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Posts Tagged ‘Cataclysm’

“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.

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.

“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.

Patch 4.3: “Loving the Lore” or “Hating the Lore”

September 20, 2011 15 comments

I didn’t think I would like WoW again, but the leveling game has been so well improved, I can’t help but marvel at the fluidity of it all. I am also trying something new altogether. I played a Dwarf Paladin for nearly six years, always on the Alliance side, on the US servers. Now I am on the EU servers, playing an Undead Mage, trying out the horde faction. And I have to admit, despite being primarily a solo journey, I am very pleasantly surprised by the ebb and flow of level progression in the lower levels. I am level 38 now, and so far it’s been a blast.

But I am digressing. Patch 4.3 is around the corner. The heroes of Azeroth must once again band together to defeat a worldly threat. And although that has happened countless times before, this time, things seem a little different:

Pros

  • The lore in Cataclysm has a very fluid structure. The story lines flows from starting zones into adjacent and non-adjacent zones, and at least until level 60, there seems to be a harmony to the central narrative.
  • The story takes into account the hero’s progression (that’s you). Arthas has been killed, and Cataclysm areas (both 1-60 and 81-85) consistently allude to the fact that he no longer threatens the world.
  • This progression is further taken into account with the lore for the three 5-mans and the raid encounter in patch 4.3, as the Al’Akir, Ragnaros, and Deathwing’s immediate family: Lady Sinestra, Onyxia and Nefarion have all been struck down. The forces of Deathwing have dwindled.
  • You can’t just kill Deathwing, he has contingencies in place, and he seems to have thought of everything. Even traveling to the past to recover the Dragon Soul to defeat him is impossible, and you must first travel to the future to remove said obstacle. In short, the lore is tied together very well in the four new instances.
  • You get to see the future, what Azeroth will become, should you fail.
  • You get to see the events 10,000 years in the past, events that shaped the today of Azeroth, events that we always heard of in lore conversation, or read about in books. But now you get to experience them first-hand. You fought Illidan in The Burning Crusade, but this time you can with alongside him, you know, before he turned into a massive dick.
  • Transmorgification: Hooray!

Cons

  • There will be three difficulty levels. Blizzard has already started nerfing the Ragnaros encounter. They also say that after the top seed guilds have downed Deathwing, he will be toned down as well. This is all part of the macro-strategy Blizzard is deploying to ensure that a large percentage of their player-base gets to see, experience and vanquish endgame content. I have mentioned before why this strategy may be a mistake, but it appears Blizzard will not change gears in content design in this expansion.
  • Despite the content re-design, Outlands and Northrend were left untouched. So at level 10, when the lore for the Undead storyline is speaking of Arthas being killed by the heroes of Azeoth, at level 70+, you will face him again in Northrend. Lame.
  • There are whole new bosses in the raid encounter, allies of Deathwing that we have never heard of before. That is a little weak. We played Cataclysm for nearly a year, systematically eliminating all that sided with Deathwing one after another. After so much, we get six new bosses thrown at us, ones that (mostly) never entered the fray before.
  • Benedictus was a minion of Deathwing all along? Oh come on!
  • Transmorgification: Couldn’t you have released this feature a little sooner? Only took you seven years!

“WoW Evolved” or “The Problem with Overtuning Content”

September 15, 2011 8 comments

The Game is Evolving, But the Players are Not

The problem with WoW’s current raid progression is that it simply isn’t accessible. Innovation after seven years of being the market leader implies that boss fights need to continue to evolve beyond tank-and-spanks and massive-mob-rushes, but it also has the added drawback of increased complexity. Ordinarily this shouldn’t be an issue, as players continue to learn the more they play and the more they encounter more complex fights. But WoW is an MMO, and that implies players come and go, and the average skill level fluctuates.

I read recently that there are several times more inactive WoW subscribers that once played WoW, than currently active (10 million +) WoW subscribers. I myself have unsubscribed four or five times. This effectively implies that aside from a few hardcore players, most of WoW’s core players continue to rotate. Raids see new players (or older players that haven’t played in a while) returning to newer, scarier, bigger, crazier boss fights. What I am trying to say is, the game is evolving and metamorphosing, but perhaps the player isn’t.

“Overtuning” Content

A very tiny percentage of the raiding population in WoW (which itself is a small portion of the overall population, I’d imagine) has conquered the Firelands raid, a fact most bloggers, including Spinks, agrees with. When most of the player base in your MMO is unable to even see (let alone down) the last boss of a raid instance before you are gearing up for the next raid tier, there is a problem. I have no factual information to support this, but this heavy-duty overtuning may well be the reason WoW has been losing a steady (not worrisome, but steady nonetheless) stream of subscribers since Cataclysm released.

The solution does not lie in nerfing the instance to make it more accessible to more players (as is apparently due, this very week), or introducing a “lower difficulty” setting (*groan*), it is to revisit your design principles and ensure that your instances are more accessible to the raiding population to begin with. This straddling the fence with content that is ridiculously difficult, then incredibly easy, and then painfully difficult again has us all confused. Hell even Tobold would like Blizzard to stick to their guns for once.

Blizzard recently said the Deathwing encounter will be the longest and the  most complex encounter in-game. So clearly the message isn’t getting through, but until the instance is actually released, I suppose there is always hope.

“People I Hate in WoW” or “People I Love in WoW”

January 29, 2011 3 comments

The first screenshot is of an alliance player who joined the instance for one item off of the first boss, and then left without warning.

The second screenshot is of a horde player helping me in the most unlikely manner. His gestures helped figure out the quest’s gimmick.

You can figure out for yourself who I hate and who I love.

“Gaming Updates” or “Fable 3, WoW: Cataclysm and RIFT Beta”

January 26, 2011 9 comments

Fable III

I can’t play this title any more. I have had a blast playing Molyneux’s latest title, but to a point.

Relationship Quests: I discovered that nearly every NPC in the game had a unique name (though not a unique personality) and several factors determined whether they loved or despised me. This revelation led to figuring out how every single NPC had quests for you, provided you improve your relationship level with them. This was exciting, but also incredibly anal, time-consuming and repetitive. I think it is a great idea, and it breathes new life into the concept of a living, breathing world, but the repetitive nature greatly detracts from the concept. After a few relationship quests, I was just tired of the whole thing, especially after having the dog dig through the 16th random dig site for a small piece of who-gives-a-shit-anymore.

Weapon Leveling: Halfway through the game I found how the weapon upgrade system worked. I was excited. I picked up Briar’s_Blaster, and went about finishing the three objectives required for improving the weapon (earn 10,000 gold from jobs, kill 150 men, complete 30 quests). When the gun wad finally fully upgraded, I realized I had no idea what I was supposed to do next, or where in the storylines had I misplaced myself. Mind you, this wasn’t a “that was so awesome, I completely forgot about the story” moment. This was more of a “all that work for a lousy +12 damage, and now I don’t even know where I was” moment.

Collection Mini-game: Of course the icing on the cake was the collection mini-games. You had to find and shoot 50 gnomes scattered all over the world, in addition to silver keys, the highly elusive gold keys and corresponding chests. Then there were the Demon Doors with their own criteria, as well as rare flowers, and all those damn books. Having collected nearly 70% in each category stated above, I realized I had been spending all of my in-game time collecting these items and getting aggravated when I couldn’t locate something in a particular area, instead of pursuing the ultimate goal: having fun!

I love Fable 3, and I have had a blast with what I have done so far. It will remain as one of the very few games that I actually enjoyed to a point, but never actually finished, thus going against my completionist nature. But I am done with it, now and forever, and I am OK with that.

WoW

Cataclysm has been a blast so far. There are a million things to do, and with all the changes to the game, I continue to find new things in the UI that I had not seen or experienced before. Juet yesterday I realized that you could see a ton of information about guildies via the drop down menu button in the top right corner of the guild management window. Who knew?! You did? Well then, go have a cookie.

Professions: My cooking is at 525, but that wasn’t difficult to do because I can fish for hours on end when I am catching up on my weekly shows. The caught fish simultaneously raised my fishing to 525, and cooking it took my cooking to 525 as well. I tried my hands at Archeology, but after getting the raptor mount try as I might, I just cannot bring myself to do it any more. It is just… exhausting. I dropped Alchemy as a profession halfway through Wrath of the Lich King, and picked up Blasksmithing. It is now stuck somewhere in the mid-hundreds, and feeling utterly neglected. I should probably do something about that. My enchanting is now finally at 500, and although that is a ways to go yet, I am sure I will get there by the week’s end.

Auction House Master: I am back to playing the auction house. I have been back at WoW for merely two weeks and have already added closed to 50K to my coffers. You might think that is exceptional, but it really isn’t. I don;t normally bag that much gold in such a short amount of time. The prices for reagents and goods in Cataclysm have, let’s just say, skyrocketed past the Cathedral’s steeples in Stormwind. Just the other day I saw Maelstrom Crystals go from 1K a pop to 7K a pop (thanks to the alchemy nerf!). I also discovered the joy of a wonderful new mod called Trade Skill Master. It is too complex to explain here, suffice it to say it is bloody brilliant, and you should look into it on Curse or WoWInterface.

End-game Content: Uh, I haven’t done any yet. Honestly I haven’t even completed all the normal instances, let alone the heroic ones. Part of the reason is because I have only so many gaming hours in a day. But part of it is because, well, I am scared. Everyone in Cataclysm keeps talking about how hard dungeons are in Cataclysm. Hell Ghostcrawler himself admitted that dungeons were hard, yo. I keep meaning to try heroics, but my timings are so much different from everyone else in my core group of WoW friends that it rarely, if ever, works out. My goal is to complete every dungeon on normal, and every dungeon on heroic by this week’s end. Next week I will will start working on Glory of the Cataclysmic Hero.

RIFT

So I finally got in the beta. Sort of. It took two days to download because the download rates, despite a kickass connection, were abysmal. When the game finally downloaded, patched, updated (rinse repeat the last two a few times), it wouldn’t launch. It kept givingme some error about how servers were not available. When the game finally launched, I kept crashing at the character creation loading screen.

This morning, when I was finally able to re-create a Guardian Dwarf Warrior and enter the game, the game crashed again. Too disgusted to try again, I shut it down and punched a kitten in the face. I made up the last part, but I was a little too frustrated to try it again for a while. I know this is the beta, and there will be some inherent issues, and I should be more understanding. I will be eventually. Just not now, after struggling with the game for two straight days.

“Trifecta of Tribulations” or “Healers Ain’t Gods”

January 13, 2011 5 comments

“I think the novelty has worn off, and I’ve started encountering the usual array of wankers, pillocks, idiots and dickbags.”

Tamarind summarizes Cataclysm pugs, that’s the spirit, Righteous Orbs

Sounds about right.

My first pug was all polite and “Hey did you try out this new thing in Cataclysm?! It’s awesome!” and “Don’t worry, everyone is new at this!”

The second pug, a mere week later, first blamed the healer (that’d be me); I got pissed and broke out Recount which resulted in the tank being exposed as an oblivious baboon; who then called out the lackluster DPS, and said if the healer was good enough, nothing else matters; and ragequit after the next wipe.

Why did I come back to this?

Categories: Bronte, Pugs, Quote of the Day

“My First Quest in Cataclysm” or “Green > Purple”

January 5, 2011 4 comments

Yes I am back to WoW. I had to. When you play for five years with kids like these, you aren’t left with a lot of choice.

It took a lot longer to get back into the game than I expected. The UI restructuring alone took well over four hours, and you will see it in the screenshot below. I also had to redo my talents, which took a while because I decided to level as a Holy Paladin (shocking I know), learned the new talents, including the faster flying (I can now fly at 409% travel speed, factoring in Crusader Aura and 10% speed increase from guild talents), cleared out my inventory, learned the new mastery for all of my professions and picked up Archeology. I even did the cooking and fishing dailies.

I leveled extensively on my sea horse in Cataclysm, so in the interesting of a varied starting experience, I decided to go with Hyjal. My very first quest was “The Earth Rises”, the completion of which rewarded the Scalded Rockscale Shoulderpads. And I promptly replaced my epic shoulders from Wrath of the Lich King.

Now granted I didn’t raid much beyond half of Ulduar, but come on man, first quest, first green? *sigh*

Click to enlarge

“A Love Letter from Krothar” or “What Makes MMOs Special”

January 4, 2011 7 comments

A Love Letter from Krothar

It has been less than 3 hours since I posted my top seven games for 2010, listing WoW as one of them, and claiming how I had quit the game, but maybe something will provoke me to go back to it.

An hour after I put that up, I got the following mail from my friend Krothar (yes that is his toon’s name, who would name their kid ‘Krother’? Sheesh!), fellow dwarf paladin and one of the best damn paladin healers I have ever had the pleasure of playing with.

Some of the boys and I have been running 5 mans together… we talk about you often and make fun of you even more often.  But only because you miss your fatty dwarf.
Happy new year from the boys who remember the good old days.
– Krothar and the CoV vanilla crew.
P.S.: Milamber wants you to post this on your blog because he wants to be famous.

He also attached this (he’s the very gay-sounding “Krowe” in the screenshot below – hey what’s what the stupid name man?):
Click to enlarge, and read the chat.

What Makes MMOs Special

This is where the MMO genre shines. Where other genres are remembered by the gameplay experiences you had or what systems they had in place, or the awesome graphics, or the epic storylines, MMOs are defined, in addition to the above and more importantly, by their communities, the relationships you forge along the way, and the friends that you make. I have played with nearly everyone in the screenshot above for nearly five years, and no amount of high end graphics (hello Crysis), epic lore (hello Dragon Age), storyline (hello Mass Effect), quirky mechanics (hello Plants and Zombies), atmospheric design (hello Metro 2033) or stellar questing/mission structure (hello Starcraft II) can replace the feeling of going up against a tough battle with the same tried and tested crew that you know won’t fail.

And even if it will fail, it will still be a helluva lotta fun!

Goddamn it guys! Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!

“Why I Love Pete” or “Getting the WoW Faithful in a Tizzy”

December 21, 2010 Leave a comment

“But y’know, I haven’t gotten the WoW Faithful all in a tizzy by saying something bad about their beloved game, so I figured I’d shoot out a post anyway.

The Worgen quest line has possibly been even more hand-holdy than the Night Elf quest line is! There are some quests that literally task you to click on a vehicle. Once you do, your character jumps in, goes on a canned ride where you have no control, then jumps out in front of a quest NPC that you have to click on to finish the quest. SUCCESS! You’re an awesome wolfie, you pulled it off! It’s like an MMO for pre-schoolers.”

Pete, WoW update; time to rile up the natives, Dragonchasers

“Read My Mind” or “Gosh You’re Perceptive Anjin!”

December 14, 2010 2 comments

“If you are not a WoW player, the sudden flood of Cataclysm posts must be overwhelming. Many blogs that cover a wide range of topics are suddenly dominated by this one game. And if you don’t care about WoW, your interaction with the community will be dropping considerably.”

Anjin, Random Shots: You Are Not Required To Play WoW, Bullet Points

“The Race to Level-Cap” or “Skipping the Best to Get to the Rest”

December 13, 2010 8 comments

Why do we rush through new content if we are always so starved for it?

An interesting dichotomy exists in MMOs, especially those that are subscription-based. Players, generally speaking, get very antsy when new content isn’t available and they are farming the same old (conquered) content for months. The clamor for more content reaches deafening proportions, with the truly hardcore claiming their monthly subscriptions deserve additional content. Then the developer creates the new content, populates the world with thousands of new NPCs, mobs, quests, encounters and events, and releases it.

A week later, the top players have killed the toughest boss in the game, effectively wrapping up all endgame PvE content for the time being. Sure you could argue that:

  • It is only the 10-man Nefarian kill, the 25-man remains to be killed: OK first, Blizzard said 10-man and 25-man and are alike in difficulty, so nah nah na-na-naaaah! Second, let us also not forget that the toughest encounter during the initial days of WotLK was the 10-man Sartharion. And third, the 25-man version was bugged out, and even if it wasn’t, how long before that bastard is killed as well?
  • There is a ton of new content for starting players and those who want to re-roll: Sure, but we are talking about the players who were anxious for new content. This effectively implies they were already playing. And second, because they were already playing the game, re-rolling was clearly a option they had considered and either exhausted or ignored. The new races might cause a few players to test out the new starting zones, but by-and-large, the player who cried for new content is looking for content at and/or above his level.
  • There is Archeology: Yup, and if you would take Tobold’s word for it, it is also quite entertaining. But how long will Archeology keep you happy, or leveling new professions, or freaking fishing?

The point is that there may be a ton of new features in the new expansion, but the feature we are most interested in, new storyline content, we zip through at breakneck speed.

I looked around in the blogosphere, and at the time of writing this post (Saturday):

The list can go on and on. Did I mention it hasn’t been a full week since Cataclysm hit? I am not saying I am any different, hell I’d probably be in my first raid instance by this time. But the fact of the matter remains: MMO expansions are one of the few things in life where the destination matters a lot more than the journey. Perhaps we are genetically coded to get to the finish line ahead of the competition, and much like a 100-meter dash, completely ignore the periphery, the surroundings and the length of track that you sprinted on to get to the end.

I just find it baffling that guilds like Exorsus and Paragon have already cleared all endgame content, and will not be trapped in an endless cycle of repitition till the next content patch. Where is the fun in that? Again, I am not saying I am above all that. No, not at all. I am very much a part of this MMO community, and possess the same mindset for getting there first, beating the competition, but at least I am increasingly aware of how much I am missing on the way.

I’m quite certain that realm first achievements don’t particularly help either.

“A Sudden Drop in MMOs” or “Scratching the Itch”

December 11, 2010 2 comments

A Sudden Drop in MMOs

I am no longer playing WoW, and quite at peace with the decision. It is a great game, and I am more than certain that the latest expansion is the best one yet, if the commentary of my peers is any indication. But for now, I’m done, and it’s time to try out something new.

Actively, I am not playing any MMO at the moment. Unless you think infrequently logging into Perpetuum and World of Tanks is actively playing MMOs. I am just waiting for all the madness around Christmas time to be over before I jump into the fray with a new title (poll on that soon). There are plenty of choices, just not enough time to invest in an MMO full-time right now.

Bronte, Hardcore

I have also come to realize that casual MMO gaming is not for me. The first few years I played WoW, I played as the GM of a very large guild and we conquered a lot of content. Then I graduated, got a job, got engaged, and life got exponentially more complicated. That necessitated the investment of a lot of time, and as such, my hardcore MMO habits suffered. But life is beginning to settle down again, my work hours have decreased from 12-14 a day to about 10. I am not overworked or being abused, I assure you, I genuinely love doing what I do, and I would gladly invest more time if needed. But that’s the point, it is no longer needed, I have more time in my hands and more still in the coming months.

So I need to find a way to scratch that itch, that need to play in a competitive environment, that exhilaration of downing the first world boss, the excitement of trial and error as you learn a new fight, the clang of axe on sword (or appropriate equivalent) in a battleground, the rush of an accomplishment that stands out in the world. To that end, I need to find a new title to look into. Syp’s post a few weeks back got me interested in Rift. Then Darren linked to a post on Rift’s beta, MMO Gamer Chick got invited to the beta, a certain someone else skipped it altogether, and it certainly piqued Syncaine’s curiosity. Of course Champions Online is going F2P. I have always wanted to try out Lord of the Rings, and apparently good ol’ Dub’s thinking the same thing. And then we have the upcoming The Secret World, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Jumpgate Evolution, Guild Wars 2 and Black Prophecy, although, admittedly, I have no idea when they may be released. There is also the option of going back to EvE, especially with Massively’s new Mob.

These are options I will whittle down over the next few weeks as I do more research on which MMO seems to best fit my play-style and nature, but one thing is for certain: I think I really want to run a hyper-competitive guild again. It is an incredible amount of work and a thankless job, but it is also a lot of fun, immeasurably rewarding in an unsung manner, and comes with its own set of perks and fringe benefits.

Categories: Bronte, Guild

Quote of the Day: “Archeology = Awesome” or “Loving a Complete Waste of Time”

December 10, 2010 Leave a comment

“Archeology is a complete waste of time. I love it!”

Tobold, Archeology and other Cataclysm thoughts, Tobold’s MMORPG Blog

“Cataclysmic Hilarity” or “Tobuscus Sauce!”

November 26, 2010 1 comment

Via WoW.com, I came across this hilarious comedian on YouTube. He has a wide range of segments that he puts up regularly, but perhaps the one that makes the most sense to us as gamers is called “Literal Trailers”. It is very difficult to explain what a literal trailer is, just know that it is a hilarious spoof of video game trailers using original footage from the trailer itself. For example: his latest literal trailer targets Blizzard’s epic Cataclysm cinematic.

Just watch the video, you will be glad you did, because it is absolutely hilarious!

 

“The Biggest PvPenis” or “Static vs. Dynamic”

June 20, 2010 7 comments

Returning to WoW

Since I came back to WoW, I have enjoyed a few key features introduced since I last weathered Azeroth’s tribulations. The Dungeon Finder is one such tool, and though I will religiously do a 5-man daily to accumulate those precious Emblems of Frost, the novelty wore off after a while, and the unused 400 Emblems of Triumph in my backpack became enough of an indication that the Dungeon Finder tool had outlived his functionality for my main.

So I started looking for alternate means to enjoy various other aspects of WoW. One of these was the leveling of a new character, a mage called Septimus (he was created originally as a bank alt on the 7th of July, 2007; hence Septimus). That too has it’s charms, as I am taking the time to explore each story and side-quest in WoW, trying to take in the breathing world before Deathwing comes along and fucks everything up.

Arathi Basin and The Burning Crusade

One other element that I have dabbled into with increasingly frequency is PvP. I have played World of Warcraft off and on for almost six years now. In those six years, I have PvP’ed during those lull moments in the game’s history, with varying degrees of success. It started with AB-premades. Our guild had killed C’Thun 4 months prior. We had 7/15 on farm in Naxx-60, and with The Burning Crusade looming around the corner, raiding became more of a chore with every passing day. People stopped showing up, those that showed up didn’t have their heart in the game. I was beginning to feel like I was losing all semblance of a cohesive guild identity. At first I was comfortable with the idea. After all, The Burning Crusade would necessitate that we remove 15 players from our ranks as it supported the 25-man raid structure and not the 40-man raid structure. But then I saw less than 10 people log on a primary raiding night, and I knew something had to be done.

And so the Arathi Basin farm group was created. There were close to 25 of us, rotating in and out, depending on who was online at the time, and we started learning the ropes of Arathi Basin. In the beginning one or two days, the battleground was a sweet and sour experience. We 5-capped a game, which gave us great confidence and momentum… to survive and regroup after we were 5-capped a few games later. By the end of December 2006, we were rampaging through Arathi Basin. The raid was divided into 5 parties as follows:

  • Group 1: Stables – 1 individual (preferably a rogue or cat)
  • Group 2: Lumber Mill – 3 individuals (two DPS, one healer)
  • Group 3: Gold Mine – 3 individuals (two DPS, one healer)
  • Group 4: Blacksmith – 4 individuals (three DPS, one healer)
  • Group 5: Hit Squad – 4 individuals (three DPS, one healer OR four DPS with a hybrid class that could heal moderately).

Tim Buckley cracks me up!

The function of groups 1-4 is fairly obvious. They would cap their targets and stay at the node to defend. The work, however, was cut out for the Hit Squad. They would ride with group 4 (Blacksmith), and depending on the scenario, several things could happen:

  • No (or light) opposition at Blacksmith, Gold Mine and Lumber Mill fight in deadlock or leaning towards us – charge Farm
  • No (or light) opposition at Blacksmith, Gold Mine or Lumber Mill in trouble – hit the respective node (if both in trouble, hit Lumber Mill) and reinforce
  • Heavy opposition at Blacksmith, reinforce Blacksmith team

The Hit Squad basic function was to serve as a traveling band of miscreants, bringing death and destruction to any and all challengers in our four primary nodes. If we secured all four nodes, then we would call up four additional reserves (1 from Lumber Mill, 1 from Gold Mine, 2 from Blacksmith), add them to the Hit Squad, and all eight would endlessly hit Farm, even if it meant endless deaths, because as long as you kept the enemy focused on holding the Farm, the pressure was taken off of the other nodes. In extreme cases or really dumb opposition, we even left just one person to defend each node, with eleven individuals taking on their farm. If we got four nodes in the first 90 seconds of combat, we normally ended up with a 5-cap win.

If, however, the Horde was moderately organized, and we could get only three nodes, the focus would be to get Blacksmith, Lumber Mill, and Stables. Lumber Mill, especially with the distance slider turned up, served as a warning system for the other two nodes, a liberty you cannot enjoy with the Mine. The groups would remain the same, except group 3 (Gold Mine) would split, with one member from the group reinforcing Group 1, 2 and 4 at Stables, Lumber Mill and Blacksmith. The Hit Squad would continue to reinforce nodes as needed or bum-rush into certain death at Farm, or utter uncertainty at the Gold Mine, the objective being to keep applying pressure to the Horde-held nodes so they never got a chance to attack ours. In a game like that we got a lot of HKs, and almost always came out with a 3-cap, drawn-out win.

The group had to be very tightly controlled and the slightest deviation from the plan could mean the difference between capping or losing a node. With such strict rules for PvP, morale management was a fairly major aspect of the pre-made. I had to rotate people between nodes to try and ensure everyone would see each node as everyone got cycled through it. While I tried to make it fun for everyone, I didn’t enjoy it as much because of the sheer level of organization that went into it. That is part of the reason I have such respect for Gevlon’s now-defunct PvP project and Bee’s notion that PvP cannot be fun.

Our win:lose ration over the course of 5 weeks of Arathi Basin PvP was 108:3. We lose 3 games in all, and we lost all three in the first two days.

PvP and Wrath of the Lich King

I can’t afford to do the afore-mentioned any longer. Partly because I am no longer the GM of a guild with 200-odd members. And partly because I simply can’t be bothered to lead anything anymore. Being a guild leader for three years does that to you. That being said, I have been PvP’ing with increasing frequency in the last few weeks, and it is remarkable how much more complex the game has become since those early days in Arathi Basin.

I started small, participating in a few Wintergrasp battles. And that was important, because it taught me the importance of group strategy and resilience. I got absolutely slaughtered by any rogue that could sink his daggers into me. More times than I care to remember, I was stun-locked from 100%-0% with both my lolbubble and trinket on cooldown. After that I invested my 1,500 or so Stonekeeper Shards and accumulated honor to get myself a full set of PvP gear, getting my resilience just above 900. I do much better now, and I can’t recall the last time I was stunlocked 100%-0% by an undead rogue named “Afkbathroom” (you bastard).

From there I went on to queuing for random battlegrounds. I know it is hard to believe, but up until three weeks ago, I didn’t even know what Island of Conquest or Strand of the Ancients looked like. I also started a 2v2 team called ‘Turban of Vengeance’, an homage to my old beloved guild, ‘Cross of Vengeance’. My partner in crime, Valisa, is a veteran PvP’er with several titles and accolades under his belt. Our initial run was last week, and in 14 games, we were 8 wins to 6 losses. Not bad for the first week, I think.

But the one thing I have noticed consistently in PvP is that no matter how many times you run a battleground, it is never the same. Every time you enter the skirmish, the experience is different, there are no pre-determined set of abilities that the boss character uses, there are no rules, there are series of events that define the experience (e.g., Kel’Thuzad will sodomize you at 35% health etc.) Each time I enter a PvP zone, I am unsure of the outcome, I have to react to the situation dynamically and on the fly, and I have to respond to threats in a logical manner, not in any pre-conceived pattern dictated by static variables and triggered by player actions. And in that, I completely agree with Christopher Cavelle’s assessment, that “the true test of any player’s skill is pvp”. I have been a PvE player for a very long time, and I know I am a fantastic healer. But there is just something about the dynamic, volatile, utter madness nature of PvP that piques my curiosity and gives my e-peen an e-boner. And in all bluntness, PvE, in my humble opinion, does not even come close to the sheer level of skill needed to be a capable PvP player, especially a healer.

“Shush in Vent” or “A Short Essay for Entry Into Cataclysm Beta”

June 9, 2010 2 comments

For Kevin:

<Shush in Vent> was created recently, but the history of the members can be traced back to vanilla WoW. We are a closely-knit social fraternity of mature, casual players, and we have played together for over five years. Over the course of time, we have gotten to know one another in real life as well. Our career in WoW has included achieving server firsts, attaining old-school Grandmaster PvP titles and leading the server in the opening of the Ahn’Qiraj gates. There have also been times when we lay dormant for months. But at the end of the day, we have always kept track of each other.

Since we have known one another for so long, there is a natural level of trust and camaraderie. We don’t have ‘ranks’ in our guild. Everyone has full access to officer chat and the guild bank, and everyone is considered and treated on equal footing. Of course we step up to the plate as needed, such as leading in an instance or coordinating a PvP raid, but we are effectively a cohesive, collective conscience, multi-faceted in backgrounds and united in purpose and direction.

We have played WoW since launch, and almost all of us have participated in WoW betas before. We know how the beta system works and how crucial player feedback is to the development process. We would be absolutely delighted experience the content in Cataclysm and provide profuse feedback as needed.

“Health Bar Watching for the Serious Enthusiast” or “Healers Have the Worst View of Fights”

June 8, 2010 3 comments

I have played a Paladin all six years of World of Warcraft. I have also played a few alts:

  • A mage: Pantheon
  • A Hunter: Xanthus
  • A Warlock: Tereminus
  • A few other lower levels alts just to get an idea of the other classes

But at the end of the day, home base has always been the Paladin class. It is where I feel the most secure, it is the class I enjoy the most, and despite my frustrations with the lack of love for the class from Blizzard in the past, I continue to cling on to it like a desperate Republican supporting the likes of Sarah Palin for fear of the Democrats taking office.

I digress. Within the Paladin class, I have clung on to the Holy tree like socks on Velcro. In fact, I have played the Holy Paladin with such singular devotion and dedication that I have have absolutely no idea how to play either of the other two specs. Being an old-schooler, and despite ample evidence to the contrary, the phrase ‘Paladin DPS’ always strikes me as a bit of an oxymoron, so much so in fact, that I have never had a Retribution spec. I used to tank a little in The Burning Crusade, when Paladin tanking actually became viable, but that too was sparse, and completely abandoned in Wrath of the Lich King.

Larisa’s article (Why Tanks Have the Best View in the Game and other Summertime Musings) jolted me out of my perpetual need to stick to the Holy Paladin class, and made me realize that WoW has a lot more to offer in this highly versatile class than I give it credit for. The most convincing aspect of this realization is what Larisa points out in her entry: tanks have the best view in the game, and by contrast, healers have the worst view.

Yeah, you try enjoying the scenery with THAT!

I can’t recall most of what any instance looks like. I have a vague idea, but the fact of the matter is that I couldn’t tell you if Onyxia looks any different from Sartharion. Or if the Anub’Rekan in the 5-man instances looks the same as he does in 10/25 version of the encounter. Or what the inside of Lord Marrowgar’s room looks like. I have a vague idea, but I just don’t know for sure. And the primary reason for this is the fact that I am almost always looking at one part of my UI: the health bars of all the idiots relying on me to keep them alive.

In any given fight my eye never leaves that portion of the screen. Sure I move if there is AoE in the area, or if the fight dynamics require me to haul ass to ensure success and phat lewts, but at this point that has become more of a muscle memory than anything else. I hear “BONESTORM!”, I keep my eye on the health bars while trying to keep away from Lord Marrowgar using peripheral vision. I see walls of fire approaching in the distance, I relocate to a safer location, and even during that movement, toss out a Holy Shock to someone in need, hoping for a crit, so that my next Flash of Light will be an instant, and none of those precious, precious health bars would suffer.

Other factors notwithstanding, this is one of the biggest reasons why being a healer in WoW sucks more balls than a Bubble Tea addict on a binge: watching those godforsaken bars for hours on end, never taking in the sceneary, or enjoying the smaller pleasures of endgame raiding in the game.

Time for a spec/class change? You betcha.

More on this in upcoming posts.

“Female Worgens Are All The Rage” or “Cataclysm’s Best-Kept Secret”

June 7, 2010 2 comments

I don’t exactly recall how or why, but somewhere during all the madness surrounding the information being released about Cataclysm, any tidbits regarding the female worgen became the MMO equivalent of the latest Paris Hilton sex scandal. Everyone became suddenly obsessed with what female worgens look like, but no one could find a steamy clip anywhere on the internet.

The alleged best-kept secret in Cataclysm is finally out, and no one can explain what all the fuss was about, because they look exactly like you would expect them to look. Just a female version of the previously confirmed male worgens. Whuppity-doo.

What is with the obsession regarding information coming from the development came of our favorite MMOs? MMO players seem especially susceptible to over-hype anything that isn’t even marginally interesting. I would understand obsessing over racial bonuses, or the story, lore and background. But obsessing over what the female worgen will look like?

Some screenshots, shamelessly stolen from Master of Warcraft, are below, as well as a YouTube video embedded further down.

Look at ’em, and settle daan naaw!

Categories: World of Warcraft