Friday, March 23, 2012

We Know Why You Don't Like Warlocks...

Warlock HQ. Could do with a makeover... ^^

We interrupt this barrage of Beta News to address an important question, posed by everyone's favourite upright mammal, Cynwise. He asks: Where did all the Warlocks go in Cataclysm? His answer is frankly spectacular. There are graphs, and statistics, plus a ton of proper maths. I cannot do it justice, and so I felt obliged to first bow before its awesomeness before offering a slightly more frivolous alternative response.

He informs us that Warlocks are less popular now than they were at the end of Wrath. They're not particularly hindered in the DPS department either, despite what the Naysayers in Trade will have you know. People are still levelling them too, but somewhere between rolling and Endgame, something happens and people stop. Cynwise concludes therefore with a simple answer to his question:

People don't like playing Warlocks. They're just not fun.

This would appear to be born out by the changes I'm seeing to Locks being implemented in Beta, but really I don't think this gets to the real root of the problem. I believe the answer to Cyn's question is far simpler to rationalise, and we should look instead to basic human psychology for an answer.

People don't like playing Warlocks because (in this game at least) they're the REAL Bad Guys.

'Hang on!,' I hear you cry, that's not how it works. We have two factions, and at any given point if you're in one you're likely to consider the other as the Bad Guys. It's Horde v Alliance or vice versa? Well, that's true to a point. Yes, we are conditioned from L1 to beat the stuffing out of each other, because that's a requirement for the basic Game Mechanics to operate. However, it's very rare that one side is ever the real enemy: there are atrocities on both sides, and over the years the lines between Horde and Alliance have often blurred and overrun. There is one uniting Source of All Evil however that crops up again and again, without fail, and has existed on Azeroth since The Sundering.

The Burning Legion.

Demons are dangerous, wherever you go. They've done the Big Bad gig on various occasions, they've corrupted all and sundry across Azeroth, Northrend and Outland, they're the Go-To Guys when you need summat to turn purple/green and smell nasty and Warlocks are their mates. Locks are the ones with the Fel/Shadow Energies at their disposal, and however you like to dress it up, they're one step away from the utter evil that consistently screws Azeroth on a daily basis, and I think this association is the real reason why they're never going to win the Azerothian Popularity Contest. However much the head of the player may consider their Warlock to be loyal to either Horde or Alliance, the environment pushes them back to being one step away from the thing we're told needs to be destroyed.

I have a Lock who I've staunchly stuck with almost as long as my Hunter: they were levelled to do Garr in MC, as it happens, back in the day when you would banish all of his adds and release them one at a time to kill them. In those early days the taint of long-term association didn't exist, we were all still finding our places in the World, and Locks had real skills to contribute. Over time as CC has become less important across all classes and players have instead considered those who are easiest to play as more preferable to those who rely on thought and understanding... well, Locks have never been a one button class, let's face facts. Playing Demo currently is not something you can do without thinking, but as Cyn points out and I know from practical experience that's not a reason for decline, it's just a reason for people to complain it's too hard. Pandaria brings some genuine and much-needed change for the class and one can only hope this will encourage people to grasp the potential... assuming they will look past the stigma.

In my mind I consider W the Lock as a long way away from Evil. I know what energies she is capable of wielding, and instead of picking shadow or demons as her weapons of choice it's always been fire for her, the least demonic of the three trees. I realise having read Cyn's awesome post that this is why I feel comfortable coming back to her, and I'd play her regardless of any facts that might indicate the class was in decline. If I role played, she would always make sure she was one step ahead of any corruption: if she felt herself moving to close to the Legion's influence she would be strong enough to walk away. Having killed so many demons in her time there is a clear distinction between what is Bad and what is Right, and I wonder if that only comes from having played long enough to be able to see a larger Game World picture. The Casual Lock might end up having some real issues separating out being Good against coming from the side that is so obviously Bad wherever you go...

Warlocks aren't bad, they were just wireframed that way. Maybe it's time to stop worrying about making them more fun, and instead we should be distancing them from the real enemies of Azeroth. Let's hope that in Pandaria we can find an enemy that's not being sponsored by the Burning Legion for its firepower... ^^

[BETA] You Can't Change Everything...

The last thirty-six hours have been a bit of a revelation, to be honest.

When I checked my mail yesterday and found my Beta invite I automatically assumed I'd be joining a set of servers with tons of people I knew: after all, most of the people I play with in Guild have been there nearly as long as I have. I am aware just how many people took the Annual Pass not simply for the shiny mount: you were told you'd get to see the new expansion before anyone else. For someone like me who's always wanted the opportunity but never had it, it was simply too good an offer to pass up on, and as I pay for my game time in advance, not a terrible stretch to afford. What I didn't do at the time was consider the practicalities of what Blizzard were proposing. Now we are here, in Beta Time, and it's apparent what was promised isn't quite as attractive as it was when originally offered.

There is one overriding practical issue to consider: one million people signed up for the Annual Pass. Without a massive investment, having servers to accommodate all those individuals on release... I think it's fair to say that it was never going to happen regardless of what people were expecting. It's also clear, that if you go look at the sequence of events leading up to yesterday, Blizzard haven't actually done anything horribly bad either. Mat McCurley has done a write-up in the last hour on WoW Insider on the legalities of this subject and frankly, if you're reading this and you feel aggrieved about what's happened since the Servers went live, you should go read that instead. When all is said and done, this is all about practicalities. Sending out a small number of Beta invites in the first wave makes perfect sense: lots of stuff is broken, more stuff simply doesn't exist. Just because you're not there now does not mean you won't be there eventually either, but patience is something many gamers don't have when it comes to subjects close to their heart. If they don't like something, they want to believe they have the power to change it, and that's good... most of the time.

I'm going to have to mention Mass Effect 3 now, aren't I?

The gaming world occupies a unique position when telling narratives, and also in the way it develops its future content. Can you imagine what it would be like if a TV station allowed it's audience to decide the fate of a popular shows spin off by taking over the minor characters and directing their actions? Maybe one day this will happen, but for now the Beta allows developers to 'test drive' their plans and interact in a totally unique way, but only to a point. That was the rule, until those people who decided they didn't like the way ME3 ended stepped in and caused a coup d'etat. For me this is a worryingly dangerous precedent: what's the point in people coming up with what they think are good narrative strings if they can be changed to something else that a vocal majority decide is better? What's to say they are any better over time anyway? Once you have a creative narrative, should it not have the right to remain untouched in its particular context?

I've heard a few people comparing what happened with ME3 to what has happened here, that by people power Blizzard could be forced to invite more people to be involved, and that's all well and good up to a point. It seems to me, what Blizzard needs above everything else, is people who can provide them with decent feedback. That means getting those who (I know) run the best sites around the Net a chance to log in and do what they do best: data crunch, theorycraft and stress test. I really think a million random people all mucking about because they can is a waste of time and effort. Reading Syrco's post on Being a Good Beta Tester is as thorough a demonstration as any of what you ought to do without thinking: it's not just about standing in SW with a L20 Panda showing people you played for four hours and got this far. It's about understanding how things work, and if they don't, being able to intelligently explain why.

The Beta Invitation system frankly shouldn't be nearly as random as it is, not after seven years. Blizzard say they know their community and want to foster a renewed sense of understanding within it. Why shoot yourselves in the foot then by leaving out people for Invites whose insight could be vital in strengthening the fabric of the game? I can think of many, many people who I follow on Twitter who are vastly more intelligent and articulate than I am, who should be playing this game and reporting back on it even at this early stage who aren't. I think, rather than just letting anyone in, a sense of order and distinct selection would have far more benefits than drawbacks. Maybe I'm being overly simplistic, I don't know, or maybe I'm missing a ton of people who are reporting findings that I don't know about, but if you have as much information as Blizzard clearly have at their disposal I think I'd want to start inviting people a little more intuitively.

When all is said and done, Blizzard's one half of the problem here. However, without them there would be no game, nothing to fight about, and ultimately this whole world we live in, with its real and virtual overlaps wouldn't even exist. You have to ask yourself what is acceptable in certain circumstances, and sometimes you just have to chalk certain things down to experience.

Next time someone offers you something that seems too good to be true, it probably is. You then have to decide whether you take a chance, or you don't. It's up to you. I just hope Blizzard learns the lesson that maybe next time it would be better just not to invite everyone to the party, and instead spend a bit of time and thought writing out the invitations first...

[BETA] Digging for Victory

Yes, that's three new slots guys...

One of the areas I have a personal interest in over the Beta Period is the craft of Archaeology. It is well known around these parts how much I hate the thing currently and how it needs a right good slapping to get it near to being anywhere near fun. We already know we have both 'light' and 'dark' Pandarian races who will contribute to our new efforts (thanks to Wowhead) plus a bunch of solves exist in the game files, but how these will fit into the current scheme of things is as yet unknown. As you can see from the above, the spaces have been made for the Panderan and the Mogu. What happens next is for another Beta Build.

For now I can tell you that solving Tolvir Archaeological Finds will reward you with 37,700 XP (with rested bonus) and each complete solve is giving five skill points (I tried Tolvir and Fossil, I'll do a couple of others for comparison but I'll bet that will change depending on level)

More news as and when I dig it up ^^

[BETA] Hunter News!

My Trap Launcher is a Buff :O

I am coming to the realisation that, actually, I might to have a serious go at playing with the Hunter on Beta. I'm slowly grasping that a lot of things have fundamentally changed, the main one being that I have no buff stick any more, and with it no minimum range. I must come to remember and accept I am melee :/

Bearing this in mind I took myself out to the Twilight Highlands to look at one of the shots I hastily chose last night before going to bed as one of my new Talents (I'm going to need some Vanishing Powder and a proper rethink on what I pick next time around) Then it hit me, I'm earning XP again.

There are commas EVERYWHERE!

I don't do five figure damage anymore, I do two figure (comma) three figure damage now and it jars, it really does. I think I want a squish and not a way to divide large numbers with punctuation. But that is beside the point: that's rested bonus (I had one and a half bars) so this is telling me yet again I'm being pushed to the new zones to level, and doing it in old content is pointless. I'll be doing the old 'complete lots of dailies and hand in on launch' trick again, I think.

Then, I got sidetracked, and made this:

It shows Binding Shot and shows me that, with some thought, I could probably make a half decent video if I wanted to. This is probably both a good and bad thing :D

What I do know now, without a doubt, is that this is a bigger change than I've seen in game for a while. This is, in the scheme of things, roughly akin from going Vanilla -> TBC and that was traumatic, but ultimately liberating. I think I need a sit down, a cuppa and to actually form a Proper Plan.

[BETA] A Walk Down the Valley

Right, something a bit better, with some actual use. The Starting Area Theme starts at 2.03 and gives you an idea of what you're going to get with your music turned on. I walked everywhere to try and make things a bit smoother, and you can see people doing cool Kung Foo things as we go. Now, if you'll excuse me I have a mission to go on :D

[BETA] Video Test #1

I suddenly have a huge amount of respect and admiration for anyone who can work out how to even post a Video to You Tube. This has done my head right in! This does however mean I can now do the following:

  • Make a simple video
  • Post it to my own You Tube Channel (TheGodmotherUK if you care about such things)
  • (Hopefully) link it to my Website

Next up, making something that doesn't look nearly as shaky and horrific. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

[BETA] Not There (Yet)

Shouldn't you be on a boat somewhere rescuing people? ^^

Unable to be patient whilst my L85 was copied, I decided I'd make a L1 Monk and head to Stormwind. I learnt the following in the process:

  • The Character Creation screen for Stormwind has become far more 3D and generally awesome. I suspect this change will roll out across all factions.
  • You can make a monk that's not a Panda, but there's no training for you in SW as yet. I assume the same is true of any faction who can do Kung Fu.
  • The game looks better. textures appear a lot smoother, shadows a fair deal more defined. I'm using the default settings and it just looks nicer. This may warrant further investigation by those people who actually know about these things.

My reason for going to SW was simple. I wanted to talk to Professions Trainers.

You weren't here before. You're new, aren't you?

On my circuit of the City I picked up a number of new NPC's, obviously placed for deployment at a later date (most notably there is a Draenei Shaman at SW Harbour with a scrying bowl, plus Night Elf Druid and Priest trainers at the harbour.) There were a large number of critters polymorphed too (gotta love Mages) and some of the new Warlock demons on show. No-one can get to Pandaria yet, it appears, so nothing to report on that front. But I digress: let's collate all the Professions News I've found.

  • The next step up for everyone will make you a Zen Master, training your skill to a maximum of 600. To do this requires 500 skill and 57g (48g at exalted rep)
  • Nothing is currently available to train in any of the Primary Professions. Wowhead now has a list of raw materials, recipes and other items available data mining. (thanks to @Aralosseien via Twitter for the heads up)
  • Two new recipes can actually be trained in Cookery:
Fish cakes and meat balls. Not much, but it's a start!
  • These recipes appear to use 'common' food substances as has been the case in previous levels of Cookery. I need to get my Panda a fishing skill :D
  • You can buy the new Inscription ink (Starlight Ink) from the Inscription Trainers, but there are no sign of any glyphs in SW that I can find. 
  • UPDATE: Having gotten an 85 to SW to learn the new Zen skills, it transpires that First Aid has 2 bandages to learn and costs lest at Zen level than the other professions:
That's a lot of damage healed :O

It appears therefore the reason why there was no Professions News in the MoP media tour was because... there is no news, at least not yet. There's lots of things suspended in limbo however: let's hope it's not long before we can see how things will pan out.

In the meantime, I need to try and find a fishing trainer in the Starting Area... :D

[BETA] The Unbearable Lightness of Beta

It's actually real. It wasn't a wind-up.

I had an early night last night, and I woke up this morning feeling awful. I'd fully intended to go back to bed after the children had gone to school, especially as my husband's taking time off to have Man Flu everywhere. I wasn't even going to check my e-mail... but there it was. I didn't believe it at first, and went to Battle.Net to double check. Indeed, there was no mistake.

So here I am, in the Beta.

That's my (now L4) Female Panda, up there. I'm going to need a while to decide on what my opinion is, before anyone asks me what I think of everything I've just seen and will see in the weeks ahead. I'm not prepared to rush to any hasty conclusions so soon into the process. What I will say, and what is abundantly clear just from the 90 minutes I experienced is that Blizzard have worked very, VERY hard. Although there are quite obviously a great many recognisable elements from the game I know that exist in the Starting Area, this is a new place and it looks that way, just as the Draenei and the Worgen starting areas were clearly a distinct experience.

I've already queued P up to be transferred to the EU server, with gold, bags and heirlooms. Until she arrives, I'll be poking about the starting area with all the many MANY other Pandas, will be sticking in screenshots where I think there's something of note to look at, and trying to be as dispassionate as possible about what I take in. For now, let's have some pictures and some initial impressions.

Starting Area: Click for Bigness.

There's nothing too complicated in the Starting Area that I've found so far. I'll let other people spoil you for what actually happens but there isn't anything at all taxing as you begin. The biggest difference you'll see between this and Live is that, as you level, there's no need to train. Abilities appear on your action bars as you are informed you've picked up a new level. I suspect this may cause some issues with custom UI's... ^^

An Amberleaf Scamp causes trouble...

AoE looting is available from the off, gathering fans, and there are plenty of spawns to go around (in fact it's a struggle to get away from certain places) but it is very clear we're in Beta Land: many animations are frozen, and I've seen a fair number of blue and white cubes around the place. I'm also betting that some of these name plates are going to change before we make it to release:

I think I get the 'it's a girl, put a bow in his hair' references
I saw in the Press Tour interviews... ^^

There's lots of little things too, probably best at this point we do the bullet point doobrey:

  • Choosing your character look has become far more fun, and is far more detailed from the off
  • Panderan female hairstyles better be available for other Female races!
  • Music is suitably 'relevant' but is very clearly Blizzard's doing: yes, you will think you're in Kung Fu Panda, but no it's not as bad as that might sound
  • All the animations for moves, plus running and jumping are polished and feel natural
  • There are some absolutely gorgeous buildings and settings. Clearly a great deal of thought has gone into making the Starting Area unique.

The Rows. Note the tower made out of barrels.

However, for me at least, the biggest surprise came with my Vanity Pet.

Warbot out (as I can) and there's his pet bar... ^^

As soon as I could locate a mailbox I pulled out the selection of Vanity Pets I knew that would be waiting, including the Warbot (which I can only use on PTR's because it was never available to Europe but I snagged one before they imposed the rule) Only when I'd been mucking about for a few minutes did I notice that a) I had a pet bar for him and b) he obeyed the basic commands. Using the 'move to' button gave me a green targeting circle and I could send my vanity pet to a specific location. Is this the start of the Pet Battles Functionality into the UI?

I have some Real Life to take care of today, but once that is done I'll throw myself back into the Beta for another play about. For now, I leave you with some bonsai:

I really do need a plan, don't I?

[BETA] Oh Hai There!

That'll be that, then.

BRB Loading Beta Client ^^

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

[BETA] Some Quality Zen Time.

... aaaand BREATHE...

As a Wide Man once said: 'It's all going off.'

When Blizzard says 'The Beta is soon' that's weeks, possibly days before the World explodes. Suddenly it's no longer about speculating on what's in store, there's a chance to actually see it for real. IN PERSON.

As a result, time to make some serious decisions. And take lots of deep breaths.

Assuming I get my Beta invite via the Annual Pass, all Beta Posts will be marked as such for those of you wishing to avoid such frivolity (see title above). Twitter Posts will also be marked to reflect this. I will also be setting up a separate page for all the Beta Discussion, as much for my own reference as anything else. I intend to focus on rolling/playing a Healy Panda and will take P into the 85-90 grind, whilst simultaneously seeking out/chasing down information on the following:

  • Professions
  • Faction Rep that impacts on Professions (looking at YOU Tillers)
  • Archaeology
  • Fishing
  • Observing pretty things
  • plus there will be undoubtedly lots of General Faffing... :D

For the record, I'm going to leave all that analysis of actual abilities, talents and shizzle to the people who understand such things better than I do. I make no bones about it, my main interest in all this is seeing how EVERYTHING BUT THAT WORKS. In situations like this I think it's best to play to your strengths. I suspect some Hunter guff may slip its way in but I'm no BRK, just so we're clear.

On the Non-Beta front, expect there to be discussion on preparing your characters for a new Expansion, including the process of preparation for a new Class/Toon to enter your family... :D

For now however, I'll be off to wait for the EU Battle.Net site to come up so I can opt my 11 year old son into the Beta... :D

The BBB Writing Challenge!

In response to this post, we interrupt the regularly scheduled stream of gubbins to bring you some fiction. Yeah, you heard me. Be afraid, it's story time...

The Challenge: Write a short story. I don’t care how short, or what kind of story, or even what form your story takes. BUT… your story, poem, dirty limerick or whatever you choose to do must incorporate within it in some way the following words;

  1. juicy
  2. slender
  3. vain
  4. shaft
  5. torch
  6. star
  7. hidden

Bearing all this in mind, we present our brief vignette. Required words are bolded :D


The Greatest Reward of All.

Her slender hand wrapped around his, and any words became redundant. Closing his eyes, the past was back where he wanted it, no longer impeding his present. Her skin on his, the warmth of the touch, the simplest of gestures that meant more than anything in the world.

He was home again.

They sit, bodies almost touching, still not ready to make contact anything more complicated than this, and remain in silence as the boat is being unloaded. He is still in his armour, having merely removed his helmet while he almost ran from the jetty to be with her, needing to revel in the sensation of what it was like to not be fighting for his life. He hears her quietly inhale, her body tensing as they carry the first body bag up and out from the hold. Then there is a sob, one of the gathered crowd closer to the quay losing their composure and crying unhindered. The Stormwind Standard draped across the canvas bag ripples and flutters in the early morning breeze, before returning to rest. Even the gulls know this is no time for chatter.

The bells from the Cathedral begin, tolling the cost of Deathwing's demise.

He'll keep his fear hidden for now, the very real understanding he is lucky to return here at all. Wyrmrest is in tatters, the Accord decimated. The few that return from the North with him know just how large the cost has been, what is yet to be counted in this latest blow to the Alliance Forces. There have been too many battles and not nearly enough easy victories in the previous seasons. Salvaging anything positive is a bonus: it has been that way since Arthas fell. He can't even tell her that the Prince of Menethil has been finally put to rest, no-one must ever know who now wears the Crown of the Lich King. Stormwind's greatest hero made the ultimate sacrifice to allow him to be here, to sit by her side, and without him no-one on Azeroth would have been left to assist Thrall in dispatching the errant Aspect of Earth.

He opens his eyes and turns to look at her, face illuminated by the rays of early morning sun.

Her memory had sustained him in the darkest of days, the torch he had carried as inextinguishable illumination. He needed to survive so he could tell her the stories, because he knew she would demand every juicy detail in the telling: no skipping, never any skimping. They would sit in the room above her father's shop talking by candlelight, or by day beside the Canals whist she repaired the never-ending stream of Military clothing with skill and care. She was always listening, never without an insightful response: as sharp as the needles she always carried, the silver shafts with which she plied her craft with such ability and ease. Hidden in his heart, safe from swords and claws, was the understanding that she was all he ever wanted, that her love was the only real defence he needed. He must return to her, to tell these stories. All the rewards, all these achievements were in vain, nothing without someone to share them with.

Without her, he had no meaning at all.

The war in Kalimdor was intensifying, he'd heard the Officers talk of an atrocity in Stonetalon on their return from Northrend. The new enemy was still our oldest foe. At some point, not long from now, it would come back to the Blue Standard against the bloody Red Banner. Us versus Them. The Horde's star was rising, Garrosh's dreams of power becoming less about posturing and more about domination, subjugation. Even the Horde's own people felt the depth of the new Warchief's anger... but for now, the rest of the world could wait.

He closes his eyes again and feels the warmth of her hand in his. This is all he needs to feel complete.

For him, she is all that matters for now.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

You are NOT Prepared... ^^

Verify range to LARGE PILE OF SPARKLY LOOT! One click only!

Let us now consider the awesome (that will be) AoE Looting.

One of the things I REALLY liked when I did my one month SW:TOR trial was the fact I killed stuff in packs. It was pretty rare I'd take one mob at a time, as I recall: when my mini-packs would die, pretty blue and green shafts of light would appear, indicating where I had loot and that some of it was of higher quality than other bits. I'd click on one mob, and there it all was, in one place.


There's a reason so many people are excited about Blizzard's AoE Looting announcement.

As a skinner, this is pretty much as good as it gets. This way, I can pile up huge amounts of mobs and just loot them all in one hit. There's a possible downside of course, that people can come in and steal ALL OF THE SKINS, but I'm already thinking ahead on that front, and part of me thinks Blizzard might be too. Skinning targets can be 'tapped', I'm wondering if that could be linked into AoE loots so if you get all the stuff off mobs you 'mark' them as yours at the same time. Again, we're at the whim of Subjective Information Dispersal and won't know the answer to these questions until someone either a) fills us in or b) throws us a Beta to play with.

It also makes soloing instances for loot even more attractive: you want a ton of Silk Cloth? Not going to take long at 90 to steam through an appropriate levelled instance and pile up bodies. However, this then throws up some additional issues:

  • Many people only loot what they need, leaving items on mobs as a result, especially when questing. Will there be an easy way to pick and choose what loot you take and what you can leave from multiple mobs?
  • Bags are going to fill up a lot faster. Blizzard can't help you with that. Time for BIGGER BAGS.

Doc Brown's 'Goldmaster 9000' Patented Gold Making Hat. Just add effort!

With the Gold Making Hat on, if it wasn't enough that there's going to be a load of new Pandas running around needing things to put their stuffs into, there's also going to a ton of people who realise that even with the Void Storage, they need MOAR SPACE FOR AOE LOOTS. The Honorable Gentleman for Boston, Mr Van Allen, has already touched on such Pandarian money making strategies, and I would urge you consider his recommendations.

I can already envisage a great game which will involve seeing just how many mobs I can kill and loot simultaneously... :D

When the Dust Settles...

It all looks deceptively simple... ^^ (From Wowhead)

All the talk in Guild last night, when all was said and done, was about Farms.

In a December 2010 interview with Gamasutra, game designer Jonathan Blow criticized FarmVille for being designed to create an atmosphere of negativity, requiring an unprecedented commitment to the game, and encouraging users to exploit their friends.[12] In August 2011 a court heard that Adam Hamnett, of Greater Manchester was so desperate to buy virtual animals for his FarmVille account that first he robbed from a blind man, Brian McKenzie, and then murdered Peter Boustead when his friends threatened to report the matter to the police.[13][14]

Sensationalism aside, putting mini games inside other games is really nothing new (Day of the Tentacle, anyone?) However, the introduction of the Tillers in Pandaria does seem to indicate a distinct sea change in Blizzard's approach to how you can 'play' this game, and it appears to have been aimed squarely at the 'collectors', if the spiel from Wowhead is an indicator of what we have to look forward to:

A special perk when gaining reputation with the Tillers is your very own customizable farm. You will be able to acquire livestock, plant fields, and decorate your building as you gain reputation.

I'm betting that you'll be able to get some of those (100 or so) Wild Pets from your Farm to add to your Pet Battle Team (still not going there yet, oh no) What isn't yet clear (and I'm sure with the amount of interest in this particular part of the game it will be soon) is just how like Farmville this is likely to be: after all, if the Tillers are a Reputation Grind, once you reach Exalted there's no point in continuing to play. Unless, of course, your Farm itself can become a Gold Generating Resource. If the pets you get are Soulbound (or indeed if any other resource) then this isn't nearly as significant a move, and could easily be considered a gimmick. However (for instance) if a Farm had a chance to produce key resources used in crafting, lets say items you could use in your Cookery, then the entire picture is subtly altered.

Then I find myself thinking that Tillers reputation past Exalted isn't a waste of time, it's a way to (passively) generate gold, and then we open up a potential Pandora's Box of possibilities, depending on what I can make/sell outside the auspices of the minigame itself. You could happily say goodbye to Dailies as a gold-generating resource: you just keep running your farm. Even if your excess raw materials could be sold for gold, and not even passed on to another player for gold or onto the AH, you have a self-contained income. No more tearing about doing repetitive Dailies any more, you earn your money offline, or while you're Raiding. You create your own micro-economy simply by letting the Tillers do the hard work for you.

Needless to say, once I'd considered this as a potential result, running a farm becomes vastly more attractive. What we need now, as is the case with a lot of things that were 'revealed' yesterday, are some more details...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Oh I Say!

Bashiok, I think I love you :D This post just appeared on the EU Forums. In bullet form, the following:

In Pandaria, you can do/will get the following:

  • Teleport to Archaeological sites
  • More digging at sites
  • Staffs and wands craftable!
  • Confirmed Archaeological dailies
  • Cap to 600 on Profession Skills
  • CRAFTSMAN TOKENS (OMG Called!) for pets and toys
  • Mix and Match Tokens, use one to buy another (HO YUS)
  • Exalted will be 'tough to hit' ^^
  • Loot Rage: tokens allow second go at boss loot :O
  • Proving Grounds : 'Lored up Solo Instances where you can chase achievements'
  • Mounts hidden around Pandaria :D:D

Right, so why did you not bother to mention most of this to the Press Tour people, exactly? ^^

WTB Moar Please, and soon!

In Which An Image Won't go Away

It started when I loaded up the washing machine an hour ago for the first laundry of the day.

I'd woken up early, because I wanted to read the Panda News. When I'd digested as much of it as I could stand I knew I'd have to walk away to let it all peculate around my brain. New zones, new dungeons, so much shiny... but the stuff I wanted to know wasn't there. No professions. No real Hunter news. Nothing on how the rest of the Game World would react to all this change. Today was all about the Pandas, after all, the other stuff is sure to come along later. So off I went to work, and as I was loading the machine it hit me.

Something is not right with my picture.

I'm one of those people who processes her information best in a visual form, and bearing this in mind I tried to visualise what was bothering me. I saw my character weighed down by bags: the Vanilla one, the TBC one, the Wrath one, plus bags from Cataclysm and now Pandaria. Each bag has it's quirks, it's own sets of rules, and although there are similarities none of them are exactly the same. That's good, don't get me wrong, variety is great, and it's clear to see how lessons have been learnt as this seven year journey has progressed. However, I'm forced to carry these bags, they have items in them I can't put anywhere else. I really want one 'container' for everything. I'd like to be able to pack everything into one case and carry it everywhere and not have to obey lots of different quirky rules that have been left behind because they're not End Level content, they're just things that happen on the way to it.

This morning, I realised, I'd been given a shiny bag full of great stuff but none of the things I actually thought needed to be packed, and no apparent thought to all the other stuff I'm still having to lug around. I'd like one container for the lot. The Pandas may be giving me an 11th character slot, but they're still making me haul their own baggage.

Yes, I even made a graphic.
The suitcase is available to buy here.

The item squish hasn't come, and as a result I can't help but worry that certain things might have been glossed over in an attempt to focus on Blizzard's attempt to 'bring the fun' Yes, this is good, and I have no doubt that people will be flooding back to the game (especially Druids :D) The fact remains I'm not comfortable, this isn't making me excited nearly as much as I think it could do, and it's all because of the things I don't know yet and nothing to do with the things I do.

I'm loathed to post this revelation for a number of reasons: it sounds like I'm moaning, and I don't have any real reason to. There's tons of great stuff presented to us here: perhaps it's because I had to wait a week and I unduly hyped myself up for things I thought would be discussed and haven't been. Perception is a dangerous thing, after all, and you're never going to please everyone. The fact remains that all the information I've seen has been just that: information. There's deliberately no spin on any of it because the sites I'm reading aren't there to do that now, they're here to give us the low-down and it's up to us to come up with the reactions. All I've seen thus far has been unduly positive and frankly, that's entirely understandable considering the great things that have been announced.

I don't want to be a dissenting voice, but I'm uncomfortable. Maybe it's all this excess baggage that's weighing me down, I don't know. I'd like to think there will be more and I know where will be, but I'm going to put my cards on the table now and say, I'd like more actual news and less entertainment.

God, that makes me sound so negative, but you know, it's exactly how I feel.

The Beta announcement frankly cannot come soon enough.

In Which Everyone Is Happy... Almost.

No changes here. Yet.

I was thinking last night how it would be possible to present an original spin on the massive amount of information we were going to get thrown at us by the Press Tour. 'There'll be no way' I concluded, as everyone who was there has got it covered. I was right. There's no way I can make a better job of this.

Except I can point out one glaring omission. Where's the professions information?

I've checked WoW Insider and MMO thus far, and I've read the Pandaria FAQ twice. There's information, but none of it is related to crafting. Cookery gets a nod, Archaeology gets a new branch, there's some glyph info.. that's about it.

I realise gear is the last thing to be finalised in an Expansion, and historically professions are near the bottom of the pile in terms of being sorted on Beta. However, I think most people agree the entire system's borked and needs an overhaul, and it would have been reassuring when all this information was presented to at least HEAR SOMETHING.

I'll spend the rest of the day being excited about the wealth of new stuff we have to look forward to but I have to admit, there's a bit of me that's really sad. I'd hoped for at least some indication things would be looked at, that we might finally see some love for those of us who craft.

Here's hoping it will appear eventually.


Signed, a Sad Panda.


Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Day Before Monks Came.

The following should be sung to the above top quality tune (either Blancmange or ABBA will do, your choice)


I must have logged my toon at eight, because I always do,
My mail, mog items, sold last night and so much gold was due.
I must have read my Twitter feed whilst LFR came round,
And having seen the woeful Morchok dps, no doubt I must have frowned.
I must have left the group when the first loot row made me whine,
And logged another alt, instead deciding I would rather mine.
I must have logged for lunch, to read webpages and reviews,
A sandwich made to munch.
And still on top of this my warlock's dps is lame,
The Day before Monks Came.

I must have left my seventh LFG at half past two,
Where all the other DPS were wearing greens, not blues.
I'll have been reading Trade and General sadly through the day,
Without learning anything or really hearing anything they say.
At five it's AH Scan, there's no exception to the rule,
To stitch up all the noobs, to make their Auction Programs look uncool.
It's LFR again, undoubtedly the trash will kill us with it's purple rain
Oh yes Ultraxion's drakes will mean the newbies will be shamed,
The Day before Monks Came.

I must have joined the Guild Mog Run at eight o'clock or so,
And steamed through Blackwing Lair to grab some cloth items to go.
I'm sure I reforged watching players arguing in Green,
What item goes with this? and that the Bank is where you always should be seen.
I must have farmed for mounts, about a quarter after ten,
There's lots I don't yet have, so I like to try for most of them.
I won't have won a thing,
Despite farming for several months, it's cloth or pointless rings.
The RNG it hates me and it's that I'll always blame,
The Day before Monks Came.

And logging for the night,
I must have checked to see the NDA was watertight.
Then wondered how tomorrow's news was going to change the game:
The Day before Monks came...

Roll on 7am tomorrow... :D