Surprise! Expansion releasing mid-November!

Good morning, sunshine!

You know how, when you went to bed last night, you figured it was going to be a slow news day?

Surprise!

In a move my more cynical and bitter readers will no doubt attribute to a sneaky ploy by Blizzards marketing team to cut Warhammer off at the knees, Blizzard has apparently set a hard release date for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion to be November 13th, 2008.

Hey, I was figuring that was when we were going to see it, I think I even went so far as to say so on a WoW Insider podcast months ago…

I just didn’t expect to see that in the news at WoW Insider first thing this morning.

After all, Blizzard is famous for the “We ship it when it’s done, and we ain’t saying when that will be until we are SURE” philosophy, and I for one love them for that.

But if they are going to buy ad space at WoWhead trumpeting it, I figure they must have some firm plans in place… either that, or their marketing team is still high from snorting lithium after the massive success of the “Recruit a Friend/Multibox a Zhevra” program.

So, eight and a half weeks from now. Two months. PLENTY of time for more adjusting of Talents.

Yes, I counted. Two months. Plenty of time.

A WoW topic near and dear to my heart

I have an article going live, probably in about 2 minutes (Noon Eastern time on Tuesday) on WoW Insider that concerns something I feel fairly strongly about.

Correction: Someone apparently moved it to 2 PM Eastern time. Don’t ask me why.

Correction to my correction: because Noon is WoW Moviewatch time. I knew that. 

I’d originally written most of it for the blog last week, and then realized it was going to be a loooong topic, with many parts, so I should try and do it more in depth… and geez, where have I been posting big things lately?

So it’s on WoW Insider.

The subject comes down to how we think about preparing to move from five man content, soloing and questing, and into early raiding.

All of us know how much fun it is to play solo through quest chains, most of us have enjoyed getting together with four other people and playing in an instance (at whatever level), and we know how widely our specs, gear and playstyle can vary from others during that kind of play.

There is very little pressure to have certain specs, or knowledge, or unique class skills or gear levels for most of the game.

Once you reach the last few levels, whether it be 68-70 like now, or 78-80 in the future, expectations change… but sometimes it seems the players don’t realize it, especially for their first level 70 character.

And if you are relatively new to the game, why would you be expected to know any of this?

Let me be specific.

As a druid, if I had purchased this game just 4 months ago, had started playing and leveled and had fun, once I reached level 65+ I would know certain things about how I have played while soloing.

If I was adventurous, it’s reasonable to assume that I’d found some people in LFG or the trade channel to join me in occasional instance runs.

But for the most part, the majority of people currently playing the game have been playing for a year or more, even if they started after Burning Crusade was released.

And there are certain assumptions that are made about what people know now, because ‘everyone knows that, duh’.

Can you imagine the fun I’d have trying to join a guild full of know-it-alls now?

It’s as if we are all expected to know everything when we ding 70, and it’s just not true. new players pick up the game all the time, but compared to when I started playing, lower level zones are a wasteland, barren of players except those powerleveling yet another alt to rush to 70.

Yes, there are exceptions, but for the most part, the game now belongs to the 70s, and those trying to hurry up and get there.

And people see this, and, excited to join other people and finally play with the community, they get up to 68+ and look to join an active guild that does lots of neat stuff.

And the people in that guild, having been there for a while, have certain expectations of how you can play your own class that you just might not be aware of.

Like how to manage aggro. Or what neat little abilites your class has that you haven’t needed to use (like me and Mind Control on my priest), Or what you should do to prepare yourself before expecting to go on raids with your guild. 

Or how to be part of a team, and let everyone have a chance to use their abilites to help everything run smoothly, rather than be a hot dog wonderboy.

I’ve had quite a few new feral druids email me various questions, and I make a note of the things people are curious about.

Questions from people that are eager to get in and play a feral Druid in Karazhan, but are afraid of making a mistake, or don’t understand how to be a useful part of a team if they don’t have great gear yet, or simply wonder how they are to get into a Kara group as a feral druid if the party already has a good tank.

And once they’re in there, what should they do?

I’m hoping to answer a lot of these kind of questions, by writing a series of articles dealing specifically with tips and advice I would have to give a newly rising feral druid that wants to be ready to go into Karazhan, and wants to know what different things he has to offer the group besides just tank and spank once in there.

I hope you enjoy the first part, which covers everything prior to going in, and I invite your suggestions for your own tips and tricks for specific bosses and trash mobs, in the hopes that the final articles will be as complete as I can make them.

Reminder: T-Shirt Art Contest has 1 week left!

Details, foshizzle, be on the original post!

You have one week from today for your submissions, but if you need a little more time, like Caitlyn, just let me know.

Plus, looks like I’ll be doing the WoW Insider podcast tomorrow.

You can tune in to WoW Radio live tomorrow afternoon at 3:30 Eastern time, you can join the IRC chat directly on WoW Radio in a widget or by sending your IRC client of choice to irc.mmoirc.com and the #wowradio channel. And if you’d like to email the show, which will be read by us but possibly not on the air, you can do that, by emailing theshow@wowinsider.com

What with the beta patch notes, etc, I imagine it’ll be a BIG conversation. Join me and Matthew Rossi and Turpster for the fun!

Yes, I said ‘foshizzle’. Sue me.

Does Blizzard listen to player concerns?

A post up on WoW Insider today highlights a Blizzard Forum Post that recaps times in the past when players’ crying and whining have caused Blizzard to implement changes to the game.

The article was okay, but if we step away from the forum thread for a second, I think it raises a very interesting question.

To what extent do you feel the feedback of WoW players, given by means of forum threads and publicized concerns, affect the future design decisions of Blizzard Developers?

It’s a good topic for discussion. How much voice do we have? What methods of voicing concerns have the best chance to be heard? How much affect does tone and presentation have on being taken seriously?

What examples do we have of changes made to the game or the way we play that arose from player concerns?

I personally wonder to what extent the Blizzard Authenticator owes it’s existence to those that have tirelessly pushed Blizzard for greater account security.

On a more personal level, I would like to quote this section of the WOW Insider article;

TBC is released. About a month later as most people hit 70 and begin running level 70 five mans and heroic dungeons, it becomes apparent that druids are one of the best tanks if not THE best tanks for 5 mans. Massive warrior QQ ensues. Result is that druid tanking is drastically nerfed..

Funny… I don’t FEEL drastically nerfed.

Does this butt look spongy? Soft?

I block with my FACE!

Nerf my big butt. [grumbles]

Cassie’s favorite song – Billie Maclure

Okay, second favorite… Dax’s Pugging Kara Blues is still number one.

But we were chatting about WoW today, as we sat in folding chairs, watching our son play T-Ball, and she mentioned that while listening to the WoW Insider podcast on WC Radio (does it count as a shameless plug if I don’t link it? Nah, I think we’re cool) she enjoys listening to the songs that play before the show and during the break in the middle.

Well, heck, I never get to hear the music, I’m actually doing the show. I feel robbed. I want my live music!

She was telling me that she was listening last weekend, and before the latest episode about the Paris WWI, they played Dax’s song again. Woot Dax!

And then she said that as much as she loved that one, her other favorite that they play on WC Radio fairly often is a little something called Billie Maclure, that they just nailed the quests and even mentioned Hogger and it sounds just like….

Well, it was clear she really liked it.

So I went on out there and found it, just for her.

Here you go dear… love you!

Just a few Feral Druid notes on the Paris Worldwide Invitational

Okay, so I know there is a lot of news coming out, and as we are still a LONG way away from Wrath being released, I am not going to try to analyze stuff… yet.

But just in case you haven’t seen it yet, and so you know it’s out there so you can go look for more info, here are some of the things said at the Blizzard World Wide Invitationaal about Feral Druids…

First, there WILL be a brand new Dire Cat form with a new model, AND there will be a new model for Dire Bear form.

A panelist said that, when asked about changing the appearance of the skins for Druid forms, that they are thinking maybe, but they are afraid of community outcry, after the unanticipated rage they experienced over changes they made to Rogue Stealth animations in previous patches.

So, MAYBE they are thinking of changing the forms to a more beautiful appearance like Andriges’ work, but maybe not.

Shaman’s Windfury Totem WILL affect Druids in forms… AND will coexist with weapon buffs such as Weightstones, because Windfury Totem will be a player buff rather than a weapon buff.

That is a massive change, as far as Feral Druids go. Matt Rossi on the podcast mentioned it first, damn him, but I was gonna say it too… being the main tank as a Bear and having Windfury active? OMIGOD!!!!

Oh, and… Shaman Totems will affect the entire raid, NOT just the 5 man segment of the raid they happen to be in. Hey, that’s what they said. So, not only do you get Windfury Totem as Bear tank (or Kitty), but you also get Strength of Earth and Grace of Air.. oh, and did I mention they are COMBINING Strength of Earth and Grace of Air into one totem? And that is even if the Shaman is NOT in your 5 man segment of teh raid.

So yeah.. Shamans are going to be MASSIVELY buffing Feral Druids with Windfury… I love it.

And they said that they are working on the Feral Druid range bug, and they MAY have it fixed by the time Warthof the Lich King is released. LOL.

They are NOT removing Diminishing Returns from Cyclone as they had discussed. Instead, they are making Entangling Roots work indoors AND out! Viable Druid CC! Without long cast times! Yay!

So…. that’s what we got so far… and as Wrath is playable at the WWI, I bet we are going to get tons of hands on impressions.

I hope that this encourages you to go seek out more info… I know that WoW Insider has been doing a great job at covering everything. While I pugged Kara last night with Cassieann and Doodlebug until 1:00 AM, WoW Insider were up all night long freaking out and transcribing and going nuts.

So now that I’ve whet your curiosity.. go! Have fun!

Oh, and just cause I can’t help myself… Hunter’s PETS get their own talent trees, three trees, Utility, DPS and Tanking. God, that is gonna be fun to play with.  AND, there will be new pet classes… AND some pet classes will have unique abilities in their trees! Expect BRK and Mania to go nuts… I wish I could see the look on Mania’s face right about now. OMIGOD TALENT TREES, GREAT… BUT, (here it comes…) when asked about new Pet Stable Slots.. a single word answer from the panel… NO.

WTF?!?