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Matthew Rossi

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Matthew Rossi is not a figment of your imagination. Matthew Rossi does not live in Edmonton, AB, in the cold and storied northlands of Canada. Matthew Rossi is not a large silithid. It's possible that this bio is not entirely accurate.

A plethora of World of Warcraft mysteries

Well, actually the article from Kotaku mentions ten, but I feel strongly that ten is a plethora. The video from the DDG guides covers various commenters questions about what that snake in Gundrak is, what the dwarves dug up in Bael Modan, what happened to Neptulon after he got snatched out of Throne of the Tides, and where Tyr went after he abandoned his Temple in Northrend.

It's pretty neat stuff all told, so go watch it already. Number one is pretty interesting, at least I think so. I go there from time to time via the Stratholme dungeon.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Lore

Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?

Okay, I'm sure with a headline like "Is BlizzCon bad for World of Warcraft?" you're already thinking this is it. Rossi has finally snapped. But hear me out for a second. We've had BlizzCons since 2005, before The Burning Crusade was even released. While they haven't happened every year (there was no BlizzCon 2006 and no BlizzCon 2012) it's been fairly regular since its introduction. Last year, Warlords of Draenor was previewed at BlizzCon 2013 - for many of us it's the source of pretty much every opinion we have on the expansion.

That, in fact, is exactly what got me thinking that it's possible that BlizzCon itself is bad for the game, for the game community at large, and for the future of the franchise. BlizzCon, by its very nature, is a hype machine. It's where we learn details about the expansion - its name, its features, its setting and goals - before they are even close to being ready for players. People play demos. Developers give talks about the games. In many ways it's very exciting. I've never been myself, but most of my coworkers and a lot of my in-game friends have. So my argument isn't that BlizzCon itself is bad.

But looking over the past year or so, in terms of Warlords of Draenor and player interaction with it, I start to wonder if having the big reveal at the convention does more harm than good, overall. Expectations are set at the convention - looking at the recent player reaction to the news that Karabor and Bladespire wouldn't be capital cities in Draenor, the issue can in part be traced back to the fact that we were told they would be at BlizzCon. Players (like myself) had months to get excited about the idea of Karabor as a capital city. Then, suddenly, we were told (almost as an afterthought) that no, the capitals were moved to Ashran.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Bugs, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Do you want to keep your old face?

In my extremely accurate and scientific polling (I read some twitter) I have discovered that one of Blizzard's biggest fears for the new character models seems to have been pretty accurate. Even though they've said (multiple times) that the faces on the new models are still a work in progress, I keep seeing the same reaction over and over again - "I really like the new models but my character's face has changed and now it's not as good/not my character." If you remember back to 2009, when the when are they going to update character models talk started being bandied about, you'll remember that being one of Blizzard's biggest arguments against doing it - people get very attached to their characters and think of them in a way that makes them very dangerous to tinker with.

So far it seems like people have a Not My Character's Face policy towards the revamp - they like how the new models are more detailed and are in general much more fluid and animated, but they still don't like it when the faces change.

So how about you? How attached to your character's face?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: We destroy whatever we touch

I was having a discussion on twitter about the previous WoW expansions and someone made the point that in terms of our affect on the places we go, the 'heroes' of World of Warcraft (namely, us) are more like a horde of powerfully equipped locusts. We come in, smash everything, destroy everything and leave with everything in ruins.

Take the Cataclysm expansion. Sure, Deathwing broke most of that stuff. But after our major battle with him, the results of his rampage remained. Mists of Pandaria is even worse - the destruction of the Jade Forest and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms can be laid directly at our feet, really - we're the ones who brought the Horde and Alliance to Pandaria and fought to get them a foothold. Now we're heading to Draenor, and we're leaving Pandaria in a shambles - he might be a massive jerk who fails to grasp the bigger picture, but Taran Zhu is right about one thing. It was us outsiders that destroyed his paradise.

On the other hand, if not for us, Deathwing would have destroyed Azeroth entirely and Pandaria would still be ultimately ruled by the sha, so to my eyes it's kind of balanced out. Can't save a planet without breaking some stuff.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The Queue: Draenei society, Ice cream, Zone uncertainty


Welcome back to The Queue, the daily Q&A column in which the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Matthew Rossi will be your host today.

Answering questions. It is our mission. It is... the Queue.

xashbringerx asks:
Why is it that the Draenei society that we meet in WoD so supposedly different than the Draenei that players can be? Lore-wise, Draenei have been a race in exile/constantly on the run from the Burning Legion since the corruption of Archimonde and Kiljaeden. Isn't the escape from Draenor to Azeroth in our timeline just a status quo for them? Technically, they already suffered a greater loss of their society when Sargeras came and corrupted two of their leaders and 95% of their original population - turning them into the Eredar (who then turned against the now-Draenei, and nearly annihilated them, saved only by Velen and the Naaru. The suffering caused by the Old Horde appears almost insignificant when compared to their original loss at the hand of Sargeras.

The flight from Argus was 25,000 years ago, and it greatly changed draenei society (technically, draenei society didn't even exist 25,000 years ago, they were all just eredar then). They were the ones who exiled themselves - the majority of their old society pledged themselves to Sargeras. Remember, the original name of the race was 'eredar', not draenei -- draenei means exiles.

As for why their society is so much different on Draenor than it is on Azeroth, it's very simple - they almost all died. Not 'we ran away and left our relatives behind' but 'everyone but a small group of battle hardened survivors died'. The original flight was a self-chosen exile. This was "9/10th of everyone we've known and loved for 25,000 years is dead." That's why it's such a big deal. If you think the Old Horde killing just about every single draenei with a handful of survivors is insignificant... well, it probably isn't to the people who had to undergo it.

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Filed under: The Queue, Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: The best part of beta testing

For me, the best part of beta testing is actually getting to find and report bugs. For instance, on the beta right now, helmets, shoulders and weapons are not functioning visually for draenei women. This is kind of weird, but that's not the point. The point is, it's happening, we're reporting it, and it's extremely unlikely it'll make it to live. A lot of people get frustrated when a beta is buggy and doesn't work, but that (in my opinion) isn't a productive attitude. You're on the beta to test it - whether it's a class mechanic that's not functioning (like, as an example, tanks actually taking negative damage in PvP), a texture not appearing, a quest not working, what have you, it's actually kind of awesome when something goes wrong while you're playing so you can report it and improve the ultimate experience.

Of course, some bugs still get through - anyone who played the Alliance side starting quests remembers the bugs that made that very hard to play for some people. But I still enjoy finding a bug on the beta. It's like a kind of prize.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The rise and fall of features in World of Warcraft

I've been playing World of Warcraft since its inception. As a result, I'm as likely to view the game through the lens of my experiences as any player. One of the reasons I'm so thoroughly anti-nostalgia is because I'm actually incredibly nostalgic. If I don't stop myself, if I don't actively make an effort not to, I'll drown in falling down the well of this is how it was and just spend hours annoying the crap out of people who started playing after me. In one guild, I remember doing exactly this - I would spend all raid reminiscing with the other old hands (there were like four of us) and driving the newer raiders crazy comparing fights to raids from BWL to Blackwing Descent. Remember - every fight can be compared to Omnotron. Every fight.

One of the ways this shows up is when any new feature is introduced to the game. As a writer for the site, I always try and stay objective about a new feature, and often, I come to love them - I'm a huge fan of transmogrification, for example, and when they announced reforging a few years back I knew immediately it was going to become a mandatory and huge part of gear strategy. But the fact is this - on an emotional level I hate every single new feature as soon as I hear about it, because they're not my World of Warcraft - it takes an effort on my part to be open minded and I don't often succeed.

As an example - I've written multiple posts essentially defending the decision to remove flight for a while in Warlords' 90 to 100 zones and leave it out. But the fact is, flight was introduced back in The Burning Crusade and I've gotten used to it. I understand and I support the decision from a design perspective. But emotionally? Emotionally I have flying mounts and I want to fly on them. I just plain like being able to shortcut all the things on the ground, even while I get why the design doesn't support it. This divide between what's new and most probably better for the game and my own desires while playing the game isn't limited to wanting flight, either.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

Warlords of Draenor: Gorgrond preview

Fresh on the heels of today's Talador preview, we get a look at Gorgrond, forbidding home of the Iron Horde's industrial machine. Gorgrond is the next step for fighting back Iron Horde aggression -- after you've fought them off in Shadowmoon Valley or Frostfire Ridge, it's time to take the battle to them, and Gorgrond is exactly where you're going to do just that. Smash them Iron Horde. Smash them good.

But they won't just sit back and take it. In Gorgrond you'll come face to face with some of the most powerful and destructive weapons the savage world of Draenor had to challenge you with.

After withstanding the Iron Horde's initial assault, you'll make your way into Gorgrond with a handful of allies to try to discover the Blackrock orcs' intentions and find a way to thwart any plans the Iron Horde may have. It's a perilous recon mission. Gorgrond is a land of giants embroiled in an epic struggle between creation and destruction. It's the kind of place you avoid unless you have a death wish.

If there's one thing I know about players, it's that they can't resist going someplace conce they've been told not to go there. It's like candy to them. I expect we'll all flood to Gorgrond as soon as we possibly can. I for one welcome our new Iron Horde victims, and everything else in the zone that gets in the way, too.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Warlords of Draenor

NowGamer does Draenor/Outland side by side

One of the things I like the most about doing Shadowmoon Valley on the beta is the way it evokes the memories of Outland's version of the zone while clearly being a whole new place, designed from the ground up. Now the folks at NowGamers have put together a video comparing the two zones side by side.

It's cool to have because it does a much better job showing you how it is than telling you can. The way the new zone feels very much like the place before it got ruined, to the point where there's even places that were lost in the Outland version. And man, the elekks and talbuks in Shadowmoon make you feel sad for how much was destroyed and how only a few basilisks can eke out survival in the Outland version of the zone. Very much an elegy for a place destroyed when you see them side by side. Head over and check it out.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Warlords of Draenor

Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was nearly fired by Vivendi

Anyone who's paid attention to the roller-coaster that is Activision's relationship with its former owner Vivendi, here's a new wrinkle for you. Activision CEO and perennial villain in a million fans' hearts Bobby Kotick was nearly let go by Vivendi in 2013 over his refusing to sign off on any deal that excluded his own private investment group.

According to the lawsuit filed in Delaware, this allowed Kotick, Brian Kelly (Activision's Chairman) and their investment partners (including Tencent Holdings Ltd.) to gain a 25% stake in the company at the same rate that Activision itself paid for the remainder. This is claimed to have allowed them to get away with not paying a premium for control over the company. The lawsuit alleges that this is an improper benefit to Kotick, Kelly and their group.

What's really fascinating is that Kotick's stand on this issue, going so far as to threaten to resign in 2013, seems to have been seriously considered by parent company Vivendi. Former Vivendi CEO Jean-Francois Dubos and then-CFO Phillipe Capron were among those speculating on firing Kotick, with Capron going so far as to volunteer to do it the very next day after the email exchange in May of 2013. Considering he was one of the highest paid CEO's of any game company, I'm surprised they chose to back down -- perhaps his contract made firing him punishingly expensive. In the end, Vivendi blinked first and Kotick and his group got to make exactly the deal that they're getting sued over now.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion