Saturday, February 25, 2012

All Quiet on the Azerothian Front...?

No, of course not, but I'm still struggling with the throat infection that's plagued me for two weeks now (and am thinking I may have to go get drugs to cure it) and so there has been No Raiding but Plenty of Faffing. Highlights of the last 48 hours are as follows:

Perhaps not taking this on a green background would have helped... ^^

Horde Hunter has hit 81, is entrenched in Dailies of the Fishing, Cookery and Tournament varieties, and now has matching mount and pet. Next step, getting the Vanity Pet to complete the trio, because a smart Hunter Lass always craves co-ordination. Ho yus. Let me further demonstrate this with #2 Hunter:

Big dog, Little dog, Dwarven Hunter. Repeat until logout ^^

Little Worg from Lower Blackrock Spire. Big Worg from Hellfire Ramparts. Shabby Male Dwarf from the Inn, but at least looking smart in co-ordinated gear. After she hits 85, Horde hunter will get the same treatment. Talking of which...

Finally, I can stop faffing. NO REALLY.

I've been playing with my Mage's look since her first Mog Outfit, and only now am I really happy. Terestian's Stranglestaff was a bonus from a 2 man Kara run last night and it poked me to sort out the all white look I'd been going for, inspired by another Mage in my Guild who's done the same. I've been spending increasing amounts of time playing with looks, and this means you'll see some subtle changes to my header as time goes on. For now, this is one look I'm happy with. I got 2 enchants I was missing last night too, which was a bonus: I'd only really gone to Kara for cloth and DE mats to fuel my burgeoning Imbued Netherweave Bag business... ^^

You're a Gnome in a Goblin Mask. Not fooling ANYONE, really ^^

As I've felt bleurgh all day, I thought I'd go quest, and so off I went to Stonetalon. At the back of my mind I am aware that unless I go get the Theramore quests done as they are, there might not be as many there come the Expansion, so it's time to explore what the Horde are doing on Kalimdor: I have to say, I came out of 55 quests rather depressed, especially as I watched the Horde blow a bloody big hole in the middle of Stonetalon just to wipe out a Druid Training Facility. This will only end in tears :( If you've not done the New Cata Quests pre-60, I'd suggest you give them a look Alliance side, because I suspect as I head into the Barrens things are only going to get worse...

I'm also faffing with everyone else on the Roster in one form or another, and suspect as a wind-down from my College Assessment I'll be spending the next few days doing quite a lot of very little... ^^

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Coming Clean on the Other Side..

Yes, they exist. There, I said it.

I have been poked by certain people to admit it and yes, I do. I play both sides. As a fan of AH speculation I can't afford NOT to have a Horde presence on my server and when the Festival Lantern appeared I realised that, frankly, it was time to stop pretending. By that point I'd made my highest level Horde character a Worgen Druid and not a Tauren so it was time for a rethink. Thus, the Red Team was born.

E is a 77 Hunter (well DUH) and N is a L20 Rogue. This for me embodies a) the easiest toons to level and b) the ones with the most utility when it comes to maximising time 'on the other side.' If you're reading this on Alliance side and think this perhaps means I'll be transferring toons back then I will stop you now and reassure you I'm a Blue Girl first, and P will ALWAYS be the priority when I'm progressing. However, as times change, there's a need to be prepared, to watch all three Auction Houses instead of just the one. These guys are around to pad out my Faffing Network, whilst at the same time watch for faction-only items that might turn a decent profit.

Currently E's sitting at the Argent Tournament quietly doing the Dailies and getting ready to pick up some Tournament Pets, whilst N acts as a trainee DE-er and bag manufacturer (I know, Tailoring/Enchanting are hardly Rogue-Friendly professions, but there's a plan here) If the Grand Plan changes I will of course let you know, but for now this is me simply admitting that only pretending there's one side to this game is putting yourself at a tactical disadvantage. It takes two to, and all that.

The fact I made them a logo means you'll be hearing more from them in the future :D

Learn to Understand...

Still Here. Not Going Anywhere.

As I sat yesterday, listening YET AGAIN to the Haters in Trade informing me that even though Star Wars: The Old Republic's servers were down it was still going to mean the end of Blizzard's stranglehold on my soul, I found myself lamenting. This happens a lot, I have to say. There was Aion, then there was Rift. Then Star Wars came along and I went and had a look at that, because I felt a sense of obligation to my past and my love of the Universe. I learnt an important lesson: I'm not prepared to live in a world I fantasised about as a kid. This means if there's a Babylon 5 MMO you're going to see me running away, at speed, regardless of how good it is. I will say however I'm looking forward to seeing how The Secret World pans out, but I digress...

I was thinking about my relationship with the game, waiting for my tea to brew, whilst checking my Blogroll and reading what the venerable Mr B.B. Butt had blogged whilst I slept. Clearly, we work on a similar wavelength:


I have often wondered if my commitment to Azeroth is an age-related issue, and I think in part that wisdom may have its contribution to make. There's also the 'I've been playing this since launch, I'm not throwing away that kind of time investment' which extends to my washing machine (which has been going nearly a decade without being replaced) and my car (much the same, even though it leaks in the wet, it's a convertible and I can wait for the Summer) so really, if you're looking for precedent, I have it in spades. However, it's not the reason. There's one reason, that overrides all of them, and it's frankly inescapable:


It's not like I've not played anything else
. It's not me deliberately excluding games because 'they're not WoW': I've tried loads, really, I have. The fact remains (and here comes the science, so concentrate) that Warcraft is a fabulous game to play the way I play it. For me, no-one has combined a set of pixels and number generated events into anything close to something I'd want to give this up for. This does not make me wrong-headed, a nublet, full of EPIC FAIL or indeed anything else, it just makes me what I am. ME. So, if it's farming crocodiles in Tol Barad, failing to get a mount/trinket/anything after 25518924 attempts, playing with mates, doing DS10 with any kind of buff (YOU CAN TURN IT OFF IF YOU DON'T LIKE IT) or indeed just sitting in Ironforge wishing the place was busier because it's my Home I'm happy. If you don't want to be here and you're happier being in something shiny and new, type /camp. Really, it's that simple.

The default human state does seem to be that there's no fun to be had sometimes unless you have something to moan about. I wish, some days, that meant this game cut a break, but it's never going to happen. So, I'll do what I always do in these situations and leave Trade: not by actually removing myself from the channel, but by leaving the city I'm in, to go somewhere else and do something I enjoy, because for me there's still plenty of that to do... :D

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

In Support of the One Region Auction House...?

How hard would the coding be?. D3 will set the precedent. So, how long...?

Fox Van Allen, in his latest Gold Capped post at WoW Insider, suggests five ways to fix the Auction House system in Warcraft. For those of us lucky to live on high-population servers there is, of course, not a problem to take issue with at AH sales generally. However, we are an exception and not a rule, and the more I think about it the more I believe Fox's second suggestion to Globalise the Auction House has some real merit. In fact the more I consider, the more sense this suggestion makes, because it's consequences would have a direct affect on the game and how it is played for everyone.

This would mean a US Auction House, an EU Auction House and an Asian Auction House (with possibly smaller ones that would be language-standardised). Just think about that for a minute: the people you play with in BG's and in LFR will be the people you're selling to or buying from. No more sticking items up at ridiculous prices at an interface that reflects only the needs and desires of the couple of thousand people on Server X (or if you're unlucky the couple of hundred people of Server Y) Everyone would have access to rare gems and items that might yet not be freely available on their own servers. Rare pets that were surplus to requirements on high-population servers could make their way to the low population who crave them so much... there is the possibility to create a market with a far more realistic value on items that are difficult to find.

There's also a number of other possibilities that might spring up as a result of this: those with AH savvy might look for low population realms where the competition for materials is less of a clamour and move characters there to set up Gathering Mules, whose sole task is to sell mats at the going rate but that are easier to farm in areas where there is less competition, and therefore that take less time to do so. I suspect far more people than currently do so would become AH 'speculators', with the chance to buy from a far larger pool of goods and to make cash from other's inexperience. I'd also fully expect a massive surge in AH addons and 'helpers', tracking prices of current items and helping anyone who decides to 'go make a bit of cash' to identify areas that weren't being currently exploited.

There is one final thought to consider in all this, the one that's about to become a very real possibility in Diablo 3, that the items you find and sell to others of great value in game not only net you in game gold, but can provide real money to boot. I know this possibility is a development too far for a lot of people, that a real-money AH in Warcraft would spell the End of All Things. It would certainly be a dangerous precedent to set, with a 10 million player base, and would likely see many people signing up not to experience the game content but to set up farming concerns, to become 'Professional' AH Speculators and Manufacturers. The fact that this goes on 'for fun' right now on my server (and at least two people I know in Guild reading this are making this a daily part of their game routine) makes me think that there's a fairly thin line right now between what's entertainment and what could be considered as contribution to an income, should the system have real-world currency inserted into it's mix.

I feel genuinely sorry for anyone who, for whatever reason, finds themselves trapped on a server where it's impossible to buy what they want from the AH to help them play. There are solutions to this issue that Blizzard could easily implement to alleviate the situation (server transfers) but, as many like to quote in trade of late, that doesn't make Blizzard any money. When all is said and done, that's the bottom line too: this is a game, it's meant to make money for those who sell it. The gold on the AH is worthless anywhere else (unless you're a farmer with a website and credit card billing, but we don't talk about them) and while that remains the case, your loss on a low pop server AH is the high pop server's gain. Although I think one AH for each region would be a great way to level the field it would, I believe, be the start of a dangerous move towards making this game less about the content and more about the real world concerns of those whose code we use in the first place.

Until it happens, I can support the One Region AH System in principle. If it becomes a reality however, that outlook is very likely to waver.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pop Quiz, Hotshot!

From my Twitter feed 12 hours ago... ^^

WoW insider thinks this is a 'curious' tweet. I read this last night and though the exact same thing...

So, pop quiz, hotshot, what happens in Warcraft 3 that might have some relevance on the future of current Azeroth?

Well, apart from the emergence of Arthas (which I think we covered in the last expansion) Warcraft III is the first appearance in lore of Panderan hero Chen Stormstout, who appears in the Bonus campaign 'The Founding of Durotar', available in the 'Frozen Throne' Expansion. Let me quote briefly from his Wowpedia entry...

Chen's journeys eventually brought him to the land of Durotar, and his latest brew had a plethora of strange ingredients that he feared would be too hard to acquire. He almost lost hope for his recipe when he was met by Rexxar the travelling Beastmaster. Chen asked Rexxar to retrieve the ingredients for his brew - a barrel of Thunderwater, the egg of a thunder phoenix, and a sprig of thunderbloom.

We are aware therefore that these Pandas like a brew. Their first recorded meeting with a faction on Azeroth also puts them on the Red Team, and it's not long before he's involved with the Blues too and at a place that some of us are aware has a forthcoming significance to Azerothian World events:

Chen and company went on a secret mission to Theramore Island to help the Horde find out why the humans were attacking them. They met with Jaina Proudmoore, who decided to help them out, after seeing what her father had done.[2] Chen helped Rexxar to defend Thrall and Durotar from Kul Tiras incursions. When the Horde was prepared they launched an attack that ended with the death of Grand Admiral Proudmoore.[3]

The Horde, we know, are planning to attack Theramore in what is likely to be the pre-Expansion flashpoint... so it seems fair to surmise that if Chen helped the Horde first time around, he could well be back to offer his support for the rematch... and what better way than to 'introduce' this new race to those who never did play Warcraft 3 than with their most famous son, already known to have roamed the lands of Kalimdor, leaving his kegs in his wake...? It also gives us a nice juicy hotbed of conflict and a compelling reason for Panderans to be forced to take sides: I'm also betting Jaina's not going to be signing up for the Panderan Fan Club any time soon if these guys were in any way responsible for the death of her old man...

We know that Theramore's days are numbered: is it possible that it's also going to be the place where Panderans are forced to pick a side for the forthcoming conflicts?

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Alpha Cite

Community Managers have posted actual screenshots of new spells tooltips in-game. It means they have a server they can easily connect to for that, and it's most likely the biggest proof.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that there is finally evidence of a playable version of the new Expansion in existence. With the Pandaria Press Tour coming up fast, and the new Talent Calculator now getting lots of people unreasonably excited it's clear there's SOMETHING to show people in the coming weeks. The question now becomes: what can we expect to see operational?

As MMO are showing us screenies from in-game, and talents currently being used, is it fair to assume that we'll have an answer to the stat-inflation question posed by Ghostcrawler? I think so, and I'm *hoping* this will mean a COMPLETE overhaul of all stat weights from Level 1. If this is the case, it could mean the days of running OP through previous expansions dungeons and raids might be numbered... especially if we're going to see older dungeons added to LFR (and I have no doubt this will be coming, considering the number of people who've run through DS) If achievements are going to be centralised, might we not also see a radical revamp of The new ID system's been trailed and we've seen Paypal added to it's functionality in the last week: what else might be on the horizon?

I have a wish list, and here's my most wanted when the Press Tour finally gets underway:

  • A COMPLETE Professions Update. You probably knew that already...
  • ALL Vanity pets BoE and tradeable across accounts. Same with mounts, please.
  • Normalisation of Heirloom stats to make levelling harder. Yes, you heard me. It should take longer to level, or what's the point of all these quests to begin with?
  • Questing as a viable way to level away from Five Mans.
  • More incentive to PvP (moar World PvP please), and an alternative to Arena and RBG's for Conquest Points.
  • All Classic Raids available via LFR, Cross Realm.
  • Moar fun. Possibly NOT to include too much Chinese Themed stuff, especially Dragons. Just sayin... '

What would you like to be reading about on the major sites in the next couple of weeks?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Stop! Audit Time!

You can never have enough stuff. Maybe I could delete SOME of it... ^^

I think it's time for an Audit.

This is the most characters I have ever had active at one time: EIGHT level 85's, all at various states of quest completion and with assorted dross in banks and Void Storage. I think it's high time I actually had a Proper Plan: there's thousands of gold wrapped up across two accounts that I could really do with releasing ahead of the Expansion. I also run three vanity banks across both factions, and I'm pretty certain there's stuff in all of these that could be deleted (though I'm not getting rid of the Mudskunks above for nostalgic reasons) With my Assessment due Thursday (and I'm almost done) I think an audit is a fine idea, so I can plan the next couple of weeks ahead while I wait for Blizzard to tell me about the Pandas...

I'm going to need paper, a pencil and a brain. As I can only manage two of those things this early in the morning it's high time I went and made a cuppa first...