Each week or so, Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player who has 2 hours or less to play at a time.
If you haven't bought into the whole Midsummer hype yet, allow me to try to convince you. This year's Midsummer Fire Festival is possibly the most casual-friendly WoW event. Still you may ask, to paraphrase a guildie, "What's so great except for a useless pet?"
Sure, I got myself a Brazier of Dancing Flames, but I had the blossoms burning a hole in my pocket anyway, so why not? Midsummer is really about every other reason we play the game: progressing our characters, seeing the world, supporting our faction and, most importantly, fun.
Hunt much? Got a pet? Scattered Shots is the feature you turn to when you've gotta have your weekly fix of hunter information, and you've just gotta have it every Thursday afternoon without fail.
Those who mine the very depths of the Wrath of the Lich King alpha client have discovered a possible new hunter ability called Camouflage, which, if it goes live, could add an entirely new dimension to the hunter class. Its current form is kind of like a combination Vanish and Cloak of Shadows, in that, once every 5 minutes, it saves you from all debuffs currently destroying you in one way or another, and it puts you in "improved invisibility" (not actual stealth like a rogue has). There's no mention of any time limit, except that it will break when you deal damage.
There are a number of implications this ability could have for hunters if it actually ends up on our action bars. For one, it would be quite different from a mage's Invisibility spell, which usually only allows them to see other invisible targets and only lasts for a short time. If Camouflage were to break upon dealing damage then we'd have to be able to see our targets, right? Likely we'd be able to move around and stalk them too. Also, it would not break when you start to cast a shot (such as Aimed Shot), or even if that shot were to miss -- only if it hits its mark. It could be the perfect companion to good damage openers on unsuspecting targets.
If this goes live, Hunters are going to become snipers on top of everything else we are, which is super cool.
Tank Talk is WoW Insider's new raid-tanking column, promising you an exciting and educational look at the world of getting the stuffing thrashed out of you in a 10- or 25-man raid. The column will be rotated amongst Matthew Rossi (Warrior/Paladin), Adam Holisky (Warrior), Michael Gray (Paladin), and Allison Robert (Druid). Our aim is to use this column to debate and discuss class differences, raid-tanking strategies, tips, tricks, and news concerning all things meatshieldish.
Forum Post of the Day: Zarhym faces the flames - Thu, 26 Jun 2008 17:30:00 EST I was wondering when/if things would get a little hot and heavy for the new CM Zarhym on the forums, and this thread is it -- players start out asking for a date for the expansion (we all know when Wrath will come out already: "when it's done"), and when Zarhym orders up a generic answer, players start to test his limits. One snarky answer gets him to deal out a ban, and it's downhill from there -- when players start fighting with him over the fact that they want a new battleground, he gets a little snippy, and eventually, he says that putting in a new battleground would only satisfy a "small percentage" of the playerbase. And then players really get angry.
I think Zarhym handled himself pretty well -- his little snipe at players for thinking an expansion was "too soon" last year was uncalled for, especially since Blizzard told us they were actually aiming for one every year. But he's not distraught to the point of a Tseric yet, obviously. He's just not quite as smooth as, say, Drysc or Neth yet in quelling angry players.
It's too bad that, since the CMs are anonymous, we have no idea when they start of their qualifications or past experience (though of course we'd trust Blizzard to hire people who know what they're doing). But Zarhym got his official welcome to the forums -- when players start flaming you for saying the wrong thing, you know you've made it.
Blood Sport: Arena for dummies I - Thu, 26 Jun 2008 17:00:00 EST ArenaSeason 4 is finally here. For many players, it's simply another chapter in the controversial Arena saga. Some love it and thrive in the Arenas, while others loathe it. Whatever players might think, however, it seems like Arenas are here to stay. For those players who have only recently hit Level 70, or for carebears suddenly willing to take the plunge, there might be a lot of questions about these "Arenas" that everyone seems to be talking about these days. I want to do Arenas, how do I start? Forming an Arena team is similar to forming a guild. Once you are Level 70, you can purchase an Arena Team Charter from any Arena Organizer, such as "King" Dond in Nagrand, Steamwheedle Sam in Blade's Edge Mountains, and Bip Nigstrom in Tanaris. The cost of the charter depends on the size of the team you're creating, costing roughly 40 Gold per team member. A 2v2 charter costs 80G, a 3v3 costs 120G, and a 5v5 costs 200G.
When you purchase a charter, you will need to give it a name. Don't worry about it too much at this point because you can change it later when you hand in the charter. Similar to Guild Charters, you select a Level 70 player, right-click on the Team Charter, and ask them to sign it. Once you have all the necessary signatures (one more for a 2v2, two for a 3v3, and four for a 5v5 -- you count as the first), go back to any of the Arena Organizers and turn it in. Finalize your team name before handing it in, and then design a logo for your team. Once you hand it in, you'll be able to participate in Arenas by talking to an Arena Promoter and queueing up for a match just as you would for a Battleground.
The first one is called Taterf which has infected over 1.2 milion machines worldwide during its first week. The other worm is called Frethog and has so far a 650,000+ machine first-week infection rate. These rates are stunning to malware specialists who are used to seeing these kinds of numbers only after a month of the worm's existance. These worms take advantage of Windows' autoplay and autorun functions that run for CDs, DVDs, and some USB sticks. They can be sneaky about it too. They try to disquise autorun with other pop-up dialog boxes, like "Show me these awesome pictures." You do need to confirm this action manually, but this obstacle hasn't much limited the spread of the worms to date.
Make sure you read the instructions on Microsoft's support site for how to protect yourself from these worms. The short answer is to disable autorun from CDs under XP (a registry change) or to change the same option from the Vista control panel. You should also disable autoplay as an even greater precaution. Also, of course, make sure you check the box on the WoW login screen to save your account name. That way if you do get infected with a keylogger, they won't be able to see your keystrokes for both your account name and your password.
Well that didn't take long. Despite the song only being announced yesterday,"I am Murloc" has been 5-starred on Expert, and you can see the video above to prove it. You can also see the notes they've chosed -- as a veteran of all three Guitar Hero games (and a current owner of Rock Band, though "Green Grass" is giving me trouble on Expert), I have to say that it looks pretty simple, especially compared to some of the other songs in GH3. It is too bad that they used the normal Guitar Hero 3 singer, too, and not a virtual version of Samwise.
If you want something a little tougher, head down after the jump to see a hacked custom version of "I am Murloc" for Guitar Hero 2. The phrasing on that one seems to fit much more, and it seems to work a little better than the official version that got released in the latest game.
I'm a shiny new everyday blogger. I started working here at the end of May 2008.
What's your main right now?
My main is a level 68.85 Tauren shaman named Slig (US Drenden). A lot of people ask me why I play a male toon. In fact, Slig is my only male character. I don't so much identify with him as an avatar, but it's more like I have a crush on him. I love my Sligger.
For the Horde or Glory to the Alliance?
Horde, definitely, although I dabble plenty with Alliance alts. I really like the counter-culture, subversive, non-conformist attitude of the Horde. I also like how they make their cities and towns out of the shapes of the environment around them. Whoa, that sure sounds fruity.
Favorite thing to do in Azeroth?
I like to discover new areas and then go kill things there. Lately I've been getting a big charge out of the bombing runs in Nagrand.
What's the best instance in the game?
Embarrassed to say that I haven't done all that many instances. I rock Scarlet Monetary though.
What's the number one thing Blizzard could do better?
Hire me. No, seriously, I've been trying to get a job there for two years. Okay, more related to gameplay, you say? Fine. I think for the most part Blizzard is doing a fine job. My only slight frustration with the game is not having enough non-PvP, solo-able content for higher level players.
Writing on my own blog, The Game Dame, riding my bike, dancing Lindy Hop with my husband, playing with my two cats, knitting. Who doesn't!
What accomplishment in-game are you most proud of?
Okay see, I find this to be a very odd question. I don't really feel "proud" of virtual accomplishments except as they relate to areas where I've improved myself. For example, I've long been known to be a horrible PvP player. So tonight I was pretty proud of myself for taking down some folks who jumped me in a 2 vs. 1 fight. I was stomping around my apartment going, "IN YOUR FACE!" to the cats. Sad, really.
Other games I enjoy are ...
Anything Lorne Lanning does; he's my gaming god. (Oh, hey, Oddworld Inhabitants can hire me too!) I play all the Oddworld games over and over. Recently I've also enjoyed Mass Effect and Bioshock. I'm waiting breathlessly for Little Big Planet to come out.
Analyst: Activision is a better investment than EA - Thu, 26 Jun 2008 15:30:00 EST We'll start this one off with the caveat that these days, you can find an analyst to tell you anything you want, so just in case you want to hear that Activision is apparently a "better investment" than Electronic Arts, Deutsche Bank analyst Jeetil Patel is your man. He says that Activision (the company that's merging with Vivendi/Blizzard, doncha know) is "way ahead" of its big competitor EA in terms of profitability.
His comments are more of an attack against EA than a compliment for Activision, however -- he mentions Call of Duty and Guitar Hero as big franchises for Activision, and they are, but he doesn't say a word about the Blizzard merger at all. And on the EA side, he leaves Rock Band off the list completely (EA is distributing it, not publishing it), and makes no mention at all of Madden or any of EA's other big franchises). Plus, he's been downon EA for a longtime.
In short, this isn't going to change anyone's mind. If you're a fan (or stockholder) of Activizzard, then great, there's a bright future in it for you. And if you're not, and you'd rather embrace EA, this guy is just biased enough that he's not going to change your mind. But we're all for competition anyway -- it can be good games time now?
The comic this week was inspired by an email received from fellow blogger, Robin about something Krystalle says in response to a (sadly) common misspelling over chats. So dual credit for nudging me in that direction, ladies. I had to run with it once I had the starting idea in my head.
The truth is, I am very grateful to both of my fellow bloggers in sparking this idea in my head. I hope they find the result of Robin's email fun, and I look forward to warping more ideas from them in the future.
WoW comes up first at the beginning of the interview, and Godager gracefully accepts props for AoC having the biggest launch since World of Warcraft. Which is true -- AoChas shipped over a million copies since launch (though Warcraft has gone on to sell nine million more, and AoC hasn't quite gotten there yet). But at the end of the interview, Godager really brings out the big guns -- he says that playing WoW is fun and all, but "if you've been to McDonald's for four or five years, and had your burger and your coke, sometimes it's great to just have a great steak and a glass of good wine."
Apparently Age of Conan is supposed to be that steak, and our little critically acclaimed and history-making game is supposed to be the culinary equivalent of McDonald's. Which isn't a bad comparison -- we can definitely see Age of Conan being called "steak." Especially sinceit wasserved so undercooked.
The problem with keyloggers and other methods of account theft has been well documented here at WoW Insider, and it seems like a constant problem. Even the most conscientious of players has fallen prey to it. However, at the Worldwide Invitational, Blizzard is introducing a little piece of hardware that could make those problems vanish. Say hello to the Blizzard Authenticator.
The Authenticator is a small piece of hardware that you can associate with your World of Warcraft account. Once the Authenticator is associated with the account, you will need it to log on. Every time you log on, you press a button on the Authenticator to generate a six-digit code that you must input to log on. Since only you know the code, and it's generated apart from your computer at the time you're ready to log on, it will be safe from trojans, keyloggers, and other hacks.
The Authenticator will be available at the WWI to start, then eventually at the Blizzard Store. The starting price being quoted by Blizzard is $6.50 -- a small price to pay for safety from a ransacked bank and naked server transferred characters, for many.
Is this the big announcement though? It's possible, of course, but we like to think there's more in store at the WWI. Stay tuned here, and we'll let you know.
Celebrate Midsummer with this one-of-a-kind novelty. Whether you're wanting to post your grocery list on the fridge or hang a picture of your latest crush in your locker, now you can do it with style. Here is what you will need:
This is just beautiful, from the title ("Brave Noob World") to the idea -- a geographical survey of Azeroth. James Wallis, the director of Hogshead Publishing, gave this presentation at an "unconference" called Interesting '08, in which he tried to do a survey of Azeroth, in the same way that Tobold did -- by walking from one end to the other. And he discovers that Azeroth is pretty small and pretty dense -- it's about 12km across, according to him (I really like his comparison image of the Death Star), and using a Female Tauren, he even comes up with the force of gravity, which is about equal to Earth -- about 1g. Which makes sense; Blizzard would want the virtual world to feel the same as our world, no matter how big it is.
There's a problem with that, though -- if you have a small planet with the same gravity as a much larger planet, the only answer is that the mass of the planet is much more dense. And when you get a really small, densely packed mass, you start to mess around with the flow of time. So Wallis actually ends up explaining one of the more annoying features of Azeroth with actual science. Very nice.
It's definitely a fun example of looking for more in this MMO than Blizzard probably put there, but Wallis covers it with enough zest and logic that it works, strangely. Now if he could only explain the weather...
Player vs. Everything: The MMO clone wars You can say a lot of things about a game you don't like. You can say that it sucks or that it's poorly balanced. You can say that the art direction is all wrong, or you can say that it's lacking in any number of features a good game should have.
EA's CEO says Warhammer won't rival World of Warcraft John Riccitiello has garnered a relatively positive reputation among gamers since ascending to the post of Electronic Arts CEO for his 'hands-off' policy when it comes to newly acquired studios. His new appreciation for individual studio culture endeared him to fearful fans after the BioWare purchase, and keeps Warhammer Online hopefuls in a positive frame of mind.
MMO MMOnkey: The greed game Greed. Countries go to war so that the powerful can take land, gold, oil from the weak, can kill them and take their stuff. Greed. The richest 1% of the population of the United States control over 30% of the country's wealth as they clamor for and are given massive tax cuts ...
Richard Bartle expands on earlier remarks stated in Massively interview In this interview conducted by Michael Zenke, Richard Bartle discussed how to improve World of Warcraft and about MMOGs in general. One comment in particular overshadowed the whole interview: "I've already played Warhammer. It was called World of Warcraft." The comment thread on both Massively and WoW Insider was ...
WoW: About that pineapple wallpaper in Gadgetzan You really have to love your favorite MMOG to do something this kooky! In our oddball post of the day, PallyDog wants to decorate a room when she moves into her new home with some wallpaper she saw in the goblin huts that populate Gadgetzan.
(Please note that the tool we are discussing today is a hack. It is for machinima only. When it is released, using it may result in your account being banned. You've been warned.)
Malu05, of Madx Machinima and Nogg-aholic fame, has created a tool that will change World of Warcraft machinima as we know it. Machinimators have previously been stuck using WoW Model and Map Viewers to emulate footage shot in-world, but few have done it well enough to be convincing. When he releases the tool, which is still in alpha testing, those days will be long gone.
The tool will effectively eliminate hours of handcrafting that was required to make a scene by allowing you to do a variety of things through a program that he created. By pressing a series of buttons, sliders, or entering a series of commands, users will be able to adjust almost every aspect of the camera and settings, including animation and time of day. This will allow machinimators to have much more control over their work, as well as encourage those intimidated by the lack of proper camera function to adapt quickly.
WoW TCG hosts an Ogre Smash and Bash this weekend - Thu, 26 Jun 2008 11:00:00 EST Upper Deck is hosting a fun little TCG event at various stores around the country this weekend -- the Two-headed Ogre Smash and Bash is a new event they have planned in which two players (so you and a friend) show up and fight together against another team with constructed decks (which means you show up, and they give you cards to make decks with, without having to bring your own). It seems like a lot of fun, and even if you're not a huge WoW TCG fan, if you can bring along someone who knows what they're doing, they can probably carry you (just like real Two-headed Ogres).
There's a $40 per team entrance fee, but the good news is that you get to keep all the cards you play with (eight booster packs, and you never know, there might be a loot card in there), and additionally, everyone who turns out for the tournament gets a code for one of those fireworks trinkets (that sets off fireworks at will), and the winner of each tourney gets an Ogre disguise to wear ingame.
There's a list of tournament locations over on the website -- the TCG probably isn't for everybody, but we've never really seen a more beginner-friendly event for the card game, since the fact that you've got two players here means that you can back each other up. Seems like fun -- if you go, definitely be sure to tell us how it went.
We here at Around Azeroth tend to enjoy spending time in Azeroth. From the rolling plains of Mulgore to the snow-capped mountains of Winterspring, from the tiny village of Kargath to the sprawling city of Stormwind, we adore each and every inch of our pixellated alternaverse. Except for this area.
If you spent any time on the PVE endgame pre-Burning Crusade, this picture will conjure up hours of unfun memories. Being mind-controlled into the lava! Endless corpse runs after wiping yet again on Razorgore! Or simply waiting for the 4/9/39 other members of the raid to get into the mountain, like Milb of Garona here. I salute Milb, who ran the incredibly unpleasant UBRS many times to try to get his Chromatic Carapace. And I salute anyone else who has spent hundreds of hours of his or her life inside this blasted mountain. We are truly the Übers of UBRS. (And by the way, that annoying non-clickable dragon is called the "Blackrock Drake", according to my hunter's Track Dragonkin.)
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 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. We prefer full screen shots without the UI showing -- use alt-Z to remove it. Please, no sunsets, and remember to attach a picture!
You've got questions, we've got predictions. We here at WoW Insider have put our collective heads together to predict exactly what we'll see at the press conferences and ceremonies this weekend, and each blogger's predictions are after the jump. We're putting it all up front now, so that afterwards, we can see if we were right or wrong. And you're welcome to join us -- put your prediction (or just agree or disagree with ours) in the comments below.
Of course, we're all guessing based on rumors and hearsay at this point -- we won't know for sure what's going on until Blizzard confirms it this weekend, and of course WoW Insider will be there to let you know right away. But in the meantime, here's what we think we're going to hear about from Paris in the next few days.
To celebrate, they're holding a contest and a raffle, giving away cool gaming goodies from X-Keys every Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to the main prizes of a top-of-the-line video card, a 24-inch flatscreen LCD monitor, and a custom-built gaming PC. Head on over to wowhead, register (if you haven't already), and give them some Happy Birthday loving. The promotion runs for two weeks starting today, but before you get all excited with the prizes, be sure to see if you're eligible. If, for instance, you're from Asia like me, the best you can do is have some cake and ice cream to celebrate on their behalf.