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by Published on 2020-11-18 03:20 AM

WoW Patch 9.0.2 Hotfixes - November 17, 2020
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Allied Races

  • The Combat Analysis Mechagnome Racial now correctly scales with level.
  • Fixed an issue where players may be unable to turn in the Vulpera quest, “Playing to their Strengths”.

Classes

  • Monk
    • Windwalker
      • Resolved an issue that prevented Xuen's Crackling Tiger Lightning from gaining benefit from Haste.

  • Paladin
    • Protection
      • Shining Light (Passive) now has a 30 second buff duration.

  • Priest
    • Shadow
      • Tentacles will now appear on the caster when using Voidform.
      • The global cooldown of Damnation (Talent) is now correctly modified by Haste.
      • Fixed an issue where Damnation (Talent) would incorrectly cause Vampiric Touch to deal bonus instant damage.

  • Warrior
    • Fury and Protection
      • Dragon Roar (Talent) now deals reduced damage to secondary targets.

Dungeons and Raids

  • Blackrock Caverns
    • Karsh Steelbender
      • Heat Wave now deals appropriate damage on all difficulties.
  • Icecrown Citadel
    • Blood-Queen Lana’thel
      • Pact of the Darkfallen now deals appropriate damage on all difficulties.
  • The Eternal Palace
    • Radiance of Azshara
      • Radiance of Azshara will once again generate energy on all difficulties.

Items and Rewards

  • Lady Jaina Proudmoore and N'Zoth the Corruptor should once again drop 2 mounts regardless of group size when defeated on Mythic difficulty. This will change when Shadowlands launches.
  • Corrected an issue that caused Thaumaturge Vashreen to provide lower item level Azerite armor pieces than intended. Vashreen went on brief hiatus while this issue was being resolved, and should now be back in Boralus and Zuldazar at the usual locations.

Professions

  • Skinning can now be leveled to 300 in outdoor Classic zones.

Quests

  • Resolved the issues that prevented Alliance players from completing the Drustvar quests, "An Improvised Arsenal" and “Break on Through”.
  • Deathcursed Terror will now attack the player instead of the unsuspecting Waycrest Guards during the Alliance quest, “The Final Effigy”.
  • Players will once again receive the Falconer’s Whistle that is required to complete the World Quest, “This Bird You Cannot Change”.
  • The Engineering quest "All Charged Up" should now properly award kill credit when using the gunpowder charges on the Shimmering Oleanders.

World Events

  • Salvaged Supplies for the “Frontline Resupply” daily quest now appear more frequently.
by Published on 2020-11-17 06:02 PM

Patch 9.0.2, Mac Support, Classic - Naxx Attunement, Curseforge Read Only Update

Engineer’s Workshop: Enhancing Character Customization
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Now that we’re less than a week away from the release of Shadowlands, we hope you’ve had a chance to play around on the pre-patch and glow up your characters with the new character customization options! While you were fiddling with new hair styles and eye colors, you may have wondered what it takes to overhaul a major system that has been progressively expanded upon with every expansion; so stay a while, and read about how we helped bring these new options to life!

A Little History
When World of Warcraft originally shipped, it was our utmost priority to make the game playable for as many people as possible. To do this, the minimum specifications had to be optimized so a wide variety of hardware could run the game. As such, compromises had to be made. Should individual fingers be added to characters’ hands when it could impact frame rates, or should that processing power be directed at a gameplay feature instead? Since our launch in 2004, those concerns have faded due to performance increases in each generation’s hardware, offering us a chance to explore new ideas and upgrades.


So, what did we change and how were the early characters built? Originally, the data model was relatively straightforward, but as time went on—and new features were added—the strain started to show. Per race and gender, only five features could be customized (later expanded to eight in bLegion), but what does one do when you've already used all five? How would someone create Demon Hunter NPCs prior to Legion, when Night Elves already used all five slots? Designers clearly had a flash of inspiration when they used the item system to effectively add another feature; since shirts come first in the "paste hierarchy," they could make it appear like there were tattoos by adding alpha and transparency to the whole shirt, minus the tattoo parts. Clever!


Systems, Gameplay and Data Layout
The technical gymnastics discussed above are not what we want to go through every time a developer wants to create something special. So, we gathered such lessons from expansions past, and knew that we ultimately wanted an unbounded amount of customizations, where each feature would be separated from the rest (such as eyes, face, beard or moustache), rather than locked to five generic slots. We wanted it to be easier to maintain, and we didn't want to duplicate large swathes of data (see our "spreadsheet" style editor below, where every cell is a face variant crossed with a skin color choice). Most of all, we wanted to reduce the overall load on artists creating assets and designers hooking them up.


Pictured: The old customization editor used prior to Shadowlands pre-patch.

To start off, we took a loose affiliation of database tables, where each record held monumental amounts of information, and split the whole thing into smaller, more logical data groupings. In turn, this allowed us to part ways with the spreadsheet editing and create a series of custom and auto-generated editors that would look very similar to what would be eventually shown to the player in game. In the end, the new data layout allowed all the flexibility we need, as well as offered us opportunities for cool new customizations that weren’t possible before, such as allowing Worgen and Gilnean forms to be changed independently.


With our asset pools and new editing experience adding new choices is now more straight-forward!

Finally, as we had totally overhauled the data and gameplay elements, we also needed to be prepared for all of the players logging in on day one with the old data, and make their characters look the same as they did before pre-patch (not to mention tens of thousands of NPCs). We created a silent conversion process with almost 9,000 rules to take care of this, which takes into account things like the Human beard option now being split into beard, mustache, and sideburns. The automation team built a tool that could compare before and after screenshots en masse, for QA to quickly identify any mismatches. If all went well, our players could log in on pre-patch day and hopefully not notice that anything happened at all to their beloved characters!

Rebuilding the Engine
To facilitate the new customization options, a complete overhaul of the engine was required. In the past, each unique set of customization options required its own texture, and choosing different options would change which unique texture was used for a given character. The number of new Shadowlands character options has sent the permutation count into the range of millions, so we wrote a brand-new character system to procedurally generate player textures on the fly.

Among other changes, all texture processing code was rewritten from scratch using SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) extensions and a system built for managing shared resources between characters that use the same textures. These changes maximize processor utilization and helps us avoid performing duplicate texture work for intensive scenes. In tandem with the new database layout, this allowed us to create a lightning-fast, 100 percent data-driven system, moving away from manually set up database tables. Here’s a GIF of what happens in the engine when it receives a request to build an orc.


Intermediate textures are generated while using a greyscale texture and a mask to generate a procedurally colorized tattoo.


A screenshot from an early prototype, showing textures used and their inputs and outputs.

User Interface and Animations
With the increased number of customization options, the user interface had to be completely rewritten from scratch for Shadowlands. The new system allows designers to create and categorize as many customization options as they want, without any need for reengineering the underlying code or systems to support it. Each option can also have as many choices as we want, and designers can choose to display each choice using a custom name, up to two color swatches or with just a number. A lot of work also went into making the whole experience much more responsive to player input, allowing choices to be viewed as the player hovered their mouse over them rather than having to click on each one to view it. The entire customization UI is now also shared between character creation and the Barber Shop.


We also rewrote the entire race and class selection screen, which now allows our outstanding designers and artists to add custom animations and effects. Because we are in the creation screen, the main game systems aren't running yet, so this required an extensive refactor. In the new system, the artists and designers have full control over which animations and effects play for every single race, class, and gender combination, and can make changes as needed.


We hope you enjoyed the glimpse behind-the-scenes of character customization as much as we've been enjoying the creative looks emerging from these changes! Stay stylish, Azeroth!
by Published on 2020-11-17 06:00 PM

Improved Graphical Fidelity in WoW
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We appreciate that AMD made it possible for us to update World of Warcraft: Shadowlands to include their FidelityFX Combined Adaptive Compute Ambient Occlusion (CACAO), a new implementation of screen-space ambient occlusion. This is an effect used in World of Warcraft to improve graphical fidelity. Here’s a bit of a deep dive into what CACAO is, why it was integrated into World of Warcraft: Shadowlands, and what was gained by doing so.

What is AO?

Ambient Occlusion (AO) is the concept in graphics where the overall lightness affecting a surface in an environment is diminished by the presence of other nearby surfaces. Those other surfaces block, or occlude, some of the non-directional scattered light in the scene from reaching the affected surface.

Think about a car on the highway on a sunny morning. The car would have both a shadow – a sharp outline of the silhouette of the car cast opposite the direction of the sun – and a softly shaded area on the road underneath, more-or-less centered on the car. On a very overcast day, the car may not have much of a shadow, but the shaded area underneath would still be apparent.

AO mimics the shading effect under the car which is not its direct shadow. Subjectively, AO adds subtle visual cues about the proximity of surfaces in the scene while making the resulting image appear less flat.

Switching to CACAO

FidelityFX CACAO is an AO technique like the one used in Battle for Azeroth, with optimizations, and it’s implemented in compute. The hope here is that by switching to this new implementation, players would get the same look with a smaller performance cost. CACAO also adds a new reduced-resolution operating mode, which promised a much slimmer performance profile with minimal degradation to visual quality. By being entirely implemented in compute, CACAO can be offloaded onto the compute queue, to run in parallel with graphics, although that has not yet been taken advantage of for Shadowlands.

Steps to Get There

Integrating FidelityFX CACAO into World of Warcraft went smoothly; the overall technique is so similar to the previous AO that it could easily be dropped in as a replacement, consuming the same inputs to produce similar output. As a source code distribution, CACAO includes support out-of-the-box for DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs. Since WoW targets DirectX 11 and 12 on Windows and Metal API on MacOS, there was a modest porting effort involved to get the technique working through the API abstraction layer for tasks such as resource management and command list construction.

Fortunately, since WoW’s shader programs are (mostly) written in HLSL, very few changes were needed to the DirectX 12 version of the CACAO shaders, where most of the logic that implements the technique is.

The Results

FidelityFX CACAO in full-resolution mode produces results that are visually indistinguishable from our previous implementation and yields a modest performance improvement on most graphics cards, especially newer architectures with more mature compute capabilities. On most systems, however, we’ve elected to apply the reduced-resolution mode, which produces results that are nearly as good with a substantial improvement in performance across all compatible devices.
by Published on 2020-11-17 05:12 PM

Reminder - WoW Patch 9.0.2 Today
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We’re patching World of Warcraft tomorrow. Here’s a breakdown of when we’ll get started with all realms being taken offline in this region:

  • Nov. 17 at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Standard
  • Nov. 17 at 9:00 a.m. Central Standard
  • Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard
  • Nov. 17 at 12:00 Noon Brasília
  • Nov. 17 at 11:00 p.m. Australia WST
  • Nov. 18 at 2:00 a.m. Australia EDT
  • Nov. 18 at 4:00 a.m. New Zealand DST

While tomorrow’s patch contains mostly updates for Shadowlands content, you may wish to visit the Pre-Patch Update Notes for a complete look at the current version of the game.

Thanks!

Mac Support Update - November 16
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
With this week’s patch 9.0.2, we’re adding native Apple Silicon support to World of Warcraft. This means that the WoW 9.0.2 client will run natively on ARM64 architecture, rather than under emulation via Rosetta.

We’re pleased to have native day one support for Apple Silicon.

While our testing has been successful, we’re highly aware of the nature of day one support with updates like this. Please let us know if you run into any issues that may be related to Apple Silicon in our Mac Technical Support forum.

Thank you very much.

Classic - Naxxramas Attunement is Now Available
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
We have updated WoW Classic to make the NPC Archmage Angela Dosantos available at Light’s Hope Chapel.
Now, if you wish to complete your attunement to Naxxramas in advance of the raid going live on December 3, you can visit the Archmage and take care of it.
Light be with you!

Curseforge Update - Addon Updates Suspended During Shadowlands Launch
Curseforge let the community know that they will suspend manual moderation of addons on 11/24 and go read only on 11/30, with service to be restored in December. This will only affect authors updating their addons, players will still be able to download the latest version that was live before read only mode.
Originally Posted by MMO-Champion
Later this month we will be finalizing the CurseForge transition to Overwolf! To prepare for this, we want to let you know about expected downtime for Curseforge, including support and moderation. Here’s what you need to know:

  • On 11/24, support.curseforge.com will be temporarily closed until early December. No new cases will be able to be created on or after this date until the transition to Overwolf is complete. In the interim, any support requests should be tweeted to Curseforge.
  • On 11/24, manual project moderation will be paused. All content requiring manual moderation submitted on or after this date will be queued to be reviewed once manual moderation is reinstated.
  • On 11/30, Curseforge will enter read-only mode at 6AM PST. Curseforge is expected to stay in read-only mode throughout the week, and full functionality is expected to return by early December.

Once CurseForge is transferred to Overwolf — which we expect to begin on 11/30 — Overwolf will be reopening support and manual moderation as quickly as possible. Their current plan is to have everything back up and running by early December.



Blizzard Gear Store - New Items
Blizzard GearFest continues today, with the 25% off code expiring tonight. Lots of new items have been added, including new apparel and Warforged Nightmare bundles.



We are part of the Blizzard Gear affiliate program and any purchase made through these links gives a small portion to us to support the site


Madness at the Darkmoon Faire Expansion Launches Today
Hearthstone's latest expansion launches on Tuesday! Check out the full Madness at the Darkmoon Faire card list & expansion details over on HearthPwn!

by Published on 2020-11-17 03:04 AM

Watch the Shadowlands Launch Cinematic: "Beyond the Veil"

WoW Hotfixes - November 16, 2020
Originally Posted by Blizzard (Blue Tracker / Official Forums)
Classes

  • Mage
    • General
      • [With regional restarts] Rune of Power (Talent) duration is now 12 seconds (was 15 seconds).
    • Fire
      • [With regional restarts] Flamestrike damage reduced by 8%.
    • Frost
      • [With regional restarts] All damage abilities reduced by 4%.

  • Priest
    • Discipline
      • [With regional restarts] Spirit Shell (Talent) absorb shield cap of 60% health is now shared among all casting Priests.
      • [With regional restarts] Spirit Shell (Talent) absorb shield duration is now 10 seconds (was 15 seconds).

Creatures and NPCs

  • Rare elite creatures have received a health boost when faced with more than 20 players.

Items and Rewards


World Events

  • The additional second-week content of the Shadowlands Pre-patch, Death Rising, is now available. New quests can be found in Icecrown and capital cities, and you are advised to take extra precautions. Zombies are invading!
  • The minions of the Maw are calling the rare spawns of Icecrown much more frequently.
  • Players working on the Quel'Delar questline are now able to continue their adventures during the Death Rising events in Icecrown.

WoW Classic

  • Naxxramas attunement is now available. Visit Archmage Angela Dosantos at Light’s Hope Chapel to get started. Light be with you!

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