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WRUP: Our suggestions for April Fools' Jokes

WRUP Our suggestions for April Fools' Jokes
Well, WoW didn't get to do an April Fools' joke. That sucks but is totally understandable. But they've got their friends here at WoW Insider to help out. This week's bonus question is: What would you have done for a WoW April Fools' Joke?

Alex Ziebart (@AlexZiebart) This weekend I'm doing another playthrough of Bioshock Infinite. While not a perfect game, there are a couple instances where the narrative falls apart for the sake of shock value, most of it is pretty damn good. As for Blizzard April Fools' Joke, they should've changed the World of Warcraft logo on Battle.net to Titan.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: What's your idea of good random in-game fun?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the AOL guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

Imagine you are an elemental shaman. You notice that Arathi Basin is on Call to Arms and decide to queue up. You've got a bit of a crazy streak in you, so you decide to head up to the Lumber Mill. You're new to the path of the shaman and are still experimenting with your abilities. The battle is getting pretty overwhelming, and you know you don't have a lot of health. You really don't want that warrior getting too close. You decide to throw out a Thunderbolt in an attempt keep some distance and watch in awe as the warrior's frustrated body sails beautifully through the air and off the cliff to meet his certain demise below.

That was awesome!

You've just found your purpose in WoW. After the BG, you relate your experience to your friends. Before you know it, you've got a group of elemental shaman and boomkins queuing up for Arathi Basin and Eye of the Storm with no other purpose in mind than to knock as many people to their deaths as possible. Unfortunately for the rest of your frustrated team, you don't care about winning or losing; you are having the time of your life.

While it certainly is fun to have the best gear, down the toughest raid bosses, or reach that next Arena rating, sometimes we all need to step back from the seriousness and remind ourselves that we are playing a game. Sometimes we need to take a break from the emblem grinding and talent tweaking and just do something that makes us laugh until our sides ache.

Whether it's forming a knockback brigade, repeatedly jumping off high cliffs, or dueling while under the influence of in-game alcohol, tell us what you do when you just want to have a good time.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Patch 4.3: The games of Darkmoon Island

The Darkmoon Island is all about fun, prizes, and having a place to relax after a hard night's work of punching Deathwing in the face for all that cataclysmic stuff he has been busy doing the past year. Coming with patch 4.3, the Darkmoon Island is a new Darkmoon Faire experience that builds on the successes of the past Darkmoon events in WoW in a big way, finally giving Silas Darkmoon and his crazy cast of characters an island worthy of the Faire.

For one week at the top of each month, players will get to play games and carnival attractions, complete quests, and earn tickets to purchase prizes including old replica dungeon gear, new companion pets and mounts, and heirlooms. Each game at the Faire has a daily quest associated with it that rewards tickets. Let's explore the games of the Darkmoon Island.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Breakfast Topic: The new Darkmoon Faire

In case you missed it, Blizzard has unveiled the new and improved Darkmoon Faire that will be coming to Azeroth in patch 4.3. The Darkmoon Faire will occupy an entire island and be filled to the brim with new quests, rewards, fun novelty items, and even a brand new, free-for-all PVP arena in the same vein as the Gurubashi Arena. The changes are massive, turning the Darkmoon Faire into a whole new experience for players.

There are so many features coming with the new Faire that it's hard to choose the coolest one. So that's what we should talk about this morning. What is your favorite feature coming with the new Darkmoon Faire? Is it the ability to purchase old vanity armor sets that are difficult to obtain or just don't exist anymore? What about the ability to gain five skill points in all of your professions per week while the Faire is in town? Are you a questaholic, excited to complete all of the new quests and storylines that the Faire will provide? How about collecting Darkmoon Artifacts, found all over the world, in order to earn prizes, rewards, and more?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Patch 4.3 preview: The all-new Darkmoon Faire

The Darkmoon Faire is getting a full-on revamp in the upcoming patch 4.3 update to Cataclysm, giving the Faire its own island secretly hidden away within the mists. The old ticket system from the Faire of yesteryear is being replaced with new quests, new games to play for tickets, and more. From the preview, we can expect a fez-wearing monkey companion pet, new toys and balloons, more heirlooms, fun souvenirs, and replica sets of long-lost armor that have been removed from the game or are extremely hard to get. New achievements and titles are also coming.

This is a huge content update to the Darkmoon Faire. From the preview, this appears to be the Molten Front of the Darkmoon Faire, a huge, fun questing and game experience that involves fun toys, games, and more. Games include Whack-a-Gnoll, Tonk Battle Royale, the ominious-sounding Cannon, a ring toss game, a shooting gallery, and more to be announced. A new Gurubashi Arena-style free-for-all PVP arena called the Darkmoon Deathmatch will be introduced, as well.

One of the most interesting parts of the new Darkmoon Faire is that you will be able to gain experience, prize tickets, and skill points for your professions -- up to five skills points per profession per Faire week. If you've been struggling with those last few points in a profession or want to level up alts' professions without spending too much on the Auction House, the first week of each month at the Faire opens up some new options.

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Filed under: News items, Cataclysm

Guest Post: Getting into the WoW Trading Card Game

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

Are you someone who plays World of Warcraft and purchases booster boxes of each World of Warcraft Trading Card Game expansion in order to get its loot cards? Do you know how to play the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game? If not, then you are one of many online gamers I've heard of who help make the trading card game a hot property but have not discovered that those cards you are packing up and burying in your apartment or house are actually a lot of fun to play with. For those of you who haven't taken a look at the trading card game at all, I'd highly recommend it.

I have been playing card games since 2003, and the WoW TCG is no exception. I spent over a year writing about the game, as well as playing and working at some of its biggest events (with a short break in 2008 to finish school). It was because of WoW TCG that I ended up getting into the WoW MMO in the first place!

The WoW Trading Card Game has been around since fall 2006 and has continued on through a transition from one company (Upper Deck Entertainment) to another (Cryptozoic). Organized play has had its ups and downs, but the game is starting to get more popular and attendance is once again picking up at events everywhere. However, a recent addition to the weekly tournament at my local comic book store mentioned that he knows plenty of people who buy the cards but never learn how to play.

Why is that?

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Filed under: WoW TCG, Guest Posts

15 Minutes of Fame: Psychologist and games researcher John Hopson

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

What keeps gamers hooked on their game of choice? Chances are, it's an element of the gameplay that was teased out with the help of games researcher John Hopson. The experimental psychologist and beta program head for Microsoft Game Studios examines what makes gamers do the things they do and then designs ways to keep them happily doing just that -- most recently, in titles such as Shadow Complex, Halo 3: ODST and Halo: Reach.

All that, and he's a WoW player to the core. "I mostly play in the two semi-official Microsoft WoW guilds, and lately I've been a hardcore player in a casual's body," he notes. "My wife and I had our first child a few months ago, so we've both dropped raiding and have been levelling alts instead since that doesn't require a fixed schedule. So far, we're both up to 5 level 80s apiece. :)" We thought it was time to turn the tables on Hopson, a loyal reader and occasional commenter at WoW.com, and ask him for his perspectives on WoW from the inside out.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

How reputation governs the game

Ravius over at Kill Ten Rats ruminates on the importance of reputation in these very social games that we're playing with each other, and it resonated with me in terms of a few different things going on in World of Warcraft right now. We've talked lots before about ninjas and how that back-and-forth works -- in that case, karma is directly driven by what other people think of you, and of course that's seen more weakly in lots of other places around the game, including guild recruitment, your friends list, and just the general server at large.

Ravius talks mostly about the negative reputations we earn, and certainly that's a powerful motivator for a lot of people. But positive reputation is also a strong force in this game -- I'm interested to see how we deal with earning and keeping positive reputation in the new Dungeon Finder and eventually the Battle.net system. Gone may be the days when you build up a good reputation by saying "remember me if you need a good DPS" at the end of a run. It'll be interesting to see what methods we replace that one with.

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

Local paper profiles TCG $50k winner

This is cool -- after local paper the Winter Park/Maitland Observer (near Orlando, Florida) heard that the winner of Upper Deck's last WoW TCG World Championships was from the same area, they went and found him, fittingly, in a game store. William Postlewaite, a.k.a. Billy P, won $50,000 just for playing the WoW Trading Card Game very, very well.

While there's not a lot of info on the actual mechanics behind his win (this is a local paper, after all), it's very interesting to get a look at the player himself -- he works at the game store while going to school to learn finance, and spent about two months testing decks of cards with a friend before he found the one that he thought could go all the way. And what's he doing with all of his winnings? He's planning to buy a house. Smart play. You always hear about these wild sums being won by card game players -- good to know that this set of winnings is going to what seems like a good guy.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Making money, WoW TCG

Gaikai promises to stream PC games like WoW straight to your browser

David Perry is one of those game developers who doesn't do anything small -- he started out with a company called Shiny Entertainment, responsible for great old games like Earthworm Jim, MDK, Messiah, and the Enter the Matrix movie tie-in game, and nowadays he's moved on to the MMO market, where he's developed all kinds of crazy ideas (including, we're not kidding, a dance MMO). This is the kind of guy who has ideas and chases them down.

His latest idea is a system called Gaikai, a "game streaming service" that allows players to jump right into any PC games they'd like, no installation or hard drive space necessary, online. There are a number of services like this springing up lately, including the much-discussed OnLive, where instead of depending on your local hardware to render and produce the game you're playing, you just send and recieve information with a remote server. As you can see above, Gaikai is focusing on PC games, and anyone who's planning on running a PC gaming service has to include World of Warcraft. Starting at about 6:00 into the video above, he shows off a version of WoW that requires no installation or loading at all; just sign in and play.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware

Blizzard files trademark for "Cataclysm"


Is "Cataclysm" the name of Blizzard's next-gen MMO? This Tumblr blogger has uncovered trademark applications filed by Blizzard in the fields of computer games, paper-based products, and online entertainment services. Those trademarks are on the USPTO's website, and we can confirm that Rod A. Rigole has been employed by Blizzard as legal counsel previously, so these trademark applications, all filed late last week on June 26th, are all real.

Of course, that doesn't confirm that we're actually talking about the next-gen MMO, or that Blizzard is planning on releasing a game called "Cataclysm" at all (StarCraft: Ghost was also trademarked, and we all know what came out of that). It could be another WoW expansion (though you'd think that WoW would be in there somewhere if that was the case), or it could be a completely separate game. Not that we know of one, but Blizzard certainly is working on all kinds of projects that we haven't yet heard about officially.

So. "Cataclysm." Trademark Blizzard Entertainment. Keep an eye out for it at BlizzCon this year.

Thanks, Ryan!

Update: We noticed the domain wowcataclysm.com expired on June 26th, 2009. The domain was previously held and parked out in Australia. June 26th is the same day the trademark was filed with the US Patent & Trademark Office. The domain is also now held by GoDaddy, who we know handles Blizzard domains. That's just a little too much coincidence for us to stay quiet about. It's entirely possible Blizzard just acquired the domain name.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, BlizzCon, Cataclysm

Popcap's addons updated

Popcap kindly sent us a note to say that both of their free addons (Bejeweled and Peggle) for World of Warcraft have seen updates lately, so if you're still playing the versions you downloaded when they first came out, better give them a refresh. Bejeweled, the classic gem matching game, is now up to 1.1, and features a completely updated score system (you'll be asked to convert it the first time you load) that tracks all kinds of new features. In addition, the Achievements now have their own screen, so they're all easier to track as well. And a bunch of bug fixes have gone in, to make the game smoother and faster.

And Peggle has reached 1.02, with some new code to try and keep users with different versions from having compatibility problems, as well as a few options to keep the chatspam down to a minimum. If your guild is angry that you keep accidentally hitting "Publish" and getting your score in their guild chat, get this new version, as it allows you to control where that goes, as well as change the name from "Publish" to "Brag," to more accurately describe what it is.

Both versions can be downloaded right over on Popcap's WoW site, or from the usual suspects at your favorite addon databases. It's great that they're still updating these (still for free!), but, completely selfishly, we still kind of want Zuma next.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Add-Ons

UNLV researcher studies WoW social interaction

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas' student newspaper, the Rebel Yell, has an article up about a student there named Michael McCreery, who's studying how people interact in online games. Unfortunately, most of the article is about the game itself (most of which we already know, obviously), and there's not much about how he actually did the study: apparently he had people play WoW using only the ingame chat, and surveyed them afterwards about it.

How exactly that tells you how to "quantify the social interactions of participants in the game so that future online games can build better environments," we have no idea, but we'll leave that to the experts. Basically, McCreery and his team are examining how people use and interact with others in the game to see how we project ourselves and our characters.

Eventually, he wants to do something "education or therapeutic" with the information, though that too is left pretty open. Virtual environments like World of Warcraft do definitely engender ties between players -- is it possible that those ties can be used in an academic or therapeutical setting? Definitely an interesting line of research.

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

Twittering from the World of Warcraft

Just in case you needed any more Twitter in your life (I'm getting to the point where I really don't), enter the PlayXpert Twitter widget, part of the PlayXpert gaming toolset, a free Windows application that you can download to run alongside your PC games (very similar to Xfire and that type of application). It's a little bloaty if all you want to do is run Twitter alongside WoW, but unfortunately, that functionality will never be available in an addon, as addons can't interact with any other outside sites.

The poor man's solution here is to just run WoW in windowed mode and have your Twitter browser or client open right next to it -- you don't need a big application if you really need to be connected at all times. But if you want to livetweet your raid without sacrificing screen space to windowed mode, PlayXpert is one way to do it. It'll even do some autotwittering for you if you want.

And of course if you're on Twitter already, don't forget to follow our WoW Insider Twitter account. We've already hit our goal of over 9,000 followers (and yes, a video version of the podcast is coming soon), but we're constantly throwing out little pieces of news, discussion and even some giveaways over there, so follow us if you're interested.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

Activision passes on PC Gaming Alliance membership

It could be pretty easily argued that Blizzard is one of the biggest PC gaming development houses in the business today -- they consistently own both the sales charts and the playtime stats in terms of PC gaming. But Activision-Blizzard has quietly confirmed that they've passed on a membership to the PC Gaming Alliance, a group that claims to be "the authoritative voice on PC gaming worldwide." Activision, for their part, says that they just couldn't justify the membership fee, and this isn't the first industry group that they've snubbed: they famously left the ESA and their big yearly conference at E3 last year.

The PCGA claims that this isn't a big setback -- despite this and a few other losses, they say their numbers have grown, and they cite a few other big still-members, including Microsoft, Nvidia, and Intel. But given how much of an influence Activsion-Blizzard is in PC gaming, it's hard to say you're the "authoritative voice" of the platform when you don't have any formal connection to the biggest developer/publisher in the industry.

What does this mean to us players? Probably nothing right now -- the PCGA is right: the loss of Activision probably won't affect their work at all. But Blizzard, for better or worse, is being steered by Activision away from the industry at large. Right now, with events like BlizzCon and a huge reputation of their own, they don't need to be tied into these industry groups. But that may not always be the case.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, BlizzCon

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