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by Published on 2011-11-04 04:14 PM

The Great Item Squish (or Not) of Pandaria
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The lead designers were originally going to talk about this topic at BlizzCon, but it didn’t really match the content of the rest of our “Intro to Pandaria” presentation, and seeing as how we finished our 90-minute slot with 93 seconds remaining, there wouldn’t have been room for it anyway. But several of us did bring up the issue with players and media we talked to, and it even ended up in at least one FAQ, so we figured we’d go ahead and get the information out there. Note that unlike much of what we presented for the upcoming Mists of Pandaria expansion, this is not an announcement. It’s more of a problem we’d like to address, and a couple of ways we potentially might do so. Feedback is certainly appreciated.

Big Number Syndrome
Hey, our stats are growing exponentially. If you look at everything from the Strength on a weapon to the damage being done by a Fireball crit or the amount of health the Morchok boss has, they look downright absurd compared to the numbers for level 60 characters in the original shipping version of World of Warcraft. It’s not exactly a surprise that we were going to end up here, and we knew where we were going every step of the way, yet regardless, here we are.


Fig. 1. Item level vs. character level. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat.

The numbers grew so much primarily because we wanted rewards to be compelling. Upgrading from a chestpiece that has 50 Strength into one that has 51 Strength is undeniably a DPS increase for the appropriate user, but it’s not a very exciting reward. Such negligible increases can drive players to do some weird things, such as skipping over tiers of gear or entire levels of content. This is particularly relevant when we’re talking about a new expansion. We don’t want level-85 players to have a reasonable shot at level-90 dungeons and raids (or PvP opponents) just because that content is balanced for gear that isn’t much better than what the level-85 players have.

So we arrived at this point in a logical fashion, and we don’t really think we should have handled things any differently. However, it’s still a weird place to be, and it’s about to get weirder. These aren’t real items, in that we don’t know for sure what the item levels will be in patch 5.3 and patch 6.3 (if only we planned that far ahead!) but they are reasonable guesses, and you can see just how ridiculous the items look.


Fig. 2. A theoretical item from patch 5.3.


Fig. 3. A theoretical item from patch 6.3.

So what do we do about it? There are two general categories of solutions. The first is to make the numbers appear more manageable and the second is to actually change the numbers.

Mega Damage
The first solution could include changes like adding commas and the like to large numbers. We could also compress all of those 1000s to Ks and all of those 1,000,000s to Ms, much like we do with boss health today. Internally, we have been calling this the “Mega Damage solution” because instead of your Fireball hitting for 6,000,000 damage, it would hit for 6 MEGA DAMAGE (queue the Arcanite Ripper guitar solo).


Fig. 4. Mega Damage. Name/screenshot not to be taken seriously.

If we can make numbers such as floating combat text and boss health and item stats a little easier to read at a glance, then maybe we can endure numbers increasing exponentially for many digits to come. Now there are some very real computational limitations. PCs just can’t quickly perform math on very large numbers, so we’d have to solve all of those problems as well. Even today, tanks can hit the ten digit threat cap on some encounters.

Item Level Squish
The second solution actually involves compressing item levels, which is why we call it the “item level squish solution.” If we can lower stats on items, then we can lower every other number in the game as well, such as how much damage a Fireball does or how much health a gronn has. If you look at the item level curves, you can see that most of the growth occurs at the maximum character levels for the various expansions. This is because we keep rewarding more and more powerful gear to make the new raid tier and PvP season in an expansion reward significantly better gear than the previous one. However, those huge item level jumps don’t accomplish a lot once the character level has increased again. Very few players notice or care how much of an upgrade the Black Temple loot is over the Serpentshrine Cavern loot when their characters are level 80.

With that in mind, we could go back and compress the big item level increases that occur at level 60, 70, 80 and 85. The Mists of Pandaria gear would still grow exponentially from patch to patch, but the baselines would be a lot lower. Health could go from 150,000 back down to something like 20,000. The big risk of this approach is that players will log into the new expansion and feel nerfed… even if all the other numbers are compressed as well.

In other words, your Fireball will still do the same percentage damage to a player or a creature that it does today, but the number would be smaller. Logically, this seems like it would work, and it does. But it feels weird. When we tried this internally, everyone agreed that it just felt off throwing a spell for hundreds of damage when you are used to it doing thousands of damage.

I came up with an analogy -- even though I know logically that people drive on the left side of the street in the UK (we drive on the right side of the street in the US) and wouldn’t be surprised to see it, it would still feel really disorienting if I was driving in the UK and had to make a right-hand turn.


Fig. 5. Item level vs. character level before and after ‘squish’. Brown = vanilla. Green = BC. Blue = LK. Red = Cat

So Now What?
As I type this today, we haven’t decided on which if either solution we want to try. Maybe we’ll come up with yet another solution. Maybe it’s the kind of thing we can put off for another expansion so that players don’t have to adjust to the new talent system and a drastic item level compression at the same time. Or maybe it’s better just to pull the Band-Aid off fast and fix everything at once. Time will tell. I did, however, want to outline the problem lest any of you believe we don’t think there is a problem. There is. We’re just not sure of the best solution yet. If your answer is that stat budgets don’t have to grow so much in order for players to still want the gear, our experience says otherwise, and thus these proposed solutions exist. Your thoughts on the matter are valuable.

Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. The last time he used “Fig. 5” in an article, it related fish predation to estuarine hydrocarbon contamination.
by Published on 2011-11-04 08:19 AM

Update - The Diablo 3 beta got patched today - Diablo III Beta Patch 5 Complete Notes

Patch 4.3 - World Event Pets No Longer Bound on Pick Up
An interesting change is made to pets in Patch 4.3, all world event pets are no longer bound on pick up. Feel free to yell at me for not spotting that a week before when you could still buy the Feline Familiar to keep it and sell it after the patch. Thanks to darkquantum for the news tip!
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion



Guild Master Dethrone in Patch 4.3
In Patch 4.3, Guilds with inactive guild leaders can now impeach their GL and replace him with another active user.


For more information, check out the announcemend posted a month ago.
Originally Posted by Lylirra (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
In the event that a guild leader takes a leave of absence and remains inactive for an extended period of time, it can be difficult for some guilds to carry on as normal. To help assist with these situations, we're introducing a new system in patch 4.3 known as "inactive guild leader replacement" that will allow players of the appropriate rank to take over leadership of a guild from an inactive guild leader via the Guild tab.

The way inactive guild leader replacement works is pretty straightforward. If a guild leader’s character is inactive for 30 days, a notification will appear in the Guild News & Events feed which can only be seen by guild members who are eligible to become the new guild leader. To determine eligibility, the game will look for the highest ranked character in the guild that's logged on in the past week, and any guild member from that rank will be able to request guild leadership simply by clicking on the notification.

As with many actions in World of Warcraft, clicking on the notification will open up a confirmation window which, once accepted, will transition leadership from the inactive guild leader to the first player to request leadership. If guild leadership is changed, the old guild leader will be notified via email to his or her registered Battle.net address. While some players may need to log out and back in before their Guild tab will visually update, the change in leadership will be immediate, with all ranks and permissions remaining in-tact.

Please note that if you're an active leader of a guild, this system should not affect you or your guild. The goal of inactive guild leader replacement is simply to allow guilds which have found themselves without leadership for a long period of time to resolve the situation on their own without the need to contact our In-Game Support department.

Inactive guild leader replacement is currently live on the PTR, but keep in mind that it may be difficult to test, as a guild leader will need to be inactive for a full 30 days before the option to transition leadership will become available.

PTR Raid Testing Schedule - Nov 8/9
Originally Posted by Daelo (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
More Heroic testing, oh my. The second half of Dragon Soul should also be available for LFR soon, possibly tonight.

Monday, November 8
  • 10:30 PDT Warlord Zon’ozz 10 Heroic
  • 14:00 PDT Hagara 10 Heroic
  • 15:30 PDT Warmaster Blackhorn 10 Heroic

Tuesday, November 9
  • 10:30 PDT Warlord Zon’ozz 25 Heroic
  • 14:00 PDT Hagara 25 Heroic
  • 15:30 PDT Warmaster Blackhorn 25 Heroic
  • 17:00 PDT Spine of Deathwing 25 Heroic

Remember, don't forget to brush AND floss your teeth. Oh, and the schedule might change at a moment's notice due to a myriad of factors.
by Published on 2011-11-03 07:29 PM

Update - The Diablo 3 beta also got patched today - Diablo III Beta Patch 5 Complete Notes

Patch 4.3 - PTR Build 14942
A new minor build is being deployed on test realms today.

Client Strings
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
  • ARENA_MASTER_NO_SEASON_TEXT = "Arena battles and Rated Battlegrounds are only available during an active player versus player combat season. Season 11 will begin one week after the end of Season 10, so be prepared at that time to take your shot at glory!";
  • ERR_SOR_INVALID_COMMENT = "That comment has invalid characters.";
  • ERR_SOR_INVALID_EMAIL = "That email address is invalid.";
  • LFR_QUEUE_GROUP_INELIGIBLE = "Your group is not eligible to queue for any raids in Raid Finder.";
  • LFR_QUEUE_PLAYER_INELIGIBLE = "You are not eligible to queue for any raids in Raid Finder.";
  • NO_LFD_WHILE_RF = "You may not queue for a Dungeon while you are queued for a Raid.";
  • NO_LFR_WHILE_RF = "You may not list yourself in the Raid Browser while you are queued for a Raid.";
  • NO_RF_WHILE_LFD = "You may not queue for a Raid while you are queued for a Dungeon.";
  • NO_RF_WHILE_LFR = "You may not queue for a Raid while you are listed in the Raid Browser.";
  • RF_DESERTER_OTHER = "The following players in your group have recently deserted a group and may not yet queue again:";
  • RF_DESERTER_YOU = "You recently deserted a group and may not queue again for:";



Achievements Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Player vs. Player
Tol Barad
  • Tol Barad Veteran now requires players to win 25 battles in Tol Barad, down from 100.



Spell Changes
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion

Shaman (Forums / Talent Calculator / Skills/Talents)
Elemental
  • Shamanism now gives Lightning Bolt, Chain Lightning, and Lava Burst an additional 36% benefit from spell power, up from 32%.

Alchemy
by Published on 2011-11-03 05:57 AM

Guardian Cub Tradeable Pet Giveaway Winners
The winners for the giveaway have been picked, congratulations to them! Since we actually had to buy the pets for this giveaway and aren't working with codes, I will need winners to send me a PM with a link to their armory profile to know where I should mail the pet in-game.


For those of you who didn't win and can't/don't want to buy one you can probably find the pet at your local auction house for a reasonable price now that the first cubs bought yesterday are no longer bound to their owners.



Patch 4.3: Madness of Deathwing
Once again n1kftw has supplied us with a video of Madness of Deathwing. The fight is now fully available on PTRs and even if it still needs to be tuned, it should be more accurate than the videos we've seen previously.



Patch 4.3 - In-Game Scroll of Resurrection Interface
In Patch 4.3, the friends list is getting an extra option to allow you to use a Scroll of Resurrection on a friend's account directly from the in-game interface.



World of Warcraft Annual Pass Update
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
The World of Warcraft Annual Pass has been expanded to include more countries and is now available in Russia, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and more.*

For a limited time only, players who make a 12-month subscription commitment to World of Warcraft through the WoW Annual Pass will receive the following epic rewards:


  • Diablo III FREE – Download the digital version via Battle.net for free when the game launches. This is the full game, not a trial edition.
  • Tyrael’s Charger WoW Flying Mount – Ride for the Archangel of Justice on all current and future characters on a single World of Warcraft account. Tyrael’s Charger will arrive via in-game mail with the upcoming launch of patch 4.3.
  • Access to the Next WoW Expansion Beta Test – Get a guaranteed spot in the beta test for the next World of Warcraft expansion (at a time to be announced in the future).

Sign up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass here, and then keep an eye on the World of Warcraft community site or the Diablo III community site for future announcements regarding the launch dates of these bonuses.

For more information on this offer, including eligibility requirements and details on how the World of Warcraft Annual Pass applies to players who plan to purchase the Diablo III: Collector’s Edition, please read the full FAQ.

*Not all countries may be able to participate. Regional laws and regulations may determine eligibility for this special offer.

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Monk Class Color
Right now the monk is jade green. We like the color, but it's not absolutely set in stone. For those wondering how this would work with the hunter green, it's as different as the colors are for mages and shaman. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Updating old Tier armor sets textures resolution
We don't have any plans to tamper with the art of existing tier sets. Transmogrification is being implemented, in part, to allow nostalgic players the option of wearing old gear without having to worry about the stats anymore. But, we don't want to go back and actually alter those looks. That'd almost defeat the purpose, especially given we'd prefer to focus our time on designing new sets to allow for more customization options (including aesthetic, stat-less sets to be used solely for Transmogrification).

The art and animation teams are incredibly busy, and sometimes I feel they don't get enough credit for the amount of work they do, or how much work is involved in each project. There are a number of projects on their list -- many of which players would love to see progress on -- but this isn't currently one of them that I'm aware of. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

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




The Daily Blink - Booyah, Kitty!
Finishing the day with a very relevant Daily Blink.

by Published on 2011-11-01 08:18 PM

MMO-Champion Guardian Cub Tradeable Pet Giveaway
The new Guardian Cub is now available and the first ones will be tradeable in 24H and we're giving away 15 of them!


  • The giveaway is for 15 x Guardian Cub companion pets. You can obviously only win one.
  • To enter the giveaway, just reply to this post!
  • The giveaway will be closed 24H after posting this news and winners will be chosen randomly.

Do not bother trying to cheat the system with dual accounts and things like that, we can track them down pretty easily and it will disqualify you automatically. Good luck!

by Published on 2011-11-01 07:49 PM

Update - You will have to wait 24H before you can see one at the Auction House, it comes with a bind on pickup lasting 24H.


Guardian Cub Tradable Pet Now Available!
The new Guardian Cub pet is now available, and you can trade it and sell it at the auction house!
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Now available in the Pet Store: the new and titanically cute Guardian Cub companion. Orphaned by its titan creators, the fledgling Guardian Cub has taken wing to look for a happy home. Adopt one today and it will stay by your side through thick and thin, following your character just about anywhere your adventures take you—even into the skies of Azeroth.

The Guardian Cub is the Pet Store's first tradable pet, meaning it can be swapped between characters in-game or given as a gift to guildmates, friends, family, or that special someone (after a cooldown period -- see below). Due to his finicky nature, each Guardian Cub will only give its allegiance to one owner, meaning it’s a one-time-use pet that permanently binds to a single character. Be sure to choose a master wisely.

The Guardian Cub is available now in the Pet Store. Check out the mini-FAQ below for more information on how this flying friend differs from other Pet Store companions.


Q: How does the Guardian Cub pet work? How is it different from other Pet Store pets?
Unlike the other Pet Store companions, the Guardian Cub is a tradable, one-time-use pet that permanently binds to a single character upon use. When you purchase the Guardian Cub from the online store, the character you designate will receive a bind-on-use item in his or her in-game mailbox, which can then be added to the character’s inventory. You can either use the item yourself to permanently add the pet to your character's collection (consuming the item in the process), or -- after an initial 24-hour cooldown period -- you can trade the item to another player so he or she can add it to one of their character's collections. Note that once the pet has been added to a character's Companions list, it can no longer be traded, so make sure you're giving the cub a happy home.

Q: Will I be able to carry more than one Guardian Cub at a time?
While a character can only have one Guardian Cub in his or her Companions list, you can have as many in your inventory as you like. Please note that Guardian Cub items do not stack, so each one will take up a bag or bank slot.

Q: How much will the Guardian Cub cost in the Pet Store?
The Guardian Cub will be priced the same as the other Pet Store pets ($10 USD). All sales of the Guardian Cub are final -- no refunds will be given once a purchase is made.

Q: Why did you decide to make the Guardian Cub tradable?
Since the introduction of the Pet Store, many players have been asking for ways to get the companions we offer there without having to spend real-world cash. By making the Guardian Cub tradable (much like the BoE mounts from the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game), players interested in the new pet will have fun, alternative in-game ways to get one. In addition to trading the pet, players can give the Guardian Cub as a gift to another character for a special occasion; guild leaders can use them to reward members for a job well done; and so on. We also hope this change will help reduce the number of incidents of scamming via trading for invalid pet codes.

Q: Could I put the Guardian Cub up on the auction house to try to make some gold if I wanted to?
While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services. However, please keep in mind that there's never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they'll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts. (You can read more about our stance here.) While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling “black market” and account theft.

Q: Are you changing the other available Pet Store pets (e.g. Lil' Ragnaros, the Pandaren Monk) to work this way?
No, the other available Pet Store pets will continue to work as they always have.

Q: What about future Pet Store pets?
It's too early to say how we'll handle future Pet Store pets. We made this change in response to feedback from players looking for alternate ways to get the Pet Store pets, and we're always looking into other opportunities for improvement. We're interested in hearing what players think of the Guardian Cub, and we hope you'll have fun with this new flying friend.

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