Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Make Love Not Warcraft - The DVD

You remember Make Love, Not Warcraft, right? Well now you can own it on DVD via the South Park Season 10 DVD, which includes a 14 day World of Warcraft Trial.

Target's Special Version:
I was at Target and noticed they have two versions:

Their special version has Lenticular packaging and a free episode of the Sarah Silverman show. You are also eligible for a $5 gift card at check out.

This pic shows the alternate image on the special packaging:

For more coverage of the South Park and WoW - WoW Insider has a good collection of posts tagged "South Park."

From Amazon:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Burning Crusade Flash Mini Site

Bored? Feel like a game of "memory," WoW style?

In the category of old news, I'd like to mention The Burning Crusade Flash Mini-Site. I was trolling around for information on the next expansion and saw this link from the last one, but somehow had never visited it.

Once you're past the intro video, you can navigate to different areas of the site (there's 5) using the orbs in the lower right hand corner. Each section gives you an overview of what the Burning Crusade Expansion offered ... but the interesting thing is that there are tiny little quest givers in each section:

For a quick diversion, click on each NPC you find and complete the puzzles (a simple game, different for each section, each one takes less than a minute).

Your reward for completing all five? A few wallpapers and the ability to play the theme music from Silvermoon. Not a big deal, but a fun way to spend five minutes if you're ever waiting for maintenance time to run out.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Lich King and the Alpha Map

Last week I posted pictures of each of the world maps showing the changes with each expansion. (By the way, the source for the Wrath of the Lich King Map is the Artwork on the Official Expansion Website.)

Then keen eyes at WoWInsider noticed changes to the continents. (Check out their post to see the outlined comparison.) Next, a few other sites around the world picked up the link and little ol' CasualWoW was visited by thousands of readers who wanted to see the map comparison.

But some astute responses to those links recognized that the differences resembled the old Alpha Map of WoW. (Examples in the Insider comments.)

So, let's see how those maps compare (please ignore the color change in the Burning Crusade iteration, that's due to my system):

The Eastern Kingdoms:


The end result indicates that those readers were right. The Wrath of the Lich King map is a modification of the Alpha map and not the Burning Crusade map. (I would particularly note the penciled in mountain ridges.)

So is it just the result of sloppy map making... the old copy/paste mistake? Or could it actually be insight into future content? I think it's a both. Here's why:

It's a mistake:
  • I haven't read a single Wrath of the Lich King Preview that mentions any new areas except within Northrend.
  • If it's related to new content, all the edits should be adds. However, there are two Kalimdor bumps that are missing (~Silithus & ~Stonetalon areas).
  • One commenter on the WoW Insider post identified the two islands by Stranglethorn Vale as joke islands - one named "Gillijim's Isle."
  • Blizzard does not give a lot of attention to keeping maps up to date.
    Even today if you visit the official World of Warcraft website to see map information you'll see the old map.

  • And I mean the old old map. It's the Alpha Map the commenters pointed out in the WoW Insider post comments.... still on the official website. Take a look:

    Similarly, 7 months after the release of the Burning Crusade expansion, the official flash map site still says, "This map hasn't been updated for the Burning Crusade. We hope to update it soon."
    So I feel confident in saying that keeping-up-to-date-maps has not been a Blizzard priority.

    "Hey, intern-in-charge-of-map-making..."
    "Yes, sir, Mr. senior Blizzard employee?"
    "After you make the Lich King map just go ahead and load that baby onto the website."
    "Don't you want to check it first? I mean it's the same map they're going to use at Blizzcon?"
    "No, no, young intern, I'm sure it's fine as long as it has the new areas from the Burning Crusade and the Lich King expansions. No quality checking needed. If anybody has a problem, we'll just call it an 'artist's rendition.'"

    Copy/Paste issue aside, it may still relate to unreleased content:
    ... just much later than Lich King.

    If this were Lich King content the conversation would have gone like this:

    "Hey intern-in-charge-of-map-making..."
    "Yes, sir, Mr. senior Blizzard employee?"
    "When you make the Lich King map, save yourself some time by updating the Alpha map instead of the Burning Crusade map. Then you won't have to add back in all those pesky new islands and shorelines, which we totally intend on releasing on or before the Lich King expansion."

    Unlikely, but some of those Alpha Map features do look like they're part of the lore, particularly the islands.

    Blizzplanet discusses the Islands on the map using information they learned from Warcraft Role Playing books like Warcraft Lands Of Mystery.

    Another BlizzPlanet post has a screencaptured map from the behind the scenes DVD:

    The World of Warcraft Collector's Edition Behind the Scenes DVD shows within the Art and Design section, a series of slideshows while the Developers talked about their work.

    And in one screen shot?.... a map. Check out their post to see it. Note - There are significant areas in their map (aka Undermine) that will likely show up in much later expansions. However, you do see some less significant areas, such as the small islands off of Stranglethorn Vale that might show up in future content, as Northrend apparently will.

    For a map that shows these smaller islands in more detail check out wowwiki's South Seas map; just make sure you compare it to the the map of the joke islands.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2007

    Machinima Guides

    I've been visiting the home websites of some of my favorite World of Warcraft movie makers and found a surprising number of hints, tips and guides. I've collected a few here:

    Some Epic Inspiration:

    And for Ambiance:

    Update 9/8/2007:
  • WoWInsider's Machinima 101: The basics
  • Blizzard's Letter to the Machinimators of the World of Warcraft
    Source: (the blog for the book of the same name) via wowinsider

  • Update 9/1/2008:
  • WoWInsider's WoW Machinima: The basics
  • Sunday, August 12, 2007

    I'll Give You Every Reason to Quit World of Warcraft

    If/when you decide to cancel your World of Warcraft subscription you'll be given the opportunity to tell Blizzard why.

    First - You'll be asked the general category:

    Then, based on your answer at the first level - they'll ask you to be more specific. These were the options given when I cancelled my subscription last month. They are listed here in the same order they appeared then.

    General Category - Content:

    • PVP - Not enough content
    • Players level too slow
    • Difficulty - Too easy
    • Tired of game/game is boring
    • Not enough single player content
    • Difficulty - Too hard
    • Economy - Broken or not handled correctly
    • Game is too crowded/too many people
    • Not enough high end content
    • The Alliance is not developed
    • Not enough role-playing content
    • Not enough item diversity
    • It takes too long to travel
    • Not enough group content
    • Not enough creatures to kill
    • Players level too quickly
    • Not enough raid content
    • Not enough quests
    • The Horde is not developed
    • Professions - Unhappy with implementation
    • PVP - Insufficient rewards
    • Not enough character customization
    • Not enough spells/class
    • Unexpected Genre

    General Category - Expansion:
    • Class Change - Warlock
    • Class Change - Warrior
    • Shaman/Paladin faction update
    • Class Change - Druid
    • Unable to access content without purchase
    • Class Change - Hunter
    • PVP - Diminished item value
    • PVP - Ranking changes
    • Class Change - Priest
    • Class Change - Mage
    • Class Change - Shaman
    • Class Change - Paladin
    • PVP - Arena system
    • 25 Player raid cap

    General Category - Harassment:
    • Botters
    • Unsolicited Gold Selling Messages
    • Verbal harassment
    • Creature Training/Kiting
    • Creature Stealing/Killing
    • Conflict with player/guild
    • Corpse Camping

    General Category - Other Game: (A truncated list is shown here)
    • Ultima Online
    • Guild Wars
    • Vanguard
    • Everquest
    • Warhammer Online
    • Other game not listed
    • Lineage2
    • Dungeons & Dragons Online
    • Elder Scrolls: Oblivion
    • Star Wars Galaxies
    • Neverwinter Nights 2

    General Category - Patch:
    • Patch 2.1.0 - Engineering Changes
    • Patch 2.1.0 - Alchemy Changes
    • Patch 2.0.10 - Druid Changes

    General Category - Payment:
    • Too expensive
    • Unable to access account
    • I want to use game cards
    • I no longer need a 2nd account
    • Subscription plan unavailable
    • Payment method unavailable
    • Pay as you go plan unavailable

    General Category - Poor Support:
    • Issues with Community Team
    • Lost experience, item(s), money, quest(s) progression
    • Disagree with Terms of Use/License Agreement
    • Issues with Technical Support
    • Issues with Game Master Department
    • Issues with Billing Department
    • Issues with Account Administration
    • Support method unavailable

    General Category - Technical:
    • Frequent disconnects
    • Slow or Choppy game play
    • Weekly Maintenance unacceptable
    • Constant Patching Errors
    • Blizzard Downloader
    • Installation Problems
    • No Computer
    • No Internet Access/Dialup Internet Access
    • Connection Problems (cannot connect at all)
    • Server issues make the game unplayable
    • Constant Game Crashes and other errors
    • My Computer does not meet the minimum requirements

    General Category - Transfer:
    • Unable to circumvent cooldown
    • Realm transfer unavailable due to realm restrictions
    • Service is too expensive
    • Missed free transfer window
    • Account transfer unavailable due to differing names
    • Unsatisfied with destination realm
    • Transfer was unsuccessful

    General Category - Other:
    • Moving
    • Personal Reasons
    • Offline play not available
    • Military Deployment
    • Language version unavailable
    • I don't have enough time to play anymore
    • School
    • I play too much
    • Vacation
    • All of my friends quit playing
    • Parental Control

    Now, I know Blizzard provides Statistics of Items and Beasts, but frankly, if I could see any set of data, it would be an aggregate of the Exit stats.

    Either way, perhaps knowledge that we all get an opportunity to voice our opinion on the way out the door (however too-late that might be) will minimize all those "good bye cruel world" posts that I hear litter the forums.

    Although there's something to be said for a little catharsis:

    I Quit (28 seconds)

    Video found via WoW Insider.

    Saturday, August 11, 2007

    The WoW Human Test

    So how does a Dranei pass "the human test?"

    You know the Human test - you're posting a comment to a blog ... maybe even this blog... but you're faced with a captcha which looks something like this:

    The purpose of the captcha is to make sure that when you comment on a blog you're not a spam-bot program but instead a living, breathing humanoid (or in the case of the Undead - previously living and breathing). You have to type in whatever letters and/or numbers are skewed in the little picture or else it determines you're a program devoid of eyes with which to see the swirly word maelstrom.

    By the way, according to these programs I've been identified as an electronic bot only slightly less often then Google has determined I should cut back on the caffeine to improve my typing:

    Moving on...

    Mystic Chicanery, however, has de-biased the "human" test in their blog.

    Now, every WoW Race from Booty Bay to the Undercity has a shot at passing the test without having to worry about the need to keep up on "human" culture.

    Some examples: (You would just have to do one, the others are for example only.)

    There remains, however, the need for those pesky eyes... although a number of Elves seem to be making do with just some glowy sockets...

    Anyway, bravo to Mystic Chicanery.
    I hope you don't mind I was in your blog, screen-shotting your security words.

    Friday, August 10, 2007

    Looking for Group

    I've been going through the ol' blogroll recently, cleaning up a little, and looking for new blogs to add...

    In doing so, I found a great video highlighted in a post at Mystic Chicanery.

    Please note, that the video below is NSFKids who might be sensitive to playful decapitation, face melting and puppy kicking. I'm not really kidding.

    Seriously, I don't have kids, but I see them on TV. Parents should preview this before they share with the wee ones.

    Looking For Group: Slaughter Your World: 4:09

    For more about Looking for Group, consider these links:

    I'd love to see a greater selection of t-shirts in their store. The Wallpapers and Avatars are great, and I would so buy something like that on a (women's) t-shirt.

    p.s. If you can't remember where you've heard that song from the video before... it's a parody of this.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    The River of Slurm

    We can tell ourselves all we want that the canals in the Undercity are filled with Ectoplasm or some such... but deep in our hearts we know what it really is...

    It's Slurm...

    You think I'm kidding, but go check out the Apothecarium to see the Slurm Queen yourself, hanging out around Ganoosh:

    The Untold Story: Fry and the Slurm Factory

    Wednesday, August 08, 2007

    Video: New from Spiffworld and Coulton: Engineering

    Brand new vid, with a hint of Engineering:
    Future Soon: 4:17

    And I don't think I posted this one before:
    I Feel Fantastic: 3:28


    Tuesday, August 07, 2007

    Proposed Vendor Changes from Blizzcon

    I do not like it, Sam I am,
    I do not like this new Vendor Plan...

    The Proposed Change:
    In a quote at IGN:

    Another will be made to items available from vendors, helping add to the overall game. Blizzard doesn't really enjoy the current system in place, where players can buy a batch of items and wait for the respawn to occur at a predetermined time and buy some more. What they're aiming to do is tweak things to where blue and purple recipes show up with a given vendor to add a surprise when the given item pops up. This is system is shooting to be totally random, so players cant really hang around the vendor or show up at a given time to buy a recipe, making it that much more difficult to camp and be the first to buy the item, but it's sounding like that there's a lot of potential for players to turn these rare items into a monopoly on the auction house, so we'll have to wait and see how Blizzard pulls this initiative off.

    From WoW Insider's Professions and Items Live Blog:

    Vendors: camping vendors for limited quantity items isn't fun. We're not going to really do that anymore.
    Vendors are going to have this new awesome list of loot: blue loot, purple loot -- it will show up rarely but it is shared across all of them. So when you go to a vendor, there could just be some awesome item on there, just waiting to be bought.
    It will be random enough so that you won't be able to guess. (applause)

    The Vendor Game:
    So why don't I like this change? For reasons such as these Commercial Breaks:

    (* That joke still cracks me up.)

    You see, I enjoyed conquering this part of the game through a different kind of skill: research. I would find special NPCs through something like Thottbot like this:

    Select a Zone then click to find the "Vendors:"

    Then one by one, check out each vendor to see if he/she had a "limited supply" of a good recipe and then, if it was a vendor I could get to safely (Frost Oil was always a pain), buy it for self or for resale:

    There was already a certain degree of randomness to it because of the respawn time. (i.e. Once something with a limited supply ran out, you had to wait for it to respawn which could be hours or days, I never knew. The comments on Thottbot are filled with players who felt cheated when they got to the vendor and found he's out of stock.)

    This Player's Experience:
    I had a good time with this mini-game. Yes, I sold either the recipe or its progeny for a reasonable profit - that was the fun. I never really ran into players' camping a vendor, but then I wasn't really after much of the really hard to get stuff. So perhaps my experience wasn't representative. But I will still mourn a bit for this fond little part of the game if/when it goes.

    Note to self - Next MMO - find a game where I can participate more in the economy.

    Related Posts:

    Sunday, August 05, 2007

    Inscription Quote Compilation

    Note - For the more recent October 2008 Inscription post click here. Otherwise - the rest of this post will tell you what we knew about Inscription BEFORE it was released.

    The following are a collection of quotes I've been able to collect regarding the new World of Warcraft Inscription Profession:

    From the Expansion Press Release:

    "Inscription" Profession: Learn this exciting new profession and gain unique ways to permanently enhance spells and abilities in the game.

    From the Expansion FAQ:

    What can you reveal about the new profession coming with the expansion?
    The Inscription profession will allow players to permanently enhance their own spells and abilities and those of other players. You can think of it as enchanting for your spells and abilities. We'll provide more specific details on the mechanics of this new profession in the months ahead.

    From the WoW Insider Liveblogging Post on Professions and Items:

    Q: Will Inscriptions be like enchanting or have items for Ah? same with dying armor?
    A: No plans to dying armor. Inscriptions will be items.

    Q. Inscription system -- will switching to it mean having to do noob things to level up?
    A: Inscription - haven't determined how it will work out. Been brainstorming how to make all professions easier to switch to for higher levels.

    From the WoW Insider Liveblogging Post on The Wrath of the Lich King Demo:

    Inscription example: modify existing spells and abilities. Fireball, for instance, can inscribe it to perhaps have knockback or further damage.

    From Kotaku's "More Details" Article:

    Wrath of the Lich King will introduce a new profession called Inscription that will let players customize individual spells and abilities in their spell book -- to change the cooldown timer on a Fireball, for example, or alter the crit rate of a healing spell.

    Update 8/7/07:
    With the announcement of the Inscription profession, there's still a lot of information left to be conveyed, so Blizzard shared a few tidbits with the audience. This new profession will allow for people to imbue a characters spells and abilities with an extra zing, almost acting as a single talent point for each of your abilities. Whether it's sinister strike, multishot or a frostbolt, you'll be able to tweak every last ability. Inscribers will also have a new ability that hasn't really been talked about before, allowing them to create completely new items. Though the panelists couldn't talk about it just yet, there will be a whole other side to inscription rather than just altering your spells and abilities. When it comes to inscribing abilities for other people, the inscriptions themselves will be scroll based, so players can put up an inscription scroll on the auction house, allowing others to buy and upgrade their arsenal at their leisure.

    Update 9/28/07:
    From: Page 3 of Games for Windows Wrath of the Lich King Article

    New Profession: Inscription
    Burning Crusade introduced Jewelcrafting, which allowed players to customize their gear; Wrath's new profession, Inscription, lets you customize the abilities and skills in your spellbook. "You're permanently changing your spell kit," says lead game designer Tom Chilton. "You might find a couple different recipes to inscribe your Fireball with increased crit chance, or increased damage, or faster cast time, or lower mana cost -- so it's almost like a talent system within the profession system. Only it's more based around choices you make for an individual spell rather than affecting your character as a whole." Unlike Enchanters, Inscribers will be able to sell physical product (creating tradeable "scrolls," for example, from ink, paper, and other reagents). Only a handful of core spells will be customizable in this fashion. Don't expect to extend the range of your Priest's Mind Vision; do expect to extend the duration of your Hunter's Freezing Trap.

    Update 12/25/2007:
    From WoWBlues - A response like many when forum posters ask for more information on inscription

    I know a lot of people are looking forward to hearing about this new profession, but we have no details to share right now. Building a whole profession from the group up takes a lot of work, especially so since this affects players' spells. A lot of changes and updates would need to occur for us to get it where we want it so until we have reached a point like that, we don't have anything else beyond the small amount of information we've shared so far.

    Please continue to be patient and we will discuss information on this when they are ready.

    Update 2/8/2008:
    From WoWInsider

    "The idea behind it is to give players even more specialisation options beyond the talent trees," explains Kaplan in a manner that would bamboozle the WOW-phobic to death." As a possible example, a mage could have their Frost Nova enhanced for either greater range or longer snare duration - our intention is to provide viable options rather than one 'best' Inscription for each modifiable spell or ability."

    Keep these links in mind for future updated information:

  • WoWInsider's Posts labeled "Inscription"
  • The Official Wrath of the Lich King Home Page
  • Check out what Blue Posts in the forum use the word "inscription" at WoWBlues
  • Saturday, August 04, 2007

    Northrend "Easter" Egg

    Personally I think Blizzard wanted us to find this little homage because the Artwork Page led me right to it.

    Given the artwork of the Walrus creature and the Moai-like Statues they really led us to this mental image:

    Then all it took was one jump to the Wikipedia Page on the Moai Statues to see this resemblance in the shape of the new continent in the Wrath of the Lich King Map to The Island of Rapa Nui, aka "Easter Island."

    How Could I Not

    Given the Lich King artwork included This Snowy Landscape...
    ... and quotes like:

    Our goal is to not have an entire expansion that takes place in the snow.
    Source: WoWInsider

    ... how could I not do this kind of Photoshopping:

    'Cause darnit, I would play on Hoth!

    Friday, August 03, 2007

    Wrath of the Lich King Resources

    Today at Blizzcon, Blizzard announced the Next World of Warcraft Expansion: "The Wrath of the Lich King."

    The 10 second lowdown is as follows:

    • No Release Date or Pricing Set
    • No New Races
    • Level Cap will be 80
    • New Death Knight Hero Class
    • New "Inscription" Profession
    • New Northrend Continent

    A little more info via an excerpt from Blizzard's Press Release:
    • Death Knight Hero Class: Create a high-level Death Knight character -- the game's first hero class -- once certain challenges have been met.
    • Increased Level Cap: Advance to level 80 and gain potent new talents and abilities along the way.
    • Northrend: Explore the harsh new continent of Northrend, packed with new zones, quests, dungeons, monsters, and items -- and do battle with the undead armies of the Lich King.
    • "Inscription" Profession: Learn this exciting new profession and gain unique ways to permanently enhance spells and abilities in the game.
    • Siege Weapons and Destructible Buildings: Take the battle to another level with new player-vs.-player game mechanics and new battlefields to wage war on.
    • New Character Customization: Change how characters look and express themselves, with different hairstyles and dance animations.

    For more information you may want to visit the following links:
  • Official Wrath of the Lich King Website including the FAQ (some parts under construction)
  • WoWInsider's Wrath of the Lich King Posts (continuously being updated)
  • Very Nice Bulleted Summary from MMO-Champion
  • WoWWiki's Expansion Page
  • World of Warcraft Maps

    The Original World of Warcraft Map:

    The World of Warcraft Map after the Burning Crusade Expansion:

    The World of Warcraft Map after the Wrath of the Lich King Expansion:

    Wednesday, August 01, 2007

    New Banners

    I've been updating the home page for the blog from the old-Blogger's "Template" to the new-Blogger's "Layout" mode. The end result should look very similar, maybe a little cleaner. I've been trying out some new banners, here are a few:

    My favorite so far:

    Runner Ups:

    Also Rans:

    And just a little too disturbing:

    Oh, and uh, yeah, well... I may be trying out some Google Adsense on the home page, which may, or may not, advertise some gold sellers, so uh, yeah, I'm possibly a little selling out, or not, depending on if there are clicks involved; I'm just saying...