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World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor launch-day roundup

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Expansions, Launches, New Titles, News Items, Subscription

The fifth expansion to 2004's World of Warcraft MMO is now live.

First announced at BlizzCon 2013, Warlords of Draenor opened its doors at 3 a.m. EST this morning, so you would be forgiven for having slept through the start. And what would a launch day be without rolling restarts, giant patch notes, and overloaded, bottlenecked entry zones? Wheee!

In honor of the launch, we've rounded up the best WoW and Draenor stories from the past year for your perusal during today's inevitable downtimes. Who's playin'?

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World of Warcraft vows faster expansion development

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Interviews, Subscription

Many Azerothian eyes are fixed on tomorrow's release of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, but what happens after that? Will players face a severe content drought as they just did while they wait for expansion #6?

Lead Game Designer Ion Hazzikostas said that the team is pushing to increase the pace of expansion development: "Our goal is certainly to release expansions a little faster than we have been... we've increased the size of our team, and we feel like we're in a place where we should be able to move faster than before." He also fielded the eternal question of a hypothetical World of Warcraft 2, saying that the team would need "a different vision" and mechanics that allowed for new types of gameplay.

To help with your Warlords of Draenor countdown, Blizzard put out a few expansion-themed posters as well as an Age of Iron trailer that you can watch after the break!

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Watch the unboxing of World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor's CE

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, News Items, Subscription

Does not include intangible emotions from unboxing, such as brief excitement followed by boredom followed by disappointment and regret.
Tomorrow is the launch day for World of Warcraft's fifth expansion, Warlords of Draenor. It's quite possible that you already have your collector's edition pre-ordered and ready to go, and you can't wait to open it up and see what's inside. So wouldn't you like to watch someone else open it up and see what's inside before you get to do that yourself?

Michele Morrow (who also helped host the official coverage of BlizzCon 2014 this past weekend) has posted an unboxing video for the Warlords of Draenor collector's edition, going over the various bits and gewgaws located within the box. Sure, you've known about what's in the box for a while, but here's your chance to see it before you get it. If you can't wait until tomorrow to peek inside, jump on past the break to see the video.

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Global Chat: Why we blog

World of Warcraft, Culture, Opinion, The Secret World, RIFT, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, ArcheAge, WildStar

Why an MMO player decides that he or she needs to take up an additional hobby of writing about these games isn't much of a mystery. We may all blog about a huge variety of topics, but the impetus behind it tends to be very common: We have so many thoughts about and so much love for these games that we can't hold it in.

To blog is to open up and share experiences, observations, and hopes. It's to connect with others and to perhaps give another layer of meaning to the time that we spend in-game. We don't blog because we have to; we blog because we simply could not not blog.

So let's see a few examples of what MMO bloggers couldn't keep inside of them! From spooky stories to rapturous tales of exploration, it's a testament to the power of words and goofy rejoinders.

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WoW's Iron Horde declares war on Times Square

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Galleries, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Humor, Promotions, Subscription

Finally! Here's the Blizzard we know and love. Why promote a World of Warcraft expansion with a pat press release and gory trailer when you can beat up an actual taxi in Times Square with a 15-foot replica of the epic Gorehowl axe? And that's exactly what Blizz did this morning to bemuse passing New Yorkers. Surveil the carnage in the gallery below.

WoW's Warlords of Draenor expansion launches this Thursday. Holla if you know of an Etsy shop where we can buy some #WARLORDS crime scene tape; that has to be a thing someone makes, right?

Watch the full World of Warcraft: Looking for Group documentary

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, MMO Industry

You might have missed the "other" Warcraft movie reveal at BlizzCon this past week, but we're here to make sure that you don't let it slip by completely. Blizzard premiered a special World of Warcraft documentary at the convention called Looking for Group, and you can watch the flick in its entirety right now.

Looking for Group examines the phenomenon of the MMO's creation and operation over the past 10-plus years. According to the studio, the documetary will allow you to "explore the history of WoW with its creators, and journey into corners of Blizzard and the WoW community you've never seen before."

Grab your Michael Jackson comment popcorn and watch it after the break!

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WoW Archivist: The zombie plague event

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Lore, PvP, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Zombies attack
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on November 5th and is included here by permission.

We have one more week of the Iron Horde invasion event before we can take the fight through the portal to Draenor. Most players seem to think this event is serviceable, if unexciting. Like all such events, it lives in the shadow of the most memorable pre-expansion event in WoW's long history: the zombie plague. It debuted almost exactly six years ago, and Blizzard has never topped it.

If you need evidence, just look at the comments on the previous WoW Archivist about patch 3.0. I only mentioned the event in passing as a topic for a future column. Even so, readers posted more about the plague event than about any of the other 3.0 features like achievements, glyphs, or pally nerfs.

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Liveblogging the opening ceremonies of BlizzCon 2014

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Subscription, Hearthstone, E-sports

You call it snark, I call it a healthy dose of world-weary cynicism.
Dear readers, I am going to be wholly honest with you. When I was asked if I could do this liveblog for BlizzCon, I thought I was being asked if I was capable. Like asking "can you ride your bike with no handlebars" or "can you sing to a cat until it leaves the room in disgust." But here I am now, so apparently the question was significantly less rhetorical than I had originally assumed and now I need to actually do this.

You can watch the standard definition feed of the convention's opening ceremonies on the official site for free. I'll be liveblogging the important announcements in the comments if you're in a place where you can't watch along (at work, misplaced your headphones, hiding in an Amish barn and fearing discovery should your phone give away even the slightest beep); highlights will be collected past the break. There will probably be announcements about Blizzard games! Like World of Warcraft and Hearthstone and maybe, if it's very lucky, StarCraft II.

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The BlizzCon line has already been started by one dedicated player

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Subscription

Well, you've got to have a hobby.
BlizzCon 2014 starts tomorrow, and if you're already in California for the event, you've got a whole day of ambling about ahead of you. You might think there's no reason to even think about the lines or the waiting that will come around tomorrow. But you'd be wrong: There is already a line to get into the convention that starts tomorrow, a line started by one dedicated fan waiting patiently at the front gate.

Massively's sister site WoW Insider reports that the fan is Brendan "Tibs" Thibodeau, a Navy veteran who has been playing World of Warcraft since 2005 and has racked up 29 level-capped characters with five legendary cloaks among them. Tibs has attended six BlizzCons and been at the front of the line for four of those, due in no small part to the dedication necessary to get in line a day before most people even think about queueing up. At last update, however, the second spot in line is still available.

BlizzCon returns to Anaheim during the weekend of November 7th and 8th, 2014! Whether you're anticipating World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion or the latest news from Diablo III, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm, we aim to have it covered!

Blizzard updates WoW's garrison game guide

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry

Blizzard has updated its game guide to World of Warcraft's garrisons. In case you missed it, garrisons serve as your Draenor ops center and allow you to collect resources, send followers on missions, and "create wondrous items to aid you in your journey," the firm says.

You've still got a few days before Warlords of Draenor releases on November 13th, so why not give the new guide a look-see?

BlizzCon kicks off on Friday, virtual tickets still available

World of Warcraft, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Diablo III, Hearthstone

Same venue as last year, then?
If you've been waiting patiently for the next big convention focused entirely around Blizzard's game catalogue, your wait is almost over. BlizzCon 2014 kicks off on Friday, November 7th, with the opening ceremonies starting at 2:00 p.m. EST. There's no chance of attending in person if you don't already have a ticket, but you can still pick up a virtual ticket, and DirecTV customers can also grab a pay-per-view stream that includes a virtual ticket and the associated benefits.

The convention will host a variety of tournaments, including the Hearthstone championships, the StarCraft II championships, and the World of Warcraft Arena championship. There will also be the usual assortment of lore panels, development previews, and reveals for the various games under the Blizzard banner, included the much-anticipated Warlords of Draenor expansion. If you've been on the fence about getting a stream, take a look at the list of festivities and get ready to see what's coming from the studio this weekend.

One Shots: Jolly pumpkins

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, City of Heroes, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, The Secret World, Humor, Miscellaneous

Halloween may be over, but its spirit remains alive in MMOs! Alive, that is, as long as there are spooky locales to explore and a population that's more than willing to dress up in costume and face down the terrors that slip between the shadows.

Our friend David here may be taking Halloween at face value in World of Warcraft, but can you really blame him? He and his demonic minion look to be having a heck of a time. Plus, there's a whole-hearted embrace of a pumpkin motif that will be all but extict come December. Enjoy it while it lasts!

The rest of this week's player-submitted screenshots may not be creepy in the least, but they do all share the same jolly attitude that exists in this moment. In a world that brought back One Shots, really anything is possible!

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WoW level designers discuss Draenor's callbacks and vignettes

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Lore, Previews, News Items, Subscription

Blizzard's final Artcraft blog for World of Warcraft has arrived today in the form of an interview conducted by Community Manager Bashiok. Once again, the topic is the design of Nagrand, a zone made iconic in The Burning Crusade expansion and returning in Warlords of Draenor next month.

The five interviewees, all level designers, discuss preserving key landmarks and environments in the proto-zone and how they've incorporated appropriate callbacks for classic content. The popular Ring of Blood arena quests will return, for example, as might everyone's favorite escort quest NPC, Corki. "Vignettes" will sound familiar to fans of more modern MMOs, as well; Senior Level Designer Victor Chong explains:
We've added a lot more vignette stuff, and I was working with Kurt Sparkuhl, a quest designer, on how I could add hidden stuff on the tops of mountains. So we have a lot of vignettes where players have to figure out how to get up there without just being able to walk up. It's stuff like doing some jumping around to get into an area, and then when you get to the top, you find a goblin with a glider that'll let you glide to specific areas that aren't normally accessible. Then if you get through all of that and land on a specific spot, you're rewarded with whatever the prize is there from a chest or something. We're doing a lot of that, and Nagrand was a good test bed for those kinds of things.
The complete interview is available on the WoW official site.

World of Warcraft chronicles the challenges of Draenor zone design

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Lore, Previews, News Items, Dev Diaries, Subscription

The third installment of World of Warcraft's Artcraft blog series is now live, and in it, Blizzard Senior Level Designer Ely Cannon discusses the visual style of zone design and how the artists and level designers team up to sculpt the look of zones and sub-zones within the limitations of the game engine. Cannon again references popular zone Nagrand and the difficulties of creating color depth and variation in the Warlords of Draenor version of the famed Burning Crusade zone, with its sweeping and sometimes one-note rolling plains. (Spoiler: The problem is solved with even more green.)

Blizzard has also updated the WoW game guide with new lore about the Draenei leader Velen and human wizard Archmage Khadgar. Both posts are found on the official Blizzard blog.

World of Warcraft examines the art of designing proto-Nagrand

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Subscription

Everybody's favorite.
Part of designing an MMO is putting a whole lot of work into things that no one will really notice. If you're playing World of Warcraft and running through Nagrand in Outland, you might be vaguely curious about how the zone is going to translate into its original form in Warlords of Draenor. Odds are, though, that you'll notice only in passing what the latest development blog from art director Chris Robinson talks about extensively.

Robinson details the challenges of building the temporal prototype of an iconic existing zone, especially since the original Nagrand was marked partly by the contrast between its peaceful plains and the floating bits of rock in the distance. The intent was to give the area an almost delicate feel, as if parts of the landscape could rise up and start floating away. Take a look at Robinson's whole piece for more insights about weaving the story of the zone into the art, and take a moment to stop and look around when you reach the zone in-game.

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