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!
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
So patch 3.3.5 released yesterday, and with it brought about three things worth looking into.
The first will appease the raiders. Ruby Sanctum, although a part of this patch, will be released in the near future officially. This instance is the sacred sanctum of the Red Dragonflight. As is the case with most adventures in Azeroth, a ‘sinister force has taken hold of the sanctum’ (Helion, The Twilight Destroyer, of the Black Dragonflight – there, I ruined it for you), which houses the largest collection of the Red Dragonflight’s eggs in Azeroth.
“Next to nothing is known about who might be responsible for the assault on the Ruby Sanctum: the black dragonflight is not known for forgiveness or patience, but its numbers in Northrend are surely limited. What force would be powerful or daring enough to assail the stronghold of these ancient wyrms? How could such an enemy sneak by the temple’s guardians undetected? Surely an approaching air or ground force would have been caught by Wyrmrest Temple’s defenders.
For the moment, the members of the accord and their allies must assume the worst scenario that they can conceive of: that all life within the Ruby Sanctum rests on the precipice of extinction, and only immediate intervention will prevent the red dragonflight from being decimated. They’ll find that the truth is far worse.”
Vote to Kick System Overhaul
My post yesterday was all about how video games are constantly evolving, learning from their own mistakes and building upon the foundations of data we previously just discarded as meaningless gibberish. Since patch 3.3.3, Blizzard has been collecting information about how players behave in dungeons. Using this data, the new vote-to-kick system rewards cooperation, understanding and patience, and penalizes impatience, intolerance (of weaker / less geared players) and general douchebaggery.
If you are the kind of player who remains patient, even after a pitiful wipe in an easy 5-man dungeon such as The Nexus (strictly speaking at level 80 of course), and refrain from using the vote-to-kick feature at the slightest provocation or questionable performance issues, you will be rewarded and there will generally be no cooldown for when you truly see someone fit for a swift boot to the butt. (Man that was a long sentence, deep breath now). On the contrary, if you are trigger-happy with vote-kicks, you will have longer cooldowns, preventing you from subjecting others to your stupid tantrums and rage at the world because you weren’t hugged as a kid.
Mo ID, Mo Problems
I personally don’t have any real issues with Real ID, primarily because I have been running with the same crew for over five years now, and we all know one another in real life. We are Facebook pals with each other (cause that makes it official you know!), we know the real life names of everyone, emails, and in some cases even phone numbers and addresses. We advise each other in real life predicaments, we play each other’s toons, we share accounts when one of us gets into beta, and introducing Real ID into that dynamic is really a blessing than anything else.
This is not to say I don’t have reservations about Real ID. I wouldn’t, for instance, share the same level of comfort with close WoW friends who I know in a “we run VoA/ToC25 every week” capacity. And then there is the privacy argument, that every once in a while, you don’t want to be bothered by your friends, you just want to quietly quest or PvP or just play the Auction House on a toon no one knows about and not be bothered. That does irk me to a point, but at the end of the day if any of the closely-knit friends needed my help, I would like to step up to the plate. One could argue that you can set your message as “busy” or “away”, but with “real” friends, I doubt this will make much of a difference.
The blogosphere is also abuzz with debates on the Real ID fiasco with opinions ranging from acceptance to disdain to outright hatred.
- Matticus feels that Real ID has potential, but we wants to see how it pans out before he commits to it.
- Stop gives a very through assessment of Real ID, and answers a lot of pertinent questions. Head here if you want a good summary and a short analysis of the features.
- Spinks talks about a Finnish friend in-game who took an extreme approach to escapism, and her concerns about never being able to retreat into anonymous alts.
- Anna talks about her reservations on why Real ID will open doors to some serious privacy concerns, such as stalking and harassment. if you are concerned about privacy with Real ID, this one is the post for you.
- Willhelm manages to balance the conversation a little in this post.
- Avatar feels the security concerns are coming from a vocal minority, and that the Real ID system is a great addition. I find hard to disagree.