I don’t know when I first ‘discovered’ WoW Insider. I do know it was somewhere near the beginning of the Wrath beta coverage. I didn’t comment much, if at all, for a long time. I mostly had fun reading articles about how to paladin and inter/intra-guild drama, and couldn’t get enough of Know Your Lore.

It’s been my go-to destination site on the web for more years than I’m happy remembering, supplanting Thottbot as an “alt-tab on a flightpath” choice. WI was, way back then, the reason I was able to come out of my shell enough to join a guild as more than just one of the dudes in the background farming herbs & ore for the “real” players. I became, in my Real Life social circle, the guy who knew what was new in WoW, the person everyone asked ‘what’s coming’ before smartphones put that info at everyone’s fingertips. (I’m just as happy to fade back into the shadows nowadays, honest!)

Later, the Weekly Blog Topics led me to creating this blog… and then with that columns’ lapse, so did my writing. Now we come to another (potential) lapse, that of WoW Insider itself. Nearly-confirmed rumours have spread like wildfire that AOL is going to be shutting down Joystiq and its child/sister sites, including WI.

I honestly don’t know how to process this. I’ve seen blogs that compare it to the ending of a game world, which seems apt. The community built is potentially going to be broken, flung to the winds. Commenters–regulars, drive-bys, Horde, Alliance, even trolls (yes, and Trolls)–have been drawing closer and formalizing friendships as the news spreads. We’ve formed an <of The Queue> guild. Battletags(!) and selfies(!!) are being posted. Twittererers are following and being followed. It’s not the end of *the* world. Just *a* world.

I feel like there’s a mourning process begun before the death has occurred, and that’s jarring. I don’t know what to say, here or in the Queue or on Twitter or …. anywhere. I feel like everything I want to say has been said better by others. Which is okay, because at least the words are out there, right?


Edit: apparently there is an afterlife, to be revealed on Tuesday via Twitter. /squee.🙂

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Community Blog Topic: How To Make Professions Better

Been gone a while. Huh. The Community Blog Topic from WoW Insider (by way of commenter Neuromante) brought me back with a great question this week: how to improve WoW professions so they’re actually useful and interesting again. The Mists Cooking revamp was a step in the right direction: complexity without difficulty. It’s time to push that change to other professions.

First, and not really anything but a UI issue, is change the window so it’s inline with the quest log: side-by-side panes, such as how TradeSkillMaster displays. There’s no good reason to keep professions squished into a tiny little window, not when everything else in the game has expanded for better readability. Maybe for crafting professions, the left pane can show a dressing-room in the bottom half, perhaps by lifting a page from MogIt and show only the item in preview rather than the whole outfit someone’s wearing.

Continue reading

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Community Blog Topic: How long have you been playing WoW?

Quick note: Patch 5.4 dropped just under a month ago… and ate me whole. Will be making more time for real-life stuff.


This week the Community Blog Topic from WoW Insider is “how long have you been playing, and what’s different now from when you started?”

At the same time there’s a post on the official forums asking people what their favorite WoW-related joke is, and one of the more popular contributions is “How do you know if someone’s been playing since Vanilla? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” Which has a considerable amount of truth to it… as that’s when I started playing. My first experience with the game was actually at a work friend’s place at 3 AM after a late shift; he was parked in Booty Bay on a level 42 paladin. He left town on a flight point; while I forget now where he went, wherever it was he landed had a iron ore node nearby. He mined it, showed me how to smelt, and I distinctly remember asking whether, if he could get coal, he could turn the bars into steel? The answer–as you may know–being yes, I was hooked. “If they had that level of detail, just how cool was the rest of it??” went my thinking. I bought the game the next day, installed as soon as I got home, and my 14-day Guest Pass started on September 27, 2006. Aside from a couple days here and there where I was out of town, there hasn’t been a day since where I didn’t log in at least long enough to check my auctions. My /played on my main is 327 days; across all my toons it’s 417 days.

I still work for the company I did when I started, though these days it’s in a completely different capacity. Most of the people I worked with who played as well when I started have moved on. One lives in North Carolina. One lived with him for a while and moved back to start playing again. Another is happier playing Final Fantasy 14 and Guild Wars 2 these days. I now have three children; the middle one was only a few months old and the youngest was still just a twinkle when I bought the game. Now our oldest has a level 80-something paladin and druid, the middle one just likes rolling orcs and making fun of them, and my youngest will watch over our shoulders and cheer. My partner let herself get talked into starting a toon “for something to do with me”… these days she’s progression raiding with an amazing guild (9/14 SoO), while I sit in the background waving a little ‘go team!’ flag.

In some ways, nothing’s changed–I’m still an extreme introvert who’d rather see text on a page than clouds in the sky, for example–and in other ways, everything has.

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Community Blog Topic: Should every class have a fourth spec?

WoW Insider’s Robin Torres asks ‘should each class go the druid route and gain a fourth spec’ in this week’s Community Blog Topic. Aside from what I imagine would be a whole new nightmare to balance, I think it would be a great addition. If nothing else, it would give new players that many more options both while leveling and at endgame, and would offer veteran players a new view of classes they’ve known for a while, a reason to revisit toons they weren’t able to get a handle on playing (I’m just no good with a priest, for example), and maybe a reason to revisit both toons and content they might have gotten burnt out on.

There are a couple ways this could be gone about. Blizzard could go through and create a spec for everyone specifically for PvP, although to do so they’d have to not just contend with creating dps/heal specs all in one talent build (similar to the old druid Feral bearcat branch) but also with the fallout from the PvP community when it was announced that, say, Frost was no longer a PvP choice for mages and they were going to be forced into Fire. Continue reading

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Community Blog Topic: Who needs more lore?

This week’s Community Blog Topic from WoW Insider is “Which faction’s story would you like to see more of?”

Short answer: Draenei and Gnomes. Long answer: Everyone but Worgen, Trolls, and arguably Orcs.

Blog post answer: The Gilneans’ story has been told out pretty well in-game, even if you don’t get all of it just by playing a new Worgen. Roll a Horde toon and quest through Silverpine to get the ‘what happens next’ (and then of course quest on into Hillsbrad for the “Welcome to the Machine” questchain–not to be missed!) Trolls, meanwhile, aside from the Darkspear tribe, have had their lore spelled out in near-infinite detail. The Orcs, well, they go all the way back to Orcs v. Humans and umpteen-hundreds of books have been written expanding on their society, their battles, their feelings when someone spills a beer… *ahem*.

Everyone else, however, needs more (preferably in-game) lore. Random Dwarf Hermit Questgiver #3361 out in the Hinterlands has more storyline in his little finger than ninety-nine percent of anyone in any capitol city. I’d love to see more of a population in the cities themselves to begin with, but the people who are there, who are placed specifically to provide “flavor” beyond just “welcome to Darnassus, motel’s there, shop is there, the gates close at sundown”, have no interaction with the player. Only a handful give quests; fewer still have gossip chats. This is a key location for Blizzard to create immersion. Instead our capitol cities are ghost towns, while settlements with three buildings–if they’re lucky–are major quest hubs.

But, in general, my vote lies with:Draenei story stops with the achievement of the Tabard of the Hand. Oh, there’s Outland, but for the most part Outland is concerned with the Orcs who used to live there, those who still do, and the Blood Elves.

Gnomes are in similar position. They’re poised to finally reclaim Gnomeregan once and for all, they’ve developed ways to heal irradiated gnomes still lost… and yet they sit and wait. For what?!

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Community Blog Topic: Favorite (playable-) faction leader

This week, Robin Torres of WoWInsider asked the community who our favorite playable faction leader is. Not something I’ve really put a lot of thought into, honestly, but considering the question now I’d say… it varies.

I like Varian Wrynn, most of the time. I’m impressed with the way he greeted my death knight and panda monk to the Alliance. He handled the encounter on the ICC ramparts with Saurfang pretty well, I thought, even if Jaina did ruin the moment. And then I remember the fifteen-foot-tall statue he had built of himself. (And the way Blizzard rewrote history so that he got credit for my kill of Onyxia. Grr.)

There’s Cairne Bloodhoof (RIP). Always thought he was a pretty chill dude, I bet he’d have been fun to visit a sports bar with. Guy gets a lot of respect for managing to keep the Tauren going in the face of them bloodthirsty centaur tribes. And then Megatha tricked Garrosh and it was all Lion King over again. Sort of.

Does Anduin Wrynn count as a leader? ‘Cause that kid’s got [censored] of steel, man. Sure, I’m not a big fan of the way he looked at me like we’d never met before when I found him in the Jade Forest (I mean, come on! I only helped you expose the Twilight’s Hammer in Stormwind, you can’t even say ‘how ya been’ for old times’ sake?) But to face Garrosh like that, at .. what is he now, 15? 16? There’s grown men who get one look at the bones over the shoulders and faint in hopes the big orc’ll think they’re dead. This kid? Intercepts Garrosh’s plans at every turn and even goes toe-to-toe with him. Nearly gets killed over it, but still.

There’s others I like… but then, if I list everyone, I’ll basically be listing them all except Sylvanas (and while I may not like her, I do like the way they’re sticking by their guns in writing her).

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Community Blog Topic: WoW In-game Store

Robin Torres over at WoWInsider asked the community what we’d like to see in the recently-announced in-game cash shop(pe). My knee-jerk, gut reaction is… nothing. I don’t think it’s a good idea overall and I suspect it’ll lead to things that long-time players have been doomsaying over for years, such as

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