Category Archives: World of Warcraft

One Week Until Legion and Invasions Go into Overdrive

Next Wednesday many of us will be storming the shores of the Broken Isles to bring war to the Legion.  Invasions in Azeroth will be over, the level 100 population will empty out of the countryside, and maybe Khadgar’s Upgraded Servant will leave us the hell alone if we don’t want to run that boring quest again.  The damn thing was leaping off the ground and into the air as I flew away from Stormwind, desperately trying to draw my attention to the fact that it had a QUEST for me!!!

Seriously, the thing is a navigational menace

The thing is a navigational menace

Seriously, the first week’s event probably spoiled me for any less than epic follow on quests, but the Khadgar Exposition quests have been exceptionally tedious when compared to the initial go.

But until next week, we carry on with what we have been given, so I spoke to the obtrusive servant with Vikund and took the quest that sent me back to Dalaran-over-Karazhan, where a Combine-Legion ship was shooting its fel armaments at the floating city.

Seriously though, this could be from Half-Life 2

Seriously though, this could be from Half-Life 2

The call was the usual summons to meet up with Khadgar.

Just show up and we'll give you some gold

Just show up and we’ll give you some gold

However, this week Khadgar couldn’t be bothered to lead us around, and just sent us out to run a quick mission while he hung out in the Chamber of the Guardian.  He then summoned the guardian, we watched a ceremony run out, some dialog happened, and then I was in a phase of the room which I would guess was the exit phase, and which was packed with people.

Khadgar draws a crowd

Khadgar draws a crowd

I’m not sure if there was something else going on there or if people just went AFK during the ceremony and ended up there.  But when I managed to click on Khadgar again in that mess, he just told me to go help out by fighting invasions.

Great idea Khadgar, don’t mind if I do!  Because in the final stretch to the WoW Legion expansion, Blizzard has all the invasions running all the time.  Which means all six, three on each continent, on two hour timers.

Invasion sites in Azeroth

Invasion sites in Azeroth

I got out my level 99 druid and sent him off to an invasion immediately, where he hit level 100 before the end of the third stage.

Character six hits the level cap

Character six hits the level cap

I didn’t even stick around for the final stage.  That character is done and set for Legion, though I am still considering swapping him over to the Horde side.  I do not need two Alliance druids on the same server.

That was quick, leaving me to wonder which character to send out next.  I was pondering my level 84 Alliance warrior, with the idea of getting yet another level 100 lined up for Legion.  But I decided to try another warrior instead.

As part of my work over the weekend, I rolled up a Tauren warrior on Azuremyst as a possible character on which to use my level 100 boost.  He was sitting at level 12, all suited up in heirloom plate and weapons… I am really happy about Blizzard losing the whole “change armor types at level 40” thing… and looking for something to do.

So I brought him out to Azshara to see how things went at that level.

The downside for him was that, without a flying mount or even a full speed ground mount, chasing the high value boss mobs during stage three of the event wasn’t really viable.  I got him to the closest one, but after that trying to keep up was a non-starter, as the mobs fell before he could get there.

The upside was more than seven levels of experience in one event.

Started at 12, ended at 19... and inches from 20

Started at 12, ended at 19… and inches from 20

That went so well that I immediately flew out to the Crossroads in The Barrens to run the invasion event there.  And when I say “immediately” I mean I trundled slowly on chauffeur chopper mount that Blizz gave us some time back, rolling through Orgrimmar, Durotar, and eventually into The Barrens, where I got to the Crossroads just in time to get in on the end of stage two, and the start of stage three, which meant chasing more bosses around the zone.

Fel Reaver ahoy!

Fel Reaver ahoy!

I actually did pretty well out of that.  The bosses out in the field were arranged in a way that let me get in on a few kills.  However, once that event was done, it was time for a break while I waited for the invasions to recycle for another run.  I wasn’t keen to try and get down to Tanaris or to roam about the Eastern Kingdoms quite yet.  So it was back to Ogrimmar… this time quickly, as I picked up the flight point… to wait.

And then I realized that I needed to train the first riding skill so I could stop using the baby chariot and start using one of my many ground mounts.  So that was a flight back to Mulgore and then back to Orgrimmar, when I set myself up near the rear gate in anticipation of the next event.

When I logged back in later, the Azshara event was up and going, so I jumped right in.  Running through that put me into the 30s.

Already 30

Already 30

Then it was back to The Barrens for the event at the Crossroads, which left me at level 38.

Not a bad night’s work, getting almost seven levels an event.  It also put some money in my warrior’s pocket.  Since he is wearing heirlooms, he doesn’t need most of the reward gear, so can vendor it for more gold than a fresh character at that level is generally likely to see.

Now the question is, how far should I push with this guy.  60 seems viable, with which I think he would then get primary professions boosted to level 100 along with his adventure level, if I recall right.  Or could I/should I push this guy all the way to 100 and use my level 100 boost on another character?

I’m not sure invasions are that much fun.

Demon Invasion? What, Me Worry?

We are almost done with the second week of the pre-Legion event and it seems like Blizz finally got the invasion event XP mix just about right just in time for the weekend.  The earlier statement about invasion events not being there to help you get characters to level 100 seems to have been replaced with the acceptance that this is something that people want.

So, as long as you are active in the events, there is plenty of sweet, sweet XP out there to be had.  Running invasions with alts was my primary gaming activity over the weekend.

I started off with a warrior I rolled up back in the Cataclysm era to try out the new 1-60 zones like Redridge, that I have been slowly leveling up ever since.  I last left him hanging about at the start of the quest chain in Borean Tundra.

I threw him into the invasions, which seemed to be popping up in three locations in the Eastern Kingdoms, Westfall, Hillsbrad Foothills, and Dun Morogh.

Fun outside Ironforge

Fun outside Ironforge

I was lucky in that somewhere along the line my warrior was grandfathered into the flight point allocation, as he had not been to the latter two locations previously, which meant an additional 15xp points per discovery.

Wearing a set of heirloom plate and having a full blue bar of double XP set, the first couple of invasions were worth more than a level and a half each, despite not having figured out the optimum path through the events yet.

Battling at Dun Morogh

Battling at Dun Morogh

I tinkered around with the various options that each invasion area lends you, which includes some vehicles.

A device of Gnomish origin for sure

A device of Gnomish origin for sure

I eventually found that the best way to boost the experience gained from an invasion event was to follow the pack when it came to stage three, when you are sent out to clear invaders from the zone, and to kill as many bosses as possible.  Fortunately, the pack was easy to spot in Westfall, which became my best XP spot for the event.

Follow the pack to XP!

Follow the pack to XP!

In the other zones, with their more broken terrain, it isn’t always as obvious as to which boss the main pack is headed.  I did okay, but Westfall seemed to be optimal for me.

The gear drops for him were pretty good though, wearing heirlooms, I ended up not using many of them.  It was interesting to see that the item level of invasion gear drops always matched up exactly to the current item level of his heirloom gear, so they seem to both be using the same scale.

I did sail over to Kalimdor once to do events there, but with a warrior who doesn’t have access to all the portals in Pandaria to make for short trips, getting over there was a bit of a chore.  I made the run once and then stuck to the Eastern Kingdoms, though I did hit 80 when I was in Azshara.

In to Cataclysm content

In to Cataclysm content

In the downtime after my warrior had hit the current invasions I pulled out my level 94 druid… not to be confused with my level 100 druid… to run some invasions as well.  Having two druids is a relic of a previous era when swapping spec’s cost money and going from feral to healing required an equipment change.  So I had one druid for cat form and one for healing.

My druid was up to level 98 before the end of Sunday afternoon and was able to do the Legion Broken Isles invasion event, for which he was severely under geared.  Invasions dropped some upgrades, but for the sparring part of the first quest chain, the NPCs were owning him badly.  I had to go scrounge some better gear and buy a better weapon from the auction house, at which point I was able to make the damage check and move on through the event.

I was happy enough to do that, knowing that I would end up with a much improved weapon.  The second event, last week’s “follow Khadgar around as he goes full ‘onion on my belt’ as you try to keep up” challenge, I wasn’t so keen to run again.  However, Khadgar’s Upgraded Servant is on persistent NPC.  It was leaning over my shoulder or chasing me around Stormwind with that great big exclamation point over its head and would not let up.  I last saw it as I was flying off to Westfall yet again, tearing across the city trying desperately to keep up just in case I wanted to accept its quest now dammit.

All in all, I had a good time with the invasion events over the weekend and felt like I made a good deal of progress.  My warrior made it to 84 and my druid is up to 99, though what I am going to do with two level 100 druids remains a question.  One might need to be transferred to the Horde.

My daughter also got out a few of characters and started the climb to 100 with them via the invasion route.

The only real annoyance was the sort of insta-kill attacks that each of the major bosses in the events seemed to posses.  I don’t mind dying, so long as I have a chance to avoid things… circles on the ground, the boss winding up for the big hit, or some such… but there were any number of times when I went from full health and attacking to dead in the snow yet again without any noticeable event in between.

Maybe I'll just stay down for a bit

Maybe I’ll just stay down for a bit

Probably the most ridiculous example of this was a final boss fight in Dun Morogh where the battle got pulled on top of the graveyard and so I kept respawning and dying before I could get clear of the next big insta AOE attack.  I went from fully repaired to paper doll warnings pretty quickly.

Repair your stuff!

Repair your stuff!

Anyway, overall I was happy enough with the events, and dying every once in a while is just a cost of doing business, so to speak.  Now to see what will come with Tuesday’s update as we get into the final week before WoW Legion hits.

Who Has Successfully Changed Horses Midstream?

To start this off, I feel like I first have to address my own point of view on the topic to be covered, so you see where I am coming from.

I actually played right field, but that isn't a metaphor

I actually played right field, but that isn’t a metaphor

I tend to be something of a fatalist in many things, but in video games especially.

For me that means I come to a video game with the view that it is a series of rules and constraints that I have to work within in order to win, progress, succeed, or whatever, and that the idea that the developer ought to change them just to suit me rarely enters my head.  There is more than a bit of the rule following engineer in me.  I take what I am given and try to make it work.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t kvetch about the details of various games.  This blog is a testament to that.  If there is a mechanic that is awkward or horribly inefficient, I will complain about that or suggest improvements.  But that is mostly for myself, to record how I feel about a game at a given moment, and my comments tend to be about tactical issues rather than strategic vision.  I do not expect anybody to be paying attention and I am generally surprised when anything I think might be a good idea actually comes to pass through whatever means. If something changes, I can almost guarantee it had nothing to do with me.

But to suggest that a developer change what is the driving philosophy or core game play elements title to accommodate my tastes would be bizarro world strange.

As an example for illustration, I do not enjoy League of Legends, so I simply do not play the game.  The complete lack of LoL posts here attests to that.  I do enjoy five person PvE dungeons.  Again, plenty of posts to back that up.  But the idea that I should start pestering Riot to make a five person PvE dungeon version of LoL would only occur to me in the context of listing out things I would likely never do.  Despite the fact that their engine could probably handle it, five person dungeons isn’t what LoL is about.  So I don’t post about how they should accommodate my vision here, on their forums, on Reddit, or anyplace else.

And I realize that might just be me, given how often I see people suggest that if only game X had feature/aspect/mini-game Y, then they and thousands to millions of like minded individuals would rush to the game, bringing success.  Many an arm chair developer has a plan to save a given game or even the whole industry based suspiciously on their own tastes in video games.

This all comes to mind because of the persistence of the “walking in stations” idea in EVE Online.  Kirith Kodachi wrote a great post on the topic, a “what if” scenario, where walking in stations becomes a success, which illustrates the whole problem I have with the idea.  The feature essentially requires CCP to develop a new game, distinct from the space focused current game, in order to make walking in stations anything beyond a gimmick.

Whatever you think about it, you cannot deny that walking in stations would require fundamentally different game play than what is the focus of EVE Online today.

However, I don’t want to get into the holy war over whether or not walking in stations would be a good thing though.  And believe me, my own relationship with the idea isn’t as cut and dried as you might think.

Instead, I am looking for examples from other games, especially MMORPGs, where the developer has, after launch, departed from their core philosophy or game play plan, and achieved success beyond what they had previously seen.

When has the idea that more people would play a game if it changed fundamentally actually come to pass?

I can only come up with examples where greater success did not follow.

I think of Trammel and consensual PvP in Ultima Online, or Star Wars Galaxies and the NGE, or that “fine, we’ll give you a PvE progression experience” expansion for Dark Age of Camelot that I cannot remember the name of right now, or the distraction of PvP in EverQuest II.

Which is not to say somebody didn’t like all of those things.  One of the lessons you learn from blogging is that any feature, no matter how bad or annoying it is, will have somebody stand up for it and declare it their favorite thing ever.

But none of these led to greater success.

Even World of Warcraft, which is, as always, the outlier in this, having the budget to add in all sorts of non-core features, still lives and dies on their core PvE content.  Five million people did not drop out of the game last year because of problems with battlegrounds, arena combat, or pet battles, they dropped out because they didn’t like, or too quickly consumed, the overland, dungeon, and raid PvE content.

So plenty of negatives, and I didn’t even start down the path of gaming franchises that remain successful year after year despite offering up nothing substantially different in core game play.  Everything from Pokemon to Civilization to Call of Duty that goes from success to success with only minor variations seems to argue against changing horses midstream.  Find your rut and stick with it forever!

But just because I can’t come up with an example of success in this regard doesn’t mean there haven’t been any.  There are more things in online gaming than are dreamt of in my rather limited philosophy.

Who has done it?  Who has made a success of a fundamental change of game play or philosophy on a live game?  There has to be some example out there, even if it is a special case that worked only because the conditions were just right.  I would prefer an MMO example, but something MMO-ish would suffice.

Pondering That Legion Level 100 Boost

We just entered the second week of pre-Legion events.  I have been running through them just to make sure I do not miss anything.  Last week’s, the opening of the invasion, was pretty fun.  This weeks seems to mostly involve listening to Khadgar talk.

Have shovel, will... listen to some old guy talk and talk...

Have shovel, will… listen to some old guy talk and talk…

Okay, it wasn’t all talking.  I had to travel to Dalaran’s new location… though it is still in its old location as well, though I am sure somebody will tell me the lore says that there are not two Dalarans… and there was something about retrieving and overdue library book.  It was hard to tell, as Khadgar is not voiced, so his monologue is all in the chat window in a yellow/tan colored font that blended right into the background colors, rendering it illegible to me.  I could only really follow when people were shouting… and people did shout… though I felt like I missed something in between shouts.  However you just have to follow Khadgar around, click on whatever sparkles, kill whoever is red, and you are about set.

I assume next week we will have a new chapter in the pre-Legion events.

My daughter was doing the invasions with a low level character once she discovered that they scaled to your level.  She was out there with a level 32 paladin fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with level 100s and everything worked perfectly, plus the exp was huge, allowing her to level up.  So Blizzard nerfed that.  The cynic in me says that you can’t have people catching up too fast when you want to sell level 100 boosts.

Which brings us to today’s pondering.  When the WoW Legion expansion finally arrives at our home, it will include a level 100 boost as part of the package.  As I wondered what to do with the Warlords of Draenor level 90 boost, now I wonder what the upcoming level 100 boost.

The choice ought to be easier this time around.  I already have five level 100s here at the eve of WoW Legion, compared to just three level 90s before Warlords of Draenor.  So I can drop the following from the list:

  • Paladin
  • Hunter
  • Druid
  • Deathknight
  • Rogue

Add in the fact that I will also get to roll up an effectively level 100 Demon Hunter and that will be six characters ready for Legion covering half of the available classes.

Which leaves the following to choose from for the boost:

  • Mage
  • Monk
  • Priest
  • Shaman
  • Warlock
  • Warrior

At this point, with half the classes at level cap currently, I have to start wondering which class would even add anything to my play experience.  I have rolled up all of the classes and, aside from the warlock, played them up to at least level 40.

My gut is to go with the warrior, another plate wearing melee class, which is more my style for solo play.  I haven’t really enjoyed the cloth wearing caster classes in WoW over the life of the game.  That would leave Monk or Shaman as alternatives, though the Shaman has always been a strange bird as well.

On top of all of that, we just had the WoW 7.0 class revamp patch a few weeks back that made some people unhappy.  I am certainly unhappy with my Hunter, and doubly so because I was looking forward to having three viable Hunter specs.  Instead I feel like Blizzard just wants people to stop playing Hunters.

I am also a bit cranky still with my Paladin.  I have gotten somewhat used to the retribution spec at this point, but it still feels awkward.

On the other hand my Druid(s), at least in feral spec, seems to play just fine.  I like being able to cast moonfire… along with a bonus healing touch now and again… when in cat form.  Works for me!

So I might have to throw out what I know about some classes and ask which of them actually got better after the 7.0 patch.  I have noticed  of late that in any group, the top damage output always seems to be some arcane missile throwing Mage.  But I have also heard people bitching about the Warlock changes.

And then there is the wildcard in the equation for me.

When it came to the Warlords of Draenor boost, I eventually went with a Deathknight, mostly because he was over level 60 and so also got me trained up on a pair of primary professions with the boost.  However, given the state of crafting in Draenor, that was less of a bonus than I thought it might be.  I did play him through to level 100 and I did get him a level 3 garrison, but I didn’t do much else with him.  He hasn’t built a shipyard or been to Taanan Jungle or anything.

In hindsight, however, I feel as though I made an error.  And not just an error in choosing a Deathknight, but an error in choosing which faction.  After my third or fourth time through Draenor as an Alliance character, I began to wonder if perhaps I ought to have gone with a Horde character so I could at least play through their version of the story line and maybe play with their (pointy) version of a garrison.

In fact, one reason I did not boost a Horde character is that the ones I have are all still in their 60s and one of the things on my long term “To Do” list is to play the Horde side of the story in… basically all the expansions.  And I haven’t done that yet.

So I am thinking that this time around I will boost a Horde character… and get back to the previous expansions at some later date.

Of course, that just throws the gates wide open on class choices.  If the difference is going to be storyline, it doesn’t matter so much if I do it with another Druid of Paladin I suppose.

And then there is the question as to what server I should roll up my new character.  Again, without a guild or any Horde pals, I am not exactly tied to Eldre’Thalas.

So I have a couple weeks to figure that out.  What are you doing with your level 100 boost?  And what would you do in my position?

Fresh from the Legion Invasion Event

My daughter is a little annoyed with me at present.

On Tuesday the WoW Legion pre-launch in-game events kicked off, which included access to the new Demon Hunter class for people who pre-ordered the expansion.

Play it... you know you want to...

Play it… you know you want to…

I had to explain that while technically we had indeed pre-ordered, we had done so through Amazon so we could get the Amazon Prime 20% discount.  Saving $10 per copy means waiting until August 30th to play the Demon Hunter.  This did not make her happy, and she tried various ways to get me to just pay the extra $10, but I was not moved.  Instead I just pointed her to the invasion events going on in the game which don’t require you to be any special class.

LODemonInvasion
The event is live!  I skipped the first night’s fun, figuring it might be a mess, but decided to give it a try last night.  The game is not subtle about getting you to this even either.  The “Hey, New Stuff!” screen that comes up when you log in lets you accept the quest right then and there, and the intro quest will teleport you to Stormwind (on the Alliance side, presumably Orgrimmar for the Horde) so you can get started.

There is a bit of a warm up and the quest chain hands you the first of several ilevel 700 items you will collect along the way, before you join the invasion fleet.  It starts off with us doing the invading.

Sailing from Stormwind

Sailing from Stormwind

The destination is, of course, that spot on the map that we’ve all somehow missed over the last dozen years, the Broken Isles.

We're going here!

How did we not see these before?

There you are set on what is essentially a scenario designed to lay the the foundation story for the expansion.  You visit exotically green places… fel is ever the design motif of the Legion.

Kind of dig that cat's head cannon

Kind of dig that dragon’s head cannon

And, of course, you run into some of the usual cast of characters that even I, in my general lore obliviousness, have come to know.  You can’t have fel demons without Gul-dan somewhere in the background.

Gul'dan getting his fel mojo on

Gul’dan getting his fel mojo on

I don’t want to spoil the event for others with too many details (Liore will do that for you), but it crams together the usual Azerothian story elements of hubris, betrayal, famous names, tragic deaths, and a selfless sacrifice so that we could escape back to Stormwind on the last chopper out of Saigon.

Back in Stormwind, we find that there is a counter invasion to fight.  The demons were coming for us.

There might be a spoiler in this picture

There might be a spoiler in this picture

Once the fight in Stormwind was over, the quest chain turned to the world.  I was instructed to open up the map of the Eastern Kingdoms, find an invasion, fly to it, and join in the fight.

The only one on the map for me was up in the Hillsbrad Foothills, which doesn’t have a Alliance flight point anymore, so I took the bird to Arathi and fly myself to the event from there.

The even itself was centered on Tarren Mill.  After the event was over I realized I had the “Tarren Mill Terror” title up on Vikund, a reward for the Southshore event Blizz ran back in late 2014/early 2015, which seemed appropriate.

The event was a demon stomp to start with, and we all piled on together, Alliance and Horde shoulder to shoulder, to burn them down as they appeared.

In the chaos at Tarren Mill

In the chaos at Tarren Mill

Of course, there were a couple of Horde players flagged PvP, no doubt waiting for people to accidentally tab target them so they could kill them in the chaos. (And I am sure my fellow Alliance players included a few people doing the same.)  I managed not to get tripped up by that trap.

After a couple rounds of that, we were sent told to fan out across the zone to destroy Legion invasion points, after which we were recalled back to the mill for the final boss fight.  There there were congratulations via the new-to-me event dialog system that appears on the lower part of your screen. (I cannot recall seeing it before, but I may have forgotten it.)

Message from the event

Message from the event

And, of course, an achievement.

LOAchi

Then it was back to Stormwind to turn in the quest.  There was another ilevel 700 item in it, plus some loot boxes that ended up in my inventory as part of the event.  All in all, about an hour of play time to see the whole thing.  It was fun enough, in a chaotic sort of way, though I might have had more fun had I figured out how to play my ret pally before I jumped in.  I have the updated skills all laid out on my hotbars, but I feel like I am doing it wrong… which is generally a sign that I am, in fact, doing it wrong.  Have to read up on that.

Also interesting was sort of sizing up the event and how Blizz did things.  The whole thing drew on Blizzard’s past experiences and mechanics.  There was a bit of phasing, some borrowing from scenarios, some LFR mechanics, all their cross-server grouping stuff, and probably more bits I missed on the first pass, pressed together to funnel as many players as it needed to handle through a set of events without there being bottlenecks or long waits.

For example, there was no wait when I boarded the first ship in Stormwind and sailed off to the first round of fun, though there was a “look and see what is happening!” period as the ship approached the Broken Isles where I bet more people were joining my version of the tale.  And, at that point, it was Alliance and Horde together in a raid, running as two groups up different paths, but fighting the same boss at one point.

Also, when it came to the event at Tarren Mill, I appeared to have arrived at just the right moment as the event was starting off with its first stage.  I doubt I am that I just happened to wander in at exactly the right tick.  I am simply not that lucky.  I am going to guess that when I got in range of the event, I was put in with a cross server group that also was just starting up as well.

So Blizzard looks to have put this together to be as seamless as possible.  It is a theme park ride, and a casual one at that.  You can get in trouble if you wander off by yourself, but so long as you stick with the pack you are probably fine.  But it was designed to show you the story and get you involved/invested in the fight.  And the invasions will keep coming at an increased tempo if I understand correctly, right up until the expansion launches.

I will have to get out my other level 100s to run through it again to see how it holds up over repeat performances.  But we are clearly on our way to the new expansion at last.

I Bet Blizzard Really Wants to Mention Subscription Numbers About Now…

World of Warcraft remains the No. 1 subscription‐based MMORPG in the
world.

Activision Blizzard Q2 2016 Financial Results

It is easy to justify dumping a metric when it isn’t portraying you well.  But once you’ve publicly vowed never to bring that metric up again, and suddenly it might show you in a good light, what do you do?

Apparently you beat around the bush hinting about it.

Yesterday was the Activision Blizzard call for the Q2 2016 financial results.  All the data and slides are over at the investor relations site.

ActiBlizz450

The company had plenty of good news to report.  Revenue was strong, their monthly active user (MAU) metric was up, and they had a hot new title to brag about in Overwatch, which has sales in the $500 million range to date.

They also highlighted Blizzard in general, which had strong growth, and World of Warcraft in particular.  Along with the quote at the top of the post, they say:

…strong pre-expansion momentum for World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft MAUs double digit growth quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year

[Legion] per-purchases tracking in-line with the last expansion.

Strong momentum in China following the Warcraft film…

That all sounds great, but they are just words.  What does “momentum” really mean here?  If you don’t publish per-game MAUs, which are a bullshit metric anyway, is double really that good?  Why aren’t they ten times better?  And if you make the claim that your game is the #1 subscription based MMORPG, I think it is incumbent on you to back that claim up.

Yes, the categories on the balance sheet where WoW fits in are up quite a bit, a sign that something is going on.  And if you’re playing WoW right now, it likely “feels” like the so-called “momentum” is building, that more players are back in the game.  I doubt anybody would seriously argue, with the WoW Legion expansion this close, that numbers are not up.

But you know what would seal the deal?  A nice little statement about how, at the end of Q2 2016, back on June 30th, after a year long content drought, subscriptions were already trending up on anticipation of the expansion with a hard number.  Anything higher that 5.5 million would do, though I think if they could have said 7 million it would have been a massive validation that the game is still strong and still has its own legion of loyal fans.

But instead, last November, when things were down, Blizz said they were not going to talk about subscription numbers any more.

I made what I felt was the case for continuing to report them every quarter.  Saying you’re number one is fine, but it isn’t news.  Trotting out a 7 digit subscription number though, that guarantees some headlines, be it up, down, or stable.  That gets your game in the eye of the press and being talked about.

I wonder, if WoW Legion does well, really well, and subscriptions are up into 8 digit figures again, if Blizzard will be content to just claim they are number one still, or will they roll out a special press release for that?

July in Review

The Site

Nothing exciting happened to the site itself this month.  The scheduled post notification, which still uses the “new comment” icon most of the time, is still annoying.  I haven’t quite gotten around to looking at the blogger feed in the side bar just yet.  So all I have is that at some point this month I passed the 4,000 post mark.

Quantity... has a quantity all its own...

Quantity… has a quantity all its own…

Also, I still have some storage space left, which a concern given the number of screen shots I upload.

One Year Ago

I was feeling a bit of the summertime MMO ennui blues.

Project: Gorgon was off with another Kickstarter campaign.  Would the third time be a charm? (Spoiler: yes.)

Need for Speed: World shut down, so I said farewell to Palmont.

Derek Smart began what would become is crusade against Star Citizen, detailing why he felt we would never see the game that was promised.  It could have ended there, but RSI responded in a way guaranteed to turn it into a fight and took away his Rear Admiralty.   Game on!

In Minecraft I was learning about not falling off of things, bringing light to dark places, and accumulating materials.  Also, sheep stole my mine cart.

I was mucking around in War Thunder for a bit.  It is a pain to return to the game because there is always a huge update required.

Over at Daybreak, there was a vote up for the EverQuest progression server Ragefire about speeding up the unlock of Ruins of Kunark, as well as talk about raids and such.

On the EverQuest II side of the house, there was a beta for its first nostalgia servers.  I avoided the beta but was there when the servers went live… for the big surprise, the return of the Isle of Refuge, adding to the nostalgia experience.

And while that was going on, it appeared to be the end of Smed at Daybreak.

In New Eden my alliance, TNT, handed over its last system in Deklein. We then lived in Tribute.

The Aegis expansion hit… but there was a delay between that and other bits of what we now call Fozzie sov to be deployed.  But entosis link modules were finally able to take sov as the month rolled along.  So we started to learn by doing.

There was a plan in the Imperium to bring in care bears to mine and rat in order to raise ADMs so that our now much reduced space holdings would remain secure.

At one point Mordus Angels managed to claim some sovereignty in Pure Blind!  Can you imagine?  Crazy times!

Meanwhile, in the cash shop… erm… New Eden store, more skins were being rolled out.  Or, rather, the same skin on more ships.  The blog banter of the month was on about attributes, and I was bitching about never having enough jump clones.

On the Azeroth front, Blizzard said they would be announcing the next World of Warcraft expansion… right after the Q2 quarterly report was released, which raised some suspicions in me.  What would the subscription numbers look like if they felt they needed a big announcement to distract from them?

And I finally got my copy of Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls from the Kickstarter… only two years late.

Five Years Ago

Google+ was already starting to become annoying.

I tried Civ WorldI didn’t like it.

In EVE Online, the results of the emergency CSM Incarna summit were released with CCP basically saying, “Ooops.”

I hit level 50 in LOTRO, got into Eregion, and actually saw the door into Moria.   Only a couple of years had passed since I bought the expansion. Gaff was ahead of me, as usual.   Meanwhile, Isengard was in beta, but nobody was supposed to talk about it.

Getting lost… rules.

EA, BioWare, and their new Origin service got together and combined my accounts without bothering to mention they were doing it in advance.  Just another day at EA as I understand it.  Customers come behind their own convenience.  Still, I was interested in their authenticator and how it stacked up against others.  Can you actually buy those yet without getting the CE?

Speaking of authenticators, SOE made one available as well that looked just like the Blizzard model.  But they cannot be swapped, one for the other.  I got the official line from VASCO on that.

And on the SOE front, they announced that they were going to revamp Freeport, which I took as a waste of time.  (Plus, of course, Qeynos got shoved off until later.)  I am still not convinced that either revamp was worth the effort of the time spent downloading the assets.  But I am not sure Beastlords were either.  They seemed pretty broken when they launched.

The instance group wrapped up our last adventure in EverQuest II Extended.  There were a number of way the game wasn’t right for us.  It wasn’t just the ugly mounts.

The pending closure of Star Wars Galaxies led to interest (and concerns) about SWG emulation.

But PlanetSide 2 news was coming.  I think they are in closed technical alpha at this point.

I started playing Need for Speed: World, a driving MMO.  It wasn’t a bad game with the right music playing.

Zynga helped reveal the two faces of Tobold.

And World of Warplanes was announced, which got me wondering if this might not be a spiritual successor to Air Warrior of old.

Ten Years Ago

July 2006 was some sort of barren wasteland for related news.

Microsoft was talking about a device to challenge the iPod and denying they would ship an XBox 360 with an HD DVD drive.  Being on the mark half the time is pretty good for them.

EA was trying to retain people by giving out more stock options while Take-Two Interactive was being investigated over stock grants.

The ESA announced they were downsizing their yearly E3 conference.

The Civ IV – Warlords expansion came out on Windows and Super Dragonball Z launched on the PlayStation 2.  Woo hoo.

Featured Sites of the Month

For this month’s featured MMO Blog I want to bring your attention to:

I have my own EVE Online picture blog, but Mark726 at EVE Travel goes way beyond that, finding the various attractions in New Eden, documenting them, telling you where to find them, and how dangerous the journey might be.

Then of the “other” site of the month, I want to point you at is:

Connor has been running MMO Fallout for over seven years now.  He covers MMO news that doesn’t always make the big news sites.  It is not unusual to see Massively note MMO Fallout as an initial source for a story.  If you want to know about what is up with Jagex or NCSoft or some other non-headline grabbing companies, it is a site that should be in your feed.

Most Viewed Posts in July

  1. WoW and the Case for Subscription Numbers
  2. Titans Down in Okagaiken Trap
  3. The 7.0 Patch Looms
  4. Pre-Ordering WoW Legion at a Discount
  5. The Pokemon GO Phenomenon
  6. LOTRO Headed for the Grey Havens?
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Cross Country to Frostfire Ridge and the Bloodmaul Slag Mines
  9. Last Moves Before the Big Move
  10. Defeat in the North and New Destinations
  11. Pointed Towards Delve
  12. Last Minute Garrison Gold Grubbing

Search Terms of the Month

orcs fucking
[What I get for using the phrase “more fucking orcs” in a post I guess]

دانلود بازیهای پورنو برای
[This is what the Ayatollah said would happen]

where is darkrai in pokemon emerald
[Nowhere, as it happens]

eve online on kindle
[I don’t think that meets the system requirements]

world of warcraft legion will suck
[There is always somebody…]

origin unifies your gaming life
[Unity is over rated]

EVE Online

It was time for a change of direction in New Eden.  After a strong start to the month, where we bagged some titan kills, The Imperium gave up its war in the north, postponed the reconquista indefinitely, and set its sights on Delve, the traditional place for Goons to invade.

And then we spent the rest of the month packing our stuff and hauling 41 gates/13 jumps south through hostile territory.

EverQuest II

I wasn’t expecting to play much in Norrath.  My account was set to lapse soon.  However, the Race to Trakanon server came up and I used my last few days to get to level 10 and collect a “one for every character on your account” mount as a prize.  Worth the effort to me.

Minecraft

I have spent some time in our Minecraft world, but I haven’t had a real project to focus on.  so I built another base with a giant structure along the great rail loop.  I am thinking about trying to build some sort of city skyline in the near distance along the rail line, with lit up windows so if you take the rail line at night it will look like… well… a city skyline at night with windows lit up.  We’ll see.

Pokemon GO

Since I do not actually have a smart phone, Pokemon GO hasn’t really been much of a game for me, personally.  And yet it is everywhere.  It is something those birthday cards that list out what was going on during the year you were born will mention decades from now.  As to whether or not it will survive as a game, I couldn’t tell you.  But it has gotten to much press to be forgotten now.

World of Warcraft

There was the roll up to the 7.0 patch… and after that I sort of lost interest.  The game is in a strange spot for me, as I am somewhat interested in playing, but not so much that I want to get out and do things with my level 100s.  When I have played, it has mostly been with lower level alts.

Coming Up

Considering what an empty month August can be, with so many people on vacation, there are actually some things coming up.

There are the Olympics, provided anybody is going to show up and compete.

There will be a chill Blaugust event according to Belghast.  Sign up today!

WoW Legion pre-launch events will be kicking off, and people who pre-ordered the expansion directly from Blizzard will have access to the new Demon Hunter class on August 9th.  Scrubs like me who got the 20% Amazon Prime pre-order discount will have to wait until the box shows up on or around the expansion launch date.

And then there is the big WoW Legion expansion launch on August 30th.  Will the servers be ready for it?  How long will the queues be on opening night?  How many people will show up?

In New Eden we should be done moving to Delve and ready to attack the region in force.  Lots of player groups in the area likely to oppose us.

Plus we will have to see how Pokemon GO fares as time wears on, school starts, and gyms are taken over by increasingly higher CP Pokemon.