MMO-Champion - World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies

World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies RSS Feed

by Published on 2012-02-11 05:07 AM

Diablo 3 - Hall of Fallen Heroes, Annual Pass, Frustration with Release, Cinematic Awards, and Diabloesques

Mists of Pandaria Talent Calculator Update Soon
Zarhym mentioned on Twitter that work has started on an update to the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator.
Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
We're working on an update to the Mists web talent calculator. Things are still in flux, but we hope you enjoy the class design progress.

Blizzard and Valve Queue for Legal Battlegrounds Over DotA
The term "DotA" has long been used as the name for the popular Warcraft III mod, but Valve attempted to trademark the name for their upcoming DotA 2 game. This didn't sit well with Blizzard, with Rob Pardo saying:


"It just seems a really strange move to us that Valve would go off and try to exclusively trademark the term considering it's something that's been freely available to us and everyone in the Warcraft III community up to this point...To us, that means that you're really taking it away from the Blizzard and Warcraft III community and that just doesn't seem the right thing to do".


Valve then countered that the community was okay with it, with Gabe Newell saying:


"The issue with that was, when we were talking with IceFrog originally, he wanted to build the sequel to DOTA. So the reason to call it Dota 2 is it actually does a pretty good job of communicating to gamers what it is the game is going to be. If a gamer looks at this game and you ask them, is that Dota 2? They're going to say yeah, that makes sense. That's a good name for it. That's really what's driving that. I haven't had any customers or gamers react negatively to it. They seem to be pretty comfortable with it."


Two of the developers that were involved with the original DotA game filed to block Valve's application, which is still an ongoing case. In Blizzard's opposition filing, they contend that DotA has been used by the community for the Warcraft 3 mod and that Valve has never used it before.

"DOTA, that for more than seven years has been used exclusively by Blizzard and its fan community, under license from Blizzard. By virtue of that use, the DOTA mark has become firmly associated in the mind of consumers with Blizzard, including to signify a highly popular scenario or variant of one of Blizzard's best-selling computer games, Warcraft III...

In contrast to Blizzard, Applicant Valve Corporation ("Valve") has never used the mark DOTA in connection with any product or service that currently is available to the public. By attempting to register the mark DOTA, Valve seeks to appropriate the more than seven years of goodwill that Blizzard has developed in the mark DOTA and in its Warcraft III computer game and take for itself a name that has come to signify the product of years of time and energy expended by Blizzard and by fans of Warcraft III. "

Blizzard then goes on to argue that the World Editor EULA requires Blizzard's prior written consent to use for any commercial purpose, which they have granted to various 3rd parties for the promotion of the DotA mod. Valve's response is a denial or lack of sufficient information claim of anything that mentions Blizzard's widespread and long standing use of the mark.

The companies will either come to an agreement of some kind or the case could move on to a trial later this year.


LoLPro - League of Legends Guides
League of Legends is a fairly popular game, so our friends over at LoLPro.com have put together in depth guides and videos for the champions. Every guide is authored by a professional League of Legends player such as Voyboy, Salce, Doublelift, Crumbzz, SYDTKO, Pobelter, Westrice, Dyrus, Nyjacky and many more.

The guides may be helpful should you want to improve your skills to participate in the next tournament. The first Curse tournament will have eight teams competing for a $5,000 prize. The winning team will then be flown to Curse headquarters in San Francisco, to play the Curse team, for a chance at an additional $20,000.



Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
World of Warcraft War College – Getting Geared
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.

This week, the topic of discussion is:

Getting Geared – Whether getting ready to jump into PvP with a new character or preparing for a new PvP season, it’s important to get enough Resilience on your items to be competitive. What are the best techniques you've found to gear up fast?

Join the War College forum thread here. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Bind on Account items
In terms of Bind on Account items, we believe that using the mail system to transfer heirlooms from one character to another is less than ideal. We’d like to work ourselves away from that sort of item distribution model, and have some design goals in mind that would change the mechanics of how heirlooms are distributed in-game.

We think it would be wonderful to simplify the system so that, for example, you might have a constant heirloom page across all your characters that you could peruse and select from at your leisure. Conceivably, we could do something similar for pets and mounts.

As always, these sorts of design ideas are constantly being evaluated. I just think it’s worth pointing out we’re not currently aiming to create a system that would allow players to mail heirlooms across realms or accounts. We believe that would be a sub-optimal design, and we have better solutions in mind for the future. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Winning Multiple Items in LFR
Our patch note is wrong and we apologize for the confusion. We'll get it updated.

The way it currently works is you'll lose the Need+ roll bonus if you win an item that drops twice from the same boss, but you won't be made completely ineligible to win it twice. If no one else has the Need+ bonus or rolls Need on the item, you'd still win it.

We have updated the 4.3.2 patch notes to better describe the way this system change works.

Players no longer benefit from a role-based need bonus on the second of multiple copies of the same item on a single Raid Finder boss kill. For example, a player who chooses Need on two set piece tokens or two weapons (and wins the first) will only automatically roll 1-100 for the second from that particular boss. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Low Population Realms
That thread is one that we are monitoring continuously for feedback, and those who wish to get their voice heard on this topic will certainly get their wish granted if they post in said thread.

We acknowledge that this is a very important topic for those of you playing on realms with low population, and it is an important topic for us as well. We are looking into ways to improve the situation, but as we mentioned in the thread linked to by Danellos above, there is no simple and easy fix to this. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Mists of Pandaria Talent Calculator
Thank you for your feedback on the Warlock talents, however as you have mentioned the talents are not set in stone right now and may change. You have to remember that the Mists of Pandaria talent calculator was placed on the website towards the end of November last year and it has not been updated on the website since. During these past few months of development though, there would have been major changes that are not able to see yet.

We will probably not be updating the talent calculator until we're around about at the point of the friends and family alpha test. The reason for this is that it is not exactly useful or efficient for us to be continuously updating the calculator at this stage.

There have been no announcements for when an update to the Talent Calculator will be released. But I am sure we are all hoping for a more up-to-date talent calculator to be revealed, because I know everyone would like to see what has been done to refine and improve upon the ones we see now! (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Annual Pass and Diablo III Release Date
I've seen these threads before, and it’s concerning to me. I'm confused as to what people believed the Annual Pass provided when they signed up.

It's a year-long World of Warcraft contract for people who would be playing World of Warcraft for the next year, but who also want to play Diablo III. In those cases we say Ok, agree to pay through for that year, and you don't have to make the choice, we'll give you Diablo III for free, plus a bunch of other goodies just in case you're not totally sold.

I'm not sure how a Diablo III release date impacts your intent to continue playing and paying for World of Warcraft for a year. Or maybe a better question is, how does a free copy of Diablo III being released at any different point in time affect your intent to pay for World of Warcraft for a year?

Even if Diablo III was to release after your 1 year contract was up and paid off, you're saving the cost of a copy of Diablo III, and keeping all the extras. I don't see how that's a trick, or a scam, or otherwise a bad deal. Unless you were buying it, not intending to play WoW, believing it would get you Diablo III sooner than other people?

I sympathize with people excited about the game, and disappointed it’s not out, I want it to be finished as much as anyone, but I just have trouble understanding this point as I see it consistently made.

I know there was some wording on a website page somewhere saying 'early next year', but I'm not aware of the actual Annual Pass agreement having any release date schedule ever mentioned for Diablo III or the Mists beta.

In any case, assumptions that a contract was in any way changed aside, it doesn't change the value of the Annual Pass and the fact that you're getting Diablo III for free. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

World of Warcraft Monopoly® and StarCraft Risk®
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We’re pleased to announce a partnership with USAopoly to release fresh takes on two classic board games. Monopoly®: World of Warcraft® and RISK®: StarCraft® combine tried-and-true foundations with new designs and gameplay elements inspired by our popular gaming universes. Those who dare to engage will discover a new chance to claim supremacy, both over their friends and over the battle-torn lands of Azeroth and the Koprulu Sector.

These games will formally debut at the 109th annual Toy Fair this Sunday, February 12 in New York City.

We’re holding a poll on Facebook right now where you can vote on which player pieces will make it into the final Monopoly: World of Warcraft board game! Ten options, including Murky, Chen’s Keg, Mechagnome, and a Spellbook are present, and the six most popular pieces will be represented in the game when it launches this May. [...]

The Daily Blink - The Numbers Behind the Numbers
The Daily Blink breaks down the subscriber number changes from the Q4 2011 Call.

by Published on 2012-02-09 09:49 PM

Diablo 3 - Activision Blizzard Q4 Conference Call - Diablo III Planned for Q2 2012

WoW stabilizes over 10M subscribers, down 100k in Q4 2011
Activision Blizzard latest earning call revealed that World of Warcraft lost 100,000 subscribers last quarter, following the loss of 800k subscribers announced last quarter and 300k loss from the quarter before that. The game lost 1.8M Subscribers over the year but the number seems to stabilize over 10M and it wouldn't be surprising to see it go back up with the release of Mists of Pandaria this year.

World of Warcraft now has 10.2M active subscribers.


  • World of Warcraft lost 100,000 subscribers, down to 10.2 million. This was a total lost of 1.8 million for the year.
  • Diablo III should launch in Q2
  • More than one million Annual Passes have been sold in the West.
  • Blizzard is happy with how the subscription numbers held up during the most competitive quarter ever.
  • When asked about churn since the competitor's launch, "December was a good month for us."
  • There are ~50 million active Battle.net, Call of Duty multiplayer, Call of Duty Elite, and Skylanders WebWorld users.

by Published on 2012-02-09 02:26 AM

Diablo 3 - Public Chat Is In, Diablo 3 Map, Investor Call, Poll Recap, Diabolesques

Dev Watercooler -- The Role of Role
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
The Deluge
A monsoon is coming. We will soon inundate you with Mists of Pandaria information, starting with the upcoming media event and everything that follows. It’s going to be a very exciting time for World of Warcraft, and we are all super impatient for it to happen.

But… we’re not quite there yet. I want to make that clear upfront, because this blog isn’t directly Mists of Pandaria related. You won’t find any announcements here, just a philosophical discussion that you may or may not find interesting. If you’re looking for thrilling announcements, you know what I’m going to say: Soon™.

Multiple DPS Roles
I said this blog isn’t directly relevant though, because I want to discuss a topic that we did struggle with a lot during Mists development, and indeed through most of World of Warcraft. We have classes with multiple DPS specs, and for mage, warlock, hunter, rogue, warrior and death knight, there isn’t even a melee vs. ranged distinction between those DPS specs. The question comes up all the time: “what is the role of these roles?” I don’t think there is a right answer here, and we’ve even changed the design a few times over the last several years. Again, I’m not couching this in terms of an imminent announcement or anything. This is fundamentally one of those designs that could go in a lot of different directions. It’s something we discuss a lot, and we figured given the strong opinions of our forum-posting community, many of you probably do as well.

A paladin can choose from among specs that let her be a tank, melee DPS or healer, and can shift around which role she fills in a raid or BG team from week to week. Through the Dual Spec feature, she can even do so within a single evening. If her group doesn’t need another healer, or if she needs a break from tanking, she can become a DPS spec fairly easily without having to swap to a different character. A warlock doesn’t have that luxury. Yet, the warlock still has three specs. Is the idea, then, that you are supposed to swap from Destruction to Demonology and back depending on the situation? Is the idea that you play Affliction if you like dots and Destruction if you like nukes? Or do you just switch to whatever theoretically does 1% more DPS for the next fight?

Players are sometimes cavalier about throwing around the claim that there’s a “lack of design direction” when they want their character buffed. Of course, classes always have a design direction; players just sometimes disagree with it. My point is that just because we debate whether the current design is the best possible one doesn’t mean there isn’t a design at all. That distinction is important. And of course, we do have a directive for which DPS spec you should play: whichever one you enjoy the most. But that doesn’t mean that is the best model or that it can’t ever change. There are other models we could try.

Model One – Everyone is equal all the time
If your DPS and utility are the same across specs, then you just play whichever one you prefer. Maybe you like the kit of the Frost mage, or maybe you like the rotation of the Fury warrior, so you play them. As I said above, this has been the model we have used for a while now, with mixed success. The challenge is that “all the time” caveat. We can get all of the DPS specs pretty close together on target dummies, and indeed they actually are very close on target dummies today. Our encounters aren’t target dummies though. Having some adds increases the damage of dot-specs. Having lots of adds increases the damage of strong AE specs. Having to move on a fight, and how often and far you have to move, can cause DPS to go up or down differently. Even if DPS is only off by a few percentage points, many players will respec to the one with the highest DPS (even if it’s theoretical, even if for them they will do lower personal DPS than if they had stuck with a more familiar spec). A mage who just loves Fire might be frustrated if he ever has to go Arcane, while another player might be happy that he gets to try different specs for different fights.

The class stacking we’ve seen on the Spine of Deathwing encounter relates to the need for massive burst damage in a specific window, such that the difference between a one minute DPS cooldown and a two minute DPS cooldown matters. Even if we could make sure every spec had the same AE vs. single target damage, do we now need to also ensure every spec can do the same DPS in burst windows of various lengths? Is that even mathematically possible? Or do we just test every spec for every raid encounter of the current tier and tweak class mechanics around for whatever is the current status quo? That implies a high rate of change, and I wonder if we’d lose a little bit of the fun of experimentation and theorycrafting if it was basically accepted that you could take any spec to any fight and do about the same damage. It’s more balanced, yes, but does it lack depth or flavor? Is it fun?

Model Two – Everyone has specialties and you match the spec to the situation
Under this model, we would establish spec specialties. For example, Arcane could be good for single-target fights while Fire is great at AE fights. Some of that design already exists in the game, but we try not to overdo it. If you really like playing one mage spec, or really detest constant spec swapping, then this model isn’t going to be to your liking. Furthermore, we don’t want to overstrain our boss design by having to meet a certain quota of AE vs. single target fights and movement vs. stationary fights and burn phase vs. longevity fights or whatever. It is also really hard to engineer these situations in Arenas or Battlegrounds (for example, both mobility and burst are extremely desirable in PvP), so in those scenarios there still may just be one acceptable spec.

Model Three – You swap specs to gain specific utility
If we used this model, then you might switch out to a different spec to gain a specific spell. Again, we have some of this today. A DK might want Unholy’s Anti-Magic Zone for a certain fight. Hunters might go Beastmaster to pick up a missing raid buff. Mages might go Fire for situations where Combustion shines. Druids might go Balance when they need the knockback from Typhoon. A little of this sort of thing goes a long way though. As in Model One, not every player wants to have to swap specs. If you just like Survival, you might resent having to go BM to just to buff someone. If knockbacks are too potent, then it really constrains your raid composition and makes even casual guilds feel like they need to keep a stable of alts or benched players for every fight. If, for example, there wasn’t a boss in the current raid tier for which warrior abilities really shine, then warriors start to feel like a third wheel, yet trying to make sure every boss in a tier has a moment for every spec to shine is a pretty daunting task.

The extreme case of this is the “utility” spec who does middling DPS, but brings a lot of synergy and utility that improves all of the other specs. This was the Burning Crusade model, where classes like shaman and Shadow priests were brought to raids just to make the pure classes (and warriors, who were always treated as pure classes back then for some reason) do better DPS. In Lich King, we changed the design to make different raid buffs and abilities more widespread and give groups much more flexibility in their raid (and to some extent dungeon) comps. We heard from Shadow priests that they wanted to do competitive damage, not just be there to make everyone else more awesome. But even today we get a lot of requests to improve the utility of someone’s spec so that they are more likely to get invited to a group.

Model Four – There is just a best spec for PvP and PvE
This was the model of vanilla World of Warcraft, and we understand some players wouldn’t mind it returning. In this model Arms and Frost and Subtlety (and other specs) were designed to be good for PvP, while others, Fury and Fire and Combat perhaps, were designed to be good for PvE. The PvP specs might have better mobility or survivability or burst damage, while the PvE specs have better sustained damage over the course of a 6-10 minute boss fight. A lot has changed since vanilla. We don’t make many raid or dungeon encounters these days where DPS specs can just stand in one place and burn down a boss. Mobility, survivability, and burst damage can all be really useful on particular encounters, sometimes trumping the higher DPS offered by a competing spec. (There’s that old adage that dead do zero DPS.) In addition, if there is a PvP spec and a PvE spec, then for pure classes that implies that your third spec lacks much of a role. (The good leveling spec? Is that exciting?) Furthermore, our Mists of Pandaria talent tree design explicitly takes away some of the tools from the traditional PvP specs and makes them available to other specs in the class. If this works out, then you can take your Frost mage raiding, or have an Arcane mage for PvP who uses some of what traditionally were Frost’s control and escape tools. That’s great if you PvP and love Arcane, or PvE and love Frost. It’s less cool if you were the kind of player who was totally comfortable with the simpler (and possibly easier to balance) design of having dedicated PvP vs. PvE specs.

Model Five – Don’t have multiple DPS roles
This is the most controversial model and the one that would require the most change, meaning we are almost certainly never going to do it. For sake of completeness though, you can argue that classes never should have been designed with multiple specs that fill the same role. In this model, either Arms or Fury goes away and gets replaced with something. (Archery? Healing?) Warlocks and other pure classes would need a massive redo to end up with say a melee and tanking warlock. Everyone becomes a hybrid. The hardest decisions becomes whether you want to be the ranged or melee DPS version of your class (like druids or shaman). This idea is elegant from a design perspective because it un-asks all of those questions about how much more damage pure classes should do than hybrids to justify their narrower utility. But, perhaps counter-intuitively, elegant designs often aren’t the strongest ones (I could write a whole blog on that topic alone). Model Five is the kind of rhetorical question you could go back in time and ask before WoW launched, but not the kind of thing we could change today without taking an enormous amount of effort, to say nothing of the irate players who would feel bamboozled that we were so dramatically changing their character out from under them. I try to never say never, but this model isn’t the kind of change you make in a mature game. It’s here only for completeness and because I suspect some of you will bring it up.

But Which is the Best Model?
Hell if I know! I fundamentally believe that none of these models is, without question, the obvious right one. All of them have advantages and disadvantages, and there are probably other models you could come up with that are variants on these five, or perhaps even something new. Like I said, we’re not announcing a philosophy change yet. If we get enough feedback for one model or another, we might eventually change our minds. Also for this blog we’re going to lock the comments and ask that you post your replies in this forum thread. Just remember that even we don’t believe that there is one correct answer, so please keep that in mind when you’re composing your feedback.

Activision Blizzard Q4 2011 Conference Call
The Q4 2011 Earnings call will take place tomorrow at 1:30 PM PST and will bring us an update on subscriber numbers for the final quarter of 2011. Keep in mind last call informed us of a 800,000 subscribers loss, but this time around the Annual Pass and Patch 4.3 may soften the blow.

During the previous call they wanted to remind investors that there is normally an increase in subscriptions around December, with previous quarters showing the following losses:



by Published on 2012-02-08 02:48 AM

Diablo 3 - Bashiok Answers Questions, Known Achievement Issues

Patch 4.3.2 Hotfixes - February 7
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Dungeons and Raids
Dragon Soul
  • After the instance is cleared, Crimson Lifebinder now resurrects the non-player characters at Wyrmrest Temple, and they are fully functional.
  • Ultraxion
    • The event leading to Ultraxion now requires 15 Drakes killed, down from 24.

Events
Love is in the Air
  • Players are now able to receive Lovely Charms while on the quest "Test Your Strength", when the player's inventory has both the Darkmoon Adventurer's Guide and Lovely Charm Collector's Kit.
  • Players now have the chance to receive both the Lovely Charm and Grisly Trophy from a single kill.
Lunar Festival
  • Elder Dawnstrider now spawns farther away from nearby Flame Crest mobs.

Items

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Account Wide Achievements
While we’re still working out many of the details regarding account-wide achievement functionality, I want to clarify that we plan for the system to apply to all achievements -- not just those added in Mists of Pandaria. It’s intended to be an overall change to the current achievement system.

Our goal is to make it so that you feel like you only have to get an achievement once. We think the time and effort you put into achievements should be evident regardless of which character you’re playing. The update will be implemented at the Battle.net level and, as such, would apply to all of the attached World of Warcraft licenses on the account. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Account Wide Achievements
I want everyone to be a bit cautious about their expectations as of yet. We still have a lot of details to work out in regard to how this will all work. Once we have more specific information to share on it, we'll let you all know. I don't want anyone to get too far ahead on things until we can share more and explain any possible "ifs", "ands", and "buts" with you all should there be any put in place. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Please Welcome Nyorloth!
In a break from tradition, I am not a member of the Community team; long have I gestated within the Story Development division of the Publishing Team, itself a division of Creative Development. My purposes here are myriad, but to mention a few:


  • Increase the transparency of how we develop stories within our games and ancillary fiction.
  • Encourage more constructive discussions of the lore, so that we may better understand your likes/dislikes in order to shape our future projects.
  • To serve as a scapegoat for when something happens in the lore that you don’t like.

My eye has glimpsed the forming of an Ask CDev on the horizon... perhaps, even, Soon™! You would all do well to gather your questions now, in preparation for this momentous event. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blizzard Art Update
Blizzard added seven pieces to the Wrath of the Lich King art gallery. These pieces offer an inside look at the creative process behind building the Warcraft universe.




Curse Weekly Roundup
Pico is back to tell us about the things you might have missed in SWTOR, WOW, Soul Calibur V and Minecraft news recently.

by Published on 2012-02-07 03:35 AM

Diablo 3 - Battle.net Balance, Diablo Chat Channels, Nyorloth, Master of Lore

Battle.Net Balance Active
The previously mentioned Battle.net balance is now active! The FAQ has also been updated with some additions:


  • In the near future, players will also be able to use Battle.net Balance for the digital World of Warcraft Battle Chest and World of Warcraft digital upgrades.
  • Any amount you add to your Battle.net Balance will not be refundable (except as otherwise provided by law).

Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Battle.net Balance is now live! As we announced previously, Battle.net Balance is a new feature that gives players an alternate way to purchase Blizzard digital products and services directly through their Battle.net accounts. Players are now able add to their Battle.net Balance using a variety of payment methods, and then use that balance toward Blizzard Entertainment products and services such as World of Warcraft game time; paid services, such as realm transfers and character name changes; digital versions of select Blizzard games, including Diablo II and StarCraft II; and in-game pets and mounts. In the near future, players will be also able to use Battle.net Balance for the digital World of Warcraft Battle Chest and WoW digital upgrades. In addition, with the upcoming launch of Diablo III, players will have the option to use Battle.net Balance to buy and sell items in the game’s currency-based auction house.

For more information, check out the Battle.net Balance FAQ, or head to the Battle.net Balance page in Account Management to manage your balance.



Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Mages and Arenas
Just off the top of my head, this is how diminishing returns works for mages:

  • Deep Freeze is on the stun diminishing returns.
  • Ring of Frost and Polymorph are on the disorient DR.
  • The mage Frost Nova and the Water Elemental's Freeze are both on the root DR.
  • Improved Cone of Cold and Shattered Barrier are on the random root DR.
  • There are also several snares which are not affected by DR, such as Frostbolt

The random root DR mentioned is actually a separate category to normal roots. We reserve this only for effects that are procs, instead of those that are the general effect of a spell. This is a very subtle and subjective classification that often comes down to simply what feels right.

Currently, we think that Frost mages have too much control in PvP. This is just something that has grown over time because we always felt that these "chilling" and "freezing" effects should naturally slow you down. Part of the design that we are implementing with the Mists of Pandaria talent changes are to move some of that control Frost mages have to the talent tree. This means it will be possible for a Frost mage to choose these options, but they come at the expense of others, Arcane and Fire mages also have the opportunity to get those control choices as well! :O

The overall effect of this is that Arcane and Fire should stay about neutral in regards to their control, but frost will lose some of it. On the other hand though, it is possible for a Frost's damage to go up and be competitive with that of the other mages if they do not go for the control talents. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Inscription and Glyph Discovery
Back in May of 2010, we began tossing around ideas about how to improve Inscription. But at that time, Mists of Pandaria was still in the early stages of character talent development. As that was hashed out, it directly affected how we were then able to approach potential Inscription and glyph changes. As a matter of fact, at one point during the discussions, glyphs were going to be removed altogether. That then evolved into the idea of Prime glyphs being removed, Major glyphs being adjusted such that their added bonuses did not affect talents, and Minor glyphs being revamped so they felt more interesting.

Have no fear, I have been assured that Inscription and glyph discovery are being actively discussed in preparation for upcoming changes with Mists of Pandaria. This comes with one albeit relieving caveat: Glyphs that are now learned solely through the Book of Glyph Mastery are planned to be available through the Northrend and Minor research dailies. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Account-wide Achievements
With Mists of Pandaria, account-wide achievements will indeed become available at the Battle.net account level, and many achievements will be shared among characters. A wide array of achievements will certainly be covered, including achievements that relate to everything from raiding and PvP to maxing out professions and assorted fun challenges. We really love the idea that players will at last be able to proudly display proof of the full scope of their adventures around Azeroth, regardless of which character they choose to play on any given day.

While we are still working out the details regarding how various specific achievements will interact with the new system, once we have a bit more information to share with you, we’ll certainly let you know. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Why Mists of Pandaria?
First, for some context, we showed a lot of pandaren at BlizzCon because that was the art we had completed at the time (and obviously it's the new playable race). Are there pandaren all over the new continent? Of course. There are also some really unique cultures and new races, including some very diabolical villains in the form of the mogu, the mantid, and the sha.

As a few posters have pointed out, Pandaria starts out relatively unspoiled. (spoiler!) That isn’t going to last. The Horde versus Alliance conflict is going to continue to ratchet up in a way we've often talked about, but never really delivered before now. It gives the story more depth (we hope!) when you get to see the “before” before the “after.”

The new continent has a heavy Asian vibe, but it’s still a fantasy game and there are some very fantastic and original landscapes as well. The last few zones in particular are what we like to call "high concept." You won’t find anything like them in the real world.

With all that said, you might still be asking, "why MoP?"

We think, more than seven years into World of Warcraft's life cycle, it's time to start some new stories. Previous expansions relied heavily on heroes and villains established in the Warcraft RTS games. We aren’t content to rest on our laurels though. We want to introduce some new characters to get to know. We want to have some new enemies to fight. Perhaps, most importantly, we want to start sowing the seeds for future stories. Nothing is lamer than finding out that the boss you're supposed to kill is someone you've never heard of. It’s a lot more fun when you get to know the bad guys, get a reason to hate them, and feel like you're thwarting their diabolical plans and not just killing them for loot.

We've focused a lot on the lighter side of Mists of Pandaria as a contrast to the world-ending vibe of Cataclysm. It’s not all unicorns and butterflies however. There are dark secrets lurking beneath the new continent, and in some ways they're even more insidious, because you get to experience the beautiful new landscapes before they become threatened and sometimes even destroyed.

To summarize, we provided you all with a very basic framework for the next expansion at BlizzCon. By the time the press tour ends in March, expect to get a lot more information on the real meat of this expansion. It won't be correctly summarized by a portrait of a smiling panda chewing on bamboo.

Phasing is one of the most powerful tools in the designer toolkit. But like many powerful tools, it can cause great damage if used incorrectly. We definitely have overdone it in the past.

There is some phasing in Mists, but we try to take care not to separate friends, create ghosted mining nodes, and similarly disrupt your gameplay. What we were really referring to by the “dark secrets” is the way the story unfolds. The story in Cataclysm was something players knew from the outset -- Deathwing is back. The players were still heroes trying to undo some of the damage he caused, but they also still largely reacted to the things Deathwing and his minions had already done. In Mists we're attempting to take that one step further and have the world react to the players, and not just have the players react to the world. It gives the game a dynamic, “alive” feeling which is very much needed in a persistent-world game.

Some of the changes we’re talking about aren't going to happen right away, but we’ll build toward them in subsequent patches. While you can’t truly keep story secrets in this business, we're trying not to spoil the surprises too early. In retrospect, we’ve taken a little bit of flak for this approach, because the misconception among some players is that the new continent has no conflict. There is plenty of conflict, but a lot of it begins when you arrive (rather than in Cataclysm, where great cracks in Azeroth appeared before your adventuring began). (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

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




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


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