World of Warcraft: Beta Duldrums (Retro)

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For all you waiting for World of Warcraft Classic to be presented at Blizzcon this year 2018. I take a walk back to a time before World of Warcraft was only in Alpha. This will be Part 2 in a 6 Part Walk through time of World of Warcraft. With a Final impressions of WOW Classic as presented at Blizzcon.

Part 1 (WOW Preview)
Part 2 (Beta Duldrums)
Part 3 (Beta Journal)
Part 4 (Legion Preview)
Part 5 (Battle for Azeroth Review)
Part 6 (WoW Classic Info)

For over two years now, there has been a large contingent of gaming fans that have been drooling over the thoughts of what the next day will hold. Our quest has been to get our hands on the next bit of information about the game that I dare to say will be the greatest MMPORPG game to grace the world. Of course, I am talking about the World of Warcraft from Blizzard Entertainment. With the beta approaching with lightning quickness I thought I would throw together my first in a long line of monthly columns dedicated to what is going on in the WOW community as well as with my own thoughts.

For those of you incomprehensible few who have not yet heard of the World of Warcraft here is a brief description of the game. WOW is a MMPORPG (Massive Multi-Player Online Role Playing Game) where you will take on the role of one of eight races. These include Human, Orcs, Trolls, Taurens, Undead, Gnomes, Night Elves, and Dwarves. All of these races have played integral parts in the Warcraft Series which has included Warcraft Orcs and Humans, Warcraft II Tides of Darkness, Beyond the Dark Portal, Battle Net Edition, Warcraft III, and The Frozen Throne expansion. With this rich history of strategy games, we now will be able to control individual Warcraft characters like never before. Once you choose the race, you then choose the sex and class that you wish.

Once in the game you will be able to visit the six major cities as well as seamlessly flow through the numerous lands that have their own atmosphere and feel. When entering the undead cities you will feel the stench of death as well as when entering the Night Elves towns, you will feel the lushness of the forests. Recently they have revealed information about banking, mounts, micro dungeons, world dungeons, the major cities, and instanced zones.

As it is a MMPORPG game, a key is the skills. Three components of skills that you will be able to gain and advance. There are spells, which are more combat oriented and allows your characters to battle with the monsters of the world. Then there are gathering and trade skills. Gathering skills range from fishing to mining. Trade skills will allow you to use the ingredients you have gathered to build items for either trade or for your personal use. Now although these skills have been included you will not be able to avoid combat. Most of the good ingredients placed in dangerous areas where you will have to fight your way to gain access to these ingredients. This will add to the fun and keep gamers interested in being a tradesman. Well if you want more info feel free to look at our two previous previews.

So now, to the real nitty gritty of this column over a month ago many of us true WOW fans signed up to take part in the up and coming Beta test. Blizzard has not released an exact date or time of the beta start but from all credible sources, it is to be very soon. Happening in the meanwhile was more releases of never before seen movies and the display of numerous screen shots. The two movies include a movie of a Gryphon ride over Azeroth, the second is an inside look at the creative process of the first cinematic. The second movie has some great artwork and shows some of the work that has to create the typical Blizzard cinematic excellence.

Besides the great images presented through the cinematic’s they are also testing a new download technology that uses a sort of peer-to-peer network to distribute files. The name of the downloader is Bit torrent. At first, I was unsure how this system would help. However, I seemed to download the 68 mg file quite fast. For those of us with broadband I rarely saw more than a few bytes leaving at any one time. I think it is a good way to help with distribution of files. This new use of peer-to-peer networking may be a way in which the Beta or updates to WOW.

A month or so ago there was a fan site chat which I was fortunate enough to attend. I was able to throw out some questions and even received responses. The fan site chat is an excellent way for the community of fan sites to gather more information as well as build a relationship with the PR team at Blizzard. I have attended a number of fan site chats throughout the past couple of years and with each one, I get a greater understanding of the game and a new appreciation of the complexity and greatness of the employees who work at Blizzard.

There have been a number of screenshots released recently as well that show the pure beauty of what Blizzard is creating with World of Warcraft. Of course, these screenshots wet our whistle to calm us from asking the annoying question repeatedly. Are we there yet? Never fear once the beta starts up screenshots in furious fashion and the numerous fan sites will be overflowing with them. However, for now the small glances at the mounts or up and close pictures of the many towns are a great diversion.

Finally I ask myself will the World of Warcraft be the game that I am hoping for or will it be another flop like so many of the other MMPORPG’s that have come before? I ask myself will the other great MMPORPG’s that are currently coming or near release cause there to be too many games on the market at one time making WOW a big economic flop for Blizzard? Then I come to the realization that maybe that Beta E-mail will be in my mailbox so I go check it and discouragingly it is not there yet. I realize the fans and the community are what makes a great MMPORPG and Blizzard has the best and most loyal fans of any game developer in the world. In addition, with that I know that no matter what the outcome of WOW I have made great friends and will continue to enjoy the community aspect of the great Blizzard titles of past and I look forward to the games of the future.

Ok wipe the tears from your eyes and blast me with those you are a loser, fan boy letters. Then go check your inbox for that Beta letter. For next month, my hope is that I will be able to present my first thoughts and look at the game from the beta perspective so look for it in about a month.

Written March, 10th 2004