Archive for February, 2011

Visualize Raid Strategy with BossBlueprint

If you have a difficult time explaining to your raid or your guild exactly how they should move and where they should stand in a given raid encounter, or if you have people in your raid or guild that are be far visual learners and just don’t seem to be getting the hang of what you’re saying, Boss Blueprint might be a handy tool to help you build those raid strategies and share them with your raid members before the encounter so there’s no confusion.

The site only has support at the moment for Blackwing Descent, Throne of the Four Winds, and Bastion of Twilight, and the boss encounters therein – it would be really useful if the tool added more encounters and raids, even older ones that some people still run as practice or for fun – but it makes sense that the most recent content would be of primary interest to the people using Boss Blueprint.

The app then lets you add raid icons, raid roles, and directional arrows and zones to the map to indicate where players with ranged DPS should stand, where the healers should be, and where the tanks should be in relation to the boss, and other mobs and elements of the encounter that players should be aware of are located. You can drop big red circles on the ground to indicate places where you shouldn’t stand, arrows to tell players where they should move, and more.

Once you’re all finished, you can save your blueprint and share it with your raid either by downloading the JPG and posting it somewhere yourself, or by embedding the blueprint in another Web site.

Video :: Bladestorm!

This hilarious video comes to us courtesy of our friends over at Raid Ready, who we talked to earlier about their upcoming service.

I have to admit, I kind of feel bad for the old guy, but you know what – ten bucks says that guy just whispered his hunter and rogue friend before pulling aggro on those griefers. Expect sniping and de-cloaking to commence in the moments after the end of this video.

Yeah, I like to make up my own endings for things.

Discussion :: How Are Those New Races Working Out For You?

(image courtesy of Penny Arcade. Click to see the original comic!

Cataclysm has been out for a while, and although many people have spent the bulk of their time rushing to get up to 85 and geared up for heroics and other dungeons that represent the state of end-game content right now, a lot of other people have taken the other approach: take it nice and slow, and roll on the of the new races or character race/class combinations, start from the beginning, and take your time getting through all of the new quests, changed zones, and updated content.

So, if you’re one of those folks who decided to roll a goblin or worgen and start from level one, how are those races working out for you? Do you find the lore works out for you, or that it’s all just a smashed-together trainwreck?

Some people have noted that the Worgen feel kind of abandoned, much like the Draenei were in The Burning Crusade, that they’re essentially leveled to about 10 or 15 and then shipped off to do quests that essentially already exist and join the storyline of another race (namely the Night Elves.) The Goblin experience, however, is much better – but this is all secondhand that I’m hearing. What I want to hear is what you think! Sound off in the comments.

Raid Ready Wants to Change the Way You Play WoW

This hilarious video (hit the link to see it in HD at YouTube) is one of three that have been unlocked over a Raid Ready, all designed to give you a little bit of a clue as to what Raid Ready will be when it’s released.

Okay, the videos themselves don’t say too much, and that’s okay because they’re all hilarious – the one above is the first to be unlocked, and since then there’s another great one that parodies an eHarmony ad, and yet another that makes me feel awful for that poor guy – he just wanted his morning cup of joe.

Anyway, between the site and the videos, I had to find out what this Raid Ready business was all about, so I dropped the team there a line to find out what they’re planning and what they could tell me about it now.

I noted the air of mystery around the videos, and I asked what exactly Raid Ready was going to be: a Web site? A service? An add-on? A utility? A subscription service? What was the deal? Here’s what Stubby, one of the folks behind the scenes working on Raid Ready, had to say:

Raid Ready is a new way to measure the readiness of players and entire raids for certain content. In the past 3-4 years several methods have been introduced that give players what I feel are rather ambiguous ways of measuring their readiness for certain content. What’s wound up happening with all these methods is that we have several sites, add ons and calculators which give you either a number or a graph that tells you what you’re ready for and how you rank against other players. The problem with these systems is that they tend to use things which don’t matter to measure the capability of players. I’ll be 100% honest. The only real thing that matters is a player’s ability, but there’s no true way to measure that outside of having that player in your raid and seeing how they perform.

Raid Ready doesn’t focus on iLevels or achievements to make it’s assessment of players or groups. Instead it takes the accumulated research on player stats and measures known good stats against the stats of players in your raid, allows for variance in stats to compensate for others and mathematically takes into account players who will make up for others in order to come up with an assessment that determines whether a raid can find success in the content they’re attempting. The idea is not to tell a raid leader that their raid will pull content off but to give them a better understanding of what they’re taking in so they can be better prepared and build strategies accordingly. This is really just a small part of what we intend to do but at it’s core this is what Raid Ready is.

So, I asked, it’s more about understanding the overall “talent” of a player, as opposed to his or her gearscore or total HP or DPS averages, right? Some way to determine how a player will likely perform overall, not just a stack of numbers that supposedly define them, right? Stubby replied:

Somewhat a look at talent. It does take some level of understanding of a class to be able to stat properly, but more to the point it’s about knowing whether the group as a whole based on the known required stats can pull off the task at hand. In that way, yes, our approach is much more holistic and takes the character into account over gear.

Very interesting – so we still don’t know how Raid Ready will do what they’re planning to do, but the concept is exciting regardless – imagine as a raid leader having the ability to understand the capabilities of your group and whether you have the right mix of talent, stats, and skills to get the job done, as opposed to just staring at some potentially non-representative piles of numbers that supposedly will help you make a judgement call on your own.

We’ll have to wait and see what the folks behind Raid Ready have up their sleeve, but the prospect is exciting, and the videos are more than entertaining!

Blizzard Comments on Tol Barad Balance Issues

There’s apparently been a great deal of discussion over the balance issues in Tol Barad – that they’re rough enough that there’s little incentive for anyone to try and take and to even bother to hold Tol Barad for their faction, and that overall the worst case is that no one’s actually PVP-ing in the zone and in best case factions are essentially win-trading on their servers to give everyone a chance to get the gear they want out of it.

Well, the furor has been rising on the official forums, and eventually Blizzard said that they would comment in a blog post on the issues and their plans for Tol Barad, and they made good on their promise yesterday:

Now that Cataclysm is out in the wild, more players are getting geared up and checking out Tol Barad, the new outdoor PvP zone. Today, we wanted to address some of the concerns players have expressed about the zone, including how challenging it can be to win as the attacking team, and provide some insight into our design approach. We also wanted to share some of the lessons we learned from Wintergrasp, discuss the difference between the two zones, and touch upon the recent hotfixes made to Honor Point gains and how we plan to improve Tol Barad going forward. We’re confident this zone will provide meaningful and fun PvP for some time to come, but we also recognize additional tuning is required to ensure Tol Barad is everything we intend it to be.

Cory Stockton, lead content designer for World of Warcraft, penned the blog post, and explained that while the situation isn’t where the developers really want it to be, it is closer than the community thinks it is. They do want the attacking team to have a really tough time taking Tol Barad, but they don’t want it to be neigh-on impossible as it seems to be now. Still, they think that a lot of people simply aren’t putting the right kind of effort into it, I think:

With that being said, we want winning Tol Barad to be a challenge for the attacking faction… but we don’t want it to be impossible. Taking Tol Barad should be tough — but right now it’s a little bit too tough, and it’s something we’re actively working to balance. Earlier, we attempted to temporarily address the issue by offering a far better reward to the winning attackers: Honor Points awarded for successfully attacking were increased tenfold, but that was such a great incentive that it ultimately undermined the spirit of competition. Since then, the reward for winning as an attacker has been brought back down to a more reasonable amount.

While we’ve already made minor adjustments to improve the gameplay and address select exploits, our job in Tol Barad is far from over. We ultimately want to make sure that any changes we make are all steps in the right direction, and we intend to make several updates in the next minor patch to address design and balance issues affecting attackers that we can’t address with hotfixes. For example, we plan to alter the battle slightly so that a team with two bases captured can more quickly and easily capture the third, as opposed to a team with one or zero bases. This way, if the defenders turtle up, it’ll be a little easier for the attackers to take their last base before the defense can take one of the attackers’ other bases.

He implies that the work is far from over and they do have some more ideas up their sleeve to make the zone more fun and more balanced for everyone to play. Now we’ll see if Blizzard delivers, or whether the community is just having a difficult time playing something that’s intentionally designed to be challenging.

4.7 Million Copies of Cataclysm Sold in the First Month

According to Blizzard, Cataclysm had quite the launch, selling 4.7 million copies in December alone, making it one of the best selling video games of all time. Here’s the word from the press release:

Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. today announced that World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™, the third expansion for the critically acclaimed massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG), has sold through more than 4.7 million copies as of its first month of release, setting a new record for monthly PC-game sales.*

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm was simultaneously released in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Europe, Russia, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand on December 7, and became available in Korea and the regions of Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau on December 9. With day-one sales topping 3.3 million copies,* World of Warcraft: Cataclysm became the fastest-selling PC game of all time, shattering the previous record, which was held by the second World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King®.

That’s a pretty big number. No doubt that the simultaneous global release had something to do with it, but honestly I don’t think anything else should have been expected. The game – like any Blizzard game or expansion pack – was highly anticipated, and we had been looking forward to it for ages.

The release goes on to point out:

“We created thousands of new quests, introduced new lands to explore, and extensively revamped the game world for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, making it our biggest and most ambitious expansion yet,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “We’ve been floored by the community’s response so far, and we’d like to thank them for their continued passion and support for World of Warcraft, and for helping Cataclysm reach this incredible milestone.”

Prior to the launch of Cataclysm, World of Warcraft’s subscriber population had grown to more than 12 million players globally, further strengthening the game’s position as the world’s most popular subscription-based MMORPG.

That does raise an interesting question though – only about a third of the overall population of the game is playing Cataclysm, in that case – so what’s everyone else doing? Waiting to buy the game, or what?

Then again, you could look at the flip side there and note that a third of the game’s population opted to pick up the latest expansion and features in the first month they were available, so there’s that too.

What about you? Have you purchased Cataclysm yet? Are you planning to? Let us know in the comments!

Celiebugs’ Raiding Tips

Having been shared all over the WoW-verse, as well as being shared on WoW Insider. I’ve read comments in various places where the link-backs are listed on different guild forums. I know it’s a little difficult to understand her, but the ease with which she says “nubcake” and “sad panda” mean that this girl hears these phrases and words on a regular basis. Celiebugs comes from a WoW home, where both mom and dad play WoW.

Celiebugs’ Raid Tips (as a link, since the youtube tag won’t work right)

And remember, above all else, don’t be a nubcake.

(If you think you’ve seen this here before, you did. I posted it once before Metblogs took a digger. I’m happy to see that it’s back up, and hopefully that means things can go back to normal. I apologize if this seems like old news, but I really wanted to share it with people.

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