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Facebook vs. World of Warcraft

They both have millions of users across the world. They both have made and broken friendships and relationships, and they both have raised millions if not billions of dollars for their respective companies. And chances are that they're both so popular even your grandma knows about them. Gamasutra has written an interesting post comparing both World of Warcraft and Facebook of all things, and they say that the two are more alike than you might think: both enable you to create an identity, and use that identity to interact with others, and both give you a wide variety of options to do so (in WoW, you can slay dragons together, and on Facebook, you can tag pictures or post on walls). Gamasutra wants to get to the center of where exactly the interactivity lies, and in doing so, figure out what makes Warcraft a game, and Facebook a network.

One major difference is in the interface -- obviously, WoW is wrapped in a fantasy world, so that in between all of the socializing, you're also fighting the Scourge or the Burning Crusade. Facebook has games, but it doesn't have that overarching narrative. WoW also rewards group teamwork and coordination, while Facebook leaves collaboration to its own rewards. And of course the cost is another big difference: WoW is still a subscription game, while Facebook pays in other ways. But the amount of similarities between the two are pretty fascinating. And comparing the two, as Gamasutra does, really makes you think about just what interactivity means, and how two apparently very different types of interactive media aren't that far apart after all.

Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

SWAPS loot system offers another DKP option

I'm finding myself really fascinated with loot systems lately -- the old DKP is pretty good, but even that has drama, and it seems like there's a lot of interesting ideas going around about how to evenly and fairly distribute loot amongst a group of people. OutDPS has a writeup about a loot system called SWAPS. Instead of sending "points" off into the void, you actually "give" your spent points to everyone else in the raid. You start out with 1,000 free points (though those are distributed over time, to prevent new players from having tons of points early on) and then when an item comes up, everyone bids on it: the highest bid gets the item and the points they bid are spread around to the rest of the raiders. In other words, if someone in a 10-man raid bids 500 points and wins an item, those 500 points are distributed evenly amongst the other nine raiders. While the winner loses the 500 points they spent, everyone else gets a bonus 56 points. The person winning the item "pays" for the privilege of taking it by beefing up everyone else's point totals.

It is probably not a perfect system (there's no way to reward points for anything other than loot dropping, for one thing, and while some people have modified the rules to create a separate bidding pool for class items, the basic system doesn't cover class or offspec items), but it does solve a lot of the questions of fairness, and it keeps everything pretty above-board: if you are low on points, the only reason would be that either you just started raiding, or that you've just spent a lot of points on an item. There's an addon, of course, and it will give you all sorts of reports and updates on where all of your raiders are at in the system. If you've been poking around for a DKP system that is based on being open and fair, it might be worth trying out in your guild.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Tips, Guilds, Add-Ons, Instances, Bosses

How the 3.2 Emblems changes will affect the game

As we've heard, patch 3.2 will seriously streamline the Emblems system, allowing players to pick up Ulduar-level Emblems even just by running Heroics. Though lots of the other patch 3.2 changes have taken the spotlight lately, the Emblems change is definitely still a big deal, and while lots of "hardcore" players are up in arms about the changes (they had to raid for the same gear that people will now be able to get just by running Heroics, and even the brand new Emblems of Triumph gear will be attainable through Heroic dailies), other players are just confused by the whole thing. Fortunately, if you haven't yet wrapped your head around what all the changes mean, Clearcasting has a really excellent, thorough writeup about the Emblems changes, both explaining what you'll be able to get from where, and why Blizzard has decided to do things this way.

The biggest fear seems to be that players who have never raided before will start walking around in Ulduar- or even Coliseum-level gear, and they'll get invited to raids based on their gear, only to find that they're clueless about what to do. But I like Arioch's point there: does that mean we don't have clueless raiders now? Of course we do -- the gear you're wearing doesn't say anything about what you've done now, and it'll say even less after the patch. Players are already requiring achievements, and even that doesn't necessarily guarantee you're a good player.

Will there be bad PuGs after the patch? Of course, and there are bad PuGs now, too. But this is definitely a helpful change for anyone with alts, and while yes, it will allow non-raiders to get better gear, and it will probably bring raiders back into Heroics more often, it still won't affect those who are raiding at the highest levels. They'll still get the best gear earlier than everyone else, so if that's what's important to them, they've got nothing to complain about.
Patch 3.2 will bring about a new 5, 10, and 25 man instance to WoW, and usher in a new 40-man battleground called the Isle of Conquest. WoW.com will have you covered every step of the way, from extensive PTR coverage through the official live release. Check out WoW.com's Guide to Patch 3.2 for all the latest!

Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Guilds, Blizzard, Raiding, Bosses

Equipment manager and dual talents won't mix

Now, I was under the impression that Blizzard eventually wanted to combine the dual specs and equipment manager features -- they were taking their sweet time making sure it was exactly right, but eventually when you switched specs, you'd be able to switch into the gear you wanted at the same time. But apparently that's not the case: the lovely Nethaera over on the forums says that no, there are no plans to connect the two. They believe that many people will want to change specs and gear at different times, so you'll still have to press two buttons if you just have two gear sets for two specs.

Fortunately, that functionality is filled in very well with addons, and Eliah did a nice writeup last month of how to do it with a few of the available addons out there. Which is probably why Blizzard isn't doing it -- we've heard at the BlizzCon UI panel that they're more than happy to let addon authors fill in the extra functionality that they believe only a few players are looking for. And as you can see in the thread, there are macros that will tie them together as well.

Better for Blizzard to get to work on something else than put together functionality that those who really need can already find. But yes, if you're waiting for an official solution to switching gear and specs at the same time, look elsewhere.

Filed under: Patches, Items, Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Talents

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