Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nothing Doing...

Some days, its just a good idea...

Yesterday was not a good day to write.

There will be many writers who will tell you that writing whilst angry is a good thing, that it can help to diffuse negative feelings. I've been doing this long enough to know that, at least as far as I am concerned, writing when emotional can only lead to trouble. I have therefore learnt to step back from such things, which is why there was nothing on the site for yesterday. Those of you who follow me on Twitter may be aware of the circumstances behind this, and as the moment has now passed I see no real point in going back to discuss it any further.

Needless to say, an awful lot of tidying got done yesterday.

I also have family visiting this weekend which means I have provisioned exactly zero game time until late on Sunday evening. In practical gaming terms this means at least five people will have a Grisly Trophy quest left over until September, so I may have to slightly rethink my approach to secondary pet acquisition from the Faire. Needless to say, with the Transitional Patch now downloading, this may only leave me two days to faff before it drops. I'm still hoping we will get until the 21/22nd however, which means next week will be possibly the most actual attempt at focussed and organised gameplay for quite some time.

I have a lot to write about in the next couple of weeks, and I wanted to just take the opportunity to welcome those of you who have come here for the first time. If you have a Twitter account you can find me recruiting for #TEAMFAFF by following @AlternativeChat. I'd also like to say hi to my new Google followers and to anyone else who finds themselves at my door for the first time. Welcome all, and I hope I can keep you suitably entertained in the run up to Pandaria.

Now, if you will excuse me, I should probably go clear the remaining pile of rubbish off the dining room table before my brother in law arrives... :D

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Why Can't You Just Be Happy?

Is there a reason you're FORCING us to do daily quests for rep instead of allowing us to CHOOSE to grind the rep in dungeons? 

Essentially because dungeons already reward loot from bosses and valor. Letting them also provide faction seems extraneous. Why not just increase the boss drops or give you more valor to let you buy stuff?

Here's how we got there though:
  • BC had an extensive attunement system. (I'm not passing judgment on that system because I kind of liked it myself.)
  • As part of that system, you were required to acquire a lot of reputation with different factions, which you achieved primarily by running dungeons over and over. This meant you might have a dude that needed to run Shadow Labs 3 more times while someone else needed Mechanar or Botanica.
  • To solve that problem, we let players wear tabards so they could earn whatever faction they wanted while running dungeons.
  • This made things much more convenient for players, arguably too convenient. The factions themselves sort of lost their identity. They were just different bars to fill. Also, sometimes by the time you hit Exalted or Revered with a given faction, you already had better gear from running the dungeon so much.
  • In Mists, we want to provide players alternative content to running dungeons. The dungeons are still there, but even with 6 new and 3 redone dungeons, you're ready for something else after a while.
  • Part of that something else are the Elder faction quests, such as Klaxxi and Shado-Pan. We put as much work into these quest chains as we did the level-up zone quests. The stories evolve and new branches unlock. You earn faction by doing these quests and can also earn valor to layer on top of what you're earning from dungeons, or even in lieu of dungeons if you just don't have enough time or aren't interested in a dungeon at that moment.
  • As I said above, I know not everyone loves questing. (For that matter not everyone loves mount collection or pet battles or achievements or raiding). Strictly speaking, you don't have to do the factions to progress your characters, but we figure a lot of players will.

I have been accused of cynicism many times in the past (and within the last 24 hours, as it happens) which has been borne of many years playing this game and watching just about everything come and go. I was that woman running around Felwood for whipper root tubers. I've ground Winterspring rep the hard way. I've killed countless races, sometimes more than once (Netherwing, I'm looking at you) to fill that bar to maximum. Don't get me started with Ogri'lar or the Brood of Norzdormu either... if there's a rep grind out there, I've done it. Nothing scares me.

After seven years, nothing surprises me either. Some people frankly are never EVER going to be happy.

The fact that someone has worked out that to get a piece of armour will take thirty hours 'work' comes as no surprise, if I'm honest. Some people are not happy unless a) they have something to calculate and b) as a result, something to complain about. I see people on Twitter this morning worrying about Valor Points, that it will be a 'slog' to get gear to raid quickly in. I remember when it took a week to get an epic item, if I was lucky. That's 168 hours for ONE ITEM, folks, and then I had to save up DKP to boot. I know it is not exactly a direct comparison but placing timescales on gear acquisition like this is twofold: Blizzard are, I suspect, going to want to extend the shelf life of the new content as long as possible. That is going to mean 'spanners' in the works, this time from the first hurdle. I suspect this is why the changes have been included to high level Pet Battles and the levelling curve have become apparent recently on beta. This stuff needs to last longer than a month for those whose idea of gameplay is pushing their head as hard as possible onto the keyboard and not stopping until they've facerolled everything that moves.

This is, in a sense, a return to gated content (imagine a wooden gate with a self-operated lock :P), except the onus is now on the more casual player. It makes perfect sense to boot as that person is the majority of Blizzard's audience. Professions will require you to have reputation that you can't simply go and slog out with multiple dungeons. Placing a time constraint means the world won't be flooded with 1001 Jewelcrafting Mounts in the first month, and I for one think this is a good thing. It is also going to force people to make some serious choices as to where they go first to 'enhance' their gear: suddenly its not going to be about webpages gathering the best 'cookie cutter' specs but the best paths via reputation to items. You'll be looking for the quickest way to run your dailies in the fastest time possible, and suddenly the emphasis shifts from theory-crafting to time management. I am going to LOVE this, possibly more than I have at any point in my affair with Warcraft, because what I get the most pleasure out of is about to be come a way of life for a generation of people who think that simply running dungeons and selling their spare VP gains on the AH constitutes acceptable use of time.

These changes are going to hurt for a lot of people: Blizzard is right, it has been far too easy for far too long to simply 'grind' via the medium of dungeons. Restricting this in the early days gives them a chance to extend the longevity of their work (which I think will be a key factor, I am sick of the number of times I've heard 'dungeon grinding is boring' once everyone has what they want from them) and it will force people to not simply make choices concerning how they spend their time but where. Hardcore raiders will still be able to raid, casuals can still faff (you good people know who you are) and for everyone inbetween... well, it is likely to go one of two ways. I'm hoping that those people who enjoy moaning will at least give the new content a chance. Blizzard will be hoping that they buy the game and then sign up for the Annual Pass BEFORE they get bored and walk away, and if it's going to take a couple of months to get what you want as opposed to a couple of weeks at previous expansion's standard, they might well get their wish.

In the end, some people will just never be happy. IF enough people share this view then this could be the last expansion Warcraft ever releases. We just won't know until late September... ^^

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Setting the Scene(ario)

When I was a Lass, we took Gnomeregan back... :D

As we move through August (I blame the Olympics for making it go so fast) my thoughts turn more and more to the Transitional Patch. Integral to that will be the introduction of Scenarios. Here's Blizzard's own definition from their web page:

Scenarios are short, instanced adventures for three players that directly follow the stories and events in the open world. In a scenario you’ll be presented with a number of goals you need to achieve in order to progress. So instead of “clear trash, kill boss, rinse, repeat”, you will be given objectives you have to complete to move the scenario’s story forward. Yes, that’s right – scenarios are heavily story-driven, much more so than dungeons.

This 'storytelling' will be nothing new to those of us who played in Wrath: The Battle for the Undercity I'd argue could be cited as a forerunner to the Scenario, as could both the Battle for Gnomeregan (above) and the Echo Isles that we saw in the Sundering pre-patch before Cataclysm. I have deliberately avoided 'spoiling' myself in the beta with any Scenarios as this is one of the new 'fun' features in Pandaria I'm really rather looking forward to experiencing cold.

One of my biggest issues I recall when the Battle for Gnomeregan was available was, frankly, the complete lack of anything useful as a reward for doing so, which (at least for the Gnomes I spoke to) made them feel they'd really not done that much to help liberate their homeland. This time around Scenarios promise 'Valor points as well as random loot bags containing rare quality items.' A quick poke into Wowhead's MoP database finds iLevel 372 greens, some decent looking iLevel 384 headgear and (most importantly for my family) some proper Epic weaponry. 'd say that weapons are always an issue when it comes to gearing, mostly because you have to survive both Deathwing and the RNG for a chance at something useful. This pretty much guarantees you'll find me running these not simply as a test of my new talent abilities...

Without getting deep into the land of Spoilers, our first scenario will centre around an Alliance stronghold. There are already many hints of what is likely to be a bloody battle for both Alliance and Horde and I look forward to completing this on both sides of the fence. As you will be able to queue for this the same way as you can for a random I also look forward to seeing how people cope with (potentially) no tank to moan at if they pull aggro and (potentially) no healer if they die. In fact, what might happen if three tanks all queue simultaneously? What about three healers?

Hopefully we won't have too long to wait until the Transitional patch is upon us... if I were a betting woman I'd say we can expect to see the pre-Expansion shenanigans kicking off around the 21st August, just in time to co-incide with the release of another (potential) MMO heavyweight... :P

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Do the Darkmoon Shuffle...

The gateway to mystery, wonder... and cash :D

I have long waxed lyrical about the benefits the Darkmoon Faire offers those of you who don't enjoy levelling your professions. Today, we'll be doing the same for those of you who like to make some cash. This is all tied in with speculation, however, and so I need to insert the following (important) caveat:

The following is based on information gathered from Beta. As a result, it MAY NOT go live and the following could end up as a colossal waste of time and effort.
You have been warned.

During the course of the beta we've been given some important clues as to how duplicate pets will work across accounts. It is already established that you can hold three copies of the same pet on an account (with some exceptions). We also know that a number of pets will be granted a Rare designation (which will mean improved stats and learning ability) Amongst this list are all the Darkmoon pets.

Most important of all however is the following:

If you have multiple versions of the same pet on multiple characters on your account, they will be merged into one. We will place any extras in your bags or mail them to you if you are out of space.

As of now, Darkmoon pets are all tradeable on the Beta. This leads me to think that it might be a wise investment to gather some extra Darkmoon pets for AH sale come Pandaria, which is what I've spent this morning doing on the Alts.

I had enough tickets to pick up seven extras (having not as yet bought any Darkmoon Balloons as they can't battle) and am now looking at the totals I have left remaining with an eye towards there being one more Faire before the Expansion hits.

As it stands, my 'family' hold the following after my first round of purchases:

  • P : 48 Tickets
  • M : 67 Tickets
  • S : 15 Tickets
  • N : 12 Tickets
  • W : 71Tickets
  • M : 66 Tickets
  • M : 84 Tickets
  • K : 74 Tickets
  • G : 23 Tickets
  • K : 50 Tickets

Now I am forced to do some maths, which can always be a bit problematic. I am sure if I stuff this up someone will point it out :D I'm working on the theory that I won't spend any money on Artifacts (but as @VeganCATS has pointed out on Twitter there are some that are far easier to pick up than others, especially if I send everyone through LFG for the Soothsayer's Runes, which are worth 10 tickets) and if I simply worked on doing the Professions-specific quests (only two alts have maximum Archaeology skill) 

This means, next month, I could reasonably expect the following:

Tickets from 5 professions (2 main, 3 secondary) 8 + 9 = 17
Monthly 'Test Your Strength' quest = 10
Total Tickets = 27 
If I add the 5 'dailies' across the week, this would add an extra 35 tickets to the total. 
However, if I sent everyone through LFR before September, they could pick up a Soothsayer's Runes and add 10 to their totals, which is probably more time-effective.

Therefore, my total tickets when the Faire rolls around in September will be 37 (possibly 72 if I decide to push) this means that anyone with 53 or more tickets is worth working with once the Faire rolls around again.

Looking at the above totals, I can probably pick up two extra pets this month simply by running LFR with the Mage and the Shaman. This would mean that in September there's at least another four pets to be had... making a grand total of thirteen pets. As I'm not a big fan of having 13 of anything I reckon I might have to do a bit of work to round that up...

This entire Subset of Faffing however is pretty much speculation. If I wanted to make money from my tickets there is at least one sure-fire method of doing so (buying replicas) but I've decided that life isn't fun without the occasional punt on something that could, in the long run, be a decent investment. That's half the fun of playing a game, after all.

I'll have to see when Pandaria launches in September whether all this effort was worthwhile.

Monday, August 06, 2012

This Week, I Will Be Mostly :: August 6th Edition

... pretending I could win a Gold Medal... :D

A Guildie asked today whether I think we'll see the Interim Patch this week. I am still working on the theory we'll see it drop the 21st/22nd of this month, and as a result that's two more weeks of furious faffing before I actually have to start thinking about Proper Serious Stuffs [TM] As a result, this week you can expect the following:

  • Pally to 85 (see previous post)
  • Some serious action in Scholomance. Yes, I KNOW that doesn't change until Pandaria but I have at least one alt who wants multiple pieces of gear that won't exist for much longer. I'd also like to send my low level Horde tailor into there to see if Jandice is still dropping the Soul Bag recipe... :D
  • Grisly Trophies. Tickets make Darkmoon Pet Prizes :D
  • There's at least one person who could do with some Faire Points for cookery and fishing, possibly first aid, I need to log on and check...
  • More money-making faff. I managed to hit my weekly total this week without too much effort, which means after next week I will be able to afford my Mammoth without breaking sweat.
  • Finishing off odds and ends, farming recipes I don't have... see faff above.

P has all her Tournament Mounts, and is still vainly attempting to wrest mounts from both Anzu and Skadi. It is not going well... :(

The Paladin in the Room...

Someone has to be last.

After a weekend of Drama, attention now shifts to the last alt who needs to be bought to 85.

My paladin was created as a healer, a counter to my husband's second paladin tank, both made at the end of Wrath as 'something to do.' Once she hit 80 she pretty much gathered dust, with no actual use to speak of. She was a gatherer, as most of my secondary alts are, but in the last six months she's taken up both Jewelcrafting and Alchemy as a Potion Master to give me a third transmute option plus another JC transmute. I cannot face levelling her in LFG as a Healer. Therefore, last night, she became Retribution.

My gear still has holes: a couple of spirit pieces still remain, including my relic and my Heirloom cloak, but I reckon if I go do some questing I can probably fill in most of those deficiencies fairly easily. Even with only the most basic understanding of my new rotation last night I effectively doubled my dps when questing, so hopefully I can muddle my way to 85 and then consider my position. My UI needs a fairly significant overhaul, plus the hastily- created mog outfit could use some work. However, I reckon I can have her ready at max level by the end of the week.

I'd estimate I'll have about two weeks to get the hang of this until everything changes and I have to start from scratch again....

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Every Day is a School Day...

5 Rings, Worldwide Meaning.

As a parent, the last week has been rather significant.

The 2012 Olympics in London was pitched to the IOC on a platform that centred on the concept of legacy: to inspire a generation to become athletes, to compete and to continue the Spirit of the Games. Nowhere has this been more apparent in my own two children: my son has been more active than I've ever seen him and my daughter is actually taking interest in sports for the first time. I'm not a pushy parent, so I won't be packing them off to take part in events for the sake of capitalising. What I do hope is they can see in my attitude and that of my husband, that competition can bring the best out in people, and it can foster a great deal of positive benefits. I've hugely enjoyed the last week, and have completely immersed myself in what can only be described as 'Team GB  Fever.'

Today I realised that maybe not everyone shares my enthusiasm.

I've lost a number of followers on Twitter this week because of my love of the Olympics. It shouldn't really come as a big surprise really, but it did, and it was enough to stop me from my celebration of Andy Murray's Gold medal win in the Men's Singles Tennis. What you like is not what others might enjoy, and assuming this is the case is a dangerous thing to do. The bigger issue is that I don't actually want to apologise for my enthusiasm, or indeed abate it, because I can see the positive effect its having on the people around me and even my country as a whole. Of course, I am sure the people who hate all this are being sensible and just carrying on as normal, not getting swept up as I am. This reminds me of the saying I picked up from my favourite English teacher in Secondary School: every day is a school day. You never stop learning, if you're smart.

As a result I'd like to apologise to anyone who I've upset with my passion, and say to those people that don't share that feeling that I totally understand why this would be the case. However, I have an obligation: this isn't about me, this is about the next generation I've created. They need to get that there are options, and possibilities, and that anything is possible with hard work and commitment. Not just in sports, but in life, and when metaphors need to be visual and easy to grasp for a seven year old the 5 Rings pretty much do the job better than anything else.

The Olympics will be over in just over a week, but the legacy they will create is likely to linger far, far longer. I'm still here, and I'm still playing games, but for now I think I have a duty to keep the Olympic Spirit burning as strongly as the flame does in the Athletics Stadium right now. I want this to be a summer to remember for my family and my kids, and so far that's very much the way things are working out...

Normal Grumpy Service will be resumed soon :D