Posted by: Sean | May 26, 2009

Addon RP Roadtest: WoW.com

There are a lot of different road-tests for addons out there. Most look at sensible things like performance, utility, and memory usage. Here at Blogatelle, we have a different perspective. A role-players perspective. We just want to know, how can we use it to improve our role-playing experience. We’re a little like a supermodel shopping for a phone – As long as it lets us communicate better and look hot as we do it, we don’t care about silly little features like cost per month. (We’re also awesome at similes.) Today? We’re looking at the brand new WoW.com addon.

So what is it?

The WoW.com addon is basically a social networking tool for World of Warcraft, and it’s the first one of its kind as far as I’m aware. What it will do is track various things that you do and then posts it up to a website like, oh, I don’t know, this one. Every time you level up, it will post that you did so to the web page. When you get an achievement, it will say so. If you like annoying your friends, you can make it mention every freaking zone that you enter.

You can also do a few other things, like use it to put up screen-shots automatically (to return to our supermodel analogy, it has a built-in camera) and make in-game blog posts.

What’s in it for us, role-play wise?

The big thing that we immediately saw at Blogatelle was, of course, the chance to use it for in-game blogging. The in-character journal is such a great idea for role-play that we can’t believe we haven’t covered it here at Blogatelle before: But it’s truly a great one. It’s a useful tool for getting more in touch with your character, deepening the characterisation a little and understanding what makes them tick. It can also be hella entertaining if you post it online. (If you have an online in-character journal, let us know, we’ll link it here.)

Automatic screen-shot uploading could also be really fantastic for RP events. It would let you play cameraman, snapping everything of interest and lobbing it all up in real time.

Finally, you could always just use it to advertise your RP event.

How does it perform?

Unfortunately, we’re not seeing the utility in its current form.

While it’s still a viable avenue for in-character journaling, doing this from in-game is not. The in-game editor is more akin to Twitter than WordPress, and while you could have some fun twittering your adventures away, it’s really just not the same. I had a go with Jol’rin, my troll priest, and as you can see it’s just not that deep. I’d need a lot more text to get into his headspace. You can blog from the page with more detail, and so what might be viable is a mixed proposition: Use WoW.com for in-character blogging, and the addon for some quick thoughts.

That said, this brings us to problem #2: It’s not in real time. It uses an executable file that you run after your play session, which then uploads everything. This is a real buzzkill, it would be a lot nicer if it could run in the background (that is, you run WoW.com’s addon first, then start up Warcraft, and it just puts up screenshots/blog posts in real time) and keep everything moving. It’s still useful, but for screenshots not much more useful than, say, Flickr. Or for ‘blogging, WordPress. It’s definitely not Twitter, despite the short post lengths.

In conclusion?

It’s not bad. Certainly it’s a surprising move for WoW Insider, but the lack of immediacy is a real killer. We’d like to see a bigger input window for the in-game blogging tool, and maybe bold/italics/underline options. We recognise you can’t put in everything; lua has its limits. But something that let us sit down and write out a full letter would be nice. The screenshot facility is actually pretty useful, we have to admit.

It would also be neat if we could more easily have a character focused web page. Give the web page some more customisability and flexibility – Let us make an URL which is just blog entries for one character, as an example.

Still, it’s a brave effort. We’ll give it a B overall, and a C for role-players.

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