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[1.Local]: An Ensidia-free zone

Reader comments -- ahh, yes, the juicy goodness following a meaty post. [1.Local] ducks past the swinging doors to see what readers have been chatting about in the back room over the past week.

Grab a cushion, flop down and give your weary dogs (puppies?) a rest. The photo above notwithstanding, rest assured that the rest of [1.Local] this week is an Ensidia-free zone. (So is the world-first 25-man Lich King kill, for that matter.) Can you imagine having to hash that out yet again? What a relief that [1.Local] isn't merely a tally sheet for comments from stories with the most views -- or even the stories with the most comments, or the most positive comments, or (as comment trolls hold fast to believing) the most negative comments ... We can follow our own little quirky path through the conversation of the past week.

Let's bite into the rest of this week's goodies just like we all like it: nice and meaty, with a little bit of hot, runny juices from the odd little beasts we discovered just down yonder, off the beaten track...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, [1.Local]

Creative giving away WoW headsets on Facebook

Creative is giving away 20 of the new Soundblaster World of Warcraft Headsets from their Facebook page. Just become a fan and comment on the appropriate thread in order to enter the drawing.

These highly anticipated headsets are only available for preorder at this time, but word has it they are fresh off the assembly line and will be available soon. We gave away a few at the end of last year and also got to play around with the prototypes at BlizzCon.

They've given their first three headsets already. So if you are interested, hurry over and leave a comment about what features you are most looking forward to. The contest continues until March 15, 2010.

Note: Commenting here will not enter you in the contest. You must comment at the provided link for your entry to be valid. Also, please go to Soundblaster's facebook page (click on the above picture) for any rules and restrictions.

Filed under: News items

Blizzard launches Facebook Armory app

Earlier this evening we received a tip (thanks, Taylor) that Blizzard has launched a WoW Armory Facebook application. It promises to publish data about your WoW characters to all your Facebook buddies in real time. I figured I'd give it a spin, not so much because I want to spam my friends with it as because I'm curious what they've come up with.

You can see the results in the gallery below. Here are my brief impressions:

  • It's a bit scary that it asks you to log in with your Battle.net account, but if you look at the URL of the popup window it is in fact from us.battle.net, one of the legitimate domains. Still, I'm not sure it's good training for users for Blizzard to ask us to log in within random popups.
  • The login form does not ask for your authenticator.
  • It doesn't tell you this in the brief description, but you choose up to five characters for the app to report to your followers. It doesn't just indiscriminately report the progress of your latest bank alt.
  • By default, it publishes updates on your characters to your Facebook feed, but that box is easily unchecked (fortunately).
  • It also by default posts to your feed that you've installed the app, which is something I can't forgive a Facebook (or Twitter) developer for. If I really want to tell all my friends I'm using your app, I'll tell them. Don't do it for me. At least this too is an option that can be unchecked.
After choosing your characters and what you want to show, you may be worried that it's not working, but just give it a minute - it doesn't populate immediately. Mine started showing data in about ten minutes.

Overall, assuming they manage to make it work, if you want your Facebook friends to know about your WoW characters, this is the app for you. If not, why are you still reading this post? Anyway, I'm glad to see Blizzard following through on some of the promise the Armory has always showed, even if I don't approve of all their methods. Innovation is always welcome.

Filed under: Blizzard

Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

Blizzard properties now on Facebook

Acknowledging the power of social media and networking, Blizzard has created fan pages for their three big franchises on Facebook. Following the trend of other products and companies who have created Facebook pages in order to deliver updates, promotions, and other fan extras, Blizzard has set up pages for Diablo, Starcraft, and Warcraft. Interested fans need to have a Facebook account in order to "become a fan" of the pages, which Blizzard says they have big plans for.

Through these fan pages, Blizzard will be able to give a constant feed of news updates and media such as video, galleries, or links. Fan pages are also a common conduit for promos and contests as frequently used by Blizzard partners such as Razer and Figureprints. There are also forums for discussion and a "wall" that allows fans to write on for questions, comments, or anything related to the franchises.

Interestingly, and perhaps owing to its massive player base, the Warcraft fan page has already gained three times as many followers as the other two properties in the short time it has been active. This reflects a similar trend on Twitter, another social networking tool that Blizzard has utilized lately, where @Warcraft has over twice the number of followers of either @Diablo or @Starcraft.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, News items

Razer giving away Nagas and WoW steins on Facebook

Peripherals manufacturer Razer has partnered with Taverncraft to give away a Razer Naga MMO gaming mouse and a Charge of the Great Dragonflights World of Warcraft stein to two lucky fans on Facebook. Those interested to participate in the contest must have a Facebook account and become a fan of the Razer page in order to submit an entry. Razer lists three simple steps in order to join:
  • Select your preferred beverage of choice while you game
  • Select your game of choice (presumably World of Warcraft)
  • Take a picture of you owning it up while holding said beverage
Deadline for submission of entries is on November 17, with a limit of one entry per person. The Charge of the Great Dragonflights stein, which debuted at BlizzCon last August, retails for $89.99 and features artwork from artist James Zhang on fine-grain stoneware with a solid pewter lid. The Razer Naga also appeared at BlizzCon and retails for $79.99. WoW.com did a full review of the 17-button mouse aimed specifically at MMOG players back in October.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Contests, Hardware

Razer and FigurePrints hold another Facebook contest


You'd better level out of those mismatched greens quick, because Razer and FigurePrints are doing that whole Facebook thing again. You actually have to be on Facebook to join since you need to write on Razer's wall and all that. I know, bummer, right? But it's a free $129 worth of three dimensional badassery -- assuming you're not wearing clown suit greens or something -- which should be tons better than playing Mafia Wars. No, really, stop sending me requests to whack somebody. That's just mean.

The figures are made through an interesting process (watch the video, it's awesome), and I wish I could get my own characters immortalized in resin powder, too. All you have to do is write on the contest page answering the question, "What World of Warcraft race/class do you play and why should your toon get the FigurePrints treatment?" The winner will be revealed in four days or so, and just like our contests over here at WoW.com, posting more than once will get you into all sorts of trouble with ninjas (or just disqualified, I think). Speaking of contests, we're still looking for some lucky readers to win those World of Warcraft headsets from Creative. So much swag being thrown around these days! Statues? Headsets? What's next, Thrall underoos? Stay tuned.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Contests

Razer and Figureprints hold contest over at Facebook


The social media convergence continues! Razer and FigurePrints have teamed up over at Facebook to hold a contest for World of Warcraft players, giving away a custom WoW FigurePrint to fans who write on their Facebook note. The contest is simple -- FigurePrints simply asks, "What WoW Race/Class do you play and why should your toon get the FigurePrints treatment?"

The winner will be announced in five days (well, four now... time's running down, tick-tock!) and they remind everyone to answer only once. Fans who submit multiple entries will be disqualified. Exactly what role Razer, a company that makes gaming peripherals, has in this contest aside from promoting it on their Facebook page, I have no idea. But if you've been looking to immortalize your character but didn't have the spare $129 lying around, here's your chance! At any rate, if you don't win, you might want to console yourself with a cute, little FigurePet.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Contests

The Guild releases episode 5 of season 3, retail DVD in stores now


Episode 5 of The Guild's third season is out now, and it's a good one -- with Tink out of the picture, the guildies are seeking a new member, and the applications they've got are.. a little unnerving (I do believe they are the folks who submitted video for that contest a while back, and there's even a pigtailed Kim aka @randysmolly from AIE and the new Ladies of Leet podcast in there with a cameo). In the end, it comes down to two familiar faces, and Codex puts herself in another situation with her newfound guild leadership skills. The new ep is available right now on MSN, and should be on Xbox Live as well. We've also put an embedded version right after the break if you'd rather see it there.

In other Guild news, they've also announced a brand new retail DVD that's apparently in stores today -- it's the same DVDs from the first two seasons that you could buy from them before, though it's dressed up in a brand new box, with space for both discs. They're also having a contest -- if you post a picture of yourself actually buying the DVD today (9/29) to their Facebook page or to Twitter with a #myguilddvd hashtag, they'll send you another copy, this time autographed. And even if you don't have the time or money to pick it up today, you can also add it in to your Netflix queue, which will spread the word over there. Good stuff. Stay tuned every Tuesday for another new Guild episode -- this latest season is getting hot and heavy (and painful for Zaboo, apparently) very quickly here!

Like The Guild? We do, too! We chatted with all of the folks at BlizzCon, including Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh, and Jeff Lewis and Michele Boyd. We also saw their panel, and the guys were nice enough to stop by our meetup as well. Stay tuned here every Tuesday for a brand new episode of season 3!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Humor, Fan art

AGDC09: Easy voice chat for PUGs with Puggable


If all you play is World of Warcraft, then you might not have heard of Vivox -- but they're the people providing integrated voice chat solutions for EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, Fallen Earth, All Points Bulletin.. I'd go on, but you probably get the point. This week at AGDC, Vivox is spreading its wings with the announcement of two new web-based voice chat applications: Vivox Web Voice for Facebook and Puggable for World of Warcraft players. Though the two use the same technology, Puggable is definitely targeted at the WoW-playing audience. I had a chance to sit down and chat with Vivox about Puggable at AGDC, and, though I haven't had a chance to get hands-on time with it, I've got to say the idea has a lot of appeal.

So what do you need to do to start chatting? Just fire up your web browser, point it to Puggable.com and create a chat room for your group. To invite others, all you need to do is share a link. The site will display character stats for your player from the armory (as seen in the above screenshot) for easy viewing by your entire group. And if you wish to select the instance you're running and the boss you're going to fight, Puggable will automagically pull up links for strategies, videos, and loot. No one needs to download or configure software (unless you're playing WoW with people who don't have web browsers... but that would just be silly) and there are no passwords to remember, share, or change. I'm hesitant to say it's fool-proof, but it certainly looks like group communication and organization simplified.

Puggable is presently in closed beta (though if you're interested in testing it, you can sign up on their site) with plans for a more open beta in the next few weeks.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events

Achieved shares your achievements on Facebook

While we were all wildin' out at BlizzCon last week, reader Peter G. sent us a little note about a Facebook app he's been working on called Achieved that will take your achievements and insert them into your various Facebook feeds however you like. If you want to go the whole nine yards and have your wall plastered with a story whenever you ding an achievement, you can do that, or if you just want to leave it as a small box on your profile page, you can do that as well. The app allows you to leave your actual character name out of the post (if for some reason you're not comfortable with sharing it with all your friends), and there's even a paid option: if you can throw in at least $.99 Canadian, the app will update straight from the Armory without any help from you to refresh (normally, I guess, you've got to log in to Facebook to get updates).

I like the app's minimalism more than anything else -- it doesn't show character information or any flashy graphics, just updates people on what you're doing with achievements. The app has a really active changelog, too (Peter is working hard on updating it pretty often, it seems), so if you have a request, you can always throw it in the pot and you might even get it granted. It's not quite as comprehensive as some of the other WoW Facebook apps out there, but if you want a quick way of showing Facebook friends what you're up to in game without excessively spamming them on every little ding or gear upgrade, give it a look for sure.

Filed under: How-tos, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends

Razer is giving away a sweet Asus rig

In case BlizzCon today isn't enough excitement for you, Razer, maker of fine gaming hardware of many kinds, is teaming up with Asus to give away a killer gaming computer. It's custom-painted with a ghost from Starcraft (anyone excited about SC2?), and it features some serious hardware. Intel i7 at 2.66 GHz, 9 GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX260 with 896 MB RAM, a 1 TB hard drive - it should run pretty much everything you want to throw at it. And it's so pretty! Of course, it comes with some Razer peripherals too.

All you need to do to win is leave a comment on their Facebook thread saying what your favorite Blizzard game is, and why. This means you will need a Facebook account, and you also need to become a "fan" of Razer first from their profile page. The winner will be randomly chosen on Monday, so you have until then to get in there.

Filed under: Contests, BlizzCon, Hardware

SteelSeries giving away autographed Starcraft II mouse pads

A few weeks ago we posted about SteelSeries giving away Wrath mouse pads signed by pro-gamers, and while that was all fine and dandy, there were quite a few people looking for more, such as autographs from Blizzard employees, perhaps. Good news, everyone! SteelSeries has made good on that, and all this week they're giving away more mouse pads on their Facebook page, though this time they're Starcraft II gaming surfaces, not World of Warcraft.

Who's donating their autograph this time around? Wei Wang, the artist behind the now-iconic image of Arthas and Frostmourne, which is plastered all over Wrath of the Lich King products. Wei Wang is also rumored to be the new Son of the Storm, the artists that basically fuel and control Blizzard's aesthetics. So while this might just be a mouse pad that he's signing, it might as well be a part of Blizzard history if you're into that sort of thing.

Head over to their Facebook page and follow the supplied instructions. Good luck!

Filed under: Events, Contests

SteelSeries giving away Wrath mouse pads signed by WarCraft pro-gamers


SteelSeries have announced plans to give away four signed versions of their limited edition Wrath mouse pads via their Facebook page. They will be giving away one of each mouse pad until Friday to anyone who becomes a fan via Facebook. The mouse pads are signed by twelve pro gamers, ninethat play WoW and three that play Warcraft III, including members of SK Gaming and Team EG.

This giveaway is the latest in their Month of Madness giveaway and if you'd like to see more shots of the super-rare mouse pads in their full glory, check out their blog and then head on over to their Facebook page to sign up and stand a chance of winning.

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items, Contests, Wrath of the Lich King

Mountain Dew Game Fuel site launches for reals


Update: This promotion seems to be US only. Sorry, rest of the world. Hopefully you guys will get something like this soon as well. China had a Coke promo, so maybe the EU/Oceania will get a turn sooner or later.

The Mountain Dew Game Fuel site is officially live, and we're all free to earn lots and lots of tokens. You'll need to register first, so be prepared to hand over a fair amount of personal information. They want the usual things, like your name and birthdate and home address. If I had to guess, I would say they need all of that for contest reasons. You always need to ask those things so you don't run into any regional legal issues.

Now, tokens. How do you get tokens? There's a full list of ways to earn them on the official site (that you need to be logged in to see,) but I can tell you this: Almost all of them involve clicking on some random links scattered around the internet. Watching videos on their site, clicking banners on Facebook, going to their Twitter page, all of that sort of thing. Time to start setting up a Mountain Dew bookmarks folder, folks.

There's also an FAQ that confirms one of our suspicions: Yes, a WoW vanity pet is one of the potential prizes you can win. It doesn't state what it is, but we can all safely assume it's the battlebots we posted about previously. Among the potential prizes is a trip to BlizzCon as well, so if you can't afford the trip yourself, you ought to start hoarding tokens.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Contests

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