That WoW WoD Teaser and 90 Boost Video

The Warlords teaser is good. It shows the theme, and gives an idea of what the objective is. I can’t say it is not frustrating to see Garrosh’s profile at the end, as being gibbed a kill of a major bastard is not at all good, but the lore is the lore, and this is the New Cannon. I waited a long time to kill Topper McNabb, I can wait again.

As a teaser it is not even close to the hype for me that Wrath of the Lich King gave. Go back and take a look. Oh and Illidan saying “you are not prepared” was chilling.The Cata had a better teaser in terms of hype level. But time will tell. We have the time. Perhaps the actual launch video will hit it out of the park. Blizzard have time too.

I want it to be better than this, I’d love to be a fanboy again. Hit it out of the park again Blizzard, I’d forgive almost anything.

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WoD release dates…yup. Told you.

Multiple sources tell me that WoD will be released for WoW on or before 20 December 2014, or “fall” in the USA. So anytime from late September (doubtful) through to Christmas (hopefully not that late). Sheesh, I was thinking about July. Ah well, many other games to distract me.

We can now also pre-purchase from Blizzard, and get a “free” level 90 boost. What the hell?

I can pre-purchase a digital version…why is that even a bloody option worth doing? It is digital. It gets “shipped” to you when you click the payment button. Oh, right, the level 90 character which can’t level past 90 till the new expansion launches at least 6 months later; probably more like 8-9 months later. I’d suggest that a 6-9 month window is plenty of time to level a character, and as we are going to get a gear squish most items will be of little benefit.

I guess you might farm the heirlooms in Siege, to help you level? But you can farm them on a 90 now – you don’t need the boost.

You could level to 60 and get some free professions later with the bump? Not really 6 months of game time there.

So some time in the next 6+ months I might pre-purchase, but for now I’d rather have that money in my wallet. This really has a funny kick-starter feel to it; cash now, game much later.

Oh, and I just have to say this because I’m a bit snarky about all the drama it caused – to those folks who were “building up” to raiding in WoD… go hard. Go soft, go whatever way you can because you’re in for a long wait. You’ve got 6-9 months more to get those kills. Months ago I said it was a bloody waste of energy to try and recruit players “for Warlords” as it would be too far away. With the news today I’m almost certain nobody has a roster of players that will be certain to be playing and at level 100 in 9 months.

Happy waiting, TyphoonAndrew

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It is all about the time sink

The time sink game is all I’m playing at the moment. It has many levels and challenges.

I have three writing mini-projects going at once, a few games to try to play, and a family to look after. The three writing projects have deadlines which are looming so I really should be doing those with all my spare time, but I find them difficult to write them without spending large blocks of time. When I write I need a good 1-2 hours of time to get anything new written. I can review my own work in much smaller time blocks, but there is only so much review that can be done before it is called procrastination. New text needs thinking time.

A pc game however can be 30 minutes to 1 hour if I know what I’m doing (like WoW), or need a heap more (like 2-3 hours) if it is a game which is new to me like Elder Scrolls, EvE, Star Wars. I guess I could go play D3 too if I wanted some hack and slash fun, and D3 is the game I’ll fall back to when all else fails.

The writing is all based around pen and paper role-playing games (for a Deathwatch mini-module and a fan made Ars Magica supplement), and I’m enjoying the process of trying to create something for a critical audience. Writing for your own sake is easy, writing for an audience who will read, review, editorialise, and point out incongruity is much harder. That could be part of my hesitation too. The projects are not commercial things, so I’m not targeting a commercial level quality, but still thinking it has to be better than my typical notepad scrawl.

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As far as computer games go, WoW is still interesting to me. I have some gripes which will come out below, but as I write this I’m really just mouthing off about an errant kid who I like, but pissed me off recently.

I think it is interesting that WoW Insider has announced cut-backs to their blog staff across all games, and wow is significantly affected. That would not happen if the revenue was flowing well, and that is telling about the users of these games, and the market in general. Even though the subscription rate is ok-ish the players themselves are not putting up with any kind of silly or boring content anymore. I think repetition will be the next thing that MMOs have to have less of to keep their audiences, and that will be a huge problem for almost all the theme park style games. Players want more content, more often, with no drop in quality or they go elsewhere. They might return when the new content drops, but almost all the players I speak to are not willing to wait. They go elsewhere. And they should too.

WoW and Guilds

Well there is a doozy here to tell. Many of our raiders either left for greener pastures, were removed for being painful, or left for life reasons. That then caused another round of departures, as others had to ponder leaving too. Then some of those greener pastures were not as good as advertised, so those people began looking around again. Because I’m fed up with being treated like a revolving door, and fed up with the whinging, a few were told they were not welcome back. I think most people would support a player making the “right” call for themselves, and forgive a lot of how that was communicated or made. We’re all human. I think a Guild has to also make the “right” choices too, and that means sometimes enough is enough.

This was not a great time for our guild, but also not unexpected at this stage in the game. The downtime between expansions is always crappy for guilds, with only the strongest ones staying focused. Add in some continued drama, a few people who think they are special snowflakes, and you’re left with very little to do. There is no lever by which a player can be controlled (such as an employment contract for compensation) so “managing” difficult people is next to impossible for any prolonged period.

That leaves us with a guild of social players and no “serious progression” raids happening. Frankly I’m glad that some of the pains-in-the-arse players are gone. I’m sad that we lost great people too, and even more so that it might lead to others leaving. At this point though it is not something to fight, but something to accept. I want players to be having fun, and that is far more important than rubbish about which guild you belong to, or she-said-he-said malarkey. I am glad it is “over”. I’m glad that the people who are staying will not have to wonder why such stupidity is tolerated. It is not tolerated anymore.

I can now login without having to think about somebody getting shitty about some illusory problem. Finally, no dramas from World of Warcraft. Yeehaw! I do not even understand why in hell some people require the input that they do; it is like they are not adults at all.

I’m even happy that the people who left are getting what they like from their game time. It is good to think that people can go somewhere and be happy, and it is very possible (and even a certainty in one case) that a problem only existed because of the people involved. Dissolve the problem relationship permanently, and the fun comes back. More power to them. I hope they’re all killing digital monsters, and looting wonderful pixels.

I’m really not having a go, just talking through what happened. I’m sure the choices were not perfect, nobody makes perfect choices all the time.

Bygones are bygones. – TyphoonAndrew.

An aside – Wow characters can only belong to a single guild at a time, and therefore changing guilds is also inevitable. Why can’t WoW have more than one formal method to organise players. Cal them battle units, corps, whatever, but allow a way that players can stay in a guild they like, but also advance and be managed in another set of organisations. It might help players who have dual loyalties. We can cross-server raid all sorts of junk, but cannot organise characters in the same way in-game. I think that is a functional gap.

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ESO Beta

This weekend I was given a ticket into Elder Scrolls Online Beta (thanks T!) and it looks like a reasonable game. As my friend told me “think of it as a good single player story, not as an MMO” and its a great game. There was an NDA which I briefly skimmed while downloading the game so rather than say anything questionable, I’ll just say that it is similar enough that I knew what to do, but was a little different. Graphically it will challenge some computers. This is not a game which will run well on a low spec machine.

Where is the value?

If I were to think about value for money when playing time sinks I not subscribe to Wow, Eve, ESO, or any other subscription game. I’d get back into Star Wars, or something like it. It’s free and has plenty of content I’ve not played. Or many of the other games out there that are free to play. I do like the idea of not having a wow subscription for a while to save up for something else. Perhaps it is time to pause my membership for a few months.

I’ve also got a 7 day trial of EvE sitting waiting, but I cannot bring myself to login just yet. It looks fantastic, and honestly I’d be playing more just to look at the pretty space pictures than actually want to do space battles. I don’t think that alone is worth a subscription cost. In fact a video of beautiful space scenes rolling in the background would almost be as appealing.

That’s not weird. Is it? Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

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Professions in Garrisons – what do we know?

A Professions in Garrisons question is on, as part of Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.

I noticed – or could not find – any topics relating to the information about WOD!! I don’t understand!!

So with that in mind, here is one of my first questions:

With you being able to build a third profession area – what are you likely to choose? Have you got all professions covered by alts so are just going to focus on money making? Did you take professions specifically for mounts/raiding or some other purpose but didn’t really want to?

Is there a profession you want for specific reasons?

- Dragonray

I thought the professions aspect of the garrison idea was going to introduce a more Star-Wars-ToR-ish feel, where your NPC helpers go off and do mini-quests as part of assisting with professions (official Garrisons source, and the artCraft blogpost). Maybe that was what I wanted, and  I’m almost certain that something I’ll use.

The garrison will also replace some of the daily activity which was part of the Half Hill Farm in Mists of Pandaria. That might mean a work order area like the current daily farming, or might mean a wider approach which is more like your personal home within the game. I hope it is a home within the setting, as it is something lacking from a story perspective.

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They are also going to reflect major achievements, and be “sharable” to others. That is pretty interesting; especially if a degree of customisation is allowed.

In terms of my professions (the question asked in BA) I have almost all profs covered by Alts, but those alts take ages to catch-up to current max. For example the MoP professions have been available for a very long time, but I am still raising my Inscription and Jewelcrafting.

Talk Azeroth had a summary of the recent Blue Tweets on Garrisons too, worth a gander.

Some pretty cool building specs are coming in. “City Portals” is a Mage Tower spec that opens ports to every major city. Source

We should be clear that garrisons is not about decorating and placing furniture. Gameplay is our focus. Source

Buildings need to be unlocked and upgraded to get specs. Mage Tower is no different. Source

We do have Monuments that you can place from achievements. Source

If a garrison helps me, then that is brilliant. Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

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A reversal of the blogging mirror

Update – looks like the guys who stayed after the shake-up might get some raids after all, Insidious are going to recruit a few folks for ongoing runs. Yay!

Reading about our guild on other blogs is kind of cool. It is odd when I see somebody posting about things that are happening, as many times a World of Warcraft blogger can write all sorts of things, and generally I wouldn’t stop to consider what that is like if it were in my guild. It is different when it is people you know.

Reading about Insidious online is like a reversal of the one-way mirror that I write from. Typically I post without expecting too much feedback. Instead the feedback is the content. I like it.

A fellow blog writer DragonRay recently joined Insidious (Insidous on Nagrand-US) the guild where a few friends and I run most things. I have no real idea if Insidous is different from many other guilds or not, but the way it is run is based upon whoever in the officer or gm is on makes the choices as needed, and we tend to always back each other up. It tends to work because we have similar base values as people, and we’re friends.

Recently several key members of one of our raid teams left for greener pastures, and the second raid team indicated that they’ll return to the guild they quasi-disbanded to join us.

Well fark! That means in a very short period we go from having two darn good 10x man raid teams to missing players. That isn’t great for raiding, and rather than trying to recruit pre-Warlords of Draenor we’ve decided that it is better to have a break from progression raiding.

Aside – Recruiting now for WoD seems premature to me, as so much will change in ways that we cannot foresee. It was the same when we were told of TBC’s progression path through Kara (10s) to Gruul (25s) etc. The mix and grind of guildies and player’s roles was dreadful. I think players have a motivation to get in good with a high value guild early, but that only helps you if you’re actually in the true guild core group, and frankly if you are switching guilds regularly then you’re probably not in any core.

Formal progression raids on heroic content are not planned, but whatever achievements runs, fun runs, or flex-raids are all still a go.

I feel for DragonRay and they guys who joined recently because if the few folk hadn’t left that raid team we’d have had a good go at continuing progression. In her blog post she wrote:

Firstly, raiding…has officially stopped in our guild, little bit of drama I think behind the scenes – which I am not privy to – the joys of not being GM or an officer. So we are basically free until WoD now.  I will still do the raids they have going – if they do achievement run etc…I certainly won’t say no to it.  I missed raid Sunday night due to super busyness and watching for fire news (we aren’t close but at that point a shift in the wind could have done it).

So I missed the announcement, and was shocked when i logged on last night to find barely anyone online.  Such is life of the raid cycle. Unfortunately when you are having to rebuild a raid team some people are more impatient than others.  I feel slightly bad that we had not geared up as quickly as we could, but I can’t force items to drop.

Anyway, suffice it to say I now have free time to get my other toons to 90 before WoD and decide which one is going to get my free boost – I would hazard a guess and say my rogue since I have yet to get one past level 30.

I commented there too as I think it was certainly worth responding to, and to be fair it should could go here too.

You’ve certainly come at an “inward spike” in activity. You’re dead right there was some serious junk happening off camera, and that was finally put to bed recently. Thankfully. All the normal type of things that are seen when a guild has a large amount of real people crunched together for raiding. On the back of that a few key great people said they’d had enough of the to-and-fro and decided to either play less or play elsewhere.

One of the biggest strength the game has is that nobody can tell you when or how you have to play; you get to choose. Then it is also a huge limitation, because the GMs, Officers, and Raid Leads also cannot mandate that a raid will happen.

I’d never play a game where I was forced to play, as that is not a game anymore. It would be work, or torture, or something altogether awful.

Both Raiding and Guild management feel like schoolyard cricket in grade 4 primary school. i.e. you hope every turns up today and plays nice together.

For all that infrequent guff-guff we deal with I still love the people in the guild, and may more who I’ve met along the way. Some of the folks who used to be in guild who left or were removed due to drama are still good people, it just didn’t work at the time.

I can’t fault the folks who left at all because I’ve done the same at other times in my game-life, and I respect their choice. Kind of turning into a longer comment than I intended – what I intended to say straight up was: glad you’re here and I hope you have a ball.

A cynical reader might say, “well as a GM that’s all you’d ever say, it’s empty bullshit”. Well it is not. Re-reading what I wrote afterward I truthfully feel that a lot of the malarkey we’ve faced as a guild was due to people having egos that are incompatible with others. Not that they were crappy people, but that they just cannot get along. Most of those people might be normal in a social setting, but they were pains-in-the-arse at times in a raid context.

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Background Music – Blog Azeroth Shared Topic

The current Blog Azeroth Shared Topic – Background Music is on now (8th to 14th Feb), and its something that factors into how I play.

  • When leveling the first times through anywhere I’ll have the sound off, unless I’m totally solo’ing. When solo’ing I like the music.
  • As above for instances, when in them for the first few times I won’t use the sound so I can concentrate.
  • Solo’ing old instances I try to remember to turn the sound on.
  • If I’m not listening to the music, I’m listening to Podcasts, both WoW related and all the other odd podcasts I like.
  • If I’m on vent I’ll not have the sound on, but sometimes will have both my earbuds from my phone in so I can hear podcasts or different music, and also my gaming headset. It means there are a lot of cables around, but during a heavy wow session I don’t move much.
  • The music I’ve been listening to recently is some of Wagner’s Ring Cycle (an opera), and some 90s grunge music. Both styles are the music of my youth.

Happy killing, TyphoonAndrew

Once again, the sky isn’t falling for World of Warcraft

The earnings call by Blizzard indicates that the subscriber numbers are apparently up slightly from 7.6 to 7.8 million players (reported by wowinsider). Honestly I am surprised it wasn’t a decrease, but also very pleased. In a rough economic climate for game developers and entertainment companies WoW as a game is still doing well.

Consider too that a game charging around USD$15 per month with 7 million players is doing exceedingly well. If another game had that revenue rate for a year the owning company would have very powerful options for what they did next, and what direction they chose to move.

Blizzard have had almost 10 years of good subscriber numbers. Think about that seriously for a minute, how much revenue? And then join me in the hope that they are reinvesting heavily in their next set of games. It was not chance that the Hearthstone Beta was as good as a polished game when the beta started (yes the card balance wasn’t there, but the quality was darn high).

How are the subscriber numbers generated?

No idea, but I’d bet that whatever sneaky formulas the paranoid types tell us they use to limit the perceived drop were already in use when the last few earnings calls were announced with the decreases, so that means this is a legit increase. Or at worst it a stable period in subscribers.

Either way, the sky is not falling on World of Warcraft. I know that some folks like to think that WoW will die any season now, but I really think that it can decrease for a while before it is really dying, and this recent rise means that it might be a little further away than we thought.

Good. I’ve still got heaps to do. Happy Killing.

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