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WoW Archivist: Controversies of BlizzCon

The Failocalypse Game

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?

BlizzCon has been no stranger to controversy. As the premier Blizzard event, the stakes are high. Players are heavily invested in both the weekend and the games, and sometimes emotions run hot. We've already got a potential controversy brewing for 2013's event. Players have expressed strong feelings both for and against a possible "Warlords of Draenor" concept for the next expansion, and we know little at this point aside from the name and what it could imply.

In light of Blink 182's presence at the convention, Blizzard also asked attendees to wear clothes. It could be a truly wild BlizzCon this year!

Let's look back at other controversies from the past six BlizzCons.

The first BlizzCon

In October 2005, BlizzCon made its debut to enthusiastic crowds. However, it was hardly the massively anticipated event, with tickets selling out in seconds, that it is today. Tickets were $125, and the total attendance was a mere 8000. To put this in perspective, BlizzCon 2010 had 27,000 fans. Because so few tickets were available and "virtual tickets" did not yet exist, Murky, the pet given out to attendees, is still one of the rarest pets in the game. (Lurky isn't the same.)

The big reveal in 2005 was WoW's first expansion, The Burning Crusade. With that announcement came several big changes to the game. Outland, flying mounts, jewelcrafting, Karazhan, the Caverns of Time, linked auction houses (rather than each city having its own) -- players embraced all of these. Blood elves had their detractors, for both lore and aesthetic reasons, but most were sold on the idea.

Glaringly omitted, however, was any specific word on the new Alliance race.

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Filed under: BlizzCon, WoW Archivist

Take a nostalgia trip with a classic G4 Cheat

We all love to go on a nostalgia trip every now and then. And this G4 episode which is doing the rounds is a fine example of just that. Kristin Holt from now-defunct gaming channel G4 takes the would-be WoW player on a voyage of discovery through Classic WoW, talking about resistance auras, the factions, hidden quests, the amazing wealth that you can now get from handing in leveling quests.

Kristin then heads into the game's easter eggs, as well as mentioning hidden quests, pop culture references, and more. She explores book references, a quest relating to the original Zelda, Fight Club, Ghostbusters, and more. She also looks at the shrine left in Classic to a departed illustrator in the Blizzard team.

Next up is "a gamer who dared to dream"... she managed to get a noble steed instead of the mechanochicken, by running through a different questing route, and grinding out the Lost Supplies quest in Swamp of Sorrows to obtain Stormwind reputation. 1,000 deliveries later, the gnome has exalted reputation, and a horse to ride. It's great fun to reminisce, and if you want more old-time WoW to smile at, check out WoW Archivist.

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WoW Archivist: WoW's most terrifying monsters

WoW Archivist WoW's most terrifying monsters FRIDAY
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?

Hallow's End is once more upon us. Last year, the Archivist uncovered WoW's most terrifying secrets. But much of what's terrifying in WoW is right in your face, trying to eat you, or stomp you, or shatter your mind with madness. Let's take a look at the scariest bad guys from every era.

Mrrglrlrlrmgrrr: Monsters of classic WoW

Murlocs

To some, they're adorable, misunderstood frog people. To others, they are the amphibious stuff of nightmares. In vanilla WoW, it was nearly impossible to fight a lone murloc. Their tight-knit societies and tendency to flee meant fighting one murloc often evolved into fighting two -- or twenty. A good many early players found themselves torn to pieces by slobbering murloc hordes. Some still shudder when they hear that distinctive battle-cry.

Sons of Arugal

I'm not sure how Arugal managed to father so many sons while tucked away in the tower of Shadowfang Keep, but the guy certainly got around. Horde players questing in Silverpine Forest lived in dread of these elite worgen, who always seemed to aggro at the worst possible time.

That damn Lurker in the water leading up to the Wailing Caverns entrance

For me, this one is personal. In vanilla, fighting your way to the Wailing Caverns entrance was like a mini dungeon run all by itself. One of the caves had a small but deceptively deep pool of water. During my first trip there, I decided the water was a safe place to fire from while our tank scooped up the locals. (It was a habit I picked up.) Then something large and unknown rose up from the darkness and bit me. I've never gone for a swim there since.

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WoW Archivist: Spells we've lost

Ghostcrawler zaps a gnome
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?

Back in June, Ghostcrawler identified "ability bloat" as a major issue that he'd like to address in WoW moving forward. GC later confirmed Blizzard's intention to cull spells, but admitted "there will be many tears." Since the tweet, WoW Insider and many others have speculated about which spells will disappear forever and which will remain.

While I agree that bloat is a problem, it's not the first time that Blizzard has looked at reducing our endless action bars to more manageable proportions. Many beloved spells have already vanished, along with many strange and pointless ones, too. Let's look back at some of these spells from bygone days.

Shaman

Most missed: Cleansing Totem
In Wrath, the original Poison Cleansing Totem and Disease Cleansing Totem merged to become Cleansing Totem. It attempted to cleanse a debuff of each type every three seconds. Shamans loved this "fire and forget" method of cleansing, but Blizzard killed the spell because they wanted removing debuffs to require the active attention of a player.

Least missed: Windwall Totem
This totem had a cool name, but the narrowest possible application. It reduced damage from ranged attacks. Only attacks made by bow/gun-type weapons and thrown weapons counted -- not spells. Because wind affects bullets but not fireballs?

Weirdest: Sentry Totem
Long mocked as "Screenshot Totem," Sentry Totem allowed the shaman to switch camera views to it to keep an eye on a distant location. It had some strategic applications in battlegrounds, but given that it took up the air totem slot, few shamans used it. The totem did, in fact, help players to get great screenshots of boss kills, though. Never forget!

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WoW Archivist: A rolled-back history of realms, part 2

WoW Archivist A rolledback history of realms, part 2 FRIDAY
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 time on WoW Archivist, we talked about the early months of WoW, when the realms and the servers that run them couldn't handle the avalanche of subscribers that followed the game's release. The game experienced a population surge unprecedented in the MMO genre. Blizzard could not have predicted it and was not prepared for it.

The Broken 20

In early 2005, Blizzard was haunted by the number 20. At that time, 88 servers were operational. Of those, 20 of the original 41 servers had recently been moved to new, more powerful hardware, which Blizzard hoped would be able to handle those servers' extremely high populations. Unfortunately, a flaw in the infrastructure caused more problems than ever: severe lag, frequent server crashes, and even more frequent player disconnects. Blizzard's response was to lower the server cap by 30% until the flaw could be identified, greatly exacerbating the queue times.

Those servers became known on forums as the "Broken 20."

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WoW Archivist: A rolled-back history of realms

Hundreds of players in Stormwind
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?

If your low-population realm hasn't been linked up to another one yet, it soon will. This is a drastic step for WoW, but one that should solve the long-bemoaned low-population problem on many realms.

When WoW first launched, Blizzard had the exact opposite problem on their hands: realms had far, far too many players. Let's look back to 2004 to the earliest months of the game and remember just what players had to endure -- and what Blizzard had to do to fix it.

Uncharted realms

The servers that run the game's realms have always been shrouded in mystery. Technical details have never been shared. In a 2005 interview, producer Shane Dabiri deflected questions about the realms hardware: "Well, I really can't get into how we structure or build our infrastructure," he said. "Much of the information is proprietary and complex."

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WoW Archivist: Two weeks as a noob in 2004

A tauren in Mulgore
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?

When I took on the WoW Archivist mantle last year, I wanted to tell some personal stories as well as provide in-depth looks into the game's past. My first column talked about an early but extraordinary world PvP experience. Today I'd like to tell you about my first weeks of WoW in 2004, in a very different Azeroth than our modern version, with a very different incarnation of the hunter class.

A hunter will rise

In December 2004, a hunter stepped forward in Red Cloud Mesa. He was new to the ways of Azeroth, but eager to learn. What followed would be painful. But when the narrator shut up and the hunter proudly accepted his first quest from the Navajo minotaur guy with giant punctuation over his head, this new hunter set forth. He had nothing but a bow and a hope that his trials would forge him into a hero.

He would become a hero, many months and scars later. His first two weeks, however, were marked with terror, failure, and shame in roughly equal parts.

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WoW Archivist: WoW's first legendary quest line

Thunderfury falls from the sky
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?

Not every amazing weapon is legendary. WoW has seen plenty of great weapons come and go without a single orange letter in their tooltip. But let's face it: legendaries are the most interesting and coveted items in the game.

In patch 5.4, many players who have never before been able to equip a legendary item will have their first opportunity, thanks to Wrathion's schemes. The quest line for our legendary cloaks has been the longest and most elaborate legendary quest line to date, spanning over multiple tiers of raiding.

But how did it all begin? What was WoW's first legendary quest line? Let's take a look back to remember the legend of Thunderfury.

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WoW Archivist: When Blizzard "hated" the Horde

A night elf visits the Barrens
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?

Which faction does Blizzard love more?

For several years it's been all the rage to claim that Blizzard loves the Horde and hates the Alliance. Players trot out the "green Jesus" theory. They show how the past two expansions have focused far more on Horde characters and storylines than on Alliance intrigues.

It's true that Blizzard placed Thrall and now Garrosh and Vol'jin in the spotlight over the past few years. Players also look at the shiny new Orgrimmar that the Horde got when the old one burned down, and how Stormwind also took a beating and still hasn't recovered.

You can make the case that Blizzard has somewhat favored the Horde in WoW's recent history. But this is so very, very strange to vanilla players like me. Back then, players were convinced of the exact opposite. Players were so convinced, in fact, that some actually wanted a CM to die. In vanilla, Blizzard "loved" the Alliance and "hated" the Horde.

Don't believe me?

This quote is from a 2005 editorial called "Why the Horde is worse, and how Blizzard could fix it":

In the end, I am just a jealous Horde player... It is up to Blizzard to fix this game; I have done all that I can. Either World of Warcraft can be remembered as a great MMORPG, or it can go down as a horribly imbalanced one, like many before it. That's for Blizzard to decide.

Let's take a trip back to 2005. On a bus, perhaps. A bus made out of elemental electrical energy.

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WoW Archivist: An ultrasafe history of engineering

Force Reactive Disk
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?

If you're an engineer, you're accustomed to the chance of failure. The state of the profession throughout WoW's ten years is a bit like a goblin device. Sometimes engineering has succeeded incredibly well. The shiniest of rewards showered down on the profession from Blizzard's workshop like Thorium Grenades of Joy. During other eras, the profession has backfired, blasting shrapnel in players' faces like so many Explosive Sheep.

No one would argue that engineering is in a pretty good place right now, especially considering the newly revealed Sky Golem. It's one of the sickest mounts in the game, it transforms, it lets you harvest herbs without dismounting -- and it's only craftable by engineers.

In the family of primary professions, engineering has always been the weird uncle. No other profession makes such a diverse and bizarre array of products. Engineers can make ranged weapons, a shield, armor of all four kinds, consumables, pets, mounts, trinkets, utility items, "enchantments," "gems," "keys," feasts (yep), fishing lures, portable crafting stations, and specialized bags. It's also the only remaining profession that is still divided into exclusive specializations: goblin and gnomish engineering.

Let's look back at the early days of the profession and how it has evolved through the last four expansions.

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WoW Archivist: WoW's 20 greatest non-legendary weapons, part 2

Arcanite Ripper rockout
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?

Based on your comments from part 1, I feel the need to explain my criteria so that people can debate these choices with the right frame of mind. This list isn't just for a weapon that had good stats, or a great model, or even one that is a big part of the lore. Those are all bonuses here, but they are just that -- bonuses.

This list is about weapons that straight-up delighted us because they did something new or unique, because they were memorable in some grand way that other weapons haven't been. Gorehowl and Ashkandi, as beloved as they are, as gorgeously modeled as they are, just weren't interesting enough as items to make the list. They deserve honorable mentions, though.

A lot of amazing weapons have been left out, including some of my personal favorites, but hey, WoW just has too much greatness for any mere top 20 list to contain. Let's proceed to the top 10!

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WoW Archivist: WoW's 20 greatest non-legendary weapons

WoW Archivist WoW's 20 greatest nonlegendary weapons FRIDAY
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?

Wrathion has kept us quite busy since the Horde and Alliance landed on Pandaria's shores. Many players assumed that all this work wouldn't lead to mere metagems alone, but a legendary weapon as well at the end of our service. Given that all (most*) prior legendary items were weapons, the assumption was reasonable. As it turns out, Wrathion will reward us with orange-grade cloaks rather than stabby bits of metal. Some players have been disappointed by this revelation, and let's face it: legendary weapons are absolutely the most cherished and coveted items in the game.

However, legendary weapons don't have the market cornered on awesome. The game includes thousands of non-legendary weapons and some of them have earned the love of players despite the color of their font.

Let's look at what I think are the top 20 non-legendary weapons from WoW's long history.

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WoW Archivist: Paths not taken

Path of the Titans at Blizzcon
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?

Recently, Blizzard addressed rumors that their ultra-secret next MMO, codenamed Titan, had been "reset." Developers were indeed reassigned to other projects as the slimmed-down team made "some large design and technology changes to the game." Since we don't know anything about Titan for sure, despite some compelling leaks, we'll never know what features the game would have had as part of its original design.

The WoW team, on the other hand, has backed away from many different announced features and content additions that didn't work out. This week's WoW Archivist will look at some of the more interesting and infamous canceled or delayed features.

Homeless

Believe it or not, player housing was briefly tested in alpha. Model viewers showed files going back to alpha in a folder called "playerhousing" (as shown below). Only human houses were ever designed. Blizzard also added a portal in Stormwind as an entrance to an instanced player housing area. An alpha blue poster named Katricia wrote, "Our current idea (which could change) is to extend the cities to have player housing neighborhoods. For example, in the canal area of Stormwind players can see a blue instance portal behind a large portcullis; this is the entrance to the player housing neighborhood in Stormwind."

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WoW Archivist: Patch 2.3 -- Azeroth iterated

Patch 2.3: The Gods of Zul'Aman
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?

Blizzard likes to talk about their "iterative" process, meaning they make many small improvements over time to produce the best possible result. In the case of the lackluster patch 2.2, players were disappointed that more was not done. With the game's subscriptions still skyrocketing, Blizzard felt pressure to deliver a major dose of new content and improvements.

In November 2007, Blizzard answered the bell and unleashed an iteration that reshaped the game from top to bottom. Players of every level experienced sweeping changes to their play experience -- many of which are so integral now that it's hard to believe we played without them for so long. If you ask players about patch 2.3, they'll call it the "ZA patch." Zul'Aman was a great raid, but 2.3 offered so much more than that.

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WoW Archivist: Launch classes' 9 biggest aggravations, part 2

PallyPower
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?

Vanilla WoW is properly considered the golden age of this beloved MMO. The evolutionary ideas behind the game were exciting, the art style was fresh, and the world was full of mysteries. Some yearn for a return to that time. But many forget that classes at launch suffered from some truly aggravating designs. Last time on Archivist, we looked at priest racials, hunter mana, warlock shard farming, and shaman weapon skill resets. This week, we review the most aggravating aspects of warriors, mages, druids, rogues, and paladins.

Warriors: The leather conundrum

Let's be fair: warriors, for the most part, had it pretty good in vanilla. Back then, they were the only class that could viably tank and their DPS was better than most hybrids. Rage had its share of problems early on, it's true, but the mechanic worked -- warriors just needed more of it. Stance dancing was annoying to some but the mark of a pro to others. Warriors also had a crippling bug at launch that would register all enemy dodges and parries as misses, preventing skills like Overpower from ever proc'ing. The bug made early leveling painful, but it was solved a few months after launch.

The biggest aggravation for warriors throughout vanilla -- and beyond -- was leather.

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