Monday, August 31, 2009

Mandatory DING post

DING 80!

There. Now that has been done -against my expectations!- the next step is confusing me.

You see, the current situation with Laiskajaakko, Protection Warrior, lv80 is such that the stats do not support heroics in any way: defence 465, armor 18k and hit points 18k. Now the uncrittable defence is 540, so there is a long way to that (ok, maybe not that long, maybe just change the greens to blues... even), and the 'required' or 'expected' hp to begin with is around 22k (which is not too far either, but still seems unattainable).

Lacking in these is a hindrance for my advancement in the end game content, mainly due to the fact that the server is downright top heavy. Well, which server wouldn't be these days, as the levelling is so fast and easy. But the server I'm playing in is very, very top heavy from the player experience, too: being one of the first generation servers, the 'oldest' playerbase comes from the time of launch. Some even preceding that. So the 'normal' content is pretty much skipped and the levelled alts are miraculously ushered through friendly grouping.

This is my paranoid view of the situation.

So what is my plan? To run as much reputation on Wyrmrest, Kirin Tor and others to gain at least reasonably presentable gear, while questing the world away and looking for group to normal instances. In short, gear up to the minimum for tanking: uncrittable and reasonable +stam.

Another thing which caught my eye the other day was a blogpost (which I forgot to bookmark again... or then the idea hit after skipping the post...): people are rather levelling the dps classes instead of the tanking classes because the dps isn't responsible for anything in a group. The tank is responsible of keeping the mobs hitting him like there was no tomorrow, and the healer is responsible for keeping everyone alive - starting from the tank, naturally. But the dps' are free as the birds from these refrains: they just try to deliver as much damage to the mob as possible, complaining about the tank not being able to keep the aggro and healer for not healing them properly. All the while they are not the ones calling the shots nor taking the responsibility of the group advancement.

And now, for the first time I've noticed the lack of tank classes in the game: at the cap. LFM tank and healer seems to be the call in the trade channel. Had I missed them earlier or did they just increase I capped?

Now I will never know...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Doing what they are best in doing

WoW's next expansion  has been written about here and there (and their cousins), but I still decided to put my spoon into the mix. Cuppy wrote about how Blizzard finally is breaking the mold of taking parts from other games and polishing them in their own mix. In her words:
Finally, we can see Blizzard use their gigantic budget for something experimental, new, and exciting – an old world revamp.  It’s ballsy, it’s gutsy, and I cannot freaking wait to see what happens to the Azeroth that I love.
In a sense that's true, but then again isn't that exactly what Blizzard is best in doing? Taking parts and ideas from other games and making something polished in their own? How come SOE's disastrous attempt on doing the exact same in EQ2 comes to my mind in such a vivid imagery?

Because the idea is the same: the same world but after cataclysmic changes. Where SOE made a sequel to their former best seller (EQ), Blizzard is doing exactly the same by bringing the sequel of their best seller into the game itself! If you ask me, I think Cataclysm is the secret MMO project as it changes the ruleset and updates the game to the current standards. Well, more or less.

It's like in old Pen and Paper RPG's, when Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was upgraded from ruleset 3.5 to the current d20 set: the game stayed the same, the rules just got upgraded. It is a sequel, yes, but within the same world and generic ruleset.

The rest of the expansion is full of copy-polish-paste. Guild experience comes from EQ2, which has the best guild system currently in use (ok, the only I have tested so far). Worgen satisfy the need to play 'dark and sinister' race on the Alliance side: somehow I see this as a counter (or reactive) solution to the possible World of Darkness MMO by CCP. Also the kind of Victorian era is a bit missing from the MMO scene, if you think of it, so there must be some need to expand that way, too.

There has been discussion in this blog also from the beginning how the Old World is void and empty, and even some bloggers have suggested earlier that the Old World could be wiped. Well, Blizzard listened to that and does it.

But can someone explain to me why Northrend isn't affected by the rise of Deathwing? After all, it's shores are at least as near to the upheaval as Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor...

Do we see a recurring cycle of expansions?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who would have thought...

...that Tobold and Gevlon could be the same person? At least according to the revelation Tobold made this morning...

I'm still waiting for the final post on Greedy Goblin to believe. Still, this only reminds on how easy it is to fool people in the net, how easy it is to get face value in the 'public' eye and how easy it is to build a successfull blog by just being controversial. You don't even have to resort to the fool proof 8 step guide Syncaine put up... though that is easier and more repeatable.

Now what I'd like to know how much bull Tobold has told us as Gevlon if this was true? Is the money there, are the money making things real, are the apprentices really existing and whether he really is the sociopath in real life rather than the mild tempered 40+ scientist he claims? I know for sure Gevlon has left some bad blood around the 'net with his (IMO misintepreted) postings about certain blogposts of other bloggers, so I'm kind of waiting for some sort of apologetic verse in the final post.

Then again, I would like to see the sociopathic rantings on his blog from time to time: the controversial issues Gevlon postes usually hit right on the spot, even though the presentation usually is not quite the best possible. Also the more aggressive and straightforward way of presenting the contradictory thoughts is quite refreshing from time to time, and -if nothing else- causes people to think about the issue at hand. That is proven by the multitude of blogpost responses around the blogosphere (at least in the 60+ blogs I have on my reader...)

So be carefull on what you take as fact and on it's face value. Always take things with a little bit of caution.

That helps to filter the crap and not make it personal. After all, it's all a big show. This thing called Blogosphere.

EDIT: Like I said, I will not believe it until I see that post on Greedy Goblin. Gevlon's latest post has just gotten a new PS., stating that:
PS4: Tobold is being very funny today. My comment on the topic is this, and no more, all comments on my blog about Tobold's joke/experiment will be deleted.
So the plot thickens and we'll see what comes out of this. If this is just a prank from Tobold's side, his credibility is completely lost. If not, he has some work to do to gain his 'reputable' reputation back.

EDIT #2: Tobold came out of the closet and admitted that he is him and Gevlon is Gevlon. This being said I'm afraid that what I said about credibility will hold true for most of his former devoted readers. His mailbox will most probably be flooded with comments which he has to delete due to flamewar content.

Too bad, it would have been a great hoax as such. But then again, Tobold got the same message out with this one as he would have gotten with the twin-identity: use your own discredition and thinking when you are reading and evaluating the writings/posts/texts in the internet.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best experience so far

Tobold wrote an excellent series on Why do we play?, and I actually had an idea about writing my own experiences on playing MMO's and some thoughts about the reasons why I play. Somehow this got pushed back until I saw Azariel's comment on my earlier post, and I knew I had to write this piece.

I play the game with very open mind and open eyes, slightly tending to play on the role-playing side more than min-maxing: the latter comes from learning to cope with the mobs I encounter more than from reading guides and commentary. Naturally the requirements of the game are nowadays such that you have to know your stats and the gear to make the most of it. That is due to change, thankfully, at Cataclysm, but that's still at least 1.5 years in the future.

I also seek to group whenever I play. This leads to the solo-feasts like last weekend when I levelled from lv76 to lv78 with Laiskajaakko, without getting a single group invite during the 7-8 hours online. The only real grouping so far is when the Three Stooges (me and my brothers) come online simultaneously and tackle some lower level content as a trio.

The best experience as such has been the recent run in Auchindoun. Not because it was increasing in difficulty for the three of us, nor because the beginning (Mana Tombs) was completely a pushover, but because we had to learn the bosses in the Shadow Labyrinth. We wiped time and again to come up with a working solution to certain bosses and at the end of the day we all thought that this was the way we enjoy the game the most.

Having a challenge from the game, which we can overcome with persistence and thinking. The challenge in the Shadow Labyrinth was just about in line with our measly troupe (Tank lv76, Priest lv76 and Rogue lv72): it wasn't too hard to cope with (we lack DPS) and it didn't feel impossible at any time.

And the bosses finally start showing some aspects in their combat performance you really have to pay attention to.

This being said, I'm looking forward to the rest of the Outlands instances we're about to engage as the Three Stooges. Even more than the end game instances Laiskajaakko is about to engage soon.


Because with Three Stooges we can learn the encounters, communicate effectively and co-operate with each other constantly. Something a PUG or farm raid will be severely lacking, I know.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A sad, almost degrading, visit

Last night I had the pleasure to accompany some of our guilds finest in a 'raid' like event. As it happens, Lady Onyxia is being revamped soon, so the guild decided to pay some last respects to the original wipefest.

It was a very sad occasion. Hilariously sad, almost degrading experience, I would have to say.

Because there were only 15 of us, lowest being my warrior (lv78) and the rest capped, Ulduar working veterans.

Onyxia was down before I even understood what was happening. People had to activate the whole swarms of the Whelps to get some action going, though all the AOE in the group was just overwhelmingly over powered against anything in there.

In a way, I can see why the content needs revamping. The veterans -players who have been around since first beta or launch- still remember these encounters with fondness, but to see them in this state, forgotten and weakened by added levels, just makes the memories taste stale.

The content should be experienced around the level range it was meant to be, or the group size should be controlled to make the challenge a real one (like our Auchindoun rampage). This way it would be in the correct scope for the experience and everyone could see/feel/smell the event firsthand.

Because of this, I don't want to pursue higher level visits to other Old World end game instances. Of course I will accompany in such a trip if the opportunity rises, but I'm not deliberately seeking for such.

The saddest part for me is the fact that I have lost the opportunity to experience these instances due to the fact I started the game so late. In fact, I've lost the opportunity to experience the Burning Crusade's end game, too, and with this speed I'm levelling and advancing, I will be too poorly geared and experienced to get into the current end game, too. I don't want to be a leech in a group, I want to contribute: without experience the latter is neigh impossible.

This may be one reason why I'm looking forward to the Cataclysm. Then the table is turned and everyone starts from the same spot.

Everything will be new to everyone.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Yeah, it's the end of the world

It's the end of the world, as we know it. I mean World of Warcraft:Cataclysm, of course.

Sometime back, when Tigole was moved to the Secret Project in Blizzard, I commented (or wrote) that this Secret Project would be WoW2, in which the whole Azeroth would be wiped out and everything was made from the bottom up again. When the name Cataclysm came up, I was even more convinced that this would happen, though it wouldn't be called WoW2, but WoW: Cataclysm.

And now it's true. You can read about it everywhere in the MMO blogosphere.

I'm not going to delve into that. Instead let's look at the implications on us, players.

First thing that got my nerve ticking was a comment in the guild chat the other night. "I'm not visiting the vanilla areas anymore, so there is no emotional connection to the content anymore." That was what opened my eyes to another level of playing WoW (or any other MMO for prolonged times, for the matter.)

There is a huge player base who has played through the original, vanilla content when it was new and shiny, grinded the original end game content and then moved on when the Burning Crusade came out. Old World is considered to be just waste of time and something to be passed as fast as possible.

Of course I've known this to be so, but I hadn't paid any thought on it. Only because I'm in a completely different category: I see the Old World -still- as the source of the lore and a vast open world worth exploring. I can also see the newcomers frustration on the fact that the world is void and empty of players to group with, to chat with and to experience with. Heck, I'm frustrated over the fact that I never got to experience 'classic' end game instances like Onyxia's Lair, Blackwing Lair, Molten Core or Blackrock Spire! It really makes me angry that I've been cheated from these instances as well as the Burning Crusade's end game!

But what will this mean to a casual, lore/story driven player like me?

First of all, it will make my levelling to the new cap a real challenge, because I want to see the 'new' face of the Old World and experience the new storylines leading to old Outlands. Like in they stated, the new Worgen start area will be flooded with people from the beginning, it will be my safe bet to start from something that's already been there... but let's not get ahead of our heads!

The stories and lore has to be revised in the 'Old World' to pass the Cataclysmic changes posed. This means that while the development team has not updated the old content, they have been working on the new one. Revamping the whole content instead of upgrading the content gradually. This is the chance of the marketing team to sell the game anew to the new customer base, creating new customers out of the blue. "Join now and experience the game like everyone else is experiencing!"

Later on, the change in the lore has to have it's effect on the Outlands, too. And eventually to Northrend, thus beginning a new cycle in WoW's life. If the original cycle took 5 years, the next may well take another 5... and buy Blizzard more time to complete their Secret Project MMO out of the blue to 'replace' WoW (and it's then defunct engine?).

Though I thing that this has been the Secret Project when I look at the scope of the raiding content: it's something that would surely benefitted from Tigole's input, right?

Anyhow, I'm both sad and thrilled about this. Soon there will be even more reason to put up a private server with 'Original Vanilla WoW ruleset, only up to lv60!".

For the Vanilla content will be no more. Except in our dreams and in our reminiscence.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I got a prize!

Tami from Egotistical Priest held a competition a while back and as it happens my Twitter-shortie got a honorary mention... and I got this as a prize!

Now isn't that cute!

I'm going to spend some time on my daughter's draving board to finish it for myself and make it 'alive' for sure...

Thanks Tami and hope to see the more of similar competitions soon!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grouping pains

Now I have proven to myself that it's way much easier to get invited into a group as a healer than as a tank. I levelled my priest Pupunen to lv60 only to get the new riding skill and accompanying flying mount to her, and even before that the invites to come and heal in the Hellfire Ramparts or Blood Furnace had started to come in. In fact, the moment I rode her through the Dark Portal at lv58 marked the beginning of the invites. If only I had the time to participate the runs, I would gladly do so. But currently, as she is my tailor-crafter for my trading company, I'm not really playing her at all. Only levelling when the whim strikes me.

On the other hand, with my tank toon, Laiskajaakko, I have to do some real and dirty work to get into a group. Granted, he's currently at level 76, about half a ding short of cold weather flying, but still. I can go asking, begging, even paying for a group, but there always seems to be tank or two available in a group.

Or the group is looking for a speed run through the instance. Ok, a boost from a higher toon of someone's capped raiding toon.

Which just sucks.

Like I have posted several times earlier, a new and upcoming tanking class player is in a difficult spot to earn her/his spurs in the group instancing due to the fact that a) a tank is a crucial part of the group, b) the Northrend levels have more players who have capped toons (and usually know how to play) and c) the tank is supposed to take active leader role in the instance. Or at least be able to pull the group through the instance at steady pace (according to the people who have gotten used to plough through the instance at lightning speed).

I feel tempted from time to time just to jump the bandwagon and take up my lovely priest: as Discipline she is quite well versed in both damage dealing and healing, and as it happens, her first Hellfire Citadel run provided her with only healer boss loot (save one mace), so she's pretty adequately geared for the level, too. Whereas my tank is well geared with the Kaluak reputation chest and some very nice quest loot giving him some 15k armor and 15k unbuffed HP, which naturally should be higher. But what the heck, he's still levelling and the last Nexus run showed that I can now hit TPS in the range of 2.2k-2.8k and keep three paladins at bay with that.

But still, I'd rather group than solo. Even through Wrathgate.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Yet another run for the Stooges

When a scheduled encounter with Onyxia fails, you can always count on the Three Stooges. That was the thought Laiskajaakko had when he was ploughing through the swampy, rotten smelling area known as the Swamp of Sorrows. He had been looking for the entrance to the much famed Broodmother's hideout, only to remember that he was completely in the wrong place: he should have been in the Duskwallow Marsh, as everyone knows, but no, his mind had failed him yet again. Thankfully no-one of the guild had paged for him and it was obvious that the scheduled run had dried up.

Off to the Outlands and to meet with the rest of the Stooges, who had joined during the wasted trip to the swamps.

The Three Stooges found a common solution to the question each one had been asking for a while: what should we do? The answer was simply Auchindoun. None of them had completed the four ominous instances, and even the bravest had dared to enter two of them. On the other hand, Förgelös and Bishopgeorge had tried to duo the Mana Tombs with some success, and had finally gotten some help from a replacement tank who wasn't quite as well versed with the fine art of dying as Laiskajaakko.

In few short and uneventfull moments -and only one misdirected flightpath- the heroes of the day came to the entrance of the instances, not knowing that they would see the same sight through the lense of a corpse run so many times in succession later...

Mana Tombs was as uneventfull as ever: Pandemonius went down in a breeze, causing Laiskajaakko ask the laughing stock question (Did he die already?), Tavarok fell like a brickwall, giving some nice mining loot and Nexus-Prince Shaffar tried to put up a fight. But what could they have done to the three heroes doing what heroes do when they are ten levels above the mobs, eh?

The next was Shethekk Halls with its mock-up personators of Dark Crystal's violent and ugly Skesis'. From the beginning on the Three Stooges called them just stupid birds and made sure to defile their plumed corpses again and again.The bird creatures weren't bad enough, but the sheer amount of the spellcasters and their combined effort almost was. Also the fear effect, which in itself is very fearsome, caused some troubles to the three heroic wimpies: It's very hard to look grand with poop in your pants, if you know what I mean.

But down they went, with just two well rehearsed death scenes from the stooges: the power of the group mind is so strong in this one...

Without a thought the Three Heroes Stooges decided to skip the Auchenai Crypts and plunged to the Shadow Labyrinth (ok, we forgot the fourth one in our excitement when we acquired the key. Happy?) Which was the first one to pose any real challenge to the three: Hellmaw was a spank and tank, and only thing 'terrible' with him was the fear, again. But no damage was done as the hall was empty of living souls to rub the fear on and create adds.

The first interesting thing was the combat with the Blackheart the Inciter: the mind control took the three by surprise, but by a miracle - and a good save from Bishopgeorge - only Förgelös got the taste of the bitter chalk of death: the priest and the warrior danced the dance till the last chord, and everyone was rejoicing. But were they ready for the Grandmaster Vorpil and his exploding balloons?


It took at least two corpse runs from the trio to reach the satisfactory solution to the problem of the exploding void walkers and ever renewing Vorpil. However, the last two battles had been among the most interesting, funny and entertaining ever for the trio, and they really relished the moment of the kill.

At this point the gear was almost dropping from their shoulders, as the damage and resurrections had taken their toll. Onwards to the mouth of the monster they went, following the dreadfull transcript of the Shadow Council and their clever idea of recalling Murmur into their aid.

The night had been long for the three married man, and they gave up on Murmur after the third try when their gear just ceased to be. It was so close, but still the Adventures of the Three Stooges in the Auchindoun Instances was a story that will be laughed upon for a long time.

Next time they will all die, claimed Laiskajaakko as they departed. Förgelös was quiet for a while and said: "Not without us running first naked through the countryside. Never!"

How true that may prove to be...

Back to the daily grind

Oh, gee. The vacation is over, thank you, it went extremely well. Our big guy (Irish Wolfhound Ness) won the third place in the European Championships in Lure-Coursing, being well only for few weeks during the whole beginning of the year, we drove over 4000 km to the site of the event and in addition to that spent some neat family time at home, relaxing for this daily real life grind called life.

I have played some, and will be posting about my thoughts. The first thing I did, though, was that I marked all my blogroll read in the reader, so I'm completely blind and out of the blogosphere at the moment. The news about WoW's next expansion details was well documented in the guild forum, so I'm not completely out of the map.

So, let the keyboard sing.