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by Published on 2011-04-22 12:05 AM

Login Server Busy, Please Try Again
Super quick news post about the server issues.
Originally Posted by Lylirra (Blue Tracker)
We're aware that many players are currently receiving the message "Login Server Busy, Please Try Again" whenever attempting to log into World of Warcraft. While we don't have an ETA for when this issue will be resolved, we're looking into it at this time and hope have everyone back in the game as soon as possible.

In the meantime, in order to keep reports consolidated, we ask that you please keep posts related to this login issue in this thread. Duplicate threads will likely be locked and redirected here, or deleted completely.

Thanks for your patience! As updates become available, we'll provide them in this thread.
by Published on 2011-04-21 12:33 AM

Update - Build 13914 has been deployed on PTRs but doesn't bring any significant change to the game, looks like Blizzard is just wrapping up things for a live release.

Patch 4.2 Models - Fandral Staghelm (Fire Cat)
Today we have yet another model from Patch 4.2, the Fire Cat form of Fandral Staghelm! If you saw the Firelands Raid Preview posted a few weeks ago you already know that Fandral will be linked to one of the encounter in the Firelands, and he got a new model for the occasion.




I'm also reposting the new model of our good friend Ragnaros, a couple of people contacted me to get a nice photoshoppable version of my original screenshot so I did one with more angles than you could wish for and removed the watermarks. Please just promise me that you won't hurt his pride too much.



Remote Guild Chat Feedback and Bugs
Originally Posted by Bashiok (Blue Tracker)
As you might have seen ( http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/2653949#blog ), we recently rolled out an update to our iPhone and iPod touch Mobile Armory app that adds the ability to chat with your guild mates directly from your mobile device. We wanted to make sure we have a consolidated place where you can report bugs and offer us feedback on the features after trying Remote Guild Chat during the free preview period.

Before posting, here’s some info on a couple of the hot topics we’ve seen:


  • An update to the Android Remote Auction House app is scheduled to come out in the next few days that’ll grant access to guild chat. We know you want it; it’s coming real soon.

  • Realms are being rolled out in stages, and our goal is to make the feature available on all realms within roughly a week’s time. If your realm isn’t available, please hang tight. It won’t be long.

If you have the app and have been able to try guild chat on the currently supported realms, let us know what you think: Have you run into any issues? Any bugs you’ve been able to reproduce? What about the feature itself -- how do you like it? Any thoughts on how we can make it better?

Making the Scene
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
The goblin mail cannons recently "delivered" Issue 4 of the World of Warcraft Official Magazine to subscribers, or at least to their general vicinity. Did you get your copy? If not, what are you waiting for? If you subscribe today you can get articles like this exclusive interview with the Blizzard Entertainment cinematics team, along with much more. Check out the excerpt below for a taste of what you're missing.

Participants:

Jeff Chamberlain – Cinematic Projects Lead
Marc Messenger – Cinematics Project Director
Fausto De Martini – Cinematics 3D Art Director
Chris Thunig – Cinematic 2D Art Director
Jonathan Berube – Cinematic VFX Art Director

World of Warcraft Official Magazine: Blizzard cinematics have a distinctive look, but all of you probably have your own personal influences. What has influenced your work?

Fausto: I can say that for a lot of us, movies are a huge influence.

Jeff: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, anything sci-fi or fantasy. We all dig that a lot.

Fausto: Aliens. Blade Runner.

Jonathan: Definitely, more recently, Avatar -- because they use a similar pipeline as we do. So it shows you what someone else is capable of doing with the same tools you have in your hand. And when you see it, you're like, "OK, what are the differences here? How many people do they have? Do they have more budget? Different ways of approaching it? What is it?" That always makes more of a ripple effect than the other movies you get to watch more as a spectator enjoying the finished product.

Chris: Besides that, influence is really everywhere, right? I mean, we see it on trips, we look at the classical paintings. We go out and shoot whatever it is that we need to wrap our heads around. A lot of us grew up with pop-culture influences, obviously, but we really want to look at any type of inspiration out there and just take it all in.

Marc: One of the challenges with some of the effects on Cataclysm was that we didn't have a whole lot of frame of reference for what things should look like. What does the sky look like when it’s completely full of fire? What does a dam breaking a giant head with all this water coming out of it look like? Where are we supposed to go on YouTube and find a video of that? There was a lot of research and development to try to figure out what that should really look like. One of the hardest shots in there is the shot where we pull out and the three battering rams are all coming in and pounding on Deathwing. Then the hand comes out covered in lava and slams down and all the rocks go flying, and then we pull back and all this smoke is rising up around Deathwing's head. I think everybody in this room and practically everybody on our team had a hand in that shot because it was such a big deal. It was such a big camera move and encompassed so many different things happening. I think for that reason it stands out in my mind as one of the most successful shots that we did, because it was truly a team effort.


From Left to Right: Fausto De Martini, Chris Thunig, Marc Messenger, Jeff Chamberlain, and Jonathan Berube


Jonathan: I get a lot of inspiration from the Navy, funnily enough. I think they have some of the most sophisticated design. It's because the Navy is a business, right? And they have a very precise task. All of the design around any engineering they do is to fulfill a goal. There's no sort of artistic input in any of their design -- or very little. It's just forms full of function. To me, that's such a strong visual language because you look at a piece and know exactly what it does. Sometimes, as we design something, we try to just make it look cool. And then sometimes, it's hard to make it read well in terms of what it's going to do. I have a whole new sort of respect for the designers and engineers from the Navy or anyone who's a transportation designer... people who design cars or a car dashboard, the whole functionality behind forms and the layout of how things are placed.

Chris: Goes with the principle of not designing out of thin air, right? Having something to base your ideas on, something that people will recognize in some way, shape, or form.

Fausto: Yeah. The challenge for us is always combining that to make something memorable. You want to make sure whatever you're doing, especially for the main character, is something that's going to have a memorable, powerful silhouette. It’s like, "OK, that's Kerrigan." So combining and balancing all those elements is the challenge we always have in front of us.

Jonathan: Yeah. Designing something that has a lot of character in its appearance or the details reveals more and more information about the personality behind it. That's always very fun. Every time you add an item on a character or adjust a layout on a film set, it's like asking, "Who lives here? Are they tall? Are they short? Who made Deepholm? Was this a thousand years ago? If they crafted these crystal combs, what tools did they use? What were their resources? How tall were they? How big were they?" It's a study of who's responsible for this -- because that's not me. I'm not the engineer here. I don't live here. I'’s these people, and how can you make any item recognizable in terms of who drives it or lives in it?

Jeff: There are so many great artists at Blizzard, any time you get artwork from another team, it's just so inspirational. You get a 2D illustration of the new Diablo or something, and you're just like, "We can't wait to build that, to tell that story."

Jonathan: One of my biggest inspirations, funnily enough, is the game. I don't play the game at all. I had never played World of Warcraft until I had to make a character when Derrick Simmons, an ex-producer, came and gave me the CDs for World of Warcraft. I was getting coffee in the morning and I didn't know how to name my troll priest, so I named him Konablend because that was the type of coffee I drank every day. Every time I played the game, I wouldn't actually play the game. I would just look around and say, "I get it. Now I want to see the movie version." And there goes the cinematic.

When we go to a movie theater and we see the photorealism, it's such a deep visual language, and there's an insane amount of detail, but the ideas are sometimes not that cool. In the game, you see these crazy layouts and scenery and the ideas are really, really cool. We take that and deliver it in a language that people see every day. That, to me, is the reason why I’m in cinematics. I don’t play the game, but I watch people play. I don’t want to be a tauren; I just want to go have a Coors Light while sitting on my siege tank. I want to see that and take a group photo of my character with a siege tank. To me, that's the dream.

To see more of this interview and other articles like it, subscribe to the World of Warcraft Official Magazine here.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Hunter (Forums / Cataclysm Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Glyph of Greater Proportion > Glyph of Lesser Proportion
That was actually an error in the patch notes. The new glyph decreases pet size slightly:

Glyph of Mend Pet is now Glyph of Lesser Proportion, which decreases the size of the pet slightly.

[...] The patch note collection process is an interesting one. When wormholes and such are involved, it's no surprise that a note could come out with the exact opposite meaning.

I get a headache every time someone even asks me about patch notes, potentially because I quantum leaped into this body the moment prior to the question. (Source)

Comics
GUComics posted an interesting comic on the life of a worgen player leveling in Grizzly Hills ...

by Published on 2011-04-19 04:43 PM

Update - The online beta of Age of Empires Online is now available! Curse Premium members can get their beta keys now, non-premium members will have a chance to get one in 24 hours!

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


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


Critical History Lesson

In the original combat rules of World of Warcraft, melee classes could get 200% crits while casters could only get 150% crits. This was back when all the designers presumably played rogues instead of mages, which according to the forums is what we all play now (which makes our dungeon testing interesting, I gotta tell you.)

Over time, we added talents to allow various casters to get 200% crits as well. Warlocks “could” spend 5 points on the Ruin talent, for example, which you pretty much had to do to be a good warlock. As part of the Cataclysm talent tree evolutions we decided all DPS specs should be able to get 200% crits without investing talent points. There are still some inconsistencies though. Death knights can get 200% crits with both their melee and spell effects, while Assassination rogues get 200% crits with their physical attacks but only 150% crits with their poisons. Healers have always gotten 150% crits, both with their damage-dealing spells and with heals.

The overall design could be described as one that is simple to learn but complex to master. Or put another way, you know most of what you need to know if you’re told that crits do more damage. How much extra damage they do is one of those nuances that more experienced players learn over time and one of the things that makes classes feel different.

Or does it?

You could argue that we’re just keeping old rules that don’t really benefit the game. Is it very interesting that rogue poisons or Enhancement Lightning Bolts don’t have big crits? Does it make you feel different when you pick those classes or specs? Does it feel rewarding when you learn those subtle distinctions? I’d posit perhaps not. Homogenization is something we fight against all the time and one of the primary reasons that we don’t make class A’s ability work just like class B’s ability.


Homogenization -- A Dirty Word

If I can be snarky for a moment, players tend to beat the “homogenization!” drum too emphatically when they are losing something that is overpowered, and like to mock it as “flavor!” when we refuse to give them a cool ability that another class has.

Too much homogenization is a bad thing, no question. But do weird crit rules really fall into that category? There is a difference between being complex (which adds depth) and being complicated (which might just add confusion). We’d rather spend our “complexity points” on things that are really meaningful differences. Pick Assassination because you like daggers or poisons or maybe Rupture, not because you like small crits.

There are balance issues to consider too. Assassination rogues are never going to value crit as much as other characters are as long as some of their crits are smaller. We ran into the same issue with the damage-over-time-based specs when their dots couldn’t crit.


Healers Love Big Numbers Too

It can be an issue for healing as well. In Lich King, critical heals were virtually wasted because much of the time they were going to be overhealing. In Cataclysm, where healer mana matters more and even big heals can’t trivially top someone off, crits are more valuable. But they aren’t valuable enough. Getting 10% haste allows you to get a heal to a target 10% faster. Getting 10% crit allows you to heal a target 5% more. Is it any wonder that crit tends to get devalued for most healers? Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them. We’re strongly considering just letting all heals crit for double, just like most attacks. We don’t think this would have huge PvE consequences. Healers will heal for a little more, but even if they choose to start stacking crit, they’re going to do that at the expense of Haste, Mastery or Spirit. It could have bigger PvP consequences. Most PvP healers don’t have crit chances beyond say 10% or so, so they aren’t going to crit often.

We’ve been considering whether healing is too strong in PvP anyway. You may have noticed that we made the tooltips for Mortal Strike and equivalent debuffs intentionally vague for 4.1. As I write this, those debuffs are still at 10% healing, but we’re concerned that healing is too hard to counter and we might change that number. Changing it back to 50% would probably lead to the Mortal Strike debuff being mandatory for Arena comps again, but we never got much of a chance to see its effects at say 20%. A 20% Mortal Strike debuff could easily counter any excessive healing caused by 200% crits.


Changes Ahead?a

Letting rogues and Enhancement shaman get 200% crits with non-physical damage would be a larger change, and not the kind of thing we would do mid-expansion. But it’s definitely something we’re considering for the future. That would only leave the damage spells cast by healers at the 150% crit range. We think we could make those full 200% crits as well. If we want to make sure the DPS specs still do a lot more damage, we have the knobs to do that. For example, we could buff passives such as Moonfury (the damage bonus for Balance druids) or Shadow Power (the damage bonus for Shadow priests) to make sure their spells still landed a lot harder than the healing specs did, even if the healers got big crits.

If we made all those changes, then any crit in the game would be at 200%. It would be a very simple rule, and I’d argue any loss of class distinction is more than made up for by the positive balance ramifications. As always with this blog series, this is just speculation. You’re more likely to see 200% healing crits sooner, but even that isn’t something we’ve fully embraced yet. It’s just the kind of thing we discuss when hanging out at the bar... er, I mean watercooler.


Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He crits on a 19 or 20.
by Published on 2011-04-17 07:33 PM

Patch 4.2 Models - Overfiend
Let's continue poking at Patch 4.2 models with what seems to be a new trash mob, the overfiend! It comes in multiple recolors but the only one you will see for the moment is probably the fire version.









Raegwyn - 1 Death Knight vs. 2 Cataclysm Heroic Bosses
Raegwyn was looking for a new way to spend time and decided it would be fun to try to solo an heroic boss, it probably wasn't hard enough because he eventually decided to solo two of them at the same time.



The MMO Report
Let's face it, the first news of the week would be sad without the MMO Report.



Comics - Roles
Nerfnow has an interesting point of view on tanks and healers ...

by Published on 2011-04-16 06:27 AM

Patch 4.2 Models - Lord Anthrycist
Another Patch 4.2 related model was added to the PTR files recently, if you remember the Firelands Raid Preview you probably saw the "Anthricyst Plateau" sub-zone on the minimap.

It seems that it will be the home of a new boss: Lord Anthricyst, who went into exile in the Firelands after seeing his name mispelled way too many times.





New Lore: Council of Three Hammers Story Available!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
Already embroiled by its own internal strife, the fledgling Council of Three Hammers is put to its greatest test yet when mounting tensions between the rival Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron dwarf clans threaten to ignite violence in Ironforge.

The city of Kurdran's ancestors was a simmering cauldron of old prejudice. It churned endlessly, its toxic fumes dissolving whatever logic and reason remained within the Bronzebeard, Wildhammer, and Dark Iron dwarves living together in Ironforge for the first time in over two centuries. And Kurdran was standing at the edge of it all, gazing into its fiery heart with confusion as it grew closer and closer to erupting.

In an unsettling way he felt as if he were still at war with the blood-cursed Horde and trapped on Outland. Yet there were no clear enemies in Ironforge. No crazed demons. No rampaging orcs bent on decimating all life on his world. There were only words.

Blizzard Entertainment is proud to present the latest entry in the "Leaders of Azeroth" short story series: Fire and Iron!

Trading Card Game Art Gallery Now Open
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker)
We’ve expanded our Media section to include an all-new Trading Card Game art gallery, and are kicking this off by featuring ten spectacular pieces of art that appear in the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game, licensed by Cryptozoic Entertainment. Additional collections will be added to the new gallery in the weeks ahead.



The Daily Blink - Selective Hearing
The Daily Blink's view on patch notes ...


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