11.13.14 Announced – Amazing Cinematic, Worst Decision EVER.

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Don’t worry, you won’t have to wait for me to tell you why either.

Its a BLEEPING THURSDAY!?

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I refuse.

Why the hell is the expansion releasing on a Thursday? Can some one tell me this? I’m sure by the time the dust has settled I’ll have my answer, but at the time or writing this, understand how frustrating this is.

Let’s recap and discuss how after all signs pointing to a single answer, they manage to pull the wool over our eyes and debunk my grand prediction.

First off, November isn’t a horrible date, but I guess its inevitable with Blizzcon where it is. What’s more upsetting is the fact that the other games Blizzard are working on are going to steal the spotlight, and instead of what potentially could have been a massive 6.1/6.2 reveal, we now will likely see a count down to release…

Second off, Thursday. Thursday. Let me say that one more time so it can sink in for you guys. THURSDAY. Why? Well would you have guessed it! Its because Blizzcon, no doubt.

How can they have a weekend event that people come from China to see, and then release the expansion 2 days later? It wouldn’t be possible, because half the people around the world wouldn’t come. Another great idea throttled by a pointless meet-up that will likely feature nothing but things we already knew about WoW.

Let’s talk about WHY a Thursday is without question the worst day for a title release period (at least for me.)

First of all, the raids in this game reset on Tuesdays, in case you guys weren’t aware. This means week one starts 2 days earlier into the expansion. This means that we have 2 less days to get 30~ people to max level, 2 less days to get them all 630 item level, and 2 days less to figure out where we stand. I personally LOVED the week off in MoP, but now two days less makes me feel like I was cut vacation days that I was promised.

So all this does for me is now pretty much forces me to do 90-100 in one sitting and not care about any of the lore or anything else. Those two full days have taken that from me, oh but hey at least we get one more SoO farm in the day before the expansion comes out! Woopdeedoo!!!!

Unreal… a Thursday.

Wow…

Also, this completely derails the ten year anniversary. That might as well just be cancelled, because if it starts FOUR days after the expansion comes out, no one is going to bother.

As of right now, its datamined to start on the 17th of November, and end the 1st of December. This is three weeks, sure, why in god’s name would you add this on top of a release and raid-ready-race?

“Hey guys, you have 4 days to get ready for progression. Also, the 10th anniversary is in, but make sure you are doing 5 mans instead.”

Literally couldn’t have been worse news in my eyes. Its absolutely dumbfounding. Any other Tuesday of the year would have been a better choice. Even if it was Tuesday July 7th 2010, and we had to travel back in time and fight mannoroth and kill orcs and be Dr. Who, I would prefer it. I would literally prefer building a time machine to play this expansion then it come out on a Thursday, 4 days before the 10 year anniversary.

That’s like if my birthday was the day after Christmas. No one wants that. It just cuts the enjoyment of both events in half.

Meanwhile, Blizzard chose for their birthday to be on Christmas, because they already booked the Anaheim arena for Blizzcon!

I’ve never been so flustered. Should be a funny read looking back at it.

Oh well, at least the cinematic was spectacular. Bit different then I expected, but seeing Grom and Garrosh work together was breathtaking.

Wonder if they did that on a Thursday?

Apexis Crystals – Form and Function as the Superior Valor!

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Before we begin, I would recommend checking out the accompanying video to this article on the WoWStratics Youtube channel!

So for those who haven’t been exploring the beta as I have, it appears with the removal of Valor Points, we see ushered in a new system known as Apexis Crystals. For the record, these have nothing to do with the Apexis shards and crystals from the BC rep and vendors, so don’t you worry!

What they function as is a replacement for Valor along multiple frames, and I am here to explain to why they will do so successfully.

To fully understand, when I discuss their usage and parallel with Valor Points, I am referring to how Valor at one point was used as a raid gear equalizer. Starting late in the Burning Crusade and continuing on until Cataclysm, we saw Valor points award as a turn in raid-viable pieces used mostly as catch up for those unlucky, or substitute for those not keen on raiding.

In TBC especially, this idea truly thrived. They were obtainable from killing any important boss, including Raid Bosses but also Heroic 5 man bosses. This allowed those raiding to get a significant advantage in gear income, but also allowed those only interested in 5 man content to also still improve their gear sets.

In Wrath and Cataclysm, the system was elaborated on, but was beginning to deteriorate into poverty. Once Cataclysm was in bloom, we saw the final fall, making it so only the end of dungeons as well as raid bosses dropped them, and awarding gear that was suboptimal in the scope of the current raid.

In MoP they took this concept to extremes and all but eliminated the casual grind option for players looking to supplement their current sets without much raid interaction. By first mandating reputation requirements upon spending, and then removing gear at all, Valor turned from its once esteemed vantage point to wallowing in the muck. Slight revival came in the way of the Gear Upgrade system, but this too was fleeting and after Blizzcon 2013, it was announced that Valor had served its last purpose and would not be following us back in time.

RIP

RIP

With the death of valor, comes the birth of Apexis Crystals, filling the exact same niche we just ventured through. They will be available seemingly from a daily that rewards a large chunk, but can also be looted in small quantities from regular mobs, select rares, and other objectives. As shown in the video, they can be turned in in large quantities for gear that comes in three stages.

Stage 1 is 630 item level blue gear, equivalent to Heroic 5 man pieces. The price on these cost between 10k – 14k Apexis, which will likely take two weeks or more to obtain.

Stage 2 is 645 item level epic gear, equivalent to LFR or World Epics. The price on these is an additional 4-7k Apexis and a turn in of the previous item.

The final stage is 655 item level epic gear, equivalent to Progression epics. The price is an additional 4-7k Apexis with a turn in of the previous piece.

Now, let’s get down to why this is a much more suitable concept, even as it stands right now.
In the current beta build, the only real option comes from a daily quest as mentioned. Its very likely there will be addition ways to obtain these, but either way it appears to be taking about two weeks or more to get the first piece of 630 gear.  I can see reasonably reducing this to one full week for a single blue item.

From there, it would take the same amount of time to upgrade it from that blue to a 655 epic piece. And this is where the magic comes in…

By doing this, you prevent invalidation of raids by bots or heavy farmers within the week where there are none available, but also allow those interested in putting forth the effort to have a nice reward after some time.

You see, the reason the Valor concept was so popular in TBC was because it gave players an option to obtain gear outside of their progression target, and fostered work towards this goal. This kept five man heroics and previous raids populated.

Now, this will keep the open world populated, and very likely other places as well depending on what they do to augment the drop situation.

If it were up to me, I would do the following:

Offer a small amount (50 – 75?) from completing a Heroic Five man once a day, and offer an even smaller amount for subsequent ones (10-25). This mirrors the current valor strategy in MoP.

Offer a large amount from Challenge Modes in general, but perhaps as a daily boon and then smaller amounts afterwards. I feel 200~ awarded per CM would be suitable, but would understand 200 per daily, and 100 or less after that.

Offer a moderate amount from each raid boss killed. Maybe 50-75 per, making old raids viable. Of course, limit it per raid, not difficulty.

What this would do:

Foster good players having a use for 5 man Heroic content past week 1. They boast their difficulty is increased, so the more skilled and geared players the better, especially knowing most will be completed using LFD.

Foster Challenge Mode expansion past cosmetic rewards. This was a HUGE issue with MoP. CM was easily the greatest feature added to the game at any point (aside from connected realms for longevity) but suffered from a distinct lack of interest from most players. They represent a true challenge, and for those not interested in timers, this creates an even greater usage. I can see it now! “LF 2 DPS for CM Apexis run pst!” Perfection!

Foster old raid completion. One of my favorite things about Classic, TBC, and Wrath was going back to raids I overgeared and doing them either to help others, or to obtain some secondary benefit. Achievements and the like were a fine addition, but realistically, there is nothing in MoP that makes anyone want to do ToT. I’d do LFR, but no one appreciates you like they do in a premade group. Making Apexis drop in there means people will consider it something they would like to do.

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Finally, the discussion of a cap is important. Currently its 20k. Meaning you can never hold enough for 2 single pieces, but can upgrade 3-4 at once with the same stash. I find this a suitable idea, and makes much more sense but am worried about the 5k limit that is displayed on the item on the Beta. Is this a weekly cap!? If so…

NO NO NO.

They need to remove weekly caps entirely, and if they do so, they will have achieved the results I have discussed. If they do not, then the system will falter just as Valor did.

Let’s hope they understand this, because if its done right it can really work very well hand in hand with more difficult 5 man heroics as well as the in-game premade group finder!

Warlords of Draenor Betakey Giveaway!

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What’s up guys! Syiler here with another giveaway for ya!

This time we are giving one lucky person a chance to win a Warlords of Draenor Betakey, this key will work on any region and anyone can enter!

To enter head over to Wow.stratics.com and on the right hand side will be a button that says “Site with benefits” click this and login. Use the missions to earn points and then turn those points in for tickets which enter you into the giveaway! The more missions you complete the better chance of winning you will have and new missions will be available everyday so make sure to keep checking back to increase your chance of winning!

The giveaway will last for 7days from the 7th of July to the 14th of July and the winner will be announced on Twitter/Facebook and Youtube!

 

Here is a video explaining the process –

Low level Dungeon Revisits – WoD

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Looking to liven up the world… of Warcraft; Blizzard have put many hours into planning more user friendly, and ultimately better experiences throughout the levelling process to maximum level, and before it. Many of the gripes players had in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of The Lich King expansion sets was the hurdle of having to level through older content to reach the new. In Cataclysm, we all know this changed, when they not only revisited many of the older dungeons and zones, but also added new content for maximum level players too. It was a huge undertaking if you think about it, 2 continents of areas completely revisited and entire quest lines changed and modernised. Occasionally you find the odd quest that remains from the days of Vanilla WoW, but honestly they are so far and few between, you would have to go off the beaten track to even find the breadcrumb quest to begin any of them. So when we look at newer expansions such as MoP, and now WoD, very little needs to be done to the old world, if at all to make it conform to the next chapter in the WoW storyline, however that is not to say that Blizzard wants to completely leave the old world behind, trapped in a strange time paradox where Deathwing is still around, so they are revisiting some older dungeons again, only this time adding new WoD storylines to them.

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First on the list to change is Blackfathom Deeps, an instance I always get the irritating urge to change to ‘Blackfathom Depths’ instead, however despite my grammar Nazi attitude to the place, it is still one of my more least visited low level dungeons and least favourite in the game. All that is about to change however, as the things I disliked about the instance seem to have been hammered out with a large mallet called “old instances shouldn’t be long and boring”. This hammer is something we saw a great deal of in Cataclysm, but Warlords is taking it to the next level. Walking inside BFD you see a series of new npc’s offering quests relating to a new threat, not to spoil things to much, it basically involves you defeating a new series of bosses relating to this new ‘threat’, and tentacles, lots of tentacles.

jampingThe first major change is one of the first areas, if you recall there used to be a rather irritating jumping puzzle, requiring you to hop across a group of giant boulders to get to the next area, below is water, in which you would have to swim back to the land if you fell and do it all over again. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really don’t see how people can fail such a simple jump, but World of Warcraft is not something that really works too well with jumping puzzles or anything requiring use of its fairly basic jump animations.

lapjampThis has now changed; if one of your party makes it across they can now click on a new rope doodad, which will throw the rope down to the ground below where that warrior has fallen 56 times in the past minute, where they can click it and be thrown up to you. Thank the light for that! All this time, all this suffering, watching and waiting as people press their space-bar too soon or too late, gone in a single change.

 

That’s not to say this is the only change to the dungeon, but is certainly the most welcome. The dungeon is the same layout as before, and actually contains more bosses I think (citation needed), but each one has a series of dialog and some incredibly fun mechanics, usually found much, much later in the game.

 

razor The second instance I looked at was none other than Razor Fen Downs; a rather awkward dungeon located in the southern Barrens. This place had the most annoying escort quest in the history of video games, well possibly. The quest in question was part way through the first area and past the first boss, involving you to backtrack all the way back near the entrance of the dungeon to escort a human to do something with a furnace ( I cannot remember nor care what it was). Thankfully this quest has been completed, and there are no longer any humans to rescue. Whoop! What then instead, is the captivating tale of the red dragon from the old instance, who has returned to ask for your help defeating the last boss, a Lich. The Lich in question survived our first attack in previous expansions and ultimately lives because we forgot to destroy his Phylactery, a vial which preserves the life of a Lich if it’s destroyed and can return it back to life. Sloppy work on the part of the dragon then, but fortunately you take no chances this time in swift, decisive butchering of new and old, returned bosses you may be familiar with.

New mechanics, much like those found in the new version of Black Fathom Deeps are also present within RFD, and much to my delight the run already feels 5-6 minutes shorter than before. If there’s one thing Blizzard have addressed, is that people don’t want to spend longer than 10-15 minutes within a dungeon anymore, and that levelling shouldn’t be a chore, but fun and interesting. I can thankfully say I no longer fear these two dungeons and cannot wait to run new alts through them in the future.

Many new dungeons litter Warlords of Draenor, and some are getting there own heroic modes, however BFD and RFD are NOT getting level 100 variants, only low level remakes, which again shows Blizz’s dedication  to all aspects and facets of the game they are containing to maintain quality over over everything else, even after 10 years of gametime. Be sure to check out future posts on WoW.Stratics as we cover each new dungeon and ultimately everything related to Warlords of Draenor. I have embedded below two videos showing each of the two dungeons I have talked about today from the Warlords of Draenor Alpha / beta Testing phase, be warned however that they contain spoilers! My names Meoni, and I shall see you all next time.

Warlords of Draenor Coming to Xbox?!

What’s up guys, Syiler here! Today something strange happened, Newegg the online Computer/Gaming store have listed Warlords of Draenor for sale. Now that isn’t anything new, we know WoD will be released at some point TM, the thing that has gotten the community on edge is the fact that it’s Xbox Live Credit. This means in theory it is a redeemable code that you use on the Xbox Live Store for Warlords of Draenor.

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Now so far we haven’t heard anything that would lead us to believe this is real, sites make mistakes with pricing, descriptions and listings all the time, but for a moment lets pretend this is real and look at the facts that could make this real. So first of all Blizzard has been looking more towards console users with the recent release of Diablo 3 onto consoles and the special console only “The Last of us” themed dungeon for Playstation, they have been showing a larger interest in the console markets. Ontop of this the Xbox One is fully compatible with certain Keyboards and Mice which would allow you to essentially use your Xbox as a PC. The recent ability squish has removed quite a few key abilities from each class and reduced their rotations making them playable with less keybinds. The final thing is Blizzards job positions on their website for a “Senior Software Engineer for Console”

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So overall this could be legit, but I doubt it will be, they wouldn’t have kept something like this so quiet as they wouldn’t have any need to. It might be something that is planned for the future and that wouldn’t surprise me, with the nextgen consoles being a lot more powerful I could easily see them being able to run World of Warcraft and if done correctly could see a spark of new WoW players giving a fresher experience to WoD and future expansions. If it is real and they plan on getting WoD out for consoles around the same time as PC users that would explain the “delay” of WoD as compared to any other expansion wait time WoD has been pretty long but I feel that is just because WoD in my opinion as much more then any expansion to date.

As things stand right now though, I don’t see this happening anytime soon but it is definitely something to keep in mind for the future. What do you think? Do you think this is real, will WoW become available to console users and if so should they have their own servers or share with the PC users?

 

Thanks to @Elvinelol for bringing this to my attention and sharing the screenshots you see above!

 

More Removed Content..? – Guild Perks and Leveling

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Alright, if you are complaining about this one you have really gone off the deep end. Go ahead and get caught up if you haven’t already. Seriously, I’ll wait. No big deal.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/13273137450#6

Great so after reading the response, we should understand a few topics for discussion:

1. Guild Leveling Removed. AKA all guilds 25 by default.

2. Some perks removed, including Cash Flow.

3. Alternative forms of profit will be considered include raid BOEs.

Now, let’s discuss each one individually and explain all that surrounds it. Are you still with me? Hope so.

1. Guild Leveling Removed:

This is significant and needed to happen for one main reason: It was a garbage idea after the initial launch. Simple as that, my friends. If there are any out here who played Cataclysm at launch in an active raiding guild you will realize the flaws it had even then. Our group specifically tore itself apart over who does and doesn’t contribute and some membership demanded extra kickbacks in raid because they did a high percentage of the leveling contribution. Things like this were a product of the half-wits we had at the time, no doubt. But this does not mean its not also the system’s fault.

They tried to limit issues by making a unit cap on experience over a certain period so a guild wouldn’t just invite the 1k max players and get 25 day 1, but all this did was place heavy doubt on the shoulders of those who weren’t active when the cap wasn’t quite reached. Myself included, found dailies and the like to be a huge tedium (still do) and would never engage in them, and being the GM… well what did Ser Alliser say to John about leading…

Ya.

So if those were issues we had at launch, can you even fathom what it would be like now? I’m sure many live it daily. Starting a new raiding guild from scratch must seem daunting if people actually care about the perks, but even worse is getting people to contribute to leveling this late into the process and this expansion.

To add even more doubt to this, spend an hour in trade and you are likely to see some one SELLING a level 25 guild. What a joke! What is happening here is people are creating these mock guilds, using addons to invite every single player on the planet 100x a minute, and then watching as the guild levels and the coffers fill. That’s part of the next point, however.

Either way you look at it, I don’t see how anyone could mind this removal. I’m sure there is some bleating sheep out there crusading against it though. There always is.

2. Perks Removed, including Cash Flow:

To understand this decision, you would need to know which ones are staying. It was in the post, but for brevity’s sake, lets agree the ones that are staying that are important are Mass Rez and Ride like the Wind, and the only important departure is Cash Flow.

Unfortunately, Ion tries to downplay the loss of Cash Flow. This is a HUGE blow to our group, but like so many other things, the cons are vastly out weighed by the pros.

In the last section, I discussed the mass invite and guild afk leveling. This follows suite in this portion as well, as the two go hand in hand. Its become a huge issue, honestly, and has really hit the economy with a lasting damage. When you can literally use an addon to earn free gold, actions need to be taken, but especially when its in so a strange way.

By mass inviting people to the guild, the person behind the idea gets the cash flow bonus rolling into their coffers, as well as a level 25 guild to sell after its all over. Once the guild is 25, you empty the bank, try to sell it for a crazy price, and then go start another one.

Its gotten so bad that there are actually groups selling them, likely to raiding guilds starting up, and making enormous yield. Its essentially money for nothing. All you need is your chicks for free and you got a hit.

So as good as the perk was, it had to be addressed and I am glad it did.

However, Ion also says that Cash flow likely contributes less than the guild challenges to those active. The confusing part about this is, that doesn’t seem to be the case for us, even when we complete all the relevant challenges.

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Click to Enlarge!

This picture should speak volumes, but is it really all from Cash Flow? It seems impossible that we gained 7k+ gold just from people looting, especially since we keep a trim roster to preserve the raiding atmosphere. My hypothesis has always been that the number on screen regarding Cash Flow actually accounts for the money made from the challenges as well. Because that would make sense. 1k for the raid, 2.5k from scenarios, 1.5k from CM… These things add up leaving less than a few thousand gold from actual cash flow looting.

Or perhaps its always been that high, and we just use that much gold a week in repairs?
Honestly, I couldn’t say. But if we are actually gaining 7k just from looting, and we lose that, it is an irreparable loss.

3. Alternative Income:

Since they go hand-in-hand, let’s get right into this. What options could they provide that don’t currently exist, to boost the revenue organized groups create?
The first thing mentioned is the reintroduction of BOE epics to raiding. Of course, if this includes Mythic, this can be extremely profitable. Absurdly so, that it would dwarf any money anything else brought in. But what will the drop rates be? Will be it 1 even 2 months like days of old? If so, what will the market look like? It will degrade over time no matter, but the rate is whats important. Can this alone replace Cash Flow for a raiding guild?

On top of this, what happens with the material disenchanted, such as Spirits of War. Are these remaining as well as adding BoE? If not, I call it unjust. We lose one to gain another.

Regardless, I hope they have something more to reveal in this topic. Gold earned is EXTREMELY important to me as a guild leader, and when talking about the first week of an expansion, Cash Flow seems irreplaceable. Unfortunately, it seems we will have to find alternative options.

A Persistant, Living, Breathing World – WoD

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Whilst exploring the Alpha testing of Warlords of Draenor, I found myself amazed by many things. What I found on my initial play-through of the new Garrison feature, was a living, almost breathing world.

To clarify, the preliminary questing structure of the Horde and Alliance zones; Shadowmoon Valley and Frostfire Ridge, task you with the creation of a forward base of operations for your faction, hence ‘Garrisons’.

What I didn’t expect to find was the process to create such a structure to be so unique and ultimately groundbreaking for the genre. The world around me is covered in snow, with thick blasts of icy air flowing across the ice plain in front of my character, signified by a new visual effect representing an accurate depiction of snow-drift we find in real life in the Arctic Circle. In the distance, large obsidian-like mountains stretch up to the heavens. Closer to my character, the area where I stood, was surrounded by the same black spikes of rock, affirming its hostile, raw nature.

The plan was simple, each quest tasked me with a laundry list of potential hazards and menial operations. These would need to be completed to ensure safety for the lore figures that had given me these orders, and those of the Horde army, of which I was now actually in charge of as ‘commander’ of the Horde.

nastiesFirstly the area was covered in various nasties that could pose a threat to any building operations, and since we had our experience with dealing with beasts of all types by now in the game, we were to cut them down. Until now, this is your basic list of quests, kill this thing, kill this big named thing and so on. Expecting the obligatory ‘collection’ quest as I approached the next yellow exclamation mark, and I right clicked on the lore figure. Yes, it was in fact another collection quest, but not exactly what I had envisioned but I wont spoil it for the purpose of this article. It seems that now, with the new title of “commander”, it was up to me to place markers on various trees in the surrounding area of the camp. The trees would then be cut down by peons, peons that were effectively under my control. The idea that Blizzard had realized I had slain the mightiest of foes, lords of pure death, old gods, and so on and had finally come to the conclusion, I should perhaps not be in charge of collecting the lumber myself made me actually smile, stand up and salute in awe.

Is  this the reason that I’m writing this article? No. You see the process in which the peon cuts down the trees, now that’s the reason for an article.

shittyquestAround the area of the ‘camp’ stand around 60 trees, give or take. Around 30 of these have icons next to them, signifying I can place a flag next to the tree and watch as a peon walks up to it, cuts it into lumber he can handle, then carries it back to the camp and the quest givers. Then it hit me, each one of these trees didn’t need to be cut, and I needed only 8 to be marked, with each one that I didn’t cut down having a chance to survive. I thought to myself how cool it would be if these trees stayed cut down, and how more immersive the experience could be, that was until after handing in my quests, and realising that, despite my own doubts, the trees I had cut remained stumps and those I left alone still stood proud. Not cut down in some awkward cut scene, but still there, standing proud like a massive middle finger to my doubts of the technology of what is a game aging over 10 years since its release!

amazetrteesIt is safe to say, the following gasp of air and explicative’s made me rush straight onto Adobe to make a video on what id seen. To share this feeling with the world, in the very much the same way as I would of if I had managed to get a shiny Pokémon card in a booster pack when I was five with my neighborhood. The feeling of elation seeing the changes so far in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha, and now Beta testing phases have re-invigorated my belief that Blizzard still reign supreme in innovation and perfection when it comes to the worlds they create.

Sure another game my create better looking worlds, or the finest graphical overhaul that requires £800 graphics cards to enjoy. But at the end of the day, Blizzard can create a more enjoyable, immersive world, with minor tweaks and adjustments, and STILL have their content playable on 5 year old equipment. What video game company can still say that?

It’s truly phenomenal, and the attention to detail and undoubted love they have for the World of Warcraft is shown triple over in all the media they involve themselves within. The books are fantastic, written by amazingly detailed and passionate authors such as Christie Golden, or beautiful models and toys crafted with the same interest and passion as the games they are based upon. All of this is paramount in the success of a franchise, despite the enormous budget they have to play around with for all aspects of the company; Blizzard cannot be confronted with the frankly boring and disturbing lack of consumer service and belief in their own worlds over just monetary concerns. If there ever needed to be a restorer of faith in the Warcraft universe, Warlords of Draenor is sure to be that exact reason you need. Just watch any of our videos or read any of these articles on WoW Stratics, if you don’t feel impressed after then, Im not sure you can call yourself a gamer anymore!

 

Here’s a video of my first encounters with Frostfire ridge, Shadowmoon Valley and a little overview of Garrison controls and the development of this player housing type structure. We upload many videos on Warlords of Draenor over at Acegamestv, drop by and say hello! Enjoy!

Human Male Model – Champion of Stormwind?

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Finally, the long awaited Human Male model is revealed! Take a look at some of the images provided by Blizzard, so we can discuss what we think about the most iconic model of the lot.

Click to Enlarge!

Click to Enlarge!

 

First of all, this is not in any way what a Human Male looks like in World of Warcraft. I’m not sure where they even got this screenshot, or if its even from this version of the video game, but I feel pretty cheated by this comparison. For reference, here is what an actual Human Male face looks like.

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That puts a bad taste in my mouth, especially considering the updated model is clearly in the highest resolution possible, and the one its compared to is in very low quality. Regardless of Blizzards tactics, let’s move on and examine what makes this new model and set of animations amazing. And why…

Click to Enlarge.

Click to Enlarge!

After looking at this image, it makes me completely forget the previous slight we had to endure. This is such a brilliant example of why this expansion is going to be amazing, and why the most identifiable model in the video game will be at its forefront.

The one strange piece I notice is the ridiculously over sized hair brackets in the top left of the four faces. What is this? Is this actually a hair style now? I’ve never seen something that looks like that in game, but I suppose I don’t play the Alliance often. Regardless, I will say that this looks quite strange considering the size of the Human, and I feel that it doesn’t make much sense.

Past that, the point should be clear, that they are fully invested in making the animations spectacular. Look at the quizzical face on the bottom right, as well as the stern and angry faces featured. These are absolutely amazing, and as we saw in the Tauren model, will really add a lot to an already impressive visual.

I can’t impress enough about how this IS the feature, my friends. So many people complain about every old thing, and seem to over look just how huge this will be.

If you haven’t had some time to check out the WoD footage and features we have covered thus far, you really need to before you make another claim like that. It should be abundantly obvious that the visual upgrades this game is receiving will be without question the most significant feature of any expansion. In my opinion, it literally changes the game into something entirely different looking, in a very good way. If you don’t believe me based on this, I invite you to check out my full dissertation on my thoughts surrounding the topic.

 

Also featured in Chris’s Artcraft post was some news about the model’s introduction to the Alpha. It appears that they will be implementing this model, as well as others that are partially completed, but not yet formally revealed into our testing environment, whenever it decided to come back up. We don’t know if it will be in with the latest build, but this is important for reasons that everyone will be made aware of immediately.

As we saw with the Horde questing in Frostfire Ridge, all the orcs took homage from the newly implemented models, and looked spectacular because of it. It was my main point in the article I wrote on this topic, and I will reiterate it here. Of course, its not likely that there will be an abundance of Humans in Shadowmoon Valley, but you can bet the once that are there will be stunning. It only makes sense that both the Human male and female, as well as the Orc male and female should now be completed, and with these tools in place we can really get a feel for how these zones will feel visually.

Alongside this, its important to remember that all the gear is fitted first to humans and typically displayed as such. This means, from now on, the default looks we get at the new Mythic tier sets, should be on a high definition frame and really display the set’s quality even better.

Whenever the alpha does return, you can expect more and more coverage from us both on Youtube, and in written form. I look forward to seeing you there!

[Discuss This Article!] [WoW-Stratics Forums]

Previous LFR and Scenario Queue? – Issues Abound!

methodInterview

As the Alpha continues to sizzle, we learn more about a topic speculated on and discussed since Blizzcon. In the latest build, it appears that the option to enter previous versions of LFR and scenarios is accessible via a specific set of NPCs. Whether their presence, dialogue, or models are expectant of a release has yet to be seen, but what is resounding is the ability to do so, given a new set of rules.

First of all, if you don’t get around much, lets explain what the previous system was all about and then we can relate it to the new means of entrance.

Starting with it’s invent in Dragon Soul, LFR allowed players to queue as a role and be entered in a massive pool of hopefuls, being paired with 24 others, with 6 healers, 2 tanks, and the remainder DPS. The queue itself became notable quickly for its extreme length, especially as a DPS. This only got worse with the onset of Flex difficulty, and when this return feature was announced, I assumed it would be even more impossible to find enough people. On top of this, I wondered just what type of player system they would seek to control, and whether or not there would be a cap to enter.

With the announcement and testing in the Alpha, we learn that this is all a thing of the past for the equally past LFRs. Now, they will simply operate as any other dungeon, just instead of being able to walk in you will still queue. A bit of a vestigial structure is this system, at least in my eyes, but I suppose its no surprise. This is really nothing more than fan service when you examine exactly what LFR has been and is meant to be in this coming expansion.

However, it will give those who missed an interesting coloration, especially in Dragon Soul, a chance to return to the past and collect their just rewards. Or maybe not.

The next question posed by myself and the community is how loot will work. Let’s once again discuss it in its current state for completion’s and comparison’s sake.

Currently, when you enter LFR and complete a boss you roll against yourself to see if you shall be awarded loot. This is a system known as “personal loot” and was implemented with MSV Looking for Raid. Previously in Dragon Soul, the system was as it always used to be. When thinking about 25 man raiding, you can understand why this was a mess all around, especially for pieces of the tier set gear that was acquired in the form of a token for up to 3 other classes. Having 25 people all roll for 6+ pieces of gear every boss got very confusing quickly and elicited some changes as the tier went on.

The first change we saw was a system to help people rolling for main spec gear have an advantage over those looking for off spec or perhaps simply to troll. This system was quite archaic, but effective to some degree, allowing an extra 100 points to each roll when it was for a piece you were currently speced into. This marked further issues, as a lot of people only did LFR for off spec gear, but they had to be in that spec when the loot dropped, otherwise they would not receive the bonus. Obviously, if any one player needed on it as it pertained to him, no off spec player could win it, so it quickly devolved into people just sitting in the wrong spec for the entire raid. After there were enough complaints about 6 tanks or 2 healers, it became obvious this would not work going forward.

Eventually, we come to the world we live in today, where you can select your intended specialization as well as loot preference, AND can avoid the mess that was DS LFR loot, rife with trading, trolling, and high rolling!

So, back on track here, we then finally come to the answer of how the current loot system will be implemented across legacy content that requires an NPC to queue for?

Our buddy Ion, the Perisian Torpedo, answers it for us via twitter.

We learn a few things from this set of tweets, but alongside this, a few more concerns arise.

Ion confirms that the current system would stay, but does this mean that the DS loot will drop 6 pieces as it did back when it was current? Had the personal loot system actually been implemented by 5.0, or did that not make it in until MSV? I honestly cant remember. Feel free to reply if you know this answer.

Either way, the next set of concerns become obvious from there. Often times, being able to transmog pieces of gear require access to loot tables not relevant to your class.

I, for one, don’t see myself up in arms about this, but that doesn’t mean that thousands of people wont be. Currently, given the personal loot system, it is absolutely not possible to get pieces other than your that applicable to your available specs. The best example is that a shaman can not acquire a tanking mace or axe, no matter what they do, given the current system.

This can be address one of two ways. First of all, and the least attractive of the options, you can allow trading of the items. This sees to be something a lot of people want, which makes sense, especially for the LFR MSV and higher. Its unlikely average players will be able to solo them, so if personal loot stays it would be extremely beneficial to be able to trade any loot you get amongst those with you in the party, especially considering it will be likely that on most bosses with 2-4 people, no one will get anything.

Just thinking about that alone makes me cringe. Part of soloing old raids is the fact that a high amount of gear drops each time. The fact that you can often get two pieces of each boss that you are after is a huge attraction. I feel if they are going to stick with personal loot here, they better make it so you always get at least one piece, as well as a chance to get two. Something has to happen either way, otherwise soloing these places will feel very unrewarding if you come out with nothing but the miniscule amount of gold they offer comparatively.

The second option is (when ruling out simply removing personal loot) to make it possible to select roles you aren’t able to fill as well as make these pieces BOA. If they did something along these lines, it would be near the same chance to get any piece in the game, and then you could trade it to which ever toon you prefer. This is very unlikely, however, as there has been very few cases of BOA transmog opportunities, but it seems plausible to think the out side role options may make it.

Ion reminds us that changing these LFR loot constraints is no small task, but I think implementing them with the current issues is simply backwards. There are far too many drawbacks to soloing a raid where you may not even get a single piece of gear drop, let alone the ones you want, as well as none of it being pieces outside your class’s specializations.

I look forward to following this feature as it develops, but for now be sure to stop by our forums and discuss this or any of the other features of the Alpha you are interested in. Feel free to suggest anything you would like to see as well. It will be our pleasure to help our fans out!

Check out Meoni’s Alpha look at the concept:

Long Awaited Bank and Void Storage Upgrades!

pink-piggy-bank

As the last remnants of the Alpha Quality of Life changes continue to trickle in, we examine quite arguably the most definitive. Bank space and void storage room has been a huge issue, and while there are many solutions, I agree with Blizzard’s stance and accept this as a suitable response.

Many people wanted the Diablo style transmog, and of course, that would be ideal. It seems to make sense, especially in a game with so many items, but the one point I have against it is that the game has always been around collecting gear, not just seeing it. There are a lot of pieces that I am glad I still have, knowing that if the model in quest were implemented, I would have vendored them years ago.

Of course, I could simply hang on to them for posterity sake, as we did before Transmog, but this is a conversation for another day.

Let’s one again examine a few images courtesy of MMO Champion and discuss what we see and why it will effect the game in a way worth talking about!

reagentBank

Now while its easy to sum up the changes, it may not be so easy to understand why they are so prolific. Immediately, this should catch your attention as a HUGE bag-type storage that has a ton of slots available. What you are looking at is a separate tab of the current bank, likely unrelated to the previous and free of charge, that will act as “reagent” storage only.

But there is more than meets the eye to this image!

On top of simply giving us a billion slots of storage for this type of thing, it also ushers in an even more important quality of life change, being that stacks now can reach 200, instead of 20! This ten fold increase is enough to make me jump for joy, and likely will elicit the same response from any other person in charge of organizing their guild bank. This alone will allow herb storage to sky rocket, as our current herb tab is always overstocked early, and understocked late.

It gets so bad in the beginning of the expansion, when everyone is playing all day every day, that we would sell the excess because we simply had no room. Now, this would be ludicrous, as having that much room PLUS stacks of 200 means we have essentially been given infinite space to work around.

Besides all this, another thing that jumps off the page to me, but may not be obvious to you is that there are bandages in that tab as well. Of course, it may not actually be bandages, it may simply be some new reagent for something I have yet to understand, but if it is bandages…

Well would you typically consider bandages a reagent? I wouldn’t. I would consider them the output of reagents, ie craftables.

Other things I would consider as craftables would include Pots, Flasks, Enchants, cut gems. The list can continue, if needed.

So, if you are following my train of logic here, would we agree that it would also be possible for flasks to stack to 200, as well as be stored in this? Same goes with potions?

Now THAT is interesting news as well. Having stacks of 200 potions saves a TON of space as well for us, especially in the early goings.

Either way, this is such a great change that its sad people wont recognize it past the damning label “Quality of Life.” This is a real part of the expansion for me, and I am looking forward to it as much as anything else.

voidStorageTabs

The other topic we are discussing here is Void Storage and its future with transmog. In the image, we see that there is now an entirely new tab, the exact same size as the previous. Its very likely all the charges of prior will apply to this one as well, but either way this has been something people have been begging for.

I know quite a few people who have had theirs filled for a long time now, and in honesty, its on Blizzard to remedy this. The whole concept boils down to keeping everything even remotely interesting just in case some day you wish to use it to transmog to or perhaps use as novelty. If the storage is limited, then the system is flawed.

In my opinion, I see no reason this needs to stop at 1 tab. What function is that? Are they actively saying they are happy to give us another tab for this expansion, but its your fault if you run out of room again now?

What’s the point behind gating it, especially now that you proved interest in expanding it?

Back to the previous conversation about transmog, do we think this system does the job? As mentioned, I think it does, because I like seeing items that I have saved, but in an ideal world, its utterly flawed start to finish.

The fact that you even have to save the items to be able to transmog to them makes little sense to me, especially after seeing other title’s approach to the system, but coupled with them being each a single slot in a box now smaller than the reagent tab of your bank…

You know its bad when people are deleting the challenge mode gear sets after transmogging to them to avoid having to use up another 9 slots in the void storage!

 

Anyway, I believe this is everything that falls under the quality of life changes seen in this first Alpha build. As a recap, I’ll include the other articles so you can see any you may have missed.

http://wow.stratics.com/news/wod-quest-interface-changes/
http://wow.stratics.com/news/dungeon-journal-changes/

I am really looking forward to all these changes, as well as the Toybox, which is in, but not quite working as well as it should be yet. That will be a target of my interest for sure.

So stay tuned, as this will likely be a whirlwind test cycle, and I imagine by the end of this week, there will be another 10 topics to discuss!