PAX East Updates; Shadowmourne Quest Progression; 3.3.3 Patch Notes (or, why I still won’t run Occulus).
This just in! According to neowin.net, Nvidia will be unveiling it’s fastest gaming technology yet at PAX East 2010. This event just gets cooler and cooler. Who’s going? I know Averna and I are going, as are about a dozen of our guildies. Straight-up Ascended meetup! Woot! Also, given that I will be hosting a ton of guildies, I will not be registering for the BYOC option, but if you’re interested, I recommend registering ASAP – spots are very limited.
I will be updating more on this as the event gets closer, and of course, I’ll be doing what I can to update what I can about the event itself (though since we’ll be hosting a slew of guildmates, don’t expect minute-by-minute updates).
In other news, I’ve almost completed A Feast of Souls, my current quest in my Shadowmourne questline. After that, next up – a hard-ass kill of Putricide! Seeing as we’ll be banging our heads against Putricide again tonight hoping for our first kill of him on 25-man, I’d say it’s a bit away before we can do it so well we can have me in there messing around with being the Abom to get the debuff for the quest, but I’ll update as we get closer. Wish us luck!
So as I mentioned the other day, Blizzard has released the patch notes for 3.3.3 (though GhostCrawler has stated that they are not 100% complete) and there’s some big changes coming. I’m not even going to touch the massive pvp/battleground changes, ’cause hey, pvp is fun, but it’s not my big thing. I’m on a PvP server because I like the violent nature of it; I like the unsuspecting attacks, I like the “look over your shoulder” feel it gives, but at the end of the day, PvE is where my heart is; I live for the raid, for the group kill, for the exultation of a hard fight well executed. Leave the PvP change reviews to someone who lives and breathes for the PK.
First – some random stuff.
Ok, so we’ve got some simple fixes here that make life a little easier. I’m all for ‘em. Bring ‘em on. Insert more times that I say “‘em”. Onward. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I care a lot about my Unholy DK (and am at this point just amused by the fact that it’s impossible for a patch to come without a serious change to the spec), so I’ll hit on those changes.
Whoa whoa wait a second there – is that a buff, a nerf, or somewhere in the middle? Well, it sorta depends on what you do. With the physical damage increase, you’re looking at a buff on non-diseased targets. That is to say, if you use Scourge Strike against something right off the bat, it’s going to do more damage post-patch than it does now. This change should not, however, affect much for PvEers, as even though it looks like a nerf at first glance on the shadow damage, don’t forget the shadow damage is directly proportional to the physical damage, so it’s relatively the same thing (an ever-so-slight buff, actually). Both still double dip in the same ratios, and in the end, if there’s a change, you’re probably not going to notice it. If anything, you’ll notice that ArmPen is worth a tiny bit more. Don’t worry about it. In the end, this will most likely be about a 50 dps buff for you. From this post:
There are a ton of Auction House changes, which I’ll go over (read: look at) at some point in the future, but for now let’s just skip ahead to what made me omg wtf nerdrage pissed:
Yup, totally wtf pissed.
Here’s the thing – I’m in the camp of people that hates Occulus. Now, before you get all hatin’, raging at me for not knowing how to play, saying it’s easy, saying I can get all those extra badges and the mount, hear me out. I like vehicles. Which is to say, I like 2d vehicles, land vehicles. I think that the Flame Leviathan fight is super cool and fun, I think that while Wintergrasp is poorly implemented and the server architecture can’t handle it, it’s fun in concept and I like the style. 3D drake vehicle combat, however, is another thing entirely. I hated Malygos Phase 3 with a seething passion, and would have opted out of running it at all if I weren’t, y’know, the guild leader (it would have set a bad precedent, not to mention the hit on morale). The display engine just doesn’t cope well with 3-dimensional space, figuring placement not just 360º around you, but also above and below. It’s poorly designed and plays in a way that I do not find enjoyable in any way, shape, or form.
Is it easy? Totally. Can I do it? Of course. Should I have to? NO. I play this game to have fun, and Occulus is not fun, at all. I’d rather not play WoW than run Occulus. I don’t care about Triumph badges, I don’t care about mounts. I have no reason to run it, at all, and it saddens me that because Blizzard decided to make the random daily include Emblems of Frost, I’m basically forced to run one random a day in order to be a dedicated raider.
Currently, this isn’t much of an issue: if it pops, I leave, wait 15 minutes, and try again. But the above change tells me the following. First, Blizzard recognized that they had an epidemic of people leaving Occulus when it popped, so they added some extra rewards for completing it – a few extra Triumph badges and the chance at a mount. Apparently, that didn’t do enough, so now they’re taking the other route – punishment. Blizz is acting like a bad parent, first offering sweets as a reward for finishing a dry meatloaf dinner, and when that doesn’t work, threaten punishment. If you don’t run Occulus when it pops, you don’t get to run anything for half an hour. Ok, I’ll log out and go play Rock Band for half an hour. No skin off my back. At least that’s FUN.
Could I suck it up and run it? Sure, I could. I mean, it’s quick and easy, right? As I told a guildie last night, so’s your mom, but that doesn’t mean I should jump her bones. Not. The. Point. I play this game to have fun. I play this game because it IS fun. I like the grind, I like the options, I like the playstyle; hell, I’m working on Loremaster for my freakin’ Death Knight, and even though it’s tedious as all hell, I’m enjoying it a lot. Occulus does nothing for me, and I resent being extorted into running that 15-minute facepalm just because Blizzard can’t admit/accept that it’s terrible. They did as much already when they added the extra rewards for it; I’m sorry that wasn’t enough. You know what would be enough? Give us a one-minute pre-combat “grace period” upon entering an instance to leave it. Yes, you’d see people leaving groups because their teammates aren’t in T10 – I consider that an acceptable rarity, or at least an acceptable option vs punishing people who refuse to waste their time because Blizzard can’t accept that they made something that sucks.
I’m not saying it should be abolished; I’m not saying it should be removed. Shit, some people like it. You may enjoy it, and if so, kudos – I’m fine with that. Everyone is different (no two people are not on fire). But now Blizz wants to see if people will log out for half an hour when their RNG gives them that joke of a run?
You bet your ass I will. I’m just going to do so while being even more pissed that in order to be a progressive raider, I have to run content that I beat over a year ago *every day* and subject myself to the chance of that abortion of an instance or a half hour penalty? The damn things never should have given Emblems of Frost in the first place. I don’t see them changing that anytime soon, though, so I die the little death inside.
Now, again I recognize – some people really like it. I also know that a lot of devs put a lot of time and effort into it, and I respect that. The existence of the instance doesn’t bother me; the fact that I’m going to be penalized for half an hour for not wanting to run it does. I could just not do the daily random, but again – then I’m losing 14 Emblems of Frost a week, and for a serious raider (especially an Unholy DK, that needs all five pieces plus the cloak – 455 Emblems total, unless I get lucky in VoA), that’s a lot.
So that’s why I hate this change. Weak, Blizzard, really weak.
So what are your thoughts on the change? Like it? Hate it? If you’re civil, I’m down for a discussion. Whatcha got?
Holy smokes, it finally shipped!
I love GameFly, I really do. I even had a clever plan with them – keep my queue insanely small, and they’ll be forced to send me the games I want. It worked up until now. This time, Bioshock 2 was the only game in my queue for two weeks. Looks like they will not, in fact, just buy another copy to fill the demand. All is good now, though, for they have finally shipped me a copy, and I should have it by Monday. I look forward to revisiting Rapture next week.
If you’re in Cambridge tonight, you have the chance to see me in rare form, which is to say out and about on the town instead of sequestered away in my office, working on Loremaster on my Death Knight. I will instead be at TT the Bear’s, greatly enjoying the music of The Luxury. Freakin’ awesome Brit-pop-rock band from Boston, winners of the 31st annual Rock and Roll Rumble, totally awesome ninja robots that breath lava while they play and more badass than Chuck Norris after he beheaded the Highlander. No, really. Check it out.
Some new Kill Shots/Achievements up – check em out.
Aeman (one of my guild‘s two raid leaders – trust me, they make it work well) has been working on an off-official-raidtimes 10-man Glory of the Icecrown Raider run for a few weeks now, and we’ve been making some steady progress. I’m quite excited about what’s to come. So far, the fights haven’t been too tricky; I’d say just enough for a 10-man run, enough to make you work for it. Averna and I were talking about the ease of 10m vs. 25m last night, and I’m of the mind that it’s not so much that the 10m runs are easier, per se, but rather that there’s less to carry, less confusion, and each and every member is important. On the one hand, that puts a lot more pressure on each raid member, but on the other, that’s a lot less chances to mess up; it narrows the margin of error by 15 players, and that’s a lot of confusion removed. Someone died? It’s pretty easy to notice, and probably pretty easy to get a battle rez up (it’s not like you have five druids in the raid – well, you probably don’t).
Thing is, with 25 people, someone’s more likely to mess up, someone’s more likely to need to be carried, and in some 25-man encounters, people can’t be carried. Everyone has a job, and they need to perform it flawlessly or everyone dies. That’s just how it goes sometimes, and I think that just becomes more apparent when there are more chances/people to mess up. 10 man runs aren’t inherently easier, they’re just easier to manage. I guess my point is, no hatin’ on those who push out 10-man runs/kills/achievements – they’re working just as hard as you are at them. They just might be working harder than the weakest link in your 25-man, and that can be the difference between a kill and a wipe.
This just in! Patch notes for 3.3.3 just hit, and boy am I pissed about some of it (just some, though – some is sweet!). Next post will cover what I think; stay tuned and see you soon!
We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a Public Service Announcement. This is a post I put up on my guild forums a while back, but with the recent report of a supposed account hack to an authenticator-enabled account, I figured I’d repost here for mass consumption. In regards to the above link, I’m calling BS until I see more about it, and this post should explain why I feel that way. I’m far more likely to believe that the account was compromised by some manner of social engineering (be it a Blizzard look-alike phishing site, an irl “friend” theft, a shared account, or some other manner – any and all of which involve user error) than I am to believe that one of the most widely-considered secure systems in the world, used by banks, casinos, credit bureaus, government agencies, and high-profile data security firms has been circumvented by Chinese wow hackers to be used for in-game gold theft rather than, say, nearly any other possible use of such technology/cracking ability. I just don’t buy it. Read on, and be informed.
How the Blizzard Authenticator works, and why it improves security.
The Blizzard Authenticators are once again in stock!
On 26/06/08, Blizzard announced the Blizzard Authenticator, a device that provides your WoW account with an extra layer of security. They sell this device in their Blizzard Store for $6.50. You may consider buying it, but is the extra security really worth the money? How much more secure does it make your account? This post will explain how this device works, and exactly why it makes your account more secure.
===How the authenticator works===
The Blizzard Authenticator is a token that you can put for example on your keychain. It has a little display that, once your press the button will generate a 6-digit number that changes every minute.
This number is used as a 1-time password. This means the password is only valid once. When you use it to log in, the code becomes invalid and any hacker trying to access your account later with the same number won’t be able to log in.
A hacker wanting to access your account will now, in addition to keylogging your username and password, have to physically break into your house and steal the authenticator to see what number it displays. But hackers are clever people. Isn’t there any way for them to know which number the authenticator is going to display? The answer is no, and here’s why.
Every authenticator has a little built-in clock. This clock keeps track of the number of seconds since, for example the WoW release date, Tigole’s birthday or whenever. Each authenticator also has a unique key, which it uses to encrypt this number of seconds into what looks like a completely random number. There is no way, without knowing the encryption key, to guess what number is going to be displayed at any point in time. Even if the hacker has all the numbers you entered before, he can’t extrapolate that into what number will be showing next.
The hacker also can’t hack into the device itself to find out it’s key, because it doesn’t connect to the computer in any way. Even if the hacker were the mailman who delivered the authenticator to your house, he would have to open it up and extract the hardware that contained the key. These devices are generally tamper-resistant and will purge themselves when opened.
So, if the hacker can’t know your 1-time password, how is Blizzard going to know? The difference is, Blizzard has the key for every authenticator they made. When you log in, blizzard looks up which authenticator is associated with your account, and finds the matching key. They then use this key to decrypt the number you entered into the number of seconds the authenticator has been counting. They then verify that this number matches the current time.
Even if the time on your authenticator doesn’t exactly match the time on blizzard’s server, they still allow you to log in within a minute or so of the defined time, just in case the clock in your authenticator is running a little slower or faster than normal. This still does not allow hackers to use the number from a minute ago, because when you log in successfully, that number is then disabled and prevented from being used again.
If you still think someone may eventually find a way around it, this security measure is used by businesses and government agencies around the world to provide security, and they have a lot more sensitive information to guard than the login information to a WoW account. One of my good friends, who is a VIP services lead at Mohegan Sun, saw me log in once and went “wow, *I* use one of those to get into secure areas at work.” This is a tested method that has proven itself to be secure.
===Is existing security not already enough?===
While the authenticator provides an extra security layer strong enough to make your account virtually unhacklable, you can already secure your computer a lot. Is the authenticator really needed?
If you’re running Firefox with Noscript, Flashblock, adblockers, 5 different virus and spyware scanners, a NAT router with it’s ports strictly regulated, using Linux/MacOS X or another operating system, and other security measures I can’t think of at the moment, you are probably really secure. The danger is hackers finding a new way to enter your system that isn’t being guarded yet. Until the vulnerability is patched, or instructions to disable the exploited software are issued, you could potentially get infected with a virus or other malicious software during that short time. The more security measures you take, the lower the chance you will be vulnerable. But security is an ever-changing thing. You have to keep things up-to-date constantly in order to stay secure.
Using an authenticator is completely optional, but it does solve the problem by taking another approach. Instead of preventing keyloggers from getting onto your system, it makes you virtually immune to them. They can try, but with a login code that is always changing logging your keystrokes won’t be any good.
If you wish to better secure your system without buying an authenticator, instructions are given in stickies on the WoW forums, links to which are provided at the end of this post.
Then there is the issue of cost. Blizzard is offering these for $6.50, but should they? It would be a lot better if they provided them for free right? Well, I doubt Blizzard is making money on these. The manufacturing and distribution of these tokens costs them money, and $6.50 is actually pretty cheap. Market prices for these devices can be around $50.
I myself have been playing for over five years, so that’s roughly $900 this game has cost me already, and I’m not even counting the money I payed for the original game and the expansions (or my second account, or name changes, or transfers). I’m not going to mind another $6.50, especially since it provides me the peace of mind of never risking account theft. I purchased one the day I took Guild Leader, because the security and safety of my guild is far, far more important to me than $6.50 or the three seconds extra it takes me to log in every day.
As an aside, there are to date no known account hacks1 to an authenticator-enabled account. There’s really no reason not to have one.
If you wish to learn more about this authentication technology, most of the information for this post was obtained from the Security Now podcast. All episodes are freely available for download on http://www.grc.com/securitynow.htm. Transcripts are also available. The particular episode that deals with the authenticator technology is #90: Multifactor Authentication, the part which covers some of the information above starting 20 minutes into the episode.
More information about the Blizzard Authenticator:
Support page: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24986]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24986
FAQ page: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24660]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24660
Activating your authenticator: http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24987]http://us.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_US&articleId=24987
Links for securing your system against keyloggers (no authenticator required):
Protect your PC guide: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=273198555]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=273198555
Avoid getting hacked: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=102690401]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=102690401
Account security: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=35983697]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=35983697
How to recover a compromised account: http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=17191745]http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=17191745
*this post shamelessly stolen/paraphrased from Ysgarth. (I’d link directly, but I honestly lost the original)
Not only does having an authenticator save you trouble, it saves your guild leader trouble. You see, every time a member gets hacked, each of their toons steals items/money/whatever they can get from the gbank. When the hacked accountholder goes through their restoration process, GMs only help with THEIR account. The gbank is considered to be an extension of the Guild Leader’s account/responsibility, and as a result, *they* have to put in a ticket, too. This makes GLs like me die the little death every time. Don’t make us pay for your negligence!
1Again, a unsubstantiated report arises now and then, as I mention above. Until I see an official report from Blizzard or some tech industry standard saying keyfobs aren’t as secure as we thought, I don’t buy it – the science just isn’t there. Most importantly, though, it is still important to remember that although authenticators do, to the best of our knowledge, make your account hack-proof, they do not, in fact, make them doing dumb stuff-proof. In order to have your authenticated account compromised, you have to fall for a phishing/fake site; you have to give your account info/keyfob/unused current number out to someone; you have to be gullible enough to do exactly what Blizzard has said to never do – NEVER GIVE OUT YOUR INFO. Never! Don’t enter your account info into a linked site, ever. Go to what you know to be the real login site, always. Don’t tell anyone your account name, your password, your keyfob serial number, anything.
I’ll repeat – never trust another player, and never trust a link. Ever.
And get an authenticator.