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World of Warcraft
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World of Warcraft
Information about World of WarcraftWorld of Warcraft, often referred to as WoW, is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) by Blizzard Entertainment. It is the fourth released game set in the fantasy Warcraft universe, which was first introduced by Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in 1994 (19 years ago). World of Warcraft takes place within the Warcraft world of Azeroth, two years after the events at the conclusion of Blizzard's previous Warcraft release, Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Blizzard Entertainment announced World of Warcraft on sep. 2, 2001 (12 years ago). The game was released on Nov. 23, 2004 (9 years ago), on the 10th anniversary of the Warcraft franchise.
The first expansion set of the game, The Burning Crusade, was released on Jan. 16, 2007 (6 years ago). The second expansion set, Wrath of the Lich King, was released on Nov. 13, 2008 (5 years ago). The third expansion set, World of Warcraft: Cataclysm (6 walls), was announced at BlizzCon 2009 (4 years ago).
With more than 11.5 million monthly subscribers, World of Warcraft is currently the world's most-subscribed MMORPG and holds the Guinness World Record for the most popular MMORPG. In Apr. 2008 (5 years ago), World of Warcraft was estimated to hold 62 percent of the massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) market.
Starting a character or a play sessionAs with other MMORPGs, players control a character avatar within a game world in third person view (with the option of playing in first person), exploring the landscape, fighting various monsters, completing quests, and interacting with NPCs or other players. In common with many other MMORPGs, World of Warcraft requires the player to pay for a subscription, either by buying game cards for a pre-selected amount of playing time, or by using a credit or debit card to pay on a regular basis.
To enter the game, the player must select a realm (or server). Each realm acts as an individual copy of the game world, and falls into one of four rule-set categories. Realms are either Player versus player (PvP), where open combat among players is more common, or Player versus environment (PvE), where the gameplay is more focused on defeating monsters and completing quests; roleplay (RP) variants of both realm types are also available. On a PvP or RP-PvP server a player may create characters belonging to either the Horde or the Alliance factions, but not both. Realms are also categorized by language, with in-game support in the language available. Players can move established characters between realms for a fee. Then the player may either select one of their previously made characters or create a new one.
To create a new character, in keeping with the storyline in the previous games in the Warcraft series, players must choose between the opposing factions of Alliance or Horde. Characters from the opposing factions can perform rudimentary communication and trade, but only members of the same faction can speak, email, group, and share guilds. The player selects the new character's race (species), such as Orcs or Trolls for the Horde or Humans or Dwarves for the Alliance. Players must also select the class for the character, with choices such as mages, warriors and priests available. Some classes are limited to particular races.
Ongoing gameplayAs characters become more developed, they gain various talents and skills, requiring the player to further define the abilities of that character. Professions such as tailoring, blacksmithing, mining, cooking and first-aid can also be learned by characters. Characters may also form or join guilds, allowing characters in the same guild unified communications, a shared guild name, and possibly identity, guild bank and dues.
Much of World of Warcraft play involves "questing". These quests, also called "tasks" or "missions", are usually available from non-player characters (NPCs). Quests usually reward the player with experience points, items, and/or in-game money. It is also through quests that much of the game's story is told, both through the quest text and through scripted NPC actions. Quests are linked by a common theme, with the next quest triggered by the completion of the previous, forming a quest chain. Quests commonly involve killing a number of creatures, gathering a certain number of resources, finding a difficult to locate object, speaking to various NPCs, visiting specific locations, interacting with objects in the world, or delivering an item from one place to another.
While a character can be played on its own, players can also group up with others in order to tackle more challenging content. In this way, character classes are used in specific roles within a group. World of Warcraft uses a "rested bonus" system, increasing the rate that a character can gain experience points after the player has spent time away from the game. When a character dies, it becomes a ghost (or wisp for elf character) at a nearby graveyard. Characters can be resurrected by other characters that have the ability, or can self-resurrect by moving from the graveyard to the place where they died. When a character dies, the items equipped by the character degrade, requiring in-game money and a specialist NPC to repair them. Items that have degraded heavily become unusable until they are repaired. If the location of the character's body is unreachable, they can use a special NPC known as a spirit healer to resurrect at the graveyard. When the spirit healer revives a character, items equipped by the character at that time suffer increased degradation, and the character is significantly weakened for ten minutes. This "Resurrection Sickness" does not occur and item degradation is less severe if the character revives by locating its body.
World of Warcraft contains a variety of mechanisms for player-versus-player (PvP) play. Some realms allow player-versus-player combat almost anywhere in the game world. In these environments, members of opposing factions can attack each other at almost any time or location. Player-versus-environment (PvE) servers, by contrast, allows a player to choose whether or not to engage in combat against other players. On both server types, there are special areas of the world where free-for-all combat is permitted. Battlegrounds, for example, are similar to dungeons: only a set number of characters can enter a single battleground, but additional copies of the battleground can be made to accommodate additional players. Each battleground has a set objective, such as capturing a flag or defeating an opposing general, that must be completed in order to win the battleground. Competing in battlegrounds rewards the character with tokens and honor points that can be used to buy armour and weapons.
SettingWorld of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. In addition to sharing the "Warcraft" name with the real-time strategy games in the Warcraft series, it is set in the world of Azeroth and has similar art direction.
World of Warcraft takes place in a 3D representation of the Warcraft universe that players can interact with through their characters. The game world features three continents on the world of Azeroth and a separate planet known as Draenor, original home of the Orc and Draenei races, now referred to as Outland. In this game world, players use their characters to explore locations, defeat creatures and complete quests, among other such activities. By doing this, characters gain experience points. After a set amount of experience points have been gained, a character gains a level, opening up the option of learning new skills or abilities, exploring new areas and attempting new quests. As a player explores new locations, a number of transport shortcuts become available. Players can discover "flight masters" in newly discovered locations and then use those NPCs in order to fly to previously discovered locations in other parts of the world. Players can also use facilities such as boats or zeppelins in order to move from one of the continents on Azeroth to the other. Although the game world remains reasonably similar from day to day, seasonal events that reflect on real world events such as Halloween, Christmas, Children's Week, Easter and Midsummer have been added. Locations can also have changeable weather such as rain, snow and dust storms.
A number of facilities are available to characters when in towns and cities. In each major city characters can access a bank in order to deposit items, such as treasure or crafted items. Each bank is unique to that character, with players able to purchase additional storage space. In the major cities of Azeroth, Auction houses also exist as a way for characters to sell items to others in a similar way to online auction sites such as eBay. Players can also use mailboxes, which can be found in almost every town. The mailbox can be used to collect items won at auction and also to send messages, items and even in-game money to other characters.
Some of the harder challenges in World of Warcraft require players to group together to defeat them. These usually take place in dungeons, also known as instances, that a group of characters can enter together. The term comes from each group or party having a separate copy or instance of the dungeon, complete with their own enemies to defeat and their own treasure or rewards. This allows players to explore areas and complete quests without other players outside the group interfering. Dungeons are spread over the game world and are designed for characters of varying progression. A typical dungeon will allow up to five characters to enter as part of a group. Some dungeons require more players to group together and form a raid of limited size (up to forty players) to face some of the most difficult challenges. As well as dungeon-based raid challenges, several creatures exist in the normal game environment that are designed for raids to attack.
DevelopmentWorld of Warcraft was first announced by Blizzard at the ECTS trade show in sep. 2001 (12 years ago). Development of the game took roughly 4–5 years, and included extensive testing. The 3-D graphics in WoW use elements of the proprietary graphics engine originally used in Warcraft III. The game was designed to be an open environment where players are allowed to do what they please. Quests are optional and were designed to help guide players, allow character development, and to spread characters across different zones to try to avoid what developers called 'player collision'. The game interface allows players to customize appearance and controls, and to install add-ons and other modifications.
World of Warcraft runs natively on both Macintosh and Windows platforms. Boxed copies of the game use a hybrid CD to install the game, eliminating the need for separate Mac and Windows retail products. The game allows all users to play together, regardless of their operating system. Although there is no official version for any other platform, support for World of Warcraft is present in Windows API implementations Wine and Cedega, allowing the game to be played under Linux (40 walls) and FreeBSD.
Regional variationsIn the United States, Canada and Europe, Blizzard distributes World of Warcraft via retail software packages. The software package includes 30 days of gameplay for no additional cost. In order to continue playing after the initial 30 days, additional play time must be purchased using a credit card or prepaid game card. The minimum gameplay duration that a player can purchase is 30 days using a credit card, or 60 using a prepaid game card. A player also has the option of purchasing three or six months of gameplay at once for a slight (6% to 15%) discount. In Australia, the United States, and many European countries, video game stores commonly stock the trial version of World of Warcraft in DVD (Digital Versatile Disc) form, which include the game and 14 days of gameplay, after which the player would have to upgrade to a retail account by supplying a valid credit card, or purchasing a game card as well as a retail copy of the game.
In South Korea, there is no software package or CD key requirement to activate the account. In order to play the game, however, players need to purchase time credits online via credit card or the ARS billing system. There are two kinds of time credits available, one where the player is billed based on the actual number of minutes that will be available, and one where the player can play the game for a number of days. In the former, time can be purchased in multiples of 5 hours or 30 hours, and in the latter, time can be purchased in multiples of 7 days, 1 month, or 3 months. As software packages are not required, expansion pack contents are available to all players on launch day.
In China, because a large number of the players do not own the computer they use to play games (e.g. Internet cafes), the CD keys required to create an account can be purchased independently of the software package. In order to play the game, players must also purchase prepaid game cards that can be played for 66 hours and 40 minutes. A monthly fee model is not available to players of this region. The Chinese government and The9, the licensee for World of Warcraft in China, have imposed a modification on Chinese versions of the game which places flesh on bare-boned skeletons and transforms dead character corpses into tidy graves. These changes were imposed by the Chinese government in an attempt to "promote a healthy and harmonious online game environment" in World of Warcraft. The Chinese government has also delayed release of the Wrath of the Lich King expansion, due to what it feels is objectionable content. The9 will lose their hosting license to Netease in Jun. 2009 (4 years ago) following the expiration of their current contract.
Post-launch developmentThe World of Warcraft Launcher (referred to in press releases and the menu bar as the "Blizzard Launcher") is a program designed to act as a starting point for World of Warcraft players. It provides a way to launch World of Warcraft and starts the blizzard updater. It was first included with the version 1.8.3 patch. The 2.1.0 patch allowed for an option to bypass the use of the launcher. Features of the launcher include news and updates for World of Warcraft players, access to World of Warcraft's support website, access to the test version of World of Warcraft when it is available to test upcoming patches, updates to Warden, and updates to the updater itself. The 3.0.8 patch redesigned the launcher and added the ability to change the game settings from the launcher itself..
Patch 1.9.3 added native support for Intel-powered Macs, making World of Warcraft a Universal application. As a result of this, the minimum supported Mac OS X version has been changed to 10.3.9; World of Warcraft version 1.9.3 and later will not launch on older versions of Mac OS X.
When new content is added to the game, official system requirements may change. In version 1.12.0 the requirements for Windows were increased from requiring 256 MB to 512 MB of RAM. Official Windows 98 technical support was dropped, but the game continued to run there until version 2.2.3.
ReceptionWorld of Warcraft was almost universally praised by critics upon release, following a period of high anticipation before launch. Although the game follows a similar model to others in the genre and was noted for having many familiar concepts from roleplaying games, the new approaches to reduce pauses between game encounters was well liked. A common example was the new approach to character death; in previous MMORPGs a player would suffer a high penalty for character death, while in WoW a player would be able to recover and start playing quickly. Combat was another area where "downtime" or pauses between play were reduced. By allowing all character types to recover from damage taken, players could return to combat quickly. It was felt that these changes in pacing would make the genre more accessible to casual players, who would be able to play for short periods and still achieve something, while still having a depth of game that would attract players at all levels of interest in the genre. The concept of a "rested bonus", or increasing the rate at which a player's character gains experience was also welcomed as a way for players to quickly catch up with their friends
Questing was described as an integral part, often being used to continue a storyline or lead the player through the game. The high number of quests in each location was popular, as well as the rewards for completing them. It was felt that the range of quests removed the need for a player to "grind" or carry out repetitive tasks in order to advance their character. Quests also seemed to require players to explore every section of the game world, potentially causing problems for social gamers or roleplayers seeking somewhere quiet. Quests that required the player to collect items from the corpses of creatures they had killed were also unpopular, with a low "drop rate" or chance of finding the items required making them feel repetitive as a high number of creatures would need to be killed in order to complete the quest. Some critics mentioned a lack of quests that required players to group up made the game feel as if it was designed for solo play, while others complained that some dungeon or instance-based group quests were not friendly to new players and could take several hours to complete. Upon release, a small number of quests had errors or bugs that would make them impossible to complete, while the large number of new players in a particular area meant that there were often no creatures to kill, or that players would have to wait and take turns to kill a particular creature in order to complete a quest.
Characters were felt to be implemented well, with each class option appearing "viable and interesting", having unique and different mechanisms, and each of the races having a distinct look and feel. Character development was also liked, with the talent mechanism offering choice to players and profession options being praised. Character customization options were felt to be low, but the detail of character models was praised.
The appearance of the game world was praised by critics. Most popular was the feature that a player could run from one end of the continent to the other without having to pause at a "loading screen" while part of the game is retrieved from storage. The environment was described as "breathtaking", with players finding it difficult to become lost and each area in the game world having a distinct look that blends from one to the next. Critics described the environment as "a careful blend of cartoon, fantasy art, and realism". The game was found to run smoothly on a range of systems, although some described it as basic and mentioned that the bloom graphics effect can blur things. Having said that, one reviewer described being able to fly over long stretches of scenery as "very atmospheric". The user interface was liked, being described as "simple", with tooltips helping to get the player started.
The audio was well received, particularly the background music. By assigning music to different areas of the game world, reviewers felt that the fantasy style added to immersion and that the replay value was increased. The sounds and voices used by characters and NPCs, as well as the overall sound effects were felt to add a "personality" to the game.
World of Warcraft won several awards from critics upon release, including Editor's Choice awards. In addition, it won several annual awards from the media, being described as the best game in the RPG and MMORPG class. The graphics and audio were also praised in the annual awards, with the cartoonish style and overall sound makeup being noted. The game was also awarded Best Mac OS X Entertainment Product at the 2005 (8 years ago) Apple Design Awards. Finally, World of Warcraft was recognised at the 2005 (8 years ago) Spike TV Video Game Awards, where it won Best PC Game, Best Multiplayer Game, Best RPG and Most Addictive Game. In 2008 (5 years ago), World of Warcraft was honoured (along with Neverwinter Nights (7 walls) and EverQuest (3 walls)) at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for advancing the art form of MMORPG games.
World of Warcraft was the best-selling PC game of 2005 (8 years ago) and 2006 (7 years ago). As of Jan. 22, 2008 (5 years ago), World of Warcraft has surpassed 10 million subscribers worldwide, with more than 2 million subscribers in Europe, more than 2.5 million in North America, and about 5.5 million in Asia.
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