Archive for November, 2009

RPG Nostalgia: What Got You Into RPGs?

yaydice Over at the Blog Azeroth forums, an interesting question was posed: what got you into RPGs originally? What was your first RPG love? Maybe your first MMO love?

This is an amazing question for me, because multi-player role-playing games and table top RPGs and I have a long, rich, and mixed history. What about you? What’s your history and love affair with role-playing games? Shout it out in the comments!

And yes, I’ll bare all, don’t worry, just behind the jump:

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WoW.com’s New Comic and Artist-in-Residence: Kelly Aarons!

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Over at the venerable WoW.com, they had huge news that I think is worth sharing, partially because I highly reccomend everyone head over there and read the result of that news, and partially because it’s a huge deal for a very good friend of mine: Kelly Aarons, also known as Cadistra of the Webcomic WoW, eh?, is joining the staff of WoW.com and will be working on a weekly comic just for the site!

The comic is called Byron: The Tauren Rogue, and heralds what is sure to be one of the signs of the apocalypse: ninja cows. Verify we are living in the endtimes.

I’ve mentioned Kelly several times before: in my WoW people to follow at Twitter post, again when she conceptualized what a Tauren Paladin might look like, and again when she started submitting recipes for Nourish! The Azerothian Menu. Okay, I probably mention her too much – but her art is amazing and congratulations are in order – head over and take a look!

World of Warcraft’s 5th Anniversary Sweepstakes

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Can you believe it’s been five years since World of Warcraft was released? I’ve been playing since back in those wholesome vanilla days, and while I was in the beta I waited a bit before I picked up the game proper…not too long though, maybe a couple of months-so I could play with my then-roommates, and I’ve been playing ever since. A lot of people I know have come and gone in that time period, and tons more people have signed up to play with the release of Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, but Blizzard is about to celebrate World of Warcraft’s 5 year anniversary with a massive sweepstakes event in which just about every WoW player is entered.

So what do you have to do to enter? Nothing, as long as you have an active account that’s in good standing – you’re automatically in!

And what do you win? Every week Blizzard will give away some prizes to a few lucky players. Check out the prize listings below.

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Blizzard Launches In-Game Pet Store…For Real Money

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See this little guy? Isn’t he adorable? He’s Mini KT, the Littlest Lich – and he can be yours for the low low price of $10 USD. That’s right, I said $10 DOLLARS, not 10 gold, and he’s not the only pet you can get in-game for that amount of money.

Remember back when we noticed that interesting new pets were appearing in the source files of the game? I was intrigued by the Pandaren Monk pet, but WoW.com also noticed a Core Hound Pup along with Lil KT up there a while back on the PTRs. Speculation ran rampant that they were potentially collector’s edition pets for Cataclysm, but now we know their true purpose: Blizzard will sell them in-game, through their Blizzard Store online, and likely through Battle.net at some point.

If you drop the ten bucks on the Pandaren Monk, half of that purchase will go to the Make-A-Wish foundation, which is a pretty good reason to spring for it.

In any event though, this is Blizzard’s first dabblings in micro-transactions in World of Warcraft, and it’s gotten more than a few people pretty riled up. Many other MMOs that have gone before WoW (and likely those that will come after) that used micro-transactions to get more real money out of the players who are subscribed, and most free MMOs use micro-transactions to get money out of players who can sign up and play for free, but if they want the best gear or a custom avatar or better graphics, they have to shell out a little cash.

The argument on both sides of this is immense, loud, and pretty empassioned: some people herald micro-transactions as the end of World of Warcraft entirely, both as a popular game and as a professional, high-quality one, labeling micro-transactions as the mark of MMOs that are on the decline. The other side sees this as another fantastic way that players who are willing to pay for it can customize their characters, and look forward to other potential options like special RP clothes, custom avatar appearances, and more.

Personally I can see the logic of both sides of the equation, but I have to call attention to the fact that Blizzard has essentially already given players what they want for real money in-game in the form of faction changes, race changes, server transfers, and so on. Even appearance changes (which cost in-game money, not real money) came at player behest. I’m completely on-board with the thought that only MMOs that need money or are moving to a “free to play” model currently make heavy use of micro-transactions, but World of Warcraft certainly isn’t there, and it’s certainly not on the decline.

So the moral of the story? If you don’t want to spend real money for an in-game pet, don’t buy one. If there are enough people who agree with you, it’ll be unpopular and Blizzard will shut it down. If on the other hand there’s a demand for it and people love the idea, it’ll grow in popularity and more items will likely be added to the store. In any event, it’s likely not the end of World of Warcraft as we know it – that’s going to happen in Cataclysm.

Azeroth United Launches HHV Charity Giveaway!

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A while ago I mentioned the Azeroth United Hearts, Hands, and Voices for Child’s Play Charity. On November 1, Azeroth United officially launched their HHV Charity Giveaway to start ramping up donations for Child’s Play!

To donate, head over to AzerothUnited.com or directly to the Hearts, Hands, and Voices for Child’s Play Charity page and click on the “Chip In!” widget to donate! The goal is $5000, and all of that cash goes directly to the Child’s Play charity, which donates the gift of video games to terminally and chronically ill children.

As part of the giveaway, every donation of $10 or more to the HHV campaign has a chance to be one of ten lucky winners and score some of the following gear in the Filled Hearts Giveaway, presented by sponsors of the charity event:

* Curse Networks – Get your hands on one of these great items: mouse pad, USB flash card that are super slim and fit in your wallet they are the size of a business card! OR a Premium Curse Subscription for 12 months
* Azeroth United – Snag one of many assorted WoW TCG Loot Cards
* Geek Girl Diva of Entertainment Earth: $25 Gift Certificate
* J!NX Clothing Company – $10 Gift Card and J!NX Keychain

Every donation of $20 or more to the HHV campaign is entered into the Exclusive Helping Hands Giveaway where one lucky winner will walk away with some of these fantastic prizes:

* Rawrcast: World of Warcraft Podcast – 60-day World of Warcraft Game Card
* Sideshow and Syrana – 30-day World of Warcraft Game Card and 2009 Blizzcon Authenticator
* Unbearably Hot – Custom, one of a kind, handmade bracelet themed after the Hearts, Hands, and Voices charity event. Sure to be a Blizzcon conversation starter!
* 3point.com: Warcraft Stein – Artwork by amazing World of Warcraft illustrator James Zhang.
* Raid Warning Podcast: Steel Series World of Warcraft Gaming Mouse
* SwagDog: 3ea. $100 Gift Certificates and Weekly 25% Off Codes for all contributors. You can get your code from your favorite Azeroth United Unity Member.
* J!NX Clothing Company – $25 Gift Card, Talking Murloc Plush Toy, and J!NX Keychain

There are some awesome prizes in the mix, and of course, donating money to an amazing charity that does a lot of good work. Head on over and chip in today!

Get Custom Character Prints and Posters at Print Warcraft!

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If you thought FigurePrints were awesome, you’ll love Print Warcraft – a site where you can log in, create custom artwork using your World of Warcraft characters, and then have it printed out in poster or print form.

Don’t get too excited though – the site is a great idea, but it essentially lets you take your character based on screenshots and imports of what your character looks like and put them in front of a group of standard backgrounds or other screenshots, all in the WoW in-game art style. Don’t expect any of the beautiful imagery we’ve come to expect from any of the WoW comics, the loading screens, or even the WoW trading card game.

The idea is solid – you can get posters and prints of your character with their name superimposed on a logo plate and the horde or alliance emblems on it, and for a pretty reasonable price at that – a 12×18 print will run you just shy of $18 USD, and a massive 40×27 wide poster will cost you about $30 USD. The pricing is good, although I can’t speak for the quality of the product. In any case though, they make for great custom posters that you can hang anywhere in the house.

That being said though, I personally would take a different approach. Many of us, myself included, love our World of Warcraft characters, and wouldn’t mind a poster or a small print of them hanging on the wall near our computers – in the past though, I’ve turned to the massive WoW fan art community of webcomic artists and players who love the game just as much as I do to help me out. Find yourself a Webcomic or a fan artist you know who’s done World of Warcraft related art in the past, and ask nicely if they’re taking commissions.

That way you get art that’s not only truly personal and likely one of a kind, but even if you pay more for it you get something really unique and special for you and your character – something you won’t have a hard time framing. And, with any luck, you’ll make friends with an artist who may very well be happy to take your commission fee and your support.

Don’t get me wrong though – I’m not dissing Print Warcraft at all, but I am advocating the huge WoW fan art community, of which many of its members are really talented, exceptional artists – my friend Cadistra being one of them (although she’s so busy I doubt she has time for commissions, but maybe someday!) – there are tons of artists out there willing to make you something really special and unique that’s real art you can hang on your walls, instead of a high-rez screenshot. If you’re looking for something you wouldn’t be afraid to hang on your wall in your college dorm room or that you wouldn’t be heartbroken if it got beat up a bit though, Print Warcraft all the way!

Windows 7 and World of Warcraft

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So Windows 7 has been out for a couple of weeks now, and most enthusiasts who are really familiar with Microsoft’s new OS have been running the beta and the release candidate for months now to get a feel for it and shake out any issues the new OS may have. But there is one community that’s been somewhat absent from the discussion: the World of Warcraft community!

Granted, Windows 7 isn’t really fundamentally different from Windows Vista, although I think everyone would agree that it’s an improvement – so there’s no reason to believe that if you’re running WoW under Windows Vista that it won’t run just as well in Windows 7. Players making the leap from Windows XP to Windows 7 who are forced to wipe and do a full install may have a little more heartburn though, but it should still work without issue.

How about you, dear readers? Any of you upgraded to Windows 7 full-time and have any stories to share? Was getting World of Warcraft running, patched, and your favorite add-ons installed a breeze or was it a horrific trial that you’re just waiting to tell everyone about? Shout it out in the comments.

I’ll follow this post up shortly with more experiences with Windows 7 and World of Warcraft as I hear more from you and the rest of the community, and get hands on myself!

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