Archive for August, 2009

How Much Do You Love Your Guild?


I know you love your guild – but how much do you love your guild?

Don’t worry, you can change names to protect the innocent, you can be as vague as you want to be, or you can be as specific if you want to be if you love your guild and all of the people in it. A lot of us absolutely love our guilds and everything about them, and a lot of us absolutely hate our guilds and are only sticking around for one reason or another. What’s your story?

Every guild has issues, there’s no doubt about that, but I think I can attest to the amount of guild drama that any person has to deal with tends to center around why your guild does what it does.

Are you in a hardcore raiding guild? You’re likely to have loot drama, raiding drama, and benchwarmer’s drama – you know the kind, where people have to sit out raids and get upset because someone they think doesn’t deserve the raiding slot gets it over them, or because the shaman got that epic mace instead of the rogue.

Is your guild a casual, friends-only guild? You’ll probably get social drama: “Why did she say that about me?” “So and so doesn’t like me and doesn’t invite me to heroics.”

If you’re prepped and ready for those things, you’ll probably enjoy your guild experience much more than someone who’s in the guild for a different reason. For example, the hardcore raider who joins the social, casual guild, only to gquit a week later because they’re not running heroics every night and raiding three times a week. Or alternatively the socialite who wants to make friends who joins a hardcore raiding guild that treats their gameplay like a job will naturally find themselves wishing they’d never applied after a week or so.

Me? I love my guild – I’m definitely a more casual player, looking to run dungeons and experience content at a leisurely pace – I don’t need to raid three times a week – maybe here and there on the weekends. I’d rather make close friends than have a character decked out in epics, but I don’t think you have to sacrifice one for the other.

So what about you? What’s the secret to finding a great guild, and what’s the secret to staying happy? Have you found the perfect guild, or are you still searching? Shout it out in the comments!

Blizzcon 2009 Movie Contest Winner: A Day in the Life


When I found out about the winners of the movie contest at this year’s Blizzcon, I was thrilled, partially because the video above, called A Day in the Life is such a hilarious video, but it’s also based off of one of my favorite WoW comic strips, Dark Legacy Comics! I actually remember the specific strip that inspired this video.

The whole premise is fabulous, and while it’s not exactly comedic genius, it’s hilarious and it resonates so much with WoW players and what we would likely do that it’s hard to not love it. In fact, all of Dark Legacy Comics’ strips are that way, so if you’re not reading it, you should be.

Interested in who else placed in the contest? You can read all of the contest winners here.

Grunty The Murloc Marine vs. Zergling: Fight!


If you were lucky enough to get to Blizzcon this year, you were also lucky enough to get the exclusive non-combat pet, Grunty – the Murloc Marine!

Now if that weren’t adorable enough, if you were also lucky enough (or know someone who was, rather) to get the collector’s edition of the original World of Warcraft game, you have the option with each new character to get a mini-diablo non-combat pet, a panda non-combat pet, or a zergling non-combat pet, in all of his spiky glory.

Now since there are two non-combat pets from Starcraft in World of Warcraft, someone decided to see what would happen if you had them both out at the same time (or discovered it by chance) – they fight! The video above shows that whoever is out first is the winner, but it’s so perfect that the two of them would go at it like this. Now I’m going to have to keep my zergling out all the time.

Play ‘Em Off, Deathwing!


One of the things we’ve been hearing a ton about for the past several days is one of the easter eggs over at the Cataclysm art site. That’s right, Deathwing the Destroyer has his hands on a keyboard, and he’s going to play us off. All of us. You think I’m kidding.

You can click the image above to get a high-res version, or you can head over to the art site and look for the tiny keyboard just underneath the page number and above the footer where the Blizzard logo is.

So, Blizzard – when are we going to see this on a t-shirt? Jinx? Anyone?

Blizzcon 2009 Costume Contest Video


The folks over at posted this (along with a ton of other excellent on-site live coverage of Blizzcon 2009), and if there’s anything I particularly love, it’s cosplay and costume contests. I know, I know, a lot of you probably completely despise cosplay and costumes and think it’s only the kind of thing geeky nerds would do and I’m sure you’re absolutely sure you’re better than anyone who would ever express their fandom this way, and if that’s the case skip this post and move on.

That being said, for those folks who can appreciate the time and effort and passion that anyone who puts together a costume for their favorite fandom, whether it’s because they’re headed to an anime convention, ComicCon, or in this case, Blizzcon, take a look at the video of the finalists in this year’s Blizzcon costume contest!

There’s an absolutely stunning Valeera Sanguinar, an incredibly detailed shaman, a pally named Guido, a shivarra complete with six arms, a really REALLY elaborate Mistress of Pain, and of course, the legend himelf, Kel’Thuzad. Who wins? You’ll have to check out the video to find out!

Announcing: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm


So all of the rumors, all the leaks, they all turned out to be true.

This morning, Metzen got on stage at Blizzcon and made official what Warcraft fans on the Web have been arguing about for the past week or so. The next expansion to World of Warcraft will be called Cataclysm.

The Maelstrom roars and rips Azeroth apart: all starting zones are being reworked, and as a result of the chaos and world-changing events, zones that were previously off-limits and closed to us will now be open. The Greymane wall has been shattered, and the Night Elves step up to bring the Worgen into the Alliance. The Goblins of Kazzan (one faction of Goblins, not all of them) who lives on islands out to sea have fled their homelands because of the trauma, only to become refugees in a strange land they’d never seen, fighting enemies they don’t know (like the Kul’Tiras) – and when all seems lost for them, the Orcs step up to offer a hand of friendship and bring them into the Horde.

The Cataclysm is truly cataclysmic: Darkshore is re-made, Auberdine is destroyed. Ashenvale falls and Astranaar is firebombed by the horde. Lava runs where the Barrens used to be. Desolace is now a vibrant, lush place, and ruin exists where cities once stood and vice versa. As a result, the Horde and Alliance battle even more to secure scarce resources as the world is turned upside down. Races adapt new classes to keep up the fight (also as leaked), and finally you can fly in Azeroth.

And above it all? Deathwing has returned.

From the site:

An ancient evil lies dormant within Deepholm, the domain of earth in the Elemental Plane.

Hidden away in a secluded sanctuary, the corrupted Dragon Aspect Deathwing has waited, recovering from the wounds of his last battle against Azeroth and biding his time until he can reforge the world in molten fire.

Soon, Deathwing the Destroyer will return to Azeroth, and his eruption from Deepholm will sunder the world, leaving a festering wound across the continents. As the Horde and Alliance race to the epicenter of the cataclysm, the kingdoms of Azeroth will witness seismic shifts in power, the kindling of a war of the elements, and the emergence of unlikely heroes who will rise up to protect their scarred and broken world from utter devastation.

It’s on, kids.


Watch the announcement trailer shown at Blizzcon today here and check out the new Cataclysm site: [ World of Warcraft: Cataclysm ] where you can see screenshots, download wallpapers (you know you want a shiny happy Deathwing on your desktop), and read all about the new Goblins and Worgen.

update: The WoW Class, Items, and Professional Panel just with the man, the myth, the legend, Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, just ended, and there were HUGE announcements. Just a teaser? Armor penetration? Gone. Mana per 5-seconds? Gone. Defense? Gone. Block Value? Gone. Hunters use focus now instead of mana. Everyone gets a stamina boost. Itemization is going to change. Want more info? was liveblogging the entire panel – read all of the announcements here!

Factions, Classes, Genders, Haircuts: Do Choices Matter Anymore in Azeroth?


With all the news about Cataclysm leaked, about race/class restrictions being eased or outright lifted, upcoming race/faction changes, and the fact that you can already pay to have your server changed, your character’s gender changes, Cadistra, author/artist of the webcomic WoW, Eh? brought up an excellent question over at Twitter (you can follow her @Cadistra, and I’m @halophoenix!):

Do choices matter anymore?

She’s got a point. The majority of the WoW community is incredibly excited for race and faction changes, and the ability to change them whenever you want (for a price, of course). We can already change servers whenever we land on one we don’t like. We can even change the gender of our characters if we decide that bulky Draenei male is too cumbersome to look at and would much prefer the swaggering tail-butt of a Draenei female, or if your male guild leader gets too much crap for playing a female character. It wasn’t such a big deal then, but she’s got an excellent point: don’t like your character’s appearance? Hit the barber shop and spend a little in-game money to change it. Don’t like your server? Transfer off. Don’t like your faction? Soon you can change it! Don’t like your race/class combo? Soon you’ll be able to make whatever you want!

While I don’t think anyone disputes that World of Warcraft is Blizzard’s game and they can change it as they see fit (and that the players reserve the right to pay for it or not pay for a game they do or do not like), there does seem to be a watering down of the restrictions that Blizzard put in place when the game was new. Now players can create Horde and Alliance characters on the same server even if it’s a PVP server – and players, especially old school ones, are realizing that some of the cherished walls that the game originally put up originally in order to make sure that when you created a character, you were making a commitment to something.

Now, with World of Warcaft up to 11 million subscribers and counting, Blizzard may be reducing the importance of those choices in order to provide flexibility to its player base, which may not understand or care about those commitments or the lore and story around them and are just in a mad rush to play, experience content, and get to the end-game raiding.

What do you think? It’s clear that the choices are being diluted, but do you think they still matter? Why do you think Blizzard is so ready to drop the barriers between races, classes, and factions now, of all times? Shout it out in the commnents!

Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched: A Technical Perspective


Fair warning: I’m about to go full geek on you guys here. I don’t work for Blizzard, otherwise I don’t think I’d be able to make a post like this. Not that I’m giving away anything here; this is all highly speculative, but I can happily say that when I’m not writing, I work in the management team of an IT department at a multi-million dollar company. We’re not huge, but because of the nature of what we do, we make an incredible investment in technology – both new, bleeding edge tech that really hasn’t been vetted out (and yes, we pay for it sometimes in man hours and product failures) and in finding out that a lot of technology available simply isn’t up to the task of the work that we do. Our datacenter easily has over a petabyte of data at rest, and servers with four quad-core processors and 128GB of RAM in them are a normal buy for us…and we buy them so often because our production jobs on those boxes still take days to complete.

Now we’re heavy on processing data, crunching information, re-arranging bits and bytes. We’re no Blizzard, with its round-the-clock uptime requirements (although we don’t get a weekly all-day maintenance window like they do) and 11 million customers banging away at our applications and hardware every day. But I do know a little something about capacity planning, and I do know a little something about resource management, and I think I can throw Blizzard a bone here on the whole “Additional Instances Cannot Be Launched” issue as well as help players understand why Blizzard is being so hush-hush on the nature of the problem.

The “Additional Instances” problem has resurfaced to a large extent recently, with the new patch, new content that presses players to go back and experience older instances and content, and across a number of different WoW-related blogs and podcasts I’ve heard all but consistent grumbling about it. Over on the WoW Insider Show (the podcast of, I heard Michael Sacco (who used to work for Blizzard and is under NDA) explain that Blizzard is taking it seriously and doing some cool stuff to try and fix it. That got me thinking: “What kind of cool stuff is my company doing to optimize our datacenter? Maybe we’re similar to Blizzard?” Over on RawrCast, I’ve heard Stompalina and Haf complain about it several times.

That’s not to say there isn’t something to complain about. It’s downright frustrating not being able to play the content you pay to play. At its heart, I think it’s a hardware problem, and here’s what I can infer: (I leave open the possibility that I’m completely wrong, by the way.)


Of Leaks and Cataclysms: More Speculation on Cataclysm Leaked


First MMO Champion said it, then said it, and now that it’s been a few days since both sites leaked information that is rumored to be details from the upcoming expansion that’s also rumored to be called World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, the dust has settled a bit and revealed a few very important things.

First, let’s take a look at the news that’s caused such an outrage, shall we?

New Races and Class Combinations:
* Goblins
* Worgens
* Human Hunter
* Orc Mage
* Night Elf Mage
* Dwarf Mage
* Blood Elf Warrior
* Dwarf Shaman
* Undead Hunter
* Tauren Paladin
* Tauren Priest
* Gnome Priest
* Troll Druid

Leveling Experience
* Level Cap raised to 85
* Azshara becomes a low level starting zone
* Barrens split up into two separate zones

Azeroth will be entirely revamped.

Flying is allowed in parts of old Azeroth.

Unreleased zones and dungeons, including Hyjal, Gilneas, and Uldum will become part of WoW.

Deathwing and Azshara will be playing a major role in the Cataclysm that will happen.

I’m skeptical, to a very large extent – some of the race/class combinations don’t really make sense, and the lore implications of both Goblins and Worgen and some of the changes to the fundamentals of the game (flying in Azeroth, starting zones changing, etc) are pretty wide ranging and sound like either they must have been in the works for years, or it’d be an awful lot of work for this next expansion.

But unlike a lot of people (and I’ll get to this later) just because I don’t want something to be true doesn’t mean that it might not be – we’ll see. As to the notion of Goblins and Worgen, I hit on that in a previous post, but let’s dive a little deeper, shall we?

So we know that the worgen made their appearance in Azeroth thanks to Velinde Starsong and Arugal, both of whom started summoning worgen into the world for their own reasons. Need a history lesson? Cadistra of WoW, Eh has an excellent primer as this week’s comic.

of worgen…

Velinde prayed to Elune for a weapon to help her clean up Felwood and push back the corruption, and she got that weapon in the form of the Scythe of Elune (which makes an appearance in Northrend as part of a quest chain where you essentially give it back to a group of worgen in Grizzly Hills before you know what they are). She summons more and more worgen into Azeroth and uses them essentially as weapons of war – until she loses control of them and presumably she dies at their hands – that quest chain is woefully unresolved.

Arugal on the other hand was a mage of the Kirin Tor who saw Dalaran overrun by the scourge and, frustrated with the Kirin Tor’s seeming inability to cleanse the scourge from Azeroth started summoning Worgen into the world from Shadowfang Keep to – that’s right – use them as a weapon of war against the scourge. Arugal’s worgen were fairly effective against the scourge, but as if the two events were scripted together, the same thing happened to Arugal that happened to Velinde: the worgen turned on their masters and started killing them outright.

So then, it’s clear that the worgen would have no love for the scourge, but I’m curious how Blizzard will explain their siding with the alliance. It would seem to me they would be a better match for the Horde.

of goblins…

The Goblins are the opposite. They used to be members of the Horde in the Warcraft II and Warcraft III (pre-Frozen Throne) storyline, but left after the Second War in favor of neutrality when they realized it would make them a ton more money to trade with both the Horde and the Alliance. While they may not harbor any specific hate for the Horde, it’s curious why they would break neutrality to join the Horde again, especially considering the fact that they broke with them once. It would almost make more sense for them to join the Alliance, especially in light of the other rumors about the Horde…unless something happens to make them really attractive to the Goblins, or unless Blizzard just wants to make them the equivalent of Horde Gnomes.

The new race/class combos, as some have asserted, may be indicative of the rise of some of the various factions in the game that aren’t directly allied with the capital cities. Dwarven Shamans could be Wildhammer, for example.

In any event, only time will tell whether this is all just rumor and speculation or whether it’ll all come to light. We’ll find out as news filters out of Blizzcon next week!

That being said, I hardly think that sites like MMO Champion and would risk their credibility with the fan community by reporting on these without being confident in their sources, and I highly doubt they would post this kind of information just to stir up this kind of trouble.

That brings me to a more nuanced point about journalism, ethics, and anonymous sources, but definitely a digression, so I’ll put it behind the jump below.


Do You Wanna Date My Avatar?


Yes, Felicia Day, we do want to date your avatar. Boy do we want to date your avatar. And we’re apparently not alone, either – the hashtag #datemyavatar is huge on Twitter right now, and the stars of The Guild are well worth the commotion.

If you’re not watching The Guild, you really realy need to be – considering it’s available on the Web, on XBox Live, on YouTube, and just about everywhere else easy to get, there’s no excuse for you not watching this hilarious show about a group of real-life friends and very human characters who all get together in their favorite MMO to escape from their real-world troubles, raid some dungeons, and gear up their characters. The show isn’t built around any particular MMO, but the inspiration from games like World of Warcraft is completely unmistakable, so WoW fans will be more than rewarded for watching.

Seriously, the video is a combination of hilarious and sexy – perfect for a gamer’s sensibilities, don’t you think? Head over here to see The Guild – Do You Wanna Date My Avatar in all of it’s HD, full-scren glory!

update: love the song? Want to support the cast of The Guild? Head over and download the mp3 and/or the video at AmazonMP3 and at iTunes!

…I’m better than a real world quest!

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