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Guest Post: Is your computer ready for Cataclysm?

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

The Lich King is dead, your GearScore is 6,000+, and you have enough alts to run your own 25-man ICC. You cannot wait for the upcoming Cataclysm expansion, but along with the new instances, gear and level cap, there are also significantly increased graphics to consider. You may be ready for Cataclysm -- but is your computer?

While we have yet to hear official system requirements from Blizzard, we do know from the Cataclysm FAQ that "there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we've made improvements to the way that water is rendered. We'll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion's release."

This is the first part of a three-part series on getting your computer up to speed for Cataclysm. Today, we will cover how to cheaply upgrade your current system. Part 2 will look at how to build a cost-effective, brand new system that will still run WoW at full settings. Finally, part 3 will focus on building a future-proof monster computer capable of soloing the Blood Queen herself!

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Confessions of a noob

We're having a great time sharing the voices of our readers on the site -- and readers seem to be thoroughly enjoying both writing and reading our regular guest posts, from articles such as Long exposure WoWtography and Northrend truckers: A tale of WoW OTR to the countless Breakfast Topics that help us blink our way through bleary mornings over a cup of steaming coffee.

This week, we're continuing the tradition with a new call for submissions about alts. Have you recently rerolled on a new-to-you class? Show us the other side of life as part of our "Confessions of a Noob: Class X" series, written especially by experienced players who are leveling a new class for the first time. Show us what you're learning about your new class. What has surprised you? Is there something about your class that you're having one dickens of a time remembering? How is your role in groups different? Have you gained a new appreciation for your new class -- or others?

We're not looking for narratives telling the story of what your character did while leveling. Instead, we're looking for opinions, comparisons and observations about the process of playing a class that may be very different from the one you're most used to. What are the facets of your new class that make playing this new character a compelling, enjoyable experience? Your title should clearly reflect the class of your new alt (for example, "Confessions of a Noob: Paladin"). Don't forget to provide perspective by explaining what class and spec you're most used to playing.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Fill our cup with Breakfast Topics

Help fill the WoW.com Breakfast Topic cup with hot, fresh topics! What's on your mind (and what do you think is on other players' minds) when it comes to the World of Warcraft? Write it up as Breakfast Topic and submit your article for a chance to be published right here on WoW.com.

We're looking for Breakfast Topics in our usual conversational style, asking the community for their thoughts on a WoW-related topic. Submissions should be between 200 and 400 words. (Watch that top end!) We're looking for strong writing in combination with topics that will spark an interesting conversation. Only the best submissions will be accepted.

WoW.com does not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your full, real name and an actual email address. Please include your email address again at the bottom of your submission. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or via creative commons.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Pitch us your big idea

And you thought we'd never ask! If you've been dying to propose what you think would be the perfect article for WoW.com, your golden opportunity has arrived. We're taking proposals for one-off feature articles on any WoW-related topic. Current game mechanics, what's ahead in Cataclysm, how-to articles, you name it -- if you can sell us on the idea, we just might give you the green light to write it up.

Your proposal synopsis should clearly outline the topic of your article and its major highlights. The synopsis should consist of three to four paragraphs about your idea -- enough to give us a taste of the tone and content you plan to bring to your article. Tell us what your article will be about, give us a basic run-down of the points you will discuss, and let your writing show us the general tone and approach we expect your piece to take. Should we accept your proposal, we'll open an assignment for the article, which will be evaluated separately and may or may not be accepted. Final articles should run between 750 and 1,000 words. We are likely to accept more proposals and make more assignments than we will accept and publish finished articles; only the very best articles will make it through to publication.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Guest Post: The death of in-game interaction


This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

WoW's evolution has changed the course of both MMO game design and the landscape of the MMO player base in dramatic ways. By exploring the road most traveled, WoW has led the way from the roots of tabletop pen-and-paper RPGs and early MMO tabletop simulations into MMOs as virtual RPG themeparks.

Despite WoW's fantastic success on many fronts, in its evolution toward catering to the most common, casual style of play, it's removed much of the human interaction that made early MMO experiences special. Today's WoW is slick, seamless and streamlined. There is nothing one player can achieve that another player cannot also relatively easily achieve. Yet while players in today's WoW maintain that this thinly clad, egalitarian experience is "best," in reality, what we see is a continuous striving for distinction free from the confines of the game design itself. The ever-present GearScore sniff test has streamlined the need for player interaction to the point that interaction is barely needed at all.

In fact, it might be this very streamlining that has caused this MMO behemoth to slide away from the real magic of the early MMOs, to become a sanitized gaming experience that only barely acknowledges its need for virtual face-to-face gameplay. I miss the real interaction with my fellow players that speaks to the oldest traditions of what spawned MMOs: tabletop RPGs. I want player interactions to drive the game experience, from raiding to crafting to questing. The biggest villains and heroes of an MMO should be players, not pre-scripted heroes and playerless cut scenes. The next big MMO, I hope, can make this happen.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: All about WoW TCG

We're more than a little surprised that there's so little talk around these parts about the World of Warcraft Trading Card Game. After all, players who've been around the gaming scene for very many years tend to have dabbled in card games like Magic: The Gathering. WoW itself would be a very different creation without the influence of games like MTG and the games that inspired it -- so let's talk about WoW's own collectible card game!

WoW.com is accepting article submissions from experienced WoW TCG players. What does it take to get started? What's the gameplay like? How do the loot cards tie in, and what's been available so far? Is the game part of the tournament scene? Your article will give readers who've never played WoW TCG a peek into the game and the world of card games.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Hot, fresh Breakfast Topics

Sweet -- WoW.com's open for Breakfast Topic submissions again! What's on your mind (and what do you think is on other players' minds) when it comes to the World of Warcraft? Write it up as Breakfast Topic and submit your article for a chance to be published right here on WoW.com.

We're looking for Breakfast Topics in our usual conversational style, asking the community for their thoughts on a WoW-related topic. Submissions should be between 200 and 400 words. (Watch that top end!) We're looking for strong writing in combination with topics that will spark an interesting conversation. Only the best submissions will be accepted.

WoW.com does not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your full, real name and an actual email address. Please include your email address again at the bottom of your submission. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or from creative commons.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Three fresh ideas for world PvP events

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

Of all the PvP events I've participated in over the years, the battle for Halaa in Nagrand always sticks out in my mind as one of the best-executed examples of world PvP that the World of Warcraft has ever produced. The battle for Halaa brought together several areas of warfare in perfect harmony.

  • The element of surprise The battle for Halaa took place at any time. Whenever the opposite faction felt like taking control of the city, they could form a raid and start bombing. It left the controlling faction scrambling to assemble a defense when the words "Halaa is under attack!" popped up on their screens.
  • Aerial assault Players had to activate one of four wyvern stations and fly over the city of Halaa to drop bombs, causing massive amounts of damage. Until the defenses were weakened, players could not successfully enter the city.
  • Sabotage While enemy players were taking to the skies, one of the keys to success was to destroy the activated wyvern stations to prevent those enemy players from immediately taking off for another bombing run.
  • Siege warfare Once the city's defenses were eliminated, the conquering force moved into the city center and held the city captive. Either the defending faction would break the siege and regain control of the city or it would be lost to the conquering heroes.
  • Spoils of war Defeating your enemy within the boundaries of Halaa yielded you a Halaa Battle Token. Once you controlled Halaa, those tokens could be spent on various rewards, including the coveted Dark War Talbuk.

With new expansions come new territories to explore and conquer. Sadly, Nagrand and the war-torn city of Halaa fell to the wayside in favor of Wintergrasp once Wrath of the Lich King was released. So what does a player who is hungry for world PvP do now? If you have some friends and are will to do a little organizing and promoting, here are three new ideas to spring on your server.

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Filed under: PvP, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Pour us some fresh Breakfast Topics

Psst -- wake up! The WoW.com Breakfast Topic coffee cup is back, ready to be filled up with your submissions. What's on your mind (and what do you think is on other players' minds) when it comes to the World of Warcraft? Write it up as Breakfast Topic and submit your article for a chance to be published right here on WoW.com.

We're looking for Breakfast Topics in our usual conversational style, asking the community for their thoughts on a WoW-related topic. Submissions should be between 200 and 500 words; watch that top end! We're looking for strong writing in combination with topics that will spark an interesting conversation. Only the best submissions will be accepted.

WoW.com does not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your real name and actual email address. Unfortunately, the Seed program currently only allows us to accept submissions from individuals living in the United States, as Seed.com accounts currently are not supported by non-US IP addresses. We hope the platform will be closer to readiness for international access later this year. Check seed.com or the Seed blog for updates.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: 3 fresh ideas for world PvP events

What was the best world PvP event you've ever enjoyed? Was it a cross-faction event? Did players from other realms join in? Was there an element of surprise for the other faction? Was it, perhaps, a more peaceful type of party? And now, what if you were in charge of designing and organizing a world PvP event ... what would it be like?

WoW.com is accepting article submissions describing three fresh ideas for organized world PvP events. Submissions should be between 750 and 1,000 words. We will not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your real name and email. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or from creative commons.

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Filed under: WoW Insider Business, PvP, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Top 10 opportunities to go AFK in raids

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

Throughout my time raiding in WoW, I've noticed that a lot of things factor into the success or failure of a raid. Coordination, cooldown timing, proper raid composition and end-game gear can only go so far if your raid is physically or (more likely) mentally exhausted. Playing as both a raid leader and a rank-and-file member has allowed me to find the best times to take a breather and recharge my gaming battery during a raid environment. Here are some of the best times as a raid leader to call a break and some convenient times for raid members to sneak a quick breather that will minimize the effect on the raid as a whole.

10. The Prescheduled Break The prescheduled break is just that: prescheduled. Your raiders know exactly when they will be able to leave their keyboards for that much-needed bio break or to change out the laundry. I've been in guilds that called five-minute breaks on the top of the hour, and I've been in guilds that decided that the two-hour mark was the key to success. Whatever your time, your raiders will know when they are not needed, allowing them the flexibility to plan according to the set schedule.

9. The Flask Break The flask break is similar to the prescheduled break; the break occurs as soon as flasks expire. I find that this system works remarkably well, as raiders spend time, gold and resources obtaining flasks and have a vested interest in how the time is spent using it. I've seen faster and more efficient trash pulls and a bit more boss awareness when using this method, as it's a race against the clock in order to prevent using another flask to obtain the objective.

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Filed under: Raiding, Guest Posts

Buff(ing) for BlizzCon: Raid preparation

Buff(ing) for BlizzCon is a bi-weekly fitness series written by ShrinkGeek authors Rafe Brox and Michael McGreevy. Join the WoW.com team in getting in shape for the ultimate WoW geek event: BlizzCon.

Unless you're a super-casual player, there is a pretty good chance that you spend a lot of time both in and out of the game doing preparation work. From reading up on strategies, to farming materials for flasks and everything in between, there are countless ways that you can get yourself ready to take on the current shiny encounter in World of Warcraft.
Unfortunately for many people, what they don't spend time thinking about before raid night is what they are going to be snacking on. If you're trying to make better food choices, this can be a serious roadblock. There aren't many guilds that will allow you to take a long enough AFK to prepare a healthy meal in the middle of a raid, so many players end up opting for "easy" food choices to satisfy a sudden onslaught of the Hungry debuff. The problem with that is that most "easy" food choices aren't all that good for you. When this type of itch is scratched, it's usually through something like a bag of chips or some sort of chemically ambiguous frozen meal, neither of which are really good choices if you're trying to eat wisely.

Your likelihood of success in defeating a new boss fight is greatly increased if you prepare yourself for the encounter. Eating wisely is no different. I've got a few strategies that you can follow that just might keep you from seeing a diet Total Party Kill as a result of uncontrollable mid-raid snacking.

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Filed under: BlizzCon, Guest Posts

Call for Submissions: Open call for article proposals

And you thought we'd never ask! If you've ever been dying to propose what you think would be the perfect article for WoW.com, your golden opportunity has arrived. We're taking proposals for one-off feature articles on any WoW-related topic. Current game mechanics, what's ahead in Cataclysm, how-to's, you name it -- if you can sell us on the idea, we just might give you the green light to write it up.

Your feature article proposal should clearly outline the topic of your article and its major highlights. It should be lengthy enough (one to three paragraphs) to give us a taste of the tone you plan to bring to your writing. Should we accept your proposal, we'll open an assignment for the article, which will be evaluated separately and may or may not be accepted. Final feature submissions should run between 500 and 1,000 words. Artwork is not mandatory, but any you choose to include must be your own work or from creative commons. We will not accept articles submitted under player names or pen names; please use your real name and email.

We are likely to accept more proposals and make more assignments than we are final articles; only the very best articles will make it through to publication.

Ready to submit? Read up about our guest post program, then sign up for Seed and submit your proposal here. (You can't see the proposal page unless you have a Seed account.) Unfortunately, the Seed program currently only allows us to accept submissions from individuals living in the United States; we hope to be able to accept international submissions in the future. We'll accept submissions for this assignment until 11:59 p.m. EST on Thurs., July 8. Good luck and good writing!

Filed under: WoW Insider Business, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Qualities of an effective raid leader

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

If you look in /trade immediately after your faction takes Wintergrasp, it becomes readily apparent that not everybody wants to lead a raid. "DPS LFG VoA-10!" "Healer LF VoA!" "Tank LF VoA-10/25!" If you're me, you're often tempted to step in and remind these LFGers that leading a raid requires nothing more (at least at its absolute, base level) than inviting people to a group and zoning in.

But of course it isn't that simple, and pugging VoA has very little in common with leading nine other people into Icecrown Citadel. VoA groups practically run themselves, are completed in 15 to 20 minutes and rarely fail, whereas it's still possible to wipe on trash in ICC. The hardest part of leading a VoA run is remembering to switch to master looter.

So what makes a great raid leader? What qualities does a raid leader exhibit that makes their group keep coming back week after week?

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Filed under: Raiding, Guest Posts

Buff(ing) for BlizzCon: Progress check

Buff(ing) for BlizzCon is a bi-weekly fitness series written by ShrinkGeek authors Rafe Brox and Michael McGreevy. Join the WoW.com team in getting in shape for the ultimate WoW geek event: BlizzCon.

We've reached the two month mark, a third of the way through the quest [Buff for BlizzCon]. While there is still plenty of time before the big event, getting off to a good start means you've already got your rotations down, you know what you're doing, and you're making progress. Sure, you can still beat the timer if you stumble on the first boss, but it's a lot easier if you don't. And, on the other hand, if things have gotten off to a slower beginning for whatever reason (bad weather, injury, a scathing case of Loremaster-itis), you can mount up and make your way towards your goals all the same.

With that in mind, it's time for me to do my Patchwerk impersonation and perform a DPS check on our team of intrepid writers.

"Staffers come play?"

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Filed under: BlizzCon, Guest Posts

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