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A leveling server, just for leveling

Reader Tiago sent us an interesting idea I thought was worth sharing. He suggests that Blizzard create a "leveling server" -- a server that would be marked as specifically for new characters, so when you rolled a new toon on there, you'd be surrounded by a bunch of other people pre-80. And the key here would be that when you hit 80 on this server, then you would get a free server transfer off. In other words, Blizzard would have one server (completely optional, of course) designed for people to level on, with a realm full of people playing in the old world and leveling through the old quests.

Sounds good, right? Like most of our ideas, Blizzard probably won't go for it -- they've already knocked down the idea of vanilla realms, and while this isn't the same thing (you'd be able to level to 80, the idea is just that you'd leave the server when you got there), it does mean creating a different ruleset for a brand new type of server. Plus, to a much lesser extent, it could create an even more lonely existence on the normal servers. Not to mention that Blizzard has been focusing on speeding past the low levels, not emphasizing them.

But I like the idea anyway -- it doesn't seem too tough to do (mark one realm recommended, and provide free server transfers off of it), and it seems like an excellent way to get people who enjoy leveling up all together in the same place. And that's really what MMOs like this are all about, right?

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

WoW.com's RSS feed issues should be fixed now

A lot of you have noticed some issues with our RSS feed this afternoon (and a little bit last night) and trust me, we know that you know. Our inbox has been absolutely flooded! So to try and help the confusion (and slow the flood of e-mails), here's what happened: Our network (us, Joystiq, Massively, Engadget, etc) was hit with a few database problems over the last 24 hours.

It's nothing to worry about, everything is fixed now and should be just fine. In the process of making things fine, our RSS feed was pinged with all sorts of 'new' information, causing the duplicates that a lot of you saw. Seven postings of the latest Around Azeroth? WTF? Yeah, sorry about that. We definitely keep an eye on our own RSS feed to make sure everything is going smoothly, so if it isn't, we'll know about it pretty quickly.

Again, we're sorry about the spam to you guys using our RSS feed. To those of you that aren't using our RSS feed... why aren't you using it!? Google Reader is probably one of the most convenient things ever. You can find out about our various feed offerings over here.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Ask WoW Insider: The ninja debuff

This week on Ask WoW Insider, a reader has a suggestion, not a question, to put forth to you readers. It's about a problem lots of folks are having lately, with the servers as full as they are:

One thing that has been annoying most people is the ninjas who spend their time waiting for players to take down a pat so they have unobstructed access to the quest items or loot/ore. It happened to me even with the Oil-stained Wolf quest last night in the expansion. People waiting to steal poo! Sick! Why should the players who take down the pat be disadvantaged and lose out on the ore?

The rest of the question and your chance to answer after the jump.

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Filed under: Mining, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Ask WoW Insider, Leveling

Cake of the Lich King


If there's one thing we love, it's cake. If there's two things we love, it's World of Warcraft and cake. And so, when our two favorite things are combined, as they were by reader Mike W's girlfriend (he plays Valaar on Kargath), we get more excited than Millhouse Manastorm when he's about to light some sweet-cheeks up. She made this confectionary piece of art for his birthday the other day, and we think you'll agree that Arthas has never looked tastier.

And Mike points out that this is completely and totally hand- and icing tip-made -- no fondant here. Beautiful. I especially like the "spikes" around the outside -- I don't know if that was designed that way, or just the way it looks when you put icing on a cake like that, but it looks great. If we had Dalaran Cooking Awards to give away, she'd get one.

We've added the cake to our ever-growing gallery of favorite Warcraft-related cakes -- if you've got another one, feel free to send it in.

Filed under: Cooking, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Wrath of the Lich King

The price of a game time refund

Is it just me or has it been a long time since Blizzard passed out some free game time? Reader Jim T. emailed me about a conversation he recently had with Blizzard's customer service -- he was disappointed with the lag, the queues, and the downtime on his server lately, and checking in about how he might get a refund or credit. The customer rep told him that while they didn't give out individual credit, they occasionally do give out game-wide credit for downtime mistakes.

Which is true -- Blizzard will occasionally give out a free day to folks affected by major unexpected downtime or server issues. But while they used to do it fairly often, by my recollection, they seem much less inclined to pull the trigger on a refund lately. On the one hand, sure, Blizzard does a better job than they used to -- last Tuesday's maintenance lasted quite a while, but it wasn't anything compared to the days the servers used to be offline a few years ago. On the other hand, though, there's no question players are being affected -- by queues, by problems logging in, and by lag on the instance servers and elsewhere.

Of course, we have no idea if Blizzard has an actual rule for when they give out free gametime and when they don't -- at this point, the criteria for giving players a refund happens to be "when they feel like it." Which is all right, we guess -- it's their company, of course. But it does seem like the criteria has changed -- we used to get refunds all the time, and even with all the problems lately, Blizzard hasn't decided to give customers any game time back.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Bosses, Hardware

Making the Racial traits more individual

Hot on the heels of word about all the new changes to racial abilities in Wrath, reader Mike sent us a suggestion he thought up to give a little twist to racial abilities in game: Blizzard could unlock some of them from a few races, and instead give players the ability to choose a few on a peronal basis -- they could pick and choose certain abilities for their characters to have from the beginning. As in, each ability would get put into a budget, and instead of merely choosing a race, players could then choose one or two skills from the budget to give to their characters. You could end up having a Troll with Escape Artist and Diplomacy, or a Human with Hardiness and Magic resistance.

Of course, some abilities are pretty strictly defined by the races themselves, so not everything could be pick and choose -- Gift of the Naaru and Will of the Forsaken would have to stick with Draenei and Undead, respectively (they'd have to stay Racial traits, not personal ones). But abilities like Endurance and Quickness are so insignificant in the bigger picture of things that it would be nice to customize your character a little bit more -- match it up to your style of play rather than just want race you'd like to be. Character creation is quickly becoming the one thing in the game that's stayed exactly the same since launch, and for many reasons, from RP to theorycrafting, players would really get a kick out of customizing their characters that little bit more.

As Mike told us, each character has their own personal background and insights, so why shouldn't each individual character have their own personal traits to shine in? It's a little late for Wrath, of course, but it's something to think about in the future -- if Pets get their own choices about their strengths, why shouldn't the different ingame races?

Filed under: Human, Gnomes, Trolls, Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Expansions, Buffs, Wrath of the Lich King

Gear Wishlist tells you where to go next


I've been looking around for something exactly like this -- while Kaliban's Class Loot is a great resource for figuring out what kind of loot to dress in right before the endgame, and our gearing for Karazhan guides are a great resource for good drops and pieces around that level (including the rep sets you can get for each class and spec), the next biggest question to answer is "what comes after that?" And Gear Wishlist, a site made and sent to us by Darrell Anderson, tries to answer exactly that question.

After putting in your character and realm, you get a list of all the gear you've got equipped, matched up against a list of all the gear available at the item level you're looking at (you can customize exactly where the item levels come from, if there's a site whose estimations of the gear you value more), with yours highlighted. So basically, you get an up and down list of where to go from the gear you've got, and you can easily see where it all comes from and what kinds of stats it gives.

Of course, this is still more of a guideline -- just because gear appears above yours on this list doesn't mean that it's better than yours for your class and spec. And attainability is a big factor as well -- if you're not in a raiding guild, your time might be better spent grinding rep rather than trying to suffer through with PuGs. But as an overview of the gear available to you, Gear Wishlist works great. Hopefully the site will stay up under our linkage, and if it doesn't, check back in a few days to see if it's slowed down.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Bosses, Leveling, Guides

A Fire-specced Chevy Grand Prix


Miamoryax, an undead Mage from Blood Furnace, sent us these pictures of her new car and license plate -- she took along her Carrot-on-a-stick and Horde keychain (we'd like to see pictures of that) to the DMV and decided to pick up a vanity plate that was fitting of her Mage mentality (and car's red color). Looks great, but the car's probably got to worry about pulling aggro with all that visual DPS.

We've added her pics to our WoW license plate gallery, where you can see players of all specs and classes sharing their love for the World of Warcraft through their favorite mode of transportation. It's touching, really, although it does provide an interesting insight into the kinds of cars we drive around: cheap ones, by the look of it. Blizzard's got all of our car money, apparently.



Update: Wish granted. Here's the (official!) Carrot on a Stick keychain, seen elsewhere in Mia's Flickr stream.

Filed under: Mage, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Mounts

How to get Wowhead tooltips in Google Reader



An ode: Wowhead tooltips, O how I heart thee! I wish...eth I wouldst to be able to carry thou aroundst in mine pockets. (Did people even have pockets back when they went around saying thee and thou? Mine coineth purse?) Anyway, the point is: we love Wowhead tooltips because all it takes is a mouse-hover to find out everything you want to know about an item mentioned on WoW Insider or other websites. And now that you've gone ahead and put WoW Insider on your Google Reader, you can take the next step to get the nifty little tooltips in to show up in your RSS feeds.

Here's how:

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Filed under: Items, How-tos

How to put WoW Insider on your Google Reader

In an ongoing series of articles we'll show you how to put WoW Insider on your own blog, guild website, personal website, or even on your computer's desktop. For a complete list of the software that's covered, check out our guide's index.

About Google Reader


Google has developed an online tool that coalesces all your RSS feeds into one source. It's a very handy tool, and is one of the windows that I always have open. For me, it helps me stay abreast of everything happening in the world in one easy spot. One of the best things about Google Reader is that you can search through news with ease, and you can search through lots of news in just seconds.

How to add WoW Insider to your Google Reader



1. Logon to Google Reader.
2. As you can see from the above screenshot, I already have WoW Insider in my reader's list. However, you probably don't. What you want to do is click the green "Add subscription" link.



3. This will open up a window as shown above. Type in "wow.com" and click the "Add" button.



4. WoW Insider is now added to your Google Reader! You can see it on the list of subscribed sites to your left.

Filed under: How-tos, Odds and ends

The most powerful character in Azeroth

Killah sent us a interesting question: who is the most powerful character in all of Azeroth? We've talked about this one before, but it's been a while, and considering that we've learned a lot since last December about Azeroth and what's happening in it, I'd say it's worth another look.

So who's on top? Last time around, we said Sargeras or Elune, but let's refine things a bit-- those two may both be very powerful, but Sargeras is currently "ceased to be," and Elune, who supposedly created the world, doesn't actually use that power much, does she? If she was so peaceful and in charge, why's the world called Warcraft?

Still, looking down the list, Elune does seem to top it-- if you're talking about potential power, she's it. Aman'thul and the Pantheon are up there-- they toppled Sargeras and have even killed the Old Gods. But the most powerful character that we know for certain is actually in Azeroth right now? Besides the winner of the our One Boss Leaves tournament, I'm not sure. Nozdormu? The Lich King?

Unless by "most powerful character," Killah actually means player character. In that case, I have no idea. Awake? One of the guys from Team Pandemic?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Lore, NPCs

WoW Insider RSS issues

A few readers have sent us tips already to let us know that there are issues with the RSS feed here on the site. We appreciate you all letting us know, and we are aware that some of the older articles are getting published on the RSS feed as new. We've also noticed that the RSS feed will sometimes publish new articles twice, leaving you with two copies of the same article in your reader.

We're aware of both issues, and have forwarded information onto our tech guys about it-- they say a fix is coming. If you have any other issues or questions, feel free to post them in the comments below, or send us tips via our tips page. Thanks for reading, and for sticking with us through these issues-- we're hoping to get them worked out soon.

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Odds and ends

How do we level? Let us count the ways

From reader Luclan comes a very important question: what, in our experience, is the best or fastest way of levelling up quickly?

First off, I believe levelling quickly in the "power-levelling" sense, and levelling well, are two different things. Getting a level 60 friend to run you through all the lower dungeons for loot won't help you learn how to play your class in groups; spending five levels grinding in one spot doesn't equip you to deal with a wide variety of situations. The journey through each level should, in my opinion, be savoured and learnt from -- after all, when you end up at level 60, knowing as much as possible about your class is a great start.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Quests

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