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Posts with tag burning-crusade

WoW Moviewatch: The Hunt [NSFW]

Having exhausted all the newer machinima that I cared to post, I decided to go digging deep into the WoW Insider archives for something really ancient that hadn't seen the light of day in a while. Serendipitously, the first thing I found ended up leading me to something we've never actually posted on the site before. Convenient, huh? It would seem that back in 2008, we posted a trailer for a feature-length machinima called The Hunt, but when the final version was released in August 2011, it was off our radar and never got published. Three and a half years will do that, I suppose!

Before we get started, please note that the video has some cursing, graphic violence, and a very short sex scene (less than 2 seconds) that you may not want your small children or boss to see or hear. That said, the whole thing runs 60 minutes long, so you'll probably want to sit down to this like a movie when you're at home anyway.

So overall, I have to say I was really pleasantly surprised by The Hunt. It's very different from the other narrative story machinima I've seen, using modern storytelling techniques, music, and even modern dialogue. The result is a simultaneously epic and ridiculous movie that's a whole lot of fun to watch, provided you're able to let yourself go with it.

I say that last bit because I do expect some of you to hate this machinima. Some of you will hate it for its unpolished voice acting, while others will hate it for the liberties it takes with the Warcraft lore. Now, I can't really help you if you're a lore buff, but concerning the voice acting, I've got a thing or two to say. First, yes, I'll admit that it's not the best -- but personally, I do think it works. The whole movie is a sort of genre parody, mixing serious fantasy story elements with comedy (think The Princess Bride), and within that world, goofy, over-the-top voices aren't out of place. The real complaint to be had with the voice acting is simply that there are only three voice actors for all the characters, and at times, some of the characters just sound too similar.

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Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

Why World of Warcraft lore matters

The importance of lore
I started playing World of Warcraft with no real idea of the Warcraft universe. I'd played a lot of RPGs, but I wasn't a big RTS player and I was generally more into tabletop play. My gateway drugs for the MMO genre were games like Planescape: Torment. (Man, I loved Planescape.)

As a result, my first time through the game, I barely paid attention to what I was doing, who I was fighting or why. It wasn't until I got to Molten Core that I started really thinking about what was going on. How did Thaurissan summon Ragnaros when he clearly had not intended to, and what was the Firelord up to? At the time, Ragnaros seemed astonishing to me, an entity of pure fire older than the whole world. The war between his Dark Iron servants and the dragons and orcs atop the Blackrock Spire became a central part of my game as I moved on to Blackwing Lair. I started paying a lot more attention to the dungeons and quests I was running.

Once we hit Outland and I got to Shadowmoon Valley, I ran the Cipher of Damnation quest line (a quest that is all I could hope for in a long quest chain, frankly), and the end of that quest line raised so many questions that I often point to it as the beginning of my lore nerd status.

What is the Cipher of Damnation? If it's the spell Kil'jaeden taught to Gul'dan that he used to raise the Hand of Gul'dan and sever the connection between the orcs and the elements, it's clearly not all it can do. Since using it summons Cyrukh the Firelord and since Oronok Torn-heart says it has been used "in the history of our worlds," I am now convinced that the Cipher is the spell that Thaurissan used to summon Ragnaros. But where did he learn it? It was also the spell Kael'thas used to try and summon Kil'jaeden through the Sunwell, which continued past Kael's death in Magister's Terrace.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Burning Crusade, Lore, Wrath of the Lich King, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Does World of Warcraft need to be more difficult?

The above video is a bit lengthy, but it's well worth the watch simply because it does raise a few valid points along the line. And lest you think this is yet another player whining about the endless hardcore vs. casual debate, it's not -- this is simply a player who is incredibly passionate about the game we all play. In that passion, he's decided to talk about the direction that raiding in WoW has taken and how it has gone downhill, in his opinion.

On the one hand, he has a point. There is a stark difference between the feel of raiding back in the days of vanilla, The Burning Crusade, and now. There's a stark difference in numbers, which any graph can illustrate. More and more people can complete raids now from one degree or another, which leaves people barreling through content at light speed and doesn't really give that same feeling that raiding had in years past.

On the other, is changing the difficulty in WoW really the way to accomplish that goal? I don't think so.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

The Smart Kids -- or, why Cataclysm failed to impress

I was a smart kid. You remember those kids from school who were always the first to turn a test in and the ones to get the best grades? The ones who never seemed to put any effort into studying but always managed to get an A? That was me. You'd think that being a smart kid would make life incredibly easy, but it did exactly the opposite. Of course you had the endless students who hated you or made fun of you because you were smart, but there was something much harder to deal with than that.

See, in public schools (in America, at least), teachers generally teach at the speed of the slowest kid in class. This is absolutely appropriate, because you don't want anyone to fall behind. For the slowest kid, this meant that subjects were presented in a way that they could understand, and they'd learn the lessons even if it took a little extra time. But for the smartest kid in the class, it meant that classrooms were places of exquisite torture where information flowed at a snail's pace, and most of the information presented were things the smart kid already knew.

It made school an excruciatingly boring place to be.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria

Saying goodbye to Cataclysm

I remember the first time I saw the trailer for Cataclysm. I will cheerfully admit I totally flipped out over it, largely because I was so excited to see Deathwing make a return. I've always been fond of the Dragon Aspects, and I was looking forward to an expansion that featured them in a way they'd never been featured before. We'd seen Alexstrasza and Ysera, of course, but with Malygos dead and Nozdormu missing, I knew something interesting had to happen on both of those fronts.

The expansion itself was different than I'd expected, to be perfectly honest. Cataclysm wasn't exactly a bad expansion, really, and the old world quest revamp as well as flight being added were both welcome additions. But Cataclysm lacked the spark previous expansions had, and I can't quite put my finger on why, exactly. Despite the fact that it didn't knock The Burning Crusade out of first place on my list of favorite expansions, there's still something I'm going to miss about Cataclysm once we're wandering Pandaria.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

Know Your Lore: Why Garrosh Hellscream shouldn't die

Know Your Lore Why Garrosh Hellscream should not die SUN
The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Garrosh Hellscream is one of the most polarizing figures in Warcraft lore at the moment. You either hate him or love him, and there are very few players who stand somewhere in the middle. Ever since his introduction in The Burning Crusade, Garrosh's journey has been a series of ups and downs, starting with the moment that then-Warchief Thrall showed Hellscream how his father died. It was as a hero to the orcish race, and Garrosh has spent the majority of his time on Azeroth trying to live up to that heroic image.

It's a tough role to fill. And in the press event for Mists of Pandaria, it was revealed that Garrosh would be taken down, his role as warchief ended. Given all of the chaos Garrosh has sown in his short reign as warchief, it's no wonder that it's not just the Alliance gunning for the warchief's downfall -- the Horde isn't particularly happy with him, either. So it seems entirely likely that Garrosh will fall, his reign will end, and the world will move on.

And frankly, Garrosh's death is the worst possible thing that could happen.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

How the Raid Finder changed Warcraft lore

I know what you're thinking: What's the Raid Finder got to do with Warcraft lore, of all things? I hadn't really given it much thought, either. Generally speaking, Warcraft lore is a wholly separate animal from game mechanics. After all, the endless carrying of flags in Warsong Gulch doesn't exactly tell a compelling story, and returning to the same dungeon repeatedly to kill the same bosses over and over doesn't really make sense from a lore perspective, either.

When the Raid Finder was introduced, there were plenty of people curious about how it would turn out and far more who were excited about the possibilities of the feature. Along with cross-realm raiding, the Raid Finder has entirely changed the face of raiding as we know it. Much like the downsize from 40-man to 25-man with the release of The Burning Crusade expansion, the Raid Finder revolutionized raiding and changed it into something that far more easily accessible for players who don't necessarily have the time to dedicate to regular raiding.

This isn't to say that the Raid Finder is a magical solution to everything, however.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore

Know Your Lore: State of the Alliance, 2012

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

It has never been harder to be Alliance. Throughout the years of war brought about by the orcish invasion of Azeroth, the Alliance has seen its ups and downs. During that first assault, Stormwind was destroyed, its king assassinated. However, the direct result of this was an Alliance of kingdoms that paved the way for the Alliance as we know it today -- a smart, level-headed group of races focused on survival. The survival of each race individually, and the survival of the world as we know it. A noble cause, and the Alliance is well-known for its nobility.

Yet despite bouncing back from that original, horrific assault, the Alliance seems to be in a downward spiral in the days of Cataclysm, one which is spinning horrifically out of control. And despite the best efforts of Alliance leaders, trying to staunch the flow of death and despair is becoming increasingly more difficult. This has much to do with the effects of the Shattering, and even more to do with those enemies of old; the orcs and their united allies in the Horde. Even though the Alliance has come back before, the question of whether or not they can do it again is a heavy one that weighs on the minds of all. It has never been so hard to be Alliance, it has never been this dark.

Or so popular opinion states.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

5 awesome ways World of Warcraft has improved since day one

I've been known to wax poetic about the good old days of vanilla World of Warcraft from time to time. I have lots of crazy good memories about the early days of the game -- exploring the world, playing through quests that are now long gone, raiding old content when it was current, that sort of thing. And I've followed the story of Warcraft along the way, delighting the various ways its changed and shifted over the years. It's no secret that I loved the early days of WoW -- heck, I've been playing this game for seven years now. Something's kept me sticking around, right?

Every now and again, I'll have a conversation with a friend that starts with said friend asking, "Hey, Anne! You like vanilla WoW. If they ever released a server that was just vanilla WoW with nothing else on it, would you play it?" And then there's a moment where I think about that. I think about the first day I was presented with the character selection screen, going over my choices with wide-eyed delight. I think about the night elf druid I made, and the months spent exploring this shiny new world. I think of my Forsaken priest and the hours of fun I had raiding with 39 other people.

And then I say to my friend, "No. Oh, no no no. Heck no."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Know Your Lore, TFH edition: Sargeras was right

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The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Imagine if you will a perfectly nice little wooded area, teeming with wildlife. Here, there's a bird's nest; there, a small group of deer peacefully grazing on the grass. Over the hill lives a small pack of coyotes that will eventually hunt the deer, but it helps keep the deer population down. Circle of life and all that. Some years, the wildlife flourishes; other years, water is scarce and so is food. Those are the lean times, but somehow the little wooded area continues to thrive on its own, waxing and waning its way through the years.

Now imagine that little wooded grove gets targeted for development. All woodland creatures are systematically driven out of the area or killed. The lovely trees are ripped from the ground one by one. The grass is torn up, dirt and earth moved and leveled out. And one by one, houses pop up where the wooded area used to be. Clean and tidy paved roads, white picket fences all in a row, pretty if bland houses plunked into symmetric lots carefully designed for the maximum use of space. Those who live in the houses may occasionally see a deer out the window, a remnant of the wood that no longer exists.

Which is better?

Today's Know Your Lore is a Tinfoil Hat edition, meaning the following is a look into what has gone before with pure speculation on how it happened and what is to come as a result. These speculations are merely theories and shouldn't be taken as fact or official lore. But they're interesting!

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

The Dangers of Datamining: A cautionary tale of a not-so-evil Magister

Some time last month, I was chatting with a friend about various story bits in WoW when we wandered onto the subject of the blood elves and what they're up to in the story. I pointed out the short story In the Shadow of the Sun for more recent sin'dorei lore, adding that of course the story took place prior to Wrath in the time line, so it really wasn't the most up-to-date bit of lore, although it was a wonderful read. My friend asked if I thought we'd see anything with the blood elves in Mists, and I replied that I didn't think so, but then we didn't really know that much about storylines in Pandaria yet.

"Well, yeah," they replied. "But what about Rommath? I mean, he's part of the Twilight Cult and all." I paused for a moment, confused, and then realized what they were referring to. "That was a set of datamined voice files that never made it to game," I clarified. "Well yeah, but he's evil," they insisted. "No, he's not -- as far as the game and the lore is concerned, that conversation never happened, and Rommath is still the same old Rommath. A little cranky and snooty, but definitely not evil. Until proven otherwise." They pondered this, and the conversation moved on from there.

I've had this conversation again and again -- in game, on Twitter. And this, my friends, is just one example of the many dangers of datamining.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

What signals the end of an expansion?

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Wrath of the Lich King ended on kind of a sour note for me, largely because I didn't get to participate in my guild's one and only 25-man heroic Lich King kill before Cataclysm launched. Part of the rankle was for personal reasons, but part of it was also that for me, that kill would have ended the expansion. Never mind that we didn't kill Halion on heroic -- that was filler content, as far as I was concerned. Wrath of the Lich King was all about the Lich King and seeing him die.

But really, it goes back farther than that. In vanilla, I had no idea what an expansion really was; my MMOG experience was limited to WoW, for the most part, with a brief dabble in City of Heroes. So terms like expansions didn't make any sense to me until a friend explained what it meant: a new game was coming, building off the game I was already playing. No, I didn't have to purchase it if I didn't want to, but I wouldn't be able to see any of the new stuff if I didn't. And then my friend showed me just a sampling of all the cool stuff to be seen in The Burning Crusade. A beta invite later, and I was thoroughly hooked.

But there wasn't an end to vanilla for me. One day, I was playing vanilla WoW; the next, I was tromping through the Dark Portal and headed to Outland.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Raiding

Know Your Lore: Velen, the Prophet

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The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

"I failed long ago to turn my brothers from their course. And creation has paid the price."

How must it feel to be ageless? To watch as millennia tick by, each century the span of a breath and gone in an instant? To the draenei, the lives of humans must seem incredibly short-lived. To the Prophet Velen, who is at least 25,000 years old, we must seem like motes of dust, winking in and out of existence so quickly that we can scarcely be recognized as entities before we cease to exist. Velen has led the draenei through terror and triumph, from world to world, always gently spreading the benevolent message of the Light to any who wish to hear.

Yet for a being of such grace, purity and peace, Velen is also a creature of unfathomable sorrow. For Velen has been granted the gift of Sight, and with the gift he can see the infinite paths of futures that may not be, of worlds born and fallen in the blink of an eye. And despite that gift, Velen cannot prevent what is yet to pass. He cannot prevent that which has gone before, and will come again. And he could not prevent the path his friends chose, nor could he persuade them their new ally was in fact a monster so horrific that his hellish grasp would wreak havoc on immeasurable worlds.

For one that treasures life in the way only the Light can teach, it is a heavy burden to bear.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Breakfast Topic: Do you like a little sci-fi in your fantasy?

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There were things about Burning Crusade that I really, really loved. Shattered planets in the sky, and ethereals running around ... it was not the same old fantasy thing. But as we talked to the community, certainly a lot of folks around the office were just like "I don't know man, I just wanna have gnolls and kobolds and run around in a pretty forest -- that's what fantasy is to me." -- Chris Metzen, BlizzCon 2011 Lore and Story Q&A
I have read a metric ton of books in my lifetime -- I've always been a reader. When I was in elementary school, I started out with the classics, books that were on various best of all time lists. When I got to middle school, that's when I really started to home in on sci-fi and fantasy books. There was always something incredibly intriguing about science fiction, and fantasy was just a fantastic romp into things that by all rights simply don't exist and never will.

But my favorite books were the ones that managed to seamlessly blend that fantasy feel with the futuristic feel of science fiction. It's not easy to take those two concepts and mesh them together, but I always loved finding an author who could pull it off. When Blizzard announced The Burning Crusade, I had no idea really what an expansion was -- when I learned it was a continuation of the story, I was delighted. When I discovered it was going to take place on another planet, I was intrigued. And the more I heard about The Burning Crusade, the more excited I was, because it seemed like this fantasy-grounded Warcraft universe I'd so fallen in love with was making that jump to the mesh of sci-fi and fantasy that I adore.

The Burning Crusade still ranks as my favorite expansion largely for that reason. I loved the gorgeously alien world and bizarre technology and how it clicked in with what Warcraft was all about. So I was a little disappointed at Chris Metzen's statement during the Lore and Story Q&A at BlizzCon last year, and I wondered just how many people have a defined version of what fantasy is? What science fiction is? How many love seeing the two collide like I do?

So I'm throwing the question out to you guys: Do you like a little sci-fi in your fantasy? Does the thought of axe-wielding barbarians fighting epic battles in space appeal? Or do you prefer your fantasy and science fiction separate, your Warcraft alien-free?

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm has destroyed Azeroth as we know it; nothing is the same! In WoW Insider's Guide to Cataclysm, you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion, from leveling up a new goblin or worgen to breaking news and strategies on endgame play.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

What makes a "good" reputation grind?

Reputation is one of those double-edged swords in World of Warcraft. Speaking as someone who played classic WoW, I find it sometimes odd to see the amount of focus put on gaining reputation with various factions. This is largely because I remember the days when grinding out reputation really didn't get you anything at all in the long run. It wasn't until later in the game that Blizzard introduced the concept of gaining reputation with other races for mounts, and the only way to get that reputation was to turn in ridiculous amounts of cloth.

Factions like the Hydraxian Waterlords, the Zandalar, and the Argent Dawn all had their reputations firmly locked hand-in-hand with raiding. But reputations like the Shen'dralar, the Bloodsail ... they had no real purpose at all. When The Burning Crusade was introduced, the idea of factions was reworked. Suddenly you really wanted to gain reputation, because doing so meant you could unlock heroic dungeons or get neat incentives like armor, pets, and tabards.

Reputation design has changed drastically since then. Where once you got a tabard as a reward, now you slap one on and grind dungeons to earn reputation as quickly as you can. Different factions have different rewards, and rewards like shoulder and helm enchants are absolutely required if you want to perform optimally. So ... what was the best of the best?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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