Saturday, June 08, 2013

Sky High

Economics in Action. Excitement is everything.

On the day I played the Lottery for the first time in forever (and won £2.80, go me!) this post seems particularly apposite. I've been watching the sale of Unclaimed Black Market Containers on the Black Market Auction House with increasing interest and, I must say amazement. Thus far, none that I've tracked have sold for less than 50,000g. I'm beginning to wonder if this is a gamble I'm simply unwilling to undertake.

If Blizzard were looking new sources for a gold sink, there were plenty of ways they could have made one. Certainly the Engineering and Jewelcrafting mounts already do a decent job of parting people with large piles of coin, but with them you at least know what you're getting. Dropping 50k on what might end up as a Cat Carrier [Siamese] might seem ridiculous to many, but there's a lot of VERY useful stuff on the BMAH to be had. This is the Wowhead link to possible contents, and the 535 items alone should be enough to get people excited: however, all of these items are BoP. The non-bind items all have the potential for resale (especially patterns and some of the more exotic mounts) but would you REALLY shell out 1/20th of the personal Gold Cap on the offchance you got lucky?

Supply and demand says you would.

I have seen the people buying these Containers, and they're players for whom money is not a problem any more. They're also more than comfortable with 'risking' the cost of earning the gold against the chance of picking up something useful. It might seem like high-stakes gambling, but that's not strictly true. Winning is no guarantee of a return of your money, or indeed of an increase in your 'stake.' I've seen a lot of people compare these guys to the Fortune Cards so popular during Cataclysm (where you had a chance of a 5000g card.) but this is an entirely different level of engagement. For most people 50k is enough of a sum to make a real difference to their quality of online 'life.' To watch the bidding on these items, to see sometimes more people in front of the BMAH than I'd see in the Dwarven District in Stormwind, makes me realise there really are a lot of different people playing this game, with greatly varying desires.

Without getting into a deep and (quite possibly) incendiary discussion about adrenaline highs, it is fair to say that excitement will play a part in the purchase of these items, as will boredom. If you're gold capped, what's next? Do you start all over again, and if so what better way to blow all that virtual money than with a punt on something that might gift you with one of the most sought-after items in game? If you have the money to burn, who's to say what you do with it? For those of us who thought these things might make for interesting ways to 'gamble' with smaller amounts, it looks like it is going to be a very long wait before there's a chance to pick up a container at all...

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Choice is Yours

My view on the new Raid Tiers. Other views are available.

I have spoken on many occasions in this parish of the issues surrounding change. For many, it remains the constant enemy, the annoyance that makes everything Not As Good As It Was In Vanilla. Many players don't like it, others heartily embrace each alteration, but for a game like Warcraft which evolves more than a hormonally-charged Pokemon, change is ultimately inevitable. Flexible Raiding, as we noted earlier today, has the potential to radically reform the entire End-Game landscape. It could be the best thing to happen to casual raiding since 10 mans were introduced. However, if the discussion I've had on Twitter since that post are any indicator, not everyone is happy. Before we attack how this change could affect the gaming landscape, let us be clear on where Flex stands in terms of difficulty.

Can you tell I'm not a fan of LFR any more? ^^

I am not an End-Game raider, I never have been, but I know people who are. As a rule I try not to argue with these people, because inevitably I will lose. There's a reason for this, ingrained in the way I've always approached this MMO. I don't turn up to be first. These people's lives revolve around Firsts, about doing the job ahead of the curve. This is something I often envy, but ultimately want no part of, because of the commitment and ability required. I simply don't have what it takes to be the required standard, when that means having absolutely the best gear available and the ability to hit things as long as is needed until they die before anyone else kills them. For these people, giving a whole new tier of gear has been met with a measure of alarm, because it means an extra 'farm' to keep them ahead of the competition.

I have to admit, this initially puzzled me, because if (as we see above) 11-24 beats DOOM, surely you ignore DOOM altogether? However, I am aware that not all gear works in the same way, that some options might give an advantage over others (especially in the first days of a race with tier bonuses) and so HAVING IT ALL is a viable way to make sure you're ahead of the curve. This is where the Beast of Choice rears its ugly head for the first time: making decisions NOT to gear from a certain place are as important as taking everything and weeding out what's best, surely? I'm not a Theorycrafter, that much must be apparent by now, but I grasp the most important piece of equipment available to any Hardcore End Game raider is time. Time works the numbers for you, time decides who gets geared before who based on numbers and situational fights. Time therefore becomes a luxury you have to spread even thinner when a new 'tier' appears, because those extra bonuses will make the difference between life and death.

There's already a solution for this on the table, that if DOOM and 11-24 share the same lockout, then all the Hardcores can have that decision made for them. However, Blizzard were making a fairly big thing of the Flex working in tandem with LFR: for those people who don't have to worry about a Realm First under their belts, this gives them the option to gear to their particular level of need without being restricted by such choices. Without 5 Man Heroics to fall back on, and only Scenarios as the alternatives for people to gather Valor, whose choice becomes the more important? When you look at this in those terms, there's potentially an awful lot of people that could be disenfranchised by the extra tier. Those of us who'd use it in favour of LFR and hope we'd never step in the place again may have overlooked the fact that, like it or not, LFR is serving another section of the raiding community.

There are bigger issues to consider than simply new tier.

Many players don't have the luxury of a bulging Friends List. There is not the opportunity to meet via Cross Realm raiding due to time constraints, working odd hours or living in out of synch timezones to normal realms. For them, LFR will remain the only way to experience Endgame, so encouraging people to keep using that format must be a priority in maintaining the status quo. Even though Flex gives the more user-controlled experience of content, there is still likely to remain a demand for LFR, which means putting them on the same lockout could cause inconvenience to a larger group of individuals than simply the Hardcore Endgamers. However, Classy makes perhaps the most salient point of all: it's all very well having all these options, but if you've got no-one to play with, what's the point?

Decisions like this aren't directed at those who remain playing. They are often squarely aimed at returning people to the fold, as part of an ongoing process of 'engagement' which some find frustrating, because of the continuous altering affect on the gaming landscape. Many feel that endgame is bloated enough as it is, with too many choices to begin with. Adding Flex to an ever-burgeoning list of potential places to raid isn't going to alleviate this issue either, for many it may simply make things worse. The basic fact remains however: choices are the players to make and not dictated by the volume of content Blizzard provides. If that means Endgamers feel pressure to complete both tiers to min/max, that isn't simply a consequence of this change, there are far more considerations at play. You have to look at a player's place in the Raiding curve, the competition they have and the desire to win as far more pressing factors. If the raider then chooses to take the extra work, then so be it. That must be balanced ultimately with their desire to obtain their happiness, or whatever adjective that person would use to describe their reason for playing.

I have to think, that in the larger scheme of things, Flex Raiding is the Holy Grail for everyone but the Hardcore. It has the chance to become a saviour against falling numbers for low-membered raiding guilds. It could allow 10 man rivals to become first Flex, then 25 man teams. It will allow those who find LFR impersonal and divisive a means to set their own rules and place the control of the raiding situation back into their own hands. For these reasons alone it has to be said that leaving 11-24 mas with not only their own loot but also a separate lockout gives the best of all possible worlds to the largest possible set of players. The question then has to be: is that something the Hardcore are willing to embrace, or will they simply see it as yet another means to belittle the process of their particular brand of Endgame?

I understand all the opinions in this discussion: just because I don't raid Hardcore doesn't mean I don't grasp the concepts of dedication and sacrifice involved. Ultimately, Blizzard have given the community what, in effect, LFR SHOULD have been when it launched in Cataclysm. The choice now is very much ours: we choose to make it work, or we won't be back here in another two years. That financial decision very much remains in our hands.

The Re-flex

The Flexible Raid system is designed so that the challenge level will scale depending on how many players you have in the Raid. So if you switch between 14 players one week and 22 the next, the difficulty will adjust automatically. Keep in mind that unlike Raid Finder, no matchmaking is available, so you’ll need to make sure you invite people to attend—but if some can’t make it, it’s not the end of the world (or the Raid). You’ll also still be able to invite Real ID or friends cross-realm. Who you choose to bring and what Item Level gear they’ll need to join your merry band is up to you, too—there’s no Item Level requirement for this Raid difficulty.
5.4's 'unannounced' feature looks like it is finally out of the bag. I think Ghostcrawler's hype might actually have been justified.

This announcement marks what is probably THE most significant shift in mechanic design since the game began. I know of many, many people who have pushed long and hard for the introduction of scalable content (looks at Mr Bear Butt amongst others) and this move makes it a fairly safe bet that everything we'll be given from this point onwards will work under that model. That means a lot of potential changes not simply to the way large groups take their content, but quite possibly five mans and scenarios too.

However, there is a more significant development hidden within this announcement. I find it really hard to believe that Blizzard would introduce this 'new system' in 5.4 and then automatically exclude that content from Real ID participation. That means, at least the way I read this, that although 10 and 25 man will remain the same in terms of who you can bring (and therefore preserve the sanctity of the Realm First race), Flex Raiding will not. Until it is confirmed I'm not going to get TOO excited, but I reckon this could mean that Cross Realm Raiding will FINALLY be available for at least some portion of current content come 5.4.

If that is the case, this really is a very smart move on Blizzard's part.

Of course, there are likely to be those people who won't see a real benefit in this change. There will be Guilds like ours who still can't get 10 people together to begin with (chances of an eight man option possible?) or those people who feel that this form of raiding is further diluting the sanctity of the End Game. The fact remains, Blizzard are the only people with all the numbers. They know how big Guilds are and who is capable of raiding at any given time. This will make life considerably easier for a great many Guilds, and with the Cross-Realm option filling gaps in raids will become a formality. However, there are issues with that attitude.

Someone remarked on MMO this week that the deliberate reduction in Realm Transfer costs might be because the 5.4 feature would negate the need for that happening: certainly for the casual player that could be construed to be the case with this announcement. It won't matter where you live in your region if you want to Flex Raid, just who you have on your friends list. What will matter for many even more is the level of Tier you'll be likely to get, and as that will be a step up from LFR raiding, the potential for Flex suddenly becomes utterly huge. Yes, you may never have to step foot in LFR ever again. Small Guilds across different Realms can reach out to each other and form groups: two 10 man teams from disparate backgrounds can combine to make a 20 man unit that can add a weekly Flex raid to their schedules.

The potential really is limitless with player imagination.

This move also has the potential to re-energise 25 man raiding: if a 24 man team is Flexing (but is on a number of servers) the carrot of doing it 'properly' in 25 might well be enough to entice people to shift servers to do so. That is going to depend on the level of rewards (and scale of difficulty) 25 man offers from Flex, and this is probably the area I'd want to watch the closest when the feature is implemented. Of course, there will be those people who have no desire to change servers but still want the option to raid in an environment of their own devising, and for them Flex offers pretty much the best of all worlds. If this all works like this, then I reckon 5.4 could see many people resubbing for the chance of something truly different in the End Game. I have to believe that this is Blizzard's intention, and that the social benefits are simply the icing on the cake.

I look forward to more information in the weeks that follow.

Thursday, June 06, 2013


Really, the belt doesn't matter as a Goblin... ^^

I've still not had sufficient time to analyse the new content, although I am now in a position to complete the 5.3 Weekly I don't think I'd try doing it at this point in the 'week.' My plan is to leave that grind to either Monday or Tuesday, when everyone else has properly done their faffing. I'll concentrate on the camps (50% of my grind will also yield free Exotic Leather to boot) and once I've done that you'll get my thoughts. For now, let us try and relax. STOP LOOKING AT THE BELT, DAMMIT.

Okay, I should probably explain. P's Mogging Outfit is still short one item, and has been since I had the Gauntlets of Kalimdor drop when AQ40 Pet Farming. This is part of the Shaman set 'Stormcaller's Garb' and the belt, the Grasp of the Fallen Emperor, has far better pixel definition than the existing item I'm using (Felstalker Belt, crafted for convenience and best fit.) The problem is, it's a 13% drop from Emperor Vek'nilash. It is, without fail, the only thing I now do every week. I am determined to farm the AQ40 entrance until it drops or until the game's turned off, whichever comes first. It is also a convenient excuse to swing by Silithus and see if the Qiraji Guardian I need for Zookeeper is up. Needless to say, for this week at least, I'll expect to come back from the desert empty-handed.

T'was ever thus.

I have decided this week to properly plan the business of farming things from the Old World to fill in various gaps and complete Achievements, starting with AQ40. If I'm smart, I can minimise my travel time and combine many things together as I do this. After all, as the Goblins never tire of saying, time IS money, friend! Hence, yet another handy-dandy bullet point 'Travel Itinerary' was born...

P's Big Adventure (5.4 Stylee)

  • Start in Silithus (AQ40 Belt), Qiraji Guardian pet (eventually, oh yes.)

  • Move to Uldum: Vortex Pinnacle (Normal) x 5 until Lockout. Camel Figurine flypast in vain hope I can find one to transport me to Ferelas...

  • Rub HS, Portal to SW, boat to Northrend. Fly from Tundra to Utgarde Pinnacle for Heroic Run at Skadi the Useless. On way, look for Unborn Val'kyr (and fail miserably) Even less chance of swinging past Storm Peaks and finding TLPD BUT I'LL STILL DO IT. [As Noted: Kirin Tor Ring would also do job. I don't have an Argent Tabard :(]

  • Rub HS, Portal to Shatt. Off to Setthek Halls to get laughed at by Anzu. After that, go farm SSC and TK for Battle Pets.

  • Be grateful my HS only has a 15 minute CD. Nip across to Theramore (or what's left of it) and give Onyxia a poke.

  • Finally, back to SW one last time to fly to Duskwood, then to Karazhan. Beat up the Pet Trainer 'in passing.'

If I'm smart I'll also locate the various Pet Trainers close to these locations and add them to the Itinerary, because you can never have enough Bandages and the chance of a stone is too great an incentive to ignore at this stage. I'm pretty certain I can't do all of this in one hit, but even if I took each 'point' as one thing a day I've already filled an entire week of playtime aside from the business of grinding Valor and the other stuff that I'd like to complete. In no particular order, that sits at the following:

  • The Seat of Knowledge (and the corresponding Kla'xxi equivalent.)

  • Completing the Beasts of Fable Questline.

  • Grinding 10,998 Dinosaur Bones (mount + pet.)

  • Levelling my JC to 90 for the 5 mounts that would afford (eventually.)

  • Levelling my Tailor to 90 for Royal Satchel access.

  • Level Four Brawler's Guild status for access to Clock'em.

  • Building a massive farming empire so I might crush the rest of the server under the boot of my oppressive capitalism (Internal Monologue Failure, please reboot operator...)

*cough* Sorry about that, Now, where was I?

This is why I get confused when people say to me that this game is 'no longer engaging.' This is what makes me wonder why ANYONE could be bored with the game, because there is frankly just so much left that I want to do and frankly not ever enough hours of the day in which to do it. Then I realise that I play the game as much as an exercise in personal organisational ability as entertainment and my entire theory comes crashing down around me in a large and rather evil-smelling mess. I'm always at my happiest when a) there's a plan and b) that plan INCLUDES FAFFING. In terms of potential, this period in gaming is probably one of the most potential-filled for a while, with the ability to constantly vex me with OMG RNG NICK OFF moments.

I may moan, but I does love me some great RNG Drama.

I'll be attempting to utulise both Facebook and Twitter a little more in the coming months for a visual 'journey' as I try and knock as much of this off over the Summer as I possibly can, and I think we'll come back in September and see where we are. For now, I think I'll grab a cuppa and try and tick off #1 on that first list...

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


What is this good for? Absolutely nothing! SAY IT AGAIN.

Once upon a time, Legendary weapons were truly worth the pixels they were created from. Ask anyone who went and forged Thunderfury in Vanilla. Black Temple Glaives still inspire jealous looks from wielders. Is it the colour that fascinates, or was it simply the stats, back in the day? I suspect it was a bit of both, but mostly the fact that orange was a colour pretty much reserved for the select few. All that has changed, with anyone playing (potentially) able to wield a Legendary... and therein lies a problem. I find it rather ironic that I STILL have two Legendary items gathering dust in my bank after THREE patches of this expansion, simply because I'm not in a position to use them. As a result I find myself in no real hurry to even try and complete Part Three of Wrathion's Questline.

I'm pretty certain that's not working as intended.

The idea is a great one, that I'll not fault. I won't even complain about the item gathering or BG participation, because the basic principle behind the 'episodic' nature of the Quest is sound. One step per Patch gives people a chance to catch up if they turn up late. The only issue then is the time you have to invest... or is it? I was of the impression that these 'Legendaries' where made to help you play as you progressed through each patch. That means, once I got my +500 agility gem, I should have just stuck it in my gear. However, as I know how often I'd change my items, I couldn't justify using a Legendary gem on anything other than a Legendary item, so I decided to wait for the socket and a weapon worthy of the Orange. That meant holding on for the RNG to give me a suitable weapon in which to insert it. When I finally got that from MV with decent stats, the socket was unusable. I'd have to wait for a Sha-Touched Weapon or a weapon from ToT, both of which I'm only able to complete in LFR.

I'm sorry, but I now realise that's not good enough.

I suspect this outlook is the equivalent of having a well-developed palate. Chefs will tell you the ability to distinguish different tastes is a vital part of their repertoire. It's why they know that something tastes good, whilst telling you another version of the same dish is bad. The problem comes when you KNOW what is the best item is in game for your class, and why everything else isn't. Sticking a socket in an inferior item is all well and good, but it's never going to be as good as the Best in Slot. Simply slapping your item on the first usable item you get doesn't make that feel legendary because of the Orange. You can't make something bad taste better just by dressing it up to seem fancier than it actually is. It is still, like it or not, bad. Of course, it also helps if you own something that you can actually use. Ironically now LFR is not my best chance of an upgrade in iLevel terms, Heroic Scenarios are, and EVERY SINGLE WEAPON I'd be able to win in those isn't either Sha-Touched or eligible for the socket. Top move, Blizzard.

Don't even start me on not having a Thunder Throne-forged Hunter weapon either.

There is a basic flaw in the Legendary 'plan': the fact you need to take a VERY specific path in able to complete it. This is, I suppose, no difference between this and running Molten Core every week for three years (looks at Mr Alt) to get what you want, the only difference being that the rewards are easier to gain. However, actually using them isn't, and that is probably the biggest single issue. I find myself thinking that there was another of those classic Left hand/Right hand planning conflicts with this: I also feel that LFR as a means to obtain the quest items was perhaps not the smartest of moves either. Part of me now actually wishes that you'd only been able to collect items in 10/25 mans, because it might have served as actual encouragement to people to raid 'properly' and not simply take the easy way out. What we need right now, more than anything else, is to ENCOURAGE MORE PEOPLE TO RAID WELL. LFR is not an incentive to do that, and it is certainly not a happy place to go for many, MANY people.

As it stands, if I FINALLY get Part Three of  the Legendary Quest completed, I will actually own an item I can use the reward on, but (yet again) I'll be loathed to do so, because it's not an item I'll ever be likely to keep. I won't feel the use justifies the effort, AGAIN, because I'm not in 10/25 mans. It won't be something I can mog to indicate to others I was smart enough to complete the Quest... in fact, the only value the item will have will depend on the FINAL reward I'm given. Will this really be worth the effort of hanging around for four patches? Is it going to be, in a vein similar to 5.4's 'Unannounced Feature', already doomed to failure by the very nature of its own hype? This is the moment where I feel that having been here since Vanilla is actually becoming a real millstone around my neck in terms of my Warcraft palate, because I know what Legendaries should taste like and this entire questline is a pale imitation of that original recipe.

In the end, this isn't Blizzard's problem, this is mine. However, what if I'm not alone? Should I expect Blizzard to rethink the principle? Will this be the way all Legendary items are created in the future? If so, I'd say it is time to call them something else, and consign the Orange item to history, because this model just tastes wrong.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Science Fiction/Double Feature

Like, that's going to bother the Internet :D

We've all done it.

You're chatting to friends and you want to share summat  new you're gonna do, but you don't want to tell them until you've got the details sorted. Maybe you're thinking of trying a new form of exercise, or maybe it's a course at the local College. You'll mention this in passing, to pique people's interest, before you properly announce it once the background stuff's sorted.

When Ghostcrawler does this, the Internet goes crazy. [*]

Needless to say, Mr Street is trying to play down the OBVIOUS AWESOME of this new feature now he realises that what they've actually done a) isn't something that will bring 2.5 million subs back to Azeroth and b) see a). However, I have faith in him, for he is a generous and kind-hearted crustacean. If its not too late, I've a list of cool features he COULD use if the proposed 5.4 amazeballs isn't quite as fabulous as he'd like it to be:

10 Special Features for 5.4 (only some are SF)

1. 5.4 will give everyone completely redesigned character models to bring them in line with the Pandas.

Yeah, I know. I can dream, can't I? ^^

2. 5.4 will allow you to change an existing character's class for the LOW LOW PRICE OF 30 EUROS OPERATORS ARE STANDING BY11!!!!11!!1!11

Also never going to happen. If it did, Rogues would become extinct overnight. Needless to say, this proves that giving a class a Legendary weapon can have dangerous consequences. Don't say I DIDN'T WARN YOU! [**]

3. 5.4 will remove all transmog restrictions.

Expect the number of deliberately mis-matched mogging outfits to soar overnight. Suddenly, everyone wants to dress their toons like we're back in The Burning Crusade. Conclusive proof that if you give people everything they ask for, they STILL either choose Tier 1 (because Vanilla was leet) or make themselves look like the sale rail in TK Maxx. Other mogging options are available, folks.

4. 5.4 will allow you to Raid current content Cross-Realm.

Also unlikely, but would be a MASSIVE sub-winner (people would come flooding back, Greg!) I suspect that guild identity is still FAR too much of a hot potato subject to get sublimated in this fashion (quite yet) but I know for a fact, reading my twitter feed on a daily basis, that people would absolutely jump at this. The problem, of course, comes with the 'Server First' mentality. If you insist on giving people achievements for doing it, attitudes will never change.

I have to say, I sense the days of server identity are becoming more and more of a millstone around your shell, Mr Street. It's time for a change.

5. 5.4 will grant you a Personal Transporter which allow you to teleport to ANY DUNGEON'S ENTRANCE.

This is my bet for what the actual feature might be, as it happens. This would be absolutely perfect for those of us who spend our lives failing to get the RNG to play farming mounts in old dungeons. If I were a smart crab I'd make sure it was an Engineering craft (BOE) so that all those guys who have been shafted with the Skyclaw can feel aggrieved no longer. Expect many Engineers to become gold millionaires overnight as a result. I CAN BUT DREAM.

6. As @Dobablo quite rightly pointed out yesterday, there is NO... Rule 6.

Very DEFINITELY Non-PC Content. This was 1970, remember.

7. 5.4 will allow you to queue for ANY dungeon in the finder at L90.

It will also allow you to do so with a L15 allowing that boost through The Deadmines to not be a 45 minute nightmare as you have to run your alt there when you realise your Night Elf's got no flight points and they really should grant you a mount at L10.

8. 5.4 will allow Guilds to recruit cross-realm.

See Number 4. Make Guilds capable of picking people up in CRZ 'zones' that they share, if you're not confident enough that the system will work.

9. 5.4 will allow people from different regions (EU, US) to raid together.

10. 5.4 will award every current player a FREE MOOSE.

Trust me, Greg, with this one you're onto a REAL WINNER.

2010 and it's STILL NOT HAPPENED ^^

IMPORTANT NOTE: This list is for entertainment porpoises only. Other sea mammals should consult the Internet for their own list of Dreams Cruelly Shattered by Crustaceans.


[*] Making 'Game of Thrones' reaction look like this:

[**] Insert long and ultimately knowing discussion of class balance here. Repeat until Servers are disconnected.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Let's Go Round Again

Search engines. Is they anything they can't do?

Despite my protestations that last week was a slow news one, two rather important nuggets did appear: the first is the acknowledgement by Blizzard that 'Project Titan' won't be available at the end of this year, but we'll have to wait until 2016 to play it. The second is the Duncan Jones-helmed Warcraft movie is likely to begin filming 'in the first quarter of 2014. At first it may not seem that these two announcements have that much linking them, until you go check in a search engine when Warcraft was first released. As if you weren't already aware, the game will be ten years old on November 23rd 2014.

Suddenly, those two announcements become a great deal more interesting in a wider context.

I'm going to throw a large weapon at the Naysayers who think the end of Warcraft edges closer with every quarterly Activision profit announcement and reinforce the point I've made a few times here: Warcraft's aiming to hang around at least a decade. At current production rates we can expect the movie to debut in that 10th Anniversary year, which is undoubtedly going to generate massive buzz for the game worldwide (and because Duncan Jones is making it we are assuming it WILL be awesome, if his previous CV is any indicator. Yes, we know he's only made two films, but WHAT A PAIR!) If we look further ahead, I'd reckon that if Blizzard slip in one more expansion before that film (should be doable on current content release rates) that will also mean we'll have that to co-incide with the film's release.

I'd like to place an early bet that Mr Jones is making the movie ABOUT the Expansion we'll see in 2015. I'm also betting that expansion will be a stonker, that we'll get something suitably epic to accompany a film that makes us all realise just how great a game we've been playing all this time. Then we'll all get hugely sentimental, millions of people will pour back in to play and Blizzard will choose to end the affair on a massive high, just in time for Titan to launch in 2016 and for us all to quietly and efficiently shift our loyalties over along with our tags. There's a certain amount of satisfaction, after all, in quitting while you are massively ahead... but Titan will take a while to grasp the collective consciousness so I reckon Azeroth could yet have a year or so left after that. Those two bits of news may seem appear largely unrelated, but I'd say they are anything but.

We then find ourselves asking a very important question: just how far ahead is Warcraft from 5.4 in terms of planning?

Insert obligatory 'Under Construction' graphic here.

Blizzcon's coming in November: we already have Hearthstone as a release, plus a new expansion for Diablo 3, AND the porting of said title to console. Is there really enough room to announce the next Expansion? At current rates I'd expect us to see 5.4 in September which means by November there'll already be people baying for new content. I reckon you'll get your new Expansion in the New Year, because stretching what we have out to 2014 with current patch release speeds would appear tantamount to gaming suicide for Blizzard. That means we're on No 5 in 2014, and that one would last until the movie makes to to the big screen in 2015. Of course, as this is all speculation, it is just as likely that the next Expansion could be a precursor to the film, and we'll get a massive announcement of both come November. However, I cannot see Blizzard passing up an opportunity to use the film release to 'tie-in' with the game, at least in some way.

This is probably the biggest single issue with any Warcraft movie: the sheer range of source material Jones has at his disposal to use. As a writer I know the benefit of making whatever you write personal, to appeal to the reader first and foremost. Epic tales are all very well, but without a way to pull in your readers you're on a hiding to nothing. The same is true of players in Warcraft, and what we are seeing in recent years is a very deliberate shift towards a perspective when playing that sticks the focus DIRECTLY on the individual, in the context of a storyline happening around them. I sense, that is Jones is going to make a Warcraft 'story', it will very much focus on a single protagonist, and that person will have Azeroth happen around them, just as is the case in the game. If I were Blizzard, I'd make sure the story that played out in the Movie had deliberate links to the game, perhaps to the point where one and the other were part of the same storyline. Giving Jones an Expansion as his canvas, one (I'd suspect) that pulls all previous Expansions together in some way, would be a great starting point.

The more I consider last week's announcement, the more I feel there is a deliberate plan in place to combine both cinema and gaming in a way that will be totally unique and special, and will be befitting of the most successful MMO of the last ten years. Not getting Titan until 2016, frankly, is a small price to pay if it means more people are working on Warcraft...

How Long

#191. Matches the outfit. NUFF SED.

My gaming life is a mess.

Not unlike my house, heaving under the largest pile of washing I think I've ever had to cope with post-holiday, the virtual family is carrying an awful lot of excess baggage. Sorting it all was so much of a trauma last night I just walked away, but it must be done. Therefore I'm making a executive decision to pretend I'm still away and not do anything too complicated until Reset. P has yet to complete the Scenario-based questline to open access to the Barrens Weekly, which is the only thing I'm going to attempt to complete so the area is available. I'm also considering buying some of the Epic Barrens items current dirt cheap on the AH so I can prep the lower alts for gearing later.

Not my bid, I might add.

There's then the issue of all the asides I COULD be doing: mount farming, levelling alts, making cash to blow on Containers... and that will need a bit of consolidation. The 62 Monk, for instance, could use the Faire this week, as indeed could everyone else for things like First Aid skill. The prospect of this place being CRZ however doesn't fill me with enthusiasm but the passing of the weekend will mean things are quieter than normal. I should probably look at spending some of the large number of tickets I have on summat useful as well. I think we'll make that the priority today and after that, we'll try and clear some of the backlog of crud sitting in bankalt's bags and mailboxes.

Not a great fan of spawn-camping...

Needless to say, there's a ton of stuff I COULD be doing, but what I need to do is get straight: monetarily, itemarily (that's not a word, I know) and that is an easier task to write than it will ever be to do.

As a result, I'll guarantee the 5.4 PTR will go up this week, because absolutely the LAST thing I need at this precise moment is to have to think about what's going to happen next, which should pretty much assure the fact it will transpire...

Sunday, June 02, 2013


The visit to the Castle was a roaring success...
(thanks to @caerphoto)
I have returned from my break.

We were enough out of the way for Internet/Mobile Phone signals to be a luxury item, so if you've not been here for the last week you'll be pleased to know that you didn't miss anything, except a boatload of spam. Those of you on Twitter will have been treated to a pictorial representation of my week away, for the rest of you I can tell you there was writing, but not blog-related. I'm in the final stages of finishing what will be my first novel, which I hope will be self-published sometime before the end of the year. Needless to say, I'm not doing anything by halves. If this works, I'm promising a proper Epic Tale [TM] Watch this Space for more details.

Having caught up with news sites it appears I picked exactly the right week to take off, as there appears to have been absolutely no news of any significant import since I went away. I'm still struggling with the European Washing Mountain and other annoying Real Life issues, but normal service will resume with a vengeance tomorrow. It's great to be back, and I hope my renewed enthusiasm for all things Azeroth will show in the coming weeks. This should include the normal news, ranting, and the very real possibility I'll be making my own replica of P's currently-equipped crossbow...