15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
So how have a year's time and a new expansion been treating our subjects? Some dove into Northrend with gusto. Many reported inspiring new developments and directions, stemming from the publicity they received here on 15 Minutes of Fame. Other players have stopped playing entirely.
We caught up with all but a handful of this year's interviewees for fresh updates. Click into our gallery, just below, to find out what they're doing today.
Welcome to Know Your Lore, where each week Alex Ziebart brings you a tasty little morsel of lore to wrap your mind around. Sweet, sweet lore. Mmmm. Have suggestions for future KYL topics? Leave a comment below! This week, the role of Alex Ziebart will be played by Matthew Rossi.
Hi. You may remember me from not finishing the KYL on Thrall. Well, since this week our Alex Ziebart has to take a small breather, I'm filling in for him as part of our "Hey, I finished that post you didn't so you owe me, and also the pictures are back from the developer and I'd hate to have to post them to the website" arrangement. Alex informed me as he handed over the package in that park, just before my trained snipers totally failed me, that this week would be discussing the Sons of Hodir from a lore perspective. Since until such time as Agent Deathwolf tracks him down and retrieves the microfilm I have no choice, that will be the topic of today's post.
Since I happen to be exalted twice with these guys, it seems a fair enough question to ask who they are and where they come from. So far, we have fragments of the story, but not the whole picture as yet. If it even needs to be said at this late point, I will be dropping spoilers for Storm Peaks quests like they were remarkably heavy antiques that you asked me to help you move into your new apartment on the 17th floor and I wanted to make sure you never asked again.
IBM exec: Games are great for employees - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 17:00:00 EST Hot on the heels of last week's news that employers are staying away from hiring WoW players comes this article from the BBC, quoting an IBM executive who says that gamers are actually exactly the kind of people you want on a team: David Laux, global executive in charge of games and interactive entertainment (wait, maybe that's why he's so keen on game players) says that casual games can improve memorization and the abilty to discern details, first person shooters can help with rapid decision making, and games like World of Warcraft can boost leadership skills. He says WoW specifically helps players learn how to work well on a team, assess risks, and put the group first to achieve a common goal.
Which is true -- if you're actually the one in charge of groups. I'm of the opinion that it's very possible to play a game like WoW and get a nice boost to your leadership skills (leading a guild is often a job in itself), but I think it's also very possible that you could play WoW and not get a thing out of it -- I know quite a few people I've grouped with that I'd never want to have sitting next to me in a real office.
The bottom line, as always, is somewhere inbetween the two opinions. If you're already interested in taking charge and being a leader, WoW is a great simlulation to let you do those things. And if you're already a lazy worker and interested in helping yourself more than whatever team you're on, WoW probably won't cure you of that (there are certainly plenty of selfish people running around the game every day). In short, if your hiring policies are based on whether or not someone plays videogames, you might want to reconsider them completely.
Totem Talk: 2008, a Shaman Odyssey - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 16:00:00 EST Right now, as I type this I'm imagining Conan O'Brien's old "In the Year 2000" bit, which they kept doing way past 2000. This really has nothing to do with the shaman class, except that it's funny to imagine an orc in Earthshatter holding a searing totem to his face and doing it. Hey, it's New Years, I was up late, you're going to have to accept that my already tenuous grip on reality is a trifle frayed today.
2008 was an interesting year for shamans. When we covered 2007 for shamans, the general consensus for the class was that it needed some work. Now, a day into 2009, did it get the work it needed? Wrath of the Lich King has really only been out for over a month, but it (and the patch preceding it) more or less dominated the year for every class, shamans included. However, the year started off with another big content patch which more or less dominated everything up until the release of Wrath, namely Fury of the Sunwell. It's fair to say that most shamans didn't get to raid Sunwell (although they were in demand for Sunwell raiding guilds, which we'll discuss) but almost any shaman who was level 70 could do the various Sunwell dailies, get to exalted and pick up a nice necklace or three as well as various other pieces for your offsets.
Teen arrested for making suicide threat to a GM - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 15:00:00 EST After a 17-year-old in Fairfield, Ohio told a GM "he was suicidal and the game was the only thing he had to live for," the Blizzard rep called 911, and the kid was apparently arrested, according to the Middletown Journal. We've seen this before -- Blizzard won't put up with suicide threats -- but as far as I know, this is the first we've heard of an arrest coming about because of it. Apparently the charge is a first degree misdemeanor, and though the kid was released to his father, he's got a court date to face next week.
The dumbest part? The kid wasn't even suicidal -- he told officers when questioned that it was a joke "to try and get what he wanted for the game." We doubt this will lead to anything big (we'd put the kid in community service and give him a slap on the wrist -- he's probably scared enough after being handcuffed and put in a patrol car), but Blizzard's policy is exactly right on this one, if you ask us. If the threat is real, this could prevent a tragedy, and if it's just some kid messing around to try and get his banned account back, he might learn a little lesson in the process.
Nielsen says WoW still tops the list - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 14:00:00 EST GameCyte has gone over the Nielsen ratings for 2008, and they're basically saying exactly what we've heard with other sites like GamerDNA: that WoW commanded PC playtime this year. On a list with such oldies on it as The Sims, CounterStrike, and even Blizzard's own Diablo II,World of Warcraft sits at the top of the charts with an average of 671 minutes (about 11 hours) played per week. This tells us two things: one, lots of people are playing World of Warcraft a lot. And two, PCs need some better games.
There is an interesting trend in these numbers, especially when you compare them with last year. Last year, Nielsen claimed about 17 hours a week of playtime for WoW players, so playtime this year is actually down overall (and while we don't see month to month numbers, GameCyte says it was before the Wrath release, which makes sense). Sure, you could say that with dailies and the easier instances, players just don't have to play the game as much, but really, this seems to reflect the bigger trend: that WoW is leveling out.
There are probably years left in this game -- as we said on the podcast last week, the only real way people will stop playing WoW is when Blizzard finally turns the servers off. But all the numbers we've seen definitely point to a slowing down point among the game's subscribers. Lots of people (11.5 milion) are still playing World of Warcraft a lot. But not as much as they used to.
WoW Insider's predictions for 2009 - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 13:00:00 EST Another year has come and gone, and we're on the verge of WoW's fifth year of existence. So it's time once again to look into the crystal ball, and pull out some predictions. Some of these are surefire (we're definitely going to hear more about the content patches for Wrath this year), some are tossups depending on who you ask (will we see another expansion in the works?), and some are just random guesses. But we're guaranteed one thing: 2009 is going to be a wild year, so if you want our very first insight on what might happen, here you go.
These are compiled from the WoW Insider staff -- we differed in a few places, and where we did, I've pointed out who thought what. Keep in mind that no one can predict the future, of course, so these are predictions, and that's all. By now we should all know that Blizzard will do all they can to keep us guessing. And feel free to put your own predictions (or just respond to ours in the comments below. Happy New Year -- here's to a great 2009!
Hopefully, we all had a pleasant night last night. X-Cross, the same chap behind Kippos, put this together to wish all of us a happy New Year. It's just a short shout out, with a few jokes along the way. And, of course, a male gnome in goggles and a dress, which can be quite the little humor in and of itself. It'll fit in nicely with some other pieces to help us get our holiday spirit going in the future.
The piece only took X-Cross about 5 hours to do, and he's up front about not considering the animation or the soundtrack to be his finest. All that being said, it was still a nice little "Happy New Year!" which makes it perfect for today. Tinkle is already making the rounds among my email list.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
We've been through a lot in 2008. I hit 70 on my current Rogue last January, and so I have paid keen attention to the patch notes and blue posts right alongside many of you. I was excited to reach the level cap on my blood elf; Rogues were at the height of their power. Season 3 and Season 4 of the arena season saw us demolishing every non-healing class in representation. None even dared to consider rivaling a Rogue with a pair of Glaives in any DPS contest.
However, due to Blizzard's hesitance to drastically change any balance issues before WotLK's release, we essentially had one PvE spec (20/41/0 Combat) and one PvP spec (20/0/41 Shadowstep). While there were always Rogues experimenting on the fringe with new specs, 90% of Rogues fell into one of these two buckets.
Both were brute force builds, designed to smash things with very slow maces or swords; and not even very creatively with that. We excelled in the arena due to our mobility and infinite energy pool, we ruled in PvE due to the overbudgeted weapons and leather in the Tier 6 dungeons. There was no finesse, no grace, no elegance outside of flashy moves (like vanishing a Death Coil). We were around to spam Sinister Strike until the boss died and spam Hemorrhage until the Druid finally ran out of mana.
WotLK has fixed all that. Read on as we cover the top 10 changes that helped us move from mindless button smashers into the deadly swans we have become.
Happy New Year, everybody. I'm sure this picture is a pretty accurate representation of many of your hangovers this morning. But it's actually a cautionary platitude, well illustrated by Emiri of <Court of the Ruby Grail> on Maelstrom. In the words of the immortal Satchel Paige, "Don't look back -- something might be gaining on you."
Do you have any unusual World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see it on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing email@example.com with a copy of your shot and a brief explanation of the scene. You could be featured here next!
Remember to include your player name, server and/or guild if you want it mentioned. Please include the word "Azeroth" in your post so it does not get swept into the spam bin. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more battleground scoreboards, double-mounts, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Winter Veil ending tomorrow morning - Thu, 01 Jan 2009 09:00:00 EST If you're trying to finish up some of your Winter Veil achievements (which are all mandatory if you want to get the Violet Proto-Drake one day), remember that you don't have much time left. Today is the last full day of the holiday. It ends tomorrow (the 2nd) at 6 AM according to the in-game calendar. You have less than 24 hours to get your fill of fruitcake and stock up on Holiday Spices.
Happy New Year, everyone! It's 2009, and this marks our first post of the year! I specifically locked everyone else out of the WoW Insider HQ so I would have the honor of writing it. Not before I asked them an important question, though. What were their New Year's resolutions for 2009? No, no, not those boring resolutions like "don't drink soda" or "watch less TV" or "stop eating babies." Nobody cares about that stuff. I mean their WoW resolutions!
My resolution? Get better at PvP. I'm shooting high and want an arena title. I've never really been into PvP, whether it be battlegrounds or arenas, but it's really the one area of play I haven't had much success in. So I'm gonna give it my all, and I'm not going to do things halfway. I'll settle for nothing less than Gladiator. Okay, okay, I'll accept Duelist, but that's as low as this fella goes.
What a great year 2008 has been for Paladins. While 3.0 overhauled the game in general, the class was retooled throughout the year, particularly Retribution, and became one of the most fun classes to play. In fact, Paladin popularity, while never a problem, rose incredibly. Even as I mourn the decline of Warlocks, I shudder at all the Paladins coming out of the woodwork like roaches. No, really, all the Paladins who have now specced Retribution because it's viable but can't break 1,400 DPS even with an epic 2-hander make me want to kick little kittens.
But never mind how I feel about that. The truth is that this is all good for the class, if not necessarily the game. I mean, did we ever dare dream that people would actually look for Retribution Paladins in trade or general chat? When you say you're a Retribution Paladin nowadays, nobody flinches. Nobody laughs. Nobody says, "haha, lolret." Or if they do, you Divine Storm their ignorant butts to kingdom come. Seriously, the most badass character in all of Wrath of the Lich King -- the one guy who spanked Arthas' sorry Death Knight butt -- is a Paladin. That feels pretty good. So, 2008. One heck of a year, wasn't it?
One of the blogs I frequest most beyond our own WoW Insider is DeathKnight.info. They have a fun little community on their forums, and their front page highlights most of the really cool stuff that happens to come out of it. The bulk of it is, of course, Death Knight news, but it also shows off a lot of the really random things WoW players do.
Magtheridon, once one of the hardest raid encounters in the game (depending on who you talk to), has been 4-manned by an Unholy Death Knight (who you may have read about previously), a Retribution Paladin, a Restoration Druid and a Holy Priest. If you've done the fight before, you might be thinking to yourself, "That's not possible. You need more people than that just to click the cubes!" Apparently that is not the case. They didn't bother with the cubes, they just healed through the damage.
It's ok to admit it: WoW has sucked you in. You pop up WoWInsider in your browser during breaks at work. You replay your shining moment of glory from your Sunday night group's near-wipe over and over in your head as you sit in traffic. You drift off to sleep wishing you'd remembered to look up the proc rate on that new drop. You're hooked - and you're hungry for more knowledge, eager to pounce on all the insider information you sense is dangling somewhere just out of line of sight ...
Welcome to metagaming. Researching your WoW game - your crunchy bits -- can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of playing World of Warcraft. While some players relish tackling new content with no preparations and no spoilers, others enjoy digging up encounter strategies and mapping out intricate leveling, gear and crafting plans. We'll introduce you to some basic resources for "theorycrafting" to start your New Year in WoW off with a (quantifiable) bang!
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft.
New Year's Eve! Hooray! Are you doing anything special tonight? I totally am. I'm going to play an alt. Gasp! Shock! No seriously, I have no idea what I'll be doing. Right now though, I'm answering questions! JLocke asked...
I know the next big patch to hit will have Uldar raid in it, but are there any other cool things attached to it that we know of?
I wasn't kidding the last time I wrote about the decline of Warlocks in the game. It's pretty palpable in major cities like Dalaran, walking around and seeing a glut of Death Knights crowding the mailbox and only the occasional Warlock summoning her Dreadsteed to cruise the cobblestone streets. It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy (or sulfuric and crackly, you know) whenever I read an emote from Necrosis. I think it should be a point of pride. The class has fallen off the radar, and the sad part is -- nobody misses us.
How did we get here, though? What happened between the class' popularity or should I say notoriety, from early this year to now? I mean, 3.0 happened, right? Blizzard buffed the class, with all three specs having a unique feel and playstyle. The class has never been more viable... on paper. I mean, Warlock DPS is competitive in PvE and that's the plain truth. It's a different game now. All classes can DPS in Wrath, and if they're played right, they'll do incredibly well. This means that playing a Warlock is now seriously hard work.
Bonkers of Vek'nilash, creator of the very useful Gear Wishlist that we posted about a while back, has sent along a new site he's been working on called Loot Council. Basically, you throw the names of every character in your instance group into the system along with the name of the instance you're running, and you get a quick list of all the loot available from the instance and which character it's best for, according to class, need, and spec. You can use various rankings for the item, but eventually, all you have to do to determine who needs the item is look it up on the list and then see who has the biggest improvement from what they're wearing.
Very useful, though this might not be quite as tough to figure out as getting gear for yourself: in most of my instance runs, it's usually pretty clear who gets/wants what. And if you do happen to be in a PuG where people don't understand why a certain stat is better for one class or spec than another, you're probably not going to get them to open up the webpage and follow what they see there.
But for a quick no-brainer loot solution while instancing with a group of friends (especially in 25mans, where it's often tough to see who really needs an upgrade), it seems helpful and works well. Another great app from Bonkers.
That year flew by really quick, didn't it? Last year, I remember I was working my way through Tempest Keep (Kael'Thas even). 2008 brought in a complete set of additions and changes for the Priest class across all 3 specs.
So, shall we get down to Priest class changes? Ranked in no particular order, we'll go over a few of the changes and the impact they had on the current game.
Yes it's the end of another year, and it's time to celebrate! Just in case you're not out and about partying this evening, Azeroth is enjoying New Year's Eve as well, and the good news is that you can drink all you want with no hangover at all! This evening in the capital cities, there'll be kegs and holiday food to eat, and fireworks will light up the sky every hour (starting around 6pm server time, if this year is the same as years past). Plus, all the guards in Booty Bay are taking their annual night off, so there'll be PvP aplenty down there. And there are two quests in the game, one for each faction.
Enjoy the holiday and stay safe, whether you're in the World of Warcraft or elsewhere tonight. From all of us at WoW Insider to all of you, thanks for making 2008 great, and here's to an even better 2009.