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BlizzCon 2009: Wow.com interviews Richard Knaak

On the second day of BlizzCon 2009, I got the chance to sit down with Richard Knaak, best selling author of countless novels, including many in the Warcraft universe, such as the War of the Ancients Trilogy, Day of the Dragon, and Night of Dragon. His upcoming projects include the Stormrage novel, as well as the Dragons of Outland manga trilogy. We talked about all this and more, and you can read our conversation below.

So of course, the big thing on everyone's mind is the new Stormrage book. How's it coming along? Is it near completion?


It's near completion, we're in the editing process, getting the OKs from Blizzard. You can find an excerpt in the latest volume of the Legends Manga, along with a story I wrote, sort of a Prologue that ties in with the book.

Can you give us a sneak preview of what to expect lore-wise?

You know Blizzard likes to keep these secret, so I am going to be very limited in what I can talk about. It is Malfurion. It is about the Nightmare. And it is very current. That's the three biggest things I can say about it right off the bat. You'll see characters you know from the game and obviously from other books, and places you know from the game, and it's very current, very relevant. Of course, that's about all I can say. You know Blizzard, they love their secrets!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, WoW Social Conventions, News items, Lore, RP, NPCs, Interviews, BlizzCon

Blizzard maps out BlizzCon


There she is, the BlizzCon map for 2009. As you can see, there's an extra hall than last year (and two more halls than a few years ago) -- Blizzard has rented out the flnal hall of the convention center, so there are four whole halls filled with Blizzard activity. This also means that they don't have to go into the conference rooms on the second floor -- the panels will be held either on the mainstage or in the new panel discussion stage area. We're not sure where Ozzy will be held; in the past, concerts have been over in the arena attached to the convention center, but with one big room dedicated to a main stage, Blizzard may just set things up in there this year.

Everything else is pretty expected -- there'll be a Retro Arcade and an Art Gallery again, and statues of Kerrigan, Illidan, and the Orc and Wolf model to check out. One interesting note is that there are playable areas for both Diablo III and Starcraft II (we'll probably see the singleplayer mode of that game playable for the first time) as well as World of Warcraft, so if a new expansion is announced, we might get to see some of it playable already. And of course, all of Blizzard's partners will be in attendance as well. Excited yet?
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's some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, BlizzCon

"Zero lore. Maximum fun." with Onxyia back in town

When the news first broke yesterday about Onyxia returning to her status as a raid boss, I, probably like many of you, went into lore-generation overdrive. She's dead in the comic (Varian Wrynn decided her head didn't so much belong with her body any more), so how was she going to be a raid boss? I stabbed at ideas: she's in the Caverns of Time! Arthas could resurrect her as a Frostwyrm of some kind!

Fortunately, cooler lore-heads (Ziebart and Sacco) prevailed: they pointed out to me this comment by Maxim in the original post: "Zero lore. Maximum fun. HOORAY!" That perfectly sums up why Blizzard is doing this: there's no lore reason or explanation behind it, it's just a straight up fun thing for us to do to celebrate the five-year anniversary. Bornakk makes it official: Ony is still dead, and she's not coming back. This is a one-time thing on the 5th anniversary.

While, unfortunately, that may destroy some dreams about seeing similar old-world content come back to life (at least until the 10th anniversary, when we'll probably see Molten Core updated for the level 100 15-man raiding scheme -- drool), it means that there's no thinking involved about why Onyxia's back. She's back, we get to raid the original raid and pick up some great loot while doing it. Zero lore. Maximum fun.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Lore, NPCs

Why Hit is a "sexy stat"

This post on Gray Matter has some pretty insightful thoughts about the much-maligned Hit stat. We've posted quite a few times about Hit with the various classes, and yet it's still fairly hard to get a handle on -- most people know their class has a "hit cap" that they have to reach to keep any of their swings or shots from missing, but other than that, they haven't really tangled with the stat much the way they might have some of the more core stats for their class. But Grey Matter argues that "Hit is sexy" -- despite the fact that, unlike other stats, Hit is required just to make your class do the right thing (rather than doing it better), Graylo still likes the idea, and actually likes the balance that Hit requires. No matter what ilvl your gear, you still need a certain amount of Hit on it, and the balancing job of keeping your hit cap met versus providing other stats on your gear is what Gray seems to like about Hit. While other stats just go up and up, Hit is the great limiter -- having more of it frees up space on other gear for more pressing stats, but you still have to balance out the pieces you wear to try and meet the cap.

To that extent, I agree. I do think that Hit is a relatively arbitrary stat (we know what it means in real life to be Stronger or have more Intelligence, but Hit is really just designed to keep game levels in line), but on the other hand, Gray's right -- because you need a certain amount of hit in your gear, it does become an interesting balancing game of "do I need this more powerful piece of gear, or this weaker piece of gear with some extra Hit on it?" It does a nice job of mixing things up as an endgame-balancing mechanic.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Raiding, Classes, Buffs

WoW Insider Show today at 1pm Eastern

Our podcast is kicking off the weekend today at a special time -- I'm heading off to Gen Con this weekend, so we're recording the show live this afternoon at 1pm Eastern. Along for the ride will be Lesley Smith and The T, and we might even have another special guest or two in the mix -- tune in and find out. We'll be chatting about all of the biggest news of the past week in Warcraft, including the leaks about the new expansion, Cataclysm, Icecrown and how big it'll be, what to expect at BlizzCon next week, and the return of a certain black dragon.

Plus, we'll answer your emails, so feel free to send anything you'd like us to talk about to theshow@wow.com, and you might even hear it on today's show. It all kicks off this afternoon at August 13, 2009 1:00 PM EDT over on our Ustream page, or, as always, you can find the embedded stream after the break below. See you there!

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Filed under: Podcasting, Fan stuff, Humor, WoW Insider Show, Cataclysm

The lost art of crowd control

The emblems changes are driving traffic back to the Heroics, and I love it -- 5-mans are my favorite thing to do in the game, and there's nothing more fun to me than sitting down with a group and trouncing a Heroic, reeling in all of the gold and loot we can carry. But there's something missing, still, even in these glory days of achievements and Stone Keeper's Shards and Emblems of Conquest. Yes, it's crowd control. Groups are still gung-ho on AoEing everything in their way, and Blizzard hasn't shown any indication, even in the design of the new instances, that crowd control is anything they want to keep around. I can't remember the last time I trapped something in a group on my Hunter, and I'm sure that the last time I did, some Death Knight broke it right open, Death Grip-ped it back into the group, and then AoE'd it down to nothing.

Bornakk actually replies in the thread that we're just being nostalgic for nostalgia's sake, and that even when CC was required, people whined that they needed to have certain classes in their groups. But what class doesn't have CC these days? Even Shamans got their CC, just as it wasn't actually needed any more. Crowd control added some semi-serious strategy even to trash fights in instances, and while we originally heard that it would come back at some point, Blizzard certainly seems to be done with it.

But we can be patient. The new instances in 3.2 are light to completely empty on trash, so maybe they're waiting for Icecrown to really put our CC skills and coordination to the test. I play a Hunter at endgame currently, so I might be biased, but I do love 5-mans, and I do miss the extra coordination and teamwork that a big CC-required pull provided. Hopefully they can find a way to mix that back in without requiring certain specs or classes to be along for the ride.

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding

WoW Insider Show Episode 102: Stupid big-tongues

We had a terrific time (as always) on the live podcast last Saturday afternoon, as Zach Yonzon, Mike "Belfaire" Sacco, and Turpster and I sat down to talk about the most popular stories in the World of Warcraft. Of course patch 3.2 was at the forefront of our minds, and we chatted about what each of us was most interested in, from the new BG to the 5-man Trial instance. And we got a little bit of discussion in about the various classes and roles they play in instances.

Of course we answered your emails as well -- we talked with Michael Sacco about the "Additional instances can't be launched" issue that's going around (that I got hit with for the first time yesterday, actually), and a reader emailed us about BRK's gun -- so awesome to see our friend get recognized, and deservedly so. It was an excellent show, in my humble opinion, and a great way to squeeze a week's worth of WoW news into just one hour.

This week, the podcast will be at a special time -- we'll be going live on Thursday at 1pm Eastern. That's a little earlier than we usually do it, but it should give our friends overseas a chance to tune in when they might not have been able to before (and if you can't make it live, don't worry, the recording will be in iTunes soon after). See you then!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes.
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[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.

Listen here on the page:

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasts, Podcasting, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Instances, Humor, Classes, NPCs, WoW Insider Show

Heirlooms for every slot

I've been pushing forward on my Paladin lately, and so I've entered the wacky world of Heirlooms. I have already picked up the leather Heirloom shoulders (thinking that even though the Pally wears plate, if I ever want to level a Druid or Rogue, I'll have them), and I'm well on my way to grabbing the new Heirloom chestpiece as well -- 20% bonus XP, combined with a healthy amount of rested XP, should make the leveling curve as easy as it gets (RaF is nice too, I guess, but I'd rather not pay for a second account). So I'm in Heirlooms up to my neck (at least until they give us helms), and I was intrigued by this question over on the Rawrcast forums: do you think Blizzard will eventually provide Heirloom items for every slot?

20% is already a significant bonus to killing and questing XP, and rested technically provides a 50% bonus. But with ten Heirlooms in 10 slots (we'll leave out weapons, since those don't have the 10% XP bonus, as well as shirts and tabards, and rings and trinkets for now), you're looking at a 100% XP bonus even without Rest. The current average 80 probably spent about 14 days leveling up, so with an extra 100% bonus, you're looking at seven days /played, or very close to the current record. At that point, Blizzard might as well let us grant levels to each other.

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Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Leveling

WoW Insider Show Episode 101: Upward and onward

There was really just one topic on the show last Saturday, and it was patch 3.2. We finally went down all of the new features and class changes we're expecting in the patch, and laid out (with the help of some of our chat channel folks) who was buffed, who was nerfed, and which classes are, in Turpster's estimation, "rubbish anyway." Alex Ziebart and Lesley Smith helped us decode some of the more complicated changes, and of course we answered your emails, including how the fishing daily can make you 4k gold, whether our characters are really getting stronger or not, and Blizzard's problems with cosmetic items and armor dyes.

The show is available at any of the links below (or for listening right here on this page). If you haven't yet subscribed to the show in iTunes (where you can listen to it for free on your iPod or iPhone), please do. And while you're there, feel free to leave us a rating or a review -- the more we can get, the better. Thanks for listening as always, and we'll see you next week.

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to the WoW Insider Show directly in iTunes.
[RSS] Add the WoW Insider Show to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.

Listen here on the page:

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Podcasts, Podcasting, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Raiding, Bosses, WoW Insider Show

WoW Insider Show live today at 3:30pm Eastern


Yes indeed, you might have thought that we'd call it quits after the 100th show spectacular. But no such luck -- we're back for another 100 (200? 300?) shows, starting with this one today. Alex Ziebart and Lesley Smith will be on board with Turpster and I, and the words on everyone's lips are "patch 3.2," as we're expecting the new patch any minute now. We'll look down the notes and remind you of all the important stuff to look for when the game gets updated, including the major class changes that we haven't covered yet.

And we'll talk about the most popular posts of the past week, including who benefits from PuGs, whether or not there are bad talents, and just how incredibly easy it is to level up nowadays. It all starts up at August 1, 2009 3:30 PM EDT over on our Ustream page, or, as always, you can find the embedded stream below. We'll see you this afternoon.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Instances, Humor, Raiding, Bosses, WoW Insider Show

Why loot drama happens (and how to prevent it)

I like this post over at I am a Paladin -- it's a pretty insightful look at why drama is so easy to come by in bigger guilds. Blizzard has done almost everything they can to divide loot fairly (and they're still working on it, with the addition of more token systems), and there are certainly plenty of systems out there to try and keep things as fair as possible. Still, as long as there are only a few rewards to split among 25 people in a raid, there will always be loot drama -- as IaaP says, when people aren't rewarded for their hard work (or at least they perceive that), then frustrations start to set in. And gone unchecked, that can lead to jealousy or resentment, which leads to anger, and that all leads to the kind of spectacular guild breakups you can read about in Guildwatch.

So how can you avoid all that?

If the main reason people start causing drama is that they don't feel rewarded, then you've got to find a way to reward them. That might mean going with a more fair loot system (I've been in a few guilds that have switched to DKP at the first hint of drama), it might mean changing up the way you run things (by switching groups around or switching roles in a raid), or it might mean stepping back down into an easier raid to better gear up some of your members.

As long as Blizzard requires more members than loot in a raid, there will always be imbalances, but hopefully most drama issues can be avoided if everyone realizes that though any given piece of loot might get passed out unfairly, there'll always be enough to go around.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Guilds, Instances, Raiding

Speculating on a new resource system for Hunters

As we said on the podcast this weekend, one of the most interesting things to come out of the Hunter Q&A last week was that vague about "long-term plans" to "[remove] the need for hunters to rely on a different resource system then mana." That one kind of came out of nowhere, and the answer was even more vague: basically, they promised to talk about it at BlizzCon. Of course, that's what our attracted our attention: is Blizzard planning on getting Hunters off of their mana system completely?

That would be quite a change -- since the beginning of the game, Hunters have relied on mana as their "resource" -- Warriors have Rage and Rogues have Energy, but Hunters somehow got looped in with the other DPSers as mana users. That doesn't make much sense -- not only does it depend on Intelligence (a stat which Hunters don't really have a reason to go after anyway), but it's lead to the problem of keeping Hunters powered up. Hunters are almost continually out of mana, and Blizzard has made some wacky mechanic tweaks (with both AotV and Replenishment) to try and keep them up and running.

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Filed under: Hunter, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Classes, BlizzCon

WoW.com on TNB and elsewhere

If you're around this evening and want to listen in to some extra podcast discussion, head on over to the Twisted Nether Blogcast page around 9:30 pm PST this evening -- our friends Fimlys and Nibuca of TNB have asked me to join them on their podcast, and it's sure to be a good time. We'll be chatting live with listeners, too, so if you've ever had questions about how we do things on the site or haven't been able to listen in to our own podcast, now's your chance.

And speaking of the Twisted Nether Blogcast, they're also holding their own meetup at BlizzCon, just a few weeks away. Ours is on Thursday, but if you're around on Friday night, you'll be able to stop on by the Anabella again, and say hi to lots of great folks from the WoW community. Both Turpster and I will be there for sure, and there'll probably be at least a few other WoW.com staff members in attendance as well, so it should be a really fun night.

And even that's not all -- our very own Turpster is also set to make an appearance on Rawrcast's live BlizzCon show on Saturday night of that weekend, where he'll likely be talking about everything we've seen at the convention, as well as helping out with some quality giveaways. Lots of great events and shows are being put on by the community around BlizzCon, and of course we're really happy to be a part of them.

Filed under: Podcasting, Fan stuff, WoW Insider Business, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, BlizzCon

Breakfast Topic: The rest of the movie's crew

Well Sam Raimi is the Warcraft movie's director, and yet with all of the epic action we expect from it, he can't do the job alone. We asked a while back about who you would cast in the movie, but what do you think about the other crew members? Somebody's got to run the cameras and the lights, and make the music and do the CGI, right?

The Lord of the Rings is probably the closest relative to an ideal Warcraft movie, I'd think, and Andrew Lesnie worked closely with Peter Jackson to shoot all of those movies. Bruno Delbonnel is another choice -- he not only shot Amelie and the latest Harry Potter, but he's been Oscar nominated a number of times. Wally Pfeister has worked closely with Legendary Pictures (who are producing the movie) and Christopher Nolan, shooting both of the latest Batman movies and The Prestige as well.

As for music, you'd think that there'd be plenty of Warcraft music already, but Hans Zimmer or Howard Shore might be two ideas for composers. After that, I don't know -- who would do costumes? Effects? It'd be great to have Weta or ILM working on creatures for the movie, but then again, Blizzard's CG team really should have a part in it. Lots of potential all around: if you were hiring the crew, who would you choose?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics

The (lack of) reality in the Caverns of Time

I've always considered the Caverns of Time to be like the theme park of Azeroth -- as we've discussed before, there aren't really any reasons to go to some of those instances in the first place, and the whole thing seems just so ludicrous. If we wipe, or we don't go in there, and Thrall isn't able to escape Durnholde or Arthas isn't able to murder Stratholme or any of the other premises they have set up, then wouldn't the world as we know it change? It seems like fan service -- Blizzard wants us to visit these great parts of lore, and it just seems to me like they've cooked up a weak story around getting us there.

Which is why I was surprised to read this post over on Mystic Chicanery. They argue that the Caverns of Time are actually the most "real" of all the instances in the game. If we go into Utgarde Pinnacle, for example, and murder King Ymiron, there's no reason why he should be in there again the next time we head in. And yet he is -- we can go in and murder him time and time again, doing the same thing, and getting loot every single time. But in CoT, there's a logical explanation for why the instances are always the same: to the people we're encountering in the instances, it's the first time we've met them. From the outside world, the CoT instances may seem strange (the first time I was in Durnholde, we wiped with Thrall, and I jokingly checked with my guild to see if Thrall was still standing in Orgrimmar, alive and well -- he was), but inside the continuity of those instances, they work.

Of course, we do still get different loot from it every time, as the MC post notices. But it is quite a thought: even though the Caverns of Time instances are the ones in the game that seem to least need us messing around in there, they also might just be the most logical.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Lore, Bosses

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