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Searching for the most popular server


Kris over on the WoW LJ has an interesting question: what's the most popular server in the game? Blizzard never has (and likely never will) singled out one server as the most popular in the game, as the QQ that would ensue might bring the forums down (not to mention that it must change pretty often, as people transfer and reroll on other realms. It seems that everyone on a high population server thinks they must be top dog when they see queues during prime time, but the most widespread concrete numbers we have are probably from the unofficial Warcraft Realms census: they claim that, with over 35,000 characters on it, Whisperwind is number one.

Of course, even that can't be trusted -- those numbers are picked up from the site's addon, all within the last 30 days, and it could just be that WR has more info about more people on that server. But at the same time, I'd guess that Warcraft Realms' numbers are in the ballpark, as long as you're talking about Yankee Stadium. Whisperwind, Cenarion Circle, Stormrage, Moon Guard, and Proudmoore are all big servers, I can promise you anecdotally, while Laughing Skull, Blood Furnace, and Malorne are definitely at the other end of the spectrum. As for a most popular realm, there probably isn't one specifically (it changes periodically, if not even at different times of the day). But if your realm is near the top of Warcraft Realms' list, it's probably busier than the others.

Filed under: Realm News, Realm Status, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Instances

BG Hero tracks your battleground activity


I'm really impressed with BG Hero. We take a look at these stats sites pretty often, but I have never seen a site targeted strictly at PvP data like this one, and with such a clean and interesting view. Unfortunately, it's still getting off the ground, so we're probably going to give the server a run for its money with this link, but give it a few days and head back there when they've smoothed things out.

It'll track your plays and wins in each BG, obviously, but you can also get a whole bunch of graphs and numbers about how you're doing each time you play, including HKs per BG, and killing blows per battleground that you play. The app also tracks your totals daily and weekly, so if you get your character in there and let it update over a period of time, you can see just how you're doing. Pretty amazing stuff if you've been playing a lot of battlegrounds lately (and with the extra XP in there, why wouldn't you?). We're told the site is still being worked on, so expect more updates soon (and Phood is keeping info flowing on his blog), but in the meantime, it looks like a great way to look at your BG progress in more detail.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Leveling, Battlegrounds

Twisted Nether Wiki compiles a nice list of WoW utilities

A few folks over at the Twisted Nether Wiki have done a great thing and compiled a nice full list of all of those little online WoW utilities that we talk about every once in a while. From character improvement tools like Be Imba! to resources like Kaliban's Loot Lists and even humor sites like WoWBash, if it's online, WoW-related, and worth visiting more than once, it's on this list.

And of course it's a wiki, so even if it's not on that list, you can add it. But it is cool to have all of those resources in one place -- we mention them, obviously, when there are updates to share, but if you don't bookmark them when you hear about them, they might have fallen off your radar. There are so many great and well-designed tools out there for players to use that something like this, tracking them all, is great to have.

Filed under: How-tos, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Add-Ons, Raiding

The WoW Headhunter helps with guild recruiting

Last week we were kindly invited on the PixelatedGeek podcast (thanks, Erin and Nelson, for having me!) and while there, we heard from Darren of WoW Headhunter, a brand new site that wants to get you or your guild hooked up with some new guildies. The site is pretty barebones: you can look through available guilds or enter your own. But they do add a little something new: whenever you enter a guild into the site, you can create application questions and even run through a survey that charts your guild along four lines: between Reckless and Deliberate, Social and Competitive, Fun and Serious, and Learner and Veteran. So you can choose between the Reckless Competitive Veterans and the Deliberate Social Learners.

Kind of a fun idea. Unfortunately, the site isn't too populated yet (I couldn't find recruiting guilds on either of the servers I frequent), but it did just go live today, so it may take some time for recruiting guilds to find their way over there. And unfortunately, while there is an option to put an Armory link in your profile, the site itself doesn't tie in to the Armory directly, so you still have to go searching for metrics when players apply (would be nice to see a list of what achievements have been done by the player, as well as some common stats to compare).

But it will be nice to have a list of guilds to browse, along with a little more info about them, all in one place. If you've been looking for a guild for a while with no luck, there's one more option.

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

TagWoW shrinks your WoW URLs [Updated: NSFW]

There are already quite a few "shrink your URL" sites out there, from the famous TinyURL to my favorite, is.gd. But former Wowhead honcho Tim Sullivan has seen fit to add one more to the mix, and who knows, maybe the tiny bit of functionality it adds will be worth it. TagWoW will shrink your Warcraft-related URLs (well, it'll shrink anything, but it's meant for Warcraft stuff) into whatever tiny URL you want, and then it'll track the most popular pages on the homepage.

Sure, it's just another URL-shrinking site, but there is some usefulness to be found here -- Blizzard forum URLs, many guild websites, and talent builds on Wowhead and elsewhere all have gigantic URLs, and shrinking them down to a memorable phrase could be helpful. Not to mention that Tim tells us that they want to "heavily moderate" the service -- gold farmers, keystroke loggers, and phishing sites are supposed to be kicked right out of the system, so if you see a TagWoW link on the forums, you will hopefully always be able follow it without worrying about compromising your security.

Like I said, there's just enough functionality added here that it could end up being something big. Currently, there's apparently only a few URLs saved in the system (the site only went live last week), but you can probably expect things to pick up with our post here -- and hopefully we won't burn the site down. With the right URL submissions and, as Tim promises, some serious moderation to make everything trustworthy, TagWoW could be a nice service.

EDIT: Be advised that as of this writing one of the links on the front page of TagWoW leads to an adult site though it doesn't say so in the link description. Click the links on TagWoW at your own risk.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tips, News items, Making money

3D Armory does what it says on the tin

There are many Armory sites out there, since Blizzard had the foresight to put the Armory data in XML so anyone who wanted to could use it in alternate presentations. 3D Armory is a new Armory site, just released into public beta. As you might have guessed, the focus of the site is on loading your character's data and displaying a 3D model of your toon; for instance, at top right you can see my death knight and how his gear looks in-game (yes, I'm still wearing my heirloom shoulders).

It does what it sets out to do, and does it pretty well: just select "eu" or "us" from the popup at the top of the page, type in your realm and character name, and hit go. Points off for having cryptic icons for all the functionality with only tooltips to indicate what they might do - I'm a big fan of obvious UI over flashy-looking UI.

Read more →

Filed under: Items

Blizzard C&Ds Datecraft, they redesign


I can't quite see the purpose of World of Warcraft (or gaming in general) flavored dating sites -- if you were looking for a potential partner, why limit yourself to only people that play this game? But nevertheless, there are quite a few of them around, so someone must be using them. Datecraft is a site that was specifically targeted World of Warcraft bachelors and bachelorettes -- at least until this past week, when Blizzard hit them up with a C&D.

Well, not actually -- they only got threatened with one. We heard from the site's founders, and they tell us that they got a call from Rod Rigole, a VP of Legal Affairs over at Blizzard, who told them to cut out using Blizzard's artwork and terminology on their website was a no-no, and that they would be recieving legal papers soon. Rather than pick a fight, they instead redesigned to the standard gamer dating site you see today.

But here's the kicker: they used an official fansite kit to actually make the site. Even with the stuff they give out, Blizzard seems extremely protective of their artistic IP -- they used this same technique to attack the WotLK wiki and the Glider folks as well. They'll let fans slide, it seems, but if you're making money off of their materials, beware.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items, Forums

Wowhead's WotLK site is open

The gates to Northrend are open – to the lucky few who have gotten invites into the beta. For the rest of us, the best we can do is follow along on sites like, oh, here, as well as WotlkWiki and others. Now there's one more to add to the list: Wowhead has opened their Wrath site, with details on hundreds of items, quests, spells, and more, as well as the talent calculators we've talked about before

One of my particular favorites is the beta patch notes, which are nicely formatted and have links to all relevant spells, abilities, talents, and items mentioned in the notes (super-handy). New data updates are coming in all the time. There are many neat and yet-undiscovered things to be found there, so take a look around, and let us know if you come up with anything interesting.

Filed under: News items, Wrath of the Lich King

Allakhazam gets a refresh


Well, this was certainly unexpected. Allakhazam, one of the WoW database sites that has been around the longest, has undergone a complete revamp. There are all sorts of new features, including:
  • User-editable pages
  • Tagging
  • Profiles, with 3D model viewer and upgrade searching

Not to mention a re-skin which makes it look much more up-to-date. That's not all – they're currently running a contest, wherein every contribution to their wiki, forum, or comments, for the entire month of June, has a chance to win one of the following:

  • One of 72 60-day game cards
  • One of three Wii Galaxy bundles
  • Grand prize: a gamer-friendly laptop

So go forth, and make Allakhazam a more complete site. Overall, I like the redesign; it makes Allakhazam feel much more relevant, and helps answer the quest of what's going to differentiate it from sister sites Wowhead and Thottbot. I'll still probably go to Wowhead most of the time, but that's just me.

Filed under: News items

Wowhead says Bonjour, Hola, and Guten Tag

The good people at Wowhead, WoW database extraordinaire, have just warned me that the French, the Spanish, and the Germans are invading! OK, not really. Actually, the site is set to go live with localizations in those three languages, which will appear in the next 24 hours. You will then be able to read descriptions of quests, spells, and items, and everything else on that marvelous site, in any of those languages (plus of course English).

Each language will have its own comment thread on each page, although the forums will remain English-only. I imagine this will come as welcome news to the many WoW players out there who do not have English as a first language; even on the North American realms, there seem to be a fair amount of French speakers. Hooray for multilingualism!

Filed under: News items

WoWWiki levels up

Those of you who have been around for a little while will no doubt know about one of the most useful resources in this World of Warcraft: WoWWiki. If you're new to the party, let me tell you about it. WoWWiki is, as the name suggests, a wiki about all things Warcraft. From boss strategies to patch history to insanely detailed lore, if it's about the Warcraft series, it's probably on there somewhere. And if not, it's a wiki, so you can write it yourself!

The occasion for this particular post is that they have just completed some major upgrades to their software and infrastructure. Here are the highlights:
  • WoWWiki is now hosted in a distributed fashion across the Wikia network, which should mean more stability and less chance of catastrophic failure.
  • A new default skin, which looks nice and classy.
  • The OpenSearch plugin is now working again, so you can add WoWWiki as a search engine in Firefox or IE (though I still prefer Firefox's search keywords). Click on the menu by your search field while browsing WoWWiki to check it out.
  • A proper sidebar menu, with links to important parts of the site. This fixes my single biggest complaint about the site, which is that it was hard to navigate.
  • The sidebar is also now customizable; users can pick which widgets they want to see over there, and in what order. This is very cool.
  • A new version of MediaWiki, which brings many feature improvements and bug fixes.
Head on over and check it out! And thanks to Kirkburn and everyone else who has helped make WoWWiki such a fantastic site.

Filed under: News items

Popular hunter pet site Petopia gets a facelift, new informational pages

Here's a nice little bit of news for all leveling Hunters, people looking into starting a hunter alt, or people looking to switch out or tweak out their current pet: the popular depository of all things Hunter pet related in WoW, Petopia, has gotten a facelift and a few handy new reference pages. The quick links and references seem to be a lot more streamlined now, and it should be even easier to find information. Some pages are still making the transition, and some of the pet pictures have not been updated to the new color scheme, but Mania assures us she is working on that.

In the meantime, she's also added a few new pages to the library, namely the Retired Pet page and the "Fake" Pet Skills page. The former deals with formerly tamable pets that can no longer be tamed, while the latter deals with pet skills that are present during the newbie hunter taming quests, but not on any permanently tamed pet.

I rather like both of the new pages. Not only should the information be helpful (if sad) to any newbie wondering where they can get that awesome ghost wolf, but the pages were a nice walk down memory lane for this old hunter. I remember when I made first Tauren Hunter, I was always disappointed that Swoop wasn't an actual bird pet skill, and I was considering a pet crab for my Dwarf Hunter at one point, and would have loved to have a thorny pet to add a bit more damage and threat power for tanking. Crabs could probably use some love anyway, as they seem to be competing with the likes of Sporebats and Bears for most neglected pet family.

But anyway, if you're a Hunter, and you haven't checked out Petopia in a while, it's worth a look, there's some pretty cool stuff going on over there.

Filed under: Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, News items, Guides

Curse launches oddly familiar WoW database


There are quite a few WoW database sites out there. Thottbot was the first big one that I was aware of; other big sites include Allakhazam, the Goblin Workshop, and of course Wowhead. Then there are some lesser-known contenders (at least to me; it took me a bit to come up with them), like WoWd.org, WarCry (I use their news constantly, but never saw the database), GameAmp, WoW Guru, WoWDigger, and TenTonHammer (again, I know TTH for news, but didn't know they had a DB).

And now Curse, long one of the big names in Add-On and news sites, is throwing their hat into the ring with the very capitalized WOWDB, which appears to be in beta right now. It seems like a pretty complete database; it's got all the items, quests, NPCs, and so on that you would expect from a serious act like Curse. But hold on a minute, doesn't it looks a bit similar to a certain other WoW database site of which Curse doesn't seem to be too fond? (Update: Curse has contacted us to say that the linked article wasn't written by anyone on their staff-- instead, it was posted by a user of their site, and that they have no ill will towards Affinity Media or Wowhead). Ignore the Wrath of the Lich King-esque blues for a second, and...oh. Oh dear. Well, at least it's a good design they're copying from, I suppose. See the gallery below for more comparison screenshots. What do you guys think -- is this within the bounds of inspiration and homage, or a blatant rip-off?

Update: Someone named Kody, who claims to be a representative of Curse, has appeared in our comments, and claims that Curse has obtained an "exclusive content contract" with WoWWiki for the use of their information. An interesting claim, especially since most of the content on WoWWiki (written by users) should be covered under Wikia's terms of use and the GNU Free Documentation License, and thus available for use to anyone who credits and sources it. We've sent requests to both Kody and WoWWiki for more information.

Another update after the jump.

Read more →

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items

Wowhead evolves again

The best WoW database site (in my opinion) just got better. Several features have been added to Wowhead over the past couple days; as the site's "Adorable Bearcat Overlord" Miyari notes, they are perhaps not strictly essential (her term is "icing"), but nice to have anyway.

My favorite addition is that users' comments will now be annotated with the patch number that was in effect when the comment was made, so you can more easily spot information that might be outdated (see screenshot).

Alchemical recipes that are attained via discovery are now noted as such under the "source" tab, and the corresponded spells will state their provenance as well. Elixirs will now be annotated as to whether they are Battle or Guardian elixirs. Pet skills will now show which pets can learn the skill, as well as which mobs can teach the skill. And finally, tradeskill spells will show at what skill levels they change from orange to yellow, green, and gray.

I say well done, Wowhead folks! If you have any ideas for how Wowhead can improve, hit up the their Site Feeback forum.

Filed under: Hunter, Alchemy, Patches

New database site: WoWDigger

For those of you who are still a little uncomfortable about Wowhead, here's a new alternative. By IncGamers, the people behind the venerable WorldofWar.net, WoWDigger aims to fulfill your databse needs and then some:

WoWDigger is not only a World of Warcraft game database, but also a place where your character matters. Upload your character and see your recipes, quest log, bank, talents and more!. Choose what information you share with your friends, the WoW community or your guild!

IncGamers has always been staunchly anti-RMT (real money transfer), so you don't have to worry about that when using their sites; they promise that "There will be at no point gold selling adverts or any affilition to gold selling on WoWDigger." And with "choose what information you share..." in their description, they seem to be taking a bit of a jab at the Armory, with its privacy concerns. Furthermore, they are trying to keep the site banner-free:

As you may have noticed the site contains no banners. We intend to keep the site this way as best we can with the backing of the community. If you like the site and use it you can help the dev team by pressing the donate button on the right, this will go to cover server hosting costs. We know such a site like this is resource hungry but are going to do our best to keep the site ad free.

Overall it looks like a decent site; a little bare-bones in terms of content at the moment, of course, because it just started, but once it gets off the ground it might provide a nice alternative to the Affinity triad. Personally, I plan to still use Wowhead (due to design, speed, and content), but more options never hurt.

[via Into the Web]

Filed under: Fan stuff, News items

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