The Joys of Not Knowing Everything

As I mentioned before I haven’t really been following all the Warlords of Draenor alpha stuff but just based off my Twitter feed and a few blogs the information has been flowing fast and furious, to the point where someone even set up a simulated server with the alpha client so they could take in-game screenshots.

Yikes.

WoW has had a tradition of providing almost complete access to data from the moment it launched, and to a degree that was unheard of in previous MMOs. And while I appreciate that folks are excited for new information and guide writers and theorycrafters love these heady few months, I can’t help but feel that all this transparency is a curse more than a blessing.

One of the things that many folks, myself included, enjoy(ed) about MMOs is the feeling of a virtual world. And clearly there are relative levels of immersion — I’m fine with achievements in my virutal world, for example, while Syl thinks they detract from her experience (which is totally valid). But man, it is hard to keep any sense of wonder when you already know everything, from where to find certain critters to how to quickly gain reputation to exactly how much damage you do with each hit.

I think we got to this point with the best of intentions. Blizzard was (and probably still is?) full of nerds, and as a fellow nerd I can appreciate a love of numbers, systems, and transparency. The unprecedented access to information thanks to LUA and add-ons is an extremely cool concept, but one that has also helped to break down the perception of MMOs from virtual worlds to a series of systems even faster than usual.

And really, a lot of the current MMO “elitism” between players can be traced back to this abundance of information. After all, when it’s possible to Google a bit to find the math for an optimum rotation, or just Ask Mister Robot to tell you what gear you should be wearing, why shouldn’t we expect Joe Random in our LFRs to meet a high standard of performance? Look it up, man, and stop being a bad.

I don’t blame people for being starved for content in a pre-expansion drought, and this is probably just my new filthy casual attitude talking, but it’s nice to not know everything in a game. Online resources are inevitable, but I kind of miss the days when things were crowd-sourced from players and not just mined dry out of a binary months before a game even launches.

It you have felt a bit of the magic wear off MMOs lately, I encourage you to just play the game, discover things, and enjoy the newness. Thanks to the leisurely expansion schedule of Blizzard and other developers (seriously, this always happens) we will have pleeeeeenty of time to explore and catalog every last inch of every last feature.

Making Gold in WoW: 2014 so far
Apr03

Making Gold in WoW: 2014 so far

As I’ve mentioned before one of the things I love to do in MMOs is use the auction house to make my fortune. There are a few reasons for this — I genuinely enjoy activities that might require spreadsheets, and as someone who budgets fiercely in real life I like being a shopaholic in my games.

At the same time, I’m kind of lazy. Daily quests are a total drag, and farming seems like a lot of effort for little return. I don’t have the time or dedication to play the undercut game 8 times a day on super volatile markets. Instead I have focused my efforts on two things: flipping transmog gear and selling top shelf glyphs.

(Nothing I say below will be surprising for experienced gold makers!)

Flipping Transmog Gear

Transmog gear is a huge market. Huuuuuuge. It seems like most players don’t keep tabs on AH price history (probably not surprising) and will happily post all the green items in their bag for a couple of gold a piece.

Now, dear reader, I will impart upon you the one thing that will let you generate hundreds if not thousands of gold every day. Are you ready? Get a pen! …. It’s this link, only for your own server and faction. Buy cheap things, flip at average market price. That’s it!

Tips: Transmog is all about cosmetics, so don’t buy deals that you can’t see, like necklaces and trinkets. Also I don’t buy level 90 epics even if they’re on the deal page because the market history is just too unstable for that kind of investment.

Tip #2: The more a pair of pants looks like a thong, the more someone will pay for them.

Results: When there is good stuff to snap up, you will make the big bucks. Unfortunately some days everyone has priced their stuff correctly (jerks!) so your inventory levels will vary.

Top Shelf Glyphs

Players can make gold by the wheelbarrow load by dominating the bulk glyph business, but that requires a considerable amount of time and effort. Instead, I prefer to just focus on the biggest and most profitable glyphs. Every time I use the auction house I do a quick scan for cheap herbs (usually less than 50% of the average market price according to TSM) and mail them off to my monk.

Then every few days I log her on and turn all herbs into dust and all dust into inks. I use TSM to identify glyphs where I will make at least 50 gold over crafting cost, and queue up one of each. Craft, mail to my AH bot, done.

Results: My glypher is only level 60 and so doesn’t know many of the high level recipes yet, but I still make roughly 500 gold a day from this.

The overall result of the above two gold-making methods is about 8-10 hours of effort each month for 30,000 gold.

Shopping!

Of course the best part of making fake game money is spending it, baby! Back in January I bought a Onyx Panther and it has quickly become the mount I use the most. There’s just something really pleasing in a tactile way about it — I’m not sure if it’s the way it moves or responsiveness, but the mount feels fun to ride.

yak 500x466 Making Gold in WoW: 2014 so far

picture from WoWHead

After that I saved my gold for three months to buy a certain someone a Grand Expedition Yak for their birthday. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see one up close yet (they are sold by a Grummle vendor for 106,000 gold), it’s a pretty amazing mount. It comes with nice graphical touches like a parasol and a lucky cat statue, along with a reforger and a vendor NPC who can be thrown off in favor of carrying around two friends. The vendor even sells Tomes of the Clear Mind for a few silver a piece, which is much better than the 8-10g you’d spend on the AH.

I may get one myself in the future, but right now I’m focused on building back up the coffers and throwing gold at levelling up engineering and inscription on alts.

Let Me Show You My Transmog
Mar04

Let Me Show You My Transmog

Until recently one of the many new things in WoW that I hadn’t gotten around to really trying yet was transmogrification, which is Blizzard’s ridiculous way of saying “costume wardrobe”. I mean, I sort of tried it by quickly farming up a set of replica Devout and grabbing my Benediction out of the bank, but outside of tier sets I hadn’t really sat down and explored all the possibilities.

(By the way, Blizzard, I will never truly forgive you for introducing a costume feature this late in the game well after I tossed a bunch of my amazing Vanilla gear for bank space. Grr!)

However, for some reason I decided to install the Mog It mod on Sunday night, and suddenly a whole world of wardrobe options opened up before me. And while there are in fact a satisfactory number of hats and staves and things, I still have some big critiques of the whole transmog system:

1) Restricting costume gear to armor class is goofy. If it’s a PvP thing then make transmogs not visible in a battleground or arena! There is no good reason why my priest can’t dress up like a shaman, dang it.

2) There are very notable fun items not available for transmog. Why can’t I wear a .? Why can’t I transmog a mace into the . that my guild worked very hard on in Wrath and now will sit in my bank forever?

3) I don’t like the system of assigning a specific piece of gear a specific look. It’s a pain to manage, particularly if you’re still levelling/gearing up a character. I understand that this was done to improve the gold sink aspect, but I would much prefer paying to assign a specific look to a specific gear slot.

4) Dye. I want it. This is probably technically impossible, but I am making crazy demands for it anyway!

I often find myself saying to WoW guildies, “this quality of life feature was handled way better in RIFT”, but .. yeah, costumes were way better in RIFT. That all being said, I have an outfit!

2014 03 04 00 44 09 World of Warcraft Let Me Show You My Transmog

2014 03 04 00 45 13 World of Warcraft Let Me Show You My Transmog

Head: Aurora of Transcendence
Far and away my favorite priest hat ever.

Shoulders: .
These were my third choice for shoulders (first is too rare a drop, second doesn’t exist in-game anymore), but I like the flowy cloth bits.

Chest: .
This shirt is great! I farmed Stockades for about an hour to get it.

Gloves: .
The gloves I really want are sold by the Ebon Blade but apparently transferring factions means I no longer get phased with the quartermaster. Argh.

Belt: .
A chance drop while farming Stockades for the shirt, but it matches the skirt!

Skirt: .
A hint of Devout, of course. These show up pretty frequently in the AH and saved me the farm time.

Staff: .
I’ve never figured out what this staff is supposed to be. A flower in a strong breeze? A piece of seaweed that was run over? Whatever, it matches the color scheme perfectly and doesn’t overpower the hat.

Adventures in WoW: Sunday night turtle festival
Feb25

Adventures in WoW: Sunday night turtle festival

I definitely go through phases in my gaming (like most people I suspect), and this past week it has been all Warcraft, all the time in the Liore household.

I know some of my friends who used to play WoW are pretty sceptical about returning to it and I don’t blame them. There are a lot of things still in the game from the bad old days like slow content updates, uninspired kill 10 rats quests, and idiots ranting about gear ilevels in trade chat. (Trade Chat: terrible for almost 10 years.)

But I also genuinely think that Blizzard has added some pretty cool things to the game in Mists of Pandaria. The introduction of flex raids is a good example of that, and cross-realm grouping. Account-wide pets and mounts are great, and they’re finally merging servers. Occasionally they surprise even me with their focus on the little things.

I was flying around the Krasarang Wilds in Pandaria on Sunday night doing quests to make Nat Pagel be my friend (I am a sucker who wants a kite mount) when I discovered a big turtle statue and a Pandaran NPC who told me to come back in an hour for the “Wanderer’s Festival”. Who am I to deny the requests of random pandas?

turtlefestival 500x296 Adventures in WoW: Sunday night turtle festival

screenshot from WoWHead

I returned at 11pm PST, and the festival began! First floating lamps appeared along the shore. Then a bunch of Pandaran showed up, including a few familiar faces, and they built bonfires and danced. There were fireworks, and a mass spawn of rare level 23 turtle pets.

I even got an achievement for being present: .

Apparently the Festival takes place every Sunday night between 9 and 11pm PST. It was just a small thing — the party was over in 15 minutes and as my battle pets are only level 6 I couldn’t personally get a turtle.

That didn’t matter to me though! I got to stumble on a little event and see things I don’t expect in this game. It’s nice to see Blizzard trying different things and throwing in little surprises for those who look for them.

It’s Okay to Insta-level (WoW)

In what was probably a mistake, earlier today the live WoW servers briefly displayed a price for automatically levelling a character to 90, and that price was $60. While $60 seems too steep to me, everything is still up in the air and it doesn’t seem worth the effort to get too upset (or too happy) about that number right now.

What did stand out to me was a number of tweets with variations of the argument that $60 is a high enough price point to discourage players from using it “too much”. To be fair I get a little shirty around any authority (you can’t tell me what to do!!), but I kind of bridle at the idea that Blizzard is pricing this service to help save us from ourselves.

First, I don’t think it’s true. Blizzard knows they have a game full of people willing to spend $25 on a horse or a costume hat, and pricing something high to limit sales is pretty counter-intuitive in today’s markets. It seems far more likely that they would price it as high as people will still pay.

But aside from that, I guess I just don’t understand why some feel we need to artificially discourage people from insta-levelling.

A game like WoW has the vast majority of its content for level-capped players. Between heirlooms and the Cataclysm world changes, not to mention the monk XP buff, it’s faster than ever to level a character, to the point where a particularly determined person could probably do it in a long weekend. I appreciate arguments that levelling is an important part of MMOs or RPGs, but it’s hard to argue in the specific that levelling is important in WoW.

And even with paid level 90s, all the levelling content will still be there. If you like to level your characters, that’s cool. And other MMOs still have an emphasis on levelling. Diversity in products is a positive thing for us all!

The argument in favor of curtailing insta-levelling strikes me as another verse of that old favorite tune “You have to play MMOs the way I want to you play them”. And look, I get it, it’s a song I’ve sung myself on more than one occasion. But it’s not a good one.

Legendary Liore! (WoW)
Jan27

Legendary Liore! (WoW)

It was a sickie weekend in the Liore household, so in between napping and.. napping, it seemed like a good time to finish up Pandaria’s quest chain for a legendary cloak.

I had already finished most of the monotonous grindy chapters of the quest before Saturday, and man, was that ever a relief. Most of my raiding nowadays is in the form of LFR, and going back to Throne of Thunder in particular over.. and over.. and over.. for months was getting a little tedious. However, after one final kill of Lei Shen I was out of the doldrums and on to Chapter V, or basically the Timeless Isle chapter. For this part of the quest chain I had to earn 5000 Timeless Coins and kill all four Celestial world bosses.

(Side note, but have y’all ever read the lore explanation for why Timeless Coins exist? On the one hand I kind of want to give Blizzard props for even bothering with a story behind yet another currency, but on the other hand it’s that the locals had to come up with a monetary system that wouldn’t be affected by time distortion? Really? Like, there are only maybe six NPCs on Timeless Isle. Couldn’t they just, I don’t know, keep a list or something?)

Earning the coins was fairly trivial — just hang around and hit the ghost ship whenever it appears — but I was worried about finding groups for the Celestials. Fortunately, the awesome Kadomi told me on Twitter that there’s a world boss LFG system (it’s true!) and it worked like a charm. I just put myself on the list and people from across all servers invited me to their groups. I had to take part in about 10 kills to get the 4 I needed, but that isn’t so bad and again I find myself impressed with all the different ways there are to find groups in WoW.

Turning in the final quest in the legendary chain is suitably satisfying. Wrathion and Cho got together and put on a little stage play about some of my heroic deeds, and then I got a (temporary) statue thingy in my honor which indeed made me feel pretty slick.

2014 01 25 22 29 53 World of Warcraft Legendary Liore! (WoW)

Hey that looks like me!

The cloak has amazing stats and a proc and occasionally gives me angel wings, you guys. You just can’t beat that.

All in all, I think the legendary quest line was a lot of fun and a great idea. I liked how it involved a variety of activities like raids, scenarios, reputation, world bosses, and PvP, and they even managed to make philistines like me pay attention to some lore. The random raid drop quests were quite grindy, but probably would have been less atrocious if I had done them with the original content gates and not basically all at once.

I’m not sure what the feeling is towards this quest line in the general playerbase, but if something like it appears again in Warlords of Draenor you can count me in.

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