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Cataclysm Post-Mortem: Hyjal

Alex Ziebart and Mathew McCurley (that's me) decided to give each Cataclysm zone the once-over now that we're many months out from the release of the expansion. In this post-mortem series, we'll examine (in our own opinions and words) what worked and what didn't work in terms of story, quests, and overall feel for the zones and the cool moments that dotted the landscape. Join us for a discussion about Cataclysm's new level 80 to 85 content and what made the cut as the most compelling experiences.

Hyjal is home to the majestic world tree Nordrassil, once under siege by the Burning Legion and Archimonde, an eredar leader and lieutenant of Sargeras. In Warcraft III, we vanquished Archimonde at Nordrassil and subsequently went back and ended his campaign in Hyjal through the Caverns of Time. Now, Ragnaros the Firelord has returned to Azeroth with the help of Deathwing and has invaded the sacred mountain with one goal -- destroy the wardens of Hyjal and burn their tree to the ground.

Hyjal's story

Mathew: I had an odd experience with the story at Hyjal, mostly because at first, I couldn't have given a damn about the druids and the Emerald Dream and all of that. The first time I went through Hyjal, it was a sprint, and I never stopped to smell the roses, since we were racing to 85.

It was only after I did Hyjal a second or third time that I truly dug in and found the wonderful story of the zone. Now, I am 100% involved in the Hyjal story and am really excited to see where it's going. Now, the druids are my best friends, and there is nothing I want to do more than help ancients punch fire elementals in their fiery faces.

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Filed under: Cataclysm

Premiering tonight: AFK film offers laughs, epic gaming scenes

Tonight is the premiere of /afk, a short film that tells the story of a single WoW player with a dream to solo Onxyia before he quits the game for good. Earlier this week, WoW Insider spoke with Benjamin Dressler, the director of /afk, and got the scoop on some of the origins of the film. Today, I'll be following up that interview with a review of the film and a few more words from Dressler on the more detailed aspects of the production.

/afk is a short comedy that combines live-action footage with in-game animation and machinima. The story follows Piet (Martin Schnuerch), a student whose parents want him to take control of his life and break his gaming habit. He is unwittingly submitted to counseling, where he meets with the brutally honest psychiatrist (Eva Spott.) Piet is cooperative to an extent, telling his in-game friend Nippi (Bill Dean) early on that he intends to quit the game, but as the story progresses, it's apparent that he's very torn on the matter. He questions whether he is addicted and what he wants to do with his life.

To make the decision harder on him, Piet has always wanted to solo Onxyia in the game and liken himself to a mythical dragonslayer, like Beowulf or Siegfried, a task he has not yet fulfilled. The film takes place during Piet's final days in the game, when he spends his time with friends and preparing for his face-off with the dragon.

Update: /afk is now available for viewing.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Interviews

The Queue: Allie gets lost in Icecrown edition

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Allison Robert will be your host today.

Alex is popping out for a RL issue, so I'm afraid, dear readers, that you're going to get stuck with the writer who will spend the entirety of a question today wandering off the Icecrown map. HC SVNT DRACONES. Frostwyrms, anyway.

As a warning, the answer to said question contains what some players will consider a spoiler, so don't read past the cut if you don't want to know anything about an upcoming Icecrown encounter.

TAD asks...

Will experience acceleration go away once Cataclysm drops?


We don't think so, because the 1-85 grind for a new character will still be pretty lengthy even with experience acceleration, but truthfully we don't know. I'd argue that Blizzard doesn't have much of a reason to change current leveling speed, because it's only efficient if the character in question is outfitted in heirloom items (particularly the chest and shoulders with the +experience boost). This obviously won't happen for a genuinely new player seeing the content for the first time. As you've probably also observed with alts on a different realm from your main, leveling's not that fast without being bankrolled by another toon or sitting on a pile of heirlooms.

Then again, I'm one of those crazy people who enjoys questing for its own sake and I'll be doing all the new quests anyway, so what do I know?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Wrath of the Lich King, The Queue

Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

Last chance to enter to win a Creative headset of your own

This is finally it -- your last chance as a single commenter to pick yourself up a Creative World of Warcraft wireless gaming headset. We've been giving one of these away every single week for a few months now, and today we've finally run out of the single headsets, so here's your last chance to leave a comment on this post and win one on your own.

As usual, the contest is open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, and Canada (excluding Quebec), and everyone who enters must be 13 or older. To enter, leave a comment on this post before Wednesday, November 18th, at midnight eastern, and please be sure to use a real email that you check often to enter, so we can contact the winners when we choose them. One winner will be chosen. You may enter only once, and each winner will get a Creative World of Warcraft Wireless Gaming Headset, with a retail value of $150. Please note: winners will not receive the headset until it is released later this year. Click here to read the official contest rules.

Good luck -- oh, and are you wondering why we said "single headset"? Because we will have yet another contest next week, but it'll be more of a "group quest" kind of thing, where you and some friends will have a chance to win a raid full of headsets for yourselves. Stay tuned for more info in one week's time.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Contests, Hardware

The (lack of) reality in the Caverns of Time

I've always considered the Caverns of Time to be like the theme park of Azeroth -- as we've discussed before, there aren't really any reasons to go to some of those instances in the first place, and the whole thing seems just so ludicrous. If we wipe, or we don't go in there, and Thrall isn't able to escape Durnholde or Arthas isn't able to murder Stratholme or any of the other premises they have set up, then wouldn't the world as we know it change? It seems like fan service -- Blizzard wants us to visit these great parts of lore, and it just seems to me like they've cooked up a weak story around getting us there.

Which is why I was surprised to read this post over on Mystic Chicanery. They argue that the Caverns of Time are actually the most "real" of all the instances in the game. If we go into Utgarde Pinnacle, for example, and murder King Ymiron, there's no reason why he should be in there again the next time we head in. And yet he is -- we can go in and murder him time and time again, doing the same thing, and getting loot every single time. But in CoT, there's a logical explanation for why the instances are always the same: to the people we're encountering in the instances, it's the first time we've met them. From the outside world, the CoT instances may seem strange (the first time I was in Durnholde, we wiped with Thrall, and I jokingly checked with my guild to see if Thrall was still standing in Orgrimmar, alive and well -- he was), but inside the continuity of those instances, they work.

Of course, we do still get different loot from it every time, as the MC post notices. But it is quite a thought: even though the Caverns of Time instances are the ones in the game that seem to least need us messing around in there, they also might just be the most logical.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Lore, Bosses

Forum Post of the Day: Get your mum to draw the Lich King

Adding your mom's worldly wisdom to any situation always makes it better, and clearly the EU forums agree with this sentiment! Elbonio of the European WoW forums wants you to ask your mum to draw the Lich King, even if she's never seen him before. If she asks what he looks like, just ask her to draw what she thinks he'd look like.

I'm pretty sure I've seen this meme before, on the SomethingAwful forums, replacing Arthas with Homer Simpson, but the results are still pretty hilarious. Elbonio's been kind enough to compile a gallery of the kid-tested, mother-approved images that resulted from the experiment.

If you get your mom or significant other to do it, but don't have an EU forum account, feel free to post it in the comments below and I'll assemble them for laughs at a later date.

What are you waiting for? Go ask! But be nice, because after all, she's your mum.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Humor, Forums

Bug prevents beta testers from participating in the PTR

Blue poster Tyren made an announcement on the PTR forums this afternoon that those of us who have an account in the Wrath of the Lich King beta cannot participate in the 3.0.2 PTR. This is most unfortunate news for the numerous people in that situation.

If you have more than one account, your second account could probably work with the PTR (assuming it is not enrolled in the beta). I haven't been able to test this yet with my other accounts, but will update this post when I get the chance to.

Tyren does say that they are working to resolve the issue, and that it should be fixed early next week. In my opinion, it can't be resolved fast enough.

Filed under: Patches, News items

Don't expect PvE to PvP transfers anytime soon

One of the larger complaints about the ability to transfer servers is the lack of PvE to PvP transfers. You can transfer your character from a PvP server to a PvE server, but not the other way around. Some folks see this as discriminating against the PvP servers, while others see it as a good thing.

Blizzard is firmly on the side of those that see it as good. In a recent blue post Bornakk has came out and said that while the option is there, they have no plans to allow it. Apparently this has "been on the table" for the past two years.

Personally, I'm glad they won't be allowing this. The ability to transfer from PvP to PvE makes sense since you won't be disrupting the gearing balance. But think about what would happen if you could transfer from a PvE to a PvP server. Everyone would level their characters on a PvE server, and then transfer them to a PvP server at 70. This would make it nearly impossible to get a group or have any pre-70 game play on the PvP server. I know some of you are going to say that it already is impossible, but it would just become more difficult. So I'm with Blizzard on this one.

What do you think? Is it a good policy, or should Blizzard change their ways?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

Nethaera's smack down

Nehthaera today wanted to let a lot of the naysayers out there know a thing or two about their April Fool's jokes and the issues with the servers. She tells us the obvious, more or less: the people who do the April Fool's work are completely separate from the people that do the server and development work.

So these elaborate and well done jokes have exactly zero impact on the servers. They don't have anything to do with maintenance, with patch 2.4, or with Wrath of the Lich King (well, unless you actually believe there'll be a bard class). This means they could have done nothing for April Fool's, and things still would have been as difficult as they were yesterday.

I want to give Nethaera two thumbs up for her post. I really enjoy it lately when GMs and CMs lay the smack down about issues like this, especially to whiney forum posters.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, News items

Breakfast Topic: WTB guild silliness, PST

[I totally ninjaed this image]
Well, okay, maybe not buy, but I'm all about trading stories! For example, it's my belief that some of the best World of Warcraft posts never see the light of day. Why? Because they're closeted on guild forums, safe from prying eyes. But you know you all have seen them. These threads take on Legendary Thread status within our respective guilds, and grow into in-jokes over time.

Here's one of my favorite of the recent posts I've seen on my guild's forums that has exploded into a truly silly string of "contest" posts. This original post was made by my Rogue class leader when he was looking for a Blinkstrike to call his very own.

Enter the "Win a Free Pocket Rogue" Sweepstakes!

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Filed under: Guilds, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Humor

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