General Update and Patch 6.2

This blog disappeared for a month. I took it down for a number of valid reasons but I regretted doing so, I missed being able to ramble about games and TV. The decision never felt right, putting it back up doesn’t feel right either but I have to still be me, fun can still be permitted.

With that in mind when I deleted it a month ago, I didn’t save my theme settings which is annoying. Time permitting I will likely fiddle with the look of the site. However, looks are always secondary to content. I have imported all the old posts and pages.

I debated about that, as it’s been three years since I started and I have said some very stupid contradictory things over the years. In the end I decided to leave it, as no-one really reads this and it’s what I thought at the time. The fact that I was wrong means at least I’ve learned something. I’ll probably shuffle and rewrite the pages but that’s about it, the posts and any idiocy contained will stay for now.

Right onto the point of this post – Warcraft and patch 6.2 which hit the PTR last night.

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Minipost – Why is different bad?

Apologies for the long absence, there was Christmas and moving house. Even though I had the time to write a blog post, I didn’t have the concentration or the focus on a topic. I also haven’t quite decided what to do with this place. When I created this blog it was because I wanted to talk about games, TV, movies etc. without being constrained to 140 characters. I still want to do that but whether that’s compatible with my ambitions to indie publish fiction I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.

Anyway, today’s topic is courtesy of a reply I got to a comment I made on The Grumpy Elf’s blog. I basically said that I missed the way things had worked in Mists. I’d understood the stats, the process, professions, the gear grind etc. back then and I didn’t really understand why they had changed it all. In other words I didn’t like the changes that had been made and thought them unnecessary.

The reply from another commenter was that the problem wasn’t the new system – that it was me. I’m not raiding anymore, therefore I’m not putting in the same level of effort, that it wasn’t the system confusing me, it was that I clearly missed raiding and that’s why I was so lost. What is a tank without a raid?

My instinctive thought was to agree with him, as it’s true I don’t put in the same level of effort that I used to. However, I then thought about it some more and realised how wrong that was. The system shouldn’t be so complicated or confusing that it requires a lot of research, that it can’t just be figured out. What about the average player? Surely the game should be friendly to them as well, not just the raiders?

My complaint with Warcraft since Mists was released has been how it’s become very “raid or die”. In Mists that meant that I couldn’t play my alts, now in Warlords it makes any progression difficult and confusing. At least in Mists there wasn’t the element of randomness that Warlords has embraced with bells on. That I think is probably my biggest complaint about Warlords, that there’s too much randomness. The crafted gear is all random stat, you get random upgrades, it’s random if there’s a gem slot etc. I hate random, I really do, it makes it so hard to see the target and aim for it.

I know Cataclysm gets a lot of flack and I agree there was a lot that wasn’t great about it. However, in terms of casual play it was my favourite time in Warcraft. I loved being able to queue for dungeons, get a drop if I was lucky, collect points to buy gear otherwise. It made sense, it had targets I could aim at, the progress was slow but incremental and consistent, it was fun and meant that I could dip in and out of alts whenever I pleased with ease. I’ve always played my alts the way I imagined people who played casually (who didn’t raid), played their mains. Now I’m not raiding I’ve been proven right in regards to myself at least. The only problem is what game is there now for me to play?

The game for me in Warlords content is doing the weekly garrison mission, doing the daily apexis quest if I can be bothered, running through the mine and the herb garden and sending followers out on missions. The rest of my playtime is running through the list of old raids I have on farm, hunting for the pet or mount drop. I am making no new progress in what I can solo, as my gear progression is completely stuck.

The system I understood is gone, the gems, enchants and reforging process is gone. The stats have all been changed and even worse new ones have been added. Now I used to understand the game. What about the average player that never understood it or just understood it a little? Clearly this hasn’t hurt the games popularity as it’s enjoying a massive sub increase. Perhaps I’m just being very selfish in wishing things could be how I liked them, probably no perhaps about it. However, even if it is selfish I’m still entitled to how I feel. The blues said that the old system required people to go outside the game to find out what to do. How is this new one any better?

The point I’m trying to make is that a game like Warcraft should really support more than one playstyle. Someone shouldn’t have to raid in order to be able to progress and understand the game. There should be a more casual method that still allows people to feel like they accomplished something. I said in my comment that the game had removed any control I felt I had, I stand by that. The randomness, the lack of points gear and the complete change of profession and stat system, it’s not a good mix.

I guess I should go put in some research and try and figure it all out. There has to be some way I can play without having to raid.

The sad truth about Warlords

Warlords of Draenor had a rocky launch but part of the reason why it was so bad, was because it was a huge success. Blizz is back over 10 million subscribers according to the press release – that’s huge. It was something people didn’t think would happen.

Now obviously more players, and a huge success seems like a good thing and it is – to a point. You see given the huge success blizz have no reason to change anything. Why would they? They did what they wanted, and they didn’t just get away with it, they just got a great big huge thumbs up. They just got rewarded and so they think they did it right, but I don’t think they did.

Be fair warned this might sound like a rant. It isn’t really, just frustration because as The Grumpy Elf says, if he didn’t care then he wouldn’t complain. I like the game and there’s nothing wrong with wanting it to be better. I know the rider on that is better for whom? As obviously what I like and what others like are different things. For the purposes of this post I’ll just be talking about my perspective. However, I am well aware that it is just my perspective and one that a lot of people won’t share.

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Thoughts on Garrisons

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

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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Warcraft: Free Seven Days

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.

Enough is enough

In my last post I said that everything I write about Warcraft is negative right now, meaning less said the better. Well I wouldn’t read this then, it’s hardly a ray of sunshine. When the pre-order announcement went live, all the Warcraft people I follow on twitter lit up in their enthusiasm, I just felt even more negative. I said in my last post that I was basically asking myself should I quit, the answer being rather obviously yes. I also said that I wasn’t ready.

I have tried to give myself time. I have tried to ensure that I’m not rushing into any decision that I will come to regret. I have waited and waited in the hope that something would change. Nothing has and I’m sick of waiting.

I should never have started playing other games.

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The Blizzard Blues

I remember when I first started playing Warcraft. I looked at the subscription options and I wanted to take the 6 months one, or whatever the longest option was, as it was the best deal. My friend told me not to, he said that there may come a day when I want to unsubscribe for a while. If you’ve just paid for the next six months, then you can’t do that. I told my friend that I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to quit, but I took his advice anyway as the difference wasn’t huge.

Well now I can’t just imagine wanting to quit, I’m actively considering it. I won’t because I’m not ready to say goodbye. I like my guild, I like the in game friends I’ve made, I even like raiding just not as often as I currently have to. I’m not ready to quit the game but I’m really wishing that I could vote with my wallet. Complaining about blizz’s decisions and continuing to pay them money, after all gives them no incentive to change.

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5 mans, LFR and Choice

On WoWInsider they had a topic entitled – The return of hard heroic 5 mans. It referenced a blue post which said that 5 mans would be making a return in Warlords and that they would be harder than the Mists ones had been. I wrote a fairly long comment to the post, so it occurred to me that if I expanded on it a little it would make a good blog entry.

Let’s face it in Mists 5 man dungeons were sidelined. You could level in the normal mode ones, at the start of the expansion the 463 gear wasn’t bad and it filled in some holes. However, with LFR available and offering higher gear if you wanted to be optimal with your playtime, and were focusing on gearing, then 5 mans didn’t have a lot to offer. This only got worse as the expansion wore on and other options became available. True if you want to just play you can go run a 5 man, but if you want to play and achieve something at the same time than 5 mans don’t offer much.

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Warlords of Draenor

It’s Blizzcon time and they did announce the next expansion, well obviously they were going to. So I’m going to compare what I predicted and what they announced. I wish I could do a table but I don’t know how to do that. The website for Warlords of Draenor is up, as well as the feature trailer that they previewed at the opening ceremony.

I started writing this post right after the opening ceremony but realised that I couldn’t publish while new information was still coming out. I was writing something and then having to delete it as they explained the answer to my question. So I’ll probably be late to the blizzcon post party but hopefully what I write will make sense. Blizzcon isn’t over, they still have that big Q&A later but I reckon all the announcements are over now, so I’m going to post this. It’s already 5000 words, I know hardly anyone reads this blog but that’s still probably my longest post by a huge margin.

There’s some changes coming in Warlords and as usual some people like them, some people don’t. From my point of view there’s good and bad and I can’t wait for beta. I got into Mists beta thanks to the annual pass, and they’ve confirmed they aren’t doing another annual pass. I guess I can see why, I mean I got the annual pass and extra stuff to sub for a year, which I was going to do anyway, so they made a loss in that respect. So I might not be lucky enough to get a beta key whenever it does come out. It looked pretty far into development so I’m going to go out on a limb and say beta will be in out December/January. They need to get started on it really as otherwise the expansion won’t be released, and Siege of Orgrimmar will be out for too long, especially as they’ve said there isn’t going to be a patch 5.5. Anyway I hope it will be soon.

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