Episode 2 of the fifth season of The Guild, Felicia Day's webseries about an unlikely bunch of MMO gamers and their wacky hijinks in and out of game, released this week.
The Knights of Good have finally made it to the gaming convention but, as usual, things don't go very well for them. Everyone has to share the same room at the hotel (been there), with Zaboo sleeping under a coffee table (done that). Bladezz's shower spying and Vork's (amazing as usual) food theft are high moments. I am excited for more convention antics in the coming weeks.
The Guild has been hitting its stride in the past few seasons, and it remains a quality watch. Check out this week's episode, with new episodes hitting Xbox Live on Tuesdays and MSN video on Thursdays.
If you are one of the many people who were unable to get tickets to BlizzCon or just couldn't afford to go, the World of Warcraft Official Magazine is giving away two tickets, airfare and a hotel stay for the event. Andy Salisbury, an editor at the magazine, had this to say about the contest:
I know as well as anyone that getting a ticket to BlizzCon is difficult. Having sat in the ticket queue with six browsers open across two computers I understand that they can go fast, and despite your best efforts you'll be left peeking in through the Anaheim Convention Center's windows.
However, today those of us with the World of Warcraft Official Magazine are announcing a contest which will allow you to get your very own pair of BlizzCon tickets (with your room and airfare paid for) on us. In order to find out more, either crank up your World of Warcraft launcher, or head on over to our website at www.worldofwarcraftthemagazine.com.
No purchase is necessary to enter, but there are rules and restrictions just like with any contest. Good luck!
This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.
I don't know about you, but my husband and I can never agree on what it means to "play" WoW. I'm a pretty casual player, but I log in most days to take care of my regular tasks and check out what's going on in the game world. Most weekends, I have enough time to do a couple of dungeon runs or quests, but my normal weekday visit is usually just long enough to do a couple of dailies and update my auctions. However, my non-player husband doesn't seem to understand that just because I'm logged into WoW, I'm not actually playing the game. Here's a typical evening conversation:
Husband: "Are you playing WoW?" Me: "No, just resetting auctions." Husband: "Well, isn't that part of the game?" Me: "Sure, but I'm not playing right now." Husband: "OK, well, you know that stuff isn't real, right? You're PLAYING a GAME." Me: Sigh ...
I just don't feel like I'm playing unless I'm actively questing, dashing around the world killing hapless animals or barging through a dungeon with a couple fellow adventurers. Maybe it's the adrenaline, maybe it's my need for achievement, or maybe it's my innate competitiveness, but grinding, auctioning and banking just don't do it for me. I need to be in the thick of it to feel like I'm actually playing. What is "playing" to you? Have you ever wanted to write for WoW.com? Your chance may be right around the corner. Watch for our next call for submissions, and be sure to sign up for Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com. The next byline you see here may be yours!
This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.
BlizzCon: The final frontier ... No wait, that's not right. BlizzCon is an epic journey, though -- at least it was for me last year, and I am sincerely hoping to make the pilgrimage to Anaheim again this October. "But that's a lot of work just to go for two days!" I hear all the time. You're right. It is. It's also quite costly if you're not from California. I can also say that by the end of Day Two, you'll be drop-dead tired, cranky and your feet will hurt.
My husband and I trekked out to California from Florida for BlizzCon 2009. We were a little leery about it, but I can honestly say that it was one of the best vacations of my life. We have been raiding with the same guild since right after we were married in April of 2008, and there's a very solid core of people who have always been there. Turned out, some of them were going to BlizzCon. We figured it would be a great way to tie that voice over Ventrilo to a face. We were able to hang out for two straight days with people we raid with several nights a week -- experiencing Cataclysm's launch together, doing the fishing daily and many other fun things.
You stalked the Blizzard store page like a pro, refreshing constantly starting several minutes before the ticket sales opening, and you actually snagged the grand prize -- you nabbed a ticket to BlizzCon 2010! Now comes the hard part: justifying the time off school or work plus travel, hotel and expenses. What makes a fan event like BlizzCon worth all that time and money? What are you most looking forward to? What are you hoping to see or learn? Are there people you hope to meet there?
We're looking for an article that explains what makes a con like BlizzCon worth its weight in purples. Is this event strictly for Blizzard fanbois? What type of player will get the most out of attending? Have you attended a past BlizzCon -- and what was your experience then? Your article should clearly explain why a trip to BlizzCon is worthwhile. We're not looking for unbridled cheerleading but rather for clear, rational reasons why BlizzCon is worth the time, money and effort for a dedicated World of Warcraft player. We'll only be accepting the very best article.
Submissions should be between 500 and 1,000 words. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or from creative commons. We will not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your real name and email.
Ready to submit? Read up about our guest post program, then sign up for Seed and submit your article here. (You can't see the article page unless you have a Seed account.) Unfortunately, we are currently only able to take submissions from individuals living in the United States; we hope to be able to accept international submissions in the future. We'll accept submissions for this assignment until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thurs., June 10. Good luck and good writing!
Just moments ago, we received an email from a reader notifying us that BlizzCon has been scheduled for October 22nd and 23rd at the Anaheim Convention Center. That's a Friday and a Saturday, which are historically the days of the week BlizzCon has run. As you can see above, the convention is indeed on the convention center's events calendar. We have confirmed with the Anaheim Convention Center that this booking is legit and is "99.9% confirmed," but I wouldn't run and arrange any travel plans just yet considering Las Vegas Convention Center confirmed that booking, too.
We're reaching out to Blizzard for comment, and we'll let you know as soon as we hear anything else.
Update: The listing has been removed from the convention center's events calendar, but it's preserved in the screenshot above. We will continue to keep an eye on the situation and will make updates as necessary.
Update 2: Blizzard responded to our inquiry about the Anaheim Convention Center listing with this: "Blizzard Entertainment has not announced any details about the next BlizzCon. We recommend that players refrain from making any BlizzCon-related travel plans at this time."
I touched on Blizzard's presence at IgroMir 2009, sort of the Russian E3, a bit previously, specifically about J. Allen Brack's panel regarding guild progression and leveling in Cataclysm. Of course, I had to Google-translate the panel from Russian (nyet, I do not know Russian, comrades), and not everything Blizzard-related from the whole convention was in the recaps I read.
Thankfully, Blizzard themselves have released their own recaps of the Cataclysm panel. In his talk, Brack discussed rated battlegrounds, Tol Barad (briefly), and guild progression. It turns out that I was pretty thorough in the guild leveling post, but here's the stuff I didn't cover:
Rated Battlegrounds will be an alternative way to gain Arena points for those who prefer large-scale PVP.
Your personal rating gain for a win will vary depending on the specific Battleground.
There'll be featured Battlegrounds each week with bonus rating gain for wins.
You will not lose points or rating for a Battleground loss.
Arena points can be used to purchase pets, mounts, vanity items, and perhaps best of all, the old honor system PVP titles like Grand Marshal.
Tol Barad will provide bonus daily quests and instances for the faction that wins the battle for the zone, somewhat like, as Brack put it, a cross between the Isle of Quel'Danas and Lake Wintergrasp.
Memories of BlizzCon have started to fade over the last month, but today another reminder of the event pops up. If you watched it via DirectTV you should shortly be receiving an email letting you know that soon you too can have a Murloc Marine shadowing your character's every step. The email comes with a code and a URL to visit in order to redeem the little guy. Be careful of any phishing scams, the correct URL is http://www.blizzcon.com/pet. You must also have a Battle.net account in order to receive him.
Once you have entered you code and gone through the simple redemption process the next time you log on you will have an in-game mail from Master Handler Sylvester. This will contain your special delivery of a Heavy Murloc Egg and a thank you.
Grunty the Murloc Marine, we salute you. When it comes to murlocs, you are the best of the best of the best. Sir! With Honors.
Oh, Dragon*Con, I missed you before I even left. Though I'm not entirely certain if you can really enjoy the MMO track's annual World of Warcraft party -- which included Gnome punting and Horde vs. Alliance dodgeball -- vicariously, I tried to catch the experience in photographic form nevertheless. (Note: if you want to really experience the meaning of the "war" in Warcraft, you need to do so in a room filled with hundreds of WoW fans cheering for their faction of choice.) Of course, Dragon*Con is more than parties (after all, some of the parties had Tesla coils), there was some great MMO programming and we had a chance to talk addons with the infamous ckknight. With twelve long months to wait until Dragon*Con 2010, we'll all have to live on memories until then. So, until 2010, I leave you with photo galleries.
Reader Encifer sent us a link to this excellent fan-directed documentary short about BlizzCon. Just a few days ago, I kind of panned the LA Times for treating BlizzCon as such an alien thing, but this video kind of takes a different look at the same event -- instead of coming at it from an outsider perspective and treating it as if it's something 20,000 crazy people do over a weekend, it's much more about how exciting it is to be a part of an event this big. I don't know, maybe the difference is just something I see, but this fan documentary, I think, does a really great job of showing just why BlizzCon is so great, while the LA Times piece, in my view, kind of dismissed its subjects even as it was portraying them.
At any rate, Chris Nguyen did a terrific job on this -- he says that he created the short film to prepare for a few doc film classes he's going to be taking, as well as challenge his doc-making skills, and it seems like he did just that. He interviewed two of his former guildies, as well as the winner of this year's costume contest, as you can see in the video. And he says the whole thing was shot over the two days at BlizzCon and then took about eight more days to edit. Definitely a fun little film to watch, and if you've never been to BlizzCon before, it'll give you a nice look at just what it's like to show up in a hall with thousands of people who play the same games that you do every day.
The LA Times has a story up that's about a month late -- it tells the story of a guild meeting up at BlizzCon last month (they were actually at the Lost Bar, a place we at WoW.com know well from past meetups) and doing everything players do at BlizzCon: meet each other face to face, talk Warcraft, and enjoy everything Blizzard has set up on the convention floor. Truth be told, the experience sounds pretty tame to us -- BlizzCon is BlizzCon, it's a ton of fun, but it's not that alien of an experience to go with your ingame friends to a gaming convention.
Then again, maybe we're just biased. Maybe having guildies as friends is really a fascinating thing to someone who's never done it before, and maybe the spectacle of BlizzCon really is so interesting that you can just report it in the paper. They do chat with Morgan Webb (why?) and they get one line from Blizzard COO Paul Sams, but otherwise, it's just basically the story of the Dread Pirates and their trip to BlizzCon (complete with veiled accusations of misogyny and a dictatorial guildleader -- thanks, LA Times!). To folks who don't play World of Warcraft, it might be interesting, but for most players, especially those who've been to BlizzCon already, it's mostly business as usual.
Intrepid reporter and all-around cool guyKevin Kelly over at Joystiq scored an interview with J. Allen Brack during the festivities at BlizzCon 2009. Just in case you're not aware, J. Allen Brack is the lead producer for our beloved World of Warcraft, having joined the team back in 2005. Kevin's a pretty smart cookie, and managed to get some great insight into the game from Brack. The interview's worth a full read, but there's a lot of insight that's worth spending some time talking about.
It's not any surprise that Brack told Kevin that there's no end in sight for WoW, and that he expects the game to survive at least another 10 years. But Brack immediately followed up by saying that Blizzard has changed the way they view the franchise novels recently. Back in the day, it seems, they just let authors go wild. "Go off and create a kind of story in the world," Brack told Kevin. Now, however, it seems like the creative team is spending more time trying to make sure the novels reflect what they plan in the game, as well as vice versa.
Brack confirmed that Blizzard still keeps an eye on what other games are doing, and will bring that into the World of Warcraft by giving it their own take. That comment reminded me of the discussion about upcoming Fishing changes in Cataclysm, and how the new fishing system was inspired by Animal Crossing.
Robin Torres writes WoW, Casually for the player with limited playtime. Of course, you people with lots of playtime can read this too, but you may get annoyed by the fact that we are unashamed, even proud, of the fact that beating WoW isn't our highest priority. Take solace in the fact that your gear is better than ours, but if that doesn't work, remember that we outnumber you. Not that that's a threat, after all, we don't have time to do anything about it. But if WoW were a democracy, we'd win.
Usually, geeky conventions (sci fi, comic book, gaming, whatever) are considered for hardcore fans only and I guess that's pretty accurate. But while the fans at BlizzCon were certainly hardcore, their playstyles ranged everywhere from casual to leet. You don't have to raid every night to be silly about WoW and excited about the future of Azeroth.
Michael Gray mentioned it in his writeup of the Premonition live raid at BlizzCon 2009, but this is a moment so epic it's worth mentioning again, and now that there's video online, you can see it: in the final fight, none other than Hogger appeared to take on one of the best guilds in the game. And this was no mere Hogger, nor even the slightly-more-powerful Memory of Hogger seen in the Trial of Champions. No no -- this thing was a foul raid boss from the bowls of Deepholm, a one-shotting maniac that couldn't be controlled even by the best tank. As you can see in the video above, he charges like an angry Rhino -- he was originally pulled by a Hunter who was then one-shot so fast the aggro table cleared and Hogger reset instantly. And after the raid changed their collective pants, they took him on again, and it was all over but the Gnoll snickering.
He was immune to taunt, and he appeared to just pick a target at random, pinging around the raid like Batman beating up bad guys in his recent videogame. He only had about 600 hit points (some say 666, which would make sense), but he was immune to damage, or at least all forms of damage that Premonition tried to throw at him. In the end, even though they'd beaten Thaddius, Anub'Rekhan, and Patchwerkall at once, this level 80 Heroic version of Hogger was the one who wiped them. I saw Ozzy do War Pigs, but this Hogger fight was probably the most epic thing I saw in Anaheim last weekend.