Google+ ALT : ernative: 08/10/2014 - 08/17/2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

REPOST :: Both Sides Now


It is, I am told, perfectly acceptable when AFK to repost items that you have previously written and allow people a second chance to digest your words from time to time, therefore giving yourself a chance to actually do some packing before leaving on Holiday.

This article was first posted in March, back when news was pretty thin on the ground and speculation was all a lot of us could do. This post is also notable because it was the first time my work featured on Blizzlist, which I still consider a great honour when it happens, because someone else telling your your work is worthwhile is still a pretty huge deal as a writer. I hope you enjoy it a second time around.


==


When all you have is crumbs, pretty hard not to be hungry.

I do my best to drop by every 'major' news site at least once every day in my capacity as News Hack(ing Cough) Extraordinaire, researching each week's Azeroth in 5 at least a bit in advance, just to see if I've missed any nugget of data that could be considered for inclusion. I'm pretty select too, looking only for what I consider major changes or what could be taken as significant, affecting the vast majority of the player base. Therefore, when I read Anne Stickney's article tackling Criticism and Warlords News on WoW Insider, I found myself doing a bit of a double-take. Anne's suggesting that perhaps we're getting a little too keen to over-analyse, that maybe we shouldn't be grabbing every piece of information thrown at us and dissecting it into wafer thin slices of deconstruction without the bigger picture as an accompaniment.

I'll agree the principle is sound, but in the current drought of actual facts, dehydrated people will pounce on anything to slake their thirsts. There's a good reason why we don't have solid facts, of course: it's not ready yet. Having rushed us through a year of content we've all come to a grinding halt, traditionally the period when most people actually want to play games because it's more fun than being outside. So, in lieu of the actual client most people want, we've got Techincal Alpha streams and Hearthstone releases and Diablo 3 all desperately attempting to go 'OY WARCRAFT PEOPLE, OVER HERE!' and distract players from the fact that actually, there isn't any solid news to dissect, it is only speculation. I don't think I've ever found reason to disagree with Anne over anything she's written, but in this case, I find myself thinking that if, as a company you choose to allow specific pieces of data into the public domain, you must as a result have some idea of the consequences of your actions. Telling people not to be critical of what has been deliberately chosen as an example to showcase a piece of fiction or explain reasoning behind a game change really is an exercise in futility.


It did, too.

When you've been at something for a long time, circumstances change. The first blushes of young love are a long way from 20 years of marriage, after all, and it is crucially a lot to do with the people involved as to what you'll get from your experience. No two couples are the same, yet guidance councillors can tap into a wide range of tried and tested techniques to help people with difficulties see sense in their trauma. Similarly, in a War that lasted half a decade, and became a part of millions of people's lives, attitudes changed not simply on hardship. It may seem oddly paranoid now, looking at the 'Careless Talk' posters, but there was a real grain of truth to their message. With no instant communication, no Facebook or Instagram to take a picture or share a tidbit, you really didn't know who might be listening in. Teaching the populous to think of the wider picture became a necessary life skill, and probably did save lives.

So what has this got to do with Warcraft? After ten years, this is a relationship between player and manufacturer that's lasted longer than many marriages. Part of that has a great deal to do with how Blizzard chooses to give us information, and what we get when that happens. Although some might argue the 'all mounts are ground mounts' shocker we got when we did could be considered as a bit of a 'Trash Day' ploy, the company's pretty good at picking and choosing the moments to share data with us. People who want to decry the end of Healing as we know it based on the relevant Dev Watercooler are probably already looking for trouble to begin with. There's no maths there folks, no full spread of actual abilities to poke with a stick, and until there is there's not likely to be anyone who'll take you that seriously to begin with. It's the classic situation: someone in my Twitter feed tells me my idea will never work because their friends and guild-mates don't do it/don't agree. I ask them to provide definitive EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE of numbers, they can't, end of conversation. The only people with those numbers? Blizzard themselves. You have to trust not only what they're doing, but WHY you got this particular chunk of data to begin with.


Tosh or Truth?

I direct the floor to Item Three on this list: What you give, you get. Karma might be right, but it is a fairly solid bet that if you give people just enough it will never be enough for some, until (at least in this case) they have their hands on a product to work with, whether it be a game or indeed the 'much anticipated' Lore novel. Yes, deliberate quotes here because... no, I'm not excited. In fact I can confidently predict I won't be reading it. Pretty much at any point ever. As to why that is? Well, buy me a beer sometime and I might tell you. But I digress: if you pick a specific topic to discuss, or a particular passage to highlight, there will be a reason. Whether it is to tease your reader or prepare your player for what to expect, it doesn't matter. Part of the process of dealing with change is this slow, gradual acceptance of the process to begin with, that things may not look exactly as you thought they might. To help you cope with that, Blizzard have intentionally presented this data for your perusal, knowing full well at least one person will get angry, another will shrug and move on, whilst everyone else will spend hours dissecting relevance. As long as it keeps us talking about the game, that's really all that matters. Because without that, people start getting bored and cancel subscriptions.

As I keep saying, that Oscar Wilde bloke had it pinned down. Talking about Warcraft is great, not talking about it isn't. Encouraging certain types of conversation however could be seen as destructive over time (look at the no flying conversation for ample evidence of that) but the fact remains, that is all it is. Without a Beta, we don't have a clue. The longer that goes on, the more speculation will grow, the louder criticsm will become... and telling people not to judge? The entertainment world is based on the ultimate symbiosis of criticism and speculation : Who Shot JR? What did 'Lost' mean? Would Jack Bauer EVER go to the bathroom in 24? It shifts units and drives websites and keeps shows on the radar even when they've not been in production for years (VERONICA MARS MOVIE) Critical feedback should help Blizzard to isolate potential flashpoints too, to understand where it might have to push the sell that bit harder. Telling people not to be critical is like telling a kid to feel his Christmas gifts and then not be disappointed when he realised he got a jumper and not the Adventure Time hoodie he'd asked for. If his parents had listened, then all of this could have been avoided. It is a two way street: if you don't want people to criticise, pick something safe. Also bear in mind what you thing is a good idea for months internally might see the light of day and fall flat on its face. What is great writing for one person, may not be for someone else.


Inconceivable!

As long as players are forced to deal with random snippets of a bigger picture, criticism is inevitable. Speculation is inevitable. Packs of flaming-torch wielding pitchfork-brandishing rabid players will continue to mutter and grumble long after the game's released, because that's what happens when you've been at something for almost a decade, it becomes fashionable to criticise the product BECAUSE IT'S STILL HERE. In the end there is only one sure fire way of shutting up most of the criticism completely, and Blizzard have the means. It's up to them now.

We just have to be patient.

I know ^^

Friday, August 15, 2014

REPOST :: The King of Rock and Roll


As we discussed yesterday, you are now aware of the Warlords Release Date. This means that many things are becoming more of a priority than they perhaps were, with clearing out your bags quite high on that list. It seems therefore like an appropriate moment therefore to repost this handy dandy guide from earlier in the year on what you should be doing with your bags RIGHT NOW.





This time around in Warlords, there are some fairly major changes incoming that you need to be aware of before you start deleting anything you don't think is of particular value from your bags or storage. Most significant of all is the introduction of the Toybox feature:


CLICK FOR BIGASS VERSION.

This idea was a major selling point when announced at Blizzcon: all those fabulous, 'fun' items that are currently clogging up your bags? You know the stuff: quest rewards, vanity items, transformation shizzle... well, all of that's going to get its own menu in game. That means all the space currently taken by the items will be freed up. If you want more details on the feature Wowhead now has a lovely Guide on it all, and as things stand there are 159 items that can currently be stored in it (as of the current patch.)

Click here for a full list, and remember that some items are Faction only and do not count towards combined totals.

Add to this the confirmation of X spaces per character for a Reagent Bank, X spaces in a second tab of Void Storage and suddenly everyone (myself included) will be swimming in space. This has a fairly significant effect therefore on pretty much everyone's bags, and for the first time in many, MANY expansions my first tip for Decluttering your Bags is very simple:


1. DON'T THROW ANYTHING AWAY JUST YET.
(No, I don't believe I typed that either.)


Trust me, this gets LOTS BETTER in Warlords :D

This whole part of the process is making me particularly uncomfortable at present: I'd love to throw half the stuff here away but if I do there is currently no written guarantee I'd be able to get it back. As a result, it all has to stay put. That means, believe it or not, this set of bags is pretty close to being decluttered. Yeah, I know ^^ However, there are some things I can see already in this screenie that can be improved. Let's therefore apply some basic space increasing principles with one eye on the fact the Toybox is still not either implemented or actually complete regarding what exactly WHAT will go into it:


2. Create a BoE Bankalt.

Assuming you've not filled up 11 slots on your server already, having a Bankalt is really useful. It gives you someone to send all your rubbish to, even if it's just to vend and make a nice little nest-egg of cash for the Expansion. It is a character who can be at the Auction House while you're out grinding stuff. Most importantly, it teaches you to restrict the amount of BoE gubbins you keep in your bag at any one time. If you send it all away once you've done an LFR or completed a quest hub, this becomes a routine you adopt every day and allows you to deal with all the saleable items you have in a more structured fashion. Remember, it doesn't even need to be a new character, just one you don't play any more. Pick a target, clear their bags, and START MAKING MONEY.


3. Be Brutal.

The past is often difficult to destroy. However, all those drops from TBC that you're not ever going back to use? THROW THEM AWAY. The Battle Pets you've not learnt because you have too many duplicates? If you can't vend them, LEARN or DESTROY. Those Brawler's Guild quest starters? SELL, USE OR DESTROY. Learn to be assertive with your choices and stick by them when you do. You'll find you can free up an awful lot of space by using things like the Spirits of Harmony (I have eighty in the bags above) to make other things that you can then sell. However bear in mind these MIGHT become BoE at some point in the future (emphasis on the might) so keeping them again may not be an utter waste of space...



THROW IT AWAY DAMMIT!


4. Have a Place for Everything.

I have a family of bankalts (see my front page) Four are under L10, one's an abandoned Hunter project and the last is a L90. However, I don't use them all for storage. Many of my active alts also serve as storage areas for materials, especially those who work with professions. The point here is simple: know where everything 'lives': assign one alt to hold all your Heirlooms, another to be your cloth storage, a third to look after raw materials. Have a notepad or a computer file where this information is stored as well, for easy access. Having a  place for everything will make the process of organisation considerably less stressful.


5. Maintain your Organisation.

The only way anything works, whether it be sticking to a diet or exercise plan or beating a difficult Instance Boss is patience and time. The same is true for getting organised. If you want these systems to work, you need to keep at them and be consistent in your approach. Even if it's only 30 minutes a week, clearing and sorting things can make a huge difference to your quality of gaming time. Find a system you are comfortable with and stick with it. The results will surprise you.


6. Don't Try Everything At Once.

This is actually quite significant: you won't get anywhere if you try and declutter every character you have simultaneously. If you're working across multiple alts make an effort to completely sort one before you move to the next. Perhaps take an evening for each over the course of a week so it doesn't become a chore, and make yourself a list which you can tick off when each alt is 'clear' Trust me when I say ticking stuff off lists is a very satisfying method of feeling you're making progress :D


LISTS ARE FUN. HONEST.

At the end of the day (Brian) this process is all about you deciding what matters for you and what doesn't. I'm not going to urge you to Auction House stuff if you'd rather just vend everything and have done with it. What you ultimately decide to do with your stuff is entirely up to you, but remember that your space  is absolutely and totally going to become far easier to obtain and keep once Warlords finally hits.

You'll just have to resist the urge to gather everything for Transmog until then... ^^

REPOST :: Carry that Weight


You'll have noticed by now that I'm not here this week, but as we have an ACTUAL DATE for when Warlords is arriving, it is high time you got yourself properly organised. Bearing this in mind, we now present a Guide from earlier in the year that you *might* find helpful in preparation... :D



Time for some actual advice, I think...


So, having heard the Warlords release date you may well have bought the Expansion on Pre-Order, and now you have a L90 to play with. You may have gotten yourself a bunch of lovely Embersilk Bags for taking the fast track but the first time you visit your bank? Not a single container of note, except that Grape Picking Sack (that's a Grape Picking Sack coz you can't see the white quality of that link, THAT'S HOW BAD IT IS!) that you got from that quest in Elwynn before you gave this particular character up in disgust. As it's a good bet you're not exactly rolling in cash right now, I feel this would be a good opportunity to have a discussion about free containers. Because, frankly, everyone likes something for nothing (except, of course, you'll need the time to go find all these items to begin with.) Without further ado, therefore, it is time to present:






If you have the money, you can buy bags on the AH. You can make them if you are a Tailor or you can even obtain them from vendors. There's even a lovely Guide on Wowhead telling you all about it. We're not interested in spending money. We want stuff for free. That means:

  • Bags that drops from mobs, or drops when farming other places
  • Bags that constitute a quest reward/you 'buy' using things that drop from mobs
  • Bags that exist in zones/instances

Fortunately, for the cash-strapped amongst you, the above criteria covers quite a few containers of interest. Gonna list them all for you now, and we'll go through the obtaining of them as we go.

==

It feels good. You knew that it would.

ONE :: BAGS FROM INSTANCES/BOSS KILLS.


As each of these is Unique, it means you can only have the one, but if you snag them all it's a massive ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY SIX slots without you needing to spend a single penny. The Onyxia Bag is a guaranteed drop from the Dragon Lady herself in Duskwallow, and the Dragon Hide Bag comes from Normal plus Heroic Sartharion in the Obsidian Sanctum in Northrend. Once upon a time you'd have needed 24 mates to snag these but at least until they squish all our stats, most classes have a decent chance of soloing these two without breaking a sweat. Same is true for Magtheridon, who has his own Lair in Hellfire Peninsula and drops a decent 20 slotter for what (at least for my Hunter) is less than five minutes work. The other 22-er however is slightly more problematic. Both the Papa 'bags' have a chance to drop from Bronjahm in the Forge of Souls in Icecrown. When I say 'chance' Wowhead's calling it about 4% I've only ever seen the 22 slot once and it's still equipped on my Warlock.

However, if you're running Magister's Terrace on the Isle of Quel'Dailies for the White Hawkstrider, there's a far better probability you'll see the Sun Touched Satchel eventually. In fact four out six of these bags are attached to loot tables that also have a mount drop with them. You could do a lot worse than put this together for some HOT FARMING ACTION.

Small race, MAHOOSIVE BAG.

TWO :: QUEST BAGGAGE



If the bags in the Forge of Souls aren't happening for you, these three are decent fallbacks and, if you're a boosted 90, you won't have done the questlines attached to them, so you can go sort that out at the same time. The Grummelpack's about an hour's work (if that) in Kun Lai: go find the quest 'Traffic Issues' given by Smokey Sootassle on the Burlap Trail. Seven quests in, you'll be rewarded with your 24 slotter. Job dun! The Hexcloth Bag is a reward from Zul'Aman (reward from Zul'Aman), which can still be a little tricky to solo, but as there's another mount to farm in this one you could do a lot worse than ask a mate along.

The Halaani Bag requires 80 Oshu'gun Crystal Powder Samples, which you'll need to hand into your faction's appropriate vendor in Nagrand. You'll also need Halaa to belong to your faction to do this, which is why this particular bag often gets overlooked. However, yet again, there are two mounts available for PvP in this zone. You could do a lot worse than invite some friends from BOTH factions along and make a day of it :D

Old Reliable :D

THREE :: ZONE DROPS THAT ARE BIND FREE.


These last two are worth mentioning, because like most bags that drop from mobs in the 'Old World' they're bind-free and therefore can be swapped from alt to alt without penalty. No, they're not huge, but they are useful and drop with impressive regularity from pretty much every instance in the late 40's to early 60's. I've been farming UBRS for Dragonscale, for instance, and I reckon I see a Traveler's Backpack every other run. There's a lot to be said for these if you really are on a budget and you have the last few spaces in your bank to fill. The overriding advantage using these? Once you get a bigger bag you can either send them to your next alt or make a tidy profit on the AH. Me? I keep them for bankalts, because I am cheap and I like the idea of bind-free generally.

==

There you have it: eleven bags that won't cost a penny to obtain, and most have the benefit of when you're farming for them, you get FREE MONEY along the way. There are other options I've overlooked too: if you're passing through Blackrock Depths, for instance, always be sure to kill Ribbly Screwspigot as he has a chance to drop a 16 slot BoP, the Wayfarer's Knapsack. If we're still waiting for Warlords by the time Hallows End rolls around, you might even see a Jack o' Lantern drop, which is an 18 slot BoP item not to be sniffed at.

What are you waiting for? GO START BAG FARMING!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

REPOST ::
Scheduling Blog Posts for Fun & Profit




You're reading this post right now, but I actually rewrote it from the original version just under a week ago. It is here when it is because I have used a scheduler and a number of social media tools in order to make it LOOK as if I'm sitting at a computer, when actually I'll be in another country, being all continental. That's the joy of Scheduling, and because all of this is well worth repeating I'm deliberately recycling the Guide I first wrote back in May and sticking it here again for you to use and learn from :D

The biggest single key to successful scheduling is time management, and having a definite plan on what you want to achieve. It should then be possible to write a large number of posts and 'schedule' these to appear over a number of days or weeks, depending on your preference. As a rough guide, I produced 14 pieces to be published in the 7 days I was away. My process was as follows:

  • Plan on paper the seven day 'window' with required posts per day. Decide which times to 'Publish' (more on this below)
  • Make detailed post 'plans' for each article. This is not really necessary if you're just doing stream of consciousness writing, but I had some distinct goals to achieve (guides, normal features I cover on my website.)
  • Write everything as if I was writing it 'normally' and then schedule using Blogger's schedule function. Most blog platforms have a method by which to post their material at a specific time and date. For instance, this is when this post was initially scheduled to be published the first time I used this Guide:

  • Actually 'Publish' your post. The one criticism of my Guide last time was it isn't clear this is what you need to do, and that by the act of publication you don't send the post 'live' per se, it is 'scheduled' to go live at the time you have specified.
  • Follow this up by further scheduling Tweets and Facebook posts that announce the fact that I've just published a blog post I wrote seven days ago. This is the really clever part, because in the main (unless things screw up royally, and it does happen) this will look just like I'm sitting in front of the PC and posting a Tweet and then sending the post to Facebook, the same way I do every day. This, however, will require a specific scheduling programme. If you want free and easy, I'd recommend Hootsuite. There are other social media management tools available, but I'm not here writing that kind of guide. I use this because I know the publishing industry likes it, and that's where I learnt to use it, as an intern on an online magazine.

So simple even I can manage it :D

  • Hootsuite gives you a window which works exactly like Twitter: you type in your message (maximum 140 characters) and then you tell the programme when (date/time) you'd like it to send this. To make the most of this and maximise your character limit, I'd also recommend using a link-shortening service (bitly is free and very easy) which will take what is often a very unwieldy url from your post and make it into a short link which gives you more space to type a description:

That's the May 2014 link we're using here, with the bit.ly prefix. SIMPLES.

You'll find the url of you link in your Post settings, just give it to bitly and they'll do the rest. Then you can schedule away: Hootsuite covers Facebook and Twitter, and is very simple to grasp (it must be, I managed it!) If I've done all this correctly (and trust me I'll be checking every post when it goes up via my Phone) you'll have a week's worth of uninterrupted posting and I'll be on my holidays.

Now, you have to decide whether to tell your readership or not you're not actually here.


MORAL DILEMMA TIME.

There's still a fair deal of stigma about the process of scheduling: whether the process is inherently underhand or not, whether you actually have the time to schedule to begin with, if there's any point in writing stuff if it is not current. Certainly there are pros and cons to both sides of the debate. I'm telling you all this now and hopefully showing you the process works as a demonstration that for someone like me, scheduling allows a blogger to engage and retain an audience when they're not at a computer, which when it's taken five years to get this far to begin with is quite an important factor. Of course, this is a week where there is likely to be a lot of actual proper news, so I'll be doing my best to post some 'live' commentary on the release date and anything else that might happen whilst I am away.

Perhaps the most useful advantage for scheduling posts is for the writer that's struck by a huge burst of inspiration, ends up with six posts in an evening, and then doesn't want to publish them all simultaneously. This method will allow you to be prolific and at the same time have a constant stream of posts without the need to stress about sitting down and writing every day, which I know many Bloggers find very difficult. If you use the tools available, many things are possible. Most importantly, you don't have to pay for any of them, they're all free.

There really is no better time to start considering the benefits of scheduling for your Blog :D

BETA: Everybody's Changing


I *think* that's 6.30pm CEST but I'm not *that* sure

Finally, today is the day we discover when we get Warlords.

Normally I'd be glued to a screen, all ready for reaction and shizzle, but there's an extremely good chance I'll be in Disneyland Paris at the end of a very good day's worth of Being on Holiday, and so therefore I'll be coming at this announcement later than normal. However, I do still hope that there'll be a chance later tonight for some kind of observation/comment on what you guys get to see before me, albeit brief and covered with a discernible layer of Tinkerbell Pixie Dust ^^.

Whatever we see, and whatever does transpire, it is fair to say that this has been a pretty long, hard trip to the end of the expansion.




Pandaria promised so much at its inception, and the excitement of a new race is always something a little bit special, but this Expansion has suffered from circumstance, often far beyond its own control. I know that the Pandaren have become a part of the landscape for so many players but in the end Mists won't be remembered for what it bought, but what it ultimately came to represent: change. This is the end of a difficult cycle of content release and uncertainty, of internal issues at Blizzard and external delays that mean the release date we're about to be given could be ANYWHERE between September and December, with no-one really very sure of which date to ring on their Calenders.

There are those who'll tell you it's going to be the same week as the Brady Games Ultimate Guide releases because it always has been, but what this Expansion has taught us (amongst other things) is that historical precedent isn't always a certainty.




When you look at what we were given nearly a year ago, with this trailer, there's actually very little hint of what we could expect from Draenor except a lot of battling. What is becoming apparent from my time in beta and elsewhere is that this is a very different game to Pandaria that we are being offered in pretty much every possible regard. Whereas the last cinematic reveal was low on plot I sense we're going to be served something later today that is anything but: in fact, I feel we'll be returning to the Epic nature of the events of Northrend, and that I can see the Arthas/Sindragosa Cinematic being referenced with a throwback to Orcs v Humans roots that this Expansion borrows so heavily from.

The fact this trailer's also going to be premièred in a Classic LA Theatre in front of an invited audience plus at one of the largest Games conventions in Europe says to me Blizzard are well aware of the stakes involved here, and that this reveal has to be huge, and everywhere VERY FAST.

Let's see what they can do to up the stakes for the weeks ahead, shall we?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

10 Years 10 Questions :: The Golden Age of Wireless


If you've arrived here today expecting a Podcast, this is a reminder that I'm on hiatus currently. However, I do have something a little special this morning as a bonus.


Logo Version #2 AWAY YOU GO.

Because I likes a bit of a laugh from time to time, and because my good friend Rho wanted summat a little special for his Realm Maintenance Podcast broadcast yesterday, I made the following snippet of audio for him to promote the #10Years10Questions Project with. I promised him Exclusive Rights (TM) on his show yesterday, and now that it's Wednesday I thought you guys might like to share too :D

Here is my Audio Appeal for #10Years10Questions:






If you'd like to use this audio on your Podcast or indeed your website, please feel free to snaffle it to SPREAD THE WORD :D It's very short, but I hope it is a good way of keeping interest up in the Project.

As a number of people have asked, I'll be closing the doors on submissions early in September, but I'm doing my utmost to keep up with new entries wherever they occur. That means I've copy/pasted a set of answers from someone else's blog comments page (thanks Grumpy Elf's ex GM!) and as long as you tell me where to find your answers, I will read them. I'd like to thank the various people with experience of dealing with questionnaire responses who have contacted me offering to help with processing the data too, and it's definitely something I'm now considering as the number of responses has exceeded three figures. To have well over a hundred people take part in only five days is staggering, and I hope I can keep the momentum going throughout the rest of this month.

A reminder that if you've not yet taken part you'll find a Survey Form at the top of this page. You can blog, podcast, video blog, semaphor, Morse Code or send by carrier pigeon your responses to the 10 questions you'll find on this Webpage.

I may not be here for the week, but trust me when I say to you I am listening to every response that is submitted. THANK YOU :D

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

REPOST :: Right Here, Right Now (Budget Hunter Mog)


I make mention in my #10Years10Questions post earlier of my first ever Hunter, who used to be a Dwarf but is now Human. As I am particularly proud of the Mog she's going to wear while levelling, I thought it might be an idea at this point to repost it here for your enjoyment :D


On a Budget? HO YUS.

Mogging does not need to be a hugely time-consuming process, and it certainly does not need to cost you an arm and a leg. I feel that many people are initially overwhelmed by the concept, often because they don't want to gather their own items and can't afford the prices many BoE sets are sold for on their Auction House. The thing is, if you want a set for a sub-60, it does not have to be restricted by your cashflow. Rather than deliberately grinding for items it is possible to out together some pretty decent outfits with often the minimum of effort or outlay. This outfit here, for instance? Less than 500g from my server.


Pick colours to use as linking themes between pieces.

The key, at least in my mind, to a successful outfit is using a relatively small palette of key colours or textures. In this green-based ensemble, for instance, there is some purple, brown and gold, but they are accents and not the overriding focus. I try to pick accents out from multiple pieces and repeat them: for instance, the mail in the shoulders links to the legs, the banding of the gloves sits with the waist. Remember that Dungeon Finder 'Useful Goods' bags drop potential mogging items, which are reasonably easy to obtain if you're levelling. There is also the very rich vein of Quest Reward sets, which were completely redesigned in Cataclysm, most of which work well with the BoE drops in this level range. If you'd like a visual representation of what each set offers, check out this archive post from Wow Insider. Most significantly of all, they're FREE and collectable solo whilst you level.


Not too much clutter and sympathetic textures.

I used my hunter's hair colour as the basis for this outfit, I'll freely admit, and the gun (which is at level for her currently) gave me the gold/yellow accent that I then repeated across the rest of the pieces. The chestpiece is one that would show my midriff were it not for the Bold Yellow Shirt that I've utilised for the purple vertical stripe to help tie in elements from both gun, legs and boots. If you don't have shirts as a default part of your Mogging wardrobe you really should, because many have great details and accents that can change the more scanty items into something completely different. I am aware some of you like your midriff (P had hers on show for half an expansion) but sometimes it is nice to have the choice.


Engineering Glasses. They're the BEST.

Full List of Transmog Items as Follows:


Headgear is often a major stumbling block for my mogs, which is why the Shado Pan hat for P was such a gift. Having most of my Hunters as Engineers means that there's a lovely range of glasses available for them in a decent range of colours which will sit happily as an accompaniment. Please note that because C is 52 those are actually a Leather item she's wearing: there is a comparable item from Engineering, the Truesight Ice Blinders, but she'll need Engineering at 400 to make them and L72 to wear them :P This means as soon as I get an upgrade hat, we'll be hiding our helm for a while :D

PS: This character still has her Carrot on a Stick. SO EPIC.

10 Years 10 Questions: My Life


Alrighty then... ^^

It seems only right and proper, as I am asking so many of you 10 Questions, that I come up with the goods myself. Remember, if you've not yet done so, you can fill in the Survey form here or at the top of my Blog. Anyway, without further ado, here are my


10 Years :: 10 Questions



1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?



Rubbish graphics since goodness knows when ^^


My daughter was born on March 5th, 2005. I'd spent a lot of time whilst pregnant with her brother playing Diablo and Diablo 2, and when she was born I found myself looking for something to use as a diversion between breastfeeding and sleepless nights. A friend (at the time) suggested this kickass MMO that he was playing and I decided to take a look. The rest, as they say, was History.

That friend and I fell out over a loan he gave me for my first Mount and have lost touch since. I've tried my utmost NEVER to borrow money from anyone else in game as a result. Thank you Stewart for making me learn the value of making gold in game.


2. What was the first ever character you rolled?



This is my first ever Hunter, race and name changed.

Believe it or not, it was a Druid. Teldrassil immediately annoyed me: FAR too purple and simply just not a place I felt at ease in (sort yourselves out, Druids :P) I'd spent a lot of time in Diablo standing at the back, playing an Amazon, and so this seemed like a reasonably decent fallback, and so I finally bit the bullet and rolled a Hunter. Dwarves became my first love... and frankly I've never looked back since. As an aside for reference porpoises: Pherian is my longest serving toon and I've played her since I moved from a PvP server to PvE when my husband started taking an interest in proceedings. Shadowsong/Azsune is where the majority of my characters now reside.


3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?




Ogres for Playable race! Or summat ^^

You know, this is interesting. I never considered Horde because, when I first joined the game everyone I knew was Alliance and it just made more sense. It took me a very long time to even find the Horde side on my server (I now have two 90's) but when I did it was to complete the questing side of things and not to go raid or anything like that. I am quite the loner a lot of the time, I suspect as the flipside to being a Guild Mistress for as long as I was. It was never a big deal, and in all the years I've played I've never really found the need to push the factional pride of my character. In fact, if given the choice, I'd happily declare myself Neutral and work for both sides without conscience.


4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?





Honestly, there are just too many and I can never answer this question easily. The game is packed full of stand out incidents and probably the easiest thing is to just list the lot, bullet point style. These are the ones that spring immediately to mind, that have stuck with me in 10 years and (in most cases) can be found described in one form or another in the pages of this Blog:

  • The Wrathgate Cinematic for the first time that reduced me to tears. Still does.
  • Travelling to Feathermoon Stronghold by boat.
  • The first time I saw the Caverns of Time.
  • The Guild's first Gruul kill.
  • Farming Badlands for Elemental Earth with my mate Duncan.
  • AQ20 with a full Guild Group for the first time.
  • Finally killing Arthas.
  • Weaning myself off the arrow keys for character movement.
  • The Scepter of the Shifting Sands questline (see above.)
  • Keeping a Guild together though four Expansions.
  • Getting Loremaster *the first time*
  • My first six hour Alterac Valley.
  • Seeing the inside of Blackwing Lair when it was current.
  • 200 Mounts.
  • Learning how to Joust properly.
  • Hitting half a million page views with my Warcraft Blog.

I could list tons more, that's the thing about this game. I can't reduce it to a simple moment of awesome. It is a constant journey with new challenges and adventures to discover with every new day. So, expect this list to just keep on growing.


5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?



SHINY AND NEW!

I love to faff, I really do: just muck about with things, play about in the World: farm, grind, Achieve, collect stuff, find Battle Pets, Raid, PvP, fish... you name it, I will have done it at one point or another and the understanding now is implicit: it doesn't matter what it is, just as long as I can do it at my own pace and in my own way. That's the fabulous thing about Warcraft to begin with. I've done pressure and competitive. I've pushed for progress kills. I've competed against other people and frankly it makes me feel sad and a bit dirty that being first is such a big issue in this game, that there is even the need to stand and shake your achievements at others and that this makes you somehow better than others.

So, what I do now is try and be a good role model, and nothing else.

In the end, I *always* come back to the faff :D


6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?





Feathermoon is where I'll finally log off when the servers go down for the last time.


7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?




That's Pherian's /played. Please don't ask about anyone else's ^^


8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?






Not only do I read it, I write blog posts about it ^^ WEST WING REFERENCE FTW.


9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?





Oh Elune's Handbag, where do I start?

To all the people I pissed off as GM: it wasn't a power trip or a way to make me feel superior, I really just did what I thought was best. I didn't deliberately ignore you though a ton of you were, really and truthfully, utterly thoughtless, selfish bastards. The guy who thought I had a mental disorder because I failed to take you on a raid? You're on your own there, pal (as is your missus.) To the original GM who founded our Guild as a way to meet the opposite sex and finally married someone he met in just that way: I hope you're happy now but really, that's no foundation for anything in the Real World. I'm glad you finally went and did the right thing, as living inside a game really isn't a substitute for an actual life.

But this game isn't all about regrets, let's be honest, and I feel I ought to stick the positive in with the negative because, in all things, it is about the balance.

Yes, I also learnt that gaming is not a substitute for a life, but not the hard way. The game was a liberation and a first step on a better path. It also utterly sucks as therapy.

To Mr Alt for being a constant source of inspiration, and the kids for making me realise I didn't totally screw everything up.

To Duncan, and Rob, to Andy and Zoe and Tams and Zuz and Magnus, to Peri and his long suffering missus, to Lindsay and her incredible design skills, to Ferry and Kinga for coming back, to Gen and his leet goldmaking skillz, to Erin and Lyli, to the Girls Gone Wow team, the Bears, Mr and Mrs Mups, Norl and Doxy and Issy and everyone else... thank you for being decent about everything. I *really* appreciate it.

To J and V: I'm really sorry, but I've always just done what I thought was right. That's all I can say.

I miss Elene a lot, and all the other good people I lost touch with over the years. I said hello to Icefang as well, just the other day, he's back on the Server after all these years. I never forget how rude Chonar was to me either, because those impressions matter. In the end, I remember a great deal of good and bad things over the last decade, because that is how a life is measured.

This has been a very interesting online life indeed, and to answer the question: I have as many regrets as high points, but I choose just to remember the latter, because life is far more fun that way.


10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?



No, REALLY... ^^

Go read the last five years worth of posts. Look me up on Twitter. As how many other people are part of #TEAMFAFF. Check out the responses to this Survey, and then go listen to this song, because there's one word that describes the effect this game has had on me outside of logging on, and that's Joy.







To every single person who touches me and continues to do so and makes this not about pixels and more about flesh and blood:

THANK YOU.

Monday, August 11, 2014

This Week, I Will Be Mostly :: Away We Go


MANY RESPONSES HANDLE IT :D

Remind me next time I'm going away on Holiday not to launch anything major the weekend before :D

Those of you paying attention will know I intend to be partially AFK this week, which it transpires is likely to be one of the busiest in Warcraft's recent memory (looks at Thursday approvingly.) Needless to say, I am prepared (mostly) and although I won't see the Cinematic 'live' with you all I will be online when time and family allow. I also thought I should probably give you an idea of what you can expect as entertainment in my absence.

Not bored yet? GOOD :D

For those of you not yet sick to death of the Podcast Survey, I'll be providing you my answers tomorrow morning, plus a special Audio surprise on Wednesday, which if you can't wait may be making an appearance somewhere else first :D However, I'm going to be utterly honest and upfront with you guys now: there's about to be a fair amount of 'recycled' content up until a week today. It works for big sites, and I thought if I make no bones about what I'm doing you guys will understand. That means you'll see a repost of some Mogs Wot I Love, my guide to Scheduling (which seems fairly relevant under the circumstances)  and a couple of posts that kept everyone talking from earlier in the year. More importantly I'm re-airing two of my most important Guides to getting your arse in gear for the Expansion, because you know ACTUAL RELEASE DATE THURSDAY :D

If you follow me on Twitter, I apologise in advance for lame gags about the game interspersed with Holiday snaps from about Tuesday lunchtime onwards. To everyone else, keep answering those Questions, and I'll see you back here in a week :D

Sunday, August 10, 2014

10 Years 10 Questions :: Blown Away


You Guys :O


The last two days, I'll happily admit, have been like I've become someone else.

When I began this project on Friday I'd assumed I'd pick up a couple of dozen responses and that would be it. Never in my wildest dreams did I consider people would do You Tube answers, that they'd actually start websites to post their thoughts and ideas, that my Crappy Google Docs form would get as many uses as it has. I never thought I'd have a member of the Yogscast retweet my appeal either: these are amazing times we live in, and I thought it might be an idea for my sanity as well as your entertainment to this morning collate as many Blog post responses to the Survey as possible in one place. It'll make my life easier when I'm collating for research and you guys can read all the responses in one place.

[EDIT AUGUST 24th: I've been attempting to keep up with new posts, if you don't see your Blog on this list please gimme a poke in the comments!]

Here, therefore is my MASTER LIST (in no particular order) of  Responses to the #10Years10Questions Survey:


Blog Posts:

Audio Responses:

Video Responses:












As of August 19th, there is also a Reddit thread on Reddit/r/wow with 400 responses and climbing, which I'll also be looking at when I compile my results.




This list will be added to by me whenever a new answer appears (or I'm alerted to one.)

Needless to say, I need AS MANY RESPONSES AS POSSIBLE so I'm going to push this a bit next week (even though I'm away) to make sure I can keep the momentum going throughout August. If you're willing to help me, here's how you can.

  • USE THE #10Years10Questions Hashtag on Twitter
  • Ask ex-players to answer the Survey (because their responses matter too)
  • Do a Blog Post yourself and get added to the list!
  • Find an original way to get your 10 Answers to me!

THANK YOU AGAIN for taking part in this Survey: every answer matters, and I am incredibly grateful for every person who take the time to take part :D