It's been about a decade now since the crash of the Exodar, and the ageless ways of the draenei are beginning to weave themselves into the fabric Azeroth. Yet of all Azeroth's peoples and despite what must be an ancient history, the draenei remain shrouded in a certain amount of mystery. Into that breach steps the draenei guild Kharanei of Wyrmrest Accord (US), working to preserve existing draenei heritage while pushing the culture forward into Azerothian society.
"We're establishing guild canon lore and culture all the time, everything from weddings to holidays to folk tales and language," says Nelua, Kharanei's GM. "We actually invented a week-long holiday to coincide with the Indian Diwali, the Festival of Light (much like Blizzard bases its holidays on existing ones). It commemorates the flight from Argus and the triumph of good over evil while paying respects to those who died fighting the good fight. A large, open-attendance celebration was held in Telaar, and it was very successful -- a very proud moment for the guild."
Kharanei brings more than merely entertaining ideas to the table. A lore-driven council with other Alliance guilds and a storyteller-guided roleplaying framework keep its day-to-day progress feeling fresh and alive, pulling the draenei into an ever-closer relationship with the world they now inhabit.
In case you hadn't heard the news, patch 5.3 is set to hit live servers tomorrow. While 5.3 doesn't include a new raid, there are a host of different new activities, including four new scenarios, heroic scenarios, a ton of pet battle changes, and of course the advancement of Mists of Pandaria's storyline as the heat ramps up between Alliance, Horde, and an outlier faction of Horde rebels. It's back to the Barrens again -- and this time, Crossroads isn't the area of contention.
But on top of all of the new content comes a ton of different class and content changes as well. We sat down to chat with Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street about patch 5.3's changes, as well as some upcoming changes for patch 5.4, response to subscription losses, Vengeance changes, that big unannounced feature we've all been dying to hear more about, and much more.
Convert to Raid, the podcast for raiders in the World of Warcraft, recently interviewed Blizzard's Lead Encounter Designer Ion Hazzikostas. You can listen to the full interview over on their site, and in the video above, but we've plucked some of the best bits out for your convenience.
Pat started off by asking Ion how he felt the raid tier, Throne of Thunder, had worked out, what he was happy with, what could possibly be improved for future tiers and so on. Ion responded that they were very happy with the tier, the structure and feel of the dungeon, and particularly the progression of the World First race. He spoke about the Lei Shen encounter really delivering on what a heroic end-boss should be, in terms of difficulty and fight construction. However, when Pat asked about learning points, Ion had plenty to say.
One might expect a machinimist to be come at you with a rather snarky, biting personality, especially a creator who's known for poking fun at WoW player stereotypes. Not so Wowcrendor. Wowcrednor's a nice guy in the true sense of the word. He also happens to be funny -- funny enough, in fact, that the list of posts of his WoW machinima here at WoW Insider goes on for pages and pages.
So how does a nice guy who has fun making video game machinima end up making a living at it? We wondered, too, so we asked -– and nice guy that he is, Wowcrendor spilled all the beans.
WoW Insider: So you're living the dream, making a living making WoW videos. Congrats! How has that changed the way you play the game? Things must be quite different now.
Wowcrendor: It is really a dream come true. One day you're sitting in a college math class writing scripts about Mankrik's wife, and the next you're making a living off it. I don't think I ever saw it growing to the point it's grown to, but I'm thankful for it nonetheless.
As for how it's changed the way I play the game, I think it's actually impacted me negatively, as odd as that sounds. Before I made videos about the game, my sole focus was just having fun or getting involved in the virtual world of Azeroth. Now that I do this as a living, it really shifts your mindset. If I'm playing the game, I'm constantly thinking if something could be made into a video instead of actually focusing on enjoying the game. For example, before I started making videos, I raided in every expansion. I enjoyed raiding and even got to raid with the guy who inspired me to start making WoW videos, a surreal experience at the time.
Leave it to a player who attacks WoW with the ferocity and passion of his orcish character to rationally and objectively dissect the pros and cons of making a guild home in a racially exclusive guild.
"Pros of a one-race clan, tribe or house: Focus, intensity, and real sense of being dedicated and set apart, as well as shared lore that becomes a motivating force in itself," enumerates Stonzgrinda, the GM of what might be the game's only orc-exclusive guild on an RP-PvP realm. "The immersion is much more credible and intense for roleplaying purposes. Cons of a one-race clan, tribe or house: Some classes are unavailable for specific purposes -- for instance, a stealthing druid healer for a team of rogues. Some achievements are not obtainable. The narrow niche makes recruiting difficult. ... Players have to know some lore and be able to present it to a standard."
So what makes it worthwhile for the Bloodfury Clan of orcs? "Our sense of camaraderie, shared culture and purpose gives our roleplayers something that no general RP guild could ever attain," Stonzgrinda answers without hesitation. "When we say 'Strength and honor,' it means something. When we mourn the passing of a player who has quit the game, we truly mourn them and remember their contributions and the unique light they brought to our warband."
Ready for some industrial, orc-strength opinions of Garrosh Hellscream, Thrall, and more? Read on.
Whew, we got the snark over with right up front in the headline -- because now it's time to get down to business. Sin'dorei-exclusive guild Selama Ashalanore spins Azerothian lore as tautly as any of the most stringent of the racial guilds we've profiled in recent weeks. "Out of character, Selama Ashalanore is a 'safe place' for lore-compliant blood elf roleplay," notes GM Tholmai Lightbreaker. "In many, many roleplay communities, blood elves are traditionally seen in a very negative light. In our guild, we are working hard to undo that image."
In character, members act out the lives of a group of like-minded blood elves devoted to the restoration of their people since their near extinction during the Third War. "Following the Third War, the blood elves have been caught up in Horde affairs in Outland, the Northrend campaign, the cataclysm, and, most recently, the events in Pandaria," Tholmai explains. "They've barely had a chance to recover. Our group acknowledges this and works round the clock for the Horde agenda, as well as to restore glory to their ancient people."
Can Selama Ashalanore members manage to maintain a sense of levity about the notorious reputation of their race while remaining focused on their compelling racial lore? Oh yes, they can -- and then some.
Sure, we know lots of people who play WoW -- like all of our co-workers -- but we don't expect Hollywood A-listers to be by our side in dungeons and raids. While we'd already heard that now Superman star Henry Cavill played WoW, he recently spoke to British GQ about his love of the game and Bethesda's equally addictive Skyrim. In fact, he enjoys the game so much that he missed director Zack Snyder's call offering him the part. "I saw it was him [calling]," Cavill told GQ, "but the thing is, you can't save World of Warcraft, you can't pause it. It's live." We have that problem all the time, but at least we aren't the only ones. (Though Cavill is clearly up on his WoW etiquette, as it's definitely rude to pick up the phone while you're in a group.)
A fantasy game like World of Warcraft doesn't have to stick too closely (or even at all) to the laws of science -- but oh, when the two worlds collide, players who love both can discover a true thing of beauty. That's how it came to pass that a zookeeper from Florida has created a taxinomical website outlining the biology of the wildlife of Azeroth. WoW Biology 101 offers curious players a scientifically grounded look at the creatures of WoW, both fantastical and based on reality.
"I think when we see these connections, it brings these worlds a little closer together and, for me at least, increases my enjoyment of both," notes Banya, a beast master hunter (because you knew that's what she'd play, right?) on Drenden (US). "My site is truly just flavor and a potentially different way to look at the game. When you're running around and see one of the awesome animals in game, my site would let you know how closely it is based off of a real-life animal. "
Of all the cities in Azeroth, the one that seems to me most like a living, breathing city is coincidentally the one that's undead. The Undercity huddles beneath the ruins of Lordaeron, drenched in atmospheric detail: its hidden underground tunnel, an oft-confusing pinwheel layout and dangerous elevators that confound new visitors, the eerie ruins above with their invisible ghosts, the throne room with all its power struggles and heart-wrenching beauty -- and the Royal Apothecary Society. Who hasn't spent time cautiously exploring the Apothecarium, with its cages of groaning test subjects and burbling vats of green plague?
Many players haven't given much thought to the cadre of Forsaken apothecaries in an expansion or more, but you'd be a fool if you assumed they hadn't been busy. Their story has captured the imaginations of a group of players on Moon Guard (US), the all-Forsaken guild The Legion of Vengeance (formerly Hand of Vengeance). Named for the Forsaken forces sent to Northrend by Sylvanas Windrunner to wreak plague and vengeance upon the Lich King, this roleplaying group functions within the context of the Royal Apothecary Society itself, continuing its evil work in a fascinating adventure that's captivated its all-undead player roster.
Deep in the heart of steamy Stranglethorn Vale, within the golden city of Zul'Gurub, gathers a savage band of Zandalari trolls. Loyal to neither the Horde nor the Alliance, these players embrace a fierce roleplaying ethic that can be both fascinating and intimidating to newcomers. Yet Atal Zanza Aka is esteemed by other guilds on Argent Dawn (RP-EU) and has become a vital (if quantitatively small) ingredient in the roleplaying community.
We visited with guild leader Zazajin to explore this niche of WoW roleplaying and find out how this guild manages to thrive in as antagonistic role that sweeps it away from the well-traveled paths and populated city centers of Azeroth.
WoW Insider: It would appear that making a troll character for Atal Zanza Aka is full-throttle roleplaying not for the faint of heart, would you agree?
Zazajin: Our guild is indeed first and foremost a roleplaying guild. We formed as a breakaway from the Loa Atal Ai (a Darkspear-based trollish guild which serves the Horde but includes different troll tribes) during the occupation of the Echo Isles, and abandoned the Horde to serve the Zandalari and preserve trollish culture, which our characters felt was threatened under the Horde's regime and thus moved to Zul'Gurub to try to preserve that culture. We're made up of various troll tribes, much like the Zandalari themselves. We've members from the Amani (forest trolls), Drakkari (frost trolls), farraki (sand trolls), Gurubashi (jungle trolls), and Zandalari (those trolls that stand up straight, haha).
Since the announcement of Hearthstone at PAX East, many developer interviews have been circulating (including our own!). This week the All Things Azeroth podcast featured Hearthstone production director Jason Chayes and game designer Ben Brode, and there are a few interesting tidbits to take away from the interview that you might not have heard before. In particular, they detail an example of the types of fun cards they're developing to keep gamers on their toes. The example they discuss is King Mukla. You might be familiar with King Mukla if you've quested through The Cape of Stranglethorn, he's the enormous gorilla you need to kill to complete the Princess Poobah questline. In Hearthstone, Mukla is a cheap card to play that packs a punch, but the catch is that he'll give your opponent bananas which allows them some extra abilities, so you've got to think carefully about when you play him!
Other topics covered during the interview include some more details about card crafting and the rationale behind it, the Golden Card upgrades, and some of the developers' thoughts on things like a client for Hearthstone in WoW to ease the pain on those long DPS dungeon queues. I must say, the more I hear about Hearthstone, the more fun it sounds. I've got high hopes for this game, not least because I think there's a good chance that it might be the magic video-game bullet that finally piques my boyfriend's interest. Hey, he's resisted all my attempts to get him into WoW so far, I'm getting desperate!
You can check out All Thing's Azeroth's conversation with Jason Chayes and Ben Brode in episode 339. Happy listening!
It was a massive multiplayer success for this massively multiplayer game: On March 20, the Thundering Hammer Clan of Feathermoon (US-Horde) successfully brought together more than 120 players from multiple roleplay realms in what might have been WoW's first large-scale, player-run cross-realm event. In bringing together three full raid groups from half a dozen realms, the Kosh'harg roleplay gathering of Horde clans helped demonstrate how to pull off a major cross-realm event and explore the possibilities and limitations of CRZ (cross-realm zone) mechanics.
What can other players learn from the Kosh'harg about organizing a CRZ event? We went behind the scenes with Kosh'harg organizer Thorgrun (GM of the Thundering Hammer Clan).
WoW Insider: It sounds like the event was a smash success. Congratulations!
Thorgrun: The Kosh'harg was an amazing success. At the peak of the event we had three full raid groups and a number of ungrouped local attendees, bringing us up over 120 players from a dozen different realms who joined us in Nagrand for the festivities.
How much did you and other organizers know beforehand about realm and zone loads with regard to cross-realm mechanics?
We only knew what has been published and widely publicized, namely that the CRZ mechanic is designed to populate low-pop zones with players from associated realms and when population grows to a certain point to split those players off into separate zones. We also knew that players from any North American realm could be brought into any zone on a host realm just by being grouped with a majority of members from that realm – i.e., two Feathermoon players can host a third player from say, Farstriders, in their version of the zone, or alternatively a 5-man group of Feathermoon players could host an entire raid of CRZ players, provided no more than four of them were from the same realm in that particular raid. This is the mechanic that we used to "anchor" our event firmly on one server's seed of the Nagrand zone.
It's a fairly safe assumption that a guild composed exclusively of members of one Azerothian race will be a roleplaying guild. If you made that assumption about The Venture Co.'s Thunderhoof Clan -- and yes, the guild is exclusively tauren -- you'd be missing most of what this guild is all about. Of course they roleplay; one glance at the guild Tumblr or website makes their love of the shu'halo life abundantly clear. But as a self-described casual guild, TC also enjoys light raiding and organized and world PvP as well as light RP. It's a fairly unique approach among race-specific groups, which usually core into racial lore and rarely engage in organized raiding or PvP.
We interviewed GM Ravkha to find out how such a specialized guild swings easily with such a wide-ranging approach to the game. For the herd!
Hey baby, what are you doing this Friday night? Let's party at Club Trix in Gadgetzan (Wyrmrest Accord-RP-US). They've got a real DJ, a goblin named Trixxiz, and his crew spinning goblin-engineered techno on Radio Trix. There's a featured drink menu (Hordeside, at least), regular special events, and a chill crowd enjoying the goblin groove. Originally from Bilgewater in Azshara, Club Trix has moved through Dalaran and now runs out of Gadgetzan, where the underground vibe is hot and there's plenty of room outside for enterprising goblins to get their profit on.
WoW Insider interviewed DJ Trixxiz to find out more about the hottest new club on Azeroth's scene.
WoW Insider: Trixxiz, you're a DJ out in the real world, aren't you?
DJ Trixxiz: I am and have been a DJ since around 2004, I think. I had a few gigs over the years but not many, because within the already limited audience of electronic dance music, I was playing one of the lesser-popular genres of trance in an area dominated by house and techno. (I live halfway between Chicago and Detroit, the birthplaces of each, respectively.) However, the past couple years, trance has been exploding in popularity and I'm looking to break back into the scene this summer. Otherwise, I've mostly been an online presence throughout the years with shows on online radio stations, generally pulling in around 300 listeners, and several labels send me tracks to promote before they're released to the public.
Even though I've got these other radio shows that pull in way more listeners, Club Trix is by far my favorite. With most internet radio shows -- even local radio antenna FM shows which I've also done in the past -- the amount of community feedback and interaction is very minimal. It airs, you hope that someone enjoyed it, and that's that.
With Club Trix, there's this whole level of interaction with the listeners happening in real time through the IRC chat and the game, and they make it all come alive -- which makes it probably the most rewarding radio show on the internet save for a few run by the giants in the industry who can make that happen without the aid of roleplay environment.