Machinima Rising

The following editorial contains views that are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views of

Machinima, considered a hobby by some and a profession by others, is an art form that combines two of my favorite pastimes, movies and video games. MMORPGs in particular have been given a chance to shine in this medium as producers utilize the settings of these virtual worlds to tell their own tales. Machinima is certainly not a new endeavor; gamers have been creating story-driven videos since the days of “Quake” in 1996. But I feel the best is yet to come for the genre as creative minds keep pushing the envelope to make these films rival, and often surpass, Hollywood blockbusters. If you haven't gotten into this hobby yet, hopefully this article acts as a primer to get you in the machinima mood, especially for ones that are filmed in World of Warcraft.

Of course, not all machinima focuses on MMOs. All you have to do is visit to browse fan-created videos of numerous games, including The Sims, Halo, Half-Life and Grand Theft Auto. And you’ve all seen the famous “Red vs. Blue ” Halo series, right? While all games can offer great material for a movie, depending on the creativity of the producer, there’s something about MMO machinima that just stands out to me.

The Casual MMO

The following editorial contains views that are the opinion of the author and not necessarily the views of

Playing an MMORPG is a lot like living in Canada or the USA. While you may vote, the fact remains that your government has probably done a lot of things that you’re not particularly fond of (I’m looking at you, University tuition). There also remains the fact that there is very little you can do, aside from joining those hilariously drunk student gatherings where everyone rents a bus and goes ‘somewhere’ in order to demonstrate that they have no money to pay for school. In reality, this is about the same when it comes to our own MMORPGs. While it is true that there are very hard working developers who are constantly trawling the communities for ideas to bring back to their caves, chances are, the most significant changes that are added into an MMO are implemented according to the will of the parent company. I really can’t recall a time when I was asked “Would you like us to raise the level cap to 80?” in World of Warcraft. On the other hand, while I would be fairly flattered if I was asked this question, basing key development ideas off of my coin-toss decision making abilities is a great way to anger your fan base.

CES 2009: Exclusive Interview with John Smedley

Some of you may remember a recent editorial that was published here at Allakhazam about my concerns with Station Cash. Obviously, there were people at Sony Online Entertainment who disagreed with me. During my time at CES last week I had the opportunity to sit down with John Smedley to let him know why I decided to write the piece and our conversation quickly turned into an interview opportunity. Mr. Smedley was both rational and receptive during our off the record talks and clearly understood my opinions, regardless of his own. He even went out on a limb to let me know that he'd like to take some of the concerns that I had back to the EverQuest II development team. You don't have to have a very big imagination to know that those remarks put a smile on my face.

During the interview, which is nearly ten minutes in length, we talked about Station Cash, Free Realms, EverQuest's ten year anniversary, and the EverQuest movie which has been rumored for years.  I have to admit, some of the Station Cash products that Sony Online Entertainment is going to be rolling out are exciting. I even found myself saying 'I'd buy that' during the interview. As far as my opinions of Station Cash are concerned, as long as the experience potions available for purchase are where they draw the line, I'm willing to co-exist.

'Imagine being able to open up a book with every member of your guild, and have that physically mailed to you as a part of station cash. Our goal is to be able to buy both in game items, and those kinds of items, but be able to do that among all of our games in the future.'

Please check out our interview with John Smedley which we've transcribed for those of you who don't want to see John Smedley and me stare into each other's eyes for ten minutes. Also, please tell us what you think about the interview, Station Cash, the EverQuest movie and anything else that comes to mind, in the comment box below.

Machinima: An Interview with Clint Hackleman

I recently got the chance to talk to Myndflame's Clint Hackleman about machinima, composing music and switching between a Druid, Priest and Death Knight in World of Warcraft. While Clint kept quiet on Myndflame's future projects, he was very open with his thoughts on the machinima genre and even supplied some advice for aspiring artists. To get in the mood, I suggest you go watch "Defias Mightiest," a Myndflame production featuring Clint's original song from VanCleef's perspective in World of Warcraft. Then you can read on to find out what truly makes Clint's creativity tick (hint: it involves alpha gorillas and feces).

Togikagi: Before we get into the questions, could you supply our readers with your background in Machinima and a list of the movies you've worked on? Also, could you give us some background on the Myndflame team?

Clint: There are two of us that work on productions at Myndflame ; myself (Clint Hackleman), and my brother D.W. Hackleman. Using the power of our jewel shards, we've created many Machinima videos, but we're most well known for "Illegal Danish: Super Snacks " and our short videos like "Epic Flight Form " and "Learn 2 Play ". Some of our more recent work includes "A Hallow's End Special ", "Fruit of Elune – Underpants for Night Elves ", and the "Slim Jim WoW Machinima ". D.W. leads the visuals (video director, editing, special effects), and I do sound and music as well as many of the voice acting roles. Prominent local voice actors are Kris Haughey, Kevin Haughey, and Amanda Baker.

Interview with ArenaNet's Daniel Dociu

Like most of you, we've been waiting patiently for information about ArenaNet's (mostly) announced Guild Wars 2 project. Unfortunately, despite all of our efforts, we've still been unable to get anything definitive. Having said that, Guild Wars has an amazingly unique art style that made the opportunity to sit down with Daniel Dociu, Creative Director at ArenaNet, so appealing to us. During the interview we talked about the work he did on Guild Wars, the future look of MMOs, his role in Valve's Half-Life 2 and of course, my failed attempt to get information about Guild Wars 2.

Tamat : Hey Daniel, thank you so much for sitting down with me today to talk about Guild Wars.

Daniel : Hello! My pleasure.

Tamat : First of all, can you just talk a little bit about your history in the industry?

Daniel : Well I got into games around 1993 if I recall correctly. My first job was with Squaresoft as an art director, back in the days when they had a studio in the Seattle area. Then I moved on to EA for a couple of years. The next one was Zipper Interactive which is currently owned by Sony. I was there for about four years. I then went back to EA for a couple of years and then I did freelancing for a few months in-between EA and ArenaNet. I've been here at ArenaNet for a little over five years now.

Achieving Greater Goals, Vertically & Horizontally

You killed your raid content mobs, you topped out your player versus player (PvP) rewards, you leveled to the cap only a month after the last expansion and, in only a few weeks (or days), the newest content addition to the game is coming out; the dreaded expansion.

Most MMOs that offer expansions which increase the level cap cause depreciation of old content. Let me explain. While features or content are not removed, and backwards compatibility is maintained, the content previous to the expansion often becomes obsolete or out of date. There is little reason for players to go through old content when there's obviously a new and better way of doing things.

Blizzard has prepared for Wrath of the Lich King (WotLK) by making previously challenging raid encounters significantly easier, forcing some folks to cry foul as their hard work becomes "cheapened". The drops now pull from the same loot tables as they did before the change, but with significantly less risk and challenge.

So my question to you is, do you care?

Some of the folks on our World of Warcraft board discussed this very thing last week, and the replies, barbed though they were, elicited strong responses on either side.

Wrath of the Lich King Launch Event

Wrath of the Lich King is live and I'm sitting in a Denny’s uploading screenshots from one of the funniest launch events that I've had the opportunity to attend. After fifteen hours of ‘CE Camping’ in a Fry's parking lot in Anaheim, I've returned with 'phat lewts', new friends and a few great stories. Please bear with me as I attempt to share with you my day at the official WotLK launch event. I'm rather tired.

To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect Wednesday morning when I started my, now epic, journey to Fry's. I knew there would be players already in line but there is no way I could have prepared myself for what John Fitch, who was at the front of the line told me. "Yeah I've been here since 9am PST on Tuesday. By the time I get into the store I will have been here around 39 hours ." said the Hello Kitty enthusiast that you'll hear all about as soon as I transcribe our full conversation. To make his wait a tad more bearable, anyone who asked about what he was doing was informed that he was waiting in line for the new Hello Kitty game. As you can imagine, John had his fair share of weird looks. At one point in the evening he gathered a mob of people to circle the building shouting "Hello Kitty! Hello Kitty!" Some of the things we gamers do to entertain ourselves…

Now camping out over night in a lawn chair is hardcore, but I'm not sure if it tops Eugene Gray who checked out of a hospital earlier in the day to come down and wait in line against doctors orders. Hardcore? Most certainly! That wasn't enough so he brought out his Frostmourne replica. More to come about this badass later as I also sat down with him to get the whole story.

Why Do You Play MMORPGs?

Since it's my post, I'll tell you why I play, and then you can join in after!

I started out in Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs), back when AOL was the only internet I knew.  Don't snicker!  Internet connection costs of $484 a month were enough to make my parents ground me for weeks.  But then came Ultima Online (UO).

I once played on the Sonoma server of UO, back when it first launched. For a while I played Tovin, an anti-pk. Then Tovin became a role playing tailor. She mostly stayed in town and, one day, was scammed. I was outraged and reported the scam via in game reporting and a Counselor appeared. Dressed in a pretty blue robe he explained to me that though I had technically gotten the short end of the stick, the guy had used no real bug or exploit, but had just been smarter than I had been. I decided then and there that I loved that blue robe. So I went out to find counselors.

Five Year Veteran Rewards Announced


The five year Veteran Rewards, which were delayed until the launch of The Shadow Odyssey, have been announced!  Besides the expected experience postions and some lovely fluff, this year includes an Adventure Vitality orb!

Make Sure You Vote Today

Today is election day in the United States.  If you are a U.S. Citizen of voting age, no matter who you are for I urge you to get to your polling place and vote for him.  It doesn't matter if your candidate is picked to win or lose your state by the polls.  The polls can be wrong.  Your vote still counts.  Make sure you cast it.  Imagine how sick you would feel if your guy lost by just a few votes and you didn't bother to take the time to vote for him.  Then when you have voted ask your friends and guild mates if they have voted yet and if they haven't, remind them how important it is that they do so.  This is a crucial election and everyone needs to participate.  Don't drop the ball.  If you haven't done so already, get up right now and head out and cast your vote.