Leap Day Predictions - 2.29.2008

So, I felt the need to make a post on Leap Day. Leap Day is an occurrence that only happens once every four years, yet nothing really special happens. I never understood why Leap Day isn't recognized as some sort of true holiday, and yet we have April Fool's Day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, Pi Day, etc. It's just another Friday...

However, this Leap Day got me thinking in a weird way. After almost 3 and a half years of life already, will WoW still be around when the next Leap Day comes in 2012?

The way it looks right now, if Wrath of the Lich King was to come out in the Fall of 2008 and the third expansion was to come out sometime close to the second/third quarter of 2010, we would be looking at WoW going to about the first quarter of 2011 - without any patches - and just then becoming stale content. While it's not official, we can assume that there will be at least three expansions over the course of WoW's life. Do I anticipate a fourth expansion? Maybe, but it just doesn't seem very likely in my opinion.

Now, with that, if my off-the-top-of-my-head-calculated predictions are correct, my lack of belief in a fourth expansion, and the fact that content patches would have a hard time carrying a game for an extra year and a few months, then I don't believe we'll be playing WoW on Leap Day 2012 - at least not in the form it's currently in.

I have faith in Blizzard and I love their games, but let's face it, not a whole lot of MMOs in this new generation go strong for eight years.

That's just my two cents on this fine Leap Day.

-Matt Graham

The Way WoW Could Look - 2.28.2008

What if WoW received a complete graphics overhaul? What would it look like? Well, both Mythology and Jabraltr of the U.S. WoW General forums had an idea.

Mythology started the thread by linking a few of his YouTube videos of WoW characters with sharper graphics (which you can find below) - also later, Jabraltr tried his hand at this graphics manipulation (shown left). Mythology told us that the models are exported from WoW model viewer and all the original textures. He "used [the] same textures as masks under different map types" and "the textures were simply copied from ambient color map, into bump and specular light map, to create the illusion of lighting and shading details on character".

Okay, so I'm gunna be honest, I wouldn't even know where to begin in doing this. All I know is that if a fan of the game who had some extra time was able to do this, then why can't Blizzard?

I guess it all goes back to the fact that Blizzard wants everyone to be able to run their game and have an enjoyable gaming experience. Although, you know, Blizzard, computers have made progress in the past three years.

However, there are more problems with this. While this may seem so awesome and we all want it right now, I have a feeling that if Blizzard ever drastically changed WoW's graphics, we'd all miss the old style. ...But, then again, Blizzard could always make it optional with the click of a button.

Blizzard has stated that there will be some improved graphics in WotLK - hey, we even saw it in the fire in 2.4! - but let's face it, it's not gunna be anything close to a complete overhaul.

So, I'd imagine that you can probably guess what I want to see with the third expansion.

-Matt Graham


New Template - 2.27.2008

You like?

UPDATE: I made a few changes since yesterday. The white was a bit hard on the eyes. :p

-Matt Graham

A Stroll Along Magister's Terrace - 2.20.2008

Let me just begin this article with a joyful yelp that 2.4 is finally on the PTR's. I, along with many others, have been fervently digging into the new content and seeing the changes with my own eyes. Well, that is once Blizzard EU sorted their character copy out. And once I could move amongst the throngs of people crowding the new Isle. Oh, and of course once the Sunwell Plateau could be found (it did go missing for a few evenings, rumour has it that it ran away to Moonglade to RP with Molten Core - keep it under your hat though).

But rant over - onto more important things! Magister's Terrace, the latest 5 man instance to grace Azeroth has been well run by yours truly, and I would like to give my opinions on this shiny new instance.

On the face of it I have to say I was fairly impressed as my party ventured inside. The first packs were fairly bog standard, but with the added twist of a Magic Dampening field and a ranged stun that keeps healers alert. This combined with the fairly refreshing Blood Elf architecture (well, I'm guessing it's not as refreshing if you rolled Blood Elf) made for a great first few minutes. The first boss was a slight pushover however and a rather similar encounter to another heroic boss, but no complaints from me so far; the Crack Elves habiting his room were amusing enough. Notice they only hit hard when they 'shoot up', what a charming and accurate depiction of drug use in today's society.

The second boss however was a shock - we went in without having a clue whatsoever and proceeded to wipe quite dramatically. After another wipe we came to realize that the tactic involved was perhaps slightly less complicated than we were assuming; and from that point on we simply nuked him down as fast as possible. Which worked rather better. This is a nice touch for a 5 man instance in my opinion; we see various DPS tests in 25 man raids but in general 5 man bosses have to have a lot more leeway so players in inferior gear can still kill them alongside the Tier 6 clad groups.

The packs on the way to the 3rd boss are probably some of the hardest packs I have encountered outside of pre-nerfed Shattered Halls - multiple casters, multiple healers, seducers; all a rich tapestry of mobs that prove relatively more challenging to defeat than the usual instance trash. And the 3rd boss herself? All I can say is wow - what a fantastic encounter. What better way for Blizzard to force PvE players to PvP; by putting a 5v5 Arena team in an instance! Loved it.

And finally the big man himself. Kael'thas with a sparkly green crystal embedded in his chest. The similarities of the encounter to the boss in Tempest Keep were very apparent, and again I detect a certain choice of Blizzard to try and involve the more casual player in end game content - by at least encountering Kael in this way non-raiders can see some portrait of what 25 man groups experience.

So, all in all a very worthwhile instance. Decent loot, a worthwhile reputation gain from each run, challenging bosses, and interesting trash. The only downside is the long run back should you wipe on 3rd or 4th boss - perhaps removing the invisible wall over the first bridge of the instance would speed this up. I strongly recommend you try the instance out on PTR, or if not as soon as it hits Live - really is quite enjoyable.

-Joe Zara [Phoee]

2.4 Patch Notes and PTR - 2.8.2008

I'm not going to post the patch notes directly onto this page because of space restrictions, but I will point you in the right direction.

Of course, these are the PTR patch notes, so they are subject to change; however, I don't see Blizzard making any game changing modifications to the notes. I think it's safe to say that what you see, is what you get.

So, what do we know about the PTR right now?

  • As of right now, nobody, besides Blizzard of course, currently knows when the new PTR will open.
  • It will include Patch 2.4.
  • There will be NO premade characters.
  • There will be NO gear vendors.
  • All battlegrounds and arenas other than Warsong Gulch will be turned off.

-Matt Graham

2.4 Rumblings - 2.7.2008

As I'm sure many of you have seen, both WorldofRaids and MMO-Champion posted a list of 'Potential Class Changes' yesterday with varying degrees of absurdity contained within.

Not that I'm denying the validity of these 'PCCs' (oh abbreviations just make me smile :D ), it would seem fairly reasonable to me that Blizzard would be increasing Lightwell's effectiveness by a whopping 300%. Because it's just such a good ability that is used frequently in both PvE and PvP environments, and far be it from me to suggest that it is swept quickly under the rug, and replaced with a more useful talent. Suggestions? Well maybe an integrated Santa Hat for all those woeful priests doomed to their Emo Headpieces of the Avatar.

Well as enjoyable as it would be to poke fun at Lightwell until it starts bleeding out of its eyes, I should really move on to some of the more relevant PCCs in case they are actually implemented on the PTRs this week (oh God let it be this week).

Now, I'm no Shaman, but it was my understanding that one of the perks, if not the ONLY perk of elemental spec were those nifty Lightning Overloads that made pretty numbers fill your screen. Surely taking away its ability to crit would be fairly suicidal as far as PvE caster Shamans were concerned. I'm sure this one is going to get dragged back to the quintessential 'Elemental Shamans are overpowered in 5v5' argument, where, admittedly, raping the other team's face with insta Chain Lightning and then getting some magnificent reel of critical numbers directly afterwards might be considered a tad too powerful, but it's just one of those things that you should accept and deal with, no? Like Cyclone.

Bringing me swiftly onto the next PCC; Cyclone range reduced to 20 yards. I have to say the previous week's fake patch notes made me giggle with the introduction of a cooldown on that spell - right. This week's version is slightly more believable albeit late in the day (It's been fine for a year; why change it now? Oh, that's right, the number of whine posts has topped one million, kk). Admittedly the spell is slightly overpowered in PvP and a change is probably a good thing. This reduction to 20 yards is a much better idea than any cooldown - if nothing else it forces the druid closer to the action and makes it harder to run away like a giant pansy. Whoops, I mean like an agile Cheetah.

Upon reflection this post has turned into a whine about changes that aren't even confirmed, but hell, I'm in a whining sort of mood! I won't even touch on the Warlock changes (say goodbye to raid DPS) for fear of getting a sharp jab to my jugular from angry peons. Speaking of which, congratulations to Blizzard for winning their lawsuit against the Peon4Hire goldsellers. Now if you could just take care of the 267,451 other goldselling companies, it would really brighten my day :D .

Just to up the ante of this depressing read; a fast /cheer for good things in 2.4! Spell haste reducing Global Cooldown! Sunwell! Caverns of Time teleporter (it's about time)! Dailies increased to 25!

-Joe Zara [Phoee]

Phew... - 2.6.2008

Finally, I have been freed! I've been SUPER busy since November, but now everything is back to normal. Expect some frequent posting from now on - or, at least until next November.

-Matt Graham