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I'm so bored with the Horde

This isn't a rant about how the Horde is bad, or how you should feel bad for playing them, or anything. If you like playing Horde, I'm not arguing that you're wrong to do so. I know that's a subjective thing, and some folks just plain like specific Horde races better. This is more about how, after Mists of Pandaria, I'm completely exhausted as a player with Horde stories and the Horde/Alliance conflict. I'm not inherently opposed to Horde/Alliance conflict. In fact, I think it made Mists of Pandaria a very strong expansion, with a strong and interesting story. I especially liked patch 5.1, and played both the Horde and Alliance storylines.

And frankly, that was the last time any of my Horde characters got any serious play.

Since 5.1 I've felt myself shifting away from the Horde. Part of that was going back to raiding on my draenei warrior, of course. But a bigger part of it was simple ennui, and a general culture shift in the Horde that left me feeling totally unable to connect to it. When I rolled my first Horde characters (an orc shaman and tauren warrior back in vanilla days) there was a real, concrete tone shift when I played them vs, when I played my Alliance characters. A sense of desperate odds, of outcasts banding together to stand against a hostile world, facing off against a monolithic power.

That's gone. It's probably gone forever. Even after the events of Mists of Pandaria, it's impossible to view the faction that banded together from the events of Warcraft III as the same entity anymore - over the course of two expansions, the Horde went from underdogs to aggressors. And while I've heard many players say things like "the orcs are not the whole Horde" to attempt to distance ourselves, fact is, my tauren did the quests in Twilight Highlands. My blood elf led the charge onto Pandaria's shores, and he stole the Divine Bell so that Garrosh could make use of it. Up until patch 5.3, if you played Horde, there was no real way to not aid Garrosh's cause - you were complicit in everything that helped make the Warchief's plan work. The orcs may not be the whole Horde, but what excuse does that give your pandaren or forsaken, when they're the ones who delivered the keys to the kingdom into Garrosh's hands?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor

Feedback and what it does and doesn't do

For as long as I've been playing World of Warcraft (which is as long as it's been around) one thing I've seen over and over again is the constant debate between players about the forums and what they're for. Blizzard has stated repeatedly that they listen to player concerns and take feedback very seriously, but they've also stated that they don't design by committee. Still, we've seen design choices made with the player base and its reactions in place - Mists of Pandaria had a far more engaging and active endgame than did Cataclysm, and it evolved over the course of the expansion in response to player reaction. Similarly, many credit (or blame) the steep increase in difficulty in heroic dungeons between the end of Wrath of the Lich King and the neginning of Cataclysm on fanbase complaints.

One question that seems to get asked a lot is does anyone at Blizzard care about the forums, which to my mind is a strange question to ask given the evidence I just cited. Clearly, player feedback (and not just from the forums, either) is something that Blizzard pays a lot of attention to. CM Takralus gave a brief on what, exactly, the CM's do with player feedback on the forums and how it is brought to the devs' attention.

Let's talk a bit about feedback. When is it useful and when isn't it useful?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore

The useless distinction between casual and hardcore
If the words 'casual' and 'hardcore' ever had a useful role in determining the differences between players in World of Warcraft, and I am not convinced they ever did, they no longer do. A player who wants to have an alt of every single class at max level and makes that happen is not playing the game casually even if she never raids. A player who collects several hundred pets and levels many of them through pet battles, or has a similarly high number of mounts, or determines to go out and get every cooking recipe in the game (including Dirge's Kickin' Chimeraok Chops which you can't even get anymore but somehow he finds a way) is playing the game very seriously indeed.

Quite frankly, despite the fact that I raid a set schedule, I often feel like I'm significantly more 'casual' than many players who never raid at all. I know I play a lot less - I definitely do not log on every day, I don't run LFR unless I missed a boss in normal (because I want a shot at my Secrets of the Empire off of that boss) and I don't do pet battles, farm, or even do daily quests anymore. So with my roughly fifteen hours of WoW a week, 12 of it spent inside a raid and the other three futzing about older raids for transmog gear, am I casual or hardcore? And does it matter?

Ordinarily I'd explore the answer in the paragraphs to come. But frankly, the answer is no. It doesn't matter. It is so far from mattering that the light from it mattering won't reach us for fifty thousand years. What matters is finding out what players want to do with their time and letting them do it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Mists of Pandaria

When things get better

When things get better
There's no other way to put it - I was not having fun in World of Warcraft the past couple of months.

A big chunk of that was my personal health woes, which are what they are and have nothing to do with the game. Since those have eased up, it's not surprising that I'd enjoy the game more than I was before. But what's come to my attention is how much of that "not having fun" had nothing to do with the game itself, nor my personal situation, but one person. One person in my guild made the game not fun for me. What's really amazing is, I only figured this out once that person wasn't around to ruin my good time.

Daily quests? I've been doing them like gangbusters this week - to the point where, on some days I actually had to go back to Cataclysm content because I ran out of dailies to do. Heroic dungeons? Yup. Scenarios? Double yup. Raids? Been in the thick of 'em, and even increased my performance. Leveling alts? Yes I have. The only thing I haven't done is LFR, and that's because I don't need anything from it. I even hit up Sha of Anger, and I haven't looked at that guy in 2013.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

When players cross the line to harassment

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Sometimes, despite our best efforts at being pleasant and respectful, we run into "that guy." You may or may not know who they are. They may be male. They may be female. They may be young or old. But the one thing they are, no matter who they are, is rude, inconsiderate, and possibly a little scary. It seems odd that someone could be considered frightening in the context of a video game full of fanciful creatures made up of millions of pixels, but harassment exists, and it's not a laughing matter.

I hate using my ignore button. I'm one of those people who lives in a fantasy land where I assume and am forever hopeful that people can talk things out like two reasonable adults and come to a mutual, satisfactory conclusion about things. I hate stopping the flow of conversation, because I believe that everything can be worked out in due time as long as people are being reasonable.

Unfortunately, I've had to use that ignore button on more than one occasion, and I've had to deal with people who were anything but reasonable over the course of the seven years I've played this game. When someone crosses the line from reasonable to threatening, there is a distinct course of action a player should take.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

15 Minutes of Fame: In search of fascinating players

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

We're looking for fascinating people! 15 Minutes of Fame is on the lookout for people who've managed to work WoW into or around their lives or play the game in new and interesting ways. Know someone who fits the bill? Is there a type of player you'd like to hear more about? Tell us!

I know this guy ... Know someone exceptional? It could be someone who plays the game in an interesting way or has achieved remarkable goals in game, or it could be someone who does something interesting outside of the game and manages to bring those ideas and perspectives to the game. Maybe you don't know this player personally, but you know about their accomplishments in game or out and are curious to learn more about their approach to World of Warcraft. Tip us off -- maybe we'll feature your nominee! Tell us in one paragraph what makes your nominee a remarkable WoW player. (We've met a lot of inspirational guild leaders in our time; if you're going to nominate a GM, give us specific examples of what makes this leader stand out from so many others.) Send us your tips, including a way or at least an idea of how to reach your nominee, to lisa@wowinsider.com.

Looking for members Is your guild planning to hit Cataclysm content completely blind -- no spoilers, no strats, no foreknowledge of what's to come? We want to hear from you! But wait -- blind raiders are far from the only players we're searching for. We're looking for a whole host of different types of players for a possible turn in the 15 Minutes of Fame spotlight. Hit the jump to find out if you might know (or be!) any of the players we're currently seeking.

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Filed under: 15 Minutes of Fame

Dungeon Finder reactions from players

The long-awaited Dungeon Finder is finally out on the servers, and people have had a few days with it now, so let's jump in and gauge some early reactions. Overall, it seems to be a big hit -- tanks and healers are jumping into groups right away, and while we've heard of longer waits for DPS, it doesn't seem bad at all. While of course the initial flood of people brought instance servers down (I'd expect to see the same thing happen during peak time this weekend), everything seems to be working well since then: disenchanters are correctly dropping items out, loot is getting distributed correctly, and groups are doing what they were always supposed to do: rake in the badges and rewards for players.

Hots and Dots actually has a long take on the Dungeon Finder, including "15 Things You Should Know," like that tanks and healers are still as important as ever (if you sign up for DPS and another role, you likely won't be doing DPS), and that we're finding out very quickly just how skilled or knowledgeable people really are ("the Party Leader will be forced to confess midway [through] that they actually know nothing about the instance").

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Raiding, Leveling

Taiwanese player earns all of the achievements

Yes, that's right, all of them. You've probably heard about this already (we're a little late to the party, just because it seemed a little fishy to us at first), but a player in Taiwan has an Armory profile that claims he (or she, though the character is a male tauren druid) has achieved all 986 achievements available in the current version of World of Warcraft. That's everything, from Loremaster, to all the ToGC Tributes, to the Pilgrim's Bounty holiday rewards, even Insane in the Membrane. If there's something you can do in WoW, this guy seems to have done it. He hasn't finished this year's Winter's Veil achievement yet (it's not actually possible until the 15th), but he has done a PvP achievement twice, apparently, so he's still 986/986.

I'm still a little doubtful: as you can see above, the Feats of Strength bar looks like it's empty, but this guy actually has lots of Feats done as well, including all of the realm first feats (including First Aid, and Leatherworking, all within days of each other). It just doesn't seem possible that one character could do all of that. But it all seems to check out, so we'll give him his due: Congratulations, "Littlegray" of Wrathbringer. And just in case you hadn't heard: there are other games to play.

Update: I thought Insane in the Membrane was an achievement, but it is actually a Feat, and he does not have it. Thanks commenters for the clarification.

Filed under: Tauren, Druid, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Achievements

Local paper profiles TCG $50k winner

This is cool -- after local paper the Winter Park/Maitland Observer (near Orlando, Florida) heard that the winner of Upper Deck's last WoW TCG World Championships was from the same area, they went and found him, fittingly, in a game store. William Postlewaite, a.k.a. Billy P, won $50,000 just for playing the WoW Trading Card Game very, very well.

While there's not a lot of info on the actual mechanics behind his win (this is a local paper, after all), it's very interesting to get a look at the player himself -- he works at the game store while going to school to learn finance, and spent about two months testing decks of cards with a friend before he found the one that he thought could go all the way. And what's he doing with all of his winnings? He's planning to buy a house. Smart play. You always hear about these wild sums being won by card game players -- good to know that this set of winnings is going to what seems like a good guy.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Making money, WoW TCG

Survey says 15% of overall gameplay time is in an MMO

Our friends at Joystiq reported on this fascinating survey by GamesIndustry.com that broke down responses from 13,000 US and EU citizens about how they spend their gaming time. While they don't have specific numbers for World of Warcraft, the survey says [PDF link] that overall, 15% of gaming time is spent playing MMOs. US players spend about 14% of their gaming time on MMOs, while EU players range from 8% to 16% by country. In the EU, 14% of all players have played an MMO, and in the US, 21% of everyone playing games has played a massively multiplayer online game.

Again, these numbers aren't specifically for World of Warcraft (and because the survey went down to age 8 and up, they do include the vast virtual worlds aimed at children, like Club Penguin and Disney's Toontown, which probably throw the numbers off quite a bit), but they do show the effect that WoW has had on the gaming population over the last five years. Five years ago, MMOs were definitely a niche -- some hardcore gamers played them, but most people didn't have the Internet connections to play an online game, much less pay a subscription for one. Nowadays, MMOs represent over one out of every ten minutes of overall playtime, and those numbers are only going to go up.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Quests, Leveling

Defeating the anxiety of running your first instance

One of my favorite WoW blogs, HoTs and DoTs, has a great post up about Dungeon Groups 101 -- the very basics of running instances. You may think that there's nothing more basic to the game than getting in an instance with four people and taking down a few bosses and trash, but you'd be surprised. Even in a social game like this, one of the first hurdles newbies have to deal with is joining a group to play together. They worry that they'll do things wrong and that other people will make fun of what they're wearing or playing, and that worry keeps them from enjoying my absolute favorite part of the game.

Cassandri's writeup is an excellent read for anyone who feels that way (and feel free to pass on this post to any friends or relatives you know who've been too leery to join an instance yet). She does do some basic knowledge stuff in there, just hints on the classes and what they can all do -- and our WoW Rookie posts will help out with that stuff too -- but more importantly, she says what lots of new players need to hear: that messing up in an instance isn't that big a deal, and that playing together with others (which is the reason why we're all playing an MMO rather than a single player game in the first place) is more than worth getting past any anxiety around joining a group. I've read a lot of comments like the one Cassandri quotes in her post, too, and I'm here to tell you: if you haven't run an instance yet, it's time to stop worrying about what it'll be like and give it a try.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Instances, Bosses

Ghostcrawler and the "hybrid tax"

Ghostcrawler has put a significant sticky up on the forums about what he calls the "hybrid tax" in terms of PvE play -- there's been some back and forth lately on the forums about hybrid classes and what they should and shouldn't be able to do, and GC wants to put any confusion about what Blizzard intends "hybrids" to be to rest. Very basically, he says that there are three roles in the game (tanking, healing, and DPS), and if a class can respec to perform a different role, it's considered a hybrid class. Otherwise, it's a "pure" class. This means a few things: pure classes, he says, should have slightly higher DPS ("all things being equal," and when does that ever happen?), because they don't have the option to switch out. There's no rule as to how much better that is, but as a tradeoff of rerolling being the only way for "pures" to switch, they get to be a little better. That's the "hybrid tax," and mages, hunters, rogues, and warlocks don't have to pay it.

Hybrids, however, do, and that means that paladins, druids, priests, shamans, and to a certain extent, warriors and death knights, will in Blizzard's view never be able to equal "pure" classes in terms of DPS output, with everything else being equal. You may love your ret pally, and he may be in uber gear, but he should never be able to pour out as much damage as an equally specced and geared hunter, because you can switch to healing, and the hunter can't.

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Mage, Paladin, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warlock, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Raiding, Classes, Death Knight

Garrosh, a raid boss?


I don't necessarily agree with everything we highlight here on WoW.com, but just because a post seems wrong doesn't mean it isn't interesting to talk about. Such is the case with Loregy's latest post -- they suggest that after all is said and done, the much beloved (whoops, not) Garrosh Hellscream will end up at the wrong end of our weapons. They say that the big fight between Garrosh and Thrall (rudely interrupted by the Wrath of the Lich King) means that Garrosh is in for a whooping at some future point. Matt basically said as much in his post a while back -- Garrosh is a flawed hero, to say the least, and it's likely that sometime here, those flaws are going to catch up with him, possibly in the form of us players.

Now of course whether that's true or not is an entirely different question from whether that's what you want or not. Kisirani has already said that there are sides of Garrosh we haven't seen yet, and Blizzard could go either way with him -- either put him through some troubles and teach him to learn some lessons (right now the guy is pretty dumb), or do what Loregy is suggesting and turn him into a raid boss (wouldn't be the first faction leader with such a fate, to be honest). Personally, I think Garrosh is headed for a little redemption -- all he really needs, to my mind, is a little experience and humility, and, as I understand it, war can teach those pretty well.

Filed under: Horde, Orcs, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs

Interview with Paul Sams, Steelers owner


As we reported the other week, Blizzard COO Paul Sams is now co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers (who are stepping up lately), and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette hit up Mr. Sams for a quick interview about being at the intersection of Azeroth and Steeler Nation. Turns out the man who collects everything Blizzard has also been a Steelers fan since he was four years old, even though he's from California. And we were right with all of the speculation: he got connected with the Steelers management through Legendary Pictures producer Thomas Tull, and when the chance came to own part of the franchise, he jumped.

They also talk about expanding out to Carnagie Mellon University -- Blizzard has a thriving educational program in Irvine, but Sams says that they are looking to expand that, so Pittsburgh is a possibility. And finally, he says that the Warcraft movie is being scripted at the moment -- Sam Raimi will do Spider-man 4, and then it's all Azeroth for him. In the meantime, let's see about getting some of this Steelers news in the game -- even if we can't get an epic football to toss around, surely we'll at least see a Tauren somewhere named "Bill COW-her," right?

Filed under: Virtual selves, Blizzard, Humor, NPCs, Interviews

Jante Law and player psychology


Larisa over at the Pink Pigtail Inn has been posting some really interesting things about psychology and the World of Warcraft lately. The other week she wrapped up a little survey (along with the folks at Dreambound) about personalities of players and how they correspond to the roles they play in game, and this week she's got a little analysis up about something called the Jante Law, developed by a Norwegian author for a novel back in the 1930s. You can read the whole idea on her page or over on Wikipedia, but basically it all boils down to one "rule" for overseeing each individual member of a community: "Don't think that you are more special than us."

She applies the law to the WoW community at large, and says that without knowing it, comment trolls and those who attack people who differentiate themselves on the forums (including the folks who caused Ghostcrawler to rethink his role there) are following this law, and attacking those who stick their neck out as different. Personally, I don't know that the "haters" in the community give it that much thought -- most of the time when they do attack others, they do it to try and build themselves up rather than enforce any community standard ("You've won 1,000 AV matches? Big deal, I win in there all the time.").

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

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