Friday, November 18, 2011

Less is More?

We've made slight adjustments to the Valor Point (VP) drops on the 4.3 PTR which testers can now see. In both 10- and 25-player raids, bosses will now drop 100 VP each (down from 115 and 135 respectively). We’ll also be changing Firelands raid bosses to drop 50 VP per kill upon release of the patch.

In patch 4.3 we’re changing the daily battleground (BG) to reward 100 conquest for a win (up from 25). In addition, every non-rated BG that you win will also give you 50 conquest. There is no limit to how many BGs you can run this way, up to the normal conquest cap.

It will be proportionately easier to obtain higher level BG gears, and will take longer to get higher level badge gear. Someone want to explain the logic of this to me? Is this people being forced into LFR for higher level gear? If it is, Blizzard had better have made sure that the Need+ system's watertight, and that the specs that need the gear will get a proper stab at it. You've done that, right? No, you've not. Plus, if I believe what I read there are already complaints at the lack of spirit cloth gear for Priests. Have you also worked on getting that itemisation right across all the classes? As a small aside I'm really not feeling any Priest Love in this expansion, in fact all I get from priests is annoyance at the lack of spirit gear and frustration at itemisation. Better add that to the 'To Do' List.

If I can stop the Alliance sucking a decent bunch of other people turn up, I can earn a minimum of 700 Conquest a week without stepping foot in either a Rated or an Arena come 4.3. Blimey. This'll be where the Priests go for spirit gear, then ^^ In fact, this will be where more people go for gear over time, I suspect. There will be those who just look at iLevel as an indicator of how good they are. There will be those who believe that that Resilience is just another stat and not grasp that it's totally useless in a  PvE environment. I bet there will also be those who Mog their gear as T1 and just hope no-one notices.

I can see the basic logic to these changes. I'm not sure however that they are going to do what Blizzard hope they will. A lot of this will depend on how robust LFR really is. Oh Lordy, this means I'm going to have to use it when it hits... :(

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I'm Still Here...

BRB, off for a lie down. Don't loot me... ^^

We are in 'one of those' times in Game. You know what I'm talking about: I can tell you who's playing Skygrim, who is anticipating another weekend of SW:TOR Beta action, who is just 'doing other stuff' because they've done with Azeroth until Dragon Soul pops up. Conversely, I've seen a number of people appear who I've not seen for months (in one case, for close to over a year) We are in a period of Warcraft Flux.

For me, I find myself happiest when things are quiet. It's a problem when I have to put together a Raid and of the X people who have signed at least 10% won't turn up. However, thanks to the flexibility of the game (and the fact I have people who know if they have a good-geared alt and they miss getting picked in their preferred role I'll look to them to fill in) we've not yet missed putting out a team. I will admit getting stressed the first few times but now I know who's likely not to bother turning up, I can work around it. Note to people who CBA to turn up: UNSIGN. You get extra points for apologising afterwards that you weren't available, by the way. I'm easily pleased.

I've spent the week faffing, outside the normal run of Jewelcrafting Dailies (not missed one yet) and running Dire Maul for Rugged Leather (I've also sold 2 Ogre Suits for 50g each this week, go figure) On the suggestion of Amateur Azerothian I got the updated Ackis Recipe List and fired it up last night on the Lock as an experiment. I'm missing a bazillion JC recipes (obviously) and I really ought to get to Dalaran to start picking up the Daily there for the patterns I miss. Then I took a look at Alchemy and got something of a surprise:

I'm only missing 11 recipes :O That's GOTTA be reduceable, I think, so off I went on another of my famous tangents. Last night I picked up the Fel Regeneration Potion from SMV, and three of the five Mighty Protection potions from Icecrown. The biggie of course is the Vial of the Sands, but I've been meaning to grind the skill on W for a while, so today I'll be adding Archaeology to my To Do list on the Warlock. I'm also thinking what mobs I could grind for the most financial game in the 40-50 level range to have any hope of those remaining two Transmutes... ^^

I like quiet bits in the game, because I get to do things I really enjoy.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Favourite Zones

Silithus at Night, seen from the Uldum Border.

When my online life was simply my Hunter, back in Vanilla, I can remember with a measure of clarity the first time I entered new Zones. It took me an entire evening to fight my way through Un'Goro, to head up the slope of the crater and make it to Valor's Rest, where (at the time) the southernmost Flight Path was located. This is before the area became a quest hub, even before the days of the Cenarion Circle. Silithus was a wasteland, and held an air of genuine menace. The place looks even better from the air, and I doubt I'll ever get tired of flying over it. Last night it looked particularly beautiful under the moon.

Uldum, with the AQ Ruins in the background...

One of the things I most like about the remodelled world post-Cataclysm is the inclusion of areas like AQ20/AQ40 in their correct position on the World Map, and seeing the proximity of Uldum to AQ gives a sense of significance to the zone being hidden for as long as it was. I think my favourite parts of the world are where two zones meet like this: I will have to go to Loch Moden and take some pictures of the Twilight Highlands: I think the foreshadowing higher zones can do from lower ones gives a bigger sense of scale in the game, especially when you're able to view them from the air.

Talking of foreshadowing...

Iron Summit, Searing Gorge.

Badlands had been hard work. I discovered the passage between there and Searing Gorge totally by accident, and shortly afterwards stumbled upon Margol the Rager who promptly ate me. Forced to kill her when I resurrected I was staggered to find she dropped a quest item, which ended up giving me the Key to Searing Gorge. I'd never had a key before, and in the days before the keyring bag it took pride of place in my recently-upgraded 16 slot bags. The zone's undergone a fair few changes and I wasn't sure the addition of Iron Summit was really needed, but it's rapidly become my preferred arrival Flight Point in the Zone.

The Twilights in Searing Gorge.

One of my favourite quests in Searing Gorge was to help the 'human' you'd find outside the Thorium Brotherhood's camp (Kalaran Windblade, who turned out to be a member of the Black Dragonflight, and was the first time I realised my tracking would be useful as he doesn't show up as a human)  He would send you to kill members of this cult for a Symbol of Ragnaros, which was also my first introduction to the mysteries of Molten Core. Ah yes, the ORIGINAL. /nostalgia. This is my favourite part of their encampment. I'm pretty sure the crystal sunk in the middle of that lava pool wasn't there until Silithus was developed... Oh and the guy standing next to the Alchemy Lab is a rare spawn!

Grimeslit Dig Site

My other favourite spot in Searing Gorge is the Grimeslit Dig Site, which was the centre of a number of amazing quests, including the Goodsteel Ledger which sent me to Theramore and the Swamp of Sorrows to complete it. It's also the first time I encountered an Outhouse quest with Caught! As I recall, getting the silk cloth for that quest was the hardest part of all. A lot of Geologists died, and this was in the days before increased spawn rates...

This Week, I Will Be Mostly...

This used to be my Facebook profile picture. I'm mad, me ^^

  • Attempting to make it through to Friday. I'm getting the distinct impression it's gonna be 'one of those weeks' so I'd better warn you now to be on your guard. If the 1.5 inch long burn on my right palm (don't pick up wire trays straight out of the oven, kids!) is any indicator, I'll be swathing myself in bubble wrap and lying in a corner until things improve.

  • Doing a Stock Take. Yes, I'm sad enough from time to time to sweep up all my gold from various alts, with all the crap I've not quite worked out what to do with, and clean up. This time around I suspect this will also involve deleting quests I will not get to finish, deciding what's going into Void Storage and what I can get rid of (they so should have named it The Big Purple Storage Company ^^) and generally preparing for 4.3.

  • NOT PLAYING SKYGRIM. Yes, I KNOW, but there really are only so many hours in the day, and I'm trying to write a novel here. Feel free to keep telling me via Twitter how awesome it is, however, as you all are. If I get a bit grumpy, just humour me, it'll be because I can't write.

  • Getting Hunter #2 to 85. This will be followed by getting Bankalt Co-ordinator Druid to 82 and Palalalalalalaladin to 83. Am still not sure what to do with the Priest. Shaman Healing is pretty much all I've managed successfully this Expansion. I may need some direction here.

  • Not forgetting about the Crafting Post. I'm working on it...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Random Moments...

Another three images to get me further up to date with IntPiPoMo. Let's make them a diverse bunch, shall we?

Coming 'soon' to an expansion near you...!

This is the Goblin Resort in Ferelas. 'What Goblin resort?' I hear you cry? It appeared without too much fuss earlier in the year (it was speculated it might be to coincide with a Spring Break themed holiday in the US) and then nothing else happened. Part of me would like to think we'll see it put to some use, as it's close to The Steam Pools, scene of Camel-Related Tomfoolery. We will see.

I can't help it, it's so beautiful...

This is a cave at Marshal's Refuge in Un'goro, which used to be the home of J.D Collie. She's been moved now to the Expedition, and her quest has been hugely simplified, but back in the day this was the easiest XP you could get in the zone by quite some way. I lost count of the number of times I'd do this sequence. Her cave is now full of yellow Stone Guardians, as I assume the Titans got a bit hacked off with the Goblins taking over... and who can blame them?

Oh what a surprise, I'm dead AGAIN...

I'll freely admit that the Vortex Pinnacle is my favourite-looking of all the 5 Mans in game right now. The Throne of the Four Winds is my favourite 10 man by the same design, though I did seem to spend an awful lot of time whilst doing it at this distance, dead, floating off into obscurity. In good news however it was at least a pleasant drift when it happened, and I got to take plenty of screenies. This is the best one by far.

Big Brother, Guild Edition!

Victor Nefarious, in the Diary Room...?

A lot of my Guild read this shed of a blog, I know. I appreciate this fact more than I've probably ever said as well, because without them this entire thing would have been a fairly lonely task. They keep me going in the lean times with encouragement, and I know that at least some of my suggestions and tips on making glod have been taken up. Thank you guys, your support is always appreciated.

One of my particularly dedicated followers (Dwarven Hunter, undeniably dashing, and with a habit of rolling higher than me when it matters: you know who you are, you tease) and I were having a chat yesterday, catching up on stuff, and we got into a discussion over what people consider important when they play the game. This lead onto a thought from him: what if we ran the Guild in the style of Big Brother: at the end of each week everyone could nominate two people who they thought weren't positively contributing? Maybe they weren't pulling the numbers in raids. Perhaps they could have been rude in Guild and upset people. Maybe they had just done nothing but think about their own needs ahead of the Guild's ideals. Everyone would get called to the Guild Diary Room to cast their vote and explain their reasoning. We'd pick the top two offenders, and those two people would then face a weekly vote, the loser being summarily /gkick-ed.

I will point out first that NO WE WILL NOT BE DOING THIS AT ANY POINT, but having said that... there's some merit to that approach.

I see frustrated recruiters on my server advertising for new raiders every week (one even adds in their spiel that they are looking for 'dedicated players who bother to turn up' as if to make the point) and it's clear that there is a place past which the game stops being about random individuals: to build and maintain a coherent group for progression you need to start to understand the people you are raiding with. There has to be an investment in getting to know who is reliable, and then you begin to learn more about the individuals playing the game, and as soon as that happens you are, I suppose, in a version of the Big Brother 'house'. People have to get on, they are set tasks to do, they need to show their 'housemates' that they have skills they can bring to the table to help the Guild/House as a whole to fulfil their goals. It's not just about being a great healer or a top tank either, it's being the decent guy who helps someone with enchant mats for free or the girl who talks you through the quest you're having trouble completing.

In every Guild there are always people who don't quite fit, those who sit on the periphery for whatever reason. If Guild membership came with the caveat that you could be voted out each week if you didn't make an effort to contribute, I wonder how many of those peripheral players would no longer sit on the sidelines. I suspect many people wouldn't play either, not willing to expose themselves to potential gkicks if they had a week where Real Life forced them to not play. I have to say, I'd probably be one of those people. However, I could see the benefits of such a 'rule', and I'd hazard a guess that there are probably hardcore raiding guilds who could be using a variation of the Big Brother vote already. The bigger issue for me however would be when you were down to a minimum number, below which your Guild could not operate in the way it wished. When would you stop 'voting out' people? Could this not lead to a Guild that could be full of people who absolutely hated each other but were brilliant at doing whatever it was the Guild asked them to? If so, what would be the point in playing in the first place?

I know the reason that I'm still playing for coming up for seven years: the people. I've said this before, and it bears repeating, and even those who frustrate me (and there are those who do, and I'm betting the feeling is mutual) are part of the Guild, are there because when everyone gets together and applies themselves to a task, it gets done. You are prepared to accommodate a great deal sometimes, and eventually if someone decides it's not working they will leave of their own accord anyway. It's all about making sure everyone understands what is expected of them, and that it is as much about how they contribute themselves as it is about what they take from the entire experience. 'Think not about what the Guild can do for you, but what you can do for the Guild' used to be the way I'd describe it to those who felt that we weren't satisfying what THEY wanted from Azeroth. This still isn't a single player game, and it's not likely to change any time soon.

I won't be introducing a 'Diary Room' Forum on our Guild Website... but the idea made me stop and think.  Remember that being in a Guild isn't just taking what you need, it's about giving something back: bear that in mind and you'll be a long way from being the #1 Nomination for Guild Eviction...