Category Archives: WoW Classic

March in Review

The Site

As of a post earlier this week I had a post up every single day for an entire year.  The last day here on the site without a post was March 27, 2020.

AYearOfPosts2021
Filled in the blocks for a full year

Like a lot of such achievements, I did not set out to do this, but once I noticed it was happening it became a thing.  I rolled into last April with a plan to post every day due to the Blapril event.  Making it through that I had enough momentum to bring me through May and into June.  Then a war started brewing in EVE Online, which was fresh and exciting in late June of last year, but which has grown routine by now.  That gave me a lot to post about and I decided to stretch my posting run into August for the Blaugust celebration.  And once I had gotten through that I had almost a half a year streak going, so why not carry on.

As for what it means… well, it doesn’t really mean anything.  It is my own little post streak.  I think the previous such streak went for four months.  I just have to decide how much it really means to me to have an unbroken run of daily posts, because once I let it lapse it will take me at least a year to get back.

I will say that it is a good thing  I made it to this milestone, such that it is, this week.  Because this week saw WordPress.com finally delete the old classic editor, which I have been using for more than 14 years at this point, in order to force users into their new block editor, which was designed by a sadist and implemented by people who clearly don’t have to use it.  It impedes my ability to write.

Seriously, it sucks.  Even the classic block, which they claim is the same as the classic editor, sucks.  Features are missing, it keeps asking me if I want to convert to other blocks, everything takes a few more clicks to accomplish, and it is rather insistent that 24 time doesn’t exist. And don’t get me started on what happens to a post if you accidentally click that persistent “convert to blocks” button if you’re working in the classic block tab. I had to throw away a post and start over it was so mangled.

And they also did away with the old dashboard and stats, so even managing posts and comments and such is a huge pain in the ass now.  And data I used for things like my annual review post… well, that is just no longer accessible.

It is all a punch in the gut that doesn’t make me enthusiastic to post every day.

I sent in a complaint detailing all of this and I expect to hear back from one of their “Happiness Engineers” ignoring everything I wrote and gushing about how wonderful the block editor is with a link to a video.  The next helpful response I get from them will be the first.

Addendum: I enabled the new “Advanced Dashboard Pages” option and got back the ability to use the old Classic Editor once more. So yay! Why it was linked to that option I cannot explain, but I’ll take it.

One Year Ago

Oh man, it was the start of the pandemic lockdown, the March that lasted forever as we all learned how to stay home.  Fortunately I received a Ninendo Switch Lite for my birthday to keep me busy.

I did another poll about which voice service people were using.  Discord swept the poll.

I summed up the Winter Fantasy Movie League run, but FML was soon put on a pause due to theaters being shut.

Gamigo CEO Remco Westerman was unironically going on about synergy.

I was still playing a bit of EverQuest II, though it was mostly the Overseer feature getting me to log in.  EverQuest turned 21, which brought with is new servers, server merges, and other special items.  We got a free heroic upgrade… to level 85… which I used on one of my characters.

The big news from Daybreak though was Holly Longdale, who had been running the Norrath franchise for the company, leaving for Blizzard.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working through Razorfen Downs before heading off to UldamanArchaedas was an issue, but with some suggestions we were able to finish him as a four person group.

I was also trying to farm the Hydrocane from Gnomeregan.

In EVE Online there was an early March update that brought us some changes, which was followed later with an update that included low sec and faction warfare changes as well as giving battleships a frigate escape bay.  CCP was also moving along with their economic privation plan, announcing the removal of minerals from moons.  The February MER was already showing mineral prices rising and this was expected to make them go higher still.

CCP threw more skill points at us.

There was a question as to whether of not there should be a shooter from CCP like Project Nova.

Out in space we were packing up to head home from VenalLiberty Squad was done as Terrifying League of Dog Fort corp, which was running the group, left the alliance to find adventure elsewhere.

There was a plan for Blapril, an early run at Blaugust, as we were all home with free time.

And there were some Friday Bullet Points from Gamasutra, including some more about CCP’s Project Nova.

Five Years Ago

Daybreak announced that they were giving up on EverQuest Next.  That left me wondering what the future looked like for Landmark.  It wasn’t going to have PvP.

I also wrote up a post about all of the SOE/Daybreak MMOs and their then current (and mostly closed) status.  Things still looked pretty good for EverQuest at 17, though I wasn’t sure how experience injectors were going to play out in EverQuest II.

Also in EverQuest II the PvP version of their retro nostalgia server, Deathtoll, was getting folded into the PvE version, Stormhold, due to lack of interest, thus ending open world PvP in the game outside of that Russian server.  I was looking for nostalgia on the Stormhold side of things again.

Voting kicked off for CSM 11 with Xenuria on the official Imperium ballot.  How things change.

The monthly EVE Online update introduced Project Discovery and made it so you had to be mutual friends in order to track somebody’s online status in your contact list.  The month’s blog banter wanted people to imagine other games based off of the EVE Online IP, so I went with something akin to Diplomacy.

There were a bunch of little EVE Online things, like server upgrades, downtime compensation, and skill injector fun that I put into one bullet points post.  I like those posts when I do them, I hate them a year later when I want to do my summary.  It is easier when each topic has its own post!

Fighting was going on as the Casino War widened.  Some of the coalition was staged in Saranen, which meant flying quite a ways to defend territory on the far side of Tribute, including an unfortunate event with a Higgs anchor rig on my Guardian.  There were things going on in several regions, including a really good brawl in Fade.

Then the weight in numbers began to tell as we had to fight fires on several fronts.  I wondered if we were going to have a last stand at VFK-IV.  The plan, however, was not to waste ships against the superior numbers arrayed against us.  Instead we gave up territory, announcing the abandonment of the Vale of the Silent region, occupied by Lawn and Bastion, with one constellation owned by Circle-of-Two.  CO2 decided to leave the Imperium over this in order to save their territory, which would soon be the front line in the war, betraying us even as the fight was still going on in M-OEE8.  Once the war was over their new friends turned on them and took their territory anyway.  Who says there are no happy endings?

The M-OEE8 fight was still a big one and got CCP some press.  That is one thing null sec is good for, bringing attention to the game.

Black Desert Online went live and much bitching about the cash shop ensued, so I couldn’t resist jumping on that bandwagon yet again.  The cash shop is a necessary evil at this point.

I was poking fun at VR, which is still struggling for relevance.  Meanwhile EVE Valkyrie and Gunjack went live with the official Occulus Rift launch.

Minecraft 1.9, the Combat Upgrade landed, giving us shields.  I stopped wearing one of those ages ago, as you can’t read maps, among other things, if you have one on.

In Minecraft Aaron’s zombie pig farm was causing MC Pro Hosting to lag out on us.  But we made the switch to the much more reasonably priced Minecraft Realms hosting option, which solved that issue.  Premium pricing was not getting us premium service.

In Diablo III I was chasing the Season 5 set dungeon.

And, finally, things looked grim for WildStar, with China cancelled, layoffs, and dwindling revenue.

Ten Years Ago

Rift officially launched.  And while I wasn’t playing, the social media options integrated into the game made it feel like I was there.  And I don’t mean that in a good way.

Pokemon Black and White came out, which became the theme for my birthday.

World of Tanks was talking about going live in April.  There was, of course, a pre-order offer.  There always is these days.

Potshot and I made it to GDC thanks to Darren, where we were able to hobnob with the likes of Brian Green and Damion Schubert.

March of ten years ago found me spending time in EverQuest.  It was on the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, which at that point was still set in the original EverQuest zones.  Potshot and I were doing some classic things, like getting stuck in the Ocean of Tears and making alts.  And running out of money.

There were the newbie armor quests to work on, which required travel to Freeport at one point, something as hard as we remembered.  We also visited Unrest, North Karana, the Desert of Ro, and Najena.

It was also the 12 year anniversary of the EverQuest launch, and nobody was more surprised that I that I was playing the game 12 years later.  But no corpse runs please.

The instance group, still in Cataclysm Worgen form, spent a couple of nights in Scarlet Monastery and then went to Razorfen Kraul.

I put up a poll asking people which of several items in my drafts folder (current population: 88) I should buckle down on and finish.  I think almost everything on the list except the winner is still in my drafts folder.

And I came home one day to find the TV had died.  Emergency CPR (read: banging on the damn thing) brought it back to life temporarily, but clearly a replacement was going to be needed.  It was, after all, a few years older than EverQuest.

Fifteen Years Ago

World of Warcraft hit 6 million subscribers.  Eventually it would double that number.  And later it would sink below that number.  WoW Classic seemed to get it back up to that number again, though all such numbers from Blizzard are pretty vague these days.

Twitter launched, but who in the hell wants a platform limited to just 140 characters?  Or 280 characters now I guess.

Brent, going by the “Prognosticator” handle back then, launched the VirginWorlds podcast which began what was, for me, the golden age of MMO podcasting and eventually nudged me into blogging.  Trust me to pick up the old trend when a new one starts.  His site had fallen into disrepair over the years and, recently, disappeared altogether.  Time to pull it from the side bar I think.  I still have all the podcasts in my iTunes library, and you can peruse the site and descriptions over at the Internet Archive.

Twenty Years Ago

Nintendo released the GameBoy Advance, the handheld model between the GameBoy Color and the Nintendo DS.  Games for the GBA were still available when I eventually got a Nintendo DS as it had a GBA cartridge slot to allow backward compatibility.

Thirty Years Ago

Neverwinter Nights, an online multiplayer Dungeons & Dragons themed game launched on AOL.  In an age of text and MUDs, it was an online graphical multiplayer RPG and either one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs, depending on how you want to define the “massive” part of the acronym.

Sierra Online launched The Sierra Network… their name having “online” in it before they had an actual online presence was a mistake in hindsight I suppose… which includes the title The Shadow of Yserbius as part of the package, which was also an online graphical multiplayer RPG (or a graphical MUD as they called it), which also gives it a claim to either being one of the first, or a direct precursor to, modern MMORPGs.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. The Federation Grand Prix Starts in EVE Online with Events and Login Rewards
  2. Death on the Plains in Valheim
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  5. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  6. Robbing Some Space Banks
  7. SupreData says WoW Jumped in Subscribers and Revenue
  8. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  9. SuperData and Wavering WoW Subscriptions
  10. CCP Now Just Baby Steps from Selling EVE Online Skill Points Directly
  11. Diablo II Act Five and some Thoughts
  12. What Does LOTRO Need?

Search Terms of the Month

valheim keep dying in black forest
[Wait until you walk into the plains!]

i came upon fulings and died valheim
[Yeah, though the deathsquitos are worse]

why cant i buy large skill injectors with plex?
[Sell the PLEX, use the ISK, problem solved]

eve online casino
[That was the war five years back]

eve online what is really going on in null
[Damn if I know]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Let me know when you undock]

why it’s all about money just bomb ccp get rid of them
[What were you even searching for?]

making fake favebook profit for oculus
[Favebook is like that]

how to clean pokewalker
[Don’t put it in the washing machine!]

Game Time from ManicTime

Once again this month saw Valheim take up most of my focus. The time split was as follows:

  • Valheim – 84.71%
  • EVE Online – 10.90%
  • WoW Classic – 4.30%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.10%

At this point Valheim is where I have spent about half of my gaming time so far this year. In the first half of the month I had more time on it that in my main browser. (Though, to be fair, I have to split between Firefox and Chrome for work related items.)

EVE Online

The war carries on.  I’ve said that a few times, haven’t I?  This past month was a bit lighter for me that January and February.  My participation status shows over 100 ops in the last 90 days, but only about 15 of those were in the last 30 days.  Blame Valheim a bit, but more it is the fact that no grand events have been happening really.  I did do the Federation Grand Prix for the SKINs on an alt, but that was another story.

Pokemon Go

My wife and I both made it to level 41.  It wasn’t that tough of a climb.  We were helped along by the fact that we had accumulated some xp after hitting level 40 but before the new levels were announced.  Not as much as some… I have people in my friends list who have as much as 60 million xp pre-done… but it boosted us along a bit.  Now for level 42.

Level: 41 (15% of the way to 42 in xp, 2 of 4 tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 628 (+9) caught, 656 (+9) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 12
Pokemon I want: Need Eevees for the level 42 tasks
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

As you can see from the ManicTime numbers, this is the title that dominated my gaming time again this month.  Right now on our world we’re ready to slay Moder once we can get on together and then we will be moving towards the plains. 

World of Warcraft

I did log into retail WoW, though only for Darkmoon Faire and a few pet battles.  I did nothing out in the Shadowlands expansion.  The events there have skipped far enough ahead of me that I likely won’t ever catch up.  My renown remains meager and such.

WoW Classic

While the instance group has been mostly focused on Valheim, I did find a bit of time to run around with my paladin alt.  I’d like to get him up to 60… or at least 58… before Burning Crusade Classic shows up.

Coming Up

Well, tomorrow is April Fools, so I am pretty sure some of you can guess what the post of the day will be about.  It is the same thing every year.

In Valheim we have two bosses left to take on.  We might actually accomplish that and get back to spending a bit of time in  WoW Classic, though I suspect we’ll keep the Valheim world up and keep building and such.  It has a Minecraft-like appeal in that.

I expect that we’ll start getting some news about a timeline for Burning Crusade Classic.

And in EVE Online CCP is ready to turn industry upside down by changing dramatically how all ships larger than a battlecruiser, plus all T2 and faction ships, are built.  When even the devs are predicting chaos and things taking 4-6 months to settle down you know we’re in for a wild ride.

The March to Burning Crusade Classic Begins

Blizzard announced this week that the anticipated beta for Burning Crusade Classic has begun.

Beta is now a thing

Of course, it was anticipated… there was a whole panel about it at BlizzCon Online… but while there is information out there, an actual timeline towards launch is just speculation and rumors at this point.  I don’t think we’re on track for that May 3rd/4th rumor from the beginning of the year, but early-to-mid summer still seems like a very viable window for launch.

Meanwhile, I haven’t said much about WoW or WoW Classic around here for a while.

Our group finished up Blackrock Depths back around mid-February and, since then, we have been wrapped up with Valheim, with WoW mostly falling by the wayside as we explored the viking afterlife.

I don’t think that means we’re done with WoW Classic.  But, after a year and a half of slowly working our way through the original content, I think a bit of a break to do something else might have been in order.  Valheim won’t go on forever… or at least not at the level of play time some of us have been putting into it.  We’re about ready for Moder, the fourth boss, and then it will be out into the plains to explore and gear ourselves up for the final challenge.

I suspect that we will wrap that up and still have a bit of time to do a couple more instance runs and get all our mains, and maybe an alt or two, up to level 60 before the Burning Crusade Classic pre-launch events kick-in.

When it does arrive, I think we’re all on board to move forward with the expansion.  I have enjoyed our time in WoW Classic, but I don’t think I need to leave any characters behind just to bum around in the old world.  The old world still exists after the portal to Outland opens, it is just the character classes that get a revamp.  And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

For us Burning Crusade Classic will mean a whole series of dungeons to run.  Both it and Wrath of the Lich King were something of a high point for single group content, which is our focus.  The raiding doesn’t mean much to me and the overland quest content doesn’t bring back a ton of fond memories.  Blizz decided to be more forthcoming with quests… so many critical quests in vanilla were on an easily missed NPC or required a drop to activate… by going all-in on the quest hub idea.

But a lot of the quests, especially in the first couple of zones, are just “kill x, collect x, or click on x” that are repeated over and over, simply substituting a new value for x with every iteration.  If it wasn’t for that early bombing run quest… which was so fresh and new at the time, though they have re-used it since multiple times per expansion… and some of the quirky Blizz quests later on, I might despair of the whole thing.  But I can get through Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh one more time.  I’ll be interested to see how much I remember.

As for the beta, I opted in… I was on their site opting in for the Diablo II remaster and it was just another click… but I am content to hang on until they get to the load tests and such.

Anyway, we have some time before the coming of Burning Crusade Classic.  But with beta going live, the reality of it is getting closer.

February in Review

The Site

I haven’t complained about WordPress.com in a while, so let me get stuck into them.  They broke the classic editor… again.  Not drastically, but the break made it much more annoying to use.  When I wrote to their support… they call them “happiness engineers,” which sounds like a title the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation would use… the response was pretty much “LOL, use the block editor dummy!” followed by a long, cut and pasted entry about how wonderful it is.

I do not like the block editor.  It feels like a software dev’s view of a word processor, with each paragraph in its own block, as though people somehow felt a need to re-arrange paragraphs so often that they made it a feature.  Object oriented writing isn’t really a thing.  My paragraphs cannot be re-ordered at will and make sense.  They barely make sense when correctly ordered.

There is the “classic” block in the block editor, which is almost tolerable, but lacks some of the features of the classic editor.  And trying to explain the omissions to a “happiness engineer” was like trying to explain tea to a robot.

Fortunately, Paeroka at Nerdy Bookahs noticed that the classic editor was only broken in Firefox, not Chrome.  Another typical dev problem, and one I run into at work a lot, where everybody only ever uses Chrome despite the fact that our customers are often on locked down work machines that only have Edge or IE11 on them.  I personally prefer Firefox, though I can complain about most browsers for one reason or another, but I can use Chrome to write if I have to.

Otherwise it was a pretty good month.  Traffic was up as the swell of Valheim players looking for information about the game sent a bunch of people my way.  I was also enthusiastic to write about the game.

Valheim on Steam

The traffic tapered off towards the end of the month as every gaming site in creation jumped on the Valheim bandwagon.  But you can see from the most viewed posts list that it generated some interest here.  And I am sure I will have more to say about the game.

One Year Ago

The anticipated Torchlight Frontiers MMORPG was demoted to Torchlight III, another action RPG with multiplayer support.

Daybreak was warming up for the EverQuest 21st anniversary.

Blizzard reported a decent Q4 for 2019, at least compared to the rest of the year.  WoW Classic helped.  A lot.  But the Warcraft III Reforged fiasco was not likely to help Blizz for Q1 2020.

Over at CCP Project Nova, the latest attempt at a first person shooter, was transitioning into some other project.  But they were going to keep that quiet until the had something real to bring to us.  They also cancelled FanFest in Iceland over corona virus fears, and rightly so.

For the February update in EVE Online we got the Guardians Gala, new implant sets, and the start of what would become a year of nerfing mining into oblivion.  CCP gave us some skill points for being down due to a DDoS attack.  The also announced a plan to fix undercutting in the market.

Out in New Eden the Goon Expeditionary Force was formed and went out on its first deployment.  I managed to get on a bunch of kill mails in my ECM burst interceptor.  We were also out shooting structures and

As fall out from the death of Guardians of the Galaxy coalition, Ranger Regiment joined the Imperium.

I also compare raids, where up to 40 people need to coordinate, with fleet ops in EVE Online, where up to 255 people work as a team, facing off against another group generally of equal size.

In WoW Classic the instance group was working on the Scarlet Monastery Cathedral wing, then we were back again to finish up a quest.  Then I summed up all of our Scarlet Monastery time over the years in a post, including a mock version of the place in Neverwinter.

The we were off to Razorfen Downs.

As we were getting to level 40, I wondered how close we were to being half way to level cap.  There are a variety of ways to measure that.

I was also still playing the EverQuest II expansion, and even bought a couple Krono as my cash resources were rather meager.

And then there was Camelot Unchained, where City State Entertainment announced that they were working on another game which would somehow magically speed up delivery of the game that was already four years past the promised date, prompting people to ask for refunds, myself included.  Of course, getting a refund was not easy, and City State was not at all inclined to be helpful, with Mark Jacobs himself showing up to tell me I must be dumb to not have all the details of a seven year old credit card charge close to hand, but I ended up finally finding the transaction ID from the 2013 pledge and got a refund, minus processing fees.

Five Years Ago

We were in Hawaii for a few days for my wife’s birthday.

I was wondering about MMOs and their middle age problems.

I was on episode 80 of the Couchpodtatoes podcast, where we reviewed Daybreak’s first year.

LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens was announced, and it was even going to be available on the PlayStation 3.  Lucky me.

Pokemon turned 20.  To celebrate there was a re-launch of the classic Pokemon Red, Blue, & Yellow on Virtual Console, special legendary downloads every month, and the announcement that we would be getting the next installment in the series, Pokemon Sun & Moonfor the holidays.

Daybreak announced the splitting of H1Z1 into two gamesH1Z1 – Makes Some Money and H1Z1 – Gets Ignored.

I was making the case that Blizzard should continue to talk about WoW subscription numbers, even if they were down, as they were at least more concrete than MAUs, which have no correlation with revenue.  Of course, times have changed.  I was able to pre-order WoW Legion with a 20% discount thanks to Amazon Prime.

The shut down date for CCP’s DUST 514 was announced.  The end was nigh.  They also announced they were shutting down EVElopedia, thus creating dozens of new dead links on my blog in one fell swoop.  Some days I just hate the internet.  But at least the company’s financials seemed okay.  Not bankrupt yet.

In EVE Online we had the Madi Gras release that introduce skill injectors/extractors and the skill point economic boom. Of course, it became about penis size right away and somebody had to inject enough to train up all the skills in game.  You can buy your way to the top now, a pity it doesn’t actually make you any smarter in real life.

The EVE Online Blog Banter was about road maps for the game.

The CSM 11 election season was warming up, with CCP Falcon spreading bullshit in an attempt to cover the “no Sions” rule.  Sion Kumitomo was boycotting the CSM 10 Winter summit as it was the only agency he felt he had.  But at least CCP Falcon and CCP Leelo were off the CSM detail, with CCP Guard and CCP Logibro taking their places.

In space there was the last flight of the Reaver Ravens and a final fight down in Querious before returning to the north.  Then it was Yacht Fleet and the war between SpaceMonkeys Alliance and the RMT tainted I Want ISK in what was already being called “The Casino War.”

And then there was a call to go play PlanetSide 2, which seemed ill timed considering the war.

In Minecraft I reviewed the state of our automated farms… which were mostly Aaron’s.

And in Diablo III I was giving season 5 a run, running first through story mode and then going after some of the seasonal objectives in adventure mode.

Ten Years Ago

I was accidentally declared influential.  That was the first and last time that ever happened, and in an era before “influencers” were even a thing.  We got over that pretty quickly.

Hulkageddon IV came and went.  We all survived.  And then there was the new character creator in EVE Online.  It had… options.

LOTRO had a welcome back event… even though it was free to play, so coming back wasn’t all that hard… unless you count time spent waiting for the patcher.

There was yet another sign of the coming apocalypse.

NetDevil got pulled out of LEGO Universe.

Nintendo was banging the drum for Pokemon Black and White.  We were certainly ready for it at our house.

Van Hemlock was slumming back in MMOs for a bit.

I was taking a look at the holy trinity of roles through a historical lens.  It wasn’t always exactly Tank/Healer/DPS.

The instance group was still playing World of Warcraft Now we just get nostalgic about it.

World of Tanks.  It was in beta and set some sort of bogus record.

Rift was getting ready to launch.  People were freaking out in the absence of calm words.  Personally, I wasn’t buying into the game.  Who needed a WoW clone when we had WoW?

Nostalgia was officially on with the launch of the Fippy Darkpaw Time Locked Progression server.  Characters were rolled.  Low level zones were crowded and experience was slow.  But the tour was a go.  We hit the Qeynos HillsBlackburrowWest Karana, and the Qeynos Sewers.  Important spells were rediscovered and camping trips were planned.  Not everything was as we remembered it, but it made for a pretty darn good nostalgia adventure.

And while that was going on, SOE shipped the Destiny of Velious expansion for EverQuest II.  But I couldn’t be bothered.

And, finally, one of our cats was on top of the refrigerator.

Fifteen Years Ago

Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach launched.  Based somewhat on the Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 rule set it set out to be the best dungeon crawl experience in the MMORPG genre, and featured no dragons at launch.  It also unapologetically required required player grouping, something declared right on the box.  That made me put it back on the shelf at Fry’s.  It has since become solo friendly, free to play, and toned down the name to just Dungeons & Dragons Online.

SOE lauched the Kingdom of Sky expansion for EverQuest II, which raised the level cap to 70 and introduced alternate advancement, a mechanism long familiar to EQ veterans by that point.  This was also at a point of peak performance issues in the game, including the height of the Qeynos Harbor lag problem.  I was on board with WoW by then and declined to buy the expansion.

EVE Online reached the 100,000 subscriber mark, back when companies talked about such things publicly, and launched the Bloodlines expansion.  That expansion, which basically complicated character creation and made everybody go Caldari, would be the current state of the game when I made my first character in New Eden a few months down the road.

James Cameron was jumping onto the MMO bandwagon with Multiverse Network, which was going to lower the barrier to entry for MMO creation.  The plan was for there to be an MMO released alongside his next movie, but Avatar had to go it alone in the end, while Multiverse Network shut down in 2011.

Twenty Years Ago

Civilzation II, perhaps one of the oldest games I can still play, and which I have invested many hours into, launched on leap day 1996.

Pokemon Red & Green, the genesis of the Pokemon franchise, launched in Japan.

Thirty Years Ago

The Legend of Zelda launches on the NES, the first game in the long running franchise.

Most Viewed Posts in February

  1. Deer Hunting in Valheim
  2. Minecraft and the Search for a Warm Ocean
  3. Tunnels and Trolls and Teens and the Bronze Age in Valheim
  4. The Guardians Gala Event Returns to EVE Online
  5. A First Look at Valheim
  6. Traveling to the Black Forest in Valheim
  7. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  8. Robbing Some Space Banks
  9. CCP is Just Going to Keep Selling Skill Points for Cash
  10. Time to Earn some ISK
  11. What Does LOTRO Need?
  12. Titan Massacre at M2-XFE

Search Terms of the Month

goons papi eve meta explained
[Good luck with that]

keepstar meme
[Yes]

keepster broom
[What?]

how do keepstars protect themselves
[Memes, brooms]

eve echoes burn jita
[One can only hope]

eve minokawa solo fit
[Again, good luck with that]

Game Time from ManicTime

When the month started off it looked very much like WoW Classic would be at the top of the list.  I was serious about my paladin alt, the group was finishing up Blackrock Depths, and things were going well.  And then Valheim showed up and ate up all my free time.  Well played.

  • Valheim – 63.16%
  • WoW Classic – 22.85%
  • EVE Online – 13.52%
  • World of Warcraft – 0.47%

EVE Online

The was carried on.  There were a few big clashes, but nothing like the titan battles or the Keepstar drops from the end of 2020.  I got into a few fights, but mostly spent my time on the M2 hellcamp, which carries on.  Both sides are grinding away at each other and trying to keep their side motivated.  The side that loses interest first loses.

Pokemon Go

There were some fun events for the Kanto celebration that got my wife and I out of the house.  Lots of raids and tasks.  We’re slowly closing in on level 41.

Level: 40 (88% of the way to 41 in xp, all tasks complete)
Pokedex status: 619 (+6) caught, 647 (+5) seen
Mega Evolutions obtained: 11 of 11
Pokemon I want: Still need some Unova Pokemon to fill in the gaps
Current buddy: Frogadier

Valheim

The surprise hit game of 2021 so far.  I went from, “Why no, I have never heard of this new early access game on Steam” to it consuming all of my gaming time over the course of a week.

World of Warcraft

WoW has really fallen down the list.  As I said in my BlizzConline summary, it isn’t so much that Shadowlands is bad, it is just always the 3rd or 4th thing on my list to play.  I forgot to log in and do the Darkmoon Faire tradeskill quests even this month.  I am really falling off the retail WoW wagon.

WoW Classic

We finally finished up the last quest for Blackrock Depths on our twelfth run.  Doing it as a four person group was often a challenge.  And, for a four person group I am not sure we have the optimum class balance.  Had I to do it over again I might have tanked with a paladin.  The raid meta won’t allow pally tanks, but for the 5 person dungeons it would have worked.  Now we just have to decide what to hit next.

Coming Up

More Valheim I bet.  We’re kind of moving slowly on our world, but base building is satisfying.  We still haven’t found the damn vendor, so hopefully that will happen next month.  I’ve explored a lot of black forest biome on foot so far and that is getting a bit old.

World War Bee will carry on in EVE Online.  Neither side seems ready to crack yet as the war enters its eighth month.  Meanwhile, CCP is carrying on with strangling the economy along with a couple more odd ideas that I might explore.

The instance group might get back to WoW Classic.  We’re all playing Valheim together at the moment, but that isn’t as structured as a dungeon run, which is both good and bad.  We’ll see.

EverQuest will turn 22 in March.  Are there any good birthdays after your 21st?  I think the last real birthday party I had was when I was ten.

I will also expect that we will start getting a drip feed of news from Blizzard about their projects for this year, including The Burning Crusade Classic and Diablo II Ressurected.  Likewise from Nintendo around Pokemon Brilliant Diamond & Shining Pearl and Pokemon Legends: Arceus.   And I am still waiting for some new on LEGO Starwars: The Skywalker Saga, which was delayed into 2021.

The Perils of Entering the MMORPG Market

The MMORPG market has been rolling along for about 25 years at this point, depending on when you want to start counting.  I like to think of Meridian 59 as the starting point of the things, but you could make arguments that the roots of the genre go back to MUD1 or Island of Kesmai or any of a number of antecedents. 

Live in 95 is you count early access

But M59 was an early, commercial, 3D world MMORPG and, to the point of this post, while I haven’t seen anybody running a server for a while, the code is out there and the game could reappear if somebody felt the need to bring it back.

And that is kind of the problem here.  Fans of the genre tend to bemoan its stagnation and blame WoW or free to play or whatever for the fact that things can seem stale.  But the real problem is that old games don’t go away, or at least not fast enough.

Leaving aside M59, the next game on the list is Ultima Online, which will turn 24 years old come September.  Unlike M59, it is still there, ready to play.  It has been hanging out all this time, holding onto a group of players that might otherwise have gone off to explore other games… or maybe they have and then returned… and generally holding its own in a corner of the market.  I mean, EA owns it (Broadsword just has a contract to run it), so if it isn’t making some sort of return it wouldn’t be around.

That is, of course, a core aspect of the MMORPG space, games as a service, where players have an ongoing relationship with your game as it grows and evolves.  But games that make the transition to success and achieve financial stability tend to stick around forever. 

Scott Jennings gave a presentation at IDGA Austin back in 2014 titled Let It Go – A Modest Proposal, which I would link to if I could find it again (maybe here or here), which suggested that maybe these games shouldn’t hang around forever, that maybe it doesn’t make anybody happier or healthier to perpetuate these games past a certain point, that maybe there ought to be an exit strategy, a denouement, an end to the story.

Wishful thinking.  The only sure exit is to stop being profitable, and even that is no sure exit.  The fans, unwilling to let go themselves, will build their own private/pirate servers just to prolong the experience.  I would suggest that it is easier to list shuttered titles that don’t have some sort of emulator or server project running except that I am not sure I could even list one title.  Club Penguin maybe?  Is there a Club Penguin emulator out there?

We have reached a point in the genre where farming nostalgia for the old days and the old ways and the old experiences is a certified path to keep the fans on board and paying. (Because, it turns out, they’ll make emulators for that too if you won’t provide it yourself.)  So we have EverQuest progression servers, WoW Classic, Old School Runescape, Aion Classic, and others out there serving that portion of the user base.

As Jennings pointed out, these games have come to belong, emotionally at least, far more to the fans than the companies. It is their experiences and histories now and they won’t let it go.  It almost isn’t up to the company anymore because the fans will take matters into their own hands if the developers won’t cooperate.  And if the game is going to be running in some form with or without the studio, the studio might as well keep its hand in and make some money from an official version rather than losing what control they do have.

So the market never really contracts.  Nearly everything that ever was is out there in some form.  Think of all the video games you played over the last 25 years and how many of them are viable and playable still today.  Yes, nostalgia farming has arrived in the rest of the industry and we have some remasters and 4K remakes of older games, but I cannot go back and play every game. Of the ones I can, anything over a certain age that had some form of online support has probably lost that aspect of the game.  As an example, literally every Pokemon DS/3DS title has lost its online support.

But if you want to play The Sims Online or Dungeon Runners or most any past title, there is probably a project out there for you.

Which brings me around, at last, to the point I think I was aiming for when I started out this wall of text, which is what does this mean for new games in the genre.  One of the complaints about MMORPGs is that there is nothing new, nothing interesting, nothing different, just the same old stuff, mostly WoW or WoW knock-offs, along with a few pre-WoW titles.

But, in a market segment where nothing ever dies and the fan base is constricted by the level of commitment the genre demands (a “causal MMORPG player” is almost an oxymoron) where is the incentive to actually try something new, to invest in something in an increasingly fragmented and entrenched field?

I do not have an answer, and the fact that most of the Kickstarted, will arrive some day (just not today), titles that some have pinned their hopes on all seem to be grounded solidly in nostalgia doesn’t strike me as a hopeful sign.  Pantheon, Star Citizen, Camelot Unchained, and others all carry the message “Remember that cool thing we did nearly 20 years ago? We’re going to do it again!”

Thus endeth the genre, drowning in a pool of nostalgia, always asking for something new and never getting it because nobody seems to want it.

I suppose this should be a warning to the rest of the industry, which has been going down the path to games as a service for a while now.  I saw a quote from Chris Livingston at PC Gamer about Grand Theft Auto V about how he had by this point completely forgotten the original story of the game having spent so many years since in the sprawling open world content of the game.  And there it is on SuperData’s digital revenue charts every month.  It has essentially become an MMORPG in all but name.

So the question, to which I most assuredly do not have an answer, is can we get out of this situation?  Has the genre become like the RTS genre before it or, I would argue, the MOBA genre now, where the dominate players have so defined the genre that it is locked into stagnation?  And, were something fresh and new to come along that fit within whatever definition you might choose for MMORPG, could we pry enough people away from the treasured memories long enough for it to find an audience?

BlizzConline and Burning Crusade Classic

We had the first day of BlizzConline yesterday.  There were some interesting announcements.  But what I was really there for was WoW Classic and The Burning Crusade expansion.  Holly Longdale got up there on the main stage… alone, no audience in the pandemic… during the opening ceremony and told us a bit about the coming of The Burning Crusade.  It wasn’t much more than a confirmation that it was coming, but it was at least that.  (Though, we knew it was coming due to that leak, but it is always good to hear somebody say it officially.)

Then, the first panel up was about that very topic.

How deep will they dive?

This was not what would have passed for a “deep dive” at past BlizzCon events.

The panel consisted of:

  • Holly Longdale – Lead Producer for WoW Classic
  • Patrick Dawson – Production Director for WoW
  • Brian Birmingham – Lead Software Engineer for WoW Classic

The panel started with the three of them talking about their impressions of TBC back in the day for a bit, then moved on to some tales of getting the old code working within the current WoW framework, all of which was fine and interesting, but wasn’t delivering a lot of details that many fans… myself especially… were looking for.  There were no slides with bullet points or diagrams or any of the items one might have come to expect from such a presentation.

Towards the back half of the talk… it was only a 30 minute panel, so it wasn’t a long wait.. they finally started spilling out some details.

The first solid nugget in my notes was about Blood Elves and the Draenei.  They will be released into the game with the TBC pre-patch to allow players to have a chance to get leveled up some before everybody jumps through the dark portal.

Then details for characters and servers came up.

The current servers will become progression servers, a term many of us from EverQuest will remember, as SOE started doing that back in 2006 with The Sleeper and The Combine servers.  (see timeline) All of the current WoW Classic servers will move forward to TBC.

If you don’t want to go there, you will have an option.  On launch day you will make the choice for all of your characters, to stay and progress forward into TBC or to move to one of the new WoW Classic servers that will launch the same day that will remain forever vanilla.

If, at a later date, you regret your choice of committing to forever vanilla, there will be a paid service option that will let you copy a character from one of those servers to a TBC server.  You will then, at that moment, have two identical characters in each realm.  They will diverge as soon as you go through the portal and get your first gear drop, but you can be in both worlds.

Meanwhile, if you don’t want to play through all of that WoW Classic crap because TBC was your favorite part of WoW, Blizzard will have an option for you as well.  They will be offering a level 58 character boost… no Blood Elves or Draenei, sorry… so that you can jump straight to the dark portal and get going.  Oh, and you can only have one character boost per account.  If you want to raise an army of level 58s, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.

No pricing was announced for either the copy or the level 58 character boost.

In fact, few hard details were shared.  There were certainly no dates.  Beta will start “soon,” for whatever value you care to assign to that variable.  The rumor about a May launch seems even more laughably wrong than it did when I first heard it give how little concrete we got from this.  The tone of the discussion indicated to me that they have more work to do and want to allow time to find and fix issues before it goes live.

If you are keen to see the panel, Blizzard posted it to their YouTube channel almost immediately after it was done, so here it is.

I do want to say how weird/wonderful it was to see Holly Longdale, so long the voice of EverQuest and something of a champion for the “classic” retro experience being not just a valid desire for fans, but a lucrative direction for companies to pursue.  There is clearly a synergy… and I use that word here unironically, which is so very rare for me… between her experience and where Blizzard now wants to go with their retro WoW experience.

Anyway, that was the WoW Classic part of BlizzConline.  Tomorrow, the rest of it.

Related:

 

BlizzConline Spoiled

I was going to write a night before/morning of prediction post about BlizzConline, which kicks off at 2pm Pacific Time, 22:00 UTC, today.  There were some likely bits of news we were going to hear as well as some speculation as to what other items Blizz might announce.

BlizzCon Online Today and Tomorrow

And then somebody at Blizzard accidentally let the WoW press kit out of the bag and the gaming news sites raced to publish every detail a day before the event.  That kind of takes the edge off of guessing whether or not we’ll get The Burning Crusade in classic form or what the next step for Shadowlands will be. (Here is the WoW Head version, if you’re dying to see it.)

Yes, there always seem to be leaks of some sort when it comes to BlizzCon.  The company even attempts to signal things to the fans now and then.  But when you straight up get the press release a day and a half in advance… well, the anticipation is somewhat drained.

I am still going to watch the presentations.  As I have said before, you can glean a surprising amount of information from somebody speaking about a topic that might go unmentioned in a groomed and vetted press release.  Naturally, there will be a post-con write up of my impressions.

And there are still questions about other Blizzard franchises.  What will be the news of Diablo IV?  When will Diablo Immortal finally ship?  Will they confirm a Diablo II remaster?  Does Blizzard have anything else new and/or exciting to announce?

The event schedule looks fairly anodyne, but we have seen in the past that Blizz can update the schedule based on announcements during the keynote.  Remember in 2018 when all the Diablo panels became Diablo Immortal panels?  Okay, forget that one, that was a bad example.

Who knows.  Maybe the WoW press release was just a plant, a diversion, and J. Allen Brack will go up on stage and tell us we don’t really want The Burning Crusade and we’ll be retweeting variations of that Willy Wonka “You Get Nothing!” meme all next week.

Our Last Quest in Blackrock Depths

When the weekend came around again and we got together in WoW Classic, I already had a plan for what we ought to do.  We had one remaining quest in Blackrock Depths.  We had to go retrieve the Heart of the Mountain from the vault in Shadowforge City.  That was the one thing left undone for us in the instance.

We had been to the vault twice in our many trips to the dungeon, but managed to wipe both times.  Now, with all of us at level 59, we seemed formidable enough, even as a group of four, to wrap this up.

Blackrock Depths map

We had a short quest to wrap up in Searing Gorge first.  Moronae, taking on the enchanting role in our group, was going to try and get himself up to honored with the Thorium Brotherhood, which would give him access to a couple of enchanting recipes.  But to get on that path you need to finish the quest What the Flux?, which requires taking down three elites.  And there was an Wanted poster quest for the named elite to do along the way.

I swapped out Viniki for my paladin, Wilhelm, because the former had already done the quests and the latter still needed them.  Even if Wilhelm wasn’t going for Thorium Brotherhood rep, it was still a tidy bit of xp for turning them in.

However, somebody got there just ahead of us, so while we could just grab the plans for the first quest, we had to wait around for a respawn… which takes a while for these mobs… before we could finish the second.

Waiting Around

Once they spawned it was a quick fight and then back to Thorium Point to turn in the quests.  Then I swapped back to Viniki and we headed off to the instance.  Our group was:

  • Viniki – level 59 gnome warrior
  • Moronae – level 59 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 59 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 59 dwarf priest

We all have less than a level to hit the cap now.

We were into the instance and up around to the Ring of Law where we found one of the Lunar Festival elders.

Greetings Elder Morndeep

This time around we got the worms again for the starter course… the poison is annoying but we were good… followed by Gorosh the Dervish as the boss.

Gorosh the Dervish attacks

By this point a level 56 boss without any tricks is a quick fight.  But at least it was a change up from the Eviscerator, who I think we have drawn all but once on our previous ventures into the Ring of Law.

Then it was up through the audience and down the path to Shadowforge City and the location of the vault.

Gonna go down to Shadowforge City…

There, we put our learning from past mistakes to use.  We cleared out everybody out in front of the vault area, then grabbed the group inside, then Warder Stigliss and his dog Verek.  Then it was into the vault where only I opened up the first eleven vaults with my pile of relic coffer keys.  On reaching the last one, everybody got setup in the next room, then I opened it and ran back.  The constructs in the vault came to life and came to us in the other room for the fight.

The fight in the vault

After getting stomped by them when they surprised us the last time we were in the vault, this time we defeated them handily.

Then it was back into the vault to claim the Heart of the Mountain, the item for the final quest we had left for the instance.

Everybody got to grab their own heart

After that we were done with what we needed to do.  But there was still the dark coffer left unopened.  For that we needed to the key from one of the dark keepers.  WoW Head says there are six of them, and they can spawn all over the instance.  To spawn them you have to do the thing we regretted back in the day, you have to examine the portrait.  So we got ourselves buffed up and ready, and I went and looked at it.

Viewing the Portrait

And, nothing happened.  Last time we spawned the guy who walks right into the room.  This time, not so much.  So we set about looking for whoever spawned.

One of them was supposed to spawn down by Fineous Darkvire, down in the hall of crafting.  So we made our way down there.  We found old Fineous again.

We’ve killed you a few times now

Since we were there we went on and took low Lord Incendious, who was just up the way.

We were in the neighborhood, so why not?

After that we made our way the other direction.  The domicile, through which we had come to get to the vault, was a possible spawn point.  However, nothing was there.  So we continued on back to the Ring of Law, where the stands above the ring are another possible location.  And there, in the audience, we found Dark Keeper Zimrel.

The others keep clear of Dark Keeper Zimrel

The fight was short, and soon we were on our way back to the vault with the Dark Keeper Key.  In the Dark Coffer was was a green item that went to Moronae to disenchant and the Eye of Kajal, part of a quest for a helmet enchant.

We had now finished the vault and had done about all you can do in Blackrock Depths.

The vault fully open

Instance complete.  And nobody died on the run too, which I think might be a first.

Skronk suggested we go grab one more boss on the way out, Pyromance Loregrain, who was just off the path we took to get to the vault.  It was a quick fight, but the drop was the fiery enchant recipe for Moronae, our group enchanter.  Well worth the side trip.

A useful drop for once!

From there Ula opened a portal back to Ironforge and we took a flight to Morgan’s Vigil in the Burning Steppes, then rode on out to the encampment in the middle of the north end of the zone to turn in the final quest.

That done, it was time to recall back to Ironforge and call it a day.

Everybody hearthstone

That wraps up Blackrock Depths for us as an instance to run.  We might have to go back again for recipes at the Grim Guzzler, but we can put a check next to it on our list.

As before, on finishing an instance, here is a rerun of all the posts about the instance group doing Blackrock Depths over the years.

Another Plan for Blackrock Depths

After the last couple of weeks of doing crafting focused runs with the group, I had a related request of my own.  Having collected six stacks of Dark Iron ore, I was ready to learn how to smelt it down into bars for crafting.  The NPC that teaches you that skill lives in Blackrock Depths.  Seems logical enough.  So I wanted to take a run into the instance to learn that, then maybe loop back around and smelt what I had.  That would take us pretty deep into the instance, but no further than we had managed on past runs.

Blackrock Depths map

The NPC who teaches the skill is in the Summoner’s Tomb, location 18 on the map above.  That would also put us next to the Lyceum, location 19, which had thwarted us in the past.  Given that we had no other plan for the day, everybody agreed.  Skronk even suggested that we might take another stab at the Lyceum since we would be there.  Based on past experience, I was feeling dubious about the idea, but we’d be there, so why not?

Our group for the run was:

  • Viniki – level 59 gnome warrior
  • Moronae – level 59 night elf druid
  • Ula – level 59 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 58 dwarf priest

We met up outside of Blackrock Mountain because I was impatient and was already there.  I was also hunting around for a bit more Dark Iron ore, which does spawn occasionally in Searing Gorge.

Meeting up, cats out

Then it was the usual run in.  You can see that I have a “BRD11” as the prefix for the names of the images in this post.  Once of my habits is to try and do that to keep images from a post together and identifiable as such.  It also points to my native pessimism in that I zero padded the prefixes for Blackrock Depths just in case we went past nine runs.  Here we are at run eleven.

We have learned something of the efficient ways into the place, and which mobs we can bypass with some care.  We don’t need to take that last group in the room that has the bridge/gate control, though we did get a nice bit of loot from one of the groups we did have to take.

Purple Loot!

That looks to be a druid bear tanking staff if I were to guess.  We’ll see what Ula gets for it at the auction house, as she won the roll for it.

Also along the way, in between General Angerforge (13) and Golem Lord Arglemach (14) we can slip past most of the mobs in the room by carefully jumping up on the ramp bannister and running down that into the manufactory.

Just an easy jump to avoid that fire elemental group

Through the manufactory you have to take one big group or another, as well as the wanderers, but once you get one group down you can skirt along the wall and avoid the other.  Then it is a couple more fire elemental groups and you’re into the Grim Guzzler (15).

We had done the quest to get the back door open already, so we now just speak to an NPC and they open it up and go off to do whatever it is they get up to when we’ve passed.

We took a good deal of care with the groups outside the Grim Guzzler.  We had wiped in the past due to line of sight issues and aggro mistakes.  But we managed to take them down.

From there it is on to Ambassador Flamelash, which is always a bit of a chore, mostly because we never remember how the fight goes until it is too late.  Skronk got killed by the adds, but got a combat ress from Moronae and we finished off the fight successfully.

From there we actually got the rare roll, Panzor the Invincible in the golem factory.  We pulled him safely out of the room and took him down.

Panzor is actually vincible

He didn’t have anything anybody needed… what use is a rare like that… but Moronae was along to disenchant after last week, so there it all went.

We made it through the golem room successfully, which put us in the Summoner’s Tomb.  Time for me to do my quest.  You speak to Gloom’rel, the first dwarf on the right, who summons a chalice.

Gloom’rel and his chalice

Then you put the quest items into the chalice; 2 star rubies, 10 bars of truesilver, and 20 bars of gold.

The quest requires it

And then you speak to Gloom’rel again… don’t forget this part… and you learn how to smelt Dark Iron ore.

I just wasn’t ready for the ratio of ore to bars.  It is eight Dark Iron ore per bar.  I was going to need more ore to make anything, since I only had seven bars worth of ore.

That done, we kicked off the even in the room and slaughtered the seven dwarves, one by one.  That went pretty smoothly.

The dwarven remains

At that point my goal was accomplished.  But now the door to the Lyceum was open, so it was time to go examine our options once more.

Once again Skronk was able to  use mind vision to scout out the location of the NPCs carrying the torches we would need.  They were both along the line of one row of columns, so we decided to try and push down that row as quickly as we could, picking up the torches as we went, and then make our way to the platforms.

It did not end as we hoped.  We caught one of the big wandering groups along the way.  While I had managed to kill and loot one of the torch bearers, we were in over our heads and wiped.

Getting mobbed in the Lyceum

We decided to give it another try, though that almost did not happen.  After we got back into the instance we started running to the Lyceum directly, saving our re-buff cycle until we got close so as not to simply have to re-buff once we got there.

And then things went awry.  I mentioned the ramp and jumping up onto the bannister carefully.  Well, in one of those control misfires, like that time I jumped out the window of the bridge, he jumped way over and into aggro range of the fire elemental group, pulling them onto us for a wipe.

So we ran back again… and managed to wipe at the elemental group again… same thing, bad jump put somebody in aggro range.

So we ran back a third time, buffed up, got to the elemental group, pulled them, and took them down.

And then, as we were running through the manufactory, Mornoae ran too close to the one group we bypassed and we had another surprise fight on our hands.

Another accidental proximity pull

We managed to survive, but it was a bit of a near run thing.

Eventually we made it back to the Lyceum.  Skronk scouted out our targets once more, and we gave it another try.

This time, for whatever reason, luck seemed to be on our side.  We got into the central area, killed the two torch bearers, and managed to keep going forward to the first platform where we got in the safe corner, defeated the elemental, and lit the first brazier.  Half way done.

Luck stayed with us and we managed to fight our way over to the second platform, defeat the elemental there, and light the second brazier.

The second brazier lit

That was it, we had succeeded.

We did have to stop and figure out what to do next.  There were mobs all over the Lyceum still.  They do not vanish, though I understand that the respawns are turned off.

Surveying the scene, it appeared that there was a clear path to the door, past which we faced Magmus (20).

Magmus awaits

The room with Magmus has golems all up and down the side in alcoves.  The worry was that we were going to have to fight them all.  But when we started the fight with Magmus, we found that the golems were really just a flame sprinkle system.  Waves of flame from them go up and down the hallway.  It was enough to earn Skronk another death, but we survived and got to a safe spot at the far end of the room.

That left the final room ahead of us, the throne room.

The final fight awaits

There is a lot of stuff to clear out in the throne room, groups of mobs all over, upstairs and down, so we were a while taking care of that.

Taking a rest between groups

Eventually though we weeded out every mob, leaving only Emperor Dagran Thaurissan and Princess Moira Bronzebeard.

Facing the emperor and his captive

For our purposes, we wanted to finish the relevant quest for King Mangi Bronzebeard, we needed to kill the emperor and rescue the princess.  But Moira is mind controlled by the emperor and assists him, healing and such, so we needed to keep her busy but alive while taking down the emperor.

We decided that Viniki and Moronae would pull the pair off the throne to one of the side alcoves… the one to the left as you face the throne… and fight them in there.  Skronk and Ula would stand up on one of the galleries overlooking that alcove and cast.  We were about ready to go, but decided to wait until the 30 minute cool down on Monornae’s combat ress to run down, just in case.

When it was done, everybody got in position and off we went.  I pulled the pair back successfully, putting some aggro on Moira when I could.  Skronk and Ula were good from the gallery.  Eventually Skronk’s healing grabbed Moira away from me, but she had to run the long way around and up a ramp to get to him, at which point Skronk and Ula both jumped down to where we were and the fight carried on, with Moira hoofing it all the way back around to us again.  Moira got off a couple of final heals, but we managed to burn down the emperor, and which point she was released from her spell and was no longer aggro.

We spoke to her, updated the quest, and took pictures around the throne.

At the emperor’s seat

We had done it at last, we had made it to the final boss in BRD.  Then it was back to Ironforge to turn in the quest.

Time to hearthstone back to Ironforge

Of course, I still have to get to the black anvil to smelt my Dark Iron ore and we still haven’t finished up the vault.  But we don’t have to go all the way in, all the way to the back of the instance again.  We made it through the Lyceum as a group of four.

Some Enchanted Evening

Once again the group was off on a side task.

During a past run when we were talking about trade skill coverage it was pointed out that we have nobody on the team who does enchanting.  We have a number of trade skills covered, but nobody had really picked up enchanting.  Obama had said he was going to try it, but then stopped playing with us, leaving us without an enchanter.

I don’t think enchanting is necessarily critical, but it can be a nice to have addition to the group.  Also, some part of me wants a glowing weapon.

I had initially asked if Ula was interested in going with enchanting.  She has been doing tailoring and I brought this up while we were out looking for the mooncloth bag recipe. (Since obtained for 20g at the auction house.)  Tailoring is something of a natural to go with enchanting as it does not require a dedicated harvesting skill the way many of the professions do.  I have the tailor/enchanter mix on a character in retail WoW.  We could just run her through some lower level dungeons to collect gear to disenchant to kick start her progress.

So we picked up the discussion the past weekend.  The first proposal was to have somebody’s alt pick it up, but I argued that we ought to have somebody in the dungeon group itself pick up the profession, as having them around to disenchant the inevitable bind on pickup drops that we get every run.  Those could turn into materials for useful enchants.

Eventually Moronae volunteered for the position.  He had been running with just gathering professions, herbalism and skinning, in order to make some money.  But skinning is pretty common and not a huge money maker.  So he said he would drop that and pick up enchanting.

With that decided we went of to do a few low level dungeon runs just to get him started.  For whatever reason… I can’t really recall now… the rest of us opted to bring out some slightly lower level alts for this run.  They were not low enough level to get xp or find any good drop, so I suspect we would have been fine with our mains, but at least we got them out for some exercise.  So our group was:

  • Moronae – 59 feral druid
  • Scsla – 43 gnome warrior
  • Fergorin – 40 dwarf paladin
  • Alioto – 36 resto druid

We decided that the Deadmines would be a good start, so flew out to Westfall and ran off to that.

Into the Deadmines

I will admit that it is actually kind of fun to go into a lower level instance and slay with near impunity.  This is my major gripe about level scaling all content, you never get a chance to do this sort of thing.  My druid, being level 36 and dressed to heal, did manage to get in a little bit over his head now and then… enough elite gray mobs can still be a hazard… but we kept on plowing through.

The drops were good and Moronae was able to start disenchanting stuff pretty quickly.  He kind of had to as we were letting him loot most of the corpses and his inventory was filling up fast.  I ended up taking some of the wool from him as I still needed to make heavy wool bandages to advance my first aid.

We arrive at the boat

Up on the ship we roamed around the back and got Cookie and the siamese cat drop.  Then we were back around front and up the ramps to knock out Captain Greenskin and then Van Cleef.

Skonk was quick to point out that one of the ramps had a corner cut off and that this no doubt explained why he fell off the ramp and into the water back when we were doing the Deadmines at level.

You can see if at the lower left

We went up and faced VanCleef, who gave us his usual routine.

Yes, yes, tell us some more

That did not take us much time at all and was distracting enough that we decided to do another instance.  This time we flew on up to run through Shadowfang Keep.  Another quick tour through a dungeon.

Hate to break up the dinner party…

Again we were on a rampage and Archmage Arugal didn’t stand much of a chance against us.

Arugal is down

That was a sight bit quicker than our run through the first time in classic.

After that it seemed like we might take a break, but I was in Stormwind and the Stockades were close by and a quick run, so we ran in and did that just to pile on some more gear to disenchant.

The slaughter of the Defias

After that Moronae was able to get himself up to 90 enchanting.  Viniki made him his silver and golden enchanting rods to cover his ongoing requirements and he was able to do a few practice enchants on us.  I think we all got +5 health on our bracers.

Anyway, we got him off to a good start I think and hopefully we can get him up to where he can disenchant the inevitable mail bind on pick up drops that inevitable are our reward when doing runs.  And maybe someday I will have a glowing enchanted weapon.

Paladin’s Progress

My paladin in WoW Classic made it to level 53 last night.  Considering I had only just posted about him making level 50 a bit ago, that is spirited progress for me.

Of course, I have two characters closing in on level 60 and I am out playing the third highest level character.  But he is in the midst of what I might call the last sweet spot for quests in the progression towards level cap in WoW Classic.  It is a fun stretch and, while the road to 60 never hits a slump the way it does in the mid-40s, this is an unusually fertile stretch.  At 50 a few zones become options and, while you do have to swap between them to stay on the middle path to keep quests in your level range, it is a pretty well marked path.

He started off in Western Plaguelands at 50, where there are lots of undead, making it a very happy place for paladins.

Take that undead

Then went off to Felwood to get in the first few quests there, securing his reputation with Timbermaw Hold before he left, so he can now run the tunnel without issue. But most of his time so far has been spent in Un’goro Crater.

Un’goro Crater

There are a couple of lead-in quests in Gadgetzan that send you off that way, and once you get to Marshal’s Refuge, plenty to keep you occupied for a stretch.

There was a point in time when I wasn’t exactly thrilled with this zone, way back in vanilla.  Something about it set me off.  But now, returning to it, the quests there are a very good mix of getting things done and grinding mobs for a bit of extra xp.  That balance keeps progress going and keeps you from having to go off and grind some mobs on your own just to keep yourself aligned with the level steps in quests.

And, as a side note, I ended up with a quest for Sunken Temple that the main group missed.  It is at the end of a chain of quests, so we never got to it.

By the time I finished up most of the core quests in the zone I was just a hair from 53, so went back down into the to knock out two more mobs and get my level.

Tar Lord goes down and I level up

I still have a few more quests left in the zone.  My pally is an engineer, so he was able to make the mithril casing for the Chasing A-Me 01 escort quest, but he got mobbed by apes and failed it.  In another level or two he’ll be able to walk that through without pulling half the neighborhood.

At 53 I am about ready to head back up to Felwood and carry on with the next set of quests up there.  It is also a place where felcloth drops, and we need to start collecting that for Ula so she can turn it into mooncloth.

My progress has not been exactly lightning fast of course.  I am ever distracted by some side task or another.  In addition to generally hunting for mining nodes and working on engineering, he has also been working on some of the secondary professions.

I took him over to Redridge to farm for wool cloth because he ended up stuck there when it came to first aid.  I had saved up enough cloth in the bank to get him all the way to heavy runecloth bandages, but had to go back and grind out enough wool to make the jump.  He is now 300 in first aid.

He is also 300 in cooking, mostly a side effect of spending some time working on fishing.  Skronk has some fish needs for alchemy and my pally was the furthest along that path, so I kept on going, getting to 225 and the Nat Pagle quest.

The man knows fishing

I had to go look up the fishing spots, though as I got to them I had a few “oh yeah, this location” moments, having done this quest a few times way back in the day.  I was kind of surprised how quickly I caught each of the four required fish.  The guide goes on about making sure you have the +100 lure attached and all that, but I had some nightcrawlers in my bag already, so just used those and never had to cast more than six times at any of the spots.  In Feralas I got the final fish on the first cast.  From there it was back to Nat for the turn in.

Now we can get to the drinking part

So it goes.

He has even gotten a few nice pieces of gear along the way, both as quest rewards and drops.  It isn’t that common to get an upgrade out the field at this level, so those have been welcome.  And, for a brief moment, he even has a decent look I think.

Paladin Wilhelm in Ironforge

That will probably be the most coordinated his gear visuals will be for a long time.  I recall The Burning Crusade making us all look like patchwork clowns when it came to gear.

Anyway, he won’t be my first character to level cap.  Viniki is so close that he’ll easily be the first.  But my pally will be lined up to go when WoW Classic expands.