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Trial account restrictions and the 30 percent problem

A few days ago, we posted on a very interesting statistic: Only 30% of all WoW trial accounts make it past level 10. On some level, it's been assumed that this number explains why Blizzard's taking such care to smooth out the beginning game a bit, to make it easier and more fun to stick with the game past level 10 or so. In a large way, this makes sense. But there may be other reasons beyond game play in play as well.

If you're picking up a trial account, chances are that you heard about it from a friend or a blog or a news report. But chances are, you were shown or described a massively armored warrior engaged in fierce hand to hand combat on the back of a dragon flying through the air, or a finely robed mage flinging a fireball at the face of the lord of all magic, or something similarly epic. With that in mind, it might justifably get discouraging to show up in game to find yourself dressed in rags, wielding a toothpick, and being sent to collect wolf pelts that inexplicably only drop off about half the wolves you kill.

With that in mind, it's easy to see how a trial account user could get bored pretty fast. But for me, there's one other angle that very few people seem to be bringing up: The social angle.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Fixing raiding lag

There is quite a thread going around with some ideas about how to fix raiding lag. Lag, like many cross-computer issues, is a pretty complicated thing -- there's all kinds of reasons it could be happening, from errors on your computer to errors on Blizzard's end, and all the little connections and switches in between. A certain amount of lag is unavoidable. But there are certainly some things you can do to make sure the link between your client and Blizzard's server is working at its best. This thread, which started on the EJ forums and then moved on to Livejournal, has some good tips in it, including turning off most combat logs like Recount and even Blizzard's official "Everything" log -- having to write down everything happening in game does cost some computer time as you play. Blocking addon "spam" is another way to keep things simple and clear -- while lots of useful addons help you share information between raid members, sending that info back and forth can cause problems when you're down to milliseconds of lag.

The final suggestion is to run a third-party program that's supposed to keep your latency high, but I would be leery of doing that -- a better solution if you continue to have high latency constantly, even after making the changes above, would be to go to Blizzard (and/or your Internet Service Provider, or ISP) with your issues. They have a good guide to smoothing out your connection, and many times the problem can be with your router or firewall, which is usually a quick fix.

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Filed under: Guilds, Blizzard, Instances, Raiding, Hardware

The Queue: Windows 7 and the Kalu'ak

Welcome back to The Queue,'s daily Q&A column where the team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky be your host today.

Patrick Stewart doesn't look good in glasses.

Many of you asked...

"How am I going to do the Kalu'ak Fishing Derby when I raid at 8pm on Wednesday night?"

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Filed under: Fishing, Analysis / Opinion, Events, The Queue

Popcap's addons updated

Popcap kindly sent us a note to say that both of their free addons (Bejeweled and Peggle) for World of Warcraft have seen updates lately, so if you're still playing the versions you downloaded when they first came out, better give them a refresh. Bejeweled, the classic gem matching game, is now up to 1.1, and features a completely updated score system (you'll be asked to convert it the first time you load) that tracks all kinds of new features. In addition, the Achievements now have their own screen, so they're all easier to track as well. And a bunch of bug fixes have gone in, to make the game smoother and faster.

And Peggle has reached 1.02, with some new code to try and keep users with different versions from having compatibility problems, as well as a few options to keep the chatspam down to a minimum. If your guild is angry that you keep accidentally hitting "Publish" and getting your score in their guild chat, get this new version, as it allows you to control where that goes, as well as change the name from "Publish" to "Brag," to more accurately describe what it is.

Both versions can be downloaded right over on Popcap's WoW site, or from the usual suspects at your favorite addon databases. It's great that they're still updating these (still for free!), but, completely selfishly, we still kind of want Zuma next.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Add-Ons

Advertising for casinos banned

The past few weeks have seen a rise of in-game casinos on some servers. I haven't noticed any on my home server of Shadow Council, but on Arygos, where I've been toying with a horde hunter (level 34 right now), I can't walk two steps in Orgrimmar without seeing a /yell advertising a chance to win big.

As of April 20th, however, this will now be prohibited. In Blizzard's words, after that date, "any advertising for a casino is not permitted," and players are encouraged to report advertisers to the GMs. I have to say, I'm not sad to see the casinos go. It's a clever way to make money, yes, but I don't like seeing players advertise repetitively, and of course, the house always wins. It's nice that Blizzard was so responsive about this issue.

While the new rule doesn't prohibit casinos directly, I imagine it will put a stop to most of them, unless there is some secret network of private casinos out there, with transactions carried on in mysterious raid and party chats, or custom channels. If there is, carry on - that's super-cool.

Forum Post of the Day: Angry title and coffee with gin

I don't know why I laughed out loud when I read the following quote from Ghostcrawler on a trollish forum post, but I did:


Yup. Just like that. Caps spam and all. Throw in a "Don't nerf me, bro!" or "To the ground, baby!" at the end of that and you have yourself a real Ghostcrawler statement.

Now this might be some unabashed fanboi-ism on my part, but the question I have after reading that is "What kind of gin do you drink?" I have to imagine Ghostcrawler is the kind of guy who enjoys some top shelf liquor. I'm sure he's making enough at Blizzard to afford it. Perhaps some Tanqueray Rangpur? Or some Anchor Junipero?

Personally I enjoy Bombay Sapphire and the Rangpur, though I've been known to grab some Beefeater if that's all that's available. If Ghostcrawler is reading this, we'd love to know what kind of gin you drink. Feel free to drop us a note on our tip line and we'll update this post.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Humor

How to turn off Achievement Spam

I love everything about Achievements. I love getting them, striving for them, perusing them, hearing about them and watching other people get them. (And, obviously, I love writing about them.) They have really added more enjoyment to my gameplay. I loved hearing "Grats noob" in guildchat when I hit 30 on my Mage. I even love it when I get spammed by a bunch of guildies achieving a Jenkins title at the same time. But not everybody does.

Some are turning off their Achievement Announcements. Whether it is Achievement envy or an aversion to fun (yes, I'm not objective), they have figured out how to turn off being notified every time someone in the vicinity loads up their pets and Tricks or Treats for the first time. It's easy to do:
  1. Right click on the chat tab that you want to remove the notifications from.
  2. Select Settings.
  3. Select Other.
  4. Uncheck Achievement Announce.
  5. For turning off Guildchat announcements, select Chat and then uncheck Guild Announce -- but this turns off all Guild announcements.
(Edit: Updated for accuracy. Will update for guildchat when the servers come back up.)
Once Hallow's End is over and the flurry of easy Achievements have been conquered, the spam will die down. The messages will definitely not be a constant throughout Wrath. But, even if it were, I'd still be happily reading about my guildies and the people around me achieving things. But maybe that's because I'm a casual player in a guild full of hardcore raiders -- I get to read about the Achievements I will probably never earn. I admit it. Sometimes I play vicariously.

How do you feel about the Achievement Spam?

Filed under: Tips, How-tos, Achievements

Death is in the air for gold sellers

What smells like dead Orcs and flies? Goldseller spam in Orgrimmar. In the last few weeks it has been dead Gnomes in Ironforge. The dead bodies spell out the name of a gold selling website. This tactic has returned from about a year or so ago, but this is the first time I've heard of it in Orgrimmar. The body advertisements look sharper than the old versions. All in all it seems like an awful lot of work to get around spam filters.

Gold sellers have used several means to get their message out to the public, and Blizzard has found ways to combat it. I remember back in the day when we used to get spammed with whispers. Blizzard introduced the report spam feature for users to flag this content, the whispers nearly completely ceased overnight. I have to hand it to them, the gold sellers come up with innovative ways to market their product. Sure it violates the terms of use, but gold-selling by its nature is a violation. What's one more script here and there for them?

Filed under: Cheats, Making money

McAfee report reveals the most dangerous web domains

In an era where clicking on the wrong link while browsing the web could mean your account will get hacked, and one of your guild members clicking on the wrong link means your guild bank could get emptied as well, it's always good to protect yourself and keep abreast of web security issues.

In that vein, it's worth checking out a new report released by McAfee called Mapping the Mal Web Report Revisited. It tested 9.9 Million websites in 265 domains to find out which ones had a higher risk of exposing visitors to malware, spam, and malicious attacks via a red, yellow, and green system.

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

Gold spammers at it again

Last week reader Jay sent me a screen shot of something I hadn't seen in a while – a gold seller using /tell to spread their wares. For a long time Blizzard has maintained this is illegal activity, and has taken substantial steps to negate the spammers ability to do this. In game spam protection done behind the scenes has been working well. However it looks like the gold spammers have found a way around this.

Initially I was pretty surprised to see the screen shot. After all, this hadn't been happening much. However a couple of days after getting this, I found some gold spam in my chat log as well. I was floored. Now they're back to their old tricks, and even some new ones.

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

Gold sellers hold account hostage

We all deal with them. Their annoying spam, their flooding of the general channels. Those gold sellers deserve the kiss of death. Wouldn't it be nice if their industry just went and slept with the fishes?

In a tactic that even Don Corleone himself would be angry at, gold sellers have sunken to a new low. John M. wrote in to tell us the tale of a fellow guild mate who fell under the gaze of a gold seller who took his account hostage, demanding payment from his guild. Sit back, open up a new window with this Godfather music, and read on after the break.

I'm gonna make you an offer you can't refuse.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, News items, Economy, Making money, Rumors

Anti-gold-seller FAQ page goes up at the official EU site

Why do Shattrath City banks have no guards? Do they just assume the Naaru will smite anyone with sticky fingers?World of Warcraft's European site has posted a new page of their FAQ aiming to describe the effects and consequences of third party gold selling, also known as RMT (Real Money Trade or Real Money Transactions). There doesn't seem to be a similar page added to the American site yet, but we've seen enough to know very well that they disapprove as well.

The page mostly focuses on the more underhanded tactics the companies use to get money, such as keyloggers and trojans, or simply stealing the accounts of people who paid for powerleveling, and using them as farming bots, or spamming in high traffic areas on level 1 characters with hard to spell names. It's a good start, and certainly reminds people of the harm that these gold farmers do, and how it can hit close to home.

As a veteran MMORPGer who's watched Johnathan Yantis and Brock Pierce practically invent the industry and most of the dirty tricks it pulls, I'm glad to see Blizzard continue to make a stand against these types of leeches and hope they continue to do so. I'd love to see them explain more fully how the constant amount of kill stealing and spawn and AH camping they do hurts the game. A campaign of information might be just what we need to stop the gold farmers once and for all. Legal measures and community shame (and thus shrinking of their customer base) for a one-two punch? Here's hoping!

Thanks for the heads up, Richard!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy, Making money

Blizzard puts Peons4Hire out of work

This is probably the best news I've heard so far all year: Blizzard has won an injunction against Peons4Hire (we'll say their name now), which means that the one-time constant chat spammer is now legally banned from interfering with the game. It sounds like Blizzard sued on nearly all the causes that were speculated on a while ago, and as a result, have outright won their case: according to the injunction, In Game Dollar (the company that advertised Peons4Hire) is "permanently enjoined" from "making any use of the World of Warcraft in-game communication or chat system to advertise any website, business, or commercial endeavor."

Which means, in no uncertain terms, that we'll never see those ingame tells again. The only drawback is that, as Virtually Blind says, this is an injunction, not a decision, and so it doesn't have the "precedential weight" that a decision might-- Blizzard can't really legally use this to walk away with an easy win in the next case that comes along. But over the course of a few different settlements, including stuff happening in other virtual worlds, there is a legal precedent being established against using one company's service without permission to advertise another.

I'm just happy that, after being driven nuts by all that chat spam for so long, Blizzard was able to walk away with a solid victory.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Invites disabled for trial accounts

"Hey, want to learn how to level the fastest way possible?" If you've played a character below level 30 any time recently, that probably looks infuriatingly familiar. Ever since the new spam protection features in patch 2.1, party chat has been one of the few ways spam has actually been getting through to many of us. You get an invite from a random level 1 character somewhere on a trial account, and then the fun starts in /p. I usually respond with "hey, want to get reported for spamming the fastest way possible?", but it still happens at least every fifteen minutes or so on some servers. A few hours ago, Blizzard went ahead and made the obvious and frequently suggested change: players on trial accounts can no longer send invites (Drysc).

They can still be invited to groups by subscribers, so people who are using trial accounts because they're legitimately curious about the game will continue to have a chance to experience group play. I'm optimistic that this change will greatly reduce the amount of spam I get, although I'm also sure the spammers will not take too long to find yet another way to share with us the opportunities of buying gold and powerleveling.

Filed under: News items

Forum Post of the Day: Lookin' good

If you've been reading our Shifting Perspectives druid column, then you'll probably remember our discussion of the way druids look as they level up and get newer gear. The druids over in Europe have found a new way to show Blizzard how they feel about it on their forums: in a post by Rawr, entitled "[Screenshot] Season 3 Set Looks So Awesome," they've not only highlighted how druids look in the latest arena gear (as pictured above), but they've shown compiled pics very much like all the the different gear they've had leveling up, from level 10 to level 70.

My druid looked something like this at level 10, which as you can see, is pretty drab. But once I got to level 45 or so, I completed a set I thought looked pretty nice. Now at 70, I have three sets for Bear form, for Cat form, and for healing. I don't mean to brag or anything -- my gear isn't the best in the world -- but one day I hope my druid can look like Xgeno does in his armor!

There are many players out there who may think druids' opinion on their looks is a petty issue that doesn't matter, but when you think about it, there are lots of people out there with very strong opinions on class-specific issues that other classes don't understand in the least. In an age when some players stage riots on their servers or spam forums to protest class problems, these druids have once again demonstrated that there are alternative ways to share your feelings on a particular issue.

For anyone out there who feels extremely angry, happy, or whatever, about any particular class issue, it makes sense to stop and think how you want to look in the eyes of other players before posting on the forums about it. Do you want them to get really frustrated because you're disrupting their gaming in some way? Or do you want them to read your post, then grin and say, "I see what you did there?"

[Thanks Lewi!]

Edit: Apparently the European thread Lewi brought to our attention has its roots in the US. The level 20 druid Pando showed everyone what her animal form looked like, and invited everyone to show theirs. Classic. [Thanks Delkral!]

Filed under: Druid, Humor, Leveling, Forums

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