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World of Warcraft, complexity, and design vs. sprawl

One of those trends that comes out of reading a lot about World of Warcraft is you start to see patterns in the responses. One trend I (and others, to be fair) have noticed coming out of BlizzCon, and then from discussions with people that I think needs to be understood and explored by players is the notion of vastness in World of Warcraft - this is a game that has recently celebrated its ninth anniversary. In that time it's seen four expansions, with a fifth on the way. Each of these expansions has added something to the game - reforging, transmogrification, arenas, new raid content, new dungeon content, new classes, new spells and abilities, new levels, new stats - and in many cases, this all increases the overall complexity of the game. It goes far beyond simple to understand symptoms of this growth, like the upcoming item squish, and into a realm of interconnected complexity that causes dominos to fall in directions we may not have even seen before it happens.

We started the game with three classes capable of tanking. We're up to five. Along the way, tanking has changed and changed again, until its modern implementation barely even resembles what we were doing back in the days of ten or fifteen person UBRS groups - tanking today has a host of mob control abilities in order to allow them to more effectively control groups of adds, tools for mobility and is based around actively reducing incoming damage in a way it simply wasn't years before. Now, consider this - how does the game itself change in order to challenge the modern tank? What does it do to demand they play to their best? Encounters of the past wouldn't even make a modern tank blink - what challenge would Garr pose to today's tank, for example? A bunch of adds? Bring it. So design has to take these new tanking modes and abilities into account and provide new ways to give them difficult encounters... and these encounters thus create, in their turn, the new tank of the future.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, PvP, Raiding, Warlords of Draenor

Listen to the WoW Insider Show today at 3:30pm Eastern

Our podcast (which is nominated for a Podcast Award, by the way -- this is the last time we'll ask you to vote for us over there, since voting ends on November 30th) is headed back to the virtual airwaves as usual, and this week we're bringing two new voices into the mix. We'll welcome not only C. Christian Moore, informally known as Colby, to the show (he's the new author of our PvP Blood Sport column), but also Kelly Aarons, informally known as Cadistra, both of WoW Eh and our brand new comic here on WoW.com. Should be a lot of fun -- they'll chat with Turpster and I about the biggest stories of the past week, including Pilgrim's Bounty and some superfast cooking leveling, the game's 5th anniversary and what things were like back when it all began, and this GDKP system everyone's using, as well as other player-created looting systems.

Sounds like a full show (and that doesn't even include answering your emails and our other silliness). It all kicks off at 3:30pm Eastern/8:30pm GMT this afternoon over on our Ustream page (or on your iPhone or iPod touch, or just after the break if you want to do it that way) and if you are listening live, don't forget to show up a little early for the pre-show, and stay a little later for the aftershow. Hope to see you this afternoon!

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Filed under: Podcasting, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, WoW Insider Show

How Blizzard used the dungeon system to change Oculus

Zarhym has shared a little more insight into Blizzard's latest thinking about the dungeon group system going into the game and how they're using it to monitor 5-man action. When a player suggests that they buff Oculus' loot rather than tweak the mechanics of the dungeon, Zarhym replies that that's not the way it's done -- they provide more rewards for higher challenges, not just to direct players around. But he does say that Blizzard noticed Oculus was being singled out as a dungeon that players on the PTR didn't want to run, and that's why they went in and took a look at how it all worked.

That's very interesting, and it tells that (at least on the PTR if not on the actual live realms) Blizzard can more easily get information from the new dungeon system about which instances players are running. That could have all kinds of ramifications -- if they see a lot of Scarlet Monastery runs coming through, or see that no one at all is visiting Maraudon, we may see even more updates coming to those kind of places. And they can use that feedback for future dungeons as well. It'll be interesting to see what kinds of patterns for instance running arise on the live realms -- obviously there's a lot of interest in the "random" dungeon function (that rewards you for running random instances), but that's still weighted towards what instances you've already done. We may see more changes coming to current dungeons depending on what kinds of information Blizzard gets after the patch 3.3 release.

Patch 3.3 is the last major patch of Wrath of the Lich King. With the new Icecrown Citadel 5-man dungeons and 10/25-man raid arriving soon, patch 3.3 will deal the final blow to Arthas. WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.3 will keep you updated with all the latest patch news.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Instances, Bosses, Wrath of the Lich King

Breakfast Topic: Getting guildies to the website

This is certainly an issue (if not a full-blown problem) in my guild, so I wouldn't be surprised if most guilds have a rough time getting guild members to use some of the outside resources they've put together. Nowadays, there are so many ways to make a guild website and so many different things you can do with one that most every guild has at least one place online to call its own. And those places are usually frequented by one or two people in the guild (usually the person running the site and/or maybe the GM and an officer or two), but in my experience, it's kind of tough to get people to use those resources, just because of lack of interest or know-how or habit. What's the point of having a database of members, a message board, and a blog and picture gallery when no one uses it?

Enter Ankie of WoW Ladies, with an intriguing idea to support the guild's website.

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Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Guilds, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics

Windows 7 plugs WoW


This is one of the stranger World of Warcraft mentions out there -- WorldofWar.net spotted a posting on overclock.net that shows a Microsoft presentation to Best Buy employees mentioning our favorite game. Apparently WoW is a selling point for Windows 7, specifically when comparing the OS to Linux. If Best Buy wants to sell operating systems that play "the games your customers want (e.g. World of Warcraft)," then Windows is supposed to be the way to go.

Interesting. Then again, World of Warcraft is a big game, so you can't blame Microsoft for jumping on its popularity while trying to sell OSes. But it's a little misleading -- of course Blizzard has supported Apple's OS X on the disc from day one, and while they don't officially support running the game on Linux, it's certainly possible to do. If you really are going to buy a new OS, playing WoW might not be the best criteria to base your purchase choice on.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Humor, Hardware

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