World of Warcraft Cataclysm Launch Parties Are Go!

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A friend of mine was telling me, over lunch, that Blizzard is hosting Cataclysm launch parties. Apparently the party/event closest to him will have developers on hand to sign retail copies. Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Check out this link for a list of stores and events surrounding the December 7th Cataclysm launch.

Bridging the Gap

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Awhile back I blogged about World of Warcraft’s new Dungeon Finder system and my initial experiences with it. I ended the post with a list of thoughts so far. Today I would like to add to that list in light of continued use of the system (new thoughts in bold).

Pro’s-

  • Instant access to a dungeon party.
  • Easy experience (XP) earned.
  • Feels like you’ve accomplished something within an hour.
  • Instance Teleporting.
  • Meeting random new friends.

Con’s –

  • Your playing with random strangers.
  • Party members dropping out for no reason (not dedicated).
  • Dungeons seem to take about an hour to clear (45 minutes at minimum). Dedicated time is needed.
  • Finding out that the random person you just met and enjoyed playing with is on another server.
  • No penalty is given to party members who suddenly quit.
  • Lower level players are not able to play with higher level players (no scaling/ “Level Sync” system).

The friends that I play World of Warcraft with out-leveled me long ago (currently a 23 level difference and counting). Choking on their leveling dust, I manage to continue on towards that level 80 goal. (One can dream can’t they?) My high level friends occasionally fly down from Northrend and help me quest and run through dungeons — very kind of them I know–.  The other night I partied up with a few of these friends and decided to do a quick dungeon run with the Dungeon Finder. To my horror, I soon found out that the Dungeon Finder would not let me enter the queue due to my friends being too high of a level for the dungeon. What!?!

Bridging the level gap by adding a “Level Sync” system, ala Final Fantasy 11, seems like the next logical step for Blizzard to incorporate into World of Warcraft. Otherwise, for players separated by multiple levels — like me! — the level of frustration and feeling of being left behind makes one want to just give up. So Blizzard, add a scaling feature to the Dungeon Finder and let me play with my comrades in arms! Please?

World of Warcraft Auction House Going Mobile

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Original Post:

Since the launch of the World of Warcraft Armory, we’ve been regularly releasing updates and new features designed to help players stay connected to the game even when they’re not logged in. Today, we wanted to give you a heads-up about a new service now in development that will let players access the Auction House directly through the Armory website or Armory App for iPhone or iPod touch.

While there are still plenty of details to be worked out, we’re designing the service to offer auction functionality similar to what’s available in-game. Players have been requesting — and we’ve been hoping to implement — a feature like this for a long time, and we’re excited that the Armory and the game have evolved to a point that makes it possible.

This is a fairly complex service to develop, due in large part to its unprecedented integration with the game, so we don’t have an exact release date yet. It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based, which we’ll go into more detail on once the service functionality is finalized. As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services. You may be seeing bits and pieces of the Auction House service pop up in the test builds we use for the public test realms as we go through the process of internal testing. We’ll have more info to share with you here and at http://www.WorldofWarcraft.com as we get closer to release. – As originally posted by Blizzard Poster Bornakk.

Thoughts:

As exciting as this announcement is, many details still have yet to be hammered out like:

1. Cost

It’s important to note here that certain elements of the service will be premium-based…

Blizzard seems to be on the pathway towards requiring a monthly subscription fee + additional fees for what is deemed “premium content”. What does premium-based content look like?

  • Tier A – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House as well as in-game chat capability (premium-based monthly fee required).
  • Tier B – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for a one time app fee.
  • Tier C – Players are given mobile access to the Auction House for one character (for free).

There are so many variables involved (access to multiple characters, number of auctions allowed per day, etc.) that speculation seems mute at this point.

2. Release Date

As with all of the services we offer, we plan to integrate the Auction House and Armory in a way that won’t disrupt the gameplay experience, and we won’t release it until it meets the quality standards that we’ve set for our other features and services.

Translation – The Auction House feature is still in the early stages of development. As with all Blizzard products, expect to see it released when we feel it meets our high standards.

Be sure to check back with JohnnyBGamer for the latest in video game news crumbs.

Confessions of an MMO Tourist

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My vacation into the virtual lands of MMO’s began with Asheron’s Call in 1999. Playing with friends in a persistent world had a certain novelty to it. Granted, the release of Diablo II the following year quickly put my stay in Dereth on hold. Not one to limit myself to one game, I “toured” multiple MMO’s up until World of Warcraft’s (WoW) launch in 2004. Multiple MMO’s huh? Take a look at this virtual itinerary:

  • Ultima Online (1 month)
  • Everquest (1 month)
  • Final Fantasy XI (1 month)
  • The Sims Online Beta (a few days)
  • Asheron’s Call 2 (a few months)

The release of Asheron’s Call 2, in 2002, marked the first time I had set up a base camp in an MMO since the original Asheron’s Call in 1999. My stay in AC 2 did not last long, however, the group of friends that I was playing with ended up quitting the game. For the first time in years, I was no longer traversing the virtual landscapes. A whole year would go by before I would once again venture forth.

  • Saga of Ryzom Beta
  • World of Warcraft

In 2004, the perfect storm came together in the form of the Warcraft universe becoming an MMO.

Blizzard + Warcraft + MMO = WIN!

Blizzard games have been a staple of my PC gaming diet for years. Warcraft II, Starcraft, Diablo, and Diablo II were go-to games for me and my friends.

Sidenote: How many of you remember playing the original Diablo with a modem? I remember many late nights, on my Macintosh, spent listening to the pinging/ ponging modem language as I hooked up to battle.net. Good times. Haunting music. No option to run!

World of Warcraft came out the year that I went away to college. The game quickly became a way to communicate/ game with friends three states away. WoW had a darkside, however, one that almost cost me my love in the summer of 2005.

Guild Wars launched the following year (2005). Though technically not an MMO, Guild Wars provided a few alternative to WoW. Unfortunately, the beta period for this game all but killed the game for me (there are only so many times you can create a character, level, and then have it deleted). So I went back to WoW until things came to a head with my real life. Decisions had to be made.

Girlfriend or WoW?

Girlfriend of course! She won.

Girlfriend now wife.

I have played many MMO’s since WoW.

  • Dungeon Runners.
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Warhammer Online
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online

So many hours poured into games I never plan on returning to again. Reminds me of books left half read, tossed under a bed. In the end, I can honestly say that I have enjoyed the different worlds that I have explored. Each has offered a different experience that the game previous could not provide.

2009 marked the year I returned to Azeroth with my wife’s blessing. In playing, I have found that World of Warcraft does not have the same pull it once did. So I left the game once more to try:

  • Maple Story
  • Guild Wars (again!)
  • Lord of the Rings Online (again!)

As you can see, I am an MMO tourist with a passport full of stamps. If 2009 has been any indication as to my less than monogamous gaming habits, 2010 is sure to be a busy year.

(Used as a resource for this article http://biobreak.wordpress.com/mmo-timeline/)

(1/26/16 Update: Reader Kevin Woodberry emailed me and asked that I link to his guide as a further resource. Check it out: Guide to Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games.)

Going Forward, Gaming Forward

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After receiving the prayers and blessings of the local priests and holy men, Tharyn, the elvish warrior, directed his company of soldiers into a long cavernous corridor. In the furthest reaches of that cave lay the fearsome demon-hound, Magmadar. A less-seasoned warrior would easily fall victim to the demon-hound’s mind tricks. He commonly constricted his adversaries with fear and sent them running into a frenzied panic. On this night however, Tharyn would not become Magmadar’s prey but stood defiant as his predator. Really though, this night was not about Magmadar. Tharyn and his guild of fighters were barely prepared to fight when they “accidentally” attacked him (stupid impatient tanks). Some members were still getting home from work, while others were fixing dinner for their families. Really only twenty-some of the recommended forty were present and armed to fight (yours truly the dynamic rogue included), but it didn’t really matter because the fight with Magmadar was trivial content as it had been for the past month. Everyone get your buffs. Everyone to your locations. Tanks in, dps in, backstab backstab backstab, run to your healer, backstab backstab backstab; and so the fight persisted until Magmadar fell and we gotz the uber loot! Very soon everyone else would arrive, and following several hours of mini-boss battles that night’s real conquest would come, Ragnaros.

It’s been 4 years since I braved the caverns of the Molten Core, or anywhere else in the World of Warcraft for that matter, but my first life marches on even while second life is left behind. Occasionally, I find myself pining for the good ol’ days when I fought alongside my Alliance brethren, but for the most part my “serious” gaming days are behind me. No more all night 16player Halo matches (and we were all in the same house. That’s right kiddos! No wimpy Xbox live in the early days!). No more power-leveling another character to level 20 in WoW. No more super smash bros. gaming tournaments. No more weeks spent just going to school and gaming.

Don’t get me wrong, I still game. I indulged in a night full of zombie killing in Left For Dead a month ago (splattering zombie guts all over the wall really helps getting over the girlfriend who suddenly decides she wants to become an ex-girlfriend….ahh coping mechanisms), but now I look forward to playing simpler games like Bloons Tower Defense 4 on my computer or some of the arcade-ish games on the PSN like Super Stardust HD.

I can’t really say for sure what happened. The transformation changed when I arrived at college, and I became a “yo-yo gamer.I guess I suffered from “the grass is always greener” mentality. I owned a Gamecube, Xbox, PS2, and a Mac computer when I went to school. The following summer I sold all my gear (including my classic consoles like NES, SNES, N64, and Genesis) and built myself a sweet gaming pc because obviously if you want to play the really good games you need a PC. Enter the yo-yo effect. My euphoric delusional state lasted all of two months before I yo-yo’d again.

Time to face the music. I’m a console kind of gamer. I like to sit on my couch that has worn out springs. I like to play games on a big screen, and no I don’t count a 24 inch monitor as a big screen. I like the feel of cheap plastic making my palms sweaty after six hours of intense button-mashing. Like I said, I’m a console kind of gamer. Yadda yadda yadda, fast-forward fastforward, and now when you come visit me you’ll find a PS3 in my living room. I love it! It’s been a great machine. I would even classify it as a prized possession, but now I find myself in grad school and I show pride in my PS3 by allowing it to collect dust in the corner. Feel the love buddy.

Now by way of Freudian analysis, I have isolated several key factors that are to blame for this recent gaming abstinence. I have no money. I have no time. I have many new important responsibilities. All truthful and possibly accurate answers, but ultimately, I have no desire. So what will become of my long lost hobby? Is my current state of affairs simply a matter of my circumstances or is there another more subliminal transformation occurring?

What about you? Where does gaming fit into your life now, and how has it changed over the years?