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Posts with tag second-life

The Lawbringer: WoW and the magic circle

Welcome to Lawbringer! Each week we'll dive into the intricacies of law and the World of Warcraft. In the column's introductory edition we look at the magic circle, which isn't just something you summon demons and teleport around in...

Law and Warcraft -- sounds like a crazy mashup. Does this mean I can sue that bear and tree combo that chain pulled HoS to Krystallus then dropped group mid fight to wipe the DPS that had the temerity to suggest maybe the tank shouldn't kite the Maiden through the hallway? (You know who you are.) Get a court order to silence those Anal [Skills to Pay the Bills] spamming pricks in trade chat? Help Marshall Dougan string up those goblin ganking Bloodsail Buccaneer rep grinders for piracy? Get rogues thrown in the Stormwind Stockades for picking Hogger's pocket? Sadly, the answer is no.

Law and Warcraft intersect in far less entertaining and yet much more important ways. Contract law is obviously important with the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use defining our relationship with Blizzard. Copyright concerns come up quite a bit, as after all, the story, code, sights, and sounds of the World of Warcraft are protected by copyright. Computer fraud, regular fraud, and taxation are issues that arise with gold farming/trading (and occasionally gold digging, but that's not so much a problem in WoW.) We've seen recently with several articles that Blizzard has been cooperating with local law enforcement to bring criminals to justice or help resolve the mystery of a runaway teen; privacy law is a huge concern for both players and Blizzard. Conflict resolution is how some of these legal questions are resolved, but that may involve arbitration, lawsuits, a crash course of the American civil justice system, and people like me.

That's right, I'm one of those horrible nasty lawyer types. Well, not quite – I'm in my third and last year of law school, specializing in intellectual property law. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are what I've studied, and I have a job drafting and prosecuting patents since after all, student loans don't get paid off by playing WoW. If you really want proof of my bona fide law cred, you can read my thirty two page dissertation on gold farming.

But how does one distinguish between a problem that is resolvable with law, such as a privacy concern, and one that is just something we have to live with, like moronic tanks and DPS in the Random Dungeon Finder? Academics, needing to justify their cushy tenure positions, have come up with a concept known as "The Magic Circle."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Guild in Second Life on The Copper Robot

Our friends at The Guild made an ingame appearance the other day, but not in our game -- they showed up as avatars in Second Life as part of a talk show called the Copper Robot. Felicia Day, Sandeep Parikh (Zaboo), and Jeff Lewis (Vork) all stopped by to talk to journalist Mitch Wagner (whom I met on the TUAW Talkcast last night), and you can watch video of the proceedings over on their blog, or just listen in to the audio if you'd like. And there's news about season 3 in the interview -- it should be happening, though Felicia says they haven't gotten "an official pickup" yet, and she hasn't started writing yet. The season 2 DVD is also coming soon.

What's perhaps most interesting about this interview is that the Guildies all used custom-made avatars to appear in the game. Second Life, if you've never played it, is more of a sandbox MMO than the strict rules and design of World of Warcraft, and players have mostly complete freedom to make themselves look like whatever they want. And so a few fans from a site called World2Worlds actually made some avatars for the Guild folks, and they based them off of the (also fan-made) art of the characters. We've never seen footage of "the game," as the characters in The Guild call it, so this is the first time we've seen these avatars represented in any game. Very interesting. The show has a Flickr group, so if you want to check out more shots of what they looked like in-game (including some nutty Vork antics), check that out as well.

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

World of Warcraft's top five political contributions of 2008

With World of Warcraft having the combined worldwide population of a small country, and the combined US population of a small state, people have been finding various ways to infuse their politics into the game. This can only be seen as a natural occurrence – people will naturally want to bring their out of game ideals into the game to express themselves.

We've covered various politically and socially minded groups in the past here and there. And with the end of the political season we've seen an increase in the number of political expressions in WoW.

Let's take a look back at the top five politically and socially relevant WoW thing-a-ma-jigs on the net in 2008.

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

WoW Moviewatch: Releasing the Beast II: Don't Call me Huntard

Warning: This video contains harsh language.

Today we're featuring Releasing the Beast II: Don't Call me Huntard! by Sazabi. It's an intriguing, mesmerizing, hilarious, self-aware take on a PvP movie -- following up the hugely successful Releasing the Beast. Now, wait! Don't tune out if you don't like PvP movies. It's not actually a PvP movie, per se. It's a comedy all the way, including the filmmaker showing his own failures in the battlegrounds and making fun of his arena rating. It's certainly not a how-to movie. In fact, the story goes out of its way to demonstrate that it is NOT a model of PvP play tactics.

The premise is this: after brutally failing during a PvE raid (with a very funny guest voice appearance from the star of Onyxia Wipe Animation) caused by his hobby as a Fraps-aholic machinima filmmaker, our hero decides to try his hand at the battlegrounds and arena scene at the urging of his main character, an Orc hunter. (Hence, the subtitle: Don't call me huntard!) The PvP scenes are interludes within the arc of the bigger story and are set to some great music, mostly from the Naruto Original Soundtrack. These battle scenes are slickly filmed with split-screen punctuations of the action. (My only complaint about them is at times the camera angle is too high to see well.)

The battle fray is framed by the comedic conflict between the Sims 2 avatar of the filmmaker and his WoW creation (or so he believes), Sazabi. The story folds in on itself so many times that you feel like you're in a Möbius strip that's been flagged in enemy territory. But that's exactly the fun here. Even though the film is 27 minutes long, you need to wait for the twist at the end which presents a fine comeuppance for our hero. (Which hero you'll have to find out for yourself.) I also recommend downloading the FileFront version because the subtitles are a bit difficult to read in the streaming version and they help clear up some of the European accents at times.

[Via WarcraftMovies -- Thanks Zac!]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Filed under: Hunter, Machinima, PvP, Humor, WoW Moviewatch

More murmurs from the mobile front

Blizzplanet continues to track down hints at what Blizzard might be planning in the mobile space, i.e. on the iPhone or another mobile computing platform (that Android Dream demo looked pretty sweet, too). Recently, Blizzard posted a job opening for a web software engineer, and while of course that could be for improvements to the Armory, or for the upcoming changes to, but considering that many mobile apps are web apps nowadays, that position could definitely be put to work developing a web interface specifically for mobile platforms.

And the second hint is a little more concrete: our sister site Massively has mentioned Vollee before -- they're a company that claims to be able to stream a PC game experience to a mobile platform like the iPhone. They've already created a Second Life client, and Blizzplanet notes that in one of their recent press releases, they mention that they've been working with Activision Blizzard on a partnership. There are a lot of games under the Activision Blizzard banner nowadays, of course, but WoW is the biggest one of them, and it's definitely the MMO Vollee would want to be working on.

Blizzard hasn't officially announced any version or WoW application for any mobile platforms, of course, and even if one was in the planning stages, there's no guarantee we'd ever see it in an releaseable form. But there's definitely a call to bring facets of World of Warcraft to mobile computing, and if they can work it out in a form they find acceptable, it would undoubtedly be popular.

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

WoW Moviewatch: Cooking with Ethnea, Episode 1

If you're a fan of Well Fed Buff, you'll enjoy the first episode of Cooking with Ethnea. I dug into the reader submissions to bring you an unpolished video with a lot of potential. Adreena, an aspiring machinimator, decided that she wanted to humorously visualize recipes instead of just read about them. Now I have to warn you, this machinima is really rough around the edges, but I love the concept. That's why I'm going to offer up some tips for her to use in her second episode.

The most glaring mistake comes from improperly chroma keying the WoW Model Viewed character. The timing is off, so there is a noticeable difference between when Ethnea and the background appear. She also didn't adjust the high and low thresholds for her character, which is causing transparency issues. If you're just going to use still shots of your character in a picture of a background, you may as well put your character in the picture itself by using a photo editing program.

[Thanks, Melissa!]

If you have any suggestions for WoW Moviewatch, you can mail them to us at machinima AT wowinsider DOT com.

Previously on Moviewatch ...

Read on for more constructive tips ...

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Filed under: Machinima, Humor, WoW Moviewatch

Intel technology research may lead to mobile WoW

The idea of mobile MMORPGs has come up before. Blizzard is on board with the idea of a mobile WoW interface of some sort, and have even hired mobile engineers and designers. Second Life has started down the path too. Still, for all the promise of being able to run Deadmines while you're stuck in the back of a car on a cross country drive, or churning out Netherweave Bags while you're waiting at the clinic for your semi-annual medical checkup, it seems like there's hurdles yet to overcome. The biggest one, of course, is getting a mobile device to pack enough power to render WoW's graphics and keep track of all the information that WoW needs to run.

Luckily, it looks like Intel and Comverse are on the case for us. The two companies have worked together to create a 3D streaming system that compiles and renders all the graphics and data of an MMORPG on a central server, then sends it to the mobile device. You can read their researcher's post about it on the Intel blog site. You can also see the process demonstrated with Second Life in the video above, although there's not really a good shot of the mobile device screen to show us how well it actually works, unfortunately.

Still, if they can get the technology working feasibly, it should definitely put us one giant step closer to a relatively full fledged mobile WoW client. When the day comes that we can grind dailies on our iPhones, it may be that we'll have Intel to thank.

[Thanks to Bitterzoet for the tip!]

Filed under: News items, Hardware

PBS covers the government's intrusion into online worlds

This clip, from PBS' Bill Moyers Journal, is notable for a number of reasons. First of all, I'm fairly sure this is the most balanced, objective look at MMORPGs I've ever seen in mass media -- they talk about both Second Life and World of Warcraft, but there isn't a single mention of addiction or cluelessness or any of the other stuff mass media throws at us.

And it's also a good look at what was behind all the hubbub about the government searching for terrorists in WoW -- in truth, the fact that the government is interested in online communities isn't that huge a deal (who isn't interested in MMOs?), but the fact that they're doing it with the justification of terrorism is a much more disturbing discovery. And this piece then goes into the larger problems with this lately -- that the government is dipping into all kinds of supposedly private communications outlets with this lame justification of searching for terrorists.

Nice piece, but especially so because of that very even look at our favorite past time. If only all reporters were so objective.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, News items, Account Security

More rumors of a mobile WoW

A few places are reporting, including our sister site Massively, that a company named Vollee has brought their mobile phone version of Second Life live and online. As you can see in the video on the website, it works, though it's not exactly an ideal way to play the game. They don't go into details on how it works, obviously, but my guess would be some kind of java browser emulation of a real client.

Why are we talking about Second Life on WoW Insider? Because odds are that some kind of mobile WoW app is not far behind. Vollee would certainly love to be the ones to do it (they even say that you can enter "World of Second Life" on their website), but unlike Blizzplanet, I really don't think they will be -- odds are that any mobile app won't be a full client, but rather will be a chat or AH app of some kind ("BattleChat" has already been mentioned by Blizzard), and it'll likely be designed by Blizzard themselves.

But there's no question that there's a huge frontier for this sort of thing. Within the next month, Apple is set to release the iPhone's "App Store" (a distribution platform for mobile applications and games), and we have to imagine that a mobile announcement or even a release from Blizzard will come soon after that.

Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Rumors

Is it time for age restricted servers?

Anyone who has been playing WoW for a bit knows that this game is unique in that both adults and children can enjoy it at the same time. Indeed this duality can be considered one of the best features of the game. How often can you sit down with your son or daughter and truly enjoy the same video game? Besides the amazing adventures of Dora The Explorer, other kid friendly games like Disney Online's Toon Town and Club Penguin just don't provide the same level of enjoyment for adults and their children. (What's the game in Dora, you ask? Assisting her in finding the red berries or yelling at Swiper. See this not-safe-for-work Kevin Smith YouTube excerpt for an explanation.)

However with that in mind, there are some compelling arguments that its due time for World of Warcraft to get a few age restricted servers.

For starters, take a look at what Second Life has done. They're a pretty successful venture, and have a lot of parallels to MMORPGS like WoW. They've created a server called Teen Second Life in which they do their best to only allow teenagers between the ages of 13 – 17 access. When you turn 18 you're moved up to the adult server along with all your gear and property. Of course this has the same pitfalls as any other internet site where you can fake your identity, but it is a start; and a good one since Linden Labs actively polices age restrictions.

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

Oxhorn scores WeGame machinima job

Having been a full-time machinimator in Second Life for about 1.5 years now, I can definitely appreciate the plight of the WoW machinimator. They produce work that is easily 10 times the quality of what comes out of SL, yet have a hard time making any money off of it. However, it looks like Oxhorn has found a way.

Oxhorn has landed a gig with WeGame, a video sharing site with a twist. WeGame not only allows you to upload your machinima, it also provides you with a free desktop client for filming. If you can't afford to pay for Fraps or any of the other options, WeGame is your best bet.

Read on for more about Oxhorn's new job and WeGame ...

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Filed under: Machinima

Last Week on Massively: WoW-related stories

This week's round up of WoW-related posts on our sister site Massively spans the range from NSFW to Tauren Chefs. You can click on the links below or subscribe to a special WoW-only Massively feed.

Building a better MMOusetrap: PPOrnography in games
How is the ESRB rating system affecting your favorite MMO?

The WoW starts now!
A Second Life fan tries World of Warcraft for the first time. Read her impressions of an MMO newbie.

WoW comic artist on keeping the fans happy
The MTV Multiplayer staff interview the penciller behind the World of Warcraft comic.

Animations to die for
Should WoW have encounter specific death animations?

A tale of grinding, sucking and snowboarding
Should WoW add a snowboarding mini-game to make it more casual? Kyle Horner investigates the ramifications.

Behind the Curtain: Great Expectations
Craig Whithers uses this week's Behind the Curtain column to explore expectations players have going into many of the major MMOs (including WoW) and how well each game fulfills them.

WoW Europe spotlights noted machinima artists
Machinimist extraordinaire Baron Soosdon is interviewed by WoW Euorpe. Hear what he has to say about his art. Also, Olibith has his own interview exploring how he approaches his popular work.

The Escapist spends a day in the life of a WoW addict
Not all stories about playing WoW are downers about too much time in Azeroth. This one is about how WoW brought two people together.

Is that a Tauren in the kitchen?
A book of real life recipes based on in-game foods? Sounds familiar.

MMOGology: Leaving home
In his weekly column MMOGology, Marc Nottke asks "Do you have to stop playing one MMO to start a new one?"

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Features, Interviews

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