MMO-Champion - World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies

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by Published on 2012-02-28 05:07 PM

Diablo 3 - Beta Contests Over, Patch 13 Class Changes, Curse Weekly Roundup

World of Warcraft Patch 4.3.3
The new 64-bit client is now live. (Windows and Mac)
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Bug Fixes
  • Fixed several client-side bugs.

General
  • Modified code and content support for the Scroll of Resurrection system.

Cataclysm Post Mortem -- Quest Design with Dave "Fargo" Kosak
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
To kick-off our World of Warcraft: Cataclysm post mortem series, we sat down with World of Warcraft Lead Quest Designer Dave “Fargo” Kosak to discuss his thoughts on questing in Cataclysm.

Q: What were your main goals going into Cataclysm?
Certainly from a quest design standpoint our primary goal with Cataclysm was to remake the old world, specifically the 1-60 questing experience. World of Warcraft was released in 2004, and we've learned so much in the years since about what constitutes good MMO gameplay. We wanted to make sure that the game was relevant to new players coming in, and walking up and down the length of the Barrens on foot over and over just didn’t do it for us anymore.

Remaking the entire old world -- 46 zones! -- was ambitious. Actually, it was ludicrous. It was like re-releasing a whole game in the course of an expansion cycle. Then we added a couple new races and their starting zones on top of that. I’m not sure how we convinced ourselves we could make it happen, but somehow we pulled it together.

Q: Are you happy with how the old world re-vamp turned out?
I am. Leveling up a new character to 60 nowadays is a great deal of fun. Every zone has stories to play out, with interesting nooks and crannies and plenty of hidden gems or references for players who remember the pre-Cataclysm world. Zones like Ashenvale now live up to their premise (intense Horde-vs.-Alliance combat), and previously empty zones now have a lot of character (see: Azshara). The content just flows. It's still World of Warcraft, but the quests have a modern feel, with lots of action and storytelling.


Q: But what didn't work out so well?
We really spread ourselves thin and taxed the team. The original plan was to totally re-do a handful of high-priority zones, but to leave a lot of the zones that worked mostly alone. We categorized them into "red," "yellow," and "green" zones. The idea behind the green zones (for example, Loch Modan) was just to tweak the quest flow to be a little smoother, but not to make any major changes.

The reality is that even the green zones really needed a lot of love. Once we got in there, it was all or nothing: we ended up completely re-doing a lot of green zones so that they met our new quest design standards. We came up with a nickname: "watermelon" zones. They were green on the outside, until you got in there and started poking around. . . .

Where that hurt us was when it came time to do the max-level content, the 80-85 zones. The content there turned out well, but the experience is inconsistent across the board -- Uldum feels totally different from Hyjal, which in turn feels different from Vashj'ir. The design decisions and efforts we made didn't always yield the desired results.

Q: Tell us more about the level 80-85 zones -- what worked and didn’t?

We were aiming for a really global feel with Cataclysm, so we set the max-level zones in varied environments all over the world (underwater, across deserts, in the elemental plane of earth, etc). However, as a result, they ended up not feeling as connected as we'd like. You get widely different experiences in zones that aren’t geographically related to one another. That's something important that we're keeping in mind moving forward – World of Warcraft works best when there's a sense of place. A connected world to explore.

We feel the storytelling in Cataclysm was strong. Whether assembling the ancients in Hyjal, rescuing your drowned crew in Vashj'ir, or reassembling the world pillar in Deepholm, there’s a strong sense of plot in every zone. Players participated in stirring stories, like bringing the Dragonmaw into the Horde via a violent coup or reuniting the Wildhammer Dwarves with a crazy wedding. These were memorable moments and shared experiences.

The downside to creating these stories is that the zones on the whole ended up being way too linear. For example, because we wanted to show your character re-growing the burning devastation of Mount Hyjal, there was really only one way to play that zone: you started at point A, and you worked your way through to point Z. Pretty glorious the first time, but frustrating on your second or third character because there's only one way to do it, and no way to skip around. That's a lesson we’re going to carry forward for sure. We want big sweeping stories, but we want to give players the freedom to explore those stories on their own terms.

Q: Places like Hyjal also used a lot of phasing to show the world changing.
We have a massive phase shift halfway through the story that changes the terrain for nearly a third of the zone. It's epic, right? But it can be a real pain for players when so much of the world changes like that. Phasing is like a story sledgehammer: it gets the job done, but at best it splits up players and at worst it totally confuses them.

We're going to be a lot more careful going forward. The Firelands dailies in patch 4.2 gives you a much better idea of our future direction. There were sweeping visual changes to the world as you progressed, but there’s very little actual phasing. For the most part, everyone is playing together on the same map. That’s important to us. Looking ahead, we’re going to be a lot smarter about how we show changes to the world, and we’re going to do everything we can to avoid splitting players up.


Q: Talk more about the 4.2 patch. Were the Firelands dailies a hint of what’s to come?
Definitely. With those dailies we were able to engage a lot of players, myself included. (I was the first quest designer on the team to get the mount and all the achievements on the live servers -- suck it up, slackers!) Previously, "doing dailies" meant hitting the same quest givers for the same three quests, usually in a static place. Here we were able to deliver a sense of progression and a story that unfurled over the course of a few weeks, all as you did a constantly changing set of quest objectives in a dynamic environment. We think that worked out well.

Moving forward, we're going to look for more opportunities like this -- ways to keep people engaged and cool things to do solo with your max-level character. We've got ambitious plans.

Q: Patch 4.2 also had the Aggra and Thrall questline, "Elemental Bonds." Did that meet your expectations? How do you feel about Thrall's character development?
That's a tricky one -- we’ve got mixed feelings. The essential story is a good one, and we really wanted to portray all the inner struggles Thrall is going through. Here’s a guy that stepped down as Warchief and had to rediscover himself as a shaman in order to save the world. And he's haunted by his decisions: he’s afraid of what’s to come, paralyzed by doubt, angry at what Garrosh did to Cairne . . . the guy's a mess. We figured out a way to show all that internal tension, and we wrapped it up in a story that demonstrates how his mate, Aggra, will literally go to the ends of the world to pull him through this. It's a powerful love story, and a story about finding one’s inner focus.


But we had to do a lot of things to make it work in the game. We needed to make a quest that 500 people could do simultaneously without getting in each other's way. We wanted a quest that players could do solo, no matter what their skill level. We didn’t know if the player was decked out in raid gear or level 85 greens, so we had to keep it simple. We somehow made all of it work under those restrictions, and we filled the screen with some killer imagery (I love the vision of Thrall immersed in the Abyssal Maw). But ultimately the quests themselves ended up not being as compelling from a gameplay perspective as we would have liked. Many players blew through them once and never looked back.

I really think we can do better. Cataclysm was in many ways Thrall’s story, but it was hard for players to follow his development over the course of the expansion. Going forward we want to convey a clearer narrative, delivered in the context of solid gameplay. We have some ideas on how to do that, and we’re also going to keep experimenting. This is important to us -- we talk about ways to tackle this problem all the time.

Q: The Cataclysm patches also saw the debut of some legendary weapons: Dragonwrath and the Fangs of the Father. Will future legendaries be this, uh, legendary?
Good question. We love class-specific content, but quest lines like those are very resource-intensive. Each sequence involves weeks of development focus that takes content away from dungeons, dailies, or outdoor zones.


The feedback from players (and from our own team) has been overwhelmingly positive. Dragonwrath proved to be extremely popular, and allowed caster classes to get a front-row seat for major lore moments otherwise reserved only for dragons. Meanwhile, Fangs of the Father was pure rogue, from the theme to the mechanics. It was super-targeted and extremely fun -- it proved to us the value of focusing in on a specific class and tailoring the content to their abilities. Given that the audience for these weapons consists of badass raiders, we didn’t hold back on the difficulty either, so these quests were great for people who wanted a real challenge.

The short answer is yes, we'll definitely continue doing these moving forward. Most likely future legendary quest lines will be built similar to the rogue experience: a couple key story moments, a lot of flavor, and some very specific challenges. But I wouldn't expect very many quest lines like these. Like legendary weapons themselves, they're going to be rare and special.

Q: We haven't even talked about goblins and worgen yet. What lessons did you take away from the new racial starting zones?
In both cases, the starting areas really sold the character and tone of the new races. The worgen area is so marvelously gothic, and Kezan is unmistakably unique and gobliny. The art and the quests all work together to establish a racial character. So that’s a big win.

As for the mechanics themselves, I’m glad we were so experimental, but our general feeling now that all is said and done is that we went a little too ‘gimmicky’ with the player’s initial experiences. Everyone can agree that the goblin experience gets pretty wild in places.

That's a big lesson we're carrying away from the expansion as a whole.

Q: Can you elaborate?
Overwhelmingly, players have told us that they want more quests where you have to flap a giant bird around a cave while targeting creatures in a 3D space.

Q: Seriously?

Maybe not . . . But moving forward, we're re-focusing on core gameplay mechanics. World of Warcraft works best when you’ve got your boots on the ground and you get to play your class. To that end, we’re concentrating on giving players lots of fun combat challenges in continually changing environments, wrapped up in a terrific story that’s propelled forward by the quests. Whenever we do special mechanics, we want them to feel special, and they’ll never tear you away from combat for very long. Our goal is to load up the world with lots of interactive spaces, cool encounters, great characters, and neat spaces to explore. That’s part of the reason we’re keeping you grounded (literally) in Pandaria, and why we’re focusing on a single continent. But I’m getting ahead of myself. We’ll talk more about Pandaria soon enough.

Q: Looking forward to it. Thanks for your time!
Not a problem!
by Published on 2012-02-28 03:36 AM

Statistics: Heroic Dragon Soul Encounter Difficulty
Today we continue our ongoing statistics by taking a look at the relative difficulty of the encounters in Dragon Soul. As always with the API, there are limitations that prevent us from discriminating between players who completed the encounter in 25 man or 10 man mode, so keep in mind that these numbers contain both raid sizes summed together.

The sample size was ~5.7 million level 85 characters, with ~290k that have defeated the Heroic Morchok encounter. Keep in mind that the sample contains many alts, which makes the absolute numbers look lower than they are in reality. This means that we are looking at encounter difficulty relative to the easiest encounter, not the percent of the player population that completed each encounter.

Don't see a chart? Enable javascript!

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
What Was Vanilla WoW Like?
I was actually chatting just last night with someone who had started playing shortly after Cataclysm launched.

I have lots of great memories of adventures that have spanned from when World of Warcraft first launched through to the present day. The game has evolved quite a bit over the years, and I’m especially thankful for the many quality of life upgrades that were made along the way.

Way back when, you could only get a mount starting at level 40, so it took quite a bit of time to travel around Azeroth on foot. Flight points were by far the fastest modes of transportation, but you could only use them if you first hoofed your way over and discovered each Flight Master individually. When you used flight points you also could only travel directly from one to the next. They didn’t automatically connect to your final destination like they do now. So you’d have to make your way to the first point, talk to the flight master, fly to the next point, talk to the flight master, and so on. Accessing dungeons or raids also required additional travel time, as you had to make your way to them manually, and there were no mass summons or personal flying mounts back in that era that could speed up the process, either. So assembling five people for a dungeon run involved quite a bit of waiting around while people slowly made their way to the particular dungeon. It often took even longer for raids to get up and running because you’d be waiting for 40 people instead of just 25 or 10.

Battlegrounds and Arenas (both of which I relish) also did not launch with the original game. The first two Battlegrounds areas, Alterac Valley and Warsong Gulch, went live on June 7th, 2005, and you had to physically travel out in the world to the particular Battleground portal for each location in order to queue for them. As there was no time or resource limit on those games, they could run very long, and indeed some Alterac Valley matches on the servers I played on at the time could span multiple hours or even, in some cases, multiple days. For Battlegrounds, specifically, there were no cross-realm Battlegroups originally, so you could only face-off against opponents from your individual realm that were on the opposite faction. Way back then, you also couldn’t step up and challenge another guild on your own faction to an all-out War Game in Warsong Gulch, either, because War Games didn’t even exist until shortly after Cataclysm launched.

Travel around Azeroth and assembling groups for anything from PvP to dungeon runs and raiding is much more efficient now than it was in classic times. I think it’s especially fantastic being able to freely roam around the world and do other activities while you wait. Then, once the group is assembled, you can teleport directly into battle with your comrades as well as your friends from other realms (thanks to the advent of Real ID’s cross-realm support). And that’s, well… awesome. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Global Writing Contest
Instead of the Global Writing Contest this year, would you all be interested in a poetry contest?

If so, what kind of parameters would you like to see set on the contest entries? (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Patch 4.3.3 64-bit Client
Originally Posted by Jurannok (Blue Tracker)
If you are currently testing the 64-bit client, in order to patch up to 4.3.3 you will need to remove the 64-bit files to allow the patching process to complete. With the 64-bit client files in place you will receive the error: Blizzard Updater failed with an internal error.

Simply delete the 64-bit files listed below from the World of Warcraft folder, and the patching process will resume after going through a short repair process.

Windows
Battle.net-64.dll
MovieProxy.exe
WoW-64.exe

Mac
World of Warcraft-64.app

A new version of the 64-bit client files will be available for 4.3.3 after the patch is live. Please keep an eye on the 64-bit client forum thread for updated files.

DiabloFans Calculator Build Contest Has Started!
Our friends over at DiabloFans are holding a contest that involves picking the best build for your character. The 50 randomly selected winners will get a Diablo III beta key!

The contest ends 2/28/2012 at 5 PM EST, so make sure to get your entry in before then if you want a chance to win.



Guild Wars 2 Beta
Guild Wars 2 recently opened sign ups for future beta events and got over one million applications in just 48 hours. The accepted players will be able to participate in a beta event closer to the end of March. If you are looking for like people to play with, take a look at our Guild Wars 2 forum.

by Published on 2012-02-26 08:51 PM

Diablo 3 - Calculator Build Contest Starting Soon, Blue Posts, Beta Screenshots

Patch 4.3.3 on Live Realms (probably) this Week
The final version of Patch 4.3.3 (Build 15354) hit the Blizzard download servers and it means the patch will most likely go live this week. This build seems to be the right one (unless something terrible happens, as usual, but it almost never does).


This patch doesn't really have anything interesting for players, it's mostly a bug fix patch with a way to consolidate most of the Patch 4.3 hotfixes into the game files to display them properly.

If you are testing the 64-bit client, make sure to remove it before the patch, as it blocks the update from working correctly. You can find the full list of files to remove in the support article. There is no new 64-bit client uploaded yet, so you will have to make do with the old 32-bit client until an update is released.


The only significant change is the refinement of the Scroll of Resurrection interface. The new strings hint at the 5 unused invite limit being changed into a daily limit, along with the newly listed 100 limit in Account Management.

Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
  • SOR_DEFAULT_MESSAGE - "Remember the good times in WoW? I do, so it's time to come back!"
  • SOR_DISABLE_CHOOSE_A_TARGET - "Select someone to send the invite to."
  • SOR_DISABLE_NO_INVITES_LEFT - "You cannot send any more invites today."
  • SOR_INSTRUCTION_EMAIL - "Enter an E-mail address:"
  • SOR_INSTRUCTION_SELECT - "Select a friend or guild member:"
  • SOR_NUM_REMAINING - "Invites left today: %d"
  • SOR_SUCCESSFULLY_SENT - "Your Scroll of Resurrection has been sent!"



Computers - Setup of the Month (by chaud)
Each month or every 2 months, depending on the hardware evolutions, the lovely chaud will work on a couple of hardware setups for those of you who are thinking of upgrading their computer!

This month
Hard drives remain expensive, so now is still a good time to buy a SSD, as the next generation is a while away and the current prices are fairly flat, with sales bringing the cost very close to $1 per gigabyte.

New Ivy Bridge CPUs from Intel are rumored to be released in April still, so if you are not in a hurry they will be a nice upgrade from Sandy Bridge. The current motherboards should support the new CPUs.

The new 7970 GPU from AMD has been released and can be had for ~$580 if you can find it in stock. The 7950 is ~$450 and the 7770 is ~$160 and overpriced for the performance. The more interesting GPUs, 7850 and 7870, should be here soon as well. New GPUs from Nvidia likely won't be here before April or May.

Make sure to keep your AMD and Nvidia drivers up to date.

Don't hesitate to post any feedback in the comments of that news post, and don't forget to visit the Computer Forum for any extra questions! If you are interested in Folding@home, take a look in our team's thread.

Peripherals/Monitors
ComponentPuppy Dolphin
MonitorASUS VW224U 22-Inch Widescreen - $134ASUS VW246H 24-Inch Widescreen - $216
KeyboardMicrosoft Digital Media Keyboard 3000 - $23Cyborg V.5 - $50
MouseLogitech G400 - $37Razer Deathadder - $51
SpeakersLogitech S220 2.1 Speaker System - $23Logitech Z313 Speaker System - $43
ComponentNarwhal Unicorn
MonitorASUS VE276Q 27-Inch - $260HP ZR24w 24-inch (IPS Panel) - $368
KeyboardLogitech G110 - $80Razer BlackWidow (Backlit)- $70 ($112)
MouseLogitech G500 - $59Razer Naga (Buttons on the Side) - $68
SpeakersCreative Inspire T3130 2.1 Speaker System - $45Logitech Speaker System Z523 - $81


Puppy and Dolphin
Overclocked Puppy will outperform Dolphin when multiple threads are in use (Not WoW) and come close in most other cases.
Mix and match anything but the CPU/Motherboard combo between Puppy and Dolphin. Mix and match anything between Dolphin and Narwhal.
ComponentPuppy Dolphin
CaseNZXT GAMMA Classic - $50NZXT GAMMA Classic - $50
Power SupplyCorsair CX500 V2 - $57Corsair CX600 V2 - $69
CPUAMD Phenom II X4 960T Black Edition- $132Intel i3-2100 - $120
HeatsinkCooler Master Hyper 212 Plus - $24Corsair Air Series A70 - $42
MotherboardASUS M5A97 AM3+ 970 - $95Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 - $118
Memory4GB PNY Optima DDR3 10600 - $214GB G.Skill Ripjaws F3 12800 DDR3 - $41
Graphics CardXFX 6770 - $95XFX 6870 or EVGA GTX 560 - $160 / $170
Hard DriveWestern Digital Caviar Blue 500GB - $86Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB - $145
DVDAsus 24X SATA DVD+/-RW - $21Asus 24X SATA DVD+/-RW - $21
Total$581$766 / 776


Narwhal and Unicorn
All of these parts can be mixed and matched to create a build between Narwhal and Unicorn. SSDs are always optional.
ComponentNarwhal Unicorn
CaseCooler Master HAF 912 - $60Cooler Master HAF932 - $130
Power SupplyCorsair 650TX V2 - $90Corsair 750HX - $144
CPUIntel i5-2500k - $225Intel i7-2600k - $330
HeatsinkThermaltake Frio - $55Noctua 6 NH-D14 - $85
MotherboardGigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 - $154ASUS Z68 P8Z68-V/GEN3 - $180
Memory8GB G.Skill DDR3 12800 - $588GB G.Skill DDR3 12800 - $58
Graphics CardXFX 6950 1GB OR EVGA GTX 560 Ti- $225/ $230XFX 6970 2GB OR EVGA GTX 570 - $330
Hard DriveWestern Digital 1TB Caviar Black - $146Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black - $146
SSDCrucial 128 GB m4 (Review) - $150
OR
Corsair Force Series GT 120 GB - $171
Intel 510 Series 120 GB (Review) - $244
OR
OCZ 120 GB Vertex 3 (Review) - $150
DVDAsus 24X SATA DVD+/-RW - $21Asus 24X SATA DVD+/-RW - $21
Total$1034 - $1210$1574 - $1668



Fan Art Update
The World of Warcraft Fan Art Section has been updated with eight new pieces of fan artwork.





MMO-Report
The MMO Report has The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and Uncle Casey's Mail Bag this week!

by Published on 2012-02-25 05:54 AM

Diablo 3 - Skill Calculator and Diablo III In-Development -- Class Skills

Italian Version of World of Warcraft is Coming to Europe
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We have exciting news for our many Italian players: you will soon be able to play WoW in your native language!

Existing players will be able to download a free language pack to experience the game in Italian when it launches later this year.

Gamers in Europe will also be able to purchase fully localized versions of World of Warcraft (which now includes its first expansion, The Burning Crusade) and its three following expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, and the upcoming Mists of Pandaria.

The games will be available for purchase at retail and digitally through your Battle.net account.

Of course, the official World of Warcraft website and forums will be offered in Italian, and we’ll also be opening up Italian realms!

Stay tuned for more information on a release date in the coming months.

A few years ago we noted that Blizzard was hiring for Italian and Polish positions. There was finally an announcement today regarding the upcoming Italian localization of the game!

This time around Blizzard has added more Polish speaking positions on their employment page. They were also hiring for Turkish speaking positions in the past, though all of those appear to have been filled now. There is a possibility that we will see a Turkish localization in the future, but keep in mind that it took years from the first Italian postings for us to see the localization.

The Battle.net Mobile Authenticator was updated was updated recently to add Italian and Polish support. This points to a strong possibility for a Polish localization in the future. However, it is possible they are localizing things other than World of Warcraft, so don't get your hopes up yet!

Keep in mind that has been no official announcement about any other localizations and the job postings don't mean that other localizations will happen anytime soon, if at all.


Statistics: Insane in the Membrane
Today we take a look at the rate at which people are completing Insane in the Membrane! The sample size was ~5.6 million level 85 characters with a total of ~11,000 that have the achievement.

Departing from the way we normally graph the numbers, this graph shows the number of new achievements earned each week, not the total. You can see the big spikes recently caused by the new Darkmoon Faire have boosted the number of people with the achievement. Previously the faire coming to town would cause much smaller spikes.

Don't see a chart? Enable javascript!

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Resilience In Mists of Pandaria
Just as a heads up for you all, Ghostcrawler is currently in the process of writing up a blog that will include some information pertaining to the changes that are on their way in Mists of Pandaria for stats, Resilience included. I would recommend keeping your eyes on our blog over the coming weeks to catch a glimpse of what is to come. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blizzard Art
Blizzard has added five more pieces to the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Art galleries.




Free to Play MMO Survey
What do you think of free-to-play MMOs? Curse is interested in your opinion! Spend a moment taking our survey and let us know what you think!

by Published on 2012-02-24 03:58 AM

Diablo 3 - Message from Jay, Skill Runes and Choices, Changes, Login Issues, EU PayPal, Item Customization

Patch 4.3.2 Hotfixes - February 23
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
General
  • A completed character race change should no longer clear your active quests.
  • Multiple hunters attacking the same target should now see the proper benefit from Noxious Stings.

Dungeons and Raids
  • All players identified as tanks in Raid Finder are now automatically labeled as assistant leaders.
  • Firelands
    • Lava Wielder's Lava attack should now hurt players in the area of the visual effect.

Items

Quests and Creatures

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Ressing in Arena
Resurrections in arena is something that has been around since it was implemented. You have 10 seconds, excluding haste, to reach your target and interrupt or bring them into combat. If they are able to gain those precious few moments out of combat then I can only congratulate them on some very solid play. I recommend that you do your utmost to stay in range of your enemy and prevent them from casting their resurrection spell. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

PayPal Now Available on European Battle.net
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We’re pleased to announce that PayPal is now available to use as a Battle.net payment option here in Europe.

This means that you can now sync up your existing PayPal account with your Battle.net account, in order to purchase Blizzard Entertainment products and services directly through Battle.net.

You can currently use the PayPal payment option to purchase World of Warcraft paid services and digital versions of select Blizzard Entertainment games, including Diablo II, StarCraft II and World of Warcraft expansions.

For more information on Europe’s new PayPal payment option, please check out our PayPal FAQ.

Nightsong
The Video Game Music Choir adapted the song Nightsong from the Cataclysm soundtrack to make a nice video.

by Published on 2012-02-22 05:02 PM

Diablo 3 - Beta Contests, Portrait of a Champion Art Contest, Blue Posts, Wiki Tooltips, Curse Weekly Update

Update: Added tonight's Blue Posts, which address some questions about the difficulty change.

Dragon Soul Difficulty Change - Power of the Aspects to 10%
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
During the scheduled server maintenance on the week of February 28, the “Power of the Aspects” spell will grow more powerful, reducing the health and damage dealt of all enemies in the Dragon Soul raid by 10%. This spell will grow progressively stronger over time to reduce the difficulty and make the encounters more accessible. The spell will affect both normal and Heroic difficulties, but it will not affect the Raid Finder difficulty.

Don’t need the help of the Dragon Aspects? The spell can be disabled by talking to Lord Afrasastrasz at the beginning of Dragon Soul.

We hope you continue to enjoy Dragon Soul, and that these changes encourage you to attempt a higher difficulty, or just keep pushing to down that next boss.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Dragon Soul Difficulty Reduction
MMO Champ JUST published a blog about how effective the 5% nerf was. As the graph indicates, progress is continuing at a healthy, linear rate. It hasn't leveled off. Why are you nerfing heroic mode, again? You explicitly told us that you would not continue with blind nerfs on auto pilot.
We're not "nerfing blindly." Keep in mind that, the debuff can be disabled. So if you and your Raid choose to do so, you can take on the encounter without it. We also explained our thought processes in the original announcement blog about the debuff here.

Despite arguments to the contrary, there is a choice involved here. You can choose to leave the debuff on or turn it off. If you're looking for the challenge that doing the raid gives you without the debuff and your raid group isn't interested in turning off the debuff, that is still a choice that is being made. No one is forcing that on anyone. If you personally feel forced, then it may be an option to find another group that is interested in the challenge of doing it without the debuff.

Meanwhile, the debuff affords those that want to progress a bit, who have experienced difficulty, more of a leg-up.

It's fine to disagree with us on this, but please make sure that you continue to do so in a constructive manner and refrain from starting flame wars or posting harassing/defamatory language toward posters in the thread. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Dragon Soul Difficulty Reduction
And yes, maybe I'm a special snowflake who likes recognition. But I argue that the game is now somewhat built around recognition since achievements were added to the game.
We understand that there are players out there who do what they do for recognition and--dare I say it?--glory. Since we'll likely continue to use a model where we introduce a raid, then slowly remove roadblocks over time, there's a possibility that we could do something akin to adding a feat of strength for players who defeat an encounter in a non-debuffed incarnation, or possibly time-stamps on the armory raid progression section. At the very least, there are options on the table for the future. These aren't things we'll be able to do for Dragon Soul though.

Nobody is getting held up by 5% or 10% damage and health on bosses, they're getting held up by mechanics.
When a group is really close to taking down a boss, but just can't seem to manage it, a bump like this is sometimes enough to see them on to the next challenge. (Official Forums)

PTR Scheduled Maintenance 2/23/12
In addition to the maintenance going on today (2/22/12) the PTR realms will also be down tomorrow morning (2/23/12) from 5:00am-7:00am PST. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

War College - Strand of the Ancients
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The battlefields of World of Warcraft are littered with the bones of those who have become casualties in the ongoing conflict between the Horde and the Alliance. You do not need to become one of them. One of the keys to victory is knowledge, and that is where the World of Warcraft War College enters the picture. In these discussions between players, you can learn and share strategies with other players to improve your tactics and improve your odds of emerging victorious from the field of battle.

Are you a veteran Gladiator with countless victories tallied? Are you new to World of Warcraft and striving to improve your PvP skills? In this weekly feature, we invite players of all skill levels to ask questions, share tips and tactics, and join a conversation dedicated to surviving and thriving in World of Warcraft PvP.

Don’t forget to up-vote forum posts that are on-topic and helpful!

This week, the topic of discussion is: Strand of the Ancients - Which strategies are most effective in Strand of the Ancients on offense and defense? What tips, tricks and tactics have you discovered? What common mistakes have you witnessed?

Join the War College forum thread here.

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