5.6 in 6.2 on 8/7

Julietta the Cigar Girl: Would you like to check my figures?
James Bond: Oh, I’m sure they’re perfectly rounded.

5.6 in 6.2 on 8/7

The news that WoW subscribers had dropped down to 5.6 million was a shock to me. I, of course, began to read some of the other bloggers (like the pointy Grumpy Dwarf) to see what their takes were on the latest numbers.

Several bloggers were calling it the death knell of WoW. Others were a bit smug, claiming that they saw it coming all along. And, finally, there was a bit of alarm. Could this be the last expansion?

Call me Mr. Ray of Sunshine. The blogging community can be terribly naive. They see the WoW universe as an on-going episodic experience; one where the designers can paint themselves into a corner and can’t rebound.

The WoW game is more like a franchise, compare it to the James Bond movies.

James Bond movies are not all great, nor is Warlords of Draenor. Even though this expansion we got Timothy Dalton, there is still a ton of great stuff that we love and can enjoy. The next expansion may be the dishy Daniel Craig. One thing for sure, the franchise is strong enough that opening weekend will be strong.

During Mists of Pandaria, the subscriptions had settled to around 7 million. The opening of Warlords saw an enormous spike up to 10 million, crashing servers and catching everyone with surprise. We can look at 5.6 as a 5 million drop or a 2 million drop. It is a drop, for sure. Still, the fans are out there; ready to come and play. This seems obvious to me.

Looking at 5.6 (WoW is still the top dog of MMOs) million can be startling, especially since we have months to go in this expansion. I have to rely on my own experience and know that I’m enjoying my play time.

Frankly, Warlords of Draenor had to do what it did. They had to contrast the cartoony Panda bear experience. They had to reshape our understanding of our dangerous world and it’s legion of enemies.

Will 6.2 be the last patch? They had the announcement for the NEXT expansion at Gamescom yesterday; the traffic almost shut down Bizzard Watch, Wowhead and MMO Champions. The interest was so high that the live stream on YouTube was buffering with 230,000 viewers. I watched it myself and I rarely ride that hype train for anything.

The next expansion is at least six months away if not more. Let’s hope not a year. Let’s hope that the designers, wanting to make faster expansions, have learned how to dole out content liberally.

Understanding that the World of Warcraft is a franchise like James Bond and each expansion stands on it’s own rather than the Hunger Games which has an ending is the key to our enlightenment.

Come on Daniel Craig!

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Pet Peeves in Wow: 6.2 Edition

“Information may travel at light speed, but meaning spreads at the speed of dark.”
― Richard Powers

Pet Peeves in WoW

In general, I don’t have many peeves in WoW. I like to discover the game as designed and get to know the various experiences as imagined by the developers and designers.

My Pet Peeve is when they specifically step forward to make an announcement with the purpose to inform the player base of upcoming changes … and they botch it. Eff it up. They look bad (at least to me) and fail at their task.

We have Hotfixes for August 4th announced. Yay! They are doing their job by fine-tuning our content or amending their poor choices from before.

Here is an example of a pretty darn good hotfix: it informs and improves the player experience.

Kilrogg Deadeye
Health of adds for the encounter have been reduced by roughly 20% for raid groups with 10 players on Normal and Heroic difficulty. This should help with the difficulty experienced by smaller raid groups losing their DPS when sending players down into the death phase. The health of adds scales back up and should be remain roughly unchanged from before as raid group size increases.

Okay! I have been in those ten man raids. I changed my spec to Marksman, I re-gemmed and rerolled my stats because it was too hard for our raid team. They at least admit it was bad. It cost me and our team hours of fruitless game-play. I’m glad they fixed it, wish it had been done weeks ago.

Here is an example of my Pet Peeve:

Items
Reduced the chance to obtain bonus Felblight.

What does that mean? I went to the forums tonight. Players are asking, “what does that mean?” No one understands. Off Kazzak? From skinning? I farm Felblight, I don’t want it to be less!

Sure, the developers were not hired to be writers; I understand that. But this … this … is infuriating. It makes no sense. When did we ever get bonus Felblight? Who defined it as a bonus? Who used the word “bonus” ever before in any of the game literature?

The job was to inform the players of upcoming and incoming changes. They not only failed but left us confused and lost.


A Diary from Draenor

A Diary from Draenor

My hunter now has an ilevel of 700. All the gear is from this new patch. Certainly being “geared” when it started helped my head-long rush through the new content with such a goal.

Keeping one’s eyes on the prize, for me, is the trick. I have two “mains” and will not noodle about on my Alts: their job is to support my mains. If I want to try a new class; that would be different but for now: two mains. Full stop.

Here is the very quick macro I made for my skinner/fisher/miner. A hunter with a water strider pet is a speedy hunter. The exclamation point in front of the Aspect will keep the macro from toggling it off and on. Every time I click I get water-walking and speed.

/cast Surface Trot
/cast !Aspect of the Cheetah

Jeremey Feasel on his twitter asked “we have three tents that are Under Construction at the Darkmoon Faire. What games would you like to see?” I think I might have to finally get a twitter account!

I couldn’t sleep a few days ago and got up about 2am. Restless, I decided to flip through my alts and reset the garrison missions. I was astounded to see six players in our guild playing! I’d call them crazy but there I was as well.

Not being able to sleep, I began posting the Perchance to Dream lines in the guild chat. One player said, “Hamlet, right?” We have a nice wide range of players to interact with in our guild; I love it.

xoxo

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends –
it gives a lovely light.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay “First Fig”

Guild Progression

“Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.”
― Robert A. Heinlein
Guild Progression.
Sorry, that’s a bit of a play on words. Raid Progression in WoW normally means a group of players methodically work through boss after boss as a team. As they learn each fight, they gear up and the assumption is that the next time they face a prior boss that it will be easy as they know the strategy. Eventually, the content will be on “farm”; meaning the group can routinely roll through the content, maybe with a newer player, and farm the gear. And for satisfaction, of course!
By the way, welcome to Windows 10. All my stuff seems to be hidden in new places. My programs all look different. And I couldn’t find my blog for a while!
Guild Progression can mean many things. In this case, I am referring to the increasing numbers of our guild players who are crafting gear and taking advantage of the Baleful upgrades to 695. On top of this, this weekend is Mythic Dungeons with a reward of a whopping Heroic Hellfire Citadel piece of gear.
It is easy to fall on old pathways. In the past, you got your gear from boss drops in a raid. This expansion gives us such a head start that we might not NEED an upgrade from the bosses for a long time to come. If, of course, our guild prepares by having good gear. You can see our weakness on Kilrogg. Strong tanks, strong heals, strong melee and weak ranged — and we need strong ranged. One strong ranged is not enough and our others often seem befuddled on what to do; sure enough they’ve been carried but now the onus is on them.
The other cool part and facet of Guild Progression is the infusion of new players joining our guild. We need leaders; not raid leaders, simply leaders. We have people who want to do stuff and clamor for opportunity but would never put themselves out there to lead. That’s not a negative, players may not play to have a leadership role: in fact, many leaders in “real life” would not want to lead at all when kicking back and playing a game.
Our Guild Progression is pretty great. The weekend activities are mostly a lot of fun from old school dungeons to current mythic dungeons to PvP. Blizzard has made some amazing design additions that should be acknowledged as they keep players active and with goals.
Raid Progression is for the stubborn and those who like a challenge. I appreciate the players who hold back as well, waiting for us to pave the way through the content. With Gamescom, the announcement for the next expansion will be August 6th. We’ll start looking ahead even though I feel we’ve barely tapped the current raid.

Flying in Draenor

You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.
— Amelia Earhart

Flying is coming to Draenor.

I hope and trust it will be Tuesday on Reset Day. Not only will my main, with the Pathfinding Achievement be able to fly but it will be unlocked for all my littlebees in Draenor. Along with this treat come some serious decisions!

Which mount to ride?
Will it be my newest Apexis Crystal mount or the very first gryphon that I bought in Hellfire Penninsula during Burning Crusade — or will I go all Druid on Draenor and go storm crow? This is a very serious decision.

Taking a tour!
I imagine I’ll spend about an hour or two simply flying. Let’s look at Nagrand. Let’s find a hard-to-get treasure placed on top of a giant mushroom. Remember wisely: the Ins and Del keys will make you loop-de-loop. How many players don’t know all that you can do?

The Little Bee and the FP
Gotta pick up all the Flight Points on my lower guys. They’ve been huddled mercilessly in my garrison, grinding gold, for way too long. Let them go get the Miner’s Pick, for example. Log them out over a rare mount spawn, perhaps.

Tom Tom to the Rescue
This addon with its wacky waypoint taxi arrow will lead me to places I’ve needed to see. The Num Key on my numbers pad will let me travel on straight with no button to push. Sip a coffee and let set sail.

A Requiem for Aviana’s Feather
The terrific toys; from the feather to the skull, will all be missed. They may migrate to my bank tabs and it’s a shame in a way. To rocket uncontrolled across the universe was a thrill and a delight, amen.


I’ll be thinking and plotting with my friends in the guild to what advantage flying will give to us. Which pieces that were once a threatened thrilling experience on our most powerful characters will be flown in for a ninja grab? Is Hellbane worth it to the littlebees to park, camp and reap rewards?

I’m excited.


“Blackbird”
Writer(s): Paul Mccartney, John Lennon

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these sunken eyes and learn to see
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to be free.

Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.


Testing on the Training Dummy

I’m forever testing myself. As a person and as an actor, I have no sense of competition.
Michael Caine

Testing: one, two

It’s time to raid. Sure, I’ve been raiding since patch 6.2 came out (about four weeks) but some of this time was spent crafting gear and doing the apexis grind. I think I’ve gotten as far as I can get until the raids drop some higher level gear.

I went to the Training Dummy. In general, I think the design is pretty weak — it doesn’t reflect raid circumstances. Still, I wanted to know what my standing-still single target damage numbers are. Over a five minute period, I range between 36k and 40k.

I was wondering if my Tier sets from the last expansion were better or worse, so I swapped them out. This means I moved out lower level gear that had special traits for higher level gear with no special traits. I was surprised to see that my damage numbers were about the same. This could mean that moving two pieces (out of sixteen) doesn’t have much of an impact or the higher item level trumps the Tier sets.

The variables in a raid are considerable when looking at your damage numbers — and, in the end, the numbers hardly matter! What matters is downing the boss. What matters is executing the mechanics of each unique raid. What matters is working as a team to be successful.

The hitch is that we have tools to measure those damage numbers and because of that, players often look to those numbers as a measure of success and power. A blessing and a curse, in so many ways.

If, say, a ranged players like a hunter or mage have the task of killing each additional mob, then their numbers will drop since they are jumping about and are not steady. Sometimes certain players can get buffed and their numbers soar. Some players need time to ramp up their damage because of DoTs (damage over time, like a bleed effect).

The testing is over! I am ready to raid. I’ll be measuring my own performance by my own standards and also comparing myself with my comrades in arms. I like having the gear to succeed; it is time to see if I have the skills.


The Gears Grind

Well, if Fortune be a woman, she’s a good wench for this gear.
William Shakespeare

The Gears Grind

Doing the grind for gear, and I still consider this to be the beginning of a patch, has paid off handsomely. I’m pleased as punch with the empowered apexis baleful gear drops as I can have gear with optimal secondary stats.

The first wing in Normal HFC drops 690 gear and the second wing drops 695 gear. It will be very hard to see an upgrade from these two wings since the Baleful stuff is 695 with my exact stats. I’ll be looking for the two-piece tier set from the final boss of each wing and perhaps a trinket.

Would that all of my guild would could should follow the same gearing path. It is grindy but aligns perfectly with the achievements needed for flying. If everyone showed up with an ilevel of 695, we’d be face rolling the wings. We already rock wing one and are 2/3 of wing two. I’m ready to move onward faster, farther, deeper.

There is a psychological boost as well. I feel strong!

Get your gear on. Know that an alt can buy the Empowered Crystal upgrade and mail it; so all that apexis stuff that has been piling up: use it now.