Monday, May 24, 2010

In which Michelinea speaks of Random Topics

So, I learned a few things recently. Many of them are probably pretty clear to anyone who is smarter than me (which includes about 75% of the known universe, or so I feel some days).

One of the first things I figured out is not to say you are going to post more often and then immediately be asked to travel for work a bunch of times. It really cuts into not only your play time, but your writing time. While I enjoy the challenge that comes along with travel, I certainly would rather be at home. I learned that saying your going to post more often is a lot like the 120 pound man walking into a biker bar looking for a fight, your mouth and body are writing checks you just can't cash.

I also learned that while I like to think I'm ma pretty smart cookie, I really am not that smart. This comes from attempting to get into a VOA run the other night. I saw someone asking for DPS for a run. I figured, what the heck, and let them know I was interested. They responded with the normal question of What's your gear score. For once I was confident that I was OK, and let them know it was 5.1K. To which I was told "Sorry, too low." OK, clearly I'm not nearly as smart as I thought. I figured having ICC gear would over-gear me for such a simple thing as VOA, particularly when I was running it and doing fine in tier 9 (and even lower). Oh well, 2 seconds later another call went out in trade for a VOA run, and I was immediately picked up no questions asked. Smacked it too. While I was out-geared by many, there were others below me too. Guess maybe I know a bit more than I thought.

So, a couple weeks ago I saw the beta-test for the Auction house addition to Wow Armory, and immediately thought how cool that would be, hopped out to see that, yep, my server wasn't included. *alligator tears* Too bad, because it could help in my sales. Last week the thing went out saying that it was open for all servers but I was traveling *long dramatic sigh*. I figured out that it was all servers quite by accident on Friday night. After surfing around it getting the lay of the land I decided I would try posting things. OK, this is easy I thought to myself as I proceeded to post a bunch of different glyphs. Then something happened. Something that proves that I needed to RTFM as opposed to learning by doing. During beta they are allowing only 20 posts a day. Not nearly as cool as I could have hoped. I guess for an additional $3 a month, at some point I will be able to post up to 200 a day. Too bad even that it a limit. I guess they have to put some limit for some reason, so better than nothing right? Not sure I want to pay anything extra a month for it since I don't see it replacing my logging on and just selling, but we'll see.

OK, with Paci, I have gotten to 70, which gets me into the LK instances. I think I've said this before. I also think I've mentioned that it has gotten very hard to heal these instances. I may even have crabbed that healers get blamed for failpugs even if it isn't their fault. Well, last night I proved my point, to myself at least. In 11 attempts, I only had 2 successful runs, and both of those were with the same level 80 tank. I know why too. As a healer, I'm expected to get gear that helps me heal better. As a DPS, I am expected to get gear that helps me hit better. WHY IN GOD'S NAME do people think that they can TANK without getting gear to mitigate damage! I saw all kinds of things as I inspected each of the failtanks I had the displeasure of trying to heal. To be clear, I never dropped party without at least attempting to heal these tanks, even the idiot Paladin who was tanking in a mixture of leather and cloth. Please tanks out there, listen to me. GET GEAR TO TANK!

Now, I understand I'm no tank. I've never picked up a piece of tanking gear for my druid except what fell to me by greed and my paladin is somewhere in the low 20's and not able to keep hate to save my life. Come on people please listen to me. By the time you are level 70+ one would think that you have at least the concept that if the healer is getting hit, and you aren't you screwed up, and it needs to be corrected right away. All you wanna-be tanks out there, a little hint for you, if my rejuv's are pulling hate off of you, you need to stop playing as a tank. You can't do it. Go be a DPS, I'm sure that your sub-par damage will make you the life of many parties.

Monday, May 17, 2010

When real life interjects itself

So lately I have been traveling quite a bit for work. This makes it hard to get in the play time I might want to. Thankfully I don't have too many obligations either.

Over the last week I have been working on getting frost badges on Mich so I could get my second piece of tier 10 (Oh yes, I also got my first piece of tier 10). I took the body first since it was the highest number of pieces. I also wanted to skip the hands/shoulders on the off chance that some VOA run I get lucky and can pick up the pieces from a random drop. That means that legs will be next, though I also have been drooling over the trinkets in the Frost vendor at Dal.

Also, I have been spending time getting Paci to level 70. I finally did it Saturday night, which is a nice thing as well. I may have mentioned this before, but it has REALLY become a challenge for me now that I am in the WoTLK instances. I just cannot seem to keep up with the healing and for a while I couldn't for the life of me figure out why. Someone in guild commented that the issue could be the players I was with particularly the Tanks. I started looking at the gear of the tanks I was running with and it dawned on me. Most of the people trying to tank these instances are using DPS gear at best, spell gear at worst. I really thought that I hit level 69 and forgot how to heal, but considering the amount of damage that is being taken by these tanks, I suspect that it is a mixture of their gear and mine. To be fair, I am using a full set of heirlooms and then whatever spell gear I have been able to pick up. I could probably purchase more gear, but I don't see the value. I'm sure the tanks I'm with probably are thinking the same thing, though I would at least try to get the defensive heirlooms if they really plan on tanking long term.

Hopefully I'll get through these last 10 levels soon so I can move on to the fun of starting to gear up my healer/lightning chicken.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cataclysm Alphagate

At first I wasn’t really going to write about the whole Cataclysm Alphagate affair, but it got me to really thinking about it, which can be a bad thing. At first I was amazed at how long pictures were allowed to be left up as well as how they even seemed to be added to on a couple of occasions. The more I thought about it, the more questions I began to have:
  • Was Blizzard unaware?
  • Did they not care that this unofficial fansite had gotten stuff it wasn’t supposed to?
  • Was their NDA so poorly written that they were stuck?
  • Was it a clever marketing ploy to build interest and demand for a product that in all likelihood was still months away?

That last I thought initially was the most likely, but the more I think about it the more I think I was wrong. This is the conspiracy theorist in me I am sure. While it makes a great image in my head of smoky, dimly lit rooms in the Blizz headquarters with trench coat wearing men and women sitting around a small table lit only by a desk lamps “Bob, here is what you are going to do. You are going to take these pictures and leak them out to MMO-champion. Tell them you are part of the Alpha…” *winkwinknudgenudge*

Now the more I think about the whole situation, I suspect that it wasn’t any of my initial thoughts. More likely, based on my limited experience in the business world there needed to be several meetings to determine if there was a risk, and if there was one, what was the damage caused by it. After that was done, a risk register was needed. From there a Decision tree was followed to decide if it was a high risk/high probability issue (Since it already had happened I bet it was at least a high probability issue). Once that was all decided an email was sent to someone in legal to get their take.

The legal-monkey was in court that day, and his blackberry was turned off, so a paralegal got it, looked at it, yelled “Oh shit, we’ve got problems,” and promptly hid their head in the sane. After the legal-monkey returned he read the email proceeded to in his or her well mannered way yell “Oh shit, we’ve got problems”. From there they decided to send an email to say we need to do something about it, but were in email jail so had to clean out a bunch of things first, at which point a finance-monkey called saying that their foursome for golf had room for one more, and off the legal-monkey went.

At about two in the morning when the legal-monkey remembered what they were doing before hitting 3 hole-in-ones on the links, they are back at their computer cleaning out email so they could get out something saying “Take those pictures down, tell us who gave them to you or risk being dragged through a long and boring, completely counter intuitive back-assward court proceeding that will cost you lots of money and you’ll still pull the pictures down.”

Next thing you know we have Alphagate, and all of us bloggers have something interesting to write about for at least two weeks (which is about what it is now and I’m just getting around to putting fingers-to-keyboard).

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Banner! I have one!

As some of you might know, or might not for that matter I have been trying to make my blog look more...I don't know what the word is, correct.

To that end,  I wanted a banner, but I am picture deficient. Nothing I did looked like something a four old hadn't drawn. To that end, I enlisted the help of my good friend Judd to put together something cool. He did. And it's above. Ogle at it, Oooh at it, Aaaah at it, Come one you know you wanna!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blog Azeroth Weekly - leveling from 1 - 10 (Continued)

So, I have been kicking around for a while the idea of posting more than once a week. I often have more to talk about in a week than one post, and I on occasion will have drafts backed up that I could use to make my updates more often. To that end, I am going to try to shoot for two to three posts a week and see if I can keep up that schedule. I will see how this goes and decide if this is worth it, or if it is just me and too much hot air.

A while back I started the Blog Azeroth shared topic of leveling from 1-10. you can find it here. I decided to take some time with BlogMonkey and see how it went. I started out by continuing to run around the Draenai starting area. In about a period of forty-five minutes I had gone from 3-10 by only following the quests that I found as I went. I also picked up fishing, mining and tailoring along the way and started on my path to making millions of virtual gold.

I am not really going to go too deep into individual quests, paths to follow, and the what not because I found much better written by others with a simple Google search. What I want to talk about instead is what I think a new person may feel through these beginning stages.

First, I have to make some assumptions. I wanted to try to give myself the closest to "real" feeling. I decided I would try to mimic the feeling of new-ness that people who join WoW without being dragged in by a friend or ten.I did a few things to try to simulate that for myself. While I couldn't get rid of my knowledge of WoW as a game mechanic wise I could "forget" other things to make it more realistic.

I purposely did not tell anyone I was doing this, and did not send any tells to friends (in fact I never even put anyone on my friends list). I also didn't get myself into my guild. I decided that any people I met/talked to for the length of the experiment would be completely new people. Along that line, I didn't really get to meet anyone or talk to anyone until well into level 8. Now, that isn't for lack of trying on my part. Right from level 1 I tried talking to people I ran into around the world. Often I got no response, or if I did get a response it was clipped and short. At level 8 though I did get a hunter to work with me on a couple of quests. Looking at his gear, he clearly is a vet player since he had a full set of BoA's. Either way he was nice enough, and we were able to plow through quite a few quests in a very short time.

I also did not provide BM (eww, she will not be called that ever again) any BoA gear pieces or gold to get herself started. In general I never felt a want for gold as I played, nor did I feel that I was unreasonably rich. I didn't really do anything special other than selling junk I picked up from the quests and mobs and quest rewards. I never asked for a hand out, nor did I ever play on the Auction House at all. This was a balance that I was really impressed by. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to do, considering I always felt poor in my early days in Final Fantasy XI.

I did not use any of the "quest guides" that circulate around the net as addons or specific sites, nor did I read anything ahead of time. I tried hard to go in as blind as I could to the area and the quests. As I went through and ran the quests, I really enjoyed the stories. Many of them are as deep and interesting as I have seen, particularly considering these are starting area quests that often are there mostly to get you started in the game. To expand on that, I have to say Blizzard does a fantastic job with their lore throughout the game. I love doing quests even now that I am level 80 just to read the stories.

But, there is a negative here that I noticed and was sad to me. There really was no challenge in the new "easier" quests. All of the early quests are against non-aggressive mobs that ignored me as I beat up their friends to get whatever it was that I needed. Even once I got into the realm of aggressive monsters after about level 5 or 6, I never really had a fear that anything I was fighting would truly hurt or kill me. A while back, before the dumbing down of quests for new players I had a friend who did the 10 day trial. He did not like that death had no meaning, and in fact that he could use it as a strategy to get some quests done. I can understand his feeling even though I know that death does have a meaning, though it is more monetary and time at higher levels. Now, death has even less meaning, and it isn't needed as a strategy. I didn't die once in the time from 1-10, and never for a second worried that I would die. The quests have become too easy in my eyes. Between the quest helper map, dumbed down quests, lack of aggressiveness, and overall counts of mobs in areas it is very simple for a new player to advance along without any pain.

I actually find that last negative, fairly large from a personal standpoint. I think that if I were a new player plowing through these first 10 levels I would not make it the whole length. I'd get bored and go do something else that was more of a challenge to me. I believe the pendulum has swung too far, making early levels too easy.

The other way the easy 10 levels to start with can be taken is to give a false impression of one's own worth.A new player is just that new. As they fly through the first 10 levels, one could come to believe that the entire length of the game is the same way; as many of us will attest, it is not. Often things are a struggle, and can be a down right bitch. Once a person makes level 11 or so, they may find themselves being smacked around like the proverbial red-headed step gnome, causing dis-satisfaction and a reason to quit.

All in all, I think I learned a good bit as I went through this experiment. I was helped along the way early by a number of people so missed out on some things that I noticed this time around. I also got to see some of the genius of Blizzard as well as at least one place where they can do some more work.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Battleground PvP Sad Times

So I think in my last post I pointed out that I was enjoying PvP again after having done a few battlegrounds because of the Children's Week Achievement. Last night I had some free time so I decided to queue up for some head bashing and see if I can get a few Arena points out of the deal (not that I am really sure what I'm going to do with them). Queue time was pretty quick, I think I got picked up after about twenty seconds of waiting. Arathi Basin. Awesome! Nothing like trying to hold the Lumber Mill from the likes of those stinking Horde!

Off I went, content in my ability if not my gear (I noticed that I hadn't gemmed or enchanted a good part of my gear). That will need fixing, but that's another story for another day. While we waited for the pink hold us back fence to drop I saw someone say in BG "I'm just here for the achievement, will anyone help me?" Feeling a bit sympathetic, I sent him a whisper telling him to follow me to the lumber mill, I'd help him get it. Pink fell, and we were off. He and I ran up the hill and low and behold a single Tauren was there, trying to Cap. How he got there before me I'll never know, but it didn't matter, 1 Death Grip later and the guy was dead, in about 5 seconds. He didn't even seem to fight back. The guy I was helping (I wish I remember his name, If it was you, Send me a note) ran over to the flag capped it and must have spooged all over his monitor. He couldn't stop gushing about how he finally had gotten it. He couldn't believe it. I chuckled, patted him on the head and went on my merry way  to go help out at the farm. Seeing a HUGE number of red names I changed direction and ran to the Horde main building instead where a lone warlock was standing. Immediately I start seeing "xxSepth offers you a truce." spammed in my chat window. Oh god. Another Children's week person.

Feeling remotely sympathetic since clearly some other Hordie had capped this, leaving the poor guy to fend for himself I nodded and capped the flag, then proceeded to let him Cap it back. He emoted a bow and off he went. I capped it a second time and ran off to find some fight. Somewhere. Anywhere. Right now to me even the big mess of a farm looked good. Just as I said that to myself two Horde members came up the hill toward the flag I had just capped. Off I went, ready to kill a few horde members. I landed between the two just as they were reaching the flag and proceeded to pounce on the one that looked like she was wearing cloth. Again, killed her in about 5 seconds. At least this one tried to fight back, I saw a cast bar begin a smite. Umm WTF? SMITE? With me standing on top of you? Ok. You deserve to die. In the mean time the friend had begun to cap the flag. Nope, not happening. Death coil (Have I said lately how much I love death coil?) to the head to stop the cap and I proceed to smack him. Down. Hard.

Isn't this like shooting fish in a barrel? No, I don't think so, I am definitely not geared and strong enough to be winning these fights so quickly. Either way, just as I finish mounting up and deciding where to go next, these two come waltzing back to the flag. And then I see it. Something I now have learned to dread "Blahblah offers you a truce." UH HUH! I may be slow and dim, but I can figure this out. More people looking for the achievement. *sigh* I did just kill these two. I might as well help them. Yes, I am too nice, but I really feel bad for these people who clearly don't want to be here, and is it really fun to kill people who so seriously don't want to be here? I am really not that big an ass, though some days I want to be. A bow emote later, and a cap/recap and they are on their way.

Just as that was finishing, a Horde Death Knight comes waltzing up. The other two mount up and run away. "I'matotaldouche offers you a truce." *shrug* I bow to him showing he can cap it too, at which point he totally beats the everliving crap out of me. One second I am bowing and stepping away the next I am looking at the gray screen asking me to release. I had been snookered, clearly that guy was just out for beating the crap out of me, never wanting to do the achievement. (Yes, I is smart and junk). Just as I am waiting for the last 8 seconds to elapse in the graveyard so I can go find Mr. Douche the win splash screen popped up. I guess that'll have to be good enough for me, Mr. Douche, whoever you are I hope that you get your ass handed to you by every single alliance player out there until you are so black and blue you never, ever, ever want to do another battleground again.

The rest of the Battle Grounds I did last night were much of the same. I was not going to let I'matotaldouche ruin it for all of the other hordies out there. Anytime anyone offered a truce I provided them with what ever it was they needed to get the achievement. Through it all though, I died a little inside. I couldn't wait until today so Children's Week would end and I could actually have fun playing in BGs again without having to feel bad for all the people out there who wouldn't enter one if it wasn't for the event.

In which I talk about PVP and Continuing on my way to the elusive Proto-Drake

So while I hemmed and hawed, bitched and complained about the Battleground achievement in the For the Children Meta-Achievement, I still went out and did it.

I have to say,  I was annoyed that I had to do it, and I didn't really want to. I hadn't done battlegrounds in a long time. I was crabby about it. I admit it. I did some of the standard bitching on guild chat about it, and even stormed off in a huff a  couple times. But, I did it. I finished it.

Somewhere along the line I even started to enjoy it. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed some battlegrounds and it got me to want to do them again. With a stipulation. I really didn't like doing battlegrounds where my goal is to not win, but instead meat some weird criteria (cap a tower, capture a flag instead of a base, etc). I even found myself doing some battlegrounds yesterday after I had completed the Achievement, just for the fun of trying to punk some Horde. Coming from a MMO that had little to no PvP in it, I didn't think I would ever get into it. The only other MMO experience I had ever had that included PvP was Eve online, which consisted of dying to people so far beyond my level of equipment that I never had a chance. With WoW, that really isn't the case, gear is important, but dying doesn't cause me to lose everything I have worked hard to gather. Instead it is more a pasttime of fun, not work.

Now, I will never be a PvP god/whore/monger, but it definitely is a bit of fun to do when I get tired of leveling, questing, cooking, raiding, exploring, crafting, playing the Auction House, or just chatting with whomever is around.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Heroics, Have we come so far

So recently I was in a random heroic with a couple of guild mates. We were all trying to get our Frost Emblems for the day so it didn't really matter to us what we got. Now, as a bit of background, of the DPS (which was the three guild members) I was the lowest GS with 5104. I was also the newest to WoW, and the least experienced in general though I have been playing and doing heroics for well over a year. The other two folks I see doing ICC runs all the time, and when I glanced at their gear I could only drool at the amount of 264 and 277 stuff they were wearing. It makes my 232 and 254 stuff look sad.

Anyway, we didn't get one of the new WotLK heroics, we got Gundrak. A quick buff up and we were on our way. The tank began by taking a few seconds to mark the first mob to attack with a Skull. No big deal I thought and for the first couple I tried to kill that one first, but unfortunately I would get there just in time for it to die. The one time that I got there first I three-shot the skull and happily moved on to whatever monster was closest to me, never thinking anything of it.

After a few pulls in party the tank made a comment that took me at least by surprise. I am taking the time to marking mobs, DPS please take the time to kill them first. Wow. Umm, I thought we were. One of the other DPS made the comment quickly after this stating that the things were dying too quickly for him to hit the skull first. Anyway, I can understand why the tank wants us to kill what he says first, I suspect that he probably comes from a group of players not quite at the level of experience/gear that we are used to. Looking at his gear, I felt somewhat affirmed in my feeling. First his GS just barely broke 4100, and looking at it, the gear mostly comes from heroics, no raids or tier gear.

This got me to thinking, have some of us gone too far. With the obvious exception of the WotLK heroics (most notably the Halls of Reflection) just about every person I play with is hugely over geared and over experienced for the instances. Things that I have seen in other MMO's don't really apply right now.

As an example of things that don't apply. I don't think I've seen a Mage sheep a mob, a priest shackle a mob, a hunter trap a mob in a heroic in just about forever. The general process for heroics for me, and likely many others is tank grabs aggro in one of a couple of ways (run in the middle of a group of mobs, deathgrip a mob to bring him over, or charge a group of mobs, then dropping AOE as fast as possible). Then the DPS haul off with whatever they have at hand. Typically the highest AOEs that they have, or at least things that will cause the most damage. From there we burn everything down as fast as we can paying little to no attention to anything other than the amount of DPS being done. In fact, it's not unusual to see healers dropping Starfall, lightning totems, Smite, Wrath, Holy Nova or whatever offense they have (As a Resto-Druid, I know this is because it is a way for us to stay away from passing out from sheer boredom). This is then a rinse and repeat process with almost no interaction from the players running the instance until the end where the obligatory "ty for the run" party message as you hit the leave group option from the drop down.

Is this the way the game is going? No interaction required, just run and gun as fast as possible for anything other than the most end-game content? I hope not, and in fact I don't think it is. If you look at the WotLK heroics that were added with one of the 3.x patches they require something more than go kill junk fast. Particularly I point to things like the PoS hill of hell that has rows of casters behind rows of melee. Go ahead, next time you are in that instance and try to just burn those suckers down without paying attention to who is killing who/what. I suspect you will find you and your party dead, and probably not pleased with you. It is probably the first time I saw some serious thought and discussion on how to get through a heroic. Similar with other places such as the Halls of Reflection first room. The first few times I did it it with a random heroic group at least one person didn't believe or understand the idea of line of sighting that junk so they don't tool on the group. In fact it seemed to take about two months to really get the hardest of the hard heads to understand and not just wholesale kill us right off the bat.

That being said, it makes me wonder what is really in store for us with the Cataclysm roll out. All these things about class changes, pretty pictures of new zones, etc don't really tell me what the game will really play like. Maybe we will get more of the new WotLK type game, or maybe we will get more of the old WotLK game. either way I look forward to seeing what Blizz has in mind for us next.