In marked contrast to February, this was a fabulous time for the arts and WoW Moviewatch. However, what jumps out at me most about March are the number of things that, with the benefit of hindsight, we realized Blizzard was already thinking about for Mists of Pandaria. Stat scaling, tank design, and cryptic responses in the developer Q&As from March all make reappearances later in the year.
Rai Yer a wizard, Harrypotterarthasdk.
You won't see quite so many editorials this time around, as most of our writers were too busy getting pasted in the revamped troll dungeons (or, as Sacco referred to them, Zul'Again) on the patch 4.1 PTR.
Oh, and Adam introduced us all to Rebecca Black's Friday.
%&* you, Adam.
New Winged Lion mount coming soon to the Blizzard store Otherwise known as Sparkle Pony 2: Electric Boogaloo.
GDC 2011: Tom Chilton discusses Cataclysm design, talent, and zone revamps This is an unusually in-depth interview, and one that had a number of insights into the process of redesigning classic Azeroth. The thing that stands out most is Chilton's assertion that some heavily revamped zones like Desolace lost something in the expansion. The mechanics of questing there are much easier and better designed these days, but that doesn't mean that the overall appeal of the zone was preserved.
Ghostcrawler returns to the conversation, talking about hit and expertise on tanking gear The problems being discussed here would later resurface in Blizzard's design development for tanks in Mists of Pandaria. Oh, you don't care about hit and expertise? We'll make you care.
Patch 4.1 will not contain Firelands raid content The news item is less interesting than the reason given for the delay: Players just hadn't progressed as much through Cataclysm's initial raids as developers had expected. Hmm. About two weeks later, Ghostcrawler blogged about raid balance, its effect on progression, and the difficulty of tuning content in all its forms (e.g., heroic 10-man raids are especially a nightmare) just right. Hmm.
WoW's undercurrent at PAX East McCurley, Sacco, and Fox all went to PAX East this year, and WoW is kind of like the bass line in R&B music: always there, always subtly (or not-so-subtly) influencing everything you hear.
Gold Capped: Improving the default Auction House interface As Basil noted, "Lots of this ended up happening, if only to the paid remote AH."
Officers' Quarters: Based on true events A player who had contacted Scott Andrews privately got back in touch. These are three letters between the two that are a little tough to parse here, but in essence it's Reasonable Guildie vs. Incest, Rape, Genital Mutilation, and Bestiality discussion in guild chat. And it has a happy ending! For most people, anyway.
PAX East 2011: Will World of Warcraft ever go free-to-play? Fox sat in on a panel discussion at PAX East concerning the free-to-play model for MMOs and afterwards talked to several game studio executives, who theorized that Blizzard had to be at least thinking about moving WoW to a free-to-play model. A great article that examined why Blizzard might do this, whether it was a good idea, and the changes we might expect to see to the game if it happens.
Public Service Announcement: Don't file false GM reports As Dan says, you'd think this would be self-evident, and yet ...
Around Azeroth: It was a rock lobster! In which the props in goblin zones reach new heights of absurdity.
Blizzard 20-year anniversary retrospective video now online The video itself is great, don't get me wrong, but what always cracked me up about this article is how our commenters immediately corrected Blizzard. Diablo II was released in 2000, not 1997.
Around Azeroth: Honky-tonk women Beyoncé would be proud.
WoW Moviewatch: Southshore Everyone ran to iTunes after watching.
World of WarCrafts: Aly's whimsical Warcraft world "I loved doing this interview," said Anne, "and I love this artist's work." We agreed. The incredible stylization of Aly's work makes it a standout.
WoW Moviewatch: My Mortality Remember Mad World of Warcraft from January? The huge response to her first video spurred Brunhila to make another, this one a send-up of Evanescence's My Immortal and a critique of inter-faction tourism efforts.
WoW Moviewatch: Blah Blah Blah This was, by far, one of the most controversial Moviewatch picks of the year, for a reason that'll become obvious fairly quickly. Though I thought it was a catchy song all the same.
WoW Moviewatch: Gnome Fukkireta I have not the faintest idea what the fukkireta meme is all about, but this was pretty cute, and -- wait, is that the protagonist from Cloud Nine?
Scattered Shots: Grandpappy Frostheim on pet happiness Players have a tendency to romanticize mechanics that have since disappeared from the game. As Frostheim points out, any rational evaluation of pet happiness was enough to demonstrate that it wasn't really something to miss.
Shifting Perspectives: Balance druid talents and the illusion of choice A harsh but I think ultimately accurate indictment of several talents in the balance tree that have no real impact on the spec's performance. "If there's no statistical difference between having a talent and not, then what's the point of it?"
Totem Talk: Wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff vs. mastery Every expansion seems to be plagued by a stat that's necessary but not particularly intuitive, and in Cataclysm, it's haste. As Sarah observes, elemental shaman no longer have the luxury (or would the word more properly be boredom?) of just stacking spellpower and haste, and gear choices doesn't exist in a vacuum. Frostheim also attacked the issue in Scattered Shots: Musings on hunter haste design later that month.
Raid Rx: Raid healing horror stories that taught us a thing or two Matticus' second story, even if it was prompted by a personal nightmare on his end, is one of those gems that you really need to haul out for your drunk guildies (or, for that matter, coworkers) at BlizzCon. When healer stacking, redoing assignments, experimenting with cross assignments, sacrificing a farm animal, and prayer don't work, you might try asking the tank to equip his shield.
Arcane Brilliance: Arcane, frost, and fire problems Archmage Pants writes a three-part series examining each spec's current issues in raid content and how they might be fixed. Particularly notable for the following sound bite:
The Light and How to Swing It: An interview with the all-business Diamondtear Chase interviews Diamondtear, DREAM Paragon's holy paladin.
You remember when you were a kid and you didn't want to eat your mom's meat loaf because it looked and smelled like something left in the wake of a mule with irritable bowels? And then she'd tell you to eat it because kids in whatever African country happened to be having a famine that year had it way worse than you? That's how frost and arcane mages want to respond when fire mages complain.
Blood Pact: Who is the best choice to link with Dark Intent? Sometimes I think Tyler writes these articles just to have an excuse to do more math.
Drama Mamas: How many chances should misbehaving guild members get? This is the sort of topic that might just as easily fit into Officers' Quarters, but as Robin and Lisa noted, it's less about guild management and more about holding people accountable: "This situation is a rat's nest of excuses -- and there's really no excuse at all for repeated bad behavior."
WoW Archaeologist: World of Warcraft beta patch 0.8 and 0.9 Alex started what turned out to be an enormously popular new feature examining the game's previous patches, although you probably know it better these days as WoW Archivist.
Breakfast Topic: Are Cataclysm gear ilevels too big a jump from Wrath? Developers had aired concerns about stat inflation in Wrath, and the trend sure wasn't going anywhere. Stay tuned: You'll see this issue rear its ugly head again later this year.
Know Your Lore: War of the Ancients, part 4: Time wizards and tinfoil hats The entire series is very much worth your time (and you'll find a link in the first part of Rossi's article), but this particular entry unravels what happened to the original time lines as a result of time travelers' incessant meddlings. Not to be outdone, Anne followed through a few days later with Know Your Lore, Tinfoil Hat Edition: The genesis of the Infinite Dragonflight.
All the World's a Stage: Gender and roleplaying Players are often nervous about roleplaying a character with a different gender, but the more time you spend on that, the more you might be sacrificing what makes that character truly interesting in the first place. As Sukugaru says in the comments, "Play the person first, and then worry about the gender."
15 Minutes of Fame: Raiding without their strats on This was an incredible 15 Minutes. If you want the closest thing to a "classic experience" in WoW, then just avoid the avalanche of information, discussion, and strategy talk that players produce for new boss fights, and charge in cold.
The OverAchiever: The curious case of the Grey Riding Camel I'm still surprised at the number of players who are completely unaware of this weird-but-wonderful aspect of Uldum.
Drama Mamas: Vent troubles vs. That Guy That Guy makes occasional appearances in WoW Insider articles, and it's always a fun read when he does. However, Robin and Lisa aren't willing to let the letter writer off the hook, either.
If you enjoyed this article, you might get a kick out of our Best of 2009 and Best of 2010 series.