Google+ ALT : ernative: 08/11/2013 - 08/18/2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Definitely Maybe

I am troubled, dear readers.

See, I was happy, and then...

You no doubt remember all that fuss in the week over that whole trademark thing?


I'm not sure I do, remind me...?

You know, when I got all excited about the (potential) name of the next Blizzard expansion which then looked like it was a hoax?


Oh yes. Now I remember. IT WAS AMAZING!

Well, Twitter went a bit mad again yesterday, and a lot of people got really rather excited about what appeared to be yet another application, this time for Europe.

Oh NOW WE'RE TALKING!


Of course, we all know that NONE OF THIS is official until Blizzard make the announcement.


HAVE YOU LEARNT NOTHING WOMAN?

But WoW Insider have decided that it might be worth giving the rumour another airing.

Don't mess this time. LOOK AT THE BADGE.

Suffice it to say, I am trying my best to approach this particular rumour in a calm and collected fashion.


I can do cool. Oh yes I can :D

However, inside my head...


AINT NO PARTY LIKE A CAPS LOCK PARTY.

I'm not letting some Card Game Beta distract ME from my task. As you were, folks: EXPECT A SPECULATION POST TOMORROW :D

Friday, August 16, 2013

Simply The Best

Again, you're gonna get a 2 for 1 special :D

Day #15 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt: The Best



This is my Guild.

There are many Guilds in Warcraft. Not that many are deliberately pink. Not that many have been around for eight plus years either, but we remain, true to the values of co-operation, helpfulness and understanding that began this journey.

I'd like to thank everyone who has passed through our ranks over the years, for those who remain and for everyone I am proud to call friends. This is the best place in the game: surrounded by the best people, those who put up with me and are happy to have me as a GM.

I will never find a way to thank you all enough for your generosity.


Day #16 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt: Cooking

So much crap, so little time.

Ignore the leather and the herbs. The food matters. I can't help but collect it. I'm kinda glad I have as well, especially with the new Noodle carts coming in 5.4.

What can I say. I'm a compulsive in-game hoarder.

The Story





I think it is fair to say that the vast majority of reaction to the trailer for 5.4 has been positive. However there have been detractors: there's a lot of testosterone flying around here for starters, which has understandably caused some concern. Most significantly of all in the discussions I have seen thus far is the prospect of the Alliance and Horde lining up together to defeat Garrosh in Orgrimmar, but the inescapable feeling that the Alliance themselves seem to have become something of an afterthought in this entire campaign. The fact is, at least from where I'm standing, this is only part of a larger problem.

I'd like to think this game works best when we're not embroiled in faction politics but directing our anger at an outside aggressor.

Of the two Scenarios introduced in 5.3 to explain the escalation of events in the Barrens, the Horde's 'Dagger in the Dark' is a wonderful slice of storytelling, mostly because we have the prospect of Vol'jin openly moving his faction into rebellion. Hot on the heels of the Blood Elf Sunreavers being forced to confront the consequences of Garrosh's dirty work, this is a great way to set up the Kalimdor-based escalation. We are also aware of the Taurens having problems of their own with Garrosh... in fact, being on that side of the fence has been richly supplied with potential flashpoints.

In comparison, Jaina's anger at Theramore seems far less righteous and far more motivated by revenge, a point the Shado Pan seem keen to reinforce on the Isle of Thunder. Anduin's actions at Lion's Landing, albeit brave, were ultimately conducted alone and without any backup. The Alliance may be as fractured in its own way as the Horde, but it also appears gutless. The Dwarves are in clear dissent without a leader, the Gnomes seem as forgotten as the Forsaken in all this... and there is the problem with trying to maintain the faction storylines. There is simply TOO MUCH TO BALANCE, and not enough development time to allow everyone decent motivation.

If we go back to Expansions where we can agree things worked well, where the most people were playing, where the storyline compelled us all to forge towards a conclusion: what made them different? Well, in both the case of TBC and Wrath we were united behind a common enemy, separate from factional politics. Arthas may have been an Alliance Prince but his hatred of anything that lived was enough to cross factional lines. The Legion's single-minded and all-consuming destruction of anything and everything forced both sides to work together, but allowed wonderful moments of humanity to shine through, using third parties like the Broken as a method to focus our understanding of events.

For me by far the best example of focus was Bolvar's attack on the Wrathgate in Wrath, allied with the Horde at the crucial moment, without the need for a complicated political backstory. Two 'friends' fought together and died for a common cause. Again, in the Citadel, after the death of Saurfang, as Alliance we are given the chance to see what happens when compassion is more important than single-mindedness, a moment that defines that final campaign to oust the Lich King:

High Overlord Saurfang: Behind you lies the body of my only son. Nothing will keep me from him.
Muradin Bronzebeard: Don't force my hand, orc. We can't let you pass. He... I can't do it. Get back on your ship and we'll spare your life.
King Varian Wrynn: Stand down, Muradin. Let a grieving father pass.
High Overlord Saurfang: I will not forget this kindness. I thank you, highness.
King Varian Wrynn says: I... I was not at the Wrathgate. But the soldiers who survived told me much of what happened. Your son fought with honour. He died a hero's death. He deserves a hero's burial.
Lady Jaina Proudmoore cries.
King Varian Wrynn: Jaina, why are you crying?
Lady Jaina Proudmoore : It was nothing, your majesty. Just... I'm proud of my king.

The Alliance were proud too, because our faction leader, who had for so long been considered as arrogant and thoughtless showed a humanity that had been sorely lacking. In a simple piece of storytelling we were able to galvanise all that had been wrong about our faction, and find a way to make it right again, to feel reassured we were in pursuit of a righteous goal.

This time around what began as an attack on an old enemy with Theramore was pretty much mismanaged on the Alliance side from the word go. It is still not clear in my mind from the starting zone whether my faction considered Pandaria as a place to be explored or conquered: sending an army to investigate and not the Explorer's League, for instance, says in my mind that we'll default to Battle State Russet whenever possible. After all, this is the World of WARCRAFT. The trailer for Mists shows a good old fashioned Red v Blue fight, until a certain Mr C. Stormstout intervenes. We have always been at each other's throats, with only the enemies we face as the distraction.

Now we end up at 5.4, and inevitably all the emphasis has to shift to Orgrimmar, because that's where Garrosh lives. There is no distraction from the Horde/Alliance conflict this time, the Horde have become the enemy. The problem is that separating Garrosh from the red banner, after eight years, has proved far more complicated than I suspect Blizzard had anticipated. You can make this Warchief as evil and unscrupulous as you like, as heartless and possessed by pride, but the fact remains HE IS THE HORDE, even with all the other factions standing in one place, fighting together, against him.

He's not our common enemy, he's STILL THE RED TEAM. And BECAUSE there's not an Alliance character in a similar horrendously morally ambiguous situation for the Blue team to empathise/hate/get annoyed about, we have a problem with association. But that's not all.

Even if there is is no common enemy for the Alliance to associate with, we're fighting the Horde for goodness sake, where's the issue in us being under-represented? We had the cry 'For Theramore!', why not simply take up the cry 'For the Vale!' and be content with avenging the lands the Horde destroyed instead? Well yes, we could do this, but why are we involved to begin with? When we saved the Undercity we didn't roll tanks and artillery all over it, we went in covertly. When Anduin took up his mission against Garrosh in 5.2 it was deliberately undercover. In fact his father has been advocating patience and strategy from Lion's Landing as well. No rushing in, no stupid moves, let's just take our time and wait for our moments... but what is the actual motivation to win?

What exactly does the Alliance have to gain from removing Garrosh?

I suspect many people in my faction are aggrieved because it would be only right and proper to gain SOMETHING from all of this, not simply the satisfaction of knowing we won. When Illidan was defeated we righted an ancient wrong. When Arthas was removed we understood that sometimes you can't kill a legend, it needs to remain intact. When Deathwing died we understood that Dragons should never be trusted (yeah look what we did with that) but when Garrosh dies unless the Horde is in utter and total disarray then what's the point? The Alliance should be all over the map, reclaiming the stuff Garrosh destroyed and conquered, and it should expect to at least gain an advantage from the Horde for saving their asses in a major fashion.  However, what has become very clear is that Blizzard don't go back and change stuff like that because a) it's not new content and b) see a).

When we banish Big Bad's traditionally, the World is safe again. When this Big Bad hits the ground absolutely NOTHING is clear or definable any more. This could, of course all be part of a deliberate, long term plan on Blizzard's part. However, if that plan does NOT involve a major shift in the powerbase on Azeroth, there are going to be raised eyebrows. This HAS to put the Horde on the back foot, make them have to fight to re-establish themselves as a cohesive fighting unit. The choce of the Orc's Faction Leader is crucial, as is seeing how EVERY OTHER HORDE FACTION responds to this. The Alliance really do need to come to dominance as a result, or we will demand the mother of all reasons to distract them from that task. However, what is absolutely and enormously crucial at the end of it all, is to NOT JUST FORGET ALL OF THIS HAPPENED.


By establishing Pandarians as either Horde or Alliance, Blizzard I now realise set a dangerous precedent. Suddenly the faction didn't matter, you could be either to get to play the race you wanted. This has unintentionally contributed to the destabilisation of both faction bases, who are now united against a common enemy, but still an enemy who fights under the flag of Horde. The problem now, especially for those who remain true to the Alliance, is that the defeat of this villain does not make Azeroth safe again, it should make Azeroth ripe for total Alliance domination, or at least give us the upper hand, if we choose to ignore the Pandarans wisdom. After all, that's the way it has always been, because why do we fight to begin with? Ah yes... why do we fight again?

To ask why we fight... ...is to ask why the leaves fall. It is in their nature. Perhaps, there is a better question. Why do we fight? To protect Home, and Family... To preserve Balance, and bring Harmony for my kind. The true question is: What is worth fighting for?

This is the final and great unanswered question of the expansion. Eventually, when enough Alliance have defeated Garrosh, will they find themselves as I have been since the Jade Forest, questioning the very nature of their participation in every fight since? Has the message of this expansion really been that fighting each other is okay if it returns balance to the World? If that's the case, then balance is a very long way away right now, and it will take some pretty impressive storytelling to restore that feeling for both sides. Is there any point in trying to begin with: some might argue that no-one really cares about which side they're on... except if that were the case, we'd not be her after nearly a decade, and this game's basic ethos would only remain as a Wikipedia entry.

The story is what drives us, like it or not. This expansion has suffered from being pulled in too many directions at once, in trying to appease too many complaints simultaneously. What Blizzard have always excelled at, and continue to do so, is the ability to tell a ripping yarn, a great story that makes us laugh and cry, and allows us to form emotional bonds with pixels. The trailer that started this braindump has that in spades, and has done more than a thousand quests or official blog posts will ever do. However: somewhere Blizzard has forgotten how to tell a good story, that its best bet at keeping everyone enthralled is going back to doing what it does best: the Big Bad that BOTH SIDES WANT DEAD, but which allows them to remain true to their factional identity.

Again, this was a great idea like so much else that the game has presented, but it wasn't the right one. However, there's no going back now: what transpires in the next couple of months will show if the Alliance can come to terms with being placed second in a fight they should have at least been equal to. Some might say the Blue team's missed the best opportunity they ever had. What we don't know yet is whether that was just a deliberate move on the Devs part. What I believe is clear however, is that when Garrosh has passed into the stories of legend, the next Big Bad needs to be something very special indeed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tears Are Not Enough

Better in a Group?

Today, I would like to talk to you about sadness.

Writing for me, the last couple of weeks, has been the equivalent of wading through treacle. NOTHING is going right, I have two pieces of fiction screaming at me from the hard drive, a novel I've not touched for weeks, and the very real understanding that for the first time in many, many months I am struggling with a serious case of writer's block. The two GIF posts yesterday were blessed relief because I could just turn my brain off and let my emotions guide the flow. This is, I realise, at least part of my problem. That post I wrote last weekend, the one so many of you were so kind enough to look at, has opened a psychological floodgate that I wasn't previously aware was wedged shut, and an awful lot of dirty water has flowed out. I'm still working out what needs cleanup even now.

Which brings me to the understanding that my gaming experience has changed far more than I realised in the last Expansion.

I have a friend who I am playing with at present who is a regular reader of this Blog, who has a problem with LFR. It is a very real and understandable one, and an issue with which I very much associate, especially on days like today when I wake up feeling like there's someone hovering behind my eyeline and that I'm about to burst into tears at any moment. There are days when you are the measure of a random group experience, when you can meet it on equal terms with a confident gait. Then there are those days when you're not. This may be hard to grasp for those of you who never have a problem with anything (Mr Alt is a perfect example of this) and for whom LFR is just that, Looking for a Group so you can max your points and move on to making millions via farming. However, going into LFR for me today has the potential for disaster.

Except today I am going to do it regardless.

There comes a point where you have a choice: your experience is suboptimal or it isn't, but the decision is yours. You can choose to push through the issues you carry as baggage and simply focus on the fact that the task in hand will yield you a reward you want, and that alone is worth any of the hassle. You can concentrate simply on doing your best, keeping your head down, and ignoring the chat. This may not make you feel hugely confident or the experience particularly satisfying, but the fact remains that if you want to upgrade gear, it is easier to find 25 people than 5 right now, and you are allowed a larger margin of error if you are not as confident. Yes, look, I said it. 90 Valor for the same time it normally takes to do a 5 man random and AT LEAST SOME CHANCE at upgrades dropping is a better average, over time. It may not be as attractive, not as much 'fun' as it would be just with a group of mates, but the long-term benefits are far greater.

Queues for LFR atm are short, especially the earlier versions, with many people actively working towards capping Valor for 5.4. Frankly there is no better time to be in the grinder than now, with the understanding that once the job is done you're set for another week and you can go back to pottering on your own, safe in the knowledge you're improving your character. The issue in my head, and this is entirely subjective, that if you screw up you'll get punished, is entirely understandable considering some of the horrendous screwups I have made over the years. The fact remains however, that I'm the only one making those judgements in my mind, everyone else is just looking at the next upgrade, and once I grasp that it makes life considerably easier to rationalise. It also helps me to stop obsessing about every mistake I make and to simply focus on doing my job: even if that's just putting down a refreshment table and hitting Time Warp at the optimal moment to maximise DPS for everyone else.

I get sad at how people behave in LFR, of course I do. Yesterday I got a torrent of abuse from someone when I asked for a rez after I'd gone afk for a bio. It doesn't take much sometimes to set people off and once the person was reported, the silence was glorious. As a wise butler once said, some people just want to watch the world burn: I just want to get my points and move on, and try and get through my bad days without them making me wish the entire LFAnything community unspeakable hatreds. The basics remain: most people are just there to get a job done, and move on. If the experience is pleasant, then so much the better, maybe people learn stuff along the way. In the end, it is just a game, and remembering that as your first mantra to repeat is worth doing, especially during the difficult times.

I always find that understanding that if I'm having a bad day, then someone else will be too, is a good secondary mantra to take with you. However, you don't let that bad day control you, you are its mistress, and when you can turn those situations around, things inevitably develop a brighter hue. Just as I have with this post, you can be the person who holds the key, the direction to the outcome you want. It may take 25 people to run an LFR but it only takes one to turn the attitude towards it around, and that's your task. Make the difference personally, and you may be genuinely surprised at the results. If all else fails, it might help you change your outlook on a wider range of stuff.

You never know until you try.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Down Down

Day #14 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt: Trash

Name removed. Everything else remains.

Tonight's Throne of Thunder Part 1 run. Incredibly smooth, and everyone stayed to kill the resurrecting trash without being asked twice.

If only all runs were this simple. Part Two was a bloody nightmare by comparison ^^

Lies, Lies, Lies

My entire world has been turned on its head :O

Yeah Don, I know.

It transpires that the ENTIRE Dark Below thing's most likely a hoax, a sham, a deception.


Yeah, that tastes REALLY bad :(

That feeling that I could make a complete fool of myself on the Internet? TOTALLY JUSTIFIED.

I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS CRAIG :O

We now return you to your regularly scheduled waffling.

Underground (Redux)

We present, for your delectation and delight, the last 24 hours in ANIMATED GIF FORM. Everything I learnt about the correct and accurate placement of GIFS came from the awesome that is Redcowrise, so this post is dedicated to her as a result.

I stole all of these from the Internets as well, and I have no idea how copyright works in this case, so there's a good chance I'm also in a ton of trouble for making this post to boot. 'Twas ever thus.

==

Anyway, here's my story.


Yesterday afternoon, I went out for a walk.


When I returned, I discovered The Dark Below had been registered as a trademark by Blizzard:


Hugh was as amazed as I was. HE REALLY WAS.

I immediately went online and discovered a wide range of reactions to this news. Needless to say, many were nonplussed:

ONLY HERE FOR STARCRAFT DLC *mutter*

Others were understandably sceptical:

Riiiiiight... time to unsub again. I'm off to Rift...

But I was pleased to see people as excited as I was, even though we weren't sure this was the Expansion's name:

I need woodland creatures to help me celebrate WHERE ARE THEY???

However, then I went and did some investigation and things looked a little less certain. Had I overreacted?

Oh no I've just made a COMPLETE FOOL OF MYSELF
on the ENTIRE INTERNETS :O

So I decided the best idea was to go to bed and start again in the morning.

Yeah so I got to 476 and then ZZZZZZZZZZZZ


The morning came, and I returned to the internet, to discover that Blizzard had announced the name of the new Diablo expansion, and it WASN'T THE DARK BELOW:


So this means I can start celebrating again, right?

However, at the back of my mind I could hear a small, quiet voice:




However, I chose to ignore my subconscious completely and consider the possibility that I know what I'm going to be writing about for the next couple of years.


ALL THESE CONFLICTING EMOTIONS.

However, deep down, I know how I really feel.


Let's get this PARTAY STARTED!

Underground

Stop heckling, CM's!. We've registered the damn name now so start liking it!

Yesterday was a very interesting day. I went out for an hour, and the World of Warcraft went a bit mad.

WoW Insider brings news to the yard and we're like 'yeah right' and they're like 'well YEAH!.

This news, quite rightly, generated a fair bit of speculation, including a more than a share from yours truly.




Even when people countered with sensible, rational counters to my argument, I was ready to argue my case:


Then I stopped myself, when I realised (quite rightly and sensibly) that there was no actual evidence to support my rambling. A DNS Lookup proved largely inconclusive. I decided I was getting excited about nothing, that this was most likely related to the much-discussed Diablo expansion... that is, until I woke up this morning and arrived at the PC:


Doo WHOT?

Right then, so MMO says that the Diablo expansion is confirmed as being called the 'Reaper of Souls'... and yes, the url of the US site would seem to confirm that:


NO I DID NOT JUST TYPE THAT IN.

So then, maybe yesterday I talked myself out of the possibility, but this morning I just TALKED MYSELF RIGHT BACK IN.




But hang on... this could be a NEW GAME right? It could be something totally not Warcraft related... nah, who am I kidding?


OMG OMG OMG SQUEE ALL THE THINGS

 The new Expansion's gonna be The Dark Below, and we're BUILDING A NEW WORLD, UNDERGROUND :O





Let's hope David Essex has gone by the time we get there, shall we?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fast As You Can

Yes, I know, I'm behind, so you get a Two for the Price of One deal today :D

Day #12 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt: Macro


Oy! Draenei! NO!

Someone get the blue woman OUT OF MY FACE PLEASE. *sigh*


Day #13 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt: Fast

He's small, he's round, he's floating off the ground, Gnome AHOY!

I don't care that its still the same speed as all my other mounts. This one SEEMS faster. Plus, IT'S A FLYING DISK DAMMIT.

==

Normal verbose service will be resumed tomorrow. For now, I'm off to be grumpy somewhere.

Pick Up the Pieces


From Ye Olde Trunk of Funk (Craig Charles Edition)


Yesterday Mr G Street Esq gave his first formal interview to the Community on what we can expect from 5.4, and we got a long-overdue Dev Watercooler on the state of Class Changes for everyone come the Patch. I'm normally fairly nonplussed at these events, but I have to say we got some real nuggets from Ghostcrawler this time around, so much so I began a frantic burst of tweeting on the subject before I remembered I ACTUALLY HAD A BLOG in which I could discuss this stuff at length. So, here are my highlights (I'm tweeting directly from MMO's summary of proceedings) with a little more reflection:


According to yesterday's interview, the first weapon you will have assigned to you will be relevant to your class spec, and subsequent weapon drops will be random. What this doesn't specify is whether you have a chance at the same weapon twice, or if the game will never let you have the same item again. If the latter is infact true, that's actually a pretty significant change to the game mechanics, and could point towards Blizzard further refining loot assignment. That would suggest the game is checking your character for specific items in your possession and removing them from the loot tree if you already own them. Duplicate drops are an annoyance for so many people, except DE-ers, and if the duplicate issue is being addressed that will have consequences down the line. I'd like this confirmed at some point, but if this marks the start of a move away from duplication I for one will be welcoming the change.


There were people who suggested this might be an unintentional consequence of Proving Grounds introduction when the feature was first mooted: if Blizzard have considered using it in lieu of numbers (which can easily be cheesed) that's a pretty radical suggestion, because that then places us in the realms of PEOPLE LEARNING TO PLAY before they get a look at content. I for one would be utterly in support of this, and the fact that its already being considered for lower levels is a great step forward. This is, in essence, just like the 'exercises' you are presented with when levelling a Monk, the reward for which is an extra XP buff. Teaching people to play from Level 1 really is the way it should go, and if new players are to expect to have to learn as they go along because it's a basic component of the game, that can only be a good thing in the long run.


The fact that Blizzard are looking to apply Flex in other places can only be a good thing. However, I'd not start getting your hopes up that classic raids will get the Flex treatment: I suspect they'd need a design from the ground up and we KNOW how itchy Blizz get at going back and doing that. For now, let's hope that the Expansion will give us the option to choose a Scenario that maybe would allow people to solo legitimately as the content is presented, but which begins life as doable by a five. If you're smart Blizz you'll also link some achievements to that to boot.


I would suspect this is one of many potential issues that is preventing Virtual Realms from launching immediately in 5.4. This also makes me rather pleased that I go out of my way to pick names no-one else uses, or my names have been around for so long that most of the people on other realms using them have long since departed. Needless to say, this one's still going to be in development for a while...


I reckon therefore we have three weeks, which sticks launch around September 3rd (and about the date I'd been originally speculating on before certain people distracted me) and allows me to go away on holiday without worrying I'm missing owt important. This also sets up the Expansion reveal just in time for Blizzcon... well, that's convenient...

==

I've given the Dev Watercooler no more than a cursory look-over, I will freely admit, but what I have read seems to explain changes to classes in a clear and rational nature (though we wouldn't need all these Hunter changes if it wasn't for PvP to begin with grumble grumble) so I'll leave other people to pull out the pitchforks and burning torches for that, though I should remind you these will do you no good in the long term...


If you have something to say, therefore, why not blog about it? Works for me :D

Monday, August 12, 2013

Aint Gonna Beg

Time to be serious and cut the crap. Or rather, collect it...

Yesterday's post has generated some rather interesting discussion.

It appears that @Dobablo's comment about an achievement for 'poo' quests has struck a chord. Frankly, they're a source of much hilarity in this household and have been since they began to emerge (as I recall it all started with the Wolves in the Tundra, or am I missing some quests in TBC and further back?) There's been some suggestion as to what we'd call it too, and although I'll agree that 'What a Load of Sh*t' is a great title I doubt it would get past the US censors. So, after some discussion I've decided that this might be the most sensible option:




This, of course, means we'd probably be letting ourselves in for a whole load of new poo quests come the next Expansion... but I reckon we're up to the task. It also means we can try and shove into game a reference to possibly THE best movie about average Superheroes you will ever be lucky enough to see:

Needs more women. That is all.

Thanks also to both @joffonon and @wingtipswaltz for help in compiling this submission. Just remember to wash your hands afterwards... Hmm, there's a thought...



Cold as Ice

Spot the Mage. That Mog has to change.

As was established by screenshot yesterday, Dynamic Duo has become mine. I now have more than just Hunters at Level 90 :P I had assumed getting there would be a far more painful experience than it ultimately ended up being, but I'd forgotten a couple of fundamental factors in my ongoing evolutionary process. The first, and most important was that perception as a player has altered since I levelled anything else.

I died less than half a dozen times between 82 and 85, a fact I am extremely proud of. Once upon a time I'd accept death as inevitable and often wouldn't even try to avoid it if stuck in a difficult situation. Not any more, and playing a Frost Mage I have an enormous amount of abilities in my arsenal to prevent stuff even reaching me, let alone hitting me. Frost and I are much like Marks and P used to be before I embraced the Beast Mastery ethos: what I was raised on, what makes the most sense. Being able to slow a target so I can have it almost dead before I have to Frost Nova it in place and step back to finish the task. Only relying on Mirror Image and Time Warp when things get really hairy (which made me even more angry about the Stampede nerf because that used to be pretty much the same deal.)  Most importantly, my situational awareness in the world has significantly changed.

One of the reasons I quietly hope we never get premade max level characters for sale in the Blizzard Money Store is the fact that learning to play while you level has a massive number of benefits. Yes, there are lots of buttons to press, and many of them can seem very confusing, until you understand what happens when other things occur, that there is an order and logic to all that is laid out in front of you. It is, of course, a testament to class design, HOW GREAT IT IS FOR AN AVERAGE PLAYER, that I can use spells and abilities whilst questing and begin to understand why it is better to start with a Frost Bomb in certain situations but a Frostbolt in others. It is grasping that Blink is possibly the best ability known to Magekind, and far more people should use it. It is the understanding that spending a few minutes clearing mobs away from a rare's area so you can spend nearly three minutes killing it will be utterly worth it, even if they just drop plate bracers.

This weekend has made me realise that just because I don't have a pet to hide behind (because Water Elementals fail, lets be honest) doesn't make me delicate or vulnerable. I have a character that might wear cloth, but is very much the glass cannon of legend. Having spent two hours last night getting myself geared to iLevel 458 I'll now get myself hit capped so when I go out and start the process of grinding the reputation for my Royal Satchels and various enchants I can make the most of what little DPS I have. I'm not even going to consider going to the harder places (Isle of Thunder, Barrens) until I have some better numbers to wave at mobs, but I will be taking all and any offers of help I can find this week. I can at least do the pre-quests for the Barrens, even if I only get one piece of gear to wear (because of 5.4 possibility.)

Most importantly, this has broken my 'phobia' that levelling the alts would be too much like hard work. Now the Tailor is 90 I will be able to make some nice cloth items for the Lock to wear when she hits 90. The Hunter can start on leather and mail pieces for the Rogue, Shaman and Druid(s): the question then becomes... who's next?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another Way to Die

Day #11 of the #WoWscreenshotaday Challenge.
Today's Prompt:  I Love Doing this!


And so it begins... again.

I feel perhaps I've been hard on the levelling thing.

I'll be writing a separate post on this tomorrow, but suffice it to say getting my Mage to 90 this weekend has been something of a revelation. I've learnt a lot about the class, and myself, and have come to some interesting conclusions about both. As a result, if you ask me what I love doing, at this moment, its playing a caster. As a result, you can expect more on this developing situation as the week goes on.

Tomorrow we start farming, and I suspect it will be time for a brand new Mogging Outfit :D

Time Changes Everything

When the Blizz employees are looking forward to not questing... ^^


You know, I reckon I can spot a good set up when I see it. Bashiok's response (to another Blizzard employee, yes I checked) pretty much covers all the gripes I've had about the Expansion in 140 characters, which I reckon's no mean feat. What this does indicate, especially as 5.4 moves ever closer to going live, is that Blizzard knows what its up against. If I needed a hand-dandy advert for what's great about the upcoming patch, well here it is. Our man Bash could very easily have said that he's looking forward to raiding (after all, the Seige is the final end-game content of the Expansion) but no, he's anticipating GEARING UP ALTS. Maybe my comments on the BoA weapons weren't so far off the mark after all, but hang on... 'non-quest adventuring and exploration' There's a choice of phrase that makes someone like me sit up and take notice, because Blizzard are all about the questing. After all, Dailies were our thing... and then they became a Weekly. Does this mean with 5.4 we've finally left long-form questing as content behind?

Is 'non-quest adventuring' going to become a thing for the next expansion?

One of the biggest single gripes about how this game has played over the years is the 'collect 10 Boar Meat and return to X at Y' method of questing. Blizzard, to their credit, have tried all manner of methods to remove us from that particular living hell, and the game is littered with failed experiments on how questing often works spectacularly well.. and then it doesn't. The limiting factor on all of this has always been the level cap, so with the benefit of experience (and more health than an average 5 man end boss below about L80) we can go back and kick ass wherever we like and make some value judgements about what was great and what was pants. Asking Mr Alt which questlines worked the best over the game's life (as he is my yardstick for such things) returned one result, which I endorse 100%: the Onyxia attunement in Vanilla. Walking Reggie Windsor (very slowly) around BRD and all that followed was a great example of how to use this method as storytelling and not an excuse to gather anything. You will have you own favourites, I am sure.

When it comes to Dailies however, Mr Alt becomes more fervent. The only good Daily, he decided, was one you could cheese with a macro, or which allowed you to bash stuff out of frustration (pygmies with big hammer in Uldum, Peons with a Booterang) or which he could get joint credit for automatically when dual boxing. The point here, of course, was time. Dailies were time-consuming, frustrating and absolutely the worst way of gating content. When a buzz-phrase like 'non-quest adventuring' pops up in a Blizzard tweet, I can't help but think this was a brainstormed expression that was born on an interactive white board in a developers meeting somewhere, to embody all that adventuring needs to be in the future. We know Dailies are the bane of most people's existence. Removing them completely would, I suspect, not upset that many people. Then we have to decide what they are replaced with, and what this new phrase actually entails.

There is still collection: the Timeless Coin as currency replaces Kor'kron Supplies this time around, and I'm seeing some very big numbers being thrown around for some potential rewards. More importantly, it appears that Timeless Coins can be bought with other forms of currency, which is a significant step forward ingame terms. In fact, being able to exchange one currency for another is only reserved for PvE to PvP... so would we be able to choose where we divert our spoils like this in future expansions? After all, being able to spend hours just gathering our own things or farming mobs to level is what people do right now as an alternative to questing. I spent an hour yesterday discussing the merits of farming the trash up to the first boss in Normal Stormstout Brewery for experience (known by 'the kids' as a Monkey Run.)  This to me sounds an incredibly boring way of levelling, but it is clearly popular and involves NO QUESTING AT ALL. It also proves the point that if you're creative, lots of things give XP.

Starting tomorrow, we can expect Blizzard to begin interviews about 5.4 content. We're still not at a final release candidate for the PTR but the consensus is that it won't be long. I'm expecting to go on holiday and for the Patch to drop, but it might even be before the last week in August... still, I know what I have to look forward to, and that's lots of NOT questing. Part of me's still not sure if that's a good idea or not...