Postcards from WoW, Part 2

By Shamus
on Jul 26, 2010
Filed under:
Pictures

wow_legit.jpg

Uh oh! Blizzad say my account is complains and I need to site validate my information or else will stop!

Sounds legit!

Which is more grotesque: That someone is stupid enough to perpetrate such a feeble and transparent scam, or that people fall for it?

wow_barrens.jpg

The Barrens is an amazingly beautiful savanna belonging to the Horde side, although Alliance players can slip in through a couple of different ways. I decided to sneak in and explore the place because that’s what I do.

wow_flying_lion.jpg

I picked up a lion companion while I was there. He’s fun because lions don’t appear on the Alliance side so this is a rare pet for us. On the other hand, I don’t really use him because I prefer my turtle.

In this picture he’d climbed up onto a mineral node. I mined it and the node disappeared out from under him, but he didn’t fall. He floated there until I moved. Interesting to see some of the CPU-saving shortcuts in action.

wow_chopper.jpg

The motorcycle. Blizzard is evidently adopting a very liberal interpretation of the term “fantasy setting”. This is not a bad thing, although some of their non-traditional elements fit better than others. A rare motorcycle is fine, but it would be disappointing if these things proliferated. On the auction house, one of these babies will sell for about 16,600 gold. Which is just crazy money.

As the level cap goes up with each expansion, more people will be spending more time leveling at the top end, and naturally the supply of money will continue to increase. I don’t know if this will lead to previously exotic items becoming more commonplace or not. There might be other factors keeping a lid on the supply of motorcycles. Perhaps they require items which have a carefully regulated supply. (I have no idea, I’m just thinking out loud here.) In that case these things would actually get more expensive as the supply of motorcycles remains flat and the amount of money in the hands of high-level players goes up.

wow_sparkles.jpg

On the other end of the spectrum we have sparkles the wonderhorse. The Celestial Steed is available at the Blizzard store for $25 of real money. It scales upward with you. At level 20, it’s just a regular mount. But once you have fast mount training it will go fast, and once you have flying mount training it will fly. If you buy it, all characters on your account have access to it.

Despite the different means of regulating their supply, the motorcycle and the Celestial Steed are about equally rare in my experience.

wow_achievements.jpg

The achievements system. Unlike single-player games where achievements will be tied to your profile, these operate on a per-character basis. You can really see what parts of the game interest me here.

Enjoyed this post? Please share!


is a programmer, an author, and nearly a composer. He works on this site full time. If you’d like to support him, you can do so via Patreon or PayPal.

A Hundred!2014There are 134 comments here. I really hope you like reading.

From the Archives:

  1. Meatloaf says:

    Goodness! You must teach us the secrets of the Hover-Lion. This could be a breakthrough in lion-related technology across the globe!

    • Drue says:

      you can also wand on the node yourself and mine it out. I did this all the time back when I played. I started doing it because I thought it was funny but then it became habit.

  2. Nathon says:

    When the celestial steed came out, Dalaran was choked with the things. They were so common that they were boring within 3 or 4 days. I still see them from time to time, but mostly on lowbies. I think most people got bored with them pretty fast.

  3. ehlijen says:

    The unfortunate truth is that there are people as little versed in english as whoever wrote that and then it’s only one missing ‘r’ that clues them in to the true nature of the message. I’ve seen smart people fall for worse tricks, simply because noone’s told them such tricks exist.

    • Lambach says:

      The missing “r” and the whole plate of grammatical nonsense that makes up the rest of the message.

    • Nyaz says:

      I have to say I actually didn’t pick up on the missing ‘r’ at first, however, EVERYTHING else sounded a massive scam-alarm.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      That, and the fact that spammmers, scammers and whoever will mostly go to as much effort as they have to in order to achieve something. E-mail spam used to look like that, too, or fake internet sites. Only after most people learned about these things and (slooowly) became immune to badly copied websites, those people started making good copies.
      The last fake mail I got that looked like it was from a bank actually contained fewer spelling errors than that bank’s own website …

      If you know that one percent of your prospective victimes will fall for your trap, why take more care? Especially if you’re not a native English speaker and there are plenty of other non-natives who for lack of language skill will be happy to understand some of what the message is supposed to mean.

      If you’re always fishing among the most gullible (or unknowing) 1% of the population, that makes live a lot easier for you. Plus: All your victims will think they’re stupid, and that will often save you from prosecution.

  4. Scourge says:

    Ah, that whisper reminds me of the old times of Diablo 2 when the new patch 1.08 it was I believe, came out. Many scammers would make fake Blizzard characters to get you to send them your account and your password to steal it from you.

    It was fun to send them wrong information, ask if everything was alright, see they were offline already and then wait with a big grin until they’d log in again and insult you when you ask if your account would be saved.

    Ah yes, the good old times.

  5. Hal says:

    You’d really think the scammers would, at some point, bother to learn english so that they might reasonably seem like they work for “Blizzad.” Because they don’t, it would seem that they get enough return on investment as is. Which doesn’t say much for the people who fall for it.

    (As someone who was hit with a keylogger, though, I guess I don’t have much room to talk.)

    The price of the motorcycle is partly supply-and-demand; it requires a lot of titansteel, which is very expensive, or at least it used to be. I think one piece goes for ~100g these days. Those materials will be less common when the new expansion comes out and people aren’t sleeping in large piles of the Northrend materials, so the price will probably reflect that rarity. At the same time, the motorcycle requires a lot of materials that are simply bought from vendors, so there’s sort of a baked-in cost to crafting the thing. It’s always going to have a minimum price, which will still be ridiculous, of course.

    The WoW economy is always going to be screwy, mostly because the proliferation of money means that some players will be willing to pay outlandish costs for rare (or even less common) items. This partly due to people buying gold, but also to blame are the people who have figured out how to game the auction house to such a degree that they have literally reached the “gold cap.” I can’t really fault the latter; all they’ve done is use a little economic knowledge plus the tools Blizzard allows/makes available to earn ridiculous sums of money.

    Although if you’re having trouble with the motorcycle as part of the fantasy setting, you should really get someone to take you into Ulduar someday.

    • Hal says:

      Oh, and re: Barrens . . . When I first tried WoW on the 10 day free trial, I started an Orc Shaman. That character stalled out when it was time for me to head to the Barrens. It was too big, navigation was not intuitive, finding quest objectives was almost impossible for me . . . suffice it to say I did not have a good experience with the zone.

      I’ve learned a lot about playing the game since then, and Blizzard has vastly improved the tools used for questing, but I still don’t care for it. If nothing else, it’s far too bland. Too much brown.

      • Steve C says:

        Shamus I’m surprised you used the Barrens as an example of a beautiful zone. I hate the Barrens for the same reasons Hal doesn’t like them (art, size, quest logistics). My first character was a Horde character. The Barrens were so bad it turned me off the Horde entirely. Best thing I’ve heard about the next expansion is that the Barrens are going to be blown up and completely destroyed.

        • Shamus says:

          Yeah, I can see how it would be miserable to try and quest there. I was there on a sight-seeing tour, over-leveled, and on a mount. If’ I’d been on foot, trying to quest, and having to fight some scrub every eight meters, I would have gotten sick of it quickly.

          • Even worse, Alliance warlocks, in order to get a Voidwalker, had a quest that took them there. It was really rough on a PvP server, not to mention working your way through the swamp from the boat at the level you got the quest.

            A rough walk.

      • Someone says:

        I remember how annoying it was just hiking across Barrens to get to those two instances with Hogmen, on the very border of the zone. And then there was this one time I tried to get Savory Deviate Delight recipe…

        I used to wonder how awful it was to level there as a Horde. Granted the Alliance has Westfall wich is also overly brown and pretty uncomfortable to navigate, but its about half the size Barrens and it has the awesome Deadmines.

    • Will says:

      To be fair, a motorcycle in a dark-ages setting sounds pretty much exactly like fantasy to me. I don’t recall fantasy being technologically restricted.

      In Warcraft, that kind of rediculous steam punk is pretty much what the Goblins and Gnomes are all about, and it works for them. Then you’ve got the Titans running indistinguishable-from-magic, often magically powered supercomputers, which fits their whole ‘super advanced race of godlike beings’ theme down to a T, on the opposite end you’ve got the Old Gods, which fits their ‘really powerful but dumb’ theme, and then in the middle you have everyone else, including factions like the Burning Legion who employ demonically possessed stone robots (Infernals) amongst other things.

      If you think about it, in a setting like Warcraft where magic really is everyday and machines can be built to use magic like petrol, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t have cars and planes. I mean realistically how long would it take before someone thinks to attach one of those magical crystals to a cart in the place of a horse and then ho damn, we have us a car.

      When you have magic that operates like Warcraft’s magic, not having advanced technology would seem strange.

      The Barrens is, well, The Barrens. It’s actually a good zone with some really nice quests (although the Wailing Caverns are pretty horrible, took me about a dozen runs before i could reliably navigate that hellhole, and many people never can) the problem is it’s about 20 – 30% bigger than it really needs to be.

      It wouldn’t be an issue, except that The Barrens is a mid-level zone, which means no mounts. Navigating The Barrens would be much more tolerable if you had a mount the whole time, even with mounts at 20 now, you still have to do your initial questing in there on foot, which is a pain in ass.

      I remember my second character i ran through the Barrens, i carefully parsed all his quests so that i went around clockwise, doing each set of quests in a chunk, which saved me from wasting hours running back and forth. In the end i still had half a dozen quests to do, but by that point i was high enough to go somewhere else, so i did.

      • Shamus says:

        To respond to this and everyone else who made the same point:

        I wasn’t objecting to the existence of motorcycles, only to the possibility that everyone would have them. Warcraft has always had a dash of steampunk, but I don’t think it would do the setting credit if we jumped into a full-on automotive age.

        • Will says:

          Pff, high-end Warcraft is way past the automotive age. The entire Goblin and Gnome civilizations are both well into the Cold War era, the Naaru and, as a result, the Draenei are space-age, as are the Burning Legion, and the Titans are so technologically advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic.

          Warcraft left behind it’s Lord of the Rings roots some time around Warcraft II when the Goblins and Gnomes turned up with Zeppelins, Helicopters and Submarines.

          World of Warcraft has actually gone backwards, technologically, from the second war. Entire fleets of submarines and aircraft were fielded in that war, the only reason they weren’t used more extensively is because the subs were competing with island sized giant turtles and the helicopters had to compete with dragons.

          The Dwarves and Gnomes still field divisions of Tanks and Helicopters, respectively, while the Goblins run around in Zeppelins, Space Rockets and Cars. The technology is already highly evolved, it’s just not very dispersed.

          • AnZsDad says:

            Let me preface this comment by explaining that I have not played WoW since pre-BC (Burning Crusades, NOT Before Christ, you smart-assed young punks). So a lot of the things you guys have mentioned are just outside of my radar. I can look it up if I really need to know, however. My Google-fu is strong.

            That said, a couple of comments prior to mine refer to the Titans and their “indistinguishable-from-magic” technology. In a world where magic is so prevalent and commonplace, why would you need something to be indistinguishable from magic? Why wouldn’t it just be magic?

            • Erik says:

              “In a world where magic is so prevalent and commonplace, why would you need something to be indistinguishable from magic? Why wouldn’t it just be magic?”

              Because the old saw of “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” cuts more than one way. The Titans have vast and wondrous machines within their lairs, and they are advanced to the point where they may run on magic, or tech, or a mixture – we are just not advanced enough to tell. Why wouldn’t it be magic? Maybe it is….

              (My personal favorite formulation of that thought is “Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.”)

              • Hitch says:

                I like the phrase someone used to describe D&Ds Eberron setting (which applies just as well to World of Warcraft). They called it an “inverse-Clarke” where the magic was sufficiently advanced as to be indistinguishable from technology. Face it, nothing a WoW “engineer” builds is based on any sort of scientific principles, they’re all pure magic which just happen to look like mechanical devices.

                • Adeon says:

                  Or to put it another way: “Any sufficiently analyzed magic is indistinguishable from Science”. If you have magic which is stable and repeatable enough to be analyzed then realistically it’s no longer magic and is a form of technology. (as opposed to magitek where you use magic to replicate technology).

          • Arquinsiel says:

            It left behind it’s LotR roots after the deal with Games Workshop fell through and the Warhammer roots were left behind. Warhammer left it’s Elric roots behind back when… well never really, there’s a lot of stuff still in there. Elric left his LotR roots behind…. eh…. well he sort of never had any, being written at the same time.

        • Dys says:

          Almost all of the mounts in WoW are functionally identical to one another. They all increase movement speed, everything else is cosmetic. Because of this, which mount you actually use is largely a personal choice, people like to pick mounts which reflect their own character, or possibly just their favourite colours.

          Some people like the motorbikes, and sure they’re cool, but they’re noisy, and a bit too steampunk for a lot of players, so even if everyone had one, I doubt everyone would RIDE one.

          Also, the more people have them, the less cool they are. A lot of the reason ppl pay 16k gold for one is to look different to everyone else. When the level cap increases again, there will be new rare mounts which the rich and powerful will aquire, and flaunt.

          ‘Oh, you have a motorbike? How cute! I had one of those back when they were cool. Check out my new goblin Limousine!’

          • lazlo says:

            Mounts are only mostly identical, function-wise. There are variations in speed, sure. Some can fly. Some can take passengers. One can do both (but you have to push WoW on your previously-non-WoW-playing friends to get that one) The chopper is cool in part because it can take a passenger, though for the money I’d rather have the mammoth that A) can carry two passengers and B) when summoned, has useful vendors in those passenger slots (I would sorely love to see Blizzard let you set a “cut percentage” on summoned vendors, so that you got a share of their revenue, but I digress…)

            Now, I’ve seen lots of choppers around, but primarily in Dalaran and in the open space between the bank and AH in IronForge. Those are places where you have a combination of lots of high-end characters, plus an inability to use flying mounts. Those are the two places where the chopper is likely to be the coolest looking useful mount you have (plus I think some people in IF are just showing off that they’ve got one). Other that that, the only real utilitarian purpose the chopper has is to let you help your lowbie friends get their explorer achievements. (Curious if you started at level 1, how much XP would you get from exploring everywhere?)

            The unique thing about the sparklyhorses is that you can mount them anywhere that anything is mountable, and they’ll always be as good as your best choice (unless you need to take passengers, or the mammoth vendors). This makes things slightly easier, as you can just have one default mount choice. Personally, I’ve got a macro that mounts my best flying mount if I can, and falls through to my best horse if not. That’s a small hoop, and certainly not worth $25 to avoid, but it explains to me why I see a lot of choppers in one or two places, but I see sparklyhorses everywhere

            • MichaelG says:

              When the mammoth and motorcycle first came out, they were basically immune to damage from falls, and so were you while riding them. So you could jump the motorcycle from the zeppelin in Icecrown, falling, falling, falling, down to the barrier mountains, and then jumping in stages down to the glacier. It was a blast!

              Then they nerfed it and I hated that I had spent 16,000 gold on it. Almost made me quit the game.

            • Choppers used to prevent you from taking damage — so you could jump off mountains in them, etc. That was pretty neat before they fixed it.

              Engineers make a number of flying mounts they can’t sell/trade — which is too bad (not because I want to see more gyrocopters, but because if Engineers could, then so could tailors, and that is the one thing I miss about not having a tailor any more — I really enjoyed the flying carpets).

        • Hal says:

          Well, apparently the playable Goblins in Cataclysm will have go-karts for mounts, so . . .

        • Steve C says:

          Is the problem that everyone will have a motorcycle or is that everyone will use them? For example I have a motorcycle on my main character. But I also have over 100 other mounts. This is not uncommon. Many people at max level have a crazy number of mounts and you can only use one.

          In the previous expansion there was a flying machine gyro-copter thing. It was very expensive. I didn’t get one back then because it was expensive. When the Lich King came out we had rampant inflation in the economy and the gyro-copters didn’t seem so expensive. I got myself two of them. I don’t remember the last time I used one of those… a long time. I have new cooler mounts I prefer. When the next expansion comes out there will be a new “must have” mount and people will forget about the motorcycle just like we’ve all forgotten about the gyro-copter.

          Warcraft isn’t about the having. It’s about the wanting.

        • Wayoffbase says:

          If I am not mistaken, motorcycles and the gyrocoptors mentioned below require that the user have a certain high level of engineering skill to actually use. Even if you have one and then abandon the skill, you wouldn’t be able to use it anymore. I remember Blizzard say something along the lines of “engineering is the skill that has a lot of fun and nifty devices for the engineer to use,” so as long as the items are exclusive there won’t be a large proliferation of them like that. They’re also compensating for the fact that engineering was nearly worthless back in vanilla.

          • Psychoceramics says:

            nope. anyone can drive a motorcycle. I have one on my Leatherworking/Skinner main.

            The barrier for the motorcycle is the 12k in materials you can only buy from a vendor, plus other mats that can be farmed.

            gyrocopters do require engineering to use, however.

          • Veloxyll says:

            Gyrocopters require engineering, but Motorcycles do not. Just like flying carpets and Tailoring.

            As for motorbikes being too steampunk for the setting – We’ve had mechanical chickens to ride since launch. They’re bought next to equally mechanical steam tanks. The Ironforge -> Menethil flight path takes you over an airport which has airplanes. Oh, and there’s the Deeprun Tram and all of Gnomregan. Plus the Horde has Zepplins.

            As for not seeing many motorbikes – people all have their favourite mounts that they’ll use, and some of us do have a LOT of mounts (my paladin has nearly 80, though 15 or so of those are 40% speed or 150% flying speed so are a bit slower than I’d like), but eventually we just use the mounts we like best and the others get to sit in our mount menu and feel lonely and unloved. Even mounts that took a lot of work, like my Netherdrakes.

    • Dev Null says:

      I feel the compulsive need to contribute to like the longest Shamus comment thread ever, but also:

      I loved the Barrens. I like how the stark grasslands are interspersed with lush oases, and I loved zebracorns (or whatever theyre really called.)

      Wow economy is very strange, in that yes, more money floods into the game and inflation is massive, but then theres the fact that many of the materials that used to be necessary for top-level itmes / enchants / whatever at level 60 and were therefore hideously expensive when that was the cap, are now mostly useless and ignored. (But then again, some of those can be sold for good money just because noone can be bothered to slog all the way back to the old world to collect them.)

  6. gebiv says:

    I don’t know… steampunk seems to fit into my image of a fantasy setting.

    :D

  7. Bodyless says:

    I am pretty sure the only reason why they used “Blizzad” instead of “Blizzard” is that you cannot make a character with the name “Blizzard”.

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Exactly. Though I would use ‘BIizzard’, or ‘Bllzzard’, or ‘8lizzard’, or ‘Blizzarb’ – you know, abuse the similar-looking characters rather than not use them at all.

      • Jordi says:

        Perhaps those names were already taken. I have to admit that it fooled me for a second though. However, the illiteracy of the message screwed that right up. It seems that a lot of scams (in WoW or otherwise) suffer from this and I really wonder why. Like Hal said, apparently they’re already getting a return on investment, but I think it would probably be several magnitudes higher if the messages would be believable and at least grammatically correct.

        Then again, maybe the writer doesn’t realize he made errors. I wonder if it would be possible to guess a scammers country of origin or first language based on the errors they make. For instance, Chinese people tend to forget articles (the, a), presumably because their language doesn’t have them. But I can’t make anything of Shamus’s example.

        • Will says:

          Judging by the grammar usage, i’d guess Indian.

        • Dev Null says:

          I’m not sure about the assumption that its already working. I know some scammers must be making dosh, but do these guys with the badly mangled English succeed much? I don’t know; they tend to not publish their books.

          On the other hand, maybe they do this on purpose, but they’re deliberately targetting gold farmers, who are traditionally from non-English-speaking countries. Hah! That would be an amusing case or scammer ecology feeding upon itself! Alas, it doesn’t seem likely…

          • Atarlost says:

            Actually, that makes a sort of sense. Non-English-literate people and gold farmers are both less likely to complain to the management if they get scammed allowing the scam to run longer before being shut down.

      • ACHV_Dragon says:

        Wow, that first one is just spot on good for tricking people. If I hadn’t known you listing fakes, I’d have thought you just said the actual name of B1izzard. Now I’m scared… but won’t be fooled obviously, cause I wait the hour. But a scary first few minutes.

      • Meredith says:

        It’s actually better to leave out a letter like that. Readers’ brains tend to auto-correct to what they expect to see rather than what’s there; inserting other similar characters is more jarring to the eye. I actually didn’t notice that it said Blizzad rather than Blizzard until someone pointed it out, and I know I wasn’t the only one.

        • SnowballinHell says:

          yeah it got me too
          but on occasions like this i like to blame my dyslexia
          hurray for handicaps

        • Felblood says:

          A transversion would actually be the way to go to exploit that, so your name would be Blizzrad, or Blzziard(naturally you keep the double z together). The tall lowercase l is likely to be a problem, since putting it in the middle of a word could set off alarm bells.

          The thing is: I never read the from line. You eye skips right to the message when you get a tell or whisper, and then you read the from line after you parse the message.

          I had to scroll up and see where the word Blizzad appeared in the screenshot, because it wasn’t in the message itself.

      • Joe Cool says:

        BIizzard and 8lizzard are not allowable character names. Only the first letter can be capitalized, and no numbers are allowed in names.

  8. Gilmoriël says:

    The motorcycle mounts are actually a crafted item. You need to have your engineering at the highest level and you need to be exalted with the main faction in Northrend before you’re allowed to buy the design schematic. You also need a large amount (or what was considered to be a large amount at the time) of a metal that can only be smelted by a miner of the highest level. The smelting of this metal was originally on a very high cooldown. As for most of the other base components? Well, they can only be purchased (in limited supply) from one vendor and they will always cost you about 11,000 gold (no discounts).

    As for the bending of the fantasy setting I would have to point out that there have been steampunk mechanical devices in warcraft since its RTS origins: “I’ve got a flying machine!”. In fact in the burning crusade they introduced the flying machine mounts, and after you’ve seen people fly around a fantasy setting in an airplane/helicopter a motorcycle doesn’t really seem that much out of place.

  9. Chilango2 says:

    Granted, it doesn’t fit into a generic fantasy setting, but it fits into the *Warcraft* setting just fine. The Warcraft world, with its steam tanks, dirigibles, the entire city of Gnomeregan, flintlock muskets, robots of various sizes, purposes and origins, including what amount to giant mecha, and so on, is already pretty darn steampunk, if you ask me.

  10. Vegedus says:

    The “is complains” and “need to site validate” reminds me of that Yahoo Answers, “how i babby formed”. You know the one. The grammar is garbled the same way. Wonder if it’s some specific languages that have trouble with it?

    • SKD says:

      From what I have seen English has a different sentence/grammar structure from most other languages. One of the first things a native english speaker has to learn when learning a new language is the different syntax.

    • Nathan says:

      In both of the bad-english sentences you just used, the writer was mistakenly using subject-object-verb (SOV) order in English, which is a subject-verb-object (SVO) language. This is a very common mistake for people from other languages to make, because SOV order is far and away the most common grammatical order among human languages. The fact that English has SVO order is something that makes it a little peculiar. Of course, there are also a great many languages where word order is nowhere near as important to meaning as it is in English, so they would have to work a bit hard just to get used to the idea that it is important to order your words in a particular way in English…

      • pneuma08 says:

        Not to mention many languages don’t have definite and indefinite articles (especially outside of Europe), and don’t use a separate word to form infinitives. Some languages also informally drop the subject altogether, preferring it implied, which sounds strange in English since we only do that to form a command, or when being particularly terse (and even then it doesn’t always apply). There are other quirks, too – Japanese doesn’t have a future tense at all, for instance, so translating something as simple as Schwarzenegger’s iconic “I’ll be back” line from Terminator into that language would prove problematic.

        This is one reason why language translation is a hard problem, and why computer translation screws up now and again (or often).

  11. Mark says:

    I would pay a preposterous amount of money for a World of Warcraft which:

    1) Had lifetime subscriptions so I didn’t feel like I had to play constantly to get my money’s worth.
    2) Gave you most of the EXP you needed not from random kill-X-of-Y quests but from the instanced dungeons and boss fights and special monsters and such.
    3) Didn’t charge a monthly fee.
    4) Aforementioned random kill-X-of-Y quests rewarded you with things needed for your profession rather than your class, so that you’d do them because you had a plan for something to use the reward on rather than just because it’s there.
    5) Could be purchased with a single lump sum.
    6) Had a less smooth continuum of equipment, so that upgrading is more significant and you could have your choice of several equivalent pieces when you do go to upgrade, enhancing customization.
    7) Ditched the subscription model.
    8) Had some way to keep random strangers from stupiding things up when you’re trying to get immersed in the wilderness. Possibly lower-population servers, or some friends-of-friends computations to make people unrelated to you invisible when in a supposedly unpopulated area?
    9) Could be purchased with a single transaction.
    10) Had decent NPC hirelings available for any purpose, no questions asked, so soloers could do the group content (albeit in an adulterated form) if they wanted.
    11) Lacked recurring payments.
    12) Choppped off or spruced up the bottom fifteen levels or so, the quicker to get out of the Everquest-like phase of fighting wild animals one-on-one with the same simple pattern of attacks over and over again. The world doesn’t need more than one game consisting so heavily of that.
    13) Didn’t make you feel like you had to play because you already paid for a finite amount of time that will run out whether you use it or not.
    14) Showed a bit more restraint with respect to shoulder pads.
    15) Was populated by, if not fewer idiots, then at least less conspicuous idiots. This could be achieved by switching to a business model that doesn’t rely exclusively on the patronage of suckers willing to play a game that goes away when they stop paying.

    World of Warcraft is terrifyingly close to being a game I could love. I’ve lost so many people to it that I’m almost glad that Blizzard is unwilling to meet my hard-line stance.

    • Mark says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of bitter. The game truly frightens me and harping on subscription fees is how I stay in denial about it.

    • Will says:

      You might want to check out Guild Wars if you’re so against the whole subscription thing.

    • MrWhales says:

      Reading your posts, Blizzard really should have some form of “lifetime” sub fee. I would probably have an account then, if they didnt freeze it up if you hadn’t played for awhile. I don’t know, thinking.

      • Will says:

        Realistically, why would they offer such a thing? World of Warcraft was released near the end of 2004, now keeping in mind that the bigger the ‘block’ you subscribe for, the less you pay for each individual month, assuming a life-time subscription comes to $10 per month and assuming Blizzard plan for WoW to have a 10 year lifespan, which seems about right based on how the game is going at the moment, you’re looking at $1200 for a lifetime subscription.

        Why in gods name would you pay that much for a game? At least, all at once. Paying that in $15 increments that can be cancelled when you finally have enough, or stopped for awhile and then restarted later if you decide you want to start playing again, that i can understand. But $1200 up front? That’s absurd.

        If you’re going to object to the cost of the game, at least be honest with yourself and say it’s because you don’t think the game is worth $15 per month, not because you object to subscriptions.

        • Mark says:

          I’m well aware that if I subscribed I’d probably end up paying less. However, there’s a psychological element: if I buy a month of time, then effectively, every day that I don’t play the game costs me fifty cents. (Well, okay, thirty-three cents if I bought time in bulk.) Not playing will feel like wasting money, even if I’d rather play something else – which I often do. Sometimes I will put a game down for weeks at a time only to pick it up again for an hour here or there. That’s the way I enjoy them: on my own terms.

          I don’t want to pay for something that I won’t use. I’d rather have an hourly fee that only charges me for the time that I do play, rather than a monthly fee that charges me for the time that I might play. Though both are inferior to paying once and being done with it.

          • Dys says:

            I feel that’s a flaw in your perception of the subscription model, rather than in the model itself.

            As Will pointed out, a flat sum for wow would be truly insane. I’ve calculated how much it’s cost me over the years, and it almost causes me physical pain to see the number written down. Nobody would pay it, nobody would want to.

            I wonder, do you have TV? I know we pay for sat. TV by monthly subscription, and yet I don’t feel the need to sit and watch it 24 hours a day, to get my money’s worth.

            The payment is to allow you access to the game whenever you want to play it, it has nothing in my mind to do with how much time I spend playing.

            To each his own, and I’m not trying to be hostile here.
            Just think a slight change of perspective could be all you need to enjoy the game.

            • Mark says:

              Well, I do pay for the internet, but I also use the internet a lot every day, and there is no alternative to the internet. I’ve got lots of other games, on the other hand, and with those games there won’t be any consequences if I just don’t feel like playing them for a few days, or six weeks, or a year. I don’t know in advance whether I’m going to feel like even booting them up at all for a month, but if I’m subscribing, that lack of knowledge means putting me in a stressful situation: I might pay but then end up not playing, or I might not pay but then not be able to play if I want to. I play games to relax and escape from the various self-induced pressures of being a tightwad, and the subscription model is counterintuitive there.

              No hostility was inferred, and I do recognize that this is a matter of perspective – my previous accusation that the umpty-million current players are by definition suckers was facetious – but also a matter of taste. I’m terribly fickle, and no game is good enough to make me less fickle without giving me a chance to sink my teeth into it first, much less one that still has DikuMUD DNA in it.

          • Adam P says:

            60 hours is how much Blizzard was expecting the average person to play each month. That’s about $0.25 per hour of game time. It would actually have been higher, but they also factored in the cost for regular Tuesday maintenance.

        • Df458 says:

          15$ a month?! Isn’t that a bit much?

        • Jep jep says:

          Well, considering I paid for my Lotro lifetime sub for around 200€, (around year and a halfs worth), I don’t see why you’d have to be paying so ridiculous prices. It obviously is a small sacrifice on potential future payments, but they’ll get in return more dedicated players for the core community (which are often the lifeblood of mmos). You’d think Blizzard could afford at least somesort of limited lifetime offer easier than Turbine anyway considering just the amount of regular subscriptions they have.

          Not that WoW would be short of dedicated players. As far as I’ve understood, Turbine just figured it’s a small risk for the sake of building a better community for the future.

    • acronix says:

      I like how all your odd numbers are a different repetition of 1), except for 15). And following what Will said, I was expecting you to end it all with a “Until then, I´ll just play Guild Wars.”

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Then again, Guild wars is infinitely better than Wow in a myriad of ways, as the recently-posted treatise here shows. If only Shamus hadn’t brought that board head, we’d know even more about that.

        • BaCoN says:

          I don’t know about that ‘infinitely better’ part. I’ve played both – I even left WoW for a bit to play Warhammer, Guild Wars and Champions Online – and yet I’m still playing WoW.

          • Will says:

            World of Warcraft cannot really claim to be new or original in it’s core gameplay elements, but it can claim to be executed beautifully.

            And that’s why it’s so successful: WoW isn’t anything new, it’s something old that has been refined and perfected.

            That’s what i always miss from all the other MMO’s i’ve played, especially Turbine’s work and Guild Wars; that level of polish. Blizzard are renowned for quality games and it really shows when you compare World of Warcraft to it’s competetors; it’s not new, or even better, it’s just more finished.

  12. Mad says:

    Not only do they not bother to learn / get some decent english sentences, NO, they even approach you in english on German / French / Spanish realms! Its really hilarious. ( Of course GM’s are native speakers ).

    But since they keep on doing it, most probably some people fall for it.

  13. OEP says:

    Wow isn’t classic fantasy. The Night elves and humans are more in line with classic fantasy. The dwarves and gnomes are more steampunk. The Forsaken are gothic horror. If the motorcycles seem odd, did you never notice the gigantic steam powered metal siege tanks outside ironforge?

    And here is an example of one of the reasons why I play wow.

    As you come out of the dwarf starter area towards Kharanos, you come across a couple of npc’s named Shorty and Angus. They enact a scripted event.

    If you don’t have time to go see for yourself, here is a video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lugkFfTfjMU

  14. Rack says:

    The way I see it anything that only level 80 characters have is rare, even if every level 80 character has it and every character is level 80. It’s just part of the general way MMOs make no sense in that a world in which 95% of the populace are super-powered heroes can have any threats at all.

    • acronix says:

      Or in which super-powered heroes have their butts handed back to them in a daily basis by the local fauna.

      • Will says:

        By Warcraft standards, level 80’s aren’t superpowered at all. It takes 40 level 80 characters to bring down Arthas, and that’s after he gets his ass handed to him by the new plague.

        Level 80’s are powerful, but the Warcraft universe is defined by beings of far, far greater power.

        • neothoron says:

          Haven’t played for some time, have you?

          It takes 10 80-level people to beat Arthas now.

        • acronix says:

          ..are you saying the Lich King is part of the local fauna?!

        • OEP says:

          And the “new plague” didn’t do anything to hand Arthas either his ass or any other parts of his anatomy.

          And the beings or far greater power are level 83 :)

          Keep in mind that during the course of wow, you will slay the following:

          Vanilla wow:
          Ragnaros (an elemental fire god)
          Nefarian (the son of one of the five dragon aspects, basically dragon gods)
          Onyxia (the daughter of the same aspect)
          Hakkar (a troll Blood god)
          Ossirian (A gigantic stone servant of the dark gods)
          C’Thun (a gigantic lovecraftian old god)

          TBC:
          Prince Malchezaar (A demon lord)
          Gruul (a gigantic one eyed critter reknowned for killing dragons)
          Magtheridon (a demon lord)
          Lady Vashj (a 10 thousand year old naga queen)
          Kaelthas Sunstrider (prince of the blood elves)
          Illidan Stormrage (demon hunter turned demon lord)
          Archimonde (demon lord)
          Zuljin (troll leader)
          KilJaeden (demon lord and leader of the Burning Legion)

          WotLK
          Kelthuzad (lich lord)
          Yogg Saron (old god)
          Anubarak (undead nerubian king)
          Arthas the Lich King (lord of the scourge)

          And this is just the end bosses of the various raid instances.

          • Will says:

            Actually boss creatures have no level. For the to-hit percentage and other statistics which are based off level they’re treated as 83, but their ‘level’ is technically defined as ‘Boss’.

            Several of the guys you list there don’t actually end up dead or are fought in a weakened condition, or both, Kael’Thas for example survives the assault, and Ragnaros is not only summoned in a weakened state but is only banished back to the plane of fire when you kill him.

            You also might want to watch the battle at the Wrathgate movie again, Arthas eats a face-full of the new plague and is forced to retreat (keep in mind that until that point he was winning). The related quests mention several times that Arthas was weakened by the new plague, and you can confirm that on wowwiki if you like.

  15. Alex says:

    Regarding the scammer whisper in the first screenshot:

    I was sitting here thinking about how, for me, that whisper trips at least six different red flags for me and ought to in “anybody with the common sense God gave driveway gravel”, but then I realized that a casual player might not:

    1. Have read up obsessively (or at all) about Blizzard and WoW and might assume that the game is based out of somewhere where English isn’t the native language,

    2. Have read Blizzard’s notices, in loading-screen tips and elsewhere, about the clearly defined ways in which customers will receive official communication,

    3. Realize that game administrator messages always come from a name beginning with “GM”,

    4. Know that official WoW-related websites will only be on one or two possible domain names (and even that’s changed a bit recently),

    5. Have enough of a feel for how the game is run to realize for a (misspelled, untagged) GM to discipline them for an offensive as vague as “complaints by other players” is extremely unlikely,

    6. Realize that unlike some software companies, Blizzard isn’t quite cavalier enough about abusing their users to tell one of them, “jump through these hoops in the next 60 minutes or you’re not allowed to purchase our service any more.”

    The sad fact is, unless you’re a lifer online gamer (and that, by design, describes less and less of the WoW subscriber base), that whisper looks perfectly plausible, if a little odd and sloppy. But then, a lot of communication from software companies that don’t manage their communications as assiduously as Blizzard looks odd and sloppy, so the Engrish in that whisper is more likely to make the average end-user chuckle than trigger a red flag.

    Ironically, though, when I go to the URL in the spam message, Firefox throws up a big red “this website has been identified as malware” message. Although devotees of “free to play” Facebook and Flash-based games may well be accustomed to ignoring and/or deactivating security warnings too. /sigh

  16. Dys says:

    There’s an interesting spectrum of spam, in my experience. From the whispers like this one to the level 1 warriors with random names who just say ‘hello’ and wait for you to respond before asking if you’d like to buy gold.

    But they’re not all so obvious.
    I have received a number of e-mails ‘from’ blizzard.com
    containing exact copies of official blizzard communications
    with the correct blizzard.com domain in the link

    They look EXACTLY like a legit blizzard email, the only way to tell they’re not is to examine the actual target of the link, which you find is to some alternate hacker domain which will happily take your account details.

    If you think some people fall for the dodgy misspelled whispers with obviously fake domains, how many are taken in by something so much more sophisticated…

  17. Rick says:

    Yikes, Shamus! I hope you sent them your credit card information and SSN, too.

  18. Jep jep says:

    If not for the bad grammar, that URL is a dead giveaway right there. I think the random whackos who occasionally spam whatever nonsense are what worry me more. The E-beggars, “loansharks”, weirdos, lvl 1s asking the most random questions. /ignore sure made me happier playing the game. Sadly.

  19. Duffy says:

    Interesting note:

    While it may seem silly now, the floating trick is actually important in certain higher level mining areas. You will find nodes that sometimes sit in precarious environments that would normally drop you to your death when the node disappeared. They aren’t incredibly common but they could occur if not for the “bug”.

  20. Greg says:

    I just got a phishing email telling me that something was wrong with my WoW account. It looked fairly convincingly official, apart from the fact that the final page link was to eu.blizzard.accountconfirm.com. I can easily imagine somebody who doesn’t know much about how domain names work falling for that one. I was never in any danger, of course, since I’ve never played WoW and don’t have an account to compromise.

  21. rofltehcat says:

    Hm… haven’t played WoW in over 1.5 years and sometimes I still get phishing emails from “wowaccountadmin” who tells me that my account will be suspended if I don’t verify my password.
    Once Mr. wowaccountadming even told me to “contact blizzard support” so my AION account doesn’t get banned. Yeah, you read that right. AION and blizzard support. Those phishing guys seem to have some sort of creative impudence.

    That I still get those emails tells me that obviously there are too many stupid people on the internet who walk into their traps.

  22. KnightLight says:

    I picked up the World Explorer achievement/tabard before I quit, too.
    Exploration’s what I’m all about.

  23. Jack says:

    “The Barrens is an amazingly beautiful savanna”.
    The Barrens is not an amazingly beautiful savanna; it is, in fact, barren. It is a giant hellhole with miles between anything of even slight interset. The entire zone is built up of mostly flat, ugly looking ground. For the horde it’s the land of dull, badly written, badly designed quests, 90% of which is taken up by looking for, or walking to, your next objective. For the alliance it is a tortuous land innocent players are dragged to for class quests if they don’t know better; a land of naught but running and being ganked. It is a land where the prose of even the most well spoken intellectual is reduced, within minutes, to gems of dialog such as “OMG NOOB U shud go to in water for lol mankirks wife lol!”. The only thing of interest is the occasional raid on the Crossroads. And that’s interesting more because of a morbid fascination at how griefers are able to make even the barrens more irritating, a feat previously thought impossible.

    I’m very glad it’s getting half destroyed in cataclysm, and the increased Alliance presence in the area will at least add some interest to the otherwise monotonous land; though, personally, I feel Blizzard aren’t going far enough. It’s shouldn’t just be half destroyed; it should be wiped off the map entirely. Whether sunken entirely into the sea, or simply turned into a warp field; teleporting players instantly from Mulgore and Dustwallow to Thousand Needles, it should be destroyed.

  24. Ian says:

    If you want to experience another fun mining-related bug, do the following:

    1) Roll a druid.
    2) Teach aforementioned druid mining.
    3) Buy a mining pick.
    4) Shapeshift into any animal shape.
    5) Find a copper ore vein (or whatever your mining skill allows).
    6) Walk up to the aforementioned vein.
    7) Right-click on the aforementioned vein.
    8) Watch in amazement as your character automatically jumps out of feral form and proceeds to beat the hell out of the rock with his/her bare hands to extract the ore.

    I think the lesson that we learned is a simple one: don’t $*@# with druids.

    • Sumanai says:

      You wouldn’t happen to have a link to a video? Some of us don’t have WoW accounts. Or havent touched it since… before the first expansion.

      • Ian says:

        Not off-hand, no. It’s just something I discovered while mining as a druid.

        Lemme check the YouTubes…

        Edit: Took a quick look and couldn’t find anything. I’ll make a video tonight, if I remember.

        • lazlo says:

          I love druids. Don’t have one now, but love them. (planning to roll a worgen druid alt for Cata).

          Endgame raiding is so worth it just to watch a druid tank as a bear with a rocket strapped to its butt flying through the air in the ICC gunship battle.

  25. Mephane says:

    Weird; I seem to be the only one who absolutely loves the barrens. It’s the one of the few zones where the world actually feels large and where exploration doesn’t feel like going around the corner and you’re done. And yes, I do have quested up and down the whole zone with one of my earliest characters, no mount, nothing, running around barefoot (literally) for hours. I loved it.

    The only problem is the bad quest layout, but not the zone itself. And since all quests will change in Cataclysm, this issue could very well become moot. Oh wait, they’re destroying half of the zone anyway…

    • rofltehcat says:

      Did you turn the chat off?
      The Barrens are often so hated because they were the only (viable) quest area for some levels and because the zone was so huge everyone was in the same chat for like 10 levels, in which they were talking a lot of crap.

      And yeah, the quest layout for the barrens sucks. But as the quest layouts for the areas of BC and (I guess) WotLK were much better that won’t be much of a problem.

      • Veloxyll says:

        There’s that, and in vanilla a lot of the flight paths on Kalimdor took you over the Barrens. So you had level 10-25 characters levelling there, and you had higher level people flying past too, which lead to a lot of nonsense chat (even worse when Silithus got revamped, so 60’s would routinely fly over to farm rep and raid). Now it just self sustains a perpetual level of nonsense not found anywhere else in WoW.

      • Mephane says:

        Well, to be fair, I have always been playing on a so-called “role-playing” server. While this tag is not even barely appropriate given the highly degraded community an almost any RP-Server nowadays, in 2005 it really made a difference. Also, the totally random and technically useless battles for Crossroads were simply awesome; people just gathered to have a good time battling for the sake of it, and so the only people doing it were those enjoying it. Sadly, these were killed by the introduction of the “honor”-system, making people fight for loot rewards and not for the fun anymore.

        Man, those were times… I think I am getting old, already talking like that, heh.

    • Awetugiw says:

      You’re not the only one who likes the Barrens. While questing in it does indeed take a lot of walking around it is one of the two zones (the other being Mulgore) with a very relaxed atmosphere.

      The Barrens are not slow, they’re Tauren-paced.

  26. Ben says:

    Looking at the materials for the chopper,
    http://www.wowhead.com/item=44503#teaches-recipe

    I wouldn’t worry about them proliferating. The cost is mostly due to buying the materials for over 10k gold. The remaining farmable mats will only go up in price as fewer people will be around to farm the mats (cobalt, saronite, and eternal elements). You need 80 cobalt ore, 36 titanium bars (72 titanium ore or 576 saronite ore) as well as 80 each of crystallized fire, earth and shadow. These numbers are pretty huge, and there will still be demand for these items as people need them for leveling their professions, so I can’t ever see the cost going very low.

    This was one of the big “gold sinks” for wrath, especially since most of the money disappears into a vendor’s pockets rather than getting sent to another player. I’m sure cataclysm will introduce several new ones, as well as leaving in things like the other expensive purchasable mounts.

  27. Gandaug says:

    No other Wow post has ever made me want to play WoW less. I made it through about a third of the comments about mounts and such. I couldn’t take anymore after that.

  28. Josh says:

    I’d like to nominate Westfall for one of the most beautiful zones in WoW. You might think that dusty old farmland can’t be attractive, but they really make it work. The scary mechanical scarecrows are great. Moonbrook fits right in with its cracked and aged gray buildings.

    On the other hand, I’d love to know how so many wild boars (goretusks) can survive without livers.

  29. Sean Riley says:

    I have only one problem with the Chopper and Hog (the bikes):

    They’re not steampunk enough.

    C’mon, man! Give ’em some boilers! Copper pipes! A high-backed chair! COGS MAN COGS.

    Motorbikes are utterly in line with World of Warcrafts steampunk comic-fantasy, but play up the punk, man! Play up the punk!

    (By contrast, Shamus, have you see the flying machines yet? They’re awesome. Little gyrocopters!)

  30. HeadHunter says:

    On one hand, I think that MMO scammers are the scum of the Earth.
    On the other hand, if they were actually successfully culling people too stupid to be allowed to play, that wouldn’t necessarily be a Bad Thing.

    Sadly, it just means that the accounts go from being controlled by Mostly Harmless stupid players, to being controlled by malicious gold farmers.

  31. rayen says:

    has anyone actually gone to the spammers site? i can’t get past the front page because i don’t have an account. i mean the first page looks legit. got blizzard trademarks, ESRB approval and such, then again scratch any surface. i’m not suggesting people put in actual info to the login, but if you made the mistake already, what happens?

  32. thebigJ_A says:

    I don’t play WoW.

    You guys are all speaking gobbledygook.

    :)

  33. Guile says:

    This is actually making me want to play WoW again, and I’ve been clean for almost 2 years and counting. Enablers.

    Anyway, I loved Barrens chat. I levelled all my characters there, so I could dive right in to the ridiculous arguments, Chuck Norris jokes, namecalling and general asshattery.

    Good times.

  34. Kdansky says:

    Considering that most WoW-players can consistently fail at “not standing in the fire”, I do not wonder that they fall for such scams too.

    Picture one screen down highly related:
    http://greedygoblin.blogspot.com/2010/07/wed-sat-farm-sun-tue-progression.html

    And 20k gold is not a lot if you seriously play the AH, it will take a few weeks at the most. But then those people who would bother to earn a ton of money without serious work (but serious thinking instead) are not the same people that would bother to buy such a mount, because a cheap mount will suffice. I have not bought more than one expensive mount per tier, ever (I have to admit I bought half a dozen land-mounts, when I got them for pocket change, basically).

  35. […] Shamus explores the Barrens. The whole zone is so clearly African savannah themed, that everytime I go there the Toto song plays in my head. […]

  36. Adeon says:

    Well Shamus, you’ve gotten me to reactivate my WoW account. I hope you’re happy :D.

  37. Josh R says:

    That’s either a terrible screenshot or a very liberal use of the term “beautiful”

One Trackback

  1. By he blessed the raids down in Africa on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 11:41 am

    […] Shamus explores the Barrens. The whole zone is so clearly African savannah themed, that everytime I go there the Toto song plays in my head. […]

Leave a Reply

Comments are moderated and may not be posted immediately. Required fields are marked *

*
*

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun.

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>