The evolution of WoW NPCs – a retrospective

The humble NPC has been with us a while now in the World of Warcraft world, from Captain Placeholder onward. Initially purely static characters, over the years Blizzard have experimented with a number of techniques to liven their characters up, including ongoing storylines for minor NPCs that evolved with the expansion.

WoW Insider’s Know Your Lore, a column I usually find a little bit too obscure for me, has a great piece up today talking about the “evolution of NPCs”, and in particular, highlighting some of the most notable examples of growing and changing NPCs from WoW Vanilla and TBC

“The saga of Cro Threadstrong Cro Threadstrong has to be one of my favorite NPCs of all time. He’s the leatherworking vendor in Shattrath City, tucked away in his own little stall down in Lower City. But Cro had an issue that players were immediately alerted to after spending any small amount of time in Shattrath. See, Cro had his wonderful stall, but a cart filled with fruit blocked the stall from passersby. Cro, being a reasonable Orc, attempted to solve this issue as any reasonable Orc would: by yelling about it. Repeatedly.

Cro’s cries could be heard all over Shattrath. “Does this fruit vendor not value his life? YOU ARE RUNNING OUT OF TIME, FRUIT VENDOR!!” Players wondered who the heck was yelling and what on earth the problem with the fruit vendor was. Exploring Shattrath soon revealed the location of Cro and his nemesis the Fruit Vendor — a polite, somewhat absent-minded little old lady named, appropriately enough, Granny Smith. Granny didn’t quite know what that Orc was yelling about, nor did she always hear his bellows.”

This is less an examination of the role of NPC in the game, and more a retrospective on some of the great minor storylines in the game. Nonetheless, it’s an excellent read, particularly for people like me who saw much of this stuff in passing, but never got the whole story. Did you know the guy shouting about the fruit vendor in Shatt had an entire storyline that evolved over the TBC patches? Nor did I.

Apparently the series will be continued next week, with Wrath and into Cata. I’ll be interested to see what they highlight – I can’t think of anywhere as lively or memorable as Shatt’s Lower City in the later expansions, but I may be missing something…

Am I being a philistine? Were there great cameo NPCs in WoTLK and Cata too? And do you think that the column missed anything from TBC or Vanilla?

Quote taken directly from Anne Stickney’s column on WoW Insider” .

Find “Know Your Lore” at http://wow.joystiq.com/category/know-your-lore/ .

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World of Warcraft Enchanting: How It’s Changed Since You Last Played

WoW is much more of a part-time hobby for a lot of people these days – more and more, we at the Pot see people unsubscribing for six months, a year or more, then coming back when new content appeals to them.

But if you’re coming back to WoW, particularly after a good while off, or even if you’re just swapping back to a character you haven’t played in a while, it can be a damn confusing place. So, here’s the first of our quick guides to what’s changed in WoW since the Olden Days – starting off with the profession that has probably changed the most, Enchanting.

Here’s our quick-start guide to what you need to know, what has changed since TBC and even Wrath, and what’s just not that important.

Changes To Enchanting In Cataclysm

If you’ve not played in a while, there are some assumptions you might have about Enchanting that aren’t true any more.

  • You don’t need to carry a ton of rods around. These days, rather than all being separate, Enchanting rods are used to “upgrade” to the next level of rod. As a 525 Enchanter, you’ll just need a Runed Elementium Rod to do all your enchanting.
  • You can now sell enchants on the Auction House. Wrath of the Lich King introduced Enchanting Scrolls, which you can use to make your Enchants portable. That allows you to easily sell enchants without having to bark on Trade for ages, and also means that…
  • Enchanting now makes tons of money. It used to be that Disenchanting was the only easy way to make money, but that’s no longer true. Read our guide to popular Cataclysm enchants for tips on easy ways to make gold with Enchanting, if you’re so inclined.
  • Disenchanting isn’t as useful as it used to be. Blizzard introduced “auto-disenchant” in dungeons – if one of your party is an enchanter, everyone gets the option to disenchant loot. That means that the market for disenchanted materials is no longer as hot as it used to be – although you can still make good money.
  • Enchanting’s no longer the only way to augment your gear. Wheras in Vanilla it was Enchant or Nothing, in Cataclysm there’s a dizzying variety of upgrades for gear, from gems through Blacksmithing and Leatherworking items, to reputation-based upgrades. Just because you’re an enchanter doesn’t mean you won’t be hunting the AH for gear enhancements.

Stuff That Stayed The Same

Not everything’s changed – sadly, in some cases.

  • Enchanting’s still expensive to level. Very, very expensive. There are a number of ways to make it cheaper, but it’s still going to cost more than just about any other profession (Jewelcrafting might be worse) to level it to maximum. Your enchanting rods alone will cost thousands of gold, particularly if you buy all the materials from the AH.
  • Tactically, it’s probably better to let someone else be the guild enchanter. Enchanting gives you a couple of nice ring enchants, but isn’t going to have a huge impact on your utility in a raid or dungeon. Then again, neither’s any other profession, and you can make a bunch of gold from Enchanting.
  • Enchants are still vital. Whether you’re an enchanter or not, enchants are still the greatest improvement you can make to your gear, even considering new professions like Jewelcrafting. A single weapon enchant can make a noticable difference to your DPS, healing or survivability, and other enchants are, slot-for-slot, generally more powerful than the gems that can be put in their place.

So is it still worth taking?

Absolutely. As of Cataclysm, Enchanting is still one of the strongest professions – if you want to put the time and effort in, it’ll make you more gold than any other profession bar perhaps Jewelcrafting. Its personal buffs are decent, taking it helps out your guildies in several ways (Disenchant in dungeons and having a pet enchanter), and with the Scroll market, it’s no longer only a profession for people who really, really like talking in Trade.

Get out there and enchant something already!

Anything we’ve forgotten? Let us know below!

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When Team B met WoW

It seems to be the week for retrospectives. Today, Nils is looking at the history of WoW development from the “Team A” days (Vanilla, TBC, and if I recall correctly, up until Ulduar, although Nils says that WoTLK was Team B, and I’m sure he’s done more research!) through to the “Team B” days of WoTLK and Cataclysm.

For those who aren’t aware, WoW was originally developed by one team of developers, who subsequently moved on, prompting the major changes in accountability and style of WoTLK and onward. Nils is looking at what they got right and wrong:

Next to the phenomenal technical and artistic qualities, the central reason for WoW’s success was that all players could always advance their characters by experiencing interesting content. That means that the content the players experienced was at a reasonable challenge level and happened in a pleasant social environment.

Since players are differently motivated, invest different amounts of time and maybe even are differently skilled, the game was flexible.

A player who played less often would experience the content at his own pace. If finishing a raid tier took him a year, then it took him a year. If it took him a month, it took him a month. All he needed to do was to find a compatible raid group or re-join one when he came back. Since raid groups were hard pressed to come up with 40 players and there always was somebody who couldn’t make it that evening, random players would be invited. Part of the server community was built this way. It was how I got to raid the first few times.

Nils definitely has strong opinions on this subject – but it’s an interesting and persuasive analysis nonetheless. And the titbits he mentions from the history of Team B are fascinating all by themselves – for example, did you know that they originally planned to do a “7-chapter epic WotLK expansion”?

What do you think? Did Team B drop the ball? Or is something else going on?

_Quote taken from Nils’ original post.

Find Nils’ homepage at http://nilsmmoblog.blogspot.com/_

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