Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Kiiva progress update!

Kiiva is now 70 and in Northrend. It's good to be back.

Look a little familiar? I guess I just really like that spot overlooking Daggercap Bay..

My bank alt has 1700g, and I think I will easily be able to afford epic flying, cold weather flying, and dual spec by time time I need them. Making money in the game is something that I really enjoy doing, and it's exciting that Kiiva has full 20 slotters, high professions, her epic mount, and loads of cash left over as she goes into Northrend - all without any external help from my other characters or friends.

I've tried to rein myself in and not bore everyone with a trickle of small updates on how I was going - but I think 70 is a worthy enough milestone to mention. I'm still having a lot of fun doing everything from scratch - but I have to admit that I'm really itching to get to 80 and do some healing again!

Onward to 80 - and to healing!

More "casual" stuff; latest big changes

I opened an enormous, squirmy can of worms when I posted about "Casual vs Hardcore". Not that I was the first to do that, of course.

And as I mentioned, Blizzard is clearly making it their new direction to offer up more of the game to what most people refer to as "casual" players (although the definition of casual blurs according to your own personal views and ingrained stereotypes). Part of this is to apparently make raiding "easier" (more accessible in their view), but there have also been a number of other changes over recent months to allow people more flexibility in order to play with their friends.

Whether or not you like or agree with these changes is a very personal thing. Personally, I sit on the fence somewhere between wishing the game wasn't getting easier, and appreciating that it makes much more sense for the vast majority of people to be able to enjoy the game and have changes made that allow them easier enjoyment of it.

While there are some changes and nerfs that I think cheapen the game a little, I'm certainly not one of the people saying that "casuals are ruining the game"; I think that is extreme.

I think we should really refer to this as catering to the "socials", not "casuals". The term casual really seems to carry a negative stereotype, and for some reason casual is synonymous with "scrubby". We know this isn't always the case - there are plenty of players and guilds who play on casual schedules due to real life commitments, but are just as skilled and dedicated as the "hardcore" players.

Blizzard have recently announced two interesting changes - one slated for 3.2, the other for "sometime" - that should be pretty big for social players.

Latest changes for socials

Two new interesting changes have been announced for the future.

1. The ability to change your faction (ie Horde to Alliance or Alliance to Horde), transforming your character to that of the opposite faction, while keeping your class (and I assume, most possessions). This is a future change, for sometime down the track (likely in a major content patch, or it may even be something implemented in the next expansion).

2. The ability to extend your raid lockout period by one week, to allow groups to keep working on an instance if they want more time. This will be released with Patch 3.2.

Faction change

This is pretty huge. It's a great change for people who rolled a particular faction and perhaps found themselves segregated from friends who play on the opposite side. Social players will be able to opt to change over to the other faction to find a new home with friends on that side. It also means that players are able to experience the other side of the game - without "throwing away" the progress made on your main character.

Future changes will allow you to change faction, in addition to already
being able to change your character's gender, appearance, name, and realm.

So you can go experience the Horde side of Warcraft without throwing away your gear, achievements and whatnot, and have to start over. Considering that I have actually done this twice now, I couldn't help wincing a little :P

For raiders and PvPers, things are a little less cut and dried, and although not much has been announced yet (we need to be patient!) Here are my questions:

- what about faction specific reps? Will they be erased, or will you get the equivalent - eg Stormwind=Orgrimmar, Exodar=Silvermoon, etc? What about PvP reps that are faction based (one would assume these would just swap over, surely)?

- will you lose achievements based on the above?

- what about faction specific mounts? Will you lose them? Or will you magically score the equivalent city's mounts (as above)? And the PvP mounts?

- Would you lose your Wintersaber/Ravasaur if you had one? Yiiiiikes. That would be tough to give up! Such is the price of faction flexibility though, I suppose..

- will "Realm First! Level 80 Night Elf" disappear, or forever live on in your Undead's achievement pane as something worth a giggle every now and then?

- will people keep their Black War Bears and still be credited with killing the leaders of their OWN faction?

- will this mean a way to transfer BoA items to the other side?

Obviously there are standard questions like "what's the cooldown period" and whatnot.. but I'm more interested in what will happen to your statistics when you take the plunge and go to the dark side. Interesting stuff.

I don't know that I could change Keeva, I love her too much as a character. I don't see her as a lump of pixels to be shunted around at will to do whatever suits me. Much like Caoimhe, my first druid who was "retired" when I rolled Keeva, Keeva is now on hiatus. She may come back later if I want to play Horde again, but for now she is on a break.

But then, part of me can't stop thinking about all her achievements, titles, long ground-out reps, and those 5 Legendary shards in the bank..

Something else I wonder about is whether this will cause massive faction imbalance overnight on servers and battlegroups where people have long wished they were on the other side. What if a battlegroup notorious for terrible Horde players all suddenly change to Alliance? :P

For raiders, it will mean that you might no longer have to consider uprooting yourself and your guild to move to another server to boost your pulling power and find new recruits. If Alliance isn't working out for you but you spot a great Horde guild, it will be easy to make the switch without having to relocate all of your characters. As a raiding guild, you'll suddenly have access to twice as many potential players - we may see some cross-faction guild mergers happening rather than entire guilds relocating to try to boost their numbers.

It should be interesting to see how Blizzard are going to handle this, and what it will mean for faction balance on the realms. Will we suddenly see a massive shift one way or the other? Or will people casually drift from one side to the other, according to PvP and raiding opportunities that pop up over time?

Future changes?

So far, to allow players more flexibility without having to reroll or start over, Blizzard has introduced:

- server transfers
- paid name changes
- PvE to PvP transfers (which was never going to happen)
- paid gender/appearance changes
- faction changes (in the future)

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if further down the track they introduce paid class changes. I'm also waiting for account-wide achievements, reputations, special items etc.

Raid period extension

In 3.2, raid groups will be able to opt to extend their raid period to 2 weeks.
A new feature has been introduced in this build, you can now extend your raid lockout to make them last one more week. This is probably very useful if your guild is trying to get a specific boss down and doesn't really need any other loot in the instance, you can just get one more weeks of tries without having to clean everything in the way.

As quoted above, this is going to be very useful for hardcore and casual guilds alike, if they are working on a particular boss but can't quite get it down on the last night of the week - VERY frustrating!

While progression guilds will probably be interested in this for the weeks when they are working on new content, I think that it will be even more exciting for casual guilds who only raid for a couple of hours a few nights a week (or less), or sometimes find it hard to put a group together. They won't lose their progress in an instance because they can choose to continue the following week.

Obviously this means sacrificing a week of drops from those earlier bosses that you're already locked out of, but it does give you that flexibility of being able to decide whether to keep pressing on with new content, or start over for more gear.

There hasn't been any clarification yet about whether this would mean you could be "trapped" in a 2 week lockout if you go along to a pug and they decide to extend to 2 weeks; I think that is the main concern at the moment.

A change that helps everyone progress at their own pace

This is definitely a change that is great for casuals and hardcore alike; although I'm sure there will be some people complaining that it is catering to people who are bad and can't kill bosses. Personally I think it's a really great change for the guilds out there who love to raid but can't always field a team or have real life commitments that eat into their playtime.

A hardcore guild might raid 4 nights, 4 hours at a time; a casual 2 nights for 4 hours. Now the casual guild will have the option to raid for 16 hours in one lockout period, like the hardcore guilds have been able to - but do it over a fortnight if that's what their schedule allows. It will still be slower than people who can devote more time, but without the hassle of having to spend the bulk of your raid time reclearing the instance to get a few tries on the new boss and then run out of time.

That is something that was always frustrating - granted you would get gear along the way, but spending 3.5 of your 4 nights just getting BACK to the boss you're working on, having a few tries and then running out of time... ugh. At least this way you will be able to say, "Ok, we're out of time.. let's keep trying next week."

Should be interesting to see what the options will be to reset the lockout after that first week has expired though. Will individuals be able to opt out? Or will they be locked in? Will guilds be able to do an extra night or two, then opt out and have the rest of a normal lockout to start the instance over?

I may not agree with all of the changes that Blizzard has rolled out over time, and yes, I am "hardcore at heart" and not afraid to admit that I DO think skilled and dedicated players should get greater rewards and recognition.. but I still recognise that there are players out there who simply don't have the time. I'm all for changes that help these players raid when they want to and progress at their own pace.

I can see a lot of positive things coming out of these changes - for both types of players.

Monday, June 29, 2009

TBJ Rawrcast: July 4th

I'm going to be chatting with the guys from The Rawrcast Show on the 4th of July!

I'll have to double and triple check my timezones, but I think that 4PM CST on Saturday is 7AM Sunday (GMT+10) for me. So I'm gonna be rockin' the podcast in my jim-jams and bunny slippers on a chilly Sunday morning here in Queensland, Australia.


Stompalina already has a bunch of stuff lined up to chat about - but if you have any questions etc, please let me know, or jump onto the Rawrcast forums. I can't make any promises on what I can mention or cover - it's Stomp's show, not Keeva's show - but I'll see what I can sneak in if she lets her guard down.. ;)

Hope you guys can stop by and listen in; judging from past shows it will be a lot of fun!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What did I miss?

Wow, gone a few days and my reader is jammed with entries about 3.2 patch notes, set bonuses, and changes. That's cool though, everyone covered it nicely so I don't have to! :P

One huge change pertinent to my previous entry about "casual" vs "hardcore" is the change to the badge system:
Any dungeons that previously dropped Emblems of Heroism or Valor, such as Naxxramas or Heroic Halls of Stone, will now drop Emblems of Conquest instead. Emblems of Conquest can still be converted to Valor or Heroism.

So, Heroism and Valor will no longer drop from anywhere - instead, the heroics, 10 mans and 25s that dropped these badges (eg Heroic Nexus, 10 man Naxx, 25 man Malygos) will drop Emblems of Conquest. You can either use these for Conquest gear, or exchange them 1 for 1 for Heroism or Valor tokens, to buy those items.

The upshot: you can kit yourself out in Conquest and Valor gear without ever setting foot in a 25 man raid.

The hardcore raider in me screams "WHAT A RIP OFF! Now anyone can get Ulduar gear without having to work hard in Ulduar!"

The casual Kiiva in me rubs her chin and says, "Nice, now I can get Ulduar gear without having to work hard in Ulduar..."

Well, not exactly. But it DOES mean that I don't have to play "catch up" trying to gear my rerolled character up to the tier of raiding that I want to be playing in. I won't have to run old 25 mans (if I don't want to) to be able to get gear of an adequate standard to go do Ulduar or start out in the next lot of raiding. If I want to, I can just run heroics with a few friends in order to dress Kiiva in some shiny epics.

On the other hand, running the "old" stuff now has a purpose after you've grabbed all the drops out of them that you need. Heroics, after finishing reps and whatnot, were places I never bothered with again (unless for mounts and achievements). Now, I can go do heroics or Naxx and grab Conquest badges to be able to gear Kiiva or get her some items for offspec.

As Spinks said in Gevlon's post - this is an alt patch. Archangel added the point about dual spec. It gives people a reason to go back and do these heroics and raids once they've exhausted the achievements and taken all the drops they needed. And I would add that it is also a reroller patch - allowing people to reroll without thinking they'll have to spend months catching up to the level of gear they need.

The change will also help people who need/want to take a break from the game but don't want to "fall behind" the gear curve when they get back. My previous post had a number of people saying that they came along halfway in TBC and struggled to be able to raid because they were always behind. With this change, you won't have to run Ulduar in order to be ready for Icecrown. You can use your half hour here and there to keep gearing your character (at a more relaxed pace) and still be able to jump into Icecrown if you want to get back to raiding (this may be me).

The casual in me says "sweet change!" but I can understand how the hardcore raiders, taking their items on DKP saved for weeks, might be.. slightly pissy.

I believe I'll be setting up camp on this here fence. :P

Friday, June 19, 2009

Short holiday!

I'm going to the beach for a week for a badly needed holiday.

Normally I would slip out silently and nobody would probably know - but I have received a lot of emails lately, particularly about Grid functionality, so I wanted to let everyone know that I haven't disappeared, I'll be back in a few days.

I might do a followup post on Grid to answer some questions that people have had recently. :)

See you soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Counter-rant: Not all hardcore raiders are a$$holes, you know.

Jacemora wrote a piece on being tired of the term "casual", and on being tired of hearing hardcore raiders complain that the current content is too easy.

Personally, I am tired of people lumping all of the "hardcore raiders" into a group that is apparently a bunch of egotistical jerks who care only about themselves - and, according to commenter ARA - are uneducated cretins who speak only "pigswill". Sweeping generalisations work both ways.

When I state that I think the game is getting too easy, it is not because I am an egotistical hardcore raider rambling incoherently about big bad Blizzard taking away the hard stuff of the "good old days" and handing out boss kills like candy. It is because I genuinely believe that some changes are unwarranted and make the game feel less and less engaging.

I don't take it to the extreme of the beta players complaining that mounts at level 20 "cheapen" what they worked so hard for in vanilla WoW. I earned the gold for my first epic mount by selling a few crafted items per week for 2 or 3 gold. I worked for it. But I don't cry that giving mounts to level 20 players for 5 gold is a horrible change. I think it will help make the game a lot more enjoyable for many people, and it doesn't take away from my game experience.

But the current raiding content leaves a lot to be desired for the serious raider, and I'm sorry, but having that opinion that does not make me an egotistical, swill-spouting, burger-flipping retard.

New Naxx and entry level content

Naxx was far, far too easy. Anyone who says it wasn't is a fool. It was made easy because very few people got to experience it originally; so it was toned down (a little too much) and branded as "entry level raiding" so that everyone had a chance to experience raiding if they wanted.

The problem is that for the serious raiders, Naxx was ridiculously easy and horribly boring. It was cleared in the first night or two, and very quickly became a 3hr or less instance. My guild started doing 3 hour clears the second raid reset. In greens. lolwut? And this is not me blowing my guild's trumpet - before people start up with the egotistical crap - it is a fact that guilds could go in wearing Northrend greens and blues and leftover T6 and clear the entire raid in a single night. The alarm bells went off immediately. We were concerned for the future of competitive raiding.

BUT, remember, it was meant to be entry level raiding - and Blizzard assured us that Ulduar would be much harder. Phew.

But it isn't. It's harder than Naxx, but it's not hard. Sure you probably can't grab 24 random people and go clear it, but there are plenty of casual guilds progressing through quite quickly. I see guilds that would probably never have cleared BT clearing up to Vezax and working on Yogg. That's great for those guilds, but for the serious raiders, it really cheapens the game because there's no longer that true feeling of accomplishment if people can go in and zerg it.

And despite it being quite easy, they continue to nerf it because they want everyone to be able to "experience" the content. That's a noble cause, and I know that if I could only raid once a week (as I used to) I would want to be able to see all of those bosses (over time). I don't want to take that away from people who have tight schedules and can't raid 5 nights a week. But when you can walk into an instance and clear all but the last couple of bosses in one reset, something is wrong.

Of course, Blizzard's counter to this complaint is the various hard modes - set in place to keep the "hardcore" raiders happy. Normal modes allow everyone to experience the content, hard modes give more of a challenge to the "serious" raiders. This is another noble cause, and I really can't fault them on that. They're trying to keep both sides of the player base happy.

As a hardcore raider though, I have lost most of my interest in hard mode fights because I do see them as the same old content with an extra gimmick or two thrown in to keep us occupied for a little longer. Of course they're challenging (in before "but you haven't done hardmodes so you can't talk!"), but it's still the same boss, just made more annoying.

"This is too easy for us" is not the same as "Your casual 10 man guild sucks ass."

I know that sometimes it can sting when you see hardcore raiders whine that the content is too easy and that Blizzard is catering to casuals. I know this because I have gone from casual raider to hardcore raider and then back to casual again (well, I'm not hardcore at the moment). And you'd better believe it makes me feel like a second class citizen at times, when I see people knocking others down because their armory doesn't show any hard mode achievements. I hate it.

In terms of my blogging, it often makes me feel like some kind of imposter, trying to be some kind of authority on my class when I haven't even done any hard modes.. for shame. I know some people will know the feeling I am talking about.

I have the advantage of knowing how it feels to be casual AND hardcore. I have played in guilds where I knew the frustration of only being able to raid once a week, but still wanting to progress. And I've been in hardcore guilds raiding 20+ hours per week. It's difficult because I'm not one of the people who think raids should ONLYbe for serious raiders. I'm NOT saying that "casual" players shouldn't get to do these bosses. We all want to enjoy the game. But the fact is, for serious, vanilla-bred raiders, this stuff IS too easy, and hardmodes are just gimmicks. We want something that we can really sink our teeth into.

That's not "a load". It's a fact. The current content is too easy for hardcore raiders. The hard modes (from what I understand) are meant to fill the void, but for me, personally, I see them as a stop-gap measure to keep the serious raiders happy until the next content patch.

This is really driven home when Blizzard keeps nerfing the base content in ways that are totally unnecessary. Why nerf Hodir's flash freeze on Yogg? Cancelaura macros are NOT HARD. If you were standing that close to a cloud in the first place, then you fail. Hardcore or casual, organised or PUG, learn to not stand near Bad Stuff(TM). Blizzard shouldn't need to nerf something so fundamental. Make it more obvious (like the colour change to voids on Sartharion) but don't give everyone training wheels.

It is this type of nerf that makes the hardcore raiders angry - the unnecessary nerfs to fundamental aspects of fights that simply do not need to be changed. It trivialises the fight even further.

Trivial base content is disheartening for serious raiders.

This is the crux.

If they continue to nerf the encounters such that every man and his dog can clear Ulduar, especially with silly, wholly unnecessary nerfs that even the puggiest pug should not have issues with, then more and more raiders will continue to bleed from the game because they see the content as trivial. Many casual raiders will probably say "good riddance", but the fact is that hardcore raiders enjoy this game too, and are disheartened by what they see as "dumbing down" of the raiding that they have enjoyed over time.

For a lot of people, this is not about whining, or a holier-than-thou attitude. It's about perceived loss of a challenge that they have enjoyed over the course of years. I think that many hardcore raiders have extrapolated what they've seen so far in WotLK and it's not looking good. To them, their game - raiding - is becoming trivial and disappointing. That's not whining. It's not insulting casuals. That's how it feels. The challenge is no longer there if everyone can do the instances and there's no longer any exclusivity, no longer any feelings of awe when you look up to the guilds clearing the top content.

When Ensidia cleared Naxx in the first night, I wasn't impressed. I was disappointed. In fact, I kinda pitied them. They had finished the game with months to wait for new content. Yuck.

And that's pretty much how I feel now. Guilds that I used to really look up to.. they don't impress me anymore. They're still skilled players - that hasn't changed - but there's nothing to set them apart.

I have to be honest, not even the Algalon kills impressed me :/ No, I haven't seen him, obviously - and I'm positive he would kick my butt - but after a mostly underwhelming boss experience in Ulduar, there's just no sense of achievement. Not because I think I'm amazing or my guild was amazing, but that it just wasn't that hard. No Kael, no Archimonde.

Hard modes to the rescue, rite? Although I haven't experienced them myself, I can see how quickly the raiding guilds are clearing the hard modes and that in itself is quite disappointing. It won't keep them busy for long.

Giving everyone a chance to see the content is great. I don't want to take that away from casual players, because I have personal experience with the frustration of not being able to raid "hardcore". But making the encounters more like expanded 5 mans is a real drag. Sunwell was something to aspire to. Ulduar, while a gorgeous instance that I do love, seems like another round of Naxx - just going through the motions with everyone else, and no real sense of achievement when you come out the other side - because everyone else is there with you.

Hardcore raiders want something they can't really have.

Well, they could have it, but it would be very unfair to a lot of people, so it probably won't happen.

The hard modes are great in theory. 3 drakes, time trials, Ulduar hard modes. But aside from Algalon, all of these are the same bosses, just with extra things to deal with. Zzz. I am going to go out on a limb and say that most hardcore raiders don't want hard modes of existing content - they want content that only they will get to see, being truly skilled and dedicated players - a la old Naxx and Sunwell. Unfortunately:

A) way too many people missed out on experiencing Naxx and Sunwell so that will probably never happen again; and
B) oftentimes skill is not the barrier - rather, time available to raid.

The problem for casual players in TBC was that you had to spend months farming BT in order to get anywhere in Sunwell. Casual players simply didn't have the time to be able to clear BT for gear, AND get any time in Sunwell. They might have been the most skilled players on the planet, but working nights or having 3 kids meant never getting to set foot inside Sunwell.

Sunwell (and old Naxx etc) definitely gave hardcore raiders a trophy instance. We could brag about being "a Naxx guild" or "a Sunwell guild". I remember going into BGs and having random people comment on my gear. It really gave you that sense of achieving something above and beyond what everyone else could do.

But giving the minority a special instance (which is in essence what happened with Naxx and Sunwell because so few guilds were able to experience them) makes a LOT of people unhappy, and that makes very obvious bad business sense.

If there's a solution, I ain't got it.

Frankly, I don't think you can give the hardcore raiders a trophy AND keep the casual raiders happy. I simply don't think it can be done. If you gave the serious raiders an instance with all hardmode fights (much like Sunwell was), the people who raid more casually will be upset because they aren't getting a fair chance to do the content. And hard modes, while good in theory, are really just the same old stuff but made to have you bash your head against the wall for an extra week or two.

I feel that they were on the right track with hardmodes.. but didn't quite hit the mark.

Maybe more Algalon type bosses that open up once you've achieved certain things? I'm not sure. I'm just not a big fan (you may have noticed) of tacking on extra "challenges" onto the same boss fights. It might be challenging, but to me.. not terribly interesting in the long term.

I don't know what can be done to keep both sides happy.

TLDR: Not all "hardcore" raiders think "casual" raiders are scrubs.

I am not raiding hardcore at the moment. I may return to it; I'm not sure. But for the time being I won't be on the pointy end of progression, where I like to be.

I know how it feels when you're not a hardcore raider, when you feel like everyone is looking down their noses at you. Especially with the advent of the Armory, so people can bring up your page and then scoff at you for trying to comment on hard mode encounters that you don't have experience in, like you don't have the right to comment on matters that you have no place speaking about.

It sucks!

There are definitely people out there who think their raiding achievements make them a better person than you. But a lot of us just want more of a challenge (and not rehashed content!). Saying that the current content is easy and asking for something more challenging is not an insult directed at you because you haven't been able to kill Boss X yet, for whatever reason. Progressing at a different rate does not make you bad. When I say current content is too easy, I'm not saying "anyone who can't clear Boss X r bads lol". I'm simply stating a fact - that the current raid content is easily cleared by the hardcore (read: usually people with more raiding hours per week) players, and we would like something more challenging to sustain us.

But it is wholly unfair and insulting to lump all hardcore raiders into a giant bucket of no-life, self-righteous morons who think casual players are unskilled peasants and don't deserve to share the same content as they do.

We just want to enjoy the game as you do - at our own pace.

Friday, June 12, 2009

More transport changes

Hot on the heels of changes to mounts and class forms, Blizzard has also announced more portals and an extra zeppelin route, to make journeying easier.

In the next major content patch we will be adding a few methods of improved transportation to areas of interest while leveling.

It is time for the denizens of Azeroth to witness the full might of the Horde as they do what they do best: employ goblins to construct zeppelin towers and float players across vast seas using sky boats. That's right, a new zeppelin route is being added in Thunder Bluff and will transport players to Orgrimmar. Isn't technology magnificent?

Also, brought to you by Azeroth's greatest users of magic, are all new portals coming to Stormwind and Orgrimmar. These portals will transport players directly to the Stair of Destiny at the Dark Portal. Travel is just so much more convenient when it's instantaneous! Players will then find that a new connecting flight path exists at the Stair of Destiny allowing players new to Outland easy and direct access to the city of Shattrath.

Keep your seat backs and tray tables in a full upright and locked position, and we hope you continue to enjoy your methods of travel in Azeroth and beyond!

My plea: Give us a few more flight points!

Blizzard, if you're watching: How about some extra flight points in some of the more painful zones? Places like:

- Desolace
- Eastern Plaguelands
- Western Plaguelands (Horde)
- Hinterlands
- Badlands (Alliance)
- Blasted Lands (Horde)
- Swamp of Sorrows (Alliance)

... the zones that have ONE flight point (or NONE!) but ask you to go to the other end of the zone to quest, and back again. For example, the quest Whiskey Slim's Lost Grog (Alliance version!):

1. Fly to Aerie Peak.
2. Ride all the way to the eastern coast of the zone (the extreme other end of the zone)
3. Collect bottles
4. If your hearth is on cooldown, ride alllll the way back.

(Then sometime in the next day or so, find a quest that requires you to go take a picture of Gammerita on the same beach. ARGH!)

Having the 30 minute hearth really helps - often I will simply hearth back to the start of the zone to hand in my quests, but it would make things so much simpler if I could fly. Plus, that wouldn't "cheese" the content by nerfing the mobs or quests; it would just make travel a little faster.

Please Blizzard - give us some more small camps with flight points, like you gave us extra graveyards. This makes it faster to get around and to level, without people complaining that you're wrecking the quests or ruining their fun by nerfing the mobs.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

3.2 mount changes

Blizzard have announced some big changes to mount levels and costs in Patch 3.2. Here's the summary:

Level 20 - normal ground mount
Apprentice Riding (Skill 75)
60% land mount speed (same as the current level 30 mount)
Cost: 4g training + 1g mount

Level 40 - epic ground mount
Journeyman Riding (Skill 150)
100% land mount speed (same as the current level 60 "epic" mount)
Cost: 50g training + 10g mount

Level 60 - normal flying mount
Expert Riding (Skill 225)
150% flying mount speed; 60% land mount speed (was 60% flying speed)
Note: this means that to travel at 100% land speed you'll want to get out your ground mount
Cost: 600g training (faction discounts now apply) + 50g mount

Level 70 - epic flying mount
Artisan Riding (Skill 300)
280% flying mount speed; 100% land mount speed
Cost: 5,000 gold (faction discounts now apply) + 100g mount

Cold Weather Flying remains unchanged.

Summary: You'll be able to get your first mount at 20, epic mount at 40, and your flying mount at 60, which is 10 levels earlier than the current system. Epic flying is still only available at 70, but will be cheaper now that faction discounts apply (for exalted, that's a saving of 1000g). Cold Weather Flying will not have its level or cost changed.

I'm not sure what this will mean for druids in terms of flight form. I assume it means we get 150% speed instead of 60% (to match the flying mounts). Looking forward to getting confirmation on this.

At present, we get our flight form at 68 (trained). Will the new system mean druids can have normal flight form at 58, to keep it in line with having it two levels earlier than other classes? Or will they simply bring our flight form in line with everyone else? Personally, I am just curious - it would be handy dandy to have flight form at 58 when you first venture into Outland, but certainly no biggie to wait two levels.

I suspect we'll see a few people complain that a mount at 20 and epic mount at 40 will make our travel form "useless" (cue cries for a replacement skill I would imagine) but I still use mine plenty, even on my high level druids.

Edit: Blizzard has now confirmed that travel form will be learned at 16, and normal flight form will be learned at 60, as 150% speed (up from 60%). Swift Flight Form remains unchanged. Thanks Treebound Cat for pointing this news out :)

The Swift Flight Form quest chain will remain - it is not being removed.

And for our non-druid friends (or non-druid alts!):

Aspect of the Cheetah: Requires level 16
Ghost Wolf: Requires level 16
Paladin Warhorse: Requires level 20
Paladin Charger: Requires level 40
Warlock Felsteed: Requires level 20
Warlock Dreadsteed: Requires level 40

I think this is fantastic news for everyone wanting to level. Being able to ride around at 20, and have an epic mount at 40 is really huge. That will speed up levelling a great deal. Suddenly the Barrens doesn't seem so bad! ..and being able to fly around Outland from the get-go - instead of waiting til you're nearly finished with the place - will be a huge help.

Great changes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Levelling: merely a nuisance?

I'm having a lot of fun levelling Kiiva, my baby elf druid. She is 44 now, after two weeks. Not bad, I think, for someone who has done it alone, with no group questing, no instances, and no help.

As of right now, here are Kiiva's stats:

3 days, 9 hours played (over 2 weeks)
Level 44
288/300 Herbalism
225/300 Inscription
259/300 First Aid
225/300 Fishing (tonight is fishing quest night! I am genuinely excited)
677g 66s in the bank <<< I am very proud of this

Now, I don't think that is too shabby considering I did it all by myself so far. Level 44 with 600g in the bank (and 16 more levels before I'll need to spend it). 600g that I earned from scratch with no outside help - just my own AH skills and selling whatever I pick up (no active "farming"). When Kiiva hits 60 she will easily be able to purchase her epic mount - starting from absolutely nothing, and with absolutely no outside financial assistance, and no grinding or farming or saving up after I hit 60.

I think that's pretty impressive! So there.

Hitting the fast forward button

A few people have implied to me that I'm making things hard for myself by not using the Refer a Friend facility to "go faster". Read: to race to 80 ASAP, so I can play the "real" game. Many people use the RAF system and could get from 1-80 in two weeks, not be "only" 44 in the same amount of time. They can't understand why I would want to go "sooooo slow", when I could rush to 80 and play properly. They see levelling as an inconvenient hurdle before getting to 80 and playing the real game. Why waste time on old content when you could get to 80 and start getting epics?

The truth is that I am enjoying taking it slow. But I also missed the Alliance towns and quest hubs. I had forgotten how Theramore looked inside. I haven't seen any of the Northrend Alliance towns at all (only experienced them briefly while accidentally riding through them on Keeva...). I want to enjoy this levelling experience, and come out of it as a level 80 character who has done everything and earned everything.

I have friends who run SM as soon as they hit 20. Over and over and over for 10-20 levels, to catapult them to endgame ASAP. That's cool, it's their choice. I did it a little bit on one character (dual boxing) but it's not really my thing. I don't consider it cheating, or wrong, or anything like that. But I do get a little defensive when people tell me I'm going slow... when I'm actually doing things the way they were intended (apart from not doing any group stuff).

I know they have sped up 20-70, but I still think I'm doing pretty well even after that change, especially considering that my tradeskills are pretty high. I intend to finish this with max professions and a decent sized purse, so I can concentrate on things like gear and rep grinds straight away - not having to double back to grind for inscription etc.

We could be running SM by now!

Anyway, the crux of this rambling is that I think there are three camps:

1. The "gotta get to max level ASAP" camp (using RAF, dual box SM runs etc)
2. The "I'm taking my sweet time and enjoying it, I don't care when I level" camp
3. The "I want to get to 80 fairly quickly, but I'm not rushing" camp

I'm hovering between 2 and 3. Yes, I want to get to 80 so I can gear up and heal again.. but I don't want to rush and miss all the content.

What about you guys? Do you rush to 80 ASAP, bypassing as much of the tiresome low content as possible? Or do you soak up the quest lines, run instances, explore and enjoy the "old" content?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Easy pocket money for druids 10+

Here's a little tip for everyone, but it's particularly good for druids because of our Teleport: Moonglade spell.

There is a vendor in Moonglade named Lorelae Wintersong. She sells the recipe for Runed Arcanite Rod.

This enchanting rod is required by all enchanters to be able to progress to higher levels of enchanting. The problem is that it is ONLY sold in Moonglade. Nowhere else in the world. It is also a limited item, on a short respawn timer (meaning it may not be available when you go to Moonglade to get it). So for many enchanters, it is a bit of a pain to get.

We druids, on the other hand, have the advantage of being able to port to Moonglade whenever we please.

Remember: In WotLK, a lot of people are rich and lazy.

Many people have tonnes of gold and nothing to spend it on.

They are also lazy, and would rather pay exorbitant prices on the AH than have to go get something for themselves. This is particularly true of people who decide to reroll professions and then power level them. They don't want to travel all over the place - they want to be able to stand in Stormwind or Orgrimmar and power level their new profession as fast as possible.

If a new pattern or formula requires someone to go halfway around the world, that's a pain. If there's one up on the AH for 30g (maybe even more), they'll just snatch it. It's not worth the time and effort to travel to get it themselves. I have done this myself a number of times; I've paid 20g for a stack of meat to level cooking, or ridiculous prices for cloth and herbs... all because I don't want to have to keep flying back to town to train the next levels.

In the case of the arcanite rod - some people don't even HAVE the Moonglade flight path. I've even helped friends get the pattern - when I've overheard them complain about having to go "all the way to Moonglade", I've offered to port and grab it for them. It's a real hassle to get that pattern if you're not a druid.

As a level 10+ druid, you can take advantage of this inconvenience!

Make a quick 15-20g+, casually

I suggest any time you are about to hearth and log for the day, port to Moonglade first, grab the formula, then hearth afterwards. If you're levelling, grab it whenever you head to Moonglade for training. I grab one whenever I port there, for whatever reason.

It will cost you 2.2g (less with rep), and will probably sell from 15g upwards (personally if I was a non-druid I would likely pay up to 100g if it meant I didn't have to mess around getting to Moonglade).

For those of you at 80 with high incomes, this may not be worth your time.. but considering that this is easy for any druid of level 10 and up to do, if you have 2g to invest, you can quickly turn that into a lot more. Very handy for that first mount and training costs.. especially for crazy rerollers like myself, with no "main" feeding cash to the new druid.

And those of you who are saving 5000g for epic flying may be looking for tips on how to squeeze as much gold out of the game as you can. This tip might be worth 10g or it might be 100g, depending on your server - but regardless, with Teleport: Moonglade at your disposal, it will only take you 2 minutes of your time.

Particularly helpful for lowbies, but also for the thrifty, seasoned druid. Every little bit counts, right?


Friday, June 5, 2009

Blizzard: We will show you all feral colour combos soon

Just as a quick follow-up to the feral form picture spam, here's a quote fresh from Blizzard:

Based on the current looks of tauren, I believe there are a total of 19 different skin choices for male tauren, and 11 skin choices for tauren females. Many similar tones will share the same bear and cat forms though. We're looking to release a break down of the tauren skin tones and night elf hair colors, as they correspond with the different cat and bear form color options, shortly after the new night elf cat form art is released.

So don't worry guys, you won't have to jump on the PTR to fiddle with the barber shop to pull together a list of the different colour combos. Blizzard should be providing one soon.

Edit: here they are (created by MMO Champion, based on a text list released by Blizzard):

Thanks Beru - I'm in Australia so updates always happen while I'm asleep :(

NE cat form model revamp

The Night Elf cat model has been released, to mixed reviews:

Personally, I think they look great - I especially love the noses on the new cats (both Tauren and Elf).

Meanwhile, a friend is spamming me in IMs about how much he hates them because they look like My Little Pony cats. I'm giggling.

I love the white kitty, and I already loved the white elf bear. So Kiiva will be "safe", she won't have to change her identity to get the feral forms that I like. Unlike Keeva. While I do understand the "logic" that we should have similar colouring in all of our forms (because it "makes sense"), I still hope they don't force us to have to change our character's appearance to get feral forms that we find appealing.

Broken record mode on: Keeva has been Keeva for 2 years. Some people might see it as no big deal to head to the barber shop and ask politely for an entirely different skin colour - but I don't want to do that. I want to keep Keeva's identity. But the feral forms that correspond to her white skin tone are the ones I particularly dislike. A lot.

Here's hoping they rethink it. Allowing us to choose would not hurt anyone - if you want a white bear and a matching white cat to go with your white hair, you could choose that - but if I hate the white bear and just want to be brown, with a black cat, then I could choose that too.

I'm getting tired of the "but it makes SENSE, durrr!" argument - does it make sense that a hairdresser could change my skin?

Having 3 forms that match in some way is good, I definitely agree. But being forced to have two forms that you hate, OR change the fundamental appearance of your character (which I and many other people have become attached to and consider part of that character's identity) .... that's pretty disappointing.

You've done an AWESOME job so far - but let us choose, Blizzard!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Shapeshift: Yakcat

Yes, I'm adding to the catformblogspam.

The new Tauren cat forms look amazing. Brilliant job, Blizzard. No more hideous wyvern things to wince at. Now I feel very torn between my Horde druids and my Alliance druids - good thing I have choice of two Alliance and two Horde to choose from!

Not only do they look better in terms of general aesthetics, but don't they look so.. Tauren? The broad noses (with nose rings) really make them tie in well with our Tauren forms. And I love the eyes - they look so intelligent, as if someone is in there. Much, much better than the original painted-on eyes.

I think I like the bottom left colouring the best. I couldn't think what it reminded me of though - until I realised...

Form of........ A YAK!

... with claws, and perhaps a little more compact.

The only problem is that if they are still going to be linked to humanoid characteristics, then once again the feral form that corresponds with Keeva's colouring (completely white) is the one that I think looks ugliest. I dislike both the white bear and white cat.

Enough that I would like to change colours, but being the silly person that I am, I'm too attached to Keeva's identity. Most people would say it's no big deal, just go to the barber shop or wear your helm or be grateful for what we got - but I am attached to all of my druids, and I can't just change her identity like that. I hate the idea of playing Keeva as a white Tauren, she can't just become a brown Tauren in the barber shop because I want to pimp-my-forms.


Nevertheless, I'm extremely impressed and can't wait for the NE kitties.

This also adds a lot of excitement - if this is the fantastic kind of remodelling that cats got - what is in store for our other forms down the track?

Heh... yaks.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ding/ding! 30!

I turned 30 on Saturday, and Kiiva turned 30 yesterday! :P

I really wanted Kiiva to turn 30 on the same day. In hindsight, maybe that's a little bit too nerdy.

Alas, my grand plans were foiled - Alliance zones and quests do not seem to be as linear as the Horde's. I wasted so much time just travelling around trying to find quests that weren't red to me. It was very frustrating. Perhaps I've been spoilt by the Barrens though - since it is one massive zone that takes you from 10 right through to your early 20s - and then Stonetalon, Thousand Needles and Ashenvale directly bordering the zone provide that super-easy transition to the 20-30 content. Smooth.

Poor Kiiva spent most of the weekend just trying to scrape enough quests together to get by. I had to double back and do Ashenvale, because I didn't realise that I hadn't thought to go there (I prefer Eastern Kingdoms). Yes, this was an oversight on my part - but one would think that Redridge, Duskwood AND Wetlands combined would be sufficient! In the end I had to do part of Ashenvale and then go back to Duskwood agaaaaaaaaaain.

I was starting to feel as though I'd been ripped straight from a Family Circus strip.

Before that, I had gone to Hillsbrad, where many of the mobs are 25-26ish, so I thought I was set. But then I got to Southshore and found that only ONE quest was doable in Southshore at 27. The only other quest that was even available was the murloc quest (I hate it so) but it's probably not the best idea to attempt this at 27 BECAUSE THE MURLOCS ARE 32 AND STAND AROUND IN GROUPS.

Oh murlocs, I hate you so.

Except the baby ones, because they are so freaking adorable.

Alliance zones, you're really grinding my gears.

World of Scrimpcraft

Despite my levelling frustration, I am still very happy because of my financial progress so far.

Without a single penny of outside assistance (from my Horde characters or friends - other than gifts of a couple of lowbie leather items to wear, and a handful of herbs to help my inscription levelling), at level 30 I have serveral large bags, my first mount, 70g in the bank, and a whole bunch of auctions up as well. My goal is to buy my mounts, epic flight form, Northrend flying and dual spec without help from the cash I have Horde side. I'm on the right track so far.

My little auction alt is also enjoying large bags and a booming trade. I'm trying inscription on for size, and having fun. I've found a few glyphs in particular that sell at nice prices, but with the crazy price of herbs on Alliance side, it's not very profitable to do it long-term. For now though, while I am just trying to get my first few hundred gold together, every bit of profit counts.

With gold being so plentiful now, it would be easy to do a day's worth of dailies on Keeva and send 500g over to help out. A friend just sent me 2000g when he quit - I COULD have sent that over to my newbie, and she would have been set all the way through to Northrend. But I'm getting so much joy out of building everything up from scratch - knowing that all my bags were earned, and my mount skills came from money that I saved up from nothing, and now I have to work towards getting enough for my epic at 60. It's very satisfying.

I do not know what Kiiva's future is, but I am really enjoying her so far.