Lots to say but no motivation to say it

I’m still having fun in WoW. In fact that’s probably a big reason why I haven’t been posting much, when I have free time I mostly want to be playing instead of writing. My shaman has gotten to 85 and done quite a few heroics and is actually pretty well geared now for healing with a few epics and 346 gear in all the other slots. The new instances are still fun, but I haven’t been able to do heroics as much as I’d have liked due to play time constraints at night. Especially as the healer, its not too nice to have to suddenly go afk due to baby aggro.

There’s a lot of stuff that I’ve been meaning to post about, from a review of some of the new zones and instances to some of the interesting experiences running heroics and such. But after a while I start thinking that it’s not any much different from what a lot of other people write about, and they write much better than me so… Besides, I think I’ve written enough grumpy WoW rants in the past.

So instead I will show a picture of my alt hunter, innocently standing in Stonetalon trying to figure out what to do for a quest, when suddenly…

What just happened?

Yeah Deathwing attacked and I got the “Stood in the fire” achievement (not that I actually even saw the fire, I just collapsed dead on the ground). Not only that he wiped out the entire horde base as well, which doesn’t really make much sense since they just appear again after a couple of moments. Hilariously though the only survivor was that little level 1 girl Clarissa who I have targeted in the screenshot.

Deathwing’s flames were also so powerful that they bugged me out and I couldn’t resurrect, not even after reloading the interface. I had to relog to get to the spirit healer.

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New WoW gets thumbs up… for now

Well it’s been quite a long while since my last post. It’s been hard to find time to write something since I’ve been busy at work on a bunch of stuff. And at night, if I’m not taking care of our son (who has been sick for quite a while, the poor bear) I’m busy having fun in WoW.

Thankfully I have no regrets on resubscribing and I’m loving Cataclysm so far. Since starting on Christmas day last year, my goblin shaman has hit 84 and has just a few bars to go to 85. That sounds like I leveled pretty fast, and according to the in-game time played its just under 8 days. In fact I spent a large amount of time afk idling in game as well during times when I get called off to attend to a bawling little carebear, so I suspect the actual time spent would be about a week to go from 1-85. That’s a testament to how fast and easy levelling is now, especially with the dungeon finder.

New old stuff

In fact, just as many have said it’s almost too fast. I love doing the new revamped zones, but I also love the opportunity to run all the old dungeons that I never got to do in classic because it was such a pain putting a group together. Me and my wife used to run each other’s characters through some of them once we had high level characters, but it’s not as much fun as doing it at the level it’s meant to be done at. However, doing all the dungeons made me very quickly outlevel every zone I was questing in. 95% of the time I never managed to see the later half of each zone before the quests became grey. Personally I would have continued on finishing up the grey quests, but my wife was playing my shaman as well before she started work again and she’s the type who just tosses quests as soon as a next zone becomes available (not a completionist like me…). So I levelled though half of Azshara, half of Ashenvale, half of Stonetalon, half of Un’goro, half of Blasted Lands… you get the drift. The new quests are a blast, especially in the zones that received complete revamps like Azshara and Thousand Needles. Instances were fast, with the longest ones like Maraudon and Scarlet Monastery all split up into wings, and quest-givers are conveniently located at the start. No more running all over the world to pick up 4 quests! The goodie bag for doing a random also gives good blue gear for quite a few slots such as neck and rings that are otherwise normally hard to get. Plus there are in-game maps now for the dungeons, with bosses conveniently labelled. Man that’s so much better… Wilhelm from the Ancient Gaming Noob talks about needing 3 hours to do Wailing Caverns in the past, which isn’t an exaggeration since it was so easy to get lost in that darned place. Now it only took me 45 minutes!

Overall 1-60 went by like lightning, so much so that I really want to roll alts to see all the stuff I missed. I hardly even stepped foot on to the Eastern Kingdoms before I was heading through the Dark Portal… again.

Time warp to Outlands

A lot of people have said that there is such a strange disconnect between the Shattering and Burning Crusade. It’s really like going back in time, because everything in Outlands is supposed to be in the past from levels 1-60. Oh well, even if it doesn’t make sense I’m perfectly happy to kill 20 fel orcs for nice clown gear that has double the stats of my old Azeroth gear. Plus now that you can train flying at 60 (with a buff to normal flying speed from 60% to 150%), the quests in Outlands are really a breeze. They were obviously not designed with flying players in mind. Case in point, the quest in Nagrand which requires you to bounce on a trampoline on to a big bird nest to smash a giant egg. Previously I used to use the “epic mount with carrot on a stick” trick to jump onto the nest, since it was really tricky to time the trampoline correctly. Now you just summon flying mount and fly up there… Trampoline? What trampoline?

The quests in Outlands are unchanged, and unfortunately so are the dungeons. This means you have to do the prequests and pick them up from the usual NPCs outside the instances… boohoohoo no more bevy of questgivers awaiting the rabid click-fest at the entrance. This meant that I wasn’t particularly encouraged to do that many instances, especially since we had played a lot during BC and therefore were very very familiar with them. So I mainly quested through Hellfire Peninsula, parts of Zangarmarsh until 65, then headed to my favourite Nagrand where I hit 68. Sadly Outlands has been reduced to 3 zones, since there’s no reason to grind any of the old factions or try to get any gear once Northrend becomes available. I had never played Horde past 60 before, so I was looking forward to some unique quests but sadly they didn’t seem any much different from the Alliance versions.

Snowing again

Once I reached 68, it was time to train cold weather flying and head to Northrend. Again, flying really makes things a breeze, especially with the fact that you can mount up in water. Makes the shaman water walking spell almost redundant actually, unless you really want to fish in the middle of the ocean or something. The Horde quests in Northrend are actually quite different, so it was kind of refreshing and I mostly quested all the way with a few instances done here and there since once again you have to do all the pre-quests first before the instance quests become available. The Outlands clown suit thankfully was replaced pretty quickly with Northrend stuff. At this point I dropped mining for alchemy since I wanted the alchemy trinket for healing at 85 and figured it was a good time to start training up. Plus alchemy should be a decent money maker too, better than flying around mining at least.

I went from Borean Tundra to Dragonblight, some Grizzly Hills, Sholazar Basin and then finally on to Icecrown where I hit 80. Also finally saw a few Alliance players, which were like an extinct breed up till now since Thaurissan is heavily Horde dominated. Even though it is a PvP server, it plays almost exactly like a PvE server. I encountered a gnome DK at a quest giver at Icecrown, but just spent a few moments staring at each other before going our way. I later met him again fighting an elite mob as part of the same quest I was on, and killed him while the mob was on him. I got quest credit for the mob kill too… but I felt kinda bad about it later since he hadn’t done anything to me. I don’t know why but being on a PvP server initially made me crazily try to kill every Alliance I saw for no reason but now I’m much more inclined to just leave them alone.

After hitting 80, I was initially tempted to try to do the new ICC instances which I had never done before such as Halls of Origination and Halls of Reflection. Unfortunately I wasn’t allowed to because my gear level was too low, plus I needed to do some quest to unlock the instances. So too bad, it was off to Cataclysm!

New shinies

I started in Vashj’ir, after first doing some frantic googling to find out how the hell to actually get there. I really enjoyed the whole zone, not sure how much of it was due to it being totally new. But all the quests flow nicely together and tell a nice story, plus the seahorse mount is so cute. The zone design is amazing and makes me think of Nemo or One Piece, especially all the random sea monsters swimming around like a giant boss whale shark that blots out the sun and some huge elite shark boss too. I wonder if they drop any loot…

Since it’s a new zone my wife was pretty keen to play too, so I think she actually did most of the quests. I felt a bit lost sometimes when logging in because I would be in a totally different place, but that’s ok I’m sure I’ll get to do the quests with one of my numerous alts. The gear is amazing, especially considering I went in with lousy Northrend greens. It was pretty hard to kill mobs initially and I had to heal myself like 3 or 4 times just to kill a single crab, but after getting a few gear upgrades which had like triple the stats of what I was wearing my shaman started WINDFURYing things to death in 2 seconds again. I mean really… some mace dropped with 871 spellpower on it wtf. I think my previous caster mace from Northrend had 303 spellpower… I guess most people were decked out in the free epics from facerolling the later half of WotLK and probably wouldn’t have been as impressed but I still feel shocked seeing gear with like 400 stamina on it. Can’t help but recall the times when I was raiding Molten Core and people would drool all over the Azuresong Magebladewhich had… gasp! 50 spellpower!!!! Funny how the game has changed…

The end of the quest line leads to the new Throne of the Tides instance. I tried it out as DPS first, since I hadn’t done any healing till now and didn’t want to go into an instance totally unfamiliar with my bars and spells. On that topic, respeccing seems to have changed a lot now. I was expecting the usual 10 silver cost to respec for the first time from my elemental dual-spec to resto, but it cost 29 gold instead… seems to be related to how many talent points have already been spent. Not only that, but the dust to change glyphs cost 10 gold per glyph change for characters above 80! Ouch… Anyway, back to Throne of the Tides. Was quite an interesting instance and not too long. A bit confusing since I had no idea what was going on, but that’s why I went in as DPS. Spam buttons and piakpiakpiak!!! The boss fights are quite interesting and much better than the Wrath-style fights which all boil down to “hit boss, move out of bad stuff kill, adds when they come”. I especially liked the squid-headsucker boss, he reminded me of a Justice League episode I had randomly watched about Starro the facehugger starfish. I’m sure someone at Blizzard must have watched that too, the similarities are uncanny. Anyway a dps shaman makes Starro cry, since his Lava Bursts instantly got interrupted and his Absorb Magic buff gets immediately purged. Ahh I love my shaman…

After finishing Vashj’ir, I went to Hyjal even though it was the same level as Vashj’ir. I need to get Hyjal rep eventually anyway, so might as well. I think the Blackrock Caverns instance is unlocked here, but I never managed to run it (although my wife did) and now I can’t go back using the dungeon finder since I’m too high level. Hyjal quests were fun but nothing really much to say about them, although I did like the final battle against Ragnaros. Seems strange to fight him until he retreats and Cenarius says “We can only defeat him in his own elemental plane” when I very obviously killed Ragnaros dozens of times in Molten Core 🙂 It’s not like he retreats there either, I mean he obviously drops down dead in front of the raid and gives you his hand.

Now I’m 84 and questing in Deepholm. I’ve since also done Stonecore and Vortex Pinnacle as resto. Stonecore isn’t very enjoyable to heal and feels very long, even on normal. Plus I once had to heal a 4 melee group in back-to-back runs. Talk about ouch… Vortex Pinnacle is much easier to heal although the bosses are a bit more boring since they are almost tank and spank. I can’t access the other dungeons yet because I haven’t discovered the entrance yet, so I’m going to be holding off on instancing for a while until I hit 85 and unlock the other dungeons. After 85 I still intend to go through Uldum and Twilight Highlands, not to mention Tol Barad and the new BGs.

So far there’s still tons of content left for me to enjoy, so I’m looking forward to seeing lots of new stuff. Even though I haven’t done any heroics yet, I really hope Blizzard doesn’t listen to all the whiners out there and revert back to Wrath-style stupidly easy dungeons. I love the new instances so far, especially when done with proper CC and nice pulling. During my first Stonecore run, some idiot rogue started chafing that the tank was too slow and pulled the first pack by himself (“gogogo!”) while the tank was marking the kill order. I was still setting up my bars when suddenly the whole group started taking massive damage. The next 5 minutes were filled with me spamming my buttons like a blind monkey trying to find the “open” button in front of a peanut dispensing machine. Greater Healing Wave! No wait that’s too slow, Riptide! What’s this Unleash Elements thing, mash it mash it! Oh wait I don’t have earthliving weapon on… I’m running out of mana?!? Doh water shield fell off… chain heal! Bugger that only 1 guy in range??? Mummy!

Somehow we got through that without anyone dying and after being berated by the tank for pulling, the idiot rogue initiated a vote kick against the tank for being “too slow”. Well guess what, he gets 1 strike for being a rogue (therefore useless by definition). 2nd strike for being from Jubei’thos, and I hate the name Jubei (there was an annoying griefer in Duris who went by that name). This was the 3rd strike since I like tanks who mark kill orders instead of charging in like stupid Wrath babies. So I rejected his vote kick and vote kicked the rogue instead for being annoying. Guess I wasn’t alone in my sentiments since he instantly got booted and no one was surprised when a replacement DPS got in immediately. Kek I like this kick feature.

Hopefully the tougher instances will actually teach players how to play properly, or at least encourage the stupider portion of the player-base to quit. That would instantly raise the quality of WoW drastically and make Cataclysm a resounding success in my opinion.

New year, new(ish) start

Well that was an extended holiday. After spending a week at my in-laws place, I then managed to skip work and stay at home for the next two weeks due to Christmas and end of year holidays. So what was I doing?

Mean and green

Yeah I’ve been bitten by the WoW bug again and resubscribed for Cataclysm, despite all my earlier attempts to convince myself not to. I had started getting the urge to resubscribe before going on my trip, but decided to hold off until after to make the decision. No point paying Blizzard for 1 week when I’m not going to have internet access. But I discovered that I could make a trial account and play through the starter areas for free for 10 days, which is a pretty good deal since the revamped starter areas and lowbie zones in Azeroth were one of the big features in the expansion. No Burning Crusade or Cataclysm races though, just the plain old classic characters. Of course first I had to go through a few days of IT hell trying to get Blizzard’s new streaming client to work, but eventually discovered that the problem was due to my still using Windows XP Service Pack 2 instead of the 3. After upgrading, everything was good to go and some other applications that weren’t working before are now ok too, which was an added bonus. So after getting everything set up, I puttered around with a gnome warlock and human hunter for a few days to see if I still enjoyed WoW enough to resubscribe.

Turns out I did. The new starting areas are a blast, and the quests are hilarious. I am convinced that the main target of this expansion is not new players, but actually ex-WoW players. There must have been a very sizable number of people that cancelled their accounts in Wrath of the Lich King, judging by the feedback from developers about how they tried to improve Cataclysm. The various changes in the lowbie areas would make much more sense to returning players who would know what it was like before the Shattering. I think a really new player would be quite puzzled at being told by the quest giver that “this area that used to have lots of trolls has now been taken over by troggs, which were forced out of their underground lairs by Deathwing!” To them it would be like… “um ok so this place has troggs… that was a lot of extra information that meant nothing…”

I was also particularly tickled by one quest in Dun Morogh in which you have to protect a ram farm from being raided… and the rewards were a bunch of white gear called Robes of the Endless Raider and Boots of the Nightly Raid 🙂 Really reminded me of my old raiding days haha, and again something that would be totally lost on a real new player.

Anyways after finding myself enjoying the trial, I was kinda still twibbling about it until my wife told me to just go resubscribe 😛 The monthly sub isn’t a big deal since she was going back to work, and I think she was getting tired of me wuffling around and would rather me just be happy. She’s such a sweetie when it comes to me. So with the permission of the Chief Financial Officer, I paid for the Cataclysm digital download and resubscribed for 1 month since I wasn’t that sure how long I was going to play. With the current low USD exchange rate, it’s not that much although I later found that I could buy the box version cheaper. So that was my Christmas present of sorts.

Since I had decided to start afresh on a new server, we picked Thaurissian since one of our friends was playing there and he said there were a ton of Singaporeans on the Horde side. Fits all my criteria, since I wanted to play Horde having never gotten past 60 with a Horde character, and I wanted to try a PvP server just to see how it was. Turns out that the Alliance side on Thaurissian has been thoroughly beaten into submission though, the server is just totally Horde dominated and to date I think I’ve only ever seen 2 Alliance players so there wasn’t even much PvP.

The economy on Thaurissian is totally insane though, or maybe I’m just not used to the gold inflation that has been going on since I stopped. Thaurissian is also one of the older Oceanic servers, so maybe there’s a lot of excess gold floating around. A single goldthorn herb can sell for 20 gold, and simple peacebloom and silverleaf sell for about 70 silver per herb. Prices fluctuate insanely, with stuff selling for 1 gold in the morning that can be resold for 5 gold in the evening. This is really surprising since the server population is high, and all the players are concentrated on the Horde side. I’d have thought that money-minded Singaporeans would dominate the economy, but it turns out that all the usual money making tricks still work and there’s plenty of room for arbitrage. My wife has taken over the trading activities again and in the short span of one week has gone from 0 to 3750 gold. Ok fine many people make thousands of gold per day, but we’re starting out with absolutely nothing here. At least we don’t have to worry about gold for training and mounts.

I say we because my wife has actually been playing just as much as me. I created a goblin shaman, to play through the goblin starter zone and because I love shamans. The plan is to eventually go resto with elemental dual spec, so I can concentrate on caster gear. But for levelling, enhancement still seems faster with no downtime so we are currently enhancement with elemental dual spec. I had thought that she was sick of WoW and hadn’t shown any inclination of wanting to play, but surprisingly she seems to be enjoying herself a lot levelling the shaman and running through instances with the new (to us) dungeon finder. Which has actually been a great surprise too, queue times as DPS are still quite fast and most of the instances have been great, if a bit rushed. Of course there were quite a few failures and assholes but it’s much less than I was expecting. It’d be perfect if she decided to resubscribe too, then we could play together on a few nights. She won’t be able to play as much once she starts working though, so I doubt Scrooge McDuck will be willing to spend the money on herself even though she’s happy to let me spend it, despite it actually being quite insignificant compared to the money we easily shell out for our son’s toys. In the meantime, with the holidays and both of us being at home, the shaman has made it to level 55 in a single week. Wow, seems pretty fast… flying mounts in 5 more levels!

Another of our friends has decided to resubscribe and start a goblin shaman on Thaurissian too, so I also made a new Tauren pally to play together and tank through instances. I’ve never played a prot pally before, so it’s something totally new to me. Guess it’s a good time to learn since I don’t have any preconceptions about the class and thus won’t be confused by the huge changes to paladins. The plan is to get to 15 and start doing random dungeons together, me being the tank, our original friend creating a goblin priest to heal and the goblin shaman will be one of the damage dealers. Hopefully I’ll be able to get some instance runs in at night without being too interrupted by our son, who at least seems to be sleeping a bit better now.

The lone cynic

There’s a ton of stuff I want to write about lately, but I find myself lacking the time to do it due to being busy either a) finishing up my PhD applications or b) procrastinating about finishing up my PhD applications by reading random stuff. Ok fine so maybe I just need to be better at time management or actually have some semblance of willpower.

One thing has struck me repeatedly though when reading through various WoW blogs recently. I hadn’t read them in a while, so there was a lot of catching up to do. And not surprisingly, the most talked about subject is of course the upcoming Cataclysm. I’ve read multiple posts lavishing praise on Blizzard for “being bold enough to radically alter a game this way” and they go on and on about how the new Azeroth is great and much better than how it used to be.

And I just picture myself standing in a room of excited people, going “Hello? Am I the only sane one here?”

First off, I am very excited about Cataclysm. Much more excited than I thought I’d be, so much so that I am actually very seriously contemplating resubbing to WoW (yeah yeah, together with the other 5 million ex-WoW players).

But come on, there is a reason why Azeroth was redesigned. THEY HAD TO DO IT. It is one giant bug-fix expansion. The expansion is not lore-driven; you can bet your mechanobikething that somewhere in Blizzard there was a meeting where some designers sat down and said “Ok we need to totally revamp the 1-60 content because it is totally broken and inconsistent with TBC and WoTLK, somebody come up with some plausible idea why Azeroth has to blow up and we’ll ask some guy in marketing to do the rest”.

They have said before that the reason why they couldn’t enable flying mounts, which were introduced in TBC and met with much joy and girlish squealing, to be used in the old world was simply that the old world was not designed that way and it would require a total revamp of the models and landscape. There were tons of weird stuff and hidden zones packed behind supposedly impassable mountains that would have been revealed to players. If you’ve ever coded any portion of a major project, you would probably have some inkling of the scope of change that would need to be done and the amount of error-testing, so it wasn’t something that they could just roll out after changing a few variables (like enableflying=true).

In addition to the flying, the entire questing design was 3 years out of date. There was a very jarring change whenever a character passed through the Dark Portal into Outlands at 58. You went from ridiculous quests that sent you all over the place for a completely useless reward (like plate legs with spirit) to quest hubs with 10+ quests at a go that sent you on a nice circuit around the zone, with lead-in quests to go to the next quest hub and useful reputations along the way. And the quest rewards suddenly became amazing even though they looked like a hobo suit. Dungeons in the old world had also become a complete joke due to all the changes to talents, so much so that most people could solo or duo them at level.

So basically, the expansion should rightly be thought of as “81-85 and an update for long-requested features”. The Shattering is not some omg awesome and original idea. It is a side effect of the necessity to completely redo the 1-60 experience (hence why Outland and Northrend is left untouched, even though it makes no sense story-wise). Since they had to do it, they might as well make some cosmetic changes here and there and market it as part of an expansion. It’s a great patch, and one I fully support and am quite excited about. Without it, I wouldn’t even be contemplating resubbing at all since the main attraction is to level a new bunch of characters on possibly a PvP server. But I don’t really see any risk or originality from Blizzard here, it’s like praising Nvidia for updating a bunch of 3 year old graphics drivers to conform to current standards. Actually I think even Blizzard tacitly agrees… which is why the Shattering is not exclusive to Cataclysm subscribers. It’s a bug fix for all players, not a feature of Cataclysm.

Are people so easily convinced by hype and marketing? Or am I just a grumpy curmudgeon who always sees the practical (i.e. real) motivations behind the spin? I guess people are just happy that their favourite game is changing (for the better) and there’s new stuff to see and explore.

Nostalgia

So I haven’t really been keeping track of WoW for a long while, short of casually reading a couple of blogs here and there.

Today I browsed over to Blessing of Kings which I kind of use as a link hub to a bunch of other blogs, and a glance at the plethora of new posts from other bloggers made me realise that today was the launch date of Cataclysm, the next WoW expansion.

It was kind of a bolt from the blue since I really wasn’t expecting it, aside from a vague impression that yes there was an expansion coming sometime soon. I hadn’t played WoW for over a year (not counting that time I got hacked and logged in to restore my items) but still I immediately felt a wave of nostalgia and a tiny voice inside my head went “hey remember all that fun you had… why don’t you check it out”.

The good old days

WoW still stands out as probably the game I played exclusively for the longest time (about 3 years?). During that time I hardly played anything else, so I was really monogamous (hur hur hur OK OK I promise I’ll stop). It was also my first MMO, scratch that my first online game of any sort other than MUDs. Even now my wife and I sometimes get reminded of something and we would go “remember when that happened haha”. It was really a great ride and I have no doubts that WoW itself remains a great game.

The reality

Unfortunately the human brain always looks at the past through rose-tinted glasses and after some deliberation I would probably get annoyed and quit WoW again after a few months if I resubscribed. The fundamental reasons why we quit are still there; namely, it’s a multiplayer game and most people are idiots.

You need a guild

I think one of the reasons why Wrath was a bit of a letdown for us was that we didn’t find a guild that was a good fit for us, and in WoW you really really need a guild. There are people who play solo but frankly there’s only so much you can do. Wrath made pugging a lot of things possible, but “possible” and “enjoyable” are two really different animals. If you only solo the only left to do at level cap is running 5-mans over and over again and signing up for nightmare trade pugs.

We left our old guild at the start of Wrath because of the guild drama at the end of TBC that made us quit in the first place, and tried to join a more casual Singaporean guild. However, it really wasn’t the right fit for us either because while my wife and I were trying to be casual in our playtime, we weren’t casual in our performance. The rest of the guild however…. I mean there was a pally rolling on a spirit trinket “for mana regen” and one of the warrior tanks took DPS talents over 5% dodge and other survival talents because he “needed threat”. I really wanted to be more laid back after the stress of being the warlock officer in TBC and dealing with all sorts of guild crap, but seeing stuff like that just makes me facepalm and get annoyed.

What made it worse in a sense is that Wrath was so easy. And when the game is ridiculously easy, you can succeed even while playing like utter morons. So poor players never learn and never improve, because they are never slapped in the face with the consequences of their afk-tv-raiding behaviour. Plus in a casual(social) guild everyone goes out of their way to be nice and friendly instead of actually addressing issues like… you know… don’t be an idiot and actually put in some effort.

So it would be difficult to find a guild that suits me, leaving 5-mans and PVP as the main end-game activity. This might not be so bad for me, since I’m a grade AAA altoholic and love leveling and gearing up new characters. As an aside, no you don’t “roll” characters or even worse “role” them. Sheesh. Although most people do seem to play by rolling their face on the keyboard so maybe it’s appropriate for them. I’ve never experienced the new dungeon-finder system so getting groups for 5-mans may not be the unholy time-waster it used to be… but then I also haven’t experienced the GearScore era and the legions of “gogogo” retards either. I don’t think joining group after group of incompetents is an ideal way to relax at night. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad but I really don’t know.

Cataclysm is harder, we promise!

Ghostcrawler, one of the better Community Managers that Blizzard has, put up a devblog on why they are making things harder for healers. The game being too easy was the reason I gave when I quit, and I guess I was not alone since one of the major points made about Cataclysm was that it’s not that easy anymore.

Tanks no longer have crazy AOE generating moves like bears being able to just spam swipe all day long. Pulls are supposed to require some form of crowd-control. Healers can’t just spam AOE heals while running along after the tank pulling the whole room.

Except I don’t think you can really put the elephant back in the cage once it has been out and rampaging around for the past year or so. I’m highly doubtful that the average Joe will be able to accept being shown that he is a sub-par player after being able to chain-run 15 minute heroics with his welfare badge epics for the entire previous expansion. Instead of one-shotting new bosses, will casual groups be able to take wiping on a single boss for more than a night (or even weeks like our Vashj + Kael’Thas kills)? I really don’t know how long it will be before there is a backlash from the average and sub-par player population, who after all pay the exact same $15 a month.

The price is not right

At the end of the day though, I would probably have no issues giving Cataclysm a spin with or without my wife if it did not require a subscription or a box price. With my current playtime of 1.5-2 hours a night, raiding would be a very difficult proposition and it just doesn’t make sense to pay a monthly subscription for a game where the best parts are not accessible to me. It’s not that the savings of $15 every month is keeping me above the poverty line, but I’m not getting equal value for my money with a fixed subscription. I might even be tempted to resubscribe for a couple of months, like I’m sure a lot of people do with each expansion, except that I have to pay the box price just for those few months which again doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Be strong

So I have to silence that little voice in my head. Maybe it would be fun. Probably it wouldn’t. But I will try to remind myself that fond memories of the good old days may be best if they are just left where they are. Great to visit once in a while, but maybe not something I want to go back to.

What’s your alignment

I love the latest edition of Dark Legacy Comics

I always thought of myself as Neutral Good in past RPGs. Or more like Lazy Good, in that I’m slightly predisposed towards being nice but most of the time can’t be bothered to do anything good or evil.

However, I think as I got older and more jaded, I think I’ve migrated over to Lawful Evil. I would totally use that picture of Krom as my avatar and all the officers in my old WoW guild would know it was me.

And my wife is most definitely Neutral Evil… without the naked part.

Tyrannis Noob Impressions

So the Tyrannis expansion has hit us after a very extended downtime. I wasn’t really expecting it to launch when it did so it was pure good fortune that I had a 4 day skill queued up. Need to keep a better eye on this in the future or I might lose out on some skill training time.

The big selling point of Tyrannis is actually planetary interaction (PI), where players can now actually use planets for something other than pretty screenshots. Although they are very pretty… ooh shiny…

Letrange has been putting up a great series of articles on PI and what it could possibly mean to industrialists. I’m not anywhere near his league yet, having only 1 BPO to my name and still doing Time Efficiency research on it, so I’m quite clueless when it comes to knowing what effect PI will have on the market. Based on past experiences of WoW expansions though, I agree fully with him that there will be an initial rush, which will quickly fade away. I don’t see PI as being a great moneymaker, probably will not even exceed mining as an income source. The upside is that it is passive, since you can place your extractors and just leave them and collect your goods some point in the future. Tech 2 Duct Tape has a video tutorial up by EVE Uni on how to get into PI, I have to say that even CCP’s newest expansion still has a learning curve that’s steeper than anything in WoW. Although they supposedly added a tutorial agent for PI, will have to check that out.

I’ll probably be looking at least a little bit into PI. I’ve already picked up the 2 skills for Planetary Management for 550k each. As long as the resources can sell for more than the cost of the infrastructure, then it’s free ISK. Letrange is probably right that the big money will be in the products far down the end of the industrial chain, such as control towers and POS modules. The lower end will be swamped by people who think that resources are free because they extracted them (rolleyes) which will drive margins down to near zero or even below cost.

Unfortunately, the new skills have as their prime attribute…. charisma. Great. So I finally picked up the 4.5 million ISK tier 2 charisma learning skill, Empathy. I plan to train this to maybe level 3, so that it will at least help me in other social skills such as Negotiation and Connections. Getting a charisma implant however is probably a waste of ISK.

So, all set to try out PI, I look around at some planets in the system I happen to be in and check out the planet interface. Mmmm. Heat vision…. (makes Predator noises…) Here I run into a brick wall. I need a command center to place on the planet before I can start putting extractors. But… I can’t find any command centers on the market. At all. Limited, Basic, Standard, Improved, Advanced, Elite, any flavor of planet, nope, nada, nothing. In the entire region. So, unless I’ve missed something, I need to wait for them to be seeded in the market? Oh well.

On the bright side, my Dominix now has visible thruster flames! Woot! Now I can finally tell which way I’m going!

To WoW or not to WoW

On the WoW front, my hacked account has been er… desuspended? Unsuspended? I found that the hacker had paid for a month’s subscription, until June 20. He also added an authenticator to my account. Wow. I guess the gold I had was probably worth more than his costs, but still it seems quite extravagant for a hacker to go to all this expense, which cuts down on his margins. This also means I got the Core Hound Pup pet in my mailbox as well as some new penguin pet. At least the Core Hound is quite cute… As expected all my characters are naked and have only a few silver to their name. Only PVP gear is left, presumably because they couldn’t be sharded. That reminds me, I didn’t check my professions to see if the hacker dropped something for enchanting.

So, now I have to decide if I want to bother making use of the 3 weeks of free WoW that I have. At first I was thinking of playing a Tauren DK to see the Horde side of TBC onwards, since I had never had a Horde character over 60. However, I have no character slots left on Dragonblight and so would have to roll on another server where I don’t have any gold. Well I don’t have any gold now either but I expect a GM to restore at least some of my stuff back to me… Secondly, it would seem like a better use of the time to check out the new instances added in ICC and ToC. Except that without any gear, it would be pretty rude of me to queue up for these instances. Hmm.

The more I think of it, the more pointless it seems even though it’s free. I’m definitely not going to continue playing after June 20, which makes any progress I make in levelling a DK very pointless especially as he will not even be on the same server as my other characters. Playing EVE sounds more enjoyable and ultimately has longer term progress. Hmm… Guess the option is there to fire it up if I don’t feel like playing EVE that night for some reason.