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Reader UI of the Week: 3D spell effects eye candy

Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to readerui@wowinsider.com, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

Now this is awesome and share-worthy to the extreme: a UI built around incorporating 3D spell effects from WoW into the UI elements that support them. Using a combination of WeakAuras, ingenuity, and lots of beer, Kait:Auras was born. Is it impractical? Yes. Is it awesome? Double yes. If you're going for eye candy, pack it with sugar and calories.

Just when you think you've seen the last out of the World of Warcraft UI, someone comes along and breaks the game with a poison swapper or allows you to draw a phallus army all over Dalaran. That sense of adventure, that the whole game could come crashing down at any point because of some enterprising young upstart, was what fueled the fun of the addon community and development -- the off-chance that your addon, in the grand history of addons, would change the world. Making the game better was one thing, but the unintended and often hilarious consequences of giving Blizzard such a (relatively weak) headache is kind of fun.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, Reader UI of the Week

Review: SteelSeries Diablo 3 headset shines

Review Steelseries Diablo III headset shines ANY
There is a lot to like about SteelSeries' Diablo III headset, giving players a solidly built peripheral that sit snugly on the ears and provide strong sound. I'm the kind of gamer who never wants to take off his headset because of the activity going on around me -- it's one of the only ways to get any semblance of peace and quiet. In addition, voice chat and Mumble have become hangout tools rather than just gaming features, making a good, durable microphone that much more important.

This isn't the first time I've tried out this particular offering from SteelSeries. When I went to BlizzCon 2011 and stopped by the SteelSeries booth, the representatives wanted me to try it on immediately. Something about ear cups and weight displacement, I don't know. There was a lot going on. To be honest, the biggest factor in choosing a headset for me is whether or not I can wear the thing for, like, eight hours straight. So, that's what I did. For you.

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Filed under: Hardware, Diablo 3

Mat McCurley says goodbye to WoW Insider

It's time to say goodbye MY LAST DAY
Well, here we go. This is my last day at WoW Insider, after two and a half years of writing, podcasting, and interacting with one of the greatest communities online. Having the opportunity to write for you and with these wonderful people has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I started playing World of Warcraft back in May of 2004 during the closed beta test. My time and tenure in Star Wars: Galaxies was winding down, and Dark Age of Camelot was far in the rearview mirror. None of us knew what World of Warcraft would become or how much the game would influence some of our lives. For me, World of Warcraft represents time, effort, passion, and drive; when every other option available was lacking, uninteresting, or just wrong, I wrote about my passion. I'll never stop playing because I see no reason to stop.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business

The Lawbringer: My final thoughts on Blizzard

The Lawbringer My final thoughts on Blizzard
Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

There is a lot to be said about Blizzard, the scrappy little company founded more than 20 years ago because hey, why not? A bunch of guys liked video games, graduated from UCLA, and borrowed money from their grandmas. Eventually, Blizzard became the game company we know today, a powerhouse in the industry with no signs of slowing down. World of Warcraft is resting comfortably at around 10 million players, StarCraft is still a national sport in Korea, and Diablo III has pierced the hearts of gamers who would have never picked up a click-and-slash.

Today is my last day at WoW Insider, and you've probably already read the sappy goodbye [Editor's Note: Actually, it'll be up at 8pm EDT]. Whatever. We've still got columns to write, people. For my last Lawbringer, I want to share with you a little bit about what made this column special to me and why your support turned this column from an idea into something widely read, as well as my hopes for Blizzard in the future. I cannot thank you all enough for letting me have my soapbox and a place to rant.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Addon Spotlight Alternatives: Buffs and debuffs

Addon Spotlight Alternatives Buffs and debuffs
Each week, WoW Insider's Mathew McCurley brings you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which focuses on the backbone of the WoW gameplay experience: the user interface. Everything from bags to bars, buttons to DPS meters and beyond -- your addons folder will never be the same.

Tracking buffs and debuffs is a time-honored tradition amongst raiders and non-raiders alike. We've been watching for poisons, debuffs, debilitating magic, and disables since the beginning of WoW. Being able to quickly react to your own debuffs, whether you're the Living Bomb or you have a snobold on your back, is what separates the best players from the rest.

We will be exploring the traditional type of buff and debuff display this week on Addon Spotlight, shedding some light on some old favorites, addons that have passed on, and distant favorites making a resurgence. Buffs and debuffs have also held a crucial spot on my own interface for years, right above my own status bar. As a tank, debuff tracking has always been a priority.

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Filed under: Add-Ons, AddOn Spotlight

WoW Summer Challenges offer some raid night suggestions

WoW Summer Challenges offer some raid night suggestions
Now here's something pretty cool from the World of Warcraft community team: Blizzard is promoting the WoW Summer Challenge, a weekly series with suggestions for an old raid to run with friends for lore and history, notable drops, transmog gear, and more. There is even an associated forum thread to plan activities or share thoughts on any given week's challenge. This week's challenge tasks you and your friends with hitting up AQ-40.

WoW's focus from here on out needs to be subscriber retention and engaging its players. The two go hand in hand, and the more Blizzard can do to involve the community, the better. These Summer Challenges are a great way to give a little structure to an otherwise unstructured experience.

Blizzard has even included links to Wowhead's excellent transmog set viewer so you know what drops you're looking for. It's good to see Blizzard recognizing Perculia's hard work.

Blizzard's full announcement is below.

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Filed under: Blizzard

WoW TCG: Tomb of the Forgotten sneak peek

Tomb of the Forgotten sneak peek at Nargle, Fang of the Swarm
With the introduction of monster races to the WoW Trading Card Game, all sorts of creepy creatures have been coming out of the woodwork to do battle. Murlocs have been well represented so far in the last two TCG expansions, so it's nice to see Nargle here get some heroic art and abilities. Tomb of the Forgotten, the final block in the Aftermath set, will launch on June 12.

Nargle interacts with other murlocs from the previous sets, allowing you to build interesting, murloc-infused decks that stack lots of cool bonuses. Hit the jump for a full shot of his new card. The monster races have brought a lot of new depth and range for Cryptozoic to grow the game and even incorporate some of the types of mechanics it has grown fond of over years and years of TCG building.

You can check out all the new features and previews of Tomb of the Forgotten over at the Cryptozoic website and see if there are any Tomb of the Forgotten launch events happening near you.

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Mists of Pandaria Beta: Nomi, the cook's apprentice

Mists of Pandaria Beta Nomi, the cook's apprentice ANY
Cooking has been (for lack of a better word) supercharged in Mists of Pandaria, splitting the profession into various "Ways" or styles of teaching. The Ways of the Grill, Oven, Pot, Steamer, Wok, and Brew all await your able hands to delight your senses. Since cooking, eating, and drinking are so important to the pandaren, Blizzard ratcheted up the potential for player involvement. Once you master all of the ways of Pandaria cooking, you will unlock your very own cook's companion, Nomi, with whom you can gain friendship reputation.

El's Anglin' has a great preview of Nomi and his quests, which put you in the role of master, teaching your apprentice the same ways you learned. Each lesson Nomi must learn appears to take about a month of dailies, and as El points out, a lesson 1 implies lessons 2, 3, and so forth. When you do reach the end, however, there is an achievement called Now I Am the Master, which graduates you from student to expert status. Many have been speculating that achieving this feat might allow you to graduate your alts with cooking in order to prove your master chef status.

Nomi is a very interesting new addition to the Mists of Pandaria beta. With such a huge revamp coming to the way we approach cooking, who knows what else is in store with regard to some of the other professions?

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Mists of Pandaria Beta: Pet Battle Music is a blast from the past

In what will be heralded as one of the more austere, kickass features coming with Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard has finally added in the music for Pet Battles, which is a mix of a little new/little old MIDI tunes that sound more at home on a Super Nintendo. But what's that I hear? Is it ... the original Warcraft and Warcraft II renditions of the faction songs? For Pet Battles? For serious?

I guess I have to go install Warcraft II: Battle.net Edition again. Great. What do you all think about the old Warcraft music's making an appearance in WoW?

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

Filed under: Mists of Pandaria

Reader UI of the Week: Seeing Cassilan's screen

Reader UI of the Week Seeing Cassilan's screen TUES
Each week, WoW Insider and Mathew McCurley bring you a fresh look at reader-submitted UIs as well as Addon Spotlight, which spotlights the latest user interface addons. Have a screenshot of your own UI that you'd like to submit? Send your screenshots along with info on what mods you're using to readerui@wowinsider.com, and follow Mathew on Twitter.

Welcome to another exciting edition of Reader UI of the Week. Today's subject is going to divide readers into two camps -- people who can tolerate clutter and people who cannot. Over the years, I've come to gain a tolerance and understanding of clutter because, frankly, I understand the laziness inherent in all of us. There is always a moment just after you reach for the mouse, begin to scroll, and suddenly weigh the time it would take to complete this task against taking another excellent bite of your Little Bacon Burger from Five Guys. I'll tell you right now, I just took a delicious bite of burger.

I do a disservice to people when I attribute clutter to laziness. That's not the case at all. In fact, I find that I work a little better in an environment where I have to actively find something amongst other things. There's a type of juxtaposition or patterning that presents itself; I know where Shockwave is because it's next to the icon for Revenge on my bar, etc. So what does this all have to do with clutter, UIs, and functionality? Enough, I'd say.

Cassilan's UI has a direct and stated purpose -- see the game's screen. See the action, see the adventure, and see the character in full glory. At the same time, a suite of addons is activated to add necessary customization and features not present at default. We can discuss the minimap, which is admittedly a little rough around the edges, but every bump can be smoothed out.

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Filed under: Reader UI of the Week

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