In a series of pithy moments last week, Nethaera and Eyonix revealed the sad fate of the fearless crews. It wasn't, as Neth originally claimed, workplace safety hazards that caused the vendors to go AWOL. According to Eyonix, the sight of so many poledancing Blood Elves harrowed the seamen such that they were forced to plunge to icy depths and ultimately drown. Captain Placeholder, Eyonix jokes, is the human form of Deathwing.
I don't care if Eyonix disclaims two or three times that it was a joke -- for me, this is now lore and canon. Captain Placeholder is Deathwing, and I don't care what anyone else has to say about it. Clearly, he killed the boat crews to protect that secret. I fear for the fate of Eyonix for letting this spoiler into the public eye.
One of the most endearing new stories to be introduced into the Warcraft mythos by WoW is that of the Ashbringer, the blade of the Scarlet Highlord Mograine, which slew the Scourge by the hundreds and might have singlehandedly redeemed Azeroth, were it not for the treachery of his son, Renault. Unfortunately, beyond that and a little scene in Old Hillsbrad where we see the first steps of its creation, we don't really know much else of the story behind the fabled blade.
In September 2008, we'll learn a little bit more of it. On September 10th, DC Comics' Wildstorm division will release the first of a 4 issue miniseries that covers the history of the Ashbringer, both the sword and the wielder, Alexandros Mograine. The series is being written by Blizzard Creative Director Mickey Nielson, with art by Ludo Lullabi and Tony Washington. The first book will feature cover art by Chris Robinson, with a variant cover by Lullabi and Washington.
I know I'm excited. In fact, I think I'll call my local comics store now and make sure they'll carry it. Then again, I'm also a bit concerned. If this comic book gives us Ashbringer backstory that's important to WoTLK, does that mean they aren't releasing it until the series is done? I don't want to wait til 2009 to play a Death Knight, that's for sure!
Zarhym hasn't posted a lot yet, but he's starting to show some personality. He's passed out some Kool Aid toasts, but is sticking to the not-quite-canned language about class balancing and ongoing development that we've come to expect from CMs. We also know his first levelling experience to level 40 was a Gnome.
I haven't seen any of the existing CMs disappear, though. My guess is this staffing expansion is related to the upcoming game expansion you might have heard about. Not only are there more players coming around to WoW, but those players are going to be busy posting questions, analysis, and complaints. Zarhym will probably help the team address all that, without lessening their existing service. Good luck, mate!
Giving players some more race variants - Mon, 16 Jun 2008 18:00:00 EST I have to agree with Michael on WoW LJ: it would be nice to have a little more variance in the types of races that we choose at character creation. Of course, due to lore reasons, all the trolls we create are Darkspear Trolls, and likewise, all of our Taurens are of the Bloodhoof variety. But it would be nice to have a few more options, especially since we now know that some of the "foreign" tribes and clans might have a member or two interested in joining the Horde.
None of Michael's suggestions would really work -- the Taunka are almost a completely different race, the Forest Trolls can't be very happy that we've killed their leader, and neither the Dark Iron Dwarves or the Iron Dwarves are very friendly to either Horde or Alliance. But there are possible variants out there -- the Zanadalar tribe might have some members interested in joining the Horde, and certainly the Mag'har Orcs are friendly to players. Alliance doesn't have as many options come to mind, though all players are Bronzebeards, I believe, and surely the Stormpikes are Friendly by now.
We've got new hairstyles coming in the next expansion, of course, but it would be nice to vary up the races a little bit, and have even different backgrounds within the race choices. RPers would love it for sure, and even for other players, it would give a little more meaning and power to playing through the various racial areas in the game.
The perils of crossing water on a mount - Mon, 16 Jun 2008 17:00:00 EST This is something we've all dealt with: my Hunter is traipsing through Terrokar right now, and nothing makes me more frustrated than hitting those little rivers on my mount and having to dismount in water. When you think about it, the logical reasons for our mounts disappearing once we hit water are pretty sound -- you don't want that cat or wolf you worked so hard for to drown. But on the other hand, it's a huge annoyance -- not only does it slow you down while crossing the water, but you have to wait another second afterwards to resummon the mount.
Zarhym, the new CM, doesn't seem very empathetic, so odds are that this won't change anytime soon. We can only hope that in future designs, Blizzard stays away from putting the deeper water all over the landscape, where it acts as nothing but an annoying roadblock in front of our next quest. It's not like we don't have enough problems with the water as it is.
The author of "Warcraft and Other Hooha" read on the Lord of the Rings Online's site that there are taxidermists in game who will mount and show off your kills, and wondered why the same thing wasn't going on in Azeroth. It seems silly at first, but there's actually a lot of precedent -- they collected all the current taxidermy in Warcraft, and the case is pretty convincing. Clearly someone is stuffing and mounting animals in Azeroth.
Of course, as in LotRO, this is a feature that would go hand-in-hand with player housing, so we shouldn't expect to see one until we've gotten the other (and odds are that we won't see player housing anytime soon, though guild housing is another story). Not everybody would want dead animals adorning their walls (Druids probably wouldn't appreciate having that bear around), but what better way is there for you to show off what you've taken down out in the wild?
Every other week, computer security expert Jon Eldridge is your Azeroth Security Advisor. He will delve into the darkest reaches of computer security rumor and bring the facts back home even if they're wriggling at the end of a pike. His goal is to provide useful information to gamers who don't think about security much and flame fodder for those self appointed experts who need to rationalize the cost of their expensive certifications. Like any good security force he's a mercenary at heart and is happy to take subject requests from the user community that he serves. So feel free to leave a comment below or just sit back and enjoy the show.
It's Friday night at 6:45 pm server time. Your raid begins in 15 min and you think you're ready to go. Narrowly escaped another speeding ticket trying to get home from work in time? Check. Belly full of pizza? Check. Mind totally polluted on bad tasting energy drink? Ch3cK! Dog fed and walked? Check. TiVo recording the latest over hyped drivel? Check. Kids unconscious. Check. Parents or domestic partner unconscious or otherwise leaving you alone for one damn second? Check. When will they understand that you ARE being social by locking yourself in the computer room all night... jeez!
Time to rock and roll! Or not. What's this? A patch? On Friday night? Agony, shame and defeat. Azeroth will not know the terror of your blade this night. Gornak the mighty has been caged by some dweeb code monkey and their total POS patch system. Your raid leader is going to KILL you. Wait, what about downloading the patch from the Internet? Just Google up the patch number and let your cable modem download it at lightning speed right?
I have four level 70 characters that I've decided to level to 80, my two horde 70's (tauren warrior, orc shaman) and my draenei warrior and shaman. (I may or may not level my human warrior, and if I get my BE paladin to 70 by then, he'll be in the running to go the distance as well.) As a result, I'm playing catch up with them... making sure their professions are maxed, trying to make sure they have if not great gear than the best gear possible (I know it will be replaced, but doing those initial quests in the new zones is always easier with better gear), supplies of netherweave for when the new first aid comes out, that kind of thing. I was caught unaware the last time we had an expansion as far as what was needed to make things easier, I don't intend to be so caught again.
Tremallyn of Shu'halo is actually asking for scalable instances -- he says that if 10 and 25man groups are going to be playing the same instances in Northrend, why not scale those down to five man and even solo versions, so all players can get a chance to see the content? Bornakk replies that the rest of the game already is solo content, and that they want the endgame dungeons to be more exclusive. We've heard other good reasons before -- to tune an instance for every class, with all of their varied strengths and weaknesses, would require Blizzard to water down the instance so much that it wouldn't be nearly as dynamic an experience as you can have with a minimum 10 people in the party.
Not that it's impossible -- other games (I know of one in particular) have scalable instances, some of which are even tuned for one player. But at the same time, we play MMO games for a reason -- if you really just wanted to play a great single player experience, there are a wealth of single player games to choose from out there. And if you really want to do an instance solo, you could always just wait 10 levels and do it solo anyway.
The idea of mobile MMORPGs has come up before. Blizzard is on board with the idea of a mobile WoW interface of some sort, and have even hired mobile engineers and designers. Second Life has started down the path too. Still, for all the promise of being able to run Deadmines while you're stuck in the back of a car on a cross country drive, or churning out Netherweave Bags while you're waiting at the clinic for your semi-annual medical checkup, it seems like there's hurdles yet to overcome. The biggest one, of course, is getting a mobile device to pack enough power to render WoW's graphics and keep track of all the information that WoW needs to run.
Luckily, it looks like Intel and Comverse are on the case for us. The two companies have worked together to create a 3D streaming system that compiles and renders all the graphics and data of an MMORPG on a central server, then sends it to the mobile device. You can read their researcher's post about it on the Intel blog site. You can also see the process demonstrated with Second Life in the video above, although there's not really a good shot of the mobile device screen to show us how well it actually works, unfortunately.
Still, if they can get the technology working feasibly, it should definitely put us one giant step closer to a relatively full fledged mobile WoW client. When the day comes that we can grind dailies on our iPhones, it may be that we'll have Intel to thank.
Don't hold your breath, of course (this is Blizzard we're talking about) -- this would be after the current real-time strategy game is done, and Pardo says it would be "one of the the ideas on the table," so it's not exactly in the planning stages yet. But it's interesting to hear that Blizzard may still return to the Warcraft universe under the RTS banner -- we've seen such a different aspect of the world in the MMO, it would be very strange to go back to controlling these units from the top down.
Pardo also says that a console version of WoW is pretty much out of the question at this point -- if there is going to be a super-successful console MMO, it's not going to be World of Warcraft, as this game was designed for PC and has gone through so many iterations since that Blizzard isn't at all interested in trying a port. We are still waiting for that playable version of the Molten Core console game, though...
Update: Whoops, the interview is a bit old (Pardo said this last year). Still, news to me that Blizzard might bring RTS back into the Warcraft universe, but considering that Starcraft II doesn't even have a rumored release date yet, we're going to be waiting a long, long time.
The Spore report: Murloc sightings - Mon, 16 Jun 2008 13:00:00 EST It won't be long until you'll be able to hear the lilting sound of "mgrlllmgrlrrr" across the universe. Spore, the new game from The Sims' Will Wright, which involves creating a species from a single living cell and evolving it all the way through space colonization, is growing murlocs. The official release of Spore's Creature Creator isn't due until Tuesday, June 17, but somehow it broke free early, giving WoW players an early start in trying to create their favorite Azerothian creatures.
We got a peek at some of these creations. The little guy to the right was created by a Spore user named Saphirus. If you check the Sporepedia, you'll find some more murloc attempts -- including one by WoW Radio's Duncor. There's even an odd attempt at a kodo (you wouldn't know it except from the description) and a strange looking crocolisk.
The year is 2008. Social networking and media attention have peaked among World of Warcraft characters. Jaina and Kael'thas enjoy a brief relationship, which would be the subject of speculation among their peers on MySpace and print magazines. When one of them can't let go, will they be able to move on? This may sound like a short story to you, but believe it or not, it's Gnomechewer's latest machinima.
If you were reading WoW Insider over the weekend, you might have noticed a couple of rather depressing posts. Adam talked about when you should make the personal decision to stop raiding. Then Jennie talked about the reasons why raiding guilds break up. I might as well continue the trend, but at least I have the excuse of a reader's e-mail. Last week I addressed the problems that small guilds will face in the coming months. This week, by request, I'm going to look at larger, hardcore guilds. And I'll also examine a nasty stereotype in the community that continues to proliferate.
I am in this guild for the past 2 years of my WOW experience. This is my first guild, and my only guild so far. The atmosphere was friendly when I first joined it to join my real life schoolmates, hoping to down boss and experience content together. But a couple of drama and event took place, and my friends all quit the game which they felt was taking too much of their time. The original management when I joined all left the game due to other real life commitments and burnouts from over-WOW-ed. So with a twist of fate I took over the role of Guildmaster. The other veterans in the guild has other reasons that forbid them from taking the helm. And so I begun my quest to reform the dying guild in the dying server. We are a guild with predominantly Asian players, but we welcome western players too. But apparently playing in a US server meant you always have to being abused at for being Asian. Some people just cannot differentiate Chinese Farmer and general normal Asian players. And so I have been working for the past 6 months trying to recruit new blood into the guild and keeping the raiders around. We finally managed to down Rage Winterchill only in the past 2 weeks, after the top end guild in our server's endless poaching of our raiders to warm their bench . . . And a few other core raiders announcing their quitting of the game soon. And now I feel I don't enjoy WOW the same anymore. It's no longer the same for me.
I guess it really is different on RP servers. On my PvP home, this tauren would have been sliced, diced, made into burgers and served up in the Gilded Rose by now. But apparently Jurgi of <Cadia> on Lightninghoof can get away with walking into the Stormwind Cathedral and pledging his services to the Light. Of course, Jurgi isn't a taurenadin -- just a human engineer who got a little too close to a transporter. I guess the inhabitants of Stormwind have gotten better at detecting other races in disguise.
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!
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Welcome to today's edition of Ask WoW Insider, in which we publish your questions for dissection by the peanut gallery -- now with extra snark and commentary by one of our writers. This week Urdunai writes in:
Hey WoW Insider,
This week I have a question about rolling, as in /roll, and the proper use of it. I was recently on a run of Zul'Farrak with my Shaman, a guildmate Fury Warrior, a Healadin, and a Tankadin. The 2 *adins were dating or some such, I'm not sure but it's important to the story. The run had been going really well, and everyone was being very polite on loot drops. Whenever a Blue item would drop everyone would pass and we would discuss it. This is generally not a practice I approve of (The Need and Greed buttons are there for a reason, blizzard was nice enough to provide them) but that was the group's consensus so I kept my mouth shut and did it.
So like Alex, I figure I probably have a few more alts than your average player. I have 3 level 70s, 3 more characters above level 60, and a few more at various levels of play. I even started a new shaman just this past week, just because I decided I had a really cool character concept for a female Orc shaman.
Anyhow, I've been playing the shaman quite a bit, and I've actually not been twinking her at all, enjoying the challenge of starting a character from scratch and making sure I still have my mojo despite getting all fat and sassy from all that easy daily money from Sunwell Isle. WoW's done a pretty decent job of keeping the lower level game easy enough for characters, but there's a couple things I've noticed while playing that still feel like they need some work. If I could highlight one, it would be the complete lack of Shaman trainers in Lordaeron.
Welcome to Ask a Lore Nerd, the column that answers your questions about the story and lore of the Warcraft universe. Click the Comments link below, ask your question, and blogger/columnist Alex Ziebart will answer you in a future installment! Travis asks...
What can you tell me about the other portals around Outlands (the only one that springs to mind right now is the one in Zangarmarsh)? They look just like the one you get to Outlands through, but are just standing there doing nothing.
Answer: Those portals were once used by the Burning Legion and their lackies to travel between Outland and various other worlds. Those portals were also used to send Legion reinforcements to Outland. Before Illidan and his posse usurped Magtheridon, they went around shutting down these portals to prevent Magtheridon from being reinforced. Further, they've been kept closed so Kil'jaeden can't come stomping back into Outland to punish Illidan for not being able to kill the Lich King.
When you decide to roleplay, a whole new world of imagination opens up to you -- soon you realize that all the World of Warcraft is a stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players.
There are degrees to roleplaying. Some people like it "light," so that it never gets too intense, you never have to actually "work" to make your character profound or lore-worthy, and it's generally just a fun way to pass some time. Others like it "heavy;" they view their characters as works of art, taking special care to make their characters believable and interesting, and sometimes planning special roleplaying events for their guild to enjoy. Some even try to do everything in-character, from repairing armor to marking out targets with raid symbols.
Recently I joined just such a full-immersion roleplaying guild, and have been trying out their particular style. To be fair, I still have a number of friends on my server that I usually speak out-of-character with, because that's what we're used to, but for everyone in this guild, I do my best to stay in character at all times, with everything my character says and does. To some this may seem like an unnecessary pain, but to others it's a fun experience. Here are a few of the advantages and disadvantages of this type of roleplaying.
MLG's PC Circuit Arena competition has come to an end, after an exciting weekend of coverage by GotFrag. The final round came down to a best of eleven showdown between Frag Dominant and Nihilum, first to six wins. Frag Dominant's Rogue/Warrior/Druid managed to get the best of Nihilum's Priest/Druid/Hunter after a grueling contest that never had a clear winner until the very end. After the first eight matches, they were tied at an even 4-4.
The Nihilum team's aggresive nature seemed to get the better of them when Frag Dominant caught onto their playstyle. More than once it appeared to me that their Hunter was left open to FD's double melee burst when the Nihilum Priest and Druid shifted their attention to take out Frag Dominant's healer. Nihilum's healers being focused on downing Frag's own forced them into reactive healing rather than proactive, and the deaths of their Hunter throughout the contests ultimately lead to their downfall. Very well played by Frag Dominant.
The tournament was definitely a good watch, and the highlight of my day was my roommate shouting obscenities about drainteams. WoW arena tournaments don't quite have the strangely entertaining glitz and glamour of Starcraft tournaments yet, but it's only a matter of time. I'm fairly confident that I'll tune in for the Circuit's tournament in Orlando on July 11th, and many others after that.