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World of Warcraft - Wrath Of the Lich King Is In Alpha 303

simrook writes to tell us that World of Warcraft's second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King, has entered closed alpha testing, as reported by WoWInsider. Wrath of the Lich King, which we've discussed previously, will raise the level cap to 80 and introduce a new class: Death Knights. World of Warcraft remains the most popular MMORPG on the market with over 10 million subscribers. WoWInsider notes, "Various players are being invited to check it out, under a strict NDA."
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World of Warcraft - Wrath Of the Lich King Is In Alpha

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  • level 80 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gangien ( 151940 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:13PM (#23031324) Homepage
    ugh level to 80?

    i mean i hear all the time how easy 60-70 is, supposedly, but man it's a pain if you're a casual player like myself. 62 and i need 600k to level or whatever. i have lost my motivation to play much.
  • by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <>> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:14PM (#23031338) Homepage

    But how is this news? So it's getting closer to release... it was closer to release yesterday than it was the day before, too.

    If it was an open alpha, that would be different. But nothing really changes, apart from increase hype from stories like this.

    If you're in the closed alpha, I think there's a good chance you already know and hence this news article is old news. Hell, they're probably never going to see it, since they're probably playing it even now.

    To those who AREN'T in the closed alpha this can only serve as a tool to help those who are flaunt their exclusivity.

    In short: I don't see the point? Well, other than it's WoW and has made Blizzard billions of dollars.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:17PM (#23031368)
    Yes, I know, offtopic. But it just seems like for the past couple of months the Games section has been primarily ignored - even through things like the release of Smash Bros. Brawl, a game that was worthy of a story when it was delayed but apparently not when it was released.

    I'm glad to see Games stories like this making something of a comeback, but after checking the front page, a front page story on an alpha release of an MMORPG? Seriously?

    I'd love to see stories like this limited to the Games section, but a front page story seems a bit much.

    On an ontopic note, I wonder if this new expansion will get me interested in playing again. Probably not - I kind of ground myself out of MMORPGs. I've found that, if I'm forced to grind, I like portable games much better. I can grab the DS or PSP and grind for 10 minutes during lunch break or some downtime at home, but I can't manage the several hour commitment that an MMORPG requires.

    I kind of wish some other company would do something interesting in the MMORPG space, but then I remember the Sony's "NGE" and the ever-so-innovative Square Enix "you can't pick your server" system and realize it's probably just as well Blizzard remains on top.

    But even so, I'm still basically WoWed out, expansion or not.
  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:26PM (#23031448)
    How is it not news? Entering alpha, even if it is "closed" gives new information on Blizzard's progress to this upgrade. And some people care about that. So it has relevance too.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:39PM (#23031526)
    Because it's a subscription game, and if a player dies, there's a good chance they'll say to hell with it and quit. They're not worried about making a game that doesn't go stale, they're worried about keeping money coming in.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:5, Insightful)

    by snuf23 ( 182335 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:48PM (#23031578)
    How would it make the game not get stale? Rerunning the same quests in lvl 1-20 zones over again because you accidentally ran into a couple bears you couldn't handle?
    Not too mention that many of WoW's encounters almost guarantee you will die the first try or second try until you get your strategy down (especially in instances and raiding).
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordKaT ( 619540 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:52PM (#23031592) Homepage Journal
    Oh boy.

    OK, first off "it works in Counter-Strike" isn't a fair assessment. It's not a permadeath for a character that you've poured days/weeks/months of your life into.

    it would prevent the game from getting stale - guess what? when your character dies you have to (*gasp*) PLAY THE SAME GAME OVER AGAIN! How is that NOT stale? In a permadeath situation you get to relevel in the same leveling spots, with the same quests, and grind the same bullshit you were grinding before.

    solve the grind problem - do you even know what the "grind problem" is? Removing the grind is the only way to solve the grind problem. Permadeath is only going to cause characters to (*gasp*) grind to their original level AGAIN! That's just grind-tastic.

    it works for Nethack - because Nethack is built around a game mechanic that makes it unique from World of Warcraft: the entire game is a random dungeon. World of Warcraft is a static world (aside from the expansion packs). If Nethack was the same dungeon, with the same monsters, the same story, the same items, the same skills, it would become very tedious to play.

    it works for a variety of MUDs - people who play these MUDs are fucking psychotic.

    it worked in almost all pencil-and-paper RPGs - because you didn't play the same campaign over and over and over again. If you did play the same campaign with different characters until you beat it, you a) missed the point of having multiple campaigns and b) have a serious OCD problem. Oh, and c) never experienced having your level 19 warlock die at the hands of a bastard GM.

    Unless you change the core mechanics and introduce a random story generation algorithm, Permadeath would be the single most mind-numbingly annoying thing you could introduce into a modern game.

    1984 called, they wanted to let you know that the gaming industry left you behind.
  • by PC and Sony Fanboy ( 1248258 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @08:59PM (#23031634) Journal
    And JUST when I thought I was done with WoW. Honestly, a crack addiction would probably cost less - I might spend more money on it, but I'd also have more friends and more free time.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Starrk ( 1268600 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:14PM (#23031714)
    Leveling in WoW is easy; getting the best equipment from raid dungeons or pvp can be very, very hard. If there were no more expansions, the vast majority of players would never be able to finish the existing content, so that's not the real problem.

    No, even if you had permadeath (like that's a fun idea in an RPG that takes hundreds of hours to get through), you'd still get bored of the same old content, and want something new.
  • Re:losing interest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mauthbaux ( 652274 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:26PM (#23031762) Homepage
    From what I've seen, Warcraft merely provides context for a social scene. If leveling up your character really was all that the game had to it, most people would tire of it long before even hitting level 14.

    However, it's the social aspect that makes it fun. It's the same idea as a family vacation; the importance is the shared experience. By insulating yourself from the social interactions in the game, you've essentially lost the real reason most people find the game to be fun.

    In summary: the social aspect is what makes the game fun. The rest of the game is there merely to provide context for the social interactions.
  • Re:Death Knight? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @09:48PM (#23031902) Journal
    What just kills me is that they plan to have Death Knights for both Horde and Alliance. Wonder how they're working out the story for that one.

    Logically the Scourge is its own faction, but I think the Horde/Alliance dichotomy is so hardwired into the WoW codebase, it'd be impossible to add a third faction.

  • by Cookie3 ( 82257 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:15PM (#23032064) Homepage
    WoW and SC2 have completely separate developers, art teams, etc. I wouldn't worry too much about WoW impacting SC2 (or, vice-versa SC2 impacting WoW).
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @10:59PM (#23032312) Homepage
    Diablo II also had... saved games. I mean, seriously. Permadeath is OK when you can save the game and try again. Imagine every time your character died you had to start over again from level 1. Most people would never even see the stage 4 area Diablo lived in, let alone fight him if they had to restart the WHOLE thing every time they died. If you're talking about the multiplayer hardcore ladders, well a) I always thought those people were nuckin' futs, and b) the whole point of the ladders was to get as far as possible before dying. Hardly anyone ever beat the game that way. You played single player and/or non-permadeath multiplayer to see the content and get good at the fights before you ever tried the ladders.
  • Re:level 80 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Admiral Ag ( 829695 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:12PM (#23032386)
    Then you didn't really get very far into the game. Levels 1-20 are about teaching you the basics of the game, ending with a foray into an instance at about level 18-20. The rest of the time up until the level cap is learning about equipment and exploring the world. The first iteration of the game was pretty good, although it got boring from levels 30-40, but the expansion fixed a lot of those problems with better zone and quest design.

    But it is, as someone said, a social game. You really won't have much to do unless you make friends in the game (or you're a healer, which means everyone is your friend). It sounds hackneyed, but in WoW the journey is the reward, especially in co-operative play. You will meet a lot of assholes in WoW (especially on PvP servers), but you will meet a lot of really good people as well.

    If you ask people what their best memory of WoW is, they won't usually say something like "When I finally got my ghosthacker helmet", but rather "Remember that time when Wilbert aggroed 3 rooms of monsters and we still didn't die".

    You are playing the right way when you log on and immediately get loads of tells asking how you are and if you want to do something. I stopped because I didn't have time, but I still keep in contact with many of the friends I made in the game.
  • by geekboy642 ( 799087 ) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:23PM (#23032474) Journal
    Warcraft: $15 / month, 6 hours a day. It's a social event with friends...ever tried to raid with people you hate? No. You can hold down a job and even eat well. If you're careful, you can even keep a family.

    Crack: $25 / hit lasting 10-15 minutes, and then you want another. Try holding a job when the urinalysis shows you a drug addict. Try caring about buying food when your entire body is twanging for the next hit. Try keeping a family when you steal and pawn your wife's wedding ring just for another dose. Do you have any friends? Do you know the expression "crack whore"?

    Unless you turn tricks for $15 to pay for your Warcraft "addiction", you're not addicted. World of Warcraft is not just like Crack, and anybody who seriously claims it is should go and volunteer in a real rehab center for a full day. You don't have an addiction, you have a hobby. Learn some god-damned perspective, you molly-coddled children.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @02:37AM (#23033374)
    No, it doesn't. Consequences aren't fun. I've played multiple MMOs with consequences, and I've played WoW. I would *NEVER* play one with again- its fucking annoying. Its one of the reason I quit them.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2008 @03:07AM (#23033498)
    Totally disagree - your drug addicted scenario plays out like most addictive behaviors - sacrificing tangible positives for myopic benefits.

    MMORPG addiction just happens to use 'time' as it's currency vice cash for crack, just as smoking trades in health. MMORPG addicts regularly trade time with families, friends, jobs, etc to play just a little longer, or log in just that one more time to see what's happening; long after it's become enjoyable, the addicts are killing the dragon for the 100th time to get set some bit in a database.

    I am in the healthcare field as a 911 paramedic in a large metropolitan run area, I do see the worst sorts of addictions - while the MMORPG addict may or may not have an easier road to recovery due to little actual physical damage, the neurological addictive impulses are the same, and with all due respect to the emotion your post displays, I believe your perspective is the one which needs to be adjusted.
  • by Stalyn ( 662 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @03:13AM (#23033524) Homepage Journal
    Unless you turn tricks for $15 to pay for your Warcraft "addiction", you're not addicted. World of Warcraft is not just like Crack, and anybody who seriously claims it is should go and volunteer in a real rehab center for a full day. You don't have an addiction, you have a hobby. Learn some god-damned perspective, you molly-coddled children.

    You know being addicted to something doesn't mean you have to be a ragged homeless person wandering the streets looking for a a fix. There are millions of people who are addicted to alcohol/cigarettes/prescription drugs/gambling/etc who are highly functional. They have a job, an active social life, wife/husband, kids etc. But they can still be addicted to something. If anyone has a "childish" view of addiction it's you.
  • by eugene_roux ( 76055 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @03:15AM (#23033534) Homepage

    Unless you turn tricks for $15 to pay for your Warcraft "addiction", you're not addicted.
    I'm rather glad to hear you say so... You see, I have MET people who have skipped work to play WoW; I have KNOWN women who have left their husbands because they would rather play WoW than have a marriage...

    YOU tell me there is no such thing as being ADDICTED to WoW...

    WoW is might not be all it's crack(ed) up to be, but it's not excactly innocuous either. Especially for people with naturally addictive personalities...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 11, 2008 @04:20AM (#23033808)
    No, it tells us absolutely nothing about when the expansion will be released. This is BLIZZARD we are talking about. Every game they've ever released has had massive set backs. Having 10 million subscribers hasn't changed anything, it was supposed to be a year until Burning Crusade, and it was supposed to be a year after BC came out until Wrath of the Lich King. I'd put $100 saying WotLK isn't released until at least 2009. I mean, they're starting alpha now, and it is supposed to be out Christmas of '08. Yeah right Blizzard, I'd sooner believe you were making Tauren Marines.
  • by lareader ( 1191563 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @04:27AM (#23033844)
    Ehm... what is a hobby if not an "entertaining waste of time"?

    I mean, are you seriously contending that building model railways is not a hobby or that it is something more than an "entertaining waste of time"?

    If it is not a hobby, then your definition of a hobby is quite different from what most people use it as.

    In the end, passing time (and wind) is what life is about. The universe does not pass value judgments on the way you spend your life.
    Your perception of reality is what determines whether you are living life or squandering it.

    That said, IMHO, playing WoW is worse than having a meaningful relationship with another person, and better than drinking yourself into a stupor every weekend in the hopes of finding a meaningful relationship with someone.
  • Re:level 80 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DKlineburg ( 1074921 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @05:18AM (#23034018)
    I have to agree, I realized how social I had become in a MMO when part of a large guild, and I didn't log in for a week due to RL problems. When I logged in on the next Saturday (when everyone is on) I go inundated with "DYAS!!!! Where you been?" and such. I enjoy the social part, from grouping with that level 10 new member in the guild to kill level 8 bears I one shot for pelts, to running the high end instance with a group of 12 or 24 hard core gamers that still wipe because they made it insane. I have a hard time explaining to people what I do playing games like this. They want to know what I do, and I find it tough to show them. Well I log onto Ventrilo, and use my mic to talk to these guys from around so we can take down this really big boss at the end of a 6 hour instance so I can get the last piece of my set armor which took us a month to learn how to get to the guy, much less about 3 months to get the entire group the entire set. I think the best thing to relate it to would be football. I will watch it sometimes, but to me it is entirely social. Yes there are hardcore fans just like in MMO's, but most are there for the social thing. I think the social aspect can be said about anything, bowling league, pool league, and darts come to mind. MMO's have just taken an age old thing, a social gathering, and put a fantasy backdrop online to it. Now that a lot of larger guilds use things like Ventrilo, being able to log onto that and talk to people before you even get into the game adds to the social aspect. I need to now go back to this PVP war, and push the enemy out. I'm in a large 24 man raid and we are wiping the floor.
  • by cordsie ( 565171 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @05:41AM (#23034112)
    As a matter of fact, you can thank the profitable World of Warcraft franchise for bankrolling the development of Starcraft II.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mindwanderer ( 1169521 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:10AM (#23034228)
    I agree that it's not grinding if there is challenge present. I lost count of the number of hardcore characters I took through Diablo 2, and they were always fun right from the Den of Evil all the way up to Bhaal. Thing is, permadeath wouldn't be much of a challenge because world PvE in WoW is a complete joke and you could even bypass the difficult quests. And no, permadeath on a PvP server would never be implemented for reasons which I believe are quite obvious.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ukyoCE ( 106879 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @06:47AM (#23034378) Journal
    FYI, World of Warcraft HAS "stateful shared quests" which remain active until completed by any character, which then triggers a different quest. They've had several world events such as this (not sure if Sithilius was first?), and in BC they now have several other world quest events and world quest cycles that depend on the world-wide progress, as opposed to single-character progress.

    Funny how you seem to know all the secrets to making a MMORPG "fun and interesting and genuinely massive", yet none of the companies that make these games can figure it out. When are you releasing your amazing new MMO so I can experience your great work?
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pokerdad ( 1124121 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @07:37AM (#23034592)

    Death needs consequence.

    Death needs consequence if you want people to avoid dying.

    I agree that the result of a world having no consequences to dying is absolute absurdity, however, most players seem to think that consequences to dying kills fun, and as long as the masses think that, no game will be as popular as wow without having carefree deaths.

  • Re:No permadeath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Angvaw ( 992553 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @09:22AM (#23035322)
    Can't speak for the others, but in Nethack your death usually comes within the hour, or if you do really well, within several hours. You groan, check out your high score, and start again. Plus the game is mostly about handling random situations, so a replay of levels 1-n isn't going to feel too repetitive (others may disagree).
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @12:08PM (#23037432) Journal
    > In Eve, fair combat is almost unheard-of - very few players are willing to risk
    > losses when the odds are only 50/50.

    Ironically, this is highly realistic. One poster on their boards even has the .sig of "If you find yourself in a fair fight, you haven't done your homework."

    A fair fight you barely win = disastrous losses for your side. And half the time you'll lose completely. It is not the situation to be in in a fight, only barely more acceptable than going into overwhelming odds.

    In the Battle of Britain, I think they considered 30% loss rate in an air battle to be unacceptably high, yet they were in such dire straits they exceeded even that, going nuts on zergling production.

  • Re:No permadeath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuzak ( 959558 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @01:23PM (#23038288) Journal
    > FYI Blizzard invented a game like this. Its called 'hardcore Diablo 2'.

    I'd love to see a hardcore realm then. I don't even play PVP, but I think it'd be an interesting game. Unfortunately I also think it'd be full of nothing but Holy Paladins with a bubblehearth macro on a hotkey.
  • by DarthTeufel ( 751532 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @01:29PM (#23038368)
    But... if they weren't playing WoW what would they do? Its all about having a limited amount of free time and knowing how to spend it. If people's marriages are ending because of WoW, then there are much bigger issues involved. I tell my fiancee, "would you rather me go out and drink with the guys at a bar?"
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gad_zuki! ( 70830 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @01:54PM (#23038594)
    The real problem with that setup is that the "i have all day to game" demographic is usually just bored teenagers. So once they control the towns, the currency, and the quests you'll end up logging in and told by "GnarrlyDude" to "fetch me a burrito of knowledge for an advnaced twinkie." Thats the best case scenario. Most likely it would degenerate into a Second Life fetish fest.

    WoW works for the exact opposite reasons. Its centrally controlled, quests and mobs are in-game, etc.

    Dont get me wrong. ToA sounds like heaven to me, but you need some serious role-players and people dedicated to running this thing well. I doubt your average WoW player could fill those shoes. I would imagine this would only work with lots of "players" who were actually employees and some pretty strict filtering, censorship, and lots of bans and kicks.
  • Re:No permadeath (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Smauler ( 915644 ) on Friday April 11, 2008 @03:00PM (#23039580)

    I think he means 'gunk' as in 'you didn't get the really shit attempt at a joke'.

  • Re:No permadeath (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot@cPERIOD ... minus punct> on Saturday April 12, 2008 @04:17PM (#23048754) Homepage Journal

    FYI, World of Warcraft HAS "stateful shared quests" which remain active until completed by any character, which then triggers a different quest. They've had several world events...
    If it's a major event, then it's an event, not a quest. City of Heroes has the same halfway attempt with invasions -- and they simply aren't up to snuff.

    Funny how you seem to know all the secrets ...
    1: "Design a fun game" and "Program a fun game" are two very different skill-sets, but the industry doesn't let you do the former until you've done the latter -- because they don't value the former as highly.

    2: Who said it was a secret? City of Heroes was designed to be an amusement park. World of Warcraft was designed to be "warcrack." These were choices made by those companies, for justifiable fiscal reasons. The only possible thing that could keep either Blizzard or NCSoft or CCP from doing an immersive, player-driven PvE game is the likelihood of failure in trying something new.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal