Friday, June 7, 2013

Evolve or Die

Ok, a little ranting here.

I see in the blogging community a lot of disenchantment and readiness to leave the game. Couple this with the recent loss of subscriptions and a game that is now an elder in the industry, we see a lot of discontent. I understand it, people will always have issues with game changes. I know I get irritated from time to time as well.

BUT! Evolve or die. The game as it is now, is very different from when it first came out 9 years ago. It had to in order to survive. Player bases change, the MMO culture has changed. Developers understand this and evolve the game in accordance with it's paying customers. That's business. I left other games with no hard feelings because I didn't like the direction the game took. Those games still have a following and still get profits without me. I am not offended. It is a business in the end no matter how individuals feel.

Recently we have seen changes in the pvp realms, and in the near future the raiding realms. The changes are not always easy to take, but they can be workable. How many old veterans remember when there was no cross server tech and had to wait for hours just to get into a single instance? I remember pre BC how hard it was leveling in greens and rarely seeing an instance, missing out on a lot of content. It's a lot easier now. The Flex system may give more people the opportunity to raid in a meaningful way. It does require a little work (god forbid that 4 letter word) of the player base to make acquaintances to build teams that meet when possible, but so what? Before he went to college, my son had created such a network of friends that he could fill any raid spot necessary to get a raid formed. This was due to his work. He knew that not everyone could be at a raid every time. Real life is real life. So he made his successes by doing a little leg work. In doing so he was a valued member of his guild and never had a raid canceled. That was because he felt that the game owed him nothing other than the opportunity of enjoyment. He did the work to make the game more enjoyable. This by the way while holding a 4.0 GPA in school, doing his chores and being productive. He wasn't lazy. No one told him to do this, he just did it.

What I'm getting at here is that by and large the game is there, but players need to work within the rule set or walk away. It's ok to walk away, but there are still so many opportunities out there to enjoy WoW.

It's time to evolve with the game. Run with the flow and see where it takes you. Keep an open mind, don't be stubborn. Give things a chance, you might be surprised. Yes there are times I bitch about mechanics. It's not that I'm opposed the the changes but just wish things would be tweaked to make them work better beyond theory.

This is my 2 cents for what it's worth.

Have fun out there!

Friday, May 31, 2013

Patch 5.3 PvP role check BULLSHIT!!!

My rant for the day. The idea behind a role check in Battlegrounds seems like a sound idea...theoretically. In practice though...EPIC FAIL! Ya I said it. People have gamed the system and while they check in as healers...they don't bother dropping heals approximately 60% of the BG's I've been on both horde and alliance. But worse still, the mechanic is supposed to ensure a balanced number of classes are represented on both sides so one side doesn't have unfair advantage over the other. again...FAIL! After playing approximately 30 BG's, more than a few times I would walk in:

My side: 1 healer, 2 Tanks, X DPS
Opposing side: 2 tanks, X DPS, 3+ Healers

Mathmatics anyone? I would hope my luck wasn't that terrible but it seems of late it is. Anyone else seeing this as an issue?

Normally I try to give things a chance but really, this is irritating. I'd rather the old system was back where I knew how I was gonna be screwed in advance. But more importantly, I really wish that if players are gonna role check as healers, they actually drop heals instead of going on dps rampages then bitch about how they aren't being supported in the BG's. My answer, HEAL YOU SORRY LAME ASS BASTARD !!! I promise if you do, I'll do everything I can to keep you alive.

Nuff Said

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Paladin Progress, Favorite Toons, and other Ramblings

I've spent the last several days leveling my Paladin Ahrias. He is Prot specced and all the way up until he hit Cata Dungeons he was wrecking the 5 mans during leveling phases. Then he hit a bench mark where DPS folks were tearing his aggro meters to shreds. I've done a bit of research for 5.3 to ensure at least the spec was right. Gear would still be a problem for a bit though as the proper tanking gear isn't really available at this point. I kind of tapered off on Dungeoning for the moment until I can rehasg what is going on aggro wise. But, I've really gotten into the storyline for MoP. I hadn't taken any of my other toons this far into the game as I was dreading the gear disparity. Still, I actually started to take my time again in reading through quest lines and picking up the lore as I could.

Throughout this process Ahrias has traveled all over Azeroth, with the exception of the "Waterworld" Cata phase. I never enjoyed that area and easily by passed it. Hyjal as always was a blast and the Highlands were also a lot of fun to roll through. I didn't do every quest, just the ones I liked or felt were relevant to his persona. His Jewel crafting has kind of hit a wall between 505 to 520, the next major breach, but that will come in time for me. At now lv 86 soon to be 87 he feels pretty formidable and carries the weight of his Holy Warrior status well. Over all, I've been very happy with his progress and enjoyed the time he has traveled about.

So why talk about it? Well, Ahrias is the first toon I've really taken a liking to. I'm not all into the holy preachy warrior thing, but Ahrias strikes a special chord with me. I've been developing a persona from the immersion perspective in fleshing him out to be something more than a pixel action figure/doll to play with. My wife can easily tell you I hire and fire alts so fast, she looses track of what I am working on at the moment. Though I keep the names I like the most on standby, very few ever make it past lv. 30 before they stop resonating with me. It's odd how I have grown fond of the old, grey eyed, silver maned paladin. He has started to take a life and personality of his own.

I don't really get into RP anymore, though perhaps I'll crack it again sometime. What I will say is, Ahrias as a project has come to life for me. In the end, he is what I enjoy about WoW. The creation, the progression and the development of something I can take away as fond memories of glory. I personally think this is a part of why even old veterans who grumble about the state of the game still play. It's not the whole reason, but I figure it is a part of it. I get lost in the story and I look back through his eyes and see what has been accomplished, and what remains to be done. He embodies some of who I am in the real world, and many things which I aspire to be in attitude, execution and overall bad assery. So, while I have plenty of other toons, many which umm...well, die by my hand more often than by the dangers of Azeroth, Ahrias has stayed on and above the rest.

So, what toons have you my fellow readers call your personal favorite? Are they main class? Alt? RP? What makes you enjoy the special ones? Do drop a line when you get the chance, I always love a good conversation over ale, whiskey, or even some well brewed tea! Till next time, may your bags be loaded with gold and may glory be showered upon you!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

5.3 PvP Rage

5.3 is up and running folks. It's largest selling point (the pvp changes) has also been it's most contentious one. There is a lot of debate on the effects of the baseline 65% resiliency, the capping of gear and the PvE gear in end game BG's.

The bickering seems to rage on as furious as Vol'jin's and Garrosh's attempts at each other's throats. Speaking of which, interesting storyline changes out there as well. Drop back down to some of the beginning zones in Durotan, seems Garrosh has put his uber elite Ko'Kran guards in place to keep things "peaceful". Rebellion is in the air folks. Wouldn't it be a hoot to see the Darkspear drop from the Horde roles and run a little with the Alliance? Holy crap that would have me rolling. The Tauren from what I've heard ain't too happy bout the situation either.

But back to my original thoughts. With all the extreme rage going on about mechanics changes, I gotta laugh at some of the inflexibility of folks. In the end, I think it's more important to play out the mechanics, do a little theory crafting, test said theories...then make recommendations. Taking a black and white stance withing 24 hours of live game play seems pretty stupid to me without some extensive testing the waters. I myself am still neutral about the 5.3 pvp changes.

The one thing I am a little disappointed in is homogenizing gear. Look, Raiders work hard in their skill areas. PvPers do as well. There should in my opinion be specific differences between endgame pvp and pve gear. Allowing them to blur seems pointless to me. PvE folks don't spend hours grinding through battle grounds earning points to gain gear. To me, I think it's not fair to see them gain any sort of meaningful edge in a BG. Yes, I am partial to PvP even though I suck at it lol. I just think that the gear should be different because the skill focus is different.

As to the rest of 5.3, well time will tell. I am looking forward to yet another BG choice. I have always really liked seeing different battlegrounds. I know many of them seem to overlap in objective styles, but seeing new terrain and new mechanics is always a joy.

So folks, what are your thoughts on the mechanics changes and gear changes? Good or bad, be specific if you can as I am always up for a spirited debate. I'd be interested especially if factual numbers can be employed..not just this sucks mentality.

On a last personal opinion point:
For every change there is a way to counter and defeat it. Yes it takes time to figure out...but no system is completely one sided or another. It takes time to figure out how to beat a nerf or a boon to one side or another. Keep that in mind the next time you hit the BG's.

Till next time, may your pockets be lined with gold and Glory be showered upon you!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Epic Sword in The Sunken Temple

The Dragon's Call Blade
So, I couldn't resist bragging rights here. Just got done doing a random dungeon as I am leveling up my Paladin. I get queued up and end up in The Sunken Temple and got this beauty of a Sword: The Dragon's Call . All I can say is for a lowbie sword, this thing rocks! I haven't gotten the whelp to proc yet, but still you gotta love the simple things like this to entertain your day. After all, how often do you get an epic drop during your lowbie leveling days?

Hunting for Rares in The Badlands

So just my luck, I am out getting more mithril to get to my next sets of jewel crafting (which by the way is my favorite for crafting out of all of the skills) and what do I meet up with? Not one, not two, but THREE rare monsters which I think can be tamable. If not they are still worth the hunt. All of these were met within 5 minutes of playtime. Now, first if you are hunting rares, do yourself a favor and get the Silverdragon addon from . It's definitely worth your time if you are hunting down rare pets or Mobs.

So to it, here are some quick screenshots of what I found out there in the Badlands:

 Fun lil dragon lizard. Not sure if he is tamable, but still and interesting quick fight and definitely a cool hunt! He is pretty daunting to look at, but a skilled adventurer can take him down at level with no major difficulties. If he isn't tamable, Blizz needs to be smacked on the nose as this one would be well worth having as a hunter pet.

Now this fine devil of a Scorpid is named Serkett. He loves dropping poison splashes all of the place, so watch your footing. Imagine having this Albino Scorpid rolling with you out to the Battlegrounds!

Evil beastie here. Another hunter favorite I'll be willing to bet.

Well fellow adventurers, if you find yourself out in the Badlands, look these fellows up if nothing else, then for bragging rights on your up and coming adventurers. And who knows? Maybe you will take on of these fine beasts home to show off the the world.

Exploring Azeroth...Caer Darrow (Scholomance)

It's common for players in WoW these days to rush through instances and link into LFD to level and gear as they progress. Sadly, there is so much lore in this game which has been forgotton. One of the things I still enjoy doing is exploring and linking the past of Azeroth with what is currently going on. To this end, while I am out and about I really enjoy finding little tidbits and information during my travels. To that end, I think it's important for players to enjoy the rich world that has been constructed for them.

So, today while out doing a mining run with my Paladin Ahrius, I also was finishing his exploration of the Western Plaguelands. Lake Darrowmere was my last hit. Now, I rememebr back in the pre Burning Crusade days when Scholomance was one of the tougher places to roll through. It also had some of the heaviest concentration of treasures that gleaned tons of gold (well for back then anyhow). But few have returned to the outlaying areas of the instance. Now it may not seem like much...but there is a place here worth your time as a crafter to hit up, hence the exploration piece.

From the north side of Lake Darrowmere
Now before I get into the actual bonus of coming into Caer Darrow, let's take a moment for a quick history lesson which I got from the all famous WoWwiki. Please understand, everything here was lifted from WoWwiki for your information purposes only:

Ancient History

The island where the ruined town of Caer Darrow now sits was long ago the keeping place of an ancient runestone, known as the Runestone of Caer Darrow. The runestone served as an ancient monolith sacred to the high elves of Quel'Thalas. The artifact is said to have been erected by elven druids, a description which provides the only indication in lore that any high elves ever followed a druidic path. Runestones were later changed to have served as a barrier so that the Burning Legion would be unaware of the high elves' arcane magic.
The island has also been the site of one or more human fortifications dating back to the days of the empire of Arathor.

The Second War

During the Second War, the island was invaded by the Horde, the fortress sacked, and the sacred runestone captured. The stone was hewn into pieces which were used to create the Altars of Storms, arcane structures which allowed Gul'dan to instill magic into the Horde's ogre allies.
When Uther Lightbringer embarked for the isle on a mission of mercy to aid and comfort the survivors of the bloody raid, he was ambushed by privateers from Alterac. In the naval battle that followed, some of the sailors were captured; during questioning in Lordaeron's capital, they confessed their nation's treachery to the Alliance, leading to Alterac's eventual ruin.

The Barovs and Scholomance

Following the Second War, the fortress at Caer Darrow was restored; the rule of the island by the Barov family dates back to at least this time. The Barovs were extremely wealthy, owning the land which comprised Caer Darrow, Brill, Southshore, and Tarren Mill. Not content with their enormous holdings, the Barovs entered into a deal with the human mage Kel'Thuzad, leader of the Cult of the Damned. The once opulent House of Barov became the horrific Scholomance, a school of necromancy. The spirits of many of the island's inhabitants remain, seeking justice for the horrific wrongs committed there.

Fall of the town

The people of Caer Darrow survived within their small town for several months after the fall of Lordaeron. When the Scourge invaded Andorhal however, a large host attacked Caer Darrow. Aided by troops from Scholomance, it was then that the town finally came to an end.

Current State

The island and surrounding lake have become lifeless and still. Only meager fish are still able to survive in the murky waters and the towering fortress seems to suck hope itself from the surrounding air. Every year or so new students can be seen entering the manor, or graduates grimly sulking out. Only ghosts of the town's former inhabitants remain, only visible with the spectral essence given by the manor's former servants. The townspeople seem to be cursed to re-live Caer Darrow's happiest day for all eternity, the visitation of Uther the Lightbringer.

Ok, that was your quick history lesson. The cool part though was finding Magnus Frostwake in one of the outlaying buildings. He has a couple of really nice Alchamy and Blacksmithing recipes that are excellent for lower level gear. It is worth your time if you collect recipes or just need a couple of really solid pieces of gear to come out and visit the old spectre. He is a friendly sort as ghosts go, and his prices are...well reasonable heh heh heh.

Recipes worth your time if you are an alchemist or Blacksmith
  So, in the end, don't discount these old places folks, you just might be passing up some recipes or gear you never knew existed. In the end, Azeroth still has a ton of things to offer..if you look hard enough. It's no always about rushing to the end game, but rather the journey and the roads you take to get there.

Till next time, may your pockets be lined with gold, ans glory be brought to your name!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Remember back in the day? Player Base Culture Then and Now

People change, they row, they come and go. Games do the same. WoW is certainly no different here. What I find interesting is how the player base and attitudes have changed since my return from back in 2011. For that matter, going all the way back to pre TBC days. I here the constant laments of how much mroe difficult it was back in the day compared to now and how the game has gone EZ mode.

I have also heard a ton of doom sayers claim the deathknell of the game due to a loss of 1.8 million players this last quarter. Hmm...that's a huge number and WOULD destroy any other MMO. Ok, the player base has declined. The game is 9 years old. Most MMOs completely die out after about 6 years...tops. For an Elder of a game, I'd say it's no where near life support stage. I've played a lot of lesser MMO's in my sabbaticals from WoW and here is what I find:

~ First 90 days, population boom. People burning through content, figuring out the game mechanics, leveling battle areas into virtual glass ashtrays....

~ 90 days to 6 months; Players have gotten pretty comfortable but the new shinies aren't as shiny anymore. Progression raids have been fullfilled, pvp brackets have been maxed and...what is there to do again? Oh yeah, try out new classes and spec trees etc. BUT...player base starts to go away due largely to discontent of what the product promised vs. what it delivered upon launch.

~ 6 months to Year 1; Die hard niche players and guilds hang on together due to friendships or progression. But, subs decline at this point. Sometimes fast...othertimes slow. But, the first doomsayers make thier mark in the forums. they blame everything upon the dev teams and how no one listens to the players. This creates discontent and foments general toxic attitudes that create forum wars and often turn off new prospective players that haven't tried the game out. Ahhh the joys of the Mob mentality. Now, some companies have money to push out new Xpacs and new content. Of course in thier rush to  push out the content, they innevitably screw up coding and make life hell on the player base. which repeats the cycloe of toxic attitudes.

~ Year 2; Only the die hards remains, but by this time we start to see servers chut down, merge, and game becomes life support for the curious and the few fans. Players will traverse for miles and miles without seeing another face. PvP becomes non existant. Instance groups become rare occurances. Less meaningful content gets pushed out. This is about the mark in my experiences where a game dies off.

Now...World of Warcraft....9 years, new content on reasonable time tables. Not everything appeals to ALL players. But there is enough variety within the game to cater to just about everyone. 8 Million subs still active. For a Grandfather of a game that hasn't really updated it's graphics base I gotta say hats off to the business model. It works. It is still a juggernaut, just a very matured one.

So why all the glum feelings of loss and what not?

In my opinion, it has to do with the changing virtual culture base. It also has to do with folks just plain old moving on. There in lies the key. When we develop relationships, even virtual ones, there is an emotional investment that most people are very uncomfortable tlaking about. Those who have been around have seen thier old buddies move on to other things. And the new player base (relatively speaking withing say Cata to MoP) has a very different attitude in progression, challenge vs. reward and social interaction. Now some may blame this on game design. I don't think that is entirely it though. There is more to it than simple design mechanics exploitation. It is the culture of the people that has also changed. Old veterans remembered long ago glories and how much harder it was to obtain things as simple as a mount. They remembered the difficulty of putting together 25 - 40 member raid teams and keeping them focused. These veterans remember even simple dungeons requiring skill vs. BoA gear run throughs. Yet now, many of these challenges are overcome simply to level fast to see the End Game.

New players want everything now...and FAST. Attention spans have significantly shortened. Get it now or I'm out. And social relationships? What the heck is that? These are some of the challenges as aged as WoW is has to deal with. So there is a cultural clashing here that I feel often isnt mentioned.

In the end, the game has to remain fun for people. I actually had to re evaluate WHY I played and WHAT I enjoyed, player culture be damned. As I write this, I am looking at my toon list which is growing. Some of these toons I have rerolled already, but 3 or 4 are definite keepers.

I love WoW, and though I may periodically take breaks from it, I enjoy what it has to offer. I look forward to the future of the game as it approaches it's first Decade mark. But if you find yourself at a loss, rememebr not so much that you HAVE to do ABC in that order, but to skip and play a bit.

Till next round, I'll see ya out there in Azeroth

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My return

Well, after a rather long hiatus I decided to return back to WoW. About 4 months ago I decided I had done everything I wanted to do in Age of Conan and shut down my Hyborian Rage blog. The game was as always an epic vista of beautifully rendered landscapes and epic battles. But, there just wasn't enough player base left to enjoy the game the way I used to. Furthermore, the community had become highly toxic. The final straw was that I ran a raiding guild there that due to interpersonal conflicts split and died. It was a good run, but I finally closed the gates to my Keep and retired my characters. I had become tired of waiting for game fixes and updated crafting systems so it was time to pack my saddlebags and allow my little town to live or die on its own. No regrets, just time to move on as many do in the MMO community.

Jump forward to now. My wife and I decided to revive a bank guild of ours and just make it our own little place. We don't have members, we don't have serious goals, just playing for fun. It's actually a lot more fun this way for us. We still interact with folks that we choose as friends, but we stopped dealing with the stress of guild management and social drama. Now we pick and choose what we want to do. No burn out, just having fun in a solo/couple guild.

So re rerolled most of our toons and started from scratch. Well, more or less scratch. We had some BoA gear and a small lv 1 guild with a couple of bank  tabs. Since starting over, our little project has gained us an additional 2 bank tabs and guild lv 5. Doesn't sound like much but then we don't play it as hard as we used to. The first couple of months back we didn't even work that guild. Most times I guild hopped on Emerald Dream trying to find that right magic or place. I met a lot of fun folks both Horde and Alliance. Many were very helpful and sociable. I just didn't get the same feeling per se. A couple of guilds wanted to power level me and get me up to their end game but it wasn't really in my nature to do so. So I drifted a bit and finally settled down with my wife to just run what tso people could do together.

To date, it's actually been pretty fun. On the pvp side, we both made prot warriors and rofl'ed at the nerd rage of being double shield slammed. I know a lot of folks hate this but to be honest, eventually it will get nerfed and some other class will be flavor of the month. In the meantime, we just have fun with it and she has been having a blast there when we work side by side.

So there it is. I have returned as the bedraggled stranger into Azeroth where very few remember who I am or what I have done in the past. I plan on writing more here again and hope perhaps a few will read up and comment. I suppose we shall see. But anyways, the doors to The Rusty Blade have been re opened and the bar is restocked. Hail to the old veterans, and cheers to the new folk!