Cataclysm Zones: The Echo Isles

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - 2 Comments »

In order to make sure that everybody gets a fair shake in the early going, Blizzard is giving two of the game’s existing races their own, special starting areas. While not as elaborate as those of the Goblin or Worgen, of course, it’s still nice to see that they’re paying attention.

In the coming months, players will have the opportunity to retake the Echo Isles from the evil witch doctor, Zalazane. Nascent Hordies of the Orc and Troll persuasion already pass this area as the first questing hub outside of the Valley of Trials, but from Cataclysm onwards, it will be the exclusive 1-5 introductory area for the latter.

As a beginning Troll, no longer will you be burdened with the menial tasks of slaying scorpions or picking apples (though, I will miss slapping lazy peons upside the hide). Instead, you’ll be charged with protecting the Darkspears’ newly reclaimed land from deadly predators and the encroaching Naga, who regularly threaten its safety.

But that’s not all, because this mini-zone has been completely re-jiggered! New Troll outposts and buildings have appeared on the islands, along with bridges that connect the archipelago with the mainland (I can’t be the only one that hated swimming across the inlet for every quest). And it looks even sexier with the new Cataclysm water effects.

Hit the break for full details and even more screenshots! Read more…

Global Agenda: It’s All About The Skill

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - No Comments »

The RPG aspect of most modern MMORPGs really overpowers the rest of the game.  In far too many cases, the power of your character is tied directly with its current level, and the current gear they have.  Often times, these aspects are serve as limiters for each other (you can’t equip this until your this level).  By and large, this gives players with additional time on their hands an advantage.  Their dedication allows them to progress their character further, far outranking those below them in every facet: hit points, damage, etc.  But there’s one thing that playing more doesn’t guarantee — skill.

I don’t mean skill as in the innate ability to “pwn newbs.”  Skill, as defined by me, is the ability to know the game and its intangibles.  In WoW, it’s knowing your class’ hit cap, the best spec, and encyclopedic knowledge of encounters.  It’s a clear understanding of your chosen avatar’s calling, and how to best utilize all its inherent abilities at the appropriate moments.  Skill is the comprehensive knowledge of tactics and strategy you can offer, not time spent farming shinies or grinding friends.

Hit the jump to see why the design philosophy of Global Agenda is so intriguing to many PvP-minded MMOG players. Read more…

Another New World of Warcraft Pet

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - No Comments »


Blizzard is set to release two powerhouse games this year: World of Warcraft: Cataclysm and StarCraft 2. To celebrate these two games being released Blizzard has unveiled another World of Warcraft in-game pet much like the old Tyrael in-game pet that was made available a couple of years ago. Tyrael, for those of you who don’t know, is a character from Blizzard’s Diablo games and the pet was given to those who attended the 2008 Blizzard Worldwide Invitational in France.

The new StarCraft 2 based in-game pet for WoW will be the mini Thor. To get this exclusive pet you don’t need to go to one of Blizzard’s events like in the past but you do need to pay a little extra to get the Thor pet. People who purchase the Collector’s Edition of StarCraft 2 will be given a code to unlock the Thor for WoW. As of now the price for the Collector’s Edition is $99.99.

Blizzard HQ In Pictures

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - No Comments »

Ars Technica donated its first baby (what, companies can have babies) for a trip to Blizzard Entertainment’s decadent HQ.  The glorified slideshow shows off countless behind-the-scenes shots, including a developer pumping iron in the 24-hour gym, employees munching down at the subsidized cafeteria, a nerd’s dream library featuring hundreds of games, books and other activities and art.  Lots of art.  Heck, lots of different kinds of art.

Just check it out over at Opposable Thumbs.  Picture’s worth a thousand words and all that.

Lore Hound MMOcast: Episode 5

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - 3 Comments »

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Join the Lore Hounds as we discuss the latest news in the MMO world. The lineup this week includes, iTZKooPA, pixiestixy, and Heartbourne.

This week the discussion covers:

  • All Point’s Bulletin beta registration open
  • Runes of Magic Chapter III has begun!
  • Turbine Time: LotRO 3rd anniversary + DDO Store discount
  • Guild Wars 5 year anniversary
  • Fallen Earth v1.4 release date!
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic combat trailer.
  • Star Trek Online: Deep Space 9 trailer
  • R.A. Salvatore interview as a Creator of Worlds
  • Discussion: Are anniversaries that big of a deal? Why don’t developers do more retrospectives?

Click the player above to listen, download the podcast, subscribe via RSS, or subscribe on iTunes.

Also, get involved with our podcasts! E-mail us at podcast@lorehound.com or leave us a voicemail using the button below or simply call us at (304) 884-LORE.  Remember you can follow us on Twitter for a chance to win a Celestial Steed mount, too!

Goblinism 101: WoW’s Economy and Real Life Economies

Posted by on April 28, 2010 - 2 Comments »

Goblinism 101 connects real-life economic principles with the markets that exist in World of Warcraft. It seeks to teach about capitalism’s WoW analogue, goblinism, through examples and stories.

World of Warcraft has a bustling in-game economy. Millions of gold exchanges hands daily. Players have to make valuation decisions, and the economy of World of Warcraft has a lot of similarities with real world laissez-faire economies. There are some important differences, but it is a close model of a no-government free market.

One of the biggest differences between a typical WoW economy and a modern real world economy is that there is hardly any major product differentiation and little to no innovation. The Saronite Swordbreakers you get crafted by your guildmate are identical to the ones you buy from strangers on the auction house, which are identical to all others. In addition, it is impossible to create or discover new, more useful items. Nobody can say “gee, I wish this belt had more spirit on it” and research ways to craft belts with more spirit. There are some exceptions, particularly when recipes are difficult to obtain. Jewelcrafting gem cuts are a great example; there are hundreds of cuts and few people have a vast library of recipes. Players have to buy them by spending time on dailies or money on Titanium Powder, an equivalent of research and development in the real world. There are some other exceptions, like Northrend Inscription Research, but by and large there is no innovation or product differentiation.

More on crafting, regulation and the auction house follows the cut.

Read more…

DDO: Popping My Cash Shop Cherry

Posted by on April 27, 2010 - 2 Comments »

I’ve always eschewed the idea of the free-to-play MMORPG, primarily on the pretense that you’d end up spending more money that way than you would if you were paying a consistent, monthly fee. I don’t really care for cosmetic upgrades (alright, they’re nice, but still nothing I’d pay extra for), and experience boosts really aren’t my thing, either. I’m a stubborn gamer, and I usually like doing things the hard way, because I feel like I’m getting the most out of it by maximizing the time spent playing.

It doesn’t help that a lot of free-to-play games out there utilize the pull of their loot-filled cash shops to mask the hollow shell of a game beneath. Let’s face it, some people will always be drawn in by the prospect of spending gobs of money to make themselves feel superior. It happens in the real world, as well as the virtual one. And when the virtual world sucks, there’s nothing there to keep me playing.

But I’ve been bitten by a bug. Now I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription that can cure it is more content! What possible piece of software could I be talking about? Well, it’s the one that’s been occupying my time while I wait (impatiently) for something new from the World of Warcraft — Dungeons and Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. Read more…

Too Long: Didn’t Read – Varian Wrynn

Posted by on April 27, 2010 - 1 Comment »

Is your ability to read hampered by TL:DRitis? Ever want to just know the basics of a character in Warcraft?  Tired of scrolling through tomes of information you already know?  Want bite-sized lore that can be expanded into hour-consuming sessions on a need-to-know basis?  Then “In 250 Words or Less*” is for you!

The young Varian Wrynn, son of the King of Stormwind, Llane Wrynn, took over the crown after he witnessed the assassination of his father by Garona Halforcen.  The ensuing chaos led to Varian’s exile to Lordaeron, where he befriended Arthas Menethil.  With the aid of Lordaeron and the rest of the Alliance, Varian reclaimed his kingdom.

The lull in warfare allowed Wrynn to focus on rebuilding his land, and his family.  During this time Katrana Prestor refused to pay the Stonemasons for their hand in restoring Stormwind.  Her tampering ultimately lead to the rioting in Stormwind, the death of Tiffin, Varian’s wife, and the kidnapping of Varian by the Defias Brotherhood.

During his struggle to escape, Varian lost his memory and was captured by a traveling band of gladiator combatants.  His military training kicked in, allowing him to lead his team to numerous victories, earning him the name of Lo’GoshAegwynn manages to clear his fractured memory, revealing him as the lost king of Stormwind.  Lo’Gosh began his journey home only to discover that an impostor had claimed his throne.  Lo’Gosh disclosed Katrana as Onyxia and pursued her to her lair with his impostor.  His soul as one, Varian returns to Stormwind, with Onyxia’s head.

Whole again, Varian returns to his duties only to learn of Bolvar’s death at Wrathgate.  In his honor, Varian leads a charge into Undercity to kill Varimathras.  The betrayal is the last straw for Varian, who confronts Thrall and vows that peace will never come.

Related extended universe works:

Other notes:

Varian does not play a major role in the attack against Icecrown Citadel.  He does have a cameo in which he tells Bronzebeard to stand down and allow Saurfang The Elder to reclaim his son’s body.  Varian will play a major role in Cataclysm.

*Count does not include the introduction or footer.