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J. Allen Brack talks to Wired about Pandaren and Pet Battles

J. Allen Brack, the production director for World of Warcraft, was interviewed by Wired.com about the upcoming expansion Mists of Pandaria, why Blizzard's introducing the Pandaren now, and what the future holds for the increasing number of expansions needed to be purchased in order to play an up-to-date version of the game.

Brack says that the idea for the first neutral race actually was rooted in the Goblins for Cataclysm, since the Goblins would have made an excellent neutral race, but the team was adamant about giving the Alliance a more sinister race to play. The Goblins for the Horde filled the whimsical role nicely.

The Pet Battle system coming with Mists of Pandaria is going to require a lot of tuning, according to Brack. The feel of the system is going to be much more "rock, papers, scissors" than "all-powerful rare pet wins the fight," giving a lot of hope to collectors out there who want to use some of the more esoteric companions in battle without having to always pull out the best pet.

Finally, Brack made an important point about the "expansions every year" comment and goal of the development team. Brack explains that the concept is nice but not something feasible in the present time and that Blizzard has not been successful with rapidly turning out content. Cataclysm, it turns out, took longer to develop than any other expansion.

You can read the full interview on Wired.com.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the next expansion, raising the level cap to 90, introducing a brand new talent system, and bringing forth the long-lost Pandaren race to both Horde and Alliance. Check out the trailer and follow us for all the latest MoP news!

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

Brad Pitt offers advice on dealing with your WoW wife

As part of the latest issue of WIRED magazine and to tie in with the release of war movie Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt has contributed his thoughts to a section in the magazine on how to deal with everything from Google-stalking to WoW.

The idea of this seems to be updating social rules for the twenty-first century (and not make you look like a jackass). He's responsible for the 'Ask a Basterd' sections which feature fun photography and answers life's insanely important questions, like what to do with your WoW wife if you suspect she is, in fact, a he.

Pitt suggests the following should you suspect your 'wife' (night elf, blood elf or even human, I doubt it matters on the specifics) is actually a guy. Yes, he's playing the fidelity card: Should you confront the individual? "Absolutely not. If it's good, don't check under the hood. I say, love her with everything you've got. I mean, she's your wife, man!"

What I want to know is, does Pitt play WoW and is his advice based on real experience? Somehow I see him as an Orc ...

Filed under: Odds and ends, News items

WoW inspires military training environments

It's probably fair to take bets on how many Beltway Insiders are aware of MMORPGs, or even WoW specifically. (At least one or two can be found in Azeroth, at least.) It's certainly clear, however, that Dr. Roger Smith, a senior game designer for the Army, has some passing familiarity on the idea.

According to Dr. Smith, an MMORPG environment would be a great always-on option to provide training to the troops. Specifically, he says "something like World of Warcraft, but focused on the military training customer." You can even check out his public PDF on work he's already done on this kind of training environment.

The always-on world would provide training scenarios even outside the usual tactical simulation. Your avatars could interact with cultural representations, learning the fine points of behavior while interacting in foreign environments. Want to get your team a dose of decision-making expertise? Set up the environment to run reactions based on criteria you devise. And we definitely know WoW can teach you about a fictional history, maybe Dr. Smith's could help the soldier with some real-world equivalents.

We've all heard about the government exploring virtual worlds before, but we don't often hear that exploration directly connected to WoW. But if 10 million people -- including soldiers -- love us some WoW, maybe there's something in the formula Dr. Smith can use.

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

WoW: The Text Adventure

This Wired column takes a sideways look at WoW, re-imagining it in the form of a text adventure. It's an excellent parody of some of the gameplay mechanics we've come to know and love, but I find it interesting for other reasons too.

Having managed to log over ten days of play in a MUD character in the past (my WoW habit now puts that to shame), I wonder if the addictiveness of text-based multiplayer gameplay is often underestimated by those who joined the game when graphics were the de facto standard. After all, a great deal of the social interaction in WoW is done via text, even in this age of emotes and stunning visuals--that addictive social factor was a huge part of what kept me playing the MUD, and what keeps me playing WoW.

Filed under: Fan stuff

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