This week, David returns (again) to All the World's a Stage as a newly married man, feeling particularly happy and joyful, and overflowing with enthusiasm for just about everything he loves in life.
The relationship between rolelplaying and real life is a multifaceted one. If you have read this column before, you've probably seen some mention of roleplaying as a creative art form, but for some readers, it might be a bit difficult to imagine roleplaying as an art. After all, some might say, it's just a bunch of people sitting around, pretending their characters are real people, having real problems and real stories, all in spite of a game environment in which one's character can't actually affect the world in any way that matters. Problems of continuity, such as instanced dungeons in which many people can slay the same monster at the same time over and over again, make some people feel as though there's no story value to the game at all, and that anything roleplayers do is a waste of their time.
The trick for roleplayers is to think of roleplaying as something more like freeform play art, in which the main point of the art isn't so much the end product that results from one's efforts (as it would be in painting, novel-writing, or composing music), but rather the thoughts, feelings, and inspiration that come to mind when we actually engage in the process of the art itself. The closest parallel to another art form might be improv acting games, where the whole point is to make things up for you and the other actors to enjoy, rather than to deliver a performance for a separate audience; but if you've enjoyed something so simple as building a sand castle on the beach, then you probably have a good sense of what it feels like to roleplay. Fingerpainting, mandala-making or even just freeform music and dancing can all give a similar feeling like what you get in roleplaying: the sheer joy of creation.
Some roleplayers need no more justification for their art than that they enjoyed themselves. But others look at their own roleplaying careers and see certain things that they've taken away from their roleplaying experience over time. These things are usually not as solid as an actual painting or recorded song, but they still have a kind of solidity in the roleplayer's mind, as they positively impact his or her real life in several ways.
Every Sunday (usually), Spiritual Guidance will offer practical insight for priests of the holy profession. Your host is Matt Low, the grand poobah of World of Matticus and a founder of No Stock UI, a new UI blog for all classes. Today, Matt teams up with Arcane Mages to deliver some serious pain!
It's not very often I write posts about DPS. It becomes even more rare when I write about Mages. My only wish out of Mages is for them to learn another rank of Conjurable food and water.It's at the point now where I need to consume two of them to get a full mana bar back nearly.
Ready Check is a weekly column focusing on successful raiding for the serious raider. Hardcore or casual, Vault of Archavon or Ulduar, everyone can get in on the action and down some bosses. This week, we do some homework.
The long-awaited new instance has been live for almost two weeks now, and a lot of the excitement over first kills is waning. Everything Blizzard has thrown at us so far is dead, and even several of the hard-mode kills, nominally on a level with Sarth-3D, are beaten.
So, this leads us naturally on to the question - is Ulduar hard enough?
Warning: This article contains spoilers of varying intensity for the Wrathgate world event, the new Arthas Novel , and the Warcraft Comic Series. It is also 3 pages long. Be sure to click the links at the bottom to head to the next part!
Among WoW players these days, it seems to be a popular opinion that King Varian Wrynn is a narrow minded short-sighted bigot who will lead the Alliance to ruin. This is an easy opinion to have, since he does show a considerable amount of anger at times when dealing with the Horde, and it's long been the general opinion that "no-one is truly evil" in the Horde and Alliance conflict. This is even the opinion of some of my fellow writers.
Here's my problem with this: The underlying causes of Varian Wrynn's anger are all unconditionally justified. Varian Wrynn is not angry at the Horde because of a series of misunderstandings and misinterpretations. He's been witness to or victim of multiple wrongdoings and atrocities perpetuated by the Horde time and time again, both the new Horde and the Old. Most, if not all of these times, the wrongdoings have been the result of outright maliciousness on the part of the Horde or its members, and in the case the so-called "peaceful" New Horde, there's been no sign whatsoever that Thrall is punishing or disciplining the perpetrators of these acts, and at the least, it is clear that he is not properly dealing with the consequences.
Once upon a time, when the World of Warcraft was all shiny and new, things were simple: the Horde hated the Alliance and they, in turn, despised the Horde. It was a simpler time, but this wasn't just some game mechanic to facilitate PvP and hours of ganking, oh no, it was integral to the lore of Azeroth.
Now, it's also worth remembering that there's no black and white in Azeroth either. The Horde aren't evil for just being the Horde, neither are the Alliance all pure as newly fallen snow. Each faction has done its fair share of pure and evil acts depending on the actions of individual heroes and the motivations of their leaders.
But now we're post patch 3.1, it's time to rexamine the state of relations between the two factions. Times have changed quite drastically since we first entered Azeroth and the addition of The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King have only made things much more complicated. The Wrath Gate cinematic gave us some glimpse of how the two factions are getting on in the continually evolving lore of Azeroth. While the recent trailer for the Secrets of Ulduar offered an even more promising glimpse at the deterioration of that tenuous peace.
[1.Local]: Spring chatter in the air - Sun, 26 Apr 2009 12:00:00 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.
Dislocated but not disconnected Lileya of Lightbringer-EU, the subject of this week's 15 Minutes of Fame, has a rare, lifelong condition that can make even the simplest tasks impossible (let alone healing an endgame raid). From her ankles to her knees, from her fingers to her shoulders, Lileya's joints dislocate at the drop of a pin.
The first installment of our interview with Lileya inspired an outpouring of support from readers. "im on lightbringer (eu) as well," wrote Lynxx. "if your ever lookin for a group then just ask any1 in Misery. Your story touched me but im rly struggling to put into words what i want to say, but your story touches me =). Craig"
You may have been struggling for words, Craig, but I think Lileya and the rest of our readers got the point quite clearly. Well said, friend.
Tankadin Teraunus of <Celestial Vanguard> on Elune sent in this screenshot of the Spark of Imagination area in Ulduar, complete with resident boss Mimiron's Leviathan MKII vehicle front and center. Shouldn't a mechanognome vehicle boss be riding a giant, flame-breathing mechanostrider at some point, instead of those relatively bland giant-gnome-part models? I'm pretty sure I killed that Aerial Command Unitsixteen years ago.
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.
Sunday Morning Funnies: Kiss some frogs - Sun, 26 Apr 2009 09:00:00 EST Today is the official start of the week-long festival of Noblegarden, and is the last Sunday in April. I can't believe that it is almost May! We have some great comics this week, as always, along with one newbie.
Noblegarden is finally here and, boy, is it addictive! Knowing how everyone would be swarming all over Kharanos and Goldshire, I headed for the most isolated, least visited starter town I could think of: Azure Watch. On my low-population server, there were only about another five people after eggs and once you start spotting them hunting becomes insanely addictive. There are already people with their Spring Rabbit's Foot and the rest have just been turned into purple bunnies. I'm not sure if the latter is cute or just weird.
Personally, I'm just ambling along and doing what achievements I can, there's no hope of me getting the Violet Proto-Drake this year. But, I want to know which part of Noblegarden are you folks are most looking forward to?
Noblegarden has begun! - Sun, 26 Apr 2009 00:01:00 EST It's 12:01 AM Pacific, which means that Noblegarden should now be live on all North American realms. Despite the fact that it's the middle of the night, people are absolutely packed into the starting zones on my home realm, so don't expect things will be easy just because it's late!
Keep an eye on WoW Insider throughout the day, because we're going to be covering the holiday as much as we can. Our own Allison Robert started that already yesterday evening with a special edition of The Overachiever, covering the achievements of Noblegarden. She also has a basic FAQ of the holiday up, should you need it.
A note to all of you bloggers out there, I plan to do a Noblegarden-themed special edition of The Daily Quest today as well. If you've written about the holiday and think our readers may be interested in what you have to say, send your link our way and we'll take a look!
Our sister site Joystiq pointed out last night to their readers that the BlizzCon 2008 beta codes were now being accepted, and we thought it prudent to pass the news along to you.
You can enter the code over at http://www.blizzcon.com/beta and enjoy the satisfaction that you'll get knowing in a few months (or less?) you'll be playing the beta of StarCraft II.
The code took me a few others on staff a couple tries to enter. 'B' looks like '8', and 'S' looks like '8'. You'll probably need to try a few different permutations of the code until you get it right. When you enter the right code, you'll get an email 'confirmation' that really just tells you that you've entered the key successfully. You don't have to do anything further. The email is a little oddly worded though, and doesn't look like your typical Blizzard email. So we've posted a copy of it after the break for folks.
BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd of this year. We'll be there in force again. Should be a blast!
Each week Arcane Brilliance sits around, thinking of things to put in this opening paragraph. Arcane Brilliance considers many things. Then Arcane Brilliance usually ends up going for the easy Warlock joke, because let's face it, Warlocks are pretty low-hanging fruit, and Arcane Brilliance is lazy.
Of all the new stuff patch 3.1 brought us, perhaps this single most significant change was the addition of dual specs. Suddenly everybody and their second cousins can tank (or think they can tank), and every Druid/Paladin/Shaman has a resto/holy spec waiting in the wings. Everybody rolls on everything in every dungeon because they're "gearing up for their second spec"...or third spec...or whatever.
Mages don't have multiple roles to fill. We can't use our second talent spec slot for a tank or healer build. Our choices are and always have been DPS or DPS, just as God intended. And so, the advent of dual specs have instead opened up a different kind of door for a lot of Mages: PvP.
For the first time, we can keep our mana-efficient, DPS-maximized raiding build, and still have a second PvP-centric build on stand-by. A lot of Mages are taking advantage of this, and many are taking their first real steps into the strange and somewhat intimidating world of player-versus-player combat. For the Mage making that first foray into PvP, the culture shock can be very real, and the gear gap can seem insurmountable.
Fear not. Arcane Brilliance is here to tell you how to quickly and easily close that gap. Click the link below, and we'll have you mounting Warlock heads on your wall in no time.
Noblegarden FAQ - Sat, 25 Apr 2009 19:30:00 EST Noblegarden 2009 should be going live on the European realms in a few hours and then start popping up on realms elsewhere over the next day. Because so much of the holiday has changed and we've fielded a lot of questions from players about what's going on, we decided to write up a quick FAQ to the new (and vastly improved!) holiday.
Help! Where do I go to get started?
If you're Alliance, head to Azure Watch, Dolanaar, Goldshire, or Kharanos.
If you're Horde, head to Bloodhoof Village, Brill, Falconwing Square, or Razor Hill. What am I supposed to do when I get there?
There will be questgivers in all of these towns who will give you a new daily, The Great Egg Hunt, and A Tisket, a Tasket, a Noblegarden Basket. The former will reward you with an item that will come in handy for an achievement (more on this in a little bit), but for both you're going to want to get started hunting down eggs in and around these level-5 towns. Once you've finished these quests, in order to get Noblegarden achievements done, you're going to need to be a dedicated egg hunter for a little while.
What do the Brightly Colored Eggs look like?
See the egg in the article's picture above? They're all variations on these colors and patterns and not generally tough to spot.
Because Noblegarden has been extensively reworked, most of what you'll be doing this year is completely new, and some of this guide is going to be comprised of educated (or not-so-educated) guesses as to the difficulty of the achievements on the live realms, and tips on how to get them done. I'll let you know if I just plain don't know something or have to hazard a guess based on PTR information, but fortunately most of the holiday is pretty straightforward. We're only going to cover the achievements you need to worry about for the meta, as everything else you can achieve is really based on luck and doesn't count toward Noble Gardener.
The seasonal revamped extravaganza that is Noblegarden is due to start tomorrow and the Blues have revealed a little more about the new week-long festival. Yesterday night Zarhym posted on the official forums, revealing some new details as well as linking to a revamped festival page on the official site.
The new Noblegarden (which starts tomorrow) has its origins in a druidic festival, but the modern peoples of Azeroth seem more interested in egg-hunting and scoffing chocolates. Focusing on the starter towns like Brill and Goldshire, it's one of those great festivals which is aimed at newer players as well as die-hard level 80s.
Zarhym promises egg hunts and new daily quests as well the chance to find cool items within brightly coloured chocolate eggs. There's also a stack of new achievements (you know you want that Violet Proto-Drake) and if you get sick of eating chocolate you can also use them as currency to buy awesome Noblegarden swag.
WoW Insider will have guides and galleries up tomorrow. Noblegarden runs through next Saturday.
It's been over a week now since Ulduar was unleashed, and I hope that you've all gone in and had a taste of what Blizzard has emphatically called a "hard" raid. Harder than Naxxramas, at least. Aside from towerless Flame Leviathan, who was cruelly invented to trick players into thinking that Ulduar was puggable, the bosses -- heck, even the trash -- in Ulduar is a return to some good old-fashioned wipefests and headbanging against the wall. Of course, the world's top guilds were well equipped and prepared to clear all the way up to Yogg-Saron, but most guilds will struggle a bit.
Did I say a bit? Some guilds will struggle a lot, actually. While Ulduar still seems easier by far than the so-called guild killers, Blizzard has ramped up the difficultly nicely and many guilds will find it a challenge but eventually conquer it in time. So where do Paladins fit in with all this conquering business? Well, it depends on your spec. Fortunately for us, Patch 3.1 also introduced dual-specs, and if there's anything a Paladin should plunk 1,000 Gold on, it's to learn a secondary spec. Today we'll take a look at how healers fare in Ulduar two weeks in after the jump.
Northern Exposure Map helps you hunt rare game - Sat, 25 Apr 2009 14:00:00 EST One of the more time consuming set of achievements to get is the rare spawn killing achievement, if only because you need to compile information on every spawn, then head over to their spawn point and wait, then hope you grab the monster before someone passing through sees the Silver Dragon and gets the loot gleam in their eye.
We can't really help you with the last two, that's up to you. What we can do is help you with the first. For the Northrend achievement, Frostbitten, that we have a map submitted by tipster Mike, player of Paksenarrion on Bonechewer. It's a hand color coded map of Northrend that shows where each require rare spawns. It's pretty basic, and Mike admits he took most of spawn information from sites like Wowhead and Thottbot and has only managed to find about half of them himself, but it's a nice start.
Myself, I doubt I'll ever seriously pursue Frostbitten unless It's the absolute last achievement I have to work for or some such. Still, for those of you who seek the bragging rights that come with a massive luck-based time sink, maybe this map will help. And if nothing else, Northern Exposure only requires you kill one of the rare spawns, so knowing thier spawn points can at least help you keep an eye out while you quest and pick up that quick achievement.
I think the in-game fixes should be ending soon, or at least not be noteworthy enough for the blues to announce every day. Last night there were only three announced, which we list after the break. But more interesting I think than the bankruptcy of Ghostly Philanthropists is the number of fixes announced each day, which is displayed in the nice graphic above.
There is a spike of fixes on April 21st, which was this past Tuesday. That is likely due to two reasons. First, patch 3.1.1 was released and many of the changes had to be done via a client side patch and by some realm maintenance. Secondly, there were not any fixes released during the weekend of April 18th, so a few days of bug-e-ness went by.
Just by looking at the graph you can tell there's about an average of 13 or so fixes per day, and that number is steadily dropping.
Hopefully this means that the bugs are going away too, and overall things are becoming more stable in-game.
The show starts up at April 25, 2009 3:30 PM EST over on our Ustream page, or you can just click below to find the embedded Ustream feed in the second half of this post. And of course if you can't make it to listen live today, don't worry, because the show will be recorded and available in its entirety (well, minus the preshow and aftershow that we usually do for the live listeners) on Monday as usual.
Oh, and we owe you readers a big thank-you: our Twitter page did in fact hit 9000 followers this week (actually, over 9000), so it looks like Turpster and I will have to gussy up and turn on the cameras for a video show. Stay tuned to the show today for more information on that, and keep an eye on the site here for when we'll be doing it. It'll definitely be something to see. Get it? "See"? Video?