Category Archives: News You Can Use

Shameless Self-Promotion: A Beginner’s Guide To Driving Traffic to Your WoW Blog

World of Warcraft blogs are unique in the blogging universe (I refuse to say ‘blogiverse’): You have a potential audience of 13 million players, but can only seem to reach fifty or so a day.

There’s a disconnect here. How is it possible that so few people are interested in your guide to Ret Pally gear? How can the comical stylings of Kachunk, Clown of Orgrimmar, go unnoticed by so many? You pour your heart and soul into your posts and then ten people read it.

Of the ten, no one comments.

It’s disheartening.

Not too long ago- I just checked, and it was July- I practically had a heart attack if my site reached the lofty heights of a hundred visitors. I’m not ashamed to say I threw an impromptu party the day it reached 1,000 daily hits, the two of us crowded around the monitor with a hastily-purchased bottle of wine after I noticed it had reached 850 earlier in the evening. These days, I give my stats the slit-eye if they don’t get over 2,000 by noon.

I’m not the least bit embarrassed about my love of the numbers. The more visitors I’ve had, the more people maybe, possibly, perhaps heard something I said and laughed, or picked up the right gear, or- please, Jeebus- re-specced to Discipline.

People don’t like to talk about their WoW blog traffic for the most part; it’s taboo, like talking about your salary or embarrassing sexual ailments. But I am a shameless self-promoter, and my capacity for embarassment is bottomless. With a little work, you can be a shameless self-promoter, too!

And before you ask, yes: I wrote this post to get more blog hits.

See? You’re learning already.

Lesson #1: Know Thine Enemy

You need a way to track visitors to your site so that you can better judge what posts are of interest to the community, and what posts are of interest to no one but yourself.

If you have a WordPress blog, you already have tracking software installed; it’s in ‘Dashboard’ under ‘Site Stats’. If you have a self-hosted blog, or one that allows you to add JavaScript in some way, go get Google Analytics.

It doesn’t matter in the slightest where your visitors are from, what connection type they’re using, or any personal characteristic; what you’re looking for here is trending, not Big Brother.

Your key stats are (a) what pages get the most traffic? and (b) what keywords drive the most search engine traffic to your page? We’ll go into detail on the whys of that in a moment, but those stats must be accessible to you in some way.

Lesson #2: That Social Networking Show

You must have a blog Twitter account. You must have a blog Facebook account. Use them. Befriend others whom you actually like. When you create a new post, add it to both.

Show off your new posts clearly. “New post! This is the Title: short link” works well for me.

Don’t bother with “please RT!”. They will or they won’t; you’re a strong writer whose work speaks for itself.

The same goes for reposting your original announcement; one in the morning and one in the evening works well to hit the day and night crowds, but that’s where it must end.

They will or they won’t.

Strong!

Lesson #3: The Almighty Holler (or Why No One Cares What You Had For Lunch)

The content of your blog is up to no one but you.

However, the desire to read your blog is shared- or not- by the rest of the world. If you’re reading this, you could be home now probably want more of the latter and are willing to reconsider on the former.

You have something to say that is interesting to people who want to read it. You do. This is an indisputable fact. There are far more people out there who read blogs than write them. We just have to crack the acorn of your brain and get to the juicy, readable meat that’s inside.

If you tell a story about yourself, it must have parts that could be applied to other people. This means you DO NOT write about the great gear you’re working on unless you simultaneously talk about how all the brutha’ ret pallys out there could benefit from it, and, if you’re wise, include an amusing anecdote or two about the comedy of errors you’ve run into along the path of acquisition along with links to Wowhead.

This isn’t a diary. No one cares what you had for lunch.

Start specific, get more general. If you start blogging about everything under the sun, it’s difficult to target your audience.

If, however, you start with a niche- ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About DK Tanking But Were Afraid To Ask!’- you gain readers who are interested in your topic, and who then, y’know, recommend you. I know, I know- heaven forfend. And almost every specific topic in WoW, luckily, is practically impossible to exhaust! It’s wonderful!

Once you’ve got your base readership down, then- and only then, and maybe not even then!- start to branch out. Define who you are, even if who you are is a bank-altin’ gold monger, or a WoW blog-link repository, or a pretty dress FIEND!

Niche is king.

Be self-deprecating. You’ve got problems… lots of ‘em! And nothing is funnier or more charming to read than someone who can laugh at themselves.

Besides, it’s immensely cheering to reveal some cringe-inducing moment and have ten people comment to say, “Ahhhh, I did that too! God, I was SO EMBARRASSED! lulz”.

Spellcheck. Non-negotiable.

Lesson #4: You Gotta Spend Love To Make Love

Here’s a hard thought for every new blogger to keep in mind (and one I absolutely tell myself every day): “No one is coming to my site first.”

Unless you’re the editor of MMO Champion or WoW Insider, chances are exceptionally good that no one is coming to visit your blog without going to another WoW site first. Alex Ziebart, you may skip this bit.

Your job- and it is work, but the most fun you can possibly have working- is to get out into the community.

You MUST become an uber-commenter. Traffic comes from two sources: search engines (discussed further below) and referrals. If you have a thought- any old kind of thought- on a post, on any blog whatsoever… COMMENT!

People will click on the link that is by your name. I swear it.

Always, always, always sign in to the commenting system so that you can associate your name with a clickable link to your website.

You MUST comment regularly on the Big Sites. You MUST comment at MMO-Champion. You MUST comment on WoW Insider. If your particular niche has a well-known forums site (PlusHeals.com for any healers, for example), you MUST comment there.

Don’t worry about looking like a fool. Don’t worry about people arguing with you. Don’t be afraid. Start topics! Respond to others!

Get in there and get dirty!

/buttslap

You MUST refer back to your blog and specific blog posts you have written in your comments, with links. This one is optional for commenting on other people’s blogs, but absolutely required for posting on the Big Sites.

If you don’t have your blog linked in your signature on MMO Champions, you’re missing a goldmine of visitors. You’re not forcing people to visit you; they want to come! Make it easy for them to do so.

You’re not doing it in every post, but if a conversation is going on that directly revolves around a post you’ve written, link to your post.

And hey- you don’t have to say you wrote it. I won’t tell.

You MUST have a blog roll. If someone links to you, it’s gentlemanly to link back to them. It doesn’t hurt you one bit, and the blogging community is a community of the first order. Blog Azeroth can tell you that.

If you link to someone, tell them you linked to them! A brief, nice email (‘Hey, love your blog! I’ve stuck it on my blog roll- come visit at disciplinaryaction.org!”) is always polite.

Nothing makes me sadder than finding a link to myself on someone else’s page when I didn’t even know they existed. I want to shamelessly promote WoW blogs- I have more shameless self-promotion than I can handle, and I enjoy getting it on others (especially the unsuspecting!).

Lesson #5: The Key(words) To Success

On a day that I post, most of my readership comes from subscribers and links. On a day that I don’t post, however, a good 85% of my traffic comes from search engines. You need to ensure you’re creating a blog that plays nice with search engine bots; what good is having the best blog going about goblin gold strategies if your average Googler can’t find it?

Be current. If you’ve written a slew of posts on the Cataclysm changes and you’ve tagged them all “4.0.1”, no one searching for 4.0.3 (or 4, or 5) is ever going to find them. If they do stumble on the post, you’re going to look dated.

When a new expansion comes out, upgrade all your date-specific tags if the content of the post is still current.

Use tags. You should never have a post without a category and tags. Tags are search-engine gold.

Don’t use tags that have nothing to do with your post just because that topic seems to be trending- people will get annoyed at your perfidy and leave- but if you’re talking about Ironforge dwarf tossing, you should include everything you can think of that’s relevant to long-range ballistic shorties.

Think like a searcher. Good posters use the word ‘you’ a lot in their writing. That’s great: you’re putting yourself in the place of your reader and mentally inviting them into your work. Nicely done!

When someone searches on Google, though, they overwhelmingly type in things like “can i fly to tol barad” and “how can i gear for a disc priest in Cataclysm”. See the problem? You have to figure out a way to phrase things so that someone searching in the first person finds your blog written in the second person.

How you do that is up to you.

(u see whut i did thur?)

In Conclusion

You don’t have to bump along with fewer readers than you know your writing skillz warrant.

You do have to work to get there… but get there you will! I have enormous faith in the brainpower that drives our strange, WoW-centric branch of the universe. I salute you and want to see you all succeed.

And when you do, link to me.

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Best Races for Priests in Cataclysm

Cataclysm is here, and we’re asking the same questions: what new alt should I roll?

If you’re rolling a new disc priest and need to know how racial bonuses will benefit you, look no further!

(Racial Traits from Wowpedia.org; thanks as always, guys!)

HORDE

  • Blood Elf
    • Racial Traits
      • Arcane Affinity : 10 point skill bonus to Enchanting (note, this also raises the cap by 10 at each level of enchanting).
      • Magic Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by spells by 2%.
    • Assessment
      • Excellent. Arcane Torrent serves as an additional mana return ability, to be used in rotation with Shadowfiend, Hymn of Hope, and mana potions. to me, that’s a game-changing racial, and the best in the game for disc priests. Enchanting is a great choice of profession for priests as well, so go us.
  • Forsaken (aka Undead)
    • Racial Traits
      • Will of the Forsaken : Removes any CharmFear and Sleep effect. 2 minute cooldown.
      • Cannibalize : When activated, regenerates 7% of total health and mana every 2 seconds for 10 seconds. Only works on Humanoid or Undead corpses within 5 yards. Any movement, action, or damage taken while Cannibalizing will cancel the effect. (Mana aspect added in Cataclysm)
      • Underwater Breathing : Underwater breath lasts 233% longer than normal.
      • Shadow Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%
    • Assessment
      • Good. Mana regen through Cannibalize is nice, but requires an actual humanoid corpse, which will be awkward in high-level instances. Will of the Forsaken is great if you’re going to PvP with your Disc Priest, but isn’t as important for the raider/leveler.
  • Goblin
    • Racial Traits
      • Rocket Jump : Activates your rocket belt to jump forward. 2 minute cooldown, shared with Rocket Barrage.
      • Rocket Barrage : Launches your belt rockets at an enemy, dealing X-Y fire damage. (24-30 at level 1; 1654-2020 at level 80). 2 min. cooldown shared with Rocket Jump.
      • Time is Money : Cash in on a 1% increase to attack and casting speed.
      • Best Deals Anywhere : Always receive the best discount regardless of faction standing.
      • Pack Hobgoblin : Calls in your friend, Gobber, allowing you bank access for 1 min. 30 minute cooldown.
      • Better Living Through Chemistry : Alchemy skill increased by 15.
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. Time Is Money is a decent haste bonus, and Best Deals Anywhere is nice for everyone! The bonus to Alchemy is solid, but only if you’re taking the Alchemy/Herbalist route for professions (a solid priest choice). Overall the bonus to haste is not that big of a game-changer, and the other talents are too non-priest-specific to make it our recommendation pro-goblin. On the other hand, a goblin priest would look fantastic in Tier 10 gear and their hair choices are fabulous.
  • Tauren
    • Racial Traits
      • War Stomp : Activate to stun opponents – Stuns up to 5 enemies within 8 yards for 2 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.
      • Endurance : Base health increased by 5%.
      • Cultivation : Adds a 15 point skill bonus to Herbalism as well as increases the speed you can gather herbs. (Note, this also raises the cap by 15 at each level of herbalism). Faster gathering speed added in Cataclysm.
      • Nature Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%.
    • Assessment
      • Poor. The only marginally useful trait would be the Herbalism bonus for an Alchemy/Herbalism-trained priest; the rest are not useful to priests in the least.
  • Troll
    • Racial Traits
      • Berserking : Activate to increase attack and casting speed by 20% for 10 seconds. 3 minute cooldown.
      • Regeneration : Increase health regeneration bonus by 10%. Also allows 10% of normal health regen during combat.
      • Da Voodoo Shuffle : Reduces the duration of all movement impairing effects by 15%. Trolls be flippin’ out mon!
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. In theory, you won’t need health regeneration as you’ll be protected from direct hits by your friendly local tank, but if mana management is as restrictive as promised, a small personal health regen bonus may be welcome. Berserking offers haste increase similar to goblins’ Time Is Money, but the other bonuses are not priest-specific.

ALLIANCE

  • Draenei
    • Racial Traits
      • Gift of the Naaru : Heals the target of X damage over 15sec. The amount healed is increased based on the caster’s Spell Power or Attack Power, whichever is higher. 3 minute cooldown.
      • Heroic Presence : Increases chance to hit with all spells and attacks by 1%. No longer affects nearby allies as of Cataclysm.
      • Gemcutting : 10 point skill bonus to Jewelcrafting (note, this also raises the cap by 10 at each level of jewelcrafting).
      • Shadow Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Shadow spells by 2%.
    • Assessment
      • Poor. Gift of the Naaru is a decent self-healing spell when the mana chips are down, but really- Binding Heal would be even better. Heroic Presence doesn’t help you, as healing spells on friendly targets always hit. But you already knew that, right? And you don’t have any hit on your gear, RIGHT?
  • Dwarf
    • Racial Trait
      • Stoneform : Activate to remove poison, disease, and bleed effects; +10% Armor; Lasts 8 seconds. 2 minute cooldown.
      • Gun Specialization : increases chance to critically hit with Guns by 1%.
      • Mace Specialization : Increases expertise with maces and two-handed maces by 3.
      • Frost Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Frost spells by 2%.
      • Explorer : You find additional fragments when looting archaeological finds and you can survey faster than normal archaeologists. Cataclysm
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. None of these are useful to disc priests. But dwarf priests! Will wonders never cease? Hard lobbying by the pro-dwarf community made me rethink my original ‘Poor’ rating of dwarves; the high mana cost of Remove Disease and other cleansing abilities in Cataclysm renders their Stoneform pretty valuable (even if they can’t cast it on others). I think that’s worth a bump up to the next level. Now stop biting my kneecaps.
  • Gnome
    • Racial Traits
      • Escape Artist : Escape the effects of any immobilization or movement speed reduction effect. Instant cast. 1.45 min cooldown.
      • Expansive Mind : Increase mana pool by 5%. Change to mana pool from Intellect occurred with Cataclysm.
      • Arcane Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Arcane spells by 2%.
      • Engineering Specialist : 15 point skill bonus to Engineering (note, this also raises the cap by 15 at each level of Engineering).
      • Shortblade Specialization : Expertise with Daggers and One-Handed Swords increased by 3. Cataclysm
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. The only thing we care about here is the mana pool increase by 5%. It’s a nice little bonus, and- while not being the best in the game- is certainly nothing to sneeze at.
  • Human
    • Racial Traits
      • Every Man for Himself : Removes all movement impairing effects and all effects which cause loss of control of your character. This effect shares a cooldown with other similar effects, 3 minute cooldown.
      • Diplomacy : Reputation gains increased by 10%.
      • The Human Spirit : Increase spirit by 3%.
    • Assessment
      • Good. The Human Spirit is the only real bonus we get here, but the extreme emphasis on mana regen in Cataclysm bumps the human race from Mediocre to Good in my book.
  • Night Elf
    • Racial Traits
      • Shadowmeld : Activate to slip into the shadows, reducing the chance for enemies to detect your presence. Lasts until cancelled or upon moving. Any threatis restored versus enemies still in combat upon cancellation of this effect, 2 minute cooldown.
      • Quickness : Reduces the chance that melee and ranged attackers will hit you by 2%.
      • Wisp Spirit : Transform into a wisp upon death, increasing speed by 75%.
      • Elusivesness: Reduces the chance enemies have to detect you while Shadowmelded and increases your speed while stealthed by 5%. Faster stealthed speed added in Cataclysm
      • Nature Resistance : Reduces the chance you will be hit by Nature spells by 2%.
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. I play a nelf priest myself, despite the lack of decent racials. The one bonus of nelf priestness is the excellent Shadowmeld, with which you can (with luck) hide in the shadows during a group wipe and rez everyone without the run.
  • Worgen
    • Racial Traits
      • Darkflight : Activates your true form, increasing movement speed by 40% for 10 sec. 3 minute cooldown.
      • Viciousness : Increases critical strike chance by 1%.
      • Aberration : Increases your resistance to harmful Nature and Shadow effects by 1.
      • Flayer : Skinning skill increased by 15 and allows you to skin 0.5 seconds faster.
      • Two Forms : Turn into your currently inactive form. 1.5 sec cooldown.
      • Running Wild : Drop to all fours to run as fast as a wild animal. Serves as the worgen “mount”.
    • Assessment
      • Mediocre. The only thing that salvages worgen from poor priest racials is the small increase in Critical Strike… Bbut you know that’s not going to stop us from rolling the baddest priest on the shape-shifting block.
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Discipline Priest Builds for 4.0

Check out our guide to Disc Priest Gear in Cataclysm

These builds are now active in patch 4.0.3. You can add onto them- without respeccing- in Cataclysm, when the level cap increases to 85 and you can pick up the last four talent points. Consider them a starting point for experimenting with all the fun new elements of the disc priest!

Check out DA’s main priest: Liala’s Current Build and Stats at WoW Armory

SAMPLE BUILD #1: The Standard Shielding Disc Priest (aka SHIELDSPEC)

Interactive Talent Calculator for Build #1

This build includes many talents familiar to WotLK disc priests, including Improved PW:Shield, Grace, Rapture, and Divine Aegis, among others. I’ve also picked up a few new talents:

  • Darkness: Improves spell Haste by 3% (Shadow)
  • Power Word: Barrier: Summons a barrier in a certain location that shields any friendly target within it.
  • Soul Warding: Reduces cooldown on PW:Shield by 2 seconds.

This build should feel very familiar to current Disc Priests. For variation, I’d recommend dropping 2 points of Veiled Shadows (Shadow; reduces cooldown on Fade and Shadowfiend) for two ranks of Inspiration (Holy; increases healing of Holy heal spells).

Recommended Glyphs
Prime: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Power Word: Barrier
Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel … and the rest currently suck for us; try Dispel Magic and Holy Nova, just for giggles
Minor: Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Shackle Undead (I’d switch this one out with Glyph of Levitate, but it’s a personal preference)

SAMPLE BUILD #2: The Smite/Shield Hybrid Disc Priest (aka SMITESPEC)

Interactive Talent Calculator for Build #2

This build is highly experimental; Blizzard clearly wanted PvPing Disc priests to do more damage through the use of Smite, as you can see from the inclusion of a number of new talents (Evangelism, Archangel, and Atonement). This might also be a nice leveling build, enabling a dedicated Disc priest to heal through 5-man instances and solo quest without changing specs. New talents include:

  • Evangelism: Increases the damage and decreases mana cost of Smite, Holy Fire, and Penance each time you cast Smite (or Mind Flay).
  • Archangel: Consumes your Evangelism effect so that, rather than increasing the damage, etc., of your next Smite (see above), restores a percentage of mana and boosts your healing effects.
  • Atonement: Heal a nearby target (or yourself) for 80% (40% for yourself) each time you Smite.

For a possible variation, I’d consider dropping 2 points in Darkness (haste increase) for two points in Veiled Shadows (Shadowfiend and Fade cooldown reduction).

Recommended Glyphs
Prime: Glyph of Penance, Glyph of Power Word: Shield, Glyph of Renew
Major: Glyph of Mass Dispel, Glyph of Divine Accuracy, Glyph of Smite
Minor:  Glyph of Shadowfiend, Glyph of Fortitude, Glyph of Fading (all that Smite-ing’s going to be generating threat that you’ll have to control much more than the Shield build)

Don’t be afraid to play around with the new talents; good luck and have fun!

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Warcraft Christmas Crafts, 2010: WoW Potion Labels

A Shamelessly Photoshopped Representation

It may be some weeks yet until Christmas, but I thought we could all use a little holiday cheer and hands-on fun in advance of the season!

If you’re at a complete loss as to what to get your Warcraft playing spouse, friend, or family member, or perhaps simply possessed of the very emptiest pockets this holiday season (and who among us isn’t?), I’ve got the solution to your holiday woes.

Sure, you could send the object of your affection in-game gold, a sparkle pony, or rare drop. But what if you need something a little more tangible to drop in a stocking or push under the tree?

What you need is the Perfect Potion.

THE INGREDIENTS

  • Glass bottle
  • Full-sheet printer label
  • Food coloring
  • Water (or vodka, gin, club soda, or any other clear liquid)

To create your gift, you’ll need to secure some full-sized sheets of adhesive paper or ‘full-sheet printer labels’, which you can pick up at office supply stores, some drugstores, or online ($10 for a pack of 25 sheets). And yes, using the color printer at work would be very, very wrong indeed, and I’d only recommend that if you’re absolutely certain no one’s watching.

You’ll also need glass bottles with stoppers, which are quite unbelievably cheap- I’m talking a dollar or less. You can find glass bottles at any local craft store (Michael’s, say), or find them online. Amazon has a dizzying selection, as do more specialized stores like Specialty Bottle.

Lastly, round up a 3-pack box of assorted color food coloring at your very favorite grocery store, which will set you back the princely sum of $2.39.

Grand Total: $13.39

THE INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Choose one or all of the fabulous designs below, keeping in mind you probably need moar rage. Open the .pdf by clicking on link underneath the image you want.
  2. Print out aforementioned sheet(s).
  3. Take out your safety scissors and cut out the label(s) of your choosing. Do not stab self in eye.
  4. Fill bottle with water. Add food coloring until the effect delights you. Cap that sucker and dry the outside of the bottle thoroughly.
  5. Affix chosen label(s) to chosen bottle. Delight in the effect. Secretly save the best one for your own desk at work.
  6. Present to loved one and claim you thought it up all on your own (I don’t mind).
  7. Bask in the glow of their love.

THE FILES

Please do not reproduce without credit. Not for sale or exchange. Many thanks to my delightful Twitter friends, who were only too happy to point out ways one could meet a grisly end in Azeroth for the Healing Potion label.

Potion of Speed

Potion of Speed

Runic Healing Potion

Runic Healing Potion

Runic Mana Potion

Runic Mana Potion

Flask of Endless Rage

Flask of Endless Rage

Potion of Water Walking

Potion of Water Walking

If you’re not interested in going through the printing process yourself, all of the above designs are available for purchase at the Disciplinary Action CafePress Store.

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The World of Warcraft Workout: Playing on a Treadmill

World of Warcraft players don’t have the best reputation when it comes to physical fitness, and let’s face it: spending hour after hour pwning the face off of internet dragons may give us Conan-like right hand and mouse finger strength, but it does nothing for our stomachs, legs, and bountiful heinies.

I was making a circuit of the Barrens one evening, picking flowers and thinking to myself, as usual, “You should really be on the treadmill. You put it off yesterday. And the day before that.”

“But I really need more Peacebloom!”

“No, you don’t. You need to go work out.”

“But… but… Auction House monies,” my brain protested.

“Go.”

“No! Peacebloom!! … Forever.”

“Okay, kid; I’ll make a deal with you. Go work out, take the laptop with you, and then you can hit three nodes for every mile you run.”

I went down to the treadmill, opened up my laptop and turned on WoW (to better motivate myself, NOT because I planned to hit three nodes before I even started running), and realized something epic.

It looked like… maybe… the laptop would fit in the magazine holder.

I tried it. It did.

No. Way.

But how could I use my mouse? No way would I be able to use the built-in swipe pad. I can’t even do that when I’m standing still. I hunted around and found a shoebox top, cut it (with my teeth, I’m ashamed to say) to fit around the control console and rest on the hand rail, and strapped the entire contraption down with duct tape. It wasn’t pretty, but a few experimental sweeps of the wireless mouse showed me the mouse would at least track.

I got on the treadmill. I turned it up to one mile an hour. I logged into WoW.

It worked.

For the first five minutes or so, it was weird. I couldn’t type without almost falling off, but the mouse situation was fine.

In ten minutes I was using my keyboard shortcuts.

In thirty minutes I was typing.

I cranked the belt speed up to 1.5 mph and started to farm herbs. I denuded the hills of Southern Barrens and took a flight, hit the Auction House, switched characters and mailed myself some gold, moved around heirlooms, attacked some mobs, leveled twice, and then remembered that I was still on the treadmill.

I’d been on it for over three hours, burned over 400 calories and walked almost 5 miles. I hadn’t even noticed I was walking for most of it.

These days, I’m a solid 2 mph girl, and I can easily run PUGs and level while walking, though I haven’t dared raid yet. I upgraded my beloved shoebox mouse pad with a hard piece of plastic (still duct-taped to the handrail; I haven’t gone entirely upscale) topped with an ergonomic mouse pad with gel wrist wrest. I only let myself farm or solo level if I’m walking, and I get at least five miles a day in.

I’ve demanded a TrekDesk for Christmas, and I really don’t think I’ll ever go back to just…. sitting. I feel great, I’ve lost weight without trying in the least, and best of all, that nagging voice that tells me I should be doing something productive instead of playing WoW has vanished forever.

HOW TO PLAY WARCRAFT ON A TREADMILL

You’ll need:

  • A Treadmill: You can actually get them quite reasonably- below $800- if you shop local sales, and Amazon.com regularly offers free shipping on new ones.
  • A Holder for Your Laptop or Monitor: Laptops are much easier to deal with, of course, but you could set up your main computer with only a bit more effort. For laptops, try the SurfShelf ($40), the Amazon Treadmill Book Holder ($14), or just see if your laptop fits in the existing magazine rack like I did. For monitor setups, see below.
  • A Mousepad Setup: This was the hardest thing for me to get together, as you really have to look at your machine and see where you can add a flat surface. My shoebox top actually worked quite well, though I’d recommend that no matter what you do- a thick piece of cardboard, maybe a small piece of plywood cut to fit around the console if you’re handy- you superglue an inexpensive mouse pad with wrist rest ($10-15) on top of it. I found I really tended to lean on my wrist as I walked to steady myself, unconsciously, and the wrist rest helps prevent that. Plus, the mouse pad starts to slide if you don’t glue it down.

People are only just starting to look at the concept of walking at a very slow pace while you’re on a computer. Luckily, it’s been around long enough that there are, in fact, complete walking-and-working computer assemblies being produced already. Be warned, though: the sticker shock of these things is pretty severe, and you absolutely don’t need to get one.

To maximize the comfort and ergonomic function of typing or using a mouse, your forearms should be parallel to the floor and elbows bent at a  90′ angle. If you find yourself really getting into walking while you play (or even work!), one of these might be for you:

  • The TrekDesk: $479. This sucker fits over your existing treadmill and provides truly staggering amounts of desk space. Plus the edge is padded (in case of Sindragosa-like spasms), the desk height moves up and down, and Amazon is currently offering free shipping on it.
  • The Steelcase Walkstation: $4,099. This option is pretty pricey, but it includes the treadmill, which is attached to the desk. It also includes a vertical mount for a flat-panel screen. That’s right. You can bring the good computer over and really go to town!

I hope this information encourages you to at least try walking while you play, no matter how uncoordinated or lazy you feel. Truly, it’s so easy to balance even my grandmother could do it, and you won’t even notice the miles going past.

And hey, it’d be nice to start hearing, “Man, he’s pretty fit. Must play World of Warcraft.”

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Disciplinary Action Adventures: Laws, Sausages, and Comics

I get a lot of emails asking me how I create Disciplinary Action Adventures each week. I thought it might be interesting for aspiring and fellow cartoonists, as well as fun for readers, to see what goes on behind the scenes to create a World of Warcraft cartoon.

1. THE SEED OF AN IDEA

The first stirrings of a comic begin when I think of something funny to write about. For me, this is almost always a single line or character facial expression that makes me laugh. Frequently I’ll wake up with a clear sentence in my head that demands to be explained, and it goes from there.

Insider Moment: For Episode #1, it was “WTB Boobies”, which I overheard on a crowded trade chat. In Episode #2, the phrase “SPLORT!” came to me during lunch. These things cannot be explained.

2. THE POST-IT NOTE OF AN IDEA

Once I have the key phrase, I generally flesh out the comic in an extremely poorly-drawn sketch. These are usually perpetrated on Post-It notes (which I always keep handy), or, if I’m feeling fancy, notepaper. They’re unlovely but help me block out the number of panels I’m going to need and firm up the actual text of the comic. I pull the Post-Its into general coherency with a final, single-page draft of the comic:

 

The horror! The horror!!

 

3. CREATING THE BOILERPLATE

My first order of business is to pull up my blank comic template in Photoshop and start sketching out the frames.

 

Good morning, computer! Computer?

 

I load in the header, which is the same for each comic, and change Liala’s talk bubble in the heading.

 

Clearly this is one was the product of sleep deprivation

 

The next part is certainly one of the most tedious for me, which is blocking out and then drawing the frames. I’ll reference my original sketch, but start to rework the flow if more or fewer panels are needed to keep the page looking uncluttered. The comic is organized by left page and right page, and then by frame within each page. It helps keep the multiple layers (having over a hundred per comic is not unusual) straight in my head.

 

Organization, I has it

 

4. ADDING THE DIALOGUE

After the frames have been drawn, I go into each panel and add the dialogue roughly where I think it will fall in each panel. After that, I go back to each piece of dialogue and add the talk bubbles to the layers underneath.

 

Note to self: Be funny

 

 

5. CREATING THE CHARACTERS

At this point I have a pretty clear image in my head of how each panel will look: the size and placement of the dialogue helps to guide the ‘look’ of each panel, as well. With that information in my head, I open up WoW Model Viewer and create my first character. For new characters, I play around for a bit getting their hair, face, and clothing right, and then I begin to pose that character for each frame.

 

What is dis I are doing here?

 

 

I cut away the non-character background noise, and repeat the process for each panel that the character is in. At the end of the process I’m left with a single file with all of that character’s poses for the strip.

 

It's cool, ladies, there's plenty of Kachunk to go around!

 

 

6. POPULATING THE COMIC

Once all of the characters have a sheet of poses for each panel, I import each pose into the corresponding panel. At this point, everything looks ferociously untidy, but in fact it’s the most fun part of the process.

 

Disorganization, I has it

 

After that’s all set, I go into WoW, visit the location I want, and take a few screenshots to use in the background. After that’s done, the background gets sized and pasted into each panel.

 

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills...

 

Then it’s back into the panels to move and resize the characters, add the tails of the talk bubbles, and paint the shadows. This is when I go back through and make all the little changes or add details.

 

This is usually when I notice something that requires rebuilding the entire comic

 

 

A quick final check, and then it’s ready to post for my readers’ amusement and edification:

Disciplinary Action: Episode #6

The entire process, from idea to finished post, takes about ten to twelve hours, which I tend to spread out over two or three days.

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about what goes on behind the scenes here at Disciplinary Action Adventuuuuuuuuures!

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On Thursdays, It’s Your Turn In The Pit

Zelmaru at Murloc Parliament has been running a magical graphic feature called the Bee Pit:

The Bee Pit is where people who annoy us ought to be thrown.

Annoying PUG? Toss them in the pit.

Someone “forgot” to enchant his gear for the third raid in a row?  Into the pit!

Zel is as funny as she is charming, and when she requested a guest-drawn Bee Pit from your truly, I couldn’t refuse. Happily she’s decided to turn guest-drawn bee pits into a feature- Bee Pits In The Style Of Your Favorite WoW Cartoonist, if you will- and I’d direct all my cartooning brethren over there RIGHT NAOW!

Meanwhile, the rest of us can enjoy the fruits of her bee pit labors in the Bee Pit Gallery.

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Problems With the 4.0 Patch Background Downloader?

It seems that many people are having a big problem with the Blizzard Background Dowloader when trying to update to patch 4.0.0 from patch 3.5.5; I feel your pain, as I was as well. With slow download speeds placing my patch time at around 4 DAYS, I thought I’d hunt around for a solution. And lo, the solution is easy!

1. Start your background downloader by either starting your game or double-clicking ‘Background Downloader’ in (World of Warcraft folder location)> World of Warcraft.

2. Let the Background Downloader run until you’ve achieved at least 1% of the download. If your Background Downloader is hidden, double-click on the Blizzard icon in your system try (bottom right of your screen) to embiggen it. Once you’re at 1% or more, right-click on the icon to exit out of the Background Downloader.

3. Open the folder (World of Warcraft directory)>World of Warcraft>Cache and locate the BackgroundDownload.torr file. If you can’t see the “.torr” part, that’s okay.

4. Open your favorite torrent downloader. I like BitComet, myself.

5. Pull the BackgroundDownload.torr file into BitComet. Click ‘Download Now’.

6. Enjoy the lightening-fast download speeds.

7. When the file is complete, locate the BackgroundDownload file in Cache and move it to the folder labeled ‘Updates’.

8. The End.

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4.0: PTR Priest Review

New Cataclysm Launcher

- MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD -

- I MEAN IT. MASSIVE. -

Disciplinary Action is in the 4.0.1 pre-Cataclysm PTR beta and here to give you the inside scoop on all the changes coming to priests dropping in the next patch. Now, on with the show!

I rolled a brand-new Liala the Priest on the EU Brill server (hey, when am I ever going to get to talk to our brethren across the pond again?). The Character Transfer is still in stasis for me, so we’re focusing this time around on all the shiny new things you get to play with from the get-go.

The new patch downloader (above) allows you to start playing, with the patch continuing to download in the background, after only a fraction of the patch has been completed. Early problems with this system seem to have been very nicely cleaned up; I jumped in when the downloader was at a tiny 5% complete, and had very little trouble accessing the areas I needed.

Blizzard’s done a great job of prioritizing the download of places you’re currently viewing. Non-downloaded content shows up as a shimmering blue smoke, which soon coalesces into the docks at Auberdine, say, or Stormwind castle. If you’re an impatient hothead like myself, you will have a brief (1-3 minute) layover in screenshot land while your starting area is loaded for the first time. The whole process is greatly improved, though, and seems to be working as intended.

THE NEW SPELLBOOK

For All Screenshots: Click to embiggen. The Spellbook has undergone a complete overhaul. Spells now increase in size automatically as you level, rather than needing to be trained at each level at a trainer. With a new look and this new scaling functionality, the Spellbook is looking pretty sharp:

Spellbook: Main Abilities Pane

Spellbook: Discipline Spells Pane, Page 1

Spellbook: Holy Spells Pane, Page 1

Spellbook: Holy Spells Pane, Page 2

Spellbook: Shadow Spells Pane, Page 1

Spellbook: Shadow Spells Pane, Page 2

For those of us with 80 priests, note that we’ll be getting back on that leveling treadmill and fast if we want to get back some of our precious spells: Inner Will is not available until level 83, and the new and exciting Leap of Faith (for you Holies) is unavailable until level 85. Mind Spike, Shadow people, is available at 81.

THE NEW PRIEST TRAINERS

Here as well a new interface makes visiting your Priest trainer feel far more streamlined:

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 1

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 2

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 3

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 4

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 5

Trainer: Priest Spells, Page 6

I sincerely doubt the cost of every spell will be, in the end, 10 coppers; however, we can make the educated assumption that the prices will be somewhat similar to the price levels we currently have in Wrath. My guess is that an endgame-level spell will run you something like 10 to 20 gold.

Looking more closely at the Priest trainer screens, we encounter our first new spell, Mysticism, at level 50. Mysticism is currently tooltipped as a passive bonus that increases Intellect by 5%. Further down the list, Mind Spike provides a Shadowfrost damage and debuff with 1.5 sec cast and no cooldown for the Shadow Priests. Leap of Faith, aka ‘Life Grip’, is available at level 85 and- in case you’ve been hiding under a rock- enables a priest to seize an errant DPS and pull him out of harm’s way. Certainly no one would abuse this privilege for the purposes of base amusement. Ahem. Onward.

Mastery, as for all classes, allows you to specialize in one field of priesting: Discipline Priest Mastery (Absorption) gives you a shield absorb bonus; Holy Priest Mastery (Radiance) places an HoT on any target that is the target of a direct heal. Shadow Mastery is a new mechanism, Shadow Orbs, a chance-cast floating ball system (I see you sniggering in the back) that fly around the caster and cause shadow damage.

MAPPING

You’re now able to select multiple tracking types on the minimap. Not specifically for priests, but for the gathering professions among us, WOOT!

Select a few...

... select 'em all!

PROFESSIONS

With the addition of Archaeology, we now have four secondary professions (First Aid, Cooking, Fishing, and Archaeology) in addition to our standard two primary professions. The professions pane is greatly cleaned up and enchanced, and profession trainers have the same streamlined look as the class trainers.

The Horde Archaeology trainer is Belloc Brightblade, in Grommash Hold, Ogrimmar (he’s a belf wearing a white hat and jacket); the Alliance Archaeology trainer is Harrison Jones in Stormwind Keep, Stormwind.

Professions Pane

Fishing Trainer. Note the 'I'm still loading' smoke in the bottom right.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first look at the 4.0.1 priest changes. As soon as the character transfers unblock themselves, we’ll take an in-depth look at the higher-level spells and get a peek at the new Talents pane!

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Patch 4.0.1 Live On Public Test Realms

Possible spoilers ahead!

Yes!

Patch 4.0.1 is live on the Public Test Realms (PTR).

Yes!

You can go copy your character and play around in there and get so excited you’re going to die.

Yes!

We will be going there directly this evening, copying our priest, and reporting back tonight.

No!

There was nothing specifically about priests in the PTR Patch Notes posted on the forums, but you can read the blue post in its entirety here. Basically, the actual Cataclysm has not yet happened- Dragonwing hasn’t spread his wings of destruction across the continents- but there are enough strange changes to keep us happy for some weeks. For now, here are the known quick-and-dirty changes for the priests:

  • The Spellbook interface has changed
  • Profession and class training interfaces have been upgraded
  • New alerts about which new talents/abilities are available at each level
  • Redesigned character pane which can be organized through click-and-drag
  • New, toggle-able raid frames (!!!). Access through ‘User Interface’
  • Durability has been normalized across armor types so all players pay about the same amount for repairs… :(
  • Talent trees have been changed and all points (in both specs, if you’re dual-specced) will be cleared
  • MP5 is gone
  • There are now three types of glyphs, instead of two
  • Spells and abilities scale with level; no more training ranks
  • Talent tree overhaul
  • Spells overhaul
  • Professions overhaul
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