Google+ ALT : ernative: 01/27/2013 - 02/03/2013

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Complicated


It's grey 'coz it's not ready yet... ^^

It is with some satisfaction that it is now clear my observations on the Blacksmithing 'projects' buried away in Wowhead's datamaining was correct: there is indeed a major revamp to the profession incoming for 5.2. What makes me more excited, and that is what it is, are the potential possibilities this change has for the entire Professions aspect of the game. I touched on some of the immediate consequences in an earlier post but on reflection these are the tip of a pretty sizable iceberg. The ramifications of this change are significant, and stretch far beyond the auspices of crafting.

The Blacksmithing 'model' follows the Cookery one that you'll encounter in Halfhill pretty closely: however, instead of having to buy your raw materials, you gather them. With a bit of thought we can extend the thinking to allow us to use the same 'tools' to simplify every profession:

  • Leatherworking should use Exotic Leather and Prismatic Scale.
  • Tailoring should use Windwool Cloth exclusively
  • Alchemy should use Pandarian Herbs
  • Inscription should use Pandaran Herbs plus additional 'inks' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
  • Jewelcrafting should use Ghost Iron Ore and Pandaran gems.
  • Engineering should use Ghost Iron Ore with additional 'parts' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
  • Enchanting will follow the Cookery model with new 'dusts' purchasable from a vendor (like cookery)
  •  
The relative simplicity this will create has a huge number of advantages:

  • Far simpler to learn a profession for bonuses
  • Far simpler to swap professions when required
  • Only gathering required from Pandaria, forcing people into the current expansion
  • People creating 'mules' to make profession alts will be greatly reduced
  • No requirement for obscure or hard to find mats from previous expansions
However perhaps the biggest single advantage to this change will have nothing to do with the professions at all, and everything to do with the amount of bag space you will potentially be able to free when it is not necessary to have four expansion's worth of crafting materials at your disposal to complete the grind from 1-600. Those materials are only relevant for twinking, for mogging and for vanity. There could well be an awful lot of L1 bankalts out of a job as a result of this change, but that too has advantages: freeing up character spots for further expansions, allowing people to spend less time organising an enormous amount of material and more time actually playing the game.

This change will have a direct and immediate relevance to anyone who chooses to level an alt with a gathering profession. In fact, I can see a situation where absolutely no-one will want to level anything other than Mining, Herbalism or Skinning until they get to 85: you'll want to make sure you have a gathering skill that reflects the Profession you'll take once you've finished Cataclysm content and you'll want to ensure you can gather everything and anything the moment to set foot in Pandaria. I suspect there will be a residual market for anything gathered as you go from 1-85: bear in mind that all existing Azerothian patterns can be learnt in the BS model so (for instance) as a Scribe in the new model you'll still be able to mill any low level herbs, but there'll be no need to pay 200g for a stack on the AH when you can get your levelling points simply with Pandarian gathers.

What is not yet clear, and why (I believe) we'll not see every profession instantly converted to the new models, is the effect this will have on the Warcraft economy, especially in terms of AH markets. I'm looking forward to hearing how the community reacts to this: my personal thoughts on this are that this will move a lot of people out of what are (in effect) niche markets, especially with low level mat sales, and into the same basic group of key commodities. It should add value to those materials required to level, and promote more aggressive pricing as a result. On the flip side I also feel that there could be opportunities for the canny (especially the more established players) to start further diversifying into items that will not be readily available if people simply level a profession to get access to the most current items. Consider it the 'Etsy' Effect: hand crafted armour and weapons, oddities from expansions past, especially if these items have a distinctive look. Mogging markets may have been quiet, but I know from the end of the last expansion they have the potential to return with a vengeance.

I was asked by a Guildie today whether they should wait to level Blacksmithing now or carry on with their task: my response was instant. I'd wait until 5.2. The amount of effort it takes to level any profession currently is completely out of keeping with the speed of levelling itself. This new model conveniently simplifies the process and should encourage a whole new generation of people to take up professions for the benefits they provide.

I just hope someone has something lined up for all the L1 bankalts that could be out of a job as a result...

Friday, February 01, 2013

Happy Birthday


Slightly iffy video, top song!


Today, for me, marks four years worth of Blogging on Warcraft.

There's going to be a new logo at some point, but as my Graphics Department's spent the best part of this week in a muddy field in Sussex, it's not going to be for a while. Needless to say, I don't need a snazzy new thing for this bit, I'll make do with grainy 1980's video and some words, because that's pretty much what this whole thing is about anyway.

I have a great deal to be thankful for over the last four years, not simply the fact that people keep turning up and wanting to join in on the discussion. Although I may have met perilously few of you in the flesh (hope that might change in the future) I do feel as if I know a lot of you well, and that gives this place a really rather comforting and homely feel, which was pretty much one of the main reasons I persisted with my ramblings in the early days, when it was just me and the three other people I told about my writing. I know over the last year that my abilities as a writer have increased considerably (practice does make perfect, those old sayings aren't patronising) and the benefits of sitting down and pushing myself to write daily about a game I still haven't fallen out of love with despite everything are being felt in places far away from the screen where I now sit.

There are people I'd like to thank this time around: there are my regulars, without whom some days this would be quite a lonely place. There's Mr Alt, Sarol, T&E, Dobs, Mr G. Elf, Nav, Ancient, Mr Amateur, Bob, Cym, Ratty and Cyn, Iometa, Yoco, Nev... and everyone else who has taken the time to come here and leave a comment. You know who you are and I am grateful for every thing you've said over the years. I'd also like to thank who has probably been the single biggest contributor to my success via Twitter, whose daily retweets means I'm getting over 500 page views per day. Your work is not forgotten, my friend, and I remain eternally grateful. I realise I am a very small fish swimming in an extremely large bowl and actually, I know that's the way I like it, and I hope that if I do continue to grow I can still try and remember everybody (though you may have to start wearing name tags for easy identification.)

I am hoping this month to bring you some, or indeed all of the following, and my Birthday gift to you:

  • A Pet Battling Guide that lives up to my own hype.
  • Original Warcraft Fiction. BE AFRAID.
  • More observations on Monk Levellage.
  • My thoughts on every current incarnation of the game, starting with Vanilla and why, most of the time, it really did suck.
  • More of the same high-quality, badly spelt and copychecked gubbins.

For now, I thank you all for continuing to read, to participate, and making me feel a part of what is undoubtedly the best online community I have ever been lucky enough to be involved with.

You're ace, every single one of you.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Politics of Dancing




You know, the more I think about my last post, the more interesting life becomes. I love the dance this game often takes us on, and the consequences of Blacksmithing going the way of Cookery are... well, pretty significant. Let's put our 'Future Possibilities' Hats on and work out what might transpire should the datamining be pointing to a quantum shift in Primary Professions.


1. No more need for 1-600 Levelling Guides.

Yup, all those Guides are suddenly redundant. Pretty annoying if you're selling them as well, I expect :p


2. No more need for any Old World Materials.

This one's quite big, especially if you are one of those people who makes their money from farming older content. No need to farm anything any more, except the basic raw material at the top level. This would also have a significant effect on herbs, mining and skinning at lower levels.


3. No more money when levelling an Alt from selling your excess gathers.

Yeah, this one is also fairly major. Grabbing a gathering profession for when you level is suddenly completely pointless, unless you're using the materials yourself. No more selling excess on the AH for a quick profit. In fact, pretty much no need to sell your excess to anyone but a vendor.


4. Choice of Which Old Patterns you Learn.

This one I'd need to check, but I am assuming that should you take an alt with no skill and learn 1-500 this way, you'd end up with the patterns you WOULD have learnt simply by buying them from a trainer (with relevant cash/mats)


There are probably more fundamental changes that I'm not seeing, but it appears that the biggest single hit in changing professions to this model will be to the Gold Farmers (and by that I mean those people who make money on the AH selling patterns, raw materials and specialist materials to complete the normal grinds.) Of course there would still be markets for the old stuff, but vastly reduced, and the emphasis would shift to any current expansion (as it would be logical to assume that every time we moved forward the model would simply shift up to the next available raw material in the new zone/s.)

This idea however makes perfect sense if you've NOT been playing since Vanilla, want to take advantage of a certain profession in a pre-designated patch window, and don't have the time to hunt down Massive Mojo or Hula Dolls when all you really need is to max the skill in an evening. No more need to visit all the other zones or track down which vendor has which pattern. Simplicity itself.

The question then becomes: do you really want a game where it is this simple to change professions? I'm betting for a lot of people the answer will be YES, and as a result I wonder if this datamining is a taste of the immediate future or whether we'd have to wait for a new Expansion for this plan to become a reality...

The Wall Street Shuffle :: 5.2 Edition

Ooh look. New things.

Apart from the amended patch notes released for 5.2, there's a great deal of interesting datamined material (as always) from Wowhead (from whom this screenie is taken.) Of particular interest are the above transmutes, which not only hint at new Leatherworking recipes (what do we get?) but at a new use for green gems, potentially cutting into a staple for many Jewelcrafter/Enchanter Combos, the Ghost Iron Shuffle.

Currently when I'm prospecting ore, I use my green gems to make Jewellery which I then disenchant on my Enchanter, creating dust that can then be converted into any of the current enchanting materials, depending on sale values. This is one of the 'shuffles' I know a lot of serious gold makers like to use as a way of disseminating items into the AH economy. What I don't know, and I suspect some Jewelcrafters may be able to enlighten me, is if it is worth using 30 gems to convert to one. Of greater interest is the new Serpent's Heart, and what it may indeed 'contain within...' I'm also going to assume it will take considerably fewer Prismatic Scales to transmute as it will Exotic Leather, and this is likely to also have an effect on the current PvP Armour Market, especially as we will move into a new season and (presumably) will require new items to replace old ones. Let's hope that the recipes themselves update as they have in Cataclysm, and I won't need to be transmuting every day in order to complete my recipe collection...

More interesting still is the introduction of a number of Blacksmithing 'Training' projects, which could mean that to access the new patterns that will become available via the Thunder Forge you will require a sizeable down payment of ore. If my maths is correct, that will mean 280 bars, or 560 ore required to complete everything currently datamined. Blacksmiths might want to factor this into their gathering strategies...  but that might not be all. There are also a large number of training projects listed in the 'Uncategorised' section of Wowhead's info dump:


What this amount of patterns might suggest is not entirely clear: they could be indicators for other professions as well as Blacksmithing, or the possibility that Blacksmithing is about to undergo a transformation similar to Cookery that would allow you to train it from scratch using only Pandaran materials. This would then allow non-Blacksmiths to train from 1-500 (which is certainly what the tooltip is indicating), taking conventional recipes from 525 onwards,  then allowing them to gain access to the Forge with only Ghost Iron Ore required to get them there. If that were the case, I'd confidently predict this model will roll out across other professions too, and the value of raw materials may yet react in 5.2 as a result.

Watch this Space :D

A Change is Gonna Come...

When I grow up...
I'd like my name in Blue.

Apologies for the shoddy nature of graphics this afternoon but I'm posting this live from Disease Central, where pictures are not necessarily the most important order of business (note to self, kitchen towel are not tissues, get ye to a Pharmacy.) I have words to say regarding the latest word dump which are the 5.2 Patch notes, because frankly there's an awful lot that's going to change, and not all of it for the better. So, without further ado...

I'm skipping the quest hub stuff, and the Legendary stuff AND the class changes, which are too complicated at this point for my brain to adequately grasp. Needless to say, this counts as a MAJOR content patch, and then some. What I want to look at is twofold, and you'll find it in the Raids, Dungeons and Scenarios section:

  • To encourage Raid Finder groups to persevere, each time an Raid Finder group wipes on a boss fight all players in the group receives a stacking buff that increases health, damage dealt, and healing done by 5% (up to a maximum of 10 stacks). This buff is cleared once the boss has been killed.

DO WOT BLIZZARD?

To 'encourage' Raid Finder groups to persevere? *shakes head* nononononono. People do this because they want to, and when you die it should teach you two fundamental things:

1. You did it wrong
2. You need to be better

It really IS NOT YOUR JOB to hold people's hands any more than they already are, because this will not promote ANY kind of learning process, it will just allow people to faceroll content to the point where nobody learns anything at all and the entire game experience is further reduced in relevance. I can see why you've introduced it, but really... this isn't going to help anyone in the long term if people don't actually GRASP HOW TO PLAY.

Having launched that piece of frankly unbelievable news into the ether, then we have a follow-up:

  • The chance of getting personal loot in Raid Finder and the chance of a successful bonus roll in Raid Finder have been greatly increased for the 5.0 raids. 

So, it isn't just me, then.The drop rate does suck...

Excuse me while I go and quietly cry in a corner...




There is some good news, fortunately, and most of it seems to be occurring in areas I like playing:

  • The chance to fish up Flying Tiger Gourami, Spinefish Alpha and Mimic Octopus has been increased.
  • Reputation gains from bringing rare Pandarian fish for Nat Pagle to examine has been increased.

YAY for Fish, and considering the major changes coming up (including fishing for Battle Pets) I'll wager there'll be a lot of time in 5.2 with a rod in the water (fnar fnar) But it gets better:

  • Two-handed axes, maces, and swords can be Transmogrified to each other.
  • One-handed axes, maces, and swords can be Transmogrified to each other.
  • Staves and polearms can be transmogrified to each other.
This also makes me particularly happy, and I suspect there may be some aggressive farming to capitalise. The biggest changes however are in the section marked 'Pet Battles':

  • Fluxfire Feline's Wind-Up has been replaced with a new ability, Flux, which deals damage to the enemy team.

Stitch that Cheaty PvP-ers. Time to go away and actually learn how to play :P
 
  • Disconnecting from a pet battle will once again respawn the pets you were fighting.

YAY for actually realising that a DC was not a cheat, it was just that extra bit of luck you needed after the last 25 pets you battled were all Uncommon Quality and that one was a Rare. I'm almost prepared to forgive you for the Stacking Buff of Fail on this one... almost ^^

==

Needless to say, you should read the full set of Patch Notes. Then you should be looking at what Wowhead datamined, which is where we go next, coz those changes are gonna make the gold farmers sit up and take notice...

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Smells Like Teen Spirit

It knows, you know.


Today's Twitter discussion began innocently enough.


This is how great posts are created...

Yes, Vanilla was rubbish. I was there and can say that in all seriousness. Four hours to only half finish a 40 man instance. Gear drops rarer than dodos. You've heard it all before, and ironically there's probably a couple more blog posts off the back of this discussion (involving what might actually have been good) but that's not my point. The smell is the thing here, and I stuck the question back onto Twitter almost immediately.


What would an MMO smell of, especially if it was brand new?

My choices were basic: Vanilla (obviously) was the first choice, almost as a reflex, not simply because of the references above. The first version of any game is the original flavour, the first iteration of your concept. Vanilla just works as an accompaniment. Then there would be the new-player odour (which I'd associate with the inside a recently-purchased car, an odd mix of polish and various raw materials) and finally the freshness of newly-cut grass, as everyone begins their journey on the same level playing field.

Twitter answers have been fabulously eclectic thus far: mossy forests, wet dog and sea salt (with blood and sweat mixed in for good measure), leather and the musty smells from long-forgotten crypts. A friend had even suggested it would taste of salt too, from the weeping of others: someone ought to market a 'Tears of your Opponents' Energy Drink, you know. It is always fascinating to me to see how people look at the worlds around them, whether they choose to simply play things as they are or to immerse themselves in the 'world' that they are presented with. I think one of the key factors in making an MMO a success is the ability for it to be able to stir such feelings, to transport them into a world where they could imagine these things would be real.

So, I ask the question not simply to the Twitterverse but to the Blogshpere too: when you sit down and play a new MMO, do you think about how it would smell? How it would taste? Is the sign of a good MMO the fact it would inspire such responses to begin with? More importantly, if you could bottle that new MMO smell, would it actually sell? Could we have the next must-have fragrance hit for this year...?

Why We Fight :: An Introduction to Pet Battling

A little from Column A...
 
Any guide to anything, at least in my mind, needs to have a reason for being. Before we begin, therefore, it is time for some essential exposition.

When Blizzard announced Pet Battles back in October 2011 I was, I'll happily admit, one of the sceptics. I'd been collecting pets for a VERY long time: it began somewhere during The Burning Crusade (I still kick myself for not having either the Vanilla or TBC Collectors Editions for the pets even to this day) and I had spent many, many hours grinding mobs for drops so hard to obtain I would often question my own sanity for doing so. To have a world crawling with pets made part of my brain bask in an endorphine rush that no amount of exercise or chocolate consumption would ever replicate. To have to fight for them somehow just seemed WRONG: I'd already done that for the 175 plus I owned before Blizzard opened the floodgates. Why would this even work as a concept?

My 12 year old son provided me with the answer: a veteran Pokeman trainer knew gaming gold when he saw it, and I can remember the discussion we had shortly afterwards. Collecting was half the fun, the other was learning the ways to beat the other pets, to get the best quality you could. I knew at the time that I didn't want another 'game' to play, I already had one of those taking up my time, but I found myself considering the possibilities this departure would afford me with, and I'll admit I was gradually hooked. My contrary stance shifted, as I realised that, just like anything else I might pick up and be a part of, the experience was what I made of it. As soon as the game appeared on the Mists of Pandaria beta, I knew it was too late. I was DOOMED.

A lot of that has to do with the sheer amount of time and effort the game developers put into the nuts and bolts of gameplay, the level of thought that was ingrained into every part of the experience, including the things you might not immediately consider important. If you are reading this guide of the first time I'd urge you to press Shift+P (other keybindings are available,) go to your pet interface, and click on some of the pets you could own as you begin your journey as a Battler. Every one has a description: some are priceless (my particular favourite is for the Horde Balloon) and are written by people who clearly understand that to make such an endeavour work successfully, there needs to be a particular investment of emotional energy. With such a solid foundation, it is no wonder that battling is now as much a part of the game landscape as professions or the Tiller's Farm Experience (TM).

This Guide will do its utmost to explain to you what is required for you to fight: there is a questline embedded within the experience which will pit you against an increasingly fiendish (and often downright evil) set of NPC Trainers whose job it is to hand your behind to you multiple times unless you can begin to grasp that actually, yes, there is a way to win. That involves understanding pet 'families' (there are ten), abilities and how the rarity of your pet itself can have a significant effect on the outcome of your endeavours. It will also take up a great deal of time, because to do all of this requires an investment that many people I know will be unwilling to give considering what else the game currently asks of its players. However, if you are willing, I am able, and I'll be spending as long as it takes to pass on the extent of my rapidly evolving knowledge, most of which has been gathered face down in the dirt across five continents.

If you ask me why I fight, the answer is simple: because I can. I've found something in game which is truly special, and hugely entertaining, to the point that even my committed non-pet loving husband has begun to grasp its significance for me. I love the business of looking for rares, for fighting battles, even sitting for hours in the vain hope that the right pet will spawn so I can go and add it to my collection. As I write this I have collected 497 of the available 523 pets I could own in game: I'll keep going until I can get as many as conceivably possible. I may not ever own a Baneling (I can't justify buying a CE for a game I'll never play) or a Zergling (damn you Vanilla CE!) but you can guarantee that if I can own it, it's in my sights. You will be mine, oh yes.

That's how committed I am, and I'm ready to teach you everything I know. Make yourselves comfortable, because we're going to be here for quite some time.

I know why I fight. Now it's time to find your answers.

The Song Remains the Same

I've been doing my best to keep the song/album titles vibe going since early December (thanks Bob) and I intend to continue the trend with a couple of notable exceptions, starting today. The reason requires a little explanation, so please briefly indulge me.

I applied for a job at WoW Insider last month. One of the criteria was to write three articles that would have fitted into the site's ethos: my next post was one of them. I've been planning to write a definitive Pet Battle Guide for some time, and I'd decided (should I be hired) it would be a thing WoW Insider should do. Needless to say, I'll now be writing one here.

As I come up for another major Blogging Anniversary this week I'd like to thank everyone who's followed me over the last year, and hope I can keep the same consistent level of substandard gubbins going for quite some time to come...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Nobody Does It Better


It was the 1970's, but it seems like only yesterday...


One of the undoubted highlights of last year's Olympic Opening Ceremony owed a great deal to the above bit of (worryingly) vintage cinema: fortunately the only time Daniel Craig channelled Roger Moore was the Union Jack parachute. The Bond franchise is now undergoing a decidedly healthy reboot, and I know I'm not the only person eagerly anticipating Skyfall's release on DVD. I can already see you wondering how I'm going to turn this into a Warcraft post, because I'm pretty far away from anything virtual or that might contain a cameo by a Gnome, but humour me. It's the word 'reboot' we're interested in here: Hollywood loves the concept. Spiderman's already undergone a re-incarnation, Superman's next up to the blocks (Christopher Reeve makes Moore look positively animated, so I'm all for this one) and I find myself considering the benefits of tearing up a concept and starting again.

I wonder, can I persuade Blizzard to do that with the World Events template?

Once upon a time, when everybody was new to the game, the monthly festivals were great diversions from the normal run of events on Azeroth. Adding the additional 'carrot' of a mount with top level mount speed was a stroke of inspired genius, and I remember the enjoyment I had (plus the frustration, looking at you Children's Week) in finally gaining my Meta and the achievement, What a Long, Strange Trip it's Been. Eight years on however, and the cracks are most definitely beginning to show, despite various amendments and upgrades to gear iLevels. What used to be a great way to spend some time in game has become tired and repetitive: after all, once you've explored every part of the World once, do you really want to have to do it again every time a new Festival rolls around? If you want XP and cash this is no longer the best or most economic use of your time to do so. With so much variety and interest in other areas of the game, isn't it high time Blizzard considered a World Events reboot?

The biggest single problem that I can see is the amount of content tied up with an upgrade: as things have been added and tinkered with over the years there's been some consolidation with the basics (at least now most festivals have a tokens = prizes mechanic) but there's precious little in terms of new things to do or to purchase. Winter Veil, for instance, was sorely disappointing this year: yeah, the footballs are great to play with but it might have been more sensible to actually engage the Pandaren a bit more in the entire shebang, especially as they were spending their first time in the Festival. In fact, I'd love to see any kind of concession (in quest form) to try and make our new friends both welcome and involved: there are no Elders in Pandaria at all, but they're everywhere else. Yes, I KNOW you could argue that because they've been lost for so long the festival wouldn't have any Elders there to begin with, but is that really the excuse we're going to use for everything else remaining unchanged?

This would normally be the paragraph where I came up with some helpful tips to change the way the World Events are conducted, but part of me really doesn't want that to happen: I want them removed completely so we can start from scratch. I know that's a largely impractical idea, but when I look at the way Blizzard have created the Wanderer's Festival in Krasarang, which runs for two hours every Sunday, I find myself thinking that maybe the future is more about small and less about large. I'd love to see more 'moments' that worked like this, that occurred across the Continents, perhaps in tandem with the bigger events. Looking at the Fishing 'migrations' that are being tested in 5.2 I wonder how hard it would be to insert similar circumstances into every World Event, to at least bring some variety to proceedings. Failing that I have to say that I think the current World Event model is no longer fit for purpose.

Looking at the sheer amount of new content being worked on for 5.2, including sizable updates to the 'monthy' event that is the Darkmoon Faire, I really hope it isn't long before someone's given the job of sitting down and giving the Calender a good once over. Reboots are a great way of re-acquainting both new and old audiences of your content, after all. Needless to say, I for one would be all ears if you decide to reinvent the Lunar Festival, or Children's Week... and I'm betting I wouldn't be alone.

My orphan would probably thank you as well...

Monday, January 28, 2013

'Well, Well,' said the Rocking Chair.



I had a plan for a second post today. I'm not going to do it. Instead I'm going to leave you with this video and the best piece of advice I was ever given (apart from always know where the exits are.)

Take a look at the place you call your home,
You're reflected in all the things you own:
And the seeds of reason you have sown,
They're a measure of a part of you that's already grown...

Yes, it's going to be alright, even if it isn't the early 1980's anymore when everything was just so much SIMPLER. Trust me when I say they don't write them like this today, and if you like your lyrics this clever  you should go listen to Partners in Crime. Just saying' ^^

PS: Still not forgiven Noel Edmonds for warping my music tastes. Captain Beaky, looking at you.

She Blinded Me with Science

Instant discussion. Just add opinion.



I love how a random comment can start something thought-provoking in my brain.

I had this 'conversation' on a Saturday night with someone I don't know. I still know very little about them, truth be told (am hoping that will change), but when someone asks a question in this kind of context, I sit up and take notice. This isn't looking at Warcraft simply as something to be enjoyed and experienced, this is making the game something else entirely. This makes the game something rather more sobering.

I have spoken before about addiction, and obsession, and that the 'gaming environment' is just another of a myriad of places, substances or attitudes that could lead to long term issues. I've become conscious as I've aged about throwing labels at other people: however, I can sit here and happily acknowledge that as someone with a predisposition to indulgence, gaming's just as dangerous as alcohol or gambling, perhaps more so. Knowing why people become addicted to begin with is therefore useful in understanding how to prevent it: however, with something as complex as Warcraft there are many external factors that also need to be considered. I don't know if the question was posed on the back of such discussions, but I do know it made me think about what makes people come back long after the lure of accomplishment and entitlement have faded. After all, there are very few 'Game Over' signposts on Azeroth, and you're 'technically' never at the Really End Game until the franchise  finally closes its doors.

We had some Drama (TM) in Guild last week, which led me to ask one of my Officers why he kept coming back to play, even when there were attractive alternatives to Azeroth. His answer was similar to a great many people's, mine included. I increasingly don't play for the game any more, I play for the people I know, and that has more relevance to me (on many days) than the actual content. For instance, last night I'd expected to have a quiet night faffing on my baby Monk but instead took four bosses in MSV in possible the most relaxed of atmospheres I've experienced since the Expansion launched. It really wasn't about anything but doing the run for me: if I hadn't have come nine other people wouldn't have been able to play. That's nothing to do with any of the factors that I mention in my Twitter exchange, its all about being helpful and accommodating. Ironically I have two upgrades from my travels, but I certainly don't feel I should have got them as payment or that they should be the least I should receive for the time.

It is easy to forget the complexity involved when making choices online: often it is simply about what you want, when you want it, with scant regard for others if there is minimal interaction. Warcraft as an experience can easily be played alone, something I do perhaps more than I should. Being forced into situations where both interaction and respect are required (lets say LFR as a contentious example) can have some interesting consequences. It is no wonder that various people have conducted studies into the likes of online personas and how actions in gaming situations often have no bearing on the players true personality. I suspect there are many groups who look at online communities of this size for many reasons not simply wrapped up in interactivity and immersion. There are many, many studies ripe for instigation. I often feel that this kind of 'community' is a signpost of what we could become in the future, not simply online, and that many more questions should be asked as to accountability and responsibility to those involved.

Suffice it to say, there are a lot of things both wrong and right with Warcraft, and I'm not just talking about the fact that I STILL DON'T HAVE A MOOSE. [*] I wish I was qualified to be able to write an in depth and relevant answer to the question of how people engage content in game, and why. If someone's out there and reading this who is capable, I'd be really interested to see what you'd come up with, because I do think that there are so many factors at work in game (not simply age and peer groups) that it would be really hard to narrow it down to a definitive answer. This is the moment where I realise my interest in the academic side of these subjects invariably comes to a grinding halt when I grasp my own incapability in explaining anything more intellectual than where I left my glasses, and that it is better to leave such things to those who know best. Needless to say, I think it's worth pursuing, just not with the abilities I have at my disposal.

This is however proof positive that if you're not on Twitter, you are missing out on some FABULOUS potential stimulation for your braincells. What are you waiting for?


[*] This is a joke. I'm only entitled to a Pony, and Ghostcrawler's sorted that anyway.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Running in the Family

 Needs moar listage...

We'll be back to twice daily postage starting again tomorrow, but for now it is time to address one of the bonuses of having a low level alt on the go: pet battleage. On arrival in Westfall Friday night it became apparent that I could do the low level Pet Battle trainers as daily quests, with a very healthy dose of XP to boot. This set me thinking: this would be an ideal opportunity to do some low level work on the pets whilst I'm making my way to 90. To aid this, I need to tip my hat to the estimable Ratshag who clued me into a most excellent addon to facilitate just that: Pet Battle Teams.


All Blues, No Waiting.

This lovely bolt-on to the Pet window allows you to select custom teams, name them, and switch between them at the touch of a button. More significantly it remembers which spells you select and shows you instantly what level your teams are at without the need to flick through the interface. As you can see B has five current teams that she's been using in Elwynn (upgrades to Black Lamb and Fawn, check) that will follow her as she moves to Loch Moden to herb (Little Black Ram required amongst others.) As you can see from the list above I'm making a physical list of all the pets at Uncommon or below and intend to use free time to try and pick up upgrades: I am not playing to furnish the fastest team or to be a serious PvP Player, I should add. My personal goal is to obtain as many pets at Rare quality as possible.

I'm still well off my goal of 75 x L25 pets, but this is a good distraction from that as I level the Monk. It does at least mean I can be battling with something, even if I'm not capable of being in high level areas at present.