Saturday, January 22, 2011

"Leaves That are Green Turn to Brown."

Someday I am going to update my blogroll to reflect some blogs that I frequent via other people's blogrolls. And when I do that, Klepsakovic's Troll Racials are Overpowered blog is going to be included. I've been to his comments section and argued with him once over items and features that Blizzard seems to be breaking just for the sake of removing fun from the game.

My argument was that there are things in the game that were broken upon release and players became used to some of them. When Blizzard finally gets around to fixing things, suddenly some veteran players feel as though some of the fun has been removed from the game. But complexity plays a roll in how long some "harmless" things remain broken in the game and fixes can take a long time to come as more important things tend to push the "harmless" issues down the list.

Anyway, this apparent removal of fun is a big issue for some players. It includes not only the issue of "fixed" items, but the removal of motivation for exploration. When nothing surprising can happen off the beaten path, then why bother with it? The linearity of leveling is a prime example of Blizzard's effective "fix" of the explorer's fun.

I wrote that Cataclysm is the highest quality product Blizzard has yet released for World of Warcraft and I stand by that statement. However, their attention to the quality of the leveling experience and the graphics of the new and updated zones, has forced them to pay less attention to random random experiences.

I think that Blizzard knows precisely what they are doing.

They want to make the game more easily accessible, but also they want to make the game look more stunning, provide more bells and whistles. They also want to release more content at a faster pace.

A sandbox game requires attention to lots and lots of little, random, "accidental" things for players to explore and stumble across. But this kind of game has to pull attention and time away from the environment, if they intend to keep to any respectable release date. No one game can provide both great quality environments, such as the new Cataclysm zones, and the open gameplay experience of Elder Scroll's Daggerfall. Maybe that game is on its way in the form of Rift or Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it's going to take Blizzard a lot more effort and time than their standard expansion pack allows for. Maybe Blizzard's next MMO will be that game.

The point is that World of Warcraft is not that game.

And as one blogger states, "Veterans of World of Warcraft had their standards and expectations set too high for Cataclysm."

The truth is that Vanilla Wow was mostly just thrown together. The developers spent a lot of time on making great features, but the game was so big they couldn't even finish the maps. Throughout Burning Crusade and even some of the Lich King, Blizzard was still finishing vanilla material and including it into the expansions as new stuff. Cataclysm is possibly their first entirely new product for World of Warcraft since the game launched, aside from a handful of zones and dungeons previously released.

World of Warcraft was never the game that the veterans really wanted. Instead it was an unfinished tease of what they wanted. Now it seems that Blizzard has an actual direction for World of Warcraft, not just "This is our first MMO, let's make it cool, big, and functional!"

To be honest, I too am a veteran RPG player, and I don't know how much longer I can play World of Warcraft. However, as other bloggers have stated, there just isn't anything else that is big enough, fantastic enough, or detailed enough to take us from WoW. For the most part the game for myself, is good enough. But I do long for a different game.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Neutral Critique of Cataclysm so Far.

Once again, Larissa from has inspired a blog post.

Cataclysm is a great expansion, as all three WoW expansions so far have been. Each expansion is almost a new game unto itself.

Cataclysm includes more new content than any previous WoW expansion so far. Some people are upset that a lot of the new content was not designed for leveling or end game.

People are mad because they can't get rewards fast enough in the new guild Blizzard might have to focus a little more attention on perks for the smaller guilds, I'm sure they've got the message. But overall, crying over vanity items and speed buffs seems rather petty to me.

Just how many pets do you need to be happy? How fast does your mount have to go? How desperate are you to avoid the leveling content?

Speed, experience, and vanity sort of defines the guild features at this time.

All of the new zones are chock full of quality. Possibly the best quality in an MMO zone that I've ever seen, and I've played a lot of MMOs. Phasing is a mixed bag that I'm not sold on yet. Could live without it, but it has a nice story-telling function.

It's a little more difficult to get epics so far. I like nice-looking gear. Great weapons are hard to come by. You have to like the game if you want to spend the time to get some of the better-looking gear. Otherwise, why are you bothering?

There are some things to really like about the group system. I miss seeing people congregate at summoning stones, but I don't miss the traveling.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Tanking, Dualspec, and Gear Swapping.

I've done a couple of normal runs as tank. The first one was very stressful. The second one was ok though. I have a clue about the buttons I need to use so that's great.

It felt good to be back in my original roll. I'm am also very greatful that I can switch back to dps with just a few buttons. The gear swapping feature was a learning experience for me, but I got it figured out and am glad for it. Dualspec overall is now something I no longer dread. I was once afraid that groups (especially raids) would expect warriors to switch between dps and tanking on a whim. It seems that I was wrong to think this.

Still need to get my glyphs and enchants straightened out, but I guess I'm in no rush. Maybe if I ever get to tanking heroics, I will worry about it.

Anyway, so far so good!

Good-bye Adsense.

I finally got around to removing the Google add stuff from this blog. It was initially added when I created the blog because I was still learning SEO, or SOE, or whatever it's called. The guides I was using suggested adding the Google adds because...why not, I suppose.

I think I looked at the results once or twice, but haven't done so in about two years, so I don't even know if I have any money owed me or not. I guess I don't care enough to bother. I don't write the posts for money, it was just one of those things that seemed to be "on the side". One of those things that you do if you make a blog.

However, I've noticed that most of the blogs I read don't have any add revenue generators. I probably should have removed them a long time ago, but it seemed like such a nonsense thing that I didn't even want to waste the few seconds it would take to click "remove".

So, now it's done. If anyone might have had a negative opinion about it, I guess...yay?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Questing in Cataclysm.

Questing in World of Warcraft is love-hate relationship.

I love having something mindless to do, but I hate feeling as though I have to get through it to get somewhere, or something.

Yet, I actually like questing at level cap.

I don't feel rushed if I'm already capped. It may not be so challenging, but so what? Questing is about enjoying some stories and taking part in some emersion. A challenge only gets in the way of that.

On the other hand, questing while leveling up sort of sucks. You're feeling rushed because there's stuff to do, places to go, but you can't do it or get there until you're level is maxed out. And you have some weird feelings while leveling. You get a great green upgrade to a previous green upgrade, or maybe it's even a blue. But you know that within hours, you're going to replace it with another green, or blue.

Once you craft your first set of blues, none of the leveling gear matters. It's just garbage for the vendor, or something for an enchanter to break. All of it, blues and greens alike. Sure, everything in the game amounts to that in the end, but while leveling, it's more pronounced. You had to complete a task to get the gear and you needed the gear upgrade to keep moving on. But that first crafted set is going to sit with you for a while. With heroic queues and thirty-fourty minutes, you aren't doing too many a day. And there's never any telling if your next upgrade is going to drop or, if it does, if you are going to win the roll.

But, at least while I'm waiting for the next upgrades, I can quest at my leisure and not feel rushed or as though I must be successful to move on.

So, I'm wondering if questing should be changed. Maybe we can do just a handful of "heroic" quests to level up, then the rest of the questing adventure can just be for giggles.

Anyway, I'm glad to be level-capped, and also glad to have lots of questing left to do on the side.

My First Heroic (and Second).

After the gear achievement popped up from my newest gear acquisitions, I quickly joined the queue for heroics. Forty minutes later I was in my first group which lasted all of five minutes, or less.

After the first pull two party members began bickering. One of them pulled the second pack and promptly left group. The rest of us wiped. When we got our health back only two of showed up in the instance. We waited around a few minutes. No one else joined us but no one else was dropping group either. I finally got fed up and left the group.

My second heroic that evening (another forty minutes later) went much better. I died a few times, we wiped two or three times, but we finished. I scored a Chaos Orb and a Two-handed axe. It was well worth the effort.

I'm still not a fan of grouping, but I do intend to do a few more heroics. I want the orbs. And better gear, of course...for some reason.

More Crafting Woes.

Holy cow!

So, there I am in the Dwarven District next to the trainer at the forge. I've purchased all of the training he has for me, all of my crafts are grayed out, and I'm sitting at 515 Blacksmithing.

What the...?

After the shock passes, I ask my guild what I'm missing here since I should either have more stuff to buy or more training to do...and I'm told I have to go to Twilight Highlands and buy additional plans there...and the currency is ore.

I think about the ore for only a moment before the idea passes by and I give out a sigh and head out.

I find the vendor and sure enough, Elementium is the currency for the rest of my blacksmithing plans. Plus, I still need to use more ore to craft them. But Elementium is not the only ore, I also need to buy plans with Hardened Elementium and Pyrium bars. *sigh*

So, I do the deed, max out my Blacksmithing, done my blue "bloodied" gear, see the gear achievement pop up, and promptly que for my first heroic Cataclysm dungeon.

Why does crafting have to be so awful?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

After 85

Well, last night while I was in the middle of the mildly humorous Uldum questlines, I dinged 85.

So, now what?

In Lich King, I didn't cap out until most players were good and done with all of the low-level content. So this time around I am much more punctual and can take advantage of people still running the first of the Cataclysm 5-mans.

Also, crafting is still in its infancy, though the market is leveling off, and I can make some profit there.

Blacksmithing is going to be a pain, again, of course, but at least I'm not too far behind the curve this time. And with over 10k in gold now, I can afford some of the more expensive mats if I need to buy anything off the auction house.

More and more I think I would like to raid a little.

I also have a few alts to finish leveling.

Still, I'm looking forward to the next content patch. Not sure what it'll bring to the table for solo players like myself, but I'm sure there will be something...maybe the revamped Darkmoon Fair?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Crafting Woes in Cataclysm.

So, apparently Blizzard decided to "improve" the crafting experience in World of Warcraft. I read about it while the beta was live and remember being sort of excited. But today I had to look it up because whatever this "improvement" was, I wasn't seeing it in the crafting that I did yesterday.

I smelted over 700 ore, then folded over 120 Obsidium Bars, crafted up to 480 skill level (maybe more), then ran out of resources. At this point the only "special" material I needed was a handful of Volatile Earth, which I seem to have a lot of. So, I was thinking afterward, what was this "improvement" that I was supposed to experience?

So today I googled it up and read that items would be crafted with random stats.

Say what?

I don't know what I was thinking when I first heard about these "improvements", but I remember being excited. Is this what I was excited about? Was I so thirsty for something new that this was all I needed? Random stats on greens?

Maybe this works out better in the blue and purple range, makes it easier to profit a little on the auction house. But on the other hand, doesn't this potentially make things worse?

First, no one cares about the green stuff. Maybe you can use some of it, but it's only going to last a few hours, a couple of days max, before you replace your crafted green item with a leveling reward. The blues might last a little longer. But really, the only people who care about greens and most blues, are enchanters who need to destroy special items for their own materials. Stats don't mean anything to them.

So, then we get to the epics, the mighty purples. Have you ever crafted an epic item? It's tedious. You need a LOT of materials that you have to grind out or buy from the auction house. If you are only in need of one of those epic, crafted items for yourself, it will still be costly. Especially if you need items that are soulbound and only found in dungeons. A few five mans might be ok, but what if your item only drops in raids?

"If you aren't raiding, then you don't need the it!", whatever.

So, let's pretend you finally get all the mats you need. You are a warrior. You want an epic crafted shield or sword or whatever. You find a forge, double check that you have everything you need for your one item, watch the bar...and your item comes out with int on it.


So, I'm not really looking forward to living out my own nightmare, but that's what I see coming down the line.

And what is up with this extra crafting material? Folded Obsidium? Are you kidding me? Blizzard actually wants me to work harder (waste more time) on my crafting by making me add an extra step to the process and force me to gather more low-level ores than I ever have before? Sure, it appears that we no longer need to put ten elemetal items together to form a super element, but by adding this other extra step, they haven't improved anything at all.

And by making it possible for me to waste my high-level mats on an item with random stats that I don't actually want just seems sadistic.

I don't know, maybe the random stats are just numbers and not individual things like def vs. spirit. I didn't look at any of the items that I sold yesterday, so I'll have to try and remember to look next time I blow a load of ore.

I've never really liked crafting Warcraft. Only it's promise. I wish I could quit it.

Level 84+

I took most of a day off from leveling and played around with a worgen warlock for a couple of hours. Really fun environment for the starting zone. The gloomy mood is great. The music is mostly appropriate, but some of it seems a little too "upbeat" and takes me out of the experience just a little. The little bite "debuff" that changed messages a few times was funny, " don't feel so good".

The next day I mostly did mining. I have some woes for another post.

I went back to Twilight Highlands so I could get the portal open. Next I need to get the Uldum portal in working condition then I'll be set for Cataclysm travel. By then I should be half way or more into 84. I might just hang out in Uldum until I'm 85, complete the zone, and gather some pyrite while I'm there.

Once again, I don't think I'm going to be raiding. I have young children and raiding just takes up too much time. Not that my guild would want me in a raid, but if I could get a spot, would I do it?

It's only once or twice a week.

I've done it before.

But I don't do much grouping at all anymore. I like the freedom of being able to leave my computer at a moment's notice to read to my daughter, or put my youngest son down for a nap. Or stare at my beautiful wife for a few minutes. Or make an emergency run to the store for supper.

I don't know, I might give it a shot. Only a couple times a week, right?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Level 83+

I've cleared Vash'ir and am moving along nicely in Deepholm. Got the "Explore Cataclysm" achievement along with the lore-related achievements for Vash'ir. Maxed out mining and only ever came across one mineral node that I couldn't get in the process. Have over two hundred Osidium Ore and gathering Elementium quickly. Gonna need a lot more of both though.

Ran across Teckton the sheep outside of Stormwind, in the mountains. Fun. The Gnome that comes running out of the house is great. I actually feel bad for killing his sheep, but it hasn't stopped me from going back.