Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Feel Fine!

This question appeared in last night's Twitter Dev Chat, and I feel is worth repeating:
Q: What change are you most excited about?
A: We are changing the old zones probably more than most players realize. A place like Stonetalon is virtually unrecognizable. It has all new quests and item rewards and dramatic changes to the landscape. A zone like Western Plaguelands has actually been updated to reflect the fact that the Scourge are in retreat (which is not to say that the zone is without its dangers). Everywhere you’re going to see something new and surprising. I think a lot of players are excited about the level 80-85 experience (as they should be!) and the goblin and worgen zones (which if anything are better than the death knight starter zone, if you can believe that), but I think a lot of players are going to want to reroll new character of existing races and classes just to see how much everything has changed.
I highlight that last sentence for a reason. It is increasingly clear that Blizzard are pinning a great deal on Cataclysm, not simply as a means of pulling new subscribers into the Game but as a way of keeping those of us who are old enough to remember 15 Man UBRS (Need Key) as the pinnacle of Casual Game Content tied to their subscriptions. As more and more information falls from various places, whether it be talents or zone previews, anyone who knows the game well is getting a sense that we are on a timer. The Old Game will cease to exist come the Expansion, for better or for worse. If the Devs are now prepared to go on record and tell us we'll want to reroll, I think we need to grasp just how much of the game could be disappearing for good.

Outland and Northrend will stay as they are, one assumes in all this, but basic changes to levelling and talents/masteries/archeology will also resonate through these places, but you know I doubt anyone will care. As it's pretty much been confirmed you'll be able to mount up and fly across Azeroth from the word go, the possibilities for exploration are pretty much endless. I'd argue you'll be seeing a huge increase in flying-related quests generally as a result, which is great news for some (not me, I suck at bombing, racing or Aces High, just DON'T ASK) One hopes that by learning about latency issues with places like Dalaran and Shatt over the years Blizzard will give us more than two starting zones this time around as well, that they'll spread the load across two continents. Add to that the mass levelling that will occur with the Worgen and the Goblins and suddenly everyone will be replaying the game in one form or another, and all in the same place. Last time with the Space Goats and the Belfs they got to have Azeroth to themselves as they powered towards Outland... it's going to be far more crowded this time around.

The brilliance of Blizzard basically destroying the game to create it anew it has been commented upon elsewhere. The significance of that this actually entails will only now begin to become apparent as we roll towards The End of the World As We Know It. It makes me realise just how much stuff I would like to do before it all gets swept away in a flood of volcanic lava and angry Elementals. Most importantly of all, it will pretty much seal the fate of the game, because if they do this wrong... we all know what happens when you reinvent yourself badly and it goes Pete Tong. You have to hope they know what they're doing after five years... right?

The proof is coming that they do. It's whether an increasing proportion of the in-game population die of boredom beforehand first...

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Sound You Hear... me using the money I was going to spend on a new pair of trainers on a virtual sparkly pony. Ghostcrawler never promised me one, after all. It means that come Cataclysm my Worgen has a mount that'll last her all the way to 85. That's my excuse, and I'm bloody well sticking to it.

In the end the entire process took 90 seconds. The trick clearly is not to queue but to wait until the infrastructure collapses and sneak in quietly...

If you want me, I'll be beating off my Inlaws with a stick until some point on Sunday morning...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My Kingdom for a Horse!

So, here's a thing.

I logged on earlier this evening and saw someone in Dalaran on the back of a Celestial Steed. Assuming it was some as-yet unannounced Ulduar Hard Mode reward (considering who I saw was on it) I went and searched online to discover, as the rest of the World did last night, that Blizzard were selling them for 20 euros.

20 Euros.

The screenie above was my spot in the queue before my browser crashed. The next time I tried, there were 60,000 other people there waiting, and at that point I shut down Firefox in disgust and walked away. It wasn't because of the cost: 20 euros for that mount, which if you buy it then applies to every character on your account, which is both a ground and flying mount at once, is a pittance. The ingame cost of grinding to afford a mount like that for every alt I have is well worth 20 euros, and then some. My problem came with trusting a transaction like that when my PC's connection to the Interwebs is shaky at best right now. I can't queue like that. I'm pretty sure Blizzard's Store Infrastructure had a hard time coping with it as well. There will be men in while lab coats and clipboards making notes on all this, showing the power of the right vanity item available potentially to millions of people simultaneously...

Much will be written, I suspect, as to the moral validity of such items, mostly because mounts have become an important way of judging a person's place in the Warcraft Social Heirarchy. The (literally) hundreds of people who will be posing outside the AH/Bank/Fountain tomorrow on these aren't saying 'look at me, I've achieved something technically complex in game' they're screaming 'look I spent cash to buy this, will you do the same?' It's the same situation we'll see no doubt when the new Recruit-a-Friend mount appears: 'look I bought a second/third account so I could just get hold of one of these' is just as likely to be the label to attach than the 'bringing new blood into the game' kudos. It also means, I suspect, that those mounts that people have actually earnt or worked hard for will gain a level of extra relevance to boot. This is right and proper in my mind too, because even though I've never been a big fan of willy-waving I'm even less of a fan of people believing that buying your rarity makes it any better.

I've been working my way towards 100 mounts with little drive or enthusiasm, even though the reward is in my opinion STILL the best looking flying mount currently in game. The reason I don't want to push the issue is the in-game cost that the next 35 or so mounts in game will mean. At a time when many people are cutting back their gametime to concentrate on Other Things, the last thing I really want to do is get all blinkered and focussed into believing being able to mount up on a Dragonhawk is a good use of the time I currently have. If I made the effort to do the Tournament Dailies on a regular basis I could gather a fair few of the mounts, but frankly there are better things to do. Yet again it boils down to the in-game costs.

I don't think 20 euros is much to pay for a quick fix and a mount that means all of my alts have a flying mount available if needed. What I'm not so sure about is the way that Blizzard chose to sell them. I think that side of things at least could do with some work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In the Waiting Line

It has been a difficult couple of days.

I'm not a big fan of change. I know it's inevitable, that it's a good thing and ultimately it makes for a better world, but I've never been the fastest of learners. You're talking to someone who's only just grasped the concept of strafe, after all. Keyboard turning is my default state, and that's the numpty way according to my Husband. The class changes, especially the Hunter ones, have gotten me a bit concerned. There's nothing I can do about it, mana is no longer a concern, I gotta learn focus and get used to it. I am aware that all this Arp I have is gonna be pointless (and am glad I've kept a load of gear from various 25's on the offchance) and that the 4 set T10 bonus is worth holding onto as well. I may not get change, but I'm well versed in the art of preparation. It will all be okay in the end.

It's not like there's nothing to do while we're waiting for Cataclysm either.

Syndragosa was into P3 when we left her, I don't think it's beyond the realms of possibility that she's down in the next round of ICC action. The WG shoulders were the only item I really needed with the Marks, so any more PvP action is honor towards more gear to prep for rated BG's. I've exceeded the 400 mark for Triumph Elbows as well... if all else fails it's a mass gathering exercise for Epic gems to sell before the Expansion drops. It really isn't about not having anything to do, even on the 80's. It's just the waiting that's going to get frustrating.

The next step in the plan is to get the Rogue and the Priest to 80, and to give them a decent set of gear to prep them for Cataclysm. After that, I sense there needs to be a better plan. I suspect it's going to revolve around making as much money as concievably possible...