Saturday, July 5, 2014

Ding! 88 [sic]

Hrm. Strange. I don't have a ding for 87. I'll have to see if I can't turn that up.

I was going to wait until I dinged again to post and had something more useful to say about my return to Azeroth, but after bbr's timely comment on my last post, I figured a quick Ding! is better than no post at all. Note that I'm backdating to the time of the ding, as I normally do.


bbr asks, "How active are you of late?" Ha.  Not at all. In fact, I think it's time to admit that WoW has reached the same stage that my Ultima Online play reached, well, well over six years ago. I'm a tourist. That's it.

I'd read a bit about the new expansion that's coming soon, fondly remembered Lorewalker Cho, and figured I'd shell out for another month to ding 90. Not sure if I'll make it, though I'm spitting distance away from 89 now.

About all I've noticed is that there are lots more "store" buttons. Other than that, uninspired play. I mean, the sights are nice, and it's enjoyable, but still no real engagement. I still want the same stuff I always ask for -- weave back in older areas. Recognize things Jal did when he was younger. I mean, my achievements for the Old World are essentially at 0%. You'd think I played WotLK more than any other, and that's hardly the case. Give me credit for obsolete quests. He's an old timer, and should be recognized for it.

Give me quests for items that seem important. I want achievable, soloable epics. They can be as low-powered as you want, but I want to have something fun to work for, some story that doesn't require raiding.

I don't know. The game feels the same. The same buffalo-like creatures roam the wild. Vultures of a new color are flapping around. Highborne ghost equivalents are haunting some new temple, still screaming at me. Second verse, same as the first, just with better textures.

And good heavens the game is too easy to solo. I'm just putting in the time, doing the quests, dying when I pull too large a group out of extreme boredom.

So, again, still fun, but I'm a tourist. That's all at this point.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Ding! 86


Long time, no ding.  Nearly two years and five months since Jalindrine's gone up a level!  Wow.  I've been playing this game too long.  Heck, this blog is over six years old, and it started when Jal was already level 62 and over two years old himself.  I've been playing over eight years?  Sheesh.

Moving along...  ;^D

I fell into some after-work time this week and finally feel off of the wagon.  I received the collector's edition of Mists as a gift months ago, so I figured I'd finally put in my unlock code, slap down my $15, and play for a few hours rather than grift more under 20 free time.

It's been fun.  I'm starting to re-realize why I liked this game so much.  Even though it's still been pretty grindy, I've enjoyed soloing and running a few old Cat instances.  Justice points have appreciated quite a bit since last I played, so it's a no-brainer to run a Cat regular dungeon once a day, where my rust isn't a big hindrance.  When you're with some 84s who haven't gotten to Mists, even poorly managed DPS is insanely good.

There's still lots of folks dropping from LFG groups as soon as you hit the instance, however, much like there was shortly before I signed Jal off last time.  I don't get it.  If you want a specific instance, queue just for that instance.  If you want the daily bonus, what about the Lost City (the zone I hit today) isn't to like? It's fast, and you're quickly in the points.  Even so, we had our tank drop the second we got in.

I mean, I guess I do get it, but it's sad there are so many virtual-life flakes.  Maybe there are just a few instances you don't want, and you think you want to get in asap figuring one of those won't come up (though with the number of drops I see almost before your free round of buffs, that's probably not it).  Or you'd kinda like to instance, but you decide you've got something more important to do (watch TV, finish your quest, whatever) when your number's called.  But goodness, bad manners.  ;^)

So we sat around for a while.  I was tempted to get back to leveling and rejoin LFG.  It's great to have healz, as that's half the limiting reagents, and we all obviously didn't want to get in the back of the LFG line, but we sat around for probably a good five minutes before we figured we'd give Jal a shot off-tanking a four-person group.


Enjoyably, it worked!  If you bring up that image, above, original size, you can see another dps say, "if we can get past the general, you're hired."  And though I ended up going panzerkin mid-way through the General (wait, what?  The first panzerkin appearance since BC?!!), we did make it through that first sub-boss.  Luckily, a tank joined us at the end of or immediately after we took the General down, and we quickly finished the instance.  And yes, I did roar the loose mob in the picture back shortly after hitting PrtScn.  Ooops.

Now look, being able to tank a regular Cat instance is not impressive.  I'm a 85+ level, partially Mists-geared druid running a Cat regular, but with good healz, it was no problem.  Shoot, you could probably throw a well-equipped squishy in and do what I did.  But it was fun.  I even remembered how to swipe and roar mobs who lose threat back to me.

At some point, I need to learn another spec and become competent at it.  I keep thinking that should be resto, but it seemed like tanks were becoming pretty scarce too at the end of my last run.

Anyhow, there you go.  Pandaria's okay.  It helped to have taken a six-month break, I'm sure, as when I took my free ten days of Mist back in December, I really didn't play too much at all.  The typical expansion inflation has happened, and it's hard to think they aren't going to re-calibrate experience points at some point.  Really, 8.7 million for level 86?  Getting a little ludicrous.

I have noticed that the level took a while.  I played two good sessions before leveling, even though patch 5.3 apparently made each level 33% quicker to achieve (how do they do that?  Is 8.7 XPs only 2/3rds of what folks used to get, or are mobs, etc, worth 33% more?  Guessing the former -- wow, 13 million?!!  It's time to take off a few zeroes).  The expansion has given me a pretty good bit of soloing so far, and the level design is less stodgy and slapped together than, say, Vashj'ir felt.  Though, admittedly, Lorewalker Cho is probably the only really memorable character yet.  Well, him, Sully, Gizmo and Socks.


Poor Socks.  Oh, that might be a small spoiler.

I may try a monk later, and do want to get back to my Death Knight in Outland a little, but we'll see how long my latest Azeroth visit lasts.  I'll probably cancel now and ride out the month rather than "accidentally" let it renew, which has been known to happen.

Fun to be back, even if I'm ultimately just visiting.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

First panda!

Haven't upgraded yet, though I would like to try out a monk. But last night, my first time back in since Mists, I caught sight of my first panda at the Brewfest.




In other news, as I slooooowly work my way to FLAMING TREANTS, this improved moonkin form is begging me to get the astral form glyph.


Moonkin want to be free, not armored.  Remember when we could panzerkin and tank IN THE BUFF?!!!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Must... get... Flaming... Treants

Okay. I nearly gave up. I paid my cash, and played twice in a month. Twice. I don't have time for WoW any more. I'd like to play, but I've just plain got too much going on.

Until tonight. I could play tonight. I took the MacBook to work to take advantage of the super-fast internets, as the last two times I tried to play I lost tons of time waiting for updates to download. Good thing I did -- about two gigs before I could start up (see above). And I've only got a week or so to finish... I doubt as many folks will be leveling alts in Cat instances once MoP is out.

So it's tonight. I've got a preferred bitter drink, my Razer Naga hooked up, and I'm all ready for a 2-3 hour push to get my FLAMING TREANTS!!1! And then, wham, it hits me as I try to log in to battle.net -- long story short, I gave my phone to someone else (after resetting it, of course), so I no longer have my authenticator.

ARGH.

To remove the old authenticator, Blizzard asks for your driver's license. No, RLY. Seriously, my Amazon account isn't protected this well.


You may have caught wind of the teapot tempest over Matt Honan's getting hacked by some clever social engineering. You really don't think about how much stuff you've got sitting in your cloud-based email account until, well, you do. It's insane the amount of info you've got there if you don't erase it after downloading.

Why we don't have authenticators for all the cloud-based services, I don't know. Funny that, until Honan's deal convinced me to sign up for more secure services, my Battle.net account was likely my most secure bit of clouded information.

Compulsory note: If you find authenticators, action, guns, more action, and MMORPGs interesting, you should read REAMDE, now.

NO, NOW. KINDLE-I-FY AND READ REAMDE NOW.


If I can't play, nobody can. Seriously, the book's pretty good. Not Stephenson's best (yes, that's my review at the top right now), but very, very good, and germaine to today's blog post.

Sheesh. I sent you my driver's license already. I hope your SSL worked. Let's go! ;^D

EDIT: Ha, to view the status of my ticket to remove my authenticator, I -- yes, you got it -- have to have my authenticator.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Does WoW drive hardware sales?


Quick post: I know lots of folks like to have great rigs, and I've written earlier on how hardware affects gaming. Again, I think everyone in my blogroll should consider putting their rig's specs on their template. Faster hardware is often like the feeling the first time you get prescription glasses. Hello, new world.

But how far does this go? My $20 investment (same link as above) was a no brainer. But a video card "starting at $299"? Does WoW drive sales like that?

I'd be tempted to say no, but I've had guildies who wouldn't stop talking about their liquid-cooled boxen -- one years ago in particular lived, if you believe him, in Alaska, and said he'd run it with the window open so his new card would stay cooler.

People do drop console-level cash on video cards. If they do it for WoW, I wonder why. Are there raids where you really need it? Is it at least partially a class-specific kind of thing? What classes and encounters benefit most from phat hardware? Is it just for those who like to record movies for their guild (which does take a little extra CPU, at least)? I mean, heck, even I don't like to instance on my MacBook, and it's not all that bad. (Here, I'm again reminded of when I used to run on 800x600 soloing on my iBook...)

How do you "know" when you have enough? When can you tell someone's got too much?

EDIT: Looking back, I see "affordability" mentioned in the ad for video cards that start at $299. Does anyone really let that effect their buying? Really? "Hey, Newegg says $299 is affordable! It must be!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Ironyca's "Myths and Urban Legends in WoW" – The Bengal Tiger Cave

There are blogs you read for kickarse theorycrafting info (Graylo's Grey Matter) and ones just because they're interesting and usually pretty thought provoking (Lissanna's Restokin or Spinks' Welcome to Spinksville! (though, wow, please stop playing Star Wars already!  ;^D), but the blog that is a legitimate treat every time it pops into my RSS reader is Ironyca's Ironyca Stood in the Fire. (The other blog in my blogroll that's more "literature" than magazine? Cricket Bread, though that's not WoW related in the least, except to remind me that there are better things to be doing than playing WoW -- this is the guy who started the Crop Mob movement.)

The stuff at Ironyca's really has an archivist's and an academic's flair.  Not an industrialist academe, determined to, you know, be relevant by applying whatever theory has their goat to today's hot game (okay, no, really, GTA deserves your attention), but a, "Politics and fads be damned; I'm going to do good work and start chronicling and commenting on this [sub]culture," kind of academic. (Though she's light on the Deleuze.)

So I've been meaning to blog this particular post with more context, but I'm going to stop waiting and share the latest excellent series of material Ironyca's been putting together.  Honestly, if you can't let her work spin you forward a few steps, you're not really interested in non-self-hedonistic WoW [1].

Myths and Urban Legends in WoW – The Bengal Tiger Cave | Ironyca Stood in the Fire:

In Stranglethorn Vale near Zul’Gurub hidden in the mountains, there’s a secret cave with an even more secret mount vendor. She sells a cat mount, supposedly a bengal tiger, but she only spawns once a month for 30 minutes.

I'll admit that I'm much bigger into exploration than I am raiding, for instance, so maybe this is more fascinating to me than most.  I cat form prowled around the Scarlet Monastery for hours before I actually ran it, spent waaaay too much time trying to sneak into Dalaran before I'd leveled high enough, died too many times trying to find where I could drop into Un Goro Crater so I didn't have to run the long way around, and ran around Wintergrasp (hard not to call it "Winterfell" now) for a while well before I was the right level.  Soloing for fun can be, well, fun.  It's nice to take some time off from doing things the way the developers intended and instead see if I can't prank the game -- which, of course, was the whole point of the poorly scanned chapter linked to above.

But Ironyca goes well beyond exploration and strongly into the land of metalepsis.  I've wanted to write about gaming's "industry of metalepsis" for years... how the "real world" and [the horribly backwards notion of] the "virtual world" intersect, whether it's a trick like Rockstar's hidden game or the extra levels in N64's San Fran Rush (iirc)... there are things that can't be found without looking at media that exists only outside of the game (see Picard, via imgur with a small decency edit, above).

And that's why this series is so important. There's nothing in the game that's explicitly there to make you think that there's a vendor than spawns thirty minutes a month in some cave selling mounts. Sure, there's a skin, but that's it. Plus, the skin isn't an Easter Egg by any account. It has a good, reasonable explanation. The mount was in an early beta (alpha?) and was removed. It's a true fossil (again, read the previous link).

But through metalepsis, the digital fossil moves from forgotten mount to legend. That's a distinctly human reaction. We explain the unexplainable through story and narrative, and sometimes prefer to be seduced by romanticism rather than apply William's Razor.

Okay, that's enough. Your homework is to read every link in this post, and then find the cave of metaleptic legend.


And speaking of things not changing, you'll never guess what my first LFG instance was. Okay, well, yes, yes you will. The upside is that I sure as heck remember how to run it.

[1] Not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you; beyond capturing the raw materials of my time playing, this blog is essentially just hedonism.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

And we're back...


Lessons for those starting back up their main after a year or more away.

Lesson 1: Remember when you had a hard time getting the first move from Valor to Justice points straight? It happened again. Now there's there's some new schmoe selling your Stormrider Leggings as a novelty item for transmogs. And yes, for Justice Points.

Lesson 2: No, you don't have any Valor Points any more. They've all converted.

Lesson 3: Yes, there's a brand new set of Justice Point tiered gear.

Lesson 4: ALL THE DAGGUM WIKI SITES ARE OUT OF DATE. It's like 4.3 hasn't happened on wowwiki or wowpedia minus a few notes about 4.3 at the bottom of pages. Obviously there's some new great place to learn about armor sets, but I don't know what it is. ARGH. Okay. Calmer now.

Lesson 5: This will make getting Flaming Treants lots easier. That's really the take-home, and makes Jal very happy. You can see him smilin'. @ As I mentioned the last time currency swapped, my Justice Points essentially just became Valor Points. I've already got enough for the chestpiece. Wow. Sometimes, deflation is a good thing.


Seriously, I'm much happier that I've only got to run dailies to get my irrational prize. When Mists comes out, you'll be replacing all your purples with greens anyway. I'm kinda happy I didn't spend my time grabbing Valors, but then I haven't gotten a year's use out of them either.

And a very special thank you to the readers that offered to send me a scroll, and an especially big thanks to the two who did -- I'm afraid I caused a mix-up on the email (sent from the "blog" email, but needed the scroll at the account email), so I ended up with two. I haven't claimed an 80 yet. That's proving a tougher decision than I thought. It will be Horde, just so I can play over there a bit. It won't be a Death Knight. I can level from 55-80, but there's almost zero chance outside of Sandy of me going from 1-80. But I can't tell if it should be another druid -- let's face it, Sandy's taught me I really can't play another class without serious study -- or not. Maybe I could spec resto? Out of the box, indeed. You know, I like that idea.

Thanks again, readers, and it's fun to have Jal back, even though I just jumped in for a few minutes this evening.