Too good to be true?

Taken from the preliminary 2.3 patch notes:

  • Damage coefficient reduction is removed from Improved Fireball/Frostbolt. (Source)
  • New spell : Ritual of Refreshment. It will allow players to pick up their own stack of food/water, similar to a Soulwell. (Source)
  • Evocation restores 15% of your total mana every 2 seconds instead of being a spirit-based mana regen increase. (Source)
  • Arcane Meditation is being increased to 10/20/30% mana regeneration. (Source)
  • Ice Barrier gains additional benefit from spell damage bonuses. However, the base absorb values of ranks 5 and 6 have been reduced. (Source)

  • New Recipe - Field Repair Bot: Dropped(?) by Gan'arg Analyzers in Blade's Edge Mountains
  • New Field Repair Bot is able to buy/sell
  • Flying Mount added for Engineers. Regular and Epic version.

  • Fish Tracking may be learned from a journal, fished from crates
  • New fish added near Karazhan and Zul'Aman

  • New Daily Quests
  • New recipes added for fish found near Karazhan and Zul'Aman.

Mage and Engineering buffs in the same patch? Who are you and what have you done with Blizzard?


Meditations at the Edge

Wh.. where am I? I'm.. back at Eversong. I feel.. numb. That troll really did a number on me.. I have to find a physician. Maybe there's someone in the capital..

Where are all the guards? How would they dare desert their posts? Why are the gates open? And what's that smell? Oh no.. burning flesh! I try hurry inside, but my legs have lost their vigor, and I think I'm missing a tendon.

The capital.. A thick plume of smoke rises from somewhere near the Sunfury Spire, and there's blood on the cobblestones. Are we being invaded again? I crouch and reach towards the blood. I hope it's trollish. My hand is gray and withered. I need a physician.. and soon.

A scream interrupts me. I turn, and see a lady, wearing the colors of the house Sunfalcon.

"Miss, no need to be alarmed. I am a ranger, and will defend you as long as I'm able." At least, that's what I try to say. All I hear is gurgling. I sprint towards her. But why? There's no immediate danger.. She tries to run. I jump and grab her. She tries to struggle. Tasty.. What?! What am I thinking? My.. claws sink into her supple flesh. I cannot control myself. I wish to scream, but I know it won't help.

"Vile abdomination!", I hear from behind me. My head turns, and I see a Magister in golden robes, conjuring a spell.

"Kill me!", I yell. The fiery blast tears through my chest, and I feel cold. Cold?

The pain in my elbow draws me back to reality. My body aches and the wind bites into my flesh. I'm lying on a rocky surface with barely any clothes on me. I open my eyes, and the night sky fills my vision. Where am I?

I'm.. still in Thousand Needles. Or rather.. on one of them. There's "needles" as far as my eyes can see, and I have a hard time approximating my location. However, this one seems to have a wooden platform built into it. I don't see any ropes, elevators or other means of escape, though. There is a curious drawing on the rocks, apparently of tauren design. And.. a brown leather bag. I pick it up and open it. I slowly reach into the bag and my hand finds a bottle. Judging from the blue color, it seems to be a mana potion, so I drink it immediately. Judging from my thirst, it's been at least two days since my defeat in the cave. I absent-mindedly grab a loaf of bread from the bag and sit down for my meal. What happened after I passed out? Who brought me here? And why here, of all places?

RP, PvP and improvisation

Drama in four easy steps, Defias Brotherhood-style:

  1. Hold an RP event

  2. Interrupt the said event with an opposite faction raid

  3. Accuse the defenders of being carebears

  4. Accuse the attackers of being OOC
Add some forum trolling for flavor and leave it to fester for a while.

Apparently some people still think that RP and PvP are mutually exclusive concepts. If you PvP, you can't be RPing. And proper RP doesn't include PvP, especially the sort where you lose. I've seen the same arguments before on my first server, Argent Dawn Europe. Fortunately, there were some guilds who showed the third way. That RP can be adapted to PvP, and that PvP raids can be motivated by RP. A lesson that has been forgotten by too many. What better way is there to kick off some random RP than to having to organize an ad-hoc defense? But no, instead of even trying to actually react to the actions of other players, their actions are labelled as OOC only because they don't fit in your idea on how the event should have progressed.

If you want total control over your RP, I suggest that you stick to writing stories. But if you want to improvise and actually play with other players.. I'll see you in the game.


Paying 10k for.. nothing

In a move that surprised nobody but the buyer, Blizzard has banned the player who bought a Black Temple-geared, Twin Blades of Azzinoth-wearing rogue for $10,000.


Gold sellers changing tactics

Apparently Blizzard's mail filters are so effective that gold sellers have switched to using the Auction Houses. Of course, this should be easy to detect as well, just monitor the AH for wild anomalies in item prices.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't

Defias forums keep supplying me with drama, and today is not an exception. This time someone's quitting the game and blames Blizzard for banning a pedophile-friendly guild.

Granted, that's only a small part of his argument, and I even agree with him on some of the points, particularly on Blizzard's habit of making large parts of the world obsolete. However, like in many other quitting posts, the point is not about making valid, constructive criticism. Instead, he opts to disguise his opinion as the general consensus of the player base. Because he mentions all the alternative games and singles out a few people for praise, I think he's only testing the waters. I think his purpose is just to see how many people would follow him. In other words, a last-ditch attempt in attention-seeking.

Well, he's got mine. Flamewars are fun to watch.


Out of Your League

Being a Farstrider was not exactly as glamorous as Lieutenant Dawnrunner had claimed it to be. Yes, one of the first assignments was to reclaim our land from the vile Scourge, the barbaric Kal'dorei and the sadistic trolls. A noble and just cause, one that I had been privileged to be part of. And as a token of appreciation for Lordaeron's help, my superiors had ordered me to assist in the defense of Lordaeron. Seeing the camps, the hanged and the empty graves revealed all too well the truth about our former.. "allies". A fate of slavery, disgrace and death that the Prince was wise to reject. All in all, re-enlisting had seemed like a good choice. Until now.

Dust. Wind. Cliffs as far as my elven eyes can see. Man-horses and mongrels everywhere. The wisdom of my superiors eludes me. I try, but I cannot see how I can serve the High Home in this ravaged place. I should be waging war against the Kal'dorei in Ashenvale or recovering manuscripts written by ancient masters in Azshara. Not.. scurrying favor with the bull-men.

Airin growls. She has discovered an unusual smell. I slight nod from me, and my graceful lynx bursts into action, her fur-tipped ears perking up. I can feel her excitement, and it's almost intoxicating. Maybe it's one of the Kal'dorei or even a dwarf? Maybe they'll leave me alone if I bring back some proof of an enemy scouting party..

Airin blazes through a narrow passage, and stops to wait for me. There was a small clearing behind the spires. As I catch up, I see that the clearing has been stained red. Airin slowly manouvers past the two bodies, not even stopping to smell them. The bodies belonged to harpies, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what killed them. No lacerations, no crushed bones.. but it's as if there's something missing from them.

Airin growls again. She's found something. An empty bottle. Airin resumes tracking the scent while I examine the bottle. Clearly the type used by alchemists. A few drops of a greenish liquid are still within, but I cannot identify the substance by smell alone, and I am not going to taste it. Beyond the opening lies a sloping path upwards, towards a cave. There is an another bottle at the top of the slope, and yet another at the mouth of the cave. Cries of the harpies echo from the cave. Airin carefully steps into the cave, moving as silently as only the finest felines can. Three more dead harpies lie on the path. Whatever entered here had no problem dispatching them. Airin's ears perk up right before the cries of the harpies crescendo. They are fighting the intruder. I hear sharp claws tearing flesh. Airin continues on her steady pace. She is no stranger to the ways of the hunt. Wait until the prey has tired itself out, then strike. I ready my bow.

The cries stop. With my nod, Airin dashes around the corner, and moments later I hear her vicious growls, a thud and her claws tearing flesh. I run past the corner and aim. Airin has felled a some sort of a humanoid and ripping apart it's back. Torn cloth flies in the air. Airin grabs the humanoid's neck between her jaws and drags it away from the cave wall, allowing me to make the finishing blow. The blood has colored the prey's blueish flesh purple. I see two-toed, bare feet. A troll. My lucky day. But then I hear something I have not heard before.

Airin yelps in terror. It takes me a moment to realize why. She's been impaled by.. something. Her precious blood drips along the shaft of the troll's weapon. Then she yelps as she is impaled yet again. She goes limp, but the beast won't stop. It impales by beautiful Airin again. And again. And again.

"You'll pay for your crimes in blood, beast!", I find myself yelling in my native Thalassian. I release my arrow and immediately prepare an another.. but it was right there.. behind me!

I reflexively shield myself with my bow as I turn, but to no avail. It impales my elbow with something cold. I dive to my left and out of it's sight. I grab my Sin'dorei Warblade from my back, but my elbow is complicating things. I'm having trouble holding it high. I will not be able to do much damage, but this will have to do. I hear the beast's footsteps, and some sort of a grating sound.. like metal on stone. Of course. Not even a troll could have much strength left after that beating. It is handicapped as well. As it walks around the corner, I swing my sword low. Just as I'm about to cut it's feet off.. the blade strikes an invisible barrier, elicting a small hum. I look up towards the she-troll..

Ow! The bitch slashed my face! How dares she?! A low hum reaches my ears and I roll behind a rock, slamming my injured elbow to the cold stone. The patch of stone where I lay just moments before freezes instantly. Great. A troll witch. I look at my bloodied hand.. since when was my blood black? And it's awfully cold in here.. I need a breather to bandage my elbow and then.. the witch will taste justice. I look around, spot an another cave entrance and sprint towards it.


This cut really stings.. what did it hit me with? And how can such a small cut bleed so much? I need to get this quickly under control. With my good arm, I grab a roll of bandages from my pocket and roll it over my face. There. That should stop the bleeding. I take a look at my elbow and to my surprise, I see an icicle sticking through it. I grab the thick end and slowly pull it out. By Sun, this hurts.. After three very long seconds, the icicle dislodges from my elbow and shatters on the floor of the cave. I wrap the remaining bandages around my elbow. After this I will need to pay a visit to a priestess. Or if I'm fortunate, I'll encounter a Blood Knight in a good mood..

I listen to the scraping sound. The she-troll is moving closer, dragging her weapon along the floor. I sneak a peek around the corner. Her tattered robes are stained with her blood. One of the shoulder straps has been torn, and the other one is barely holding the robe together. Blood slowly flows from her neck, and her dreadlock-covered head is resting on her shoulder pad. Good old Airin. Even in her death throes she managed to inflict a mortal wound to her foe. The she-troll keeps her weapon behind her, but it seems like a some sort of a sword. A long one, judging from her posture. Her other arm hangs limply. But how is it still standing, let alone walking? I have seen trolls succumb to less grievous wounds.

She clumsily swings her sword up front, and then drags it back behind her along the floor.. Are my eyes deceiving me? The blade seemed to cut the air itself, revealing the darkness behind. What sorcery is this? The she-troll does it again, and now I see the blade clearly. It's as black as the darkest night, drawing my gaze in..

The she-troll stops. It slowly raises the blade and starts to cut the air.. Gah! She's cutting my face again! How? The cut on my face reopens and black blood seeps through the bandages. Is this the "voodoo" the Forsaken mentioned? How am I supposed to fight that? I turn back behind the wall and try to stand up, but my legs are powerless. Augh! She's doodling on my chest with her cursed blade! I need to get away.. I need to get away.. I crawl along the wall, trying to find an another entrance. I hear the scraping sound again. I turn around to my back.

The she-troll is deteriorating in front of my very eyes. Her robe is moth-ridden and her skin ashen gray. The blood has dried and is as black as mine. The sleeve on her limp arm is torn, revealing her gray bones underneath. One of her ears drops to the floor unceremoniously , but she does not bleed. She keeps swinging her sword in front of her, leaving a trail of black.. smoke in it's wake. The scraping sound is loud, loud enough to tear into my skull..

"I killed you! Stay back! Stay back!"

I blink, and she is standing right next to me. The pungent stench of death fills my nostrils. she raises her sword-arm across her maggot-ridden chest, starts the swing and..


The (moral) choices we make

WoW Insider has an interesting discussion about the appeal of the Horde.

To me, the Horde just seemed like the more interesting faction of the two. Not only pretty much everyone wants to kill them, they also struggle with themselves. Take Thrall and Grommash Hellscream, for example. Their stories present very interesting questions. Can you stay honorable when your enemies have no honor and your own people are all too ready to be ruled by their instincts? Can you turn a life of violence into something positive and not lose yourself in the process?

To me, whether someone thinks of themselves as moral is a moot point if they have never been tempted. You can truly be moral only after you've successfully resisted the worst in you. The Alliance are in general raised to believe that they are moral, honorable and just. But in their day-to-day lives, those morals are never put to the test. And when they are, the results can be disastrous. Can one forgive dragons who were unable to save your son? Can one stick to your promise to pay the craftsmen who built a city for you, even if you couldn't really afford it? Can one recognize a common threat instead of clinging to old hatreds? Can you admit that your way might not be the best way to deal with an overwhelming threat, and that your end may not justify all your methods?

Sylvanas Windrunner is also one of the more interesting characters in WoW. Can you cope with a situation where unspeakable evil was done to you? Can you overcome your bitterness, self-hatred and not lash out at everything? Can you still appreciate the beautiful things in life, even if those things never will be yours to enjoy ever again? I like to think that Blizzard is exploring these same things. For example, one of the lowbie Blood Elf quests ends up with the player delivering a memento from the past to Sylvanas. Although she claims she doesn't care about things like that anymore, she still feels for the Highborne.

I've tried to explore the same aspects with my characters as well. My first character was a Forsaken priest who tried to cling to his humanity through all the hatred and evil he witnessed. Shalkis, on the other hand, is trying to balance her desire to do good with her violent nature. She may be megalomaniacal, scheming, bipolar, violent and sadistic. But evil? No. If the common good requires slaughtering a city full of her own kind worshipping a long-lost god, she'll be knee-deep in the dead. If someone needs some children rescued from the Arakkoa, she'll be happy to help. If the common good requires her to set aside her prejudices and smash Scourge together with humans, dwarves, gnomes and night elves, she will. If the best chance for peace includes joining forces with glowing thingamajics, a human mage, snobby elves and buffoonish squidfaces, she will do it with a smile on her face.


RMT driving away core players

Nerfbat argues that RMT drives away players that an MMORPG requires to survive. In other words, core players, the early adopters, the enthusiasts.

Nerfbat compares RMT to monthly subscriptions. If a company uses subscriptions it's overcharging the casual players and undercharging the hardcore. RMT on the other hand is closer to microtransactions. You pay for what you use. If RMT is prevalent in a game, the casuals will most likely get more bang for the buck while hardcore players end up paying much more to stay on the bleeding edge. If the L33t Sword of Uberness drops only from The Nigh-Impossible Boss of Doom, they'll kill it. If it can be bought for 50€, they'll buy it. To them, it's all about getting everything out of the game. If RMT is banned, the hardcore will get a lot of value for their subscription. This is one part that keeps them playing: great value for their money.

But why would a company cowtow to the hardcore? Surely the casual player market is larger.. It is, but the hardcore are the early adopters, the grassroots recruiters, the review-writers and the fansite creators. They have extensive knowledge of the game, and the casuals do listen to them. They are the initiators of the network effect that attracts the casuals into the game. Without them, there is no casual market. Their opinion can literally decide a game's fate.


Block inter-account gold transfers?

Tobold has come up with an idea to distrupt gold farmers, and it's surprisingly simple: Block gold transfers between accounts by mail.

Roleplaying subconciously

According to the Daedalus Project, the avatars used affect our behaviour within the game. For example, players using beautiful avatars were more likely to initiate contact and players using tall avatars were more confident and aggressive in negotiations.

In other words, people roleplay subconciously.


Shake that booty!

The best parties are always at private servers.