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November 18th, 2004


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04:12 pm - World of Warcraft beta is over
Blizzard will shut down the Open Beta servers sometime tonight, so our week-and-a-few-days tenure of playing this game for free scrupulously and meticulously reporting game bugs as we find them is, sadly, over. My impressions of the game overall are very positive -- each MMORPG strives to look very good by presenting the improvements they've made over previous games. This means that when we play World of Warcraft, we find much to our delight and glee that hey presto, everybody's favorite game flaws and pet peeves are miraculously solved, crafting is actually fun as opposed to a grind, and combat is a lot of fun. Cynically speaking, however, a week-and-a-few-days is not enough time to play before the bloom falls and the novelty wears off and we begin to find new flaws or boredom points in the game.

But that's, of course, exactly what Blizzard wants to keep us from doing before we get the retail version.

I've included a little gallery of screenshots, edited and otherwise, that I've bothered to take during my sojourn as a beta tester. Keep in mind my system barely met the minimum requirements for the game, so the screenshots will not look as Stellar as those with other computers might see it. That's okay, for even with my low settings I really loved the game's look. It felt hand-drawn and hand-painted in a way -- like I was in the middle of a 3D Asterix cartoon or something. I liked that a lot.

SCREENSHOTS AHEAD, ZUG ZUG


Here's Drolias, my dwarven hunter. I found that hunters are extremely fun to play, pets are great to play with (I had a wolf prowler named Woufs and an elder bear named Paddington) and, if you learn Skinning and Leathermaking, incredibly self-reliant and full o' resources. Drolias made it to level 14 and by that point was wearing an entire set of leather armor that he'd crafted himself. Not only were they fashionable, but some pieces were even giving stat bonuses already. Finally, a crafting system that understands players want Nice Things To Wear soon and not have to slog through 200 ability points' worth of Cheap Tunics and Patchwork Gloves!


This here's the mountain village of Kharanos, on a peak halfway between the dwarf and gnome starting city and the grand and glorious city of Ironforge. The game's world time runs in real-time, so if you play in the morning you get a nice morning environment. Late at night gives you a shot of Kharanos like this. (I'm assuming that since the servers were categorized by what US Time Zone they were in, their clocks were calibrated accordingly.) I kinda like that even though I know if I played, it'd be mostly at night, so all my characters would end up being nocturnal or something. Stranger things have happened, I guess...


Drolias is very intently stitching together a new piece of leather armor.


Click to enlarge. The game's all about funky modes of transport, too. There are player mounts for each race (dwarves get rams, gnomes get mechanical chocobos) and there are also gryphons to ride much like DAOC's automated horse routes, but I think the coolest mode of transportation is the automated tram which runs between the cities of Ironforge and Stormguard (yeah, Stormguard, right? Yeah.) The tram takes you way deep down into the earth and then runs underwater for a bit and then back up before reaching the next station. I noticed there were walkways on either side of the track, most likely to help out those who may have gone linkdead while on the tram and woke up to find themselves ... eek! Stranded! With that in mind I walked the entire length of the tunnel, just to see what it was like. The coolest part was indeed the underwater part, where there were sunken ships and fish and the like. Very cool. You can see a full-sized shot of the entire view by clicking on the image here.


Here's Drolias flying around on a gryphon, too. It's nice to see them go by while you're trudging along a cold and snowy path.


After the countdown, there was nothing left of these characters or their exploits. A player wipe is necessary at the end of a beta so that everybody gets to start fresh, and on the same level, when the game comes back up for retail. Sorry, Dro, but them's the breaks.

I fear it will be a long time before I can afford a new MMORPG, so I will not be playing WoW immediately upon release. That's okay... let the rushers go on their way and let the newbie areas clear out a little bit before jumping back in, several months down the road. I'll content myself with watching its progress from afar... for now.

(7 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


From:guxx
Date:November 18th, 2004 10:03 pm (UTC)
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...gives a whole new meaning to the concept of Warez software and servers. If only the concept was feasible.
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From:lexinatrix
Date:November 18th, 2004 10:15 pm (UTC)
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I've enjoyed living vicariously through your free beta preview of the game. Thanks for posting the screen shots!
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From:ctartchick
Date:November 18th, 2004 10:32 pm (UTC)
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Actually, hon, the beta's not over just yet. Blizzard shut down all EST and CST servers for maintnance, but they've a note up that says it's not the end and they hope to have the servers all back online before the scheduled end of the beta. Some of the servers are back online alread, although Test 20 isn't back up yet. Perhaps Dro will get to terrorize a few more wolves and horde before it's all over! ;-)
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From:derspatchel
Date:November 19th, 2004 12:27 am (UTC)
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Back in there now I am! Woo hoo!
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From:ctartchick
Date:November 19th, 2004 01:51 am (UTC)
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Hey, didn't you have a pic of some girl-type creature doing a hoochie-coochie dance on a table? I told Paul about it, and he got all excited . . .

You know, I'm not sure he'll be happy that I just told you that.
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From:josh_giesbrecht
Date:November 19th, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC)

ok, it's really over now

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Did you catch the flaming demons from Heck(tm) overrunning Ironforge, etc? I lost my screenshots when I uninstalled, I think, but it was a strangely fitting End of the World scenario.
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From:ctartchick
Date:November 19th, 2004 10:15 pm (UTC)

Re: ok, it's really over now

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I spent the last 5 minutes in Auberdine - the large pack of night elves hanging out there broke spontaneously into a naked beach dance party. I did save screenshots of that - I'll have to post them later.

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