Google+ ALT : ernative: 12/22/2013 - 12/29/2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

10,000 Days


It must be Christmas, even Mr Alt is considering a Bucket List...

For many of us who don't do 'serious' raiding, the ability to outgear content is a distinct advantage.

The Guild made it to Deathwing on 10 man in Cataclysm but that was pretty much as far as it went: there was a bit of speculative poking in Heroic but there were never either the people or the time to commit to the endeavour. Therefore going back when you can two man the instance is rather satisfying, despite the fact that some of the mechanics involved mean you're working flat out as dps. If you've never tried achieving Maybe He'll get Dizzy just as a tank and dps I'd strongly suggest it as possibly one of the THE most fun and challenging things I've done... well for quite some time, actually. In fact, I'd argue that most of that instance as a two man is doable, even if we caved at Deathwing and got some people in to help out (cheers T and Y.) What this does mean is that (yet again) I am one achievement short of not simply a Meta but ANOTHER MOUNT.

More significantly, I cross into 16000 Achievement Points.

There's still a ton of Wrath stuff left to knock off, and then there's the rest of the Heroics 10 Mans from Cataclysm I never saw. There's a bazillion PvP Achievements too, which means that at some point in the New Year I will be brushing off my gears and giving some of those a damn good poke. What I'm desperately trying to take advantage of is the fact that Mr Alt is looking at his Achievement Points for the first time this Expansion, because this is the first opportunity he's had nothing to do since launch, and if that isn't a damning indictment of Pandaria's basic problem I don't know what is. Needless to say having a pocket tank to deal with all the complicated stuff up the front while I dps is brilliant, but what's even better is that he'll bring his Hunter on the other account and effectively dual box most of what we do. This is his second best geared toon to boot: I've only managed two pieces of Tier, she has ALL FIVE ^^ As long as I can still beat her I'm doing something right, legendary cloak notwithstanding...


Thursday Night was all about Ulduar...

What all of this demonstrates, if it were even needed, is that the game's content maintains a relevance long after an Expansion that accompanies it is dead and gone. The key, of course, is allowing people to collect the Meta Mounts that accompany these feats, to make the mogging pieces desirable, to have patterns that certain people need to collect to complete collections. This allows the Instances to survive long after their relevance has passed, and make previous Expansions not simply places you pass through on the way to End Game... they become a part of that experience themselves. Everything *potentially* becomes End Game, dependant on what you choose to do and how you approach it. Achievements become a method by which Blizzard can continue to tie you into the evolutionary experience of the game (The Danger Zone achievement, for instance) even if you are not currently playing... and you don't need to come back at the time for most of them. The Seasonals are the notable exception to this, but this year it's been possible to achieve previous years Winter Veil achievements just by turning up.

It then boils down to a basic principle: it's not when you do something, it's that you do it at all that matters. The points of the board allow you to feel there's been progression, that you've gone from one point to another, that you have achieved something, even if there are those who say that the relevance of that is entirely dependant on the timestamp that accompanies it. No matter, points are points, and when your hobby is to collect those, does it really matter when they're awarded? I think not. It is never the destination, after all... it is always the journey, and this is one that shows no signs of stopping after nearly a decade.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Saddle Up

Today, we will be talking about 201 Mounts, and how bloody difficult it is to keep track of who has what.


Start at the end, my friend.

By far the easiest bit about the Mount achievement, and the key to understanding just how many you need to hit certain targets, is the mounts that aren't blue or purple. If I'd been collecting these things simply on the Hunter she'd still be stuck on 199, but fortunately for me my linked Battle Net account includes not simply a Warlock but a Paladin... That means they both provide two additional mounts to the total (but note, NOT four because your total only includes mounts that are rideable by the user.) Then there are the Engineering mounts: you can only make two 'default' mounts as an Engineer (my hunter isn't, alts are) but everyone can ride them. So, before you begin this entire endeavour, having a Paladin Engineer who's also a Tailor might be an advantage. Yeah, there's Flying Carpets there as well you can add, on top of the various 'extra' mounts Pallies seem to pick up just by being awesome. Nobody said this was going to be easy, after all.

I could write you a comprehensive guide of what you can get where, but Warcraft Mounts is probably the best place for you to go and see what you can get and where it comes from. That's pretty much the easy bit: buy all the ones you can for cash, see what you have left after that. Then there are the individual rep grinds, the 'chance to drop' mounts from Dailies (Oracles/Big Blue Laydees in Wrath) and after that you'll be forced to start making some serious choices... and then it's not about looking at the mounts you do own, but the ones you don't. The main Warcraft Database is as good as any place to start on that front: right now, I have 82 possibilities left to farm, should I choose to. Many of mine are Meta Achievement mounts, TCG Mounts, or the impossibly low drops from boss kills that would require me to do a Daily/Weekly Circuit of Disappointment (TM) Onyxia's in there, as is Malygos and the dragon from Skadi the Useless in Utgarde. There's no Magic Rooster or Mimiron's Head, or Time Lost Proto Drake. However, there's also no Archaeology mount or Anzu, both of which I could be trying for regularly if I put my mind to it.


It's not a Bat. Or indeed a cat, in a hat.

There are some tricky ones in there: I have a PvP Halaa mount, for instance. All the purchasables are in there too, but the Jewelcrafting fivesome are missing so there is room for flexibility. However, two of my last five mounts were grinds over several months for both: the key to this achievement I thing is patience, and the understanding that actually, once I hit 200 it's not like I've actually finished anyway. In fact, once I've done this post I'll be making a list of the next ten doable mounts (of which the JC ones will be included) and I'll be off to start including these in my Weekly Faffing Pattern. This achievement is pretty much the equivalent of painting the Forth Rail Bridge. It takes so long, once you get to the end, it's time to go back to the beginning and start all over again.


It's a metaphor. Really, it is.

Perhaps the most important thing of all if doing this Achievement, or indeed any other which involves a lot of doing stuff on your own, is to share it with people so you don't end up either getting disheartened or going insane. Friends can help this be a far less painful task than it might be... and the trick is to remember that sometimes, winning isn't the best bit. If you're grinding with someone, don't automatically expect them to give the mount to you on a roll. Let them roll with you, and if you lose, enjoy their moment as much as it were your own. Some of the best moments I've had in game during my time collecting were when I wasn't the winner. It's important to have a sense of perspective about this, after all, and it's why a lot of my 'guaranteed' mounts were the ones I derived the least pleasure from. Solo is great, but sharing actually is better.

After all, the journey's not simply about reaching your destination, it's what you learn along the way.

PS: If you'd like to see which 200 I got along the way, my Flickr photoset of them all can be found here.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Give It Away

DOG!


Thanks to Rho at Realm Maintenance, I appear to have a Contest to run ^^

Traditionally I have not fared well when giving stuff away, but this time I am in the position of owning a code for an Alterac Brew Pup which I require to send to a good home. This means I'll have to see if I can sort this out without mucking it up. Theredore, if you wish to win this code, the entry requirements are simple:


  • Reply to this post, stating you would like to win said pet.

  • ENSURE YOUR REPLY EITHER INCLUDES YOUR TWITTER NAME OR A CONTACT E-MAIL ADDRESS.

  • Wait until January 1st 2014 to see if you are a winner.


That appears to be reasonably straightforward, doesn't it? Can this possibly go wrong?

We shall see... Good Luck All!

==

Many Thanks to Rho @ Realm maintenance for the donation of this prize :D

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Rush Hour

That's a few people for a Wednesday afternoon.

Merry Christmas. Have some lag to go with that Turkey.

Yes, in Ironforge this morning the tree action was, not to put it mildly, brisk. My FPS dropped in a  capital city for the first time in... well, frankly years, and I love it. It helps of course that we are paired with Silvermoon, which has always been quite feisty on the Alliance side, but this morning was actually really rather encouraging. This is what happens when you heavily discount the game and people come back to play. It makes the Blizzard bank balance look good too.


Five presents, no waiting.

Fortunately, point and clicking on a bunch of presents works quite successfully, though the time to actually loot from a click was, at points this morning, up to three seconds. I don't have a problem with this many people, far from it, and it has warmed my festive heart to see so many people around in the last couple of weeks. Long may it continue.

I hope you and yours have a wonderful festive break, and I'll be doing stuff throughout the entire period. I'll see you after Christmas Day :D

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas Everybody

As the cat is now officially out of the bag and our festive greeting has been used for Realm Maintenance, here's my chance to share it with you and to wish everyone who reads or listens to me online a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS :D




Trust me, 2014's gonna be AWESOME :D

Gold

YES GIVE ME EASY GLODS.

The Gold Community in Warcraft has always been a source of fascination for me.

Now, when I say 'Gold' I should be clear this refers to the players who consider gold-making as as much a part of the experience as levelling or dungeons: there are many, many of them, and they are a fabulously vocal bunch. In fact, I would go so far to say as I have an almost girly crush on certain gold-makers, such is the impressive nature of their abilities. They also come in for what seems like an incredible amount of both abuse and belittlement for what they do, often far more successfully than the people who attempt to emulate their success. That's what happens when people are experts, I suppose.

So, there's the advert over. Now, let's get to my point.

I believe I understand how markets work. I feel I grasp most of the basic concepts of making money in game, and I'm well aware that if I stopped procrastinating and actually put in some effort, I would quite probably be onto a winner, several in fact. However, my aim in game has never been to make money above everything else, it's always remained a bonus on top of everything else, Take, for instance, the dozen or so Battle Pets I had as duplicates that I caged and stuck up for sale at the weekend. As a last minute Xmas Gift, my Darkmoon Monkeys and Zeppelins were a sound choice, and yes I got lucky. 10,000g for a weekend's not happened for a while, and it set me thinking... everybody has a plan. This we have established. However, what's to say that it's nothing about your plan and everything to do with timing?

Of course, the successful gold maker doesn't just rely on one plan, they have many ways to fill their coffers. You can buy guides, after all, on any given day you'll have one part of your 'plan' that makes the money and other bits that don't. I'm also aware that if you find a brilliant sure fire way of turning small amounts of money into massive piles with pretty much zero effort, you'll want to make money out of that too, or at least keep the idea close to your chest. So I wondered why Gold Farmers continue to farm... and this set me thinking on an idea. When your game is almost ten years old, what is there left to say about making money that hasn't been said already, that hasn't been done to death by everyone else. What new spin is there to even put on goldmaking not for the new player or the casual player, but for people like me?

I could, I suppose, go the way that Nev has gone at Auction House Addict: start from scratch with a couple of alts: the thing is, I don't really want to take particular time to focus on money making. I'm looking for the happy accidents, the pleasant bonus gold that happens when you're doing something else, the location you go to do X and then Y might just appear as a bonus... and hence was a new feature born:



The key to this feature is simple: I'm not sitting down, deliberately attempting to make money. I'm not provisioning a set time every day to farm, or play the markets, I'm just doing what I normally do, but if I happen to be doing something, I'm looking for the extra ways to make it profitable. For instance, as I still want to grind my Skyshards for that particular mount in the Vale, this means I'll end up with a lot of items spare: food ingredients, cloth, green items. The question then becomes: what's the most profitable way to use what I've gathered? Should I DE and sell raw materials? Should I sell the greens as they stand? What's the best use for cloth?

I said on Twitter yesterday I have a question to ask the Gold Making Community and this is it: at the beginning of each month, I'm going to post my 'plan' for the month for my readership's general perusal. I'm then going to ask you guys what you think the best thing is to do with my spoils, and I'm going to follow everyone's advice and work out what works best for me, and then report back. This (of course) will only work if people decide to take part, so I thought I'd give you a week's warning before I launch into this. I may end up simply having to work on initiative: that's the problem when you launch something out into the world untried or undisclosed. It may be great, it may fall on it's arse. We will see. To the gold makers reading this, if I have your attention and interest, I hope to see you early in January for my first attempt at making money whilst not actually trying.

I reckon this could be interesting.

Monday, December 23, 2013

To Build a Home :: Blackout

Getting close to Critical Mass here... ^^

What this feature needs right now, lets face it, is a Beta Client ^^

The mutterings I'm both seeing and hearing from those people that know 'stuff' lead me to think that come the New Year, we may not have much time to wait before 'things' start moving, but until then I'll freely admit we've pretty much exhausted what was available to us as information over the Garrisons feature thus far. However, I still find myself more excited about this feature than I was about either the Tiller's Far or Pet Battling, which is kind of odd considering we know so little about it. However, what we possess in spades is that Blizzard knows how to construct fantastic games based on their own franchise titles. All you need to do is look at Hearthstone and Heoes of the Storm to understand that is is a group of people who really do care about the place they work for, and it shows.

As a result, the *potential* for this feature is absolutely massive. There's the chance we might see famous NPC's from the past appear as Followers on our farm (quite apart from the fact I reckon Dog will already be having a kennel built outside our Town Hall a la Theramore) and that possible Missions may well utilise classic locations we've visited before. What you also need to bear in mind with absolutely everything that happens in 2014 that this is 10 Years On from where the journey began and there's nothing Blizzard like more than celebrating an anniversary. I'm not sure I'd do it with a Giant Sword, but that's just me: what you can guarantee is that won't go past quietly or indeed uncelebrated. I'd expect many game aspects to reflect that milestone, this one included.

There is also, as we have discussed at length last week, the potential of expansion of this feature... and I'm not simply talking about on a per-Expansion basis. This could be the PERFECT opportunity Blizzard have been looking for to port a Warcraft 'mini-game' outside the sphere of the client and onto a mobile device. Considering the potential hearthstone has on Tablet devices I really cannot believe the Warcraft designers haven't got at least one eye on sticking SOMETHING on iOS and Android. If there a way to take the 'sub-client' that forms the Garrison out of the game, and to stick it somewhere else... well that would be a coup of massive proportions. It would also pave the way for future Blizzard titles to utilise cross-platform integration: if you couldn't get to a PC or Mac to update soemthing, the Tablet would act as a mobile 'interface' while you were on the move. Don't tell me games designers aren't thinking like this because if a 47 year old mother of two can imagine it...

Anyway, I'd like to apologise for this week's feature being of slightly lower quality than previous weeks; you can blame the week before Christmas, or the fact I have nothing left to give you, or indeed some random third thing of your own choosing. Not sure what we'll do next week, but I do at least have seven days to think about it. On that note, I'll be retiring to Alternative Towers to do just that...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

25 to Life


And then, we were there.


There's a few things to be said concerning the fact that, during the week, I finally achieved Mount Parade.

The last bit of Grinding Cows (TM) on the Island was incredibly easy, and I did it very soon after reset. Mr Alt remarked last night how quiet the Isle was whereas in Ironforge it was packed, so I think I can fairly surmise that the focus of people's interest has shifted. I suspect we'll see quite a few more people levelling over Christmas as a result, so I'm going to not buck the trend and have a bash at getting a couple of alts maxxed. As one would be the Jewelcrafter, and thanks to the fact that I've been on the Island for so long I suspect I have enough Firestorm Eggs with the bonus to rep to get pretty much instant access to the Panther recipes, it's probably time to do a bit of gathering and start working on those mounts to add to the collection.

Then there was the (at least for me) annoyance of actually learning the 200 but because of the way the system works not having it register or the Achievement appear until I logged one of my two alts who own class-specific mounts. It could have been either the Lock or the Pally I assume (the former won coz I log in the order people appear on screen.) Yes, this is minor, but it does show up a shortcoming in the Achievement System when all your programme does is count certain things on a per character basis. They could probably fix that, but by doing so they'd probably break something vital. Such are the mysteries of the Blizzard UI. Needless to say I now own 202 mounts, because as well as the quite beautiful Blue version being modelled by the Lock above there is also a Red version that appears on the Horde side.

This also means that, whenever I want to check exactly how many mounts I *actually* own, I'll need to look at the Lock for a confirmation :P


Gets lost a bit in Orgrimmar


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is the satisfaction of having completed one of the most significant Achievement grinds I've ever undertaken in game, because it's taken this long. By 'this long' I mean about nine months, give or take, which is pretty stupid (possibly) by some people's reckoning. If I'd have focussed (for instance) on finishing Meta Achievements in places like Ulduar or ICC I could have been there far faster but the focus here was, most definitely, doing it alone in my own time to fit around my playtime. If there were one metaphor for what Pandaria has made me it is probably this, and there's a post or two locked up in that revelation. Whereas Flex has championed the notion of players doing things together, many parts of this expansion have forced me to go alone, simply because no-one else was around at the time to begin with. I'll have to think a bit about that actually, but I reckon what Warlords should be doing, as a first priority, is actively discouraging as much solo play as it can. There's some contention for you. I'll leave that here for everyone to think about and I'll be off to the next paragraph...

The biggest upshot of this Achievement is, of course, where I go next. This means there really is nothing stopping me going off and sorting out Battle Pets, for instance, which currently holds the Clubhouse Leader spot. There's the Brawlers Guild, and all manner of stuff scattered across Pandaria to consider, but in terms of massive steps Mount Collecting is the train that will never stop, because the next big marker undoubtedly is 250 in Warlords and I can start on that RIGHT NOW. I might even get lucky and they stick summat in for 225, and in that case that could be doable quite quickly.... and I realise that this game really does have its claws permanently in me. As the man says.... you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave... ^^