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Category Archives: Patch Notes

Overlooked Features: Professions Window

With so much being thrown at us at once it’s no wonder that some changes have gone unnoticed. I already mentioned a few of those changes last week a few weeks ago, but today we’re going to take a close look at one overlooked feature in particular – the Professions Window.

I don’t remember what all was said in the patch notes and such regarding the professions window, but I’m pretty sure that out of all of the changes this one most likely wasn’t at the top of your list for things to pay attention to. If you’ve done anything with your professions (and you don’t use an addon to replace the built in window) then you know just from looking at it that there are some new features there.

I’m going to mention a couple of them here, and if you’ve noticed any other new features your self feel free to share them with us in the comments.

Commonly Known Features
The most commonly known and recognized features of the new professions window are the two new buttons up at the top right corner.

The first (top) of those new buttons allows you to link your profession to any channel that you’re currently a part of, including ones like Party and Raid chat, and it also allows you to put in a few words of text either before or after the link in case you’re advertising for business in Trade chat or the like. I’ve used macros for this for a long time so this particular feature didn’t really give me anything new, but it did allow me to delete those macros to make more room for others.

The second button in that corner is the filter button. It allows you to filter your recipes to show only the ones that meet the criteria that you specify. You can have it show only the ones that you’re carrying the mats for right now or you can have it show you only the ones that have a chance to give you a skill point when you make it. You can also sort by equipment slots, item types, and so on depending on which profession you’re looking at.

I really like the filter feature because I’m a pretty serious professions power leveler; As soon as my toons reach the right character level to train the next skill level of their professions I learn it and then power level the profession back to the top again. This feature allows me to skip over all of the useless recipes that I can’t skill up on and only look at what’s available. It also helps me find gear upgrades for specific slots in Leatherworking and Blacksmithing where before my best filters were strictly armor type (cloth, leather, mail, plate) where I needed more specific (plate chest, mail legs, etc).

Overlooked Features
There’s also another component of the new professions window that’s overlooked, or perhaps misunderstood, and that’s the search window. At the very top of the professions window, spreading across the center, is a search box that you can type in to narrow down a search. That’s easy enough to understand, and something you’ve likely already had access to if you’ve used professions addons before.

But that’s not the only thing that search window can do. The addon that I used before 4.0 had a search feature, but it only looked at the names. It saved me a lot of time, especially with Enchanting which was such a beast to sort through otherwise, but names don’t always cut it. This new search window doesn’t just look at the name, it looks at everything. By “everything” I mean it looks at the name, the mats, and the stats or abilities.

Search Window: Stats
Take a look at Enchanting. What if someone asks you, “What enchants do you have that give Agility?” Can you answer that one? Do you know which enchants they are and which equipment slots they go to? Do you know the names of all of them? Enchanting doesn’t hold a strict naming convention, nor does it hold to equipment slots; heck, enchanting doesn’t even stay consistent in which enchants progress across level ranges and which do not. Not every enchant that grants Agility actually has the word Agility in their name. Some have words you could associate with it, like Stealth, but others don’t and might not catch your eye if you’re just scrolling through looking for a specific stat. Mongoose gives Agility, Crusader gives Strength, Ice Walker gives Crit, but the names themselves don’t tell you that if you’re not familiar with the profession.

How about if you’re looking for crafted gear for your freshly dinged level 85 tank. It’s a lot easier to find gear you need if you put Dodge or Parry into the search box. For a Healer, you might want to search for Spirit, Intellect, or Spell Power instead. Caster DPS might be more interested in Critical Strike Rating, or perhaps they’re short on Hit or looking for Haste. Melee DPS might need more Expertise. If you’re getting ready for some PvP it might be a good idea to hit up the local crafters and search for Resilience, or “speed” if you’re looking for new enchants with a speed bonus but don’t know the names for all of the new ones.

The search feature is fantastic for finding specific stats on gear, enchants, and gems because it looks at more than just the name.

Search Window: Materials
If you have a lot of mats sitting around in your bank or spread across your alts, it helps to know what you can do with them. One of your options is to use the built in filter to show only the recipes you have the mats for. While that feature is handy it’s not entirely accurate for getting rid of mats if you don’t have all of the mats on hand, for instance there may be a vendor item you don’t have on hand, or maybe it requires you to craft one other item that you have mats for but haven’t made yet (the wires and settings and such for JC is a good example).

If you use the search feature instead though, then you can see every recipe that uses that particular material. You can also use both a search and a filter at the same time to find an even more focused result, but again the filters like “have mats” or “gives skill ups” will remove recipes that do not fit those categories.

Using the search for a mat allows you to go down your list and see what other mats you might be missing to get rid of some of your stock so that you can either craft items to put on the AH, give/sell to other players, craft to disenchant, or whatever else it is you feel like making. It can also help you decide to get rid of the mats themselves if you see that it only goes into recipes you’re never going to use or ones that are great for leveling and could bring in a lot of profit if you sold the mats raw instead of trying to craft with them. It might also open your eyes to the fact that you don’t even have the recipe that the mat is used for.

If someone in your guild sends a message out to gchat saying, “Hey, can anybody do anything with [random mat]?” You can shift-click that while you have your professions window open to see what all you can make with it and then link the items back if they want something made for them, or if they’re just looking to give it to someone that can do something with it then you’ll know whether or not you can. Remember, mats are rarely restricted to being used in only a single profession, so doing a quick search might even reveal a mat that you didn’t realize (or forgot) that you could use.

Drawbacks
There’s only one drawback I’ve seen to new professions windows so far and it’s really just a minor hassle that’s easy to get around. The problem with it is that it takes priority of your shift-clicks. So if you have the window open at your bank and you want to break one of your stacks of mats in the bank because you know you only need 2-3 of them to craft something and you go to shift-click the stack to take a smaller portion it’s always going to assume you really meant to use the search feature with that shift-click instead. So you can’t break stacks into smaller stacks while you have the professions window open, but all you have to do is close it and then break your stacks as you please, then open it again when you’re ready to craft.

That’s really the only drawback I’ve seen with the new windows. I have experienced a few glitches when using filters where the filter gets applied, then I make something, and then the filter glitches or something and several other recipes pop up in the window (sometimes all of them) even though it shows the filter still in place. But that’s not a drawback so much as it’s just a bug in the system thanks to the expansion.

 
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Posted by on December 29, 2010 in Guide, Patch Notes, Professions

 

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More Overlooked Changes

I mentioned a few things last week that people might have missed due to the lack of patch notes mentioning the changes. But, because they weren’t in the patch notes there was no telling whether or not the list was complete (though you could pretty well count on some things being missed).

I had three things that I was going to bring up today that were missed changes, but I see that I’ve actually covered two of them in the previous post, so I guess you really only get one that’s new. I’ll go over one of the two I mentioned last week just because I have some examples, and then I’ll talk about the new one.

Update: Rare Mobs
I did a little hunting this weekend for rare spawns to see whether or not the increased experience rewards for rare spawns was a fluke or if it was spread across the board to all rares. I started off by going to a few locations of rares that I knew were almost always available, and as luck would have it I didn’t find a flipping one.

So I put the hunt on hold for a bit and went to level my Priest a bit. And just as I started questing with her guess who she stumbled on…yep, rare spawn. I killed a regular level 24 mob nearby and got around 150 experience for killing it. Then I killed the level 24 rare spawn and got 2,100 experience for killing it. I queued for a random dungeon and just before the queue popped I found another rare, so I killed him for another 2,250 exp. I went to the dungeon, found it was SM:Graveyard and what do you know, rare spawn. So we killed him too and got more experience from his kill than we did either of the bosses.

As far as calculations go I haven’t found what the number actually is. For the ones I’ve killed it’s been roughly 15x as much as normal mobs.

There’s something else I’ve noticed about rare spawns as well. Every one that I’ve killed that was below level 15 has dropped a bag. I’ve found 6, 8, and 10 slot bags from them, and every single one has dropped a bag for me. So if you’re rolling on a new server where you don’t have any resources be sure to kill any rare spawns you see for some extra bag space early on. The level 15-24 rares I’ve killed all dropped white shoulders for me, and all 28-36 rares I’ve found have dropped random greens (other than the ones in dungeons which dropped BoP blues).

Cost of Respecialization
Here’s the one you might not have stumbled onto, especially since we all got free talent resets when the 4.x patches were released and we switched to the 31 point trees.

The cost of a respec is now tied to your level rather than the number of times you’ve done it. If you’re leveling a new toon and want to try out a new spec and then find you don’t care for it, you can respec early on for a handful of silver. Resetting the talent points on a level 13 character cost me 11s and some change. Doing it again at level 18 cost me 16s.

I haven’t done as much testing here as I suppose I probably should have. There may still be some kind of additional cost for multiple respecs, but doing it twice on my priest within just a few levels showed no significant increase. Granted, she was only in her teens so it may have been skewed if it’s based on a percentage increase, but you probably shouldn’t have to deal with respeccing enough times for it to matter with dual specs.

But if you’re leveling a toon and find you don’t care for the spec, don’t worry about throwing away “gold” to switch the spec and try something different because the costs are laughable at low levels anyway. I changed my Priest from Shadow to Disc because I was having some mana issues here and there and wanted to give Archangel a shot as Disc. What I found was that Smite healing in low levels sucks, bad. So I changed my spec and dropped the Evangelism/Archangel points and put them into other talents and found that my healing and questing had both improved. But Disc isn’t really what I want to do, so I pushed on to level 30 for a 10g dual spec to pick Shadow back up and have the Disc spec in reserve for dungeon queues.

[Edit: I also did a respec on a level 61'ish Death Knight a little over a week ago and his respec cost either just under or just over 1g. That's what got me started thinking about it, though I then promptly forgot again.]

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2010 in Guide, Patch Notes

 

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Overlooked Changes

Today we’re going to look at some of the things that have changed in the recent patches that not everyone knows about. Blizzard did an excellent job of leaving things out of the patch notes this time around and it’s been a bit of an interesting search trying to find them all.

I’m sure I don’t have all of the things that have gone unnoticed listed here, so I certainly welcome your input on anything else you may have noticed that others seem to have missed, or which did not appear in any of the patch notes.

Mailboxes in Starting Zones
In case you aren’t aware, every starting zone now has a mailbox in it. I’ve seen a lot of people talking about their plans to roll new alts which include running to the next town to get their bags, gold and gear – but you don’t have to.

All of the mailboxes are pretty close to right where you load after creating the character. If you start a little ways off from where the first quest-hub is then that’s where you want to look as it’s generally right beside the main building in the first hub.

Generalized Professions Trainers
In those second towns that you used to have to go to in order to find your first mailbox, you’ll now find a new type of NPC called a Professions Trainer. They’re almost always located right beside the Trade Goods vendor if you need to know where to look.

These NPC’s allow you to ask about any of the actual professions, not tradeskills, to get a general idea of what they do and how they work. After asking about a specific profession you’ll also be able to train that profession from the NPC.

The good news is, you can no get started on any profession you want without having to hunt down your trainers in specific cities (looking at you, JC trainers). The bad news is, they can only train you up to skill level 75, and they will not train you in the next level of the profession. In order to progress you’ll have to find a trainer specific to your profession.

Dual Specialization and Class Trainers
You can now purchase a dual spec at level 30 (down from 40) and it now costs only 10g (down from 100g in beta, down from 1,000g in 3.5). You still get it from your class trainer, so if you need to know where to buy it just ask a guard for the nearest trainer.

You can also find class trainers for every class in all of your faction’s major cities. The one class that might be an exception to that is the Death Knight, and the only reason I don’t know is because I haven’t thought about looking. Having a portal directly to my trainers kind of removes the need for me to care about where else I can find them in the world.

Battlegrounds and Dungeons
Battlegrounds are now split up into level ranges of 5 rather than 10, so level 10-14 and 15-19 are two separate brackets now and so on up the level range, with 85 being in its own.

You can also queue for some battlegrounds at lower levels than you used to. I did a post on that earlier this week, so if you want the details on that you can read about them here.

That post also includes the new level ranges for the 1-60 dungeons. Most of them stayed the same or at least pretty close to what they were before, but others made some fairly significant changes. See Stratholme and Scholomance for some big eye-openers.

Alliance and Horde Racial Tabards
You can now purchase tabards for each of the 6 races of your faction, including the Goblin and Worgen that aren’t playable yet (for 5 more days, woot!). These tabards give you reputation for killing mobs inside dungeons – all mobs, in all dungeons, at all levels.

You can purchase the tabards in the major cities from vendors you’ll find near or next-to the flight master. Here’s a reference for where you need to go to buy each one:

Stormwind: Humans
Ironforge: Dwarves and Gnomes
Darnassus: Night Elves and Worgen
Exodar: Draenei

Orgrimmar: Orc, Troll, Goblin
Undercity: Undead
Thunderbluff: Tauren
Silvermoon City: Blood Elves

You get the most reputation from running dungeons of your own level, though it is possible to grind rep from dungeons both above or below your level as well.

If you start wearing a tabard and 15 and chain some random dungeons you should become Exalted after about 10 dungeons worth.

[Edit: One more thing about the tabard vendors - They're all riding the racial mount. So if you're heading to the flight master in SW and see an NPC on a horse that wasn't there before, he's likely the tabard vendor. If you go up to the flight master in Org and you see a Troll on a raptor next to an Orc on a wolf next to a Goblin in a tryke - you've just found the tabard vendors.]

Rare Spawns Give HUGE Experience
Thanks to my buddy @Etherjammer on twitter, it appears that Rare Spawns now give you about 15x as much experience as a normal mob of the same level when you kill them. So that’s roughly the value of a quest or two. I haven’t seen anything official on rare spawns, so maybe there’s a formula or maybe certain ones just have certain values or something. I’m not sure what’s going on in particular, but it’s safe to say that if you see a rare spawn – kill it. Or tame it, maybe, if you’re a hunter, but in general – kill it.

Guild Professions Lists
I still see people asking around for links from certain guild members, or asking if anybody has Profession A and so on. If you pull up your guild window you can select “Professions” from the dropdown box up at the top and then view the professions and recipes of everyone in the guild. There’s a checkbox in the bottom-left corner of the guild window that lets you toggle online and offline players, so you can even see the professions of people that aren’t currently logged in.

The new professions windows also allow you to search. Typing words into the professions search window will bring up any items in that profession that contain the word(s) either in the title or in the description. You can also do a search by materials. For instance, if you can’t remember the exact name for that special twink/BoA strength enchant, but you do remember that it uses Righteous Orbs, then you can type “righteous orb” into the search window and it will pull up the Crusader enchant if the person knows it.

If you do a search and don’t get any results then you can repeat that search for the rest of the guild members listed as having that profession. I’m told there’s supposed to be a way to do a guild-wide search with the professions windows, but I haven’t gotten it to work yet so I don’t know if it’s just broken or if it’s not really implemented. But either way it’s not working for me right now.

Dungeon Quests
In running random dungeons I still have people asking the party to share quests. As far as I’m aware, all of the dungeon quests that require you to actually be inside the dungeon are given to you inside the dungeon itself. So if you zone into the entrance of a dungeon and there aren’t any quests for you to get, it’s because you’ve already done them all or you aren’t eligible for them.

There are still some quests that send you to the area where the dungeon is found that still get listed as being in or from that dungeon, but they’re completed outside of it so sharing them would do you no good anyway. If someone drops group in the middle of the dungeon and another person comes in to replace them, then you do want to share with that person since they zone in next to you instead of at the entrance where the quest givers are located.

The slight exception to this rule is found in the next section.

Class Quests
The old class quests are gone, but there are new class quests available to take their place. The first of these quests is available at level 20 and from what I’ve seen they all involve going to SFK to get certain items. The reward for all of these that I’ve seen on my own toons so far is a weapon or off-hand item.

There is at least one other class quest that you get like this that requires a higher level, but I’ve only found it so far on my 80 Mage so I’m not positive what the level requirement is.

The class quests come from your class trainers in the major cities. I’m not sure if you can get the quests for trainers found in other locations or not.

Flight Paths [Edit: Added]
My thanks to @Christman for reminding me about the flight paths. There are now Flight Masters/Paths in all of those 2nd towns I mentioned above (examples: Sin’jin Village, Razor Hill, Kharanos, Goldshire, Bloodhoof Village, etc).

You can also see all of the flight paths on your map now, for both factions. In order to see them you have to have either explored the part of the map that those flight paths are located in, or have an addon that removes the unexplored effect from your map.

I use the Mapster addon which shows me the full map and allows me to put a transparent, colored “fog” over the sections that I haven’t actually explored yet. So I’m able to see the full map, including flight paths for both factions, at all times and I have a green colored fog that hangs over portions I haven’t explored yet so that I can track that as well.

Reduced Cost: Respecialization [Edit: Added]
Another thing I just remembered is that the cost to respec has been changed. It’s not longer a set amount that increases each time you do it, the cost is now based on your character’s level.

I haven’t done it enough or on a broad enough level range to figure out what calculation they might be using for it, but I did a respec on a level 13 Priest and it cost me 11s and some change.

 

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New Level Ranges: Dungeons and Battlegrounds

There have been a lot of changes with the 4.x patches, and with so many changes it’s often easy to overlook some them. Recently my wife has decided to level a Hunter and in our quest to get her some good one-handed weapons from dungeons we found out that the level requirements for one of them in particular (RFK) had changed.

That led me on a quest to find out which dungeons had changed their level requirements on us, and I happened to stumble onto such a list this morning. A lot of them stayed the same, or at least close enough that it doesn’t really make that much of a difference, while others took on pretty big changes.

And remember, the racial tabards are available to all of your toons. So if you’re going to do a lot of random dungeons then you might as well slap on a tabard and get your reputation and Ambassador achievements early on. It only takes about 10 dungeons in your level range to get from Neutral to Exalted with each race.

Instance Name Level Range Minimum
Level
The Deadmines 15-21 10
Ragefire Chasm 15-21 10
Wailing Caverns 15-25 10
Shadowfang Keep 16-26 11
Stormwind Stockade 20-30 15
Blackfathom Deeps 20-30 15
Gnomeregan 24-34 19
The Scarlet Monastery – Graveyard 26-36 21
The Scarlet Monastery – Library 29-39 21
The Scarlet Monastery – Armory 32-42 21
The Scarlet Monastery – Cathedral 35-45 21
Razorfen Kraul 30-40 25
Maraudon – Purple Crystals 30-40 25
Maraudon – Orange Crystals 32-42 25
Maraudon – Pristine Waters 34-44 25
Uldaman 35-45 30
Dire Maul – East 36-46 31
Scholomance 38-48 33
Dire Maul – West 39-49 34
Razorfen Downs 40-50 35
Dire Maul – North 42-52 37
Stratholme – Main Gate 42-52 37
Zul’farrak 44-54 39
Stratholme – Service Entrance 46-56 37
Blackrock Depths – Prison 47-57 42
Blackrock Depths – Upper City 51-61 42
The Sunken Temple 50-60 45
Lower Blackrock Spire 55-65 48
Upper Blackrock Spire 55-65 48

Most of the low level dungeons didn’t change a whole lot, though we did see a small drop in Gnomeregan’s level. The most surprising one to me was Razorfen Kraul which jumped up to a level 30-40 instance which pushed it’s companion instance, Razorfen Downs, up to a level 40-50 instance. I’m not sure what the reasoning was for those changes unless they just felt there weren’t enough options in those brackets.

As we push on into the mid-level range of vanilla instances we also see a drop in Marauden’s level as well as Dire Maul. One of the most surprising changes of all for me was seeing Scholomance as 38-48 when that was always one of the top instances in vanilla to me.

Moving on to the later levels we see much of the same, though several off them got slight modifications to level ranges. Stratholme dropped a few levels which makes me really happy as I actually have a chance of getting it in my random queues while leveling now. Blackrock Depths jumps up a bit as does Sunken Temple, and Upper and Lower Blackrock Spire cap us off as the highest level dungeons.

Most of these changes don’t mean a whole lot for leveling your toons except that you’ll see a few new faces while leveling if you’re a fan of LFG (like me). If you also share my love of hunting down specific pieces of gear while you level though, then you might see some familiar pieces now have either higher or lower level requirements in addition to having their stats changed.

And here’s a heads up for those of you who do like to hunt down those specific gear upgrades via LFG – the Wowhead database isn’t fully up to date yet, so some items you find there that note a specific level requirement or certain stats on their website aren’t necessarily what the item actually has in the game. Most of it is right, but I’ve found a few that aren’t. Or rather, I found a few that weren’t when I got them. Wowhead gets their data pretty fast, but after a major patch with significant overhauls some things might be off here and there.

Battleground Minimum
Level
Warsong Gulch 10
Arathi Basin 10
Eye of the Storm 35
Alterac Valley 45
Strand of the Ancients 65
Isle of Conquest 75
Battle for Gilneas 85
Twin Peaks 85

The other thing I wanted to mention for today’s post is the changes to battlegrounds. As Cynwise mentioned yesterday, the battleground brackets have now been cut in half, so that level x0-x4 toons will find themselves grouped together while x5-x9 toons will be grouped similarly. So you’ll see a lot more balance (generally speaking) in battlegrounds as the level ranges are chopped in half.

The other change you’ll see is that some battlegrounds are now opened to lower level brackets than they were previously. My favorite change here is opening Arathi Basin to the level 10 bracket. By the time I had started playing and had a desire to PvP for fun rather than a way of life, the level requirements for mounts had already been dropped enough that AB always had mounts in it. I didn’t get to experience it without mounts until this change and I absolutely love it.

Eye of the Storm drops down to level 35 which will be a welcome change to some. I have a personal hatred for this battleground, but maybe allowing people to get more practice with it from a lower level will make it suck less…maybe.

Alterac Valley opens up at level 45 which is another change I very much look forward to. AV is a great source of both experience and honor, and it’s just plain fun to participate in as well. AV is another one of my favorites because of how the map is laid out and how it works.

Strand of the Ancients opening up to level 65 toons means I can effectively flip half of the Outlands the bird while I farm Mining and Herb nodes for experience in between SotA queues for even more experience. Outlands is getting old where I used to enjoy it quite a bit, but now I’ll likely stay in Azeroth until level 60-62 and then finish up parts of Hellfire or Zangar Marsh to get the other few levels I need to queue for SotA before moving on to Northrend.

 
 

Some Problems with Real ID

Real ID, the topic of discussion all over the blogosphere right now. We’re going to talk about it again today, because I feel like talking about it again. Today though, we’re going to look at the problems with Real ID. More specifically we’re going to look at the problems with Real ID and we’re going to look at the “problems” with Real ID.

I don’t think that any of the problems or the “problems” with Real ID are real, honest to goodness Problems with Real ID. Most of them are problems with people having different levels of personal (in)security, or people simply having different desires for how and when to use it. I’ll get into the specifics on that further down. I’m going to talk about some issues that people have brought up that I feel are valid, and I’m going to bring up some issues that I find ridiculous and why. In this post you’ll get a full serving of Psynister’s Opinion, as what I write here is nothing my that my own thoughts and feelings on the issues that are brought up. For each problem I’m offering a solution. If you don’t agree with the solution then feel free to let me know why. If you have other solutions to add, then please share them with us in the comments.

Your DBM addon might be sending you warnings right now, but just ignore the big bad wolf’s advice to run away, it’s just letting you know that Psynister is about to cast Wall of Text in 3…2…1…

Psynister Psychology
I ask that while (if) you read this, regardless of whether you support or reject Real ID, that you read with an intention of understanding rather than an intention to respond.

As this is an issue that puts some people on the defensive the two reactions of human nature are to either reject it by going on the defensive with blinders on or to run away from it. If you’re feeling insecure or defensive, please try to take the time to read and try to understand what I’m saying. Don’t take it as an attack on your beliefs or your feelings, take it as me trying to help explain something you don’t understand or don’t fully see even if you feel that you do. If you read it, think about it, and still disagree or think I’ve misunderstood, then please let me know in your comments. We can’t progress if neither of us understands the other.

If you support Real ID and feel that the people against it are just a bunch of whiny little babies, then I suggest you do the same thing. Take the time to try to understand the reason for the person feeling that way. It’s not always going to work for you, but I’m just asking that you take the time and make the effort to understand their real problem before you just dismiss it. While defensive people can be blinded by their fears or insecurities, the aggressive people often feel that they’re free to brush aside everyone’s concerns like they’re meaningless. Just because I feel safe and secure in giving everyone my name and email address doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for harm in doing so. Don’t just dismiss things, read with intent to understand not with the intent to respond.



Problem: No Invisibility Mode
Of every argument I’ve seen against Real ID, this one is one of the most valid. A lot of players, perhaps even the majority of them, like to be able to play at times to just get away from everything and everyone for a little while and just do their own thing. They like to log in and go play on some other server where they don’t know anybody and just do whatever they want without having to deal with guilds or friends or anything else.

My wife does it, Arrens does it, and a lot of other players do to. People like being able to play the game now and then just for the sake of playing the game and not being bothered. I don’t blame them a bit.

I say it’s a valid point because it directly impacts your playing experience. If you can’t log in and have a break from the noise now and then, and you’re the type of person that needs those breaks, then you may not enjoy playing as much because you can’t just get away from people while still playing. You’re playing the game to get away, to relax, to not be bothered, and having people be able to whisper you wherever you are is draining and annoying, it interrupts that down time.

Solution: This feature doesn’t exist, so we have to either not use Real ID, deal with the loss of alone time, or find a way around it. The work around is simple, but it’s not going to appeal to everyone. If you want to have your invisibility mode the first thing you need to do is turn off all of those notifications in the Real ID options. I talked about how to do all of that in yesterday’s post, The Real (ID) Story. By turning off those options you will not be interrupted by people logging in and out, and you will not see their broadcast messages. The only thing you will see are Real ID whispers, which we’ll to address next.

Next up, you need to set your status to Busy or Away so that your Real ID friends see the flag and know something’s up. They’re yellow and red spheres against a grey-blue background which is going to stick out. If they see it then they should know you’re not sitting there ready and waiting for conversation.

Finally, you need to set your Broadcast message to something similar to this: Need some down time, please DND. Your broadcast message is shown to anybody who you’re Real ID friends with when they see your name in their list. By putting that message up you’re letting everyone know that you want some alone time for a bit and don’t want to be disturbed. Your real friends are going to honor that and leave you alone. The annoying people you clearly don’t want bothering you all the times are going to ignore it, and as such should be removed from your list.

The reason this isn’t going to appeal to everyone is pretty nicely summed up by Kurn’s Thoughts on Real ID. You may also be in a situation similar to Tartdarling’s where your friends are the type of people that just like to bug you all the time in the names of fun and love. If you’re in Kurn’s position then it’s going to be hard and this solution might not work for you. If you’re in Tart’s position, well you’re probably the one that started it all anyway so you’ll just have to deal with it.

Problem: Real Name Visibility
This problem is such a multi-layered beast that it’s really hard to talk about without either going too light or to heavy on the subject. It’s like twelve problems all wrapped up into one because they’re all the same problem, yet it’s a problem for various reasons that apply to some but not others. I’m going to summarize it though and break it down into just two groups.

First, we have the people that just don’t want others to know their real names. The motivations for this are almost endless. Some people have names that they’re embarrassed of or they don’t like their given first name and go by another name instead. Some people like to play the role of their character or their persona that isn’t them, such as men who play female toons or who socialize as females, and they don’t like having that broken. The person might be insecure about who they are but who find security by having a sort of second life that they can live through their characters. Others are important people in some form or fashion and don’t want to have their real name linked to their in game persona. Basically, for one reason or another they wish they could hide their name because they’re uncomfortable with people (all people) seeing it.

The second group is made of those that like to immerse themselves into their characters as well as the game. They aren’t just a player, they are their toons. They don’t want to be known by their real names, they want to be known by their character names. You can take a look at Chawa’s Post for an example of that one.

As someone who plays on multiple servers and also has a twitter/blogging presence I understand this one a lot. It doesn’t bother me, but I do understand it. On my original server I was known as Psyn or Psynister, but on the following server I was known as Lex (Lexington), yet on my current server I’m known as Bel or Bels (Belsynis). On twitter and in blogs I’m again Psynister or Psyn. On the one side I like that separation because it helps me keep things straight, but on the other hand it’s easier if people everywhere just know me as Jason so they don’t get confused when a Psyn friend talks to a Bels friend.

Solution: The solution here is hard because of the complexity and diversity of the problem. The first thing you need to do is be realistic about what’s really out there. A name is just a name, even if it’s your name. Without any other information tying that name to you as a person it means nothing. Jason Griffith, who’s that? Well, it’s me but it’s not necessarily me. Even if it’s a unique name it’s still just a name. Dragon McKinsey, who’s that? Is it a boy or a girl? I know who it is (and also that I completely butchered the spelling), but do you? Britney Spears, know that one? You might think you do, but is it really the one you think it is? Daniel P. Howell, know that guy? Well you might think that’s a fellow known in WoW as BRK, but without any further information you don’t know that for sure.

If you’re one that’s uncomfortable for reasons like always playing female toons so I think you’re a female when actually you’re not and your real name is Richard Pelowski, then I can only tell you so much about that one. If you don’t want people to know then you either need to lie and say that it’s your dad/boyfriend/brother/son/whatever’s name since they set the account up for you, or you need to consider what it’s going to mean for people to know. If you’ve got some in-game relationships going on and they don’t know it then maybe you’ve got an issue on your hands, but if that’s the case then it’s really about time for a little honesty anyway in my opinion. But, that’s my opinion.

If you’re in a position like Chawa there, well it’s another hard answer because it’s going to vary. For the most part, if you’ve been playing with someone for a long time then the name they associate with you is the name they’re going to call you by. I’ve got a buddy who names all his characters Night-something or something-night, but his real name is Chris. I knew his real name long before Real ID came about, but I don’t call him Chris, I call him Night. I’ve got a buddy I went to college with before I even started playing WoW, I don’t call him by his character name of Kaladar, I call him by his real name because that’s who he’s always been to me.

Generally speaking, most people are going to call you by the name they’ve called you by the longest. Not to mention there are a ton of Jason’s in the world and probably on your friend’s list, but you probably don’t have a lot of friends known as Psynister, so it’s easier to call me by the character name anyway for confusion’s sake.

And yes, people can Google a name and find out other information like addresses and phone numbers, but without any other information than your name there’s nothing to link it to you. And in case you aren’t aware, you can have your address and phone removed from phone books and sights that replicate their data.

Problem: Account Security
Account Security is either a big deal or it’s not, depending on how you handle things on your own end. The problem is that your email address is required for Real ID to work, yet your email address is the user name you have to log into WoW with. By default there are only two things you need to get into your account, a user name and a password. By using Real ID you’re giving one of those up so someone only needs your password in order to hack your account.

Solution: The first thing I want to point out is that Blizzard has said in giving us this tool that it’s meant to be used with those people who you know and trust. If you don’t trust someone, then don’t give them your Real ID information. If you hesitate on that point then you need to ask yourself whether or not you feel like you know them well enough to trust them not to hack into your account (or if they’re skilled enough with a computer to do it in the first place).

You should also be taking other steps to ensure your account security in the first place. The best thing you can do for yourself as far as protecting your WoW account goes is to get an Authenticator. You can buy them from Blizzard for about $7 USD, you can get the app for free if you have an iPhone, or you can get the app for a Droid for about $2.50 USD if it’s not already free by now anyway. While not completely flawless in security terms, it’s about as close as you can get.

Whether you have an authenticator or not you should be running virus protection software and doing regular scans on your computer as well. The only way to beat an authenticator is with a virus. The best way to beat that virus is to find it and remove it before it can do you any harm.

Next up is your password. Don’t ever use a simple password like “qwerty”. It might be hard to remember a big password sometimes, but that’s really the point. Don’t just use letters and numbers in it either, use some special characters too. And make sure it’s got some length to it because every individual character in your password makes it multiplicatively harder to figure out with a program. The longer it is, the better it is. And don’t hesitate to change the password every now and then as well.

The big thing here is, if Blizzard didn’t feel that your account was safe enough that you could give out your email address and still be secure, then they wouldn’t have used it as the identifier in the first place.

Problem: No Nicknames
This is the most common suggestion I’ve seen from people to replace the real names on the accounts. A lot of people said they would use Real ID if they could just hide their real names with a nickname or a character name, of if they could use that nickname for their invitations instead of an email address.

The problem behind using nicknames is that there’s no validity in them. Anybody can use any nickname they want to. If you decide to take over the nickname of Psynister before I can, then I’m locked out of the name because you beat me to it, but you could offer to be friends with people using a name that I’m largely known by. You could essentially steal my identity even if your main character in the game is named Psynister and just happens to be on a server that I don’t play on. We both have a claim to that name, but only one of us can have it.

The same is true of character names, even if you string it to a full definition of Name-Server-Faction-Region. It would work and be unique while I had the character, but if I ever delete the toon and someone else makes one with that name then they’ve taken over that identity and there’s nothing I can do about it.

The other suggestion is that we use the login names that we had before we all switched over to battle.net accounts that required email addresses. But that one doesn’t work either because there are players who joined after they stopped using those names and offered only the email login.

Solution: The solution here is the only solution that there can be, which is what Blizzard did. They used a unique identifier that cannot be duplicated in this environment, and that does not compromise your security as a real person. There cannot be two people in the world with the same email address, it is unique. Almost any other form of unique identification has the potential to compromise more than just your WoW account.

As a database administrator I can think of a few other ways they could have potentially identified users uniquely, but not having access to their tables I can only make assumptions. Theoretically, it could be done by another unique value, but then you would be known by that value rather than by your name. I’ll take people calling me Jason Griffith over being called “Player Number 123546815″ any day of the week, thank you. I’m not a flipping serial number.

Problem: Identity Theft
This one ties right back in to the real names issue that we’ve already discussed, so take a look up there for some of the other details. Let me be the first to tell you though, it takes more than just a name to steal someone’s identity. If you give out more information than just your name then you could potentially run the risk of having your identity stolen, but it’s not going to happen from your name alone or even your name and your email address.

If you put into place the other forms of security that I mentioned above (good passwords, virus protection, etc), then you’re already way ahead of game on identity theft. I’m not saying it isn’t possible and that it will never happen, but I am saying your chances of being the victim of IDT from Real ID are slim and that you can take precautions to make them even more so.

Solution: Use strong passwords, use virus protection software, don’t use all of the features of social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. Just because the site gives you a place to put your city and state doesn’t mean you have to fill them in. If you’re not comfortable with people knowing certain things about you, then don’t put them out on the internet or people can potentially find them if they’re really willing to put in the time and effort required to search for all of that. But remember, a name by itself is nothing more than a name, a couple of words matched together; without any further information there is nothing that ties that name to you as a person.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2010 in Patch Notes, Share Your Opinion

 

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