Google+ ALT : ernative

Friday, October 31, 2014

Are You Ready For This?


One Zul'Gurub Run.

It's just about twelve days before Warlords launches, and when even Mr Alt starts farming for gold, you KNOW things just got real. We're at the stage now where being big and clever's pretty much out of the window: there's one last weekend for those not at Blizzcon to make hay while the sun shines. Maybe you'll be able to grab a Heirloom, or possibly get enough frogs in a group to update that last item of gear. There's still the Pre-Expansion Event for a few items, and then UBRS if you're missing key pieces... oh, and don't forget this is your last day to poke the Horsemen if you could use a ring update.

What you REALLY need to be doing right now is getting organised.

Cash will be King in Warlords, and if you are worried about how much you have, there is still plenty of time to build up some coins in your coffers. As you can see above, Zul'Gurub Heroic is quite lucrative as a Skinner, and I've been making about 1000g a day clearing it and doing things with the various items that drop. Of that cash, about 500g comes from the leather and scale I get from killing the skinnable mobs. The rest comes from DE-ing the greens and combining them with the cloth to make Embersilk Bags on my Tailor. You could just as easily DE the greens and sell the dust, and on a day to day basis that could well net more gold, but I'm not being clever any more, I am just making things I know sell FAST.


Obligatory Warlords GIF.

Depending who you believe, you'll need approximately 14000g if you want to buy your way to a fully functioning Garrison at L100. What is not yet totally clear is how easy it will be for you to make money just by killing shizzle in Draenor, but as there is no Valor or Justice and everything costs either gold or a currency you need to grind for, you can start making choices now as to how you ensure you have enough money ready. In many cases just going into Legacy Content and selling everything that you pick up to a vendor is easy, quick and requires little or no thought. It is also fairly likely that because it is IS so easy to make money currently just by vendoring items, the cash value of many things may well be altered downwards in the future. This is therefore a good opportunity to go smash up 25 Man Naxx on as many alts as you have, for instance, or go do the Trial of the Crusader on 25 Man if you have a Skinner. Having a tailor who can convert the massive amount of cloth you'll garner from the former to containers will be a distinct advantage to boot.


Still Useless.

Of course, if you can combine your massive grinding exercises with the added advantage of not getting mounts to drop, so much the better. Many of the Legacy Instances also drop pets and patterns with a decent gold value, so it is wise to keep your eyes open for items of awesome. Needless to say, if you can avoid spending large sums of money on anything for the next two weeks or so, you'll make life really easy for yourself come the Expansion, so it could well be time to start moving the Gold to a bankalt if you can't trust yourself not to spend anything before the 13th.

BRB Farming Legacy Instances :D

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Don't Stop Believing


SEE YOU!

Yesterday was undoubtedly a #FirstWorldProblem Day. My house still smells of burning wire thanks to the New Machine proving it was the PSU at fault for my issues, and I lost pretty much an entire day to nefarious and unwarranted faffing.

I have therefore two days to gather 300 Tricky Treats, and I'm NOT mucking about.

As a result, we again find ourselves in a situation where I actually don't want to write, I want to collect things. Once I've secured the last Pet and the Toy I require to officially tick off the list of 'Things I REALLY want to Do in Game' I will be right with you.

Until then? AFK Flying between Inns.

PS: If you want actual content, GO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST :D

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alternative Chat, Episode 37 :: If Garrosh Had Listened to Thrall :: The Consequences

It made more sense in my head :D

There's some bad voice acting and some annoyance at many things this week. My computer still isn't working at 100%, but this week at least THERE IS PODCAST:




In this weeks Alternative Chat:

  • Apologies to anyone Scottish listening. It's my Dwarf's voice in my head.
  • How the Siege could have been so much more.
  • Bringing confrontation to other people's front yards.
  • I *heart* Ratshag
  • What the Multiverse could really mean.
  • Diversity is in Blizzard's hands.
  • I am here to help you :D




Contacting the Show:


E-mail:


alternativegodmother (at) gmail (dot) com

(I meant it in the Podcast. If you have questions or queries about your Garrison, send them to me and I'll do my best to answer them.)


Social Media Gubbins:

@AlternativeChat on Twitter

http://www.facebook.com/alternativeblog on Facebook



Other Notes:

Some notes may yet go here if I think of any.


==

Cross everything and we'll be back in seven days :D

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

One World, One Song


It's coming... ^^

It may have escaped the notice of a few of you, but last week the Oceanic Realms finally got their own servers. This was accompanied by an unprecedented live event in Australia which, at least from where I was sitting, looked and played out a fair deal like a Blizzcon Opening Ceremony. This got me thinking: why now? It's been a decade, after all, since the game launched and the accessibility issues have been consistent since the game was launched. It's a great move in the game's 10th year, but is that all it is?

Similarly, if you're in the EU you'll be able to not only see but read Russian names for a while now thanks to a change in 5.4 that allows non-Russian clients to see names in Cyrillic (assuming of course your in-game font supports this) There's been quite a lot of work in the background over the last six months or so to merge smaller population servers together, but this won't ultimately solve the problem of a shrinking customer base, It doesn't matter how many people resubscribed in the last couple of weeks, the trend for game subs is ultimately downwards, and that means Blizzard needs to find more ways of consolidating the player base into one place.

Can you see where I'm going with this yet?


Still needs to be a Thing.

The Opening Ceremony at Blizzcon is going to be missing the impact of a significant Warcraft announcement. There may be space left for summat else, maybe a new Blizzard title, as there's a lot of space not yet filled in the two days that could or could not be deliberate. However, there'll need to be summat Warcrafty here, I'd fancy, So, here's a thought:

What if Blizzard announced
Global Warcraft Play at Blizzcon?

All the signs appear to show Blizzard attempting to break down the barriers that prevent people playing together. AU players will have the choice of being on their own servers but at the same time still playing with the US. What if this was logically extended for the EU with the US as well? What if Blizzard were also planning to allow global access to all their forums, hence removing pretty much all obstacles to a Worldwide Server network? After all, the entire Beta experience has already been Worldwide, without restrictions.

Is it really unreasonable to suggest this might be the next logical step?

The only fly in the ointment of this currently is what we've seen happen to Heroes of the Storm in its Alpha iteration: that began as being a worldwide test but has now been deliberately split into regions, a fact that I know many players met with disappointment. Certainly for customer service and dispute purposes, it is vital to have regional hubs, and Blizzard have shown with their reach into Australia that they're clearly looking at a bigger picture. However, allowing Global Play whilst simultaneously investing in regional hubs would suggest an eye on future projects as well as the existing games 'in play.'

The only way we'll know for sure? Roll on next Friday :D

S Club Party


Look what happens when you get decent graphics :O


It is with great pleasure that I can announce that after extensive contractual negotiation that the Inaugural Alternative Chat Garrison Hearthstone-Warming Event will be taking place on:

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

The Alternative Chat Garrison is already planning to be one of the THE must-visit Independent Venues on Draenor after the Continent fully opens to Azeroth on November 13th. This Party is a commitment to our long-term relationship with Garrisons in the past, and we hope to have similar venues established both in the present and the future as and when existing time travel facilities allow us to do so.

At this stage we are keeping details of the Event a closely guarded secret. However, what we can do is open our Guest List and invite the Citizens of Azeroth to raise your eyes to the sky and observe reserve a place to ensure that they kept up to date on developments and are informed as soon as new details are released. 

To ensure you are considered for the Early Access Guest List for this event, we ask you to send a parchment to the following email address:


and we will ensure that when further details are available, you will be the FIRST to hear them.


==


There's a VERY important PS to this invitation, which will have a lot to do with the Blog Post you'll shortly see above. Therefore WHEREVER YOU ARE IN THE WORLD, please feel free to sign up for News because, well, YOU NEVER KNOW...

Monday, October 27, 2014

Take a Chance on Me


Just an Ordinary Staff... ^^


Yesterday we spoke about the ease of which it was possible to swan in and get Heirlooms if you're lucky enough to be a high enough level to not actually need them. Today we'll talk about why my 535 Mage chose to 'buy' a run to snag an Heirloom staff.

Of course, I could simply have waited it out in a Queue, but I had a rather revealing chat with a Guildie last night, who told me he's seen a very distinctive vibe in the Premade Groups he's been a part of. After each Boss, if people under-perform they will be simply removed and replaced. However, if an underperforming person is the Raid Leader they will of course stay, and continue to be carried. He referred to it as a climate of elitism, but that's not strictly true. It is a climate of lazy wankers taking advantage of other people's desire for the Heirlooms. I'm not sure how Blizzard fixes this, if they bother at all this late in the day. I'm not sure it's even possible to place changes to prevent such behaviour once we hit new content. However, I digress.

Opportunism knocks.


Yesterday afternoon, members of the #1 Alliance Raiding Guild on Shadowsong EU spent their time selling Garrosh Boosts for 8000g a head. Unsurprisingly this generated a fair amount of resistance and discussion in Trade: however the zeal at which Heirlooms are being farmed across Europe and the US lead to me doing a bit of digging and coming to some surprising conclusions. If you're packing anything below a 559 weapon right now, an Heirloom represents a fairly decent investment for leveling without the need replace it *at all* until you hit Nagrand in your late 90's. There's a chance (and it is just that) to have a green quest reward scale to an Epic and outdo it, but otherwise you can easily use exactly the same weapon to do 90-100 and not have to worry about replacing it at all, as this item scales as you level. However, most importantly for someone like me, if you want to level multiple alts and not spend a fortune doing so, a small investment at this stage in the game will make EVERYONE a wee bit more robust. I have SIX casters who could all use and benefit from this weapon, which translates to approximately 1333g each to kit them out as I won't be playing everyone simultaneously. When you look at it that way, at least to me, that one payment was a no-brainer.


How long it takes to craft that weapon? SAVAGE BLOOD.

The biggest single problem I found yesterday, without exception, was that the iLevel requirement for the majority of groups that were in the Premade Finder at Garrosh (560) completely negates the object of the exercise: if you're packing 560, you don't need the weapon to begin with. This is purely and simply *again* the opportunistic few attempting to use the system to their own advantage, When paying someone else to be honest and do the work on YOUR account is actually preferable to using the system that Blizzard has set up to make this happen, there's definitely room for change in the system. There's also some salutatory comments to be made on profiteering too, but Blizzard have decided that this Expansion is going to be about gold as the universal currency. I wonder if they'd predicted this would be the the immediate result of allowing the Community to organise themselves.

I do hope people in the know are taking copious amounts of notes.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Whoomp There It Is


Hmmm. How did this happen?

Last night my good, dear friend Julia popped up on Twitter and asked me if I'd like to go and kill Garrosh. As this action now automatically rewards you with a shiny 569 Heirloom, I saw no reason to at least pop into the new Premade Groups section of the Group Finder menu and have a look about. 15 minutes later, my entire Hunter family possessed a Warbow. That's the great thing about this, from an 'I play many variants of the same class' perspective: I suddenly have an item that I'll end up eking maximum value for money out of. Pherian's already wielding a 569 Epic and so the 'upgrade' for her is minimal for levelling (especially as you can replace the Heirloom easily at 100) but for Kumiho who's going to level with her... well, this is Birthday and Christmas all rolled into one :D However I can't help but feel slightly amazed at how easy it was to procure. As I said to Julia, it was like waking up in North London after a particularly drunken and intense night out in London, rolling over in bed and staring at an incredibly attractive man asleep next to me with a smile on his face: I have no idea how I got here, but boy was the reward worth it, even if I'm not entirely sure how it happened.


Your transportation preferences may vary.


Of course, if it really were that easy then everyone would be walking around with an heirloom, and it quite patently isn't. I came to the party with two important recommendations under my belt: an Ahead of the Curve achievement and a 568 iLevel, which kind of negates the need to actually win the Bow to begin with. Most importantly of all, I queued with a Healer, so there is the real possibility I could have ignored both of those previous entrance requirements to a certain extent. As my son quite rightly observed, this is a viscous circle: getting a run at lower iLevel is dependent on the Curve Achievement unless you posses the iLevel, and without the iLevel you probably won't have the Achievement to begin with. However, as Mr Alt is also the owner of an heirloom Tanking Weapon with no Curve and simply the iLevel, so that suggests that if you're a Tank or a Healer and have the numbers, you could be in with a shout. I'm also well aware of people running this for Guildies and friends to allow people to get in without either entrance requirement, and without the need for the Queue to begin with.

I suspect, as is the case with most things of this ilk, your mileage may vary.

Press to Start.

Of course, there will be people reading this who will, quite rightly, argue this isn't easy if you're playing without a Guild or far more casual than I am, and I will respond with the following: if you want an heirloom enough, you will find a way to get one. This will require you to do some work, which is not easy, but may require more time than is now left in the Expansion to achieve. However, for many people in my Guild reading this, it does mean you have the chance to equip yourselves even if, as a Guild, we've never seen the inside of that chamber on Flex. Hopefully this will be the only Expansion we experience where this doesn't happen.

The opportunity is out here, folks. You have seventeen days to make the most of it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Did It Again


Better than Popcorn

As long as there are Warcraft players, there will always be drama.

It's as constant as fire killing you if you stand in it, or the loot always dropping that your Main needs when you're on your Alt. It is unavoidable, however hard you try, even if you choose to spend your entire time playing alone because at some point, like it or not, you have to deal with other people. And as soon as you place desire in amongst those random individuals, there is pretty much no way things will ever end well. That's why people look for Guilds to belong in that allow them to play with a group of like-minded individuals and so that any possibility of Drama can be managed by someone else, with GMs and their officers being the self-regulating decision making bodies. It introduces the system of control and management that is often lacking in the chaos of LFR: 6.0.2 has recently removed a lot of the attractiveness of the Guild wrapper, making it even more about the people who make up these places that matter.

Blizzard understand only too well the need to eliminate drama from the game as much as possible. Taking away the public loot roll and handing the information over to the individual was probably one of the best things that ever happened to group play. Because loot remains as one of the most contentious areas in the entire game, and as it is the gravitational centre of pretty much every character's progress within it, there will always be the potential for it to divide and conquer. I can recall various moments as a GM where a single item became a tipping point for conflict that rolled on well after the person pressed the button, and in most cases was the catalyst for that individual eventually leaving the Guild. Ironically, in many cases it wasn't about people being thoughtless or mean. It simply boiled down to a binary outlook: someone decides they deserve something more than someone else, for whatever reason. The conflict then devolved from that moment of diversion.

Who deserves anything more than anyone else is pretty much always up for debate.


DUH nothing better than my Popcorn GIF ^^

The biggest single issue I encountered as a GM was comprehension: whether people listened, what they heard when they did, and how they then interpreted the information that was presented to them. The items, in the end, were largely irrelevant: the catalysts for conflict were pixels, but they were often largely superfluous when put beside the real issues. You'd work out those people who felt they deserved something more than someone else based on how long they'd been in the Guild, how well they knew me, what they'd done to contribute to X week's worth of boss kills. Everyone's perception was different, and what this would undoubtedly highlight was that actually, in the end, being part of a team would only matter to some people if they got what they thought they deserved. They weren't turning up to make those team events happen for everyone, they were simply there for themselves. The true team players never complained, they didn't feel the need to argue about what they'd won, and they were better people for it. Undoubtedly those are the people we'd lose over time because they'd get fed up at all the bickering and the posturing and simply walk away.

I remember the names of every good player the Guild lost across the years and I miss them all.


I make this look GOOD.

There's a lot of Popcorn Drama around right now, many people fighting over how pixels make people into raging xenophobic monsters. There are people who choose to walk away, and people who feel they've changed their outlooks and attitudes because they don't feel safe. It appears in certain parts of the Internet that anyone who's not a heterosexual man being considered as an equal is xenophobic. [*] Society certainly throws massive amounts of conditioning at us from the moment we're born to start wearing down those blue and pink grooves for us to run down for the rest of our lives. But for many, it is an argument that doesn't matter and that isn't wanted, which is all well and good right up until the point it ends up in your lap and you need to make a choice. Where there are people, there will be conflict, and if you deliberately choose to remove that from your life, you can avoid the problem. But it never goes away, not ever, you just choose to willfully ignore its existence.

Because this is happening on the Internet , it is only pixels and you can easily walk away, and it doesn't matter in the end. Except it actually does.


10 Points if you know who this is :D

If you don't know by now, I say what I think. Whether it's Warcraft, or Civilisation, or anything else related to Gaming, this is what I do, and I fully intend to continue discussing stuff for the foreseeable future. However mean and thoughtless or overtly sexist people may end up being about it, this is my life and my choice, and I intend to stay here and keep doing this until I decide it is time to stop and not a moment before. I will not be bullied and I will certainly not be treated as an idiot. Most importantly of all, if you decide this is all to much for you and can't understand the bigger issues and you choose to stop listening, you let the xenophobes win. You allow the people who want to remove free thought and independence and creativity exactly the fuel they so greatly desire to keep this fire of Utter Asshattery burning unchecked. I cannot reasonably respect anyone who thinks that the best way to deal with an issue that is potentially capable of fundamentally changing society in the next decade is to pretend it isn't happening, or it is somebody else's job to deal with. It doesn't matter who you are, this will effect everyone, but as you're not listening anyway, time to move on.

I'll be over here, enjoying my gaming without you.

[*] Yes, this is a massive oversimplification.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Year 3000


OMG AWESOME :O

I'd like to extend my apologies to anyone reading my Twitter feed from about 7am this morning when, like the proverbial kid at Christmas, I rushed downstairs and opened up my copy of Sid Meier's Civilisation: Beyond Earth. Many of you who think I'm just a Warcraft player will probably not grasp the depth of my gaming love beyond the world of Azeroth, but Civilization has been one of those experiences I've played since it's first iteration. I try not to get too involved with it these days because, as the last six hours have adequately demonstrated, once I start a game I find it *pretty* hard to stop. In fact, if truth be told, this is the closest I get to being addicted to anything these days and frankly, I wasn't disappointed. So, the second set of apologies for the day now go to those of you who came here looking for 6.0.2 stuff. I'll be back to that in the morning. For now:


Sadly predictable? I THINK SO.

The game, in a nutshell is simple: we flee the Planet we screwed up and Play Civ on a whole new one. This is pretty much the concept of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri which was released in 1999, and for those of you familiar with the central concept of the Civ games, none of this will present any great challenge to you. The tutorials are as clear and useful as always, and there appears to be a sizable set of alternative options for the passive and aggressive playstyle. There's new things to consider too: key traits (Harmony/Purity/Supremacy) will dictate which way you go and how you can eventually move your new Civilization to victory. Also the entire thing looks bloody fantastic to boot, with the music being possibly some of the best I've heard personally for quite some time. In fact, if I'm honest, that's what hooked me in fastest of all.


WELCOME TO ALTERNATIVETOWN

I can already see a VAST VISTA OF POSSIBILITIES opening up in front of me, but if an average victory is six hours, this won't be a game I can easily manage in a whole sitting, so some self control is going to have to be exercised. For my first win I decided, as you'll see from the botton left hand corner of the screen to go for a Transcendence victory once I worked out I could filter the Tech I'd need to research that to achieve it. Oh and yes, this was on easy mode with only a single opposition, so I hardly pushed myself. If there is Multi-player (and yes, I will be considering this) I will clearly have to step my game up :P Needless to say, once I worked out I needed to be L13 in Harmony it was all downhill from then on.


Oh Flower of Transcendence, when will we seeeeee...

There is a new feature in this game that I have to say I really enjoyed, but I can see traditional players getting frustrated at. Every time you complete a new Building, you'll be presented with a Quest, and a choice between how this building can be used in your environment. Personally I really enjoyed this as it allowed me to feel I was directly shaping the ethical progress of my Civilization apart from simply placing buildings and advancing tech. Needless to say, I look forward to seeing how these choices initially dictate the path you can tread as the game commences. There also seems to be a lot more choice in terms of what Military units can do, which I suspect will keep those people happy who appreciate such things. I'll admit I hardly ever pull the aggressive card in this game, but maybe be if I play more co-op/network games, that might change.

Needless to say, Normal Service will resume with Warcraft gubbins here tomorrow. However if you don't see me in game as often as usual next week, YOU KNOW WHY :D

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Run for your Life


Once upon a time there was a Warlock in my Guild called Cathiera.

She was brilliant and funny and as it transpires a damn fine exponent of the Dark Arts, but the thing that I remember most about her was the fact she loved to walk. A LOT. She'd play a couple of hours online with us and then announce 'I'm off out for a bit' and away she would go. As I believe she lived somewhere in Scandinavia (the memory fails me as to exactly where) I would always imagine somewhere wonderfully stark and beautiful as a backdrop, but it could just as easily have been a city she was in. I was reminded of her yesterday, as I took all my frustration about non functioning software and pointless operating systems and wasted mornings and walked myself. I remember one particular conversation between Cath and me, before she vanished into the Ether of Lost Warcraft Relationships that Altered my Existence where she informed me that one of the reasons she'd walk was just for that: to help process all the bad stuff in a raid, or to think about how to solve issues we couldn't surmount as a team.

It occurred to me how many problems could be solved in gaming if people simply stepped away from the keyboard from time to time and did just this.


Trees outside, yesterday.

As today begins the start of my 48th year on this Planet, I may have been doing more than my fair share of navel contemplation. It occurs to me that this is the fittest I think I've been for many, many years, and that the motivation of my Fitbit and an interested Twitter feed has been instrumental in getting me more active, inspiring me to eat healthier and simply not to sit for hours on end at a keyboard. It can be very easy to think that if you play games you don't need to be active, but I am more than aware of the health benefits keeping fit brings, especially as I am a long-term asthma sufferer. I've also struggled with keeping a healthy weight since the kids were born, and as the youngest is pretty much a mirror for my time in Warcraft... I know that health issues are one of those touchy subjects for certain people but frankly, we could ALL do with looking after ourselves a bit better, and with an Expansion coming up there is going to be a temptation to spend even longer than usual glued to a screen.


ALL OF THE SMILES :D


I always wonder why healthy foods don't try and do something to appeal more to gamers. You see hugely sugary snacks and chip/dips associated with gaming, or Pizza, but really shouldn't the vegetable farmers be teaming up with major developers? Bottled water maybe? Yeah, I know, because gaming is a relaxation and nobody wants to think healthy when they want to relax. Except, and here's an amazing thing, you can do both. Balance is possible. You CAN balance the good and not so good, and reprogramming your brain to do so is not as stressful as many might tell you. Being healthy is very much a choice, and like all things you have to decide what matters to you more than anything else. However, I'll tell you now how much better I feel, how much more positive it has made me and how the walking actually helps me to deal with depression and anger. With the Expansion coming up, this is a perfect opportunity to start thinking healthier for the weeks that follow.

As we move from one virtual continent to another, this would be a perfect time to think about a change. You be amazed at what you are capable of if you do :D