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15 Minutes of Fame: Mr. Big


15 Minutes of Fame is's look at World of Warcraft players of all shapes and sizes -- from the renowned to the relatively anonymous, the remarkable to the player next door. Tip us off to players you'd like to hear more about.

This guy's is bigger. Really. In fact, this interview is expressly designed to provoke e-peen envy. Because really now, if I have to interview this chap while squinting at my (admittedly not-so-tiny widescreen) monitor (because it's still T minus 5 days to my optometrist visit, and respeccing my prescription is definitely in order) in the face of this visual largesse, then all of you people need to hunker down along with me. Misery loves company, and once you get a look at this WoW setup, we'll be able to finish this 15 Minutes of Fame in green-eyed envy together.

Because this is an impressive view of WoW. We're sure there are plenty of you out there nodding along right now, muttering, "Oh, that ain't nuthin', little lady – mine's easily as big as that one ..." Well, folks, I've got pictures of this one. And it's big, really big ... 133 inches worth of big, to be exact.

Gallery: Projection screen WoW | 14 Photos

Main character Mackendall (named after my two daughters, Mackenzie and Kendall, and why the toon is a female)
Guild Benevolent Thuggery
Server US Dragonblight-A
WoWstyle Casual raider, raiding 3-4 times a week in 10- and 25-man raids

15 Minutes of Fame: Ok, Mackendall, they say things are bigger in Texas ... So lay on the specs. What are we looking at here?

Mackendall: Thought you may get some enjoyment out of my new home setup. I recently switched from using my 24" HP LCD to playing WoW in my media room on a 135" screen with a Sanyo plv-z700 1080p HD projector.

Just how big is your screen?

116" wide by 65" tall = 133" diagonal. It's a Da-Lite 93329 Model C; cost about $400.

What's most noticeably different when playing on such a huge screen?

You are really "immersed" into the game in both a visual and audible way, especially when you add the high-quality, eight-speaker surround sound. Imagine having to watch the LOTR trilogy on your PC monitor with PC speakers or headphones. Now compare that to watching it at the movie theatre. Yes, it is that good!

When XT-002 Deconstructor starts having a tantrum, the whole room shakes, and when Onyxia flies over your head, you can almost feel the downdraft from her wings.

We're sold. Tell us more.

Ironically, the setup really helps my vision, as I do not sit 24" away from a monitor and strain my eyes (especially as one gets older and short distance visions requires glasses). Because the screen is 14 to 15 feet away, I am sure my vision will be better off in the long run.

Has the screen size or level of detail changed any of your actual character control or gameplay mechanics?

Although technically I am now playing at a lower screen resolution (1920x1080, compared to my 24" LCD, which was 1920x1200), you can "see" so much more and react quicker to situations. I can also control my character better because of the naturally relaxed seating position. I rarely have the keyboard on my lap and only use it to chat when not in Vent. Normally, I have my arms on each armrest and simply move my wrists and fingers on either the mouse or n52te gamepad so it allows for better control and quicker reaction time. Healing on my shaman was improved dramatically when combining the n52te with my new setup.

With the surround sound system, it allows me to have a separate Plantronics headset for Vent, where I can control the Vent volume yet still here the game very clearly.

Tell us about your sound setup.
  • Speakers All Klipsch reference speakers in a 7.1 surround setup
  • Center RC-52
  • Front left and right 2 x RB-51
  • Side Surround 2 x RS-10
  • Rear Surround 2 x RB-10
  • Subwoofer RW-10d
  • Yamaha RX-V1400 7-channel 770 watt amplifier
Do you work in hardware professionally?

The setup is just an ongoing hobby, as I do IT help desk support for a living, so I know PCs inside out and usually build a new one every 18 months or so, funds permitting.

So how did you get into all this?

I grew up with father whose business was pinball machines, arcade video games (when they came out) and jukeboxes and who loved his home hi-fi (he had quadrophonic sound in the late '70s!). I learned a lot from him about how electrical stuff worked. I was also the first kid in Australia to play Space Invaders, as my dada got the first shipment from Japan and I had to sit at his small workshop waiting for the truck to arrive one boring Saturday. Because of this, I liked helping him build and fix stuff so learned a lot, and I am practical enough to figure out and research most PC and audio stuff without spending insane amounts of money.

Can you give us a rundown on the evolution of your system?

The big screen setup originated back in 2000, when I brought home a spare 800x600 projector from work and hooked up my PS2 and projected the image on the wall. I believe I was playing Gran Turismo at the time.

I then bought an 84" drop-down screen for $100 and hid it behind the front room curtain valance (so my wife didn't complain), and we started watching DVDs. A $100 Sony amp and $100 worth of Koss speakers was all I had, but Gladiator was awesome!

I then moved the setup to a spare room and would play various PS2 games and subscribed to Netflix, and the movie watching began.

We then moved to a new house which had a loft, which we enclosed and made into a playroom for the kids and a movie room. The wife was doing well at her job, so I got the ok to buy some new equipment. I got all new Klipsch speakers for about $2,000 and a new Sony 720p VPL-HS20 HD projector. Cox also introduced HD at about that time, so TV was incredible. I also played a lot of Gran Turismo 4, which was amazing on the big screen and made two-player a seriously fun experience.

A short time later, my wife got tired of the shelves I had the projector on, so I worked with a cabinet maker and we designed a unit that I could both play PC on, hold files and house all the media stuff in without it looking ugly. I did try hooking up my PC, but the Sony was a real pain and 1280x720 turned out to be blurry when playing WoW, so I gave up.

In 2008, we moved to Texas and a new home that had a dedicated media room that was pre-wired, so it was easy for me to set up my gear in. It even had room for the media unit, so we saved money on not having to redo the room. We did have it painted "dark cocoa" and I had to leave the screen behind in the old house, so we bought a new Dalite 135" screen which stays down permanently.

A few months ago, I managed to persuade the wife into upgrading to a new 1080p projector, as they were on sale at Costco. She took the opportunity to replace the media chairs, as the kids had worn them out over four or five years of abuse, so now we had some nice leather ones. I also picked up a new Blu-Ray player for only $200 from Costco, and movies were once again transformed up to another level of sound and vision.

And then you hooked up WoW.

Finally, the wife and kids went back to California to visit family this summer and left me alone for a month. Suddenly I had all this spare time when I got home, so I reran all my PC wires and hooked them up to the projector and reconfigured my UI in WoW to play at 1920x1080 ... OMG! It was amazing.

What about that glowing PC we see in the background?

PC specs are:
  • Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz - OC'd to 3.6Ghz
  • EVGA 750i FTW
  • SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
  • Dual nVidia Geforce 9800GTX in SLI
  • 4 x OCZ Reaper HPC 2GB 1066 (PC2 8500)
  • 2 x WD Raptor 74GB 10k RPM 16MB HDD
  • 2 x 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB HDD
  • 4 x ZALMAN ZM-2HC2 NPHeatpipe HDD Coolers
  • ZALMANs ZM850-HP 850W Heatpipe-Cooled SLI Power Supply
More info on the pc build at Danger Den.

Let's back up for just a moment. How did you get your start in WoW?

My younger brother introduced me to WoW by giving me his 10-day trial account. He already had a level 60 at the time and was playing almost every day, so he created a mage and we levelled our toons together.

I had been gaming for many years (I'm 40+) but had never played an MMO. The closest I had come was from playing Counter-Strike online, and I really enjoyed playing with others rather than on my own. WoW was a big step up in that social aspect, as now there were a lot more people around you and you could actually talk to them (using either Teamspeak or Skype) so you felt more connected/immersed. Azeroth was a complete departure from my normal gaming environment (Half Life, Medal of Honor, Far Cry, etc.), and I was a big fan of "eye candy," so I was totally blown away by the detail and creativity that went into WoW -- especially as I was able to experience every detail of Azeroth on a high-end system at 1920x1200 on max settings.

Thanks for sharing a look at your system with us, Mackendall. We're sure there'll be quite a few new media equipment plans hatched across this week.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" - neither did we, until we talked with these players. Are you a filker? Is your guildmate the proverbial Nicest Guy in WoW (and can you list 5 exceptional reasons why)? Do you know a player over age 60 who's here strictly for the gaming (and not because younger family members play)? We're looking for you! Contact lisa (at) wow (dot) com.

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