Tags: Insta Levels, Warlords of Draenor
And while we were on the topic of insta levels…
Blizzard has finally opened up pre-orders for the Warlords of Draenor expansion. The price falls between my expectations and my fears. WoW expansions have been $40 items up until this point, while the EuroGamer article two weeks back said the expansion would be $60. (Though they deleted that without reference when Blizzard objected.)
The actual price, according to Blizzard’s announcement, is somewhere in between. The standard edition will be $50, with the usual $20 bump to get the Digital Deluxe edition. Presumably the physical Collector’s Edition will be an additional $20 on top of that, making it potentially a $90 purchase. So there is your buy-in price for the next two years of WoW content… once it ships.
There were a couple of items of note in the announcement, starting with that potential ship date.
You probably cannot read it in the thumbnail, but if you expand it by clicking on it, you can see that they have tacked on a line about the expected release being in the Fall of 2014. My September 9th guess seems even more optimistic at this point. And, as somebody pointed out, Fall technically goes all the way out to December 20, 2014, though I would imagine that Blizzard would do all it could to get the expansion in the pipe at least a month before Christmas. Like, maybe at the 10 year anniversary? We shall see. (Elsewhere Blizzard says, “Game is expected to release on or before 12/20/2014.” If this were SOE, that would mean February. And even with Blizzard, “expected” is a hedge and not a promise.)
Then there are the in-game items you get with the Digital Deluxe and Collector’s Edition. A mount and a pet are the key items, and you get them as soon as you pre-order.
The other items, StarCraft II portraits and Diablo III banners don’t really thrill me. Blizzard does insist on these cross-game items though. Occasionally they are good.
And then there are some details about how the insta-90 process will work, including a 2 minute tutorial on YouTube, and what you will get with your character after you wave the magic level-up wand over it.
- 150 gold
- 4 Embersilk (22-slot) bags
- A stack of 20 food items
- Full set of spec-appropriate Item Level 483 (blue-quality) gear
- If a boosted character was already level 60 or above, their existing Primary Professions and First Aid are bumped up to level 600
- A faction-specific flying mount—a traditional Wind Rider for Horde or Gryphon for Alliance
- Artisan flying—that’s one rank below max flight speed
- Northrend, Kalimdor/Eastern Kingdoms, and Pandaria regional flying skills trained
That isn’t a bad list of items. I’ll happily take one with the expansion, though I am not sure I will fork over $60 for any more after that.
Four 22 slot bags are more than any but my main have on them. The gear is a decent start on things in Pandaria. The flight boost, including opening up all the areas that require specific skills, certainly saves you some gold. And then there is the boost to your primary professions and first aid. No cooking, no fishing, and no archaeology I guess. Have to level those up the old fashioned way. But that is still enough to keep my Death Knight in the running as I try to decide which class to boost to 90.
So there we go. This will have to keep us all busy… or not… in Azeroth through the summer.
Will Blizzard be able to keep the subscriptions from ebbing between now and then?
Insta-Levels Come to EverQuest March 10, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, Sony Online Entertainment.
Tags: Because SOE, Cash Shop, Insta Levels
Paid boosts to higher levels were pretty much a given for EverQuest at some point. The only real question I have is why it took this long. After all, EverQuest II got its own insta-level scheme… erm, “heroic character” plan… way back in October of last year.
My guess is that they wanted to wait for the game’s 15th anniversary to roll this out.
So here we are. The anniversary is this coming Sunday, and starting Wednesday of this week you can get a level boosted character. Per SOE:
Players should find it much easier to begin their adventures in Norrath when they start at level 85 with a full complement of gear, Alternative Advancement Abilities, and a unique mount. Regardless if you’re a veteran player that wants to try a new class, a new player that wants to get caught up to your friends, or a player that hasn’t visited Norrath in a long time, Heroic Characters are a great way for you to get in the game!
And, from this Wednesday through to Wednesday, March 26th, the first one is free. The second, or the first after March 26th, will run you 3,500 Station Cash, which translates into $35 if you leave aside any possible discounts or stipends. You can apply this boost to a new or existing character.
$35 is the same price as EverQuest II charges for their version of the boost, which was somewhere near the possible price range for Lord of the Rings Online’s experiment with insta-levels (depending on how you value Turbine Points), but is considerably less than what Blizzard is planning to charge for a level 90 character in World of Warcraft.
That last bit makes you think. After all, the prices of other services… realm transfers or race/faction/name changes… even expansions… for these games run about the same. But a boost to a high level character? $35 vs. $60.
What ever your particular market can bear I guess. Or maybe it depends on the target audience for the offer.
Otherwise, the deals are similar enough. You get a boost up into what the company considers the current/best/optimum/most up to date content. You get some good gear and whatever else goes along with the being at that level. In the case of EQ that means Alternate Advancement points, one of those things that went from a way to keep people busy after they hit level cap to “you must have n AA points to join our very serious guild.” And there is even a special mount for you.
I remain somewhat indifferent to insta-levels. They are still something I would only pay money for under very specific, and pretty rare, circumstances. But I get the appeal. And in the case of EverQuest, the idea probably makes as much sense as it ever will.
After all, the content in EverQuest has evolved a lot in the last 15 years. And the bits and pieces of Norrath that I think I “know” represent a tiny fraction of that content. What I might call “my” EverQuest adds up to the original content, much of Ruins of Kunark, the areas around Crescent Reach up to about level 50, the tutorial, the Plane of Knowledge, and a few lower level locations scattered around the game. Anything above level 60 or that was added after, say, Planes of Power, is pretty much unknown to me and likely to remain that way. I mean, I didn’t even find a “lost” dungeon (2003 content) until about two years ago.
If I want to see anything new in Norrath, an insta-85 is probably the best way, as I have long since lost my ability to level up over time in the game, even with reductions in the level curve, mercenaries, and some attempts at directed content. And I suspect I am not alone in that.
And then there is the cash shop in EverQuest. SOE was extremely sensitive to what they put in the cash shop in EverQuest II. In EverQuest though, the felt much less constrained. Things that would make people’s collective heads explode in EQII… like actual gear or trade skill supplies… are readily available for Station Cash in EQ.
But in EverQuest gear acquisition, and the constant flow of gear upgrades, is not as obvious or ingrained as it is in EverQuest II, where you have to pretty much change out everything every 10 levels.
And then there is the whole “this game is 15 years old with a lot of uneven content between character creation and level 85″ aspect. It might make sense to just put people into the newer content and leave West Karana and Butcher Block to those with a yen for nostalgia. Of course, you might ask why they chose level 85. That puts you into the House of Thule content. If I recall right, that is about the peak before you have to start buying expansions again, so perhaps that is the right point to put people.
So I will likely go and get my free boost to level 85 later this week, and maybe even run around to see what there is to be seen these days. If nothing else, having a character at that level will make touring the world a little easier.
Actually, I will probably boost a level 85 on both of my accounts. One curious little tidbit:
For accounts created before Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per account.
For accounts created on or after Nov 8, 2013, the free Heroic Character option is available one time per household.
I seem to recall this “one time per household” thing coming up with the free boost EverQuest II. I suspect that people were angered… SOE has a knack for angering customers that boggles the mind some days… and now they have spelled it out in a very specific way while grandfathering older accounts into past rules in order to limit the rage level.
Meanwhile, I am wondering who will offer character level boosts next? Which games have enough content for this sort of thing to make sense.
Show Me The Planets Contest Results March 7, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
I realized at some point late yesterday afternoon that I had a contest to wrap up today. It has been a busy week. Winners had to be picked, prizes arranged, and a post had to be written.
The first two were relatively manageable when compared to the third. I always forget what a minor pain it is to move things from email to my hard drive and then back up into WordPress while making sure I do not lose anything along the way. You would be surprised at the number of ways you can mess that up when shepherding a pile pictures along the way.
In the end there were 43 images submitted by 19 different people. Thank you all for participating! Here is the list of those who sent in pictures, in order of when I received them.
- Ripard Teg / Jester (who also kindly linked to the contest from his site)
- Robyn Aurilen
- Jack Holt
- Kirith Kodachi
- Mark726 of EVE Travel
- Hull Nightstar
- Yulian McElroy
- Cheradenine Harper of Diaries of a Space Noob
- Anna Karhunen
- Ty Delaney
- Kara Kardan
- Rofelia Amphal
- Duncan Ringill
- Dunarian Ozran
All of you adhered to the rules, so far as I can tell, and a good percentage of you managed to follow the instructions. I did not penalize anybody in any way because they didn’t rename their screen shots so I could identify the owner or because they decided to branch out to file formats beyond .jpg and .png.
I did save off all entries that were not JPEG into that format, just for the sake of size. Some of you are running at 2560×1440, which makes for a sizable .png file. I do not believe that picture quality was compromised in anyway way.
I was interested to see what people would choose to submit. Some of you went right to the heart of the matter. I have a number of entries that are just planets. Others chose screen shots where planets were a looming presence, watching over our actions in space. And they do flavor the game and give a sense of scale to what we are doing. Have you seen a titan next to a planet or a moon? It is so tiny that you can zoom out until it disappears and the planet will barely have changed size on your screen at all.
So it is time to get to the winners, and all the entries, right after the cut.
And Sometimes Google Just Freaks Me Out… March 7, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in A Random Post, entertainment.
I opened my browser to see a new Google doodle. Something to do with cake. So I moused over it to see what was being celebrated.
Wait, what? I am today’s doodle?
And then I realized that I was logged in to Google and had no doubt entered a date of birth somewhere along the way. This was up there just for me.
Well played Google, well played.
EVE Online to Offer Cosmetic Options for Ships March 6, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
Or, for about $2.00, you can paint your big old space wagon. (Smaller ships may cost much less.)
CCP has a Dev Post up about a pilot program for cosmetic options to allow pilots to customize the appearance of their ships. People have talked about it for ages, with the range of ideas going from full out, no holds barred paint jobs to maybe just letting us put our alliance or corp logos on ships.
Of course, this is EVE Online. Nothing can ever come easy. After years of being badgered, CCP has come up with a complicated plan that involves you buying a blueprint for your specific ship (not hull, but ship, so a Merlin and a Harpy do not share if I read things correctly) from the previously only known for monocles in-game RMT shop, the NEX Store (which still sells monocles, monocles never actually being an issue to anybody really, thank you very much), using that other currency, Aurum, and manufacturing a skin (using the oh-so-intuitive manufacturing interface) that can be applied to your ship.
And, of course, it is a single use item that blows up when your ship does. But it will be noted on kill mails!
Fine, I have fought the UI before and won. I can handle this. Or I can read somebody’s inevitable guide to how to do it. When do I get my Hello Kitty Kestral?
Well, not yet.
CCP is still figuring this out, so for now it is just a pilot program (for pilots!) that includes a limited set of pre-set paint schemes that can be applied to a limited selection of ships. Basically, if you fly one of the nine ships they have selected (Rifter, Maelstrom, Incursus, Hyperion(!?), Punisher, Abaddon, Merlin, or Rokh) you can create a new skin for it. I might have thrown a couple of big, fat cargo ships into the mis, as the paint scheme might be more noticeable, because some of the pre-sets they are offering aren’t exactly stunning updates.
My guess is that they are having problems applying paint to rust.
This is a work in progress and I am sure that options will expand as they figure things out. And this is CCP, which has its own process. It could be a while before you get your Hello Kitty Kestral.
The Dev Blog post linked above has many more details as well as screen shots of the current ships in the trial.
Me, I am waiting for huge, pink dreadnoughts and titans with racing stripes.
Report from New Tristram March 5, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Diablo III, entertainment, Path of Exile, Torchlight II.
Tags: Reaper of Souls
Wasn’t 2012 going to be the year of the heir to Diablo II?
We had multiple contenders. There was the designated heir, Diablo III and all the weight Blizzard could bring to bear. There was Torchlight II, from a team that included many of the people who actually made Diablo II back in the day. And then there was the dark horse candidate, Path of Exile, planning on a free to play experience and the grandest skill tree ever seen.
Each of them managed to hit a few marks. Diablo III carried on the Diablo story line and was polished in that Blizzard way. Torchlight II clearly had the upper hand on price and play options. And only Path of Exile managed to replicate the dark atmosphere of the past Diablo games.
However, in my opinion, each of them failed in some fundamental way.
Diablo III had always online problems at launch, but the real issue became itemization. Gear drops, ever the life’s blood of a Diablo game, were huge in quantity and very bad in quality. The only way to reliably find some gear close to your level was either via a higher level alt or through the auction house. I didn’t really want to play via the auction house, but felt I pretty much had to when it came to end of act bosses. Tired of being pulled out of the actual game to upgrade gear, I stopped playing.
Torchlight II was better on itemization. It still had huge quantities, but quality wasn’t as universally awful, though without the auction house to fall back on, comparison of at-level gear wasn’t as obvious either. However, colorful and well lit graphics hampered any feeling of atmosphere and the story line felt very weak to me. I can give you a synopsis of the story line in all three Diablo games, but couldn’t begin to tell you what Torchligh II… or Torchlight… was really about. That and the dev team punting on the Mac version of the game… and just about anything else it seems… thus killing off any chance of playing with my daughter, put the game pretty low on my play list and I haven’t been back to it in probably a year.
And then there was Path of Exile, which certainly won on price. It is about a free as free to play can be I suppose, though a friend of mine who played a lot of the game says that there is a point after which
you pretty much have to pay to progress the grind of leveling becomes unbearable. That point is just much farther into the game than I managed to get. While winning on atmosphere, it also had “always online” problems. Basically, melee classes became pretty much unplayable at peak times, and I always play the melee classes and I apparently play at peak hours. That ended that.
So three contenders, all of which I felt I was pretty much done with by the end of last year and none of which I could whole heartedly recommend for one reason or another.
But the dev teams were still working on at least two of the three games. The Blizzard team, while slow to acknowledge that they had a problem, eventually owned up on the itemization front and last week those of us on the PC got Diablo III version 2.0.
It was time for a return to Diablo III. I rolled up a new barbarian and played through act one.
The first thing I was looking at was gear drops. And, hey presto, they did in fact seem to be better in quality and more likely to be relevant to my character. Quest rewards for various stages of the story seemed to be better tuned, mini-bosses along the way seemed much more likely to drop something useful, and even the vendor in town seemed to be stocking a higher quality selection of goods.
In fact, that was going so well that the game started to seem a bit easy. I was blowing through masses of undead or goatmen or whatever without much effort at all. That looked to be the downside of the boost to itemization quality.
But I had another 2.0 feature available to me. I was able to jump directly from Normal to Hard with my character.
This was actually a big win. One of the 2.0 changes was to remove what was effectively level ranges for various areas of the game and, instead, make all of the content scale to your current level. No more out running content and hitting a wall that could only be cured with a serious injection of new gear. (Itemization problem strikes again.) And no more playing through the whole story in normal mode just to get to a higher level of challenge.
While loot quality, experience gained, and gold dropped all went up with this change, difficulty went up enough to more than offset those and made the game much more of a challenge. Rather than cutting through mobs like butter, I actually had to start working for a living. I couldn’t just rush into a room and collect everybody the way you can in a 1-60 dungeon finder group in WoW. I found myself in trouble and in any number of close-run fights if I didn’t take care.
Still, I am not sure that “hard” is really the right term. It is closer to “not easy” in feel. While I got down to the red screen of limited health now and again, I never once died. It is just the right level of resistance to keep the game interesting.
It was also fun rediscovering some of the cool bits of the game after a long absence. While the atmosphere isn’t close to the play of light and shadows that was such a deep part of Diablo II at times… and honestly, none of the three games got all the way there… it isn’t the bright and colorful beast that some people were afraid it would be way back when. The atmosphere is pretty good.
Then there was the dynamics of the game while playing the barbarian. For a full on visceral experience, this is the class. I love how elements of the world react when he is pounding out a big attack. Furniture disintegrates, shelves tumble, tapestries whip and swirl, and corpses fly. Oh, and how corpses fly. Ending on a big pound can send multiple foes dead and sailing through the air, sometimes headed completely off screen. (Note the flying goatmen in the screen shot above.) It never gets old.
And the game itself is as well put together as one would expect from a Blizzard product. And the game is divided up into nice, bite size chunks via the waypoints, so you can get in and play for a bit while making it to the next stage of the story. Of course, this can still lead to the “one more waypoint” urge. Not nearly as strong as “just one more turn” is in a Civilization game, but it is there.
There were a few other small features added. We now have a map for the various waypoints as opposed to the old listing that the game and its predecessor used. I guess this adds a bit of immersion, or a sense of place, though it does also point out that I was traveling in a big circle as well.
I made it through to the final boss and remembered enough of it to get through the fight on the first try.
I had rather optimized myself, my skills, and my companion (the Templar this time) for healing, so it was more a matter of building up fury for big hits and staying out of the fire. I did not end up using either of the health shrines in The Butcher’s room. And then it was through to Tyreal and the wrap up of Act I.
So far, so good. Now it is on to Act II. We shall see how well the game sticks this time around.
I also managed to get quite a few levels in, as there was a pre-expansion experience boost in effect while I was playing.
That wasn’t a big deal to me. I guess it will get me closer to the level cap sooner. Is that a good thing?
And the question remain whether or not I will pick up the Reaper of Souls expansion given what it offers.
I like the idea of Act V, and the Crusader class feels much more like my favorite Diablo II class, the paladin. But is that enough to justify the cost? Has Diablo III version 2.0 changed things up enough that I will make it through Act IV? I have time left to decide. And to play. We shall see.
Thinking on Free March 4, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment.
Tags: Business Model, Free-To-Play, No Real Point
The word “free” comes with quite a bit of baggage. Just sticking to money, as opposed to freedom, rights, and so forth, the baggage is not always flattering. I see things being offered as “free” all the time, usually falling into one of these categories (straight from my spam folder):
- Buy one, get one free
- Free with purchase
- Free gift with paid subscription
- Free if you order now
- Free consultation
- Free resort vacation
The first four are not free. Nothing is “free” if you have to buy something to get it. And of the latter two, a free consultation is likely nothing more than an extended sales pitch, while the final one on the list is free if you don’t count the time you need to spend at the hard sell presentation to get you to buy a time share condo. The purpose of the exercise is to get you to buy, not to give you a vacation.
Basically, the word “free” is pretty much a red flag to me. I am either not getting anything for free or it is just a lure to try and sell me something.
Sometimes it is okay. At the grocery store, if something on the shopping list is “Buy X, Get Y Free,” then that amounts to a price break, so long as it isn’t something perishable that will likely go bad before we use it.
So, despite the fact that, at an intellectual level, I can accept the MMO free to play business model for what it is and can see that it is beneficial in some ways ( it has probably kept LOTRO alive a couple of years longer than it might have otherwise lasted) at another more emotional level, it still sits on the same plane as somebody trying to sell me a timeshare in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Cue rant about EverQuest II popping up the “upgrade to GOLD” dialog in the middle of combat.)
Does anybody use “free” as their prime marketing message and not suffer from this? Can free be a business model without the intent to hit people up early and often for some money?
I like the Rift ad especially. That they felt the need to add “No Trials. No Tricks. No Traps.” speaks volumes. And I think, of F2P models, they do offer more for free than most. Probably too much, truth be told. But it is clear that they understand the stigma, while perpetuating it at the same time.
Of course, this might just be me. There is a very strong “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” theme in my world view.
I started writing this post a couple of weeks back after reading a particularly asinine “how dare you expect to play for free” comment in some thread somewhere. “Devs gotta eat, who are you to question them?” sort of stuff. I should have saved that link… or maybe it was better that I did not. Anyway, I started in but my head of steam dissipated quickly, as it tends to on this topic these days.
And then the European Commission announced that they were looking into the use of the word “free” when used with games that have in-app purchases, with an eye to it being misleading. And while their focus seems to be more on mobile apps, if “free” becomes bad for in-app purchases on one platform, it is pretty easy to then extend it to others.
I thought this would lead to another round of free to play blog posts, but not much has come along. Azuriel posits that basically nothing can ever be called free if the European Commission’s potential ruling comes to pass, at least in the EU. Meanwhile, Green Armadillo seems to be more on my own wave length, that using the word “free” when you fully expect somebody to pay is misleading at some level.
I was also interested to learn in that post that League of Legends has apparently stopped marketing with the word “free.” Good for them. (Though I had to quickly update my collage of free, as I had an old “Play for Free” LoL image in it.)
I can be a cynic, the world having thus shaped me, and talk about money tends to bring out the worst in people… you can mess with a lot of things, but as soon as cash is involved, the lid tends to come right off… but I also have mixed feelings on this. Who decides what the litmus test is to determine how “free” something has to be in order to claim to be “free?” And there is something to be said for personal responsibility.
What do you think? To be “free” or not to be “free?”
Monday Morning March Musings on WoW March 3, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warlords of Draenor
1 comment so far
Here we sit. It is the first Monday in March. It is wet and cold, even here in California. (If only briefly. It should be 70 degrees by the end of the week again.) Still, spring seems a long way off, and in the overcast I started musing about the state of various things in Azeroth.
Warlords of Draenor Progress
No word on beta. No word on pre-orders. And certainly no word on a potential launch date.
I know that Blizzard works at the speed of Blizzard… which, admittedly, is still at least 2x the speed of Valve… but we are in a winter of at least some mild discontent here. People were chanting the dungeon finder group cheer, “Go go go go go!” when Blizzard announced Warlords of Draenor, hoping for a spring launch, pinning their dreams on Ghostcrawler’s “Feels like we are farther along…” statement during BlizzCon. And there still isn’t much out there to grab onto.
While we are still effectively staring a tea leaves and trying to divine the future here, the only tangible benchmark for the current situation I could find… six months from start of beta to go live that seemed to work out for previous expansion… is starting to make my September 9th prediction seem a bit optimistic. I am not ready to declare for 2015 yet, but I am starting to tap my fingers on the desk in a sign of impatience.
I know software projects always take longer than expected, but there are a lot of people looking at you right now Blizzard… and, subscriptions. I suspect that we will see some new “just stick with us and we’ll give you a shiny” plan to show up if the fall starts to look dicey for the expansion. After all, they still haven’t tied Hearthstone into a plan to shore up WoW subscriptions yet.
Veteran’s reward for insta-90
One attempt to keep people interested in WoW while waiting for Warlords of Draenor involved announcing that players would be given their insta-90 boost as soon as they pre-ordered the expansion (when we get to that), which will lead to some hard choices once that becomes available. I’ve already started pondering which class to boost.
To help muddy the waters… or maybe it provides clarity… Blizzard has thrown in a hitch. If you choose to boost up a character that is level 60 or higher, you also get max level professions to go along with it. That suddenly makes the idea of boosting up a death knight a lot more interesting. My current DK, sitting at level 69, was in part rolled up with the idea of getting the guild a jewel crafter, that being an under represented skill for us. (Engineering seems to be the thing with us, followed by alchemy.) Getting a level cap DK AND getting jewel crafting in with the mix is quite tempting. Then again, I returned to my warrior alt this past weekend, pushing into the 40s, so he could be in contention as well by the time push comes to shove.
Squishing Stats and Abilities
Blizzard put up a post about the upcoming squish which basically said they are doing it because they are afraid all those big numbers scare us. There was some talk about the squish being required because of raid boss hit point inflation, which is admittedly climbing up there in digits.
That made me wonder how they were handling their data. A signed 32-bit integer will get you to two billion, and unsigned will double that. But who knows how their software is structured and what made sense a decade back. I once worked on a platform where, 15 years earlier, somebody decided that the magic cap would be 500. Then processors got better and suddenly, one day, 500 seemed like a serious restriction. But it was in the foundation of the product, to the point that it became easier just to hack together a method two run two copies of the main process to get around it.
Going along with the “too much for our players” thread, Blizz is also talking about paring down various class skills and racial abilities as well.
The promise is still there about being able to roll through older content as easily after the squish as before. But I am still bouncing through things like Obsidian Sanctum for big bags now, because my ability to beat each mini-boss timer seems to rest entirely on my putting up huge DPS numbers. Not sure how that will translate post-squish.
One thing the wait for Warlords of Draenor has allowed me to do is catch up a bit on things left undone from past expansions. For example, there are innscription recipes from Wrath of the Lich King. There were something like 80+ recipes I needed to research through Northrend Inscription Research, a once per day recipe, along with Minor Inscription Research and the Pandaria version thereof. I have been diligently logging on and doing that every day, to the point that there is now light at the end of the tunnel on that front.
That will leave me with just Pandaria recipes to pick up, most of which are drops within the expansion, so I will have to get out there and actually play the expansion.
Guild Level 21
Our guild made it to level 21 this past weekend.
This turned out to be a surprisingly important level for many of us because it unlocked the Ride Like The Wind guild perk, which boosts the fight speed between flight points by 25%. And, as much as it helps to spend less time on the bird crossing great distances, I think the real problem was that a number of us were tired of being passed all the time by people in guilds who had that perk. We wanted to be fast too! And now we are.
Factions in Pandaria
Along with the inscription research, I have been pretty good about working on factions in Pandaria. Blizzard really sank the hook on that front by giving them all mounts you can only buy when you hit exalted. But it hasn’t been all that much of a grind. I just can’t do more than one or two at a time. Some were quick, silly fun, like the Lorewalkers. Some of the dailies were fun and easy, like the Golden Lotus. I still do a couple of their dailies if I am in the neighborhood. Fun is fun, and 20g is 20g. But I am getting down to the last few factions now. I am going to finish up The Klaxxi this week, which has gone kind of slow. (And how many bugs do I need to kill?)
Once The Klaxxi are down, I will be left with the Kirin-Tor Offensive (which I guess is Jaina Proudmoore and Isle of Thunder), The August Celestials (I have no idea where they live), the Shado-pan Assault (which I started on a bit), Emperor Shaohao (which means Timeless Isle), and the Black Prince.
I’ve gotten far enough ahead in trillium production for living steel that I have been doing some of the farming dailies for faction, just to help move things along. We will see how long I remain motivated for mounts. Emperor Shaohao might be left behind, as the charm of Timeless Isle wore off rather quickly.
Pseudo Server Merges
Blizzard has been carrying on with their connected realms operation, where servers are joined together in order to boost population numbers. The linkage is just shy of a server merge, so nobody has to change their character or guild name. (Good news for the 200+ guilds named “Bloodbath and Beyond.”)
This past month our server, Eldre’Thalas, was linked up with the server Korialstrasz. I wasn’t sure we really needed that. Eldre’Thalas seemed to be humming along pretty well on its own, though that can be hard to determine. There was already cross-realm shared zones and all of the various grouping and matching services work across multiple realms, so by this point I think we’re all pretty used to seeing people running around with a different realm appended to their name.
The one place that was still realm exclusive was the auction house. So that is where I actually could see the change. I run the Auctioneer addon to scan the auction house and keep track of pricing. The number of auctions… and thus the time it took to run the scan… pretty much doubled with the change. That, and the price of some key commodities, living steel for example, dropped in price due to an increase in sellers undercutting each other.
We’ll see what happens when Warlords of Draenor comes out and we get a surge of players logging in more often.
February in Review February 28, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Age of Empires II, Age of Kings
After a couple months I have decided that I really like the MMO Blogesphere feed that I put in the side bar. I just wish it was a little more reliable. I grow tired of seeing this half the time.
Life in the internet age. I have tinkered around with a couple of things to replace it, including Yahoo Pipes, but haven’t really come up with something that work, works as I expect it to work, and works reliably. So RSS Mix remains my sidebar feed of choice for the moment.
On a side topic, has Google Alerts become completely useless these days? Back when I started to blog, I created one for the site URL to see if anybody was linking to me. And it used to work. A few years back I used to get the occasional notification. Then it went quiet. Then, a year or so later, it started telling me about ping-backs from my blog displayed on other blogs… essentially alerting me to the fact that I linked out to another blog. Not very useful. Then there was another long quiet stretch. Now, in the last few weeks, Google Alerts has started sending me notification when I link to other posts on my own blog. That is all I get. Another Google mystery.
Finally, if you hit the blog last Sunday you might have been treated to things being displayed in a different theme… or several different themes. WordPress.com allows you to preview all the premium templates for a two week period. So I opted in for that to see if I could find something I liked. As you can see, the template remains the same as it has been for over seven years now. I have another weekend to go though. We shall see.
One Year Ago
Raptr sent me a summary of my 2012 gaming.
Google changed how image search worked, causing a precipitous drop in page views. Google giveth, and Google taketh away… though they have been heavy on the taketh front for the last couple of years.
RuneScape joined the rare breed of MMOs with an old rules, nostalgia focused server.
I tinkered with Prose with Bros on the iPad. That was amusing for about two weeks.
In something of a breath of fresh air in an argument dedicated to absolutes and bad analogies, with some game devs equating buying used games with piracy, EA admitted that the used game market wasn’t all bad and that the ability to trade in games might be propping up new game sales. They still wanted to kill used games like everybody else in the industry, but at least they were attempting a moment of honesty about it.
A group got together to create an Age of Empires II: Age of Kings expansion called Forgotten Empires. This was before it was announced that Age of Kings would be updated and brought to Steam.
The instance group was still without a quorum and a fantasy title to call its own. We were playing a bit of World of Tanks, which gets awkward with four. I also made some short videos about Crushing your VK and a cliff diving BDR GB1. And I was working on my Soviet heavies as well as the French heavy tree.
In EVE Online we went back to EWN-2U, the scene of my first real epic null sec battle. But null sec was pretty quiet, so we also spent time just flying in circles. The Goons did produce a nice guide to EVE Online in the form of a .pdf called Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories.
And I answered the magic question, just how many times do you have to sign or initial things when closing escrow on a home refinance?
Five Years Ago
My 8800GT video card died. That was the second one to go.
I had been looking at my dis-used GAX Online account and wondered what gamer social networking needed to be viable. Since then, GAX Online has shut down.
PLEX showed up in EVE Online five years ago. In game I got the mining foreman mindlink as a storyline mission drop, I upgraded to a Raven Navy Isssue, and finally bought the freighter for which I had been training, and got some ships blown up in the Worlds Collide mission… again. There was EVE Vegas. And then there was the whole Goonswarm dismemberment of BOB, which made the BBC news.
I was still active in Middle-earth, playing characters on Nimrodel. Looking for a class on which to affix the Reynaldo Fabulous name, I put up a poll on the subject. While Minstrel won the poll, Reynaldo ended up being a hunter with a fabulous hat. And when I wasn’t fooling around with alts, I was leveling up my captain who made it all the way to Rivendell at one point.
While over in Azeroth, it was revealed that my mom plays WoW. I wondered at how active Westfall seems to be most of the time. But the answer to that seems to be the Deadmines, which I ran my mom and daughter through. (No dungeon finder back then!) There was a little pet drama with my daughter who wanted a raptor. I also managed my first exalted status with a faction in WoW, the Kalu’ak in Northrend. I wanted that fishing pole.
And then there was the usual bog war shenanigans as somebody was still looking to blame WoW and WoW players for Warhammer Online’s failure to meets its subscriber goals. I think we’re all over that now, right? Warhammer did what it did on its own faults and merits in a market that was well known before they shipped.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in February
- The Elder Scrolls Online – Mission Accomplished
- Warlords of Draenor to be a $60 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s
- Raid Tourism – Being the 25th Man
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- Echoes and Repercussions from the Battle at B-R5RB
- Grim Batol and Beyond in Cataclysm
- Return to the Heroic Deadmines
- Raptr Corrects My Perceptions – What I Played in 2013
- Is PvP a Requirement for All MMOs?
- Landmark and a Dire Vision of Things to Come…
- B-R5RB and the Death of Drone Assist
- The Downfall of Garrosh Hellscream
Search Terms of the Month
the coveted ccp “mystery code”
[And you could win one here, if you enter REAL soon!]
how to get to west karana from a lady merchant named analya
[When I say that, it rhymes. Does it rhyme for you?]
what happens when you mix root near with icecream
[They get closer?]
where is gm lirus now?
[Probably trying to forget.]
can you buy world of tank type59 g on ebay?
[Don't you wish.]
dmca and mmo emulator
[You're up to something totally legit I am sure.]
stone age man on raft
[How did that even get you here?]
Age of Kings
Potshot and I talk about going back and playing Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings now and again, but we haven’t really put much effort into the idea. I was hoping at one point last year, when a reworked, HD version of the game was released on Steam, that it would be a golden opportunity. Alas, the idea had to stew for a while. Then a couple weeks back Potshot mentioned that a couple of old college pals (and at this point, all of our college pals are old) were interested in playing. And so we have managed a few matches in the latter half of February. I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them yet.
I have been a complete slacker when it comes to EVE Online. I still have a Domi stuck in B-R5RB, left there since the big battle and another one hanging out in what was our staging system at least two move ago. I suppose at least I didn’t put a lot of effort of moving things from Curse to staging systems in the middle of even-closer-to nowhere. Ah well. I did have an EVE Online contest. It is still going as of this moment… unless you are reading this after March 1st, in which case it is over.
World of Warcraft
Things continue to move along in Azeroth. I think we might be over the “so happy to be back” time of binging on the game. The binge was part of the reason I was playing less EVE Online. But it remains the game of choice for our group. We still have a list of things to do in Cataclysm and then there is Mists of Pandaria. That will take us out to the usual summer hiatus at least, if not all the way to Warlords of Draenor.
The great Diablo III revamp is upon us. I expect to devote some time to the game to see if the 2.0 version can revive that Diablo feeling. So far, so good.
I think that The Elder Scrolls Online is having another beta weekend, judging from the six messages in my inbox about it. It is just about time for them to slip the launch date back a couple weeks to make changes based on feedback from the beta. Or such is my gut feeling.
EverQuest will turn 15 in March. What a long, strange something or other.
And, apparently, I will write some more stuff about RTS games. I have at least one Age of Kings post to do and we shall see how far I make it in Warcraft III. Optional blog name possibility: Talking About Game Nostalgia.
Warcraft III – In Search of the Pre-History of WoW February 27, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warcraft III
My relationship with Blizzard and its games is odd in that Warcraft has never been all that interesting to me.
Well, I suppose that, in and of itself isn’t odd. Warcraft doesn’t interest a lot of people I am sure.
But that fact that World of Warcraft has ended up being my MMORPG of choice for most of the last decade is what makes it strange. It means that I haven’t really felt as connected to the game through its lore as I have in other similar games.
I certainly care about the lore in Lord of the Rings Online. As many interesting little features as Turbine has in LOTRO, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have played it a tenth as much as I have if it wasn’t grounded in the works of Tolkien.
I also came to care about the lore in EverQuest. While it was something new, the games connection to TorilMUD (itself rooted in Forgotten Realms, which gives me a lore erection just saying the name), along with its newness and nature at launch, set my expectations and ideas about Norrath. I have a pretty solid notion of what Norrath should be like based on that, something that has not always served me well. Part of my problem with EverQuest II early on was the movement away from the lore of the original in the first couple of expansions. And the whole crazy mounts thing irks to this day in EQII in a way that doesn’t bother me at all in WoW.
Hover disks in Norrath annoy me because that isn’t 1999. In Azeroth they don’t even register because didn’t they always have stupid techno gadgets in their games?
Basically, in WoW, in Azeroth, my take on the lore is pretty much whatever has been handed to me piecemeal over the years, without me having ever managed to get invested in it.
Which brings us back to strange.
Strange because I have actually owned all of the Warcraft RTS games, the source of the lore for WoW.
I have just never gone through the single player campaigns on any of them. Ever.
This was because I never had any enthusiasm for them other than as games to play with friends. To my mind they were in the RTS genre to be played against other people, not single player games to be explored. And even then, of Blizzard games, StarCraft and the Diablo games were far more popular in my group of friends. I only picked up the Warcraft games over the years because they were the game of the moment for people at the office. I think Warcraft II may have literally only been installed at the office and not at home.
So, before WoW, I played the Warcraft series for a few minor moments in between Total Annihilation, StarCraft, and Age of Empires (I and II, but not III). Somehow that little bit inoculated me against caring about the lore.
Not that I haven’t had my moments with the lore in Azeroth now and again. I was involved with the story surrounding Wrath of the Lich King, and have played through as much of Mists of Pandaria as I have in part to finish stories. In fact, the return to the end of WotLK got me thinking about story and lore and what came before WoW, so I decided to dig out my Warcraft III CD.
Well, my Warcraft III CD case. I have no idea where the actual CD is at this point. But the case had the serial number on it, which was enough to activate it in Battle.net so I could download the game. So I was set to get myself updated on some Warcraft lore.
Time to play the Warcraft III campaign!
How that played out after the cut where, if you played through and remember well the Warcraft III single player campaign, the punchline you are probably expecting, given what I have said above, does arrive. We ask that you please hold your “Well, duh!” moments until the end of the performance.