Roundup: Thoughts On Problems In The MMO Genre And Rift’s Launch

Rift’s launched. Well, technically it’s launched in the US, and will officially launch here in the EU on Friday. But as Rift’s the new MMO on the market and has been surrounded by a whole lot of buzz thanks to holding several open betas, the blogosphere is alight with speculation on how it’ll square up to other MMOs. The most frequent comparison fodder is of course WoW – most MMO players have secretly wondered when and if something else will come along that’s more successful/better/your criteria of choice here than WoW. Well, maybe one has. Here’s what the blogosphere thinks about Rift right now.

  • Rif: Oh… NOW I get it! – Steve’s spent a chunk of the weekend playing Rift in the ‘headstart’ period available if you pre-ordered a copy. When he was playing in the betas it didn’t really feel like it mattered as advancement was wiped from beta to beta but now… now he’s seen the light. He goes through several aspects from the gameplay to the sound and the graphics. A glowing review, and well worth the read.
  • The levelling Rift – Melmoth’s noticed that all the MMOs seem to have an issue with how fast they’re giving out levels nowadays. He says it’s like devs are too scared to not hand over the cash levels to players ASAP. He realised the problem on coming back from holiday and finding his Rift buddies already well ahead of him in levels. While his concerns apply to most MMOs now, he’s also got some Rift specific concerns about Rift’s end-game content.
  • How Long To Judge The Success Of An MMORPG? – Tobold’s thinking that Rift’s launch is very well timed… but how and when do we look back and decide how successful it’s been, and should those metrics be informed by WoW’s success? Well, he’s got an answer for the ‘when’, but the ‘how’ to judge its success is open to suggsetion.
  • The 3 Month-er – A surprisingly damning post from Keen, saying that most MMOs since WoW’s launch have been developed to hold attention for 3 months and to achieve failure. Keen lists the characteristics of ‘3 month-er’ games and says it’s a bad way of working but seems to be ‘the’ way of working at the moment – though the jury’s out on whether Rift falls into this category.

That’s it out there for now. Have I missed anything, or do you have anything to add about Rift or about the general state of MMOs these days? Let us know! Meantime I’m off to see what all this Rift palava is about… Let’s just hope the server queues aren’t too bad!

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Tips On Levelling a Mage (part 2)

Welcome back to our tips on mage levelling! Hopefully after the last article you’ve been out there frying – or freezing – your character’s mortal enemies. But maybe you, like any good mage, need more knowledge. Let’s face it – knowledge means power, and power means an unstoppable mage levelling towards saving the world.

  1. Restore health and mana regularly. Sounds silly but it’s another “don’t get taken by surprise” moment. It’s inconvenient if you’re low on either health or mana and another player or monster starts fighting you.
  2. Low mana. If you’re out of mana and in combat, don’t panic. Consider using a mixture of utility spells like frost nova and sheep to keep monsters managed and not damaging you. While you’re doing this, use your wand to slowly damage them down (remember to place the ‘shoot’ button from your spellbook on your toolbars). Survival is your priority.
  3. Be aware of your surroundings. Can you stand on a hill and fire at an enemy below you, making them run all the way round to the path before they can get to you? Can you blink or slow fall off the hill when they’re halfway up it so they have to run all the way down again? Can you attack a caster monster then hide round a corner so he can’t see you and will follow you round the corner so you can kill him safely?
  4. Experiment. Pull too many monsters and you’ll probably die. But you don’t always need to kill one at a time either. Experiment with different numbers of monsters at once. Remember that some monsters may be higher level than you or have special abilities. Remember mages have tricks up their sleeve, like the ability to polymorph an extra monster so it can’t hurt you for a bit. Experiment with the abilities you get as you level your mage and find a pace you find comfortable to level.
  5. Get some addons. Getting some mage addons will make mage levelling smoother. I’d suggest …
  • Quartz, customizeable to make castbars easier to see (see point #4)
  • SheepMonitor, which has various ways of telling you when your sheep is no longer a sheep
  • Mage fever, for a little later in levels when you have some procs and cooldowns to keep an eye on.

_Did you find this useful? Maybe you’ll also find the first half of the mage levelling tips useful if you haven’t seen them already! If it’s whetted your appetite for mage-knowledge and you want further reading on mage levelling, just ask in the comments!


_You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we look for the best articles about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you, all in one place. Check out MMO Melting Pot today._

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Mage Levelling Tips (part 1)

So you’re levelling a mage but want some tips on the basics? No worries. We’ve got you covered in a two-part series taking you through ten tips on how to level mages in WoW. The second post even has a further reading section. We’ll have you up and running as the next archmage before you know it.

  1. Organisation. Decide which of the mage talent trees you’re taking. Then lay spells that you will use as part of that talent tree out in casting order in your toolbar. Put the spells you’ll use most in slots 1-5 so you know where to find them in a pinch. As your mage levels you’ll become so accustomed to where your spells are that casting them is automatic. You may get more spells you’ll use frequently, later.
  2. Blink is your friend. It’ll remove stun and snare effects from you. It will also transport you a safe distance from enemies in melee range. Be careful to check the direction you’re blinking (you will move in the direction you’re facing) – you don’t want to blink into extra enemies.
  3. Keep your enemy at maximum range. This is important if you’re questing or in a dungeon because it’s important to minimise the damage you take: the nearer the monster you are, the more things that might go wrong. Some monsters, for example, may do aoe damage to everything near it even if you’re not its target. Frost nova will help enemies stay away while you’re questing.
  4. Recognise healing monsters. Monsters who can cast spells will have a castbar below their picture. Watch it. Over time you’ll start recognising that when the monster casts certain spells their health replenishes. Look out for those spells (and others that sound similar) and when it casts, stop whatever you’re casting and use Counterspell to stop it. This is a useful mage levelling tip for dungeons as well as questing.
  5. Don’t get taken by surprise. If you’re questing to level your mage, watch out for extra monsters wandering close. Watch out for players from the opposite faction who may try to engage in fights with you. Remember that players can fly everywhere now so watch the sky.

_L__ike this? Want more tips on mage levelling? See the second part here. Or if you want more in depth further reading on mage levelling just let me know in the comments!



_You also might find the rest of MMO Melting Pot interesting – we look for the best articles about WoW and other MMOs and deliver them straight to you, all in one place. Check out MMO Melting Pot today._

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85 in 11 hours? Blacksen’s tale

As mentioned yesterday, I’m not a fast leveller. I read quest text. I get lost. My mains are all on PvP realms, so I spend a lot of time running back from the graveyard.

As such, I’ve always been fascinated by those people who go for realm-first style levelling times. I assumed that in order to go for a Realm First, you’d need an entire guild of people supporting you, using every exploit available, having played the beta so much you’d already memorised the entire expansion…

Blacksen’s description of his trip to 85 – in 11 hours – is a bit of an eye-opener.

The total time was 11 hours and 1 minute since experience became active on Zul’jin. Overall, I was really happy with the new zones and leveling experience, and felt that a lot of it was very unique and well done. However, I was disappointed with how short it was. 11 hours to go from 80–>85 just seemed lacking. After hitting 85, I felt like things just ended abruptly. Especially with Uldum being as lacking, I felt like Deepholm was a golden standard that was uncontested but could be beaten.

He did it with 5 people for the first couple of levels, and just questing on his own for the last 3. He didn’t know the zones perfectly, and his group wiped on Blackrock Caverns. Nonetheless, he managed to level fast enough on one of the busiest realms in the world to just miss Realm First 85, and get Realm First 85 Warlock.

The description of how he got there’s fascinating, too – enjoy!

Have you ever tried for a Realm First? Was it easier or harder than you expected?

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Priest With A Cause: Is Levelling Too Fast?

The new levelling game is shiny, fast paced and action packed. There’s so much to do! Well, that’s kind of the problem says Shintar over at Priest With A Cause. She’s noticed a thread on the EU forums in which someone said they were levelling too fast, then 17 pages’ worth of replies pitched in. Some of them even stayed on topic!

Shintar says she was a bit taken aback by this thread. That’s a lot of people commenting on levelling being too fast. It’s got her thinking about how levelling’s changed as WoW’s evolved – she levelled back in Vanilla before all the cuts to xp you needed to level, and says that when those were introduced she wasn’t overly keen on them. Now that’s not something I hear often but can really sympathise with. Now, Shinat points out, the game’s grown into an interseting but awkward place. Suddenly there are a million and one things to do but not enough levels to fit ’em all in to.

I don’t think anybody is pining for the days when you had to be half a Loremaster and run every instance at least once to reach the level cap at all, but this new system doesn’t flow very well either. Blizzard used to encourage people to dabble in different aspects of the game, but right now doing so almost feels like a punishment. When you’re halfway through a zone-wide story arc, you don’t want to see that all the quests have turned grey after you “dared” to run an instance and a battleground.

Shintar’s left this quite open for debate. She does acknowledge the XP turn off/on option but says doing that every time you want to let a zone’s quests catch up with you or don’t want to level in dungeons is clunky, and I agree with her. Though the XP you get from dungeons being nerfed this week might affect the latter – and I suspect Shintar posted before that was announced – it doesn’t affect the quest XP. Nor the fact that the new Battleground level brackets (thanks for this news, Cynwise!) meaning you can probably get a fairer fight – and more XP for your BG – if you PvP when levelling.

Great post from Shintar and while we’re all enjoying the levelling experience I’d really like to hear what you think – is it too fast, are you getting left behind and can’t fit everything in? Or is it fine and there’ll be years to explore everything anyway?

_Quote taken directly from Shintar’s post

You can find Priest With A Cause’s homepage here

You can find Cynwise’s Battlefield Manual’s homepage here_

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Pwnwear: Where To Quest At Level…

Mwah! As Hugh’s post earlier said, I have the lurgie and don’t know whether I’m coming or going. But I reckon a lot of people are equally confuzzled, albeit about a different thing: where to level in the new zones. What’s appropriate for what level? Has X zone downgraded its level requirements or are there monsters of the “they’ll eat your face if you go there now” variety there, these days?

Well, Gravity over at pwnwear is sharing something valuable with us. His post spares no extra words or frilliness: he’s literally just posted up a map of the world which shows level ranges for questing in each zone: it’s a thumbnail in his post, but clicking on it will get you a larger version.

The map’s not just applicable now but is Cataclysm-ready, as it shows the zones your toon can head to from level 1 right through to 85, including the ominous whirlpool in the centre of the world. The map also has a legend showing which are faction specific areas, which are PvP areas and which are 80+ specific zones.

From the little Gravity says this map isn’t his brainchild but someone else’s. He’s just done us the favour of sharing it, which is no small thing given how many times I’m seeing the question “where should I quets?” Hopefully it’ll help you, whether you’re levelling a new toon or just skipping around exploring on your alt – and do spread the word to your friends to help them, too!

Right, off back to bed for me. See you next week, folks. Meanwhile, feel free to let us know if this was just what you needed or what you think of the new zones?

_You can find Pwnwear’s homepage here_

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Acadia’s Gold: Ways To Quick Gold For Lowbie Characters

Gold! We all want it in WoW. And strangely, a lot of us are going to be levelling new or lil’ characters at some point in the not too distant future. Hrmble, some of us might even be doing that already to stop ourselves catching flies in the pre-Cataclysm wait. But how to combine the gold rush and your lowbie characters? Well, Acadia’s got a tip for you. Yes, you. ‘Cos she’s got one for Alliance and one for Horde.

Both of them are very quick tips highlighting something you can only get in your faction. Both of them are things that you can resell for, she says, a tidy profit on your own AH. Or, you know, a minor fortune by selling it to the other faction who can’t get hold of it, via the neutral AH.

If you are frequenting the wow Gold blogs you’ve probably read about selling low level meats in the AH, Buying fishing poles, Coper rods and Other vendor items that have a good markup and can net you a couple gold. These are great little money makers and will help you to slowly build up some gold to work with.

But did you know that there is a…

Both these tips seems like good tidbits for anyone, veteran or new player, to get our lowbie characters a new shiny lining in their purse. You can find the Alliance one linked above; the horde one is here. I actually quite like checking in Acadia fairly regularly as she posts quite a few tips like this one, and another one recently netted me a quick profit too… nice work, Acadia.


What about you – have you found any gold tips you’d like to share with lowbies, or are you keeping them to yourself for fear of market competition?**

_Quote taken directly from Acadia’s horde tip post

You can find Acadia’s Gold’s homepage here_

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Trade Chats: Interview With Big Bear Butt

We’ve been rocking a new feature called Trade Chats for a couple of months now. Okay, so it might not be new persay, being a couple of months old, but each Trade Chat is as new and fresh as the summer’s day Hugh and I spent plotting the feature while on holiday. In our home city. While talking about work projects. Yep, we know how to party.

Turns out… we do. Every Trade Chat so far has seen us talking to an MMO blogger and thoroughly enjoying it, ‘cos they’re all such intelligent and articulate people. Today’s interviewee is no exception. Articulate he certainly is given his posts are almost always long but incredibly entertaining and well written. And intelligent – well. For a bear who’s spent years being hit in the face and writing about it, he’s still on track as one of our most versatile bloggers, giving thoughts both straight forward and salient at once.

So without further ado, here’s our chat with John, the Big Bear Butt Blogger. It’s a little long so is truncated with a “continue reading” button, but keep reading after the cut to hear John’s thoughts on Blizzard’s priorities, playing WoW with his wife and more.

Q: You say you’re looking forward to leveling new toons of classes you already play – for example a new troll bear tank, where you already have an 80 night elf bear tank. But how do you think leveling same-class characters will interact with the experience you already have from your high level characters  – and are you worried that the lower level characters will suffer from the leveling-class imbalance we’re seeing at the moment?

BBB: What I’m looking forward to the most isn’t necessarily the leveling, as much as taking a measured approach to enjoying the new content and opportunities that are coming with the expansion.

With each expansion I’ve gotten a little bit more experienced in how the entire cycle will flow, and now I think I know what I want to get out of the game much better.

When the first expansion was released, I felt the excitement, the rush to level fast and hurry up to see what the end game had in store. Every thing I did I rushed through to get to the next thing to rush through, right? Then of course came that time when I was at max level, I hadn’t really paid attention to all that leveling stuff I’d rushed through, and there wasn’t much new for a non-raider to get involved in. And I wasn’t alone; the forums were awash with cries of “When is the next expansion due? Wait, two years? WTF Blizz, QQ.”

It was certainly a wake up call. I sat at 70 and asked myself, “Why did I do that?”

With Wrath of the Lich King, I was better prepared mentally for taking my time, easing into it, and enjoying all of the twists and turns along the way. Fun like the Wrathgate chain, and exploring the secrets of the mountains in Storm Peaks, and all that stuff.

Even so, at the time my attitude was still that the journey may be delightful, but the true destination is end game, and planning for running instances and raids and other group activity.

With this expansion, I’ve got a much different attitude. I no longer give a damn about end game, or being at max level. Now, for me it really is all about having fun along the way. I’ve made it a point to not read spoilers or look at screenshots from the beta, to keep the Cataclysm as spoiler-free as possible. I know the broad strokes of the story brush, but I want to see the final masterpiece myself without preconceived impressions obtained second hand from failed artists-turned art critics.

I’m planning a lot more carefully, and intend to rotate what I do on which characters a whole lot more. I’m planning on giving the content a chance to last, rather than obsess or race to the finish. New class/race combinations for fun, new alts on different factions, classes I haven’t tried before, and my wife and I have already planned our new leveling team for group play, I’m going to start a new Troll Druid as a Feral Tank while she smashes things in the face with an Orc Enhancement Shaman that can also toss me some heals if necessary.

I fully expect that I’m going to be yelling, “Ding! Level 60 Troll Bear Tank!” right about the same time the majority of 10 man raiding guilds are saying, “What, that’s all the end game 85 content there is? Well, when the heck is the next content patch due? I’m bored!”

Q: You’ve talked quite a bit about how keen you are on the class changes since 4.0.1, particularly for classes you don’t play that much. But are there any classes you think have suffered, or missed out? Anything you just plain don’t like? Why?

BBB: My only real BIG regret is losing Treeform as a permanent form. I’ll never be happy with the removal of Treeform as an always-on healing form.

I see the logic, I certainly understand the reasoning, and I do accept that there are plenty of players that wanted the Treeform changed. But while I know I might be out of line, I think most of the reasons around changing the form are based on game balance and rules changes, or in other terms, cold logic. If I wanted a game of cold, hard logic I’d play tabletop Star Fleet Battles. Or Toon. :)

The Treeform, and the Treeform dance, are things of beauty. I was hoping for an artistic upgrade, a changing of the seasons in the form, and instead I feel we got our hearts ripped out for the sake of adhering to a stat system principle that it is reasonable to think they may scrap and change during the next expansion because they came up with some new gee whiz improvement idea. Next time, no more mana at all! Everyone uses a static Energy system! Or whatever.

Each time they overhaul the stat and rules system, it’s a definite improvement, but it makes it kinda hard to buy into the “We had to do this for the sake of the game, there was really no other choice” argument, when six months down the road it’ll be “Oh, we had to change this back… for the sake of the game.”

I mean, let’s add Armor Penetration… oh wait, let’s remove Armor Pen. But we need weapon skills…. Oh wait, no we don’t.

Things can change all the time, things do change, and I just don’t see why this was one of those changes that just had to be made come hell or high water.

My second regret is that Warlocks didn’t get some demon pet love. I think it’s long past time that male versions of the Succubi be made available as an option. If it’s going to be in the game in the way it is, inappropriate cheesecake should be equal opportunity inappropriate cheesecake. Gamers should have the option to have a demon pet stud muffin if they so choose, why discriminate?

And as long as I’m on the topic… I’d actually like some cheesecake, right about now. With some of that delicious cherry sauce on top? Kthxbai!

Q: You’ve recently mused on the female worgen dance and used it in conjunction with another example to highlight how Blizzard’s priorities seem to be all over the place at the moment. Can you expand on this a bit?

BBB: I personally think that the observed behavior from Blizzard concerning dealing with changes in the game is pretty random.

For myself, my first priority when it comes to the game is, is it stable to play? Game stability is paramount for me. I don’t care how shiny it is or what a wonderful idea you’ve had, if the implementation has caused the game to be unstable, crashing, causing errors or bugs that interrupt game play or make it difficult to simply log in, stay online, complete a quest, obtain a reward, train a profession skill and log out, or run a raid without wiping the team when someone freezes in place or gets a forced disconnect, then there is a problem that needs to be fixed.

A second priority is improving the gameplay experience, and the third for me would be adding new opportunities and content to the experience.

In patch 4.0.1, I again, just my own opinion, feel that the priority list put new content at the top, and stability is hovering somewhere around third, unless it’s so egregious that websites like Yahoo start taking notice and wondering “wtf?”.

As an extra example, purely anecdotal but one of the things that swirls around in my mind when thinking of this, is that within days after Blizzcon, the masterly Red Shirt Guy had been established within the game beta as the “Wildhammer Fact Checker”, with appropriate model, shirt color, everything. Days.

But it’s been weeks since 4.0.1 was pushed live, and quite often if I open a vendor tab like in the Argent Tournament, or if I’m offered quest rewards, the items come up blank. No description, no tooltip, no text. Just icon pictures. It makes leveling without gold or Heirlooms mighty interesting when you have no idea what you’re being offered as rewards, doesn’t it? And Alchemy of course still doesn’t have trainable max level Gem Transmute recipes to learn from the trainer, and there are so many other things besides.

It’s a question of priorities, and it feels to me at least that whatever they’re really worried about right now, improved stability and restored functionality are not as high profile a priority for Blizzard’s developers.

Of course, I’m both sarcastic AND cynical. YMMV. :)

Q: You’ve stopped posting so much about WoW in recent weeks and made it official a week ago: your blog is now your blog and not just about the wisdom you gain from zooming around as a bear. The change is understandable and yours to make but what *do* you intend to be blogging about from now, and how have your readers reacted to the change?

BBB: Well, I did have one reader who commented anonymously that it was about time that I admitted I sucked, who I then ‘outed’ thanks to the wonders of IP tracking history on comments. A protip: if you’ve commented on a WordPress bloggers’ website from the same IP before, and that blogger bothers to search the comment archive for that IP, it will show them ALL the comments left by that IP, no matter what name they were under.

If you’re going to be a nasty little cowardly troll, geez, at least use an IP blocker, hopper, or someone else’s computer, right? You may not have any guts, but at least have a clue. It’s not the first time I’ve personally busted a troll that way, either. I had this idiot named Petal/Doodlebug who used to do the same thing until I publicly outed him in the comments. If you’re going to be nasty, at least be honorable enough to stand by your own words. Maybe not put your real name on them like I do, but at least stick to a consistent alias.

At any rate, for the most part the comments folks have left have been positive and understanding.

What’s interesting to me is that most folks that comment or email me make it clear that they may like my writing and continue to read my blog even though they might not play a Druid or even the game of WoW anymore… but all of them share a similar way of finding me for the first time, and that is by looking for tips for new Druid Tanks.

With my moving away from writing guides, I imagine far fewer folks will find my blog, and the number of folks that continue to read it will dwindle away over time.

Only time will tell, but so long as there are a few folks who continue to take the time to read what I write, and talk to me about what they think, I’ll continue writing. I enjoy meeting nice folks I never would have known otherwise entirely too much.

Q: And reassure us! Even though you’re not writing about WoW as much, are you still enjoying it – and are you playing anything other than WoW?

BBB: I don’t play anything other than WoW. I do write quite a bit, both on the blog and in support of the PBeM game I’m eternally behind on, but when it comes to video games, I’m just not interested. I even stalled out on Starcraft II, and I really LIKE that game.

It’s just that there is always so very much I’m still interested in doing in WoW, it never really gets all that old. I may get amazingly cranky with things like stability and bugs and whatever crack the Developers seem to be smoking on tank balance changes and intentions, but the game itself has yet to bore me. Usually right around the time I start thinking I’m bored and maybe I should move on, I give myself an old fashioned attitude adjustment a la Hank Williams Jr, and realize there are so many other things I have yet to see or do.

And as far as enjoying it… I’m also still loving my Bear. I fully expect that I’ll be posting about and gushing about my Troll Bear Tank / dual specced Moonkin once Cataclysm rolls around. I’ve never, ever specced my Druid as a Moonkin before. It should be very exciting.

Q: You mention your wife Cassie quite often on your blog, in relation to WoW. It sounds like she plays as much as you, if not more. If you (and she!) don’t mind me asking, how do you find gaming as a couple, and do you only play together or do you both enjoy some time to fly solo in game?

BBB: Cassie does play quite a bit, but she’s got a lot less tolerance of video game BS than I do. She straddles that fence between seeing WoW as a great, exciting game to have fun in, and as a monumental waste of time that could be better spent reading a book or watching paint dry. Or raking leaves in the yard. [shudder]

When we play, we both make it a point to have characters we can do our own thing on, other characters we only play together as a team, and then characters we keep available for support of the other’s alts.

Much like other couples we’ve spoken with, we each have characters on both factions that can serve as “Run through tanks” for low level alts, at least up through Hellfire Ramparts and Blood Furnace. So, even if I were to solo a character all alone, when the time comes that I get the quests for an instance, I know Cassie will have someone available to run me through, and vice versa.

Right now, my gushing about my Warrior has inspired Cassie to try one as a Draenei, and she’s reached level 18 as Fury and is loving the experience.

Q: You’ve been a part of the blogosphere for a while – I’d say you’re in that select band of esteemed, reknowned bloggers that ‘everyone knows of and no-one crosses’, if such a thing exists. But we see you moving with and supporting the community – I see you’re supporting Gnomeaggedon in his Movember efforts this year, and you’ve been giving new feral blogs a shout out every now and then. Have you ever thought about building a dedicated community portal around the Big Bear Butt site?

BBB: If there is some kind of band of esteemed bloggers, I don’t rightly know that I’m a part of it. If I am, it’s from pure inertia and longevity. I’m the Energizer Bear, I just keep blogging and blogging and blogging… even when people would really wish that I’d stop.

I appreciate your saying that I support the blogging community, but in truth I really don’t think I do nearly enough, and it digs at me a little.

One thing I wanted to do a long time ago was move to having a “Shout Out Friday”, where every Friday, instead of a post of my own, I’d do a roundup, pointing out some of the great posts from bloggers I had read during the previous week. I really wanted to do it, Cassie thought it was a great idea, I was all set to get started, and then… I was laid off from my previous job, and I took a new position where I’m in charge of a department that runs 247. My life went through a dramatic structural change when it came to how I spent my time.

As a consequence, I’ve found myself having a LOT less time available to look for new blogs and new bloggers, to browse the web, or even to stay current with what’s going on out there. For the most part, I try to follow the folks I know, stay in touch with friends, and follow the links to other new bloggers as my friends find them and share them.

I’ve been blessed with readers that sometimes email me to let me know when they’ve started a blog of their own, whether about Feral Druids or anything else. I also have some very nice folks that leave links to their own blogs when they comment. I always go check out their blogs myself, and often I’ll find something that I love, so I’ll share it on the website.

Basically, I may post links and share shout outs to new blogs or to posts and writers I really like, but I always feel that there was so much more I could have done, and wanted to do, and I just didn’t git ‘er done. I keep hoping that I’ll be able to do it ‘someday’, but until then, if I get a few free moments, I do what I can do without browsing the web or copy/pasting links, and that’s write.

I’ve never considered turning the Big Bear Butt site into a community forum portal. I’m personally too eclectic in my interests to make for a good portal site.

In my opinion, it’s bloggers like Big Red Kitty, World of Matticus or the geniuses behind the Twisted Nether Podcast that are the folks that truly are the heart of the blogging community. They’ve given and shared so much, and worked to give readers an opportunity to really talk together and share ideas and get to know one another, and it’s made WoW blogging a wonderful thing to be a part of.

They are the ones that I consider to be our best and brightest, our shining stewards of what blogging can be, and I’m proud to know them, if not to actually be one of them.

Thank you very much for asking me to take part in this interview. The best part of blogging for me has always been having the chance to meet so many folks out there that share the same interests as I do, and most especially share the same quirky sense of humor, folks that I’d never have met if not for WoW and blogging.

So long as there are great folks to chat with and who for some strange reason read my posts, I’ll undoubtedly still be around in some form or another.

Your turn! Would you have asked John something different? And who would you like to read us chatting to in the future?

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Roxton: What New Zones Can Learn From The Human Starter Zones

Roxton over at Great Balls of Fire is mourning the imminent passing of the human starting zones*. He’s very well aware that the draenei, blood elf and death knight starting zones are all the bees knees, but, he says, the human starting zones just have an extra something.

Roxton’s talking about immersion. The feel of a zone. He analyses the music (in impressive detail), the distinct scenery, the unique colour palettes of the four human starter zones. Roxton says all of this amounts to a handful of zones that promise fresh adventure the moment you step in to them.

The zones are also wonderful in the way in which their physical design is tied into the quests. I will be the first to admit that the standard of the quests in the more recent starting zones are far superior in many ways – new mechanics, new toys, less grinding – but the downside of these shinies is that you often end up feeling as though you were just on trainlines…

In old zones you’re a level 5 and a farmer needs help with a turnip. And while you’re helping those farmers, you’re not being guided by the hand and can explore on your own. More realistic, Roxton says, than being a hero by the time you leave your starting area and are then thrown into the world’s troubles that dwarf your alleged hero-status.

He’s hoping we can have the best of both worlds: epic, non-grindy storylines and vivid, wild zones. What do you think – out with the old already, or hoping the new zones have a particular balance?

_Quote taken directly from Roxton’s post

You can find Great Balls of Fire’s homepage here_

*Beware of very minor spoilers about the worgen starting zone in Roxton’s post, if like me you haven’t read about it already

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Tell us how your spec is doing in 4.01!

So it’s been a week and a bit now since 4.01 dropped on us like a whale from a cargo plane.

And by now we’ve picked up most of the blubber and started landscaping the crater, by which I mean that we’ve got our addons working again and are starting to get a handle on our new class mechanics.

Every hunter in the world: Speak for yourself, mate!

Shut up, you lot. Rogues and kitty druids have been dealing with energy mechanics for years now and do you see them whining? Well, yes, all the time, obviously. But anyway…

We’ve seen a lot of individual posts on how specific classes are faring – but what we’ve not yet seen is an overall roundup of who’s up, who’s down, and whose spreadsheet just became so complicated that all of the Elitist Jerks posters spontaneously combusted.

So we’re going to assemble one, and we need your help!

Let us know in the comments how your characters – levelling and 80 – are playing post-4.01. Let us know if you pwn! Let us know if you nwp. (That’s the reverse of pwning). Let us know how you’re finding the new mechanics against the old content!

Your humble Melting Pot staff will start the ball rolling below.

Tell us – how’s your spec doing post 4.01?

[ Hugh’s written a small book below, but you don’t have to! Let us know how your class is faring in as many or as few words as you like. I’ll be posting later- Rebecca]

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