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by Published on 2011-11-08 06:26 AM

Patch 4.3: Fangs of the Father Questline
More of the Fangs of the Father quests have been added in recent PTR builds, you can go through the new part of the quest chain with the links below. n1kftw was kind enough to share a video of part of the questline.

  • Proving Your Worth - Bring the ring to Lord Afrasastrasz at Wyrmrest Temple within the Dragon Soul raid encounter.
  • A Hidden Message - Deliver the Solved Cipher to Corastrasza at the Vermillion Redoubt in Twilight Highlands.
  • To Ravenholdt - Talk to Mostrasz within the cave just outside of Ravenholdt Manor in the Hillsbrad Foothills.
  • To Catch a Thief - Follow Wrathion upstairs and speak with him at Ravenholdt Manor in the Hillsbrad Foothills.
  • Our Man in Gilneas - Seek out Zazzo Twinklefingers near the ruins of Gilneas City in Gilneas.
  • Our Man in Karazhan - Report to Zazzo Twinklefingers in the ruins just southeast of Karazhan.
  • Blood of the Betrayer - Take the vial to Zazzo Twinklefingers at Karazhan in Deadwind Pass.
  • Victory in the Depths - Take the Vial of Preserved Dragonsblood, along with your daggers Fear and Vengeance, to Wrathion at Ravenholdt Manor in Hillsbrad Foothills.
  • Assassinate Creed - Talk to Zazzo Twinklefingers northeast of Gilneas City in the Ruins of Gilneas.
  • The Deed is Done - Report your success to Prince Wrathion at Ravenholdt Manor in Hillsbrad Foothills.
  • Cluster Clutch - Bring the Shadowy Gems to Prince Wrathion at Ravenholdt Manor in Hillsbrad Foothills.

BlizzCon 2011 Photos Posted
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We’ve added 220 new photos to our BlizzCon 2011 media gallery, showcasing the opening and closing ceremonies and everything in between. You can head to the gallery now to click through some fantastic fan and professional-captured shots of the costume contests, developer panels, head-to-head competitive gaming, the closing concert, and more!

Enjoy this ground-floor look at BlizzCon 2011 -- our best and biggest BlizzCon yet!

Blue Posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
CoverItLive Q&A: Class Design & Balance -- (11/9)
To follow up on our first World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria developer Q&A on the CoverItLive platform, we’re gathering the entire class design team to field your questions on the past, present, and future of World of Warcraft classes. Anyone is welcome to join in the live Q&A this Wednesday, November 9, beginning at approximately 10:45 a.m. and concluding around noon PST.
You can read along via the CoverItLive client embedded below while the Q&A is live. To participate, you just use your Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or OpenID credentials, or simply sign in as a guest. If you’re on the go while the event’s underway on Wednesday, be sure to check out the free mobile apps available on the Android Market and iTunes Store.
We’ll see you back here on Wednesday morning! (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Daily Quests and Game Design
We typically provide some boundaries because, as you've illustrated, something that we allow, is something that can all too easily seem mandatory. That's not what we want, but we do want to provide a reason to come into the game, be in the world, and see what's happening on a frequent basis. It's nice to also be able to offer some rewards for doing that. Naturally, dailies shouldn't be the only way to accrue rewards, and they aren't. Dailies were, in part, a response to a World of Warcraft where there wasn't a lot of incentive to come play on non-raid days, since for many players, the only way to progress became dungeon runs and, for a few, raiding. We also wanted to provide another means of acquiring currency aside from professions, and new ways to acquire reputation with important factions too. They're designed to hit a lot of notes (I'm probably missing some), and I think that they're pretty successful. You don't have to hit your cap, (indeed, one of our fears about a raised daily cap is that players might feel compelled to hit the new, higher cap) but you can if you want to put in the time. Naturally, we also want to continue to add other means of progression to the end-game, and we're looking for ways to do so in a fun and compelling way.

I get concerned when I see players throwing out words like 'bad design'. Perhaps an individual dislikes a design choice, and that's fine. We do our best, but World of Warcraft can't be all things to all people, all the time. That said, making a value judgment about whether the design is 'bad' or not is not only un-constructive, but in the vast majority of the cases I've seen, such an assessment reveals that the design was not well understood to begin with. These forums represent an opportunity to have a dialogue about the game. I think that choosing words that have context and meaning, and offering alternative solutions, makes for feedback which is more readily useful.

There are plenty of other dailies where the rewards have been non-power related. The goal was different for Molten Front, and we deliberately wanted to offer a separate path to power for interested players. So, we wanted it to be compelling in that way. Still, it remains that there are alternative, non-raid, paths to power aside from Molten Front.

It could be argued that, by adding nuances to the zones they're in, they do enrich the game. They add things to hunt for, to seek out, and achieve. They're not easy to get, and that's fine, because they weren't designed to be easy to get. It's a very particular kind of goal for a particular kind of player - we don't expect everyone to pursue them, and if it's not fun for you to do so, then hopefully there are fun goals for you to achieve that are suited to your playstyle.I don't think it would be reasonable to suggest that we haven't made mistakes. We've made them, and acknowledged them throughout the years. There are, however, differences between mistakes and bad design.

That said, those mistakes haven't typically aligned with the criticisms of 'bad design' I was referring to. Like I said, in just about every post where I've personally seen the words 'bad design' used, there was also a fundamental lack of understanding about design in general.
Usually, it boils down to just another way for people to try to enforce their vision of what World of Warcraft should be. I'm just pointing out that using that tactic in one's feedback is a good way to start off on the wrong foot. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

LFR Loot Rules: Questions and Quirks
What we are doing for 4.3 with the Raid Finder looting system (detailed here: is an experiment in order to try and reduce loot drama without removing the chance to benefit from offspec gear completely. In fact, a lot of what we are trying with Raid Finder for 4.3 is our very first attempt at a design that is going to need a lot of iteration before we’re happy with how it works. We’ll use the information we gather on the new looting system (we can call it Need+, for simplicity's sake) and Raid Finder in 4.3 to make both features even better for Mists of Pandaria.

The game currently does not have a very robust notion of what your spec is, so for now we can’t make the loot rules very stringent, other than checking your current role. In Mists of Pandaria, the game will have a well-developed "concept" of spec, and we can do things like let an Enhancement shaman roll need plus on an Agility axe without letting the Restoration shaman roll need plus. (The Resto shaman could still roll need though, since shaman can use axes and the player might presumably have an Enhancement offspec.) (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Item Squishing and Old Raids
It seems to me that some of those that have expressed misgivings about the squish are worried about feeling 'nerfed' when facing older content, but the item squish shouldn't mean that soloing older raid content will die, necessarily. Though we appreciate the feedback, I think it's safe to say that we wouldn't want anyone to turn their back on the idea purely out of concern for losing the ability to take down older raids solo or in small groups.

Isn't the point of big numbers that they're big relative to the other numbers in the game, though? I can't speak for you, obviously, but I enjoyed putting out big numbers in previous expansions, and I expect that once I got a feel for the new baselines, I'd likely feel the same way in the future as well. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Shadow Priest Set Bonus
Shadow Word: Death ignores absorption effects for purposes of the mana returned. The “damaging attack” part is still reduced by absorption effects though. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Deathwing's Spine encounter, No hunter gear?
The trinket Wrath of Unchaining is intended to proc on both melee and ranged attacks. We will fix the trinket so that it does. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

A Day in the Life of a Diablo III Developer
Over on, we’ve just published “A Day in the Life… Mike Nicholson.” Mike is a Senior Artist on the Diablo III Team and a UI Specialist. In this, the first of a series, we asked Mike to answer the question “What would it be like to actually work for Blizzard?”

You can read the full article here. (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)

Blizzard Art Gallery Update
The World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Art gallery has been updated with five pieces representing the Warcraft universe.

by Published on 2011-11-06 06:32 PM

Update - El's Extreme Anglin' is reporting a Sea Pony Companion Pet from fishing in the Darkmoon Island waters.

Patch 4.3 - The New Darkmoon Faire is on Test Realms!
It's the first week-end of the month and it means the new Darkmoon Faire is finally available for testing! The new faire is much much bigger than the old one and now has its own dedicated zone, you can enter it through the portals located in the old locations of the Darkmoon Faire (Goldshire, Thunder Bluff, etc ...)

Upon entering the faire, you will be able to buy a Pouch o' Tokens or a Sack o' Tokens for a reasonable price, these tokens are used to play all the games of the Darkmoon Faire.

More activities are now offered and on the test realms you can currently try:

  • A target shooting game where you have to score 25 points in 60 seconds.
  • The "Tonk Commander" game, where you have to shoot 30 targets with your Tonk in a set amount of time.
  • A ring tossing game, the goal is to toss rings on the turtle in the playing area.
  • The Darkmoon Cannon is still here, and will require you to trigger a skill while you fly to land and hit a target on the ground/water.
  • The new "Whack-a-gnoll" mini-game will let you test your reflexes and ... well, whack gnolls.
  • The Darkmoon Deathmatch Arena, the name pretty much says it all. Any player entering the Arena will be flagged for PvP and able to fight any other players already there.
  • Profession quests, rewarding you with tickets and a +5 bonus to your profession skill.
  • Last but not least, L90ETC gives a concert every hour!

You can also just walk around the faire and spend your money to buy fireworks or even a balloon from the Balloon Vendor. The faire even has its own zoo with a nice sample of creatures from all over Azeroth on display!

These games will reward you with Darkmoon Prize Ticket and after collecting enough of them, you will be able to buy rewards from the Darkmoon Faire vendors.

Rewards - Tier 0/Dungeon Set Armor Replica
The very first class armor sets from the old level 60 5-man dungeons are back in the game, or at least replicas of them are back and you can buy them for Transmogrification purposes! The items do not have any stats (Replica Deathmist Robe) and are only here to let you get that look when you transmogrify your gear.

I could let most of you roam the internet to figure out how your armor set looks but I'm much nicer than that, here's a compilation! (Warlock Deathmist helm currently bugged)

Rewards - Mounts
Two mounts are available for 180 x Darkmoon Prize Ticket, the Darkmoon Dancing Bear and the Swift Forest Strider.

Rewards - Companion Pets
6 new companion pets are available from the Darkmoon Faire! You can buy them for 90 x Darkmoon Prize Ticket each.

Rewards - Miscellaneous
You can also collect miscellaneous items from the Darkmoon Faire, such as the Cloak of the Darkmoon Faire, Darkmoon "Sword", or the Darkmoon Hammer!

Rewards - Heirlooms
You can also exchange your tickets for Heirlooms.



Category Description Pts
Darkmoon FaireCome One, Come All!
Attend the Darkmoon Faire.
Darkmoon FaireStep Right Up
Play five different Darkmoon games.
Darkmoon FaireBlastenheimer Bullseye
Score a bullseye when launched from the Darkmoon Cannon.
Darkmoon FaireQuick Shot
Score a Quick Shot at the Shooting Gallery.
Darkmoon FaireDarkmoon Duelist
Win the Darkmoon Deathmatch and receive a Pit Fighter trinket.
Darkmoon FaireDarkmoon Dominator
Win the Darkmoon Deathmatch twelve times and receive a Master Pit Fighter trinket.
Darkmoon FaireFairegoer's Feast
Consume one of every Darkmoon food and drink.
Darkmoon FaireDarkmoon Dungeoneer
Turn in all five dungeon Darkmoon Artifacts.
Darkmoon FaireDarkmoon Defender
Turn in all three battleground Darkmoon Artifacts.
Darkmoon FaireDarkmoon Despoiler
Turn in all nine Darkmoon Artifacts.
Darkmoon FaireTaking the Show on the Road
Launch off Darkmoon Fireworks in every friendly capital city.
Darkmoon FaireTaking the Show on the Road
Launch off Darkmoon Fireworks in every friendly capital city.
Darkmoon FaireFaire Favors
Complete at least six profession-based quests at the Darkmoon Faire.
Darkmoon FaireI Was Promised a Pony
Ride a Darkmoon Pony.


NameCurrencyReput. Objective
Test Your Strength10 +250 DMFKerri Hicks wants you to collect 250 Grisly Trophies. Trophies are obtained as long as you kill creatures that offer experience or honor and you have the Darkmoon Field Guide with you.
(Daily) Tonk Commander1 +250 DMFUse your Darkmoon Tonk to destroy 30 Tonk Targets in the time allowed.
(Daily) The Humanoid Cannonball1 +250 DMFAccumulate 5 Cannon Target Points by landing near the target.
(Daily) He Shoots, He Scores!1 +250 DMFScore 25 points in 60 seconds.
(Daily) Target: Turtle1 +250 DMFLand 3 rings on the Darkmoon Turtle.
(Daily) It's Hammer Time1 +250 DMFScore 30 points by whacking Gnolls.

Quests - Professions

Name  Reput.Skill Objective
A Fizzy Fusion4x+250 DMF+5 AlchemyUse the Cocktail Shaker to combine Moonberry Juice and Fizzy Faire Drink to create 5 servings of Moonberry Fizz.
Fun for the Little Ones3x+250 DMF+5 ArchaeologyBring 15 Fossil Fragments collected with Archaeology to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire.
Baby Needs Two Pair of Shoes4x+250 DMF+5 BlacksmithingUse the Iron Stock to craft 4 Horseshoes, then apply the Horseshoes to Baby at the Darkmoon Faire.
Putting the Crunch in the Frog3x+250 DMF+5 CookingPrepare 5 Crunchy Frogs by breading your Plump Frogs with Simple Flour and then frying them in the cauldron behind Stamp Thunderhorn.
Putting Trash to Good Use4x+250 DMF+5 EnchantingCollect 6 Soothsayer's Dusts by disenchanting Discarded Weapons found around the grounds of the Darkmoon Faire.
Talkin' Tonks4x+250 DMF+5 EngineeringRepair 5 Damaged Steam Tonks around the grounds of the Darkmoon Faire.
Putting the Carnies Back Together Again3x+250 DMF+5 First AidUse the Darkmoon Bandage to heal 4 Injured Carnies.
Spoilin' for Salty Sea Dogs3x+250 DMF+5 FishingCatch 5 Great Sea Herring in the ocean around Darkmoon Island.
Herbs for Healing4x+250 DMF+5 HerbalismGather 6 Darkblossoms from around the Darkmoon Faire grounds.
Writing the Future4x+250 DMF+5 InscriptionUse the Bundle of Exotic Herbs to make Prophetic Ink and then combine the ink with Light Parchment to create Sayge's Fortunes.
Keeping the Faire Sparkling4x+250 DMF+5 JewelcraftingFind Bits of Glass around the grounds of the Darkmoon Faire and craft it into 5 Sparkling 'Gemstones'.
Eyes on the Prizes4x+250 DMF+5 LeatherworkingUse the Darkmoon Craftsman's Kit to make 5 Darkmoon Prizes from Coarse Thread, Shiny Baubles, and Blue Dye.
Rearm, Reuse, Recycle4x+250 DMF+5 MiningCollect 6 pieces of Tonk Scrap from around the Darkmoon Faire grounds.
Tan My Hide4x+250 DMF+5 SkinningScrape 4 Staked Skins around the grounds of the Darkmoon Faire.
Banners, Banners Everywhere!4x+250 DMF+5 TailoringUse Coarse Thread, Red Dye, and Blue Dye with a Darkmoon Banner Kit to make a Darkmoon Banner, then set it up in a pile of Loose Stones on the grounds of the Darkmoon Faire.

Quests - Item Drops

NameCurrencyReput. Objective
A Curious Crystal10 +250 DMFBring the Imbued Crystal to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
An Exotic Egg10 +250 DMFBring the Monstrous Egg to Yebb Neblegear when the Darkmoon Faire is running.
An Intriguing Grimoire10 +250 DMFBring the Mysterious Grimoire to Sayge when the Darkmoon Faire is running.
A Woundrous Weapon10 +250 DMFBring the Ornate Weapon to Professor Thaddeus Paleo when the Darkmoon Faire is running.
A Captured Banner5 +250 DMFBring the Banner of the Fallen to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
The Enemy's Insignia5 +250 DMFBring the Captured Insignia to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
The Captured Journal5 +250 DMFBring the Captured Insignia to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
The Master Strategist15 +250 DMFTake A Treatise on Strategy to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
Tools of Divination10 +250 DMFBring the Soothsayer's Runes to Professor Thaddeus Paleo at the Darkmoon Faire on Darkmoon Island.
by Published on 2011-11-05 05:33 PM

Patch 4.3 now available on the Background Downloader
In an effort to save my PM box from imploding, I had to do a breaking news to tell everyone that the Patch 4.3.0 is now available on the background downloader for both EU and US players.

It doesn't actually mean much, it just means that we reached the point where Blizzard is comfortable enough to release most of the static assets to the live client while they finish polishing the PTR one. There was no release candidate build on the test realms and I don't really see the patch happening right now, you can all calm down.

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.

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