Has another year gone by already?

Thinking about the new year to come, well, that will unfold in its own time.

As I stand here looking back towards the year that was I smile.

It has certainly had some moments, both good and bad. Taking my que from such esteemed bloggers (and friends) as KestrelTamiLarisa,  Matticus, and Pike, amongst others that populate my feed reader I will give a bit of a look back.

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A glance, as it were, at the year that was.

January saw the death of my old gaming machine, and the arrival of it’s replacement. My hunter finally quit trying to make a broken spec work and I finally figured out a good use for DKP. Overall it was a good, if cold, month.

Early February bore witness to a one of the few pieces of fan fiction that I have made public with the (very) short story Blood in the Water. Towards the end of the month there was call to be happy as my Priest Morham (now renamed Dechion) became my second level 80, and the lights grew dimmer in the blogosphere as we said goodbye to one of my favorite blogs, Gun Lovin’ Dwarf Chick.

March was a very melancholy month for me, and it showed in my posts. I had to leave town for an unexpected funeral, those are never really a pleasant thing. The month also saw one of the first posts about an asshat, one I was guilded with no less.

As April dawned I reexamined my priorities, not just with WoW but with life as a whole. I lamented about always how we always seem to be waiting for the next big change, instead of playing the game as it exists.  Patch 3.1 blew up the servers and I nearly deleted my Priest in anger.

In May life was much busier outside game than in, causing me to spend a lot of time AFK. What I had going on in-game was not too pleasant either. I simply did not post about a lot of it. It did see my blogs first birthday and oddly enough me discussing PvP in a way that shows that I actually like it when it’s done right.

June was a time for family, particularly towards the end as my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. I did manage to squeeze in a short post about welfare epics, and a few looks at the upcoming 3.2 changes. Overall it was a quiet month.

In July real life critted again right before the fourth of July weekend.  Not for the first time, and surely not the last, I noticed WoW becoming more like a job than hobby and took a step back. I also wondered what people would ask if given a chance to talk to one of the game designers one on one.

August was a frustrating month, and most of my posts show it. I enjoy instancing, and I simply could not get in. I ended up so damn frustrated that I canceled my subscription. On the plus side, the problem was fixed before the time I had already paid for ran out.

September was a really lean month as far as the blog goes. I answered a few questions about why it is that I have so many Hunters, and why I have a priest at all. I also tried (in vain as it turned out) to change the direction of the blog. It is what it is, and shall stay that way.

October was an interesting month around here as I wrote about how Wow was for me more like an emotional vacation  from the stresses of life than a mountain to be conquered. I wrote of a way to level alchemy from nothing to 450 on the cheap, and then answering a question I received I put my money where my keyboard is and proved it could work by doing it.

As November arrived it brought with it the first of the microtransactions that I think will one day change the very nature of Warcraft. I pondered this as I asked folks to wake up and smell the future. I looked forward to the future of Warcraft in Cataclysm in the great retcon. I said thanks to veterans around the globe and ran with a ton of wonderful folks in Raid for the Cure.

December. We will just call December “The Month of Pugging Dangerously”. Thats putting it mildly. It was a whirlwind of pugging heroics. Right now the new tool is shiny and new, I am pugging my way along and for the most part having a grand old time. Pretty soon though, the shiny will wear thin and groups might be a little harder to come by.

I had a few problems with elitist prima donna’s  thinking the world revolves around them, and experienced a shiny and new (to me at least) exploit. On the plus side some of the comments got me to looking at ways I might be able to improve my own performance, and I am having fun trying out a few new things.

I also mentioned getting into tanking on my Death Knight. I even went so far as to set up a gear plan, but still have not actually run anything as a tank. Something about not wanting to be horrible at it.

Looking back at 2009 I am pretty happy with where things sit right now, both in game and out.

I wonder what the next year will bring.

WTF! Group Ninja?

I seem to have the most interesting luck using the dungeon finder, yesterday was no different. I started the day with one group of cross server guildies and ended a few runs later with another. The runs in between blur together in a haze of healing whack-a-mole, but the two on the end stand out.

In the first I picked up a group for The Caverns of Time: The Culling of Stratholme. One of the first things I noticed was that I was the odd man out, the other four players all being from the same cross server guild. (Man, I really should take more screenshots. You guys were awesome and deserve your 15 minutes of fame.)

Anyhow, right out of the box I get asked if I have a Shadow spec on my Holy priest. A bit of an odd question, but I told them that I do.

They then asked me to swap out to Dps, keeping Vampyric Embrace up for AOE healing. Put together with a few renews and the occasional flash heal it worked like a charm.

We proceeded to tear through the place like it was not even there. Hell, I quit putting DoT’s up on anything other than bosses. Everything else was down so fast it didn’t make sense to.

The thing that sticks out most in my mind though was what happened when we (easily) beat the timer. The boss was down and as always the Reins of the Bronze Drake dropped. All five of us passed, we all have one already.

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Now like book ends to my day there came another cross server group. All from the same server, and three from the same guild.

Actually I take that back, not like book ends at all. Book ends are the same, these were as different as night and day.

The last heroic of the day dropped me into Trial of the Champion, A short, fun, instance.

We go in and buff up in silence. Actually they were likely on vent, but I was not there to be social, I was there for the badges. Over all it was a slightly messy, but effective run.

I was having random minor lag spikes during this particular instance. I still don’t know why, as it was just that run that it happened during. Two times others paid for that with a repair bill.

No wipes, but two individual deaths.

The part that got me was what happened in less than 3 seconds from the time the Black Knight bit the dust. As he went down I was already casting a Prayer of Healing. I decided to let it finish to top folks off before hitting “disenchant” on everything and heading out for the night. I generally make sure everyone is topped off before I leave, mana is cheaper than food.

What happened you ask?

In less time than the heal took to cast I ended up standing back where I started in Dalaran.

I had been kicked from the party before the boss was looted, and was out of the instance by the time they saw what dropped.

Now that’s an interesting new way to be a ninja. I know Blizz wants doing things as a guild to be more attractive, but somehow I don’t think this is what they had in mind, so I let them know about the little exploit.

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Now, not only do I feel the need to let Blizzard know about this particular little exploit I think, as a community service, I should let all my wonderful readers know as well.

The funny thing is I don’t need a damn thing from that instance except for badges. Hell, I have even stopped greeding on the frozen orbs, I have nearly a full stack in the bank for crafting already. I just take pity of people with that have so little in their life that they feel obliged to steal…. nothing.

Pixels on a screen.

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So, here in the order of their Dps are the group of asshats that I plan to avoid in the future.

Or maybe just drop group on the first boss pull… If I ever see them again.

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I find it incredibly funny that the Rogue and both Death Knights are officers in the guild Axis of Justice. Oh the sweet irony. 

The Ret Pally from Storm Forged was not guilded with them, but a vote kick within seconds after the last boss drops is just a little to coincidental fo me.

So congratulations to Nocando, Giantswan, and Roxanna from Axis of Justice, and to Ortherion of Storm Forged on Dethecus. You have earned you 15 minutes of fame.

I bet your Mamma is so proud.

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Fourteen days later

Just fair warning, this post is a bit on the ranty side.

Ok, it’s more than a bit.

I am pissed.

I choose to write it here instead of in the comments sections of other blogs, or worse yet in the blue text of party chat.

Hey, what good is a blog if I can’t vent from time to time?

Just be advised, nothing constructive will come from reading past this point.

 I am going on vacation until next Monday, I’ll see you folks then. Stay safe and have fun.

You can simply take this happy holidays wish, a wave, and a smile and feel free to mark as read.

Still here? /sigh. Well, I guess you must be a glutton for punishment, but I am gonna rant now.

All of two weeks ago today patch 3.3 dropped in all its shiny new LFG goodness.

In that time I have had good and bad things happen.

I had the terribad failpug that I wrote about last week. That one is still the worst, though I have left three others now once they made clear that they were elitist pricks.

I have watched folks struggling with the content, only to end up getting driven from the group by folks that are simply mean.

I honestly can’t think of another way to describe it.

The vast majority of the players I have run across are quietly competent. The simply buff up at the entrance, perhaps say hello, and then roll through doing their job.

Occasionally I have run across people who have no clue what they are doing. Generally the groups I have been in will notice that within a few pulls and offer the less experienced player some advice. Sometimes there is an asshat with that wants to make themselves feel good by running a new player down. Usually there is only one like that, if any, and I have found they are not really that vocal if they don’t have a second elitist tool with them.

Apparently they believe in the safety in numbers thing, even in a virtual world.

I would have loved to have names for the pricks that bailed on us after wiping to wave eight four times at the beginning of one instance (Halls of Reflection, I believe). It was annoying how they wailed and cried saying that it was in fact the fault of the healer and other two Dps. It could not have been them because they were both “hardcore”. It really pissed me off when I found out that you can drop group and be ported out while in combat.

Thats exactly what those asshats did. The pally tank that couldn’t grab all the adds and the mage who apparently did not know how to use a threat meter. Good riddance to them.

Nice job, wipe number five.

It would have been nice to make them be the fly on the wall as we calmly put ourselves back into the que, picked up two more folks (who incidentally were far less “uber-hardcore” than those we had lost) and proceeded to one shot the rest of the instance.

There was only one more death, and that was right at the very end the Rogue went down at the same time as the last ice wall.

When it was all said and done I watched as all four of my party members rolled achievement spam for both normal and heroic.

Other than me, none had ever been there before.

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I have come to expect the occasional asshat while I am hitting up the random heroic. It’s just luck of the draw.

One thing that I am seeing that surprises me though is bloggers that come out as elitist asshats. I have been hearing whining about people purchasing gear with emblems since they started dropping in Karazhan. I am sick to death of it.

Seroiusly, go beat that dead horse elsewhere. I have no place for it in my feed reader.

Guess what you pompous jerks, people are going to get gear. It did not break the game then, and it won’t break the game now.

The only thing I can even fathom as a semi-legitimate whine is this somehow making it harder to tell peoples relative skill level by glancing at them in Dalaran.

Whatever…. I am seriously considering gathering a set of completely ridiculous gear to wear while I am in town. Diamond tipped cane, some low level crafted gear that is enchanted with strength, that kind of thing.

Oh, damn. I wonder if I can put a fiery enchant on my diamond tipped cane? That would look sweet.

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Back to the matter at hand though (as my mind is now whirling with plans to build a set of gear to annoy the gear score folks with).

I am sick of listening to the whining of the self aggrandizing fools those who think they are better than others. People that think that only they and their little band of buddies are worthy of actually playing the game.

I am tired of hearing about how other people are getting carried through heroics by tier 9 raiders.

I am sick to death of whiny prima donnas thinking that their shit don’t stink because they have shinier purples, or a guild tag from a more “leet” guild.

Over all I am sick of the elitist attitude that puts down other players instead of helping them get better.

If acting that way is the only way you can feel good about your self then I don’t want to play at your level. It’s rather sad really if you have to use how much better you are at a video game to justify yourself as “better” than others. It’s even worse when you feel the need to put others down just so you can feel better about yourself.

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Some play to beat the game, some just play for fun, and more than a few just to socialize.

Like Facebook but with much more to do.

I got news for you, you are no different from anyone else in the game.

You are not a special snowflake.

Those you group with are not all just extras in the movie about your life.

They are people, just like you.

Actually I take that back.

They are like you, only with manners.

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I have news for you. I don’t look up in awe at your leetness, I pity you.

Now get out of my pug and go hang out with yout leet friends.

You can all be leet together, and strut about basking in each others leetness.

The great Retcon

When I first got the game and began leveling up I remember distinctly being told that the game began at 60. Raiding was where it was at, everything else was merely hurdles to overcome to get there.

Obstacles placed in the way by the games designers so that only the worthy would persevere through it all.

Raiding was the real game, everything else just got in its way.

I bought it, hook, line, and sinker.

 

I started that day looking at all the zones and quests starry-eyed, filled with wonder, like I was part of a story that was ongoing. I was happy to be where I was, discovering things as I went.

Once I bought into the game starting at the level cap that all went away.

Leveling up was no longer fun, it was an obstacle in my way. Less a lore filled joy to experience and more something to simply get through as efficiently as possible. So I turned on instant quest text, grabbed some addons, and started smashing my way through.

 

I no longer looked at each quest, I didn’t have to.

The arrow told me where to run.

The mousover told me what to kill.

The sparkles told me what to gather.

Then the arrow told me where to go turn it in.

It was fast, efficient, and boring as hell.

No one likes doing chores, and that is exactly what leveling had become.

I look back on it now and realize I was wrong.

 

The game does not begin at the level cap. The game begins at the character creation screen.

I would hazard a guess and say that 95% of the content of the game has to do with something other than the level cap.

There are stories out there, great stories, just waiting for me to be a part of them.

Unfortunately I already did them, blazing through with quests unread, just following the arrow under my feet.

I didn’t just kill critters as I quested away, I killed a huge chunk of the game for myself.

 

That’s why I am so looking forward to Cataclysm, it is going to give us something people only dream about in real life.

A fresh start.

A chance to live out the dream of  “If only I had known then what I know now.”

 

Cataclysm is going to be just that, for me at least.

I plan to roll a shiny new character, currently planning on a druid, and turning off all the helpers.

I will read the quests and follow the story where it leads me.

I am not even going to spoil the new areas by blowing through them to get to 85. With the new Looking for Group tool I can instance my way through those five levels on my level 80’s without ever leaving town.

Most of all I will keep in mind that leveling is not a chore to be done, nor is it an anchor holding me back.

It’s 95% of the game, and I plan to have fun with it.

I’d love to, if I only had the time

I have read a few posts this morning while catching up on my feed reader. Well over a hundred just from this weekend actually. In there were quite a few gems, I am going to talk about a pair of them now.

Euripides over at Critical QQ wrote a rather interesting post about his lack of enthusiasm about the lore while raiding. He goes so far as to say that the boss does not really even need graphics or fancy named abilities, and could in fact be a featureless blue cube named “boss”.

Both Larisa and Elina at the Pink Pigtail Inn chimed in with their thoughts as well about reconciling the story behind the game to the mechanics of it.

They are both good reads, go check them out.

Seriously, go read… I need to go make a fresh pot of coffee anyhow.

Back? Good.

 

Here, very briefly is my take on the story behind the game and how it relates to the actual playing of it.

I love the stories behind the game, I really and truly do. In fact I think Blizz has done a good job of bringing the stories to life. They have lots of interweaving plotlines, some spanning several zones and levels.

The stories as I see it fall into two categories. Tales told while leveling and tales from endgame. Sometimes they tie together, such as the Shadowmoon Valley quests leading to Black Temple. Sometimes they kind of drop the ball (we are in TOC for what reason again? I must have missed it since I hate jousting.)

The problem with the lore while leveling is the speed at which we now do it. Seriously, Diashan, my Death Knight, did parts of Hellfire, Negrand, and Terrorkar before hitting 68 and shipping out to Northrend. I use to hit 70 somewhere in Netherstorm.

Where I used to run out of quests in a zone and have to go find another my Shaman (at 18 i think) is having quests go green or grey. She is leaving zones half complete simply because she has outleveled the content.

Am I bitching? No. I chose to put the shoulders on her, I bought the breastplate, I choose to only level her rested. I am just making a point. Those with refer-an-alt will outlevel it even faster.

I think that one of the things I am most looking forward to in Cataclysm is the whole reworked leveling experience. I look forward to working my way through and actually finishing a questline before it goes grey on me. I have actually put off leveling a couple of alts for now, just because I want to see what’s in store for me.

Hell, I am almost tempted to put all my affairs in order and take a break till the expansion. I won’t since I have so much fun running with the Sidhe Devils, but I will definitely be backing off a bit.

Now lore in raids and instances is another story. The stories are grand, the characters are well developed, and the artwork is phenomenal.

At least thats what I see on videos.

You see, in an instance I am far to busy watching health bars, cooldown timers, aggro meters, deadly boss mods warnings, and staring at my fet to make sure I am not standing in green goo/fire/void zone/spilled kool-aide or whatever the random “kills you if you don’t move” crap is for that particular fight.

If I want to see what the boss looks like I go to youtube or tankspot or any number of other places to see it. When I am engaged in the fight itself I simply don’t have the time, especially if I am on my Priest. I glance away from the green bars… hell, I blink at the wrong time… and we all die.

It’s not that I don’t want to look around, it’s that I simply can’t spare the concentration. I wonder if they still put sound effects in the raids? Myself, I can’t afford that distraction either. I haven’t raided with the sound on since Karazhan. If it’s not on vent, I simply don’t hear it.

Want to solve the lack of healers problem Blizz? Make it less like playing whack-a-mole while trying not to blink.

I’ll try to answer the question simply. Yes I would love to get involved in the lore, I hope to get far more involved once Cataclysm comes. While I am raiding though, I  just can’t do it.

I’d love to, I simply don’t have the time.

Flavor over function

I was doing a bit of reading today and came across an interesting article  on Married IRL.

Not to spoil it for you but she feels strongly that with the removal of priest racials priests should be allowed to do a paid race change for their character. Actually she does not mention priests specifically but it is what brought it up. I see the point to what she is saying and decided to throw out my 2 coppers worth on it.

I originally was against the removal of the priest racials, despite having a human priest who really loses nothing. Now I am not only in favor of reworking them for priests, but for all classes. No one should ever feel pigeon holed into taking a race they don’t like simply to get a “must have” racial ability.

I got grief Horde side for leveling a troll hunter instead of an orc. Simple, I took him for the bonuses with bows and the berserking for the haste it provided. I intended him to be an MM hunter all along and so the extra pet damage was not my priority. The lore and look was better for the tauren, but I chose skills that would help instead of the character I wanted.

I was asked why I chose a human for my priest. I chose him because of the bonus to reputation. He was a rerolled character and I had no desire to grind to revered with every shopkeeper and his dog in outlands just to run heroics. The spirit bonus and extra Zomg! heal of desperate prayer played into that as well.

Both of my hunters Alliance side are Draeni. not because I like them particularly but because they get a bonus to their hit rating and an extra heal over time with Gift of the Naaru. It’s a bit harder to kill my pet with 2 hot’s ticking on him than with just mend pet. And it also comes in handy raiding to keep myself up when the healers are busy. All things being equal I would have rather had Dwarves.

I had this Epiphany when I was looking into the Death Knight I intend to roll when the expansion hits. I want a Dwarf or Human for the look and lore, but I was thinking more on the racials than anything else. That is what made me decide that the way they are set up now needs to be reworked.

What we need are racials that give no in combat advantage. There are already several out there like that. Humans diplomacy for rep gains, Dwarven treasure finding, Tauren with herbalism, and Gnomes with engineering bonuses come to mind right off. I know there are more. I don’t want the racials to define the class, merely to give it more flavor.

Reworking them so that there would be no groundbreaking “must have this to get my raid spot” skills, just ones to give the race flavor, would be a great start. An even better one would be when the reworking is done to treat it kind of like refunding talent points. The next time you log into that character you could, one time only, change from the race you thought you had to take to the one you wish you could have.

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