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BlizzCon 2013 Impressions: CCed in the BlizzCon experience

The woman who approached our lunch table seemed friendly but slightly uncomfortable. "Excuse me, but do you work for Blizzard?" she asked with a tentative smile. Her brother, she went on to explain, had once known somebody who supposedly went on to the work there, but she didn't know the first thing about the game and had no idea if that was true or what he did there. We exchanged a quick glance -– incoming story about someone who once tested a Blizzard game, am I right? -– and continued to munch on our salads while nodding and making polite noises.

"So what's your friend's name?" inquired the ever-personable Michael Gray. "Chris Metzen," she replied almost apologetically. "Is he ... somebody?"

Our friendly local storyteller (who preferred to remain anonymous –- but my report here on the BlizzCon experience wouldn't be complete if I didn't share her story with you) went on to share a tale of growing up across the street from the Metzen family here in Southern California, where her brother played T-ball with the pint-sized future rock star of Blizzard. The thing she remembered most about "little Chris," as she called him, was the game in which he executed his task as catcher so enthusiastically that he found himself caught in the netting behind the plate -– CCed so completely, in fact, that the team's parents had to come cut him out with scissors.

Everybody all together now: Awwww ... (/grin)

All these years later, we find ourselves happily CCed in the net cast by Little Chris himself, the World of Warcraft of his imagination. And back at BlizzCon, our lunchtime encounter with a friendly SoCal native encapsulates the spirit of the BlizzCon weekend -- people brought together by Blizzard's games. You won't find any reveals about the expansion in this BlizzCon roundup, but if you're interested in some of the faces and places seen around the convention all weekend, read on!

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Filed under: BlizzCon

15 Minutes of Fame: Road to BlizzCon cosplay -- the grind to perfection

There's simply something about Amanda. When we first spied her making the rounds with her stunning green-eyed paladin at BlizzCon 2010, we found ourselves captivated. Yet Amanda wasn't a finalist in 2010. She didn't draw crowds by displaying huge swaths of bare skin, parading up and down the promenade in front of the convention center. Not a seamstress, she doesn't even craft all of her costumes' parts and pieces personally by hand.

What Amanda Wisley does is cosplay with heart. The die-hard fan outsources her imagination to create costumes that exemplify the spirit she sees in the game she loves. This WoW lover loves to bring her visions to life, sharing them over long hours walking the convention floor and grounds to visit with other fans. But while this year's BlizzCon will see her buried inside a full fur suit as a pandaren monk, will her hopes of participating in Blizzard's official costume contest get buried as well?

In an upsetting discovery made long after tickets had been purchased and her costume was in progress, Amanda learned early last month that she'd not been lucky enough to snag one of the coveted sign-ups for the costume contest. She's been assured that she's high on the waiting list -- but after months of preparation, a successful race for BlizzCon tickets, booking air travel and accommodations, and of course all the expenses of creating her costume itself, will she get her shot at walking across the BlizzCon stage?

Take a look at the emotional highs and lows of this determined cosplayer's road to BlizzCon 2013 as her costume and itinerary laboriously come together.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: Save the zombies!

Zombiefest
It was rough going for the spirited clutch of level 1 undead (significantly smaller than the sea of zombies shown above) attempting to push its way from Grom'gol Base Camp to Stormwind on Magtheridon EU for Hallow's End, when some friendly Alliance faces appeared on the scene.

Caught being uber: Sellsword and Kendrasil (Magtheridon EU-Alliance) These two players spotted our little ragtag group of level 1 undeads attempting to run from Grom'Gol Base Camp in STV to Stormwind -- a Zombiewalk to celebrate the last night of Hallow's End.

As soon as they realised we were aggro'ing pretty much the whole zone, they began killing mobs as they came at us. They were patient enough to wait with us each time we stopped to regroup for those who did die en route. And they patiently looked on as we took on Hogger. (We got him!) They accompanied our little group all the way to the gates of Stormwind, where we eventually fell at the hands of those overzealous guards. Thank you both! -- Anonymous level 1 undead Hogger-slayer

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Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: The rainbow world of TradeChat's Panser

Panser
The trademark pink hair of video blogger Panser of TradeChat and WoW Insider's weekly news recap should be declared a valid form of crowd control. Less enlightened viewers seem to find themselves sheeped in her v-log comments on a regular basis, bleating about her eye-popping pink coif, the peaches-and-cream looks that propelled her to the finals in the Maxim Gamer Girl competition, and (oh dear, guys, don't get out much, eh?) her gender.

But it's Panser's bona fides as a gamer, not her pink hair, that make her updates one of the liveliest, most informed sources of WoW, League of Legends and gaming news on the web. A lifelong gamer with five active level 90 WoW characters and what she refers to as a "small problem with alts," Panser crunches through the weekly WoW news like a bag of Skittles, full of fun and flavor. Ready for a peek over the TradeChat rainbow?

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Know Your Lore: Who speaks for the orcs?

The World of Warcraft is an expansive universe. You're playing the game, you're fighting the bosses, you know the how -- but do you know the why? Each week, Matthew Rossi and Anne Stickney make sure you Know Your Lore by covering the history of the story behind World of Warcraft.

A question asked via email this week on the podcast got me thinking: who is in charge of the orcs right now? All the other races of the Horde have their own faction leaders, but following Hellscream's defeat and the ascension of the new Warchief (following this paragraph, I will be using the name of the new Warchief, as Garrosh Hellscream has been available on LFR for a week now) this leads us to an unusual circumstance - for the first time ever, the Warchief is not an orc, and thus, not the direct faction leader for the orcs in addition to his role as overall leader of the Horde.

Now, for those of us who saw the cinematic, this question seems to have a simple answer: clearly Thrall is now in charge of the orcish people, yes? He is the first to kneel and proclaim that he will follow where the Warchief leads. However, upon several rewatchings, one thing is clear - he says he will follow. He doesn't claim to speak for anyone else.

This leads us to another question - if Thrall isn't to speak for the orcs, then who is? Of course, another question we could ask is, does it matter?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, Know your Lore, Mists of Pandaria

Random Acts of Uberness: Welcoming a bouncing baby Hordie

Random Acts of Uberness Welcoming a new baby Hordie
I once joined a guild in which one of my first experiences was a chat box full of conversation with a player whose spouse had just passed away. When I say "just," I mean it had been less than an hour since her death. Her passing followed a protracted illness and had long been expected. After taking care of the immediate arrangements, my guildmate simply needed a friendly place to keep himself occupied and maintain a sense of normalcy. We were glad to provide that refuge for our friend.

Sometimes our fellow WoW players are the only ones around with whom we can share our real-world joys and sorrows. This week's Random Acts of Uberness begins with the story of another, albeit much happier, life event that occurred in the wee hours of the morning: the birth of a baby Hordie.

New dad: Akeylese, Ravenholdt (US-Horde) Not really so much of an act of uberness but a good story anyway: I have recently started to become interested in PvPing and during a match of Deepwind gorge, I was defending the goblin mine with Akeylese, a tauren warrior. He was quiet at first and wasn't so active. He then apologized and said he had just had his baby at 3:46 a.m. and that he was talking with his guild members about the birth of his daughter.

I congratulated him and we began to talk about the good ol' days of WoW -- what our favorite race was, our favorite expansion, how long we had been playing, etc. We easily won the BG and didn't have to do much, so we got to chat for a while. After the BG, we exited and I was able to whisper him and thank him and congratulate him again. So I want to congratulate him once more on his baby and wish him and his family the best! -- Ashtaron, Elune (US- Horde)

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Filed under: News items

Fantasy character artist explodes onto WoW community scene

15 Minutes of Fame Fantasy character artist explodes onto WoW community art scene
If you're headed to BlizzCon next month, will you be lucky enough to be wearing a coveted custom name badge by Noxychu? Her whimsical character portraits have become all the rage this year, and Noxychu has even turned out badges for the entire Blizzard community manager staff. As staff artist for Wowhead and well-known WoW "Twitterati," the unassuming Brit has long since had to pause taking on new commissions, and her newfound popularity promises great things post-BlizzCon.

WoW Insider: Everyone wants a Noxychu! I'm betting most readers will recognize your name from the artwork you do for Wowhead. Tell us what you do there and how you got started.

Noxychu: I'm not sure I have a proper title; I guess just "artist" covers it. I make logos for the various ZAM websites, and I illustrate the occasional contest and guide. I got started with Wowhead by volunteering, I made some badge art for them in 2008, and then after that the occasional Warcraft-themed web comic. And they were bloody awful. I really loved making them, and they were weekly for a while. Unfortunately I'm a terrible at writing scripts, and I have been unable to find a consistently funny writer that is willing to put up with me to try and get the Wowhead web comic back to regular updates.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Hearthstone fan sets out to craft a Hearthstone gaming box

Hearthstone fan sets out to craft a Hearthstone gaming box
The first time Steve watched Hearthstone's iconic in-game card box slam shut, he thought to himself "I'm going to make that!"

As a hobbyist carpenter, Steve was inspired to put his woodworking skills to the test when he saw the official art of Blizzard's upcoming title, Hearthstone. Originally he set out to just recreate the box, but overtime the project has morphed into something even better. Now when the box is complete it will serve as a cabinet for a touchscreen laptop which will allow him play Hearthstone out of its own box. Did we mention it also glows?

Smart Wood, Steve's blog, documents the crafting process from the first paper sketches to the nearly completed box. (And you've just got to check out the beautiful interior of the box.) He is currently in the final stages, attaching finishing touches and getting the touchscreen device mounted. When it's complete, he hopes to send it off to Blizzard to get the seal of approval from the Hearthstone Development team with some autographs.

Filed under: Hearthstone Insider

Random Acts of Uberness: Happily wiping "as long as people are learning"

Random Acts of Uberness Happily wiping 'as long as people are learning'
Another week, another full report for Random Acts of Uberness. You guys just can't seem to stop being nice to one another. Who knew?

Caught being uber: Zerep, Area 52 (US-Horde) I'd like to extend a thank you to Zerep, <Scorn> of Area 52 (H). He queued for heroic dungeons as a tank, but I zoned in to find a ret paladin in Righteous Fury mode, swinging Hellscream's Decapitator and completely mopping the floor with dungeon after dungeon. Myself and the other DPS knew what a gravy train we were on and "rode his coattails to VP captown," as it was put.

He was happy for the company, and we had a great time, periodically cycling through healers. One of us would scarcely type a warning into party chat that yes, he's in ret, yes, he's tanking, trust us and buckle up -- and Zerep would be off and running, usually doing more DPS than the rest of us combined by a healthy margin. It was a blast, and even with the occasional wipe when we'd bite off more than we could chew, it was still the fastest I've ever capped valor in a week. Zerep was fun, friendly, uber, and a @#$%ing nightmare to see in action. Thanks again for an awesome series of dungeons!

P.S. Thank you for these periodic bursts of positivity in what can be a hostile and cynical community. -- Beeph, <Reprisal> of Steamwheedle Cartel (US-Horde)

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Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: Shooting Azeroth in all its HD glory

15 Minutes of Fame Screenshot photographer shoots Azeroth in all its HD glory
WoW wallpaper sites come, and WoW wallpaper sites go. You can always download a fresh look for your screen directly from Blizzard. But as satisfying as it is to set a novel desktop wallpaper that truly delights, I enjoy the process of poking around to find wallpapers from people who are passionate about WoW -- like WoWScapes, the passion project of a former raider and amateur photographer who's become fascinated with taking and sharing high-quality screenshots that showcase the striking beauty of Azeroth.

WoWScapes creator Jeremy (aka Rotted of Sen'jin-US) specializes in bringing eye-popping images to players who don't have the hardware or haven't slowed down enough to savor Azeroth's splendor. "In a way, I feel sorry for people who use low-end hardware and cannot thoroughly enjoy the beauty this game displays," he notes. "So with that being said, I have turned many heads and had many people say, 'Is that really what WoW looks like on max settings? All this time, I have been playing and have never seen blades of grass on the ground or bark on the trees.' It's responses like this that make me happy about sharing my 'photos.'"

Jeremy is currently adding two screenshots per week to WoWScapes. "I never had intentions to make money off of the website," he says. "It is strictly something I enjoy doing in my free time -- usually while my wife is raiding. Every wallpaper is free to download."

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: Wherein a reader unmasks an anonymous nominee

Random Acts of Uberness Wherein a reader unmasks an anonymous nominee
Idle curiosity turned into a Random Act of Uberness of its own last week when reader latusthegoat went sleuthing after the identity of one of our Random Acts of Uberness nominees. Here's the instant replay:

Caught being uber: Night elf warrior from Stormrage whose name starts with a D To the fellow warrior from Stormrage (I forget how to spell your name, but it started with a D): A couple of my guildies and I queued up for the first branch of SoO last Friday evening. I ended up realizing after we got the Enter Raid button that I had chosen to tank by accident. I usually don't tank an instance until after I have run through a couple times in fury spec, just to get a feel for the boss and mechanics.

Anyways, I told you to just point me where I need to go, and you coached me throughbeautifully. We coasted through the first two bosses, and you took us all the way to the Sha, where you informed the entire raid that you wouldn't be tanking him again, but here's how you fight him. I have never once had such a fantastic experience in LFR, with everyone chatting about how long they've been playing (I think I was the baby, having only been playing for a few months and most everyone else since vanilla), and you made an impact on my best's opinion of Stormrage (which has never been good). Much applause, kind night elf. I hope to tank with you again if the rolls allow. -- Gamad, Argent Dawn (US-Alliance)


What latusthegoat did after reading Gamad's story added another layer of uberness to the affair.

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Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: Road to BlizzCon cosplay -- prologue

15 Minutes of Fame Road to BlizzCon cosplay, part 1
We first met Amanda Wisley at BlizzCon 2010 as a perky, green-eyed blood elf paladin in full Judgement. Who could forget those eyes? Though she wasn't selected as a finalist in the Blizzard costume contest, her popular paladin attracted crowds of gawkers and fans anxious to be photographed with her off the main convention floor. We chatted with her several times over the course of the weekend, and I encouraged her to get in touch with me if she ever found herself preparing for another run at major BlizzCon cosplay.

Amanda didn't attend BlizzCon in 2011, but she contacted me this summer as her preparations for an trip to Anaheim and an attempt at the 2013 BlizzCon costume contest got into full swing. What has transpired in the weeks since then is an astonishing patchwork of dastardly deadlines, agonizing anticipation, bitter disappointments, and unwavering persistence and hope.

Will Amanda's custom-made pandaran monk be ready in time for November? Will she nab a coveted spot among the first 100 registrants for the BlizzCon costume contest? In the face of purchased tickets and completed travel plans, how will she adapt to roadblocks and disappointments along the way? We'll meet the intrepid cosplayer this week, share the ups and downs of her preparations as we get closer to the convention, and finally join her behind the scenes at BlizzCon itself in November.

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: No more nastygrams

Random Acts of Uberness No more nastygrams
Isn't the World of Warcraft a more inviting place to log in when you're not butt-scrunched down into your chair in anticipation of the first nastygram from a groupmate?

Caught being uber: Night elf warrior from Stormrage whose name starts with a D To the fellow warrior from Stormrage (I forget how to spell your name, but it started with a D): A couple of my guildies and I queued up for the first branch of SoO last Friday evening. I ended up realizing after we got the Enter Raid button that I had chosen to tank by accident. I usually don't tank an instance until after I have run through a couple times in fury spec, just to get a feel for the boss and mechanics.

Anyways, I told you to just point me where I need to go, and you coached me through beautifully. We coasted through the first two bosses, and you took us all the way to the Sha, where you informed the entire raid that you wouldn't be tanking him again, but here's how you fight him. I have never once had such a fantastic experience in LFR, with everyone chatting about how long they've been playing (I think I was the baby, having only been playing for a few months and most everyone else since vanilla), and you made an impact on my best's opinion of Stormrage (which has never been good). Much applause, kind night elf. I hope to tank with you again if the rolls allow. -- Gamad, Argent Dawn (US-Alliance)

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Filed under: News items

15 Minutes of Fame: So an Irish tauren walked into a pub ...

15 Minutes of Fame An Irish tauren went into a pub
How does Battlefield Barrens and the Siege of Orgrimmar relate to 12th-century Irish history? You'd have to ask Allen Tatman, energetic GM of Ná Clan Cáilte on Blackwater Raiders (US-Horde) and owner of Paddy Malone's Irish Pub in Jefferson City, Mo. The enthusiastic WoW fan has managed to cross-pollinate his Irish heritage with his passion for World of Warcraft and his Irish-flavored business. His enthusiasm has lured patrons and employees alike to Azeroth and steered fascinated Americans to Ireland on his guided Wylde Irish Tours. His imaginings about his tauren character have evolved into a full-fledged novel, and he's already toying with ideas for a prequel.

But back to the connections between Siege of Orgrimmar and Irish history -- how does that all work? We'll let Allen Tatman tell the tale amidst his own (something for which the Irish are renowned, after all).

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Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

Random Acts of Uberness: A renaissance of kindness

Random Acts of Uberness A renaissance of kindness
Is the Siege of Orgrimmar turning into a war on meanies? Is World of Warcraft undergoing a renaissance of kindness and cooperation? We have a nice, fat installment of Random Acts of Uberness today, much of it seemingly inspired by the spirit of cooperation as we all stretch our wings in new patch content.

"Since I came back just less than a month ago for the most part people have been fairly nice," commented Bob2525 in last week's column. "The rares in particular have been great sources of kindness. That's not to say everything has been roses but overall the kindness level has risen since the last time I played."

Ron2 concurred: "In the last two weeks, I've seen a lot more positivity in raid finder. I've seen people thanking the guy who set out a feast, telling the tanks and healers that they did a good job, and occasionally telling jokes in between bosses. Not everybody is that way, of course, but it only takes one or two nice people to change the raid environment."

So who's been exceptionally uber to fellow players this week?

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Filed under: News items

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