You’re Grounded!

So, Insomnia is a damn nuisance.

It does however give me extra time to read up on things and even toss out the occasional blog post. Good with the bad I suppose.

Anyhow, The reason I brought you all here today was to talk about flight. More specifically flight in the new old world of Draenor.

Based on a few blue posts I have read today it appears that flight will be used as a gating mechanism, preventing players from trivializing the content of the leveling zones. That part I can understand. No flight until max level.

Well, it appears that there will be some progressive storyline type questing at the level cap which makes it valuable to the experience Blizzard is trying to provide to continue not having flight available. You know what, that doesn’t bother me either.

I work with machinery in my daily life, I work with interconnected systems. For some reason it just seems right to me that we don’t fly until max level. Quite honestly had they decided to not ever allow flight in Draenor I would have been OK with it.

Alright, I may have grumbled a bit, but it would simply have been how things are.

With new longer term storyline questing at max level and such I see the logic. Frankly if I have to give up flight in order to never do another daily quest I’ll take that trade.

Where it sounds like they may be making a grave error is the way I interpreted what it will take to fly again. A long and involved quest chain, the end of which won’t be available until after patch 6.1, and a “sizable” sum of gold. Both of those are meant to make you work for it, to try to re-achieve that feeling we had years ago when we hit 70 and were able (if you could afford the 500g) to fly for the first time.

Believe it or not, I don’t mind that. Make me work for something, and it gives me a goal to attain. The harder the task the more I’ll appreciate the reward.

There is something that worries me in all this however.

Alts.

I love me some alts, so do many of you. I know people right now with nearly every class at max level, both Horde and Alliance side. What about them?

Are they going to have to slog thru the same long involved quest line on a dozen characters just so everyone can fly?

Is Blizzard going to have a mechanism similar to the WotLK method where a max level character with flight unlocked could buy a tome of flight for the upcoming alts? I sincerely hope so.

I wonder, this is just a thought, if Blizzard is trying to gear the game more towards having one single Main character. One to be in charge of the garrison, one to be able to fly, one to be able to do all the things.

One Character to Rule them all.

I guess time will tell.

First thoughts on Mythic raiding

Once upon a time, actually last time we went to Draenor I was an officer in a raiding guild. Oh, and It was called Outlands back then… in the future.

Speaking of, did anyone else just see Garrosh driving past in a funny looking DeLorean?

Anyhow, I got home from work last night and tried in vain to find a copy of the opening ceremonies to watch. Failing that I started trolling the WoW news sites looking for info. Several things caught my eye. I think I’ll write about the new raiding format first.

The gist of what I got from it is that all raids will be availible in a scaling flex format from 10-25 raiders, with the exception of the new “Mythic” raids which will be a fixed 20 player format.

One of the first things I read scrolling past on twitter after that announcement was that the worst 5 players on your 25’s team just got real scared.

Well, honestly the ones whos jaws probably hit the floor hardest were the guild leadership of 10’s guilds. They were just basicly told to double their roster if they want to do cutting edge content.

I’m really not sure how I think this will all shake out yet honestly. It should be better than the transition from 40’s to 10’s (for Karazhan) then to 25’s. I know that 10 to 25 step killed a lot of guilds, mine included.

With the ability to raid at a flexible size at all other difficulty levels I don’t really see it having a huge effect on the more casual raiding guilds. Possibly a bit more turnover as some gear up and move on to higher progressed guilds at end game, but thats always been the case.

What I expect is to see quit a lot of turmoil as things sort themselves out, and there will arise guilds designed to field a 20 player team. They will raid normals as 20’s and carry right on thru to mythic without a blip.

More casual guilds on the other hand might have any number of raiders (well, from 10-25 on a given night) and may even try to field a 20’s team if the numbers are there.

In the long term I see it as a positive thing, but a lot of  good guilds will die to get there, especially smaller ones. Even those that don’t will be forever changed.

For myself, I doubt I’ll ever see the inside of a mythic raid. Normals is plenty for me.

Dech’s top five things I hope to hear about WoW at Blizzcon

Yes, I know. Its been a while.

Anywho, I’m popping in to share my top five things I hope to hear over the next few days at Blizzcon. Without further ado..

5. The next expansion questing will be more free range and less “on rails”

4. The next expansion will come with one free server transfer

3. The next expansion will feature raiding thats less mario brothers and twitch reflexes

2. Heirlooms will become available cross server

1. While I’m dreaming Karazhan will have the basement finished and be refurbished for max level play. (that alone and I’m back)

I seriously doubt I’ll hear any of these, but I can always hope.

Good for us? certainly a goldmine for Blizzard

I was sitting in the maintenance shop this morning, waiting for something to break. As I was waiting I was thinking, mostly because it beats staring at the wall counting the number of cinderblocks they built the place out of.

I thought about a lot of things, but one thought that struck me really hit hard. As in, hard enough to get me to kick the dust off this blog again and do some writing.

Instead of wandering thru the thread of how my mind came to be asking me this question, I’m simply going to put forth the potential goldmine Blizzard is not tapping and see what you folks think.

In the game World of Tanks there are three kinds of XP to be had. Locked, Free, and Convertible.

Locked XP is exactly what it sounds like. It’s XP earned by a given tank that must be spent on that tank.

Free XP is a bit different. 5% of all XP earned is automagicly granted as Free XP, which goes into a pool that is available to be spent on any tank you wish. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up after a while.

Convertible XP is any XP earned by a tank that is already maxed out on leveling. It goes into a separate pool that can be converted into Free XP, if you desire, for real world cash.

Now imagine that Blizzard adopted a similar plan for WoW.

Locked XP earned by anyone leveling.

Free XP earned as a 5% bonus on top of any XP earned on any toon.

Convertible XP earned on any toon with it’s leveling locked. At max level players would get the choice of the extra gold per quest or earning convertible XP.

People that want to level the normal way would not be effected at all.

People that have more money than time could convert XP earned on their main to quickly level an alt to play with friends. 

People that are on their 38th alt and simply can’t make themselves level thru Wrath again could “Free XP” past it and move on to Cata.

Say for instance that the only thing you play for is high end PvP, or end game raiding… say that you despise leveling and just suffer thru it to get to play the actually content you want. Well, this would let you spend this expansion banking convertible XP that you could use to bypass the questing next time out. (For a price of course)

Thats only one example, I’m sure others can think of lots more.

As to the argument that it would have characters showing up at max level without a clue how to play their class, it’s not a good argument for many reasons. Here are two: 1) leveling thru questing is primarily a solo Dps exercise. It doesn’t teach group tactics, healing skills, or tanking ones for that matter. 2) You can already grab pet battling at level 5 and (in theory at least) level to max using nothing but that.

This is not to say that people won’t get to max and not know how to play, it’s simply stating that it already happens.

All in all it would give Blizzard another knob to tweak on the leveling process to adjust the speed while at the same time giving them what could be a very solid revenue stream once WoW finally does go free to play.

Just a thought, but seriously, why hasn’t this happened yet?

Dusting off the blog

Well, its been a while. Too long in fact. I love to write and just kind of stopped when I stopped playing a game that there was something to write about.

Over the next week or so that’s going to be a bit different.

You see, I’m headed for gencon.

Its kind of a bucket list thing for me, and I’m quite excited.

The plan is to post a bit about the experience here,  post pic, make notes,  that kind of thing.

I’ll also be tweeting about things quite a bit I’m sure. If you’d like to follow that feed its at @Dechion.

Anyhow, lunch is over so its back to work.

Later I think ill post about what I’m planning to pack.

World of Tanks, a different style of PvP

Not so very long ago I decided I would try World of Tanks. A friend highly recommended it, even though he knows I am not a fan of PvP.

He said it’s different than World of Warcraft’s version of PvP, and its a lot more fun.

He could not have been more right.

I have played about a thousand matches now. Not enough to be an expert by any means, but enough that I have a decent grip on the basics. I’ll be going over those in upcoming posts. For today, I just want to take a look at the two games I really enjoy, and see where the differences lie.

First off, I am only going to address the PvP portion of WoW, as compared to WoT. I can’t compare the character development, side games, or role playing aspects when only one game has those. Simply put, for PvE, it’s WoW all the way.

In each game you control one unit on a digital battlefield.

In each game there are different types of units. Granted, one group is made up of fantasy characters and the other of armored vehicles, but the underlying concept is the same.  Unlike Starcraft for instance, where you control all the units.

In each game, in theory at least, the individual units are relatively well balanced against one another. Some are better equipped or slightly higher in level, but once again the concept is very similar.

One glaring difference is that each player in WoT gets one life per battle, whereas in WoW you get unlimited lives thru respawning. The closest WoW gets to this is the reinforcement counts in some battlegrounds that limit the total deaths per side.

This causes a very different mindset when it comes to the game. With only a single life per game, it matters much more how that one life is spent.

Another difference brought about by this is the way matches are scored.

In WoW, generally, it’s a capture the flag style game. You need to achieve an objective while at the same time holding another. Even in Alterac Valley, you need to kill the enemy leader while defending yours (though he can defend himself somewhat as well).

In WoT there is the capture the flag element as well, though the flag captures are more like capturing a graveyard in WoW PvP, where you hold the position until it becomes yours. Do that, before the enemy caps your flag and your team wins.

The other way, and the way perhaps 80% of the WoT matches I have been involved in end up, is with extermination of the opposing team. Most battles last about 10 minutes or so, though they time out after 15.

In both games, the matches are a lot of fun. I do think that WoT is more balanced, but since thats the only thing they balance for its much easier to do, in my opinion.

One of the largest differences, other than the single life per match, is how advancement is handled.

In WoW you can have up to 50 characters per account, 11 per server. In WoT, as far as I know you could have every single tank in the game. It would be prohibitively expensive since you start with 5 or 6 garage slots and have to buy more with meatspace money, but you could do it if your pockets were deep enough.

The biggest difference is in WoT you get to keep your progression.

There are 10 tiers of tanks in this game, and generally you will be facing tanks within one or two tiers of yourself. I say that to say this.

Lets just say, as a for instance, that I level a WoW character up to a given level bracket. Lets just say 19 to have a number. I can then take him out and gear him up, increasing his relative worth in that bracket.

However, I have to choose whether to stop advancing with him or not. That choice affects who my opponents will be as well. Now, lets say I would also like to play in the 20-25 bracket. I have the option of leveling another character, or progressing the one I already have.

If I go up, everything I have is useless, and I am now locked out of playing in the lower bracket.

If I level an alt, I now must grind my way up to and past the other character in order to get where I want to be. In short, I’m not doing what I want to be doing (PvPing in the 20-25 bracket) I’m out in Durotar questing my way to 20.

In WoT on the other hand, the leveling system is different. Once you buy a tank at whatever tier, its forever at that tier. It can be improved thru playing however. As the tank gains XP you unlock improvements to it, and the crew gets more efficient. Eventually, you have enough XP to unlock the next tank in the line.

If you decide to buy that next tank as well, congrats, you have a new one that needs some love to get “geared up”. You also still have your old one, crew and all. The next patch won’t come along and make you regrind all your equipment again.

I think for someone who PvP’s as casually as I do, WoT is just a better model. A can, and have, walked away for five or six months, only to come back and pick up right where I left off.

Now, this post is already about twice the length I thought it would be. To avoid tossing out a whole book all at once, I’m going to stop here, after just chatting about these gameplay differences.

I could easily dump another thousand words on the financial differences of a subscription modal and a free to play with microtransactions model. Thats a post for another day though.

Until then, keep your head down and your powder dry.

See you on the battlefield.

It could happen tomorrow

Hello again folks,

By the time you read this, I’ll most likely be offline. I’m writing this from the warmth and comfort of my living room, something I’m sure I’ll be wishing I had soon enough. Within an hour or two after it goes live I’ll be in the middle of nowhere. To be exact, I’ll be deep in a Wisconsin state park testing myself and my gear.

For many years I have heard “carry the following things in your trunk every winter”  followed by a list of various items. I have faithfully done so for many years. I always wondered though, what would happen if I really needed to use those supplies.

What if the shit really did hit the fan?

Well, this week, from Monday the thru Friday I’ll be finding out.

Why do this you ask?

I say, why not?

What better way to find out if what I carry really is enough for a true emergency than to test it?

Here, let me explain in my first video blog:

Getting Ready

With any luck ill get enough pictures and/or video of my excursion to make another post or two for next week. Also with any luck the video quality will be a bit better. First time is for learning right?

Well, I suppose I’m off for now. Time to tie up a few loose ends before I go.

Have an awesome week.

I’ll catch you all on the flipside.

Goin Postal

An odd bit of synergy happened last week. I was at work listening to Tauren Think Tank, a great podcast about Wow, and oddly enough they started talking about work. (For those that don’t already know, I work for the US Postal Service)

In particular, they were talking about making Garrosh the postmaster of the Azerothian post office after he loses his job as warchief.

Now, I thought that was kinda fun sounding. Even better would be making him his own faction, complete with daily quests.

You see, in the wake of the cataclysm the Azerothian post has been struggling. Portals were destroyed, trade routes disrupted, and worse yet the Venture Company is trying to muscle in on the delivery business.

For years they have worked quietly in the background, and now they need the help of heroes like you.

There will be awesome new daily quests, and not just the package delivery you might expect.

In The Pony Express you will be asked to ride a route as fast as you can, making deliveries along the way. Similar to ram running at brewfest, but with a few twists you’ll have to discover on your own.

Ridin Shotgun is a quest reminiscent of the supply delivery quests you Horde folks might remember from The Barrens. Nothing quite like getting chased down by hordes of Venture Company employees to make your trigger finger itchy.

Now, Our troops on the front lines are always looking for that next letter from home. In Air Mail you will join with Harrison Jones once again to fly bags of mail to the troops. Watch out for Venture Company planes that try to knock you down, after all, every delivery you make is money out of their pocket!

Now, for those that accept the challenge there are great rewards to be had. Here are a few examples.

Starting at Friendly, and continuing as your standing improves, you will receive a 5c discount on all mailings, and they will arrive 10 minutes earlier. By the time you make it to exalted your mail will only cost 10c and will arrive in 20 minutes!

At honored the Pep-R Spray trinket becomes available. The trinket allows even non-rogues to blind an opponent once every 5 minutes. (Subject to diminishing returns, etc)

At revered enchanters gain access to Pattern: Enchant Boots Gort-Ex. Decreases damage from ground effects by 30% and provides a minor run speed increase.

And finally at Exalted even non-Engineers will now be able to place their very own portable mailbox!

There are other quests and rewards still in the works, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what they are.

Dech’s easy peasy chicken and dumplings

It’s a quiet morning today.

My wife and kids all either at work for the day, or off to classes. I, on the other hand, had the day off.

A perfect day to get some quality WoW time in on my Hunter.

Well, Elune was apparently displeased with me, so my WoW client was busted when I got up for the day. I was planning on making a nice post about leveling leather working and such, but that will have to wait.

Instead, you lovely folks are stuck with me reminiscing about cooking while I watch the download slider inch towards the yellow.

Not the first time I have done that here, but such is life. In the past I have shared recipes for my pulled pork, and a few other odds and ends. Today it’s easy comfort food. For my family that means chicken and dumplings.

Mmmmmm…. chicken and dumplings.

********************

Dech’s easy peasy chicken and dumplings.

Da mats:

2.5 pounds of chicken leg quarters

3 ribs of celery, chopped

1 large onion, chopped

2 chicken bullion cubes

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 can (10 3/4 oz) cream of chicken soup

2  1/4 cups of bisquick (or other baking mix)

2/3 cup milk

Da method:

Chicken Phase:

Place the chicken, bay leaves, salt, pepper, garlic powder, bullion cubes, celery, and onion in a stock pot with 4 quarts of water over high heat.

Once it comes to a boil, drop the heat to a simmer and hold it there for about 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot, and set it aside in a bowl. When it cools off enough to not burn yourself pull the meat off the bones. Toss the skin and bones. We only want the meat, and we want it kinda shredded.

While you are in the neighborhood, pull out the bay leaves and toss them too. No sense biting into one of those later =P

Put the torn up meat back in the pot, add the can of cream of chicken soup, and bring it back to a simmer.

If the stew part ends up a bit to thin for your taste, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to about 1/4 cup of water and whisk it in before going on to the dumpling phase.

Dumpling Phase:

Make your dumplings according to whatever baking mix you bought. If it’s Bisquick you’ll use 2 1/4 cup mix and 2/3 cup of milk. Pull it out in large spoon fulls, and add to the simmering stew.

Gently spin the pot so that the dumplings sink down a bit and are fully covered, but don’t stir after you add the first one.

Keep simmering until the dumplings float and aren’t all doughy any more, about 4-5 minutes.

Da servin:

I like to use warm bowls for this, it just seems to work the best. I just put a stack on the stove near the pot for the last half hour or so and it keeps everything nice and warm while its getting served.

Hope you all enjoy it as much as my family does!

A golden opportunity

Since my work hours and environment changed I have noticed something. I spend about 30 to 40 minutes a day on my phone. You know, the thing I’m writing this post on…
Ill be sitting on break, or on lunch, and just start goofing around. I check on my auctions in WoW, though I can’t do anything with them without my authenticator.
That takes all of a minute or so, and then I’m playing app games on my phone like Plague inc. or Oregon trail.
Sometimes I will pop into guild chat, though every time my screen saver engages the silly app logs me out.
There are several ways I think Blizzard could make their app experience better.
First would be to have chat with realid/battlenet friends available just like guild chat is now, preferably with a way to leave a message for those not currently online. That would be awesome.
Second, and a potential gold mine for Blizz, would be to create an app that would allow me to work my farm, or possibly fish, or even both, from my phone.
I’d actually pay good money if they put an app in my App Store that would let me fill in the downtime I have in my day with a little bit of WoW mini-game action.
Am I alone?
Anyone else see giant dollar signs above this idea?