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The Lawbringer: Gotta sue 'em all over the Pet Battle system?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Remember in the last edition of Lawbringer, when I wrote that the majority of the questions post-BlizzCon 2011 were questions about panda people, whether Kung Fu Panda would sue, and how Pandaren are possible in China? Well, there was a third question: How can the Pet Battle system exist in World of Warcraft when it is so spiritually and mechanically similar to the underlying game mechanics of the Pokémon franchise? The truth is that it is and it isn't as similar as you might suspect, and the key factors in any copyright fight don't hold up a potential cause of action.

From the BlizzCon presentation, we gleaned a good bit of information about the WoW Pet Battle system coming with Mists of Pandaria. Players have been collecting companion (or vanity) pets for years, little dudes and dudettes who follow your characters around looking cool, performing cute emotes, and acting as the occasional status symbol. Companion pets even became the first foray into Blizzard-accepted real-money gold buying with the Guardian Cub as an experiment in fighting gray-market gold selling. Companion pets have become their own meta-game in WoW despite the introduction of the actual meta-game Pet Battle system.

Companion pets will now be at the center of a minigame of their own. After years of collecting and coveting, finally these pets will serve a purpose beyond looking adorable or annoying Dalaran with chilling screams of "NEW TOYS, FOR ME?!" Many players have noticed that the Pet Battle system bears a striking resemblance to the biggest pet battle system franchise ever created, Pokémon. Do you know what Pokémon is? I'm sure you know what Pokémon is.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

How many wipes does it take to end a raid?

This is probably a good question to revisit since we're heading into a patch where lots and lots of us will be running pickup raids and groups. Souldreamer on WoW Ladies LJ asks: "just when do you give up on a raid?" It's a good question, and unfortunately, the answer probably depends on the raid itself. If, going in, you're not sure just how much DPS the raid can do, and your healer says he's actually specced prot, and you were planning on going to bed anyway, one wipe is probably enough to call it. On the other hand, if you've dropped a few bosses and have an issue with the tank losing aggro for a second on a boss, you'll probably go back for another few wipes just to see.

Do any of you have an actual policy? I tend to not get involved in PuGs at all if I think there's a chance they won't make it -- there are too many fish in the sea, and too many other things for me to work on rather than beating my head up against a boss. But maybe it would be good to set up a rule that most of us can agree on, something like, "three wipes and you're out." That might save a lot of time and frustration in the new Dungeon system.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Instances, Raiding

The sudden popularity of GDKP

We've been seeing this GDKP thing sneak up on the forums and elsewhere a lot lately, and while Scott has mentioned it (in a somewhat disparaging way, in fact), we haven't really taken a good look at it yet. So let's do so. GDKP stands for Gold DKP, which is kind of a mishmash of acronyms. DKP, or Dragon Kill Points, are a very popular way of determining loot division in a raid -- the concept dates back to earlier MMOs, and involves players earning points per boss kill that they can then spend on gear. We've talked about other DKP systems before. But rather than awarding loot based on arbitrary points, Gold DKP, as you may have guessed, instead gives loot to the player willing to pay the most gold... to the other players in the raid.

The way it works is this: You go into an instance, say Naxx, and everyone knows ahead of time that it is a "GDKP run," or a "gold run," or a "cash run." You down the first boss, and Webbed Death drops. The master looter then takes bids of gold on the item (this can be done via public chat or via an addon), and whoever bids the most gold gets the item. The person who wins then pays that amount of gold (some raids have minimum bids of, say, 100g) to "the pot," and the raid moves on. Another boss drops, another item drops -- usually all items, including recipes and mats, are auctioned off -- and another high bid goes into "the pot." Then, at the end of the raid, the pot is evenly split among all members. Everybody who joined in on the raid gets an even share of the bidded gold, including people who got no items, or the Mr. Moneybags who won them all.

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Filed under: How-tos, Fan stuff, Guilds, News items, Economy, Instances, Raiding

Justifying the tiered badge system

Wrath is almost all wrapped up, and while we didn't know much about it before the expansion, we've all certainly experienced the token system that Blizzard implemented as they went along, where early instances drop one kind of badge/token, and then the newer instances offer up new tokens, which can then be exchanged back for the older ones and their rewards. Now that we see the big picture at the end of the expansion, it's pretty ingenious, actually, and it even allows Blizzard to beef up other parts of the game, as they did with the rewards in the new Dungeon system.

Not that he needs to, but Bornakk steps up on the forums to justify exactly this kind of tiered system. Players complain that Ulduar is "useless" now that you can obtain its badges from lots of different places, but Bornakk says this system is definitely preferable to what Blizzard did in vanilla and BC, which was requiring new raiders to run through all of the old content before seeing the new and shiny stuff. They don't want the old content to sit useless (and it's not -- lots of guilds are still running Ulduar and even Naxx for the hard modes and achievements), but after the high-end raiders have their fun, it's important to get everyone else up to speed as well.

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Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Instances, Raiding, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Advancing the battlegrounds

With all of the hubbub around the new LFG interface coming in patch 3.3, we haven't done much thinking lately about that other form of group play in the game, battleground PvP. But Cassandri at HoTs and DoTs has, and she has some interesting insight about what players are doing in the battlegrounds and why. She notes that some people dive off on their own, like Lone Rangers. And she hints that maybe, if these people were so persuaded, things would go better if they fought together, rather than on their own.

An interesting thought, for sure, and probably true -- while there are situations where I aim to be by myself in the battlegrounds (if I'm on my rogue and just want to hunt down some clothies), things almost always go better in there when you work as a team. So here's an idea: why not take the rewards implemented in the LFG system and apply them to better behavior in the battlegrounds?

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Filed under: Patches, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Quests, Making money, Battlegrounds

Breakfast Topic: Crafting pride

For some reason, crafting has always been a big part of massively multiplayer games. Maybe it's their quality as loot-collecting simulators, but from the very early graphical MMOs, players have almost always been able to create and modify and trade and sell items of their own. Though we don't talk about it as a mechanic much (you press a button and get what you crafted, what's the big deal), it's certainly one of the main reasons people play World of Warcraft, and the crafting system has come to not only fuel the economy, but has ended up becoming one of the best ways to show off and present your customized character.

So our question today is: what's your favorite or most important crafting item? I'm in the middle of leveling my paladin, and he's just now reaching the highest reaches of Engineering, which is a skill I've never leveled up before, but have always wanted to. I haven't gotten together the gold for epic flying yet (well on my way at level 73), but I did make normal flying machine as soon as I could. And my big goal with this character, other than getting him raiding ASAP, is to make the Mekgineer's Chopper -- ever since we first saw it in the early days of Wrath, I've planned to get a character up high enough to make it. I know, I know, I can buy it, but for me it's a crafting thing -- I want to go out, find what I need to find, and craft it with my own virtual hands.

Any other crafted items that have you wanting to make something for yourself?

Filed under: Alchemy, Blacksmithing, Engineering, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Making money

WoW Rookie: A computer to love WoW with


New around here? WoW Rookie points WoW's newest players to the basics of a good start in the World of Warcraft. Send us a note to suggest a WoW Rookie topic, and be sure to visit WoW.com's WoW Rookie Guide for links to all our tips, tricks and how-to's.

WoW Rookie has already answered the first question asked by so many new players when they realize "You know, I think I'd like to have my own characters and my own account -- but will my computer run WoW?" This week, we'll burrow into the next level: "We've been engaged for months now. I'm in love, I'm committed, I'm of legal age (level 80, baby!) and I'm ready to drop some cash. What should I be looking for in a computer system to settle down in?"

If you're not into PvP, you may have missed PvP specialist Zach Yonzon's excellent series this summer on gearing up for PvP. But wait -- this is no in-game gear guide. Surprise! It's a look at the best hardware for running World of Warcraft. Whether you enjoy PvP or PvE content, here's a look at the gear that'll deliver the eye-popping, mind-blowing, mouse-clicking madness you crave for endgame WoW performance.

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Filed under: Tips, Features, WoW Rookie, Hardware

Night Elf in Guitar Hero 5


This is one of the many reasons why I really enjoy this job: one day, you're talking turkey with a psychologist who's dealing with serious addiction issues, and the next, you're writing about Night Elves in Guitar Hero 5. Personally, I prefer Harmonix's new Beatles game, but there's no denying that the character customization system in our very own Activision-Blizzard's Guitar Hero 5 is extremely complex. So much so that Artair on Doomhammer was actually able to make a pretty respectable-looking Night Elf male with the system.

Which really just makes it much more ridiculous that this thing could be playing onstage with none other than Kurt Cobain. But we'll let that one go -- if you've found a way to get any other Warcraft characters jamming in Guitar Hero (or any other game with an in-depth character creator), be sure to send us a tip and some pics.

Filed under: Night Elves, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, Screenshots, NPCs, Fan art

Feitan offers up even more WoW icons for your enjoyment


Feitan has posted another terrific set of WoW-related icons over on WoW LJ. Combine all of those with the first set, and throw in all of the other ones we've collected for you in the past, and you've got a really nice set of perfectly-sized choices from World of Warcraft to use as your icon on whatever service needs an avatar.

Like, for example, our own comments. While the cartoon Ogre we've got as the default is quite cute, you might want to make yours a little more personal -- all you've got to do is click your name after commenting, and you'll be taken to a page where you can log in and edit your profile, see your comments so far, and yes, update a new profile picture. If you're still using the default commenter icon with our brand new commenting system, now is definitely the time to make the upgrade.

Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Screenshots, Fan art

Enter to win one of six loot card codes from WoW Insider and WoWTCGLoot

We've been giving a lot of loot card codes away on our Twitter account lately, but the nice folks over at WoWTCGLoot.com didn't think that was enough. They want all of our readers to have a chance at some awesome ingame stuff for free, so here you go: we're giving away not two, not four, but eight different loot card codes today.

What's up for grabs, you ask? We've got an Epic Purple Shirt that'll let you "be the center of attention," two of the very popular Sandbox Tiger codes (I just rode on one the other day, and it was so much fun my character was throwing their hands in the air), and five different P.A.R.T.Y. grenades, sure to blow up a party no matter where you are. To win, just leave a comment on this post telling us your favorite ingame item of all time, loot card or otherwise. You may only enter once, and we'll close the comments 24 hours from now (at 5pm Eastern on May 14th), choose eight random winners, and email the codes out to them, so use a real email address when you comment. Codes work in either the US or EU realms.

And while you're waiting to win, don't forget to head on over to WoWTCGLoot.com for pages and pages of great info about all of the loot cards available, including fact sheets and FAQ pages about each card, and even price trackers on eBay so you can get the card you want for less money than you thought. They're also giving away cards on their site -- you can hit up their chatbox page to talk with other readers and maybe even win some more cards. They're an awesome resource for everything you need to know about TCG cards, and as always, we are indebited to them for helping us run contests like this. Good luck to everyone!

Filed under: Items, Events, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Contests, WoW TCG

Forum post of the day: Sorting out the BADS


Hi everyone, after a short hiatus for guild building and soul searching I'm back to writing on the WoW Insider team. Despite growth in my guild I still find myself picking up folks for heroics and some raids. I've had some good experiences and some terrible ones.

Abberforth of Shadow Council offered up a "Basic Assumption and Discernment System. this handy, though tongue-in-cheek guide to selecting members for a PUG. He uses simple assumptions in a players initial presentation of self to determine if a player is a good candidate for invitation. These guidlines warn players to be cautious of Elves, Death Knights, and folks with untypable or unintelligible names.

Remember that this guide is for amusement only. There are several other factors that go into good PUG players- like do they run into Nexus when you invite them for Occulus?


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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Instances, Humor, Forum Post of the Day

In praise of fishing dailies

I have to say: I am so happy that we have fishing dailies back in the game. Leafshine has found a new addiction to fishing, and I have, too: though I'm a little underwhelmed with the actual rewards (while I was a little taken aback by the cooking daily awards system when it first came out, now I really like it, and wish they'd come up with a version of that for fishing), I like the quests, and I like taking my hard-earned Mastercraft Kalua'k Fishing Pole and going out into the world to find some fish. Leafshine is exactly right: it's a terrific way to kill a few minutes that really doesn't feel like a grind at all. And while you're out fishing, there's no better time to keep an eye out for pools, too -- you never know when that Turtle mount might drop.

You might say that fishing is boring, and it is -- though they've made some really generous changes to how it levels up, you're still going to be clicking a bobber for a long, long time. But it's never been so rewarding in terms of what you can get, and it is probably the most fleshed-out minigame in Azeroth. If you, like me, sometimes prefer a little break from the usual combat (the war, if you will, of Warcraft), I can't recommend Fishing highly enough.

Filed under: Fishing, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Quests

Zarkmark tries to help you rate PuG players

There have been a number of sites lately, especially with the recent rise in endgame pickup groups, designed to help you find and examine potential PuGgers quickly. But none of them have made it quite as easy as Zarkmark, a site that allows you to quickly rate anybody you come across ingame by "zarking" (rating them up) or "marking" (rating them down) them. Then, they offer a quick search, which will not only give you a one-click link to the Armory, but an easy-to-read screen of how many people have rated the player you're looking at. Theoretically, ninjas will never find a group again.

Of course, theory is theory, and right now, the Zarkmark directory is pretty empty, so odds are that for any given player you look up, you won't really get much feedback. But you never know -- if players jump in and populate the site (and it wouldn't help to have a little help from them -- instead of just an Armory link, it would be nice to see a player's gear and achievements right there on the page), we might eventually get a pretty accurate picture of what someone's reputation looks like.

In fact, I'm a little surprised that Blizzard hasn't ever considered a reputation system in-game. Xbox Live carries one off pretty well -- even though I've never actually used it to consider who I do and don't play against, I have rated players and I know it's very easy to see scores if I wanted to. Given the rising numbers of VoA ninjas and PuGing in general, it might be worth it for them to give each player a socially-created rating in the LFG interface.

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

The drama of DKP

Donnyman is going through an issue with his guild that many a guild has faced before: the drama of going to DKP. Especially lately, it seems like lots of guilds are aiming to make the jump to DKP: because the endgame is relatively easier lately, lots of folks are getting into raiding seriously, and unless your guild is the closest of friends, you can really only go so long without people starting to wonder why the other guy got that roll when he's only been to two raids in the last month when they've been to five. At that point, the guild either breaks up due to loot drama -- or you decide to settle on a system like DKP.

The good news is that lots of guilds have been through this before, and there's a lot of great guidance out there about how to switch to DKP and what kinds of systems you might use if you do. I've only been in one guild that decided to go from a free-for-all roll to a loot system -- they chose Suicide Kings, everyone agreed it was fair, and they've never looked back. Donnyman's having an issue with his guild leadership's decision to put a little erosion on the DKP, and it's true -- if the whole guild isn't behind a disagreement like that, there could be some breakup. There's lots of great discussion in the LJ thread about how decay actually affects people who can't raid from time to time, and Donny ends up with two choices: be OK with it, or find another guild (there's plenty of them around).

It's not impossible to pull off a switch to DKP from a free-for-all system, but you need to a) make it clear that it's in everyone's best interest (if loot drama is starting to sneak up, it probably is), and b) make sure it's as fair as can be. Consider what your guildies want (more loot, just to have a good time raiding, or to reward people who do well or people who need the gear), and then go with a system that meets those needs.

Filed under: Tips, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Raiding

DKP pitfalls and how to jump them

Kree's got a nice set of posts about some of the more advanced problems with a DKP system in his guild (he calls them pitfalls, which works very well as a metaphor). I've never been part of a really serious DKP system, but just like with any other economy, DKP can lead itself to imbalances if you aren't careful with how people are getting and spending points.

Inflation is definitely a problem I've seen in other guilds -- usually, with DKP, you have a few very consistent raiders, and everyone else can fall behind. And eventually you get a few folks with tons of DKP, so much so that they can outspend everyone else and basically dictate how gear drops. Kree's solutions are good, though -- he offers up "point rot" (points devalue over time, so you can't save up tons of them at once), and a point cap (though even that can cause problems, as people are forced to spend DKP on gear they don't need rather than losing them). The other issues, collusion and upbidding, don't happen quite so often (both of those require players to be rather malicious, and in guilds where everyone knows which gear they should and shouldn't use, you don't usually have an issue), but he's got some good solutions there as well.

DKP was designed
to make sure passing out drops is fair, and Blizzard has put all sorts of rules and restrictions in the game to try and get raiders the gear they need without a lot of fighting. As long as your guild remembers that there's always more gear to go around and that no one piece is worth stealing or causing trouble over, a good, balanced DKP system can help you avoid these alligator-filled pitfalls pretty easily.

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

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