Category Archives: Information

SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: A Cautionary Tale

I have checked and double checked these emails for privacy warnings, and I don’t see them. Unless they contact me and ask me to take this post down, it will stand. I have removed my name, my account name, and the SWTOR customer service identifying username, otherwise, the emails appear exactly as presented.

Update (again)The Resolution

Update: SWTOR & My Unexplained Ban: Part 2

Update, Sunday, June 17th, 7:04 P.MI don’t think I even need to comment on this. I’m pretty sure it speaks for itself.  (But of course I’m going to anyway). If you’ve read this post in its entirety already, you know what the emails I sent requested. You might know that I requested the same things through Twitter, and those of you I’ve spoken with agree that the pivotal thing they’re not answering is the only question I really care about anymore: what is the name of the third party program used? And honestly, a follow-up, what was it used for? This is the email I got today:

Dear […],

Account Name: […]
Email address: druidambermist@gmail.com

Thank you for contacting us regarding your complaint (ticket number […]).
We have carried out a subsequent review and investigation into your complaint and in particular the actions taken on your account. We can confirm that your case was acted on correctly, in full compliance with our policies and procedures.

Please note that we do not provide any details regarding our internal procedures.

We will not be pursuing this issue any further, and as such we consider this matter closed.

Yours sincerely,

K–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

Either they are a) entirely missing the point everyone else seems to get, or b) still shooting out automated responses. In either case, it’s not good. No tiptoeing around it anymore: it’s incompetence at best, and I have to assume in either case they don’t care about my status as a customer.

The good news is, if they don’t care about me as a customer, that will make my decision to cancel my account that much easier. My $15 monthly might not matter to them, but if this is the type of customer service they’re providing to everyone (and I doubt I’m a special snowflake), they’ll lose other people’s $15, too, and future business.

Oh well. I liked it while it lasted.

Update, 2:20 p.m. ESTEarlier this morning, some people on Twitter and some commenters here suggested I check for hacking. At around 10 or 11, I ran a full Malwarebytes scan (gah, forgot how long that takes!), and came up infection free. There’s still a possibility, but unfortunately, it’s something SWTOR will have to check through the IP that was used at the time of the infraction. I only ever log on to the game from my computer or my husband’s, so if it’s an IP different from one of those two, it should be plainly obvious. It seems unlikely, as well, since my password and account information hasn’t changed. I would expect a good hacker to change the password immediately.

I also received a Direct Message on Twitter from @SWTOR, and from what I can understand, my ticket has been escalated and they’re looking into it. It might take a little while since it’s the weekend, but I have patience. I never minded a wait as long as the responses I get are fair and reasonable, which, until I was contacted through Twitter, certainly hasn’t been the case in my opinion.

Update, 9:30 a.m. EST: I called SWTOR Customer Support. The first time I called, I went with the option that included “violation reports,” but that didn’t take my anywhere useful. In fact, when my issue wasn’t mentioned in the sub-menu, I chose “all other queries,” where a recording told me to submit an in-game ticket and hung up on me.

The second call I put in to billing, and I did actually get to speak to a rep. I explained the situation, and he told me that I had done the right thing by emailing. He then informed me that there is nothing he can do for me except send a notice to the appropriate department that I called. I asked him if there was a number I could call to speak to that department directly. According to him, the only way to contact that department is by email.

I will wait for a response to my email. If it doesn’t contain the reason I was banned (and preferably an apology), I will be canceling my account today.

——————————

This is a World of Warcraft blog, although I have certainly dabbled in MMOs, especially lately with the Newbie Blogger Initiative. One of the games that I personally play outside of WoW is Star Wars: The Old Republic. Up until the past couple of days, it has been an enjoyable experience. I got into a guild that welcomed me and my husband and employed our sniper and bounty-hunter services to great ends, or at least to defeating several bosses.

I PvPed, and though I was slow progressing, I was getting very close to Battlemaster. I crafted, I cajoled, I server transferred with my guild. I was especially looking forward to playing after my server transfer, because suddenly I had a lot of friends all on the same server.

I became an officer in my guild. I managed the guild website, took screenshots and videos of our progress, and was, as far as I can tell, reasonably well-known in my guild. Believe me when I say this came as much of a shock to them as it did to me.

Yesterday, I attempted to log into SWTOR when I had a moment of peace in what had been a busy day. I was told my access had been denied, and to read the email that was sent to me. This is that email:

Dear […],

We are contacting you to notify you that we have found your Star Wars: The Old Republic account, […] , to be in violation of our Terms of Service.

After completing an investigation of your Account, we have identified the following violation:

Violation: Use of an unauthorised Third Party program

Due to the severity of the violation, we are suspending your account for 1 week (168 hours) effective immediately.

Our penalty system is cumulative. This means that if you continue to violate our Terms of Service in this way, the next penalty applied may ultimately result in permanent account closure.

It is our goal to make the Star Wars: The Old Republic experience as safe, secure and enjoyable as possible for all of our players. As such, we take any violations of our Terms of Service very seriously.

Please ensure that you are familiar with our Terms of Service as repeated violations may result in your account being permanently closed. Our Terms of Service can be found here:

http://tos.ea.com/legalapp/WEBTERMS/US/en/PC/

Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

If you feel you have received this suspension in error, please contact us at swtoraccountdisputes@bioware.com.

Yours sincerely,

Z–

Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

I have never in my life been banned from any game or website. I’ve never even been accused of anything. I’ve never received a warning or even a questioning glance in my direction. My behavior has always been above reproach to the best of my knowledge and ability.

As you can probably imagine, this email made me extremely upset. The fact that they didn’t identify the third party source meant I couldn’t even figure out if it was something I had knowingly done without realizing it was against the ToS. So I responded to the email they provided for the appeal.

Dear BioWare Customer Service,

I received an email today notifying me that my account (under the username “[…]”), has been banned for being in violation of the Terms of Service for use of an unauthorized Third Party program. I would like to be immediately notified of what this supposed third party program is.

The only program I have ever used in tandem with SWTOR is Bandicam in order to capture videos of my guild’s progress. If that’s in violation of the Terms of Service, I think you’re doing yourselves a disservice, and I will most certainly be canceling both mine and my husband’s account if this is the case.

The only other thing I could possibly think that I have used recently is LastPass, which is a well-known, highly-regarded password security service for websites (and websites only). I use it on every website into which I sign in in order to a) remember my passwords, and b) keep them secure. If you REALLY have a problem with me using a security program for this purpose, then I will remove the SWTOR account website as part of its programming, but I will do so with great dissatisfaction.

If either of these is actually a violation of the Terms of Service, please let me know. If not, I’d like to be informed of my violation specifically, since I have no idea to what it could be referring.

Let me assure you that the next email you send to me will be very important in my decision to continue playing–and thus paying for–SWTOR. I appreciate your prompt reply.

Thank you,

[…]

I waited for a response, sure that they would at least tell me where they thought I had acted incorrectly. Since I haven’t knowingly done so, I expected them to come back apologizing for their error or at least telling me what I had done so I could decide if it was something they had gotten wrong or something I had unwittingly done (as in the case of Bandicam or LastPass).

Instead, this is the email I received:

Dear […]

Account Name […]
Email address: druidambermist@gmail.com

Thanks for contacting us regarding the strike that has been applied to your account.

We have now completed our investigation into your complaint. After reviewing your case, we can confirm that it was acted on correctly, in full compliance with our policies and procedures. As such, we will not be pursuing this issue any further.

We can confirm that your character was observed working outside of its intended capabilities. For security reasons, however, we are unable to provide any information about methods used to identify the use of unauthorized 3rd party software.

Thank you for your diligence in bringing this matter to our attention. As a valued customer, your feedback is very important to us.

Yours sincerely,

A–
Star Wars ™: The Old Republic™ Terms of Service

My shock, hurt, and disappointment at this is far beyond what I have the capability to express right now, but know that it is great. To accuse someone of something without giving them any details of the charge is unfair, at best.

This is my response to the above email:

Dear A–,

I am sorry, but that is completely unacceptable. I have not intentionally or knowledgeably used any software with this game, and certainly not maliciously or with the intent to cheat. Anyone who knows me in game or out could verify that. Not at least providing me with what my supposed infraction is unquestionably unfair. How can I appeal that which I don’t even know?

At this point, I have to wonder if you even read the email I sent, or just marked it as an appeal and answered it accordingly. I have been a consistently reliable customer, and as such, I believe I have the right to know the details behind my ban, and “security reasons” does not seem like a valid excuse for keeping a loyal, well-behaved, paying customer in the dark. I do not feel like a “valued customer” today.

Telling me your investigation was completed gives me no insight into what actually happened, and I have no knowledge of what third party program you are referencing. I’ve never actually been banned from anything and have a spotless record across the board, so to say I’m angry, hurt, and disappointed is an understatement.

I will be discussing this with my husband today, and this will likely be the end of our time with SWTOR.

I would say thank you, but I am feeling understandably ungracious at this time.

Sincerely,

[…]

Beyond this, I don’t know what to say. I am floored. I will be discussing this with my husband when he gets up, and we will be deciding where to go from there. Without a doubt, there will be a phone call to customer service, at which point either our questions will be answered or we will probably cancel our accounts.

Good luck, out there. I’d say keep your noses clean, but even that’s not a guarantee that you’ll receive the service you pay for, apparently.

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Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

We’re over halfway through the month, ladies and gentlemen! I am beyond impressed with the effort our NBI participants have put forth. New and sponsor blogs alike have lit up our corner of the blogosphere the past 3 weeks, and you should all be proud!

Week 3 Recap

I loved reading about your main character (or, for several of you, characters) this week. The responses ranged from storytelling to class breakdowns, and I enjoyed the different perspectives on what main actually means in our community. Also, several of you completed the bonus challenge and either joined Twitter or made some new friends there–nice job!

And please, if you haven’t already, check out these bloggers who participated!

  • Alts?! I have no alts! (Shards of Imagination) – A story of two characters: Goldheart the Dwarf and Rakuno the Ratonga, and how they came to be what they are.
  • What’s My Main Again? (Kemwer) – Kem tells us about one character who persists and reinvents himself between games; a reincarnation of sorts.
  • Wherein I Fangirl Over My Gnome (Image Heavy) – What’s better than a priest who absolutely loves healing? One who comes in puntabl–I mean, adorable gnome form!
  • I can haz main? (Flask Half Empty) – Ninevi and I had some kind of brain link–she had just written bios for all of her characters to put on her blog when I posted this challenge. Anyone else hear Twilight Zone music?
  • How Rav came into being (Ravalation) – Rav breaks down the ways in which her characters reflect her personality. I like it, because I see a lot of myself in my characters, too.
  • My main characters (Starshadow) – This is a full-circle tale of the evolution of Suzita’s characters. Translating a character name–that is pretty cool, guys.
  • See My Main @#$*& (Bloodthorne) – TJ tells us about Gaffa the Dwarf and his awesomeness–just don’t touch his beard.
  • The Silly and The Useful (Brazokie’s Blog Space) – Some characters you love for their functionality, but some characters you love just because. Brazokie introduces us to both!
  • What’s My Main Again? (The Daily Frostwolf) – Navi handed the blog post over to her druid, a scary proposition, to be sure, but she did a great job telling us her story!
  • Battlechicken’s Challenge (Musings of an Altoholic) – Lyrestra likes each of her characters for their classes and shows us what she likes about each.
  • How Killington Came to Be (WASD Way) – I’m a sucker for a good story, and this is good storytelling. Find out about how Killington became a fierce fighter (and why you shouldn’t play him in cards).
  • A Bit About My Mane–er, Main (Casually Vicious) – Fact: I love troll druid cat form. Fact: Cat durid is 4 fite, and Solajin likes being a cat. And a bear. And a bearcat. And a catbear. I am so confused.

Week 4 Challenge: Learning is Fun

learning is fun poster

If you haven’t already, you’re going to write a post one day that requires you to look something up. Halfway through a post, you’ll realize you don’t actually remember what that ability is called or when the game you love was launched.

You’ll go scouting around Google for info, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll find tangents that keep you tied up in Search Engine Land for an hour. I learn a lot of things that way.

No one knows every fact about everything, but we usually know a few facts about something. This week’s challenge is to test your research muscle. Pick a topic related to your game (or games, or MMOs in general, etc) and tell us about it. Maybe it’s something you’ve been interested in, but haven’t found a reason to explore. Maybe it’s that class that always looked cool to you or a game you’ve been meaning to try.

Maybe you just want to know what all the fuss is about–why is everyone so crazy about this game/blog/idea/class/mechanic/achievement, anyway?!

Whatever topic or form it takes, this is your challenge: find something you only know a little bit about, learn something new, and tell us what you learned.

If I were doing it, I’d tell you about WoW warriors. They have muscles and swords and they can jump. I’d have to learn more than that.

Three of our guild warriors (with muscles & weapons): Aadrelore, Jonnz, & Frenzie

Learning is fun! What will you learn?

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A Few Words of Wisdom, With LOLCats

Congratulations, new bloggers!

You are over halfway through the month! I’ve read some great blogs the past couple of weeks, and I look forward to reading more. My reader’s already starting to get heavy, but I’m not complaining!

When I signed on for the NBI, I agreed to do at least one post that gives blogging advice. I struggled with this, because I don’t try to be a popular blogger (I know, shocking, right?) and there are many things the great bloggers do that haven’t even crossed my radar. I guess my issue is this: what kind of advice can I give?

I decided the best thing to do is to tell you what I would want someone to tell me if I were back at the beginning starting TLBC all over again.

1. You don’t have to be perfect. In the very, very beginning, I had no problem admitting I didn’t know everything. The whole purpose of starting this blog was to get help as a moonkin. Once I felt like I understood my class, though, I suddenly started thinking I wasn’t allowed to admit there were things I still didn’t know. Bloggers are supposed to know everything, right? Just go ahead and wipe that thought out of your brain.

If you’re like me, you’re terrible at math and a little slow on the uptake sometimes (okay, that’s probably just me, but you get the idea). You’re human. Keep that in mind.

2. Take yourself seriously. This was advice that was given to me a long time ago, before blogging. It’s still great advice. If you want other people to take you seriously (and you might not, that’s fine too), you need to take yourself seriously. Put thought into the things you write. Use spell check. Proofread. Look things up you don’t know. Verify your facts. Keep learning.

But if you make a mistake, fix it, then refer again to #1 and move on with your life.

3. Get involved in the community! Sooner rather than later, too, guys. The blogosphere is monstrous. The WoW blogging community alone is h u g e. It’s also very supportive. You’re only doing yourself a disservice by keeping the rest of the community at a distance. In the beginning, I felt like good bloggers were aloof. PFFFFT. Egotistical bloggers are aloof, maybe, but it’s not a measure of quality.

Get involved. Read other blogs. Comment on other blogs. Refer to other blogs. Link to other blogs. Support other bloggers. (Are you getting the theme, here?)

And for heaven’s sake, join Twitter. When I got involved in Twitter, it was like I’d found the entrance to the secret Blogger Cave, only it isn’t a secret. Unfortunately, there’s also not a cool car or Alfred. But it’s just about that good! When you read a blog you like, chances are that blogger is on Twitter. Follow them. Get into the conversation. This community rocks, don’t miss out.

4. Blog because you love to blog. For a long time, I was tired of blogging. I was barely playing WoW, I had a heap load of personal family stuff going on, and I didn’t have the energy to put into TLBC. I kept doing it anyway, but for all the wrong reasons: because I felt like I had to keep it active, I wanted to be noticed, I wanted my blog to be popular, I wanted to be thought of at least semi-knowledgeable/entertaining/attention-worthy by the bloggers I respected so much.

When I stopped playing WoW altogether to focus on my family, I closed the doors to this blog. I was heartbroken, but I knew it was the right thing to do. When I returned, I didn’t immediately start blogging again, but soon I found myself missing it. This time, it was for all the right reasons: It was because I like to write. I like to write about the game I play. I like the discussions and the community and the way a blog post forms in my head.

If you’re blogging for some concept of fame you have in mind or because you feel like everyone expects you to, stop. It will show in your posts and in the way you carry yourself in the community. Blog because you can’t help smiling when you think of an idea or when you finish writing a post. Do it because you find pleasure in finding the right screenshots and organizing your ideas. Do what you do because you love to do it, and stop when you don’t.

5. Don’t measure your worth as a blogger by your hit count. If you’re blogging because you like to blog, that number just doesn’t matter. Sure, it’s a great feeling to get hits, and I would highly suggest that you publicize yourself. We’re writers, after all, we like for the things we write to be read.

But don’t quit because you don’t have as many readers as you think you should. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Keep writing. Keep improving your writing (see #2). Get involved and get your name out there (see #3). Give yourself some time!

I’m sitting here reading this now thinking that it’s way too Saved By The Bell. I should be giving advice about thinking of good topics and how to publicize yourself. I said at the beginning, though, that I would tell you what I wish someone had told me, and I would have traded all the nuts-and-bolts blogging advice in the world to have just been told it was okay to make a mistake. Just call me Mr. Belding.

That said, there are lots of great brass tacks-type posts out there for NBI. I’ve learned quite a few things myself from reading through some of them, so go check them out at NBI HQ!

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Week 3 Challenge: What’s My Main Again?

Week 2 Recap

Last week, I posed the question “Why do you do what you do?” There were a bunch of responses, all with slightly different reasons for choosing activities or games. I’m listing them below; go ahead and check them out!

And, of course, it’s never too late–if you want to do either of the previous two challenges, go for it and link me your post in the comments!

  • Why Do I Do What I Do Bee Do (Bloodthorne) – TJEdgar explains why he blogs and demonstrates how everything is better when it’s set to music.
  • Battlechicken’s Challenge (MMO Compendium) – Sometimes, each character we roll has a different purpose and personality–this post includes a whole collection!
  • Week 2 Challenge (Flask Half Empty) -Ninevi reminds us that our reasons for playing the games we play are not one-dimensional.
  • Week 2 Challenge (StarShadow) – I love bows–the shooting kind, not the hair kind. Great screenshot mash-up here of the thrill of adventure.
  • NBI: Why Do I Do What I Do (Brazokie’s Blog Space) – From the process of creating a character to blogging about them, Brazokie shares the why behind the what.
  • Why Do You Do What You Do (Shards of Imagination) – This is a look at the uniqueness of MMO gaming as a hobby, from exploration to community!
  • Why I Stealth (Casually Vicious) – Why be a ninja? Why not?!
  • Why I WoW (Image Heavy) – Sometimes it’s the little things that make the game worth playing. A simple “hi” is sometimes just enough!
  • Why Do You Do What You Do: Guild Leadership (Neri Approves) – Guild Masters take on massive responsibilities–why? This is a GM’s perspective on taking on the job.

Week 3 Challenge

Most of us invest a lot of time in one (or two, or three…) characters in the games we play. For me, this is Ambermist, my druid moonkin. She is the reason this blog exists at all.

I’m sure it sounds strange to anyone who hasn’t experienced it first hand, but she has a personality and a story. I’ve “known” her for 6 years. She is, in some ways, my alter ego.

Your challenge this week is to tell me about your main (or the small handful of characters you feel most attached to). This might be their backstory as you’ve imagined it, or how you imagine their personalities. It could be how they relate to you–are they your flamboyant side, or do you channel your thoughtfulness through them?

Maybe explain why you chose them or why you keep coming back to them. What would they say if I asked them to tell me about themselves?

Whatever form or idea that takes for you, the challenge is this: Tell me about your main character(s).

Bonus ChallengeTomorrow I’ll finally be writing some of my thoughts about blogging (I know, I’m a terrible slacker). One of my biggest cornerstones is  community. The gaming blogosphere is huge and very community driven.

One of the vehicles through which this community communicates (say that three times fast) is Twitter. It’s not for everyone, but if you can plug into it, it will help you connect in ways you might not have realized. Your bonus challenge is this: if you don’t have a Twitter account, make one! If you do have one, find 3 new people to follow this week. If you haven’t already followed me, you can count me as one of your three. You’ll find me here: @battlechicken.

I can’t wait to read about your main characters! Remember to give me a link in the comments so I can include you in next week’s post!

P.S. I am so sorry for the cheesy title, but I just could not resist. 

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Screenshots & Reactions from MoP Beta

First off, let me point you to a couple of thoughtful posts about druid beta stuff I read this week, because this will not be one of those posts:

No, my post will be about, as the title suggests, random reactions to things I experienced in beta since it stopped crashing every two minutes. With pictures, of course.

Pandaren Starting Zone

From the Wandering Isle

Pandaren Starting Zone

Temple area from the Wandering Isle

Jade Forest

The Arboretum in the Jade Forest

The exact words that came out of my mouth when the above screenshots were taken: “Ooh, that’s pretty!”

Glyph of Stars

Astral Form using Glyph of Stars

Okay, I was all for keeping my moonkin form, but I have to admit these stars are cool. I might change my mind.  

Level 85 Mistwalker Monk

Level 85 Mistwalker Monk casting Soothing Mists

Created a premade monk for my husband to play with. Could that guy look any cooler?

Pandaren Rogue

Level 85 premade Pandaren Rogue

Pandaren Rogue about to STAB THINGS…

Pandaren Rogue in the act of STABBING THINGS.

I’m asking for a race change for my rogue when it’s my birthday. I’m not kidding. 

Pet Jounral

Pet Journal – Pet Options

Wait, what? I can rename my pets?! Meet Botty, Shivers, and Chili. 

Glyph of Stag

Druid Travel Form with Glyph of Stag…and a warlock.

This is both extremely awesome and terribly awkward. 

Tree Form Dancing

Celebratory tree form dancing, don’t mind me.

Glyph of the Treant

Tree Form Healing in Temple of the Jade Serpent

Tree Form Healing

Tree Form Healing in Temple of the Jade Serpent…again.

Tree form. Tree form. I’m a TREE. OMG, I MISSED YOU TREE FORM! I missed you so much, don’t you ever leave me again. I’m going to hug you and squeeze you and name you George! I love you, George! /flail. /squee.

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If You’ve Ever Wanted to Blog, May is Your Month

Sypster over at BioBreak contacted me a couple of weeks ago about a plan; a way to encourage people who had considered blogging to go ahead and jump off the cliff into the sea of posts and tags and topics.

This plan is known as the Newbie Blogger Initiative. The idea is simple–get a bunch of experienced bloggers together to encourage new ones. There are over 60 bloggers from all corners of the gaming blogosphere signed up.

Throughout the month of May, each of us will be posting a blog giving our personal tips for and experiences with blogging, as well as publicizing and encouraging new bloggers as you start to get your feet wet.

This is a test run for new bloggers–give it one month and see if you like it! If you’re ready to jump in (and I hope you are!), go ahead and create a blog, write your first post, and then come over to the Newbie Blogger Initiative H.Q. to sign up. There you can ask questions, talk to other bloggers, or bounce ideas off of new and old bloggers alike (not to mention the nifty banner).

If you’re not quite sure, come take a look at the forums anyway. Maybe you’ll get caught up in the excitement, too!

And finally, if you’re an experienced blogger and you want to become a sponsor blog, sign up! As a sponsor blog, you’ll be asked to write three blog posts this month for the NBI and to encourage new bloggers as they join our ranks.

What are you waiting for? May is your month!

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Maybe I Could Like Mists of Pandaria…

I’m reading through WoW Insider this morning catching up on all the newly released Mists News, and I picked out some of the things that stood out to me. All of the quotes and information I’m getting come from WoW Insider’s coverage of Mists, so you should check out the whole thing (it’s a lot!).

The Tillers are hardworking, salt-of-the-earth types who provide the rest of the pandaren with their food, but they’re too busy to take care of some local problems, like the virmen. Help them out and you can become a Tiller too, complete with your own plot of land. Yes, you heard right — your very own farm.

 When I was leveling in Westfall, someone mentioned “farming.” At that time, I asked my husband how I could get a farm, and he laughed. Well, they’re 6 years late, but I CAN GET MY FREAKING FARM!

Wait, did I just say beer elementals? Yes. In fact, they’re called “alementals.” This should give you a pretty good idea of the more light-hearted feel of this zone. While it’s not necessarily true that you won’t run into more serious threats in the Valley of the Four Winds, as a Blizzard rep said, “I’ve saved the world a bunch of times. I’m OK with saving the beer right now.”

That last quote, FTW.

While the art was not completed for the press preview, the developers did reveal that the reward for collecting all of the gold medals was a unique mount styled after the qilin from real world mythology.

I love mounts, I like achievements, and I like being challenged. Bring on challenge modes, I say.

The artifact sits in the center of the map. Whoever claims the artifact must hold onto it as long as possible — a difficult task, since not only is the opposing team trying to kill you and recover the artifact for themselves, but the artifact also causes a constantly increasing amount of damage over time to its bearer. The longer you hold it, the more dangerous holding it becomes. Once the bearer of the artifact dies, it falls to the floor and another player of either faction may pick it up.

 […]

 The Silvershard Mine uses the Payload ruleset from Team Fortress 2. Players must escort a cart of resources from one end of the map to the other as quickly as possible. The cart only progresses forward when its owners are standing near it. The opposing team must stall the cart’s progress as much as possible to prevent a timely capture.

This is AWESOME. I can’t wait to get into these battlegrounds. I love new objective mechanics. I’m a dork like that. I hated Isle of Conquest, though; these sound much better.

To respec, you no longer return to your class trainer and pay a lump sum of gold. You swap out talents exactly the same way you do with glyphs right now. You purchase an item, spend that item to clear a tier of talents, then pick the new one. If you only want to change your level 45 talent, then you only change your level 45 talent. Forgetting one does not cause you to forget them all.

Regardless of how I feel about the new talents (and I’m still meh on them right now), being able to change just one point without going to a trainer is a huge quality of life change. Yes, I realize this wouldn’t be possible in our current talent system. NO, I DON’T CARE. /QQ.

…the appearance options are broken down differently. You choose a category (such as Hair), and then that category expands into a full-sized bar on the screen. That bar is filled with thumbnails displaying the various options.

 […]

 Additionally, in the bottom right-hand side of the screen, there is a small gameplay video for your chosen class so you can see a little bit of how the game plays in action before you settle on it.

I like this a lot. The character customization process has needed a little love. Not that I’ll find time to make more characters…or will I?

Chris Metzen kicked off the Mists of Pandaria press event by explaining the tone and narrative goals of the expansion. Players have voiced concern because Mists of Pandaria does not have a clear, global threat in the vein of the Lich King or Deathwing.

 […]

 Mists of Pandaria itself, the game that comes in the box, will be a full, contained story. The entire arc of Mists of Pandaria will be there when you install the game, before any content patches at all. The content patches will be treated as sequels to that story.

 […]

 While the steps taking us there are still unknown, Metzen did reveal that the war waged in those patches will reach a massive conclusion: We will lay siege to Orgrimmar to remove the mantle of warchief from Garrosh Hellscream’s shoulders.

This was one of my chief concerns when they announced the expansion, so I’m glad to see it addressed straight out. I like the idea of having a complete story and then adding to it. And who doesn’t want to go overthrow Garrosh? I’m down.

…you will be getting an 11th character slot for your monk.

While I’m very glad I will be able to roll a monk without deleting anything I currently have, I’m a little disappointed. They had talked about doing a 50 character limit but not limiting it per server. I’d like to see that, or a much larger server cap, like 15 or 20. I’ve played on the same server for 6 years. I know people there, I’m not currently keen to roll elsewhere.

This is now what will make me roll my Pandaren. I only play female characters (I can’t get used to the way male characters walk. Sorry, guys. I still like you and all, you just walk funny), and I am THRILLED with this model. I can’t wait to create mine now.

I didn’t spend a lot of time actually playing a druid, but I did hear a bit of interesting news while I was playing other classes, so I hopped onto my premade druid to find out for myself. I was able to confirm that, yes, there are some minor glyphs druids are going to absolutely adore. Here they are:

  • Glyph of Stars: Transforms your Moonkin Form into Astral Form. This glyph essentially makes your character appear as a spirit instead of a moonkin. You look very nearly like you do while dead — but people can see you this time. And your armor, for that matter.
  • Glyph of the Orca: Transforms your Aquatic Form into an orca. This one is pretty straightforward. Remember those orcas in Northrend? Yeah. Much better than your weird snarling rubbery seal.
  • Glyph of the Chameleon: Gives you a random appearance when you shift into Bear or Cat Form. Essentially, this one gives you a random coloring every time you shift. Great for breaking up the monotony of locked-in bear/cat coloring.
  • Glyph of the Stag: Transforms your Travel Form into a stag that other players can mount. Yes, that’s right. Your pals can ride you while you’re in Travel Form, and you’re also a stag instead of the clearly-inferior cheetah.
  • Glyph of the Tree: Lets you transform into Treant Form.

 So these basically own, right?

Breaking this down one by one:

    • Glyph of Stars: I actually like my moonkin form, but I understand why those who don’t would love this. And who knows, the option of switching back and forth might appeal to me. It’s an option, and since they’re minor, it’s not like we have anything better to stick there. Might as well have something fun.
    • Glyph of the Orca: YES. Yes, yes, yes, yes. I love that.
    • Glyph of the Chameleon: Also yes. I will absolutely get this if I end up going feral, which is actually on the table right now.
    • Glyph of the Stag: HOLY CRAP. Putting aside all the “mount” jokes, this is ridiculously awesome. Yes, Michael Sacco, this basically owns.
    • Glyph of the Tree: Like permanently? I can go back to my favorite tree form for good? I CAN SINGLE-HANDEDLY BRING THE TWIST BACK TO MY GUILD?!!! Sign me up. Done. Sold. I like the aesthetic of the new tree form, I really do, but my in-game identity was that treant form for 3 years. I miss it.
Other tidbits: I’m looking forward to pet battles. I don’t care if you think they’re childish. I played Bejeweled when it was an in-game addon (anyone remember that?).  I think it’s going to be a blast.

The new zones look and sound cool. I’m eager to try them out.

Have I warmed up to Mists? I think I have. I’m not on the edge of my seat like I was for Wrath and Cata, but yeah, I’m ready to see what it’s all about.

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