Monday Morning March Musings on WoW March 3, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warlords of Draenor
1 comment so far
Here we sit. It is the first Monday in March. It is wet and cold, even here in California. (If only briefly. It should be 70 degrees by the end of the week again.) Still, spring seems a long way off, and in the overcast I started musing about the state of various things in Azeroth.
Warlords of Draenor Progress
No word on beta. No word on pre-orders. And certainly no word on a potential launch date.
I know that Blizzard works at the speed of Blizzard… which, admittedly, is still at least 2x the speed of Valve… but we are in a winter of at least some mild discontent here. People were chanting the dungeon finder group cheer, “Go go go go go!” when Blizzard announced Warlords of Draenor, hoping for a spring launch, pinning their dreams on Ghostcrawler’s “Feels like we are farther along…” statement during BlizzCon. And there still isn’t much out there to grab onto.
While we are still effectively staring a tea leaves and trying to divine the future here, the only tangible benchmark for the current situation I could find… six months from start of beta to go live that seemed to work out for previous expansion… is starting to make my September 9th prediction seem a bit optimistic. I am not ready to declare for 2015 yet, but I am starting to tap my fingers on the desk in a sign of impatience.
I know software projects always take longer than expected, but there are a lot of people looking at you right now Blizzard… and, subscriptions. I suspect that we will see some new “just stick with us and we’ll give you a shiny” plan to show up if the fall starts to look dicey for the expansion. After all, they still haven’t tied Hearthstone into a plan to shore up WoW subscriptions yet.
Veteran’s reward for insta-90
One attempt to keep people interested in WoW while waiting for Warlords of Draenor involved announcing that players would be given their insta-90 boost as soon as they pre-ordered the expansion (when we get to that), which will lead to some hard choices once that becomes available. I’ve already started pondering which class to boost.
To help muddy the waters… or maybe it provides clarity… Blizzard has thrown in a hitch. If you choose to boost up a character that is level 60 or higher, you also get max level professions to go along with it. That suddenly makes the idea of boosting up a death knight a lot more interesting. My current DK, sitting at level 69, was in part rolled up with the idea of getting the guild a jewel crafter, that being an under represented skill for us. (Engineering seems to be the thing with us, followed by alchemy.) Getting a level cap DK AND getting jewel crafting in with the mix is quite tempting. Then again, I returned to my warrior alt this past weekend, pushing into the 40s, so he could be in contention as well by the time push comes to shove.
Squishing Stats and Abilities
Blizzard put up a post about the upcoming squish which basically said they are doing it because they are afraid all those big numbers scare us. There was some talk about the squish being required because of raid boss hit point inflation, which is admittedly climbing up there in digits.
That made me wonder how they were handling their data. A signed 32-bit integer will get you to two billion, and unsigned will double that. But who knows how their software is structured and what made sense a decade back. I once worked on a platform where, 15 years earlier, somebody decided that the magic cap would be 500. Then processors got better and suddenly, one day, 500 seemed like a serious restriction. But it was in the foundation of the product, to the point that it became easier just to hack together a method two run two copies of the main process to get around it.
Going along with the “too much for our players” thread, Blizz is also talking about paring down various class skills and racial abilities as well.
The promise is still there about being able to roll through older content as easily after the squish as before. But I am still bouncing through things like Obsidian Sanctum for big bags now, because my ability to beat each mini-boss timer seems to rest entirely on my putting up huge DPS numbers. Not sure how that will translate post-squish.
One thing the wait for Warlords of Draenor has allowed me to do is catch up a bit on things left undone from past expansions. For example, there are innscription recipes from Wrath of the Lich King. There were something like 80+ recipes I needed to research through Northrend Inscription Research, a once per day recipe, along with Minor Inscription Research and the Pandaria version thereof. I have been diligently logging on and doing that every day, to the point that there is now light at the end of the tunnel on that front.
That will leave me with just Pandaria recipes to pick up, most of which are drops within the expansion, so I will have to get out there and actually play the expansion.
Guild Level 21
Our guild made it to level 21 this past weekend.
This turned out to be a surprisingly important level for many of us because it unlocked the Ride Like The Wind guild perk, which boosts the fight speed between flight points by 25%. And, as much as it helps to spend less time on the bird crossing great distances, I think the real problem was that a number of us were tired of being passed all the time by people in guilds who had that perk. We wanted to be fast too! And now we are.
Factions in Pandaria
Along with the inscription research, I have been pretty good about working on factions in Pandaria. Blizzard really sank the hook on that front by giving them all mounts you can only buy when you hit exalted. But it hasn’t been all that much of a grind. I just can’t do more than one or two at a time. Some were quick, silly fun, like the Lorewalkers. Some of the dailies were fun and easy, like the Golden Lotus. I still do a couple of their dailies if I am in the neighborhood. Fun is fun, and 20g is 20g. But I am getting down to the last few factions now. I am going to finish up The Klaxxi this week, which has gone kind of slow. (And how many bugs do I need to kill?)
Once The Klaxxi are down, I will be left with the Kirin-Tor Offensive (which I guess is Jaina Proudmoore and Isle of Thunder), The August Celestials (I have no idea where they live), the Shado-pan Assault (which I started on a bit), Emperor Shaohao (which means Timeless Isle), and the Black Prince.
I’ve gotten far enough ahead in trillium production for living steel that I have been doing some of the farming dailies for faction, just to help move things along. We will see how long I remain motivated for mounts. Emperor Shaohao might be left behind, as the charm of Timeless Isle wore off rather quickly.
Pseudo Server Merges
Blizzard has been carrying on with their connected realms operation, where servers are joined together in order to boost population numbers. The linkage is just shy of a server merge, so nobody has to change their character or guild name. (Good news for the 200+ guilds named “Bloodbath and Beyond.”)
This past month our server, Eldre’Thalas, was linked up with the server Korialstrasz. I wasn’t sure we really needed that. Eldre’Thalas seemed to be humming along pretty well on its own, though that can be hard to determine. There was already cross-realm shared zones and all of the various grouping and matching services work across multiple realms, so by this point I think we’re all pretty used to seeing people running around with a different realm appended to their name.
The one place that was still realm exclusive was the auction house. So that is where I actually could see the change. I run the Auctioneer addon to scan the auction house and keep track of pricing. The number of auctions… and thus the time it took to run the scan… pretty much doubled with the change. That, and the price of some key commodities, living steel for example, dropped in price due to an increase in sellers undercutting each other.
We’ll see what happens when Warlords of Draenor comes out and we get a surge of players logging in more often.
February in Review February 28, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Month in Review, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Age of Empires II, Age of Kings
After a couple months I have decided that I really like the MMO Blogesphere feed that I put in the side bar. I just wish it was a little more reliable. I grow tired of seeing this half the time.
Life in the internet age. I have tinkered around with a couple of things to replace it, including Yahoo Pipes, but haven’t really come up with something that work, works as I expect it to work, and works reliably. So RSS Mix remains my sidebar feed of choice for the moment.
On a side topic, has Google Alerts become completely useless these days? Back when I started to blog, I created one for the site URL to see if anybody was linking to me. And it used to work. A few years back I used to get the occasional notification. Then it went quiet. Then, a year or so later, it started telling me about ping-backs from my blog displayed on other blogs… essentially alerting me to the fact that I linked out to another blog. Not very useful. Then there was another long quiet stretch. Now, in the last few weeks, Google Alerts has started sending me notification when I link to other posts on my own blog. That is all I get. Another Google mystery.
Finally, if you hit the blog last Sunday you might have been treated to things being displayed in a different theme… or several different themes. WordPress.com allows you to preview all the premium templates for a two week period. So I opted in for that to see if I could find something I liked. As you can see, the template remains the same as it has been for over seven years now. I have another weekend to go though. We shall see.
One Year Ago
Raptr sent me a summary of my 2012 gaming.
Google changed how image search worked, causing a precipitous drop in page views. Google giveth, and Google taketh away… though they have been heavy on the taketh front for the last couple of years.
RuneScape joined the rare breed of MMOs with an old rules, nostalgia focused server.
I tinkered with Prose with Bros on the iPad. That was amusing for about two weeks.
In something of a breath of fresh air in an argument dedicated to absolutes and bad analogies, with some game devs equating buying used games with piracy, EA admitted that the used game market wasn’t all bad and that the ability to trade in games might be propping up new game sales. They still wanted to kill used games like everybody else in the industry, but at least they were attempting a moment of honesty about it.
A group got together to create an Age of Empires II: Age of Kings expansion called Forgotten Empires. This was before it was announced that Age of Kings would be updated and brought to Steam.
The instance group was still without a quorum and a fantasy title to call its own. We were playing a bit of World of Tanks, which gets awkward with four. I also made some short videos about Crushing your VK and a cliff diving BDR GB1. And I was working on my Soviet heavies as well as the French heavy tree.
In EVE Online we went back to EWN-2U, the scene of my first real epic null sec battle. But null sec was pretty quiet, so we also spent time just flying in circles. The Goons did produce a nice guide to EVE Online in the form of a .pdf called Thrilling Internet Spaceship Stories.
And I answered the magic question, just how many times do you have to sign or initial things when closing escrow on a home refinance?
Five Years Ago
My 8800GT video card died. That was the second one to go.
I had been looking at my dis-used GAX Online account and wondered what gamer social networking needed to be viable. Since then, GAX Online has shut down.
PLEX showed up in EVE Online five years ago. In game I got the mining foreman mindlink as a storyline mission drop, I upgraded to a Raven Navy Isssue, and finally bought the freighter for which I had been training, and got some ships blown up in the Worlds Collide mission… again. There was EVE Vegas. And then there was the whole Goonswarm dismemberment of BOB, which made the BBC news.
I was still active in Middle-earth, playing characters on Nimrodel. Looking for a class on which to affix the Reynaldo Fabulous name, I put up a poll on the subject. While Minstrel won the poll, Reynaldo ended up being a hunter with a fabulous hat. And when I wasn’t fooling around with alts, I was leveling up my captain who made it all the way to Rivendell at one point.
While over in Azeroth, it was revealed that my mom plays WoW. I wondered at how active Westfall seems to be most of the time. But the answer to that seems to be the Deadmines, which I ran my mom and daughter through. (No dungeon finder back then!) There was a little pet drama with my daughter who wanted a raptor. I also managed my first exalted status with a faction in WoW, the Kalu’ak in Northrend. I wanted that fishing pole.
And then there was the usual bog war shenanigans as somebody was still looking to blame WoW and WoW players for Warhammer Online’s failure to meets its subscriber goals. I think we’re all over that now, right? Warhammer did what it did on its own faults and merits in a market that was well known before they shipped.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in February
- The Elder Scrolls Online – Mission Accomplished
- Warlords of Draenor to be a $60 Expansion? And Something About Insta-90s
- Raid Tourism – Being the 25th Man
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- Echoes and Repercussions from the Battle at B-R5RB
- Grim Batol and Beyond in Cataclysm
- Return to the Heroic Deadmines
- Raptr Corrects My Perceptions – What I Played in 2013
- Is PvP a Requirement for All MMOs?
- Landmark and a Dire Vision of Things to Come…
- B-R5RB and the Death of Drone Assist
- The Downfall of Garrosh Hellscream
Search Terms of the Month
the coveted ccp “mystery code”
[And you could win one here, if you enter REAL soon!]
how to get to west karana from a lady merchant named analya
[When I say that, it rhymes. Does it rhyme for you?]
what happens when you mix root near with icecream
[They get closer?]
where is gm lirus now?
[Probably trying to forget.]
can you buy world of tank type59 g on ebay?
[Don't you wish.]
dmca and mmo emulator
[You're up to something totally legit I am sure.]
stone age man on raft
[How did that even get you here?]
Age of Kings
Potshot and I talk about going back and playing Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings now and again, but we haven’t really put much effort into the idea. I was hoping at one point last year, when a reworked, HD version of the game was released on Steam, that it would be a golden opportunity. Alas, the idea had to stew for a while. Then a couple weeks back Potshot mentioned that a couple of old college pals (and at this point, all of our college pals are old) were interested in playing. And so we have managed a few matches in the latter half of February. I just haven’t gotten around to writing about them yet.
I have been a complete slacker when it comes to EVE Online. I still have a Domi stuck in B-R5RB, left there since the big battle and another one hanging out in what was our staging system at least two move ago. I suppose at least I didn’t put a lot of effort of moving things from Curse to staging systems in the middle of even-closer-to nowhere. Ah well. I did have an EVE Online contest. It is still going as of this moment… unless you are reading this after March 1st, in which case it is over.
World of Warcraft
Things continue to move along in Azeroth. I think we might be over the “so happy to be back” time of binging on the game. The binge was part of the reason I was playing less EVE Online. But it remains the game of choice for our group. We still have a list of things to do in Cataclysm and then there is Mists of Pandaria. That will take us out to the usual summer hiatus at least, if not all the way to Warlords of Draenor.
The great Diablo III revamp is upon us. I expect to devote some time to the game to see if the 2.0 version can revive that Diablo feeling. So far, so good.
I think that The Elder Scrolls Online is having another beta weekend, judging from the six messages in my inbox about it. It is just about time for them to slip the launch date back a couple weeks to make changes based on feedback from the beta. Or such is my gut feeling.
EverQuest will turn 15 in March. What a long, strange something or other.
And, apparently, I will write some more stuff about RTS games. I have at least one Age of Kings post to do and we shall see how far I make it in Warcraft III. Optional blog name possibility: Talking About Game Nostalgia.
Warcraft III – In Search of the Pre-History of WoW February 27, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Warcraft III
My relationship with Blizzard and its games is odd in that Warcraft has never been all that interesting to me.
Well, I suppose that, in and of itself isn’t odd. Warcraft doesn’t interest a lot of people I am sure.
But that fact that World of Warcraft has ended up being my MMORPG of choice for most of the last decade is what makes it strange. It means that I haven’t really felt as connected to the game through its lore as I have in other similar games.
I certainly care about the lore in Lord of the Rings Online. As many interesting little features as Turbine has in LOTRO, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have played it a tenth as much as I have if it wasn’t grounded in the works of Tolkien.
I also came to care about the lore in EverQuest. While it was something new, the games connection to TorilMUD (itself rooted in Forgotten Realms, which gives me a lore erection just saying the name), along with its newness and nature at launch, set my expectations and ideas about Norrath. I have a pretty solid notion of what Norrath should be like based on that, something that has not always served me well. Part of my problem with EverQuest II early on was the movement away from the lore of the original in the first couple of expansions. And the whole crazy mounts thing irks to this day in EQII in a way that doesn’t bother me at all in WoW.
Hover disks in Norrath annoy me because that isn’t 1999. In Azeroth they don’t even register because didn’t they always have stupid techno gadgets in their games?
Basically, in WoW, in Azeroth, my take on the lore is pretty much whatever has been handed to me piecemeal over the years, without me having ever managed to get invested in it.
Which brings us back to strange.
Strange because I have actually owned all of the Warcraft RTS games, the source of the lore for WoW.
I have just never gone through the single player campaigns on any of them. Ever.
This was because I never had any enthusiasm for them other than as games to play with friends. To my mind they were in the RTS genre to be played against other people, not single player games to be explored. And even then, of Blizzard games, StarCraft and the Diablo games were far more popular in my group of friends. I only picked up the Warcraft games over the years because they were the game of the moment for people at the office. I think Warcraft II may have literally only been installed at the office and not at home.
So, before WoW, I played the Warcraft series for a few minor moments in between Total Annihilation, StarCraft, and Age of Empires (I and II, but not III). Somehow that little bit inoculated me against caring about the lore.
Not that I haven’t had my moments with the lore in Azeroth now and again. I was involved with the story surrounding Wrath of the Lich King, and have played through as much of Mists of Pandaria as I have in part to finish stories. In fact, the return to the end of WotLK got me thinking about story and lore and what came before WoW, so I decided to dig out my Warcraft III CD.
Well, my Warcraft III CD case. I have no idea where the actual CD is at this point. But the case had the serial number on it, which was enough to activate it in Battle.net so I could download the game. So I was set to get myself updated on some Warcraft lore.
Time to play the Warcraft III campaign!
How that played out after the cut where, if you played through and remember well the Warcraft III single player campaign, the punchline you are probably expecting, given what I have said above, does arrive. We ask that you please hold your “Well, duh!” moments until the end of the performance.
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, 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.
Is PvP a Requirement for All MMOs? February 24, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest, EverQuest II, MMO Design, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, World of Warcraft.
One of my gripes about the Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Kickstarter campaign was about PvP.
PvP was a stretch goal, but I was annoyed that it was on the list in any form at all. The promise of Pantheon seemed, to me at least, to be getting back to a difficult and dangerous PvE world that required grouping to take on. The early days of EverQuest were invoked in this regard. For a game being made by a small team that declared it was not trying to be “all things to all people,” the mention of PvP seemed like a step in that very direction.
And you should not get me wrong on this. I am not saying there shouldn’t be PvP. I play EVE Online, right? But does every PvE focused game need to spend time developing a PvP mechanism as well?
Going back to the dawn of the first massive successes on the MMO front, Ultima Online was PvP from day one. But EverQuest was derived from TorilMUD which had no PvP at all. In fact, the dev staff at TorilMUD split over the idea of PvP, which the PvP faction moving off to follow their dreams with Duris MUD. But SOE eventually felt that EverQuest needed PvP and so the Rallos Zek server was born.
This moved was widely viewed as a way to concentrate all the griefers into a single thunderdome where they would leave the rest of the player base alone. It was successful, in that the investment was low (as far as I can tell SOE did very little explicitly for PvP and was pretty hands off when it came to running the server) and it scratch that PvP itch for those who had to have it in a Norrathian context. (Roll stock footage of Fansy the Famous Bard.) And this lives on today as the Zek server with its own PvP rule set.
Asheron’s Call also had a PvP flagging system and a PvP dedicated server as part of its mix. So the big generation clearly bought into PvP, as did the next round of games. Dark Age of Camelot was explicitly PvP and Star Wars Galaxies had a sandbox PvP aspect to it.
Then came World of Warcraft, which had PvP and PvP servers from day one. Granted, day one was pretty ad hoc when it came to PvP, but Blizzard has a long history with RTS games, so players fighting other players must have seemed a natural to them. And whether or not you like the various stages WoW PvP has progressed through, it has been pretty successful. It would be hard to imagine WoW without it.
Of course, WoW also ran into one of the problems with PvP in a heavily PvE game, that of gear and ability balance between the two. It is really cool that the rogue in your dungeon group or raid can crowd control an off-mob with a stun lock, but I don’t know anybody who likes having that done to them by a rogue in a battleground. And Dark Age of Camelot ran into similar issued from the other direction, by introducing powerful PvE acquired gear into a primarily PvP game.
So mixing PvE and PvP is rarely a matter of a flagging system or a separate server. The eternal balance of equipment and abilities… which is already nettlesome in just the PvE environment… takes on an even bigger role when PvP is part of the mix. It doesn’t come for free, it requires design and development time… unless you take the approach SOE did with EverQuest and just try to ignore the whole PvP aspect of the balance thing, or you take the Guild Wars approach and just keep the two as separate as possible.
And after WoW, things just got went down hill. The success of the game meant other companies trying to copy WoW features in order to capture WoW numbers. EverQuest II is probably the most tragi-comic example of this. So much development and design time has been spent on PvP ideas in that game that it just about breaks your heart. They have had PvP servers, PvP arenas where you fight with a special sub-avatar of your character, arenas where you fight with your actual character, and, more recently, WoW-like battlegrounds. And the trend has always been that either the PvP is so bad that nobody uses it or that it is so affected by PvE stats and abilities that a whole array of special rules and exceptions have to be put in place to try to maintain at least some illusion of balance. The last time I checked in, SOE had gotten to the point where every piece of equipment and every ability essentially had two sets of stats, one for PvE and one for PvP, leading to some of the largest tool tip windows known to man.
Then there was Lord of the Rings Online, which couldn’t bring itself to allow the elf-on-elf combat we all secretly desire (we need more kinslayings) but which felt it had to have PvP, so they gave us Monster Play, a feature convoluted enough that I couldn’t even tell you how it works because I have never once used it. And I have tried the various PvP options on every MMO I have played. I know somebody loves Monster Play out there… you can find somebody who loves and will defend any MMO feature ever… but was LOTRO as a whole made better by it? Could the time spent on that have been better invested?
Warhammer Online at least never had the PvE vs. PvP balancing problem, because I don’t think most of us stuck around long enough for it to be a problem. Instead, it was bit by the WoW battleground bug, which became the most efficient way to level up, so everybody did those while the open world content languished for want of the numbers needed to make it viable.
And so it goes. Even today we are looking at The Elder Scrolls Online coming out in a little over a month. This is an MMO based on an exclusively single player RPG franchise… PvE to its deepest roots… and they are busying pushing the Alliance War, the PvP aspect of the game. Meanwhile, Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMO made in the BioWare mold… fourth pillar and all that… has its Galactic Starfighter battleground out and available to everybody now.
Which brings me around to the title of this post. Is PvP a requirement for all MMOs? Can you even launch a PvE MMORPG without an announced PvP plan?
Return to the Heroic Deadmines February 20, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Deadmines, Shadowfang Keep
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Last time out for the instance group we finished up the last of the normal mode instances, Grim Batol, and then decided to try our hand at Cataclysm heroics.
The Deadmines, ever the favored dungeon in Azeroth, was our target and the fact that we couldn’t use the Dungeon Finder because the item level of our gear was too low did not deter us in the slightest. An item level of 329 seemed too much to ask.
In hindsight, we might have paid a bit more attention to that last bit. While we managed to get in the door and through the first couple of bosses, we were clearly in over our head and called it a night after too many wipes in the foundry.
Thus stopped mid-instance, we decided to remedy the gear item level situation in Pandaria. Four of us went to visit Silkweaver Rul in Pearlfin Village.
While we had all picked up at least a few items in our first foray into Pandaria, where we stopped at Pearlfin Village, we clearly did not pick up enough. The four of us each ended up buying 8 or 9 items from the vendor.
The gear is kind of interesting. There is something there for everybody and it is all item level 372. It is also all bind on pick up and you cannot disenchant them. This is clearly the “catch up” vendor for those entering the expansion.
Earl, on the other hand, decided to press on into Pandaria to gear himself up. He didn’t get to read the discussion in last week’s comment thread about the balance between health and main stats versus secondary stats as you level up in Pandaria, which was probably a good thing as it was more than I really wanted to consider, and just leveled up to 86. He also came up with an item level 450, account bound (which means you can mail it to your alts), sword to wield.
So the group was all at item level 372 or above and ready to go.
- Earlthecat – Level 86 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 85 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 85 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 85 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 85 Gnome Mage DPS
The question was, where should we head with our new gear? Ula was AFK when that discussion started, and when she returned she flatly stated that we were going to go back to the Deadmines and that was pretty much that. The decision was made. Having walked there last time, we felt entitled to use the Dungeon Finder to get us there.
Did all that gear make a difference? More after the cut.
The Downfall of Garrosh Hellscream February 19, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Looking For Raid
I returned to Looking For Raid this past weekend for the final Pandaria raid. I had to re-do a couple of the previous raids during the week to get a drop that would bump my item level up to the required 496 for the Siege of Orgrimmar.
As with the earlier Pandaria raids, the Siege of Orgrimmar is broken up into segments. In this case, there are four distinct raids, each with its own bosses. I will attempt to recap my experiences.
Vale of Eternal Sorrows
This was the first on the list, and I ended up doing the bosses for this one… well, not backwards, but not in order either.
When I first queued for it, I ended up getting pulled into a group that had already done the first two bosses. I have been very lucky so far on that front, only once before having been pulled in later in a raid. I have managed to start with fresh groups all other times.
So I ended up coming in for the Norushen vs. the amalgam of corruption fight, in which I managed to hit things constantly and consistently and which was a success, though how much I contributed was, as always, debatable.
That moved us on to the last fight, the Sha of Pride, a fight with a mechanic I never figured out during the encounter. And we had to do it twice, as we wiped the first time. The Sha of Pride helpfully said:
Blame your companions!
Which made it sound like it knew we were and LFR group.
After the wipe I went off to read about the right quickly, but came away no wiser. So I just swung my sword a lot and we won the second time around. We always seem to win the second time if we wipe. But groups in LFR get a determination buff that boosts some key parameters by 5%, so you go in stronger the second time… and, one would hope, a bit wiser.
That done, I had to queue up again and managed to get a group starting off on the first two bosses. Immerseus was fun… probably because I actually figured out what was going on and was able to actively help during the fight.
And then there was the Fallen Protectors.
This was one of the more chaotic fights, in part because it was handled by those who knew about the fight entirely through negatives in the group chat. There are three bosses and numerous adds in this fight, and you have to change targets multiple times throughout the fight. Rather than somebody calling the target for DPS, all I saw in chat were statements to stop attacking one of the bosses.
Get off Rook!
Stop attacking Sun!
Why are you attacking He?!?
I couldn’t figure out who I ought to be attacking at various points during the battle, but I was well informed as to who not to attack. And I was apparently not alone. After the battle somebody said that we managed to drag that battle out longer than he had ever seen. I will compare this to the later, similar fight at the Paragons of the Klaxxi.
That finished the first stage for me and I left the group, dooming some other DPS player to have to play through the last two bosses. Sorry about that.
Gates of Retribution
The second stage actually put us outside of Orgrimmar, which I must admit was pretty cool. It started with a fight over cannons and towers in a battle I couldn’t quite follow. About par for the course when I get into something chaotic. At one point somebody was calling for more DPS at one of the towers, but by the time I got there the sub-group at the tower ran back to the main group. So I went with them.
We managed to win. My comprehension is not required for that.
Then it was off to the front gates of Orgrimmar to face the Iron Juggernaught, a fight that went off well enough. After that it was into what I think of as the main square of Orgrimmar to face the Kor’kron Dark Shaman. We managed to wipe on this one. I gather that the healers all stood in the wrong spot and got died at one point during the fight, which lead to the expected result. The second attempt played out better. As always, we won on the second try. Then we slaughtered the residents of Orgrimmar. The auction house was given particular attention. I don’t know why. Goblin hate? And then it was into the city and down into Ragefire Chasm where we found the final boss, General Nazgrim.
This last fight went very smoothly… at least relative to what I had seen up to that point… because somebody took the time to tell the DPS what to hit during the fight. So we cleaned up adds quickly and the General went down. End of instance.
Since the sections of the raid are divided up, and since I waited a day before I got to this section, I wasn’t quite sure where it was relative to General Nazgrim and Orgrimmar. I guess it was through the door Nazgrim was guarding. Maybe? No matter, we were there and after the first boss, Malkorok, who is one of those raid bosses who appears to spend his days standing in the middle of a giant circular platform. It is just a raid boss thing.
At this point all I remember was that we won and that I managed to not die. Go us.
Then it was on to the Spoils of Pandaria, which I totally remember because we stopped and somebody divided us up into two groups and explained what we had to do to win this fight. It appears that Garrosh and company had been looting the Pandaria and we were going to go get it. Only the treasures were crated up in two location… hence two groups… and appeared to be coming alive, breaking out of their crates, and attacking us. So we ran two parallel fights, which both succeeded. Go team informed!
The final fight was with Thok the Bloodthirsty, a giant armored raptor. And when I say “giant,” I mean that my character, a human male, was about the size of one of his talons. Giant.
This was a very active fight because you have to stay out of Thok’s sweet spot or he will one-shot kill you. I speak as somebody who spent half the fight on the floor dead. I was lucky that somebody spared a combat ress on me later in the fight. Then it was up and back to running around trying to stay close enough to hit him while keeping far enough away to not get popped again. Being melee can be exhausting. I missed some parts of the fight laying around on the floor as a corpse, but we won in the end and on the first try
Somebody will get that reference.
And then there was the final series of encounters. I queued for this on Sunday and was nearly an hour getting into a group. But at least I got a fresh group. It was a paladin heavy group though, with the followers of Uther the Lightbringer making up a quarter of the group. This was apparently a bad thing, as we had a rough time of it. We got ourselves into the instance and lined up to get to the first fight… I like how the game uses your group in the cinematics integrated with the NPCs… and managed to clear the path there no problem.
Then it was time to jump into a big pipe and drop in on the first boss encounter, Siegecrafter Blackfuse.
That went badly the first time. Again, a lot of confusion and things going on and no real direction to the group. Part way into the fight, somebody asked who was on the conveyor belt… something off to the side that delivers adds… and the resounding silence indicated that nobody was on the conveyor belt. And so there was a wipe
We were not fighting in a nice little circle, the raid just dumps all the corpses there when you wipe, no doubt to aid in clean up. You can see my big pink sword sticking out at about 5 o’clock. (It is the Claymore of the Prophet used to transmog my current weapon.)
The second time through there was a bit of planning up front (a conveyor belt team was picked) so, along with the determination buff, we were able to pound on through.
And then things got a little awkward.
We lost one of our tanks after that fight, so the group was put in the queue to pick up another tank. But it looked like we were queuing for a DPS a the count put us a two tanks still despite there clearly being only one tank. The the other tank left, which appeared to fix the problem, but which left us now queued for two tanks.
After about 30 minutes of this we were back up to a full strength group and were on to the Paragons of the Klaxxi fight.
This fight is vaguely similar to the Fallen Protectors fight mentioned above, in that there are multiple bosses and the DPS needs to be on the right boss. However, rather than retroactive yelling at people who didn’t know what was going on in the first place, somebody took charge and told the DPS just to kill the boss they marked. And then they marked one boss after another and we mowed them down and there wasn’t an iota of drama. As I am fond of saying, it was like we knew what we were doing.
And then we all died to trash in the tunnel just after the fight… TWICE… because LFR.
Such a deal.
Eventually though we made it down to Garrosh Hellscream’s throne.
We got ourselves together, checked buffs, ate some stat boosting food, and generally prepared. Somebody laid down three markers on the big circular floor (again with the big circles), didn’t bother to explain what they meant, and then the fight started.
The first part was Garrosh, who weighed in at a paltry 150 million hit points there, along with some ads. No big deal.
And then, as we wore him down, he suddenly changed and were were pulled into different locations, which were, if I read right, the Temple of the Jade Serpent, the Temple of the Red Crane, and the Terrace of Eternal Spring. Each one involved killing some trash to work our way to Garrosh. Then, after beating on him a bit, we would be pulled back to the throne room, only to be pulled out to another of the locations.
After this Garrosh was transformed into a sha-touched version of himself and then the work really began. Garrosh now weighed in at 567 million hit points and was mind controlling people now and again… I got tapped twice in the first fight… and generally getting out of control. We pressed on, but at around 125 million hit points… or a long way into the fight… the wheels came off and there was another wipe.
My sword… a transmorg job… does make me easy to find amongst the corpses.
Anyway, we had to do it all again, which at that point was really starting to feel like a lot of work. Melee DPS on raids has me running all over and the fight itself ran for quite a stretch. Still, I was there and I didn’t want to have to queue up again to start from scratch, an opinion shared by most of the group it seems, since few people opted to leave.
So we stood up and started over. This time we managed to hang on through the last phase.
And then he was down and the achievement popped up along with my reward, which was actually a decent pair of pants.
Well, decent when it comes to stats… a serious upgrade for me… but they looked like hell. Seriously, I had to transmorg them into something else… anything else… once I got back to town.
But it wasn’t quite time to go back to town yet. There was the end of the tale to see. King Varian Wrynn and the alliance and Thrall back with the leaders of the horde showed up to help tee up the next expansion. Then it was time to speak with Lorewalker Cho who had a quest for me that lead out of the instance and to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms where we spoke to the spirit of the late emperor about what had transpired.
The emperor seemed a little deluded about just how much had changed in Pandaria… the place was still a mess as far as I could tell… but the story came to a close.
I feel like I got to see the finish of the expansion. The closest I have come to that previously was when our group finished off the final five person instances in Wrath of the Lich King. And there we had to leave Arthas alive. Not that we didn’t try to go back and kill him in the five person instance.
But they couldn’t let that happen. We might have to go back and twink through the WotLK raids as a group when we hit 90.
Anyway, while I have always been willing to accept that not all the content should be available to me, I am glad that I was able to go through this with LFR.
Now would I do it again? I am not sure. I think I am done with Vikund doing LFR for now. It is frankly tiring as melee DPS, even if it isn’t exactly the most important job. I might go for it with my hunter at some point. We shall see. But LFR will certainly be on my list for Warlords of Draenor.
Now for some snapshots from the Siege of Orgrimmar, available after the cut.
Grim Batol and Beyond in Cataclysm February 13, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Instance Group, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Cataclysm, Deadmines, Grim Batol
Back to the more comfortable (for me anyway) world of five person instances.
We all got together again on Saturday night wondering what we should do. We had all reached the magic level of 85.
- Earlthecat – Level 85 Human Warrior Tank
- Skronk – Level 85 Dwarf Priest Healing
- Bungholio – Level 85 Gnome Warlock DPS
- Alioto – Level 85 Night Elf Druid DPS
- Ula – Level 85 Gnome Mage DPS
We had all at least poked our noses into Pandaria for a few gear upgrades. So the question was where to head next? The only normal mode instance left undone by us in Cataclysm was Grim Batol. Kicking off the quest line into Twilight Highlands and doing that was the default plan for the night. We could also attempt Grim Batol in heroic mode, try one of the heroic only instances, or really roll the dice and try one of the two converted raids which were ranked as 85++.
We decided to go with the default. That would complete our minimum plan for Cataclysm content and then we could mess around with whatever else afterwards. That meant picking up the opening quest for Twilight Highlands and heading over to Stormwind Keep to chat with the king.
You can sort-of see the enchant on Alioto’s staff, which Skronk made for me with one of his alts. It is the agility enchant, but it is green and has an animation of leaves dropping from it, making it about the most perfect druid weapon enchant ever.
As we hung out waiting for everybody to get ready, we watched what seemed to be a continuous stream of people show up and speak to Major Samuelson over in the corner, at which he would transform into some sort of Ganesh-esque monster which had to be slain. Clearly a popular quest line on a Saturday night. We weren’t sure what lead to that, but we had our own tasks to work on. Once we were all together, we spoke to the king, got our one version of the destined to be troublesome Prince Anduin (nicely, everybody’s copy of the prince was only visible to themselves) and off we went to unlock the way to the Twilight Highlands.
More after the cut because of the usual group nice verbosity.
Raid Tourism – Being the 25th Man February 12, 2014Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Looking For Raid
It isn’t as though I have never raided before. It is just that my raiding days are pretty much deep in the past at this point.
I used to be very active in such things in TorilMUD back in the day. It wasn’t called raiding back then, it was “doing zones” and it required a full 16 person group with the right mix of classes. While well shy of the 40-person peak in WoW… and whatever the raid sizes got to in EverQuest… 75 people or some such… that does put it smack dab in the middle of the 10 and 25 person marks that WoW uses today. And in a community as small as TorilMUD’s was even at its peak… a few hundred players with maybe 100 online at peak times… 16 players was a big group.
And it also meant that if you were not a complete screw-up, you would get invited to do zones pretty frequently… if you had the right class. Or even the wrong class. I played a druid, which was more of a utility class and you really only needed one per group for a zone. But druids could also do some damage and act as backup healers (heal the casters and such), so if a group had an open slot I could end up going along all the same.
And so I ended up in Jotunheim, City of Brass, Tower of the Elementalist, Ice Crag Castle (ICC long before Ice Crown Citidel was a thing), and a dozen or so more raid zones. I even went on the big big zone once, Tiamat’s Lair, an all day affair that involved fighting through the astral plane and into Tiamat’s throne room. As I recall, we made it to the room outside of the throne room before time and wipes ended to effort.
There were (and still are) lots of zones, big and small.
But that was also a point in my life where I could come home on a Friday night with a pizza, some snacks, and a few sodas and say good-bye to the world until Monday morning. But life moves on and those days are behind me. Since then, raiding hasn’t really been a thing for me.
There was a brief resurgence of it when our guild leader in EverQuest II declared that our guild would become a raiding guild and started yelling at people for not keeping up to date with the guild calendar and raid schedule. I tried to play along.
I think the move to raiding actually pushed the guild over a cliff. The guild still remains, but most of the players went off to World of Warcraft. Those we remained in EQII went off to other guilds. The guild remains… and my character Nomu is still in it… mostly as a marker.
I was one of those who ended up in WoW, where raiding is a big part of the game. It has just never been part of the game for me. I have been happy enough with single group, five player content. That is my niche. I like it and I do not begrudge any effort Blizzard spends on larger group content, so long as they throw smaller groups a bone now and again. I have given no thought to actually getting involved in raiding in World of Warcraft in all the years I have played.
Until Blizzard introduced the Looking for Raid option.
More after the cut… because verbosity and me.
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.