Time to Wear Fancy Hats and Kill Deathwing (WoW)
Nov29

Time to Wear Fancy Hats and Kill Deathwing (WoW)

By the time North America gets home from work today World of Warcraft will updated to patch 4.3, and it’s a doozy. Included in the patch are three new 5-man heroic instances, the divisive Looking for Raid system, Transmogrification (seriously, can Blizzard not say ‘appearance tab’ like everyone else ever?), a totally revamped Darkmoon Faire, and of course the potentially final raid of the expansion, Dragon Soul.

I’ve got stacks of Inferno Rubies, Spellthreads, belt buckles, and Shadowspirit Diamonds ready to list after the servers come back up. There has been no sign on the PTR of epic gems, but the crafting/AH community seems to suspect that Blizzard is just trying to thwart our data mining and will patch in some (probably) transmutes at the last minute.

I can’t see how the Looking for Raid system will be anything but pure angry chaos for the next couple of weeks, and I look forward to seeing it first hand. What will the difficulty be? Will people shout slurs at everyone and then ninja? Will Deathwing just light us on fire and laugh as we run around without a plan? It should be loaded with amusing drama, assuming you’re prepared to not take it too seriously. Enjoy the show!

The Darkmoon Faire redesign was way overdue, but it looks like just another daily grind a la the Molten Front and you can ask my unused 113 tree tokens how I feel about daily grinds.

So yes, there are new recipes and quests and raids and instances but most important of anything today is the fact that this can happen:
transmog goblin Time to Wear Fancy Hats and Kill Deathwing (WoW)
T6 + matching boots and belt, Anathema, Junior 3rd Grade Technician Glasses: It’s definitely not as creative as some I’ve already seen, but by god you can just DEAL WITH IT.

This is the first patch I’ve experienced as a casual scrub and I find myself the most excited to log in I’ve been since returning to the game. Well played, Blizzard.

Preparing for Auction House War in 4.3 (WoW)

One of my absolute favorite things to do in MMOs is play the economy, whether it’s becoming a crafting baron or “daytrading” my way up the ladder. After switching servers in WoW recently I found myself with a dwindling gold reserve and less than profitable professions, so I decided to make cash from doing my dailies every da– ha ha ha. Just kidding. Clearly it was time to get back in the AH scene, but how to get started again with awkward professions and limited liquidity?

In my experience each MMO has its own quirky economy with its own profitable niches, and World of Warcraft near the end of an expansion is a great time to try flipping goods. Everyone is flush and impatient, ready to drop serious gold to save time leveling a new profession or gearing up an alt. This spendthrift attitude often reaches new heights shortly after a patch when gear appears on badge and honor vendors as well as in a new raid instance, heroic, and Arena season. This time around, Patch 4.3 also includes the Looking for Raid finder and Transmogrification.

A bunch of new gear for players, of course, means a sudden demand for scrolls, leg enchants, gems, belt buckles, and possibly even glyphs. If you are a jewelcrafter or enchanter, you should be stockpiling your goods right now in a big way. If you don’t have those particular professions, think about what little things you can make and save for future armor buffs, like raw Inferno Rubies or Dreamcloth or scopes.

This is also a great time to buy and save ingredients for enhancements that you yourself cannot make. Personally, I have been focusing on elementals — they’re relatively inexpensive and they stack well. Figure out what the average price is, either through tracking it yourself or using an auction mod (I like TradeSkillMaster) or checking an AH monitoring site, and buy everything that shows up below it. Don’t forget to check for completed enhancements too: I managed to snag a stack of cheap belt buckles which I plan to flip for twice the price in a few weeks. If nothing else, run lots of non-troll heroics and disenchant everything for a shard and dust stash.

As with many aspects of MMOs, the biggest indicator of success in playing the economny is time. How much can you put into it? You can make a lot of money by having an iron grip on a certain product, for example, but it requires a lot of time camping the AH watching over your domain. Every minute of research you put into your craft or market will pay off in an increased ability to spot deals and make quick, profitable decisions. I’m not saying you need to spend all your free time shuffling glyphs around, but understand that if you only put 10 minutes each week into crafting and listing, you will probably receive 10 minutes worth of gold. (And that could be enough for you!)

It’s sort of ironic that I enjoy the economic side of MMOs so much, because in real life I am somewhat known for being a filthy socialist who loves to hate the free market. In a game, though, I am more than happy to capitalize on the stupidity of others for my own profit. I’ve negotiated direct buying partnerships before with shady herb farmers and miners who never log off, because it is a cheap and easy source of raw material. I’ve identified weak markets and set up price walls to slowly push out the small crafter.

In MMOs… I am the the 1%. And I’ll be seeing you all in the Auction House in 4.3. :)

Something worth being upset about

I was going to make a point to not write anything about Blizzard for a week or two because I’ve talked a lot about WoW lately and other blogs have still not shut up about pandas. (No, they’re not talking about the expansion in general, just debating whether Pandaran are silly. You know who’s silly? People who are still frothing about pandas, on either side of the argument.) However, despite my intentions something has come up that cannot be ignored: the horrible Corpsegrinder video that was officially displayed at Blizzcon.

During the Level 90 Elite Tauren Chieftan (a band which features high-level Blizzard employees) show last Saturday, Blizzard chose to air a video featuring Corpsegrinder, the lead singer of Cannibal Corpse. In the video the singer goes on a tirade about how much he hates Alliance, including calling them “cocksuckers” and “faggots”. The words were bleeped, but it was clear to everyone what was being said and in what context the words were being used.

I cannot even begin to comprehend how or why anyone at Blizzard felt this was acceptable. Well, actually, that’s not true: sadly I can comprehend how this happened, and it involves a complete disconnect between Blizzard and their playerbase and a whole truckload of ugly privilege. The official “apology” makes that clear: they are not sorry for playing the video, they are sorry that we’re upset about it. It was a joke, man, and why can’t GLBT folks and their allies just relax already. Sheesh.

There have already been some wonderful posts about this and there’s not anything I can really add at this point except my outrage. There is already so much inherent casual homophobia, sexism, and racism in the gaming community that it breaks my heart to see a company come right out and literally disseminate slurs. It reeks of such a lack of respect for.. well, not only their players, but HUMAN BEINGS.

I cannot in good faith give this bunch of hurtful fratboys my money. Although I just restarted my account, it seems that two weeks later I find myself cancelling it again. Shame on you, Blizzard.

UPDATE: At 8pm Mike Morhaime, Blizzard’s President, released a much more sincere apology which you can read here.

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For more information and posts that are far more eloquent than mine, please see:

WHY ARE WE SHOUTING ABOUT PANDAS?

Hey guys! Anything interesting in MMO-land happen this weekend?

Okay, okay, I kid. If you’re reading this, then you more than likely already know that on Friday Blizzard announced that the fourth expansion pack for World of Warcraft will be Mists of Pandaria. The reaction to this announcement has generally been derisive, and bloggers in particular have been deleting their characters in protest and declaring that they’re moving on to other games.

My reaction has been mixed. I’m not a fan of the furry races although much of that can be attributed to the fact that Blizzard artists cannot stop fetishizing the female form of any species. (Yes, that is an official concept drawing of a mantis lady with no arms and the rack of a Playboy bunny.) However, I totally dig the addition of a hybrid melee healer class in the monk, and I think the proposed talent changes are a good direction. There was nothing said at Blizzcon that convinced me to rededicate myself to WoW but I will likely end up buying MoP and playing it for a few months.

Mostly, though, Blizzcon just made me kind of nostalgic and sad for the way things once were. We had guildies there in person from 2007-2010, many meeting face-to-face for the first time. I went myself in 2009 for the announcement of Cataclysm and the sense of community and excitement in the convention hall was palpable. While I couldn’t make it to Anaheim last year I did buy the feed and had a few folks over for a Blizzcon party.

This year the Cats are far-flung around the gaming universe and while a lot of folks checked in to talk about Pandas it made me very much miss the good ol’ days of all being online together. (Sema, if you still read this.. I hope you’re well.) To some extent that applies to the MMO community as a whole, too: I’m not arguing against diversity in the game pool, but I do feel a little sad that we’ll probably never again be united as we once were.

And in truth, some of the complaining got on my nerves. My IM list lit up like a Christmas tree on Friday afternoon with people who wanted to talk about how WoW is a stupid game for stupid people, and it started to irritate me. I played it for six years, and I liked it. Were we all stupid then? Some Cats still play WoW. Are they stupid? I mean hell, Blizzard has made some decisions that I don’t agree with but the glee with which people tear into the game now is off-putting, in my opinion.

So anyway, yeah. I’m supposed to be all outraged about pandas like the cool kids when in fact I’m more just kind of sad that the MMO scene is a big ball of aimless wandering and negativity right now.

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Much to the dismay of my guild leadery tendencies I can now totally see the appeal to just subscribing to WoW when there is new content to be had and not worrying about it when there’s not. My casual goblin self had a fine time this weekend trying to remember what buttons mean and doing the Molten Front quests.

I had the opportunity to see Firelands for the first time with a semi-pug. I hadn’t raided in seven months and hadn’t played a holy spec in longer than that. I skimmed over the Tankspot videos for the first two bosses and just kind of winged it and lo and behold at no point was I instakilled by a dance move. In all fairness perhaps the complaints about this refer to later bosses, but SpiderLady and PathyTrashGuy seemed not unduly reliant on twitch movement to me.

And then when I woke up I was green
Oct19

And then when I woke up I was green

I know I swore I would never give Blizzard Activision one red cent again. I know! And I meant it! At the time!

But then there’s all this Dragon Soul raid info coming out and it’s Blizzcon week so there’s a little bit of Blizzard pixie dust in the air and a very nice coworker talked to me about his uber-casual guild and I’ve always wanted to try Horde and… then this happened.

goblinliore2 And then when I woke up I was green

I haven’t been in Orgrimmar since before the Cataclysm. I managed to find a bank and now I’m kind of afraid to move. There are ORCS everywhere!

Also, Horde, I don’t want to alarm you but I think you should know that all your Battlegrounds start on the wrong side of the map.

Serve Blizzard a Slice of Humble Pie

EvE Online has made a number of controversial business decisions lately that were rumoured to be causing a drop in subscription rates. Yesterday the CEO of CCP (the company behind the game) posted a pretty unflinching mea culpa in regards to those decisions. I don’t play EvE myself, but as a general online game consumer I was impressed by the humility evident in this letter. It was nice to see a game company admit they could be fallible and say, “We got cocky and didn’t listen to you guys and it screwed us up.”

Could Blizzard benefit from making a similar apology? That’s kind of the hot topic in MMO blog circles this morning, and my answer is: “Heck yes they could!”. In fact, the first thing I said to a friend upon reading the EvE apology was, “Man, I wish Blizzard had written something similar.” (Of course the apologetic CEO thing has been done now, but perhaps they could just take the EvE Online post and recolor it. *rimshot*)

One of the wonderful things about WoW in its heyday was the feeling that Blizzard loved us and wanted us to be happy. Sure, they were a company and companies want to make money, but there seemed to be an almost universal sense that their top priority was making a kickass game. The dollars would come after that. Nowadays, however, me and a lot of the people I talk to feel as though we’ve become dollar signs with pointy elf ears. Blizzard’s main goal is no longer making a great game that people love, but maximizing their profits.

Would a public apology convince me to resubscribe to WoW? Nah. But it would go a long way towards making amends with their playerbase. It would prove that they are paying attention, that they do care about making a fun game. It would almost instantly turn me from someone who has sworn off all Blizzard games to someone who is cautiously paying attention to what they have coming down the pipe. Yes, words would eventually have to be backed up by action, but it’s certainly a start.

Will EvE Online back up their words with action? The letter seemed suspiciously clear of actual solid declarations of change, but honestly I’m not a player so it’s hard for me to tell. I hope so — the MMO landscape is much, much more interesting with a successful EvE around.

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I’ve also seen a lot of disparaging talk lately about the Firelands bosses and how they require “dancing” or “dexterity”. I quit WoW shortly before Firelands appeared, but perhaps someone can explain to me the difference between the current bosses and, say, heroic Mimiron as far as movement goes? Heroic Mimiron was incredibly movement intensive, but it was — and possibly still is — the most fun boss fight in the whole damn game.

I feel like I’m missing something, because some otherwise perfectly sensible people have been put off by these new “dance bosses” and declared them to be part of the nail in the raiding coffin, and I’m not sure how it’s any different from earlier content.

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Speaking of pie: Happy Thanksgiving weekend, my fellow Canadians. :)

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