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Filed under: Interviews

Warlords of Draenor: Ion Hazzikostas video interview

We already posted one interview with Watcher (Ion Hazzikostas) this weekend, but he also did this video interview with the German language website Buffed.de, and he covers a lot of details not found in the previous interview. So what does Watcher have to say?
  • Level 100 talents are being designed around the idea that one talent can/should be different things to different specs, and this philosophy is being used in redesigning other talent tiers as well. He uses the example of the mage level 75 tier and says they've discussed taking all three of the current talents and making it one talent, which gives you one of the three spells (Nether Tempest, Living Bomb or Frost Bomb) based on spec.
  • The difficulty of Mists of Pandaria heroics was hampered by the decision to not have max level normal mode dungeons, but Warlords will have level 100 normal and heroic dungeons, and LFR in Warlords will not require gear from heroics, just normals. If players want an involved, cooperative challenge, heroic five mans will be more of this.
  • Challenge modes will see one change -- doing the random daily challenge mode quest will automatically give you one epic for completing the quest -- this gear will be as good as or perhaps better than LFR, even before LFR opens, so you can gear up via challenge modes.
  • Highmaul is 'very similar to Firelands' in layout - an open area with several nonlinear bosses that you can clear or skip, and two final bosses that must be completed, while Blackrock Foundry is a three wing dungeon that you can clear in any order you wish.
  • "Gul'dan is not the threat... and he might even be an ally against the Iron Horde."
  • Sha of Anger was the most successful world boss of Mists of Pandaria in terms of the difficulty and experience, and other world bosses didn't quite work out as planned.
There's actually a lot more, so head on over to Buffed.de and check out the video for yourself.

(Thanks to Adam, Julian and Mintie for tips and Susanne Braun for correction)

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Ion Hazzikostas press tour interview with Battlenet.pl

As part of this week's press junkets, Ion "Watcher" Hazzikostas (who I may or may not have a shrine to in my office) conducted this interview with Polish fansite Battlenet.pl. There's quite a few interesting details to pour over here. Some standouts I noticed:
  • We're going to see world bosses again, including one described as a giant ancestor of the gronn named a Fomor, with powers over earth and stone. I'm surprised it's named Fomor and not Grom, but the name's mythologically sound enough. I find myself wondering if they're big enough to build a town in, like that dude up there.
  • The first raid open (about a week after Warlords launch) is Highmaul, an ogre raid open in Nagrand. Blackrock Foundry will open a few weeks after that, and LFR will be gated as it was in Mists of Pandaria.
  • We're not fighting Garrosh in Warlords. "Garrosh will be around but I don't think... we have really no plans to fight Garrosh again. That's the fight the players have already had and they have won. I don't think there's really much appetite for Garrosh to be a boss you face off again."
  • Ion mentioned the linear aspect of raiding as the biggest down side of raid design in Mists of Pandaria and that they're hoping to make raids less linear in Warlords.
It's a very informative interview, so head over to Battlenet.pl and take a long read for yourself.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Interviews, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

15 Minutes of Fame: Flower power pollinates leveling for true neutral pandaren

Crazy metagaming projects are among my favorite topics here at 15 Minutes of Fame. It's impossible not to catch the excitement of someone who's figured out a new way to spin Azeroth. Take for instance the curious case of Doubleagent , the "neutral" pandaren who's managed to make it to level 80 and still climbing without ever leaving the pandaren starting zone. In his case, staying put also means never having chosen a faction; Doubleagent is neither Horde nor Alliance but instead remains a neutral party. And the method to his madness? Flowers. Lots and lots of herbalism and flowers.

Ticking through level 83 when this article was posted, Doubleagent continues to drift through the gentle fields leading to level 90 and beyond -- because oh yes, this is one player who plans to take his leveling project all the way to the top in the coming expansion as well.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Mila Kunis talks WoW and other gaming

Mila Kunis joined One of Swords podcast's Dan Amrich to talk to the hosts about her gaming life, including her time spent playing World of Warcraft, joining one of her ex-guildmates on the show. She chats about how she had to change her in-game name, as the title "Captain" in her mage's name "Captainpicard" wasn't allowed.

She then discussed her gaming history, and how it led to her move into WoW, starting with co-host Hugh Sterbakov as their game night shifted from Settlers of Catan into WoW. She even talks about dragging her friends into the game, including the podcast's other guest, Lisa Sterbakov. They discuss playing all day sessions, questing together, killing mobs and wiping a "raid" in Black Morass while Mila went AFK for a bathroom break. Unfortunately, as her friends quit, Mila eventually lost interest.

It's a fun listen, Mila's segment begins from 27 minutes in, and continues after the WoW chat, talking about other games.

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews

15 Minutes of Fame: Converting all of Azeroth to raid by the thousands

You know the new guild on the scene is making a impact on the community when other players offer it up as a solution to other players' woes. Take a look at this excerpt from the comments of a recent Drama Mamas column, wherein a player was unhappy with the way her new raid guild membership was unfolding:

janet.houck I think you need to leave your current team, do some research to find a good match, and move. Aerie Peak has the CTR uber guild, and we're sitting at over 90 raid teams. You can always find a team for you. If you can't, you can build it.

MarshallGlenn @janet.houck wth is CTR uber guild?

janet.houck @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck Convert to Raid, the podcast, has a greenwall'ed guild on Aerie Peak-US A. I think there's 8 sub-guilds at the moment. We tend to attract an older and more serious crowd, so for a 45-year old player, it might be a nice place to check out. :)

TaxmanCDN @janet.houck @MarshallGlenn All of my toons are in the CTR guild. Best guild I've ever been in. I'm on two raid teams, and on my off-nights if I feel like doing a flex there's always someone looking. Great community there, and I've found it to be a better class of raiders (in general) than on other realms.

Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houckConvert To Raid is a popular WoW podcast. They have a series of raiding guilds on Aerie Peak, because there's a cap to the number of people you can have in a guild. I was also under the impression that there were 'steps', like the more casual guild splinter vs the hardcore one to make it easier to find your niche but I'm not entirely sure about that. There are a few other mega/meta-guilds similar to this around, too.

MarshallGlenn @Liopleurodon @MarshallGlenn @janet.houck ahhh very cool. Edit

bluefer I had something like this problem and I transferred my toons to Aerie Peak and joined CTR. I suggest you roll an alt on Aerie Peak. AT L15 you can join CTR mega guild and find a ton of teams to choose from with good people and lots of raiders who treat each other pretty well. Best of luck.


While Bluefer sent our letter-writer off with a "best of luck," we don't suspect the Convert to Raid success story has anything to do with luck. We suspect it has everything to do with Pat Krane.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Japanese players build their own community in World of Warcraft

What does World of Warcraft sound like from an entirely different cultural perspective? Jump to about 8:30 in the above video and listen to the last moments of this heroic boss kill -- the point at which terse expletives usually bristle from from even the most disciplined, well-oiled raiders, the whole thing followed by a deafening avalanche of shouts and cheers when the boss finally falls. Contrast those expectations with the understated pleasure here of CAVAG, a guild of Japanese players on Proudmoore (US-Horde), and you'll gain a sense of just one of the more outward cultural differences between this group and the typical American raiding guild.

Welcome to the world of #wowjp, a network of Japanese WoW players who've learned English primarily through playing the game. You can find localized versions of World of Warcraft in Korea, mainland China and Taiwan, but Japanese players are left to their own devices -- no dedicated servers, no language localization. To solve those challenges, Japanese players have banded together to create their own Japanese game guides, share addons and tips for typing in Japanese within the game, and form a network of Japanese-language guilds across several North American realms.

Bringing us this interview with two Japanese WoW players is the Sha of Happiness, herself a native Japanese speaker and a member of the #wowjp community. But before we begin, a simple and heartfelt message from the Japanese players:

The wowjp community wished to tell the readers/Blizzard: "Thank you for providing the Hippogryph Hatchling for the tsunami relief efforts. Thank you for all of your donations."

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Turwinkle the gnome charms with adventure videos and community interviews

Sometimes a letter from an appreciative fan is the best way to introduce a player to WoW Insider readers:

I'm writing in to nominate a wonderful man that I recently had the pleasure of working with. Known as Turwinkle on Twitter or Palmerbomber1 on YouTube, he comes from Moon Guard and has recently begun making rounds on Wyrmrest Accord, where he gets in touch with various guilds and interviews them about what they are, what their stories are, and advertises their members. He also has a series with his gnome Turwinkle where he records himself leveling through the game, narrating the adventures of his mage.

The exposure he's done for the Wyrmrest community is second to none, and I'd love to see him get the recognition he deserves. The two hours he spent with our guild was a blast for everyone involved, and I'm sure many of the others he's spoken with felt the same.


Introducing the gentle good humor of Turwinkle the gnome, star of the "let's play" Adventures of Turwinkle and host of Turwinkle Talks interviewing roleplay guilds across Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Ready Check interviews Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas

Eye of C'Thun
This past week the hosts of EU-based podcast Ready Check were lucky enough to go visit Blizzard's offices in Versailles, where they met up with Brian Holinka and Ion Hazzikostas for a lively round of Q&A. The podcast--with attendant full transcript, don't you worry, folks who can't play the podcast--covers a very broad range of topics, and PvPers should be particularly interested in the broad discussion about arenas. Gothiques and Athene bring up some wonderful points about arena queuing, and matching, and the little ways in which the system often results in unexpectedly wasted time, as well as the ways in which not-entirely-honest players can manipulate that system in their favor. Both Holinka and Hazzikostas have insights to offer on these problems, and there's some good back-and-forth about potential solutions and improvements to the existing arena systems.

In addition to the excellent PvP discussions, the interview features some talk of Warlords of Draenor and the future--some of which we've already heard about, but I am so excited for garrisons and a toys tab that I could listen to this stuff all day long. Do you know how many bag spaces I'm going to get back once that toys tab goes live? In the words of the Diablo Templar companion, it will be glorious! There's also some really fun discussion on the philosophy and practice of encounter and mechanics design, and how the WoW team goes about building raids and bosses. This was perhaps my favorite part of the interview, because I am a hopeless PvPer and am much more at home among WoW's raid bosses. In any case, no matter what part of the game you enjoy, there's something in this interview for you. You can check out the full transcript and podcast episode at Ready Check's own website, so make sure to click on over to the whole thing!

Filed under: Podcasting, Interviews, Warlords of Draenor

Blizzard employee Rene Koiter chats about Khal Drogo cosplay

Blizzard's annual Halloween costume contest is well-known among those who follow the company, and in 2013 it got even more attention thanks to artist Rene Koiter's incredible Khal Drogo cosplay, which went viral back in the fall. The website Geekpron recently sat down with Mr. Koiter for a five-question interview, going in-depth about why he chose the character for his outfit and how he made his vision a reality.

One aspect I hadn't fully appreciated prior to this interview was how many people it took to realize Mr. Koiter's vision of a Khal Drogo cosplay. It took no fewer than five other people to help him achieve the look--one costumer, two hair and makeup artists, a coworker who sculpted the medallion belt, and one who played the translator in the contest. It was clearly an enormous effort that payed wonderful dividends. Head on over to Geekpron for the full interview, and once again we tip our hat to Rene Koiter for his amazing performance!

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Humor, Interviews

15 Minutes of Fame: TEDx speaker on overcoming anorexia with WoW

Continuing our look at young people successfully folding World of Warcraft into their successfully unfolding lives, this week we interview another student for whom WoW has made a big impression. "I saw your Breakfast Topic post How has WoW made your life better?, and well, a few weeks back I had the opportunity to give a TEDx talk about how playing World of Warcraft helped my fight anorexia and a crappy education system," wrote Erik Martin, aka Klaes of Emerald Dream (US).

Talk about All The Things ... Also a game designer who has even worked on projects for the federal government, Erik has rallied from anorexia to go on to advocate for student agency and motivation in education. With a confidence bolstered in Azeroth, he's assembling his own experiences and aspirations into a big-picture view large enough not only to fill his own sails but to help others push off from safe harbor.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Growing Up in WoW: One-third of a lifetime shared with Azeroth

A few months ago, I received an email from the kind of player who sets off all sorts of bells and whistles for a feature writer like me -- a WoW fan who's integrated the game into a balanced, engaged, lively lifestyle. If you've ever found yourself shaking your fist and snarling at teenaged players as a group -- Get off my lawn! -- then you've probably never met a young player who's got his stuff together quite so well as Zukkai of Area 52 (US).

I'm 18, I'm a raid leader for one of the 10man teams in our guild, and I've been playing since I was 12. In December, I can claim that I've played WoW for a third of my life. Along the way I've been in school full time, and will be attending university in the fall. When I first started playing, my parents regulated my play time. Once I started controlling my play time, I had to learn about my own time management and how to balance WoW with RL priorities. I've also learned how to deal with the social stigmas of playing WoW through high school, including how to explain to your friends that you might not be able to go somewhere because you have to raid.

I've managed to grow up right along side the game, and I think playing it for so long has taught me a couple of valuable lessons along the way. I've had stretches where I'd be playing 4-5 hours a day and I've had stretches where I've toyed with quitting, but I've kept going for 6 years. I've never had massive amounts of time to play, but I've managed to put together my Insane title and collect a large sum of pets and mounts, as well as raid at the heroic level.


Fixated on gaming? Hiding away from life? Not in the least. Our conversation with Zukkai reveals a player for whom World of Warcraft is just another pastime -- albeit one that's filled a full one-third of his lifetime. Moving in and out of WoW with the rest of life's rhythms is as natural as breathing, as Zukkai demonstrates in this look at life for one of the many players today who are growing up in Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

The fascinating personalities of World of Warcraft

The annual "Where are they now?" roundups for 15 Minutes of Fame are a high point of my year as a feature writer. It's rare to get a built-in opportunity to re-open the conversation with someone I've interviewed, and it's always intriguing to learn where these passionate, involved players and people are headed today. Not everyone's answers make print, of course; the pool of past subjects after six years is much larger than we could reasonably follow, and not everyone is still doing something related to WoW. So far, limiting coverage to those who reply to an email inquiry seems to keep things to a manageable roar.

The downside of compiling a yearly update is all the time I lose wandering down the side streets of Memory Lane. This year, I finally realized that if revisiting all those articles was so interesting to me, it probably would be to you too. So today, I'm curating some of my favorite 15 Minutes of Fame interviews for your perusal. There are many more I couldn't include due to space constraints, but you'll discover a little something for everyone here. As we push off from the shore of a new year, I think you'll find the creativity and passion with which they weave the World of Warcraft into their lives to be positively energizing and inspiring.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Where are they now? 2013 edition

Five or six years is a long time, even among MMO players. Many of the people we spend every night with raiding, laughing, squabbling, and goofing off inevitably move on, diving into the next passion in their lives with as much gusto as they once held for Azeroth. Of course, many more are still right here after all this time, like the WoW personalities we've interviewed here at 15 Minutes of Fame over the past six years.

What about the people we met during 2013? We touched base with everyone we hadn't caught up with since before BlizzCon to see what's going on in their worlds -- and, of course, in Azeroth.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

A legendary chat with Wrathion VA Aaron Phillips

One of the more intriguing new characters to come out of Cataclysm was Wrathion, who took a curious journey through the Badlands as an egg and emerged with dubious intentions during the rogue legendary quest chain. Since then, Wrathion has led many a player of every class on a merry chase across the wilds of Pandaria in a legendary quest meant not just for rogues, but for all. Wrathion's motives have always been a little unclear, and whether he's working on the side of good, or with slightly more evil intentions, has been up for debate since his first appearance.

But Wrathion simply wouldn't be Wrathion without the voice that brought him to life as a sometimes petulant, sometimes angry, and sometimes touchingly desperate whelp with an apparent plan to save the world. Whether casually ordering Fahrad to break a pair of legs, pleading with Chi-Ji, or throwing the temper tantrum to end all temper tantrums in his temporary home, the voice of Wrathion has been just as distinctive as the character itself. So how does one bring life to such a strange character? We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Wrathion's voice actor himself. Aaron Phillips may be immediately recognizable for Wrathion, but his works far exceed the vocal stylings of one angsty dragon -- and you may be surprised to note that you've likely heard him in a variety of places.

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Filed under: Interviews, Mists of Pandaria

15 Minutes of Fame: Where are they now? WoW personalities, 2008-2012

It's somewhat ironic that the very earliest group profiled on 15 Minutes of Fame to have responded to this year's for "Where are they now?" updates remains one of the most vibrant guilds making a name for itself in today's game. Spectacular Death from Llane (US-Alliance) just keeps running "the stuff you wish your guild did," tempting players in search of an active, engaged, relaxed and somewhat silly group of gaming friends. (Full disclosure: They tempted me into the fold, too.)

The spectacular attraction of Spectacular Death "As we head into our seventh year of existence, I guess that sort of makes us an 'elder' guild, in terms of longevity," muses GM Gimmlette. "(You kids get off our lawn and leave the flamingos and the garden gnomes alone.) Our core mission is still the same as it was when we started, to see all and do all but in a casual fashion.

"It's not a race, it's a journey, and that journey is generally filled with hilarity and looking at the game from a slight skewed perspective. We're the guild who revels in trying to skewer ourselves on the steeple of the church in Stormwind as well as working through SoO in flex mode. Elephant parades in Ironforge, naked runs of Molten Core, raft races in Krasarang, jumping off of Dalaran -- yeah, we've done all of that, and more.

"We're still going strong and I don't foresee us closing up shop any time soon," she continued. "I asked tonight why people stay in the guild and was told: 'The dental plan means I keep all my teeth in raids,' 'the 401(k),' 'I was promised a pony,' 'Oompaloompas,' 'tasty cookies,' 'beer,' and 'earworm night' ... um, yeah."

What are the other 15 Minutes of Fame's WoW personalities of 2008 through 2012 doing today?

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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