Saturday, May 12, 2012

Building the Perfect Beast

10 Pop Points if you work out why this video is here. I'll be impressed!

I knew, as soon as the scope of the Battle Pet minigame became apparent, that I needed a Proper Plan.

This isn't just about randomly collecting pets any more. This isn't about saving cash to buy the ones I miss. These guys are EVERYWHERE, across the entirety of Azeroth, and I need to find them. Battling is of secondary importance initially, just working out where I need to go and what I need to snare is more important. Based on the information mined by MMO this morning I'll be able to sell any pet I don't need to boot, by caging them and sticking them on the AH, so the financial implications of this are also significant. All the data I need is available too, on the Beta, I just need to work out a way to arrange it in a way that works for me.

Hence it was, before I went away to France, that Project Minipetter was born.

I'm not a programmer, and I don't have the first clue how to (gotta be honest here), but I knew enough about how HTML works that what I wanted was basically a bit like Wowhead. That site is, simply put, a massive database with a front end bolted on to search it. What I was particularly interested in was a version just for the Pets, where I could stick in data as the Beta went on to remind me where all the pets lived and which ones were wild, which were purchasable and which were just utter pains in the behind that I would never own. It then occurred to me that if this was something I was interested in, then you lot might be too, so it would be worth making that data publicly available once I'd finished faffing.

Before you say owt.. yes, I know this is doable on the WarcraftPets site, at least with the current pets. I wanted to have something I could work on while I was playing the Beta, in 20 minutes during the day, and that would build as my knowledge did. I wondered if I could come up with something... if I could find someone willing to make the system.

This is where Twitter comes in. Gawd Bless it and it's ability to ask someone for a favour...

For the last couple of weeks, @caerphoto has been my code monkey. I think he's actually enjoying it as well, though you'd need to ask him yourselves. Emails have been passing between ourselves with increasing regularity, as I find new ways to make him think. As we now stand, I have a working framework where I am already importing Beta Data (yes I'm doing it manually, yes I know this is not necessary but I can't make witty one liners with a data mining programme) and it's looking like it's going to do exactly what I want it to. @caerphoto is also being lovely enough to host it on his site, for which I doubt I will ever find the means to thank him enough for (though I have some ideas) As the 'site' becomes more accessible I'll let you guys take a look at it, and hopefully you can add suggestions as to what we could do to make it even more awesome. For now it is very much a 'Secret Project'... :D

In short, this isn't the perfect beast just yet, but it is well on it's way... :D

[MOG] Cheap-Ass Mogging :D

Sometimes, less thought is more productive.

My priest has, for quite some time, been a neglected part of my game time. She languished sub-85 for an age, mostly because levelling as Holy is horrendous even with the quality of life improvements made to help you. I bit the bullet and went Shadow for the last 1.5 levels, and now I'm actually rather enjoying healing in LFR, although healing subtlety are words most people don't even have in their vocabularies. I decided therefore, on a whim, to try and redesign her mogged gear to something that a) actually looked a bit priestly and b) that reflected her personality, which has always been about getting the job done well without really worrying too much about the way she looks whilst doing so.

There is an inherent problem with Gnomes and dresses, in my opinion: they just look WRONG. Everything is squashed and compacted because of frame size. Shirts and trousers therefore look so much better. I briefly flirted with getting Tier but was only able via a run in MC to get the T1 shoulders to drop... which ended up being my starting point. The Mantle of Prophecy looks fabulous on the gnome frame and the red, black and gold became the basis of my colour scheme. I was able to utilise the Shadow Council boots and gloves I already had, as their details matched well with the Demonweave Raiment I chose to be my blouse (it's a bit too ostentatious to be a shirt I think ^^)  I was wearing red trousers for a while until I decided that, as is often the case in Azeroth, black trousers beat all-comers. I therefore spent Justice Points on Legwraps of the Master Conjurer which I think focus interest back to the top part of the outfit.

I even changed my hair colour. That NEVER happens :D

If I'm overly precious the shoulder 'red' isn't an exact match for the blouse 'red' but I rationalise this as it's because the shoulders are older than the rest of the outfit (I inherited them!) and I wear them to remind me of my heritage, with the rest of the outfit my no-nonsense approach to healing. It's my equivalent of the jacket my father gave me when I was old enough to appreciate its significance...

Considering this took an hour to put together last night from AH purchases only, I think it worked out rather well.

  • Mantle of Prophecy
  • Eidolon Cloak
  • Demonweave Raiment
  • Silver-Thread Cuffs
  • Shadow Council Gloves
  • Slavehandler Belt
  • Legwraps of the Master Conjurer
  • Shadow Council Boots
  • Black Duskwood Staff

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Wager of Sorts... :D

I may have done something rather stupid.

When I pinned my colours to the flag on my ideas for the MoP release date, I (rather foolishly) made a bet on Twitter with my video making mate @wowmartiean. He's let me have July 24th as my potential P-Day whilst he's taken... well the other 364 days ^^. Trouble is, we have (as yet) no forfeit. He's asked me to suggest potential penalties for losing said bet, and I'm keen to find something that isn't demeaning, dangerous or that involves nudity... because, well... just NO.

I have three potential suggestions therefore, and I thought I'd throw them at you guys in an attempt to gauge your thoughts on their suitability.

Option One: Loser must obtain a t-shirt for Winner to proudly wear, proclaiming the following:

This Loss is
merely a Setback!

Loser must then wear said shirt and post photograph on the Internets, where mild derision will follow.

Option Two: Loser is forced to post a video where they proclaim the following:

They had a bet and they lost.
The Winner is clearly a better judge of Blizzard's intentions than the Loser.
The Loser will then take their Warcraft main and make them Yell this
fact in the Capitol City of their home server, record said fact and post the
resulting video on their website.

Option Three: Winner and Loser do a live Twitter conversation where we do pretty much the same as Option Two, but WITH MORE CAPITAL LETTERS.

I'm putting this here for @wowmartiean to see and digest: when we have a mutually agreeable arrangement in place I'll stick the details onto the Twitter Hashtag Competition page.


Time & Motion #1 :: Elixir of Water Walking

In the first of an occasional series inspired by nothing in particular, just a desire to 'see how long it would take', I do random things and blog the results. This morning: making Water Walking potions.

Dalaran: best for Fish Quests (until we get the Pandas)

I do the Dalaran Fishing Dailies as often as I can. It's not simply because the reward bags are far superior to the SW ones, it's because of the Water Walking potions. As I only have the Shaman and Priest who don't need them, everyone else needs a hand, and these things are especially useful in places like Darkmoon Island and Tol Barad where avoiding land mass speeds up the fishing process. This morning I decided I'd see how long it would take to make a stack of my own, as the main ingredient of the potion, the Glassfin Minnow, can be fished directly underneath Dalaran itself.

The process is, it must first be stated, pretty time-consuming:

  • To make 1 Ethereal Oil requires 2 Glassfin Minnow
  • To make 1 Elixir of Water Walking requires 3 Ethereal Oil
  • This means you need 120 Fish for one stack ^^

However, with the right alt this process can have advantages. I chose to use my Druid Alchemist (who is Elixir specced, thus giving a chance for extra procs on manufacture) who is not yet maxxed in Fishing skill. I also chose to fish only from pools which would give me a chance to catch the Sea Turtle as well (I didn't, but I like to maximise opportunity :P)

It took just under an hour to get the fish I needed, and I had no competition at all whilst I fished. I increased my skill by 22 points, from 458 to 480. Using my fishing hat and pole, I had a skill of 521 and only caught a junk item once.

One hour's work. Not too bad, really.

The resultant 60 oil made 22 Water Walkers. I intend to leave my Druid in Dalaran and repeat this process until a) she's maxxed for skill and b) I have a couple of stacks of Elixirs to use when the Pandas appear. This also means I'm in the right place for the Daily without a trip up.

If you have a main or an alt not yet maxxed for Fishing and want an item that sells well or that will be useful to have in your bags come Pandaria, you could do a lot worse than spend an hour grabbing these fish and finding a friendly Alchemist to make them for you... :D


TIME AND MOTION CONCLUSION: Worth the work for a consistently useful item and the fringe benefits. Pygmy Oil from the Suckerfish sells well, or the fish alone sells to Alchemists levelling, of which there will be a fair few pre-Expansion... plus these things also have a chance to drop from the Dalaran Fishing Daily bags. Kill several birds with one stone!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

[BETA] Cooking up a Storm...?

Cap from Wowhead. Speculation from me... ^^

This morning, in the latest beta push, this item appeared in the game files.

There was an undeniable flurry of interest after it's existence was pointed out. Wowhead, who were first with the datamining, decided to interpret the appearance of a bind to account cookery book as follows:
Possible indication that secondary skills will be cross account; if you have 400 cooking, your alts could too.

Yes, I'd agree that this is a possible indication. It could also be as was pointed out by @elsanglin on Twitter as simply a way to test a way to transfer recipes across accounts. That green text after all isn't being any more specific.

I however have another theory, and if this were to prove correct it would pave the way for secondary professions to stop being the chore they often are on alts and simply boil down (no pun intended) to dropping some gold.

Books that are bound to accounts are nothing new, after all. The Cold Weather Flying book, for instance, was purchasable at maximum rep on your character of choice for a mere 500g to be sent to any alt who needed to zip around Northrend, but couldn't easily make it to Dalaran to learn the skill. The book, as a concept worked brilliantly, so why not make one for each level of cookery? By paying a set cost and learning the book, you'd have all the recipes you needed plus the appropriate skill without any of the annoying faffing around that accompanies it.

There's also a precedent that's been set on this front: Blizzard have already done this with bandages. If you Resurrected a Friend with a scroll recently they'll arrive at L80 with a maxxed First Aid Skill, regardless of their ability previous to resurrection. The programming is already in place, why not use it and give the game another gold sink: could it be that First Aid, Cookery and Fishing will all be learnable to the Cataclysm 525 skill level come the Expansion via these handy-dandy books?

Don't expect to see the books exceeding that level until the next expansion, but if this were the way things were panning out it would make a great deal of sense. The major downside to this of course are the number of achievements attached to Cookery, but one assumes that with some changes (make the achievement not for learning recipes but for cooking their resulting goods) it wouldn't be hard to amend them to fit the plan...

Would be we be lucky enough that you could do this with Archaeology too?

[BETA] Going Bananas?

I'm beginning to flag after what's been an insanely busy week. The last thing I needed therefore was a MASSIVE beta push with what looks like some very interesting changes to Professions. But I'm getting ahead of myself again. Let's start with the important stuff: Bananas.

No, I have no idea either :p

The Karasang Wilds is open and with it another massive zone, the scale of which you really grasp when forced to ride everywhere. Removing flying mounts until 90 is a masterstroke, and it means finding connecting flight points is pretty much a must. I went to do that today, plus explore and dig, when I finally got a Mogu digsite to appear.

Look! Sparklies!

Mogu sites have a chance to spawn an Ancient Haunt once you've dug a statue, which yields 22,000 XP with rested and an additional set of fragments. I hope this is repeated with the other race digsites and not simply the Mogu: Trolls could have fetishes, for instance... ^^ I also got my first blue item of the Expansion:

Bet it'll do more later on in the Expansion :p

I also discovered the Cookery Trainers, but I don't want to talk about them just yet. Let's deal with some fairly significant Tillers news first:

Note the World Boss marked on the zone map... :O

Halfhill seems like the place to be, not only for Cookery but also for the Tillers rep. There's some choice nuggets on that front as well: a number of incomplete NPC's now have 'faction' bars and an indicator of what items you might like to bring them to improve your standing:

Two sisters, many tastes.

I'm going to take a stab in the dark here: the items these ladies like are reputation turn ins. You'll make them on your farm, and as you do you will increase your reputation with these fine sisters, who will in turn sell you items to improve and upgrade your farm. You'll become less of a stranger the more you can turn in... :D

Still needs work, but further along than last time :D

I also got a genuine surprise when I explored Halfhill: an achievement 'progress window' popped up simply by clicking on a statue :D

You're going to need to keep your eyes open... :P

This opens up a whole new set of possibilities in game: if it's actionable, you're going to need to click it, because you never know what might happen when you do...

I'm going to detail the Cookery stuff in a separate post: for now I'm off to see if I can find any more of these statues... :D

Panda on Turtle... I'm sensing a pattern... :p

Achieving (Almost) Everything.

A sense of satisfaction, but only if you work for it... ^^

We don’t want to make reputation account-wide. We think that removes too much of the gameplay of having an alt. Harkening back to the blog, the goal is for players to feel free to play their alts. If you have a cool mount on character A, then that might be an issue. Being exalted on character A so that enchants are easier to buy doesn’t seem like the same issue. (What I mean is, it’s a short step from there to saying character A has better gear so you aren’t going to play B).

The discussions of account-wide items continues in the US Forums on the back of Mounts becoming available to every character on Beta. What is becoming clear is that while vanity has become a more significant consideration than it has ever been before, Blizzard are not prepared to sacrifice hard work when it comes to gearing. I had been concerned that grinds that resulted in a physical improvement to a character would end up being minimized, and this includes gear as well as enchants. After all, every new Cataclysm faction has a selection of 'starter' dungeon gear which was pretty much essential for me when I initially hit 85 on P. Making this a given when one account member hit the required level would be trivialising a lot of the basic levelling experience.

However, we are still not clear on grinds that reward a mount as well as such bonuses (Kurenai is an older example that jumps out for me as the gear items are pretty much outmoded) and I find myself reading the following and wondering what it might mean:

For this reason faction rep is going to work a little differently in Mists of Pandaria and, we think, will feel better for players with multiple characters.

I'd like to see this 'change' properly clarified. Ghostcrawler's Blog post is suitably vague, I suspect with good reason, as this is a project that is literally being programmed before our eyes. I'm trying to think of ways that you could do this without requiring a complete code rewrite, and I think we might see some gainful employment for a new group of NPC's that only become accessible in phase when you hit certain achievement plateaus. These will be the guys and girls who sell the armour and enchants, with a separate (locked) NPC for vanity items which will only open at Exalted. The more I think about it, the more the Molten Front 'model' looks as if it could be utilised: at key points (in this case Friendly to Honored, Honored to Revered and Revered to Exalted) your phase changes and vendors become visible on one account that will not be on another. Unlocking the phase is only possible via grinding the reputation.

The other way to do this could be using tokens. If you can only purchase said items by hitting Exalted, they could be used to buy both enchants and gear, leaving mounts and the like to to be purchasable for cash. However I'm not sure Blizzard would want to introduce more currency into an already confusing model, so I'd say the phase idea is the best bet.

However, this isn't the most significant piece of  account information released this week. Oh no. This is small beans compared to this revelation (via WoW Insider):

For all intents and purposes, assume that the game doesn't really understand the concept of a WoW license. The account-level achievement system will all be based on the account and not each individual WoW license attached to it.

This, for me at least, is HUGE. MASSIVE. Transferring W to the second account was completely unnecessary, as it turns out. I can effectively stop grinding on all my alts at the Faire for pets (with the exception of points for professions) I need NEVER WORRY ABOUT ANOTHER SEASONAL EVENT AGAIN. All my various pets and mounts, scattered across the two accounts, will all be gathered into one central repository.

It also means a pretty significant rethink across my entire 'casual' strategy leading up to Pandaria. Considering all of this I suspect there may be an immediate shift towards getting Therazane rep to Exalted on everyone as I can pretty much guaranteed the shoulder enchants are now a far larger priority than they were...

Needless to say, this morning I feel that Blizzard's work on Achievements is almost as good as it can get.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Those Must Have Black Trousers...

You're warned, this is a Mogging Post.

Work in Progress #277: Still not certain.

I am searching for the right purple outfit.

This particular search has gone on for some time, since before I knew mogging was coming. My problem with the current crop of purple items in game is that, if you're looking for mail, you are pretty much out of luck, unless you want to look like a clown. Subtle is hard work. The introduction of the new PvP Tier however gave me some cause for minor celebration: shoulders were a HUGE sticking point as I deliberately wanted something with less defined purple elements. It also gave me a pair of boots that would work with the all-important black trousers.

My Nelf Hunter was a dry run in an attempt to nail this outfit down: I don't think that look would have worked without hair to compliment it, and I stand by that assertion having tried the outfit onto my main. Because her hair colour remains deliberately static I keep coming back to purple. It's my favourite colour for a reason.

These trousers, for any mail users, are frankly indispensable. If I wasn't forced to mog my belt I'd hide it altogether as the skin itself has its own one 'built in' which frankly looks much, much better than the one I have chosen here. For now however I'm not comfortable with anything else apart from the legs, boots, shoulders and chest and I suspect there will be much, much faffing in the weeks to come. I post this here in the hope that people may have some ideas of alternative items that might work better, especially on the hands and waist.

For now, it is back to the Mog It Drawing Board... :D


With the break to Paris and the release competition, I'd totally forgotten this week was Darkmoon Faire, which meant it was time to further advance the Mount Collection:

Bear Mount. Style optional.

I didn't like this bear when I first saw the skin, and nothing has changed in the intervening period. It's an ugly saddle and the whole 'floaty eye' thing is just... well... odd. However the more I think about it this bear fits in with the Slightly Creepy Faire Thang. I'm halfway towards having the tickets for the other mount, and one more month of handing in the Artifacts and doing Dailies should get me there (I think) after which... well, that's P done. Tickets become surplus to requirement until the Expansion and (assuming) that something will come along that's worth doing the work for...

Next up, therefore, will be a Tournament mount, unless the Circuit of Disappointment yields fruit. I'm currently farming (semi-seriously) at the following locations:

  • Utgarde Pinnacle (Blue Proto Drake)
  • Heroic Setthekk Halls (Anzu)
  • Normal Stonecore (Vitreous Stone Drake)
  • Normal Vortex Pinnacle (Drake of the North Wind)

The last two I am yet to properly solo but will be attempting to do so after I'm done with OU Assessments. There are also a bunch of other mounts I can obtain through (not appallingly difficult) means:

  • Stormwind Steed
  • Darnassian Nightsaber
  • Ironforge Ram
  • Quel'dorei Steed (all four of the above from the Tournament)
  • Sandstone Drake (almost transmuted all the Truegold required)
  • Grand Ice Mammoth (needs moar cash after I drop 26,100g on the Vial of the Sands :p)
  • Ultramarine Qiraji Battle Tank (needs a large glob of luck and MUCH DIGGING)

My plan therefore is to aim for 140 mounts before the Expansion hits... and then start again :D

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Expansion Release Date Contest :: LES RULES

Yes, it's Contest Time!

It's Tuesday. WHEN Mists of Pandaria releases, this will be the day it happens (traditionally to correspond with US maintenance) The only thing we don't know as yet is which Tuesday it is going to be. That's where you, and this contest come in.

The principle is simple: you need to predict the next World of Warcraft expansion release date. I'll need both a month and a Tuesday for your entry to count, so go look at your calendars before you commit! When you have an entry you're happy with it is time to utilise the modern marvel that is Twitter, including in said Tweet the following handy-dandy hash tag:

If Twitter is a foreign country to you, this might be a fine opportunity to sign up and enjoy the entire experience. Mashable has a decent starter guide if you are a complete newcomer, with a no-nonsense accompanying guidebook to what's what. Don't be daunted by the new technology, it's engaging and shiny, and if you need someone to talk to you can find me @AlternativeChat where I will be happy to give you a cheery /wave in 140 characters or less :D Oh, and you don't need a mobile phone to enjoy the experience... :D

We've anticipated that more than one of you might like to pick the same date as well, and so there will be five winners for this contest. Each Tuesday from now until the eventual release date has five 'slots' that can be filled by a potential Tweet. So if you pick the same Tuesday as someone else don't panic, as long as there's still a slot on that particular Tuesday free, your entry is sound. The prize, as discussed last week, will be an elegantly-tooled t-shirt informing the world in general of your guessing prowess. This shirt will be available in either blue or red, depending on your faction bias, in a choice of sizes and either as a 'normal' shirt or an alternative feminine shape for those who prefer them. As a reminder, here's the text you'll receive on your shirt of choice:

Our crack team of web monkeys will regularly collate the entries and a website will run as the contest continues to help you keep track of who has snagged which date. Once Blizzard officially says the word the contest will close and the closest five entries to the actual date will run off with the prizes. In the event of lots of people being close, we will pick the five entries that were received the earliest, so there is also merit in getting your entries tweeted sooner rather than later...

Any queries, issues, or abuse that this contest is just a shameless attempt to waste time before the expansion appears, tweet or mail me using my details on the Q&A Page.

Let's get to it! Tweet away and I'll look forward to posting the first set of entries this time next week, which has been officially deemed Tuesday Contest Update Day :D

[EDIT: Due to the (hugely encouraging) number of early entries a Grid of Guesses is already up. Click here to see who has already entered and what dates they have taken!]

Monday, May 07, 2012

MoP Released July 24th, 2012.

2012's Top Holiday Destination. OFFICIAL.

I have already said (in certain places) that I predict a July release date for the Expansion, at which many people have scoffed. Last Thursday night this included my Husband, who challenged me outright to explain my reasoning, and so I did. When I was done he leaned back in his PC chair, looked at me, and gave me a look that I don't see that often. It was the 'yes actually you might have a point there' look. If he thinks I might have a point, I'm confident enough to share with the group.

Here's what I told him.

The Loading Screen music is done. This means, by extension, that the Official Soundtrack is written and recorded, as that initial eight minutes is a 'mash up' of all the main themes we'll hear in zones. This indicates that the 'atmospheric' side of the game is pretty well advanced.

I also mentioned that as soon as we start seeing Panda voices, then I'd say things are really moving along. I notice the two Racial Leaders have their voice emotes in game as of Friday morning... :D

Recipes are normally some of the last items to be added to the game files. Friday's beta push sees them in droves, and although not all of the items to make them actually exist, this give a clear indicator Blizzard is working to ensure that the crafting side of the game is ready to go.

However, we've seen no Raid Content, and this is normally a fairly major part of the testing process... or at least it used to be. Firelands and Dragon Soul however underwent an awful lot of internal testing and relatively little 'live' testing before we saw either of those. I am going to guess that Blizzard intends to keep a lot of this closer to their chests than they have before and we will see as little if not less testing than has been previously offered. This is how I outlined what I'd consider the progress will be up to my theoretical release date:

MAY: Diablo 3 releases on the 15th and as everyone who had a Free Pass to beta also gets a copy of this game, I'd expect to see a significant drop of in testers, with only those committed to levelling and participating remaining, which means that Blizzard will want to get as much feedback as possible prior to that point. I'd also expect to see the game in a shippable working state by the end of May.

JUNE: Raid testing, further tweaking, with the event to link Cata and Pandas starting at the end of June.

JULY. Hype. Buildup. Blizzard work out what will be in the post expansion patch. BANG.

However, there is one question that remains: why launch in the middle of the Summer? Summer's normally an awful time for the game, with no-one around to play or fill raids. However, if Blizzard chose to release in July, with the Pet Battles alone as an incentive, I think people would play. In fact, I think they'd do it in their droves, and I think this may be a key that Blizzard is counting on. I think Blizzard are one of the few companies that could release a game when they wanted and not have to worry about people not buying it. Take up is never going to be an issue when you have given a million people the chance to beta, when you know all those people have already paid subs for a year to your existing franchise to have a chance to see your new ideas first.

I'm staying with this, and if I'm wrong I may well be forfeiting something as a result. We will see. For now, I say that Mists of Pandaria releases July 24th 2012.

You'll get to book your own release date starting tomorrow.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

In Which I Am Not Here

So, I am not here. I am in a Novotel in Paris, which is fabulous and has by far the best room service I have experienced for some time (though in fairness I've not been in a hotel for a while) and I walked 10 miles around Disneyland Paris yesterday according to Fitbit. I had a plan to post stuff but frankly... It can wait. I hope you can forgive me for not being here and posting until Monday night...because really this is the Most Fun I have had in a very long time.

If you will excuse me... Paris awaits!