Archive for the “Altitis” Category

funny-pictures-bored-cat

Most things we do for fun are short. Get in, get fun, get out.

Sledding in the snow, dancing at the club, watching a movie, playing cards, target shooting, whatever. Short.

You get in, get your blast of fun and get out.

World of Warcraft isn’t about a short blast of fun. Blizzard is selling us a virtual world. Everything about WoW has to say, “Come join us, move into your new life in Azeroth. There is so much to do you’ll never want to leave. Or unsubscribe.”

The income expectations are all based on keeping your butt in that seat, resubscribing every month.

So the design goal has to be wrapped around things to do in Azeroth when you’re bored.

What I want to do is look at how the game design has changed while the player base continues to evolve into cynical flibbertigibbits that equate subscription models with grind models.

We have seen pet battles and collections added, and supported with daily quests and even a tournament. We’ve seen collectible pets added throughout the game, tied as drops to old and existing raids, and all BoE so the avid collector doesn’t have to be a progression raider, they just need to have sharp gold making skills.

This keeps you out there in the world looking for rare pets, doing quests, trying to get improved quality versions of pets you already have, a lot of activity to do. All short term, fill in kind of fun. BUT, there are so many pets that the process of seeking out rare versions of them and leveling them can take years. It’s not something that you can just grind out in a day. It’s a small rock that you push a little ways up that hill each day

Old raids were changed to make them easier to solo to officially add those into content you do when you’re bored. Alongside the old pets and the achievements you can unlock (many with mounts tied to them and even potential legendary weapon questlines), there are also old gear items to seek out for the fashionistas among us wanting a specific transmog set. With weekly lockouts per character, again, not something you can grind out. You can push that rock on one raid clear per character per week.

We have seen professions updated so there are incredibly powerful gear recipes (and pets, and mounts)… but you have to discover the gear recipes by doing a profession BOP daily cooldown. The mat cost is not the gate, no rare materials are needed. But you need a LOT of basic mats to make your daily cooldown every day. The gate for your crafting an item is time. Blocks of time in 15 to 30 day increments per day. You can easily make your own Sky Golem if you have a farm, an Engineer, a Miner and an Alchemist (for Living Steel cooldowns). You just need lots of time.

We have seen that farm system added where you can slowly unlock plots on a farm, then plant and harvest your own crafting materials to feed your professions… if you don’t want to grind for crafting materials, you can harvest your own, but only so much each day. In this case, an alternative to grinding. You can either grind your mats by flying around looking for nodes/sprouts, or you can get a small harvest every day, on each character that goes through the farming.

We have many, many factions, most with mounts, gear and tabards. Some with profession recipes. We’ve seen their reputation gated behind daily quests, which again gates you not by grinding but by time. Do a little every day and push that rock just a little bit further.

The Timeless Isle seems to be something new that is an anti-gate. Lots of sudden, instant gratification. Just pop on over to Loot Isle at level 90, plunder the chests and get geared up! Except your experience killing mobs can vary wildly depending on your class (hint – tanks and pet tank classes have a much easier time of farming elites) and of course those wonderful rare mobs die so fast that you pretty much have to be right nearby to get tehre in time. Still, it’s a lot of fun and a great change of pace… and once that initial burst of plunder is gone, there are still tons of rares to try and find, special loot, pet drops and other reasons for us to keep coming back day after day. And oh yeah, a reputation grind if you’re dedicated and want the Emperor’s mount.

Even in the most current raid, there is a reason to keep logging in and trying to clear the final wing every single week; Heirloom weapons that scale from level 90 to 100, gear that will be useful into and through the entire next expansion. They can drop from Flex as well as Normal, so for anyone that can raid with friends this is a strong incentive to keep coming back every single week for another shot. And if you don’t have alts, only one main, it’s still an incentive because your first Heirloom drop will be a weapon for your mains spec and class. Something you can use yourself when Warlords drops.

And finally, the big one. The grand ‘keep coming back’ path. The legendary questline that spanned the entire expansion, timed and paced perfectly with drop gathering and reputation grinding to reward a player that logged in and completed his objectives every single week for the entire expansion. The grand culimation of all of our efforts gave those of us who completed it a massively OP cloak, a special boss only we get access to that can drop warforged gear, and access to an isolated area that has a chest with a guaranteed Burden of Eternity to upgrade something instantly to 535. Rewards that are good right NOW, while there is still plenty of time to get use out of it while we wait for Warlords.

I like all of these things, but they paint a clear picture of what we can continue to see down the road.

I like how the farm gives you an alternative to grinding for crafting materials, as long as you are cool with the pace you harvest those mats. I expect the Garrison to continue this metered material pace, and give us a new collectable to seek out everywhere, our minions. Everything we’ve seen in pet collecting and battling we will see with our Garrison minions. More to seek out, collect, farm from instances and raids, rewards as quests, drops from rare mobs.

We can expect more factions to gain reputation with, and mounts and tabards at the end. I would expect more daily quests, but possibly with a difference. Right now, you can choose to champion a faction, and as you do a dungeon you get bonus rep with them. I would expect this system to be used for a daily quest hub somewhere, or with all reputation based daily quests, where you can champion a faction, and all daily quests done will cound to that faction.

I believe we can expect a new legendary questline, one that again unlocks over time and gives us an incentive to keep coming back and pushing the rock a little further each week. I would do it just becauze of how much I enjoyed the story development and the way it tied what I did through the entire expansion. The items and special boss? BIG BONUS.

I think we can expect more craftable special items, like the mounts and pets. But this time, less of the super-rare materials and more of the daily cooldowns using cheap materials. It puts the reward in the hands of anyone with patience and a dedication to log in every day to craft, instead of being exclusive to those that can save tens of thousands of gold.

I also expect more big ticket expensive items, to continue to give the big gold makers a prize to strut their stuff. Making gold and manipulating the market ALSO requires constant logging in and managing auctions week after week.

What all of these activities share is that there is an end goal to work towards, but you really can’t just grind it all out in a day or two. There are things you CAN grind if you like to, like Emperor reputation (or Black Prince rep), but most are designed to let you push the rock further towards each goal and then move on to something else, each and every day. Lots of different minigoals, with so many to choose from that there is something for everyone.

I really liked the pace and flow this expansion. I LIKE having a lot of little things I can do, and I’ve enjoyed having the farm to supply me with materials to feed my crafting without having to spend an hour or two flying circles for ore, and especially grind mobs for cloth.

Last expansion, at this exact same time, my main activity was circling through the Abyssal Depth endlessly, farming herbs on my druid while swimming like a dolphin. I swam for many hours, mostly listening to Lewis Black comedy albums while I gathered my herbs. I enjoyed it, but I can’t really say it gave me something I was excited to log in and do every day.

Say what you will, I feel things are a lot different now.

We do seem to have a very long wait ahead of us until we see Warlords of Draenor.

There is a new Diablo expansion that will release soon, as well as Hearthstone, and Blizzard would not release an expansion in competition. They stagger their title releases so each one has their fans undivided attention when products go on sale. Who knows when we might see Heroes of the Storm in there as well.

In the past, it has seemed from timing that Blizzard expects the release of a Diablo game or other property to occupy us as if it were a content patch for WoW. I don’t know if that is intentional, but there are gaps in WoW content to match the releases of other games.

Instead of just swimming around farming herbs, I have daily farming for mats, crafting, leveling pets, seeking out rares for ones I’ve got, old raids to solo for transmog gear, raids to do with friends for achievements, raids in Flex to try for a heirloom off Garrosh, leveling with Recruit a Friend, Timeless Isle wandering, Zandalari Warbringer hunting, and STILL so much more.

It’s a lot different. There are things to do, rocks to roll just a little further, and all of it is just different enough that each one stays kind of fresh.

I’m not excited at the idea of four more months without new content, but they are getting better at spreading things out.

Once we’ve got Garrisons, and our minion raid teams to begin to manage? Yeah, I can see that whole structure adding a lot more depth to ways we can fill our time.

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cuddles

I have a few more things I’ve noticed that I thought worth a mention.

I previously noted that I had my own Battle.Net account, and I had made a second one for my son when he began to play World of Warcraft.

I recently merged his World of Warcraft account onto my Battle.Net account, and I have been seeing first hand what this means.

Last time I talked about this, I mentioned that every item that said “Bind on Account” could be mailed to BOTH World of Warcraft accounts.

I also mentioned how every pet and mount I had, his account also gained.

I revealed how, as the account that was moved, ALL of his pets were wiped, and that I had fortunately caged every pet I could before that happened.

I told you that the handful of mounts he had on his account that I did not own WERE added to my account.

Well, there are a few new things.

First, I had every reputation Commendation that you could buy in the game. As you may know, many of the Pandarian factions had Commendations you could purchase from their reputation vendor that would allow any other character on your account to get TWICE the reputation gains from items or quests.

My son’s account did not have any such Commendations. Now that we are merged, he has ALL those Commendation benefits on his characters. I tested this by doing some solo farming of the Zandalari Warbringers and Warscouts, those mobs can drop tokens that are Bind on Account that give you 1000 rep a shot. Yep, if you’ve got a Commendation on your account, they give double rep, multiplied yet again if you are Human and if you have the Guild Level rep bonus.

I leveled my son’s reputation with Golden Lotus, Shado-Pan and Klaxxi from baseline to Exalted in less time than it takes to tell. If your second account has a tailor or enchanter, this can be a very good way to get that Celestial rep to Exalted for the bag or bracer enchant recipes.

Second, I had never purchased a World of Warcraft Collector’s Edition of any of the releases before.

Today, I took advantage of the $20 digital upgrade to make my own World of Warcraft account of Mists of Pandaria a Collector’s Edition.

I logged into my son’s regular old normal World of Warcraft account, and sure enough my new Collector’s Edition pet and mount are both shared with him, and usable by his characters. Upgrading one WoW account gave the pet and mount benefits to both.

Another note. You might not have considered this before, but the Recruit a Friend mounts that I had previously earned, such as the Swift Zhevra and the Scroll of Resurrection mounts are all shared with his WoW account as well.

So. More and more the only two downsides I’ve found to merging an account is that only the first person who logged into the Battle.Net account can actively pet battle or level pets (although all WoW accounts can access and display the pets of their choice), and also that there are Battle.Net account chat issues.

Specifically on the chat issues, my wife and I are used to chatting exclusively on the Battle.Net friend channel, and IF she were merged onto my Battle.Net account, we could no longer do that. We’d have to either create a custom in-game chat channel (which we’ve done in the past for special events such as the Raid for the Cure charity drive), or just do the traditional whispers.

What we’d permanently lose would be the ability to chat with each other across factions, if she or I were playing Horde for a change. Battle.Net friend chat is something I need to explore more, to see if there are any workarounds.

I hope this has given you a little more info on how merging accounts can work for your family. I know it’s really cool to consider that if any of us level a pet, we all benefit. Likewise if one of us scores a rare mount or an upgrade in pet rarity, we’ll all get it.

And of course… if I am lucky enough to score a Heirloom weapon from normal Garrosh, I can share that with my son. Wooffie the Warlock has certainly not been complaining about his new staff.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!

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Saber Sushi

I logged in last night to see we had a surprise gift from Blizzard.

It was the start of World of Warcraft’s 9th anniversary!

Nine years.

That is one hell of a long time to be playing a video game.

Surely I’ve seen everything there was to see, been every place there is to go after living for nine years in a virtual world, right?

I got a present, too!

Blizzard gave me a token that puts the ugliest damn tabard I have EVER seen on my character, and oh yeah, a buff worth +9% bonus XP and reputation for killing stuff!

Woot! Time to go fish up some bonus rep with Nat Pagle!

Um… so. Fishing gets me fish, but I’m not actually killing anything? What, not even the damn fish? Look, I gots this ittle club, I catches the fish and then I gives ‘em a whack behind the ear, kills ‘em dead. Look! LOOK AT ME AS I’M KILLING THESE FISH GIVE ME THE REP DAMN YOU.

Yes, fish have ears. Hey, in MY world fish have ears. And my billy club of whacking is +5 to hit against fish ears.

Don’t make me show you what a lightsaber can do to a fish. I will! Don’t think I won’t. Saber Sushi is all the rage in Northrend.

Um. What was I saying? Geez, I gotta cut down on the coffee, wtf.

RIGHT! That’s it, ninth anniversary.

Fish heads, fish heads, roly poly fish heads… 

Woah, sorry, flashback.

After nine years, what, Blizzard thinks I’m still focused on leveling up alts? They give me a buff so I get bonus XP when I kill stuff? Who the HECK is still leveling up characters in this game?

So, at the moment my big focus in the game is leveling up my Warrior alt, so I decided last night I’d…

….what? Yeah, yeah, whatever. So what, they got me pegged dead to rights. Alts4life.

It feels like a lame gift, but it IS only the ninth anniversary. Show me a buff item like this (and that horrible tabard, it’s almost as bad as the sweater) for the tenth anniversary, there will be some serious disappointment over here.

I’m talking sad bear eyes.

Sadbeareyes

Don’t make me give you the sad bear eyes, Blizzard.

Back to my warrior, HOLD ON I said I tried something new.

I reached level 68 Sunday, so last night I started out in Northrend, having fun kicking some Scourge butt in the Borean tundra.

As I tooled around in my sporty purple vest, I thought of doing an instance. I blew through two levels in an hour, didn’t need the XP, but what the heck. Cassie and Alex both enjoy hauling my butt around instances and I take a definite joy in blowing up ALL the old content with my Warlock.

But wait! It’s the ninth anniversary of World of Warcraft.

I’ve got to do something to make this different, to make this occasion special.

Maybe…

Maybe I could try to run MYSELF through a dungeon!

After all, it IS an MMO. What better way to celebrate all that I love in the game but by trying to remove all other signs of human existence? Turn it into a solo excursion!

A three hour tour….

I logged my Warrior in, and then I tried to start a second World of Warcraft game on my computer, and logged in as my son’s Warlock.

They both ran side by side!

Hmm.

I’ve never, ever done this before. Is this dual-boxing? I always thought that meant having two computers side by side with both characters on the screen simultaneously, as if I had, dare I say it, dual boxes.

And I thought dual boxers did stuff like have keybinds and mapping and some arcane software so what their main character did the other characters would mimic. I ain’t gonna try any of that crap, I’m old.

But I can have the game running in two windows on my computer, load up both characters, and then tab between them.

So I have the warlock invite the warrior, tab out and back into the warrior and shit, not fast enough, invite timed out. Try again.

Okay, gotcha! In a group.

I fly the warrior into the Nexus, then tab over and fly the warlock in.

Okay. Quests!

Get the quests on my warrior, walk up and tell the warrior to follow the warlock. Stay! Good boy. /pats head.

I tab out and back into the warlock, okay this could be a pain.

Let’s go!

I walk forward and begin blowing up bad guys.

So far, so good.

I blow everything up, looting on the warlock (on free-for-all), and at the first boss, after it’s dead I tab out, flip into the warrior, pick up the quest item book, loot the commander, re-follow and tab back in.

Fine.

But what happens when the warrior gets attacked?

It turns out that, even though the warrior got attacked once, it didn’t stop following. I really only had to flip back when I wanted to loot a boss.

Um, I did find out one sterling piece of advice I could pass on.

You know that point after the rift platform where most of us learned to jump down as a shortcut?

Yeah, don’t. Don’t do that.

But seriously, I don’t know if that was dual boxing or what but I ran myself through the Nexus and then through Utgard Keep, and it was easy as pie.

Since getting attacked doesn’t drop the follow mechanic, I didn’t even have to tab in and out all that much.

I did find out my computer can’t run two windows of WoW AND run Chrome as a browser at the same time, holy crap Chrome about took my system DOWN on a stutterfest. Closed it out and everything was fine again.

All these years of hearing people talk about dual boxing and all that stuff, all the times people talk about doing recruit a friend with themselves and leveling up two alts side-by-side, and this was the very first time I even thought to try it.

Go figure, it was kinda fun, and certainly convenient.

It will never replace Cassie or Alex running me through old content and letting me die from getting eaten by ghouls, though. NEVER.

Still, I can see those two AM drunken instance crawls, me dragging my son’s hunter alt through Molten Core for no reason other than to see how far he can aggro shit and how fast I can blow it up before he dies.

Happy ninth anniversary, everyone. I hope you all find something new and different to try out to keep it fresh and fun!

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As the weeks go by on Patch 5.2, I’m settling in and finding out what I like most by looking at how I’m spending my time.

Apparently, I like the rares on the Isle of Thunder best.

As a bit of background for those not engaged in this, on the Isle of Thunder there are many rare spawns that can appear. Each enemy appears in one specific geographical area, is a level 92 elite badass, and can be dogpiled by anyone and everyone.

There are a few different maps out there for who spawns where, MMO champion did one that is very good for the experienced hunter, but the one I used to start out came from WoW Rare Spawns, because Euphyley had notes for where they’d appear, which I needed to first get started.

Take a look at those maps. You can see there are a bunch of different rares that can spawn on what turns out to be a fairly small island, and more are coming as each phase unlocks. My server should hit phase 4 today, and who knows what THAT will bring? Aside from one new rare, that is.

The key to how awesome this is, is that they really CAN be dogpiled by anyone and everyone. You do not have to be in a group, you don’t have to be the same faction as whoever tagged it ‘first’.

If a rare is up and you attack it, so long as you tagged it you can loot it when it’s dead. Of course, there is a mechanic to prevent a simple insta-zerg. Each person who tags the bad guy boosts it’s health by 50%. The more people who jump in, the longer the fight can be delayed, which just gives more time for a bigger dogpile.

The rares all have one guaranteed drop, a Tome of Valor that grants you 15 Valor Points when you use it… has a two hour duration and is unique, so you can’t stockpile them beyond the week if you valor cap. You get it, you use it, you move on.

The rares also have a chance to drop the Sealed Tome for the Warlock Green Fire quest chain, and according to an update by Netheara on Twitter the Sealed Tome is ‘first come first served’, first Warlock to loot the body will get it if there is one there to find.

There are two other possible drops from rares that concern us. First is the epic Key to the Trove of the Thunder King, which seems to be an almost but not quite guaranteed drop from the first rare you kill in a week. Log in after server reset for the week, kill a rare or two and off you go to the Treasure Trove.

The second is a pet, which can only drop from the Haywire Construct, which can only  spawn on the Skumblade beach.

Let’s recap, shall we? Warlocks can get the Sealed Tome but are in competition with every other Warlock to loot first. Everyone gets 15 Valor Points for every kill, MORE if another character on your account is capped for the week, money, and for Haywire kills a chance at a pet.

Rares can be found all over the place. But not every massive badass elite is a ‘rare’. Please don’t chain pull the giant dinosaur.

This is how I now spend my time.

I hunt rares.

Oh, I don’t camp them or just run the rotation. Well, sometimes I run the route, but there are usually plenty of quests to do too.

What I do is get on either the Warlock or the Hunter, start the daily quests on the Isle of Thunder, and then do quests while checking out the rare spawn points in the quest zone. If someone announces a rare is up, I drop everything and beeline there to help kill it.

I have grouped with Cassie a few times for dailies, and it’s driving her nuts. Quest, quest, quest, “Oh, Mumta is up let’s go!” and zoom off I go.

Mumta dies, a call in /1 announces “haywire is up!” and off we go right back to the beach! Goda? Gone. God-Hulk? I’m a backdoor man. (There is an easy way to get to God-Hulk by taking the beach and avoiding the mobs in the terrace area who could dismount you for precious seconds. The wall is broken there too).

I love it. The 15 Valor Points is just enough of a lure to make me drop what I’m doing and chase after a rare if I have a shot at it, while it’s not so much reward that I feel I should just spend my time doing nothing but rare hunting.

It’s what I’m doing. If I’m in the queue for anything, I’m likely to be on the Isle doing dailies and chasing after rares.

Now, here’s the funny thing. I’ve seen folks hang back when they are first to a rare, send out the call and wait for backup. When I’m on my Hunter, I do that because some of them (like Haywire) put out some serious damage and if you get a couple extra adds on you (like those god*(^% Seadragon Skumblade things with their damn traps) it’s a pain in the ass.

On my Warlock? If it’s up, I go for it, and if I have to, I solo it. No problem.

Destro Warlocks are… um, err, they’re not overpowered. Nope, not at all. Just right. Maybe a little on the weak side, right Blizzard? [wink wink, say no more]

Still, even though the Warlock is, yes, a little weak compared to other classes, through some amazing luck I just happen to be able to solo the rares as a Destruction ‘lock, enjoying all the self-healing the class has available. Which, um, makes up for the weak dps. Yup.

Okay, seriously for a moment… Destruction is god-like power for soloing stuff. As my friend Monstre said, it feels like how Ret Paladins did back in all their glory.

It’s amazing. But that’s a different story.

Whatever you think about daily quests, I highly recommend you at least try playing the rare hunter mini-game when you’re questing on the Isle.

Just follow one of the links, print out a map, and check out the spawn sites.

Then, the next time you’re at the Skumblade area, swing by the beach to see if Haywire is up, bounce on up to the mountain peak to see if the knockback saurok from hell is there.

If you’re killing Mogu, why not take a quick trek up the stairs to see if Mumta is home?

Coasting through the troll quests, go for a little ride along the beach, enjoy the waves. And didn’t that trip me out, the first time I saw there were these shadow wave things out on the water?

Yep, I’m enjoying hunting rares. It breaks up the quests, makes the Isle a place to hang out rather than endure.

And because of those rares, I capped on both my character for the week. Don’t underestimate how those 15 Valor Tomes add up over the course of a week.

If you’re enjoying them, or hating them, let me know.

When I first saw the map I was overwhelmed, but now I know it’s a GOOD thing there are so many. That means even if you miss one, another one is bound to be up somewhere else very soon.

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A follow up to my Consumables post, a tangent that is obvious, but still amazing to contemplate.

In my last post, I ran down a situation from a raider’s point of view.

Given a need to prepare Flasks to last 10 raiders for 4 hours, you need Crystal Vials, various common Pandarian herbs, and 40 Golden Lotus.

One level 90 player exalted with Tillers and with 16 garden slots can make 33 Golden Lotus each week, regardless of gathering or crafting professions.

So.

First thought that comes to mind, of course, is what happens if you’ve got two level 90s with 16 garden slots?

66 Golden Lotus. Each week.

So.

At the very end of Cataclysm, I know a lot of people had leveled so many characters to max level, they NEEDED the new character slot that came with Patch 5.0, just to be able to make a Monk.

Can you picture it?

Can you see, off in the distance, the players who will level all of their characters to max, park them in Halfhill, and grind the Tiller rep to exalted to unlock their farms?

All those players, toiling away every night on 8 – 10 characters, harvesting, planting, mailing.

All those characters, sporting titles like “Defender of a Shattered World”, or ‘Kingslayer”, relegated to farmbots.

I can see one of those level 90s, in farming hat and coveralls, leaning on their shovel, gazing off towards the Golden Falls, saying to Farmer Yoon, “You know, I killed the Lich King. I was there, the day that Deathwing died. I have fought an elder god, and I have faced the celestial titans themselves to save our world from destruction.”

And Farmer Yoon looking back, and saying “Ayup. I’m gonna head in and take a nap. Mind you pull those weeds now, or that Songbell won’t grow tomorrow. And make sure you water the crops afore you leave for the day.”

You can see it, can’t you?

I know you can. Maybe not you, and maybe not me… but they WILL be out there. Even now, they are working on their third, and wondering when the patch to speed up alt rep leveling goes live.

To truly picture the full potential horror… imagine those multi-boxers, with multiple accounts and 20 or more level 85s, all looking at their character lists and calculating just how many Golden Lotus or whatever other materials purchasable by Spirits of Harmony they could accumulate, if they only spent x amount of time farming on each and every one, each and every. single. day.

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