Saturday, May 19, 2012

[BETA] Random Items of Interest.

The benefits of aoe looting in action. 10 cloth in one go \o/

The Hunter is L87. I got the last five bars farming an area of the Beta that allowed me to pull in over 150 cloth in 40 minutes, and as a result I won't be broadcasting the location too obviously for now incase a) it gets shut down and because b) I'd like a crack at it on Live first. That's a spot for a new Potion of Plunder if ever I found one...

As you can see, as you ding you are given useful tidbits of information, including which dungeons you can now play in. The new Age of Information also tells me I have Stampede... except I don't, as I have two exotics in my 5 slots right now and am rocking a SV/MM dual spec. I'll need to go sort that out tomorrow, then.

Right, what else did we discover on or Archy-themed faff today? Ah yes, kites have changed.

It's not a kite, it's a hand glider, or it will be...

Either it's a bug, or else they've decided you don't sit on the kites any more, you hang under them. Whatever the issue, it needs work.

I'm also amazed at the number of new critters that have been added to the Pet Battles stable:

One of four newly-listed pets I've come across today.

Mini pets are quite frankly EVERYWHERE. You can't go into a single zone without tripping over them and they are easy to identify by the class markers on their portraits. I'm hoping my UI addon's not going to have a moment when we get to Live as a result. I found four pets on my brief digfest: The Tanuki above, a Malayan Quillrat plus both a normal and Shy Bandicoon. This makes me think I need to get a wiggle on with the pet database... :D

Finally, MMO reported this morning they'd had a sniff at the working Theramore scenario, which I think is another indicator that the release date is sooner rather than later. It may have been closed off for now, but there's a fairly obvious clue as to who starts it in game:

Don't mind me in the Throne Room, move along now...

Time is moving on. Things are becoming more and more finished. Expect some BIG beta pushes starting next week, I'd say. In fact I'd expect to see something major VERY soon... :D

[BETA] Digging Up More History

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE let this be a parachute cloak type item :D

The latest data mining from the current beta Build hinted at some fairly significant changes to Archaeology: crating items, achievements for multiple solves of the same artifacts and some cool new helpers in your digging endeavours. What the data mining didn't indicate is what might be a fundamental change to the business of artefact construction. Looking at what I've found this morning, I'd say we'll no longer see you solving items that become 'grey' trash to vend, but that every solve will count towards creating something of value.

Let's show you what had happened to my previous solves when I logged in this morning to demonstrate what I mean.

Low level fragments are no longer grey, they have a purpose.

I'm going to guess that this will be how Archaeology in Pandaria will pan out:

  • Each Pandaren site has six solves, which rewards a digger with X fragments
  • Each solve creates part of a larger item (Y) which you need to combine with a number of other of the same items into a crate, which you will then hand into the Pandarens for a reward.
  • There is the chance on solving with your X fragments to make a Pristine Item (Z) with a higher value:
Normal solve of a Mogu Coin

Labelled 'Test Project' on the Beta.

Note the green 'Pristine' rarity and the increased sale value. I'm betting if you want to just vend them you can, but that handing these in to a quest giver is likely to yield some rewards. Looking at the relative sale prices of these items I'm also going to suggest that you'll need either 5 or 10 of the lower value items to combine into a crate (as I know Blizzard like to keep these things simple). I'm also betting those rewards don't exist yet as the Archaeology interface is pretty much as it was since Beta began. Let us hope the love is coming soon...

This then begs the question of what happens to all the other archaeological sites. I am going to assume, as datamining confirms the existence of crates for the Vykrul, that we might see this new method of solving retro-fitted to the framework once it has been tested. Certainly the solve frequency increased once the Beta began, it would be logical to assume this method would be employed across the board, but as yet there are no indicators in the Old World to support this. However, it is still more profitable to solve in pure XP terms in Azeroth than in Pandaria. I am increasingly of the opinion this will change when the game goes live.

As I now have a rare active I will be digging to solve it, and rest assured I'll keep my eyes on any changes to digging and solving... :D

Friday, May 18, 2012

[BETA] How Soon is Now...?

Like you needed an excuse to level Engineering for the Expansion... ^^ Picture from Wowhead

We're about to get Beta Build 15699 on the Servers, and as you can see from the above, things are beginning to look rather well though out. Engineers have not only been gifted the above item, but it looks like they have two new mounts to craft. Icons and achievements are coming thick and fast, but the most interesting piece of datamined material was highlighted by MMO: there's a new set of items for Brewfest [*]:

Cap from MMO's site. Stat inflation ftw ^^

As was pointed out on the World of Warcraft sub-Reddit, Brewfest begins September 20th. These items are clearly Pandaran ready. This could be a fairly decent indicator therefore that we'll get the Expansion before this holiday hits, which is likely to mean once the dust settles on New Tristram we can expect some fairly major movement on the stuff we've not yet seen. Pet battles are very close to being done. Scenario data is buried in the game files. I'd not be surprised to see a flurry of activity as a result this weekend...

You know, that late July release date's looking more and more possible... :P

[*] Hallow's End items are also updated.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

[D3] Stop It, You're Embarrassing Yourself :D

It's my Wizard by his banner, being 'moody'. Crow optional.

I'm really rather glad I never took up the Diablo 3 beta.

I'm having a whale of a time lumbering spoiler-free through this new chapter of the Good v Evil 'thang': it's like I've never been away. No monster is safe, no portion of the map remains unexplored. The crafting is genius and the Achievements a master-stroke. My only complaint?: needs to be lighter. I have my gamma hacked up to max and I still can't see properly. However, apart from that little niggle, I'd be hard pressed to find a fault with the entire game.

As a result, this is going to be my last Diablo 3 post.

No, I'm not giving it up, far from it. You guys came to read about Warcraft, and I'm aware that going off topic can get a bit frustrating for some people. Add to that the fact that (and I know this is becoming apparent to a few people already) this is a game that is a world away from Azeroth. It will act as a useful distraction on the nights I don't want to think, however... right up until the Pandas arrive.

It's also a great way for Guildies who I've not seen since we beat Deathwing to come and say hello and do something new without having to worry about learning a completely new set of Boss tactics. That alone makes D3 a great edition to my gaming stable.

Needless to say, I do have two Demon Hunters past level 10. However, do not underestimate the awesomeness that is the Floppy Haired Angsty Wizard... :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Social Network...?

Big Brother. The Future. You decide.

Last night, I spent the best part of three hours attempting to log into a game.

It's been a while since I had this problem. Diablo 3's popularity isn't just on the back of them effectively giving away 1.2 million copies of the game: it was an anticipated behemoth before you factor in the Annual Pass takeups. There was a key difference this time around: a lot has changed in a decade, after all. Last night wasn't a problem with an untested or buggy game. The problem was the social networking framework Blizzard required you to connect to in order to play it.

You wouldn't think that and Facebook have a lot in common, but they do. The intentions here are clearly noble: once you've done all the single player content there's a good chance you'd want to play with other people, after all that's what Blizzard games are all about. All your friends are playing Warcraft and Starcraft 2, so let's use the same 'social network' to allow you to connect to them too... except last night, Blizzard clearly underestimated the takeup. I suppose we shouldn't be surprised, Blizzard are notoriously good at not realising just how popular their games can be. They're also not going to spend excessively on reinforcing their hardware capacity... you know, in case no-one turned up and they were out of pocket ^^ Actually, I suspect last night was less about the 'lack of hamsters' and more about Blizzard having to deal with a system that's simply never had that much load on it before. We won't know unless they tell us, of course, and I doubt that kind of information is ever going to be forthcoming.

The issue that a lot of individual players will have completely overlooked in their zeal to play is the Global Play aspect of the D3 experience. I saw a pointed Tweet last night by the Brit gamer @totalbiscuit which showed a screenie of a message: 'Diablo 3 Servers are full' (for single player) and although I can sympathise, I don't think Blizzard's primary interest in all of this isn't the needs of the one player, it's the needs of the multiplayer. I was surprised when I saw complaints concerning the problems: when I finally connected I spent a couple of hours having a great time with three other friends clearing the Skeleton Boss for the second time. Not having to think too hard while we played, not having to worry about CC or loot drama or anything else was, quite frankly, a very liberating experience. The game is very polished and just at the right level of immersive to be a joy to play in co-op mode.

Blizzard sells games not simply on their content any more: they come with a level of service and community that is unique in the gaming world. Even during the issues, I was able to follow Twitter and get regular updates on problems and how they were being addressed: it wasn't as if there was no information available. I can entirely understand the frustration of the lone player: I think the biggest single failure last night was that Blizzard didn't make it clear that D3 is a new generation of game. It requires you to bolt yourself into an existing social networking framework, even if you have no need or desire to be part of it. The game will not function without a connection to the internet.

There will be those people who will simply chalk this down to Blizzard wanting to make more money by tempting people to use services they might not yet realise they want. There will also be those who will view the need to connect to a secondary service in order to play a game that was previously a stand-alone title as a disturbing development. Privacy is already a major issue with other social networking platforms...

Personally, I had a great time last night, and I suspect I will continue to have a great time in the weeks and months that follow. However, this isn't about me, or the other people who are in my position. I'm looking at the people who aren't happy, and wondering what the fallout might be in the days that follow...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seven Days :: The First Idea...

This is the second of a week's worth of posts published in association with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.


Depending on your point of view, the first good idea you have when starting a Blog can be either a catalyst or a disaster. If you ascribe to Tom Monahan's viewpoint, that first inspiration is never a wise one to pursue. There is some merit in consideration when it comes to deciding what it is you are going to Blog about, but this form of writing is a long way from the carefully structured world that other types of writers live in. Blogging, like Twitter, is becoming less and less about what is said and (in many cases) revolves around quickly you can say it before anyone else does.

When faced with such instantaneous surroundings, blogging could end up losing a lot of impact if you are the type of person who needs to think before they post. However, it needn't be the case that being slow is a disadvantage.  Even prolific bloggers run out of creative steam sometimes, and there comes a point where, if you feel you're having to invent reasons for posting, it could be that it's just time to take a moment. It doesn't have to be about making your mark on a constant basis. This is about your needs before anyone else's.

When there are no staff to employ, no guidelines to follow and no revenue to secure, blogging is at its best: I am not a fan of those who feel the need to 'benefit' financially from their efforts in this regard, and you will never see me succumb to the lure of ads. No, really, you won't, even if I become the most famous blogger on the Planet overnight, this site remains free. My first idea, when I started this blog, wasn't to one day make my fortune from this. I write here because I want to talk to other people about a game I love, not to make money on the back of it. Maybe one day I might get lucky with a piece of my fiction. Who know, perhaps someone will one day employ me to write this kind of drivel on their site. That's cash I'd happily take, but not here. Sorry to disappoint you, but principle is fairly important to me.

That's the key to your first idea: being true to it. If it's not something you feel you can write about even when you hate your subject matter in a day of darkness then maybe you shouldn't be writing at all. Perhaps your idea will then make you realise that actually, you enjoy talking about something else instead which you only realised when you'd taken the first step. Feel free to change your mind. No-one is going to have a problem if you do, but remember that if you want to keep your audience, you're going to need to explain to them what's going on. I think some of the best blogs I read currently are those written by people who started in one place and are constantly moving to different places, re-assessing their needs and priorities, whilst simultaneously remaining true to their need to write.

This is the indicator of a person who feels comfortable in their writing skin, and always makes for the best reading, at least for me.

The first idea for your blog, whatever it is, will not matter in the end anyway. What will be far more significant is the fact you chose it, and it is one of the ways that readers will come to identify your own voice. Don't worry if you get it wrong. Just remember that the Internet remembers everything, and when you look back on those early posts in a decade's time, just how much you have grown in the intervening period.

That's the fun in the journey.

#mopreleasedate CONTEST UPDATE

Week #1 Update!

Last week seems an awful long way away, if I'm honest. However, it was only seven days ago since I launched the Twitter 'Predict Mists Release Date' Contest. Since then, a very respectable TWENTY-SEVEN entries have been received. August is looking like the preferred date for most people and there is still plenty of time for you to enter!

For full details on the prizes and the entry criteria, press this link or use the hash tag ling on the side bar over to your right. You can enter until Blizzard make some kind of noise over when the date will actually be, and if you haven't already, this is the the time to do so! Put down that D3 Collector's Edition, and go enter now!

Let's see if we can get thirty entries by the end of business today! :D

Monday, May 14, 2012

So there's No Doubt...

My desktop, five minutes ago... :D

So we're clear, I am ready for Diablo 3.

The installer sparked into life at 4pm UK time and I've installed the game, gotten goosebumps over the amended Tristram guitar theme and watched a very impressive opening cinematic. I have also been reminded just how well Blizzard do this stuff: you get a bit jaded after a while with the quality of product we get from Warcraft, and it is easy to forget that these guys can put on one Hell of a show (pun intended!)

I'm also coming to D3 completely spoiler free. I am really rather excited.

If anyone wonders where I am, the chances are I'm playing another Blizzard game this week... :D

Seven Days :: Starting at the Beginning

Even the most significant journey begins with a first step (or summat...)

This is the first of a week's worth of posts published in association with the Newbie Blogger Initiative.


Writing is, as a wise man once told me, a mug's game.

The moment you put pen to paper (as it was in this context) there's a Pandora's Box of emotional turmoil just waiting to explode into you mind and body. Like anything, if you did it right the high you'd be able to achieve was, frankly, unlike nothing else you'd ever experience. Doing it wrong, however... and this is when I began to understand just how utterly subjective writing can be. I liked to frustrate my Secondary School writing teacher. I'd find ways to make him question my every move, my motivation for every character's action, until one day he asked me to stay at the end of class. I assumed I was in trouble, but my marks weren't bad. I did what I was asked of me, every time, I just found increasingly deranged ways for the things to transpire.

My teacher sat me down and made it perfectly clear to me. There were rules to writing. The same way there were rules to painting, or science, or any of the other subjects I was learning. I needed to learn them, and once I did then I could break them as I chose, because I would understand WHY these things were important. I could not screw around with narrative form until I understood what it was and could reproduce it... because in the end, to be successful, even the most obscure and seemingly eclectic writers 'got the point.' As soon as you commit any words to anywhere where it isn't just you reading them, a great many things change, and you need to understand WHY you wrote these words in the way you did, because someone, at some point, will challenge you not simply on their validity, but on their very construction. When you have that level of understanding, you can use the words however the Hell you want.

I'd never heard a teacher swear before, even if it was (in relative terms) the softest of insults. I'd also never had an adult in school treat me in this way before: I was important. This was important too, and suddenly I grasped the significance of what I was being told. Writing is an art, you can learn it, even if you feel you have no previous ability, and there are rules to follow. Once you have these on board, anything frankly is possible. The first step in your journey isn't sitting down and just writing, it's understanding who you are when you begin. Once those rules are grasped it stops being about the tools, and becomes all about the wielder...

YOU are the Beginning. Your thoughts and feelings are the raw materials you bring to the process, and then it is time to shape them, to produce something special and unique. Some take a very analytical and methodical approach, others write almost in a stream of conciousness. The best writers understand however that their voice is always there, the constant companion that people will learn to either love or hate, as long as there is SOME reaction... you know, it doesn't actually matter. Writing in a blogging context is a word away from my other love (which I'm finally attempting to crack) but the basic principles apply for any form of the written word. Be ready to stand by your words, and be ready to grasp that the moment you press PUBLISH someone on this planet is likely to find them, and if they read them, you've done what you set out to do.

The first step is always the hardest, but undoubtedly the most satisfying. The biggest thing to conquer before you begin are your own fears.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

[BETA] Why? Because it's Black...

Remember a couple of weeks ago I got a bit excited because a new UI appeared on the Beta?

Last night, we discovered what it related to, as the Black Market Auction House popped up. All I can say is... lordy.

The Black Market Auction House allows players to bid on special items that are not normally sold by NPCs. For example, Mei Francis normally sells mounts in Dalaran, but in this case she is auctioning Ashes of Al'ar!

The items for auction vary by server, as other servers are able to bid on Reins of the Blazing Drake, Swift White Hawkstrider, or Riding Turtle.

For a long time, those who watch the Warcraft Economy have bemoaned the lack of decent 'gold sinks' to balance the economy. As Wikipedia explains, this term 'is comparable to timesink, but usually used in reference to game design and balance, commonly to reduce inflation when commodities and wealth are continually fed to players through sources such as quests, looting monsters, or minigames' When I first saw this announcement last night it occurred to me that this could be a front for a Cross-Server Auction House, but it appears that with each beta server currently selling a selection of mounts, this is simply a move forward from the Satchel of Exotic Mysteries that are currently available for tanks and healers with one key difference: if you have the cash, it's yours.

With this function not yet operational, we are left to speculate the way in which the AH actually works. Is it about the highest bid? Could you buy out these items? Is this Auction House likely to be a lag hot spot as many people camp the place in a hope to snipe last minute?

Can't believe this name wasn't taken. He needs a bigger hat...

Having slept on this latest revelation, this development makes a lot of sense. Assuming that Blizzard takes care of those who are long time players and who have invested a great deal of time in game, and we don't see anything that can could conceivably give an advantage to a player who can spend the most money, there is a fair bit of potential here. Blizzcon murlocs and bears for instance, the old Naxx recipes that disappeared when the Citadel shifted to Northrend, impossible to find low level recipes and enchants (am thinking Rich Silk Purple Shirt rarity) plus recolours of armour pieces all feature on my list of 'things I'd spend spare cash on.' However the bigger key, and I can't check this to confirm, will be what happens when you've actually won said item.

I REALLY REALLY HOPE that everything you will buy on this AH will be soulbound.

If it is, then I can see a lot of money moving out of the economy, and a move towards more competitive farming to obtain gold. I can also see a distinct increase in AH prices, and a need to farm pre-Expansion for gold as well as raw materials. I haven't checked if I need to have a L85 to get to Pandaria yet, but I will do this afternoon, and if I can ship a L1 alt up to this AH you can guarantee I'll have someone in place as soon as possible (assuming of course that you can access this area at all pre-85)

Needless to say, I'm watching this particular Beta development very closely indeed....