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by Published on 2010-06-14 08:26 AM

Cataclysm Press Tour - Extra Information
Someone pointed on the forums that I suck at my job. In an effort to unsuck, I will point out two nice interviews on GamePlanet:



We learn a couple of new things there :


  • Reforging will be done by NPCs in cities, it will let you reduce a secondary stat by 40% and put those points into a different stat. Secondary stats are pretty much any "rating" stats, you cannot reforge primary stats such as Strength, Stamina, Intellect, etc ... The cost of reforging will be the vendor cost of the item, it can be done on any item from green to purple.
  • Heroic Shadowfang Keep and Heroic Deadmines should be shipped in Patch 4.1
  • The CoT: War of the Ancients raid will be introduced between Patch 4.1 and 4.3


Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Path of the Titans
Path of the Titans Removal
We still think it would be cool to add some kind of post-game progression to allow for player customization, but we would have to be very careful and do it right. Nobody wanted to see a feature that felt like it delivered on half its potential. Nobody wanted to be thinking about how we were going to "fix the flawed Paths system" in 5.0. If we can come up with a design we like, then we'll try again in the future.

A big part of game design is triage -- knowing when something is good enough, knowing when something can be good with just a little more work, and knowing when something is a lost cause... at least for now. There are very few WoW features that we kill outright. Most go into a design parking lot, and we get together every few months to review those features and consider what to work on next.

[...] Fortunately, one of the benefits of being Blizzard is we don't have to ship a product until we think it's ready. Our marketing department works with us on the game, but they understand that when the game is ready is ultimately up to the team. We didn't cut it because we ran out of time. We cut it because we didn't think the design we had was fun. At the high level we still like the idea, and if we can solve some of the problems we might bring it back in the future. (Source)

Glyphs / Inscription
Glyphs in Cataclysm
Minor glyphs are fine in our opinion. They weren't intended to offer power and they are certainly much more flexible than major glyphs. Some classes need some better minor glyphs though (e.g. warlock).

Medium glyphs are the kind of glyph you'd take if you had more choices. For example, a Fury warrior these days in PvE probably takes Execution, Whirlwind and Heroic Strike. Why wouldn't you? You hit all of those buttons a lot. The glyph of Cleave isn't bad, but you just don't find yourself in situations where you would use it as much as Heroic Strike, so it just never competes. If it wasn't competing with Heroic Strike though, say it was in a different category, then it might be worth considering. Bloodthirst would be an excellent medium glyph, because it is useful but doesn't contribute to dps. Medium glyphs are good for situational abilities, cooldowns, defense and utility.

Now having said that, we are also taking a hard look at the major glyphs. Glyph of Sprint (movement speed) is a pretty interesting one. It is probably a dps increase given that it helps your time on target, but it's hard to put a number on that. It's very easy to put a number on Glyph of Eviscerate (crit chance). It's a math problem. That glyph is either going to be demonstrably better or worse than the other majors, leading to the cookie-cutter mentality. We already have plenty parts of the game where there really isn't a wrong choice to be made -- with enchants and meta-gems for example, there is typically a right or wrong answer given that we don't make several per spec. We do make several glyphs per spec, so we think they can be cooler. Customization was our original design for glyphs, and frankly we just didn't deliver on it. They feel like talents, and pretty simple talents at that.

The challenge for us is that ALL glyphs have to follow this model. If they don't for some classes, as happened in LK, then eventually the whole thing unravels. We have a much better feel for what makes an interesting gylph now. I'm not going to promise we're going to deliver on it this time around, because we weren't able to the first time. But it is a goal and we're going to spend a lot of time on it. (Source)

Non-Consumable/Learnable Glyphs in Cataclysm
Making glyphs more interesting to every player is more important than making consumable glyphs a reliable money-maker for Inscription, given that there are plenty of other ways to handle the latter. (Source)

Guild Talents / Leveling
Guild Talents removal
Guilds aren't a new feature for WoW, and we are really sensitive about imposing any kind of structure on them that might make you feel like you aren't supposed to stay with your current guildies any longer. To that end, there were flaws with guild talents that we didn't like.

Guilds are, for the most part, groups of friends. We don't want features to drive wedges between them. We don't want you to guild hop looking for the talents that suit you best; we want you to play (or in many cases keep playing) with your friends. With a talent tree, guilds would naturally have different talent trees, which creates a reason to bail or guild hop that doesn't exist today. If you didn't like the direction the guild was taking (for example, you were a PvP guy with a GM focused on raid-progression) you might feel like you should leave. That can happen today of course, but you can also stay in a PvE guild just because you like the members even if you don't participate in the same content because you're not losing out on inherent guild benefits.

Furthermore, we felt like the decision-making, for many guilds, would be up to a relatively few people, possibly as few as the guild master. Talent trees work for classes because the decision is up to you. We didn't want to create the risk of drama over choosing those talents or even not being consulted in choosing them.

Another advantage of the perks system is that it's easily expandable. If we want to add new levels and / or perks in later patches or expansions, we can, without having to rejuggle a talent tree. (Source)

PvP
Interrupts in PvP
We don't want interrupts to be binary either. They shouldn't be able to lock a caster down. We currently have something of an arms race where the melee got more mobility and interrupts, so the casters got more escape methods and instant spells. We just need some bilateral disarmament, so that melee can sometimes interrupt spells. (Source)

Characters with existing PvP ranks titles
The plan at the moment is to grandfather in anyone with an existing BG PvP title and just let you keep it. (Source)

Raids & Dungeons
Movement in Cataclysm
Movement is supposed to be a challenge in PvE. Handling the times when you have to move elegantly is one of the differences between a kill and a wipe. For Cataclysm we are making sure everyone has something they can do when mobile, whether it's Moonfire for Balance or Fel Flame for warlocks. In the same way you need to master when to AE and when to single target, you need to master when to use the mobile spells and when to not use them. (Source)

25/10 Man Raids shared raid ID
We thought the LK design was asking raiders to raid more than they wanted to. When you see a boss twice a week, you just burn out on the fight that much faster.

If you really love raiding, as many of us do, bring an alt the second time around.

5 Bosses in the Bastion of Twilight (Grim Batol Raid)
As to the number of bosses, the 5 is just from Bastion of Twilight. There are two additional raid instances in the first tier of content and together they'll offer enough bosses for us to fully itemize, around a dozen or so. (Source)

Archaeology
Archaeology
We have some end-game plans for Archaeology. I would compare it to Cooking, which isn't mandatory, but useful enough that nobody is surprised at the appearance of a Fish Feast. (Source)

Archaeology rewards
Many of the archaeology items are stored in your journal, not your bags, so inventory space shouldn't be a big problem. While many of the artifacts are only there for rewards, the rare finds run the gamut from unique toys to usable weapons to special pets. (Source)

Miscellaneous
Spell haste in Cataclysm
We're not getting rid of spell haste and I agree it's fun to get quick spells.

I was talking more about the PvP environment (and to a lesser extent PvE) where the balance has shifted too heavily towards very fast or instant spells that leave the other side with no chance to predict, react or attempt to counter what you're going to do. It's a problem with CC, I'd agree, but it's also a problem with some of the really hard-hitting nukes where someone can die in a couple of GCDs before they can pop a defensive cooldown or even get healed.

We want combat to be less binary, where someone can get into a wounded state and then move either towards being fully healed or being dead depending on what they and everyone else involved in the battle do. We want there to be some back and forth -- some chances to make mistakes and then recover from them. PvP can currently feel like a tennis match where the team who scores the first point wins.

There still need to be moments where if you line up all your cooldowns you can kill someone who is wounded, but those need to be not every spell you cast. Given talents and gear, fully three-second cast time spells aren't really going to be that common for actual casters, but spell interactions are balanced around having a cast time so that the other side has a chance to respond. When every spell is at the GCD cap or hasted by a talent or proc then you sometimes die before you even know what happened. (Source)

31/41/51 Points Talents
We design the 31, 41 and 51-point talents to be attractive if not mandatory. There are very few builds that don't go down to the bottom of a tree and we don't think the ones that don't are in some way more interesting builds.

Remember, the passive bonuses are just that -- bonuses. If you find a build that avoids 51 points in one tree but picks up something really awesome instead, you will still be fully functional. (Source)

Solo players
You can still choose to level up Archaeology, which is going to have quite a bit of content. We are also updating all of the other professions to make them more interesting. In addition to goblins and worgen, we have redone the questing for most of the original zones, and all of the lower-level zones. If you like solo play, you will find literally thousands of new quests. We will also offer more achievements, many of which are designed with the solo player in mind.

There are also two buckets of solo players: one is the type of player who pretty much treats WoW as a single-player game and doesn't interact much with other players. The other category is the player who may have lots of friends online but doesn't feel like they have the time commitment for very organized and scheduled PvP or raiding. The new dungeons and BGs will also offer you lots of content if you are someone who plays alone but doesn't mind working together with strangers for short periods of time. The big Cataclysm feature you will miss out on as a solo player is the guild revamp. Again, if you just like to play alone but don't mind being part of a guild, you will still be able to help your guild contribute though. (Source)

Lead developers are all working on the new MMO and we're all going to die
I know this is a popular sentiment among the tinfoil-hat conspiracy crowd, but it's false. We have almost the same team in place that we had for LK. We have many developers who have been working on World of Warcraft since its inception. Most of our leads have been leads for years. (Source)

Druid (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Lifebloom
Lifebloom is positioned as a tank-healing tool in PvE. We don't think there will be much use for using single stacks on non-tanks given how many other heals you have available that will likely do the job better. In PvE, you will likely get a 3 stack up, and then shift to Nourish to maintain the stack, throwing out Swiftmends or Healing Touch as necessary. In PvP, Lifebloom will still probably get use because of its bloom mechanic. (Source)

Tree of Life
1. With the addition of the tree of life cooldown, will trees still be under the elemental heading and therefore bannishable by locks?
No. You won't open yourself up to new forms of crowd control, and neither will locks or DKs using their abilities. (Source)

GC, care to comment on the ToL speed reduction returning? Snaring yourself doesnt' seem like a good design, neither in PvE nor PvP.
The speed reduction thing is something we're trying again. We know it's going to be controversial and it's possible it won't stick. We really want the ability to be used at the right time, not just on cooldown. There has to be a wrong time to use it. In PvP, we want there to be a way to counter the druid, especially given that the built-in crowd control is gone. The other consideration is that we plan on getting a new model that looks more like an ancient and less like a treant, so moving slower might fit. (Source)

Will I be able to cancel ToL form after activating it, and if so will I be able to return to it before the duration is up?
I imagine you can cancel it. Like all cooldowns though, if you waste it, you waste it. (Source)

Shaman (Forums / 3.3.5 Talent Calculator / Cataclysm Talent Calculator)
Complexity of Elemental in AE Situations
Yeah, I'd agree that Elemental has a lot going on for AE situations. Not all classes do though. We could add AE rotations to everyone, but I'm not sure the bang for the buck is really there when we could also just ask players to use their single target rotations more frequently. (Source)

Cataclysm - Revamped Cities Video
A trailer of the revamped Stormwind and Orgrimmar appeared on Gametrailers yesterday.




Comics
Dark Legacy Comic #242 and Teh Gladiators #140 + #141 are out!

by Published on 2010-06-13 07:04 AM

Update #3 - Just to make it clear, the NDA on the Alpha isn't lifted, you can still get your ass banned for posting that kind of stuff. Also, Blizzquote layout added now that it's official.

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Press Tour
Earlier this week, general gaming sites and a couple of official fansites were invited to the Blizzard HQ for a press tour of Cataclysm. The NDA (on the press tour, don't get too excited) just lifted and a couple of information have been revealed.

This post will probably be updated multiple times during the night, so far this is what I gathered before the NDA lift:

Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Path of the Titans is gone
The whole Path of the Titans idea has been removed from the game. It will no longer rely on Archeology or on any kind of PvE/PvP progression and instead Blizzard will just introduce a new type of glyphs: Medium Glyphs.

Medium Glyphs will add a "fun factor" to abilities, and it wouldn't be surprising to see something similar to the Fortification or Breakthrough glyphs first previewed during Blizzcon 2009. (But probably not these exact glyphs, a lot of stuff happened since last year)

Guild Talents are gone
The guild talents are gone and your guild now gets extra bonuses depending on its level. There are 25 levels and each level will automatically reward with more cool stuff. The leveling process remains unchanged and your guild will gain experience through PvP, Dungeon and Raid progression, questing, etc ...

Guild currency has also been removed and rewards will just be "unlocked" after you reach a specific level or complete a guild achievement. Once a reward is unlocked, members will be able to purchase it with gold. Some of the rewards include guild tabards, mounts, heirlooms, and it looks like you will finally be able to have a guild tabard on your mount. (Just like the Argent Tournament banners)

New members of a guild won't be able to buy everything directly, they will have to contribute to the progression of the guild before they can access the top rewards. Each time a player helps towards the leveling he will gain reputation with the guild, the best rewards will require players to be exalted with their guild before they can buy it.

Archeology will be less important
With the Path of the Titans gone, Archeology will become a "true" secondary profession and you won't really have to level it anymore. However it will still be used to let you get cosmetic/optional items, get more information on the game's lore, and ultimately it looks like we can expect rewards similar to fishing. (Nothing mandatory, but you'll be happy when you actually find something)

Information gathered from other sites:
  • You will find two types of items: Common Artifacts will give you more information on the lore of a race, and might be used in some kind of collection game. Rare items will give you usable items, most of them will be cosmetic but some of them will have actual effects. (Details on Wowhead)

Raids & Dungeons Split
Raid leaders will be able to split an ongoing 25-man raid into up to three 10-man raids. Those 10-man raids will be able to continue from that point on, with bosses already down.

So far it looks like it won't be possible to merge 10-man raids into 25-man raids, for obvious reasons.

Information gathered from other sites:
  • Raid IDs should be much more flexible. You will be able to join any raid as long as it doesn't have any bosses up that you have already killed. (Details on Wowhead)
  • There will be more Algalon-style encounters—ultra-hard optional bosses for hardcore players only. (Details on Wowhead)

Rated Battlegrounds
Rated battlegrounds will be available for pre-mades of 10, 15 and 25-player sizes. The amount of Conquest points rewarded will be capped so that players who enjoy both arenas and rated battlegrounds don't feel they have to prioritize one over the other.

Information gathered from other sites:
  • The classic Honor titles will be coming back and rewarded to the top teams each season. (Details on WoR)
  • The "Gladiator" equivalent teams will also receive epic ground mounts. Ground mounts because they want to reward something you can ride in the battleground and be proud of / show off. (Details on WoR)

Grim Batol Raid
The Grim Batol raid instance will be called the Bastion of Twilight, and you get to fight Cho'gall as the end boss! If you manage to defeat him in Heroic Mode, an "horrific secret will be revealed when he dies".

Information gathered from other sites:
  • This is an entry-level raid, just like Naxxramas in WotLK. (Details on Wowhead)
  • It will feature 5 bosses, and an Algalon-style optional and ultra-hard boss. (The "horrific" secret?) (Details on Wowhead)

Skywall Raid
As expected, Al'akir will be the end boss of the Skywall raid instance.

Information gathered from other sites:

Deepholm
Princess Therazane (yes, that's her) will be a questgiver in Deepholm, in a similar experience to the Sons of Hodir's questline in Storm Peaks.

Information gathered from other sites:
  • The Ogrim's Hammer has crashed in the zone and the Skybreaker is still in the air. One of the questline will require you to find out what happened. (Details on Wowhead)

Heroic Deadmines / Shadowfang Keep
Heroic versions of classic instances might not be ready for the release of Cataclysm and will be shipped in content patch instead.

Old world changes
There are a more details on old world changes, especially capital cities.

Information gathered from other sites:
  • Stormwind has been completely redesigned to accomodate flying mounts. The Park of Stormwind has been destroyed by Deathwing and the Dwarven District now hosts a Bank and an Auction House. (Details on Wowhead)
  • Orgrimmar has been redesigned as well: Garrosh is the new Warchief and is located in the center of Orgrimmar, not in the Valley of Wisdom. Goblins have their own area, the Valley of Wisdom becomes a Tauren district, and there is now a back gate leading directly into Azshara. (Details on Wowhead)

Miscellaneous Changes/Information
  • Wrath of the Lich King had 1000 Quests, Cataclysm has over 3000.
  • The current heirlooms will stop growing after level 80. There will be a whole new crop of heirlooms for Cataclysm. Goblins and Worgen will be able to start using heirlooms immediately at launch. (Details on Wowhead)
Cataclysm Zone Changes
A new video of zone changes in Cataclysm was released. Stole this one from Wowhead.



Cataclysm Screenshots
A few high resolution screenshots have been released. Courtesy of World of Raids.



by Published on 2010-06-12 03:39 PM

MMO-Champion Downtime - Take 3
The site was down during the night again, this isn't an effect of the vBulletin migration, it's just a lot of problems with the servers. I don't have access to that and ... well, phone calls in the middle of the night don't always work.

Hopefully this won't happen again, I sincerely apologize for the downtime. I'm as disappointed as you are but sadly this kind of stuff doesn't depend on me.



"War Games" battleground mode
[blizzquote author=Kalgan source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25170782836/what-s-your-largest-concern-with-rated-bgs/]We're simultaneously working on a "war games" mode for battlegrounds that allows groups to challenge other groups to a battle in a specific battleground (including horde vs horde and alliance vs alliance). Granted, the rewards aren't significant, but it's more for players to be able to have fun battling their guildmates and friends or for players on a server to throw down for the sake of pride and bragging rights.

[...] You'll still only be grouped with players of your language, although your opponents can be from whatever part of the region, regardless of language.[/blizzquote]


Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment

2H/1H Weapons
Keep in mind that we generally don't itemize two-handed Agi weapons except for staves and polearms that can be used by hunters and druids. Shaman can't even use polearms. We make one and two-handed versions of Str swords, axes and maces though, so it's easy to convert a warrior or DK back and forth.

Again these are not unsolvable problems, but neither are they trivial problems. I hate to close the door on anything, but it's not in the cards for the near future. (Source)

Classes strengths and weaknesses
What you're calling a "discrepancy in logic between classes" we call "different classes work differently." It's very common for players examining weaknesses (perceived or engineered) of their class to look to other classes and say "Hmm. They don't have the same weakness. That's not fair." But it's more than likely they have other weaknesses to compensate just as you have other strengths. Almost any time you bring up an example of other classes working differently, we're going to respond "perfect." I realize that can be frustrating since looking at other classes provides easy examples of abilities or mechanics you don't have, but that's honestly the whole point. (Source)

DPS and PvP talents in healing trees
As to the actual topic, as we've posted several times, those talents are designed to be optional. Any healer spends some amount of time in almost any instance standing around when nobody needs healing. Some healers want to be able to perform solo or in small groups without having to switch to a dps spec. We are trying to get away from trees where every talent essentially says "increases your damage or healing by 5%." A talent that is non-mandatory should be by definition optional. If you don't think you'd like or use that particular chunk of utility offered by a talent, then skip over it. Or go ahead and get it knowing that you'll still get a passive benefit that improves your healing. (Source)

MLG Tournament Results
We all watched MLG. I have refrained from commenting because all of the discussions in this forum seem to devolve into "my class didn't win, so clearly other guys are overpowered" or "GC loves whichever comp wins." Frankly, I thought it was one of the best tournaments I've seen in awhile. It's hard to argue that the guys who won did so because they chose the overpowered comp -- those guys are insanely skilled and played very well. We had pretty good class representation over all, but I still think it's a small sample size from which to draw a lot of conclusions about class balance. If Orange or someone had gone for a three healer comp would we really be here arguing that three healers are OP?

Yes warriors can be crowd controlled. They also have a lot of ways to get out of it or prevent it and they have enough mobility that when they aren't being CC'd they are probably on top of a target. If anything I'd argue the lack of warriors dominating the upper echelons of PvP has more to do with their lack of control, not their susceptibility to it. (Source)

Casters and haste
Casters cast too quickly. Haste has just gotten a bit out of control, which is partially the fault of overly generous talents and partially other stats on gear not being as attractive. Fear of being interrupted or needing to move has just led to too much reliance on very fast or instant spells, which are very difficult to counter. We need to back off of that. (Source)

Vol'jin in Cataclysm
Yes, Vol'jin will no longer be in Orgrimmar come Cataclysm. (Source)

Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Cataclysm Tree of Life design goal
It's a burst healing cooldown for emergencies or stressful periods of a fight. The survivability is there partially so that your cooldown is not trivially countered. (Source)


Hunter (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Counterattack removed?
I may have spoken too soon on Counterattack. Just today we discussed keeping it and getting rid of Mongoose instead. There are some legit PvP uses of hunter melee attacks, so long as the class doesn't feel like it's supposed to be a melee-ranged hybrid. You're ranged. (Source)

Rogue (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Anesthetic Poison
Anesthetic Poison might very well go away and Shiv just become the anesthetic equivalent. Little too early to tell on that one. (Source)

Malice
Malice is the kind of thing we'd like to replace, but we'd rather the trees work than just rip out every passive stat talent just because, so we'll only replace it if we come with something we're really excited about. Precision is fine -- being able to remove some hit dependency is useful to every dps spec and the kind of thing you could consider talenting out of if your gear put you over the cap. (Source)

Subtlety Tree
The idea of a rogue who sticks to the shadows, suddenly lunging out to stunlock and execute an unsuspecting target works well for single-player RPGs but not for MMO PvP. PvP needs to be about counters -- knowing when and how to use a certain ability depending on what the other player does. "Unsuspecting" by definition doesn't leave much room for back and forth. It may be fun for the rogue, but it's really frustrating for the victim, and pushes us in a direction where if the rogue doesn't line up his perfect kill moment, that he's going to get destroyed. That is "balanced" in the strictest sense where you kill or are killed, but it's too binary to be fun -- again a lack of back and forth.

Subtlety still has Cheat Death and Shadowstep and many great tools that feel "rogue-like" for PvP. You can skip over talents like Blood Spatter, which are mostly there to keep PvE dps competitive, in order to focus more on PvP tools and less on bleeds. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Stances
We like stances. You seem to be arguing that stances are fine, but we should make it a little easier to be in whatever stance you want. For me this crosses over into one of those areas where players see a limitation to their class and know they have to overcome that limitation to perform well, but cross over from trying to master that tactic to lobbying us to remove it or chill it out. (Source)

Mortal Strike
As far as balancing your damage with MS, what I meant was that MS is arguably the most iconic ability in the Arms tree. It should be a button that you look forward to hitting. It needs to do good damage regardless of the debuff, which is usually wasted in PvE anyway. (Source)

Weapon Switching / Spell Reflect
I'm not trying to say that clunkiness is a good cost for an ability. What I am trying to say is that if we just wanted Spell Reflect or whatever to be super easy to use that we would take away the shield requirement or just have it auto-switch to a shield. Being able to pull it off at the right time is the hallmark of a great warrior. If you watch some of these really skilled players play, yeah I'd argue their intuition does seem to border on ESP. (Source)

DPS comparison with melee classes
You should get beaten by a rogue if that player is as good or better than you and has gear as good or better than you. On the other hand, you are destroying Enhancement shaman and other melee classes. Warriors are at the top or near the top of nearly every Icecrown fight. You may not be, but many warriors are. If I was a frustrated player, the message I would get is that I should roll a warrior for Cataclysm because they tend to dominate damage done in final raid tiers. That's not cool. (Source)

Whirlwind component of Bladestorm
The Whirlwind caused by Bladestorm is a different spell effect. We can adjust it independently. At the moment we have not lowered its damage because we want warriors to be able to use it on single targets as a dps cooldown. (Source)

Warrior damage at higher levels
It's a trend, not a data point. Go back and look at ToC if you'd like. Nevertheless, I don't want to turn this into a thread analyzing meters. That's an exercise we are generally in favor of, but it will take over this conversation. Suffice to say we have sufficient evidence that warrior dps is higher than we would like once warriors are at high item levels. This happened previously at high ilevels per tier, so if you want to disavow it, know that you're going against a pretty solid set of data. (Source)

Warriors changes
What are you going to do differently? I mean, if you designed the gear / warrior abilities with the intention that they were balanced...and they ended up tending to be overpowered on the damage charts, what evidence is there that you can produce balanced gear / warrior abilities?
Normalizing rage for one. Getting rid of armor pen for two. Defining swings as AE or single target for three. (Source)

Deathwing Wallpaper
A new wallpaper featuring deathwing (both in human and dragon form) has been released on the WoW Magazine Official Site



Concept Arts
Two concept arts have been added to the official Concept Art Gallery. (Yay! Panda!)

by Published on 2010-06-11 02:50 PM

Migration to vBulletin - We're alive !
Now that the migration is behind us I figured it could be a good time to give you a few more details on what just happened with the site.

MMO-Champion has been running on Simple Machines Forum (SMF) since day 1, it's a great forum software and I would still recommend it to anyone who wants to start a guild site. Sadly, we reached a point where there is so many people visiting MMO-Champion that it was just faster to move to vBulletin because of the tons of options and extra features. It never seemed to be urgent and we kept postponing the migration, again and again.

Last week, we eventually realized that the beta of Cataclysm was going to start soon and there was just no way for the site to survive the massive amount of traffic. The activity on forum went up by 100% in the last 3 months, the Cataclysm pages will generate extra pageviews, basically, we were in deep shit. There was a LOT of work done during the past 2 weeks to make it happen and we eventually came up with a "decent" version of the site powered by vBulletin, and pushed it live.

I clearly realize it's not perfect and a lot of stuff still sucks but it should be resolved pretty fast in the next few days. Basically:

  • The Recent Forum Posts / Recent Articles box is still bugged, it will behave just like the old one when we're done with it. (Only shows thread and not replies, doesn't show off-topic forums, and we might add the Forum Name next to it actually)
  • Custom Names will probably be back "soon".
  • Role Playing Forums have been disabled very temporarily (until we bring back custom names, because they're pointless without it. I think we all agree about that)
  • Guild Recruitment forums have been deactivated temporarily.
  • Tons of stuff will be fixed soon, the only reason why I'm not listing everything is because I'm aware of how much work we have to polish everything. Don't worry, help is on its way.

Please just give us a few more days and then I'll personally give you a free pass to whine about anything on the site as much as you want. I promise the new site will make a lot of things better in the near future.

Update - Ok the last 10 hours of downtime weren't scheduled ... It was just a hardware screwup independant from the migration. That's pretty bad luck, I guess.


Continent-Wide Battlegrounds in Cataclysm
[blizzquote author=Kalgan source=http://blue.mmo-champion.com/t/25170782836/what-s-your-largest-concern-with-rated-bgs/]We're currently expecting both normal and rated battlegrounds to be cross-battlegroup (within a region) for the launch of Cataclysm. So, players queueing from anywhere in north america could play vs players on any north american battlegroup, etc.[/blizzquote]


Cataclysm Screenshots of the Day




Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment

Wintergrasp Balancing
We plan to add an additional balancing mechanism to the Wintergrasp queue system some time after patch 3.3.5. The queue will attempt to match factions at a 1:1 ratio for each battle, down to a minimum of 20 players. If there are less than 20 players on one side, the queue will still try to pull 20 players from the other side. This is to discourage the low population faction from boycotting Wintergrasp and preventing the other faction from being able to participate (i.e. force a game that's 5 vs. 5, or 0 vs. 0).

So in your case, if this system were in place the match would be 20 vs. 10 instead of 40 vs. 10. Tenacity would play less of a role, but players on your faction would have a harder time getting into a battle. This system will also be used for Tol Barad in Cataclysm. The idea is to favor realms with balanced populations rather than favor realms where your faction is dominant. (Source)

Talents vs. Talent Builds
It's probably fair to say that we have focused more on individual talents than builds at this point. We had to remove a lot of talents and slide things around because of the levels at which skills are available has changed, in some cases dramatically. As players start to explore actual builds, we can start adjusting positions of talents on the tree further. (Source)

Mastery Passive Benefit Bonus Cap
The passive benefits cap at 51 points. You can improve your third passive bonus by acquiring mastery rating on gear. (Source)

Utility Talents
The problem with both Lightwell and Riposte in LK has to do with the pace of combat. A small self-heal isn't useful in an environment where the healers either keep you up easily or you die to spike damage regardless of the decisions you make. An attack speed debuff isn't super useful in a PvP environment where players die so quickly. But with the larger health pools in Cataclysm, both of those talents become more useful. Saving priest mana and GCDs by using Lightwell could help turn a failure into a victory. Slowing down incoming damage can help a rogue go toe-to-toe with another melee class.

Counterattack is probably going away. We haven't released new hunter trees yet. Shiv is changing a little bit to be more of an enrage dispel. (Source)

Cataclysm Talent Previews
1) These talent trees aren't done. They're just far enough along that we're seeking feedback.

2) Just to reiterate, we *are* looking for feedback on them. They are considered public information now and you are free to discuss them. While the rest of the alpha is still under NDA, we want feedback on the talent trees so that we have plenty of time to iterate on them. Just keep things in perspective. Nobody at this stage can predict with any accuracy that their dude is DOOMED in PvP or PvE based on these early designs.

3) "Passive talents" is somewhat subjective. We are going to prune out what we can. Some players interpreted that to mean that every talent was going to be something game-changing like Chakra or Grace, but we think a talent tree of nothing but those would be quite overwhelming (not to mention making those cool talents feel less special). We still have talents like Improved Eviscerate, which are passive but more interesting than flat +damage talents . We still have talents like Malice because, frankly, everything else that can be modified in a low-level rogue already has a talent.

We still think the Cataclysm talent trees will be a big improvement over the Lich King talent trees, and your feedback can help us get them there (not that it all has to be confined to this one thread of course).

The only thing we ask is that you not let Cataclysm discussion completely take over the forums. There are millions of players playing the current live game and many of them will still want to discuss the current game instead of only looking to the future.

4) Cataclysm will fix it. (Source)

Threat Talents1) We are getting rid of all "you do less threat" talents. They're just boring.

2) If needed, we will bake that threat into Defensive Stance et al. as we did with Defiance and Salv.

3) We're not convinced we'll need to do that though. Tanks generally maintain sufficient single-target threat on any fight that has lasted more than a few seconds and Vengeance will only help with that.

4) Furthermore, we don't want threat to just not matter. Part of the fun of playing a tank is trying to generate as much threat as possible as quickly as possible. I don't think many tanks like the idea of just standing there, hitting a few defensive cooldowns, and being able to AFK to victory. However, we don't want things to be so extreme that the dps characters constantly feel throttled or the healers are afraid to heal.

5) Two of the primary offenders are Tricks of the Trade and Misdirection. We like when those abilities are used to pick up adds or otherwise direct targets to the tank. That utility makes the rogue and hunter feel useful. What we don't like is the constant threat transfer which adds a lot of slush room to tank threat generation that isn't under the tank's control.

[...] We want them to be used on initial pulls or when adds join the party. We like rogues being able to Tricks each other. It could be as simple as only transferring threat but doing nothing if the tank already has threat. Or it could be temporary threat so that it acts more for getting the fight started than something that helps a tank make up for generating really bad threat (either because we screwed up or the guy trying to tank is). We're trying out different things to see what feels right. (Source)

Druid (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Perseverance
We think talents like this are good, even in PvE. First, they aren't strictly mandatory. If you think you can get by with taking a little more damage, go for it. Second, you don't have to spend all 5 points for them to be useful. They are good sinks if you need to spend just an extra point or two somewhere. Third, taking less damage probably will be a bigger deal in Cataclysm. If healer mana becomes a factor in some wipes, as we expect, then it wouldn't surprise as all to see raid leaders start linking damage *taken* meters as ways to get everyone to contribute to keeping the group alive. The attitude that nobody takes damage besides the tank or that damage to anyone besides the tank is trivial is outdated even for current content, let alone Cataclysm. (Source)

Restoration Talents
I'm seeing a lot of Resto druids say something like "I won't take talents that buff Nourish and Healing Touch because I won't use those spells." You will probably use those spells more in Cataclysm. That doesn't mean you won't also be using Rejuv, Regrowth and Lifebloom.

Critical heals aren't useful now because they often just result in overhealing. In a game in which your heals aren't always topping someone off, then a critical heal represents a lot of "free" healing which saves you both GCDs and mana. It's in players' nature to want to minimize the impact of random elements, but you should be careful not to marginalize anything that gives you extra healing just because it isn't 100% predictable. (Source)

Starfall
The forums were pretty dense with "moonkins lack on-demand burst damage for PvP" threads just a few months ago.

We think the ability is fine. It does a lot of damage if not countered but has many counters. That's the kind of gameplay we'd rather see more of as compared to just getting tunnel-vision on one target and focusing solely on maximizing your damage on them.

If you can analyze a match afterwards and come up with something you could have done differently (in this case, how you could have countered or avoided the Starfall), then it was probably a reasonably good match because your decision-making, and therefore skill, played a big role. Anyone can push buttons. Pushing buttons at the right time makes all the difference. (Source)

Shred
Shred is indeed 50 base.

The idea is not that you can take every talent point you desire. If anything, the decisions are going to be harder. "Bloat" is what players sometimes say when there are still talents remaining that they want to pick up. (Source)

Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Discipline Tree Design
The basic idea is you can choose to add some damage to your healing if you are soloing, in PvP, or even raiding encounters which aren't particularly demanding for you to heal. For those situations where you really need to heal, you'll do better with a talent build that focuses on healing.

It's something we're likely to try with all the healing specs, or else decide it's a bad idea. (Source)

Shadow Tree
Shadow priests should not be able to pick up every point in Shadow without giving up anything else attractive. That's not how we want talent trees to work. It just looks like that for the time being so that we can get the priest playable.

[...] Right. If there are a lot of choices and you can't possibly get everything, then it's a good talent tree. We'd define bloat as say a tree in which the mid-tiers offer nothing interesting or effective such that you just have to pick up some almost at random to get down to talents you actually want. Really though "bloat" just gets so overused on the boards that you'd be a lot more effective in giving feedback describing specific talent choices that you feel aren't fair rather than the somewhat generic "make this 5 pointer 3 points so I can get more stuff" posts that I'm reading a lot of tonight.

As far as Shadow, I would anticipate a few more talent points in Shadow itself or else some more attractive talents in mid-Disc (it wouldn't take much to make Archangel work for instance), or both. (Source)

Shadow Priest Gear
That was the initial intent, but some Shadow priests thought that felt unfair that they had to have two separate gear sets to swap from damage to healing compared to the druid and shaman, and we thought they had a point. As such it will be slightly easier to gear up as a Shadow priest since they have more gear options. Call it a perk, but probably not as powerful a one as Holy paladins having their very own gear. (Source)


Rogue (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Hemorrhage
It's probably safe to increase the Hemo debuff. We modeled it after the old Mangle and then buffed the Mangle duration.

Rogues might use Hemo slightly more than Ferals use Mangle, but really they are pretty similar: use one for the debuff (or often in PvP) and then Backstab / Shred when position allows it (rarely in PvP). (Source)

Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Enhancement in Cataclysm
Enhancing Totems will be changing to provide an additional shaman-only buff when the buff totems are down. Technically that implementation is tricky so we just haven't finished it yet. In general you are correct that there should not be "buff my buff" talents. There are a few exceptions where a buff is elevated from a minor bonus to a more serious bonus (Elemental's spell power for instance).

Mental Quickness is something Enhancement and Retribution need in order to be a mana-using spec without mana on gear. In general you won't see stat conversion talents, though warriors and DKs might keep their armor conversions. We'll see.

We may need additional mana restore mechanics than we have now for Enhancement, but that will take some more testing.

We're not sure what we'll do with Ancestral Swiftness. We made that talent before you could wolf indoors, so it may be less attractive now.

The Searing Totem mechanic is obviously something new and will take some iteration.

Someone mentioned Imp Windfury Totem. I think you're looking at an old talent tree.

Enhance is intended as a dual-wield tree. We aren't going to support a competitive 2H spec. We aren't going to prohibit it, but it won't be competitive.

There are going to be some hard choices in all the trees. It's not our design intent that you scoop up every single talent in your tree. (Source)

2H Shaman
Letting the Frost DK go 2H as an option is pretty easy. All of the mechanics already work. It just needs a talent to offset a couple of DW talents. For shaman, it's a lot harder. There is no equivalent for Lava Lash or Stormstrike. DK combat isn't heavily tied into weapon swing speeds, but shaman most definitely are. Sure we could solve all of those problems, but that takes a lot of development time, and if you consider all of the challenges we've faced over the years related to shaman weapon speed and enchant choices, it could be a considerable amount of development time. We'd spend that time if we thought it was really important, but we think the class functions just fine with two weapons and we'd rather spend our effort on other shaman issues. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Cataclysm Q&A (Source)
1) On next swing attacks - Who was it that determined that warriors were not fond of this mechanic ... personally I loved said mechanics as they added a fuid way to convert rage into damage without having to expend an ever so precious GCD that warriors just do not have the luxury of waisting (namely arms).
We weren't fond of the mechanic. It wasn't up to a vote. But we also know a lot of warriors didn't like it either. It takes the most visceral moments of combat -- hitting a button and seeing damage -- and turns it into an autoattack, probably the least exciting moment of combat. (Source)

2) AoE and splash damage - Why is it that whirlwind is being treated like an AoE attack that should only be used on large pulls yet unlike all other AoE abilities in the game is bound to a cooldown ? Also how will the change to whirlwind impact the functionality of Bladestorm ?
You'll do fine on AoE, which will be more rare in Catalcysm regardless. The change to Whirlwind will not affect Bladestorm.

With cleave becoming an instant attack with rage mechanincs similar to execute and whirlwind no longer being in our single dps rotation we just lost an area of dps that we used to excel in... and that was doing well at dpsing smaller groups of pulls
That's not really a great niche though. Nobody says "we need more warriors to handle these smaller group pulls." You'll do fine on AoE fights.

4) Mortal Strike - Once the coveted and iconic warrior ability now handed out like candy to toddlers crying to their parents. It was eluded that strikes would be hitting much harder as a result of loosing on next swing attacks which seems reasonable but why is that with the changes to healing and health pools that classes like shadow priests and frost mages will have an equally powerfull ability when it was intially given to these classes in a WEAKER form as a bandaid fix to help their PVP represnentaion ?

How does it make sense to make all MS debuffs physical damage? Can warriors expect to see some glory returned to our spec defining ability ?
I agree with this. The problem of course is that if only you get the debuff or if only you get the best debuff then warriors are mandatory for anything PvP which might be fine for you but doesn't really feel fair to everyone else. Sometimes I wish we'd just remove the debuff because it's almost impossible to balance around both having and not having it. We can make sure Mortal Strike hits hard but we're unlikely to do anything that improves the debuff.

Will some of the core problems plaguing the class finally be addressed? -Clunky weapon swap macros subjected to weapon resets...
Keep in mind that swapping to a shield is supposed to be a decision. If we wanted it to be effortless we would not make those abilities require a shield. We don't want solving the puzzle to be coming up with a clever macro.

-Latency issues with ppl exploiting charge and intercept , landing 10 feet away from ppl.....
This is just the reality of a client - server based game. Sometimes the client and server don't agree about where you are. We'll keep trying to come up with technical solutions, but you shouldn't interpret it as our being lazy or certainly not because we're out to get warriors.

*-By making sure warriors will no longer scale so much with gear as they have been since the conception of the game what is being done to make sure they stay competitive throughout the expansion from the begining to the end ???*
Scaling awesomely with gear as compensation for doing bad damage when undergeared is not good game design. Warrior damage with great gear is much too high right now, as it is at the end of every expansion. This isn't surprising to anyone really. The current rage model just doesn't work and we need something more consistent. Consistency is the way to make sure you stay competitive from beginning to end (rather than averaging out at competitive because you're too low at the beginning and too high at the end).
by Published on 2010-06-10 09:12 PM

Hurray! We're (mostly) live!
MMO-Champion survived the migration to vBulletin and the site is now live. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to do on the website and you can expect a lot of changes in the next few days

Important stuff
  • Most of the old news posts are still in the old News Forum, they will be moved to the front page shortly. (Today or Tomorrow)
  • Most of the layout bugs are already known, don't bother reporting them.
  • Articles (the left menu stuff you never click) are massively fucked up. I know.
  • If you find any super-important bug, please post them on the Suggestions and Feedback Forum
  • Dinnerbone, Adys, and Sunshine rule.
by Published on 2010-06-10 01:53 AM

Update #3 - Just regenerated all the trees, force refresh (ctrl-f5/cmd-f5) if you're seeing old talents.
Update #2 - Still hunting a few annoying bugs. (Hello missing talents) Just use the previews in the previous post as a reference if you're not sure about something.
Update - The servers are under a lot of stress, it will be fixed as soon as we're done using the heat to keep the coffee pot warm.

Cataclysm Talent Calculator - Introducing WoWTal
WoWTal.com is a new project we're launching for Cataclysm, it will ultimately replace the old talent.mmo-champion.com calculator. The class previews posted today are now available there!



I'm sure you'll find a lot of bugs, feel free to report them in comments!

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