Don't know what the Piggies are? Go read this. Only a few more days left to get nominations in too, so if you were planning to add yours and haven't done so yet, it's time to get cracking! In fact, I haven't seen any other nominations posts yet this year, but maybe people are just sending them in by e-mail (I hope).
The Melting Pot is trying to spice things up a bit this year by accepting nominations for all MMOs, not just WoW, which sounds like a sweet idea in theory, but I'm a bit concerned how well it will work out in practice - after all WoW is still by far the biggest game out there, so it's likely to have an edge simply due to the amount of players that are familiar with it. I'm not sure how much enthusiasm there will be for including other MMOs in nominations. Not to mention that I'm not sure all MMOs are equally comparable... but we'll see how it works out. Myself, I'll mostly stick to WoW since that's what I know, and maybe make the odd point about SWTOR here or there where it strikes me as relevant.
Best raid instance
This one is easy for me and my vote goes hands down to Blackwing Descent. It didn't really have anything to truly amaze like other great raid instances of the past, but it was definitely my favourite of Cataclysm's offerings. It recreated some of that old school Blackrock atmosphere, the difficulty was nicely tuned in my opinion and all the bosses were interesting in their own way.
Least successful raid instance
My first instinct is to say Firelands, simply because that seemed to be the raid where most people had something to complain about this year, whether it was the bosses being too dance-y, too hard, or too easy after the big nerf.
However, I've said in the past that the truly unsuccessful raids, in my opinion anyway, are not necessarily the ones that people complain about, but those that they don't even bother with. In that category I think the winner should be Throne of the Four Winds. It being an instance with only two bosses that felt kind of out of the way of everywhere, even with portals to Uldum available in the cities, and crappy loot with random stats, I got the impression that few people ever went there once they had killed Al'akir... or even if they never killed him, they simply might've forgotten about it completely. (I know our raid group always scheduled raids for either Blackwing Descent or Bastion of Twilight in tier eleven, Throne was a complete afterthought that only came up whenever someone whined about wanting to go because they had never even seen a Conclave kill.)
Best small-group instance
I think Cataclysm has had some pretty nice five-mans in general, but this is where I'd like to give a vote to SWTOR's The Esseles, which I've seen people compare to the original Deadmines elsewhere - and it certainly gave me that same epic feeling that I got from the old Defias hideout back in the day.
Least successful small-group instance
Like with the least successful raid, this kind of depends on your definition of success. The Zuls got everyone riled up with their repetitive valor grind, but Halls of Origination sticks in my mind as "that instance where most people don't even want to bother killing half the bosses". A shame too.
Most longed for instance
I think the Dragon Soul five-mans were the most longed-for, simply because people wanted to have an excuse to get out of the Zulroics.
Silliest gold sink
Larísa gave this award to the Sparkle Pony last year, and in line with that I would give it to the Winged Guardian this year. The whole craze about store pets and mounts reminds me a lot of fashion trends in real life, which are something that I don't care for either.
Biggest game addition / improvement
I think the single biggest addition to WoW this year has without a doubt been the raid finder. However, since I'm still not convinced that this will actually be an improvement to the game in the long run, I'd nominate transmogrification instead - something nice that finally allows people to give their characters some individuality again, and there really is no downside.
In a more general sense, I think that SWTOR's more interactive quests and group dialogues have really made a difference to how people will perceive questing in the future.
I can't think of a single quest that stood out above all others, but Silverpine Forest as a whole has been rewritten in a very compelling and interesting way.
Ugliest new piece of outfit
Probably hunter tier 11. There is trying to be creative and then there's trying to pass off a murloc suit as epic armour. Priest tier 11 with its shoulder bird baths was pretty awful as well though, especially since up until then priest sets had never been truly ugly.
Favourite non combat pet
I loved Mr. Grubbs and his silly bouncing when I picked him up in the Plaguelands while levelling new alts! Though an honourable mention has to go to the Lil' XT that was gifted to me by a guildie and that finally provided me with an easy way of getting rid of annoying train sets.
Most charming games company employee
I listened to a long interview with one of the people behind SWTOR the other day, but unfortunately I lost the link to it so I'm not even entirely sure what the guy's name was. I do think it was Daniel Erickson, the lead writer, and he sounded like an utterly charming fellow.
The Instance continues to amuse and entertain me at a level that is unparalleled by any other podcasts I've tried. I don't always agree with everything they are saying, but it's refreshing how the hosts always remain both positive and professional.
Most memorable blog post
Are 400 Pull Kills Good Design? Are They Fun? by Beru.
Most noticed blogger breakthrough
Stubborn from Sheep the Diamond. He made his entrance sneakily by leaving thoughtful comments all over the place at first, and if you then clicked on his name you'd find an even more thoughtful blog, written in an interesting and unique style.
Most solid content provider
Nils from Nils' Blog. He just can't stop talking, but I'm very grateful for that because it gives me new things to read all the time!
Most hugged blogger
Probably the Gold Queen after that horrible ordeal she went through one and a half months ago.
I would give this one to Stubborn as well, because he really has a way with prose. I don't think I've read a single post of his that didn't make me crack a smile at a pun or unusual turn of phrase. We need more teachers in the blogosphere...
I always suck at remembering these for some reason, though I always follow them with interest while they are current. Probably the Mists of Pandaria announcement.
Most appreciated announcement
That SWTOR wouldn't launch with a dungeon finder... *cough*
MMORPG Company of the Year
I want to say Bioware, because regardless of how SWTOR turns out in the long term, they've delivered a very smooth launch for a highly anticipated and so far very fun game.
Most “Er… what?” moment in MMOs this year
The announcement of Mists of Pandaria.
People’s Choice: Blog Post
Same as above.
People’s Choice: Games Company
Same as above.
At Loose Ends on the Fantasy Front
10 hours ago