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.