How2: Combat Logging on the Beta – Six Simple Steps!

loggings

Some time recently, Blizzard took the first step towards addon allowance, likely around the same time they released this blue post.

If you haven’t read my last article, I would remind you that it is mandatory, but either way the point is that I think I have even more evidence now towards my prediction.

I’m a bit late discovering this, but it hasn’t been possible for that long. Trust me, its one of the first things I tested during the Alpha! The big issue is the data being gathered by the logging sites isn’t recognizable, and even now it is barely so.

To use an example:
In MoP beta, If anyone used a Symbiosis spell to do damage it completely destroyed the log. While you could upload and read the datum from MoP quite clearly, because it didn’t recognize how a Retribution Paladin was able to use Wrath, everything went haywire. The issue was present in Recount as well when addons were eventually enabled, and made testing a real nightmare, as essentially every time anyone used Symbiosis to effect the combat table, it added a new person to the list and would reset the data

I don’t know how much this was the game’s fault or the actual people developing the combat log coding, but either way I am here to officially inform you that it is now doable. I will walk you though everything you need to know about how to set this up, and will demonstrate a bit of what I was able to acquire this week, despite the bug with DPS gear scaling being non-existent.

Step <ONE>:

Sign up and get started!

Sign up and get started!

Head over to http://www.warcraftlogs.com/

This isn’t an article to bash or promote any of the options, but it does appear that Warcraft Logs is being actively worked on and improving, where as the other options have seemingly fallen into disrepair.

If its your first time using the site, you may need to spend some time familiarizing yourself as well. This is not within the scope of this article, but should be easily figured out. Simply make an account and get comfortable.

Continue on when you are ready.

Step Two:

Get the Client installed!

Get the Client installed!

This client uses Adobe Air instead of java plugins, so you should immediately be satisfied. Its unlikely you have Adobe AIR on your computer already though, so when you click the link, make sure to install AIR first, and then move on to the Client package.

Once you get both done, it should unpack by itself and be ready to mess about with.

Step Three:

Create Shortcut, open client!

Create Shortcut, open client!

The client is pretty basic, even with its expanded features, but lets take a moment to talk about all the things you need to know here.

First of all, you will need to log in with your actual account from the website. The client will sync your data between server side and client side and things will appear as they do now. There is an optional step not included here which you can exercise to create a guild, but once again, beyond the scope of this guide. If you would like to do that, feel free, but it is entirely optional for the beta. If you contribute to a guild, its advisable you upload these as private, especially if your guild takes logs serious. No need to clutter their pages with messy beta logs that make no real sense to non-testers. (we call them no beta club)

Now the two final selectors are your most important assets. Essentially, you can choose to either upload a log that you have stored to view and dissect it, or you can upload a live report which is what most people will chose to do. Both are viable options here, but in case you have already been on the beta and wish to view previous data, you can choose to exercise this option.

If you wish to log from here on out, ignore that feature.

Step Four:

Establish Log Destination!

Establish Log Destination!

Article inception! Anyway, next step is simply press Browse and navigate to your beta folder.

In case you can’t find it, the easiest way to determine the path is to right click any WoW icon you have on your desktop, and click “Open File Location.” Then backwards navigate from there to where the default folder when clicking Browse on the log client takes you.

If you still can’t figure it out, you may need to check if your computer is plugged in. Yes maam, I understand how important this matter is, but please calm down. I’m trying to help.

Step 1-4 were entirely setting up the logging client to receive the data, but the chances are you need to enact a few more steps before you are officially ready to collect!

Step Five:

Establish the Log File!

Establish the Log File!

If this is the first time doing so, your folder will look like it does now. The client is set to recognize any LOG file that appears in there, but currently there are none! You see, Blizzard by default does not have combat logging running. Thankfully as well, because if this were the case your computer may accidentally fill up with crap you don’t even want.

In order to establish the log file, but also keep it neat and tidy, we are going to use a simple macro in game.

Open your macros, find an icon that fits your tastes, and make the entirety of it:
/combatlog

Who said this was going to be complicated!

Now, put that macro some where and press it. When you do, you will see yellow text saying
Combat being logged to Logs/wowcombatlog.txt

Press it again and it will say
Combat logging disabled.

This macro now allows you to log specifically what you want, if you wish to eliminate all the extra crap that will likely come along. Just make sure you remember to turn it on and off at the right times!

If this is your first time and you are serious about this, I would just leave it on whenever you are inside any instance or dungeon. Its best to have the whole log there so you can break down every second of your time in there. But there is also the option to only log for bosses. Just make sure you are out of combat when you start the log, otherwise it wont appear properly, even on Live!

Now logging in enabled, you are welcome to enter an instance and go nuts! Make sure you press the START button on the log client as well.
All your actions will be recorded, including you movement through the rooms, any healing or damage you do, and how long you spend on each combat session.

Once you have completed the dungeon, the next step is viewing your work!

Step Six:

Part 1: Collection Complete?

Part 1: Collection Complete? Click View Report!

Part 2: Decipher!

Part 2: Decipher!

 

Follow the instructions on the above images, and you should now be on the page your log is stored at. Note the highlighted text on the top left of the second image, as it is very important.

So typically, this website’s output reader and storage breaks each combat instance down by “Boss kills” and otherwise. This is obviously to include everything, but negate the pile of crap you would have to wade through to see each attempt on a boss. So typically, you would select the menu you wish to operate out of, and search below it for the specific combat instance you wish to examine.

Unfortunately, currently in the beta this is not the case. However, it is savvy enough to also name each combat instance under the first mob engaged. So essentially, if you see something with a generic name, you can assume this is trash or something equivalent.

However, if you see a specific name such as “Commander Tharbek” then you know this is a boss encounter! It’s just not properly labeled yet. Its very likely that by the time many of you read this, the issue described has been fixed though. So ya, sorry for wasting your time!

Anyway, you should be all set now. Just leaf through every combat instance and find whats important to you. The issue with 5 man content is the bosses typically have a lot of strange mechanics that interact with dps uptime in different ways, so just take it all with a grain of salt.

Also, I think its best if you only examine your ability in dungeons for now. Open world Logging has always been strange, no reason to complicate it even more with Beta!

 

For those of you interested, you can check out some of UBRS done by myself as a Monk tank.

*Also, as of July 11 2014, Beta scaling is not working. Its scaling level 100 DPS specs to 90, and not effecting 90s at all. This is apparently being hotfixed shortly, but just wanted you to understand why the DPS in these logs is so low. Only look at the Tank and Healing numbers! You have been warned.

http://www.warcraftlogs.com/reports/vGX8Zf1N3MxPnTkV#fight=9

Even though the scaling is broken (meaning their characters are level 90 attacking high level bosses,) it is obvious to see Destro locks are currently better then weapon warrior. I’d make a post about this on the official forums.

As always, if you have any questions about this, feel free to ask here or on our forums!

 

Beta Thus Far – Prediction Time!

Beta predictions

Alright, so we just received the 5th build of the public test and I felt it was time to update the previous prediction articles I have made, as well as conclude on whats happening so far.

Two weeks ago they announced the Beta phase would begin, and since there have been literally thousands of people testing around the clock. Prior to this, there was only 1 dungeon, and one zone testable. The dungeon was Bloodmaul Slag Mines, and the zone was the Horde-only Frostfire Ridge.

3 builds later, we have seen Shadowmoon Valley and Tanaan Jungle added (only as a starting zone!) We have also seen two new max level dungeons in Shadowmoon Burial Grounds and Upper Blackrock Spire’s revamp.

There have been hundreds of balance changes and tweaks, and Warriors even got a new 45 tier of talents across the board!

Ashran, while still not open, continues to get work put into it.

Meanwhile, PVP is fully testable with the addition of the important level 100 realm. There are also PVE alternatives for players out in Shattrath City (the old version) via internal test dummies equipped in all varieties.

In the most recent build, they have added two conspicuous NPCs. One sells Draenor Enchants, flasks and potions. The other, even more mysteriously, offers to teleport you to dungeons… Let’s keep these features in mind!

While each subsequent build’s release adds a lot of new graphical components and class changes, there really hasn’t been that one big announcement yet. You know, the one to set your clock to? So let’s talk about where they can go from here!

Besides making this even cooler looking!

Besides making this even cooler looking!

So I have speculated on this already, and will do so even more right now. With the addition of the consumables vendor, and the dungeon portal vendor, this solidifies to me that they are going to begin testing Heroic and Challenge mode dungeons soon. It may not be this week, but it is much closer then anyone realizes.

This is solidified in my eyes by these two NPCs for a respective reason that should seem obvious once you realize it. Currently, you can do all these normal max level dungeons and test your heart out, but Normal modes aren’t really a challenge. They can easily be done in the max level pvp gear players have, especially with no flasks or enchants. They aren’t meant to be a challenge! So why would they add Flasks and potions, especially since the only other thing you can test is PVP where neither can be used?

Hmm interesting thought Metro, but whats the deal with this NPC that ports you to the dungeons? Why would we need that? You can actually queue for the dungeon you wish to do now right? I mean, even if they add more what downfall is there from queuing? Unless of course… OH!

So hopefully it makes sense to you guys as well, but to me it screams transparency. The vendor will allow you to enchant your gear and fully prepare your character for difficult content starting with Heroic 5 mans, then eventually Challenge Modes and raiding. The queue NPC will allow you to get there, as otherwise you couldn’t enter a Challenge Mode. It will also help in this regard if you should have issues with the queue system in LFG’s present iteration. There seems to be an issue with backfill, so once some one leaves, you can’t gain a replacement no matter how long you wait. Now, you can port out, find replacements, and have them teleport to your dungeon group. Even more important is that this allows them to fully test dungeons in zones that aren’t ready yet.

Regardless, there are only 5 more dungeons to be tested on “normal” mode so its not like we have years ahead of us. One of them is actually already been implemented, but removed due to incompletion nearly as swiftly as it was put in. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they allowed us to test Bloodmaul Slag Mines on Heroic before they let us test some of the other stuff. I imagine when they make the dungeons they have a team working on all versions, so its very likely that one that has been out since the Alpha is ready for all three difficulties.

More importantly is our ability to progress faster through this beta because of the 100 servers and new technology. Originally, I found the 100 server to be paramount to Challenge Mode testing, and I hope it still is, but since they have included scaling UP as well as scaling down, even level 92s can test the level 100 content. Not sure why you would want to, as you can’t actually choose a level 100 talent but…

So ya, I stand by my previous statement in saying that the implementation of level 100 servers cuts the beta test window in half. Every doomsayer out there with 0 attack and 7 health spouting that this game wont be out until May 7120 should feel a cold sweat drop down their brow. Especially with as many raid bosses and difficulties as there are, this really expedites the process. Once they get into 5 man heroic testing, it should seem obvious.

Up until now, they have only tested stuff that can be approached casually, at least in terms of PVE. With the addition of vendors to give a full set of any enchants, portions, and flasks in the game they are setting people up with the tools they need to begin theorycrafting for actual difficult content.

As a late addition, browse through this thread.

http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/13421662064

Even Rygarius gives some subtle hinting that “this is an advanced heads up” in order to prepare for when they are implemented. And we all know that when addons are implemented, its very likely difficult content will be as well!

So if a sane person were to look at all this, and think addons + difficult content is on the horizon, he may also hazzard a guess as to when that might be. Let’s say two Tuesdays from now. So July 22nd!

That is my guess and you can take that to the bank. With Naxx in hearthstone also on the rise, we are certainly in some exciting times.

Let’s rock.

25 Heroic Garrosh Hellscream – Metro’s Healing Guide!

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Welcome to Metro’s 25 man Heroic Healing guides for the Siege of Orgrimmar! It is important to understand that these guides are first aimed at helping healers understand their role, and then helping them maximize their play. Each will feature a general overview of the mechanics that matter to the healers, and conclude with a class-specific discussion. Let’s begin!

Understanding the encounter –

Congratz on making it to the final fight of the expansion. Being here IS understanding the encounter. Recognize the fact that this is the final progression target of Mists of Pandaria, and you will have a healthy respect for the ways this fight can crush your spirit and your body.

Luckily, as a healer your job is short and sweet. It may vary depending on the group you choose to venture with, so let’s first lay out the multiple ways we have attempted this encounter.

1 boss tank, 1 kite tank, 4 healers.
2 boss tanks, 1 kite tank, 4 healers.
1 boss tank, 1 kite tank, 5 healers.
2 boss tank, 5 healers.

These are all viable options, but we ultimately stick to having 1 boss tank, and 4 or 5 healers, depending on the group each week.

Regardless of which you chose, you need to understand that this is a potentially 15 minute encounter with many breaks in between, and a LOT of damage that needs to be healed in short bursts.

Once again, your utility will be your biggest benefit, so without further wasted breath, let’s begin the final guide for MoP!

*This is a very long fight, and there for a very long guide. Feel free to use CONTROL + F (Find feature) to explore the different segments you may have interest in reading.

Understanding the Healer’s Role –

For your benefit, I will break down each major demarcation of the encounter and explain the pitfalls of each from the healing position, as well as how you can maximize your raid’s ability to succeed.

Phase 1: The True Horde:

As soon as the encounter begins, the tank will already be in danger. Even with full BIS this boss is still the hardest hitting of any melee swings in the video game. Be ready for this.

The next damage to expect comes with the packs of adds. They will fixate on random players and do melee swings infused with shadow damage constantly. This will do a LOT of damage, and get even worse when he uses “Hellscream’s Warsong.” There should likely only be two sets, and the first one will die very quickly with everyone’s potion and CDs rolling.

When the second set comes in, you need specific people to chain lock downs, as if it were Challenge Mode. Our specific set is as follows:
Leg Sweep -> Shockwave -> Knockback 1 into Ring of Frost and Hunter Traps, Knock back 2, Gorefiend’s Grasp to Ox Statue -> They are killed by iron star.

If this is executed flawlessly, zero damage goes out. If it is not, 5-6 people will come VERY close to dying. Its honestly a fun mechanic to include in the last boss, so don’t expect to heal through it. Just contribute in what ways you can to their control.

The predictable damage of the phase comes in the form of the Iron Star hitting. Garrosh is still perfecting this technology, so after they go rolling through the room killing his “true horde” it will crash into the wall and do a LOT of shadow damage. This is a time for controlled CDs. Two are all there should ever be, so plan for it accordingly.

We use 1 Devo Aura, 1 Smoke Bomb, and 1 Anti Magic Zone for each. This is sufficient, but be sure to warn your wayward melee that leaving the zone+bubble is very risky.

The phase ends with little incident, and the 2nd hardest part of the encounter begins swiftly.

Transition 1: Temple of the Corrupted Serpent.

Things really escalate quickly in this phase, and it will require a portion of your cunn… no. ALL of your cunning as a guild to reliably perform the tasks you are asked in this phase.

This isn’t a general strategy guide, so it’s up to your group to organize how they want this done, but for completion’s sake understand you need 3 solid AOE interrupts or stuns.

There are a few ways healers can make a BIG impact on this, so let’s go through each option.

Holy Paladins can glyph the stun on Blinding Light. It must be glyphed, as the mobs can’t be knocked down or disoriented. If you are blood elf (which you should be,) you can rush up there, cast Blinding Light, and then AOE silence them with Arcane Torrent. From there, you can use Fist of Justice and Rebuke to interrupt two more individually, making possible for a Blood Elf Holy Paladin to handle all three adds for the entire duration. Any blood elf healer should volunteer for this. Taurens can do the same, but just be sure Warstomp is happening at the end of any stun chain, as it’s the shortest in the game. It will still work though.

Mistweaver Monks can function the same way, especially if you are Tauren or Bloodelf. Run up there, Leg sweep, and Arcane Torrent. You can even single interrupt one as well afterwards to get big value out of your slot.

Shaman should expect a glyphed cap to be needed, and if tauren offer Warstomp immediately after it. It may be difficult to get the stormlash down in time, even with the glyph so if you can’t get there quick enough make sure you can be the second in the chain. It may be possible to project the totem in time, but this is a big risk.

ANNIHILATE:

Once the adds are handled, your raid should make all 25 players getting the buff simultaneously of paramount importance. This phase does a LOT of damage even with the buff, so any player without it will be near 1 shot from the damage, even with the 800k health we have at 585~.

If there is only one or two people with the debuff, you can give them things like sac or iron bark. If there are 5+ you should consider using things like Devotion Aura or Healing Tide totem here. Anything that hits everyone will work, but make sure you can still move otherwise it will have to be cut short.

I can’t impress enough how much healing this actually requires even with 25 buffed, so don’t take it lightly. Make sure everyone is stacked near the boss and in AOE heals. Move slightly to avoid each hit, and spam your lives to full!

Phase 2: Power of Y’shaarj

Imagine if he ate the Heart...

Imagine if he ate the Heart…

Once you land back in the original room and get to your designated position, immediately consider preparing for the Whirling Corruption. This mechanic should happen three times before another transition, and each time it’s incredibly lethal if you are aiming to maximize DPS and stand through it.

If for some reason you are ranging it, then go ahead and skip this entire segment, as the phase would literally be damage-free.

Assuming you stayed, let’s talk about the best way to handle this phase as well as planning towards the next. As we learned from the previous phase, controlled burst is the name of the game. I would recommend 1-2 reduction CDs, and 1 strong aoe heal cd each time. It depends on your group of course, but this is our group’s set up:

Whirl 1: 1 Minute Priest and Paladin CDs, Anti Magic Zone. Least dangerous, with so long to prepare.

Whirl 2: Complicated by weapon CD, so be careful of the weapon team’s health.
Guardian of Ancient Kings from 2 paladins, Smoke bomb and second AMZ
Most dangerous because of weapon team.

Whirl 3: 1 minute Priest and Paladin CDs, Smoke Bomb.
Dangerous, but only use CDs you won’t need for the next phase.

This is all about preparation, so make sure you have your Healing Rains and Effloresces placed, pre shielding from priests and paladins, and spam your best AOE heal for 4-5 globals. Even with the health we have now, this is still very dangerous, but needed for the strategy to work properly.

Transition 2: Uhh where did they go!?

SKIP THIS PHASE MY FRIENDS! Why?
Here is why:

– As we saw in Transition 1, the damage from Annihilate is insane, even when all 25 people have the buff. In this phase, there is 0 percent chance of all 25 having the buff. This means you will need designated healing assignments and cd rotation. With only 4 healers, this won’t be possible.

– On top of this, the whole goal of doing these transitions is stopping him from empowering the next phase. If it were possible to skip the adds, I would be all for it, but no matter how fast you are he still makes it. Why bother, when all he does is gain some health back then?

– Final point is that this 1 minute downtime allows for a full regen of any healer mana, and gives times for 5 minute CDs to be assured for the most important phase.

Honestly, you need to 4-5 heal this. If you are in a guild that isn’t trying this strategy, tell them of these three benefits. Assure them that the DPS requirement can EASILY be met with this amount of health gained. The only other option is pushing to skip this whole thing entirely, which is very doable. If he ever enters it, you should not engage.

Phase 2 Finale: Who’s world?

This is a very crucial part of the encounter, and as a healer, it’s the first time you’ll start seeing the tank need constant attention. The whirls can no longer be CDed through, so make sure everyone is at range and avoiding the add damage as they hit. The damage her is the red herring to distract you from the tank. DO NO FALTER. If you do, and you are solo tanking the boss, it’s a wipe. He will die every time you miss globals on him to heal elsewhere. Always have at least 1-2 people dedicated to this job.

At this point, you should have your kite tank employed. If you choose to kill the adds, then use whatever your class can offer to help facilitate this. It’s much easier to kite them, provided you have a brewmaster who is a valued player. Any player with a high mechanic IQ can do it, even if they have mediocre gear. They should never take damage.

This is a short phase, but if you don’t focus on healing the tank and the raid enough at the right times it will be even shorter with a long run back and next pull. Get it right. It’s the most important part of the healing fight.

Phase 3: MY WORLD!

It’s his world, you can’t have it. The tank tries to take it from him, and he is very very unhappy about this. He will use his fists to make sure the tank does not take it. You will use your heals to make sure the tank does.

Plain and simple. If you didn’t get the message before, let me say it again. The tank WILL die if you don’t have 100 percent dedication to him at the right times. If you let the Empowered Whirl become more of a threat then it should be, it’s a wipe. Just light AOE heals, use devos, and stay focused.

Between the end of phase 2 and the entire phase three, we rotate every external we have. 4 sacs, Pain Suppression, Guardian Angel, and Iron Bark or whatever else we have if we have extra healers. If at any point, one of us missed this, its nearly a wipe. Also make sure to save Lay on Hands and Life Swap.

This entire phase is a flat out BURN. As healers, you need to know when to dps and when to heal. There is a great opportunity for this as he is transitioning. He is still in execute range, and not actually doing damage. Get 5-6 globals in of DPS to make the cushion that much easier. If you don’t meet the dps here, your entire strategy must change, so be prepared.

The other complication is a mechanic called Gripping Despair. This is what makes 1 tanking difficult, but easy at the same time. Essentially, the stack builds and builds and eventually explodes. With two tanks, it means this explosion is small, but often. With 1 tank, it means it likely happens only a few times. If you are unlucky (because of incredibly high DPS) it may never fall off until the end. Unfortunately, I doubt this is survivable. We had it happen to us once, and it killed everyone including the tank. Typically though, you should just be prepared for this AOE damage at the end of the phase while preparing for Stormwind Harbor. Have the tank call it out, and prepare with placement CDs like Smoke Bombs or Power Word Barrier.

And now, if you make it this far… Take a deep breath. This part is vital. The end is near, my friends. Just keep your heads level and get through it.

The grand finale! Phase Four: Stormwind Harbor!

Stay Calm!

Stay Calm!

I personally LOVE the added phases in Heroic modes, and this one doesn’t disappoint. There is time to take in the sights afterwards though…

So immediately, you’ll need to run to the boss’s tanking location and get stacked up in melee. I’ll assume you know how to handle the mechanics here, so just be ready for spot healing on players who get unlucky rolls on the damage from malice.

Tank damage is also very high, especially while moving the boss. Make sure you use the CDs you have left as they return, like Sac and Iron Bark, especially when moving from the Bombardment.

Speaking of, this is one of two things that can wipe you. It does a lot of damage even when not being hit, so make sure you plan around CDs. Use anything that doesn’t require people to stand in it, or the healer to channel it stood still. Should be obvious at this point.

Finally, the last true challenge. When the iron star hits Garrosh to interrupt him, you need to be very careful. This will happen as Malice is going out, so layer strong CDs on top of each other, preferably placement CDs like at the end of phase three. Smokebomb, AMZ, Spirit Link, and Power Word Barrier. Use them all, honestly. There is no reason not to. The damage this thing does is intense. Just keep an eye on the tank, who won’t be in any of these.

Expect one more Bombardment, which will be even more dangerous. Use Devo auras if you have them, and Rallying Cry or Demo Banner. Get back to the other side and quietly prepare celebration. Don’t vocalize it until after the third bombardment, but by the time this happens, the boss should be dead.

Congratulations. See my closing statement below.

TLDR Recap –

Bring as few healers as possible. NEVER forget the tank in the second half of the encounter. He will die if you do.

Stay calm when aoe healing, and rely on the preparation you have in place. Esepcially in phase three and four, use CDs to keep people alive from the AOE damage, and heal the tank over aoe spam. It’s easy to fall in that lull, and if you do you risk a wipe.

Without question, this is my favorite fight of the expansion. It’s extremely long, which is its one true downfall, making wipes absolutely heart wrenching. If you can see past that, you realize it’s truly a complete encounter. Every phase presents a different challenge, and I am a huge fan of the Challenge mode type mechanics in Phase 1 as well as the Heroic Nef mechanics in Transition 1, this time minus the lava and glitchy pillars!

Anyway, that’s if for these obviously. The next time you see a healing guide it will be on WoD Bosses. I for one cannot wait. MoP was the best expansion for raiding thus far, and anticipate WoD Being even better!

If you would like to see logs of a representative kill, you can find ours here. Currently set to the My World phase. Only phase that DPS matters. Feel free to browse though!

If you would like to see a video of our kill to better understand the strategy, you can do so here:

 

Premade Group Browser – Death of Many to Help No One?

premade

So I had a bit of a chat on this topic with some one and came upon quite a heavy realization.

Honestly, I was considering this to be the biggest feature in WoD and simply could not wait to test it and see it in action. When I heard it made it in with the previous build, I quickly went to make a video on it and see just what it was all about. Not all of it is working currently, but the stuff that is in is really neat. It appears there are predetermined sets of activities you can group for, divided along broader PVP and PVE boarders. There are also “custom” sets that you can simply set your own title and description for and hope people search for and find them.

Now when we think of this feature, and after we saw it at Blizzcon the grim realities came to mind immediately. The addon OQ, and the website Openraid.us (or .eu) are essentially this feature, but ran by separate enterprising folks. Its very likely this service has done a great deal for them, and even more likely did they change their lives to develop and maintain it. Obviously, I am extremely excited for this feature in game, but when you think about all the people who likely made a job out of managing and organizing these previous options, you can’t help but be upset.

#neverforget. RIP Wisdom

#neverforget. RIP Wisdom

The whole thing is akin to the addon Pallypower in TBC and Wrath. This was such an important addon and the developer of it became such a household name among paladins that it seems like he had carved out a niche of immortality within the game, on the level of Leroy. And then, Blizzard decided it was time for that man to become a mortal again. Not only did they take away 10 / 30 minute variants, but they changed it to only Kings or Might, which has gone through many iterations as well. Honestly, Paladin blessing was a lot of fun and was why the class was the way it was for a long time, and this one man and maybe a few of his friends made a life around helping others. Then all of a sudden, it was all gone.

 

So this sob story is just expected, and really only a bleeding heart would weep for these situations. But realistically, it does effect people. The bright side is, this brand new feature that will allow players to organize premade groups across each World of Warcraft region will change the game and help many more people than it hurts right?
Well… maybe not. This was the topic of our conversation, and the revelation that came over me was how few people will still not use this.

Honestly, OQ and openraid are in no way invasive. What’s the difference now? Instead of downloading an addon or going to a website, you can now just do it in game. Who is this targeted for? The ultra-lazy? More likely the ultra-oblivious.

Which is great, because adding add-on functionality into the default game is logical but…

Well the issue that we have come to realize is that the people who need this feature still wont use it, and likely won’t have any clue what it does anyway.
Think about this. About half way into SoO, some months after the feature was displayed at Blizzcon, a predecessor of sorts was demoed in the game.

Currently, if you go to the raid tab and use the vestigial raid browser that was once implemented to help people declare their intent, you can list your name for any Flex wing, as well as Ordos and Celestials. This is great, because it is a smaller version of what we have been speaking about, and seems to work flawlessly, right? Well it has the same flaws that I have come to realize the new system will carry as well.

You see, all this system has done is make it so there are never any people looking on Openraid for Flex or the World bosses. All the intelligent people who would have used the third parties to find groups now just list their name in game.
Meanwhile, all the ultra-oblivious continue their derpin ways and spam general chat on the timeless isle looking for 39 more for Ordos.

I see this weekly, and it really adds the pieces together for me after thinking long and hard about this new premade group browser.

The statement that was made that was stunning to me was

They really need to get this thing working perfectly, it needs all the functions of other group finders like OQ…
I’m just worried people wont use it. The idea is so promising, but if people aren’t using it or are using different group finders because this one lacks a function or two then it just wont work. It needs a lot of active users to attract more users.

Truer words were never spoken, and it was this that caused a ripple effect leading me to believe that this too will be a flop, as was the previous iterations.

Not because its poorly designed, but just because people are too clueless and too stubborn. People like myself will love this feature, but half the game will still refuse to acknowledge it, so it will just be a few thousand people all searching for the same things over and over again.

I have grandiose ideas in my head already for this, like weekly “normal” raids, world boss groups, challenge modes, achievement runs…Tywin-Lannister-house-lannister-245
Honestly, this was my most anticipated feature, but after thinking about how many hard working people it will put out of business, and how few people will actually come to discover it, it really makes me worried.

The future of the feature will be decided in the first few weeks people are 100. It can establish a dynasty that will last a thousand years… or it can collapse into nothing, as the Targaryens did.

Only time will tell. I remain optimistic, but there are many reasons to be worried.

Check out what has made it into the beta thus far:

Darkmoon Faire: Not your average big top!

The serpentine eye glowing yellow-red in the impending darkness may look like it’s straight out of the Lord Of The Rings series, but for any WoW aficionado, we know differently. That eye against the purple, yellow, and green checkered flag can mean only one thing; Darkmoon Faire. For those who don’t know, the first Sunday of every month a tent and portal is put up in each of the main thoroughfares. For Alliance it’s Elwynn Forest right outside of town and for Horde, it’s Mulgore, right outside of Thunder Bluff. You can either run there or you can visit one of the Darkmoon Mystic Mages located in Stormwind and Orgimmar respectively. For a small fee they will transport you to the entrance tent.

Dmf Mystic Mage

Like any Faire, there are rides, games, and tasks you do for the equivalent of skeeball tickets. These are called Darkmoon Prize Tickets. While you can’t “taste the hot dogs and French fries they sell,” you can find your favorite boardwalk game down the street of big tops. Whether it’s the shooting gallery, whack-a-Gnoll, or my personal favorite tonks (which is a cross between RC cars and demolition derby) you’re sure to be able to find ways to let the time slip from your grasp and get lost in this mystical treasure island. Like any faire, the more games you play the more prize tickets you get. The more prize tickets you get the more items you have the power to purchase, ranging from clothing, to armor, to your very own set of stationary carousel toys. Additionally, the majority of the games are dailies so you can go back every day of the faire with the exception of the strongwoman.. and what I’m about to tell you.

DMF cannon2

All of the dailies are fun. All of them kill time. But none of them are the meat and bones of what Darkmoon Faire really is. This monthly world is a chance to get a leg up in your skills and professions. Once you are over 75 in your chosen skill set you can visit an array of characters who give you quests. Tired of running through Kalimdor for their dailies? No problem! Pack a bag of flour head, to the fair and visit with Stamp Thunderhorn. I promise you will never see frogs the same way again. You’ll also walk away with a +5 to cooking skill. Yes, you see it right. A +5. Of note, he also trains fishing. Around the corner from him you’ll find First Aid, Skinning, and Healing. Every last one of these little quests is +5. We all hate working up Enchanting. Well, make sure to hit the Faire because it clips off an enormous amount of time for you. Leatherworking, Herbalism, Alchemy, Inscription, Tailoring.. the list goes on and on. The kicker is that these are one time a month quests. They aren’t dailies.

Cooking quest DMF

I’m not sure any of us are ever finished. After all, there are alts to level and pets to collect. Something you can do at the Faire as well thanks to the new tent they put up. But even if you’re 90, there is the Darkmoon Den Mother Moonfang to kill who drops a pet, among other loot. Make sure you get your experience buff by riding the carousel!

Buff from carousel DMF

Finally, Last not but least; make sure you see Selina Dourman the Undead at the start of the main street and grab a Darkmoon Adventure Book. As long as you have it on you, while you’re out doing dungeons you have the chance for something from the Faire to drop. When it does you can return it for more tokens and tickets. Don’t forget to visit the stage near the waters’ edge so the Chieftans can rock your virtual world!

DMF information desk

From our big top to yours….

 

 

 

 

Darker Nights in WoD – Why You Will be Disappointed

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There are a lot of really great features to look forward to in WoD, and this weekend Corey Stockton confirmed yet another to add to the list: Darker Nights!

This is something a lot of you probably are getting really excited about, and rightfully so. MoP did SO much to expand on the lighting engine and WoD looks to be taking it to the next level. Especially with how much detail and splendor has gone in to each zone, its really enriched by having this high contrast between night and day. If done right, it could make things look even more beautiful, but even if left as is, I feel there is still plenty of wonder the current system brings.

Unfortunately, I can say with confidence that people advocating this don’t quite understand what they are asking for.

First, examine these two images. They are likely the best example of what I am about to discuss, and are taken from the WoD Alpha.

Day n Night... uh uh

Day n Night… uh uh

I toss n turn, keep stressin my mind, mind.

I toss n turn, keep stressin my mind, mind.

In order to full understand why and what short comings this system will undoubtedly have, you need to understand what IRL night and day will need to have in common with in game.

Contrast:

As you will see in the screenshots above, the first step is contrast. Honestly, even though these are from the Beta, its possible that screenshot of the Night sky isn’t actually new or different from whats in the game now. One thing that I know everyone will be upset about is the fact that they are going to have to make day more bright in order to facilitate a darker night. This is really non-negotiable, and you can see it clear as day (no pun intended) in the first image. The sky is literally orange to help emblazon the iris and create dramatic contrast from the dark blue/black on the second image. Of course, this means its a success, but I can all the threads popping up now comparing the night sky to the current one and saying there is barely a difference.

Void:

Another concept many people don’t understand about IRL night and the color black in general, is it is quite literally the lack of color. White, on the other end of the spectrum both literally and figuratively, is the combination of all colors feasible. Colors themselves are different lengths of light energy, making black devoid of light. This is why the sky turns black at night, because with the sun gone, all light and therefor color is vacant.

So how will this be processed in game? There are two ways in my mind, both of which will likely disappoint people. You see, in classic, they had dark nights as well as very severe weather which effected the game quite a lot. The fact that this weather and night skybox actually removed light from the landscape, make the world MUCH harder to see and navigate through. In the very early stages, they actually dimmed the world to facilitate this, and eventually decided that this sort of change was altering the game too much, as well as incompatible with the graphical developments they wanted to use.

So one of two ways is that they return to this model. It unfortunately appears this will be the case, as you can see in the images. Take a moment to open both on two separate tabs, and then cycle through them. When looking at the day image, look through the break in the trees, and then click over to the night image. You will immediately notice your eyes struggling to make out what was clear before. This is quite literally because of the void. Instead of the imagery being bathed in light, they have actually removed the source, and once again terrain will be effected. View distance seems to be a primary culprit, but its likely that any large and rocky terrain will be more difficult to navigate as the light ceases to permeate each bend along the way. This will no doubt disappoint anyone traveling, but perhaps with the lack of flying mounts it will be less noticeable.

The other way they can address this is by placing pockets of light in key locations. You can tell they are struggling this implementing this, at least as far as these images go, because the shadows are not actually different. It appears as if they have just tinted down the brightscale, which makes sense, but does really strange things to the light-based imagery that was there before. Notice the torch in the image and the shadow of the tree covering it. If they add actual radiating light from it, as many items and places do already have in WoW, the shadows would have to react to it. This is a more appropriate handle of void, and would effect the terrain MUCH less, as well as brightly illuminate specific areas, showing off the dazzling lighting system. Unfortunately, this wont happen in most situations, and re-rendering the entire shadow table to change as the time transitions to emulate sun setting is not something they will have time for. It will likely happen in places that are more commonly dark, people will notice, and then complain about it not happening in the normal open world.

Transition:

The final concern I have interest in is the actual transition between night and day and vice versa. This is an incredibly important part of the real life contrast and if not handled properly, there is no point in even trying the system. Frankly, I’m not sure exactly how it works now. It appears as if, once it is the time they have designated as night time, it is as dark as it ever will be. I haven’t noticed a gradient, but that doesn’t mean its not there.

Regardless, this will certainly draw the ire of anyone serious about this concept, and I just can’t see it happening. At one point, there was an entire weather and day based calendar in WoW, which showed you what weather was persistent, and what time of day it was exactly. That has long since been gone after the inclusion of an actual calendar, and I can’t see it returning. Its likely they will have some transition gradient, but to elongate it based on area, and actually make the sun and moon dance in the sky as they do eternally in the real world just seems unlikely to me. Perhaps I have no faith, but the promises they make about these things usually don’t include finer details. They just hear everyone complain about night barely being different, and change the sky box and how it emits light.

Surely, people find a way to complain about everything though, so its not in any way a surprise to me.

 

I for one, am looking forward to seeing this in action. I wouldn’t mind doing a time-lapse video on exactly what they choose to enter in, but just remember. Night is quite literally devoid of light. You are asking for this. I hope you realize what this means!
It has the potential to be truly ambient, but it will also make traveling and questing vastly different from being done in the Day.

Hell, maybe they even make some mobs act differently at night? That would be neat…

 

 

Dark Light is a Synesthesian myth and a HIM Album.

Dark Light is a Synesthesian myth and a HIM Album.

Warlords of Draenor Betakey Giveaway!

wod thumbnail

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.

squiddy

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

Rob Retires, Fire Puppy, and Last Call at the Tavern!

pardo72908

It’s been quite a busy week at and around Blizzard, starting first with the release of build #3 on the current Beta servers. It was a bit of a stretch to think that UBRS and updated faction cities could be added successfully before the Fourth of July, but this time they managed to not only make it happen, but have a bunch of other topics of interest arise all within a two day span!

#1. RIP Bobert Pards

Robert “The Yodel” Pardo announced his departure from Blizzard at a very awkward time just the other day; this coming a few months after Ghostcrawler (AKA Gregory Street) did the same in favor of joining League of Legends, some free to play game or something. Now this is news for a number of reasons, but of course most importantly because of the level of clout this man ranked as a member of the top 100 most influential men in the world once had within the company.

During Warcraft III through TBC, Rob was Lead Designer and ultimately the man in charge of any game elements to cross the boardroom. Whether this means he was single handedly behind the game’s early success can not be measured, but it is of note. Now just a few weeks in to the public test for the upcoming expansion he is still credited as “contributing designer” on, he decides it would be best to leave the company. Did they want him to work on Fourth of July? I’ve seen people quit for that…

A while back, it was discussed that top level designers at Blizzard can be paid up to 400k USD yearly, and his name was at the top of the top. What leads some one once in this position to quit two days before a major holiday, and a few months in to a highly anticipated expansion?

The immediate answer I can think of is a position he wishes to pursue elsewhere, however he explicitly states that he plans on “enjoying the summer” with his family before making any other plans. Even stranger is that his post was edited by Bashiok, who did not contribute to the conversation.

Does this mean there was some bad blood? What 6 figure designer leaves a multi title and platform company months into a massive development, as well as a few days before the biggest holiday of the summer? I itch to learn what his next stop is, if any, and drool at the thought of all the rampant speculation that seems logical to us as fans.

#2 Momma, there goes that dog!

As if to distract us from the Rob Pardo situation, there were two other pieces of media released from Blizzard just a few hours afterwards. The first of which, is the Cinder Kitten’s arch nemesis, the Molten Corgi. Obviously a pun on the original 40 man raid Molten Core, this pet clocks in with utterly adorable features, at least given the first preview we have.

Woof! :D

Woof! :D

It was Johnathan LeCraft, a relative of rapper Mike Jones, (who?) who delivered the news to us via his twitter, seemingly out of obscurity. A fellow Senior Game Designer, LeCraft is not some one many people recognize as a household name, making the decision even stranger, albeit his involvement with pet battles and professions.

Its almost certain this pet will join its counterpart as a pet store exclusive, especially after the announcement of the Winged Guardian leaving for good. The once charitable cause seems to be a favorite for blizzard now, and likely stimulates their billions even more so than other payment features the game revolves around.

To go on the record, I fully support the shop and the pets and mounts that come with it. I have not made a single purchase through it, and advocate it is in no way effecting the game or its quality. Its akin to them making WoW tshirts and selling those, only these items are in game instead. You can buy them if you like, or you can shut your mouth.

Moving on.

#3 Mists of Pandaria Trailer, Directors Cut?

Even stranger and more distracting is the 40~ seconds of extension they released to further conclude the Horde v Alliance battle that took place in the MoP intro cinematic.

After watching this, it certainly makes you wonder just whats going on inside the studios. Where did this actually come from? Was it truthfully made way back in the day, and was being saved for a special occasion such as July 4? Its hard to believe this, and for once I find myself siding with the internet scientists and their absurd theories. The most logical of assumptions is to conclude Pandaria, but if you listen closely, you hear the music that plays while you are entering and waiting on menus in Hearthstone, their landmark Collectable Card Game which is getting progressive Esport popularity.

Some would say the point of the message and short clip is to say, “Well there won’t be any more WoW content, but why not check out Hearthstone?”

This makes sense, as these two characters are now officially in the Warcraft universe, so it appears as if they have been invited to the “Tavern.” It also makes sense because Hearthstone is amazing. Honestly, its entirely free to play, very addictive, and has no benefit for funds.

People will try to claim its “pay to win” but all you can buy with money are packs of cards, not anything specific, so its entirely useless unless you are looking to elevate your odds of getting a card you prefer. Plenty of people can compete at high levels without spending a dollar, so if that is your thing, I would really recommend it. Its pace of play as well as extremely light cpu load make it PERFECT for when you are just sitting around waiting for a queue in WoW, or just bored in general.

Regardless, if this is their message I support it 100 percent. Its time people realize that Blizzard and Warcraft in general is part of something larger. There are now 5 amazing games that are currently in heavy upkeep from Blizzard:
World of Warcraft,
Starcraft II,
Hearthstone,
Diablo III,
and Heroes of the Storm.

Honestly, all five of these games are magnificent, and if you ever get bored of one, the other isn’t far away. With the new battle.net launcher becoming mandatory, its very important that Blizzard continues to cross-promote these brands all under the same umbrella. Huge fan of the idea.

 

Anyway, that’s been that for this little news segment. I hope everyone enjoyed their Fourth of July. Unless you are French. Then you lost to Germany.

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Who am I?

Who am I?