Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.
John writes in on a topic that I think a lot of people can relate to. Wrath of the Lich King brought you back to the game, but now what?
I'm really enjoying your column and wanted to give you an idea for a future article. Right now I'm a casual gamer who's on the fence about coming back to WoW thanks to WotLK. I quit WoW soon after the last expansion because I was tired of the constant raid grind, gear treadmill, and a PVP system that only rewarded people with 40+ hours to play a week (the dreaded honor/rank system). And this was back at a time when I wasn't a dad or was doing my career grind. So long story short, I have no idea where to start as a casual.
Blizzard unveils Wrath of the Lich King Cinematic Artbook - Sat, 10 Jan 2009 17:30:00 EST So hey, this is pretty cool. I like to consider myself a connoisseur of video game art, owning a good number of hardcover, glossy-paged artbooks that help me out when a) I need some inspiration, or b) I need to feel really inferior about my art. The artbook released with the Collector's Edition of Wrath was very well put-together (and certainly an improvement over the original WoW artbook with its half-pages of pre-rendered art for every race but orcs and humans) and had everything I like in an artbook--but oh, what's this, Blizzard? An entire book that shows and discusses the process of making the Wrath cinematic? Yes, this will do.
Published by Insight Editions and titled The Cinematic Art of Wrath of the Lich King, it features 200 pieces of high-res concept art and CG renders, two 8x10 art cards with concept art of Arthas and Sindragosa the Frost Queen, lots of lore bits about major players in Wrath's storyline, and (I think this is the coolest) a 12-page illustrated storybook that tells the tale of Sindragosa. And even beyond all that, there's behind-the-scenes commentary about the cinematic every step of the way. It's valuable insight if you're interested in storyboarding, production, or just the Blizzard creative process.
I think we can all agree that it sounds pretty awesome, whether you're into art or WoW itself. You can pick it up, if you're so inclined, at Amazon.com for the very reasonable sale price of $19.77 USD. If you're as-yet-unconvinced, you can check out a preview of the book at Blizzard's Wrath site.
Each week, Arcane Brilliance commandeers a cannon atop one of the towers in Wintergrasp and launches flaming balls of explosive Mage content down upon the unsuspecting masses below. Deadly, deadly Mage content. You may not know this, but Arcane Brilliance gets a tenacity buff whether it's outnumbered or not. Suck on that, Warlocks!
Patch 3.0.8, and all of its unabashed Arcane Mage love, is just around the proverbial corner. If you missed Arcane Brilliance's coverage of the changes, you can find it here, still preserved in its original state. We have other business to attend to this week, though. Last week, we finally rounded out our series of leveling guides by going from level 70 all the way to 80. Now comes the age-old problem: what to do once you've hit the cap?
As it has ever been, hitting the current level cap--much like graduating from high school or college--only serves to show us how far behind the curve we really are. We go from the top of one ladder to the very bottom of another. No self-respecting raid-leader is going to invite a Mage to Naxxramas who is still sporting the mismatched greens and blue quest-rewards he had on when he dinged 80 somewhere in the middle of Zul'Drak. The good news in Wrath of the Lich King, however, is that the power gap now isn't as difficult to bridge as it has been in previous incarnations of the end-game.
After the break, we'll go over some of the changes and list a selection of pre-Naxx gear and where to find it.
I personally think that the how and why of WoW's economy is worth a deep look, and it appears there are a lot of people who agree with me--even some academics. It might even be worth just as much as any other book-learnin'.
At least, that's the basis of David Friedman's World of Warcraft economics course proposal. Friedman is an academic economist from San Jose, CA who's assembled this article as a think-tank for what a WoW economics course would entail if you had to fill it with a semester's worth of content. There's a lot of neat stuff in here, talking about relative prices of ore based on character level and rarity of ore and supply/demand, but he also asks for your input as to possible course material, which I'm sure you could gladly provide in the comments section of his page.
Good idea with sound academic basis, or another in the long list of high falootin' academia's attempts to justify playing WoW on the government's dime? WE REPORT. YOU DECIDE.
In patch 3.0.8 there is a new achievement call the Lil' Game Hunter, which you get upon collecting a very large number of pets. The achievement gets you the pet pictured above, a little fawn. He's cute, and hopefully won't stop in his tracks when he sees my motorcycle's headlight.
Previously the achievement required getting a total of 100 vanity pets, however that total has now been lowered to 75. That is much more accessible for people to achieve, and really requires just a little bit of farming and AH watching. Definitely within the grasp of more people than when it was 100, which would have required more-or-less getting your hands on some super rare pets and/or ebayed TCG loot cards (a subject which some feel is borderline ethical).
Click on the above image to get a better view of the fawn, and start collecting now!
I plan on taking him for a walk through Elwynn Forest when I get him.
For help with tracking your non-combat pet collection, head on over to the most excellent Warcraftpets.com.
Here's another /facepalm situation to complement the one I wrote about last week. What's the first thing you would do if you were suddenly appointed the leader of your guild? Would you talk to members about the direction they'd like you to take the guild? Maybe smooth things over with the other officers who might be a little stung that they weren't chosen to take over? This week's e-mail comes from a raid leader in a guild whose new GL took an entirely different path.
Hello there. I wanted to share some issues I'm having with my current guild. You see, I happen to be the paladin Class Master, and one of the raid leaders of an originally casual guild that got some interest into raiding.
However, problems started about 2 weeks ago, when our Guild Leader decided to quit the game, due to RL reasons. Since then, one of the other officers took over, being designated by the old GL before he left. The thing is . . . the recruitment policy changed from, you know, applying, getting our "probation" status for a week or so to see how the initiate liked the guild and vice versa, to "Hey, let´s get some of my friends in! They have already cleared Naxx!" (As if it was something like "WOO they beat Sunwell before 3.0!") And not only did they get invited, but also promoted to raider/officer status right away . . .
Ghostcrawler doesn't want Death Knights to hang onto the weapons throughout their time in Wrath of the Lich King, which is apparently what Blizzard is afraid will happen. The other issue with providing 2H tanking weapons was that Blizzard would have needed to start itemizing (putting tanking stats on and crafting gear for) 2H tanking weapons overall, and that's something they didn't want to do.
The Ghost also points out that the new sigil and runeforge enchant should be enough to get the Death Knight defense up to where it needs to be.
Everyone and their mother has seen Blind by Percula, right? If not, go ahead and watch it above. Better yet, go to the actual vimeo page and watch it in high definition. Then come back here for more Blind-goodness.
Blindly satisfied? Great! It's been the #1 search topic on WoW Insider for a bit, so I know people must love it.
The only complaint that folks have about the video is the sound can be rather rough at times. I have to admit that I think this as well (to some extent), however it's nothing that really detracts from the video itself. Further, it's interesting to note that the audio distortion is present in the original song Percula uses as well, which leads me to believe it was an artistic choice of the artist.
But no matter what you think of the audio quality, I haven't ran into anyone who thinks the song doesn't match up beautifully with the animation and story itself.
But therein lies the question - what are the lyrics? The song playing is "Hide & Seek" by Namie Amuro. I wasn't familiar with her, so after some Wikipediaing, I learned that she is a Japanese singer that was, and to a large extent still is, quite popular.
Take a look after the break for more about the song "Hide & Seek," including the lyrics.
And of course we'll talk about what we've been up to in the game lately, and if you stick around afterwards, we'll be live on the aftershow, when you can talk directly to us from the comments without those pesky recorders taking down our every word. It all kicks off at 3:30pm Eastern (8:30pm GMT) over on our Ustream page.
And as usual, I've also embedded the feed live in the second half of this post, so you can just click through to join in on the show and the conversation today. Whether you're raiding or soloing this afternoon, feel free to jump in the chat and give us a listen!
In the frozen wastes of the Dragonblight, legend has it that there's a ghostly priestess who wanders the landscape seeking travelers in need of aid. However, she's not the type to jump in and heal - her powers are more dark and sinister than that. When you are in trouble, she will appear to melt faces then fade into the distance, lost among the shadowy scenery all around. Scholars dismiss this as nothing but nonsense, but still, the tales told by fireside persist.
Of course, this isn't that ghost of legend - although she's good at melting faces nonetheless! This image comes to us from Schubert, Shadow Priest of Baelgun, who had just picked up an Armored Brown Bear from Dalaran and snapped this shot when she noticed that her shadowform matched the nearby landscape perfectly.
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 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.
Achievements are like crack. I didn't expect to go for any of them, really. When Achievements were first announced and we got a sneak peek at what kind of Achievements were in the game, all I was really interested in was racking up PvP Achievements and ignore the rest. But when I completed For The Horde! sometime ago, and Thrall sent me a nice little letter and a bear, learning the Black War Bear inadvertently resulted in unlocking Stable Keeper.
When that happened, something inside me clicked and the next thing I knew, I was doing quests in Sen'jin and Bloodhoof Villages to get those last few reputation points to get to Exalted with the respective factions. My initial idea was simply to allow myself to purchase all the racial mounts, but when I finally hit Exalted with all the Horde factions, I unlocked Ambassador of the Horde. Oh, and while we were raiding the Alliance cities, I took time off to explore the Alliance starting zones, too, and turned into a Dora. It's kind of an unstoppable snowball of Achievements that get you hooked even when you're not pursuing them.
I ventured into Dire Maul North to raise my weapon skills, ending up getting Did Somebody Order a Kunckle Sandwich? and Master of Arms. Since I had, in my epic fail of an attempt to get Merrymaker, gone into Dire Maul East to get the recipe for Run Tumm Tuber Surprise, I also cleared Dire Maul East. This meant I just had to go into Dire Maul West to get King of Dire Maul. So much for ignoring Achievements. Even if you don't look for them, they kind of have a way of finding you. I mean, most people get Going Down? entirely by accident, don't they? Like it or not (and I, for one, actually like it more than I thought I would), Achievements look like a success to me. We like it so much, in fact, that Dan's kicked off a weekly Achievements column called The Overachiever. How're you doing with your Achievements lately? Have you gotten hooked?
World of Warcraft lends itself to the night owl. The game is detailed enough where if you want to be effective at it you need to concentrate a little bit, and that usually means not having distractions around you like kids, a significant other, or your pets. The best time I find that I can get distraction free is in the late evening and early morning hours.
I'm a night owl, if you will. In fact I'm sitting here typing this up at 2:15 a.m. CST. Quite late for most of my WoW friends even (however at least a few WoW Insider writers are still up and working on things).
This leads me to ask for today's breakfast topic, what kind of player are you? Take a stab at the poll too and let us know.
One of the best parts about playing late at night is a certain attitude that I find hits around three in the morning. It's the phenomenon when everyone is tired, nearly falling over on their keyboard, and suddenly somebody says over vent "Let's just do one more heroic."
Playing WoW off an SD card - Sat, 10 Jan 2009 00:01:00 EST This week at the popular Consumer Electronics Show (CES as everyone calls it) our sister site Engadget was covering all the hoopla. Some exciting technology was unveiled that will allow a theoretical 2 terabytes of data to be stored on a new SD card format called SDXC. An SD card is the kind of card you can put in your camera. Most desktop and laptops have SD drives built in these days, so you probably have access to one even if you don't know it.
The cards are great for storing pictures and other data. I've used a 2 gigabyte one quite a bit to transfer around files, and in particular relevance to WoW, large addon and configuration directories (the WTF folder in the root WoW directory). It's much faster to put the 150 megabyte of WoW configuration files onto the card and physically transfer it than to deal with a slow and shabby WiFi connection.
However with the introduction of this new technology an interesting prospect is raised: playing WoW off an SD card directly.
Or, perhaps, we'd love to slaughter the Food Network. In World of Warcraft, of course. This week when I asked what everyone was up to, Daniel Howell (whom you may also know as BigRedKitty) graced us with one of his infamous top ten lists:
BRK's Top Ten Things to Do in WoW This Weekend
10. Install IE 6 on a 80386 PC so I too can complain about the menus on WoW Insider. 9. Claim I'm raising money for a very reputable charity, then /ninja everything and boogie to Monte Carlos. 8. Show up buzzed to the maxx from Jolt Cola for the WoW Insider podcast, then fake a French accent and ridicule England until Turpster explodes in a profanity-laced tirade. 7. Write an interview with the farmer who leveled Mike's hunter. "You should see his bags, BRK! Nothing but flowers, rum, and non-combat cat-pets. My boss said, 'Level that toon, but then delete it from our database. Eww.'" 6. Do a video reminiscent of "The Super Fans" from SNL, but all of us are hunters. "Daaaaaa huntahs!"
More silliness and WRUP for the rest of the team after the break!
[1.Local]: No one plays WoW because of clams - Fri, 09 Jan 2009 19:00:00 EST Reader comments - ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.
My city of ruins We suspect that reader Vektorix may have a bright future as a developer. Confronted with the state of Quel'danas today, he offers an idea that meets with resounding approval from other readers: "I really think that after all the work that was put in to taking and holding the Isle, killing Kael'thas and banishing Kil'jaeden, Blizzard should declare the war won and Quel'danas should become WoW's first resort. Beautiful golden sun, pleasant environment, no mobs -- it'd be the perfect sanctuary for weary adventurers. Who would hang out in Dalaran or Shattrath when there's a beach!!?"
Insider Trader: Patch 3.0.8 - Fri, 09 Jan 2009 17:30:00 EST Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.
The upcoming patch, 3.0.8, is poised to make some real changes to professions. In the majority of cases, these are positive changes that will help you level, craft, and save on money or materials.
In some cases, you may even want to consider halting the production of certain items, and focus on hoarding the materials instead. Many things are getting cheaper, and there is little point in wasting materials unnecessarily now, unless you absolutely have to.
As a special note to Blacksmiths, I recommend making your epic frost resistance gear for you or your guild before the patch! Read on to see why.
World of Warcraft listed as one of the 30 most offensive games - Fri, 09 Jan 2009 17:00:00 EST The conservative Christian investment firm, the Timothy Plan, has released a list of the 30 most offensive games on the market (Warning: link is to a PDF file). This list details the areas of sex, nudity, gay / lesbian, violence, cartoon violence, language, comic mischief, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, gambling, demonic, and game addiction as things that are against any "morally responsible" mutual fund to invest in.
In other words they don't want you to invest, like they don't, in companies that make games which deal with any of the above areas.
World of Warcraft is on the list. It has an overall score of a 9, which means it is half as offensive as Grand Theft Auto IV. According to the Timothy Plan, WoW is morally deficient in sex, violence, language, alcohol, and game addiction.
Some investors will take this advice, and that's their right to do so.
After the break we'll examine areas in which WoW is morally deficient, according to the Timothy Plan.
One of the more annoying things that has come about in Wrath of the Lich King is the ease at which you can be saved to an instance. It used to be that you were saved to a heroic or raid instance whenever you killed a boss or got loot.
Now if you more or less step in the place, you end up being saved to it.
This can cause a problem if someone in your group forgot that they already ran the instance or raid during the lockout period (a day for heroic instances, a week for all current raids). That person loads an already completed version of the instance. The place has all the trash, all the quirks, except for the bosses. You'll spend a half hour clearing to the first boss, only to discover that he's not there - he's already been killed. And oops, you're saved to the instance too.
"Epic fail," as has been yelled out on my vent when this happens.
Authentication server and official forums down [UPDATED x10] - Fri, 09 Jan 2009 16:15:00 EST As of 4 PM EST (WoW Insider's timezone), it seems that the authentication servers are down for the count. It's very likely this is related to the midday rolling restarts they were planning for many realms, but we don't know for sure at this point. Along with the login servers, the official forums are down as well. That's pretty expected, as the two generally go hand in hand.
How long will these two stay down? We don't really know, but hopefully it won't be terrible long. We're coming dangerously close to primetime, so I suspect that things might get worse before they get better if the authentication server doesn't come up within the next hour or so. Hopefully it will be solved much more quickly, though.
Keep an eye on this spot, and we'll let you know if we learn anymore. All updates will be behind the cut below.