Thoughts on Garrisons

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When thinking about Garrisons the initial thought is one blizz really wouldn’t like – are they going to be accessible today? The game has been plagued with problems since it launched last week and Garrisons continue to be a problem. At peak times, or sometimes just randomly, the instance servers get overloaded. If you try and login to a character parked in their garrison then you are unable to login getting a “world server is down” error message. If you are in game, then you may get stuck mid-air in a flight path, return to the garrison and find a lot of other players are there as phasing fails, get kicked out repeatedly with “transfer aborted: instance not found” messages etc.

However, when they do work they provide a whole new angle for playing the game. When Pet Battles were introduced it was a full feature with pets everywhere to capture, trainers to beat and a whole slew of new achievements. In fact Pet Battles are now so integrated throughout the game that it’s hard to remember what it was like without them. Garrisons are similar, only rather than applying to the whole game like Pet Battles, they just integrate completely in Draenor.

So what about Garrisons?

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Notes on Warlords launch

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Obviously it’s November and I’m only halfway to my 100k target for the month. That has to be my priority but I wasn’t even going to try kidding myself. There was no way I was going to wait till December to login to Draenor, I wanted to dive into all the new content, I just wanted to play the game again.

I did manage to exercise enough self control to get my on pace target for the day. Just over 3,000 words and I hung up my writing pen and logged into Warcraft. I know I should have tried writing more but I’m only human, I can write more when it isn’t launch day and all the new content is there laying unseen and untried.

I played for probably about four hours Thursday afternoon. I got from Level 90 to halfway through level 91 before my playtime came to an abrupt end with a game breaking bug. I’m finishing off this blogpost with the game open on my other screen, waiting for my character to be rescued by support. As a lot of other people are stuck the same way, I thought I was in for a long wait. Relogging over and over eventually fixed it but damn that was annoying.

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QoL Improvements and New Features

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Warlords of Draenor launches tonight at 11pm in the UK, which technically makes it the 12th rather than the 13th but that’s EU timezones for you. After the drought of the last few months which led to me unsubbing for the first time ever, there’s going to be a lot of new content to explore.

Even when I was raiding I basically played from an achievement/collector standpoint. I enjoyed raiding for the initial challenge. Once a boss went on farm it bored me. I liked gear for what it let me do but I didn’t care for it as a reward in of itself. Mists added feats of strengths for defeating the raids when it was current content. I liked these, and I was especially glad to get the Siege one as it rewarded a mount.

I’m not planning on raiding in Warlords. I can’t commit to a schedule like I did in Mists. That was way too much, far too intense and it sucked the joy out of the whole game. That means I have to accept that I might not complete the legendary quest. If there are rewards for the feat of strength raids then I might miss those. However, I missed out on all the challenge mode achievements and associated rewards in Mists. I have long resigned myself to never getting the PvP achievements as I suck at PvP. For a collector/completionist it’s never nice to realise you are locked out of something but it’s something I’ve had to learn to accept.

Anyway, this post isn’t about achievements exactly, or is it about Warlords of Draenor. It’s about some things I’ve noticed while playing recently. It’s things that I think either some addon maker, or blizz themselves, should eventually do something about.

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NaNo 2014: Day Ten Update

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It’s November which means it’s time for NaNoWriMo. Usually I post about it before the month, and then I do a post in December about how it went. In October I should have posted about what my goals for the month were. I will do that now with a look at the first ten days.

This year I decided that NaNo was going to be the start of a brand new year. 2014 sucked for a lot of real life reasons, it was a complete write-off in so many respects. I love NaNo, I’ve likened it to a holiday and it is without doubt my favourite time of year. Starting off a new year, or launching my new intentions in November rather than January just made sense.

NaNo’s official goal is to write 50k within November. I wanted to go beyond that this year, to use the magic of NaNo to get a jump start on my future plans. With that in mind I set myself some additional goals:
– 12.5k on Day One
– 25k by end of Day Three
– 50k by end of Day Seven
– 100k by the end of the month
– Two finished first drafts
– Write something, however little, every day to get into the habit of consistency.

This is how it went:

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Blizzcon 2014: Revelations or lack of them

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I didn’t like Diablo 2, I definitely didn’t like Diablo 3, I have never played Starcraft, I’m not in the Heroes of the Storm alpha and I find Hearthstone a bit meh. When I think of blizzard, I think of World of Warcraft, that is the game of theirs that I play.

Now, the next expansion Warlords of Draenor releases in less than a week. Announcing the expansion after it, before this one is even released, would have been an odd choice. However, they have said they want to release expansions faster, they are planning on only two raid tiers which means surely it has to be faster. The next expansion will be wanting to release not long after next years blizzcon, there has to be a beta cycle first, so it can’t wait that long for announcement. I thought it was about 50/50 as to whether they announced it and they opted not to. I’m assuming that the announcement will be made at gamescon or something similar.

However, what I was sure they would do is talk about future patches. What would be coming up in 6.1 or 6.2, more about the future of the patch, something that we haven’t heard before. There was a big Warcraft panel yesterday and all of it just reiterated either what was in the 6.0 patch notes, or what they had said a year ago during last blizzcon. When I read the recap I was so glad I hadn’t bought a virtual ticket this year. Not giving any new information? That’s just wrong and in my opinion quite disrespectful. That this is hot on the heels of the longest content drought since the game was launched and it doesn’t exactly give a good feeling.

I’ve seen a few other people express this opinion in comments on WoWInsider, they have been stomped on for being cynical trolls. Why is it a bad thing to be critical about something you care about? If I didn’t care then I wouldn’t say anything. Now it’s possible that something new will be said during today’s panels. I certainly hope something new is said as otherwise this con offered nothing for Warcraft game fans. There was of course the movie which finished shooting months ago and is set for release in 2016. Seriously? It’s kinda hard to get excited when it’s still that far away.

Anyway, enough about Warcraft for the moment. The big reveal of the con was the new IP Overwatch, an entirely new game, a team based shooter. The suspicious part of me is sure that this was part Titan, as somebody must have been working on this as it can’t just have come out of nowhere. I thought that the footage of the game world was very Pixar, I wondered if it was aimed at kids but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The gameplay footage looked relatively polished and the beta is at some point next year.

My problem with it? It’s a shooter. I can’t play first person as I get really badly motion sick. I have enjoyed in very small doses games like Sanctum but even in small doses I pay for it afterwards. Plus it just seems to be a team based game, so you always have to play with others and it looks like it will be all PvP, so playing against people not an AI. Even if I didn’t have the FPS issue I don’t have enough friends to play, and I don’t really like PvP as I suck at it.

The new game is obviously not for me but I actually feel bizarrely sad about that. I might have thought the animation was aimed at children but I enjoyed it anyway. I got a real superhero vibe from it and I love superheroes. I was hoping all the way through that the announced game would be an MMO RPG, so like Warcraft but this whole new universe as I would have played that in a heartbeat. The graphics looked fantastic, I loved the world and the settings, the powers looked good, it was light and bright and it was superheroes. I love Marvel Heroes but at the end of the day that game is about smashing stuff, it’s a dungeon crawler not an RPG, I want a superhero RPG.

However, it’s not an RPG, they don’t want to give themselves competition I guess. It’s a shooter and that makes me sad. I love shooters in theory, being the hero, taking down the bad guys, it being a lot more real and immediate. There’s no quests or raids in shooters, they aren’t that kind of game so it’s more immersive. I wish I could play, I want to play, I really really want to play. When I was a kid my cousin had a shooter game, and he had a plastic gun that connected to the console, I wanted one so badly but I can’t play shooters. I try and play shooters and I get physically ill, so all the wanting in the world can’t change that.

I think that’s what really makes me disappointed in Overwatch. That I would love to play it but something physically prevents me. I would much rather just hate the game itself and maybe the more we learn about it, the more it’ll suck. Who knows?

There’s still a day of blizzcon left. However, from what I remember of my virtual ticket last year all the news was dealt with on day one, there were just additional details on day two. I don’t expect anything earth shattering but I will read the reports anyway. Warlords of Draenor launches in five days, Mists of Pandaria you really outstayed your welcome.

Warcraft: Free Seven Days

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I haven’t played Warcraft since March, that’s at least six months, more like seven, so it’s been a long time anyway. You would think that I would have forgotten how to play but it seems my hands remember how to play a paladin. Yes that means I did take blizz up on their offer for the free week of playtime. I said I wouldn’t resub until just before Warlords and I’m keeping to that resolve.

This free week though meant a) I didn’t have to wait until next month to play the launch event, b) I didn’t have to do all the housecleaning in game next month. They introduced a new ToyBox collection, they turned all justice into gold (I got 10k just from opening mail), there’s a new reagent tab etc. so I logged into all of my characters to collect the gold and either learn the toys or delete the duplicates. I will do another pass to consolidate all my crafting materials and remember where I keep everything when I have more time another day.

The first thing I did was sort my addons out. Thankfully all of them updated and worked apart from HolyTrinity which tracked my HolyPower on my paladin. I found a replacement and dove right in. It was strange in a way, recount was still showing old records, all my old macros and everything were just there like I had never been away.

I did the quests in the Blasted Lands, got my pet and my title. These weren’t the worlds most exciting quests and I found all the map icons to be quite distracting as I wasn’t sure what they meant. I then ran the special level 90 version of UBRS and was disappointed to find there was no achievement yet for completing it. I assume (hope) that will appear when Warlords actually launches.

A quick word about that dungeon. The cannons on the trash at the start are sneaky, I sort of wiped the group by pulling too much and not noticing them as they didn’t come up on my threat bar. I say sort of wiped the group because I went through the dungeon without dying. I could keep myself up and kill things without any issue. I was prepared for it to be tough as I’d read of people going in, with raid gear, and just getting shredded. I don’t know if blizz has hotfixed that or if there was something else going on. I had no issues with my own survival, in fact it was really kind of easy, I was impressed with how much my hands remembered. I was popping CD’s and healing like I played just last week. In terms of the gungeon itself I’m not sure whether I killed people on the first boss, I jumped down to hit the reset and kept threat, but the boss might hit people near him. The trash before the second boss was a pain, it just kept healing and took ages, the boss lasted a while too but I didn’t miss any interrupts. Third boss was the easiest of the lot.

When I logged in and saw the new character models I took my paladin to the barbers but I couldn’t find anything that was right, so I turned the new models off. I then turned them back on later because they are new and I should find a way to accept them. Plus I noticed that I really liked how my rogue looked. I took a screenshot of my rogue and tried to find that face in the barbers, a new face and a slight hair style change and now my pally looks more like herself. It’s still an adjustment, I will miss the old models and if I hadn’t had to face shift I would have turned them back on occasionally. I think the new models took a lot of resources and from a personal standpoint I wish they hadn’t been done. However, people like them so I guess it’s ok, the game is for everyone after all, not just me.

Another quick note about protection paladins, the patch notes weren’t kidding when they said not much had changed. My hands remembered the rotation and nothing was different. I guess it proves what I always said – we were already perfect. True wings has gone but I used to pretty much always pop that in tandem with Holy Avenger. I will miss the animation for it but that’s it. I haven’t tried ret yet.

The squish is a big thing about this patch and I have to say from the content I have done, which is basically only the new stuff, I can’t see any difference in my power. I quested as protection and didn’t have any trouble with kill time, but then those mobs would be tuned for the boosted 90’s and not former raiders. I will go and try to solo some stuff I’ve done before for a better idea but so far so good. In this respect blizz good job, I was worried about the squish but first impressions are good.

Over the next week I will:
– Consolidate all my account stuff e.g. reagents, heirlooms, account gear etc. in one place or at least reacquaint myself with what I have and where. I have two guild banks now, plus the new reagent tab, so I should free up a lot of bank space.
– Fill up the second void storage tab on my main, make more room for transmog gear as I seem to accumulate enough to fill my bags 10x over. I really need more space on Tai even with the extra space they’ve given us.
– Clean up my bags ready for Warlords, the two steps above will do most of it.
– Solo an old instance or two to see how it feels.
– Check out the ret spec as it is what I will level with it.

Hallow’s End is still technically happening and there are new pets and that Arthas disguise. I might look into getting something from it if I have the time and feel like it. However, I’m not going to stress myself about anything. I see there’s so much in the ToyBox that I haven’t collected, and when I start playing for real again then that is what I would like to start with. I already have a ton of mounts and pets so while it’s cool, it’s not as fun as filling up an empty journal.

Nearly forgot to mention that loading screen. I didn’t play in Burning Crusade and I recognised it, extremely iconic and nicely done. Oh and those characters which had disappeared from the armory, I logged into them and then they reappeared so nothing nefarious had gone on, which is a relief, didn’t want to misplace two paladins.

As returns after a long break go, I have to say it’s been damn smooth. My friends going to tease me about this on Tuesday. So just for him, if it makes you feel any better the new graphics card highlighted something I’d never noticed before. I turned up my settings as the card could do more and for the first time the graphics looked really bad. Maybe if they are blurred they look better. I’m writing this looking at Stormwind though, it’s one of the oldest areas of the game which I’m sure doesn’t help.

Avengers: Age of Ultron Trailer

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This was supposed to premiere during Agents of Shield next Tuesday but some ******** leaked it early. Now you’d think given how much I love the Avengers, and how eager I have been to see the trailer, that I would be pleased to get it early. However, I’m mad as hell in a way because it has completely taken the wind out of the sails of the promo for Agents of Shield.

Marvel were telling everyone to tune in next Tuesday to see the trailer for the first time. It was a good strategy, get people back into watching AoS, as they see it once/or again and think it’s awesome, then tune in every week after that. Now, there’s no hook to get all kinds of new people to tune in. I just really think that AoS could have done with that shot in the arm for ratings, it’s an amazing show and I want to see it go on for years but if it doesn’t meet the magic numbers then it won’t. It’s only the beginning of season two, so unless they announce cancellation early, then I have until next May to worry about renewal.

Coulson lives! I just hope AoS continues too as well. Back to the trailer … there will of course be spoilers for it under the cut.

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Failed the challenge

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I missed three days of updates but I do have an excuse. Monday I had a family crisis, Tuesday looked at a house and yesterday bought a house, it’s been a hell of a week.

However, small retrospective on what I learned in the last two weeks of attempting the challenge.
1) It is really hard to think of enough topics that are interesting enough to cover as blog posts. I like to say something and not just ramble, I probably did just ramble on occasion anyway but never mind.
2) It is possible barring crazy life altering days, case in point, to find time to write everyday. If I had been a little more diligent and prepared then I would have had time to write even then. I spent the vast majority of yesterday pacing up and down so much I got blisters – literally. Waiting to hear if the offer was accepted was incredibly nerve-wracking. My phone was out of battery, I didn’t have my laptop with me, I obviously wasn’t home. Concentrating would have been hard but it might have made the time go faster.
3) Miniposts or short posts are nothing to be ashamed about, so long as obviously they aren’t the only posts that ever get written. Sometimes there’s not enough time to write a full in-depth post, sometimes the brain won’t cooperate and think of a topic for a long post, sometimes that’s all I can do and that is enough. I wrote that day, it wasn’t much but I sat down and tried. Other days the posts will be on the long side of regular, so it evens out. Far better to write a small amount than nothing at all.

Looking at what I learned I don’t think the challenge was a failure, sure I failed to complete it but much like NaNo, I took something else from trying, it was a success in another way.

In other news I got a library card as intended on Tuesday, ready for my book challenge in January. Although my friend told me to sign up to GoodReads, I discovered then that I have 9 unread books on my shelves, exactly how that happened I don’t know. I should probably start with those books before I check random books out of the library. Maybe I should do a challenge warm-up, going from no reading to a book a week might be tough. Perhaps I should start reading now, and just say find time for a chapter a day. Even though my focus is going to be as much on writing as possible, that should be pretty easy, knock it out in a few minutes before I go to sleep, it’s definitely worth considering.

Another friend of mine teases me often about Warcraft. To be honest a lot of his objections in regards to how much it costs, the subscription, the long content droughts etc. I share and have ranted about on this blog more than once. It’s probably a bit like doughnuts or another sugary item, it’s bad for you but that doesn’t stop you from liking it, you may also hate yourself slightly for succumbing but do it anyway, just the way it is. Anyway, the Warlords pre-patch dropped yesterday and there’s some new things to do and explore. I decided, back when I decided I would resub and try Warlords out, that I wouldn’t do so until a week before release so I wouldn’t waste any sub time. I am tempted to resub now, I’m a very impatient person, but for a change my resolve is staying firm. I have a lot of other stuff to do, the pre-launch stuff won’t take long and plus waiting means all the bugs will be fixed, and a big patch like this brings a lot of bugs.

Agents of Shield 2.03 will now be available for me to watch, so there may be a post about that later when I get a chance to watch it. I love that show but if I get more free time later, and my brains still working, I have NaNo Prep to do.

End note – how can it only be Thursday? It feels like a month since last Friday, that’s just crazy but then it has been one hell of a week.

Minipost – NaNo Site Relaunch

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It’s Sunday, which technically means that the site relaunched on schedule. They said last week that it would be this week, the fact that it was anticipated and intended for the beginning of the week is immaterial, it made the week – barely.

Launching on a Sunday was unanticipated but on the surface not much is new. The homepage has had a slight re-jig, there’s still no countdown which is disappointing but it does look very nice. The forums are a different story, they didn’t do a hard wipe this year. They kept all threads that had been posted in since August 1st, so there’s a lot of old threads knocking around. Personally I don’t like it, they don’t have that clean, fresh start empty feeling. It’s messy and that bothers me. Thankfully the only part of the forum I really use is the Beyond 50k area and that was almost completely wiped. I’ll just stay there where it’s comfortable.

Anyway what the site launch mainly brought was the ability to officially sign up for this years NaNo. Creation of 2014 novel profiles, the donor halo for this year etc. all become active. This always gives me such a burst of enthusiasm. I rather predictably spent the day logged into OA chat, refreshing the forum and planning my novel. I managed to get pretty much all the background ironed out, so I understand the world and how it works, which given that it revolves around time travel took a while. I also needed to get a consistent backstory because it’s going to set up a series. The revelations about the past won’t all be told in this first book but I need to know them, so I don’t contradict myself later.

I was reminded of the importance of knowing where things will go, and hidden connections, when I watched NCIS tonight. It was the first episode Yankee White and it was the first introduction of Agent Fornell. He was just the FBI representative in this episode and likely intended to be nothing more. However, they must have liked the actor or they just brought him back, as they do with secondary characters, to ground the world so he was the FBI representative many times. Then they decided to give him more of a backstory, and they made him and Gibbs share an ex-wife. That’s where the episode Yankee White hits an issue, as Fornell didn’t recognize Gibbs and had no idea he was NCIS in this episode. However, at a later appearance they’ve been friends for years. Gibbs warned him away from marrying his ex-wife, Fornell didn’t listen but I suppose that at least saved Gibbs the alimony. It means Yankee White doesn’t fit into the continuity, it’s been retconned and the fact that it’s inconsistent is never mentioned or explained, it likely only bothers someone like me.

However, I don’t want to make a mistake like that in my books. I don’t like logic errors, inconsistencies or the unexplained. As it’s a series I need to decide as much of the world as I can now, as once I’m committed I won’t be able to change it later. Details matter, it has to be right.

I now have a title for my book and the series – Singularity, Book One of The Nexus series. Naturally it’s subject to change but it works for now and it’s about time I had a title. Usually I find titles easy enough to find but this one was trouble. I haven’t written my synopsis yet for the NaNo site but then I haven’t got book one’s plot nailed down yet.

As always because I spend time on the Beyond 50k section I’m tempted to pledge to do more than 50k. Considering I barely scraped 50k last year, even contemplating it is stupid. Not to mention we sold the house last week, so I’m helping look for a new place to live, and then there will be all the house move type chores to do. I just wanted to acknowledge the temptation to make an unreasonable, unattainable goal. I’m good at that, jumping in with both feet at the deep end, naturally sinking as I didn’t even test the water temperature first. We’ll see how the month progresses, if I have an amazing month, then maybe Beyond 50k will happen on it’s own. It never has yet but there has to be a first time for everything. There’s still a lot of planning to do but it’s not halfway through October, there’s still time.

19 days to go and counting.

Agents of Shield Wishlist

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I could have entitled this post “I have no idea what to write” as I really struggled to think of anything at all. In fact I didn’t think of anything, I did what any sensible person would do when they are really stuck, I asked my friend. Who is probably getting a little fed up of having to help me think of blog topics, and it’s only day 11, this is serious.

Anyway, they suggested writing about what I hoped would happen in this season, season two, of Agents of Shield. I am completely spoiler free for this show, not by choice but just because I don’t know anywhere that gives out spoilers. I have seen the first two episodes and I have no idea what’s coming up next.

So what do I hope will happen this season? I better put it under a cut just in case.

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