15 Minutes of Fame is our look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes - from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.
Daedren (not his former WoW character's name) ruffled more than a few feathers with an internet "confessional" (was it, really?) last week about his experiences botting in World of Warcraft. (To "bot," a term that comes from the word "robot," is to use a third-party program to play the game for you.) He initially declined an interview with 15 Minutes of Fame but was back in touch a few days later, after the comments and reaction began piling on.
With a measured, reasonable approach (somewhat at odds with the abrasive tone he takes with commenters on his blog), Daedren visits with us about botting. Is botting a blot on the soul of gaming humanity or a benign, time-saving technique for busy gamers? Read Daedren's post to learn what his botted characters were up to in WoW, then join us after the break to learn why his botting post was actually a farewell "ode to WoW."
Earlier today Blizzard posted a preview of Ulduar, the tier 8 raid coming up in patch 3.1 (which they promise will be on the PTRs "very soon"). Most of it looks really cool - 14 bosses, massive rooms, hard modes. However, there is one topic that Blizzard enthused about that really worries me: vehicle combat.
We've already seen some vehicle-based boss fights in Eregos (the final boss of the Oculus) and on the third phase of the Malygos fight. But Ulduar is, apparently, going to take it one step farther: there will be a vehicle-combat gauntlet leading up to the first boss, Flame Leviathan, and that boss itself will also be a vehicle fight, with players picking among three vehicles (Chopper, Demolisher, and Siege Engine) to command.
Blue poster Vaneras over at the European forums announced that registration for the 2009 World of Warcraft Arena tournament is officially open in Europe. Aratil made a similar announcement for US players a few hours after. They remind all players that participants in the tournament, which follows a 3v3 format, will get the chance to obtain an armored murloc pet or the the exclusive "Vanquisher" title for their characters on live realms. Successful participants will earn slots in live invitational tournaments and a shot at the $75,000 grand prize.
According to the tournament FAQ, which contains many of the important details, players must play 200 rated matches with one character on the same team within the qualifying period in order to obtain the Armored Murloc pet for their live characters. Meanwhile, players looking to earn the Vanquisher title (for live characters Level 71 and above only) must finish in the top 1,000 teams at the end of the online qualifier. Registration for the tournament, slated to start on February 25, costs $20 or 15 Euro.
Wrath delayed in China - Tue, 17 Feb 2009 17:00:00 EST As excited as the Chinese community may be with the imminence of Wrath of the Lich King -- it was on the covers of most gaming magazines in the past months -- WoW players in China are going to have to wait just a bit longer for the latest expansion. According to a report, World of Warcraft China distributor The9 plan to delay the release of the expansion until March or April after initial plans to launch on February 19.
The delay would be due to a "policy supervision" and it's likely that the launch will come after the National People's Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), both of which happen on the first week of March. The report also said that the game's fame -- as well as recent bad press about Blizzard -- was also to blame, subjecting it to greater scrutiny.
Some rumors state that The9 is delaying the release of the game in order to speed up negotiations with Blizzard, who wish to have more control over server groups and other issues. Both companies are also reportedly in disagreement over monetary issues, although The9 denied the news. The9 President Xiaowei Chen has stated in the past that the contract would be renewed in June.
Secondly, Ulduar will not be tested like a normal instance. The testing will be in phases and only happen according to the schedule Blizzard lays out. They'll announce times when certain bosses will be available for testing, and that means that only during those times will those bosses be open for play. This also means that Ulduar will initially be closed on the PTR.
But think for a moment about what this does - it means that we won't be seeing strategies and other guides immediately available upon release of the patch (or in most cases before the patch). It means that world firsts will actually mean something again, and it won't just be a rush to see who can log onto the server first.
And the biggest of these is that the service is now free. Instead of charging users, they plan to support a limited number of registrants (for March, when they begin, they're opening up 150 spots), and when downtime or queues occur for those registrants, they'll be given "YPOWP credits," which apparently will be used either towards compensation or towards "contest prizes," which will update every month. They've got some new stats on the front page, too, including the realms with the most calculated downtime, and how many compensation and contest prizes they've given out every month.
Very interesting. From the beginning, the founders have made it clear that they didn't want to scam anyone (they told us as much in our interview), and they now say that not one person has been charged a cent for compensation. This new model, however, seems much more fair -- there's no cost up front for people who register, even if the "compensation" might not be worth as much as the cash they originally promised. What do you think of the new plan?
The mantra is stuck in your head like a mind worm as you wipe the sleep from your eyes. You look around in a daze and realize that you're back near your home in your neighborhood's bar, A Hero's Welcome, sitting at table being served a drink by Marcella.
"What time is it?" you ask the waitress. Your voice is rough and you need a drink to wash away the night's forced sleep.
"It just rang 11 not a short time ago, mighty Warrior," she replies. Placing a large flagon of mead in front of you, the smell of the hops fills your nose with a promise of further adventure tonight. But something doesn't feel right; it's almost as if the wizards of Azeroth have not released everyone from their sleeping spell.
The forums are abuzz with warriors who are not happy with the state of protection spec warriors compared to the other three tanking classes. Ghostcrawler responds to a post fishing for blues, both to discourage such fishing and to state that the original premise is not one that he and the developers agree with. And to a degree, I agree with him. Warrior tanks are not majorly inferior in any way to the other tanking classes. They're simply slightly inferior in every way to the other tanking classes. This slight inferiority in specialization means that, if given a choice, a min-maxing raid guild will always choose other tanks over warriors, even though the warrior has all the tools needed to tank current end-game content effectively and well.
Warriors still lack the paladin's AoE threat, while paladins have equal single target threat (indeed, paladins at this point gear almost identically to warrors, have a shield slam equivalent and even use the same tanking itemized weapons) and survivability, while paladins have a tanking buff in Blessing of Sanctuary that no min-maxing raid leader will want to do without. Warriors lack the high health of a bear tank or the speed of threat generation, are roughly equivalent in AoE tanking capacity, and a prot warrior simply still cannot match the bear's ability to switch to cat for DPS purposes if the druid is not needed for tanking. Warriors are also behind DK's in AoE threat (due to the DK's excellent use of diseases + Death and Decay), roughly equivalent in survivability thanks to a DK's wide assortment of cooldowns depending on spec (My blood tank uses Icebound Fortitude, Mark of Blood, Vampiric Blood, and Rune Tap quite frequently while tanking) and again a DK is superior to a warrior in her or his ability to step into a DPS role when not needed as a tank.
So what, you might rightly ask? Warriors are generally number two in everything, making them the best all purpose generalist tanks in the game. They can do AoE tanking, single target threat, have great survivability, DPS is greatly improved from BC, why does it matter if some other tanking class is slightly better in one or two aspects of the tanking game?
We've been waiting not-very-patiently for news on Ulduar and patch 3.1, and the WoW EU website certainly delivered today. A preview for Ulduar has been posted, with some descriptions of the early raid encounters and a little more lore flavor for the zone itself. The very beginning of the preview gives a little setup for the zone: "Some thought it a city, built to herald the glory of its makers; some thought it a vault containing innumerable treasures, perhaps even relics of the mighty Titans themselves. They were wrong. Beyond its gates lies no city, no treasure vault, no final answer to the Titan's mysteries. All that awaits those who dare set foot in Ulduar is a horror even the Titans could not, would not destroy, an evil they merely... contained."
Awesome? I would say so. The preview also drives the point home that Blizzard is really loving the hard mode options of encounters. 11 out of 14 encounters will have a hard mode (or modes), so your raid can determine what they can handle. I don't want to get too excited about the preview, I'd like to see the zone in person before I get giddy, but it does sound damn cool and the pictures they supply are very pretty. Go forth and devour their bandwidth, my friends.
Yes, The Guild season 2 finale is out now on MSN Video and Xbox Live, and it's a good one. There's revelations, revenges, an epic battle, and even some spiritual reflection on Vork's part. And it's probably fair to say that after this episode, The Guild will never be the same.
We'll be watching, as usual, and we'll bring you news of the third season when we hear it. It's safe to say this season and the big Microsoft experiment turned out to be a big success (despite a few complaints about the exclusivity), so hopefully we'll hear more on what's next soon.
BlizzCon 2009 will be held from Friday August 21st through Saturday August 22nd at the Anaheim Convention Center outside of Los Angeles, CA. This year's BlizzCon will feature an expanded space, going from three conventions halls to four. This is no doubt due to the extreme demand for tickets last year. The announcement is present on the press release section of Blizzard's EU site.
This year's BlizzCon will feature:
Hands-on play time with upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games
Discussion panels with Blizzard Entertainment developers
Competitive and casual tournaments for players to showcase their talents
Community contests with great prizes
Commemorative merchandise based on Blizzard Entertainment's game universes
A silent auction
More exciting activities and attractions to be announced
And to clarify a few things: there is no announcement about the mysterious unannounced MMO that Jeff Kaplan is now working on, and there is no announcement about the third expansion. At least no announcements yet.
Ticketing information is not available at this time. As soon as we have any information on ticket prices, availability, and methods of purchase, we'll let you know.
I wasn't originally going to cover The Achiever - Rapid Defense by Origano because it had a fundamental flaw. (I'll touch on that in a second.) However, the machinima kept coming up in the suggestion box and elsewhere, so I thought I would go ahead and put it out there for our readers to comment upon. This review will touch on the video's sound and video separately, for an obvious reason.
The movie is about a chap who enters a kind of reality-TV show. He competes for fabulous prizes by completing objectives. The thing is, though, I mostly gleaned that from the video's description and guessing from what happened in the video. The voice track was almost impossible for me to understand, even cranking the volume all the way up. I tried it on a couple different computers, and just had a hell of a time making anything out.
It's a shame, because the video looks pretty good. I like the framing and the basic premise of what I saw. But I did have to rely on what I saw. Grading the imagery alone, I'd give the machinima high marks. It's only when the audio is accounted for that I think the movie got derailed.
So, that being said, I hope Origano revisits with a cleaner voice track. The Achiever looks like it could be awesome, but we've got to be able to hear what people are saying.
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.
Reader Patrick commented recently that I was a doofus (well, no, he didn't actually say that but I sort of felt like one after he pointed out what I missed out on) and that I should mention how dual specs will eliminate the tank or healer shortage. With players who play classes that can tank or heal able to spec freely between either of the two, will this sufficiently eliminate the lack of healers or tanks for instances?
Even with the addition of a new tanking class, there are many occasions where players find themselves looking for a tank. With the great improvements to hybrid class' DPS, it's also been just as hard -- maybe even harder -- to find healers for groups. It's extremely common to see healing-capable classes spec for DPS like Retribution Paladins, Enhancement (or even Elemental) Shamans, and Balance or Feral Druids. The question then is if the option were available, would these players choose healing or tanking as another spec? It seems almost certain that players who can will spec either to tank or heal as their other spec in order to easier find accommodation in groups.
Are dual specs really the answer to the perceived tank or healer shortage? Ghostcrawler mentioned that the healer shortage was due to players not yet hitting 80 and were using leveling (i.e. DPS) builds. But now that more players are at max level, we still seem to see the same class roles being sought after in the public channels. The truth is, if players don't enjoy healing -- or tanking, for that matter -- they won't necessarily spec for it. Even if they did, they probably won't appreciate being pigeonholed into the role more often than they're allowed to play the spec they truly enjoy. While the new feature of Patch 3.1 will open up options for players, will it be enough?
How great is this? Reader angrypanda a.k.a. Joshua links us to this update on his Livejournal, in which he shows off the awesome set of gifts his wife got him for Valentine's Day. It's a romantic gift basket, with everything, from the chocolates to the Linen Bag itself, marked out with WoW-style tooltips. Everything looks authentic, too -- there's a Bag of Candies, Dark Desire (looks like the hit rating bonus got nerfed for the RL version, though), and even a Moonberry Juice. And there's a "Jox (Horde) Shou" handmade craft in there, too -- those are their character names, Jox and Lykishou.
Joshua says he and his wife have been married nearly 15 years, and they weren't planning to do much this year (or so he thought -- here's hoping they had a very nice dinner and movie later that evening). Very awesome. Because the Livejournal seems to be hidden behind a content filter of some kind, we've put all of Joshua's pics in a gallery below so you can see everything all in one place. What a terrific Valentine's Day gift.
For the latest entry in our series of the ongoinginteriordecoratingatrocities of Azeroth, we have this painting from A Heroes' Welcome in Dalaran. At first glance, it looks like a simple picture of tuskarr whalers in action. However, as submitter Ulftar of <Spartan Forces> on Azuremyst pointed out, that's no ordinary whale. It is made ... entirely out of meat. Look at the cross-section! It has no internal organs, other than the ones that are hung up on the line. It is basically made of t-bone steaks. Gross.
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.
I'm pretty sure I've seen this meme before, on the SomethingAwful forums, replacing Arthas with Homer Simpson, but the results are still pretty hilarious. Elbonio's been kind enough to compile a gallery of the kid-tested, mother-approved images that resulted from the experiment.
If you get your mom or significant other to do it, but don't have an EU forum account, feel free to post it in the comments below and I'll assemble them for laughs at a later date.
What are you waiting for? Go ask! But be nice, because after all, she's your mum.
I know, I know, raids is raids, but I'm getting pretty tired of Naxx, and I want a nice long raid to sink my teeth into. New strats to learn! Setting a course through uncharted territory! Wiping because we don't know the fight yet! I'm just so excited.
Of course, the one thing we haven't found out about Ulduar yet is who the heck we're killing for their purples! Being a reasonable man who reads his quest text, though, I've been able to divine the identities of a few personalities we're likely to encounter. The Ulduar screenshots from beta, with their diverse wings and amazing architecture, also hint to these same folks. They'll be involved, and I'll put good gold on it.
Welcome to another edition of Blood Pact! I'd held off writing one because we've got a surprise for you guys as a new, better, shinier Warlock columnist is coming on board to give you the all the infernal goodness (or badness, if you prefer) you need. But since it looks like he's caught up at the cleaners trying to get that brimstone smell off his robes, I'm sneaking into his office and filling in for this week.
Today, we're going to talk about dual specs. You've probably heard of it. All the hybrid classes are squealing with girlish delight at the prospect, but even Warlocks have a reason cackle maniacally. For one thing, dual specs means more versatility for anyone, whatever class you play. In our case, it's the flexibility to deal a slow, painful death; a fiery death; or a torturous death through demonic beatdown. What can I say? That's what Warlocks do. We kill things. Dual specs, more than anything, simply means we get to choose how.
Mmmm. Dual specs. When this long-awaited feature kicks in with what we hope is Patch 3.1, we're going to be seeing quite a lot of those messages in trade or general. We might even be seeing the reverse, where groups will be looking to pick up players with two specific specs. That's a daunting thought, actually... what if groups want to pick up not just one specific spec but two? Yikes.
But never mind that. It's a good time to be excited. When the time comes, I think we're all going to go out, pay our trainers what looks to be a hefty sum of Gold, and gleefully pick out our two specs. We'll rearrange our action bars, settle on two sets of glyphs, and be along our way announcing to the world our new, versatile nature. In many ways, this makes all classes practical hybrids. My brother-in-law has been speccing between Survival DPS and a fantastic tank damage mitigation Beast Mastery build with Roar of Sacrifice whenever we do Sartharion with 3 drakes.
So here's what I want us to munch on this morning -- what two specs will your classes be picking up? I think I might do PvE / PvP Retribution for my Paladin, Affliction PvE / Demonology PvP for my Warlock, Elemental PvP / Restoration PvE for my Shaman, and PvE / PvP Survival for my Hunter. Everyone in my guild has been looking forward to this feature, and I think it's going to shake things up a bit. What're your dual specs going to be?
Certainly, those debates will probably rage into the future, but the news we're really hoping for is a 3.1 PTR. We've had a few false starts, but it's getting about time. Hopefully before March, at the least?
Regardless of whether we're getting a PTR or not, we do have downtime, from 5 AM to 11 AM Pacific time. That's a nice six hour chunk where you'll have to find something to do that is not playing WoW. May we suggest browsing WoW Insider? As always, we have a list of some of the week's hottest news after the break.