Monday, August 27, 2012

From The Future

The blog-aggregator stie, MMO Melting Pot, had a request for blog posts up a couple of weeks ago, asking for what enties about what future MMOs might be like. I've written for them before, but this was far too interesting a topic for me to pass up, so I wrote something for them.

It went up today - check it out, if you like. It's a bit strange but it's a very interesting topic for me.

August 21, 2020

If you want to get an idea of where games might actually wind up, you should really read a novel called The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi. It's very dense reading, as the author offers little exposition and wants you to figure out the far-far future tech, but it's well worth the time if you're interested in game futures.

You should also give a pen and paper RPG named Free Market a try, by Luke Crane (of Burning Wheel fame) and Jared Sorensen. That game sort of *is* a future MMO in the form of a table-top game.

The article borrows a tiny bit from both those sources, but is more grounded in what I think is both feasible and what I'd like to see from games in the very near future.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rusty Shield

The last time I did any serious tanking was the Heroic Spine kill, which was about a month ago.

Since then, I've primarily been playing Retribution, so much so that I've grown quite used to the speed of it. The procs of Divine Purpose and the Art of War, the quick movement thanks to Long Reach, and the near constant stream of buttons to hit has really spoiled me and lacking the need for any gear at this point really, I found myself not even bothering with the occasional LFR or LFG tanking bout.

Last night, a few folks in the guild wanted to go in and kill Heroic Madness, and I went in, as I wanted a shot at the mount, at Heroic Gurthalak, and damnit, I wanted to do something fun and challenging in the midst of this malaise. Plus, quick guild rep. And you know, I wanted to see what raiding with this group of people was going to be like, even if it was just in 10s.

The group decided to go with a 2/2/6 makeup to keep things easy and I volunteered to off-tank. I hadn't tanked this fight even on normal in a very long time, and even then I was solo-tanking on every kill, so I was actually kind of new to the fight in this role, but still. Man, was I sloppy. Somehow, I managed to get myself killed twice, and the other tank once.

Death the first: Pulled aggro, took an unintended impale with no CDs and immediately began to cosplay as one of Vlad's victims.
Death the second: Didn't ask for external cooldowns on the 2nd impale of the 4th platform and exploded into a fine red mist. Bastards hits hard.
Murder the first: Bubbled through the shard landing on the 4th platform causing the other tank to eat a hit from the Corruption because I was slow with the bubble/taunt/dispel, like a dick. Like! A! Dick!

I think he died on the 4th go when I didn't make any stupid mistakes but that meant I had to be very careful with what I was doing, and that, on top of how Protection seems to crawl when compared to Retribution, with dry periods and few procs to respond to and just the lack of movement buffs, the whole thing left me feeling like I was moving in slow-motion at times.

Protection will remain my off-spec in Mists, but the addition of more Holy Power generators and movement buffs in 5.0 will do much to improve the play-style of the spec. Not to mention it reduced my damage to a pathetic little, wet, limp noodle number.

Anyway. Despite all my excuses, it was an embarrassing muck-up and I was ashamed of my performance. The failboat had landed. But as things are wont to work out, in spite of my boorish behavior, I had a blast.

The group was well coordinated, it didn't feel like some of us were raiding together for the first time. There was open communication, people pitched in, and it was a fairly democratic run. Admittedly, it was a 10-person casual night, and I imagine 25s are more rigorously controlled, but I liked the people I was raiding with, and the environment I was raiding in. I hope they let me stick around.

If you're curious, this was kill number 20 on this character alone without ever seeing Souldrinker, on either difficulty. Not that I even really want it anymore, other than as some sick proof that it exists and there isn't some code in the background causing the sword to actively avoid me! Did I make you Blizzard? I'm sorry, I'm a lover, not a hater!

Afterward, I putzed about in Stormwind for a bit, considered doing a quick MC or Kara run, but then I just logged out, actually feeling kind-of good and hopeful about my future in Warcraft.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

September, September

For the first time in many years, I've moved to and played consistently on a new server with my Paladin, Innana. A server where I don't know anyone, in a new guild. It's a bit of an isolating and lonely experience, but I fully appreciate that this is the lull before the storm. Things will pick up very quickly in a couple of weeks, and then I won't even have the time to breathe, but right now, it feel lethargic. I almost wish I could just log out and not log back in till the 28th of August, but I'm a completionist and there is much work to be done to prepare for Mists.

I only moved Innana over as I didn't want to spend a lot of money, and thus, I've had to level a Druid to farm ore and herbs, and I've also parked a Death Knight in Stormwind to make Flasks and Belt Buckles for me. They still need quite a bit of love and care, and my druid is still wandering in Hellfire Peninsula. Here's hoping I can get both of them to 85 before the 25th of September.

Not to mention churning out 4.8k guild rep every week with fistfuls of Dailies. At least it's worth some gold. Every time I think I'm done for good with Baradin Hold and Molten Front, there's something else to suck me back in.

But it's all busy work. Nothing truly engaging. I miss my friends, and Battle.Net is a great resource, but it can't compensate for what playing on Moon Guard is like. That's the other thing, the new server is so quiet compared to Moon Guard. I flew through Elwyn to get to Darkmoon Faire, and I paused, because General chat wasn't a continuously flowing river of hideous, horrific and hillariously bizarre comments. In fact, Goldshire was practically deserted save for the occasional human in the single-digits hurrying about with quests.

Even during peak hours, I can find standing room in the Auction House and the Trade District and Dwarf District aren't crowded with giant epic mounts. Last night, the old guild went in to finish another Legendary staff and I went along on my Warlock to help. At the end of the night, nearing midnight server, when the staff was finished in Stormwind, the sky was black with wings. Easily at least a hundred people crowding around the dragon, even this late in the expansion.

I'm not complaining, necessarily, it's nice to have such quiet, even though the Auction House is - let's call it strange to be polite. Finishing quests is easy without having to compete for kills or resources, and farming and such seem to be significantly easier, at least in the lower levels so far. I think in all my time so far I've only come across one other competing farmer. And maybe I'll even admit that it's gratifying not to see a dozen Twilight Vanquishers floating above Auction Houses, and any number of Saviors and Firelords and Dragonslayers every time I swung around (back, vanity, back, return to the black pit from whence you rose!)

So for now, I level my alts, switch over to help the other guild when they need an extra body, and wait for September. Well, August 28th, now, which is 12 days away.

I would love to accomplish a few things before that happens.

- Heroic Nefarian, Al'Akir and Ascendant Council
- Heroic Sinestra
- Heroic Ragnaros

Anyone want to join me to work on anything on the list while we wait? Or does anyone need a Prot/Retadin to do any of the above? :-)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider

All done with Cataclysm. I still need maybe 8 or 9 raid achievemts of the 60+ that came out with Cataclysm, but all of Dragon Soul is done at least. That should count for something.

I made a similar post nearly 2 years ago, and looking at it now, my circumstances are very different, and I can chuckle at the naieve enthusiasm I had back then.

Things are so different they're unrecognizable. My son is nearly two, and not a newborn. We're about to sell our aparmtent and move into a proper house. My future in the game was certain and now it's in flux. My job is the same, but it's also different. Graduate school might be on the horizon, and maybe even a completely different side-business when back then, being a brand-new father was an all-consuming thought.

Things change. For the better, overall.

This also marks the end of my raiding with Infinite Turtle Theory on my main character. We sat around after raid tonight, in a circle of dragons, talking about our favorite fights till one by one people logged off. Tomorrow, I'll transfer to a new server and become a cog in the great 25-person machine of a new guild. I don't mean for that to sound ominous, I'm genuinely looking forward to it with a good deal of excitment and nervousness.

It's kind of a heart-breaking end to the expansion. Malencholy and excitment blending to become something more than either. I'll stop waxing (bad) poetry now.

Here's to writing another end-of-expansion post in a couple of years as we say farewell to another act in the Warcraft story.

Bonne nuit, Cataclysm!

Better Enchanting

I've been an enchanter on Innana for a very long time, and while I do enjoy the profession, the lack of support during Cataclysm made it a very frustrating experience.

Wrath wasn't too bad once Abyssal Shatter was added to the game, in patch 4.2 I think. But throughout Cataclysm, Greater Celestial Essences were the bane of my existence. They were necessary for so many enchants and yet there were quite difficult to generate, and there was no easy way to farm them. Even using the ore shuffle, the only way to reliably farm them was expensive, by sacrificing Carnelians which would be better served as Rubies through Transmutes.

Dream Dust was very easy to come by, and once we had an excess of Maelstrom Crystals, even Heavenly Shards weren't too bad thanks to Maelstrom Shatter. Greater Celestial Essences remained the production choke point for the entire length of the expansion.

Thankfully, Blizzard seems to be moving into the right direction with Enchanting for Mists of Pandaria. It seems like you will be able to move up and down the component ladder fairly easily. First off, here are the new items:
In addition, we have the following spells:

So to get one Sha Crystal, we have to do the following:

1 Sha Crystal = 5 Ethereal Shards
5 Ethereal Shards = 25 Mysterious Essence
25 Mysterious Essence = 125 Spirit Dust

The ladder is fairly expensive, but at least it's an option should we get desperate and have an excess of Dust (which we probably will) to move up. Moving down will cost us a lot of materials, but as excess builds up from grinding dungeons, we won't just be sitting on a ton of mats that are flooding the AH with no recourse. At least in the first few weeks and months, making Sha Crystals this way may be quite profitable I think, especially if the market floods with Dust or Shards. If Shard prices stay high, it might even be worth producing them for others to transmute into Crystals.

It's a lot better than the complete lack of options that we had in Cataclysm. This gives us some latitude in terms of how we produce mats for enchants and doesn't put any choke-points in the production line. Let's hope it stays this way from here on out.

Friday, August 3, 2012


The summer in Warcraft has really dragged for me and part of it is because I've known for some time about a change brewing in my head that I didn't want to acknowledge. It churned, and churned, and finally it spilled over during raid about three weeks ago, when I realized, I just didn't want to raid the way we were raiding anymore. The way my guild wants to raid and the way I want to raid have drifted apart till there was a rift between us and it was making me angry and frustrated, trying to get them to jump onto my side of the gap.

Until, during a random comment in raid pointed in my direction - with no ill-intent or anything - made me realize just what the problem was. It was me. When the majority of the raid has moved on to one side of a divide, the person on the other side should shut up and follow suite. Or leave so as to stop being a problem.

And that's what I did. Well, not yet, but I began the process of trying to find a guild that would fit my needs.

It would need to be mostly composed of adults, it would need to be a mature place to play with long-term stability, it would need to be progression oriented, relatively competitive in terms of ranking, and it would need to be no more than 2 nights a week of progression. Beyond that, it didn't matter. Server, faction, 10s, 25s, I didn't care. I was willing to play any spec on my paladin or even my Warlock or Death Knight if necessary. I spoke to several guild masters after seeing their posts on various recruitment forums and finally got an invite to a guild for MoP. Alliance side, but on another server and as Retribution instead of Protection. They've finished raiding for Cataclysm and are waiting for 5.0 to start up again, which left me a bit of time to set my affairs in order.

I broke the news to my guild leader and raid leader but they took it well, even going so far as to encourage me to keep alts in the guild, which I'm grateful for. I still haven't actually moved over yet, as we're finishing up a lot of the left-over raid achievements (in fact, we only have about 11 left out of the 60-odd raid achievements in Cataclysm) but this coming week will be my last raid on Innana with the Turtles as a Turtle, when we'll finish our last achievement to get Glory of the Dragon Soul Raider.

There are some things I'm nervous about naturally, I have been with the Turtles for over two years, I signed the original charter, I've been writing about the Turtles since I started this blog, more or less, and that's a long time. I don't want to just cut ties and run, I think I have a fair amount of loyalty and dedication to a guild, and I like to stick with them once I find my feet. And with the Turtles, we've known each other so long, it's almost like talking in short-hand with amount of in-jokes and such that we have from a long shared history of raiding.

It's a big risk for me both socially and raid-career wise to take this leap. But it's exciting, and it has added a good deal of energy back into the game for me. I recently got my hands on a Level 4 guild for rather cheap, so I'll be moving to the new server with all my gold rather than the silly 50k cap on transfers.

On September 25th, I'll wake up from an early nap, log in as the servers come up, begin the journey to 90 and as soon as I hit cap, I'll be preparing to to raid on October the 2nd. in the mean time, I have nothing but the best wishes for the Turtles and I hope to see them on top of the server rankings in MoP - if that's what they want.