Saturday, July 05, 2014

#WCOW14 :: July 4th,

It's high time we gave you the last two Quarter Finals to vote on, I think :D

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


Vote for the Team you would like to win. 

Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.

At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!

Tonight's Games are as follows:

BETA :: Friends Like These

Yesterday was an important and significant step forward for the Garrison.

Strong Female Role Models? CHECK.

I managed to a) have enough time to play and b) finish a quest sequence that rewarded me with an interesting and pretty much new choice for a Blizzard game: Choose Your Follower. Three Draenei, two female (/nods) who are, from left to right, fulfilling vastly different roles. I picked Andren purely on spec (ENGINEER): the woman to his right is a Rogue, to his left is a Tank. It is increasingly apparent that your Missions will involve players grasping the significance of the Holy Trinity (especially one assumes in five mans when they become an option.) I have my Alchemy Lab built too, and so (crossing everything) once I've done enough levelling I might, just *might* be able to progress to the Level Two structure. Excited doesn't even begin to cut it, frankly.


There were awful issues yesterday with instancing, which is how the Garrison is placed on your Starting Area, meaning that for large periods of time it was impossible to access any content. However, little by little I am beginning to fill in the gaps and work out how the experience being constructed. What is probably the biggest barrier to progression so far is the fact that the 'professions' model isn't either complete or working the way it ought to, and that is the case for every branch.


I grabbed this off a random mob while questing, but I cannot use it because, according to the game, my Alchemy skill is too low (/facepalm) and I've been told this is the same for other people with Professions skills who have received similar items specific to their particular talents. There's the Independence Weekend happening in the US so I'd not expect any kind of bug addressing until well into next week, but it is entirely possible this item is deliberately bugged. I'll keep trying to use it and see where we are as the builds progress.


I've been noticing a few things as I've been going along this last week. Firstly, the sense of deja-vu in some questlines is worryingly strong: one in particular (no, not saying which) took me right back to Hellfire Peninsula, which I am assuming is very much a deliberate move on Blizzard's part. Knowing the land you're working and questing in is also something of an advantage, and the use of familiarity as a gaming mechanic is quite useful. In fact, I suspect as time goes on I'll end up getting Outland and Draenor confused, such is the overlap between areas. Secondly, there are some fairly overt and (I suspect) deliberate references to people stargazing, including this Telescope, which sadly isn't functional (and it really should be.) I'm sure it can't be a co-incidence that an NPC makes a deliberate reference to this and I then find this set dressing about ten minutes later. WATCH THE SKIES!

Needless to say, things are looking very interesting indeed. Time to fire up the Client...

Friday, July 04, 2014

#WCOW14 :: July 4th,

So, the last sixteen has been done and dusted. Due to personal inability and children's illness, I've been unable to update the results in the Daily Posts as yet, but for those of you interested, here's how everything worked out in that stage. The results on the relevant webpages will be updated over the course of this weekend:

That means we have two last eight games to conclude today, and you'll find those below :D

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


Vote for the Team you would like to win. 

Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.

At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!

Tonight's Games are as follows:

BETA: Broken Wings


Downloads of the new Beta Build outside the US are broken. Smart money puts the issue around Localisation, and a fix is possible. However, it's not pretty, or simple. Here's a link to the initial 'fix' I was prompted to try, via the EU Forums. This however did not work for me, as was the case for many others, and so searching the same post gave me a second option that did.

Here's what I did to get a 'working' copy:

  1. Delete Beta folder (remembering to save Screenshots ^^)
  2. Deleted Battle Net client (just to be on the safe side)
  3. Reinstalled the Battle Net client.
  4. Went to the Battle Net website and picked the following option from the Download Clients page:

As it's now effectively a three day weekend in the US and I'd not expect anyone to 'fix' this localisation issue until well into next week, hopefully this will give people a chance to play. Of course, it does mean you *might* have an issue with the next Build, but frankly I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. This means I can continue to build my Garrison, and frankly at this point that is all that matters :D

My new Alliance Alchemist thanks the EU Beta Forums for their help in this matter :D

Thank you, come again!

BETA: Warm Sound


Nestled in the Beta data for Professions is something I suspect many people haven't even noticed, but which is extremely significant indeed, so much so it will get its own Blog Post here. You see, when the Expansion is live and everyone's been at the game for months, there is always a question that gets asked: what is the point in me doing this? Whether it is Transmutes or Gathering, when you play the Professions game, you end up with stuff that is no use. In this case, in Draenor, that will equate to the by-products of your Work Orders after you have bought all the relevant items you can. So, what happens when you don't need any more Secrets of Draenor Alchemy?

That's easy. In the Beta, that gives you gold.


Needless to say, you can only 'store' a certain amount of Work Orders, so the amount of 'gold' you will generate on a per-Professions basis may well be minimal. What it is going to boil down to is a) what ends up in the bags and b) whether this is intentional for Live.

Needless to say, I can now attest that, once you've learnt everything in game, Professions in Beta WILL make you gold. Guaranteed :P

BETA: Sign o' The Times


In a move that frankly should be a surprise to no-one at all, Blizzard stuck up a post last night suggesting everyone should go farm the Black Temple this weekend. I found myself chuckling (probably unintentionally) at the opening paragraph:

Rather than be predictable and move straight on to Blackwing Lair, we thought it would be more fun to briefly alight on raids from different eras, slay the inhabitants, and move on -- like an especially bloodthirsty butterfly. So let us flutter to Black Temple, storied raid from the Burning Crusade era and stronghold of one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in all of Warcraft lore: Illidan Stormrage. 

I think it's also quite sound Expansion Tie In sense at this point to go to the place that people are currently visiting in Beta, a reminder that the Temple of Karabor is what the Black Temple became, before the Orcs overran it and the Burning Legion moved in, because as we have established at some length, context is everything. This also explains why, for a short period a few months ago, Black Temple mobs were dropping no trash items. Planning is *also* significant, and it is probably time to keep your eyes open in Northrend in the next few weeks to see anything changes in the ICC Raids. It is interesting (and for me still a bit strange) to see Blizzard dedicating an entire Blog post to what is essentially a suggestion to go run old raids for Transmog items. However, when I look at the upcoming Tier 17 raid sets, I can understand why.


I admitted yesterday on Twitter that T17 gear leaves me cold, and it does. I'm also mildly concerned at the number of 'flavours' of gear there appears to be for each class, and find myself wondering why it is still important that Blizzard churn out new sets like this when frankly, it doesn't matter what the Hell we wear any more. However, of course, to some people it absolutely does, and having a full set of T17 is clearly an aspirational status symbol to which they continue to ascribe, because nothing says 'I love this game' more than owning a top of the line set of gear and the Meta mount when current. I still remember the amount of grief I got, back in the early days of this Blog, when I suggested it was wrong to encourage people to clog up mailboxes in prominent places with mounts and gear that screamed 'look at me, I've done more content than you, and I'm going to show off that I own this now.' It becomes one of those odd moments when Real Life meets Gaming and people get the hump because Achievement comes in myriad forms and for many, consumption is the most significant.

Ironically, this even happens in places where owning certain items is but a temporary occurrence.

I see one ordinary mount ^^

I find it quite amusing the number of rare mounts that always pop up on testing servers, especially those that require a serious amount of effort to farm or receive. However, I'm one of those people, and if I had the hours in the day and the lack of RL commitments I'd be absolutely grinding my fingers off to grab these items. I get the significance of the Tier for raiders, but in the end the artwork is now irrelevant, except to add to the increasing pile of items you can mix and match to make new outfits. I'd have more respect for a player who's wearing a decent Transmog than I ever would for the iLevel of their gear, but I know on that score I am very much in the minority. What is of more concern right now is the manpower resources required to design these items, that could (presumably) have been directed to far more pressing issues for the Art Department. However, while items are still being quite deliberately designed to press the right desire buttons in players, nothing is going to change.

Case in Point #216.

I can't blame Blizzard for the way they operate, because the key in all of this becomes tapping into the subconscious desires of the player-base and satisfying them in a manner that is conducive to the continued lifespan of the game. Take our newest Battle Pet addition, for instance, the Molten Corgi. Blizzard-Specific Internet Meme + proven popularity of look = WIN. The irony of this, of course, is the 'joke' that sits outside the Alliance Garrison on the Beta. Whatever you produce in game has a 'cost'. To make any item requires X number of designer hours and if Designer/Artist A is working on one thing they can't be engaged on another. So, then we find ourselves looking at the choices being made as to what Blizzard consider important in the Artwork Department, and again it is out of our control, because these stop being aesthetic decisions and they become business ones, and I'm not sure I really want to go there again.

In the end, Blizzard are only making something they know from judicious market research and player feedback is what the subscribers want. People will buy Corgis by the palace-load, of that I can be absolutely certain. This is all the game ever is, when push comes to shove, the most attractive set of pixels the Designers can manage to ensure they get the maximum return for the hours that are worked. When you grasp this is how the Game World is built, everything looks a little bit different. Then you have to make the choice of whether you continue to buy into the idea or you walk away.

As long as I can play with my friends, transmute the horrible gear, live with the Corgi reasoning and make my own way in the world, I'm quite happy just to stick with the programme.

Thursday, July 03, 2014



I spent a fair bit of time in the Podcast yesterday asserting that ranting away on Social Media is no hard and fast guarantee that you'll ever affect change in game design. Because the Universe has a thing for thumbing its nose at people like me, I wake up this morning to discover that change isn't maybe as stationary a behemoth for Blizzard as it might have been previously. First up, an Elite version of Thrall's mate, now exists in the Beta now exists in Beta. There was an awful lot of dissatisfaction that she did not travel with him to Draenor from certain quarters when the Expansion was initially announced, and the fact this NPC exists at all makes me think that maybe, just *maybe*, there's the slightest hint of the possibility of change on the wind. Then there's the story that I heard via Twitter that TOTALLY disproves the theory that Social Media never changes anything, because that's patently not the case here.


The initial reasoning for the Men Only Tournament (that South Korea is trying to get e-sports Olympic recognition and therefore 'sports' need to be segregated according to gender) is all fair and good in its own context. However, JUST STOP THERE. Let's just celebrate the fact that Common Sense has clearly won the day and mark this one down to Stupidity, shall we? What it does demonstrate however is that there is not simply the desire for organisations to change, but to be seen to be doing so very publicly in response to this kind of critical reaction. Polygon covered this story yesterday too, and here's a quote from their article:

Blizzard has been in contact with the organization about the segregation imposed upon tournaments of its card game Hearthstone and understood that it updated the rules "to make it clear that their Hearthstone tournament will be open to all players." 
"One of our goals with eSports is to ensure that there's a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games," Blizzard said in a statement provided to Polygon. "We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal."

If you wanted a clearer position on how Blizzard feels about this issue, I doubt you'd get it as succinctly. It's certainly a much-needed and public assertion that the company aren't interested in exclusion, and I suspect it will go some way to redress some of the negative press the Company's taken in the last few months on that position. However, there will be those for whom this isn't going to be enough, and that's perfectly understandable. Forgiving people is, after all, a pretty tough ask when you've seen enough wrongdoing to make you believe that it is impossible to ever forget. It is also, especially in the current media climate, far easier to apportion blame than it will ever be to consider the merits of forgiveness.

Speaking from personal experience, I'm extremely grateful I'm surrounded by people who are prepared to forgive.

Deliberate use of GIF to mask personal content.

Forgiving someone is pretty much always a HUGE ask. Some people never will, because it is always useful to have those issues as a flag to wave at someone else. 'You've always hated women and you'll never change' works just as well as 'you've always been a depressive and you'll never change' in my mind, and I've been in both those situations at close hand. I've done a lot of stuff in my life I really am less than proud of as a result of any number of external or internal factors, but the key to evolution is the understanding that you can STOP. It's not out of your control, it isn't the fault of the people who made you the way you are, it is in your own hands to affect change if that is really what you want. The key there is YOU, of course: for whatever reason these things happen, there is the opportunity to stop, take a step back, and alter behaviour. Then it comes down to whether the rest of the World is prepared to accept you as you now are, or wants simply to consider you as you were.

If you try to affect a change, then I think you deserve at least some measure of respect, and an opportunity to demonstrate the move is deliberate and being planned to last long term. The problem then comes with how you personally deal with the consequences. That's purely and utterly subjective. Personally, if people had not forgiven me, I wouldn't be here right now. My life would be completely and utterly different and it is only thanks to the generosity and understanding of a number of individuals that I have the chance to live this life, which is frankly an entire World away from what might have happened. So, if you ask me how I feel about forgiveness I think about the people I know who have recovered from addiction issues, and the people who have walked away from abusive relationships, and I consider the far too many people I know who have to deal with prejudice and marginalisation because of the sexuality they ascribe to. All of these people, all their stories, and I wonder why forgiveness is the most difficult thing to do. I suspect it is mostly because it is the most powerful of redemptions. To forgive really does demonstrate what an utterly amazing human being you are.

...aaaand there's another one.

That's why, Blizzard, this is only a first step. I'm still here: I never left the game or used your views as a means to justify my actions, because that's not the kind of relationship we have :P What I think needs to be more public, and hopefully will become so over time, is the understanding that you, as a company, have a duty of responsibility to the Industry, as a clear market leader. To make the World generally a more awesome place for your families and everyone else, that means working from a textbook that's prepared to embrace every possibility. I've seen an absolutely insane week of US News in which judges have decided that companies have the right to dictate employees lives, and I'm sure that this version of the future really isn't one that anyone in their right mind wants to have to live in either now or in the years to come. I know how hard the first step to change can be but if one person is capable alone of such things, then everyone can help to move the World forward and not send us back into the Dark Ages for a second time, because I've seen that Apocalypse movie and its not much fun.

Admitting a mistake is progress. Forgivness takes time. Just remember to keep moving forward, and to only look back as a reminder of why you began to walk away in the first place.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

#WCOW14 :: Today's Fixtures, July 1st

The group stages are over. We are into the last 16 playoffs, and there's still plenty of action and excitement to be had, despite some notable teams being knocked out already :D AS things were a mite busy yesterday, we held over the last 4 games until today, and tomorrow we'll provide details of the last eight and the times when they'll be playing.

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


Vote for the Team you would like to win. 

Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.

At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!

Tonight's Games are as follows:

Salvation, Part Two: Common People

A while ago, I commissioned an extremely talented artist, Allison McNulty, to produce some artwork in collaboration with my Fiction project. As this was completed this week, I feel it's high time we had some new words, and with work continuing apace on the Beta, it's probably not a bad time to begin discussing what's going on at the Dark Portal...

If you like Allison's work below, follow her on Twitter @Ammosart


Title: Salvation, Part Two

Author: @AlternativeChat

Character/Pairing: Introducing one Paladin Tank and a familiar Group leader. That now gives you all five members of the team, and as we have them, away they will go...

Summary: 'Did you dream last night?.'

Disclaimer: All these people live in a computer game owned by Activision and Blizzard. The one I play is mine in my mind only.

We wouldn't be here if it were not for M, who ironically has become my boss James Bond stylee because without him there IS NO MISSION BRIEFING. Many thanks for forcing me to make sense, and helping an understanding of a larger Universe as a result.


Common People.

As the new day begins, Argus sits in his bed and tries to recall exactly what he has just seen.

These dreams had first begun in the Exodar, in the time for healing from the horror he had cut a swathe through with mace and shield in Orgrimmar. The Draenei had incorrectly assumed that his own conscience was the cause. Only when P had sent a message to his family home did he understand the significance of the sight the Light had granted him. Then he had not been able to move fast enough, to hasten a return to the rest of his party, to share his insights with their leader. He's comforted by the calm of her presence, just arrived and quietly waiting outside the tent: never encroaching unless asked, the model of refinement.

This is why he held so much respect for her, after all these years. Her empathy was beyond measure.

'You may enter, but only if you carry tea.'

He hears her laugh, registers the motion of the tent's entrance as she moves within, but doesn't shift himself until P comes into his view. Only when their eyes meet does she pass him the large bowl, scented sweetness he is grateful to drink from at length.

'Did you dream last night?'

He asks the question as he has every morning since he came here, a gauge as to her mood, the outlook. She has been stealing time in the day to rest, when he knows the dreams have not reached her. Something about the darkness matters in all of this, the Nether itself, reaching out to envelop them...

'I was at the Temple again in Shadowmoon.'

She carries the weight of another difficult night, red and raw on her face, under puffy eyes. Since he returned three days ago they have compared their dreams and Argus knows her view of the Valley is tainted by the loss of her husband, the Karabor she encounters the gutted remains of the Temple in Outland. This is not what he sees, what he can smell and taste, as he walks in sunlight and views the holy ground as it was, before the inevitable destruction. He had found trouble reconciling this disparity, but the night has provided a vital understanding. He knows what he experiences is far more than just a memory and he is keen to share this with the Dwarf.

'As was I, but not the one this Portal would take us to. Mine is untainted, untouched. As it was... in the time... before the Legion.'

The tears are a surprise, and as they come the Light in his heart pulls Argus from past back into present, reminders of untainted history, the call to prayers suddenly overriding. He should be out of bed, in his Prayer Robe, as his brother and sisters already run up the stairs to the Temple. It is utterly real yet this is impossible, a fabrication of past and present collided. He had stood there in his dreams, on the steps as yet unworn by many hooves, a gentle breeze blowing the scent of Starflower across the Valley, and he had finally understood that this place was not the same as he remembered from his childhood. The last time he had experienced such alteration of reality was to the West. In Tanaris, deep beneath the sands.

'Fizz is indeed correct with his statement from yesterday. The fabric of time has shifted around us. This dream may look like a Draenor I know, but I am aware that is most certainly not the case. I have not felt this way since we were returned to Stratholme by the Bronze Dragonflight - '

Argus stares at P, anxious for a response to his revelation. She in turn simply stands, fingers rubbing together idly as she thinks, clearly considering before offering an opinion.

'Then it may not simply be the Portal that's been changed. Crais might yet be correct, significant events could well have been compromised. Why am I not surprised?'

In the camp there were two dozen people, across all the Alliance races, linked to each other and the call from the Portal. Crais had been gathering intelligence as was his particular craft, comparing stories and fragments of connection: why so many people had arrived unprompted, what it was that motivated their journeys. The consistencies were mounting: the Orcs, Karabor and the undoubted understanding that realism itself had been sublimated. At the eye of the storm, and the place where Azeroth met Outland, the pull of fate itself had become both strong and unstable. Since Deathwing's demise, the Caverns of Time was largely inhospitable, a dangerous place to even fly over. Travellers vanished, increasingly bizarre cosmic flotsam would be spat into the sands, buildings and ships juxtaposed against the harsh Tanaris sands. Rumours were rife as a result, the inevitable consequences from Nozdormu's continued meddling with the framework of reality.

The Draenei is finishing his tea in a gulp, getting out of bed as he searches for a formal robe. He knows he must take the memories in his head and pass them onto Crais before they fade in the cold light of day. With a speed that stops him dead a phrase pops into his mind, spoken by a voice he has heard many times in the past: a being he's fairly certain doesn't posses a mouth. The force of realisation is a punch, and he is suddenly staggering, looking for a place to steady himself. It is P that catches him, supporting his massive frame with a strength he is impressed she possesses. As she looks at him there is a sudden and damning understanding, the two of them connected by something far more subtle than simply years together in battle. 

'You have a message, don't you?'

At the sound of P's words Argus' mind blossoms, a thousand images suddenly exploding alive in his mind. The Clerics are running though the Exodar, all of them, not caring about protocol or refinement. His brother is sprinting for the Temple, the voice in his mind as clear as the one in his mother's and his sisters. The same voice, in P's subconscious, relaying an identical message. To all of them, to everyone who would embrace the Light and grasp it is all that that stands between Azeroth and complete annihilation.

'The prophet is coming.'

As the words leave Argus' mouth, the world outside his tent bursts into chaos.

Alternative Chat :: Episode 28

After an absence, some Drama (Radio) and a Guide, we have returned to familiar territory. I've taken the decision to return to scripting because I am actually more comfortable writing words beforehand when I want to go off on a FULL ON RANTYFEST and so that's what you can expect over the Summer months. Heck, it isn't like there's nothing to talk about all of a sudden. DOUBLE NEGATIVE FTW :D

This Week, I am Discussing:

  • You cannot expect to change everything.
  • This game has to release sometime, so stuff has to give.
  • Not unreasonable expectations are good.
  • How I still don't believe they merged the Auction Houses
  • Stuff that makes me smile :D
  • Garrisons 101 discusses the changes to your home on Draenor from the Alpha.

Contacting the Show:


alternativegodmother (at) gmail (dot) com

Social Media Gubbins:

@AlternativeChat on Twitter on Facebook

Look forward to seeing you here next week :D

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

BETA: Money, Money Money

It's a late night at Blizzard HQ, and Watcher Dev's trawling the Forums, looking at posts. He finds one concerning the fact that someone in Beta has noticed that Alliance and Horde Auction Houses are currently merged and working as a single entity. Because he's the one on Late Duty tonight, he decides to clarify the position for the poster:


Of course, I have no idea if that's actually how it transpired, but in my head that's how I imagine it might have happened. And there a major news story was born. No fuss, no huge announcement and certainly no waiting weeks for a blog post, because I'm strongly suspecting this is just another of the various Quality of Life changes Blizzard know people have been asking for (and they have) that they just made happen. However, for quite a few people on my Twitter feed, and in the Blogsphere, this is news so large that it DEMANDS more than simply two lines of blue text, which is odd, because the last time we checked (which was yesterday) Blizzard don't actually need to tell anyone anything. They certainly don't need to give us the reasoning behind a change that, at least on paper, is a no-brainer. This helps the Auction House Economy balance out on servers where faction imbalance will not be helped by server merges. It gives EVERYONE a chance to buy and sell regardless of the numbers of people. It is, in effect, a stroke of genius.

This is the bigger picture.

However, there are consequences to be considered, the most notable for people like me who have relied on the Neutral AH to ferry materials between Horde and Alliance. Should all AH's be merged into a centralised unit (and I'd suspect for ease of use they may well be) this will once and for all see an end to a means of transporting items from one faction to another. It won't be a massive inconvenience, especially as Garrisons will allow players access to multiple professions simultaneously, but it will mean I'll need to look at possibly levelling a third Hordie to compensate for the shortfall. It does mean the Bankalt Population is going to be further decimated, as it now becomes utterly pointless to have anyone in Booty Bay, should this change go to Live.


Thanks to the wonderful @yoco68 via Twitter, we have proof that Neutral AH's are currently using data from Stormwind's AH:


But there are other issues here, not simply for the VAST number of people who live and work the Gold Making Game on Live at present (of which there are many.) I'm sure they'll tell you this will simply mean they have to rethink the odd strategy here and there, but the wider mechanical consequences of a merge are considerable.

This change will have serious implications for institutions such as the Undermine Journal and anyone using an addon which gives access to the Auction House, quite apart from the obvious Faction 'concerns' that are bound to emerge from such a major alteration. As for firm details of how this change will now play out for Live?

We'll need more than two lines in a Forum for that.


[EDIT: There's a good point made here too:

Again, we're probably going to need someone to sit down and explain this change in a *wee* bit more detail to be sure of the changes :D]

Hide Away


As I'm not a massive fan of blowing my own trumpet I thought I'd leave mentioning this until after the event, and as my brain's about as useful as blancmange this morning it seems a perfect opportunity to bring this up. On Saturday night I was asked to act as a 'Guest' on an Open Raid evening where another 24 people helpfully carried my arse we cleared 25 man Throne of Thunder, whilst I answered questions about Warlords. It was a cross between a Podcast interview and a Raid, and proved pretty much conclusively that I am completely unable to talk and raid. For future reference, probably a good idea just to have me signed in on Vent whilst you get 25 competent people to actually raid. However, it was a very interesting evening, insofar as it made me realise just how little information there is 'out there' concerning Garrisons (for instance) and if I can get some knowledge passed out to more people, then it's a job worth doing.

I'd like to publicly take this opportunity to thank Open Raid for having me, for all the guys who looked after me and made me feel at home, and as I'm too scared to watch back I'm going to leave this here and ask everyone else to tell me how awful I was:

I think now it is probably high time to go poke around Beta for a bit...

Monday, June 30, 2014

#WCOW14 :: Today's Fixtures, June 30th

The group stages are over. We are into the last 16 playoffs, and there's still plenty of action and excitement to be had, despite some notable teams being knocked out already :D

Each 'game' of the Campaign will play in 'real time' to coincide with events outside Azeroth (you know what I'm talking about :D) Twitter and Facebook will link to this page, and Voting will be open until 9am TOMORROW MORNING to give people more time to support their favourites :D


Vote for the Team you would like to win. 

Underneath each game is a link to a Poll. Please click on this to cast your vote.

At the end of the Voting period, the team with the most votes will be awarded the win. If votes, when tallied are within 5% of each other, the game will be declared a draw, and a coin will be tossed to determine who will win on penalties, because that's about as fair as the real thing ^^

Results will be added to this post after each game has been concluded. Remember to vote for your team!

Tonight's Games are as follows:

BETA :: Fairground

We still want to incentivize guild membership, aside from the social benefits, so we're keeping conveniences like faster mount speed, instant guild mail, Mass Resurrection, etc., as exclusive benefits to all guilded players. The guild achievement system, and unlocked items and other benefits through completion of guild achievements, will remain as-is. We'd like to emphasize that system a bit more as a yardstick for collective accomplishment, rather than guild level which primarily just reflects individual effort. 

This last weekend was what could reasonably be considered as an 'interesting' one for Warlords, insofar as it was the first after Beta was announced and the time where the largest number of people outside Blizzard's 'Family and Friends' could actually go and poke the game to see what had changed. The outrage (for that is what it is appears to be for many) over the movement of faction capitals to the Ashran Peninsula continued, there was a lot of disquiet over just how unstable the Beta was for a product people were supposed to be testing, and it became apparent early yesterday that Blizzard had effectively removed a large swathe of Guild Perks without the kind of blog-based explanation many of us have become used to over the last few months. I debated last night how long it would take today to get an answer to this move and the thinking behind it, but Blizzard clearly thought this alteration significant enough to get Watcher to type a blue response on a Sunday.

Needless to say, even if this is still Beta, the changes detailed in the explanation are fairly damning, and signify a significant move by Blizzard to de-emphasise the gold-making potential a L25 Guild possesses.

This is going to come as a shock for those whom the Cash Flow perk isn't a way for an unscrupulous GM to use his membership to make cash, but it will quite usefully see an end to the phenomena of GM's 'selling' guilds with 100's of members once they've taken the money they want from the Bank and are ready to move on. What it will mean is GM's like me are going to have to pull their socks up and work a bit harder to make money for the coffers, especially as one of the 'counters' Blizzard are suggesting to this for income generation is the increase of BoE Epics in raids. What this does mean is that for Vanity Guild owners life suddenly got quite a lot more interesting, with the addition of a number of perks that you'd probably have never seen if it was just your bank alt in charge. One now also wonders as a result if the costs of building a Guild from scratch may significantly increase as a result of these changes.

I'm also glad to see that Achievements are remaining, however, and that at least something tied to individual effort will continue to gain reward. However, there is one part of Watcher Dev's statement above that should give everyone at least some pause for thought:

Many perks can just be rolled into default behaviors, since a majority of players already had them and the world was designed and tuned around their existence: Flight path taxis can just inherently move 25% faster instead of requiring "Ride Like the Wind"; Honor rewards and item costs can be balanced as if you had "Honorable Mention"; and so forth.

The removal of flight from the game remains as another issue of contention in sections of the player base, and what Watcher does here is quite clearly indicate that if you aren't flying in a new zone, then the 25% movement speed is effectively redundant because all flight paths will be provided for you. However, in the rest of the game world, this is clearly not the case, so what this does mean is a disadvantage to playing any part of the content rather than the section that remains the most current. Does this mean we could be seeing a shift away from encouraging players to dip into Older Content or to go back to the past? It wouldn't appear so by the willingness of Blizzard to provide players with access to old raids for Transmog items (and even adding NPC's to access LFR on a single player basis for just that reason.) Then there was the Molten Core guide that appeared at the end of May, which was encouraging players to explore 'Legacy content'... but nothing since, despite some clear indicators that the Black Temple and TBC content was being looked at by Devs and that, for a short time, loot drops were nerfed because of the gold they generated for unscrupulous farmers.

Blizzard are clearly looking at past choices and amending those it feels gives players an unfair advantage. It could also be the case they're not afraid to plunder the past either if it means using nostalgia as a marketing tool.

This little nugget of Gold (TM) popped up in the maelstrom of noise over Beta yesterday. Needless to say, nobody in Blizzard's gonna say anything about it for any number of reasons, but if this is even close to being considered as an option, it has 10th Anniversary Celebration written all over it in very big capital letters. This is roughly akin to the 'failed experiment' in Karazhan that developers shrugged off late last year and that could well come back to haunt players in Warcraft's next Expansion, not simply because of the extremely strong lore connection between Draenor and the structure in Deadwind Pass. Blizzard won't yet confirm anything, but there's some HONKING HUGE SPOILERS already active in the Beta that pull Kara front and centre in 'current' events. Playing 'guess Blizzard's next move' has never been a very good game to play unless you're actually inside the Campus at Irvine or are mates with a developer, and even then you can't be 100% sure you're getting the full story. Stuff is changing very fast at present, and it is apparent that sacrifices are already being made in order to ensure this game gets a release date in Q4 this year. What Blizzard are clearly not afraid of is using the entire back catalogue for inspiration. What seems to have become more prevalent in recent months is the desire to move the focus very much back into the gaming world and how it works.

There appear to be some fairly strong statements of intent in the Beta Client we've been given to play with.

The next couple of months will be crucial in determining what stays and goes in terms of original intent from Blizzcon. Sacrifices are already being made, and despite the many and vocal protestations of players, some stuff is not up for negotiation, of that it is absolutely clear, because this isn't our game to make. That is a point that many people would do well to grasp as they wail and gnash teeth on whichever social media forum of choice they choose to inhabit. There is little to absolutely no chance an incoherent rant will do to change the mind of ANYONE. Reasonable, sensible forum posts might work, but I believe even the Blizzard Forums buckled and collapsed under the strain yesterday. I can remind everyone this is Beta and subject to change, but there's a lot of people who really aren't listening, and they certainly won't read anything this long as a result. So, it's time for a TL;DR summary. Fortunately for me, an ex-Blizzard employee summed up the situation with more grace and eloquence than I could ever manage, so I think I'll leave the last word to her:

Sunday, June 29, 2014

BETA :: If Looks Could Kill

Dwarf vs Dwarf

As I couldn't get into the Beta yesterday without everything going utterly Pete Tong on me, I have spent a bit of time playing with Wowhead's excellent Model Viewer. Having finally called up a comparison between the P I know and the P I will become... as you can see above, there's a wee bit of an issue. It's something Blizzard are already well aware of: the issues with the Beta client and the new models facial 'restrictions' are a concern for many people that is already being dealt with:

The most pressing issue, at least for me, is being able to find a way to reconcile the past 'look'and the present 'change' with a measure of satisfaction. I'm seeing increasing numbers of people who are looking at their models side by side and getting a shock at what they are provided with. However, when you consider the improvements in how armour looks on these new frames as opposed to the old ones... there's a part of me that wouldn't begrudge paying for a change of look in facial features because of the improvements to the way costumes hang on the new models. Because, undoubtedly, there is always a toss up to be made when you move forward.

Woo is wearing a sub-L60 robe, and suddenly it looks infinitely better on a small frame that is now far better proportioned. Shoulders sit more naturally and the entire outfit just feels more normal and less compressed, and for that alone I am very grateful. What is very apparent is that the amount of work that's gone into getting the Gnomes (and everyone else) this far is substantive. Some might argue it is one of the reasons why Blizzard is now having to make some hard choices about what stays in and what is left at the wayside in Beta 'development' (working on the assumption that this art is covered at least by some of the same people who 'do' some of the external 3D modelling) Of course, I have no idea whether this is actually the case or not. What I can say with a measure of certainty however is that the Artcraft feature that Blizzard have run to 'showcase' the new looks perhaps haven't been approached in the most optimal fashion in terms of preparing players for what to expect.

Pick the best pictures ^^

There is really no doubting the need to upgrade the character models in game, and I'm still a strong advocate for this change. However, whenever the Artcraft people do a blog, they can pick and choose the 'views' of each character model that best demonstrates the changes they've introduced. It's only the equivalent of me taking half a dozen selfies and deciding which ones get kept in my Pictures folder on the PC. The problem comes when players get access to the client with their own characters for the first time, which will begin to happen with increasing frequency as the Beta kicks off.

Better dress, lesser features?

All I can do now is wait and see what Chris Robinson is going to provide in terms of explanation and if there will be an option for a free 'makeover' come the new Expansion. I'm hoping therefore that the changes/explanation is coming sooner rather than later...