Hallow's End ends soon with a disappointing end

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, October 30, 2010

The whole Halloween event has been crippled so badly for the past couple weeks, Blizzard should seriously consider extending the event for their faithful customers.

The Hallow's End event takes place between Oct 18 and Oct 31.

However, between Oct 18th and Oct 26th there was a nasty bug taking place. Players on all realms would freeze, disconnect, and crash when trying to summon the Headless Horseman. The same issue impacted battlegrounds and other "dreaded cogwheel" items that could normally be interacted with.

On Oct 26th, a new fix was implemented to correct the issues. However, it did even more harm. Immediately after the fix, BG/dungeon/event queues crashed and the HH event couldn't even be accessed anymore. Also, the Shade could not be summoned by the Matron in most locations for the "Putting Out the Fires" daily quests.

I don't even think the Halloween event was truly fixed until around Thursday the 28th. That really only leaved 3 actual days for the players to participate in the Hallow's End event. There have been no extension announcements so far and no free game time for the millions of players that were impacted or unable to participate in the event over the past couple weeks.

I'm not sure why it took so long to "fix" the issue, but I suspect it's because everyone at Blizzard was so busy with Blizzcon and their support staff were directed by Sr. Management to prioritize Blizzcon gaming events over everything else.

So, here were the big highlights of past Blizzcons.

I'm including the Worldwide Invitational as well, since it was the EU version of Blizzcon. (Note: There was no Blizzcon 2006, and WWI was cancelled in 2009 in favor of Blizzcon moving forwards.)

* Oct 2005 Blizzcon - World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade Announced

* May 2007 Worldwide Inv - Starcraft 2 Announced

* Aug 2007 Blizzcon - World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Announced

* Jun 2008 Worldwide Inv - Diablo 3 Announced

* Oct 2008 Blizzcon - Starcraft 2 Trilogy Announced

* Aug 2009 Blizzcon - World of Warcraft: Catacylsm Announced

* Oct 2010 Blizzcon - Some guy in a red shirt asks a question

I hope this isn't going to be a trend.

Activision News Incoming, More Take-Two Problems

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, October 28, 2010

Activision-Blizzard's Third Quarter Investor conference call will be taking place next week (Nov 4.) I'm excited.

Sure, it sounds boring to you - but these are the calls where they review the company's current situation (I look forwards to the raw data to get a better insight into the company) and discuss future strategic plans or growth for the following quarter that will generate even more profit for their investors. Sometimes the results of these calls won't be made public for a few weeks following, but some information will typically leak out.

BlizzCon is reserved for all of the big Blizzard announcements, but this upcoming investor meeting might describe a plan for some future Activision/Blizzard interaction. There's a strong possibility, for example, that Activision may announce full integration of their own software line (complete with digital downloads, social interaction, match-making, etc.) on Blizzard's Battle.net service.

Activision will give the typical speech to bolster customer and investor confidence (ie, Blizzcon was a big success, WOTLK launch in China was a big success, upcoming Cataclysm release will be a big success, blah blah blah) especially since they performed so poorly last quarter.

But I'm hoping that there will be a hint at more "console development", but not actually point their finger's in Blizzard's direction. Or maybe they will. =]

Back in August, I made a post about how Diablo 3 looked like it was designed (with purpose) for console platforms. It had the perfect GUI, interface, and gameplay. WOW & SC2 are no where near close, but D3 is ready for the transition. It would be fitting for Diablo to be back on consoles too.. third time's a charm, right?

The reason I'm mentioning this now, is because just recently Blizzard has been hinting at D3 development for consoles and the information is being picked up by various gaming news sites.

In other news, I was anticipating a Red Dead Redemption PC port announcement this November as their quarterly announcements were supposed to happen next month. There aren't any gaming conventions occurring during the next quarter, so most of their big announcements would have been taking place next month. I'm was really hoping for a RDR PC announcement too, but it will probably be about GTA 5 (a new GTA release wouldn't be the only reason for moving their Fiscal Year by the way - that would just be silly).

HOWEVER, they just MOVED their Fiscal Quarter! (Yes, this is legal with special approval.)

That's actually big news in itself. =]

There are only a few reasons why a company would be moving it's Fiscal Year-End. Sometimes it's done by companies who want to match their own Fiscal Year with that of their parent company, sometimes it's for minimizing taxes (meaning that they're hurting financially), sometimes it's due to the termination of a partnership (hmmm...), sometimes they do it because there are indications of (seasonally) low revenue, or sometimes it's if they will be giving up control of their corporation (EA has been interested in Take-Two for a while now).

Most likely though is that they have some MAJOR re-structuring planned for the next few months and their revenue isn't as high as they were expecting. There are two things that can happen: they need to reduce costs or they need to increase profits by pumping out more releases and at a faster pace. =]

On a related note (ie, "re-structuring" in the future), Rockstar Toronto has been hiring a lot more people recently. Game Programmers, Designers, and Support Staff.. and they all seem to be replacements due to attrition. Maybe the Rockstar remote sites know something we don't?

With this recent announcement though, it's safe to say that there's something big coming down the pipe. I'm predicting lay-offs, as it's always the easier way out and the path taken by most companies these days (ie, when they need to cut expenses to increase profit, rather than using money to make more money.)

Update (10/29/10):

Take-Two just made a new announcement, so yeah - there's definitely some major re-organization taking place. Their CEO is stepping down. =]

This is a good indication that they might be giving up control of the corporation (ie, being acquired by Electronic Arts), hence one of the reasons for moving their Fiscal Year. There are some other companies that were interested as well (including Activision), but EA is the front runner.

I still think there's more lay-offs on the way. Many people will say that Take-Two has been doing really well. Sure, they have been doing well but not "well enough" and investors want them to do better. Besides this upcoming reorganization, it will also give Take-Two more time to develop their various (ongoing) technologies and work on their big name games. Should be interesting.. I'm looking forwards to their next game announcements. It'll most likely be sequels though, and no new IPs. =[

Another Update:

Apparently this post caught the attention of many employees from Take Two and Rockstar. =]

The visitor log has been showing a lot of visits from the internal offices of Take Two. Apparently, they must not have a very strict policy for internet usage. =] There are multiple hits from a few external facing IP addresses: Take-Two Interactive Software (, Rockstar Games (, Rockstar Toronto (, Rockstargames Ltd (, etc.

(On a related note, I still get visited by Blizzard employees a lot too. They haven't been posting any new comments though since that last guy.)

So anyways, it appears that because of Take-Two's latest announcement there's a stock trader "feeding frenzy" going on and they're looking for as much information as possible. It's pretty funny watching all of the guess work going on.

Unfortunately, all of their visits were very specific as many were only looking at the one page and ignoring previous posts from months ago when I was mentioning Rockstar Toronto activities. I followed Rockstar Toronto specifically since I was primarily interested in the Red Dead Redemption PC port and they're the team most likely to produce it. Guess we'll find out soon enough.

Update (01/27/11):

I was right. =]

Now, management at Rockstar London and Lincoln have also been given their pink slips. These are just the big names though that were made public, but there have been many other exits as well within Take Two over the past few months.

There are also rumors of more impending layoffs at the Rockstar London facility.

It seems like just yesterday when Take Two was denying studio layoffs, and claimed that there were no impending layoffs, or an intention to lay off 20% of it's workforce in an attempt to "restructure and improve it's financial standing." Some of the rumors confirmed apparently.

Paul Sams: Trolling Asshole

Posted by Daeity On Saturday, October 23, 2010

What a jerk.

"I have a big announcement for everyone!"


"Now, you've all heard about our new Next-Gen MMO that we've been working on?"

*crazy cheers and tears of happiness*

"Well I have a little sneak preview for all of you!"

*insane cheers*

"I give to you: World of Jerseycraft Shore!"


"No, just kidding.. here's the real MMO exclusive preview!"

*more insane cheers*

"I'm pleased to announce.. Gleeablo!"


"No no.. seriously. Here's the real announcement. Are you prepared!?"

*slow clap*

"Booty Bay Watch!"


At this point you could distinctly hear some F-U's from the crowd. So yeah.. a lot of excitement built up only to break everyone down brutally.. way to go there Paul.

I guess he thought that he could recover that massive failure (of his terrible jokes too) by announcing "free" Diablo 3 beta keys for 1,000 lucky attendees (out of over 27,000 total mind you.) It didn't work and just further pissed most people off. In the end, the Blizzcon 2010 closing ceremony was definitely not cool.

Perhaps it was because all hope and expectations were shattered, or maybe because I set the bar so low.. but the second day was less disappointing.

Here's a summary of events and notes:

- The developers/designers at the World of Warcraft Q & A panel were visibly irritated with a lot of the questions, and most of their time was spent ridiculing their customers. It wasn't a pretty sight, and they didn't look like they wanted to be there.
- There were no intentions of actually implementing any of the suggestions. It would have been nice to give the "appearance" of listening to their customers by writing something down.. but you could tell that many of the question-givers were unhappy with their responses and the attitude of the panel.
- The Diablo 3 Q & A was actually a lot more professional, sincere, and they weren't making cheap shot comments like the WoW team.

In regards to WoW,

- Hints that the next WoW Expansion Packs would involve the Emerald Dream, and the return of old (undead) enemies. =]
- Blizzard will not be increasing character slots for World of Warcraft (will be stuck at 10).
- I liked this comment: "We have a process and we adhere to that process." It was in regards to opening up voice talents to other people rather than the same guy doing 20 voices. It was pretty much a "screw you", and confirmed what I've been writing about Blizzard's many internal processes.
- They'll be auctioning off the old Classic WoW server blades, not sure how many they're giving away yet.
- They will be modifying the racial traits and appearance of the old races (since the Worgen/Goblin aesthetics and abilities were so cool.) Other races will be getting better abilities and looks, and will probably happen ~4 months after Cataclysm release. Just like WOTLK (DK nerf after Christmas), they want as many people to buy the expansion pack as possible and then they'll do nerfs/buffs afterwards to stabilize everything.

In regards to Diablo 3,

- I liked that they admitted that they weren't sure where the game was headed yet, and that it's still being worked on. Most of the work done so far was graphics content, artwork, music, and prototype gameplay.
- They're not sure about end game content yet.
- There will be no PVP variation (like Capture the Flag, Defend/Siege, Escort, etc) - it's all just Arena/World PVP for now. No plans to make any changes to that.
- No guilds, everything will be done through Battle.net (ie, Friend lists)
- No PVP specific gear, all gear is PVE & PVP - it's the skills you select that most affect PVP.
- They're using a lot of ideas from Torchlight. There will be a "stash" that shares loot amongst all your characters.
- There will be no Arcane Sanctuary level, or any cool architectural zones that are similar.
- Diablo 3 will not support mods.

And finally, who's that "Kat Hunter" person anyways? She says she plays Alliance, but I don't think she's ever leveled past 20. She seems more suited for "The Sims" or "Dress My Boyfriend" type games.. I think she just plays WoW to dress up her characters actually.

"I don't know if I'm allowed to release this information or not, but I think there's like a quest where you can, like, punch Deathwing in the face or something."

She was referring to [The Day Deathwing Came] quest. Hardly a Blizzcon exclusive. She was just terrible the entire time, and I hope she's not back for next year.

Oh yeah, this one too: "I'm a hardcore Warcraft girl."


Blizzcon 2010 Day One Sucked

Posted by Daeity On

The consensus seems to be that Blizzcon 2010 was the most horrible one yet and many have been voicing their extreme disappointment.

I think the highlight of the evening at Blizzcon was when a flock of seagulls flew over head.

Here's a summary of everything else that happened so far:

- Very long line-ups for panels.
- Very long line-ups for food and crappy merchandise.
- Very long line-ups to goto the washroom.
- Very long line-ups to get into other long line-ups full of sweaty nerds with poor hygiene and a strong sense of self-entitlement.
- The final Diablo 3 class was revealed, even though Blizzard promised that they had BIG news to reveal.
- Diablo 3 will have PVP (this is NEW information because apparently Diablo 2 didn't have PVP.)
- Diablo 3 will finally get a dye system, like so many other MMORPGs.
- Paid (Blizzard RayV) HD Live Streaming feed failed horribly (choppy video/sound).
- Server crashes during the SC2 Main Event (PVP Tournament between Fruitdealer and SlayersBoxer)
- Goodie bags were a big disappointment for those who didn't read the leaked internet posts revealing it's contents.
- Graphics team demonstrated art work showing that almost all new mobs were just palette-swapped older models.
- Some guy broke his leg in the dance contest while doing the Undead Male hop.
- Opening Ceremony speeches were ill prepared. Mike Morhaime (Blizzard President) and Chris Metzen (Sr. VP) demonstrated just how much they've lost touch with their players. Most of the opening speeches were just re-caps of the previous Blizzcon (trying to build up hype in the crowd) and the GEEK speech. I got the hint that the speeches were just filler because of the complete absence of new announcements this year. The crowd looked bored, they found the jokes unfunny, and the filler speeches just made the opening ceremony seem longer.

So the first day was very disappointing, nothing unexpected, and it's all old information. I'll keep my fingers crossed for Day Two (going on right now) - I'm hoping that they're just playing with us and actually have a big announcement planned for their closing ceremonies. They definitely need it at this point. It's bad.. really bad.

If you're a long term gold strategist such as myself, you'll start stocking up on "Hallowed Wands" now for next years Hallow's End event.

On the opening day, transformations sell for over 25G a piece so you can quickly make a lot of gold on the first day before anyone else collects Wands from the Innkeeper Trick-or-Treat bags.

The next day, prices will drop to 15G, then 10G, then 5G, etc. So you'll want to advertise Achievement transformations as much as possible on the first day of Hallow's End next year.

The cooldown on "Trick-or-Treat" is 1 hour whether you're logged in or not - so just rotate through all of your realm characters and try to collect as many Treat Bags/Wands as possible and just store them in your bank. All of the other Hallow's End items pretty much expire and disappear.

With Christmas coming up, you'll also want to fill up a couple (personal) Guild Bank Tabs with the Gingerbread Cookie and Egg Nog recipes. Wait a few months after Christmas, and you can re-sell those recipes for 25G a piece or more (and there's almost no competition in Jun/Jul/Aug).

Next-Gen MMO Update at Blizzcon + More Pets

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 22, 2010

During the Blizzcon 2010, Rob Pardo finally confirmed what I had already revealed 3 months ago. =]

They have a small team working on the project (up to a total of 50 people now - most of which is artwork related), and they're not likely to even announce the game details until 2012 at the EARLIEST. He also mentioned that the team has been pretty much working on prototypes. It's funny because most websites and "professional" analysts had predicted that their Next-Gen MMO would be released in 2012 or 2013 at the latest, but I figured a 2014-2015 release date was more likely due to the little progress actually made and what my internal sources were telling me.

Also, Blizzard is doing some more charity work like what I've been eagerly anticipating in past posts. Blizzard announced during the Opening Ceremonies that a new [Moonkin Hatchling] would be added to the Pet Store in the near future, and whose sales would be donated to charity. They also plan on auctioning off used server equipment and donating those proceeds to charity as well. Past trends have shown that these types of activities occur when sales are low or they need to substantially increase revenues to impress their investors - so this initiative will probably happen during the Cata release quarter (if they're worried about sales) or during a slow month.

.. utterly predictable and very disappointing.

It's the announcement of (only) one new Diablo 3 class. That's it.

So yeah, the new class is called a Demon Hunter yay. This class doesn't dual-wield swords, they dual-wield long range weapons!! OMG! That's totally new, innovative, and interesting.

On a side note: don't get this class confused with World of Warcraft's Demon Hunter class. Apparently, it's not going to be a Hero Class any more like what Blizzard was originally planning years ago but I guess they found a new use for the name.

Even the video was very disappointing.. what happened to their graphics quality and polish?

Game Director Jay Wilson promised that the Diablo 3 announcement would be the biggest one they've ever had. Jay WTF??

No real surprises here though. Back in August though, I was fully prepared for this sort of announcement and the resulting disappointment: "I really hope it's not just the introduction of 1 new class.. but it probably will be." I was hoping there would be at least 2 new classes "revealed" based on Jay Wilson's hype.

So ummm... yeah.

This new development also answers the question as to why Blizzard changed the Sylvanas Windrunner model. They needed her for Diablo 3.

Headless Horseman Bug / WoW Crashes / Freezing

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So another Tuesday (extended) maintenace has taken place, and they still haven't fixed some of the major bugs and exploits affecting WoW.

- The unlimited Justice Points bug can still be exploited on certain bags.
- Gold making exploits are still working.
- The missing Glyphs are still missing.

But the biggest issue of all (atleast to me anyways) is the random disconnection during WSG (while trying to pick up the flag) or during the Hallows Eve (Headless Horseman) event.

If you mouse-over on the pumpkin (or the WSG flag, or many other items involving the cogwheel), there's a major bug in it's tool tip information causing your WoW client to lockup. You pretty much have to use Task Manager to kill the wow.exe client and re-launch it.

Here's the workaround however, until Blizzard fixes it permanently.

Create two macros:

1. Turn OFF Tooltips (click this before highlighting the pumpkin or flag)

/script GameTooltip.Temphide = function() GameTooltip:Hide() end; GameTooltip:SetScript("OnShow", GameTooltip.Temphide);

2. Turn ON Tooltips (click this if you want your tooltips turned back on)

/script GameTooltip:SetScript("OnShow", GameTooltip.Show);

It's worked so far on all of my accounts and my friends accounts, so it should be fine.

Good luck!

Just wanted to make this quick post because I noticed a lot of readers were interested in how to sell Glyphs. You don't even need Auctioneer to do this either, although it does help in tracking quantities and it's Quick Buyout feature.

It's definitely the most lucrative gold making method right now (selling Glyphs) and will pick up again when Cataclysm is released. Although Glyphs are now permanently learned, there will ALWAYS be a need for them and will always sell well.

Based on statistics I gathered from over two most recent (pre-4.0.1) months of selling Glyphs (50,000+ transactions), all Glyph sales were based on UNIQUE users. Meaning that Glyphs were purchased for permanent reasons, and there were a negligible quantity of players that actually bought REPLACEMENT glyphs. And this was YEARS after Glyphs were first introduced. Bottom line: they will always sell, and this new change to Glyphs won't effect sales that much.

Here are the basic tools you need:

Auction Profit Master - Used to be called Quick Auctions 3, this is your bread and butter.
Postal - for quickly collecting Mail Items.

Additional Tools (optional):

Auctioneer - From just a Glyph selling perspective, this is extremely useful for it's EasyBuyout feature (it's DISABLED by default FYI!) Make sure you download the latest Beta btw to ensure it's always up-to-date.
Altoholic - for tracking mats and item quantities that you have on all of your characters.
Panda - For Mass Milling of your herbs.

Note: As of 4.0.1 automatic posting and cancelling does not work anymore, so you have to click on a button for each transaction. It's just a minor annoyance, and probably upset most of the Glyph sellers that were AFK posting/selling. Didn't bother me at all though, and I was hoping that Blizzard would actually do something more significant.

Getting Started

First thing you need to do is learn how to use Auction Profit Master. Here's an old video on YouTube for using Quick Auctions 3 and it best explains. There are very little changes between QA3 and the new APM version.

(FYI: Quick Auctions 3 was abandoned by the developer, and he gave the source code to a new developer to continue the work on, hence the tool was renamed to "Auction Profit Master".)

All of the other tools are just automated and require no setup (except for Auctioneer - TURN ON EASY BUYOUT and set limits!). Other than that, APM is the only tool that requires configuration to start selling Glyphs.

Follow the instructions in the video to get started. Type "/apm config" instead of "/qa config" to configure the Addon.

After watching that video at least 3 times, here are some key items (and strategies) you should be aware of:

1. Item Group -> Add Items. Remember, you can only Add Items if they are currently in your inventory. So make sure you find out which Glyphs are selling the best, craft them, and THEN add them to your Glyphs Item Group. (Keep reading to find out which Glyphs sell the highest.)

2. Override Undercut: This is how much you undercut other sellers by. You can make this 1 copper to really piss them off, but I usually undercut by 50 silver or 1-2G. If there are very few sellers and little competition, undercut them by 1s.

However if you have a lot of time and gold on your hands and there is a lot of competition, drive down the prices significantly (10G each undercut for example). It will hurt both of you (you'll be selling Glyphs to break even), but will come out on top if you have a steady supply of mats and inks. Basically, you want to drain them of all of their resources so that they can't create any new glyphs.

3. Override Threshold: This is the MINIMUM amount you want to sell Glyphs for. This should be _slightly_ above the cost of crafting the Glyph. This amount is HEAVILY influenced by herb prices too so pay attention.

- Milling stacks of Adder's Tongue, Icethorn, Lichbloom gives 6 total [Ink of the Sea].

- Milling stacks of Deadnettle, Tiger Lily, Goldclover, Talandra's Rose, Fire Leaf, Fire Seed gives 4 total [Ink of the Sea]. (It's actually closer to 5 on average, but I'm using 4 for safety).

Glyphs require 3 of each Ink + Resilient Parchment (40s if Exalted).

If the average price of a stack of Adder's Tongue sells for 40G for example, you MUST sell your Glyphs at a minimum cost of 21G or higher.

If the average price of a stack of Adder's Tongue is 30G however, you can sell your Glyphs for 15.5G (to break even) or higher.

Use a calculator when deciding minimum thresholds for your Glyphs. APM won't post Glyphs if their too cheap, it will only post the ones that make profit for you.

You'll want to sell all of your Glyphs for 30G or higher, and keep buying out all herbs/mats off the AH using EasyBuyout. If you have any competition that falls below the crafting price, BUY THEM and put them back up for auction (classic Buy Low/Sell High strategy.)

4. Fallbacks -> Override fallback: This is the price you want to sell Glyphs for if there are none on the AH or the only competition is very expensive. I usually put in 120G or 150G per Glyph. This is all server dependent though, but don't get too greedy or they won't sell.

5. New Auction Tab Features

If you open up the AH, and click on the "Auctions" tab you'll see a bunch of new entries at the top. Familiarize yourself with these.

Status: It will let you know if anyone is undercutting you, but Cancel already does it anyways so this is pretty useless.

Cancel: Will scan all of your posted Glyphs and cancel the ones that were undercut so that you can repost them.

Post: Posts all of your Glyphs and will automatically undercut each of your competitors.

Summary: Very important. This will show you the prices for all Glyphs, and is very useful when first setting up APM. Click Glyphs, then Get Data. You can click on each of the Glyphs to Queue them for crafting later. Left-click to increase the quantity, right-click to reduce.

Log: This LOG button can be toggled on-and-off while scanning is taking place. It's a history log of all transactions.

6. Your New Inscription Menu

Finally, if you open up your Inscription crafting menu you'll see a new button in the top-right corner called APM. Click on the button and it will open up the Crafting Queue mentioned above.

Here you'll see all of the Glyphs that you queued for crafting and each quantity selected. Scroll down below and you'll see all of the materials required to craft the glyphs. Collect the mats, and start clicking on each entry and they will be automatically crafted for you.

Once all of your Glyphs are ready, and they have all been added to your Item Group, just click POST and all Glyphs will be automatically posted and undercut for you. The only new feature is that you need to confirm each post, so get ready for a lot of clicking. =]

One you're all good and setup, it's just a matter of constantly clicking CANCEL, retrieve your mail items, and POST again. Once every hour, every 30 minutes or every 10 minutes depending on competition.

Glyph selling is a VERY time consuming process and you'll have little time for anything else. You'll always be watching to see if players are undercutting you for example. However, it has a high rate of return.

Undocumented 4.0.1 Patch Changes

Posted by Daeity On

Here's a summary of some of the more interesting 4.0.1 patch changes.

I'll keep updating the list as I learn more.

- All characters can toggle on & off all Minimap options. For example, you can see Mining, Fish, and Herb nodes all at once now. (Just turn each option on.)
- Hunters can also now track Beasts, Humanoids, Hidden, Elementals, Demons, etc all at once. It's pretty awesome.
- Characters can now collect XP from mining Herbs and Ores. It's a great way to level new characters especially now that you can see both node types.
- Discarded PVP gear can be sold or disenchanted.
- Several other items that previously couldn't be disenchanted can now be.
- Tailoring Specializations have been removed permanently.
- Leatherworking Specializations have been removed, however it's currently bugged and you can re-learn the specializations from the quest givers.
- Transmutation cooldowns reduced (significantly) to 4 hours.
- You can pickup Master Riding (310% mount speed) for 5000G. Don't bother trying to fly in Old World yet, that will only happen after Cataclysm.
- New scaling spells & skills have made leveling much faster and most low lever characters quite overpowered. Health and mana regeneration is significantly increased as well.
- Older (Level 70) Heroic dungeons have been tweaked, making mobs hitting a lot harder. I used to solo Kara quite easily, but it's become a lot more difficult now.
- NPC that have quests available (or are part of active quest chains) now show text above their heads identifying them. It makes it much easier to find "points of interest". This was actually a very subtle, but extremely useful update and I liked it a lot.
- I like the new Thorns spell. Instead of a buff, it's an instant cast defense spell that tears apart melee characters. Works great on Rogues. =]
- Lockpicking now scales with your level. All 80 Rogues automatically have 400 LP skill. Since all skills have been removed, weapon training is no longer required and everyone always has full weapon training. Goodbye "Knuckle Sandwich" Achievement.
- Many Hunter Pets now have unique abilities that can benefit the entire raid. Right now, you can swap in-and-out 4 different pets depending on your needs. The 5th pet will be available when Cataclysm is released. Low level pets also now auto-level to 3 levels below you instead of 5.
- Level 20's can now move at 100% mount speed. All mounts now scale with their riding skill.
- Most PVP Daily Quests now no longer provide Honor Points but rather gold. I think only the Venture Coin quests down by the shoreline provide Honor Points now - but it's very little and not worth the trouble.
- No more vellums, it's all just one new all-purpose Enchanting Vellum for armor/weapons at all levels. Makes things much easier.
- Power PC, Windows 98, and Windows 2000 users will no longer be able to play WoW.
- Flight paths are shortened, and don't make as many stops any more.
- There are a couple minor pre-Cataclyms events going on (other than the earthquakes). There are new conversations taking place in Thrall's chambers for example, and Emissaries should be arriving in cities soon for the new elemental invasion quests.
- Honor Points and Justice Points can be converted into each other, however it hasn't been implemented yet. I think it's pretty cool that you can PVP for points, and then exchange them for Raid PVE gear. Here's the original post from back in April.

We do plan to have a way to convert Honor points (PvP) into Justice points (PvE), and vice versa, at a loss. The conversions will be possible, but it won't be a 1:1 rate, and you'll have fewer points after the conversion process. We won't allow the higher tiers to be exchanged for each other, however.
- Auction Posts and Cancelling now have a secondary confirmation request. It's a big annoyance, and there were plenty of other options available if their reason was to prevent automated auction posting. The thing is - it's automated.. they just need to add an extra step to their automation. So, all this does is hurt legitimate users (who now need to spend a lot more time in the AH) and I'm pretty sure they weren't complaining about accidental auction posts being such a huge problem or that they requested these new features. "Hey Blizzard! Can you make it first ask 'Are you really sure?' than ask again 'Are you really really sure?'. That sounds like a great feature that everyone will love!"
- There are also rumors of Shaman Tanking being possible in the future (Plate armor upgrades too.) I think it would be pretty cool for a new tanking class. All of the tanking classes are MELEE, but what about a SPELL CASTING TANK? That would just be cool.

4.0.1 Gold Making Exploits

Posted by Daeity On

In an earlier post, I had mentioned "crazy Gold Making exploits" were also being heavily utilized (other than Remote AH bots) since the 4.0.1 patch but didn't provide any examples.

Well, here they are. These exploits have been working since the 4.0.1 initial patch, but they probably won't be working after today (there will be a lot of hot fixes I'm assuming).

#1 Argent Tournament Pets & Infinite Champion Seals

The Champion's Purse from the Argent Tournament can also be looted for infinite Champion Seals in the same manner as the Unlimited Justice Points exploit. It is currently being exploited heavily to purchase and sell Argent Pets for 700-2000G a piece (post cross-faction to make more gold). You just open the bag, grab the Seals only, leave the gold alone, reset the bag contents (several methods as mentioned previously), and loot the Champion Seals again.

#2 Karazhan Exalted Rings & Infinite Void Crystals

Those special Quest rings you can get outside of the Kara instance can now be disenchanted into Void Crystals. Just D/E the ring, talk to her again and tell her you "lost your ring" and she'll give you a new one. You can also create a macro to talk to the NPC, D/E the ring, talk to her again.

Previously those special Kara rings could not be disenchanted or sold. But, I think it was a mistake since Blizzard made a change so that PVP gear could be sold or disenchanted now (I'm assuming it's an intended change.) I'm not sure if the earlier rings (ie, Friendly, Honored, etc) can be disenchanted as well however.

#3 PvP Gear - New Intended Changes?

It appears that all unused PVP gear can now (finally) be disenchanted or sold. So if you just want to make gold, or you're discarding older PVP gear, you no longer have to destroy the items and can now make some profit from them. From what I can tell by disenchanting results, you'll be making roughly 1G for every 1 Honor Point you spend. But, it's all server dependent (ie, D/E mat prices).

* Moved from my previous post "A whole lot of cheating going on.."

Blizzard's gaze is currently upon those Battle.net (SC2) hack developers, but much like Sauron's gaze - it shifts frequently. I'm expecting the same swift and decisive actions on these recent WoW cheaters in the same manner. These exploits and cheats completely DESTROY the gold markets, fairness, and ruin the enjoyment and participation of a competitive online experience (just like what Blizzard claimed in their lawsuit.)

"When users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer's RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the EULA and ToU, and create derivative works of StarCraft II."

"The harm to Blizzard from Defendants' conduct is immediate, massive and irreparable."

"By distributing the Hacks to the public, Defendants cause serious harm to the value of StarCraft II. Among other things, Defendants irreparably harm the ability of Blizzard's legitimate customers (i.e. those who purchase and use unmodified games) to enjoy and participate in the competitive online experience. That, in turn, causes users to grow dissatisfied with the game, lose interest in the game, and communicate that dissatisfaction, thereby resulting in lost sales of the game or 'add-on' packs and expansions thereto."
So if Blizzard actually believes this statement to be true, they'll definitely action this exploitive behavior within a week minimum. If they don't stand by their beliefs, however, they'll probably just hotfix the issue, leave the players alone, and then ban them much later when it suits their purpose.

After all, these exploits are truly game breaking and completely destroying the economy (while also ruining a legitimate player's experience.) So, I'm really interested to see how quickly they'll action this, especially after preaching about SC2 cheaters and the serious harm they have caused to the value of their games and their legitimate customers.

How long will it take to action? SC2 cheaters were banned on Oct 1 and then Blizzard launched their lawsuit by Oct 16. Will Blizzard fix this customer-impacting issue and practice what they preach, or will they instead use this as a strategy to improve revenue? It will be a good example of whether they stand by their "stated beliefs" or not.

The Global Cooldown (GDC) Hack also comes to mind. This has been exploited for not just days, weeks, or months but rather YEARS. Even in the most recent Ladder Arena Tournaments it has been estimated that almost 3/4 of all players have cheated using the GCD hack and obtained their Gladiator titles unfairly. Blizzard banned very few people and there are probably tens-of-thousands (if not hundreds-of-thousands) of players who have used the GDC hack without any fear or action by Blizzard.

It's scary to think of all of the cheaters out there. From all of the various official announcements, Blizzard has banned millions of players for online cheating. MILLIONS! I wouldn't be surprised if 50% of all online players have knowingly cheated or have exploited bugs.

On a side note,

Their new lawsuit actually worries me a bit. I don't care that Blizzard is going after cheaters and the developers of these applications (like BnetD), but I am concerned about the repercussions. If successful, it will set a legal precedent that single-player or multi-player cheats or addons/mods (even when acceptable) would be completely illegal. Virus scanners, operating systems, performance apps, tools for impaired users, etc all fit within Blizzard's classification, and it would make it very easy for them to be able to sue any software developer or users of these tools (harsh charges, prison time, etc). Blizzard probably wouldn't do that of course (bad for PR), but the case would be available for other (less savory lawyers) to reference and many people could suffer badly as a result.

The thing is, Blizzard claims that these hacks cause irreparable harm. But that's not actually true: the harm CAN be repaired by hotfixes, patches, player bans, and resetting Ladders & Seasons - all of which they already do quite frequently. All of the players cheating to get Honor Gear for example will lose it all next season.

Blizzard also knew about the map hack tool the minute it was released (they even stated that they were following it's initial development), and there have always been tons of Starcraft 1 maphacks available. Warden uses hash values to determine whether a user is running a Maphack or not, so SC2 could have easily prevented users from even launching SC2 if a hack was running. It was easily detected by Warden, and they could have done something about it right away - but instead they waited months to ban the users, allowed them to cheat, and it seemed like they wanted "damage" to occur so that they could sue the developers on purpose. They've done insta-bans before, why did they wait so long for "damages" to occur? Was it on purpose for a planned lawsuit?

Blizzard was already going to sue SC2 hackers, but then they suddenly decided to drop the charges. If I, for example, was interested only in profits from court settlements, I would wait until significant damages were incurred so that I could sue for a larger amount of money. That's what the patent trolls do too.. they wait until businesses become successful before they sue. Patent Trolls are not interested in protecting their Intellectual Property, but rather the revenue they can generate from settlements. Based on what I've seen, it seems that these lawsuits are just another alternative revenue stream for Blizzard, and there's little emphasis on actually protecting the legit players (although public statements make it look like users are their top priority). If there were concerns for the legit players, users would be prevented from even launching SC2 (or other Blizzard games) if they have a maphack running. Hash files are very unique signatures too, so Warden would not be triggered by a false positive.

With all of the balancing issues, client issues, crashes, melting video cards, account thefts, and bugs (all of which were complained about for months during PTR/beta, but were STILL released live) wouldn't Blizzard themselves actually be causing even more irreparable harm to their players?

Anyhow - I've been tracking a lot of players on my own server who have been cheating like crazy. Still no ban as of today, even though many of them have probably accumulated 15,000 to 30,000 JPs in one day without running any raids. Yeah, definitely suspicious having all brand new high-level raid gear without having run any raids.

A whole lot of cheating going on..

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, October 17, 2010

With the new 4.0.1 patch came a whole ton of bugs, exploits and opportunities. =]

We're talking infinite Justice Points exploits, unlimited Honor Points, crazy Gold Making exploits, and Remote Auction House exploitation.

Most of them are easily detectable by Blizzard and these exploits have worked for the past 5 days - but players haven't been banned yet. I'm interested to see how long it will take Blizzard to crack down on these cheaters and exploiters. As mentioned in a previous post, if Blizzard is having concerns regarding Cataclysm (or worried about financial figures) they'll have a ban wave in Q4 (ending Dec 31). Otherwise, they'll save up the ban wave until Q1 next year (Jan/Feb/Mar) so that they can pad their revenue numbers even higher.

Here are some of the many cheats & exploits going on:

1. Infinite Justice Points Exploit

Containers that used to drop Emblems of Frost now drop Justice Points, however they are bugged and you can loot them over and over. 1000-1500 Justice Points in under 10 minutes is easily possible.

Here are the specific items, and you needed to have the ones from before the 4.0.1 patch. I'm not sure if NEW drops work as well.

For the [Sack of Frosty Treasures] for example: just open the bag, pull out JPs, enter Blasted Lands portal, pull out again, keep going back and forth. Each time you go through the portal it resets the JP contents. Don't loot all though, just the JPs.

[Brewfest Kegs] work too and provide 24 Justice Points each time. You can also logout and log back in again, and the items reset. It doesn't work with all zoning methods, however you can use the Undercity/Silvermoon Translocator to also reset the bag contents. There are other ways too.

2. Infinite Justice Points Exploit #2

You can kill the end boss of Hellfire Ramparts over-and-over for Justice Points. He's not supposed to drop them by the way. =] Clear the Heroic Instance to the last boss, kill his guards and he'll dismount, kill Vazruden only (not the Drake), jump off the bridge and exit the portal. Go back in, kill him again. Each kill gives 250 rep and 5 Justice Points.

Apparently, a couple other 70 Heroics are bugged as well. Anzu (Raven Lord Mount) doesn't need to be summoned anymore, so anyone can farm the mount without a Druid present. I hear that it's working on some realms, but not others - so I don't know if it's intentional or not.

3. Remote Auction House

A bunch of new web-based Remote AH bot applications have hit the market (the developers are profiting from it, just like the SC2 hack developers), and I'm seeing them in use on my own server. It makes Glyph selling fairly difficult.

One individual in particular that exploits heavily (he's logged in 24/7 making transactions - cancelling auctions and undercutting automatically) is actually the GM of one of the biggest PVE guilds on my server. He's fully geared in 277 and the guild is well progressed. For the past week though, he hasn't been raiding but rather running a bot to exploit Glyph sales. Players using Quick Auctions 3 (Auction Profit Master) is easily noticeable, but his activities are obviously automated. I chatted with a member of his guild, and apparently they're aware of his "exploits" and how he shares his account with others for heavy raiding which is why the account is logged in so much.

In regards to the other exploits, I'll post some more once I get confirmation from other players. Some methods involve gold making related to the 4.0.1 Undocumented Changes (ie, how everyone can get Wrath gear for honor now which can be sold back.) They removing Tailoring Specializations FYI, and apparently some other Profession Specializations might be impacted currently (Blizzard might be removing them later) such as LW Elemental, Blacksmithing, Alchemy Transmutation nerfs, etc.


I'm moving the lengthy SC2 hacks post (that was originally in this post) to a new entry to keep this post short.

I've also confirmed that other loot bags are bugged as well, some of them have been hot-fixed however.

Here are more bags that also provide infinite amounts of Justice Points and can be reset:

[Cache of the Ley-Guardian]
[Large Sack of Ulduar Spoils]
[Sack of Ulduar Spoils]
[Stachel of Spoils]
[Large Satchel of Spoils]

Zul'Gurub Mounts - Temporarily Unavailable

Posted by Daeity On Friday, October 15, 2010

Blizzard finally made an official announcement about what will be happening in 4.0.3 regarding those unique ZG mounts and items.

To summarize: the [Swift Zulian Tiger], [Swift Razzashi Raptor], and [Razzashi Hatchling] are being "removed" because the Raid is being converted into a low-level questing zone.

However, Blizzard also added "Although we have no current plans to introduce new ways to obtain the Zul'Gurub mounts, pets, and the tribute mounts, they may return should we find a place where they fit in the future."

While everyone on the WoW forums and websites were claiming that the mounts would be "gone for good" (and to farm ZG as soon as possible), I heard information to the contrary from my inside sources. I had actually predicted this in a post I made last month. =]

Also, although their statement says "no current plans", Blizzard actually does have plans (or should I say "options that they are considering"). The "original mounts" with their "original achievements" will be gone but the mounts will be making a reappearance (as explained earlier) either through drops, rewards (eg Archaeology), the Pet Store, or other ways.

The Pet Store definitely has a very high probability. =]

Also, a little birdie tells me that a mount similar to the [Black Qiraji Battle Tank] will be making an appearance in Cataclysm as well. My sources weren't as certain on the new scarab mount as they were on the ZG mounts, however.

4.0.1 Glyphs and Busy Making Gold

Posted by Daeity On Thursday, October 14, 2010

So I spent the last couple days selling Glyphs and re-selling [Vanishing Powder].

Trade Chat was filled with players asking, "where do i buy vanishing powder????" so I simply purchased stacks from the Scribe Vendor, directed Trade Chat users to the AH, and re-sold to them for 30G per stack. =]

I probably made about 3k gold just reselling cheap [Vanishing Powder] to people who didn't read the patch notes. From my Glyph selling, I gold capped one of my characters and the other is 50% capped. I had a lot of competition too unfortunately, but all-in-all it was a good day. Mat and ink prices sky-rocketed, so it was a good thing that I had made all of the glyphs (40 of each) during the weeks before. (Since ink requirements for Glyphs went from 1 ink to 3.)

All of the new 4.0.1 Glyphs can be learned from the trainer, 1 x Northrend Research (Living Bomb), and 1 x Book of Glyph Mastery (Colossus Smash). Don't waste any more than that, you won't learn anything new.

So here's an interesting gold tip:

[Glyph of Vanish] is currently bugged and no one is able to craft it. It will be hot-fixed eventually, so most players won't know when it will be available. But if you check the Trainer after each server restart, you'll be able to get and sell the Glyph before anyone else. For atleast the first few hours, you'll be able to sell it for 100-200G each.

Other broken Glyphs (not available YET) include [Glyph of Mage Armor], [Glyph of Armors], and [Glyph of the Long Word].

Mage Armor still might be available from your old crafted glyphs, but there's no way to make new ones - so they're very pricey at the moment and you should buy out all competition.

Don't advertise sales of these Glyphs in Trade Chat either, otherwise other Scribes will clue in.

Brief News in my briefs

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'll make this quick and summarize some news items. I'm exhausted and about to get some shut-eye. =]

- Forbes recently had an article about WoW's "12 million" subscribers announcement where they talked briefly about Blizzard's Next Gen MMO. Basically, the size of the team working on their Next Gen MMO is now more than 140 employees (which is close to the size of the team currently working on WoW.) It's a sign that project development is "in full swing", but it's still actually pretty new (ie, the team) and they're actually very far behind in development. The basic idea/story is ready, and content is still being developed - but it's still several years away.

- The Blizzcon Schedule makes no references to their Next Gen MMO.. I'm hoping they might show _something_ in the closing ceremonies though, even though game development is still early they still have some graphics content that they can show off. If there is no information released though, I'll have to go back to my sources and see if they're taking a different direction for the game. I'm still looking forwards to their "HUGE" Diablo 3 announcement though. D3 isn't supposed to be ready for public beta testing until late 2011, though, so the release date will probably be Christmas 2011 or very early in 2012 meaning that the release date announcement will happen around next years Blizzcon. I have strong feelings that this "HUGE" announcement will be silly.

- Regarding Blizzard's "12 million subscribers" announcement, it's funny how people never read the fine print on those posts. Active subscriptions in China (where a large chunk of their players are located) provide Blizzard a completely different calculation system used in their "total subscriber" figures. Keep in mind that in China, WoW and all of the expansion packs are completely free, and they don't pay monthly subscriptions. Instead, they buy time cards and can add time/points to them. The average player typically has multiple cards and they never expire until they reach 0. By purchasing these cards, they count towards an "active subscription" even though the time card isn't being used.

If you want to see real Census information, go here. During peak hours, there are about 2.6 million players online. You can't get accurate information like this from EU/NA realms though, Blizzard doesn't allow it. I have two CWOW accounts by the way, and can attest to the Chinese census information. =]

The thing is, that 12 million subscriber announcement doesn't fit in at all with Blizzard's revenue statements for EU/NA and NetEase's revenue statements for China. It also doesn't match up with each country's realm counts and sizes, software sales figures, and live census information. It does work, however, when special exceptions are made for active accounts (that can't be played or aren't being played), when you tweak numbers for China's special timecard system, and when you adjust the definition of what an "Active Subscriber" actually is.

- For those that didn't know (or forget), the next SC2 expansion pack release date is due in 2012 (Heart of the Swarm) and following in 2014 (Legacy of the Void). That's right - a 2 year gap between each Starcraft 2 Expansion Pack. Bah.

- Many online sources have been claiming Guild Wars 2 to be the next panacea for all MMO problems. Although I'm very much looking forwards to trying out GW2, I wish they wouldn't specifically focus on the problems of other MMOs. WoW, for example, has done a lot of things the RIGHT WAY and GW2 should be taking the same approach and simply improve proven concepts or working ideas. And don't forget that because GW2 will be doing a lot of cool new stuff, they'll be having a lot of cool new problems. =] I'll write up more on this though when I have some free time.

It's funny how just the other day I was posting about how Blizzard can (and will) ban you for any reason or for no reason at all.

Coincidentally, I just learned that Blizzard banned possibly thousands of players for using Single-Player trainers and cheats.

Check out this very interesting post from Cheathappens.com.

Here's my favorite bit:

Still though, some question Blizzard’s motives. “I’m surprised they took such a blind step without doing some research into the games played,” gm0ney added. The user has been through a similar situation before, with another game -- where he suspects the company had monetary motivations for the bans, “A bunch of people’s accounts got hacked and used cheats, so we all got banned. The company already had our money so they didn’t care about our accounts.” Many people, including Cheat Happens’ Business Operations Manager and Content Editor Chris O’Rorke, believe that Blizzard is also thinking monetarily, and points to the company’s blockbuster MMO World of Warcraft as evidence. In WoW, which (unlike Starcraft 2) carries with it a monthly fee, users who are found to be cheating are only handed temporary bans as to not interrupt the monthly flow of cash coming from those users.
It echoes a lot of concerns and supporting evidence that I've been posting about. Many of Blizzard's activities seem to be motivated by monetary purposes (especially when there are so many alternative methods available that are more customer centric rather than profit centric.)

Blizzard's official announcement, however, made it sound like the users were cheating on Battle.net or during live competition with other players:
We recently took action, including suspensions and bans, on over 5,000 StarCraft II players who were in violation of the Battle.net Terms of Use for cheating and/or using hack programs while playing. In addition to undermining the spirit of fair competition that’s essential to play on Battle.net, cheating and hacking can lead to stability and performance issues with the service. Maintaining a stable, safe, and secure online-gaming experience for legitimate players is a top priority for us, and we'll be continuing to keep watch on Battle.net and take action as needed.
I especially like the part about how cheating and hacking affects the stability and performance of their Battle.net service, hence the reason for the ban even though the single-player cheats were used offline. That's some deceptive wording.

Those banned players were also questioning the "legality" of Blizzard's actions. But, Blizzard's EULA and TOU documents are worded very carefully. Players don't actually own any of their games, they are merely "renting" the service from Blizzard who can terminate said service at any time, without notice, and for absolutely no reason at all.

Note: Even though I have a 100% clean account (I know a lot about bots and exploits for example, but I've never actually used them on my WoW), I'm pretty sure my account will get banned one day. It will probably be this Blizzard employee too.. he still regularly checks the blog, but has kept quiet with his comments since I called him out on it. He'll find SOME reason to ban me. =]

The timing of this SC2 ban-wave is definitely "coincidental" for other reasons as well. It happened on the first day (Oct 1) of the new Q4. It could have been done a few days earlier, so that it was reflected in Q3.. but no, Blizzard waited until the same Quarter as when Cataclysm would be released. This specific date was actually quite a strategic move and will pad Blizzard's profits (users need to purchase new licenses) for the same Quarter when Cataclysm is released. After all, they need to show a large profit to their investors during this time.

I had talked about this before, and how Blizzard can make these types of strategic actions to pad their numbers (especially during months when they are showing lower than expected profits.)

Here's the link where I noted an "interesting trend" about how new services, content or game releases, or bans will happen in quarters when sales are hurting.

If Blizzard's profits from WOTLK China Launch are lower than expected (Q3 statements not released yet) or Blizzard is really worried about about Cataclysm sales performance, we might see another WoW (or other BNET games) banwave during the next couple months. So if the banhammer drops before mid-December or you see new services (or paid pets for example) introduced - it means that Blizzard has some very strong doubts about Cataclysm. Blizzcon revenue (whose ticket prices keep increasing mind you) should help significantly improve their profits for Q4 however.

On another related note, the reason you haven't seen any in-game advertisements yet in Starcraft 2 is because Microsoft's Massive Inc. is closing their doors. This announcement was made to their clients (Blizzard being one of them) before the Blizzard SC2 banhammer dropped and before their public announcement was made. I'm thinking that's probably a real coincidence, but the timing (ie, Oct 1) of the banwave was definitely not a coincidence in my opinion. It fits in perfectly with what I've been writing about these past few months.

Just wanted to throw this one into the mix because it's a question that comes up a lot.

Dungeons and Dragons Online has doubled in revenue (old post) and then doubled again just recently apparently. Because of Turbines success, many people are wondering if their Asheron's Call game will also be going F2P. (Well, actually all of these "F2P" games should really be called NRF2P since they're not really free to play now are they?)

Anyways, Turbine has already answered this question. The answer is, "there are no plans for it right now. I will however not say this won't ever happen".

DDO and AC were actually both discussed to go F2P, but AC was much more difficult to build an in-game Item Shop / new billing system. DDO was much easier, so it was selected as their first candidate. It was very experimental at the time too, so they wanted to make sure the project cost the least amount of money as possible, and the AC engine would needed to have been rebuilt from the ground up.

Asheron's Call is one of my favorite MMORPG's next to WoW, so I'm hoping it will go F2P sometime in the future. Rather than taking the same approach to so many other NRF2P games, I wish they could try something new..

That is, don't worry about rebuilding the game so that an In-Game Item Shop and Purchasing System can be implemented. Instead, make it web-based (and mobile) and focus less on the game engine and more on the web app's integration with their back-end databases. Those are where items, weapons, character stats are located after all. Maybe test out some in-game advertising.. or make it free / open-sourced for PR purposes. Would be a nice way to give players a little taste of MMO's and then transition them over to their other NRF2P games.

What Happens to WoW Classic Players Post Cataclysm?

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Many readers here were interested in knowing what happens to players if they don't have the Cataclysm expansion pack and what to expect.

There's no phasing or anything like that (although it would have been cool) that will split up Cataclysm vs Non-Cata players.

The Cataclysm change will affect everyone in the Old World. Meaning cosmetic changes, new quests, new cities, skill/talent changes, etc.

So you will see everything that Cataclysm players see. You just won't have access to the new zones, you'll be level capped to whatever expansion pack you have (or don't have), and you won't be able to create Goblins/Worgens although you can still party with them. Talents, spells, abilities, glyphs, gear will all still be available to you just like everyone else at the same level.

Summary of Changes

- Outlands will NOT be changed.
- Northrend will have MINOR cosmetic changes (ie, stuff they've always wanted to fix).
- Mobs have not been deleted, some have just been relocated and others haven't moved at all.
- There's no point in farming certain mob (rare) drops, since they'll all be back in Cataclysm.
- Some hard-to-get drops have been moved to rare elites, making it easier for players.
- A few cities/towns have been destroyed, and new ones have popped up elsewhere to replace.
- No new graphics changes or engine improvements, except for water textures.
- No new audio changes or improvements.


But if you actually believe the hype, you'll be setting yourself up for some major disappointment.

For the most part, there hasn't been a lot of changes to the Old World. Blizzard designers literally took all of the assets and models from WOTLK and drag-and-dropped them into the Old World. Some land masses have been shifted up-and-down, quests have been changed (there are some new fun ones here and there), and there are new "familiar looking" mobs/NPCs (ie, same mobs as in Northrend, with different colored textures). That's really about it.

All of the cool new stuff is in the new 80-85 zones and dungeons - but keep in mind that the NEW content is less than half the size of WOTLK.

Since the new areas and content are so small compared to past expansion packs, Blizzard is pretty much counting on most players creating new toons and to experience all that the Old World has to offer. Which is why adding new realms is so important, and why I'm still expecting new realms to be created (while everyone else is saying they won't be.)

Total Number of Quests in WoW vs TBC vs WOTLK vs CATA?

Original WoW Quests Added: 2,600
Burning Crusade Quests Added: 2,700
Wrath of the Lich King Quests Added: 2,350
Cataclysm Quests Added: 3,000

Note: 1,000 of those quests will be in the 80-85 zones, while the remaining 2,000 are in the redesigned old world areas.

Of those 2,000 quests, however, many of them are actually based on or redesigned from old quests. So "3,000 new quests" is a little bit of an overstatement.. it's probably closer to max. 2000 "new" quests.

Another Note: This is a little piece of historical trivia I guess. Back in 2004, Jeff Kaplan stated that they originally planned 600 total quests for World of Warcraft. It grew to 1350 shortly after, and continued to grow some more (as seen above.)


In my humble opinion, the December 7 release date is still too soon. There are so many changes that still need to be made in the Cataclysm Beta (that still haven't been fixed) and I'm fully expecting these bugs (and overpowered NPCs, boss mechanics, lack of innovation) to be released in retail.

Anyhow.. here are some videos demonstrating the "DRAMATIC CHANGES" made in Cataclysm, I think they'll help put things into perspective for you:

Tirisfal Glades & Silverpine Forest Flythrough

Eastern Plaguelands & Western Plaguelands

Wetlands, Loch Modan & Badlands Flythrough

Elwynn Forest

Swamp of Sorrows & Blasted Lands

As you can see for yourself, there are very little changes.

It might just be me, but I have a different eye for these sort of things. Coming from a programming & game design background, I see 3D objects, textures and level design different from average players. While in the beta, none of the changes have impressed me at all.. there's nothing really new or cool, and all of the content from WOTLK was just copied over using Blizzard's internal (world) design tools.

When Cataclysm was first announced, I was hoping for complete underwater cities and questing zones (massive areas all underwater), a completely reshaped Azeroth, new underwater races (that you could create yourself), floating cities, class-specific quests and chains (like the "Rogue Guilds" they were initially planning for WoW Classic), new mobs, removed mobs, and most importantly an improved graphics engine. But none of that happened.

Maybe it's just me, but I'll get confirmation on my opinion once retail hits and more players can voice their own opinions. =]

I suspect there's going to be a lot of disappointment though..

From The Dirty Tricks Dept.™ - How To Get a WoW Player Banned

Posted by Daeity On Monday, October 4, 2010

So.. this post is a little bit more in contrast (ie, evil) to the others that I've written.

But, I'd like people to be aware about just how easy it is to get a player banned, point out flaws in Blizzard's investigation process, and just how important it is to play nice and not piss off other players. In fact, these 2 methods alone have been tested and have worked for many years.. and there are even more advanced methods available.

If you're going to do this: please only reserve for your worst enemy. And they have to be completely terrible human beings too. So if someone is better at PVP than you or they consistently undercut your auctions, please just leave them be.. it might be me after all. =]

If it's a foul-mouthed brat though, go ahead and "give him the business" since it's probably not me (I'm actually very polite and helpful to players in-game.)

Blizzard Banning Policies

First thing I want to do is bring you up to speed on Blizzard's policies regarding suspensions and perma-bans.

Here are the links to their Terms of Use (TOU) and End User License Agreement (EULA).

Basically, they state:

- The game belongs to Blizzard. You're not the owner, just the guy renting the service from Blizzard.
- They can monitor you and your PC, you have no rights and no expectations of privacy.
- They can make any changes to the agreement whenever they want.
- Blizzard can do anything to your account, at any time for any reason or without any reason at all.
- If you look at a Blizzard employee sideways - you can get banned.
- If you question Blizzard on their forums (like this poor guy) - you can get banned.
- If you drink skim milk on a Sunday - you can get banned.
- Blizzard doesn't have to provide notice of any kind, you're on your own.


Who Does Blizzard Typically Ban?

Blizzard will ban you even if they suspect cheating or exploitation. Investigations by Blizzard are very fast and limited in scope, so action is decisive even when there is no supporting evidence.

Blizzard typically bans players for hacking/botting, harassment/spam, buying/selling gold, and buying/selling characters.

Since you can't force a player to hack/bot and it's difficult to get them to harass other players (but not impossible for a talented troll who can get them to say something offensive), that leaves us with the "shady underground activities" such as gold buying and character selling.

The thing is, most players are guilty of something already.. so if they're investigated, Blizzard always finds something. These are all dangers that completely innocent players can face.

Preparation Steps

- An anonymous Gmail account. Gmail doesn't attach originator IP addresses to email headers, which is an extra level of security for you when you're emailing the "hacks@blizzard.com" address.
- Firefox with FoxyProxy installed. (Proxy redirect software to mask your IP address.)
- You'll need time (You need to research the mark.)
- You'll need gold (About 10k or 15k gold. The more the better and you can use my gold making strategies.. it'll take a couple weeks to hit 10k gold.)
- You'll need a wireless laptop and real money (One method involves purchasing a new WoW account.)

Consider the costs first before making your decision.. is it really worth it?

Note: The use of FoxyProxy is optional, it might be a little overkill but it's always a good idea to mask your IP address when researching information or accessing wowarmory.com. The "hacks" department, GMs and Support Personnel don't have access to that level of detail (ie, wowarmory IP access and logs), but you never know when you might come across an overzealous IT security manager.

If one were so inclined..

Technique #1: I'm New At Selling My Account

This one has about a 60-70% success rate, and just requires an investment of time.

First, investigate the mark - the most important information you should find out is if they have any alts on the same account. Check their guild (he might be in his own guild, and all members are alts), add them as a friend to track movement, check AH auctions to see if they have any alts selling similar items, check arena partners (might have alts as backups), make friends with them on your own alt, or even join their guild if you can (learn more about them from fellow guild members).

Wowarmory.com is also an extremely useful source of information. You can actually get away with this method just using information from Wowarmory.

You see, Blizzard has a team of employees who monitor common hacking/trading webpages like MMOWNED.COM and ELITEPVPERS.DE. They're looking for new exploits or hacks, and occasionally come across players selling or buying accounts.

You will need to sign up with a new account (on the account selling forum) and pretend to be a "noob" selling his WoW account. You'll want to sound innocent, and sound like you're trying to protect your account and privacy as much as possible. Throw in some spelling mistakes too.

For example,

"hi everyone. i'm new to this, but i'm getting really bored with wow and wanted to sell my accounts. i hear its hard to sell an entire account so ill prob just sell my characters one at a time. what's a good price for this character?

*Link to their WOWARMORY.COM account*

i've been running him through ICC a lot recently, and do a little pvp. I got a ton of gold selling flasks and elixirs though and my character has 450/450 herbing.

how does $100 sound? please email me at xxxx@xxxx.com for more information

i want to make this transaction as safe as possible since this is my first time. i have a list of rules that the buyer must follow and i intend to use paypal"

Don't overdo it too much though, but try to make the person sound as "new" as possible. You can even research posts made by other users (from character selling forums) to get an idea of what exactly to write. You want to make sure their wowarmory.com account is linked, and add their alts if you're CERTAIN they're linked to the same account (adding their alts as "friends" will confirm this for you.)

Be polite, stress the importance of SECURITY in selling your account (ie, you're new so you're very afraid of selling your account for the first time.)

You also want to "poke a stick" at Blizzard employees since they'll be reading it. The idea is to upset them. For example, "Blizzard employees are so fat and lazy and they're no help at all.. I just want to get out of this game." You can say something even worse if you want. Just keep in mind that personal ego plays a large decision-making part of banning a player.

This method actually works surprisingly well, it just depends if someone from Blizzard reads it or not. I know a group of users that have been doing this for YEARS successfully. I'm not sure how well it will work now, though, since Blizzard reads this blog. =]

Try selling the target's account on Elitepvpers.de, wait a couple weeks, if the account isn't banned yet, bump it to the top and post it on MMOWNED.COM. If there's still no account activity after 2 weeks, contact Blizzard's (hacks) email address and notify them that you know someone who is selling their account. Don't link to the elitepvpers.de or mmowned.com websites though, just give them the toon's name. If they search Google for the wowarmory link, it will likely redirect them to the forum webpages where they were trying to sell their account.

The idea is not to tell them too much, but rather have them come to their own conclusions through their own investigations.

Technique #2: Pleasure Doing Business With You, Mr. Gold Buyer

This one has a 90% success rate and requires an investment of time, money and a lot of gold.

Build up enough gold, until you have about 15k. The more the better.

Access an open/public wireless access point from your laptop (desktop with wireless card would work fine too) and create a new WoW account with fake information.

Launder gold through the Auction House so that you can get the 15k gold to your new account. (e.g. buy out items 50-100g at a time, or transfer items that they can resell for much higher values. My cross-faction guide for example can quickly net the new account several thousands per day by just selling rare and limited supply items & pets, without actually involving your original account. You want to separate yourself from your original account as much as possible.)

Take your time doing this, build up a ton of gold on the fake account.

Then, all you have to do is walk up to the mark with your fake account, open up a trade window, and just GIVE THEM 10,000G. You can log out immediately after handing over the gold, or if they whisper you just say "plz follow instructions of what we told u 2 do" and logout.

Then after they go offline, transfer another batch of gold (e.g. 5,000G) to their mailbox from another toon on the same account. Delete both characters (Level 1's) after you transfer the gold, and stop using the account for a while.

Plan ahead for when you know they'll be raiding or running dungeons (humans are creatures of habit), so that on the next day you email Blizzard and tell them that a "player named x on y realm was bragging on vent about how they just bought out a bunch of gold from some gold selling webpage". You can use their armory information to find out which dungeon/raid they were in (and during which days/times) to give further confidence to your story. For example, "this past saturday at around 2PM he said.."

Typically, they'll keep the gold and not report it.

The gold transfer alone will raise some red flags (they monitor that sort of thing), it's highly unusual, and if a third-party reports the "inappropriate behavior" to Blizzard it will give them the excuse they need to ban the account.

In Closing..

There are a lot of variations to these social engineering methods too (for example, ensuring that the mark will keep the gold and not report it by convincing them it's a prize or reward from the guild. Communications of the "prize" cannot be made in game though. Most players are very greedy though and they never report it.)

There's a bunch of other methods, but these are the easy ones that anyone can do. It's scary to think of how many players have been banned for not breaking the rules but rather for being obnoxious assholes. This is just karma support.

One of the biggest problems with new expansion packs, is that it makes all previous dungeons completely useless.

When TBC came out, Old World dungeons/raids were no longer visited. When WOTLK came out, TBC dungeons/raids were no longer visited. And when Cataclysm comes out, no one will be visiting WOTLK/TBC dungeons any more.

A ton of hard work went into the design of these instances, it's a complete shame that they're no longer experienced.

Sure, they're fun for nostalgia, power leveling with help from high levels, and for twink gear - but let's be honest: they're complete ghost towns. When was the last time you saw "LFG RFK", "LFG ramps", or "LFG seth" in chat or tried to join a group using the Dungeon Finder?

Everyone skips old dungeons for leveling, because it's much faster just to quest or AOE grind - and the dungeon gear is a waste of time (if you can even find a party to help you out).

Cataclym will be introducing 6 new level 80-85 dungeons and 2 remade old instances. It's nice that they've remade a couple old instances but they still have the same problem. And, there are other ways to fix this issue rather than just releasing new dungeons each exp. pack or creating revised point systems (e.g., Justice/Hero/Valor points, etc.)

Here's the solution: make all dungeons scalable to the player's level.

There can still be normal (original non-scaled) dungeons, heroic dungeons (special tailored instances with slight changes to drops and boss mechanics), and then scalable dungeons. They could be renamed to "Original, Normal (scaled), and Heroic".

Boss mechanics in the new scaled dungeons will not even need to be changed, but it would still require algorithms to scale mobs and items drops. (I hear Guild Wars 2 will be introducing randomly generated loot which will be very interesting to see how well it works.)

The obvious issue is, "Well if you just scale mobs, then there's no challenge." Let's be honest.. there's not really a lot of creativity in any of the current dungeons nor is there any innovation in the new Cataclysm dungeons/raids. It's always the same tank-and-spank strategy over and over, with a couple little movement or time-based DPS games sprinkled in here and there. There's nothing clever about it.

With scaled gear, you can still have the same old equipment look (with or without a slightly different name) but with different stats scaled for the player. They've already been doing this experimentation with heirlooms, so it shouldn't be that hard to do it with old instance drops.

Just like player classes, dungeons should also have a "paper, rock, scissors" attitude. If you want players to visit old dungeons, give them a reason. For example, players can visit old dungeons to collect lower tiered gear that are required for special mechanics in higher-tiered instances. (Like collecting fire resistance gear for other instances - make it optional.)

Dungeon gear could be scaled for the player, just like quest gear (at the same level) is made available. Because of the challenges involved, there could also be small chances that more powerful gear stats would be dropped. There could also be special gear (for certain classes) dropped only in certain dungeons, encouraging players to try and find groups to visit specific old world instances. This would all be optional too - making it easier for newbies to get geared up for higher level raids.

Mandatory dungeon quests, however, should not be making a return. =]

So, here are some of the benefits with this new approach:
- Get players to visit old dungeons again, have fun, free up space, get geared up properly, and give players more options.
- Introducing drops for specific classes encourages them to find groups or give them a reason to return to old instances.
- Make it fun for players to collect special gear that makes it easier to survive other high-level encounters.
- New gear aesthetics not required. This gives players a wide variety of equipment "looks" (with similar stats) to prevent everyone from looking the exact same in capital cities.

Blizzard's approach is to simplify everything - removing tokens, emblems, badges, marks, coins, shards, etc. and just making 2 point systems for PVE and 2 point systems for PVP. But this is still only applicable for level 85's in the long run. Something must be done for players between 1-85 who want to do something different.

An alternative option is to allow players to collect Hero/Valor points from old dungeons, but a smaller amount. Level 85 dungeons will give large amounts of hero points for example, but visiting a level 70 dungeon or raid will give you a less amount. But the points can still be used for purchasing equipment at your current level or level 85 when you reach it. This would encourage level 85's to still visit (or solo) old world dungeons for points.

I have a feeling that we'll still be stuck in the same cycle though.. new expansion pack = all previous instances abandoned.

How To Solo Halaa Battle Tokens and PVP Achievements

Posted by Daeity On Sunday, October 3, 2010

Since Halaa has been very quiet since the WOTLK release, it can be very difficult these days to farm PVP Tokens. If you have a friend on the opposite faction, it definitely makes things easier to collect the 2 Talbuk mounts or PVP rewards.

But if you have no support, there's still a way you can collect PVP tokens all by yourself. It's just a little bit more time consuming then doing it with a friend too.

You need two characters on your PVP/PVE account, one from each faction. Remember, you can only collect PVP Tokens if the player you're killing gives you honor.

Here's how you do it:

1. Remove all gear from the toon you want to kill.
2. Bring both of your characters (Horde and Alliance) to a certain location. You can park on the GY or on the bridge, as long as you're within the vicinity of Halaa you'll get the tokens.
3. Open up two copies of WOW.EXE (you can open up as many as you want from one install folder FYI)
4. On one WoW window, just login and position them where your other toon logged out.
5. Alt-tab to your other WoW Window and login again.
6. Play your other character and kill your naked toon. (The naked toon will still stay logged in for about 30 seconds or so.)

A 58 DK for example can kill a naked 80 pretty quickly, so don't worry about your other toon disappearing. You'll get a PVP token and about 150 honor for killing yourself. =]

Now, the more expensive Talbuk mount costs 100 Battle Tokens (plus some Research tokens too) so you'll need to do this 100 times - you'll also end up with about 11500 honor in the end. This will take a few hours, but it is possible to solo. Since most of your time will be spent logging back in again, I would recommend copying-and-pasting your password each time (login name is saved).

You don't need to close out each window, just keep alt-tabbing back-and-forth and logging back in with the same 2 windows.

This also works for the other PVP tokens in Outlands, as well as the daily quests in WOTLK that require player kills (e.g. Ice Crown, Grizzly Hills, etc.)

And, you can use this method for obtaining the following achievements:

[City Defender]
[Make Love, Not Warcraft]
[That Takes Class]
[Wrath of the Alliance] or [Wrath of the Horde]

This technique has been around a while and I even wrote about it back on MMOWNED a few years ago. It's very useful for self-buffing your characters or de-buffing them (like during the Valentine's event where you need to remove "Broken Heart" from your own toons.) But, not many people are aware that it can be used for PVP tokens/rewards/achievements.

What's nice about this "exploit" is that it's even approved by Blizzard too. :)

You can mage port your own characters too, but it requires a 3rd party in order to invite the second toon. It beats paying for ports though. =]

Interesting Note: While we're on the subject of creating parties, you can also create your own Raid group without asking for help. Just play Wintergrasp until the end, and you'll stay in the Raid after everyone leaves (if you leave WG early though, you will be auto-removed from the raid group). Then you can head to ZG or solo any other raid you want.

The Next Level

If you're a hardcore (and patient) player, there's also a way to get two of your opposing factions into the same Battleground too. =]

This is especially useful for soloing the harder-to-get PVP achievements like [Wrecking Ball] and [The Grim Reaper]. All you gotta do is park your two (equally leveled) toons at a special low-traffic location, like Snowfall GY, strip them down, and kill them over-and-over until you get the achievements.

It's very difficult to get two characters into the same BG, and it used to be a LOT easier when you could select the BG number. But, here's how you can do it now in AV:

1. Queue up for a BG on one character, once you join the raid, jump to the other WoW window, login and queue up with your other toon. After a while, the first toon will appear as "disconnected" but will not be dropped from the raid. If it's very early in the morning and there aren't many players on, there will be a (small) chance that you'll join the same AV as your other character.

2. Queue up for AV on one character, and as soon as one player quits (report them all AFK and wish for the best), jump over to your other window and queue up for AV. Hopefully, that toon will join the same AV.

This works well if you've ever joined AV matches in the past when both sides are unequally matches during certain periods of the day. If you notice a lot of open slots after the raid is created, there's a probability to get both of your single-account toons into the same AV.

Keep in mind, that this is very hard to do, but once you get in with both toons - you can just jump back-and-forth between your characters (WoW windows), get the kills and achievements all in one AV match.

Of course, this is all much easier if you have a friend from the opposing faction to help you out. =]