Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 4

The fourth round of questions and answers with the Blizzard developers on the official forums just wrapped up: this time the theme was centered around topics including weapons, armor, and overall gear and goodies. As with the last three, you can find the full thread here.

Weapons and armor tend to be pretty controversial topics, so the questions this time around are…uniquely interesting, although the devs picked some good ones to answer. Some of the ones I thought were specifically interesting:

Q: Is there any chance we could have caster weapons involved in casting animations? It would look cool to be holding a staff and casting a spell through it, at least as a customization option. – Dromanthis (NA/ANZ)

A: This is something we would dearly love to do. We agree that melee specs get to see their weapons a lot more often in combat while it’s easy for casters to forget about them. It’s definitely on the list, but understand that we have so many races now (and two sexes for all existing races) that the animations take more time to do right/well.

Okay, I know this one was the first question, but it’s one that I absolutely adore. Clearly one of the things that a lot of people love about other MMOs like Guild Wars, Rift, and even one of the things that less notable free-to-play games like to tout is their beautifully animated casting graphics. In some of those other games, you’ll see runes and symbols appear around the caster while they cast a spell, you’ll see their wand actually glow based on the spec they have or the spell they’re casting, you’ll see different looking spells emerge from their weapons – it can be pretty amazing and jealous-making.

Even so, in almost all cases, it’s one of those things that you love seeing but doesn’t really bring you anything new and interesting to the game. Still, it would be nice to have, and clearly the devs have it on their “want to do” list.

Q: Would it be possible for city quartermasters to sell the same equipment that guards wear? Stats wouldn’t matter. – Pokemonmasta (EU|English), Tajit (NA/ANZ)

A: Cool idea. We’ll talk about it.

Methinks someone just wanted a Night Elf wearing sentinel gear. Seriously – the sentinels were all over the marketing for Vanilla WoW, but that three-bladed weapon they’re seen with just doesn’t exist in the game!

Q: Will enchanters be getting back the ability to make wands? – Trustybee (Taiwan)

A: We have been discussing what role in the game wands are supposed to fill. We generally consider it a failure these days if a caster ever wants to wand for dps instead of using their spells. Working the wand into the cast animation (as in the question above) is one idea. In any event, we want to figure out what we want wands to do before we give them any more prominence.

Now THIS is interesting. While they stopped short of just saying that wands were failure, they did point out that it’s a failure if a caster has to resort to using a wand. That implies that there’s a “wrong way to play” a caster class, and that generally involves running out of mana to the point where you’re out of options to regenerate enough to remain effective. Yeah, that sounds like a pretty solid failure, but not necessarily on the dev side.

Even so, it’s almost like they’re saying wands are pretty much stat sticks that you use early in the game when they’re still effective per level and then afterward you’re so busy using your actual spells and abilities that they’re worthless for anything but a stat boost. I agree – that’s not a good place to be. Let’s see what they choose to do though: it looks like they want to rework how wands factor into the game before doing too much else with them.

Q: Do you have plans to make is so that the tabards don’t suddenly cut off whenever we wear long vestments? – Hôwl (Latin America)

A: This is a technical issue that’s fairly nasty to fix and ultimately trimming the tabard ended up looking better, at least as a short-term solution.

Hah! I used to explain to guildies that I was very sure this was technical and not a design decision – a tabard just moves and waves differently than robes and kilts do – if they tried to layer them on top of one another right now, you’d see – depending on the race, gender, and stance of the character, a tabard sticking out from under robes, or a corner of a kilt sticking out over a tabard while you run. It could be pretty nasty.

Q: Can we see gear won via need rolls become soulbound? – Lorinall (NA/ANZ)

A: Yes. We plan on implementing a system where winning an item via Need (when using the Dungeon Finder Need Before Greed loot system) will make a BoE item soulbound. We hope to have this working for the 4.2 patch.

To expand on that idea in case it’s not obvious, we don’t think players should be able to claim certain loot drops based on their class if their only intent is to sell the item. If you want to use the item yourself, awesome, go ahead and roll Need on it and you’ll get preference over players who can’t use that armor type. But if all you want to do is run to the Auction House, then everyone should have equal dibs.

Finally, finally, finally – a fix for people who roll on epic BoE items just to be able to sell them at inflated AH prices. It’s clear that Blizzard has heard the players loud and clear on this one, now let’s see how well its implemented. At the same time, this will put a dent in some of the high-end profits that some AH fans adore (go raiding with friends who are overgeared, pick up all of the BoE epics, auction them all, deposit profits into guild bank) and some lazy raiders (I have more gold than time, let’s see what purples are on the AH) but overall it’ll be a good change.

And there we have it! This one was a long one, and there were a number of other questions addressed in other Q&As or that yielded very “we want to do this someday” kinds of answers, but it’s clear that the Blizzard devs also play the game the same way we do, and want to see the game improve the same way we do. It’s really refreshing to see.

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No.3

The third round of Blizzard’s developer Q&A just finished, and most of the questions and answers this round focused on UI elements and usability changes. The questions and answers this time were really good for those folks who are passionate about the look and feel of World of Warcraft, and how players play and interact with the game. The full thread is here.

Here are a couple of the highlights, especially some of the questions and answers that I’m particularly enamored with, starting off with the “is it possible to raid without add-ons/are add-ons making the game too easy” question we hear all too often:

Q: Some Addons are so powerful they simplified the game content to a degree (e.g., boss fights). Do you think that when the majority are using these Addons, the original reasoning behind the game design is violated? And isn’t it unfair for players who don’t use Addons? – 冷影幽光 (Taiwan)

A: This really deserves a long answer. It sounds like a good topic for a future developer blog. To tide you over until then, we can say that some addons do a great job of providing information we really should be providing (and have long-term plans to provide).This includes information like threat, the distance you are from other players , when you have a killer debuff on you and things like that. On the other hand, when addons are too helpful, they are playing the game for you and you’re just doing what the addon tells you to do. When the mod tells you so much information about the fight that you don’t even really need to pay attention to what is happening in the world at all, then we feel that crosses the line. I don’t know that we could put the djinn back in the bottle at this point though. It would feel really harsh to prevent addons from tracking some of that information, and in some cases we’re not even sure how we would prevent it.

We continue to try and come up with new mechanics that ask players to pay attention to the fight itself instead of just pushing whatever button the addon tells them to push. You might be alerted to when Atramedes emits a Sonar Pulse, but you don’t know where it is going to be. Sinestra’s Twilight Slicer requires you to look at the battle field and not just your UI. To be fair, we are also trying to do a better job of telegraphing to players when bosses will use predictable abilities. The Conclave of Wind and Nefarian for example do their special abilities at predictable intervals along their resource or health bar.

It is a fine line to decide when an addon becomes mandatory. Ideally you could raid without any addons, and some players do. Information is often power in complex raid encounters though, and we agree that in some cases we don’t provide enough information yet. Does that mean Blizzard needs to replicate some of the screenshots produced by players who install thirty mods and completely overhaul their UI? Probably not. Our raid UI is a good example of what we are going for. It provides enough information for many players (and we have plans to add more to it overtime). It’s not going to incorporate the favorite feature of every raider out there, and for them, a very customizable third-party addon is a perfectly reasonable solution.

That’s fabulous – although unlike the devs, I don’t know anyone who raids without add-ons. In fact, I know more guilds who require them than that don’t, and the only people I know who raid without add-ons are the kind who are too stubborn to install them, simply don’t know how, or are perfectly okay skating along and letting other guild members carry them through raids and dungeons instead of contributing, but I’m sure there are some people out there who are more naturalist and prefer to simply play the game the way it was designed.

Q: Would you please implement a feature that allows players to change the order of their characters on the Character select screen? – 흑풍육손 (Korea), Fanahlia (North America/ANZ), Perle (Latin America)

A: Sure. Does 4.2 work for you? :)

And boom goes the dynamite!

That was the bulk of it – there are a couple of questions that I seriously can’t believe people asked, much less wanted: like the topic of being able to buy things directly from chat (an attempt to circumvent the limitations of mail/auction house location/player location in order to quickly buy things) and the whole “I’m tired of paging through mail to get items one at a time,” point.

I can identify a little more with the latter though, I understand how frustrating it can be, especially if you’re sending yourself items, to have to load up your bags and then mail items to yourself one at a time. At the same time though, there are add-ons (like Postal, for example) that allow you to streamline the process – and the people who know about those add-ons and use them are likely the ones who will get the most benefit: eg, the people who use the AH the most, or mail themselves lots of things frequently. Everyone else probably doesn’t care so much.

So what do you think? What would you ask the devs if you had an opportunity to ask them about user interface and gameplay questions?

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A, No. 2

Blizzard held another Q&A session with its developers recently, taking forum questions from interested parties, just like last time. Same as last time, you can read the whole set of questions and answers on the official forums, but we’ll take a look at some of the new and interesting ones:

Q: Why can’t we have a pure, straight up, unadulterated Death Match style Battleground? – ???? ???? (Taiwan), Gulantor (North America/ANZ)

A: We think Battlegrounds work better when there is a goal that the team can work towards. Huge melees with lots of players tend to be chaotic by nature so there is less room for skill to influence the outcome. It feels more random, and the more random the system is, the more arbitrary the rewards will feel. It might be something we try someday.

For example, emergency buttons are balanced around the assumption that only a few players are ganged up against you. Even in the 5v5 Arena bracket, it’s very difficult to survive being focused by so many players at once, so you feel like you don’t have many options. There is a reason that most of our Arena attention is on 3v3 – it just feels the best.

You know, I had been wondering about this one too back when I was spending more time in battlegrounds – some people would love the “in and out” nature of having a battleground they could hop into and hop out of just to grab some honor in a short period, and in a game that’s perpetually ongoing that they could play for as much free time as they have without worrying their departure will negatively impact a team.

At the same time, the sheer number of empty multiplayer game servers in the world kind of tell the tale that when there’s no one interested in playing that all-out deathmatch style game, the few people who do want to play would have a horrible time doing it – or worse, they’ll just give up because it’s not the epic experience they’d actually want. After all – I’m sure the people asking the question are thinking of massive 25 v. 25 battle arenas with fast re-spawning, not a 3 v. 3 match.

Q: CC used to be the big thing for arena, but now it’s all about damage. Is it the direction you are taking at the moment? – Thatis (Taiwan)

A: If crowd control really was as weak in Arenas as you’re claiming, then Holy paladins would be the healer of choice and Resto druids wouldn’t have much of a role. But the Entangling Roots and Cyclone of the druid make a huge difference in Arena, and we see a lot of healing druids.

Ultimately, we think there has to be a place for both crowd control and damage. It can be just as frustrating to be chained from a fear to a poly to a stun without having an answer as it can be to die to two dudes killing you in a few GCDs without an answer. We don’t want Arena in particular to be all about which comp has the best layering of crowd controls that don’t share diminishing returns, because that greatly lowers the number of viable comps out there (and why rogue-mage-priest dominated in earlier seasons). We have taken steps this season already to nerf both out of control damage and excessive crowd control for some classes.

The best thing you can do is just keep providing feedback when you think something is broken. Many other players will disagree with you, and at times so will we. The signal to noise ratio for PvP balance is frankly always going to be bad, and the design calls are extremely subjective. We are constantly amazed that some players playing very powerful specs perceive themselves as weak or interpret very gentle nerfs as soul-crushing. That doesn’t mean that we’re never going to listen, but it does mean the burden of convincing us something is broken is going to be high, probably higher than it is for PvE.

Ouch – holy blowoff, batman! Although I can’t say I disagree here. I think Blizzard is acquising the point that they’re paying more attention to damage, but they’re trying to strike the balance between damage and crowd control. I disagree that seeing a lot of resto druids somehow means that holy paladins aren’t the healers of choice in battlegrounds (that’s like saying “hey, the fact that a exists means there must be less of b,”) but I see their point. Balance is what’s important, and they’re always open to your feedback.

I hope the person asking the question got that same message, because I could see how the tone at the beginning is kind of a diss. A loving one, but a diss nonetheless!

Q: Can I hear your thoughts of the survival abilities of the Warlock on PvP? – Mccoll (Korea)

A: Overall, we think they’re fine. Warlocks in PvP often compare themselves to Shadow priest, and to be fair, Shadow priests have some very potent emergency buttons, particularly Dispersion. Warlocks have good self-healing (which also to be fair, was nerfed recently), abilities like Demonic Circle and fears that are good for both offense and defense. Once Shadow priests lose their defensive dispel capabilities, we think they will be less versatile and their entire package will be more comparable to warlocks.

I love this question only because it was asked. I remember the days when warlocks were unstoppable damage and destruction machines in arenas. If you had a lock on your team, you were pretty much guaranteed to win, and if you had one on your team and another on the other team, it came down to who had the most resilience. Thankfully, no more.

So – this set of Q&A questions were pretty heavy on the PVP side of things. If you’re a heavy PVP’er, what do you think of Blizzard’s responses and the questions they selected to respond to? What would you have asked if you had the opportunity? Leave us a comment and let us know.

Notes from the Blizzard Developer Q&A

Over at the World of Warcraft LiveJournal Community, eminent news source tchernobyl was kind enough to post the results of the latest Blizzard developer Q&A session, hosted over at the new official forums.

The whole post at LJ is here, but I’ve cut a few snippets I felt were particularly interesting:

Q: Are there any plans to update Outland and TBC zones to facilitate better level flow? – Atreydes (Latin America)

A: We think the flow of the zones works out well. It is true that you can finish the continents before hitting every zone because of the accelerated quest experience (further enhanced by mechanics such as heirlooms) but most players going back through the content on new characters seem perfectly happy to get through it faster than they did with their original character. What we don’t like is the strange way you go back in time when you go to Outland and Northrend and then back to the future (heh) when you go to the level 80-85 zones. That is definitely something we want to fix.

A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Russian players:

Q: Will the Outland and Northrend be “renewed”? Will there be new quests? – Мандрэйк (Europe [Russian])

A: Because we did those areas more recently than Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor, we don’t feel the same urgency to go update them. They just don’t have the level design and quest flow problems to the same extent as the original content. We recognize though that some players are getting awfully tired of Hellfire Peninsula, and we’d like to come up with a good solution there.

This one is of particular interest to me. While I agree that the biggest issue with Outland and Northrend is that the player feels like they’re going back in time when they’ve leveled and then move into those zones to continue leveling but somehow the events of the Cataclysm haven’t happened there yet, I’m just as concerned with level tuning and story that players are missing when they push through all of those zones just for the sake of racking up dings.

I think the content of TBC and WoTLK deserve more than just a slight tweak to get the characters to give a nod to the fact that old world Azeroth isn’t the same as it used to be: I’m not saying they need to be directly affected by the Cataclysm, and I’m not saying that quests need to be reworked or zones completely changed, but I do think that when you go into outlands you should see the fruits of the past several years battle against the Burning Legion, and when you go into Northrend now you should see at least a little progress from the results at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, even if it’s only to note that the war is still open on that front and there’s still work to be done.

Q: What is your favorite escape/distraction when you arent working on WoW? – Danksz (North America/ANZ)

A: We polled the entire World of Warcraft development team and included the most interesting, unusual, and potentially terrifying responses. They included: roasting my own coffee; hiking all over SoCal; gardening with yuccas and bamboo; building my own 3D printer; attempting to turn my living room into a live action scene from Tron using blacklights, stencils and a helluva lot of paint; autocross racing my sweet ride; board games (I have over 450 of them); being spinal tapped to Tumblr, Reddit and 4chan; mastering cooking (duck confit, breads, pastas, more breads); building Star Wars Lego sets; trying to control my computer using brainwaves and an EEG reader; plein air/outdoor watercolor painting; geocaching; hockey; painting miniatures; swing dancing; crafting old-time cocktails; running 5 / 10 Ks / mud runs; motorcycling; go; blending smoothies; skydiving; work on my Jaina/Varian fanfic; baking bread; playing drums; reading sci-fi; comics; playing WoW.

Sounds like a fun place to work! Or at the very least fun people to work with.

Q: Will the devs consider giving us reason to interact in the new world of cataclysm? We sit in cities waiting on queues. Theres little reason to leave the city gates outside of farming and archeology. The *main* cities feel alive, the world however feels quite dead. – Odiem (North America/ANZ)

A: While you’re leveling up your character and gathering professions, you’re more than likely interacting with the world plenty. World of Warcraft’s endgame has centered on dungeons, raids, Battlegrounds and Arenas for some time, so it’s natural that you spend more time in cities organizing and preparing for those group-based events. We do think there is more that we can do to promote compelling solo gameplay for max level characters, though. The 4.2 patch has a pretty epic questing experience involving the Firelands and we’re really excited to see how players respond to it.

A similar but slightly different question was asked by one of our Korean players.

Q: PvP realms are getting indistinctive from the PvE realm as players are not engaging into PvP contents, since they are not finding it attractive. The only difference from the PvE realm is that it’s possible to attack opponent around zones in Conflict. Is there any plan to strengthen the difference between PvP and PvE realms? – Soulcube (Korea)

A: We don’t think it’s that world PvP is unattractive, we just think it’s just the cumulative effect of a lot of changes we made to the game to meet other goals. For example, flying mounts are really cool and convenient, but they mean you are much less likely to stumble upon someone from the opposite faction while travelling. We considered teleportation a mandatory feature for Dungeon Finder to succeed, but then you are less likely to bump into an enemy outside of a dungeon. To get world PvP back in some form, we’d have to develop something like the Isle of Quel’danas: a non-flight zone that is not a sanctuary where players congregate to finish quests or earn rewards. We’ll think about ways to do something like that again in the future.

I can’t say I’m satisfied with the devs’ answer on this one. While I agree that there’s plenty of world interaction when you’re out and about and questing and gathering and boosting your professions, I think that the concern of PVP players is probably more serious for them than the devs are really picking up.

Back in the vanilla days, when mounts were both expensive and far off, and when beginner mounts were slow enough that you could still be ambushed on one successfully, it was pretty hazardous playing on a PVP server during those early levels. I remember trying to just quest as a poor level 25 Tauren Druid and getting repeatedly ganked in Stonetalon by level 60 Night Elves coming through the pass.

Admittedly, I moved on to play on PvE servers after that, but I understand how global combat is a core component of playing on a PVP server, and between flying in old world and earlier/faster mounts, it’s become all but a moot point.

Q: I think a lot of people would like to see some more options for inventory storage are there plans for any of the following? Bank slots/Equipment manager storage/Upgrade backpack/storage for costume, cosmetic, toys/tabard storage. – Shinysparkle (North America/ANZ)

A: We do have some storage solutions in the works. We’d like to convert tabards in particular to something like the current UI to manage titles. We don’t want to just keep giving players larger and larger bags in which to lose items. We’re focusing more on better ways to organize items.

Finally! A fix is coming for my tabard addiction!

Q: During the expansions released since vanilla, the specialities of the different classes were watered down more and more. By now, many classes can do almost everything and almost none is still special. Are there any steps planned to give the classes more “charisma”, so that they are more distinguished from each other and regain their special flair? – Blades (Europe [German])

A: Sometimes when players say “special flair” what they really mean is “something so awesome that everyone will have to take me.” We really don’t want to go back to that model, which just isn’t tenable in a game with 10-player raids and 30 different talent trees. We have no problem spreading around buffs and utility that we consider more-or-less mandatory, such as the battle rezes and raid buffs. At the same time, we think there are enough unique abilities out there to make the various talent trees shine. Shaman have a great interrupt with Wind Shear. Warlocks can get out of danger with Demonic Portal. Discipline priests can mitigate a lot of damage with Power Word: Barrier, but Unholy death knights have their own version in Anti-Magic Zone. We struggle a lot with how much homogenization is good for the game, largely so that you can play with your friends, and how much is bad for the game, because then your character feels less special. It’s something we’ll continue to work on in an attempt to strike that perfect balance.

I really REALLY like the answer to this question. A lot of players who have been around for a long time miss the days when people formed their raid or dungeon groups because specific classes had “ubertalents” that were so good in the situations the raid would put you in that you absolutely wanted to have them – and it made the people who played that class feel uber as well.

In reality, that’s indicative of a lack of balance, and I’m glad that Blizzard is trying to strike a line between giving people talents that feel epic and important without being essential to specific – or every – encounters.

So what do you think? Blizzard developers took this one in stride, I think – and there were some great questions. I don’t think this will be the last dev Q&A that the developers do, so stay tuned for more in the future. What would you ask Blizzard developers if you had the chance? Sound off in the comments.

What’s Your Favorite WoW Weapon?

Each week over at The Blog Azeroth Forums, the community comes together around a shared blog topic – interested WoW bloggers can pick up the topic and make posts on their own sites to respond to it, and all of the responses are collected and linked at “What Is Your Favorite Weapon?” is this week’s topic!

This week’s shared topic over at Blog Azeroth was a particularly fun one to think about. Kallixta asked the group:

I was comparing a new upgrade to my older item when it struck me how much I liked my old item. Like is wonderfully subjective and I hope others will explain their measure.

Is your favorite weapon something with strong memories for you? Is it something that just works well for RP purposes? Or maybe the balance of abilities meshes better than normal to your spec and play style?

Admittedly, I don’t do much RP, and I’m not exactly an endgame high-end raider who doesn’t have time to think about the looks and story behind a weapon because he’s too busy min/maxing to care, so I think I’m right there in the middle with those players who have fallen in love enough with a couple of his items that they simply won’t ever leave the bank. Here are a couple of them.


The Best Gifts for World of Warcraft Players

My friend Brian Heater over at PC Mag asked my input for a feature that he was putting together at a blog that I also contribute to, Gearlog, called The Best Gifts for World of Warcraft Players.

Now now, I just gave him some ideas, he assembled the list and penned the piece all by himself, and you have to admit, he did well, and he doesn’t even play! You can bet that if someone just “happened” to get me anything on that list for this year’s holiday season, they’d have a very very happy WoW player on their hands.

What’s on the list? Some of the items you can probably guess (like our little plush Murloc friend above,) but there are a few new items in there worth thinking about for the gamer on your list – or things worth putting on your wishlist if you’re looking for a Warcraft-themed gift under your tree/menorah/shrub/etc this year. Head on over and check it out!

Steelseries Unveils New World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Gaming Mouse

Steelseries already has the license for the original SteelSeries Special-Edition World of Warcraft Mouse, and while the mouse looks really sharp, it got somewhat mediocre reviews from users and the gaming community for being more flash than substance.

Even so, the mouse was fairly popular, especially with World of Warcraft players looking for gear that reflect our collective favorite hobby. Now, Steelseries is at it again with an updated version of the mouse for Cataclysm, the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Special Edition MMO Gaming Mouse.

The new model features an updated optical sensor on the underside and a redesigned button layout that still gives you 14 programmable buttons, and with 10 programmable profiles that each have their own color – that way you can tell at a glance at the mouse which profile is active. Perfect if you want to program different buttons to different character macros.

Admittedly, the new mouse looks really sharp, but it’ll take a pretty solid effort for Steelseries to overcome the last one and to make a dent in the love that a lot of people have for Logitech’s gaming mice and even Razer’s Naga MMO gaming mouse, which sports over a dozen number buttons on the side just for MMO players.

Oh – it’s worth mentioning that Blizzcon attendees will be able to score one of these long before the rest of us – it’ll be up in the Blizzard store at the con. The rest of us will have to wait for December 7th, when the mouse will show up on store shelves…right next to copies of Cataclysm, no doubt.

Massive Cataclysm Badge and PVP Changes Incoming

Massive changes came down the line in a blue post last night with regard to the way we’ll be buying gear in the future: almost all badges for PvE and PvP gear, and personal ratings for PvP gear will be going away. Instead, there’ll be new point systems based entirely on numbers and not necessarily items that drop from bosses, for example.

Here’s the skinny from Bashiok on the forums yesterday:

We’re continuing to refine the badge/emblem and PvP point systems in Cataclysm and we’d like to share some of those changes with you today. Please enjoy!

Our primary goal when approaching badges in Cataclysm is to address a lot of the confusion that comes with these currency systems. To that end we’re changing badges to a more straightforward point system, similar to the ones we’ve used for a while for Arenas and Battlegrounds. There will be a total of four types of points you can earn in Cataclysm (two for PvE and two for PvP), and these will remain the same even as we introduce new content.

Here’s the breakdown:

Hero Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most dungeons. (most like the current Emblem of Triumph)
Valor Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvE points. Maximum cap to how many you can own, as well as a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from Dungeon Finder daily Heroic and from raids. (most like the current Emblem of Frost)

Honor Points — Low-tier, easier-to-get PVP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, but no cap to how quickly you can earn them. Earned from most PvP activities.
Conquest Points — High-tier, harder-to-get PvP points. There will be a maximum cap to how many you can own, and a cap to how many you can earn per week. Earned from winning Rated Battlegrounds or Arenas. (currently called Arena Points)

When a new tier of raiding gear is released or a new PvP season begins, your higher tier of points will be converted into the lower tier. For instance, if a new tier of raid gear is released, your Valor points will be converted to Hero points, and similarly if a new PvP season begins your Conquest points will be converted to Honor points. Of course that means with these new releases you’ll always begin without any of the higher tier of points, and thus be unable to stockpile them.

As noted for Conquest points, the Rated Battlegrounds and Arenas will be sharing this same point type. Because of that, it will in fact be possible to get the best PvP items without setting foot in Arena; however, more powerful armor and weapons will of course require more Conquest points, so players who win their matches more often will still gear up faster. We’re removing personal rating requirements on almost all items; they’re definitely removed for weapons. We might offer a few items to the absolute best players based on personal rating, largely as cosmetic or ‘bragging rights’ type items. And you’ll have the option of purchasing the previous season’s gear with the more readily available Honor points.

We do plan to have a way to convert Honor points (PvP) into Hero points (PvE), and vice versa, at a loss. The conversions will be possible, but it won’t be a 1:1 rate, and you’ll have fewer points after the conversion process. We won’t allow the higher tiers to be exchanged for each other, however.

To explain the reasoning for the weekly cap on points for the higher tiers, this is to provide flexibility in how players choose to earn the points without feeling like they have to do all of the content as often as it is available. If your Valor income from raiding is sufficient, you may not feel the need to run Dungeon Finder every night, or perhaps even at all. Likewise, a PvP player could choose to participate in a lot of Rated Battlegrounds but no Arenas, or focus on both, and still be able to earn the points they want.

We realize that with any changes to progression pathways there are going to be questions. We’re eagerly awaiting any that we may have left unanswered. To the comments!

In the end, there’ll be four different kinds of “points:” hero and valor for low and high-quality PvE items, and honor and conquest for low and high-quality PvP items, respectively. No more badges, no more badge trade-ins, no more marks of honor or honor points and then arena points, no more worrying if one type of badge will be phased out in the next patch, and so on. In the end it’ll be all about collecting those kinds of points by doing the activities that earn them, like heroic versus regular dungeons, arenas versus battlegrounds, and so on.

The changes should make things much simpler, but at the same time it opens the door to oversimplification – considering it’s all virtual, aren’t points the same as badges anyway? Even so, it’ll definitely make the process of getting gear and figuring out how to acquire the gear your really want much much simpler.

What do you think about the changes? Sound it out in the comments!

Rawr Helps You Plan Your Gear Upgrades


Back in the BC days it was easier to plan your gear upgrades – there were certain well agreed-upon items that were clearly best-in-slot, and just about every class knew which instance they should head to in order to get specific upgrades. With the flurry of 5-man instances, the addition of a couple of 10-man instances, and new hard-modes and heroics where the gear that drops from the same instance is of higher quality, it’s a little more difficult these days to really plan out your upgrades, especially if you’re looking at getting the gear required to get into some of those 25-man hard-modes.

Thankfully there’s Rawr, a tiny little portable app that you can use to test out upgrades, various enchants and gems, and to see how your stats will be affected if you choose one piece of gear over another potential one. Since Rawr is completely portable, once you download it you can drop it on a USB flash drive and carry it around with you. You may need to do the extensive Armory or WoWhead update once to make sure you have all of the source information for all of the items correct, but once you’ve done it, you can load your character from the Armory and see what items make the most sense for your character.

The video above is pretty long, but it’s an incredibly detailed tour of the application and all of the things you can do with it. Now that getting badges and getting geared up is as simple as running a few random dungeons using the Dungeon Finder, it’s more important than ever to know whether or not you want something when it drops from a boss, and to know what you should get when you have a bag full of badges and no idea what to spend them on. Download the app and give it a try!

World of Warcraft SteelSeries Gaming Mouse

I heard a little while ago that SteelSeries, makers of fine gaming mice and mouse peripherals, were planning on making a Blizzard approved World of Warcraft gaming mouse. Well, the SteelSeries WoW MMO Gaming Mouse is here and available for pre-order, and can be yours at some indetermined release date for the price of $99.99.

That’s not terribly much to pay for a gaming mouse if you’re used to paying a premium for gaming peripherals, and especially not terribly much more than other gaming mice if you’re used to SteelSeries’ pricing model and if you’ve paid for Blizzard-branded gear before (remember the Dell World of Warcraft branded laptop?).

The mouse itself touts the ability to create up to 160 character macros that can be toggled using only the mouse, a total of 15 programmable buttons on the mouse, and glowing lights that shine out from angular slots on the front of the mouse like the thing’s shielding your vision from something radioactive. The lighting itself can be customized for brightness and intensity, the colors can be tweaked – hell, SteelSeries claims you can customize just the lighting in 16 million ways, with 3 illumination levels. You can even turn on effects that make the lights pulse slowly while the mouse is plugged in and on.

Engadget took the SteelSeries WoW Mouse for a spin and thought it was pretty good all things told. The programmable buttons and macro capabilities are Windows-only, so Mac users playing WoW are a little out in the cold this time around, but SteelSeries claims they’re working on a solution for the Mac users.

The problem however popped up when I read an interesting post over at the venerable WoW Insider today that explained that the programmable macros and scripting functionality for the mouse are very clearly against Blizzard’s EULA and TOS for World of Warcraft.

This is a pretty serious problem, and reminds me (as it does the poster at WoW Insider) of the trouble that turned up with the Logitech G15 gaming keyboard when it was released; owners of G15 keyboards found themselves getting their accounts locked and banned just for using the scripting and macro functionality that came with their device.

The difference here is that the SteelSeries WoW Mouse is actually Blizzard supported and World of Warcraft branded – that implies that Blizzard is being contradictory with regard to its stand on macros and scripts; although it’s likely a case of development talking with one hand and marketing talking with another. The marketing folks who agreed to the partnership with SteelSeries probably didn’t even bother to consider whether the functionality of the device would be a problem for operations and development, and that unfortunately leaves the poor folks in ops and customer service with nothing to do but repeat the rules and tow the company line.

In any event, if you plan to pick up the SteelSeries WoW Mouse, take heed of the negative reviews that WoW Insider received as well as the positive endorsement from Engadget – I can’t speak to the DPI of the mouse itself because none of its literature (and the Engadget review unfortunately) all leave that information off of their descriptions, but if I were looking for a sharp looking new mouse, this one would be pretty tempting, even at just under a hundred bucks. If you do pick it up though, keep an eye on those macros until SteelSeries and Blizzard get things sorted out.

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