Thursday, 1 April 2010

A very special beta

Apologies for the lack of posts recently. A lot of my time has been taken up with my role as the beta tester in a very special project. No, not that one, something far more important that will change the lives of millions.

Sadly, tourist numbers have declined precipitately in France recently, mostly due to the visitors being unable to the understand the local language (or, as the locals insist on calling it, "frankie" with some silly squiggle under the k or something). This has led to thousands of american tourists being served calf's ears when they wanted buffalo wings, which is great news for the calf's ear industry, but not so good for repeat business.

Fortunately L'Académie française has come up with an inspired solution to this: the new French National Subtitling System. Using recent innovations in voice recognition and wearable LED messaging systems, it is now possible for all frenchmen to be equipped with an automatic translation system that converts their funny foreign jibber-jabber into Proper English Like Wot The Queen Speaks. At first the system will be applied to important public servants, like policemen and waiters, but the intention is to roll it out to all citizens by 2015.

Whilst there, a very strange incident happened to me. I was sitting in a local cafe eating my traditional english breakfast of a rosbif sandwich and 12 pints of extra-strong lager, when I noticed a hunched man munching croissants at the next table. He was wearing dark glasses and pretending to read a newspaper with eye holes cut in it, but really looking at the onion seller by the roadside.

They obviously knew each other, because the onion seller came over to the table. Sadly, neither of them were wearing the new translation system, so I only caught a few words:
"Eh, Monsieur Bibi! ... I 'ave ze new onion special for you "
At that moment a shot rang out and the onion seller fell down, scattering his wares all over the pavement. The man in the dark glasses grabbed the bicycle and wove off into the traffic, hotly pursued by more men in dark glasses & berets. I managed to grab the onion that the seller had placed on "Bibi"'s table and ran off in the other direction.

The onion turned out to be much lighter than I expected - it was made of plastic! Hidden inside was a small USB stick (or, as the French say, stick de USB) that looked like this:

I hastily made my way to the nearest internet cafe to find out what secret could be so important as to be worth a man's life. On the stick was just one file, titled: patch_notes_3.4.txt. I'm publishing it here in the name of democracy and to prevent the men in berets from suppressing the truth.

World of Warcraft Client Patch 3.4

We felt that the existing battlegrounds did not reflect the reality of open-world PvP, so we are introducing a new battleground to bring that feeling back. Called the Battle for Crossroads, this pitches a single alliance Death Knight or Hunter (level 80 required) against up to five Horde characters (max level 15) and a number of level 20 guards and NPCs. The objectives for each side are different. The Horde players win if one of them reaches the flight master and takes a flight to Orgrimmar without dying. The alliance player wins if they can kill all the opposing players and NPCs without using the /lol emote.

Death Knights
Our analysis of armory profiles of death knights has revealed a mismatch between current game mechanics and the way people actually play. From now on, all +spellpower items, enchants and gems will automatically provide the equivalent bonus to attack power.

The rocketbear feature from the Gunship Battle has now been made a trainable skill, available at level 60. The old flight form has been removed.

Will now automatically roll need on all item drops.

To discourage abuse of the mana-strudel mechanic, all players receiving free food or drinks from a mage will now automatically be charged the equivalent vendor price for the items, which will be passed to the mage who conjured them.

All forms of bubble will now automatically activate the caster's hearthstone.

Spirit of Redemption has now been re-worked into Holy Form. In this form, priests can no longer move, attack or be attacked, but can cast all spells at zero mana cost. Not useable in instances, raids, battlegrounds or arenas.

A long-standing bug where rogues were able to stealth in plain view in broad daylight has now been eliminated. Stealth will now only function as originally intended, when the rogue is in a dark place out of sight of other players and NPCs.

Enhancement has been redefined as the tanking tree. Enhanced shields will now increase the armour value gained from shields by 10/20/30%. Spirit Weapons now increases threat by 30%, rather than reducing it. Earthen Power now modifies the stoneclaw totem to AOE taunt all mobs in range onto the shaman.

Fear, howl of terror and death coil now affect the caster as well as the target.

The rage mechanic has been re-worked. Rage is now automatically tied to the nearest healer's mana pool - the more mana the healer has, the lower the warrior's rage.

Blood Elves
The male and female models have now been consolidated into a single unisex model.

Have now been returned to the Broken model originally intended. Their spaceship has been removed and all Draenei characters now start in the Swamp of Sorrows. At level 1.

The apparent imbalance in the sexes of dwarves has been resolved by allowing female dwarves to remove their beards at the barber shop.

Are now 20% taller, to balance racial heights across the factions with the advent of goblins.

A new body shape has been introduced for male humans, which makes them look normal sized. The old model can be accessed if desired by typing /steroidabuse.

Night elves
The bug that causes night elf characters to intermittently somersault when jumping has finally been resolved. The intended proc was to cause instant death, allowing players to take advantage of the Night Elf wisp form.

All characters with names referencing the words moo, cow, beef or McDonalds have now been deleted. Both remaining Tauren have been promoted to level 80.

A new emote /standupstraight has been introduced for all male trolls, allowing Azeroth to see them in their full glory.

All emblem items in game can now be purchased from the Blizzard store. Items previously requiring emblems will cost $1 per emblem of triumph, or $5 per emblem of frost. Existing emblems have been removed.