Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things They Should Do to Fix Archaeology

Even if you look through the scope,
you won't find any fun.
Ah, Archaeology, one of the least satisfying things to do in WoW. Patch 4.3 came recently and brought with it a change in the number of pieces one may unearth at any particular digsite from 3-6 to 5-12 and ... that's not much of a change at all.

Archaeology had a lot of potential. Potential that got buried in the sand, thanks to the tediousness of the operations of doing this profession, which was basically a non-starter.  The patch fix earlier this month was a quick simple adjustment that the developers could tweak with about 14 seconds of effort. Changing one variable makes a significant difference in how long we go digging, and yet, it doesn't make archaeology really any more fun.

There needs to be a overhaul that includes the following:

A Smaller Junk:Treasure ratio
Apart from new mounts and pets, I have yet to find anything with archaeology that is really worth keeping.  I have found a number of low-level epic weapons and pieces of gear that I would use if I had an alt in the right range with the right class and specc. But I don't. I can't give them to anyone who does either. I may as well stick these items back in the ground.

Even the blue toys I found... I was looking at those this week trying to decide if I should put them in void storage or just throw them away.  Most of them were amusing for a few seconds but none of them were anything so incredible that I was going to haul them around. Although these items are "rare" their resale value is non-existent as well.

Blizzard is continually saying how they don't want professions to have any profound effect on endgame performance, but they seem to be flying through interesting toy concepts too quickly. More mounts? I coulda sworn I read Ghostcrawler say that they were running out of ideas for new mounts. What else is left?

So, with so little really worth holding onto in the entire archaeological oeuvre, shouldn't that be changed?

Monday, November 21, 2011

WoW Has Spoiled Me for Skyrim

It looks peaceful enough, but a dragon is about to drop out of the sky, and your
housecarl will run right in your way when you try to attack it. No orcs will be
harmed during the duration of the event.

I, like much of the rest of fantasy nerd-dom, recently shelled out the cash to play Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim on my X-Box this past weekend.

Most of what they say about the game is true: that it is a wide open beautiful expanse of game full of nooks and crannies for exploring, interesting stories to learn and ridiculous amounts of game to play.  Really, it's pretty neat.

But, there are aspects of the game I find frustrating and I realize, in part that this is largely because I have become so accustomed to gameplay in Azeroth.  There are things, in Skyrim, that can be kind of frustrating at times. Things like...

Not knowing if I can kill a mob or not.
I am so used to being able to get a measure of myself against the Mobs in WoW that I desperately miss it in Skyrim. For example, creeping over the plains near Whiterun and seeing what looks like an ogre or a giant or something-- a tall lanky dude dressed in a loincloth and with a club over his shoulder.  "He can't see me," I think. "So I'll go backstab his butt!"   Only I do that, and it barely scratches his health bar, and he turns around and knocks me with his club so hard that the display times out long before my corpse has completed sailing through the air.

Similarly, climbing a mountain towards a temple and this white yeti-looking troll thing rushes out to get me. "There's only one of them," I think, so I get off my horse and the thing tears me to shreds in two blows before I have managed to even unsheath my weapons. I try sneaking up on him and it doesn't work. I try perching on a rock directly over his head where he ought not be able to hit me and he tears me several new orifices. Finally, I make a long circle around that spot on the map and keep going.

It's nice to see WoW's Elite and Skull markers so that you know what NOT to pick a fight with. I wonder if Skyrim might patch this feature in?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Why PokeWoW Makes Me Feel Old

I'm having a hard time deciding if this is more disturbing than Kung Fu Panda or the other way around.
It's been a few weeks now but I have been thoroughly unable to dredge up any enthusiasm for the "Pet Battle System" announced for Mists of Pandaria. It seems very closely based on the gaming principles of Pokemon, I somehow picture a Blizzard developers' meeting where somebody stood up and shouted, "Now we have something for those free-loading companion pets to do!"

But Pokemon is a toy franchise guaranteed to bring a sneer of disgust to about 50% of the people I know, comeplete disinterest from another 49% and wriggles of excitement from the 1% like my nephew who is nine. Granted, the whole Poke-franchise has been around for probably close to 15 years now, so there are probably college graduates who grew up with these things now, but these things are not still so popular, are they?

Pokemon is a wildly sucessful franchise for a lot of reasons but I think part of its success is that it works very well for the market it is aimed at: young children. The characters stepped into by players do not technically fight. They just train little pugilists for a good clean fight in the ring. As a parent, I might not like having my young children play a game in which their self-identified characters "fight."  But, having them play a character in which they have little surrogate fighters that they "train" would give a modicum of distance from that violence that might be healthier for those little tykes. Might. I'm pretty sure the research is still out on that question.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

More on Blizzcon

Sorry, I just can't come up with anything clever to say about this,
but this is why I'm not crazy about the Pandaren race. 
About the time I published Blizzcon notes the other day, I immediately started thinking about other points that I didn't get to.  So, there are things to continue from the last blog post here.

I've also had some time to reflect on notes coming in from the blogosphere about the shape of the content to come.  It seems to me that the reactions are unduly extreme: either unnecessarily positive or unduly negative. A few things about the greater world order perhaps should be observed:

The important thing I see right now is that for the first time in many years, we are seeing just the hint of the beginning of the story of this expansion, while we have gotten used to viewing the end of these things.

When Wrath of the Lich King was announced, just about every player could clearly picture nudging Arthas' corpse with their foot at the top of Icecrown Citadel.  Cataclysm was announced, and everybody I know spoke of "When we kill Deathwing,"  not "If we kill Deathwing." But that was the nature of the story arc in those cases.

But, for Pandaland, we just don't know what the denouement is going to be. We have some hazy pictures of some evil beings lurking in the underbelly of the new continent, but we can't begin to imagine the motivations and true nature of these things.  I frankly find the open-ended nature of this to be a good thing. But that's why I find a lot of the overly-positive / overly-negative immediate response to be a bit perplexing: it's way to early to make any real evaluation of what is coming up. We know less about it than we did for the past two expansions.

The other thing that seems pretty clear from the blogosphere is that there's a lot of people who really dig anthropomorphic panda bears and a surprising number of them are not 5-year-old girls. Basically, the whole thing is too cutesy for me in, but I have had to reflect and try to understand why I have been vaguely uneasy about Pandarens since first hearing "Mists of Pandaria" a few months ago. An unexamined belief is not a belief holding onto, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

WoW at Blizzcon: $#%ing Pandas

I'll say it again: $#%ing Pandas
Most everything I have about the first day of Blizzcon is positive, but I need to get that headline off my chest and out of the way up front.  It seems to me we should be able to do better than with cutesy-wootsy, widdle panda bear characters. I mean, Samwise Didier invented this race in a throwaway sketch to please his infant daughter. COME ON!

Moving on.

Darn, Pandaria looks good!  I watched part of the art panel this weekend and was pretty impressed with the tools they have and they way they use them.  For my money, Wrath of the Lich King was the finest scenery they have yet made for this game, and Pandaria seems like it is made from the same cloth.  I can hardly wait to get to go exploring there.

And, as for the unifying element of this expansion, I'm feeling happy that there is no new Big Bad this time around. I have little doubt that some rotten new NPCs will step forward to have our might focussed against them, but it's nice to not have the world's safety hanging by a string.  No one should be expected to have to save the world EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Not even our characters. If the Alliance and Horde factions go to all-out war, that's a good thing too.

Thinking of war between the Alliance and Horde, during the Lore Panel, an Alliance player stepped forward, braved the boos of the crowd and asked Chris Metzen point blank when he was going to let the Alliance back into the fight. And Metzen just doesn't get it. He described a quest series they are trying to write in which Varian Wrynn takes our characters as valets of sorts in a round-the-world tour to shore up Alliance support. But that's not what I want to see. What I want is to see the Horde gains to Alliance territory retaken and the cursed wretches given a drubbing. I want the political map of the world redrawn.  Cheerleading for the king is a poor, poor substitute.

I think somebody boxed Metzen and a few others about the ears before letting them out on stage this time. The roars for the Horde were a bit more balanced, but I mean... really, Metzen: appreciate he's a writer and he likes his characters, but the Alliance needs action now, not more soul-searching from the king, dammit.

There are so many other things they touched on this weekend, I'll surely come back to revisit some of these in future blogs, but just quick notes after the jump for now.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Things to Work on for the Next Release

Here's a list of some features that could use some work before they release the next patch. Please, readers, add more in your comments!


1) Fix the Flight Paths
How many times have you gotten on a griffon to fly from the Twilight Highlands to the Eastern Plaguelands and the route takes you by way of ... Ironforge.  Those FPs over Khaz Modan in particular are all sorts of messed up. Seriously, Blizzard, there is no way that flying half a continent in the wrong direction could be the "best" way to integrate the old flight paths with the countless new ones introduced after the Cataclysm.  I'm sure there are technical reason that you had to go to release before, but I hope you have fixed them by now.

2) Archaeology Specialization
At some level of archaeology, they needed to provide a means of specialization. Just ask anybody trying to accumulate Tolvir artifacts and keeps getting fields in Winterspring they have to go chase down instead.  I think archaeology was probably released this way so that no one could monopolize, or rush after certain rare artifacts, and I generally appreciate that too. But like, in the next expansion, there's bound to be a new racial group's artifacts unveiled and if I'm still forced to go pick up Troll artifacts instead, Imma gonna spew.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Blizzcon Predictor


Just a few days til Blizzcon!  I just went to look up all I wrote about last year's Blizzcon and as I suspected, I never really said that much. I think I generally tried to stay positive and while there have been a few times this year that I have toyed with addressing last year's Blizzcon again, I'm pleased to see that I have refrained from doing so. Just a model of self-restraint I am.

So, I'm going to stay positive now. Watch this!

Here's what I think we can expect from Blizzcon this year:

The Foo Fighters are Going to Rock
I just had to get that one out of the way first. Because it's just absolutely true.

This Blizzcon should be a Hella Lot Better Than Last Year's Blizzcon
Basically, there was no news at last year's Blizzcon and there has got to be some news this year, so it's going to be better just by default in that respect. Almost every panel had panelists who looked strung out and nobody had done anything to prepare besides bring a chair so they could listen to an endless stream of lousy Q&A. It was right on the eve of the release of Cataclysm, so I can't entirely blame them or anything, but it still made for crappy panels.

Pandas?
To recap the whole "Mists of Panderia" expectations that bubbled up this summer and then went oddly quiet.  Back in June (I think), Blizzard filed trademark papers on the name "Mists of Panderia" in the same manner that they filed papers on "Cataclysm" two years earlier. Back in the day, that was the earliest widely-known hint as to what was coming in this latest expansion, so the fans pounced on "Mists of Panderia" name with relative certainty.

Since that time, various blue-post and media comments from Blizzard people have both suggested confirmation and suggested denial of the validity of the Panderia predictions, which, I'm sure, is exactly how Blizzard would like it.  They have kept their secret about the next expansion pretty well this time out. But you can expect them to show us their cards at Blizzcon in five days time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Long Pause

Rest time. 
Greetings, fellow WoW geeks. I still don't entirely like getting all meta and writing about real-life in my WoW blog, but by now I think the serious break in my writing habits is showing. I can't remember the last time I tried to explain myself but around the first of September, I started a new job, teaching 2nd Grade in my city's public school system. And boy, is that hard work.

Let nobody try and convince you otherwise: being a first-year teacher in elementary school is a monster of a job requiring more hours than could be reasonably put into it, and even when you bust your gut to try to get it all done, you don't.

It's maddening. You don't sleep well. Your weekends are consumed with trying, and ultimately failing, to catch up on everything you have to do. You try and maintain a social life, or at least a fain semblance of one, but when you go out with your friends, all you think about in the back of your head is what you have to do for school, or how you're going to address the problem with somebody stealing crayon boxes in your classroom, or why did a fourth of the class all forget to put equal signs on their math work.

So, long story short: my WoW playtime has suffered tremendously. I mean, it's really ugly. Merinna goes online almost every day to beat up Anzu and make him give me that Raven Lord Mount. (61 runs and no mount. Bleah), but that is just about all of my play time right there. It takes six minutes to skip most of the trash in Setthek Halls, Kill Anzu, curse him for not making the drop, and then log out again. You'd think that I'd just put my WoW account on hiatus.

But truth is, I don't think I could stand not playing in Azeroth. I'm sure there are some people crowing, "Addiction!" and trying to feel all morally superior about it for whatever reason, but the truth is that I just like my character too much. Merinna has been with me for years now. She's my alter-ego! And I just don't want to not get to visit for those six minutes each day.

So, there's that.

Anyway. I'm hoping I can get a bit more free time in coming months. And it is the week before Blizzcon, so that cannot pass, unremarked upon.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The History of the World, Part 2

"Hey, skull. How's it going?" "I'm good, Illidan. How 'bout you?" "I dunno. I'm bored." "Feel like messing with the naaru, maybe?" "Are you sure that's a good  idea?" "Sure. What could go wrong?" "OK, skull. Let's do that." "Alright, let's do a warm-up by corrupting some more orcs first."

For Part 1 of this series, originally written about a year ago, click here.


"The Problems with Elves"

The Burning Crusade felt like a big bait and switch story. What was our primary objective in Outland? Doom Lord Kazzek reopened the Dark Portal so we go running through to deal with the demons...

... Only to find that the most significant power threat in Outland is really Illidan Stormrage. So we refocus and spend A LOT of time taking apart his forces...

...Only to find that somebody had a secret agenda and ZOMG!! Kil'jaden is about to stroll through the front door, back in Azeroth!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Shaman Class Feedback

Merinna visiting the Maelstrom back in beta- still blissfully
unaware of how developers  were going to screw up her class.
Recently, developers posted requests for specific feedback about how the classes are working that included a specific list of questions for each class. I rather wish that somebody would publish a sort of digest for these things. I think it would be very interesting to see what a bulk of thoughtful people had to say about these sorts of things. Though, I can't bring myself to slog through the pages and pages of "MAGES NEED MOAR DPS!" kinds of comments to find them.

Taking a look at some of the guide questions got me to thinking Shaman thoughts though:

What are your biggest quality-of-life issues? For instance, no longer requiring ammo could be considered a quality-of-life improvement for hunters.


We have three spells requiring reagents (Water Walk, Water Breathing and Reincarnation) and realistically, I can't use up all three of my minor glyph slots to opt out of carrying those reagents. Most other classes have been losing more and more of their reagents. I would be happy to lose the need to farm naga for "shiny fish scales" and/or "fish oil" at the earliest opportunity. I still kinda like carrying ankhs though, though it would be nice if I could make more than a stack of 10.

Wolfheart

Whachoo lookin' at?
Richard Knaaaaaaaaaaaaak's latest Warcraft Novel came out a bit more than a week ago to the adulation of WoW lore nerds everywhere.

As is becoming my habit: I'll make some appraisal of the book itself in the first part of this post, saving SPOILERS!!! (Oh no! Not Spoilers!) for after the jump.

When I remarked on the previous Warcraft novel about Thrall I noted that I would have been more interested in a book about the building of relationships-- and not the goopy one Thrall builds with Aggra(vation), but the ones with draenei and dwarves as a part of the Earthen Ring.

Be careful what you ask for, because the heavy bulk of Wolfheart is precisely that-- although the relationship being forged is between Varian Wrynn of Stormwind and Genn Graymane of Gilneas.

Most players booted up WoW right after the Cataclysm to find Gilneas firmly in the ranks of the Alliance, and many would not have stopped to consider that Greymane left the earlier Alliance of Lordaeron, turning his back on Stormwind during its ongoing fights after the end of the Second War. Varian Wrynn, of course, has never forgotten this fact, and, at the beginning of this novel, is not really excited to welcome the Gilneans back into the fold.

Somewhat oddly though: this is a Knaaaaaaaak Warcraft Novel, and though the story really is all about the Humans and Worgen of the Eastern Kingdoms learning to play nice, the primary protagonists are all Night Elves. I think Knaak may be contractually obligated to only write about Night Elves sometimes.

The framework of the story involves Tyrande Whisperwind and Malfurion Stormrage hosting an Alliance summit in Darnassus. At the same time, they are squeezing shoe-horning Highbornes back into society, coping with a murder mystery, and having to deal with a second Hellscream making trouble in Ashenvale.

As with most Warcraft novels, this is a lot of plot. But it all feels like it has no consequence. The specific timing of the action of this novel is a little difficult to pin down, but I would peg it happening sometime during that 14-hour maintenance Blizzard used to upgrade the servers to WoW: Cataclysm before any story points progress from the expansion. What's more: the appearance, demeanor and placement of certain characters contradicts what we find in world now.  It's like this novel's story is taking place in some alternate dimension of Warcraft-- maybe on a private server or something.

The centerpiece of the novel is definitely an Orc campaign into Ashenvale. To the best of my recollection, this is the first time since the Second War that we have seen full-on battle between the factions. (and no, Alterac Valley doesn't count).  But this, too, is frustrating:  the resolution of any such battle cannot, and does not, alter the map of Ashenvale that we know in the post-Deathwing world. Any battle that has Garrosh Hellscream, Tyrande Whisperwind and Varian Wrynn on the field should have led to something much more significant than what happens here.

In many regards, I think this may have been one of the more disappointing Warcraft novels I've read. I see no impact of all this writing on the greater world we inhabit. There is some good character development, but much of it proceeds far too predictably, and is not as intrinsically interesting.

(Riddle: What is the best way for manly men like Varian Wrynn and Genn Graymane to bond and come to respect each other for the manly men they are? If you need another hint, go check any Hemingway novel or short story for a good hint.)

Click past the jump for spoilery bits:

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why Cataclysm Couldn't Top the Lich King

Nice try, DW, but no cigar.
I think Blizzard made a mistake trying to "top" The Wrath of the Lich King.

One of the problems that I have sensed in the past several months is that many players aren't as invested in the story Cataclysm has brought us. In one regard, we could probably look and say that players may be getting jaded, and there is probably some truth in that. But on the other hand, there are some principles of story-telling that didn't line up well in this tale of the Black Dragon that destroys the world.

The company line is that "This Cataclysm is like... the most dangerous thing that has ever happened in the world! Everything's all broken! Fire! Fire!" But, the structure of the video game doesn't support such histrionics. The day that Patch 4.0 hit, we all logged on and all the worst destruction had already occurred and the world was still there. Our immediate reactions were not "Oh noes! Must... fix... world...!" For most of us, it was just curious amusement and the knowledge that the world was going to persist, because if it didn't... what were we going to play in?

And, for the lore student, it's easy to see the Cataclysm isn't the most horrible thing that ever happened to the world. The Sundering, 10,000 years before, that split the Pangea-like super-continent into the major landmasses we have now (as well as the full-fledged demon invasion immediately preceding it) clearly altered the face of the world more than Deathwing did.

Another of the key storytelling problems this expansion is just simply that The Lich King was a tough act to follow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Patch 4.3 - Two Days Later: A "Huge" Patch

It doesn't work like this.
Blizzard spilled the beans in German, no less, about the plans for Patch 4.3  And all the sudden, every web site in the game industry had notes to add to that.  Let's get to the revealed details and then look to overall analysis.

The Deathwing Raid
It's time for DW to meet his maker, apparently. There's nothing else really going on, I suppose. So why not?

MMO Champ suggests that the appearance of this raid makes it very likely that 4.3 will be the last patch before the next expansion. I beg to differ, and point squarely at The Ruby Sanctum as a precedent. Furthermore, it's really well-documented at this point that DW has a boss he is answering to and that boss is an Old God. We don't necessarily need to scrap with him this expansion, but to say we are simply not going to see him this time would be short-sighted until Blizzard announces otherwise.

There is no word on how many bosses there will be or where it will happen. A separate report suggests that at least part of the Deathwing fight will take place with the entire raid up on his back as he cruises through the stratosphere.  This is cool enough. I have long pictured that DW is just too much monster to corner in his lair and that the fight would take place out in some instanced version of the world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Patch 4.3


Patch 4.3 should surely have a rock elemental rave party.
From MSNBC report about the recent Activision Blizzard financial reports:
"The 'World of Warcraft' development team is also working on the next content update, which will include major new raid and dungeon content," he said. "We believe that this new end-game content will keep the game fresh for current players and provide compelling reasons for lapsed players to come back."
Morhaime added that it would be the "largest content update since 'Cataclysm'" and said it would arrive "later this year."
Prepare to be underwhelmed, WoW fans. Patches 4.1 and 4.2 have been miniscule in comparison to what we saw in both Wrath of the Lich King and in The Burning Crusade.  The largest content update "since Cataclysm" is still likely to be smaller than than any patch from before this expansion.

Blizzard needs to get busy and reveal some of the things they are plotting, since they haven't said even one word about it. And it's been many many weeks since 4.2 appeared.  Some guidelines they should consider:

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Hints Have Begun

Who are these Ethereals? And what are they doing here?

Blizzard CM Nethaera posted this picture Thursday morning on the official forums.

  • These characters are not listed in WoWhead.
  • They look very much like they are fulfilling some faction functions.
  • They are in a pretty standard human-constructed building
  • The "Arcane Reforger" is interesting. Thus far, reforgers have only appeared in major faction cities in the form of one of the player races.

Conclusion: This is some sort of new material.

Could this be... for the expansion? Nethaera posted this on the forums under the heading "Curiouser,"  which is very teasing, I think. And Blizzard doesn't usually tease over coming patch content. They just issue a patch preview. Which makes me think that we might be looking at "The Mists of Pandarea" or whatever here.

That's all I'm going to say about it right now. I can think of several other ways to extrapolate into this information, as I'm sure people all over the world are already doing. But I want to see more first.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How's Blizzard Doing At the Bank?

Pork bellies and Activision Blizzard are on the rise
Activision Blizzard held it's 2nd Quarter earnings call the other day and announced that they lost another 300,000 subscribers between April and June of this year. Add that to the 600,000 lost in the first quarter, and that's around a 7% subscriber loss this year.

Before continuing forth, we should review Blizzard's Parent Company structure, just so that the rest of this article maintains context.  The company that makes and develops WoW is called "Blizzard Entertainment."  The company that publishes WoW is called Activision Blizzard. The company that owns Activision Blizzard is a French super-conglomerate called Vivendi. Vivendi is traded on one public stock exchange or another.

Is Blizzard in trouble?  Emphatically: No.

At the same time subscribers are down, the revenues from "properties such as WoW" hit a new record, showing a 27% increase from the same quarter a year ago.  Opening up Cataclysm in China this year has certainly been a part of that growth. Next quarter, we can look forward to hearing about WoW's recent expansion into Portuguese in Brazil has upped the bottom line as well.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects

Since when did orcs get noserings?
I finished reading Thrall: Twilight of the Aspects the other night. It was a good enough read. First, I'll share some proper thoughts that might be called a "review" with the meat of the post, that might be called "spoilers" appearing after the break.

Warcraft stories in general are paced much more like action movies than real books, and I routinely wish, when reading them, that they would slow down and say a bit more about relationships. They rarely delve much past the most glaringly obvious of "feelings."

Yah, yah, Thrall is totally in love with Aggra(vation). Who cares. Tell me something I didn't know, like how Farseer Nobundo can stand to be in the same room as the leader of the creatures who decimated his people and severed his personal connection with The Light with their fel corruption. In this book, all we get is Nobundo patting Thrall on the back and being glad to see him, and are left to imagine the intense conversations that should have happened before such a thing could be possible. Stuff like that would tell us so much more about Thrall then reading about him getting all gloopy over the chick he's fallen for.

Twilight of the Aspects is a moderately decent chunk of plot for Warcraft, taking place between the start of Cataclysm and the launch of Patch 4.2. The real meat of the story has to do with Deathwing's attempts to remove the Dragonflights from his quest to destroy the world.  Deathwing has a minion called The Twilight Father attack Wyrmrest Temple and for some reason, they are all coming after Thrall as well. Ysera has had visions in which Thrall is important to the future of the dragons, though I'm not sure how Deathwing or the Hammer would be privy to such information.

Thrall has a good romp through time, trying to locate the Golden Aspect Nozdormu. The Twilight Hammer also goes about trying to revive Nefarion's plan from Blackwing Lair to make a Chromatic Dragonflight.

There is a subplot in which the Leader of the Infinite Dragonflight siccs an Adelus Blackmoore from an alternate timeline on Thrall which is completely pointless other than to have Thrall get sidetracked with an arch-enemy who he must eventually kill (again). I really wanted Adelus to yell out: "Durnholde Keep was merely a setback!" Really, why not make... a new enemy for Thrall to face, rather than recycle an old one again?

I'm actually not the biggest fan of Christine Golden. I think her characters move more like paper dolls through the familiar scenery we know as Azeroth than they should and what amounts to Deep Insight (TM) in her stories are fundamentals of eastern religion that I learned the first time somebody taught me about meditation. I wish she'd give us something that we haven't really seen before. Her heroes are mighty, her villains craven. The stories go from point A to point B to point C without much else going on in between.

Anyway. It's a lot of plot and a relatively upbeat ending that suggests the Doom of the Aspects may be averted. I'm not a slobbering Thrall fanboy like some (cough, Chris Metzen, cough), but I do basically like the guy and it is good to see him in the world. I just think it'd be more interesting to see him really challenged. Aggra(vation) seems to have been inserted into his story just to push his buttons, but she's in love with the guy and still ranks with all the rest of the backslappers that surround Thrall.

Follow the jump only if you are not offended by spoilers and analysis as to what these plot points bring to our Azeroth.

Coming to an AH Near You...

Ormus' Robes going once! Going twice ...!
Monday, August 1, Blizzard took the opportunity to announce that Diablo III will have an Auction House

Instead of selling off all the stuff you accumulate while Diablo-ing, you'll be able to put it on the Battle.net AH and let somebody, somewhere else buy it off you. Woot

But the freaky thang is that there will be two variants of this thing, one of which will use ACTUAL REAL LIVE MONEY from your Battle.net account.   I'm going to say that again:  ACTUAL REAL LIVE MONEY. I think the business model here is that your barbarian may find a helmet or something deep in the bowels of the earth and instead of sticking it on your head, you can put it in the Auction House. And instead of asking 500 gold for the thing, you could ask for $5. And then some guy will see that, and use funds he has transferred into his Battle.net account to pay for it.  That guy could then use the $5 he has just earned (minus a percentage taken by Blizzard) to pay for subscription fees to one Blizzard game or another. or to buy a Sparkle Pony from the Blizzard Pet Store.

And now, we pause, to offer a link to all this info. There's a buttload of it and I don't feel like I need to repost it here. Go ahead and read and come back to some highlights and analysis.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This is SoOOoo Not Safe For Work


Earlier this year, a friend of mine suggested I look up a song by Jonathan Coulton, and when I went You-Tubing, instead of the usual song playing with a picture of the album cover, I was delighted to find WoW machinima instead. Since then, I have struggled, nay... fought with my desire to post about it. The video and the song are perfect together, though I can rightly imagine a significant number of people getting horribly upset at it as well.

So, with that struggle now behind me, I first issue this opinion: This song and video are about as funny as they come. The song is cheerful and pleasant and the video is mischievous, clever and though lacking in some production quality is not lacking in imagination and love for WoW.

Second, I issue this warning:  People offended by any variation of sexuality that one could possibly imagine should not watch this video. Children should not watch this video. People at work should not watch this video.  If adult topics could prove troubling to you, do not follow this link

And so, finally, I present  "The First of May" by Jonathan Coulton. 

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shaman 5.0 - Things to Change

Just imagine there was a Belf Paladin being engulfed by this Lava Burst.
What wondrous colors there would be!  The sound it makes when it 
smacks 
into something (like a Belf!) is fantastic too! This makes Lava Burst great.

One can imagine that some bells and whistles of WoW 5.0 are hitting the drawing board, if not already into full-scale development. Actually, that may not really be the case. Patch 4.3 is lurking out there somewhere just beyond the horizon and I'm betting the devs are picking at class balance like an itchy scab. Either way, it's again time to look at what needs to change.

A caveat to this shaman discussion:  I, still, have never played enhancement. I do have a goblin in her mid-40s I think out there somwehere who hits things with hammers and daggers and knows what to do with a "maelstrom weapon." But that surely does not count for a decent end-game discussion. So, I won't even try and pretend that I know what I'm talking about with that specc.

Fix Earthquake or get rid of it.
This is a broken concept for a spell-- broken by changing developer attitudes about what constitutes "fun."  Can you believe that this thing has only been around since the beginning of Cataclysm? And yet, as an effect, it makes so much sense for a shaman to be wielding it. How did it get broken so badly?

Initially, it was a simple, channeled AoE spell, not unlike a mage's Blizzard. You picked a spot on the floor, you cast the spell, you stood there waving your arms in the air for a bit while the ground pitched, heaved, sometimes threw mobs onto the ground and hurt them.  The original graphic for this was undeniably a bunch of shaking earth, but it did look a little hokey.

Friday, July 29, 2011

What Would Brian... I mean, Warchief Garrosh Do?



It's apparently an oldie by this point, but I only discovered this film today via WoW Insider. I'm very fond of Irdeen's "Boom-Di-Yada" film and just love how he takes the standard WoW images so much further than most machinima-makers. A parody on South Park's "What Would Brian Boitano Do?" only perfects this one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blood Elves. Just Blood Elves.

The reasons are better than just that this guy's hair bugs me. Though, this guy's hair does bug me.
Yerp, we're not mincing words in this blog.

Actually, I will mince words. I think I shall write a sonnet on this topic:
Why dost I hate blood elves?
Let me count the ways:
They think too much of themselves
And magic addiction leaves them in a haze.
Their hearts, filled to the brim with spite,
Leaves no space for friendship.
Though, the Alliance, their Sunwell did light,
Their loyalties, they hold out like a bargaining chip.
Though the Belf women be cute
Their attitudes are quite fissilingual.
The Belf men, from veteran to raw recruit,
All seem, really, to be very metrosexual
But if there is one supreme reason for loathing a Belf
Is that there are no greater tools on the continental shelf.
Does that clear things up?  No? Well, I had fun writing it anyway. And look up "fissilingual" to figure out what a good job I did choosing my rhyme scheme!

I wrote in the sidebar recently that I try hard not to hate Belves more than most bunches of pixels that appear on my screen. However, the former followers of Kael'thelas have come to deserve some special attention. A great deal of this is based on my interpretation of WoW lore, while some of it is sort of meta-game thinking:

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Da Future

Click here to see a full version, and don't you dare consider this "confirmed."
I apologize to readers who think I must come back to this topic like I'm picking at a scab on my knee but I just can't stop looking at the future of our game here.

MMO-Champion.com originally posted the document linked above about a year ago and reposted it this past week to note that a few more elements of that time-line had come true (the new localized version of WoW for Brazil that was announced this week, in partiular).  Boubouille is about as careful a conduit of "leaked" material as they get.  He didn't fall for that recent forged document about material being prepped for Blizzcon and he clearly runs sources in and around Blizzard with accuracy and care that the finest news outlets in the world should admire.  That's his disclaimer on the bottom and I'll reiterate that anybody would be a fool to use this as something to plan your life by or to go posting in the general forums about, but it's proving accurate so far.

So far.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Vial of Sands

Thass right, baby! I'm an Internet Dragon! Woooooo!
A long-time project came to fruition this week with the imbibing of the Vial of the Sands this week.

Mega-kudos and a great outpouring of thanks go to Deathwink of Nagrand for crafting the potion for me. She lifted me out of a fairly lousy week in the process by showing how nice players can be and even admitting to being a reader of this blog!

I think I have referred to this in blogs of pages past that I'm going through a fairly large professional transition this year. My game time has been decimated from what it was before and the largest casualty of this situation has been my ability to raid. To compensate, I' trying to be completist about the game in every other respect (since that's mostly something I can do at my own pace and um... solo *cry*) but getting the ability to shape change into a dragon has been one of the larger projects, collecting each and every primal needed to transmute out the truegold, and then raising the gold reserve to be able to afford the *cough* exorbitant price of materials that can only be bought from an individual vendor in Uldum. This was meant to be a zero-sum project, and it nearly was. Um, except that I misread the number of Sands of Time called for in the recipe and had to lay out about another 20k to get that number right.

Finally, I posted in the official Nagrand forums about a week ago to find a craftsman who had obtained this extremely rare alchemy recipe.   For the record, the Recipe: Vial of the Sands is a rare drop from a Canopic Jar that one might find while doing Tol'vir-related archaeology. You have to have your archaeology near 450 for that to even be a possibility, and as archaeologists all over Azeroth have discovered this past year, Tol'vir artifacts only appear in Uldum, while there are 15 other zones on the same RNG chance to go digging. So, in essence, this recipe is a rare find from a lucky roll that you can only even have a shot at if you are also an alchemist (it won't appear if you're not an alchemist) and if your archaeology skill level is pretty close to max.

If my fellow Nagranders contact Deathwink to do some crafting for you, I'll leave it to the two of you to negotiate crafting fees, and simply say that it was a great pleasure to have met her and I hope the threat she made to "go over to the dark side" sometime soon to play with some Horde friends doesn't happen. If it must, then, please Deathy, don't roll Blood Elf, at least :D

"The Protectors of Hyjal"

Merinna, a bunch of druids, and Gurgthock: The Protectors of Hyjal
My new favorite daily quest is such an unlikely one...

"The Protectors of Hyjal" takes you to Sethria's Roost to kill of a total of 6 large elite elemental baddies.  You are given a team of druids to help you out with this task and it's one of those that, no matter who tagged the elite, if you put some damage on him, you get credit for the kill as well. If you don't have a rotating companion quest to collect items from your kills in this area, it's a quest you can usually finish in about two minutes due to the large number of people questing these zones these days.

What makes this quest special though was the realization I made about three days into the set, when I was flying along with my posse of druids and I realized that somebody was flying a roflcopter along with us. I hovered my mouse over this unexpected guest and realized it was none other than the esteemed Fargo Flintlocke who dove into battle with my group, shouting "Hittim in th' jimmies!"

In fact, each time that you run this quest, you get partnered with one of a fairly lengthy list of guest NPCs. Nevermind killing elementals, I just look forward to my daily guest now, many of whom are guaranteed to make me laugh.

Many of these names are fun pieces of WoW history for long-time players. Some of them are newish, post-4.0 additions to the game that many players might not have met before. All of them are kind of fun:

King Mrrgl-Mrrgl
King Mrrgl-Mrrgl - A druid who seems to be stuck wearing a murloc costume, last seen in the Borean Tundra trying to lead the local frog people through their time of distress. Technically a member of the Cenarion Circle, but also affiliated with the somewhat retarded D.E.H.T.A.

Choluna -  a Tauren Druid who was most responsible for helping players guide the demi-god Aviana back into the real world. She usually resides further up the slopes of Mt. Hyjal at the Shrine of Aviana.

Tarindrella - a dryad from Teldrassil. Her role has changed in 4.0 as her quests were redesigned, but she is one of the first NPCs new Night Elf players meet, and according to Wowpedia, is one of the oldest NPCs in the entire game having been intruduced in WoW alpha.

Zen'Kiki - a Troll Druid who players meet in the Western Plaguelands. Zen'Kiki is new and hasn't quite got the hang of this druid stuff. While assisting you in the Plaguelands, he is likely to shoot himself with moonfire, heal your enemies by mistake, and get stuck shifting into acquatic form on dry land.

"The Protectors of Hyjal" (Part 2)

Eridar, a bunch of druids and Argent Confessor Paletress: The Protectors of Hyjal (Part 2)
It is a departure from how I normally present posts, but the list of NPC all-stars now appearing on the slopes of Mt. Hyjal was becoming significantly too long, so I have taken the unusual step of cutting this post in half.  

This is the second of two posts about the Protectors of Hyjal. if you need to go back to the first part, you can just click here.

The list continues!

High Warlord Cromush - is Garrosh Hellscream's right-hand man in the Eastern Kingdoms. Horde players meet him in several places through Silverpine Forest and the Hillsbradt Foothills, keeping an eye on Sylvanas, who the orcs don't trust, and then later howling in anger when the Frostwolf clan refuses to join his forces in fighting the Stormpike Guard in Hillsbradt Foothills.  He later appears inside Heroic Shadowfang Keep to Horde Players as an NPC helping in the fight against Lord Godfrey.

Mankrik on the rampage.
Mankrik - Mankrik isn't nearly as famous as his dead wife, who had been the object of hatred among many patrons of Barrens Chat for years.  Originally Mankrik asked Horde players to try and find his dearly beloved wife who is eventually (and at great length) found dead at the hands of quillboars. In 4.0, Mankrik shakes off the funk and goes on a killing rampage in the Southern Barrens, slaughtering each quillboar that wanders too close to his axe.

Hobart Grapplehammer - is a goblin quest giver Horde players can visit at the Southern Rocketway Terminus in Azshara but who was also on Kezan, the goblin starting zone experimenting with new products. Most of the spectacular goblin engineering items seen in these starting zones, including Town-in-a-Box and gilgoblins are attributed to him. Though, he's been advised by counsel not to claim the gilgoblins because of a negligence case brought up over them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Random 4.2 Thoughts

Now, all can quiver with jealousy at my Cenarion Hatchling in the WoW Armory

Ugh!  Malfurion Stormrage and Thrall being BFFs on the slopes of Mt. Hyjal.

Mal:  Oh, young Thrall. I sense a great change in you! You have accomplished much since last we met!
Thrall:  Master Stormrage, it is good to have you in the waking world again.

Here's how that conversation should have really gone:

Mal:  Oh, young Thrall. WTF are all your #$%@ing orcs doing in Ashenvale. Why, I oughta ...
Thrall: Master Stormrage, I'm not sure what you mean, I've been kinda busy at the Maelstrom for a few months now, y'know, holding up the world and all.
Mal:  Real men don't make excuses, you green-skin punk. Have you been to Ashenvale at all recently?
Thrall: Well, no ...
Mal: Didn't you know your boy Garrosh was going ape$%#t all over the place there?
Thrall: Um...
Mal: [calls down some moonfire on Thrall's head] Did you even stop to think about what happened the last time you left a Hellscream in charge of something?  He killed Cenarius!  And by the way, i wouldn''t go down to the Shrine of Malorne, Cenarius is there now and really isn't into the whole "forgive and forget" thing. You may be the "World-Shaman" or whatever, but even that tosser Fandral is going to kick your ass here in another minute. Cenarius, he'll kill you, and then he'll go to work on you.
Thrall: Yeah, about that... you know, it wasn't really Grom who did that it was the vile demon Mano...
Mal: [drops more moonfire on Thralls' head] What did I just say about excuses?
Thrall: ...

Monday, July 4, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ahune, go home!

The Frost Lord brought us bogus treats this year.

I have always had a fairly soft spot in my heart for The Midsummer Fire Festival.

I think, in part, it was one of the first holiday events that was seriously overhauled in the past few years, to become a real powerhouse event rather than the anemic excuses for holidays Azeroth celebrated before.

I think the whole "Tour the world and honor some fires while desecrating some others" routine has been a favorite thing. It's always been a good excuse to go tour all the places I've been and see how they are doing. I always imagine that "desecrating" a Horde fire is more akin to "Peeing on it" rather than just "Putting it out." And that appeals to something pretty immature in me as well.

And then there's Ahune. He was, I think, the first holiday boss in all WoW. And he dropped capes that were enviable and worth the time to go and collect if you character wasn't on the burning edge of raid progression. Ooooh, and The Frostscythe of Ahune. Coolest. Looking. Staff. Ever. It always has been and the specialty of that drop has been unadulterated since it's model has not been re-used for any other steps.

But this year... Ahune brought his capes and scythe, but um... maybe he didn't need to.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Developer Q& No A

My favorite incarnation of the Mighty Ghostcrawler
 Who read all the Developer Q&A sessions?  Did anybody like them?

Bashiok announced this week that the series was going to be scrapped and I mostly say, "Good riddance."

The whole thing kicked off in January with a Lore Q&A. The system was announced, that players should use the forum vote up/down system to show support for questions before writing one of their own, but since the thread spread to 40+ pages in less than an hour, I don't think anybody really managed to get through the lot of it.  Ultimate insult was added to this Q&A when the developers failed to answer anything.

Since that time, there have been a slew of different topics with more or less satisfaction in each case. But it culminated this week with the antagonizing set of answers provided for the Tank Q&A.  I think Allison Roberts, the Drood Guru at WoW Insider provided an excellent analysis of all that was wrong about that particular feature.

But I have to stop briefly and look at this one foul question and answer in the midst of the tank questions:
Q: Have you ever considered adjusting DPS HP? Seems that while their large pools of health help them on "accidental" situations, a fair portion of the time they can take aggro and tank adds without consequence. – Jainel (LA)

A: We're generally happy with how well DPS are able to tank (which is to say, not very well). We like that they can take a hit or two (depending upon content) before dying, and that the penalty for that happening is a huge drain on healer mana.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Here's my Real Prediction: Azshara

Azshara, twisted queen of the Naga: Our next big challenge
Haha. I'm almost sorry to keep coming back to this issue, but I keep giving it more and more thought.

I think I'm ready to put down my bet: The major antagonist of the next expansion is going to be Azshara. I'm not sure that makes the whole thing and "undersea" expansion per se. There are plenty of creative ways to introduce different settings to a story. But that's what it will be: Time to finish the Naga threat.

The thought that occurred to me about an Azshara-based expansion: Blizzard originally planned two raids for tier 12 raiding, the Firelands and an Abyssal Maw raid. The undersea raid was tabled, since the devs were allegedly more "excited" about the Firelands. 

Abyssal Maw had been announced and it's cut from patch 4.2 was one of the things that has been a major, major letdown. But, reading between the lines, if Blizzard were actively contemplating a significant undersea expansion, it would make a lot of sense to save the ocean raid material when they know it will thematically fit into the story they have coming up. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Future I Would Rather See

Here's a good basis for an expansion: Let's kill this guy!
I wrote my last article speculating about the next expansion and a day or two later Anne Stickney did the same thing on WoW Insider, and somewhere in the midst of reading her piece it dawned on me that I had written my article about the likely possibilities and had left out some of the options that I would really really like to see (though I think they are less than likely).

I don't really take back anything that was written in the previous article, however, but let me add these ideas that would likely be even more compelling, in my opinion:

The Horde Civil War
I see two possibilities for how these things could go, either of which would be immensely satisfying.

Scenario 1:  Somebody in the Horde comes to their senses and goes, "Garrosh F$%&ing Hellscream is Warchief? Oh, no! What were we thinking?"  But Garrosh won't go quietly and the forces loyal to him and the forces loyal to Thrall have to throw down. Thrall can even turn to the Alliance for help, since apparently he and Malfurion Stormrage are best buddies now. My favorite variant of this has Orgrimmar being seized by the Garrosh people and becomes a raid instance, in which the last boss is Hellscream himself.  Pure awesome. Horde players can totally get behind Thrall in this scenario, no matter what race they are and an invasion of one of the well-established WoW cities would be exciting beyond belief.  On the other hand, this would be a fairly radical use of game resources. I can imagine some players being upset about loosing the Big Apple of the Orcish eye.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I can see ... THE FUTURE! (Not Really)

And the future is a hazy green? Gosh, I hope not.

Ah me, amidst Blizzcon tickets selling out at a new record pace, the Interwebs start to whisper of the possibility of a new WoW expansion to be announced in October.

I think it's going to be a busy Blizzcon. I suspect Diablo will be front and center stage at that event. Unless I'm mistaken, there may be only a few months left before its release by the time Blizzcon rolls around.  There are clearly developments in Starcraft as well, even though I don't expect to get any mega-announcement about Heart of the Swarm at all in 2011.  But, in all likelihood, I think we will hear the first beams of news about World of Warcraft, Expansion IV.

What shall be in this expansion? Let's consider a few possibilities:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Quality Content Control

I remember reading an article by a former GM who described the amount of WoW douchebaggery rising significantly when players get bored of the content and instead of playing "the game," they decide to mess with people instead. Generally, this was a problem in the months before a new expansion. Yet here we are, early in Cata, and the problem is clearly going out of control again now.
 - Me, in February

World of Warcraft's subscriber base has reached pre-Cataclysm levels, according to Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard Entertainment. He then later stated an actual number, with subscriptions at the end of March clocking in at right around 11.4 million.

That's down by about 5% from the announced 12 million mark late last year. Interestingly enough, that was right before Cataclysm released. In fact, it's actually lower than the milestone reached in 2008 with the release of Wrath of the Lich King.

Another point, Mr. Morhaime touched on as well is that World of Warcraft's subscriber base does not change linearly. It fluctuates based on content consumption, which players seem to be doing a whole lot of -- at a more rapid pace -- with Cataclysm. "Subscriber levels have decreased faster than previous expansions," he said.
- Curse.com, early May
This is not going to be a very positive post. Let's just put that at the top here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Sins of Buying Gold

I've got ninety thousand pounds in my pajamas. I've got forty thousand French francs in
my fridge. I've got lots of lovely lira, now the Deutschmark's getting dearer. And my dollar
bills could buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

There was a news item printed recently that guards at Chinese work camps forced prisoners to farm gold in World of Warcraft which were then sold to players all over the world.

Here, I attempt to be as objective as I possibly can in pointing out a few things:

The Guardian newspaper of Britain reported on the story told by exactly one former prisoner in China.  Let's be honest and acknowledge lousy journalism when we see it. There is a cardinal rule in journalism, that it's not news until you have two sources confirming the same story. This doesn't mean that the events did not take place, it just means that the Guardian sloppily ran out an unconfirmed story because it's "astonishing."

There are human rights violations alleged by the name-changed subject of the Guardian article. I don't mean to lessen the importance of these things, but, they do not influence the conditions of gold-selling in WoW. Human Rights' abuse is to be deplored, but they should not cloud our view of how this relates to our game. Better organizations than the Guardian (or this blog) are already hard at work on this.

The story states that the "forced gold farming" took place between 2004-2007. In game terms, this is a lifetime ago. Blizzard has changed the dynamics of gold acquisition to such an extent that the majority of purchased gold now comes from hacked accounts.  Gold-farming, while probably still existent, is largely defunct. Old stories like the Guardian's report have little sway on the current dynamics of the problem.

Finally, it should be pointed out that labor camps, the making of products, and the exporting of said products are all quite legal in China, so ostensibly, I don't see that putting prisoners to work in this manner is all that surprising or unusual. (And it might make us stop to consider who exactly made all that other "made in China" crap we already have.)  Many states in the U.S. have variations on this same policy as well. So, let's not cast stones about that.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

How to Resto, Post - Patch 4.1

Wait! Where's mah mace?
It's been several months now since I really evaluated what I wanted to do with my specc for Cataclysm, and the fact is that so much has changed in these months. Co-efficients have been rejiggered, new abilities designed, other abilities redesigned. So, it's time to take another look at stuff.

A few quick points that will have more detail below:
  • Deep Healing mastery was pretty lackluster for resto in its initial design but the numbers for Deep Healing have been significantly increased and now also include indirect healing effects.  This makes it worth another look.
  • Focused Insight has fallen out of favor for PvE.
  • Telluric Currents remains contentiously debated. 
  • Wind Shear no longer misses, making us lean, mean, interrupting machines. Make no mistakes about this: wind shear is the best interrupt in the game. Best. In. Game. Suck on that, rogues.
  • Spirit Link Totem would be great if other players would stop running away from it.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How Many Buttons Do We Want?

More Buttons! Push More Buttons! Hit it like you mean it!

You have just got to love Ghostcrawler: whether he quit the forums out of frustration or if his boss suggested it might be time to take a break there, the guy just wants to communicate with the WoW Base so much that he goes and creates, not one, but two different blogs so he can keep some flow of thoughts going.

Of the two, the "Blizzard Blog" may be already dead from inertia. But the second one, "Coffee with the Devs" (Or perhaps "Developer's Watercooler." They seem to have different names in North America and in Europe) generally gets my interest going each time. It's casual, it's not a big deal, and it's just good insight without pages and pages of flaming replies from forum trolls.

In the midst of Troll Fever this week, GC released a new one of these, focused on the number of abilities the devs try to put into each class and specc.

Ghostcrawler's missive can be read here:

At heart here is real discussion about all the class changes that just keep rolling in and why they are rolling in.  GC makes a number of really astute observations, but a few things that I wouldn't really agree with too. Be sure to read the full post of course, but come on back and let's talk about this.

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's the Little Things... (part 5)

Stand and Deliver!
Lest Ze Blog lapse into too much QQ, I was thinking about things I really really enjoy in the game...details in particular that don't really fit into any larger topic:
  • Using an invisibility potion while running up the steps of Farson Keep on Tol Barad so I can bypass all the trash mobs and engage Lord Farson for that one daily quest. It's even better when you get there and somebody already has him mostly dead so you hit him once and immediately start running out again.
  • Getting a really lucky streak with Lava Surge proccs and slamming a boss with Lava Burst over and over and over again.
  • Getting to fly over Uldum. That place has some of the coolest scenery.
  • Thieving Little Pluckers: a daily quest that never gets old.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

"Gameplay May Change During Online Play"


Nub Tales: showing us how we wish this problem played out
You don't expect wisdom to be found in the ESRB rating, and yet if you consider WoW's "T for Teen" tag and the little caveat printed there at the end, you find pure gold: "Gameplay May Change During Online Play."

They are referring to online interactions changing gameplay. But is it really "gameplay?"  How we play the game is affected by online interaction? Yes, it is.

Blizzard developers put so much effort into developing WoW, tweaking the classes, balancing the fights, and refining the talent trees. They can make content and stories til the cows come home. I can love my character and all the things she can do, and I can play my character well. I can get some hawt lootz, down a new boss and get some funky achievements.

But this doesn't change the fact that pretty much daily, I run into players who seem to get off on harassing and abusing other people, and getting to spend time with these people can pretty well spoil an otherwise nice day of WoW gaming. The online interaction with other players defines WoW play experience as much as, if not more, than any mechanics or new content.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This Will Only End in Tears ...

Visit The Daily Blink for the best WoW commentary around.
Let's start by fully quoting the "plan" to reduce queue time:

  • The Dungeon Finder: Call to Arms will now identify which class role is currently the least represented in the queue, and offer them additional rewards for entering the Dungeon Finder queue and completing a random level-85 Heroic dungeon.
  • The least represented class icon will show within the Dungeon Finder to indicate the role that is eligible to earn the bonus reward.
  • Players must queue solo with the currently indicated least represented class (by the system) and complete the dungeon up to and including the final boss in order to be eligible for the bonus reward.
  • The bonus reward will be displayed to eligible (system identified as least represented) classes within the UI.
  • Once the dungeon is completed the eligible player will receive a goodie bag with various potential rewards including: gold, rare gems, non-combat pets, and (very rare) mounts.
I mean, the Daily Blink pretty well says it all up there. I wish I were so talented as to be able to sum up the problem so neatly.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The C(rowd) C(ontrol) Disconnect

New fury warrior CC: "Summon Riot Police"!!
It is just a few months into the Cataclysm. People seem to largely be getting along, the initial shock of heroic dungeons has abated somewhat. We are discovering that outfitting your char in ilvl 359 gear (current raid gear) takes a lot of the edge off dying and stuff.

I've written about how RL is messing with my play time, so in order to do any dungeons, the Randon Dungeon Queue and I are becoming reacquainted, so I have been able to see how the random groups are going

However, in general...very much in general... There are still a few problems going on with how a general heroic run goes: In particular, the tanks are starting to ignore the need for CC again. Tanks are approaching 200 thousand health of course, and healers throughput is growing and growing and those two things reduce the need for CC considerably. I can honestly say that I have met some tanks who can do all this. Most however, cannot.

Why tanks still shouldn't ignore CC.
Mobs that do things besides hit the tank If all the mobs you're fighting are content to smack the tank, then that reduces CC needs a lot. If, however, one or more mobs are interested in healing, throwing interrupts at the casters, or have abilities that cause them to randomly target non-tanks, then CC remains a good idea.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Hop on the 4.1 Train! Toot Toot!

ZG and ZA are back. Because there can never be enough "troll" in your WoW play experience.

Ya see that headline up there?  That's pretty well all the enthusiasm I have been able to muster for Patch 4.1. Please enjoy it.

I'm not sure what to make with this patch. They call it a "content" patch, but really... I'm not sure what the real content is going to be. There's no new raid. The new dailies zone has disappeared into a fog of ones and zeroes.

The "new" content: Re-purposed troll instances from two and three expansions ago. Really? Is that the best we can do? I was reading the back story about what's going on in Trollville these days. It turns out the Zandalari Trolls are causing the problems. Gosh, that's disappointing. I mean, for years now, they have been "the good trolls." And it's Vol'jin of the Horde rallying BOTH FACTIONS against the rising threat in the various Zul-'s.  I'm honestly not sure what to make of that. Y'know, the Alliance and the Horde are kinda in the midst of a full-out war in most areas of Azeroth.  It's increasingly well-documented that Vol'jin is not alright with this war, but he's not leaving the Horde either, and reaching out to the Alliance seems like a real long-shot.  Nevertheless, the blues say Vol'jin's people will be waiting for Alliance players in SW Harbor come patch day.

Anyway. Troll dungeons are visually interesting, but pretty limited in style, really. And I'm bloody sick of them. It doesn't help that I have a special room of hatred in my heart for ZA, which was far and away one of the most punishing raids Blizzard ever made. "Self," I told myself the last time I ran ZA back in the day, "At least this is done and there won't be any need to come back here." Oh how naive I was.

If there was any consideration about how much "new" was going into these dungeons, I was reading the preview of the new Troll thing going on and ran across this quote in the blue post about Zul'Aman: "For those who fought Zul'jin back during The Burning Crusade, much of the dungeon will feel similar..."

Great.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

I Miss Merinna

Oh my.

It's going on three weeks without a post, now. But then it's also going on three weeks since I've really been able to play WoW too.

This is the consequence of
  1. deciding to move back across the ocean to my home country,
  2. getting a new job and
  3. applying to a study fellowship so I can have the privilege of going to grad school and work in the field at the same time.
I'm not going to whinge too much. I am lucky to be in a field which is hiring in this day and age. And sooner or later, I'll get to see some benefits from all this change.

But, gosh do I miss my main right now in WoW. I've only been able to play a few stray hours here or there for the past several weeks. And it's kinda no fun to log Merinna so I can think about all the raids I'm missing, or the gear I'm not earning; or the achievements I'm not getting done. Most times, I don't have even an hour to run a daily heroic. So, instead of spending a sad hour with Mer, I sorta hide out on one alternate or another so that there's not really anyone around when I have to slink off back to studying or whatever.