The Big Project: WoW Machinima film starring Anna Chancellor, Jack Davenport, Joanna Lumley, and BRIAN BLESSED

So yes – the big project that took me away from the Melting Pot is FINALLY OUT!

TRAILER – Death Knight Love Story Pt 1 – Jack Davenport, Anna Chancellor, Joanna Lumley, Brian Blessed from Strange Company on Vimeo.

Voiced by Hollywood stars (Jack Davenport, Anna Chancellor, Joanna Lumley and Brian Blessed), made using full Hollywood-grade motion capture and scored by BAFTA nominee Ross Campbell, Death Knight Love Story is a World of Warcraft-based Machinima fanfilm like no other.

It was written and directed by Hugh Hancock, director of “BloodSpell” and founder of Machinima.com.

Death Knight Love Story (DKLS) is a tale of passion forged in the darkest, most dreadful place possible. It’s a tale of two people born with a searing flame who find each other, lose each other, and end up facing each other in battle, still desperately in love.

Based in Azeroth, the setting of World of Warcraft, DKLS tells the tale of a Death Knight, Miria, the redeemed servant of the Lich King, and Sir Zelieck, first of the Horsemen of Naxxaramas.

It tells how Miria went from being at the Lich King’s right hand to battling to save the North from his armies, and how Sir Zelieck fought the Lich King to his last breath, defied him even in death – and yet still ended up his servant, ruling his floating city of the damned.

Death Knight Love Story was made on a completely non-profit basis as a labour of love. It is arguably the biggest single non-profit Machinima project ever.

You can watch it right now, absolutely free, at [www.deathknightlovestory.com](http://www.deathknightlovestory.com)

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Guides in progress!

Sorry about the slow updates this week! I’m working through the 5.4 Quick Start Guides for WoW, but unfortunately don’t have the time to do them all in a solid day like I usually do!

Still, tanks and healers are done, and mages should be finished by the end of the day too!

Normal service resuming next week, I hope.

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EQNext: The Next Big Thing Roundup

So, Sony recently announced their next Everquest game. It sounds pretty cool – dynamic world AI, voxel-based landscapes, and –

Oh, you’ve heard about it already?

I’m really not sure when we last saw an announcement that has gotten the MMO community as excited as the EQNext reveal this weekend – and for good reason. The features they’re promising sound utterly revolutionary, and more importantly, at least reasonably achievable. I’m personally familiar with the kind of voxel-based landscape engine they’re using – it’s very doable for a next-gen game.

But will it actually work?

Let’s go to the phones – or, as the case may be, blogs:

What do you think? Is it as good as it looks?

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WoW drops 14% of subscribers – Blogger Reactions

It’s the big – nay, huge – news of the month in the MMO blogosphere: according to publishers Activision, World of Warcraft has dropped 14% of its subscribers, 1,300,000 people, since the fourth quarter of 2012.

That’s massive.

Does it mean WoW is dying?

Is there likely to be another WoW expansion in light of this news?

As always, the blogosphere rallies round with some really fascinating insights:

  • Saxsy posts some really brilliant analysis of not just the announcement but the accounting figures behind it, saying amongst other things that she doesn’t believe there will be another WoW expansion – and part 2 here“Whatever one thinks of Mists of Pandaria artistically, the financials show the grim truth that it failed to spark significant revenue increases.”
  • Azuriel believes that the fascinating point in all this is just how cautious and conservative Activison are“Activision-Blizzard might join the ranks of EA as a big-budget publisher who only produces one title that I am remotely interested in, with all the “risky” indie ventures soaking up the money I leave on the table.”
  • Mhogrim contrasts WoW’s remarkable longevity with the lifecycle of other games” 90 days to 6 months; Players have gotten pretty comfortable but the new shinies aren’t as shiny anymore. Progression raids have been fullfilled, pvp brackets have been maxed and…what is there to do again?”
  • The Grumpy Elf writes an epic post outlining his vision of how Blizzard could stem the tide“Lets face it, the game is not casual friendly for the 80%. The people that do not seek out information on their own. Would they know that the AC quartermaster is under the main city? Or even where to do the AC dailies if they never stumbled across the person offering the lead in quest? “
  • Goetia muses on what keeps her playing WoW these days and whether it will continue to be enough” I just hope that someone smarter than me (and smarter than the current dev team) figures out how to put a new shine on the endgame.”
  • Typhoon Andrew injects a note of “is this really big news?”“What can we as current WoW players do? Not much. Keep having fun and playing. Just because something is less exciting for most people has never been a reason I’ll like it.”
  • And Zellviren offers a well-thought-out and balanced theory as to what might have gone wrong: lack of progression options for casual players, hardcore-only Normal raids and the death of alt-focused playstyles“Here’s a tip: casual players want to develop their characters, too. At this point in 5.2, you have a single way of doing that. LFR.”
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WoW Patch 5.2 Quick-Start Guides For All Classes And Specs

Yes, it’s that time again – the time that the Melting Pot team burn the midnight oil to produce quick-start guides for every class and spec in a new World of Warcraft patch. This time it’s Patch 5.2 and the Throne of Thunder!

As always, if you have questions, comments or suggestions to improve these guides, please do say! These are quick-start guides – we link to more detailed guides at the bottom of each quick-start!

And if you find one of our guides useful, please do link to these quick-starts on your blog, on Twitter or on Facebook. We’d very much appreciate it!

Here we go, then – Patch 5.2 in all its glory…

Tanks

Healers

Ranged DPS

Melee DPS

Hope they’re useful!

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Could You Go Back To An Old MMO?

Over the weekend, there was one last issue that seemed to be running around the blogosphere – and that was the issue of old games. Could you go back? Would it be fun if you did?

  • Ravious returned to LoTRO after time in Guild Wars 2, and ended up with an entirely new perspective on quests versus the “Hearts” system“I think that the Guild Wars 2 system is one of the best for an MMO, but I also think it is important to step back for a moment. In my case, LOTRO helped me do that because it allowed me to clear my mind of the subjective glee of playing Guild Wars 2. I had to return to restriction with quest chains to truly see the Guild Wars 2 system.”
  • Syncaine looks at the idea of returning to old MMORPGs as his own personal favourite, Darkfall, looms into view once again” An MMO’s design determines who it attracts. There is a reason The Mittani and players like him play EVE and not GW2. And should EVE ever turn into GW2, those players will leave.”
  • And Beau Hindeman at Massively returns to a particularly old favourite – Dark Age of Camelot, which he finds still very playable“My theory on graphics is that they can stay stuck in time, with barely an update, for years and years. Look at EverQuest or Ultima Online, for example. Like Dark Age of Camelot, these games can pretty much remain how they are for the rest of time and we can still appreciate them. “

Personally, I’ve recently been playing Thief: The Dark Age, originally released in 1998 – and it’s astonishing just how playable it is and how complex it feels. The graphics are awful, but other than that, it’s still extremely playable, exciting, and scary.

Have you revisted an old favourite? How did you find it?

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Pandaren In Chairs, Playing In Sandboxes, and More

And finally, from Chen Stormstout to stock market parody, here’s some more great links to round out Wednesday:

  • Bravetank puts another WoW character in the psychiatrist’s chair, this time Chen Stormstout, with typically hilarious results“Oh me old mucker Rexxar. You must have heard of him. Big chap. Big teeth. Like this … (bares teeth). Always got a bear with him. He loves the animals. Actually that bit made me feel a bit awkward when we hung out. Occasionally he’d put a leash on me. He told me it was a friendship leash but it hurt when he tugged. And I didn’t like it when he made me dance for food – unless it was a jig – I do love to jig. “
  • Jeromai, who is on a bit of a roll right now, writes an excellent piece looking at name recognition in the context of the Guild Wars “social” debate“Some others may simply be names that get more and more familiar the more time you spend on the server. I’ll give a named example, since some people are pouting that we bloggers talk along in generalities, but never in specifics.”
  • Rowan Blaze draws an analogy between Guild Wars 2’s social setup and that of a children’s playground“many get into a rousing make-believe scenario: Pirates on the High Seas, maybe, or Cowboys and Indians. They’re all shouting and having fun with each other. Even if some of the children are not directly playing with others, as long as there is no bullying, everyone can have a good time.”
  • And Rades is getting with the satire again, as he reports on claims that recent Auction House sales in Orgrimmar have been disappointing“When asked if Horde citizens were not broke, but instead simply spending their money on Pandaria rather than at home, Bagger scoffed. “Don’t be ridiculous, kid,” said Bagger, rolling his eyes. “Those purchases aren’t even worth mentioning. Who’s spending money in some foreign dump – a dozen chumps? “

Enjoyed today’s posts? Please consider sharing them with your fellow players!

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What Other Games Are People Playing?

It’s a time of rapid change in the MMO world – but who’s playing what? Do the numbers really mean what they seem to mean? And will we still be playing the same games in a month?

Today’s blog posts attempt to answer all that and more:

  • Tobold looks at the gameplay statistics posted by XFire, used by many bloggers, and asks how accurate they really are“I think XFire exaggerates trends, as it is mainly installed by people who switch a lot between games. If you’d only play one game, what need would you have for software which tells you what game you played how long?”
  • Keen reports back on in-game experiences in a project I’m particularly interested by – SWGEmu, the unofficial server emulator for Star Wars Galaxies” SWGEmu is a SWG emulator recreating the game at the point it was at before the infamous combat update. Since the real SWG was shut down, just about everyone who still wants to play the game is playing on SWGEmu — about 3,000 people online at any given time.”
  • Syncaine looks at player numbers for every MMO but WoW, and asks why people call EVE Online a “niche” title“So I ask, what ‘mass-market’ MMO are people talking about when stating EVE’s 400k subs is ‘niche’?”
  • Ardwulf, meanwhile, is returning to EVE, his first MMO, and contrasts its play offerings with that of WoW amongst other games“in a sense EVE drops you into its endgame almost immediately, at least upon completion of the (now significantly expanded but still ultimately optional) tutorials. You have to be setting goals for yourself right away instead of getting many dozens of hours to explore the game.”
  • And Ocho asks whether the honeymoon’s already over for Guild Wars 2 – building on the “social or not” debate to ask whether the Guild Wars community has already soured“This was met with a resounding “lol whatever noob. dear diary, nobody cares.” and led into flames of how I was apparently playing the game wrong.”

I must admit, having spend some time in the Guild Wars 2 subreddit recently, I’m a bit concerned about how the community’s developing too – but I’m hoping it’s just growing pains.

What are you playing? What do you think other people are playing?

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MoP Report: One Week In, Is The Thrill Lasting?

Mists of Pandaria is one week old – so is the magic holding, or is Pandaria starting to pall?

  • Ben at The Asylum Wall enthuses about the MoP Pet Battle System“The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.”
  • Zinn gives us a “one week in” summary, from initial feelings of overwhelm to thoughts on the daily grind“Eventhough the quests might be quick and easy, I can’t feel but think that it is unjust as some classes and specs have a much easier time with quest farming than others.”
  • Erinys has hit level 90, and gives us her view from the level cap, from dailies to Heroics to pet battles“The choice is overwhelming as is the feeling that you should ignore the “fun” ones (Tillers/Anglers/Cloud Serpents) whilst concentrating on the rest in the run up to raids and the arena season starting. “
  • Rowan Blaze returned to WoW for the Pandaren starting zone, and gives us impression from the PoV of a Guild Wars 2 convert“Another aspect of WoW (and SWTOR) that I do not miss is the competition for resources with other players. After having trained in skinning, I forgot that I was capable of doing so and turned around to a recent kill, only to find another player skinning it.”
  • Fari the Achivement Hunter rounds up her experiences with both cooking and fishing, one week in“Can I be honest? I was totally and completely skeptical about what people call “Farmville” with the Tillers reputation, but it’s a lot more fun than I expected! “
  • Kadomi has hit 90 one week in, and gives us an overview of the experience so far, from leveling zones to the rep grind“I do however not mind the old-fashioned reputation grind. In a way, that makes reputation more meaningful to me. “
  • Derevka gives us a quick overview of his experience from 85 to 90, touching on both leveling and what’s coming to be the early endgame bugbear, the reputation grind of dailies“I have to really stand up and applaud Blizzard for Mists of Pandaria; it really is probably one of their most polished expansions to date. “
  • Jed gives us his impressions too, as someone who played particularly the Jade Forest thoroughly on beta and in Live“I much prefer the new quests as they definitely convey the “we are at war” concept that blizzard has been pushing on us for this expansion. “
  • Darraxus gives a quick overview of his mid-leveling impressions“I am really enjoying the questing so far. There are lots of little interesting quests, and many have given me fun items instead of just a weapon or piece of armor. “
  • And Zellviren closes the day off by waxing extremely lyrical about MoP’s profession design. Spoiler: he’s really, really impressed“This is flat-out great design. It’s imaginative, it’s fun, it adds legitimate gameplay value to professions that many players like, and it manages to do all of that without ostracizing raiders who merely want to get their performance bonuses.”

I’m a fair way behind most people in leveling in MoP, but still – it is indeed still great fun.

So, one week in – what are your thoughts?

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Guild Wars 2 – the MAAAASIVE Blogger Reactions Roundup

So yeah, this MMO came out this weekend. Indie thing. You’ve probably not heard of it.

Or then again, maybe you have.

Guild Wars 2 has indeed turned out to be the juggernaut it promised to be, and it’s knocking down all other MMO writing in its path. So, since I’ve spent the last two days with my head up WoW Patch 5.04’s particulars, to balance things out here’s a MASSIVE roundup of all the fascinating posts on Guild Wars 2 and how, after this long, long wait, it finally turned out.

Long and Detailed

  • Ardwulf sums up his experience from beta to live in extensive bullet point form“The game overall is very strong. Barring the occasional bug or borked event, all of the essential progression elements (tasks, events and other means of gaining XP) work great.”
  • Anjin was expecting to dislike Guild Wars 2 – but turned out to love it“For all the time I spent adventuring, I spent equally as much time exploring Divinity’s Reach. That city is amazing.”
  • Matt Daniel at Massively is loving Guld Wars 2, but writes a lengthy post looking at the things he believes it could be doing better“I’m also not a fan of how large of a role these static-quests-that-occur-at-random-times (doesn’t quite have the same ring to it) play in overall progression, and the reason for this is simple: They occur at random times.”
  • Paeroka has been a Guild Wars fan for a while, but writes a really detailed pro-and-con post about her first five days’ experience“There is no “queuing” to kill a named quest mob. There is no kill stealing in general. And no stealing of resource nodes either! I do not feel that I have to go from quest hub to quest hub and check off the available quests in each of them.”
  • The Mighty Viking Hamster, who was skeptical about GW2, writes of his complete conversion to this new way of building MMOs“ArenaNet have definitely raised the bar with this one and now I understand the frequent talk of ‘changing the genre’ that seemed to come up whenever someone was discussing the game pre-release. “
  • Jeromai writes about Guild Wars 2 in detail – but apparently only managed to tear himself away because the servers went down“I truly don’t understand how people are having a problem with gaining experience. I suspect they’re just running from heart to heart and not doing anything else”
  • Psynister writes a HUUUUUUUUUGE review of the game – when I say this review covers all aspects, it really, really does – but it’s still very interesting“GW2 uses a semi-horizontal leveling system, where-in your effective character level is reduced when you go to zones that are lower level than you actually are. “
  • Chris at Game by Night enthuses about the game, which he says captured him even though as a newbie, he started out overwhelmed“You know that whole “me posting more” thing? Yeah, GW2 wants wants to end that. That should be a testament to how good I’ve found this game.”
  • Rohan shares his impressions of GW2 in a lengthy, interesting point-by-point discussion“So changing weapons means something, it actually changes your gameplay. It’s not just cosmetic. This also allows GW2 to make weapons feel appropriate.”

On The Bans

  • Ravious comments on Arena.net’s ballsy decision to publically air the reasons people were banned“ArenaNet decided that it would be better to air some dirty laundry. The effect? It appears that they are reinforcing how they want their community to be, and people appear to be rallying behind them in force.”
  • Timothy Burke also comments on this particularly interesting, and apparently really successful decision“Basically it breaks down into two major causes: first, that the account has been hacked by gold sellers and second, because the player was saying racist, homophobic, or grossly offensive things in public chat. “
  • And the thread where Arena.net actually aired the dirty laundry is really interesting reading“If you think you were unfairly suspended, or if you’d like to know the specific chat or character name that got you suspended, post your character name and we’ll reply in graphic detail with the reason for the block”

Other Specific Topics

  • The Nozy Gamer reports that the most-played MMO of the weekend was NOT World of Warcraft“Despite the gaudy numbers, the scary thing for other game developers and publishers is that this weekend was just the early launch for those who pre-ordered GW2. “
  • Green Armadillo wonders if the real MMO under threat from Guild Wars might not be WoW, but RIFT“When you look at what distinguishes the remaining MMO’s – and in particular the surviving subscription games – I’m much more worried for Rift. “
  • Syncaine wonders if the game will actually stand the test of time“The point remains that if killing boars or whatever did not lead to something, most would not spend hours killing boars for the ‘gameplay’ factor. “
  • Keen considers what it means for both the game and the player who did it that the first level 80 got there before the game was even officially launched“Guild Wars 2 officially launches today, yet many players are already max level… What does that say about the game? What does that say about the player?.”
  • Ironically enough given the game’s name, Azuriel is having real trouble with guilds in Guild Wars 2“Some random guy in Wisconsin six servers away claimed ownership first, now and forever, leaving me with choices like The Invictus, XxInvictusxX, Invictus 2: First Blood, and a cavalcade of increasingly poor choices.”
  • Syp loves the crafting aspect of Guild Wars 2, and explains why he’s just that taken with it“God bless ArenaNet for making crafting nodes non-exclusive. I hated that feeling of rushing toward a node while seeing someone else doing the same, worried that they’d get it first and feeling resentment toward them either way. “
  • Tobold wrote a post about the first boss of Guild Wars 2 – the login server“I’d love to tell you how much fun I had playing Guild Wars 2, but in reality I haven’t even beaten the first enemy of the game yet: The login server.”
  • Moxie didn’t buy the Collector’s Edition – but decided to buy a bunch of extra items for the game instead“Total: $300, the same price as two GW2 CEs, and we’ll certainly get a lot more use out of the gems, slots, soundtrack, and guide than we would the figurine or the in-game items”

Personal Experience

  • Stargrace checks in at level 30 to discuss the experience she’s had – which has been almost deleriously positive“How to tell I’m REALLY enjoying a game? I stop playing alts.”
  • Healing The Masses has been getting fully ADD on Guild Wars 2, and presents the experience of doing a little bit of everything“The world feels absolutely wonderful and makes you feel like some wandering adventurer out to help (or make mischief) where and how you please. “
  • Syncaine gives Guild Wars 2 the thumbs-up in typically cynical style“Overall though a good start for Anet and GW2, even with that stupid baseball cap they gave out to everyone that instantly kicks immersion in the nuts.”
  • MMO Gamer Chick shares her experience of playing GW2 over the weekend, both solo and attempting to play with friends“Alas, out of the many hours we spent in GW2 this weekend, our characters were only able to spend a small fraction of that time in-game adventuring with each other.”
  • Lorehound’s Mike explains why he’s in the minority as someone who didn’t like GW2 and won’t be keeping playing“Making all the quests public is nice, but it doesn’t solve the problem of having boring quests and I have no interest in completing hundreds of them before I get to some good ones.”

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