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Posts with tag games

WoW Crossword 7/13/08

Do you like puzzles, of course you do! You can find the clues for this crossword after the break. Answers to this week's puzzle will appear next Sunday.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, WoW Crossword

WoW Crossword 7/6/08

Do you like puzzles, of course you do! You can find the clues for this crossword after the break. Answers to this week's puzzle will appear next Sunday.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Blizzard, Lore, WoW Crossword

Can WoW be beaten?

World of Warcraft is doing terrific lately, but if you believe the hype, there's trouble on the horizon, and it's coming in the form of two big MMOs: Age of Conan and Warhammer Online. Greg Howson of Britain's Guardian newspaper has a column online in which he examines WoW's grip on MMO gamers and the two big games it'll face this year.

We'll leave the cross-MMO predictions to our great sister site Massively, but for their part, Blizzard says they're looking forward to a little competition in the MMO pool. Howson has J. Allen Brack, WoW's lead producer, saying that they're looking forward to playing the new games as well. And it's true -- real competition in this space might actually be a welcome thing to fans of all MMO games. Blizzard is working hard now, but they might actually be working harder if they had a competitor breathing down their necks.

Unfortunately for those who want to see that happen, it's going to be super hard for anyone to get near Blizzard's neck, much less near their game. As Lord of the Rings Online producer Ed Relf says to Howson, WoW is pretty much the iPod of the MMO space. It could just be that what Blizzard has done here -- bring an MMO to the forefront of gaming culture for an extended period of time -- is a deed that just can't be replicated, no matter how much money you put into making a game.


Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Breakfast Topic: Collectibles

As I was perusing the very first review of Grand Theft Auto 4 yesterday, I noted that the "collectibles" in that game are going to be pretty intriguing. While a lot of collectible items in games (say, all the packages in the previous GTA games, or the flags in Assassin's Creed) are fairly superfluous, I find that some (like the orbs in Crackdown and the billboards and jumps in Burnout Paradise) actually make the game more fun -- while traveling through the game world, you can keep an eye out for extra stuff to do and see.

World of Warcraft has never really jumped in on that idea, however. Obviously, there are plenty of collecting quests, but usually they're for killing mobs. And there are plenty of things to collect in the game -- noncombat pets, tabards, and mounts, and so on -- but none of them really give you a reward when you find a certain number of them, or give you bonuses based on how many you've picked up.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? For me, hiding some fun, optional collectibles (and giving small rewards based on just finding them) in a world as lush as Azeroth would make exploring an already great environment better. But I'm sure some would see it as a cheap tactic to make people hunt for widgets. What do you think?

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Getting your RTS background in before it's too late

Methedras asks once again over on WoW LJ if now is a good time to be playing the old Warcraft RTS games, and, actually no, now is probably not a good time to be playing them. You should probably be heading up to the Isle of Quel'danas and helping your realm and the Shattered Sun get those dailies unlocked.

But yes, after patch 2.4 has quenched your interest in the World of Warcraft for a while, now would be a perfect time to play Warcraft III and its expansion, the Frozen Throne. Because we are right smack dab in the thick of the lore following both of those games -- Illidan and Kael'thas' stories have just finished, and the main event, with Arthas Menethil, is just about to start in Northrend. Up until the end of Wrath of the Lich King (and we're just now reaching the end of the Burning Crusade), World of Warcraft was really just a gigantic, cross-genre, extremely involved and detailed sequel to Blizzard's earlier Warcraft games.

There are other places to go beyond this, however, of course, and we've discussed a lot of them before (and will again, no doubt). But yes, if you haven't played the RTS games yet, you've already missed half of the story. Now would be a great time to play them, before you miss the second (and in my estimation, much more interesting) half.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, Instances, Lore, NPCs

Breakout in World of Warcraft

One of the things I really don't like about World of Warcraft, or any other MMORPG, is the waiting that is involved in getting a group together. This can be a real problem in raid environments, where it often times can take half an hour or more just to get the group set. I've been a raid leader before, so I know that they are busy and there isn't much they can do about the time we all just sit there on vent chatting with each other.

One of things that I've recently came across to help ease the wait is a little in-game game of bricks, a.k.a. breakout. Breakout is the game that I used to play back in elementary and middle school on the old Macs* where you'd bounce a ball around, breaking (you guessed it) bricks. The ball is bounced off a small platform that you move with your mouse. Pretty simple, and mindlessly entertaining.

Lately I've been enjoying a version of this game called WoWonid, which is an Ace2 addon I found via my addon updating with the WoWAceUpdater. It's a good enough implementation of the game (and quite impressive when you consider that it's done in LUA and built using an interface that's designed for game addons). The controls are simple enough, and just like the old Mac controls: move the mouse left or right to move the platform, bounce the ball, pwn.

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Filed under: Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding

Breakfast Topic: Games within the game

We all know (or at least I hope we all know) that World of Warcraft is a game -- an MMO set in an immense universe with countless quests to do and whole continents to explore. However, sometimes the big game isn't as interesting as the minigames you can find. Steam tonk wars? (Or other pet games.) Guild bank checkers? (If you haven't tried that one, it's a blast!) What do you think of Azeroth's minigames -- do you play them? Do you enjoy them? Do you make up your own to entertain yourself between raids? Tell us about them!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Guild bank checkers

Guild banks are one of the banner features of patch 2.3, along with leveling improvements and of course Zul'Aman. We all know that you can store lots of things in them, although it might cost you. People are even making single-person guilds just to get to use the guild bank for storage. Come to think of it, why can't we have account banks, where we could transfer items and gold among our alts on the same server without having to use the mail? But that's not the point of this post.

No, the point of this post is a new use of the guild bank that has nothing to do with storage: checkers! Affix, from Tichondrius-A, has discovered that the bank is good for fun as well as utility. One player is using Netherweave, the other is using Arcane Dust, and they both seem to be having a good time (check the thread for more pictures). I have to say, this is the first time I've seen somebody playing a minigame inside WoW without AddOns or anything. Drysc speculates that chess would be somewhat viable, despite the fact that there is one row too few, what with the variety of item icons that exist. Tic-tac-toe should obviously work as well, though that's a fairly trivial game to not lose. Who wants to play guild bank connect four? Can you think of any other games that could be played within the default interface?

Filed under: Tricks, Odds and ends

Playing virtual games in the workplace

We've heard before about how different activities in World of Warcraft can actually help you be better at your job, but now the BBC has posted an article examining how game mechanics from games like WoW can actually help your company help you work better. According to the ESRB, the average gamer isn't a teen after school any more-- he's 33 and has been gaming for 10 years. And because so many more professionals nowadays know the basics of gaming, employers are starting to apply those rules to the workplace to make everyone more productive.

One mechanic used is a form of "virtual currency" in terms of emails and meeting time-- send an email or hold a 15 minute meeting, and it costs you a token, while tokens can be earned in all kinds of ways. Not only does it keep employees on task, but it adds an extra layer of strategy and thought to the normal workday. Another game mechanic used by employers, says the BBC, is the idea of guilds and leveling rewards. "Guilds" in the workplace are tracked along a point system, and the best guilds get the best projects and rewards.

Very interesting stuff. While it sounds like good news for employers, I'm not sure how successful ideas like this would actually be among non-gamer employees-- at some point, how good you are at your job would be determined not by your industry ability, but by your game-playing ability, and that doesn't seem like a good outcome. But if employers find employees are willing to use these mechanics to make themselves more productive, everyone could benefit.

Thanks, Lienn!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, News items, Leveling, Making money

WoW is a Work of Art, part 2: Blizzard's masterpiece

As you read the word, "art," what do you think of? Van Gogh? Beethoven? Academy Awards for Best Picture? What is it that established mediums of art, such as painting, music, and film have in common?

In many ways, World of Warcraft is a combination of all these media, and yet it is something of it's own too. WoW has vast landscapes to explore, interesting characters with their own meaningful stories, and powerful music to thrill you or spook you or make you feel awe. Not only does WoW combine these elements together in a deeply satisfying way, it stands out as a carefully balanced masterwork of the "game" as a creative human expression. In other words, WoW is basically a web of overlapping problems to overcome alone or as a team, for which all the visual, musical and story elements are metaphors that open the doors into this central element of the game's experience. Not only is it fundamentally interactive, exploratory, and progressive, but your choices, from the way your character looks to the way you chose to play him or her, all represent your own investment in filling out the open space the game has made for you and the community of players. You and your friends are the final keystone in the edifice of the WoW work of art -- your progressive interaction with the game and your cooperation with others is designed from the beginning to be the main stimulating force on your mind and spirit, just as looking or listening is with other forms of art.

Of course art is a subjective thing, like beauty itself. One person may be profoundly inspired and uplifted by her WoW experience, while another may be left shaking his head and wondering why he wasted his time. In their own way, both are right; art is never art without a certain kind of participation by the one looking at it, listening to it, or engaging with it in some way. The perceiver of the art always has to be open to the special impact that art can have on your mind or spirit, and be willing to make that leap of faith into the work of art and see what its creators intended. For some to be unappreciative of one art form or another is commonplace and natural -- people have their unique likes and dislikes after all -- but the fact that a certain work of art touches some people, perhaps many, in a profound way is what sets it aside from mere entertainment.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

WoW is a Work of Art, part 1: A journey into Azeroth

The day I walked into the store to buy World of Warcraft, I had been taking care of my mother as she underwent chemotherapy for brain cancer, and I desperately needed something to do that wasn't cooking, cleaning, sorting pills, or running errands. I needed something that would connect me with people while at the same time letting me stay at home and care for someone I loved.

When I picked up a box with a pretty, yet severe night elf woman's face on the cover, I wasn't thinking, "I want to get to level 60 and start raiding Molten Core for epic gear!" or even "I'm going to be a PvP god!" Instead, I was hoping to create characters with a personal background, with feelings and ideas all their own, and act them out in an imaginary world where no one knew who I really was, a world in which our purpose was to share creatively and interact as a team, not to make money or exchange gossip.

In short, I wanted to roleplay. But what I got was something much more than even a roleplaying experience, more than me and my characters, more than an endless stream of quests and rewards, experience and reputation, monsters and loot. I found myself in a world filled with its own people -- real people -- and a series of problems for these people to overcome together in order to progress and travel even deeper into this world. At every stage, I found something new opening up to me, whether it was access to more abilities of my own, more ways to interact with others, more vast landscapes to please my eye, or more stories to capture my imagination.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Breakfast Topic: Downtime games

Harbringer SkyrissLast night, a warrior guildmate trying to score her Dungeon chest armor piece had her entire group drop before the final mob fight in Arcatraz. Four of us responded to her call for replacements and together we took down the giant cockroach from the planet Xenon, but we lost the priest in the final moments. The key to Arcatraz doesn't work from the inside and the priest didn't have the key. While the keyed rogue hearthed out and headed back to the zone entrance, the rest of us had to kill the time before we looted.

First, we used the joke emote and commented on the lame repetitive jokes the human females have. Then we brought out the illusions (furbolg, druid bear form dancing, shrinking). Then came the pets (sleepy willy, sprite darter; etc.) Finally, the conversation turned to mat gathering for epic recipes.

This would have been a perfect time for a mini-game. Eventually, the rest of our group arrived and, to the warrior's delight, her chestplate dropped. A happy dance later and we were off to return to whatever we were doing before.

But this led me to wonder: what do you do during enforced downtime?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Breakfast Topics

Real friends vs. virtual friends

A few weeks ago, I had some trouble with my real life friends-- they were organizing an impromptu run to the movies, but I had committed to a Gruul's raid, and had to decline, to their consternation. And yesterday, the exact opposite happened-- I went on a raid with my guild for the first time in a few weeks (because different real life issues had kept me from raiding for a while), and they gave me a little ribbing about being so behind.

It just doesn't seem fair. I'm getting trouble from both my real life and my internet friends for choosing to hang out with one over the other. Of course, both groups aren't really angry at me for doing what I choose to do-- my guild isn't really bothered by my absence of late (although I don't exactly get first choice at loot rolling any more, understandably), and my real-life friends can't blame me for staying in sometimes and playing videogames (although they worry about me if I do it more often than not).

As ippy says, there are really two camps on this-- either you think that real life is always more important than virtual interaction, or that both are equally worthwhile. In the past, I've been closer to the first option-- that I should always go hang out with people in real life rather than stay at home playing WoW or Bioshock (which I will be tomorrow, no matter what my friends are doing). But lately, as my relationships in WoW grow stronger, I'm feeling more of a pull to give that priority sometimes, at least when it doesn't affect my other relationships.

Is that bad? This seems like a topic for our Azeroth Interrupted column (featured today, by the way, on the front page of the BBC's tech site-- cheers, Robin!), but I'd like to hear what you all think as well. Does real life get priority always, or is it more nuanced than that?

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

217 million people playing games world-wide... or are there?

comScore, a company earning its way in the world by compiling and analysing consumer data, tells us that there are currently 217 million people in the world playing games online. (Of course, this number only sounds impressive until you realize that there are over 6 billion people living in the world today.) But the numbers themselves seem to leave a lot to be desired -- over at PlayNoEvil they have a detailed analysis of the other things this data seems to have overlooked:
  • All of the companies comScore seems to be tracking are US-based. What about the large online gaming market in Asia?
  • Smaller game sites aren't considered. (Smaller than Yahoo, MSN, WildTangent, etc.)
  • Client-based games like World of Warcraft are excluded.
  • People playing in internet cafes (common in Asia) aren't counted.
So, from this data we can definitively determine that there are 217 million people in the world enjoying online gaming -- or maybe more. While it's interesting to see attempts at quantifying the online gaming market, I'd be interested in seeing some more inclusive estimates.

[via The Forge]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Study says games really don't hurt you

According to Ars Technica, a study appearing in the June edition of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine covering the effects of video games on young people paints a relatively reassuring picture. The study suggests that video games have no significant impact on academics or socialization. From the article:

Although there were some figures that might suggest that gaming displaced academic activities, such as reading and homework, the total time spent on these pursuits was so small that minor effects were magnified. If people are concerned about the lack of reading done by adolescents, the fact that non-gamers spend only eight minutes a day reading should be a far larger concern than the fact that gaming causes that figure to drop by a little more than two minutes.

And in my experience playing World of Warcraft with both kids and adults, I have to say that the game is very social, and can even teach plenty of social skills. (Well, as long as you eventually level out of Barrens chat.) Of course if you're replacing homework time with World of Warcraft time, that's one thing, but this study doesn't suggest that's what's happening. What's your opinion -- do games like World of Warcraft have a negative effect on our kids?
[Thanks, Mogwai!]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends

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