Category Archives: World of Warcraft

My MMO Outlook for 2015

Another of those regular end of the year posts where I either try to reflect on the past or peer into the future.

I don’t do this post every year, but once in a while I am driven to it for one reason or another.  Last year it was because I could come up with five good candidates for what new things I might be playing in 2014.

Granted, one of them was a new expansion, Warlords of Draenor, rather than a new game.  But at least I had four potential new games.

Okay, three potential new games, since I had EverQuest Next on the list, and that was beyond a long shot even a year ago.

Or maybe really two potential new games, since Landmark, still burdened with the EverQuest handle at that point, was also on the list.  Sure, it was available to the public, for a price.  And I even played with it a couple of times.  But it isn’t even feature complete yet, so SOE calling it beta is purely a political move.

And that will be... December?

And that will be… when?

There simply wasn’t enough “there” there to call it a game.

But there were two potentials, two new games coming in 2014 that raised enough interest in me that I could imagine myself perhaps playing them.  The were The Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar.

And I did not play either of those.  I downloaded the beta for TESO, and while it felt like it had an Elder Scrolls vibe, an opinion based entirely on my few hours of playing Skyrim, which shouldn’t be viewed as being at all definitive, it did not really enchant me.  I was more interested in whether or not it and WildStar could pull off the monthly subscription model and last through to the end of the year without going F2P.  They made it, though things look grim for WildStar on that front.

So, in the end, I played one game on my list, which was just an expansion to a game I was already playing and which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year.  I also played EVE Online, which passed the 11 year mark this year, and started in again on EverQuest II, another title in the double digit age range at this point.

I suppose I could throw War Thunder on the list, but that really isn’t an MMO in the sense I mean.  That, and World of Tanks are more lobby based battle match making games than persistent world.  I did take another shot at Star Wars: The Old Republic, but that passed quickly.  I’ve already spent more time in EverQuest II this week than I did in SWTOR all year.

So that was my year in MMOs  2014 was completely rooted in old standards.

And, as I sit here, it looks like that might be the way 2015 rolls, all old school.  Gaff, having patched up EQII and then balked at how dated it feels… and it does feel dated, though for me that is part of the charm… is talking a bit about Lord of the Rings Online.  But I don’t think LOTRO is going to win many points on the fresh-O-meter either.

I cannot, at this moment, bring to mind any new titles for 2015 that I might play.

Sure, I could go do a bit of research and come up with a few.  I know there has to be a few persistent, virtual world-like, MMORPGs slated for 2015, but I figure that if I do not know them without a Google search, then they are unlikely candidates at best.

Yes, I could put up a list like:

  • Landmark
  • EverQuest Next
  • Camelot Unchained
  • Shroud of the Avatar
  • Star Citizen

But I am not feeling it for Landmark really, and of the other four we might see something really playable (not just a badly branded open play test or bits and pieces) from Shroud of the Avatar or Camelot Unchained by next December, given the current state of progress.  Might as well just save those for the 2016 list.  I’m not really interested in doing beta any more.

So there it stands.  My likely slate of MMOs for 2015 appears to be:

  • World of Warcraft
  • EVE Online
  • EverQuest II

Not that such a list is bad.  As long as I am enjoying my time playing, it doesn’t matter if I am playing something new of something I started playing a decade back. And, at least in the case of EVE Online, it is an exciting time to be in the game as things are changing.  But after years of being able to name at least some new stuff coming in the next calendar year, it seems a bit odd to only be looking at the same things for 2015.

Of course, the golden age of the big MMO launch seems to have passed.  It has been a while since there was a list of strong candidates.  The market is too crowded, there are an almost unbelievable number of second or third tier titles, and going forward we seem to be entering the age of the niche title that focuses on a specific strength catering to a specific demographic.

Or so it seems.  I might have missed something.  Is there a new title coming in 2015 I ought to be excited about?  Is there one that you are excited about?

Addendum: And now that I have written this, Massively has a “what are you looking forward to in 2015” post with a list of titles… and most of the staff mention Landmark or EverQuest Next or both.  Their poll lumps the two together in a blatant display of SOE bias. (And the two titles together are still losing to Camelot Unchained, though Mark Jacobs is all over the comment thread, so he might have called out the cavalry.)

Reviewing my Predictions for 2014

Here we are, racing towards yet another new year.  We have gotten into the holidays, a mass of releases and updates have hit so far during November and December, and even another Steam Holiday sale has come and gone.  That was their Holiday sale, right?

It is about time to look back to January and a list of half-ass predictions, most of which I pulled out of… well… my ass.

DruidWoW2014_450pxYou can find the full predictions post here, along with reactions to what I predicted in the comments.  I am not going to quote all of it here, but I will try to get most of the relevant bits in.

I – Ship Dates

When I figured things might land.  10 points each with 2 points removed for each week I was off, plus 10 extra points if any of the names I came up with were used.  None were.

  • Hearthstone – April 1 –  Actual: April 16, 6 points
  • The Elder Scrolls Online – April 22 – Actual: April 4, 4 points
  • EVE Online 2014 expansions – (working names Excursions and Magellan) May 13 & November 18 – Actual: They changed their whole expansion method, and didn’t use my names, 0 points
  • WildStar – June 10 – Actual: June 3, 8 points
  • Warlords of Draenor – September 9 – Actual: November 14, 0 points… but I was a lot closer than most back in January!
  • EverQuest Landmark – October 15 – Actual: Despite being called beta, this is still pre-alpha development and nowhere near live, 0 points
  • StarCraft: Legacy of the Void – October 15 – Actual: Ha ha, is Blizzard ever going to ship this?  0 points
  • EverQuest II expansion #10 (working name Cheese of the Ratonga) – November 4 – Actual: November 25, 4 points
  • LEGO Minifigures Online – November 4 – Actual: October 1, 2 points
  • EverQuest expansion #21 (working name Return of Lady Vox) – November 25 – Actual: November 11, 6 points

Point total: 30 out of 100, no bonus points

II – Missed Dates

Project I said would not ship in 2014, and by ship I mean live, no “beta” tag, real and honest to goodness shipped.  10 points for each, pass/fail.

  • EverQuest Next
  • Heroes of the Storm
  • Line of Defense
  • Lord British’s Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtue
  • World of Warships

Not one went live.  Hell, EverQuest Next isn’t even a bare-bones pre-alpha yet.  I’ll be putting that one in the 2016 basket going forward.  The rest… it was not unreasonable to expect them  Shroud of the Avatar, as an example, listed October 2014 in its Kickstarter.

Point total: 50 out of 50

III – Changes, Offers, and Upsets

Predictions about things that would come to pass in 2014.  Each is worth 10 points, with partial credit for things that are close.

  • World of Warcraft will report a small boost in subscriptions for Q4 2013 based on BlizzCon and Warlords of Draenor.  Subs will then resume a slow down trend until the expansion ships.

Mostly right.  There was a surge at the end of the third quarter that seemed to buck that trend.  Three out of four quarters right though, 7 points.

  • Blizzard will announce that WoW subscribers will get special benefits in Hearthstone.

Well, we got a mount for playing.  I am giving myself half credit on that.  5 points.

  • Blizzard’s World of Warcraft 10 year anniversary gift will be a mount for those subscribers who log in during the right time frame.

No, it is only another pet.  The whole mount/chopper thing was another gig, and I am not all that happy on that front.  0 points.

  • Blizzard’s insta-90 option will be available as a service for $35 by December of 2014.

The service is available… remember, it wasn’t even a thing in January… but the price is $60.  5 points.

  • SOE’s naming decision with EverQuest Next and EverQuest Next Landmark will come back to haunt them with some headline grabbing rage as people outside of the hardcore fan circles download Landmark and discover that this was not the game they were expecting.  One (or both) of the products will end up with a new name.

Oh, hey, EverQuest Next Landmark is now just Landmark.  Not a completely new name, but enough for 3 points I think.

  • ArenaNet will slow down their continuous content update plan and announce they are working on an expansion for GuildWars 2.  Off the record, Anet will report that their master’s in Seoul demanded this.

It isn’t clear to me where this is headed.  There was a cut back on the living story for a bit, but now that is back.  On the other hand, there is also something more than a rumor about Anet working on an expansion for 2015.  0 points.

  • WildStar will be off to the races with a smooth launch and a huge initial spike, but it will fall into the dread “three monther” category as subscriptions will trail off dramatically.

This wasn’t really a stretch, but it feels like WildStar dumped hard on the subscriber front, with the usual NCsoft treatment; big layoffs.  How long until the second NCsoft shoe drops and it gets cancelled?  10 points.

  • The Elder Scrolls Online will have a rocky launch, starting with a delay for the PC side of the house.  But the game will manage to capture enough of the Elder Scrolls franchise to sustain the game, making it one of the rare recent MMORPGs, one that doesn’t peak in the first month and go downhill from there.

Yeah, shipped on time, things were a bit rocky, but subscribers seem to have faded as well.  0 points.

  • WildStar will announce plans to move to a free to play model before the end of the year.

Hasn’t happened… yet.  But clearly there is talk and rumor of problems and low subscription numbers.  The real question will probably end up being will NCsoft allow them to change business model… possibly good money after bad in the eyes of Seoul… pare them back to profitability, or just put a bullet in them in 2015?  0 points for me.

  • The Elder Scrolls Online will not budge on to the monthly subscription model in 2013.

Well, at least I won on that.  I suspect that no major change will come to their business model until the console versions ship… some day.  10 points.

  • Turbine will remove the 500 Turbine Points per month stipend from Lifetime subscriber accounts in Lord of the Rings Online.

They actually did not do this.  The future of the game is dim as Turbine tries to jump on yesterday’s bandwagon (MOBAs) looking for a cash cow, but they left us lifetime subscribers alone.  0 points.

  • Turbine’s Gift of the Valar insta-level option will be revised after the trial run.  The new version, with a new name, will boost players at least 10 additional levels and include all of the pre-Helm’s Deep expansions.

Nope.  Once Turbine comes up with a half-assed idea, they stick with it.  0 points.

  • With no support/budget for any raise in the level cap featuring fully voiced content, Star Wars: The Old Republic will follow on the Galactic Starfighter mini-game with more of the same.  First up will be Droid Battles.  Somewhat akin to Pokemon and WoW Pet Battles, to which it will be immediately compared, it will be far more focused on upgrading parts and abilities on a small set of droid models.  Cosmetic options for droids, as well as special models, will be the cash shop aspect of this feature.

Again, no biscuit.  SWTOR even got a level cap increase, which I guess means more fully voiced content.  I still think the Droid Battles is a great idea though.  0 points.

  • CCP will announce new areas of space to explore, as they have hinted at since Rubicon.  The new areas will be a cross between null sec and wormhole space.  Local chat will work like W-space and there won’t be any sovereignty.  You get to keep the space you can hold.  But there will be none of the mucking about with wormhole stability.  Jump gates will be the mode of travel.  And this new area of space will be just our of capital ship jump range.

You know, I was almost on to something with this, compared with what Rhea ended up giving us.  Maybe a little something for the effort?  2 points?

  • CCP will severely restrict drone assist in 2014.  However, it will be done in typical CCP fashion and will pretty much break drones for all purposes until they do a big drone revamp as part of the second 2014 expansion.

They nerfed drone assist, but they did it in the other typical CCP fashion and put a quick band-aid on it then walked away while various devs denied it was them who touched it last.  5 points.

  • Funcom will finally have an unequivocal success with the launch of LEGO Minifigures Online.

Erm… I couldn’t tell you really, which I guess means no.  Plus, the usual “failed to meet expectations” talk from them.  Couldn’t even win with LEGO.  0 points.

  • The inevitable rough ride for Chris Roberts will come when Star Citizen needs to start generating revenue beyond the donations of the faithful and features begin to get trimmed down to a more realistic target.  It doesn’t mean that the game(s) won’t be good, but they won’t be everything ever promised by Chris Roberts.  That will make a few big spenders rage.

Nope, Chris Roberts is still out there selling the full on dream that Star Citizen will be everything any fan boy has ever projected on the title, with the addition of space bonsai.  Granted, it helps that nothing substantial has shipped, just a couple of teaser modules.  0 points.

  • The Brad McQuaid “challenging epic planar high fantasy” Kickstarter won’t fund if he asks for more than $500,000.  I just don’t think he has the reputation/following of Mark Jacobs or Lord British.

Pretty much on the money.  If he had asked for $500K he would have made it.  10 points.

  • 2014 will be the year of the “insta-level” option for “levels” focused MMOs successful enough to ship an expansion that boosted the level cap… which, honestly, isn’t that many games when I think about it.  I will count this as fulfilled if I get EverQuest and Rift and one other game.

Fulfilled.  Even Funcom has something for Age of Conan running now. 10 points.

  • The near-ubiquity of free to play as an option for MMORPGs will start to take its toll on those games for which “it’s crap, but it’s free!” was the prime competitive advantage.  Expect to see more than half a dozen Asian imports fold up shop in North America in 2014.

First on the list appeared to be, Lunia, then Legends of Edda, then ArchLord, then Wizardry Online, then Rusty Hearts, and finally… crap, I couldn’t find a sixth.

I bet there is one out there.

I thought somebody said RF Online was going down, but the site is still up.  And I keep expecting Silk Road Online to falter and die.  I suspect it is sustained by the mistaken belief that you can buy drugs there.  Still, close enough for, say, 7 points.

74 out of 200 points.  The future is murky at best when you lack actual, first hand knowledge.

IV – Scoring

  • 30 out of 100 in the first section
  • 50 out of 50 points in the second
  • 74 out of 200 points round up the third

That gives me 154 points of out 350, which would be a failing grade in most classes I took in college.  That psych class with the hilariously altered curve might be the one exception.

On the other hand, getting as much right as I did… and I could have spun the news to make myself seem more on target than I was, but I chose to be conservative on that front… would clearly put me amongst the ranks of those such as Jeane Dixon.  I could re-brand as The MMO Psychic!

Now I have a couple of weeks to bend my mind once again towards the future for a January 1st post.

V – Predictions of Others

Of course, I wasn’t the only one to hang it out there and make some wild guesses about the future.  I counted the following blogs jumping on the futurist bandwagon in one form or another:

While it isn’t a competition, it is always interesting to see what comes to pass. (Their own prediction reviews linked as well, where available.)

The Great Installation

After the hardware mess of Thanksgiving week, I was presented with a new challenge… or a new opportunity if you prefer.

I had to figure out what to games to install.  This was something of a test, as it determined what games I really want to play and which I keep around “just in case.”

The first two were easy, as they are games I have been actively playing on a daily basis.

World of Warcraft
Of course WoW had to get installed.  Warlords of Draenor is still new and reasonably fresh and my friends and family are playing.  An install from scratch wasn’t too bad either.  I don’t use many addons and I do not modify the UI much.  Even so, I was surprised at how much the game saves on the server side of things.  I only had to make a couple of tweaks and download a few addons and I was back and running.

EVE Online
EVE Online is the other one that was a no brainer, a game that appears on the “Games I Play” section of the side bar of the blog.  Getting EVE installed was quicker than WoW, there being simply less assets to download.  I think WoW was 24GB while EVE was less than 8GB.  But after the install was another story.

There are a lot of finicky little settings that EVE stores on your system.  I spent a lot of time fiddling with chat channels and the overview and what appears on the Neocom bar and so on.  Every warning or alert that I ever dismissed and told never to bother me again is back and live.  And so many notifications.  I had this about under control and then CCP launched the Rhea expansion this week and all the icons changed.

Not that the changes were necessarily bad… I no longer think “what does the Pentagon have to do with the market?” when I go to buy something.

Visual closure does it...

Visual closure does it…

But learning the new icons at a point in time when they were also mixed up from the order I was used to wasn’t helping me much.  And logging into my alt restarted that whole process.  At least there is a utility out there to copy settings from one account to another, so once I have my main set, my alt can be molded in its image.  I’m just not sure when my main will be set.

Installing EVE also meant installing a few helper programs, like EVE Mon, the GARPA Topographical Survey, and EVE Fitting Tool.  That’s the way things roll in New Eden.

With those two installed and running, the question of what else makes the cut came up.  The next choice was actually easy.

Steam
Technically not a game, but it enables the ability to play a lot of games.  I have around 120 in my library, though 40 of those were from the time I bought every PopCap title during a Steam sale because I wanted Peggle. The price for everything was the same as the Peggle list price.

Of course, with Steam installed, I had a long list of choices.  From them I chose:

Total War: Rome II
The current staple of our somewhat on hiatus Friday night group.

Defense Grid 2
The fruits of a Kickstarter campaign.  I still have a few levels to get through.

Shroud of the Avatar
Another Kickstarter game.  This one is hardly done yet, as the large yellow letters at the top of the window indicate.  But Lord British has put the whole thing on Steam now, so I can let that take care of keeping it up to date rather than the native installer/patcher, which has been a bit wonky.  And it relieves me of having yet another set of log on credentials to remember.

And that was about it for Steam.  Just three games.  I will probably install Civilization V again at some point when I get the urge to play, and maybe War Thunder, but I didn’t feel the need for either right away.

After those, I only installed one more game.

EverQuest II
I have been telling myself for a while now that I am going to go back and play EQII again for a bit.  I have some nostalgia welling, what with the 10 year anniversary and all.  There is a whole post exploring HOW I should go about that in progress, probably for next week.  But in order to get there I have to have the game installed.  Fortunately, I long ago gave up on modifying the UI for the game, so the defaults were pretty much what I was working with already.

And that was pretty much it, which leaves some games I write about, or claim I pay attention to, not on my system.

Those not installed included:

EverQuest
The high holy of games when it comes to nostalgia, I am so lost and so out of touch with the live game and the current expansion that there is little point in my installing the game.  At some point, if SOE decides they are going to create another progression server or farm nostalgia in some similar fashion, I may go back.  But for now I am out.

Lord of the Rings Online
I think it is time to admit that there has been a parting of the ways between myself and LOTRO.  Buying a Lifetime subscription to the game was the best MMO deal ever for me, and I got my money’s worth and then some out of it.  But after the last class revamp I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back and relearn the game.  Add in the fact that I haven’t been more than a few steps beyond the far side of Moria in all these years, and it might be time to admit I am done.

Rift
While I loved the original game and the instance group made their home there for a while, the Storm Legion expansion never clicked with me.  While their free to play model is the most generous around, I still have no real desire to go back and play, much less so with Trion’s Glyph client now a requirement.

There is also a pretty long list of games I wasn’t really playing or paying much attention to, which did not get installed again.

  • World of Tanks – Haven’t played it in ages
  • GuildWars 2 – Never really clicked with me, plus I lost all my account info
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic – Gave it a run again earlier this year, but never really got into it
  • Need for Speed: World – Our some-time driving game diversion, haven’t logged in for over a year
  • Diablo III – Played through it twice, liked it post patch, but not enough to play again
  • Path of Exile – Was a good Diablo clone, better than D3 probably, but network issues chased me away a long time back
  • Torchlight II – Since I am listing the other pretenders to the Diablo throne, in the end this was the most disappointing of the three, as Runic released it then pretty much walked away
  • Neverwinter – Home for our group for a bit, not a bad game, but down the priority list
  • PlanetSide 2 – I tried this at launch, but it quickly became a hack-fest, so haven’t been back since
  • Dragon’s Prophet – SOE’s Asian flavor of the month, didn’t really hook me

That is about the state of my games right now.  I suppose this leaves me plenty of room to install whatever great stuff shows up in 2015.

In Search of Hypnocroak

There were only four of us on last Saturday night, Earlthecat, Skronk, Bigbut, and myself, playing as Tokarev.

That meant postponing the question from last time, how will Draenor work out for a part of five playing through, to embrace the question of the moment, which was how will Draenor work out for a party of four playing through that doesn’t want to get too far ahead of a fifth member who is out for the week.

Skronk, who had been thinking of this in advance, suggested that we roam Shadowmoon Valley in search of rares and whatever else we might encounter.  That sounded like a reasonable plan, so we ran with it.

We met up right outside of the garrison border line and hit that “suggested three player but you can probably solo it” Elekk quest that is right there.  Knocking that out, we moved on into the zone.

Initially we were following Skonk, who was looking for rare locations in a browser window while we roamed hither and yon.  After a bit I grabbed an addon, MyRareFinder, that marks all the rares on your map and marks them off once you have killed them. (They are only good for one pass, after which they are just regular mobs.)

MyRareFinder map

MyRareFinder map

Of course, in an age of all ground travel, having something marked on the map doesn’t automatically mean you know how to get there.  In fact, I am beginning to suspect that we won’t get flying mounts in Draenor for a long while as Blizzard clearly spent some time making things a bit tricky when traveling on ground mounts.

In the north of the zone mobs were on one plateau or another and we had to find the right path.

At the Anguish Fortress, which was guarded by a forcefield because none of had done that quest with Khadgar yet, we had to find our way around into the place through a back door in order to get to Voidseer Kalurg.

Levitate let us drop right in on him

Levitate let us drop right in on him

I wonder if, when I do get to that quest, if I can just tell Khadgar that forcefield is no big deal because the Iron Horde left the back door open?

But our biggest challenge of the night was getting to the rare named Hypnocroak.  He isn’t just a Futurama reference, he is also a jumping puzzle, and one it took us a while to find.

We went to the spot on the map where his location is marked, which is up on a plateau, in a lake.  However, he was nowhere to be seen, though we could, when in the correct position, see his icon on the mini map.

The lake had a waterfall at one end that led down to another water area.  Standing at the edge of the waterfall, however, put his icon on the mini map behind us.  So we decided he must be behind the waterfall.

The waterfall

The waterfall

Standing on the edge of the waterfall, we thought we could just glimpse a cave opening.  I tried to see if I could get to it by dropping first onto the trunk of a tree sticking out from the waterfall, then jump to the mouth of the cave.  That did not quite work out as I expected.

Tokarev, dead on the rocks behind the waterfall

Tokarev, dead on the rocks behind the waterfall

But from there I could at least see the cave.  It was also clear that the cave was situated in a way to prevent us from dropping in from above.  Instead, we would have to reach the cave from below via a jumping puzzle.

Another corpse on the rocks

Another corpse on the rocks

As it turned out, I fell to my death at just about a perfect spot, as it marked the point you had to get to on one of the rocks in order to be able to successfully jump to the next. A death not in vain.

Scrambling and jumping and falling and trying again, I managed to bull my way up and into the cave without really being able to describe how I did it.

Looking down from the cave

Looking down from the cave

Earl made it up next, then Bigbut managed the last jump and was up in the cave as well, which left only Skronk working his way up.  And he was having problems, to the point that we were beginning to discuss whether or not this was a short race issue.  As the dwarf in a group with two Draenei and a human, Skronk was at a serious height deficit.

Eventually though, he was able to get past the two big jumps, which were really all that was standing in his way.  With a dwarf you have to time them just right.  So he made it up and we were able to slay Toxicroak.  His loot was a toy that lets you hypnotize critters so that they will follow you around.

The group in the mouth of the cave

The group in the mouth of the cave

From there, Skronk hit us all with levitate again and we were able to cruise on down to the water below and float to our next objective.

Levitation party

Levitation party

Levitate is kind of a creepy way to travel.  You just adopt a casual pose and float off in the direction you’re headed.  There is no look of “I’m moving” on your character.  It is, rather, one of some indifference.

From there we went on to hunt down a few more rares.

They all have their own special gimmick

They all have their own special gimmick

But it wasn’t much long before I called it a night.  We managed to find some rares, we all added a follower to our garrison, and we at least picked up the quest chain that unlocks the level 2 town hall upgrade, though we did not finish it up.  I went and did that the next day and ran the upgrade.

No a bad evening.  We will see if we can get back to the party of five next time.

Five More Small Fixes for WoW

Whenever I am playing a game for an sort of extended period, especially when it is my main focus, I start mentally building up a list of gripes, the little things that, while not game breakers in any way, start to annoy me or get on my nerves.

And when I get five that stick in my brain at the same time… which can be the main challenge, as my short-term memory like a sieve… I write a blog post.  So here we are, five small… and probably non-controversial… changes I would like to see in WoW.

Free the First Bag!

There was a time when that first bag, with its 16 slots, was the anchor of all of our bag space needs.  There was no worry about having to replace it because 16 slot bags were rare and expensive.  I remember feeling great joy at having one of those old school, 16 slot, travelers backpacks drop way back when.  That was huge.

That was also at least seven years ago.

Since then we have gotten netherweave bags (16 slots), and frostweave bags (20 slots), and embersilk bags (22 slots), and probably something in Pandaria, plus quest reward bags and boss drops bags, which has pushed the 16 slot bag from a object of intense desire to a default, baseline item.

We haven’t hit the bag slot nirvana of EverQuest II and 90 slot bags, but 16 slot bags are pretty ho-hum these days.  They are the stuff of uncared for alts.  On my regularly played characters, that 16 slot first bag is the smallest bag they are carrying and, in the case of Vikund, my main of mains, the smallest bag he owns.

So I would like to be able to replace it.  Or upgrade it.  Or, Blizzard, if you just want to spread the love universally, make it a 20 or 24 slot bag.

Larger Quest Log

I know, I know, we got an quest log upgrade from 20 to 25 quests back with the 2.0 patch for The Burning Crusade.  I am sure that seems like just yesterday for some. But I also know people who have forgotten that the cap used to be 20 quests.

And I’ve gotten by pretty well with the 25 quest cap, especially since Blizzard started doling out quests in smaller batches at each quest hub.  25 was barely enough in Outland, where you could vacuum up a dozen quests at a time.  But Blizzard has balanced that out some since then.

At least until now.  Juggling garrison quests, zone quests, holiday quests, and whatever else shows up, I have managed to bump into the “quest log full” error a couple of times in Warlords of Draenor.  It hasn’t come up often, a couple of times at most, but I am generally brutal about deleting or not picking up quests before I need to.  It is unusual for me to hit the quest cap.

So I am wondering if it might be time to bump the limit up to 30?  I mean, we got five more quests the last time we came to Draenor.  It seems appropriate to get five more now.

That Ramp in Thunder Bluff

I have been admiring my daughter’s Horde garrison, which she describes as ‘put spikes on all the things!”  So I started looking at my own Horde characters to see who I might be able to level up eventually.  The closest to Draenor is a Tauren druid in his mid-60s.

I went to log him in, just to see where he stood.  I could actually send him a bit of heirloom gear and probably level him up quickly enough, once I get around to it.

He was in Thunder Bluff, where I tend to hang out as Horde when possible, but I wanted to fly him over to Orgrimmar.  So I mounted him up on his Horde chopper and headed towards the flight point at the top of the central spiral, only to be dismounted on the way up.

Had to hoof it up here!

Had to hoof it up here!

I had forgotten about that, and how annoying it can be.  There used to be a similar scenario in Stormwind, which Blizzard fixed about four years ago.  So I was wondering if we could get that same fix for my Tauren brothers and sisters.

Dismount Me

Another of those “fixed years ago” things was having to dismount to do any number of things.  Blizzard changed things so that we wouldn’t get that “You are mounted” error when we tried to take a flight or use a vehicle for a quest and so on.  And, for the most part that fix seems to have been good.  It probably fixed 95% of the occurrences of this issue.

But there is still that five percent.  And it isn’t just in the new content.  I got an error about being mounted while trying to accept a special ride in my garrison.  While this is the weakest of my five gripes, I still wonder if somebody at Blizz couldn’t go look into this, or at least make sure devs are following whatever best practices are required to make sure that old, old fix for this applies.

Stop Making Me Delete Things

This is actually one that has bugged me for quite a while, but was brought home to me again with the 10 year anniversary gift.   We got the Molten Corgi pet, which was one per account.  However, Blizzard gleefully mails it to every character on your account the moment you log them in.  So after the first time you redeem it, the rest of your characters get a useless bit of bag filler.

FRMoltenCorgiYou cannot do anything with it, save delete it… or stow it away just in case something changes.  And, of course, deleting the item is accompanied by the ominous “Are you sure? Please type out ‘DELETE’ to do so” dialog.

This has always struck me as wrong, handing me something where the only option is to waste bag space or delete it.  And this goes for gear and toys and whatever else, and has led me to hang on to items “just in case” Blizzard changes their mind on this.  So, in my bank I found I still had this.

FROnyxiaWhelpThe Onyxian Whelpling, that was the five year anniversary gift.  He pre-dates shared pets, but wasn’t destroyed on use so you could pass it to alts as they came along.  I also saw Mr. Chilly sitting in my bank as well.

I am not sure what the best answer is here.  For some of the gear items, just let me vendor them.  But would that work out for things like the Molten Corgi?  All I know for sure is deleting them is counter to my instincts.

 

Nagrand – The Moment

There I was last night, turning in a quest when it happened, I made it to level 100 with my first character in Draenor.

Level 100

Level 100

Certainly not the fastest run to 100, but it still seems like it went by pretty quickly, given I how much I dawdled and played other games, plus spending a few days reviving my computer.

One benefit of moving a bit more slowly than some is that I had more time to accumulate garrison resources, so I was able to jump right in and upgrade my Town Hall to level 3.

Garrison Resources and Gold

Garrison Resources and Gold

Now I have a whole bunch of things to unlock and upgrade there.  I have to work on some pets to take on the three battle pets in the garrison, a requirement to unlock the menagerie.  I have a few level 25 pets, but as with Pokemon, you can wander through the world and succeed with any number of combinations, but once you get to a boss-like fight, you need the right set.

A Table for Five in Draenor Please?

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we finally managed to get everybody at home, online, on coms, and in World of Warcraft together, so we could face the specter of how this expansion was going to work out for us.

Chieftain Cheat Sheet

Are you ready?

Of course, we didn’t really have an answer for that, so we did what most people do and started rounding up the details in hopes that the big picture would resolve itself when the time was ripe.

So we spent some time working out who would be playing what in Draenor.  Mike was tired of Bungholio the warlock, a member of the team since we formed up in 2006.  Actually, all the characters on the team have remained static since 2006 except mine, which I am sure says something about somebody.  Anyway, he had his insta-90 option to hand, so we had to run through who might want to play what class and what role.

Nobody really wanted to change roles badly, so Earlthecat remained the tank… and he’ll be fearsome with his Garrosh heirloom sword… and Skronk held onto the healing role, while the rest of us stayed on as DPS.  Chris had Ula and Scsla into Draenor, so she could stick with mage or go with pally power for her character.

I was keen to drop the feral druid… after playing a rogue from scratch to level 88, a feral druid feels like a pale imitation, flight form aside… but haven’t really committed to what I will play.  I could go hunter or I could catch my rogue up to the group.  For the evening though I decided to get out my Draenei death knight, Tokarev to run with the group.

And, after some deliberation and discussions around flexibility, Mike went with a Draenei monk named BigBut.

He isn’t big on the role play compatible names, but I think we had figured that out after Bungholio, Shooty, Chicken, and TruckNut.

Anyway, with that… if not fully decided, at least as settled as it needed to be for the moment… we moved on to the next task, which was just getting into Draenor.  We were not very well  coordinated on that front.  Rather than running through the starter zone together, we ended up strung across various bits of the intro.

Assault all around the Dark Portal

Assault all around the Dark Portal

That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  We all got to go at our own pace.  I, on my third trip through, was probably less interested in the story or the fights than Mike, who was both playing a new class and seeing the story unfold for the first time.  I held back a bit, in case he needed help, but he seemed to be doing okay, so I moved along, catching up to Skronk.

Tokarev and Skronk

Tokarev and Skronk

I was pleasantly surprised that the game did not duplicate our followers for that stage.  I wonder if we each saw the other with different companions.  The game was also less punishing of running solo quests in a group than it has been in past zones.  Not everything counted across the group… we each had to pick up our own pile of weapons at one point… but kills and the like seemed to work.

When we arrived at the final battle, Skronk asked what would happen if we just didn’t shoot anything from the giant tank.  Would the quest fail?  Would the bomb carts destroy us?

Bomb Cart

Bomb Cart

We didn’t quite have the nerve to try.  However, I did test to see what happens if, when you are supposed to run for the docks, you instead take off at a course 90 degrees off from your intended destination.  Once you stray too far, you get teleported all the way back to the dwarven quest giver at the Blackrock Quarry, about twice as far back as seemed necessary.  So now we know.

Eventually I stopped screwing around and, like everybody else, made it to the docks to be whisked away to Shadowmoon Landing and the first “being there” achievement.

TFFWelcomeToDraenor

It occurs to me now that the portal icon on that achievement is green, which was the Burning Crusade portal color, and not red, the Warlords of Draenor portal color.  Where is Red Shirt guy when you need him?

Anyway, we ran off to found our garrisons and what not.

To be built on the spot: A Garrison

To be built on the spot: A Garrison

Everybody landed at least at level 91 by the end of the evening, with level 92 being declared the “do not pass” mark.

So there we were.  Op success.  Mission accomplished.  Live and in Draenor.

But we still do not really have an answer to the big question, how this expansion is going to play out if we try to take it on as a full group.  My own, perhaps ill-formed impression, is that Blizzard has mostly punted on the leveling game and has attempted to move content to the level cap where it will at least stay somewhat relevant to players over the life of the expansion.  I was a bit heartened to see that there were at least a few quests about that recommended you tackle them with three players… or I was heartened until I realized I could solo them despite that recommendation.

So there are things to do, quests to run, rares to stalk and all of that.  But what should a team of five really expect if they want to move through the expansion together?