Finally level 100

Aside

My Death Knight Mortigen is finally level 100. He ding’ed in the Spire whilst handing in part of the Terrok story chain. Immediately I used the armor upgrades for level 100 I had earned from Follow Missions. Then I signed up for the Bronze challenge mode, and was extraordinarily lucky to get an epic weapon from the reward. Last night I also queued up for the “movie train instance” (Grim Rail Depot?) and fought through that instance with repeat wipes. It was worth it, due to the two 615 items which I won.

Aside – Grim Rail is a terrible instance for melee dps. Constantly avoiding ground effects, constantly moving, circling around opponents as they switch facing so often, and sprinting between foes. I’ve only been in there once, but I am almost certain that range have a better time. Blarrrg. Granted there may be better ways to do the fights than what I saw; I’ll see. I’m not looking forward to the heroic mode.

So I’ve only just ding’ed and I’m item level 604. Not bad for a dirty casual, but I need to keep the pressure on to get to 615 so that I can queue and repeat-wipe in Molten Core for the damn mount. The helm would be good, but I’m not going for that.

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Slowly leveling, very impressed

I’m about 5% away from level 93 now, and still loving Shadowmoon Valley. As a zone it is well put together. The rares spawn often, they drop interesting and sometimes useful things, the monsters are squishy enough (especially if you overgear the zone), and the travel time between hubs and quest locations is enough to get you “into” the zone and exploring without being tedious. There are the odd special things found along the way, like the quest to kill animals for steaks, or the special events for the garrison.

It is also a little morbid to look at this zone and think about what we know of the alternative from our character’s own timeline. I can see parallels in the geography and that helps make the story’s impact stronger. I wish I was able to level faster, but not at the cost of missing the experience.

ShadowMoonValley-Draenor

Wow ain’t dying.

Aside

WoW Nagrand oceanic. Position 3642 in queue, 126 mins. Dead? Right.
I’m kind of happy it’s like this: we have players everywhere.
Perhaps the Ddns attack affected times, perhaps it’s all the returning players. A bit of realm maint and the odd tweak we might see more capacity. I’ll wait. The content isn’t going anywhere.

Updates:

  • Position and time flings around a bit; from 45 mins to 450 minutes. Yikes!
  • 2 hours later, still a 2+ hour wait estimated.
  • 3 hours later, 45 min to 1.5 hours to wait. And I think the queue is going down because we all need to go to bed to sleep.

A great garrison overview by AskMrRobot

Aside

AskMrRobot’s blog has a great guide for Garrisons (thank you Ask Mr Robot). I knew almost nothing about them, but after skimming through the basics I think it will be a major feature I’ll use in Warlords. Truthfully I can see garrisons being played on many alts and mains from day one, to acquire what they have to offer. It appears that Garrisons will have a straight up advantage to using them (very much like the Farm in Mists) and a wide breadth of game-play too. The fact that you could have a main with a raiding garrison, then alts also generating gold and materials is excellent.

Impressed, especially the chat sheet at the end which shows which garrison feature selections are better for raiding, farming, alts, or pets. The guide indicates that a full garrison will cost around 39,000 gold. Holy snap!

garrison pic from MMO Champion

WoD’s great cinematic

Aside

The WoD cinematic is really good. As a semi-retired lore nerd I love seeing this stuff, just as much as I love seeing the Mage cast a Sheep spell in the first trailer, or Arthas summon an undead dragon. The MoP trailer did what it had to do (show us the Pandaren) and did it in a way which was fun. It certainly makes me think this is Orcs vs Humans … of Warcraft.

Non-serious aside – It does feel like a story set to make us like killing Orcs, and as an Alliance player I don’t really care if that is the wrong view. Orcs have proven themselves weak willed, power hungry, and generally the bad guys in the lore. Guldan gets his historic plans thrown asunder, but we’re still facing Orcs as the foes. These Warlords just reenforce the point. Thrall was the exception, and only that because some silly human made an effort to civilize him instead of kill him.

Now wonder he liked Jana. I’m happy to kill orcs, wargs, goblins, any sort of green or brown skinned filth.

(edit: truthfully that trailer makes the idea of playing an orc seem very appealing)

Is it as good as the others in terms of placing the players “in the world” and throwing down a challenge? Probably not, but then the excitement from an expansion is only partly attributed to the pretty non-gameplay video. There is not much that would top “you are not prepared“. As a video to continue the hype and announce a release date it was fine; great in fact.

Bring on more cinematic media for players, add more online comics, give us preview pages, lore updates, stat blocks to drool over. Complete the character models (I know, I know) and a few decent armor sets and it’s finished isn’t it? All of it. Build the hype with many strings of your bow Blizzard.

Expectations are very difficult to manage. Rant.

I was reading about the Blood Elf models not making the WoW – Warlords release, and through the comments people are extrapolating from that (a) Blizzard are rushing, (b) release might be around the corner, (c) the community deserve a little more information, (d) Blizzard have had plenty of time already and they are lazy, (e) the expansion will be terrible.

The variety and breadth of perspectives on the next expansion is telling of two things. The fan-base isn’t sure of many details they consider important, and that Blizzard isn’t actually served (in the short term) by being honest with their fans.

The company who is infamous for releasing when they are ready, and who has already said that the game will be released closer to December than July – I just don’t get it. A feature set was broad brushed a long time ago, and details are being released to keep the fans interested and also to keep WoW’s long tail of blogs, news, etc alive. The release dates cycle is very long (basically impossible to argue against) but it is not significantly longer than other expansions.

I do not think the studio deserve to be derided for communicating about status, delays, and where their thinking is, because the alternative is that they just go silent and do press releases for the blogs to recycle. For pity’s sake fan-base, start being fans.

If the long view is taken, a fan can look back at the 10 years of discussion and banter between the vendor and customer, it demonstrates that talking to fans is a good thing. Many other game devs do not discuss their products in this way, and I think they suffer less bad comments pre-release.

Comments such as this is superficially reasonable, until you start to ponder what answer would actually be satisfactory…

The only thing that worries me is this;  what has to be scrapped to allow extra time to get this in at a later date now?  Meaning, if this was supposed to be done at launch, that allowed for room for other content to be released later on.  Since this is being pushed, what content may get pushed even further or now scrapped because of this?

There is no useful answer to this question. Speaking as a manager of software projects, I see questions similar to this all the time, and the answers cannot be specific without creating another set of clarifying questions. It becomes an endless cycle of q&a…but what if…why can’t we just…why wasn’t I consulted?

As much as it might be hurtful to say the end consumers of the expansion are not stakeholders who should be involved in the timing and planning stages, so releasing information to them is done for customer engagement purposes, not to actually ask which feature should be in or out to meet a flexible deadline. Yes, they are the end paying customer, but your needs and views have been analysed and incorporated into the product strategy already. I’m certain that Blizzard are taking every feature seriously as they’ve released so many good quality products in the past. A flippant approach to features, quality, or deadlines doesn’t match their history.

Express your frustration or opinion without the dramatic rhetoric, and you might even find the vendor listening. Attack the vendor with no constructive feedback and you’ll be muted. We all know that an attack creates more clicks, but at this stage the whining is just tiresome. If you don’t like waiting, then go do something else because you’ll be waiting regardless.

The fact that one of the racial character models won’t be updated isn’t a show stopper. This announcement proves that, and tells us that they are willing to drop some non-core features to meet their target dates. Heck, drop more character models for all I care. The content (worlds, raids, quests, etc) being finished to a high quality and without defects is a showstopper, the upgrade process for the game is critical, the distribution method is critical. Even the comms plan for marketing and the planning a round their own other products and the products of their competitors is important. New character models? Sit down (imho*).

Keep in mind too that the models are not being shelved, but being delayed. This isn’t the dance studio. That is a box feature that is wonderful to drop into a discussion like this to demonstrate why something which was all but pointless to a wide range of players can also create a blather of negative feedback from a loud minority. It should never be anything except a silly nice-to-have feature. By comparison I think the new models are more important, but trivial compared to the actual story and event content for the expansion.

We need to deal with what we get at launch. Not what you wanted? Then don’t buy it.

If the lack of a particular widget ruins the game for you, then wait till it is present and join the game again during that content patch. I’ve unsubscribed during the downtime period and cannot understand the parts of the fan-base who are angry that they don’t have new content in the period where it was well communicated that there would be no new content. Too long between expansions is only true if you’re choosing to not play or not enjoying what you have now.

I’ve previously blogged about the time to expansion release being long, but it was an observation targeting the idea of doings something else with my time and money. If you are choosing to pay for something you don’t like, or sitting in front of a game which we know won’t be changing for months and expecting something new; then I think there are other issues. PEBKAC.

Happy gaming, TyphoonAndrew.

* ok, not humble.