Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Link! - Wowhead

World of Warcraft enthusiasts, I'd like to shift your attention to the right side of this blog, right below the Firefox logo. You notice what's different? No?

It's Wowhead, a World of Warcraft database that has, in my opinion, overtaken Thottbot in terms of information available, intelligent and useful commentary, and overall up-time and server performance. It has transformed from a mediocre beta to a powerful database giant in little over a month (no doubt due to the surge of players returning for The Burning Crusade).

Let me explain a bit about these databases, and why this is a monumental achievement, after the break.

In such massive worlds as MMORPGs, there are countless quests, areas, monsters, items, and professions. Of these thousands of things, you're only one person with so much time available to play the game. To not be perpetually stuck and frustrated, you'll need help finding objectives, whatever they may be.

You have a few options:

  1. Ask in General chat for help. This usually results in nothing, or sarcastic remarks... to use a WoW database.
  2. Ask within your Guild. This also usually results in silence, as nobody wants to have to research stuff you can do yourself.
  3. Buy a strategy guide. However, even this lacks in specific quest/item information, and is typically a waste of $20, especially when better information is available online for free.
  4. Use a WoW database. And make sure to pick a good one.
Being a Thottbot user for years, I was always skeptical of new databases that came along (or ones that have been there forever), such as Allakhazam, WoW Guru, Goblin Workshop, and the like. They all had information available, but not in a convenient format. Most of the time, they were no help at all. The method they get this data is by data mining files and player kill statistics (via a program a user can opt to download to collect data). This, as you can expect, is only useful in so many ways.

If you need to kill 20 monsters of type X, then this data mining is perfect. However, if you need to use an item on a hill near Telaar in Nagrand, there's no way the program can tell you where to go. This is where the database's community comes in, and offers hints and directions to complete the quest to fill in the website's data-collecting gaps. In short, with no community, a database is bunk.

Even more importantly, a database is useless if it's constantly down, disorganized, poorly laid-out, or bogged down with traffic. A poor user experience can turn the contributing community away to other databases, and all you're left with is a slow, empty database that doesn't help.

So, now that we know what has to go into a database, how does Wowhead surpass the rest? Simply put, it manages everything perfectly.
  • It has a very logical, well though-out layout.
  • The appearance is appealing to the eyes, and doesn't look like a boring website full of data (Web 2.0, so pretty!).
  • It has a great community (with a comment rating system) that self-manages itself to ensure each quest is accurately described.
  • The information contained is complete- there's no missing quests or items from what I can tell.
  • It's fast as an F1 formula car compared to most other databases, especially Thottbot.
All these elements make Wowhead lead the pack in WoW databases.

Give the search box to the right a shot. If you're playing, search for a quest you're lost on. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll be on your way to level 70 in no time.

Wowhead Search Applet:

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