Saturday, October 22, 2011

This isn't a Joke?

So then. Pandas.

This is a pretty bold move for Blizzard, I'd wager. Let's face facts, these guys were a joke to begin with. To make them a playable race could be construed either as a mark of genius or one of utter stupidity. Of course you don't have to play them, their new class (the Monk) will be available to (nearly) all the existing races, but you will need to enter the vast floating world they inhabit to raid at Level 90. I suspect this might be a move too far for those who already consider introducing a 'cute' race is somehow a dilution of Warcraft's essence. They are out there as well, blogging this morning, saying that their time with the game is over. However, the vast majority of comment I'm seeing appears to be positive: the vanity pet lovers are celebrating Pokemon (Azeroth Edition), the Runescape lovers are applauding Scenarios and there are even a few people looking forward to doing all their Dungeons in Gold Medal times. If you look hard enough, there appears to be something here to appease everyone.

The fact that so many people actually require appeasement to begin with should make Blizzard realise that they might actually have dropped the ball with Cataclysm. Having been forced back to basically redesign the game's Talent System again FROM SCRATCH seems to me like an admission of guilt. However there is a clear message in all of this that I suspect will only sink in as people walk away from the Convention: people have been given more stuff to do THAT'S NOT RAIDING. All of these things, all of the stuff that's been added to the game, NONE of it is really related to making 10 and 25 man raiding the focus. Of course the Hardcore Guilds will still do it, there'll still be the Paragons and the Ensidias plugging away... or will there? There's no big boss to defeat this time around folks, no nemesis to thwart. That's probably the boldest of moves in all of this: you get to the last Patch of Pandarea and there is no battered bloody head to hold aloft to proclaim 'you won.' I wonder, for the progression guys, will there really be any incentive to want to run this content any more?

I for one am waiting to see how the Hardcore react to all this. A part of me imagines that if That Lucasfilm Game can present the unhappy raider with a viable alternative to what Warcraft has offered for nearly seven years that they could well capitalise on this move towards content dilution. Again, as was the case with Cataclysm, this new set of opportunities may simply be a convenient excuse for some people simply to pack their bags and move on. What is clear is that Blizzard have obviously identified the areas where there is interest in game for those people who don't currently raid 'full time' and is now clearly catering to those people with limited time. The vanity pet fights, let's face it, is a whole mini-game in itself waiting to be launched as an iPhone app. Scenarios are deliberately meant to last no more than 30 minutes. This for the generation who don't spend hours farming the same mobs until their eyes bleed. This is for people who want quick rewards without a lot of effort.

The biggest issue with all the information right now is that none of it is actually set in stone. The Dance Studio, Path of the Titans... many Blizzcon-launched features have been lost forever in the mists of Development Hell. We'll be waiting for the Beta to see if all this actually comes to pass, and of course as you've all bought your Annual Passes already that means the Beta will be yours to command. That's an utter master-stroke on Blizzard's part, hats off to the guy who thought that idea up. You guarantee $XXXXXXX up front for a year, Blizzard know just how many people are prepared to commit their money up front for all this effort. I'm guessing this morning there's a LOT of people who've put their money where their hearts are, even with the current climate of Economic uncertainty. This will be the true measure of Blizzcon's success. How people react as a result will be very, very interesting indeed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Too Much to Take In...

Yes, it's PANDAS.

Currently there's a bit too much to take in. I'm watching three different websites AND the Blizzard Live Stream and frankly, brain is about to explode. I have two panda character names already booked on the server and I'm looking at a real need to have to delete some people to fit this all in, unless of course we get some new character slots. I'll work it out, smart girl like me.

The biggest news thus far however has to be the Annual Pass. Pay for the year, get a mount, Diablo 3 for nothing and ACCESS TO THE BETA. It's going to happen. Probably with birthday money, as it happens, as that's on Sunday.

Other people are reporting stuff, go read them instead. I'll be over here working out if I can register any more kicking Panda names... ^^

Thursday, October 20, 2011

In Sad Real Time News...

... and because at least one person asked me, this Blog now has a Twitter feed. Don't expect anything clever, but I will post if I think anything's worth sharing.

Next up, redesigning the site a bit. However I have college homework first... :(

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hallow's End :: More Treats for your Time!

One of the 'bonus' buckets at Bogpaddle. You get the alliteration for free :D

It appears that, if you're looking to do the Hallow's End achievements for the first time this season, you may be missing some extra helpful information. I'm doubting it's deliberate, in fact I'd speculate it's as a result of the phasing Blizzard has used to make certain areas of Azeroth accessible in a certain order. Needless to say, it appears a significant number of Candy Bucket locations are missing from the Achievement list. If we look at 'Tricks and Treats of the Eastern Kingdoms' to begin with:

The Rogue's doing this achievement as I type...

That's twelve locations, but when I looked at the list I realised that a lot of Eastern Kingdom areas were missing, where I was pretty sure I'd seen Candy Buckets in the past. As my Rogue hadn't done any of the Bucket gathering I decided I'd make the effort to fly across the entire continent and search everywhere (potentially) with a flight point/pub which are normally the preferred locations for buckets [*]. On my first pass I discovered additional buckets in the following places:

  • Chillwind Camp, Eastern Plaguelands
  • Bogpaddle (see above), Swamp of Sorrows
  • The Harborage, Swamp of Sorrows
  • Fort Livingstone, Northern Stranglethorn
  • Sundown Marsh, Menethil
  • Greenwarden's Grove, Menethil
  • Farstrider Lodge, Loch Moden
  • Fuselight, Badlands
  • Dragon's Mouth, Badlands
  • Iron Summit, Searing Gorge

With all of the items you now need to complete Hallow's End dropping from the Handful of Treats, plus the Tricky Treats being used as currency to buy any additional items you might need, getting every Bucket is a priority, potentially saving you the effort of having to purchase items that can drop randomly. Plus, at L85, the gold is not unreasonable. I made 240g on my collection round, picked up  three of the four sweets I need for Hallow's End Treats for Jesper, plus completed an Arathi Basin and snagged G.N.E.R.D Rage to boot. All the Eastern Kingdom buckets yieldes 64 Tricky Treats, though bear in mind you may get more or less than that number. Remember, with no Trick or Treat dialogue available from Innkeepers this year there will be no hourly pickup of items, and these Buckets are a one-use deal per year. Collect your treats wisely!

[EDIT: It appears this isn't intended. Referring to Allison Robert's Hallows End Guide there is a different list of locations on the PTR for Eastern Kingdoms (which means I've missed a couple as well ^^ ) which then corresponds with a far larger list of locations if you're a Hordie. Let's see if this is hotfixed before the Holiday is complete.]

[*] I know that there's at least one Bucket located by neither of those things in the Cataclysm achievement, but it's a decent rule of thumb to locate them.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We Interrupt Your Speculation...

It's a Dwarven female in a Dwarven female mask. Oh, the subtlety!

... to realise that Hallow's End starts today and it's all change. Gone are the Trick or Treat dialogues with Innkepers, the Southshore quests and the need to rely on the RNG to get things done. This holiday's currency is the Tricky Treat, and with them you can but everything. Yes, EVERYTHING: wands, masks, Squashlings, Hallowed Helms, all can now be purchased if you do enough dailies. For those of us obsessed by vanity pets there's two new ones to collect: one via quest, the other via Treats. Needless to say, with the exception of W's Daily JC-ing and B the Pally's JC levelling (more of which later) this is what will be taking up my time for the next week, until such time as P has both of the new pets and enough treats to buy the remaining masks she requires to finish all the Achievements for this Holiday.

Needless to say, the new quest associated with the Holiday is well done, isn't a simple 'collect X and go to Y' affair and presents you at it's conclusion with an interesting dilemma:

It's a choice. Yes, YOU HAVE TO DECIDE. Needless to say both options will end up with you getting the pet but still, this is a bit of a new development for Blizzard. Normally everything is laid out for the player and there are no 'difficult' decisions to be made. I did find myself stopping and thinking about consequences when I got this, I wonder if anyone else will consider this as significant. More satisfyingly I discovered a Pub in Stormwind I had no idea existed before (the Shady Lady) where the NPC Proprietor sells a couple of absolutely smashing bankalt offhands. Anything in this game that I discover after so long makes me smile, and reminds me just how much depth this game provides to it's player base.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to revisit every candy bucket in Azeroth and Outland in an attempt to get enough Tricky Treats for my new pet...

Monday, October 17, 2011

4.3 PTR :: More Sparkly News

Now that the rest of the world has caught up with the JC Exclusive we trailed on Saturday *cough* some interesting additional information has emerged. As I assumed (correctly) there is a Yellow Resilience recipe in the game files (but not on the trainer), at least according to Icy Veins, who also lists a number of Orange, Purple and Green resilience/spell penetration cuts for us PvP types.

However, most interestingly, Icy Veins is claiming that the transmutes for the Epic gems exist in the game files, and indeed Wowhead have the PTR evidence. Here's the transmute recipe for Queen's Garnet. This goes against what Blizzard had previously stated that Epic gems would only be available via 'Geodes' that would be rewards for players when raiding. There is even an interview with Greg Street which states this:

The way we're hoping to set it up, and we kind of have this working but things could change before we go live, is when you kill a boss on normal or heroic mode, each player gets a geode, and when they open the geode there's a chance they may find an epic gem inside. If not, it'll have blue gems or something like that. We really want it to feel like an individual reward, and not something that the raid leader gets to have fun in deciding who gets the gems, or they all go to the guild bank or something. We really want it to feel like an individual reward.

They'll be somewhat rare. It may take the entire content cycle before someone has replaced every red gem they have, but they won't be so rare that you won't see them.

I have to say I was surprised when there was an announcement that Alchemists would not have an opportunity to transmute, as this would be a significant about-face from previous expansions. With the transmutes now in the PTR I find myself thinking that actually it should be relatively easy to restrict the distribution even with these recipes available, and I believe that Blizzard could look to the Dreamcloth model that tailors currently use as a guide. If I were Blizzard I'd create all of these recipes with a seven day cooldown, separate to the 24 hour Alchemy one that currently exists. This will allow alchemists a brand new living to be made (kinda glad I have two), and will restrict gem circulation sufficiently in the opening weeks to ensure that the gems retain rarity value and will sell for thousands of gold, thus pricing out large sections of the buying public not become as 'common' as blue gems.

The other restricting factor of course is what you'll need to actually transmute the epic gems to start with. Last time we needed Frozen Orbs, and I can't help but think that the piles of Chaos Orbs I have across multiple alts that are about to stop being soulbound could gain even more value. An alternative to the seven day CD, and if Blizzard wanted to be particularly mean, would be to throw an Essence of Destruction into the mix. As these are already a major part of the new crafting recipes (and will only drop from Dragon Soul raids), to add one to any transmute would certainly up the rarity value.

I wonder, would Blizzard be that devious...?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Jewelcrafting Maths Time!

Time for some hard jewelcrafting numbers:

  • W currently has 126 Tokens saved.
  • Assuming 4.3 is not deployed to AT LEAST December 1st, that would mean if I do the JC Daily WITHOUT FAIL until then I'll have an additional 35 tokens.
  • Therefore I'll have a total of 171 Tokens to spend, which will mean 34 recipes if I buy specific cuts.
  • Checking the PTR, there are 51 Recipes to learn in total.

The Tome of Burning Jewels then will come into it's own, after I've taken the major cuts that I know the majority of Guildies are going to want. This will mean probably all the 'pure' blue, yellow and red gem recipes (which would take 14 x 5 = 70 tokens to begin with) leaving me a useful 101 still to spend. If I was specific and bought particular cuts that would mean only another 20 recipes but if I gambled with the Tomes I'd be able to get another five, which I have to say I reckon would be worthwhile.

There are however no PvP gems currently included in this calculation, and I am assuming they won't appear until the PvP gear is finalised. That would mean at least another Yellow Major Cut which I reckon I'd take, considering how well the +40 resilience gem currently sells. Even factoring in this, I think I'm going to be pretty well set come 4.3: now I wonder about whether we'll be seeing a transmute recipe for the gems or whether Blizzard will be sticking to their guns with the 'only getting gems from raiding' path...