Can't afford to go to BlizzCon? No worries, Spooncraft's got your backs. Well, the back of one of you. Just one back. They're running a contest to design a Spooncraft t-shirt, and the lucky Grand Prize winner gets a BlizzCon ticket, a free hotel stay, and $500 towards their airfare. Pretty sweet? Yeah, pretty sweet.
Let's jump right in - because appropriately enough, that's the modus operandi of this week's profile subject, blogger/cartoonist/gag writer/self-proclaimed "older" player/sci-fi writer John Zakour. With a WoW column at Pink Raygun, a daily web comic with some 50,000 readers, a 2180-rated Mage and a steady stream of published sci-fi books, Zakour keeps the one-liners flowing.
A recent review of Zakour's The Flaxen Femme Fatale does a neat job of summarizing his outlook: "I'm always glad to see new books in this series come out, as there's a serious deficit of comedic hardboiled science fiction adventures on the market, and John Zakour has filled that niche quite adeptly," wrote the SF Site reviewer. "It's goofy, it's quirky, it's iconic in its own way, and it's way too much fun. Like the rest, The Flaxen Femme Fatale borders on parody, but maintains enough good-natured charm to maintain an air of legitimacy. It may be a world full of robots, psychics, aliens, genetically-engineered superhumans, and wacky technology, where anything is possible, but it has the internal consistency and earnestness required to sustain such a setting."
How does he manage to stick it all together, with time left over for WoW?
We're getting tons of reports in of Wintergrasp behaving a bit oddly today, and I can confirm them to be true on my home server of Cenarion Circle. Wintergrasp battles are lasting, at most, 5-10 minutes with no more than 10 minutes between battles. Good for farming Marks of Honor, not so good for trying to kill Archavon and/or Emalon.
If this is how you try to lower the lag Wintergrasp causes on servers, I think the quote "ur doin it wrong" applies. In all seriousness, I'm kidding about that and this is obviously not working as intended. Considering the Mark and Honor gains people are getting from this, I wouldn't be surprised if we see some emergency maintenance and rollbacks soon. I wouldn't get too attached to your gains this afternoon.
Patch 3.1.2 has added another entry into our list of things that are completely freaking adorable today. We didn't notice this on the PTR for some reason (likely because everyone was busy playing premades that lacked turtles) but jumping in place on a Sea Turtle does something really quite cool. Your turtle hides in his shell.
The video embedded above comes from reader Enaress. There's not much more to say about it except that it's crazy awesome. Anyone who disagrees has no heart. Fact. YouTube frame is green to celebrate the turtleosity of the video.
Murkimus mailed out today - Tue, 19 May 2009 18:00:00 EST Those who participated in this year's official arena tournament have been not-so-patiently awaiting their reward for playing 200 arena matches in the preliminary rounds on the tournament realm. It's been quite awhile since players expected to get their hands on Murkimus, but Blizzard representatives have been giving a mid-May estimate that proved true today.
Players who played their 200 matches should be logging into Murkimus in their mailbox today. You can stop panicking that Blizzard cheated you out of a pet. You can stop worrying that you missed some important detail. Enjoy your murloc, folks.
The devs have been promising some buffs to warrior DPS for a while, but there haven't been any specifics. Today is no change. There are "buffs planned" for Arms and Fury, but there are no details announced yet. Ghostcrawler does mention that "there is almost no chance of a Titan's Grip change at any time in the near future," so don't hold your breath about that. My guess would be they're simply tired of making changes to that talent.
The only other piece of new information in the post is that the impending DPS buffs "might come with PvP nerfs," since they're seeing a ton of Warriors in the arena right now. The Juggernaut nerf that went live today might address that some, as well. What do you think Blizzard should do to buff warriors in PvE, without making them (more) overpowered in PvP?
Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.
Howdy folks. Alex and I had to take a little time away from our daily column to focus on other things. While I can't say just yet what we've been working on, I can say that you'll enjoy it when you see it.
It's a surprise! You'll be surprised. Tomorrow. Hopefully. But now I've probably jinxed it.
Oh gawd, what have I done?
"Is there a way to get the White Hippogryph that is at the flight point of the Argent Tournament?"
This is a slightly different issue from the other C&Ds we've seen -- Breanni was making money from selling what we presume were actual images of Blizzard's copyrights and trademarks, so a store like that is pretty plainly in violation of copyright law (Mania's Pets calendar, for example, uses fan art rather than actual screenshots). But what's interesting here is, if they did contact him, why Blizzard has decided to do this now, and why they've only moved against Breanni. There are certainly lots of other places to find Blizzard art printed on products for sale. We're not suggesting that Blizzard should just let it all go, obviously, but why now?
We've had requests for comment out to Blizzard ever since the first few iPhone apps were pulled off of the App Store about all of this recent C&D action, and we've added this one to the stack. If we hear anything back from them, we'll let you know.
Area 52, Auchindoun, Azuremyst, Blade's Edge, Blood Furnace, Coilfang, Dawnbringer, Exodar, Fizzcrank, Galakrond, Ghostlands, Grizzly Hills, Shattered Halls, Terokkar, The Scryers, The Underbog, Velen, Zangarmarsh
All other realms should be up "in about the next hour," slightly later than the 11 AM PDT goal time.
And now the bad news. There are also some issues with Battle.net account authentication, as is so often the case. Blizzard is aware of the Battle.net issues, and promises to provide further updates by noon PDT.
Update: Further updates on the Battle.net issue will be released at 1:00 p.m. PDT. Most (if not all) Battle.net accounts are unable to log into the game.
Our sister site Big Download has posted a patch mirror for us all, and you can head over there and grab the file to download. They are currently hosting both the PC and Mac versions, and we'll have international versions up soon.
Stay tuned to WoW Insider for the latest on the patch, and what will hopefully be a smooth and bug free transition from 3.1.1.
Worried about your chances of winning one of the battlebot pets from the Game Fuel promotion? Worry no more! Over the weekend, a Mountain Dew representative stated on their forums that everyone who registers and participates in the promotion will get one. The pet is not one of the items you need to win from the tokens we've been grinding RL dailies for. If you don't care about winning the Razer or AlienWare products, you can stop grinding your Badges of Dew.
Pets codes have not been distributed yet, so don't panic if you haven't gotten one. Remember that these pets are only going into the game itself as of today, so even if they sent out the codes as soon as you registered, you wouldn't have been able to use it yet. Remember, this is unfortunately a US-only promotion. I can't condone people from other parts of the world trying to work around that, but... you're not going to see me trying to stop you, either. Enjoy your robot, (not really) everyone!
Well-geared hunters, rejoice: you're getting buffed. According to Ghostcrawler, hunter DPS is too low at the moment, so the damage of all ranged weapons with ilvl 226 or higher is being increased by about 30 DPS. This includes drops from Kel'Thuzad-25 and Ulduar-25, as well as Furious Gladiator gear and Ulduar-10 hard modes. This is estimated to result in an overall DPS increase for the hunter of "a few percent."
The reason this change ended up needing to be made has to do with what they wanted to do with ammo in patch 3.1. They had grand plans for an ammo revamp (which I don't think they've ever quite revealed), and as a result they stopped designing new tiers of ammo, so raiding hunters now are stuck with the same bullets they were using at the start of Wrath. This change rolls the DPS from non-existent higher tiers of ammo into the weapons.
Ghostcrawler also mentions that they think hunter DPS will need more improvement, and that there is another buff that they're trying to roll out "sometime in the next couple of weeks." We will, as ever, keep you posted if we hear anything.
Maitseling of Chroniques Darnassiennes posted Gnomebusters over on Warcraft Movies. The movie came about because, apparently, Maitseling's guild mates complained that he hadn't featured gnomes in machinimas. How better to address that issue than with an homage to one of the finest films ever created?
The video's a lot of fun. I like the way Maitseling translated the world of Ghostbusters into something visual in Azeroth. My only complaint would be that none of the soundtrack references WoW, since the song and dialogue is pretty much a direct lift from the original movie. That didn't really detract from my enjoyment of the film, though. I'm old enough that I saw the original film in the theatre, and Maitseling's work really took me back.
Who's afraid of those gnomes?
If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com. Previously on Moviewatch
I'd almost forgotten to try to predict when it was going to land, because it's such a minor patch, and now it's too late. Patch 3.1.2 is going live today! European players can count on getting it tomorrow.
A minor patch it may be, but it does bring a few changes of interest:
The Equipment Manager, which was originally slated to be a part of patch 3.1, is now enabled. Personally, I'm still sticking with Outfitter.
The Argent Tournament mounts now have a new look. Old mounts already bought are upgraded to the new look automatically. You can buy both kinds of mounts from the Tourney vendors.
Innervate: This ability has been redesigned to grant 450% of the casting Druid's base mana pool to the target over 20 seconds.
[Warrior] Juggernaut: Critical strike chance bonus reduced to 25%, down from 100%.
The whole patch notes, including some fun class changes, are after the break.
When I first took over this column, I remember discussing with several people my worries about the content I wouldn't be able to provide. At my best I'm a casual raider, and my PVP experience is limited to that time I did With a Little Helper from My Friends. Certainly I'm passionate about the class, can write better than a few other people I've seen published, and usually play enough to have some Warlock-specific ramble prepared every week. Still, I wanted to find some way of providing content for PVP oriented locks that they would at least find entertaining--even if it was simply footage of me getting one-shot by a level 75 tree Druid.
Then last week one of my readers left a comment suggesting I find a kickass PVP Warlock and interview them. The next few hours are kind of a blur. I remember banging my head against the wall a couple times, and waking up in a hospital, but that's not important.Interviewing a Warlock skilled in PVP could make for some interesting column content. So, I went to the armory to do some hunting.
Does the Molten Core need an exterminator? You'd think all those core hounds would keep the pests away, but no. Solanine of <Eternal Descent> on Icecrown captured the moment as her raid's boomkin cast Insect Swarm on Ragnaros. Silly Raggy! Don't you know that bugs are attracted to fire? And trying to swat them with Sulfuron is just inefficient. Just get Thorim in to do some Chain Lightning.
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 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. 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, gold seller ads, or pictures of the Ninja Turtles in Dalaran.
Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all MMOs, including WoW! Check out this roundup of the latest news from the wider MMO world.
First official confirmation that new Blizzard MMO is original IP In a post on the official World of Warcraft forums, Blizzard community manager Zarhym came out and said the new MMO was in fact an original IP, saying, "We have nothing to advertise for the new MMO because it's a shell of a game thus far. We've already stated it'll be a brand new franchise, which means the lore, art, and game play are being developed entirely from scratch. It's an overwhelming process, but a process through which we excel. Our track record supports this."
Runes of Magic reaches 1 million registered users Here we are, not even two full months after the release of Frogster's Runes of Magic, and they're already announcing that they've hit the one million registered user milestone. Not only has this announcement come so soon after launch, but the EU and NA public hasn't even known about the game for a year yet, according to the Berlin-based publisher.
Free Realms destroys the 1 million account speed record We've known it was going to be a strong contender since the first time we laid eyes on Free Realms. Once we stepped into the world last month and started playing the game, we knew it was going to be even bigger than we'd previously thought. Sure enough, we were right. News has come out this morning, courtesy of John Smedley on Twitter, that Free Realms crossed the 1 million account mark in just eighteen days since launch.
Massively introduces: Betawatch! Welcome to Betawatch, Massively's newest weekly report on the state of MMO betas. In each installment, we'll report everything from the latest open betas, closed betas and even alphas in one convenient place. Plus, we'll make sure to include as much info on each game's current status, including projected release dates (if known) and links to the sign-up forms to get yourself into that beta you've been seeking.
It never ceases to amaze me how huge Azeroth is. As I've leveled and explored, installed expansions and patches, that wonder has never left me. But of course, one of the reasons I like WoW so much is it's not all about fighting and killing things twenty times larger than me. This week I've been fishing in the Dalaran fountain, along with half of my server. No, don't worry, this is not going to be a repeat of our earlier Breakfast Topic, even if It's a skill I've been trying to level for ages.
So I'm fishing and I suddenly see my GM waving at me, dressed in her fishing gear (which also seems to include an Elegant Dress). So I invite, we get on voice chat and start talking while we fish, discussing everything from our real lives to the most recent wipe on Sapphiron. It takes me back to the days in my previous guild where I would meet a friend of mine to do some questing and then we would retire to a tavern, buy drinks, find chairs and chat over voice. Considering she lived four hours from me, it was the closest we could get to a girl's night out in the pub.
It's little things like this which make me thinks WoW is not just a game, it's a virtual world. More often than not, I log on not to play but to chat with friends who are scattered across Europe. Do any of you out there treat WoW as a virtual extension of the real world? Do you meet friends for a night out or use voice chat in lieu of a telephone call or in-game mail over email? Speak up, constant readers, and drop your comments in the usual place.
Win one of five TCG codes today on WoW Insider - Tue, 19 May 2009 07:30:00 EST It's that time of the week again, everyone Yes, that's right. It's time for WoW Insider to 'celebrate' maintenance Tuesday with free stuff. We're back to TCG loot codes this week, once again courtesy of the great folks over at WoWTCGLoot.com.
So what are we offering this week? We have two Sandbox Tiger codes and three Party G.R.E.N.A.D.E.S. If you want a chance to win , simply leave a comment on this post. At midnight tonight, comments will be turned off and our winners will be picked at random and given a random code. You may only enter this giveaway once or you will be disqualified. Remember, post your comment using a valid e-mail address that you check on a regular basis. That's how we'll be contacting you with your loot. Note: You will not be receiving the card, only the loot code.
If you don't win, don't get too beat up. WoW Insider will be doing these contest and giveaways as often as we're able, and today's benefactor does things like this over on their own site rather often, too.