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More on dual specs at Blizzcon

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In the midst of a mostly unrelated post about the Druid Balance tree, Ghostcrawler let slip the following: “The dual-spec feature will shine more light on talent design (more on that at Blizzcon) and we’ll have a better idea of what we want to do with trees when that goes live.” Now I don’t know about you all, but as someone who plays a healing class for a main, I am very interested in the dual spec idea. Knowing that we’ll get more information on it at Blizzcon, just a few days away, makes me a happy priest indeed.

But what could she mean by the dual-spec feature shining more light on talent design? It’s a slightly mysterious statement, but my interpretation is that when everybody can have two specs and switch between them either freely or at least cheaply, the load each spec needs to carry lessens. It’s OK if Holy can’t solo, because you can just switch to your Shadow spec for that. It’s not such a big deal if Combat isn’t as strong in PvP; just swap out to Assassination for the BG weekend, and swap back in time to raid. The trees no longer have to be strong in all areas of the game. But that’s just guesswork on my part; GC may well have meant something else entirely.

Either way, we’ll see in Anaheim this weekend, and WoW Insider will keep you posted with live reports.

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Blizz posts DK creation FAQ

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38 days from now, Wrath of the Lich King will be released, and hundreds of thousands of people will be chomping at the bit to roll Death Knights, WoW‘s first new class. Blizzard knows this as well as anyone, so they’ve posted a FAQ on DK character creation. If you’ve been following the news for months, there is little new here, but it’s good as a recap, because these questions are, indeed, very frequently asked. So go on and brush up if you have questions about what races can be DKs (all of them), or whether you can make it the opposite faction of your existing characters (yes, unless you’re on a PvP server).

There is, though, one bit of news in this post. When Wrath launches, you will only be able to create a DK on a realm on which you have an existing character of level 55 or higher. Wryxian, that maverick crocolisk CM, promises that in the future, the option will be opened up to create a DK on any realm, provided you have at least one 55-or-higher character somewhere. The previous plan was to make this the rule at launch (55+ = DK on any realm).

The only reason I can think of that they would make this change is that they were having difficulties from a technical standpoint; maybe it’s non-trivial when trying to create a character on one realm to check that account’s characters on other realms. Anyway, I doubt this will affect anyone too much. I for one am certainly going to make a DK on my main realm before I branch out to realms that I don’t have any high-level characters on.

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New options button in beta

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In the LK beta build that just went live tonight, build number 8905, there’s a new Options button on the login screen, just above Cinematics, Credits, and Terms of Use. What lies behind its blue mystery? [Edit: apparently it was there in the last build too. I never noticed.]

Unsurprisingly enough, it contains some options that you might want to change before entering the game. Specifically, it has options for video resolution, video effect quality, and sound. For the most part, these are the same options currently available in-game. “Enable Reverb,” “Headphone Mode,” and “Death Knight Voices” have been added to the sound pane. “Disable Resize” has been added under “Windowed Mode” in the resolution pane; I’m not sure why you’d want to do that, though, unless you kept accidentally resizing the window (which I’ve never had an issue with, and I often play windowed).

The big innovation here (and yes, I realize innovations in option dialogs may not strike you as particularly interesting) is a master slider for video quality. Now you don’t have to fiddle separately with terrain distance and ground clutter density if you don’t want to; just drag the slider somewhere on the scale from “Low” to “High,” whatever’s prettiest without being too devastating to your framerates on your particular system. Of course, there’s a “Custom” setting, so if you want to tweak all the little sliders, you are still free to do so. A nice change, and it will especially benefit people who don’t necessarily know what all the options mean.

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Cutting a more perfect gem

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WoW‘s crafting system has always been relatively straightforward. Collect mats, press button, receive item. This lies in contrast to crafting systems from other games, which may contain mini-games, convoluted learning systems, or varying levels of success in production. In WoW, you can’t even fail at making something; if you can make it at all, every attempt will result in an item, and they’re all the same (aside from some recipes with random enchants. This fits in with WoW being on the simple side for MMOs (simple to learn, that is; often difficult to master).

Jewelcrafting in LK is going to shake that up a little bit. There will be a quest available to jewelcrafters that gives them a chance to craft a “perfect” version of an uncommon-quality gem when cutting it. For the first time, it’s possible to have a critical success from crafting in WoW. It looks like the perfect versions of gems are positioned precisely between the uncommon and rare versions of a cut, in terms of stats. For instance:

So far, Gem Perfection appears to work only on uncommon-level gems, not on rares or epics. I also don’t know what the chance is of cutting a perfect gem instead of a regular one. It’s a nice change, and a little something extra for cutting those buckets of green gems on the way from 375 to 450. Would you like to see more critical successes in other crafting professions?

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