Now personally, I don't like theirs compared to MMO-Champion, World of Raids, or WoWRaid. All those have a nice layout that allows for quick viewing and easy summaries of posts. It's much preferable to the "tool" Blizzard has put up.
Additionally, the Blizzard blue tracker lacks an RSS feed and the ability to search through the posts.
It's clear that Blizzard did this to dissuade the use of third party blue trackers and other sites.
Our friends at The Guild made an ingame appearance the other day, but not in our game -- they showed up as avatars in Second Life as part of a talk show called the Copper Robot. Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh (Zaboo), and Jeff Lewis (Vork) all stopped by to talk to journalist Mitch Wagner (whom I met on the TUAW Talkcast last night), and you can watch video of the proceedings over on their blog, or just listen in to the audio if you'd like. And there's news about season 3 in the interview -- it should be happening, though Felicia says they haven't gotten "an official pickup" yet, and she hasn't started writing yet. The season 2 DVD is also coming soon.
What's perhaps most interesting about this interview is that the Guildies all used custom-made avatars to appear in the game. Second Life, if you've never played it, is more of a sandbox MMO than the strict rules and design of World of Warcraft, and players have mostly complete freedom to make themselves look like whatever they want. And so a few fans from a site called World2Worlds actually made some avatars for the Guild folks, and they based them off of the (also fan-made) art of the characters. We've never seen footage of "the game," as the characters in The Guild call it, so this is the first time we've seen these avatars represented in any game. Very interesting. The show has a Flickr group, so if you want to check out more shots of what they looked like in-game (including some nutty Vork antics), check that out as well.
Aurdon over at I Sheep Things spotted this great collection of comparisons between real-life environs and the in-game places that they inspired. Not all of the comparisons are pitch-perfect, obviously (there are no Nagrand-esque floating islands in the real world, and the Crystalsong Forest picture shows trees covered in ice rather than the mystical wood that grows in-game), but lots of the pictures are really dead-on, and they show you really well how Blizzard uses a kind of hyper-realized version of Earth to create what seems like a very real Azeroth.
We've posted before how the architecture of WoW mirrors real-world places and culture, but even the natural world of Azeroth uses lots of Earth's real-life elements. And it would be cool to know where these pictures actually come from -- some of them are recognizable (obviously, Stranglethorn Vale is based on parts of the Amazon, and The Barrens represents Africa's savannahs), but even Icecrown and Zangarmarsh are represented (in slightly less mythical form) on Earth. It would be interesting to know exactly where.
On the podcast last Saturday, our friend NinthBatter (maker of the WI Song's machinima) gave us an on-scene report from the PETA event that took place earlier in the day. As you might expect, it was chaos -- while PETA's plan was to roll Alliance and attack a few Horde bad guys, lots of folks rolled Horde instead, and started up a guild called the "Seal Cub Clubbing Club." Many, many seals died, as you can see in the few pictures below.
And perhaps most hilariously, people brought plenty of Great Feasts to lay out for the crowd, which means that right in all of the (supposedly) animal-saving action, there was plenty of roast pig to eat. Not exactly the best day for PETA, but what did they expect? They did, however, get quite a few media mentions, so it was probably mission accomplished over there anyway.
Did you go to the event? If you've got more pictures of what happened, or even some video of what went down, let us know and we'll add them to the gallery below.
Every week, Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host today is Alex Ziebart who doesn't have as many cool links to plug up here as Matticus does but will try anyway. This week we get our Shadowform on..
Dual specs are coming, probably only a week away, and I suspect that many Holy and/or Discipline Priests out there will be picking up a Shadow build as their second spec. Priests, like most classes, can have many little build variations to fit your playstyle: Raiding, soloing, doing Battlegrounds, doing arenas, all of that. I'm going to look at a couple of good PvE specs to use in patch 3.1, but unfortunately avoiding the PvP specs for you arena junkies in our audience. Trust me, you don't want to take my advice there. Discipline PvP maybe, but not Shadow.
PvE Shadow - Raiding MMO-Champion has a great tool for setting up talent specs, because you can include your glyphs as well, so we're going to be using that. This spec (14/0/57) will be a fairly cookie-cutter raiding build in patch 3.1, with only very minor variations from person to person. The Shadow tree isn't a very complicated one. Either a talent boosts your DPS, or it does something else. For a raiding spec, you want all of the DPS talents and you can skip all of the 'something else' talents unless they're mandatory for a DPS talent. It's pretty straightforward. Even in the Discipline tree the ultimate goal is to pick up the DPS talents, Twin Disciplines and Improved Inner Fire. Meditation isn't a direct DPS talent, but having no mana is certainly a DPS hit.
It's time again for Blood Pact, your weekly Warlock column, detailing the dastardly deeds of Warcraft's demonologists! Nick Whelan returns once again this week, to finish what he started. And this time, it's personal!
Last week, I wrote a column filled with tips for Naxx-10. Specifically, tips for Warlocks, because that's who Blood Pact is written for. But my list ended up being so long that I was only able to write about the Spider and Plague wings of Naxx before the article started to feel a little bloated. So I chopped it in half, and now it's time to conclude our tour of the dread citadel with the more difficult sections of the instance: the Construct, Military, and Frost wings!
I've covered account sharing before. I gave some details about Blizzard's policies on it and how it could affect your guild. This week, I received an e-mail from someone who found out that an officer of the guild he was applying to shared the account with his girlfriend. He's wondering if he may have overreacted to the situation.
I have a question about guild relations (both as part of leadership and as a member) with regard to people sharing account info.
I've always had a very strict stance on account sharing, driven by three concerns: it's against the ToS, it opens up guilds to things like guild bank theft, and it breaks the idea that when I whisper a character, I know who I'm talking to (or at least that it's the same entity from session to session).
In my relations with guilds, this had lead to considerable friction with other people. As an officer, if I ever see account sharing going on on a member who has access to our guild bank, I demote them and all their alts to a rank without such access. When I talk with the other officers about this, they typically don't see the issue. In some cases, I've found out that other officers have shared account info themselves, between siblings or friends, and don't see it as an issue.
Selserene actually released In For A Penny: Part Two "The Thorne of Rose Streeet" this past Friday. Since Moviewatch runs only during the week, we were faced with a dilemma. Do we feature this work immediately, to get the good news out to everyone as soon as possible? Or, wait until Monday, when the most readers would be available to see Selserene's movie? After enjoying the twenty minute installment, your intrepid Moviewatch team had their answer. We wanted to get it in front of as many people as possible. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- should have the opportunity to see this series.
If you haven't seen In For A Penny's prologue or first chapter, you might want to take the time to do so. I'm not sure it's necessary, since there's enough thematic information in this episode that you get the gist of what's happening. The beauty of Selserene's noir piece is that the genre really informs the story. Selserene displays a love of the film noir genre, but not because of the black-and-white composition. A significant factor of the noir genre is the lack of "good guys." Relatively few of the protagonists are completely noble in their motivation, and Selserene's characters seem similarly complex.
And the mysterious Draenei woman? Totally for the win. I enjoy a lot of Selserene's imagery in this, even if I'm not a big blood elf fan. I think the luxury and decadence inherent in the scenery helps underscore some of IFAP's themes. (Corruption, evil, desperation -- yanno, noir stuff.)
WoW Insider Show Episode 85: Appeasing the Ret Monkey - Mon, 13 Apr 2009 11:30:00 EST A good time was had as always on last weekend's WoW Insider Show -- Adam Holisky kindly stepped into the broadcasting booth with Turpster and I, and we answered some emails (including whether it's OK to give cloth drops to leather wearers, as long as it's an upgrade, and more on which tanking class is the best to take with you), and talked turkey on the biggest stories in the World of Warcraft. We chatted about what might be in store for the next content patch and expansion, what's up with WoW's numbers still going up, and what's new with Wintergrasp in 3.1. We also had a straight-from-the-scene report about the PETA event -- stay tuned for more about that later today.
And we got some interesting Ret Monkey pictures -- the one to the right is by Hydralol of EU Magtheridon, and the other one in the gallery below is by Abbort from Hellscream. Both of these, and any other pictures that you can come up with of the Ret Monkey or any of us who work on the show can be eligible for our Fan Art contest, so enter that if you'd like.
Finally, we have rounded 6,000 followers on our Twitter account, and we're headed to 9,000 -- as we say on the show, it would be great if we could hit that by our 100th show, and combine everything into one big party-down spectacular. So tell your twitterfriends, especially those interested in WoW, to give us a follow. They (and you) won't regret it.
Get the podcast: [iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes. [RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator. [MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Last month, Blizzard released a new add-on development policy. There were several contentious points in it; notably, authors can no longer charge money for add-ons, nor can they solicit donations in-game (asking for donations on web sites is still OK). In-game advertising is also not allowed.
In the wake of the announcement, the authors of several popular mods announced that they would no longer be developing and/or distributing their addons, while other addons (Carbonite being a notable example) are switching to an entirely free model.
The news today is that Blizzard is giving a 60-day grace period for developers to comply with the new model. That's 60 days from the release of the new add-on policy, which was March 20. So everyone has until May 19 to get their ducks in a row and stop charging for addons, showing ads, or asking for donations in-game. People found violating the policy after May 19 will be "contacted directly" by Blizzard and, I assume, asked politely to stop.
Andres writes in, "Ahhh, the gorgeous sunset of Stranglethorn. It's nice to view. Right before you're ganked trying to make it towards the Zandalar tribe. Don't stand idle for too long staring off into the distance. That sound? Wasn't the wind. Best be on your way." In before "I thought you said no more sunsets!" The rules have changed, my friends, and we can all use a little sun occasionally.
Do you have any unusual, beautiful 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.
Breakfast Topic: Virtual Pets - Mon, 13 Apr 2009 08:00:00 EST 3.1 is looming ever closer and most of the players who aren't storming Ulduar are probably going to be hitting Icecrown for the Argent Tournament thanks to the promise of new mounts and, of course, the zone-specific pets!
Now I love pets, I once gave a guildmate all my gold and asked him to go all the way to Netherstorm to get me a Blue Dragonhawk Hatching. Admittedly, I don't have that many and while I normally whip out Frosty or Mini Tyrael when we're in instances, I'm usually found exploring Azeroth with a much simpler pet, my Orange Tabby Cat.
It seems like most of the WoW Insider staff - bar Alex and his roomba thingy - have pets and until two months ago, I had an ancient orange kitty called Jerry (known universally and beloved as The Ginger One). Sadly I had to put him to sleep but being followed by a virtual cat makes me wish we had more personalisation options in game.
Hunters can name and feed their pets but why can't we do the same with our non combat ones? Yes we can brush them, put them on leads and play ball but it's not really the same thing is it? At the same time because I now have a pair of cats, I'd love to be able to summon several kitty minions who would follow me into battle.
Anyway, here's a morning question for you: do you have virtual forms of your real world pets? If yes, do you have a particular one? If you don't, is there a particular non-combat pet you'd like to have? Would you like just one? How about many?
So, you're a roleplayer. You may be a deep immersionist, an escapist, or a light roleplayer. But, for whatever reason, you've decided now is your time to go that extra mile. You're not only enjoying what roleplay has to offerbut you now want to gather up a group of roleplayers to interact all at once. And you don't just mean in the same Guild. You want to gather them in a single in-game location, at a single in-game time, and all play together. You want to host your own roleplay event.
A lot of the best roleplay events happen spontaneously. The best roleplay event I've recently intended was entirely accidental. Three or four folks were squatting in front of the Eventide bank in Dalaran, chillin' on their riding bears while waiting for the next instance. I thought it was funny, and parked my own white riding bear next to them. And then someone else did. And someone else. Within a few moments, there was a horde of forty or so bears walking through Dalaran. Someone asked "WTF are you guys doing?" Thinking fast, the leader of the procession said "This is an in-character mourning parade, in honor of the fallen Alliance hero." I can't say the name of that hero for fear of spoilers, but I'm sure the readers of ATWAS get the idea. It was awesome, and spontaneous. But that's not usually how events happen.
Usually, someone has to invest time, effort, and even money into formulating the idea, building the event and agenda, and then executing the whole shebang. And don't think that a successful roleplay event doesn't take a lot of time. You'll get out of your event what you put into it. So, let's take a moment this week and talk about what you can do to build your own successful roleplay event.
With Patch 3.1 looming ever closer (there's a good bet it comes out this Tuesday or the next, but I won't promise to eat a hat it if it doesn't), it's time to examine just how the content will affect our favorite class. The patch is huge, with new features and a massive raid dungeon that should keep us all busy for at least a few months before everyone starts whining about having nothing to do. Except those freaks in Ensidia, maybe, who'll be paid to finish all the content in -- oh -- 27 minutes or something.
For the rest of us, it'll be a brave new world and a time to relearn a few things. First off, we'll all be getting free respecs, which is good because the talent trees have changed considerably, particularly Protection and a bit of Retribution. Holy didn't get shaken up too much, but it did get a solid nerfing, so some Holy Paladins might want to ditch the tree for something else. Or not. Patch 3.1 will also introduce Dual Specs, which will allow players to have two different, toggleable talent trees for the special price of 1,000 Gold. So yeah, Holy Paladins can grumpily keep being Holy with the option to switch to another spec like a Transformer. I suppose the best way to go about this is to look at what's in store for Paladins per spec, so let's get right to it.
With Ulduar due to hit in the near future, Tales of a Priest addressed a pretty timely subject for 25-man raiders yesterday with a blog post on Val'anyr and how you're going to assign it. As it's a constructed Legendary like Atiesh rather than being a dropped item like the Warglaives and Thori'dal (sudden thought: why do the caster Legendaries have to be assembled, whereas the melee/ranged Legendaries just drop?), you're going to have to put some time and thought into which one of your healers is going to get this baby first.
It's not exactly the world's most comfortable question for a guild leader, but I like how Derevka lays the issue out so matter-of-factly, and then goes on to address an interesting point concerning Val'anyr's proc. Your ideal candidate is a good healer with great attendance who plans on hanging around for a while, but then there's the question -- which class gets the most use out of the proc?
I worked at Blizzard for close to three years. During my time there I saw a lot of big things happen: the closing of the Console Division and shelfing of Starcraft Ghost, the launch of the first (and second!) World of Warcraft expansion ... and one that some people say is the biggest event in Blizzard's history, Vivendi Games' merger with Activision.
The merger was, of course, a controversial move; and, like any corporate maneuver, it's generated a lot of misunderstandings, misreporting, misinformation ... in general, it's been a flurry of mis-es. It's upsetting and frustrating to see so many people not understand what the merger means and, in turn, form stubborn opinions.
If you want to help curb ignorance and misunderstanding regarding what's going on with the merger, you're in luck. My former employment at Blizzard means I have a lot of information to share to set the record straight. Even if you're going to continue believing that Blizzard is somehow dipping in quality or in a bad way because of the merger, at least read what I have to say. It'll be worth it.
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.
Jason writes in about leveling gear for the playtime-challenged:
As a casual WoW player, I find myself completely overwhelmed when it comes to getting gear for my Paladin. I keep hearing about greens, blues, purples...how certain equipment can get you laughed out of guilds. I'm level 55 and have never gone on a raid, and honestly never intend to. How can the average casual gamer know what equipment to pursue, though? Logically, the best stuff would come from the end-game content, but since most casual gamers don't head in that direction, it can be very intimidating to figure out what "good" gear really is.
Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated.
There really is a huge difference between gear required for leveling and gear required for raiding, heroic instances or hardcore PvP. You absolutely do not have to be a gear expert until you want to participate in endgame instances, so don't get too stressed out about it. Following is a guide for collecting the best gear while casually leveling your character -- or as in my case, characters.
Raid Rx has returned from retirement! Every week, Raid Rx will help you quarterback your healers to victory! Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new WoW blog for all things UI, macro, and addon related. Ulduar is almost here! Are you prepared?
The patch for Ulduar is imminent. There's no release date yet. Personally I believe it will land sometime this month. Healing assignments has just gotten more complicated. Incoming damage is more than what's currently in the game. To cap it all off, mana regen's been slightly nerfed.
So here's a quick summary of what to expect and how to counteract for it. I've participated in some of the normal mode Ulduar raids and a few heroic mode Ulduar raids. It's tough. The level of complexity and effort required is somewhere along the pre-nerf Hyjal and Black Temple days.