Monday, September 28, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Saberstalker Reputation achieved

Still not quite done with the Saberstalkers

I have done the weekly Saberstalker quest and joined a group each time and between the two I have made it to revered with them, leaving me one more revered reputation (Order of the Awakened) to earn before I get Draenor flying.  I mentioned in my last post that I find this grind annoying since it's behind a daily quest that required finding treasures or rares.  The good news is I only have to do it 4 more times.  The bad news is that I have already picked up almost of all of the obvious treasures, so I'll have to finish the quest more with Rare mobs.  Since, with the Saberstalker quest and totems, you can be guaranteed for 3 rare mobs weeks and usually 6 of the 10 tokens needed for the daily quest, I'll probably keep doing it weekly until I have the last revered reputation I need to fly.

Looking back at the goals I set for myself in March, I have done many of them, even some of those that seemed unlikely.  At this point, I am again at a lull.  It may be that I'd like to be able to fly since it'll help with leveling the other characters but I would rather not grind those last four quests.  I wish they had set up some other way to get reputation - the other two Tanaan Jungle reputations have that.  Even if this was the 'best' way, options are always helpful psychologically to have multiples ways of completion to make something seem like less of a grind.

In other gaming, I have been playing Minecraft and Terraria on our mobile devises with my daughters.  I finally made a house and mine that goes deep enough into the earth to mine red stone and diamonds.  I also started exploring over land, building three houses due south of the original spawn, but I haven't found anything particularly interesting and don't feel like going to the nether (though I have a diamond pickaxe and several good places to gathering Obsidian, something I haven't done in Minecraft before).  Terraria is probably the first game I've played with my daughters where they are noticeably better than I am.  I guess I need to get use to it.

I have bought a WoW Token but am holding off exchanging it for game time in case I decide I need a break.  I'm pretty sure I'll continue until more of my characters are max level.  I keep thinking that Kanter has a high enough iLvl that he should go ahead and do some of the dungeons and raids for the legendary ring, but I still can't be bothered.  I'd rather just be casual, which seems to be a theme in the blogosphere recently.  Maybe more on that later.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Flying in Draenor

I'm spending more time in Lion's Watch and Tanaan Jungle again.
Flying was introduced in Draenor in World of Warcraft on September 2nd and I am still firmly on the ground.  I starting writing this post in early July around the time that Blizzard decided to allow people to jump through several hoops in order to be able to fly.  Before that time there was some comments from Blizzard employees that there might never be flying in Draenor and much consternation from some players because of it.

For me, it was what I expected.  There were a number of things to do in Draenor that were supposed to be a challenge because you were on the ground.  Even before Warlords of Draenor (WoD) was released, we were told that there wasn't a plan for flight.  It was fun to be able to finally be allowed to fly in Burning Crusade but WoW is a game and I am fine with the developers tweaking the rules to add new challenges.

That said, now that flying is here and I've started testing what it will take to get Revered reputation for the three factions, I'm pretty sure I'll complete them.  One of the factions, Hand of the Prophet (for Alliance) is part of the quest line that gets you the Shipyard and to the Tanaan Jungle, so it's pretty straightforward to get the reputation.  There are seven daily quests and you get to choose one of two every day.  After I had done the campaign quests and each of the dailies once, I believe I only needed to do 3 or 4 more to get to Revered.  Right now I'm only 100 reputation away and will just wait to do one more daily (they provide 500 reputation each).

The second is The Saberstalkers.  I visited once briefly by myself and then just joined a custom group twice and already half way through honored.  There is a weekly quest, Rumble in the Jungle, where you can use three totems that you buy with the claws that you gather as you kill Saberstalkers to challenge three elite Saberstalkers.  I will wait until I can get this quest next week (after the Tuesday reset) and join one more group which will probably put me at Revered.  You also get Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragment that can be used for the last reputation from the three elites.

The last reputation is the most annoying, Order of the Awakened.  There is primarily one daily quest that gets you this reputation and it requires gathering 10 Fel-Corrupted Apexis Fragments.  These fragments come from treasures or rare mobs in Tanaan Jungle.  The combination of only being able to do this quest once a day and having to either search for treasures (I did buy the map for 600 gold) and hoping to find the rare mobs to kill.  It feels both too constricted (only once a day) and too random (finding the treasures and rares).  That said, I have made it about 25% into honored and have decided to purchase the Hunter's Seeking Crystal for 1000 gold that will teleport me to a nearby rare so I can complete it.  I still find it annoying as I did the Timeless Isle.

I enjoyed finishing most of the quests in WoD with my hunter and priest and I'd like to get some of the other toons to 100 so I can get all the crafting high level recipes that require a level 3 garrison but I wouldn't mind making that faster for them.  I figure it is worth getting flying and buying the Excess Potions of Accellerated Learning to speed getting the other three or four characters to level 100.  The potions cost 100 garrison resources and I am wasting most of my resources now since I don't have a use for them outside of the missions I do about once a week.

I would have been fine with them leaving everyone on the ground in Draenor but jumping through these hoops has probably kept me playing longer than I would have otherwise, so I guess it's a win for Blizzard this way and I am sure I will enjoy being able to fly from place to place once I have it.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

A Tale in the Desert Telling 7

Definitely NOT my stuff

A Tale in the Desert is planning to start it 7th Telling on September 11th and the Beta that doesn't have a reset already started on August 28th.  I often hear people asking for more variety in their MMOs and have always heard of A Tale in the Desert (ATOTD) as an example.  There is no combat in ATOTD, it is built around crafting and working together to accomplish goals.

The game first appeared in 2003 and has had 6 approximately 18 month tellings since it's inception.  You can play the 6th Telling for free until the September 8th (when it ends) and I've probably played for 30 minutes in a couple of sessions, so I know very little about the game.  The game is subscription based with 24 free hours and then $11.95 a month (with discounts for buying more than one month at a time).

The two things I do the most in World of Warcraft is crafting and questing.  ATOTD would allow me to do both of those things without having to deal with killing things which sounds good in practice.  When I downloaded the game a week or so ago I thought I'd subscribe for a month or two and see how it works.  However, I don't think I'll be doing that now.

If you think about how games appeal to us as represented in the Bartle Test, there is no 'Killing' in this game, but there is also very limited Exploring.  I like the idea of learning the crafting game and I understand there are puzzles to be solved as part of it, which also appeals to me, but a lot of the pleasure I get out of playing has to do with wandering around different areas, particularly new ones. The graphics in ATOTD are very basic (as you can see above) and, though I didn't explore extensively, there doesn't seem to be a lot of variety (it is a Desert, after all).

I am glad this game exists and I am glad it is getting a little bit of press, but I'm not sure I'll play it again.  Sometimes it is better just to enjoy the idea than to actually participate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Pets and Flight

Pet Menagerie finally built.

Yes, I should probably be titling these 'A Month in an MMO Life' given how often I've been posting them, but I can always dream that I'll start posting more.

With the Pet Battling triple experience weekend a couple weeks ago in World of Warcraft, I finally built the Pet Menagerie.  I had done almost no Pet Battling, so I was starting from two Ultimate Battle-Training Stones from my two level 3 garrisons and a bunch of pets I had gathered through years of playing WoW.  I used the first comment on the Pet Versus Pests Wowhead entry (with 201 up votes at the time) as my guide.  From there I targetting getting a frog, a Dancing Water Skimmer, a fox, and a moth to at least level 20.

I used my Ultimate Battle-Training Stones to level my Terrible Turnip and Sprite Darter Hatchling to level 25.  The Terrible Turnip has a 'Weakening Blow' that will never kill a pet you are battling, so you can make sure you don't kill it before capturing it.  I took my mage (who both wasn't max level and had a port) to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to capture the Dancing Water Skimmer and Yellow-Bellied Bullfrog.  Battled there until I had two uncommon skimmers and a rare bullfrog and also leveled some of my moths at the same time.  From there is was a quick trip to Kun-Lai Summit to capture an Alpine Foxling Kit and was lucky enough to get a rare on one my first battle.

I was able to win the three pet battles needed to complete the Pet Versus Pests quest with just those pets, including two moths I had leveled, at level 20 or higher which allowed me to build my Menagerie.  Moving it to Level 2 was just a matter of some gold and garrison resources.  I completed one of the daily quests but at this point I have 15 pets at level 20 or higher and to try to build a full collection is daunting.  I'm not sure I want to spend the time doing it or finishing the 150 pet battles to get the Level 3 Menagerie.  At least I can say I've built all the Garrison buildings (except the PvP one).

I also was able to find the time to finish two of the last three achievements I need for the Draenor Pathfinder achievement that allows flying in Draenor.  Whenever I had some time, I would check to see if one of the Securing Draenor quests I hadn't finished was in my garrison and would run it.  Once I was down to four assaults, I just paid for them at my garrison with resources from my Garrison Quartermaster.

I also finished the Master Treasure Hunter achievement.  My missions had given me the Shadowmoon Valley and Gorgrond maps so I started with those.  Once I had done most of them I realized I'd need one more map to finish it, so I bought the one for Nagrand from Grakis in Stormshield.  I'm not sure this was the best one to pick because quite a few were difficult to get to.  Fortunately, I didn't need that many after having gathered most of the treasures from the previous two zones, so it was just a matter of looking for others if one was very difficult to get to.  I enjoyed the scavenger hunt aspect of this, but not as much as I thought I would.  It felt like they were generally reasonable in Shadowmoon Valley but in Nagrand you would often have to find an obscure path to the treasure.

So I only have one achievement left to earn Flying in Draenor, Tanaan Diplomat.  There are three reputations you need to level to Revered and while one of them is pretty straight forward, the other two are going to be quite a grind.  Once again, I'm not sure if it is worth it or not.  I didn't mind being grounded in Draenor.  I'll try to post more about that later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World of Warcraft Subscribers and Legion

New World of Warcraft expansion announced on 8/6
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion.  The new class, the Demon Hunter, doesn't appeal to me but I thought the initial class quests for the Death Knight were interesting and I'd like to see these as well.  I like the idea of having an artifact weapon that stays with you and advances.  The weapon has always been the item that most impacts the player's effectiveness and this should make it a little less subject to where your next best weapon is placed and the luck of the random number generator.  I have enjoyed the questing for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor more than Cataclysm and I expect more of the same and that is a good thing.

There have been a lot of negative talk about how Warlords of Draenor has effected the subscriber count.  Looking at the curve published on MMO Champion the 1.5 million subscriber drop is bigger than what would be expected, but it is only one quarter.  Mists of Pandaria (MoP) had a 1.3 million subscriber drop from between 3 and 6 months after release, so it is only slightly higher.  The decline of subscribers after MoP was not as steep I am sure Blizzard hopes the announcement will help stabilize it similarly.  

I agree with those who say this is a 10 year old game and there isn't a lot Blizzard can do to change the overall curve.  As more people leave there will be a higher peak with sightseers, but it is unlikely many of those returning to see the new content will stay to raid or do other end game content.  I would also think there will be a point where the decline will slow because there are also a lot of people who are committed to the game as long as Blizzard keeps supporting it.  Even if that is around 2 million people, Blizzard can make a lot of money keeping it a subscription game at that level.  I don't see them going Free-to-play but rather ending the game if it doesn't make the profit that makes them want to invest in it.  A recent Game Revolution article put the Final Fantasy XIV subscribers between .8 and 1.2 million, World of Warcraft probably still has five times the number of subscribers as the second most popular subscription MMO.

I take Blizzard at their word that they are trying to release content faster.  I expect a release in the first quarter of 2016, which would be about 6 months faster than the Warlords of Draenor release. If they can do that, they should get another peak from returning subscribers who are just sightseeing.  From there the curve will level out some, but it will be very interesting to see where that seems to happen.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Comments for Blaugust

Blaugust Begins today!

Blaugust begins today!  What is Blaugust, you may ask?  Belghast has been posting everyday now for more than 2 years and last year he decided to have an event to encourage others to post more regularly and Blaugust was born.  Post every day in the month of August and you win!  I know I am not going to post 31 times this month but I wanted to support it so I joined the Nook.  Once there I realized a great way to support those participating was to comment on their blogs, so I am going to have my own challenge to comment on at least one blog post every day this month.

Now that I've caught up on the blogs I follow in Feedly, I've decided I can follow a few more.  I've added a Blaugust 2015 category and I have added two participating blogs there so I can keep up with them.  I know it takes a little catching up, so I'll just try to add two more every week through August.

Good luck to all of those participating and please support our fellow gaming bloggers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

World of Warcraft Achievements

Achievements can show what you like and don't like to do
As I had mentioned previously, as the Warlords of Draenor expansion to World of Warcraft is winding down, I have focusing more on what I want to do.  Over the last several weeks I have done many of them and even though I'm not focused on achievements, they tend to show up there.

  • Finished all the cooking and eating and drinking achievements.  Since I had always kept up with cooking, it was really just a matter of fishing up a few fish, buying a few items from the Cataclysm expansion and cooking a few items.  It was nice to get the 'credit' for something I had pretty much already done (and use up a few of the cooked items I had been sending to my lower level toons just in case).
  • Finish the 6.2 extension (In Pursuit of Gul'dan) to the Garrison campaign.  I thought this was a really good addition to this expansion to give a max level character a way to experience some of the content without going to dungeons or raids.   The 6.2 quests went pretty quick and weren't quite as good as the earlier quests, but they were good as well.
  • Finish exploring the Warlords of Draenor zones.  I only had two areas in Gorgrond and Frostfire Ridge left to do.  You couldn't tell what areas were missing by looking at the Gorgrond map, so I had to look them up.  There were huge areas in Frostfire Ridge that I hadn't visited since it is primarily a Horde zone and so I just starting travelling those areas and when the last one showed up on the map, I had finished the achievements.
  • Raise the  Shipyard to Level 3.  I'm not sold on the Shipyard addition, but it wanted at least to give it a chance (hopefully I'll say more about it in another post).
Completing these gave me some other areas I'd like to focus on:
  • The Draenor explorer is one of the prerequisites for flying in a subsequent patch.  I had already done all the quests, but I had not done the 'Securing Draenor' achievement which focuses on a daily quest for Apexis crystals that I had decided weren't that interesting.  I figure it'll be ok to try them each once and since there is a Tanaan Juggle version of them that provided oil for my Shipyard and reputation, I figure I'll do each of them at least once as well.
  • Another prerequisite for flying will be finding 100 treasures.  I already have the maps for Gorgrond and Shadowmoon Valley and I picked up several of the Gorgrond ones when I was finishing the exploration there and I'll take a tour of Shadowmoon valley soon and then see how many I need and where I'd like to go from there.  I enjoy the scavenger hunt aspect of this.
  • I'd still like to get all my building on Kanter to level 3 (now that I've done the Shipyard).  The main one I have neglected is the Pet Menagerie, so I'll probably find a guide and it should be too difficult.
Looking at my achievements you can see some obvious patterns.  I've done most in the exploration, general and profession achievement sections.  Since I have all but one profession at max level, I'd really like to get the last one, but that means leveling up my Deathknight from 80 to 92.  It shouldn't be too bad, but I'll probably wait until the other activities are done.  Because of the tokens, I don't feel to bad keeping my subscription since it's pretty trivial for me to early the gold for the token.

In a unrelated achievement, I also caught up on the main blogs I follow.  For quite a while I had over 200 posts to read and that was somewhat disheartening, but I gradually chipped away and for the last week I've just been reading the previous days posts.  I am hoping this will encourage me to start responding to some of them as well, though I read them on my phone or tablet and I'd really always much rather type on my laptop.