MMO-Champion - World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies

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by Published on 2010-11-22 11:48 AM

Maintenance Status - US Servers are up

Update - Added an exclusive interview with Tom Chilton (Kalgan) about Patch 4.0.3a! Also, Curse is Hiring! Also, the Cataclysm Beta is Over.

Patch 4.0.3a - The world ends this week on live servers!
Let's confirm this, yes, Patch 4.0.3a will be deployed on live servers this week and will change the world of Azeroth forever. You only have a few hours left to say good bye to the old world (and farm try to get that stupid mount in Zul'gurub) before Deathwing decides that it needs a new look. All the information and the official patch notes are available below.

Get ready for the biggest change you ever witnessed in World of Warcraft, and enjoy!


What's in Patch 4.0.3a
Sammew posted an interesting list of the features you should and should not expect in Patch 4.0.3a on the official forums. Zarhym also jumped in, and announced a 20% reduction to the XP required to gain levels from 71 to 80.

What is not in:
  • Creating worgen/goblin characters
  • Worgen/Goblin start zones
  • Archeology
  • Professions past 450 (Illustrious Grand Master)
  • Guild leveling
  • Guild achievements
  • Eastern Kingdoms/Kalimdor flight
  • New Zones (80+)
What is in:
  • Portals in Dalaran/Shattrath Removed
  • Class trainers in Dalaran where portals once were
  • New race-class combinations (excluding worgen/goblin)
  • New Gnome/Troll starting areas
  • Changes to existing zones
  • New cata load screens
  • New cata intro cinematic
  • New cata login screen
  • New music
  • City Quartermasters, with rep tabards
  • Bug fixes
  • Class balancing
  • Druids, paladins, priests, and shaman will have their talent trees reset
  • Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 is being reduced by 20%
  • New tamable hunter pets (Monkey, fox, dog, and beetle, as well as new skins for existing pet classes.)



Portals removed from Shattrath and Dalaran
Blizzard doesn't want you to use Shattrath and Dalaran as portal hubs anymore, the latest beta update removed all the portal to the cities and replaced them with class trainers.

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Race / Class Combinations
This patch will allow you to pick new classes with the existing races! Worgens and Goblins will not be unlocked with this patch, and will only be available on December 7th for people who bought the expansion.



Cataclysm / Patch 4.0.3a - The Shattering
I went through all the old zones pages and updated all of them with screenshots from the latest build of the beta (if you're wondering, that's a little more than 1400 screenshots). All these zones will be changed when Patch 4.0.3a is deployed on live servers this week. I also included links to Wowpedia for people who are looking for a few extra lore informations, etc ...

With the expansion getting closer, expect a lot of similar updates to Cataclysm articles in the next few days.

Kalimdor


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Eastern Kingdoms


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Curse is Hiring!
We're hiring a lot of people to work on MMO-Champion and the other Curse sites and I'm sure a couple of people will be interested in the offers!

Full Time Positions

Internships



Exclusive Interview: World of Warcraft's Tom Chilton on Patch 4.0.3a
Tom Chilton (Kalgan) was nice enough to answer a few questions we had for him about Patch 4.0.3a! Keep in mind that this interview was not specifically about future Cataclysm patches, so the questions were kept to the relevant topic where possible.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
People aren't very sure of what's going live with Patch 4.0.3a, and what will be added on December 7th with the actual release of the expansion. Will people be able to visit the new zones added to the old world such as Uldum or Mount Hyjal?

TC: Well, obviously those zones have been patched to players. They won't be available until players can level up. What we've done is kind of early stages... we've done a bit of terrain phasing to make them unavailable. But we're not gonna be surprised when players find a way to get in.

Ultimately what matters is that they can't actually do any of the quests until they're Cataclysm account enabled.

What about things like the professions updates, Archaeology, PvP changes and the guild leveling system? Are those all features of Cataclysm or can players expect any of those in The Shattering?
TC: Those features are all part of Cataclysm.

How about race and faction changes? Will I be able to change my Mage from Human to Dwarf right whne it comes out? Or will we have to wait a certain period of time before the new race options become available?
TC: They'll be able to do that right away. So for any of the combos that are available, we currently expect players to be able to do the race change into those as soon as The Shattering happens.

The revamp of Azeroth was an insane amount of work and the results look amazing. Are you happy with the final result and what do you think are the zones players should definitely check after the release of the patch?
TC: Definitely happy with the results. It's been a long time coming for sure. I'm really proud of what the team's been able to accomplish. I think an absolute must for zones to check out would be like... Westfall, Stonetalon, Silverpine. Those are some of my personal favorites, and I'm sure players will decide for themselves what they think are the coolest. But I really dig those myself.

Are there any quests that stand out to you as something really awesome players must experience?
TC: Just the storylines as a whole in those zones that I mentioned. Things like what it means to be Horde in Stonetalon, stuff like that. There's also uncovering everything that's happening in Westfall. It's all really good stuff. That's why I say those zones in general, more from a combination of gameplay and visuals rather than just a visual standpoint.

During Blizzcon 2009, you mentioned plans to revamp the racials for all the races to make them as cool and useful as Worgen and Goblin's, but only made a few tweaks in the end. Is there any reason why you changed your mind?
TC: Well, I mean the racials are extremely dicey to change. It's very difficult to change those without creating far-reaching problems in the game. They're like a multiplier on the class stuff. So I think we tend to be a little more conservative with changing, where with class stuff where we're pretty aggressive about making significant changes.

Interestingly I think the racials are something that a lot of players are comfortable with and get used to over time. We've managed to contain them to be pretty small, and I definitely have fears that if we go and do a big overhaul that we would actually turn them into more than they really need to be, and cause problems for the game in doing so.

While I definitely can't say racials are perfect as they are now -- they're not perfect -- I feel like they're at a level where considering all the balance difficulties in Cataclysm going into the game, in 2009 I think that in some ways we were tackling too many balance problems and fundamental changes at the same time. I don't think an overhaul to racials is something we could add to that mix.

You announced during Blizzcon that new enhanced maps would be added to the game and would include the loot and abilities lists. Don't you think it removes an interesting part of raiding where people actually learn the encounters?
TC: It is a feature we're interested in, and it's something we'll be actively working on. The idea is that when you look at your dungeon map you would see a listing of the bosses in there. Right now you can kind of see the skulls for where the bosses are, but you'll get a lot more information on them. You'll be able to mouse over them... or whatever... and get like a tooltip on what the boss is, what their abilities are, and a general sense of how the encounter is supposed to play.

How is The Shattering going to happen? Should we expect an epic ending to the pre-Cataclysm event and elemental invasions?
TC: The culmination, we're already at the final stage of the event that builds up to The Shattering. The final "event" is the in-game cinematic. And that's really what the transition is for players, that players will play through this event that's building up and then at some point... just because of the realities of the code, we have to flip a switch.

So we're going to be doing that during maintenance when The Shattering happens, and so when players log back in for the first time, it's a very small patch for players, and be introduced to the cinematic. That's suppose to be what happened while you were asleep. Conceptually, this is what just happened while you weren't controlling your character.

That being said, where will players be when they log in? I know in beta it sent people to either the outside of Orgrimmar or the outside of Stormwind. Have you guys finalized where people are going to actually log in?
TC: Yeah they'll log in alive at the nearest graveyard of the zone they were at. So let's say they were in the middle of Arathi Highlands, they would be standing wherever the nearest graveyard is to where they were logged out at. So they're not like falling through the air to their deaths when they log in.

How exactly will The Shattering transition over into Cataclysm on the 7th? Is 4.0.3a going to set it up so players will go seamlessly from Wrath to Cataclysm at midnight, or will you still need to restart the realms?
TC: Yeah, when we launch on December 7th that will be very seamless, and that's designed to not require server downtime. That will be more like it was with Burning Crusade and Lich King, at the stroke of midnight... boom you can go to the new areas.

Is there anything you would have liked to keep around after revamping Azeroth that you couldn't due to it not making any sense lore-wise? The Tirion Fordring quest series in Eastern Plaguelands, as an example.
TC: Yeah, I mean that's definitely an example of a really cool quest line. There are also things about, you know, some of the new zones are amazing and unquestionably better. Westfall, it's definitely nostalgia in the old Defias Brotherhood. So, I think that for sure in a couple years, or even in a year we'll have the nostalgia of 'Oh I miss some of this old content.'

That's inevitable, even if the new stuff is... I guess, objectively better.

What are your thoughts on Death Knight design in 4.0.3a? Many DKs in the beta seem to feel they are in poor shape and desperately need more work. An example being Frost going relatively untouched after the tree downsizing.
TC: Interestingly we did the Best Buy developer chat, and it's funny because I could swear I saw a comment from all of the classes that felt they definitely needed more work and were not up to par with the other classes. In a lot of ways that's kind of the nature of it. Things are changing, and there's no doubt in my mind that some specs come out below where we want them to be. But I can't say for sure which ones those are. We need more data before we really know.

The reality is the set we have from beta inevitably is very limited in a lot of ways. What we're saying about balance will be very different two months from now, than right now. Even with some of those, some of these claims are going to prove to be true, but we can't necessarily chase every single one of these claims because a lot of them will be completely wrong.

Speaking to Death Knights in particular, I know that both the Unholy and Frost trees are things the guys have been looking into and trying to make them about right. But I think they might be closer than people give them credit for.

Do you feel that recent reductions to self healing (in beta) for DKs, Shadow Priests, and Affliction Warlocks takes away a certain appeal from these classes? For a lot of players having a certain level of self sufficiency is a major draw to play these specs and in Cataclysm that facet of these classes has been seriously diminished.
TC: That's definitely very deliberate. Through a good chunk of the end of beta, for the last couple months, self healing in beta was really out of control. That goes beyond just the specs that you mentioned. Obviously there's like Rogues with Recuperate, Warrior Second Wind kind of stuff. Some of that spills over into in PvE, some does not, but in large part I'd say a lot of the self healing stuff generally was ok in PvE but it tended to be a significant problem in PvP. And this is whether you're talking about battlegrounds, or arenas, or dueling or whatever.

So a lot of that stuff was stuff that we deliberately started to reign under control. Some of that is a side effect of the fact that a lot of the mechanics for healing have changed. Healing has, in a sense, become less powerful than it was before. That inherently made all the self healing stuff seem more powerful. Especially when you compound that with a lot of the self healing stuff is done as a percentage of the health bar.

And we kept increasing the health players got at 85, so health pools at 85 -- those percentage based self heals -- started to become incredible when compared to Renew and stuff like that.

In 4.0.1, and 4.0.3 that's live now, Arcane Mages become kind of a one-button-wonder with Arcane Blast. Is there anything in The Shattering that you're going to try to do to address that?
TC: I feel like for the most part it addresses itself as you go up to level 85. A lot of that is due to the way the mana pools are structured at 80. I guess the interesting gameplay for Arcane in terms of managing your mana pool didn't really happen at level 80. At 85 it pretty dramatically changes how the gameplay works out. You really have to manage your Arcane Blast otherwise it will drain you quickly and then you're just kind of done. So the idea is how much you Arcane Blast, or kind of cool off your stack with an Arcane Missiles or Arcane Barrage.

--Kody Note: At this point we were out of questions thanks to the Best Buy developer chat answering most of what we had, so I tried to come up with more based on the 4.0.3a patch notes. I didn't want to ask questions already answered just for the sake of article size, where possible.

With the new talent system, do you see this finally being the death of the "hybrids must be below pures" philosophy? Hybrids can't really support all roles sufficiently anymore with a single spec.
TC: I don't think it's as much of a philosophical decision, as it is... some of that is inherent to the fact that we reigned in healing to a fair amount. The amount of health you can fill with a direct heal. So that has a direct consequence on how much of a health pool they're able to heal with one spell. Philosophically we still want hybrids to feel hybridy, and we try to build in mechanics to allow Resto Shaman to do some damage and vice-a-versa we want an Elemental Shaman to throw a heal every now and then.

And the same would go for a Druid and such, but if the tuning isn't there to support it then that's something you'll see us adjust over time. And that's pretty much a straight-forward tuning, it wouldn't require a radical change in design for those specs to heal reasonably well.

The Mortal Strike debuff was reduced again, from 25% to 10%. Is there any specific reason for this? Is it that you don't want it to be as powerful as it was because it didn't work well with the healing changes?
TC: We don't really want, at least in a perfect world, it to be a determining factor for what class you bring to PvP. We feel like at 10% it falls in line with pretty much every other buff and debuff in the game. It'll have its impact and has an effect, but it's not going to completely swing things one way or the other. Kind of like Power Word: Fortitude doesn't do that either. So we're where we would like for it to be, but at the same time it is certainly a useful tool for balancing the power of healing in PvP independently of PvE. So it's there as a tool if we need to take advantage of it again.

I can't say it will never get more powerful again, it's just our hope that it won't need to be as powerful as it's been in the past.

Are the updated versions of Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep going to be available in The Shattering?
TC: Yes and no. The normal versions will be available, but the Heroic versions will require being 85. So you'll need Cataclysm to do the Heroic difficulties.

--Kody Note: And this was going to be the last question, then another about those poor, ignored Blood Elves and Draenei popped into my head.

Most of the changes to the cities focus on Ogrimmar and Stormwind, with slight sprinklings elsewhere. Is Deathwing trying to drop a hint that even he doesn't want to visit The Exodar?
[laughing]

TC: Yeah... I think that's what he's trying to say. Just happened to not be along his desired flight path.

[more laughing]

TC: You know, he wants to do the maximum destruction that people are actually going to notice, and Deathwing noticed that there aren't as many people in some of those cities, so what's the point in terrorizing that?

I actually do have one more question related to the Blood Elf and Draenei areas. Are those still going to be, like, instanced zones or will they be a part of the continents now?
TC: They're still on their own 'world tab' is what we call it. We did some experimentation with trying to attach those to the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor continents, but that was going to take a whole lot of production time that was going to be better spent elsewhere on content the players were going to get better use out of.

--Kody Note: And one more then we're out of time!

The experience changes for 71-80, are those the only you've made recently?
TC: No, we actually did increase the experience required for 84-85 from what it was at in beta. That one was a little bit too short. Other than that, yeah everything else is staying the same. At least for now.


Mounts and Items Removed in 4.0.3
Originally Posted by Lylirra (Blue Tracker)
As stated in the Under Dev page (http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/info/underdev/), patch 4.0.3 brings about The Shattering, a cataclysmic event that will forever change the face of Azeroth. As we prepare to raise the level cap and introduce two new races with the Cataclysm expansion, it's important to keep in mind that the game world is going through tremendous changes that will affect the availability of certain rare mounts and items.

Swift Zulian Tiger
Zul'Gurub is changing from a raid to a leveling zone in 4.0.3, and this mount will no longer be obtainable.

Swift Razzashi Raptor
This mount will also no longer be obtainable after the change to Zul'Gurub.

Razzashi Hatchling
With the change to Zul'Gurub this non-combat pet will no longer be obtainable. (Update - The Razzashi Hatchling is still obtainable in Patch 4.0.3a)

Tome of Polymorph: Turtle Mage
This tome will continue to be available through other means.

Crusader's White/Black Warhorse and Swift Alliance Steed/Swift Horde Wolf
As the attempt-based tribute system is being removed from Heroic Trial of the Crusader, the Argent Crusade Tribute Chest will no longer spawn, and these mounts will no longer be obtainable

Reins of the Blue Drake
This mount will once again be available from defeating 10-player Malygos without needing to use the Dungeon Finder. The Reins of the Azure Drake will only be available on 25-player Malygos.

Mimiron's Head
This mount will change to be a very low drop chance when defeating 25-player Yogg'Saron with no Keepers assisting you

Invincible
This mount will change to be a very low drop chance when defeating Heroic 25-player Lich King

Although we have no current plans to introduce new ways to obtain the Zul'Gurub mounts, pets, and the tribute mounts, they may return should we find a place where they fit in the future.

Official Patch Notes
[blizzquote]World of Warcraft Client Patch 4.0.3a

The latest patch notes can always be found at http://www.wow-europe.com/en/patchnotes/

The latest test realm patch notes can always be found at http://www.wow-europe.com/en/info/un...testrealm.html

The Shattering of Azeroth
In the frigid wastes of Northrend, the final battle against the merciless Lich King ended in victory for Azeroth's defenders. Upon returning home, veterans of the unforgiving conflict against the Scourge were showered with praise for their valiant sacrifices, while the honorable dead were mourned. Yet as hope flared anew in the wake of the Lich King's fall, Azeroth's native elemental spirits grew confused and erratic, setting off a series of deadly natural disasters. Horde and Alliance leaders scrambled for clues about the troubling state of the world, but nothing could have prepared them for what was to come.

Without warning, the corrupted Dragon Aspect, Deathwing, erupted from the stone heart of Deepholm, the domain of earth within the Elemental Plane. Jagged fissures were torn across the earth, and monstrous waves pummeled coastal regions. From Thousand Needles to the Blasted Lands, the surface of Azeroth was reforged through violent upheavals. Now, the Horde and the Alliance must defend their homes against Deathwing and his minions, burdened by the unsettling fact that the world as they know it has changed... forever.

Azeroth Shattered
  • Deathwing's return has had an immeasurable impact throughout the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Players will notice drastically altered terrain, thousands of new quests from levels 1-55, and updated level ranges for some zones to improve the questing flow.

New Race/Class Combinations
  • In the wake of a world on the brink of destruction, members of the Horde and Alliance have taken to new cultures and studies, mastering crafts previously foreign to them. Many existing playable races now have new class combinations. Check the official World of Warcraft: Cataclysm website for a breakdown of the new combinations.

General
  • The World of Warcraft: Cataclysm cinematic trailer and login screen have been added to the game.
  • Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 has been reduced by 20%, which increases leveling rate by 25%.

Classes: General
  • Due to several talent revisions for select classes, druids, paladins, priests, and shaman have had their talent trees reset.
  • The damage and healing done by players from levels 1-79 has been retuned, with the base points of almost all spells and abilities reduced. This was done to bring combat times at low levels to a more reasonable length. For most abilities that deal weapon damage, the weapon damage percent now rises per level until level 80, and starts at a lower percent.
  • Healing Rain, Efflorescence, Holy Radiance, Holy Word: Sanctuary now have a diminished effect when healing more than 6 players at once.
  • Mortal Strike, Furious Attacks, Wound Poison, Widow Venom, Permafrost, Improved Mind Blast, Monstrous Bite, and Legion Strike now reduce healing by 10%, down from 25%.
  • Effects which are broken from taking too much damage (Fear, Frost Nova, Entangling Roots, etc.) now break automatically from about half as much damage taken as before.

Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Death Pact now heals for 25% of maximum health, down from 40%.
  • Death Strike now heals for 25% of damage taken in the last 5 seconds, down from 30%, and will heal for a minimum of 7% of maximum health, down from 10%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.
  • Icebound Fortitude now provides 20% damage reduction, down from 30% (now 50%, down from 60% when talented), and has a 3-minute cooldown, up from 2 minutes.

Blood
  • Rune Tap now heals for 10% of maximum health, down from 15%. The tooltip may not yet be updated to reflect this change.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Rune Tap now heals for 5% of maximum health, down from 10%.

Bug Fixes
  • Frost Fever critical strikes now apply the correct amount of bonus damage.

Druid (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Bear Form now provides 10% bonus health, down from 20%.
  • Nourish no longer consumes Omen of Clarity.
  • Rejuvenation has had its mana cost increased by 30%.
  • Soothe now has a 1.5-second cast time.
  • Swipe (Cat Form) can now be used even if the druid does not have a primary target selected.
  • Thorns: beginner tooltip revised to no longer imply the spell could be kept up at all times. In addition, Thorns damage has been reduced by 60%.

Balance
  • PvP set bonus redesigned. While not in an Eclipse state, critical attacks against the druid restore 5 Solar or 7 Lunar energy, whichever is more beneficial. This effect can only occur once every 6 seconds.

Feral
  • Brutal Impact now increases the mana cost of spells on the victim by 5/10% for 10 seconds, down from 15/30%.
  • Leader of the Pack now heals for 4%, down from 8%.
  • Survival Instincts now provides 50% damage reduction, down from 60%, and its cooldown has been lowered from 5 minutes to 3 minutes.
  • Swipe (Bear Form) damage has been reduced by 20%.
  • Vengeance is no longer cleared on exiting Bear Form, and instead is cleared upon entering Cat Form.

Restoration
  • Empowered Touch now procs from Healing Touch as well as Nourish.
  • Heart of the Wild: the Bear Form Stamina bonus from this talent is now 2/4/6%, down from 3/7/10%.
  • Malfurion's Gift no longer has Fury of Stormrage as a prerequisite talent.
  • Natural Shapeshifter now also increases Tree of Life duration by 5/10 seconds.
  • Revitalize is now a 2-point talent, down from 3. It provides a 20% chance to return 1/2% of the druid's total mana on periodic heals from Lifebloom or Rejuvenation. This effect cannot occur more than once every 12 seconds.
  • Swift Rejuvenation is now a 1-point talent, down from 2. The global cooldown reduction this talent provides to Rejuvenation remains 0.5 seconds.
  • Symbiosis: heal-over-time spells (Rejuvenation, Regrowth, Lifebloom) can no longer benefit from this Mastery merely by refreshing themselves. A different heal-over-time spell must be present.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Healing Touch now reduces the cooldown on Nature's Swiftness by 10 seconds after using Healing Touch, up from 5 seconds.
  • Glyph of the Treant (new) allows druids to keep the original treant Tree of Life look... if they must. Must they?

Bug Fixes
  • Blood in the Water now refreshes Rip to the correct value.
  • Flight Form now properly appears in the trainer window before Expert Riding is learned.

Hunter (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • All special attacks based on weapon damage (except Scattershot) are now normalized.
  • Scare Beast is now available at level 36, up from level 14, and has had its training cost updated.
  • Deterrence is now available at level 78, up from level 36, and has had its training cost updated.
  • Disengage is now available at level 14, down from level 78, and has had its training cost updated.

Glyphs
  • The level requirements for glyphs that affect Scare Beast, Deterrence, and Disengage have been altered to correspond with the level changes of these abilities.

Bug Fixes
  • The Core Hound pet ability Ancient Hysteria now places its own unique debuff on affected players that has the same effect as Sated and Exhaustion.
  • Certain pets should no longer forget how to Dash.

Mage (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Arcane Blast now increases damage of the next Arcane Blast by 10% per stack, down from 20%, reduces cast time by 0.1 seconds per stack, and increases the mana cost by 150%, down from 175%. In addition, the base cast time of Arcane Blast has been lowered to 2.35 seconds.
  • Arcane Explosion now costs 15% of base mana, down from 18%.
  • Arcane Missiles damage has been increased by 5%.
  • PvP set 4-piece bonus changed to increase damage by 5% instead of providing 5% Haste.

Arcane
  • Arcane Barrage damage has been increased by 5% and its cooldown is now 4 seconds, down from 5 seconds.
  • Arcane Concentration: Now has a much higher chance (13/27/40%) of entering a Clearcasting state. This effect cannot occur more than once every 15 seconds. The tooltip still states that there is a 3/6/10% chance, as it averages out to approximately the same chance with the internal cooldown applied.
  • Arcane Specialization again increases arcane damage by 25%.

Fire
  • Blazing Speed no longer dispels movement slowing effects (it still dispels effects that totally stop movement).
  • Fire Specialization again increases periodic fire damage effects by 25%.
  • Molten Shields now also causes Blazing Speed to dispel movement slowing effects in addition to its current functionality.
  • Pyroblast base mana cost is now 17%, down from 22%.

Frost
  • Deep Freeze: the cooldown on this ability is no longer reduced by Haste.
  • Early Frost now reduces Frostbolt cast time by 0.3/0.6 seconds, down from 0.35/0.70 seconds.
  • Fingers of Frost proc chance is now 7/14/20%, down from 10/20/30%.
  • Frost Specialization again increases all damage against frozen target by 25%.
  • Reactive Barrier is now triggered by any damage which causes the mage's health to be below 50%, even if the mage was already below 50%.
  • Shatter now also increases Frostbolt damage by 10/20% against frozen targets.
  • Shattered Barrier duration is now 2/4 seconds, down from 3/6 seconds.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Evocation now heals for 40%, down from 60%.
  • Glyph of Deep Freeze now increases damage done by Deep Freeze by 20% (no longer increases Frostbolt damage against Deep Frozen targets).

Bug Fixes
  • Improved Polymorph now correctly shares diminishing returns with controlled stuns.

Paladin (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Exorcism damage has been increased by approximately 50%.
  • Holy Radiance now has reduced effectiveness on targets over 8 yards away from the paladin.
  • Seal of Truth: periodic damage from Censure reduced by 25%.

Holy
  • Beacon of Light now lasts 5 minutes, up from 60 seconds.
  • Blessed Life: the effects of this talent cannot occur more than once every 8 seconds, up from every 2 seconds.
  • Illuminated Healing absorb shield now absorbs 10% of the total amount healed, up from 8%. Each point of Mastery increases the effect by an additional 1.25%, up from 1%.
  • Light of dawn has been redesigned. It no longer has an enforced cooldown, now costs Holy Power instead of mana, and scale in direct proportion to the amount of Holy Power used. In addition it now heals the 5 most injured group targets (including self) in a 30-yard frontal cone.
  • Protector of the Innocent no longer triggers from self-heals.

Protection
  • Divine Bulwark now grants 2.25% less block chance per point of Mastery, up from 2%.
  • Holy shield no longer increases chance to block. Instead, it increases the amount blocked by an additional 10%, for a total of 40% damage blocked.
  • Shield of the Righteous: Contribution of attack power halved (now 60% with full Holy Power) and base damage brought up so that a level 85 paladin in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact.
  • Shield of the Templar now reduces the cooldown of Guardian of Ancient Kings by 40/80/120 seconds, down from 1/2/3 minutes.
  • Wrath of the Lightbringer now increases Crusader Strike and Judgement damage by 50/100%, up from 30/60%.

Retribution
  • Crusade now also has a proc on kill to increase the healing done by the paladin's next Holy Light by 100/200/300% for 15 seconds, in addition to its current effects.
  • Divine Storm: This ability has been redesigned. It no longer consumes Holy Power and instead costs 5% of base mana. It shares a cooldown with Crusader Strike and hits all nearby enemies for 60% weapon damage.
  • Pursuit of Justice now has an 8-second internal cooldown, shared with Blessed Life.
  • Rebuke no longer initiates Auto Attack.
  • Sanctity of Battle now also causes Divine Storm's cooldown to be reduced by Haste effects.
  • Zealotry no longer consumes 3 Holy Power, but still requires 3 Holy Power to use.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Beacon of Light now makes Beacon of Light free, instead of increasing the duration by 30 seconds.
  • Glyph of Divinity has been redesigned. It now grants the paladin 10% of maximum mana upon use.
  • Glyph of Light of Dawn now increases the total number of most injured targets healed by 1.

Priest (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Binding Heal now provides roughly double the amount of healing.
  • Prayer of Healing has had its mana cost reduced by nearly 30% and its base points and Spell Power coefficient increased by 20%.

Discipline
  • Divine Aegis is now always triggered by Prayer of Healing in addition to critical heals from all other spells.
  • Grace has been increased to 4/8% stacking 3 times, up from 2/4% stacking.
  • Inner Focus now works with Binding Heal, but no longer works with Heal.
  • Power Word: Barrier has been redesigned. It no longer acts as a shared absorb shield. Instead, all affected friendly targets take 30% reduced damage for the duration of the shield, which is now 10 seconds, down from 25 seconds.

Shadow
  • Shadow Orbs: redesigned slightly. The Shadow Orbs continue to increase damage done by Mind Blast and Mind Spike and stack up to 3 times, but now when the priest casts Mind Blast or Mind Spike (consuming the orbs), the priest gains a 15-second duration buff (Empowered Shadow), which increases the damage done by all Shadow periodic spells. Empowered Shadow does not stack. Mastery increases the damage bonus of Shadow Orbs and Empowered Shadow by the same amount, 10% with the base 8 Mastery, and an additional 1.25% per Mastery.
  • Vampiric Embrace healing to the caster has been reduced to 6%, down from 12% (there was a tooltip error which stated that the self-healing amount was 15%). Party members still receive 3% healing.

Bug Fixes
  • Dark Archangel now correctly increases the damage done of certain abilities by 4%.

Rogue (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Deadly Poison base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.
  • Recuperate now restores 2% of maximum health, down from 3%.
  • Venomous Wounds base damage and attack power coefficient have been increased by 30%.

Combat
  • Aggression now increases damage of Sinister Strike, Backstab, and Eviscerate by 7/14/20%, up from 5/10/15%.
  • Bandit's Guile now gives 10/20/30% increased damage as the rogue gains greater insight, up from 5/10/15%.

Subtlety
  • Executioner no longer affects Recuperate.

Bug Fixes
  • Bandit's Guile now applies more consistently to all of the abilities it's supposed to modify.
  • Player guardians and temporary pets now stop attacking when a rogue uses Vanish, but city guards will not.

Shaman (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Chain Heal mana cost increased from 17% to 20% of base mana.
  • Earthliving Weapon now only has 25% of its full chance to proc from a single hop of Chain Heal.

Elemental
  • Elemental Reach now also increases Searing Totem range by 7/15 yards.
  • Fulmination now has a Spell Alert visual associated with it, which appears when the shaman gets to 9 Lightning Shield charges.

Warlock (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Bane of Agony damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Bane of Doom damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Corruption damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Death Coil damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Drain Life damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Drain Soul damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Immolate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Incinerate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Rain of Fire damage has been increased to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
  • Searing Pain damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Seed of Corruption damage has been reduced to be more comparable to other area-of-effect abilities.
  • Shadowbolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Soul Fire damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

Demonology
  • Hand of Gul'dan damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

Destruction
  • Chaos Bolt damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Conflagrate damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.
  • Shadowburn damage has been reduced by approximately 12%.

Bug Fixes
  • Drain Life: The Soulburn version of this was charging 17% of base mana instead of 12% like the normal version. This has been corrected.

Warrior (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
  • Cleave damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Execute damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Heroic Strike damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Overpower now does 125% weapon damage, down from 150%.
  • Rend base damage has been reduced by approximately 17% and percent of weapon damage per tick lowered to 25%, from 30%.
  • Shield Block now only increases block chance by 25%, but excess block that pushes avoidance plus block to over 100% is now converted to critical block chance.
  • Slam now costs 15 rage, down from 20, and now does 125% weapon damage, down from 150%.
  • Victory Rush damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Whirlwind now does 65% weapon damage, down from 75%.

Arms
  • Mortal Strike now does 150% weapon damage, down from 185%.
  • Second Wind now heals for 2/5% of total health, down from 5/10%.
  • Strikes of Opportunity now does 100% weapon damage, down from 115%.

Fury
  • Blood Craze now heals for 1/2/3% of total health, down from 2.5/5/7.5%.
  • Bloodthirst damage has been reduced by approximately 17%.
  • Raging Blow now does 110% weapon damage, down from 150%.
  • Unshackled Fury now gains approximately 50% more benefit per point of Mastery.

Protection
  • Critical Block now grants an equal amount of block chance and critical block chance (1.5% each per point of Mastery).
  • Devastate no longer provides bonus threat.
  • Shield Slam: Contribution of attack power reduced to 60%, down from 75%, and base damage brought up so that a level 85 warrior in Heroic dungeon gear deals the same damage with no Vengeance, but Vengeance has less impact. In addition, Shield Slam no longer generates 30% bonus threat from its damage.
  • Vigilance no longer provides 3% damage reduction, but still refreshes Taunt and provides Vengeance.

Glyphs
  • Glyph of Bloody Healing increases the healing received from Bloodthirst by 40%, down from 100%.
  • Glyph of Intimidating Shout no longer causes targets to flee slowly, but roots them instead.
  • Glyph of Shield Wall increases damage reduction to 60%, but increases the cooldown from 2 minutes to 4 minutes (talented).

Bug Fixes
  • Taste for Blood should once again proc on every other tick of Rend.

Achievements
  • The Gladiator reward mounts now award Master Riding.
  • What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been now awards Master Riding.

Items
  • Mysterious Egg now takes only 3 days to turn into a Cracked Egg and has a slightly greater chance of awarding the Reins of the Green Proto-Drake.
  • PvP set bonuses now provide 70 of stats such as Agility, Intellect, and Strength (down from 100) at 2 pieces, and 180 of these stats (down from 300) at 4 pieces.

Professions
  • Perfect Gem Cutting and Mixology have been removed as trainable skills and are instead passives profession abilities. When players reach the appropriate skill levels, they will start getting bonuses from Mixology (they must know the recipe to gain the benefit) and/or cutting perfect gems (depending on their profession, of course).

Alchemy
  • Alchemy recipes now require Crystal Vials. Deathwing broke all the others because he's mean (or because he didn't want alchemists to carry 5 different vials around with them).

Engineering
[list][*]The Engineering Tinkering enchants will no longer provide their bonus stats, but the activated effects will stack wi"
by Published on 2010-11-22 08:47 AM

Patch 4.0.3a (most likely) this week
As far as I know, Patch 4.0.3a is still supposed to be deployed this week but I'll wait a little longer before I go crazy on confirmations and super huge front page posts.




Rested XP before Cataclysm
Originally Posted by Valnoth (Blue Tracker)
Rested experience will be reset at launch. You will start at 0 rested.


Cataclysm Factions Pages
I wanted to wait the release of Patch 4.0.3a before pushing the rest of the Cataclysm content to avoid confusions on what is/isn't released but I assume that factions pages won't do any hurt. This is a first draft, I might add more information before the actual release of the expansion.







Darkmoon Faire Fortune Wallpapers
The Darkmoon Faire Fortune page has been updated with 2 new wallpapers.



The MMO Report
It's monday, time for your weekly dose of MMO Report!



Comics
Teh Gladiators #186 + #187 is out and ... Dark Legacy isn't, apparently.

by Published on 2010-11-20 03:02 AM

Update - Added full transcripts for both interviews! Thanks to the very useful and patient Sunshine for all the work she did!

Out With the Old: Major Quest Changes Inbound
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
As you're all aware by now, the shattering of Azeroth will drastically and permanently alter the continents of Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms. In the wake of Deathwing's devastation, adventurers will be summoned to embark on new quests from levels 1 to 60 in these transformed territories -- and with so much new content to be found on these original two continents, many original quests will no longer be available after the shattering occurs. These quests will automatically be removed from your quest log, while any quests you’ve accepted that still exist in Azeroth will remain in your log.

You may be wondering how the shattering will affect the Loremaster achievements. If you've already completed Loremaster of Eastern Kingdoms or Loremaster of Kalimdor, you will not lose your achievements. However, if you've made progress toward these achievements without yet completing them, be aware that any quests that are removed from the game will no longer count toward your progress, so you may see your achievement quest counter drop. If you’re close to earning either of these achievements, we strongly suggest you finish them with great haste, as Deathwing's return is imminent.

In addition, the Loremaster achievements are being redesigned slightly to make them easier to track. Rather than having players complete a huge number of quests throughout a single continent, the criteria will change so that you will instead need to complete a set number of quests in each zone. Once you've earned the achievements for each listed zone on a continent, you will then be awarded the Loremaster achievement for that continent. For those who do have Loremaster of Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms completed already, you can still go back and get the new achievements for questing in individual zones on those continents.

We look forward to giving you an opportunity to take on brand new adventures in these classic zones. The times they are a-changin'.
Category Description Pts
KalimdorAshenvale Quests
Complete 70 quests in Ashenvale.
10
KalimdorAshenvale Quests
Complete 80 quests in Ashenvale.
10
KalimdorAzshara Quests
Complete 100 quests in Azshara.
10
KalimdorBloodmyst Isle Quests
Complete 65 quests in Bloodmyst Isle.
10
KalimdorDarkshore Quests
Complete 90 quests in Darkshore.
10
KalimdorDesolace Quests
Complete 55 quests in Desolace.
10
KalimdorDustwallow Marsh Quests
Complete 60 quests in Dustwallow Marsh.
10
KalimdorDustwallow Marsh Quests
Complete 50 quests in Dustwallow Marsh.
10
KalimdorFelwood Quests
Complete 55 quests in Felwood.
10
KalimdorFeralas Quests
Complete 40 quests in Feralas.
10
KalimdorFeralas Quests
Complete 45 quests in Feralas.
10
KalimdorNorthern Barrens Quests
Complete 70 quests in Northern Barrens.
10
KalimdorSilithus Quests
Complete 19 quests in Silithus.
10
KalimdorStonetalon Mountains Quests
Complete 60 quests in Stonetalon Mountains.
10
KalimdorStonetalon Mountains Quests
Complete 40 quests in Stonetalon Mountains.
10
KalimdorSouthern Barrens Quests
Complete 50 quests in Southern Barrens.
10
KalimdorSouthern Barrens Quests
Complete 40 quests in Southern Barrens.
10
KalimdorTanaris Quests
Complete 40 quests in Tanaris.
10
KalimdorThousand Needles Quests
Complete 60 quests in Thousand Needles.
10
KalimdorUn'Goro Crater Quests
Complete 45 quests in Un'Goro Crater.
10
KalimdorWinterspring Quests
Complete 60 quests in Winterspring.
10
KalimdorLoremaster of Kalimdor
Complete the Kalimdor quest achievements listed below.
10
KalimdorLoremaster of Kalimdor
Complete the Kalimdor quest achievements listed below.
10
Eastern KingdomsArathi Highlands Quests
Complete 18 quests in Arathi Highlands.
10
Eastern KingdomsBadlands Quests
Complete 35 quests in Badlands.
10
Eastern KingdomsBlasted Lands Quests
Complete 35 quests in Blasted Lands.
10
Eastern KingdomsBurning Steppes Quests
Complete 40 quests in Burning Steppes.
10
Eastern KingdomsCape of Stranglethorn Quests
Complete 60 quests in the Cape of Stranglethorn.
10
Eastern KingdomsDuskwood Quests
Complete 45 quests in Duskwood.
10
Eastern KingdomsEastern Plaguelands Quests
Complete 70 quests in Eastern Plaguelands.
10
Eastern KingdomsGhostlands Quests
Complete 50 quests in Ghostlands.
10
Eastern KingdomsHillsbrad Foothills Quests
Complete 50 quests in Hillsbrad Foothills.
10
Eastern KingdomsHinterlands Quests
Complete 30 quests in the Hinterlands.
10
Eastern KingdomsLoch Modan Quests
Complete 45 quests in Loch Modan.
10
Eastern KingdomsNorthern Stranglethorn Quests
Complete 50 quests in Northern Stranglethorn.
10
Eastern KingdomsRedridge Mountains Quests
Complete 40 quests in Redridge Mountains.
10
Eastern KingdomsSearing Gorge Quests
Complete 35 quests in Searing Gorge.
10
Eastern KingdomsSilverpine Forest Quests
Complete 60 quests in Silverpine Forest.
10
Eastern KingdomsSwamp of Sorrows Quests
Complete 25 quests in Swamp of Sorrows.
10
Eastern KingdomsWestern Plaguelands Quests
Complete 45 quests in Western Plaguelands.
10
Eastern KingdomsWestfall Quests
Complete 35 quests in Westfall.
10
Eastern KingdomsWetlands Quests
Complete 40 quests in Wetlands.
10
Eastern KingdomsLoremaster of Eastern Kingdoms
Complete the Eastern Kingdoms quest achievements listed below.
10
Eastern KingdomsLoremaster of Eastern Kingdoms
Complete the Eastern Kingdoms quest achievements listed below.
10
QuestsThe Loremaster
Complete the quest achievements listed below.
Reward: Title & Loremaster's Colors
10
QuestsThe Loremaster
Complete the quest achievements listed below.
Reward: Title & Loremaster's Colors
10


Interview with Gary Platner
This video features an interview with Lead Environment Artist Gary Platner on crafting the world... of Warcraft, and the tools and processes that bring the game to life


Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Rob Simpson: Hi there, I'm Rob Simpson from the Blizzard e-Sports Team and today joining me I have Gary Platner, the lead environment artist for World of Warcraft, and we've got an exclusive chance to interview him, ask him a few questions, and pick his brain a little bit about the coming expansion.

So, Gary, to get started, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into the gaming industry.

Gary Platner: I just answered an ad in the paper a long time ago back in about '93. I answered an ad from Sega. They needed artists, and I had just graduated so I applied, but they didn't hire me because I didn't go to Art Center. Apparently they thought I was good enough, but I didn't actually go to Art Center, so they didn't want me. But it got me into thinking about video games, so I took the first job that I could, a little game company in Costa Mesa. I worked there for a few years, I worked at Interplay for about 4 years, I was art director on Fallout 2, I was lead artist on Fallout 1, and a little bit on Torment. And then I went and started at Blizzard in May of '99. I've been here ever since, about 11 years.

Rob Simpson: Cool, cool. So tell us a little bit about what being a lead environment artist entails.

Gary Platner: Well, the environment team is very small, we only have about 4 people, and it's our job to make the world. I always say we put the "world" in World of Warcraft. We make all the natural elements to the game, the trees and the rocks, all the ground textures, the sky clouds, even water, everything like that. We also do a few other things like all the loading screens and the little in-game cinematics when you start a character, we also do that. But our main job is to provide artwork for the exterior level designers.

Rob Simpson: Awesome, so kind of give them a lot of the tools and pieces that they need to make the world happen.

Gary Platner: Yeah, we give them all the art, we make all the artwork, we work with them on how we're going to make a zone. We'll make a little demo zone with our artwork and just go from there.

Rob Simpson: So after years of conceptualizing and designing these world of warcraft environments, how have these tools or processes that you and your team use sort of evolved over the years and chnaged.

Gary Platner: Oh, they've evolved a lot. We have our own proprietary software called WowEdit. It's our own tool, and that has changed many times over the years; actually, almost every month there's something new added. We have a very active tools team. We call it tools, they're just functions and things we can put into the game, put into WowEdit, rather.

So WowEdit has really changed; it's really turned into this great art tool, it's a really nice painting tool. We can paint and texture terrain with a Wacom pen, so you can push and pull geometry and move trees and scale stuff around and paint on our textures. It's very artistic, and that has really improved a lot over the years.

Rob Simpson: And so now over the years as these environments have been changed or added with each new expansion, what kind of challenges have you been confronted with? Especially with Cataclysm; there's a lot of changes coming there.

Gary Platner: Right, right. Well, the big challenge was for us in the beginning to really make the old world look a little more updated. There's a lot of stuff we couldn't do, and a lot of people don't know this, but the reason we did a lot of things in the old world was because of our limitations of the engine. You couldn't see very far, we had a thing called LOD, which is level of detail, and it would in a sense reduce the polycount of mountainscape -- when you look in the distance, it would kind of remove a few polygons. So we would make our mountains a little bit different. Now, we don't have to worry about that; you can see much further in WoW, our mountains and terrain can look a lot better. So when we went back to Cataclysm, we wanted to make all that stuff look better like we did in Northrend, make the mountains look a little more detailed, which we couldn't do in the beginning.

Deepholm was kind of tough. We wanted to do some giant cave inside some kind of planet thing. We weren't sure how to do it, so we thought we wanted new tech, or we thought we may need it, where we could make terrain upside-down. So we'd have the same terrain up here that we could have on the bottom. We were sure we wanted that, and we got the tools team to make that happen for us, and then we decided we had a different solution, and we didn't end up using it. And the tools team was like "Well, we spent months on this, and you don't need it?" And I'm like "Well, I'm sure we'll use it, but just not today."

Rob Simpson: So what are the other steps that your team has taken to go from hearing the initial story progression plan for Cataclysm to visually incorporating and enhancing in all of these aspects of the game?

Gary Platner: Well, any time you give an artist something new that's old to work on, we want to improve it a lot. With Cataclysm, it was about the same kind of progression we would do; we would talk about a zone and talk about what we wanted to do, and all that stuff would happen on paper. For an artist, we need to see that, and we need to visualize how that's going to look, so we would do lots of concepts. Just big paintings about how we wanted things to look, so we could approve what we wanted. Once we see all the colors, that way we'll know if that's something we want to do. So we'll do a lot of artwork; we'll have Justin Kuntz, Gus Schmidt, he would do that on our team, Mark Gibbons a little bit.

So once we have a piece of art, a big concept, well from there we can just make the whole game. The concept is our roadmap. We've got the colors of the fog, we've got the lighting, the ground textures, how our trees are going to look, it's a consistent thing. You know, people probably don't realize that when you make a game like World of Warcraft, you need to make it as though one person did it, but many people would have worked on many different aspects of it. Different team doing the buildings, different team doing the trees, and lighting and everything but it's such an artistic style, you know, stylistic game, we want it to look like it was one guy who did it, like it's a complete painting.

Rob Simpson: So I know you've worked on a lot of pieces, now, over the years, what's your favorite new environment added or changed in this upcoming expansion?

Gary Platner: Oh, well there's so many that are my favorite, of course they're all my favorite, they're all really good.

Rob Simpson: Well, you can pick a favorite.

Gary Platner: I can; I do have a favorite. Vashj'ir is really amazing; it came out really good. When we first heard about it, doing a whole underwater zone was like "How are we going to pull this off? This is going to be crazy." But it came out really, really good. I really love Lost Isles, I really love Kezan, the starting zone for the goblins.

But my very, very favorite zone has got to be Gilneas, for the worgen, the worgen starting zone. That came out so good; it's just the consistency between our buildings, even the clothes the worgen are wearing and the human version of them are wearing, the ground textures, the lighting; it's just a cohesive theme and everything works so well in that zone. It's just gorgeous.

Rob Simpson: Was there anything that you can currently do now that does stand out that you couldn't do before given those tools and other things that have evolved?

Gary Platner: Right, right. Well, there are actually lots of things. To mention a few, I always talk at Blizzcon about vertex shading, one of my favorite features, where we can add color and light. We can paint that in essentially anywhere we want to, we can use it as a highlight or a shadow which adds more dimension for the game. That's always been great, and we've always done more with that.

For Cataclysm, we have a thing called point lights, which is like adding a light to, say a lamp. We can put a light on a lamp now and it will illuminate the ground around it, illuminate the character, or add color. Or say if there wasn't a lamp there or anything, we just wanted to add different color to a zone; well, we can now do that with these point lights, and add a little more color, a little more shading, stuff that we couldn't do with our lighting system before. Really cool.

But probably the best thing, the most incredible part of our tools, is a thing we call LiveUpdate. The idea is, if we're in WowEdit, and you're making something, you're pulling terrain and stuff, what you have to do if you want to see that in game, you have to level build it, you have to actually put it in your local build of the game, run your game, and see it. Now, I can work on WowEdit and have the game running and see what I'm doing. I can move a bush or move a tree or do terrain; I can see that happening in game. Because WowEdit is close to what the game looks like, but it's not exactly. I need to see how things really are looking for the player, so now we can do that. And that tool is the best tool that we have.

Rob Simpson: Alright, well, Gary, thank you very much for joining us, and thank you to all of you at home for getting us this exclusive interview with Gary Platner, the lead environment artist. We'll see you in Cataclysm.

Interview with Jesse McCree
This video features an interview with Lead Level Designer Jesse McCree as he describes the work that went into the goblin and worgen starting zones.

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Hi there, I'm Rob Simpson from the Blizzard e-Sports Team and today joining me I have Jesse McCree, the lead level designer for World of Warcraft.

Rob Simpson: So I know that you did a lot of work on the goblin and worgen starting areas, so what were some of the challenges you faced in integrating the goblin and worgen starting areas in this already pre-existing world?

Jesse McCree: The goblin and worgen were both pre-existing races, but they had never had a full treatment done. There were goblin around the world and they had a different style of architecture. We wanted to make a new set of architecture that would make them stand out given their own personality, and the same for the worgen. We needed to build an entire culture to kind of base their starting areas around, and we wanted to integrate those two types into the old world wherever they set up a new town. You would be able to tell from a distance "this is the new worgen", and when you see the new goblin building, ou can identify what you're walking toward or what you're in when you're there.

Some other challenges were making those areas *fit* into the world -- previously Gilneas didn't actually exist, so we had to build that.

Rob Simpson: So in terms of having literal space, or feeling like it belongs there?

Jesse McCree: Both. We wanted to make sure that it kind of blended in. We built Gilneas in the physical space off the coast of Silverpine, and we integrated some of that new architecture that we built for them and some of the style into that zone so they transition nicely.

Rob Simpson: Right, so you kind of have that consistent feeling from going from Gilneas into Silverpine.

Jesse McCree: Right, and the same thing with Azshara. When the goblins get there, we wanted it to feel like this is now their land, they have a purpose there, and it's now identifiable as a goblin zone. We did a lot of changes to Azshara to make them fit.

Rob Simpson: How did you approach each race in each design phase? What were some of the things that might have stood out, or what were some of the details that might have been parallel or consistent with each other throughout these zones?

Jesse McCree: First we had to pick which races we wanted to do. We looked at a lot of options for what races we could do, and these two were very strong. They have a lot of character and personality, and we thought they would be really fun to play.

Rob Simpson: So what are some of the major differences that the goblin and worgen areas have that pre-existing areas may not have in the World of Warcraft original release?

Jesse McCree: Players who are playing those races are probably experience players, so we don't do as much hand-holding as we do in some of the early levels in some of the other races, so we're able to make some new and interesting quests.

Rob Simpson: And that also means that you can kind of do a little more advanced things?

Jesse McCree: Yeah, those areas are definitely a little more advanced than some of the early zones.

Some of the other things we're doing in the starting area for goblin and worgen is that we're using new technology for terrain phasing. It kind of started with the Death Knight area that we made for Wrath of the Lich King.

Rob Simpson: Which was glorious.

Jesse McCree: Right. We didn't have a real terrain phasing system, but now we can kind of take the terrain, reshape it, and kind of load it in when the player's not looking, and he'll see something totally different than what was there before. So now we're able to make a volcano erupt and show the effects of that, or we also do a part where there's an earthquake in the worgen starting area and several buildings and a big chunk of land fall into the ocean. We tie quests into that, so when those things have happened, you get something new and interesting to do.

Rob Simpson: So how were the stories of the goblin and worgen races integrated into the actual level design of their areas?

Jesse McCree: To integrate the goblin, we wanted to touch a lot on their personalities. They're reckless, they're dangerous, they'll build things with total disregard for the environment. They're primarily driven by their desire to just invent and destroy at any cost.

And the worgen, their personality is a lot different. We tried to pull in some of the druidic aspects. Because they're tied so heavily with the night elves, we wanted to show their effect in the terrain was more about that.

Rob Simpson: Alright, so Jesse McCree, thank you very much for joining us, and again, thank you to all of you at home for unlocking this very exclusive interview with the lead level designer for World of Warcraft. We'll see you in Cataclysm.

Raid Lock Wipe
Originally Posted by Bashiok (Blue Tracker)
In preparation for the new flex lock system we’ll be wiping the following raid locks at the time of the next patch release.

  • Onyxia's Lair
  • Naxxramas
  • Ulduar
  • Obsidian Sanctum
  • Eye of Eternity
  • Vault of Archavon
  • Trial of the Crusader

“Why Does Blizzard Hate Healers?”
Ghostcrawler posted his first blog post on the new site, I'm not sure if that's why he's been less active on forums but it also means that his posts will be translated in 4 languages before they reach players.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
You may have heard that healing in Cataclysm is going to feel different. The role will be more challenging, particularly in terms of resource management. This won’t be news to a lot of regular forum readers, but I see enough “why nerf healers?” concerns that I thought it was still a worthwhile topic for an inaugural developer blog.

As a blanket statement, healer mana wasn’t a big concern in Wrath of the Lich King. You could run out of mana sometimes, but it really didn’t affect your spell choice in the way it did prior to Lich King. We think resources should be important, though. A lot of gameplay in a wide variety of games comes down to managing a limited resource, whether it's Vespene Gas in an RTS, ammo in an FPS, or even time in a puzzle game. Managing your resources well makes you a better player. Not being limited by resources can feel empowering over a short period of time, but only because it feels like you’re breaking the rules. In fact you are breaking the rules, and once those short periods of time have ended, a game can quickly lose its luster. Godmode isn’t nearly as compelling in the long term as it might seem at first glance.

Now, it is true that resource management is an even bigger part of the game for healers than it is for other roles. “Not fair!” you might be ready to cry. I used this analogy once before, and it seemed to resonate with lots of people, so I’ll use it again. Dealing damage is like a sprint. You typically want to go as fast as you can. Healing isn’t a race though -- it’s more like darts. You want to be as precise as you can. A big part of the healing gameplay is using the right tool for the right job. The resource cost of those tools is one of the things that differentiates them. Remove the resource constraint and you lose one dimension that differentiates the tools. Good healers used to pride themselves on keeping everyone standing up without running out of mana.

For a number of reasons, all of which were completely our fault, healers had too much mana regeneration in Wrath of the Lich King. Let’s look at the consequences of infinite mana for a moment.

For starters, those expensive, fast heals were never a difficult choice. Expensive doesn’t really apply in the absence of a cost, so they were just fast heals. Why wouldn’t you want to cast a fast heal? Healer gameplay became smaller because they had fewer options. Rather than choosing the right tool, everyone picked a spell such as Power Word: Shield, Flash of Light or Rejuv, and just used that spell. Over and over. We think a cornerstone of good gameplay is making interesting decisions. When your toolbox is too small (because the expensive or slow spells are immediately discarded as tools) then you are making fewer interesting decisions.

Second, since healers weren’t really running out of mana, we had to find other ways to make those raid encounters that were designed to be challenging actually challenging. That often came down to very high tank or raid damage. So now not only did healers not have much of a choice about which spell to use, but they also had to use that spell every global cooldown or risk someone dying. This made healing stressful without the reward of having made good decisions. If you healed the wrong target, hesitated for a moment, or had a laggy connection, then someone was going to die.

Third, anything that played off of mana regeneration, such as a talent, a stat like Spirit, or even a proc from a trinket, became undesirable. Furthermore, since mana wasn’t a concern, overhealing was also not a concern, and players did it with abandon. When everything is an overheal already, then stats like critical strike chance also become devalued.

Fourth, PvP balance suffered. When healers could easily heal anyone to full without fear of overhealing or running out of mana, then battles became very binary. You either killed someone or you didn’t. Nobody sat in a wounded state very long. There was no sense of a changing tide or someone coming from behind. Imagine a tennis match where the outcome of the first serve won or lost the entire match. We could have improved this situation by increasing health pools, which is exactly what we did for Cataclysm, but larger health pools with infinite mana would just make bosses feel unthreatening.

To be clear, we don’t want healers to constantly run out of mana. We want them to run out of mana when they don’t play well. And we don’t want them to always fail. But we do want them to feel good when they are challenged, and overcome those challenges to succeed. When someone is wounded, we want healers to consider whether to use a slow, efficient heal (because they aren’t in immediate threat of dying) or a fast, expensive heal (because they are). That’s called triage, and it was notably missing from the Lich King healing environment. We think triage will make healing more fun. We’re making this change not to make healers sad by nerfing them, but to make healers happy by making the game more fun for them.

Source:

Mark Your Calendars: Pilgrim's Bounty
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Pull up a chair, grab a sizable helping of your favorite food, and prepare to reflect on the year's good tidings -- you're invited to Pilgrim's Bounty!

The festivities start this Sunday, November 21, and continue all the way through next Saturday, November 27. Try your hand at cooking, hunt down a wild turkey with friends, or throw tradition to the wind and participate in an all-out food fight. There's fun for everyone, so we hope to see you there!

Bountiful Tables
Bountiful Tables are the centerpiece of the Pilgrim's Bounty celebration. They're loaded with tasty treats and surrounded by interactive chairs that allow you to eat and share food with other players via the action bar.

A Bountiful Table is laid out with five different Pilgrim's Bounty foods, one in front of each chair. Each chair has an unlimited supply of one food, and they are conveniently labeled: The Sweet Potato Chair, The Turkey Chair, The Stuffing Chair, The Cranberry Chair, and The Pie Chair. While in a chair, you may eat as much of that food as you like, as well as pass servings of that food to other players sitting in the chairs. Share the bountiful feasts with your friends!

If you eat five helpings of any single food, you'll gain benefits unique to that food. In addition, if you eat five helpings of every food, you'll gain the Spirit of Sharing, which lasts one hour and increases all reputation gained by 10%. This is accomplished much faster if you work together with your fellow feasters at passing food to one another.

Daily Cooking Quests
Pilgrim's Bounty also plays host to a series of daily cooking quests designed to help chefs master their craft with seasonal recipes plucked from a Bountiful Cookbook. These quests require players to travel between the major cities of Azeroth and to fill the stomachs of armies with seasonal food. The reward for these quests is a Turkey Caller, a prize that ensures that the accomplished pilgrim will never go hungry again.

If you're interested in learning the Pilgrim's Bounty's recipes, speak with an NPC outside any major city. Stuffing and potatoes are easy enough to put in front of a fire, but if you want to cook a turkey, you'll need to catch one first. Un-sling your trusty Turkey Shooter and prepare for the hunt.

Locations
Major Cities (Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdom Only): Stormwind, Ironforge, Darnassus, Exodar, Orgrimmar, Undercity, Silvermoon City, and Thunderbluff

Minor Towns: Goldshire, Kharanos, Dolanaar, Azure Watch, Razor HIll, Bloodhoof Village, Brill, Tranquilien, Ruins of Thaurissan, Shadowprey Village, Falconwing Square, Stonard, Hammerfall, Revantusk Village, Light's Hope Chapel, Wildhammer Keep, Chilwind Camp, Southshore, Tarren Mill, Sepulcher

While we understand that this is a troubling time for Azeroth, we still encourage everyone -- perhaps while you're fleeing from those rampaging elementals -- to sit down and enjoy the holiday's tidings. After all, if you don't give thanks for all the good things in your life, the Twilight's Hammer cultists win.





Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Zombie Invasion / Elemental Invasion
It's sort of that damned if you do damned if you don't situation.

The response from the zombie invasion was overwhelmingly negative, and so we took that feedback and made sure that future events would be fun and interactive, but not a griefers paradise.

Obviously there are plenty of griefers though, and they'll always remember it and always compare events to it. Nothing will ever be as 'fun' as the zombie event was, and that's sort of the point, it's not a type of fun that most people enjoyed.

I'll always look back on the zombie event fondly, just as I will the shattering, but for different reasons. (Source)
by Published on 2010-11-19 12:08 PM

If you missed it, make sure you check Yesterday's Dev Chat

What's in Patch 4.0.3a
Sammew posted an interesting list of the features you should and should not expect in Patch 4.0.3a on the official forums. Zarhym also jumped in, and announced a 20% reduction to the XP required to gain levels from 71 to 80.

What is not in:
  • Creating worgen/goblin characters
  • Worgen/Goblin start zones
  • Archeology
  • Professions past 450 (Illustrious Grand Master)
  • Guild leveling
  • Guild achievements
  • Eastern Kingdoms/Kalimdor flight
  • New Zones (80+)

What is in:
  • Portals in Dalaran/Shattrath Removed
  • Class trainers in Dalaran where portals once were
  • New race-class combinations (excluding worgen/goblin)
  • New Gnome/Troll starting areas
  • Changes to existing zones
  • New cata load screens
  • New cata intro cinematic
  • New cata login screen
  • New music
  • City Quartermasters, with rep tabards
  • Bug fixes
  • Class balancing
  • Druids, paladins, priests, and shaman will have their talent trees reset
  • Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 is being reduced by 20%
  • New tamable hunter pets (Monkey, fox, dog, and beetle, as well as new skins for existing pet classes.)

Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
Good thread, Sammew. Aside from content, also included in the upcoming patch are several class balance changes and bug fixes. Due to several talent revisions for select classes, druids, paladins, priests, and shaman will have their talent trees reset.

Experience required to gain levels 71 through 80 is being reduced by 20%.

You'll also get the Cataclysm introductory cinematic and new login screen.

Your Fortune Awaits
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
The ground trembles beneath your feet and sinister cultists speak of impending doom. Loved ones have gone missing and the appearance of angered elementals only adds to the confusion. What does the future hold for Azeroth's heroes? What fortune awaits within Sayge’s cards? Visit the Darkmoon Faire and shed light on these mysteries.

Join the ranks of the Horde or the Alliance by taking the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm personality test. Gain insight into your destiny by answering a series of questions that probe into your inner workings and draw fortune's cards to catch a glimpse of the future.

By "Liking" and "Sharing" content on the site, taking the personality test, and submitting original images or videos to our contests, you can help unlock exclusive content for the Horde or Alliance!


Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Stood in the Fire Feat of Strength
It'll be virtually impossible to predict when and where he'll show up. Deathwing does what he wants. Waiting in a random zone for him to show up is not going to be very effective. It could literally take days for him to hit the zone you're in. (Source)

Official Forums
All forums are now read only. We'll see you over at the new site! (Source)

Onyxian Whelpling
It was a pet rewarded to any characters that logged on during the 5th year anniversary. While some special pets are account-wide and mailed on new character creation, the Onyxian Whelpling was not one of them. (Source)

Loremaster in Cataclysm
We hope to release more details about Loremaster tomorrow. Stay tuned! (Source)

Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Horn of Winter
The behavior you're describing is the result of a bug which will be fixed in the next patch prior to the release of Cataclysm. You will again be able to toot your own horn to gain runic power, you just won't get the Attack Power benefit if a similar buff is already present. (Source)

Fan Art
A new Fan Art has been added to the official site.

by Published on 2010-11-19 12:08 AM

Cataclysm Dev Chat with BestBuy
The dev chat is now over, see the transcript below.
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment

Cataclysm - General
Has Blizzard considered adding a "Tabards Tab" to the UI, so that tabard collectors can switch out tabards more effectively without having to take up bank and bag space? --Thanks! Deathunholy of Galakrond
We have talked about adding a tabard tab. We've talked about doing a closet tab to handle it. It isn't something we are adding for Cataclysm though.

Will you allow players to fill their quest log with say, 25 dailies, and then turn them in right after Midnight on December 7th to get a quick boost towards 85? This is how it worked in the beta, but some players are confused on whether it will work on Live. Thanks!
Regarding 25 daily quests to turn in when the expansion goes live, this is something players have been able to do for the last 2 expansions and we aren't talking about changing it now.

I understand the decision from an economic perspective but I was wondering if the deveopers were disappointed in the decision to allow race changes immediately following the release of the expansion.
Regarding allowing race/faction change on day one. Actually this wasn't an economic decision at all. This was a decision that the leadership team made. Our priority as a dev team is to allow players to play the game with their friends, the way they want too. We also talked about the fact that this is a week one problem. So we made the decision not to restrict anything.

Will darnasus be re built to be a real tree or will it always look like a dead stump with trees at the top.
- ...but now that Deathwing is doing his thing it makes much more sense than it used to! ;]
- Deathwing hates trees.

A lot of players I know are trying to plan out what characters to roll for the new expansion, and the big question is: Will there be ANY new realms tagging along with the release of Cataclysm? Some point to low pop realms as a reason against, but surely with the redux'd 1-60 experience and the droves of returning players desiring clean slates, there has never been a better time for a fresh realm or two?
We haven't decided exactly what the new realm decisions are yet, but we open new realms when there is player demand for them. One thing we can't do is plan all realms for day one. The goal is for realms to have good concurrency so everyone has a great game/matchmaking experience.

With the changes to the game environment itself, what new computer requirements will be optimal to run the game smoothly?
One of the things that is really important to us is a great gaming experience regardless of your hardware. While the system requirements do go up over time, we do want the experience on slower machines to be great. We do this by trying to add a lot of graphical options to allow players to control the experience from "runs fast" all the way to "looks great".

where did Uldum come from?
- Egypt ;]
- The idea with Uldum is that it has always been there, cloaked from the eyes of the players. The emergence of Deathwing has damaged some of the technology that kept it hidden. There is a story in the zone that explains this and what has been happening in the player absence.

Why is it that we are not able to use Archeaology before the exspansion? I thought it was really cool how you guys released Inscription last time and would love to have the opportunity to level it before the exspansion drops.
Using archeology before the expansion was something we talked about, but ended up adding everything about the profession to the "post sundered" world. Thus, you won't be able to use archeology before the sundering happens.

What happened with the Worgen district in Stormwind?
We decided it didn't really fit very well, it was looking kind of awkwardly forced into the city. Plus deathwing would have destroyed it anwyays.

What would you say was the hardest and/or easiest parts of developing this expansion? After all, many are saying this is the best expansion to date... So, what was the biggest challenge/easiest feat in creating it?
There have been huge challanges with this expansion, unlike any we've seen in the other two expansions. The scale of Cataclyms is huge for us, and something we didn't really expect when we started development. But we certainly feel like the effort has been worth it, and feel it's our best expansion so far.

Will you allow players to change their login screen? I'd love to be able to use the Classic login screen, the unreleased one that was shown at Blizzcon, or perhaps a login screen of a previous expansion.
Players are not able to change their login screen.

Will the option ever be available to change ones class, contingent upon what's currently available to the race restrictions at the time?
Never say never, but we don't currently have plans to do that.

Was there anything you guys regret not being able to include at launch? Possibly something that didn't have enough polish to it that me way see in the future? (You don't need to mention the Dance Studio at this point, really, it's okay)
Well... there is the dance studio. ;] There are of course always things we'd hoped to get into any patch/expansion that get pushed out until later. One example would be the idea to have a built-in atlas that details every encounter in each dungeon/raid. We're not super happy about the fact that the first time anyone encounters a new boss, the only way to learn about it (other than looking up strategies on the web) is to charge in and die a lot.

We'd love to give players some idea of what they're about to fight before they engage the boss. =]

When designing expansions and content patches, do you have a list of new features to choose from that are planned out in advance or is there more of a brain storm session?
The feature set for each patch is determined by a combination of doing things (or finishing things) that we've been wanting to do for a while, along with completely new ideas that emerge as a result of the immediate needs of the game

The primary things you won't be able to do if you don't have Cataclysm are create a new Goblin/Worgen, level to 85, and fly in the orld world.

We like to stay as flexible as possible, so it's important to us to make sure that we aren't "over planned" into the future even though the real needs players have are changing

WIth the previous two expansions, the new content was actually on other continents, so if you didn't have the expansion, you just couldn't visit the continent. Since Cata is largely reworking of old-world content, however, how do you differentiate between someone with or without the xpac? What kinds of things will and won't be available to players don't have the upgrade?
See my answer above!

Will the 80 to 85 experience be closer to the 18hr mark or the 5 day mark that was 70-80?
That totally depends on the player to be honest, you'd be amazed by the differences in play patterns. That being said, somebody usually finds a way to level up very quickly.

What new feature(s) in WoW: Cataclysm are you guys most proud of?
I would have to say the 1-60 revamp, it's a ton of fun to play through the zones and an incredible amount of new content.

I'm most happy with the new Worgen and Goblin starting experiences. I think they are the best starting experience we've ever done, and that includes the death knight.

i have is why not have this latest expansion as a new territory like a Southrend similar to Northrend or a Moon body like Outlands instead of destroying Azeroth and Kalimdor? Were there limitations to expanding outwards or was this just to facelift the original game?
We make decisions like this on a case by case basis.. again depending on the needs of the game. In the case of Cataclysm, the world was due in for an overhaul, and we wanted to make everything fly-able, so it was important to flesh out any areas that were originally unfinished.

Is there an alternative mount for worgens that other races can ride
Worgen can ride the other mounts in the game, if that's what you're asking. They're not limited to their feral run.

Raids & Dungeons
Will it be as long of a wait to fight Deathwing as it was for Lich King?
Hopefully not, we definitely have a goal to get our content patches out more quickly than we have in the past, without sacrificing quality of course, we plan for deathwing to be the most amazing encounter we've ever made! =]

Could you comment on the plan for raids in cataclysm? If i remember it was said that there would be smaller raids in cata but more of them. Would that mean like two small raids per patch or more patches in total?
The idea is that we'll have more raid environments, but fewer bosses in each environment, but a similar total number of raid bosses overall... if that makes sense. =] so, for cataclysm launch we have the skywall environment, the twilight bastion environment, and blackwing descent, versus having almost all the bosses in one environment like we did with naxrammas.

The first tier of Cataclysm raiding has 3 seperate instances to tackle. Are you guys planning on keeping with the Burning Crusade model (SSC/TK, BT/Hyjal) and having multiple instances per raid tier? Will Deathwing have to share the spotlight with some other instance?
We'll evaluate that on a tier by tier basis. When we have awesome ideas that we can successfully make happen we'll do multiple environments, but it won't necessarily always be the case. We do have a super cool idea for the deathwing tier though... ...or at least so we hope. =]

I have been confused from the different posts for tier gear. Will there be three levels within each tier still or just heroic and normal and in either case will u just be getting them with points or will u still have to get certain things off drops off certain bosses to get the higher more heroic version of the tier gear?
There is still just normal and heroic difficulty for the raid and dungeon content, and the heroic gear has a higher item level than the corresponding normal gear

Is there any talks of maybe some faction cooperative campaigns? Since the cataclysm is threatening to destroy all life of azeroth, to me a logical response from the heroes of azeroth would be to set aside their differences and be able to work together in a raid. An Idea to maybe lessen the frequency of such groups is make the raid difficulty increase by choosing to work with the other faction, a sort of Heroic mode. Possibly even dual faction specific raids. Has there been any talks of such poss...
This is a common request, but not something we are looking to do. While there is a singular main bad guy in this expansion, the Horde and Alliance have their own unique challenges and agendas, and typically don't look to team up. After all it's the World of Warcraft, not the World of Peacecraft.

Patch 4.0.3a
Can you clarify and confirm what will be available to players when 4.0.3a hits and what will be unavailable until 7th Dec?
4.0.3a will be the patch that actually causes the world to shatter and change forever. At that point you will be able to experience the new 1-60 leveling experience, as well as the new race/class combinations.

Achievements
There's any through about making account wise achievement, like starcraft ones? It a reason for many players to not reroll/change mains since its look like a lot of work wasted when you switch your main char. Even changing to another char to help with one fight look a bit wrong now, if you are after achievements.
We do have plans to solve this problem, as it is limiting people from re-rolling for sure. This is something we want to solve, but don't have a good solution on how to do it at the moment.

Will achievment points ever be able to be used to purchase any perks?
We have no plans to allow this. Achievements are a badge of honor only.

Items
Will the heirloom items scale to 85?
The current plan is to have heirloom items stop at level 80 at the moment.

I was wondering what new and exciting mounts there will be and what your favorite so far is?
Not surprisingly there are all kinds of new mounts, we have spectral wolf/horse mounts, a dark phoenix, a camel, the new alchemy mount that turns you into a drake can ride, among others. Also a scorpion for the horde and a lion for the alliance. My favorite has to be the camel though... i mean really, who doesn't want to be a camel jockey?!

Will there be more than one Legendary weapon in Cata? Will there be a Caster DPS legendary? Any info or plans would be awesome =) Thanks!
It's likely there will be more than one legendary weapon, although it's too early to say for sure. We do, however, have a plan to do a caster dps staff soon.

With the level 1-80 Heirloom items, when Cataclysm is released will the xp gain work while leveling until you hit level 81? Or will XP gain be disabled for those on release?
They will not. Heirlooms stop granting their XP bonus at level 80. Not level 80.999999.

Why does it seem the scorpion guild mount doesn't have a guild flag where the lion does? I was hoping to see Hordes of scorpions from our guild walking around with our tabard hanging from the tail like a flag behind them. ~
When riding a scorpion mount, your character displays holding a large standard with your guild symbol on it.

Why did you decide to make 310% mount speed purchasable in 4.0? It's a huge price for such a tiny speed upgrade, and used to work well as a just-above-vanity perk for people who completed the toughest achievements.
The primary reason was to equalize the awesome vanity mounts players had, and change the mechanic to one where you used the mount you were most excited about using. We wanted players to be able to see the mount players want, without considering the speed differential as a factor.

How would a person get a Guild Mount? Would it be guild rep? If so how would that be calculated or obtained?
Once your guild gets to a high enough level and unlocks the guild mount, any player in the guild with a high enough guild reputation is able to buy the mount.

Will heirloom items work for goblins and worgens leveling from 1-80 at release?
Heirloom items will work perfectly for Worgen and Goblin characters! Enjoy!

Has there been any discussion of changing the heirloom items to true "Bind on Account" instead of the bind on server limitation that it has currently?.
That is something we would like to do. Currently the servers mail carriers refuse to work together, and haven't worked out the economic terms from transferring mail from one server to another. One day we hope to resolve the union issues.

Do honor points and Badges roll over into CATA, or do they reset to zero?
Yes, honor points and justice points carry over into cataclysm. Stock up now!

Player vs. Player
Do you feel faction imbalance is a problem at the moment? My queue is around 10-15 min at prime time as a member of the Horde and I know this is the case on at least two of the battlegroups. If so, do you think Worgen will fix the problem? And if they do not, will free faction changes ever be a possibility in the future on battlegroups or servers with a major problem?
We are working on some technology to further combine the PVP queues at server sites. This has been going on behind the scenes for a few weeks now in preparation for Cataclysm. Queue time is one of those things that gets a lot of attention and time, but will change significantly post Cata. Really good question.

Are there any plans to potentially add queueing to the rated battlegrounds instead of it having to be a pre-made raid team? I was really excited when I first heard about this feature, but after reading the FAQ i was a bit disappointed with that design.
we're currently looking into the possibility of having players in the honor battleground queue be able to be called to action by groups that aren't quite full, but we're going to see how the current queue'ing works out first so, that isn't something that would be available just yet

Classes
With resource systems now broadened to include focus, rage, energy, and runic power as well as mana, and there being conditionals like enrages, holy power, combo points and runes, will classes that just use mana be getting similar treatment or remaining as they are?
Really that decision is made on a class-by-class, talent tree-by-tree basis. If we feel like the talent spec in question needs a broader resource management then we do it, but we don't like to unnecessarily complicate a spec's resource management if it isn't absolutely necessary.

Death Knight (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
As the world of Azeroth is changing I was wondering if the Death Knight zone will stay the same or will it also be affected by the cataclysm?
The death knight zone doesn't have any changes for Cataclysm.

Druid (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Is the Moonkin form for troll and worgen on the beta and ptr the final form or is it just a placeholder?
Final!

Mage (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Right now, up to 50% of Ignite damage disappears due to the technical limitations of spells critting within certain timeframes. This has implications for Mage dps and the value of Mastery as a stat. Is overall damage being balanced to compensate and can we expect a solution in the near future?
We're resolving that by rolling up any "lost" ignite damage into the next ignite that overwrote it

Warlock (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Are there any plans for a new Lock mount? I would love to see a possible flying mount for Locks..
One of the things we look at with mounts is broad appeal. While we do specific class mounts from time to time, most of the time we look to have mounts that all classes can use.

Warrior (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Beta Skills/Talents)
Is Hit rating intended to tramp all other stats but Str for Fury till the 27% hardcap? Seems excessive
Generally speaking, we do balance hit rating to be the "best" stat until you're at the hit rating cap
by Published on 2010-11-18 09:23 AM

Cataclysm - The Shattering
I went through all the old zones pages and updated all of them with screenshots from the latest build of the beta (if you're wondering, that's a little more than 1400 screenshots). All these zones will be changed when Patch 4.0.3a is deployed on live servers, most likely next week or the week after. I also included links to Wowpedia for people who are looking for a few extra lore informations, etc ...

With the expansion getting closer, expect a lot of similar updates to Cataclysm articles in the next few days.

Kalimdor


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MMO-Champ / Wowpedia

MMO-Champ / Wowpedia



Wintergrasp Balancing in 4.0.3
Originally Posted by Zarhym (Blue Tracker)
In patch 4.0.3, Wintergrasp queuing was changed so that each battle attempts to match the factions at a 1-to-1 ratio. This is the exact system being used for Tol Barad in Cataclysm. While we understand that this inflates queue times for factions which are vastly overpopulated on select realms, we prefer this system over using Tenacity. In addition, the new system at least encourages playing on a faction that's better balanced against the opposing faction. With the old Wintergrasp functionality, players were almost encouraged to be on an overpopulated faction, further contributing to realm balance issues.

That said, we'll review realms with significant faction imbalances on a case-by-case basis in the event we need to take further action.

Rated Battlegrounds FAQ
The Rated Battlegrounds FAQ has been updated to what seems to be a final version.
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is just around the corner -- and that means Rated Battlegrounds will soon be available. While Rated Battlegrounds will only be open to level-85 characters, we know many of you may still have some questions about this new system, so we’ve put together an FAQ to help address some of the more common inquiries we've seen.

Q. What are Rated Battlegrounds?
A. Like the Arena system, Rated Battlegrounds are an alternative way for players to battle against opponents of similar skill levels and accrue rating to purchase powerful PvP gear. Instead of competing in a 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 bracket, though, you'll be testing your mettle in familiar environments like Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm, as well as all-new Battlegrounds set to release in Cataclysm.

Q. How are Rated Battlegrounds structured?
A. Rated Battlegrounds are broken down into two brackets: 10v10 and 15v15. These brackets rotate weekly and can be viewed in-game via the calendar by activating the Battleground holiday filter.

Q. What Battlegrounds are eligible for Rated Battleground matches?
A. Warsong Gulch, Arathi Basin, Eye of the Storm, Strand of the Ancients, Battle for Gilneas, and Twin Peaks.

Q. What happened to the 25v25 bracket?
A. We decided to remove this bracket. We don't feel it's feasible to ask players to coordinate a group of 25 players for Rated Battlegrounds. If any player happens to drop group just before a match begins, the raid group would not be able to enter the battle. We anticipate most players or guilds will stick with fairly dedicated 10-player groups, and making the jump to 15-player groups shouldn't be too difficult.

Q. How can I queue for a Rated Battleground?
A. Before entering the queue, you must first create a raid with the full number of players required for the weekly bracket (10 or 15). Any level-85 player on your realm and of your faction may participate in the battle regardless of guild association.

Once you have a raid of the appropriate size, simply open up the PvP window, click on the Conquest tab, highlight "Rated Battleground," and then click "Join Battle."

Q. Can I queue up solo and just be matched with a Rated Battleground team?
A. No. You will need to first join a raid of the appropriate size and level before you can queue up for a Rated Battleground. Individual queuing will not be available for Rated Battlegrounds.

Q. Do all players in the raid group have to be from the same guild in order to queue for a Rated Battleground?
A. No. So long as the raid group size matches the weekly bracket and is comprised of level-85 players, you can queue up for a Rated Battleground no matter what guild you are in. Guild membership has no effect on the formation of Battleground teams.

Winning a Rated Battleground with a team composed of at least 80% guild members, however, will result in the additional benefit of guild experience gain for that guild.

Q. How can I tell if my Rated Battleground team meets the minimum guild requirement?
A. If you join a Rated Battleground with the minimum number of required guild members, a special guild banner will appear in the upper-left corner of the in-game mini-map. This will let you know if you are eligible for the bonus guild experience.

Q. What are the normal benefits of winning a Rated Battleground?
A. When you win a Rated Battleground, you will be rewarded Conquest points, up to your weekly cap. Weekly caps are individual for each player and are based on your highest single PvP rating from the previous week (the cap resets on Tuesdays). This rating can be derived from your 2v2, 3v3, or 5v5 Arena rating or your Rated Battleground rating.

Q. What Rated Battleground rating do players start out with?
A. Players start at zero Rated Battleground rating and progress upward from there. If you lose a battle, your Rated Battleground rating will only be reduced if that rating is currently higher than your Match Making Value (MMV). For the most part, a rating only goes up.

Q. What’s MMV?
A. Match Making Value (or MMV for short) is our best measure of an individual player's skill. MMV is the skill rating per format (2v2, 3v3, 5v5, Battleground) and per character that is used for matchmaking. It exists to help the matchmaking system create great matches as quickly as possible for all players. It's generally not a rating we show, with the exception of an average MMV for Arena teams.

Q. Will my MMV go down in the event of a Rated Battleground loss?
A. Yes; however, unlike Arenas, all players in a Rated Battleground team will win or lose the same amount of Rated Battleground rating per match depending on its outcome.

Q. Does MMV for Rated Battlegrounds function the same as it does in Arenas (i.e. does it go up more when you beat a higher-rated team, and go down more when you lose to a lower-rated team)?
A. Yes. Your MMV will go up faster if you defeat a Rated Battleground team with a higher average MMV.

Q. What’s the plan to prevent your Rated Battleground rating from skyrocketing at high win ratios? If your rating only goes down when it is above your MMV, it seems that ratings will just be high on average (compared to Arena).
A. If your Rated Battleground rating gets inflated much beyond your MMV, you’ll only receive a minimal amount of points when you win. Similarly, you’ll lose many more points after a defeat, until your Rated Battleground rating gets back in line with your MMV. This will prevent inflation.

Q. Can consumables and engineering items be used in Rated Battlegrounds?
A.Yes, but they will follow the same rules and restrictions as Arenas.

Q. Will Rated Battleground teams only be matched against other teams in their Battlegroup?
A. No. Rated Battlegrounds will be region-wide, meaning that when you queue for a Rated Battleground, you will have the opportunity to be matched against a team from any of our North American World of Warcraft realms.

Q. Are there any plans to reward players with the highest Rated Battleground rating, similar to Arenas?
A. Epic ground mounts will be rewarded at the end of each season to the top 0.5% of players according to Rated Battleground rating. Titles are also available as you gain rating in the system. The titles are rewarded directly from achievements earned from gaining the required rating.

Fan Arts
The Blizzard Fan Art Section has been updated with 4 new Fan Arts.


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