Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Critical Evaluation of the Warlord Cinematic

So here are a few initial thoughts on the Warlords of Draenor Cinematic.

  • Really excited to see gnomes featured so prominently.  Granted, it was just an advertisement off to the side, but still.  I'll take it.
  • While initially concerned, I thought Kim Kardashian really shined in the role of Pit Lord.
  • What happened in the past 35 years that caused Orcs to lose the ability to construct something more than two stories tall?
  • Is Thrall still green or will we be getting a new red Thrall.  Does this have any impact on the suggested side effects of green M&M's?
  • Can we just all agree to call this the AngryOrc expansion?  I mean, there was even a two handed axe firmly planted in a skull.  Doesn't get more AngryOrc than that.
  • I'm confused.  What are we fighting about?
  • Looking forward to the new improved St. Patricks day event featuring that weird green beer stuff that Grom was contemplating drinking.  Weirdest leprechaun ever though.
  • After all that work on character models and everything else, why do all the Orcs in the cinematic look exactly the same.  Could we get name tags please?
  • On November 13, 1914, Berber tribesman defeated the French in Morocco in the battle of El Herri.  Coincidence?  You be the judge.  Without that, the berber carpet in Mike Morhaime's rec room probably wouldn't be there.
  • None of the Orcs making their way to the giant building appeared to be flying, effectively confirming that there will be no flying in the new expansion.  Or that most netherdrake members of the Screen Actors' Guild continued to be on strike during the filming of the cinematic.
  • If all those torches are planning to stop by my garrison at some point, I'm going to need a level 4 dining room.
  • Orc orc orc orc orc orc orc orc....if you say that fast enough, it starts to sound like you're saying Kor over and over again.  The people that used to play Beatles albums backwards looking for secret messages are very concerned by this.

Friday, August 8, 2014

10 Years, 10 Questions

Thank you to Alternative Godmother for a fantastic idea.  For those of you not following her blog, you should be.  It sits at, and it's fantastic.  You can also find her on twitter @AlternativeChat, which is also the name of her podcast which you can find on iTunes as well as on the blog.  Of course, the chances that you're reading me, and not reading her are pretty slim, but just in case, I figured I'd add that plug.

In any case, she had the absolutely brilliant idea to get the community to a bit of a retrospective on the last 10 years, so she's asked folks to answer 10 questions about their experience with World of Warcraft.  So with no further ado, here are my answers to the 10 questions:

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?

So, for those of you that have watched my Twitter feed recently, I have been divorced and remarried.  I had one child with my previous wife, and we divorced when he was two years old.  When he was three, my ex-wife decided to move about 450 miles away from me.  I've spent the last 15 years traveling to see him every other weekend.  That's all about to end, because next weekend, he's going to be starting college full time.  He'll be studying Chemical Engineering at the University of South Carolina.  

But I digress.

Video games became a connection point for us.  It start with Sega Dreamcast and Nintendo, and eventually XBox.  We'd spend a significant amount of our time together on the weekends just playing games together.  At one point, there was a lull in between releases of various console games and we went looking for something else to keep us occupied.  Trolling the video game aisle at Target, we came upon World of Warcraft.  "You ever heard of this?"  "Yeah, I think some of my friends play it and think it's pretty cool.  It's online, so we could play together even when you're not down here."

DING DING DING DING!  We have a winner!  So we picked it up and started playing.  It gave us a way to stay connected during the week and on the weekends when I wasn't here.  And 8 or so years later, it's something that we still do very regularly.

2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

Meet Abbert.  Gnome mage.  The first character I ever rolled, and never got past level 13.  He still sits calmly there in Stormwind, waiting.  Hoping I'll decide to finish him up one day.  I believe I started him on Drenden, but then took a free server transfer to Nesingwary at one point when I started the mission of getting a toon of every class of one faction to max level.  Of course, that started on Drenden, but then moved to Garrosh when my son (see above) moved most of his toons to Garrosh.

3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?

I initially tried an alliance character and got a little frustrated with it.  Squishy mages.  The next thing I tried was my warlock, Joar.  Interestingly enough, that's what came up when I hit randomize on the name button and now it's a key part of my online identify.  Funny how that works.

There wasn't really anything specific about either faction.  My first forays on an alliance toon weren't successful.  I tried an undead warlock and that went much better for me.  I found a friendly guild right away, and the rest is history.

4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?

Hitting max level for the first time is still a very memorable thing for me.  Also, my first time stepping into a raid.  I love some of the fun things that my guild has done and some of the special in-game things.  Getting together in game to honor a friend's passing, for example.  The Lich King was my first end expansion boss kill, and that is still very memorable for me, as is Deathwing.

I'm really not sure I could identify just one.  My son and I co-tanked Throne of Thunder one weekend beginning to end, and that was an amazing thing for me, because I am truly the worlds worst tank, and I was really amazed how he was able to sit there and walk me through it so we ended up having a very successful run.

5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?

I really enjoy leveling.  And yes, I think that's always been the case.  There are a ton of things that I enjoy though.  I like raiding on a casual basis.  I enjoy PvP every now and then.  I love exploring.  I love working on professions.  

6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

I tend to hang out in a combination of Orgrimmar and whatever the faction base of the xpac is (Shattrath, Dalaran, Shrine, etc.).

7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

318 days, 16 hours.  It's sort of interesting to me how that breaks down.  I'm currently sitting at a total of 15 level 90's.  I've got 11 of those Horde - one of each class, and 4 alliance, with another 7 alliance in the process of leveling.  The played time is very heavily Horde slanted with a total of 297 days, 22 hours on that faction.  Of that, my main, Joar, undead warlock, has the most at 109 days, 7 hours.  Surprising to me, my priest was second at 26 days, 23 hours.  I probably raided most on my priest in Cataclysm and did a fair amount of PvP on him early in MoP.  My druid was my lead alt through most of Wrath however, so I really expected him to be higher.

On the alliance side, my total is less than my average Horde toon at 19 days, 21 hours.  The highest is my hunter at 4 days and 12 hours.

8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I do.  Not for quests that I've done 20 times.  But the first time leveling in any given expansion, I'm definitely reading them.  Usually the second time as well.

9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

Well, now that I see his sorry ass sitting there in Stormwind all sad and at level 13, I sort of regret never finishing Abbert.  I sometimes regret leaving Drenden because as it turns out, it wouldn't have impact my ability to continue to play with my son given cross realm and all that.  While I have a guild that I love on Garrosh, I had some really good friends on Drenden and was sad to leave them behind.

10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

It has mostly been a way for me to stay connected with my son.  Something for us to always talk about during those awkward teenage years, and will hopefully remain that way while he's away at college.  In the meantime, I'm working on getting his two younger brothers hooked (so they can stay connected with him as well...yeah...that's it!)

So that's it, 10 questions, 10 years.  Hope I did you proud, Godmother!

It's a Rogue Lovin' Weekend (Maybe)

So I think the plan for this weekend is going to be to give some LFR love to my rogue, who currently has the lowest ilvl of the Joar Horde empire.  I did manage to pick up a Timeless Isle weapon for him and also a Shado-Pan Assault trinket, so it did move his ilvl from 503 to 508, but that still puts him 4 points behind the next closest member of the Joar army.  So I may see if I can make some progress on him this weekend.

My last update was way back in early May.  Despite taking a break from doing much on the Horde side, there has been some movement on the Horde side since then.  So here's the latest and greatest:

Warlock - 548 -> 554
Shaman - 529 -> 535
DK - 526 -> 529
Hunter - still 523
Priest - 517 -> 519
Druid - still 513
Warrior 511 -> 512
Mage - 510 -> 519
Paladin - 508 -> 513
Monk - 506 -> 516
Rogue - 503 -> 508

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Diving Back Into Wow

So I finally hit the button and unsubbed Wildstar.  So many things that I loved about the game, but at the end of the day, those were all unfortunately offset by the number of things that I found extremely frustrating.

So I've dived back into WoW.  And when I say dived, it's more like dipped my toe gradually into the zero entry section of the pool.  Between vacations and craziness at work, my play time has been wildly limited, so "diving" is probably overstating things a bit.

I may just focus on leveling the rest of the Joar alliance army.  I did do a quick solo run through Ulduar on my warlock to pick up some transmog gear and see if I could knock out a few achievements.  I got hung up on Thorim, but I may enlist some help to knock that one out rather than try to gimmick it.

I've been debating leveling the alliance side of my toon collection a bit at a time, or just pick a toons and level them all the way through, one at a time.

My last update on the alliance group was on April 6th, and I've made some pretty good progress since then, so here's where things stand now:

Priest - level 48 -> 56
Mage - level 46 -> 52
Rogue - level 46 ->52
Druid - level 49 -> 56
Paladin - level 49 -> 54
Warrior - level 49 -> 54
Monk - level 17 -> 25

So this is with being pretty distracted by Wildstar over the time since then and having my overall play time significantly reduced.  I'm still thinking sometime November / December'ish looks pretty on track for a WoD release date, so it'll be interesting to see how far I can get these between now and then.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly in Wildstar

So I've got a month to decide if I want to go ahead and renew my Wildstar subscription for another month, and frankly I'm struggling for a lot of different reasons.  There are some things that I really love about the game, and some things that drive me absolutely nuts.

So let me start off by laying out where I'm coming from.  I'm an extremely casual player.  I don't generally raid consistently with a raid team in any game, not in small part because my work and family schedules are very unpredictable, and I wouldn't be able to commit to a consistent date or time.  I do, however, run LFR and world bosses pretty frequently, and at least two of my WoW characters have ilvls that are on par with someone that does raid (i.e., over 553).  I'm mostly playing the game for entertainment and stress relief.  There's really not much on TV that interests me other than as background noise, and frankly I can't bring myself to read the 94th version of the same story by John Grisham.  So I play video games.  For fun.  And to relax.

Yep.  I'm a carebear.

So here are the things that I love about Wildstar so far.  It's different.  The whole idea of a alien space fantasy game is really cool, and different than the stuff that's come out recently.  It's pretty cartoony, so it runs well on laptops in airports when I'm traveling for work.  I like the whole path concept and having two things that you can be working on leveling for your character.  It adds another dimension to the game play that is really interesting.  I also absolutely love what they've done with housing.  Without a raid finder, I need something to do at end game, and tinkering with housing plots across an army of alts seems like it would be a really entertaining way to spend my time.  They seem to have done a lot of things with the game really well.  The approach to crafting has really been intriguing for me so far, and I like the fact that they also seem to be releasing content at a pretty decent pace.

So now for the negatives.  The game is hard.  Really hard.  From the perspective of a casual rather than a hard core raider, it is almost unreasonably so.  Now don't get me wrong, I fully recognize that there are people that play these games because of the skill required.  And they don't even necessarily have to be hard-core progression raiders.  People that just really enjoy the challenge.  And this game may be truly excellent for those folks.  But for me, as someone who is looking at it as an alternative to watching Grey's Anatomy (ok, not really), I'm looking for an interesting story and something that is challenging, but not to the point of being frustrating.  And Wildstar so far has been well over that frustrating line.

The second issue for me is there is still a lot about the game that is extremely buggy.  Quests that are bugged, abilities that don't work.  Whole areas that are just glitchy.  Checking the forums, it's obvious that these bugs have been out there since release, and they don't appear to be getting addressed.  I started playing Wildstar on an Engineer and have finally concluded that I just can't continue.  In concept, it should be a great class to level with, but I've found the bots to just be too buggy.  From times where they just stop following you altogether, to other times that they either decide to pull things for themselves, or won't taunt when you ask.  For a class where they've seemingly sacrificed both dps and mobility because you have these bot defenders, not having the bots work properly ruins it for me.

So I've switched to trying my Spellslinger, and so far that seems to be working a little bit better in terms of the buginess, so I may take a shot at running this character to 50.  I feel like I owe the game that much at least.

But I have found myself going to back to WoW and leveling more members of the Joar alliance army.  The 7 non-90 classes I have alliance side are all in the early 50's, so getting close to Outland, which might be fun.  And the game feels a lot like an old cherished blanket when you slide back into after a break.  Warm, comfortable, and just seems to fit perfectly.  So we'll see.  As always, I'll write about it here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Wildstar, Rift and WoW updates

So I missed canceling my Wildstar subscription by just barely a day, so I've basically got another month to continue trying it out to see what I think.  If nothing else, it's new content to see and new stuff to do in the downtime while I wait for new Warcraft content.  I've managed to get my Engineer to level 22.  It's getting to be a pretty challenging slog at this point.  I've just started into Whitevale.  I was hoping to be level 23 before hoping over to Whitevale, but a few different bugged quests stood in my way.

I've also been working on a Dominion Spellslinger and have gotten him to level 12.  I've been enjoying that class, because, while it doesn't have the tanking bot, it has a lot more range and hits a lot harder than the engineer.  So stuff is getting dead before it even gets nearby.  I'm doing Scientist on the Spellslinger and that has also been a lot of fun so far.  I'm also giving Architect a try, because if I do decide to run someone all the way to end game, focusing on doing stuff with my housing plot seems like a good way to spend my end game time given my erratic play schedule.

On Rift, I started working through my mage a bit more.  I was a little disappointed to see that one of the recent patches did away with the Warlock / Necromancer preset soul combination that I'd been using, although the Necromancer / Elemental combo that seems to have replaced it seems to be working pretty well also.  I'm sure I could have looked up a custom build, but I'm going for casual easy mode here.  This toon is almost to 58 and I think I'll finish getting them to 60 and maybe do a few Expert dungeons for gear before moving onto my Rogue / Hunter on the Defiant side.

In Warcraft, I'm still not finding much to do outside of gold-making, although that continues to go extremely well.  I tend to be primarily a solo player (although I love my guild, I'm not available with enough consistency to be on a raid team or anything like that), so I remain concerned that diving too deep into the beta will only result in my getting burned out on WoD content even faster than I did this time around, particularly if Blizzard's content process continues to work the same as it has for the last 3 expansions.  So I'm holding off on that and just letting the Joar army sit for now, other than regular auction house stuff.  I may level another alliance toon or two before it's done, but that remains to be seen.

Staying out of the beta continues to be a personal challenge, and one that I may give in to before too long.  Garrisons looks like a really interesting new feature, particularly for a casual player like me, so I'm really anxious to try it out.  Carbine has done a fantastic job with the player housing concept in Wildstar, so I'm hoping Blizzard is taking notes at some of the cool things that have been done there.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

5 Year Blogoversary (slightly late)

So my five year blogoversary past this past Monday without any fanfare because of real life obligations.  And because, not being in the Warlords of Draenor Alpha at this point, I don't have a ton to write about.  My various Warcraft toons are basically on hold, making gold each week, but generally hanging out waiting for the next expansion.  I've been playing a little bit of Wildstar, and, while it's an excellent game, I'm not sure even that is going to be enough to hold my attention until WoD drops.

But I did want to reflect a bit on what I've accomplished here over those 5 years since I first laid down the first post in this space.  At that time, I had exactly 2 level 80 max level toons (having only gotten one character to max level over the course of Vanilla and Burning Crusade.

So since then, I've managed to level a total of 15 characters to max level - one of each class on the Horde side on one server, and 4 alliance characters on another server.  I've also leveled one character to max level in Rift (with a second not far behind), one character to max level in SWTOR, and I'm about a third of the way there on Wildstar.

I may give up on Wildstar and go back to playing Rift a bit more.  My guardian mage is pretty close to max level but my defiant rogue / hunter has a way to go.  I have managed to get my Engineer / Settler to level 19, but I'm finding it's not a game that's as conducive as I'd like to an extremely casual play style.  I tend to play mostly while traveling (which is fine) or in the evenings while watching TV with my wife.  If I set things down to watch something or talk with my wife about something, it's not a great situation if that has a huge impact on me in game.  In WoW or Rift, I can park my toon in a safe place, and worse case scenario, I have to run back to my corpse.  That's not an option in Wildstar, and I've found that a bit frustrating.  But that's me as an extremely casual player.  Fantastic game and if I was playing a lot more than I am now, I'd probably be much more focused on it.

So cheers!  Thanks for those of you that have been reading!