Archive for the “General” Category

I’m back in World of Warcraft where I belong.

It was a cold, lonely two days unsubbed without Azeroth to call my home.

I’ve come to the realization, and it’s a somewhat surprising one to me, that over the years I’ve gone from being a solo player to being a raider.

I don’t have to raid all the time, and I don’t have to raid serious progression, but I play the game first and foremost to have fun times with friends doing stuff together.

In World of Warcraft, that means raids.

I enjoy pet battles, and flying around looking for ore, and putzing around leveling alts I know I’m never going to play at max level. That’s still good fun.

There will forever be something magical in riding a dragon, soaring through the sky over mountains and green valleys, scanning the ground below looking for something to kill. Death from above!

For me, the true gaming pleasure boils down to either looking forward to (and preparing for) the next raid, or being IN the raid.

I log in and look at my in-game friends list, and that song from Frozen runs through my head, but the lyrics are changed. What I hear is;

Do you wanna kill a dragon?
Come on, let’s go and raid!
I never see you logging on
Come on get on
Don’t you want to come and play?

Yeah, I’m very excited to be back in World of Warcraft. It’s raid night, baby!

Tonight is supposed to be the first night our raid team in Band of Misfits begins 25-person raiding in Siege of Orgrimmar.

Will we still be called Team Wanda? Inquiring minds want to know, this is serious business!

The first raid will be tonight on Wednesday, and there is a second scheduled night each week on Sunday.

Doesn’t seem like much, is it? Two nights a week to do raiding.

It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to give me something to look forward to. There will be good times, fun conversations, people joshing with each other in vent while internet dragons are battled.

When it’s over, there will be reasons to go out and get stuff to make more flasks, some food, get some Valor to upgrade things maybe or seek out new items in old content to build a new transmog set to wear to the next raid.

There is one truth we all know by now. In order to get a group of folks together on a consistent basis, there has to be a reward those people want. Fun in groups gets most people there the first few nights, but self-interest and the carrot of an actual reward gets people coming back time after time.

A rare mount, a pet drop, that item for transmog, and above all else a better gear upgrade, these things are motivational. Sure, we all want fun, but we also want loot.

That is why raids are going to continue being the thing that brings people together. So long as there is a potential upgrade or achievement or shiny new thing to seek, you’ll get the seekers banding together.

I’m sure some of the folks tonight are only coming because they hope to get gear upgrades, and if it wasn’t with us it’d be with someone else.

I’m sure others are just bored and here is something to do. Maybe they’ll last, maybe not.

Still more might be starting with us tonight because there is nothing in it for them today, but it’s an investment of time now to ensure that when the Garrosh heirlooms get a higher droprate they’ll be right there to get a shot every week.

And of course, most of the core team are doing this now in the hopes of a smooth, speedy transition into the new Mythic raid format once Warlords of Draenor pops it’s cork.

Me… I resubbed, and I’m going tonight, and I’m going to do my damndest to be there every Wednesday and Sunday for raid because I finally got it through my head… I just like playing with friends, and the folks in Team Wanda? They’re my friends, and I like to hang out with them.

Same with Tuesday nights. I’ve been priviliged to run with some of the fine Horde folks in Elitist Jerks in flex runs for the last several weeks, and you can imagine my surprise in finding out they’re a bunch of great folks, too.

Who knew fun friendly folks that know what they’re doing still play this game? From the drama on social media you’d think it was dead. Amazing.

People can bitch about whatever they want to elsewhere, or get enthusiastic about another game, or whatever. It doesn’t bother me, it doesn’t affect me, and it doesn’t change my experience in the game that I do play with the people I like playing with.

World of Warcraft remains a great game. It’s controls are smooth as silk for me, there is a ton of interesting and enjoyable content to play through, and there are still many things I’d love to do, most of which takes a group to do and wouldn’t involve rewards or upgrades for other people, which is why I haven’t done them yet. :)

I remain hopeful and enthusiastic, however. Even the worst night playing with friends is a damn good time.

Comments 6 Comments »

Since WoW is now dead to me, at least until I totally cave in and resubscribe because I am cracking up and can’t take much more, I have lots of free time on my hands.

I spent some of it tonight fixing my music playlist.

I go to the gym most every morning, and I use my iPhone and the Amazon Cloud Player to manage my music because fuck iTunes.

Some songs get too burned into the brain to keep getting the blood thumping, and others are momentary flashes of fascination before I lose interest, but for right now, this is my absolute ultimate “just hit random and go’ music selection.

Since this is me, I have infested my playlist with my own personal sense of humor and touch of hell. As an example, I derive great joy from making Nickelback rub up against both Rage Against the Machine AND Skrillex. I like to think Nickelback wakes up each morning screaming from my own personal brand of voodoo hoodoo, and that RATM and Skrillex would be getting together and plot some kind of vicious blanket party except, you know, they hate each other too much to drop the fashionable scowls.

See if you can spot some of my other “I may love this song but I’m going to make the artist feel dirty” song arrangements.

It doesn’t matter what order they’re in anyway, I always run my playlist on random, so don’t read anything into which is top or bottom. They’re all evensies.

Keep in mind, I’m an old bastard, and I really don’t care if you like these or approve of MY liking them or what. This shit gets me moving, and at my age, that’s a freaking miracle. Also, I am long past the age where I worry what people would think of my music choices. My music choices should all be grateful I choose to like them, it’s like bestowing a blessing upon them from on high. They’ve been anointed, and that leaves room for more beer.

Do you hit the gym or work out and are on the hunt for something new to freshen your playlist tracks? Something here ought to get it done. If it doesn’t, you’re dead.

Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
Rihanna – Where Have You Been
Within Temptation – Faster
David Guetta (feat Sia) – Titanium
Rihanna – We Found Love
Lana Del Rey – Summertime Sadness (fast remix)
Nemesea – In Control
Nonono – Fire Without a Flame
Dragonforce – Through the Fire and the Flame
Audioslave – Like A Stone
Agent Provacateur – Red Tape (from the Jackal soundtrack. The Jackal. It was a movie with Bruce Willis, damnit, sue me)
Shakira – She Wolf
David Guetta (feat Sia) – She Wolf
Nonono – Like the Wind
Havana Brown – Warrior
Nonono – Jungle
The Cranberries – Zombie
Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
Lady Gaga – Applause
Skrillex – Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites
Nickelback – Side of a Bullet
Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of
Avicii – Wake Me Up
Nonono – Pumpin Blood
Christina Aguilera – Fighter
Eminem – Lose Yourself
One Republic – Counting Stars
Avicii – Hey Brother
nicki minaj – Super Bass
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Of Monsters and Men – King and Lionheart
Katy Perry – Wide Awake
Ke$ha – Die Young
Katy Perry – Roar
Pussycat Dolls  When I Grow Up
Veronicas – Untouched
Vast – Touched
The Crüxshadows – Eye of the Storm
Rihanna – Disturbia
The Offspring – Lightning Rod
Dragonforce – Fury of the Storm
Namie Amuro – Hide & Seek
Concrete Blonde – Tomorrow, Wendy
Johnny Cash – God’s Gonna Cut You Down
The Offspring – the Noose

I put together every one of these that I could find in a shared playlist on Grooveshark, to help make it easier to try them out. Nonono isn’t on there that I could see, and neither was Namie Amuro, who does the song Hide & Seek on the famous Blind Machinima video. I was shocked by how many were, so hopefully the playlist there works for you if you’re interested in listening to any that are unfamiliar to you.

I am always on the hunt for more pounding songs for my workout, so if your personal favorites aren’t here (and I can’t imagine that tehy would be), please share them in the comments or on Twitter.

Have a great weekend!

Comments 9 Comments »

The final countdown has begun. I have less than 24 hours remaining before my paid World of Warcraft subscription goes dark.

Cassie frankly doesn’t think it’s going to happen, and I’m kind of curious if I can manage it myself.

A little voice in the back of my head tells me, “You know, you KNOW that a week after your account closes, Blizzard will announce new in-game rewards based on continuous subscription time… and you’ll have gone from ten years to zero. Don’t do it.”

Last night, I decided to log into each of my characters to find that one special place, mount and pet to pose with and take pictures of before logging out for what might be the last time.

For every character I have leveled to max over the years, I have some special place that springs immediately to mind with images of great battles, raids or fun with friends and family. At least I did until I reached my last character, Chainblade, my poor abandoned Death Knight.

Poor Chainblade. I created my Death Knight to play with my son, and we spent a good bit of time together in Cataclysm on the long march to 85. When Mists of Pandaria came out, many of my other characters traveled on, but Chainblade was left behind. He never took the magic airboat ride.

As my son’s Death Knight Hailsword adventured deep into the mist-shrouded pandaland, Chainblade became a pet battle alt. His duty orders sent him to spend a long, LONG time standing next to Major Payne, where he would briefly appear each day to engage the good Major in pet battle before returning to his tent for the rest of the afternoon.

Chainblade was the character that joined my son in completing the daily missions to gain a Winterspring Frostsaber, so that mount is the one that Chainblade shall always be riding for me. I was happy to see that he still carries with him a photograph of his cub’s first toy. That brought a smile to my face.

But what location resonated with the Death Knight? I could certainly log out next to Major Payne, that would feel proper considering the length of time spent there, but it doesn’t half speak of adventure, now does it?

In fact, Chainblade spent so many months in brief daily battle with Major Payne that I didn’t create a story for him so much as had the head canon build up for me.

You see, once the Lich King was finally defeated, the great wars of Chainblade’s time were over. He had battled valiently and been true to his cause, but once the grand threat was removed, what place could there be for the dead in the lands of the hot blooded and quick?

With his days of glory behind him, Chainblade the worgen Death Knight retired to the Argent Tournament in Icecrown, near to the scenes of his past glories, and there he spends his days lost in his memories of friends and fallen foes from the past, and continuing on from day to day in a kind of timeless, changeless rhythm amidst the comfortable trappings of his life on the front lines.

Chainblade has his tent pitched near to Major Payne’s tower at the Tournament, where he has been for several years now. He’s a familiar sight to the vendors there as he goes about the same time-worn ritual, each day the same as the last.

At midday when the pale sun is at it’s zenith he will emerge from his tent, vigorously sniff the air, and then light one of his foul-smelling Nerubian cigars. Once he has it going well, he pulls out his old campaign chair and sits beside his fire to enjoy the feel of the weak sun on his fur.

As the light slowly begins to move, tracing stark patterns across the face of the Storm Peak mountains, he relaxes in his chair and sips his kungaloosh. He drinks to forget, even as the taste of the kungaloosh mixed with a dash of quinidine bark reminds him of the times he drank it in the hot jungles of Sholozar Valley to keep his undead heart moving slow and sluggish in the quickening hot climate.

When night finally descends in full and the lights of the Tournament are aglow, he gets up and wanders his way over to visit with Major Payne, and watch as a fresh crop of hopeful challengers bring their pets, eager to show off their skills to the master trainer.

He sips his drink and watches through the dusk hours while the natural drama of victory or defeat goes on around him, untouched by it all but still feeling something, some small sense that he could have been any of them, with a bright future ahead, and with a life where such a small thing as a lone pet battle victory or defeat could seem like the most important thing in his entire young life.

Then the day has finally ended, and the youthful challengers all run off to celebrate or drink away their disappointment and tell stories of the grand adventure they have had, and their hopes for more excitement in the days and weeks to come.

Chainblade sets down his drink and cigar upon the steps of the old, cold tower and faces off with the good Major for the last battle of the night, two old warhorses replaying an old and familiar game. He takes his victory with the ease of long practice, using the same tactics as has worked each month and even year that has slipped on by.

Picking up his drink and cigar once more, he gives the Major a long-toothed grin, and retires to his tent, letting the moments of the day slip away to blend into the long line of unchanging and forgotten fallen dawns behind him.

Kind of sad, really. He’s a Death Knight, he shouldn’t be sitting around molding away by a campfire, he should have one last, bright charge against a valiant foe left in him!

I decided to resurrect Chainblade, call him up out of his retirement and make him shake loose the cobwebs from the rut he was in, give him one last hellride through mystery and adventure.

Chainblade had always been Unholy, so it was really time for a change. The tired old wardog needed to learn everything all over again, and what better way than to take a lesson from the new World of Warcraft Crash Course video on Death Knights, and try Frost? Dual Wielding Frost at that, really shake things up!

I watched the video, and I enjoyed it. Then I read the guide for Frost Death Knights at Icy Veins, and thought, “Holy crap, that is a lot more complicated than the Crash Course made it sound!”

Then I read the small section on simplified Frost DPS, and saw that it was about the same as the Crash Course, only you know, Icy Veins talks about things like Army of the Dead and glyphs and what kind of Runeforging enchants to put on weapons and all that stuff. Whew! A ton of stuff to take in.

Chainblade finally took his first steps into Stormwind in years, and was summoned to a visit with the King. He was directed to take a magic airship ride to discover what had happened to the fleet and the White Pawn, and stepped once more into adventure.

Two words: Holy shit!

I have played through the starting Jade Forest Alliance zone as every character class now.

I can say, without reservation, that I have NEVER before blown through that zone like an unstoppable juggernaut the way the Frost Death Knight did.

Just, holy shit!

I know I should be popping some of my short duration cooldowns, but I didn’t have time, because even when swarmed by adds like Hozen I just destroyed them. I never even bothered with Obliterate, I never had to.

I will say that the combination of summoning my pet on a 2 minute cooldown, and then using the talent that takes half of my pet’s health away to heal ME for half of MY health on a 2 minute cooldown was awesome. If I got swarmed by more than four or five things, I’d wait until I was finally below half health (and most of the mobs were dead anyway), then pop my pet and my healing Talent and boom! Back at full health AND with a pet to help finish them all off.

Felt overpowered while leveling, and that’s no lie. I never died, and I took on swarms of Hozen. I pulled the Hozen camp where Admiral Taylor is found right before you rescue him and take him to the fishie people, and it was nothing but a thing. Just pull the camp, kill them all and loot enough keys in one go to finish it all up. And then get the skulls easy because everything’s dead.

Never, ever felt anything like the god-like power of the Frost DK in that area.

I think I only ever summoned Army of the Dead once, and that was when I started feeling guilty killing swarms of adds without it, like I was being a fail DK. Army, damnit! I’m supposed to use that.

One last night to go. Tonight will be the last one.

Chainblade is level 86 already, and he’s remembering why he had to drink that kungaloosh to make it through a hot forest full of things that wanted to eat him in the first place.

Even if he finds himself retiring there among the fish people, he’ll at least have had the pleasure of one last hurrah, and the knowledge that yes, even in this modern age, an old wardog can learn one more trick, and be a total badass while doing it.

Comments 4 Comments »

Damn Shaman.

There is one final class I have never leveled to max in WoW; that damn shaman.

I came close on the Kael’thas server, real close, but stopped a few levels away. There were just so many times I could take the last five levels of Cataclysm before I snapped, and my shaman suffered the final price.

But here we are, and the days are ticking down to d-day.

D-day stands for denial day. I say it’s the day when my WoW subscription runs out a month hence. Cassie says it’s the day I try to log in, can’t, break down in a panic attack and resubscribe to the 100-year plan.

I hear if you sign up for the WoW centennial plan, Lore brings waffles or pancakes to your house, your choice.

The game time is there to be used, and, well, you know. Why not log in, just clear out a few of those last little things.

My Bear is sooo close to having a Legendary cloak, after all. I have eleven out of twelve Titan Runestones. I ought to be able to get just one little Titan Runestone next Tuesday, right? I mean, come on, there are the first two wings of Siege of Orgrimmar and the last two of Throne of Thunder, and as long as I leave Lei Shen alive to take his heart once I’ve turned in all twelve, I could have it all wrapped up before the weekend.

Then there is my Horde Hunter. I’ve been fortunate enough to have Tyben of the Elitist Jerks inviting me along to their alt night runs on Tuesday, so I’ve been having a ton of fun there. Listening to them raid and joke around is a hoot, and the vibe is amazingly like being with my own raid team. It makes me wonder if all extremely successful raid teams share similar qualities, being able to focus on what needs to be done next and improve every time instead of falling into bitching about what happened last. Also, having a sense of humor without a bitter, entitled edge to it.

Regardless, I’ve really been enjoying the Tuesday night Elitist Jerk raids, and that has me wishing I had better gear on the Horde Hunter so I’m not dragging them down, and THAT has sent me into every LFR instance trying to get upgrades.

If I set my computer on fire from running too much LFR in a blind rage, I blame Tyben.

Speaking of raiding, I’ve been spending Thursday nights raiding in my own group’s flex alt night on the Bear hunter, and having a blast there as well. it’s all flex, but it’s all right. Lots of fun, and it gives me an opportunity to hang with folks in my friends list.

But there is only so much LFR and Flex that can be done, and so my thoughts turned to that lack of a shaman.

Could I putter around and level a shaman before the subscription ends? I hear Elemental is a lot of fun, you can cast lightning on the run, all that stuff.

What could it hurt if I created a pandaran shaman? Maybe a female with the red raccoon tail, I’ve never made a female pandaran. Pumpken always looks super cool, maybe a mace and shield combo would be fun!

Wrong move, tofu breath.

I managed to level through the turtle isle, but damn did that feel crappy.

First thing was, I thought the wandering isle was kind of empty when I started leveling, which was awesome. “Oh boy, the boosted 90s have cleared out the crowds fighting for the mobs and drops! I have the zone all to myself for RP!”

Um, no. I think it was the Easter holiday effect. By the time I logged in to finish it up last night, there were billions of others cross-server leveling on that teeny little isle. Okay, maybe I’m exagerrating. Maybe. Damnit, I hate sharing leveling zones with a crowd. I want to take my time and enjoy the moment. No, I don’t want to group to power level through. Piss off.

Then there’s this whole elemental thing. From level 1 to 9, you’ve got a lightning bolt, a melee whomp, and an Earth Shock. You get a lightning shield after a while, but that’s not really something you intentionally target on an enemy.

Oh, and every time something starts whomping on you, it interrupts your cast, slows it down, over and over! I found myself kiting shit more while leveling the shaman than I do when raiding.
That’s just wrong. Lightning bolt, lightning bolt, back away, bolt, back away, keep moving, shit there’s four of them!

It was brutal.

That moment when I hit level 10 and was able to choose a spec made a VAST difference. Most classes I’ve played, you hit level 10 and you get more toys but you don’t feel that much more powerful. More tools in the box, not necessarily bigger nukes.

Oh, not so with the shaman! You get passives to reduce interrupts while spellcasting, reduced cast times, boosted power to your lightning, instant cast AoE knockbacks, and flametongue weapons. Stuff that I was kiting all over creation suddenly went down like dominoes. Big difference.

So I’m rolling around on Kargath, having fun as a Thunderbear. We’ll see how it goes, it was fun and frustrating to reach level 10 without heirlooms to make the game easy mode. Things felt challenging enough to have to use all the abilities I had. Now that I have my heirloom gear, will it be too boring to continue? If I don’t use heirlooms, will it take me the rest of the month to get to a mounted level?

Should I even bother messing around with another alt? Is there time enough for May thunderstorms?

Comments 7 Comments »

I still love World of Warcraft as a game, and I like the people I play with, but as of this last weekend the Bear family has joined the ranks of the great unsubscribed.

I have some time ticking away on my subscription, due to being on a 3 month billing cycle, but the deed is done.

There are a lot of things that go into this decision, but the single biggest one is a lack of having anything to do in game worth paying $50 a month for the family to take part in.

Note, I’m not saying there is nothing in the game to do. There are certainly plenty of things that any of us could do. We could all log in and /dance in Stormwind for 8 hours a day, but that doesn’t mean it would be fun, exciting, or worth $50 a month to us.

For the forseeable future there will be nothing new to do, nothing that we haven’t already done on some character, somewhere, many times. In most cases, many, MANY times.

I will be back when patch 6.0 is 100% fully released. It is doubtful the Cub or Cassie will return. Until there is something new to actually do, new goals to achieve, new rabbits to chase, we’re out.

For those of you who have been with me all of these years, yea even through the great content drought of Cataclysm when I proclaimed to the sky that you’d have to pry WoW from my cold dead fingers when the server shut down, I’d like to give you more explanation than that.

I love playing WoW, but right now I feel much the same as I did at the beginning of the long, boring stretch during Cataclysm when all we had to look forward to were seven long months of Dragon Soul farming on alts.

The single biggest difference between then and now is, now we can clearly see that the decision not to release any new content during this long intermission before the next expansion is an intentional choice.

I admire the creativity and skills of the programming, art and design teams at Blizzard, but running the game is a business. This isn’t something driven by the creative programmers, this isn’t based on how passionate the developers are. This is driven by number analysis and managing a brand for maximum income versus resource expenditure among a strong fan base.

Someone over there in the business group has run the numbers and determined how long they believe they can go without releasing new content and still keep x number of paid subscribers.

Part of that calculation of maintaining subscriber income comes from how much interest they think they can generate from buzz in social media, news teasers on patch 6.0 info, screenshots, discussion panels at conventions, beta news blurbs and all the other stuff.

Basically, they expect to use words and pictures and promises of neat things to come in the future to keep World of Warcraft visible in social media, alive in our thoughts, and us enthused and subscribed until the new expansion comes out. All without new content until then.

Sure, they know they’ll lose some people, but they’ve got hard figures from the Cataclysm slump before the Mists release to know exactly how many subscribers they lost over time, and how many of those came back once there was a patch.

It’s also reasonable for an analyst to expect the pre-order offer of an immediate boosted level 90 character to bring back old players or new ones, and that influx of new accounts should hide the churn to some extent.

For those of us who are long time fans of a grand adventure run as a business, we have to live in two worlds.

In one, we are romantic. We believe in the game developers, we trust their vision, we have faith that they are working to create the most wonderful game experience we could ask for. And I feel that is very true.

In the other world, we have to remain aware running World of Warcraft is a business, the goal of which is making money, and there are ‘suits’ whose purpose it is to extract the most cash possible from the franchise without risking alienating our romantic role-playing escapist side.

I’d say, the vast majority of the time those suits leave a lot of money on the table, erring in the side of caution. They leave the short term gains untouched to focus on keeping long term trust with us. I admire that. I really do. So many other companies have executives that get greedy and start milking that cow dry. Blizzard doesn’t do that.

All that being said… $50 a month seems pretty steep to us as a family to continue logging in to do a pet battle once in a while, or do a Flex run once a week. We’ve kept active accounts for, what, over eight years now?

I’ve never unsubscribed before. I’ve been one of the faithful for almost as long as my son has been alive. There are kids playing WoW right now that weren’t alive when my subscription began.

It’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is.

I’ve said plenty of times that I pay to play a game, and if Blizzard is going to choose to stop releasing content for a long stretch of time, I’m going to choose not to pay them for that same stretch.

I’m certainly looking forward to Garrisons, and new racial graphics, and a beautiful content that is the same and yet vastly different, and raiding with my guild, and everything that comes with the new expansion.

As soon as you provide them, I’ll be back.

All that being said, I have one foolish optimistic hope.

I hope that the real, true reason we have this insanely long dry spell is because we have to for the expansion coding.

I hope that they can’t do more content patches because they need one stable core software revision to base all their changes from.

I hope that, because first I am a romantic and I’d like to believe there ain’t no suits at Blizzard, just passionate gamers.

And also, that might mean their new file structure designed for easier patching might mean shorter gaps before new future expansions!

Yeah, I know but I can dream.

Comments 22 Comments »

World of Warcraft™ and Blizzard Entertainment® are all trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment in the United States and/or other countries. These terms and all related materials, logos, and images are copyright © Blizzard Entertainment. This site is in no way associated with Blizzard Entertainment®