Of Leaks and Cataclysms: More Speculation on Cataclysm Leaked


First MMO Champion said it, then WoW.com 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 WoW.com 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.

of journalism, law, and ethics…

First this has proven to me that there are some people out there who are way too serious about this game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people personally and directly attack the credibility and personality of bloggers and writers the way I have in the wake of these two announcements. The hate levvied that the staff of WoW.com and MMO Champion has been unparalleled, and it’s really frightening. If we had leaked the information first (which wouldn’t have been possible, I’m not kidding myself here) I would only hope that the folks reading here would have been a little more kind.

That being said, I also realize that there are a ton of people who really don’t understand what it means to report, be a journalist, or even live in that blogging middle-ground that’s not quite established journalism but is still in the business of providing information to an interested community. A very vocal element of the WoW community started screaming because WoW.com and MMO Champion wouldn’t name the inside sources that have provided them the information they’ve reported, essentially insisting on their sources being revealed or the posts be retracted.

I literally got into a discussion during the last live stream of Rawrcast with someone who claimed to be a law student about the nature of anonymous sources. He claimed that anonymous sources had to be named legally or face contempt charges, and that people have the right to face their accusers, both points only partially true (the latter far more than the former) and both revealing a lack of understanding of law and journalism.

The error here with the first point is that the assertion comes from the relatively recent case of Valerie Plame, where reporter Judith Miller spent time in prison under a contempt of court charge because she wouldn’t reveal the anonymous source that disclosed to her – which she then disclosed in print – the identity of former undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame, married to former ambassador Joeseph Wilson, who was a critic of the Bush Administration in the lead up to the Iraq war. In this case, the court decided the source must be named because the damage that was done (essentially the outing of an undercover CIA agent) posed a risk to life and limb of the agent and a risk to national security. This particular case, in the judge’s discretion, outweighed the right of journalists to keep their sources anonymous.

The error with the second assertion is simply that in a case like this there is no defamation or personal harm being done. If this were a case of libel or slander and a reporter printed something that was particularly defaming of a specific person, that person could then sue to have the source named so that person could take the source to court for defamation of character. Even then, the case is tenuous.

of shutting the hell up…

In the end, a reporter’s right to keep sources protected an anonymous is at the highest level one of the elements of the Constitutional freedom of the press, and it has only very rarely been walked on by the legal system – and when it has been, to chilling effects. Students of law would be wise to look up cases like Watergate (as in Deep Throat, a source who went unnamed until his death in 2005, when it was revealed to be William Mark Felt, Sr.) to see a textbook example of how journalistic law protects anonymous sources, and more recently the case of Josh Wolf, a blogger who fought and went to prison to keep his source anonymous, to see how arguments on both sides are shaped.

Now back to the topic of WoW.com and MMO Champion – neither of these cases have to do with libel or slander, national security, or any risk to life or limb or livlihood of anyone aside from perhaps the anonymous source who revealed the information. It is perfectly acceptable, legal, and frankly within WoW.com and MMO Champion’s rights to not divulge their sources. Leave them be. Journalistically I’m more of a fan of bring right as opposed to being first, but only time will tell if any of us are either of those things.

I think there’s more than enough room to doubt the rumors and the leaks, there’s more than enough room to be suspicious of the source, and more than enough room to wonder if this information is even remotely true, but there is absolutely no room to personally attack the people who report it or their credibility just because you may not like what the rumors say.

3 Comments so far

  1. buffd.net (unregistered) on August 19th, 2009 @ 2:25 am

    Of Leaks and Cataclysms: More Speculation on Cataclysm Leaked | Azeroth Metblogs…

    First MMO Champion said it, then WoW.com 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 ha…

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  3. Announcing: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm | Azeroth Metblogs (pingback) on August 22nd, 2009 @ 12:55 am

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