Okay, release party is on

I’ll start working on some planning stuff, but just fyi, I will plan on being at the midnight release event at Gamestop in Maplewood, MN, next to the Circuit City, from 10PM to midnight.

I hope to see you there!

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Midnight release meet and greet contemplated

Hi folks!

I just wanted to briefly (lol, I can’t even keep a straight face saying I’m going to be brief, anymore) mention a few thoughts Cassie and I had on doing something fun for the release of Wrath of the Lich King.

I’ve called to check, and the Gamestop store that Cassie and I normally go to is holding a midnight release party on Wednesday, November 12th.

The one we go to is in Maplewood, Gamestop #531 (next to Circuit City), part of the Maplewood Mall loop, close to TGI Fridays and Buffalo Wild Wings. 

I talked to the guy there yesterday very briefly, just to kind of touch base and see if they were kind of excited about the release, and possibly open to idiots like me coming out for a meet and greet and stuff like that.

The fellow I talked to was not only really nice and cheerful, but seemed genuinely excited at having the pre-release midnight event going on.

So I’m kind of thinking it might be fun to pre-order our games (the non-CE versions) from that Gamestop, and then head on over there for the midnight release, hang out with other people excited to get their grubby little meathooks on Wrath, say hi to anyone that comes out. That kind of thing. 

I was thinking that, for fun, I could try to come up with a variation of the BBB t-shirt image just for the release, and bring a bunch of one-of-a-kind buttons to give away to people that show up there.

So, for those of you that hang out in the Twin Cities, Minnesota area, anybody interested in something like that?

EDIT Added:

I know that most of you probably already pre-ordered from somewhere else. Sorry I’m so far behind the curve on this. What can I say? I still have a hard time thinking someone might want to meet me. After all, I know me. 🙂

I haz a dark secret!

Well, it isn’t much of a secret, depending on if you listened to the WoW Insider podcast last Saturday.

The secret is, I haz a Beta key… and I used it to check a few things out, do a little investigative journalism… and to report on what I could find to the Devs, of course.

I still have the Beta key, but at the moment I have no access. One of my hard drives went down, and ate the WoW.exe file while the latest 8970 build was being patched.

Hard drive issue, not the patching process. But since it happened in the middle of patching, yeah, it took me a while to figure out what happened.

I’ve since recovered my other data, but the Beta program is gone and I’ll need to re-download and install from scratch. Just haven’t had the time.

But what I did do, aside from testing Druid stuffs, was play the Death Knight class from 55 to 58 and Hellfire Peninsula.

Not once, mind you. Twice.

Yes, it is that much fun, even with insane lag.

I started on the PvP server, made a gnome with pink pigtails… and immediately deleted her. I went back and made a human female with rather pale visage, and went with that instead.

Why?

Well, first and foremost, while I had thought it would be awesomely ironic to have a big bad evil Death Knight be a cute gnome with pink hair… when I logged in with mine on the Beta Server, what I found was, so did everyone else. An army of gnome DKs with pink hair.

Blech.

The reason I went human in particular instead of night elf or tauren, was the Human Expertise racial bonus, of course. I’m a tank and DPS, I know what Expertise is used for, my good friends.

The PvP server was lag free. I went all the way through to Hellfire, leveling Unholy spec the entire way, and had a great time. Every part of the entire quest chain and playstyle was awesome.

I didn’t like playing an evil character, but the care and craftsmanship that has gone into the quest chains, area, and staging of the play from 55 to 58 is truly epic. Everyone should at least take one that far, even if you go no farther.

Amazing.

There are also a few new quests that bring a lot of fun.

Do you remember, those of you that played pre-BC, how astonished we were when we had our first ‘bombing run’ style quest in Hellfire that first day or two?

The gushing in general chat over how awesome the bombing run was, and how people just wanted to do it over and over again, because of how neat it was?

It was a new, fresh experience in the game, a new style of quest that reminded us how sick we were of “go kill 10 of xxx and bring me 30 ears”.

There are actually a COUPLE of new styles of quests in the starter zone that give you that exact same feel.

Seriously. They did a great job.

The gear you get also looks great. No question. Very nice design job. It is fun seeing the difference your new gear makes in your appearance.

I had so much fun, I went and made another DK, on a PvE server, to experience the lag, and leveled that one Blood.

Ice is the third spec, but from what I saw it was truly a tanking spec, so I didn’t try that for the leveling feel.

I can tell you that both Blood and Unholy are incredibly fun.

With Blood, so much of the Talent tree is built around giving you health back when you do damage, that at the time I played, I was almost never damaged after a fight. Even after hitting Hellfire, I could easily take two or three Orcs in Hellfire, even a wandering orc plus an orc and his wolf, kill them all, and still be nearly full afterwards if I rotated Dots on all of them and payed attention to what I was doing.

With Unholy, you have a lot more downtime from Health issues, but your spells are just more fun. You get lots of neat spells, like corpse explosions and anti-magic party shields and permanent Zombie pets that it just feel like a ton of fun.

Basically, I think of Blood as going Alchemist to get the useful pots, while Unholy is going Engineering to play with all the neat toys.

One is all business, and one has a lighter side. For an evil bastard, that is.

Do I feel they are overpowered?

Well, that’s a hard question to answer.

They are supposed to be an Epic class. And they certainly feel epic.

Are they more powerful, in direct comparison with a similarly geared level 58 DPS toon, when just entering Hellfire?

Yes. Without question.

However, they are undoubtedly still being adjusted for balance. And they are Epic class, after all.

But I have to say, if this is an example of the care and the attention to detail they are putting into an Epic class, then I really, truly hope that the rumors of a possible Arch-Druid epic class for an Emerald Dream expansion someday come true.

Making custom emotes in PetEmote 1.5.2

A while back I mentioned the addon PetEmote, and how delighted I was to finally try it.

Since then, I have had a lot of fun making my own custom emotes, and a lot less fun trying to figure out exactly how to do it.

You see, there have been a lot of changes made since Ammunition Company wrote their guide on customizing it.

For one thing, they have added a built-in custom emote editor (that can be found right in the PetEmote folder you installed in the Interface/Addons folder).

I’ve loaded it, and it seems awesome… but every time I personally try to use it on my Windows XP PC, it crashes.

A second little issue I’ve had to deal with was that the guide/FAQ no their website for building custom emotes in 1.5x describes starting with the partially filled-in form in custom-emotes.lua. My version of the Addon custom-emotes.lua file is blank. 

No big deal, just means I had a teeny bit more of a learning curve that expected to add my own emotes for Moonclaw. The Addon is just awesome, I’m probably the only one that had to spend 15 minutes figuring it out. 

About a week ago now, version 1.5.2 was added to Curse’s website.

Since I had done a half-assed job of making my own emotes, it turns out the file I modified, default-emotes.lua, got wiped out.

Apparently, I should have modified the custom-emotes.lua file instead, addon notes say taht it will import and convert an old custom-emotes.lua file to the newest revision automagically.

Regardless, the new 1.5.2 emote structure in the ‘dot lua’ has changed a lot.

So while I spent a little time rebuilding my custom emotes last night, I thought I’d throw together a little guide to help you do it too, if you have any of the same issues.

The first thing to know is, after you download and install the latest PetEmote addon, there are only two files in the Interface/Addons/PetEmote folder you will need to deal with to add your own custom emotes.

default-emotes.lua and custom-emotes.lua

The default-emotes.lua file holds all of the emotes, arranged in pet order, in both german and english, that PetEmote can load by default.

The custom-emotes.lua file starts out blank. If you add your own emotes to this file, then when PetEmote loads, it will check here, and load any emotes it finds here for the appropriate pet family (or specific pet name) first, before checking the default-emotes.lua file.

To help hunters follow along, I’ll attach my custom-emotes.lua file, so if you would like you could see what I am actually using as my live file as of PetEmote version 1.5.2. custom-emotes.lua

Now, the first thing that Ammunition Company tells you on their custom emote guide on their website, is that you can’t edit the .lua files using a normal text editor like Notepad. They say you need to use a text editor that can handle better text editing with UTF-8 encoding, like Notepad ++.

So of course I downloaded Notepad++ just as they suggested. I like it too, it nests the default-emotes.lua line structures very nicely. It makes it very easy to keep track of nested lines of text.

As I said, when I started, my custom-emotes.lua document was empty by default.

The guide suggested I copy the entire section of the default-emotes.lua that was relevant to my particular animal family, and paste it into the custom-emotes.lua file.

Then, make all your changes to the custom-emotes.lua file, and leave the default alone.

Clearly, the implication is, if you have a pet family section in the custom-emotes.lua file, then it will load that one first, and NOT load the default-emotes.lua version. 

There was a brief mention that you could make the custom-emotes.lua section only apply to a specifically named pet. I am assuming that they mean that if I were to put the name Moonclaw in place of the name of the pet family, “cat”, in the header, that it would only apply when I had Moonclaw out. I have not tried it. I only have the one pet.

I can totally see doing it if you have a few different cats, or a Hyena and a Black Wolf, or some other combination of different individually appearing pets of the same family. You might want one set of emotes to refer to smoothing his “reddish gold fur”, and wouldn’t want that to show up when your black as a shadow wolf was out.

Back to the walkthrough.

I copied the entire cat family section, in English, from default-emotes.lua and pasted it into custom-emotes.lua. I only have the one pet.

I imagine that if you use a ton of different pets, you’d want to copy the entire default file. I expect it would work just fine.

Let me show you what part of my PetEmote custom-emotes.lua file looks like when opened with Notepad++.

petemotesample.jpg

As you can see, Notepad++ shows you what line item you are on, and nests everything well.

Since I almost 100% of the time keep my pet fully fed, my pet is always in the “PetIsHappy” emotional state.

Since all of my custom emotes are dead simple one liners, I chose a single sentence emote from the list, #15 from the default-emotes.lua, and copied it.

I then went to the end of the cat section, and pasted that one section over and over just before that very last bracket that closes the cat family section.

I then renumbered them so they contined the numerical sequence… in version 1.5.2, the cat family emotes ended at #50, and my first custom emote started as #51, as shown above. 

In the image above, the bracket and comma just above number 51,  }, was the last piece of code from number 50.

So a single complete section of emote code looks like this;

petemotesample2.jpg

You can see how each section is nestled within it’s own brackets.

I bet you’re wondering, “What are all those words in quotes on the fourth line?”

Those are how the Addon decides if this emote is stand alone, or if it can be combined with other emotes.

I don’t have any idea how you configure this line to make it work with other emotes.

I know that you are supposed to be able to make a tiny snippet, like “wags his tail”, be available for the Addon to choose at random to add it in after otehr emotes, such as “shakes his head”, with the word “and” automagically added in between, so you have a new custom emote that pops up sometimes saying “Moonclaw shakes his head”, Moonclaw wags his tail”, or “Moonclaw shakes his head and wags his tail”.

I have no idea how to configure it to do that. 

What I do know is, the more words you put in quotes on that line for your custom emote, the less likely the addon will try and add more stuff you didn’t plan into the mix.

And when I made my custom emotes, I didn’t want any extras. No frills. Just the joke, thank you very much.

So I put every single word of my emote in quotes on that line, to try and keep the emote the way I want it, and not have it say, “Moonclaw wags his tail and is hungry for Hot Wings. Has anyone seen a Moonkin?”

In the old version, without that line of words in quotes, it used to do that, and it annoyed me.

After you save your custom-emotes.lua file, you are pretty much done.

There is one other, optional part to this process.

When you have the addon, what you see when your pet does something, looks like this to you; “Moonclaw is hungry for Hot Wings. Has anyone seen a Moonkin?”

If someone around you does not have the addon (like, oh… 99.9% of the other players), what they see is different.

They see “Windstar’s cat Moonclaw is hungry for Hot Wings. Has anyone seen a Moonkin?”

You can’t change your name being displayed, and you can’t change your pet’s name being displayed, but you can change what it calls the pets family.

If you were to enter /pet family kitty, directly into chat in the game, then in the above example, what people would see would be “Windstar’s kitty Moonclaw is hungry for Hot Wings. Has anyone seen a Moonkin?”

The addon knows what pet family you have at the moment, and when you enter in /pet family xxx, you are telling it you want the displayed name for that pet family changed to xxx.

And that change to the pet family displayed name would be saved. All future cats you have will be called ‘kitty’ as the family.

You can change that to whatever you like. “puppy” for a Wolf pet, for example.

Onec you are done making your shiny new emotes, just save the custom-emotes.lua file, load up the game, and start testing them out by typing /pet random in the chat window.

It forces your PetEmote addon to generate responses rapidly, so you can do it over and over until you see some of your new custom ones.

That’s it. Finished. If you want to do the fancy branching intelligent emotes, this is not the place to learn how.

But I really hope this helps you to take the plunge and add your own emotes…

I have to tell you, the /squeal that Shrinnpoof made the first time Moonclaw said, in passing, in Karazhan “Moonclaw enjoys eating Gnome. Gnome… it’s whats for dinner.” was hilarious.

And of course, it never gets old to be standing near Nasirah in Moonkin form when Moonclaw is hungry for Hot Wings. Hehe.

Well, it never gets old for ME.

Omigod! EPIC WIN!!!!

Before this day, my favorite webcomics could be placed in order VERY simply.

  1. Girl Genius
  2. Looking For Group
  3. Order of the Stick

Very simple. Very precise. Coincidentally enough, I have every collected edition they have each released to date as well.

God I love those Girl Genius collected editions.

Yes, there are others I enjoy… I have the Schlock Mercenary books (and a shirt), I have almost every Sluggy Freelance book there is, until I stopped reading about a year ago (I still love my Bloody Bun dice bag from the Slugween, and yes I know he is parodying WoW lately… I still think he just lost his sense of humor somewhere in the course of the plotlines, breaks my heart… I miss suicide bikini frisbee), and I’ve got a ton of PvP Online comics and every book by Penny Arcade,  that kind of thing.

But the big three never change.

Girl Genius. Looking For Group. Order of the Stick.

They never change.

Until today.

Today, for a limited time at least, Order of the Stick takes pole position with the most godlike awesomeness EPIC WIN I have ever seen.

I could just link you to the comic that is EPIC WIN, but that would do you a disservice. If you haven’t been following things in the comic, you would get the punchline without having read any of the lead in to the joke.

So if you don’t read Order of the Stick, why not start here at Episode 589… and then read it until you reach Episode 595 HERE.

It’s not a perfect solution… the entire plotline has just been convoluted and entertaining as heck… but assuming you just want to jump in and spend no more than 5 minutes to find out what I’m talking about, this’ll do.

Omigod.

Lusting over Engineering in Wrath

People keep asking me if it’s going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath.

I keep wondering why they’re asking me, but that’s okay.

I guess the answer to that is, “What class are you, and why are you an Engineer now?”

I have always felt that Engineering was mostly a Hunter profession. You get to make ammo and bang-bangs. Kind of self-explanatory, ain’t it?

But there are plenty of folks that love the explosives and neat gadgets, myself among them.

And I have to admit that I leveled it on my Feral Druid for one primary reason; Epic Goggles. (The Mote Extractor was a super lucky bonus).

So I guess the question could be, is it any good for Hunters, and will it be worth having for non-Hunters too?

I’m gonna leave the whole question of whether you like guns or not as a Hunter out of the equation. I love the guns the most, and if you don’t, I can’t really quantify the experience for ya.

So, Non-Hunters… I bet you’re wondering, will there be new Epics you can use?

Yes, yes there are. There are new Epic Goggles for the expansion, for each class.

An example? Okay.

For Rogues and Feral Druids, let’s take a look at the Weakness Spectralyzers.

weakness-spectralyzers.jpg

Equips at 72, and requires Engineering of 400 to use.

It takes a Frozen Orb to craft, which seem to be the Wrath version of a Primal Nether. As of now, they drop in Heroics, or can be purchased for 10 Emblems (which are  the first level of Badge lookalikes… You get the idea.)

Right now a TON of stuff is BoE. Remember, Blizzard wants stuff accessible for testing. Expect a lot of this to be BoP in live. PLEASE keep that in mind.

But you get the idea. An Expansion version of the Epic Goggles for each class, along the same concept as we are already used to.

So, what else?

Well, I’d like to point out to my Hunter friends one of our very first recipes… the Mark “S” Boomstick.

marksboomstick.jpg

Let’s compare that to the Crossbow of Relentless Strikes, which can be bought for 150 Badges.

crossbow.jpg

Think about that. In Wrath, an Engineer will be able to equip, at level 73 I’ll grant you, a weapon nearly identical to one that costs 150 Badges now. Pretty nifty.

Okay, you want more non-Hunter specific stuffs?

How about the Sonic Booster?

sonicbooster.jpg

Oh what the heck, let’s kick it up a notch with the Hyperspeed Accelerators.

hyperspeed.jpg

Ahhh, but are we going to have another freaking tanking gun at 80?

Well…. yes.

But we ALSO get one of these!

The Long Range Cranium Drill!

craniumdrill.jpg

Okay, can I cry with happiness? I may not be raiding past Naxx, but I’ll get to have an Epic Bang-Bang!

Yes, there are new ammo machines, and new repair bots. There is even a new Teleporter called a Wormhole generator that take you and your whole party to Gadgetzan, much like the current Direbrew Remote we are seeing drop from Coren Direbrew.

There are new Mana and Healing Injectors, there are Scopes, and of course there is the new Motorcycles.

But there is just one item I think caps the whole dang thing.

Engineers, I present to you…

The Gnomish Army Knife.

armyknife.jpg 

That sucker alone is going to replace 5 items I always carry in my bags right now.

Is it going to be worth being an Engineer in Wrath?

Oh, HELLS YES!

(I can’t believe I said that.)

Expertise and the Swing Timer

thrash.jpg 

As feral Tanks, we are designed around the concept of being immune to Critical Strikes, and being able to survive Crushing Blows. (See todays WoW Insider: Shifting Perspectives for more details).

But there is one aspect to “eating Crushing Blows” that can be forgotten, when you are a Druid Tank.

We tend to have very little Hit Rating or Expertise unless we seek it out, because the spotlight is always on Avoidance, Mitigation, and Health.

We seek out Defense Rating and Resilience, Stamina and Agility, and the highest Armor we can find first.

But Hit Rating and Expertise are extremely important. You must never forget them.

Expertise especially.

Why?

Parries.

You already know, if you are behind your opponent, they cannot parry your attack. They can Dodge, and you can Miss, but they cannot Block or Parry.

If you are directly in front of the Mob, he can Parry and Block as much as he’d like.

And if he is a raid boss, he is 3 levels higher than you, with an increased chance to Parry, Dodge and Block.

And there you are, with little to no Hit Rating or Expertise.

He Dodges your attack, it’s okay. It hurts your threat generation some, but you’ll live. He Blocks your attack, it’s okay. Same thing. Hit Rating helps make more of your attacks a success, so the reliability of your Threat generation improves.

But if he Parries… 

If he Parries your attack, congratulations; he just reset his swing timer. Reset is a bit of a misnomer; it’s not set to zero, it’s actually reduced in duration by 40% of his base weapon speed. 

But that reduction is 40% each parry.

Fortunately, it can’t get below 20% of the swing timer per swing, so you can’t get hit with three or four instant cast attacks… in normal circumstances.

But you aren’t just dealing with swing timer resets from your attacks. Parry is passive; it’s always on, and works against ALL attacks coming in from the front.

Too bad that the only person he is actually swinging his weapon at is YOU.

Remember why we tell melee DPS to stand behind the target? It’s because the Mob can’t Parry attacks from behind.

So if that Rogue is standing right next to you, all up in the Mob’s grill, and he gets Parried, make sure to thank him for the next sped up blow you eat.

Every time you or anyone in front if the Mob attacks and is Parried, you are reducing how long it’ll take for his next blow to come crashing in, based on his weapon speed.

And if his weapon speed changes, say due to Haste effects, then here comes da pain.

Prince Malchezaar is a perfect example of this.

In Phase Two during the Prince battle, when Prince is reduced to 60% Health, he begins Parrying, and he adds a new attack called Thrash, where he attacks very frequently in a short span of time. Thrash is bad enough, but when you add the increased chance to be Parried, resetting the swing timer on a hyper fast attack by 40%, it can be brutal.

It’s tough enough to get through Phase Two for most starting tanks, but for a tank that is also susceptible to Crushing Blows… well, get Parried a bunch, take three or four fat shots in a millisecond, and make one or two of them a Crushing Blow, and the start of Phase Two can sound a lot like this…

“Okay, Phase Two everybody, overheals on the….”

“Whoops. He’s dead, Jim.”

“Okay… now, for our next attempt…”

Well, what can you do about it?

Amusingly enough, the first thing you can do is be prepared to slam as much Threat generation down Prince’s throat as possible in Phase One… and in Phase Two, coast. Auto-Attack only. You might even want to stop attacking entirely, depending on where your threat level is in comparison to the rest of the raid.

Remember, as long as your threat is well above everybody else, they won’t pull from you. So if you can, stop attacking, and that will eliminate Parries entirely.

You don’t like that idea?

Heck, I don’t blame you.

The next thing you can do, is try to reduce your chance to be Parried.

In a previous article, I talked about Hit Rating and Expertise for Feral Druids.

Expertise reduces the chance one of your attacks can be Dodged or Parried by 0.25%. It takes 3.9 points of Expertise Rating to equal one full point of Expertise. (Sigh).

Now, Feral Druid gear is pretty light on Expertise, I’ll grant you that. But, there is one nice item that is really very, very nice. It is almost a must-have for the well equipped main Druid tank.

The Shattered Sun Pendant of Resolve is incredible.

Not only does it come with +48 Stamina, 13 Hit Rating and 18 Expertise, but if you are Exalted with Scryer, it has one more ability; once every 45 seconds, for a duration of ten seconds, it increases your Expertise Rating by +100.

It’s way too late in the game to worry about what faction to take now, but if you happen to be Scryer anyway, this is just awesome.

For the Aldor, the effect is +100 Dodge Rating, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also very nice.

But when it comes to increased Threat generation, and reduced frequency of Parries, the Scryer effect is just awesome.