BoD: No AotC

“When people say, ‘She’s got everything’, I’ve got one answer – I haven’t had tomorrow.”
Elizabeth Taylor

BoD: No AotC

Pardon the WoW shorthand, we use acronyms a lot.

I’ve played their game. I have two (almost three) characters with a level 50 neck, ilevel is about 408, I’ve raided every week and we have always had pots, flasks, feasts and even Vantus Runes. I’ve run mythic plus to support my raiding gear.

The list is long on the lengths I’ve gone, we’ve gone, to play the game as designed.

For the second raid of this expansion, we won’t get Ahead of the Curve. Sure, individual players will join a pug team but our raid team as a collective will not. The achievement is symbolic of our good play. As we will not get it, we must be bad players.

Or: we can blame Blizzard!

My friends, it is pretty bad. Our run at the AotC achievement goes back to Lei Shen in Mists of Pandaria. That run is broken badly in Battle for Azeroth. The current raids can not be over-powered by ilevel, the mechanics are over-whelming.

We either one-shot Conclave or spend the night wiping, wondering how it can be that we are wiping on a very well-known fight. That frustration in design makes me stand in awe at the tenacity of our players. The willingness to wipe 100 times on a mid-step boss is staggering to me.

Some things are clearly wrong. The idea of a “season” where we line up mythic plus, pvp and raiding as a clump is a failure. It forces the raids to open too soon.

What should be happening with 8.2 is that we get the new gear upgrades and go and kill Jaina — then, in a month or so after the patch, the new raid begins with our shiny upgrades from the zones. With the season concept, the game is trapped because pvp and mythic plus should not be held back. This is an obvious failure in design.

Opening the next raid two weeks after the patch seriously hampers the raiders. We will have only two weeks, on the ground, to get our rank one feast, potion, flasks, cauldrons, enchantments all stacked up and prepared for the new raid. Who can afford the time to play the new fun zones?

And, there is a sense of dread that we will fail for the third time in a row to get the AotC. This is months and months of playing with other in-game investments and there is zero confidence that we will succeed.

Why play? That could be the question.

My raid team is great. They make me laugh. We sing sometimes. We talk about gaming conventions and cooking and tell stories. We cheer a kill and smile at upgrades. We say “thank you” a lot and worry about players with problems of health or jobs and ask about it and support them. We don’t mind waiting if you just got off of work, we’ll chat while you power down your dinner. I look forward to these guys every week.

Blizzard could break our morale. They might break our raid teams, it is happening all over the world in WoW. it is possible that “lawyer as game director” was the wrong person to know more about fun than millions of players, one might guess that he knows more about promotions and power.

People might give up — I’d not blame them.

Patch 8.2 might be what the Battle of Azeroth should have been. It is loaded. Pets, toys, mounts, achievements, flying, mount equipment, azerite upgrades, zones, art, flavor, whimsy: it is pure-dee loaded.

But: with the staunch stick-in-the-mud dungeon and raiding mechanics, the bring the class philosophy, the design solution of stacking mechanics, the baffling GCD choice (where you have to confirm that the button you pushed did something), trash with boss powers: where every thing has a failure threshold — there is no room for a hero, only a survivor, a victim willing to take one more step.

There are days when I envy the smarter players who avoid the dungeon/raiding scene. They have goals that can be achieved and they go do them. And then they log off, content for the day.

I am a senior citizen in my sixties. I guess I could go to the senior citizen center and play ping pong with some old lady. Maybe eat oatmeal cookies and drink stale coffee.

Elune have mercy, I’ll keep playing WoW.


We Need a Critic

“In the arts, the critic is the only independent source of information. The rest is advertising.”
Pauline Kael

We Need a Critic

In the play Waiting for Godot, the two players are angry and begin hurling insults at each other. The final, most hurtful, insult was “critic!”.

Everything that we consume is driven by perception. Whether bacon is trending or skinny jeans are popular or Chevy is making a comeback or WoW is on the decline; the only thing true about this list is that we are being told that these things are so. The actual value of them is skewed by those who tell us what to believe.

“That game sucks”. To hear it is to believe it. It is really hard for you to think, “This game is great. That guy doesn’t know what he’s saying”. We tend to trend as a human race, I’m sorry. That is you too, you are not as independent as you think or want to be.

The World of Warcraft and all of gaming needs a real critic. We need a Roger Ebert or Pauline Kael or a Dorothy Parker to look and review the games. It is a disaster to the world that our perception is shaped by social media voices who are grand-standing.

Roger Ebert not only understood story-telling but he taught us about film making while writing his response to a movie. In other words, he knew what he was saying. We don’t have that in the gaming world, not even close. There is no gaming criticism degree to be had at a college.

I don’t think that any of the social media voices ever worked in gaming. They are only the loudest. Their authority is their number of likes or followers. This is so dangerous that I’m scared for the world. Once we lost the vetting of “paycheck for voice”, we lost it all. These guys could never be hired at a respectable newspaper or radio station. But: they are all we have and they are shaping our understanding of the world.

We will never get it but we need Ghostcrawler, a respected game maker with a strong voice in social media to become a critic of the genre. He is the only person that I can think of who might come close to the job.

Blizzard is, believe it or not, a victim. The perception of their game is out of their own control and it is killing them. Social media is a self-righteous group of people who pounce to kill, their mission is to destroy. I don’t need to list examples, you can think of many on your own. All I’ll say is: don’t trash talk Taylor Swift. You will fear for your very life.

The social media feeding frenzy is disturbing especially when the direction comes from behind the scenes and from sources who have a specialized intention. Our tendency to be led and the ease of that scares me every day. I worry for the day when we all look at each other and ask, “what have we done?”. I’d hate for Blizzard to close shop, it is my favorite escape and I want no other.

How would you feel when you found out that the most vocal of the Blizzard critics were on the payroll of Epic Games? How do you know that they are not? It would be a small cost to buy off a popular streamer. Easy, really.

The story of the Broadway musical Kismet is often over-told. The show opened on Broadway during a newspaper strike. With no reviews of the show, simple word-of-mouth ran through the city that it was a good show and became a hit before the strike was over.

While the story is often embellished, the truth is that the reviews were generally positive and not counter to public opinion. Still, you should always trust yourself and your own point-of-view.

Our Craft in WarCraft

“A pint of sweat will save you a gallon of blood.”
George S Patton

Our Craft in WarCraft

When I was encouraged to buy this game, I imagined lining up infantry with the cavalry hiding in the woods for flanking and hiding my archers for a surprise attack. How cool, I thought, if I could have a spy to assassinate the general or I could use deceit and poison their water supply.

Of course, the World of Warcraft is none of the above. We fight bosses by following a guide based on Method’s strategy; the pressure is enormous to succeed at executing extremely precise mechanics. There are no other ways to win unless we reach certain thresholds that might negate a phase.

I understand why there are single-strategy bosses, we are not in these raids for very long. Resources and time spent, I get it. But, I’d really like it do be different.

Mythic Plus needs to be re-vamped entirely.

The designers started down an unknown path two expansion ago and are stuck. To make it work, they had to add stealth-detection mobs and had to prune all of the classes down. They felt that they had to remove all the side paths, including changing talents, so that everyone is solving the problem with the same answer.

The result is a tedious and onerous experience. It is a race against the timer but the process is a step-by-careful-step game. We know that if we do not walk the narrow path that we can call extra mobs and be over-whelmed.

Because we see these same dungeons for the entire expansions, the designers are hard-pressed to make their designs work. Affixes are one example. Making the mobs tougher as we get more gear is a solution.

And, the designers have the added pressure of featuring their work at the MDI. A lot of people will be looking at their work during the invitational. They have to make a good showing which starts with absolute control of how the players play. And, the viewing experience has to be long: 30 minutes long like a television show.

It’s no fun to watch other players blow through a dungeon and finish in ten minutes. But, it is a lot of fun to do. Speed runs are great. The designers are trapped.

Sometimes you do go down the wrong path when designing. Sometimes you do have to scrap the scenery in Act II. Sometimes you have to scrap Act II! Even popular movies can have alternate endings. If Sherlock Holmes can come back from a death by the author’s design due to public pressure, mythic plus can be made fun.

I’d get rid of the fill-the-mob bar. There is no fun in that.

I believe that if you can get five prowlers to skip all the mobs then you should be able to do that. If a warlock and two others can sneak all the way to the boss and summon the others, then that is cool. There should be five paths to each boss.

I’d like the order of the bosses switched up upon entrance. I think changing talents and specs is fine. Hunters should get their brez back.

We want to have fun again.

I had a friend who had just returned from Hawaii. She was the lighting designer for the Janet Jackson HBO special. A live concert was recorded for the camera.

I asked her how she juggled the two things, a recording situation and a live audience. She shrugged and told me that the live audience always loses. One thousand ticket buyers is not nearly the amount of people who will see it on the television over, maybe, many years. The ticket buyers get a blown out bright show that is very even; all color changes are in the background and not on the performer and so on.

The point is: you can’t win. The television show will always be more important than our experiences in the dungeons even though we paid for the ticket to the show.

Druid on the Run

“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
Albert Schweitzer

Druid on the Run

In some ways, it can be tough to be a Druid. The promised raid buff Mark of the Wild never arrived. Displacer Beast, used like the Hunter’s Disengage spell, would negate fall damage: gone!. Our Dash is pitiful, embarrassing really.

I own a five-button mouse and the thumb buttons on the side were rarely used. That is until I did a Key Bind to the slot on my action bar that is vertical and in the upper right.

Typically it is my fishing spell, dragged from the spell book to that spot. Mouse movement is minimal when fishing and in the World of Warcraft you spend hours upon hours fishing.

Last night, I dragged my Roots spell for Heroic Mekkatorque. Druids are a game-changer on that boss with two types of roots that last thirty seconds on the Spark Bots. It is totally “bring the class” in that case and the pressure is on to perform those additional tasks along with everything else.

Insta-mount is signature to the Druid. When I am herbing/mining, the mining pulls me out of travel form but my thumb button gets me up and going again: fast! I keep the Angler’s Raft hot and race across the water. I know, make a macro — but I have not yet. In the World of Warcraft, you can spend hours and hours herbing and mining.

Consider a key binding to improve your quality of life.

When herbing, I will be either in Balance spec or Resto-healing spec.

In Balance, I have the Treant talent. My favorite thing to do is seeing a player fighting a mob or a rare and dropping those Treants on them to pull aggro and give that player a break as I speed on by.

In Resto, if I see a player in battle, I like to drop a mushroom down for some encouragement. This does pull me out of travel form but it is insta-mount to get off to the next node again.

In my mind, Druids are friendly helpful beings. As much as I do wish for Mark of the Wild, one does what one can when playing in Azeroth.

WoW: Guild Housing

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”
Helen Keller

WoW: Guild Housing

A while ago I was excited about the idea of lore quests and wrote a post on it. I put the link in the Suggestion Box. About two weeks later I got three visits to that page on the same day. Was it the designers? Possibly. Was it random? Unlikely. Who knows for sure.

I am of the opinion that WoW has taken a rough “time spent” direction with endless filling the bars. I also think that guilds have been ignored by Blizzard; my guess is that they wanted to try a push to get Facebook friends to see how much fun I was having or to get my Overwatch amigos to join me in WoW. Well THAT didn’t work.

The truth is that I play WoW to get away from my RL friends and away from real life period. And, there are only very few gaming friends that I’d want to meet in real life. I’d love to meet all the bloggers over a cupcake or a beer.

I believe that WoW needs to change it’s course. Raiding and Mythic Plus are too hard with guild raiding even harder as players jump ship to get AOTC in a pug group. Islands for pets is kind of dumb being all random and stuff. The missions I run today on that ship are (I’m serious) only for the hope of a fish proc.

Player Housing is sure to come. The interest and demand is there from the player base. We’ve had in-game trials with the Tillers and Garrison and Order Hall though there is zero in this expansion: too much pruning in our garden, I’d say.

There are models from other games. I liked the Tillers with my dog to pet. It was mine and instanced. I could get away and not be /poked. I could make a fool of myself when making macros for toys that don’t work over and over.

Guild Housing could provide a lot of things.

One thing that really bothers me is that our raid team is a bit elitist and hang out in Discord. Our guild chat is minimal and that is not healthy. We have fringe players in our guild (some for six years solid) who never play with us except on a rare raid achievement run when we can carry them. Even if interested for a night, they’d not ask to join us to raid on our 100th wipe in Heroic Conclave. I’d discourage that, seriously.

I’m trying to remember the Argent Tournament. As I recall, our server built that thing and it started small. We collected wood and stone.

As I recall, there used also be guild buffs and contributions to the guild by simply looting as you play.

My first stance is: a guild buff of any kind is good. If the big guilds get there first, that is life. If your guild is small, you will get there but not right away. If you are not in a guild, continue to play alone. Gaming and life isn’t fair.

Guild Housing should be something we build just by playing. Now “time spent” is very different, right?

We should get perks. Maybe we build a forge and you can get a 5% Mark of the Wild type buff by stopping in the housing and clicking. Speed perks, food buffs, travel ports and more, all the things that you can imagine.

Guild Achievements can mean something. The points can be thresholds to the arrival of the fairies or flower boxes. Doing a guild thing (it better be easy) to make a drawbridge might be fun.

I’d like to see a currency, call it guild emeralds. That same looting system from before would feed this currency to the guild bank but it’d not be gold. The guild master can make spending decisions: adding to the guild pet vendor, the guild mount vendor, a fishing pond or, as always, another speed buff that stacks.

Guild versions of raids? It could be that we are buffed as a group. Maybe unique designs just for guilds so irregulars can join.

Do you want a castle? How about archers on the walls. Maybe your kingdom is a sprawling farm land with marauders to deal with. A small base on a foreign island might be fun. Build your castle to “ten” and then get new options.

I’d like to see guild masters with benevolent powers. Even a temporary title for 24 hours or a week would be cool.

The Hivemind was an okay idea for a mount. Those five who are attuned can ride together. It would be a thousand times better if a there was a five person guild mount that can fly to dungeons.

I think that there are a zillion ideas of what could be in a guild housing place. I think that it should be easy and not hard. I think that exalted rep should open perks and one year and three year membership gives a perk. People should play together and the starting place should be the guild, not the pug board.

Those old guilds that are little small family guilds could get a huge advantage just for being a guild for eight years.

Okay, that is all I have to say about that.


The Genius of Classic WoW

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.”
Albert Einstein

The Genius of Classic WoW

Help me out here. Is it possible that Classic WoW will be the answer to all of Ion’s problems?

I was reading The Last Chapter Guild’s post on June Gaming Goals with a citing of two different points of view on Classic. Then, I wondered “what about Blizzard?”.

If memory serves, Warlords of Draenor got a lot of criticism for not enough content. So, Ion decided that several things needed to be done; including better pacing of content releases.

We also saw a dreary endless solution of filling power bars designed to keep us logging in every day and we hate it. The AP Solution was soon seen as a masked attempt to keep the Monthly Active User count up and looking good for investors. A goofy metric if you ask me, we subscribe by the month.

The genius of Classic is that it is married to our main account. And, when we are bored with WoW, we will go play Classic and keep those MAU numbers cooking along. I know that I’ll do that, I like this game a lot.

For me, I have never fallen for all of the other games like Overwatch or that card game. In fact, I’d rather fish in Nazmir than go to another game. But, the step over to Classic would be easy and fun when the current game drags.

In the next expansion with Classic at our side, I expect a return to the good old days when I could level my healer to “raid ready” and park him. Then I could jump on my hunter and go adventuring. It really was a good way to play. Finishing things is so important!

So, come August, do you think that Ion can finally relax?

Week 468: Recap

“I could never see myself playing a goblin or gnome, without some serious CGI at least!”
Kristian Nairn

Week 468: Recap

Just another week in Azeroth.

We downed King Rastakan this week and got some pulls in on Mekkatorque. I only got one chance in the bot and I tried to call out symbols because I’m color blind. I can’t claim “red” with authority. It was a shock to the group and we failed. One can’t know if we simply have to hope I don’t get chosen or we figure out a work-around or I get benched. In any case, having this failing of mine featured in the raid was humiliating. I was miserable and wanted to quit.

We did a Mythic 10 key last night with quaking in the narrow hallways of the Temple of the Snakes. Everyone wants and hopes for a good drop in the cache on Tuesday. It took about ninety minutes, way over the timer. I do have a response if Blizzard touts the metrics on how many people are doing these dungeons because a metric won’t show if the players are happy doing these dungeons! Still, I do have fun with my buddies and we laughed and carried on as usual.

Thinking about a Suggestion Box post concerning Legacy and how these dungeons will be remembered in contrast to, say, Zul’Farrak which I really loved to do — I accidently mass milled six full stacks of Winter’s Kiss. Am I old enough to blame age yet? Or was I just making a classic mistake. It is true that I’m stockpiling for the future patch in hopes of not returning so it isn’t terribly bad. It sure was a shock though!

I am at 965 unique pets! The Battle Safari was a breeze with no weather or day/night pets to deal with. My strategy was to go get a whole bunch of ’em and then look up locations for the final few. I avoided the Wowhead Battle Pet Collection Tracker because I assumed that I’d have to make an account, create a user name, make a password and login then turn off notifications. I was wrong! This is a really good tool AND you can click on a missing pet to open a new page on Wowhead just for that pet. Good stuff!

I think I counted 87 new pets in patch 8.2. Collecting 1000 uniques for the achievement is not far away.

MMO Champs posted the highlights of the Forbes interview with Ion.

I don’t want to use the world “misleading”. It is true that our neck socket will be opened at 120 after several steps and quests (for all of our Alts, right?). But to get the Essence to plug into the socket is what this game is all about. The “good” ones seem to be far down the road. Ion said that they will be like the Legendary spells in Legion, which is scary.

I have two links for you:
Heart of Azeroth Essences All Revealed, Major and Minor powers is a description of each essence.
All Heart of Azeroth Essence Abilities and Sources has a table to show the steps needed to get the good stuff.

It is a little confusing right now. I think that we will earn and then have a table of choices starting with the wimpy first ones. We will be able to swap using Tomes of Changed Talents. Some are pvp-ish, some are dungeon-ish and some are raider-ish is what it seems.

One thing is sure: everything is time played by the truck load. This patch is front-loaded with a massive amount of play time to get up-to-speed for raiding or getting enough to use your new things.

One thing that I’m really looking forward to is the pre-patch thing that will load all of our new spells in the Unlearned tab. Then we’ll know the final recipes and can look through the lists of toys and mounts and pets to target while we play.

It has been a solid week in Azeroth. Downing the King and finishing Battle Safari was great. The Mythic 10 key was “fun enough” to come back next week for another go at a failed timer because that is when we can all relax and just have a good time. I need to go farm Winter’s Kiss, wow!