited video by BaronSoosdon that adds some eye candy to the zone, let us know what you think!





EU Community Q&A
Blizzard sent out answers to a number of questions to the EU fansites, and you can find the full list on WoWSource. We have selected some of the more interesting questions below.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Q: Do you plan to implement more new functions in the BG UI, like tag as team button, categorize BGs by type (CTF, Payload, Murder Ball, etc.) to make BGs even easier to get into for MoP?
A: No current plans to adjust any of the Battleground UI features.

Q: What are you doing in order to try and ensure that players no longer play for a short while at the start of a season and then sit on their ratings to get gladiator? This causes issues because there are quite often very few players playing at higher ratings because of this and it creates a repetitive experience of fighting the same teams constantly.
A: It's really difficult to measure this type of thing right now, but we don't ordinarily see large numbers of players making a habit out of achieving a rating and sitting there successfully without playing.

Q: Ever since the transmogrification feature has been added to the game, players seem to be more concerned with their character’s appearance. Since so many tabards give such good buffs, players feel “obligated” to use them, even if it ruins their character’s look. Having said that, do you have any plans for adding an interface option to “Hide Tabard”?
A: The reason we haven't allowed tabards to be hidden is because the very idea of a tabard is to allow the wearer to proudly display the faction or guild they're representing. With that being said, we know that tying bonuses to tabards creates the feeling of a mandate to wear some of them. We're fixing this in Mists by removing the whole concept of tabards providing reputation bonuses. Reputation and factions work a bit differently than those in past expansions. Beyond tabards which provide reputation bonuses, there aren't really any other tabards players should feel obligated to wear for an extended period.

Q: Does the current account-wide achievement/mounts/pets tech allow you to also have account-wide attunements if desired in the future? (Although we don’t have attunement questlines anymore).
A: We don't have any plans to bring attunements back, nor is there any intention to somehow share quests across characters. There are points where we have to draw the line and say "this is something you have to earn at the character level." We don't want to pull too much meaning from the act of rolling alts.

Q: Looking back, are you happy with the moment at which the debuff was introduced in Dragon Soul? (Some players feel it happened too early.)
A: Yes, we're happy with the point at which the debuff was introduced. The timing of each nerf was completely data-driven. As we see participation and progress start to flatline across the board due to raid groups hitting "brick walls" on particular bosses, we introduce a nerf to encourage them to come back and keep trying. Each time we do this we see Dragon Soul participation increase exponentially compared to previous weeks.

The most advanced raiders who can work through a single progression block for weeks a time, or who aren't stopped by such blocks for very long, will probably never see eye to eye with us on these nerfs. They perceive it as nerfs to content that's already doable. But as we've said in the past, it's not reasonable to ask the majority of casual riders who'd like to progress through normal (and maybe some Heroic) to wipe on the same boss for weeks or months at a time without giving up. It's better for the overall community for us to make goals feel more attainable over time before they become discouraged and stop playing, particularly during long content lulls like the one between Dragon Soul and Mists of Pandaria.

Q: Players on low population realms are very concerned that the cross realm zones won’t alleviate their troubles. They point out that the cities will still feel empty and the economy will not be improved, and they do not see that guild recruitment will become any easier. Do you have any plans to address these concerns?
A: We recognize that the cross-realm zone feature won't solve all population and balance issues. With that said, we're anxious to see what effects it does have, and we'll be monitoring realm population and faction balance very carefully.

Q: What's the reasoning behind removing the Auction House from Pandaria?
A: Firstly, we want to ensure our servers are stable. The Pandaria hub will be a very crowded area. Ultimately, we think the model for TBC and WotLK worked okay, so we don't foresee any major issues with requiring players to return to capital cities to use the AH. This also helps keep the capitals from being ghost towns.

Q: With cross-realm questing coming in MoP, will elite quests be re-introduced?
A: No, we don't have plans to bring back elite or group quests in Pandaria zones. Scenarios are designed to somewhat replace the need for those quests, while also providing a matchmaking, cross-realm option to solve the problem of players not being able to find groups for elite quests if they miss the initial game release leveling rush.

Q: Many raiders ask for more recognition (feats of strength, achievements, cosmetic rewards, pets, mounts, titles, etc.) for completing dungeons before debuffs are enabled. Have you given this anymore consideration for Mists?
A: Yes, this is what the new "Cutting Edge" feat of strength is intended to accomplish. This feat of strength will only be obtainable when players complete the content before any debuffs are introduced to nerf the content, or before the next raid tier becomes available. We'll see how it goes, but the idea is to stick with this type of reward structure for future raid tiers.

Q: Can you elaborate on how the raid progression (gear-wise) will look in Mists of Pandaria? Some players wonder if having LFR right from the start means we might see a progression system that requires players to start on Tier 14 and progress from there, or if there’ll be new heroics and gear that will allow players to bypass older raid tiers, as in Cataclysm and Wrath of the Lich King.
A: Each new LFR tier will have an increased minimum ilevel requirement, so there will be sort of a natural progression path there further in the lifespan of the expansion. Players will conceivably run Heroic dungeons to gear up enough to hit the minimum ilevel for the first tier of LFR, then collect enough gear to be eligible for the second tier of LFR, and so on. That said, it won't be mandatory for every player to progress this way, particularly if they run normal or Heroic raids. We're not yet ready to talk about the potential for additional Heroic 5-player dungeons with higher ilevel requirements coming in future Mists patches.

Q: Players with heirlooms in low level BGs can, quite frankly, trounce anyone in questing gear, and this is highly frustrating for new players and those who don’t have heirlooms. Seeing that ‘twinks’ were moved to their own BG queues for also having a massively unfair advantage over regularly geared players, are you considering doing something about this situation too?
A: Heirloom gear is basically the equivalent of rare-quality items at any given level. It doesn't feel right to nerf them somehow in PvP when people can run low-level dungeons for similar gear. Players competing with heirloom gear in Battlegrounds will still continue to gain experience if they don't branch off into the "twink" queue.

Q: From a lore aspect, how do you feel the three dragon soul dungeons turned out? Some players were surprised to see Benedictus’ story play out the way it did as no one really anticipated seeing that twist.
A: We originally wanted more story hooks to really highlight Benedictus's betrayal. Unfortunately, we didn't end up having the time to build his character out as much as we had hoped.

Q: In BC, 5-man dungeons were replete with missions that appeared to be heavily lore-centric; this was not felt too much with Cataclysm. Is there anything in the pipeline to add more lore-based and engaging content in regular dungeons for current or future content?
A: We don't feel like dungeon quests really served the purpose they were meant to. They didn't really help advance the story and sometimes just added an unnecessary feeling of gating. These days we try to do a better job of telling the story of various dungeons by nicely tying the lore to the zones in which the dungeons reside. A great example of this in Mists of Pandaria is the quests in Valley of the Four Winds really paving the way for what's happening in Stormstout Brewery.

Q: Can you explain our stance on the difficulty of the leveling experience? Many players, having been around for some time, feel that low-level content is too easy beyond level 20 and should increase in difficulty over time (they cite lack of elite packs, no more group quests, gear optimization, etc).
A: We agree that the low-level experience is a little too easy at times. We wanted to make sure we weren't scaring new players off, but we don't want to bore people either. There needs to be some fear of death. We've been going through and working to increase spawn points and try to make the world feel more dangerous in certain places (particularly 1-20). We don't want to make it frustrating, but people should notice in the 85-90 zones that much more attention needs to be paid to how their characters are positioned, what other creatures are around them, how many creatures they can take on at once, how creature pathing could put them in harm's way, etc.

Q: Some players had great experiences with things such as the Chess Event in Karazhan and the Ulduar Siege encounter in Wrath patch 3.1. Are there any plans to add additional interactive encounters such as these in future raids?
A: Whenever it makes sense we'll certainly try to do more unique events like these. They're a lot of work, but they're definitely a lot of fun too. The chess event, for example, was an idea one developer worked through on his own time and had a decent mock-up ready to present to the dungeon encounter team. He saw it through and it was awesome, so we added it to the game.

Q: Regarding LFR, is it your intention to make LFR completely uninteresting for hardcore raiders so that they don’t ever want to go there with their main characters? Some people dislike the idea of having to go through LFR to get some upgrades and claim that even if the chance of getting and upgrading gear is smaller than before, most guilds will always go there if there is any chance at all of getting the slightest competitive advantage from it.
A: While we would prefer that LFR not be part of the progression path for people who are doing the content on normal/Heroic with organized guilds, we understand that competitive raiders will take every possible advantage, and that when everyone is starting in dungeon blues, they will take any possible upgrade they can get. We’ve made adjustments to the loot system that curb some of the more onerous practices (i.e. doing a dozen guild runs to optimize LFR loot allocation). We’ll structure the power level of future tiers’ LFR loot so that it doesn’t replace Heroic gear from the prior raid, and we’re continuing to discuss other solutions internally to limit the pressure for competitive raiders to run LFR. That said, there are some positive community effects when groups of guildmates hop into the LFR queue, and are able to lead and share knowledge about the encounters with the core LFR audience.

Q: When will we update the Zergling Leash model to get it more in-line with the HotS models?
A: We have no plans at this time. It’s not a simple model port from game to game.

Q: People would like to see more ways to teach other players how to become better at PvP, especially in the battlegrounds. Many people feel that game really needs more tutorial systems and tooltips that could help newcomers or "weak/unskilled" become better players. What are your thoughts on this, and is it something you would consider for the game?
A: We want to make an effort to make BGs easier to learn. At some point we want to do Dungeon Journal-type entries that explain the lore and basic strategies of each map. Eventually we’d like to elaborate on that by having fly-through videos that demo what each BG is all about. We might do more queue separation as well based on gear quality, if we can avoid inflating wait times.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Stormstout Brewery Challenge Mode Event
The barrels are bugged and we're working on a hotfix for them.

In general, in Challenge modes we try to remove randomness, because we don't want external factors to have an undue influence on completion time, and we definitely don't ever want people to be 80% of the way through a clear and say, "Oh, the boss spawned with the wrong set of abilities, reset and try again."

On Normal and Heroic, Yan-Zhu picks three random abilities out of a possible six. On Challenge mode, we've pre-selected the same set of three abilities every time.

Similarly, in Mogu'shan Palace, the Trial of the King encounter normally randomizes the order of the bosses, and Raigonn in Gate of the Setting Sun randomizes the order of the adds he summons, but in Challenge mode those are all set to specific orders. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Theramore Scenario Item Level Requirement
Thank you for giving us some much needed answers Neth!!! Appreciate it!
I just went back to verify this further to make sure I wasn't giving incorrect information. (Sorry for the confusion folks.) There is also an item level that goes with it. At level 85 Theramore's Fall is set to item level 353. At level 90 the item level is currently set for 425.

If you're not at the correct item level for the level 85 scenario when it goes live, you still have some time before it releases (Sept. 18) and it will be running for a week at that level before it goes to level 90. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Challenge Mode Stats Normalization
The explanation can get a bit technical, but basically no, you don't need a separate set of gear for challenge modes.

When your gear is scaled down, we keep your hit and expertise % the same, and if needed, subtract extra from your other ratings while keeping their proportions the same. It's also worth noting that we've added 1 level to every enemy in challenge mode dungeons, so that the bosses are 93 instead of 92.

These numbers aren't accurate, but just to illustrate how it'll work: If you have 15% hit, 10% crit, 10% haste, and 10% mastery, and your gear needs to be scaled down by 20% to reach the normalization threshold, normally you might expect your stats to go down to 12% hit, 8% crit, 8% haste and 8% mastery. Instead you'll end up at 15% hit, 7% crit, 7% haste, and 7% mastery. (I know that not all stats require the same ratings so this isn't precise, but hopefully you get the idea.)

Now, I did lie a little bit: If you're very precisely trying to hit some haste breakpoints for your spec, you may end up wanting to keep a separate set of challenge mode gear, but that's the sort of behavior we expect from people who already have Gold and are trying to improve their time by a second or two for realm/region leaderboard bragging rights. But the impact of a stat point or two here or there is going to be trivial compared to basic things like how your group handles patrols, how much or little crowd control you choose to use, and so forth. If you think back to something like the original Zul'Aman bear run, success or failure was never a matter of having 1% extra crit or not; it was more typically a product of whether you let that scout make it to the drums, or whether you got too reckless and wiped to one of the bosses. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Healing Balance
Hello my fellow life menders and givers,

Most of the tuning that has been done so far has been focused on level 90, that's why sometimes we may see a few abilities that are clearly too good at lower levels. (Holy Shock comes to mind, and this one has already been hotfixed).
We’re not focusing our efforts in balancing abilities prior to Mists, the most important thing right now is that we get everything tuned correctly for the new MoP content and particularly for level 90. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

D3 Poll: Should Skill Swapping Reset NV Buff?
If you need some context, take a look at this blue post!


TCG Art
Blizzard has updated the Trading Card Game art gallery to feature ten new pieces.


by Published on 2012-09-14 07:53 AM

Paragon Levels Now on Character Profiles, Blue Posts, Battle.net SMS Protect: Have You Heard?, The Voices of Diablo III, Part One

Valley of the Four Winds Zone Preview
As we get closer to Mists of Pandaria, now is a good time to take a look at the new zones. You can find this preview again in the menu at the right side of the navbar. Below is an edited video by BaronSoosdon that adds some eye candy to the zone, let us know what you think!





Jade Forest Zone Preview
As we get closer to Mists of Pandaria, now is a good time to take a look at the new zones. You can find this preview again in the menu at the right side of the navbar. Below is an edited video by BaronSoosdon that adds some eye candy to the zone, let us know what you think!





Now Testing Stormstout Brewery Challenge Mode
Blizzard has talked about Challenge Modes a lot recently, so now is your chance to try them out and see how difficult they are!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We've enabled Challenge Mode in the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta for Stormstout Brewery. We'd like to see as many players as possible challenge the dungeon to score your fastest times, and join us in discussing this new aspect of the game in this thread.

Here are the key things to know about this Challenge Mode test:

  • To participate, characters must have completed at least one run of the Heroic Stormstout Brewery dungeon.
  • Characters that meet that requirement will be able to set the difficulty to Challenge from the contextual unitframe dropdown and zone into Stormstout Brewery with your pre-formed party of five.
  • There is no queuing for Challenge Mode dungeons.
  • Inside, you’ll experience a more challenging version of the instance, with a timed run that begins the moment you interact with the Challenge Orb in front of you at the entrance.
  • Your gear will be normalized to item level 463, even if you have inferior gear on your beta character. (Note: This is only a beta feature. On live realms, gear won’t scale up, only down.)
  • Anyone with a level-90 on a beta realm can participate.
  • You can reset the dungeon and restart the timer mid-run if you make a mistake and feel you can do better. Simply have your leader right-click on his/her character unit frame and select the Reset option from the contextual drop-down while inside the instance.

This test will likely end late Monday, September 17. We're working on producing some non-official, test-only leaderboards for you, but don't forget -- there are going to be full-fledged, Armory-based leaderboards for Challenge Modes after Mists of Pandaria goes live.

We want players to race through the dungeon and try to get the best time possible. For many groups, simply finishing the dungeon will be challenging and an accomplishment. That’s fine, and we’d love to hear from you. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
WoW Losing Its Social Aspect
I recently did RaF with my girlfriend and I realized how less social WoW is now. I realized this when she kept telling me how boring it was when she was on because she didn't know anyone. Back when I started playing, there was no cross-realm and you had to ask trade chat to join groups to do dungeons, which you actually had to communicate in. You needed to join a good active guild to survive well. My point is you had to be social and make friends to truly play the game. It's difficult to find social groups besides guilds.

To Blizzard: Do you intend on bringing any of this some what mandatory socialization back to the game?

There are still many facets of the game where socializing and communicating are mandatory. While maintaining the MMO nature, what we've been doing over the years is work to provide something for people to do when they don't have a lot of friends online, or not a lot of people on their realm who are willing or able to run a dungeon, or a Battleground.

This game has always had a broad appeal. We're committed to striking a balance between very social gameplay, and progression on a more individual level. We work to create systems to support different play styles so that, ideally, you get to choose how you want to spend your time in the game -- knowing that you progressed your character in some fashion by the time you log out.

The thing is, it's always easy to forget that WoW is a delicate balance of opposing pressures. While we sit here remembering the time when we had long bonding dungeon crawls on realms where people knew each other and reputation mattered... there are also people who post here who just want the quick runs. They don't want to wait on others, they don't want a long crawl, they don't want to teach - they just want to play. Who is to really say who is right?
From my own perspective, I've certainly been in plenty of Dungeon Finder groups were there was virtually no communication -- though sometimes watching avatar body language, rare pets being pulled out, etc. brings about this funny sense of communication even in a virtual world. Yet, even in most of those relatively silent dungeon runs, I still had a great time playing the game. I definitely don't feel like it's the equivalent of playing alone when I'm a group. I still do my part and am happy to socialize if anyone in the group seems down for it. I just tend to be shy and not always initiate conversation myself.

And I'll continue to do that in Mists. But I'm also looking forward to joining with a set group of people, traveling to an instance location out in the world, and zoning in for Challenge Modes. I'll just have more choices on any given night of queuing for something, or joining friends/guild mates to tackle content that requires more of a coordinated strategy. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Theramore Scenario Requirements
You just need two other level 85 friends of any class to do it (for the first week it's out). After that, it just goes to 90 and it will work the same. (Only needs three people.)

So it could just be 3 dps & we'd be fine?
Any three classes. The speed at which you complete the Scenario may vary based on that (slightly) but they are designed to be run by any class combination.

Your ticket to ride is your level. If you don't have anyone to go into the Scenario with, we can provide people to group with via the queue. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Cross-Realm Challenge Modes
Will challenge modes be cross realm?
Yes.

If Challenge Modes can be done cross-realm, I think we need a region ranking system (US, EU, etc) instead of realm. It would make more sense.
Leaderboards will also display information on a regionwide basis as well as by realm. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Challenge Mode Difficulty
Wait, so I cannot queue up Looking For a Challenge (LFC)? Guess I won't be doing challenge modes. Thanks for more content I won't be doing!
If you're looking for endgame content for which you can queue up to find a group, there's more of that for you in Mists than there ever has been in the history of this game.

You will never outgear challenge modes. One of the neat things they do is normalize your gear to a certain item level. Basically how it works is they take all of your gear and set it at a certain item level say 450 and then all of your gear becomes 450 item level (at least if it works same way as normalization in beta).
The format is actually even a little more complicated than that. Just as an example: hit cap. As you surpass the 5-player Heroic dungeon item level you'll eventually cap out hit. If we equally averaged all your stats back down to 90 Heroic dungeon levels, it'd feel crappy. In that scenario you'd be running upcoming Heroic raid content at hit cap without missing, then enter a Challenge dungeon and be missing too much. You'd then have to keep a separate set that stacks a ton of hit to make up for the loss in averages. So your hit won't scale down as much. If you're not missing raid bosses in your epic gear, you probably shouldn't be missing bosses in Challenges either.

But trinkets effects and procs will be scaled down as well and set bonuses will be deactivated.

The automatic queuing systems in WoW come with the built in assumption that those involved will have a reasonable chance of succeeding at the content they've queued for. This is not the case in rated arenas, nor is it likely to be the case in rated challenges.

All the option would do is raise false hopes & risk player frustration when they discover the pug option is guaranteed not to succeed.

Lakhesís, your statements are very in-line with some of our development philosophies regarding matchmaking systems, player expectations in random versus pre-made groups, etc.

My biggest concern about Challenge modes is the opposite. Not that they will be nerfed, but they will be hotfixed to remove semi-exploits.

Let me give an example. In a certain dungeon, it is determined that a druid, shaman and mage can use certain abilities to bust through a dungeon and crush the gold medal time. The symbiosis between those 3 classes causes them to clear the dungeon 5 mins before any other comp can.

The devs know that in no time, Youtube will be filled with vids of how to do this and that soon everyone will know that you must bring a certain comp to even get close to the record time, so they hotfix it the first month of MOP. The original druid, shaman, mage did not cheat.. so probably their record time will stand forever.

If you think I am exaggerating.. look at 75% of world first raid kills. They mostly all involve some ´tactic´ that is ruled not an exploit, but is still hotfixed very quickly to not work any longer. Of course there are other true exploits that are hotfixed as well.

My guess is that there will be a lot of challenge mode top times that come from the first 2 weeks of the expansion and last a long long time.

You bring up some legitimate concerns, Adrena. All I can say is we share those concerns and will be watching things very carefully. There will definitely be some class synergy that will work well for specific dungeons or encounters. That's okay. But we do want to make sure there's integrity in the leaderboards regardless.

If you're raid hit capped, will you be massively over the hit cap in challenge modes (and thus wasting offensive stats) or when it scales you down will it ensure you are right at the hit cap, but not (significantly) over it, and reallocate those points to some generally useful stat.

Or to ask it another way, will players want to be aiming for a cap below raid hit cap when doing challenge modes so as not to waste stats (or are challenge mode bosses +3 bosses instead of +2 as is typical in heroic dungeons)?

If you're just at hit cap in a raid, you'll be just at hit cap in Challenges. So if you swap out any hit to stack other stats you'll be dropping below cap. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Challenge Modes and Loot
This is probably a stupid question, but I'm assuming no loot or gold drops off mobs in challenge modes, yes? Otherwise wouldn't gold farmers just endlessly reset them?
No loot or gold drops in challenge modes, though you will get Valor Points for any and all completions (up to the weekly cap, of course). Challenge modes are something you do once you are fully equipped with dungeon-or-better gear.

Because no loot or gold can be obtained, we'll be disabling durability loss in challenge modes. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

PvP Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
PvP and PvE Gear Strength in PvP
Great, another PVP season that needs PVE weapons for BiS. Perhaps if enemy players had a low % chance of dropping sub-par/LFR versions of PVP items when you kill them I'd feel better about all of this but pffft, dragon killing is not what I want to be doing.
I feel that PvP weapons will actually be far more desirable than their PvE counterparts for PvP in Mists of Pandaria. This is because 265 PvP power equals 1% increase in damage and healing done and with the large amounts on PvP weapons, they are definitely nothing to be sneezed at.

Keep in mind that this is for the Ilvl490 PvP weapons:

As you can see, equipping these items is a significant increase in the damage and healing that you can perform in PvP. The guide that I linked earlier in the thread explains, much better than I can, why the PvP stats are astounding. I do recommend take a look. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Arena Rewards and Cheating Teams
We did not rely only on player reports for our investigation, however we did look into teams if we were contacted about them. We gathered reports from multiple sources and in the end all teams eligible for the rewards were investigated; any of them that were found to be exploiting or cheating were disqualified from the end of season rewards.

One large point to note is that it was the teams being disqualified and not the accounts of the participating players, which is where I believe the confusion is coming from. Before I go any further I want to make sure that you are all aware that the end of season rewards are account wide. This means that if one team on an account was disqualified for any reason but there was still another legitimate and eligible team on that same account, they could still receive the rewards.

I hope that this clears everything up and ensures that you are all aware that any teams found to be abusing the ladder and queue systems were sanctioned accordingly.

So why are some players on certain teams being punished and not the rest of the team? You're pretty inconsistent with what the Armory is telling us.
How so? As I said in my post, it is the arena team that gets disqualified from the end of season rewards and not its players. So if someone had two teams that were both eligible for the end of season rewards and only one of them was disqualified, their characters would still receive awards from the team that achieved its rank legitimately because of account-wide achievements.

But there are teams with some players who have got the title when it's their only team (which has been disqualified).
I think that you have misunderstood the statement. This is because on their account, another team on a different character has received the end of season rewards legitimately. The Feat of Strength is currently account wide which means that all of their characters have access to the Feat of Strength, but not to the title and mount.

Nop, only the mount achievement is account wide, the actual mount isn't.
My apologies, I did indeed make a mistake. It is just the Feat of Strength that is account wide for the mount and title, but the mount and title is only usable on the character that received the rewards. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Level 90 Arena Tournament Realm
We hope that we can have the level 90 Arena Pass realm up and active within weeks after the release of Mists. So it might be possible, if the realm is up soon enough, that you can get full Malevolent gear on the Arena Pass before it is even possible to have the full set on the live realms. This is because the Conquest per week cap limits the speed you can get it on live realms, but you can get the full set straight away on Arena Pass.

Wasn't it a promise that we will eventually get one though? I wasn't sure of wording with when we get it though.
Oh yes, there will definitely be a level 90 Arena Pass. Also, If you purchased access to the 2012 Arena Pass earlier this year then you receive free access to the level 90 one!

You can find out a little bit of the information for the level 90 Arena Pass realm in the FAQ here: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/game/arena/arena-faq (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Start Date of Season 12
There is no official set in stone start date for Season 12, but it should begin approximately 1 week after the release of Mists of Pandaria. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Class Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Beta Class Balance Analysis
Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
One of the posters on the Paladin forums theorized it had something to do with Divine Storm and Light of Dawn, but many took it to mean chain procs were basically cut from Divine Purpose. We did a few tests and chain procs were definitely not cut, but just in case, could you clarify the change for us?
It was just a few bugfixes to Divine Purpose, not a functionality change. Here's a more detailed description of what was fixed with Divine Purpose, for those curious:

  • Word of Glory was mistakenly giving two chances to proc Divine Purpose (one for the cast, one for the heal / damage). It now only gives one chance, as you'd expect.
  • As previously mentioned, Divine Purpose's proc chance is supposed to be reduced to 8.33% or 16.66% if you cast a finisher with 1 or 2 Holy Power. That was also incorrectly applying to casts of finishers with Divine Purpose active. For example, suppose you had 4 Holy Power, and cast Light of Dawn (dropping you to 1 Holy Power). That procs Divine Purpose. You then Light of Dawn again. Previously, it would see that you're at 1 Holy Power, and give that second cast only an 8.33% chance to proc Divine Purpose again. This fixes that, so that casts made with Divine Purpose have the full 25% chance to proc Divine Purpose again.
  • Some finishers would proc Divine Purpose instantly when you cast them, and some would have a moment of delay between the cast and you gaining Divine Purpose. Those have been fixed to always proc instantly; it should feel much more responsive now.

Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
We have currently estimated that Blood Boil was nerfed by about 40% for Unholy. Does that sound accurate?
No, it sounds like you’re missing the very large increase to its base damage. It should change Unholy’s AoE damage somewhat, but it shouldn’t be huge. At low gear levels, it may be a buff even.

Warlock (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
An earlier blue post indicated that Soul Burn: Soul Swap should NOT put soul swap on cool down if you have glyph of soul swap equipped. On live SB:SS is still triggering a cool down. Have you changed your mind on this or is a fix incoming?
We’re seeing it working internally and on live. Can you double-check? (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Penance Overpowered
I think it's important for everyone to keep in mind that what you're seeing/experiencing is an incomplete picture. We've been working on maintaining balance through the levels as much as possible, but ultimately, the development team is tuning for level 90.

While there has been a spate of "nerf this/nerf that" threads because of these experiences, it's important to remember that these types of comments (nerf threads) are not generally very helpful. It also leads to flame wars from those that are at risk of being subject to said nerfs.

If there's a legitimate bug that you're seeing/experiencing, that's a whole other kettle of fish. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

15% Discount on MMO-Champion J!NX T-Shirts
From now until the Mists of Pandaria launch (Midnight PDT 9/25/12), MMO-Champion shirts are on sale for 15% off with the code CurseFTW! This code will also work for any of the other Curse shirts.



Guild Wars 2 Sells Two Million Copies
Guild Wars 2 has managed to sell over two million copies already! In other news, GW2Guru has added a ArenaNet Dev Tracker and GW2DB has added over 8,000 new items among other updates.

If you want more frequent updates, check out GW2Guru or find some other players to play with in our Guild Wars 2 forum. If you are looking for a skill calc, items, achievements, maps, or anything else that can be found in a database, check out GW2DB!

by Published on 2012-09-13 06:15 AM

Information on Bul Kathos's Glory's Proc, Cafe Tristram, Blizzard News

Patch 5.0.5 Hotfixes - September 12
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Here you'll find a list of hotfixes that address various issues related to the recently released World of Warcraft patch 5.0.5. Hotfixes are updates we make on our end without requiring you to download a new patch. Some of the hotfixes below went live the moment they were implemented, while others may require your realm to be restarted to go into effect. Please keep in mind that some issues cannot be addressed without a client-side patch update. We will continue to update this list in the days to come as additional hotfixes are applied.

General
  • The Ethereal Soul-Trader pet is now immune to player abilities.
  • We've made numerous fixes to the behavior of various systems in Cross-Realm Zones.

Classes
Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Dash again provides the intended speed bonus when reactivated after shifting out of and back into Cat Form.
  • Feral stealth has been made more effective.

Hunter (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Camouflage should no longer be cancelled on the hunter when an effect causes it to be cancelled on the hunter's pet. Cancelling a hunter's Camouflage should always cancel it on the pet.
  • It should no longer be possible to spell reflect Narrow Escape.

Mage (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Combustion should no longer ignore target damage multipliers when calculating the damage of the Pyroblast DoT on the target.

Paladin (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Divine Purpose should only have one chance to activate once per finisher (which must land on at least one target).<

Priest (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Lightwell charges are no longer consumed and wasted if a player rapidly clicks on the Lightwell.

Rogue (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
  • Stealth has been made more effective.

Dungeons and Raids
  • The Glory of the Cataclysm Hero meta achievement no longer improperly requires a Mists of Pandaria dungeon achievement.
  • Karazhan
    • The Chess encounter should once again proceed at its former, more leisurely pace.
  • The Eye
  • The Ruby Sanctum
    • Halion should no longer despawn shortly after entering combat.

Patch 5.0.5 Build 16057
Patch 5.0.5 Build 16057 is headed our way at some point in the near future. It contains no significant changes, making it likely just bugfixes and changes that couldn't be hotfixed.



Mists of Pandaria Mage Class Guide
Our friends over at Fatboss made a nice long video guide to the different Mage talents, spells, and glyphs. Let them know if you liked it and want to see more!



Upcoming Developer Chat
If you were not able to get your questions answered during the Reddit Q&A, you will have another chance! The developers are doing another chat over at BestBuy on Tuesday, September 18th at 6 PM CST. This time the format will be a moderated text based chat.



Welcome Your Friends (Old and New) to Azeroth
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Do you have a friend who's interested in getting back into World of Warcraft in time for the upcoming launch of the Mists of Pandaria expansion? Let them know we're providing certain players who've taken a break from adventuring in Azeroth with seven days of free game time to get them back in the fight. One-time WoW players whose subscription ended more than 30 days ago can take advantage of this offer by clicking here (EU here), logging in to their Battle.net account, and claiming their free game time. Time is of the essence, as this offer ends September 19.

Don’t forget about our Recruit a Friend program, either. If you have friends who haven’t experienced World of Warcraft at all yet, this is a great time to bring them into the fold. For bringing in a new recruit, you can earn an epic flying mount -- the swift and sleek Obsidian Nightwing -- along with 30 days of game time, and your friend will get perks (including bonus XP and bonus levels) designed to make it easier for the two of you to adventure together. Visit the Recruit a Friend page to learn more or get started.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Challenge Mode Difficulty and Nerfs
Seriously blizzard, if CHALLENGE modes are ever nerfed to the point say like the cataclysm heroic dungeons were, what would be the point in calling them CHALLENGE mode runs?
That isn't the intention. Now, there could be times were a particular dungeon has a specific mechanic, pull, or encounter that is more difficult than we intended in all difficulties. In cases like that you may see us make adjustments to the dungeon across the board.

But, to be clear, our intent isn't to make Challenge Mode dungeons more accessible or easier over time. In part this is also why, as you acquire more powerful gear over the course of the expansion, it will be scaled down in this setting so that the challenge remains roughly equivalent from the start of the expansion to the end. We also don't allow matchmaking for them, as they're intended to be difficult for organized groups.

I can totally see you guys nerfing a previous set when a new set comes out however. Seems to be par the course. Nerf it when it's not current content.
The Challenge Mode dungeon structure is really closely bound up with the leaderboards we’re going to have. It isn’t really possible to “nerf” the content meaningfully without invalidating those leaderboards. It may be helpful to think of the Gold medal armor sets as analogous to Gladiator mounts. We may have a new “season” of Challenges, with new dungeons to race through, but that doesn’t mean that past seasons’ rewards will suddenly become more attainable.

Hey if challenge modes are cool and go well, will we get challenge raids like AQ40 and MC??? If so you guys should have challenge mode raid achievements for each raid and dungeon just basically saying you did em cause I think that would be cool and well worth my time to play.
If players really like Challenges and we see a lot of interest in the leaderboards, there's definitely the potential there for extending the system to raid content in some form. We've already seen a lot of interest in raid speed runs -- from our very own BlizzCon Live Raid to other events that fansites have hosted with streamed races between top guilds -- and it’s compelling to us. We'd love to explore formalizing that system!

Wouldn't it defeat the point of them? Normals for leveling, heroics for that initial gearing for T14 (and they are much easier than Cata's were on launch, I've tested them), and Challenge modes for those who want a challenge. I get it, some people can spend more time on and in WoW than others, but isn't it ok to have something like this for those who want to be challenged?
Not only that, a good, organized Challenge Mode group will likely find farming Valor in Challenge dungeons to be more efficient. They're not set on a lockout like Heroic dungeons are, and the bosses reward more Valor than on Heroic, plus there's a daily quest to complete a specific Challenge Mode dungeon each day for a Valor bonus.

Conversely, a player who doesn't readily have four friends online at regular intervals will probably find running Heroic Dungeon Finder to be more efficient for obtaining Valor. Challenge dungeons are at least on par with the most difficult Burning Crusade Heroics, and death will still cost ya.

Now, in this thread I've been sharing a lot of information I've learned from Ion Hazzikostas, an awesome man, so I just want to throw in my own copper (psst, I have more than two!).

I've never been more impressed with a World of Warcraft endgame design model than I am with Mists. I think the way various prestige, vanity, fun, diverse, and power-increasing progression systems are designed shows such a commitment to the creation of gameplay with broad appeal, while preserving the philosophy that prestige can be earned through a combination of effort and exceptional performance.

Did I just go full fanboy on our devs? I'm sorry.

You never go full fanboy. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

No Nerfs For Challenge Modes
If at all feasible, we're not going to be adjusting the content itself. Persistent leaderboards are the backbone of the system, and if we make the dungeon easier, then your 14:13 time last week might actually be more impressive than my 14:05 clear today, but there would be no way of knowing that. It's conceivable that we might adjust the actual Gold/Silver/Bronze cutoff times slightly if it turns out we were badly off the mark with the tuning, but we're pretty confident in our numbers.

As far as composition goes, I can't promise that every possible composition will be able to get Gold. (Apologies in advance to the prospective monk/monk/monk/monk/monk groups out there.) Every composition will be able to get Silver (subject to some fairly basic ground rules such as "you have a healer"), and every class should have multiple viable group makeups in which it can obtain Gold, assuming masterful play.

Can I do Temple of the Jade Serpent as many times as I want in challange mode per day? Or does it have a lock system?
You can run the same challenge mode dungeon as many times per day as you like.

It'll be a bit before we hear an answer on that one, as I suspect Watcher reacted to it with a "hmm, good question". I'm sure a dev somewhere has at least considered the question, but they might not have settled on their final answer yet.
We like the gameplay of adjusting talents to suit the situation. We don't like the gameplay of cycling through power cooldown talents to effectively benefit from an entire tier of choices simultaneously. Our plan is to allow the former while disallowing the latter.

Does this mean you have a workaround for the dreaded "You have entered too many instances recently" or will this be popping up during challenge modes?

I am specifically thinking of running in engaging boss 1, failing somehow and resetting. Rinse and repeat that 5x on the current system (Assuming reseting a challenge mode works like resetting a normal instance) and you'll be locked out for an hour minus however long it took you to wipe those 5x.

Challenge modes have a special reset system. The party leader can instantly reset a challenge run from inside the instance via a menu dropdown from his or her unitframe. The group gets ported back to the entrance, and everything in the instance reverts to its original state. There's no limit on how often you can do that. You may still want to finish a somewhat botched run though, if you aren't capped on Valor for the week, since each completed run will award Valor.

What's the word on profession items and weird items such as Nifty Stopwatch, Potions of Speed, Swift Boots, Rocket Boots, netherweave nets, flasks, food and other "creative items"
There are no restrictions on items or consumables. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Beta Class Balance Analysis
Druid (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
Currently by taking "Glyph of Shred", when Tiger's Fury or Berserk is active, "Shred" is replaced by "Shred!" There are a few errors (exists on both Live and Beta).
Fixed.

Druid / Rogue
Just wondering GC, have you found out why stealth level was reduced yet?
No, we're not sure how it happened, but it was indeed lowered so we raised it back up for rogue and Feral druids, restoring the same effectiveness they had in 4.3.

Death Knight (Forums / Skills / Talent Calculator)
How is this not counter your often-stated goal of increasing the clarity of game mechanics to new players? I know I'd be confused if my DS magically hit harder when I switched specs, just like I was when CS magically changed its cooldown when I first specced my paladin Prot last expansion.
I sympathize with what you're saying, but it takes a fairly sophisticated player (and certainly not a new one) to notice that Death Strike is or is not doing 308% weapon damage + 2079. Put another way, the tooltips have never been as remotely accurate as they are in 5.0. In previous expansions they often out and out lied because the damage was affected by so many considerations that the tooltips weren't sophisticated enough to catch. Spell tooltips are pretty smart now, smarter than ever anyway, but they still have limitations. We try to get them as accurate as possible, but there are plenty of situations when that is not the case.

It's hitting for 280% in blood. The tooltip is just wrong, they forgot to reduce it to 200% in the tooltip before adding the 1.4x modifier for blood. They just added the 1.4x modifier, and left it the same according to the tooltip. It still doing 280% + whatever.

This is likely the case. We have to manually build tooltips a lot these days and the tooltip may not have been updated, but the damage was. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

PvP Power and Resilience Effects on Gear Strength
PvP power and resilience is an undeniably great stat for PvP and you will definately be wanting more of it. If you would like to know more about how PvP power/resilience works in MoP, Vanguards guide is a great read, although very long and complex. You can find it here: http://www.arenajunkies.com/news/525...ilience-guide/

i wouldn't worry, for pvp, pvp gear is now the best gear you can wear, if you wear pve gear you'll do less damage and take far more This is very true. In the above guide if you check some of the graphs, you will see the large disparity between the damage done with and without the PvP stats.

Pvp power and pvp defense doesnt work on like outside of sw while you duel other people??
Whenever you are attacking another player, PvP power will boost your damage done. Whereas PvP power only increases your healing done if you are not in a dungeon or raid. So in duels and world PvP, PvP gear will be better (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

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Blizzard Games News
Mists of Pandaria beta is ending very soon, top arena players that win-traded might lose their spot in future tournaments, Starcraft Europeon finals are right around the corner, and Diablo 3 changes up the crowd control in this week's Blizzard News.

by Published on 2012-09-12 07:05 AM

Diablo III Blog on Class Changes Coming, PTR Download Button Active On Launcher, Blue Posts, Curse Weekly Roundup

Developer Reddit Q&A
Several WoW developers answered questions on Reddit tonight. A short summary can be found below, but it is well worth it to read the entire thing!

Misc
  • Player model updates are a high priority and will come with new animations.
  • Once you complete the legendary gem quest line, you will be able to purchase more gems as needed.
  • Activision has no effect on the game's direction.
  • Observer modes are still on the todo list, but require development time and technical improvements before they can be done.
  • Proving Grounds are still on the todo list and will hopefully make it into one of the Mists of Pandaria patches.
  • "More developers" is often proposed as a solution to various problems and Blizzard is actively hiring. It is hard to find people that fit within the Blizzard culture and it would be a mistake to hire too many people too quickly.
  • Combat racials will be improved for classes that lack them.

PvE
  • The plan is still for more content to be released faster than before to keep players engaged with relevant content and not bored. They are also committed to reducing the time between the last major content patch and the next expansion.
  • Blizzard is not satisfied with the current status of 25-player raids and are still actively seeking a solution.
  • Raid Finder and scenarios will hopefully one day make it down to lower level content.
  • Upon being asked about another raid like Ulduar: "In fact, our next raid zone after these may be right up your alley...."
  • Ulduar like hardmode toggles will be added as appropriate.

PvP
  • Blizzard would like to make queuing for random bgs better by ensuring some semblance of healer balance between Alliance/Horde.
  • There are a variety of improvements planed for both rated and unrated BGs.

World
  • There are some bugs with cross-realm zones, as well as some tweaks that need to be made.
  • There wasn't time to fix the damage from Deathwing in Stormwind for Mists of Pandaria.
  • Pandaria has the best in-game storytelling there has ever been in an expansion and there will be more Wrathgate level cinematics, some larger events, and a more interactive and involved story without as much phasing.



Paragon Switching to 10 Man Raiding for Mists of Pandaria
Today Paragon announced that they will be moving to 10 man raids for Mists of Pandaria. For the new full roster, see their site.

After Dragon Soul progression many of our players decided to quit the game, some of them were already showing lack of interest during the DS progress raids. In total 34 players took part in DS progress, 14 of which are no longer playing WoW at all. Most of them were longtime core players. On top of that some of our current players can't put in the time anymore as they used to do.

We were able to get some quality recruits to replace the ones whom had quit, but not enough. So far we had recruited 12 players. It has always been hard for us to recruit new players and we pretty much had the same core of 20+ from late Ulduar to Dragon Soul which played a big part in our success.

During the beta it became obvious that the current roster will not cut it in MoP unless we get couple of more quality recruits. So far we haven't been able to get the roster we needed and have decided it's better to continue as a 10man guild from now on than to hope for something miraculous to happen in the upcoming weeks. This also leaves time for our players to find a new guild before MoP if they so desire..




Raid Testing Schedule - September 13
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Raid testing will resume this Thursday, September 13.

Each encounter should be available at approximately the listed times below for all Beta Test Realms, regardless of suggested geographical region.

Gara'jal (Mogu'shan Vaults) - 25 Player Heroic
10:30 PDT (13:30 EDT, 19:30 CEST)

Blade Lord Ta'yak (Heart of Fear) - 25 Player Heroic
16:00 PDT (19:00 EDT, 01:00 CEST)

As always, this testing schedule is very fluid and subject to the realities of a beta environment. We might have to change the time of a testing session or cancel it entirely, due to bugs, builds, server hardware issues, etc. Keep an eye on this forum for the latest information, and thank you in advance for testing and providing feedback.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Mists of Pandaria Experience to Level
We have definitely been tuning XP in Pandaria, and trying to hit a pace where a character with no rest, no heirlooms, and no guild is leveling comfortably.

There was a significant decrease in the XP required to level from 87-90 applied a couple of weeks ago, and there was a similar adjustment for level 86 prior to that.

Completed Kun-Lai Summit today, they lower the req. XP a few patches back so I was able to ding lvl88 by the Summit quests alone finally. It's still tight though, by doing every single quest in the zone I have dinged a few quests before Shado-Pan area (my last questhub) ends. I completed the zone with no rested XP at all and unguilded.
This is pretty much what we're aiming for. We may still need to make a small tweak here or there.

Do we know the current total XPs required for each level from 85-90? Is this posted somewhere?

Currently
  • 86 13000000
  • 87 15080000
  • 88 18980000
  • 89 22880000
  • 90 27560000

The fact is -- most people are in guilds, or do gathering along the way, or run dungeons, or use heirlooms, or build up some rest. Some people only quest in groups (and are therefore able to kill many more enemies per hour). Some only ever play solo.

The values above may get changed a little bit in the next two weeks, but only if it can be demonstrated that they are still too high.
(Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Brewfest Boss Level and Brewfest Dates
Word is, Coren Direbrew has been working out with bigger kegs and he will indeed be a level 90 dungeon boss and his loot has been adjusted accordingly. Pace was something we considered, so we pushed the actual event by just over a week from when it normally happens (which you should be able to see on your in-game calendars now) to give players a bit more time to reach level 89, the minimum level required to queue for the encounter. Oh, we also added a couple more surprises but you’ll have to wait and see. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Challenge Modes Differences
Challenge modes are more than just a timed run. On a basic level, every single creature in Challenge Mode dungeons is significantly stronger than the Heroic version (typically by a larger proportion than you see going from Normal to Heroic raiding, for what that's worth), and where appropriate, additional enemies or new mechanics are added to make sure that the threat of defeat is always present. For many players, simply successfully completing a challenge run is going to be, well, a challenge. That's why we award excellent Valor gains for doing so. Aiming for Silver, let alone Gold, will be something for experienced players to do once they've mastered the content.

Players who tested the Scarlet Halls challenge mode when that one was open, to name one example, can probably attest that the Armory section of that dungeon is every bit as brutal as anything in Heroic Shattered Halls was in Burning Crusade. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Account Wide Professions
Vanilla was a time of experimentation and 90%+ of the population playing with 1 main. Now it's a chore to level First Aid for alts hence it's difficult to see it seriously in design.
Well, if you look at it like that, why not make levelling and loot account wide too? Shouldn't new characters actually be new? (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Class Quests
I personally loved Anathema’s quest line, it was one of the most fun quests I have ever completed, I suppose that's mostly because of the sense of accomplishment it yielded in the end and also because of its higher than usual difficulty level.
That being said, we will have some really nice Monk quests, but for now, although we would love to do more class quests, we are focusing a bit more on faction specific quests. We have 11 classes, that means we would have to use a ton of resources to implement those quests and we just can’t spare them at this moment.

Storyline and faction-specific quests on the other hand are getting some love; we’re focusing quite a lot on the Alliance VS Horde conflict for Mists of Pandaria, we will use plenty of other ways to help bring that conflict to another level, including for example the usage of scenarios.
We’re really excited about bringing this old and original conflict back into Warcraft again.

Be prepared for some epic legendary quests though as the expansion progresses! (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Pandaren Monk Pet Lore?
Yeah, of all the bizarre pets out there to collect, I have to say I think the little Pandaren is one of the least strange ones, lore-wise — I have a tiny Archangel of Justice following me around most of the time!

I'm sure each of them can be explained in some way though. Magical error, inter-dimensional rifts, alchemy accident... (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Pandaren Monk Pet 50% OFF -- This Week Only
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Save big and prepare for Pandaria with a new sidekick. This week only, you can get the World of Warcraft Pandaren Monk companion pet for just $5 (EU - 5€ / 4.5£). That’s 50% off the regular price, making this a great time to round out your pet collection before the imminent arrival of the Pet Battle System.

Hurry, this offer ends September 17, 2012 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.



SWTOR Patch 1.4
Patch 1.4 is live on the PTS and the patch notes are here! Darth Hater has some previews of the Dread Guard Armor, Moods System, Elite War Hero Weapons, Terror From Beyond, and New Daily Relics.

Originally Posted by SWTOR
Highlights
  • Terror from Beyond, a new Operation, is now available! Travel to the remote planet of Asation, where the Dread Masters have commandeered an ancient Gree Hypergate in order to unleash untold horrors upon the galaxy. Terror from Beyond features 5 powerful new boss encounters that can be challenged in 8- and 16- player Story or Hard Mode, offering some of the most challenging group content yet!
  • A new set of PvE gear is available! Dread Guard gear is now the most powerful PvE equipment in the galaxy. It can be acquired from deep within Terror from Beyond (Hard Mode).
  • Significant changes have been made to crowd control to address the amount of control a player can be subject to at once. See the Classes and Combat section for details.

Full notes...



by Published on 2012-09-12 12:42 AM

Developer Reddit Q&A
Several WoW developers answered questions on Reddit tonight.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Misc
Whats the status on updating player character models?
Actively working on updating character models! It's a high priority for us.

I am eagerly awaiting the redesigned Orc and Human models because as said during Gamescom, if these first two are successful then you’ll move onto the other races. My question is thus: do you plan on keeping the animations the same or develop something different?
Part of doing new models would have to be doing new animations. The pandaren are just capable of so many more evocative or even charming animations than the older models with their older rigs can do. Obviously, that makes the task bigger, but that's what we'd like to do.

How will this "Obtaining more than one Legendary Gem" go when MoP is released? I am just interested in what part of the quest we have to repeat to get another gem.
You won't need to repeat the quest. Think of the quest as earning the right to buy gems, at which point you can buy as many as you need (not necessarily for cheap). The gem itself is unique equipped. You can equip two sha-touched daggers, but only one can have the gem. You can have another gemmed sha-touched dagger in your bags.

Going off that, there seems to be a significant lack of clarity on many people's parts about what impact (if any) Activision has had on Blizzard. As the people designing the game, do you feel there has been a change in how things are done since the merger, either within game development or the company in general?
I'll come out and say it. Activision gets an unfair reputation among our players for this, as does Bobby Kotick. We do demos for the Activision executive team about twice per year (sometimes only once). They ask intelligent questions about why we're doing what we're doing, but at no point have any mandates (or even "suggestions") about the game's design been issued.

What happened to the raid/arena observer feature mentioned during Blizzcon 2011?
Observer modes are still on our want list, it's just a question of when we get to it. So far, other features and changes have been higher priority but hopefully one of these days we'll finally get it done.

Cataclysm introduced the concept of certain crafted items awarding multiple skill points for the profession, but this was only implemented with Cataclysm recipes. Are there any plans to go back and apply this to older ones?
Yeah. Check out what we've done with Cooking and Inscription specifically. They have some good catch-up mechanics, and we'd like to weave those into the older recipes if the systems prove popular.

What do you think the biggest challenge was in wanting to change how Mists plays compared to Cata?
I'll answer as the Lead Quest Designer, although others can chime in.

We wanted Pandaria to have a wide swath of content for all different types of players. To this end we wanted to add really awesome hardcore skill-based challenges (getting gold in all the Challenge Mode dungeons is a FEAT to be PROUD of!), as well as more casual experiences (Pet Battles is a really wonderful, low-stress, turn-based system that everyone can enjoy.)

From the quest perspective, we've always wanted more things to do with your max-level character, especially if you're not into Dungeons or Raids. One entire zone (Vale of Eternal Blossoms) is dedicated to level-90 content. It's a randomized series of missions to experience every day. The Mogu attack different parts of the Veil every day. New quests and hubs will unlock as you adventure. And as you earn reputation with the Golden Lotus faction, you'll unlock a story arc that carries through until you're exalted.

That's just one example. All of the factions have something special going on, so that they're not just a bar that grows along the bottom of your screen. The Tillers give you your own personal farm. The Shado-Pan companions accompany you on your quests every day, and you can unlock more companions. Etc. etc. These are just a couple examples.

I would say that's one of the major differences between Mists and Cata - there's just plain MORE TO DO, regardless of your playstyle!

I'm thinking about coming back for Pandaria - can you give me a convincing argument that this new content would satisfy a player like myself?
The way I see it, our player base has just diversified greatly. In vanilla and BC, very few players had the expectation of raiding, but fortunately things like questing and making a bunch of alts still felt new and rewarding. These days, we have been able to encourage many more players to participate in dungeons and raids and PvP, which is fantastic, but those players come with very different skill and commitment levels. Making the game very easy would alienate players as would making the game too difficult. The answer we believe is to have different content for different kinds of players.

Someone like you might enjoy the heroic raids, particularly the optional elite modes for bosses in the Terrace of Eternal Spring. You also might try Challenge Modes. Challenge Mode dungeons, when shooting for gold especially, may very well be the hardest content we've ever offered.

What is your attitude towards the WoW development community? By that, I mean both addon authors and community developers that basically make their living off of the success of WoW?
I'm not the right person to answer this, but nobody on the UI team is here, so I'll just chime in. We definitely support the add-on community as much as we can. Many mod-makers are able to contact us directly. It's a high priority for the UI team, and for all of us at Blizzard. I wish I could give you more specifics, but it's outside of my realm of expertise.

If there are specific issues or questions you have, we check the forums.

Yeah, what happened to the Abyssal Maw raid? There was content in the early Cataclysm beta, but it was removed from Cataclysm entirely by launch... The few loose ends in Cataclysm are quite large, in my opinion.
We weren't happy with the way Abyssal Maw was shaping up. It managed to take on a life of its own in players' minds, but believe me, if it had been an awesome raid, we would have shipped it. One of the hardest parts of this job is killing a feature you're excited about because it doesn't meet our quality bar. I suspect you'd see far more complaints if we had shipped a bad raid than not shipping one at all. We took the resources and put them back into Firelands and got a couple of extra bosses out of it.

Would you ever consider adding a "Want To Buy" system to the auction house? Where someone could create a WTB (or buy order) by depositing gold for an item that could be fulfilled by a seller even while the buyer is offline?
We have discussed buy orders specifically for those big ticket, risky items like end-game gear or expensive mounts. They would be nice for anything expensive but low volume. We don't think buy orders are needed for things like flasks or normal enchants that are pretty much always available.

We had buy orders on the MoP feature list, but had to punt it in order to get some other features out. This is a very common phenomenon for us. We often start and expansion with double or triple the number of features that we can reasonably do. We get around to doing all of the good ideas eventually.

Cataclysm debuted Archeology, which had the potential to be an interesting side-profession (especially with the original “Path of the Titans” idea), but it easily has become one of the worst and most painful experiences I ever have had with this game. What are your thoughts on Archeology?
I agree that archaeology ended up with too much travel relative to the time you spend doing soemthing fun. We have improved that in MoP with more dig sites per zone, and honestly Pandaria is a little more compact in general so you'll be traveling less. You should also check out some of the Archaeology gameplay in the Seat of Knowledge in Pandaria. We did some cool stuff there (IMO) and we would like to do more.

What is the process behind giving names to achievements?
We all contribute to coming up with achievement names. It's fun. Kaplan used to name them all, then I named them all, but now everyone pitches in. Quest designers name quest achievements, encounter designers name encounter achievements and so on. It's one of the areas of the game where it's acceptable to be a little goofy.

Was there anything that didn't make the cut for release but will pop up in a 5.x patch?
One feature we had mentioned previously, but which didn't make it in for Mists launch, is the Proving Grounds feature. For those who aren't familiar with it, the idea was to add what would be a type of single-player scenario that would allow players to both learn and demonstrate the core skills associated with a given role or class. You can think of them as something akin to Challenges in Starcraft II.

These might take the form of testing how long a tank can protect an NPC healer from a stream of oncoming enemies, or how much damage a rogue can deal to targets while avoiding awareness and movement checks of increasing difficulty. The hope is that the system will be a fun way for players to practice some of the skills that are essential for group gameplay, and for expert players to demonstrate mastery and compete for positions atop leaderboards, similar to our upcoming Challenge Mode feature.
Is this feature still in the works, or has it been canned?
Still in the works. The question to which I was replying was asking for things that will hopefully pop up in a 5.x patch!

Professions - crafting in WoW is not something I enjoy doing a lot, but often feels mandatory or at least needed to be able to sustain the stuff I want to do in game.
I totally agree that there are tons of cool things we can (and should) be pursuing to make our professions gameplay much more interesting. This is something we'd love to tackle!

What is the single most memorable moment you've had with others during your time at Blizzard when it comes to WoW?
At some event, I met a man who said he had trouble communicating with his teenaged son. Somehow they managed to start playing WoW together, and through that they were able to start talking, at first about the game, and then about life in general. They still had trouble talking face to face, but the barriers were relaxed over chat or voice chat or whatever they were using.

We're making a game here. We're not going to save the world. I get that. But it was a really memorable conversation.

World of Warcraft is a cash cow, why not just hire additional developers to create this content that keeps getting pushed off?
We're always hiring developers. We can't hire them fast enough. But we are extremely picky about who we hire. A lot of Blizzard's success has to do with our culture, and we risk diluting that culture if we hire too many people too quickly, who may not be able to absorb our values or (gasp) may not even believe in them. You can't solve every problem just by throwing money at it.

If you know of good people, send them our way!

Will you do something to help/save the dying/dead servers like merging some of them? I would even be willing to give up my beloved toon's name for being able to have fun again.
I'll add to this by saying that the nature of the way the player population distributes itself, merging servers ends up not really being the great solution many players imagine.

At this point, the overwhelming majority of players online at any given time are at max level and hanging around in major population centers. Merging servers makes the cities far more populated, but the outdoor world still ends up feeling dead, nothing like what the world feels like when the player population in general is still leveling-up. Even if you assume MoP succeeds in getting people back out into the world, it's important to understand that that will mean people will be out in the world in Pandaria, but the rest of the world would still feel abandoned.

Classes / Racials
My question is regarding combat-enhancing racials. The existence of them limits the race choice for all the players that want to min-max their character. Would'nt it be better if all combat-enchancing racials would be removed and replaced with non-combat racials (like the Goblin bank for example). That way everyone can truely play the race they like.
Ultimately, we feel that racials such as goblins' Rocket Jump, worgens' Darkflight, or trolls' Berserking both add interesting gameplay and meaningfully reinforce racial identities, though they are definitely harder for us to balance than Bouncy and Treasure Finding. We'd rather continue to focus on the handful of races that feel they have lacking combat racials, and improve those. The addition of the undead Touch of the Grave passive is one example of this.

Currently in the shaman tree lv45 primary talents dont really feel all that special or important..and can be actually ignored without much difference in playing the class. Do you plan to make more changes to the shaman talents to make them a bit more interesting?
We're certainly going to continue to iterate on the design of the talent system over the course of Mists. There are 198 talents. The odds that all 198 are perfect are rather slim.

With regard to that shaman tier in particular, the cutoff for Call of the Elements was changed to 3 minutes to prevent it from being mandatory as a throughput increase, or essentially demanding that it be paired with Healing Tide in the 75 tier. Beyond that, a shaman who drops Spirit Link to equalize his group's health and then picks it up instantly for a 90sec cooldown refund from Totemic Restoration, or a shaman who stuns his enemies with an expertly-flung Capacitor Totem via Totemic Projection, will probably be experiencing some meaningful gameplay difference as a result of his or her talent choices. That said, that tier is certainly a candidate for further adjustment.

Dear Ghostcrawler, why do you love mages so much?
Because they are so, so pretty.

Honestly, I think it's a bit of a cop out to assume that we buff the specs we like and nerf the specs we hate. That would be a pretty dumb strategy to keep players happy and I am certain I would have been fired long ago if that's how we operated.

I was unsure about the changes to shadowpriests but i have to say i love how the new playstyle. they only thing that worrys me is the fact we dont have any dps cd apart from talented PI ( which overall is less dps and not worth taking) what is the reason/thinking behind this?
We try not to design classes by filling out forms -- where is this dude's gap closer? Where is his DPS cooldown? That's a great recipe for every class feeling alike.

That said, in addition to PI we also made the Shadow Fiend do pretty serious damage for Shadow.

A while back you guys said that "Runeforging will get some changes to make it less boring.", but we have yet to see or hear anything about this. Is this something still being looked into? Or was it scrapped entirely?
As with many things, if we can't do something right, we end up not doing it (yet). We still aren't close to satisfied with the Runeforging system as it currently stands, but we also didn't have an overhaul to that system that we were happy with. It's a feature we're still discussing and working on.

If you have the internal tools for simulation and know they are working properly, why not release them so players can use them?
A couple of reasons. First, there is a long history of theorycraft in this game. I think if we remove too much of the mystery and experimentation, then the game loses some of its charm. There is less motivation to try out different rotations or gems to increase your DPS if you know with near certainty even before you begin what your max DPS is.

Second, I feel like we'd have to monitor players using it correctly. Within seconds a bunch of "My DPS is lower than you said it is" posts (whether unintentionally or maliciously) would spring up, which we would then have to troubleshoot or verify.

PvE
What plans do you have to keep the end-game relevant (read: challenging) and rewarding to hardcore players between content releases?
Getting content out faster is probably the best thing we can do. It's okay if guilds that work really hard get a short break. It's when that break grows long than players start to lose interest.

I know we've been saying "more faster, more better" for years, but it can often take years to turn a ship this big.

The new LFR loot system is fairly anti-climatic. Did you all go through any other ideas?
We agree that the system could use some more visual oomph. Especially when you don't win an item from a boss, you feel the lack of some of the ceremony of downing a boss that used to be present, with a bunch of Need/Greed loot dialogues popping up on your screen, reviewing the loot to see if you needed anything (or, let's be honest, clicking every Dice icon that was clickable...) and then watching the rolls unfold.

There's room for improvement there, and it's something we're continuing to polish.

LFR was the final straw. My question to you sir, is this the end of the slippery sliding slope? Have we hit bottom?
I don't think Raid Finder is a good substitute for having a group of friends to play with. I think it's a good substitute for when your friends aren't online or you don't currently have a solid group or so on.

Raids with friends >> Raid Finder >> no raiding at all.

What are Blizzards views on 25-man raiding? - Can anything be done to save 25-man raiding or make it more appealing? (Does Blizzard have something up their sleeves?) - What has caused 25-man raids to fade away?
In short, we're not satisfied with the current status of 25-player raids. There are clear logistical challenges to sustaining a 25-player raiding group. It's inherently 2.5 times as much churn, and thus 2.5 times as much recruitment needed. In terms of actual encounter difficulty, while we haven't always succeeded, we feel that we can deliver on a comparable experience between the two modes: 10-player raiding often involves greater personal responsibility, while 25-player raiding is more complex on a macro level (more moving pieces). Even perfect tuning doesn't compensate for the logistical difficulties, though.

Our hope and intent when introducing the parallel 10/25 structure in Cataclysm was that people would be free to pick the raid size that they prefer, but I'll admit that in light of the organizational challenges of maintaining a 25-player roster, we may need a slightly larger incentive to make that choice a truly free and fair one. When you're the guild leader of a 25-player raid group, and you realize that you only have 21 people regularly showing up, it's much easier to just forge ahead in 10-player mode than it is to go through a fresh recruitment cycle to bolster your ranks. And if Mechanar taught us anything, it's that players will always take the path of least resistance when the rewards are equal. (Note that this doesn't mean that it's necessarily the most fun path or what players would choose in the absence of any outside forces pulling them one way or another.)

A small step we've taken to that end has been to increase the amount of loot dropped in 25-player Normal mode in 5.0 to 6 pieces per boss, matching the Heroic loot rate as it has stood in Cataclysm. That's something. But it's not a true solution to the problem. It's something we continue to discuss on a regular basis.

How does an encounter like Heroic Spine happen? The focus on burst DPS was brutal to many guilds and really harmed progression. Bring the player turned into bring the alt to stack rogues, mages, and other burst classes. What went wrong?
One of the dangers when we tune a Heroic raid encounter to the razor's edge is that we stress areas of our class design that aren't as well-balanced (nor were they ever intended to be). We can promise that classes will do comparable DPS on a fight like Ultraxion. We can't promise that every class will do comparable DPS in a 20 second burst window, a 40 second burst window, while cleaving two targets, while AoEing 8 targets for a minute straight, while damaging 4 targets that are all spread out, and so forth. (And a world in which those were all equal would be a rather boring, homogeneous world. We think it's pretty cool for a Combat Rogue to get excited when a fight is going to involve two enemies tanked next to each other, or for a Fire mage to get giddy when thinking of Yor'sahj or Halfus.)

That doesn't mean that we can't tune brutally hard encounters, nor does it mean that we can't stress specific class mechanics, but it does mean that we need to be careful to vary the types of mechanics that matter most in a given fight when we're tuning it that way. It was really interesting to watch guilds progress on Heroic Ragnaros, to use a specific example. Guilds ran into a hard brick wall in phase 2 of the encounter initially, just trying to deal with Molten Elementals, and we saw some of them bring as many as 9 or 10 Balance Druids because they had the best burst targeted AoE in the game. And that got them to phase 3, where they promptly realized they had no hope at all of meeting the DPS check to avoid having more than 2 meteors spawn while stacking so many moonkins, because while their targeted AoE was excellent, their single-target sustained DPS while dodging World in Flames was not. And so guilds gradually brought fewer and fewer druids, adapted to handle Phase 2 in other ways, and ultimately ended up defeating the encounter with balanced compositions.

But if not for the Phase 3 DPS check, it's safe to say that the first Heroic Ragnaros kills would have looked suspiciously like the first Heroic Nefarian kill.... So there definitely were lessons learned from Spine: specifically the importance of stressing varied and conflicting mechanics at the same time, instead of just one.

I'd really honestly just like an answer as to why we had the massive delay from raid to next expansion again. We were told there wouldn't be a repeat of ICC->Cata, but it happened again with Dragonsoul->Pandas.
To be fair, Dragonsoul -> Pandaria will have been several months faster than ICC -> Cata. That being said, I totally agree that it's still way too long. This is something we're committed to making better.

Question about the new LFR Loot system
The entire premise of the new LFR loot system is that your chance of winning loot is independent of absolutely all external factors. The moment you can trade items to and from your guildmates, that ceases to be the case.

And sadly, even if you would only use the ability to trade items to make the day of a random stranger in LFR, others would use it to have 24 alts funnel items to their main in a premade group.

There seems to be a lot of hesitation about expanding features like raid finder and scenarios to low level characters and to older content.
We'd definitely love to expand raid finder and scenarios to lower-level characters. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome as it relates to scaling/tuning the content and appropriately rewarding characters of varying levels though, so it isn't something we've gotten to yet. Someday I think it'll happen. Although, we're certain to be accused of trying to pawn off "rehashed content" when we get to it.

It`s undeniable that 25-man raiding is dying. How/will Blizzard save it?
We want to make sure the loot you get is commensurate with the logistical effort involved. That doesn't meant the loot has to be higher item level, but it could mean you earn loot faster.

We're not trying to kill 25 raiding. I totally agree we haven't yet done a good job of saving it.

Are 10 man raids designed to run 3 ranged and 2 melee? Or will 3 melee and 2 ranged be viable in MoP?
We initially balanced melee and casters to do about the same damage, figuring that melee ability to do damage while moving would offset the caster target switching. Over time, we gave casters so many ways to do damage while moving that they just ended up dominating on any movement fight. (Melee still did great on static encounters.)

We now give an even bigger edge to melee DPS, knowing that on actual encounters the damage done will even out with the casters.

You should be fine mixing melee and casters in MoP. Let us know if you don't think it is working out.

Could you talk about the process of balancing the PvE DPS? What types of data do you favor, and how if at all does encounter design affect class design? I realize that the Simulation Craft numbers are not perfect and I understand that you have your own tools that are likely more reliable and more accurate. However Simulation Craft has proven to be fairly accurate in the past.

The challenge for us for sims such as Simulation Craft is that we don't know why it varies from our internal testing unless we poke around in the sims and essentially debug what they're doing. As the guys who work on the sims will tell you (and I'm sure you know this), the quality of the sims has everything to do with how much blood and sweat the individual contributors put in. Some units of Simulation Craft are pretty accurate and others need a lot of work. You can go back and look at the results for say patch 4.2 or 4.3 and some of the numbers don't match reality at all. Others do.

The most important numbers for us is what players are actually capable of doing on live. Those numbers are real. Those are the numbers players care about. Obviously we would prefer to have the numbers solid before an expansion or patch goes live, so we do a lot of internal testing, run our own simulations (which we know are correct), and look at the numbers players generate on betas or PTR.

I have a lot of confidence in my team to balance the game now. We have just gotten worlds better from where we were a couple of expansions ago. When we find problems now it's often because there is a bug causing damage to be higher or lower than anticipated, or players figure out some new rotation or gear combination that we didn't anticipate.

As you also know, different encounters tend to benefit different specs and play styles. That's actually what we want, within reason. It adds interest and depth to the game when players can min max to an extent.

TDLR we think Balance DPS is in a pretty good place. If you disagree, please be as specific as possible when posting about it. Just posting a link to Simulation Craft or any sim isn't very helpful in that regard.

Sims are great for making gear decisions or suggesting where you can alter your rotation. Historically, they have not been great for predicting how specs will stack rank.

(The stack ranks themselves are a little frustrating, just because some players will only look at where they fall on the stack, and not consider whether that position is statistically different from the others. There is a big difference between a delta of 15% DPS and a delta of 1.5% DPS.)

What happened to the raid/arena observer feature mentioned during Blizzcon 2011?
On the raid front, I think the trick would be making sure that it doesn't end up becoming the most effective way to raid. One of the great challenges of raid leading is executing the mechanics of the encounter as required of your own specific class and role, while also keeping tabs on the macro-level raid assignments and the ways in which the fight is unfolding. Imagine how much better someone would be at leading a raid if they could do it entirely from a third-person POV. It'd almost be mandatory for competitive players, and while some raid leaders might not mind being relegated to the role of "coach" if it gives them a better vantage from which to scold people for standing in fire, we'd rather avoid encouraging that.

That said, some sort of built-in delay might avoid this issue. In short, there are technical issues to solve, but we agree that it'd be really cool.

What are your plans for future MoP tiers in regards to environment, number of bosses, and number of zones? Will we ever get another Ulduar or T5 or will we be stuck with Dragon Souls and ToCs after the first tier in MoP (which looks solid just like the first tier in Cata was)?
We liked Ulduar and Icecrown Citadel too. Just because the 18 raid bosses in 5.0 are spread across three instances (plus two in the outside world) doesn't mean that we're never going to release another raid zone the size of Ulduar -- it just reflects the specific stories we were trying to tell about the mogu, the mantid, and the sha in this first patch of the expansion.

In fact, our next raid zone after these may be right up your alley....

Will we see a return to multiple raids per tier, meaning more zones, that doesn't mean more bosses, I mean, 2 raids with 4-5 bosses each will make things better in terms of environment variety, and having more... story per tier.
We're keenly aware of the importance of visual variety when planning and designing our raid content. Having multiple zones definitely helps with that, but there is still room for quite a bit of variation within even a single zone. One of the many cool things about Ulduar is that being in Mimiron's wing felt like an entirely different zone than clearing to Freya, which in turn stood apart from Ignis's forge and the entire outdoor section preceding him.

I always felt the Ulduar raid was the best design for including hard modes that were mostly built-in to the encounter versus the normal mode-hard mode toggle that we have now. Do we have a chance to see a return of the event-based hard mode design instead of a toggle?
The Protectors of the Endless encounter in the Terrace of Endless Spring raid in 5.0 works exactly like the Iron Council hardmode from Ulduar; if you defeat Protector Kaolan last on that encounter, you get "Elite" loot that is even more powerful than the normal rewards from the encounter.

It's the sort of thing we'd like to continue to experiment with and introduce where it makes sense. For some of the Ulduar encounters it was intuitive (kill Freya while her protectors are still alive), but in other cases it was obscure (how many people would have discovered the Vezax hardmode without an achievement describing what to do?) or an outright trap ("Why is XT hitting so hard?"). We literally spent as much time arguing over how to trigger the Mimiron hardmode as we did designing the fight itself, before someone half-jokingly suggested, "what if we just put a big red button on the wall?"

So the toggle is here to stay, but we're definitely keeping our eyes open for places where it makes sense to apply the Ulduar model.

What is the new feature in MoP you're excited the most for?
Challenge mode dungeons. Our 5-player instanced content at this point is primarily consumed by randomly matchmade groups through the Looking for Dungeon system, and it needs to be tuned accordingly (a lesson learned from Cataclysm release Heroics). Challenge modes offer us an opportunity to return to some of the really fun core MMO gameplay that will test the skill and coordination of groups of friends and guildmates. Crowd control, assisting, target prioritization, and so forth are essential to success, and because we're normalizing any gear that is superior to level 90 dungeon blues, you can't outgear them, only outskill them.

PvP
Are you aware of the current state of Hybrid healing and do you have any plans to adjust it?
We have been discussing having PvP Power affect either damage or healing, depending on spec. If that's too punitive, then it could affect healing by 50% of what it does for damage.

We understand there is a lot of concern about hybrid healing in PvP, and we'll be keeping a close eye on it. Shadow, Ret, Ele etc. are intended to have some off-healing capability, but they shouldn't be able to replace a healer completely.

Improvements for Random BG queueing?
Yes. We'd like to do make queuing for random bgs better by ensuring some semblance of healer balance between alliance/horde. For example, having no healer on your 15 person team when the opponents have 3 can have a huge impact on your team's chance of success. Also, we're considering more aggressively separating players with entry-level gear from everyone else (unless they're grouped with a player with non entry-level gear).

Have you considered adding some sort of gold income to PVP, such as a small gold reward for doing random BG's?
It has been considered, but isn't currently in the works. We'll see how the MoP endgame plays out before further consideration. Bear in mind I say this as a habitually broke WoW player that spends a lot of time doing PvP and would definitely benefit from it.

What is your current opinion on the overall state of Mists PVP? Is it where you want it to be with regards to player survivability, healing, damage, and CC?
At 85 the numbers are kind of wild... healers heal for a ton as a percentage of a health bar and non-healers die too quickly. At 90, health pools increase more than damage does (by roughly a 3:2 ratio, although your mileage may vary), so it should be noticeably better.

Have you considered adding in a system to make it easier for PVP'ers to find team mates for arenas and rated BG's? Such as cross-realm LFG channels and a list of players that are LFG with class/spec/rating etc?
Yes, a system like this is something we'd like to see. We have a variety of improvements we're planning for both rated and unrated bgs.

Cross-Realm Zones
Will you do something to help/save the dying/dead servers like merging some of them? I would even be willing to give up my beloved toon's name for being able to have fun again.
Cross-realm zones are definitely our first move toward improving the play experience for low-pop servers (or even medium population).

Beyond just the fact that the world will be more populated, the ability to make friends at the battle tag level (since that friendship level is cross-server) combined with the ability to do group content with those players represents a huge step forward in the ability for players on smaller servers to access a huge community to play with.

With regard to the auction house, I can imagine a future where we might decide to make auction houses cross-server. It's not something to jump into lightly, but there may be ways to design a cross-realm auction house that ensures a viable economy without getting "too big".

I'm curious as to why WoW still doesn't promote players actually playing together in an open world environment. You are interested in making CRZ bring the zones to life with more people, but yet nothing is done to promote actual player interaction.
I think it's a fair criticism that too often your response to seeing another player (even of the same faction) is negative because it means more competition rather than positive because it means more cooperation.

We're concerned that just turning off mob tapping would lead to everyone just joining the raid in that zone to share experience. This was common back in the farming furbolg days, and we don't see any reason why players wouldn't still gravitate towards the most efficient way to level. However, there are some other ideas we can explore to encourage cooperation without mandating it.

The FAQ says that CRZ will not be implemented for capital cities. How come Darnassus, Exodar, and Ironforge are being Cross Realmed?
Cities should not be merged. If that's happening, it's a bug. It is also possible that you are seeing groups formed of friends who invited Real ID or Battle Tag friends to adventure with them. One of the benefits we get from CRZ is being able to quest with friends from other realms.

Why are full/high population servers suffering CRZ when they actually have their own population out and about in zones?
We have a target number of players for a zone. If you're on a high pop realm, then in general you won't get merged as often with other realms. However, CRZ is more static than say Dungeon Finder. The latter can spin up more instances as needed. With CRZ, we didn't want realms to be merged and unmerged constantly. If you saw someone in Silverpine, we wanted the possibility that you would also run into them in Hilsbrad. Now that the system is live, we'll gain a lot of data to help calibrate actual zone populations better. If our estimates were off and a zone is too full, then we'll merge it with fewer realms or not merge it at all. But that will take some time to adjust -- it doesn't adjust on the fly.

Can we get CRZ turned off during the Fishing Derby and STV Fishing Tournament? Fighting against your own server was bad enough, now you're fighting against multiple servers, AND people jumping onto your server with the Shark/40 Fish already caught to win it as soon as it starts
CRZ isn't intended to affect fishing tournaments. We'll get that fixed if the patch today didn't fix it.

What is the benefit to players on a PvE server of CRZ? For a player whose primary purpose in being out in the world is not world PvP, what good does CRZ bring? If it doesn't improve gameplay, why is it in the game?

So far it has resulted only in trouble completing quests, difficulty farming mats for anything, a vast decrease in the likelihood of finding a rare spawn of any type, and an increase in the prevalence of trolls and bots in my daily play.

CRZ is intended to make emptier zones, especially low level ones, less empty. WoW is an MMO and we think it's more fun when you see other players while you're out adventuring (and perhaps even group up with them).

We understand some players have gotten used to the idea of farming nodes or rares without any competition, but we designed all of those features with a certain population in mind. At the end of the day, WoW isn't a single player game.

CRZ won't fix the economy for underpopulated realms and it wasn't intended to. It will make it easier to group with friends from other realms, or to help you make new friends (or just someone to quest with).

There are some bugs with the feature that we are working through, and we understand players can't easily tell what's a bug from what is intended. I also think CRZ has become a bit of a bogeyman, blamed for some bugs that it has nothing to do with.

Another problem with CRZ: You may control Wintergrasp in your realm, but when you fly to it, sometimes the other faction controls it.
Wintergrasp and Tol Barad aren't intended to be merged together. Hopefully that was fixed today.

We understand that seeing rare spawns that end up not being there can be frustrated. We would like to have what you see in the air match reality.

With all of the complaints this system has been receiving over the past few days, are you planning to change anything and/or address any of the player's concerns? (Some things that obviously aren't bugs, like cross-realm "farming" of Darkmoon Rabbits.)
The Darkmoon Rabbit issues are a bug. We'll definitely make other changes based on player feedback. For example, we changed the rules to only merge time zones within 3 hours of each other. If that still feels odd, we can lower that threshold even more.

We can try to get a post out to specify what is a bug or not.

You have flat out said that servers that already had a hurting economy will continue to hurt further. It is insulting moreso to state that people did not have competition for rares before. There is a difference between competition and sheer impossibility. Is Blizzard honestly willing to lose the amount of players they will in the name of this terrible idea?
I said that CRZ wasn't intended to fill up the auction houses of realms with low auction activity. That wasn't the goal of the feature, so blaming it for not achieving that goal isn't terribly fair.

Perhaps this has already been asked, but what's the deal with the spam of 'skills learned' every time I enter a new zone?
That is a bug and our engineers are working on fixing it. It should be something we can hotfix.

World
Why did blizzard decide not to rebuild org and sw in this expansion?
I wish I had a better response to this, but the truth is that our team was focused on making Pandaria itself absolutely beautiful. Stormwind and Orgrimmar are complex pieces of architecture, and while there's a great story reason to fix them, there's no gameplay that results from that work.

I think we all want to see the gates of Stormwind patched up, but it'll take some time. Apparently the King has a bad track record with the local masons....

Could every one of you tell me what are your favorite scrapped ideas, and could you elaborate why those ideas just didn't lift off the ground?
Personally, Azjol (first as a zone, then as a raid) was one of the scrapped ideas I was saddest to let go. I love the idea of deepearth / underdark (Deepholm was cool, but really more of a single huge cavern than a network) and particularly coupled with the alien architecture of the nerubians. I was sad we weren't able to do more with them in the LK expansion, but I hope we can revisit them someday.

Lore / Story
I can still remember the Wrathgate cinematic starting up on my screen, completely unexpected. I burst into a huge, nerdy grin at the idea that the game's storytelling was heading in this direction. WoW's visual style is so well-suited to those specially-animated cutscenes; it's like watching the coolest cartoon ever. I know those must take a long time to plan and create, but I sincerely hope they keep coming!
Hopefully this isn't too buried, I wanted to talk briefly about cutscenes. If you've been playing the game since vanilla, you know that our storytelling is constantly evolving. We're always trying new things.

When it comes to full-on cinematics, we definitely have more of them in Pandaria. They highlight KEY moments in the game and the lore; you'll see one when you first get your mission to go to Pandaria, and there's a whopper of a movie when you play through the climax of the Jade Forest. This stuff is AWESOME, we've got a great team who's put together some really magical pre-rendered moments.

HOWEVER!

It's way more important to us to convey story through gameplay, not movies. To that end, there's a lot of "less flashy" stuff we do in Pandaria to surround your character with story as you play. NPCs will seamlessly start to follow you or fight with you, the environment will change around you as you do things, and we try to have a lot more key lore characters directly involved in your experience. We're trying to do all of these things without breaking players into different phases constantly (there's less phasing in Pandaria than in previous expansions), and we're trying to do it without having super-linear zones anymore.

It's tricky. I can't say we've "nailed it." But I think Pandaria has the best in-game storytelling we've ever had in an expansion. I'm really looking forward to seeing it all play out!!

Why did Thrall let Gallywix Live if he's a slaveowner? Why did Thrall ever even allow Slavery in the Horde?
Thrall's vision of the Horde is a refuge for people in need. He's a helpful guy. The Bilgewater Goblins just had their home destroyed, and they were refugees (he can certainly relate to that). They helped him in the Lost Isles, so he offered them a home. Presumably he'd put a stop to any slave trade (the player characters don't remain slaves once they join the Horde.)

Of course... afterwards he was no longer the Warchief. Garrosh was probably a lot more hands-off of the goblins, so long as they showed their usefulness - as they demonstrated immediately in Azshara.

How pleased are you with the lore and storyline in MoP? Any hints or teasers? Thanks, keep up the good work.
The story for Mists was a real challenge because we wanted to tell a story that didn't have a big giant villain on the cover of the box. I'm immensely pleased with how it all came together; it's a real journey. After the widespread destruction of Cataclysm, Pandaria is a great change of pace. You can really delve in and explore a beautiful place.

We kick things off with a bang and then strang you on the continent to fend for yourself. You'll get to know the locals, solve some local problems, and learn what makes this land so different from the rest of Azeroth.

We've got a whole story arc planned out for the subsequent patches, where the war between the Alliance and Horde really heats up and splashes onto Pandaria itself. The pandaren force us to question what we're really fighting over - perhaps ultimately, it's a story about the factions defining who they want to be.

Don't worry - just because there's no villain on the box doesn't mean you won't be fighting for your life against some really brutal badasses...

Would Queen Azshara lead an attack on the shores of Pandaria after the war between the factions is calmed down?
Queen Azshara - what's she been up to there under the sea? Glorious things!! But... nothing that we're going to see in 5.0. Pandaria is safe from her advances for now.

Are Koltira Deathweaver and Sylvanas Windrunner showing up in Mists of Pandaria?
Sylvanas will DEFINITELY play a role in the Alliance and Horde conflict. We might not catch up with her until one of the later patches. We've been debating on whether or not we catch up with Koltira now or later... The guy's in bad straights.

Is the story of the Knights of the Ebon Blade over? Is Darion Mograine finally in peace? Why isn't him the questgiver on the new Scarlet Monastery dungeons? It would be quite fitting.
There are many many loose ends in the Warcraft lore, and often we pick them up later and run with them. What are the Knights of the Ebon Blade up to? Ahhhh... we'll probably catch up with them eventually, when they're doing something cool. (But not in Pandaria...)

Is Thrall going to lead an attack against Garrosh?
It's hard to tackle these questions without just straight-up spoiling stuff. I argue that the best stories are experienced through gameplay.

So: Thrall. Obviously Thrall feels that Garrosh is his mistake. We explored some of his emotions around this in the "Elemental Bonds" questline in patch 4.2. For that reason, he'll DEFINITELY play a role in the ultimate conflict in Orgrimmar. But maybe not the role you'd expect.

He'll be lying low in 5.0, but the current plan is for you to catch up with him in 5.1. (That content is still in development, so don't hold me to that.)

Also, Horde and Alliance players will be happy to know that he'll be focused on Horde content this time around, not a neutral NPC helping both factions (which made sense in Cataclysm, but overwhelmingly the feedback is players want to see him be Hordey again. Yeah, I just made that word up.)

Would there ever be a raid or dungeon that would happen to be an attack on a city such as Stormwind or Orgrimmar?
It would be difficult to dislodge a warchief without an attack on Orgrimmar. Oh man. I AM FIRED UP.

Are we having more questlines like Angrathar the Wrath Gate?
I guess this depends on what you think defines that event. Are you asking for more quests that have an awesome climactic cinematic? Are you asking for more quests that require you to do a whole lot of things over one or more zones before it all comes together? Are you asking for quests where you delve into major cities for huge lore events?

The answer is: Yes, yes, and ... yes.

Although these events are few and far between - we want them to feel special. And some big events will happen in the patches. Glad you liked the Wrathgate! It was a big milestone for WoW storytelling.

During your recent Cdev, you stated that it wasn't an Old God underneath Tirisfal. Any chance you could give us any kind of hint as to what's down there? Any tidbit of info would be awesome.
I hate to do this, but I didn't want to leave you hanging without an answer. My answer is: We're not saying. Not yet.

Are we going to get more Old God lore in Mists?
Obviously the Old Gods have had a major impact all over the world. They aren't directly pulling any strings in Pandaria, however, you can still feel the cold grip of their influence, many thousands of years later. If you're interested in the lore, you owe it to yourself to reach exalted with the Klaxxi faction to learn a little more about their origins.

How many novels are planned to be released over this expansion? Also, since you have stated Garrosh is the main antagonist during your big MoP reveal, do you feel you've hurt opportunities to write more exciting novels to build up this already hyped epic battle we will eventually experience in-game?
I'm glad you enjoyed the novel! Golden is a fantastic author who works very closely with us to do justice to the franchise.

If you're getting psyched about the storyline, I think you'll love the next novel which focuses on Vol'jin. Have you played the troll 1-10 intro experience? Vol'jin flat-out tells Garrosh he doesn't trust him and he'll stab him in the back the moment he sees an opportunity. The novel carries his story forward and really meshes in with the events of patch 5.1.

One of our ongoing goals is to make sure that the games and novels compliment each other, and that major lore events don't happen in the novels without some kind of representation in-game. This is a huge challenge for us!! But I think we're getting better at it.

Given what Sylvanas and the Forsaken have been up to regarding the Plague, isn't it inevitable that her desire to "procreate" the undead will bring the Forsaken into direct conflict with all the living factions (Horde and Alliance both)?
Well, first she'd have to run out of corpses, so from that perspective, the war is REALLY helping the Forsaken out...

This is a good question, because the nature of the Forsaken makes them a really unstable ally. That leads to some great stories. At the moment, Sylvanas is fortifying her position - she's making a landgrab, she's fortifying her borders, she's using the Valkyr to boost her numbers... But what's her long-term plan?

At least Garrosh called her out on it. What will the next Warchief do about it? Better question: What if SYLVANAS is the next Warchief? Oh man.

Is he going to retire from the calm Far-Seer position he got himself into in Cataclysm and get back as the old fearsome Thrall we had known in Warcraft III?
We really want to show Thrall developing as a character, not moving backwards. He's learned a lot about himself after Cataclysm. He'll continue defining himself in the wake of Mists...

Arathi Highlands has the potential to be a real epic convergence of a lot of stories, the Forsaken warmachine was last seen setting up camp here, Stromgarde sits eagerly awaiting revival as well as being the last line of defense between the Forsaken and Khaz Modan, giving the Dwarves and interesting stake in it. What are your plans with this zone, if any?
Agree completely. But, it's unlikely we'll revisit old zones once again. Until the next Cataclysm...

The last official timeline puts Wrath of the Lich King at Year 27. However, there is contradictory information regarding Cataclysm's place in the timeline. Sources such as the Cataclysm manga, the Shattering, and Anduin's age would seem to indicate fairly solidly that it sits a year after Wrath of the Lich King (Year 28). However, Matoclaw's reference to the battle of Hyjal being "a decade ago" and the Deadmines intro quest that says VanCleef died five years ago suggest that it's actually three years after Wrath (Year 30). What is Cataclysm's proper place in the timeline?
This is the most red-shirtiest of questions so far! Congrats!

But it's a good question.

Matoclaw was just estimating when she says "a decade ago." It was closer to ... what, seven years I think?

I can tell you that the quest team is definitely being a little ambitious with Anduin - we write him as though he's 17 or so, but in reality his age is younger.

And since we're being honest, we're intentionally a little bit vague about exact time periods in-game. The content we put in will be played for years, so sometimes things get a little ... spongy.

Rexxar Champion of the Horde would be the best candidate for Warchief wouldn't you agree? As he said he would never join the Horde unless it really needs him, but also the wild is his home.
Rexxar for Warchief! Who's with me!?

First, Jaina's official status is in limbo. While she declares that she's "anti-Garrosh" that seems to be the extent of her disdain for the Horde.
GREAT questions! Re: Jaina. The novel gets inside her head and traces all of her reactions before, during, and after Theramore. [Spoilers!] At the end she's heading up the Kirin-Tor, and she really sees them as a beacon of light that will help the world ultimately move forward and on from the war. EXCEPT... her story doesn't end there. We'll catch up with her in the patches.

My second question pertains to a subject that's highly controversial on the forums, which is Lordaeron. This is not a question about whether the Forsaken qualify as the rightful owners or not (I don't want to touch that subject with a ten foot pole), but rather in how the Alliance's position there is and what the Alliance's motivations are combined with what we see in Tides of War.
Re: Lordaeron. Without having the book in front of me, I'm not sure which passage you're talking about. The Alliance can't retake Lordaeron until they get to it; Sylvanas held them off at Andorhal, as depicted in-game.

What's Varian been up to? Well, after focusing on the Lich King, he wasn't using Alliance military might to conquer new territory. He used it to, among other things, provide aid and rescue the Gilneans. Does this make him a bad leader, or a noble one? That's a good question.

The Sha have really interested me going into MoP. How significant are these strange negative beings going to be in the overall story and plot of Pandaria? What makes them unique to the continent of Pandaria? And in that vein, do they pose a threat to all of Azeroth?
Great question! Sha energy is CENTRAL to the story in Pandaria. It's the reason that pandaren culture has evolved along the lines it has. (If you're really curious about the Lore, follow the story of the Last Pandaren Emperor by finding all of his lore objects hidden in the world and talking to Lorewalker Cho.)

The arrival of the Alliance and Horde on the continent really uncorks the bottle - this long suppressed energy explodes out, causing havoc from coast to coast. You can earn the trust of the wary pandaren by helping to clean up your mess. There's a real cultural exchange that happens: The pandaren learn a lot about the Alliance and Horde, and hopefully the factions learn a lot about the pandaren that they can apply to their own situation.

At a deeper level, there's a lot of symbology with the sha, which is good from a storytelling perspective. There are some wonderful moments in the game - one of my favorite stories has to do with a Shado-Pan warrior dealing with the death of her husband, which opens up her heart to the Sha of Hatred.

If you're intrigued by the concept, you'll find that the sha plays a big role in a lot of the quests, dungeons, and raids. Sweet!

Is the sha a threat to Azeroth as a whole? Possibly. I'd be more worried about the orc with the nukes.

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