Archive for June, 2009

As previously reported, there were accusations that US guild Exodus used an exploit to obtain the World First of the last unclaimed Hard Mode in Ulduar — Alone in the Darkness. As it turns out, these accusations were true and blue poster Daelo posted on the official forums that the Yogg-Saron encounter was hotfixed on all servers to prevent this from happening in the future. Owing to this, Exodus’ kill is no longer recognized by some achievement trackers.

Contrary to some reports, however, Exodus released a statement on their website that members of their guild were not banned, clarifying that Blizzard meted out a 72-hour suspension for their abuse of game mechanics. They argue that the encounter wasn’t beatable to begin with, similar to the C’thun fight in Ahn’Qiraj before it was fixed, prompting the exploit. In the same statement, Exodus also points at Ensidia’s arguably hypocritical stance of complaining about the abuse considering Ensidia used similar questionable methods to achieve other World Firsts. Serennia mentions this behavior in his column at wowriot, as well, bringing into question Blizzard’s apparent double standard when meting out punishment.

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Exodus punished for exploiting Yogg-Saron encounter originally appeared on WoW.com on Mon, 29 Jun 2009 22:47:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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It looks like we’ve got a sneak peek at what may be the new tier sets when MMO Champion uncovered some gear intended for Paladins, Death Knights, and Warriors. Just in case you didn’t notice, that’s all plate gear and, well, they all look alike. With Patch 3.2 seeing the return of faction-specific armor, a lot of people were thrilled except that most players (including myself) sort of forgot that faction-specific gear such as the old Level 60 PvP sets had shared models across armor types.

The reason most of us didn’t notice was because this wasn’t so apparent back then… the Alliance only had one mail-wearing class and the Horde only had one plate-wearing class. With Shamans and Paladins no longer restricted to one faction and with the introduction of Death Knights in Wrath of the Lich King, more classes appear to share the same item models — there are three plate and two mail classes on both factions now. This has the downside of homogenizing appearance across classes but the upside of having the near-certainty of putting together a visually cohesive set as well as looking different from the enemy faction’s counterparts.

So today’s question is simple: what design philosophy do you think works best for World of Warcraft? Every path has its obvious benefits, of course. What appears to be the most appealing is something we still haven’t seen… faction- and class-specific gear where each class has a completely unique model according to faction. It sounds great on paper but it’s more work for the art team and an itemization nightmare — imagine having to organize those drops in a dungeon! It might be easier to go the Sunwell Plateau route and be done with it! Or heck, do everything Emperor’s New Clothes-style, where everyone goes commando! Good idea? No? So, uh, that was just me? Drat.

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Breakfast Topic: What’s your item set design preference? originally appeared on WoW.com on Mon, 29 Jun 2009 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Changes

  • Both the 10 and 25-player instances of the Crusaders’ Coliseum drop a new Emblem of Triumph.
  • Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.
  • The Heroic dungeon daily quest will now reward 2 Emblems of Triumph and the normal daily dungeon quest will reward 1 Emblem of Triumph.
  • The existing achievements to collect 1, 25, 50, etc. Emblems of Heroism, Valor, and Conquest have been converted to Feats of Strength since Heroism and Valor Emblems are no longer attainable.
  • New achievements have been added to collect various amounts of any combination of emblems.

Advantages

  1. It will be easier to gear up alts or new 80s.
  2. More people will be running the heroic daily, making it easier to find a group.
  3. Lower raid guilds get a bit of a gear advantage, which could push them to catch up to current content.
  4. Acts as a soft gear reset, hopefully putting everyone into a good position for Icecrown and Arthas.
  5. Simplifies the emblem system into “best” and “everything else”. This is very similar to the PvP setup, and should keep PvP from becoming the best way to gear up (for PvE purposes).
  6. Gives people who don’t raid or PvP–but who can do 5-mans–a path for gear progression.

Disadvantages

  1. Edge raiders will be required to do heroic dailies–content which they’ve already done a lot–to maximize progression.
  2. Will cause some guilds to keep farming Naxxramas, instead of pushing on into new content. Old content needs to be dropped. Choosing to farm Naxx over wiping in Ulduar is the wrong choice, if you want your guild to progress. But many people over-inflate the importance of gear and may choose to farm for emblems. We saw this happen with Badges of Justice and Karazhan in the last expansion.

Conclusions

If guilds keep moving forward, using the new badge system to push themselves, then this new system will be a success. The playerbase will be in a solid position for Icecrown.

What’s more likely to happen is lower-tier guilds farm Naxxramas incessantly, in the belief that they need gear to progress. Then they will start to lose their best players to the higher tier guilds and fall into decline and stagnation.

I wonder if this system would have been better if it had been introduced in 3.1 with Ulduar. Heroics and 10-man Naxx could have been boosted to Emblems of Valor. The jump wouldn’t have been that extreme, and would have gotten everyone used to the idea.

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Hail and well met, Druid colleagues. I ventured into the scary realm of moviemaking in order to capture the new Druid forms on the PTR. Because my Hordeside main copied over first, we’ll take care of the Tauren initially. The Night Elf video is in progress, and I’ve been told that Blizzard fixed the bug where one of the NE bear forms wasn’t properly linked to a hair color, so stay tuned.

Anyway, this is my first video and I apologize for the amateurish quality; I’ll get better (though not necessarily less dorky) with practice, but I really wanted to get this out for everyone who can’t get on the PTR but wants to see what the new forms look like in motion. If you can’t run sound at the moment, the only really pertinent commentary is that: a). The forms are beautiful: b). They look great in motion: c). For whatever reason, the bear butt has actually grown, and: d). The Night Elf video is on its way.

If you’re having issues with Viddler, you can find the same video (in slightly higher quality) here on YouTube.

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Video of new Tauren Druid forms in patch 3.2 originally appeared on WoW.com on Sun, 28 Jun 2009 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Reader comments – ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.

When Entertainment Weekly chatted with Ryan Reynolds about his “Must List”, the X-Men: Wolverine actor had nothing but scorn at the possibility of his having a favorite video game. “I don’t really play videogames,” he told EW. “Is there a way to waste more f-ing time?”

“He’s probably just grumpy because the cover made him look dumber than a box of nails,” commented WoW.com reader Gessilea. “Come on, that expression totally screams ‘Which end do I put this in again?’”

We suspect Reynolds may have just finished reading the comments at WoW.com – whewww, what a fractious lot this week! Join us in picking a few nuggets out of the rubble and wrap up with a couple of latecomers to last week’s epic rap battle comments war.

Continue reading [1.Local]: Dumber than a box of nails

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[1.Local]: Dumber than a box of nails originally appeared on WoW.com on Sat, 27 Jun 2009 19:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Reader Tiago sent us an interesting idea I thought was worth sharing. He suggests that Blizzard create a “leveling server” — a server that would be marked as specifically for new characters, so when you rolled a new toon on there, you’d be surrounded by a bunch of other people pre-80. And the key here would be that when you hit 80 on this server, then you would get a free server transfer off. In other words, Blizzard would have one server (completely optional, of course) designed for people to level on, with a realm full of people playing in the old world and leveling through the old quests.

Sounds good, right? Like most of our ideas, Blizzard probably won’t go for it — they’ve already knocked down the idea of vanilla realms, and while this isn’t the same thing (you’d be able to level to 80, the idea is just that you’d leave the server when you got there), it does mean creating a different ruleset for a brand new type of server. Plus, to a much lesser extent, it could create an even more lonely existence on the normal servers. Not to mention that Blizzard has been focusing on speeding past the low levels, not emphasizing them.

But I like the idea anyway — it doesn’t seem too tough to do (mark one realm recommended, and provide free server transfers off of it), and it seems like an excellent way to get people who enjoy leveling up all together in the same place. And that’s really what MMOs like this are all about, right?

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A leveling server, just for leveling originally appeared on WoW.com on Fri, 26 Jun 2009 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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At last the Red Devils have successfully downed a new boss in Ulduar in our first progression run of the week. Our new schedule of Tuesday to Thursday has worked well for us, but Sunday continues to be a struggle to get enough players online. Or… maybe it was just a Father’s Day issue.


Anyway, having cleared up Thorim, Hodir and Freya on Wednesday, we were ready to dedicate the night to our newest challenge… Mimiron! I had been fortunate enough to have been part of a successful 10-man raid that cleared Mimiron and General Vezax, and even made a few futile attempts on Yogg-Saron on Monday. I knew what was awaiting us and was fairly certain we would spend the night wiping out on Mimiron. I was almost right, too. The Red Devils are quickly earning a reputation for being unable to down a new boss until threatened with a “This is our LAST attempt” warning from the Raid Leader. Last night was no exception and we successfully downed the V0-L7R-0N Combat System (the last phase of the Mimiron battle) on our ninth and last attempt of the night!


Mimiron is an interesting fight and just getting to his room presented a challenge for those of us that are… how shall I say this? Less situationally aware? Reminiscent of the “frogger” slimes after Patchwerk in Naxx, patrols of bomb-bots skitter the perimeter around Mimiron’s chamber. They aren’t hard to avoid, really, but these things explode on contact and one-shot most players. Fortunately by the fourth or fifth attempt, nearly all of us learned to maneuver through the gauntlet successfully.

I was actually impressed with how quickly the raid was able to learn the various phases of the fight and we quickly made progress to the fourth and final phase. Once we made it to that point, it took only a few more attempts before we were successful. In fact, we very nearly won the eighth attempt, but had lost too many of our dps to finish him off. On our last attempt we still lost quite a few players to laser barrage and proximity mines, and our main feral tank (Lesi) twice to shock blasts. We recovered nicely and in just over twelve minutes we cranked out more than 35 million damage to defeat Mimiron!

DO NOT PUSH THE BIG RED BUTTON!


Wow Web Stats doesn’t parse the Mimiron fight properly, but World of Logs does. Actually, WWS has fallen behind in updating their parser for Ulduar and I have begun to rely on WOL more. I am more familiar with WWS and prefer the numeric breakdowns it provides for detailed analysis of individual performance. With a little more experience, I am sure I will learn to use WOL just as well.

This post would not be complete without a discussion of the Red Devils loot system and some of our members’ recent complaints in that regard. With the release of Wrath, the Red Devils developed and implemented a new and unique loot system using in-game rolls, combined with a modifier based on your rank in the guild.

Ranks in the guild are based on attendance in raids, with four possible ranks: Friend (<25%), Member (25 to <50%), Raider (50 to <85%) and Elite Raider (85%+). Promotions and demotions are issued every two weeks based on attendance over the past 60 days and players must maintain their attendance levels to keep their rank. This encourages our members to raid and provides them with higher rank (prestige) in the guild for continued participation.

Attendance is recorded based on time, with records kept every 30 minutes during a normal raid and 15 minutes during a “progression” raid. Players that show up on-time and ready get attendance credit, even if the raid is subsequently called off due to insufficient numbers. This system provides credit to the raid even on “wipe nights” when no bosses are downed, encouraging members to participate even on those difficult progression nights.

Ultimately, the only tangible reward for raiding comes in the form of LOOT. As I mentioned earlier, we use the in-game roll system (1-100) combined with a “roll modifier” based on rank. The Friend rank has a modifier of 0, Members have +20 added to their roll, Raiders +30 and Elite Raiders +40. This provides a strong bias for the higher rank members to win their rolls, while still providing a chance for everyone to win loot. The idea was to make the guild more attractive in our recruitment efforts, yet continue to reward our more active raiders with more loot. Recruiting and retaining talented players is crucial to a raiding guild’s success. We need to get them in the door and keep them in order to maintain our active membership at a sufficient level to form a 25-man raid.

But, guess what happens when a higher rank member loses their roll, in spite of the modifier? Whispers galore to one of the officers from the losing party, usually pertaining to how much more they deserved the loot than the winner. Sometimes even veiled threats of a /gquit are made, and occasionally they don’t even bother to be that subtle. Lately, this has been occurring often enough to raise the concern among the officers as to how appropriate our loot system is and if it is serving the guild in the capacity in which it was envisioned.

Personally, I think that it is. I will readily admit that I was not a big fan of the system when first presented to the guild. I had concerns similar to what others are voicing now – that it would allow too much loot to go to players of less benefit to the guild. Now, to me, a member’s benefit to the guild is measured not only by their skill, but also by their attendance in raids. We need people on-line and ready to raid on a consistent basis. We just don’t have the sheer numbers (yet) to always put together a full group for each scheduled raid night. A highly skilled member that shows up once a week is not as valuable (to me) as a lesser skilled one that is there every night.

Our loot system rewards attendance and an Elite Raider is nearly five times more likely to win over a Friend. But, that doesn’t mean the Friend can’t win. They can… and do. And there’s the rub for the guild at the moment. Should Friends be allowed to roll on loot? I think they should, but maybe we need to modify our system a bit. Perhaps limitations on what can be rolled on should be implemented. Time will tell, and many of our officers are beginning to voice their concerns over “deserving” vs. “random”.

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I’ve been getting back into comics lately, thanks largely to the World of Warcraft. My most recent purchases were the trade paperbacks of Wildstorm’s World of Warcraft series and Ashbringer, as well as Tokyopop’s Warcraft Legends manga. Since I couldn’t get my fix of Hong Kong manhua without actually going to Hong Kong (which makes it kind of hard to keep up with weekly titles like Amazing Weapons 4…), it was a bit easier to head over to our local shops and get some Western comics. What better subject than my favorite game, right?

While I enjoyed Ashbringer, I take a great liking to Warcraft Legends because it explores the other aspects or characters of Azeroth. The ongoing series can focus on well-known guys like Varian Wrynn, but Warcraft Legends are cool side-stories of the unknown guys. That opens up a world of potential. We could see stories about those NPCs we always see all over the place. Maybe we can get a comic about Cro Threadstrong and find out why he hates the fruit vendor so much. How about stories about the wandering “named” NPCs in Dalaran? Minigob Manabonk, maybe?

On the flip side, how about when the characters in the comic stories suddenly make their way into the game? We know Broll Bearmantle and Valeera Sanguinar have their roots in toys and comics, and players can now meet them in WoW. This whole idea of comics as an extension of the game’s story is really cool, and I hope Wildstorm and Tokyopop keep putting out great comics and characters. Is there anything in particular about the World of Warcraft that you’d like to see in comic form? A favorite character? A particular period or special event? Share your thoughts!

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Breakfast Topic: What would you like to see in a WoW comic? originally appeared on WoW.com on Fri, 26 Jun 2009 08:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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We’ve been seeing sporadic reports today that the Mimiron hard mode was nerfed via hotfix at some point during the night, and it appears those reports were correct. Bornakk just posted in the “recent in-game fixes” thread that the following changes were made to the hard mode of Ulduar’s ingenious keeper:

  • Flame damage reduced.
  • Damage/health gained from Emergency Mode reduced slightly.
  • Range of Emergency Fire Bot’s Deafening Siren reduced in heroic; no longer cast on normal.
  • Damage from Heat Wave in phase 2 reduced.
  • Damage from Plasma Blast in phase 1 reduced.

That’s a pretty wide array of nerfs. I haven’t tried the hard mode – my guild is still working on getting the normal mode down consistently. I do love the fight on normal, though; it’s not easy, but it is super-fun.

Hard-mode raiders, what do you think? Does this fall in the category of “why would you nerf a hard mode,” or was he simply ridiculous before?

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Mimiron hard mode nerfed originally appeared on WoW.com on Thu, 25 Jun 2009 14:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Ghostcrawler has finally said on the forums what I’ve been saying for a while here on WoW.com and elsewhere: using blue text on the forums as a way of disseminating information is “a strange way to communicate.” He’s been appending the words “[Not tracked]” to some of his posts so they don’t end up on the official “bluetracker,” because a lot of what he posts is just silly and fun and not to be pored over and examined (especially without the context of the other posts around it). But all of those posts are still picked up by the unofficial bluetrackers that many players follow, and he laments that it’s annoying to have people jump in on threads without reading all the context: “you end up looking like a real jerk half the time.”

I would never call GC a jerk, but it’s clear to see what he means — sending out information via official posts on the forum is something Blizzard has done for a long time, and it’s really a bad way to go about it. To their credit, they’ve been trying lots of new things lately, from official interviews to class Q&As and just plain releasing official information on the site. But I’ve always thought (and still think) that the company could use an official blog — back when I was playing Dark Age of Camelot, I really enjoyed all of their work on the Camelot Herald, and I think Blizzard would benefit from something more like that. They do have a section for official news on the front page, but that’s mostly licensed items and marketing information, not actual updates to the game.

Continue reading Ghostcrawler on why Bluetrackers suck

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Ghostcrawler on why Bluetrackers suck originally appeared on WoW.com on Wed, 24 Jun 2009 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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