The MMO Separation of Church and State

It’s been awhile, loyal readers. Yes, I know I’ve been away from awhile and even though some may not care, I am here. I will allow you a moment to shuffle towards your nearest box of tissues to clean up the mess your mayonnaise blaster just shot off.

Ready now? Good.

With that embarrassing mishap behind us, let me indulge with you a story of days past. Yes, the story will again involve MMORPGs as the major focus point but do not worry; I will stray from this tired path in the future.

Years ago, back in 2006 when some of our readers were still teething and dropping goat pebbles in their diapers, there was an archaic game known as World of Warcraft. I’m not sure if many of you have heard of it. The game is incredibly underground with a miniscule population.

In those golden days, PvP wasn’t about fighting another player for hours. It wasn’t about outlasting foes. It was like how PvP was in almost every other game in existence, including FPS. Fights were quick and fast paced. It wasn’t about every player being Batman and trying to pull off as much bullshit as possible. It was about an Enhancement Shaman with Windfury WTF raping their way to victory. It was about the Mage hiding in the back charging up a Pyroblast combo. It was about a rogue hiding and doing what rogues do best, assassinate.

For some reason or another, they decided that fights shouldn’t be so quick and involve such a maelstrom of destruction. Thus, resilence was born; a stat aside from PvE defenses where player damage could be mitigated. What were the reasons for this? Was it the ocean of tears from people that were getting taken out by one person? Could it have been the advantages a raid gear character had against hardcore PvPers? Was it so that Arenas weren’t filled with full DPS team ready to leave craters in the wake of their wrath?

All of those reasons are sound and legit. The one that I felt holds the most truth is the fact that raid geared PvE’ers were capable of casually going to PvP and whirlwinding their way to victory. It is for this reason alone that I believe there was a separation between PvE and PvP.

What is the purpose of this division? Why is that PvP’ers and PvE’ers must separate from one another? Why couldn’t there be one stat system that to keep things united?

I understand that PvE’ers are able to acquire gear through a lot of coordination and time and I also understand that PvP matches tend be much shorter than a raid encounter. It wouldn’t be just in rewarding them with equal gear as that would anger the carebear community.

Resilence only seemed to make sense for Arenas since you generally wanted to last longer in that kind of scenario and it is because of that where I believe Arena gear is the only stat difference that should be available. Mass PvP shouldn’t have this kind of separation.

Raiders can still raid to get their gear but there could’ve been a more inventive way to reward PvP players. Battlegrounds could have been divided by tiers of difficulty and/or objectives rather than how they are now. The first tier battleground could be the PvP mirror of a heroic where during the battle, mediocre gear drops off of fallen enemy players and whenever a tower was taken down or whichever of the multiple objectives in that match is achieved, a loot roll comes up for players with random loot and of course whenever each objective is completed they are rewarded tokens to use as currency to purchase gear as well. Essentially, it the same mechanic as a heroic instead it is applied to a PvP scenario.

The next tier could have a much more difficult objective to complete which would take a bit more coordination on the player’s part and so on. This style of loot progression would allow both PvE and PvP gear to be interchangeable. How come dungeons with new mechanics and situations are constantly added but battlegrounds have remained the same?

What’s sad about this situation is that since World of Warcraft is the staple of a success in the MMO genre, every game is coinciding with this stat system in their games even when it doesn’t make sense. Resilence always appeared to be an arena stat but was quickly pushed into every PvP scenario. Now games like DCUO have toughness instead of defense and Rift has whatever the hell they use. I think it’s toughness versus defense as well but I don’t give a shit. Games where these mechanics are applied don’t even make sense yet they seem to be adopting the format regardless. It causes the PvP experience to force someone in the PvE realm to start from the beginning again and vice versa.

Don’t these companies think player’s have already enough of this whole “starting over” situation every time a new expansion comes out and they have to grind new factions and gear? This shit isn’t needed. Stop pitting people into these situations and allow PvP and PvE to be interchangeable and not some form of morbid segregation.

That’s end of that rant but…

A quick note to other MMORPG companies out there,

Stop copying World of Warcraft and start being creative. This genre is becoming like the FPS genre where 90% of the games out there want to be Call of Duty and all we get are the same fucking things over and over again. Stop sticking to this format and start getting a creative team together. One day, Blizzard is going to become like Apple and sue you for copying their shit over and over again.

And before one of you asshole readers say, “WoW isn’t original. It copied EQ, and EQ copied UO, and UO copied Meridian, and Meridian copied—“ Just shut the fuck up. I don’t give a fuck who copied who. Each of those games was vastly different from one another and even the mechanics that were taken from either of those games have evolved from each generation and iteration. Fuck!

Cataclysm: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Logo

Without a doubt, Cataclysm was another home run hit for the power gaming company Blizzard.  Selling a stunning 3.3 million copies (including pre-sales) on the first day and 4.7 million by the end of the first month (including pre-sales) was not as shocking as some seemed to say it was.  The most popular and played MMORPG of all time is going to have extremely high sales figures especially since Blizzard added in pre-sale digital downloads for the first time ever.  The apparent controversy surrounding these numbers is unwarranted.  Pre-sales are part of any game release and Blizzard is fully entitled to count them towards first day sales in my opinion.  And let’s be honest, does it matter? No, over 5 million people have already purchased Cataclysm and that number is sure to grow.  A better question would be, Will Cataclysm peak over 12 million subscriptions like its predecessors? or has the game peaked overall? and how long until it fades into gaming oblivion?  Sorry, that won’t be covered in this article but expect me to tackle the topic in the future.

The Good.

As you know, Blizzard has been catering to the casual gamer more and more.  Why? Simple, money.  Blizzard does not want to lose clients because they feel the game is too hard or too time consuming.  Just go to through the account cancellation process and you will see many different prompts that seem to ask why you are quitting and many are tailored towards the casual gamer.  Now, I know we are in “The Good” category but let me say that this “casual” policy has both positive and negative effects on the game and it’s players as I will discuss throughout the whole article.

Blizzard wanted to make raiding simpler and thus they have designed everything so that you don’t need a full 25 man raid to compete.  You can gather 9 friends and compete on an equal plain with everyone else in the world.  I personally love this move because it allows you to play with more of your close friends if you so choose.  This reduces the amount of pugs you have to get and usually reduces the severity of the headache you will suffer during a failing raid.  Of course, Blizzard is not naive and to appease the more hardcore gamers, they designed it so you get more loot proportionate to your raid size in 25mans compared to 10mans.  Even though that feels like a “lame” fix, it was probably the best Blizzard could do considering they put 10 and 25 mans on the same pedestal.  Either way, the casual gamers rejoiced in this change and overall, it has had a positive impact.  As for the “pride”  factor between major guilds competing at the top level for world firsts, 25mans still seem to be the cream of the crop but even the best of the best have been switching to 10mans for certain encounters!  All the major content has been completed and here is how it played out among the world’s elite.

Top 10 PvE WoW Guilds

Leveling is finally enjoyable!  You heard me right.  I for one am not a fan of leveling and never have been especially in World of Warcraft but the leveling redesign has even changed my mind.  Don’t get me wrong,  I am not going out and leveling alts for the hell of it but I am also not dreading the boring, monotonous grind that was leveling.  The overhaul to the zones and quests has streamlined the process.  Moreover, the changes to spells have given you diversity at the lower levels.  I did not enjoy spamming just one or two buttons to level as it felt like I could fall asleep while doing it.  Now, it feels like I can actually take some pleasure in leveling.  While this was something that wasn’t necessary to change, it was a very positive overhaul.  Of course, you could say that the change was specifically designed to help the casual gamer level easier, faster and with more joy!  Blizzard is sneakier than you might imagine.

Finally, let us talk about the servers.  They were great.  Illidan, one of the most popular WoW servers, where I leveled to 85 was completely stable.  No major lag spikes, no crashes and no downtime.  Moreover, the servers came up on time.  Blizzard wanted to ensure that Cataclysm was launched without a hitch and they nailed it home.  As for server queues, they were terrible early on but everyone expected that so I don’t need to harp on it very much.

The Bad.

With great power comes great responsibility.  Oh wait, this isn’t Spiderman, its WoW: Cataclysm.  How about…With great homogenization, comes great laziness.  I am definitely not one to favor the complete homogenization of classes that seems to be happening with more and more frequency.  While I like the idea that buffs are being spread around to more classes on paper, I hate it in reality.  I know Blizzard would like 5man and 10man dungeons and raids to have a majority of the game buffs but I think that is a bad idea.  One of the inevitable drawbacks of having less people in a group or raid is the reduction of potential buffs.  Thus, players need to design their groups accordingly.  At the rate Blizzard is going, in two expansions, my 10man is just going to be 10 paladins with every buff in the game dominating every encounter.  Yes, I am laying it on a little thick but it is for good reason.  Let us look at some of the homogenization we have seen with Cataclysm.

First, buffs are being spread around to more classes.  Second,  bloodlust/heroism is now usable by three classes.  Honestly, having bloodlust/heroism on just one class was probably not the greatest idea but I don’t think that bloodlust/heroism is a well-designed mechanic anyway.  I know that it is a great part of Warcraft lore but I think it could have been implemented differently because it has been insanely powerful since it went live.  On a good note, Blizzard did finally decide to remove it from arenas.  Third, it seems that every melee has a spammable interrupt.  Why do I dislike this?  Mainly because the classes that didn’t have them before didn’t have them for a reason and now that they do, they seem overly useful in both PvE and PvP.  Either way, I think that Blizzard could use some of that infinite pool of money they have to diversify the game more instead of homogenize it.  Once again, it all comes back to the positive and negative effects of the “casual” gamer syndrome.

For me, five man dungeons and heroics on my main were extremely simple.  I almost always ran with a pre-made 5man so we just queued up and destroyed whatever we got.  However, this was not the case for many people, especially those trying to gear alts.  First, if you are not a tank or a healer, have fun waiting in a 30minute queue to do one heroic.  Second, if you are a tank or a healer, make sure you abuse the system by selling queue pops all day in trade chat.  While this is now fixed, it was way too late.  Third, how is it that if you solo queue you always seem to get the absolute worst players in the world in your group?  Not only do they have gear that is terrible but they have no idea how to do any of the fights.  I can’t really blame Blizzard on that one but I sure can vent some minor frustration.  Overall, I like the simplicity in the fact that you can just queue from anywhere in the world at anytime, but if you are running solo, there is a strong change that you will just be wasting an hour of your time.

World of Warcraft Dungeon Queue Time

I will keep my dislike of the PvP situation short as I plan on doing a full write-up of it in the near future but it has to be mentioned briefly.  I don’t know if I would say that arenas have hit a low point because I thought they were pretty bad when you could kill someone inside of one GCD in WotLK but they are not prospering by any means.  Of course, you will always have people complaining that their class is too underpowered but when top players are re-rolling because they just know their class it too weak to compete at the top level, then something is probably wrong.  For the first time ever, mages seem to be underpowered unless you like jumping around spamming ice lance all day!  Maybe underpowered isn’t the write word, but they do seem to have a nice big target on their back.  Melee teams seem to run a train on them all day and since all the healers have dispel and frost armor is not nearly as useful as it was, they appear to be in a dire situation.

While I think they might deserve it considering how strong they have been in the past, their situation just highlights the fact that with Blizzard’s homogenized design is leading to negative impacts in PvP.  Now, I don’t think Blizzard cares much about the PvP scene anyway but that doesn’t mean that it should be the way it is now.  I personally think that HP is actually too high in many cases but it may be a result of the new completely underpowered healing debuffs.  I always thought 50% healing reduction was too much but with classes having this much HP, I think 10% is too low.  Blizzard really needs to overhaul the whole PvP system if they ever want to truly fix it.  HPS and self-healing (DK, Ret Pally, etc) are also way to high for my taste.  Anyway, more on this in a future article.  For now, just know that PvP, specifically arenas appear to be in a not so good state.

The Ugly.

I am still not a fan of the games graphics even after this overhaul.  While I know that the original game platform is getting older, it doesn’t change my opinion.  I don’t think the graphics are bad enough to hurt anything in the game but I don’t find them particularly breath taking either.  Will Blizzard create a completely new engine for their cash cow?  Unlikely but they could if they really wanted to.  However, it is more likely that instead of creating a new engine for WoW, they would just put a new project together to start design WoW 2 (if they haven’t already).

Looks like the same game to me.

It also feels like the identity of some of the old servers has been lost.  With all the new players coming in over the years and all the transfers, something about the old nostalgia seems to have faded.  While this is not a result of Cataclysm, I feel that is something that can be mentioned in this section.  If you played vanilla and are still playing today, you probably know what I mean.  It was nice early on when you thought you knew a lot of people and possibly had some clout on the server but now, the game seems to be moving at a pace that removes this.  The best way to put it is to say that the identity of the servers seem to have faded into a blur of inconsequence.

Finally, I will end on another topic that Blizzard has no control over.  The Elitist Jerks (EJ) forums also have a negative impact on the game, specifically, on new players.  When you are in a pug or just see “go to EJ” spammed in trade chat when someone asks a question, you have to get annoyed.  Instead of actually learning something in the game or asking someone who might know, you are directed to a website that tells you how to play and spec your class.  So much for the subtleties that you notice after playing your main for a long time.  So much for actually learning a class and enjoying that process.   Long gone are the days where there was some mystery or secrecy to playing WoW.  To clarify, EJ can work wonders for those who have been playing the game for a long time and understand it’s nuances.  However, if you are new to the game or a class, you skip the basic learning process and just learn the “perfect rotation” instead.  Who cares that you died in fire or didn’t shield or didn’t misdirect or didn’t do 1 of 100 different things that are more useful than just spamming damage.  The sad fact is, WoW has turned into a numbers games on many levels and I understand why it has, but that doesn’t mean I like it.

Conclusion

Cataclysm is fun at first but the sheen of a new game is quickly replaced by the same old car smell from before.  What made WoW good in the past is the same that makes WoW good now.  The social atmosphere and friends you make along the way still entrap players.  For many people, the time you log in game is controlled by the social structures: when you do your dailies, when you are raiding, etc.  The bonds of friendship people form which result in teams and guilds being formed push the never ending cycle that is a beast  of game known as World of Warcraft.  If you enjoyed the repetitive cycle that WoW presented in past whether it be through raiding, PvP or any one of the other things Blizzard created, then you will surely find joy in Cataclysm and play it as you had played all the other WoW expansions in the past.  However, if you were looking for something brand new that would make your eyes pop and your pearly white teeth show,  then unfortunately, you will have to keep looking as Cataclysm is simply a new name, not a new face.

MMO’s Coming Out In 2011 Are Already Behind The Curve

2011 sure seemed like a year that would be promising us some exciting upcoming titles in the MMORPG world. With Star Wars: The Old Republic, Rifts of Telara, and DC Universe Online it appeared at first glance that there finally would be some promising games out there which fought back against the monster known as World of Warcraft. I, for one, was in this crowd of believers looking forward to something fresh and a chance to move onto to greener fields.

Rift MMO plant
Rift MMO plant

Unfortunately, from my time playing the beta for some of these games and then also playing World of Warcraft’s latest expansion Cataclysm, I have to say that World of Warcraft has trumped the genre yet again.

But Umar, how can you say that? Those games are in beta and things always change!

Yeah, okay. People said that about Final Fantasy XIV, Age Of Conan, Warhammer Online, and Champions Online. Where are they now? Age of Conan is struggling to show some respectable numbers while being considered another tally of fuck ups by Funcom, discussions about putting FFXIV on a free to play model are on the table with Square-Enix already boasting a whopping 2 million active characters (look closely at the bolded word), Mythic is essentially dissolving with employee blogs ranting about the horribly typical EA experience they are suffering from (WAR really needs a F2P model if it’s going to stand up ever again), and Champions is already on a F2P market and is shitting bricks from the upcoming DC title.

Beta did not change those games. They have remained garbage and will never be something worth a purchase.

It’s time to take off those rosy glasses of hope and look at reality for a minute. Nothing has come to close to taking a slice of this market no matter how much you whine.
For the longest time, you’d hear me complaining about World of Warcraft and its flaws and its lack of this and that, but those were the days of Burning Crusade. The game has progressed leaps and bounds from release. I honestly have no qualms about it. What were the typical issues people had with WoW?
It’s too easy, Umar!

Okay, you nerdy Sephiroth cosplaying queer. Have you played Cataclysm? A PUG can barely clear a heroic now if most of the people you group with have downs. Oh, and don’t say “The WoW community is filled with bad players.” That’s easy to say. Most people I know that say that and then either play WoW or another MMO with me are usually just as bad as any other idiot I could PUG with.

WoW’s graphics are out of date!

Yeah, they are but it works with their art style. You need things to look pretty to have fun? Plants VS Zombies wasn’t enjoyable? Mario Kart isn’t fun? Let’s go play something pretty like Final Fantasy XIV. I’m sure that’ll be a great experience. Or let’s play Age of Conan where even the most high end computers at the time were struggling to display some of the graphics. Graphics shouldn’t be on the top of your list for playability as opposed to the actual style of the game.

I think you’re stupid and gay, Umar! Star Wars is going to be awesome!

Thanks, asshole. Enjoy Star Wars then. I’m not telling people to not play it as much as I’m saying that future upcoming MMORPGs are already behind what Cataclysm has presented. Star Wars will have what? Epic dialogue and a story? That is fantastic. Cataclysm already makes your character feel like they were part of a story, maybe not on the scale of Star Wars with all the cinematics, camera angles, and voice acting, but they did make your character more involved in the storyline.

Bioware already claimed that they won’t have much endgame and that they encourage people to roll alts to see the story from a different perspective. This is a “Choose your destiny” book in virtual form. All you’re getting is a story and not many innovative mechanics. They barely ever talk about actual gameplay and mechanics as much as they talk about the story portion of the game and the classes. “Hey guys we’ve got spaceships and Jedi! Cool shit, huh?” This is a niche game and once your story is over that’s it. Bioware isn’t known for making difficult games that require strategy and skill. Putting Mass Effect 2 on harder difficulties just meant you took more damage. Wowzers!

Rifts of Telara has already thrown in the towel by conceding the fact their game is more like Vanilla WoW than WoW in its current state. Vanilla WoW was one of the most raw and broken starts to an MMO. Gamers today are crying for innovation and polish. Not a throwback to olden times. Rifts is going to be what Vanguard was to Everquest 1. An old school reincarnation that will fall flat in the present.

The only game I think that can even grab a slice of the MMO market is DCUO. I’m not talking about a game that will take subs from World of Warcraft but a game that can fill that super hero niche that Champions failed to quench. City of Heroes is already too old school and bland even with all their amazing patches. DCUO has that opportunity to grab the market from those games and even pull in more people who cream to “Smallville” and “The Dark Knight”. It isn’t competing against the elephant in the room but against the carrion dogs roaming about.

If you don’t agree with me, that’s fine. You can think what you want and I can still think you’re a bag of dicks. What am I saying is going to come to true because my word is not only correct but absolute. These MMOs will fall flat with the exception of DCUO if Sony actually markets a game this time. Time will allow you to see the truth and your bottled-up, unbridled nerd pride will nourish me when you fail to accept my prophecy.

Ask Kayhynn: Week 2, A Bit Late, But Not Short

World of Warcraft Cataclysm Developers Talk
World of Warcraft Cataclysm Developers Talk

Seeing as World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was released Dec. 7 and most readers and question submitters know I’m a WoW player, I received a number of WoW: Cataclysm related questions which I decided to put together for this week’s Q&A. Questions answered include what were major changes to the game, what do I love/hate about the game, new character experience and more.

Article Source: http://www.eogamer.com/node/189

Ranting Saturday: Underwater Quests. Why?

phinny
phinny

It has come to my attention that developers seem to find sending my character underwater as something fun and innovative. MMORPG’s have always had underwater minions and some even had underwater dungeons (Kedge Keep in EQ) but never did much to improve the enjoyability of an aquatic adventure aside from adding spells that allow you breathe infinitely while submerged. For some sick reason, MMO’s strive to have at least one underwater level and riddle your adventure with random underwater quests.

Why?

Why the fuck would you WANT to send me underwater? What is in that NPC’s mind where he found it absolutely acceptable to ask a completely random stranger to swim to the bottom of a fucking lake to kill some monsters. I don’t want to kill Murlocs unless they’re on the fucking coastline. I don’t want to navigate at a 50% movement reduction speed through the lost ruins of some ancient tribe. I don’t care about Atlantis. If I did, I wouldn’t be playing video games. I’d be a goddamn Mythbuster.

It adds a certain degree of whimsical wonder to the game!

My ass it does! I don’t see Willy Wonka’s factory underwater. What is whimsical about aqua goblins aside from the fact they fucking root you underwater and make you shit bricks are forced to narrowly avoid drowning.

Doesn’t the lack of air and danger make it more exciting?

No, it doesn’t. In fact, I spend most of my time bobbing my head in and out of the water’s surface just to make sure my character is breathing. Then, I hover over the quest mob and swim down, slap them around, collect my item, and swim back to the top. Who the hell remains underwater without a buff? No one, that’s who!

I think you’re being completely unfair.

I think you’re being a complete cunt! This isn’t Echo the Fucking Dolphin Online. I don’t want to go underwater unless it leads to a cave with fucking air in it. I’m not looking to kill sharks. Don’t the NPC’s have a Navy? Let them deal with it or give me a boat to go spear hunting with a bucket of chum. Don’t send me in there with my heavy ass armor and a sword to fight a shark! What are they thinking? “Oh hey, here’s a scuba mask. I’m sure this is sufficient to fight a shark. Go get em, tiger!”

Guys, please! Stop making me go underwater! It’s not just that it’s a horrid change of pace but I’m terrified of the water. I don’t like it and I never will. And because I specifically don’t like it, it means no one else should either. So please, please! Get rid of these quests. Stop sending me underwater. Stop making me collect kelp. It isn’t worth the danger!

Games to Buy: Dec 7th 2010

game store
game store

So you survived Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday and somehow you still have a few bucks in your wallet, well good thing this week there are only about three games that make our worthy buy list.

First a little change in the Games to buy format. We will now intertwine both PC and Console games into one which means that when we have a week that has a ton of games for both it will be a harsher cut for the ones we think are worth buying. Remember this is an opinion piece and for the most part we leave sports games out of it because we know you sports fans are going to pick up the latest edition.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm

There is tons of information on this game and honestly if you are a World of Warcraft player you are getting this game case closed. The overall story is an ancient evil dragon called Deathwing laid a path of destruction that reshaped the world. What this means for gamers is the old world has changes so the land that you leveled up playing has changed forever. There are a ton of changes to how the character classes work, two new playable races and a ton of new dungeons and loot. Blizzard also have made changes to make gameplay quicker for those of us with little time.

Buy Worthiness: $$$$$

Tron: Evolution

Disney has pulled out all the stops in the sequel to the cult classic Tron and the same has been done with the game. Although some critics have given it a less than likeable score the game does look well put together. You have a mix of the classic Tron including the light cycle races and the action adventure levels where you chase down viruses in the virtual world running and jumping through the visually stunning city. There is also a multiplayer aspect that allows you to compete against up to ten other players. You can play Tron Evolution online or offline.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

Bejeweled 3

Perhaps there isn’t much one can say about a new puzzle game, but the fact is Popcap had and still has a winner with this game. Bejeweled can be found on pretty much anything from the PC to your phone and everywhere in-between. Now you have a brand new game that keeps to the classic gameplay but added cool additions including a 40 mission quest mode that has 11 mini games. There have also been updates to the four game modes found in Bejeweled 2. Finally you get new backgrounds a tweak in the music department an even clearer visuals. All in all if you love puzzle games this is worth a buy at only $20.

Buy Worthiness: $$$

NewU Fitness First Mind Body

So you stumbled upon a Karma Sutra book and convinced your girlfriend to give some of the new positions a try. Unfortunately, both you and she are out of shape and could not even do the beginner positions. I guess it’s back to missionary for you, well maybe not.

Thanks to the Wii, brining you wastes of time since 2006, you can now Yoga your way to the backwards sun pretzel position in just a few short weeks. This hot new program will teach you how to get your mind and body in sync preparing you for long nights of passion. Keggle’s add-on pack not included.

Buy Worthiness:  X

Free to Play. If You’re Going to Fail, Get Better At Failing.

Everquest 2 F2P lol
Everquest 2 F2P lol

For the past six years, MMORPGs have been failing. Be it because the companies believe releasing beta quality games, far-fetched mechanics, or releasing a game that has the savory indulgence of a stale piece of bread, the genre has seen some gloomy days. World of Warcraft has created a boom for many money hungry companies and jaded developers that think releasing a game in this genre will garner them fame and money. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been the case and nothing has been able to compete at the level that Blizzard is currently at.

Let’s face it. Very few MMORPGs have had amazing launches and it is because of this lack luster grand opening that a lot of people just get turned away. How can these companies salvage their investment? How can they bring in money to a sinking ship? How can they increase their gaming audience?

The answer lies to the Far East. It is in this land of Zerg obsessed gamers and mob-grinding gurus that holds the key to America’s salvation in the MMO Market. Asia has been using a model known to many as Free to Play for a very long time. Players are allowed to download the game from a website and jump right in. Sure, there are some restrictions that hold them back from unlocking the full potential of the game but it is a better option than a 14 day free trial.

“But Umar”, you may find yourself pondering, “I know Asia is known for crazy people but this sounds insane! How do the Crazians make their money?!”

Very simple, Little Billy. Crazian MMO Developers make their money from an in-game market place where players can unlock classes, races, potions, cosmetics, and content for real life money. While not every player’s going to feed cash to companies for a game they play for free, they do garner in more money than $15 a month. Some players are so into power gaming and/or cosmetics that they’ll easily throw down more than $15 a month in purchases via this market place without even thinking it through.

Why adopt this model though? The answer is simply because it seems to actually work.

Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online was far from being considered a true MMORPG by many of today’s standards and it was on the brink of extinction. However, unlike the dodo bird, DnD Online was not ready to leave this world. In one last hurrah, it released a Free to Play model and quickly flourished. The game’s income reportedly jumped by double and it felt a chance to thrive. Life began to ebb back into this would be abortion and deliver it salvation.

To follow suit, many MMORPGs began to jump onto the bandwagon. Lord of the Rings Online, while not a failure by many aspects, saw a chance to increase its player base with this new subscription model. It held back many features to free players but the market place allowed them to expand further into the world.

Around the same time LOTRO adopted the model, Everquest 2 wet its feet in the F2P world with Everquest 2 Extended, which included 8 classes, 4 races, 80 levels, and 5 expansions for free.

Now, companies like Cryptic, probably persuaded by Atari, are hitting the F2P model to save their abortion known as Champions Online and also the acclaimed Star Trek Online. Some may know my dislike for Cryptic in general and I don’t want to bore anyone with my vendetta but these games were Free to Play quality on release and never should have been Pay to Play, but I digress. They are now hitting the high road and going F2P.

Those seem to be some of the bigger MMOs released in the past couple of years that really need this chance to boost their communities. One MMO that I am waiting to take the dive into this model is Warhammer Online. The game has been a downward spiral since release and while I doubt EA even cares about the game still (they have been systematically dismembering Mythic) a F2P model for WAR might be able to save it from its dying breath.

Sadly, though, some MMORPGs that haven’t even had a year to fix their abominations are already looking to hit the F2P market as well. Yes, I’m talking about Final Fantasy XIV. It has been reported that they are currently seeking a chance to hit into this model to save their plummeting shares and overall consumer backlash.

I know a lot of people have mixed feelings about this model and some find it “greedy” that companies are willing to push out virtual stores but I don’t find a problem with this at all. Most of these games offer a chance to unlock the full game for the standard $15 a month and no one is forcing you to purchase anything from the marketplace to begin with. Most of the items these games offer aren’t game changing and aren’t required to excel in the game so there is no reason for some of the criticism. However, regardless of whether it is a good model or not there will always be people who will complain.

The Free to Play opportunity that has raged through the past two years seems to be giving players many chances to see more of what is out there than WoW. While it is good for companies to regain their money and enlarge their player base, it also gives players a chance to expand their horizons onto what is out there without feeling guilty for dropping 40-50 dollars on a game that could be releasing in beta quality.

How do you feel about the Free to Play model many MMORPG’s seem to be taking? Would you like to see future games continuing with this setup and if not, why?

How to Play Alterac Valley

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley dunbaldar
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley dunbaldar

This is a little dated, but I hope you will like it anyway

First thing you need to know is if you are Alliance Alterac Valley or A.V. is for you. The reason is Alliance are very good at the art of zerging and running away both which are valuable in A.V. There are also reports of imbalance with the map, but come on that’s just crazy talk.

Step one: Make sure you aren’t level 80.

 

World of Warcraft Mascott
World of Warcraft Mascott

Going into A.V. at level 80 is like going to an all-you-can-eat sushi joint on a full stomach, you just don’t do it. With the changes to A.V. now giving you experience points, this is a prime leveling area for your twink.

Pro-tip: You can get up to 20k per tower cap!

Step two: Watch everyone rush off.

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

I use to love sitting in my warm cozy apartment in Chicago on a cold winters morning watching all the fools go to work or school. You can relive that feeling in W.O.W. Hop on your trusty steed and watch as all your comrades’ rush off to fight knowing you will be comfortable sitting far away from the battle.

Step three: Find something to do.

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

You are not an A.F.K’er, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even people on welfare who pump out babies contribute to society. They give us Jerry Springer shows and people to laugh at on the nightly news.

A pro A.V.’er knows there are things to do if you are not on the front lines; one such thing is going to cap your mine.

Now granted you might get your ass kicked by the mobs since you are such a low level, but hey that’s why the Blizzard Gods made resurrection points, am I right? Even if you do die it’s fine because you are giving back for all the experience you will be gaining.

Pro-tip: You can do the supply quest while you’re in here!

 

 

Step four: Keep an eye out.

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

Just like that old bag who gives you the stink eye every time you go outside your house, a good lookout can be useful, but mostly it’s just you killing time. From here you can wait and collect your experience points and wait for the horde to show up.

Or you can do….

Alternate Step four: Go laugh at Galvangar

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

Stupid shirtless bastard, I couldn’t fight him in my lower levels because his whirlwind would one shot me. Now, I still don’t fight him, but after he is dead I like to go laugh at him and you should too.

Pro-tip: Watch out for horde who like to camp in his room to one-shot laughers

Step 5: See what you could have been doing

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

Sometimes I like to go downtown and stare up at one of those big towers and dream of what I could have been if I didn’t become a loser. While you are at Galv’s lair check out Iceblood Tower. Your alliance friends may be guarding it or maybe horde has taken it back already. In the end it does not matter you job isn’t to fight, cap or defend, it is to level.

Step 6: Learn the hard way

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

Work is hard and here is some proof. If you are feeling guilty for milking experience go on up a tower and see how it feels to be one of the worker bees. Let me tell you, it hurts like a some-of-a-bitch! See what happened to me? Someone knocked me over the head and I woke up with a cow humping me. Never again!

Step 7: Say hi to the A.F.K guy

 

World of Warcraft Alterac Valley
World of Warcraft Alterac Valley

The difference between a thief and a scammer is technique. See, we experience lechers at least stay on our PC’s. So go into the alliance starting cave and wave at all the A.F.K’ers and report them while there. If it wasn’t for them you would finish you’re A.V’s faster.

Broken I win button

Win or lose you will gain experience and maybe even see a horde or two. Soon you will be 80 with a full set of welfare epics and will be ready for some real B.G.’s. Until then just follow this guild and you will be a pro in no time.

World of Warcraft Client Patch 4.0.1

World of Warcraft patch notes
World of Warcraft patch notes

Gotta love patch day!

The latest test realm patch notes can always be found at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/patchnotes/test-realm-patchnotes.html

The latest patch notes can always be found at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/patchnotes/

Cataclysm Systems Patch

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will be in stores on December 7, 2010 and the time has come to prep for the official launch by implementing its first major patch. Players can experience many major game and user interface systems updates in the first official patch for the upcoming third expansion, patch 4.0.1.

General

  • Cataclysm Launcher Update
    • The new Cataclysm Launcher allows you to stream game data while you play. This will reduce the time you spend downloading, installing, and patching World of Warcraft. We’d like to get your feedback on the toolset and gameplay experience. Please head to the forums here for additional information.
  • Reforging
    • Players can now visit special Reforging NPCs in capital cities located near Enchanting trainers. 40% of any one secondary stat on an item can be allocated to add a new secondary stat to the item. The stat being added cannot already exist on the item. An item cannot have more than one reforged stat at a time, though the Reforging of an item can be undone and changed.

Dungeons & Raids

  • Flexible Raid Lock System
    • Icecrown Citadel and Ruby Sanctum now use the new Flexible Raid Lock system. This system provides the opportunity for a character to defeat each raid zone’s encounters once a week. A character may now complete the encounters during the week with different raids of either 10 or 25 players.
    • Learn more about this feature by visiting our official forums here.
  • Icecrown Citadel
    • The Chill of the Throne effect has been removed.

Currency

  • PvE Currency Changes
    • All Emblems of Frost and Emblems of Triumph have been converted to new Justice Points.
    • Any dungeon or raid which awarded these emblems will reward Justice Points instead. Anything below Emblems of Triumph, including badges from The Burning Crusade dungeon and raid content, have been converted into gold and sent to players via the in-game mail system.
    • Any bosses players defeat that are level-appropriate to them award Justice Points.
    • All items that previously cost emblems or badges of any type now cost Justice Points.
    • Higher-tier Valor Points will be awarded to players who kill dungeon and raid bosses in the latest tier of PvE content after the launch of Cataclysm.
  • PvP Currency Changes
    • All Arena Points, Honor Points, Battleground Marks of Honor, Stone Keeper’s Shards, Venture Coins, and Spirit Shards have been converted into new Honor Points.
    • Honor Points will be awarded instead of these currencies, with the exception of Arena Points.
    • Higher-tier Conquest Points will be awarded to players competing in each of the latest Arena or Rated Battleground seasons after the launch of Cataclysm.
  • For more information on the changes to the currencies and conversion rates for each type, please visit ourCataclysm forum.

Classes: General

  • Many class talents, spells, and abilities have been overhauled, added, or removed.
  • All spell and ability tooltips will now display damage averages rather than minimum and maximum damage potential. This feature is on by default but can be changed via the Display settings under User Interface options.
  • Ammo has been removed from the game.
  • The character levels at which classes gain new spells and abilities have changed.
  • Many item and class stats have been changed or removed.
  • Mastery rating has been added as a new stat which provides unique benefits for characters based on class and talent specialization. Mastery rating does not currently exist on items in the game, however, Reforging can be used to add Mastery rating as a secondary stat to existing items.
  • Rage has been normalized.
  • Spells and abilities no longer have multiple ranks and now scale with character level.
  • Talent trees have been altered. All player talent specializations have been reset, allowing for free re-specialization.
    • Each specialization has been reduced to a 31-point talent tree.
    • Players will now get a total of 41 talent points to spend.
    • Players will be asked to choose a specialization at level 10. Doing so will result in the unlocking of a spell or ability unique to that specialization, as well as one or more passive bonuses.
    • Once a talent specialization has been chosen, players may only place points in the primary tree until at least 31 points have been spent there.
    • The initial announcement regarding these talent tree changes can be found on our Cataclysm forum.

Death Knights

  • A dedicated tanking tree (Blood) has been implemented.
  • The effects of Blood Presence and Frost Presence have been exchanged.
  • The way in which runes recharge has changed.

Druids

  • A new Eclipse mechanic has been added for druids.

Hunters

  • Five pets can now be stored with the hunter at all times. Any one of these five pets can be summoned via the Call Pet ability.
  • Focus has replaced mana as a new resource.
  • Hunters now start with a pet at level 1.
  • The Stable will now store 20 pets. If a pet is moved into the Stable, its talents are wiped.

Mages

  • There is now a new spell fly-out UI feature for mage portals. Clicking on the Teleport or Portal buttons will expand the list of choices available.

Paladins

  • Paladins now have a new resource bar.

Warlocks

  • There is now a new spell fly-out UI feature for warlock pets. Clicking on this single button will open up the list of available pets to summon.
  • Soul Shards have been removed from the game as items. Instead, they now exist as a resource system necessary for using, or altering the mechanics of certain spells.

Items

  • Resilience no longer reduces the chance a player will be critically hit by an opponent.
  • Durability: cloth, leather, and mail now have as many points of durability as plate, making the repair cost on death much closer to equal for all classes.

Professions

  • The glyph system has been updated to now feature three different types of glyphs. Many class glyphs have been added, altered, or moved to different glyph types.

User Interface

  • Spell Alerts have been added to notify players when procs on select spells and abilities occur. A visual notification will display around the character and the activated ability will be highlighted on the action bar.
  • The Guild Interface has been redesigned to incorporate additional functionality, including new sorting and organizational options.
  • The Arena Teams pane has been improved.
  • The Character pane has been redesigned. Character stats can now be shown or hidden via the Show All Details/Hide All Details button on the bottom left. When shown, all character stats will be visible in a window to the right of the pane. Stat sections can be reorganized by clicking and dragging them up or down the pane.
  • The Professions panes now have more filtering and search functionality, as well as buttons to easily link recipes in the chat frame.
  • A Professions screen has been added to the Spellbook to better display the details of a character’s primary and secondary professions.
  • Many of the yellow System Messages that would display in the chat frame when leveling up have been removed.
  • New text animations now alert players as they level up, also providing information on when new talents, spells and abilities are available.
  • Professions and Class Trainers windows have been altered to more clearly display available and upcoming purchases.
  • New Raid frames are now available. They can also be used in place of the standard 5-player party interface via the User Interface options.
  • The Spellbook interface has been improved for greater ease-of-use and visual appeal.
  • For additional notes on Lua and XML changes please visit the UI & Macros forum.

Graphics

  • Improved water and lava rendering system (Video Options – Liquid Detail on the Graphics Panel)
  • Dynamic Sunshafts effect (Video Options – Sunshafts on the Graphics Panel)
  • Multi-monitor support (Video Options – Monitor on the Graphics Panel)
  • OpenGL Hardware Cursor support for Windows (Video Options – Hardware Cursor on the Advanced Panel)
  • Experimental support for DX11 (enabled by passing ‘-d3d11’ on the command line or adding SET gxApi “d3d11” to the Config.WTF file)

Check out this video of the Deathwing flyover event.

Cataclysm: Inception

WoW Cataclysm Inception logo
WoW Cataclysm Inception logo

Our master of the editorial, Umar Khan sent over this link which has one the World of Warcraft Cataclysm trailers playing alongside the music from the movie, Inception. It’s about 18 seconds of the inception theme then you start the cataclysm trailer, if you mute the cataclysm music and let only the inception music play it matches together in a pretty awesome way.


Remember you need to mute the Cataclysm trailer.

Don’t feeling like trying it on your own? You can view it on the Youtube double and Check it out here.

Thanks Umar.

Blizzard wants me back

World of Warcraft Cataclysm release date
World of Warcraft Cataclysm release date

Well this is a feed post. I got my feed from Blizzard themsevels telling me World of Warcraft expansion is coming on this December. To bad I lost all interest in the game. Whats sad is I spent like almost 300 bucks in sever transfers, now that’s just sad. Honestly, I loved my time in wow and met great friends who still are to this day. However, I think my time has come and gone for this game, but who knows.

Ok to make this post “feed” worthy here is the info:

O
n December 7, 2010, the lands of Azeroth will be torn asunder as World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™ hits shelves at retail locations throughout the world.

 

You’ve toppled the undead armies of the Lich King and brought Arthas to his knees. Now Deathwing the Destroyer has broken free from his ancient prison in the Elemental Plane of Earth and unleashed his rage upon Azeroth. As the Horde and Alliance race to confront this new threat, the mortal races will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.

 

December 7 fast approaches. In the meantime, you can prepare for the coming cataclysm by visiting the website.

Blizzard’s New World of Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base?

WoW Kobold
WoW Kobold

Warcraft Expansion Targeting Their Original Player-base

Rumors have been coming down the grapevine that Blizzard is moving away from the traditional attitude of making each expansion easier than the last. The audience that they garnered in during Wrath of the Lich King seem to be involuntarily entering a new “old” era of World of Warcraft. Not only is the expansion revamping the old vanilla zones but it seems that old combat rule sets are about to follow in. Are they attempting to isolate their WOTLK Ez-Mode audience that has been showered in epic loots for sneezing in the right direction? It sure seems so.

Some Beta contestants have been mentioning that level 81 greens in Cataclysm are stronger than epics that drop off of Arthas in WOTLK. Sound a bit familiar? The same formula was used in Burning Crusade where you could replace your entire Tier 3 set and weapons by level 64 with vastly more powerful “uncommon” gear. On top of this change, they are putting the “epic” back into purple by making blues a much more common drop. Testimonials from people in Beta have been mentioning they have yet to have seen a purple item. They are mentioning that the abundance of blues are the equivalent of seeing a warrior in Valor Armor with a purple from Stratholme or UBRS before Molten Core came out. In Vanilla WoW, when you saw someone with an epic, even just one, it really meant that item was purely epic because of the miniscule chance something like that would drop. Is there a reason Blizzard is reverting to this style of loot dropping? Some players are so upset about this they have even vented their rage on the forums how there will be more blues in Cataclysm than in WOTLK. One possible troll stated even if the blues have stats that are equivalent to a purple they refuse to have to raid to get purple colors now. A bit immature? Well, that’s WoW’s community for you.

Another homage to the old school playing style of World of Warcraft will be the return of Crowd Control! That’s right, Mages! You can start Polymorphing again! It had seemed that during WOTLK, CC had become a thing of the past and players would do the simple thing and just body pull and use Area-Of-Effect spells to burn everything down quickly. Healers would just spam their fastest heal and keep the tank up constantly. In Cataclysm, Blizzard (and something beta tester can attest to) mentions that combat difficulty has increased significantly and just nuking everything that is still moving isn’t going to work anymore. Players are going to actually have to use their crowd controlling abilities to keep pulls safe.

Tanks are also going to have a bit more of a problem now because healers are being forced to use more than one heal to keep them alive. Yes, they are making healers have actual heal rotations because they are making their spells more mana hungry. Tanks hit points won’t be able to keep up with massive bombardment from 9 mobs at once any longer. It looks like Blizzard is trying to make all players fill a more important and diverse role in a group even in lowly dungeons.

Is Blizzard looking to bring back players that have left and also bring in new players that haven’t been spoiled by WOTLK easy handouts with the new Team Jacob race? If this is the case, how is their majority audience in WOTLK going to fair when Cataclysm releases? The expansion still has awhile to go before their release date and there are always more features and additions to throw in but if this is the course that they are going how negatively could this impact their current population?

World of Warcraft: Ask a CDev

Blizzcon 2010 World of Warcraft Developer panel
Blizzcon 2010 World of Warcraft Developer panel

World of Warcraft

A little over a month ago Bornakk from the official World of Warcraft message board asked members of the community to post their lore questions for the creative development team. Here are some of those questions and answers. You can find the full post here.

Q: What happened to all of the Scourge’s Obsidian Destroyers?

A: The entities known as obsidian destroyers are actually enslaved titan constructs that were once called the tol’vir. The tol’vir were created to maintain titan lore repositories and titan machinery surrounding the titan cities of Ulduar and Uldum. Not long after the troll empires divided the insectoid kingdom of the aqir, the aqir that travelled north discovered and overthrew the tol’vir society in Northrend. These aqir would eventually become the race we know as the nerubians today, having adapted the tol’vir’s architecture for their own purposes. Similarly, the aqir that travelled south ransacked and overthrew a titan research station near Uldum, renaming themselves the qiraji and calling their new home Ahn’Qiraj. Although the Scourge would eventually consume the nerubian empire and throw its few remaining tol’vir slaves into the front lines, it’s possible that more tol’vir still exist in the hidden titan city of Uldum or deep within the remnants of Azjol-Nerub.

Q: The Blood Knights of Silvermoon lack direction. None of them were seen in Northrend, and it is very unclear whether the Order still exists, or if it’s been disbanded. It’s also very unclear where the Blood Knights obtain their power, now. It used to be the Naaru, but then… remnants of the naaru. Surely these remnants are all but tapped now. Do we obtain power from the Sunwell?

A: As of the end of the Burning Crusade expansion, blood elves who wield the Light do so through the power of the renewed Sunwell. It is a harmonious relationship, no longer one of discord caused by the blood elves’ attempts to bend the Light to their will, which will likely have a positive effect on blood elf society in the long run. Look forward to updates that reflect this change in the Silvermoon and Blood Knight quests.

Q: What happened to Frostmourne after it was shattered?

A: While this is a closely guarded secret, we’ll trust you to be discreet: no one knows where the remnants of Frostmourne are now.

Q: Will we be hearing from any of the old or neglected human nations in Cata, specifically Stromgarde, Kul’tiras, and the remnants of Alterac (hey, Deathwing paraded around as an Alterac noble before)?

A: With the revamp of the classic World of Warcraft zones, players will get a chance to see how the fallen nations of Stromgarde and Alterac have fared over the last few years. Kul Tiras, the island nation, will not be visible at the start of Cataclysm – something about tectonic plates shifting it out to sea….

Q: What is the nature of the Void state of the Na’aru? For a being of the Light, turning into such a dark being seems like a heavy weakness. Sucking in souls and causing destruction simply because of a loss in strength greatly diminishes their saintly image. Though, this might be a reason they don’t act in combat very much, as turning on your army due to fatigue wouldn’t be good for morale.

A: Because three cases of this “cycle” have been demonstrated in Nagrand, Auchindoun, and Sunwell Plateau (K’ure, D’ore, and M’uru, respectively), players may have received the wrong impression with regard to the magnitude and rarity of these events: it is EXCEEDINGLY rare for a naaru to fall into a void state, and even rarer for a fallen naaru to be brought back into the Light. A naaru’s fall into the void represents a catastrophic loss for the naaru and for the forces of the Light, and it is the saddest, most heart-wrenching event for the naaru to witness. Conversely, a naaru being reborn into the Light brings renewed hope and sense of purpose to every naaru; if energy beings could weep tears of joy, this would do it.

Q: What happened to Algalon after Ulduar? It didn’t seem like he was just going to go back to business-as-usual.

A: As shown in the World of Warcraft Special #1 comic, Algalon is currently monitoring the activities of the mortal races of Azeroth. His outlook on life and the titans’ plans has been called into question, so he seeks to understand what makes Azeroth so different from the countless worlds he has observed before.

Q: What Loa do the Darkspear worship?

A: Because the Darkspear were originally part of the Gurubashi empire, they still worship many of the same Loa as the Gurubashi once did.

Q: What were Varok Saurfang’s notable accomplishments prior to WoW?

A: Varok Saurfang has served with the Horde ever since he drank the blood of Mannoroth alongside Grom Hellscream. Varok led forces in the sacking of Shattrath, Stormwind, and everything between, never losing in battle until the Horde was routed at the end of the Second War. When Orgrim Doomhammer seized control of the Horde in the First War, he chose Varok Saurfang as his second-in-command after witnessing Varok’s efficient and brutal tactics on the field. After the demonic bloodlust had been lifted from the orcs due to Grom Hellscream’s sacrifice, Varok helped dozens of veterans come to grips with their previous atrocities, ultimately saving the lives of many great Horde soldiers. Rumor also has it that Saurfang once cleaved three men in half with one swing… of his hand.

Q: How did ethereals get so… ethereal? They seem to act a lot more like a mortal race than other energy beings we meet, such as elementals.

A: K’aresh was an arid planet, home to a thriving ecosystem and several sentient species before the arrival of Dimensius the All-Devouring. How the void lord found K’aresh is still hotly debated among the surviving ethereals, but the effects of his coming were unmistakable: he opened countless gateways into the void and the Twisting Nether around the planet, bathing K’aresh in arcane and dark energies. Using every scrap of its advanced technology, one of the mortal races hastily attempted to construct magical barriers around its cities, but it was only partially successful; although the dark energies were blocked, the unimpeded flood of arcane energy tore away the mortals’ corporeal shells and infused their souls with enough energy so that they could subsist without a body… barely. Members of this race, now called ethereals, took to binding themselves with enchanted strips of cloth to provide their souls with enough structure to survive. This altered state proved to be a blessing in disguise, as their enhanced minds and magical abilities allowed the ethereals to fight Dimensius and his limited forces to a standstill. Over the years, however, Dimensius eventually grew powerful enough to summon armies of fellow void creatures, forcing the ethereals to flee into the Twisting Nether.

Q: Do incubi exist?

A: There are several different rumors concerning the male counterparts to the demonic succubus race, and it’s clear that the succubi are responsible for all of them. A few of the more common rumors are:
1. Yes, there are incubi, but the spell to summon them has been conveniently forgotten by mortal practitioners and Burning Legion agents.
2. Incubi are kept as slaves on their home planet, having been rendered incapable of escape or independent movement.
3. The succubi consumed the males of their race when they were brought into the Burning Legion. (Alternatively, the act of devouring the males is what caught the attention of the Burning Legion.)

Q: Could you please explain the lore behind goblin shamans? Goblins do not seem like a particularly spiritual race, especially one that would care about the elements (as evidenced by the Venture Co.).

A: Goblin shaman are an extension of their society’s single-minded devotion to making a profit; to a goblin shaman, elementals are potential customers. Goblins do tend to be a bit more forceful in their negotiations than the other shamanic races (especially the tauren) would like, though they are far less forceful than what we’ve seen from the taunka in Northrend. (Unless the elemental tries to weasel out of its contract. Elementals tend not to have breakable knees, so goblins sometimes have to resort to other methods of control.) As for the goblins’ “mechanical” totems, note that these are merely physical manifestations of the small totems they tinker/craft to form a link with the elemental spirits. Instead of lugging around large totems, goblin shaman have a ring (probably the same ring on which they keep their house and motorbike keys) with small totems they’ve built as conduits for the elemental spirits they do business with.

Q: Can you please explain how “light” works? The lore states that undead are physically incapable of using the light, much like the Broken, but then we have Forsaken players casting healing spells, and Sir Zeliek in Naxxramas using pseudo-paladin abilities.

A: Without spoiling too much, we can tell you that wielding the Light is a matter of having willpower or faith in one’s own ability to do it. That’s why there are evil paladins (for example, the Scarlet Crusade and Arthas before he took up Frostmourne). For the undead (and Forsaken), this requires such a great deal of willpower that it is exceedingly rare, especially since it is self-destructive. When undead channel the Light, it feels (to them) as if their entire bodies are being consumed in righteous fire. Forsaken healed by the Light (whether the healer is Forsaken or not) are effectively cauterized by the effect: sure, the wound is healed, but the healing effect is cripplingly painful. Thus, Forsaken priests are beings of unwavering willpower; Forsaken (and death knight) tanks suffer nobly when they have priest and paladin healers in the group; and Sir Zeliek REALLY hates himself.

Q: Can you tell us anything about the manner in which trolls become druids?

A: While it’s only barely hinted at during the upcoming “Zalazane’s Fall” event, new troll druids in Cataclysm should learn much more about their race’s adoption of these foreign practices.

Q: Why was Myzrael imprisoned?

A: Myzrael fell to madness after she was corrupted by ancient evils under the earth (read: Old Gods). She was defeated during the events of classic World of Warcraft, which purged her of the corruption, but she may make a cameo appearance in Cataclysm. Keep an eye out when adventuring through Deepholm.

Q: Who is the arakkoa “master” that Isfar talks about? It is not Terokk…

A: There are more Old Gods than just the ones trapped on Azeroth. It takes a lot for them to become manifested on a physical plane, however; see the quest line in Shadowmoon Valley that ends with “Thwart the Dark Conclave” for more information.

Q: With Lady Prestor’s, aka Onyxia, plot foiled, will Stormwind once again send soldiers to Lakeshire, Duskwood, and Wesftall or will these area’s and their self-made miitias continue to defend themselves?

A: With the return of King Varian Wrynn and the removal of Lady Prestor from power, the outlying towns finally received the reinforcements they needed. As you’ll see in Cataclysm, however, the reinforcements might not be enough….

Q: There was (and still is) a Moonwell smack dab in the center of Duskwood. This was the ONLY Moonwell on the Eastern Continent prior to the Burning Crusade which saw a Moonwell being added to the island west of Silvermoon (which from a lore sense, the placement of this Moonwell in Quel’Thalas made absolutely no sense.) Will the Duskwood’s Moonwell’s presence be explained?

A: Without spoiling anything, we can tell you that both of these moonwells are recent creations by night elves.

Q: What did the massive machines around the Storm Peaks, like the Engine of the Makers, actually do?

A: These machines are all part of the same system: the Forge of Wills.

Q: What’s the relation between The Order of the Silver Hand, Tyr’s Hand (City from Lordaeron region) and Watcher Tyr (from Ulduar)?

A: Long ago, on the continent that would eventually become known as the Eastern Kingdoms, a small group of creatures struggled to survive, using the limited supplies provided to it by parents who had just abandoned their children on an unfamiliar shoreline. These creatures, eventually called “humans,” would occasionally take to gathering around a fire whilst trying to read from scrolls telling of ancient heroes and leaders – tales from the civilization that had cast these creatures out. One of these scrolls spoke of a great leader, a paragon of order and justice, who sacrificed his right hand in a fight against an unfathomable evil. Although it was within this hero’s power to fix his hand after the fighting had ended, the hero instead chose to replace it with a closed fist made of the purest silver. In this way, the hero impressed upon those who followed him that true order and justice can only be accomplished through personal sacrifice. This hero, who slipped into memory long ago, went by the name of Tyr.

Q: Building off that- whatever happened to Tyr?

A: The watcher Tyr was not in Ulduar when adventurers finally freed the titan city from Yogg-Saron’s influence. If anyone knows where Tyr is now, he or she isn’t speaking up.

Q: Are Mimir and Mimiron supposed to be the same entity, or are they relatives?

A: Same entity, though only his close friends are allowed to call him Mimir.

Q: What is Tiffin Wrynn’s backstory in terms of family, original nation, etc.? I’d be curious as to what connections were set up through that marriage.

A: We’ll keep this brief because we could easily write a few pages for this one. Tiffin Wrynn was originally Tiffin Ellerian of the Ellerian noble family of Stormwind, a small house that only had a small chunk of land in Westfall. Her marriage to Varian was pre-arranged at her birth, finally securing her family a spot on the Stormwind House of Nobles. Tiffin and Varian initially disliked each other, but they eventually became inseparable. Tiffin helped Varian control his occasional anger issues and taught him economics, while Varian helped teach Tiffin about politics and social etiquette. Tiffin was eventually known as a queen of the people, and she was the most adamant supporter of paying the Stonemasons’ Guild the initially agreed-upon sum. Her accidental death during the Stonemasons’ Guild riot was a monumental loss for Varian, Anduin, and the people of Stormwind.

Q: Will you be explaining why the forest spirits of Hyjal will be friendly to the Horde despite the fact that Horde has done so much damage to Ashenvale?

A: By the start of Cataclysm, the ancients and spirits of the forest will have recognized that the forces of the Cenarion Circle and the Alliance combined are still not enough to stop Deathwing, the Twilight’s Hammer, and the elementals they have unleashed. As much as these ancients and spirits hate to admit it, they realize that they need the assistance of the Horde.

Q: What role, if any, will Med’an play in Cataclysm?

A: Med’an will not be visible in Cataclysm; something else is keeping him occupied. 

Cataclysm Closed Beta Begins

World of Warcraft Cataclysm logo
World of Warcraft Cataclysm logo

The beta for the next major World of Warcraft expansion has begun. Players who were picked for the Beta will be able to help Blizzard test out the new world finding bugs, exploits and give them a heads up on what is to come.

Cataclysm will reshape the world of Azeroth changing many of the areas from what is known as “vanilla” W.O.W. In addition there will be new areas, features and an increase in levels from 80 to 85. Oh and did I mention two new playable races?

We don’t expect to see Cataclysm until this winter but there is sure to be a ton of “leaked” information forthcoming so stay tuned.

Blizzcon 2010 Announced

Blizzcon 2010 logo
Blizzcon 2010 logo

You don’t have to be a fan of World of Warcraft to enjoy Blizzcon, (Though it helps). With games like StarCraft 2 and Diablo 3 on the horizon this year’s Blizzcon should be pretty interesting and hopefully informative. You might remember the rumored news that Blizzcon would be hosted in Las Vegas, but alas it was not meant to be. Yesterday Blizzcon 2010 was officially announced and surprise, surprise its back in Anaheim.

Here is the report from Blizzards website:

If you’ve been holding your breath waiting to find out when and where the next BlizzCon would be held, then… you’ve probably passed out by now. But if you’ve just been patiently watching for an announcement, then we’ve got good news for you: BlizzCon will be returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on Friday, October 22 through Saturday, October 23! Just as in years past, BlizzCon 2010 will feature an exciting mix of discussion panels, tournaments, hands-on gameplay, contests, and much more. Check out the announcement press release, and keep an eye on www.blizzcon.com in the months ahead for further details, including ticketing information.

I am sure over the next coming months more information with be released about who will be appearing and what will be talked about and for you World of Warcraft fans I know there will be some talk about Cataclysm. The Obsolete Gamer team will be there (at least one of us) so we hope to see you there and maybe we will have some goodies to give out. As more information is released I will bring it to you.

You can check out all the current Blizzcon 2010 in here.

Cataclysm Stat & System Changes

World of WarCraft Cataclysm
World of WarCraft Cataclysm

In the words of the exploding fat lady’s head in Total Recall “Get ready for a surprise!” Actually it is not really a surprise. Anyone who was at last year’s Blizzcon knows that the new World of Warcraft expansion, Cataclysm will offer some major changes to the game. One of the big changes to players is the stats and Eyonix over on the World of Warcraft Official forums breaks it down for us.

Here are the highlights:

What You’ll See on Gear

Stamina – Because of the way we will be assigning Strength, Agility, and Intellect, non-plate wearers will end up with more Stamina than before. Health pools will be much closer between plate-wearers and other classes.

Spirit – Come Cataclysm, this stat should only be found on healing gear. Non-healing casters will have other systems in place to regenerate mana, and we are designing special solutions for Elemental shaman and Balance druids who often share gear with healers (more on this below). Raid buffs that currently boost Spirit (such as Blessing of Kings) will only boost the primary stats of Stamina, Strength, Agility, and Intellect. We are also likely changing the five-second rule and other quirks of the current regen system.

Intellect – Intellect will now grant Spell Power (more on this below). Intellect will also provide less mana than it currently does.

Haste – Haste will become more attractive for melee classes by allowing them to recover resources such as energy and runes more quickly. Our intention is for Haste to let you “do stuff” more often.

Block Rating – Block is being redesigned to scale better. Blocked attacks will simply hit for 30% less damage. Block rating will improve your chance to block, though overall block chances will be lower than they are today.

Parry – Parry no longer provides 100% avoidance and no longer speeds up attacks. Instead, when you parry an attack, it and the next attack will each hit for 50% damage (assuming they hit at all). In other words, Dodge is a chance to avoid 100% of the damage from one attack, Parry is a chance to avoid 50% of the damage from two attacks, and Block is a chance to avoid 30% of the damage from one attack.

Mastery – This is a new stat that will allow players to become better at whatever makes their chosen talent tree cool or unique. It’s directly tied to talents, so what you gain from improving this stat is entirely dependent upon your class and the talent specialization you choose. We’ll talk more about specific Mastery benefits in the future.

Armor – The way Armor mitigates damage is not changing, but the Armor stat has been rebalanced to mirror changes to the armor curve in Cataclysm. As a result, bonus Armor will go down slightly overall. We are also changing the mitigation difference among armor types so that plate doesn’t offer so much more protection than mail, leather, and cloth.

Resilience – This will only affect damage done by players and critical damage done by players. It will not impact crit chance, mana drains, or other such effects.

Strength, Agility, Hit Rating, Expertise, and Critical Strike Rating – These will all still appear on gear as well. Aside from situations mentioned elsewhere in this list, in general these will function similarly to how they do now, though the details — such as how much Hit Rating you might need to effectively combat high-level creatures (more on this below) — are likely to change.

Being Removed from Items

Attack Power – This stat will no longer be present on most items as a flat value, though it will still show up on some process. Strength and Agility, which will be present on items, will grant the appropriate amount of Attack Power (generally 2 Attack Power per point of Strength or Agility) depending upon which stat a particular class favors. Agility may provide less Crit than it currently does.

Spell Power – Spell Power is another stat that you’ll no longer see present on most items. Instead, as mentioned above, Intellect will grant Spell Power. One exception is that caster weapons will still have Spell Power. This allows us to make weapons proportionately more powerful for casters in the same way they are for melee classes.

Armor Penetration – This stat will no longer be present on items. Armor Penetration will still exist in talents and abilities.

Shield Block Value – This stat will no longer be present on items, since the amount blocked is always proportional to the amount of damage done. Talents and other effects might still modify the damage-reduction percentage from 30%, however.

Going Away Completely

MP5 – This stat will be removed from the game completely. Holy paladins and Restoration shaman will be redesigned to benefit from Spirit.

Defense – Defense is being removed from the game entirely. Tanking classes should expect to become uncrittable versus creatures just by shifting into Defensive Stance, Frost Presence, Bear Form, or by using Righteous Fury.

Spell Ranks – Spell ranks will cease to exist. All spells will have one rank and will scale appropriately with level. The levels at which you can learn certain spells are being changed in order to fill in some of the gaps, and we will be introducing some new spells to learn along the way as well.

Weapon Skill – This stat will be removed from the game completely. Classes will start with all the weapon skills they need to know and will not need to improve them.

What Else You Should Know

Combat ratings – All ratings will be much harder to “cap out” at maximum gear levels. Ratings will be steeper in Cataclysm, and creatures in later tiers of content will be harder to hit or crit, similar to how level-83 mobs are harder to hit or crit than level-80 mobs.

Reforging – While these changes will go a long way to making a wider variety of stats more attractive, we understand that sometimes you simply don’t want more Hit Rating on your gear or you’d rather have more Haste than more Crit. In Cataclysm, we are going to give players a way to replace stats on gear as part of the existing profession system. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll be able to convert one stat to 50% of another stat. While some conversions (like converting Stamina to Strength) won’t be permitted, the goal is to let you customize your gear more.

Gems – We are changing the gem colors of a few stats as a result of these adjustments. For example, Hit is likely to be blue instead of yellow. We’ll have more details on this in the future.

World of Warcraft: Patch 3.3.5 – The Ruby Sanctum

World of Warcraft dragon
World of Warcraft dragon

Hey guys remember when they announced Icecrown Citadel and how each week they would open another wing before you could fight the Lich King himself? Remember how everyone said that even with this delay you would reach the end long before Cataclysm would be released? Remember how everyone said there would have to be an additional raid zone after ICC ala Sunwell?

Well check out this Q&A Blizzard’s Tom Chilton participated in over at Game Informer:

For the final question, there’s been some rumors going around and I wanted to clear them up. You guys have wrapped up the main Lich King storyline. Icecrown is out there, which you guys have said is the final major raid for this expansion. But there are some rumors that there might be another content patch of some sort before Cataclysm releases.

That is a possibility. We can’t say for sure at this point, but we are looking into the possibility of having a boss in the Ruby Sanctum, which is another part of Wyrmrest Temple. It’s a little too early to have a lot of details on that, but I wouldn’t characterize it as a huge chunk of content. It’s not a patch 3.4 or anything.

At the time of that answer it was still a rumor, not anymore. On the World of Warcraft official forums posted Zarhym cleared the air:

As we prepare for the public testing phase of minor content patch 3.3.3, some players might come across information regarding upcoming content that isn’t yet available. To avoid any confusion, we’d like to tell you about an exciting new raid dungeon we are working on for content patch 3.3.5.

The Ruby Sanctum

A powerful war party of the Black Dragonflight, led by the fearsome Twilight dragon, Halion, have launched an assault upon the Ruby Sanctum beneath Wyrmrest Temple. By destroying the sanctum, the Black Dragonflight look to crush those that would stand in the way of their master’s reemergence into Azeroth and to ultimately shatter the Wyrmrest Accord – the sacred bond that unites the dragonflights.

The battle that is to come will surely deal a crippling blow to the Red Dragonflight, however, it is up to you to stop this unprecedented offensive and defend the Ruby Sanctum. First you must face the assault of Halion’s servants, Saviana Ragefire, Baltharus the Warborn, and General Zarithrian, before squaring off against Halion the Twilight Destroyer, a new and deadly force in this realm.

Interview – CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright)

CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright)
Cold Storage logo

We recently interviewed one of our favorite musicians CoLD SToRAGE (Tim Wright). The following is the interviewRead More

The End of the Lich King

The Lich King WoW
The Lich King WoW

While it is true that everyone and their mother plays World of Warcraft that doesn’t mean that when something is done well you ignore it because it is massive and mainstream. The team over at Blizzard did a pretty good job with their cinematic’s after the death of Arthas, the Lich King.

Spoiler Alert! Yes, we all know the Lich King dies, but just in case you don’t want to know what happens next don’t click the video or read what is below.

Of course there are rumblings across the net about the need to be a Lich King, however, I think the lore team has set themselves up well.

A good summed up response to those who questioned the need for a Lich King and the choice in who became Arthas’s successor came from, believe it or not, the City of Heroes official forums where member Talia Rayvyn said:

The reason they needed another host is because the first Lich King (Ner’zhul) would have full control over the Scourge or if Ner’zhul without a body had no control over the Scourge they would just follow their instinct to destroy all life.

When Ner’zhul fused with Arthas they both became stronger because he had a physhical body BUT deep down Arthas was still a good person and was using what influence he had to hold the Scourge back. I’m not sure if you play/played WoW, but during the Wrath World Event they unleashd the Scourge plague and it did not take long before everything was a zombie wasteland. That’s exactly how the world should be, but since it’s not, that hinted at the fact that something was holding the Scourge back. I just assumed that Arthas was building up a bigger force but when Uther tells you that he is actually holding the Scourge back it makes just as much sense.

Also Bolvar was the best man for the job to be the new Lich King. The first important fact is that he is not in possession of Frostmourne. That sword was the major reason for Arthas’ downfall because it stole his soul and made him a slave to its hunger and Ner’zhul since the sword is ultimately tied to him. The second factor is that he is covered in head to toe in fire from the Red Dragons. That fire embodies the very essence of life an was probably one of the main reasons that Arthas could never convert him into a Death Knight. So as long as the fire burns he is resistant to the undead of the Scourge. So between those two things it made him a perfect “jailer” rather than host for Ner’zhul and the Scourge.

From a lore-standpoint the Scourge will no longer be a threat to Azeroth and will probably just lethargically shamble around Northrend. Blizzard could also eventually evolve the Scourge to the point that they are able function as well as the Forsaken.

I also expect this was a means to set-up the scenario a few expansions down the road when we assault the Burning Legion that the Alliance and Horde will be joined by Bolvar and the Scourge in overthrowing Sargeras.

Overall, a good job was done, at least visually. We will see what Cataclysm brings us.