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Elizabeth Harper

Austin, TX - http://www.vampiresdontdance.com/

Writer, gamer, herder of puppies.

Breakfast Topic: Do you play betas?

Though there's always a lot of excitement when a new Blizzard game goes into alpha or beta testing stages -- both Heroes of the Storm and Warlords of Draenor are currently in an early alpha stage -- actually playing games at this point is sometimes less than fun. Alpha and beta games are meant for testing, which means they're full of bugs and prone to changes. But the worst of it, for me, is the fact that none of my character progress is kept -- anything I do in an alpha or beta version I'll have to do again later when the final game goes live.

It's completely understandable that Blizzard -- and other game developers -- need to wipe progress made while the game was still being tested, but for me it kills a lot of the fun because on launch day the starting content is already becoming a repetitive grind. The end result is that while I enjoy reading early news about betas, I don't tend to play them for fun. But what about you, readers? Are you already looking forward jumping into the Heroes or Warlords betas -- or would you rather wait for the finished product?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Do you take WoW breaks?

Though we all enjoy World of Warcraft -- we wouldn't be here otherwise -- sometimes even the things we love can become a bit tired over time. This is particularly evident now, while we wait for Warlords of Draenor without any new content on the horizon. Going through the same old daily grind can get old quickly, and when the game stops feeling fun and starts feeling like work it may be time for a break.

Maybe that break means visiting another game, catching up on your reading list, or even just playing an new character or a new faction for a change of pace. For some of us, these occasional breaks are a necessity to keep our gaming time fun, while others prefer to stick with it and use downtimes like this to catch up on professions, collections, or achievements. So tell us, readers -- which of these categories do you fall in to? Have you ever taken a WoW vacation, however brief?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

WoW Rookie guide updated with upcoming content info

There's a lot of new content for World of Warcraft on the horizon, but if you're a new or more casual player it can be dizzying to keep up all of the announcements, blue posts, and data mined info. That's why we've just added a section about new content to our Rookie Guide, so that those of you who don't keep up with the day to day news can still know what's important about the next expansion. So why wait? Head over to the Rookie Guide and get caught up on Warlords of Draenor now.

Have new player questions we haven't answered yet? Or maybe you're looking for something you can't find in the rookie guide? Drop us a note and we'll look into covering it for a future WoW Rookie!
Just because you're a newbie doesn't mean you can't bring your A-game to World of Warcraft! Visit the WoW Rookie Guide for links to everything you need to get started as a new player, from the seven things every newbie ought to know to how to get started as a healer or as a tank.

Filed under: WoW Rookie

Blizzard headed to PAX East this weekend

If you're heading to PAX East in Boston this weekend, you'll want to download the PAX guidebook app (for iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry) and check out the schedule to make sure you don't miss anything. But con-goers, whatever their schedule, will be glad to know that Blizzard will out in full force at Booth #848. Lucky attendees will be able to check out demos of: There will also be Blizzard developers on hand, plenty of prizes given away, and a panel on Heroes of the Storm on Friday April 11 at 10:30 a.m. EDT. For everyone staying home this weekend, the panel will be streaming live on PAX's Twitch channel, so if you're itching for new Heroes info, be sure to check it out.

Filed under: News items

What is data mining and why is everyone talking about it?

The recent release of the alpha client for Warlords of Draenor means that there's a lot of talk about data mining that's going around the community. But if you aren't up on your tech jargon, this might not mean much to you -- and Googling the term will send you to a Wikipedia page that tells you data mining aims "to extract information from a data set and transform it into an understandable structure for further use." Even if you are up on your tech jargon, you might not grasp what that means, especially in the context of World of Warcraft.

So let's start with a straightforward definition: data mining is the process of digging through WoW's data files and looking for information like maps, graphics, models, or sounds. It's not hacking or exploiting the game, just looking at the game files -- often, but not always, files that are publicly available -- to see what's there. These files can be from the current game client or come from a PTR or beta build, any of which could have new content that players can't access in the game world. Similar to looking up filming photos from a favorite TV show or movie, data mining gives you a sneak peek at game content that hasn't been publicly released, which can range from hints at the next patch to hints to the next expansion. Hungry for information, plenty of players turn to data mining for answers -- but because Blizzard can change, remove, or expand on unreleased content without any warning, anything data mined needs to be taken with a pretty big grain of salt.

So should you be paying attention to data mined info? In the end, the choice is up to you -- but we'll give you some background on just what WoW data mining might tell you.

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Filed under: WoW Rookie

WoW Moviewatch: Back to Cata

With the long wait for new game content, maybe it's time to go back in time with Back to Cata by Slightly Impressive. After all, there's Cataclysm raids to be raided and achievements to be gotten -- not to mention that whole revamped leveling experience to enjoy. And maybe the occasional fiery death, but only occasional. (Probably.)

If this isn't going back quite far enough for you, you can also go Back to Vanilla, Back to BC, Back to Wrath, and Back to Wrath 2. Happy adventuring, time travelers!
Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: WoW Moviewatch, Cataclysm

Warlords of Draenor: Music, sounds, and maps

While we've been seeing a lot of screenshots and art from the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion, much of WoW's in-game atmosphere is set by the music -- there's only so much we can get from these still images. So if you want to get a feel for the ambience of Draenor, you'll definitely want to check out the music and sound files Wowhead has compiled.

There are 21 music files -- most no more than a minute and a half long, so it's not likely to be the entire soundtrack -- as well as numerous ambience, FX, creature, item, and spell sounds. Though it's a lot to sort through, the reward is great for fans of WoW's soundtrack. But if music isn't your thing, Wowhead also has 17 area maps to peruse -- and until launch day (or at least beta day), this is as close to Draenor as we're likely to get.

Filed under: Warlords of Draenor

Breakfast Topic: Is this really the end of button bloat?

We already knew that Warlords of Draenor would be revamping the game in a big way, but the first look at the 6.0 patch notes gives us a real sense of the scale of the changes that will be hitting us when the patch -- and the expansion -- goes live. It's no surprise that in 15,000 words of patch notes that there's a lot changes in the works. But even knowing that changes were coming, it was still a shock -- especially the skills removed.

But while there are skills I'll miss, what I won't miss is having bars packed with buttons. My screen is full of them, bars upon bars of skills, macros, and consumables I might need at any given time -- not to mention raid bars and other addons that take up screen space. So I'm all for any pruning that lets me stare at buttons less and focus on the game more. The real question is whether this pruning will really be the end of button bloat or if by the end of Warlords -- or the next expansion -- we'll be back to the same button problems we have today.

So, readers, what do you think? Are you for the removal of button bloat -- and do you think this will really fix it?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

The joke is on women in Blizzard's April Fool's gag

Though Blizzard doesn't always treat female characters with as much respect as I'd like, where big game companies are concerned they usually do okay -- heck, the fact that you can play a female character at all puts them ahead of a lot of the gaming industry. But Blizzard doesn't have a particularly spotless record, with sexist NPCs, more sexist NPCs, sexual dimorphism, the lack of women in game lore, and the fact that Aggra won't be heading to Draenor in Warlords -- not to mention the fact that Chris Metzen described the journey as "more of a boy's trip" at BlizzCon. The fact that Blizzard does all of this and I still think of them as doing okay speaks to the exceedingly low standards women have where it comes to inclusion in video games.

And in today's April Fool's gag, the joke's on us with the new female draenei models. Today's draenei are the most sexually dimorphic of the lot, with male models that are extremely muscled and female models that are slender -- but still heavy on the cleavage (seriously, they must have so many back problems). Releasing this so-called ugly draenei model as a joke -- though it might have been intended to poke fun at the gamers who insist on sexualized game characters -- just says outright that any women who aren't the height of perfect beauty are a joke.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

This Warcraft-themed wedding will warm even the most undead heart

If there were in-game weddings in World of Warcraft, we bet they'd look a lot like Jen & Nick's wedding -- with everyone dressed up in their best finery, but not leaving their weaponry at home. For this real life wedding, the weapons were hand-made by the happy couple based on their favorite in-game weaponry, all of which were used to great effect in their wedding photos (like the one above).

Of course this gamer wedding had plenty of other geeky touches, like table decorations themed after WoW raid bosses, horde and alliance seating (instead of bride and groom seating), and a dance to Do You Wanna Date My Avatar. After all, you're (probably) only getting married once, so why not make it memorable?

Filed under: News items

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