World of Warcraft News and Raiding Strategies RSS Feed

by Published on 2010-06-01 06:45 AM

Addon Spotlight - HudMap
It's time to talk about another addon on the front page! With the recent news of AVR and AVRe removal with Patch 3.3.5 I figured it might be the right time to mention HudMap. It will probably remind you of AVR in some ways but this addon is different and so far it looks like Blizzard will tolerate it.

What is it?
HudMap is an addon that provides a true heads-up tactical display of an encounter, with raid member positions, range data, debuff area-of-effect indicators, and more.

Additionally, HudMap ships with totem radius indicators. In general, if you want to do range or player-to-player directional stuff, HudMap's your huckleberry.

Can I use this in to replace AVRe?
Possibly. You can use it in a similar manner, though it definitely takes a very different approach to information display. HudMap is designed to give you proximity awareness of your partymates and areas that are potentially hazardous due to proximity or some other effect that boss mods generally warn you about. In that sense, yes, it's a replacement.

However, HudMap is not going to let you annotate the world, add additional data over physical locations, or let you draw obscene pictures on Arthas before you pull him. HudMap does nothing to emulate or project 3D data, and never will. Additionally, feature parity is not a goal of the project - some information is better presented in AVR than it will ever be in HudMap, and I'm not going to try to replicate that. Other data will fit HudMap better naturally, and those pieces will be actively pursued.

Is this addon going to get banned because Blizzard doesn't like AVR?
To head off the inevitable, I've asked Blizzard if this is kosher in light of the AVR breakage. They have not indicated that it is a violation of the rules. Until they indicate otherwise, HudMap will be developed and updated. The impression I get is that Blizzard's primary complaint was with AVR's ability to draw pseudo-3D images over the game world, which is outside of the scope of what the UI was intended to be able to do. HudMap doesn't do any of that.

Extending HudMap
Have an idea for a range feature? It's easy to implement one. Just see modules\example.lua for a simple framework upon which you can build your own modules.

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Let's socialize!
We're at the end of a very long and very calm week-end and we all reached the point where we just need more people to hug. If you're not into hugs, it's also a wonderful opportunity to start working on a plan to take over the world.

That's why I finally created a Facebook fan page for MMO-Champion! Technically we already had a MMO-Champion group but I couldn't do much with it, the fan page might actually let me do a few interesting things.

On a slightly more personal level, I also decided to create a Twitter account and fight my fear of social networking. It will probably take a few days to get used to it but it looks like there are also a couple of fun things to do with Twitter.

MMO-Champion IRC Channel
Last but not least, if you really aren't afraid of strange people, come and say hi on IRC! If you're not sure about how to join us, just read:

I also uploaded last month statistics just for fun.

by Published on 2010-05-31 07:16 AM

It's Monday, and Fluffy rules.

Affenjungs INC vs. Halion 25 Heroic
Affenjungs Inc released a video of one of their attempts against Halion in 25-Man Heroic mode on PTRs. The normal mode of the encounter was already fairly impressive but it really looks like the Heroic mode will hurt.

Zalazane's Fall and Operation Gnomeregan Videos
The first part of the Cataclysm Prologue is on PTRs and people who are much more useful than me released videos of both events on Youtube. Of course, you might want to avoid them if you don't like spoilers.

The videos are Youtube playlists, just click on the next video for the 2nd part, etc ...

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The MMO Report
This is probably the last time you will see the MMO Report on MMO-Champion since they decided to make fun of me. I'll be waiting for a virtual hug from Casey in my mail to resume posting.

Also, small update on the "we got hacked" issue. After checking a few things it seems that it only affected something like 5% of the readers on the site, assuming that at least half of them had an up to date antivirus, I probably did a front page news just because 2.5% of my users got a spyware. And no, the virus didn't target WoW accounts, we just have 1M visits each day on the site and some people get randomly hacked for tons of reasons, when MMO-Champion becomes that reason you won't need me to hear about it everywhere on the forums.

I still apologize for the screwup, even if it's not as bad as it looked in the first place.

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This week we have Dark Legacy Comic #240, Teh Gladiators #136 and #137, and a comic from Foxtrot!

by Published on 2010-05-29 09:13 AM

It's Saturday, and bunnies are going hop hop hop!

Ruby Sanctum Loot Table Update
There was another wave of PTR testing at the end of the week and new items have been discovered, no heroic items yet but it looks like everyone will get something from the 25-man loot table! Baltharus' Gift, Scion's Treads, Twilight Scale Shoulders, Saviana's Tribute, Surrogate Belt, Umbrage Armbands, Returning Footfalls have been added to the lists.

25-Man Loot Table

271PlateMelee.DPSFeetApocalypse's Advance
271PlateSpellFeetForeshadow Steps
271PlateTankingFeetTreads of Impending Resurrection
271MailPhys.DPSFeetReturning Footfalls
271MailSpellWaistSplit Shape Belt
271LeatherPhys.DPSWristUmbrage Armbands
271LeatherSpellWristPhaseshifter's Bracers
271ClothSpellWristBracers of Fiery Night
271CloakSpellBackCloak of Burning Dusk
271NeckMelee.DPSNeckPenumbra Pendant
271FingerPhys.DPSFingerSignet of Twilight
271FingerSpell MP5FingerRing of Phased Regeneration
271TrinketPhys.DPSTrinketSharpened Twilight Scale
271TrinketTankingTrinketPetrified Twilight Scale
271TrinketSpell DPSTrinketCharred Twilight Scale
271TrinketHealingTrinketGlowing Twilight Scale

10-Man Loot Table

258PlateMelee.DPSWristBracers of the Heir
258PlateTankingFeetScion's Treads
258PlateSpellWaistSurrogate Belt
258MailPhys.DPSShoulderTwilight Scale Shoulders
258LeatherPhys.DPSChestGloaming Sark
258LeatherSpellHandsChangeling Gloves
258ClothSpell HitWaistMisbegotten Belt
258CloakSpell MP5BackAbduction's Cover
258FingerMelee.DPSFingerZarithrian's Offering
258FingerSpell HitFingerSaviana's Tribute
258NeckPhys.DPSNeckBaltharus' Gift

Cataclysm Screenshots of the Day
4 screenshots of the day (Friday / Saturday / Sunday / Monday) have been added to the Official Site!

Tanaris - Gadgetzan
Thousand Needles - Speed Barge

Blasted Lands - Tainted Forest
Stonetalon Mountains - The Charred Vale

Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment

Lowering the GCD
Lowering the GCD is as close to anything on the never list. We will possibly do it for hunters, but that is because their resource system is going to prevent them from ever spamming multiple buttons at once (in the same way rogues have a lower GCD). Even with rage normalization there are going to be times when a warrior is at 100 rage and can unload with multiple attacks at once. The GCD is there for a reason, partially for game balance and partially to keep the server - client communication from getting gummed up. (Source)

Mandatory Talents
If talents aren't mandatory (for PvE or PvP) then they are considered marginal. If your talent decisions don't actually matter, then that feature becomes a lot less compelling. You could advocate I suppose a design where each individual talent point is even with every other, but given the enormous diversity of situations that you can find yourself in, that's a pretty tall order. (Source)

Talent Trees
It was before my time, but the talent trees were developed in response to beta feedback that all say warriors played the same and players weren't making any decisions about how to improve their character beyond a certain point. Maybe 3 wasn't the right number, or maybe the designers should have said that paladins and priests are healers and don't have a damage-dealing mode.

In any case, those decisions have been made. While we aren't afraid of making a really controversial change if it improves the game, I'm not sure sacrificing some talent trees really does improve the game. It might make PvP or even PvE balance easier to achieve, but it cuts down on the number of ways to play the game or even sheer depth. For every number-obsessed power gamer there are thousands of players who just like their BM hunter or Frost mage and don't care if they can't top meters or win Arena because they're never going to do that content anyway. Those guys could very well be devastated by just taking away the class that they love. I think it's the kind of thing that might cause a big loss of subscribers. It's really had to support as logical any change that might be "good for the game" but causes a lot of people to quit. What does that even mean? (Source)

PvP Balance
I've been trying to stick more with how things should be and what the priority should be in getting there. We want all specs to have a place in PvP (and PvE for that matter). Some players just want to know which are the best PvP classes or specs so they can go play those. Others really like a particular class, say paladin, but really don't want to do some of those roles, say healing. Others like Lhivera really like the playstyle, spells or even just the idea of a particular tree within the class. Some players are fine if they can play their spec without feeling like a total idiot for doing so, while others won't be satisfied unless the dps tracking sites end in a 10-way tie and every tournament has about 30 specs represented.

All of those things are important to non-trivial slices of our player base so they all have to count for something. They aren't necessarily exclusive either, but a big part of game design, especially the runaway locomotive that is MMO design, is deciding what is the highest priority. (Source)

AVR + AVR Encounters removal in 3.3.5 (See this post)
We're breaking it because we didn't intend for addons to be able to use the 3D space to automate spacial relations for players. It comes a little closer to "do everything and go everywhere this mod tells you" than anything like it before. The decision wasn't made because there were complaints about it. The decision was made because we don't like that functionality.

With all of the complaints about the game being too easy, I'd expect endgame raiders like yourself to respect the fact that we don't want addon authors visually telling you exactly where to be and when at all times.

If you think some sort of spacial recognition feature should be incorporated into the default user interface, it's worth noting on our Suggestions forum.

[...] Just to be clear, there's a difference between a mod telling you what needs to happen versus showing you. AVR takes the pitch, yaw and roll (if you will) of your character to visually represent where you need to be and when. That's very distinct compared to a tool like DBM playing a "run away little girl" sound file when you're in a danger spot. It's not visually showing you in the 3D game space where to run to get out of danger. (Source)

Fixing bugs and dev priority
Yet somehow that is more important than fixing the bugs that people experience numerous times each day. Well I got my answer, they are two separate teams. So yeah, it doesn't matter. I just hope that maybe with the new expansion blizz can devote some of it's ui people to fixing bugs. They seem to be much more efficient.

It's a lot more than two separate teams. There are content teams which include everything from encounter design to quest design. There are systems teams which include things like UI, class and items design. There are several development leads with several employees reporting to each of them. Each of these teams of employees are very busy working on their specialty. It's not as easy as pulling the UI lead and his team over to focus on gameplay bugs. That's not their specialty and they're not going to be able to address those bugs appropriately, not to mention the fact that it means UI features and fixes would fall behind.

In addition to the many developers we have sectioned off into specific specialties for creating, fixing and improving content, we have teams of producers managing projects for each of the development teams to ensure appropriate priorities are placed on every task that comes through the pipeline. Believe me, a lot of tasks come through the pipeline and all of these guys are working very long hours these days.

The functionality of AVR is much more impacting on gameplay than some of the bugs you mentioned as examples earlier. Sure, some of the bugs you listed can be very frustrating when encountered, but the majority of players tend not to encounter those bugs on a regular basis. For instance, getting stuck in a wall when feared really sucks, however, it's extremely rare. It's also extremely difficult to implement an absolute fix so that it never happens again. That one specific example of a bug might actually be hundreds of smaller bugs which fit into the category of a larger bug you happen to notice. Random fear pathing maybe the cause, but the bug might actually exist solely within extremely specific portions of terrain in numerous places throughout the world. Sometimes it's difficult to even reproduce a good number of the bugs reported. Our quality assurance teams work tirelessly to try and verify every bug which gets documented, but some are so quirky we might not be able to replicate the specific situation which caused it to happen.

A bug that affects maybe 100 people a month, even if it's a bug which causes the game to crash under very specific conditions, will be considered a lower priority than fixing something which allows third-party addons to trivialize raid encounters way more than we would like for tens of thousands of players a week. (Source)

Priest (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Cataclysm Utility of a Shadow Priest
At the moment, Shadow has the 5% spell haste buff, similar to Improved Moonkin Form. That could change as we iterate further on the buff and debuff design.

This is in addition to Shadow's existing healing debuff and general priest buffs such as Fortitude.

As posters above have pointed out, we aren't going to give any spec a buff so powerful that they automatically earn a raid spot. (Source)

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Passive Fury Talents
You are reading that goal too literally. We want to get rid of passive talents that don't affect your gameplay much. Both Titan's Grip and Single-Minded Fury are passive damage increases but each of them changes your game enormously since they dictate which weapons you'll use. Cruelty, on the other hand, does not. You don't do anything different from before after talenting Cruelty. (Source)
by Published on 2010-05-28 08:43 AM

Screenshot of the Day - Deepholm
A new screenshot of Deepholm has been added to the Screenshot of the Day Gallery on the official site.

Blue posts
Originally Posted by Blizzard Entertainment
Operation Gnomeregan and Echo Isles
The events themselves are not currently scheduled to go live with patch 3.3.5. We're simply taking the opportunity on the PTRs to test these events while they're up and running in case we do not have another opportunity to do so before marking these events live.

[...] The release of the events will be contingent upon the development of other features leading up to Cataclysm, but their release will likely not coincide directly with a patch. They're events that simply need to be "turned on" when we're ready. (Source)

Put the shared diminishing returns cooldowns on tooltips in Cataclysm
Yeah, we would like to do this. (Source)

Class Balance in PvP (Source)
This is probably going to be one of those controversial posts, but I think if you really sit down and think about it and don't post a knee-jerk reaction, you might agree that it makes a lot of sense.

"Balance" means two different things to Arena players. For some players, the most important thing is for their favorite spec to be viable. Balance for them is all 30 specs being about equally powerful or perhaps even in about equal proportions. For other players, and I'd categorize more of the very high-end in this camp, the most important thing is for the fights themselves to feel balanced, even if that means not every spec is truly competitive. Some players might even be happy with only RMP as a viable 3s comp, so long as the matches felt like they were won by skill and not by cheesy maneuvers or dumb luck.

In a perfect world, you could accomplish both goals, and we do work towards both. But at the end of the day, it is also realistic to choose one as the higher priority goal. We made a lot of effort to get more specs into PvP in Wrath, and overall we've had a lot of success there relative to past seasons. The LK seasons have been pretty diverse, though Fire and a couple of other specs still aren't there. But that also came at the expense of actual player vs. player balance, particularly in the earlier LK seasons.

One of the reasons we are focusing on rated Battlegrounds for Cataclysm is they put less emphasis on the class composition of the teams and more on the coordination of the team. The fewer number of players involved, and the more the goal is centered around killing someone then accomplishing objectives, then the more important the number and power of individual tools belonging to a single spec become. Once you go to even a 10-player team, then there is a lot more flexibility and historically under-represented Arena specs can come into their own. It's easier to have synergy the larger the team size and even double up on some classes and specs rather than have so much power determined by whose crowd controls don't diminish with each other.

As far as Arena balance goes, it's an interesting debate on whether it's more important that things feel really, really good for a small number of classes or more important to have a large number of classes / specs participating.

Also it is just bad design to say you want to balance all 30 Specs. and not do it. Pick a philosophy, are you balancing all 30 or are you balancing based on classes, many people would rather not play a hybrid (i.e ret) and get pushed around trying to be balanced while blizzard makes up their mind on whether they are going to balance only holy or ret and holy.
I wouldn't call it "bad design." Just challenging. Maybe it would have been easier if WoW had been developed with 10 classes instead of the virtual 30 we have now, but that ship has sailed.

We try and balance around specs first, but if we can't quite hit that, we fall back on class. It would be awesome if Fire mages were competitive with Frost mages in Arena, but failing that, at least a mage can have a Fire build for PvE and a Frost build for PvP. If on the other hand mages themselves had no viable spec, then your only choice it to roll an alt. As easy as leveling is these days, it's still not trivial.

For classes with roles that essentially do the same thing, won't the one that performs better, even only if slightly always be chosen? You can buff fire PvP but if frost is only better by a slim margin it will still be the spec of choice.
"Performs better" in a PvP context is really hard to define. It has little to do with who is highest on the damage meters. You can look at who wins the most matches, but even then I don't think you are looking at actual power as much as popularity. As soon as someone comes up with a new strategy, that popularity can shift, even if the abilities don't change at all. Skill still has a much bigger effect than class or spec in most cases. While a good player might not be able to choose any of the 30 talent trees and be as succesful, they are rarely faced with just one choice either.

Can you please elaborate on where the sane controversy is over whether or not your whole player base -or- only 50% of your player base should be allowed to participate in arenas at a relatively competitive level of play? Are you proposing that half of your player base just shouldn't be able to succeed by default simply because they picked the wrong picture at the starting screen, as "interesting" design?
To be clear, this isn't our design, but you could design the game where 5 specs are PvP specs in the same way 4 specs are PvE tanking specs. If you rolled a shaman and really, really love to tank and perhaps even rolled your shaman back when they were tanks, then you are just out of luck. If we went that route (and again we're not) then we could provide a really balanced PvP experience for those 5 specs because we could focus all of our attention on those few. There is a reason RTS games who go for massive differentiation (like StarCraft II) have only a few races, while RTS games with many sides (like the Age of Empires games I used to work on) don't go for massive differentiation.

There are plenty of players out there who could care less if Balance druids or Fire mages are ever viable in PvP so long as there are some classes / specs that they can choose which will provide a really balanced, compelling, dynamic game for them. There aren't many posting in this thread, which frankly doesn't surprise me, but they are out there and their opinions count too. You can argue they are a very small minority of our player base, but they are also the ones for whom class balance discrepancies are most meaningful because their skill at the game is so refined. In the same way, we spend a lot of effort on heroic LK 25, even though very few players have the ability to experience let alone beat that encounter. That's also not to say we spend 90% of our encounter time on the Lich King and ignore the 5-player dungeons. Make sense?

Raid Healing in Cataclysm (Source)
Specs won't single target heal the same way. They will have enough basic tools that nobody will have a massive hole in what they can cover. We don't want the Disc priest to throw up her hands when asked to tank heal, or the paladin asked to sit out when on a fight with a lot of AE healing. You need to be able to run a 10-player raid with any 2 healers (ideally 2 different healers) and be okay. You need to be able to do any 5-player content with any healer (before you over-gear it as many of you do these days).

I don't think anyone here believes that Blizzard hates healers. I believe Earthmaster said it best when he said "Healers want everyone to live." This is in direct conflict with Blizzard's desire to make content challenging. The easier it is for healers to keep everyone alive, the harder it is for Blizzard to develop challenging content.
Yep. The rub is that some healers are only going to enjoy encounters when they can keep everyone alive pretty easily and some are only going to enjoy encounters when they really have to work at it. Those two are hard to reconcile because you're essentially trying to bring together "easy" vs. "harder."

If you are already well rounded then you have no reason to worry. I would bet that some druids have actually macro'd a castsequence for 5xrejuv + wg. Those are the ones who will have to change. That said, I am reasonably sure that we will end up favoring certain spells over others. Regardless of what GC envisions, that's almost unavoidable. What those will be remains to be seen.
Yes, the players who already use all their spells will see the least change. As for the second part of your quote, sure some spells will dominate in some cases. That's okay as long as others dominate in other places. The problem now is that many druids shrug and say "I'm not a tank healer," so they don't ever use their tank-healing spells.

Some of the changes that we are getting that we are getting I can agree with, but minimizing proactive healing is something I don't agree with at all, and something that I think is a very bad move on their part.
There is nothing wrong with proactive healing. It's challenging to use spells like Prayer of Mending for anything but. It only becomes a problem when you aren't making decisions. If you are pre-hotting or shielding folks you expect to take damage, that's great. You're actually forecasting and otherwise paying attention to what is going around you. If you are doing it to everyone just because you can or doing it at random because it doesn't matter, then that's a problem. You may not play that way today, but a lot of players do. I have done it myself on a lot of fights just to try it out and it's way too successful a strategy given the low amount of skill or even basic decision making involved.

Warrior (Forums / Talent Calculator)
Fury in Cataclysm
First off, I would avoid any discussion of glyphs at all. We haven't finalized our glyph changes, but it's safe to say that many will change and many will go away. I cautioned the folks participating in the alpha that feedback isn't terribly useful that says something like "We'll never use that talent because of the glyph" or "We always prioritize X because of the glyph." Treat glyphs like current set bonuses. Relevant now, but perhaps not later.

For Fury, we expect Whirlwind to only get used when there are multiple targets around. We run into balancing problems when warriors (and DKs and Ret paladins and anyone else) do their normal rotation on one target and just get free damage if they can manage to get a second target into the same area. Melee need to work more like (most) casters in this regard: the Shadow priest shifts to Mind Sear when there are groups rather than just getting splash damage from Mind Blast.

That leaves Fury with Bloodthirst and Slam and Heroic Strike. Heroic Strike will play more of a role since it will require a GCD, but you also may not want to push it every time in low rage scenarios. So we do think Fury will need one more rotational button. The one we are messing with right now is Victory Rush. It feels pretty cool so far, but a lot of things will change with classes over the next several weeks. Not sure yet whether it works better as a proc (like Sudden Death) or something available all the time. (Source)
by Published on 2010-05-27 06:31 PM

Update - Zalazane's Fall screenshots are here! Expect an extensive preview "soon".
Update - Operation Gnomeregan screenshots added! Echo isles are on the way!

Zalazane's Fall Screenshots
This is a very fun questline, it's not too long and it's a pretty nice introduction to what will happen in Cataclysm! For more details on the quests please read:

Operation Gnomeregan Screenshots
This is a very fun questline, it's not too long and it's a pretty nice introduction to what will happen in Cataclysm! For more details on the quests please read:

PTR:Operation Gnomeregan and Zalazane's Fall
Obviously, a full coverage of the events will be available super soon. For more information you can already check:
[blizzquote author=Nethaera source=]Starting today on the PTR, testers will have the opportunity to rise up to the challenge of the Operation Gnomeregan and Zalazane's Fall events. We're looking for your feedback and participation on the PTR to make these both memorable events in Azeroth's history.

Not in the PTR as of yet? Find out how to join in on the fun on the Test Forums here- [/blizzquote]

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