Posts Tagged ‘news’

Thrall, Ysera, and Others Get New Models!

Wowhead found a treat for us in the most recent Cataclysm model update, including some new models for Ysera, Thrall, and the Guardian of the Ancient Kings! Also in the new update, models for tons of new drakes and mounts, a new surveying tool that will be used with Archeaology, and more. Ysera’s model is above, although right now she’s essentially a recolor of Sylvanas with some horns added – it’s likely she’ll see a few more tweaks before release. After all, Alextraza is based off of the same model that Sylvanas is, but they’ve both been tweaked a bit so you can definitely tell them apart.

There are tons of NPC and other object models as well, including weapons and guild items, so it’s worth looking at if you’re curious what the visual dynamic in Cataclysm will resemble.

Cataclysm Collector’s Edition Announced, Available for Pre-Order

And so it begins!

Kotaku reports that details on the Collector’s Edition for World of Warcraft: Cataclysm have surfaced, and like all of the collector’s editions before it, will have a boatload of goodies inside to sweeten the pot that you’ll be spending $79.99 to purchase.

In addition to the in-game pet you’ll get with the purchase of the Collector’s Edition, you’ll also get the customary artbook, behind-the-scenes DVD, and full CD soundtrack of the music of the game. Here’s the rundown from Blizzard:

· Art of the Cataclysm art book, featuring 176 pages of never-before-seen images from the archives of the Blizzard Entertainment cinematics department and the World of Warcraft development team, as well as progressive visuals from multiple stages of development.

· Exclusive in-game pet: he may not be a breaker of worlds just yet, but Lil’ Deathwing will still proudly accompany heroes on their struggle to save Azeroth from his much, much larger counterpart.

· Behind-the-scenes DVD with over an hour of developer interviews and commentaries, as well as a special Warcraft retrospective examining the rich gaming history of the Warcraft universe.

· Soundtrack featuring 10 epic new tracks from Cataclysm, including exclusive bonus tracks.

· Special-edition mouse pad depicting Deathwing menacing the ravaged continents of Azeroth.

· World of Warcraft Trading Card Game cards, including a 60-card starter deck from the Wrathgate series, two extended-art cards, and two Collector’s Edition-exclusive hero cards, marking the first appearance of goblin and worgen heroes in the TCG.

The one thing that Kotaku fails to mention is that the Collector’s Edition is already available to pre-order at Amazon! Don’t worry, if you’re not interested in the Collector’s Edition of the game, the Standard Edition of Cataclysm is available to pre-order as well!

One thing to note though is that Amazon is clear that you’re pre-ordering a product that hasn’t been released and doesn’t have a set release date – while we’re all sure that Blizzard is aiming at a 2010 release of Cataclysm, they’re not tipping their hand to exactly when that will be. Even so, get your pre-orders in now, especially if you want the Collector’s Edition.

Cataclysm :: Stockades Preview

I should probably consider this a spoiler, but – it’s too much fun not to share with everyone, and it’s not really much of a lore spoiler anyway.

In the Cataclysm beta, one of the dungeons that’s being re-worked for new levels and to reflect all of the changes that have taken place in Azeroth is The Stockades – and over at World of Raids they had a preview of the new dungeon last week that reveals some interesting new bosses in Stockades (yes, there will finally be BOSSES in The Stockades, that drop real loot!) including one fugitive gnoll above who’s finally coming into his own – Hogger!

Apparently thanks to the effects of Deathwing breaking free of his prison, the Stormwind Stockades has suffered a little damage and just as the guard was starting to regain control of the area, a number of new prisoners and areas of the prison have opened up, with the imprisoned running free. Of course, you’ll have to revisit your roots and head back in to put the resistance down and restore order to Stormwind, but there’ll be a bit more in store for you this time around, including three new quests and three new bosses!

Discussion :: How Do You Feel about Cataclysm Spoilers?

We’ve been tempted here several times to discuss some pretty significant Cataclysm spoilers – a lot has come to light now that the beta invites have started flowing and more and more people have been getting their accounts, logging in, and working their way through the quest chains. Some of those spoilers and videos have been so good that I’ve been actively trying not to post them, even though a number of other sites have (I know, I could just post them behind jumps, but still, that just increases the temptation to click, you know?)

So what do you guys think? Are Cataclysm spoilers just unavoidable at this stage in the game? Is there any hope for anyone who wants to install the expansion when it’s released and play it all through seeing all of the sights and reading all of the stories for the first time ever? Or are you holding out hope that there are some community sites that haven’t resorted to posting spoilers, even though we may talk about Cataclysm anyway?

To that end, should we go ahead and post videos and reports from the beta that may contain spoilers? (under a cut, of course!) Let’s hear your thoughts about spoilers (and of course, whether we should post them) in the comments!

Blizzard Lifts Cataclysm NDA, Closed Beta Begins

The rush of information is on, and the hunt for beta keys begins!

Last night, Blizzard made two huge announcements: first, that the NDA over Cataclysm and the Friends-and-Family Alpha have been lifted, and people who have been participating up to this point are free to discuss their experiences and the development of the game up to this point. Second, Blizzard announced that the closed beta for Cataclysm has officially begun, and that Battle.net account-holders who have signed up for the beta will begin getting their invites as the beta pool is defined and slowly expanded over time.

Here’s the official word, from this Blizzard press release:

BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT BEGINS CLOSED BETA TEST
FOR WORLD OF WARCRAFT®: CATACLYSM™

IRVINE, Calif. – June 30, 2010 – Blizzard Entertainment announced today that the closed beta test for Cataclysm™, its highly anticipated new expansion for World of Warcraft®, has begun. The company has started issuing invitations to participate in the testing process to a wide range of players from around the world who signed up via their Battle.net® accounts. While enjoying an early look at the game, beta testers will provide valuable feedback to help Blizzard Entertainment find bugs, address balance issues, and polish the new content.

“Our focus with Cataclysm has been to build on the knowledge we’ve gained through the previous expansions to deliver the best, most compelling World of Warcraft content for our players to date,” said Mike Morhaime, CEO and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment. “Gathering focused feedback during the beta test will go a long way in helping us reach that goal when we launch Cataclysm later this year.”

Cataclysm is the third expansion for World of Warcraft, the most popular subscription-based massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world. The first two expansions, The Burning Crusade® and Wrath of the Lich King®, each shattered PC game sales records upon their release. In Cataclysm, the face of Azeroth will be forever altered by the return of the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing. Players will explore once-familiar areas of the world that have now been reshaped by the devastation and filled with new adventures. In an effort to survive the planet-shattering cataclysm, two new playable races — worgen and goblins — will join the struggle between the Alliance and the Horde. As players journey to the new level cap of 85, they’ll discover newly revealed locations, acquire new levels of power, and come face to face with Deathwing in a battle to determine the fate of the world.

For more information on World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, please visit the official website at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/cataclysm. To set up a Battle.net account and sign up for a chance to participate in the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm beta test, please visit the official Battle.net website at http://www.battle.net.

About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft® and the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® series, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes eleven #1-selling games and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online-gaming service, Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.

It’s on now, kiddies! With the drop of the NDA, we’re sure to see a rush of information about the items in the game and the features that have already been rolled in, and with the opening of the beta to select users, we’ll start seeing invite horsetrading begin and more people posting their opinions, sights, sounds, and thoughts about the game, the new zones, and the dungeons. Just as a teaser, WoWhead has already unveiled their Cataclysm database of items, quests, NPCs, and zones! Granted, it’s by no means complete, since beta invites just started flowing, but expect it to grow soon!

Stay tuned! We’ll try to get our hands on beta invites so we can bring you first-hand screenshots and analysis from the beta!

Blizzard to Begin Throttling Inspect Requests: The End of GearScore?

Rumors were flying at the end of last week that Blizzard would begin throttling server information requests, like inspection requests used by mouse-over add-ons that look at the gear of the player being examined piece by piece – like the infamous GearScore.

Just as soon as the rumors started to hit the boiling point and people on both sides of the discussion were claiming hallelujah, this was the end for GearScore or alternatively, how dare Blizzard target GearScore with a change like this, Nethaera made a post on the official forums to both confirm the point and clarify the reasoning behind it:

It’s important to understand that the throttling that is being done isn’t intended to break any functionality of add-ons, but merely to control the amount of queries that are being sent to the server at any given time. (Thus throttling the queries.) The queries will still occur, it just won’t happen as quickly as they currently seem to. You can read the statements that WoW Ace and WoW Interface have up for a bit more information on these changes. We wanted to give mod authors a heads-up prior to making the change so that they could make any adjustments they needed to on their mods.

http://wowinterface.com/forums/showthread.php?t=33432
http://www.wowace.com/announcements/blizzard-to-start-throttling-inspect-requests/

Nethaera makes a great point. I try to keep a technical eye on the machinations behind the scenes at Blizzard (see Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched: A Technical Perspective) and the rationale makes sense. While I don’t think that GearScore alone is breaking the game – which is the defense that some people are raising – I think that the proliferation of add-ons that query the game servers regularly in rapid succession can definitely drag down overall performance, and it wouldn’t take too many people running the same series of add-ons regularly that insist on querying the servers for in-game information that the default UI traditionally doesn’t make available (especially on-mouseover) to drag down server performance for everyone.

Still, what do you think? Is this the end of GearScore and add-ons like it, or will their developers simply find ways to adapt over time? Are you glad to see add-ons like these go, or are they just valuable tools that people are using poorly? Sound off in the comments!

The Midsummer Fire Festival is Here!

Midsummer Fire Festival - Courtesy Flickr User: Ulalume

Yesterday marked the beginning of what I’ve mentioned before is my favorite in-game holiday in the World of Warcraft, the Midsummer Fire Festival. There’s just something about riding around on your mount or flying around Outlands and putting out fires and honoring other fires and collecting blossoms and everything that I just love.

Or it could just be that I like fiery things, who knows. But it also plays into why I tend to love the Lunar Festival so much too, because it involves much of the same activities. Still, the Fire Festival is here and in full swing, and the loot table has changed up a bit this year – the Scorchling is gone this year, and in its place is the Frigid Frostling.

Speaking of such things, Ahune’s loot table has been changed up, and now that holiday dungeons are included in the Dungeon Finder, there’s no reason for you to not get out there and pick up some of his sweet new gear from his recently uplifted loot table.

Are you angling for some new gear, or do you already have your Flame Keeper/Flame Warden title and pet? Are you going to be collecting blossoms, maybe on an alt this time around? Let us know in the comments!

Today’s the Day: Patch 3.3.5 is Live!

So today’s the day: Patch 3.3.5 is going live, what many people think is going to be one of the last few patches before the release of Cataclysm. Still, this patch brings more to it than just some bug fixes and updates – there are two big reveals in 3.3.5, the new Assault on the Ruby Sanctum dungeon, and the implementation of the Real ID system, which brings Battle.net further into the game and allows you to integrate friends from across realms and factions into your friends list, stay in touch with them, and find out when they’re playing – even if they’re not playing on your server.

Here’s the lowdown:

World of Warcraft Client Patch 3.3.5

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

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

Assault on the Ruby Sanctum

For ages the red dragonflight and its noble matriarch, Alexstrasza the Life-Binder, have dedicated themselves to preserving all life on Azeroth. Recently, the very heart of this virtuous dragonflight has come under threat.

An eerie silence has settled over the Ruby Sanctum, the red dragonflight’s sacred lair within the Chamber of the Aspects. This troubling development has led to fears that the sanctum, home to Azeroth’s largest clutch of red dragon eggs, has been breached by an unknown, sinister force. If these claims are true and immediate action is not taken, the benevolent red dragonflight might be crippled forever.

Real ID: A New Way to Connect With Your Friends on Battle.net

One of our goals for the new Battle.net is to create the framework for an online gaming experience that is even more accessible, more engaging, and more entertaining than the previous Battle.net. The newly released Real ID feature, available to World of Warcraft players as part of patch 3.3.5, is an integral part of this effort, providing you with advanced ways for forming and maintaining meaningful relationships with your friends on the service.

Real ID is a completely voluntary and optional level of identity that keeps players connected across all of Battle.net. When you and a friend mutually agree to become Real ID friends, you’ll have access to a number of additional features that will enrich your social gaming experience in new and exciting ways. Go here for more details.

General
* The Ruby Sanctum, an all-new 10- and 25-player raid dungeon featuring normal and Heroic difficulties, has been added! Players will find the dungeon entrance below Wyrmrest Temple in Dragonblight. Please note due to the way this patch is being applied in all regions, this dungeon will not immediately be available in North America. Stay tuned to our General Discussion forum for an official announcement on the opening of the Ruby Sanctum.

* The functionality of the Vote Kick feature in the Dungeon Finder will now behave differently according to a player’s history with the system. Players using the Dungeon Finder who rarely vote to kick players from a group, or rarely abandon groups before a dungeon is complete, will find that the Vote Kick option will have no cooldown. For players who frequently abandon groups or vote to kick other players, the Vote Kick option will be kept on a cooldown. This functionality will adjust itself as a player’s behavior while using the Dungeon Finder changes.

User Interface

* Chat Frame

  • Players can now right-click on any chat type (Whisper, Trade, General, Party, Raid, etc.) and choose to move conversation types into separate windows. This will move that chat type to a separate tab in the Chat frame which can be undocked and moved anywhere on the screen.
    Using the Move to Whisper Window option on a Whisper will place the conversation with that player in a separate tab.
  • Any time a conversation with another player is put into its own tab, the tab will glow when a new message is received.
  • Hovering over the Chat Frame and using the mouse wheel will allow players to scroll through chat text.
  • Players can select Classic Mode under Interface Options to keep the Chat Frame functionality closer to what it was prior to patch 3.3.5.
  • The Simple Chat User Interface option has been removed.

* Friends List

  • A new icon has been added to the top left of the Chat Frame which will open up the Friends list.
  • In addition to its current functionality, the Friends List will now allow players to add Battle.net accounts (Real ID). Players will have to confirm that they are friends in order for a Real ID to be added. Once Real ID friends, players can communicate cross-game, cross-faction and cross-realm.
  • A new Pending tab has been added where players can accept or decline a Real ID friend request, or select the Report Spam or Block Communications buttons.
  • Players can now select from three statuses which will be visible to their friends: Available, Away and Busy.
  • A Broadcast window has been added to the top of the frame. Players can use this to broadcast a message to all of their Real ID friends online. This message will also be displayed under the broadcaster’s Real ID information in each friend’s list.

* For additional notes on Lua and XML changes please visit the UI & Macros forum.

It’s always fun to see what interesting little tidbits Blizzard sneaks into the patches for us. For example, the chat frame mods may very well make add-ons like Chatter completely useless for those of us who actively use them, but we’ll have to wait and see what the effects of the patch really are before I can call that.

Even so, RealID is the big story of the day, and once the servers are back up and everyone has the patch installed, I’m sure we’ll see the fallout from RealID very very quickly – whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. So far it looks like Blizzard is putting the right privacy options in place to keep just anyone from knowing who you are on every realm you play, but it’s still going to be interesting to see how it all turns out.

News and Thoughts from the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Press Tour

Blizzard took the media on a whirlwind tour of some of the new features and changes coming in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm at the end of last week, and dropped a few bombshells that were worth paying attention to, especially for those who are looking forward to the expansion based on information that’s been previously provided. The bulk of the details are over at MMO Champion’s post about the tour, but there are some significant changes worth highlighting here:

Path of the Titans is gone
The whole Path of the Titans idea has been removed from the game. It will no longer rely on Archeology or on any kind of PvE/PvP progression and instead Blizzard will just introduce a new type of glyphs: Medium Glyphs.

Medium Glyphs will add a “fun factor” to abilities, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see something similar to the Fortification or Breakthrough glyphs first previewed during Blizzcon 2009. (But probably not these exact glyphs, a lot of stuff happened since last year)

Guild Talents are gone
The guild talents are gone and your guild now gets extra bonuses depending on its level. There are 25 levels and each level will automatically reward with more cool stuff. The leveling process remains unchanged and your guild will gain experience through PvP, Dungeon and Raid progression, questing, etc …

Guild currency has also been removed and rewards will just be “unlocked” after you reach a specific level or complete a guild achievement. Once a reward is unlocked, members will be able to purchase it with gold. Some of the rewards include guild tabards, mounts, heirlooms, and it looks like you will finally be able to have a guild tabard on your mount. (Just like the Argent Tournament banners)

New members of a guild won’t be able to buy everything directly, they will have to contribute to the progression of the guild before they can access the top rewards. Each time a player helps towards the leveling he will gain reputation with the guild, the best rewards will require players to be exalted with their guild before they can buy it.

Archeology will be less important
With the Path of the Titans gone, Archeology will become a “true” secondary profession and you won’t really have to level it anymore. However it will still be used to let you get cosmetic/optional items, get more information on the game’s lore, and ultimately it looks like we can expect rewards similar to fishing. (Nothing mandatory, but you’ll be happy when you actually find something)

Information gathered from other sites:
You will find two types of items: Common Artifacts will give you more information on the lore of a race, and might be used in some kind of collection game. Rare items will give you usable items, most of them will be cosmetic but some of them will have actual effects.

I have to admit, I’m pretty disappointed by this spate of news. I thought that Path of the Titans, Guild Talents, and Archeology all sounded like a lot of fun and I was looking forward to all of them being in the game and playing an integral role in the way that guilds and groups evolved. I also thought that these changes were finally going to do something to shake up the way Guilds are made and operate in the game, and I’m afraid that with so many of the guild-wide changes removed we’ll just go back to the way guilds are now; an implementation that I think could use some serious improvement and encouragement from Blizzard.

That’s the bad news, but there is good news:

Raids and Dungeons Split
Raid leaders will be able to split an ongoing 25-man raid into up to three 10-man raids. Those 10-man raids will be able to continue from that point on, with bosses already down.

So far it looks like it won’t be possible to merge 10-man raids into 25-man raids, for obvious reasons.

Information gathered from other sites:
Raid IDs should be much more flexible. You will be able to join any raid as long as it doesn’t have any bosses up that you have already killed.
There will be more Algalon-style encounters—ultra-hard optional bosses for hardcore players only.

Rated Battlegrounds
Rated battlegrounds will be available for pre-mades of 10, 15 and 25-player sizes. The amount of Conquest points rewarded will be capped so that players who enjoy both arenas and rated battlegrounds don’t feel they have to prioritize one over the other.

Information gathered from other sites:
The classic Honor titles will be coming back and rewarded to the top teams each season.
The “Gladiator” equivalent teams will also receive epic ground mounts. Ground mounts because they want to reward something you can ride in the battleground and be proud of / show off.

Now that’s pretty cool – and the new raids and instances look cool too. It sounds like a lot of the changes they’re making as far as rated battlegrounds and guild achievements will help alleviate the loss of some of the more interesting guild talents and features that I was looking forward to. Additionally, the changes to raids and lockouts will encourage more people to get involved and will allow people to progress without having to reconvene raids multiple times if they don’t get all the way through somewhere – the whole force of a 25-man raid can do a certain amount, and then a few 10-mans that can meet on different times of the week can continue the 10-man version of the content from there. I like that idea.

Here’s the trick though, I caught this little tidbit further down the thread notes:

Heroic Deadmines / Shadowfang Keep
Heroic versions of classic instances might not be ready for the release of Cataclysm and will be shipped in content patch instead.

Okay – this may not seem like a big deal (unless you were really hoping for those heroics come Cataclysm) but it tells me something that I’m worried about, something that was magnified with the removal of Path of the Titans and Guild Talents: Blizzard may be rushing this thing.

Seriously, at Blizzcon last year, we were all so thrilled to see that Blizzard had been making so much progress with Cataclysm at the time and that it looked so good, but considering the way they’re scaling back some of the content changes tells me either that they’re pushing for a release (likely this year) and don’t have time to implement everything they want to, or they’re worried that some of the changes they want to will be too much upkeep for their team. (I wouldn’t want to be the people who have to balance Guild Talents…what do you do when one turns out to clearly be the best and ALL of the guilds in the game flock to one tree?)

Now at the same time, the flip side to this may be simpler – Blizzard may have just decided that some of these changes just weren’t good ideas. But the notion that the Heroic Deadmines and Heroics Shadowfang Keep, two things fans have been craving for ages, may be delayed, tells me that Blizzard has a lot on their plate and their timeline is in jeopardy. If that’s the case, the question then becomes: “what’s still on the plate that made Path of the Titans, Guild Talents, and, while not cancelled – just postponed, Heroic Deadmines and Shadowfang fall off? We’ll just have to wait until a full beta starts and the NDA is lifted to find out.

12-Year Old Uses World of Warcraft Skills to Save Sister’s Life

Over at io9 (and a couple of other sources, namely Next Nature, which first reported the story, to my knowledge) I’ve caught wind of an amazing story about a 12-year old boy who used skills he picked up in World of Warcraft to save his sister from a moose that was attacking them.

We so often hear stories of people being killed and video games getting the blame instead of the actual person who committed the crime or their mindset that I think it’s more than worthwhile to highlight a story where some of the tricks that a child picked up in a video game wound up saving his — and his sister’s — life.

Here’s the scoop:

Hans and his sister got into trouble after they had trespassed the territory of the moose during a walk in the forest near their home. When the moose attacked them, Hans knew the first thing he had to do was ‘taunt’ and provoke the animal so that it would leave his sister alone and she could run to safety. ‘Taunting’ is a move one uses in World of Warcraft to get monsters off of the less-well-armored team members.

Once Hans was a target, he remembered another skill he had picked up at level 30 in ‘World of Warcraft’ – he feigned death. The moose lost interest in the inanimate boy and wandered off into the woods. When he was safely alone Hans ran back home to share his tale of video game-inspired survival.

Absolutely incredible. I’ve never been more proud to play a hunter. Now granted, it could have backfired and the child could have died, but from a wilderness and survival perspective? The kid did exactly what you’re supposed to do. This kid wins at life, and is a hero – I just hope he gets word of how far and wide his popularity has spread.

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