Archive for the “Blog Community” Category

Who will be the next great blogger?

I have no idea, and I ain’t running a competition. I think I just watch too many cooking competition shows.

What I would like is some link love.

But not YOUR link, or mine.

Lemme’ splain.

Do you know a really good writer, someone who is blogging but hasn’t had much exposure yet? They are your little secret, and you wish more people knew about them because they’re so awesome, but it can be hard to be noticed by WoW Insider or MMO Melting Pot?

Well, I’m not big time, but I’d like to know about them too!

So, what I’m asking you to do is to please leave a comment here recommending someone else’s awesome blog for me to read.

I’ll read them all, I assure you, and I will add those with feeds to my private feedreader.

Those that I really, personally like and are WoW related may even make the move from my private feedreader to my permanent WoW Blogroll on the site. Those that ain’t WoW related will stay hidden, while I lurk unseen, reading and enjoying. Muahahaha!

**For those who are not aware, I have a widget on my website that allows me to link a folder on my Google Reader feedlist to the blog, only showing those blogs I place in the special folder. So, the blogroll does not represent EVERY feed I follow, just the ones I think other readers may find as awesome and relevant to WoW as I do. If you do not see your blog on the blogroll, it doesn’t actually mean I don’t read your blog. :)

In other news, I almost won a Piggie Award! Thank you very much to Hugh and the MMO Melting Pot for the kind words, and for thinking my writing is even worth considering. It’s much appreciated, it really is. Great congratulations have to go to Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident for the win. If you’re going to lose to someone, it’s nice that it be to such a wonderful writer.

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It’s not often that I read something that makes me wish it was just a teaser for a series of novels, but this did.

Anne Stickney, who some of you may know as the brilliant Know Your Lore writer for WoW Insider, and others as the writer of Shades of Grey, has expanded on the concepts of one of her earlier pieces to write a brilliant new piece of speculative work on the Lore of Azeroth.

I’ll put the specific link here again, just to make sure it doesn’t get lost in the blizzard of linkage.

The way I feel about her hypothesis is, if it’s not true, it SHOULD be.

The story of World of Warcraft is sweeping fantasy, and to have that kind of massive backstory upon which is set the smaller but more personal events of our game is perfectly in keeping with the best fantasy fiction.

The story that we play though and live out is very small, very personal to our characters. Just as Annes intro to that article says, we see our small piece of it, much as mice scurrying around the feet of the masters of the house. We fight our mouse wars, and we live our mouse-sized loves, and our mouse world is full of intense passion and incredible pageantry, but there are forces at work that are beyond not just our power, but our awareness and capacity for understanding.

The Lord of the Rings, much abused as it has been, is still a great touchstone to illustrate this point. There is a grand war in the background between all these incredible, ancient forces, but our initial introduction to the world is through the eyes of Bilbo Baggins, the most humble of the races of man. We might as well have been introduced to a world of high sorcery and warring gods through the point of view of a rabbit, and indeed, why not?

Having such a detailed and thorough backstory for what is and why it is that way is great, especially when your characters are not the movers and shakers. You see a world of unfathomable events through eyes of innocence, and discover it’s wonders and terrors with the main character together.

Really, I’ll say it again. I read the tin foil hat ideas that Anne Stickney put forth, and it sounds so very, very plausible… but if it’s not, I really wish it were. I love the idea that all of these grand events that we have seen from the ground level through the eyes of our characters really are moving towards this incredible final culmination… and I won’t spoil where Anne thinks we’re going, but it is definitely the kind of thing that leads you to imagine, “Wow, what if…”.

Reading an article like that first thing in the morning sure does help the rest of the day go well.

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Tesh has taken up the challenge, and crafted the ultimate Ring of Power™.

Or at least, the ultimate Ring of Furry Feral Druid Pride.

Yes, I said Furry. We’re Druids. Get over it. SOME of us are even Taurens, so if you can’t at least handle the label with humor, dare I say “let it slide like water off a Manatee-forms back”, then you’re in the wrong end of the class pool.

Tesh has opened a new Shapeways store, called Tish Tosh Tesh Toys (I love that name), and has presented us with several different Feral Druid ring designs.

One of these rings is exactly, EXACTLY, how I envisioned the ring I wanted to design… except a little better, because it has our Druid shoulder markings on each side of the claw design;

It’s amazing! And on Shapeways, when made out of Stainless Steel, it’s only $23.00!

Now, at this time it is only on there at size 11. I do not know what size my finger is, but it’s unlikely to be 11. I ain’t that lucky. But Tesh tells me he is going to be adding more ring sizes soon.

I think if we ask nicely, he may also add the option to have it made out of other materials… I don’t know what the options are exactly, and I know I will buy the stainless version so I can wear it without worrying about breaking or chipping it, but it seems to me you can have things made of other materials, some colored. Perhaps a Night Elf purple or Tauren brown version are possible.

 Still…. behold the power of creation!

And if Tesh acts fast, it is entirely possible that some lucky Druids could be seen wearing one of Teshs rings at Blizzcon! Talk about a head turner, eh?

In other Tish Tosh Tesh related news, one of the things he intends to create and place for sale on his Shapeways store are Zomblobs! figures for a tabletop game version of his game design.

Just sayin’, this ain’t a one-shot store for a one day wonder novelty item that will quickly and quietly fade away. Tesh has plans. Exciting, imaginative plans. I’m really looking forward to seeing where his vision will carry me next.

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Good day to you, my friends, and welcome to what is likely to be the only WoW blog post you’ll read today that ain’t about Patch 4.2 or the Firelands.

What I wanted to share with you was my excitement and nervousness as I boldy embark on a great new adventure in the life of the Big Bear Butt.

No, I ain’t quitting WoW. Or the blog.

Some of you got your hopes up there for a second, didn’t ya?

My Druid has, for the very first time in the history of WoW, got a Moonkin spec, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I knew so little about the Moonkin lifestyle going into this that it’d be just like having someone hand you their max level character and saying, “Here, go play this for a while. Have fun, knock yourself out.”

“But what do all these things do? How do they work together?”
“Eh, you’ll figure it out.”
“Hey, why did you rename your character Farkingebaynub?”
“I believe in giving my friends fair warning.”

After reading up about the current state of the spec at Grey Matter, I find I’m pretty excited. It’s always cool to try something completely new, and this ain’t even an alt. This is my main.

The joys of playing a hybrid. Even after all these years, you can have the same character, and still do something new.

Now, before we go any further, this post ain’t to say, “Oh, look at me, I did something new, blah blah blah”. What this is about is the excitement of learning about a very rich, well imagined and implemented character class. 

Last night, after reading Graylos’ fully updated Moonkin raiding guide, and checking out the recommendations of the Twitterati, I walked away impressed with how well conceived the spec sounds now.

These days, I expect each class to be well-balanced.

I expect classes to be designed so that, in the hands of a reasonably competant player, DPS characters can reach a consistent sustained and burst damage ratio. Tanks can survive a certain amount of damage for a certain amount of time, and have cooldowns to boost spike survivability. Healers can generate positive health by a certain amount per second, to a certain number of players to handle burst and sustained damage.

Maybe one is capable of a little more burst compared to the others, or handles sustained fights with consistent output while others go silent to recoup Mana, but by and large, they’re balanced.

What surprises me about the Moonkin is how delightful the Eclipse management system sounds as a concept, how different it seems to the other caster classes I’ve played.

With the other classes, you cast a spell, it activates, and aside from what it can do, it might also trigger something else that makes another spell more powerful. Once that buff is gone, though, you start over. Warlocks can burn their Soul Shards to buff spells, but it’s still a ‘cast this, trigger something else to be buffed, cast first spell again and start sequence fresh’ type of power progression.

For the Moonkin, this whole Eclipse sounds like an amazing playstyle to flow with.

Maybe you’re a highly experienced Moonkin player, or maybe you don’t know anything about them and don’t care, but from my fresh perspective, it sounds brilliant and I’m itching to try it on level 85 bad guys.

In fact, the only thing about it that I would wish, coming at it completely fresh, is that I wish the spell names and effects were tweaked the rest of the way to really highlight that you’re channeling the raw power of the Sun or the Moon.

You have an actual Eclipse bar registering both Solar and Lunar energy. Think of it as how attuned you are to one or the other at any given time.

Some of your spells, when cast, generate Solar power, and others generate Lunar power.

When your bar is at full Solar or Lunar power, you are at an Eclipse. The corresponding power is buffed… but every time you cast that spell, you move away from full eclipse and back towards the other side. The buff remains until the moment you reach equilibrium.

The amazing thing about this mechanic, to me, is that it gives you control over when your Eclipse buff will go off. Not all of your spells cause Solar or Lunar power… and you can intentionally cast the opposing spell to drop your bar back a step.

Think of it this way, and by all means correct me if I’m wrong, but say you’re on a boss fight.

For a lot of the fight, you’re doing the best damage you can, including pushing to each Eclipse point, but at some point you want to be able to push it on command. To ‘pop all cooldowns’, to go all out. Heroism is fired, everybody on the boss.

You want to be using Eclipse to buff your spells during the fight, otherwise you are hurting yourself, sure. But you also know that when the boss falls to, say, 35% health, it’s time to go all in. And when the mark ticks 35%, that’s when you want your chosen Eclipse, Lunar or Solar, to activate.

So when the boss gets to 40% or so and you’re getting close, a Moonkin can cast a Lunar spell pushing towards a Lunar Eclipse… and then once you’re on the edge of the Eclipse, cast a Solar spell or two, bringing it back again.

At 35% boss health, you can actually cast that one last Lunar spell, tipping the bar to 100 and firing off a Lunar Eclipse, right on schedule, buffing your Lunar spells like crazy. But of course, each buffed Lunar spell you cast drops you back towards equilibrium again.

That’s so freaking cool.

As I said, my only teeny gripe about this is that some of your spells are still Nature based in name. To my mind, the idea that you are channeling the raw force of the Sun, or the more muted, radiant energy reflected off the Moon is awesome. I’d prefer all my spells to relate to this Solar/Lunar theme.

I fully understand that the Moonkin started out with pure Nature, and the Solar/Lunar thing grew later based on Moonfires and Starfires, but now the Eclipse theme is so sweet that I’d like to expand on that, and leave the Swarm of Angry little Bees Chasing Pooh the Bear behind, y’know? I’d love to see Entangling Roots become more of a Gravity Well thing to pin people down.

I ain’t crying, just saying.

And for those of you that love Moonkin and wish they’d drop Solar and Lunar Eclipse, Moonfire and stuff, and go back to pure Nature for the spell theme… I totally understand.

I personally see the Eclipse thing as being more appropriate to an Astrologer-style Mage, and seeming kind of wierd tacked on to the Owlbear.

But I love the Moonkin form, the Moonkin dance, and the Eclipse cosmology. Can I help it if I want them juxtaposed, no matter how little sense it might make?

So, off I go. I intend to try running normal instances as Moonkin to try my hand at the playstyle. I’m going to explore totally new territory.

Oh wait, I AM scared. Hold me!

Now, on to a more serious note.

The Moonkin playstyle really is not that different from other casters, except that it gives you the ability to manage a resource that has no zero point. You have a sliding scale, and at any given time, you are moving somewhere on the scale, and you can change directions at will. 

It is that aspect of the mechanic added to the traditional caster playstyle that I find very intriguing. With the help of addons like the one Graylo recommends, Balance Power, you can see exactly where you are at any given moment, and also how far the next spell you are actively casting is about to push you towards an Eclipse.

This small addition is just enough to take away the feeling that there is a specific fixed rotation to master, and instead, however mistakenly, gives me the feeling I am in control of my own destiny. I and I alone choose when I buff my spells, AND which spells will be buffed (Solar or Lunar), based on the choices I will make. The moment I unleash the power of an Eclipse will be in my hands.

It’s a small thing, but at the same time, just the idea feels more fulfilling than knowing that a spell I cast as a Mage has a chance to proc an extra buff or effect on a Crit.

I have no control over when crits go off, unless I have a spell I can trigger to make my next cast spell an auto-crit, which doesn’t have the same feel. All I can really do is stack more crit, which is a function of gear upgrades and Reforging/Gemming and Enchanting.

It’s a small thing, but it adds an excitement to the idea of playing a ranged spellcaster that had been a little lacking before.

It makes me wonder… is the way the Moonkin changed over the years a sign of how Blizzard sees class design these days? And if so, is this the level of control over our class we can expect to see them introducing in the new MMO they’ve been working on?

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One of the aspects of World of Warcraft that has made it such an enduring part of my life over the years is the scale of content available.

It’s obvious, but it bears mentioning; Azeroth and Outlands are vast in size and deep in lore. With such a massive world to explore, and with things changing every so often, it keeps me coming back for more.

I am more than willing to return, too.

My journey in playing Playing World of Warcraft over the years has often reminded me a little of my journeys in learning to play chess as a child.

I was introduced to the game of chess by my father. I wasn’t really sure of the rules, or the goal, other than head to head games usually meant trying to outsmart the other person. Battleship, Stratego, Chess… head to head domination. My father liked that kind of arena, so that was what I expected going in.

After playing for a few weeks, I learned the basics of the rules, understood where I could go and what my standard options were, and I felt I could take on other players. I even won a few against my father.

The longer I played, the more connections I made between the rules, the moves, the layout and the way you needed to play a deeper tactical game. Instead of action and reaction, move to move, you needed to think ahead, plan. Move one piece here seemingly for no reason, and the next piece you move could be protected by the first. Using the first piece to protect the second by threatening retaliation through a rudimentary overwatch.

And it was mental, of course, because once your turn was over, the initiative was in the other players hands. He had the choice to make, was it worth it to take your piece, knowing it was covered by another that would take his in turn? 

Had he already anticipated your move, and was planning his own attack around your flank where you weren’t paying attention, having nothing to do with your two pieces out there in the open?

The more I played, the more I saw that there was a deeper game to learn than what was on the surface. Much deeper. And I felt pretty sharp for seeing it. I was going to get really good, and kick my fathers ass.

Then there came the day when I checked my local library for books that someone might have written about playing chess better. It seemed a long shot, I mean, who the hell would write an entire book on how to play a board game like Stratego, Checkers or Chess? That’s why they stick little rules pamphlets in the box with the game.

What I found out was that the world of chess that I thought I was getting a handle on, that I was just now discovering, was old, familiar, highly debated and researched territory.

Thousands of books, movies, programs, historical data on matches, newspaper games using some kind of obscure letter/number code designations, omigod are you shitting me?

I just hoped to find a book on how to play a deeper level of the game, and now suddenly, it felt like if I really wanted to play the game well, I couldn’t just do what I was doing, or even just read a book, I needed to make it a career.

I came here to play a game, and I wanted to play it well.  I didn’t want to devote the rest of my entire life to mastering all this…. this shit. I’m fucking seven years old! Screw that, I ain’t got time for that, summer’s here! Time to see if I can use the garden hose to tunnel a hole in the back lawn that will go all the way through to China. I hear it’s on the other side of the world.

Do they all stand upside down, down there?

Yep, that’s what I’m reminded of when I play World of Warcraft. The difference is, in WoW I was fortunate enough to start at the very beginning, and as the game grew and changed, I was there every step of the way to adapt and learn. 

I can’t imagine what it must be like now to approach this game from the outside.

I do know that I don’t ever feel comfortable calling anyone a noob. If I do get annoyed, the other person has to be max level in some decent gear, because that to me says they’ve been around the horn long enough to have had lots of opportunity to see how things work and ask other people questions.

I never assume anyone else has visited a website to study the game.

Much like chess, if you start getting into the game, what would it be like to be told, “If you want to play well, you need to go watch this list of videos, read these website guides, use these training dummies, and practise a lot first. Also, you need to go find these addons to install, otherwise, you’re never going to be able to compete in a tournament with other people. You’re never going to be at that level on your own. Too much study and research has gone before you to catch up and be rediscovered all on your own.”

Would you do what I did with chess, and decide it’s just not worth it? To choose willingly to remain a dilettante, a player who enjoys playing the game, but knows that they will never be in the big leagues of top play because they just aren’t interested in investing that much time and effort into research?

Or, now that we are mostly mature adults, do you start playing the game, love what you’re doing, and when you poke around looking for information on how to play better, see the hundreds of websites and guides and blogs and tools and addons, and rejoice that for every question you may form, there are a dozen people eager to answer?

It’s questions like this that fascinate me, because there really are no ‘right’ answers. It all comes down to how you feel at the time, what you like, and when you began playing the game.

If you’ve just gotten into WoW, do you wish you too could have been in at the ground floor when it all began?

If you are fairly new to WoW, and sick of hearing about ‘vanilla’ or BC or how great Karazhan was, are you trying to dig in deep and catch up, or are you looking with interest for a new MMO. A game that you can try at launch, see from the very first baby steps, and be there for from day one?

You can never go back and be someone that played WoW from beta, but you can find something else to start with fresh.

I wonder, how many people look around the aging, established insular WoW community, and find that one of the reasons they want to leave for Rift or Star Wars: The Old Republic or Guild Wars 2 is the opportunity to be part of a revolution, to forge a brand new community and be there at the dawn of a new era. 

And having seen what the WoW community grew into, is it even possible for such a thing to happen again? Nothing succeeds quite like success, and bandwagons are made for jumping on. How do you forge a vibrant community for another MMO when there is such a monolithic leviathan sloughing along the tracks, sucking the light from the room? 

With all the interest in SWTOR and Guild Wars 2, such are my thoughts on a boring Friday afternoon.

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