3.2 Million Subscribers Lighter – Why MoP is STILL the Best Expansion!

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This is prompted by the quarterly results Blizzard publish regularly, and some of it may be less then precise. I apologize if this piece is based too much on opinion, but I feel there is a compelling argument to be made and relish a chance to lay my mind out on the paper. I hope you can follow along and enjoy!

This week, it was released that with Quarter twos departure, so went another 800k subscribers. This leaves World of Warcraft at 6.8 Million subscribers, despite starting MoP with 10million.

It is no real surprise that these 800k exoduses have happened, so let’s start there and build the case as we go.

You can see this as evidence all around the “fan” sites that are popular. So many people fail to see a reason to play MoP when there is no new content planned. Among them, there are likely many people who very much enjoy World of Warcraft, and are simply burned out doing Siege of Orgrimmar for week 1024. Those people, I wouldn’t blame, although I am sorry to hear where these cases end up effecting your love of the game more then they should.

Regardless, among these 800k people is a very definitive type of person. These people manage to keep themselves just informed enough to be grossly misinformed. These people manage to play the game vigorously, but do nothing within it. These people manage to critique the game’s difficulty and interest level, yet have 4 digit achievement points. These people… are the majority that play WoW now.

jadeforest4As mentioned, the perfect microcosm as to why 3.2 million people unsubscribed from an expansion that brought you Brawler’s Guild, Connected Realms, Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds, brand new PVE end game ideas (eg timeless isle,) an entirely new type of group content (eg scenario,) the list can go on for the rest of this article. Point is, MoP has featured more content added to the game then the rest of the expansions have put in combined, yet people still make these hollow comments about the game and its direction.

Realistically, it may feel like too little, too late. Hopefully, most people don’t see these patch notes and list of features and think they are bad. Hopefully they just can’t find the interest to try them all, and don’t have that enchanted spark any more.

But for as many people that quit that have made their claims public, there is always that group harping on things they feel that should be added that already have been.

Now why this mentality has developed is another issue all together. It was around Cataclysm that I first ran into it, but I doubt it started there. That’s just when “popular” faces added their names to the lot. I’m not going to be naming names, but in my mind I can name a huge contributor of it, and realize immediate that him and so many others fall into this same pool. Asking for challenge when they are dead on the floor. Asking for more content when they aren’t even max level. Claiming the game has changed negatively when they haven’t even tried any of the new content.

All it takes is one influential voice to plant this dastardly seed. And boy are its roots deep by now.

Unfortunately, this is the landscape we reside in. The best route around it is to ignore it. I am not this passive though. I fancy myself a crusader of sorts, playing an active role in stirring the pot to help those people unwind their foolish arguments and expose them to be the weak, ill-conceived notions that they are. Very rarely do I expect to obtain anything positive, but so many people follow the mass notion blindly, that when they receive resistance, they quickly fluster and backtrack.

Thinking linearly on this matter should be quite revealing, especially when you can trace a source. Thinking rationally should do even more, especially when you understand where I am coming from.

So here we are, back at the start. In an era that featured these types of changes we find ourselves behind the 8ball, trying to discern what happened and sift through the rubble. In reality, the rubble is all there is and ever was. It was never concrete, and no one ever appreciated order. People love sporadic, and they love spontaneous, and as soon as the opposite notion gets twisted into their conscious, they immediately believe their happiness to be over.

Knowing this, let’s conclude precisely on why this expansion lost so many players, and gained something that could never be surpassed.

dark-animusFor a start, when this many people quit especially when the expansion has been so thorough, you know that a LOT of casuals have been among them. I’m not talking about people who don’t raid. I’m talking about people who do NOTHING. They do nothing in the game, and still have a sour taste in their mouth. Whether they left with regret or hatred, it is best for them to go. It hurts Blizzard’s pocket no doubt, but they are not contributing to the game. If those people ever come back, it proves they didn’t leave for the right reasons anyway. If it were up to me, I would want to expose them for the ungrateful saps they are and do everything I could to remove them actively.

This has been noticeable over the years, and has been talked about many times, and is honestly a feature I would pay thousands for. When we first started this guild, we were bombarded with people who had no gear, no knowledge, and zero clue asking about joining and getting hostile when we said no. This confused, immature player type is slowly being eliminated, and while it means less people overall, it equates to a higher percentage of player you want to be around.

You see, when the fat is trimmed, you are left with a much smaller, more lean selection. And with features like the cross region premade group builder, the community comes closer and closer together. Gone are the days of sifting through the millions of children in trade chat. Sure, those children are still there, but every “quarter” their numbers are trimmed even more.

Every expansion, I grow more and more attached to the features of the game, and grow more and more invigorated as the community progresses from a rampant daycare to a cultivated garden Newton would be proud of. Selective breeding at its finest, as only Father Time could muster.

Its unlike Blizzard shares the same sentiment as I, but I’ll say it one last time to prove how happy I actually am.
This expansion lost 3.2 million people. Some of them were great friends of mine. Most of them couldn’t be missed if I was their mother.

And every single post about how the game is “dead” makes me more and more sure of this. 3.2 million people left a game because they heard some one say it was featuring a kid’s theme and no challenge. 3.2 million people fled a game in droves because everyone else alongside them were doing so. 3.2 million people may come back, but they will fall to the same cycle again, because they do nothing regularly, and have built up no community within a guild or otherwise.

3.2 million people have unsubscribed, and I could never have been happier about it. See you in Draenor.

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Druid Forms In Warlords of Draenor

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As a child I used to watch a lot of Transformers cartoons on television, I’d like to think that’s what led me to my eventual decision to play a Druid. A silly treant for healing, a giant ferocious bear for tanking, a kitty-cat for shredding a target to pieces with its claws and a giant…. Owl… thing for spell casting.

So then comes the decision in Warlords of Draenor, where you look at the changing character models and seriously get jealous of those lovely, cuddly Tauren and all their fluffiness. I play a Troll druid for a reason, the forms I change into were relitively recently updated in terms of comparison to the Tauren and other races, bar that of the Worgen whom also have a recent graphical pass. Yet the Original races of the Vanilla game that could be of the Druid inclination, all have rather low resolution, low poly textures and poor animations. Druids are not alone with this issue either, with the Shaman Ghost Wolf ability form looking like a drawing of what a wolf could look like, traced onto cardboard and given fewer pixels than a tree in MoP.

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A rant this is not, far from it in fact. I do love the fact that instead of the initial changes to only a few of the races, Blizzard are now confirmed via blue posting, re-working all of the original race models for Warlords of Draenor. My only thought sat here contemplating whether to stay a Troll female with the one young looking face on the selection menu, or to re-originate my character as a giant fluffy, cuddly cow. The deciding factor for me at least is the druid forms, being a druid means that more often than not, depending on specialization you spend the majority of your time in a form for a specific role than you do as your race equivalent.

Blizzard will not be (as of this post) re-working the druid forms for this expansion it would seem, and I’m extremely interested in what that will look like in WoD. A druid buffs his raid team with Mark of The Wild, he’s required to go Bear for this fight because the diversity and gear changes in the expansion allow him to and the current fight requires three tanks. He steps up in all his glory, his beautiful furry mane swishing around in the dungeon light, kneeling as his transformation magic begins in slow motion. Suddenly with a ‘POOF’ of magic, he turns from a 16 billion polygonal race model, into the familiar 20 pixel bear he’s known and loved to some extent for the last 10 years of WoW.

Time is a factor in any change, and usually Blizzard would take separate time to work on other character models and graphical changes, not during the creation of the next WoW expansion where the actual world we will be spending the next year in-game is much more important and demanding of their time and resources. The fact they decided to re-work ALL of the previous original models from Vanilla and TBC, was somewhat shocking to hear, especially if you think about it from a completion standpoint and where they must be in the development process for the scheduled yearly release of content for the game. To find time to make this alteration must mean that there was arguably less for them to do that they envisioned, and that now they have the resources to quickly introduce vast changes to the graphical elements within the game. So then, my question returns. If indeed they do have time to change plans for changes to only specific races to then change all those that haven’t changed since day one of the game, then perhaps the time could be found somewhere soon down the line to possibly change the druid forms, and bring them in line with other graphical elements of the game.

Hopefully sometime soon we can expect an announcement to do with druidic changes, and new art for our aging class, but until that day we all just have to sit and wait to see what happens, humming the Transformers theme and making the static transformation sound effect whenever we change forms. Perhaps that’s just me.

 

Thank you for reading this article! If you found this interesting and feel you have something to contribute, please head over to our forums where we are continuing the discussion on this and many more topics present within the WoW.Stratics site.

Rhonin : Lore, Warcraft & You!

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Welcome to another Lore, Warcraft, & You! The series of articles where we look at prominent figures in Warcraft lore, and where they affect you in-game in World of Warcraft, how they play an integral role in the storyline and where you can find them.
Today we look into famous red-haired super-mage; Rhonin.

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Rhonin was a human mage, formerly entrusted with the leadership of the Kirin Tor during the time of the Wrath of The Lech King expansion. (The Kirin Tor being the ancient Magus Senate of Dalaran)
He did not gain this position easily as many of his exploits in his youth even made his place as a mage of Dalaran even questionable. Rhonin has been a key figure in various world-ending scenarios where he has either single handily taken on danger instead of assessing a situation or teamed alongside some of Azeroth’s more powerful heroes.
Curiously no surname has ever been given to Rhonin, yet he has had several nicknames and is sometimes referred to as Rhonin Redhair for his flame-like hair, and the accompanying hot-headed temperament in battle.
The book Night of The Dragon also refers to Rhonin as ‘Rhonin Draig’cyfail’ or in the human tongue; ‘Dragonheart’. Call him what you will, Rhonin is an extremely powerful, yet reserved, intelligent mage. Well skilled in the use of a blade due to his actions in the Scourge invasion add to the diversity and flexibility of his combat style. It’s this ability to work in dire situations and intuition lead decisions that has allowed him to be successful and resourceful in so many situations and stories over the course of Warcraft history.

Reply Code Alpha

Reply Code Alpha

Fundamentally Rhonin is best known in-game for his involvement as a quest npc in Dalaran, awarding the player with a piece of loot once they return from the depths of the Ulduar raid with the Titan Reply Code object from defeating Algalon the Observer. The reply code once the player explains to Rhonin the events that took place in Ulduar is then noted to be a pre-defined message of a possible two that Algalon should of sent back to the Titans in the discovery of either a positive or negative assessment of live on Azeroth. The curse of flesh, which ultimately resulted in humanoid life on the planet, is a deviation from the Titans original plan for the world upon their involvement in essentially conquering azeroth millions of years ago.
The Titans captured thousands of worlds like Azeroth, with the intent to govern life the way they saw fit on each world, seeing order in the universe the ultimate goal.
The Alpha reply code was to be sent back to the titans by Algalon if Azeroth was still a vision of this order and perfection, otherwise if any malignant alterations had taken place, another reply code would be given, initialising the order for planetary re-origination, which presumably would involve the complete terraforming of Azeroth and the death of all life on the planet to reset it to a point where they could start over.

Rhonin Is a key character in this expansion, yet doesn’t take an active role outside of a cutscene introducing the Ulduar raid and the quests after its defeat, however he is incredibly popular as the main protagonist of many books such as Day of The Dragon, by Richard A Knaak.

These books are canon to the story and tell a story of Rhonin that isn’t as noticeable in the mmo.
During the events of the Second war, Rhonin was seen as a dangerous, unpredictable mage, due to an event where he used his powers recklessly in battle, ending the lives of all his comrades.
This disgrace and the remorse he felt ultimately resulted in his involvement in the events of the Second war with the Orcs. Krasus, a mage and secretly a consort of the red dragonflight convinced Rhonin to reclaim his honour by selflessly volunteering for a dangerous mission to Khaz Modan, where he helped break the power of the orcs and freed Alexstrasa the life binder, whom at the time was captured by Nekros Skullcrusher.
Alongside Rhonin, a young elven ranger named Vareesa Windrunner, Krasus the dragon mage, and Falstad Wildhammer. Vereesa was weary of Rhonin and had heard of his disastrous failings in the line of duty that had caused the death of all his kin, but ultimately throughout the journey she became to respect him and in good time fell in love with the mage.
Rhonin was successful in destroying the demon soul which was used by Deathwing to capture Alexstrasa and gained the respect of his fellow comrades in the selfless and painful pursuit. The book is a masterpiece honestly, I would definitely recommend picking up Day of the Dragon if you only ever read one of the books.

Vereesa Windrunner

Vereesa Windrunner

The aforementioned love between Vereesa and Rhonin blossomed after the events of Day of the Dragon and they got married, Vareesa even became pregnant with his to be Twin- offspring.
During Vereesa’s pregnancy Rhonin was once again called into duty despite wanting to spend time with his wife and be at her side during this time.
The events to follow involved Krasus asking him for help in sealing a rift in time that had appeared, leading to an event in the past, 10,000 years ago.
They entered the rift as well as the inquisitive Orc, Broxigar who also found the rift.
This was covered in the book trilogy, The War of The Ancients.

During his time in the past, Rhonin got involved directly into the events of this time period after trying not to get involved in things that could change history forever. Unfortunately he met and became friends with many of Azeroth’s strongest lore figures, such as; Malorne, Cenarius, Aviana, Shadowsong, Tyrande Whisperwind, and of course Illidan Stormrage, whom he became direct mentor of in an attempt to harness the wild magic’s and power dwelling within him.
Unfortunately he was unsuccessful in changing anything with Illidan, and ended up changing and trying to fix mistakes Illidan had made along the way prior to Illidan’s destined defection.
It would be less useful to explain the events that took place in their entirety here in this article, so I will likely make a separate post about the War of The Ancients due to the events size and complexity.
As a reward for all he had done in the past, Nozdormu thanked Rhonin for sealing the rift and being as careful as he could to not directly impact the timeline and allowed him to teleport to Vereesa to the point of her labour so he would not miss the birth of his own twin sons; Giramar and Galadin. Along with this gift, Nozdormu also gave the twins the respect of the Bronze dragonflight if they would even need their own help with matters in the future.

Rhonin has no living family members, due to the events involving the Scourge plague taking many of his own loved ones and his own father, who was killed during the fall of Andorhil. Rhonin made the decision to make his own family, and as a part of that, when he was approached by the council of Dalaran for help, responsibility overweighed his personal life, and so accepted the leadership position of Archmage of the Kirin Tor. To defend his family and his people in uncertain times, was effectively the same goal, and his loyalty for his past mistakes still dwelled heavily on his decisions.

Theramore After Mana BombSadly in present day, Rhonin is no longer with us, and many people didn’t expect the popular main character of so many of Blizzard’s stories to die anytime soon.
Rhonin was killed trying to dampen the mana bomb that destroyed Theramore in the Tides of War book and in-game scenario events, he managed to save Vereesa, General Shandris Feathermoon and Jaina Proudmore, whom he named as his successor as leader of the Kirin Tor.
His sacrifice in the end was not for the hatred of the Horde, but for the loyalty to his people. He never saw the Horde as an evil force as many of the other Alliance members did, and did his best to remain neutral, even in dire times.
This cannot be said for Jaina Proudmore, whom hates the Horde for what has happened and swore vengeance for Theramore.

And so ends another chapter on a lore figure who changed the World of Warcraft we know and love. If you have enjoyed my article, please leave me some feedback below. Thank you kindly for reading, I’ll see you all next time!

 

Season 15 Announced But What Does That Mean For Warlords of Draenor?

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The WoW community received some interesting news yesterday, although not the Warlords of Draenor info they had hoped and prayed for but close enough. Holinka the PvP Designer for World of Warcraft announced that there would be another PvP season (Season 15) before Warlords of Draenor is launched.

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This is great news for the PvP players of WoW as waiting for the prolonged season at the end of an Expansion can feel painful and cause interest to fall. This now means that the players will have something to keep them occupied while the Expansion comes to an end, well not all the players…  The announcement sparks a lot of questions and speculation, does this mean WoD won’t be as soon as we had hoped? Will it turn out similar to Dragon Soul, where casual and PvE players had little to do during the next expansion wait? Or do the devs also have something planned even though they previously stated in the Warlords of Draenor Developer Panel at Blizzcon

“Another MoP patch would delay WoD, so Patch 5.5 isn’t going to happen. The entire team is working on WoD right now, so any more MoP content would slow down development.”

The majority of the WoW community expected WoD to drop in Q2 of 2014 meaning we would have played patch 5.4 for around 8 months. This seemed to be a comfortable wait, a little longer than most would like but acceptable without seeing a patch 5.5. But now with the next season announced things aren’t looking too promising for WoD within Q2 so that leaves two options, will we see a 5.5 patch with new PvE content although that would mean they are taking people from WoD development to do another MoP patch or do they plan on having 5.4 for 9+ months and just hope that the players will stick around or return for WoD.

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Now after playing Blizzard games and following its potential rivals over the years, I’ve come to learn they don’t like to give their competition a chance if they have the opportunity to. The reason I bring this up is this year will see two new MMOs that have gained a decent amount of interest and for Blizzard to delay WoD without giving its player base an alternative wouldn’t seem like something they would do especially as they tend to learn well from their mistakes and wouldn’t give us another Dragon Soul repeat if it can be helped.

Personally I feel they have something planned in terms of WoD beta, instead of releasing a new patch for the current expansion why not make the next expansion be the thing that keeps people entertained? By this I think they will make WoD beta a lot more open than it has been before, doing large amounts of invites around the times the new MMO’s will launch. This seems the more tactical plan as it will build next Expansion hype, keep the current player based interested in the game and less likely to switch over to the competition without causing them to have to create content for an expansion that is due to end.

How would you feel about getting WoD beta access over a new patch, do you want a new patch instead and do you like the idea of an extra PvP season before the expansion ends? Let us know your thoughts on it all in the comments below!

Lore, Warcraft & You! -Introduction

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Welcome to Meoni’s lore column, each week we’ll be talking about events or opinions on general Lore elements and how they are told within the World of Warcraft videogame franchise! This week in Lore, Warcraft & You! I take a look at what lore actually is, and why it’s important to the games we play, ensuring a continued value for money experience in a growing world of ‘competition’.

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As a child, books were never things I would actively seek out, nor did I find much interest in written media at all until much later in life, but the one thing that stays in my mind are stories such as the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, or any of the Terry Pratchett works. Like most children, I had stories read aloud to me by either my parents before bed or at school, and honestly I preferred it that way, and have continued to be this way to this day, with many audio books adorning my media player library in preference to the books on my shelves. I feel this relaxing, almost meditation like state allowed my mind to race away with conjured up images of what a Hobbit even looked like, or what I believed Smaug the dragon would sound like in his bellowing narrative.

Such grand, epic stories, so colourful and rich, written so beautifully the narrative medium they were delivered upon was always clear and painted the scene perfectly. That in my opinion is then the definition of a good story, one that can be told without too much guidance to the reader, and one that doesn’t require time to understand what is happening on the pages during action sequences or heavy interactions between multiple characters. Translation between media allows for a much purer experience, but only if delivered properly, which is why making content based on pre-designed lore, such as a film or game, is the most important thing there is.

Now if you look at the Warcraft franchise, it’s clear to see that development in all aspects of the medium has resulted in more and more time to focus on enriching story elements to the point of equality, or in some cases even better than what could possibly be explained in pages in a book.

Lore in itself is not the story, but the context of that story, and a slight error can mean the difference between a fluid experience and one of pure misery when trying to piece a world together, especially as vast and intricate as Azeroth. A good example of this was during the Cataclysm expansions premiere at Blizzcon 2010. A fellow gamer and now well known lore enthusiast Ian Bates, better known as ‘Red Shirt Guy’ by both the panel and the wow community, asked a question based on one of these discrepancies he had discovered.

The question referred to a recent book in the Warcraft universe, The shattering, which told of the events leading up to the Cataclysm expansions present timeline. He pointed out that a character that Blizzard had forgotten about, ‘Falstad Wildhammer’, presumed dead by the lore panel team, was actually in fact actively playing a role within the vanilla WoW game all the way up to the end of the ‘Wrath Of The Lich king’ expansion, yet completely missing from the ‘Council of Three Hammers’, an organised group of leaders within the Dwarf race.

Chris Metzen and the lore panel then checked this and declared the ‘red shirt’ guy correct, changed the game to include the missing character in the next expansion in his rightful place, and even included the gentleman asking the question as the ‘Lore Checker’ NPC in the game, stood next to the ‘Council Of Three Hammers’ themselves.

Mistakes are easily made, and the previous example shows the dedication and following behind the Warcraft games and the respected lore behind each and every storyline. As a result of this community interaction, the game has enforced standards to be both met and addressed with each and every game design decision, which in turn has helped create World of Warcraft into the rich, story driven game it is today.

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It can be said that the game has never been as story driven as it has been in recent Expansions, with many new methods of telling those stories introduced into Mists of Pandaria. Lorewalker Cho for example, voiced by the fantastically enthusiastic Jim Cummings, a veteran in lending his vocal talents to the video game world is key to this discussion.

The Thunder King official trailer that Blizzard released prior to the raids release to the public, featured rhyming couplets and a poetic projection of the events involving the resurrection and history behind the end boss of that raid.

This by far has to be one of the most impressive works of art the Blizzard team has put together in my opinion, with an extremely high quality presentation level and frankly spine tingling delivery.

As Cummings’ character tells the story of the Pandaren people, raised as slaves under the ancient Mogu empire, ruled by the powerful Thunder King, you get a sense this is more than just the amalgamation of ideas on paper, but a whole intricate thought out part of why the Pandaren even accept the outsiders eventually and try to trust the player throughout their adventures in Pandaria.

To get such a talented vocal inspiration working on a project like this is no easy feat. Consider the distance the game has had to travel before not just the money, but the renowned respect the company was there for this to be possible. For it’s progression in dedication to both customer service and delivery of a worthwhile, value for money product for consumption, is obviously the key concern of the whole development team. This is just one of many other reasons we could talk about in a future post of why WoW still reigns as the number one subscription based MMORPG around.

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The community behind a project like this, is what makes World Of Warcraft what it is, without our ‘Red Shirt Guy’s’, and our passionate interaction with the entire franchise, a game would just not be as rich, or even half as interesting to play, regardless of end game playable content, which I feel is where the games ‘competitors’ go wrong.

A player is given the chance to experience the in-game content at their pace, which is expected of a premium pay to play model in today’s society, with anything less than that a sure-fire way of not making even a dent in competition.

Thank you for reading this article, if you would like to continue the discussion, please do. What are your most favoured Warcraft moments? What would you like to see added to the game to further enrich the experience? Let us know, Cheers!