Lost in Wonderland

This is a request for a bit of guidance.

There are Vash’jir “flight points” internal to the zone.

What I don’t have is an understanding… how do you link Vash’jir to Kalimdor or Eastern Kingdoms? How do you move into and out of the zone itself?

Whether through flight paths, boats or portals, I’m just still a little in the dark on this one.

Can someone help me out on the repeatable methods you can use at level 80/81 to get into and out of Vash’jir when you want to?

Thank you in advance for your insight.

You had me at “Thrall”

I got the Cataclysm as a digital download… and went to sleep at my normal time.

However, I took the day off from work!

No, not to play. I’ve got an appointment this afternoon. It is pure coincidence that this ALSO just happened to let me log in this morning!

No, really. It’s coincidence.

So, I logged in and created my new Goblin Warlock, “Fryingbacon”. The starter zone looks kinda cluttered and mechanized, and I wasn’t really feeling it. I’m sure that I’ll get into it if I have some time to come back to it, but after a night long session of listening to Loreena McKennitt, I wasn’t up for mechanized. I’m up for pretty flowers and romantic highwaymen and ladies from shallott.

That means… time for a Worgen!

I hadn’t even intended to create a Worgen, but at the last minute I really started liking the idea of a Priest. So, female Worgen Priest “Supervixen” was born.

I like Gilneas much more. It certainly fit the mood. Very cool. And a lot more crowded with new Worgen than the Goblin starter area!

But ah, the allure of the shiny… can’t you fly in Azeroth now? What’s that like?

Off to Bigbearbutt, to learn how to fly easier than Pink Floyd ever dreamed.

The view over Stormwind City from on high is incredible. Even more so when you realize that a lot of it is still unchanged from the original design, which you never really got to enjoy from the air before. The Mage Quarter, in particular, when seen from the air is gorgeously landscaped.

Logging into my level 80 Druid, however, brought one unexpected bonus.

A popup appeared offering me a quest to go visit the Earthen Ring in Stormwind.

“Ahh”, I think, “Here is where you get offered new quests.”

I go check it out, and they want me to use a scrying pool to see something in a far off distant land.

I use it… and… cinematic?

omigod… THRALL!

There is some hooyah about saving the world from this, or fighting off Deathwing, or some such, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

You had me at Thrall.

Damnit, I guess I’m going to have to go quest now.

For those of you that cannot get into the game just yet, I promise you it will still be here later. In the meantime, just rest easy knowing that it’s live, it’s working, and it just might be almost as cool as all the hype made it out to be.

What is your FIRST goal in Cataclysm?

The actual expansion is almost here, and I’m really curious as to what YOU, the folks that come to visit, are actually planning on doing FIRST.

You’re going to install and/or activate the expansion and then log in. Then there might be some minor shuffling around, addon updates, that kind of thing.

But with the new content and options available, what are you planning on digging into first?

Are you going to make and play a new Worgen or Goblin?

Are you going to learn and delve into the newest Profession, Archeaology, and search the world for something cool to dig up?

Are you planning on tearing straight into the new leveling/questing content on one of your level 80 characters?

Are you going to race change one of your existing high level characters to Worgen or Goblin right out of the gate?

Are you going to train Azeroth flight and go for a spin to see things for the first time when NOT on a flight route?

Are you maybe planning on training a new Profession level, and being the first to hit max on a crafting Profession?

Are you going to train a gather Profession and be the first to corner the herb, skin or ore market?

What, exactly, are you really planning on doing the first time you get into Cataclysm?

Me, I honestly don’t know. I feel the allure of leveling Professions. I might train old world flying, upgrade Professions, and then go do some Mining or Herbing.

It’s so close, you can almost squeee!

Can We Recreate the Magic?

This post is just a little bit of musing about then and now.

Tuesday will see the dawn of a new era in WoW.

Or will it?

The Cataclysm will come to the world of Azeroth, surprising our characters, but not us.

That’s not what I’ve been thinking of.

Maybe it’s Tesh’s fault, but I do spend quite some time trying to analyze the intentions of the Blizzard developers NOT from anything they say, but rather from what they actually DO.

You’re not what you say you are, no matter how loudly you proclaim it. You are what you do.

Tomorrow, for the first time since the release of the Burning Crusade expansion, the portal hubs will go dark.

For the very first time since the end of the Vanilla WoW era, there will not be a single place you can set your Hearth that gives you ready access to… anywhere you want to go.

There is much in the patch and the expansion that will move the game forward.

Is the removal of the portal hubs a move forward… or a move back?

In my opinion, trying to get into the heads of the developers to figure out how they hope this will work out, it’s an interesting move.

People bitch about ‘slippery slopes’ a lot, but one thing is usually true; once you’ve removed an action that used to cause long periods of  grinding, grunt work or downtime, if you put it back in, people resent it. 

One of the things that was true in Vanilla WoW was that moving from place to place took a lot of time. Time waiting for boats, time waiting for zeppelins, time on flights across the continents, time running across deadly zones to get flight points hoping you wouldn’t get eaten, but having to do it because there WERE no boat or zeppelin routes that would give you a convenient short cut around them.

‘Fed Ex’ style quests took no skill at playing your character to complete… but they compensated for that by taking up a lot of time in transit.

There was good cause for rejoicing when Burning Crusade brought us Shattrath; a city with Innkeepers to set your Hearth, and filled with magical portals that could transport you in the blink of an eye to any of the major cities on another world.

Suddenly, just by finding a friendly Mage or Warlock of the right level to help you get there, maybe a 10 gold tip, your character could easily pop in and out wherever they might need to go.

The consequence of this convenience was that one of the most powerful benefits of being a Mage or Warlock, or having one for a friend, was marginalized.

Even the Shaman’s ability to reduce the cooldown of the Hearth was slightly reduced in equivalent power.

The LFD tool brought even more convenience to the party, didn’t it? Instant ports, and all that sort of thing.

No question that having portal hubs saves a lot of time… time that once was spent traveling from place to place could now be spent getting it stuck into the fight faster.

The developers chose to include those portal hub cities. First with one in the heart of Outlands… then again in the heart of Northrend.

The developers have chosen to remove all of those portal hubs.

What can we glean from this decision?

I think, despite some of the conspiracy theories I’ve seen in Trade chat the last few weeks, that this is not an attempt to make us waste more time so the content lasts longer before we get bored.

I’ve seen some comments that it is being done, in part, to cut down the ‘Laglaran’ effect of having 80% of a server’s population in the same zone or city. That sounds like a very plausible reason.

I know that it’s been said by developers that a key point is to force players to be out and about running around the world, so it seems populated and full of life.

Well, if I wanted to be a picturesque local to add color for the enjoyment of the new tourists, I’d prefer to be issued a grass-roofed hut, banana leaves and a spear to shake. And a table to sell my hand crafted goods at ridiculous prices. And a bottle of rum. And some bacon.

I’m not here for the tourists. Screw the tourists! I’m here for my own paid playtime. This particular argument you make for why I should now have to spend tons of my own personal time traveling around not having fun when I used to be able to ‘blip’ effortlessly about is not compelling. Stop making it.

It costs a set amount of money to play per month. Time = money. Your change is costing me playtime I used to spend having fun, and that means you’re costing me money.

Or, as Henry Rollins once put it, you’re killing me… you’re stealing my life. Just a teeny, tiny bit at a time.

So, no, that rationale doesn’t quite float my boat, honey.

But there is another good reason they could be trying it. I say trying, because they can always change their mind back later. It’s not like they’re bulldozing, and can’t afford the zoning permits to rebuild.

By reverting us once again to the days of Vanilla WoW… we are returning to a time when having a Mage, a Warlock, or a friend who is a Mage or a Warlock was a damn good thing.

The abilities those classes learn, and  especially those Portal spells the Mages work so hard to acquire over the levels, suddenly go from being  handy once in a while to being freaking awesome.

Which is how they were before the Burning Crusade.

We’ll still have LFD. We’ll still have the new, vastly improved summoning stones as well. Well, maybe. We will even have new perks from Guild Leveling letting us summon guildies directly to the raid (unless they changed that when I wsn’t looking). And of course, the boats and zeppelins.

We’re not turning back the clock all the way back to Vanilla.

But we won’t have Dalaran or Shattrath to set our hearth to be able to pop wherever we want.

I find thinking of it as a planned change to bring Mages and Warlocks more love for their class skills far more satisfying than thinking of it as a way for Blizzard to feel that they’re running a populated world.

Unless we ever see player or guild housing, set up in seperate communities where we have a reason for hanging out there, housing that other people can peer into to see us hanging out but they can’t enter because they don’t have the friend or guild key… any attempt to make us populate world areas is purely superficial.

Oh, and Blizzard… I know you don’t read my blog, it’s cool, I’m an idiot. But seriously, from me to you. I love you, and what you do is awesome, but could you please consider player or guild housing? Think about it. If you seriously set aside areas where a guild could buy, say, a small townhouse with outdoor area in a city park, and only guild members were allowed in the area… but people could walk by and see what was going on in the outside area of the ‘lawn’?

You would likely have a real, living breathing community on your hands in that neighborhood. Instead of doing laps while chatting, people would lounge on an easy chair in the sun catching a few rays, or stand around the BBQ drinking beer while they chatted.

Oh yes we would.

Back to the point, in my opinion changes attempted to bring a classes’ unique abilities back into prominance is a good thing. Unless the class ability was poorly thought out in the first place or no longer fits the intent, and needs a revamp.

It will be interesting to see how people adjust to the changes. Will there be tons of QQ? Will people be so thrilled by all the rest of the changes they don’t even notice?

Will the number of Mages and Warlocks rolled suddenly increase?

I can’t wait to find out.

How would YOU schedule the event?

We’re at a fun point in the game right now, in terms of planning.

Let’s pretend, just for a minute, that this huge decision is actually in OUR hands.

The date for the release of the Cataclysm expansion is set, and it’s about two weeks away.

In the United States, one of the biggest family events of the year, Thanksgiving, is set for less than one week away.

You’ve been increasing the pressure in the prelude to Cataclysm every week up to this point.

You’ve got one BIG game change coming that you’ve said you will do before the actual expansion release date; the literal breaking of the world.

You are more than a group of brilliant game designers. You are also one of the biggest game companies in the world, and you have to take into account the realities of supporting massive patch releases with physical support to anticipate and correct any problems that may occur.

Historically, every big patch, no matter how well tested, has had some unforeseen problem crop up. You’re too smart to think this one would be different.

What would YOU do?

Regardless of what actually happens, how would you handle it?

Would you release the big world breaking event this week, giving you two weeks to work through problems and get things settled before the expansion… but knowing that if there ARE problems, it will cause a lot of grumpiness from the United States’ customers that will, most of them, have a four day weekend for playing nothing but WoW… err, I mean spend time with their families?

Or do you wait until next week? Do you give things a chance to build some more, maybe have one more ramp up to the final world breaking, and let the big crash come after Thanksgiving, trusting that any last minute problems will be corrected in that last week prior to the box expansion going out there into the world? 

How do YOU play the timing?

The female Worgen dance take 2

Okay, now I know I gave Blizzard crap for using Lady GaGa’s dance for the female Worgen dance.

I stand by that post, but I messed up in one big way. I was vague when I gave suggestions as to what could have been used instead. I do try and live by “If you’re gonna complain, have a suggestion to make it better standing by.”

I knew what I wanted to say, but I was writing off the cuff and didn’t have the link handy. Then, I forgot. :)

Look, the following video shows what is, in my opinion, a far more appropriate song, by a far more appropriately passionate singer, with a dance all the way towards the end that might be a teeny bit more appropriate. The bits with the beautiful black evening dress on the rooftops. not the rest of it. nothing wrong with the rest of it, just saying the stuff in the black dress is really thrilling and seems like it would be graceful and passionate while still being appropriate for a female Worgen in a video game.

Now, before you actually GET to that dance, there is a whole lot of, what I will generously call, “Not Safe For Work” dancing. 

If you are actually at work, you really might want to forgo playing this video. It’s a music video, not porn, but, well… hot damn.

Oh, and guys… you’re welcome.

My Mage be makin’ BACON!!!!

It finally happened. It took a long time, way too bloody long all things considered, but this Bear finally achieved one of my pre-Cataclysm goals, thanks to Cassie.

My Mage, the first and only Mage I ever created, has (as I’ve said previously) only been played as part of a team, following the lead of Cassie the Superbear.

Cassie, who, and I really can’t say this enough, has the most amazing spacial awareness of anyone I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t matter what direction I pull the mobs from with my 40 yard Ice Lance, or how many she’s already holding, she grabs the incoming mob before it’s even halfway near us.

Growl and Feral Faerie Fire on incoming mobs are your friends… and most of the time, Growl is irrelevant unless I’m just going to town. FFF does some amazing threat.

Anyway, we’ve only played these characters together, and we’ve taken so long on leveling that both our characters have the Achievement for saving a town from the Headless Horseman… from last year. :)

But I had a dream.

It was a simple dream, of modest proportions.

Nothing revolutionary, nothing to set the world on fire. But an important dream to me, nonetheless.

I dreamed of a day when I could proudly march into a field of Murlocs, transform them into Pigs, and use my powerful fire abilities to make my own Bacon, on demand.

My ice abilities, of course, would be helpful in saving leftovers. But it’s bacon; leftovers? Yeah, right. 

That was my dream. A do-it-yourself Bacon kit; just add Murloc.

Last night, my dream finally came true.

We started out the night at level 57, and I mean 57 and 1.2% into the next level. We had some quests in Un’Goro Crater on our books, but after that, we weren’t sure where to go.

We’d done some solid playing the nights before, and had managed one level per night, so I had hopes we’d see Hellfire Peninsula, or at least come darn close.

Instead, through Cassie’s dedication and tanking skills and my ability to hit a “fwoom” button, we plowed through Un’Goro, nailed 58, popped into Hellfire and blasted all the way through to 60.

I’d like to personally thank the jackass level 80 Blood Elf that helped make this possible, who waited for us to kill all the Ravagers in an area before swooping in on a broomstick to snag the egg and then fly off out of sight overhead… just to do it again on the next egg we cleared the way to. I’ve never killed so many Ravagers before when doing that silly quest, and it helped a lot.

I’m happy to say that all of the commenters on my previous post were right; while there are bugs in the Mage class quest chain that results in learning the Pig Polymorph spell, it is still in the game, and is still perfectly available.

The first bug that can be misleading is when you pick up a quest from a Mage Trainer, a quest that will send you out to find the actual quest giver in Azshara. For Alliance Mages in Stormwind, the quest was called “Magecraft”.

When picking up that quest, if you zone or log out, the quest is gone when you return. That can be very misleading; you don’t need that quest at all, you can go directly to Azshara and get the quest from the source, no pre-requisites.

The second potential bug is when you are directed to Polymorph targets in order to create polymorph clones. The quest expects you to use your Sheep spell. If you have the Penguin glyph enabled, it will bug out and crash the quest. So make sure you use Sheep.

The quest itself turned out to be very fun. Initially, it sounded like a big drag, because you have to Sheep a target, and  then after 2 to 3 seconds, the target spawns from 1 to 5 polymorph clones that look like super-teeny tiny little sheep… that are FAST as hell, take off in all directions like they’re sensitive areas were on fire, and are NOT tab targetable.

These are the things you need to kill. And you need to kill 50 of them.

My first two or three sheeps, I tried to nail the Polymorph Clones with Ice Lance, and only got one before the rest died of old age.

Next I tried Sheeping the target, and then standing on the Sheep and prepping Arcane Explosion to fire when the clones appeared. that didn’t work worth a damn, though, because they quickly rocket out of the Arcane Explosion AoE.

But finally, I simply chose to Sheep a target, and then drop an old fashioned Blizzard right on top of the sheep before the clones appeared. This broke the sheep early, but the clones appeared INSIDE the AoE and popped instantly.

That was a lot of fun!

A long night, but a merry one. The very thought of knowing that I hold the power in my hands to not only transform my enemies into Pigs, but to kill them, roast them and make delicious BLTs out of them fills me with glee. No, not that kind of Glee.

THIS… this is true power. This is the heady feeling of power that can corrupt even the mightiest of mortals.

In other news, I have four versions of Polymorph; Sheep, Pig, Turtle and Rabbit. Yes, Rabbit. I planned ahead and ground out the chocolates so I could buy the Tome of Polymorph: Rabbit during the Easter in-game event, even though I knew I couldn’t use it for about 30 levels or more. Totally worth it.

It looks like all that’s left right now is the Black Cat. There was a Turkey datamined and can be seen in WoWhead, but it lokos like it never went live. Man, turkey? Can you imagine? Bacon is epic, but what about making my own bacon WRAPPED turkey? Club Sandwiches, anyone?

Thank you Cassie, for dragging my Mage butt all over the world just so I could make darn sure I could be makin’ some bacon before the Cataclysm. I do solemnly swear to never polymorph a Druid, no matter WHAT the form they’re in.