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Sunday, January 25, 2015


Because you're worth it...

In the week, perhaps inevitably on the back of the 6.1 Patch being prepared, there has been further muttering on the lack of flying in WarlordsWe have spoken before, and at some length, about the ramifications for no fly zones in current content. It really does not matter at this point how many people decide to pitch up at my door and complain that they are now 'bored' and 'do not care' about 6.0.3 (or indeed anything else) because they are unable to travel to it under their own steam. The ban remains deliberately enforced, and frankly, long may it continue.

LALALALALALALALA I can't hear you :P

Blizzard, well aware that scheduled flightpoints need to be robust, or methods of transportation more freely available, has already seeded changes in 6.1 to the Flightpath Technology. Speaking from a personal standpoint, I find myself wherever possible deliberately taking scheduled transport, even if in many cases there is a quicker (and cheaper alternative.) Hell, this is ALWAYS the way I've done this, ever since Vanilla. There is something rather restful about not having to worry about flying myself to somewhere. SO WHAT if I don't get there X% faster and I don't take the most direct route? Without wanting to end up sounding like a broken New Age Record here, it is not the destination but the journey that remains the most interesting part of the equation for me. With the addition of a 'Next Stop Please' button on flights from 6.1, this process has become that much simpler. What I now want to know is whether this change is simply for Draenor, or whether it rolls out across all of Azeroth's Scheduled Bus Bird services when the patch drops.

The Daily Commute :D

The problem, of course, for so many people is that the 'best' mounts are the flying ones, and by that I mean the prettiest, the most sought after and the hardest to obtain. However, that may yet become less of a problem over time, if Blizzard can maintain the standard of artwork that currently exists on the Ground Mounts we're seeing as drops across Draenor. There's been a distinct shift in emphasis towards details on saddles and panniers, a clear and (I think deliberate) attempt to tailor the emphasis away from the need to be in the air for something to feel 'special.' I think, if I'm honest, the pinnacle of that achievement is Poundfist (who drops the Sunhide Gronnling) because REALLY RIDING A GRONN is pretty much awesome. What makes this choice more significant still is this is amount that is intrinsically linked back to a storyline you engage with as players (assuming of course you took the Gladiator's Sanctum in Gorgrond *cough*) These are the kind of rewards that engage players: I'm thinking of Rivendare's Charger (Deathcharger's Reins) or Mandokir's Raptor (Armoured Razzashi Raptor) as other examples. There is a lot to be said for owning the mount of the baddie you dispatched, after all.

So, this inevitably means that Blizzard will want new ideas for ground mounts as the Expansion goes on. I feel I'd be remiss therefore to not mention publicly the idea that came to me in the week when I was looking for a particular image to use on Twitter:

No drama? JUS' LLAMAS :D

THIS GAME NEEDS A LLAMA MOUNT. Let John, Terry and Eric  tell you all about them:

Just think how majestic your Goblin or Gnome would look on the back of one. GO ON.


Ground mounts are the future, people. Time to get happy about travel times and start taking screenies on your scheduled flights. It's really not the end of the world, honest.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

10 Years :: 10 Questions ::

We have Arrived.

This is the second of five mini Documentaries covering the 10 Questions I asked of the Warcraft Community back in August.

Click Here to see the online response to this Project

I'd like to thank the following people (in the order they appear) for their contributions to the Podcast:

@Sarolian on Twitter
@Ravven on Twitter
@MattFossen on Twitter
@Revenar_AIE on Twitter
@BitchPudding on Twitter
sfarajalla (at)gmail (dot) com
Matthilj Leenes via e-mail
Melissa Jenkins via e-mail
grimmtooth (at) gmail (dot)
xan3mk (at) hotmail (dot) com
@aerix88 on Twitter
jakere1993 (at) yahoo (dot) com
Ross F from Feckless Leader
Bendak from Eyes of the Beast
The Aggronaut from Tales of the Aggronaut

I'd also like to thank Rho from Extended Maintenance and Mr Alt from The Shed for their invaluable assistance in production.

If you have any comments or feedback, please add it to the Comments.

Which Way Now

Flying into uncertainty...

The next time you read a Tweet or a Forum Post or a Blog from someone who's telling you they've run out of things to do in game, stop and remember this: what that really means is they've run out of things they want to do. There remains a phenomenal amount of unfinished content for them in Warcraft, stretching back coming up for ten years. Just take a moment to stop and think about that with me, if you will. All those PvP Achievements. Collecting items with ridiculously low drops. Completing every quest. What many players simply fail to factor into their persistent dismissiveness at both Designers and Community Managers is that, like it or not, it isn't their job to tell you how to play.

That's entirely up to you.

Pick your destination...

Every time I see someone start up the 'flying's coming back' conversation in Trade Channel (and it happens quite a bit) I find myself responding with the same simple line: 'No flying any more, that's cheating.' Without rehashing conversations we've had to death, the fact remains that this Expansion, Blizzard have taken control away from players. It is deliberate, and it is for a very good reason: to reinvent the game. It is the same reason why I may lament the changes in Crafting, but the end result will mean, over time, that it becomes less about who can spend the most hours making gold. These changes mean that everyone can do so more fairly. All that experimenting with nerfing drop rates in Black Temple, the push towards giving players places to get gold with what might seem like the minimum amount of effort... making Gold the major currency because it simply makes more sense. To control the flow of gold means you can regulate a great many things, including those who attempt to sell it illegally. It makes logical sense, in the long run.

Yesterday, after my blog post, this comment appeared:

Nice Avatar, Stephen ^^

I'd never given it a thought, to be honest, the idea that this might end up as a means for in-game Gold to come full circle... but the mutterings have been there for a while. There was the comment by someone in response to the Extended Maintenance Podcast we did on Blizzard's plans to sell gameplay for Gold. It would be great if I could just buy the gold from Blizzard, once in a while, to cover a shortfall. Oh yes, and then there was the Market Research Questionnaire Blizzard sent out in April of 2014. I've got screenshots of it, but I'm pretty sure by agreeing to take part in said exercise I waived my right to use any of them, There was however, a question about microtransactions. And yes, there could well have been a question with a direct reference to in-game gold.

Needless to say, as players we may think we see a lot of the design process in action, but inevitably this is only ever part of a larger picture.

...and we go full circle...

I have felt it for some time, but I now am more convinced than ever than this year is going to see a MAJOR shift in the way Blizzard not only handles but manages Warcraft as a franchise. There is a significant Motion Picture coming for this title, one that has the potential to completely transform the experience for everyone who plays it, and to think that the Company is not going to do many things to use that power as additional advertising would, I feel , be blinkered thinking of the highest order. It will mean not simply change, but what I think could end up as a complete reinvention of what it means to play the game. I sense I am already experiencing the ramifications of this shift in the areas of the game that were traditionally 'niche' and that will be subsequently made more mainstream in the months to come.

I also think that anyone that thinks that after a decade that Blizzard will be happy to allow sub numbers to slide is not nearly looking widely enough at the potential it has to be even bigger in the next ten years than it was in the last. Many of us may not feel comfortable what is happening, but change is inevitable, and it is irreversible. This is the future, like it or not.

What people like me need to do is now work out what that change will mean on a personal gaming level.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Not Your Problem.

Somebody asked me today how it is that I can manage to write about this game, every day, and still find things of note that engage me. One of the reasons I keep coming back to Warcraft is the fact it is, and continues to be, an evolutionary process. Although sometimes I may not understand the reasoning behind decision making, I like to try and grasp the methods and the reactions of those who make the things I play with every day. Sometimes, I have to say in all honesty, some things make no sense to me at all.

Let me give you an example of this. I watch a number of Dev and CM accounts, not because I am a stalker but because I write a 5 minute Podcast every week that does its best to follow the game's notable changes. One of these people is CM Rygarius: Chung Ng, who is keeper of Patch Notes and overseer of Hotfix changes. So, when I saw this Tweet pop up earlier this evening, my curiosity was automatically piqued:


Because the man nicely gave me a link, I went and looked at the US Forums. This is what I found:

Add more context ^^

So, now I understand: Person on Forum objects to change to PTR where fish is automatically filleted when you catch it. Gets annoyed enough that they post this publicly where it gets massive upvotes. Rygarius makes the point that having 20 plus slots full is bad gameplay. The thing is, this is EXACTLY what I do myself, right now, in game to save time. Because I can't fish every day, this initial change to the Fishing model in Draenor gave me the opportunity to cast and stockpile, and so when I got a daily and not the time, I could just get the items out of my bank, use them, and not fall behind. And then it struck me.

This is PRECISELY the problem I have with just about anything profession related right now.

Let me take Fishing as the starting point: what constitutes the problem with gameplay for me isn't being annoyed at the space the fish take up. I could argue it is part of the problem that Blizzard filled the bag spaces with four types of fish to begin with (by creating this new gameplay effectively) but this in turn allowed Cookery and First Aid to be made easier. Add to this the fact that by tying access to the best fish and most desirable rewards behind (yet again) what might look like a currency but is still in the end a reputation grind, any love I had for Fishing's pretty much been squashed. The final level of annoyance was having become Best Mates with a certain Mr Pagle in Pandaria, I had to go through the entire process of  getting him to like me again before I could move forward.


Now, I can counter this argument quite effectively. In fact, I'm getting very good at arguing with myself on these points: if it mattered enough for me to fish 100 Lunkers, I'd just do it. Not everyone fishes like I do, and this system isn't about being max level, it's meant to get people from 0-700 quickly and efficiently, which it now does. Most importantly, because a bunch of new players turn up at the start of every Expansion and don't know who all these notable NPC's are, the exposition is required. I understand my problem: age is the ultimate issue. I fished up the money for my first Epic Mount, selling Salmon from Winterspring. I've done this for ten years. The Expansion changes aren't being made for my benefit, they're to get everyone else to use professions more.

Once I grasped that, it all went a bit Terry Gilliam in my head:

'You are NOT the target audience, do you get this now?' *sigh*

What Professions mean to me at present is knowing that even though I can instruct a Crafting Building to make one set of raw materials, it'll take me months to collect all the appropriate pieces to update my gear, unless I spend money to do so. I can complete my Auction House Robot if I can work out where all the pieces are I need to collect from the limited information the game provides, or if I spend the money to do so. Heck, if all else failed on the fish front I could go and buy the ones I needed to do that Daily, assuming I had the money to do so, and this is where the other issue raises its head. As it stands, if I don't have the inclination to spend money, I can get what I want, but only after an EXTREMELY long wait. If I don't, because Draenor made gold the most important currency for those wanting to gear quickly, it is all about how much cash I am prepared to spend. It's money for rerolling my stats on an item, or money for a crafted piece and then buying the bloods and making an item that has lost all of the care and crafted value that the items I made before had, because (in the ultimate indignity) I STOPPED HAVING TO GRIND FOR THEM. And then, to add insult to injury, I'll get a statue in my Garrison if I craft enough pieces in this Expansion. The last ten years doesn't matter, remember, this is all about the here and now.

I miss grinding for stuff to craft with. Yes, I know it's just me.

Blizzard want this to stop. Now I understand.

Blizzard have undoubtedly produced a great way for people to gear on limited timescales, and it is fabulous. I may be missing bankslots for transmog, that I'll grant you, but the fish, unfilleted, at least gave me the choice of when I could grind. Now I do a daily cooldown and feel nothing when before I'd spend hours in the Burning Steppes killing Dragons for my Leatherworking. I still go out and grind leather, of course, but somehow it is not quite the same. Where does my excitement come in crafting right now? Random Salvage drops. The occasional Epic from the same crates. But what I make, and what I fish, and what I mine/herb, has become irrelevant in relation to what I wear and its importance to my gameplay, because now none of those crafted things seem either to be as good as they were or seem to matter as much as the stuff that is ultimately more attractive from Raiding or my Raiding Missions.

For anyone else that's not me, however this new set of changes levels a playing field that was uneven for a very long time.

I get how much easier this is for everybody. I've read blog posts about how this works, and they're right. This isn't about working around people like me any more, this is making the game work for the vast majority on limited timescales who want to take their gaming in pre-arranged bursts. That means convenience, speed and efficiency. There's also the need to not appease people like me but to hook in new players, and this new professions setup is being milked by many people for all they are worth. They're not bothered they don't have to collect six types of leather to make one item any more, it doesn't matter to them. They just want the gear to go Instance. I totally and utterly get this, and in that regard I can't actually in good conscience go and tell Blizzard they've screwed this up, because they haven't.

Restrictions will apply. Because its only fair.

That's not why I craft, and it never was. It was the utter joy when the Dragonscale Leggings pattern dropped in BRD, or I saw my first Dreamscale from an actual skin (I still had to roll for it but still.) They've tried with the Toybox to recreate some of that 'fun' but its still the Tentacle of C'thun I keep in my bags because of what it meant when it dropped. Blizzard have done exactly what they said they would, but by streamlining the process a lot of the autonomy I had as a crafter has simply vanished. Now it's not about the unexpected item you might fish from a stream, but the hope you'll get a fish you can hand in for a coin. Some would argue there is no difference, but I would choose to politely disagree.

In the end, this isn't Blizzard's problem, and it never was to begin with. This problem is all mine.

If you don't understand therefore why a Forum poster might object to a change to something that makes perfect sense in the bigger context, don't get perplexed at the person who complains that your Quality of Life change isn't a good thing, even when in the long run it serves more than one purpose. For some of us, it isn't about making things easier or faster any more.

It is the slow removal of independence from our own hands that is the hardest thing to grasp.

That's all.

The Song Remains the Same

Today's Post is courtesy of a screenshot and a discussion that was instigated by my husband. When Mr Alt turns to me and states 'this is a bit crap and needs fixing' I feel I would be foolish to ignore the comment, especially when I realise I've been quietly agreeing with him for some time.

Not this decade.

One of my Guildies, knowing my love of all things ranged in the Weaponry Department, has been sending me the items he's been churning out via Salvage for my perusal. I've officially run out of space for storage on my main and so have been sending the BOE's to my bankalt instead, and what this has highlighted is a 'problem' that now crosses every expansion. Stat itemisation is RUBBISH on random gear. It is SO rubbish, that items like this can currently exist in game. Don't ask me about the two Spirit bows I have in my bag either, because I think we can now comprehensively establish that Hunters don't need mana regen any more.

Of course, Blizzard would argue that these items are redundant now for use, they're only in game for looks and to allow people like me the full range of Transmog options without the need to employ someone to fix the randomisation database. So, we can happily ignore the change in names/stat combos that has basically occurred EVERY EXPANSION WITHOUT FAIL. Except, actually, even in their current iteration, naming conventions suck. As a lover of the English language, reading some of these combinations quite literally makes me squirm. Don't ask me by looking at them if they're any use to me or not, because after a decade I don't have a clue any more.

No. There HAS to be a better way.

The problem here, it occurs to me, is not utilising the old to keep representing the new. Once upon a time, 'of Intellect' was a clearly defined item, the same way 'of the Bandit' was giving me Agility, Stamina and Critical Strike. You learnt and understood which 'suffix' did which job; however, with each new Expansion has come a new set of notational shorthand for each type of item. The problem then is twofold: because the old names haven't been retired you've got an increasingly large number of 'possibilities' to wade through to locate something of value for your character. Then, as as appears to be the case in THIS expansion, there are no longer clearly defined distinctions between which 'suffix' actually applies to which type of gear...

Stop now. This is getting silly.

So, gear that is 'of the Savage' can occur REGARDLESS of which weapon you use, or indeed which main stats you'll be utilising. This suffix now ONLY has reference to your Secondary Stats, and this is where the biggest problem is now occurring. This is why I still need a remote website to calculate which piece of gear is best for my character. Once upon a time, back in the old days, there were a set of predefined suffixes that I KNEW were relevant to my class and there was no need to have ANY KIND of site to help me optimise anything. This means, by default, that anything that DOESN'T have an 'of the X, Y or Z' is ultimately superior just because Blizzard gave it a special name. That's great for everyone who's able to Raid or get into an Instance. For the rest of you? On your own.

And this is why all the stuff that is generated from Missions needs a look at, because the vast majority of those items suffers from a naming convention that everyone will get used to by the time the end of this Expansion comes around, and will INEVITABLY be changed at the start of the next, that is confusing and includes abilities that half the playerbase aren't even clear about to begin with.

There has to be a better way. There are certainly improvements that can be made:

  1. STANDARDISE THE SYSTEM. Combine the item databases, Create ONE SET OF CONVENTIONAL SUFFIXES. then every item that the game randomly generates has some consistency. People can then ACTUALLY LEARN the best items for their particular specs and begin to grasp the importance of their class' strengths and weaknesses AS THEY LEVEL. If you are to maintain the use of the secondary stats as they stand, this point is doubly important.

  2. Give players a clearer indicator what stats actually matter to their class. Make tooltips reflect this, give the 'What's New' section of their Spellbook far more obvious indicators of what they should be using for their particular needs. You could even utilise a 'Traffic Light' system to visually indicate what is good and bad.

  3. KEEP CONSISTENCY SOMEWHERE. If you insist on changing the architecture for every single expansion, maybe now is the time to introduce some key terms that will cover the ENTIRE GAME and remain across all zones, and all areas, not simply for this Expansion but for subsequent ones too.

Blizzard seem quite keen to simplify their systems, but AGAIN are being held back by an architecture that they don't seem at all willing to change (presumably based on age and difficulty.) Ironically the lifespan of the game itself could now be contributing to far bigger issues than even the Company is capable of easily solving. Maybe it is simply time to throw the old aside and replace it with something simple, robust and consistent across the entire ten year tenure of the franchise. It could cost both time and money, but the benefits of players only having a small group of abilities to learn as opposed to the vast numbers that now exist?

It would also make Auction House searching a lot easier. JUST SAYING.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Can You See Me?

Oh Robert, how beautiful you were /sigh

I've done a lot of discussion around this Parish on the merits (or otherwise) of Social Media in all of its forms, and it is undoubtedly true that used well, these new communication mediums are fabulous ways of getting your message across, engaging people in conversation, and even acting as conduits for real and definitive change. In the gaming community especially, they've become the means by which companies can rapidly update players on downtime, of fixes to broken quests, even when they can expect to see new features introduced. The key to using these various tools successfully? Understanding what they are capable of, and ensuring that when used that the message you're attempting to convey is clear, concise and distinctly non-confrontational.

However, as many people will tell you, the Internet is also a fabulous place to start a fight.

Don't give me a choice. Step away from the confrontation.

A couple of people pointed this petition out to me yesterday, and for a while I ruminated on the merits of giving it any publicity at all, because frankly... there is a time and a place for everything, and this is neither. This, at least in my mind, is a perfect example of people just not grasping their own ideas in a larger context. It is, in its own way, absolutely no different to my nine year old's insistence that she will be ready in her own time, and frankly everyone else will have to work around her. To a certain extent she is indeed allowed a measure of independence, and can complete tasks at her own pace, but school starts at 8.45am FOR A REASON. Life is not just about doing what you want, or prioritising what you consider important. Life is also compromise, accommodation and understanding. I think, even with my Most Reasonable Hat on, that starting a petition to remove someone from their job because you think they've broken your game is not the way to express your displeasure.

Sometimes, you need a moment of revelation to put all the pieces together.

Personalities win prizes. They really do. THANK YAU.

Blizzard's response to my Blog Post on Tuesday is apparent evidence, at least to me, that if you spend a bit of time putting together a reasonable summary of a perceived issue, there is often basis for dialogue as a result. This Tweet above, as the RT and Favestars indicates, is a clear indicator that even though there's now an established conduit for 'official' announcements from the Blizzard campus, it is the people who make the decisions that matter just as much as the organisation they work for. Targetting any one of them for your particular abuse or ire is wrong, utterly pointless and will ultimately put back your cause for months, possibly years. You don't attack ANYONE, not even their ideas: to win at the game of change in gaming, you don't force answers. You offer solutions. By far the best way to instigate progress is understanding that there are certain things that cannot change: no, you can't make school start just to accommodate you when the majority of pupils turn up at the same time. Like it or not, you sometimes have to compromise on what you want to make everything run smoothly.

Grasping this, for many people, is something they may never do in their entire lives.

He flew in. He DEFINITELY FLEW IN ^^

In the end, there will always be those who just want to watch the world burn. How you deal with said individuals is entirely up to you: some days you'll just want to walk away, others you'll be the one handing them the match. In gaming terms, however, there are a few points that can be made with a measure of confidence. If you want something to work, it normally isn't simply a case of sacking the person who you feel broke it and replacing them with someone else. If you want to make something more popular, it might mean dumbing it down so more people can grasp the concept. Making tasks easier will inevitably involve the removal of steps or actions that mean that the entire end process is less confusing. In pretty much every case, you're going to need to adopt some form of compromise. This is a life skill I doubt I'll ever grasp successfully while I'm alive. If all else fails, you may have to be prepared for disappointment.

However attractive it might seem at the time, leading with your fist is never the answer. [*]

[*] There is one notable exception.

He is the Greatest.

[Does not condone Boxing, your Heavyweight Champions may fall down as well as get up. Please fight responsibly. PS: DON'T TELL ANYONE ^^]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Boulevard of Broken Dreams

STILL not sure what happens here ^^

There's some genuine concern reaching me from several quarters this morning, so its time to try and distil everything I'm hearing into a coherent form so we can address some of the issues that have arisen. Let's start with this article, which I picked up on my daily read-through of the Blogroll. I'd seen the Blue Posts on the explanation of the Garrison Campaigns just over a week ago and assumed that the ignorance of their existence was an isolated incident. Except, I'm beginning to doubt the validity of my own assumptions, and that I've already committed a key error of judgement by assuming people had just missed stuff to begin with.

Dateline? YESTERDAY ^^

Remember my post when I talked about how Garrison Outposts were a complete waste of time and that's they'd inhibited my access to key portion of questlines and exposition? Well, imagine what it would be like if MASSIVE parts of Draenor made no sense to you whatsoever? You'd been wandering around with no conception that there was something else you could have been doing, rather than the Daily Apexis grind. Is this possible? After nearly two months? Several tweets yesterday make me think that this is most definitely happening, even now. This isn't just a case of people not noticing either. Items are missing, key portions of the questline don't function, and watching social media yesterday was rather revelatory as I can tell you EXACTLY what's broken, and at what parts of the Campaign the programming falls over. No, it isn't affecting everybody, but the problems are most definitely there.

A lot of these issues appear to be of the same variety.

A while back a Guildie was having terrible trouble completing the quest that opened up the Lumber Mill for him via his Garrison. The problem? The tree you're supposed to 'chop down' had vanished. People started making cross-server groups in an attempt to find a realm where the tree was in the correct phase. Last night, a friend was having trouble completing the objective for her Campaign (Socrethar's Demise,) which I know has been problematic for many. Then there was the issue that people picked up yesterday when finally completing the Achievement for the Campaign, where the followers as 'rewards' (Thisalee Crow or Choluna) simply didn't appear. There's one common factor, at least in my mind, that links all of this stuff together: phasing. Ironically, the biggest single problem I encountered in Beta, without equal, was exactly this. Phasing issues always cropped up when Velen spoiled the whole Shadowmoon zone, crushing dreams and crashing clients without a care. And it kept happening.

As @TikariOfET states in a tweet, and I agree with 100%, I don't remember a period of gameplay this buggy since the beginning of TBC.


I'm kinda wishing I'd not mentioned this now...^^

You remember that post about the Haunted Memento, yes? This isn't just Draenor that's broken, Wintergrasp remains distinctly borked since the adjustment patch pre-Expansion. It used to be a joke amongst the designers in TBC, as I recall, that they were loathed to change one part of the world because it meant another would break, so they'd prioritise things on what affected the most people. The example that has stuck in my mind, all these years is the End Boss fight in Black Temple: at some point they found a minor bug that, if they fixed it, made Illidan Stormrage unfightable. So, because someone decided that BT was more important, the bug remained. I'm now imagining the World of Draenor in a *slightly* different fashion than I have previously:

Your Latest Expansion. Dare you to move.

It appears to me, from the various reports that I can find and read, that somewhere in all this chaos for some is one piece of this 'tower' that, if removed, has the potential to bring down the entire game world. However, I'm no fool: I grasp that the game isn't working the same way for everybody. There is also the very real understanding that the machine your game is played on has as much of a chance to contribute to the issues players experience than the Client itself. I've worked enough years with computers to grasp that bad coding is never the whole story. However, and this is crucial, a lack of communication recently has not helped this situation. There's also a clear lack of instructions as to what people need to be looking for or doing IN GAME: there's a lesson here that continues to be ignored. It doesn't matter how you package and present your Expansions, in the end it is really just the content that matters, and in-game tutorials only do so much. Blizzard has always struggled with this, and it appears (especially for those on the Horde side) there are some glaring holes that simply haven't been spotted until pointed out by players. That's part of the problem with a Beta which includes a 16 week campaign that was never properly tested beforehand.

It's also not the job of data-mining sites to fill the gap that's left by the Company in terms of how to do things in game that should be self-explanatory. No, it really isn't.

Sadly, I cannot offer any answers for the people I know who are struggling, except to go and do something else in game. The bigger issue for Blizzard, however, are the people who when faced with no idea of what to do when something isn't clear or not working, don't go to a data mining site for answers, and just leave in disappointment and irritation.

That would be a far more greater concern in the long term, at least for me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The thing I don't particularly like about Twitter use is when someone tweets a whole forum post at me in 10-20 individual tweets. It's bad form for the format, and really goes against the primary benefit of the limited length format. Twitter, like any form of communication, has benefits and drawbacks. Talking on a phone cuts out the all-important body language. Talking in-person is ad hoc, and largely without the ability to put enough thought/editing into conveying an idea, and is influenced by sometimes uncontrollable physical distractions or cues. Which can also be a good thing! 
Twitter is quick, it's short, and it's kind of like a one-on-one conversation in a large crowd of people. It works well at getting short and quick little bits of info back and forth between people, and others can listen in or interject (or amplify it) if they want, and also be able to curate the kinds of people they want around them. It's the cocktail party of communication formats. Whereas the forums are quite like a cork board where people can type up big long letters, and post them up, people can be typing up responses to other people's posted notes while other people type theirs, and there can be these really complex and chaotic conversations going lots of different ways, but with a lot of reading and filtering you can get a good sense for a sort of temperature range of the discussion and get lots of different ideas and thoughts out of lots and lots of text. It's a really interesting format for communication, but certainly has its benefits and drawbacks as a form of communication and interaction, like... literally everything else! ...until complete peer to peer communication nears light speed with organic computing and a "human internet" which is, of course, just a step away from our consciousness merging into a being of pure light anyway. Of course. 

Bashiok is at it again. Today's subject? The Social Media format everybody loves to hate (or so it appears at Blizzard HQ.) The timing of this little nugget is quite significant, as there's been a general feeling that, at least since Warcraft launched the @BlizzardDevs account late last year, that communication between players and Developers using this branch of Social Media has been deliberately staunched. Hell, if ever the ex-employees have noticed the change in outlook...

Yes, THAT'S telling, Greg ^^

It doesn't really matter who's decision it is to regulate the flow of information from the Irvine Campus, what is clear from Bashiok's tweet is that what Twitter does best (in his capacity) is announcements, not conversation. It is clearly not in Blizzard's best interest to use this platform to disseminate the kind of information that it was previously, but perhaps most importantly of all the concept of 'instant reaction' is often really not in anyone's long term interests, including the Developers themselves. I've seen tweets from employees I'm betting they wish they'd not sent (before they were sensibly deleted,) and it does appear that after several years of no 'rigid' policy on the use of Social Media, that position may finally have been established. This will come as a disappointment to many, myself included, but frankly it is not a surprise.

Nobody likes being up to their ass in alligators, right?

The fact remains, Mr Street is quite correct in his assertion that negative feedback can be more damaging to some people than others, but in the long term learning to deal and assimilate criticism is a decent Life Skill that everyone could do with grasping. However, after it is clear how damaging 'incidents' like Gamergate can be for the long-term well-being of individuals, which has extensively used Twitter as a 'weapon' in its attacks on developers. It makes sense that a company might consider imposing a direct policy decision like this. Of course, what is left behind is a gulf, a very obvious (and some have already commented damning) hole where the stream of data for many hardcore theorycrafters used to live.

One hopes (and this is a genuine assertion) that there will still be data available from these designers, perhaps in the form of more blog posts and interviews, in a controlled an orchestrated manner, and as a means for Blizzard to continue to engage with players. One also assumes that there may be an increase in use of areas like Reddit (which Blizzard has seen to favour) for what might be considered as instantaneous communication but maintaining an element of ultimate overall control. Needless to say, if someone like me can notice the obvious reduction in Dev traffic, other people will do too. It may not stop the torrent of abuse some designers will continue to receive via Twitter, but it does show that the company is seriously beginning to consider its activities on Social Media.

I wonder if those who attacked so many, and continue to do so in the community, realised what the true consequences of their actions might have resulted in over the long term, that instead of getting responses from the company whose game they idolise all they have finally managed to do is make everyone more defensive. In conclusion: if you continually attack someone in public, don't be surprised if they shut up shop and stop talking to you. After all, it isn't just a company's job to communicate with you. It is also your job to be a decent human being to them.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Feeling Good

He's a big lad, that Tormmok ^^

It has been some time since I have thought of Mogging, but last night I found myself looking at an item that dropped from a mob and having a lot of familiar feelings all flood back at once.

OMG this guy is a photobombing nightmare ALSO NIPPLE :O

The object of my desire is this weapon, Bal'ra's Compound Bow. A crop of this screenshot has been submitted to Wowhead (the first time I've ever felt the desire to do so) with the following caption: 'Possibly the most beautiful bow I've encountered as a drop for several Expansions.' It has been quite some time since I've found an item that so iconically sums up the world I looted it from, and the Orc mob it fell with. This IS an Iron Horde bow, and the woman who I prized it from, wandering around the Everbloom Wilds, has probably got an infinite supply from the best weaponry that the Hellscreams can provide. She won't miss the one, and I will wear this not simply as a symbol of Draenor. There's something about it that just sits right on my back. It may be long but in my mind I imagine this is incredibly light but extremely strong, with a tsuru constructed from the most unbreakable of threads. I wonder if anyone else, when presented with a new weapon in game, looks beyond the stats and the achievement for being granted ownership, thinks away from the pixels and imagines how it would feel in their hands, the tension as the string is drawn and an arrow placed.

Sometimes, I may be too immersed in this game for my own good ^^

Your Work Order is ready, Ma'am.

This is the first Expansion since Mogging has been introduced that I find myself compelled to use current drops in outfits, which I say is probably a testament to whoever is now doing the costume design at Blizzard HQ. This outfit is a mix of current and old: headpiece (which is more cowl than anything else,) chest, cloak (INTELLECT ITEM) and bow are all freely available in Draenor. Everything else is thrown together from what I can now use as my 'base' Mail wardrobe, but my space is incredibly limited. The avalance of items my Storage Yard is providing has meant that I'm now having to use a Bankalt to store BoE items I'd like to keep and use at a later date. I also ought to thank my RL mate Ferry, who's been sending me bows, guns and crossbows from his family of alts for several weeks, including many items I've never seen before in game. I probably have enough weaponry stockpiled to equip a small guerilla force.

I'm still not 100% sure this new Mog is 'done' yet, but when it is I'll provide everyone with details. For now, I find myself gaining a little more pleasure than previously when I bring down a beast for skinning. I know the job doesn't go faster, but in my mind this bow feels comfortable in my hands, familiar. Oddly, in the undefinable chaos of this time-travel expansion it takes a single weapon to finally connect me with the new World I find myself fighting in.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

If You Want Blood, You've Got It


Saturday, it appears, has become when Blizzard develop casual patch content. A week after the PTR popped up we have a brand new build, and a metric garrison building full of changes and amendments to my home from home in Draenor. Some of these come as a surprise (Savage Blood transmutes mean I may be forced to start levelling an Alchemist tomorrow) but many others are EXACTLY what the Professions people have been looking for since the system was rebooted. The tweet above, for instance, is an embarrassment of riches for those of us who are living in our Garrisons at present. You'll be able to retrain BOTH abilities AND traits, which may go some way towards appeasing those for whom the RNG on Followers has not been so kind. You'll also be able to rush through 5 Orders at a time (for those moments presumably when you don't want to wait another day to make your item.) Of particular interest to me also is the 'Sell Grays' button at the top of that window. I'd like to think that's NOT an addon at play on this user's UI (though I understand it may well be) because the ability to just sell crap like that is summat I'd ascribe to in the UI.

I'm not going to go into more detail on Professions until I can get Pher copied and into the PTR (which hopefully will happen later) but I want to mention this now because today, around about 5pm GMT, you're going to see a new episode of Extended Maintenance go up. When it does, this post will have a direct link for you to download what was possible one of THE MOST ENJOYABLE sessions of Warcraft discussion I have EVER had since I started the talking gig. Now, you guys know me quite well by now and yes, I can occasionally get a bit hyped by the news, but this discussion was something quite different. This is, I would say, Rho and I inadvertently evolving the concept of the Garrisons, and applying what we have not simply to the game that we have now, but what we've both played and experienced over the last ten years. I had a massively good time doing it, and I hope you guys enjoy the result.

You can now listen to Episode Two by CLICKING HERE :D

For now, if you want summat deep to read, go look at yesterday's Blog Post again. For the rest of you, you won't have long to wait until there's some quality aural entertainment to indulge in.