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Posts with tag npcs

NPC pathing and the living virtual world

In the early days of vanilla WoW, I played Alliance. It wasn't until after hitting 60 that I began playing Horde in earnest. Although I appreciated the bare, rough-and-tumble primitive nature of Orgrimmar, I always felt there was something missing -- namely, the NPCs that happily wandered Stormwind all day long. Orgrimmar didn't really have much of that sort of thing, back then. And of all the NPCs that wandered the human capital, none captured my attention so much as Ol' Emma.

Emma was at the time part of a quest chain that took place in the Western Plaguelands -- a ghost in the upper level of a house in Felstone Field asked players to deliver a package to her. But Emma's charms weren't just wrapped into that quest. Ol' Emma spent her days -- and still spends her days -- walking the streets of Stormwind. I first found her walking to the well near the flight path in Stormwind, griping about how nobody respects their elders. Laughing, I moved on, but months later on a whim I decided to follow Ol' Emma to see exactly where she takes all that water she's been supposedly hauling. To my surprise, Emma walking into a building near Cathedral Square, went up the stairs, and ... stopped, facing a wall, still talking to nobody in particular.

Unfortunately, this was kind of par for the course for NPCs back then.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

WoW Moviewatch: What Are NPCs Thinking 4

The master of comedic commentary is back with What Are NPCs Thinking 4. It's a few minutes of hilarious interpretation of some of WoW's most iconic characters. Not the big ones like kings and war chiefs. No, this is that smug, self-satisfied snake statue or that clever auction goblin. This is probably my favorite Wowcrendor series; I don't think they get old.

I've always wondered what those ogres had in mind with their peculiar standing places. That's just not safe behavior. Ogres aren't the smarter critters in Azeroth, but you would think some basic self-preservation instinct might take over.
Interested in the wide world of machinima? We have new movies every weekday here on WoW Moviewatch! Have suggestions for machinima we ought to feature? Toss us an email at moviewatch@wowinsider.com.


Filed under: WoW Moviewatch

Breakfast Topic: Who's the new star of the expansion?


You saved the wee turtles! I hope you gently, lovingly kicked them as hard as you possibly could.
Even though Cataclysm signified death and disaster for many beloved NPCs, the expansion introduced many, many others to take their places -- like Mylune, pictured above. Mylune is pretty much my favorite new NPC this expansion, because you really can't do a quest for Mylune without cracking up at her quest text and reactions to your efforts to save all the beloved little animals of Hyjal. Mylune's not just a dryad -- she's got big personality that is reflected through every word of quest text.

But she's not the only one. Take, for example, Johnny Awesome over in Hillsbrad Foothills -- or any of the three "players" you encounter during the Welcome to the Machine quest, really. All of them are reflections of us, in a hysterical, larger-than-life way. Or Lorna Crowley, who introduced herself in Gilneas City with a flower in her hair and a shotgun in her hands. Or Salhet, the weak link in the Tol'vir army who tries his best, even if he isn't amazing at hand-to-hand combat.

There were tons of new NPCs introduced with Cataclysm, but Mylune stands out as one of my favorites, just because she makes me recall the first time I ever clicked on a dryad in vanilla WoW and was greeted with a cheery "Hi there!" in reply. Do you have a favorite NPC that was introduced with Cataclysm? Who stands out in your mind?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: What NPC do you miss the most?

While I was writing last Sunday's Know Your Lore, I started thinking about the world of Azeroth and how much it's changed with Cataclysm. I think one of the most poignant moments of the new expansion for me was playing through the new Darkshore, honestly. Darkshore was one of the zones I leveled in with my very first character way back in vanilla -- and to be perfectly honest, the zone totally stank. I hated almost every minute of it. The running back and forth was ridiculous, and please don't get me started about the Tower of Althalaxx or The Sleeper Has Awakened.

Yet despite the pains of leveling up in the area, despite the soul-crushing annoyance of Deep Ocean, Vast Sea and other quests, I was sort of attached to these NPCs that were sending me on all these wretched missions. And when I played through Darkshore in Cataclysm and saw so many of those old faces dying or gone, it was almost heartbreaking in a way. Which I'm sure is exactly as intended, but there's a part of me that wistfully wishes I could see those old faces again.

I think the NPC I miss the most is Mr. Smite from The Deadmines, pictured above. I mentioned it briefly in Know Your Lore, too. The Deadmines was the first instance I ever ran, and the moment I blew open the doors and first set eyes on a pirate ship in the middle of a mountain was one I really won't ever forget. Part of that moment was Smite's bellow of alarm and the subsequent rush of pirates. Plus Smite's encounter, in which he Warstomped and stunned players long enough to go dig up a bigger, better weapon for smushing, was one of the more memorable encounters from the vanilla instances.

Is this something you've thought about? Are there any NPCs you were particularly attached to? In an expansion where so many are long gone and will never been seen again, which NPCs do you miss the most?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: Would you vote-kick that NPC from your party?

Pokey-slow NPCs on escort quests have long been the butt of player jokes, but with more extensive NPC participation in the patch 4.3 5-mans, I've started wondering if things are going from bad to worse. Shortly after patch 4.3 hit, I wrote on Twitter that Tyrande, Illidan, and Malfurion in the Well of Eternity are all shining examples of players who would be vote-kicked from the average PUG.

Really! Think about it:
  • Tyrande runs out of arrows, still manages to pull aggro, and then stops DPSing entirely past a certain point during the Mannoroth fight.
  • Illidan thinks he's leet and never shuts up, and he's also the archetypal Go Guy from Wowcrendor's How to win at PUGs and Gear Score.
  • Malfurion goes AFK before the boss fight and then (conveniently enough) shows up while loot is being distributed.
So does this mean that the average person with a bit of common sense is a better player than three major lore figures? I think it kinda does. This is not to say that all NPC participation in your questing or 5-mans is bad (Anduin Wrynn during the Alliance's pre-Twilight Highlands quests is pretty cool), but I hope this isn't a sign of more to come. Oh, and Thrall -- epic ground mounts are not expensive these days. You have no excuse.

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Know Your Lore: NPC evolution from Wrath to Cataclysm and beyond

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Wrath of the Lich King saw the introduction of several elements that furthered the incorporation of lore into the game. Phased quest chains allowed players to actually see their effect on the zones. Cinematic cutscenes made it feel like you were playing through a movie. The faction leaders of the world were suddenly far more active than they'd ever been before. But those were the major, blowout moments that made the storytelling work. What most didn't quite recognize were the subtle efforts of the lowly NPC.

In classic WoW, players literally had to walk up to NPCs and speak to them to engage them in conversation. In The Burning Crusade, that changed slightly -- NPCs now recognized players as they walked by, according to their reputation. In Wrath, suddenly NPCs were not only recognizing players, but they were whispering players, recognizing players. Prior efforts by a player were acknowledged, even if it was just a simple "I remember you."

What Wrath of the Lich King began was a revolution in WoW gameplay that would spin into full-out overdrive with the launch of Cataclysm. The lowly NPC was no longer an unimportant figure; he was a comrade in arms, a fellow hero, or a taskmaster -- and he made certain to let you know it.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Know Your Lore: NPC evolution from TBC to Wrath of the Lich King

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

Last week, we talked about the evolution of NPCs from classic WoW to The Burning Crusade. It was a quiet beginning to the evolution, starting with just a few NPCs in classic WoW that spawned world-altering events like The Great Masquerade. But in The Burning Crusade, we not only saw major movements from major-name players like Thrall, who actually got off the throne in Orgrimmar and traveled all the way to Nagrand to visit his long-lost relatives, but also minor players. These seemingly minor players gradually won the hearts of the playerbase through storylines that progressed with each patch in the expansion.

Characters like Cro, Jadaar, Asric and even the shifty Griftah weren't just NPCs. They were subtle reminders that those characters we barely interacted with had lives of their own, and it breathed a new energy into the game. Suddenly, the world wasn't just about you and whatever quest you happened to be on. It was also about Griftah's "unfair" persecution, or Cro's struggle to get that blasted fruit cart out of the way -- mundane, ordinary, everyday events, the sort of events we witness on a daily basis in the real world. Bringing the mundane to the game made Outland feel just a little more real, too.

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Filed under: Lore, Know your Lore

Breakfast Topic: Your character's quest

I like quests. I like reading quests. Sure, every now and again it's a straightforward "Please go kill x animals for y body parts and I will give you z gold," but sometimes the stories involved with the quests or the quest NPCs themselves are tremendously entertaining. Take Ragged John, for example -- while the little weirdo no longer gets to tell his epic tale, listening to his story while working on the Onyxia chain was a ... rare treat. Or one of my personal favorites, Jenal over in Darnassus. There's not much to Jenal, but the tiny bit of character interaction when you speak with him always left me wondering what exactly Jenal's full story was. As for the Horde, I always loved Valormok out in Azshara and the story of the little band of Horde that had been sent out there, especially Jediga and her little, uh, side business of stealing artifacts for people. I have to admit while I'm looking forward to seeing the "new" Azshara come Cataclysm, there's part of me that is going to miss the little wayward band.

One of the other things I like are the realm forums. Sure, there's an unending supply of depressing drama and whining. But sometimes you end up with a little chunk of gold in the middle of it all, and those gold moments make it worth trawling -- well, to me, anyway. The gold for the day today is from Nozz over on US Sisters of Elune, who brought up an old topic from way back that ties my love for quests together nicely with my love for playing the game in general: If your character were a quest giver, what would his/her quest be? The thread already has some interesting answers, but I'd love to see some answers from you guys. Would it be a straightforward "Kill 20 zhevras and pray they have hooves?" A simple request to listen to a story? A long chain sending players all over the world? Or a simple "I'm hungry; go get me some bread"? What would you give as a reward, if anything? Have at it, readers!

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Breakfast Topic: It's the little things

Hidden in the upper corner of The Threads of Fate in Dalaran is a curious little cobbler named Sheddle Glossgleam. While he seems to be an ordinary vendor, it's really the chair next to him that makes him much more entertaining -- when you sit on the chair, he'll toddle over and shine your shoes for you. This buff last for an hour -- or until you take combat or fall damage and scuff your feet. Don't worry though, a quick trip to the chair will get your toes glittering again in no time.

I love NPCs like this -- the NPCs that do curious things like punt you all the way across Azeroth, or murder unsuspecting lowbies that don't understand that right-clicking a yellow conned NPC will result in a swift punch to the face. The NPCs with stories, like the saga of Grifta from Burning Crusade, and the continuing adventures of Investigator Asric and Peacekeeper Jadaar.

While they serve no real purpose, they're always there to entertain, buff, or amuse. There's always an NPC or two that never fail to bring a smile to my face, and that I look forward to meeting on whatever alt I happen to be playing. Who's your favorite NPC? What's your favorite little thing in the game?

Filed under: Breakfast Topics

Telling a story without quest text


Tyllendel's friend had an interesting reaction to the game when he first played it: he felt that all of the quest text was unbearable, and that he wanted to play the game rather than reading what NPCs told him. We've talked a little bit about this before -- obviously, when Blizzard kicked off WoW nearly five years ago, quest text was just the way quests were done, and while Blizzard has expanded the concept a bit since, it's still mostly the way MMOs work: you go to a character, talk to them, and they tell you where to go and what to do.

But I can see Tyl's friend's point: games are much less about telling these days and more about showing. You might understand how, if you've never played an MMO before, reading the quest text can take you right out of the game, rather than running off with an NPC or having the game show you rather than just tell you what to do. And Blizzard is getting there: later in the thread Slorkuz points out the recent Afrasiabi interview, and talks about how Alex mentions new ways of doing quests. For example, the quest team is trying to do a quest with no text, or direct players' attention without actually telling them, "look here." Text is the easiest and most basic way to help players accomplish goals, but as the game moves on, even the developers realize it's not the most elegant or immersive way to do it.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Quests, Lore, NPCs

Deathwing and Arthas, and how different they'll be


Zarhym has shared a little insight about how much we'll see of the big bad Deathwing in the Cataclysm expansion. He says, rightly so, that Deathwing is a very different character from Arthas, and that while Arthas had no problem stepping in and trying to corrupt us (as he himself was corrupted) from level 71, Deathwing will be a little tougher game to play -- in his regular dragon form, he'd pretty much turn us to cinders rather than try playing mind games. When your opening gambit is to blow up the entire world, just how much subtlety do you really have?

So as Zarhym says, he'll certainly have a presence both as we level and at the farthest endgame content (his presence will at least be felt everywhere, even if he's not standing right in front of you). Medievaldragon suggests we'll see him as Daval Prestor some more, but Deathwing seems almost completely lost to rage -- my guess is that we'll see more of his servants in the Black Dragonflight poking around in human form rather than the main man himself (plus, by now you'd think anyone with the last name "Prestor" would send red flags flying in the Alliance anyway). At any rate, it's sure to be a much different experience than what we've seen of Arthas so far -- and I can't wait.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm will destroy Azeroth as we know it. Nothing will be the same. In WoW.com's Guide to Cataclysm you can find out everything you need to know about WoW's third expansion. From Goblins and Worgen to Mastery and Guild changes, it's all there for your cataclysmic enjoyment.

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

Patch 3.2: Enter Trag Highmountain


When I'm not playing WoW, I'm usually found indulging in manga and have been devouring the Warcraft series ever since the Sunwell Trilogy came out. Of all the characters introduced through comics and manga, the most tragic next to Anveena has to be Trag Highmountain. I've watched over the last year as more characters from the print franchises began to appear in-game, and there's something about seeing them translated into the game which gives me an amazing thrill.

We've met Anveena and her soul mate Kalec, Tyri and Jorad as well as Broll and that Blood Elf chick whose always hanging around Varian, so I've often wondered when Trag would turn up. It's inevitable given how his quest to Icecrown is in keeping with Wrath of the Lich King. Imagine my surprise when I logged on to the PTR for the first time this morning to find one Tauren Death Knight standing guard over one of the incapacitated forms of one of the Coliseum bosses.

Yes, it's our old friend Trag, now a level 80 NPC. While seeming hostile, he makes no move to attack the Alliance or speak, he just seems to stand near Gormok the Impaler. I'm sure he'll get some lines by the time Patch 3.2 goes live though. Having not yet read Warcraft: Legends' final volume, I'm curious to find out what happened to him but it's nice to know he's finally free of the Lich King's thrall.

Filed under: Patches, Odds and ends, News items, Lore, NPCs, Comics

Wowhead founder receives in-game homage


It seems that Blizzard snuck this one in quietly with Patch 3.1 as not a lot of people noticed, but thanks to Saithir of angrydwarfs for pointing it out. Apparently, an NPC named Loremaster Skosiris appeared at the top of Scryer's Tier in Shattrath tending to a new library of books. The NPC tends to a host of bookshelves that act as master trainers for primary and secondary professions, saying "Here I have amassed what may well be the greatest depository of lore in all of Outland. Even the grand libraries of Silvermoon City pale in comparison." Skosiris also tells players, "please... look, read, browse to your heart's content. You'll find everything organized and clearly labeled."

Why is this so cool? Well, Skosiris is the name of the founder of everybody's favorite World of Warcraft database, Wowhead. What can be a more fitting tribute than an NPC that manages, well, data! So that's what the Scryers did with all those Arcane Tomes. Blizzard has given nods to the community in the past, most notably with the NPC Breanni, who operates the pet store in Dalaran, and even to now-retired Druid blogger Phaelia, who got an item appropriately named after her. These are the tiny little touches that remind all of us that Blizzard appreciates what the gaming community does. Even though Shattrath is now a ghost town, Loremaster Skosiris and his library is a pretty good reason to drop by. When you do swing by the Scryer's tier, don't forget to bring some tacos for this librarian.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, NPCs

Scattered Shots: The Hunters of lore

Scattered Shots is your weekly guide to improving your Hunter skills, brought to you by Jessica "Lassirra" Klein of The Hunter's Mark, covering a wide variety of Huntery topics. Today, we'll be looking at some prominent historic figures in Hunter lore.

For Hunters looking to get into role playing, a good place to start is to look at the Hunters that came before you to get a feel for common themes upon which you can base your character concept. There are many prominent Hunters in Blizzard lore that spans multiple Warcraft titles, both for the Horde and the Alliance, which you can look to for inspiration. Today, I'd like to spend some time getting to know some of the great Hunters of Azeroth.

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Filed under: Hunter, Lore, Factions, RP, NPCs, (Hunter) Scattered Shots

Sunday Morning Funnies: Jammy Jam

Kissybear is back! The amazing Ding! will return and we will no longer have to cringe on Sunday mornings. Who's excited?

We also have some great comics today, including a newbie to the list that was tipped in last week's comments:

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Features, Humor, Comics, Sunday Morning Funnies

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