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WoW Archivist: Beta surprises

Death knights bomb the plaguelands
WoW Archivist explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold?

Last week, we launched into the newest beta in WoW's history -- its sixth! -- for Warlords of Draenor. It's an exciting time for the game. Every beta has its surprises, good and bad. New things that were never announced. Prior announcements that changed unexpectedly. We've already had a number of surprises in the Warlords beta: the faction hub shift to Ashran, cross-faction auctions, and the removal of guild leveling.

Beta is just ramping up. We are sure to encounter more than one surprise over the next few months as we test the Draenor experience and gear up for the expansion's launch. Let's take a look back at the previous five betas and examine some of the twists that greeted testers -- and often shocked the WoW community. Caveat: I'm excluding storyline surprises.

The original beta

In 2003 and early 2004, players didn't really know what to expect from a World of Warcraft MMO. Blizzard, after all, had never made one before. Most of the original beta served up surprise after surprise. Yet, a few stand out.

Tired heroes. Patch 0.6 introduced the first incarnation of the rest system. Today it is simply a bonus for players who don't have time to log in every day. The original version was more like the Chinese government's "anti-obsession measures": it punished you for playing too long. The system looked like this:
  • Well rested gave 200% of the XP from a mob kill
  • Rested gave between 100% and 200% XP
  • Normal gave 100% XP
  • Fatigued gave 50% XP
  • Exhausted gave 25% XP
Your hero needed a good night's rest -- a full eight hours at an inn -- to go from exhausted to normal.

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Filed under: The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, WoW Archivist

Why a week-long NDA for the MoP press event?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

From what we can gather, the first half of March is going to be a fun time for Diablo III fans with a teased announcement, and the second half of March will be devoted to the Mists of Pandaria press tour's kick-off and information dump. We're all waiting patiently like good little boys and girls, mere hours from a large, gift-giving morning event, stirring and shaking with happy excitement. Well, too bad -- because once information is gathered by fan sites and news outlets, you've got to wait a week before the goods get gotten. Blizzard has stated that there will be a week-long NDA after the beginning of the Mists of Pandaria press event.

NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) are a staple of the video game industry. To understand the NDA is to understand the very unique relationship the video game industry has with its fan community. Many will enter this conversation brazenly, proclaim the absurdity of a system based on hype and advertisements of the same product being reported on, and exit stage right. There are problems with the system. The system is also young, naive, and growing into its own -- we have a long time to shape it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

WotLK Alpha NDA lifted

Nethaera posted in the beta forums that the NDA for the Wrath of the Lich King Alpha has been lifted. In response to a question asking if people could share things from the Alpha, Neth says "Feel free to discuss at will." This is great news for everyone that wants to talk about the alpha material legally. Those who've been part of the Alpha will get to post troves of information and stories that they've collected. I'm sure some of them will be going up on WoW Insider soon enough, and these will only expand as beta invites become more active.

The Alpha NDA was a source of tension for a lot of people, especially those in the Alpha. Several set up or contributed to sites like DeathKnight.info and WotlkWiki.com. It was very difficult, if not impossible, for Blizzard to enforce the NDA. However they were successful in forcing WotLKWiki.com to relocate.

It will be interesting to see what the repercussions of the lifted NDA end up to be. One thing is for sure though, and that's that we're starting to see new and exciting information about WotLK come out minute by minute. Stay tuned!

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

US registration for Wrath beta now open


US accounts are now able to access the beta registration from https://www.worldofwarcraft.com/account/beta-opt-in.html and opt-in for the Wrath of the Lich King beta. EU accounts saw this feature implemented a short time ago. It looks like the leak from the German Community Manager Gnorog is holding up to be true.

Remember that when you opt in, you are not guaranteed a spot, and you will likely not get an email inviting you to the beta right away. Instead your name will go into a pool of players who will then be chosen for the beta. That's why they call it opting in.

This is a good time to remain vigilant about email scams and other malicious programs that might try to get your user name, password, and other account information. Never share these with anyone other than official worldofwarcraft.com websites.

If the beta invites do start going out soon, expect us at WoW Insider to let our friends and families know what's really important this holiday weekend: bringing everyone late breaking WotLK news, all while enjoying their finely cooked BBQ food. I'll take two burgers to go with jalapeno cheese and a Corona.
WoW Insider has the latest Wrath information for you including a list of the Death Knight spells, abilities and talents demo'd at last weekend's WWI in Paris, as well as complete write ups of all the Wrath WWI panels with analysis.

Filed under: News items, Features, Wrath of the Lich King

Breaking: Wrath of the Lich King is in alpha

We had some hints that this would happen soon and now WoW Insider has confirmed through anonymous sources that the next expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, is in closed alpha status, and that various players are being invited to check it out, under a strict NDA.

Alpha is part of the software release life cycle -- a software product in development goes from alpha status to beta status (sometimes including a "closed beta," where a limited few are invited to preview and test the software, and an "open beta,", where anyone can download and try out the beta), to "release candidates" and then "gold" (the final version, used to print the media to be available for sale). This doesn't tell us anything about the timing of the expansion's release (especially since Blizzard historically takes their time going through this cycle), but it does tell us that Wrath's content is in a playable and mostly completed form -- quests, game mechanics, and items are in, even if specific flavor text, names, and even textures are not.

We'll keep an eye, as usual, on any other news we see coming out of Blizzard, through official or unofficial channels. Wrath of the Lich King, the second expansion of World of Warcraft, is in alpha testing. The journey to Northrend has begun.

Update: A word to the wise: this is not an open beta, and any email or site that tells you to sign up for one is still scamming you. When open beta comes down, we'll hear about it on Blizzard's official site. This is just news that the next expansion has moved up a notch in its development, and that we're one step closer to an official open beta.


Check out more information on WoW's upcoming expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, including a look at the new Death Knight class and the new creatures that infest Northrend.

Filed under: Blizzard, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

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