Friday, May 04, 2012

The Predict via Twitter the Warcraft Expansion Release Date Contest!

Sometimes an idea is so simple and brilliant you can't ignore it. I'm going to be quite vocal this weekend about my decision to predict the Mists of Pandaria release date. This has resulted in an impromptu bet with my good Twitter buddy @wowmartiean, which we will cover in a separate post. This also began me thinking, I should get other people involved in this. It occurs to me that Twitter is the perfect social media with which to do so, and so I'm going to throw caution to the wind and pitch this before someone else does, because I think it's that great an idea.

The contest will open on Tuesday, May 8th, so you have the weekend if you're not yet plugged into the social behemoth that is Twitter to sort yourself an account. It's going to be simple enough: pick your release date, tweet it with  the hashtag #mopreleasedate and it's job done. There will be some rules however, so hang onto your guesses for now.

Oh and there will be prizes: five of them, to be exact (which will become clear when we start this properly) For now, if there were to be a prize that actually existed for this, the text would look a bit like this:

Colour and text subject to change. You get the idea.

You have the weekend to get yourself organised. Go to it!

[BETA] Getting Closer... :D

So, I'm a 580/600 Leatherworker on Beta :D

The latest patch has given a massive Professions push, and not simply the obvious.

No time to clone a neat name removal, this will do :D

I defer to @elsanglin who has informed me that my initial supposition that Chef Awards have gone is infact incorrect. I didn't think it would be possible that DALARAN cookery awards would be upgraded but yes, I have 154 of those on live. I'm quite stunned by this change, especially if Epicurian Awards will give me something more than just Dalaran recipes in the Expansion. It also looks as if all cookery stuff will be available from a vendor in Pandaria, if this tooltip is any indicator...

Is this the start of a larger change? PLEASE SAY YES!

Anyway, I have been distracted by food (no surprise there). Let's go back to the leather:

Interface change incoming!

First up, the searching functions in the window have been altered. PLEASE LET THE DATABASE BE CHANGING, let this be the start of an overhaul of all the Professions recipes... :D Sadly I don't have time this morning to check over all the older recipes but I will, oh yes. For now, I'll be ensuring I save mats to grab at least a five point boost with a leg armour craft before I even hit Pandaria :D

The key here for leatherworkers: Leather gear is just Sha Leather... hang on, what's Sha Leather?

Yes, I was confused...

Tanji leather has had a name change, it's now all Sha. Sha's that nasty dark energy the Pandas are having trouble with, and is further reflected in the new tooltip:

I can haz skillz!

So all basic recipes and leather gear is Sha leather, LOTS of it. As there are no skinnable dragons in Pandaria that I have found as yet, the mail folks are going to need Prismatic Scale. I sense a session of skinning anything with a pulse upcoming to identify the best sources of Prismatic before we go Live...

Scalable Enchants, eh?

By far the most significant change I'm reporting here is the fact that for LW-ers levelling, your leg armour will now scale with your progression. Note here there is no level restriction on the item, and it doesn't distinguish between Cataclysm and Pandaria gear sets. I attached this to my non-upgraded 397 set with no issue.

There is tons more, including mounts already being linked across accounts, but I don't have any more time today as I have to go travel through a 26 mile long tunnel and go see some mouse about a Magic Kingdom. I'll still be posting LIVE from a Hotel room in Paris, however, so you have been warned. You don't escape my clutches that easily... :D

Thursday, May 03, 2012

[BETA] New Shoots

Finally, some music has emerged from the beta. I for one am really rather excited about it.

The first 90 seconds of any Blizzard Loading 'Theme' will become ingrained on your memory, like it or not, and I think the return to the 'old style' signature here is very deliberately placed. The drums of war are sounding again, and this is mirrored and reinforced by returning us to the earlier musical style we will remember from 'times past'. However, once we get past 1.25, it's clear this isn't Azeroth any more: the main 'Oriental' theme is immediate, beautiful and evocative, with the two stringed 'voices' of our new Panda Guides setting the scene of what we are to expect.

At 2.25 we hear what I hope will be a selection of a longer piece, which gets me very excited indeed. I'm going to bet this is the Zone Theme for the Valley of the Four Winds, which is very similar to Nagrand in both feel and expanse and I sense this music is conveying the same sense of tranquillity plus scale. It's also one of the most beautiful pieces of music I've heard in game for some time. The fact it moves into a new Alliance/Stormwind Variant at 3.36 reminds me of how much of a signature piece that section has become. 4.23 gives us what I'm guessing is an Orgrimmar theme variant to boot (not sure, been a while since I have listened to the themes there, must rectify that)

We then arrive at what I'm going to also guess is a Mantid-inspired section at 4.34, as there are strong oriental undertones but it's not fitting any thematic style we've heard before, and at 5.18 there's more evidence of how traditional Chinese Music has influenced this composition. However, it is back to familiar territory at 6.36 where chanting monks make me remember that the Scarlet Monestart has changed, and there's a lot happening at home to bother people as well as the arrival of a new race.

I'd suggest you give this a few listens: there's a great deal of subtlety in this eight minutes that you can miss on a first pass. If I wasn't excited already for this expansion, the arrival of the musical themes really has dialled the anticipation up a few notches...

Two Toons.

Worth a look alone for the ancient Carlton TV Ident at the start.

I have never seriously considered the merits of Multi-Boxing. Up until recently I'd only ever used my second account in conjunction with my first to drag low level alts around dungeons, but recently it's become a great way of getting achievements filled in both places. With the Account Wide Revelations now having finally sunk in, it becomes apparent that if P is off doing something that would get her an achievement, it might well be an idea to pull W out as well to duplicate it. This therefore will require some practice pre-Pandaland to perfect, and so I have decided to stick P back into the Argent Tournament to run with the Lock.

The benefits of this are twofold: P still misses a number of the Tournament Mounts. W doesn't have any, same for pets, but may not as yet get either as we discussed yesterday. For now, it's just about gathering the seals, which the pair did for the first time last night with the minimum of fuss. It's going to take me quite some time to be able to cast spells on two separate machines, so for now P kills and W follows dutifully on behind. It's not an ideal arrangement but it is doing the job for now.

Bearing this in mind, the next time I get some cash I'll be moving the Horde Rogue to the #2 account so the Hunter can drag her about a bit more on days when I can't face The Plan. This might also be a Thing to Utilise with both accounts for the purposes of grinding Therazane rep too, thinking as I type. I doubt I'll ever be as proficient at this whole thing as my Husband, who can tank and play a mage making it look like it's two separate people (with ability and dps to match)  but it will make better use of the increasingly limited amounts of time I have to play.

Time is everything, after all. Making the most of what I have is always a priority.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


Been a while since I've had a mount drop. I'm rather pleased that this one's turned up when it has.

It's a fine looking beast...

The Fiery Warhorse's Reins have already dropped on my Mage in the last month, which did cause a fair amount of QQ'ing in these parts, but no matter, for I am used to farming until my eyes and fingers bleed. As there will be no flying mounts in Pandaland until 90 I was hoping I might grab this one or Anzu before the Expansion hit. It's beautiful, and it's worth the weekly farm since Elune Knows When to finally get it :D

Now, what will be #132, I wonder?

[BETA] One Hour in the Beta...

It's always the way: I'm away this weekend and have a bazillion things to do AND NO TIME and we get what looks like one of the most significant Beta pushes for a while. Let us see how much information I can pass onto you from simply one hour of poking about.

Well, there's a few bits here to start with...

Popping into the Guild vendor this morning yields a great many surprises. Yes, those are Heirloom Hunter legs (as yet unpriced but I bet they won't be cheap) Does this mean you're going to get an additional boost to level your Panda? It's not like you can buy them now to test, after all ^^ There's also a new pet AND a mount (L90 only) which doesn't look as if it is tied to any achievement, just your level. However, I'm rather interested in the Guild shirts... :D

Not much to look at now... :D Also: WTB GM ONLY SHIRT :P

For the longest time, I've proudly worn the ONLY Green-quality shirt in game, Precious' Ribbon. These three items therefore are rather special in their own right, but as of now there is no distinctive artwork to accompany them, all have the same dirty brown model...

Not seen that dialog for a while...

I spied a hunter with the new Tiger skin in SW about five minutes after I arrived and high-tailed it directly to the Jade Forest where I discovered that yes, many beasts were now tameable, INCLUDING CRANES NO REALLY I AM THAT EXCITED. However, there does appear to be restrictions. I could tame my L85 crane without an issue but the L86 one at 86 would not tame, which says to me I might have to try and get to 87 next week to see if this is then doable. I can see myself getting many, many of these fine birds which means my stable, already groaning with skins, is likely to collapse. Gonna need some new slots please Blizzard.

This little guy's not on my list... ^^

I also discovered a Wild Pet not currently listed in the Pet menu, which is making me think that there may well be more lovable critters to discover that aren't currently being revealed....

I have a plan for Pets, which I'm working on with some top quality help as I type, and will hopefully be able to discuss in more detail after the May Bank Holiday...

[BETA] Well, I'm Happy :D

Pets are now tameable for Hunters in Beta. Guess what I did first?

So what if it's not ready, release this expansion NOW Blizzard :D

I haz Crane :D (it's based on the tallstrider model, in case you didn't realise) Next up, working out which pets get tossed from my stable to accommodate THE ENTIRE CRANE FAMILY... :D

[BETA] Hunter Core Abilities

We have a new patch, and that means we have a bunch of new stuffs to look at. There's been a lot of admin cleanup for starters: swapping specs gives you a talent respec (not sure if this is intentional or not) and it's now possible to respec at trainers. There's also a list of Core Abilities for every Hunter spec:

Marksmanship Core Abilities.

Survival Core Abilities.
Beast Mastery Core Abilities.

This means of course there's one out there for Locks and everyone else, but I'll do Hunters first as its my primary Beta focus. These are the spells Blizzard a) expects you to have on your action bars and b) encourages you to use. NO MOAR JUST SPAMMING ARCANE SHOT nub hunters!

More importantly, the Pet Talent ability is now live:

A cunning Pig... :D
A Ferocious pig...
...and a Tenacious pig!

It cost me 20g to switch Hunter specs and 59g to do my pet. These figures are likely to change.

Will be more this morning, but this is just to tell you that talents and specs are moving along very nicely :D

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

We're Going to Need a Bigger Bucket...

Arsecakes. WTB [Renowned Guild Tabard] Stat!

The only problem with planning, I find, is that it can often create more work in the process. However, there is a lot to be said for taking that extra time, because you can preserve a lot of previous hard graft. Hence why, yesterday morning, my warlock swapped accounts, left the main Guild and then rejoined, nearly 43,000 reputation down. However, this means that all the potential work I was thinking of putting in on said secondary account is already done. It also assuages some of my disquiet of having Achievements across the board being amalgamated: W has been played almost as long as P has, was my second character to 60 (still remember that grind with fondness, EPIC MOUNT QUEST :O) and will always have a special place in my heart.

She's now heading up the #2 Account with pride, and (along with my Horde Hunter who took her place on the #1 Account roster) have a special task to perform before the Pandas arrive. W can garner 16 Crusader's Seals a day up at the Tournament, which will become her new home today with E, where they're going to both see how many Seals they can pile up before we hit the Expansion. I'm not going to buy pets for myself just yet (or mounts), I'm going to simply stock up the Tokens and watch the Beta Server closely. This is my Futures investment, waiting for the right moment to take the plunge.

W, Kraktast and the Achievement that made me change my plans.

The rest of what I believe is Version 3, Build 245 of the Bucket List remains pretty solid: Hunter #4 to 85, Pally to 85, do quests, make cash, wait. Ideally I'd like the 85's to happen before May 15th but I'd also like a car that doesn't leak on me when it rains and that's not happening any time soon... we will not get too stressed if this doesn't happen.

For now, I'm seeing how fast I can get the Daily Crusader Quest Run down to, and I really need to get E exalted with all her Horde factions so I won't have to worry about kissing bloody frogs... ^^

New Month, New Bloggers!

Nice Logo, Guys :D

May marks, I was informed this morning via my Twitter feed, the start of the Newbie Blogger Initiative. I'm going to be honest here, and point out something for anyone who's thinking of blogging for the first time: blogging relies a great deal on not simply what you write but where it gets read. I wasn't aware of this venture until 17 minutes ago, but I'm always a vocal supporter of encouraging new people to write and contribute, so I am inserting myself (not deliberately late but late nonetheless) into the party. There's another overriding advantage to starting your own online column: immediacy. You wanna write something, then just sit right down and do it!

I am therefore contractually obliged to point you to the following URL:

and to encourage you to sign up if you are a 'New' Blogger. If you are an existing Blogger and hadn't heard of this Initiative until today there is still time to sign up (as the deadline for doing so is May 1st and there's still a fair bit of that left even in my time zone) where you'll be joining OVER 60 SITES which have done the same.

I will, throughout May, be grateful for a subject to write about on quiet days be providing some posts for people who might be thinking about doing this thing for the first time. They will all have this logo for ease of recognition :D

Monday, April 30, 2012

Less Prevarication!

Like the people say...

Yesterday, I went into AQ40 twice: one on P, one on W. BOTH TIMES the Red Qiraji Resonating Crystal dropped, from the same first pack of mobs at the entrance. On a good day, that bugger has a 1.6% rate. Two in one day was telling me something, that I need to take W off my main account so I don't lose all the mounts she has or (indeed) the 100 pets she's now collected (101 if you count Nuts), so as I type she's doing the Account Shuffle, having moved the Hordie the other way before I went to bed last night. It makes a lot of sense to make her the Primary Achiever on the second account, as she has all the major Dungeon and Raid Stuff (TM) already covered.

I'll then need a list of all the Horde-only pets I'll need to pick up (if I don't already have them) It occurred to me last night that, assuming the mounts remain as they are with the tooltip race restrictions attached, I will never be able to put a Dwarf in a Trike. However, there may be exceptions to the rule and I'll need to check the fine print...

This however is a step in the right direction. To the faffing! Let's go!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Which the Bucket List is Revisited...

Amber!Gnome is scared. You should be too.

It occurs to me I need to have a rethink.

The whole 'account wide pets/achievements/mount' thing has kinda thrown me. I find myself looking at Erinys' vision of the future and finding I'm actually not that mad keen on everyone sharing everything, that my Warcraft life can be traced through the path of characters I have played over time and how I have reacted with them. Amalgamating everyone together makes sense on one hand, but I feel I'm being devolved of some individuality. Yes, I know it is only a game, but still, there is some discomfort in the situation I will find myself in. There is also the realisation that I need to look at my twenty slots over two accounts and make some decisions.

The biggest one, by some way, is the fact that Horde pets can currently be used by Alliance players on Beta. If Ghostcrawler makes good on his promise of extending this to include Mounts as well, the collector in me is likely to implode. I have no idea how many mounts that would provide me with, but it is considerable, and will then rely on me having a workable Horde 85 to level to 90. My 81 Hunter currently sits on the secondary account, and with the best will in the world I do not see accounts being centrally linked for some time. This means I think I'll be shelling out £15 to move the #3 Hunter from #2 Account to #1, levelling her to 85, and doing Tournament Dailies in order to snag an Argent Gruntling and to finally ride a Dwarf in a Goblin Trike. Yes, this is how far I will go for my pet and mount obsession.

You have permission to point and laugh now if you wish.

This also means that the Secondary Account will need some love, at least so far as to pad out the woeful mount/pet totals, and to fill in basic achievement gaps. Having spent a bit of time looking at who is probably the easiest to 'bulk up' in terms of stuff done, I'd say the Mage, Hunter #2 and Druid all have potential, so am likely to start focussing on all three getting love. Hunter #4 will not take long to 85 based on current gathering/faffing levels and then that just leaves the Paladin to max. I reckon this should give me plenty to occupy myself with. I may yet swap the Lock from #1 to #2 account if finances remain buoyant across the summer, who is well covered on both fronts and comes with a decent glob of cheevos simply because when I got bored of doing stuff on P I did them on W instead. In fact, she's two pets short of 100 and no-one on Account #2 has more than 30 pets to their name, so that might not be such a bad idea overall.

I could really do with Battle.Net login accounts all being joined, if only to save me some cash. As I doubt that's going to happen, it could be time for some fairly serious character remodelling...

No Holy Grail.

No really, there isn't. This is only a model ^^

Last night, one of my oldest (and most liked) blog friends failed to quit Warcraft. He did try, bless him, and he'd been building up to leaving for some time, but in the end... he made an important discovery. Sometimes it doesn't matter what you do, it's more about the people you do it with that matters. Everyone has their own Holy Grail, the 'thing' they are looking for that stops life being just that and makes it something else, something special. In a gaming context, this elusive quality is what everyone else keeps searching for but Warcraft still has an overriding command of, and that's people.

I have a Guild Wars 2 beta invite this weekend, and the brief time I've been able to play (when servers were actually up and everything worked) I was presented with a very different experience of gaming. It is easy to grasp why so many people are excited about this, in the same way I understand why so many people now have a home in The Old Republic. Backdrops are everything, conducive environments for people to immerse themselves and to enjoy an experience which is as much entertainment as a trip to the cinema or a football match. I can see myself enjoying GW2, and The Secret World when it finally appears, but (as I have said before) my heart belongs in Azeroth, even (I suspect) when many people have packed up and left.

The game itself is a particular aspect of enjoyment, but the people that play with me don't need to be there to make it a comfort. They are there to make things special, and they do. I also understand that lots of people who played Guild Wars will be hoping that they can return to the game and recapture some of the feelings and emotions they had on the franchise's first run: that's why movies have sequels, after all. You identify with characters and situations, you want to see them react in a bigger world than just one event. For gamers, they don't just identify with the worlds, they grasp an individual importance of their place within them, and the relationships they formed with other players in order to defeat foes or gain rewards. This is the particular Grail that developers are trying to find, to wrench the dominance of MMO's away from Blizzard. This is the angle news and bloggers constantly focus on: how many subscribers? How many people prepared to put their money where their hearts are and commit? Is this really the key to success?

I know a lot of people who read this Blog play Warcraft to make virtual money. Gold is big business, and the Gold Community is one of the most fascinating and compulsive sub-communities within the game. It's a testament to the architecture of the client, the desire for people to equate wealth with success (which is a completely different argument for another time) and the fact it is possible to do this and not lose out on any of the other aspects of the game. The same goes with the Mogging community, a pursuit you can engage in with no adverse affects to anyone else who is playing the 'Raiding' version of the game, or the 'Dungeon' version, or the 'Achievements' variant... you make of this what you want to be happy. The key comes in identifying what that is, and what is becoming apparent in the last year or so is that Developers are listening to the desires of gamers. Town Hall meetings, beta weekends, it's not just stress testing the code. Everyone's looking for the Holy Grail, trying to identify the one thing it is that's going to repeat the success Blizzard had... and that's the problem.

You see, there is no Holy Grail. That mythical quest is different for every single person. There might be a bit of overlap here and there but really, everybody has a different idea of what they Need to be Happy. Warcraft's entire success didn't come from years of careful planning, of doing surveys and demographics, it happened completely by accident. If you subscribe to Chaos Theory, which I am finding increasingly fascinating, you could argue that there was no point in trying to make a game that covers as many bases as possible, you just need to create something that is fun, with the potential for lots of diversity, then release it to the general public and just hope. You don't go looking for the Grail, it will find you. Ask Indiana Jones about that, he grasped that significance after all.

Above all else, never forget that to enjoy yourself is one of the most satisfying things you can ever do.