Saturday, June 20, 2009

Ding! 80

Well, I'm done. Leveled out. Been running the Sons of Hodir/Storm Peaks quests, and have waded through the solo portion of the giant Whatever it takes 40+ quests-long quest line. Not a bad run, overall, but Thor and Loki -- ur, I'm sorry, Thorim and Loken -- haven't really made me feel all that involved. What do I remember about the quests? Not a whole lot. Mostly that Thorim looked really bored on his throne, and that some Sons of Hodir daily quest names have pitifully unimaginative double entendres. Still, nice to see a plot arc continued in a quest line longer than two or three quests, and just interesting enough to be memorable.

The exciting part, of course, is that I can quit leveling and concentrate on gearing up and moving slowly towards raiding. Time to stop grabbing whatever the quest rewards are and actually pursue whatever gives me the best gear. And I don't think my lack of swift flight form will be such a pain now. Danged spell costs with the new level brought me back from nearly 1k gold to under 800. Man, I sound codgery.

So I'm not sure what comes next. I'll keep running Hodir rep to get the enchant, and will follow some combination of and Laser Chicken's best balance gear lists for pre-raiding 80s. Then I'll run dungeons for gear, and try a few PUG raids, I suppose. Then hopefully I'll start raiding proper after finding a decent raiding guild. Lots of guilds are recruiting, it seems, but many are pre-80 chars, which seems strange. I've got two guildies doing the level-a-friend XP bonus thing, and have gotten from 40 to 60 in about the time I've gone from 78-80. Seems a few people are doing something similar and forming toon guilds to house them.

I'm rambling. Yay, 80. It's kinda like the NBA playoffs; I'm ready for the second season/game of WoW now.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gearing for Naxx

Welp, I'm trying to spend some of 79 positioning myself for good entry raid gear. Thanks to WoW Insider/'s Dan O'Halloran's comment about Shifting Perspectives' gear at 80 list, I thought I was starting off well. Unfortunately I made two mistakes.

The first was to go for shoulders first, and to try for Shifting's best quest piece: "Mantle of the Flesh Giant, from the quest The Flesh Giant Champion in Icecrown". Decent questline, horribly quick XP, but it turns out that Mantle isn't even as good as one of their runner ups, "Purehorn Spaulders, a Leatherworking BoE," which not only gives more boomkin power, but is a leather item. So I dropped the fleshwerks quest line and off I went last night to start farming Hath'ar Skimmers.

The respawn rate was ridiculous, and I was able to put on some melee gear and the Staff of ye olde Sorrowful Chieftan and grab 30 Nerubian Chitin's in no time. I was helped by someone who didn't reply to /whispers who was whacking everything in sight, but didn't skin. I usually like to /whisper before I start vulturing all the leftovers, but after throwing a MotW and Thorns on the farmer, I gave up. It was a level 80 character, so I'm not sure what the angle was. Gold farming? No idea. The mobs did keep respawning so quickly that it supported four folks running around whacking things. You can just barely see my proverbial benefactor over Jal's left (your right) shoulder in the screengrab with the Spaulders.

And though the Spaulders look pretty kewl and all, this brings us to my second mistake: Not comparing the list to Laser Chickens. I completely missed his wrap up, and it's a very good one. For shoulders, I do have the best craftable from Shifting Perspectives, it appears, but I'm apparently looking for Mantle of the Eternal Sentinel, a BoE drop from Sartharion. That's a big difference. Still, Shifting's on the mark here.

Shifting might not be for other slots, though, compared to Chicken's more recent gear. Let's compare the "accessible" gear (so the best spellpower (oversimp, I know) from Chicken's list, with the best craftable for any drops, and from's.

(This will have to be a two-parter; here's the Chicken list, and the Chicken List totals:)

Intellect 405
Stamina 541 (616)
Spirit 185
Armor 3087
Resilience rating 186
Critical strike rating 238
Haste rating 37
Spell power 673
+ two sockets

Set bonuses in parens.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Note to self: Naxx guide on, and Naxx gear suggestions?

Ready Check: Guide to Naxxramas (Arachnid Quarter):

This week's article examines the Arachnid Quarter, and we'll be visiting the other quarters in upcoming articles. We'll look at each boss on both normal and heroic modes, pointing out the differences (beyond HP increases). Generally, if you've defeated the boss on normal mode, there are only minor changes to adapt to on heroic mode (and vice versa).

And the raiding, ur, reading begins...

EDIT: Need to find a moonkin equiv for this mage guide to minimum Naxx gear.

WoW Insider was bored to tears in March; one temp fix

Okay, I know, I'm kinda beating the horse to death, but looking for guides on Naxxramas before hitting the dungeon, I found a bunch of choice burn-out quotes on WoW Insider's Ready Check from this past March:

We go through the motions of complaining about the looks of the new armor, watching live streams of new bosses and chattering endlessly when any tidbit introduces novelty into the dull sameness of WoW endgame. Yet a few weeks into the PTR schedule, with Ulduar right around the corner, some players are sizing the content up and thinking "is this it?".

Those players are going to leave, sooner or later. There's something keeping them playing, from social ties to the responsibilities of leadership to deep-seated psychological problems driving them away from their real lives. Yet there's a tipping point, and chances are if you're at the stage where nothing in the game seems exciting any more - not even the shiny new stuff - then that point will be reached sooner rather than later. Do you really want to spend the rest of your weekends from noon til night fishing ingame, just so you have enough food banked for Ulduar?

That's a long quote, and I don't feel bad at using it, as there's quite a bit more. I think the quote about fishing is particularly timely. Yes, Jennie, apparently Blizzard does want you to spend the rest of your weekends fishing. Might as well make fishing an iPhone game, huh? The comments over on Restokin where people are suddenly very happy to have something to do while spamming the Trade channel makes me wonder just how much time folks are spending on this game when they're not coming close to "playing" in the traditional, twitch video gaming sense. The answer is, um, lots.

Ms. Lees seems to hit the nail on the head (or at least confirm my increasing suspicions) when she says...

Yet there's this increasing sense that Blizzard's losing us. New content isn't up to expectations, people aren't frothing-at-the-mouth excited about every drop of PTR news, players are leaving right, left and centre and the mood is turning a little sour.

So far, there hasn't been much answer from Blizzard. There are certainly good answers, however. I'd like to see some sort of random item generation that also forces players to find matching pieces held by someone else. It could be very simply -- if you have piece A1, you get a green triangle over your head. Folks with A2 have green squares. A3 green circles. Whatever. But replace A1,2,3 with some interesting names. Put some lore behind the pieces, even mention character names in other characters' quest screens. Perhaps pyramid the pieces somehow, making each level a bit more exclusive. And while you're at it, pyramid scheme the pieces. Make it so that everyone who runs a lowbie quest meets somebody who has finished the end game so that they get their pieces upgraded or whatever, and make it worth the more hardcore player's time. Drive player interaction. Make certain players part of the lore. This will, not surprisingly, make people give a rat's arse about the backstory. Right now, even a Choose Your Own Adventure book does a better job of making its readers/players feel central to the plot.

I'd also make some NPC's puppets, played by Blizzard employees. A little role playing would go a long way to make Jaina Proudmoore seem like more than a Chuck E. Cheese automaton. Seems like it's pretty obvious that these sorts of human controlled, necessarily unrepeatable cameo appearances of the sorts of characters we often see only on rails in the Caverns of Time or the extended "cut scene" in Stormforge when Katrana Prestor became a dragon, when changed into direct interactions with players make for the most memorable pieces of game lore (even better version of Lord British's death here -- and a good list of the top 5 most memorable events in MMORPG history, with each one arguably being something that players created, most obviously so. Read it. You'll get the point; good gaming means engaging with the developers (the gods?), and one of the most obvious ways to do that is through exploits).

There's an infinite amount of life left in WoW, I think, but it's going to take a new approach to game development, and a real out of the box thinking for the next expansion. I think we all realize WotLK is essentially just TBC all over again -- it's just more. More. WoW needs to give players that sense of overwhelming wonder that it did when we started years ago, and that's coming much less often.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ding! 79

Absolutely nothing exciting to report. Took about two weeks off, which is the reason for the delay in dings. Also been working overtime a good deal, which has eaten into the WoW time.

I guess the quest line in Storm Peaks where you turn into a frozen Amazon are interesting, if not particularly fun. Endless enjoyment trying to remember to go into moonkin form when you don't look any different once you've switched thanks to the disguise. I am neutral with Sons of Hodir now. The frozen "fossil" area is a neat touch. Ran the airship quests where you wax one of the lich king eyes. Not impressed. Not even motivated to look up the name. I'm honestly bored out of my mind with the quest lines right now, though I hear the spear into the drake quest for Hodir is very Gods of War like, and worth trying.

Switching to fiber for Internet post-move has paid off well -- when I first logged back in, I wondered for a few minutes why my system's performance was so much better.

So that's about it. Thinking about apping a casual raiding guild. Checked in with current guild captain to make sure it's okay to pull out my main, which it apparently is. We still don't have anyone over 74 other than Jal.

Okay, bed time. Carson Daly's show ist no goode.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3.1 fishing changes are unethical. [sic]

I put a pretty phat comment up on Restokin, a blog I enjoy even if they spec'd their druid wrong. ;^D Unfortunately they were championing another change in the game that makes it more "accessible," which plays into a number of my pet peeve topics. Here it is, reproduced below (actually, I ended up drafting here then c&p'n there.)

However, I really think they made some great improvements to fishing in the 3.1 patch that convinced me to go back and work on my fishing some more.

What was that change? I can now fish anywhere, even with a terrible fishing skill. I could fish in the dalaran sewers or pond. I can fish anywhere in Northrend.

This reminds me too much of why of Teeth and Claws said he was hanging it up and leaving WoW: the game's becoming too accessible, imo. He's not the only druid that's said see ya to WoW recently either (a bit about it here).

There's a problem with ghettoizing the old world as well as cheapening the work behind the sense of achievement those that truly grinded through parts of the game have "earned". This change in fishing reminds me a bit too much of the reasoning behind dailies. Make the game easier and bribe your players with a little virtual cash. Good thing WoW learned the lesson from Ultima Online that a closed economic system doesn't work, and went straight to manipulating the virtual market in an attempt to maximize reality cash. (I'd say there's nothing inherently wrong with that, but then Jonathan Blow apparently thinks there is. Check the RPG Vault article I linked earlier, and Teeth and Claws is talking the topic up some more now too.)

And seriously (insert smilies! I kid Hasselhoff, I kid!), there's no excuse for a druid not to level up fishing the "right way". Moonglade teleport and a few casts before sign-offs, anyone?! ;^)