Relic beats Activision-Blizzard in developer showdown - Thu, 02 Apr 2009 19:00:00 EST Here's an update, albeit slightly unexpected, from The Escapist's big "March Mayhem" tournament that we reported on a little while ago. They were pitting Relic Entertainment up against Activision-Blizzard in a developer vote-down, and apparently, after a tie and a little ballot box stuffing, Relic, not Blizzard, has emerged out on top. Quite an upset in a number of ways -- Relic was seeded #12 in the bracket, and Activision-Blizzard was seeded as number one (the bracket also included Harmonix, Infinity Ward, and another big MMO developer, Mythic). In fact, Relic also went on to beat Harmonix, and is now facing Bioware for a spot in the final matchup.
Is it fair to say, then, that the mighty have fallen? Blizzard was (and still is, for the most part) held in high esteem as a developer -- most of the games they've released in their vast history aren't just hits, they're classics. But even commenters here on our site felt that the "Activision" on the front of the dev's name was distasteful: Blizzard's new owners don't demand as much respect as the studio itself does. And Blizzard has definitely changed lately. Some might say that the developer that allowed Diablo 2 players to play for free on Battle.net (which, to be fair, has had its own issues) isn't the same company that's planning to sell Starcraft II three different times.
And let's not forget that, ballot-stuffing or not, Relic has moved on to beat Harmonix, and still has a chance to win it all, so it could just be that they have a much bigger fan following than anyone expected. But does a loss like this mean Blizzard has fallen from their fans' grace?
Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.
Got adds? This week's Two Bosses Enter has minions a-plenty. Welcome to the ring Ichoron of Violet Hold and Ionar of the Halls of Lightning - and all their summoned minions.
The usual rules apply: assume that the opponents share similar levels, health pools and damage output. Take note that these bosses will face off neutral territory; there'll be no magic prison wall switches to throw in this battle. Both bosses will be allowed to summon their minions in their usual manner. Focus your debate on the three S's: Style, Story and Scale. Don't get caught up in game mechanics and what players might do in each encounter. Consider the flavor each villainous gladiator brings to bear, then cast your vote for who you think would come out on top.
Okay, when we last left off with the talents and abilities shamans leveling from 70 to 80 will experience, we didn't cover the new spells shamans get: Lava Burst and Hex.
These two spells helped build the new foundation for shamans going forward in Wrath. Lava Burst helped change the way Elemental works (by being able to change the way the class procs its clearcasting and other on critical abilities) and Hex was (and can be argued still is) the long-await Shaman CC ability. We discussed shamans in PvP last week in the upcoming patch 3.1, and I think it's safe to say that both of these abilities (especially Lava Burst) helped prod the class into its new directions, along with the enhancement specific Maelstrom Weapon.
It's surprising to think that they've created all the backstory, throughout Azeroth, in just 511 characters at a time. But even Kaplan said the limit is a good thing: it means Blizzard has to show story to the player rather than tell it.
Still, doesn't seem easy to
Crap. Out of room -- that's 511 characters. Of course, they can fudge things a bit by having those "story quests" where characters can use multiple pages to build up their background, and the 511-character limit doesn't apply to all of the dialogue -- some of the later quests have pages and pages of dialogue as the quest goes on. But squeezing enough information to keep a player interested in just 511 characters is quite a feat.
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. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.
Good afternoon, everybody! I apologize for missing yesterday's edition of The Queue, I sort of forgot about it in my rush to get our April Fool's joke pieced together. The entire team got together to bring that little joke to life. Getting it all put together was like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Fun, but it took awhile! Hopefully you guys enjoyed it. If not, oh well! We had a good time bringing it to life.
I don't think you want to listen to me ramble about that, though. Onto the Q&A!
"Why would the Argent Tournament set up camp in Icecrown, at the back end of the glacier? This makes absolutely no sense to me. Crystal Song seems way better: no quests there, plenty of space, and much better weather!"
It can sometimes be hard to distinguish between real news and fake news, especially with some of the elaborate schemes people do in order to make the fake stuff seem as real as possible. And there's a lot of it too. Google and Blizzard win the day, as usual. C.A.D.I.E anyone? The page is a throwback to the 1990s Geocities pages many of us made back then. My Geocities site had to do with Star Trek and lots of other nerdy stuff, although someone on staff had a Digimon site (I'm not telling who...).
After the break you can check out our list of all the April Fools jokes that went on yesterday that pertained to WoW. And for posterity's sake we've taken as many snapshots of the pages as we could and put them in a nice gallery so 10 years from now we can all look back and go "Aww... isn't that... /facepalm."
I don't know if all of the files have been saved with this change in ownership, but the service will be, at the very least. Will FileFront's founders do a better job keeping the site running? Only time will tell. For now, let's celebrate with all of the other gamers around the world. FileFront is back and hopefully it's here to stay.
The likely reason for the delay is that patch 3.1 won't be ready in time, or at least that Blizzard isn't sure it will be - it would have to ship next Tuesday, April 7, to make it. 3.1 is a massive patch and I'm sure they don't want to rush it. Nethaera did mention in a reply that they are "still doing a little bug dance and squishing a few more before we decide [the patch is] ready to have its coming out party," which may imply that all that's left before the patch is ready is debugging. On the other hand, debugging can take a very long time, so we can't conclude too much from that.
Whenever it does come out (probably sometime this month), we will be enjoying a new, expanded Noblegarden. It's going for one week (previously, it was just a single day), and there will be additional content for us to experience, as well as presumably a title (since it'll be part of What a Long, Strange Trip, everyone's favorite holiday meta-achievement).
This has been a week with lots of collaborative videos released. A new collaboration just hit the streets, and it's one that I was excited about the second I got the email from Cranius. Yeah, that Cranius. You know, Cranius of the Big Blue Dress? He's gotten together with Summergale and Legs to issue a new music video, called Ulduar. You should already know Summergale from her work in Hard Like Heroic, and Legs is the machinimator who created Route 440. I couldn't expect anything less than greatness from this crew, and greatness is exactly what they delivered.
According to Cranius, the video is about a pair of genre-crossed lovers crossing playstyle boundaries in WoW. Summergale sings the part of a PvE raider who is well-geared, and highly skilled in her arena. Cranius sings as a PvP fighter, who not only enjoys the dark avenues of player combat, but is a little bit of a punk and rebel. They're each trying to draw one another across the fence to try "the other side."
The music is excellent. Summergale's voice is gorgeous and compelling, while Cranius nails each lyric with convincing fervor. Legs built an energetic, riveting video for the song, creating a frenzied, hypnotic stage on which the singers perform. This is an incredibly professional piece, and one which I think sets a high standard for WoW music video.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch ..
All right, that's it. Get out of here. We've put up with death knights, we've put up with moving our base at a moment's notice, but we're not going to put up with our griffons being eaten by your devilsaur. Get out! You're banned from the Argent Vanguard! You and your children and your children's children! For three months.
Thanks to Steve, Steve's devilsaur, and Steve's brother who noticed the size of Steve's devilsaur for this screenshot, which stood out among our many giant pet submissions.
Do you have any unusual, clever, or interesting World of Warcraft images that are just collecting dust in your screenshots folder? We'd love to see them on Around Azeroth! Sharing your screenshot is as simple as e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Two Bosses Enter ... but only One Boss Leaves, in WoW Insider's series of fantasy death matches. This season's bosses come from the five-man instances of Wrath of the Lich King.
Grand Magus Telestra strolled out of the Thunderdome an easy victor this week -- and as reader Kellhouse noted, "P.S. She is also hot." It seems that her heat was convincing to the overwhelming margin of readers who voted for her in this bout against Prince Keleseth of Utgarde Keep.
Samedji presented the case for a stand-off: "I think I'm going to present the case for the tie here. Think about it: Their strengths counter their weaknesses extremely well. First of all, the skeletons would be neutralized pretty easily by Firebomb and Ice Nova when they go off. But these powers are only available to her when she's NOT SPLIT. Once she splits, she loses her ability to AOE, with the exception of Frost Telestra. One quick Ice Tomb there may be enough to get the Skellies back into the fight, and therefore useful to Keleseth again. Also, those skeletons are more useful during a Gravity well than you'd think, as I know I get a couple shots on her as I whip past as a rogue with each pass."
April's Brew of the Month has struck, and it's actually pretty fun. Sure, more jokes about bodily functions, but they're acceptable if they're entertaining! This month's definitely qualifies as entertaining. Metok's Bubble Bock is described as being light and uh, bubbly. I suppose you could've guessed that from the name.
Upon drinking the Bubble Bock, now and then you will get a buff called Bloated. After five minutes (or after you click the buff off) your character will burp righteously, and a named Brew Bubble will spawn and wander around aimlessly for awhile before popping. You can target it, but you can't cast things such as Baby Spice on it, unfortunately. The bubble can also merge with other bubbles, so get some friends together and try to make a great big one!
It's actually somewhat interesting that they chose to name this brew a Bock. A brew they describe as light and bubbly would actually be pretty dark, unless I've confused my beers somewhere. Bocks were often used and praised for their nutrient content, because compared to light brews, it could actually keep you fairly sated during fasts and period where high quality food was scarce. A bock was not the best choice for this particular brew! Again, though, I could be totally wrong. I don't even like most beer.
April Fools' Day came and went, and as expected, a lot of jokes popped up all over the 'Net. Of course, among the jokes we looked forward to (or dreaded, as some of you curmudgeons ranted yesterday) were the World of Warcraft-related jokes. However you might feel about April Fools', I think we all eagerly awaited Blizzard's April Fools' gag, a long-standing tradition. The European World of Warcraft site had theirs -- a Pimp my mount feature -- launch earlier than the North American gag, an RP-ization of the forums and the new Dance Battle System. Not bad, but definitely not their best prank.
Actually, the Dance Battle System was less funny to me if only because it reminded me of the one promised feature they still haven't delivered on. Remember the dance studios that were supposed to come with Wrath of the Lich King? They pruned that feature away even before Beta, but it doesn't mean we've forgotten all about it. In fact, this latest gag might've been Blizzard's way of poking fun at themselves for failing to deliver on their promise.
Bornakk defends removing the drakes - Wed, 01 Apr 2009 21:00:00 EST As you have probably heard, Blizzard will be removing the Plagued and Black Proto-drake mounts from the game as of 3.1. Currently they're available from the meta-raiding achievements, but since Blizzard wants to keep them rare, they've put a limit on the time you have to finish off those achievements before Ulduar gear and higher levels make them too easy. Lots of players are less than happy about this -- we're not in the right place right now to do these achievements, but we still really want a chance at these drakes. But Bornakk defends the decision over on the forums: he says that they didn't want the achievements to be "watered down as patch after patch goes by."
One player suggests tweaking them in a little different way: the new Herald of the Titans achievement actually requires you to have a certain iLevel on your gear, so that you can't get it if you're geared out so well it makes the fight trivial. Players want to know why Blizzard can't do that with the Glory of the Raider achievements, so that no matter what new gear we get, the difficulty stays the same.
But Bornakk confirms that it's not a matter of difficulty, it's a question of rarity. If players were always able to get the mounts, there would always be more and more of the mounts in the game. They want to cut off the supply, period. The good news is that there will eventually be more rare mounts to go after (and I can't wait until I see that Gnome head flying around). But the proto-drakes' time is almost up.
We're getting tons of reports regarding the Battle.net login server being down yet again tonight, and I can say from personal experience that it absolutely is down. Am I surprised? Not at this point, no. Am I disappointed? Absolutely. This is not a one-time problem, it's occurring with ridiculous regularity, and I really hope it gets fixed soon.
Surely, the Customer Service team will link their support page multiple times throughout the night, but I think we all know by now that what's on that page is not the heart of the problem. It might solve the outliers, but it's becoming very clear that the issue is not on our end here.
We'll update you if anything else happens, but hopefully it will just clear up and it won't come to that.
Probably one of the top requests WoW Rookie gets from new players is a plea for an explanation of WoW and gaming terminology. Even a casual skim of WoW Insider's front page can prove challenging to new gamers. Example: what to experienced players is a routine update on new PTR schedules can be an exercise in frustration for readers who are still sorting out WTT from WTF. ("PTR? WTF?!?")
It's not just WoW-specific abbreviations and acronyms that puzzle new players. Add in gaming lingo and internet chat terms, and you have the recipe for a truly intimidating mix.
One of the highlights of the interview is that Connie thinks Blizzard will begin monetizing the UI. "Based on all the changes Blizzard is making, I believe the Blizzard business model is to "Monetize" UI Mods/add-ons by developing them in house and offering them for sale to players "
Now I don't necessarily agree with the end analysis, but her arguments are compelling and make sense.
It will be interesting in another year or so to see where this UI policy change lands us. We'll have to wait and see!
"Full-time guild director" being hired on Craigslist - Wed, 01 Apr 2009 18:00:00 EST It's a tough economy out there, and everyone's looking for a stable job that won't drive them nuts. Enter this kind fellow from Santa Barbara, California -- he's offering "fulltime" pay to someone willing to become a PvP guild director. Duties include picking up skilled new recruits, delivering summaries of what's been going on in the guild, and keeping tabs on raid stats, guild banking, auctions, and so on. He's got a three-box setup you can use when he's not on it (hence, the money to burn), and while pay isn't much at first, he does have plans in mind for a bonus schedule (if the guild gets three people in the top Arena rankings, you get a frozen turkey?).
Pretty wild, but as long as someone is willing to pay for something (and I know a lot of guild leaders who'd love to outsource their "jobs" if they had the cash), you can turn it into a real job. And who knows -- putting "WoW Guild Director" on your resume might be really helpful. If you do get hired, be sure to let us know.
When you log into the game today, and if you're updated to the latest version, you'll hear a modem sound ring across your speakers. This is a joke, this is only a joke, and you have no need to be alarmed.
We've gotten many tips in about this, mainly people thinking that it's the Confiker virus which was supposed to start today. Well, it's not. And from the look of things Confiker is bust too (at least for now). So you're safe and okay, and can be angry that you've been had by an add-on author. Or just laugh about it, which is what I've done.
"My Life as a Night Elf Priest" - Wed, 01 Apr 2009 16:00:00 EST A University of California Irvine anthropologist named Bonnie Nardi has been studying one of the strangest cultures known to man lately, and she's going to be presenting her findings in a book called "My life as a Night Elf Priest" -- that's right, she's been taking notes on the weird sociological experiment known as Azeroth. It sounds pretty interesting -- she's been examining the way Chinese and American players play the game (and of course the differences between them), and she's also looking into how games like WoWcan bring us closer together rather than isolating us socially.
It's funny -- as a genre and a technology, MMO games are actually in the absolute earliest phases of their history. Socoiologists and psychologists have been studying real humans for thousands of years, and yet it's only in the past few decades that they've gotten access to MMO games, like little petri dishes of condensed human behavior. Nardi may be one of the first to try and scientifically examine how players use (and are affected by) this technology, but she'll definitely be far from the last.