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Posts with tag players

AGDC09: Easy voice chat for PUGs with Puggable


If all you play is World of Warcraft, then you might not have heard of Vivox -- but they're the people providing integrated voice chat solutions for EVE Online, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, Second Life, Fallen Earth, All Points Bulletin.. I'd go on, but you probably get the point. This week at AGDC, Vivox is spreading its wings with the announcement of two new web-based voice chat applications: Vivox Web Voice for Facebook and Puggable for World of Warcraft players. Though the two use the same technology, Puggable is definitely targeted at the WoW-playing audience. I had a chance to sit down and chat with Vivox about Puggable at AGDC, and, though I haven't had a chance to get hands-on time with it, I've got to say the idea has a lot of appeal.

So what do you need to do to start chatting? Just fire up your web browser, point it to Puggable.com and create a chat room for your group. To invite others, all you need to do is share a link. The site will display character stats for your player from the armory (as seen in the above screenshot) for easy viewing by your entire group. And if you wish to select the instance you're running and the boss you're going to fight, Puggable will automagically pull up links for strategies, videos, and loot. No one needs to download or configure software (unless you're playing WoW with people who don't have web browsers... but that would just be silly) and there are no passwords to remember, share, or change. I'm hesitant to say it's fool-proof, but it certainly looks like group communication and organization simplified.

Puggable is presently in closed beta (though if you're interested in testing it, you can sign up on their site) with plans for a more open beta in the next few weeks.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events

BlizzCon 2009: 15 Minutes on the Street


There are all kinds of people at BlizzCon, and the vast majority of them aren't developers or exhibitors -- they're players and Blizzard fans just like you who come out to see what Blizzard's got to show them. We spent a large amount of time this weekend talking to devs and exhibitors and gathering information, but we definitely also wanted to speak with players as well -- see what they thought of the show and how their experience went.

Of course we talked with more players than we could ever fit here -- we ended up having over 1200 people stop by our meetup on Thursday night (and I did my best to shake hands with as many of them as I could), and all weekend long, players came up to us and said hi, telling us their classes and spec and what they liked and didn't like about the show and our site. Here's four small interviews that we had with players at the show, done by Robin Torres and I. It's just one tiny look at a few people walking around the 'Con, but it should give you a little insight into what the mood was like last weekend.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Interviews, BlizzCon, 15 Minutes of Fame, Cataclysm

NPD: World of Warcraft has sold 8.6 million boxes at retail

Gamasutra has received an interesting stat from the good folks at NPD: after hearing that The Sims 3 sold over 800,000 copies in its first month, they were curious to see what kind of unit sales our own World of Warcraft has experienced. And the numbers are pretty big: among the original game and all of the expansion packs since the vanilla release over four years ago, NPD says 8.6 million boxes of WoW have been sold in the US. That's a little misleading if you're comparing it to actual subscription numbers: remember that this is over three different releases (so the actual number of all-time players, not current players, is probably 1/3 of that), and it includes different collectors' editions of each of the three game editions. So there are nowhere near 8.6 million US players of WoW -- that's just how many times players have come through the retail line with the various releases.

What that is, however, is a lot of money. Gamasutra estimates that at an average of $30 for each unit sold (the vanilla game currently retails at $20, but the expansions all sell at $40, and of course the original game was more expensive once upon a time), that's $258 million in income for Blizzard. In short, Blizzard's making a mint at the retail counter, even before they sign anyone up for subscriptions.

Then again, if you look at their own costs, those aren't insubstantial, either -- Activision's Bobby Kotick claimed that anyone starting up an MMO to compete with WoW would have to throw at least half a billion dollars into the mix just to get started, so we can presume Blizzard has spent at least $500 million on their staff, development, and hardware. So it's not like they're taking it all to the bank, though we can at least presume they're sitting firmly in the black.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Blizzard, The Burning Crusade, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

China's Ministry of Culture approves WoW content

Blizzard has been having all kinds of issues trying to bring World of Warcraft back online in China, but here's one piece of good news for them: China's Ministry of Culture has gone through the game and approved all of the content in it. They apparently were concerned about some violent content (we know they've already made changes in the past to the Undead models), but that's now been cleared, and the only thing left is final approval by the General Administration of Press and Publication. There's no date on when that might happen, but it seems that will be soon (not soon(tm), just soon).

Blizzard should be extremely happy to see these content checks cleared, as it means that they're not only that much closer to bringing the servers back online, but that they can also finally bring out Wrath of the Lich King there. The whole issue with Netease and The9 backed things up, and then these content checks were a problem, but hopefully most of the obstacles have been cleared by now, and Chinese players can soon start making their way back into the game and up to the snowy shores of Northrend.

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

Masi Oka developing MMO-related movie

Masi Oka plays the fan-favorite character Hiro on the television show Heroes, but that's not the only role he plays -- we've heard before that he's a big World of Warcraft player as well (which makes sense -- before his star turn on NBC's superhero show, he actually worked at Industrial Light and Magic developing water effects, so he's a geek at heart). And now he's using his MMO experience to create a movie: he's just signed a deal with Dreamworks to create a movie called "The Defenders," a family adventure about a group of teens playing an MMO who have to come together to have some adventures of their own. Both Oka and writer Gary Whitta are fans of WoW, so they're drawing on their experience in the game to put together the project. Oka tells the Hollywood Reporter that "the question came to me: What if you had to live up to the person you created in the virtual world?" He also cites The Goonies as an inspiration for the story, as an adventure that brings back an innocence found in those old Amblin Entertainment films.

Sounds interesting. It might be aimed a little young for the average WoW player (even The Goonies, while considered a cult classic nowadays, was really aimed at kids in the '80s), but a film that can take a good look at the comparison between our in-game selves and their real-life counterparts (and have some fun doing it) would definitely be something to see. The project's only just getting underway now, but we'll keep an eye out for it.

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

An official server for South Africa

Here's an interesting post from what looks like a site in Zaire wondering if Blizzard will ever bring World of Warcraft to South Africa. It's true -- we all take it for granted that here in North America and Europe, the game is available, but in many parts of the world, it's not. And apparently there's a market in a place like South Africa -- Blizzard says they have about five to seven thousand players down there already (we'd assume they're playing on EU or US servers), and that probably doesn't count any of the players on private servers, which could be as many as 20,000.

iGame is a division of an ISP called iBurst down there, and they say they're prepared to run an official server (within 24 hours' notice!) if Blizzard gives the OK, but Blizzard has told them that they need at least 40,000 players in the area to make it worth running an official server.

There's another option called a "peering" server, which apparently does hook up to Blizzard's servers, but uses local connections and networks to make things a little faster. But again, Blizzard needs to assent to that, and it seems like they're hesitant at the moment.

Oceanic realms have had issues for a long time, but at least the players there do have a chunk of servers dedicated to them. Are there any other major places in the world that don't have official WoW support yet? South America? India?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware

Dealing with temporary changes in-game

Larisa's got a good rant about something I've considered before in a slightly different context: players aren't very good at anticipating how temporary game changes will work out. We, as a group (not individually necessarily), are quite quick to judgment when we see changes to the game, and the word Larisa uses is "conservatism" -- she notes the examples of the reaction to the zombie outbreak and the Children's Week batleground issues, and says that players "tossed the gift away, like spoiled kids." We (again, in general, not you specifically) have a very short view of how temporary changes will affect the game, lambast Blizzard for changing what didn't need to be changed, and very often, when the dust settles and the zombies are gone or the event is over, we realize that it wasn't so bad after all.

She's not talking about class changes here -- those are more permanent changes that affect the basic rules of the game. But specifically with temporary events (I'd even throw the Brewfest controversies, and the Headless Horseman complaints in the mix), players sometimes have reactions that are way out of proportion to the events themselves. These holidays and world events are temporary: shouldn't we just enjoy them while we can?

It's definitely a valid point, and something to remember for the next time a temporary event throws off your usual routine in-game. The fact is that we players are spoiled -- Blizzard generally does a great job keeping this game fun, and so when even a little issue sneaks into the game during a temporary event. But Larisa promises that next time she gets shaken up by a temporary change, she'll give it another chance. Sounds like a great idea to me.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances

Will Ulduar break your guild?

Dueg is the first blogger I've seen to suggest this, but I feel like it's an undercurrent that's been going around since the 3.1 release last week (and we'll probably find out more when Guildwatch comes out later tonight). He suggests that Ulduar might be, of all things, a guildbreaker. Now certainly it won't be nearly as much of a roadblock as Karazhan -- not only was that a tough instance, but it was also the first one we came across in Burning Crusade, and guilds who couldn't make it in Kara had no place to turn back to (at least guilds that can't make it in Ulduar can fall back on Naxx farming). But there's no question that Ulduar requires some excellent gear and some serious tactics, and if your guild has people raiding who are missing either one of those, you're going to be hitting your head on the wall quite a bit in there.

That's not to say that it's super hard -- it's not, especially if you know not to stand in the fire and you've got the kind of gear on that lets you conquer the Heroic achievements. A lot of guilds have 25 of those people, and they're doing very well in Ulduar so far. But as Dueg says, Naxx is a casual instance, and Ulduar is not. In Naxx, you can get away with losing a few people, or having a few folks in greens along. In Ulduar, you can't.

It's not the apocalypse for guilds -- most guilds will go back to Naxx if they have trouble in Ulduar, grab a few more epics and tier pieces, and try again later. And some probably won't bother with Ulduar at all -- my casual guild is having fun just taking our time finishing Naxx wing by wing. But Ulduar seems to be where the rubber meets the road with casual raiding. If there's a guild out there who has a few lesser raiders carried along by a few high-level veterans, Ulduar's likely to cause some friction.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Guilds, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding, Bosses

QuickArmory offers localization, boss tallying

Our friends over at QuickArmory, which is a site with a whole slew of extras for parsing and checking out Armory information, have sent along a list of updates to what they've done lately. The site itself is still pretty barebones (it focuses on getting information together fast rather than flashy graphics or layouts), but they've added new details to what you can see on a character view. In addition to the usual achievements, you can mouse over the title of each instance, and it will tell you how many times the character has killed each boss that's tracked in the game.

And they've also added localization support -- next to the box where you put the character's name in, you can choose to see the site in English, German, French, Spanish, or Russian. Some of the achievements, we're told, aren't fully translated, but that's quite a feature on an "Armory lite" site.

QuickArmory isn't necessarily the most robust Armory site out there, but it's still really good at getting you lots of information on one character quickly. If you do a lot of Armory searching for PuGs or just like learning about the various characters on your server, it's definitely worth a bookmark.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King, Achievements

Sleeper Cartel hosts Spring Break 2009 in Sholazar Basin on Saturday


Our good friends in Sleeper Cartel over on Perenolde are having yet another server party -- Spring Break 2009 is taking place not in Cabo, but Sholazar Basin! As with all of these player-run events, it certainly sounds like fun: they're planning to have free food and drinks, tournaments, and games and contests of all kinds (last time around, they had trivia contests and scavenger hunts). They're even setting up a "Gnomes Gone Wild" event -- level 1 gnomes are going to be trying to sneak into the party, and it'll be partygoers' responsibility to keep them out.

The party starts this Saturday, March 21st, at 7pm server at the River's Heart in Sholazar Basin (you could probably make it there with a DK, or they'll have people summoning as necessary, as long as you send them an ingame mail first). As they say, Kel'Thuzad and Malygos will be there next week -- this Saturday, head over to Perenolde and celebrate Spring Break with the Sleepers.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Raiding, RP

YouPlayorWePay opens up a new month, plans to add EU realms soon


We haven't heard much from the folks at You Play or We Pay lately, but maybe that's a good thing for them -- after all the noise from their initial launch, it seems like things have calmed down over there. They're giving out "Compensation Credits," it looks like they've started running a few ads, and it seems like they've finally settled on a model that works for everyone -- both the founders of the site and the people who sign up for compensation. While we heard the first month of slots filled up pretty fast, the second month seems to be going a little slower -- they've still got about half the slots for March still available as of this writing. But as you can see from the picture, they're promising some real items in exchange for those Compensation Credits. With 150 slots in March and about 100 credits given out last month, you may be waiting over a year to save up the credits to buy a 30-day game card, but the site is working the way they planned: you can sign up for free and eventually get something back for your realm's downtime.

And they're planning on expanding soon -- the site reports that by the 15th of March, English EU players will be able to sign up for compensation on their realms' downtime as well. This site caused a lot of controversy when it first opened up, but we have to give it to them: it looks like they've worked out a way to do what they want to do.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Realm Status, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

The state of twinking pre-3.1

Our friend Drayner has posted an open letter to Blizzard over at Twinkinfo.com in which he basically laments the breaking of WoW's twinking game. We've covered twinking quite a few times before here -- it's the game-within-a-game of beefing up lower-level characters to their maximum power using enchants, low-level items, or whatever else they can find. Officially, Blizzard hasn't endorsed or condoned twinking -- if you want to do it, you're free to, but you've got to live with the rules they set on items and enchants, and so forth.

And that seems to be Drayner's main issue with Blizzard: they aren't consistent on twinking. They'll make changes that level the twink field, and then they'll ignore bugs that almost completely break it. They kept the latest enchants off of players below level 60, but then they grandfathered in players with the 450 profession buffs. He's got a whole list of changes they've made for and against twinking, and basically asks Blizzard to either support twinking, or (and obviously he's less happy with this decision) end it for good.

Unfortunately for him, he probably won't get an answer. There are plenty of players twinking, but not nearly enough for Blizzard to consider making changes based on twinks alone (and while twinks are howling at some of the changes, the rest of the player population either dislikes the whole idea of twinking, or couldn't care either way). And considering that twinking does draw some players into the game, it's not likely Blizzard will ditch it anytime either. Twinks, they would likely say, are playing a meta game already based on made-up rules, so why should it matter that they've also got to abide by other inconsistent rules? Based on what we've heard from them in the past, it seems twinking is a player creation, not a Blizzard creation, so it's up to players to deal with the issues, not Blizzard.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Classes, Enchants

Happy Valentine's Day from WoW Insider


Just in time for Valentine's Day, Ataraxaven and Alastriona of Azuremyst sent us this picture of their "soulbound" wedding rings -- just like the other wedding rings we've posted before, the couple says that "soulbound" works well for them. It has a nice gamer reference (they're both WoW players, obviously, and they've been playing together for two years now), and even people who've never picked up a BoP item at least get the meaning.

Very cool. Being as it is Valentine's Day today, don't forget to check out our guide to the Love Fool achievements, and be sure to get your sweetie something nice, ingame and/or out. Happy Valentine's Day to Ataraxaven and Alastriona and all of the lovers out there this weekend, hope you have a good one.


Love is in the Air and on WoW Insider. Check out our continuing coverage of the event and our guide to earning the achievement. And you better hurry; the holiday only lasts five days!

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Buffs

Survey reveals what twinks are all about

This is interesting -- our friend Drayner over at Twinkinfo.com recently took a survey of his site's readers, and after picking up almost 1,000 replies, he's posted the results. They show a little bit of insight into the kind of person that plays a twink (a character maxed out at a certain level before 80, usually to run around in PvP battlegrounds). Specifically, they're male, under 21, play for 21-30 hours a week, think their gear rates a 5 out of 5, and are probably level 19 and in Warsong Gulch capturing flags. I'm not sure if that's suprising or not, but those are pretty safe majority votes, even given the smaller sample size of the poll.

Twink players are also more likely to not have more than one account, which kind of makes sense -- they only need one account and just have lots of characters on them. 66% of twinks are actually in twink guilds, and most have at least more than one twink to play around with. Hunters and Rogues top the class choices (though not with a clear majority at all). And perhaps most interesting, over 50% of twinks say Blizzard is serving them just fine -- they're not ignoring them, and they're not giving them any more love than other players. Still, as Drayner pointed out to us, about 36% of twinks said they'd leave the game if Blizzard shut them down with an additional 30% saying Maybe, so Blizzard does have a little incentive there to keep twinking happening.

Quite interesting -- twinks might be one of the only groups of players who are completely fine with how they're being handled in game. 2.3 obviously gave them lots of new items to play with, and while there is some frustration from other players, Blizzard has made it so easy to level that if you don't want to play with the twinks at 19, you can move on pretty quickly.

Filed under: Hunter, Rogue, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Alts

GamerDNA and Massively explore Death Knight demographics


Our friends at Massively and GamerDNA are at it again -- they're digging into their database of players, this time to determine some Death Knight demographics. They want to know what kinds of players are picking up the new Hero class. Unfortunately, their sample size is super small -- only 500, according to Sanya Weathers, which seems way too tiny to determine anything about the Death Knight class at large. But we'll go with it anyway, and see what we can get.

As you can see above, Blood Elves and Humans dominate the race choice in our little group, which seems about right, considering that those are the two most popular races overall. Death Knight players in this study generally tend to have reported themselves as male in real life. And GamerDNA also lays their Death Knights up against the Bartle test and while WoW players trend pretty well to the norm, Death Knights go way more towards the "Killer" and to a lesser extent the "Explorer" end of the scales.

So according to this little survey (and we'll remind you that this is 500 people, so there are plenty of exceptions out there), the average Death Knight is male, chooses whatever race is most familiar to them, and wants to go kill and do damage rather than worry about socializing or achieving. In other words, lots and lots of former Ret Paladins. It'll be interesting to see how this changes over time -- lots of these players are interested in the newest thing, obviously, since they've switched their mains to a new class at the first chance, but as things settle down and more people head back to get new alts, maybe we'll see a different crowd coming out of Acherus.

Filed under: Human, Polls, Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blood Elves, Classes, Death Knight

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