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About the Bloggers: Eric Vice

What's your main right now?

My main character is a level 70 assassination rogue. I've tried just about every rogue build and assassination is just what I feel the most comfortable with. I also have a restoration shaman I really enjoy who is getting close to 70. (Real men level resto!) I also have a hunter in the mid-60's.

For the Horde or Glory to the Alliance?

Alliance all the way. I've tried Horde a few times, but it keeps giving me lower back pain.

Favorite thing to do in Azeroth?

I'm a compulsive Control-Clicker. I love control-clicking phat epic lootz and seeing how they look on my characters. I also get a big kick out people-watching in-game and seeing some of the silly and outrageous character and guild names people come up with.

What's the best instance in the game?

Scarlet Monastery. If you have enough rest and a good group you can pick up two levels in that place easy. And the resale value of the metric ton of silk you'll pick up isn't a bad perk either. The layout is predictable, and it's nearly impossible to get lost. I detest rat maze zones (Razorfen Kraul, anyone?)

What's the worst instance in the game?

Maraudon hands-down. I hate that place. The encounter is way too long, and it's out in the middle of nowhere in probably one of the bleakest zones in the game.

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Filed under: About the Bloggers

Gold farmers try to take their game onto guild web sites

Last week I wrote about my harrowing experience of finding a gold farmer in one of my instant messaging windows. Apparently somebody "in one of those countries" (I'm slapped on the wrist every time I single-out China) must have swallowed a creativity pill. Just when I thought there was nothing new on the horizon, Aleeyah from Livejournal posted an article -- complete with screenshot -- of an odd in-game e-mail that was received from someone we can fairly safely assume is in the professional gold farming business.

The written English in the in-game message is nearly bad enough to send one of my editors into a seizure. It's almost bad enough you can't understand it at all. The bare essentials that I can (barely) glean from the message is that the farmers are now offering gold to guilds in exchange for advertising.

Why would they do this? As I said in my last article on this subject, I think they're losing on the home front. I think their current marketing techniques are not bringing the level of revenue that they want. I think more and more people are discovering just how easy it is to right-click a spammer when they're checking their mail, silence the spam, and have the feel-good feeling of knowing they've done something right for their community. I know I do it all the time. I won't go as far as to call Blizzard's anti-spam tactics a flourishing success, but as the old saying goes "If you can't beat 'em, wear 'em down," and I think that's exactly what is starting to happen.

So if real-money transactions are frowned upon by Blizzard and prosecuted by Blizzard, why wouldn't they just try and move their advertising medium to neutral ground? Sure, there are lots of guilds that will have nothing to do with selling their corporate souls to the devil in this manner. You can rest assured however that there are also lots that would jump at an opportunity like this that could pay for all their bank tabs for nothing more than a measly advertisement on their guild web site. It does bring up the interesting question however, of whether a guild that supported a gold farming business financially could potentially face retribution from Blizzard. While I can't see a guild getting banned en masse for this, it would sure be a wakeup call if such a guild logged in to find their tag gone along with all their guild bank slots and contents.

Does this mean that the spamming around the Ironforge and Orgrimmar mailboxes is going to let up? Not likely, or at least not very much. It just means "these people" have found yet another way to devastate our server economies for their own profit.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Economy

The evolution of the gold farming industry

It's a rare event when I wake up, walk to the computer, yawn, and think to myself what I could possibly write about only to have an article walk up to me, sit in my lap, and cuddle. Today it happened.

We've all seen what I call the evolution of spam in-game. First it was just straight tell spam. Blizzard fixed that. Then it was group spam. Now it seems gold farmers have taken to just sitting in the capital cities and screaming their lungs off until they get reported and/or zapped by a GM.

I think the reporting mechanism is starting to get to them though. Every time they lose an account (when it's reported) they have to make a new one. In the scope of the money they're making it's really not a big deal, but it's tedious repetition and I saw the first signs this morning that they've shifted their focus and are moving to more aggressive tactics.

I fired up Adium (my Mac instant messenger) and was immediately greeted by a request for contact authorization. I'll stop here for a moment so you can gasp, because what happened after this is exactly what you think. I looked at the address that was requesting authentication and it didn't really ring a bell. I looked at the display picture and saw a cropped screenshot of two blood elves staring back at me. I reasoned that it had to be someone from my guild, even though I wasn't sure who. I accepted the request and the contact appeared on my contact list. As it turns out, they were online.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Breakfast Topic: The stealth /gquit and other lost art forms

If a guild mate logs in at an hour when most of the guild is sleeping (or simply nobody is around) and /gquits, is it a stealth /gquit?

Amanna over at Adventures in Azeroth (who I have to wonder might be the first appliance-spec druid judging by the name) asks this question after having done this exact thing. Many times over the past couple of years I have been tempted to do this myself. There is always such a recoil when you leave a guild, even if you try to take the high road and make it as drama-free as possible. No matter how many people there may be that irritate you in any given guild, there are always two or three -- or twelve -- that really like you and don't want you to go. Thus, your planned drama-free departure is suddenly less drama-free.

How can you get out of a guild and make a clean break? Have you ever performed the stealth /gquit personally? Was it successful?

(And yes, I watched Mr. Deeds the other day, and it was foremost in my mind when I created the accompanying picture. Does it show?)

Filed under: Guilds, Breakfast Topics

AddOns for the beginning player

There isn't a web site on the planet that loves it's readers more than WoW Insider does. So when Brenda from Florida wrote to us and told us how much she loved World of Warcraft, and asked us for opinions on what "essential" add-ons she would need to get started, there was no choice but to respond and offer up this recap of addons for beginning players.

There are hundreds of add-ons out there, and as your journey progresses through the game you will find new ones you like. This is just, as Baloo from The Jungle Book would say, the simple bear bare necessities.

Lightheaded - Since they inflated the experience benefit in the last patch, using Lightheaded to quest brings experience so quickly it will make your head spin. Lightheaded adds quest information from the comments on the database site to your quest log. All the information you would have to tab-out for is at your fingertips. I heartily recommend using Doublewide in concert with Lightheaded, which will put your quest log in two panes instead of one to make it fit more easily on the screen. It's like peanut butter and chocolate, two great tastes that go great together. If you want to learn more about Lightheaded check out this awesome article (with accompanying awesome screenshot) from our own David Bowers.

Cartographer - You need Cartographer. Cartographer is essentially "the" map add-on as far as I'm concerned, You'll find all the great features of Cartographer on the page I linked, but the most important Cartographer feature to a new player (who uses Lightheaded) is that when you click a set of coordinates in Lightheaded, it will show you a floating arrow on your screen that points the way to your destination. (As a free tip, I will also mention that you can ditch the arrow and clear all waypoints by typing /noway. Yes, I know you can do it with the mouse, but... I'm one of those weird keyboard people.)

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Filed under: Add-Ons, Guides, WoW Rookie

Shaman awesomeness duplicated in other classes

I love my shaman. She is not my main character, but I have a blast playing her. She is unashamedly almost full restoration spec. I love the flexibility of the class, and I love the fact that even though I'm most commonly an instance healer, I can take a (little bit of a) beating when I have to.

The other great thing about being a shaman are all the cool abilities that are unique to the shaman class. Or are they?

Baluki has written an excellent post on his blog outlining some of the ways that you can duplicate some of the more unique shaman skills using potions, trinkets, and various other forms of voodoo. Some of them are obvious, like using Goblin Jumper Cables to resurrect another player, which mimics Ancestral Spirit. I didn't know though, that there is a Darkmoon Faire card you can use to give yourself a 10% opportunity to reincarnate when you die, which mimics the shaman Reincarnation ability.

You're going to have to read the rest of the article to find the rest of the good stuff, but it's definitely worth a read. Baluki has obviously done a lot of research and presented a very nice resource to us! Thank you, Baluki!

Filed under: Shaman, Odds and ends

Pet food with stats is coming in 2.3!

Hot on the heels of the announcement that 2.3 has been pushed to the Blizzard Downloader, I found this lovely post from the highly-esteemed tradeskill priestess Kaliope about a pet food recipe she is playing with on the PTR that will go live with 2.3.

Ironically I was just reminiscing the other day of the summoned pet gear items that mages are able to summon for pets in the original Everquest and wondered why no pet-specific items existed in World of Warcraft. (The degree of accuracy with which Blizzard continues to read my mind on occasion is startling!)

The recipe for Kibler's Bits, which is obtained from the daily cooking quests from The Rokk in Lower City, makes pet food that offers twenty strength and spirit for thirty minutes. I would be somewhat amused if this food had an amusing debuff if eaten by a player.

Buzzard Meat. Is there anything it can't do?

Filed under: Cooking, Odds and ends, News items

World of Carebearcraft

A gentleman by the name of Rokhazulu from the guild Sociopath on the Smolderthorn server wrote a post on the general forums this morning that caught my attention.

In his thread titled "World of Carebearcraft", Mr. Rokhazulu cries out to his listeners, extolling the virtues of faction-based player versus player combat that "made Warcraft such a great strategy game for the generations." Mr. Rokhazulu seems to feel that even though the PvP feature is present in World of Warcraft, the PvP spirit is definitely not present.

I know lots of people who PvP. I know lots of people who literally live in battlegrounds. If I'm reading this right, what Rokhazulu wants is violence and carnage. He wants active rivalry and hostility between the two main factions and immersive world PvP.

Checking the server list, I find that Smolderthorn is indeed a PvP server. Are the PvP servers becoming carebear-infested wastelands? Are PvP players becoming – no pun intended – a dying breed? Do you think world PvP in World of Warcraft is viable as it is now? What do you think can be done to improve it?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, PvP, Forums

Is the new Cheat Death cheating?

I was standing under Moen's Nozzle of Inspiration a while ago. No, that's not an in-game item, I'm talking about my shower head. Ever since I got back from my mini-vacation this week I've just been completely blank about what to write about. There were a few topics rolling around in my head, but no stories. Suddenly, the rabbit joke appeared and everything came into focus.

You've all heard the rabbit joke. A guy is traveling down the road when he accidentally sends a rabbit to its permanent death. He pulls over to verify if the rabbit is indeed dead, and as he's standing there staring at the rabbit cadaver, a mysterious passerby stops and asks what's happening. The saddened man explains that he didn't mean to kill the rabbit, and points to the dead animal on the ground. The mysterious passerby goes to their vehicle and returns with an aerosol can. He picks up the rabbit, sprays the rabbit, and in a moment reminiscent of the Mr. Jingles scene from The Green Mile, the rabbit springs to life. The happy varmint leaves the two onlookers, travels down the road, waves, travels a little further, waves, and continues doing this until it disappears out of sight. The two relieved strangers part company leaving our original rabbit killer standing confused on the side of the road wondering what was sprayed on the rabbit. He picks up the can to read it. "Hare spray. Revitalizes hare, and gives it a permanent wave."

Well. Some people are mighty worried about what Blizzard is intending to spray on some previously nerfed rogues, and I would be one of them. I was personally so sickened by the Subtlety talent tree (that served me well from levels one to seventy) that I recently respec'ed to a common Assassination/Combat blend. While mere words can't explain how deeply amusing it is to watch something die when you're not even hitting it, I really miss the "WHAMMO" effect I used to have in the subtlety tree. It looks though, from changes on the PTR to the subtlety tree that subtlety may not be a lost art form after all. Eliah applied more than adequate emphasis to the changes in the Cheat Death talent the other day, but Doomilias over at A View From Behind has experienced the changes first-hand and even as a rogue says the changes are overpowered. He believes there is no way that Cheat Death is going to go to the live servers with a 33/66/100% spread. He thinks that a 100% immunity to killing blows coupled with a brief period of invincibility and a short cooldown is a recipe for disaster. Doomilias thinks that this "new and improved" Cheat Death is going to breed an entire nation of roguetards that will flood battlegrounds like an army of ants. What do you rogues think? I don't know what the rest of you think, but I think I'm going to copy to the PTR and spec back to subtlety and give this new stuff a try!

Filed under: Rogue, Classes

WoW knows no age

As I was driving home from lunch today, I was thinking about (brace yourself) last night's episode of Grey's Anatomy. You may wonder how I'm going to steer this toward World of Warcraft, but bear with me for a second. I was really excited when I heard that Edward Hermann was going to be making an appearance this season, and thought maybe he would be filling the role of the replacement for Isaiah Washington's departed Preston Burke character. (No, you haven't browsed to TV Squad by accident. Hang on. I'm getting to a point.) As fans of the show recently found out though, this was not the case. Mr. Hermann's character Dr. Norman Shales was not to be an experienced, wise cardiac surgeon He was to be an intern learning to be a doctor after spending thirty years of his life as a pharmacist.

Last night as I watched Dr. Shales attempt to "relate" to the other interns and residents and attending physicians (who were all half his age) I suddenly realized that the reason I was enjoying this character so much (other than the fact I love Mr. Hermann's work) is that his role as Dr. Shales is really a metaphor of the experience of so many middle-aged and older players (including myself) in World of Warcraft.

I am fortunate to be in a fantastic mature guild where the median age is probably ten years higher than most, but I think I still rank among the top five oldest. Guild events aren't a big deal. The discomfort comes in interaction with folks -- who may be perfectly fine players -- who either can't believe somebody in their late thirties (or older) is playing World of Warcraft, or can't understand the way somebody in that age bracket thinks.

Even though I know I'm not the oldest World of Warcraft player in the world, I was encouraged (and amazed) to read this interview reposted on of an interview with an 80-year-old World of Warcraft player. (Be warned. The English is very, very rough because the interview is translated. I think "mad" is meant in a good way in it's frequent uses in the interview.) What's the oldest player you've seen in your guild or server? How do they contribute to your guild? How do you handle them differently?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Interviews