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Books you should read to better understand WoW

No, this isn't a list of WoW novels. The thing is, World of Warcraft is built on the backs of a lot of fantasy literature, mythology, sword and sorcery epics, and so on. And while attempting to put together a reading list to truly explore all of these subjects would be meaningless, making some recommendations to help you get into the WoW spirit could be fun. If nothing else, you'll get to potentially read some new, interesting books.

Now, there's no way I can get every classic of every genre that's influenced World of Warcraft into a list that would fit on this site. There are hundreds of potential books out there. So I'm just going to hit some highlights and let y'all go wild in the comments filling in the blanks.

J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings - Tolkien is the 10,000 lb gorilla in modern fantasy. If you're not influenced by him, you're a reaction to him. The reason there are multiple kinds of elves and dwarves running around Azeroth fighting orcs is because of Tolkien's impact on fantasy. If you want to get the tropes, you should probably read this.

Robert E. Howard's Conan and other stories - Howard is the other huge gorilla influencing modern fantasy. I mention Conan as his most famous creation, but there's just as much good stuff to be read by Howard that has nothing to do with the Cimmerian. His Solomon Kane, Kull, Bran Mak Morn, and his forays into horror and historical fiction all blazed from an imagination so incandescent that it burned the man himself out in a short amount of time. Be warned - most of this stuff was written for the pulps, and it has all the virtues and all the flaws of pulp fiction written in the 20's and 30's. It's often racist, sexist, and ranges wildly in quality.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

15 Minutes of Fame: (Almost) 15 authors of fame

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

15 Minutes of Fame tries to feature as wide a variety of WoW players as possible. It's not only about being famous in the real world, or being a somebody in the WoW community, or playing WoW despite some remarkable circumstance. 15 Minutes covers all those things, yes ... But we also try to talk with players who are representative of the typical player experience -- ambassadors of the Folks Next Door, if you will.

But no matter how we try to balance things, we always seem to end up back at another interview with an author. Writers who game are a particular bunch. They always have a lot to say about the fantasy genre and the game lore and way the world of Azeroth is unfolding; it makes for a pretty interesting interview. So when we realized that we'd pretty much overshot the bottom of our dance card despite the line of authors winding past the punch bowl and out the door ... Well, we decided it was time to give everyone a full helping of nothing but WoW-playing writers. With our common enjoyment of WoW and the fantasy genre, we figure most readers will find something from these authors they'll want to curl up with on the couch.

Welcome, then, to 15 Minutes of Fame's list of (Almost) 15 WoW-Playing Authors of Fame.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

15 Minutes of Fame: Vampire Empire novelist duo writes, games as one

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Talking about Clay and Susan Griffith means talking about partnerships. Clay and Susan are husband and wife, WoW partners and co-GMs, and authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 -- "married in all things, for better or for worse," as they put it. Together, they've worked on comics and prose with such pop culture icons as The Tick, Kolchak the Night Stalker, The Phantom, Allan Quatermain, and Disney characters, too. "Granted, we are casual WoW players due to time constraints, but we both have level 85s," says Susan. "We enjoy questing and the lore of the game, as well as a fair amount of RPing. When time and fair winds permit, we even have a family raid group."

What the Griffiths have learned from collaborating on the page, they say translates directly to playing WoW as a group: trust, respect, and distribution of power and roles. From the Vampire Empire to Azeroth? According to this couple -- absolutely.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Richard A. Knaak, other authors will be signing at BlizzCon

Part of the fun of BlizzCon is that beyond all of the dev panels and crazy mainstage stuff going on, there's also the big convention hall full of things to see and do. All of Blizzard's licensing partners usually show up, so Upper Deck usually has games going on, FigurePrints shows off their wares, and all of the computer companies usually have some fun rigs on display. And now we've learned that, as usual, Pocket Books and TokyoPop will have booths set up, along with their usual stable of authors and artists. Richard A. Knaak has confirmed on his website that he'll be there, so if you're going, be sure to bring along your copy of War of the Ancients, and maybe you can get it signed.

Our staff is hoping for a Christie Golden appearance as well, and while she doesn't have anything about BlizzCon on the website yet (she is at ComiCon this week, though), we're presuming that she'll be there. Medievaldragon of Blizzplanet is apparently also presuming it: he's included her with Knaak in his headline about the show (see update). So hopefully she'll be around, and Ziebart and Whitcomb can take their treasured copies of Arthas over and do some fanboy groveling.

Should be excellent. We'll be doing our best to get some interviews with these folks here on the site as well, so even if you're not with us in Anaheim, you'll still get a chance to hear from some of your favorite Warcraft authors. BlizzCon ahoy!

Update: Medievaldragon has gotten back to us, and he says that he's heard from Golden herself that she'll be at BlizzCon. Get those books ready for some signin'!

BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd! We've got all the latest news and information. At BlizzCon, you can play the latest games, meet your guildmates, and ask the developers your questions. Plus, there are some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Lore, BlizzCon

PopCap's addons are obfuscated, Blizzard is OK with that

We've posted about both the Bejeweled and the Peggle addons here lots -- we're big fans of PopCap releasing free versions of their games for us to play in Azeroth. But all might not be well in addon land -- a few authors have come to us to point out that PopCap's addons actually contain obfuscated code in them. Obfuscation is a little hard to define -- it's a coding technique that makes code difficult to be read by other programmers, either for purposes of compression or to deliberately hide the code's function or purpose from anyone reading it. Obfuscation is strictly prohibited by Blizzard's addon policy, and so when addon authors dived into PopCap's code and found it obfuscated, they were concerned that PopCap is dodging Blizzard's rules.

We spoke with PopCap about the issue, and they told us that yes, they run a program called luasrcdiet on their code to shrink it down and keep the memory footprint to a minimum. While working on their addons, they were in contact with Blizzard (and showed them the original, non-obfuscated code), and they tell us that Blizzard decided that since the purpose of the obfuscation rule in the policy was to allow the community to police their own addons for bad code (and since Blizzard trusted PopCap, there were no concerns there), then Blizzard was OK with PopCap releasing obfuscated addon code.

So. Has PopCap broken the rules? In the strictest sense, yes -- the rules say no obfuscated code, and PopCap's addons do make things hard to read. But Blizzard, who wrote the rules to begin with, has no problem with making an exception for PopCap, and in doing so, their reasoning seems pretty sound. It doesn't seem fair to make an exception in any case, but we admit, if you're going to make an exception for anyone, you can't go wrong with PopCap. What do you think?

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard

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