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] For players who did not receive gold or items from Tectus/Ko’ragh due to tonight’s bug, updates he
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] We're aware that Tectus & Ko'ragh aren't dropping loot in the 2nd Highmaul wing. Updates to follow:
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World of Warcraft Plans for 2015 and Subscription Currency, December 18th Hotfixes
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New Ghostcrawler Blog: How Big is Your Spellbook?
2011/04/26 at 11:07 AM
Ghostcrawler is at it again and this time he's talking about abilities--particularly the number of them for each class. When designing classes, developers aim for a magic number but, as he explains, it never quite works out. It's just not as simple as one would believe and it's an interesting balancing act making each class have the right amount of abilities to both challenge and meet a player's expectations.
There are quite a lot of differences between situational abilities and ones used frequently in rotations as well. Ghostcrawler eventually closes with tackling the humanity of it all, explaining that it's not as simple as developing for a simulation; developers have to account for players and their ability levels as well as their personal experiences. Abilities change from PvE and PvP situations quite drastically. It's no walk in the park designing not only the right number of abilities, but the right variety.
Of course, that's the fun of it--right?
How Big Is Your Spellbook?
How many abilities should a max-level class have? This is something I ponder at least once a day and is a regular topic in nearly all of our class design meetings. Even if you pick a magic number, how many of those should be core rotational abilities versus abilities that are used rarely?
Each class has a lot of spells and abilities -- the hunter has over 60, including the various forms of tracking. Despite our pruning abilities for many classes, there are still probably too many overall. In vanilla, most classes had one ability they used much of the time for damage or healing. Other abilities were situational or, to be honest, not used at all. In more recent expansions, we’ve tried to develop actual rotations for all 30 talent trees so that you’re hitting more than one button most of the time.
When we talk about class “rotations” we’re just using that term as shorthand for the abilities you tend to use often, as opposed to situational abilities. In this context “rotations” aren’t limited just to classes who cycle through buttons A, B, and C in that order. It just means “stuff you use a lot.”
Kidney Shot is a situational ability. You wouldn’t want to use it every time it was off cooldown. Envenom is a rotational ability. You might not want to use it the moment it’s off cooldown, depending on what else is going on, but you’ll still get around to it pretty quickly. Cold Blood straddles the fence. It’s rotational in that your DPS will drop if you ignore it, but you can’t spam it because it has a cooldown. All three buttons require space on your action bar. You might scoot Kidney Shot off to the side if you’re a raiding rogue, but it probably commands a prominent hotkey if you PvP a lot.
What's the Magic Number?
There isn’t a magic number for how many rotational abilities a class needs, but we find that about four is the sweet spot. (Warning: four is not a magic number. Please don’t “helpfully” point out classes with more than four abilities as candidates for immediate design overhauls.) Elemental shaman, for example, get most of their damage from Lightning Bolt, Lava Burst, Flame Shock, and Earth Shock.
Many more abilities than four and it’s hard for us to carve off niches for them. Fewer than that, and the characters can become boring to play. We’ve tried to make it clearer about which are your rotational abilities (e.g. Overpower is for Arms warriors, not generally for Fury or Protection warriors), and we’ll try to get even better about this in the future.
We generally think of rotations as mechanics for DPS classes, but they apply to tanks as well and to a lesser extent, healers. Protection warriors use Shield Slam, Revenge, Devastate, and Heroic Strike as their single-target threat abilities. They also use Demoralizing Shout, Thunder Clap, and Shield Block, pretty much on cooldown. Given the number of situational abilities warriors also have, and that they prioritize different abilities when attacking multiple targets, you can argue that Prot warriors have too many abilities. To my mind, Demoralizing Shout is the least interesting one and the first candidate to cut. (We would have to cut the equivalent debuffs from all sources in order to prevent this from just being a warrior nerf of course.) We could also have Devastate completely replace Sunder Armor (i.e. Sunder Armor vanishes from your Spell Book) so there is no confusion about whether Sunder should ever be used again. That would help to get a few buttons off the bar.
Healers have less of a rotation, since much of what they are doing is always highly situational. However, Holy paladins do have builders and finishers, and other healers want to get their HoTs up before switching to cast-time heals, etc. All healers still have a group of core spells though. For a Holy priest healing a single target, these are Heal, Flash Heal, Greater Heal, Renew, and Holy Word: Serenity. If we gave healers a new healing spell, it would need to distinguish itself from those spells in some meaningful way, else it or one of the existing spells risks getting crowded out. Flash Heal is often the heal that risks getting crowded out most often, since so many of the healer talents give them more situational-ish emergency buttons, such as Penance and Power Word: Shield for priests.
I’ve stuck with long-ish single target rotations -- the kind you’d use against a dungeon or raid boss -- for the most part, but of course it isn’t always that simple. As you’re leveling, you’re killing things very quickly, so applying long DoTs isn’t always worth the effort. A Feral druid could stealth behind every quest mob and open with Shred (or even Ravage), but for the most part it’s easier just to Mangle targets down and spend combo points on Savage Roar or possibly Ferocious Bite, since the target won’t live long enough for Rip to really do its job. These “quick kill” rotations can also come into group play where you’re dealing with adds that can’t be AE’d down for whatever reason (such as the risk of breaking CC). A Shadow priest might use Mind Spike in these scenarios rather than their full dot and Mind Flay rotation.
On the topic of AE, some specs have some fairly interesting AE rotations, such as Fire mages (Flame Orb, Flamestrike, Combustion, Living Bomb) and Survival hunters (Serpent Spread, Explosive Trap and Multi-Shot). Other specs have really simple rotations, such as channeling a targeted spell over and over. Boring. Going forward, we’re going to make more of an effort to make sure everyone has a reasonable AE rotation that at least involves more than one button. Part of the reason we don’t want groups just AE’ing down everything in dungeons that they don’t yet overgear is because we think the gameplay is less compelling. Adding a little more depth than just channeling Blizzard would encourage us to add more situations where AE is the right thing to do.
The Human Factor
Rotations are very different in PvP as well, where uninterrupted time to sit there and do max DPS is in very short supply. On the other hand, all of those situational abilities (crowd control, dispels, cooldowns etc.) are at a premium in PvP and very often have an even bigger effect on the outcome of a fight than the core abilities do. It is tempting, and to be fair sometimes appropriate, to solve class balance problems by handing out new abilities to make a particular class or talent spec more attractive to a team or at least more viable overall.
We can do this sometimes by tweaking existing abilities, but there is also a risk of “kitchen sinking” an ability. If a button does too many things, then you’re sometimes asked to say use an offensive ability for defensive utility or apply a debuff you don’t really want to mess with in order to get an ancillary benefit. We can cut down on potential confusion by giving similar or even identical abilities to multiple classes (now you only need to learn the name, icon and spell effect of one ability instead of a half-dozen), but too much of that risks class homogenization as well.
Because there are so many different scenarios (PvP, AE, quick kill, and long kill), classes end up with a lot of different rotational and situational abilities that you all are asked to manage and master. Your action bars fill up. Now add in potions and other consumables, mounts, trinkets, professions, and a potential host of macros, and your action bars get very full. Designers also feel a lot of pressure to fix neglected abilities rather than cutting them, even though pruning is often the wiser (but unpopular!) solution. An additional complication is that players expect (and rightfully so!) to gain a new ability or two whenever we increase the level cap. Very powerful situational abilities can serve this role, such as Ring of Frost, but players often react more positively when they gain a new rotational ability that changes up their second-to-second play style, like say Colossus Smash or Unleash Elements.
Too Many to Handle?
So when do we cross over from having “enough” cool abilities to “too many” cool abilities? The depth that comes from lots and lots of content can feel cool to a veteran player, but even for them, the intended role and nuance of every ability can become blurred. For the new or returning player, it just becomes incomprehensible.
A warrior who took some time off after Lich King and then came back to Cataclysm recently would have to relearn her rotation. Raging Blow? What’s that about? Yeah, it might be more interesting than just spamming Bloodthirst, Heroic Strike, and Whirlwind (even on single targets) like Fury warriors did in Icecrown Citadel, but it’s also just one more thing to learn. Even if the new rotation itself isn’t all that complicated, the fact that the design changed over time makes it feel more confusing than it really is at any one moment in time.
Also remember, that to be the best that you can be, you need to understand the abilities of every class, not just your own. Yikes. We designers have to be vigilant to keep complexity at a manageable level, not just for veterans who are active on the forums, but for returning players who want to see what changes Cataclysm brought to the game.
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He prefers Greek mythology over Roman. Cooler names.
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Patch 4.1: Official Video and Wowhead Guide
2011/04/25 at 2:38 PM
There's an official video for Rise of the Zandalari: Patch 4.1 posted by Blizzard to share with you today.
The days when great troll empires stretched across ancient Kalimdor are long past. Millennia of war and internal strife have stripped these nations of their power, lands, and glory. As Azeroth recovers from the destruction of the Cataclysm, the world's divided troll populations face a bleak future. These dark times have spurred the trolls of the Zandalar, the historically wise and scholarly tribe from which all trolls originated, to take drastic action. They have embarked on a bold crusade to save their race by uniting trolls into a single mighty empire. With the Zandalari's aid, the fallen capitals of the Gurubashi and Amani nations -- Zul'Gurub and Zul'Aman -- are already rebuilding, replenishing their forces for a bloody campaign to expand their territories.
Yet Vol'jin and his Darkspear trolls are not aligned with the Zandalari. They have sworn to stand with their Horde comrades -- and even work with the Alliance -- should the trolls ignite a new war on Azeroth. Soon, Vol'jin might be forced to act on his promise, for if the Gurubashi and Amani are left to their own devices, the world will know the legendary strength and savagery of the ancient troll empires once again.
Patch 4.1: Wowhead Guide
As the presence of this video indicates, Patch 4.1 is this Tuesday. We here at Wowhead have decided to kick it up a notch and help you guys out by expanding our patch coverage with
a fully detailed guide to patch 4.1
! This is a thorough exploration of every quest, each new item, and everything else you need to know about what 4.1 us bringing to Azeroth. A lot of work has gone into this guide, particularly from two of our volunteers (Neutronimity and Perculia), so thanks guys!
Blizzard Closes PTR
Blizzard just shutdown the PTR for 4.1, yet another sign that the patch is nigh.
4.1.0 PTR testing is over... Thanks for all your assistance, reports, and feedback.
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Noblegarden Guide (Apr 24 - 30)
2011/04/23 at 10:44 AM
is coming up this weekend and Wowhead is here to help. As with before, you can find out what vanity pets there are to add to your collection, how to get
Tome of Polymorph: Rabbit
, and every last detail you need to become a noble by using
our in-depth guide
If you have comments or questions about the guide and/or the event itself, post them here and we'll try to give you a hand. Have a great weekend collecting eggs--both virtual and real ones, if you celebrate!
And hey, while you're celebrating the spirit of Spring in-game, remember to check out
the Noblegarden contest
we're running with WoW Official Magazine. We've had a great response so far! It's been a lot of fun watching people try to figure out the puzzles we've whipped up.
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Wowhead Noblegarden Contest -- CLOSED! Winners selected!
2011/04/21 at 9:31 PM
UPDATE: Contest is closed. Winners can be found
. Emails were sent out to the winners.
Spring is in the air and
is coming to Azeroth. This year, it's coming to Wowhead as well. We've teamed up with the talented folks from
WoW Official Magazine
to provide you with a
Brightly Colored Egg
hunt you'll remember. So grab your
and hop around Wowhead's database for a chance to win
some fabulous prizes
--WoW Official Magazine subscriptions, Blizzcon 2010 art portfolios, Wowhead premium time, and even a Murloc plushie!
In the spirit of the season, this particular contest is a scavenger hunt! The Wowhead community team has hidden ten
Brightly Colored Eggs
with in our database somewhere and it's up to you to find them before the holiday leaves both Azeroth and Wowhead until next year. We'll provide you the clues, but you'll have to do the rest of the sleuthing on your own.
For every item you find by visiting its database entry, you'll get entered into the contest; since there are ten eggs, you have ten chances to win. Participating is as easy as reading the riddles and going on a hunt through Wowhead's database while logged in.
The 10 Clues for
the Noblegarden Contest
's former best friend, you'll only be able to see her if you have a sixth sense.
Twilight has nothing on this steamy Azerothian read; its title is more colorful than Meyer's sequel is too.
If being you isn't working out, grab a mug of this brew and transform into someone else for the hour. You can't find it on the auction house like
Savory Deviate Delight
and it's guarded closely by a lot of enemies, but that's all part of the fun--right?
You could be a worgen long before Cataclysm if you got buffed by this item--all you had to do was head to a certain raid instance.
Killing sheep is a
of fun. This particular sheep packs a bigger blast than a normal
. You'll find him while flying over
, just watch out for that angry gnome.
If only this handy item weren't broken,
would be so much quicker.
This is the bigger and pinker cousin to
Pint-Sized Pink Pachyderm
. You'll only see him if you get drunk in
This character is the key to one of Cataclysm's saddest quests. She's also named after a Greek Titan with notorious marital woes.
When wooing that cute Night Elf you've had your eye on since vanilla, you probably don't want to give her this. Trust us, she won't be amused by your stinginess--it's not like
is really that expensive in today's economy, anyway.
Surprisingly, this is one of the hardest achievements to get in the game; for some reason, it masks its true difficulty and rarity. Good thing it only comes once a year--or maybe that's the entire problem.
Have fun hunting!
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New Ghostcrawler Blog: Critical Hits (And Misses)
2011/04/19 at 3:51 PM
Homogenization is a dirty word according to Ghostcrawler. He also describes the difference between being complicated and complex. In this blog, he discusses what's happened in the combat rules throughout World of Warcraft--the changes they've made to critical hits, healing, and each class' particular niche. Most notably, though, he alludes to 4.1's changes and how more may be on the way. Those new tooltips for debuffs that affect healing done--like --are intentionally vague because its previous 10% reduction is being analyzed.
Read below to see what developers really think about critical hits and the design changes World of Warcraft's been subjected to over the years. As always, be sure to give your two cents after. Have the changes Ghostcrawler and company implemented been a critical hit--or a miss?
Critical History Lesson
In the original combat rules of World of Warcraft, melee classes could get 200% crits while casters could only get 150% crits. This was back when all the designers presumably played rogues instead of mages, which according to the forums is what we all play now (which makes our dungeon testing interesting, I gotta tell you.)
Over time, we added talents to allow various casters to get 200% crits as well. Warlocks “could” spend 5 points on the Ruin talent, for example, which you pretty much had to do to be a good warlock. As part of the Cataclysm talent tree evolutions we decided all DPS specs should be able to get 200% crits without investing talent points. There are still some inconsistencies though. Death knights can get 200% crits with both their melee and spell effects, while Assassination rogues get 200% crits with their physical attacks but only 150% crits with their poisons. Healers have always gotten 150% crits, both with their damage-dealing spells and with heals.
The overall design could be described as one that is simple to learn but complex to master. Or put another way, you know most of what you need to know if you’re told that crits do more damage. How much extra damage they do is one of those nuances that more experienced players learn over time and one of the things that makes classes feel different.
Or does it?
You could argue that we’re just keeping old rules that don’t really benefit the game. Is it very interesting that rogue poisons or Enhancement Lightning Bolts don’t have big crits? Does it make you feel different when you pick those classes or specs? Does it feel rewarding when you learn those subtle distinctions? I’d posit perhaps not. Homogenization is something we fight against all the time and one of the primary reasons that we don’t make class A’s ability work just like class B’s ability.
Homogenization -- A Dirty Word
If I can be snarky for a moment, players tend to beat the “homogenization!” drum too emphatically when they are losing something that is overpowered, and like to mock it as “flavor!” when we refuse to give them a cool ability that another class has.
Too much homogenization is a bad thing, no question. But do weird crit rules really fall into that category? There is a difference between being complex (which adds depth) and being complicated (which might just add confusion). We’d rather spend our “complexity points” on things that are really meaningful differences. Pick Assassination because you like daggers or poisons or maybe Rupture, not because you like small crits.
There are balance issues to consider too. Assassination rogues are never going to value crit as much as other characters are as long as some of their crits are smaller. We ran into the same issue with the damage-over-time-based specs when their dots couldn’t crit.
Healers Love Big Numbers Too
It can be an issue for healing as well. In Lich King, critical heals were virtually wasted because much of the time they were going to be overhealing. In Cataclysm, where healer mana matters more and even big heals can’t trivially top someone off, crits are more valuable. But they aren’t valuable enough. Getting 10% haste allows you to get a heal to a target 10% faster. Getting 10% crit allows you to heal a target 5% more. Is it any wonder that crit tends to get devalued for most healers? Resto shaman like it, but look at how many talents they have that make crits better for them. We’re strongly considering just letting all heals crit for double, just like most attacks. We don’t think this would have huge PvE consequences. Healers will heal for a little more, but even if they choose to start stacking crit, they’re going to do that at the expense of Haste, Mastery or Spirit. It could have bigger PvP consequences. Most PvP healers don’t have crit chances beyond say 10% or so, so they aren’t going to crit often.
We’ve been considering whether healing is too strong in PvP anyway. You may have noticed that we made the tooltips for Mortal Strike and equivalent debuffs intentionally vague for 4.1. As I write this, those debuffs are still at 10% healing, but we’re concerned that healing is too hard to counter and we might change that number. Changing it back to 50% would probably lead to the Mortal Strike debuff being mandatory for Arena comps again, but we never got much of a chance to see its effects at say 20%. A 20% Mortal Strike debuff could easily counter any excessive healing caused by 200% crits.
Letting rogues and Enhancement shaman get 200% crits with non-physical damage would be a larger change, and not the kind of thing we would do mid-expansion. But it’s definitely something we’re considering for the future. That would only leave the damage spells cast by healers at the 150% crit range. We think we could make those full 200% crits as well. If we want to make sure the DPS specs still do a lot more damage, we have the knobs to do that. For example, we could buff passives such as Moonfury (the damage bonus for Balance druids) or Shadow Power (the damage bonus for Shadow priests) to make sure their spells still landed a lot harder than the healing specs did, even if the healers got big crits.
If we made all those changes, then any crit in the game would be at 200%. It would be a very simple rule, and I’d argue any loss of class distinction is more than made up for by the positive balance ramifications. As always with this blog series, this is just speculation. You’re more likely to see 200% healing crits sooner, but even that isn’t something we’ve fully embraced yet. It’s just the kind of thing we discuss when hanging out at the bar... er, I mean watercooler.
Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street is the lead systems designer for World of Warcraft. He crits on a 19 or 20.
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Ask the Devs #6 Topic Selected: Guild Advancement
2011/04/18 at 9:34 AM
After a week pause, Blizzard's community outreach feature "Ask the Devs" is back. This time they're fielding questions on the topic of Guild Advancement. It's a good chance to ask about the recently introduced guild reputation system, the state of 10 and 25-man raiding, current content's effect on guilds, and even things like server firsts.
Of course, it'll only be interesting if you make it--so get asking and get out your
for a chance to have your question answered and read by Blizzard developers themselves.
As this is a global Q+A, threads will be made available to both US and EU. EU players can submit their questions
and the US thread is
Check out Blizzard's previous Q+As:
Ask the Devs Q+A #1: General
Ask the Devs Q+A #2: PvP
Ask the Devs Q+A #3: User Interface
Ask the Devs Q+A #4: Armor and Weapons
Ask the Devs Q+A #5: Achievements
Be sure to read on for the official announcement as well as the rules and procedures--do not submit them to this thread, though you are free to discuss potential questions and achievements in general here!
Continue Reading »
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Xfire Comes to Wowhead
2011/04/15 at 11:24 AM
has always been a platform known for its superior streaming video content for all types of gamers. From intense StarCraft 2 matches to World of Warcraft raids, Xfire has live feeds that cover every niche of the vast gaming landscape. That's why we here at Wowhead have recently partnered with XFire to provide Wowhead users with the most popular live streams relating to all aspects of WoW from their site right in the comfort of ours.
From now on the community tab of Wowhead will have a new portal link:
Xfire live streams
. From this section of our site, you'll be able to see a frequently updated list of their most popular World of Warcraft streams as they unfold. From PvE to PvP content, picking on an individual stream of your choice will open it as a larger size allowing you to view it in higher resolutions without even having to leave Wowhead. Of course, if you click on the Xfire link, you can find the livechat and other Xfire features that allow you to interact with the person's stream you're watching.
Pretty awesome, right?
If you want your chance to appear on Wowhead's video page, you can
set up your own Xfire account
and get started on streaming today. It's fast, easy, and fun; share your World of Warcraft adventures with both of our communities!
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Site Update: Captcha Options, New Subforum, and Spoiler Tag
2011/04/14 at 7:33 PM
Patch 4.1 - PTR Build 13875 - Spell Changes and New Item
2011/04/14 at 3:25 PM
A small PTR patch update was just issued--it's just a confirmation of what
Tuesday's patch notes told us
essentially. Since this is a release candidate build of the patch as was the prior one, there were no major changes and you can expect the patch soon; hopefully it will be out by the end of the month or in the first weeks of May.
There is also a new item, probably from the fishing dailies: . It can be opened and is blue quality.
Notable changes include:
now heals for 20% instead of 15% (this is a tooltip fix)
damage doubled (for cats only!)
had its effect on the GCD halved
Hit the jump to read these in full.
Continue Reading »
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PTR Patch 4.1 Notes Updated (4/12)
2011/04/13 at 2:28 AM
The PTR Patch 4.1 notes were updated this evening to reflect the spell changes seen earlier today.
Notable changes include:
All guild achievements had their requirements significantly reduced.
's damage has been doubled.
Several changes for
received a buff last PTR patch and that's now been reverted.
's damage has been doubled.
is no longer on the global cooldown.
again applies 15/30/45% additional damage to Plague, Scourge, and Festering Strike, up from 12/24/36%.
: The damage bonus from this talent now has a 30-second duration, up from 10.
cooldown has been increased to 25 seconds, up from 15.
healing done by Restoration shaman has been reduced by 20%.
has been improved to 6/12/18% bonus direct healing on Earth Shielded targets, up from 5/10/15%.
Glyph of Grounding Totem
now increases the cooldown of the ability by 35 seconds, down from 45 seconds.
now reduces the global cooldown on Hamstring by
0.25/0.5 seconds in addition to its current effects
Dungeons & Raids
Players will now get bonus rewards 7 times per week (while earning less than 980 Valor Points) instead of once a day when using Dungeon Finder.
When there is only 1 player left in a Dungeon Finder group, they will now be able to queue for replacements as long as they queue within 2 minutes or stay in the dungeon.
Once the dungeon is completed the eligible player will receive a (account bound) with various potential rewards including: gold, rare gems, non-combat pets, and (very rare) mounts.
The criteria on many of the profession-related guild achievements has been significantly reduced.
The caster shaman 4-piece PvP set bonus now reduces the cooldown of
by 3 seconds, up from 1.5.
Added a network category to the new Options screen and included the two network checkboxes.
The Network category contains the options "Optimize network for speed" and "Enable IPv6 when available". "Optimize network for speed" will be enabled by default, and will send packets more frequently at the cost of higher bandwidth. The higher bandwidth may lead to disconnects for some players who have limited bandwidth. Players getting disconnected frequently should try unchecking this box.
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