Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I Need Me Some Garrison Resources!

The Storehouse doesn't actually make resources but
you could pretend to store them there. Or something.

If you're like me, you got to level 100 and among the first things you wanted to do was scare up 2000 garrison resources so you could build out your garrison into a proper castle. And, if you're like me, that wasn't too bad because you'd been collecting a fair number of resources from quests you see completing. I think I had about 1850 at the time I struck level 100 and got the rest fairly easily after that.

So when I spent my 2000 resources, I did so with a little niggling worry in the back of my head: these resources had been mostly found using quest rewards...ones that I'd never be able to collect again. These were non-renewable resources, which if we have learned anything from our dependence on fossil fuels, should teach us that one should never build an economy on that.

Blizzard has done a pretty arcane job of giving us ways to generate resources. There are some "easy" ways to do this, but those are almost exclusively non-renewable. Which is to say, you'll get that haul once and then never again. There are some renewable sources of garrison resources but they need some set up work to become effective. And then there are other sources that will require your constant attention.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Panda Postmortem

Yes, it's going to get ugly.

Warlords of Draenor is here. We're done with Pandaria and I don't sense that it's a place I'll be terribly excited to revisit, unfortunately. I was trying to piece together why that was the other day and realized that I missed something Blizzard did last time around, which was a full-on public post-mortem of their work in Cataclysm. It was refreshingly honest and it was good to see how the company assessed their own work.

Well. if Blizzard isn't going to do the job this time, somebody has to. So, let's give it a go! I'm not sure that this can be comprehensive because there's so many aspects of the game, but here's a few thoughts all the same.

The World
Pandaria looked very pretty, really. The zones had some distinctiveness while still seeming to be a part of the same world. That said, I didn't feel that the continent had any particularly memorable sites.

(Haha... I just Googled "Pandaria Map" so I could have a reference to look at and it showed me Pandaria, in the Chhattisgarth province of India.)

Actually, that's not entirely true, I was moved by the view of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms with its Mogu architecture and spray of manicured trees, and that was destroyed.  Because I like it better before the Alliance and Horde have a battle there, I specifically stopped running through the full story in Jade Forest with my alts just so I never reached that part where the statue of the Xu'lon gets covered in sha goop.

I think a bigger problem with the settings was that none of it felt essential to the story. Jade Forest and the Valley of the Four Winds had some personality to them, but Kun-Lai Summit, Townlong Steppes, and Dread Wastes felt like one long slog of progressively uninspired waste.  I remember reading, before Pandaria came out, that "Kun-Lai Summit is 4 times bigger than the largest zone in Cataclysm." But didn't you notice how much completely empty space was in the Kun Lai region? And naming the tallest mountain "Mt. Neverest" and then putting nothing of any essential importance even near it was both boring and uninspired.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Commander is On Deck!

Whenever somebody calls me "Commander," This is what I think of.
Some stray thoughts about Warlords after the first weekend:

Shadowmoon Valley was tremendous fun, with some good storylines that I enjoyed a lot. Gorgrondor, my next stop in Draenor, feels utterly formless by comparison. I'm not entirely sure what's going on there because all the questing I did was about checking in with the Ragnari and helping them solve some ecology-related problems. As soon as I found a summons to Talador, I took it. I haven't gone far there yet, but it was a little disappointing that the promise of immediate engagement with the Iron Horde was deferred by the need to construct an artillery tower instead. 

Argh! Karabor was a snooze fest! The final battle against the Shadowmoon orcs was all well and cool, but Karabor was originally to be the main Alliance hub in Draenor. When that was cancelled for Ashram instead, Blizzard promised Karabor would still be an exciting mecca of Draenei culture. But no, instead it is one huge, sparsely-populated botanical garden. I've had one reason to go up into that area since the Battle of Karabor and can find no reason to go back.  I wandered into Shattrath last night and found a sprawling city with whole districts I didn't know existed. And it was inhabited and showed signs of recent battle. But again, no signs of questing in this area. And no mining or herb patches. These are great big empty patches of nothing. I sure hope they turn into something. 

DPS queue lines for dungeons have been absurdly long, but I ran with a guild group (healing again!) and saw the Bloodmaul Slag Pits and The Iron Shipyard.  Slag Pits was a fairly nonsense attack on a few bosses, only one of which had any particular mechanics to pay attention to. The Shipyard was more challenging and just more interesting in general. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Draenor! HoOOooo!

It's Orctacular!

The sites and colors of Draenor

You know what I like best about the new expansion so far? ALL THE DRAENEI!! I feel like my favorite race has sat around like a bunch of outcasts for six years now and suddenly we're everywhere! I mean, we are on the planet they named after themselves and all. But hanging with Maraad, and that posse of Drae refugees that keeps growing and growing as we maneuver to destroy the Dark Portal! My Blue Brethren not beaten down and mostly destroyed by filthy Orcses! Yeah! This is my kind of expansion.

And then there's all the Orcs. One thing I kinda noticed is that all these clans have parallels to Azerothean races. The Shattered Hand clan puts on body paint and runs around with their shirts off. Just like trolls. The Blackrock clan spends all their time at the forges. Just like dwarves. In one part, I'm a little disappointed that I see such parallels. On the other, I like that these clans kinda sorta have their own flavor, which will go a lot further towards my enjoyment of killing them all.

My biggest raised eyebrow right now goes to Ner'zhul who seems like a raving thug each time I've laid eyes on him so far. In this parallel universe, it seems like the Burning Legion skipped him altogether and made their pacts directly with Gul'dan, so Ner'zhul ought to be a shaman of sorts, but all I've seen him do is yell uncontrollably and snatch a girl. I expect there to be more, but I'm like, "Sheesh! This was the cloth they cut the original Lich King from?" It actually brings LK down a peg in my mind.

I've been writing (and rewriting and rewriting, hence it's not posted) a summary of thoughts about Pandaria. And seeing Draenor has reinforced one thing that disappointed me about MoP: The land is so much more beautiful in Draenor. Pandaria felt like an Asian wonderland, but with each zone very ascribable to certain Asian contexts or locations. Draenor is where they've thrown off that restriction again. I can see techniques they've learned to do since Outlands was created, and they put those to unfettered use in a landscape that ever so barely hearkens back to Outlands and yet feels very new and very vibrant. My only concern might be that the terrain is very rugged and with no flying in this world even announced at present, I'm gonna get might tired of trying to farm stuff while navigating the cliffs and ravines of this place.

Well. In truth, I've not even seen half of Shadowmoon Valley yet, there is so much left to do (and the servers are doing their normal new x-pac strain and shut down for maintennance) so I'll write more impressions later. But here's a few first stray thoughts:
  • Thrall is slave's name. No more shall Thrall be known by a slave's name. From now on, Thrall shall be known as Baldy. Seriously, what happened to his hair? Did we all just let 15 years slip by or something? That can't be a valid style choice!  That said, I kinda did enjoy actually running along and casting lightning with Baldy. He and I have talked on a number of occasions but this is the first time we've ever really "teamed up."
  • Garrison. Hmm. I dunno. Do you get the sense that garrisons feel like a well-packaged Facebook game? Showing up at City Hall, telling this follower to go do that quest and that I should come back to check on it again in an hour, or how ever long, reeks of Farmville, or The Simpsons: Tapped Out. Keeping an open mind, but really... It has not made the best first impression. Keeping an open mind... keeping and open mind...

Servers Move That Way, I Move This Way

They confirmed it long before I ever heard a rumor.
This feels more like a maintenance post than anything else, but it would feel loathe to not talk about this straight up.

I think it's been mentioned somewhere in the archives here that I started my Warcraft Career in Asia. I actually had friends there who played and they talked me into it. Needless to say, I was hooked.

That first fateful day, when I had no characters on any server, the server recommended to me was that Oceanic server Nagrand.  That is where I went. It was (is still) full of Australians and New Zealanders who enjoy warcraft. I could also report a significant number of Singapore players and guilds. This connection worked fine for me with a minimum of latency and I've made gobs of Australian, New Zealander and Singapore friends. Some of them have moved onto places like South Africa, Malaysia and a bevvy of European countries. Warcraft has been a fantastic international experience in that regard.

These Oceanic servers, however were located near Los Angeles, in the United States. While, for some reason, I was getting barely any latency rates, I never knew that my Aussie friends routinely played with 200-300ms latency rates. There were days when it was worse, but hardly any days when it was better.  When I moved back to the United States almost four years ago, I kept playing on Oceanic Nagrand with almost no change in my performance rates.

And then, last month, Blizzard announced they were moving their oceanic server farms actually to Australia and a week later it was done. They started offering free transfers for Aussies looking to come to home servers and all were happy!