Warcraft Whats Next Panel Recap (spoilers!)

The Warlords of Draenor website has three new character model previews: Gnome, Dwarf, & Orc.

Wowhead has talent calculators up with the level 100 talents for all classes!

The What’s Next Panel Recap:

  • Garrosh is put on trial. He escapes before the verdict. He has a new friend with a “unique ability to bend time”
  • Garrosh goes back. He hates the Horde now, and hates the alliance, too. He goes back to “a place and time when the world makes sense to him”
  • Wants to take the horde back to a more ideal time. He wants to stop the one moment that defined the history of azeroth: He wants to stop the moment when the orcs drink the blood. Wants to build an “iron horde” with all the chieftains of old, with some of the present technology. Wants to build a different, but uncorrupted, horde. Wants to lead the iron horde thru the dark portal to “align” it to our time.
  • Most of the expansion takes place in Old Draenor. Feels like outland, but is a contiguous continent.
  • Garrosh facilitates the storytelling, but is NOT the Big Bad Boss.
  • Grommash unites the orc clans.

7 new zones in Draenor:

Draenor

  • Map has reminiscent aspects of Outlands (similar scale).
  • This will still feel completely different – rebuilt from scratch.

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New character model update:

  • Want the same feel as the old character models, but higher visual fidelity. Better facial detail – The faces will smile and emote. Updated animations with the visual model changes.
  • Art panel will show more detail on the race updates.

New Feature Updates!

  • You get to build your own base on Draenor. “This is the world of warcraft version of housing”.
  • Collect followers. You get offline progression by sending your followers off do do things.
  • You can customize and make decisions about: what zone you put your base in, what buildings you want in what spots.
  • Limited access to professions you don’t have. “You can build a mine in your base. Extra mining nodes… Send NPC with mining skill to do your dirty work for you”
  • Each of the buildings will offer different bonuses. You can choose what is important to you. Three tiers of progression in building your garrison.
  • You can move the garrison to a new place.
  • Monuments & trophies – tied to things like achievements or kills. Mount trophies in your town hall in your garrison!!!
  • Specializations for your buildings feel like having a talent tree – bonuses will vary.

Other game systems updates:

  • “Just play for us for the next 4 or 5 weeks and then you can play with us” – Greg
  • The boost to level 90 is because “WOW is better with friends”. You can boost one of your characters to level 90. This can include brand-new characters. Cleans up your bags, quest log, and action bar. Doesn’t take anything away, but want to make the experience “seamless”.
  • Inventory Updates: Collections. Account-wide. Adding Heirlooms, Toys, & possibly tabards. These will be cross-realm,
  • Quest items no longer stored in bags.
  • Craft directly from banks. Larger stacks for crafting items.
  • Adventure guide gives you “at a glance information to progress from your character”. Path to gear upgrades customized for your character individually (can tell if you play a lot of PVP, PVE, what professions you have). Tells you what raid content you are ready for.
  • Level 100 talents. Going to split talent tooltips by spec.

Dungeons & Raids:

  • 7 new dungeons, including revamped heroic UBRS.
  • Normal, heroic, & challenge dungeons – even normal of the max level dungeons.
  • Start with 2 new raids (highmaul & blackrock foundry) with 16 bosses.
  • Raid Philosophy: “Flex is awesome”!
  • Normal-mode raids will have flexible 10 to 25 size
  • Heroic raid flexible 10 to 25 size
  • Mythic (new difficulty) as a fixed size 20-man raid.

Pvp updates:

  • I missed this section, due to freaking out over the raiding changes. Sorry!

Interview updates:

  • They are still planning to do the stat squish.
  • Other changes to stats coming, like removing hit/expertise, and adding movement speed and cleave as stats on gear.
  • They haven’t started working on moonkin model updates, but it’s “on the list”.

Stat squish example from @djtyrant

Statsquish

I will be on an airplane during tomorrow’s Blizzcon day, so I won’t be able to post immediate recaps of panels tomorrow.

Druid level 100 talents from @HamletEJ:

Druid_talent1Druid_talent_2Druid_Talent3

Warcraft Opening Ceremonies Recap (spoilers)!

More info available on Blizzard’s Website.

Blizzcon 2013 Opening Ceremony Announcement Recap

  • New World of Warcraft expansion is the Warlords of Draenor.
  • “when you think about all that history, all that context, a really interesting question comes to mind… What if those dark days could come again? What if a pantheon of the most viscious villans of Warcraft could threaten our homes, our ways of life again?”
  • “The conflict to come will be the alliance’s finest hour”
  • Horde “A chance to redefine yourselves in this brave new world”
  • “There will be much heroism for all”

Expansion cinematic reveal:

  • Past and the present collide
  • “A rising tide of blood and iron that will wash over this world”
  • New world: Draenor
  • Build and upgrade your garrison
  • level cap raised to 100
  • Upgraded new character models
  • New dungeons, raids, world PVP zone. New items and rewards.
  • Hundreds of new quests
  • Level boost to 90 to get you started: “Boost to 90 and play immediately”. “Come play with your friends right away.” You can boost any one character to level 90 (either a brand new character OR your existing character you haven’t played in a while).
  • No new races or classes announced in the cinematic that we could see. More announcements to come in the next panel.

bconOpening51

Additional updates: Garrosh will escape before he can get punished. He travels back in time to Draenor to try and prevent the horde from drinking the demon blood and becoming corrupted.

How 9 years of World of Warcraft has made my life better

This week, I had a hard time coming up with a blog post. In-game, most things are going well right now. My guild just recently killed Garrosh on Normal and started heroics. There isn’t a lot of WOW news going on while we wait forBlizzcon to roll around. So, as someone who spends most of her time critiquing the game, I have very little to complain about right now – for the first time in quite a long time. Even in my real life, I enjoy working in my research lab, and everything has been going my way. It is hard to find topics to complain about when I’m so darn happy. So, today, in honor of Lisa Poisso’s post on WOW Insider, and the rapidly approaching 9 year anniversary for WOW, I wanted to write a happy post to answer one very important question:

“How has playing WoW made your life better?”

Many of the answers to that question echo Lisa’s post: bringing together family, teaching me skills (both gaming-related and professional), and so on.

  • Azeroth is where my family lives: The World of Warcraft game was one thing I had in common with the man who is now my husband. Early in our relationship, talking about the game – or playing the game – brought us together. In addition, my mom is one of the co-GMs of my guild and raids with me. Since I don’t live in the same state as my mother anymore, the game gives us a reason to talk to each other nearly every day. I’m thankful that the game allows me to spend quality time with my family.
  • Real friendships are born in Azeroth: During my six years of grad school, I didn’t always have time to go outside and socialize (especially when it was snowing outside). WOW gave me a connection to the outside world (beyond just the context of the game) and allowed me to develop friendships with many people along the way. Someone once asked me about whether WOW friendships are “real” or not. I tell them of the story of a 16-year-0ld guild-mate who died in a car accident in one of my earliest guilds. I tell them about the messages we left for his brother (who also played the game) after we heard the news. The fact that WOW players take their friendships beyond the boarders of the game to help each other when we are in need is enough evidence I need to know that WOW-friendships are real friendships. Even if some of the friends I’ve met along the way are people I don’t still talk to regularly, I still care about them as much as I care about the people I met outside the game. In the end, there are real people sitting behind the characters in the game, and I appreciate the friendships with all of the people who I’ve gamed with along the way.
  • Developing better writing skills: In the years of playing the game, I feel as though I have spent more time writing about the game than I have spent playing the game.  Writing blog posts and guides help develop my writing skills in several key ways. First, I have to translate complex concepts into easy to understand language for my readers. Being clear and concise in my writing takes practice, but is a skill that translates to my real-life career. Second, I have to keep up with deadlines (such as patch days), and in learning to write content in a timely manner, these skills have also turned into fast and timely writing for school or work-related assignments. In short, writing about gaming makes me better at writing in general.
  • Making me a better scientist: The analytical skills I use to scrutinize the video game are the same skills I use to scrutinize the experimental design in my real life scientific work. In fact, my current research project, involving development of an educational video game for teenagers with autism comes directly from my WOW gaming knowledge. Without a gaming background, I wouldn’t have the complete set of skills I would need to think about how games can make better intervention packages than the standard model of relatively boring “point systems” tacked onto otherwise boring content.
  • Developing leadership skills: Many years of being an officer in raiding guilds has taught me important leadership skills. This includes conflict resolution, team building, motivating team members, having clear instructions and goals, organizational skills, and more. The same skills that help with leading WOW guilds are also used for leading teams of people in other situations.

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I do want to highlight that most of the ways that WOW has improved my life are social in nature. While many people view games as solitary activities, WOW has been anything BUT solitary for me. The ways that WOW has improved my life is in bringing me closer to other people, and teaching me skills that I can use in my everyday interactions outside the game. So, thank you to all of you who have made my life better over the last 9 years of playing World of Warcraft!

Guild Leadership Corner: Where have all the guild funds gone?

This post was co-written by Lissanna, Ranico, and Mindalen of Undying Resolution (US-Elune), as part of the blog’s guild leadership series.

Our guild has a problem. We’re slowly going broke this tier because Blizzard’s changes in 5.4 have removed our guild’s primary source of guild income.

Our 25-man raiding guild used to be self-sufficient:  We’re currently working on normal-mode Garrosh and working on starting heroics. Our guild offers repairs, flasks, food, gems and other raiding materials as part of the package of benefits we offer to our raiders.  In return for these materials, our guild keeps any greens, blues, or epics that drop in the raid and people don’t need. This includes BOE epics, BOE patterns, or shards/materials from disenchanting BOP epics. The guild also accepts donations from members, and plenty of guild members make their own flasks and such. For all of Cataclysm and the first several tiers of MOP, we were able to do this while still either making money or coming out even in funds every month. The beginning of a raid tier is almost always a profitable time in our guild’s raiding, with the end of tier economy usually slowing our guild’s income.

Something is wrong this tier: With the change to noodle carts reducing our food requirements, our actual guild income should have gone up at the beginning of this tier (especially with our faster than average progression through normal-mode content). Instead, we’ve netted an approximate loss of 250,000 gold in the first few weeks after the start of 5.4 (a really unprecedented early patch loss). Without major reductions in providing materials to our guild members, or increasing guild donations, we will have depleted all of our bank’s reserves by the end of December at the rate of loss from the first few weeks.

Where does all that money go?
Item name – Number of stacks per week = Average amount per stack(average per week)

  • Golden Lotus – 5 stacks of 20/week @ 1300G = (6500G)
  • Raw Croc Belly – 6 stacks/week @ 229G = (1374G)
  • Emperor Salmon – 5 stacks/week @ 125G = (625G)
  • Giant Mantis Shrimp – 3 stacks @ 120G = (360G)
  • Tiger Gourami – 3 stacks @ 225 = (675)
  • Raw Turtle Meat – 4 stacks @ 30 = (120)
  • Pumpkin – 6 stacks @ 290 = (1740)
  • Cabbage – 2 stacks @ 300 = (600)
  • Carrots – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Green Onion – 2 stacks @ 200 = (400)
  • Additional Meats/Fish/Veggies in lesser amounts 6 stacks @ 100 = (600)
  • Gems – 20/week = (approx. 1200)
  • Enchanting mats – Random amounts – Not trackable. Usually donated or obtained by DEing greens.
  • Black Pepper – 3 stacks/week @ 1800 = (5400)
  • Rice Flour – 2 stacks/week @ 1800 = (3600)
  • Leg Enchants – 5 x 3 = 15 @ 400G = (6000)
  • Belt Buckles – 4 @ 400 = (1600G)
  • Shoulder Enchants – 4 x 3 = 12 @ 350 = (4200)
  • Guild Bank Repairs – On average we spent 10K gold per week on guild repairs.

What was our original source of income?
In previous tiers, BOE patterns would drop from raids that could be sold to non-raiders or other guilds that were unlucky with their pattern drops. We sold BOE epics that dropped from raids and didn’t require crafting. These BOE epics were often rare and of equal ilevel to the normal-mode raid gear. These were often bought by people who wanted to get a quick ilevel boost outside of raids at high prices. In addition, for the last several tiers, some epic crafting items required tokens such as haunting spirits. These tokens came from disenchanting gear from raids, and used to be so valuable in previous tiers that we didn’t hand out much off-spec gear since the need for haunting spirit tokens to fund the guild was greater than our guild’s need for off-spec gear. A combination of all three of these would mean that selling BOE epics, patterns, and required crafting spirit tokens were enough to keep our guild either breaking even or making a profit each raid tier. We could also sell the crafted items made from having the rare patterns and valuable required spirits.

In the current raid tier, NONE of these major income sources are available to us:

  • In the current tier, there are no BOE epic drops in the raid instance, so we can’t sell BOE epics.
  • There are no BOE pattern drops, so we can’t sell BOE patterns.
  • The current tokens (spirits of war) aren’t used in the same way as the tokens from previous tiers, and so fewer people are buying the tokens. Thus, these spirits can’t compensate for the loss of BOE drops from the raid instance, due to the spirits not being a required crafting material anymore.

Why are Spirits of War not enough to sustain guilds this tier?
As a tailor, the spirits of war only accelerate the rate of making the daily cloth grind to make Celestial Cloth. It takes 21 celestial cloth to make a single epic item. Making a celestial cloth takes 10 bolts of windwool cloth once per day. If you use the spirit of war, it still costs 10 bolts of windwool cloth to make a celestial cloth. So, all it does is speed up the amount of time. The spirit of war is not a required item to make the epic, and it does not reduce the resource requirements at all. Thus, guilds can’t sustain high levels of guild expenditures with selling these spirits of war on the auction house, since they sell at a slower rate than previous tiers. Guilds also can’t sustain spending with only spirits of war to make BOEs to sell (in the absence of BOE epic drops from the instances). For example, since the 210 bolts of windwool cloth (at 12 gold a piece) means that it costs us the equivalent of 2,520 gold to make a cloth belt.

While these crafted items are selling okay early in the patch (at an average of 15,000 to 20,000), this isn’t likely sustainable due to limitations on the current crafting materials (e.g., who is farming the raw materials to make the items in the first place?). There are only so many trilium bars our guild can farm up outside of raids (and in previous tiers, the BOE items we were selling came as raid drops, and not as spending hours outside of raids farming materials). As the prices of these crafted items (but likely not the raw production materials) will decline over the next 6 to 8 months, if we sold the belt for 5,000 gold several months down the line, we would potentially only profit 2,500 gold based on the cost of the materials to manufacture these items (a far cry from the rate of weekly spending the guild will still incur at a point where our individual guild members may be feeling less generous on their own to keep the guild bank afloat). The rate-limiting factor for making the epic belts and other profession crafted items is not the daily cooldown for guilds with piles of Spirit of War tokens, but instead the rate of farming drops of windwool cloth or other materials required to make the items, especially on lower population servers with hurting economies in the first place. To be profitable, spirits of war and their role in crafting needs to be seriously re-examined.

What could Blizzard do to help guilds recoup lost funds?
To save amazing guild bank systems like Undying Resolution’s, a change to the spirits of war needs to happen soon – before the next expansion.

  • Spirits of war could reduce crafting costs. They need to make spirits of war either seriously reduce or entirely remove the material cost for crafting epics. So, a spirit of war plus a trillium bar could produce two of the balanced trillium bars instead of creating only one; it could reduce the cloth needed to 5 instead of 10 bolts, and reduce the magnificent hide costs to 1 instead of 2.
  • Turn spirits of war into a valued currency. They could also potentially put patterns or items on a vendor where the spirits of war are a currency for buying items directly.
  • Add back raid BOE items. It could be possible to add new BOE items this current tier for normal & heroic-mode raiding, with higher ilevels than normally available (e.g., BOEs at the thunder-forged value level). However, at the very least, for the next expansion, BOE raid epics absolutely need to return.
  • Increase guild raiding challenge rewards. They could also help guilds directly by greatly increasing the rewards from raiding guild challenges. For example, they could increase the number of guild raid boss kills and the gold rewarded per raid boss kill for the guild challenges). If it isn’t possible to make it easier for us to sell things, they could help fund raiding guilds by giving raiding guilds more gold for killing raid bosses (and reduce the need for us to sell items in the first place).
  • Increase guild funds from the Cash Flow Perk. Increase the Cash Flow Perk percentage or make the Cash Flow Perk applicable to more sources of gold income (such as quest rewards or auction house sales). With the declining interest and reduced number of dailies, the Cash Flow generated through this perk continues to diminish and represents but only a small portion of our guilds gross income. This would be better than adding in a taxation system where guilds could “tax” their guild members earnings, since the cash flow perk is a bonus on top of what the guild members earn. However, a “tax” system could also potentially be used to allow guilds to control how much gold their individual members donate to the bank, and could be used for guilds to distinguish differences between themselves, and determine how much money from individual members a guild requires to sustain themselves.
  • Have inexpensive cauldrons (flasks) and feasts (food) available to raiding guilds every tier. While the noodle carts are a nice addition this last patch, this ends up almost being “too little, too late”. As golden lotus for flasks ends up being a major guild expenditure, a 25-man flask cauldron similar to the noodle carts would have gone a long way to making the guild bank issue into a non-issue. The guild funds are really only expensive in the first place because Blizzard took away cauldrons and feasts this expansion (making people reliant on individual food/flasks after a long time of having those provided by their guilds). We could compensate for this by sustaining guild income with sales of BOE epic drops from raids, but removal of the safety net really hurts guilds who created centralized guild banking to provide cauldrons and feasts to their guilds in the first place.

Conclusions:

While some non-raiders may see the removal of these exclusive BOE items as beneficial, they come with a huge negative downside for the raiding guilds who required those items to make large raiding guilds sustainable. At the current rate of gold loss, our once profitable bank strategy has us leaking money faster than our income can keep up.

We are making internal guild changes (such as offering guild members rewards for donations to the bank, posting notices of what items we need donations of each week, reducing the amount of raid repairs we allow per day, and other strategies). In the short-term, we have seen guild member donations increase due to showing the guild our finance problem. However, this is the equivalent of shifting the costs onto our guild members – instead of an individual member crafting a belt and selling it for 25K, they’re spending their time and money outside of the raid crafting a belt and giving that item to the guild to sell. At that point, it’s no longer the guild providing resources from the funds gained from selling items acquired from raids, but members sharing resources they personally acquired outside of raids. Even with serious changes, we may have to seriously consider reducing the quantity and selection of raiding materials we can provide to our guild members 6 or 8 months down the line if donations don’t stay high enough to make up for the loss in sustainability from raid drops (we will eventually exhaust the resources of the minority of raiders who consistently donate to the bank if all raiders don’t donate equally). With the fact that our guild has one of the best maintained guild banks I’ve ever seen, having to change the way we provide materials to our members would break my heart. For guilds less well organized than ours, it is likely that they will stop providing materials much sooner than we would, as they are likely to run out of funds much sooner than we would. If this trend continues into the next expansion and several raid tiers down the line, this loss of sustainable guild funding would also cost us one of our primary recruitment tools after several years, and would hurt the culture of our guild since our members are used to how amazing our guild’s resources have been thus far.

Of course this raises the broader question, why not have raiders pay for their own repairs and provide everything for themselves? Why do we even need a Guild Bank? That question can continue sofar as to: why do we even need guilds? Especially true with both LFR & Flex. The simple answer is we want to be able to create our own communities with our friends, we want to be able to craft our own collective narrative and history within the game, not just as individual players but as a broader guild. Please give us more tools and ways to do this, not less. The answer to a vibrant community is not simply connecting realms or removing barriers to raiding, it also includes making “Guilds” fun and interesting, making them a network of micro communities across realms that forms the backbone of the broader macro community in WoW (as they always have).