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Hands-on with Puggable


We first heard about Vivox's Puggable service back at the Austin Game Developers Conference -- Vivox is a company that runs voice chat for online games, and Puggable is their attempt to target the WoW audience with a quick and easy way to put a group into voice chat. The site is still in a closed beta, but it's slowly opening up, and so as soon as we got a chance to jump in and test the service out, we took it.

So what's the verdict? While Puggable's basic mechanics seem to work (by following their instructions, you can get a group into voice chat), the system itself is not quite ready for prime-time. Not only does it have an installation process that most cautious WoW account holders will scoff at (you have to install an Internet Explorer or Firefox addon, and restart your browser to use the service), but the real draw of the system, being able to browse and see player information at a moment's notice, aren't all there quite yet. Read on for our experiences.

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Filed under: How-tos, Raiding, Guides

Elitist Jerks and Opera team up for WoW browser

This past Friday, web browser developer Opera announced that they had teamed up with respected theory crafting website Elitist Jerks to create a new browser. The Elitist Jerks browser, as it is titled, is designed to cater to the needs of the World of Warcraft online community, with an array of customized features, pre-selected options, and a sleek skin reminiscent of the site it's named for. The pitch interested me enough that I decided to put away my beloved Firefox for the weekend, and give Opera's Elitist Jerks browser a thorough test.

Obviously it would be somewhat insane to expect that this is an entirely new browser built from the ground up. At its core, the browser is Opera 9. So if you've got a strong aversion to that browser, you're not going to find anything here to redeem it. However, if you're ambivalent towards Opera, or if you've never even tried it, the Elitist Jerks browser is definitely worth checking out. It's got all the features we as consumers have come to expect from a browser over the last few years, along with the polish that Opera is known for.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

GotGame releases their ingame browser separately


Behold the power of WoW Insider -- GotGame told us about their browser and social networking service a little while ago, and we were so much more fascinated with the browser part of their app that they split it off. And here it is: Rogue is what they're calling their ingame browser application -- you can download it for free from the site, and after a quick install, you can open up a browser in any PC game.

As lots of commenters said on our last post, this isn't really an ingame browser, it's more of an overlay that lets you browse while playing the game. And all it really does is save you the couple of minutes it would take to tab out and check your own browser (or just run WoW in a windowed mode, and use both at the same time).

But there are a probably a few users out there who would find it really useful. Downtime is the main issue I can think of (though lots of my downtime is filled lately with the Bejeweled addon anyway). But if you've been waiting for a solid, standalone ingame browser to come along (complete with Flash support, which makes it easy to pull up Hulu or Pandora while playing), Rogue is it.

Filed under: Fan stuff, News items, Add-Ons

GotGame tries to bring a browser and social networking inside Azeroth


The folks at GotGame kindly sent us a note about their new service -- they're running a "closed beta" (which just means you have to sign up for it, but they're increasing the number of people in it each week) of some software that will let you actually crack open a web browser ingame, with some social networking services attached (so you can keep track of your friends in the service and what they're playing).

You can see some screenshots of how it works in the gallery below. Personally, I've never been too big a fan of any of the "cross-game" social networking services (Xfire is a really popular one that we've talked about before, and a friend invited me to Raptr as well recently), mostly because I already know what my gaming friends are playing, and I've got enough social services running to distract me from my work anyway. And while an ingame browser is kind of nice (EVE Online actually has one built-in to the game), my own browser is already just an alt-tab away (and I've always got Lightheaded when I just need to pull up some game help). It's nice that this one works in more than just World of Warcraft, but really, why bother playing anything else?

So the GotGame software didn't really strike a chord with me, but maybe if your friends are already on it, and you're looking for a more robust ingame browser, it's just what you need. Get Adobe Air installed, and then you can try getting into the beta on their website. Any other ingame browsers that you guys use regularly or, like me, do you prefer that things outside the game stay there?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Screenshots

Realm Status plugin for Firefox


The realms are back up now, but we've all been through that wait before -- you've got things to do in Azeroth, but Blizzard is doing their updating, so you're stuck browsing around WoW Insider in Firefox. And here's a handy little tool to help you get back in the game as soon as possible -- the Realm Status Tool Firefox plugin will let you see the status of all the realms from right in the browser's toolbar, or even monitor a realm for you, and drop a note when its status changes.

Of course, if you just need to see what's up and down, the Realm Status page on Blizzard's site will do it for you, but the plugin will actually put up a popup when your selected realm is back up. So you can browse all you want, and know exactly the right time to log back into the game. It's been around for quite a while, though it's only at version .4, but I haven't had any problems with it yet. And it supports both US and EU realms, so no matter where you are, you can have it keep an eye on what your realm is up to.

Thanks, Berg!

Filed under: Fan stuff, Realm Status, Add-Ons, Instances

SK Gaming's Arena Ranking system revamped

SK Gaming sends word that they've updated their Arena Ranking system -- if you want to find out who the best players or teams are on your Region, Battleground or Realm, this is the place to go. You can see the top player or team rankings separately, or even check out the most popular setups by spec and class (and surprisingly, Hunters are on top! No, I'm just kidding, of course it's Warrior/Druid. What did you expect?).

Very nice tool, and it's just been updated recently, so it's faster and more accurate than ever. Talents are new to the system as well, but they're integrated very well, so its easy to quickly pull up whatever group of players or teams you want to look at, and then pull all kinds of statistics out of there, including ratings, setups, and builds for everybody. And as someone who's done some web programming in the past, I'll say that whoever coded it knows their stuff -- those URLs are awesome.

Plus, we hear that some of the Chinese team names are pretty funny, but considering we're not actually fluent in the language, we'd never know it. Anyone want to translate the better ones?

Filed under: Fan stuff, PvP, Classes, Battlegrounds, Arena

Site updates around WoW Insider

There have been a few tweaks and updates the past few days around here at WoW Insider. First of all, you've probably noticed that our comments system has been upgraded a bit, and now in addition to signing in with your standard Weblogs, Inc. name and password (more information about how to do that here), you can choose to sign in with with your AOL or AIM screenname. Unfortunately, there is no way to link your Weblogs, Inc. profile (which you can see by clicking on your name in any of your comments) with your AIM screenname, so you'll have to recreate your profile (or just keep using your old signin). But if you're new to the comments section, you can now use your AOL SN to leave a comment. This is a fairly new system, so there are still a few glitches floating around -- if you have a problem with anything, let us know, and we'll try to fix it and/or get back to you.

Since we're talking about profiles, now might also be a good time to point out that you can change that default picture that goes with your profile. We've got lots of icons to choose from (and even more here), so if you're still using that boring gray question mark face (what are you, a low level questgiver?) spice it up a little bit by clicking on your profile page and putting a picture in there. The more colorful our comments section can get, the better.

And finally, some good news for iPhone and iPod touch users -- while you can always see the full version of our site on those devices by using MobileSafari to go to wow.com, you can now see an iPhone-formatted page at i.wow.com. And if we may say so, our designers did a really great job on it. They continue to work hard to make our site better all the time, so stay tuned for more updates to WoW Insider and the other sites in the Joystiq network.

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Ingame music from the comfort of your browser

WoW music playerIf you're away from your gaming PC and need a quick fix, the official World of Warcraft website now features a music player where you can listen to many of the in-game music tracks (as well as Warcraft III and Warcraft II tracks), plus two special dramatic episodes themed for Christmas and Halloween 2004. Complete with dancing ogre, it'll keep you going until you can get back to Azeroth.

You can find the soundtrack on CD if you're especially enthusiastic, but as the CD came with pre-orders and the Collector's Edition of the game, you may need to hunt around on eBay for it.

Filed under: Odds and ends

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