Saturday, July 26, 2014

BETA :: Here You Come Again

Deliberately Spoiler Free.

The great big Reset button got pressed (finally) yesterday evening and we're in Build 18594, which means for those of us in Europe still unable to copy characters that I got myself yet another Hunter off the shelf and went to work on a) This bit of the new content above (from the Blasted Lands side) and then b) The other bit in Tanaan. As I tend to be less that complimentary about stuff I don't like, I've come to the conclusion that whoever's designed the precursors to Shadowmoon and Frostfire isn't really doing the 'new' game that Blizzard is championing any justice at all. In fact, this section of content is linear, predictable and fairly depressing. I had to spawn camp in the Blasted Lands because of volume of players (how long before Blizzard learn to stop specifying particular mobs for dispatch?) and how long before we can finally choose ALL of our options for questing and not simply the ones in specific zones?

Tanaan was depressing enough to become funny the second time around: having an omnipotent saviour as a guide is quite amusing when you're the one doing all the killing and he just turns up for the moments of theatre. In one bound, every time, we were free when I could have skipped the quest points and just let my saviour do the work, which is sad when these acts are clearly supposed to inspire and awe you, when all you do is wonder what he can't just port you to the end of the zone so you can go the content where you get the choice of what to do. That's the biggest problem when you've created brilliant variety beyond the bit you were forced to bolt on to 'train' the 90 premades: you can't make it anything more than on rails if you're going to tie players to a specific number of steps to 'claim' their abilities. I'll reiterate that a quest line where people actually have to use them in appropriate situations would have been better, but when you have so many classes to cover, this is probably the best anyone could expect. Trouble is, it just highlights the fact this looks as if it was bolted on as an afterthought, which it clearly was.

I REALLY hope they come good on the promise and allow you to skip the thing when you've done it once.


However, I now know where people were picking up Parrots. I'm going to need more stable slots, although the opportunity to tame a new style Shadow Wolf has been removed from the equation (at least for now.) No doubt this will be stuck behind some ridiculous questline or set of tasks that will need to prove my worth as a Hunter. I kind of liked the days when you could just pick up the pets you wanted without having to prove your worth. Yes, I just typed that, and I entirely understand why all this stuff gets done, but my biggest issue when playing is time and if I have to wait around for summat 325 other people are trying to tame? It's a waste of my online experience.

Find something else.

Oh, what a bitter and cynical player I have become... and clearly an old one. Whereas a couple of years ago I would have stayed up to complete Tanaan so I was ready to progress today, I got to 12.30 this morning and walked away. Mostly it was the sheer numbers of people in the Starting Zone, the fact that despite insane respawn rates elsewhere they didn't exist in Tanaan and I had to wait for the mobs I needed, and most importantly that doing this was a chore, and sleep became more attractive. However, I am very keen to get the Garrison going again so I will gird my Dwarven loins after domestic tasks are complete and start on the journey to L100 and a L3 structure. I'm actually looking forward to playing Shadowmoon again in the anticipation that many of the big issues have been corrected, though the fact that some items in Tanaan are still not textured was met with mild surprise last night.

They'll have it all done by Release, after all.

Friday, July 25, 2014

BETA: One Day

The following post does not contain a plot spoiler PER SE, but there IS a spoiler for a section of in-game content which is (I believe) deliberately included to provoke a particular reaction. If you are sensitive to such things, PLEASE STOP READING NOW.

Killed where he stood.

I've debated this post for a bit, and after consideration I am going to run with it, because... well, if it works for 'Game of Thrones'... Not making any sense? Gimme a bit, you'll see :P

World of Warcraft is, as the title suggests, not a game about bunny management (though of course some people would disagree.) It is based in a conflict between two factions and countless races which stretches well over ten thousand years. For me as a player, that conflict has never really registered as significant until recently, where events in Pandaria made me stop and consider the nature of my interaction with that portion of the 'Universe.' Of course, it seems a bit ridiculous, in a game where you are regularly and systematically destroying mobs on a daily basis to even consider the notion of conscience over casualty but since the Alliance rolled into the Jade Forest and unlocked the Sha (whether it was out fault or not I believe is still up for some debate) there's been a niggle of disquiet in my mind. The notions of 'heroes' and 'villains' are often not well painted in MMO's, but this time around I have to give due credit to whoever is planning the Alliance side of things.

When I come across tableaux like the Draenei above, I am genuinely scared of what the Iron Horde is capable of.

Many people have argued that because of the current nature of the Beta it is difficult to accurately judge the 'mood' of questing, and to a certain extent this is entirely correct. However, what is overridingly apparent from the little I have taken part is that the Iron Horde means business, are taking very few prisoners and, in most cases, are going to systematically eradicate the Draenai race in their push to World Domination. Oddly, this point was reinforced by, of all things, a Vignette, which resulted in me stopping playing for a good five minutes as I sat in amazement at what I'd just seen. I was shocked, stunned, and extremely impressed by the power a simple incident could bring to the gravitas of Talador's precarious situation.

The Remains of Deceptia.

This small space, quietly smouldering, was previously the spot where a bunch of Green Draenei NPC's seemed to be quite happily going about their business. In fact as I approached them they seemed unaware that the area they were in was being invaded... that was, until a shell whistled in and destroyed the entire place, leaving nothing except a Vanity Item: Deceptia's Smoldering Boots. A quick check on Wowhead confirms that this event has been recently introduced to the game and was previously a placeholder:

It is true, and utterly effective, and yes the Draenai in question whistles past your face so you can clearly see the look of terror on her face. Just goes to show, how a simple moment can have such a strong reaction to an unsuspecting viewer (hence the spoiler warning above.) The thing is, on reflection, this shock is actually quite relevant in the context of the murdered Draenei above. Blizzard are only showing us the brutal foe we are supposed to be engaging with using comedy with shock value, to reinforce the casual and brutal manner in which the Iron Horde is eradicating everything in its path. Of course, there's at least six people on Twitter at this point who'll already be telling me I'm reading too much into this anyway and it is just a game. I'll respond this is the most I've been moved to fight for my side since I arrived in Pandaria several years ago and was asked to bomb the Horde into obliteration.

I may well be over-analysing this, but for people to want to play the game at plot level, there needs to be a point.

If all you care about is your purple loot and your Mythic Set, all of this is probably moot to begin with, but for those of us in the fields for whom the 'story' of Warcraft is our meat and drink, the early signs of this conflict are grim indeed. I'm not going to give out any spoilers, but what is immediately apparent are the weapons of war have very much received a massive overhaul. In fact, so comprehensive is this upgrade of hardware and machinery that many of those items remain unfinished.

It'll look good when its done. It will also hurt.

The final sequence of quests in Shadowmoon are fairly uncompromising in terms of eradicating the Iron Horde with equal force to theirs, and that theme plays out across Talador with the zone peppered with impressive Orc encampments. Again, I have no desire to spoil anyone with what I've seen and what has played out but the number casualties should leave you in no doubt that Garrosh means business. It also means that the importance of your individual contribution via the Garrison Outposts will have a very significant impact on what transpires in EVERY zone, and what this militarisation is doing is gives the genuine impression that your actions ARE making a difference to what is happening in Draenor. I suspect making the war more personal is a deliberate means by which players will be drawn into the conflict, and certainly that's worked for me on the occasions I've come face to face with the heartless nature of my enemy.

I'm scared, and I want to make sure the Draenei are safe.

Needs more bigass Dwarf buildings.

Motivating people to quest without engagement is often hard work. I've found myself utterly engrossed in the process since the new zones, wanting to see how the story progresses and curious to see how the Alliance will survive being very much on the back foot. No massive armies here as yet, no unlimited supplies of troops and equipment, just you as Commander and the people you've managed to pull through the Portal with you. I'm halfway through 94 and am keen to keep on with the adventure, which is a massive step forward from my feelings in the last Expansion. Even though I may not like what I'm seeing, I understand why it is being presented to me.

This is war, and it is uncompromising, and it is my job to stop it before it extends to Azeroth.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

BETA: The Trees


If you intend to level from 90-100 using your Garrison as a base of operations, you will be presented with a number of choices in your early levels of questing. For instance, in Gorgrond after you save an errant party of Draenei and Dwarves from the rather hostile Wildlife, you are asked which of these two structures you would like to add as the basis of your Outpost in the Zone. My interest has been primarily to focus on the usefulness of the Lumber Mill, which provides the following bonuses for your Garrison:

Compared with the Sparring Arena, this building seems a bit... well, repetitive. The Arena is full of things to help you stay alive in Warlords, and this is... well, wood. However, for anyone who intends to skip the Garrisons and come back to them and wants to make sure they can construct their buildings in a hurry, this Building will be the go-to first construction to get your supplies of Resources up and running fast, without the need for that much questing. Because, once the Building *is* up, you'll meet Justin Timberlord.

Your Horde NPC pun may vary.

Justin will ask you to pop outside your Garrison and find a tree to chop down. Don't worry, one is marked on the map for you and once you gather the Lumber and return it to him, you'll be given A NEW GATHERING SKILL (oooooooo)

Buttered Scones time soon ^^

The Logging skill is not a replacement for other gathering skills, and appears to be purely passive. Once you have it, Trees that can be chopped down will appear on your minimap, and when they are chopped they'll look like the screenie below.

Note the Minimap.
I am assuming they respawn as herb nodes do, and there are three types of trees to 'collect' Those that require Lumber Mill 20 will need a L2 Building in your Garrison, those requiring 30 will need the L3 structure.

Too big, dat tree.

This is all very exciting, but there are some caveats to be discussed. Most notably is the number of resources you can hold in your Garrison at any one time at present (1000) which if you are questing initially is very easy to hit. I would venture to suggest that if you intend to do 90-100 entirely via the medium of quests and the like, you'd be far better off taking the Sparring Arena as a first port of call because of the benefits it gives for solo/group questing. If all you are doing is completing quests the flow of Resources is pretty constant (and they are available from lots of other places to boot.) However, if you come in late, the Lumber Mill allows quick gathering of resources, assuming you remember that small trees are everywhere and not just in Shadowmoon Valley.

Needless to say, the addition of a new gathering skill, even passive, was something exciting enough for me to be gathering lumber in darkness without realising I'd not turn the lights on after the sun went down last night. That in itself  is an indicator of my interest in this feature. Blizzard are clearly doing something right.

To Build a Home :: Homeward Bound

New logo from @wabbage :D

Today, we will have some music, thank Wabby for the awesome new graphic, and then we will tell you all about the wonders of the Level 3 Garrison.

Last night I was able to complete my Lumber Mill and as I did, the option to upgrade to Level Three appeared. Needless to say, there was much squeeing and bouncing in my chair, and then many pictures were taken. Here for you are the results with some annotation for context, and because frankly I could go on about this feature for MONTHS and still not get bored of it.

Gates go bye-byes :(

So L3 means a lot of stone but oddly, no gate, which considering I know everyone on this continent is going to attempt to kill me at some point seems a bit lax in the security department. Remind me to put that in my feedback post for the Forums.

Looking good, Garrison!

Even though the Horde clearly got the better deal in the space and layout departments, Alliance gots TREES (which is good considering the rate I'm going to be cutting them down, but more on that later) and the benefit of some fabulous backdrops for screenies.) I need to double check monument positions but I feel that the central courtyard could do with some more positionable items: lawn chairs maybe, or even some kind of BBQ. What would be particularly awesome is if your Garrison reflected the current running Festival/World Event with an NPC or a small stand (a la Darkmoon Mage.) I'll add that to the list.

Bigger space, more walls.

Inside the Town Hall is still only one storey (but plenty of room for Expansion) and there are a large number of places that are screaming out 'Look, you'll be able to customise us later!' The wall hanging here are in the Main Hall too, and my money is on you being able to use the crests of the Reputations you are exalted with to decorate them with. There's also the slightly less awesome chance that they'll just show Warlords Exalted reputations, and I'm hoping if I get in early and suggest a bigger canvas, we might get some negotiation going.

As you walk into the Main Hall, emissaries from all of the Alliance factions are waiting (no interaction as yet) plus, as you can see, you can now hold parties here. I know there's been a bit of discussion this week about whether Garrisons are housing or not: my take is that if someone else is telling me where to put my tables and chairs and I can't move them, this isn't housing. This is very much a static 'base' with some customisable elements. I cannot rip this lot out and make it my own way, so...

Anyway, you should be particularly interested by the Gnome in the corner.

No, not that one.
THAT Gnome ^^

Sparz is your Blueprints Vendor, and on Beta now that meant when I'd established my Lumber Mill in Gorgrond she sold me the equivalent plans. No idea if that's how it will work on Live or not, but this should mean I can build a Bunker at some point today :D Needless to say I have small plots too to fill, so there will be MUCH POKING.

Okay ^^

This woman appeared overnight, and appears to be critiquing her own art. I wonder if this means we may have painting change options ^^ I also have some more internal shots for you: note the wall hangings, all waiting to be filled with YOUR STUFFS.

This last one is interesting.

Those shields on the walls have 'Trophies' written all over them. I really hope it won't be animal heads ^^ Anyway, that's the biggest change covered, out we go...

To the left of the Town Hall, as we look at it here, is the space where, in L2, your Pet Battle Arena has now sprung into life. In possibly the most smile-creating moment of last night it appears that Liopleurodon, the undisputed Pet Battle Mastermind, has been further recognised with a Worgen NPC named after her (note: she has a dialogue box, CLICK IT.) There is also a Pet Battle Post, which when clicked will bring forward a battle between you and the three mobs you can see in the ring. WARNING: this is PROPER HARD. Do not attempt until Lio's done a Guide on it :P

Lio on the Left /waves 
Click at your Peril ^^

Your Garrison Walls have now extended sufficiently to cover the Herb Garden, which is now better populated and has a quest for me (presumably) when I hit 96. That means that I will be able to grow my own things. Sadly, I am yet to access the Fishing Shack or indeed the Mine, which has been persistently bugged for me since I arrived. However, I do realise that if I *learnt* fishing, at least one of those situations might change. Remind me when I'm done here.

These two buildings are outside the walls, but don't panic coz we got an AWESOME tower to defend them with:

Already Familiar :D

Inside there are empty lots waiting to be filled, and many details to be taken in at your leisure. Needless to say, this is not the last you've heard from me with the L3 Garrison by quite some way. I'll stick all these together into an Album at some point, and we'll be adding more details as the feature continues to grow in Beta.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

BETA : Our House

I made it to Talador today after I hit 94 on the Beta, and was faced with a choice when I arrived at the hastily-constructed Alliance Outpost: either the plans for the Mage Tower for my Garrison or the Armoury. The portal options the Tower gives are great, but it is the Armoury I have the most interest in, because of the possibilities it offers in Transmog:


It was therefore an easy choice to make and once I did. OH BOY. Am I ever in love if this is what we'll get in our Garrison:


Inside is even more awesome, if that were possible:

I'm not sure as yet what else we can expect here, but I was immediately encouraged to see that this Building has an inbuilt Missions table. If this is standard for all 'completed' Outpost buildings, it will make the business of keeping up to date in the early levels far more convenient:

The Lumber Mill in Gorgrond is pretty much still a shell for me but that's only because I've not yet completed the 'pre-quests' I am assuming will open it for use. My priority therefore is to get that working and see if this will allow me legitimate L3 access, which I know is now possible looking at other testers. To that end I'll be completing Gorgrond before I come back here, but these pictures deserved to be shared sooner rather than later because OMG I WOULD HAVE TOTALLY TAKEN THE RAID TIER FOR A DWARVEN BASED GARRISON.

Are you listening, Garrison Devs? :P

BETA: Let's Go All the Way

As a rule I don't feel the need to comment on Class Changes in Beta, because there are far more qualified people doing just that. However, this morning I stopped and stared at the latest Class Changes for Hunters. When I'd stopped laughing, I decided it was time for some searing and informed dissection of this latest change:

So, to be clear: I will, in Raids and Groups come Warlords take on one of the Warrior's traditional roles. I will become a Stance Dancer.


This will obviously not make me into a cheeky, scampering woodland creature.


The immediate aftermath of this change will automatically result in conversations of the following ilk amongst players:


Then the Hunter bemoaning this change will stop, think and wonder exactly WHY we did get this new spell?

No, I don't know either ^^

In all seriousness, Healers have stuff like Spiritwalker's Grace (Shaman still have that in Warlords, right?) Locks and Mages have a talent to be able to cast and move too (you still get that in Beta?) I know other people complain about the need to 'static' cast but surely people can learn to co-ordinate cast times and not being stationary? What is the actual motivation for giving a Hunter an opportunity, every three minutes, to cast a spell that allows everyone else six seconds not to worry about something I've spent ten years learning to master properly and have still not fully grasped? I realise that we have absolutely no useful Aspects any more except the ability to make everyone think they're at the end of the Benny Hill Show, and I now know how it must feel to be a Warlock or Mage, except of course they can't roll on all of the loot ^^

Celebrate you don't live in the 1970's ^^

I am aware this is Beta, and things are quote Subject to change unquote but how about we clarify a few points here:

  1. Raid Utility is not about covering other people's ample behinds. It is about providing something that is missing from the makeup in a raid's key composition, ensuring more chances of success. Giving an ability every three minutes for a Hunter to save the raid will require some pretty impressive co-ordination, unless you are psychically-linked to the player in question. (I'm assuming that Top 200 Raid Teams are all hive minds as standard anyway [*]) Cue screams of 'FOX!!!!!!!' on Vent/Mumble/Teamspeak as all notions of politeness are dispensed with.

  2. Why don't you give all the other classes MORE opportunities to move while doing their jobs like Hunters have? Oh yeah, that would mean PvP became impossible to balance, and WE WOULDN'T WANT THAT (actually you know what I'm okay with PvP currently so let's just leave that point and move on.)

  3. Having been out in the Beta World and having died on numerous occasions not simply to lag  to a HUGE number of new Vignettes and Silver Spawns who employ spells that make it nigh-on IMPOSSIBLE to stay still and cast anything without you taking damage, maybe the problem here isn't allowing players the ability to move more in PvE. Perhaps the bigger issue here should be how you plan boss fights so they move LESS. [**]

It normally takes a couple of days after a change is instigated for the reasoning to become apparent behind it, and it's been some time since I've made a mental note to ensure I look out for the back-story on this one. Personally I miss the days of ACTUAL utility with abilities like Serpent Sting, when I could be doing some GENUINE USE on a Boss and give healers a reason to heal me as a priority, even though they didn't need to because I could drop OOC and bandage. Yes, I know: I'm a pernicity old cynic who's seen everything and finds myself wondering of ALL the things Blizzard could choose to throw into the ring at this point to make Hunters feel more useful...

Really, this is the BEST you could do?

[FX: Goes back to rocking chair on porch, grumbling.]



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

BETA: To Build a Home ::
This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us


So yesterday, I saw my first overridingly negative review of the Garrisons via a three part Warlords overview in Massively. Of course Eliot Lefebvre can be as scathing as he chooses, and look, there he goes. By the way, there's a word missing from that second sentence, I'm going to guess it's 'when'; I always try and double check my work but as I don't have an Editor, mistakes sometimes do happen. I'm sure this lovely little insight into what currently exists on Beta is going to be met with open arms by those who'd like to see this 10 year old game buried into the ground along with all of the outdated, exclusive ideas it carries with it. Except there is one KEY factor in this entire 'review' that the OP patently fails to grasp, or indeed mention at any point in his article.

He's reviewing a product that isn't finished, and isn't close to being so by some distance.

NYI, and inaccurate on Alliance Side.

Warcraft baiting isn't new by any stretch of the imagination, and poking holes in one of the the oldest MMO's on the block might be considered as an easy target. After all, Blizzard have a historical record of dreaming up fabulous new 'features' at the start of each expansion that rapidly disintegrate or are totally disregarded by their end. We don't have to remind you of the Golden Lotus 'grind' but we will anyway, because I'm pretty sure that memory is still very fresh in the minds of Blizzard's designers. If you can't maintain a level of 'fun' in your product, people will stop playing. What is very apparent in current content is that things are not simply being built differently but that designers are far more open than they have ever been to the concept of 'constructive' feedback, and by that I don't mean sitting in the forums complaining until what you want gets changed. Talk to Blizzard 'in the right way' (sensibly, rationally and with evidence as backup) and things do happen.

The quest above is one piece of a large body of evidence that confirms Mr Lefebvre has reviewed something that's not finished: this is the starter quest to introduce the 'Garrison Invasion' portion of the content which doesn't even exist as complete game files at time of writing and is (presumably) being internally tested as I type. Although I can completely grasp the reason why this portion of the Expansion has been compared to a half baked Facebook game, I feel that a lot of players (and I'm not just talking about the OP here) are approaching Warlords with expectations of this feature that simply aren't going to be realised at any point with the game as it stands. The best way to describe this, at least for me, is going to be visually.


This is a picture of a Car. It's quite a stylised thing (I believe this is a Mustang) which means underneath, it is just a Ford. It doesn't really matter what else you bolt on top of the engine and the wheels, you can't transform into a Volkswagen or a Renault. It remains a Ford. The same is true for Warcraft: it doesn't matter how much stuff you stick on top over a decade, the basic construction underneath remains Azeroth. So, expecting a 10 year old MMO to present you with The Sims with an infinite customisation set when there's a bunch of other features that come as standard and players are expecting designers to work on is probably being a *tad* unrealistic, if you ask me (and I did.) More importantly, if the designers don't work on those features too then the original game will fail to operate as part of the overall design and everyone will stop playing. That's the bigger issue for Blizzard whenever they decide to pitch in with a new feature: managing player expectations. I reckon they're not doing a totally woeful job after a decade: that persistent rattle from the diversity trunk is finally being looked at, the failure of the PvP rear lights to engage at night has a man in overalls working on it.

In essence: Garrisons are a new paint job, the re-upholstery of the questing experience for those who have been hoping it will happen. However, it is NEVER going to make your Mustang a Porsche, and expecting that really is a bit unrealistic.

The potential is there.

This is the point where, almost inevitably, someone pulls the 'well you're biased, you're a Fangirl' argument out as a last resort as a means of derailing my enthusiasm and belief, but maybe it would just be fairer for everyone to criticise this new feature when it is actually live. I'll accept I've followed this development cycle pretty much from inception, and I would like to think I'm not being totally blinded by something that's attempting to masquerade as Player Housing in the way you'd encounter it (for instance) in something like Wildstar. There is very little emphasis on fixtures and fittings at this stage and very much a means by which Professions become a part of the architecture. There is a clear and distinctly alluded-to real time strategy element of this process which has yet to be properly introduced. It is also completely possible to totally ignore this feature and just level to 100, because Blizzard are acutely aware a bunch of people only bought this model for the End Game Raiding feature and beverage holders. I'll happily fangirl on this feature on this blog, on other people's blogs and even on your Podcast (poke me in comments for details!) but when it comes to simply stating a fact, Garrisons aren't ever going to be that simulation experience for players, so don't expect them to be. Have a sense of proportion, look at the vehicle you're driving, and be mindful of the limits that chassis places on your choice of destination.

Also give Blizzard two years and they'll make you a Mini Garrison on a mobile app. JUST YOU WATCH ^^

Pet Battle Trophy acknowledges Blizzard understanding their audience.

The last point to make here is simple: Blizzard really do understand their audience. That's *why* professions are in the mix, why the latest round of Monuments includes one for Pet Battling that actually isn't that bad at all. If you don't like Warcraft, it is almost as obvious in the way you write and talk about it as it becomes from someone who remains enthusiastic and engaged with the game. The experience is after all, is a beautiful terror that can do strange and inexplicable things to a girl's soul. I keep saying to people who ask me how I can be so positive about something that isn't even finished that my enthusiasm comes from potential: I can see what this feature could evolve into, just as Pet Battles have done since Pandaria. The *possibilities* for long-term development of this area are HUGE, but Blizzard will not commit to anything long term until they can guarantee a short-term success. That has always been how this company works, and in business terms it makes a huge amount of sense. Expecting EVERYTHING NOW is just unrealistic, which includes a customisable set of every Faction's buildings that fits into this new layout. Expecting that in a year, however? Perfectly feasible, at least in my mind.

This feature was never developed to be The Sims, or Animal Crossing: A New Leaf: it is a Warcraft take on Housing, a mini-game like Pet Battles, but more important than both of those a way to integrate and update Professions into Levelling as one of an increasing number of player-chosen options for effective gameplay. If you're coming here expecting it to change everything, you clearly need to understand how Blizzard works, and that at the end of a decade it isn't about reinventing the wheel, because the game doesn't need a new way of moving forwards. What it requires is to try and keep pace with the changing world of MMO's whilst remaining the same gaming experience it has for ten years. On that front, I believe Garrisons have the ability to be an unqualified success. It depends if you come to the experience with an open mind or not when you personally review them.

Play them once, COMPLETE, before you begin to pass judgement.

Monday, July 21, 2014

BETA: Notes from a Small Island :: 21/07

To say the Beta was frustrating this weekend is something of an understatement. However, a great deal has been done, and even more has been explored. Also, many things are not doing as they should.

Latest sensation, sweeping the nation.

I dragon surfed my way from Shadowmoon to Gorgrond as soon as I unlocked the quest inside my Garrison to do so at 92. However, I didn't stay. I'm nowhere close to completing the Shadowmoon portion of questing and that was my priority, but I wanted to go take a look at what the new zone looks like. I am a bit concerned at what I saw on the trip.

Needs more texture.

Yes, I KNOW this is Beta and stuff isn't done, I get that we're only allowed access to certain places and I also understand that part of the main artwork team's recovering from a hand injury. All that in consideration, this stuff looks like it needs work. A LOT of it. That actually unsettled me quite a bit and made me realise just how I've gotten used to the finished product over the years NOT looking like its partway through the rendering process. It also gave me some pause for thought on just how much isn't done with it being quite some time since we had any new content. I'd really like to see this when it's actually finished. They should probably remember to delete those as well.


However, as we have already discussed today, we're not here for the looks, we're here for the game-play, and I have to say I'm very, VERY impressed with how Shadowmoon has shaped up in terms of plot progression. There are some real signs of interest and I've not played through any set of quests thus far I've not enjoyed. The frustration comes, inevitably, when I try and complete something and the game breaks, which (in the case of a certain area) means that for two days I've not been able to complete a fairly important sequence and recruit a Follower. However, on that front in other places I am enjoying HUGE amounts of success and satisfaction.


As long as they keep adding missions and we get new Followers, I *love* this system. I enjoy levelling people, I'm not bothered I don't get a reward every time. I'd like to know what Blizzard are planning to offer once you cap XP for everybody. I'd like to suggest tokens that can be exchanged for purchasing items for your Garrison [*], or maybe a 'Loyalty Card' system that will allow you to exchange Mission 'rewards' for a selection of Battle Pets or Mounts.

Frankly, I'd play Warlords at this point just for the Garrison. It's not a RTS game yet, that bit is yet to be added, but as it stands just now I have my own 'home' in the game for the first time in a decade. Everything else, at least at this stage, is gravy. If it continues to be this good, I don't care if I have to learn to defend it. It'll be worth the effort.


[*] Carpets, chairs, sun loungers, BBQ equipment, Food Items, Classic Props, Construction Signs (when redeveloping areas), Gazebos, stuff for RP people, Trees, plants, shrubs, GIANT ROBOTS, Pictures, DIY construction kits, Tickets to Daisyworld, Portable things and anything else I can think of that makes the Garrison MOAR AWESOME.