Blog Archive by month: August 2008
by Tachyon on Tue. 26. August 2008, 06:49
Filed under: patch, WotLK, talentsEvery expansion requires a compatibility patch, that brings the WoW client to a version which is compatible to the expansion, but does not include its specific features. With this compatibility patch, you can play the same WoW that users who don't buy the expansion will experience, including the new talent trees and professions, but none of the new zones, items, or increased level range.
Blizzard added such a patch (2.0) almost two months before The Burning Crusade shipped, and now they're doing it again with patch 3.0 before lauching Wrath of the Lich King.
Quote from Eyonix ( see original quote):
With the release of Wrath of the Lich King approaching, we wanted to provide you with some important information. In preparation for the expansion, we will be issuing a new content patch in the coming weeks. Much like the patch made available shortly before The Burning Crusade's release, this content patch is designed to bridge current game content with that of the expansion and will contain some exciting changes and additions.
We have outlined some of the larger features scheduled to release with the patch below:
- New class spells and talents
- Stormwind Harbor
- Barbershops in capital cities
- Zeppelin towers outside of Orgrimmar and Tirisfal Glades
- Two brand-new Arenas featuring challenging new layouts, terrain hazards, and moving obstacles
- Guild calendar
- Hunter pet skill revamp
- New profession: Inscription
As mentioned above, this is not a comprehensive list, just some of the major highlights. We?ll post the full patch notes as soon as they?re available. Regarding Inscription, please note that all Burning Crusade players will be able to select Inscription as one of their two professions and level up to a skill level of 375 with it. Upon the release of Wrath of the Lich King, players who purchase and install the expansion will be able to continue leveling in Inscription and the other professions beyond 375.
The pre-release of the new talent trees and the guild calendar was expected, but the addition of the new Inscription profession, the barber shops and the new arenas were quite a surprise.
This patch is soooo full of opportunities:
- Testing the new talents
The changes in the talent trees are massive, it might as well be a new game you play. The patch is a good occasion to test and explore the new talents, so you can experiment which talent combination works best for you. I hope there will be a beta version of the patch on the Public Test Realms, so we can test all trees and talent combinations with virtually free respecs.
- PvE progression
The new talents and especially their synergies will likely result in a boost in raiding environments, aiding you jump over whatever hurdle you're facing in progression. Too little DPS on Brutallus..no more!
- Shave and a haircut
Aye, it's a fun feature and money pit, but I'm foreseeing large queues before the barber shops. Look at my new hairdo, mom!
Inscription can be levelled to 375, and even if you won't choose this profession, I'm sure you'll *love* to fiddle about inscribing your spells
Arenas are fer sissies, but BG PvP will give you a chance to test your new talents and also experience in what way the other classes changed. Prepare for a refreshing new experience in the battlegrounds (and whine threads flooding the forums)
No date for the patch has been anounced yet, and the talents aren't final, nor are all working properly yet, so it's too early to come up with talent build suggestions. I'll reserve those for when the patch goes live (or when the PTRs are open)...
by Tachyon on Sun. 24. August 2008, 23:04
Filed under: editorial, designInspired by the WotLK Cinematic Trailer, I decided to pimp the site stylesheet with a new look. The site's new ice blue theme and the glowing rune on Frostmourne on the title now better reflects the site's purpose: being an undead frost mage's blog.
The news syndication functionality was also extended, besides the format is now also supported, both for the articles, and new also the comments.
I hope you like the new look
Comments are appreciated, as always!
by Tachyon on Fri. 22. August 2008, 18:17
Filed under: subcreation, mage, communityMy beloved #1 theorycrafting site, Subcreation, was taken offline yesterday. That's what you see when trying to access their page now:
Alcaras, why, WHYYYY!
The subcreation forums were always a source of inspiration, and a meeting point for the best mage theorycrafters out there. Its intelligent, inspiring and honest discussions will be missed. At least for me, they leave a gap behind, which can't be filled by Elitist Jerks nor any other existing forum. Screw EJ, we want Subcreation back!
It was quite of a shock, seeing the Subcreation community gone, and having the forums no more (there's a whole bunch of reference material there). It's strange that this wasn't announced before, and that there was no way to discuss how the forums may be saved and continued.
Alcaras pulled the plug, and we're left with a crater where once the green and flourishing lands of theorycrafting and WoW discussion lay. Whatever the reason was, I hope we find out some day...
If that's really the end of it: thanks Alcaras and all of the Subcreation community, you will be missed! Special salutes to Qb (Qbert on US-Moonrunner), your postings, opinions and reviews were always excellent. Some of the subcreation regulars are also blogging (e.g. Tuna at spicytunas.com); at least this way I'll continue to read their opinions.
/salute & /farewell
by Tachyon on Thu. 21. August 2008, 19:52
Filed under: WotLK, Expansion, VideosJust as WoWInsider announced, the Cinematic Trailer for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion was presented today at the Games Convention in Leipzig, Germany.
I watched with delight
as you grew into a weapon
- King Terenas Menethil, to his son Arthas
Blizzard's CG departement excelled once again, it's looking sooo awesome.
The trailer is full of bittersweet tragedy, when the past voice of King Terenas expresses his hopes for his son, and seeing what he'd become.
Compared to the classic and BC trailers this one is shorter, and doesn't follow the 'classes showcase' pattern anymore, but delivers a more immersive and cinematically clear vision of the expansion theme.
It's so sad that the WoW movie won't be done in this CG art, but I have faith in both Blizzard and Legendary Pictures (300, The Dark Knight) that they'll at least follow the spirit and graphical style of those trailers.
by Tachyon on Wed. 13. August 2008, 19:43
Filed under: raiding, loot, items, guildThe fact that so many loot distribution systems exist speaks for itself - none of them is perfect in every situation.
The general principle is:
Loot shall be distributed in the way that causes the least drama, and the highest motivation.
But does it matter who gets the loot? And who benefits how much from it?
Things that have to be considered with loot distribution:
- Loot improves your raid, making encounters more easy and allowing to progress.
- Loot is a motivational factor for the players (surely not the only factor, but let's be realistic: its probably the most important one), as it is the only way to advance a character in the endgame.
- Getting loot upgrades the players' characters. The item may be more of an upgrade to one player than to another player.
- From a raid group perspective, the item also indirectly benefits all other players, especially when the player receiving it raids often or fulfills an important role in the raid. That's why most guilds set priorities on equipping their main tank with the best gear possible.
- Item drop chances vary, and generally the best items drop more seldom.
- Alternatives have to be considered - are there some other sources for item upgrades that a player hasn't used, such as heroic badge loot, crafted items and faction rewards? One item may be more of a benefit to a player just because he was too lazy to get an upgrade from an alternative source, whilst the item may be only a small upgrade for another player who has no other way to improve his equipment than from item drops.
- Players hate random distribution. It's like working as much as your co-workers, only that each employee gets a random amount on his paycheck at the end of the month. Get more that your coworkers and you feel guilty, get less and you feel cheated.
- From a guild perspective, it's also important to keep the equipment of your raiders on a more or less equal level. If some raiders quickly outgear others, it becomes more likely that they switch to another guild when the raiding progress is not that fast.
Let's introduce some well known loot distribution systems and how they work:
Free for all lets all players pick up loot - first come, first serve. This generally distracts from playing together, as everybody will focus on ninjaing loot instead of concentrating on the fight. Diablo2 players learned to hate that system.
Round Robin assigns the loot more or less randomly to a player.
Need / Greed
This system allows the players to be fair (though does not force them to be) by letting them decide whether they need the item to upgrade their gear, or just greeding to roll for it when the other players also don't need it.
This system is best suited for pickup groups, and depends on the players making fair decisions. Loot ninjas could need on any drop, that will cause drama for sure, often resulting in a group kick for that player.
In small groups, players often discuss who should get the item that just dropped. If more than one player wants it, a manual dice roll decides who wins it.
This system can also be applied for raids, where the raid leaders or guild officers form a council to discuss who will get this item. They want to conclude on a decision that can be justified (be it that one player benefits most from the item, or be it to give credit for raid participation), but as there are so many driving factors, the decision is most often unambiguous when more than one player would deserve the item equally.
Loot council can and most probably will cause drama, at least when items are distributed that don't drop frequently. Players depend on the loot council's benevolence, that lowers their expectation and demotivates on a long term, as the efforts/rewards are not directly coupled.
For items that drop very often, such as the set tokens for T4/T5/T6 (3 types of tokens, and guaranteed 3 tokens per kill results in an average drop chance of 100% for a specific token), where set bonuses also have to be considered, this system can complement other loot system in that situation.
DKP stands for Dragon Kill Points. It requires tracking of the players participation over all raids (which means additional effort for the raid organizers), and also tracks which player got which items in the past.
Players earn DKP by rading, and can spend it to 'buy' item drops.
There are many variations on how DKP is earned and spent, so there's a whole family of DKP systems.
- Points per Raid - Each raid, be it successful or not, will reward a given amount of DKP.
- Points per Drop - This is a common practice with Zero-Sum DKP systems. If a players spends points to buy an item, the points will be distributed to all players in the raid.
- Individual adjustments in form of Bonus and Minus DKP (see the famous Onyxia Wipe) can be granted for exceptionally good or bad performance at a raid.
- Fixed Item Prices - Items cost a predefined amount of DKP. To give credit to the item's value, the item slot can be taken into consideration (weapons are generally more valuable than boots), and items could be grouped by tiers to reflect the effort the raid has to loot them (MH and BT will cost more than SSC/TK items). Some DKP tools can also calculate the item value as a function of the item slot and item level. With fixed item prices, the loot is given to the player with need with the highest DKP.
- Bidding system - Players can use their DKP to bid for items. The player with the highest bid will get the item. This system is somewhat flexible towards the item drop chance and the demand for the item; items that drop often tend to be cheaper than items that drop more seldom. Each player can decide for himself, how much of his DKP he's willing to spend for an item drop.
DKP systems are a good way to regulate the loot distribution, as this system is transparent and credits raid attendence and previously gained loot.
The Zero-Sum DKP systems tend to be rigid and have discrepancies due to rewarding attendence to farm encounters with lots of loot, and punishing attendence to progress encounters. When a raider quits the guild, the zero sum condition is violated, so it will either shift into a non-zero sum system or require normalization to adapt the DKP of all players in a way that the sum is zero again.
Non-Zero-Sum systems tend to have a postitive sum over all raiders, as bonus DKP is more frequently applied (and if, then to the whole raid) than minus DKP. This DKP inflation becomes more and more of a barrier for new guild members, who find themselves disadvantaged. For fixed-sum systems, this advantage becomes more or less permanent, and can only be countered by a normalization (just like in the Zero-Sum system).
Bidding systems are more flexible as they tend to self-regulate, and players which have more DKP also tend to spend more. DKP inflation does only happen when players get into item saturation (when they have almost anything they want). Saturation is a good indicator that a player has outgeared the current raiding progress, and should advance to harder content.
Whichever loot distribution system is used, none of them is perfect. Loot distribution can become a complicated issue, especially in raid alliances, with guest raiders and or twinks participating.
DKP and Loot Council are in my opinion best suited for raiding, but it's essential to observe where it works and where it doesn't. There's always a way to customize or mix the loot systems, but keep in mind that the simpler the system, the better. Loot distribution should be done efficiently and quickly after all, to not to annoy the mass amount of people that want to advance to the next boss instead of waiting for a neverending discussion on loot distribution.
My guild currently uses DKP with fixed amount of points per raid, but with a different DKP account for each player and raid tier (so you won't be able to purchase Sunwell items with DKP earned in MH/BT. For the class set tokens we currently use Loot Council, as we need more people with a 4x T6 bonus. Items are purchased with bidding, and it works quite well for us.
How does your guild handle the loot distribution? Share your experiences by commenting this article
DKP is the devil, by World of Matticus
Loot Distribution, by Bremm's Musings
by Tachyon on Wed. 13. August 2008, 01:45
Filed under: items, seasonal, event, battleground, pvp
Competitor's Tabard, a tabard showing a slightly modified version of the Olympic Rings. This item is sent to all players participating in a battleground.
Gold Medallion, which summons a Spirit of Competition, which in fact is a chinese dragon pet. Players can get it by a certain chance when winning a battleground (got mine on the 4th win).
Nice idea from Blizzard, this gives even the PvP-deniers (to whom I don't belong) a reason to do some battleground sessions, especially for the pet collectors which won't want to miss this unique seasonal pet.
by Tachyon on Fri. 08. August 2008, 01:38
Filed under: wotlk, expansionNew mage talents
I already blogged about some of the new frost talents, but they got changed within the week I was on vacation, so I'm waiting with my new review until they get more stable and become 'release candidates'.
I'm currently 2/0/59 deep frost specced, and I love it, so the new frost talents get most of my attention, and I can hardly wait to test and use them all. I'm also waiting for more feedback from the beta testers to find out which talents are worth spending points before I try to make up a new talent build for levelling in WotLK and one for the end game. Hey, I also heard that we will be able to have two specs at once and somehow switch between them, but I don't know if this is a) in the beta yet and b) will make it into the release. That would certainly solve pve/pvp spec dilemma.
It's to assume that the new talents will be available one month before the release of the expansion (they did the same when The Burning Crusade came out, the new talents were available in Dec 2006, when Blizzard added the backward compatibility patch). That would be great, boosting PvE process for raiding guilds, and give us all a head start on some new abilities, so we have something less to ponder when the expansion comes out.
According to the Bartle Test, I'm more an achiever (66.67%) and killer (53.33%) than a socializer (40%) or explorer (40%), but I'm nevertheless quite curious to travel and experience the new continent.
The art style evolves with every content patch and expansion, it's amazing what the art department at Blizzard does within the limitations of the aged 3d engine.
The zone concepts were already superb in The Burning Crusade, and from what I've seen yet from the beta, the new expansion will just excel on the zone design.
Exploring is all about fighting your way through the jungle, not about taking satellite pictures from a save distance. Kudos to Blizzard for recognizing that, and disabling us from using our flying mounts before level 78, that's a good thing and disables the players from bypassing all the new content.
Levelling to 80
Levelling from 60 to 70 had a huge impact on the balance and gameplay of the classes. Though I was in the BC beta, I wasn't able to foresee how strong or weak the classes and specs get relative to each other. The same shuffling will happen from 70 to 80, and balance in regard to abilities, specs and equipment is yet unpredictable.
I like levelling very much, but only on my main, as I hate it to revisit content, thus I'm not much of a twinker (my highest twink is a lvl40 rogue).
I'm really looking forward to level my mage, gaining new abilites and seeing if and how my gameplay will change. As in BC, I try on purpose not to level too fast, as I want to enjoy it to a maximum degree before entering the endgame mill again.
That's a pretty amazing addition to the game, even if it's non-functional (or only gives titles/tabbards and maybe a pet).
Achievements are not only there for bragging, but can also serve as a reference card when applying to a new guild (look, that's what I've done, the boss encounters I've beaten). And in annoying times, there's always one more achievement to unlock, it's a game in itself.
I'm yet wondering which achievements will be retroactive, some (like the number of quests made and the total amount of honorable kills) will be most certainly, but I also hope that I won't have to raid the lvl 60/70 instances again to unlock those achievements.
I actually love gathering, and especially when it comes to new herbs. It's like a floral treasure hunt!
The next item wipe
I can't understand the woes of people crying over the item wipe. With the advent of Burning Crusade, I only once replaced an epic item with a green one (the lvl63 quest trinket), apart from that only blue items of a higher level replaced my purples one-by-one. I'm all into hunting for and collecting items, and I dont care to replace a beloved item with a better one.
The item wipe also has the important task of bringing players onto the same level with the new expansion, it's like a second chance for all the people that weren't into the raiding endgame before.
Doing the casual instances with my guild
My playtime is currently totally absorbed by 25men endgame raids in a guild I joined some months ago. Our guild is pretty large, so I only happen to know a fraction of the members, and as our raids are organized with high discipline, I have yet to get into social contact with most of my guild members.
The casual atmosphere of doing new 5men dungeons are the perfect occasion to socialize with my co-guildies and get to know them better, that's one thing I'm very looking forward to do
New Battleground: Strand of the Ancients
I just *love* battlegrounds. Being thrown into a random group of people and forced to quickly and dynamically forge a battle plan to crush the enemy is endless pleasure. I personally find pre-formed groups annoying to a high degree, whether its on the own faction (boring as you have a huge advantage and no real challenge) or on the enemies' side (being steamrolled and camped if they are good, or, as in most cases, having a long battle when the preformed enemy group plays bad and they win only closely, but not because the were really better), so I tend to play with random groups, which is more of a challenge and keeps the battlegrounds fresh and interesting. Too bad they only added one new battleground, but at least it looks very promising. I hope WAR will challenge them enough to add more BGs in later content patches.
PvP Zone: Lake Wintergrasp
Open PvP can't really be balanced when there's only two factions. Back in my old DAoC (Dark Age of Camelot) days, there were three factions and only open PvP, but if one side was stronger than the other two factions would pact against it to keep them from getting too strong. But even if open PvP will be unbalanced from the very beginning due to unbalanced alliance/horde population, it will only impact one zone and not the entire world.
Doing some PvP there with my guild is what I'm looking for, could be exciting, but it's hard to predict how this will come out. Might as well end up in endless Zerg fests and mexican standoffs (a.k.a wallfights in DAoC). We'll see.
If anyone from Blizzard is reading this:
Dudes, you forgot to send me a beta key! Seriously!