Sunday, December 25, 2011

VP Changes to 4.3 PTR - Forums - World of Warcraft

VP Changes to 4.3 PTR - Forums - World of Warcraft:

We've made slight adjustments to the Valor Point (VP) drops on the 4.3 PTR which testers can now see. In both 10- and 25-player raids, bosses will now drop 100 VP each (down from 115 and 135 respectively). We’ll also be changing Firelands raid bosses to drop 50 VP per kill upon release of the patch.

This change is being made to further emphasize the desire to kill bosses for the items they drop. In the 4.3 raid, tier sets can only be earned from boss drops, and as Raid Finder will allow for just about anyone to get a chance to kill bosses, we think there will be less need for Valor overall. We want to try to match the lower desire for VP with a slightly slower acquisition rate.

Argh, I'm already looking back into gear. This doesn't sound good for soloers, who could bag three tiered pieces without ever raiding in T12. I hope the LFR tool is as good as they hope, though that would greatly de-emphasize the importance of guilds.

Eridan's comment pretty much sums what I'm thinking/afraid of:

I think you may be vastly overestimating how well the Raid Finder is going to work when you're making these plans. Right now it mostly seems to be allowing people to wipe on Morchok once or twice before the calls of "U ALL BADS" and the ragequits begin.

That won't be any fun at all. You might say, "Join a guild!" but honestly, I just want to solo as much as possible to ensure I'm geared well enough for a few PUG/PUR runs. Not needing a guild to raid would be nice. Kills the mystique of raiding a bit though, I think. Will be interesting to see if LFR works well or not and how it'll affect the game's feel.

So it looks like, if, say, you're a druid who hasn't played since July, that the gear you're hunting is exactly the same as it was when you quit when it comes to valor points. I'd really hoped my old VP had magically appreciated a little. New gear is out there, but it's only from bosses.

The first hit of heroin is always free...

... as is the one when you've been sober for six months.

I'm trying to keep myself convinced that it's a bad idea to sign back up, even for a free week. It's hard.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Update[d video card for $20] and Pandaria Licensing with DreamWorks

Okay, I'm still not back-as-in-back to playing. Right now I'm waffling between, "Pandaria seems pretty cool, in spite of it being, um, pandas," and, "How the heck can they release this expansion without paying DreamWorks through the nose?!!"

I mean, really, "bouncy" and "inner peace" racial traits? You've got to be kidding me. Right? This is a giant prank, isn't it?

But then "Activision Blizzard" seems to have Kung-Fu Panda in their licensing bag already? Maybe they're crazy like a fox? Maybe the whole point is to take the standard Oriental Expansion Idea and up some Kung-Fu Panda sales while you're at it? It's so crazy, it just might work, right?

I'll admit that I can't keep up with who owns what company any more. I'd managed to forget about Activision and Blizzard. It's crazy. But let's face it, somebody owns rights to Kung-Fu Panda, and Blizzard (now Act-Bliz) obviously owns WoW. This is cross-promotion of Disney-ESPN proportions.

In any event, I've already seen Kung-Fu Panda 2 (not nearly as good as the first, but there is a bit of the "2 is just here to get us to 3" feeling -- hey, so what are the chances that Kung-Fu Panda 3 is coming out about the same time as this expansion? Imagine the coincidence of that!), and I'm sure I'll bag Mists release day. The attention to the single-player game, if it happens, will be neat, and I'm excited to check out the monk class and new zones, even if I have to do it as a panda. If done right, the zones could be pretty cool.

In other exciting news, I finally broke down and stopped using the GeForce 8500 with 256 megs of VRAM that's still listed on this page, and that I've had for years. People that read this blog too closely know that I've been considering spending as much as $170 for a new card over the last year, but a CyberMonday special at NewEgg had a GT430 with a gig of RAM for $20 shipped after rebate (here's the item, back up to $45 after rebate now). Too good to pass up.

GTA IV finally plays in a resolution over 800x600, which is awesome. I did this with GTA3:SA too... the late video card upgrade was like getting a new game.

I also played Sandraevia, the freeplay Blood-Elf Rogue I've got, for a few more minutes, which means, of course, that I bagged yet another level, though I was a little slow snapping the shot.

Just for kicks, I'll include two pictures, one with something approximating my old settings and another with the new. I'd always kept draw distance to Ultra, as that's the only setting that really affects gameplay (other than summing their performance into fps), but now I've got it all maxed out. Soloing in the starting area is no problem. I'd almost like to raid again just to see what happens.

Old Settings:

New Settings:

It looks better, no doubt, and looks even better in motion. For $20, it's an obvious win. Sure, the fan is a little loud, but my CPU fan doesn't really slow down either, so I can only barely hear the GPU. That said, the CPU fan is so loud, I really can't believe that I can just barely hear this GPU fan over the CPU, but I can. Wow. For $20, I'm not complaining.

I often wonder how a game reviewer should considering each game's "artistic" effects. In short, does pretty eye-candy make for a better game? I hate to say it helps. I still recall being wowed by Ironforge (no pun was intended there, sorry) the first time -- and Darn too, the first time I walked up on it before seeing IF. Blood Elf architecture is cool, and Lich King had some nice expanses too. Each of those impressed me and increased immersion -- not so much because it was realistic, as that the game was essentially imprinting me. These were unforgettable, tell your neighbor moments. I should also add Nagrand to the list. Beautiful. Eye candy is the difference between driving down a bland Interstate and hitting the PCH.

But which setting do you use to review a game when some of your readers are playing on laptops with integrated graphics and others have top of the line SLI? What experience is the "right", representative one that you should be using?

I don't know. But I will say that if it's been a while since you upgraded, keep an eye out. $20 is a no-brainer, and there've got to be similar deals coming up soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Item inflation, disillusionment and return

Well, it's been a while, I'll admit. I hate to say it, but the raiding didn't do it for me. It's fun to be part of a group, and to have the peer pressure on you to get gear, learn the instances, and wack difficult bosses, but, honestly, it's still just grindy. Worse, it's grindiness with deadlines, and that really does turn gaming into work. I'd still like to meet up with a fairly social guild for a weekly run through level-appropriate instances, but I'm not sure I want to commit to 3 hours a night of grinding in preparation.

I mean, if we could even get gear that keeps its power... you know, like a permanent piece each expansion that you'd never really have to grind for again -- and be done with the shoulder slot forever with a heirloom-like scaling as you hit new expansions and gathered better gear in general, then maybe it'd be worth rolling into raids. But to know all these hours go to nothing, that item inflation means your hard-won items will be worthless in six months really makes the all the work feel empty. Sure, you're making your story, but the connection to the main storyline is so tenuous, particularly with the fact that your actions don't have serious, visible consequences for anyone else playing, means there's no real payoff in virtual goods or contributions to the plot.

So Jal took a break.

Yesterday, after a few months off, I finally got sucked back in by one of the "play for free" side banner ads. There're really only a few combinations that are wholly new to me. I've had alts, really low level alts, but alts, in everything but rogues (strange, as I was always a thief of some sort in D&D and AD&D) and orcs. After downloading, I remembered that Burning Crusade was free to everyone now too, and though I'd played a blood elf warlock for a few levels, I didn't care much for the warlock part. So I started putting together a blood elf rogue.

Look, there's no way a guy can play a blood elf guy. There's just not. The guys look too, um, well... feminine. The "facial hair" selections are all soulpatches of one sort or another. Their chests are, well, strange. And the hair seems to suggest they got switched at the unisex-apparently-means-one-sex-not-either salon. So even though my last "mainish" character, Jalyndrine the Death Knight was a chick, so is this one. It's almost as if the blood elves were made not just to have a "pretty" horde race, but to encourage virtual cross-dressing. Honestly, if the percentage of girls-with-guy-avatar ratio isn't highest for blood elves, I'd be surprised. That's a weird race.

One quest later, I'm level two. I guess inflation's hit all over, huh?

(Arg, and their free hit of heroin is already working. Reading back through my own blog, I'm reminded of the burning treant bonus for the T12 gear. Tell me that isn't worth paying to play?!! (Yes, I realize it's really not, but the evil cash-burning magic's still working on me...))

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Time to spam Starfall

And the game gets easier. There are three spells you have to watch very carefully -- well, two spells now. They were Starfall, Force of Nature, and Typhoon. Each of these had the ability to aggro outside of what you were intending to DPS and had to be used very carefully.

Treants will often pursue new groups of trash if you forget to tell them to stop and follow. Starfall would aggro *anything* nearby, which, honestly, was great for the Fireland dailies that require smashing charred mobs. Typhoon travels a ways, and tends to aggro things that seemed to be too far away... or yellows you forgot to factor in. An unglyphed Typhoon is even more difficult, as you sometimes had to make sure you didn't push mobs into the wrong areas. Touchy tanks hate typhoon pushback as well. Both are occasionally reasons to line up to the side of the mobs and Typhoon them into a wall if you're unglyphed. (I really enjoy Typhooning mobs into walls for some reason.)

Anyhow, apparently it's time to strike Starfall from the list of spells that require skillz. I used to be overly careful about using it, as I've accidentally pulled some trash, especially in Grim Batol, with SF. But now, well, SPAM AWAY!! (I'm on a trip right now or I'd check it out.)

Patch 4.2 hotfix roundup:

Starfall is no longer hitting targets that are within 40 yards if they are not in combat with the druid or his/her party/raid members. It is targeting all hostile characters in combat with the druid's party/raid members, is not hitting Stealth characters, is not breaking crowd control effects, and is not targeting nearby critters.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

We go a-raidin'

Well, I've joined a new raiding guild. Strange how that changes your approach to play. When I don't get every Mark of the World Tree I can each day, I feel I'm falling behind. When I don't get every VP I can each week, I feel like I'm not quite measuring up. This outlook is bonkers, of course, especially as I joined saying that though I was decently geared, I was responding more to the guild leader's call for "social players" than raiders, but I'd raid as much as they'd let me.

We ran through BWD. I watched a few Tankspot and ZAM video guides and glanced at Icy Veins beforehand, which was useful, but probably not absolutely required. Knowing how to jump up on the Nefarian pedestals was probably the most useful result of the preparation. The Aliena guide on ZAM talked about staying away from either end of Oxynia, but I ended up being told to stay firmly behind her. Lots of tail whips there, but very few wipes.

I really was the n00b occasionally. A few times the raid (and guild) leader had to say, "Boomkin, DPS Nefarian now," or something similar. We did wipe four or five times, but there were a few players that were fairly overgeared for BWD, so we didn't have too difficult a time once folks learned strategy.

It was fun, though long. The move away from waves of trash to boss after boss was an interesting change. We turned up Security Measure Alpha at one point, and even though it was my first run, the guild let me have it, which was great. We also have one restokin guildy that took an interest in Jal pre-raid, got my gear and talent tree spec'd "correctly" (I do miss Solar Beam while PvEing, though). He also brezzed me at least three times, and *very* quickly when I went down, which was appreciated. A few well timed whispers also kept me in the right places.

And it's that help that's probably the biggest change for me, other than the sheer number of instance and raid runs the guild does, when moving from small social to medium-sized raiding guild. This guy knew how to play balance, and balance was his off-spec. And he was patient as get-out, minus one communication when I said, "Can you show me your talents for resto?" and he interpreted that as, "Prove to me you're a talented resto player." The guild leader had asked if I could heal initially, and I said I could try, but hadn't off-spec'd yet and didn't strictly have healing gear, so I was asking how to set up the resto tree. That was a quick lol from anything nasty, though.

So raiding is fun. Putting a raid on your schedule is nice. Not really caring if I get any loot -- and getting some anyway -- helps. Having people patiently help you like mad is great. Finding replacements in seconds if someone has to drop is awesome. And the anxiety level during the mostly guild staffed raid run was a heck of a lot cooler than your typical PUG.

In other news, I'm still slowly adding VPs and quickly adding JPs. Bagged the Relic of Norgannon after a PUG Heroic yesterday. Better than Eonar , I think, because Eonar only adds Spirit, which I think essentially reduces to hit for us, and I'm finally hit capped (note to self: don't reforge SPI to HIT; there's no change). Before that, I went Haunt of Flies, as my cloak stunk. That took me from 333 to 359 on the back. Though I added Stormrider's Leggings, the difference looking back isn't enough over Blazewing's Klt for me to have bit. The thinking was that I'd get the chest and gloves from VPs, so all that was left from JP T11 was legs. /shrug I think next on the JP list is a ring and trinket and then I'm nearly "done".

Jal's first VP item will probably be either Obsidian Arborweave Gloves or the Obsidian Arborweave Vestment. Tyler at Shifting Perspectives argues pretty strongly that I should ignore the gloves, but I'm not as sure. See below for a quick exchange we had over on WoW Insider, edited a bit for stoopid grammar and clarity issues on my end.

rufworkrufwork said...

Okay, admittedly, I only read Blood Pact because I *can* find an RSS for Tyler, but not one just for Balance dr00d Shifting Perspectives articles.

That said, how do you quantitatively factor in tier set bonuses? Contra T12, [Tyler] says...

"The most common thing that I see people do in situation such as this is that they always, always rush off for their tier gear first. The simple matter is this: Everything is an upgrade. ... Get the upgrades that you can get now first, and get the ones that come later, later."

Though locks apparently have hands alternatives, they're from Rag. You can PUG Heroics and get T12 gloves after a little over a week. It's tougher to raid in a social guild.

But okay, let's even say you *can* bag raid gear easily. How do you factor in T12 2P bonuses? You know, for laser chicken, how do you measure the worth burning treants? For locks, um, how do you factor in whatever you guys get? Don't Tier bonuses make T12 items disproportionally powerful compared to other Valor Point gear? Or, rather, why *don't* tier bonsues make T12 disproportionally powerful? JP gear is nearly free with 70 points per Heroic boss -- and that bonus doesn't max out; you can run Heroics indefinitely and keep bagging 70 JP a boss.  But if I'm spending 2200+1650 = 3850 VP = a pretty solid month of PUGging, what are the numbers on getting 3850 VPs of non-tiered gear [which is essentially what Tyler suggested] before two tiered?

Being a part timer, Valor Points are something I can still earn without raiding. I think I go 2xT12 first, and gloves being only 1650, I think I start there. ?? If I can find 20k, I get valor bracers too. /shrug

7-16-2011 @ 12:04AM

rufwork said...

@Tyler -- The what amounts to a "price of entry" logic is interesting. There's a sort of T12 price of entry per piece -- 1650 VPs -- and then a price to get that more efficient piece -- 2200 minus 1650 = 550 VPs. 550 VPs gives me a pretty good jump start on VP bracers if I don't have 20-30k gold sitting around, and gives me the T12 2P.

That's why I'm still thinking that I want a set with the most pieces possible with my VP that still includes a 2P bonus, though. I'm assuming you can keep the T11 2P bonus on top of the T12 2P. Now you're one drop in BoT away from having ((Chest or Legs)+Shoulders) * T11 + (Hands+(Legs or Chest)) * T12, and you can find a good BoT PURaid relatively easily, all things considered.

That's the way I was leaning, anyhow, and with your "T12 set bonus isn't >>> T11 set bonus" suggestion, gloves for VP seems even more like the cheapest way to get "2P+2P ~ 4P" and your valor bracers more quickly.

I mean, sure, if you could have any two T12 pieces and points isn't an object, you go legs and chest. But here, I think it comes down to if having valor bracers more quickly offsets having fewer good stats on the T12 gloves. Is (again, on Boomkin; sorry to hijack the thread)...

86 Int
157 Sta
266 Mastery (1.48)
683 Armor
30 Haste (0.23%)
1 Sockets
-177 SPI (so hit, like you say)

... (the diff of T12 chest over T12 hands) worth 550 VPs? I guess you could argue yes. But 44% of 227 INT = 99.88, and 44% is how close you are to valor bracers and their 227 INT with 550 VPs.

Perhaps it largely matters what T11 pieces you already have.

Thanks for the reply. It's really too much for a casual guy to think through and feel confident about. Bring back BC and point-blank wrath-spam! ;^)

This exchange really shows the disconnect between WoW Insider posts and your typical casual player.  Even after I've stressed casual gaming and PUG reward VPs as the only means to getting T12 gear, Tyler continuously seems to be assuming things that casual gamers just don't have access to get -- unlimited valor points and raid drops.

There's a huge disconnect between the "Here are the three best items in each slot" guides we sometimes get and the way most gamers, even max-level gamers, are almost certainly playing.  As soon as I get two Tier 12 items, I'm done with the PUG grind.  If the guild tells me I need more, no problems, but hopefully we can raid for them.  The chest is the only points-only tiered piece, right? I mean everything else in the Tier 12 set potentially drops from somewhere, right?  If I was still in casual/social land, if it weren't for what have to be kewl buring treants, I'm probably done chasing VPs after a single item, and the second can show up whenever it wants.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Very Good Zul'Gurub Heroic Guide

After figuring out that 7x70=490 and I was done with Heroic Valor Point bonuses for this week, I decided I'd read up on and try out the new Zul'Aman randoms. Got sucked into ZG with two bosses already down. Not sure what happened to the last DPS, but I do know I'm always glad when I hit an instance that's nearly done. Seems to happen most in Grim Batol.

Anyhow, this Zul'Gurub Heroic Guide on Icy Veins is quite good. I really didn't know what the heck I was doing, caused at least two wipes, and offered to drop seconds before I saw the finished dungeon plaque appear. Still got to roll on drops, which was nice. I guess I did okay, but boy, I had some learning to do.

Having gone through three bosses now, though, combined with the guide, I think I'm good on at least two.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

All +INT Justice Point balance gear from 4.2 that's not a Tier 11 piece

Panzerkin: Doing the nasty Wowheading so you don't have to. ilvl 359 stuff listed first. (That's the stuff that's new to JPs in 4.2) Some of this is resto stuff, but there are a number of lists that say you'd rather mix in some resto situationally, so it's all here.

EDIT: Now with prices.

359 Back 1250
359 Back 1250
359 Feet 1650
Leather Armor
359 Finger 1250
359 Finger 1250
359 Trinket 1650
359 Trinket 1650
359 Relic 700
359 Relic 700
346 Hands 1650
Leather Armor
346 Head 2200
Leather Armor
346 Held In Off-hand 950
Off-hand Frill
346 Legs 2200
Leather Armor
346 Neck 1250
346 Neck 1250
346 Shoulder 1650
Leather Armor
346 Waist 1650
Leather Armor

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Smolderskull sighting

Wow. Thirty grand. I'd guessed between 20-25, and then had a guy in chat offering for 20k, and heard someone else who bought another set of VP 378 bracers for 30k. Guess that's the going price.

Pre-Heroic Druid Guide 4.2 Update

I made a quick update to the Soloer's Pre-Heroic Gear Guide today to include a bit of 4.2 information. The Chest of Forgetfulness is off. Those 2200 JPs are better spent on the Tier 11 chest. Pretty much all the changes I made are below. I still need to add the 4.2 Firelands grind currency options.

Just quickly, the Jal update: More Firelands grinding while waiting for LFG PUGs. I've gotten in Vortex Pinnacle and The Stonecore that I haven't run before. And after a bit of a sales war between three sellers of the Chestguard of Nature's Wrath(I canceled, dropped price, and relisted twice), I managed to clear 4090g on the AH. Picture above. Four more times and I can buy new bracers. ;^D

Auction House:
Smolderskull Bindings (4.2) -- Going for 20k-30k in chat; haven't seen in AH yet

As Lissanna says, and then there were bracers. The Smolderskull Bindings are new in 4.2, and are actually 1250 Valor Point items. But they're BoE. I think you're better served by saving Valor Points once you earn them for Tier 12 gear. And when you're pre-Heroic, you can't get Valor Points anyway. The price is so high I considered keeping these off, but some folk are so good crafting or have access via guilds or mains that it's good to keep them in mind.

Reputation: Hyjal (again)
Nightweaver's Amulet (4.2)

You've already run Hyjal and gotten good rep just with the quests. That bagged the Aessina Blessed Gloves I mentioned before. With 4.2, you can quickly pick up an ilvl 365 neck for under 90g if you've finished Hyjal and enter the Firelands. It takes a few more Marks of the World Tree to enter the Firelands proper, but it's a minor grind. There are more rewards for grinding Firelands that I'll be adding shortly, but they take 31+ days to unlock, which is insane. Tol Barad-like, but grindier.

Justice Points: (note that the full lists for each of these is in the full guide)
Stormrider's Regalia items

Chestguard of Forgetfulness (enchant with Mighty Stats) (2200 JPs)

With the addition of Tier 11 to the list of Justice Point gear in 4.2, this list gets lots longer. I'm going to remove my recommendation for the Chestguard of Forgetfulness and replace that with Stormrider's Vestment. That's a no-brainer. The same JP cost for a 359 ilvl with the possibility of tier bonuses instead of 346 is obvious.

At the same time, note that you only get 140 Justice Points per normal Cata dungeon. Getting everything on this list means you're running 59 normal dungeons. That's a lot, obviously. And you don't need all of this gear to be geared for Heroic, which is a change with 4.2. You're easily overgeared, if only slightly. So let's get the Vestment and Cluster (still the best head pre-Heroic). Then if you've got a one-handed weapon, go with Apple-Bent Bough. If not, save for the Stormrider's Leggings. Why? Because when you go Heroic, you'll want the lower price Tier 12 Valor Point gloves first, I think. Honestly, if you've got the Furious Kilt from the AH or farming, you could potentially skip the legs here.

Ultimately it's up to you. Just know if you gloves for the T11 two-piece bonus that you might replace those pretty quickly once you're in Heroics.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Quick item up: Moonwell Chalice Nightweaver's Amulet

ARGH. At first I thought you could get the Moonwell Chalice immediately upon entering Firelands, but no luck with the vendor for 31 days, apparently.

There is a full month-long chain of dailies to unlock her and the other two vendors.
To unlock the first vendor takes 31 days; to unlock all three takes 41 days.

But for your parting gift, I give you the Nightweaver's Amulet, which you can bag essentially immediately after hitting the Firelands.

And now back to the item you can get 31-41 days from now.

I've been trying to update the pre-Heroic gear list for 4.2, and it's been a pain, in part because Wowhead was misreporting Valor Point items as Justice Point ones. I thought I was about to get insane legs, pants, chest, wrists, and rings. Now, not so much.

That said, check this item out. I like the Gale of Shadows as much as the next guy, but this item is apparently purchaseable right inside the Firelands available only after a month of constant daily runs:

Moonwell Chalice - Item - World of Warcraft:

Binds when picked up
+340 Intellect
Requires Level 85
Item Level 365
Use: A small moonwell appears, blessing you with 1700 Mastery for 20 sec. (2 Min Cooldown)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Ooops -- WoW's Free To Play to 20

Boy, I really missed something when I applauded Blizzard's move to open BC to vanilla-only owners.

From Blizzard Support:

The World of Warcraft Starter Edition allows players to access World of Warcraft for free -- all you need is a account and an Internet connection. Starter Edition players can play up to a maximum character level of 20 and are able to upgrade to a full, paid account at any time, allowing them to continue their adventures where they left off.

Okay, I'm less happy. It turns out the free BC was just to pacify that I'd paid to level to 20. Matlocker, as you can see, is just barely over level 20. Matlocker's buddy in Recruit-a-Friend is just barely 20. Now of course one bud probably should be in a paid account. If nobody is, they can't play together in a group (if neither can start a group -- and FTP characters can't -- they're just fighting near each other), have one use heirlooms, or get the RaF bonus, but the $15-$5+$30 we paid for Matlocker to get WoW vanilla and a 30 day time card seems a lot stoopider [sic] now.

Oh well, Blizzard robbed me of another $40. What else is new?

I think the real take home for me is that I've got something to do the next time I suspend my account. I still don't have a Horde alt worth a rip. I also planned on checking out the Worgen starting zone at some point. Now I can do both off the clock while Jal's fishing, and that's a good thing.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Burning Crusade Improved! Now Free as in Beer!

Well, TBC is now free.

World of Warcraft and The Burning Crusade -- Together at Last! - World of Warcraft:

In addition, anyone who owns the original World of Warcraft, regardless of when they purchased the game, will automatically be able to access all of the content and features from The Burning Crusade expansion at no additional cost. It’s time to set forth from Azeroth, adventurer -- Outland awaits!

The question is why. I mean, Matlocker, my alt account alt that I got to play a little refer-a-friend, is excited. I paid something like, what, $15 for WoW Old World at Xmas with a $5 dollar gift card back, so now I've gotten a month and an expansion for $10, which wasn't bad.[1] I guess maybe this will convince alters and friends to run ten more levels o' fun, which takes another month or two. (Now Matlocker would like his free 10 days to try BC out. ;^D)

Of course this means that BC boxes in Gamestop etc now, if they're still out there, are worthless. Woe to those who buy. I hope they've pulled the SKU. Beware habitual eBayers.

I guess this is good in that Blizzard can get rid of one bit flag. Now everyone can hit BC. Still, I can't imagine that's a huge savings. Perhaps now they have one less client to test. That would be worth a bit of time==cash.

But are there tons of level 60ish characters running around who got Vanilla and stopped? Am I missing something? Though if we assume those folks wouldn't buy BC but will play a month if it's free (especially with a quick email prod), 1% of 11 million * $15 is still a lot of dough, I suppose ($1,650,000).

[1] Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. A $5 gift card isn't worth a full $5! You're right. It's hard to spend a Gamestop gift card at Burger King. But if you're going to spend that $5 at Gamestop immediately anyhow, well, it's worth $5 to you.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beginning Firelands/Patch 4.2

Well, 4.2 is out. I've played a bit -- all on the MacBook -- and it's, well, interesting. It's not so much PvE end game for soloers as much as a minimally interactive movie so far. Sure, I've gotten lazy and dropped two healing pots, but there's really zero strategy and lots of mob clean up stuck between cut scenes. Even though the cut scenes, like the one where Thrall is taken away, are meant to pull you out of the millions of PCs running around HyJal right now and thrust you into what briefly looks like a position of singular fame and power, the facade drops away so quickly once the cutscenes are done that Blizzard'd be better off leaving them out entirely. It'd be better to treat you as what you are -- one of thousands attempting to fight the same thing.

The touch-and-tally quests (instead of "Kill X of Y" we have "Damage X of Y before someone else is done with them") really undercut their difficulty and feeling of accomplishment. I feel like I'm marking time.

Anyhow, the best source I've seen so far in the blogroll for figuring out the big picture for the questline is at Shifting Perspectives in the post "Faction rewards for balance in 4.2". Right now we're all here:

In order to begin your new adventure, simply pick up the starter quest from any of the new adventure boards located in a major city. This will send you out to Sanctuary of Malorne in Hyjal where the druids are under attack. After the initial quest chain, you'll gain access to three daily quests. It takes 20 Marks of the World Tree to open the next stage, which requires three days' worth of questing to get.

After those minimum three days, you've got "at least 10 days" before you can move from the first group of Firelands dailies to "unlock either the Druids of the Talon or the Shadow Warden" who offer you yet more quests that apparently take at least seven days to complete. After that, "you will open up three new quests that will finally net you the rewards that you've been after. Each of these quests require 125 Marks in order to open, which will take you 6 days or so in order to reach."

So, to sum, "From start to finish, it will take you around 36 days, 35 at a minimum, in order to unlock everything." Wow, indeed. If the quests don't get a heck of a lot more enjoyable, and soon, this will redefine the meaning of "grind". If Blizzard loses many more subscribers in a month than they gained from folks coming back, I wouldn't be surprised in the least.

Friday, June 24, 2011

EVE's microtransactions: Developing profit vs. fun? Virtual vs. Real?

Spinks recently had a post on EVE's apparent plans to put pretty involved microtransactions into the game.  Her response was, well, I can't quite say "common", because it's not the most common response, but perhaps it's the most predictable of the interesting, thoughtful responses.  Here's a bit.

One of the main reasons that I think long term players get concerned about some of these microtransaction plans is that there’s a point where you wonder how far game devs are putting profit above making fun games. And if your main concern as a consumer is to buy (and pay for) fun games, you’d probably like THAT to be their main focus. [emphasis mine]

These are interesting distinctions.  Is there really a fun vs. profit measurement duality for video game developers?  Isn't profit always the primary motivator for, say, Blizzard and CCP Games when they're designing a game?  Whose job is motivated and measured only by fun maximization?  I wonder about playtesters, but I'm having a hard time arguing they're really primarily about fun; having done that a bit, it's more of a bug finding expedition.  In fact, the only game designer I can think of that's really gotten away with "fun" (measured perhaps in unconventional ways) rather than profit is id, where johnc seems to be able to release when he's darned well ready, after the game has whatever techs and features he feels are appropriate.  It's the one place where "When it's done" is always the deadline, and if there's no id software release for, well, years, that's also okay.  But they only get to ignore profit because they already have plenty [and apparently manage that profit fairly well!].  I think you also have to argue that they changed the mode of production with video game design, or at least added an alternative mode, that of shareware.  They could make a game on their own schedule and release, give or take, directly to their market.  PopCap has a lot to thank id for pioneering.

Well, I guess there's another prime example of a "game dev" who puts "fun" above profits, and that's Jonathan BlowBraid was a game that was meant to be completely for "fun", though I believe the term of art is (ironically) an "art" game.  Watching what he's doing with The Witness, the currently in-dev Braid follow-up, is also interesting, particularly his undercover demo of the game at the Penny Arcade Expo.

I mean, Blow is a guy who says stuff like, "[My presentation is] about 'best practices' of modern game design that I find unsettling, and the way in which 'social games' and 'gamification' are destructive."  Though Braid has been horribly successful and, I think it's safe to assume, a serious moneymaker, he's likely (?) not primarily motivated by profit.  Rather, he's at the very least actively interested in (vs. id, who was passively hoping to) redefining the mode of production for video game design and consumption. 

Anyone who comments on the state of games should watch Blow's MIGS lecture slides with audio here to see a sort of game developer countculture/alternative.

(There are others who might call themselves academic game developers, but honestly, I'm not sure I've seen anyone more motivated as a group by money, with some exceptionally notable exceptions (he said twice), than academics.  Academics [in the humanities and in "hybrid" or interdiscplinary fields that include or originate largely in the humanities; engineering professors, eg, are much more honest about their profit-centric research] money fetish is revealed largely by their obsession with repressing their pursuit of cash, you know, like when they frame funding as "a necessarily evil", but love to wield the power from grants like children on their birthday.  I can't consider most of these academic game developers in the same boat with Blow though, again, many are doing good stuff.  For example, based on their work that I've seen, I'd like to think Michael Mateas or Nick Montfort is trying, but I don't know either well.)

Let me also mention, just for Google, "singular rhythms" here.

Anyhow, here's the discussion from Spink's blog, copied here in case Spinksville ever goes away (not that it should, it's just that I hate when blogs disappear).

we like virtual worlds because they’re separate from the rat race of the real world. It’s because the real world doesn’t have much effect on the game world that the game world can be relaxed and fun

You’re first going to have to show me which games don’t overlap with the “real world”. Some are softballs, like “time”, which is obviously shared. But you also have to think about links between hardware requirements, internet access, and economic status. Think Bot Fighters (a mobile phone game) vs. World of Warcraft. Also think of cultural overlaps — ever seen someone speaking French in game? Fun, isn’t it?

As brief as I can put it: There’s no way I play Sojourn MUD literally for days if I’m not a student in college, you know? I’m not exposed to it, I don’t have the always-on network connection to play, nor the “free” time at 2am to play.

There’s a willful suspension of belief [sic] when someone goes virtual, but virtual is always about potential (sorry to trend Deleuzian here) rather than an alternative to the real.

  • “You’re first going to have to show me which games don’t overlap with the “real world”

    If you really don’t want to assume people have time and hardware enough to play computer games then I guess board games or storytelling games is where you start, and assume the majority of people could make 20 mins for a social gaming session.

    But we’re talking about computer games, so let’s assume a baseline of hardware and some available time. It is pretty easy to suspend disbelief in a virtual setting, even with minimal graphics, so it won’t need to be especially good hardware. I’m quite good at suspending disbelief, but not if game mechanics are constantly throwing RL in my face.

    But ultimately it’s easier to think of it as a continuum. Some games or types of games it’ll be easier for a player to immerse and shut the real world aspects out while they play, others it’ll be more in your face the whole time. You can still play Sojourn MUD without playing it for days on end, right? Presumably a game where power is related to time available is more immersive than one where it’s related to both time available AND RL money available. I did say minimal overlap, not none at all. I just meant a game where it’s easy to pretend it really is another world.

    • First, just to be clear, I never played Sojourn MUD for days on end. It was just that my /played there was the first I’d seen measured in days, which scared me. Little did I know how low that number would be relative to what I’d be playing in a few years… ;^)

      In my post, I was just trying to focus you away from virtual vs. real. It’s so much more interesting to talk about how the two interact, as they’re always interacting. The real world always has a direct effect on the game, since there’s really no distinction. Even a board game is highly situated culturally and commercially. What game? Where was it made? How was it made? What supply chains are required for it to be made and distributed? How was it marketed? What are the origins of its rules? Does it require literacy to play? Math? Logic? What types of logic does it favor? How is gender represented in-game? etc etc etc Those are interesting questions, but for me, MMOs raise some more very interesting and specific ones.

      So here, I wonder what’s lost by having cosmetic items in game? How does the ability to directly translate conventional cash into goods break your suspension of disbelief — and why? Why is a shirt purchased with traditional 1st world currency any more off-putting than one purchased with in-game only currency? Both require time to amass. Both represent work traded for consumables. Both sorts of goods accumulation represent very similar rat races. Why is it that a highly structured and controlled rat race in-game is more liberating to you than the rat race of a gameless life? What’s the benefit of keeping a mental distinction between the two? Is there a point at which the online rat race could become the drudgery and you’re excited about your job? Do[es] anyone work at Starbucks to escape their boutique in Second Life? ;^) These are interesting questions with potentially enlightening answers, I think.

      The lack of virtual vs. real is largely the point of Edward Castronova’s work, but it’s a line of inquiry that’s worth extending. Sure, there’s a relatively minimal overlap somewhere, but that’s only a relative measurement. Dig a bit under the surface, and that perception of a minimum overlap is actually a heck of a deep interconnection.

I guess I would sum by saying, "Games always throw RL in your face, there are just times we've let ourselves get too habitualized to notice it." And it's there that the real politics begin.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Dev Watercooler discusses questing past 85

It's an interesting discussion, and good to see (duh) that Blizzard realizes there are people who enjoy questing more than instancing -- or at least those whose lifestyles support 20 minutes (sometimes 2 minutes!) of questing, not and hour or five of instancing and raiding. There should be multiple endgames.

Here's some of their take:

In the absence of gaining levels, there are still ways to reward players who want to continue questing or playing through quest-like experiences. Here are some things (there may be more) that might encourage players like this to stick around:

Participation in an epic story
A sense of progress
Discovery of something new or unexpected each day
Earning character customization (including cool mounts!)
Earning fun toys
Making your character more powerful

That's a good start. Story and gear are certainly my two. I want something memorable. That's been rare. I also want to be able to run instances without detracting from the party. The Catch-22 of having to run an instance to get instance-ready gear is a real pita. And when you don't get to instance that much, you want to overgear slightly to make up for your gameplay. I can PvE with the best of 'em. Not so much run Shadowfang.

We've grappled with this problem before, and we'll continue to tinker with solutions. The Isle of Quel'Danas provided people with a great sense of progression, at least on a realm-wide level, and it sure felt epic. The Argent Tournament definitely gave players a sense of personal progress, as well as lots of fun toys.

Ewww. The Argent Tournament stunk. STUNK. Not fun. The Isle was at least an easy, visually impressive grind, and I got to put my items to good use waxing demons, so there was a little strat going from quest to quest, but it was still more grindy than epic storyline. They're overselling themselves here.

The Guardians of Hyjal are getting smart in patch 4.2. They're not just assaulting the Firelands with hardcore raiding guilds… they're attacking that place with everything they've got. That includes you, solo players! We've created a whole zone dedicated to daily questing. There are some 60 new quests in total -- that's about half a zone's worth of quest content. While the raiders are concentrating on taking down the likes of Ragnaros, you'll be securing the rest of his fiery domain.

There's also a story here, a chronicle of a vicious, knock-down, drag-out fight that begins in Hyjal and progresses -- over the course of weeks -- across the mountaintop and then into the Firelands themselves...

The progression is personal: you won’t see it happen until you make it happen.

Well, let's hope. I did enjoy the story in HyJal the most, though Therazane was the most visually impressive and the Wildhammer Clan the most memorable. The developers essentially beg you to beta test Firelands in the Watercooler piece, asking you to tell them where the storyline ain't hot. W[hy]tf do I want to see the storyline to tell you how to make the storyline better? The whole point of being a causal quester is that I like to run through the stuff once. If I just loved questing and didn't mind seeing content over again, I'd be an alt-a-holic.

And though Matlocker, prot-boy extraordinaire is now 21, I realized this week that it's been six years since I last quested in Duskwood. SIX YEARS. That's how long I like between doing and repeating my quests. I hope they go PTR to roll-out for Firelands in less than 6 years. And even then I want a cataclysm in between and a good reason -- Recruit-a-Friend and a friend -- before I'll run it.

Much of the motivation here is nostalgia. Just look at my complaints about what they did to Stitches and Acheus. I'm upset about a sword I never used, for heaven's sake. I'm not replaying just for fun. I'm not going to run the PTR and then run Firelands again when it's released. I've no interest in "What If" Jalindrine. I want good story and gear that rewards my serious questing and allows me to enjoy the periodic instance the first time.

/thus ends the lesson ;^)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alt Ding -- Prot 20 19

Not real exciting, but I did grab the MacBook to log back into my alt account for a few minutes last night and dinged my prot warrior to 20 19. I think this means I'm nearly ready for a mount (apparently supposed to get a letter about it soon when I hit 20). Wow, I know I'm a "walked to and from school in the snow, uphill both ways, pelted with tiny rocks" kind of guy here, but sheesh, nerf. That's quick, and I'm not even using heirlooms. He's already half-way to Revered with Darn, but that still means he's far enough away that he's going to have to get a mount from someone else. It's been so long since I had to check this out... and before I had a guildie have pity on me, as I remember being 40 without a mount because I kept putting money into new weapons.

Darkshore was actually quite fun this go through, though I'm not quite done. Some lame stuff, sure, but the quests culminating around the vortex in the middle of the zone was a good lore mnemonic. I really don't remember much from the first go with Jal other than Gubber, the Highborne (and the fairly spooky shrieks), some Naga-ish guys, killing crabs, and the corrupted fauna. I guess there was that mechno-something on the beach I had to wax too. But as far as lore or storyline, the new Darkshore does much better. Good elemental invasion/Twilight Hammer tie-in, we see the Highborne again, and the early appearance of Malfurion is nice. Visuals are more impressive (see fire, above), though they would have killed my iBook G4 in 2005.

I feel a little like a tourist playing it as a gnome, but when your buddy's a night elf, well...

Slowly getting Jal's life up at Picasa. Levels 14-28 are up now. Not sure I have anything earlier. Feel like I should be getting Archeology points for doing this.

Guess that's all. Enjoy the Tuesday downtime.

Ah yes, one more update. Got a new monitor for my office to go dual monitor. Bagged a nice dual monitor stand, and have one in portrait now to preview webpages as I code them. It's a good monitor out of the box, fwiw. Very clear. Much better than my previous monitor's LCD. Speakers can barely be heard over my office fan, but I took the externals off of my desk immediately to save space. The price of the monitor is back up to $130, but it was a steal at $110 shipped.

But the upshot for you, of course, is that Jal'll be going to 1920x1080 screenshots when I'm playing on the tower.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Flickr Fail

Well, that experiment didn't work so well. I thought 300 mb/month was a ton of pictures -- and it is. Problem being that only the last 200 of them get to show up to everyone else.

Maybe I'll make 'em smaller and put on PicasaWeb.

The most fun part of this so far are the screenshots that show things I was doing around playing. I'll post one without much info here. The iBook G4 had a hard time keeping up at times, so I'd swap to 800x600 from 1024x768. Problem there is that the screen would look crummy if I used fullscreen -- 800x600 doesn't scale to a 1024x768 pixel screen well. When I hooked up to my external CRT monitor at home, it's no problem, but occasionally I wouldn't, and would go to windowed mode, which was still a serious performance boost over fullscreen at 1024.

So, here, we see I'm reading about college football, have that weird duck-themed AIM client running, seem to be playing on dialup and WiFi (? -- guess those icons have changed meanings), and have Preview open with two images. Other snaps show me looking up stuff on Thott, or doing research for grad school with call numbers visible, etc. Interesting look into the life behind my WoW Life.

Of course the chat from in-game on General is pretty classic too.
1) ugh just got back from there and the traininer [sic] is fresh out of stuff for me
2) GO to IF
1) ironforge?
2) yea
1) how do i get there?

Ah, the good old days, when we weren't sure IF meant Ironforge and didn't have any idea how to get from Auberdine to IF.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A week of rest...

I'm taking a quick week off of WoW to finish some work and get my proverbial ducks into their rows. These ducks include the pre-Heroic level 85 gearing guide and a Flickr account for Jal. I compulsively snap screenshots, and figure I'll put them up, starting with the oldest ones I can find. He's made his way through a number of computers... I'll selfishly take this time to try and remember them.

iBook G4
Rented tower at a gaming bar (2-days)
PowerMac G4 (on campus)
iMac G4
Rented tower at Gamefrog (1 day)
Mac Mini G4
Black self-built Windows tower, incarnation 1
Vostro laptop
Intel Mac Mini
Intel MacBook
Black self-built Windows tower, incarnation 2 (Quad-core)

That's a lot of places for pictures. Can you tell I program for cash and am a little computer crazy? Wonder if I can pick out most of the pictures' sources by resolution. It has been five years, in my defense.

It'll probably only be a week, since my alt account (with just a prot warrior) is only paid up through the 12th, and I'd like to run with my buddy another time or two before that expires. I'd been considering running my alt-account alt through Duskwood during my "time off" as while I wait for my account to come back, as Duskwood was one of my favorite zones for Jal when he was low. I also remembered the Morgan Laidmore/Acheus questline down to being upset I couldn't wield that powerful sword since I was a druid.

Well, turns out my prot warrior can't wield it either. Acheus, and about half of what made Duskwood k3wl, is gone. Goodbye, Real Stitches.

Oh well. It has been fun to run back through the lowbie elf zones, though I miss Gubber.

EDIT: Got the first few/oldest pictures up at

Monday, May 30, 2011

4.2 changes to Valor points

EDIT: STOP SPENDING JUSTICE POINTS NOW. The short story here is that your Justice Points will be worth MORE after 4.2. You'll get serious ilevel 359 gear with Justice Points shortly, instead of the crap you're spending them on now. You will not lose your Valor Points.

(I've reworded this a bit; it looks like a number of people find this post when searching for Valor Point changes.)

Make sense? If you wanted Stormrider's Leggings now and you had 500 Valor Points and 2000 Justice Points, you're toast in 4.1. They cost 2200 Valor Points.

In 4.2, though, your 2000 Old Justice Points will combine with your 500 Old Valor Points, and you'll have 2500 New Justice Points. The Stormrider's Leggings will now only cost 2200 JPs! You're golden!

But if you spent 950 of your 2000 Justice Points on an Apple Bent-Bough during 4.1, an ilvl 346 item, you'd be toast when 4.2 drops. You'd only have 2000-950 = 1050 Old Justice Points + 500 Old Valor Points = 1550 New Justice Points. That's bad. Save your cash and get the good stuff.

So in 4.2 we'll have two new categories of currency. Valor Points v4.1 will become Justice Points v4.2. Justice Points v4.1 will be upgraded to Justice Points v4.2 too. You're going to have a lot of Justice Points v4.2, which can all be used to buy what can currently be purchased with Valor Points v4.1.

There will also be Valor Points v4.2 which can be used to buy gear that's not available in 4.1. Nobody will have any New Valor Points when 4.2 rolls out. Nobody! There's no reason to save VPs 4.1, as you'll be able to buy the same stuff with them in 4.2 as 4.1. But since you'll soon be able to spend Justice Points v4.1 on Valor Points v4.1 gear, you should save all of your Justice Points v4.1 until they appreciate in value in 4.2.

From MMO-Champion - Patch 4.2 Valor Points Rewards, Firelands Ragnaros Video, Blue Posts, Artworks

"Old epic ilvl 359/'Valor' gear is now available from the Justice Points vendor at the same prices.
'Old' rare/Justice Points gear is still for sale at the same price.
When Patch 4.2 is released, your existing Valor Points will be converted to Justice Points.
Normal versions of Bastion of Twilight, Blackwing Descent, and Throne of the Four Winds will be nerfed and will only reward Justice Points.

You can still buy the same pieces with Old (pre-4.2) Valor Points as before. It's just that in 4.2, you can buy them with JP too! It's not really that your old VPs are being nerfed so much as your JPs are getting buffed. You can keep spending your Valor Points on whatever you wanted to spend them on, as their value won't change. Just realize you'll have tons of Old Valor Point equivalents soon when your JPs get buffed.

So you should keep running heroics, knowing you're now getting 70 Old VP equivalents + 70 Old VP equivs per boss now, right?

And randomly -- Why is so slow recently? We might have too many eggs in that basket. Wish someone had told me about WoWPedia earlier too. I was wondering why WoWWiki was so danged out of date.

On the tax payers of virtual economies

I promised myself that I'd stop posting comments on Spinks' blog, as they tend to be too long and dominate the comment scroll. I also don't get a lot of follow-up conversation, honestly, so I'm really wasting everyone's time.

Oh well. Here we went again [sic]. Figured this was interesting enough (to me) to capture here too. This is from Spink's "Enchanting and the gear tax"post.

Or in other words, enchanting is an artificial way to stimulate demand in game.

Two long points.

The in-house Ultima Online researcher (years ago) had a great presentation on the way UO initially wanted to simulate a closed economy. Turns out a market flooded with n00b leather caps and sandals doesn't work so well.

The economic paradigm in UO quickly changed from a closed economy to a "faucet and drain" model. You pump gold in, and you provide drains to pull it back out. It's all subsidies and taxes.

Here, you take the players invested in farming mats (faucets) and crafting (small drain with recipes) who create useful enchants (money magnets/tax collectors) and then you hook larger drains up to these harder-core players -- repairs, guild rewards, mounts, etc.

It's not just demand that's stimulated with enchantments. It's a specific implementation of the faucet/drain system, one that involves setting up a system of tax collectors.

Am I really the only person who would prefer to be able to just grab a cool drop and be ready to go without being asked to do all the legwork for an extra minor bonus? It’s funny, once I used to find these extra complexities so cool. I think that I’m over it now, or at least I’ve done it over again in enough games that I’d rather just cut to the chase.

Second point -- you have to striate the market to maximize its appeal. This is the same as with difficult games and game guides. Who would finish all of Metal Gear Solid without a little help? Same with many quests in MMORPGs. Casual players can read guides. Minigame players and completists can take the time to learn professions. Harder-core players can challenge themselves and prepare for Heroic dungeons (and I can't believe how much time I've wasted researching and then gearing up, and I'm not that hard core).

As my third foray into Heroics showed me very quickly, many don't bother with gems, enchants, etc. It's a way of striating your customer base. You have to provide avenues for multiple playstyles to enjoy your content, whether they're completists, or (and I can't find the reference, which is killing me), folks (apparently young girls in the article I can't find) who would rather drive around Liberty City for fun rather than maim and rob. These are all games within games ["within games," Frank Herbert added, "You have to say it three times to achieve full effect."]. It's not that there's no right way to play. There are many right ways to play.

Very little is more fascinating than "virtual" economies -- of gold, of goods, of bits, and, most importantly, of dollars and time.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

And hello heroics

Though it's technically my second successful heroic, it's the first I've done after completing my mad max gear up and my first since March 17th(!). Had never run Shadowfang before. Was relatively enjoyable. We had one wipe before Lord Godfrey, and then had three. The fourth, we had two go down again, including the priest (who went down first maybe two or three of the four shots; still not sure how that happened), and I hit rebirth to bring her back.

Seconds pass, and no rez. Quick typing (the "@" symbol in my frantic "take the rez!@" is, of course, the Angband guy pleading too) and some mad off-healing later, she's taken my Rebirth and is back, I'm DPSing again, and we finally bring him down (though the priest dies again after we're done. I guess she kept catching the Cursed Bullets, but I wasn't calm enough to see.)

It was one of those exciting gaming moments when you breathe a literal sigh of relief. It's fun and, more importantly, memorable to scoot through by the seat of your pants. I was awfully lucky to have a group patient enough to sit through four wipes and a dungeon guide nice enough to give us the 411 on each boss. And I was even luckier to bag the Chaos Orb when it was done. Strangely, two in the party dropped as soon as Godfrey's loot popped up, not even interested in greeding a few more gold into their pockets.

Overall a good, fun run. I (barely) had burst DPS over 11k when things cut just right, and managed to keep it around 7.5-8.5k outside of trash (ie, bosses) when I wasn't off healing (strangely kept it around 6k+ even when I was). I'm not going to say all those hours of grinding gear paid off, as it's wasted time I could have been spending doing something productive (read: "paid"), but they have made the game more fun.

Wow, as an aside, I just Armoried (this is like Googling a date, isn't it?) the other folks. Gear scores:

Priest 345 (7 unenchanted items)
Shaman 342 (10 unenchanted, 9 empty sockets(!!), no belt buckle, unenchanted ring)
Tank/Prot Paladin 339 (5 unenchanted, 5 missing glyphs, no belt buckle)
DK (Frost) 352 (only thing missing is a Chimera's Eye)

And I thought I was behind. But I'm at 344 equipped and a perfect audit. Makes me wonder how much heroics have changed. The DK was the only guy doing serious damage consistently, but I guess I know why now.

Of course, as I've said before, off-healing is about as fun as it gets, as you really do feel you're the only thing between the group and failure. At least one boss required some off-heals and a tranq pop, and of course I had to heal our way through each of the wipes once the priest died (the first time, some DPS died first and I battle rezzed him, not knowing it was going to get lots worse, which kept me healing for a while). Honestly, that's a ton of fun.

I think the secret to good DPS really is mushroom use. I don't enjoy it, but it's growing on me, har har. I'm also using Pickled Guppy and Scrolls of Intellect, something I haven't done with regularity before.

Phew, I'm going to need to run a little archeology just to calm back down.

In other news, I got a free fishing pole with +25 fishing just for catching up with Nat, and even though some NPCs ignore Deathwing's fire, checking how badly the flames are killing your framerate is not A Good Idea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The end of a grind in achievements

It's finally over. I have the Stump of Time, and now have a gear score of 344. I'm not sure there's much higher level that's useful for a Balance druid that I can get on my own pre-Heroic runs, and nothing I think I can get efficiently. I've regemmed, reenchanted, but not quite yet reforged.

I was going to make a huge retrospective post with tons of pictures, but there were too many, so for now I'm just going to slap in a few of the achievements I got while grinding. And, admittedly, much of this -- particularly Archeology -- was done when I was bored out of my freaking mind during the grinding.

There's at least one more. I received an achievement somewhere about getting 50 Chef's Awards, though I was holding 70 and had spent several before I got it. Seems like lots of the counters for achievements didn't start at Day 0 but at some random implementation point in the future.

Also note the "Next Battle" time for the Baradin's Wardens achievement. Cutting it pretty close. ;^)

I'll try to get up the gumption to write a step-by-step, PvE, casual gamer Balance Gear Guide in the coming days. I ended up buying three pieces, and most of my gear from Normals dropped more than once, iirc, so I think I can give a pretty good, specific list for those leveling alts who want a paint by numbers guide, which I haven't found yet -- which zones to run, which rep to grab in what order, what to buy, etc. Not pick from three items, but get this item, you know? It might not be absolutely "right", but when you're researching this crap, being able to offload all this researching would be nice.

Without further ado...

Victory in Tol Barad