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?
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.
Warlords of Draenor to be a $60 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s February 25, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: EuroGamer, Insta Levels, Warlords of Draenor
A controversial bit of information slipped out last week when Blizzard accidentally let the “boost to level 90″ option show up in the in-game store at one point during patch day. The error was quickly fixed, but the word was out. WoW Insider had a screen shot indicating that Blizzard was not only officially on-board with insta-levels as a paid character service, but that the price to get to level 90 appeared to be $60.
There were discussions on various sites as to whether that price was right or not and whether it was too much or not enough. Lots of theories were put up that seemed most based on who the assumed audience was for such a service really was.
My gut feeling on the price previously was that it had to be more than any current individual character service… so greater than $25… but less than the cost of the Warlords of Draenor expansion. After all, if you made it more than the price of the expansion, which comes with an insta-90 character boost, why wouldn’t I just buy multiple copies of the expansion to boost multiple characters if the expansion costs less? Since I assumed that the expansion would be the usual $40, I pegged the level boost at $35.
Over in the comment thread at Herding Cats I added in two additional thoughts:
Conspiracy theory: It will be $60 for exactly that reason, to push more WoD boxes to set an expansion sales record.
Fear: This is actually a signal that the expansion will be $60.
Today however, Blizzard has been over talking to EuroGamer about the price point, defending $60 for the insta-level 90 in terms of maintaining the value of leveling up yourself, and one of the first items put out there in the article is that the expansion itself will be $60. [Addendum: As noted in the comments below, EuroGamer has since deleted that from the article without any notice of a correction. Because EuroGamer.]
And my initial response was, “Really? We’re going $60… the defacto price of a new AAA game… for an expansion now?”
The sad part is that I will pay the price anyway. Heck, I was already toying with the idea of the collector’s edition and I never buy the collector’s edition. But with past CE’s being double the price of the standard ($40/$80) I have to wonder if Blizzard is now going to go all the way to $120 for the CE, or just cap it at $99.99 to stay within the realm of sanity. (Said the guy who bought the EVE Online Second Decade Collector’s Edition.)
$60 for an expansion.
On the one hand, you can always argue that I will get at least as much entertainment value out of the expansion as I will from any new AAA game you care mention. On the other hand, I am also paying that subscription fee every month to play, so it isn’t like I am not supporting Blizzard enough as it is.
You charge what you think the market will bear. Of course, into the mix is the fact that expansions aren’t holding their price point nearly as long. Burning Crusade was still $40 a year after it shipped. Mists of Pandaria was on sale at half price a few months after it launched. As I have been trained by Steam sales on this sort of thing, I now have to ask myself if I need the expansion on day one, or if I can wait… as I did with MoP… until the price comes down.
I don’t actually need a level 90. I will easily have three by the time the expansion hits. Maybe they will throw something else in with the pre-order to sweeten the deal a bit. Or maybe I can just think of it as buying the expansion and getting two-thirds off of my first insta-90. ($40 + $20)
What do you think? $60 for an expansion? Even with a level 90 boost?
As for selling the insta-level 90 for $60, I am somewhat indifferent. It isn’t a service I expect to use… I cannot even decide what to do with the one I will get with WoD… and I find any argument about it being too expensive to be more foot stomping than anything else. How much should a level 90 character cost? It is a luxury item after all. And anybody returning to the game who wants a level 90 will likely buy WoD to get one along with the new content.
And what happens when the price of the expansion comes down, as it inevitably will? Eventually Warlords of Draenor will be $40 or $20 on sale and then will end up as part of the World of Warcraft Battle Chest. What happens to insta-90s then? Will Blizz remove the option from the expansion at some point?
I suppose we shall see how this plays out.
Addendum: I like where Ars Technica says “Only 67 cents a level” in their Economic Reality post.
Quote of the Day – More Pessimistic Than I About Draenor February 12, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Quote of the Day, Warlords of Draenor
There’s also no mention of expecting Warlords of Draenor to boost 2014 sales. It feels natural enough to infer that the expansion won’t launch until next year. While this expectation wasn’t exactly uncommon already, it seems at least a little more credible now.
Richard Aihoshi, MMORPG.com post looking at Blizzard’s Q4 financials
The whole post strikes me as working to try and take a negative spin on anything Blizzard said. No doubt there is some link bait appeal for the site in that. (It worked on me.) But I cannot recall anybody saying before that Warlords of Draenor might not ship until 2015. Is that something new? Has that been going about? I mean, I thought people who were calling April for the expansion back during BlizzCon were way off base, but this seems a bit of an excess in the other direction.
Of course, he didn’t say where that expectation wasn’t exactly uncommon, so maybe it wasn’t uncommon in his own mind. That would fit in with his whole post.
No Warlords of Draenor until 2015? Credible or not?
I am sticking with September 9th… of this year.
Tags: Subscription Numbers, Warlords of Draenor
The news is out. My prediction from the beginning of the year actually came to pass. Amazing, right?
There was apparently enough excitement/interest generated by the Warlords of Draenor announcement at BlizzCon that Blizzard saw a small uptick in Word of Warcraft subscriptions in Q4 of 2013.
As part of general good news from Activision-Blizzard, subscription numbers were reported up, going from 7.6 million subscribers to 7.8 million; a small percentage for them, but enough players to float any number of other MMOs into profitability.
Now my prediction went on to say that subscribers would then drain off slowly until the expansion actually shipped. That assumed that Blizzard wouldn’t offer up anything special, being engaged in the Diablo III revamp and expansion plus Hearthstone plus whatever else.
But then Blizzard announced that you would be able to use your insta-90 character boost as soon as you pre-ordered the expansion, and that the pre-orders would be available “soon.” That got people talking about what class to boost. But it also opened up another possibility.
My gut says that if they could get the pre-orders in place by March 1, they have a chance to get another modest increase in subscribers as people come back to see what life is like at level cap. And with those people invested in the expansion, they might be able to hold those increases until the actual ship date… which I still think is further out that many hope.
What do you think? Will Blizzard be able to keep the number steady, or even grow them slightly, between now and whenever Warlords of Draenor ships?
The Mighty Insta-90 Question – Which Class to Boost? January 24, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, polls, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Classes, Rambling Friday, Warlords of Draenor
The question of the hour in our guild is, “What class should I level up to 90 with the Warlords of Draenor expansion?” For some of us, it represents an opportunity to change up the group and play something new. For others… well, me… who have changed up their character a couple of times already, it is still a chance to try something new after all these years without having to go through the work of catching up.
This question became all the more pressing when Blizzard announced that your free insta-90 boost would be available as soon as you pre-ordered the expansion. (If you pre-order the collector’s edition, you also get the pet and the mount and whatever else in-game they offer.) Leaving aside the “that sure sounds like we won’t be getting WoD any time soon” aspect of the announcement, it seems like we could be granted our level 90 boost in the near future. (My pre-ordering as soon as it becomes an option seems per-ordained. I am pre-pared… or something.)
So this seems like a perfect opportunity to bore people and start arguments by looking at the classes in World of Warcraft and my relationship with them. And I might as well break them up into arbitrary categories to further horrify people. So on with the debacle!
Classes out of the running for an insta-90 boost because I already have one at level 90, or will have one there before WoD ships. A look at what I guess I like in WoW.
Paladin – Back in March 2005, when I finally broke down and bought World of Warcraft, having been otherwise devoted to EverQuest II since November 2004, the first character I made was a dwarf paladin.
That was a mistake. The paladin’s life was a hard one back then. The only ranged attack you could pull with was limited to undead and demons. Judgement was a strange beast. Their epic mount quest was a serious chore, and no cheaper in the end for all the work. Warriors were better tanks, priests were better healers, and just about anybody was better DPS. The joke was that a paladin never dies, but neither do his foes. Add in the fact that the snowy dwarven starter area that was the least interesting of the bunch and that I started out hating the dwarf character models and you might begin to understand why it took me some time to warm to WoW. I deleted that character after not too long.
However, I did return to the class later, and stuck with it in the end. Paladins have evolved over time and I have been happy enough playing one. Picking up engineering as a profession filled in some of the class gaps back in the day. I was always fond of the wrist mounted rocket launcher enchant that engineers could add. The character I consider my “main” in the game is Vikund, my one and only paladin. (Ignore that low level blood elf! He means nothing!) He was my first to level 60, 70, 80, 85, and 90. He’s the guy, my “do all the things” character. I don’t need another paladin.
Hunter – The go-to class for a lot of people when they want to solo. I have always enjoyed the class, I have several on various servers. If my pally was first to all those levels, my hunter, Tistann, was second. He just hit level 90 this week. I have always enjoyed the pet taming and interaction aspects of the class. And while people often groan aloud when they see a beast mastery hunter show up in their Dungeon Finder group, you can be quite competitive with other DPS if you play right. But I don’t need another one at level 90 just yet.
Druid – I think everybody has a class they are dumb for. I would have told you that, for me, the class is hunters. Then I noticed I had five druids over level 60, including two above level 80 on the same server in the same faction. So as Earl has his warriors, and my mother has a collection of hunters, I have an army of druids. There is a lot to like. I tell people I have two druids on the same server so I can play all four druid specs… druids are so special that they get four specs… but I think I really just like flight form. I jump off of high places just to invoke flight form mid-fall. It is too cool. But with two druids in the 80s, at least one of which will be level 90 before WoD drops, I don’t need to use my boost on this class.
The Mid-Level Blues
Classes I have worked on at various points, but which have never quite made it to level cap.
Death Knight – This seems to be cheating a bit as Death Knights start at level 55 and are close to 60 by the time they get done with their starter zone. Mid-level at birth, depending on where you set the bar for “mid-level,” I never really thought much about DKs until I was pushing druid #2 through Outland and Northrend as a healer. Then I noted how durable they were and figured that maybe this was a class even I could play the tank in. So I rolled one up and he currently sits at level 64. My main problem with him is that he is in 5th place after my pally, hunter, and two druids, so I do not get around to him very often. But DKs totally seem like a class I could play up to 90… once the two druids are there… so perhaps it would be a waste to use an insta-90 on mine.
Priest – The first thing I rolled up when our old TorilMUD guild finally said, “screw this!” to EverQuest II, just as Kingdom of the Sky squelched onto the scene, and headed to WoW, was a priest. This never quite worked out. For me, a priest is a cleric in the D&D vein, wearing heavy armor, wielding a mace mostly for show, and dispensing heals while taking repeated punches to the face. So it was in TorilMUD, EverQuest, and EverQuest II.
In WoW a priest is a holy guy that wears cloth vestments. On what sort of Bizarro world does that make sense?
Plus we never really formed a group where I could be the healer, so my priest made it solo to about Stranglethorn Vale before I said, “To Hell with this!” and just focused on my pally and hunter. The pally was the cleric I really wanted to play in any case. Now though, with Dungeon Finder, having another healer around wouldn’t be a bad thing, and I am still pretty sure I wouldn’t want to level one up. So there is possibility here.
Rogue – I actually rolled up a rogue for the instance group back in late 2006. Blintz was going to be our DPS, lockpicker, and stealthy scout. He is in at least one of the group shots at the top of the post.
And then as soon as the group hit 40, I swapped out Blintz for my paladin and barely ever played him again. The rogue class and I aren’t very compatible. Attacks are very positional, I never had a good feel for the skills, and I can never quite use stealth right. These are things I also struggle with as a feral druid, but at least with the druid I can claim status as a backup tank and healer when Ula and Bung are blowing me away on the DPS chart. So I am not sure being a level 90 rogue would change any of that.
Still, I keep thinking about him. Every once in a while I will play him for a bit. He has managed to make it to level 46 in the last six year. But is a level a year really progress?
Never Got Very Far
And then there is everything else.
Warrior – I’ve rolled up any number of warriors over the years, but never found the time to focus on one. Way back in the day there were drawbacks to being a warrior, at least if you didn’t have a healer along. You needed potions, bandages, and lots of food around. I chose a paladin to avoid all of that, and of course ended up with another set of problems. Later on, when that was less of a big deal, I did tinker with warriors now and again. But like the Death Knight, warriors were never high enough on my list to get enough play. And the question remains, what would I do with one at level 90 is I had one?
Shaman – I recall leveling up a shaman once into the 20s, but I can’t remember when or on what server. I think I was horde. Maybe. Clearly the class never stuck. As with warriors, back in the day the class used to be a bit of a trial to get used to. Later, with things smoothed out, it was simpler, but it still didn’t do anything I couldn’t already do, which is what you get when you play two classes that can do it all I guess.
Warlock – I rolled up a warlock once, but only played a couple of levels in. This was back when warlocks were completely OP, as opposed to just being mostly OP. Still, everybody I know who has a level cap warlock can burn stuff down like no other, so there is some allure there, even if I have never been good at the DPS caster role. But if Bung decides he wants use his insta-90 boost to swap out his warlock and try something new, I might be up for the challenge. The utility value of warlocks, with health stones, soul stones, and a variety of pets, is high enough that I would feel useful. I’d just have to learn the class, though you could argue that I need to do so even with the classes I already have at level 90.
Mage – I do have a mage who is in the 30s. He was part of the Worgen instance group we rolled up for Cataclysm. I never really liked him all that much. In part because of the Worgen thing… which I could stand until I found out the racial mount was just them running around on all fours… but also because of the “I’m not really a cloth wearing caster type,” which I have mentioned above. I do not find the mage all that alluring as a class, so even if Ula decided to trade out, I am not sure I would step up to play one again.
Monk – And, finally, there is the latest class added to Azeroth. I rolled one up and played it for a bit when we first jumped back into WoW last August, but wasn’t really fond of it, so I never bothered to get him out of the Pandaren starting area. So I went and made a hunter… and a druid… because that is apparently how I roll. The one thing that the monk has going for it is that it does fit my pattern of playing classes that can be all the roles. Paladins and druids can play tank, healer, or DPS, and so can a monk. If I play to that type, the monk should be good. But, as I said, I didn’t enjoy the class when it started and, for no good reason, Pandaren monk tanks annoy me. I cannot explain why. So this is not a sure thing.
Make a Choice Already
So those are the options. And, honestly, I am not sure what I will choose. It likely won’t be until the very day the option becomes available… and maybe not even then. There will be a point when I will press the button and do this, and I guess I will just stew until then.
I will say that, at the moment, the leading contenders are the warlock, the monk, and the death knight. My gut response way back when WoD was announced was a warlock. But I could easily be swayed elsewhere. I will be watching what other people say on the topic. I see that Liore already has a post on this. I expect that others will follow suit.
In the mean time, I’ll throw out a poll asking what you would do. You can, of course, attempt to influence my decision in the comments.
Did Blizzard Just Hint at the Warlords of Draenor Ship Date? January 17, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warlords of Draenor
It’s the New Year, and 2014 is going to be a big one for World of Warcraft. This November marks the game’s 10-year anniversary and the 20-year anniversary of the entire Warcraft series. We’re looking forward to celebrating these milestones with everyone, but in the meantime, we’ve got a few Warlords of Draenor–related updates to share.
-Blizzard, Warlords of Draenor Scouting Report Post
Okay, it is a stretch, but kicking off a Warlords of Draenor post with references to events coming up in November? It is enough to make you go, “Hrmm…”
Plus, when you add in the fact that the post goes on to say that now would be a good time to opt-in for the closed beta, which means that it is probably at least weeks, if not a month or more away, and the timeline for the Warlords of Draenor expansion starts to look more and more like something we’ll see when summer has faded and autumn is upon us.
My 2014 prediction for the expansion release is September 9th. Am I looking warmer now?
And, while we’re on the subject of predictions, Blizzard is talking about finding a way to sell players additional insta-level 90 boosts. That is another on my list. (And it sounds like Blizz is going to give you your insta-90 as soon as you pre-order… once pre-orders are available. No waiting for the expansion to launch.)
In the mean time, I still have plenty to catch up on in the game.
An Embarrassment of Options… December 3, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor
I find myself in a very different position game-wise than I was in just a month back.
With the return of the instance group to World of Warcraft I have found my “to do” list for the game growing out of control.
The odd bit is that, each time I complete something on my list, it seems to spawn a couple more items.
For example, I wanted to get my pally, who is my main “do all the things” character, through Pandaria and up to level 90.
That was a simple achievement based goal that would allow me to see a good stretch of the expansion… though not as much as I thought I would see… and put at least one character at the top of the heap, ready for the next expansion, and able to indulge in whatever level cap things Blizzard had laid out.
Easy stuff. I figured it wouldn’t take too much of my time and I might be in danger of running out of things I wanted to do.
Instead, upon getting to 90, I have found myself:
- Finishing up the zone quest lines one by one.
- Running dailies for various factions because I want items they offer (usually mounts). The Order of the Cloud Serpent are at the top of the list.
- Harvesting for sales at the auction house, as all them mounts cost money.
- Harvesting to get engineering up to 600 (at 590 now) so I can build some of the neat things available, such as the Blingtron 4000. Motes of Harmony and trillium are my main obstacles at the moment.
- Running Timeless Isle when I can get Pia to come play, to gear myself and a few alts up. And achievements. And general “oooh, lookit that!” fun. And dying.
- Running scenarios with Earl. Did one over the weekend and it went well, so I want to try others.
All of which could easily take up my play time budget. There are a lot of dailies in Pandaria. It wasn’t very hard for me to get the Every Day I’m Pan-da-ren achievement. I managed it before I found a bunch of the daily quests.
However, on top of that,there is also the official guild group. I have been working on Alioto, both to learn how to play the feral druid DPS role better, since we’ll be hitting Cataclysm instances soon, and to work on inscription, the latter being both useful to the group and mildly lucrative.
Then there is also the unofficial second guild group. The four of us who play regularly have alts that are in the 68 to 70 range that have been playing together now and again when we have all been on. I have a level 70 druid there as well, in the healing role. He healed his way through Burning Crusade instances. Since he also has inscription as a trade skill, I am thinking about dropping that and picking up mining, which would be more lucrative but which would mean going back and skilling up again.
After which there is my hunter, Tistann, who is sitting at 85 now and ready to jump into Pandaria. Something about wanting a second character at level cap and seeing the content as a ranged player rather than in the melee role.
Then there is a Draenei Death Knight I have pulled out of storage, Tokarev, because I am sort of interested in running the Outland instances as a tank. He is 60 and ready to embark. We’ll see if I can find time for him. He might be a candidate for my insta-90 character in Warlords of Draenor if I don’t.
Finally, there is every other alt I have on the server, which falls at the low end of my hierarchy of things I want to do. No real plans there, but they all stare at me when I am logging in, wondering when they will next be able to come out and play. And then there are the characters on other servers.
On top of all of that, there are at least a half a dozen sort of general blog posts about WoW I want to write based on having returned to the game, which are in addition to the “I did a thing” posts that I write. Sorry in advance on that, both because the topic of WoW will likely dominate the post count for a while and because I will be writing from the perspective of somebody who has come back to the game after a long absence and will thus end up writing more than a few things that will be blindingly obvious to those who never left.
And while the rush back to Azeroth was all sparked by the Warlords of Draenor announcement at BlizzCon early last month, I find myself in no hurry to get to the next expansion. Unlike many people, WoD could come too soon for me, being as invested as I am in my own little plans at the moment and feeling like there is still some catching up to do. We shall see. I am still excited about the expansion, but there is so much to do!
Other games, of course, will suffer because of this. War Thunder has fallen by the wayside. I am back to doing fleets on demand only in EVE Online. I am good for fleet ops and jump in on that, but there is no time for mining or ratting or what not there. Meanwhile, things like skill trees in Lord of the Rings Online, updates in Rift, nostalgia in EverQuest, and any thoughts about GuildWars 2 are all off the back burner in stored away in the fridge at this point.
Of course, that could all change. Burn out is a surprisingly easy point to reach. But for now I am happy, the rest of the guild seems invested in WoW for the moment as well, so we can make plans, talk, and play together.
Addendum: And as Cuppy reminded me, Pet Battles are also on my list somewhere. See, more stuff just keeps popping up.
Quote of the Day – Or We Just Don’t Want to Do It November 27, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: BlizzCon, Quote of the Day, Warlords of Draenor
As we discussed at BlizzCon, we’re accomplishing this by making it so primary stats for a given piece of gear will change based on your current spec, though it’s likely that only new gear added in Warlords will work like this, as it might be impossible to implement this for all existing gear.
From the forum update on the Warlords of Draenor itemization plan (emphasis mine)
I came out in favor of the itemization revamp plans announced at BlizzCon. As somebody who hasn’t played for long enough… at least since I have come back… to be deeply invested in the current system of drops, enchants, reforging, stats, and whatever, I suppose that is easy for me to say. Still, the primary stat changing to be based on your spec… so if you need INT plate, you have INT plate, if you don’t then you don’t worry about it… seemed like a good idea.
So I was a bit disappointed when, in that post linked above in the quote, they said it probably won’t be ported backward to all previous content. But I get it. I work in software. Some things are just not worth the effort required, especially when you are moving everybody forward in any case.
Only they had to use the word “impossible” when there were so many other ways they could have put that. They could have said might be:
- too much work to accomplish before we want to ship
- too broad in scope and touches too much code to be worth considering
- so much work that it would pull people off of other things we think would be better for the game
- too boring even to assign to the interns
Hell, they could have said it was impossible to do within certain time or cost parameters. But no, they just said it might be impossible.
Which, of course, it is not. At least not for any dictionary definition of the word I’ve seen. Given enough time and effort, Blizzard could do this. That they don’t want to is fine. There are many good reasons not to. But don’t try to cover that with the word “impossible.” People aren’t going to buy it. Absolutes like that just attract scrutiny.
Worst of all though, now SynCaine will be using “Blizzard says it is impossible to re-itemize all gear in a game” as a troll for the next decade or so, and it is all your fault Blizzard!
The Rush Back to Azeroth November 13, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Cataclysm, Mists of Pandaria, One of those summing up posts, Warlords of Draenor, Wrath of the Lich King
There may be crit mass to return to wow pre expansion. FYI
That was the content of a text message on my phone from Potshot on Friday. And while I don’t want to over play the significance of the medium, in our general level of communication, email is the default, instant message is for more immediate issues, and text messages to phones tend to be more akin to picking up the hotline to the Kremlin during the Cold War.
Past text messages from him on my phone… I never clear them out because I so rarely even get text messages… in part because it isn’t a smart phone, but just a cheap old mobile… tend to be about needing to find each other at places like GDC or the train station. And while it turned out that the medium for the message was chosen mostly because that was all that was available to him at the moment, I still think it says something that he opted for that at the moment rather than waiting for other avenues of communication to become available.
And by the end of the text exchange, it was clear that four out of five of the instance group was on board for an early return to World of Warcraft, thanks to the Warlords of Draenor announcement. And it seems likely that all five of us will be heading back to Azeroth. Mike was just out of town for the weekend so couldn’t jump on the bandwagon, but he had been expressing interest in WoW when I mentioned I was back and playing it.
So we have circled around back to our game of origin. As a group we kicked off in WoW back in late 2006 with the intent of going through as much of the five person group content as possible. Our first instance run was just over seven years ago. We completed the Deadmines on our third attempt.
We hit most of the dungeons in vanilla WoW, foundered a bit in Burning Crusade, and hit our peak in WoW during Wrath of the Lich King. But eventually we hit the last instance in Lich King. While waiting for Cataclysm we re-rolled as Horde on a PVP-RP server just to change things up. Somewhere in there we stepped out and played Warhammer Online and Lord of the Rings Online. But after Cataclysm dropped, we felt unsatisfied with the game, so we decided to leave Azeroth and ventured into the wilderness.
We wandered far and wide. Runes of Magic got a test run. Guild Wars was tried on for size. We staged another return to Lord of the Rings Online. We attempted to play as a group in EverQuest II until we had enough of struggling against the game. There have been a couple of prods at Dungeons & Dragons Online. We threw ourselves into Rift. We dabbled in Need for Speed World. Three of us spent a bit of time in Neverwinter Nights 2 and Diablo III. A part of the group ran together in World of Tanks, even forming a clan. And, most recently, we have worked on getting into Neverwinter.
The story of our group, or at least the parts that I have written down, has been traced on this blog. You can read it by selecting the Instance Group category. The tale stands at 247 posts as of this one, or just over 8% of the total posts on the blog.
And that does not even count the scouting trips some of us have taken in search of the next game for the group. Champions Online was touched on, as was Star Trek Online. I know a couple of us tried Fallen Earth, and three of us tried the original Guild Wars for a couple weeks. Earl jumped into Star Wars: The Old Republic and, like so many people, hit level cap and cancelled. Potshot went into Age of Conan and The Secret World to explore. We have tossed around EverQuest as an idea on several occasions. I think as many as four of us tried Guild Wars 2 at various stages. TorilMUD and the idea of text held a glimmer at one point. Even the possibility of EVE Online has been discussed, though it clearly does not work with the varied play budget of our group. I have even asked for suggestions on this front in the past.
Of all of those games, I think only Rift got anywhere close to the same sort of interest from the whole group as WoW did back in the day. Of course, since Rift is also the game most like WoW on that list, I suppose it is not hard to understand why. And we could return to Rift. It has been a good game for us, becoming as close to a second home outside of Azeroth as we have managed.
But the Storm Legion expansion did not thrill any of us. And for a game to succeed with the group, at least a couple members of the group need to be excited about it, need to be playing during the rest of the week, and need to be mapping out what we do and where we go next. Nobody took that role with Storm Legion, and so Rift foundered.
So now, just over two and a half years after we last ran an instance as a group in World of Warcraft, we are jumping back in. I had already been been back and playing some WoW for a while. Ula was in game with me on Saturday morning, Potshot by Saturday afternoon, and Earl was loaded back in and had already purchased Pandaria by Sunday. And we were online a lot. The guild hadn’t even been looted or otherwise compromised. We even managed to get a level guild level in our initial flurry.
There was a burst of excitement and activity and joy at just being back in Azeroth.
And, of course, some confusion. A lot has changed since we last played. I had a bit of a head start, having played on Garona for a while, but even I was a bit puzzled at how to play my retribution paladin after all of this time. Fortunately Blizzard has some help for that. In the spells and skill book, there is now a tab devoted to the core abilities of your class.
That isn’t exactly an Elitist Jerks level of class detail, but it seemed to be a good refresher course on how to deal with the class.
So there we were back and happy and running around figuring out where we left off.
Which, of course, should lead to a pretty obvious question. Didn’t we leave WoW for a reason? And has anything changed that might make us think that things will be different after we come back?
Clearly we need a plan.
Part of the problem was that, at Cataclysm launch, we went back to character creation and rolled up a whole new set of characters with an eye to seeing the changes to the old world and all the various features. That was our plan.
Unfortunately, the old world had changed a lot, the old instances… or the updated versions thereof… seemed too easy, and the new tools, like Dungeon Finder, trivialized travel. Add in the fact that after a few years of playing the game we actually picked up some game skills, and the whole thing seemed too easy. Even at our normal plodding pace in instances… compared to the “run, run, run!” method that Dungeon Finder groups seem to follow these days… we were able to knock out three instances an evening and still get to bed before midnight.
Meanwhile, the original group of characters was still sitting there. They still had three instances… added after we were done… in WotLK to finish.
So Potshot put forth what we will call “The Plan,” which is to pick up where we left off with the original group and continue their story. First, we warm up by knocking off those last WotLK instances, actually finishing the content we declared done about four years back. Then we move into the Cataclysm 80 to 85 content, trying to do whatever we can as a group and taking on the instances there as we find them. And we also plan to avoid the Dungeon Finder, insisting on actual travel to whatever instances we may need to run. See the world and all that.
Easy enough I suppose.
But the plan also calls for us to come back to the same character in the same roles, where I may have cocked things up a bit. The original group, as it stands now, is:
- 80 Warrior – Earlthecat
- 80 Warlock – Bungholio
- 81 Priest – Skronk
- 81 Mage – Ula
- 87 Paladin – Vikund
Earl and Bung have both been good. Bung just doesn’t play outside of group time, while Earl has a warrior alt he drove through Cataclysm on his own time. Skronk and Ula have both edged over the level 80 line. And I have clearly said “see ya!” to the rest of the group, running off ahead and into Pandaria.
Vikund is clearly out of the band for now. I will be running him up to level 90 through the Pandaria content on my own.
Fortunately, I have a backup plan.
When we left off WoW back in the day, I had druid mired in the middle of the WotLK content. I took a chunk of the weekend getting him from 77 to 80 so that he can replace Vikund in the lineup. The only question will be, how to play him. He will be taking Vikund’s old DPS slot, so do I go feral and be the cat, or do I go whatever the other spec is… balance I think… and be the boomkin crap owl?
So we have the lineup. We are all excited as we get settled back into the comfortable setting of Azeroth. And we have a plan.
Now will it stick? Can we revive the old group, carry on, and have fun?
And, of course, can we get all five of us online at the same time? That has been the main issue so far this year.