Monday, July 28, 2014

A Week in an MMO: Exploring Azeroth again

Kentrei helping the Stillpine on Azuremyst Isle
I have started three posts since my last one, but I couldn't seem to get the motivation to actually write any of them, so you'll just get another summary of what I've been doing, primarily in World of Warcraft.

Rediscovering Cataclysm

I leveled four characters to 60 before Cataclysm and didn't have much incentive to revisit the zones afterwards.  The idea of the druid always appealed to me, but I like my hunter and I'd rather heal as a priest, so it never became a priority to level him.  However, since I plan to get Warlords of Draenor and I'd rather get the max level leatherworking profession with the included Instant Level 90 character offer, I've decided to level my druid to 60 and finally see some of the Cataclysm zones.

I'd like to see entire zones if possible, but I'd also like to take advantage of rested experience.  From my experience finishing up Stonetalon mountains and Desolace and starting on Feralas, that'll mean starting at level and becoming too high until you end up skipping a zone.  I enjoyed both new zones and Desolace seemed like a huge improvement from how it was originally.  After all this time I still distinctly remember looking at the quests where I could gain favor with one of the centaur groups but lose favor with the other.  Now the quests have been overhauled to unite the groups, leading to a much more satisfying experience for me at least.

Rediscovering Burning Crusade

I don't remember when, it might have been towards the end of Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Lich King, I decided to create a Draenae Shaman so I could experience the starting zone and the class (since I hadn't done anything significant on the Horde side).  I probably got about half way through Ambermyst Isle when she just became another bank and game mail location where I could send things without losing them.

Finally this month I have finished Ambermyst Isle and am now progressing through Bloodmyst Isle.  I was a little surprise to see there wasn't an achievement for Ambermyst Isle, though I'm doing it more for the experience and the lore than for the achievement.  I've said several times I don't see myself getting the Loremaster achievement, though I guess that could change.  It has been interesting finishing off these different zones together because it is easier to contrast them.  I think it is improved from the original starting zones, but I didn't find it nearly as involving as the Pandaria or Cataclysm zones.

Finishing off zones

As part of finding things to do, I went back and finished a few zones.  Kanter had been fewer than 10 quests from finishing both Blades End Mountain and Nagrand so I finished those off.  The WoW Pro leveling add made it easy to find the quests that I missed and generally it was fun revisiting that world I spent so much time in years ago.  I did run into one dilemma in Nagrand.  I had finished what I thought was all of the quests, but didn't have the achievement.  Eventually I figured out that it was because I hadn't done the Ring of Blood series of quests.  

For those who don't know, this is a series of progressively more difficult fights designed for 5 people that ended with what was at the time a good weapon.  Now it is trivial for a level 90, but when I showed up a level 64 player was already battling.  I had the decision to make whether or not I should help.  I asking the player, but it was a Horde character, and though they responded back, I couldn't read what they said.  I started to watch but once I saw the character have less health than the NPC they were fighting, I decided to help.  I can remember fighting on Timeless Isle and having people stand around as I died when the mob I was fighting had a sliver of health left.  I think it was the better decision given what I know, but others could have fairly acted differently.  After the fight they emoted a 'No' to me, so I think they would have rather tested themselves and it's unfortunate that they probably won't have that chance again with that character.  Certainly if someone asks you not to help them, you shouldn't, but in this case I had to act on the information I had.

Finally, during Wrath I had decided to complete the Icecrown quests with my priest.  She did many of them, but there were a set that required a group and I wasn't able to get a group together (being very late doing the content like I normally am).  Now I was finally able to complete those quests to get the 'Icecrown:  The Final Goal' achievement. I only have 'Into the Basin' to finish the Loremaster of Northrend achievement, so I'll probably get that done with my Death Knight.  I was very pleased with how the Pandaria Loremaster achievement was pretty easily done with two leveling characters and it will be nice to have Northrend done as well.  There really is a big cinematic change from Burning Crusade to Wrath, particularly in the quests.  It was a nice contrast to see them so close together and, again, I think it was an improvement.


I had to create a crest, right?
Introducing the Den of Iorek

For years I've thought about creating a guild to help with my pack rat mentality (yes, selling things would be a better way, but I'm not there).  Finally this last month I received help from my guild mates creating a personal guild, the Den of Iorek.  My favorite pet has always been the first bear that I tamed with the hunter quest around level ten about 10 and a half years ago.  I thought about putting Kanter in the name, but decided I would much rather honor his faithful companion and the character he's named after.  The guild bank seems huge and though it took me a little time to understand how it worked, I have two characters in the guild and the ability to add a whole lot of space for a lot cheaper than the cost of Royal Satchels.

I Can't Heal

About the time Kanter, my hunter, hit level 60 in the original game and I saw the number of hunters in my guild, I thought I'd like to level a priest and heal.  Kantra was born soon after and did some healing in the original dungeons, and even a little in Cataclysm, but never went on any raids.  I was thinking I might try to raid with her in Warlords of Draenor and keep thinking how I might want to prepare for that.  I don't want to do LFR and, even though I started the Legendary Cape quest line, I'd rather play with people I know.  I kept thinking I would try her in the Proving Grounds and finally got to it this month.  

I know Bronze is supposed to be easy, but as someone who has almost never healed and not in years, it was a learning experience.  For those who haven't done it, you travel to the Temple of the White Tiger and talk to an NPC who queues you for a solo scenario.  Once there, you have a series of fights with a five person group and you in the role of Tank, DPS, or Healer.  The first fights start out easy, but they get progressively harder and by the last (5th) fight I was always running out of mana. I think putting down the Lightwell put me over the top.  I guess it should have been obvious, but I've done so few dungeons or raids since the Lightwell was introduced, that I wasn't used to seeing it even.  

At least I was able to do Bronze and it might be enough to let me heal some dungeons or raids.  I would like to go back and try to get the Silver achievement, but I'm not sure I want to work that hard.

What's next

Besides finishing up getting my druid to level 60 and Bloodmyst Isle, I'm not sure what I want to do.  I am close to 100 mounts, so that is certainly achievable.  A day at a time I am producing Jard's Peculiar Energy Source so I should soon have my Sky Golem and Pierre to go with Jeeves.  I'm interested in trying out a monk and that could be a good third character for the Den of Iorek.  Maybe I'll try out my healing in groups and see if that's really something I want to do.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Four at 90

Kantrina on her new chopper!
Over the last two weeks I have leveled my fourth character to 90, my mage, Kantrina.  I probably wouldn't have done it, or at least not so soon, except that I needed to level my Alliance Vanguard reputation for the chopper pictured above and the easiest way to do that was with Heroic WotLK dungeons at level 90.  Once I hit level 90 I had two priorities:

  • Build my farm so I could farm Spirit of Harmony for Engineering recipes 
  • Farm WotLK heroic dungeons for reputation

Both were done in four days.  For the reputation, I just visited the two heroic dungeons in Utgarde Keep right next to where I could buy the Chopper recipe.  At the same time I took my miner out to try to find some Titanium in Icecrown to supplement a few I found cheaply on the auction house.  Finally, all I needed was the three purchased items. However I read that it is possible to harvest them with Engineering off some of the Ulduar bosses and we happened to have a guild trip scheduled there for last Saturday.  I was able to take my Engineer to Ulduar and farm the bosses, but none of the Chopper ingredients dropped.  It was a fun trip anyway and right afterwards I went ahead and spent the several 1000 gold so I could finally build my chopper!

Another temptation over the last two weeks was the "Gaze of the Black Prince" buff which gave you extra reputation and drops for the Legendary cloak quest line.  I farmed the reputation while doing daily Klaxxi quests on my priest and managed to get to honored for the first quest series.  One of the runs netted me 25 Valor and more than 1300 Black Prince reputation, but most days most if not all of the quests weren't for Klaxxi and so wouldn't have earned me reputation.  I considered several times running LFR on her, but never actually did it.  I might still happen, who knows.

Once I had my chopper, I wanted to get started on my other engineering goals, but I needed Schematic: Chief Engineer Jard's Journal which is a random drop when your Engineering is at 600. I went to Timeless Isle so I could get some drops at the same time and after much dying, it finally dropped.  Right now, I'm focused on my daily Jard's Peculiar Energy Source and Living Steel so I can build some of the recipes:

Engineering goals:
Mekgineer's Chopper  Done, hooray!
Sky Golem - 30 of each
Pierre  - 15 of each
Rascal-Bot  - 15 of each
Advanced Refrigeration Unit  - 5 of each (only after the three above recipes)
Lord Blastington's Scope of Doom
Mechanical Pandaren Dragonling
Ghost Iron Dragonling
Geosynchronous World Spinner
Personal World Destroyer

I may not make all of them, but the first four only take time, so I'm pretty sure I'll make them.  I guess these daily profession tasks are a good way to keep people like me subscribed.

I need to figure out what I want to do next.  I guess I will start leveling my Druid, Kantree, in Kalimdor to get him to 60.  I haven't done most of those quests since Cataclysm went live and I'm interested to see how it goes, but I don't have a lot of motivation.  I also in theory would like to try out a druid and he'll probably be my instant 90 (with max skinning and leatherworking at level 60). We'll see if I get distracted with something else.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Blog reading backlog

Feedly has replaced Google reader, but the backlog is still there
Once again I find myself about a week behind on my blog reading.  After being a week behind two weeks ago, caught up the week after and a week behind again this week, I wonder if others have the same problem and how they deal with it.

I have used Feedly ever since Google Reader stopped working.  I still use the same generally method of categorizing my feeds:

  • Autism related feeds (not many of these currently)
  • General Gaming feeds - not too many of these so I can usually keep up with them
  • MMO feeds - this is the majority of my feeds and I probably get around 30 posts a day on week days.  
  • World of Warcraft specific feeds - I don't have many of these
  • Other feeds - I keep most of the large feeds that I can't keep up with here, Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Wow Insider, and Massively.
I like keeping MMORPG in my MMO feed because they always have short header posts and I feel like I can keep up with the news this way and just mark the longer posts I want to read for follow up (though I hardly ever get to them, I feel better marking them).

I also like following many of the blog authors (and others) on Twitter, but I have an even harder time keeping up with it.  I've recently decided that if I try to go back more than 3 hours, I never catch up, so I've given up on those posts though I do wonder about what I've missed.  Here also there are often links I may want to follow up on and I save those to Pocket (and, again, I seldom get back to them).  I do follow Wow Insider, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Massively here and since I never keep up with their posts there is a chance I'll see a post here that I want to read and then I can save it to Pocket (where, I probably won't read them, but, again, it makes me feel better).

Do others have the same issue keeping up with posts?  I truly enjoy reading them and they often inspire me to write something, but I don't seem to have enough time to play, write posts, and read the posts I enjoy.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Vial of the Sands: Taking others for a ride

I'm not sure Iorek likes travelling with a dragon
Just a quick post to announce that finally, on my 15th Canopic Jar, the recipe for Vial of the Sands dropped. I can now turn into a dragon and give other players a ride on my back.  I'm sure it would have been faster to save up gold and buy it from the auction house, but it is nicer for me to have defeated the RNGer and I have an achievement to show for it.  Who knows, maybe sometime someone will buy the materials and want me to make one for them.


Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Four Farms

Kantrina arrives in Pandaria

There has been quite a lot of interesting social discussion about Blizzard and their portrayal of women within World of Warcraft and the '#YesAllWomen' campaign seemed to bring it more attention.  At least two long time players who have made large contributions to the community have even quit the game.  Generally I support that Blizzard can and should do more but I am still playing.  I need to think on this more to develop my response, but I hope everyone thinks seriously about this, understands their position and can defend it.

The title of this post is a little premature since while I have my fourth character in Pandaria (my Mage, Kantrina), she hasn't started her farm yet.  However, I am on vacation at home this week so it should be soon and 'Four Farms' is so much nicer than 'Four characters in Pandaria'.

Kantrina hit 85 while helping unify the clans in Twilight Highlands.  This is the first time I have done these quests and I was enjoying them but at this point I'd rather advance in Pandaria and get the better gear.  I would like to go back and finish them eventually. 

The Twilight Highland quests are my last ones I need for Cataclysm loremaster but I still haven't finished the Icecrown quests and those would come next.  Completing the Loremaster title is very unlikely since I did most of my leveling in Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms before the achievements existed and before the Cataclysm quest changes and I don't see myself finishing them all.

Speaking of long term goals, Vial of the Sands is still a work in progress, 13 Mumified Organs later.  My hope was to get them done in the average time, 10 jars, but that wasn't to be.  As mentioned in my previous post, I'm still ok as long as I can mix it in with other activities.

One side activity is I created four out of the five Jewelcrafting Panther mounts now.  The Jeweled Onyx Panther is outrageously expensive, requiring the other four mounts.  If you had asked me a month ago if I would be creating it, I'd have said no, but I guess if I collect all 80 required gems to create the four other mounts again along with the 72,000 gold, I'll probably go ahead and create it.

I started working on Jewelcrafting again to make Serpent Hearts daily.  I figure I will keep doing that until I have the Jade Owl pet and then see what I want to do with my Ghost Iron after that.

I am still avoiding LFR and without that, I don't see myself raiding with my guild, but I guess that could change.  I have plenty to do and I prefer activities where I can leave quickly without inconveniencing others.  At least I have plenty of choices there still to last me until Warlords of Draenor is released.

I was behind on my blog reading but just got back within two days tonight.  It has been great reading everyone's impressions of Wildstar.  I truly hope it is successful and I looked like a well crafted game from the little I played, it just wasn't for me.  I look forward to reading more about it.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

MMOs: Variety or Niche

Into the Maelstrom
As I was playing World of Warcraft yesterday, I was thinking about why I am still playing it after 10 years, when there hasn't been any new content for several months, and I am uninterested in any of the normal end game content (PvP or Raids).  Part of it is the people I know who play, but the game has only some control of that.  The other things that keeps me coming back is the variety of casual things I can do and enjoy.

As mentioned in my last post (and several before that), my focus now besides daily farming and cool downs for gold and crafting, is to get the Vial of the Sands.  This is just a cool toy (a mount that allows you to carry a friend) that is behind requires two specific profession (Alchemy and Archaeology), several random number generators, 836 gathered components and quite a bit of gold (29,000 assuming you don't buy any of the gathered components).

The random number generators mentioned comes from how you obtain the recipe.  The recipe is a Canopic jar that will only contain the recipe about 10% of the time (RNG 1).  The Canopic jar only randomly appears as the Tol'vir artifact (RNG 2).  Originally, the Tol'vir sites where the fragments for the artifacts were found only randomly appeared in set of Kalimdor sites (RNG 3) (this can be avoided now since you can use Pandoran artifacts to create the Tol'vir components, but 40-60 Pandoran fragments only lead to 6-10 Tol'vir fragments).

Not that many people have it because it either takes a lot of time or a lot of gold if you want to buy it off the auction house.  Like a lot of things in life, the value doesn't so much come from what it is but from how difficult it is to obtain.

There are a lot of different ways to fill your time that a casual player can do (e.g. Pet battles, Achievements, Alts, Crafting, Gold-making, Mount collecting).  I think this is Blizzards answer to keeping players around.  It won't keep those that just want to push end content, but they are likely to want to try other games anyway.

People have posted that games need to be sandboxes, that the players need to create their own content and I agree this is another alternative, but I don't think they will ever appeal to as many players as the casual themepark style MMO.  Eve is a great example of a successful game where the players create the content but I see it as a niche game.  The Secret World is another game that doesn't try to appeal to everyone but some people really enjoy it.

I'd love to see more niche MMOs and if we see enough I'll probably find one that appeals to me and will lure me away from a game designed to appeal to the largest possible audience.

P.S. My other MMO goal right now is to level my mage to 90 and she reached 94 finishing the Mount Hyjal quests along with the intro quests for Deepholm and Uldum, including the flight with Aggra from the picture above.

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Waiting for Warlords

Drought at the Farm

I should probably retitle these posts "A Month in an MMO Life", but you never know, maybe I'll start posting more.

I thought the picture was appropriate because I have been spending most of my gaming time, dutifully visiting my three farms each day and many are complaining about the drought in World of Warcraft content.  My primary objective is still to get the Vial of Sands.  I found a survey someone did to figure out on average how many Canopic Jars it takes to get the recipe.  The results after 147 posts was 9.5.  I just recently past this with 10 Mummified Organs (which I still have in my bags).  I am somewhat disappointed but I still rather enjoy doing archaelogy about 2 to 3 times a week, visiting 2-4 sites in Pandaria, getting achievements, and getting my five Valor points whenever Uncovering the Past is available.  I still have hope to get the drop soon.

I also am very glad I spent some time trying out Wildstar when I could for free.  I don't think it's for me (as I've descibed in my previous posts), but I believe it is a well designed MMO and I hope it is successful.

Leveling Kantrina has pretty much stalled in Cataclysm.  She is now level 83 and has Pandaria in her sites, but I can't seem to find the time to spend leveling her.  She is still in Mount Hyjal and it looks like she can stay there until she hits level 84 at which point I'll finish leveling her to 85 in Twilight Highlands because I've never spent much time there.

I have added Serpent's Heart to my daily activities and have my Sapphire Cub pet and will keep creating them until I am able to create a Jade Owl, too.  I have been gathering ore in two of my farms for Trillium for the Living Steel transmute, Blacksmithing, Jewelcrafting, and Engineering.  Once I prospect enough Jewels, I plan to use them and gold from auction house sales to build all the Panther mounts.

I find it interesting that my goals are focused on mounts right now (Vial of the Sands, Panther mounts, and Chopper).  I enjoy crafting and they are long term goals that let me avoid LFR which really doesn't appeal to me.  I still hope once Warlords is released I'll be in a better place to join my guild in Flex Raids once a week when they are active.