Friday, May 22, 2015

Top Ten Things I Still Love About Warcraft

In not so subtle tribute to Dave Letterman, thanks for so many years of laughs.  It's going to be as hard getting used to you being gone as it will be getting used to the fact that there actually is a "t" in Colbert.

Number 10.  Through all the expansions, hero classes and new additions, there is still no "Accountant" class, making it a decent escape from my everyday life.

Number 9.  I can play a game, with my son, even though he's 500 miles away.  How cool is that.

Number 8.  Chaos Bolt all the things.  Especially Gnomes.  But generally everything.

Number 7.  There is always some little nugget or something that I hadn't noticed before.  I nice little touch in an out of the way place.  Despite having leveled a ton of different toons at this point, no two times are the same and I can really add a ton of variety to my approach.

Number 6.  For the Horde!  I know it's probably no longer cool, but I still have a ton of faction pride. Unless I'm on an Alliance toon in which case, not really for the Horde...

Number 5.  Look, I'm a cat.  Look, I'm a bear.  Look, I'm a tree.  Look, I'm a owl thingy.  Sometimes you have to go play with your druid just because shapeshifting makes your kid giggle.

Number 4.  There are 6 elemental shaman in this LFR and we are chain lightning'ing the hell out of everything.  "crackle"

Number 3.  I've been in the same guild for like 6 years.  Some of my guildies are kinda weird.  Okay, most of them are kind of weird.  I don't get to spend as much time chatting with them anymore as I used to, but I still love the place.  A great group of people.

Number 2.  The Wrathgate.  That still gets to me.  Every time.

And the Number 1 Reason I Still Love Warcraft:  The character creation screen.  Even with so many alts, there are still permutations that I haven't tried, and approaches to leveling that I haven't done yet.  It still provides an almost endless variety of entertainment for me.  (Let's do a Blood-Elf Fury Warrior leveled purely through battlegrounds this time!)

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Back to Leveling!

So do you know what is the most exciting thing coming out in 6.2 for me?  No really, I'm asking.

So I've been doing a little PvP over the past couple of weeks, on both my alliance hunter and my Horde shadow priest.  I still enjoy it now and then, although it usually doesn't take long to see some of the same childish behavior that made me stop PvP'ing regularly to begin with.

But it was fun for a bit.  I also tried Ashran for the first time.  I was surprised that there seem to be a lot of people doing Ashran these days.  Some pretty decent groups fighting back and forth up and down the roads.  Not sure I ever really figured out what the point was, but it was fun to do while waiting in queue for my battlegrounds.

I'm working on leveling the monk now.  He's sitting at level 94.  I decided to hang out in Gorgrond for a bit longer, so we'll see if that makes any kind of difference.  Like the shadow priest, this one is going incredibly fast.  If I just focus on leveling, I'm curious how many of the remaining level 90's I can get done between now and when Hellfire Citadel releases.  Especially if that ends up being mid-June.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ding, Level 100 #8, Impact of Heirlooms on Leveling Speed

So I managed to hit level 100 on character number 8 last night.  This was the first one that I ran through with a fully upgraded set of heirlooms, so I now have a full set of data to support how much time I wasted on my paladin.  Now I'll caveat this by saying I'm not an absolute speed leveler.  I tend to AFK now and again, get distracted by things, sit there chatting with Thrall, mess around in my garrison, go running after treasures, etc.  My fastest leveling time prior to this character was 17 hours and 51 minutes played.  With fully upgraded heirlooms, and full use of xp potions, this one came in at 12 hours and 9 minutes, so almost a full 6 hours better.

I was pretty happy with how the priest felt while leveling.  He seemed a bit squishier than what he's been in the past, which is in no small part due to the inability to keep renew rolling for added heals.  I may try to do a bit of PvP on the priest now rather than immediately jumping to starting on leveling the next toon, which will definitely be the monk.

I also managed to finish the legendary quest chain on my third character, the death knight.  Interestingly enough, with Death Knights being known throughout Azeroth for their stealth, I was able to finish the Garona quest on the very first attempt.  I'm sure that's because of the extreme stealthiness of my DK and not because of all the practice I've gotten on other toons.

So that's it for this week!  With the added xp from monk dailies, it will be interesting to see if it's faster than the priest.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Milking My Cash Cow

So I just realized that this is my 300th blog post.  Odd that it is going to be somewhat business focused rather than my normal altoholic / leveling stuff.  But oh well!

So I posted a comment on a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Alternative Chat who was kind enough to follow it up with a very thoughtful analysis of my comment.  She's copied the text of my original comment at the top of this post (although the comment itself was on an earlier blog post.

So a number of the high powered consulting firms have developed quadrant approaches for looking at your business strategy.  Each firm's iterations are a little different, but they basically involve segmenting your businesses into pieces and putting them into different quadrants.  A basic version of this matrix looks like this:

So you take the elements of your business and divide them up based on different critera (not all versions use growth rate and market share on the various axes).  What I've tried to point out, is that if you look at Activision / Blizzard from the perspective of a business, and not as a game, I'm sure they've done an analysis like this as part of their regular strategy process.  If you look at their results as disclosed in their SEC filings for the last few years, I feel it is highly likely that World of Warcraft falls squarely into the cash cow quadrant (probably along with things like Call of Duty, Diablo and maybe Skylanders heading that direction).

Now what does that mean if a business unit is a cash cow.

First of all, you're looking to maximize the profitability and cash flow generation of that unit.  You are looking for opportunities to continuously improve and streamline and make things more efficient.  Again, keep in mind, I'm talking about Warcraft as a business, not as a game.  I want to invest just enough capital to keep my customer base happy and to innovate where needed and the constant improvements often mean some additional capital needed for those efficiency projects as well.  You may be looking at opportunities to consolidate or outsource certain operations in order to cut costs.  Every investment will be looked at with a very careful eye towards the returns that will be generated by those investments.

But I'm not investing my growth capital here, and it's probably not where most of my management attention is going.  Most of the management attention is probably being spent on the fixer uppers,which are generally the upper right quadrant above, and definitely the
Stars - the areas where I'm looking to invest the most capital, because that's where I'm driving the most growth.

It's my assertion that many of the steps that you see Blizzard taking are the result of their attempts to make the business of Warcraft more efficient and improve cash generation for them, trying to produce new content more cost effectively, keep a broad group of customers satisfied to maintain revenue generation and protect their market share.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Level 100 #7 and a Second Character Finishes the Legendary Chain

I managed to hit level 100 on my paladin on Monday.  His total leveling time was the second fastest of the toons so far, after only the Death Knight.

Next up is the shadow priest, who I'm kitting out in a full set of upgraded heirlooms just to see what kind of difference that makes in the time.

I also managed to finish the legendary quest chain (available so far) on my second character - my hunter.  My Death Knight is currently sitting at 115/300 toward his third tablet, so it'll likely be next week before he is fully done.  Then it'll just be focusing on leveling until the next tier hits.

I may go back and do a few circuits on the various alliance toons that are currently sitting in the mid-60's, just for a bit of fun.

I also finished the achievement necessary to upgrade my inns to level 3 on all of my Garrisons, which gives all my characters access to the lucrative treasure hunter missions.

My standard garrison build now basically includes a Salvage Yard, an Enchanters hut, whatever profession building is relevant for that particular toon, a War Mill, an Inn and then whatever else strikes my fancy at that particular point in time.  Usually a Barracks.  I feel like I have enough Barns going at this point.  I'll add the Lumber Mill here and there, although most of my remaining toons have now been waiting so long to be leveled, that they've all accumulated a giant horde of Garrison Resources.

So that's it for this week.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Initial Thoughts on Patch 6.2

So patch notes are up for Patch 6.2 and as a crazed altoholic, I had a few general thoughts.

  • While a Shipyard sounds conceptually interesting, I'm not really looking for more regular garrison chores thank you very much.
  • We've combined all the things you hated about Hellfire Peninsula with all of the things you absolutely despised about the Timeless Isle in a fabulous new zone, Tanaan Jungle, all beautifully planned to drive you to start playing Overwatch instead when it releases.
  • For those of you who hated the intro sequence to Tanaan Jungle to the point of actually going back to the damn Timeless Isle to try to get out of it, we've added a whole new Tanaan Jungle series of quests that you're sure to hate just as much!
  • Our developers and artists have been hard at work designing a brand new, not new at all raid instance that is a place you've already been before a thousand times!  Welcome to Hellfire Citadel.  As an added bonus, you'll still have no clue how to run back to the instance when you wipe, just like the BC version!
  • In order to enhance our development productivity, parts of the new raid instance will just port you directly to old raid and dungeon instances where many of the "new" bosses already are.
  • Some classes have been buffed, some classes have been nerfed.  In general, the world is not coming to an end.  
  • While no details are yet available on the last portion of the legendary questline, please rest assured it will be grindy as shit.
So all cynicism and sarcasm aside, I'm always up for new content and trying something new, so I'll reserve judgment until I get the chance to run a few characters through.

As an update on other developments, I finally finished both the currently available legendary questline and the garrison campaign series on my warlock, Joar.  I'm currently working on my third elemental tablet on my hunter, who is about 22 runes in towards his 3rd, and am close to finishing up the 2nd tablet on my death knight, who is sitting at 264/300 runes on his second tablet.

I also finished up the quests necessary for upgrading the lumber mill and am currently working through the inn quests so I can upgrade that.  Because what else am I going to do?

My paladin is getting close to done - he's working his way through Nagrand and just a few bars from 99.  The shadow priest will be up next.  I'll be using fully upgraded heirlooms on the priest, just to see what difference that makes to leveling times.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Closing In On Elemental Tablets

So I made good progress on Elemental Runes and Tablets across all three of my characters currently participating in that nonsense last week and there's a pretty good likelihood I'll finish up, at least on Joar this week.

So Joar is sitting at 193/300 on his third Elemental Tablet, so a very good possibility he'll finish this week.

The other two characters, my Death Knight and my Hunter are both working on their second tablets.  The hunter is sitting at 156/300 on his second, and the death knight is sitting at 79/300, so they've both got a ways still to go.

I've also made decent progress this week on leveling my paladin, and he's sitting at level 97 and working his way through the Spires of Arak.

My shadow priest will be up next and I plan to have him venture forth with a fully upgraded set of heirlooms, just to see what difference that makes in leveling time.

So far, there's been a larger amount of deviation in my times than in previous expansion, which is probably a testament to how much there is in this one to distract you and result in unnecessary dicking around (that being the technical term for it).

So that's it for the update for this week!