Whats the go fella, where you been?

Well heck, another period of life where playing WoW (or any game) means logging in, checking mail, doing the odd transmute, and then getting back to whatever is urgent IRL.

I don’t mind life being busy as most of it is great stuff but I miss the folks a little. To the guys I banter with, you’re not forgotten.

My little warlock is level 89.5 and I’m really keen to get to 90 soon and look at ow blisteringly difficult the green fire quest is. I was a Warlock in the original game, and played Warlock heavily in TBC. The idea of green fire has always been an uber sexy wishlist and it is really the only reason my warlock is being played.

I’ve read that an item level of greater than 470 makes it more plausible, and after 500 it is muc easier. That makes sense, but it also means I’ll be burning dungeons and lfrs to gear up and I was hoping to avoid too much of that. Ah well, expect to see my noob Warlock in your LFR run. I’ll be in the back with the disturbing smile and the goal to win on threat.

from warlock's den

Some refs for later

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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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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SoO LFR Raid part one was ok

Sunday daytime a few weeks ago I had an unexpected few hours to waste online and I finally got the queue to pop for SoO part one, after a 1 hour 10 minute wait.

I am so very late to be just doing LFR Siege of Orgrimar, that it is sort of scary to think about how “behind” I am. It was Jan 19th when the Part One achievement ping’ed on my main character.

It gets me thinking that the concept of behind is funny in MMO terms. The folk who are setting or breaking records were done with this patch in Hard mode content months and months ago. The guild (Insidous Nagrand-US) has been doing hard modes for ages, and with two darn healthy 10-man raiding teams they are kicking Garrosh and his cronies in the groin on a regular basis.

As a section it is OK. I didn’t have my socks blown off by the strats or by the difficulty. I saw a heap of people die to the HUGE BLACK SWIRLY BEAM in whats-his-name-in-the-middle. I guess it was too tricky that it can go in one of two directions VERY VERY SLOWLY. I kept my well-fed buff through the entire run, which means that I’ve kind of let the noob-DK team down.

Anyway, I don’t mind being behind. I’d like some magic wand to make the queue times less than one hour, but I also feel like an absolute troll for even saying that. A player who logs in during the odd blue moon doesn’t like waiting one hour for an LFR? Cry a river rookie-boy. As a wise-crack, but altogether wise guildie suggested – or roll a Tank and man up!

I think the last thing the “LFR community” needs is my DK strafe tanking a Boss as a noob. I’m almost certain that after my Tanking an LFR run for the Lei-Shen fight a few players left WoW  in disgust. I could almost taste their tears and hear the breaking keyboards.

I love tanking, it’s not that it’s not fun at all, it’s that others don’t seem to love watching me learn. Grin.

Happy raiding, you dedicated folks. Very jealous. I’ll see it all eventually.

Who changed the graphics? Impressed.

A few days ago I updated the graphics driver on my (old-ish) laptop, and last night I logged into to WoW. The change was immense. Where the old display was set for speed, the new one seems to be be set back to a max setting.

Translucent water and particle effects look wild, and the animations are so much more … fluid. Who knew the game had grass!

I had no idea the game could look so darn good. The bad (because there is always a bad…) is that now I want a new laptop. Time to start doing more overtime at work I guess.

Happy Killing, TyphoonAndrew

WoW Hammer launches, go have fun, share, party

There is a new wow site launched, with a slightly different bend to the typical wow blog/info site – named WoW Hammer. Instead of straight patch notes or official news WoW Hammer focuses on content related to World of Warcraft stories, screenshots, the experiences of players, and any funny events.

WoW Hammer – Where the joy of play meets the joy of life.

It is a less serious place to share WoW related stuff.

The editors are keen to engage the World of Warcraft community as the source for the material, and are taking contributions. So if you are interested in contributing and sharing interesting stories I can heartily recommend chatting to the eds. They’re friendly folk.

The post rate will likely be daily updates from material already sourced from some contributors, and (for the sake of openness) I’ve happily already contributed an article which I am hoping to see published shortly.

Go have a read, it could be something great. TyphoonAndrew.

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