warcraft

Disambiguation:

World of Warcraft
Warcraft series, a series of video games that began in 1994

The Daily Grind: What long-term MMO tech issues still annoy you?

The other day in Massively OP office chat, Eliot and I were reminiscing about World of Warcraft's launch period and in particular a bug that would lock your character down into a looting pose for minutes on end, even as you scooted around the world. It was a particularly annoying issue that persisted for a long time before the game engineers finally squashed it.

In LOTRO right now, there is a mind-boggling amount of lag and rubberbanding going on in the high-level areas as a majority of the playerbase crowds into these areas. There have been nights that I logged out due to frustration overwhelming my desire to play, and I sincerely hope it gets sorted out soon.

That's one of the caveats of playing online games, which is that there are always tech issues that need fixing. Some of these prove to be more troublesome to fix or are ignored by the dev team in favor of working on other projects. When they significantly disrupt your play experience, it can sour your time in a game or even push you away for good.

So today's topic is a bit of a gripe session as I invite you to share long-term tech issues in MMORPGs that greatly annoyed you (or continue to annoy).

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Battlenet's slow retirement, Overwatch toxicity, and Blizzard's legal history with 'modding'

Last night's update saw the end of the Battle.net branding on the Blizzard launcher. You probably shed your tears back in September, when the company first announced it was retiring the Battle.net name and replacing it with terms like Blizzard Streaming and Blizzard Voice. Now the platform for World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and the rest just says... Blizzard.

Speaking of Overwatch: Kotaku has a look at the shooter's new system for dealing with toxicity, currently getting a workout on the PTR. The current version has far more specific options for reporting other players, which may or may not lead to better reports and less abuse -- but Blizzard is making an effort.

And finally, Polygon has broken down Blizzard's history with modding and reverse engineering lawsuits, presumably for younger gamers or folks who aren't aware of World of Warcraft's diverse modding offerings. Anyone who's ever wondered why Blizzard cracks down on Bossland, who's wondered why the DMCA is so powerful, or who's curious about the legal precedent of the old-school bnetd case should take a look before armchair lawyering down in the comments.

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WoW Factor: The good and the bad of World of Warcraft's patch 7.2 date

Boy, this is a time I am glad to be wrong. I was outright worried that Blizzard was going to hold patch 7.2 for a much longer span of time, but no, it's hitting World of Warcraft on March 28th. That's good! It's still squarely aimed at trying to kneecap something else going on that same day, arguably, but at least it isn't being held for months. I'm going to count that as a good thing.

In fact, there's something very good baked into the announcement, something that's easy to miss. Of course, there's also something very bad baked in as well, or at least the hint of something bad, a thought I've stated before in passing but I haven't really elaborated on before. So today I want to examine both sides of this. Why this patch date makes me very happy and very worried at the same time. (Mostly the former, if you're wondering, but the latter is relevant.)

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Blizzard is raising prices for World of Warcraft and Hearthstone players in the EU

If you're playing World of Warcraft or Hearthstone overseas, know that a partial fee hike is in your future.

While subs to WoW and the WoW Token will remain as they are, the cost of admittedly already expensive services like faction swaps, name changes, and server transfers will increase in some cases by up to 25%.

A quick look at the math shows that the prices are now more in line with what U.S. players were already paying. Changes take effect on April 5th.

Blizzard told players it was making the "changes based on regional market conditions." PC Gamer calls it "likely a reaction to post-Brexit exchange rates that have gutted the value of the pound" and not helped the low euro. Let's throw in some color too: Reddit is less kind, calling it "profiteering," "absolutely disgusting," and "insanity."

The studio announced EU price increases for Hearthstone packs earlier this month.

Source: Blizzard, PC Gamer, Reddit. Thanks, Cotic!

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World of Warcraft's Patch 7.2 is coming next week

The hour is nearly upon us and we, we are not prepared. But we are pretty eager! This afternoon, World of Warcraft announced that Patch 7.2: The Tomb of Sargeras will be launching next Tuesday, March 28th.

This comes after a flurry of testing and dev diaries covering the patch's big features. Among these features are the new Broken Shore zone, the Cathedral of Eternal Night dungeon, challenge artifact skins, rebalanced legendaries, new traits, more order hall research options, and of course, a way to regain our flight privileges in this expansion cycle.

What isn't coming next week, however, is the titular Tomb of Sargeras raid, which will open at a later (unspecified) date. PvP season two is set to end on the 28th, with season three starting up right after. Check out the patch trailer after the break!

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Perfect Ten: Memories of an Anarchy Online noob

My initial foray into MMORPGs was, to put it nicely, quite ungraceful. I wasn't even aware that they were a thing until about the year 2000, when I started to notice EverQuest and Asheron's Call boxes on the shelves. But stories about addiction from friends and the seeming obtuse nature of these games kept me from trying... until fall 2001, that was.

That's when I saw a sci-fi title lumped together in this unknown category, and I had liked Funcom's The Longest Journey so much that I thought I'd take a chance on this odd online game. My subsequent experiences in Anarchy Online were fragmented, ignominious, and confusing as all get out. It was so weird, in fact, that I needed a "redo" of City of Heroes several years later to properly get onto the MMO bandwagon (and I haven't fallen off since!).

So what was it like being a total Anarchy Online -- and MMO -- noob back in the day, feeling out this game from a position of complete ignorance? Glad you asked, friend, because I'm going to tell you all about it.

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #18-13

Last week we were off to a great start as we listened to the first batch of player-voted favorite MMO themes. As I said then, the results of the voting, in which I asked players to nominate up to 10 of their favorite main themes from online games, were both predictable and surprising. Nostalgia and familiarity obviously play a strong role in many of these votes, but no one was asking for objectivity here!

Today we're going to continue our countdown to the top spot by looking at numbers 18 through 13 of your favorite MMO themes. I think there's a good mix here, perhaps with tunes that I would have placed a little higher, but overall it's gratifying to see each one of these make the list.

Enough jibber-jabber, let's get to it!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 109: We are all Dragonborn

Roll for initiative! Bree and Justin are getting all kinds of nerdy with this week's show, in which they talk about Dragon-people, the return of a long-abandoned sci-fi game, a momentous anniversary, and the viability of sandbox MMOs.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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World of Warcraft is going to make you work hard for your pretty artifact skin

Are you chasing those bright and pretty artifact weapon skins in World of Warcraft? Even if you have assembled the whole set and can lord it over the neighborhood, your collection isn't quite complete.

In Patch 7.2, World of Warcraft is introducing a special "challenge appearance" for artifacts that should prove to be one of the most difficult skins to attain. The requirements are pretty steep, as you have to have maxed out your current artifact, be level 110, complete the Patch 7.2 artifact trait quest, build up the mage's tower at your order base, and then succeed at a solo challenge.

This challenge encounter comes in seven different varieties, based on your class build, and will probably kick your butt if you have anything less than the "best gear" and don't know how to play your class well. To complicate matters, while your first attempt at the challenge is free, subsequent tries will cost a chunk of nethershards. Good luck!

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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The Daily Grind: Will World of Warcraft hold its 7.2 patch until June?

On October 24th, World of Warcraft launched patch 7.1, which contained a lot of not-quite-ready-for-launch Legion features and a bit of content. Since then, the game hasn't really launched any content. Sure, patch 7.1.5 launched in early January, but that just added the Brawler's Guild back to the game for content (which, admittedly, has a lot of new boss fights). We're looking at a content gap that's starting to spread out a fair bit already, and patch 7.2 is coming out... well, eventually?

Of course, MOP's Bree and I are in pretty close agreement about when it's coming out: June. Because that's when a new Final Fantasy XIV expansion and The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind both launch, so they're going to want to try to kneecap both of those launches.

At least from this side of the fence, that's a pretty dumb plan. It's the same plan that was in place for patch 6.2 of Warlords of Draenor, which wound up with lots of complaints about the delays, and it doesn't seem to have really crippled the launch it wanted to "intercept" there, either. Still, it's the sort of plan that Blizzard has used in the patch, and with two big competing releases in the same month it seems almost absurd to think it wouldn't be tried. So what do you think, dear readers? What do you think the odds are of WoW holding its next patch until June? And how much grousing do you expect if people are waiting that long for more content?

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World of Warcraft plans to add unobtainable transmog appearances in the future

Items are a big part of playing World of Warcraft. Sure, dropping ancient elves and demons and dragons to 0 health is its own reward, but half of the time they just teleport away anyhow to provide a future antagonist. It's the stuff you loot from the experience that really matters. The latest of the game's live Q&A sessions covered itemization, and you can either watch the whole video now or catch up with a summary. Keep in mind that the Q&A also specifically mentions not knowing when patch 7.2 is coming, so if you're looking for that, you're going to be disappointed.

If there are appearances in the game that you know are still unobtainable by players, rest assured that the developers are aware of it; finishing up the set transmog UI has made it clear what elements still can't be grabbed by players and need to be added. Legendary effects that feel substantial enough for a given spec are also in place specifically so that they can serve as a "test" for adding the effect as a baseline for the spec in the future. For the time being, the developers want to keep the 6-item sets that allow for three different tier set bonuses at once, but that may be changed with time. It's an interesting look at the game's current item design philosophy, although we make no promises that you'll be happy with the results.

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The Daily Grind: Should MMOs ever retire classes?

Last week, I asked the Massively OP readers whether World of Warcraft needed another class (I want the Bard, obviously). But one Facebook fan proposed something different entirely: Why not "retire a few classes" to "keep it fresh?"

I suspect that nearly everyone reading is recoiling in horror at the thought of deleting classes from MMOs, which is exactly why I wanted to stare the concept full in the face to sort out why. MMO developers seem to have few qualms about retooling classes -- your characters -- to be almost unrecognizable from their original versions, applying band-aid after band-aid to make them functional and keep them around. Would it really be so bad to nuke them entirely and start from scratch with something built from the ground up?

Yes, say thousands of Star Wars Galaxies Bio-Engineers and Creature Handlers. I hear you. But what if they'd done it more gracefully and replaced them more immediately with something, as the commenter put it, "fresh," as opposed to nuking them overnight and replacing them with nothing?

Should MMOs ever retire classes? Can you think of acceptable circumstances for such a thing?

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