Saturday, December 05, 2009

Confession Time

Those of you who notice such things will see this post has been sneakily retro-inserted. No, it did not originate on Saturday. I have a TARDIS, some Lurpak and a skill in manipulating timestamps. I am not afraid to use any of them. There is a VERY good reason why there wasn't a post yesterday (or is that today?), and should anything happen as a result of what transpired, you will be the first to know.

Time to come clean... Time to tell me everything!

We've known each other for a while now, you and me. We've shared some great times, and there's been some difficulties too, but we've got through it all together. Every day I feel a little closer to you, and I think maybe it's time that I came clean about a few things. It's true, I'm a Jane Austin fan. Yes, I'm afraid that 'You've Got Mail' is one of my favourite romcoms. Oh and... I sneaked an achievement on my Druid. I tried to do it again today on my Mage. Let me come clean right now.

Our story starts at the Epic 'Battle for the Undercity' questline. While Jaina and Thrall chatted about the imminent threat of War, it suddenly dawned on my Druid (back when I tried this the first time) that here I was, in the middle of enemy territory, and tagged as unattackable. I hastily equipped my fishing rod and nipped outside to the Valley of Spirits, and got the Achievement The Fishing Diplomat unhindered. It was a moment of unabashed opportunism, using the phasing in a way I was pretty sure on reflection wasn't working as intended. It occured to me then I could probably go on and try for Old Crafty but... then the guilt hit me. This wasn't right. I shamed myself to move on.

I came back to the Undercity today, with my L78 Mage (who I'm desperately attempting to level before the 3.3 collision) and as I ported in it hit me again... It's just one cast. It's ok, no-one will know, it's really quiet in Guild... My first cast broke the water and I waited for the float to dive beneath the surface... I clicked... and nothing. I got a loot box yes, but inside it... no fish. In the eight months since I last did the quest, Blizzard have closed the hole. You can no longer fish in Orgrimmar when phased.  It was introduced in 3.1, something I'm fairly certain I didn't read in the Patch Notes. El's Extreme Anglin' confirms this too, it was removed to keep the difficulty of the achievement intact and to maintain the need for PvP interaction... and was spot on.

I feel I need to confess this to you now because... well, anything that exploits the game is wrong. It just IS. It may seem innocent enough in such a small measure, but it can be the start of a slippery slope. Respect your game environment, and if you do find something that seems like a legitimate oversight, report it to a GM. As it happens I discovered completely by accident what I consider to be just that in the same quest line, and I'll be reporting it in due course, which is what I should have dome with the fishing. Fortunately for me, someone else noticed.

Exploiting the Game. It's WRONG. Don't do it kids.

I should also tell you about that time in the Blasted Lands with the Servant of Grol... no, that's for another day...

Friday, December 04, 2009

Coming Soon...

Via MMO Champion, and with thanks to Kinaesthesia from Vodka (US-Alterac Mountains), here's a taster of 3.3's HAWT 5 Man action. Spoilers aplenty, watch AT YOUR PERIL.

But you're gonna watch. Oh yes.

ZOMG. Is it Wednesday yet????

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ho Ho Ho!

Well, something good came out of yesterday's post.

WoW Insider's Breakfast Topic? Dear Greatfather Winter... \o/

Yes, and I even get a namecheck. Thank you Mike :D

Who's #1?

Undeterred by yesterday, I read with some interest this morning a post on another of the Warcraft forums I frequent. Someone, on Server X, asked us, the gentle readers, who we thought was #1 between two Guilds, the achievements of both he then proceeded to list. The responses, thus far, are pretty much what I would have expected, namely:
  1. Who cares?
  2. Depends on how you define Progress.
  3. They're both about equal.
  4. Strip both Guilds naked, stick them in the STV Arena, and last Guild standing wins. [*]
Ok, that last one was my idea. Remove the gear, level the field as much as you can, see just how good they are with just their spells and abilities. Works for me.

This got me thinking: just how you define who's #1? Answer 1, in the end, is the correct one. You can't, so don't bother trying. This isn't like a game of Football or Cricket where there are rules, and Team A beats Team B. Yes, Blizzard give us benchmarks, with the benefits of Server Firsts, but whether that makes the Guilds who complete them possess any more kudos than those who don't... that's really not down to anyone but the people playing in those Guilds to decide. Yes, people can acknowledge that finishing every achievement in game makes you special, coz you got there first... however, is this something to be proud of either? That all depends on where you draw your particular line in the sand, where you set your particular set of definitions as to What Makes this Game Great for You. Someone is always going to be first, just like there's always someone who comes last. The points in between may often get lost, but that doesn't make them any more important.

I've often commented here that the reason I'm still playing Warcraft after five years is that there is no one right way to, there's just what you decide to do with your time when you log on. So, by extension, there is never going to be a way to win, there'll never be anyone who's universally acknowledged as #1. You set yourself personal goals (most pets, most hats, most HK's, first or last whatever the Hell you want) and when you reach them you move on. If you run out of things to make you happy in the game, you move on as well, and it's a testament to WoW's variety and immersive nature that it can take a very long time for that to happen. When all is said and done, it is always first and foremost about what you want. So yes, if that means hanging around IF with full Tier on a Giant Mammoth (annoying people like me), or sitting on me at Krasus Landing on your Ironbound Proto-Drake, there's not a damn thing I can do about it. That's how you play your game.

Despite my best efforts to get away from yesterday, I find this subject brings me back, mostly because of a comment made by the friend who no longer is, shortly before he left: it's all about challenge and reward. Whether it's Server Firsts, or 100 mounts, or any of the vast number of points in between, we're basically not that far removed from Pavlov's Dogs. The reward of obtaining what we crave and anticipate stimulates chemical responses in our brains, we are happy or sad. When we don't get what we anticipated, when the bell rings and we arrive to find something unexpected, how do we deal with it? Most of the drama that ever happened in the name of Azeroth stems from the process of challenge and reward going awry, but it doesn't adequately define enough of what the game has become. As WoW has grown in size, the body of people playing it have placed their own rules and expectations into the gameplay. The basic concept remains but it is individually shaped by the groups of people who use it. Yes you can reduce it to purely scientific terms, but yet again you come back to the unassailable fact that no two people will see things in the same way. Large numbers may see Server Firsts as the #1, or Gear Scores as #1, or Dancing on Mailboxes as #1... none of them becomes any more or less valid because someone else says so.

You can try imposing empirical models on games like WoW, yes you can attempt to compartmentalise the people who play (Hell, many people like the fact you do) but when all is said and done, everyone gets to be #1, whether you like it or not. For those of us who have occasionally come first, but prefer the comfort of mid-table mediocrity combined with mild paranioa (will I EVER be good enough?), it's another of a long list of Moot Points. However, if you'd like to meet me in the STV Arena to see if you can own my sorry Dwarven arse, gimme a shout. I can guarantee you'll win hands down, every time. But I'll go down fighting, so be warned... :D

[*] Ironically someone then popped up and said they'd done this, Horde v Alliance. WTB More People in Game like this please. Many more.

This is Not a Warcraft Post

Well, that's not strictly true. You'll see what I mean in a second.

Two things happened today (well actually yesterday now, but still) which have moved me a fair way out of my Blogging comfort zone. Both were my fault, can't deny that. One involved the post below being posted as a bit of lighthearted whimsy on another Internet Social Networking Site, whereby both it and me were ripped to shreds. I have no problem with this, on reflection, as I have only myself to blame. I misjudged the mood of the community and I failed to register how my comments would read in that context. I made assumptions on a very narrow and specific field of reference. Then I stupidly attempted to justify myself when I simply should have walked away. The other event came as a result of this, and involved someone who's been an Online 'friend' for several years unfriending me. I'd love to say I know why exactly he did it, I can take a guess but really that's his decision to make.

Needless to say, both fights were as a result of what I chose to write.

I learnt, a long time ago, if you don't want to be misinterpreted, say nothing. If you have something to say, then say it and stand by the courage of your convictions. Everyone has the right to be respected for their opinion: whatever it may be and however much you may personally dislike or disagree with what that is, it's still valid for them.

I don't regret anything I may have said in the last 24 hours. Yes, much of it could probably have been said better, but in the end it's what I am, and if people have a problem with that, so be it. As a writer you must be prepared to stand and fall by the words you use. I stand by what I said, and I apologise to anyone who I may have offended. I assure you, it was NOT my intention to do so.

To my now ex-friend: were we ever friends at all? Such is the way of this virtual world. You liked to be provocative, you always seemed to want to pick a fight, and when I responded finally with one you left. I think if you really cared, something as stupid as this would have simply been taken for what it is, pointless, and simply forgotten. There's a reason I don't have a thousand friends on Facebook, after all. The word for me has more than a passing significance. Yes I deserved the criticism. Pity you left just as it was getting interesting.

However one of the last points he made is one worth repeating: you shouldn't take things so seriously, and he's absolutely right. It's a collection of pixels. Never forget that. If the people matter to you, you find them outside the game. Everything else is simply a diversion.

Time to move along.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dear Greatfather Winter...

'I caught a Tauren... and it was THIS big!' (from

Dear Greatfather Winter,

I REALLY have been a Good Girl this year, Honest! Yes, there have been a couple of moments in Guild but you of all people must know how hard it is some days to be a GM, and yes I KNOW that's not an excuse... but still, I have been REALLY good. You know I can't lie to you.

Anyway, I thought this year I'd better do a proper list of all the things I'd like under the tree in Ironforge, because there's going to be a patch hitting very soon and I'm well aware that's going to make you and your Goblin helpers even busier than normal. I will try not to be greedy. As I'm the only person I know without the Achievement anyway, it shouldn't be too hard.

So, here's what I'm hoping for this Winter Veil in Azeroth:
  • That the Winter Veil Quests will change at some point. I've rescued a Reindeer and chased a Grinch for several years now, and although I know some people are new to the game and will find this exciting and compelling, I think the old timers need something different. I realise that this isn't that high on the list of priorities right now, but with the revamps that have happened to a lot of Festivals, I can but hope. I'm really looking forward to seeing if there's anything new under the tree as well, but as the data miners haven't unearthed anything, I'm kinda thinking I'll be disappointed. Bah Humbug.
  •  An end to the obsession with Gear Scores, max dps and /whisper achievement or no reply. When the new LFG system launches I know a lot of this will become academic anyway, but it still pains me greatly to see people insisting on 4k dps to run Utgarde Keep Heroic. Seriously guys, be realistic.
  • Less Willy Waving. I am a girl, I have no external genetalia to swing. I DON'T CARE if you've done A Tribute to Testosterone, I don't need to see you posing outside the AH at all hours with your Giant Mammoth or your 325 cool bits of armour, it's just DUMB. If you feel the need to show off in game, I strongly suggest you ask Greatfather Winter for a Life this Winter Veil and when you get it, you leave the game for a while and get a sense of proportion. Yes I take this all too seriously as well, but I'm dealing with that with my Therapy Gnome next week. This is not all about me :p
  •  I'd like to see certain professions get an overhaul. Ideally, what's been done with Engineering is what ought to be the norm with all the creating professions: Blacksmithing is horrible for ANYONE who is a caster (ok if we don't get Woodworking as an option this time around let's see staff manufacture somewhere, and the chance to produce a decent spellpower shield or range of offhands should be mandatory) LW is tired and would benefit from a complete overhaul, as would Enchanting. People now pretty much level certain skills simply so they can make one or two high end recipes, and that's wrong. There ought to be loads of reasons for going back and using older recipes, and that's simply not the case for certain paths. Sort it out!
  • An End to Obsessive Behaviour. Ok, this one may be pushing it I know, but it's worth a try. Whether it's the Achievement Whore, or the Hard Mode Junkie, there are FAR TOO MANY people now whose sole aim in game is to be first, or to be doing what they want at the expense of everyone else. This has NEVER BEEN a one-player game, and (although this pains me to say this) even though you can do it that way, and I often do, it's not what you should be aiming for. The best times are not to be found simply massaging your own ego or fulfilling your own personal aims, the best times are always found with other people. No, they REALLY ARE. This Winter Veil is a time to be with your Guildies, to share memories of good times and great kills and utter stupidity, to laugh and joke with each other and to feel special about not just yourself, but the people around you. Remember there will be so many people this year without that simplest of pleasures. Make the best of what you have, and put aside the need to make yourself happy. Hug someone new in Azeroth and perform a random act of kindness too. After all, you might never get to see another Winter Veil, you never know what the next Five years of Warcraft will bring...
I'd also like a new mount, a load of cookies, the latest album by Elbows of Triumph and a Cuddly Orc please, but not the one with the real hair coz that makes me itch.

Love to Mother Greatfather, and hugs to all those great people at Smokeywood Pastures!

P, and her (Many) Alts.

PS: If you could also make Dalaran less laggy, that would be great :D

    Tuesday, December 01, 2009

    200 Posts!

    The first Xmas card arrives in the mail. The kids have to be beaten off with a stick, and told they get their Advent calenders when they get home from school. Yes, the Festive Season has properly arrived, and with it I will be attempting to do a post a day, on anything and everything Warcraft-related, in an attempt to see if I can't get my brain to work better than it has over the last few Christmasses. Consider it an exercise in stimulation.

    There's a stupid amount of Alt Levelling going on at present, not simply in out Guild but all over my Server. Starting area mats are selling like Mince Pies or Brussels Sprouts at the moment. Now is the time to be making cash. I've taken my Rogue, dropped Leatherworking and converted her to Gathering Spec (mining[*]/skinning) for the not insignificant Sta/Crit buff combo she'll get when she finally hits 80, which she will, but not before my recently-humanified Mage does first. She's halfway through 76 right now, and the normal rules will apply once we turn 77: go start the Tournament Dailies, do WG as often as possible, start the Blue Laydees questline (even though when 3.3 hits it's largely irrelevant) and wait for the package in the mail from Rhonin...

    After the Rogue it's my Pally. After that... gonna be a LONG wait for Cataclysm.

    I see rumours circulating that 3.3 is gonna drop next week. I don't reckon it'll even be then, I'm still holding out on the 16th, which will mean, if I'm cute, I can have a Rogue close to the 50/60's and be happily strip mining Burning Steppes and Hellfire while everyone else goes mental over the Icecrown stuffs. Because of the deliberate gating Blizzard will be implimenting there's going to be a HUGE amount of lead time between wings, so the focus will inevitably shift to the new 5 mans. I can see me doing a lot of work towards getting a Perky Pug. After all, for everyone except my Main, that gear and the Triumph/Frost gear the Elbows provide will be the items I'm wearing once I move into the Expansion. I have probably 10-11 months to gear everybody, so it's not like it all has to be done tomorrow. I am speculating with nominating an alt a month, and focussing simply on getting that alt geared, sorting them with achievements and the like, and then moving on. We will see how things work, but I know for a fact cash won't be a problem with the amount of things I can now do to obtain it.

    I doubt it's going to be anything but a Fun (but cold) Winter :D

    [*] 30g from levelling Mining from 1-75, selling the ore and stone on the AH. Proof if needed that selling the right things makes money \o/