Name Changes - 11.25.2007

Just a small post from me this week regarding the Name Change option now available for characters - is this not the stupidest thing I have seen Blizzard implement on this game so far? I mean who would be so opaque as to feel that renaming their character would have any influence on how they play or what they experience in game; or indeed have anything to do with their happiness level?

Well, apparently, quite a few people on my friends list! Came online the other day and saw this random person online in my friends list - I promptly thought I'd been keylogged and someone was messing around with my account until the guy messaged me telling me who he was and that he'd changed his name :)

Upon further investigation, most people that are considering this option/have already done it seem to have fairly justifiable reasons for doing so - this probably isn't an issue in the US, but in the EU people seem to want to change their names to avoid being 'labelled' as from a certain nationality; not for racist reasons I'm sure, but to generally escape confusion. For example, two English players I know have changed their names to avoid being stereotyped as Scandinavians - when they chose their names originally they were unaware of that name's significance in other languages - and I'm confident this situation is not uncommon.

So as it turns out there may be at least one viable reason to change your character's name. In my opinion, you need a good one before throwing your money away.

Would love to hear people's opinions on this.

-Joe Zara [Phoee]

Jungletastic or Tiresome Trolls? - 11.16.2007

So, who's ventured into Zul'Aman this week? I'm sure a large proportion of you have delved within the troll-infested walls for the first time and found a new marvel of things to tickle your fancy (my personal favourite was actually the 20 slot bag reward from the first quest, heh!).

I'm sure everyone is glad for some new content if nothing else, and a new 10 man raid instance on a 3 day timer is a great bonus for many raiders still bored out of their minds in Karazhan.

But just how long will this excitement last? Is Zul'Aman nothing more than a fleeting distraction for a few weeks? Are the encounters routine and wearisome? Are the trolls beginning to get on your nerves already?

Personally I'm fairly impressed with the instance as a whole; it is undoubtedly quite a bit more challenging than Karazhan - perhaps too much so to be an automatic step up from that level of difficulty, and the boss encounters in general are innovative and require a certain level of focus from a raid group (my favourite being the Lightning Cloud of Akil'zon that determines who is awake in the group).

The one down-side I have noticed so far is the requirement for a precisely balanced raid group in terms of classes. This is shown to be very true at Malacrass with the 4 different types of adds: humanoid, dragonkin, undead, and elemental. If your raid group happened to lack, say, a warlock and a priest, this encounter would become exponentially more difficult since the undead and elemental adds have some very nasty damaging abilities - combined with Malacrass's AOE ability this would more than certainly be a very difficult fight.

It also seems to me to be very finely tuned in terms of healing; for a Tier 4/5 clad raidgroup 3 healers would appear to be the only amount to bring - 2 healers would struggle to outheal the raid damage on various bosses, whilst bringing 4 healers would limit the group to only 4 DPS classes; which would leave the group struggling to down bosses within the enrage timers.

It is probably too soon to declare which I prefer, Karazhan or Zul'Aman, since my 'new content jitters' are still keeping ZA exciting enough to return there as soon as it resets, but overall I think Blizzard have done well with this instance.

Except of course the equipment models. Blizzard what were you thinking?!

-Joe Zara [Phoee]

The Seven and the Nerf Bat - 11.10.2007

Undoubtedly, many of you have seen China's recent first kill of Illidan by 'The Seven'. It took the guild 52 days of progress to clear all content in TBC - that's a little over 7 weeks.

Many people I know have commented on this first kill and it's implications; I personally think it is a remarkable speed in which to do it, if only you consider it from a gear point of view - 7 resets of farming tier 5 dungeons is most likely not enough time to get every raid member geared out comfortably; and as seen in the killshot many of the raid members were indeed wearing their old Tier 3 pieces.

This indeed begs the question - How hard has TBC content been hit by the 'Nerf Bat'?

Just for comparison's sake I looked at Nihilum's kill dates (Nihilum being the number 1 guild in the world in terms of PvE progress). Now if we exclude Karazhan/Gruul/Magtheridon kill dates (which used to be requirements for the Tier 5 dungeons), Nihilum killed Hydross the Unstable on the 16th of February, and defeated Illidan on the 5th of June - an 109 day period; more than double the amount used by the Chinese. Also bear in mind Nihilum would have been gearing up for a full month in TBC prior to this time period, unlike the The Seven.

Now this isn't to say that The Seven 'wtfpwnd' Nihilum; far from it. If you actually look at the Tier 5 and 6 dungeons since Nihilum were making first kills, you could quite easily say that all four instances have been altered in some way to make them easier. Just off the top of my head;

SSC - Trash respawn times changed from 45 minutes to 2 hours and all mob hitpoints reduced by some amount (around 10%).
TK - Trash respawn times changed from 45 minutes to 2 hours, Al'ar encounter significantly reworked, and Solarian encounter significantly reworked.
Hyjal - Trash waves reduced from 12 to 8 and Archimonde's Doomfire ability altered; various other tweaks to his non melee abilities.
BT- Mother Shahraz encounter significantly reworked.

These changes (of which there are many more) have made for a far easier time in TBC in recent weeks then back in Spring 2007; and this is clearly shown by The Seven's complete annihilation of the end-game content in a short space of time, with a significant lack of high end gear (I am going to assume for this article that Nihilum and The Seven's skill levels are on a par).

I guess my actual point of all this rambling is this: Will Blizzard continue to nerf content when it has reached a certain stage in order to appease the more casual gamer? In my opinion this devalues what many top-end guilds spend a large amount of time and energy on; and it seems to me that Blizzard is caving in to the concerns of the casual, rather than rewarding the skilled playerbase.

Will the Nerf Bat swing around and hit Sunwell Plateau (slated to be the final 25 man raid of TBC before the next expansion) in a few months? Only time will tell.

-Joe Zara [Phoee]

Say Hello To Joe - 11.10.2007

I have found a new co-writer to help me out here at Blogcraft!

His name is Joe Zara and his character's name is Phoee. He belongs to the EU guild Inner Sanctum who is currently ranked 17th worldwide by WoW Jutsu and Boss Killers. Using his PvE knowledge, Joe has published two popular endgame strategy guides for Teron Gorefiend and Supremus. Now, he plans to bring his overall knowledge of World of Warcraft to Blogcraft.

Joe's first post will be up soon, so keep your eyes peeled!

-Matt Graham

Linked From Tobold - 11.5.2007

My "Can WoW Be Beaten?" post has been linked on TOBOLD's MMORPG blog in his post entitled "Spoilt rotten by World of Warcraft?"!

This is a great step for Blogcraft! Thanks Tobold! :D

-Matt Graham

Blogcraft Is Hiring A Writer! - 11.2.2007

I've always wanted Blogcraft to be a blog that updates with new posts constantly. However, that it really difficult for me to do because when I'm busy, I AM BUSY! So, what is my solution? Well, I'm looking for a new writer to join me in writing for the blog.

I'm looking for anyone, age 16+, that has a passion to write and thinks that he/she can bring something new to Blogcraft. Whether you can think of cool new features to write up or just want to get your creative ideas written down, e-mail Blogcraft at with:

1. Your name or online handle. I know that some people don't like having their last name out there, so that's optional.
2. Your age.
3. Why you want this job.
4. What you plan to bring to Blogcraft.

So, apply now and I'll get back to all the people that follow my criteria. Good luck!

P.S. - Please know that you will not be paid for this job. It's just a fun little side-project next to real life. :D

-Matt Graham

Can WoW Be Beaten? - 11.2.2007

The question as to if WoW can be beaten or not seems often too difficult to discuss. I always wonder why though. For me, at least, the answer seems so simple. The answer is that no, World of Warcraft can not and will not be beaten.

I honestly do not think that WoW will ever be out-populated by another subscription-based MMO - ever. Just look at what games we see on the horizon that are worth mentioning: Tabula Rasa (released today), Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Star Trek Online, The Agency, etc.

Let's analyze the small list I provided. I bolded the names of possible competitors of WoW and italicized the games that don't deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as WoW.

*Tabula Rasa: Tabula Rasa was released today, so I still included it on the list. Let me sum up the TR beta with one, excuse me, two words. Utter crap. The game play was not smooth AT ALL, and to be quite honest, that was my only huge problem with it. However, it was a BIG problem.
*Warhammer Online: "...And in other news, EA's Mythic Entertainment decided to delay WAR once more - they say this is the last time - to polish it a bit more." I hope they don't polish it so much that the paint begins to wear.
*Age of Conan: I really want this game to be great. I've been watching it for almost two years now - hell, I even did a podcast about it for awhile. However, because of it's M rating and it's low-fantasy setting, I don't think that Age of Conan will come close to beating WoW. I do believe, however, that it can and will be a healthy competitor.
*Pirates of the Burning Sea: Sony Online Entertainment. Well there are other reasons why my love for this game diminished as well, but I thought I'd just simply point out "the SOE reason".
*Star Trek Online: Finally, the Trekkies have a promising game to look forward to. Will Star Trek Online beat WoW's number? Well, because it's a Sci-Fi MMO, no, I don't think it will. Will it come close? Yes. I believe that Star Trek online will be the only MMO to come anywhere close to WoW's numbers.
*The Agency: Sony Online Entertainment... Wait... An SOE game that I'm actually checking out?! Oh my God! Well, while this game is promising many revolutionary things right now, I don't know if it can carry those out or not. Also, being a Sci-Fi MMO hurts itself against its competition.

Notice that I didn't include Guild Wars 2 in the above list. This is because NCSoft has stated that it will be a free-to-play persistent world. If it remains that way, Guild Wars 2 could very likely beat WoW's numbers, but let's just see how long that lasts... When they finally decide to add a subscription-based fee, I won't be able to consider them as any competition.

So, there you have it. The only games on the horizon that I really believe in are Age of Conan and Star Trek Online. Now, don't assume that I'll be in there with the Trekkies, because I sure as hell won't be.

P.S. - You might say that I'm being "stupid" because I'm just taking into account the MMO's on the horizon. Well, I believe that in a year or two we will have reached the high point of MMO's.

-Matt Graham

The Geek Media Donation Drive - 11.2.2007

The Geek Media will be starting a donation drive for Child's Play Charity on November 1, 2007 and it will last until December 1, 2007. If you aren't familiar with Child's Play you ought to check out their site and get familiar with them. They are a great charity that gives us gamers and geeks a chance to give back to the community. We are setting a goal to raise $4,000 USD for Child's Play. For every $5.00 you donate, you are entered to win a Nintendo Wii. The drawing for the contest will be held on December 1, 2007.

How do you donate? On November 1, 2007 all of the donation buttons on the front page of The Geek Media's website will be changing over from our regular donate buttons. Click on those buttons and donate away. All of the money received from November 1, 2007 - December 1, 2007 will be going to benefit Child's Play Charity!

Click here for the official rules, and click here for the FAQ.

Child's Play is a great charity that has been growing since it started; at first it was one local hospital to prove that gamers really do give back, now there are 38 hospitals you can choose to donate directly to in 5 countries. So even if you don't want a Wii and you can spare even a couple of dollars go to The Geek Media's site and donate!

-Matt Graham