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The Return of Project: Gorgon August 29, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment.
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Actually, Project: Gorgon never went away.  About two years ago there was Kickstarter to help fund some of the development.  That was not a success, but the project soldiered on.

I felt like I needed a picture here

The logo remains the same

Porject: Gorgon is back with a new Kickstarter.  This time around Eric Heimberg, the lead developer, is looking for $100,000 so that he and the two key artists working on the project can focus on it full time and bring it to a level ready to release.

And, to be brutality honest, just one day after the Kickstarter launched it looks doomed to fail.

The problem is name recognition.

Mark Jacobs was able to meet his two million dollar goal only on the last day of the Camelot Unchained Kickstarter, even with his name and a serious promise to match what was raised out of his own pocket.  Richard Garriott, was able to parley his Lord British persona and a load of nostalgia for his games into a couple of million dollars via Kickstarter as well, so his Shroud of the Avatar project could go forward.  They were both the public faces of games that have a legion of fans.

And even Brad McQuaid, mired as he was in the problems with Vanguard, was nearly able to hit the half million dollar mark with Pantheon, even if he did not make it to his $800K goal, based in large part on the fact we know who he is and that he is associated with a successful project, EverQuest.

Eric Heimberg worked on Asheron’s Call, which was a success.  But we do not associate his name with that project.  Sandra Powers, his wife, also worked on Asheron’s Call as well as EverQuest II, but her name out of context would just draw a blank for me.  So you can get a couple of bloggers writing about the project and a specialty MMO news site or two, but the mainstream gaming media won’t pick this up.  There is no story that they can sell.

So while Space Tyrant Roberts is out there using the more than fifty million dollars thrown at him by adoring fans to create space bonsai, Project: Gorgon is going to have to do this the hard way.

But at least the project is prepared for that.  See, you can actually go download and play the early alpha version of the game.  It is there.  It is an available, downloadable, tangible thing that you can go try today.  So, unlike any of the examples I have list above, you can do so BEFORE you hand over any money.

And kill a skeleton or three

And kill a skeleton or three

It looks a bit awkward… the pace of walking doesn’t quite match the movement to my eye, as an example, and I have problems judging depth and distance in the cave… but there is quite a bit in place, and the whole thing has moved forward dramatically from the first access nearly two years back.  There is the groundwork for a serious game here.  The intuition system, for example, is interesting and used in an amusing way for an example.

Keeps you from turning into a cow

Keeps you from turning into a cow

And if you hang around in the starter cave while looking at screen shots in another window, you can even die.

Death comes...

Death comes…

Death does not hold much sting now, but this is still early alpha.

The Kickstarter page lists out the vision for this game.  Some of it sounds like other, similar ventures.  But here there is the bedrock of a game, a foundation already laid, that you can go try yourself before you pledge anything.

Because that is the only way this Kickstarter is going to is going to succeed.  Without name recognition as a draw, Project: Gorgon is just going to have to win people over, one at a time, with its demo.

So if you feel inclined, go give it a try.  The download is quick, the package is small, you do not need to register, you can just enter a character name and play.  Then don’t just go “yuck” and close the window.  Run around a bit.  Click on things.  There is a surprising amount of “there” there in Project: Gorgon.

 

Quote of the Day – The Machines are Winning August 28, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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Really more of a Tweet of the day I suppose, but here was CCP Fozzie on the first day of the Hyperion release:

It sounds like the “Burner Missions“introduced with Hyperion are indeed hot stuff, with the NPCs blowing up 1,563 player ships for 207 losses, a 7.55 win ratio for the pirates.  Now that is a green kill board.

Tengus blowing stuff up

Meanwhile, in the CFC we even blob NPCs

Okay, that is a day one stat, when everybody was figuring out the mechanics of the new missions.  But at least it sounds like being forced to stick to frigate hulls in order to hunt down these faction flying NPCs aren’t a complete push over.  At some point somebody will write a guide complete with suggested skill set and a winning fit to tackle these missions, but for now they look to require some effort.

This got Tubrug1 over at The EVE Onion to declare that CCP Fozzie is an agent of the New Order and an ally of James 315, confirming that the slaughter of high sec mission runners has only just begun.  While the EVE Onion is nominally a satire site, as with The Onion on which it is modeled, I sometimes wonder if the whole thing isn’t a more accurate editorial page than what some legitimate news sites offer.

 

Slammed in Nagrand August 28, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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After finishing Terokkar Forest last week I was feeling a bit optimistic about the next zone on my Loremater project checklist.  I was headed to Nagrand.

Nagrand Map

Nagrand Map

I was optimistic for a few reasons.  The first was because Nagrand is a zone that I seem to carry some fondness for in the back of my brain.  I remember doing the Kurenai faction grind, which is pretty easily accomplished if you have a yen for slaughtering ogres and collecting their war beads.  I finished that effort and have all of the talbuk mounts to prove it.  And while Hemet Nesingwary was lurking out there in the zone, what could he possibly do to me that he hadn’t done a dozen or so times before?

Hemet's Camp/Crash Site

Hemet’s Camp/Crash Site

The second reason was because I was already underway in the chase for the 75 quests needed for the Nagrand achievement.  Finishing up Terokkar required me to start in on Nagrand to pick up a quest line that would lead back to Terokkar.  So I was starting 10 quests up.  Go me.

Finally, Nagrand is kind of a pleasant zone, made up of rolling green hill with some rivers surrounded by hills, which keeps you from thinking about the color of the sky.

Flying in Nagrand

Flying in Nagrand

There are only a few ogre mounds and floating rocks and other oddities that mark much of the terrain of Outland.  And even the floating rocks are covered in green turf.

What could go wrong?

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Civilization – The Glorious People’s Victory over Imperialist Aggression! August 27, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Other PC Games, Strategy Group.
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All good things must come to an end… and even the dentist will eventually decide he has gotten the last bit of plaque from your gum line with that iron hook and cease his infernal gouging and scraping… and so it was with our game of Civilization V, entering into its 14th week of play.   As I mentioned last time, a number of victory conditions were beginning to hove into view and become distinct possibilities.

Things picked up as they had left off the previous week.  Mattman, Potshot, and I were online and in the game, ready for turn 751 to commence.  We were expecting Loghound as well, but as the appointed hour rolled around he wasn’t online, so we pressed on.

I managed to hold on to Babylon for the first turn, thwarting Nebuchadnezzar’s feeble counter-attack, and went on to take Akkad, the next city in line.

Rolling over Babylon

Rolling over Babylon

Potshot managed to roll over another Babylonian city to the north at the same time, so it was starting to look like the end of their empire.  After the mountainous terrain past their former capital was an open plain, the perfect venue for my combined arms assault.  It looked like Nebuchadnezzar would be joining Harun al-Rashid of Arabia as a leader without any cities left to lead.

Arabia was still nominally in the game, as we had not tracked down his final units.  Choosing the option that kept empires alive so long as they still had units was such a mistake.

Meanwhile, Mattman and his Chinese empire were buying influence with city states again.  With the world leader election about 10 turns off, one of the victory conditions I mentioned, his ambition was transparent.  So I decided to liven things up with a little ploy of my own.

More after the cut as we work towards the end of the game.

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Enter Hyperion August 26, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online.
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The Hyperion is a great ship for people who don’t like to ask questions, like “Why didn’t I just buy a Megathron?”

-Goon Wiki

Today CCP drops the second mini-expansion on us.  We had Crius five weeks back, and today we have Hyperion.

Of course, I was all “Heh, there is a battleship type called ‘Hyperion’ in the game, I should run with that!” when I saw the name of the expansion.

The CCP Train Schedule

And you know where I’ll go for Rhea then…

Not a very original idea and, as it turns out, the Hyperion seems to be a bit of a loser when it comes to Gallente battleships.  As the quote from the Goon Wiki above indicates, I would be hard pressed to come up with a scenario where one would choose the Hyperion over its Gallente stablemates, the Dominix or the Megathron.  I even went over to my other site to find a picture of the ship, but with more than 800 EVE Online screen shots posted, the Hyperion only appears once.  And that shot was a classic graphics shot from 2009, back when the ship might have had a place.  Oddly though, the year 2009 fits into the scheme of things, but we’ll get to that in a bit.

The Old Hyperion

The Old Hyperion

Anyway, the Hyperion expansion was not named for the Gallente battleship, which as far as I can tell gains no benefit from the update, but from the mythical titans, who lend their name to the expansion out into the foreseeable future.  My momentary flirtation with the ship was mostly because Hyperion’s main focus is on wormhole space, and I know squat about wormhole space.

Hyperion Wormhole - Note ship not used...

Hyperion Wormhole – Note ship not used…

Wormhole space showed up with the Apocrypha expansion back in March 2009 (back when I was taking classic graphics screen shots of Gallente battleships) along with the skill queue, tech III ships, the ship fitting window, that epic mission arc thing I never did, and an updated new player experience, all of which seems far more recent in my brain than five years ago.

Apocrypha - March 2009

Apocrypha – March 2009

But there it is, and wormhole space added nearly 2,500 star systems, which makes up more than a quarter of space in EVE Online.  And I have barely ever been there.

Potshot and I were planning a wormhole expedition at one point.  We were going to find a small wormhole, set up a tower, and live the life of the independent space pioneer.  And then we found that we were far from alone in that idea as every wormhole we scouted seemed to be occupied.   Packing up to go live in w-space seemed to be a fairly common goal.  So it seems odd to read articles that talk about CCP’s vision for w-space being that of a nomadic existence, where players never settled but just roamed about, mining or ratting or whatever, only to return to known space at then end of their mission.  I only ever heard, “new lands to settle!” sorts of sentiment back then, probably influenced by the ideas of sovereign null sec.

Emergent behavior took over, players did what they wanted to, and w-space became what it was.  CCP has been clear in its blogs about Hyperion that they are not going to try to “fix” things to bring them back to what they envisioned, but rather change things to help suit what has become the defacto behavior in w-space… and, of course, tune some of the discoveries made by players over the years as to how to exploit w-space.  Given enough time, players will always find the best, or most efficient, approach to anything.

Since I know next to nothing about wormhole space, I’ll defer to those who live there as to whether the changes are good or not.

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

The other graphic being used for Hyperion

Other than wormhole space, there are some changes to incursions and missions, including a new type of optional level 4 mission called a “burner mission.”  In those missions, you will be tasked to go chase down and destroy a pirate faction frigate fitted for PvP style encounters.  And you, yourself, will be limited to a frigate hull as well, so this is supposed to be something of a challenge… which is why it has to be optional… and perhaps a way to get people to transition a little more towards a PvP mentality after running endless PvE missions.

I will be interested to see if this ends up being used much or not.

There are also a couple of additions to the New Eden Store (formerly NEX) that give players some additional items they can purchase for real world cash and turn around and sell for ISK in game.  The two new items are the Pilot’s Body Resculpt Certificate, which lets you redo your avatar, and the Multiple Pilot Training Certificate, which lets you activate a second training queue on your account so your alt can train up as well as your main.  Previously you could purchase both of these with PLEX.  At first I suspected that the increasing price of PLEX has prompted CCP to separate these two, though to get Aurum, the currency for the New Eden Store, you have to buy PLEX in any case, so the price of PLEX in Jita will still drive pricing so… what was the question again?  Anyway, these are now things in New Eden.

And then there is the usual array of minor adjustments and bug fixes for the release.  You can go read the Hyperion expansion page for the general overview and the patch notes for the gritty details.  The expansion itself appears to have been deployed without incident.

The next expansion on the list is Oceanus, which should show up in another six weeks or so, putting it somewhere in early-to-mid October.

I guess that CCP timeline is way-off by this point (so I should probably stop using it), largely because what ended up going into Cruis, all those industry updates (and did those change the shape of industry very much, I haven’t really paid attention), were supposed to be in Kronos, so the clock got moved up for that first mini-expansion.  And soon we will hear what Oceanus might bring.  But for today it is just Hyperion.

As I have noted elsewhere, at least we get new music with each new expansion, so with more expansions we get more music, so I will leave you with the official CCP music for Hyperion.

Preparing for Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby August 25, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Pokemon.
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When I finished up Pokemon Y a month back, I felt like I was about done with the game.  I can be very focused and very goal oriented when it comes to short-to-medium sized tasks.

This is how, as an example, I have been able to tackle some of the Loremaster achievement tasks as readily as I have.  The achievement is broken up into a series of smaller tasks, each of which the player can take on individually.  Handing me the sum total of quests to be done would be too much.  But zone by zone, it isn’t so bad… for the most part.

After finishing up Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms I hit something of a wall.  Facing the prospect of Outland, I didn’t really log into the game for about a week.

And so it was with Pokemon.  While I played Pokemon Y over the course of nearly four months, I ended up doing it in essentially three focused sprints, with the last one, end goal in sight, probably being equal in duration to the other two combined.  And at the end of that last sprint, mission complete, I was ready to put Pokemon down for a bit.

But after a couple of weeks away, my interest in the game has started to grow again.  This has largely be because of the upcoming release of Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby.

PokemonAlphaOmega_450My daughter and I are already set to play.  She has picked Omega Ruby as her title, so I will be playing Alpha Sapphire.  We just have to take out jar of coins down to the CoinStar machine and turn that cash into an Amazon gift card to be ready to pre-order.  We are good to go there.  And the launch date, November 21, isn’t that far away.

But it is Nintendo who has been driving my interest a bit.  They have had a couple of special download events to keep people interested while also putting out new bits and pieces of information about the new game to build excitement.  Polygon has created a special section on their site devoted to Pokemon, so I have been gorging on information there.  One of the latest tidbits to come down about the upcoming titles is the return of the secret base.

The secret base idea was part of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl back in the day, as part of the whole underground environment where you could play with other people (and actually see them running around) over WiFi.  That was one of the great features those titles, my daughter and I spent hours just tooling around in the underground. But it was also one of those features that lasted for just that generation and went away with the next.

A base back in the day

A base back in the day

Pokemon games are rife with such features, each version having a couple that disappear with the next.  And while there are some you don’t miss, others stick with you.  So the fact that there is going to be some form of secret base again that others can visit, including the whole flag stealing mechanic, is a pretty big deal for me aside from the whole “place of your own” housing aspect.

So that has gotten me interested in getting ready for the new versions to come out.  But the question of what to do still stands.  I have started going out and collecting some of the “new with X and Y” Pokemon to transfer over when the time is ripe… just in case I go insane and decide I need to fill out the National Pokedex again.  Nintendo has also put up a guide to collecting all of the mega stones for mega-evolutions.  It is a downloadable PDF file.  While the whole mega evolution aspect of Pokemon X and Y wasn’t a big deal to me, I might as well complete the set while I have the chance.

I will have to go through the guide book for Pokemon X and Y to see if there are any other things I ought to do before the new versions come out.  I always buy the official guide.  It isn’t strictly necessary to get through the main story line… though if you put the game down for a few weeks, it can help you regain your orientation when you return… but for activities outside of the main story the official guide can be invaluable.  And while, in this day and age, there is always some place online where you can find the information for free, I have a good deal of fun sitting in bed or on the couch or someplace else away from my computer and leafing through the book, looking up where to find a particular item or Pokemon, and then running off to get it.  The key bit there is “away from my computer” where I spend most of my time.

So clearly some excitement is building within me for the new release.  Even looking at the map they have put up of the Hoenn region makes me happy.

Hoenn region revamped

Hoenn region revamped

I can practically see the story laid out there and all of the places I will go.

Of course, if I really wanted to get myself ready for the possibility of another run at the National Pokedex, I would get out my copy of Pokemon White and finish that up.  That would give me access to a pile of Pokemon in that game as well as being the only route to move some of my rares from Pokemon SoulSilver, where I did the National Pokedex, into the current generation of games on the Nintendo 3Ds platform.

I am just not sure if I can go back to the old sprite based graphics.  Pokemon X and Y may have spoiled me in that regard.

What is the “Go To” Site for Your Game? August 24, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in blog thing, entertainment.
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I often mention, and link to, Feldon and his site EQ2 Wire when writing about EverQuest II.

EQ2WireLogo

For me, that is the “go to” site for information and analysis of what is going on with the game.  And that is all the site focuses on, so there is nothing else there to get in the way.

As a site, because of its focus, it helps me keep in touch with a game that I might otherwise have drifted well away from.  Not that drifting away would be a bad thing, and sometimes I think I ought to just let it go as the songs says.  But I remain an interested observer for a game that was once my main focus.

I like having such a site available, all the more so when it focuses on a game I play.  Back in the day Allakhazam used to be the “go to” site for EverQuest, though once it became a commercial site (owned by gold sellers at one point) it lost some of its edge and relevance, so today it is barely good for press releases.

And with World of Warcraft there is always WoW Insider.  Its main problem is that, as another commercial site, it has to publish daily, even if there is nothing to say.  They can’t just say, “no news today.”  And they also live in the shadow of Blizzard itself, which does a good job of putting information out on its own site, such that if you follow the official feed something like WoW Insider can feel redundant.

But for most MMOs I don’t really have a “go to” site that I know and trust.  I can always get the press release over at Massively.  If I want to know about NCsoft’s financials or the latest updates for Runescape, MMO Fallout has me covered.  And I suppose I have double coverage for EVE Online with TMC and EN24, though I don’t feel that either site covers the game as well as they could for various political/editorial reasons.  TMC covers a lot of other stuff these days, while EN24 spends a lot of time regurgitating blog posts. (Including my own for a while, because ISK.)

But for dedicated coverage for Rift or GuildWars 2 or EverQuest, or any number of other MMOs, I don’t really have a place to go aside from the official sites, which can be very hit an miss, or sites that cover a lot of games, in which case things often get lost in the blur.

So today I am wondering what site you go to for coverage of your chosen MMO.  What sites will that niche for the various games?

Are We All in the Draenor Beta Yet? August 23, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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Congratulations, you’ve been selected to participate in the beta test of World of Warcraft®: Warlords of Draenor™!

So said the email that arrived earlier this week.

Some war chiefs

Some war chiefs squeeze into the picture…

Yes, nearly two months after the beta started (but more than two months before it goes live), the net appears to have been cast wide for testers.  At the same time I got the email, one also came for my daughter’s account and two other people I know also got an invite this past week.  All we have in common is being subscribed, opting in for betas on Battle.net, and having pre-ordered the expansion.

You can download the client now! Be ready to log in to the game from Friday, June 27, at 2:00 PM PDT, when new content will be available to play.

As a beta test participant, you’ll experience the new content and features of Warlords of Draenor before the expansion is released. Over the course of testing, you’ll venture through the Dark Portal, establish your Garrison, and fight back against the Iron Horde!

Install is pretty easy now too.  The new Blizzard Battle.net combined launcher keeps track of your installs for you and will pull new ones down.  So if you have been given beta access, there are no codes or anything, you just select the beta and tell it to install.

Install now... or wait?

Install now… or wait?

My daughter was, of course, dying to install it on her system.  I, on the other hand, am debating my usual pattern of averting my eyes from anything I’ve already decided on.  I’ve pre-purchased the expansion, so I am going to play, there is no doubt.  Do I spoil that first day of discovery in November by running around in the expansion now?

For now I think I am going to stick to my plan.  I have a project under way in Azeroth already, so I am not starving for some new content.  I think it is best to keep things fresh.

I will just have to try not to listen to my daughter too much.  She is very excited about the new character models and she keeps trying to tell me about garrisons.

Better put on my headphones.

Savior of Blaugust – That Video Game Questionnaire Thing August 22, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Ancient Gaming, entertainment.
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In which I again prove I am old and grumpy.

Blaugust is past the three week point.  You can see all the posts piling up over in our little corner of Anook, with more than 500 submitted at this point.  People are putting in the effort.

Blagust_No_BR

For somebody like me with a routine,a  pattern, a plan (I already know what I am posting 5 of 7 days next week, even if I haven’t written more than a title for most of them yet), and incredibly low standards (I’d rather write something than write something good as I theoretically get better with each post, right?), the addition of a few more posts in a month isn’t such a big deal.  Go look down the side bar to the archives menu.  I already effectively write one post a day most months as it is.  It is just a matter of spreading them around.

But the strain is beginning to show for some.  Somebody without a plan, for whom each day is a blank slate and an empty text editor, and who has standards they feel they need to maintain, this sort of sustained effort can be a trial.  Or so it seems.  I’m the guy with a plan and no standards after all.  Anyway, it has been a voyage of discover for some and a pain for others.

But a lifeline has been thrown to the Blaugust team, in the form of a video game questionnaire.  Jaysla over at Cannot Be Tamed has put together 21 questions for people to answer on their blogs, and the Blaugust team has gone for this like a drowning man grabbing for a… lifeline… I already used that metaphor, didn’t I?  See, complete crap.

Anyway, in the spirit of community spirit… or something… I too shall take the quiz, as well as linking out others who have taken the quiz in that community spirity spirit thing which I mention so recently in this run-on sentence.  Also, it allows me to be grumpy, pick nits, write about stuff as far as 40 years in the past, link back to a bunch of old posts where I covered bits of this in detail, and generally ramble on in my accustomed Friday fashion.  My previously planned Pokemon piece will be moved out to next week.

Others who have taken the quiz, some of whom aren’t even in Blaugust, but I am feeling expansive today:

And that is surely not all, just the ones I could find easily.  I will add more as they pop up.

As for my own answers, I am hiding those after the cut.  The whole thing is kind of long, there are pictures, I get a bit testy about a couple of the questions, there is a moment of sexual innuendo, and the whole ends up being something best hidden in the back room so that random passers by don’t inadvertently see it.

This is a choice, what will you choose?

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Two Shy in Terokkar Forest August 21, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
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The chase for the Loremaster title continues in Outland.  Having decided to go through the unfinished zones the hard way, at level with a character new to each zone, it was time to get started.  My rogue, Trianis, ran through some of Hellfire Peninsula in order to gear up a bit and get to level 62 so that quests would be available, then headed into Terokkar Forest.

Map of Terokkar Forest

Map of Terokkar Forest

I will start off by stipulating that everything I bitched about while doing Bloodmyst Isle is present in Terokkar Forest as well; too many “kill 12 things” quests, the “kill 12 things” quests where there are only 15 things so if two people are trying to do the quest you start to hate each other, horrible drop rates for quests that require drops, having to run back and forth across the zone, being sent to kill minions and running back to the quest giver only to be told you now have to kill the boss behind all the now respawned minions, too many quests available to the player at one so that any story thread gets lost, and at least three escort quests where the NPC seems to actively seek out hostiles.

It is all there in the Blizzard of 2007, “People like quest? Then we will drown them in quests!” vision of how to make an MMO.

As I have said before, I have pretty much bought into Blizzard’s more recent vision of how to do a zone, where they limit you to two or three quests at a time to keep the story clear, pop up the “kill the boss” quest right then and there once you have killed the minions (or at least put the minions in combat with some of your allies so you don’t have to clear the field every time you need to pass through), and do not rely quite so heavily  “go kill a dozen foozles while we figure out where to send you next” mechanics.

And before you ask, no I don’t hate The Burning Crusade.  It has/had some of the best dungeon content in the game.  The instance group had quite a time there.  It is just the solo, overland quest philosophy that aches now even more than it did back then.

Anyway, all of that is there and… at least from this point forward… I will try not to dwell on those aspects of the zone.  They were at least mitigated by having access to a flying mount (though I started to yearn for the faster mounts after a few round trips) and playing through with a rogue who could at least stealth through bad guys at need.

So on to the zone… after the cut.

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