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Filed under: Virtual selves

Breakfast Topic: My cold, dead fingers

If there's one thing I hate doing in World of Warcraft, it's missing a raid or instance I said I'd be at.

It doesn't happen very often, because I try and be conscientious about it: while it's true that WoW is a game, it is (for me at least) a social game and I consider my guildmates friendly acquaintances at the very least. Just as I wouldn't bail on friends when we have an appointment to go out bowling or for pizza or when I was in a weekly D&D game, I don't like it at all when I have to step out of a raid or bail on an appointed "help me get my Northrend Dungeon Hero achievement" or what have you.

Sometimes it's unavoidable. Recently I had to leave a raid before it was done because I simply couldn't stay focused on what we were doing due to feeling feverish and run down. I enjoy tanking and healing with my guild but my health and real life have to come first so I bowed out once I was sure a suitable replacement was available. I've been with this guild since the launch of Wrath now, and we've seen pretty much the whole of the xpac together.

Where do you stand on it? Do you see WoW as something easily skipped out on, or are you in a tight knit social guild where you feel obliged to show up?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Wrath of the Lich King

Felicia Day says The Guild comic is coming in Spring 2010

Felicia Day told us back at BlizzCon that she was going to go undercover for a little while as The Guild's latest season wrapped up, but undercover for this woman seems to mean that she's only in two TV shows and prepping for a comic book release. She showed up in last night's Lie to Me episode, singing, and in this interview over at Newsarama from the Video Game Awards with Sandeep Parikh (who himself just showed up in Tiki Bar TV -- slightly NSFW, language) she says she's still working on the unfortunately canceled Dollhouse as well. So that's where Eliza Dushku got her addiction from.

She also says that the Dark Horse published Guild comic book is due out in spring of next year -- Jim Rugg is working on the art right now -- and fans of The Guild may even get a little Christmas present from the show and Microsoft. We'll keep an eye out for that for sure. So even though we're in between seasons (and we assume that season 4 is upcoming next year, even though we haven't heard an official announcement on that yet), there's lots of Guild goodness to go around.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Humor, Interviews, Comics, Fan art

WoW Insider Show Episode 120: Dungeon Findorama

The WoW Insider Show went on the air last weekend, and despite the fact that we started out down two voices, the discussion was fast and furious, as we all had plenty to say about patch 3.3 and specifically the Dungeon Finder system. Adam Holisky, Turpster, and I started off the show, and then Matthew Rossi muscled his way in (as only someone of his stature can do) to join us in discussion on finding dungeons, Authenticators and the Corehound Pups, and since Rossi made it, we had to talk some shaman and warriors as well.

Bad news, all: we didn't win the podcast award we were up for (congrats to the 4Player Podcast, who won the award and are now our sworn enemies -- we're igniting the rivalry!). But as we say on this show, we'll still be doing the bedtime story for you all anyway, just because you're so great. And yes, above is the check I'm mailing to Turpster for guessing the patch 3.3 release date correctly -- don't let it ever be said that we here at WoW.com aren't men of our word.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Podcasts, Podcasting, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Humor, WoW Insider Show

Breakfast Topic: Lessons from Single Player RPGs

I'm sure by now it's pretty much no secret whatsoever that half the team, myself included, spent a good part of the waning days of Patch 3.2 enamored with Dragon Age Origins. Maybe it's the innocent charm of the leading man, Alistair, the deep and involved game world, or the fact that Marilyn Manson totally warned us that this was gonna be big, but I'm in deep. Patch 3.3 is finally dragging me back to WoW with its pure awesomeness, but Dragon Age is still pretty fresh in my mind, and there's more DLC to come.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Lore, RP

How the WoW community is about to push the self-destruct button

This post is going to be very meta in some regards, and it's going to touch on a few things that deal with the WoW community's very existence. We've written this article in hopes that it might help calm the waters, or at least bring some will on the part of the multitudes of individuals not to jump on the wrong bandwagon.

If you've been paying attention to the role forums and the "Ghostcrawler drama" this past week, you know what I'm talking about. If not, we'll begin with a brief rundown.

The Inherency of the Status Quo

WoW is designed and run by a team of people, with a handful of "leads" in position to direct the design of the game. These people, such as Ghostcrawler, are at the top of the ladder in terms of game development. They are the conglomerate of the entire design and development teams underneath them.

Ghostcrawler, and in the past a few people like him, post on the role forums daily in an effort to establish a dialogue with the community over some, but not all, game design principals.

The community, as expected, is more than happy to talk with Ghostcrawler and the rest of Blizzard.

The Harm of the Vocal Minority

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard

How reputation governs the game

Ravius over at Kill Ten Rats ruminates on the importance of reputation in these very social games that we're playing with each other, and it resonated with me in terms of a few different things going on in World of Warcraft right now. We've talked lots before about ninjas and how that back-and-forth works -- in that case, karma is directly driven by what other people think of you, and of course that's seen more weakly in lots of other places around the game, including guild recruitment, your friends list, and just the general server at large.

Ravius talks mostly about the negative reputations we earn, and certainly that's a powerful motivator for a lot of people. But positive reputation is also a strong force in this game -- I'm interested to see how we deal with earning and keeping positive reputation in the new Dungeon Finder and eventually the Battle.net system. Gone may be the days when you build up a good reputation by saying "remember me if you need a good DPS" at the end of a run. It'll be interesting to see what methods we replace that one with.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Instances, Raiding

The World of Warcraft in numbers

Business Management has a really interesting graphic up (that they say came partly from Eurogamer.net, but I didn't see it over there) that breaks down WoW "by the numbers." It features an interesting series of stats about the game, in what I call an Oatmeal-style format, everything from number of players and items (30,000) to number of locations (1400) and the most commonly looted item every day (Frostweave). I think these stats all came from a few different places -- from a talk given at Austin GDC last year, to the toplist over on the official WoW site (of course, that chart is constantly updated, so Onyxia wasn't always the deadliest mob, and Frostweave wasn't always the most looted.

But it is cool to see all of the numbers stacked up in a row in such a stylish way. And 3.6 million pieces of Saronite Ore turned into 3 million Saronite bars? If that's true, why am I paying so much for it at the AH? 192 quests completed per second is pretty wild, too. That's like three entire Oracles reputation grinds (give or take a few dailies), all completed in this second. And this one. And this one.

Filed under: Items, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Quests, Bosses

WoW Insider Show Episode 119 with special guest Mary Varn

Our podcast was live on the air as usual last Saturday, and the show is now up for your listening enjoyment. Artist Mary Varn was aboard to talk with us about her comic and her Warcraft career, and Matt Low of World of Matticus also jumped on to chat with Turpster and I about the latest WoW news, including the impending patch 3.3, the recent server outages, and the Taiwanese player who picked up all of the achievements in the game (which, probably not entirely concidentally, is the subject of Mary's comic today).

And of course we answered your emails as well. For those of you wondering about our Podcast Awards nomination, voting has ended, and the winners are supposed to be announced next Saturday in a ceremony online. We'll keep you updated -- remember, if we win, we'll be giving away any prizes we get to one lucky listener, and we'll be recording a Warcraft bedtime story for all of you to download. Cross your fingers for us!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.

Listen here on the page:

Filed under: Podcasts, Podcasting, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Quests, Humor, WoW Insider Show, Achievements

All the World's a Stage: Anonymosity

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Roleplaying is a journey of trust you take with strangers. You may now and then start out with a group of people you know in real life, but for the most part, the people you roleplay with have no idea who you really are, or why you are sitting here at the computer. You can tell them if you want to, but most people don't ask. Roleplayers tend to keep personal details private, and don't intrude on one another's space.

Besides, other roleplayers don't necessarily care that much about who you "really are" either. They're there to get to know your character, not you as a person, unless your character first makes a very good impression and they decide that they actually want to be friends as real people. Even though you respect each other as people who share the same interest, there's still a distance between you which either (or both) of you may wish to maintain.

And yet, the relationship you have is one of trust. It's not at all at the same level as a best friend of course, but you still have to trust one another in a very creative sense -- you rely on each other to create interesting things for your characters to share with one another. You're not just buying a shirt from a salesperson or holding the door for a passerby -- you're exchanging behavior and language in an unpredictable and totally interconnected way. Any little surprise a stranger brings to an interaction may completely alter the whole game session and stick in your mind as one of your most memorable gaming experiences. Roleplayers have to trust other roleplayers to help make those experiences positive, even without knowing anything at all about one another. Sometimes two characters can even become very close friends, even though the real people behind them do not.

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Gender differences in armor

A few readers sent us this post over at Border House that has laid bare (heh) the oft-mentioned differences in armor between the genders in World of Warcraft. While there are some exceptions, in most cases, the exact same set of armor (like this chestplate above) shows up as much more skimpy on female characters than it does on male characters. To the point of absurdity in some places -- even plate leggings, designed to serve as solid protection to the legs, appear to be more like plate thong underwear on the ladies.

As Border House points out, this isn't just WoW's problem. Fantasy and sci-fi in general have been the domain of boys in the past (even if that is changing quickly), and the sexual depictions in the genre have reflected that, for both traditional and financial reasons. As I pointed out the other day, all of Blizzard's luminaries thus far have been men -- is it any surprise that the game is designed from a mostly male perspective? And as BH also says, fortunately, WoW has lots of different gear. If you don't like what your character is wearing, then you can find something else.

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

Breakfast Topic: The high cost of playing

I support World of Warcraft's paid services. I think they're good for the game. I think a lot of the options that the services provide extend our interest in the game, allowing us to play when we might have otherwise lost interest. What I do worry about is how expensive everything is when you start to add them all up. I suspect I'm like the average player who has more than a few max level characters at this point, which means wanting to avail of paid services on all of them could get a little pricey.

Let's take character transfers, for instance. If I wanted to transfer all my characters to a server where my friends play (why would I want to move just one?) it would cost me a hefty sum. Add to that the fact that my wife plays wherever I play so we multiply that hefty sum by two. Imagine if I wanted to change my characters' races to those combinations that were previously unavailable come Cataclysm... how much would that add up to? It doesn't take an accountant to see that it could cost a small fortune.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

How we learn the jargon

We get a lot of requests here on the site from researchers trying to study you World of Warcraft players. Everybody with a research grant, apparently, wants to study you -- your psychology, your interaction, and the relationship you have with your avatar. We get so many requests, actually, that we usually have to pass -- we're not smart enough to choose which ones are legit and which ones aren't, and if we posted them all, we'd do nothing but post requests for survey answers all day. But I like the way alckly has done her research over on WoW Ladies LJ: she posted a question about WoW jargon, and you can see everyone's answers right away.

We definitely have lots of jargon to go around, from LFG to twinks to PuGs and a lot more. But what's most interesting about all of these answers, to me, is the way it spreads. There's a little bit of Googling and research going on, but really it's a very social thing -- you see "wtb" in the trade channel, and then you ask someone you know what it means (rather than looking it up somewhere else). Thus, definitions of the terms are very organic: "pst" could mean "pssst, here's a whisper" or "please send tell," and yet because they both mean the same thing, both meanings propagate. Likewise, usage tends to be a very social thing -- the person who types "LFG strat need heals" won't type "would u like 2 go to strat?"

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

The Daily Quest: Guild switching

We here at WoW.com are on a Daily Quest to bring you interesting, informative and entertaining WoW-related links from around the blogosphere.

Filed under: Hunter, Items, Virtual selves, Guilds, Raiding, The Daily Quest

Drama Mamas: That Guy

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

We all come across That Guy both in-game and in person. That Guy is a bit overzealous while watching sports, picks fights at parties and/or verbally abuses people when things go wrong in a raid. That Guy is the one who thinks emulating Tokyo Rose during Alterac Valley games is a good thing. In general, That Guy can be avoided or ignored, but what if your Significant Other turns into That Guy whenever he ventures into Azeroth? Feels Single In Game writes in about this very phenomenon.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Drama Mamas

Fan pictures added to the Battlecry mosaic

We posted about Blizzard's Warcraft anniversary minisite a while back, and since then, they've been busy, filling it up with even more content. The community interviews and the new Blizzcast haven't yet appeared, but there are many, many pictures on the Battlecry mosaic submissions section. Pages and pages of fans showing their support for the Horde or the Alliance. It's quite a sight to see, actually -- the pictures range from the straightforward to the silly to the very involved (one couple's posed up with their t-shirts and Frostmourne and logo and everything). There's quite a few whole-guild pics too. There's 43 pages total, so it's a lot to look through, but it's definitely worth a browse.

Ancilorn reminds us, also, that this is a contest -- as more and more pictures from each faction roll in, we'll have access to some mosaic art using these actual pictures, the first piece of which was just revealed today. They've featured some of their favorite pictures over on the Facebook page as well. This is turning out to be a pretty cool idea, and as I said in the original post, I bet we'll be seeing these pictures in lots of other places in the future.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Blizzard

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