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Filed under: The Burning Crusade

Know Your Lore: Nobundo

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

One of the fantastic things about Warlords of Draenor is getting to see the way history provides context for a life. By seeing how people have changed, and how they could have been we get a sense of how they are, as we know them - and for me one of the most fantastic changes to contemplate and understand is that of Vindicator Nobundo, a stalwart draenei paladin, who in a different life became Farseer Nobundo, first draenei shaman. Nobundo's story is one of overcoming horrific loss, enduring not just the destruction of his way of life but a corrosion of the body that threatened his very soul, and his ability to overcome and become someone who could inspire his people to a new path displays his strength of spirit.

The Vindicator Nobundo we meet on Draenor - the one who helps fight the Burning Legion forces in Talador, who comes to Nagrand to help calm the elements - has not endured the same trials as Farseer Nobundo. He has not come out the other side of seeing his people nearly destroyed, his body warped by fel energies, his connection to the Holy Light severed. And yet, he is Nobundo - he embodies everything the Farseer was, everything he lost to become who he is today.

So who is Farseer Nobundo? And who is Vindicator Nobundo?

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

World of Warcraft: Looking for Group documentary debuts at BlizzCon

This Saturday during BlizzCon, we're going to get to take a look at a new documentary about World of Warcraft, with a lot of familiar faces (seriously, the trailer alone is packed with celebrities) and an interesting perspective on how WoW took what was a pretty niche market in MMO's and made them a lot more mainstream.

My first reaction was "Wow, that's a heck of a Garona cosplay!" Which is why I headed up the post with that picture. Seriously, she looks more like Garona than Garona does. WHoever you are, Garona cosplayer, please let me know so I can put your name in this post. But beyond that, as someone who's been playing for ten years, I found it amazing to see it all laid out like that, how we were all just stumbling our way through the game, having no idea what it was or what it would lead to.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, News items, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Interviews, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Why updated graphics matter

What you see above is the result of time marching on - in my draenei's right hand is Sulfuras, the Extinguished Hand, a drop from Firelands. In the left hand, Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros, the legendary drop from the original Molten Core. (Yes, I know technically it doesn't drop, the Eye drops, you craft a Sulfuron Hammer and then use the Eye on it, I've had the thing since MC I know how I got it.) What I'm showing you is essentially the orderly progression of time via graphic upgrades - you can essentially see the history of the game unfolding via the difference between these two weapons.

Everything from the spikes to the grip to the shape of the head, it's all more detailed and crisp on the newer model. The older model is a collection of polygonal shapes that bear only a vague resemblance to a hammer compared to the newer model, which is itself still not as good as models we have in the game now, never mind some of the Warlords drops we're about to see. The gap between these two hammers is the gap between 2004 and 2011, and here we are, three years later than that - and they show us how much a ten year old game can in fact change.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Transmogrification, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Mannoroth

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

We talk about the great evils of the Warcraft universe - your Kil'jaeden's and Archimonde's, your Sargeras and your Old Gods - and of course there's the mortal monsters like Gul'dan, quite possibly the single most evil mortal being ever to live, or Kel'Thuzad who enslaved himself to evil so profound that his transformation into a lich was probably a palliative influence on his malevolence. But what of evil as a corrupting vector? What of an evil so profound that it is part of your blood, that can seep into the souls of an entire race? Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you - what of Mannoroth, king of the Pit Lords, master of the Annihilan?

We know little of the Annihilan. They are the pit lords, a massive and powerful species of demons recruited to serve the Legion by none other than Kil'jaeden himself. They were already a powerful part of the Legion when the War of the Ancients unfolded - Mannoroth himself was one of the Legion's elite who came through the portal to help make clear the way for Sargeras to stride forth into Azeroth, doing battle with the forces of the Kaldorei who were attempting to preserve their lives. But as to where the pit lords come from, it is as yet a mystery unsolved. What world did they originate on? What happened to it? We do not know.

What we do know is this - few races in all the cosmos can boast so powerful and corrupting an evil nature as the Annihilan. And Mannoroth was for eons first among the pit lords - the acknowledged master of his kind, the most powerful of them all. Not Brutallus, not Magtheridon, not Azgalor, but Mannoroth ruled the Annihilan on behalf of the Legion.

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

The Importance of Legacy Content

Since patch 6.0.2 came out, I've rediscovered the love I once held for soloing older raids. More than rediscovered it - I've expanded it, because now I can pretty easily solo most Cataclysm raids (I'm working on Spine of Deathwing) and that broadens what I can gather for transmog. But it's more than transmog, and more than the sensation one gets when you push Rhyolith through all his phases so that he dies before he's even done yelling at you in an awesome parody of what it sounds like when I wake up.

In a recent interview with PC Gamer magazine, Ion Hazzikostas pointed out that one of World of Warcraft's biggest strengths is its depth of content. The MMO has been going for ten years. There are old raids and dungeons everywhere. It's not just old content - it's a resource. And it makes WoW a game with incredible potential.

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

Know Your Lore: The Dark Portal

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

The Dark Portal is the symbol of the Warcraft universe. It was the loading screen for the original game, for the Burning Crusade expansion, and it will be again for the new Warlords of Draenor expansion as well. When we think of the orcish Horde pouring into Azeroth to murder and plunder, it's the Dark Portal they used to get there - when the Alliance Expedition returned the favor and took the fight to Draenor, it was the Dark Portal that allowed them to do so. The Dark Portal nearly destroyed Azeroth when Ner'zhul ripped Draenor apart into Outland, and we used it to travel to that same Outland to do battle with Illidan Stormrage.

Yet for all we know about it, there's much we don't - was it Medivh or his dark corrupter Sargeras who actually instructed Gul'dan on how to build it? How does it function, what magics sustain it, and how does Warlords tease us with the possibility that there could be many methods to power such a doorway between worlds? Why did Ner'zhul's attempt to open more portals like it destroy his Draenor, and could the same fate befall the one we're traveling to - or worse, our own Azeroth? How dangerous is it to tamper with space and, now, time in this way?

Let us pursue the history of the Dark Portal for some answers. There will be spoilers for Warlords of Draenor in the post to follow.

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

Never enough time

One of the absurdities of playing an MMO for any length of time, much less for ten years, is that you see certain cycles repeat again and again. For instance, I've seen players make the same assumptions about personal experiences in the game being universal so many times that I could republish that post every two weeks and it would be relevant. Another way I've seen the same cycle repeat multiple times since the end of Burning Crusade is this - people always complain (myself included) that the expansion is taking too long to get here and we're sick of the old content, and then, as soon as the new expansion is announced, we start panicking (myself included) to get certain things finished that we could have done long, long before the expansion ever got close to done.

I mean, I have six characters on various stages of the legendary cloak quest, that I just never bothered to finish up on because reasons. I don't think I can argue I haven't had enough time. It's September. Nine months seems more than adequate to have gotten that done, and yet, nope. Just never bothered to do it. In a way I feel like the extreme length of the content drought lulled me into a false complacency. A year in SoO seemed so monumentally long that it never really sank in that yes, it is long - but it still had an end date.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Know Your Lore: Lantresor of the Burning Blade

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

He is not the result of Gul'dan's breeding experiments.

He is not orc, nor is he draenei. No, he is Lantresor, and he is a half-orc blademaster of draenei descent. Formerly one of the Burning Blade, his story straddles two worlds, and in its wake embodies both the glories and the foibles of the world of his birth. Not welcome among either of his peoples, he sought his own path, his own destiny. And we have seen it unfold in different ways, at different times.

Lantresor of the Blade is a blademaster. This is his story.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Lore, Know your Lore, Warlords of Draenor

The whole World of Warcraft in 41 minutes

It's no secret that I like the lore of World of Warcraft, so it should be no surprise that I decided that you needed to see this video. Nobble's done lore videos before, but this is quite frankly his masterpiece - a fairly concise (for what it is covering) run-through of all of the background of World of Warcraft and the Warcraft franchise as a whole. It's definitely worth your time.

Soak in it, my friends, the gloriously messy, chaotic, crazy lore of World of Warcraft.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

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

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

Soloing the Black Temple with Blizzard


Daxxari is back with another guide to soloing old raids, this time, The Black Temple. Whether it's transmog loot you're looking for, a chance at a warglaive, reputation with another faction (The Ashtongue Deathsworn) or just giggles, Black Temple has it all from Tier 6 sets and lookalikes to some of the coolest scenery the game's ever seen.

Black Temple is by far one of my favorite raids. It's quite soloable by a max-level character -- the hardest fight is the Reliquary of Souls because you can easily do enough damage to yourself and the interrupts get brutal -- and it has some really awesome looking loot, cool fight mechanics, and some big lore deals like Teron Gorefiend and of course Illidan himself waiting for you. Daxxari explains the fight mechanics and how they work for a solo player, so head over to the official site and read up before heading into the Black Temple.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, The Burning Crusade, Raid Guides

WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

The tension between balance and player interest

I'm looking forward to Ashram, the new PvP island zone in Warlords that seems to combine elements from zones such as the Timeless Isle, Wintergrasp, and the old days of world PvP. So I tend to go looking for information on it, which is where I found the following.
With cross-realm groups being possible on Ashram, this is a perfect example of the ways the game has to balance what most players will do vs. what some players will do - balance the min-maxing attitude vs. the more common, and more often executed, use of a feature or game element. Ashram as it stands will allow players to group cross realm - this is intended so that players who have characters on separate realms (my wife and I, for instance, often would run the Timeless Isle on characters that were on separate realms) can still go to Ashram. This is a good and fun use of cross-realm grouping. But there's a potential down side to this.

Since cross-realm grouping is possible, we know the next step - something like oQueue that allows you to put together a group of 40 players and go destroy Ashram on an already imbalanced server. If a certain server is already heavily skewed towards the Alliance, putting together a 40 player group (since Ashram exists in the world and not in a raid instance) and just destroying any hapless Horde you come across, or vice versa. Even if you don't pick a server with a faction imbalance, it's still feasible that a big raid group could end up owning Ashram for an extended period of time, and using players that aren't even on the server.

Decisions in the game's design are always made between these two poles - between the ease of abuse, and the benefit it brings to individual players. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, things don't work out like we'd hope. Reforging, as an example, falls into the 'possible player imbalanced use trumps player convenience' category.

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

Mumper shares original design for the Tempest Keep dungeons

The Arcatraz, Mechanar and Botanica are some of my favorite dungeons from the Burning Crusade era, and so, when Cory "Mumper" Stockton decided to share the original design of those three dungeons, I knew I had to show y'all.

What I really love about these little looks back into WoW's past (we've seen things like this first draft of Dalaran from Cory before) is how they inform current design, and also, how they make me wonder how things could have been different. The names in particular definitely needed work. It's just so cool to see these things, get a sense of how the game developed behind the scenes.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade

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