Author Archive

Collecting data from many sources, I submit the Big Fat Glyph Table for WoD. I submit without comment, except the following.

  • I celebrate at last the removal of one of the two Stampede glyphs. Such a pain to track two different ones.
  • Let’s discuss this table.
    • Unchanged – The same glyph will exist in WoD. There is no guarantee that it will function precisely the same, but it’s more or less survived intact.
    • Removed – The glyph with this Item ID is being replaced with a thing called Charred Glyph, an item worth exactly 50s in the coming expansion. So sell it for whatever you can get unless all you can get for it is less than 50s.
    • Changed – The glyph you have now will change to something else, but it will still be a glyph that you can sell. Look at the “Comments” column for the name of the glyph it will change to. Not that matters a whole lot pre-patch.
    • New – A new glyph will be introduced with a new Item ID. You are not prepared.
    • Uncertain – I am getting conflicting information.  For example, one source says the glyph is being added, but the datamined data on wod.wowhead.com says it doesn’t exist.  Since this doesn’t affect the pre-patch activities that much, just keep an eye on it.  See the comments column for any relevant info.

The table itself can be filtered, segmented, or sorted at your whimsy.  And that’s pretty much all I have to say.  Enjoy.

UnchangedRemovedChangedNewUncertainComments
Absorb Magic
Afterlife
Aimed Shot
Ambush
Angels
Animal Bond
Anti-magic Shell
Aquatic Form
Arcane Explosion
Arcane Language
Arcane Power
Ardent Defender
Armors
Army of the Dead
Aspect of the Beast
Aspect of the Cheetah
Aspect of the Pack
Aspects
Astral Communion
Astral Recall
Avenging Wrath
Barkskin
Beacon of Light
Binding Heal
Black Ice
Blackout Kick
Blade Flurry
Bladed Judgement
Blessed Life
Blind
Blinding Light
Blink
Blitz
Bloodcurdling Shout
Bloodthirst
Bloody Healing
Blooming
Blurred Speed
Borrowed Time
Breath of Fire
Bull Rush
Burden of Guilt
Burning Anger
Camouflage
Capacitor Totem
Carrion Swarm
Cat Form
Celestial Alignment
Certificate of Ownership
Chain Lightning
Chaining
Chains of Ice
Charm Woodland Creatures
Cheap Shot
Chimera Shot
Circle of Healing
Clash
Cleansing Waters
Cleave
Cloak of Shadows
Colossus Smash
Combustion
Condensation
Cone of Cold
Confession
Conflagrate
Conjure Familiar
Consecration
Contemplation
Corpse Explosion
Counterspell
Crackling Tiger Lightning
Crimson Banish
Crittermorph
Crow Feast
Curse of Exhaustion
Curse of the Elements
CursesIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Cyclone
Dancing Rune Weapon
Dark Archangel
Dark Simulacrum
Dark Soul
Dark Succor
Dash
Dazing Shield
Deadly Momentum
Death and Decay
Death Coil
Death from Above
Death Gate
Death Grip
Death's Embrace
Decoy
Deep Freeze
Deep FrostIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Deep Wells
Delayed Coalescence
Deluge
Demon Hunting
Demon Training
Demonic Circle
Denounce
Detection
Deterrence
Detox
Devotion Aura
Die by the Sword
Direction
Disappearance
Disengage
Disguise
Dispel Magic
Dispersion
Distract
Distracting Shot
Divine Plea
Divine Protection
Divine Shield
Divine Storm
Divine Wrath
Divinity
Double Jeopardy
Dragon's Breath
Drain Life
Efflorescence
Elusiveness
Ember Tap
Empowerment
Enchanted Bark
Endless Wrath
Enduring Deceit
Enduring Healing Sphere
Enduring Infection
Energy
Energy Flows
Enraged Speed
Enslave Demon
Entangling Roots
Ephermal Spirits
Eternal Resolve
Evaporation
Evasion
Evocation
Expel Harm
Explosive Trap
Expose Armor
Eye of Kilrogg
Fade
Fae Silence
Faerie Fire
Falling Meteor
Far Sight
Fear
Fear Ward
Feint
Felguard
Feral Spirit
Ferocious Bite
Festering Blood
Fetch
Fighting Pose
Final Wrath
Fire Elemental Totem
Fire from the Heavens
Fire Nova
Fireworks
Fists of Fury
Flame Shock
Flames of XorothIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Flaming Serpent
Flash of Light
Flawless Defense
Flying Serpent Kick
Focused Mending
Focused Shield
Focused Wrath
Fortifying Brew
Fortuitous Spheres
Foul Menagerie
Free Action
Freedom Roll
Freezing Trap
Frenzied Regeneration
Frost Nova
Frost Shock
Frostfire Bolt
Gag Order
Garrote
Gateway Attunement
Ghost Wolf
Ghostly Speed
Gouge
Grace
Grounding
Grounding Totem
Guard
Guardian Spirit
Guided Stars
Gushing Wound
Hammer of the Righteous
Hamstring
Hand of Freedom
Hand of Gul'dan
Hand of Sacrafice
Harsh Words
Havoc
Headhunting
Healing Storm
Healing Stream Totem
Healing Touch
Healing Wave
Health Funnel
Healthstone
Heavy Repercussions
Hemorraghing Veins
Hemorrhage
Heroic Leap
Hex
Hindering Strikes
Hoarse Voice
Hold the Line
Holy Fire
Holy Nova
Holy Resurrection
Holy Shock
Holy Wrath
Honor
Horn of Winter
Hurricane
Ice Block
Ice Trap
Icebound Fortitude
Icy Runes
Icy Touch
Icy Veins
Illumination
Illusion
Imbued Bark
Immediate Truth
Imp Swarm
Impaling Throws
Improved Distraction
Incite
Inferno Blast
Inner Fire
Inner Sanctum
Innervate
Inquisition
Inspired Hymns
InterruptionIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Intimidating Shout
Jab
Judgement
Keg Smash
Kick
Killing Spree
Lava Lash
Lava Spread
Leap of Faith
Leer of the Ox
Lesser Proportion
Levitate
Liberation
Life Cocoon
Life Pact
Life Tap
Light of Dawn
Lightning Shield
Lightwell
Lingering Ancestors
Long Charge
Loose Mana
Loud Horn
Maim
Mana Gem
Mana Tea
Marking
Mass Dispel
Mass Exorcism
Master Shapeshifter
Master's Call
Maul
Mend Pet
Mending
Metamorphosis
Might of Ursoc
Mighty Victory
Mind Blast
Mind Flay
Mind Freeze
Mind Spike
Miraculous Dispelling
Mirror Image
Mirrored Blades
Misdirection
Mocking Banner
Momentum
Moonwarding
Mortal Strike
Mystic Shout
Nature's Grasp
Necrotic StrikeIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Nightmares
Nimble Brew
No Escape
Omens
One with Nature
Outbreak
Paralysis
Path of Frost
Pathfinding
Penance
Pestilenceto Boil Blood
Pick Lock
Pick Pocket
Pillar of Frost
Pillar of Light
Play Dead
Poisons
Polymorph
Pounceto Rake
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Mending
Protector of the Innocent
Prowl
Psychic Horror
Psychic Scream
Purge
Purify
Quick Revival
Raging Blow
Raging Wind
Rain of Frogs
Raise Ally
Rallying Cry
Rapid Displacement
Rapid Rolling
Rapid Teleportation
Reactive Shielding
Rebirth
Recklessness
Recovery
Recuperate
Redirect
Reflective Shield
Regenerative Ice
Regenerative Magic
Regrowth
Rejuvenation
Remove Curse
Renew
Renewed Tea
Renewing Mists
Resilient Grip
Resonating Power
Restored Faith
Revive Pet
Riptide
Rising Tiger Kick
Rude Interruption
Rune Tap
Runic Power
Safe Fall
Savagery
Scatter Shot
Scourge Imprisonment
Seal of Blood
Shackle Undead
Shadow
Shadow Bolt
Shadow Magic
Shadow Ravens
Shadow Walk
Shadow Word: Death
Shadowflame
Shadowy Friends
Shamanistic Rage
Shamanistic Resolve
Sharp Knives
Shattering Throw
Shield Slam
Shield Wall
Shifted Appearances
Shifting Presences
Shiv
Shocks
Shred
Silence
Siphon Life
Skull Bash
Slow
Smite
Smoke Bomb
Snake Trap
Snake TrapNew rune, old name.
Solace
Soothing Mist
Soul Consumption
Soul Swap
Soulstone
Soulwell
Sparring
Spell Reflection
Spellsteal
Spinning Crane Kick
Spinning Fire Blossom
Spirit of Redemption
Spirit Raptors
Spirit Roll
Spirit Walk
Spirit Wolf
Spiritwalker's Aegis
Spiritwalker's Focus
Spiritwalker's Grace
Splitting Ice
Sprint
StampedeAt last, we only have one glyph by this name to track!
Stampede
Stampeding Roar
Stars
Stealth
Strangulate
Strengthened Resolve
Subtlety
Sudden EclipseIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Surging Mist
Survival Instincts
Sweeping Strikes
Tame Beast
Targeted Expulsionto Detoxing
Telluric Currents
Templar's Verdict
the Alabaster Sheild
the Battle Healer
the Bear Cub
the Blazing Trail
the Chameleon
the Cheetah
the Compy
the Consecrator
the Drawn Sword
The Executor
the Exorcist
the Falling Avenger
the Floating Butterfly
the Flying Serpent
the Geist
the Heavens
the Ice Reaper
the Inquisitor
the Lakestrider
the Lean Pack
the Liberator
the Long Winter
the Luminous Charger
the Monkey
the Mounted King
the Ninth Life
the Orca
the Penguin
the Porcupine
the Predator
the Raging Whirlwind
the Redeemer
the Righteous Retreat
the Sha
the Shapemender
the Spectral Wolf
the Sprouting Mushroom
the Stag
the Subtle Defender
the Treant
the Val'kyr
the Watchful Eye
the Weaponmaster
Thunder
Thunder Strike
Thunderstorm
Totemic Encirclement
Totemic Recall
Totemic Vigor
Touch of Death
Touch of Karma
Tranquil Grip
Tranquilizing Shot
Transcendence
Travel
Tricks of the Trade
Twilight Ward
Unending Breath
Unending Rage
Unending Resolve
Unholy Command
Unholy Frenzy
Unstable Affliction
Unstable Earth
Ursol's DefenseIf it's being added, there is currently no data.
Vampiric Blood
Vampiric Embrace
Vanish
Vendetta
Verdant Spheres
Victorious Throw
Victory Roll
Victory Rush
Water Elemental
Water Roll
Water Shield
Weakened Soul
Whirlwindto Wind and Thunder
Wild Growth
Wind Shear
Winged Vengance
Word of Glory
Zen Flight
Zen Focus
Zen Meditation

Comments 1 Comment »

This is what I get from believing patch notes.

The following glyphs are not inherently learned, and therefore valid for sales..

  • Might of Ursoc
  • Nature’s Grasp

Comments Comments Off

With the dissemination of the WoW 6.0.2 PTR patch notes, we now have a first good idea as to what the glyph landscape will look like post-Warlords.

In this first round, we are informed that some glyphs will now become known inherently as you achieve certain levels in-game. In other words, you won’t have to buy a glyph off the AH or make it or have it made in order to learn that glyph. Good news for everyone else, bad news for us.

We made several improvements to the Glyph system. While leveling, characters unlock Glyph slots at several specific levels. However, in order to get glyphs, characters need to visit an Auction House (and potentially pay way more gold than an average character of that level has yet), or know a Scribe from which to request them. To solve this, we’ve made characters learn some Glyphs automatically as they level. Additionally, we now have the ability to make some glyphs exclusive with each other, or require specific specializations.

Source

What this means for you is that all the glyphs in this list will potentially be turned into something called a Charred Glyph. These are worth exactly 50s when the patch drops – which is a pretty good deal considering what you can currently vendor a glyph. for something around 14s.

There’s a far shorter list of glyphs which have an uncertain future. To be honest, this could be a data mining error on WoWHead. Some – according to WoWHead – remain untouched, while some of them just … go away.

My methodology here was simple. I took the list from Blizz, looked them up on WoWHead noted the ID of the glyph, then looked it up on the Beta WoWHead. Easy enough. If you see a flaw in that logic, act accordingly.

So here’s the plan.

  1. Fire sale the glyphs on the list of those going away when the patch drops, stopping at 50s + auction fees.  If the price drops below that threshold, stash the glyphs and sell them for 50s apiece when 6.0.2 drops.
  2. Glyphs on the ‘uncertain’ list will probably go the same route … so it’s probably safe to follow option 1 with them as well. But if you feel that WoWHead is more reliable than Blizzard in this regard, by all means, set them aside or just keep them in your sale rotation, business as usual.

Here’s a couple of lists for you.

Glyphs turning to Charred Glyph

  • Alabaster Shield
  • Ambush
  • Avenging Wrath,
  • Black Ice
  • Blink
  • Bloodthirst
  • Breath of Fire
  • Bull Rush
  • Cat Form
  • Cheap Shot
  • Chimera Shot
  • Dash
  • Dazing Shield
  • Deadly Momentum
  • Death and Decay
  • Death Grip
  • Demon Training
  • Denounce
  • Dispersion
  • Divine Storm
  • Double Jeopardy
  • Drain Life
  • Ember Tap
  • Enraged Speed
  • Entangling Roots
  • Eternal Earth
  • Fade
  • Fae Silence
  • Faerie Fire
  • Fear
  • Ferocious Bite
  • Final Wrath
  • Fists of Fury
  • Flame Shock
  • Flash of Light
  • Fortuitous Spheres
  • Frost Nova
  • Frost Shock
  • Frostfire Bolt
  • Gag Order
  • Healing Touch
  • Healing Wave
  • Healthstone
  • Holy Fire
  • Levitate
  • Liberation
  • Light of Dawn
  • Lightning Shield
  • Long Charge
  • Mana Tea
  • Master Shapeshifter
  • Maul
  • Mending
  • Might of Ursoc
  • Mind Blast
  • Misdirection
  • Nature’s Grasp
  • Omens
  • Pathfinding
  • Penance
  • Polymorph
  • Rapid Rolling
  • Rebirth
  • Recuperate
  • Reflective Shield
  • Rejuvenation
  • Renew
  • Savagery
  • Shield Wall
  • Shifting Presences
  • Siphon Life
  • Slow
  • Smite
  • Spinning Crane Kick
  • Spiritwalker’s Grace
  • Stealth
  • Templar’s Verdict
  • the Executor
  • Thunder
  • Unholy Command

Glyphs with Uncertain Futures

  • Harsh Words
  • Totemic Recall
  • Victory Roll
  • Victory Rush
  • Water Elemental
  • Word of Glory

Comments 1 Comment »

In the past few days you may have noticed that whatever tool you use to download the "realm-specific" version of The Undermine Journal addon (that contains auction data specific to you realm) has stopped working. If you had the means, you might have discovered that instead of an HTTP "200" response (meaning all is well) it returned a "402" response (meaning "payment required").  If you were using my little automated update tool, you would be one of those people.

Fortunately, there is an easy remedy.  All you have to do is go to the "realm specific" page and download it directly, ONCE, to prove you are still alive.  The author of TUJ and its addon flipped a switch somewhere so as to shake out any robots that are not actually connected to humans.

So, simple instructions.

  1. Go to The Undermine Journal
  2. Select your realm
  3. Click on SITE in the title bar
  4. Click on "WoW Addon".
  5. Log in using whatever account you would normally use there.
  6. Scroll down to "Addon Download"
  7. Select whatever realm(s) you are interested in.
  8. Copy the URL of the "Download Your Addon Here" link (in FireFox, it’s right-click and then "copy link location")
  9. Save the link you copied – you’ll need it later.  I usually use a Windows7 post-it.
  10. Left-click on that link and download the file – you can use it or not.

Now, if you’re using my little automation script, you need to go open it up in your favorite text editor, and change the line that has the URL that you used previously, and replace it with the one that you just recently copied.  After that, all should be well.

Comments Comments Off

I’ve been watching other servers merge get linked and I’ve been kind of curious as to how the linking affects their economy. Starting this Thursday, Alleria, a high-pop server (my home) is linking to Khadgar, a low-pop server.

Some of the comments I’ve seen from low-pop servers (and one medium-pop) indicate that there are lot of "makers" but very few "takers", keeping prices low and sales flat. Here on Alleria, even common commodities like herbs can sell out, prices can get a bit up there, and things generally do move.  Even at that, our prices on Alleria have been historically below the average for all realms1.

My own business has been brisk.  I generally can’t keep the shelves fully stocked, I’m always playing catch-up.  On average I pull in 25,000 GP a week. The glyph business has, surprisingly, remained a decent source of income, especially since Blizzcon2.

So what happens when Khadgar’s population gets to taste these waters? That … is the great unknown. Will they inundate us with an oversupply of all things? Will they be starved for goods? Will my counterpart on Khadgar be a total jerk, intent on driving me out of business?3

It’s all, at this point, rather exciting, from a glyph market geek point of view. My *hopes* are that it will be positive.  I might even get to bring some glyphs out of retirement if prices pick up. But even if it goes the other way, I could take at least 25-50% market depression and still get along fine.

In a few days I’ll follow up, allowing things to stabilize – probably after the weekend.


  1. Thanks, TUJ Realm-specific addon! []
  2. I guess peeps are genuinely excited by things to come. []
  3. For the record, that’s been tried before. Go for it. I am Asia. Bring the land war. []

Comments 6 Comments »

After patch 5.4.2 was applied, you may have noticed something like this:

Notice anything missing?

Notice anything missing?

No matter who it was, the nameplates no longer showed the names, making them just ‘plates’.  If you used something like TidyPlates you might not have this problem, but there were a lot of other people that did.  What was up?

The first clue emerged on the forums – if you had Tekkub’s Tekticles installed, which modified the fonts used in game, you might have this problem.

But if you weren’t using Tekticles, and still had that problem?  Look for an app called BetterFont – "!BetterFont" on your addon panel, and thus near the top.  If you have this installed, disable it. You’ll probably no longer have the problem.

If you have neither of these, search out other font-altering addons.  If unsure, disable them all, and then enable each one, one at a time, until the problem occurs again. That’ll be the addon causing the issue.

Comments 2 Comments »

Here’s the problem

Not one to mince words here. If you are using MMOUI Minion, WoW Interface’s “auto-updater” tool, you need to know that it’s either broken or going to break soon for you.

Here’s why.

MMOUI Minion is based off of the Java virtual platform (Often referred to as the JRE, or Java Runtime Environment).  This is a programming language that has gained so much mass that it has curled in the universe around it, giving itself its own “platform” status, similar to “PC” or “Mac” or “Amiga”. This is marketed as a virtue – “write once, deploy anywhere” – and for that reason it is very popular among non-system programmers – web programmers, smart phone programmers, etc.

Java is owned by Oracle, and is very aggressively promoted and supported. There are regular updates, and therein lies the problem. Recently, Java 7 was released and many people, when asked, said “Yes” to the question, “Would you like to update for free?”1

Now, normally this sort of thing has two aspects.

  • There is the HOORAY aspect in which everyone benefits from new features, either immediately or somewhere down the road.  Not necessarily YOU, mind you, but maybe a programmer, corporation, or ad man somewhere is cheering the release of Java 7 right now.
  • There is also an OMG SADFACE aspect, in which some things cease to work.  This is not unexpected. Interfaces change, and programs may need to be recompiled or rewritten to accommodate that.  In that case, you go to the website of the offending program, look at the forums, and find out when they plan on updating the program so that it works again.

I think you see where this is going.

MMOUI Minion was written in such a way that it broke when Java 7 was installed.  Well, that’s the breaks, but surely there’s a fix ready to go. After all, any pro Java coder will probably be working on that well ahead of the Java 7 release, using beta releases of the platform, much as addon authors do with the PTR so that their addons are ready when the patch day comes.

I searched in vain, and finally found some comments on the WoW Interface fora that alluded to the Minion app being abandoned. There was no announcement. There was no posted workaround. The download page is still there. For the love of the Titans, there wasn’t even a bug report!  Well, maybe there was, but I can’t see it. All bug reporting has been redirected to an external website – behind an authentication wall, so you can’t even RESEARCH whether a fix is forthcoming.

This kind of behavior just gets on my nerves. I mean, at least post an announcement and a workaround, or an announcement that it’s abandoned at the very least.  Or take down the download page, at the very very least! To do otherwise is very disrespectful to the users.

Here’s a solution

So the problem is that when you installed Java 7, the MMOUI Minion file itself was not upgraded. It will still work fine if Java 6 is used.  So we need two things.  We need (1) Java 6, and we need (2) to make MMOUI Minion use it.  Neither is exactly straightforward, but neither is impossible, either.

Getting the software2

  • Go http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/java/javase/downloads/jre6downloads-1902815.html.
  • Select the Accept License Agreement button (the “red” circle).
  • Select the Windows download of your choice (the “pink” circle). There are three variants – x86 offline and online3, and Windows 64.  If you’re not sure if you need the Win64 version, select the x86 version.
  • Click on the appropriate link and download it.
  • Once you’ve downloaded it, run the installer.  You want to make sure that it goes into its own directory – for example, on my PC it’s C:\Program Files\Java\jre6\, leaving Java 7 in C:\Program Files\Java\jre7\.4

Setting it up

Okay, you got Minion and you got Java 6.  Here’s where we put it all together.

  • Locate your MMOUI Minion icon.
  • Right click on it to bring up its properties dialog.
  • Select SHORTCUT.
  • Under “Target” you should see: “C:\Program Files\MMOUI Minion\minion.jar” ((Or something very similar. Once again, if you chose other than the default, I trust you know how to translate my instructions.))
  • Change this to: “C:\Program Files\Java\jre6\bin\java.exe” -jar “C:\Program Files\MMOUI Minion\minion.jar” This will force Java 6 to be used to run the program.
  • Select the APPLY button and close the dialog.

Double-click the icon to test out your work. If all is well, you’ll see a console window pop open, then the Minion program.  Unfortunately, you may have to re-configure it if you recently re-installed in a desperate attempt to make it work.  Sorry, can’t help you there.

If you’re annoyed by the console window, however, I CAN help.

  • Reopen the properties dialog for the icon (right-click).
  • Next to the RUN label, select MINIMIZED. (It was previously set at NORMAL WINDOW).
  • Hit APPLY again and close the dialog.

And that’s it!  I hope this has helped you.


  1. And hopefully “No” to the question, “Would you like a useless crufty piece of crep toolbar installed in your browser?” Well, they stated it more kindly, which is to say, they lied. []
  2. This is for Windows. Mac Heads, you’re on your own. But you’re our wisest computer users, so I have faith in you. []
  3. I recommend the offline version because there’s no telling when the online version will get hidden behind an authentication wall. []
  4. This is largely arbitrary and dependent on how you personally set up your system. I assuming that if you put your Java Runtime Environment somewhere other than the default, you already know enough to sort this out. []

Comments Comments Off

By now, if you’re dedicated enough to read even this blog, you’ve seen this announcement from Activision / Blizzard. To wit: Activision / Blizzard has bought its financial independence from its corporate masters, Vivendi Universal.

I’d like to point out a few things.

First of all, note that it’s still Activision / Blizzard.  Not just Blizz.  Blizz is still joined to Activision via a cash-transporting umbilical cord.  The pernicious influence of Activision and Bobby Kotick is still very much an active part of Blizzard’s future.  Vivendi didn’t once enter into things, but Activision, well, that’s a very active threat to Blizzard’s moral well-being, and has been.  I have no idea if they’ve managed to hold the line against the darkness over there at Pasadena, but here’s hoping they can continue, if so.

Second of all: I don’t care who they are, if they were valuated at EIGHT BEEEELYUN dollars and have over THREE BEEELYUN in cash reserves after that, they are not an "indie" company, any more than EA is.  "Independent" and "indie" really mean two different things, and the people calling the A/B monstrosity "indie" should be hauled through the internet into 4chan by their lower lip and left there to suffer. Independent is fine. Indie is not.

Finally, this should send chills through anyone’s heart:

"The transactions announced today will allow us to take advantage of attractive financing markets while still retaining more than $3 billion cash on hand to preserve financial stability."

– Bobby Kotick

"Attractive financing markets" sounds suspiciously like "we’re going to invest our capital in things other than producing games."  There’s an accountant in there somewhere urging little Bobby to put cash on derivatives or something. 

Well, I hope not.  But anything that is other than a direct investment in the game studios’ health is a misuse of funds, in my opinion.


"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

– Mark Twain, who attributed to Benjamin Disraeli

You may have also noticed that in the same conference, they quietly released the subscriber numbers for 2013Q2.  Aaaand the numbers are down again, down to 7.7 subs, which haven’t been that low since before BC launched..

Sub Numbers

These are based off of Blizzard’s reported subscription numbers, and represent roughly the paying player base – though the numbers leading up to MoP are probably artificially inflated by the annual pass numbers – though they seem to be interested in good-faith estimates, so maybe they’re based off of active logins or something.

But the interesting thing is, as you can see, the numbers form a bit of a bell-curve formation. If you fit a trend line to this, you end up somewhere between 2015 and 2017 for the day that the final WoW player logs out of Azeroth, never to return.  This is of course not a real date, because this would never happen – Blizz would pull the plug at 100 players, obviously, and they’d all log off at once.  Or something like that.

The variation on the curve depends on whether you take the whole data set, or start at 2010Q4 when WoW was peaked. One is an overall dataset, one is just a map of the decreasing trend.  Take your pick, but I tend to favor the latter because it takes less of old and obsolete data into account.  The fact that it yields the more favorable 2017 date has nothing to do with it.

Something else jumps out if you cook the data in a different manner.

Gains and Losses

This is a chart explicitly showing gains and losses, rather than just bulk numbers.  Here are things about this chart.

  • Up through the start of Wrath, the rate of growth was flat; that is to say, the numbers kept growing, but at a more or less steady rate – no glitches that weren’t understood.
  • One of those understood glitches was the start of BC, when we got what is now considered the traditional "expansion bump".  We see this throughout the game’s history.
  • Sub data for most of Wrath is missing1.  In that gap there IS one quarter reported, and it had zero growth on the previous quarter (11.5 mil).
  • From the start of Cataclysm, it’s been more or less a steady down trend, though I caution that the biggest down spikes are outnumbered by lesser down spikes (or one upward). 
  • But the data do suggest a pretty profound downslope, nonetheless.

It’s also impossible to say when Blizz started to sweat the losses.  The huge gaps in the Wrath period reveal nothing.  Maybe they saw a down trend at that point and decided to start compensating by nerfing up the game in Cata. Or maybe they thought of nerfing up the game as part of a grand strategy that started to be realized in Cata.

Either way, it’s pretty obvious where the decline really starts to gather momentum.  So what are the possible reasons for this?  Here are some possibilities.

  1. Players are getting bored and just come back for the new content. This seems like it would be a more gentle downturn, with sharper uptake and more gentle dropoff in between expansion lines. And we do see some of this, but it’s not the overarching pattern.
  2. Players don’t like the changes to the game’s difficulty. i.e. "Azeroth has been nerfed!"
  3. Players hate casuals.  This goes with the above.  Sure, I’m part of the quested-in-the-snow-uphill-both-ways crowd at times, but I don’t begrudge others the less difficult climb.  I don’t need others to suffer to feel better about myself.  But the haters, the ones that hate "casuals", well, if I hadn’t seen it myself I would say it was impossible for people like that to exist, but they do.  WoW has its own virtual Civil Rights movement, in which the haters are played by Archie Bunker and the "casuals" are played by, well, actual people. More on this anon.
  4. Other games have come online that are clearly as good or better. I don’t know about better, but many have come online that might be as good in many ways.  I’ve personally experienced Eve and Neverwinter and feel both hold up well.  Where they don’t hold up is the people, in that the people I like to hang with aren’t in those games.  I’m such a camp follower.  And STWOR came out right in the middle of that big decline, so it’s not so much a "trigger".
  5. Free to play games! This too is a big one, and probably one of the biggest.  Back when WoW came out, you could pay money to Sony or to Blizzard to get your fantasy on; these days, fantasy MMORPGs are all over the place, and free-to-play. Neverwinter, Rift, Aion, GW2, and more are out there just waiting for you to download a free client or buy one and then play for free.  Even STOWR made the transition (not very well, I hear.). More on this in a minute, as well.
  6. WoW is old and crufty.  Well, that’s about as subjective as it gets.  I’ve played other games that have "better" graphics and I can’t really say there’s a lot going on there.  I will say the armor and weapon models are, a lot of times, a lot more interesting to look at. The toons – player and NPC – however often hit that "uncanny valley" of near-realism that just turns off the brain.  WoW makes no pretenses about how it chose to depict its characters, and it’s paid off again and again.  Just … hurry up with those player model improvements, guys?  Thanks.

So there’s two things I want to focus on.

The Nerfing of Azeroth

Over time, Blizzard has done a lot to nerf things in the game.  I’ve generally felt it was a bad idea.

This harks to the recent Blog Azeroth shared topic of "is leveling too easy?". A lot of people confused "too easy" with "easier".  Can we agree that the two aren’t equivalent?  Yes? Good. Let’s proceed.

If you accept that "easier" and "too easy" aren’t the same thing, then you won’t feel locked into asserting that leveling in Azeroth is NOT "too easy" but it IS "easier".  I can think of dozens of examples.

  • Mor’ladim is a joke compared to his past self, who terrorized the Raven Hill cemetery with an iron fist.  You always had to work your questing around his whereabouts or suffer the consequences. And don’t give me any guff about "it’s subjective".  He was an elite.
  • Stitches‘ epic journey from Raven Hill to Darkshire put terror into the hearts of travelers. Many’s the time I stopped to help someone else bring him down.  Also many’s the time I hid to one side of the road until he passed. You needed a group; now the game supplies you with one.
  • That horrendous run from Menethil to Ironforge so you could take the tram to Stormwind if you were an Night Elf or Draenai.
  • That horrendous run to Booty Bay.  Back then there wasn’t a Rebel Camp with a gryphon. And, as I found out on my first outing, even the grass was deadly.
  • Even Princess was painful.
  • You didn’t just waltz into the area outside of an instance; it was full of elites.  People forget how terrifying it was to go into Deadmines the first time to do that quest for the miner’s guild.

These were all painful rites of passage that those of us that leveled up in early WoW remember and understand.  They are all gone the way of the dodo, either because of new flight points, or new boats, or nerfed zones, or even nerfed NPCs. There are hundreds more examples like this, things that are absolutely, indisputably easier than they were prior to Cata. Anyone that says it’s just my experience in the game making it SEEM that way isn’t thinking it all the way through. There were real challenges that simply aren’t around anymore.

The question of whether it is too easy is another matter because it addresses Blizzard’s actual decision to make the leveling game go easier at lower levels.  Starting as far back as Wrath, maybe sooner, they started taking the starch out of expansion zones as we got near the end of the expansion. A journey that might take you all the way to Storm Peaks at the start of Wrath, for example, might end somewhere in Sholazar – if you got that far, even!  Faiella managed to get to 80 in Dragonblight2.

Did they go too far?  There is a fine line between challenge and chore; did they cross it? That’s at the heart and soul of this issue, I think.

When they redesigned Azeroth for Cataclysm, many zones were reworked completely – quests redone, levels changed, elites nerfed, and so forth.  And yet people felt like they were on a conveyor belt; you couldn’t start quests at hub "B" until you finished all the ones at "A" and were directed to "B".

My feelings are that they went too far, and did a poor job on the redesign of Azeroth, and that this legacy has carried forth into other aspects of the game, including MoP.

They’re *trying* to understand user feedback, but I think they’re letting their game designer’s instincts be subverted by management’s insistence that they "make the game more accessible", and it’s backfiring because people don’t want to be spoon-fed stuff.  After all, if you just want to look at the assets3, there are tools that let you do that without actually playing!

GC and Flying Mounts

Here’s an example of a designer going against what he knows is right; flying mounts take you out of the world and make you an observer of, rather than a part of, that world. When he speaks elsewhere of the importance of "exploration", he’s referring not to the act of flying all over the place to clear areas of the map – that’s "mapping" – but being down in the world’s nooks and crannies and discovering things about it.

Granted you can’t currently fly in a zone until you hit max level. But even that’s an arbitrary rule imposed to overcome the hinkyness of being able to just fly all over the place. It was a bad idea in BC, it was a hakneyed idea in Wrath, and it was a hideous idea in Cata, so now that we’re in MoP, it’s pretty much a given that you’re going to get it one way or another.

When we played one of the old Gold Box or Black Box series, exploration – the peering into corners, the poking at things and the pulling of levers4 were integral parts of the games. This is part of what made them fun.  Games without a few dead ends and red herrings were generally received with a gigantic yawn.

Blizzard game designers know this, but in an attempt to make the game "more accessible", some of this aura of mystery and magic may have been lost.

I think that if they plan to turn things around, they may have to address this. Put back some of the danger. Make a few things not pan out exactly the way the user wants. Require a little bit of effort in some (non-critical) places. Give people a reason to want to explore places like Winterspring, which is otherwise pretty useless since nobody ever sees it.

Answering the Threat

The one-two punch of new and prettier games, along with the F2P model, are another concern, and one which I think Blizz is dealing with.

Improvements to the gaming assets – character models, scenery, and so forth – have been taking places incrementally since Vanilla. But to many, that’s not good enough. They look at the character models presented in Neverwinter, for example, and complain that "all they have to do" is add some polygons.

But overall, I don’t think anything major will happen in WoW concerning the game engine. They’re working hard on "Titan" for the next big thing, but since it’s been set back, don’t look there for help.

For good or ill, we’re going to have to make do with incremental improvements in our game assets until WoW is sunsetted5.

The other threat is the F2P model.

Early on, F2P pretty much meant "free to play but don’t expect much in the way of updates".  I encountered F2P first in Anarchy Online, which is still going strong on that model – well, as strong as an out of date game can go strong. 

The advantages of F2P is that the barrier to entry is pretty low. All you need is a game client and an internet connection.  In some cases you have to pay for the client, but that’s a one-time expenditure that few would argue with.  Others will even give you the client for free. Some have turned that around and give you the client but charge you to play – we won’t talk about them for now, they’re small and okay with that.

How does a F2P game keep the servers running?  Well, there are a few ways, such as ads in-game (I first saw this in AO), and, and … well, there’s the "cash shop".

The "cash shop" is usually an external web site that you go to to purchase items to use in-game. In most cases you buy currency, then use that currency in-game, such as "Zen" in Neverwinter.  For the most part you can only purchase cosmetic and non-game-changing items, though in some very poorly implemented instances, that’s not necessarily true.

So what have we seen implemented recently? A cash shop.

I know dozens of bloggers and opinionators have said that Blizzard would never go F2P.  I have never heard anyone from Blizzard say that. 

WoW is Blizzard’s "cash cow".  For those that have never heard of such a thing, a "cash cow" is something that’s not really top of the line, but keeps bringing in money in a reliable stream.  So you keep "milking" it until it runs dry.  For example, at one place that Grimmtooth Actual worked, he worked on a lot of bleeding edge server systems, but over in a dark corner was a guy named "Dave" that worked on some pretty archaic looking stuff.  He explained, while it was far from state of the art, it was being used by thousands of banks across the world, and any time one broke down, they needed a replacement.  So he was the guy that farmed our cash cow while we went and burned off that money with our splashy R&D.

So WoW’s kinda like that right now.  And Blizz wants to keep that cash cow on the farm for as long as possible. With today’s numbers, that’s over 100 million bucks a month of solid income.  At TWO million players it’s 30 million a month, so even that can’t be sneezed at – would it actually cost that much to keep the servers up?

Unfortunately, that’s where I run out of steam, sort of.  I have no idea of what kind of numbers a big F2P title6 brings in. I don’t even know how to guess.  SWTOR claims that shifting to F2P "doubled" its income, but given its draconian implementation, let’s hope for better if WoW ever goes that route.

At the moment I think it’s likely they will, especially since the wait for "Titan" is probably going to be well past 2015, and possibly even 2017.

The question becomes, then: will I play an F2P WoW?

It’s going to depend on the implementation.  A Neverwinter-like implementation MIGHT work, assuming the restrictions aren’t too annoying.  One like SWTOR would see me drop out in a hurry, however.

At the moment we can only hope for the best.


  1. I’m guessing that Blizz thinks of reporting sub numbers in the same way it thinks of Blizzcon – if too busy, just skip it. []
  2. The plural of data is not anecdote, of course, so take that for what you will. []
  3. "Asset" in this context is the artwork, character models, sounds, music, and anything else even remotely "arty" used by the game itself. []
  4. Wait, no, not THAT one!!! []
  5. It’s a word, now. []
  6. That doesn’t suck. []

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A few months ago, Google announced that it was discontinuing Google Reader.  A mad scramble has ensued to find replacement readers. This post is not about that.

This post is about a hidden asset that Google Reader provided, namely web clips.  What this was was a way to organize your RSS feeds in Reader, then create links to those folders that would allow you to display a reading list on your blog consisting of the feeds in those folders. Viola! Instant blogrolls!  There was peace in the valley and joy amongst the peasants.

Even now, less than a week before Reader bows out, this still works, but time is running out.  I have no idea what will happen to these links when Reader goes dark, but it can’t be good for your blog.

Now is the time to get busy moving your blogroll from this nicely automated format to something else.  I personally redid the site using WorPress’s own internal link database.  It was clunky as hell but at least I got it loaded. Bonus: the site loads a lot faster now!  It seems Google was a bit slow on inter-site responses (huge surprise there).

So check out your blog, if you blog, and make sure you’re not relying on Google’s soon to be broken machinery for your blogroll.

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Grimmtooth hit level 90 in the Wastes.

Jasra hit 90 while flagging goat turds.

Flora hit 90 while flagging goat turds.

I hit 90 turning in the goat turd quest.

I think Blizz is having a little fun at our expense, in response to our complaints about poop quests.

Well played, Blizz.

But remember: he who lives by the goat turd, dies by the goat turd.

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