Saturday, October 13, 2012

Do You Know what This Is...?

Patch 2.1.0. That's a LONG time ago... :D

Recycling content is nothing new in Azeoth. Whether it be mobs, abilities, or entire instances (ZG/ZA anybody?) nothing is beyond the realms of re-invention for the sake of lore progression and 'new' content. This time around, however, Blizzard appear to have subtly changed the ground rules.

The data files for 5.1 are showing scenario information for, of all places, the Black Temple.

Outland never really sat well with me initially, until I fully understood the lore significance of the planet destroyed by the Burning Legion and subsequently ruled by the Night Elf who began his life on Azeroth. I will never forget the feeling of genuine amazement I felt when I made my way to Shattrath for the first time and discovered the extent of  Illidan's reach. However, for many of those who have joined the game since TBC, this mystical place is just somewhere you visit to get from 60 to 70. It is extremely gratifying therefore to see Blizzard not only revisiting the expansion, but re-writing the lore back onto itself.

I am aware that spoilers for exactly what goes on are already freely available, and I'm going to do my best to avoid them until time: needless to say I can speculate on what might be sending us there, and that Garrosh may have more than a little to do with our motivations. The video above shows the significance of the Temple to the Orcs: I wonder if the leader of the Horde is making deals he will regret later... but I'm more concerned with the significance of revisiting the Instance itself. The Black Temple holds a special place in many a Classic Raider's heart, for the fiendish nature of the encounters and the (frankly beautiful) armour and weaponry that the instance would yield. Part of me is hoping that we'll not simply get updated ilevel Blues as rewards, but perhaps the chance for replica gear from this place that won't cost 10k and require Black Market AH access to obtain.

Then there is the question of where we could end up next: I cannot believe that this will be a one-off incident. With a wealth of potential content ripe for recycling, will we find ourselves dropped into Karazhan again soon? How about a Ragefire Chasm scenario to uncover the truth below Orgrimmar? The deal with Pandaria has been brilliantly to combine questing inside available instance locations: introduce you to the Temple of the Jade Serpent before the location changes under Sha control and you need five friends to deal with the consequences. Does this mean we may yet have quest content for L90's in Outland and Northrend? I am genuinely excited by the possibilities these potential changes are presenting, where the only restricting factor will be the existing storyline. If we can keep this all within the auspices of existing lore then anything is possible...

Don't forget, we don't as yet have a Caverns of Time-linked instance location... :D

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Worrying Turn of Events

Woah WOAH WOAH hang on there a minute... there's a CAMPAIGN? Screenie from

I am rather concerned at what I'm seeing on the PTR.

Forget for the moment the Legendary Pokemon Battle Pets, the BLACK TEMPLE scenario (there's a whole other post right there folks, stay tuned) or the fact that suddenly Player vs Monster is going to actually Be A Thing. I'm frankly perturbed, and it's all to do with the bloody mess that was made at the Temple of the Jade Serpent. It appears that no lessons have been learnt at all by my faction, and despite screwing up big time we're about to start a land war in Asia military campaign in Pandaria.

I'm sorry, at what point did this escalate into a legitimate conflict?

The Alliance were sent to Pandaria to rescue the King's son. Forget for a moment he didn't want to be rescued and has now established himself as the de facto Alliance ambassador to the Pandarians. Forget the fact that we lost pretty much everyone that we were sent with to undertake this task. I'd also pretend not to think about the absolutely appalling way we've ingratiated ourselves with large sections of the indigenous population... frankly this is too big a land to want to conquer, surely? Have no lessons been learnt from the war in Northrend at all? Apparently not, because I'm being told now I'm expected to 'valiantly defend an outpost' I think is both badly considered and frankly unacceptable on a continent with such a rich cultural diversity. We should learn about this new land first before we trample it underfoot with a sea of tanks and soldiers. Seriously, who ON AZEROTH is advising the King these days...?

Ah yes. Jaina. This one's also clearly for Theramore... :(

I have not for many years considered wanting to leave the Alliance, but yesterday after seeing the 'video' that accompanies the push into Karasang, it crossed my mind. The thing is, of course, I'd not want to switch factions either. I want no part of Garrosh's plans, his agenda even more shaky than Varian's. I want to be without a banner to call my own. I'd live to go native and lose myself in the beauty of this new land: undertake expeditions for the Explorer's league, learn more with the Lorewalkers. The beautiful southern coasts of this land that I now consider my home for the next couple of years is about to be destroyed by warmongering fools who clearly didn't read ANY of the intel I am gathering regarding the way this place works. I am going to be forced into a version of 'Modern Warfare' and frankly, I'm not happy.

Of course, this move represents a masterful piece of storytelling. I KNOW there are spoilers out there that explain a lot of what is going on, but I frankly refuse to see them until its time. Knowing how Blizzard now have adopted the 'you quest here first BEFORE it becomes an instance' mentality I'm unreasonably excited at what other parts of the game may be dragged into this particular conflict. Nothing is currently off the table, all of a sudden it is genuinely exciting wondering just what the heck is going on. The fact remains however, I know full well why no-one else has proceeded past the 'arrive at the Carrier' part of the Alliance quest line thus far, and it has nothing to do with my obsession with leeks. This is because I don't like killing the Horde this time around, and the more I consider the options the more I'd really like to have the opportunity to set myself as neutral.

This is a war I don't want, but I'm an inescapable part of. The next few months will be very interesting indeed... ^^

Just Testing... :D

Does A Taste of History work with my new Javascript thingy?

Yes, yes it does. There I am, I'm now using Wowhead's database of access because frankly, its just easier :D

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Don't Blame Them...

Priorities. Gotta post about them. Wanna hear it? Here it goes!

Some days, I find myself wondering if I'm playing the same game as other people.

Whatever you might be focussing on right now; whether you're going insane over Dailies or trying to be first with Tier content or simply seeing how many of Item X you can farm in an hour... its your choice for a reason. Many of those motivations will be game related, but many more will be dictated from elsewhere. It is a difficult task sometimes to balance everything, as I am sure many of you know. I could at this point go into a long an detailed discussion about this but a) I've done it already and b) there's really no point because you already know how this works. The fact is, your enjoyment of any experience is going to be limited by your current mood. Don't play angry kids, and if you decide to use the game as an excuse for your ire... ^^

I try and be a Good GM (TM) wherever I can but it's hard work when everyone has their own personal set of priorities. In the end therefore I am faffing a lot, whilst at the same time getting stuff ready for the Serious Business. I have my Flask Alchemist ready to maximise Lotus usage. I have a maxxed JC-er whose trying to learn as many recipes as possible. I have a couple of stacks of Normal Banquets in the Bank ready to feed people who start their progression in 10 mans, whenever that may be. Eventually, enough people will be in a position for us to try the End Game and we'll be off, but until then... well, you need to have a sense of proportion. Pushing people to get ready in an environment where most of them log on as a pleasure is never a good idea. I learnt that to my cost a long time ago.

A lot of people spent quite a lot of time making this game for you to enjoy. Don't blame them if you're not, unless you can prove its their fault. Don't spend hours moaning unless you're willing to be both constructive and impassive. It is always the easy option to accuse without qualification, after all. Taking the time to question WHY something has been done the way it has is more complicated and inevitably more time consuming. It can also cause us to have to take a cold, hard look at ourselves in the process, and that is often a symptom of the bigger problem that we alluded to back in paragraph one and which I'm being dragged back towards with a saddening inevitability. The bottom line is simple: if you want to keep playing and you don't like what you're being asked to do, something has to give. You can either choose to blame Blizzard, the Conservative Party, Simon Cowell or whoever your personal figure of hatred might be and move on or simply just accept the fact that, EVERY TIME A NEW EXPANSION COMES STUFF CHANGES FOREVER. I can't believe anyone really wants to go back to Cataclysm as a benchmark, but I heard someone say they missed the way things were today. Each to their own.

Again, for those of us who remain, I'd ask you people to consider the very real possibility that by moaning that your game isn't as much fun as a) another game b) anything else or c) life in general you might actually upset those of us who not only enjoy themselves here, but attempt to resist the desire to become a wanker at every possible opportunity by being kind, thoughtful and understanding whenever possible. You belittle the experience we enjoy, and frankly that's not good.

Frankly, there needs to be more respect and less moaning all together...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Reasons Why This Expansion is Awesome #312

I boggled.

This expansion is becoming more and more about the unexpected. Take this fella, for instance. I was looking for Elite Champions and found the cave he resides in (Townlong Steppes 64,23) by accident. His look alone, plus his 4.22 million HP L92-ness, made me think he'd be worth having a poke at. Some time later, I discovered something significant:

Chocolate Teapot...?

There are an inordinate number of completely useless items available to pick up and use in this expansion. They have no other value other than the ability to make you happy simply by owning them. They are here to fill up bank slots. There is NO use to them whatsoever.

I absolutely LOVE it.

I can fly around and wander into a cave and kill a monster who is there simply because he can be and he gives me a necklace that allows me to show a friend that I like them. This is what has been missing from the game for quite some time: forget gearing, hardcore v casual... people need to be nicer to each other. Just because you don't know the tactics to Heroic Dungeons after two weeks does not make you a nublet. Just because you offer to help someone else doesn't make you sad. Putting the element of genuine exploration and surprise back into an experience that is data-mined and dissected to within an inch of its existence by a hypercritical audience is no mean feat, you know. Even if there is some pop-culture reference I managed to miss along the way this is probably the best example of the sense of genuine surprise I'm still experiencing this long after release. Long may it continue.

Let us hope that this attention to detail continues, through bug fixing and issues related to the more serious sectors of the game. Let us also hope that the haters of such things nick off in short order and leave the rest of us to enjoy ourselves...

Monday, October 08, 2012

Farming Today : Proceed to Stage Two!

You know when you're in trouble when this screenshot gets you excited...

When we last discussed the Tillers Farm reputation grind, I was ferrying the vast family 'o' alts down to Halfhill to begin their lives as market gardeners whilst waiting to be levelled. Yesterday I discovered that I'd reached Honored: not only had Farmer Yoon sent me a packet of complimentary seeds, but as considering a way to make his land more profitable by clearing some of the weeds away...

This is Gai Lan. You might remember him from the Weed Stomping...

Gai Lan, as you will know if you've done all the Valley quests, is a bit of a whiz with chemistry. Yoon asks you to go see him and enquire if he'll clear the weeds away on the Farm: if you gather 6 Spideroot from his land (watch the bugs) he'll make a fresh batch of weedkiller and come spray it all over your overgrowth. You can watch him do this, but takes 10 minutes and while he does you'll have a debuff:

I got fed up and went back to questing. City girl, eh?

Once the debuff vanishes and you come back...

The joy of eight plots, with added irrigation (left)

Not only am I now the proud owner of EIGHT (count them!) plots of soil. I now have IRRIGATION :O As I went into Honored, Gina Mudclaw suddenly had something new to sell me:

Can't wait for the goats. No really, I can't!

The crate begins a quest, and if you go hand the item over to Yoon he'll happily install it for you (though you will need to go in and out of phase to see it in situ) This effectively frees up a bag space as you can dispose of your watering can. The Pest Controller listed will do the same for the Bug Spray in time... and I can't wait until I get my Plow. I mean, FOUR PLOTS TILLED AT ONCE :O

At this point in my Tillers career, I am beginning to start to take notice of the ten NPC's with whom I can also gain reputation, as all of them clearly has some relevance to my farming career. This means I have to make them like me, and it appears the easiest way to do this is to cook them all meals. There is another way: I became aware of the 'Dark Soil' long before I was even Friendly from Guildies: across The Heartland there are random spawns of said soil, which when actioned may contain a 'Perfect Gift' for one of your NPC mates. I've yet to turn one of these in, but checking on the Internets tells me you'd get 900 rep from the relevant recipient. I know these items also are a possible harvested drop from crops, and that's where I'll look for them for now. I'm too busy doing a bazillion dailies all over the shop to go hunting for piles of dirt :p

Back to the food: it transpires (as my husband discovered this morning) that all 10 NPC's offer a daily food quest: hand over five of their favourite meal and get a rep bump. Even if the relevant character is not visiting the market that day you'll be able to find them in and around the Heartland. Suddenly, all those food ingredients aren't just important for making Banquets...

  • Tina Mudclaw eats Fire Spirit Salmon
  • Gina Mudclaw eats Swirling Mist Soup
  • Haohan Mudclaw eats Charbroiled Tiger Steak
  • Chee Chee eats Valley Sir Fry
  • Farmer Fung eats Wildfowl Roast
  • Jogu the Drunk eats Sauteed Carrots
  • Old Hillpaw eats Braised Turtle
  • Ella eats Shrimp Dumplings
  • Sho eats Eternal Blossom Fish
  • Fish Fellreed eats Twin Fish Platter
Some of these items will be more difficult than others for you to gather: you can grow your own vegetables of course but the prospect of 25 scallions a day (along with 25 salmon) to keep Tina Mudclaw happy may not sit well if you're trying to grind food for raiding. Needless to say, I intend to make a stack of 20 of each of these recipes so I can have a four day uninterrupted set of handins.

I am helped, of course, having a huge family of 85's effectively sitting about doing nothing: except of course, they're not any more. Most are installed in the Lazy Turnip, and growing the basic veggies I need: two each are on carrots and scallions (for agility and farming rep, meaning I have a minimum of 40 a day to use) plus another on melons while the others fill in the gaps.

This is where I ask Blizzard, on the off-chance they are reading: Bring on the Cookery Bag!

Into the Woods...

Riding a Mantid. This needs to be a thing.

Nearly two weeks in, I'm beginning to grasp the enormity of the task ahead of me.

This weekend was Me, getting My Head around The Content. It was running Heroics and realising just how important gear is this time around, more so than possibly at any point in the past. It was discovering Scenarios and wondering why the heck Blizzard chose to use Theramore as their introduction. Mostly, I think, it was the dawning realisation that there is too much content for a reason: this is about spoiling the player with choice, deliberately distracting them whenever possible, making the entire playing experience both entertaining and immersive. It works to a point: there might yet be some problems with giving the player too much to do...

An awful lot of assumptions have been made here, I realise. The sheer number of Exclamation Points that suddenly appeared once I hit 90 was enough to send my brain into meltdown: do they ALL have to appear the moment you ding? Which one is most important for my class to attack first? Where are the instructions to tell me what I should do??? I have to work on instinct after seven years, but what about the people who come to the game fresh: is this REALLY the best way to give us content, all at once and with no real indicator of what works best for your play style? The theory is, I assume, that people will go to the Internets where someone else will tell them a list of gear they will need to be properly equipped to play the  End Game to the best of their ability... except I'm not sure that's a particularly bright idea. I realise that the Devs can't write an individual questline for each class and spec to send them in the right direction. Could there not be a way to at least tailor each of these new quest hubs and dailies for a specific armour type, perhaps? You could have a plate 'hub', then a leather one... maybe a master weapon vendor quest hub when you'd done collecting all the gear you need elsewhere. I appreciate the need to send people out into the world but really, working out what reputation item 'lives' where is utterly confusing and actually became demoralising.

Maybe this is just an incentive to push people into Scenarios and Heroics, which worked a treat. I can fault almost NOTHING about any of the ones I tried with my husband yesterday, particularly the very sensible move of placing the Proving Grounds 'event' inside an instance (no more people stealing kills for your iLevel weapon upgrade, far more fun than the Nagrand/Zul'Drak/Twilight Highlands bunfests.) Gear upgrades may be generic but they are sensible, and don't involve a bazillion dailies to access. Heroics are easy enough not to cause fights but taxing enough for a proper challenge: am thinking of the Lillian Voss fight in Scholo especially as a great example of an encounter that involves brains, ability and co-ordination to execute correctly. It took some searching to ascertain that if I want to throw myself into LFR when it opens on Wednesday I'll need ilevel 463 gear to do so, which gives me a clear incentive for the next few days: I think this information needs to be clearly represented somewhere in game, perhaps even in the form of a graphic so it is clear what you need to aim for. A lot again is assumed of the experienced player, if Blizzard want to continue to pull new people to Azeroth I think someone needs to look at what is assumed and what is actually understood of the player at any point in their journey.

It's a Yak.

For me, a lot of the desire to max reps is now tied to mount acquisition. I'm working diligently on my Tillers rep (more on that later) and have completely ignored the Anglers, instead deciding to focus on the Klaxxi and the Golden Lotus streams because a) there are Leatherworking patterns to be bought and b) of their significance to Wrathion (yes, I'm being swayed by the possibility of ACTUALLY OWNING A LEGENDARY) There's a secondary interest too, the farming is insanely profitable, and I know I'll need a bazillion Harmonies to craft anything of value. When I can pretty much guarantee a Spirit with a round of farming (two yesterday, more than I pulled out of any of the instances or scenarios I ran) then its worth doing. Hopefully today I'll get access to something useful. I'm not worrying about a Flying Serpent for a while either, there are nodes to be gathered and professions to be maxxed on top of all this, and with the Darkmoon Faire in town this week I'd be a fool not to stick everyone through the sequence once for the +5 to all Professions this will provide. Oh, and if you're not fishing at the Faire you should be, as all the crates now contain Panda goodies...

I was concerned at the start of the weekend that I wouldn't see the wood from the trees. After a couple of days making sure I didn't get distracted along the way, I feel I have a better grasp on what I have ahead of me. Let's see how this week runs and whether the trend continues...