Wednesday, May 06, 2015

NBI :: Milkshake

Seemed appropriate.

Just because Warcraft is a game you've played for a decade, it doesn't mean you're entitled to anything at all. You may have spent a ton of hard-earned cash on Tokens since Blizzard introduced the feature, but this doesn't give you the right to dictate the game's direction. When the client is down for Maintenance, you don't get to complain that this is the only time you can play and so the inconvenience is unacceptable. Basically, you are a single person and your personal comfort and diversion are not anyone else's problem except your own. Expecting an MMO to be at your beck and call is ridiculous and so self-centred it beggars belief. Except, more and more, people believe this is their right. It is their place to attack and complain about anything and everything because clearly, obviously, the World revolves around them.

Except, quite obviously, this is not the case.

Settle down kids, this is gonna take a while.

Having an opinion about anything these days is also dangerous. Woe betide you step into Social Media believing X is true when quite rightly Y is the real reason something happened. Don't start telling people the designers can't do that because there's at least three examples of historical precedent that counteract that argument. Deity forbid that you might have come up with a brilliantly simple way of solving the current problems with PvP/Garrisons/Questing/Pet Battling because if the right person doesn't like it, you're dogmeat, tender vittles for the rest of the gallery to feast on whilst laughing at your inadequacy. In the end, what you think doesn't matter, nobody will read your Blog and nobody cares anyway. You're nothing. No actually, you're LESS than nothing.

And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is absolutely why this is the EXACT RIGHT MOMENT to start Blogging.

This is the World we inhabit: extremes, opinionated stupidity, flashpoints that expose hypocrisy and arrogance. What the Warcraft Community craves more now than it has ever done than at any point in it's lifespan is sanity, reason and consideration. You don't need to kneejerk, or post there and then. It doesn't have to happen every day, or at the moment something explodes in a fireball of incandescent indignation. Blogging allows thought and dissection, calm and reflection. You don't need to translate your every thought or feeling, quite the opposite. What the World needs now is more people with the capability to step back from what is the chaos of immediacy and to make sense of what is happening, and from that offer practical and reasonable solutions to problems that do most definitely need solving.

In Azeroth, we desperately need good people Blogging who still actually care about the heart and soul of this game.

Because I do love it all so much, I stay.

Those who think that to care about something means you can never be critical of it fail to grasp a crucial part of the writing process: from conflict comes resolution, and thereby enlightenment. All of the best stories involve an element of this, a way to go from the lows to the highs, but with a distinct grasp of the understanding that without one there cannot ever be the other. As a writer you will learn that even blogging can benefit from the occasional insertion of the prosaic and the dramatic to make for a diversion, a way to beguile your readership into your 'world' where the problems can be explained and resolutions offered. In the end, however, it is the facts that matter, and to be able to present them with a genuine air of professionalism is far and away the best skill you'll ever learn, at least in my mind, when you're talking about Gaming.

Remember both sides matter when you're telling your story, especially the one you don't believe is the right one.

6.2 PTR :: Can You See Me?

I can already hear the Entitled whining... ^^

The latest iteration of the 6.2 Patch notes arrives with the inclusion of more things to make the Garrison attractive to people like me: i.e., MOUNTS. The fact that there's a Gronnling in the list (and it's only available via a Garrison Mission) will I am sure be taken the wrong way by people who just so love to do just that, but for the rest of us that's another two on the total towards the Felfire Hawk. because, at this stage in the Expansion, I'm already planning towards the next one... except... hang on... ^^


They changed the text on the Chapter IV Legendary Quest Chain. The wording 'finish his final task' has been removed from the previous build, which is understandably leading Wowhead at least to surmise we might not yet be done with the whole shebang. As we are now aware there is a three month delay to the Movie, it is entirely within the realms of possibility that this change has been imposed, but I'd like to point out that the capacity existed to upgrade the Ring before that announcement was made public. So, what is more likely is that this time we'll have a little summat extra in the mix. I'm still holding out for the Sunwell-style 'not a real Instance and certainly not Tier' type-thing, but there's actually a part of me crossing everything for something far more exciting.

It is hight time Blizzard bought back the BIG PRE-EXPANSION EVENT.

This Expansion's been heavy on the nostalgia and we're seeing in the 6.2 data a lot of Draenei 'classic' weapons/armour being revamped and updated. The only thing this entire shebang has been missing is summat huge... and it isn't as if there haven't been hints that some kind of 'external' event might be on the horizon:

Mr Feasel's been asking the Big Questions in the last few months: lots of relevant stuff on Holidays, Professions and much, much more. He has become the undisputed Master of Crowd-sourcing at Warcraft HQ, and I wonder if that means we'll be seeing more 11th hour changing to the gameplan as a result of all this 'closet' investigation. He's also made some interestingly oblique references to plot direction, so for those of you interested in what's going on he's probably a Twitter account worth following. What this means for 6.3? Will there be a 6.3? I honestly don't see Blizzard going another whole year with the Citadel being the only 'current' raid content available, that's for damn sure, not after the storm that the Siege caused for going on that long.

That means something.


With this build looking no closer to being of Release Candidate quality, the Tuesday with Memorial Weekend at its end in the US is becoming increasingly likely as the next big window for this Patch being given to players. After that, Blizzard won't impinge on the the June release window for Heroes of the Storm. 

Once 6.2 is deployed, regardless of what happens next, things get very interesting indeed.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

NBI :: That Thing You Do

I can't do this.

How do you motivate someone to want to write?

You can't. That's their job.


If you don't want to write, you'll find the excuse not to: trust me on this, all the motivation in the world will not sway someone who has the idea in their head that they're not a great writer. I know that because this is a place I inhabit every single day of my life: the ever present spectre of failure, that what you do is never actually enough. You'll find means and ends to wriggle out of anything and everything in your single-minded pursuit of what you want (or not) but eventually, there are reckonings, those awful moments when you have control wrested out of your hands and are forced to dance to the tune of another. Like it or not, it happens to everybody. You have to choose, and you really do, and if writing in the long-term is the path you want to take you already know what needs to be done.

Like everything else in life, if you want something badly enough you will have to work for it.


Of course there is hard work. You don't lose weight overnight, there needs to be effort and application and if you want to keep the weight off then a different set of rules apply. You can't drive an aeroplane without a massive amount of training, and you can't stay a pilot without constant re-assessment. EVERYTHING you do well should involve some notion of effort, and yet in the modern world it appears that people feel that something for nothing is acceptable. If you came here expecting some inspirational words of wisdom this morning I can't give you them, because this is the part of the writing equation where I can't (and won't) crawl into your mind and tell you what to do, because that's simply not my job. This is where the inevitability of accountability rises silent and unmoving.


If the process of doing this matters, really truthfully matters to you, if there are stories you must tell and points that have to be made, you'll wake up at 4am one day and find yourself at a screen or with a pencil in your hand. You'll get hit by inspiration on the bus and write notes on the back of a newspaper in desperation, or a napkin at a restaurant. If it matters to you it won't matter how ill you feel or how bad the day has been: writing will have the capacity to set you free from the restraints of the real world, and create something special and beautiful all at once. This spark is inside you, and if writing is the way to transform your life? You'll know in time, but to give that spark air and space you need to understand yourself first. Although I'm not suggesting a course of self-enlightenment or two weeks in a retreat to be able to hear your inner voice, I'd argue that if you're reading this now and you're curious as to whether you could write well, there's at least the potential for a fire to start.

You are the arbiter of your own existence. You are the mover of destiny when it comes to words, for they are the most powerful of instruments and the most deadly of weapons. If you wish to wield this, stop and look inside yourself. If it matters enough, you will find the motivation.

Nothing I can say or do will change that. The choice, ultimately, is yours alone.

To Build a Home :: How to Disappear Completely

Things you Don't See Everyday:
Number One in a Series.

Occasionally you find yourself wondering if you're alone in the World, whether your experience is unique amongst your peers, and if you're like me you'll go and make some discreet enquiries to that end to check your intelligence. Well, this week I don't even need to ask where people are standing on a particular subject, they're on my Twitter Timeline, in broad daylight, happily admitting that Blizzard's latest experiment in making End Game more interesting for the 'casual' marketplace has lost a fair amount of it's allure. I'll grant you I'm hardly swimming in the mainstream/popular part of the Social Media swimming pool, but part of me doubts that introducing ships to the Garrison equation is going to make this group of players suddenly warm to the feature.

Which leaves me with the question: what EXACTLY is the problem with Garrisons that's making these people be put off by their very existence?


Well, the first part of the equation is to identify where the 'problems' actually lie, and at least in my case the desire to play this game for hours on end has been replaced with the very real need to have other things going on with my life. That means the amount of time that I get to play is restricted... but hang on, the Garrison has been designed to capitalise on offline time! It's made to generate resources while you don't play! Except, of course, if you have no real interest in the rewards you're being offered, there's no incentive to take part. On reflection, combining Garrisons with Professions was probably the biggest nail in the coffin, because it fails to anticipate a basic truth in the way certain people play this game.

What has become convenience for some is inconvenience for others.


There's a reason I've never played Professions that seriously since Vanilla: and this is an admission that's going to make a few people cringe who read this Blog on a regular basis. I only really used Professions when I needed them. That means I'd Enchant when it meant a performance improvement, or I'd gem when the stuff was too expensive to buy. When Blizzard took away the DPS boost component from Professions in Draenor, the need to have all these myriad professions on alts effectively evaporated. The alts themselves lost their relevance for me because they were never made simply to act as mules, I would play them... but the nature of the Garrison 'model' meant a quantum increase in the amount of work I needed to max every one of them. So, I just stopped playing. I lost two tiers of relevance: characters like my Jewelcrafter became effectively redundant overnight, and to max the skill became a massive timesink I simply didn't have the will or desire to complete. And so I haven't.

If this was Blizzard's intention, then it was 100% successful. If it wasn't? If this system was created in the desire to make Professions more attractive to a wider audience?


This would be the moment normally where I offer some miraculous solution to this problem that would solve all of my niggles and woes in a paragraph: except, in this case, I really don't have a clue. I don't know how you make this better, and certainly by the amount of money certain people are making in game with Professions right now, I could reasonably argue my definition of broken is quite likely skewed to begin with. And this is where I have to go back to the people on my Timeline complaining this game is not for them any more and find myself actually wanting to take them by the arm before whispering in their ear 'You know what, it might be time you went and did something else.' Because here is the moment when I grasp that my perception of the game is the problem, and not the game itself, which is working perfectly well for the vast majority of players who don't have any complaints, or else why would Blizzard continue to move the title in the direction it is?

Garrisons are working just fine for the vast majority of the player-base. Instead, I am the problem.

Monday, May 04, 2015

NBI :: The Flood

Let's talk about ideas.

One of the questions that inevitably gets thrown at me by people who visit my Blog over time... actually, let's allow someone else to ask this, shall we?

Well, I'm very glad you bought this up, because having an idea is pretty much central to the success of any Blog in the long term. The problem for many people, inevitably over time, is that the enthusiasm of those first few weeks of a 'new experience' often gets overtaken by the crushing realisation that your writing is only as good as your last post, and if all you have to 'talk' about is the time you spent idling in your Garrison? Not really a good way to keep your momentum going. Ideas tend to thrive in an environment where there is a ton of interaction with other people, and having a bunch of mates to whom you can bounce thoughts off is, at least for me, absolutely central to the process of consistently creative writing. However, on most days I'm on my own in the house: so where does my interaction come from?

This is where I suggest this morning that you could be using Social Media as something more than just Favestarring posts and liking that picture of your mate's cat in the bath.

Social Media GO

It isn't just Twitter or Facebook either: Reddit, Tumblr, even Instagram have the potential to act as rich soil in which for you to plant your ideas and watch them grow. There's absolutely nothing wrong either with using the same idea more than once: that's how features happen, and they can be as much a part of what you write as that Haiku or indeed that post full of GIFS. The key here isn't just variety for your readers, but a means to keep yourself entertained to boot. In the end, this entire exercise is about you and your enjoyment. I lose track of the number of times I've said this in various NBI posts across the years, but honestly?

You write for yourself and nobody else.


There will be those reading this who think that this is not the attitude to have, that if you want to write well there needs to be more than simply an unswaying sense of self-belief, and they would of course be correct. However if you don't have the drive and enthusiasm to find the post when it's a hard enough to think, let alone write, eventually you will stop doing it. Inevitably those who start Blogs with the best of intentions find that, over time, there's just more important things to do. The key difference here, at least for me, is that writing is more important to me than anything else. It is what I am, my life, how I function correctly as a person, and it is in my blood. I can't walk away or leave it alone, I am inspired to write by everything and anything. That's why you get two posts a day right now, and you will until such time as the wellspring of creativity runs dry.

Writing doesn't have to be a flood to be effective. A constant stream is enough, on most days, to keep you going. The key, at least for me, is to never let the well run dry, and as long as I'm able to do that, there's never going to be a lack of ideas to bring to the table.

Adult Education

Respect to the Nethster :D

As a further indicator of Blizzard's willingness to inform and engage the Community, we're now seeing a regular Monthly Blog Post from the company which acts as... well, almost a newsletter around the key events of May. That isn't just the Faire and the Festivals any more either, this month's missive covers eSports (inevitably) and notable highlights in Warcraft 'history': did you know (for instance) that May 2007 was when we first saw The Black Temple go live in TBC? Most importantly of all (for me at least) I am finally seeing Twitter used as a crowdsourcing tool for content with the '10 Things every Player Should Know about World of Warcraft.' It is actually very satisfying to note the company listening to criticism concerning how it disseminates information, and this Blog post is an important step down the path of better communication generally.

What this means for the future of interaction between player and company is really rather exciting overall.

A subtle redefinition of what there actually is to do...

The biggest problem when it comes to getting your message across to players is where that happens: even with helpful menus in game such as your Collections tab, some people still won't realise what that button does without instructions. There's been a lot of criticism (especially in this Parish, it must be said) regarding the lack of information on new features in this Expansion, and although this development simply addresses existing events, that information never existed anywhere else for years except in the Calender feature. In terms of progress, frankly, we'll take it wherever we can find it. The fact the header of the Blog uses the Calender itself as a visual 'prompt' to players is important too, as that will link interest to the feature which is about to undergo a bit of a renaissance when 6.2 hits anyway, as there are the myriad of new weekend and weekday events to further encourage people to do stuff in game.

Because, like it or not, there really is a metric shedtonne of stuff to do.

Oh deary, deary me.

It happens a lot, even on my Twitter feed. There'll be a Tweet that reads something along the lines of 'I'm so bored in-game, nothing to do, Blizzard fail at content' and all I want to do is appear genie-like behind the person concerned with a large bucket of cold water and simply soak them, because there is so much to do in this game it's not even funny any more: mount collecting, battle pets, Old Instances, Achievements, roleplaying, PvP... and the list goes on. What inevitably this assertion means (and I know this because I have two kids and sometimes they too moan of boredom) is that players want Blizzard to tell them what to do rather than having to work that out for themselves. That's why we have a slew of new 'events' incoming. Blizzard are about to add even more things to do in 6.2 on top of the mahoosive pile of existing diversions: the question then becomes, will you actually listen to them? If all you want is raiding and loot to begin with, will any of this new shizzle matter anyway to begin with?

That's your choice, as it has always been. Don't blame Blizzard for not catering to you, because they're doing that more than they have at any point in this game's ten plus years lifespan. There's loads to do right now if you really want to.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

You're History

When this little gem popped up on @Warcraft's official feed on a Thursday morning, I'll freely admit being a little surprised. The last couple of weeks on the 'official' channel have been pretty quiet: the odd @Wowhead video retweet, some Heroes of the Storm chatter, but that's been about it. To be given a question about the Lore at what some might consider a crucial point in pre-Expansion development is telling, because for many people the story of Draenor is that, actually, there's really not been that much plot development at all. We were thrown into a past world we didn't know at all but that was full of very familiar names and places, and basically left to our own devices.

What that leaves us with at present is equal amounts of confusion and frustration as to what actually happens next.

Pointless Monuments to a History Confused?

The last time I remember Khadgar with any clarity was the Karazhan Attunement Quest in TBC, the history of the old bloke with the staff that had a lot to do with the Legion turning up in Azeroth and causing untold chaos. Frankly, it wouldn't have mattered who they got to voice him in Draenor, I'd still not understand why he of all people had to turn up now to be the 'hero' who frustrates me at being not simply a better Mage than I'd ever be, but being able to play all three specs without an appreciable loss in dps. The reason I despise the Tanaan Questline as much as I do, quite apart from the fact the journey's so roundabout and contrived to introduce all the protagonists in such a short space of time, is his inclusion. It makes no sense because I don't want to read a lore book that explains what happened before I got here. I should not need to have to go to external sources of exposition outside the game for this to make sense. 

This game could really do with a reality check in that department. Except, in the ultimate irony of all, it is about to employ the most high profile of external sources to sell it's concept to an entirely new audience.

Who knew how much use this shonky graphic would get?

I've wondered for some time whether the withdrawal of the 'significance' of Lore from the game is a deliberate move, especially when a key part of the Warcraft movie's plot is a massive divergence from what even I know is accepted canon. Dalaran in the movie is a floating city, when at the point the events of the movie take place it would still be very much parked in the dirt of the Alterac Mountains. However, a floating city is clearly far more attractive a possibility to movie audiences, let's face facts, so if we're going off-piste with the Chronology, pretty much anything is fair game. That certainly seems to be the case with events in Draenor: this is a Multiverse now, and that means the designers have an infinite number of new possibilities at their fingertips without worrying about the annoyance of a timeline being trashed.

That's all well and good, except... ^^

Except there is one major problem with that path, and it is the past remains very much static in the game we play. In fact, ten years of past sits often untouched, taunting new players with a complex array of contradictions inside which one phrase keeps coming back, time and again: Death is only a setback. We see posses return, time and again, for us to kill them and for them only to COME BACK FROM THE DEAD and actually, there comes a point where this constant repetition becomes a disappointment. If we can't do a good enough job of dispatching the enemies to oblivion, really, why are we bothering? Is not the point of all of this to play our stories and win our battles and move forward, instead of constantly being reminded how unassailable out enemies are?

Or is it that the entire game is a massive metaphor for the fact that as players we can kill things multiple times but we never die ourselves?

At this point, I'd just like some consistency. Oh, and if we could actually have a new enemy that wasn't a guy that might be a nice change too. Would the Lore allow us that, do you think?

Turn It On Again

We want to promote members of the community who create compelling content and are positive influences to those around them. That's all. 
We just think some in the community could benefit from being exposed to the creativity of others out there. If we have additional opportunities to inform and entertain the community with content from their peers, we think that's a good thing. 
If this doesn't apply to you or you're not interested in being a part of it, we're certainly not forcing you to click on anything in the launcher -- and never have -- to play the game, other than the button to launch the game of course! 

I suppose it was inevitable that the moment Blizzard started listening to one section of feedback that is suggesting greater community engagement, there's be an immediate counter from the group who just don't give a fuck. That second paragraph is particularly telling from Zarhym: this isn't Blizzard showing you what it wants you to see, it's about exposing people to things that they might actually benefit from if people stopped moaning and started trying to learn. Inevitably it is simply easier to ignore someone when they try and give you good advice, and if that person is someone in charge? So much the better. It's like the story I heard this week about one of my personal heroes, Guy Garvey, who suggests the absolute best way to encourage a child to play a musical instrument is to ban them from being able to use the instrument concerned.

Some people really don't care that much about anything until their security is threatened.

Airport security 02
STOP! Scanner time :D

A couple of people have responded to my Blog post this week on the lack of information currently provided by the Adventure Guide on the PTR by saying this isn't actually Blizzard's job any more because third party sites do the job just as well. One went so far as to suggest that Blizzard could link to third party sites in the UI itself to save the trouble of having to do the work, and yet here we have people complaining at Blizzard the moment any kind of 'external' advertising happens. Pretty much at this point, Blizzard are damned regardless of their stance, and that says to me that the company isn't the problem, but the players are. In fact you just needed to be around a certain third party site in the week where a guide on How to take Better Selfies was published to understand that some players' toxicity is becoming an issue that is of genuine concern. However much I may have a problem with something (see Timewalker Dungeons on Wednesday) there is at no point the need to reduce matters to abuse, name calling or wilful ignorance of me perhaps not being right. That's not feedback, that's scorn, and there's no place for that anywhere.

As it happens, my thoughts on Timewalking had some relevance. I know this, because Blizzard have told me as much:

We gathered a bunch of data and feedback based on the initial couple of days. We'll re-enable it, likely next week, with fixes to many of the issues identified. 

And just like that, we have the opportunity for things to change and get better. That won't happen when you're wildly lashing out at Blizzard, or a Guide Writer, or indeed a Blogger because you don't understand the bigger picture. Sometimes it simply isn't the big nasty people at fault for doing stuff you don't like.

Sometimes the fault is yours to take.

Knowing when it's you is a life skill worth learning.

Conversely assuming everything is aimed at you and that you're responsible for why certain stuff happens is a whole different issue for another day, but suffice it to say Blizzard aren't deliberately doing everything they do to piss you off. What this entire exercise is trying to encourage is greater participation in the game at every level: whether you stream, or write Guides, or spend your time talking about what is right or wrong with Azeroth. Because, and this is crucial, if there is not a constant and unique stream of feedback from players, the game inevitably stagnates, and when that happens...? Nobody wins. It is in Blizzard's best interests to encourage an environment for constructive feedback. It is our best interests as players to respond in kind, in whatever format we feel most comfortable expressing this.

Blizzard are making a genuine effort to expand their horizons. As a result, it might be an idea if the more intractable players in the Community attempted to do the same.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

NBI :: Go Your Own Way

As the NBI Event runs this month, you'll see me pop up from time to time with some asides from my time not simply as a Blogger, but as an Internet writer, which I've been doing (off and on) since the early 1990's. It is a little known fact I acted as a Webmistress for at least one top-rated BBC1 Drama series back in the day, and I undertook a phenomenal amount of writing during that time, most of it utterly anonymously. Sometimes to do your job it isn't about being the name on the poster, it's being the force behind the impetus. In fact, today's message is really very simple. It doesn't matter how long other people have been doing this, because that doesn't mean they're any more or less worthy than you are as a beginner.

My CV doesn't give me the right to brag, it just allows me to know how bad I am in retrospect. I frequently let glaring typos go sometimes for days, my understanding of basic grammar is often atrocious, I swear far more than is ever good in non-fiction and OMG CAPS. Just because you've been doing something for X years does not give you the right to be called an Expert (deliberate capitalisation) and anyone who tries to use this as ammunition to make anyone else feel small and inconsequential?

...and that's what I have to say about that.

Everybody's opinion is worthwhile. This isn't about expecting other people to agree with you either, most days I know that something I'll think or say is going to put somebody's nose out of joint because that's what happens when you write for a Global Audience. I'd suggest humility from every writer as standard, but there has to be an acceptance that the moment you put your words onto a platform not just you alone can read, you have the potential to be global. Yeah, sure it might look as if only six people read that last post, but trust me when I say to you that if just one of those people has an audience themselves in the tens of thousands, that post could end up as a life-changer.

From @CM_Zarhym's Twitter feed, December 2011.

Blizzard have a set of 'core values' that are embedded around the massive Orc statue on their Irvine campus, one of which is relevant: 'Every Voice Matters' (which you can see on this Christmas decoration at the 9pm 'space') is a great thing to be reminded of after you've had a week like mine, where you wonder if anyone really is taking the time to read anything at all. You should write every word so it matters to you, because otherwise there really isn't a point, and if ultimately you're not doing this because you enjoy the process... well, you'll end up stopping anyway. It doesn't matter how long you've been doing your job, people will ultimately only remember one thing about you, so make it matter. I'd like to think my quality is passion. That's what I try and imbue everything i do with: some days I'm more successful than others, but it is always there.

Writing is my life, and I want to live it well.


In conclusion, don't let people tell you they're an Expert at anything, especially in a Digital Age. Improve yourself by doing, and remember that every day is a School Day.

You can always learn to be better.

6.2 PTR :: Don't Get me Wrong

2015's Top Summer Vacation Spot ^^

It's a glorious day when I come down to write a blog and I don't have a clue about what that entails. No real news, no massive overnight drama, just a blank canvas. Today, however, I came down and read my 'news' and one line literally jumped out at me to discuss. Wowhead's Tanaan Jungle Guide is this morning's inspiration:
'Tanaan Jungle, an improved version of the Timeless Isle, is filled with quirky treasures and rare spawns that drop toys and gear...'

And here we are, back at the end of Pandaria like it was only yesterday...

Don't do the Flat Circle Thing
again PLEASE... ^^

There's no doubting that for a new player or an alt coming into an Expansion at the end of it's life as opposed to the beginning, a place like Tanaan is going to be amazing. The fact that Blizzard haven't given us a 'collect everything' achievement this time also does acknowledge the fact that a new Zone is only as much fun as the time you feel obliged to stay in it. Whatever your opinion of how those mechanics worked in Pandaria, this is designed to be an area of the game where you both start your Warlords journey before ending it, and it will be loaded appropriately with items you'll need if you turned up late.

It kind of makes you wonder why you arrived early to begin with, doesn't it?

First is no longer the requirement.

The game has, for some time now, consciously acknowledged that not everyone turns up at the beginning any more. Of course, it was never the case that your audience all arrived at the start and had been there since day one anyway: once the word of mouth gets out and people know your title is awesome, everyone wants a piece of it. In the ups and downs of an Expansion cycle Pandaria however was the first to truly acknowledge that that section of audience needed to be deliberately catered for, though you could argue that as far back as TBC places like Skettis and Ogri'la came to be not just because people needed something to do rather than the same old shizzle they'd been doing since launch. Tanaan gives the early adopters a change of scenery, and the arrivals an opportunity to get to a stage where they can go back and rofflestopmp all the stuff the early adopters had to fight through claw and nail... and again, there appears to be no actual benefit to have come in early.

Except of course, the use of the most valuable resource you will fin in ANY MMO: Time.

And now the games begin...

With Blizzard's own Tanaan Jungle preview up on their own website, the speculation begins in earnest as to when it will go live, because the moment it does, the floodgates open. Because, if this is the catchup zone of this Expansion, we really are done for Draenor and that means the more important question for most: when's the next one due? There'll be those telling you they'll need to give people more time, that not enough people have completed Blackhand for the Citadel to open in May... but Blizzard are on a schedule this time, like it or not. Now is not our destination, remember, this year's all about timing, and the most important date of all in the diary is now approaching with speed.

Ah but hang on... ^^

And here's the massive Nerubian in the Ointment. It's still over a year until the movie. You telling us we'll be in the Timeless Isle Tanaan Jungle for twelve months before we get new gear?

May: 6.2 Deployed 
August: Expansion announced at Gamescon, 
This website launches the #ExpansionReleaseDate Contest
October: Mini-Patch with 'Movie Transitional Event' Deployed 
November: Beta is released at Blizzcon
March 2016: New Expansion released.

There you go, heard it here first. Now you know how long you have to go before all those alts need to be levelled, so away you go... ^^