Started update, gone fishing…

I got up on Wednesday morning (Australian time) and started the World of Warcraft update. Like many folks I had to kick the updater in the guts a few times (started multiple times) so that it would work.

Then I saw the updating file message and was frustrated that after 20 minutes it had not moved from 0%. What in hell?

So rather than staring at the screen, I went to work. I don’t know how long it took, but the game tells me that its done and its 6 hours later. I won’t login until after I get home, eat, say happy things to the family, and then maybe eat more.

Would have been nice to see this start when patch started, but really has zero effect on my gameplay. I’m pleased that the Theramore event is not starting day one of patch 5 either, as I’d be feeling like the delay/outage/issues might rally create a backlash. As it stands now I’ll just read about it.

I was also very confused by the game loader when it replaced the Cata branding with Mists branding. That is silly – I have not purchased Mists as yet so why show me the title? Anyway I’m happy that it should be ready when I am.

Grumble.

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What do I know about other classes and specs?

With the change in classes in the patch today we have all sorts of new stuff to learn. As a PSA I offer the following advice on the spec and classes. A sly review of the classes might be (ahem) useful.

DKst – Essentially there are two types, those you need to listen to because they are Tanking and they help the Mages and Hunters decide who dies first; and the rest. The first are called Blood spec, the second are called whatever you like. When I play my non-tank DK he names used are: “stop tunneling”, “move”, and “deathgrip it you tard!”. Most Dks do not know what DK stands for, but would guess Death correctly because its a leet word. Probably means Death Killerz.

Druids – Too many types, and way too many on the server. Lets face it – everyone has a Druid, and generally only the good ones get taken to raid; that is ex-trees and bears. Cats are misguided Rogues, and Boomkins are Mages who ate too many fish feasts. Get at least one in your raid and make them change spec every 3-4 trash pulls, they love that. Why else play a hybrid?

Hunters – There is only one type, and thankfully they will have no excuse to roll for non-missile weapons after patch 5.0. Handy at times for traps, and hated for the same reason. They perform their best at range, and I find the best range is about 10 miles from the raid team. A quick review of the armory indicates that Int and mana are still issues for some Hunters, so take one to a raid at your own risk.

Mages – Apparently the hardest class in wow to play well in Warcraft. I asked them. There are three types and many sub-types, but all you need to remember is that they can supply a buff and food, although both are rare. Arguments about specs is what keeps the Mage community flowing, and if you want to distract one then either get the Hunter to MD the boss to them before the pull and blame them, or tell them that an alt spec is superior and they need to re-work their toon. Typically awesome dps, and the class colour (blue for the cheap seats) looks wonderful in screenshots which is really all we need to know.

Monks – sorry what? I killed heaps of these things in SM over the years, and yet they keep persisting. As a class they will be uber powerful at everything they try, and will become the new DKs for MoP. This means they will stay awesome through they first two tiers of raiding until we’re meant to get serious about it, then they’ll be nurfed harder than Paladins on patch day and all the Monks will consider rolling back to their paladins. As they are new just assume that every monk can do all things, and yell when they can’t read your mind…you know, like Druids.

Paladins – Almost the definitive hybrid class, as they wear plate so they are less girly than other hybrid classes, but still somehow wear dresses. And no, it’s a dress not a kilt. They are made up of confused Priests which heal, confused Warriors who tank, and confused DKs who stand behind the boss and whine about moving out of the bad. Take one of the first two types to your raid. With the update to buffs we’ll likely see some really cool transmog sets and “roleplaying” in the Deeprun Tram, but very little real Paladins in raids.

Priests – the best healing class in the game with Holy, and the best animation in Shadowform. Shadow pets, shadow powers, shadow spells; see a pattern? A Shadow Priest is just emo enough to compete well with a Warlock, but not enough to re-roll DK. Way too squishy, so smack them first if you have to kill one in a team. Their most irritating feature is that their class colour is white, which makes pasting class notes from websites a two step process (one more step than they deserve). I’m sure there is a petition out there somewhere to make the class colour charcoal, so the SPr will be happy. Oh and I didn’t mention Disc spec as if you do they don’t shut the hell up. Sheesh. Put them on mute.

Rogues – Until the release of the legendary item in late Cataclysm the Rogues had gone on strike and refused to attend raids, generally being replaced by Death Knights and confused Shamans in melee. Maybe they were stealthed? If you like being sneaky and standing behind people then you will like the Rogue class and are also probably a creepy little sod. Who likes that? Makes my skin crawl. They are known for very effective stuns in pvp and for bringing nothing to the raid; ever.

Shaman – Totems are still awesome, and very confusing to non-shamans. Just assume that whatever buff, effect, or spell you need can be supplied by a Shaman and tap them on the head until you get it. Take one along, at worst they have a self res so you can wipe faster the next time. Spec wise they have more choices that is fair given they were a novelty idea in the original beta which was taken too seriously by some horde and would not shut up. Sometimes confused for Mages in screenshots and damage meters; if you see a blue bar that is doing less dps its a Shaman.

Warlocks – Incredible lore and bloody incredible emo whiners. Now I wouldn’t mean to offend, but Warlocks are just so easy to pick on that it is a shame not to. Ask a Warlock what happened post TBC to the class then walk away from the phone. In MoP they have been tweaked and buffed, primarily by updating some animations and spell effects. Very important stuff. Also voted most likely to re-roll Mage when they realise that Warlock rotations are god-awful complex, and Mages have a UI with two buttons. Oh, and they get the succubus pet which has two roles: dps and fap-fap-fap.

Warriors – A Warrior Tank is a god amongst insects in the tanking community. First and last the Warrior will stand with you through every wipe and res, until finally they crack the absolute shits and tell everyone how to play. Often they are right too, as they’ve watched the mistakes so often. A tank’s role is to stand still or walk slowly backward, and the dps try to spin in circles and roll Need on every two handed weapon in the game. They are a simple class for a simpler time, before DKs, Monks, and all the other pixel based distractions which is not old school raids. A Warrior will always be able to complete the sentence, “back in my day…”.

So yes, essentially I am unburdened by too much class knowledge. Enjoy the patch today.

Love or Hate the Mists Artwork?

One thing I like about Blizzard games is the peripheral artwork and assets which get developed. When Panda-rama was announced I was very negative about the idea as it felt cutesie and childish compared with the dramatic setting of Cataclysm, Wrath of the Lich King, and The Burning Crusade. Wrath was my favourite by far in terms of setting artwork, holistic style, and zone assets.

Now that I look at the artwork for Mists of Pandaria I really like it. It has an elegance and classic “asian style” which is stand out as beautiful to an anglo Australian mutt like me. I like it enough to create a top banner for the blog using one of the boilerplate artworks by Blizzard. Imagine how cooler that same image would look with non-panda races fighting in it! Perhaps a bloodelf vs human monk fight. I just have to love monks finally being playable in the game after so many years of killing them in the game already.

The art is perhaps not enough to put at ease all my reservations about fur-covered-love-bears being introduced into the game, but enough to place them next to the other races I dislike a little like Gnomes and Goblins. Yes, I don’t like stunties – both races look like snotlings in fancy dress.

Next Legendary Goal – Shadowmourne

Now that Sulfuras, Hand of Ragnaros and Thunderfury, Blessed Blade of the Windseeker have been completed, I’m tempted to keep slavering after more gear with orange text. Next to acquire could be  Shadowmourne. Alas the item requires a lot of runs within Ice Crown in 25 man mode, which will be challenging unto itself while folks concentrate on the content in the new expansion. I’m not one to give up though.

As a Death Knight there is no other weapon that is more appealing, as it seems that it was designed in lore and in mechanics to be thematically perfect for us. Sure, other classes can use it and will get a kick from using it, but the truth is Shadowmourne is the unholy soldier’s weapon of choice.

Shadowmourne… A great two-handed axe fit for a giant, born of sacred and corrupt powers, host of a thousand dead souls and able to be wielded only by the most stalwart armsmasters of Azeroth. Its creation seems nearly impossible; and yet, the rumors do not cease.

Becoming a Legendary junkie is something that could easily become dangerous and be a source of ongoing activity for years to come for me. Continue reading

WoW p5 Anxiety

WoW Insider has a reasonable article on the adjustment to v5 of the game in terms of specs, races, and the other game changes.

So don’t let yourself get overly concerned. Just log in Tuesday, and take a few minutes to explore the changes. You’ll start getting back into things very quickly once you start taking it out for a spin. At its heart, it’s still the same game you’ve been playing.

They’re right. It’s the same world with a different feel for some classes. I spent some time skimming through the Icy Veins class summary to see what classes are affected, and generally – its a set of changes not worth panicking about. In fact many classes are getting adjusted to be cooler (especially Warlocks).

Raiding and Pvp specs might be borked initially, and I’d expect a patch or two along the way as we get into September. With all the points and rewards from instances and pvp being reset, I expect the 4 weeks between this update to be a time of fucking about and not stressing. Certainly enough players will be away with the outside world or Guildwars 2, so get those last achievements and mounts in now. I had to laugh considering that players will either be struggling with logging into GW2 to getting patched and working in WoW. What a great time for an action movie special on TV, so we can just ignore these game updates for a few days, and come back when the dust has settled.

The community has been through this many times before, and the world has not (permanently) ended. I’m actually looking forward to some of the run-up events which I hope will arrive with the patch as well. There might not be a huge reveal, but at the very least I expect some in-game indication that DeathWing is no longer the big bad, and that we might have found this strange island full of hostile teady-bears.

  • Will Stormwind finally finish patching the smoldering battlements? Hopefully.
  • Will the zones still burn with Deathwing’s fire? Doubt it.
  • Will the market for animal brushes skyrocket as the Pandas try to keep blood stains out of their hard to reach places? Probably.

Pets are also going to be highly desirable to some players soon, so start pondering how to get them too. There is a market there if you feel like doing the hard work for somebody else.

Thunderfury acquired at last

With a very generous donation of x10 Enchanted Elementium Bars from an old mate (thanks Rakk), I was able to skip the farming of mats – and run straight over to Highlord Demitrian in Silithus to complete the Thunderfury quest line. Darn excited.

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A guilded alternative

Being social in an online game is valuable for increasing players and keeping them. My gut says that the more my friends play a game, then the more I will too. As I form friends it is good to provide a manner by which to sort and link them. We’ve seen the introduction of BattleTags to Blizzard games as an example of a development company linking their products internally, and an explosion/exploitation of Facebook and mobile games as examples of connecting different games though an information conduit. In a round about way we are seeing that the linkage between players is very important, and something that is valued by a developer as it is popular with the user base.

Right. So if you accept the spirit of that statement then you may also accept that a game dev should seek ways to enhance and innovate ways to be Social (see rant at end) as part of the game experience. Basically if one form of social linking is good, then a few more are better. In fact many many more might also be bloody brilliant, as long as they are optional and do not get in the way of the actual basic game experience the player was interested in.

Righto then. In that case can I suggest more than three ways to organise the player structures and relationships in World of Warcraft? Guilds, Pvp Teams, and Friends/Enemy lists are good, but not enough. The functions exposed under the Guild Structure are excellent, and the same features could be re-used with benefits.

But what could we have?

Companies / Platoons – an additional formal group established without a dependency on an existing Guild structure. For large guilds (like AIE) this might remove the need to have players switch sub-guild for raids too. It also creates the opportunity for guild alliances to be established and formalised.

  • Ownership is fixed to a character, akin to Guilds.
  • A member must be invited and accept.
  • Structure, officers, and ranks as per guilds.
  • Linkage can be across traditional server boundaries, to support random pvp battlegrounds, raid finders, roleplaying groups, etc.
  • Control and Calendar functions, etc as per Guilds.
  • Probably does not need banks, but an interesting consideration.
  • A player can below to as many as they wish, but perhaps a max of five per toon is reasonable to begin with.
  • Let the character show the Platoon name instead of Guild name?

Raid Teams / Kill Teams – within the existing guild system add a new informal sub-list to be used to create and manage raid teams. The use is pretty self explanatory, except to say that a guild should be able to have a large amount of these.

Collectives – a Guild like link across games, to establish linkage between BattleTag participants beyond basic friend list functions.

  • Extend the typical Guild event functions and calendar, and show Collective events within the sub-games.
  • Formal accept/reject membership, etc.

Happy teaming, TyphoonAndrew

Update: Something I thought about after writing this was a goal of keeping the concept of guild advantages and levels away from these additional structures. This is so they form the flexible and changable aspect of the game. Your “social” interaction structures should be able to switch according to need, rather than feeling like if you switch you will miss some side-benefit mechanically in the game. Just a thought.

<rant>I’m told by the media pundits that “social” is all the rage, and everything is moving toward/in/becoming more social. It’s a pet peeve of mine that all this stuff has been around for a very long time before the term was coined, and being social is about as new as being nice to people – the delivery has changed, not the attitude or goals.

Does it mean that before we discovered Social Media we were being Antisocial?

Social…balderdash I say. Release the hounds!</rant>