Don’t ask me why, but I got a wild hair up my ass about getting the legendary cloak on my Hunter.

No, not the new Horrible Hordie, I mean on my happytime Alliance hunter, Beartrap.

Beartrap, who had been my main bear all the way through the Isle of Thunder, only to be dropped like a mortar base plate during a 20 mile forced march in favor of my shiny new Warlock.

Poor Beartrap had reached 14 of the Secrets of the Empire out of 20 Mr. pencil-necked pipsqueak Wrathion wanted. And I was already exalted with the little twerp, too! So close, but no orange meta gem.

Poor, poor Beartrap.

This could not be borne any longer!

Also, I’ve run out of anything in the game to do that holds any interest for me. Never before have I felt this complete sense of “who gives a shit about WoW, there’s nothing to do” like I do right now. Even during the long stretch of Dragon Soul raiding in Cataclysm I didn’t feel this sense of having nothing left to do.

Just… blah. If this is how I feel now, I am pretty sure I’m not making it to a fall/winter expansion release without unsubbing for the summer.

But there is still this one thing. I could finish out the legendary cloak on Beartrap before I make a decision.

Who knows, I could find a renewed sense of purpose in the game, I could become reinvigorated by the world and fall in love anew with soaring across and Azerothian skies.

And pigs could fly out my butt from all the bacon I eat.

This last weekend I decided to see if I could get any of the missing secrets. I did this by subjecting myself to LFR over, and over, and over. Late last night I endured Lei Shen attempts over and over and over, but at the end of it all 20 were mine!

Now to stick a harpoon up a flying serpent’s ass and run like hell.

Chain running LFR has left me feeling a little sick after witnessing the fruits of the boosted 90 program.

I’m glad the mechanics worked out well, and I get that saying “get your max level character now!” has more punch than “get your 85 and then quest to earn those last five levels so you get some idea WTF you’re doing.”

It still remains that I have never seen so many people, shiny and new, bravely setting out into the world of LFR with no idea how much crap they’re getting into.

It is always painful to see innocense lost.

Hunters seem to be the class that are the most obvious offenders. They have talents and spells that damn near shout ‘I don’t know what I’m doing and I’m in your raid!”

I see Aspect of the Pack left up all the time now.

One person left it up for an entire boss fight, on the Dark Shaman encounter. Entire fight, same hunter left it active the entire time. My UI let’s me see the name of the buff provider when I mouseover, so there was no mystery here. Whispers, ENDLESS whispers throughout the fight to please turn Aspect of the Pack off went ignored.

Others weren’t so kind. I tried to get them to take it off by whisper, but once the tanks figured out who had the buff up, it got ugly and public.

The person never did take it down. We wiped at about 5%, and everyone stood around until the hunter could be kicked from the raid.

I can easily picture them not knowing how to respond to /i chat, or know how to chat at all, or know which button clicks off an Aspect since it’s not like a normal spell.

As bad as that sounds, there is the case of the hunter I met in the first wing of Siege LFR.

During the Fallen Protectors, I noticed this one hunter had a cute wolf pet, and it stayed by his side the entire fight.

I didn’t say anything, we were busy, and maybe they were Survival and didn’t really feel they needed their pet for max deeps.

After the Protectors, on the way to Norushen I checked the damage logs, and they had about 35k DPS. That seemed… a mite low. Not as low as the 20k warrior I saw that stood in ALL the bad, and didn’t understand why they kept dying, but still bad.

So I whispered them, and suggested they change their pet to active because it could add a lot to their DPS.

The person was grateful for my advice. They had never played before, never heard of websites about WoW, bought the game because they could play at max level, excited to raid like they’d always heard of, and were afraid of doing the wrong thing. So they had the pet on follow and passive so as not to cause trouble or do the wrong thing. Did I have any tips?

I tried to help them as best I could, and they seemed very nice. They wanted to play, but didn’t really understand how anything worked so they shut stuff down if they were afraid it might cause problems.

Compare that to the other hunters I saw that left Growl on all the time, but still.

It makes me sad. It’s nice that there are boosted 90s available to bring people into the game, add more subscriptions right when things seem boring as hell for the next 6 months or more without anything new to do. OMG.

I don’t feel that’s it’s doing much of a service for that the new player when there is nothing in game to specifically help them understand what to do with the level 90 now that they got it.

I think the implementation was miles short of being done well. To do something like that and do it well would have taken a revamped version of their ‘challenge modes’ specifically designed to ease a new level 90 healer, tank or DPS through the basics of their class.

A ton of work? Sure. Work that in my mind was necessary. Too late now, but if it was too much effort to do that for the brand new player that never heard of the game before, then they shouldn’t have given free boosts with the purchase of the expansion. Leave it an in-game purchase for existing players.

This is the time, above all others, when those ‘welcome to WoW’ guilds that Blizzard had been building on the servers would do the most good. A place new players could be nughed where they could be told where to find those websites, a place to ask questions without ridicule or embarassment.

Too bad that program fell by the wayside.

I see a lot of trying in LFR. A lot of willingness to give it a solid go, stick with it and win. There seem to be more pleasant attitudes than ever before, at least if this entire last weekend was any indication.

Not from everyone, though. Oh, no.

You’ll be happy to know there are still plenty of asshats that are all about themselves and the ‘go go go we’ve been waiting 15 seconds I’m going to pull for you’ bullshit, and who haven’t adjusted to the fact we’ve got a new generation of player we need to bring up to speed. Or who simply don’t give a shit.

I actually saw it last night on Lei Shen. Three wipes, lost a bunch of people, one of the new DPS that came in (along with a change of tanks and healers) literally posted a stopwatch of 0:17 and said ‘go go go what are you waiting for’ and then ran and pulled.

Didn’t even have groups set up with healers in them for the platforms yet. Lovely little wipe. Did it take more than 17 seconds to recover from the wipe? Yes, I think it did. Did that person give a shit? Of course not.

Bottom line, I have never been embarassed to play World of Warcraft before, but trying to see the game through the eyes of a new player, seeing how these oh-so-vocal ‘experienced’ players talk and act has finally gotten me to that point.

I’m starting to come around to thinking that if people like that are going to be the most prominent part of every group activity, vocal and proud of it, then I feel embarassed to admit I play World of Warcraft. I already feel like I have to whisper people to tell them ‘all players aren’t really like that’.

Especially when I wonder if that is still true.

All I know anymore is me and thee, and I’m not so sure about thee.

Comments 6 Comments »

Be a bear! Be a bear!
Show them all that you don’t care.
Nap all winter if you want to,
Who would dare disturb your lair?

I could not be who I am if I didn’t tell you about this MOST EXCELLENT Kickstarter project; The Bear Simulator.

Finally, the internet has achieved it’s final form – we can fund what matters most in life.

Some fools thought what is best in life was to crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

Bearshit.

What matters most is funding what we want; a game where we are a real bear.

We have come full circle, you and I.

Our natural enemy started strong with Big Game Hunter, letting them feel like they were somehow superior, but the circle of life demands balance.

And bears. Lots of bears.

To quote the Kickstarter project description,

It’s like a mini Skyrim but you’re a bear.

Even better. It’s already fully funded.

This isn’t vaporware, this isn’t an imaginary dream or a cautionary tale, this is a BIG BEAR DERRIERE wandering all up in your vale. Er, valley.

So go! What the hell are you waiting for? Are you going to let some damn GOAT take all the glory?

Fuck goats!

And if you’re a bear, you can, because who the hell is going to stop a bear from doing whatever it wants?

GO!

GO GET YOUR NAME ON THE BIG BEAR WALL!

Comments 4 Comments »

Okay, I might have written my last post a bit too soon.

Right after I published, I logged in to enjoy a bit more BlasterBunny hijinks.

Almost immediately, I unlocked a new ability.

A pet!

A BOT BUDDY!

And guess what?

It’s a tank!

I played with my new bot buddy, and after another level, guess what guys, OMG guys, guess what guess what…

MORE BOT BUDDIES!

This time, an artillery bot buddy!

It tells me I am only allowed to have two bots up at the same time.

Only two.

ONLY. TWO. BOT. BUDDIES.

BOTBUDDIES

There ain’t no ‘only’ to be found here.

Ahem.

SAY HELLO TO MY LEETLE FRIENDS.

Comments 5 Comments »

So, there is this upcoming MMO called Wildstar, it’s in Beta, you very likely have heard of it.

If you haven’t it’s pretty simple to catch you up.

It’s an MMO with controls similar to World of Warcraft, it’s a sci-fi theme, it’s got an art style on the stylized cartoon level with tons of character, and the designers are a bunch of smart-asses.

I’m saying it’s got a twisted sense of humor.

I was fortunate enough to get a beta key earlier this week for the weekend beta testing going on right now. I’ve been playing where I can grab fifteen minute blocks of time, and yes there are a lot of bugs (mostly in sound files clipping and character/NPC facing or edge detection so far). I report what I can.

Here is the thing.

I might actually want to play this when it comes out. Like, I might really enjoy this as a long term investment of my time in something fun and rewarding.

Here’s a few of the things I really like.

First, the character generation. When it comes to creating your character, you are presented with a good range of real choices for faces with personality, each face looks like something you’d want to choose. I don’t know about you, but most games have maybe three faces that seem like something nice to use, and the rest are shit. Especially WoW, most of those faces I could just never imagine using, I think they were created just because they knew they needed more than three choices.

Not here, almost all of them are cool, distinctive faces with very different personalities.

But even then, after you pick one, you can choose to customize it more using sliders to move your facial features around. So yu get a good range of faces that already look great and distinctive, and then if for some reason you just feel like you wish the eyebrows were a little bit lower, or the chin wider, or the nose a bit less prominent, no problem.

I really like that. A lot of the new super-realistic graphic MMOs have a character generator that gives you super generic crap, and then expects you to use the color, shape and location sliders to do all the customization. A good idea if you’re an artist with a vision you want to fulfill, but I just want to get close to something cool and then touch it up a teeny bit, not spend 2 hours messing with sliders. Wildstar nailed it.

I also love the artistic style they’re using.

I like the Warcraft art style because it’s easy on the eyes as well as being distinctive. Things stand out because the details serve the vision rather than being a means to an end.

Wildstar feels like they have captured that same idea by going with a more colorful and cartoony style rather than hyper-realistic. By blurring the edges, you end up recognizing things from a distance much better and everything fits better.

I also like the racial designs. Not all of them, but I can see where every one of them will appeal to someone.

For example, let me show you my favorite race and appearance so far.

I hereby present you with BlasterBunny.

BlasterBunny

The Cub and I created him together, I ran around with him and realized… we made Stitch from Lilo and Stitch.

Technically, he’s a Chua, but let’s face facts; he’s a giant space chinchilla.

For those of you who, like me, are John Ringo fans and have read the Vorpal Blade series, especially the second book that introduced the race I’m talking about, this is beyond hilarious. All I need now is a hoverboard to ride, and I’m in heaven.

No, really.

SoSassy

I’m serious. This is a character. And you can make a wide range of different looking characters with wildly different personalities within this race so they don’t all look the same.

Oh, and this one? He’s on the ‘evil’ faction. And with a wicked grin, he blows things up. Because he’s an Engineer. That means big guns. Blasters. Kaboom!

I made a few other characters as well, a human Exile Spellslinger, an Exile ESPer.

Basically, I’m just enjoying it.

It is, for lack of a better word, snarky.

Now, here’s the other thing about character creation and playing the game that I’m liking; you pick two classes, one for what you are, the other for how you want to play.

See, the classes are things like Warrior or Stalker or Engineer.

But then there is this second set of professions to choose from; Combat, Settler, Scientist and Explorer.

Those are entire classes built around how you want to play the game.

Combat, you’re going to have lots of special side missions to go kill stuff, they’ll give you even bigger guns to do it, you’ll get your Judge Dredd on.

For Settler, you’re there to gather resources fro the area to build improvements into the existing camps and make things that will buff or enhance stuff. You’re settling a brave new world, and someone needs to know how to get the vending machine working again. Or the perimeter defenses.

As a Scientist, you’re seeking out and studying all of the plants, animals, the ancient technology. Space archeaology is a thing. If you like gathering and examining and learning, this is for you.

And then there is the Explorer.

Remember that post the other day talking about the good old days, traveling on foot seeking out the edge of the world? trying to get to those inaccessible places in the mountains or the bottom of deep, dark caverns?

Yeah, that’s what this is all about. And you get quests sending you out to do it! And rewards and stuff!

Yes, you can be the Explorer, charting out this brave new world.

He looks just like Luke under the twin suns, doesn’t he? Spitting image.

Twonsuns

About the playstyle, all I can say is there is a different attitude here that is in keeping with what I said about being an Explorer.

This is a game that welcomes you taking your time to explore the environment.

It was a bit of a shock. I had watched Angry Joe play the beta a month ago on Youtube, and he made it sound slow as shit and boring in the Dominion starter levels.

Playing that exact same section myself, I can see why he said that, and yet at the same time I had a different experience. Because he came at it looking for a shooter, for a ton of action, for run and gun blow through everything at top speed to powerlevel as fast as possible.

Why not? That’s how a lot of MMOs have trained us to play. We look for the exclamation point, we look for the easy to find glowing thing to grab or the ten rats to kill and return. Then on to the next thing.

I enjoyed the areas, even though I was retrieving books and stuff because it had sucked me into laughing at the snarky edge of the humor of it all. The Dominion is the big evil bully of the universe… the Empire to the Exiles Rebel Alliance.

But at the same time… this is an Empire that takes itself so seriously that they bust through to the other side, as caricature, as satire. And as satire, as unintentionally shining a light on being evil without being morally aware that they are evil, it’s really enjoyable. I found myself getting sucked in to the Dominion conversations, the actions, the shrines and seeing the duality of what they were saying and what was the actuality.

I didn’t play the Exile side enough to see if there was a sharper edge to the apparent Rebel Alliance band of misfits tone, outlaws on the fringe of the universe fighting for scraps theme, but as well done as the Dominion side is turning out to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if there were.

The pacing and quests are fine if you approach it expecting a game that encourages you to actually spend more than five seconds in their world. This game doesn’t see the leveling zones as a necessary evil, something to spend as little time in as possible before you level and blow through to the next place.

The addition of these extra classes, the Scientist and Explorer and such, is I think they’re way of cluing you in that maybe you should stay a while and check things out a bit before rushing off.

I did Explorer, and I tried some Settler, and it’s a surprise to nobody that I enjoyed being an Explorer.

When the Exiles had me scramble to the top of an asteroid to plant a beacon, when I found out they were going to give me a reason to climb the highest mountain, I was hooked on the profession.

I’m hearing in Beta chat that the classes that people are enjoying the most are ESPer and Stalker. I made an ESPer and tried the combat a little… it was cool, but I found myself really enjoying the Chua Engineer and the blaster cannon, even if other people were saying it’s not the best.

I didn’t try the Stalker, but the description of it sounds like a Warcraft Rogue with stealth using fist weapons. Certainly something worth checking out, hmmm?

I guess basically I’m finding it charming, enjoyable, and showing all the signs of having deep gameplay, and designed to reward taking your time to explore without taking forever at it.

Plus, seriously, you had me at giant space chinchillas.

Comments 6 Comments »

mountup

A Hunter ain’t a beastmaster unless you can tame yourself a big ol’ dino!

Just look at the size of him. Look at that nose, the snout, she’s a real goer, you can tell.

Thanks to my habit of Warbringer farming, I MIGHT have a matching mount. Riding around on the ground for an expansion holds no fears for me, because I’ll be looking good, baby.

Looking good, Billy Ray? Feeling good, Lewis!

Feeling good, indeed.

Let’s talk about being locked to the land for an expansion.

Flying, not flying, no flying at start, maybe later? maybe never? Everyone has an opinion, of that one thing you can be sure.

Flying is a lot of fun. It causes problems for developers when it comes to controlling players and the rate or ease with which they devour/and/or avoid content, sure, but bottom line it.

You can’t take the sky from me.

I love to fly. I love to fly as a Druid in flight form especially, but no matter what the method, I love to fly in the game. The controls are smooth and responsive, and the graphics slide by with ease. A sense of soaring through the wind is attained.

For me, cloudbusting is one of the key things I love in the game.

Oh hell, why not. I love this song, and I love Kate Bush. Enjoy this brief interlude.

Okay, back?

Damn, I love that song and video. Almost thirty years old, and you still feel the power of Terry Gilliam, Kate Bush and Donald Sutherland sticking the landing.

That first line of the song, “I still dream of Algernon, I wake up crying.” That makes me want to cry as well. I also remember Algernon, and I always will.

Cloudbusting.

Let’s put aside all the cynical reasons why a developer would want to keep you bound to the earth for an expansion. Let’s look at the game as a game.

There was a time not so very long ago where there was no free flight in the game. If you went somewhere, you went on foot or took a flight from a dedicated flight master. And before you could fly to the flight master, you had to go out and discover him for yourself. For the fifteenth alt, a pain in the ass, but that first time?

Ah, that first time. Everyone remembers their first time.

Sometimes, flight masters were killed and you’d land only to be stranded until they reappeared.

Sometimes you went walkabout, trying to find the edges of the world. Jumping and climbing, working your way up slopes to the boundaries to see what lay beyond.

I made it once, you know. Dun Morogh, up near Mo’grosh Stronghold, out east where the Night Elves have their hunting lodge. I went climbing with a few random people I met killing ogres one day, and we fell off the world into an empty, grey void.

I saw the other side, and only I am returned to tell thee.

The world was a place of mystery, where the far corners might not have been mapped yet, where you didn’t really know what was on the other side or near the top.

A place where dwarves operated airstrips in the mountains that you couldn’t quite reach, but legend spoke of those who did, and were banished by Blizzard to silence the tales they might tell.

I love my flying, and I do not wish to lose it. I have the game open even now as I write, with my hunter hovering over Golden Terrace, and even now the sound of the wind soars through my speakers, mixed with a sweeping refrain of violins.

Bring in the horn section. Ah, there we are.

There was an undeniable thrill to seeing the world at sea level, to pushing through vines and fronds of leaves, of hacking my way through deepest jungle and breaking trail over high peaks. Yes, and of knowing that if you got in deep shit, you were way out in the woods and far from home, and my what big eyes you have granny.

I still remember the death run I made from Stormwind to Booty Bay, to visit every flight master along the way, at the ripe old level of 25 or 35 or whatever the heck it was. Low enough level to be a bite sized aggro magnet morsel. Every step, would I aggro some unseen panther from the other side of that hill? Would I be able to run? Would I make it, and if not, how much further would I get next time?

As large as the world truly is, being able to fly makes everything that much smaller.

The challenges, like the people, seem so small when viewed from above.

You can’t take the sky from me.

But you can borrow it for a little while.

There are other games, and I can tell you now that there will be times that I will play those other games when I would normally be playing World of Warcraft, just so I can feel the thrill of speed, faster and faster until the rush of the stoop outweighs the fear of death.

Is it a good design decision if it sends players to a different game? Short term yes as long as it isn’t long term permanent, I think.

For the short term, I think I will enjoy the expansion more knowing that wherever I go, I will have to contest my right to go where I will with those that think themselves the lands masters.

I will contest with them, and they will make way, or their bones will litter the ground behind me. It’s all the same to me.

I will not slink like a coward through the Dark Portal to stab the minions of the warlords in their sleep.

Nay, I will ride through the Dark Portal with my massive dinosaur Bloodtusk like the conquering champion that I am, fearing nothing.

Mastersofdraenor

Why should I fear? I have trod the wings of dragons beneath my mailed feet. I have taken the crown from the head of the prince of death, and anointed a successor by my will.

I have killed death itself and sent the elder gods fleeing in panic, seeking to escape my wrath in vain.

I, fear the Warlords of Draenor?

Right. Pull the other one, it’s got mail on, it tinkles like a bell.

Go ahead, give it a few really good tugs. Don’t be shy.

I will not fear, but it will be good to feel once more the sensations of wonder, curiosity, the rousing spirit of adventuring through unknown lands eager to see what lies over the next rise. And yes, the thrill of wondering if it will be big enough to eat me like a Fel Reaver eatng noobs on the first day of the Burning Crusade launch.

Once I’ve traveled the length and breadth of New Draenor and mastered all it has for me, well, at that point there had best be some soaring symphony is all I’m saying.

For a while though, a very little while, all will be well. And all will be well. And all manner of things will be well.

I live for the unchained melody of the wind playing beneath my wings.

Comments 7 Comments »

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