Saturday, June 02, 2012

Into the Wild Blue Yonder...

Looking good, Nagrand :D

This is my last day 'in the office' for a while. Tomorrow I'm off with the rest of my family, plus my parents and my brother and his family, for a 'family activity week for five days.' Needless to say, I will need a holiday on my return. Until Friday therefore, communication will be limited to when I can sneak off and find a net connection in the middle of (relative) nowhere.

If you really want to know what I'm up to, I suspect Twitter will get some pictures.

I'd like to apologise to those of you therefore who promised to play with the Pet Database for not getting myself sorted before my departure: rest assured it will be fixed on my return. Part of me is kinda hoping that we'll get the release date while I'm away but I'm resigned to the fact we're likely to see pet battles active on beta before that happens. Whatever happens, I'll try and keep on top of the news as I get it.

Oh, and before anyone reminds me I should be relaxing and not be worrying about such things, I'd point out you've never been on holiday with my parents and brother ^^

I'm still here, just I won't be here.

I'm leaving my hunter in Nagrand to remind me what kind of holiday I'd really like to take some time soon... :D

[BETA] I See What You Did There...

MMO posted a list of mounts yesterday that are not currently showing as operating cross-account. I had a brief discussion about this via Twitter yesterday but I didn't grasp the true significance of the list until I read Mr Big Bear Blogger's post about an hour ago.


I totally get why the list exists, and why on it is EVERY MULTI-PASSENGER MOUNT. The exception of course is the Recruit a Friend Touring Rocket, which I'm now even more glad I grabbed before the offer was removed. It also gives the biggest indicator (assuming this list is definitive) that Blizzard are serious about addressing the gold issues in the economy that do exist right now.

It doesn't make the consequences hurt any less, mind.

It also confers upon any 'main' who holds a selection of the multi-person mounts an affirmation of status that was lacking when the account-wide scenario was introduced. You'll know once again who had all the work (and the cash) spent on them. Alts will, as it was before, go back to having 'secondary' status, without the need to even compare achievements.

However sad it makes me, I don't see Blizzard going back on this arrangement either.

For engineers, this preserves their market integrity with the bikes. You will still have people wanting to buy and sell them come Pandaria, and any other mounts you may (or indeed other classes may) yet get the opportunity to create. The Cloud Serpents are part of a complex and rep-based quest chain, so I also grasp the significance of limiting their use. The 'gold sink' Yak and Panthers remain a surefire method to remove large globs of gold from people's bank accounts, and on reflection it really isn't a surprise that this has happened.

For me, one of the great (potential) benefits of the sharing would have been the 'older' mounts with vendors, especially when farming. Fortunately with cross-account sharing everyone will get the benefit of a Guild Page or Guild Herald for limited selling, but it will mean a fairly serious crimp in my plans if I want to farm across two accounts, especially with the changes to Have Group, Will Travel.

The more I think about this, the more I think its a great move to penalise those people who already have enough gold than they know what to do with. However, it won't stop Stormwind filling with Yaks as soon as people can open up the path to purchase them.

It also means, like it or not, I still have a primary character to collect with. I'm wondering what else she'll need to be focussing on come Pandaria that's not yet apparent from the Beta... ^^

Friday, June 01, 2012

This is a Test Post...

...mostly to see how I cope using my iPad to create a post.

Am still not sure I'm going to be able to cope with being away and posting from this bit of glass with computing bits bolted on, but such is the genius of the Future (TM)

[BETA] A Wise Man...

It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.

I have been getting frustrated with the lack of Pandaran release news, I will admit. However, this morning, all of that is momentarily forgotten.

Let me share a secret with you.

I was very close to quitting the game when TBC was announced. Part of me could not cope with the thought that everything I had worked so hard for would be effectively be washed away as the level cap rose. I was not a great fan of the two new races either, especially the Blood Elves. That was, until I heard this:

Anyone who knows me well will tell you just how important music is in my life. This piece went a long way to convincing me that Blizzard could be trusted not to shaft me when everything changed, that the people designing the game understood how to deal with the process of reinvention and regeneration in a sympathetic and understanding fashion. My Belf Hunter was born back then, just so I could do the quest this song is tied to, and when I sat and watched the lament in Undercity I will freely admit there were tears.

Imagine my surprise therefore this morning when I listened to one of the latest sound files from the beta and the same thing happened:


I just got very excited all over again. There is something undeniably different about Pandaria, that this expansion is becoming less and less about moving forward and more and more about a line being drawn, that there is a distinct and definite point to be made by Blizzard to its critics and detractors. However what is apparent now, listening to this, is that the story of Warcraft is never forgotten. My inner Lore Nerd is crying out to know about this song in context, and I hope I don't have long to find out where it fits into what is coming.

There are many tales to be told, and songs to be sung, and they will be worth the wait.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Long Overdue Faffing...


 to aimlessly waste time doing useless tasks

This morning, there has been much faffing, but it has bordered on the precise. To wit:

Log in P.
Use Ring of the Kirin Tor to go to Dalaran.
Do Dalaran Fishing daily.
Fly to Tournament.
Do Tournament Dailies. (+12 seals, 26 until next mount)
Fly to Utgarde Pinnacle and fail to win Blue Proto Drake.
HS to SW and portal/fly to Shattrath.
Do Shattrath Fishing Daily.
Fly to Sethekk Halls and fail to win Anzu.

I think I may have found my faffing niche for the weeks to come :D

Welcome to the Jungle.

I killed 1000 horses in Hillsbrad in an attempt to help my mate find a SODDING CAT. He's dispatched about 12000 of the beasts so far without even a sniff of kitty. Last night I decided I'd go try somewhere else for his pet collection: it transpires the Razzashi Hatchling really wasn't taken out of the game when they shut 20 man ZG down, and it has a chance to drop from any mob in Stranglethorn.

I have a particular fondness for STV.

Booty Bay, before the Cataclysm.

I can remember with a worringly-distinct clarity the first time I found myself there, back in Vanilla. I was in my mid 20's, having handed in a quest in Duskwood, and I took a wrong turn from the group of watchers at the little camp to the south. Suddenly I was at Nessingwary's Expedition and utterly lost, and not a little afraid. In the end I swam up river, got to the coast, and hid in the water all the way back to Westfall. I remember the joy at finding all the 'kill X beast' quests when I finally made it there in my 30's (and the utter horror at the original Green Hills of Stranglethorn quest which I refused to complete until I was forced to for Loremaster)

For a low-level skinner, the zone remains a winner.

At max level however, it is hugely frustrating, especially when I've been spoilt of late by eight mob multispawns. Last night I went north to south, killing anything with a pulse and a hide but was still unable to pile up as much leather as I managed in an hour in Hillsbrad. I turned therefore to humanoids, and there are a great many groups that have been updated for Cataclysm that benefit from an almost near-instant respawn timer. The Bloodsails were a constant source of availability (and Volatile Rum) so I have a fair bit of cloth to recycle this morning as a result.

If you're selling either the Black Tabby or the Razzashi Hatchling for anything less than 25k on your server you're doing yourself out of pocket right now: item colour is irrelevant. I'd like to see these guys get Legendary status when Pet Battles go active because, frankly, they deserve it simply for availability (or complete lack thereof). Believe me when I say nearly 15,000 horses decry the true drop rate.

A lot of pirates are going to meet a grizzly end this week, that's for sure...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Going Now...?

No, it's not what you think it is.

We interrupt our regularly-scheduled dross for a special message.

One of my dearest friends is shortly to depart these shores for Canada. He's a jammy git, let's face it. He's also the only person I know who has his own Wikipedia entry, so I'm fairly confident he'll cope. I'd normally not mention this kind of thing to you guys, but this particular individual deserves a special post all of his own.

You see, we first met in Warcraft. He was picked up by our old GM, wandering aimlessly around Stranglethorn on a Paladin I don't think has ever been levelled sensibly since. His main is a Druid, a tank and dps of such skill he could fall asleep on his keyboard and still look as if he was doing a half-decent job. This is the guy who'd spend hours grinding elementals in Badlands to make Nature Resist potions so the Guild could finally complete our first instance, AQ20, without outside help. His humour has been a source of many face-achingly beautiful evenings and his 'glass-isn't-just-half-empty-its-also-cracked and full of mould' attitude will be very VERY sadly missed as we go into Pandaria. Everyone needs someone who tells jokes that badly, and so brilliantly.

He's also kept me sane during Guild Drama more times than I care to remember and as a result I will miss him terribly.

He is testament to just what can be achieved when you stick a bunch of people like him together to clear content. His ability to problem solve is legendary, but more than that he is an absolutely superlative team player. One of him is worth two groups of LFR time-wasters, and then some. I'd never get bored of running his alts through low-level dungeons because he is such a joy to talk to, and when I finally got to meet him in person it was as if I'd known him for years.

Now I have, I am happy to see him leave to fully fulfil what I know is a sizeable potential. The fact I have inspired him to start writing again is perhaps the greatest compliment anyone has ever paid me.

You guys all know someone like him. He's the surprise, the person who made you realise that Warcraft was something really rather special in terms of MMOs. It didn't matter you were miles apart, there was an instant connection, and it made a friendship that you'll consider one of the overriding legacies of your time in game.That friendship will last after the game is gone, when its another time and a different MMO, and you'll know that person will be there for you, ready to take the challenges with you and to enjoy it in their own unique way.

Therefore I say goodbye to him as he leaves on the start of a new journey, but I do so with Pete and Dud, an understanding that change is a good thing, and without letting go of his coat. He may try and get it, but I won't let him have it.

I'll hand it back to him in person the next time we meet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

When One is Not Enough...

WTB [AOE Looting], PST

I may have been farming for cats in Hillsbrad. Just saying :D

I'm also the only person online in my Guild :(

Really, really REALLY could do with some Expansion release news soon :/

Monday, May 28, 2012

Battle State Russet!

Yes, that's Toothy's Bucket as well... ^^

I can't stand this any longer.

This lack of release date is driving me insane. If I have to wait until October, quite frankly, I'll implode. Therefore I have decided, regardless of what actually happens in the next two months, I'm going to pretend that the game releases the end of July. I'm calling it now, we're changing the light-bulb, and this is me going to Battle State Russet ^^

As a result, this morning I have cleared every alt down to a minimal financial float (500g) and stuck the rest of the cash away on the main bankalt to prevent myself spending owt. I'll be keeping an eye out for any opportunity to hoard soulbound pets (that's the Panther Cub from the Troll Incursion quest line in Northern Stanglethorn in case you were wondering) or to pick up special items for mogging come Pandaria. I've refined my list of grinding spots down to a small, profession-specific (and by the looks profitable) group and I'll run them in the background.

P has one main task to complete, which is doing the Theramore quests before they (possibly) disappear for good, but apart from that, and whatever achievements /raids we can cobble together in Guild, I reckon I'm done. Then she can potter at the Tournament picking up mounts while I wait.

D3's established, Blizzard. People are gonna play that all Summer.

Let's see how long we have to wait before some news emerges... ^^

Part of Something Significant.

You should have one. Really, you should.

This isn't a post about how you should have an Authenticator on your account.

It isn't about how there's been a sharp increase in account compromises because a bunch of people got Diablo 3 for free and need to remember how valuable everything on a account is, not simply to Activision. Three people in my immediate sphere have been hacked in the last week. Gold farmers are nothing but clever, but you can make it hard work for them. Authenticators, anti virus, nothing is 100% certain, but you'd not leave your car unlocked or your laptop unattended in public. That's how valuable your account is. It makes sense to protect it.

This is a post about what else is valuable on your computer, and not simply to you.

Community has become a significant contributing factor in how designers pitch and promote their games. Look at TOR and GW2 if you want evidence of this: GW2 posted a Facebook message pre-Memorial Weekend assuring people they didn't need to plan around a Beta event, and that there would be no testing. TOR is making a fairly big deal of including their community in lots of major decision making processes, I think because it has become apparent that if you want your project to succeed, there is a core of people you need to be listening to. I could go back to Mass Effect here as the ultimate example of acknowledging your fanbase, but that's probably a different argument for another blog post (several, in fact) The people playing matter, of course they do, but what matters more is the community they foster as a result. Positive word of mouth is a truly Legendary item.

What happens however when you fall out of love with your game? If your player base is small, and people leave for good: Game Over, time to move on. Reach a certain critical mass of 'population' however and stuff starts to happen when people get disillusioned with the particular location of the virtual world they once loved. Many don't actually leave the sphere: they hang around, even if they've stopped playing actively. If the community is large enough those toons become mobile: I can  server transfer, I can find a group of people I feel more comfortable with using social networking. Gamers become migrant workers, shopping around for a place they like, willing to bring their skills to new people's causes. Its even happening to our modest guild: you garner a decent reputation, then even total strangers will take a chance on you. Friendships can be forged on far less, after all.

With Cross Realm raiding you don't even have to move, but over time people still do, to be in the same places as new friends they make, and the game self-perpetuates.

When I think about the blogging community I have become a part of over the last year, I'm staggered at the sheer range of personalities and attitudes that exist side by side. Yes, there are moments and flashpoints, but in the main people are remarkably tolerant, and amazingly generous in people's moments of crisis. However, I think there's still a lot of work to be done in making people feel they really are part of a place where they are important, and where their voice matters. It can sometimes be very lonely out here: just because no-one responds to a post or has nothing to say when you Tweet, it doesn't mean that people don't care. It just means there's a lot more to a community than the people who make the noise. Everyone sometimes appreciates the comfort of being a silent majority, especially if more pressing individual issues come to the fore. A true community isn't just about the big events and the contentious topics, after all.

If you're having a bad day, you should feel able to talk about it with your friends, wherever they happen to be. If you don't like the place in your game you are at right now, you have the power to change it, it just takes confidence to make the move. If you know deep down it is a place you want to stay in, then you just need to find the right spot that fits you. That's where the community comes in: talk to them, ask their advice. Sometimes a change is all you need to completely reinvigorate yourself. However, if deep down you know the answer is to not be part of this place any more, then have the confidence to move on. The true friends you have made will understand and still be there.

Never forget you are part of something significant the moment you choose to share your thoughts with others: in game, on a blog, in a group. What you feel and say does matter, and you may be surprised who is listening when you do.