Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is WoW Dying?

This is a copy/paste of a comment I posted at The Pink Pigtail Inn. I decided it was fleshed out enough to save as a post here. Also, this is my 100th post on this blog, cheers!

This is one of those arguments that just makes me angry every time it comes up.

Not because I don't believe that WoW could die someday, but because it just is not going to happen any time soon. And by "soon", I mean it is going to take several more years for it to "die".

I have been watching those "I quit and WoW is dying" posts on the WoW forums for years now. Even if WoW has reached its subscription cap and can only lose numbers, it will still take years before it is at a significant state of despair to say that it is "dying".

Even at 300-500k subs, the game will be very much alive. If other, lesser games can flourish with only 100k subs, so can WoW.

If anything, someday we might see evidence that WoW is moving into some sort of normalization. WoW's numbers are not normal. But maybe someday they will be. But it won't be a dead WoW.

Seeing numbers dropping off in the middle of summer and at the end of the end game does not mean WoW is dying.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Blizzard of Information

World of Raids is still sort of handling the recent Cataclysm deluge of information. Sure, their last post on it was just to organize it, but that could not have been the easiest thing to do.

Larisa at The Pink Pigtail Inn posted her thoughts about Blizzard's handling of the community not too long ago. The consensus was that Blizzard simply does not communicate well with the community, if at all, anymore.

Then suddenly, the NDA on the Cataclysm Alpha is lifted temporarily and a half dozen or so news sites get a glutton's worth of information.

Yeah, thanks for that.

Instead of taking their time and doing one interview at a time so that the information could trickle out over the course of a month or so, Blizzard decided to keep things easy on themselves and in an effort to control the flow of information as best as they could, simply handed out parcels to their "invited" guests. This, of course, led to some sites reporting the same thing. But, every site had something unique. So to get it all, you have to actually follow bread crumbs from one site to the next.

It was maddening trying to track it all down. Insane even.

All because Blizzard is overly paranoid about information.

You see, they have so many people involved, and so many people who want to be involved, that Blizzard has to know who is handing out what information to whom at all times. Any break down in this totalitarian control and who knows what Ghostcrawler might accidentally say about the next Blizzard MMO?

Information is worth so much to Blizzard that they can fill a warehouse with fans and media interests. Last year they sold out of their 100$ tickets in record time. Then, because demand was still not met, they offered the fans a live feed for 40$ and a pet. Who know how much they made off of that...

This year Blizzard increased their price substantially and the tickets were sold in two batches. Each batch sold out within thirty minutes.

Blizzard it trying all it can to limit when and how their information is released to the public. They do not want to release too much freely on the internet because they stand to make so much money off of it in other ventures.

Not only do they have Blizzcon for new information, but now they have the magazine to regurgitate old information. An attempt to put together a record of previously released material and doll it up with original art work. Also, here's a hint: just because there might be an interview with someone different, does not mean they are allowed to tell you anything you do not already know.

We are playing Blizzard's game(s), but Blizzard is most certainly also playing its own game.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Killing is My Business...

One of the things that World of Warcraft has missed is the need of some players to spend large amounts of time just killing stuff.

The leveling grind has a few opportunities with gathering and culling quests. But when you are in a leveling vibe, it is difficult to break from it so once you have done the task, the players move on.

However, in dungeon crawl games such as Diablo, people enjoy just killing large groups of mobs. They enjoy it so much that they not only play to the end of the game, but they play it over and over.

So, when Blizzard said that they do not want to include achievements in World of Warcraft that would entice players to spend countless hours killing mobs, I scratched my head and exclaimed, "Why not?".

There were times in Burning Crusade that I would head over to Netherstorm and cull the blood elves over and over. That was before a daily was introduced to do just that. Then I would do the daily, but not more than I needed to acquire the book or orders or whatever. Mostly because sometimes the drop rate required me to kill a few dozen of them.

Mob-killing achievements would work the same way. For instance, in Northrend I spent weeks just killing beasts in the Howling Fjord. Part of the reason was to get some vendor trash to sell, part of it was to get quick/easy experience, but mostly I just wanted to kill stuff for a while.

It is a part of gaming that we sometimes just want to spend hours mindlessly killing things. Making achievements for such tasks is not a bad thing, but instead would give us some rhyme or reason for doing so. At least until the achievement was acquired.

One cool perk for such tasks would that after a high number of kills, mobs would drop more highly-valued items. Not gear or craft materials, just trash that is worth more to vendor.

The one issue would be AOE killers. They can tag entire zones it seems. So, to make things more fair, just add some islands or mountain flats and fill them with mobs. So if a mage is camping your favorite spot one night, you can fly off to another.

Or, Blizzard could make a bunch of instances where players are transported to small zones where they are by themselves (or grouped) and on the rampage. I played a game called Dungeon Runners a while back that was build around this style of game. Blizzard already does raid instances, so why not add solo instances?

Maybe that is fruit for another post...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Flow of the Story

As I wrote in my previous post, MMORPGs try to translate some of the old pen and paper tropes into the digital medium, to varying degrees of success and failure. However, it is not the purpose of online games to mimic pen and paper playstyles, they are only mildly influenced by them.

That said, there are some things that could work better in online games if more pen and paper tropes were utilized.

For instance, I brought up the campaign modules from the old Dungeon and Dragons table games. Even the modern version of the game still follows some of the old standards. The developers release a "core" book (expansion) of rules for a new setting, then they release periodic modules (content patches) that adventurers will follow from a low range of levels (68-70) to a higher range of levels (78-80). The main difference being that online games tend to do all of the levels in one "module" and then the rest of the modules is for leveling up gear.

So, what about the flow of a story throughout all of this?

In the pen and paper games, the story is very linear. You never go back to an older module, but a new module might expand an older environment. Even if a high-level module placed the god-like characters into cosmic planes for their adventures, they might still have a role to play in the "old world".

This is exactly what Blizzard is doing with the Cataclysm expansion. Player characters have become like gods, and they are going home.

Currently it might seem as though Blizzard has created a problem with their story flow. I found part of a discussion at World of Raids where Blizzard admits to a "lurch" of sorts. But really, the only thing missing in the Burning Crusade is some sort of reference.

Imagine being in the midst of troubled world. You have done some heroic deeds and see hints of a god-like presence that needs sorting out. Along the way you come across an opportunity to "leave" this troubled world to give aide to another. From there you are thrust back into your original world but find yourself on a continent that you have not been to. And here is where the story actually breaks just a little bit.

You see, Blizzard has opted to place Cataclysm into a world without the Lich King. Yet adventurers must "defeat" the Lich King before coming "home". That is how the expansions have been placed.

Post Lich King--> Alien world--> Ongoing Lich King--> Post Lich King.

If this were a pen and paper game, the designers would have presented changes to everything that has come before, within the most recent module, to bring the "world" up to speed on what the players have done, and to let them "see" the effects of their efforts.

But in online games, content costs a lot more money (and time) to make then pen and paper experiences.

So, in theory, the flow of the story never needs to be broken or awkward, but the design constraints of money and time are harsh mistresses.

Blizzard might one day place some story fixes into the Lich King expansion, but they might also just decide to push forward instead. As fiction writers know all too well, sometimes you just have to kill your children and let the story go its own way.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Rhythm and the Groove

I wanted to talk some more about why I am suddenly enjoying my time in World of Warcraft again.

It comes back to the old pen and paper games.

In the old days, and maybe still today with Dungeons and Dragons, the table top games would release "expansions" in the form of adventure packs. Some packs were self-contained adventures, while others were a series of epic campaigns.

The self-contained adventures would cover a specific level range and might be for a solo player and his Dungeon Master, or several players, but the characters all had to be a specific level range. They were likely intended to be side adventures from ongoing campaigns, but most players probably just rolled new characters so they could enjoy the adventure.

The campaigns, however, would start off with an adventure pack that players would roll characters for. The first pack in the series would be good for 1-2 or 1-5 levels (I don't remember the ranges anymore). The next pack would be for the next level range and so on until the campaign came to a close. Some campaigns might be good for a couple dozen levels or more, and many months of adventuring, across several pack releases. Then later, there might be another campaign for the next range of levels, then another campaign, and so on. At some point the packs would come to an end at some high level and the players would have to rely on a new setting, likely off-world, with no pack releases: the players would have to rely on ingenuity of their Dungeon Master to come up with the stories.

So, all of this is to help illustrate how expansion packs and live content patches work in current online MMORPGs.

Say for instance, The Burning Crusade just came out. That is your new setting. It is designed to entertain players with characters beginning at a specific level. The accompanying future patch releases are the campaign modules (adventure packs). Now, in pen and paper games, as I illustrated above, each module pushes the characters into new levels. But in online games, the "modules" push the characters into new levels of gear instead.

Obviously, the setting and module model works differently in each online game and none of them are a perfect translation from pen and paper tropes.

But the familiarity is certainly there for me. There are some things I wish online games would do, or do better, and other things I wish they would stop doing, but they come close enough to the mark that can enjoy them. I never played a pen and paper campaign or module (never had enough friends close enough, and once I did, no one had any, we just made up our own stories and winged it) but I always wanted to. Just as I always wanted to immerse myself in the Elder Scrolls games more fully and with a living, breathing population.

World of Warcraft brings all that to the table. Or at least, Blizzard has made the best effort so far.

And that is why I am still playing.

Making Money (Part Three)

I had reached just below 3k. Just under 1k on my money maker, and just over 2k on my main. The money came from dailies, selling trash, and auctioning BOEs (and other assorted items).

It took a couple of weeks, but the money did come in.

Now I'm broke again. I purchased a craftable plate dps chest piece that was on my wish-list at a bargain price of 2700g. The Primordial Saronites are still going for 750-1k, so it really was a good deal, but it left me broke.

However, after just 4-6 hours (across two days of playing) I did two heroics, fourteen dailies, sold some more auction items and trash, and now have over 400g already.

I also have been gathering saronite this whole time, although I no longer need a large stock of it. I have well over 1k ores in my bank and do not know what to do with it. Currently a stack of ore is going for only 15g, so that is only a few hundred gold if I sold them all at auction. I might be able to find someone to break the ore for me (for a reasonable tip, of course, this would take some time) and then I could sell the gems.

I will have to study the gem market better though to see if that would be profitable. I might even need someone to craft some specific gems for me to optimize the profit, so I would need a list handy.

I also keep telling myself that if I would level up one or two of my toons, I would have a few thousand gold just from the quest rewards. I do believe that to be true, but it is difficult to play someone other than my main for long periods of time. There are things I would still her to achieve, although it is all fluff at this point, but I still want it. For instance, I want one or two of the Argent Tournament mounts. I want to get exalted with the rest of my governing factions. I would love to get some more epics.

Anyway, that's where I am at. Broke, but killing mobs faster is good for business!

Gearing Up Again (Part Two)

My main is now in the possession of four pieces of epic armor ranging from 200-245, and two epic two-handed swords (courtesy of the Argent Tournament). I also have two epic tank pieces I am hoarding in case I choose to go dual-spec.

44. Badges of Triumph
8.. Badges of Frost

It seems I will not be trading in badges for gear any time soon. However, I have been knocking out heroic and normal achievements left and right. I guess it kind of pays to wait until the last minute to do dungeons, if you are not raiding.

I am working on my fifth faction in the Argent Tournament. I might as well go ahead and try for the achievement. That means I should get some cloth for the reputation turn-ins to make things easier.

My DPS chest is Titansteel Razorplate, or something like that. It was one of my wish-list craftable pieces. I had just under 3k gold on my characters and saw the plate in the auction house for only 2700g. Since the Primordial Saronite is still going for 750-1k, it was a real bargain.

The boots came from Ebon Blade exalted reputation. The legs came from a Heroic drop.

I am seeing my crits reach over 3.5k...astounding! And my health is over 21k unbuffed.

As far as I am concerned, my character is now ready to ravish the Cataclysm leveling quests with relative ease. At this point I am playing for the pure enjoyment of it. I would like to level some more professions on my hunter, priest, and death knight, but I may switch one or two professions around with other characters so that I do not have to level up so many toons. But, maybe I will just do that anyway.

So, life is good in Northrends after all! And I still have 3-4 zones I have not quested in...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

When the Music Stops

One of the tidbits that came out of Blizzard's recent deluge of Cataclysm interviews seems to have been missed by the leading bloggers: the designers are going to change the music for all of the zones.

My favorite parts of the game are the music in Stormwind, Duskwood, Tanaris, and the Barrens. I know that some of these tunes are reused in other zones as well, but this is how I relate to them.

Changing the music is a bad idea. For one, vanilla WoW was a simpler game. The music in many places was a perfect fit. Today's music in the expansions is far louder and "fuller", more noisy.

I may grow to like the new music, but I will miss the old tunes very much.

But, maybe it is for the best. Since we associate the old music with the old zones, introducing new music for the restructured zones might be a good move after all. I can not count how many times I enter a "spooky" zone with the Duskwood music and have to wrap my head around it a little.

I just hope it is not too obnoxious.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Recent PvP Thoughts

A week or so ago I ran Wintergrasp for the first time. We already had the keep, so I was defending...sort of.

When I zoned in, I did not know what to do. I found the quest givers and picked up the quests, then ran around the keep. I found some wall-mounted guns, but players were already on them. I peaked outside and saw some Horde coming around. I jumped into the fray and died.

When I came back I did it again, but I caught someone with only about half their health and chased them down, literally, they were running away as best they could. I charged, or intervened, or whatever the Berserker version is, and promptly hit them with a hamstring (or whatever slow debuff I have, honestly, I don't know the names of my own skills after three years of playing), and hit them with everything I had, then charged again and did it all over. I finally got my killing blow in, but man, I really had to work at it, and he only had about 50% health when I started on him.

Anyway, I died quickly after that.

So, I rezzed once again and then the achievements began rolling in. And I noticed I was completing quests that I had not even done anything with.

Well, of course I turned them in and got my "free" shards.

By the end of it, we won and I had "earned" over 8k honor points, racked up three or four achievements, and picked up over 100 Stone Keeper Shards. All from one killing blow.

Now, at first, I think I cheated somehow. I certainly did not earn all of that on my own terms.

But, on the other hand, I was severely out-geared.

Now, I do not know how well I can actually PvP these days, but I never was that good. But, when the average player is wearing item gear that is pushing 70 levels higher than your own, it is difficult to say who is actually better. When the bonus stats on their helms can kill you at a glance, how can you fairly compete?

Thus, the "free" honor, kills, achievements, and shards.

Granted, a poor player in item level 271 gear would also get those freebies, at least I would have a fighting chance against him if I had the same level of gear, or at lease near that level. But at nearly 70 levels apart, I am just meat in the grinder, no matter how bad another player might be.

So, at some level, I am grateful for the freebies, but how do I get any better if the rewards are just handed to me?

I guess I am just supposed to keep jumping into the thick of it until my gear matches my opponents, then we can see who is really better.

Monday, June 14, 2010

My Housing Idea

Players want housing.

Blizzard is certain that there is no good way to do it, but more importantly they do not want to "waste" time on something "trivial" when they could be designing new raids and zones.

I say, instanced housing is a must, and very much doable. Add a little button on character portraits, the one that you see when you "inspect" another player. That button is lit up or non-existent depending on whether or not the player has housing. If an "inspector" clicks on the button, he is transported to the instance of the other player's housing, which might include a farm or some other form of business. Depending the player's level of housing, there will me more details and maybe some special rewards. But most importantly to the "inspector", is a showcase withing the house that shows off awards and gear. Perhaps a journal that players can update themselves and "inspectors" can read.

Imagine a "game room" where kill trophies are exhibited. Did you just kill a dragon in the badlands? Maybe it's skull (.01% drop rate) dropped for you and now you have it hanging above your fireplace.

The potential is endless.

Give it to us!

Ideas From Past Experiences

I like a good dungeon as much as anyone, and even though I tend to play solo, I do plenty of group content when it I am in the mood. For instance, I have now picked up over thirty badges of triumph, 150 Stone Keeper Shards, and an astonishing 17k honor points. I now have achievements for about half of the normal 5-mans and even a few heroic versions.

I have yet to track down enough people for a 5-man quest though. I do not like asking people for help, I really enjoy the "anonymous" dungeon finder where I do not have to ask, I just sign up and wait my turn.

Anyway, the gear is killing me. Sure, the epics are just sort of falling into my hands (in addition to the gear I listed in previous posts, I now have the epic boots from the Ebon Blade exalted rewards. But, still, there is a problem. With all of this gear, what do I do with it? Well, obviously, as I get better gear, I dump the old.

How about a reason to keep some of this gear?

Take for instance resist gear. You get three pieces of armor and maybe some enchants and jewelery or something, keep it for a particular boss, take it off when the boss is down, wait a week before using it again.

Well, at least you have a reason to keep it. If your guild is at that point.

How about some individual zones, or entire dungeons, where the lack of resist gear means a slow, but sure death? Now THAT would give people some reason to farm/grind some materials. But more importantly, players would feel a little more interaction with the game environment:

-Don't go in that zone without such and such gear or you will die!

-Maybe you have to brave that zone for short periods of time to farm the materials before you can do the quests there.

-Doing the quests with the gear unlocks that zone's "elemental" dungeon (sure, it creates an attunement of sorts, but one that any solo player can do)

-Add daily objectives that might convince players to hang on to the gear most, perhaps the entirety, of the expansion

I think I would like this mechanic. Something that does not need to be done until after reaching a level cap, but players could choose to enter the zones for short periods at an early stage to get their hands on some materials. Some people would complain about bank/bag space, but really, if we are running out of room with all of this space right now, then we need to let some stuff go.

My idea of instanced player housing would do well here though, if players wanted to store all that gear somewhere, or show it off. I tried to find a link, but it seems I did not actually write a post about my housing idea. Maybe I left it as a comment in someone else's blog...so, I suppose I will have to make a post on that for myself.

Anyway, I think it would be fun.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Cataclysm Already Dropping the Ball

No more Path of the Titans.
No more Guild "talent points".

Path of the Titans was never really explained well, I don't think Blizzard even knew for certain what it was or where it would lead. It was just a vague idea of some alternative leveling mechanic with potential for some fun solo play...I guess.

And I could not care less about Guild talent points. Maybe once I experience some of the other guild stuff that is still planned to be released, then I will mourn for its passing.

The point here is that once again, Blizzard is unable to perform. It was first generally noted by the player base with the Dance Studio failure, but really, the problem showed its ugly head from the beginning in the form of unfinished zones, blank map areas, battlegrounds and instances with entrances but no function.

Then, after complaining to us that the thousand or less quests designed for Lich King was too time consuming to allow for other, more interesting features, now we are to see the inclusion of over 3000 new quests. Holy crap!

So, we have only five new levels to grind out, but we have over 3000 new quests to do it with. Granted some of those quests are for the two new stating zones, but that still leaves well over 2000 quests. And Blizzard reps are saying that they want to design the expansion in such a way that no one will cap out those five levels before seeing all of the new leveling zones.

I guess Blizzard did not like that many people in Lich King capped out at level 80 by the time they reached Storm Peaks or even before that. So, they are going to force us into something.

We do not like being forced into anything.

It was nice not to not see all of the zones in Northrend while leveling. It leaves something left to discover once you've "made it".

And discovering "new" content is what solo play is all about.

Stop dropping the ball, Blizzard!

The Argent Tournament Has Cheated Me

The Argent Tournament was bundled with the Trial of the Crusader/Grand Crusader instances.

In theory, the total package is pretty decent: train up your vehicle fighting skills and challenge other players (or computer scripts) and even win some epics in the arena "dungeon".

First, I think the event is totally in the wrong environment. The tournament grounds should have been set in either the Eastern or Western Kingdoms in a green, wooded area with some streams and a pond or two. I know, I know, it is a personal opinion on taste and art, but there it is.

Second, the time Blizzard intends for you to spend earning rewards is a cheat. This is a solo gamers oasis. You are expected to level up to 80 then spend the following twelve months (or so) earning seals for expensive rewards.

The first time you earn Champion rank with a faction, you receive a bonus of ten seals. Then you can do three daily quests for the remainder of the seals you "need". It takes five days to reach champion with a faction, but you only get the bonus with the first faction. There are six or seven factions, however.

So, if you want a tabard and a flying mount, you must earn 200 seals. 200/3= 66.6 days of grinding the same three quests. Want an epic two-hand sword? Another 25 seals, please. How about a fancy ground mount? 100 seals, please.

Sixty-seven days of grinding for a mount and a tabard? From only three quests? Apparently there are some other ways of getting seals: I think I read some bosses drop them and/or you can trade in some badges for them. But that means raid grinding in addition to your daily grinding.

How about sixty-seven days worth of solo questing and dungeons rather than this crap of a failure?

Just because it is called an MMO does not mean everyone wants to be forced into group content. The multiplayer aspect should be just as optional as anything else.

I've been cheated of my time by grinding this event.

"You don't have to do it if you don't like it!" Shut up.

Still Wondering Why I Play

I think I finally figured it out...at least to some extant.

I grew up in the pen and paper era or fantasy role playing games. My buddies and I played classic D&D, 2nd ed D&D, Forgotten Realms, Vampire the Masquerade, Werewolf the Apocalypse, Paranoia, Rifts, and a host of other long-forgotten games. We even followed the trends into Magic the Gathering, Lord of the Rings card game, the TSR dice games.

I've played most of the Might and Magic games as well as the Heroes series and the original Sega platform version. I thrived on Nintendo's versions of Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior then on Sony's version of Final Fantasy and Breath of Fire.

I got a hold of the Elder Scroll's second chapter, Dagerfall which blew my mind with how much freedom the game offered players.

All of these games and platforms have some things in common besides the fantasy element. It is the crazy questing nature inherent with role playing games.

Sure, there is always a larger picture unfolding with every "chapter", but sometimes you can leave the story altogether and follow other, smaller stories. Sometimes you do not even have to quest, you can just lounge around for a while, causing trouble or winning awards and prizes for odd, local games. Depending on the complexity of the game, or the imagination of the dungeon master, you might even have events tied to working in-game calendars.

Then, once you are done fooling around, you can get back on your horse and get busy with the questing again.

That is why I play, I guess.

With pen and paper, there is only so much you can imagine when the dungeon master is describing the action or scenery to you, "the rocks glow with an eerie glow, like all the other glowing rocks you've passed in other dungeons, but this one glows with a deep, dark purple hue." The dungeon master could go on to explain the shape and texture of the rocks, even the smell of the area...for every step of the way. But you would soon get tired of the voice and cry for some action. Computer games allow you to skip some of the monologue and actually see it as the designer intended. You do not actually roll the dice in a computer game, but the dice are still rolling in the background, so you do not have to argue with the other players or dungeon master over the numbers, the roll up and something happens, whether you like it or not.

When the dungeon master hands out awards and loot, everyone who is playing around the table gets to "see" it through the rule books and loot tables. If you really want to see it though, you will have to draw it, and also your character. It can be really awesome art if you are somewhat talented and/or clever, but the alternative leaves one to just keep to the numbers and pictures stay in the head. Computer games pay someone who is much more talented than you to draw your character and loot to be as awesome as it can be. There are limitations of course, but cool is still cool. Also, in the online games, everyone in playing in the world with you gets to see you and your gear and how awesome it is.

I remember playing Daggerfall and wishing I show off some of the gear I had for my character, but more importantly I wished I could tell other people what I had just accomplished.

The PC and platform gameworlds can be very lonely places.

I currently continue to play World of Warcraft because it offers the best of all worlds combined. So long as Blizzard continues to make new content, and especially quest branches, I see no reason for me to ever quit.

However, that does not mean I can not find something to complain about.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Gear Gaps

My best item is the crafted epic Spiked Titansteel Helm, boasting item level 200, along with my two-hander from the Argent Tournament.

Icecrown Citadel heroic mode is dropping item level 277 (and higher?).

Holy Cow!

I saw a post somewhere in which the commenter stated that item level 234 was "not a big deal".

I also saw a blue post or two stating that they did not intend for gear to become so advanced in this expansion.

Um. Excuse me. How do you let your game jump from item level 200 to 281 and not notice the potential problem before just throwing almost a hundred levels of gear into the game? At what point do you say, "Hey, maybe we don't need the gear to be quite that powerful"?

Maybe the bosses got out of hand and they decided it would take too much time to down rank the bosses so they just added ranks the gear instead.

But still. Can't they just decide on a good range between instances? Say, maybe ten levels per instance. That would allow for other increments in between to support crafting, badges, and modes.

Let's pretend that between the coliseum and ICC, there are only ten levels of gear. Here is what those ten levels are supporting:
5-man normal
5-man heroic
10-man normal
10-man heroic
25-man normal
25-man heroic
Normal badges
Heroic badges

That is nine levels of gear, if everything was updated at once.

Now, I also am aware that Blizzard seems to think that players need bigger increases in order to get them to bother with the game at all.

Maybe they are correct, but I think they are underestimating the power of a good, emersive game. Or maybe this is the cheap way out and they save money by not focusing on the other things that might keep players coming back.

It seems to be a rather sordid affair, really.

Oh well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

PvP Is Not Always For Me But...

I went into my first Winter Grasp battle and I only had about 10k honor points for ever. After it was done (we won) I had over 17k honor points, three Wintergrasp marks, over a dozen Stone Keeper Shards, and three or four new achievements.

And all I did was run around the keep and get myself killed a few times outside. Now I need to check out the current honor rewards to see if I want anything from there. Not too interested in the Stonekeeper items but the instance in the keep has some awesome stuff...too bad my gearscore won't let me get a group for a run in there.

It was fun though. Even if I died from only two or three shots from opposing players every time I poked my head outside.

Will certainly do again.

Lich King Rep Grind

Ebon Blade rep is going very quickly and then I will be watching the Silver Covenant closely, although I will likely move on to other dailies and hit exalted with other factions first that are further along in rep at this time. Such as Ku'luak and Valiant Expedition which I was sort of working on before my hiatus from the game.

There are other factions that I have not officially encountered yet except by reading about the expansion, such as Sons of Hodir. Some faction is supposed to offer a head enchant and I think another offers a shoulder enchant...

Being able to earn rep by wearing the faction's tabards in instances is nice. The numbers per kill seem small, but when you add them up throughout complete runs, those numbers increase quickly. Having some daily rep grinds is nice too, if somewhat off-putting.

I think I want the epic boots from the Ebon Blade rep, they are better than what I can craft, but with my dungeon runs, it is possible something better still could drop for me. Not sure if I would continue the rep grind to exalted or not...

The Silver Covenant has a fantastic-looking mount that I would like, I think, unless I am getting it mixed up with the mount from the Argent Tournament...maybe they are the same....hmmm...

Anyway, I need to find out who offers the shoulder and helm enchants so I can start working on that rep.

I might end up with a lot of exalteds before Cataclysm drops.

Making Money (Part Two)

I am no longer trying to play the market, so this is just an attempt to keep track of where the money is going and what I am getting.

After spending almost every last silver and copper on crafting gear and getting my blacksmithing up to the cap, and after several days of dailies and normal dungeon running, my main has over 1k and my money maker has over 500. I have been sending crafted items and BOE drops over to the money maker to sell on the auction house and she still scans it when I remember to do it.

So, the money is a bit slow, but at least it is coming. I also found some old herbs in my bank alt's guild bank and sent them to my inscriptionist who promptly made a couple stacks of Dusky Pigment...good stuff for the auction house at about 50g a stack...I do intend to level up someone else, at least for a few weeks, until I grow sick of it. But not sure if it will be my hunter or Death Knight. Either stand to make some money in Outland but the Death Knight is already able to go there while the Hunter still has about ten more levels to go...I do not think I need epic flying on either, but I might try to get it anyway...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Epics, Like Rain From the Sky...

They are not kidding.

Epics really do just rain from the sky in World of Warcraft these days.

I am now in possession of an epic helm (crafted), an epic sword, I can wait for a day or two and craft epic legs, or wait for my Knights of the Ebon Blade reputation for better ones. In just a few days I might be able to get another epic sword as well since I've begun "jousting" for another race in the Argent Tournament (the reward from my first race was ten Champion Seals, so i am assuming I will get ten more from Darnassus when I finish that in four more days) and I am still doing my other champion seal quests, so I will have 25 in short order. Also, I am doing daily normal dungeons (and might try some heroic ones, because everyone seems to be outgearing the normal modes) and already picked up six badges.


This post has sat unfinished for a couple of days, below is a quick rundown of the ongoing epic rain.

I have two pieces of epic tanking gear on standby, just incase I decide to do some prot work. I am sitting at 13 Champion Seals and 20 Valliant whatevers for my work with Darnassus. So, after World of Warcraft's 24 downtime tomorrow, I should receive 10 Champion Seals for finishing up Darnassus and then I will have my second epic blade, which may not be as good as my Ebon Blade honorable reputation reward (lots of crit)...will have to look into that.

Did my first heroic but did not notice any epics drop, certainly did not win any. I saw an epic dps chest piece drop in the Crusader's normal coliseum and I thought I won it, but nothing went into my bag, and the loot stayed in the box in the middle of the room right up until we all left...so I don't know, maybe there was a glitch. I could probably cry out to a game mod but it's really not important enough for the effort.

The end result is the same, the epics are falling all around me all of a sudden. A part of me is glad that the mobs die more quickly, but another part of me is disappointed that epics mean so little these days...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Nothing Ventured...

I did my first 5-man in over a year today.

Had some issues, but scored on the damaged meters and finished the run. Got four badges and some greed gear out of it. Also three achievements. I did not even sign up for a heroic, my random was for the first dungeon in ICC. There are three 5-man dungeons for ICC apparently and they all give out epics that on close or equal to Tier 9 gear. The instance was Forge of Souls.

So, maybe my end-game is not so bleak after all. If I farm Forge of Souls, and the next wing which is now open to me since I finished Forge of Souls, and gather up some badges, I might be full of epics within six or eight weeks.

I am almost loaded up on the Saronite that I need to finish off my Blacksmithing skills. I farmed out over 300 ores today, will need at least another hundred to hit 445. Not sure how many I will need for the last five points. Depends on if I push through the green numbers or if I have access to some moderately easy epic crafts. And those depend on the high-end material costs.

So, in the past week:

I crafted a set of blue dps gear.
Earned my first epic sword in the Lich King expansion.
Jumped on the trail of the Black Knight.
Completed my first TWO 5-mans in over a year (I only mentioned the first one above, but I did two today.)
Reached exalted with Stormwind.
Began the next leg of the Argent Tournament (looking to reach exalted with the Silver Covenant).
Kind of gave up on the auction house for the time being, but it was a nice learning experience.
Almost topped off Blacksmithing.
Topped off Mining.

Things are looking good!

Ruby Sanctum Just Around the Corner

And freshly minted level 80 toons will not be getting in because it will only be for 10 and 25 player groups. The instance is supposed to be near the difficulty level of ICC (or maybe Ulduar, but that would not make sense...).

I am not jealous, just a little disappointed. Without spending weeks and months on obtaining badge gear, no one will want me in their pug group and no guild will want to gear me up just so I can have some fun.

Seriously, it is proving to be very unfun to be this far behind in the game.

And it is not even a matter of skill or time. Well, time does play a factor, but not in the way you might think. Is it not appropriate (to me) for those who came first to get all gaming experience just because they leveled to the cap in the first month of the expansion's release then cried that the game was too easy.

Well, it is not so easy when all of these morons got as much as they could as soon as they could get it, then cried that it was all too easy then told everyone who came after to suck it. They were all carried. They were all at the mercy of others who wanted finish the game quickly.

Now, I do not blame players who want to finish a World of Warcraft $40 expansion within one $15 month. If players want to take advantage of cheap content like that, fine, let them do so and get them out of the game quickly. But as we can see, most players held on to the very end, or at least kept coming back to play the newest "free" raid content for a month.

But look at the state of the end game for late-comers:

No one raids the lower-end instances without end-game gear.
Normal instances are largely ignored because loot badges only drop from heroics.
No one plays heroics without end game gear.
End-game crafting items drop from end-game bosses (so once we hit a profession cap, we are done unless we know how to play markets in auction house).

At least we have some gathering professions and the Argent Tournament, maybe we can get something from that.

More About Why I Play

As mentioned previously, I play World of Warcraft largely because I like playing dress-up with my avatar.

On the other hand, once I have a set of gear that I like, why do I keep playing then?

There really is not much left for me to do in the game at all. I have explored every inch of the map...according to my Explorer achievement, although I still see yellow text pop up telling me that I have discovered a new place from time to time.

I am not raiding. I am not grouping for 5-mans. I do not do group quests. I am not doing well at the auction house.

All remaining points of gear acquisition appear to be out of my reach, so as far as playing dress-up, it is game over for me.

Nothing left to explore, no more gear to be had.

Why keep playing?

Back In The Day, if you had gear from raiding, people knew where you got it from. These days, epic gear is like sand on the beach, albeit a beach that is difficult for some people to get to. So gear certainly does not make anyone more significant than anyone else, so really there is not even any motivation to get better and more flashy gear to play dress-up with.

It might be nice to see the instances though. I am even considering trying the new LFG tool to see if I can do some normal 5-mans. I do not think that will help in gear progression though. To get epics from 5-mans, you have to do heroic versions. To do heroic versions these days you have to have epics...people do not want to be patient with new level 80s.

Quests? Well, there are not that many engaging quests left that I have not already done once or more. Most quests are fed-ex or kill foozles or gather stuff. Also, most quests that worth their salt end in group encounters anyway, so I would not be doing them.

So, why am I playing?

I guess I will have to dwell on this some more...

Making Money Day Fifteen

Pretty much took the day off, but I did sell some crafted items. The rest of my items returned, I have no live auctions at this time.

I did not even bother to scan the auction house.

I was kind of busy today though, so I really just did not have much time to spare. We will see what tomorrow brings.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Gevlon's Latest Discussion

Gevlon has an ongoing discussion about the "missing link" of success. He is asking what the magical property is that successful people have that others do not.

His reasoning for the belief in this magical skill...or attribute, is that successful people can come from all walks of life. While rich children are more likely to "inherit" this magical trait and remain rich, some poor people can suddenly become rich for no apparent reason beyond the idea that maybe they just decided it was the right time to be awesome. Otherwise poor people tend to stay poor no matter what they learn, how hard they try, or how badly they want the wealth.

Rich people in other nations who leave everything behind and come to America with only pennies in their pockets, eventually become wealthy again.

Gevlon suggests that these examples show that the magical attribute is more hereditary than learned.

One of the comments in his most recent post on the topic suggest that the magical trait is a product of adaptation, an idea pulled from the Theory of Evolution.

I am tempted to agree with that comment.

I agree with Gevlon that the magical property that allows people to become wealth and powerful can not be learned. If it can not be learned then it must be inherited. The funny thing about evolutionary adaptation is that just because you have the ability, does not mean you will automatically want to use it. So, it should be seen in the field that some people who are poor, can choose to become wealthy even though they might be the first of their bloodline in recent memory to do so. We know that this does happen.

It should also be easily observed that some people no matter how hard they try, will never become wealthy. Even if they win the lottery or inherit or are gifted wealth, if left to themselves, they will become poor again in due time. Again, this is proven true.

At this time, I believe that Gevlon's magical attribute is adaptation. You either have the ability or you do not. It can not be learned. It can not be shared. It can not be taught or borrowed. Those who have it must simply choose to use it.

I suppose it is possible that some who have the adaptation of wealth creation might have to learn some other basic skills in order to properly, or quickly, use the trait. But that might be just my own wishful thinking.

I am not doing well in my money-making endeavors. I have lost more than I have gained. I can not seem to get past a certain point. I could blame market trends and the state of the game being between expansions at this time, but those things do not seem to stop others from making money in the game.

This is also a reflection of my own real life. I am not wealthy by any means. I own nothing that was not given to me out of charity or friendship.

So, yeah, I am sort of hoping that I might have this trait and that I am simply lacking some other basic skills that are needed to make it shine.