Monday, December 29, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Trials

Not really related, but I did try out the (a?) glider in Nagrand with my Talbuk
I hope everyone reading had a Merry Christmas and has a Happy New Year!  I did quite a bit these last two weeks.  I hope this doesn't just come off as a list.

I have my 20 Followers on Kanter and can't decide if I want to level my Barracks or replace it with another building so it stays at level 1 for now.   My Salvage Yard finally coughed up some armor for my followers so now I have 3 iLevel 630 followers and they give me better quests including some for more follower gear.  The iLevel 630 quests also give iLevel 640 (?) gear for my character so that's been a nice boost for him.

My first two characters, my hunter and priest were pretty well set.  I knew I was going to use my Druid, Kantree, to instant level to 90 since he had two professions none of my other 90 toons had (leatherwork and skinning).  Once I used the instant level, I had to try out the intro quest and once he had the Garrison, he needed to be able to use the Barn and by that point, it made sense to get him to 92 for the Mine.

By the time Kanter hit 100, I was starting to accumulate a lot of things to be Disenchanted by my enchanter, Kantrina, so I thought I should get him a Garrison, too so I could use the materials and since she is also an Engineer, it only made sense to get the level 2 Garrison so she could start producing the Engineering dailies as well.  Once you have the level 2 garrison, you might as well get to level 92 so you can get the Mine again, right?

At this point my enchanter had used up most of her supplies on the dailies and work orders and I had a surplus of ore to use.  Someone suggested that I could use the ore with a Blacksmith to get more enchanting supplies, so I started leveling my Blacksmith Warrior, Kantro.  Once he had the Forge I could have stopped, but it didn't seem right that my only miner didn't have a mine, so today he reached level 92.  This is what leads to having  five toons with Mines.  I have gone back to leveling my priest who was stuck at level 94 and I'm looking forward to having a level 3 Barn and to try out the Inn with her (assuming I ever learn how to heal).  Right now I'm happy with where my other toons are, but I suspect there will be something that encourages me to do more than the work orders, crafting dailies, mining, and follower missions.  It does take some time just to do that.

I spoke about the stables in my last post and at this point have 7 of the 8 mounts you can get from them (and the Mountain o' Mounts achievement).  I am glad I had vacation because it did take a little while to bring all 6 mounts each day to their next battle.  The battles were not difficult for my hunter though it was odd not having a pet.  Each mount takes between 7 and 12 battles but the way I did them (maybe it's how it always works out), there were always two on the same battle each day so I would have three places to visit each day and the respawns were pretty quick.  If you have a specific item in your pack when you defeat the last of these battles, you also get one more mount, a pretty cool armored pig, so I got that as well.  There is an 8th mount available for completing these battles with another more difficult item in your pack, but I'm in no rush to get it.

I knew if I wanted to go on Heroic Dungeons or raids I would need to complete the Silver Proving grounds achievement, so I started working on it a couple weeks ago.  Leveling a hunter is very easy (after leveling the priest, druid, mage and warrior, I know this well), so I wasn't very well prepared for it.  I first had to figure out the best way to get AOE damage (I needed to put Barrage on my bar and I learned that using multishot causes my pet to do AOE damage, too).  Then it was more a matter of practice.  Learning to move and shoot again.  Learning to interrupt when needed.  Learning to more quickly switch targets.  I play on a laptop and for questing it's fine, but for this I had to move to where I had larger monitor and a mouse rather than just a track pad.  I did eventually get the Silver achievement and went on my first (and only so far) heroic random dungeon.  I thought the trials were pretty effective and I'm sure I'll do better DPS (particularly for AOE) and I'll be more likely to hit interrupts because of it.

Molten Core:
I thought that I would work on the Legendary ring quests this weekend, but one night a few people in my guild said they'd be going to Molten Core so I went along.  I've heard nightmare stories about some of these runs, but this went pretty well.  We did have one point where someone added a second hound pack in the middle of when we were fighting the first and they kept regenerating until someone manufactured a wipe.  Otherwise I think there may have been one other wipe, but after my experiences in Vanilla, this was trivally easy and it was fun to see it again on level.  Yes, I am now a proud owner of a Core Hound Mount more than a week before it'll be done!

It's been a busy week (and yes, I played more than one night this last week ;)).  I still don't have a definite direction.  I would like to work on the Ring quest with Kanter but would rather go with someone in my guild if I can.  I would like to try a Normal raid with the guild as well thought I'm not interested in being good enough to do Heroic or Mythic and I don't want to get in the way.  I'll be interested in leveling my Priest to 100 and then trying the Healing proving grounds.  I mentioned before I had finished Bronze during Pandaria.  Once I get that done, I would like to try to do the daily Inn quests on her, but that means dealing with random groups and I'm not sure how that will go.  I'm still doing the fishing dailies and I'm about half way to getting my level 3 Fishing Shack which will lead to another series of tasks for Nat Pagle.  There is also the Pet Menagerie just sitting there with an available quest and Syl kindly provided a guide for a newbie like me (I think my highest level pet is level 4 and I only did that because my daughter wanted to try it).

I have plenty to keep me busy.

Monday, December 15, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Level 100

Kanter flying on a flight path since no flying otherwise in Draenor

Recently Kanter reached the new max level,100, in World of Warcraft.  As is the case these days, this isn't as much a sign of completion as an ability to start many other things.

Before I go into the future, I want to talk about questing.  I liked the Yrel story as much as I've seen it.  I've done all the quest achievements except for Nagrand and I have no desire to do the 'Bonus Objectives,' areas where you kill so many of different kinds of mobs for a reward.  That said, I liked the Pandaria quests better.  I seem to be in the minority, but I liked the stranger in a strange land setting and I think the time travel is something of a cop out, though I understand why they did it.  More on that in another post if I ever get to it.

The Garrison has a lot to keep me busy, maybe too much.  I feel compelled to get all my herbs and ore every day, along with the daily crafting activities.  Kanter is doing the Alchemy dailies, Kantra, the Tailor and Jewelcrafting ones, and Kantree has just started the Leatherworking ones.  Note that they mostly aren't daily quests just daily activities at the garrison station and daily cooldowns for core crafting components.  That is an improvement from Pandaria:  you don't feel overwhelmed with dozens of dailies once you reach max level.

Kanter picked the Lumber Mill  as his first middle size plot item and harvesting has been happening pretty naturally along with quests.  It does seem to keep my garrison stocked with the supplies I need.  I've only had to wait overnight once to build or expand on a plot.  I'm also looking forward to getting the Follower who works in the Lumber Mill.

When I improved my garrison to level 3, I received three new plots and got the Stables, Trading Post, and Salvage Yard.  I really like that the Stables displays a random set of my mounts every day.  I also like the quests to raise more mounts, but it's becoming too much now with four mounts I'm working on at the same time.  I'd rather they would have serialized them.  You don't have to take all the quests but it'll be difficult for me to not work on all of them and with six to work on, that will be a lot.  The ability to gather while mounted is very helpful and with it and the speed buff at level 3, I don't think I'll ever get rid of it (particularly since I can play with the other buildings on my alts).

The Trading Post has been neutral.  As of now it's just a way to turn gathered ingredients into garrison provisions.  I like the Lumber Yard better for that, but I may eventually not want to wander around and I can get the components her from the Herb Garden and Mine located in the garrison.  The Auction House would be nice to have, but it looks like it won't be easy to get it.

So far, the Salvage Yard has been a bust.  Only some of the garrison quests yield salvage and I haven't gotten anything interesting from it.

I'm also not very happy with the Garrison quests.  I've only tried to solo quest and it seemed too crowded and took too long.  The second time wasn't as bad because there were fewer people, but I still don't like it.  I had the option for a similar quest with the same 800 Apexis Crystal reward at Socretar's Rise but when I completed my quests there, I was only 18% done and couldn't be bothered to grind the rest.

I've always found Fishing to be a relaxing diversion in WoW even though I don't like it in real life.  I'm using the dailies to get my 100 fish of six different types for Draenor Fisherman achievement.  After that, I can work on getting Nat Pagel as a follower.

When I started, I thought I would probably advance my Hunter and Priest close together, but I've been focusing on my Hunter, Kanter, so far, probably a sign that I'm not that interested in group quests.  I would like to have my Mage, Kantrina, have access to the Enchanting and Engineering plots, but I don't have any incentive yet to bring my Warrior since mining isn't an issue with the Garrison mines and nothing is compelling me to get Blacksmithing at this time.

In summary, I'm enjoying Warlords of Draenor, but I'm not sure I'll do much group content.  The Garrison works well integrating a base into the game and the quests have pulled me along, but so far I can't be bothered to gear up for the normal end game content.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Embracing being Casual in Warlords of Draenor

Newly groomed Kanter and Iorek enjoying his Level 2 Garrison

So after some contemplation, I decided 1 week after the release of the Warlords of Draenor (WoD) expansion for World of Warcraft was a reasonable time to wait until I bought it.  I knew I couldn't keep up with others, so buying it early or on the first day seemed to not be acknowledging how I am playing the game.  By waiting a week, I not only missed the issues people were having the first few days (although I did have a queue one time trying to farm) but it let me avoid the rush mentality.  Thanks to Erinys for commenting on my earlier post and letting me know I'm not the only blogger who doesn't have to start on the first day.

At this point I have brought three characters into Draenor.  My Hunter, Kanter, pictured above, was always my first character to do anything and still is the most comfortable character to solo.  He is now level 92, has completed the quest achievement in Shadowmoon Valley, has a level 2 Garrison and is ready to go to Gorgrond.

As I had mentioned previously, I leveled my Druid, Kantree, to 60 so I could use my instant 90 on him and also get a max level (pre-WoD) leatherworker and skinner.  I wanted to see how that worked and let two of my daughters watch as I went through the intro series of quests on him.  My daughters like the new armor, but it was pretty much all replaced during those first few quests.  Also, even though I had reasonable size bags they were all replaced and the content ended up in my mail.  This was a good thing since I didn't need most of it.  One observation, my BoP bags were no longer bound, so I could use them on another character if I wanted to.

When I first took him to Draenor he had the same set of quests as Kanter, but he only started with three abilities.  As we went through the quests, abilities were added three or four at a time.  I didn't see much benefit to this for me and it was rather annoying to only have travel form when the quest chain was almost over.  There was no explanation on how to use the skills at all.  Kantree has his level 1 Garrison with a Leatherworking building and hasn't done much other than send Followers on missions since then.

This does bring up one thing I wish I knew before I started WoD.  After doing the initial quests, I tried to find the profession trainers, even flying back to Stormwind to see if they were there.  It turns out you get the max level gathering (skinning, herbalism, and mining), archaeology, and fishing skills by using them.  For me, they happened within the first few times I used them (certainly it was not more than 5).  The archaeology one came with the first time I built an artifact.  All the other professions (First Aid, Cooking and the other primary profession) came from drops before I hit level 91.

Finally, I've always wanted to try a healer in groups though I've only ever done a few dungeons.  Still, I have started leveling my priest, Kantra, as well and she also has her level 2 garrison with her Tailoring and Jewelcrafting buildings.  Once she hits level 92, she'll go directly to Gorgrond and I'll plan to alter completing zones between the two of them.

I've been having fun with all the new content.  Yrel (a Draenei NPC) is a good conduit to seeing someone stand and grow in response to the Iron Horde and I liked the plot of Shadowmoon Valley.  I don't love the whole time-travel aspect of it (that will probably be another post) but you don't really see any of that as you are playing.  I have been caught up in the garrison mini-game, putting all my followers on missions each time I play.  It has taken my management playtime, so I stopped playing The Tribez that I mentioned in my last post.

I hope all of you who have chosen to play WoD are having fun.  For those of you who aren't, hopefully this gives a little view of what the first few days were like for this casual player.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Other Games While Waiting

Definitely not an MMO
While waiting for Warlords of Draenor to come out and trying to decide when I'll actually buy it, I've been playing other games more.  Now, on the day it has arrived, I figure I'll post about it.

About two months ago, as my time in World of Warcraft was becoming less, I started playing Civilization V again.  I played the original game and Civilization 2 a lot but have only played the others sparingly because each game takes so much time.  I at least finished two games, but it may take too much time for me to really get into it.

I was looking for a game for my cell phone that is more involved than 2048 or Sudoku and Tobald mention The Tribez as an aside in one of his posts, so I decided to try it.  As a typically city builder, there are built in delays on how often you can do things, so it works as a two to three times a day game and has a minor plot and quests to keep you working on goals.  However, like many of these games, the time increases as your cities grow and the goals take longer to reach.  I'm still playing, but as some point soon I might decide that it is more of a chore than fun.  The free to play model is very fair.  I've thought about paying to speed up some things, but never have and don't feel any real need to do it.

I downloaded Plants vs Zombies soon after I got my original Kindle Fire and eventually played through 'Doctor Zomboss' and stopped.  My youngest daughter discovered it and youtube 'Let's Play' videos about it and it got me interested again.  A relatively basic tower defense game where most of the levels are not too difficult but they throw in ones where you can only use the plants they provide which can sometimes be impossible based on what you get first.  Still, it is enough fun that I've played through it again, on my second, more difficult fight against Doctor Zomboss and playing with the mini-games.

Finally, I picked up 'Cook, Serve, Delicious' on a recent Steam sale for $5.  I had read some blog posts about it (I wish I could find them) where people were having fun playing it together.  It requires you to press specific buttons in a sequence to cook food and perform other tasks like cleaning the dishes.  During 'Rush Hour' it's fast enough that I can't get them all done correctly, but it's amazing how the muscle memory forms.  I haven't played it that much yet, but it has a real 'just one more turn' hook and was a game I stayed up too long one night playing which is a recommendation in my book.

For all of you playing Warlords of Draenor, have fun!  I'm still behind on reading my news feed but I'll be interested to hear your impressions and will be there eventually.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New Expansion Malaise

The bank and bags were almost full 2 seconds earlier!
The time just before an expansion should be exciting.  All that new content just around the corner when there have been so few changes for so long.  For me, that hasn't been the case since Burning Crusade.  In fact, for every World of Warcraft expansion since then, I took a break at the beginning of the expansions before burning through the content rather than afterwards.

As a casual gamer, I know I can't keep up with the people who quickly level their characters so they can get to the max level content.  I'm fine with that.  I remember joking with someone that it took me three weeks to level my first character while it took him three days in Burning Crusade.  However, even though I am OK with the amount of time I have to play computer games most of the time, it is difficult not to get caught up in the excitement when an expansion comes out.

This is why I took a break just before Wrath of the Lich King came out.  I knew I had been playing more than I should and I knew I'd just want to play more if I got the expansion.  I was able to enjoy that break and bought the expansion when the price came down and enjoyed it without experiencing much of the end game content.  When Cataclysm came out, I thought I had developed the right balance and bought the expansion right away, but almost immediately unsubscribed when I wanted to play more than I could.  That led to my decision with Mists of Pandaria to look for a more casual friendly game and then to wait again until the price came down and enjoy the leveling and other parts of the game like professions.

A month ago I was of the opinion that with the new Flex raids, I would get the expansion at the start, go through my normal casual leveling pace, and still enjoy a weekly casual raid with my guild.  Now that the pre-patch is out, I'm finding I don't want to play and really have very mixed feelings about getting the expansion at the beginning.

This malaise has caused me to play very little and not post for almost three weeks.  I've also almost stopped reading blog posts as well, something that I normally really enjoy.  I played through the pre-patch quests on one character, looked at all the new models (I'm fine with my Dwarfs, Humans, Night Elves and Draenei, but I had to change my gnome and still wish I could find one as cute as she was pre-patch), and found the magic of larger stacks and the resource tab button that creates huge amounts of bag and bank space.

Ironically this makes it easier for me to quit, because as a pack rat, I normally have many mails being sent between characters containing all the food and crafting materials I don't have a need for but can't bring myself to sell.  Now with the guild bank space in my new personal guild and all the extra bag and bank space, I've already retrieved most of my mails and it'll be easy to get the rest without having to make any hard decisions about what to sell.

As a non-MMO player, my wife would like to get me the expansion as a Christmas present, and thinks it would be something fun to look forward to.  As an MMO player, I know that'll mean several weeks getting even further behind other players and, more importantly, missing out on the excitement of the first few days and weeks.  With the way I'm feeling now, I'm not sure that it won't be more frustrating than enjoyable if I get the expansion and that therefore it would be better to wait.  I'm sure there will be a lot of casual players who will get the expansion as Christmas presents, so why shouldn't I do that as well.

I don't know what I'll decide to do, but this is why I started this blog:  to talk through the conflicts of being a casual player who is still very interested in computer games, particularly MMORPGs.

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Loremaster of Northrend

Avatar of Freya zapping out flowers to kill the Scourge while Kintri looks on
The Loremaster achievements in World of Warcraft are an obvious one for a casual player who likes to quest.  Finish (almost) all the quests in a zone and get an achievement, complete it for all the zones in an expansion or continent and get a meta-achievement and finish them all for all expansions and continents and get a meta-meta-achievement.

This probably would have been doable for me except they didn't start until the Wrath of the Lich King pre-patch came out so you didn't get credit for most things you did before then.  It is one thing to do the quests as they come out and another to go back and re-do quests to get an achievement.  In any case, I find it convenient because it tells me what quests I haven't seen completely, so I can go back and see it with my alts as I bring them up.

As I mentioned a few times already, the last zone I needed in Wrath was 'Sholazar Basin.'  I'm not at sure why I hadn't done this zone up until now.  I had done a lot of it with Kanter, my hunter, since I wanted to get the toys you can get with Oracle reputation there.  Once Kintri, my Death Knight, hit level 75 and was able to level her Inscription profession, her next goal was to finish Sholazar Basin to get the Into the Basin achievement which would yield me the Loremaster of Northrend achievement.  That is what I did over the last two weeks.

There are three major threads in Sholazar Basin:
1. Nesingwary's Safari, which was also in the original game and Burning Crusade,
2. The conflict between the Oracles and the Frenzyheart Tribe and
3. The guardians left by the Titans fighting back the scourge with Freya above being the most obvious manifestation.

The starter quest from Dalaran sends you to Nesingwary's Safari and so it's the first set of quests you do though they all get interspersed.  As in the other two continents, these are primarily a kill a bunch of animals to get some quest to kill some special animals.  These do get a little repetitive, but there is enough humor thrown in to keep it interesting.  The final quest was the best, even if I didn't complete it as I was supposed to.  Wrath was the expansion where they introduced the ability to ride special vehicles for quests and in this one you get to ride an mammoth with Nesingwary aboard and use it to help kill a dragon.  The whole theme of capturing a mother dragon's babies in order to be able to kill the dragon makes me uncomfortable, but it was kind of fun to run around on the mammoth trying to lead the dragon onto traps.  I actually didn't realize Hemet Nesingwary was dropping traps until too late, so the mammoth died and I had to fight the elite the rest of the way without her help.  Fortunately, I was a little over-level by this point and Death Knights are strong even though I don't know what I'm doing with her, so I was able to finish her off pretty easily.  This also netted me the Hemet Nesingwary:  The Collected Quests meta achievement for finishing all three sets of quests.

The Oracles and the Frenzyheart Tribe are both pretty adorable and amusing so their quests are fun.  I do remember it getting a little repetitive doing the Oracle quests with Kanter so I could get the toys, but when you are just going through the opening sets of quests, it is fun to play both sides.  The Oracles are the 'better' side since they want peace and are trying to get along, but the Frenzyheart are a lot of fun with their proud attitude.  At the end of the quest line in order to kill a boss you have to either kill the Oracle or Frenzyheart with him.  The one that remains makes you honored with that faction and hated by the other.  Since I was already revered with the Oracles on Kanter, I chose Frenyheart for Kintri, but it doesn't really matter unless I eventually decide I want to get the exalted reputation achievement.

Once I finished those quests I was only a few quests away from having the Into the Basin achievement and finished that with some quests helping Freya with the Scourge.  Those quests also got me to level 80 as well, so it was actually a pretty nice way to get the last four levels in Northrend to be ready for the Cataclysm zones.  Freya eventually sends you to Un'goro crater in Kalimdor and if you weren't already aware of the similarity of the two zones, they make sure you get it.  I actually didn't have to do that quest to get the achievement and I'm pretty sure I already did it on Kanter, but I'll do it again to see the ending.

Now the question is what to do next.  My guildmate is pretty confident the pre-expansion patch will drop in the next two weeks and that makes sense, so I don't want to do anything that takes too long.  I could work on getting the Silver Healing Proving Grounds achievement, but it's going to change significantly with Warlords, so it seems like a waste of time.  I could try to take Kintri through Cataclysm so I'll have a max level in every profession, but I don't think I can bring myself to do those quests again after having taken Kantrina and Kantro through them recently.  Also, it'll take a long time to get my other five toons to use their professions in Warlords, so who knows when I'll get to the last one.  I could try to get some more mounts.  I'm close to 100 at this point.  I could finish off the Draenor starting quests with my shaman, since it seems a shame I haven't seen them all.  The fact that Wilhelm named it the worst zone in World of Warcraft isn't exactly encouraging but it should be pretty easy to get done it two weeks.  What to do.  I could just take two weeks off and only do my farm when I feel like it.  There will be plenty to do soon.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Cannot Be Tamed Gaming Questionnaire

I'm not sure, but I believe this is what I play Pong on for my first video game.
As if often the case, I'm way behind the times, but I saw a number of interesting answers to the 'Cannot Be Tamed' questionnaire, so I thought I'd finally add my answers to the mix.

1. When did you start playing video games?
I would guess I was in 4th or 5th grade, so 9 or 10 years old.
2. What is the first game you remember playing?
I think this is supposed to be the first video game based on the rest of the questions.  My father bought us a 'Pong' clone.  I know it had pong, a hockey game (with two paddles for each side) and a game where you just hit the 'ball' against the wall and had different levels, so I think it was the one pictured above.
3. PC or Console? 
PC almost exclusively.  I played a Playstation 2 and SNES some but I'm two generations behind now.  My children are getting old enough that they are playing on Nintendo 3DS now and I'm thinking about getting a Playstation 3 to play with them.
4. XBox, PlayStation, or Wii? 
Based on the answer above it's difficult to say.  I guess since I'm more likely to get a Playstation 3 than a Wii or XBox, I'll go with PlayStation.
5. What’s the best game you’ve ever played?
Civilization 2.  I played it over and over again and the improvements over the original Civilization were significant. 
6. What’s the worst game you’ve ever played?
I'm tend to forget things that are bad (even those that are good, too, sometimes).  I also never played tons of games, so I tend to look at reviews before I get them.  I'm sure I played some bad ones, but don't remember them now.
7. Name a game that was popular/critically adored that you just didn't like.
I've tried the Elderscroll games (at least Daggerfall and Morrowind, and maybe others) and never could get into them.
8. Name a game that was poorly received that you really like.
As stated above, I tend to be pretty picky about my games and don't play many that are poorly received.
9. What are your favourite game genres?
RPGs and turned-based 4X strategy games are the ones I've played the most.
10. Who is your favourite game protagonist?
I am going to steal my answers from someone else and say myself.  Typically in the games I play, I am the protagonist.
11. Describe your perfect video game.
It would both have an interesting story and have a lot of different ways to play it so I wouldn't get bored once the story is done.
12. What video game character do have you have a crush on?
I've had crushes on people in books, but never in a video game.
13. What game has the best music? 
I usually turn off the music to keep from disturbing my wife.  I know she will always remember the music from Warlords 2 and 3 because she still repeats it to me.
14. Most memorable moment in a game:
I still remember when I participated with my guild to kill Princess Huhuran for the first time.  I never was a core raider and this is one of the only times I helped in a first kill for our guild.
15. Scariest moment in a game:
I don't usually play scary games.  I guess you can qualify those situations in question 16.
16. Most heart-wrenching moment in a game:
There have been a couple of times when I've either wiped are almost wiped a raid.  It is an awful feeling even though my guild is generally kind.
17. What are your favourite websites/blogs about games?
I still use Wowhead a lot, but I enjoy reading blogs more than any official gaming site.  May I refer you to my blogroll to the right on my blog?
18. What’s the last game you finished? 
I just recently finished a game of Civilization V.
19. What future releases are you most excited about? 
I will probably eventually get Civilization Beyond Earth, but I'll wait until it goes a pretty good sale.  I played Alpha Centauri a lot.  (Do I sense a theme here?)
20. Do you identify as a gamer?
Yes, possibly more so since it has been pulled through the mud recently with Gamergate.  I think we need to make sure it is defined in a broad sense by those who enjoy playing video games and not by a small number who want to exclude others.
21. Why do you play video games? 
It something I can do either with myself or with others that I enjoy and gets my away from my real life.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Done with Dragonblight (almost)

Revisiting the Kalu'ak with my Death Knight
I didn't accomplish a lot in the last week, but I did reach my goal of level 75 on my Death Knight, Kintri in Dragonblight in World of Warcraft.  Looking at Wowhead it showed that Sholazar Basin is level 75-80, so I thought I'd reach level 75, go back to Dalaran and Stormwind, level my First Aid, Herbalism and Inscription up to Cataclysm levels and then head on to Sholazar Basin to finish up my Loremaster achievement for Northrend.  I did level my professions and I always find pleasure in doing that, even if it is relatively mindless.  However, it didn't work out like I expected because when I looked up the introductory quest for Sholazar Basin (near the Flight path in Dalaran), it required level 76.  So, I've decided to return to Dragonblight this week to get to level 76.  I'm not sure if I'll start Sholazar Basin yet, but I'm pretty sure that'll be my next goal.

So what did I do?  Pretty much the quests in Star's Rest and Moa'ki Harbor.  Star's Rest works pretty well as a quest hub.  There is another confrontation with someone talking to the shadow of the Lich King, just to keep our minds on the end goal, but it was generally your regular collection of kill, gather and visit quests.

I like Moa'ki Harbor more, which is good because it was one of the three quest hubs for the Tuskarrmageddon achievement that I finished with Kanter, my hunter, so I visited it a lot during Wrath.  As a pretty regular fisherman, I coveted (and eventually purchased) the Mastercraft Kalu'ak Fishing Pole, not just for the 30 additional fishing skill, but also the ability to breath underwater.  With it and the Reins of the Water Strider and the Angler's Fishing Raft from Anglers Reputation in Mists I have the option to swim under water, walk on the water/land, or raft of the water and fish.  These little things make me happy.

There is something very pleasant for me about the Walrus-like Kalu'ak.  I generally like animal races, but, also, in all their quests they just seem very centered.  I always feel uncomfortable with the repeatable quest to gather Snowfall Glade Pups and I had to do it many times to reach exalted with the Kalu'ak.  Yes, they try to justify it with saying that they are saving the pups, but killing their elders to take them away just seems wrong.

So that was this weeks brief visit to Dragonblight.  I should reach my goal for level 76 there next week and possibly I'll start working on Sholazar Basin.  I don't mind the thought of leveling to 80 in Northrend, but the thought of getting to level 85 so I can reach max level in my professions doesn't seem like fun at all.  I guess that says something about my experience with the Cataclysm questing zones.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Ready to Boost

Brief visit back to Silithus
I remember spending a lot of time in Silithus in World of Warcraft getting Nature Protection gear and gathering Silithid Carapase Fragments for our guild.  It is a zone that changed very little with Cataclysm, which gives it a stronger sense of nostalgia than many of the zones I visited. 

To go back to where I left off, I completed the demon killing quest line in the Blasted Lands which included a visit to the Altar of Storms.  I remember seeing it on flights, but I had never done this quest line, so it was interesting to finally see why it was there and overall it was fun even if there was a lot of back and forth to the quest giver in a cave.  Surwich was a very odd addition to the zone.  It added a very different appearance and a totally separate quest line about a misguided druid to the zone that had been pretty consistent up to that point.  I received my zone achievement before I completed the quests but I went ahead and completed them so I could see the end of that quest line.  I will avoid the Surwich quest if I ever come back again.

Once I finished the Blasted Lands I was almost at 60 and the easy thing to do would have been to take the portal to Outland and finish up there.  However, I decided to use my Moonglade portal (given to all druids), take the long flight to Un'Goro Crater and then run to Silithus from there.  In Silithus was nice to have the same quests and quest givers that I remembered, but the first quests are quite a grind and some people were wiping out the Twilight Geolords almost as soon as they appeared.  After a few pack and forth trips, during which I hit level 60, they left and I was able to complete the early quest lines.  Still, like in the Blasted Lands, it was nice to see a busy zone.

One thing I noticed is that when I reached level 58, Flight form appeared, but since I was still in Azeroth, it required a Flight Master's License to use it.  This is another incentive (at least for druids) to visit Outland right away, but I am still much more interested in seeing the post Cataclysm quests than the early Outland quests that I've done 5 times before.

Now I'm ready to use my Level 90 Boost, but I'm still not sure when I will buy the Warlords of Draenor expansion.  I don't particularly want to have a 5th farm and I plan to take my priest and hunter into Draenor first, so I'll keep my money until anticipation gets the best of me.

With that primary objective accomplished I started leveling my death knight, Kinter, in the Borean Tundra in Northrend so I can use his Inscription profession.  This is my fourth time doing those quests, but they are some of the best quests in World of Warcraft.  Once I hit level 73, the mobs turned green (less experience), so I went to Dragonblight, another great zones for quests.  I look forward to making it to level 75 there and then I'll be ready to finish the quests in Sholazar Basin, the last I will need for my Loremaster in Northrend.

That will give me 3 out of the six Loremaster achievements, but I don't see myself ever finishing Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms.  It says something about persistence as well as the ease of leveling that a casual player like me will soon have 5 max level characters and another in her 70s.  I have considered leveling both my shaman and a monk, since I know little of those classes, but I, like most of the other World of Warcraft players, am ready for something different now.  Bring on the Warlords.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Week in an MMO Life: Catching up

It is nice having others playing, but can't you loot the corpses?

I haven't been posting much and I'm not sure why.  In any case, the good news (if you are me and want to write or if you want to read what I'm writing) is that I have three more posts in process.  I wonder if having more to read has meant less time to write.  In any case, in honor of the end of Blaugust (and Labor Day holidays), you get two posts in three days.  Congratulations to all those who participated!

Be the Cat

For the last few weeks my focus has been leveling my Druid, Kantree, in World of Warcraft to 60 so I use my instant 90 and have a max level Leatherworker (and Skinner) but only to do it when I am rested.  When I spoke about this last I had just started Feralas, which had been one of my favorite zones, and since then I've done the full Feralas, Thousand Needles, and Ungoro Crater zones and I'm about half way through Blasted Lands at level 58.

After being impressed with the changes in earlier zones, I was disappointed to see that the Sprite Darter quest series is gone in Feralas.  Overall, I guess there was more continuity to the zone, but that quest chain was one of my favorites and I like the old Feathermoon Island that is also no longer an Alliance town.  I spent many days fishing there in Vanilla and it's just not the same.  

Thousand Needles had probably the biggest change in any zone when the Cataclysm happened since it's flooded now.  However, I think the changes are good.  The earlier race track quests were amusing and I remember enjoying the griffin ones in the other area, but they were totally disconnected from each other and not very long.  The new set of quests gives you a boat to travel around in  (unfortuately, it only works in Thousand Needles) and I found it entertaining even if the quests were rather spread out.

The quests in Ungoro Crater seem very similar to what I remember when I leveled my warrior there during Burning Crusade.  That is probably a good thing, since they were fun then as well.  There is again a little more continuity and you get to turn into different creatures including a dinosaur (that someone used to kill one of the quest givers when I was trying to turn in a quest).  Fun zone!

I was amazed at how busy Blasted Lands were when I started questing there.  As a skinner, it was nice having all the extra skins to gather though it seemed like often times people wouldn't loot the corpses (as was the case in the screen shot above).  So far I've been enjoying it and I've been amazed it is so busy, but not so busy that it is difficult to complete the quests.  Anyone know why?  In any case, I'll reserve judgment until the end.   So far I've liked all the quest changes except for Feralas.

Death Knight Easy Mode

When I wanted to play and my rested buff hadn't built up on my Druid, I have been leveling my Death Knight, Kintri from 65 to 72.  I'd like to get her at least to 75 before Warlords of Draenor since she is my only character who has Inscription and I've built up many Inks and Herbs for her to use.  While I feel like I've learned my cat form while leveling up my druid, for my Frost Death Knight I just press one of three (now four) keys, which ever are available with an effort to hit them when they are lit up.  I guess I should look to see what they and others do, but things die so quickly with this method that there isn't any incentive to do it.

It says something that I don't remember most of the leveling I did from 65 to 70.  I did spend 68-70 leveling in Netherstorm since it is the only area in Outland that I haven't completed.  Now that I've switched to Borean Tundra in Northrend I am enjoying myself more.  I'll keep playing here until the quests or mobs turn green (less experience).  I'm not sure where I'll level except that I must do Sholazar Basin (once I get to the right level) since it is the only zone in Northrend where I don't have the quest achievement.


So I'm pretty close on my immediate goals of getting my Druid to 60 and my Death Knight to 75.  I'm not sure what I'll do next.  I might try to learn healing on my Priest, but that might be too much work.  I'm very close to having 100 mounts so that should be an obtainable goal.  Any suggestions?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

One Night in Final Fantasy XIV

Near one of the 'portals' in Final Fantasy XIV
Initially when I start this blog, I spent a day playing several games trying to figure out if they were right for me.  I spent some  time playing Lord of the Rings Online before returning to World of Warcraft and playing it since then.  However, I still want to try out new games in my casual style.  I did it recently with Wildstar and when Final Fantasy XIV (FF XIV) offered two weeks to play for free, I decided to try it for a night and see what it was like.  Belghast was an influence since he's been talking about the game a lot recently.

Typically when I do this, it is a day or two after I played, but I became sick the day after I played the game and now, three weeks later I'm coming to write my post (and it was four weeks until I actually finished it).  I apologize in advance that it will be my impressions vague than I'd like them to be.

Some background first:  For someone who has played video and computer games since the 70s and has played a lot of RPGs, it is somewhat surprising I've never played any of the Final Fantasy games.  I have watched others play them briefly, but I wasn't ever really a console gamer so they weren't really an option for me until recently.

Character creation

I created two characters.  The first was a Hyur, the 'human' option.  The second was a Miqo'te (don't ask me how that is pronounced), the 'cat-girl' option for my daughter.  In both cases, there were two branches that had slightly different appearance choices and quite a lot of options.  There were a few options that changed your appearance significantly like hairstyle, but others seemed to be very similar.

There was a 'magic' and 'not magic' option for class and then under those were a lot of options.  Some classes didn't seem to be very different.  I just picked a melee DPS class for my first character since that is usually the easiest option.


I picked Limsa Lominsa to start in.  There was a little intro video with a fellow traveller that tells you something about the game.  It was better than just be thrown into the game but not very exciting.  When I started my second character with my daughter in Gridania, the same traveller was there giving me information about the new location.

There was no question about what you were expected to do.  At first there were a lot of non-combat quests that allowed you to familiarize yourself with the controls and the city (which was rather large) before you got combat quests outside the city.  Even in the very first locations there were 'FATEs'.  FATEs are FF XIV version of dynamic events.  I participated in two of them, but they just seemed like a way to focus grinding.  I guess if you don't like the quests they are better than just grinding on your own, but I preferred questing.  Combat was responsive and I never felt like the controls or performance got in the way.


When I wrote my other reviews, I had an older desktop and performance was a definite concern.  Now I have a gaming laptop and while it isn't bleeding edge, it doesn't seem to be an issue for most games.  In any case, I had no issues with performance in FF XIV.  Along with the quests and the combat, everything ran smoothly, indicative of a well optimized game, not something that could always be assumed for MMOs.

Overall impressions

I enjoyed my time, but didn't think it was the game for me.  I was impressed with how polished the game seemed to be.  I wasn't able to get into the secondary aspects of the game like crafting that I enjoy, but if the main gameplay doesn't grab me, those won't be enough to keep me playing.  The art style, though beautiful, isn't my favorite.  I prefer more the cartoon-like characters in World of Warcraft of Wildstar.  If you played many of the Final Fantasy games, I could see how it could be nice to revisit some of the common tropes of those games, but I didn't have that incentive and I don't see myself picking it up again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Year 10 Questions

The Godmother on ALT:ernative Chat, in preparation for the 10 year anniversary of World of Warcraft, has asked people to answer the following questions about World of Warcraft.  As usual, I'm a little bit behind, but my answers are below.  You can find other responses at this link from ALT:ernative Chat.

1. Why did you start playing Warcraft?
I have been playing computer role playing games since the 80s and had read about Ultima Online and Everquest, but never decided to play them.  After reading about World of Warcraft in Computer Gaming World, I decided I like to try it out (this was still during the beta test).  I found a guild (I think on a Blizzard forum, but I'm not sure), joined the guild and the beta.  I even went to my local Gamestop and picked it up at midnight rushed back and help my guildmaster create the guild.
2. What was the first ever character you rolled?

My first character (from beta) and still my main character is a dwarven hunter, Kanter.  I had decided I like playing dwarves in Warlords and I couldn't pass up the chance to have an animal fight by my side.  I also still primarily fight with my bear companion, Iorek, I picked up at level 10.3. Which factors determined your faction choice in game?
Since I wanted to be a dwarf, I didn't have a choice.  Also the guild I joined was primarily playing on the Alliance side.4. What has been your most memorable moment in Warcraft and why?
As a casual player, I'm not sure I have a favorite moment.  One of my few end game raiding experiences was in AQ40.  We spent a lot of time gathering nature resistant gear for Princess Huhuran and I remember clearing working in our semi-circle (to minimize splash damage) until she finally fell.  She had the best Hunter weapon at the time (Huhuran's Stinger, which I still have) and it is the one thing someone whispered me to ask me about.5. What is your favourite aspect of the game and has this always been the case?
I like being able to do a variety of activities.  I like the lore.  I like professions.  I like questing.  I don't like doing LFD or LFR, but I do enjoy group activities with my guild and I'm hoping I can do it again with WoD.
6. Do you have an area in game that you always return to?

I enjoyed exploring in Feralas and I completed the Sprite Darter Hatchling quest chain on four different characters there.  Sadly, the quest doesn't exist any more (though the Hatchling does).  I also remember running to Feathermoon Island as an underlevel character because it was where the only max level Alchemy trainer was.  When I got there, I was too low level to learn it, but it was a fun adventure and at least I had the flight point.
7. How long have you /played and has that been continuous?

I have 125 days on my main character but I also have 3 other level 90 characters I haven't used the instant level 90 yet, so let's just say it's significantly more than that.  I have taken breaks of several months in all the expansions since BC (so three breaks).
8. Admit it: do you read quest text or not?

I usually read the quest text, but not always.  Right now I'm trying to level a druid to 60 and sometimes I just want to get on with it.
9. Are there any regrets from your time in game?

There was a time, particularly during Burning Crusade, when I played too much and it interfered with my homelife (see below).
10. What effect has Warcraft had on your life outside gaming?

Particularly during Burning Crusade, but also during Vanilla, I was playing too much and it interfered with my family responsibilities.  I took several long breaks so it I wouldn't get too involved and I think I have found a balance now.  This blog (MMO One Night a Week) was part of trying to find a way to play an MMO without letting it take too much time.

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.