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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

BETA: Your Game

I posted a Tweet last night without context. I'd like to come back to it this morning:

This was made in response to a raft of comments (Twitter and US Beta Forums) regarding Blizzard's stance on 'mob tapping': you know, when someone hits a mob before you do and it goes grey, which means they get the kill and you don't. Here's the Official Response on the current state of play from Watcher, and it makes a lot of sense in an overall context. You ought to work for your loot, most of the *important* mobs are tag-free anyway and Blizzard has a lot of systems in play to allow mobs to spawn faster or 'more dynamically' (depending on how you define this) However, the problem for many people isn't the griefing or the possibility for exploitation, it is their own computers that let them down, and it has absolutely nothing to do with any notions of asocial or antisocial behaviour.

As an example, let's talk about the starting quest for your Garrison in Shadowmoon.


I've done the foundation quest a fair few times now on both sides of the Faction fence and on every occasion its been an inconvenience. The mobs I've killed drop little or nothing of value, but they are inherently persistent and the spawn rates are frankly stupid. There's either no mobs or I've killed the eight I need before I've cut down the regulation number of trees. In all honestly, if these mobs are being used as a 'gate' for me to establish my presence they're doing their job, but it might just be an idea to remove them altogether and just make do the logging quest, because those are items shared with everyone else anyway, and the time taken to do that quest is me moving on foot.

Ironically the reticence on Blizzard's part to not make all mobs taggable seems to be tied up with the fact that this encourages people to group for World content, except it doesn't, in probably 80% of cases people don't give a flying fish about anything but themselves. I'll tell you exactly what happens in all the other times:

  1. I get a group invite from someone I don't know, refusing to explain why.
  2. If I accept the invite no-one talks to each other until the person that made the group gets the prerequisite number of kills.
  3. If I'm lucky, they then thank me before they leave, with me no closer to the competed total.

Of course I could stand up for myself and insist that we finish the group for everyone, and I'm betting this is exactly what Blizzard hope the 'decent' people will do in situations like this, that self-policing will encourage the process of making the Gaming World a better place. Ironically, in the days of Vanilla this is exactly what used to happen on my Server. I made many of my friends in exactly this way, randomly questing in parts of the world, and meeting people along the way. We'd group and talk, and we'd forge friendships that still exist today.

Ten years on, a lot has changed in the gaming world, but people still resent the need to group with strangers to finish their content. Maybe it is because Blizzard keep giving them reasons to play alone in so many other places that they've gotten used to doing that as a preference.

Mixed messages.

It is very easy to solo everything these days, so much so that Blizzard actively encourage this in Legacy content. This playstyle doesn't need any help, and it can be done at any hour of the day or night, and it allows the game to maintain a measure of longevity that it would never otherwise possess. Ironically with your Garrison you are given a number of buffs which make playing solo possible against increasingly harder mobs to boot, but still Blizzard politely insist you have to wait for a mob spawn or ask for a group in the world. If you were in an instance everyone tags everything, and this seems to be the direction Blizzard wants to push players anyway. Why therefore do we need to keep this 'soft gating' as a standard? Mostly because Mobs Give XP and ironically, this is the oldest method of all to keep players from getting to the cap in less than a day from launch.

After all, the last Realm First on my server didn't quest their way to maximum XP, they killed the same mobs over and over again to reach 90. If everything was tag free, a VAST amount of content would become pretty much pointless overnight. As a result, I'd not expect Blizzard's stance to change any time soon.

Some things never change.

My problem is simple: there are too many mixed messages currently on how people should play and what ought to be encouraged to do in game. The biggest one is the most concerning: Blizzard have made clear that unless grouping players take the EXACT same set of quests (and place identical buildings) as each other when levelling Warlords Garrisons, specific content is likely not to be available to all players when grouped. The way this part of the game has been constructed appears to actively discourage the group mentality in favour of individual flexibility, and if this is the case then telling people they ought to group for mob kills is... well, ridiculous. I think it may be time to consider a consistent approach to gameplay that either pushes people to group from Level One or pushes the focus to individual choice and not forced utility.

More than that, it is high time that players were made to be more accountable for their actions and not less. That doesn't need to happen in optional group content, it needs to be stricter when grouping is mandatory. How we fix this problem however... that's a blog post for another morning.

Monday, July 28, 2014


All about the Visuals...

After the Reset Button on Friday, I got some time yesterday to plough through some levelling. It must be said that the Server generally is considerably more stable than it has been at any point in my development experience: the transition between Garrison and Shadowmoon is now virtually seamless. I have now noticed that certain followers do not 'appear' if you take quests in a particular sequence, and I'm beginning to understand the significance of the Bonus Objective in the business of levelling quickly. These 'Crossed Swords' areas on maps are where a player is asked to kill a certain number of mobs (and contain silver spawns and/or vignettes, as is the case with Torvath's blade) give very good XP, and are currently farmed to extinction on Beta. I shouldn't have to spawn camp in Draenor, but last night I was forced to, and that needs to be looked at.

There's something you don't see every day.

I've also discovered the L100 only area in Shadowmoon, which I suspect will be played out across all the Zones in one form or another. We've been promised a lot of End Game Content that isn't 'normal' from the Developers, including the concept of the 'weekly' quest:

Yes, there is a Plan.

We've not given much thought here as to what happens when we've hit the cap, but clearly Blizzard are already on the case. I also note the use of the words 'female' and 'Warlord' in the same sentence, and await further developments with interest. Our Blood Elf and Draenei compatriots above are clearly part of another 'story' and I'm tempted to go on a bit of an exploration spree to see what I can turn up for myself. Needless to say, I am becoming fully aware of just how much there is to do in Draenor, and how little time I have to explore as a result.

I'm also aware that Garrisons may require a bit of a rethink in terms of characters and motivation for levelling them. The Ore and Herb 'bags' that were dropping to allow me to complete work orders have been removed from the game (intentionally or otherwise) and without a working mine I have no means to progress the Alchemy Lab or learn new patterns. What this has made me consider is just how I'd expect to progress crafting without a solid raft of raw materials at my disposal from the word go, and that it might actually be an advantage to have a character with only two gathering professions maxxed as someone who is run through 90-100 as a matter of priority, so I don't have to wait for my Mine and Herb Garden to be at capacity to make the most of professions.

Needless to say, I'll be thinking about this at length this week and you can expect a Blog Post at some point, because with the number of professions I have to level, I think it might actually be worth some pre-planning before we hit Warlords proper.

Entertain me.

Finally, I could do with finding a way back to Ashran that doesn't involve me being forced to set my hearthstone there. No, I don't want a Mage Tower either. What I do need is some time to get everything that's going on a chance to sit in my brain and find a decent level of connection... ^^

Sunday, July 27, 2014

BETA: Look at Me

Compelling visuals.

Yesterday evening I had a really interesting couple of hours guesting as a voice on Group Quest. One of the subjects we discussed was the 'new' Warcraft logo that has been 'designed' as an accompaniment for the movie (a trailer of which was shown at the San Diego Comic Con yesterday which I'm hoping will eventually see the light of day.) Of course, for a traditionalist like me this logo has absolutely no connection to the Warcraft I know and love, and this is EXACTLY the point. I'm not the one being 'sold' to by this logo, it is all about snagging an audience that's never played the game and knows zero about the franchise. That is their lead-in, not mine, because I'm already a guaranteed bum on a seat.

Visuals matter, as we discussed on Friday. They have a significant effect on how people view and grasp your product. They are also possibly one of THE most intensive parts of the gaming construction process, and when you are running out of time on your project and have your eye on a specific release date, sometimes they'll mean some tough calls on what stays in your product and what goes. That's why you've got a picture of Ashran up there and not Karabor (or Bladespire), and this will be the underlying argument behind shifting the Alliance (and Horde) faction bases away from the homes they were initially promised during Blizzcon. You were told you'd have them, but as we discussed last night on Group Quest we've been promised a great deal that's never, ever come to fruition.

Approach by air.

This Expansion is about a sell: new features and a new way of playing the levelling game via the Garrison. In the latest Beta Build, as soon as your Garrison is established, you are sent on a Quest to Ashran where you will pick up a follower. There you are met with the architecture and buildings you yourself will be able to place and shape inside your own structure when you have completed your questing experience: The Mage Tower, the Inn, the Dwarven Bunker are all there in their completed magnificence. The new Faction bases at Ashran are a trailer for your Garrison, and the Alliance one works really very well, especially against the backdrop of Draenor. The visuals are compelling, and very well placed. This is what my races can build on Draenor, and so can you if you take the time to complete the set of tasks the Garrison presents you with.

New does matter.

There are a number of us who have pushed for changes to the architecture of the game as well as the characters that inhabit it, and this high definition version of the client is going to raise some questions about what Blizzard leaves behind. After all, it is not just the buildings that have changed in this new world: when you walk or ride in Draenor, plants and grass make a rustling sound and actually move as you pass through them. These are subtle changes but affect the whole continent, and will make going back to the Old World particularly jarring for some. Will these changes be applied retroactively to everything Human in the Alliance? Is the plan to produce a set of architecture for every Horde and Alliance race and then go back and apply it to the old World to slowly bring everything to the same standard? It is probably too early to tell, but certainly the potential is there.

I understand the disappointment of players over Bladespire and Karabor. The buildings are still there however and there is nothing to stop Blizzard from retroactively populating them during the Expansion, but the designers have, by their own admission, run out of time. All the art you see above was produced for the Garrisons and is freely available for immediate use, and has the added advantage of reminding players that if they like this style, it is theirs to command in their own structure to boot. Ashran serves a number of different purposes therefore as Faction hub, and I have to applaud Blizzard for a subtle and clever use of game resources that will help market this new hub as a genuine replacement for the originally promised location.

I still won't live there, but I certainly won't be adverse to a visit :D

Saturday, July 26, 2014

BETA :: Here You Come Again

Deliberately Spoiler Free.

The great big Reset button got pressed (finally) yesterday evening and we're in Build 18594, which means for those of us in Europe still unable to copy characters that I got myself yet another Hunter off the shelf and went to work on a) This bit of the new content above (from the Blasted Lands side) and then b) The other bit in Tanaan. As I tend to be less that complimentary about stuff I don't like, I've come to the conclusion that whoever's designed the precursors to Shadowmoon and Frostfire isn't really doing the 'new' game that Blizzard is championing any justice at all. In fact, this section of content is linear, predictable and fairly depressing. I had to spawn camp in the Blasted Lands because of volume of players (how long before Blizzard learn to stop specifying particular mobs for dispatch?) and how long before we can finally choose ALL of our options for questing and not simply the ones in specific zones?

Tanaan was depressing enough to become funny the second time around: having an omnipotent saviour as a guide is quite amusing when you're the one doing all the killing and he just turns up for the moments of theatre. In one bound, every time, we were free when I could have skipped the quest points and just let my saviour do the work, which is sad when these acts are clearly supposed to inspire and awe you, when all you do is wonder what he can't just port you to the end of the zone so you can go the content where you get the choice of what to do. That's the biggest problem when you've created brilliant variety beyond the bit you were forced to bolt on to 'train' the 90 premades: you can't make it anything more than on rails if you're going to tie players to a specific number of steps to 'claim' their abilities. I'll reiterate that a quest line where people actually have to use them in appropriate situations would have been better, but when you have so many classes to cover, this is probably the best anyone could expect. Trouble is, it just highlights the fact this looks as if it was bolted on as an afterthought, which it clearly was.

I REALLY hope they come good on the promise and allow you to skip the thing when you've done it once.


However, I now know where people were picking up Parrots. I'm going to need more stable slots, although the opportunity to tame a new style Shadow Wolf has been removed from the equation (at least for now.) No doubt this will be stuck behind some ridiculous questline or set of tasks that will need to prove my worth as a Hunter. I kind of liked the days when you could just pick up the pets you wanted without having to prove your worth. Yes, I just typed that, and I entirely understand why all this stuff gets done, but my biggest issue when playing is time and if I have to wait around for summat 325 other people are trying to tame? It's a waste of my online experience.

Find something else.

Oh, what a bitter and cynical player I have become... and clearly an old one. Whereas a couple of years ago I would have stayed up to complete Tanaan so I was ready to progress today, I got to 12.30 this morning and walked away. Mostly it was the sheer numbers of people in the Starting Zone, the fact that despite insane respawn rates elsewhere they didn't exist in Tanaan and I had to wait for the mobs I needed, and most importantly that doing this was a chore, and sleep became more attractive. However, I am very keen to get the Garrison going again so I will gird my Dwarven loins after domestic tasks are complete and start on the journey to L100 and a L3 structure. I'm actually looking forward to playing Shadowmoon again in the anticipation that many of the big issues have been corrected, though the fact that some items in Tanaan are still not textured was met with mild surprise last night.

They'll have it all done by Release, after all.

Friday, July 25, 2014

BETA: One Day

The following post does not contain a plot spoiler PER SE, but there IS a spoiler for a section of in-game content which is (I believe) deliberately included to provoke a particular reaction. If you are sensitive to such things, PLEASE STOP READING NOW.

Killed where he stood.

I've debated this post for a bit, and after consideration I am going to run with it, because... well, if it works for 'Game of Thrones'... Not making any sense? Gimme a bit, you'll see :P

World of Warcraft is, as the title suggests, not a game about bunny management (though of course some people would disagree.) It is based in a conflict between two factions and countless races which stretches well over ten thousand years. For me as a player, that conflict has never really registered as significant until recently, where events in Pandaria made me stop and consider the nature of my interaction with that portion of the 'Universe.' Of course, it seems a bit ridiculous, in a game where you are regularly and systematically destroying mobs on a daily basis to even consider the notion of conscience over casualty but since the Alliance rolled into the Jade Forest and unlocked the Sha (whether it was out fault or not I believe is still up for some debate) there's been a niggle of disquiet in my mind. The notions of 'heroes' and 'villains' are often not well painted in MMO's, but this time around I have to give due credit to whoever is planning the Alliance side of things.

When I come across tableaux like the Draenei above, I am genuinely scared of what the Iron Horde is capable of.

Many people have argued that because of the current nature of the Beta it is difficult to accurately judge the 'mood' of questing, and to a certain extent this is entirely correct. However, what is overridingly apparent from the little I have taken part is that the Iron Horde means business, are taking very few prisoners and, in most cases, are going to systematically eradicate the Draenai race in their push to World Domination. Oddly, this point was reinforced by, of all things, a Vignette, which resulted in me stopping playing for a good five minutes as I sat in amazement at what I'd just seen. I was shocked, stunned, and extremely impressed by the power a simple incident could bring to the gravitas of Talador's precarious situation.

The Remains of Deceptia.

This small space, quietly smouldering, was previously the spot where a bunch of Green Draenei NPC's seemed to be quite happily going about their business. In fact as I approached them they seemed unaware that the area they were in was being invaded... that was, until a shell whistled in and destroyed the entire place, leaving nothing except a Vanity Item: Deceptia's Smoldering Boots. A quick check on Wowhead confirms that this event has been recently introduced to the game and was previously a placeholder:

It is true, and utterly effective, and yes the Draenai in question whistles past your face so you can clearly see the look of terror on her face. Just goes to show, how a simple moment can have such a strong reaction to an unsuspecting viewer (hence the spoiler warning above.) The thing is, on reflection, this shock is actually quite relevant in the context of the murdered Draenei above. Blizzard are only showing us the brutal foe we are supposed to be engaging with using comedy with shock value, to reinforce the casual and brutal manner in which the Iron Horde is eradicating everything in its path. Of course, there's at least six people on Twitter at this point who'll already be telling me I'm reading too much into this anyway and it is just a game. I'll respond this is the most I've been moved to fight for my side since I arrived in Pandaria several years ago and was asked to bomb the Horde into obliteration.

I may well be over-analysing this, but for people to want to play the game at plot level, there needs to be a point.

If all you care about is your purple loot and your Mythic Set, all of this is probably moot to begin with, but for those of us in the fields for whom the 'story' of Warcraft is our meat and drink, the early signs of this conflict are grim indeed. I'm not going to give out any spoilers, but what is immediately apparent are the weapons of war have very much received a massive overhaul. In fact, so comprehensive is this upgrade of hardware and machinery that many of those items remain unfinished.

It'll look good when its done. It will also hurt.

The final sequence of quests in Shadowmoon are fairly uncompromising in terms of eradicating the Iron Horde with equal force to theirs, and that theme plays out across Talador with the zone peppered with impressive Orc encampments. Again, I have no desire to spoil anyone with what I've seen and what has played out but the number casualties should leave you in no doubt that Garrosh means business. It also means that the importance of your individual contribution via the Garrison Outposts will have a very significant impact on what transpires in EVERY zone, and what this militarisation is doing is gives the genuine impression that your actions ARE making a difference to what is happening in Draenor. I suspect making the war more personal is a deliberate means by which players will be drawn into the conflict, and certainly that's worked for me on the occasions I've come face to face with the heartless nature of my enemy.

I'm scared, and I want to make sure the Draenei are safe.

Needs more bigass Dwarf buildings.

Motivating people to quest without engagement is often hard work. I've found myself utterly engrossed in the process since the new zones, wanting to see how the story progresses and curious to see how the Alliance will survive being very much on the back foot. No massive armies here as yet, no unlimited supplies of troops and equipment, just you as Commander and the people you've managed to pull through the Portal with you. I'm halfway through 94 and am keen to keep on with the adventure, which is a massive step forward from my feelings in the last Expansion. Even though I may not like what I'm seeing, I understand why it is being presented to me.

This is war, and it is uncompromising, and it is my job to stop it before it extends to Azeroth.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BETA: The Trees


If you intend to level from 90-100 using your Garrison as a base of operations, you will be presented with a number of choices in your early levels of questing. For instance, in Gorgrond after you save an errant party of Draenei and Dwarves from the rather hostile Wildlife, you are asked which of these two structures you would like to add as the basis of your Outpost in the Zone. My interest has been primarily to focus on the usefulness of the Lumber Mill, which provides the following bonuses for your Garrison:

Compared with the Sparring Arena, this building seems a bit... well, repetitive. The Arena is full of things to help you stay alive in Warlords, and this is... well, wood. However, for anyone who intends to skip the Garrisons and come back to them and wants to make sure they can construct their buildings in a hurry, this Building will be the go-to first construction to get your supplies of Resources up and running fast, without the need for that much questing. Because, once the Building *is* up, you'll meet Justin Timberlord.

Your Horde NPC pun may vary.

Justin will ask you to pop outside your Garrison and find a tree to chop down. Don't worry, one is marked on the map for you and once you gather the Lumber and return it to him, you'll be given A NEW GATHERING SKILL (oooooooo)

Buttered Scones time soon ^^

The Logging skill is not a replacement for other gathering skills, and appears to be purely passive. Once you have it, Trees that can be chopped down will appear on your minimap, and when they are chopped they'll look like the screenie below.

Note the Minimap.
I am assuming they respawn as herb nodes do, and there are three types of trees to 'collect' Those that require Lumber Mill 20 will need a L2 Building in your Garrison, those requiring 30 will need the L3 structure.

Too big, dat tree.

This is all very exciting, but there are some caveats to be discussed. Most notably is the number of resources you can hold in your Garrison at any one time at present (1000) which if you are questing initially is very easy to hit. I would venture to suggest that if you intend to do 90-100 entirely via the medium of quests and the like, you'd be far better off taking the Sparring Arena as a first port of call because of the benefits it gives for solo/group questing. If all you are doing is completing quests the flow of Resources is pretty constant (and they are available from lots of other places to boot.) However, if you come in late, the Lumber Mill allows quick gathering of resources, assuming you remember that small trees are everywhere and not just in Shadowmoon Valley.

Needless to say, the addition of a new gathering skill, even passive, was something exciting enough for me to be gathering lumber in darkness without realising I'd not turn the lights on after the sun went down last night. That in itself  is an indicator of my interest in this feature. Blizzard are clearly doing something right.

To Build a Home :: Homeward Bound

New logo from @wabbage :D

Today, we will have some music, thank Wabby for the awesome new graphic, and then we will tell you all about the wonders of the Level 3 Garrison.

Last night I was able to complete my Lumber Mill and as I did, the option to upgrade to Level Three appeared. Needless to say, there was much squeeing and bouncing in my chair, and then many pictures were taken. Here for you are the results with some annotation for context, and because frankly I could go on about this feature for MONTHS and still not get bored of it.

Gates go bye-byes :(

So L3 means a lot of stone but oddly, no gate, which considering I know everyone on this continent is going to attempt to kill me at some point seems a bit lax in the security department. Remind me to put that in my feedback post for the Forums.

Looking good, Garrison!

Even though the Horde clearly got the better deal in the space and layout departments, Alliance gots TREES (which is good considering the rate I'm going to be cutting them down, but more on that later) and the benefit of some fabulous backdrops for screenies.) I need to double check monument positions but I feel that the central courtyard could do with some more positionable items: lawn chairs maybe, or even some kind of BBQ. What would be particularly awesome is if your Garrison reflected the current running Festival/World Event with an NPC or a small stand (a la Darkmoon Mage.) I'll add that to the list.

Bigger space, more walls.

Inside the Town Hall is still only one storey (but plenty of room for Expansion) and there are a large number of places that are screaming out 'Look, you'll be able to customise us later!' The wall hanging here are in the Main Hall too, and my money is on you being able to use the crests of the Reputations you are exalted with to decorate them with. There's also the slightly less awesome chance that they'll just show Warlords Exalted reputations, and I'm hoping if I get in early and suggest a bigger canvas, we might get some negotiation going.

As you walk into the Main Hall, emissaries from all of the Alliance factions are waiting (no interaction as yet) plus, as you can see, you can now hold parties here. I know there's been a bit of discussion this week about whether Garrisons are housing or not: my take is that if someone else is telling me where to put my tables and chairs and I can't move them, this isn't housing. This is very much a static 'base' with some customisable elements. I cannot rip this lot out and make it my own way, so...

Anyway, you should be particularly interested by the Gnome in the corner.

No, not that one.
THAT Gnome ^^

Sparz is your Blueprints Vendor, and on Beta now that meant when I'd established my Lumber Mill in Gorgrond she sold me the equivalent plans. No idea if that's how it will work on Live or not, but this should mean I can build a Bunker at some point today :D Needless to say I have small plots too to fill, so there will be MUCH POKING.

Okay ^^

This woman appeared overnight, and appears to be critiquing her own art. I wonder if this means we may have painting change options ^^ I also have some more internal shots for you: note the wall hangings, all waiting to be filled with YOUR STUFFS.

This last one is interesting.

Those shields on the walls have 'Trophies' written all over them. I really hope it won't be animal heads ^^ Anyway, that's the biggest change covered, out we go...

To the left of the Town Hall, as we look at it here, is the space where, in L2, your Pet Battle Arena has now sprung into life. In possibly the most smile-creating moment of last night it appears that Liopleurodon, the undisputed Pet Battle Mastermind, has been further recognised with a Worgen NPC named after her (note: she has a dialogue box, CLICK IT.) There is also a Pet Battle Post, which when clicked will bring forward a battle between you and the three mobs you can see in the ring. WARNING: this is PROPER HARD. Do not attempt until Lio's done a Guide on it :P

Lio on the Left /waves 
Click at your Peril ^^

Your Garrison Walls have now extended sufficiently to cover the Herb Garden, which is now better populated and has a quest for me (presumably) when I hit 96. That means that I will be able to grow my own things. Sadly, I am yet to access the Fishing Shack or indeed the Mine, which has been persistently bugged for me since I arrived. However, I do realise that if I *learnt* fishing, at least one of those situations might change. Remind me when I'm done here.

These two buildings are outside the walls, but don't panic coz we got an AWESOME tower to defend them with:

Already Familiar :D

Inside there are empty lots waiting to be filled, and many details to be taken in at your leisure. Needless to say, this is not the last you've heard from me with the L3 Garrison by quite some way. I'll stick all these together into an Album at some point, and we'll be adding more details as the feature continues to grow in Beta.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BETA : Our House

I made it to Talador today after I hit 94 on the Beta, and was faced with a choice when I arrived at the hastily-constructed Alliance Outpost: either the plans for the Mage Tower for my Garrison or the Armoury. The portal options the Tower gives are great, but it is the Armoury I have the most interest in, because of the possibilities it offers in Transmog:


It was therefore an easy choice to make and once I did. OH BOY. Am I ever in love if this is what we'll get in our Garrison:


Inside is even more awesome, if that were possible:

I'm not sure as yet what else we can expect here, but I was immediately encouraged to see that this Building has an inbuilt Missions table. If this is standard for all 'completed' Outpost buildings, it will make the business of keeping up to date in the early levels far more convenient:

The Lumber Mill in Gorgrond is pretty much still a shell for me but that's only because I've not yet completed the 'pre-quests' I am assuming will open it for use. My priority therefore is to get that working and see if this will allow me legitimate L3 access, which I know is now possible looking at other testers. To that end I'll be completing Gorgrond before I come back here, but these pictures deserved to be shared sooner rather than later because OMG I WOULD HAVE TOTALLY TAKEN THE RAID TIER FOR A DWARVEN BASED GARRISON.

Are you listening, Garrison Devs? :P

BETA: Let's Go All the Way

As a rule I don't feel the need to comment on Class Changes in Beta, because there are far more qualified people doing just that. However, this morning I stopped and stared at the latest Class Changes for Hunters. When I'd stopped laughing, I decided it was time for some searing and informed dissection of this latest change:

So, to be clear: I will, in Raids and Groups come Warlords take on one of the Warrior's traditional roles. I will become a Stance Dancer.


This will obviously not make me into a cheeky, scampering woodland creature.


The immediate aftermath of this change will automatically result in conversations of the following ilk amongst players:


Then the Hunter bemoaning this change will stop, think and wonder exactly WHY we did get this new spell?

No, I don't know either ^^

In all seriousness, Healers have stuff like Spiritwalker's Grace (Shaman still have that in Warlords, right?) Locks and Mages have a talent to be able to cast and move too (you still get that in Beta?) I know other people complain about the need to 'static' cast but surely people can learn to co-ordinate cast times and not being stationary? What is the actual motivation for giving a Hunter an opportunity, every three minutes, to cast a spell that allows everyone else six seconds not to worry about something I've spent ten years learning to master properly and have still not fully grasped? I realise that we have absolutely no useful Aspects any more except the ability to make everyone think they're at the end of the Benny Hill Show, and I now know how it must feel to be a Warlock or Mage, except of course they can't roll on all of the loot ^^

Celebrate you don't live in the 1970's ^^

I am aware this is Beta, and things are quote Subject to change unquote but how about we clarify a few points here:

  1. Raid Utility is not about covering other people's ample behinds. It is about providing something that is missing from the makeup in a raid's key composition, ensuring more chances of success. Giving an ability every three minutes for a Hunter to save the raid will require some pretty impressive co-ordination, unless you are psychically-linked to the player in question. (I'm assuming that Top 200 Raid Teams are all hive minds as standard anyway [*]) Cue screams of 'FOX!!!!!!!' on Vent/Mumble/Teamspeak as all notions of politeness are dispensed with.

  2. Why don't you give all the other classes MORE opportunities to move while doing their jobs like Hunters have? Oh yeah, that would mean PvP became impossible to balance, and WE WOULDN'T WANT THAT (actually you know what I'm okay with PvP currently so let's just leave that point and move on.)

  3. Having been out in the Beta World and having died on numerous occasions not simply to lag  to a HUGE number of new Vignettes and Silver Spawns who employ spells that make it nigh-on IMPOSSIBLE to stay still and cast anything without you taking damage, maybe the problem here isn't allowing players the ability to move more in PvE. Perhaps the bigger issue here should be how you plan boss fights so they move LESS. [**]

It normally takes a couple of days after a change is instigated for the reasoning to become apparent behind it, and it's been some time since I've made a mental note to ensure I look out for the back-story on this one. Personally I miss the days of ACTUAL utility with abilities like Serpent Sting, when I could be doing some GENUINE USE on a Boss and give healers a reason to heal me as a priority, even though they didn't need to because I could drop OOC and bandage. Yes, I know: I'm a pernicity old cynic who's seen everything and finds myself wondering of ALL the things Blizzard could choose to throw into the ring at this point to make Hunters feel more useful...

Really, this is the BEST you could do?

[FX: Goes back to rocking chair on porch, grumbling.]