Category: Development

Jul 28 2016

Quick Summary of Legion changes

As with any expansion, a lot of changes have rolled out in patch 7.0.3, the Legion expansion pre-patch.  For full comprehensive patch notes, you should check out the full patch notes here.  For the quick and dirty summary, here is what you need to know:

Classes
Note: There were also a number of class changes as part of the overhaul, but for those you’ll want to read the official patch notes to get all the details on your particular class. 

  • Gnomes can now be hunters.
  • The hunter Survival spec is now a melee spec
  • The rogue Combat spec was removed and replaced with Outlaw, which is pirate-esque thematically.
  • Demonology walocks lost metamorphism and have many new demon-centric spells.

Talents, Specs, & Glyphs

  • Specs and talents have been totally reworked, and a lot of spells removed or limited to particular specs.
  • Major glyphs were removed.
  • Minor glyphs are now applied directly to the spell in your spellbook.
  • You can now change your spec or individual talents on the fly.  Changing is free when in a rested area like a city, or can be done with a scribe-crafted reagent when out in the world or in an instance.

Buffs & Stats

  • Raid buffs are gone.
  • Multistrike was removed.  It was replaced with crit on existing gear.
  • Spell power was removed.  It was replaced with intell on existing gear.
  • Spirit and Bonus Armor were removed.  Both were replaced with versatility on existing gear.

Gear

  • Legacy (pre-Warlords) tier set bonuses no longer work.
  • Plate-wearers now start in plate from level 1 (previously mail until 40).
  • Mail-wearers now start in mail from level 1 (previously leather until 40).
  • Legendary ring chain is now unavailable to pick up fresh.

Transmog

  • Transmog gear is now account-wide, with some restrictions.  See this video for details.
  • You can now hide your shoulders!
  • Hat, cloak, and shoulders are turned off at the transmog NPC rather than in the Interface settings.

Toys

  • A ton of things were added the toybox. This includes many engineering items (teleport items, mailbox, blingtron, etc) but they still retain a profession restriction.

PvP

  • Honor and Conquest points are gone.
  • Gear is now purchased with Marks of Honor which are obtained in BGs, arenas, etc.  Old school PvPers might remember a similar type currency long ago!
  • PvP gear is now normalised when in a PvP instance.

General Changes

  • All regular mobs are shared tap with up to five players now.
  • You now have 12 character slots per server, to make room for the incoming Demon Hunter class
  • The gold cap has been increased to 9,999,999 gold.
  • Garrison gold missions removed.

User Interface

  • Character stat pane has been pared down and now only displays stats relevant to your character.
  • New optional resource bar can be displayed under your character
  • Max zoom script disabled :sadtrombone:

Now that you’re ready to jump back in the game – renew that sub, dust off your character, and prepare for Legion!

Jul 20 2013

Proving Yourself in Proving Grounds

This PTR build of patch 5.4 introduced a long-awaited feature to the game: Proving Grounds!  Proving Grounds are solo scenarios where a level 90 player can test their skill in their chosen role against wave after wave of enemies that get progressively harder.

•  As a DPS, your job is to kill the mobs before the next wave spawns.  It’s just you and your toolbox of spells and abilities to burn them down, interrupt their heals, and keep yourself alive.

•  As a tank, your job is to protect your NPC healer by picking up the mobs as best you can, interrupting them, and using your own cooldowns to survive.

•  As a healer, your job is to keep your party alive.  Your party is a team of NPCs – a warrior tank, an assassination rogue, a hunter and a mage.  The AI is pretty smart — they are good about interrupting and focus firing — while still being realistic in the sense that they are occasionally being slow to get out of fire or meandering out of your healing range.  You’ll need to do a lot of healing and dispelling here.

If you fail in your role objective, you get a failure message and the mobs despawn and you have to talk to the NPC to start again at wave 1.  If you get “killed,” you are actually just reduced to 1 healthpoint – so no death repair bills!  You do take wear-and-tear durability damage, though, and there is an NPC inside the instance who can repair you.

Healer PG

Goals

Proving Grounds can serve several useful functions:

  • First and foremost: it is something fun to do!
  • It gives new players a safe but real-time environment to practice their skills and improve their play.  Whether you’re new to the game or just new to a role, PGs are a wonderful place to hone your skills without worrying about irritating or — worse — killing four other players in the process.
  • If gives players a place to test out particular talents, glyphs, as well as fiddle with their addons and keybinds.

Gear Scaling

To make sure Proving Grounds are a challenge of skill and not of who simply has the best gear, all equipment is scaled down in a similar fashion to Challenge Modes.

  • Gear scales to 463
  • Gems do not scale
  • Set bonuses do not count

Unlike Brawler’s Guild where players can hit a ceiling on their success because their gear is subpar (or get further because great gear gives them more margin for error), the equalised equipment means ranking accurately reflects true skill.  Of course, if you’re exclusively a tank or healer, you can’t do Brawler’s Guild at all!

You can use flasks and foods, but not potions; they didn’t want you to have to bring stacks and stacks of pots just to make it through.  There is a soulwell for health cookies, though!

There is also a reforger NPC in case you need to make any gear tweaks, and a vendor who sells  Tomes of the Clear Mind so you can tweak your talents and glyphs as much as you need.

Tuning

First the obligatory disclaimer – All of this can change!  Proving Grounds are a brand new feature and it’s possible Blizzard may shift their goals with what they want with them.  Additionally, right now the tuning on the PTR is really easy — far below what I was told was intended (and what I outlined below). It is likely untuned right now, but being the PTR I imagine they will be tweaking them quiet a bit over the next month or so.  Give them a try, leave feedback on the tuning whether you prefer it harder or easier!

You begin with bronze mode.  The plan is for bronze to be tuned to a player ready to step into heroic 5-mans, so this should be easy for just about everyone.

After you beat bronze, you can step into Silver.  If you’re a normal mode raider, you should be able to make it through this level, with maybe some difficulties in the final waves.

After that comes Gold.  Beating gold is intended to reflect comparable skills to a player that is ready to raid heroics.  Expect to use your whole toolbox to make it through Gold.

After you beat Gold, you are eligible to try Endless mode.  Endless mode, as the name implies, has unlimited waves of increasing difficulty.  Each wave does a percentage more damage and has an equal percentage more health than the one before it.

Your furthest wave will be tracked so you can come back try to beat your high score later, and so you can compete with your friends.  Although there are no in-game leaderboards like for Challenge modes, this information is tracked in your character statistics and can be pulled up in the armory, so expect third party sites to run rankings eventually.

Rewards

There are achievements for reaching each rank in each role, as well as surviving 20 waves into Endless.  There will be titles, as well.  “[Name] the Proven [Healer / Tank / Damage Dealer]” probably earned by completing Gold for a given role.

Perhaps later other rewards will be implemented, but that’s it for now.

I got the opportunity to test Proving Grounds a couple weeks early thanks to an awesome dev, but now they are a little more polished and available for everyone to try.  Just speak to your class trainer* or the NPC in the Temple of the White Tiger in Kun Lai Summit to be sent in.

 

* NYI this build – go to Kun Lai

Outside Resources

 

Jul 16 2013

Fansite Mixer!

A few weeks ago, I had the very awesome opportunity to go visit the Blizzard campus for tons of fun and some great discussion with the WoW CMs and Devs.  Community Manager Zarhym planned the intimate fansite mixer (and did an amazing job).  Representatives from Curse, Wowhead, WoW Insider, podcast Convert to Raid, and Gamebreaker attended (nine of us total) for a chance to discuss the game and, more importantly, how Blizzard and fansites can work together to better serve the community.  I was there to represent Curse as an MMO-Champion and wowdb.com global moderator.


Community Discussion

My favourite part of the day, and also the reason we were there, was  the roundtable on Blizzard and fansites working together.

We were given insight into the internal process Blizzard has for official, blogs, patch notes, forum communication, and other community manager functions.  We talked about our own role as fansites, and discussed the opportunities and methods all of us can use in order to aid each other to the benefit of the community.  Unfortunately, I am unable to share any of the details at Blizzard’s request, so just trust me it was really interesting and particularly useful to me as someone involved with MMO-Champion and wowdb.com.

Oh yeah, and we also got surveyed in advance about the new transmog helms, purchasable-in-Korea XP buff, and other developments for the Blizzard store (now announced, which is why I can mention it).  We also got a very cool preview of the products that will be shown at ComicCon next month, including a bunch of snazzy exclusives only available to attendees.  If you’re into toys or collectables, you’ll probably want to check those out when they are shown this weekend!

We also enjoyed trivia for prizes (I won a TGC loot card), generous giftbags, and an all-around good time.  Oh, and we got to watch animated Zarhym serenade animated Ghostcrawler on the big screen.


Dev Q & A

We had an hour to talk to three WoW developers and ask questions related to the content coming in 5.4.  They had a lot of cool new information to share with us, most of which was not yet on the PTR at the time about the Timeless Isle, Legendary Cloaks, the awesomesounding new world boss,  flex raiding, arena changes, Proving Grounds and more.

For a detailed breakdown, check out chaud’s recap on MMO-Champion.  A lot of this is on the PTR now, but not all of it, and the overview is still interesting to read.


Hearthstone

We were given an opportunity to try out their new online card game, Hearthstone, which was announced at PAX earlier this year.  I was very enticed with the game and enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

The games are fun and relatively quick.  The rules are simple and very easy to pickup, but still has the potential for complexity and skill both in deck building and creating card synergies in play.  I was impressed that they designed a game that could be easily played on a phone or tablet but still was completely enjoyable on a PC without feeling like you’re playing a phone app on a desktop.

Unfortunately, I was pretty terrible at it, having lost all but one game I played!  I am going to just go ahead and blame bad RNG.  😉


Campus Tour

museum!One of the cool aspects of the day was a tour of the Blizzard grounds.  We got to visit the museum — currently mostly Starcraft II themed — and see a lot of models, concept art, videos, and other awesome relics.

But the cool stuff doesn’t end there — all over the campus are awesome statues, art pieces, and other displays.  There is the famous huge metal orc statue in the front of the main entrance, and the statues of Illidan, Kerrigan and other game characters that you see at Blizzcon were tucked in the various lobbies and common areas.orc statue

They have fan art on the walls, from the great stuff you see on the official website submitted by players, to the WoW themed comics done by Penny Arcade.  A lot of their various products from over the years (tee shirts, models, toys, posters, etc) were on display throughout the buildings.  It was also very cool to see things like the signature walls from Blizzcon hanging up and other.

We also got to see how some of the departments were decorated, as each gets to design their area in a very cool theme (the department we saw was zombie apocalypse!).  Their break rooms are also amazing; one we stepped inside looked like we had been teleported back in time to an old speakeasy.

My favourite part of the tour was getting to see Blizzard’s “mission control” room where they monitor their servers all over the world for problems.  No photographs allowed (many threatening signs reminding us as much), but let me tell you – it looked as awesome as it sounds!

And, no, we didn’t get to wander into any top secret areas and eavesdrop on any Titan discussion 😉

Afterwards, we had a delicious lunch of carne asada street tacos, grilled portobellos and peppers, rice, margaritas, and other fixin’s.  Bashiok’s skills as a grillmaster did not disappoint.


Many Many Many Thanks

Thank you very much to the Community Managers who made our day wonderful – Bashiok, Bornakk, Crithto, Daxxarri (raccoon-wrangler extraordinaire!), Lore, Nethaera, and Rygarius, and a special thanks to Zarhym for putting the whole thing together for us.  And thank you to the devs who also gave us their time to answer questions and give us insight and sneak peaks into the game!

(and sorry if I forgot anyone!)

May 20 2013

Contribute to wowdb.com!

I help out with wowdb, and I’d really like to encourage anyone else who likes that sort of thing to help out, too. It’s a fun project to work on.

Yes, I know wowhead is more established and has more comments. Yes, I know wowdb doesn’t have a model viewer. However, the way to get more comments is to get more contributors. The way to get a model viewer is to get more people to use the site so Curse directs more devs there. Even if wowhead is still your go-to site for information, consider that a lot of other sites that you might use (icy veins and mr robot are two primary example) rely on wowdb, and those sites will be able to serve you better if wowdb gets more support.

Basically, I’m asking you guys to help out if that’s the kind of thing you like to do (if it isn’t, no worries). Some of you know a lot of cool tips and tricks and all of you have been around long enough to be good resources for stuff.

How To Contribute

You need to log in to wowdb.com with your curse account (the one you would use for the curse client if you use it).  It’s easy to register if you don’t have one.  You do not need Curse Premium or anything like that.

Comments

We need helpful comments on quests, items, spells & abilities, NPCs/bosses/mobs, achievements, etc. Detailed explanations, strategies, tips; anything that isn’t immediately apparent from the in-game text, like if you’re aware of any prerequisite quests, but also linking related items or quests, achievements, providing spawn points, coordinates, any tips, suggestions, outside resources, whatever.

We especially need comments on all the new content – any of the new Mists quests, bosses, items, achievements, spells, talents, and on things like pet battles where comments are a better source of information than anything in-game.

Examples of some good comments: here, here, here and here

One thing I like to do is open the website when I level alts and leave comment each time I encounter a quest that isn’t completely straightforward and just leave a few sentences here or there as I play. It just takes a couple extra seconds per quest and is way easier than trying to remember later which quests needed comments.

Unlike wowhead, you can leave embedded images and videos in your comments if you find those are particularly helpful.

Comments are posted immediately and moderated reactively.

Screenshots

To take screenshots:

ALT + Z to disable your UI then Print Screen button. You then can either find the screenshot in your WoW/screenshots folder (sort by date is very helpful here) or you can just paste the screenshot immediately into a blank file in Photoshop or Gimp or whatever and save somewhere. The upload tool has its own crop utility so you shouldn’t need to crop in advance.

Again, we need screenshots especially of newer stuff. What that quest mob looks like, the entrance to the cave that is hard to find, appearance of those footprints that the stealthed pet is supposed to leave behind, quest objectives, armor models, boss models, tameable pets, etc, etc. People like to know what stuff looks like.

Example: here. Shot of the track, what the tooltip says, shot of the mob itself.

Screenshots are approved manually by mods and admins and can take a day to appear (or poke me and I can do it immediately).

Use the Curse Client

When you are playing the wowdb profiler that comes with the curse client will gather data and save it. When you are done playing, Curse Client will see the game close and upload the collected data from the addon. You can see the last time data was uploaded by looking in the Plugins tab of the options, as well as making sure the addon is enabled there. Be sure you have Curse Client open (even if it is just running in your system tray) before you close WoW so that the data will upload!

Image

Contributing in the right places

Remember when you contribute anything to add it to all the related pages. Mount screenshots, for example, should be on both the item-that-teaches-the-mount page and the spell-once-you’ve-learned-it page. Some quests are completed the same for both factions but are separate in the database, and you will want to make sure the helpful comment is included on both. Another example is my comments here about acquiring one of the new raptor pets; I left this exact comment on the page for every single raptor mount, as well as on the pages for both the eggs that are part of the process.

Dont steal

This is really important: don’t copy comments or screenshots from wowhead.  That’s inappropriate – not fair to wowhead or its community, and it will just get taken down from wowdb anyway.

If wowhead has some super helpful information that you think wowdb absolutely needs, then rewrite it yourself.

Why wowdb exists

Comments from Boubouille, the creator/owner of MMO-Champion:

WoWDB is used to power most of what’s behind MMO-Champion‘s news. It replaced db.mmo-champion.com that was becoming super obsolete and wouldn’t have survived MoP. It’s also a way to try to improve user experience on MMO-C over db.mmo-champion.com pages we had because those were pretty bad.

db.mmo-champion.com was created because Wowhead refused to work with us years ago and we needed it to run MMO-Champion. There is absolutely no way for a company as big as Wowhead/Zam/Tencent Games to work with MMO-Champion in the first place because it would require us to have access to absolutely everything they have, which is a pretty good reason to refuse.

Some people also mentioned that competition is good, and I tend to agree with that. WoWDB was the first database to support a bunch of things such as spec variable spells or item upgrades. We also focus a lot more on newsing, so our spell parsing tends to be much cleaner to keep the unofficial notes clear: http://www.wowhead.com/spell=100780/jab / http://www.wowdb.com/spells/100780-jab

We also have random features like reagents breakdown http://www.wowdb.com/spells/93328-vial-of-the-sands

It’s a technological sandbox to let us improve the database platform on a company level. The improvements on wowdb are partially the reason why gw2db was more succesful than other databases for example.

The goal isn’t really to compete with Wowhead, it’s more of a pet project to see if we can find new ways to improve MMO-C and make the experience more enjoyable for users with what we have.

WoWDB  is mostly a “hey let’s see what we can do with this” project with no real goal. It’s a 100% money sink for the company and even if we added an ad slot somewhere it would still be a pretty huge money loss. The main goal is really just to support MMO-Champion‘s news and make our life easier on this side.

However, I’m glad that some people/other major sites adopted it because it lets me work with smart minds that provide us with a decent amount of feedback and let us improve our database platform altogether (contributing to the success of gw2db.com for example) but I’m not really on a crusade to destroy Wowhead, otherwise I wouldn’t have them listed as the most obvious link on every page you click.

And just so there is no question, I’m not a shill for Curse.  I don’t get paid by them or anything, I’m not advertising for them, and my only affiliation with them is being a volunteer on wowdb (and at MMOC).  I don’t have a vendetta against wowhead and am not asking people not to use it — I think it’s a great site and I use it daily.  I am involved with wowdb largely because it’s a fun project and I think it has a lot of potential to be a great database that is useful and helpful to the community.

Anyway, if you do choose to help out, great.  Here is a link to the Public Feedback Thread.

Mar 14 2013

Tziva’s Guide to Hoarding Dinosaurs

Patch 5.2 is out and it offers a lot of fun new content for players.  I think I speak for everyone awesome when I say that the most pertinent of these new things is: dinosaurs.  We get a lot of them, which is good, because there is no such thing as too many dinosaurs.  So this is my guide to acquiring new dinosaurs because if you are even remotely cool, this has now become the most urgent goal in your life.

If you’re just looking to chill with some prehistoric badasses, but suspect you can’t handle the coolness of owning your own, Blizzard has given us an entire island full of nothing but dinosaurs of all sizes and varieties: The Isle of Giants.  It is covered with elite adult and young triceratops direhorns, tyrannosaurus rexes devilsaurs, and pterodactyls skyscreamers in a rainbow of colours.

Okay, but now on to the important question: how do you cash in on this stuff?


Dinosaur Mounts

So of course you want a dinosaur mount.  Everyone wants a dinosaur mount.  Lucky for you, there are a lot of new dinosaur mounts to choose from.

Direhorns

The easiest direhorn mounts to acquire drop from the elite Zandalari Warbringers that spawn around Pandaria.  At around a 5% drop rate, you will likely need to kill a bunch of these, but luckily they spawn pretty regularly (around every 30 to 60 minutes) and drop other awesome things to soothe your poor, dinosaurless soul.  These Warbringers are trolls riding the dinosaurs you’re trying to steal, and come in a slate (pale blueish), amber (greyish yellow), and jade varieties (bright greenish).  The mount on their loot tables matches the dinosaur they are currently riding; you won’t ever get a slate mount from a dude sitting atop a jade.  Don’t be distracted by the Zandalari Scouts that patrol nearby; they don’t drop the mounts.  Bring a friend or two to help you with these tough elites; the Warbringers can be duo’d if you know how to handle their abilities, but are very difficult to solo if you’re not a well-geared tank or a pro hunter.

Slate Direhorn

The other direhorn mount is a cobalt blue, and is a rare drop from the new world boss Oondasta.  If your heart is set on this one, grab one hundred of your closest friends and cross your fingers.

If you’re a raider, check out the second boss in Throne of Thunder named Horridon.  Not only is he absolutely adorable to look at (little periwinkle feets!), he has a rare chance to drop a blue & white direhorn mount.

Finally, if you love dailies or at least are willing to slog through them for a triceratops, you can look forward to snagging your own crimson (if you’re Horde) or gold (as Alliance) direhorn for reaching exalted with your new faction on the Isle of Thunder.  The new factions are the Kirin Tor Offensive for Alliance and Sunreaver Onslaught for Horde.

Raptors

The new raptors come in black, red, green and white.

Most people will probably want to focus on the black, red, and green varieties, as these do not require insanity and huge amounts of time to acquire like the white one.  Elites mobs on the The Isle of Giants (all of them except the Zandalari Dinomancers) have a small chance to drop the Primal Egg you are seeking.  The smaller elite dinosaurs on the island can be solo’d by most classes, although the bigger devilsaurs and triceratops may require a couple people, so getting your egg should just be a matter of getting enough kills under your belt.  Three days after getting your Primal Egg, it will hatch into a Cracked Primal Egg and inside will be a random raptor mount in one of these three colours.  The mount is guaranteed from the egg, but it may take you awhile to get all three types since you can get duplicates.

While you’re farming your Primal Egg, you will find that all these mobs also drop a few Giant Dinosaur Bones with each kill.  Save these, because for the low, low cost of only ten thousand bones (okay, 9999 actually) you can purchase a bone white primal raptor mount from an NPC hiding in a cave on the island.   As an added bonus, people will be able to more easily identify you as crazy when they see you rocking this painful-to-farm raptor.

Skyscreamers

Right now, there is only one flying dinosaur mount in the game: the Armored Skyscreamer.  This guy is the reward for completely the Throne of Thunder raid meta, so if you’re not a hardmode raider, you may need to wait a few tiers to pick up this sweet ride.

 

Pet Dinosaurs

Of course, simply riding a dinosaur is not enough.  I mean, it is awesome, but not nearly as cool as riding a dinosaur, while your tamed dinosaur runs alongside you, keeping company with your battlepet dinosaurs, right?

Hunter Pets

If you’re a hunter, The Isle of Giants is where the magic happens.  Stable your active pets so you have lots of space for dinosaur shopping.

To tame a direhorn you will need to acquire an Ancient Tome of Dinomancy from the many Zandalari Dinomancers wandering about the island.  The mobs can be solo’d by the hunter, but you will probably want to pick up the Silencing Shot talent, as the heal they cast will put them back up to full health, making them a pain to kill without (they stop casting it once they reach 50%).  Once you get your book, though, you’re set: you can now tame any of the triceratopsy young direhorns on the island, regardless of your spec.

To tame a devilsaur, you just need to be Beast Mastery spec, no book required.  There are quite a lot of different colours on the island, so just find a young one in whatever shade you desire, and tame away.  Easy!

To tame a skyscreamer, whine to Blizzard because right now you can’t.

Non-combat Pets

While you’re on The Isle of Giants looking for your hunter book, you might be lucky to find one of the four new vanity/battle pets from the Zandalari Dinomancers:

Zandalari Kneebiter
Zandalari Anklerender
Zandalari Footslasher
Zandalari Toenibbler

Zandalari Kneebiter

These are little armored baby raptors.  They are super cute and completely unique from the old raptor vanity pets.

New in 5.3:

•  Stunted Direhorn – Unfortunately, it looks like you’ll need to win 250 PvP pet battles to get this cutie.
Direhorn Runt – Is a rare drop from the Direhorn mobs found on The Isle of Giants.
Pygmy Direhorn – Is now a rare drop from Horridon!