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The cynic's guide to World of Warcraft

We tend to be very careful while composing articles here at WoW Insider. We're always mindful that not everyone plays the game in the same way, or has the same experience on different servers or factions, but every so often a certain madness seizes us and we feel the urge to ... tell the truth. In that vein, I am pleased (sort of) to present The Cynic's Guide to World of Warcraft.

This article owes a heavy debt to Ambrose Bierce's The Devil's Dictionary. If you want to see a real master at work, read that.

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Filed under: Humor

The Failure of Secrecy: The alpha, leaks, and the WoW community

The past few days have seen leaks on an unprecedented scale. For better or worse, nearly the entire visual artwork of the expansion is out on the internet, and key and yet-unseen components of the lore, landscape and mechanics are now laying wide open for those who care to look. Many people have drawn lines in the community -- some believe these leaks are good, and others believe them bad.

In both camps, basic information is lacking as to exactly what leaks are, how and why they originate and what they mean for the common player. It's critical that we as a community take an introspective look at what these leaks mean to us, why they happen and the consequences we all face as a result.

Let's begin this examination with a basic question ...

What are leaks?

At the most basic level, leaks are previously unreleased information given to the press with the intention of distribution to the public. In the case of WoW, a leak can range from a release date for a patch to an entire client of a new expansion. Leaks like these comprise of data that are accessible publicly, one way or another, and are generally not considered trade secrets.

Another type of leak, which is much more serious, is something like the source code to Windows 2000. Something that like is very sensitive and has a lot of real-world implications. WoW doesn't have anything secretive like that which can impact the very security of our computer networks and commerce infrastructure, even though WoW leaks are important to Blizzard in their own regard.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cataclysm

Worgen /welcome video from IgroMir 2009

So we wanted to be sure that you all got to see this before Blizzard has YouTube pull it. You probably have about 30 minutes at best. So go at it! The video below the break shows some introductory worgen moves from the recent Russian IgroMir 2009 demonstrations Blizzard had setup. Video is typically against the rules at these things, but a leak is a leak, and this should give players a good view of it.

Of particular note is the animations at the end of the video. The /welcome animation is a worgen pointing, waving, and then getting down on all fours to sniff the air in-front of him; as if to smell the nether regions of the person being greeted as canines are prone to do. There is some discussion if this it worgen idle animation at the wrong time, or if this is part of the overall /welcome animation sequence.

Unforunately we don't know, but we're all having a good laugh over it. And now you can do.

The goods after the break, while it still exists.

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Filed under: News items

WoTLK Friends and Family Alpha now over, say sources

Various tipsters and sources from around the web are reporting that the WotLK Friends and Family Alpha is now over. Deathknight.info reports that Eyonix has posted the official notice on the closed alpha boards, thanking everyone for participating.

There is, of course, no date given for the start of the beta, he only says that the team is hard at work preparing it. All alpha testers will be invited back for the beta, and will even be allowed to keep their characters after a short lockout period to allow new testers to catch up.

A poster at Wotlkwiki.info claims to have information from an alpha tester who is a member of a developer's family. The source says that they believe that Blizzard is rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline, as the game doesn't seem ready for beta testing -- this part, at least, is a bit hard for me to believe, since Blizzard has always marched to the beat of their own drum when it comes to release dates and deadlines. They also predict that we may need to wait until August to see the beta actually begin.

Regardless, it looks like beta will be upon us swiftly -- or at least soon. If you haven't opted in, now is a good time to do so. Once you've done that, keep checking WoW Insider. We'll let you know what we know as soon as we know it.

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

Rumor: Wrath of the Lich King box revealed


Tipster Nigel sent in these curious-looking photos of what appears to be the packaging for the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. We've already gotten wind of the possible packaging for a Collector's Edition, so why not the basic box? Apparently, the person who leaked the Collector's Edition photo is still working at the printing press and puts his cell phone camera back to work with these photos of the regular edition.

Could it be the real thing? I'm not so sure myself, but if they're fake, they're pretty good ones. The box design includes clever elements that I didn't consider were I to make a mock-up myself... such as a small disclaimer stating that the game requires The Burning Crusade. The layout of the box closely resembles that of the previous expansion, too, with the exact same font used for the words 'expansion set' and identical placement of logos. One of the most telling signs that point to its authenticity, however, was a printer's mark usually found on print material before they're cut (and made into a box). Nigel smartly states that he didn't take the pictures himself. Check out the pic of the inside flap with the telling printer's mark after the jump.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

Rumor: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition box

Here's some good Wrath of the Lich King rumor-juice for you tonight. Pictured to the right is what has shown up on the internet as a Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Edition box. I for one think it looks real. It was posted on the Paladin Schmaladin blog two months ago, although reader Allen just tipped us to it this evening.

The poster over there notes that the box comes from her friend Gene, who supposedly works at a printing facility. Gene couldn't get one out of the printing factory, so instead he snapped an image of the box with his cellphone.

Through Paladin Schmaladin, we're also told that the printing press had the WotLK box orders pushed back four months. This could be an indication that Lich King will be coming out later than expected, although since Blizzard hasn't really announced a release date, we'd probably never know the difference.

Nonetheless, enjoy your nightly WotLK rumor. It looks to be a good one.

Click the image for a larger high-res version.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

WoW Rookie: What's the buzz?

WoW Rookie is brought to our readers to help our newest players get acclimated to the game. Make sure you send a note to WoW Insider if you have suggestions for what new players need to know.

This has been an exciting week for World of Warcraft news and rumors. Blizzard has been hosting two major events Blizzcon and the World Wide Invitational. These events are a hotbed of information about WoW and other Blizzard Entertainment games. Here at WoW Insider we work hard to keep you on top of all of the latest developments in our beloved game. I'm sure you were aware, but this past weekend saw Blizzard's World Wide Invitational in Paris, France. Let's take a look at the kinds of information that we receive.

We did not get the piece of information that I was most hoping for: A release date for Wrath of the Lich King. Not even a beta date. Now there are a number of websites that have pre-order dates for Wrath, but none of them can be trusted as an actual estimation. We will get our new expansion "when it's ready." Blizzard is the only trustworthy source of this information. We will get that bit of information out as soon as it's available from the source.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, WoW Rookie, BlizzCon, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors, Worldwide Invitational

Rumor: Wrath of the Lich King closed beta to start on July 3rd

July 3rd, 2008. This will either be a blessed day for a lot of us WoW addicted folk, or one of some major disappointment. According to the German site allvatar, they spoke with Blizzard's German assistant community manager Gnorog. He reportedly said that the community managers now had permission to announce the Wrath of the Lich King closed beta as starting on July 3rd.

Now before you go and tell your friends and family what really is important to you (because lets be honest, WotLK beta > 4th of July, right?) you need to consider that this is nothing more than a big ol' rumor.

This information came from Gnorog when he was at the World Wide Invitational in Paris this past weekend. I know that Gnorog exists and is a German community manager, but I can't confirm that he was at the WWI (although I'm sure he would have been). We get a good amount of beta and release rumors every day here at WoW Insider, and half the time they refer to people that aren't even real. So this rumor gets +10 for referring to a real person.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

Blizzard deals Alpha leak site a potential killing blow


The Wrath of the Lich King Information Wiki, the primary source of leaked information from the friends & family Alpha, is currently not hosting any information on its site. Reports say that the WotLK Wiki team has been served a Cease & Desist order by Blizzard's legal team and given stringent restrictions on hosting Alpha information. A brief message on the site explained how the site administrators were contacted by a legal firm. The issue dealt with a few key points, such as the site referring to themselves as the "Official WotLK Alpha Wiki" despite not being endorsed by Blizzard; not having a copyright on any of the information, necessitating the inclusion of a copyright line to the main pages; and an order to remove all of what Blizzard considered "over-the-line" content such as leaked screenshots.

The WotLK Information Wiki formerly had detailed information on the spells and abilities of the new hero class, the Death Knight, as well as new 51-point talents for most classes. It also hosted and updated a copy of the latest build of the Alpha client, and showed previews of numerous models in the expansion such as speculated vanity pets and armor sets. None of this information is currently available, although the site's message states that they are "having a little trouble" and "hopefully will be back shortly". The current refuge of Alpha-hungry players are in an IRC channel called #wotlkwiki in irc.mmoforge.org, where the header cryptically (or not-so-cryptically) states that "THE MEN IN SUITS, THEY TOOK THE WIKI ON VACATION TODAY. Might return tonight."

If the Alpha wiki team succeeds in conforming (or going around) the rules laid by the intellectual property firm, it might return to serve up information sometime soon. We'll keep a close eye on these developments; whatever happens, we've learned that it's tough to keep a good secret from getting out.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

LotRO-style achievements coming to Wrath?


One thing I like about the history of MMO development so far (and game development in general, I suppose) is the tradition of borrowing the best parts of other games for your own games. Heck, WoW (as it's often said) had very little in the way of sheer newness when it was launched; rather, it polished and perfected concepts and trends started in Everquest, Dark Age of Camelot, and others. If you are willing to do a little interpretation on some leaked screenshots from the Wrath alpha, it looks like Blizzard will be adapting another feature into WoW, this one familiar from Lord of the Rings Online (and Xbox Live): achievements.

Basically, an achievement is an unlockable something, unlocked by reaching a certain goal. That's a vague definition, so here are some example goals hinted at by what's leaked out:

  • Reveal the whole map of Outland
  • Do at least one daily quest a day for five days
  • Get a character to level 80 on both factions

Achievements are clearly not yet implemented, even in the beta; many of the numbers in the screenshots are placeholder values, and the rewards for completing the achievements, whatever they may be, are completely unknown. It does look like there is a point system – the UI implies that each of the above achievements is rewarded with 50 points – but what might these points be used to purchase? Well, gear, most likely, but it's also possible that they may be a way to get prestige items, like special mounts or titles. Either way, I welcome yet another advancement path; more importantly, achievements are just plain fun!

Filed under: Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors, Achievements

Breakfast Topic: What's the big deal with the Alpha?

If you're like me, you probably geek out at every bit of news that leaks out from the Wrath of the Lich King Alpha. Granted, there really aren't supposed to be any, but we fanboys take whatever we can. The curious thing is, what's the big deal? It's a game that was announced almost a year ago and doesn't look like it will come out anytime soon. Furthermore, the biggest things about the expansion such as the Death Knight hero class and Inscription profession has already been revealed.

But every little thing stokes the fires of anticipation -- at least for me -- and even silly things like icons of items make my stupidly grin. Never mind that Blizzard has put a tight lid on everything, or at least tried, but it's kind of like Apple trying to put a lid on the iPhone before it came out. Everyone knew it was coming even though Apple wanted to keep it a secret, but in the end, people snapped it up anyway. Wrath of the Lich King is kind of like that. We scrape and claw for every little bit of information, from spells to screenshots to images of possible armor sets.

It's a huge deal for me because as much as I still enjoy playing the game now, I'm really hungry for something more. The only thing I'll ever see in Sunwell Plateau is Kil'jaeden's 'welcome' doormat. Maybe. So while the Alpha might be scraps as far as information goes, I'm devouring every bit of information like a famished man. How about you? Are you excited about information leaking from the Alpha? Does it whet your appetite for Wrath of the Lich King? What information are you most concerned about?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

The Brewfest Kodo and what it may mean for WotLK's release date

Tipster Graffias pointed out an exciting find in the latest leaked Alpha files for WoTLK: An Icon for a Brewfest Kodo. You may recall that last year's Brewfest included a Ram mount that was purchasable with tickets by both sides, allowing the Horde very easy access to an Alliance mount with a few days of grinding for Brewfest Prize Tickets. Many Alliance weren't happy with this, annoyed that the Horde got such easy access to an Alliance mount without having to kill Baron Rivendare or a Troll a couple hundred times. Bornakk decided that the best way to answer this criticism would be by promising the Alliance that the Horde would be getting access to yet another previously alliance-only mount skin in the Cenarion War Hippogryph. Of course, Kisirani, being as awesome as she is, later said that we should have patience and things would work out in the end.

Listening to the words of the world designer seem to have paid off, as it looks like the Dwarves are going to turn the tables on the Goblins this year and steal some Kodos from them. I can finally fulfill my dream of owning my very own Kodo. My Night Elf Druid is from Kalimdor after all, and you would think there would be some Night Elves who decided to domesticate Kodos as beasts of burden too.

But really, as much as I am looking forward to grabbing myself a Kodo (and seeing a tiny Gnome riding around on a huge beast of burden), what's really exciting is this thought: If the Brewfest is in late September to early October, does that mean Blizzard is planning to give us WoTLK by September, Brewfest Kodo and all?

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Blizzard, News items, Expansions, Mounts, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

New tier gear video

Fresh from the alpha leaks that have been coming our way is a new video posted on Vimeo that shows new Wrath of the Lich King gear for Hunters, Mages, Priests, Rogues, and Warlocks. We don't know what tier level (ie: 7.5, 8, 9) this gear is for, but we do know that it fits the overall model of previous tier gear.

When you watch the video you'll notice that not everything is done yet. Obviously, this is because the game is still in alpha. And remember that these models could be completely thrown out and replaced with something different. My personal favorite is the rogue gear.

Give it a watch and get yourself some of these juicy alpha leaks!

Filed under: Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Warlock, Wrath of the Lich King

Alpha: DK mount, starting gear?


More delicious rumors are starting to surface regarding what the Death Knight starts out with. Recall that he springs fully armed like Athena from Eastern Plaguelands (which when you think about it is kind of the forehead of Azeroth; it is, at least, a giant headache), and we were told earlier that he will come with the ability to summon a normal-speed mount. Well, rest easy: from what I'm seeing, it seems that mount does indeed greatly resemble the Baron's Deathcharger (Baron's mount pictured; to see the DK mount, look here). And there was much rejoicing.

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Filed under: Items, Mounts, Death Knight, Wrath of the Lich King

Alpha: Changes to existing abilities

Some kind soul just dropped by the Wrath alpha wiki and posted a whole slew of purported changes to existing spells and talents, slated for Wrath. I trust these changes even less than the usual alpha information I see floating around (hence the "rumors" category on this post), but other people on that wiki's community do seem to be verifying them. And they do jive with what you can see at this site, for what that's worth. Of course, even if they are really what's showing up in the alpha, they have a long ways and a lot of change to go before Wrath goes live.

There's a lot of interesting, strange, and flat-out unlikely stuff on there. As usual, for the full list of alleged changes go look at the wiki. Here are some of my reactions:

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Filed under: Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

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