Weekend Roundup: WoW

The world of WoW blogging is interesting right now. Whilst you might have expected it to be filled with tales of endgame raiding and hardcore theorycrafting, instead it seems that Blizzard’s mission to diversify WoW’s activities has really worked. People are discussing story, they’re discussing pet battles, and all sorts of things. It’s very interesting and very spread out.

Here are some of the most interesting or entertaining posts from the weekend:

  • Garrosh Hellscream has ended up in Karazhan, and he’s taking the opportunity to put on a show! Well, two, actually – if you’ve got some time and fancy a parody, check out West Azeroth Story and the Roshy Horror Picture Show
  • Typhoon Andrew looks back at this day over his last five years of blogging“It didn’t break the economy at all, in fact I’d say that they folks buying this thing now for real money are the folks who want it themselves. Crisis averted.”
  • The Godmother looks forward to the next patch, and finds herself worried in character at the way events are turning“Have no lessons been learnt from the war in Northrend at all? Apparently not, because I’m being told now I’m expected to ‘valiantly defend an outpost’ I think is both badly considered and frankly unacceptable on a continent with such a rich cultural diversity.”
  • And The Grumpy Elf is, frankly, bouncing with excitement at what the datamining from 5.1 is revealing (warning, spoilers)- ” Blizzard is really making sure that mists takes warcraft to the next level. Old game be damned, it feels new again, new with excitement. Lets hope these quicker patches keep coming and the story keeps rolling out with the intensity that 5.1 seems to be bringing with it.”

How’s MoP for you, three weeks in? Are you raiding hardcore or doing something else?

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LoTRO Nearly, Pet Battles, and Body Language

And we round out today with a look to the past, and a few to the future. From what LoTRO nearly was, to what Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be…

  • Andang looks back at what LoTRO nearly was – a game called Middle-Earth Online, concieved well before the LoTR films, and very, very different to LoTRO…“All classes were locked to a single race. It looks like each race had two classes each and each class had two ways to progress. There was a good way and an evil way to progress, each with its own storyline, quests, objectives and even good only and evil only locations.”
  • Chris looks at the much-discussed question of what exactly Guild Wars 2’s endgame will be, and comes up with some fascinating quotes from the Googles“For my part, I enjoy the traditional raid-game but can’t often take part in it, so changing up the dynamic is appealing to me on a personal level. That said, I have serious concerns about the longevity of a non-progression endgame.”
  • Erinys lets us into a guilty secret – she loves WoW pets, but so far really isn’t loving the new Pet Battles subgame“Once you’ve captured the pets, the frustration doesn’t end. All critters aren’t created equal which means that quite often you find yourself having to let go of little Flopsy the cottontailed bunny because he’s a common bunny and you’re after his rare big brother.”
  • And Michael Grey rounds out the day with talk of a different part of the future – his tips for playing with a baby on your chest“Don’t go main tanking a 25-man heroic dungeon with 24 impatient raiders if you’ve got a baby on your chest. The best-case scenario will be a merry yellow stain on your chest. The worst case scenario will be lots of tears and recriminations, to say nothing of the baby’s reaction.”

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Five Things You Might Not Know About The Pot’s History

Did you know that the Pot runs an awards ceremony? Or that Rebecca was a well-known blogger before starting the Pot? Or which website inspired us to create the Melting Pot?

As regular readers will know, the MMO Melting Pot celebrated its second birthday last week. This week, I’m looking back at the Pot’s past, and then forward to the Pot’s future.

Today, I’m doing a bit of a Did You Know session about the Melting Pot – facts and details that you might not know from our two years collating the best of the MMO blogosphere. On Friday, I’ll be looking at the future and talking about some pretty big plans we’ve got for the site – which I think you’ll like!

But for now, Did You Know…

  • Rebecca, who launched the Melting Pot, was an MMO blogger herself before she started the Pot. She blogged under the name “Mimetir” over at World of Matticus, mostly writing about raid leading and the practical details of healing. You can still read her old posts over there – Mimetir’s posts on WoM. The Melting Pot was actually inspired by one of the most famous websites on the ‘net – BoingBoing, the Directory of Wonderful Things – as Rebecca wrote for WoM, the amount of great writing on MMORPGs continued to surprise us, and we started to feel that such great writing deserved more showcasing and more visibility, via what we initially referred to as “BoingBoing for MMOs”.
  • The Pot launched in July 2010 – obviously enough. Some of the writers we featured in our earliest days are still active in the MMORPG blogging community – we featured Pewter talking about the Goblin racial emotes in the Cataclysm beta (shades of Jin Firepaw there), Graylo talking about the battle between 10 and 25-man raid sizes (a topic that’s still hot today), and Kurn talking about guild relationships.
  • We’ve tried a number of special events or features over the years. Some of them have been huge successes, like the Pink Pigtail Awards for MMOs and MMO blogging, which we took over from their originator Larisa, my massive review of the year in MMOs, and of course the MMO Blogger Map. But we’ve tried others, too, which didn’t survive for one reason or another, like my roundups of the latest in class theorycrafting and our attempt at an addon spotlight column.
  • This one’s probably better-known, but I keep hearing that people are surprised by it – so, did you know that we also write a huge and very popular selection of guides to various aspects of various games? We started off writing these guides when Rebecca and I started playing A Tale In The Desert – here’s my terribly out-of-date guide to setting up glassmaking in ATITD – but Rebecca was the first to start on WoW guides. Since then, Rebecca, Johnnie and myself have all written a pile of informative stuff – you might well know about our LfR guides or our quick-start guides for new WoW patches (which I tend to write in one massive, exhausting week of effort), but did you know we also dabbled in amusing raid tactics or quest guides for particularly irritating quests?
  • We have heard a couple of people say they’d like to hear more opinions from the Pot staff – well, we do actually write editorials from time to time! You can find all the Pot staff’s editorials over in the Editorial Features section. Generally, they only get written when one of us is annoyed or particularly enthused about something – and 2012’s been pretty quiet on that front – but you never know, MoP or Guild Wars 2 may yet irritate us enough to get our own opinions on the page again…

And so, there you have it! I’ll be concluding our birthday celebrations on Friday, looking at what we’re planning to do with the Pot in the next two years…

Any other memories of the Pot’s history that you think we should have included?

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Resumes, Bots and The Diablo Legacy – Thursday Links

It’s obvious that the WoW world is starting to hot up again, with 5.0 headed to the PTR, as we’re seeing a lot more comment, consideration and, yes, complaint about Blizzard’s giant MMO in the blogosphere these days compared with even a month ago. But other games are still hanging in there too – today we’ve got a fascinating look into the world of EVE botters, as well as a dissection of Diablo 3 compared to its predecessor:

  • Frinka at Warcraft Street asks whether sucessful AH players in WoW could use that skill on their real-world resumes“If you are persistent and participate in many conversations with “random people” over a long period you will likely learn how to steer a nibble PST conversation into a sale. “
  • The Nosy Gamer brings us a report from the shadow world of EVE botters, as he quotes botting forums to show that CCP are successfully keeping cheaters quite unhappy“maybe what i writing not will be popular, but … MINING AT BOT ISIN’T SAFE ANYMORE !!! that was , 2 – 6 years ago, right now – after that many years CCP got toys to catching botters”
  • Clockwork at Out Of Beta asks if Diablo 3 really stands up as a worthy successor to the “Diablo” title“D2’s dungeons were random halls that no reasonable architect would have ever designed and yet they FELT right. Each one was different, each was unique…aside from boss rooms, you almost never had the same place twice. “

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And In Lighter News – Pandaren, Another Shattering, and Things That Happened

There have been two pretty serious topics today, one quite upsetting. But there’s still plenty of room for lighter, more fun game-focussed writing too, as the remainder of today’s links prove.

  • The Godmother offers us her thoughts on the early beta Pandaren levelling experience – I won’t quote from this one due to spoiler potential, but it’s a really interesting post.
  • The Grumpy Elf muses on the possibilities offered by a healing class that doesn’t use manaRage:Pros: If it is based on damage you or people you are with receive it could mean unlimited resources. It would most likely need to require you to buff someone, or a few people, as the main generator of rage for you meaning in most cases it would be put it on the tank, a set it and forget it mechanic.”
  • Green Armadillo at Player vs Developer wonders if there are clues out there pointing to a second Shattering“By 2014’s expansion, the early questlines of the Shattering, in which, for example, Sylvanas and Garrosh discuss the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Lich King, will be three years out of date. Will Blizzard want this to be the first thing new visitors to Azeroth encounter? “
  • And A Sunnier Bear presents a really fun list – a look back at the distant past of 2004, and things that happened the year WoW was released“the dominant consoles were the GameCube, the Gameboy Advance, the PS2, and the XBox. My favorite game was Pokemon Leafgreen, and everyone else’s favorite game was Halo 2. The best selling game of the year was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (the one with the controversial “Hot Coffee” mod).”

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A Lovely Idea – a year of WoW instancing in video

The Ancient Gaming Noob came up with an idea over the weekend which I absolutely love – seriously, it gets me right here – and I’m not entirely sure why. But I am at least partially sure that it’ll hit some of you the same way.

It’s a very simple plan, really. He wanted to put together a celebration of his regular Saturday night instancing group, which started back in 2006 and has been going ever since. And since he’d been playing around with Windows Movie Maker, he decided to make a movie.

And then he realised just how many screenshots he had, watched a couple of documentaries, and came up with something rather wonderful

“Deadmines to Zul’Farrak does not seem like a years worth of progress, especially if you have only played WoW in the age of the Dungeon Finder. Looking at the screen shots reminded me that there were often weeks that went by in between where we had to level up to get to the next instance. And, in addition, we used to try to get in an hour or two as a group on Thursday nights as well.

And then there was the hiatus when Earl moved to New York and Skronk and Ula came back to California. (Was that at the same time?) Basically, from mid-March to early September of 2007, we didn’t play WoW as a group. This, by the way, is totally the reason I keep the blog. Even looking at time stamps on screen shots for literally hours, I did not realize until I went to check on how long the hiatus was that it actually ran for that duration. During that time Lord of the Rings Online launched and the four of us not moving to New York played that. So the shot at time slot 3:08 and the one at 3:13 bridges a six month gap.

On missing screen shots, in Zul’Farrak there is a shot of the gong. What I had no picture to help explain was the fact that we got there and realized we had not yet obtained the Mallet of Zul’Farrak, which is way out in the Hinterlands. (Remember when instance quests took you all over?) There is a post that explains that, but I could not figure a way to get that across in the video sans picture evidence. So there is the establishing shot of the gong, but no follow on, aside from the Gahz’rilla fight. Liberties taken.

The first screen shot in the video, three of us (Ula, Skronk, and Blintz) at Loch Modan, is the earliest screen shot I have of any members of the group. It is time stamped September 30, 2006, 9:47pm. The oldest WoW screenshot I could find is from March 2006, and features Tistann, my hunter, at the Mirage Raceway at about level 40. Somewhere there is a folder of even older screenshots I am sure.”

There seems to be a screenshot/nostalgia thing in the air at the moment, as evidenced by the runaway success of the “Sixth” meme. (Which I will be participating in, having now been tagged multiple times – watch this space). And seeing such a breadth of WoW history in a single space, and hearing the stories – it’s somehow very stirring.

It’s worth watching TAGN’s video, too – it’s far more engaging than the description “screenshot video” would suggest, and he’s using some great documentary techniques that make the pictures come alive.

This is another moment where I’d love to see a wave of these videos. Indeed, my Sixth post may well be in video form. Particularly with recent discussions about bloggers being the archivists of the MMO experience, it’s awesome that we have such tools to tell our stories with.

Would you consider making a “WoW Memories” video?

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Are bloggers the archivists of the MMO artform?

Games are art. I think we’ve got to the point where this is a generally accepted fact, right?

Well, Random Waypoint writes a really interesting article today, in which he discusses the problem of preserving MMOs. It’s easily possible to preserve a CD of music or a DVD of film, but preserving MMOs presents a great deal more of a challenge

“There are projects that try to find out how to properly archive and preserve virtual worlds. I’m sure I read about a funded research project somewhere, but I can’t find the source any more… “Research project” means though that it will probably be years before we have a stable, off-the-shelf solution for archivists.

There is also the problem of intellectual property and patents. While the client side software readily available, the server side is practically never published by the game company. The best we can do these days typically are emulation servers, like Project 1999 for Everquest and SWGEmu for Star Wars Galaxies. But these come with two problems. First, they’re never 100% the original. Second, they’re on shaky legal terrain. Today, a game company can simply shut down their servers, and if it was hellbent on it, probably still hunt emulation servers and get them taken down.

Preserve the experience: But even if you have a server and clients available, what worth is a virtual world that you are in all by yourself? It’s like preserving an opera house without performing any operas. Ask yourself: what are the things that you remember from the time you played? It bet it isn’t the 10 million rats you killed over the course of 1 million quests. What we remember are those special moments, those attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, that we witnessed – and this is important – with others. You can’t capture these moments by emulating the server and client software, and playing the games years or decades after their death. Many of these moments are special because of their transience: Your guild’s first kill of Nefarian, that epic quest that you finally finished after weeks with help from your friends, the surprise attack in nullsec that annihilated a whole fleet of supercapitals. And even though it was plagued with lag and server overload, many people still speak fondly of the day their server opened the gates to Ahn’Qiraj.”

RW’s covers a lot of really interesting ground here. His argument that MMOs are the cathedrals of our day is extremely interesting – it’s indeed the case that they are among the most massive, sprawling, expensive artistic projects undertaken anywhere in the world. But the real meat of his argument comes when he looks at the preservation of the experience of playing MMORPGs – and argues that bloggers have a vital role there, as the people who “document why these games were more to us than “kill 10 rats” repeated 1000 times, then “kill the bad guy with 24 random strangers”.”

Obviously, I think that MMO blogging is important, or I wouldn’t be running this site. And I’d generally agree that some bloggers do a fantastic job of memorialising just why an MMO was so fantastic, or so important, to them or to others. (And non-MMOs too – if you haven’t read the Boatmurdered Chronicles of Dwarf Fortress, you’re missing out).

But at the same time, it’s a hell of a responsibility. So, what do you think? Are we bloggers really the curators of an entire artform?

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A Short History Of Soul Shards

Few elements of the game in World of Warcraft have changed as much over the years as the Warlock’s Soul Shards. From inconvenient-but-characterful bag-fillers to single-spec-only UNholy Power equivalent, they’ve been through the wringer over WoW’s evolution.

And if you’re not a Warlock, or you haven’t been playing for that long, you’ve likely missed the entire dance. So, it was with considerable interest that I happened across Fel Concentration’s history post today, as Poneria takes us through the history of this particularly problematic game mechanic

“In Wrath, some things like summoning and soulwells still cost shards, and you had to farm for them when doing things — like summoning — that used up mass amounts of shards. Eight levels below is the lowest you can go before you grey out of experience or honor. I remember in Naxx 2.0 hopping down to the ground where level 72 mobs were to drain some souls so I could resummon the lazy raid members who couldn’t take the first summons I handed out. (Now my guildy readers will know why Pon is a Grumpy about summoning people after break.) The hilarious part was when my guildmates didn’t understand that I had to be channeling a spell while the mob died in order to get a shard, so they ran around just flat-out killing things, with the whole-hearted intention of helping me out, but before I could get the channel going.

Soon after, in Patch 3.0.3 (Wrath), the Glyph of Souls (minor glyph) was changed to reduce the mana cost instead of the shard requirement of Ritual of Souls (soulwell / cookie jar). Thus started the movement away from requiring shards for spells.”

Whilst Pon only briefly covers the history of Soul Shards before Wrath, this is nonethless a big, detailed post, and the merry-go-round of the Soul Shard is fascinating reading. Whether you want to read about the history of Warlocks, or you’re interested in game design in general, this is a great chance to see an overview of a massively problematic mechanic, and how WoW’s developers have tried, time and time again, to fix it for players.

Heartily recommended if you’re looking for a meaty MMO read today!

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A History Of Blizzcon

The weekend’s fast approaching, and WoW fans everywhere – not to mention Starcraft fans, Diablo fans, and the I’m-sure-there-must-be-some hardcore Titan fans – are either making their final travel preparations, already in the air, or are clearing their schedules for a weekend of serious screen-staring and F5 clicking. (I’ll see you guys on Twitter.)

For me, Blizzcon’s a bit of a wierd thing. I became a hardcore gamer during the E3 / ECTS era – biiiiig trade shows where a company like Blizzard would be just one booth. A big booth, sure, but still, the idea of an entire convention devoted to them is perculiar to me. And it’s amazing how fast the show has grown – as Resto Is Epic shows today, with a history of Blizzcon from 2005 to today

“After skipping 2006, Blizzcon was back in 2007 with around 13,000 people attending it. The major announcements this time around were Starcraft II (complete with playable demos of the Protoss and Terran races, but no Zerg) and the coming of Arthas in the second WoW expansion – The Wrath of the Lich King.

Additionally there were panels to discuss PvP, class changes and balances, various raids/dungeons and a host of other stuff. This time around the swagbags contained starter decks for the WoW TCG, a beta key for Wrath and an ingame murloc suit.”

The best part of this post for me were the costume contest videos from each year, showing just how the standards have gone up and up over the years as WoW fans struggle to outdo each other. But the entire post’s a bit of a trip down memory lane – Kat’s done a great job of collating all the history of past years and serving it up as one digestible parcel.

Go, enjoy, reminisce! And then go back to explaining exactly why there’s no way you can go out to the cinema this weekend…

Looking forward to Blizzcon? Are you going in person, or just watching the feeds?

Article Source: Resto Is Epic . Thanks!

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Two Weekend Snippets

I came across a couple of great posts in the last few days that just didn’t quite make it into the week, so we’re doing one of our rare weekend highlights!

So, if you’re craving a bit of additional MMOness (well, WoWness today), check out these fun posts:

Have a great weekend!

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