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Blizzard's APIs and You: Cool information and tools coming down the pipe

Recently, Blizzard disabled the WoWArmory Facebook application, signaling that the time of the modern WoW Armory is over and we will soon live in an age when new Blizzard APIs will transform our out-of-game experience. And change it, they will. These forthcoming APIs will change the way you interact with WoW outside of the game in ways you cannot even think up yet. How do I know this? That's the power of information facilitation, and some inventive hypotheticals will show you what Blizzard's APIs will do for you in the near future.

Over the past few months, Blizzard has been preparing to roll out a new set of APIs that will take internal information from the Armory, the new community site, and more, parse it into easily manageable data streams, and make those streams available to application developers. With these new streams of information, savvy developers can craft web applications, smartphone apps, social media plugins, and anything else under the sun to provide you with new and dynamic WoW experiences on the internet. I know that sounds horribly cliché, but hear me out -- this stuff is pretty cool, and the back end could bring about a new standard for information availability and MMOs.

I'm not a developer. In fact, a lot of us in the community are not developers. Writing this story felt like an exercise in obscurity because, frankly, all this back end information isn't in my wheelhouse. As I dug deeper and began to realize the potential of the systems being set up, I fell in love with the idea that Blizzard is opening up easy access to so much information. I thought it would be a good idea to illustrate for those of us who have no idea what APIs are capable of, to break through the programmer/developer talk and discuss what these APIs mean for us, at the end of the day.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Blizzard previews character, guild, and arena team APIs

Blizzard previously announced that certain APIs were going to become available for applications and players to access from the community website. We've finally got a preview of the information feeds that tap into character data in the near future. These feeds can be used in applications, websites, and more for user-created, World of Warcraft ... well ... anything.

Blizzard's opening up of these information feeds is pretty cool, and you will likely see some ambitious applications of this data being used in the near future. One of the illuminating aspects of this preview is that after finding the right way to do it, the devs are thinking about opening up quest ID information so that you can see what quests characters have or have not completed. There are tons of applications of that data out there and I'm sure the community is really excited to make use of this API information. Check out the full preview after the jump.

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Filed under: Blizzard

Cryptozoic unveils new WoW TCG community site

After picking up the license for WoW TCG, Cryptozoic Entertainment has done a great job supporting the game and fostering its community. The only thing missing so far has been ... a functional website. The old Cryptozoic site just wasn't cutting it. Thankfully, today marks the release of the brand new WoWTCG.com, and it's a beauty. Visitors to the site can find hobby stores in their area, tutorials on how the play TCG and what they need to play it, galleries of TCG's fantastic artwork, and even special pages for each loot card. That's on top of the regular previews and strategy articles. Nice job, Crypto!

Filed under: WoW TCG

Dedicated WoW search engine now in beta

This probably isn't something Google or Bing should worry about, but there's a new search engine in town. Mrgl-Mrgl, a new search engine dedicated to the World of Warcraft, recently launched and is now in beta. The site, named after the NPC in a murloc suit in Borean Tundra, collates search results based on relevance to WoW. There are five search category tabs: Web, Image, Video, Forums, and Items. Users can type any keyword, not necessarily related to World of Warcraft (apparently subject to abuse, as shown in the most popular keywords), and the search engine delivers results scoured from popular WoW-related sites.

A few searches on the site don't appear to yield better results than, say, Google, which pulls data from more sources including guild websites or player blogs. Mrgl-mrgl results appear to be limited to World of Warcraft news sites, forums, and WoW-tagged videos on YouTube. We're not quite sure how important it is to have a dedicated WoW search engine in the midst of database sites such as Wowhead, wikis such as WoWwiki, and blue forum trackers, but if it manages to draw from more sources in a more organized and relevant fashion, the idea just might work. Perhaps the next time you'll need to search for something related to the game, you can just 'Mrgl it'.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, News items

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

Sons of the Storm to appear at BlizzCon, unveil another member


The Sons of the Storm is a kind of artists' collective connected with Blizzard -- they're responsible for the majority of the concept and game art coming out of Blizzard, from the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo series. They count Samwise Didier and Chris Metzen in their ranks, along with many of Blizzard's most popular artists. And apparently their ranks are growing -- on their latest website update, they have posted a new group picture, along with a mysterious "eighth son" that they say they will introduce sometime later, possibly months after BlizzCon. From left on the picture above, you can see Samwise Dider, Chris Metzen, René Koiter, Travis Thammer, Glenn Rane, Peter Lee, Mark Gibbons, and the Eighth Son, who a commenter over at Blizzplanet speculates may be Wei Wang.

Speaking of BlizzCon, the Sons site also says that all of the seven current sons will be signing at the convention, so be sure to bring your TCG cards, Warcraft novels, art books and anything else these guys may have worked on. We're sure there'll be a line, but if you're willing to brave the wait, you might get to meet some of the most creative minds behind Blizzard's beloved universes.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Galleries, BlizzCon, Fan art, WoW TCG

Richard A. Knaak, other authors will be signing at BlizzCon

Part of the fun of BlizzCon is that beyond all of the dev panels and crazy mainstage stuff going on, there's also the big convention hall full of things to see and do. All of Blizzard's licensing partners usually show up, so Upper Deck usually has games going on, FigurePrints shows off their wares, and all of the computer companies usually have some fun rigs on display. And now we've learned that, as usual, Pocket Books and TokyoPop will have booths set up, along with their usual stable of authors and artists. Richard A. Knaak has confirmed on his website that he'll be there, so if you're going, be sure to bring along your copy of War of the Ancients, and maybe you can get it signed.

Our staff is hoping for a Christie Golden appearance as well, and while she doesn't have anything about BlizzCon on the website yet (she is at ComiCon this week, though), we're presuming that she'll be there. Medievaldragon of Blizzplanet is apparently also presuming it: he's included her with Knaak in his headline about the show (see update). So hopefully she'll be around, and Ziebart and Whitcomb can take their treasured copies of Arthas over and do some fanboy groveling.

Should be excellent. We'll be doing our best to get some interviews with these folks here on the site as well, so even if you're not with us in Anaheim, you'll still get a chance to hear from some of your favorite Warcraft authors. BlizzCon ahoy!

Update: Medievaldragon has gotten back to us, and he says that he's heard from Golden herself that she'll be at BlizzCon. Get those books ready for some signin'!

BlizzCon 2009 is coming up on August 21st and 22nd! We've got all the latest news and information. At BlizzCon, you can play the latest games, meet your guildmates, and ask the developers your questions. Plus, there are some great looking costumes.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Lore, BlizzCon

Figureprints in the EU


Our buddies over at Figureprints, the company that makes custom 3D printed sculptures of your WoW characters, have expanded their business yet again -- this time, they're opening the doors to you EU players. Ed Fries, who we have spoken with twice now, says that they are finally ready to expand overseas, and EU players can now order their own custom figurines through the website.

There is a small catch, however -- at this point, while there is no lottery as far as we know, they are charging European customers €129.95, which ends up being about $166, or about $30 more than the US price of $129.95. And obviously shipping overseas from the company's HQ here in America probably won't be too cheap either, and shipping is extra no matter where you're buying the figures from. It looks like Figureprints just figured they'd charge "129.95" to both sides of the world, but thanks to the exchange rate, EU folks are actually paying more.

But then again, we're guessing that people who have been waiting for their chance in the EU to pick one of these up will probably go for the higher price anyway. Figureprints started out a little rough with their limited production capabilities, and a few early bumps in quality, but lately it seems like they're rolling along better than ever.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Making money

[UPDATED] Official WoW site now full Wrath


Tipster Brad pointed out to us that the official World of Warcraft site is now full Wrath of the Lich King. All traces of the Burning Crusade have now been put in the freezer except for the forums, although we should expect to see changes there relatively soon. The old page showed images of Draenei and Blood Elves, with the World of Warcraft logo merely half-frozen, with the rest of the logo in Outland-ish green. Given that the launch of the latest expansion is less than 36 72 (oops!) hours away, Blizzard seems to have gone full throttle with the transition.

Except for the forums' Burning Crusade logo and greenish background, there are no more traces of the Burning Crusade's design on the official site. [UPDATE: The forums have changed to a Wrath of the Lich King design, as well.] Excitement is ramping up for Wrath, and we're caught up in it with a massive prize giveaway. We even redesigned the site just a few days earlier than Blizzard's minor cosmetic change. Now that the official site has gone full Wrath of the Lich King, we just might feel Arthas' influence a little more in-game. Note: if you aren't getting the Wrath page, you should try holding down the Shift key when refreshing the page. This should force the browser to get new data from the website (instead of the cache).

Filed under: News items, Expansions, Wrath of the Lich King

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

Blizzard updates armor sets page with Season 4


The World of Warcraft official armor sets page has been updated to feature the Season 4 or Brutal Gladiator pieces. Just as with past sets, you'll be able to review the armor pieces on each class and their respective races as well as view the stats for each item. Season 4 started on June 24, after a long 30 week wait since Season 3 began, finally opening the floodgates for Sunwell Plateau-level PvP gear. Check out WoW Insider's extensive Brutal Gladiator gear guide and comprehensive gallery for more detailed information on Season 4 gear.

Filed under: Items, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Arena

Europe's turn for web site maintenance

You may remember a week or two ago when Blizzard's US web sites and related services went down for some scheduled maintenance. The same's happening tonight for the EU web sites starting at midnight Paris time. All related accesses (Account Creation, Subscription Renewal, WoW-Europe forums, the Armory) will also be down. The good news is that they'll be back up by 10am Paris time on June 19th. I doubt we'll see any of the oddities we saw the last time there was web maintenance, but we'll keep our eyes out. This could be the last step before converting Blizzard's online presence to something more thematically geared to the Wrath of the Lich King.

If you're affected by this outage, you can use the time to see what Rob Parkins hasn't been up to, or get some overview of what has been happening in your World...of Warcraft.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Forums

Blizzard website updates complete

A blue poster on the forums today announced that the updates to Blizzard's websites are now complete. These updates have caused all of Blizzard's sites to work either poorly or not at all for the past few days.

They were doing these updates to provide greater security and new features. While we might never know what the new security aspects are of the site (we can guess at stronger encryption, etc...), we expect to see some new features on their site in the future.

Personally I'm glad their update is done. My credit card recently expired and I had to put in a new number, but wasn't able to because the site kept messing up. However this afternoon I was able to update my billing information without a hitch. Back to the multi boxing for me...

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Blizzard's maintenance interrupts some website features

The WoW login screen acknowledges that some services may be intermittently unavailable due to "website maintenance and upgrades." As we've reported, Blizzard sites have experienced maintenance periods earlier this week. The current news blurb says that they are working on the web infrastructure to provide "new features" and "increased performance and security." The features impacted are:
  • account creation
  • password recovery
  • paid character transfer
  • adding payment
The message says that these services may be unavailable "intermittently." It does not indicate how long the website maintenance will continue, but promises to provide updates. The maintenance is also confirmed on Blizzard's home page.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Blizzard web services down for maintenance


Blizzard's US websites and all related web services are currently down for a scheduled maintenance and should be up at around 5am PDT. This means that all US versions of Blizzard sites such as World of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and web-accessible services such as account management and the Armory are down. Maybe when they come back up, we'll see some more visible changes to the site such as the aberrant switch to a Wrath of the Lich King theme of the official forums. Or maybe there'll be an abundance of small changes such as the minor tweaks to the Death Knight information page. Then again, it could just be nothing but a regular maintenance. We'll see in a few hours. At least Blizzard was nice enough this time around to actually put up a sign to say they'll be back.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard

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