Expectations September 19, 2012Posted by Ben in Uncategorized.
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Expectations are killer. Especially when you have trouble meeting them.
The in-game event for the launch of Burning Crusade lasted…one week. The Dark Portal broke open and demons were flooding through. We had to try to hold the line. However, with that many players in one spot and a limited number of npcs, completing the quest was a matter of who had the best and luckiest AoE.
The in-game event for the launch of Wrath of the Lich King lasted about a month. It slowly ramped up from a few suspicious crates to a full-blown Zombie Apocalypse. It was disruptive to normal game play (which despite whining of some players, was kind of the point) and a hell of a good time to role play either trying to fend off the attack or to spread the plague. Add to that ziggurats assaulting high-level zones, the discovery of a cure in Shattrath and the full assault on Stormwind and Orgrimmar by the Lich King, and you have the standard by which all other events are measured.
By comparison, the Cataclysm was a yawn. Most of it happened while the servers were down for the patch. We didn’t get to see places destroyed, they just were. There were elemental invasions in places that didn’t ultimately change that much. And then there was a week of special boss fights that were pretty cool, but forgettable. I’d hoped that we’d see the gradual change of the world in a few weeks before the expansion began. Maybe we could have tried to stop the flooding of Thousand Needles and/or try to rescue the survivors
And now we have the Theramore scenario. It’s fun, but not particularly impactful. From the Horde side you see the bomb drop, but not the aftermath. And there is absolutely no story introduction. But I can’t help but wonder if the disappointment so many express has as much to do with wanting a bigger catalyst for the new expansion than what they’ve been given. And maybe we’d been waiting so long for something new to do, that we had set up expectations that weren’t realistic.
Goodbye Deathwing, Hello Pandas September 18, 2012Posted by Stormy in Uncategorized.
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It’s Tuesday, September 18. The long-awaited Mists of Pandaria launch is a week away, so I figured it was time to really, truly put Cataclysm to bed and start thinking about what’s going to happen when Happy Funtime Panda Adventure Island opens next week. I’m done with Cataclysm. Like…so done. I’ve been done for months. I’ve actually spent most of the last few months finishing Loremaster and hanging out in Outland working on BC reps and titles, and I am so ready for something new to play with next week.
One of the cool things about the WoW blogger/Twitter community is the sense of closeness and connectedness we’ve been able to foster, and I think as WoW in general moves away from being just a video game to being a social network with a video game glued on top, this sense of community is really going to pay off. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to position myself and my playtime in preparation for Pandyland, and last Friday I asked my friend Nymphy if her guild would be willing to take on a stray shadow priest (okay that’s a lie–I was drawn in by the recruiting tentacle), and they said yes. I put in for the transfer, and three minutes after I logged into my new home-away-from-home on Azuremyst I was being dragged into Dragon Soul. A little over two hours later I had my Destroyer’s End title. Deathwing is dead by my hand now, and I can say I have finished out the story of Cataclysm.
Last night, my friend Tikari mentioned on Twitter that he was planning on pushing through some Cataclysm randoms to level a couple toons and he was looking for help. I piped up, and last night Tikari, Jasyla, Netraven and I grouped up to do a last tour of the Cataclysm dungeons. We facerolled Throne of the Tides and groused about the jellyfish elevator, steamrolled Blackrock Caverns and said goodbye to Corla, and just generally reminisced about the last two years of our WoW lives, and I had the most fun I’ve had in WoW in a while. After we finished our randoms, Tikari and Jasyla and I grouped up to do the new Theramore’s Fall scenario. I’ll spare you my thoughts on it, but Tzufit pretty much speaks for me on this.
Pushing through solo content by yourself is fun and gratifying to an extent, but WoW is a social activity meant to be enjoyed in groups, and I’ve immensely enjoyed these two opportunities to get together with other people and kill some dragons. With the advent of BattleTags and cross-server grouping I hope I’m going to see more and more of this throughout Mists, and I’m even leveling a couple of Alliance toons in preparation for some possible shenanigans with Alliance friends. Let’s be honest: Cataclysm was largely a swing-and-a-miss for Blizzard, but very little of that matters when you’re hanging out in Mumble with a bunch of people you really like.
So long, Deathwing. Goodbye, Twilight’s Hammer. Arrivederci, Cho’gall. Bye-bye, Asira Dawnslayer. The Cataclysm is over. Azeroth is changed forever, and I suppose I am too. I got a little giddy the other day as I was flying around Stormwind and saw that there’s a pagoda and a bunch of turtles over by the Eastern Earthshrine. New adventures await us in Pandaria, and I’m all kinds of excited.
A Hero Emerges September 15, 2012Posted by Ben in Pandaria, Uncategorized.
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When I Stormy invited me to start writing for this blog, I had a vision of writing about the zones themselves and exploring their changes. One post that I wrote was of particular popularity (The Moral Quandary of Westfall) where I wrote a first-person perspective of questing through the zone and how the events left me feeling less than heroic.
I want to write more things like this as Mists of Pandaria unfolds. As my Tauren Paladin quests through zones, dungeons, scenarios and eventually raids, you’ll see his adventures reflected here, in addition to my own ramblings about game mechanics and such.
But without further ado, an introduction to our hero…
I miss being a youngling on the rolling plains of Mulgore. Standing on one of the towering bluffs of my people’s capital, I could see the village of the Bloodhoof clan nestled into a curve of the largest lake in the region. I remember learning to ride a kodo along the shoreline, racing my fellow paladin initiates, being scolded by our mentors for indulging our pride.
With a sigh, I look back down at the letter than had been delivered earlier that day. The aid that I’d been able to provide to Thrall and the Dragonflights against Deathwing had raised my profile considerably. But when the Maelstrom no longer threatened to rip the world apart, I only wished to return home.
Colonel Bullrushed Sunwalker,
The Horde has need of your service once again. We have received word of Alliance activities in Theramore that must not be allowed to continue. You are required to present yourself to the Warchief with all due haste.
General Lorak Stonejaw, 3rd Army of Orgrimmar
Shield and mace slung across my back I climbed the wyvern roost as the time for my departure neared. I was far more comfortable making the trip on a light-blessed kodo of my order, but the urgency of my summons would not allow that luxury. I summoned the strength of the Light to overcome my fear as I mounted the tamed creature.
As the city faded into the distance behind me I prayed for a smooth flight and that Lady Proudmoore’s reputation for peace and diplomacy wasn’t undeserved.
Reshuffling buttons September 6, 2012Posted by Ben in Uncategorized.
That title makes it sound like it’s going to be one of those blog posts. But it’s about keybinds.
As has become my custom when a new expansion arrives, I take the opportunity to refresh my interface. My old set of actionbars contained at least three rows of 10 buttons, and some classes had an extra bar scaled down with twelve more buttons. Almost every ability from the spellbook was featured on my bars. At least a third of them weren’t even bound to a key. So useful.
So when 5.0.4 dropped and I had to reorganize my bars with new and changed abilities anyway, I decided to start from scratch. I cleared my bars completely and decided on two rows of five buttons. (and a stance bar for the Druid and Paladin) The buttons on the bars are those required in the rotation and a few utility buttons (Taunt, Silencing Shot, Searing Totem).
This also means I’ve had to configure the Cooldown Timer feature of DoTimer (for which there is an unofficial update, thankfully), and get used to using that instead of watching cooldowns on the buttons themselves.
Needless to say this has been an involved process. Especially with most of my main characters being dual-specced. Of the nine characters on my primary realm, I’ve gotten the bars set up for five and the OPie rings set up for four.
Have you changed your UI before you head into the Mists?
Guild Wars 2: Getting My Feet Wet August 30, 2012Posted by Stormy in Other Games.
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Yes, this is a blog about World of Warcraft…mostly. Yes, WoW dropped a huge patch this week, and there are lots of things to say about it. But I also putter around in various other games and MMOs (not that I’ve found any that rival my emotional and time investment in WoW), so I thought I’d take a few minutes and talk about Guild Wars 2.
I wasn’t going to play GW2. The big Mists patch dropped this week, and Mists itself is less than a month away. I talked it over with one of my gamer friends/coworkers and decided it just wasn’t worth it to spend the money for something that was likely to give me just a few weeks of game play, if that. Then the lovely and talented Arolaide of Dragonsworn posted this. I saw the green Necromancer outfit she posted, and that sealed the deal. I got the game up and running this morning–after a lengthy download–and here are the random, discursive brain droppings currently rolling around in my head. Fair warning, though: this is GW2 through the lens of a WoW player, and there’s a lot of WoW talk here.
- The game is visually stunning. The characters are realistic, the countryside depicted in the Human starting zone is magnificent. Divinity’s Reach, the main Human city, is absolutely gorgeous–there’s a sprawling garden in the middle of the wheel-shaped city that one could get lost in for days. More than that, it’s alive. There are people and guards everywhere, and the people talk to you. It’s a living, breathing city any time, day or night. There’s been some discussion this week about the cartoonish nature of the graphics of WoW, and this is a complete departure from the graphics I’m used to.
- The character creation screen is heads and shoulders above anything I’ve seen in any other game. In GW2 it’s actually possible to create a dark-skinned Human, something I have yet to see in other games. I played around with the sliders and options for a bit, and here’s what I came up with:
Meet Sterrin, the human Mesmer. Yes, I’m embarrassingly shallow, but behind that silly Mesmer mask he’s really pretty to look at, trust me. I’m still baffled, though, by game designers’ consistent inability to make human hands that aren’t oversized, clunky, angular, and just…odd. In any event, I also enjoyed being able to pick various personality traits for him, and I think it would be interesting to play through the same story twice with different personality traits to see how it all changes.
- The world feels large and overwhelming. When I first started playing WoW many moons ago, the friend that dragged me (kicking and screaming) into the game wanted to show me the new mount he had just gotten (this was back when mounts were a big deal, and he was super proud of himself). I stood in Dun Morogh for what felt like hours until he came riding up on his nightsaber, and I felt small and insignificant in a giant game universe. Over time Azeroth has a tendency to shrink, especially with portals, flight paths, epic flight and the like, and in Tyria I was able to recapture that feeling of being a speck on a giant marble flying through space.
- I absolutely *love love love* the fill-the-heart questing mechanic. In WoW you’re sent to a quest hub where four NPCs will give you four quests to kill ten rats, kill the Alpha Rat, gather ten shiny rocks and feed ten cows. In GW2 you go to a quest hub where one NPC asks for help, and you can help them by killing ten rats, killing two rats, the Alpha Rat, and gathering seven shiny rocks…or any combination thereof. The world is your oyster. Hate rat-killing quests? Skip ‘em. Hate use-the-item quests (which I normally do)? Skip it. The world is your oyster.
- And when you’re done killing rats and helping the NPC, the NPC sends you mail full of prizes and money! And to collect your mail, you don’t have to visit a physical mailbox. Perhaps that’s less realistic than the WoW mailbox mechanic, but it’s a lot easier to deal with.
Now (to steal a rhetorical device from Arolaide) if you’re the kind of person who’s only here to have me blow sunshine and roses up your butt about this Guild Wars thing, you can stop reading right about here.
- Although I appreciate the racial diversity offered by GW2, they still fall into the old trope of “All the wimmens must be hot and have giant boobs, and all their outfits must be halter tops and plate bikinis.” I saw a whole lot of cleavage in the last few hours.
- I still cannot, for the life of me, figure out why game designers–save Blizzard–make all your ability icons look so similar. On my shadow priest I can tell Shadow Word: Pain and Shadow Word: Death apart just at a glance even though they’re both yellow skulls, and I can tell Devouring Plague apart from them both since it’s a different color. My GW2 ability bar, on the other hand, looks like this. It’s an improvement over the gray abomination that passes for an ability bar in RIFT, but it’s still…purple.
- I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but travel is just…overwhelming. Navigating Divinity’s Reach with the giant, overly convoluted map is a bit of a chore–although I rather enjoyed the waterfall elevators.
- The game feels overtuned. Maybe it’s just because I’m a noob, but killing mobs seems to take forever, and I seem to die an awful lot. Perhaps I’m used to the WoW method, where it’s virtually impossible to die in the first ten levels unless you’re *really* dense, but combat just seems so tedious. All the same, it’s fun to be able to create little clones of myself, and some day I hope to be in a lengthy boss fight and create dozens of little mini-mes, cackling maniacally all the way.
- Also, for the record, the next time some insolent, impatient little brat whines about an extra two hours of maintenance ahead of a WoW patch I’m going to slap them upside the head and remind them of the GW2 launch. I give credit to Arenanet for realizing their limitations and shutting down online sales of the game this afternoon when they realized they simply couldn’t handle the load they were getting, and I give them credit for constantly communicating about what’s going on, but this launch has made a seemingly rocky WoW patch look like a peaceful Sunday drive.
Anyway, there’s a three-day weekend coming up here in the States, and since my partners-in-WoW-crimes will be away in a magickal faerie land called “Nebraska,” if anyone needs me, I’ll be in Tyria.
So much to do, just not yet August 25, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
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“The launch” is a month away.
In 31 days, I’ll go from wondering what to do with my time in the game to having a glut of options. And I’m a little overwhelmed. I feel like I need to make a “plan” of some sort.
Leveling – Obviously the first priority. Earlier this week, I laid out that I’m starting with the Paladin. And if I can manage it, he will be the only toon/character/avatar that ventures into the wilds of Pandaria until at least Hallow’s End. I learned from the intense zone burnout of Cataclysm that pushing the entire stable to max level all at once isn’t a good idea.
Monk – Back into the warm embrace of the dungeon finder. I think I want to go Tank/Healer with this, and I do have the heirlooms to support it. Maybe switching roles to help with the repetitive nature of running Uldaman for the umpteenth time.
Pet Battles – So excited. Building and leveling my new stable will require a fair amount of travel and being out in the world, so I think I’m going to designate the Hunter as my “pet trainer.”
Archaeology – Probably lowest on my priority list. My Associate Professor is my Priest, and I’m probably content for him to continue puttering through the Old World working on rares (like that damned Clockwork Gnome) until it’s his turn to level. Added side benefit: leveling Archaeology provides experience.
Professions – Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, Enchanting, Tailoring, Inscription, Leatherworking, Alchemy, Engineering. All over 500. I’ll be watching the Auction House like a hawk for great deals on herbs, because none of my herbalists will see the fields of Pandaria for some time.
Dailies, Scenarios & Dungeons - Follows directly after completing leveling, and is the other reason I’m going to try to focus on a single character. Burnout is the enemy, and I am determined to keep him at bay.
Raids - Given the super-casual nature of my gaming, this will be LFR-only, and I’m okay with that. Given the recent announcement of how they’re going to extend the rollout of said dungeons, I’ve got two weeks before the first one is open and now close to two months before it’s all available. And while I think this staggered release is caused by stupid complaints, I’m more than happy to have the flexibility to not work my way through Pandaria at my own pace.
Well, looks like I want to do pretty much everything…except PvP. How about you?
Main Change August 22, 2012Posted by Ben in Classes, Leveling, Pandaria.
Burning Crusade? Rogue.
Wrath of the Lich King? Druid.
Each expansion has seen me with a different main character. Changes to leveling (and elimination of deadzones) allowed me to level several classes to max level in Burning Crusade, and I discovered a love for a new class by the time Arthas attacked. A server change to join a Horde guild made the Blood Elf priest I’d leveled as a side project and grown to enjoy a more economical option. And I stormed the gates of Icecrown in Shadowform. Now as Deathwing’s sparkly death fades into memory, I find myself shifting again.
Up until a few weeks ago, I’d intended for the Priest to be the first to make landfall in Pandaria. He’s an Enchanter and a Jewelcrafter, and those are two things the rest of my stable will need. Another character was sure to follow quickly on the heels, because well, our little gang was going to need some support roles, and I have just never been fond of priest healing (not that I can honestly given it a real chance). But then Stormy and I were chatting, and he reminded me that what fun it was to be slogging through Deepholm for the third time in the first month of the expansion, and I remembered by my formerly Primary Alt (the Druid who was my main at the start of wrath who’d had an unfortunate accident with some Gnomish technology and become a Tauren) didn’t reach level 85 until a few months ago. Okay, part of it was that I didn’t enjoy Balance’s Eclipse style in solo play, and was too afraid to attempt healing, but mostly it was because somewhere in the middle of Uldum, I just couldn’t force myself to do another quest. Even now, other alts that land in Deepholm or Uldum find their leveling speed drop significantly. So, I’ve decided that my main has to change again.
Mists of Pandaria? Paladin.
I get to benefit from short queue times by leveling a tank first, and faster Holy Power generation will make questing as Ret less like watching paint dry (although I remember leveling as a DPS Holy paladin back in BC, and that was truly glacial). Plus as Mining/Blacksmith, he can split the ore between his own profession and the Priest’s jewelcrafting. And our intrepid triad of guildies won’t be all-cloth (Stormy’s a Priest and Suz a Warlock).
How about you? Is your MoP main going to be different from the one who started Cataclysm
Ack! August 3, 2012Posted by Stormy in Uncategorized.
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Both of my WordPress blogs are under the same WP account/email address, and I just accidentally posted a rather lengthy treatise about my health journey to my WoW blog by accident. I’ve deleted it, but if your feed reader is particularly speedy it may have picked it up before it was deleted.
Sorry, I goofed, my bad, je suis desolee, lo siento, etc.
The Great Bank Purge July 24, 2012Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Pandaria, Sweating Bullet Points.
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Over the past several weeks, I’ve been systematically cleaning out the banks of the characters on my primary server. I’ve never been someone for whom bank space has been at a premium, in fact most of the characters only use 16-slot bags (and a few didn’t even have [Safe Deposit] until recently), but I still had a fair bit of stuff that had collected for no apparent reason.
So when I’d started the project of reorganizing and cleaning out our Guild Vault, I was motivated to clean out my own bank as well.
When cleaning out the Guild Vault, I set up a few simple rules:
- Is this an item that can be fairly easily farmed? – Items such as Copper Ore or Kingsblood are fairly simple things to farm and were sold off, whereas things that randomly spawned within the nodes like Eternium Ore and Frost Lotus were kept. (Although did we really need to keep 60 Frost Lotus?)
- Is the item useful for leveling a profession? – We have a sizeable stockpile of gems from Malachite to Inferno Rubies. We have a guildie who might be leveling Jewelcrafting in MoP, so for now the gem cache survives.
- Is this something that we are likely ever to use? – Over the lifetime of Cataclysm, many helpful guildies have deposited stacks of cooked food or enchanted scrolls into the GV that they’d created while leveling professions. Since we’re reaching the end of the expansion’s lifespan, they were sold off for profit.
So when cleaning out my own banks, I set up a few rules for myself:
- Don’t keep profession leveling mats. – Those that are harder to obtain were deposited to the GV, and the rest were sold off. (Particularly awful was the 30+ stacks of Wrath level meat and fish that I was still holding on to, and now sell for nothing on the AH.) The exception were “parts” from Engineering, because you never know when those will come in handy, and they don’t sell well anyway. But with eight characters on this server at level 84+, I’m not likely going to be crafting a pair of [Spidersilk Boots]
- Don’t keep gear that you can’t see. (unless it’s that special) – There’s no reason to keep that ring I picked up on a fun run through Serpentshrine Cavern. I can’t mog it, so it’s just wasting space. Exceptions were made for Ashen Verdict ring (sentimental value) and items with fun “On Use” abilities like the [Rainbow Generator].
- If the tabard is easily re-obtainable, pitch it. – I’ve maxed out rep with the major cities, and if I get a wild hair to level Kirin Tor rep on someone, I can buy the tabard again. Good bye.
- Utilize Void Storage if at all possible. – My paladin has started to assemble quite the arsenal of weapons from running old dungeons and raids. And at this point in the expansion, I don’t need my transmog set readily available when I’m not getting to new gear pieces.
- Lose the Seasonal junk. – How many Moonstones had I kept from past Lunar Festivals because they were once useful for marking dungeon spots, when I can now just use the in-game markers? How about those [Lucky Rocket Clusters] that you can only use during the festival. Or that stupid Fruitcake from Winter Veil. Or the eggnog or gingerbread cookies.
So now I’ve got much cleaner banks. Which will come in handy for my primary characters as I work towards getting them “out in the world” bank access. The Hunter already has Jeeves, and the Shaman has her Hobgoblin. And soon enough, the Priest and Paladin will have Ponies for their Argent Gruntlings.
Now if Blizzard would just announce the release date…