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“Is WoW the WoW-killer?” or “Goliath’s Fall”

September 27, 2012 5 comments

In November, World of Warcraft will celebrate its 8th anniversary. It would have been eight years since we walked, awestruck, through the frozen tundra of Dun Morogh, and the bleak terrain of the Barrens. Spawning endless memes, giving birth to a new revolution in the MMO industry, defining and redefining what an MMO could be, WoW continued to climb in both popularity and subscription numbers for nearly seven years.

Shortly after the release of Cataclysm however, there was a decline. Wired magazine’s Game|Life has a very strong argument for why World of Warcraft has lost its cool, and how evidence suggests that the Goliath in the MMO world may be the cause for its own undoing. Many reasons are cited, from aging technology and a subscription model that audiences no longer connect with in a post-F2P world, to a decline in the mental maturity of the general player base.

It is worth a read, take a look.

Personally I think they need to innovate beyond better looking dungeons, world events and pet battles. The new expansion has a lot of cool features, but it seems to me these features were implemented begrudgingly, only after other MMOs beat them to the chase. For example, in WoW, pre-MoP, you would need to loot everything manually, which was a major time-sink for players of the farming persuasion. SW:TOR came out with AoE looting, and weeks later it was announced as a feature for MoP. Lame.

I think WoW needs to make a big, bold change, and soon. Or Goliath won’t need a David to fall.

“Blizzard Bans Iranian Players” or “Here is a Question Blue”

August 30, 2012 2 comments

Via Joystiq, Blizzard confirms that players in Iran have been denied access to Blizzard servers to play any of their games. This is allegedly part of a larger strategy to make the company, based in the US, more compliant with US laws and regulations. The US currently imposes various economic and political sanctions on Iran because of its controversial nuclear program. As such, Blizzard is refraining from engaging in any trade or economic activity with residents of the country.

Can you imagine how many WoW players just put their fists through their monitors?

This is probably  smart move, but there is a part that really annoyed me. Big Blue is unable to provide “refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts”. For a company that made a hundred billion and stupid thousand dollars from its games, it seems strange to me that it was OK to take money from people when they were buying your games. Was that not engaging in economic trade with Iran and its residents? If that too was wrong, shouldn’t you return said money? Note that I am not trying to support the dickhead regime that believes the holocaust didn’t happen, just saying it isn’t really the players’ fault.

“Mists of Pandaria Release Date” or “Pandas Are No Longer Extinct”

July 26, 2012 2 comments

On September 25th, 2012, Pandas will invade and the world will forever remember the day the near-extinct species rose out out of the fog, and invaded the world of mortals.

In other words, Mists of Pandaria will be out.

Will I get it?

I don’t know. I am pretty occupied with life at the moment, and the very limited time I have is consumed by the likes of DayZ. Then of course, I have to consider trying The Secret World, a title that I have been rabidly excited for, but have not invested in simply because I have no time. I suppose only time will tell!

“Mists of Pandaria Beta” or “Jelly?”

June 11, 2012 Leave a comment

“OpenRaiding to Achievement Heaven” or “The Greatest Idea Since Sliced Bread”

April 15, 2012 Leave a comment

"I don't know any of you, but I love you all!"

I have mentioned a few times about OpenRaid. It is a project that was started to use the RealID idea to its fullest potential. Once you are registered on the website, you can opt to share your real ID email. Like most factions in WoW, you start at neutral reputation with the website (faction). Then you can browse through the monstrous log of raids that players like yourself put up on a daily basis. The only think you cannot do with RealID people is Dragon Soul on Normal or Heroic (LFR is still game… though why would you want to).

There are literally raids for everything. People are raiding Vanilla and TBC content (I know it is solo-able but more fun with a few people). I myself will wrap up all of my Wrath of the Lich king achievements in the 25-player version later tonight by killing the Lich King on heroic mode. There are a ton of raids for Cataclysm content with groups attempting heroic modes, achievements and transmorg farming runs for tier 12 and below. The site also has a comprehensive search system so you can find your own raids. There are even PvP premade groups. I ran Battle for Gilneas and got the perfection achievement (2000-0 score) just last night. You can even form up your own raid for people to sign-up for from day one.

Once you are registered and have shared your RealID details, you can sign-up for the raid and detail your availability (maybe coming or coming), and the raidleaders can then choose which people to take with the. They can even designate assists to allow trusted people to help them manage said raid. They even provide a massive Ventrilo server for free for people who want to coordinate better via voice chat.

I can go on and on about the site’s features and usefulness, but suffice it to say, OpenRaid allows you to raid all content just below the current tier, even if your guild does not, and even if you are not part of a large organized guild. It is an invaluable tool, one that already has over 20,000+ users, and you should get on board while you can!

Categories: Real ID, World of Warcraft

“Google Maps for WoW” or “Someone Went a Tad Nuts With the Colors Palette”

April 12, 2012 5 comments

Via Kotaku, this is what Azeroth looks like from the top-down!

Categories: World of Warcraft

“Nonsensical Nerf of the Day” or “That Ain’t a Stampede”

April 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Via, MMO-Champion, I came across the following change to the new Hunter Stampede ability.

Stampede – Now has a 10 min cooldown, up from 30 sec.

So the cooldown has gone from 30 seconds, to 600 seconds, 20 times the amount! What the hell is going on in this beta? Did some poor monk get steamrolled by three hunters and their stampede of 15-odd pets, and threaten to light himself on fire in front of Blizzard Headquarters if the ability wasn’t drastically nerfed? Sheesh!

MoP Floodgates pt. 4: “Guild Perk Changes” or “You Will Take it And You Will Like It”

April 10, 2012 1 comment

The level 21 guild perk, Have Group, Will Travel was a huge blessing. But with cross-realm raiding, this has an even greater impact that usual.

As someone who regularly runs raids through the fantastic OpenRaid.eu website (I am on there as Jehangir), this little perk is fantastic because you have people from potentially 25 different servers coming together in a raid instance to get some achievements, transmorg gear and have some fun. MoP is removing this perk altogether, meaning every raid member will have to fly to the instance manually.

Blizzard stated that their reason for doing so was because they wanted players to get out in the world and interact with it and each other. This clearly does not apply to cross-realm raids. In addition, the meeting stones (unless moved inside the instance) are useless because you cannot summon someone from another realm to your realm’s outdoor environment. The only other viable option then, is to ensure you always have a Warlock, so you can get going as soon as people are summoned.

The perk that replaces Have Group, Will Travel is called Ride Like the Wind, which increases your flight path speed by an unknown amount. Now understand that this is flight path speed, not flight speed, which means that after getting your flying mount at the level cap in MoP, unless you are an alt leveling, this perk will be largely useless to you.

There is another change that I came across. Chug-A-Lug has been replaced by The Doctor is In. Chug-A-Lug effectively cut your flasks costs in half. The new perk will help a little sure, but it is highly situational and not as uniform an advantage in a competitive raid. On the plus side though, the new perk will likely help boost cloth sales and prices. But then again, the supply demand curve could actually screw sellers as well.

MoP Floodgates pt. 3: “AoE Loot” or “It Only Took 8 Years!”

March 25, 2012 2 comments

I know this information is at least a few days old, but this is a feature that was log overdue in World of Warcraft. You can now AoE down a very large number of mobs (think, for example, TK trash, and loot just one body to loot everything around it as well. It is unclear what the yard range is for this, but even if it is a small radius, I am not complaining, because this is fantastic!

The link is from the MMO-Champion video. Enjoy!

Categories: World of Warcraft

MoP Floodgates pt. 2: “Hodge Podge” or “Maybe, Maybe Not” or “What Got Cut From Launch”

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Click to enlarge

"The hell do you mean 'The rum's gone'"?

Hodge Podge

Here are some random new pieces of information on the upcoming expansion:

  • Humans and Orcs are slated to receive updated character models next
  • Pandaren may have a “dragon turtle” mount
  • There are 8 core buffs, and they will be shown as a number on your UI (e.g. 5/8), with information on which ones are missing
  • Character customization has been revamped, and if you have played the Diablo Beta, you will be right at home with it
  • The giant statue in Jade Forest will be destroyed as a direct result of the Horde-Alliance war
  • Guild experience caps will be removed
  • Here is an interesting statistic, during The Burning Crusade, less than 1% of the player base saw the Sunwell raid
  • We could see content patches every two months, since raid tiers are “supposed” to last four months, with smaller content patches in between
  • World bosses are back, with Anger in Kun-Lai Summit and Fear in the Dread Wastes
  • World bosses will have unique mounts in their loot tables
  • “The new LFR loot system will grant a bonus roll when you have an item purchased from one of the Pandaren factions. These tokens can also be used to purchase the normal epic gear that is usually associated with factions. This extra roll works in all three difficulty levels. If you win a roll in LFR and the boss has no item for you, you will get gold instead.”
  • Quests of all difficulty levels above (and including green) will give a flat amount of guild experience, allowing lower level players to contribute to guild leveling

Hodge Podge Analysis

Most of this actually sounds fine. I have always been a fan of world bosses, so that is a plus point in my book. The buff management system also seems intuitive. Instead of looking through 25 odd buffs to see if you are missing anything or using addon help, one glance will tell you which critical buffs are missing.

More content is a double-edged sword though. Putting out content faster implies Blizzard may not have enough time to polish everything properly. Let’s take a look at some silly and largely meaningless statistics for number of raid encounters in each expansion:

  • Vanilla WoW – MC (10), BWL (8), AQ40 (9), AQ20 (6), ZG (6), Naxx (16) = 55 Total
  • The Burning Crusade – Karazhan (10), Gruul (2), Mag (1), SSC (6), TK (4), ZA (6), Hyjal (5), BT (9), Sunwell (6) = 50 Total
  • Wrath of the Lich King – Naxx (16), OS (1), Eye (1), Ulduar (14), TotGC (5), Ony (1), ICC (12), VoA (4), RS (1), = 55 Total
  • Cataclysm – BoT (5), BWD (6), TotFW (2), Firelands (7), DS (8), BH (3) = 31 Total

I know they also (re)released the Troll instances, and create three solid instances leading up to the Deathwing conflict, but they added more instances to the previous expansions as well.

My point is that we are getting much lesser content at the end game with Cataclysm. One could say that the 1-60 new player experience revamp may have taken a chunk out of this, but I fear that with bi-monthly patches,  we may be getting more content patches, but lesser content in them.

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"It may look like a cyclone, but that is a monk's fart."

Maybe, Maybe Not

Some features are still up in the air. They are either under debate, or they will be implemented shortly after launch.

  • Titles, if made account-wide, will be available on other characters only after you reach the level where you earned it
  • Mounts will be account wide, and this will happen shortly after launch, if not right at launch
  • There might be another Troll dungeon, bringing the number to four, after Zul’Farrak, Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman. It will be called Zul’Panda. I made that last one up.
  • The 10-man and 25-man shared lockout may be revisited.
  • A third battleground, which didn’t make the cut, is modeled after DOTA
  • Pet battles may come to WoW-Remote
  • Visible librams and quivers may not be implemented by launch

Maybe, Maybe Not Analysis

Account-wide titles and mounts are a no-brainer. I know MMOs are very much married to the grind, but if you have put in a significant chunk of time to obtain something rare on one character, it is just cruel to force you to start the grind again on a new character.

The 10-man and 25-man shared lockout is a tricky subject. As much as people moan and bitch about how this is taking away loot opportunities from them, two facts will always work against the reversal of this decision. First, it would imply that larger guilds would have their work effectively tripled, with the 25-team splintering into two 10-mans, or three 10-mans (with reserves/alts), every week, and therefore put a lot of pressure on players that have grown accustomed to one lock-out. Second, it would be ridiculously unfair to small guilds that only (can) run 10-man content, as they will miss out on nearly 5 times the amount of loot they could get their hands on, if they were a 25-man guild.

The DOTA battleground got cut from launch, but apparently it will still make its debut in Mists. I am very excited about that!

Visible quivers might be cool for (cross)bows. But what about guns? Do we get an ammo pouch? Or perhaps a criss-crossing bullet vest?!

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"We have decided to reuse the opening set from Inception."

What Got Cut

Some things got cut:

  • There will be no Tri-Spec
  • Monks will have an auto-attack, the previous plan was to only have specialized attacks

What Got Cut Analysis

Tri-spec would have been nice, but it is not a game-breaker. No auto-attack really would have made monks unique. Oh well!

More posts on the way, stay tuned!

MoP Floodgates pt. 1: “Pandaria Map” or “PvP = Panda vs. Panda”

March 19, 2012 5 comments

The NDA for the press tour was lifted today, so the information floodgates have overrun the tubes (of the internet). This series of posts is not an attempt to rehash the information, but simply to give you my take on it. If you want comprehensive, in-depth coverage, go to WoWHead, which has compiled a very nice comprehensive list on a single page here. Or you can the list of Wow Insider posts on the event put together by good old Syp (Justin Olivetti) here.

Pandaria Map

First up, here is a map of Pandaria:

Click to enlarge

There are a few things you should be excited about in this map. For one thing, there are two new entire zones, the Dread Wastes and the Krasarang Wilds. This change occurred because the team designing the content fell in love with these sub-areas of larger zones, and decided to flesh them out into their own complete locations. Second, as was the case with Outlands and Northrend, the entire story takes place on one collected content, and thus avoids the insanity of the chaos brought about by Cataclysm’s disconnected zones.

PvP = Panda vs. Panda

Pandas can be Horde or Alliance, depending on if they go with the Houjin or Tushui disciplines. This may sound confusing, but really, these cool lore elements are there to manage the faction titling of the Pandaren race. The Horde Panda will be called Houjin and Alliance Pandas will be called Tushui.

But that is not the point of this sub-title. There are three reasons I am excited for PvP in MoP:

  1. There are world objectives, like Tol Barad and Winterspring, but with a twist. Whichever faction holds the world objectives has their conquest point cap raised. If that is not incentive to constantly hold the world PvP conflict zones, I don’t know what is.
  2. There are two battlegrounds. The first is very similar to Murderball, where you hold an object of power found in the center of the map. the longer you hold it, the more points you get, but the object also damages you with increasing severity over time, andwill eventually kill you. The object will then drop for either side to pick up. It might sound like a good plan to drag the carrying player closer to your graveyard, but there is a twist. The close you are to the center, the faster the points will accrue. So you have to weigh the onslaught of the enemy against more frequent respite closer top your graveyard.
  3. The second battleground is my third reason. For anyone who has played the minecart escort maps from TF2, this should be very familiar. You have to escort your mine cart along a set path, and the cart only moves if players from your team are near it. However, again, there is a twist. Players escorting will have a good reason to not be next to the cart. Opposing team can flip switches throughout the map, adding length to the route you take, and thus slowing you down. It is in your best interest to stop them from doing so.

So far so good. I know a lot of people, especially ex-WoW players are pointing their fingers and laughing at the lolPandas, but so far I am quite impressed with everything seen during the press tour. More posts to follow, stay tuned!

Played Lately: “OpenRaiding” or “Reapers”

March 12, 2012 8 comments

I have been a little sick the last few weeks, and there has been a major regime change at work that has thrown a figurative monkey-wrench into everything work-related. This is not to say I haven’t been playing (or enjoying) video games, it simply means I have been severely pressed for time to write about them.

Mists of Pandaria Blues

World of Warcraft shambles on towards the new expansion. I say shambles not because the subscriptions numbers are struggling, because despite losing millions of subscribers, Blizzard still retains 10 million + players. I say shambles because the expansion blues have set in. Members of the guild have been logging fewer hours each day, and despite fairly decent success with Dragon Soul (1/8 HC for a PuG guild ain’t bad), fewer and fewer show up for raids, rBGs and group-play. I realized that my playtime had rapidly dwindled because aside from the aforementioned two activities, I did little else. So I decided to set a few (un)realistic goals for myself.

  • 1 million gold: I have crossed the 100K gold mark in the game, so the AH profiteering is going well. I don’t think I will hit a cool million before the expansion, but that is largely due to the fact that Agamaggan is a dead server. On reset day, at peak hour, it took a pug nearly two hours to put together a BH-25 from trade chat. That is just sad.
  • 50 Exalted Reputations: I think I will easily hit this benchmark before the expansion. I have been using a great resource to figure out what to do for each rep grind for the various faction spread out across the original game and it’s four expansions. The website is Wow JuJu, and their reputation calculator is phenomenal. I have 31 exalted reputations at the moment, and I should hit exalted with the Netherwing faction tonight. So 18 more shouldn’t be much of an issue. My guess is that we won’t see Mists of Pandaria before the (beginning of the) end of summer.
  • Mountain of Mounts: Getting 100 mounts in the game is a lot easier today than it was 2 expansions ago. I have 68 so far, and with minimal effort, it would seem. Here is a pro-tip for people trying to do this achievement. Go to your official armory page (mine is here). Click on “Companions and Mounts” in the menu on the left-hand side. Click on the mounts tabs up top. Click on Not Collected. On the top-right, beneath the Filter search box, click Show Advanced Filters. You can now sort mounts by vendor, quest, profession, drop etc. You can do the same on the companions tab.
  • Transmorgificate: Transmorgification is great not only in that it allows you to customize your character’s look, but also in that it has made old raids relevant again. Vanilla and The Burning Crusade raids are simple because my current gear vastly overpowers the encounters. However, Wrath of the Lich King (and, obviously, Cataclysm) is a different story altogether. I can’t run that with 1-2 friends in 25-player mode, and I certainly cannot run Tier 11 (Bastion of Twilight, Throne of the Four Winds, Blackwing Descent) or Tier 12 (Firelands) without help. This is where the titular “OpenRaiding” concept comes into play.
  • OpenRaiding: OpenRaid is a relatively new website that allows you to raid via Real ID. You don’t have to bark in trade chat for hours to get a team together (god knows that is a pain in the ass on a low population server), simply log into OpenRaid, post up a raid that you want to run, the time and date, the group composition you want and people sign up for it. Once they are signed up, you are given access to their RealID information. Add them, toss them an in-game invite and go raid! I have run close to 20 raids so far in the last two weeks, and so far it has been a massive help in getting things accomplished that we otherwise wouldn’t. Just two days ago, I joined a team that was hunting the harder achievements in 40-man raids (such as The Alterac Blitz, or Stormpike Perfection), and we got both during our playtime together, in addition to Mine in Isle of Conquest. If you are not on there yet, I highly recommend it. The ONLY thing you can’t raid with it, is Dragon Soul on Normal or Heroic. You can raid Dragon Soul in LFR mode, although I have seen no groups for it (for what some might call obvious reasons). I have one raid coming up tonight if you with to join, it is a rap/transmorg run of all TBC raids. You can find it here.
  • Primary Professions: My main, Jehangir, has Engineering and Blacksmithing maxed out. However, I desperately need a few other professions in order to fully capitalize on the market. I am leveling a Paladin (my first love), with Mining and Jewelcrafting. The mining part is primarily because it is a pain to find a smelter and most ore is half the price of its equivalent number of bars in the AH, which is more than a little ridiculous. I am also leveling a mage with Tailoring and Alchemy. I still need a Leatherworker. Inscription can bite me.

Taking Earth Back

Taking back earth is accomplished in Mass Effect 3, oddly, by spending the least amount of time on Earth. I am only about 5 hours into the story, and if my experience and the rave critic reviews are any indication, I am in for a hell of a ride. My favorite aspect of the game should be the combat, as it is an improved, visceral and brutal affair, but what I am truly impressed by is the music score. Mass Effect 3 has amazing music throughout, and it has an uncanny ability to tug at the emotional strings of my psyche. I have been playing Commander Shepard for (going on) five years now. This story feels personal, it feels real, and the threat palpable.

Of course they can’t get everything right, because today I came across this sad piece of news from an otherwise positive review:

In singleplayer, everything you do accumulates ‘war assets’. When you finish the game, how many of these you have determines how good an ending you get: how well the final fight goes for your side. Success in co-op multiplies your war assets, up to twice their normal value. That means that if you only play singleplayer, or want to finish singleplayer first, you’ll have to grind the living hell out of its most tedious fetch quests to get the best ending. – PC Gamer, Mass Effect 3 Review

Balls.

“Baron Geddon Bomb” or “The Great Plague of Zul’Gurub”

February 2, 2012 Leave a comment

I was just having a discussion about how some of the greater developers in the world cannot counter a massive player-base always looking for new and creative ways to enjoy the game. Even at the expense of others. Two examples were particularly significant in this regard, and since my peer was a player since the vanilla days, he too had stories of the following two horrors.

Baron Geddon Bomb

Baron Geddon was the fifth boss in Molten Core, sixth if you were feeling particularly adventurous, and decided to pull Shazzrah before Geddon. Geddon had a particularly disruptive ability called “Living Bomb“, which would attach a bomb to a random player and explode him for massive damage (by vanilla standards) to him and nearby allies. This was the number one cause of wipes on Baron Geddon, aside from the constant AoE that required your tanks to be in FR gear. The problem was that this ability could also target pets, particularly warlock pets. It takes eight seconds between the ability being applied to a target and the target exploding. A warlock could dismiss his or her pet in two seconds.

Do I really need to explain this any further? I do. Alright, watch the video below:

 

As you can see, this was a source for immense enjoyment for certain nefarious individuals that particularly revel in the plight and misery of others. Do you have any stories of the Baron Geddon Bombs?

The Great Plague of Zul’Gurub

Regardless of when you started playing World of Warcraft, this is one story that would be hard to miss. Hell, even the BBC did a story on it. The newly launched Zul’Gurub instance was 20-man zone that pit you against the Blood-God Hakkar and his various minions and disciples. The fight with Hakkar was, by today’s post-dance-dance-central WoW, a fairly straight-forward affair. During the fight Hakkar applied a debuff called “Corrupted Blood” that had a 100% transmission rate to nearby allies and did periodic damage. The debuff would wear off, but since it transferred to nearby allies with each tick, two players standing in close proximity could juggle the plague indefinitely. Now imagine, instead of two players, there were a hundred players. In a major capital city.

Do I need to show you a video for this one as well? Fine!

 

Needless to say the plague was debilitating, with the casualties in the several thousands on the servers where the plague took root. Blizzard had to shut down some servers to get rid of the epidemic. In fact, in 2007, Ran D Balicer, an epidemiologist physician at the Ben-Gurion University in Israel, published an article in the journal Epidemiology describing the similarities between this outbreak and the recent SARS and avian influenza outbreaks.

Can anyone think of other example from WoW or other MMOs? Those are the examples that immediately came to mind.

Categories: World of Warcraft

“Hump Day Randomness” or “A Central Theme be Damned!”

February 1, 2012 Leave a comment

I had quite a few ideas for a post today. but as I cleared out my Google Reader for the day, things kept popping up that I wanted to talk about. Eventually I decided I should just make a crock-pot, hodge-podge post that is equal parts random and lacking a clear focal point.

RIFT is going F2P

Well, sort of. They are doing essentially what WoW did. RIFT will be free to play up to level 20. You can access the capital cities, several zones and play on any server, and there is no time-limit cap. I played RIFT beta in a limited capacity. I have always been fascinated by what I read about the game from other bloggers, but I never felt an adequate amount of compulsion to go out and purchase the game to figure out if I like it. This simplifies that. I can simply try the game, and it’s various classes, and see if this is something I see myself playing long-term.

Analyst Predicts Elder Scrolls 6

As a journalist IRL, sometimes I can’t help but wonder why people choose to publish such content as “news worthy stories”. The title of the story is all the new information you need. The rest of it is either a backgrounder or a filler. Not to mention the fact that this is stating the obvious. It would be like me predicting that the sun would rise tomorrow over Europe. Or that Peter Molyneux’s next game will be another over-hyped letdown. Or that despite the “WTF Pokemon?” camp, people will return to WoW in droves come patch 5.0. Seriously. Stop that. You are wasting your time, and mine. And I got nothing of any significant worth from the story.

Well actually it did lead to the creation of this section of this post.

But that’s it!

Markco got Banned from D3 Beta

This was ridiculous. Markco has reigned supreme on the gold-making strategy throne for quite some time. He shifted his focus from gold-making in WoW to gold-making in D3, but with disastrous results. His strategies started netting him in the excess of 11,000 gold an hour, while operating perfectly within the confines and mechanics of the game. However, it seems that making too much gold can be labeled “exploitative”. No offense Blue, but if you think making too much gold by using in-game mechanics, that are available to every player, is exploitative, than perhaps you shouldn’t have introduced RMT for digital items in the same title.

Why we Need More Fights Like Ultraxion

I recently started reading posts from The Grumpy Elf, who looks suspiciously like a Worg. He recently put up ten reasons why we need more “pure DPS, less dance” fights like Ultraxion. It is a pleasure to read, and gives you some perspective on why fights like Ultraxion can actually be good for you, your guild and the WoW community at large.

“Power-Leveling Professions” or “Money is Time, Friend”

January 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Power-Leveling Professions

A lot of gold making blogs out there will tell you to capitalize on the need for this generation of instant gratification to get what they want with minimal effort, even if the path they takes ends up costing them a lot more than the fair market price of the item. Examples include buying rare companion pets from from vendors in Netherstorm, and selling them for 200-400% their normal price, or buying that rare recipe that spawns once every half hour on that vendor, and auctioning it for 10 times the normal price. This makes sense to me. There is gold to be made at the expense of other people’s laziness, and their unwillingness to put in some extra effort that will save them currency in the long-term.

But then there are those times when I power-level my professions, irrespective of the cost of materials, because for me, hitting the profession level cap is far more important than saving the few thousand gold I will save by farming the materials myself. And therein lies the tradeoff. I make a lot of gold at the auction house, I am very good at it. Even in the inflated market of Cataclysm, I can net between 7-10K from the AH on a weekly basis, so money is no object to me in-game. As such, if I have a choice between spending that money that is just lying around, or investing hours upon hours, flying around, tapping nodes for those precious minerals one pickaxe-striking-node-animation at a time, I will always go for the former.

Am I a Lazy Gamer?

Does that make me lazy? I am generally not a lazy person, and given my nearly masochistic impulsion to pursue the most mentally debilitating of achievements in-game, I am certainly not a lazy gamer. When I started raiding on the new toon, my DPS was just about the tanks. This wasn’t acceptable to me. So I read up online, I theory-crafted, I painstakingly tweaked each and every little statistic, and gemmed, enchanted and reforged my heart out. I am now in the top four DPS’ers in the raid. Most importantly, I am not a lazy person in life.

The point I am trying to make is fairly pedestrian in nature: just because someone is buying your good at several times the market price may not be because they are lazy or ill-informed. It may simply be because they value their time over their money, because the ratio for the sheer amount of time invested farming, just to save those precious few thousand gold coins simply does not make sense to them. The process still ended up taking over two hours to get from skill 197 to 423, where I called it a night because I was moments away from a nosebleed! If I had to gather, say, the 320 units of Cobalt Ore alone, I could have spent somewhere between 5-10 hours farming. And that only got me skill points between 350 and 415. As far as I am concerned, paying 2-3 times the average market value for said ore, for me, is well worth the investment.

As someone who has played the auction house to his advantage since the game was in its infant stages, this is the first time I have gone all out, and spent “whatever it takes” amounts of in-game currency to power-level my professions, effectively filling the pockets of enterprising auction-house entrepreneurs. I have to admit, it feels pretty good to have enough gold to be able to blaze right past the arduous farming lane, and onto the endgame of a given profession, because let’s face it. The game is designed so you benefit (both personally and financially) when your profession is at the max-level, and not by selling copper scale pants all day. It is an interesting new perspective, one that gives me cause for pause (that should be a meme) and reevaluate how I view the market.

And then the goblin in me rears his green head, and asks, how can we use this new revelation to our advantage!

Se7en of my Greatest Vanilla WoW Memories, Part II: “Molten Core… For a Price” or “The Beginning of the Qiraji Conflict”

January 26, 2012 13 comments

Note 1: This is a shout out to the old-school. You know who you are. :D

Note 2: Part I can be found here. It contains our adventures with Lucifron and Ragnaros in The Molten Core. And our run-ins with the World Bosses. This is a 3-part series.

Molten Core… For a Price

Around the time that the Ahn’Qiraj patch announced, we decided for a multitude of reasons to switch servers. Bloodhoof was severely over-populated, and Blizzard has just initiated free transfers to a new server: Eitrigg. The move itself was fairly drama-free, with over 95% of the guild deciding to move together. We were sick of the server, and this one bully guild that trolled the hell out of everyone on the server. I am not denying that they were the top-ranked guild, and well-organized. I am just saying you don’t have to be an absolute dick about it.

So we transferred, and with us transferred two other Alliance guilds that we had close working relationships with, Harbingers of Death (HoD) and MUSA. I had forged a stable and mutually beneficial partnership with the leaders of both guilds and we shared resources and participated in World Boss kills together on occasion. For example, if they got legendary pieces, we would let them borrow Elementium Ore on faith, and vice versa.

The Ahn’Qiraj patch was still a few weeks out, and that was problematic because we had started to get a little tired of farming Molten Core and Blackwing Lair. With interest quickly waning in the two raid instances, I got my team of officers together for some brainstorming about how to keep the raiding game alive long enough to go at Ahn’Qiraj with the proper numbers. That week, a member of HoD asked me if their alt could tag along in our Molten Core run. He had been away that week, and had missed their own guild’s Molten Core run. 60-70% of the drop were getting disenchanted in the Molten Core anyway, so after consulting with the officers, I decided to let him. This individual offered 1K gold if his item dropped in the Core. The item dropped, the 1K gold was split between the 28 or so people that were present for the raid, and that gave me an idea.

The following day I made a post on the server forums saying that our guild would be running Molten Core and Blackwing Lair to help gear up players and their alts for a price. All they would have to do was show up, and we would farm the gear for them for a certain price. I set up an auction system, where they had until an hour before the raid to bid on items that were not needed by the guild. I would consider all bids before 6 pm server time, make a list of all the individuals with top bids that we would need to take with us, and enter the Core promptly at 7 pm.

That first week, we made nearly 7K from the Molten Core alone, and 7K gold in vanilla WoW days was an incredible amount of in-game doubloons. This led to BWL farm raids as well, and before I knew it, the guild’s raiders crawled back out of their hiding places, and we had full 40-man teams clearing the Molten Core and Blackwing Lair on a weekly basis until Patch 1.9: The Gates of Ahn’Qiraj.

The Beginning of the Qiraji Conflict

*How I Met Your Mother impersonation*: Kids, in the winter of 2006, Patch 1.9 finally hit, and all manner of pissed off Qiraji warriors started pouring out of the Gates of Ahn’Qiraj and infecting Azeroth. This was a great event for many reasons, poor implementation and unforeseen server crashes notwithstanding. First, the guild was hungry for new content; little did they know that the content would kick their ass into oblivion, but hey, at last we had something new and interesting to do. Second, the opening of the gates was an epic event. There were cross-continent quests, feats that needed to be completed in large numbers, and an invasion of Silithus and adjoining areas by innumerable Qiraji and their allies for us to fight off.

The quest involved building the Scepter of the Sifting Sands, which in turn required tracking down the Red, Blue and Green shards (each with their own quest lines). This scepter was then used to bang a gong outside the gates, triggering a 10-hour event. And this was the easy part.

The tough part was gathering the war supplies. Both sides needed together a certain amount of materials and submit them to NPCs in order to be able to count towards the server total. When all materials would be submitted, which, on some servers could take several (real-time) months. The necessary supplies were as follows (pilfered from WoWWiki):

Both factions need to gather:

The Alliance needs to gather in the Military Ward of Ironforge:

The Horde needs to gather in The Valley of Spirits in Orgrimmar:

These signets would then be turned into NPCs on both sides. Once all supplies were complete, both factions would start sending troops to Silithus for the war, and over the course of five real-time days, you could see supplies dwindling in the two faction cities as the armies marches on Ahn’Qiraj.

Only then could you use the aforementioned scepter to bang the gong, crack the Scarab Wall, and open the Ahn’Qiraj gates. The person with the gong would get a legendary Qiraji mount, mostly one per faction. If you had a complete scepter, you could hit the gong again and get your own mount, but only within the 10-hour event window of hitting the gong for the first time. Given the pain involved in completing the scepter, this was mostly limited to one person per server. Now that is truly a legendary achievement, to be the proud owner of a mount that only one person on the entire server could obtain. On Eitrigg, this honor belonged to a Paladin from Harbingers of Death, though I can’t, for the life of me, recall his name anymore. I mean this was six years ago!

And then you could finally get into the 20-man (Ruins of Ahn’Qiraj) and the 40-man (Temple of Ahn’Qiraj) and test your skill against the best the Silithid had to offer. It was a colossal event, one that required not only the guild to come together, but also required coordination with the Horde side for completing the war effort quests. It was a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our resources. But we banded together, as we had against every challenge thrown at us since launch, and we went on to conquer both instances, all the way to that sonofabitch C’Thun!

Categories: Bronte, World of Warcraft

“How I Use My Keyboard in MMOs” or “Too Many Keys, Not Enough Fingers”

January 25, 2012 10 comments

Perhaps it is time to invest in the Razer Naga, because frankly, there are just too many keys to press as a hunter at WoW endgame, the only MMO I am playing with some level of consistency.

But maybe, in the interests of providing some context, I should explain how I use my keyboard.

The Rules

There are a few rules for me when I set up my keyboard to play any particular game.

  1. There should be as few keys as possible
  2. The keys should be in close proximity
  3. I should be able to press Alt to change the function of a key completely.

The Primary Keys

The traditional bar (which I don’t use), allows you 12 keys, ‘1’ all the way to ‘=’. This clearly violates rule # 2, so the most I will work with is six keys. Since the ‘`’ key is not used in the original game, this makes ‘`’ through ‘5’ usable.

I also use the ‘Q’ and ‘E’ keys, while ‘WASD’ are used for strafing and lateral movement.

‘F4′ through ‘F9′ are used for ‘Trap Launcher’ and the five subsequent traps respectively. ‘F5′ has ‘Freeze Trap’ on it. The logic is that in the heat of battle, I can hit ‘F4′ (easy to find), then ‘F5′ (next to it after a dip) without having to look at my keyboard.

‘X’ is used for autorun.

The built-in shortcuts for various WoW menus and interface panels remain largely untouched.

The Alt Key

I also use the Alt key to completely change another key. For example, pressing ‘E’ normally triggers ‘Rapid Fire’. Pressing alt changes ‘E’ to ‘Readiness’. It makes sense two me because these two abilities are used closest together in a raid environment. The same logic applies to several other keys. For example, ‘4’ fires ‘Chimera Shot’. Pressing alt changes this to ‘Serpent Sting’. So you press alt to cast ‘Serpent Sting’ once, and then release alt and over the course of the fight, press ‘4’ to cast ‘Chimera Shot’, which refreshes ‘Serpent Sting’. The following macro makes this work:

#showtooltip [nomod] Chimera Shot; [mod:alt] Serpent Sting
/targetenemy [noharm]
/petattack [@target,exists]
/petfollow [@target,noexists]
/use [nomod] Chimera Shot; [mod:alt] Serpent Sting;

The lines regarding the pet simply directs my pet to attack the target I am attacking. This is rolled into about every ability to ensure they assist me every time. I find the pet bar option to be unreliable.

The Mouse

Left, Right and Middle buttons are a given. I also have two side buttons on my mouse, so both of those buttons ‘B4′ and ‘B5′ also get used. Using the alt and ctrl keys transforms these two buttons into six buttons. For example, my “survival” abilities are ties to ‘Button 5′.

‘Button 5′ = Disengage (used most often)
Alt + ‘Button 5′ = Feign Death
Ctrl + ‘Button 5′ = Deterrance

Clique Mod

In addition to this, I also use Clique mod, and some of my abilities are directly programmed into it, for example, alt-clicking any portrait will cast ‘Mend Pet’ on my current pet. Middle clicking on any portrait will cast ‘Misdirect’ on that person.

Here is a screenshot of my keyboard set-up:

I hope the commentary above now makes sense with this.

The following are some of the problems that I think exist with this setup.

  1. The Clique mod is being used for only two abilities. I think I can intelligently ramp up this number and tie in some keys that can get em out of a pickle in the heat of battle.
  2. The Ctrl key is hard to reach, and only programmed into one of the “survival” groupings. I think I should get rid of this.
  3. The ‘Z’, ‘Shift’, ‘F’ and ‘8’ – ‘=’ keys are not being used. Thought it must be said that aside from ‘F’ most of these are hard to reach, given my set-up.
  4. The keys ‘F1′ – ‘F3′ are not being used. But I don’t know what to put in there.
  5. There are too many buttons. This may be really screwing me up in the grand scheme of things.
  6. Since I use the mouse buttons very extensively, I think I should get a Naga-esque mouse with more than just two extra buttons to play with.

Any suggestions for improvement?

Categories: Bronte, World of Warcraft

“I Miss the Gold Old Days” or “Vanilla Nostaglia”

January 20, 2012 3 comments

Gold then.

A while back I put up a post titled: ‘“I Miss 40-man Raids” or “Vanilla Nostalgia”‘. Turns out that isn’t the only thing I miss about the vanilla days.

One of the systems that has gone through a radical transformation over the last seven years of WoW has been gold acquisition. I remember when gold was a highly sought after commodity. Having 100 gold in your inventory at 60 was a big deal. When buying a Krol Blade meant you had to save up some cash for a long, long time. I remember when the highest price on the AH would be three figures. Putting up something for 1K gold would get you ridiculed general and trade chats.

Daily Quests: Then

Um, we didn’t have any.

Daily Quests: Now

One of the ways to acquire gold these days (if you are not an enterprising Auction House player like myself), is to simply do the allotted 25 daily quests daily. If you got an average of 17 gold per quest, you would end up getting 2975 gold in a single week from just quest turn-ins, never mind the items you would pick up for vendoring or auctioning. I think that is a tad ridiculous now. Making nearly 3K guaranteed gold in vanilla would make me one of the richest players on any server. These days, thanks to inflation, this is the “norm”.

Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder: Then

A vanilla player would gawk at you stupidly. This was not even fathomable then. Hell even PvP was with players of the same server, and queues could be up to an hour long for AV.

Dungeon Finder and Raid Finder: Now

The sheer volume of gold you can make from DF and LFR is technically infinite. LFR will net you about 170 gold every week, so that is negligible. But you could technically keep queuing in DF all week, making 25G every run, in addition to whatever items you pick up for the AH or for selling to vendors, not to mention loot for your characters, disenchanted crystals and gold made from unfinished quests.

Gold for Experience: Then

If you hit the level cap of 60 in vanilla, any quests you finished past that point would result in getting you squat in addition to the quest rewards (be it currency or gear).

Gold for Experience: Now

Now, after you hit the level cap, the experience you would normally gain from turning in a quest gets converted instead to gold. I leveled my hunter in Cataclysm from 81-85 via Mount Hyjal, Deepholm, and a little bit of Twilight Highlands. After hitting 85, all the quests I finished in Uldum, the rest of Twilight Highlands, and Vash’ir nets me gold for experience. This concept was unheard of in vanilla WoW.

Gold now.

I hit level 85 in Cataclysm less than two months ago (I think), and I have over 50K gold, and that is with minimal effort and time invested. The point of this post, as was the case with the last one, is not to berate the WoW of today. The game has gone through an evolutionary process over the last seven years and a lot of changes are for the better. I just remember the good old days when being able to make copious amounts of gold was a skill and not a god-given right!

What do you think? Do you feel all this convenience is a good thing for MMO evolution, or has gold-acquisition been made too easy?

“Patch 4.3 is the End for Cataclysm” or “The Monks Must be Meditating”

January 18, 2012 Leave a comment

The Pandaren monks must be meditating for a long time because it seems that they will be the next major content patch in WoW. That’s right kids, 4.3 is the end of the line as far as Cataclysm related content goes. I initially thought they might do something like “Sunwell for Cataclysm” to hold on to their player-base, considering especially that they have lost nearly two million subscribers in the last year. But no, good old Blizzard is sticking to their guns and maintaining Deathwing as the final major encounter in Cataclysm.

This effectively implies a few things for me as a player, roughly divided into two broad categories.

Category A: Quit until Mists of Pandaria

Fairly self-explanatory.

Category B: Prepare for the Expansion, Fluff and PvP

In this category I will certainly not be raiding. I have tried LFR, and the guild does weekly runs with 7/8 of Dragon Soul on farm status. But for me, that is just insufficient. I see little point in my character acquiring the top-tier gear when it will go obsolete next patch when a whole new ball-game begins. Instead, I’d rather focus on the things I have been meaning to wrap up. These include, in no particular order:

  • A proper secondary and tertiary alt
  • Level Archeology to the cap and go after some of the rares in that profession
  • Level my second profession, Blacksmithing.
  • Transfer the mining profession by leveling it through smelting on my secondary character, and pick up Engineering on my main.
  • Expand my companion list. I have 46 so far, with little effort. I wonder how well prepared can I be for Pokemon with any actual effort.
  • Do some of the fun little fluff achievements.
  • Loremaster (*shudder*)
  • Go after some of the rarer mounts, or mounts that take a great deal of effort and/or time
  • PvP my heart out, especially with the guild

At this point I am not sure. Any suggestions?

And no I don’t seem myself switching to another MMO, free or otherwise. Unless they announced when The Secret World was coming out.

“Eitrigg and Bloodhoof” or “Maelstrom and Aggamagan”

January 11, 2012 Leave a comment

In all my time playing WoW, I have, oddly enough, played on only four servers. When I was state-side, I first played on Bloodhoof, and the the entire guild made the transfer to Eitrigg. Recently when I joined Goblin’s guild on Aggamagan, I also started a mage on Maelstrom.

Having never played Horde-side (except for the very shiny new mage), I never really knew that Eitrigg was actually a fairly important character for the Orcs. It got me to thinking: “what do the names of the servers I play on mean in the larger lore context of the game?” Here is what I came up with.

Bloodhoof

This one was easy. The Bloodhoofs are one of the noble families of the Tauren Race. The two most significant characters are Craine Bloodhoof, the late High Chieftain of the Taurens, and Baine Bloodhoof. Cairne dueled Garrosh Hellscream but was betrayed by Magatha who secretly poisoned Hellscream’s weapon. The chieftain dying words were:

“And so, I, who have lived my whole life with honor, die betrayed”.

Baine Bloodhoof is Cairne’s son, and the new High Chieftain of the race.

Bloodhoof is also a village in the Mulgore zone.

Eitrigg

Eitrigg is an aging warrior of the Orc clan who fought in both the First and Second Wars and lost two sons in the process.

He sequestered himself to seclusion, but was stumbled upon by Tirion Fordling. The two fought, and the duel ended with Eitrigg rescuing an unconscious Tirion from a collapsing tower. Tirion is forever in Eitrigg’s debt and hold him in high regard.

In Wrath of the lich King, Tirion wrote to High Warchief Thrall, leader of the Orcs and the Horde in general, asking after Eitrigg and requesting that he be sent to Northrend as Tirion “needed a good Orc by his side.”

Eitrigg was one of the the three advisers Thrall recommended to Garrosh Hellscream as he ascended to the Horde leadership. the other two were Vol’jin of the Trolls and Cairne of the Taurens.

Maelstrom

Aside from being the most significant plot-location in Cataclysm, The Maelstrom was originally formed during the Great Sundering, some 10,000 odd years before the events of World of Warcraft (vanilla). Before that, it used to be the Well of Eternity. Here is an excerpt from the Warcraft III manual:

As the aftershocks from the Well of Eternity’s implosion rattled the bones of the world, the seas rushed in to fill the gaping wound left in the earth. Nearly eighty percent of Kalimdor’s landmass had been blasted apart, leaving only a handful of separate continents surrounding the new, raging sea. At the center of the new sea, where the Well of Eternity once stood, was a tumultuous storm of tidal fury and chaotic energies. This terrible scar, known as the Maelstrom, would never cease its furious spinning. It would remain a constant reminder of the terrible catastrophe… and the Utopian era that had been lost forever.

It is implied that the Maelstrom is slowly drawing the Broken Isles towards itself, and will ultimately destroy them for good.

Agamaggan

This one was a little difficult to find. Agamaggan a Giant Boar, one of the many ancients roaming Azeroth in it’s early days. During the War of the Ancients, Cenarius sought the assistance of Agamaggan against the Burning Legion. Agamaggan fought Mannoroth, eventually falling in battle, but his sacrifice was vital for Malfurion and his allies to enter the stronghold of Azshara and reach the Well of Eternity. Some of these events can be witnessed in the new 5-man dungeon,Well of Eternity.

What do the names of the servers you play on mean?

Categories: Lore, World of Warcraft
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