Monday, November 29, 2010

Questing, Deadmines, Silverpine

Of all the changes since the Shattering, three things have stood out in my mind: Questing, Deadmines, Silverpine. These three things are those I have experienced and I will not commment on something I have not yet seen or done, so here we go.

I've done the Human, Gnome, Troll and Undead starting areas. The Human and Undead have some improvements, especially Undead, and each goes by really quickly. The Gnome starting area was cute and had some really good music, while the Troll starting area provided a nice dialogue between Vol'jin and Garrosh but was a bit overloaded with tiki target dummies. All said and done I did enjoy each of them. Perhaps it was only because it was different and I can't see objectively, but I didn't really see anything wrong, I mean they are just starting areas, right?

Questing overall has become compact, orderly, efficient. The new feature where you finish a quest out in the world, can turn it in without going back a million miles to the questgiver and pick up the next one in the chain really adds to the pace of questing and takes away many a long stroll back to the quest hub. This especially becomes prevalent in Silverpine forest, which I'll get to, but can be seen in all areas to different degrees.

A good example of efficient and progressive questing can be seen in the Southern Barrens. You start up north and do some quests bashing alliance forces, then move down to the next camp, then to the next, until finally you reach the Battle Scar at the very south where all the area "PvP" comes to a head and you see the tensions between Alliance and Horde in their full glory. It was a fun trek as no quest hub held me questing in an area for too long, it was planned well enough so that by the time I'm done I've completed the 5 levels the zone is intended you to pass through.

Some may say it goes to fast and an Exp nerf needs to be put in place, I'll leave that argument for others to make. For myself I'm able, for what I've seen so far, to go through a zone and see it's full story (good or bad), from beginning to end. That's something that I've never done before, so in that sense I see that Questing has improved.

I wasn't expecting it to be any different than the old one, as I believed the changes were only meant for the Heroic lvl 85 version. So it was a fun surprise to see the deadmines changed. Quest givers are inside the instance, at the beginning (and appear at the end INSIDE the instance), which makes it convenient for sure. Perhaps the best thing was after we downed the first boss I see in party chat "wtf are monkeys doing here? lol". Yeah, monkeys with pick axes in the Deadmines, it was beautiful to see and absolutely hilarious.

All boss fights are changed, and each one is challenging in its own right. Improved boss mechanics, a little coordination is required to keep everyone alive, and at the pinnacle of it all to see Cookie the murloc jump into his cauldron and throw food at everyone was a sight I shall never forget. Oh yeah, there was a big bad Worgen on the boat that makes everything go foggy...really cool fight.

The changes are terriffic, really a fun experience to go through. Having to dodge cannon balls to dodging loaves of bread make the Deadmines my new favorite low-level dungeon.

Captivating story line, fascinating movtives of the Banshee Queen, a stroll through the ruins of Gilneas city, and ultimately to a bugged quest that killed all questlines in the zone make this my most loved and hated new zone.

What angers me most is that this particular quest that's bugged and stopped my new Troll Druid from finishing the story there was bugged in the Beta, on the PTR, and now on live. You would think that Blizzard would have done something about it considering it prevents people from seeing all the climactic events of the zone, but hey, why worry when you're getting paid, right?

That said, the zone had all the great elements of the new questing mechanics that any other zone had. All the worgen you get to kill really makes you starting thinking that you're a vampire with a human girlfriend that....uh, really bad tangent, sorry!

If the bugged can get fixed I may say that it's the best new zone in the game, but then again there are a couple dozen zones I haven't tried yet so my opinion really isn't worth much right now.

Let's just get Cataclysm rolling already, I don't like this two week waiting period to experience everything. But until then, there is still much to enjoy, to see and to do.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NOT my initial thoughts of the Shattering

Not today, folk, there's too much yet to explore. Yes, I logged in, and yes I tried out a few of the new starting zones, and yes I went exploring, but my explorations and evaluations are not yet complete for a full out post. So stay tuned, because I've got lots to say...and most of it pretty darn good at that.

Peace out!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sight Seeing

I did some sightseeing yesterday, the final day in the life of Old Azeroth. No, I didn't earn my world Explorer title, but I had a plan which didn't involve only myself. You see, I let my kids play as well, but not nearly as much as I play. So given that I've been around the world so many times with so many toons, I let my kids decide where we went.

Can you say Night Elf? Good, because that's all they wanted to look at. Any zone with any NElf structures, ruins, outposts, or lore they made me wade through. It actually went faster than I thought it would, and there were a few things that I had never seen before.

For example, in Feralas, somewhat east of Dire Maul there is one of the most beautiful waterfalls that I have ever seen. The green aura that permeates the region adds a unique glow a spectacular fall that shimmers as it lands in a small pond, only to lead to a stream that flows onward to the south. It was quite a site, one that I had never really paid attention to or possibly seen before last night.

I reset all of the hearthstones on all of our toons, since all portals will disappear from Dalaran and Shatt (which I love, btw). But other than that it was a fairly uneventful day. I think that's because I have seen so much now, the changes are not sad but a welcome joy.

Did any of you do anything special or was your last day in Azeroth just business as usual? Share if you like. Thanks for stopping by, and have a great time in the New World.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Party Time!

So the world will Shatter soon, which I say is cause for a party! But not quite yet, there are some things to celebrate, such as:
Paths trod, sometimes lonely, sometimes with the company of good people who make me laugh and scream and hope. The first time I saw the sunset over the coastlands of Westfall I believed myself to be in a dream, a mirage before my eyes of indescribable lights, colors, known to me then first and visiting my dreams regularly afterward.
The crunch of the snow beneath my feat as I wade my way through the frostbite and cold of Winterspring is recalled to memory as I move forward on my current path toward descruction. White, soft and crisp, I thought I could see my breath, if I was breathing at all. But I don't see how I could have as my breath was taken away. So one, two, three more steps I take along the snow capped peak as I take in the winter beauty and the peaceful desolation.
Then I woke up on a new path, a place of continual autumn. The yellow of the sun born into the leaves of Eversong Woods. The orange of the first pumkin of the season, waiting patiently on the ground surrounded by the greens leaves and the hope and spring of a new day; the orange suddenly taken and reincarnated in the veins of the trees of the North, South, East and West. I'm filled with wonder, with awe, with the new heart of a child who first steps foot on the summit of a mountain, when scanning the heavens above and the earth beneath first learns that he/she is not alone, that a wide world awaits full of promise and potential, while signaling an eventual finality.
New paths, strange paths, lead me into dark caverns filled with enemies and spies. Terror shakes at my heart and my courage falters for a moment. Then lifted again by the roaring charge of valiant Warriors I take the plunge into battle, where blood is frozen and shadows terrorize my waking dreams. Then fire, fire, everywhere around me, engulfing me and taunting me. MOVE, the call rings out, but danger causes my heart to fail and the spirit world became my closest friend and most bitter enemy. Yet in the midst of chaos I hear the clear call of laughter, not remote but near to the heart. There is joy even in the deepest dungeons of the world, where brave adventurers joined forces to vanquish the most evil of demons and men. Rejoicing at the victories, and sometimes and the monumental collapses that demand the heart lightened.
Then there were strange paths, curious paths, that fill my memories with awe and wonder. The shoreline is steep, the water lurks, and beasts unknown swim in the depths thereof. I find places forgotten, strongholds long lost, and green grass to rest my weary legs and meditate. Alone, but happier for it, for in this place nobody will find me. My explorations have lead me to the remote seashores and mountain tops in all of Azeroth, found only by the wandering few who sought solitude in times of trouble and times where their adventurous heart pulled them thither. My place, my own, regardless of who trod there before me, this place, this hideout, has been claimed by my peace of mind and it shall not be relinquished.
But through all these paths I cannot, will not forget my first few steps. Green grass, tall trees, a small abby with simple vendors desiring to equip me for the dangers that lurked. One short step at a time I moved deeper into this world. Even upon leaving my first home fear was never so much that courage couldn't find its way through, pulling me inexorably through the darkness of nighttime of Elwynn Forest to adventures and lands of greater wonder.
Soaking my boots in the Swamps of Sorrows only to dry out and crack in the desolation that was the Blasted Lands. Swatting the bugs off my neck in the sulty jungles of Stranglethorn to crawling on all fours in search for even the appearance of water in Tanaris. Once I recall my eyes drawn to the sorrow that was Arthas' Tears, growing solemly on the slopes of a lonely hill in the midst of undead terrors. How I sorrowed too for the man, the Prince, the King. Cursed, overcome, evil spreading to his heart only to be rescued by death in the end in the frozen north of the world.
So many paths, so many people, so little time. And now it's all about to change, evolve, even darken. Those tears do not stall my heart, for it knows now where it wishes to be led. Changes, shattering changes, soon to befall on all of Azeroth point to the need for its inhabitants to either run or stand and fight. Finding a solitary spot to sit and ponder the meaning of all these adventures is welcome when done voluntarily, but to be forced from my home and made to find a cave to hide in hoping that it will all go away is not the life I choose. I'll stand, I'll shout, I'll tell all of Azeroth that this is a glorious time in the history of our world, it's about time for the biggest party ever, and it'll be a wonder to behold.
Bring on the Cataclysm, for me and my friends (see above picture) are ready and waiting!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Incredible Hulk

I cannot say how many times I've been in Utgard Pinnacle and somebody says "Hey, can we do the Hulk achieve?" People then proceed to burn down both the Hulk and the boss, or some other stupid variation.

That's it, I am convinced that nobody knows what this achievement really is or how to do it. Well, nobody is a big word, so I won't say that, but my personal experience shows that more than 90% of people that have tried to get the achieve have no idea how it's done.

I wish to enlighten the 90% here and now, so spread the word.

A simple strat is thus:

1) Pull either Hulk and have the tank tank both the boss and the hulk in the center of the alter. DPS need to damage the Hulk, probably to somewhere less than half to a quarter remaining health, but don't DPS the boss...yet.

2) The tank continues to stand on the table/alter while the sword is being lowered for the Ritual of the Sword. Once the sword lands on the alter AoE damage will issue forth from the sword, damaging the Hulk enough to kill him.

3) Down the boss.

You see, the goal of this achievement is to have Sorrowgrave (aka the boss) kill the Hulk...not the stalwart heroes like yourself. It seems that this is the part nobody knows, she must kill him, NOT YOU. So all you idiots, please stop killing the Hulk, bring him to the table and take out some health and let the Ritual of the Sword finish him off.

BAM!!! The achievement is yours. Please play responsiby!

Thank you for your attention, have a pleasant morning/afternoon/evening/night (wherever you may live).

Nov 23rd - The Shattering?

It's just a rumor, of course, but I'd like to point out that I, once upon a time, predicted that Cataclysm would be released on Nov 23. Now I know that tecnically I was incorrect, it would be quite cool if the shattering happened on the day I guessed major changes would occur. It would be a consolation prize at best, but if it happens then I'll take it.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fun or Childish?

Who am I to tell you how to have fun? I'm quite outspoken on the subject, I've come to really despise being told what to do and how to have fun myself, it would take some nerve to be a hypocrite now.

So I won't, I'll just make a veiled judgement and pose it in the form of a question. Is it fun or childish to visit one of the dead opposing faction capital cities (Silvermoon or Exodar) and begin slaying all the low level mobs within?

I'll take an example from last night, where a pair of stinking Blood Elves pranced their dainty booties around the Exodar taking on level 30-75 NPC's. Never attacking anyone of strength or importance, just being annoying by killing off auctioneers and salespeople and random Draenei walking around enjoying their daily exercise.

I stood there...wait, maybe I need to explain what I was doing there. It's funny, but when I'm in Dalaran there are two portals that you can enter mounted and still be mounted on the other side, the portal to the Exodar and the one to Shattrath. As there currently are no auction houses in Shat, I choose the Exodar because I can run to the AH faster. Yep, that's my logic, weird as it is.

Anyhoo, I stood there and watched as these two "Kingslayers" (btw) showed off their awesomeness by ransacking a city and NPC's that clearly have no chance against them. And they were at it for over an hour. They tried to taunt me, but I'm not stupid, I'm not about to PvP against a Pali and a personal healing Priest. Not only do I suck at PvP, I wouldn't have won anyway. They called me chicken and used other choice phrases, I am sure, but I just stood there and wondered if their behavior was simply two friends having a good time or two people being childish, picking on NPC of little or no consequence for the sake of wanting to behave like a coupld of jerks.

My initial belief is that their behavior was childish. They had no mission, no purpose other than take out NPC's that I and others use regularly who visit the Exodar. They did not engage in a PvP that I would call "honorable", rather only fighting those NPC's who they vastly out leveled. Now they probably were laughing and telling each other on their vent channel about how much fun they were having, and about how that stupid Warlock was a big coward not to fight, but the only thing they accomplished was to disrupt my ability to play and have fun the way I wanted to.

I don't know all the rules, written or unwritten, of world PvP, but I've heard a lot of stories. I know of high level toons camping low level places in PvP servers, making it nearly impossible to level sometimes. I don't think that that behavior is honorable, and therefore should not be engaged in. Now I do know that some say that "if the rule doesn't prohibit then anything goes", an attitude that many lawyers take in many a court system, and we all know what the world thinks of lawyers.

Social "norms" exist for a reason, cultural traditions or acceptable yet unwritten patterns of behavior are present in every country. Nobody has absolute rights, not even the right to have fun. In America, rights are granted to a point, where your rights infringe on the rights of others your rights end. That's how I believe what world PvP should be. When you begin to do things that restrict the rights of others, then it is behavior that should be avoided.

Unfortunately, I believe I must conceed a few exceptions. But those exceptions assume that players are mature and thougtful. Two players of opposite factions, of approximate equal level in the same zone on a PvP realm - GO FOR IT! If some Gnome is mining go ahead and hit 'em in the back of his head with your foot, or an axe, either one. But if your are 80 and that gnome is lvl10, what exactly do you (the level 80) get from that transaction? How honorable is it to kill someone 70 levels lower than you? How is that in any way reflect positively on you?

I don't claim to have all the answers, and I guess it's too much to ask people to act in a reasonable, mature manner. Why would it ever be cool to wipe out NPC's that other, much lower level toons need to enjoy their side of the game? Is it a step to prove your metal? An initiation of sorts to prove what a great warrior you are? Bah! It's childish, cowardly, and yes even on PvP realms a trouncing of the rights of others.

To those two stinking Blood Elves that were having SOOOOO much fun last night, YOU SUCK! Hope you had fun deluding yoursleves into thinking your cooler than you actually are...meaning your not, your just childish.

Monday, November 15, 2010

In or Out of "The Loop"?

I used to live in Florida, that lasted about 6 months. I moved back to Las Vegas in about 2005. I got a job. Shortly after getting the job we hired a new Controller, who became my new boss. Then something interesting happened, there was a new water cooler in the office. No, not a literal water cooler (although we did have one in the kitchen), but a metaphorical water cooler, a place where people congregated to talk. Business or pleasure, my boss' office became the new place for people to hang out and bash each other's fantasy football teams. It became the place to be if you wanted to be "In the loop" of the business or department's goings on.

Being the shy type of person, I didn't find my way into his office often, but I watched people go in and out all day long. Sometimes I knew it was business and sometimes it was obvious that it was another rundown of last night's The Office episode. I was a bit jealous at first. I guess I had hoped that I had the guts to stop working for 30 minutes and chat with my boss, like other people seemed comfortable doing, but somehow it always felt...weird.

As time passed and I moved my way up the corporate ladder I felt more at home in a manager's office because I became one myself. No longer a complete subordinate but more of an equal I felt comfortable and pleased to be in the loop, it's a place many people naturally enjoy being being. There's a sense of power that comes with greater knowledge, and whether that power is real or perceived is unimportant. One begins to feel important, special, and sometimes believes him/herself to be a better person for being so knowledgeable. I can't explain it all, remember I'm not a trained professional, but that's how it feels to me.

In the WoW Loop
It's hard to stay in the loop when it comes to gaming. I wonder at how people who play many, many games stay in the loop of all the new things for every game they play? I can barely keep on top of the information about one game.

Now there are quite a few people who purposely remove themselves from all the Cataclysm news, and that choice is theirs and I will not begin to throw any criticism their way. There are the other side who tracks changes daily, even intra-day changes and blue posts. Some take it on themselves as a sort of job to keep the masses informed, and others are still part of the masses informing themselves on a regular basis. I know, I was one of those people for a long time.

Recently I've backed off, although I admit that I probably wouldn't if I hadn't lost my job, I would have been able to maintain a routine that I had to inform myself. I must admit that it's weird now feel like I'm not invited into the office anymore. Or rather, I know I'm invited, but my schedule changes in life are so different that one thing has led to another which has led to me falling out of the loop.

Only last night I was watching an intelligent conversation in trade chat about the new battleground changes. I had no idea what they were talking about. It was strange, I felt like, well, a noob again. Blind, stumbling from zone to zone only to find out that I just got walloped by a level 40 dinosaur...oops! I read other blogs still here and there, but that routine is changed for the time being as well. It's maddening, mainly because I enjoyed feeling special, important, knowledgeable. Now I feel like the guy who's not told anything at the office because I'm the one that is going to be laid off. Weird how that's how it always feels when you're about to be laid off or fired. People stop talking to you, you are kept out of the loop.

The difference here, of course, is that my removal from the loop is partially self-imposed. But it feels odd, and leaves me feeling strangely naked as well. Vulnerable. So many things happening to this or that class, to BG's, LDF tool, balance, achievements, strategy, whatever, I just don't know as much and now don't feel like I have any power or influence. True, that power and influence was only perceived and wasn't real to begin with, but the higher people get in the loop the more powerful or influential they feel, whether it's real or not.

The future is hazy, unsure. To what level of being in the loop will I ever reach again I do not yet know. But like a Blood Elf's thirst for magic, I still thirst for information and am beginning to feel the withdrawl symptoms. The question I need to ask myself is 'is it worth it? to be in the loop again?' Does it make me better at what I do? A better player? Perhaps. Knowledge usually doesn't hurt, unless it's the kind of knowledge that shatters your reality, but that sort of thing doesn't happen as much as the opposite. Most of the time knowledge does you good and not harm.

Well whatever happens, it sure can be fun to be in the loop, so if you're there right now I say ENJOY IT WHILE YOU GOT IT! Because circumstances may change and you may find thinking yourself a noob as well.

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Capital City Challenge

I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO happy that Dalaran will no longer be the hub and capital city of all level cap toons. No longer will we be able to hearth and port our way around the globe. Yes, it's convenient, but I'm glad it will be gone.

So am I to expect Stormwind or Ironforge to become my new capital city? Hardly. I have a better idea. I vote to create a new capital city, Las Vegas!

Let me explain what I'd like to do today, then I'll be the first to participate. I'd like to call anyone willing to comment to propose why they think that their RL home city should be the next new capital city in WoW. Set aside all the immersion crap for a moment and indulge in this little fantasy game. It can be one, two, ten or one hundred reasons, but for the sake of fun and fun alone, I would like to hear from anyone willing to make a case for the city they live in. As I live in Las Vegas, I'll make a case for Sin City. You may follow with arguments for your own home town.

So, without further ado:

Las Vegas in Azeroth
First of all, I would like to clear up a rumor that seems to easily spread around the world about Las Vegas - which, in case you cared is part of Clark County, Nevada. Prostitution is NOT allowed in Clark County, it is not legal in Vegas consequently, and anyone who says otherwise is a liar and a traitor to Mother, just kidding on the traitor thing. I'm not saying it doesn't happen in Vegas, but it is illegal, period!

That out of the way, I believe that Las Vegas would be a great Azeroth city because the strength of this great city is in the ability to plan, host, and effectuate events. Vegas is an EVENT city. Nobody is better anywhere at putting on a one night show. If you're looking for a guild event to help bring people together, Las Vegas is the place to go. Back in the 70's, 80's and 90's, when boxing was still strong, nobody put on a more exicting, well run, boxing event than Vegas. Entertainers from around the world have found homes here in Sin City and put on some of the greatest shows that can be found anywhere.

You want a convention? Great! Come to Vegas. Quite honestly I think Blizzcon should be in Vegas. It could be bigger, better, more poeople could come here and it would turn into the biggest party anyone has ever seen. Sorry for the tangent, I'll get back to my Azeroth arguments.

Another strength of Vegas are its people and the service they provide. If ever there was a city founded on a Service Economy, Las Vegas is it. It's our job to welcome people and make sure they have a great time. Sure, it's also our job to take your money and use it fund our state budget and allow us to never pay state income tax, but you like it so it's a win-win for everyone involved. But it's more than just money, the service workers of Vegas work their tails off (ex-draenei and all) to make your visit as welcoming as possible. We know we can entertain, and any efforts made to get you into our shows is done out of a confidence, a knowledget that our service will cause you to have fun!

If you're not into big events or pampered services, there are still others strengths of the Las Vegas Community. It is, unknown to many outsiders, a friendly and family-oriented community outside of the brigt lights and fancy cars. The parks, movies, restaurants, music, theater, and community centers allow people to settle down and isolate themselves, if they wish, from the powers of The Strip that bind some people, er, that serve our wonderful visitors. Granted, the schools aren't great, but more reason for guilds/families to help teach each other or use outside resources to gain the knowledge needed to achieve goals.

If you want to be a part of a guild that doesn't act like a corporation, but a family, Las Vegas is the capital city you want to go to. Yes, you'll find entertainers, the best events, tremendous service, but you'll also find the most down-home, level-headed guilds/families anywhere in the world. Part of this, I believe, is that Vegas has attracted the best people from all around the globe. If you are looking to server or faction change, Vegas is the melting pot you will want to jump into. It's the place so many others have gone and have found a HOME there. Las Vegas could serve as the place to connect. Combine the power of networking with the service of the residents, Las Vegas could become the most populated capital city in Azeroth within weeks, if not days.

Organization, entertainment, service, community - these are the strengths of Las Vegas and are attributes that would make it the biggest and best new capital city in Azeroth for all to enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Great Deal

My life is Fruit Punch, a tasty blend of this and that when mixed together create a smooth, refreshing blend of all kinds of stuff. I'm still unemployed, and that sucks, but life and games move on ever so. I have another toon at 80, hooray, and even though there's not much time till Cata I'm having fun with him.

Even my son has an 80 toon, which he loves to PvP with. But just last night he shared a desire to make some gold and level his professions more before the expansion but he doesn't exactly have the time to do it. So, how to solve this?

He as desires, and I need help too. So, I made a deal with my kid. I will farm with his toon and run one heroic per day, in return he will use his strong arms and legs to massage my back and neck for 5 minutes every night. For those of you new to my blog, I have a bad back injury, and have had it now for more than two and a half years. My muscles get tight as a result of the damage in my spine, and working out the knots is good for my health.

So, he agreed. Now he gets something that he wants, and I get something that I really need help with daily. To be fair to my kid, he often offers to scratch my arms or rub my neck, but that only once a week, if that. This is a mutually beneficial trade for the next month, something I believe will truly work out well for the two of us.

Of all you people out there, some are single and some are not. I don't believe that any have made deals like I made with my son, but I suppose it's possible. But what other deals have you made? Do you offer to clean the kitchen and take out the garbage if your "special someone" allows you to raid for three hours on Thursday night instead of two? Do you trade days of the week for time spent? Do you pay people in your family to leave you alone? I don't know, there are infinite possibilities I suppose, but I wonder what sorts of deals that other people make? And how far do those deals cross over into real life?

Deal making is a tricky business sometimes, I've tried to make deals with my family before and some didn't really turn out to be successful ones. But I think this latest deal is a great one, and I look forward to nightly knots being undone in my back, while he looks forward to a chest of gold and high level professions!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Is relative. Seriously, it is. Time is actually affected by gravity (among other things) thus making it relative. But standing on planet earth time basically passes at the same rate for all of us.

Too much time. Not enough time. I'm bored, the day is going by slowly. Wow, this is fun, the day is flying by. I have HOW LONG before Cataclysm? That's not enough time. There is still a month to go, that's plenty of time. And on and on it goes, each of us feels time pass differently, even though the actual passing of time ON planet earth remains constant. For each there are factors that push us in one direction or another.

My Shaman and Priest have been at level 80 for over a year now, a year and a half or more with my Shaman. It's been 6-8 months for my DK, I can't remember exactly. For those toons, who I only use to earn gold and farm for BoA gear now, time is passing too slowly. I want, I need a change for these toons or both they and I will go absolutely crazy. But for Gronthe, my lovable Lock, who just turned 80 less than a week ago, time is passing by too quickly.

I feel sorry for those that have worked to hit level cap just before an expansion. It's a time of disquiet, not completely sure what to do or how fast to do it. Does someone just turning 80 before Cata try and earn as much of that fansy-schmancy gear that everyone else has been running around in for 9+ months? Or do these folk just wait to accept the gear they will earn via quests in the new 80-85 zones?

It's a tricky question, really, but perhaps not for all. Still, it's a decision that Gronthe and I am sure many, many others are dealing with right now. People still run plenty of heroics and weekly raids and there are still call-outs for fresh ICC groups, etc. Yes, people are still playing, moving on with daily life in-game as if no expansion is on its doorstep. And that's ok, I think. There is only so much someone can do to prepare for a new expansion. As this is my first time I'm not sure if there are standard protocols or traditions, but I've been doing those things that I feel are important. I know that getting my professions leveled as high as possible will be a good thing, I don't want to get too far behind.

But when it comes down to it, people who have a very recent max level toon needs to decide what is and what isn't worth their time. I don't think there is a right or wrong, it's all relative. For me, it's nice to earn a few emblem/JP items, but I'm not too worried. I will not buy ANY epic gear off the AH, just a few ilvl200 blues for cheap and nothing more. I'm playing the game casually, letting things happen because they will happen.

Time, it's a funny thing. It feels different for everyone, yet we know for a fact that there are only so many days before Cataclysm, and those days become fewer and fewer at the setting of each daily sun. Normally I'm not a big fan of relativism, I tend to generally think it's a sneaky way for people to justify stupid things, but in this case however you feel about the impending expansion and how it affects your currently gameplay, truly is relative.

May you do what you want, and not worry about the future too much, it'll happen naturally enough; it's not like we can stop it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Response to Responses

First of all, to all those who posted a comment on my How do Introverts Find Guilds? post yesterday, (thanks to, thank you. I published all comments this morning when I woke up (Pacific Time, USA). I have a few things to say in general to all of you.

#1) Lol, I don't have a clear understanding of the exact differences between introversim (is that even a word? you know what I mean, so I move on), social anxiety and shyness. That's ok, I hope you all understood the purpose even though I get the specific psychological terms mixed up. Thank you for not making fun of me and my ignorance.

#2) What I found funny is that for me, who is someone with social anxiety, I became extremely nervous when I saw that WoWInsider and linked to another article of mine. They did it once before and I was happy. They have now done it twice and it made me scared to think that people out there were actually reading MY words. I became scared and thought about deleting the post because I wasn't sure I was comfortable with so many strangers taking a glance at my thoughts. It's funny, right, that someone who blogs is nervous about others reading their blog? Well, that's how I felt.

#3) I was overwhelmed by the number and tone of responses I got. Wow, it's amazing how many people share similar trials, it makes me wonder how many more out there are a bit anxious about trying to meet new people in the virutal community, even when we know that we'll never see these people face to face. It brought a smile to my face to see such comments from every one of you. Thank you for your visit, I am honored, albeit still a bit nervous.

That's all for now. Have a wonderful day, and may your gaming be fun!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Vote for Your Spells

It's election day in the USA, proof that I rhyme when I've got the time. That said, I'm not dead, and to the voting booth I go to tell those politicians what I know.

A New Decision Making Paradigm
Imagine a game developing world where the players were given the right to vote on the different spells and talents that their favorite toon has. Wouldn't all Warriors want an attack that could one-shot all raid bosses and feel justified in receiving such a spell? Of course they would, Warriors are arrogant elitists, every single one of them, right? Alright, they are not all like that, but no doubt if Warriors or anyone else had a say in what spells they had every toon would be running around with 100 action bars with 12 spells on each totaling 1,200 spells/abilities/talents.

But if the voting process was highly regulated, like sports betting is in Las Vegas, could there be an instance where player voting could directly determine gameplay in a way that was beneficial? Let's assume that we're all Mages. In my limited experience in Magedom I recall that I got the Blizzard spell fairly early on, around level 20 or thereabouts. Now, Blizzard isn't available to Mages until level 52 (I think). What if this went up for a vote? When would a Mage want Blizzard?

The logical answer is I WANT EVERYTHING AT LEVEL 1. And if not logical then at least predictable. So let's add constraints to the voting equation. You may learn Blizzard at 20, but you will have to give up another damage spell until level 40, which are you willing to give up? Frost Bolt or Fire Bolt? Of course this is just an example, but if you give someone the option of gaining a spell at 20 or 30, I believe 100% will want it at 20. So, you make the voter make compromises, or choose to leave things how the developers want to reshape them. This may or may not work, I don't know exactly, it's just a thought.

Same principle applies to talents. 'At what level do you want Living Bomb'? Well, uh, let me think...LEVEL 1, duh! No, for talents we'll keep certain restrictions that devs place on them, but the option could be that a talent can be moved up higher in the talent tree only if it's accompanied by a nerf to the spell. The vote is yours, and if you choose to move the talent you must accept the consequences.

Interestingly this would create imbalances, and those would be the fault of the player. Despite that, however, players would still find ways to blame the devs for creating a system that gave them, the player, the right to make direct changes via their voting systems, thus the fault still lies with the devs for allowing stupid people to create the game instead of smarter people that it's fun to disagree with.

Voting in changes to spells and talents would be similar to real life voting. With everyone given the chance to vote, people both informed and ignorant, we accept a system that has consequences both good and bad. Then again, some of those consequences are relative, and I'm sure it would act the same in a game. Some people would like the changes, others would hate them. But all would have to accept them to a degree because the system would allow direct player input into the decisions.

How it is now can be useful. Smart people give quality feedback and the devs to their best with it. WoW, just as in RL politics, will always have proponents and opponents, people who like the resulting changes and others who hate them and call for all kinds of changes. I for one am glad I don't have a vote in direct spell or talent changes. But the reason isn't what you think it is. I'm glad because if we, the players, did have a say, I would be angry with some idiot who was able to get enough people fired up over something stupid and influenced them to vote in a direction that I would disagree with. But then that's sorta how I feel about real life voting. I'm glad everyone has the right in my country (over 18 years of age), but I wish that a few of those would just stay home. Not because I disagree with them, but because they are too stupid to know even the names of the people running for office. How I would hate it if trolls had a say in my talent tree.

The system may not be perfect, in life or WoW, but both serve their respective populations well. In WoW it's better to keep the players involved but not given direct control. In RL it's good to give everyone a voice, no matter how stupid or uninformed they are. You see, in a game it does not matter if there is a Big Brother, because that super power is not bent on destroying my will to choose. The devs really are trying to make a good game, whether we think it's good is another quesiton. They try because they love to make games, it's what they do. In life, if my voice was taken away and Big Brother established, making ALL my choices for me, my life would have little variety, no creativity and even less meaning. Both systems work well...well enough.

I vote to have no vote in the games I play! Give me a voice, but don't make it binding.

Political (Tangent)
Youngin' people 18-25 will only vote at a 30% clip this election season...if we're lucky. Young people just don't care, coupled with the fact that they don't know as much as they think they do. Oh, don't look at me that way, but the reality is that the longer you live two things can happen: 1) Biases become more biased, you become entrenched in traditions for the sake of tradition, or 2) Experience shows you the differences between rehtoric and reality. From that position we base our decisions and we vote accordingly. So even though young people are free to fight for what they believe, often they lack perspective of those who have actually lived through more years. That's what I think and I'm sticking to it.

Monday, November 1, 2010

In Flux - Interaction between life and games

It's annoying, really, how real life can get in the way of a good game. My oldest son makes me aware of this often when I ask him to take out the trash while he's on the XBox. 'C'mon dad, I'm almost done, just give me a few more minutes.' Yep, life gets in the way of his enjoyment big time!

I want to immerse myself, or at the very least take some time out of my life to enjoy some good stories or a fun quest or getting Gronthe to 80 (I'm so close, 79 and more than half way there). But life doesn't always let you finish, sometimes life wants you to take out the trash and it means NOW!!!

I don't apologize for not writing for over a week. I mean, who am I offending? My readership is small, but THE BEST IN THE WORLD, yet I feel as if I've been caged, hutched and desperate, unable to express myself in the most free way that I've found yet.

We live, we play, we love, we cry, our pulses race and our emotions are stirred. I've worked with people I viewed as cold-hearted, persons who believed that work was the only life worth living. I personally felt pity for them as I did not share that same sentiment. I've always believed that good leisure time was a good life spent. To take those precious minutes or longer each day to rest the mind and the heart, to escape the troubles of life and the pressures of work is a gift to oneself that should not be denied. But still some denied themselves time with...themselves. And done in the name and for the sake of money, power, prestiege, and show.

In times and seasons of change, where an old world is coming to an end and the ravaged world of Deathwing is upon our doorsteps, life interrupts the liesure and gaming of the strongest and the weakest of us. For some life has more to say, for others its existence is evidenced occaisionally while the "me time" that one enjoys is of longer duration than another. So now priorities must be examined and a plan of action followed. How boring, right? Yet life won't accept you if you take "just a few more minutes", it needs to be attended to, and it needs it right NOW!!!

I don't hide the workings of my personal life, for if I've said it once I've said it again, and is the basis for this blog, that me and my toon are one. When one experiences grief, so does the other. When my raids failed, my life was affected (or so my wife complained often). When life failed, it affected those that I created and played with over hundreds of levels.

Life, games, it's all connected to me. Why? Because real people play games. People with blood flowing through their veins and electric signals being passed along the corridors of the brain. These people, you and me, we control our toons, and our toons influence us. Or the world our toons live in influence us, and can change habits that we develop in real life. So it is that we're always connected, and I'll never stop talking about my real life here. It's who I am, and what I do, and nobody will stop me. You can stop reading, that would suck, but I'll continue to write.

That said, I'm in a season of change. I'm recently unemployed in one of the worst job markets in the US of A. I'm handicap with a disability that is only getting worse. I'm a shell of my former poetential self, and don't know where or how I will keep a roof over my wife and kid's heads two months from now. Forget Christmas, I've already told my kids it ain't happening this year. But the amazing thing is this, and listen closely, I still try to make time to sit down with my eight year old boy and play some wow when I can. Why? Because it's him...and something we both love, and we laugh and sing and dance and cry together and love it.

Ladies and gentelmen, don't ever think that the interruptions of life need to stop you from taking some leisure time with yourself, and if you have some, with your kids. Mental health is important, and money isn't the only thing in this world that lifts us up out of slums. Love, family, friends, and even the companionship of friendly guildies that you probably have never seen can make your life better, even when life not only interrupts your life but throws a screw ball at your head (baseball reference, Congrats to the SF Giants for winning the World Series). In my case, my employer, after knowing that I just picked up my wife after a week in a hospital and hours from potential death, sent me packing with little pity in their eyes and fat wallets in their pockets. Curse them!

But bless you, dear readers! I am not gone, I'm just interrupted by life and have to take out the trash. I'm around and will continue to bring you music (yes, I rememered, but as I've said life is sucking right now and demanding much more time of me than anticipated, but I WILL NOT back out on my promise to deliver a really bad musical song). I will continue to offer opinions, share stories, report fake news, and ponder endlessly about the connection between us and the games we play. Until next time, adieu!