We've heard about WoW in the news due to addiction and spousal trouble. When scientists chat about the game, they tend to be interested in the dynamics of virtual worlds. Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin is approaching WoW and science in a different light.
Constance noticed a specific dynamic when she watched Lineage players approach raiding with a familiar method. They'd form a hypothesis about a boss, test it, gather evidence, and then reform their hypothesis based on that evidence. For those of you following along at home, that's basically the "Scientific Method."
Steinkuehler tested for the use of Scientific Method in WoW by going to the official forums, and studying 2,000 threads. According to the results, 86% of the threads were focused on analyzing the ruleset of the game. The implication is that those posts use some scientific method to understand WoW's rules. (I wonder if "Nerf Rogues!" was included as meaningful content.)
The purpose of this study seems to be to reverse our youth's growing scientific illiteracy by using video games to exemplify scientific pursuits. Since science is often about the method of obtaining facts, and not just facts themselves, teachers might be able to use games to help students "L2Science." Sounds solid to me, but I'm still not sold on the forums being a fertile ground of meaningful content.
Obviously, the expansion isn't going to bring in new badge vendors that we can use these for.... Epic level 70 gems will probably still be around and used for your intro raiding gear, but chances are they'll be replaced pretty quick too.
I'm debating liquidating my badges into gems, nethers and vortexes and selling them on the AH. Of course, there's the issue of "how soon is too soon" and "what if the patch puts in some new vendor items", along with "I need to get the items out on the market before it becomes flooded and no one wants them due to the imminent release of the LK expansion"!
So whaddaya think? If you have extra badges, liquidating them into Nethers and Vortexes isn't too bad an idea, since even Badge gear might be overtaken by green gear a few quests into Northrend. But then again, even crafted gear that uses those items might end up being useless within the first few levels, so what's a Badge hoarder to do?
What's your plan for getting rid of the Badges you have left? Are you just going to spend them as you need them and see what solutions present themselves when Wrath arrives? It would be interesting if Blizzard, say, offered an XP reward in exchange for them after level 70. Or have you already liquidated your stock by selling out Primal Nethers on the AH? What happens to your Badges when the way to Northrend opens up?
MaxDPS.com maps out your DPS gear - Mon, 08 Sep 2008 17:00:00 EST On Saturday's Gear Wishlist post, a few people brought up a site that was mentioned in the item weighting choices there: MaxDPS.com. And later that day, Dan Hyde himself, maker of the site, emailed asking us to take a look at it. It's been around for quite a while (and quite a few of our readers already like and use it), but this was the first time I'd really inspected it -- turns out it's a pretty complicated gear guide that's aimed at one thing: maxing out your DPS.
In fact, that's the only thing it does -- there are no options, for instance, for Resto Shammies or Holy Priests (although Dan is working on healing gear rankings -- Holy Paladin is one of the newer options). All the site does is look at the stats on gear (and your own stats, if you punch them in), and then rank all the gear in the game to tell you how much DPS that piece will let you turn out. And if that's your goal, the thing can be pretty helpful -- I saw a few quest pieces on my Hunter that I could pretty easily upgrade to if I just wanted to up my DPS by about 10 or so.
The only problem, of course, is that it's DPS only -- if you want to put together a set that is all about plus healing, or max out Intellect for whatever reason, you're still going to have to parse the gear that shows up in the ranks (which is one reason I liked Gear Wishlist so much -- you can rank for MaxDPS, or switch the rank over to item level or the Wowhead ratings for each piece). But once you've figured out what you want your character's main goal to be with gear at endgame, all of these sites will do their best to provide suggestions for upgrades to you, from all the stuff available in quests and PvP at level 70, up to the highest pieces you can find in endgame raiding.
Beta realms down tomorrow for maintenance - Mon, 08 Sep 2008 16:51:00 EST The Wrath beta realms are down as I type this. Not news, I know, for those who are actually in the beta. The realms seem to be unavailable frequently. I chalk this up to the nature of beta testing. However, today we actually got a heads-up on planned maintenance downtime, scheduled for tomorrow at the same time the live realms will be offline. Now, this is news to me because so far the patches to the beta have been released without any announcement. In other words, the only way I've found out updates were coming was that when I try to log on, and then I end up waiting an hour for everything to download and install.
So now I'm intrigued. Will we need to install another beta patch after maintenance? Will the beta now move to planned maintenance instead of spontaneous crashes? (Okay, wait, that last question was just crazy-talk.) Or -- maybe the announcement of planned maintenance mean that the beta realms are ready for the release of patch 3.0.2 and all of its dreamy barbershop and achievement goodness! Oo, I can't wait!
Making the Racial traits more individual - Mon, 08 Sep 2008 16:00:00 EST Hot on the heels of word about all the new changes to racial abilities in Wrath, reader Mike sent us a suggestion he thought up to give a little twist to racial abilities in game: Blizzard could unlock some of them from a few races, and instead give players the ability to choose a few on a peronal basis -- they could pick and choose certain abilities for their characters to have from the beginning. As in, each ability would get put into a budget, and instead of merely choosing a race, players could then choose one or two skills from the budget to give to their characters. You could end up having a Troll with Escape Artist and Diplomacy, or a Human with Hardiness and Magic resistance.
Of course, some abilities are pretty strictly defined by the races themselves, so not everything could be pick and choose -- Gift of the Naaru and Will of the Forsaken would have to stick with Draenei and Undead, respectively (they'd have to stay Racial traits, not personal ones). But abilities like Endurance and Quickness are so insignificant in the bigger picture of things that it would be nice to customize your character a little bit more -- match it up to your style of play rather than just want race you'd like to be. Character creation is quickly becoming the one thing in the game that's stayed exactly the same since launch, and for many reasons, from RP to theorycrafting, players would really get a kick out of customizing their characters that little bit more.
As Mike told us, each character has their own personal background and insights, so why shouldn't each individual character have their own personal traits to shine in? It's a little late for Wrath, of course, but it's something to think about in the future -- if Pets get their own choices about their strengths, why shouldn't the different ingame races?
Disappointing? Not from our perspective -- just like Black Temple, leaving the last instance out of the expansion will not only let Blizzard make sure it's released only when done, but it'll give us something to look forward to after Wrath. No one really expected to see this content in the Wrath box anyway, and not even Blizzard has left us guessing -- they've been pretty clear that Icecrown would get its own content patch from the beginning. Leaves us more time to enjoy the content that does come with the expansion.
In all seriousness, I find this to be a fantastic change. That 1% chance to miss no matter what you did was always annoying to me, and it was one of those random factors that could ruin your day no matter how good of a player you are and how good your gear is, both in PvE and PvP. That resisted Fear or Frost Nova in a pinch shouldn't happen anymore, if you gear properly.
Rogues? This helps you guys, too. Since your hit rating applies to both melee and spells, your poisons will benefit from +Hit, and you can reach that point where your poisons are never resisted. Exciting? Exciting!
When used, it instantly conjures three copies of the Mage that cast it. These copies have their own health and mana pools, and act independently of you, like three like-minded pets set to "aggressive." The copies I was summoning would alternate between casting three simultaneous Fire Blasts and three simultaneous Frostbolts. These spells do more-or-less normal damage. The Fire Blasts were hitting for around 2,000 damage each, and the Frostbolts were hitting for slightly less, around 1,500.
I summoned them the first time in range of three level 70ish mobs. The copies immediately began attacking, one shotting two of the mobs before I even realized what was happening. I began casting at the third a second later, but it was dead before the cast went off. I then moved within range of the next mob and began casting a Frostfire Bolt at it. The copies followed suit, winding up three Frostbolts simultaneously. Their spells landed just after mine, and the level 71 mob died before it had even begun to move toward me. After thirty seconds, my copies died automatically, leaving three corpses that looked exactly like me lying at my feet.
At my computer, I burst into song, and lost control of my bowels.
Tanking stats updated for Wrath and Patch 3.0 - Mon, 08 Sep 2008 13:30:00 EST We've been covering in depth the changes to tanking for various classes in the Wrath beta, and how these changes might affect players when Patch 3.0goes live prior to Wrath's release. Now on the beta servers we have one very big sign that these changes may be going live fairly soon: the stats on Burning Crusade raiding gear, specifically paladin and warrior tanking set gear and many non-set epic plate tanking pieces, have been changed to reflect the new realities of tanking mechanics that are incoming.
In a surprise move that's incredibly welcome (well, in my eyes) Blizzard has gone back and changed Paladin and Warrior tanking tier 4 to 6 gear as well as non set plate drops, shield and badge gear to take advantage of the new mechanics. As I primarily am a tank (and expect to remain so) I went online to check out how my tanking gear will change when patch 3.0 drops. A gallery of some select pieces and how they're changing when patch 3.0 goes live has been provided for all your browsing needs. I have to say that for the most part the changes are very welcome, they maintain old block value for threat while adding the strength we'll need for increased AP to scale our new threat abilities like Shockwave.
Take a look at the changes to date. (And thanks to MMO-Champion for the head's up.)
It's no secret that the game we all know and love is in a period of transition. Many basic assumptions of Warcraft are changing, from the way loot is itemized, to the way buffs work, to the very nature of raiding. Amidst all this change, I decided to update the document my guild wrote to define our basic principles and guidelines. Written in 2005, it was astonishingly outdated. I guess I shouldn't have been all that surprised. Someone who stopped playing back when Blackwing Lair was the endgame would barely recognize WoW if they rolled a premade 80 on the beta servers today.
We call this document our guild's philosophy. Many guilds call it their charter. However you label it, right now is a great time to reevaluate exactly what your guild is all about and what your basic rules and beliefs will be going into the next expansion.
Shyka, who we posted last week was making and selling custom-made BlizzCon badges to show off your character at Blizzard's big event, was thrilled to see her work on WoW Insider, and in return, kindly offered to make us a custom badge of our own (since we'll be there live at BlizzCon all weekend long). But due to the warmth of our hearts (and the fact that Weblogs, Inc. policy clearly states that we can't accept swag like that), we're passing the badge on to you -- Shyka has agreed to make one custom BlizzCon badge for one of you lucky readers.
To enter, just put a comment on this post sometime before midnight Eastern on Friday, September 12th -- you can say anything you want, but we'll ask you: what will be the most awesome thing you could see at Blizzard's big event? You may only enter once, and one winner will be chosen in a random drawing to pick up one of Shyka's badges (valued at $40). Make sure to use an email you check often, so we can get in touch with you if you win. Please note: you must be a resident of the United States (sorry EU and Canada folks), and 18 or older to win. Official contest rules are right here.
Please also note that this is not an official BlizzCon ticket -- this is just a custom art badge to show off your character at Blizzard's big show in October. If you want to go to BlizzCon, you'll need to have already purchased a ticket, although you can definitely win the badge even if you aren't going to BlizzCon. But then, how else will you show off the cool character art Shyka will custom make for you if you win? Good luck!
(Apparently Vimeo decided that this video wasn't artistic enough. They deleted it!)
It's a well known fact that I rarely feature gameplay and PvP videos on Moviewatch. However, as long as they're artistic, I don't have a problem with them. As a matter of fact, now that I'm playing WoW again (as Moowi on Mal'Ganis!), I actually enjoy seeing them. The thing is, the UI needs to be off, some shots need to be sweeping, and I look for an overall cinematic quality in general.
Paus, of Bathing with Ghosts fame, has created a beauty of a movie to show off the PvP skills of Ayanas, of Trollbane EU, in Waarom Fred zuigt in PvP. It makes me wonder what Shepiwot, of the How to Paladin series, would be capable of if he had a more complex editing program than Windows Movie Maker. As for actual display of skill, the poor guy keeps dying, but that's dwarfed by high definition (Boooooo, Vimeo!) spinning and jumping, plus an epic soundtrack!
If you have any suggestions, such as artistic PvP videos, for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com with a brief explanation of the action. Previously on Moviewatch ...
Today we've got achievements, zeppelins, and a few things in between. We'll start at the end of the alphabet and work forward from there with a question from tehvoid....
Any news about the come back of the boats and zeppelins' crews? Do boats in Northrend have a crew?
Yes! Well... sort of. Zeppelins currently have a single crew-member whom you cannot click on and doesn't speak. (Shown to the right -- and, yes, when the zeppelin moves, she pedals.) But the fact that they've bothered adding them in the first place suggests they do have plans for crewing these vessels.
For more of your beta questions -- and our beta answers -- read on! But if you're the sort who wants to avoid spoilers, turn back now. We're aiming to avoid major story spoilers, but this feature is all about beta content and we can't talk about the beta without giving a few things away.
Can you believe how fast this year is flying by? Yes, it's Harvest Festival time once again in Azeroth, which means it's time to celebrate the coming end of the summer (from now until Saturday) with some tasty eats and sweet drinky treats, and honor the Fallen Heroes of the Horde and Alliance. Outside Orgrimmar and Ironforge, you'll find Harvest tables loaded with food (that give you back 2% of your health or mana per second for 30 seconds each), and there's also quests in each place that will send you off to honor a hero of your faction (Uther or Grom Hellscream).
We've all heard that shadow priests melt faces in PvP, but this is the first instance I've seen of holy priests burning your heart out from the inside in PvE. According to Taighan of Suramar, her husband Shadovare respecced from shadow to holy to help his wife out in the lower level instances. Taighan notes that this picture is of him Holy Novaing a large group inside the Stockades. For some reason, the neat rows of Defias, the sparkling lights, and the illusion of light bars across the screen remind me of Guitar Hero. Hmm ... mixing Guitar Hero and WoW -- Activision Blizzard's plan for world domination?
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. We strongly prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no more sunsets.
Shockingly, the one profession that most people seem to be excited about in Wrath of the Lich King is Cooking. Inscription? Pfffft. Cooking! Luckily, Cooking seems to be one of the professions getting a lot of focus in the beta right now. The last couple of beta patches have brought us a ton of new recipes and quests.
Just recently we've added tons of those new recipes to our Wrath Cooking gallery, including both the new recipes in this weekend's beta patch and the ones that had previously been inaccessible from the patch before that, so there's plenty there to see. Some of the recipes are useful (spell power, expertise, haste, that whole spiel) and some are just for fun (growing, shrinking, enslaving mini critters to your iron will), but they're all pretty good examples of why Cooking is so exciting in WoW. While it isn't among the new recipes, Kungaloosh has a special place in my heart. Kungaloosh. Kungaloooosh. Say it!
Breakfast Topic: BlizzCon contests - Mon, 08 Sep 2008 08:00:00 EST BlizzCon is a mere month and a half away, and I can just imagine the excitement building up. With Wrath certain to be released this year, there has got to be some big news about the expansion during the convention. Who among you are going? Better yet, who among you are going and joining a contest? If I actually managed to get tickets to BlizzCon (or at least be in the United States in October...), I would have wanted to join -- alright, maybe just check out -- the costume contest. I know, it sounds silly, but some costumes are actually pretty cool.
For sure, when BlizzCon rolls around, WoW Insider will put up a gallery of the costume contest entrants. But there are contests that don't require you to be at BlizzCon. Quite a few of them are online contests like the poster making, songwriting, and movie-making. Will you be joining any of them? Everybody loves swag, after all. Even if you aren't, what entries are you looking forward to seeing this year?
As you might guess from our list of new abilities in Wrath of the Lich King, leveling as Shadow in Northrend is basically the same as leveling as Shadow in Outland. The only difference is that in Northrend, you get to be a little more reckless thanks to Dispersion. Being reckless is fun.
If you've leveled Shadow before, you probably have used the "pull way too many monsters, tab DoTs, fear, and run around screaming like a fool while they slowly die" tactic. It's tried and true, so I don't know why you wouldn't. You can level pulling only one mob at a time, but why would you? Flailing your arms around in horror is much more efficient, and Dispersion makes it even better. Shock and awe, I know! Dispersion is good!
Let's take a look at the talent spec I've been using in Wrath, shall we? Note that when you look at this, it's a talent spec I am using because it works for me. Leveling is one of those times where you can get away with your talent spec being wholly different. Pick what works for you. This spec works for me.
Imagine if you were raised in a culture who took playing in the mud very very seriously. As a young lad or lassie, your parents advised you that it would be wise of you to learn digging as your profession, and they hoped that one day you would marry a forger. Your people loved the earth so much that they built their homes and cities underground, and reached as deep as they could into the ground to see what they could find there.
Then... imagine if, just a few years ago, someone discovered evidence that your people had once been made by giant Titans out of the very stone and earth you now craft with such care. Wouldn't you be pretty psyched?
There's so much more to dwarves than just a Scottish accent and short stature, you see. Dwarves are the Indiana-Joneses of World of Warcraft. After eons of digging into and sculpting the earth of Azeroth, they suddenly have a clue as to where they came from and how everything came to be the way it is for them. They are now spread across distant places of the world, digging and plumbing ancient ruins in order to unravel the mystery of their existence, and discover the ultimate reason for being.
Addon Spotlight: TwoBox Toolkit - Sun, 07 Sep 2008 22:00:00 EST Welcome to a special preview edition of Addon Spotlight. I've been playing around with dual-boxing and wanted to shared this addon with you all, as it adds some great features for anyone running two toons. Rather than succumb to expansion apathy, I've been attempting to level my alts via the ridiculous XP bonus given to players who have recruited a friend. Besides, who doesn't want a new Zhevra mount for their Belf-about-town? Regardless, some savvy developers have come up with some mods to help the aspiring dual-boxer.
This is the only in-game addon I use when I'm burning through the levels via the Recruit-a-Friend program. The developer has combined a lot of great little tools into the package. Once I started using TwoBoxToolkit I noticed a significant increase in efficiency when dual-boxing.