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Divining just what that "non-personal system information" might be

As Eliah noted the other day, Blizzard is running another hardware survey -- your WoW client will be sending them information about what kinds of hardware are in your computer. They've done this before, and as you may have realized, this type of information helps them determine system requirements for future games. A few people have already speculated that they're testing the waters for another WoW expansion, but I doubt any expansion is that far along in the process yet: my guess is that this latest round of hardware testing is actually being done for final calibration on Starcraft II, due out this fall. Blizzard doesn't share this hardware information with us, but Valve, another company that has a really wide install base with its Steam service, does release regular information about the kinds of computers its games are running on.

There is, of course, another question here: do we really want Blizzard jumping in and taking this information from us? There aren't any obvious reasons to protect this information (most computers will give it up to any Internet-connected application without issue), but you never know: do you really want Blizzard checking out what's on your hard drive or what accessories you've hooked up to your computer? We'd presume that they don't dive into software information (like checking your computer's HD for signs of competing MMO installs), but certainly they could. The list of what they check includes: "CPU, RAM, operating system, video, audio, HD/CD/DVD, and network connection," but we don't know if that's everything or not (the Terms of Use, under "XVIII Acknowledgements" says something similar). And as Blizzard's alert says, while we do get a momentary notification that this information is being sent, users who have merged their Battle.net accounts will no longer even see that flash of a message, even though their info is still being sent. The ToS says Blizzard doesn't have to notify us of the survey, but they have in the past anyway.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware, Account Security

Tracking dead bosses in the instance you step into

As you will have noticed by now if you've entered an instance in progress since patch 3.1, Blizzard's new binding notification system is in effect. Whenever you join an instance in which bosses have already been killed, you get a warning that staying in there will bind you to that instance -- thus hopefully preventing you from accidentally sticking to an instance you don't like.

However, as a few players have noted, there's still some functionality missing there. While the notification will tell you that bosses have been killed, it won't yet tell you which ones, so a malicious or confused guild could invite you a Naxx in which only one wing has been downed, when really all they've got left is Sapphiron and KT (or no bosses at all, if they really wanted to ruin your week). Fortunately, Zarhym agrees, and says that discussion about adding a little bit to the notification is incoming. It seems a little bit weird to just have a list of killed bosses on your screen when you first walk into the instance, but maybe they could add some sort of "boss tracker" to the instance maps, where you could see at a glance what was going on in any instance you join.

As a few other people say in the thread, most of you may never have seen this notification pop up -- if you only join instances where nothing is killed yet, you'll never see it. But for those of us who take boss kills where we can get them (in PuGs and guild runs where an opening appears), it's a nice feature to have.

Thanks, Medros!

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Forums

Forum post of the day: Check please

As evidenced by zombies and Necropoli, the time of the Lich King is nearly upon us. Most players who intend to have a copy of the game preordered have already done so. Soon we'll be zipping open our prized expansion and ready to install. Well, most of us anyway.

Zachriel of Kirin Tor found a surprise today when he checked the status of his preordered game. Without notification the complete order of two collectors editions and two regular Wrath packages had been canclled. He was upset that he did not receive any communication that his ordered had been canceled. Some suggested that it may have been an issue with a credit card or some other technical problem. Most of the posters indicated that their orders were still active. But it's time for Tuesday maintenance; could it really hurt to peek at your order status?

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King, Forums, Forum Post of the Day

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