Archive for the ‘factions’ Category

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.

Video :: Alliance v. Horde – Sex Change

Okay, now I admit that I have just as many female characters as male characters, but the reason for that is because I just prefer some of their character models – not because I base my gender identity on the gender of the virtual character in a game I play. There’s nothing wrong with that, right? I mean really!

I’m not looking for loot, or looking for anyone to treat me differently because my character is female or anything….although I have noticed it a couple of times…but that’s not the point!

In this hilarious video, we have someone who just recently switched factions, and decided – what the hey, they may as well switch genders too while they’re at it. The results? Hilarious.

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.

Faction Changes Now Available!

WoW Faction Patches

Word came down yesterday that Blizzard’s awaited faction-change character feature is now live and ready for users: quietly, in the middle of the night. Blizzard didn’t make a huge fuss over it, and even waited until today to post an announcement about it, but right there along with all of the other character change features you can request, like changing gender or server, is the faction change request button.

The faction change seems to also give you the opportunity to change whatever else about your character that you may want to at the time, including their appearance and gender, and as predicted, the faction change feature is also a race change feature; but you’re not restricted to certain races. You can choose any race of the opposing faction that supports your class.

You have the option to customize your character’s appearance just like at the character creation screen, and you can change your character’s name if you choose – all of those features are included in your $30 fee.

More interestingly is the way that Blizzard has handled mounts, achievements, and rep: it was somewhat predictable, but Blizzard has defined certain “opposites” that will impact what happens to your character when you change. You can read all about them on the Faction Change FAQ, for example the opposite “city” to Darnassus is Undercity, which implies that anything specifically Night Elf you have will become Undead if you go Alliance to Horde.

The Faction Change pages even allow you to test changing from one race to another to see how your items, rep, mounts, and achievements will convert.

We put the question to you guys a while ago but never get tired of hearing: What would make you change faction? Are you ready and rearing to pick up your sword and fight the horde instead of fighting along with them? Or perhaps you’re tired of being Alliance scum and want to kill some instead? Let us know in the comments!

Factions, Classes, Genders, Haircuts: Do Choices Matter Anymore in Azeroth?

ss04

With all the news about Cataclysm leaked, about race/class restrictions being eased or outright lifted, upcoming race/faction changes, and the fact that you can already pay to have your server changed, your character’s gender changes, Cadistra, author/artist of the webcomic WoW, Eh? brought up an excellent question over at Twitter (you can follow her @Cadistra, and I’m @halophoenix!):

Do choices matter anymore?

She’s got a point. The majority of the WoW community is incredibly excited for race and faction changes, and the ability to change them whenever you want (for a price, of course). We can already change servers whenever we land on one we don’t like. We can even change the gender of our characters if we decide that bulky Draenei male is too cumbersome to look at and would much prefer the swaggering tail-butt of a Draenei female, or if your male guild leader gets too much crap for playing a female character. It wasn’t such a big deal then, but she’s got an excellent point: don’t like your character’s appearance? Hit the barber shop and spend a little in-game money to change it. Don’t like your server? Transfer off. Don’t like your faction? Soon you can change it! Don’t like your race/class combo? Soon you’ll be able to make whatever you want!

While I don’t think anyone disputes that World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s game and they can change it as they see fit (and that the players reserve the right to pay for it or not pay for a game they do or do not like), there does seem to be a watering down of the restrictions that Blizzard put in place when the game was new. Now players can create Horde and Alliance characters on the same server even if it’s a PVP server – and players, especially old school ones, are realizing that some of the cherished walls that the game originally put up originally in order to make sure that when you created a character, you were making a commitment to something.

Now, with World of Warcaft up to 11 million subscribers and counting, Blizzard may be reducing the importance of those choices in order to provide flexibility to its player base, which may not understand or care about those commitments or the lore and story around them and are just in a mad rush to play, experience content, and get to the end-game raiding.

What do you think? It’s clear that the choices are being diluted, but do you think they still matter? Why do you think Blizzard is so ready to drop the barriers between races, classes, and factions now, of all times? Shout it out in the commnents!

New Expansion, New Races Leaked?

cataclysm_races_leak

So WoW.com had the scoop today: a full-on leak that the new expansion will be called World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, and two new races will be introduced in the expansion: Horde will get Goblins, and Alliance will get Worgen. Huge news, right? A massive leak, right?

Well, a number of World of Warcraft blogs and sites have been speculating this to be the case for a while now in separate theories. First, when Blizzard trademarked the phrase “Cataclysm,” speculation ran wildly high that the next expansion would be called Cataclysm. Then, when someone dissected models from a recent update and discovered that pretty high quality male and female Goblin and male and female Worgen masks had been added for the Halloween event, speculation ran wildly high that they would be the next two playable races to make their way into World of Warcraft.

So the rumor mill has been turning furiously for the past several weeks, if not months, to the point where the discussion is all but a cacophany. Is WoW.com correct? Their anonymous sources have been right before, so there’s no reason to doubt them other than the fact that this is a completely unverified leak – and I don’t say that sarcastically. Until there’s an announcement from Blizzard, this is just more speculation. And something I’ve learned the hard way from being in the technology profession (and being a particular fan of Apple, for example) is that there are certainly spoilers and leaks available all over the Web, and no matter how many images and evidence you may have to support them, any spoiler at any time can just as quickly become what’s called a “foiler,” of a seed planted by a company to drum up discussion, support, and attention in advance of a major event.

Could Blizzard be leaking this information to drum up anticipation prior to Blizzcon? Sure. Could they walk out on stage at Blizzcon and say something completely different about the next expansion? Absolutely. We just don’t know yet, and shouldn’t pretend that we do. That being said, I have incredible respect for WoW.com and if there’s anyone in the Warcraft blogging world I trust and believe about something like this, it’s them. So it’s a double-edged sword. If there’s any source I consider credible that’s not Blizzard, it’s WoW.com, but I don’t want to make plans for a Worgen hunter or a Goblin rogue just yet.

In any event, if this is the case, I’m incredibly curious what the lore behind this will be. Both races already have a pretty well defined and well laid-out history and story in the World of Warcraft, and while the Worgen are semi-new to the universe, Goblins have been around for a good long while. Even so, just because we can explain how the races got into the game doesn’t mean we can explain their faction choices – for example, the Worgen were initially summoned and controlled by a Night Elf and used as essentially a private army. They then revolted. Why would they side with the Alliance? The Goblins have long been neutral – will they continue to be, or will there be Goblin factions where some are neutral and others have chosen a side?

There’s obviously more room to play with the Worgen than the Goblins, since the Goblins are essentially already in the game, but there’s only so many ways you can work the Worgen into the Alliance. Will they be another Draenei-like faction where the playable ones are the “good ones” and some corruption has turned all the other ones you essentially slaughter en masse in Darkshire “evil?” Will the Scythe of Elune – the one you learn about in Darkshire and essentially wind up unwittingly handing over to the Worgen in Grizzly Hills (who seem to be a more sentient, sapient type of Worgen that can disguise themselves as humans when necessary) – play a role? Where will the starting zones be, and should we expect the opening of the Greymane wall and the unlocking of Gilneas? What about the Goblins – where will they start?

Alternatively, we could be faced with something a bit more dark and sinister – the Alliance may not retain is’t pearly white veneer in the new expansion – the Draenei joined the Alliance because they thought of them as the “good guys,” and the Blood Elves, as misguided as they were, joined the Horde out of convenience and because they kind of fit over there. Maybe this time the Alliance get the “bad guys” because of Varian Wrynn’s opportunistic desire to use any means necessary to destroy the horde – maybe the Worgen are still under the influence of the Scythe? Maybe the Goblins are tired of taking a backseat to the action and decide to side with the cause they see is more righteous. Who knows.

cataclysm_titans

To that end, what about the “Cataclysm” itself? Does the Cataclysm represent what we all expected it to be, and allude to the Sundering? Do we get to push back the Naga, now eager to raise themselves and their queen from the bottom of the sea under the Maelstrom to reclaim the land and crush all those who live above the surface? Do they have a far more sinister plot?

Perhaps the Cataclysm involves the words spoken by Loken when you kill him: “My death heralds the end of the world!” Effectively, in Ulduar, waiting for you is Algalon, who’s fight was described this way by Lesley Smith in a WoW.com post titled: “What Happens if Algalon Isn’t Defeated?” back in April:

Basically it goes like this: Algalon is an ethereal agent of the Titans, Azeroth’s creators. He’s detected the death of Loken (when Loken said: ‘My death heralds the end of the world’, he wasn’t kidding) and that Yogg-Saron has tried to escape his bindings. When you engage him, he is about to do a scan to determine whether Azeroth needs ‘reorganising’ by the Pantheon, his Titanic masters. Said scan takes an hour and you have that long to defeat him. If you fail he sends a signal and the fate of Azeroth is sealed.

Of course, some guilds have fought Algalon and won, others have lost and the timer runs out, but Azeroth is still here and the world hasn’t ended.

Or has it? I’m starting to think that the new expansion has more to do with this than anything else; since after all, when questioned on the forums about this very issue, about what the fate of Azeroth would be if Algalon weren’t defeated, CM Nethaera responded with this, quoted from the same WoW.com article:

[The] Results could be cataclysmic.

What Would Make You Change Faction?

one of these things is not like the other...

Now that Blizzard has announced that soon you’ll be able to change your faction, a lot of people are thinking about doing it and even more are talking about how it’ll work. Blizzard has all but said that you’ll have to either keep your class so you’ll only be able to change to a race that has that class, but they haven’t said if they’re doing one-to-one changes or any mage can choose an opposing race that supports mages.

Some guilds are talking about switching faction en masse – either to get better racial bonuses (horde to alliance) or to take advantage of high/low pop servers (a horde guild on a low horde pop server switching to a high horde pop server to find more people to recruit, for example), and other people are talking about switching just to get a chance to play with friends who are on the other side.

What about you? What would it take for you to take one of your characters now and change their faction as opposed to just leveling an alt of the opposing faction or rolling a death knight?

Faction Changes Coming to World of Warcraft!

WoW Faction Patches

This week brought some pretty significant changes to World of Warcraft: Blizzard has announced that Alliance players looking to switch to Horde and Horde players looking to join their Alliance friends will be able to soon…for a fee, of course. Currently players can choose to change their character’s gender or race – Blizzard says that soon you’ll be able to go from Horde to Alliance as well.

There are a lot of questions left around this announcement – word came out that it’ll eventually be possible, but it hasn’t been confirmed exactly how the changes will take place, how it will cost, or what will happen to faction-sepcific mounts, reputation, and gear.

Additionally, the biggest debate going around right now is whether race limitations will essentially go away and we’ll see humans walking around Orgrimmar and Blood Elves wandering Darnassus. Over at WoW.com, there’s a whole post about this: it would seem that it’s easiest for Blizzard to allow players to keep their races and their faction specific rewards and simply change their allegiances and rep, but I think it’s far more likely that Blizzard will choose certain races that are the compliment to each other, and players of once race will have to choose the complimentary race. (Draenei to Blood Elf, Human to Orc, Night Elf to Troll, for example) That way, Blizzard will have a direct method to map reputation, titles, achievements, mounts, and items.

At the same time, Blizzard could allow you to choose the race you’d rather play, as long as you can retain your class, and let the rest be damned. They could even just kill all of your old faction rep and force you to rep grind with your new faction. Anything’s possible, and we won’t know until more details emerge. Stay tuned!

What do you think will happen when Blizzard makes faction changes live? How much do you think it will cost? Let us know in the comments.

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