Friday, 19 September 2014

The Unforgettable Fire


Online anger is not just a World of Warcraft phenomenon. Whatever Blizzard do there will be detractors, wanting to bitch about this or that. In some respect it could be considered that I write a blog full of negativity. From my perspective I try to balance what content puts in front of me, with my own experience. I like to think that I give credit when credit is due and criticise when I believe that something is wrong.

Not all my anger is aimed at Blizzard, and most of it is about the player experience when we rub shoulders with the wonderful and utter terrible. We get to see the best and worst of human nature on a daily basis amplified by anonymity.

This week in Real Life we have seen what happens when iTunes delivers a free album direct to 500 Million iTunes accounts around the Globe.

"My iPhone has a virus called U2. How do I uninstall it?"

"Waking up with the new U2 album automatically installed on your iTunes is like waking up with a pimple in the morning."

"#nothanks"

The general feeling was that it is invasion of privacy and why didn't they just offer the album as a gift. I am sensing a Guinness Book of Records reason, which will make it the fastest selling album of all time 500 Million copies in nanoseconds. Only 6.6% of recipients had listened to the album (33 million).

"But the inordinate amount of actual anger directed at Apple and U2 over this is so disproportional to the actual event, I've started to wonder about the mental state of some of those complaining. It's really been off the charts." Source

I have no complaint about receiving a gratis album of a band that I have most of their music already, but I do object to iTunes and the Apple way of doing things. I appreciate that Apple have a sleek design like quality to their products but too be honest I do not buy into the Apple lifestyle. I am not a fan of mullti-functioning devices and want my phone to make calls, my camera to take pictures and my mp3 player to play tunes. iTunes is a horrible piece of software that if Microsoft had written would be derided the world over. Apple have kudos and charisma and Microsoft are corporate and soulless. That was a good bit of marketing from the late Steve Jobs.

I don't really want to go into the issue over how U2 polarize opinion, or how people don't like free gifts that they didn't ask for, or my personal dislike of iTunes but it is a point that people will argue, or complain about anything, under the cloak of anonymity and with the spread of social media it is reaching fever pitch. It is where the Tweets have no name or in this case no shame.

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This week's reset has been very kind to me indeed, so kind that I am starting to doubt the RNG Gods and thinking that Blizzard have done some minor tweeks. What am I talking about? the Unforgettable Fire - Ordos himself (two U2 references in one post).

After many weeks of running up the mountain and waiting for the idiots to shout "123", "summons" "oi Lock get your arse in gear" and all the other abuse. By the way 123 does not mean "I am lazy git summon my worthless carcass to the top of the mountain now", it means "I agree", if you are going to be a lazy toad at least do it grammatically correct even if you are using Leet Speak.

Sorry slightly off topic, yes I have been doing 11 Ordos runs a week with 11 tokens equalling a ground breaking 22 chances of Warforged gear, very nice thank you very much you beast of fire. I was under the impression that the chances are 10% but with the sliding scale of the bonus roll, I anticipate around 3 drops for 22 chances which is not a terrible rate of 1:7 even then it will be common to go 4 weeks between drops for an individual character but for a team of 11 - I am more than happy with 3 chances of loot each week.

This was until my characters started to get decked out in warforged gear and then you are looking to fill only specific slots, and the chances of getting a drop and it being the right slot become astronomical. Ordos coughs up Head, Neck, Legs, Waist, Shoulders, Wrist and Chest (no gloves or boots). The 1:7 chance if you only need 1 particular slot becomes 1:49 and that could take up to half a year to achieve if you are lucky.

This week started off well with 2 slots missing on Bobflintston (Neck and Wrist) Bowflight Wristguards dropped. Shaman (Neck and Shoulder) received Penate's Perilous Pendant. Warlock (Head, Shoulders, Chest and Wrist) received Ulmaas' Robes of Crushing Magma. Druid (Shoulders, Chest, and Waist) received Flame Healer's Shoulderguards and Hamlet's Wind-Whipped Leggings.

I still have 2 characters to go and I have already amassed 6 items which I can use on all my characters. It might well be co-incidence and the RNG Gods are on my side for once, but personally I prefer to think that I just don't get that lucky and Blizzard have secretly adjusted the odds to give a more personalized gift. Maybe I am just getting soft in my old age.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Everything Must Go


The countdown is well and truly on, and we are less than 2 months away from the new expansion. In between there is supposed to be a month long pre-expansion (well done Blizzard, learning from the last expansion) and then it is here. That means those goals that you have been working through during the end expansion blues are nearly over and you have reality 4 more weeks or 4 more resets to achieve those goals.

The favourites are usually rare mounts, but I have also created a Hunter on the lowest population RP server to help someone try and snag Loque'nahak, only to find his own kills on every realm that he moved to. In Europe it would seem that there is only one server/realm running Northrend, but I guess some of you already suspected that might be the case. I might have objected when Cross Realm Zones were first implemented but besides from the jerky screen when crossing zones they have proved to be a useful resource saver for Blizzard and it does make an MMO seem a little bit more MMO than was previously the case.

This weekend I completed all my weekly tasks and had nothing else left to do. My bags having been getting fuller each week, so it was time to clear my bags and the bank of resources from this and previous expansions. As with all previous expansions it is about timing. Ores, Leather, Cloth and Herbs start the expansion high and dip down to the low point when the next expansion drops. They will remain in this state for months before becoming a valued low supply resource, which will push the price way beyond the average for the expansion that the resource came from.

In my example Ghost Iron Ore per stack:
Started at 100G
Average 40G
Before next expansion 30G
Start of next expansion 20G
6 Months into the next expansion 60G

In this example do you want sell your stock for 30, 20 or 60 Gold?

30 Gold is guaranteed now, 20 Gold is the likely price in 2 Months and 60 Gold is a possible based on previous expansions. This is the murky world of Stocks, Shares and Futures. Nothing is guaranteed except for the current price and if you are lucky you might get something closer to 40 Gold. The problem with hanging onto stock is the storage space. In Real Life this comes at a price and in WoW it comes with alternatives. What could I do with that bag space if it was not full to the gills with Ores, Leather, Cloth and Herbs?

Blizzard for once are coming to your rescue with larger stack sizes so 200 Ghost Iron Ore will no longer hog 10 slots in the bank but just one. This may make saving for a futures market seem more desirable, and it also means that less people are dumping their stock which causes less of force on the price due to less supply in the system.

Nothing is certain, but we do have less pressure to free up them slots. Who knows you might even choose to buy some cheap resources to sell later.

Personally I am starting the Sale early.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Hanging On The Telephone


What is the etiquette of a MMORPG? What are the unwritten rules of sharing our gaming time with nearly 7 million other people? We are all vaguely aware of the ToS and the other screens that get in our way after a major patch release. We don't read them and Blizzard often choose to ignore them so what is the point? The point is that Blizzard can act on them if they so wish, which unintentionally brings me round to an interesting post by Tobold titled, Marginal Costs and the Cost of Jerks.

If a Software company can identify the lost revenue of banning a jerk against the potential losses of said jerk forcing other to unsubscribe, the decision will become much easier to make. The $15 a month/ $180 a year loss of one undesirable against the loss of 10 people leaving and the bad reputation that is generated by 10 angry people. A loss of $180 is small compared to $1800 and rising.

Not all behaviour is covered by ToS and associated rule books and not all annoying behaviour is intentional. In two separate incidents in recent weeks I have been left shrugging my shoulders and sighing, and the worst thing was that both of them were trying to help.

The first example was when I was running my Warlock through the last hurdles of the Legendary questline. I only needed 2 Titan Runestones but I was stuck at the Norushen in Siege of Orgrimmar part 1. The Sha of Pride offers a guaranteed Runestone and I could almost smell the cloak. The only thing in my way is the useless LFR group that I was in. You know the ones that I am talking about were the group fails early on and you have no idea why you are alive and only 3 or 4 others are still up. I am no expert but I believe Norushen needs a reasonable amount of healing and a decent off tank to soak up the adds.

After 3 failures and a determination on my behalf to see this LFR to it's conclusion, I got a whisper with a question about my spec. I thought here was my opportunity to impart a little knowledge to someone who cared. I asked, "What do you want to know? and they said "Why are you using Drain Life? It does not do much damage at this level". At this point I could have exploded the party has wiped 3 times already and I am one of a small group who can manage to survive to near the end of the fight and you are questioning why I am trying to heal myself, when the healers are in capable of performing their tasks by keeping up the Tanks and more importantly healing me. I checked the logs and discovered that only one of the healers had healed me at any point in the fight.

When I pointed out that I needed to heal myself frequently, my interloper took the huff. I think he must have been part of the Healing team that was not doing it's job properly.

What I found curious by this behaviour, was that the group was failing big time, I was in the top 3 in the DPS table and I was surviving to the point of last man standing and somebody thought to call me out on my choice of spells. I have enough issues watching what I am standing in, rotating between the mobs and trying to maintain high DPS and stop my health bar hitting the ground. I have no time to watch and critique everybody else in the party. People in glass houses should not throw stones.

My second example was from last night. I was queued and waiting for Ordos to start on my Rogue. Any regular reader will know that I am in fact the worlds worst Rogue, but somehow I have got lucky and have a full set of Ordos gear on my little Gnome. I could do with a legendary cloak, some daggers and trinkets, but otherwise it is not a bad setup. The Ordos gear is fairly poor with the gem slots being mostly of a blue hue. My preference is normally to go for Purple gems with main ability and Stamina. In the case of a Rogue or Hunter I would choose Shifting Imperial Amethyst 80 Agi and 120 Stam. Not brilliant but in my opinion the best of a bad bunch.

Somebody in the raid decided to investigate my gear and came up with an attack on my gem selection, stating that Icy Veins do it this way and that I am wrong. My Rogue is Alt number 10 on a list of favourites to play. I have managed to obtain an iLevel 553 and have enchanted and gemmed every slot except for one tinker slot. My performance in the group encounter maybe worth having a word about the fight. I will agree with you that I am a poor Rogue/Melee class, but don't nit pick my gear before you have seen me in action for a minor faux pas about my gemming choices.

I find it kind of nice that people care enough to look and say something, but I am not that much in need that I need directing to Icy Veins. I don't think my characters are screaming noob, needing help so please leave it out.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Our House


Blog Names are very important. I applaud those of you who got in early and nabbed a good name for your Blog. Naming a blog about a player class by using one of the spell names is brilliant and we have some great examples like Blessing of Kings, and Icy Veins. As I wanted to write generally about WoW and I have a lot of characters to draw from I wanted to use something with a word play on Alt. At this point you realise all the best one have gone Altoholics Anonymous, and Alt:ernative Chat being prime examples.

When you have had several blog names be rejected you become happy when any pass the magical first step Qwertyuiop.BlogSpot.com does not quite cut the mustard. I ended up with a nonsense word based on Alts, Cataclysm and Orgasmic. To be honest I was never entirely happy with title. Everybody else was far more inventive and original than mine and besides it is based on probably the worst WoW expansion which is nearly 2 expansion ago.

I was pondering the new expansion name Warlords of Draenor, which soon got changed to Warlocks of Draenor, but I am not Warlock centric and besides that name has probably already gone. On a similar vein there is something quintessentially WoW about Murlocs. They have popped up throughout WoW's history and are normally the butt of Blizzard jokes like Grunty the Murloc Marine.
Grunty - Giveaway from Blizzcon 2009
In vanilla WoW Murlocs were a pain in the arse, and fighting one would normally mean fighting the entire camp. Classic examples could be found in Wetlands and Stranglethorn Vale, but in the Burning Crusade Expansion Isle of Quel'Danas they got a renaissance when as part of the dailies you needed to free the Murlocs to attack their Naga overlords. In Wrath of the Lich King they had a swathe of coastline and a cave in Borean Tundra, but since then we have not seen a lot of the amphibious Humanoids.

Now is the time to properly honour our little scaly friends and instead of a another Horde centric expansion we should have a return of the gobble, with Murlocs of Draenor. That way I am totally in with the smart kids after reserving the blog name several months ago.

I know that some of the Bloggers have tried multiple blogs before the Grumpy Elf has 4 different blogs, Alt:ernative Chat started another blog for spoilers but soon put a stop to that.

My questions are thus:
  1. Should I pack up my home and move to a new blog name (namely Murlocs of Draenor)
  2. Stay put and forget I ever wrote this post?
  3. Play around with different content on different blogs?
Seriously folks I would really value your opinion on this one.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Grand Prix


I was reading the late edition of Grumpy's Monday Ramblings (on a Tuesday), and I am now starting to get very worried.

"Basically, beta is just in seriously bad shape. No non raid or dungeon content at max level.
 Raid and dungeon content is tuned way to high. There is no incentive to do raid or dungeon content. Yeah, I do not see this turning out well for blizzard. Not at all.

I guess there is still time for blizzard to add content, but they better get off their ass and add it because time is running out. I've been a part of many betas for many different game and I have never seen one so incomplete this close to release as warlords is.

And if this is complete, with nothing to do, I really have to ask blizzard, what are you thinking."


I have not seen the beta but I was worried that this is the case. In my many years of dealing with Blizzard the opposite is normally the case. We will have a polished game ready for release and then Blizzard will spend 2 months adding extra sparkle, giving it a rinse and set and then only delivering when the product is ready.

I am guessing the DVD's have been burned for a few weeks and almost ready for the shops, so thankfully for Blizzard it is essentially a license in a box that they are buying from the shop. The big download will come in the weeks before launch. Right now Blizzard look like they have no expansion to launch with. I am anticipating content to come in patches and a bare expansion with 10 more levels, a new land (sort of) and Garrisons.

A quick browse of the Internet and you would think that there is no problem. 13th November 2014 is set in stone, but is it? Did a major Software House ever miss a launch date? Does Blizzard intend to give us a turd and polish it over time?

The Anniversary celebrations and Blizzcon are both going to take a chunk out of developers time, and unless they are holding back several updates I am starting to get worried that Blizzard can actually provide on time. After several months of "no content" a lot of goodwill will have gone out the window, and Blizzard will stand to lose big time at a time when they should be courting returning players and new players.

Does anybody else feel that Blizzard are letting this one slip? or is this already in the can and could be released in a month if they really wanted?

Monday, 1 September 2014

Let There Be Rock


Recently, I have wanted to write but with nothing going on in game, and not being invited to join in with the popular kids on Beta, I am been left to twiddle my thumbs on my own.

Last weeks break news (in my house) was that my wife is taking tentative steps to playing again. Her Panda Hunter nestled in the Alliance fold on a different realm to myself is struggling for bag space and money. My wife was never the best with WoW Gold, so I have been playing a big daddy role on my son's Night Elf Death Knight in an attempt to make money for my wife to smooth the levelling process.

The Realm is Kilrogg-EU and it is already connected to what appears like 3 other servers. I am used to a low population server so seeing such a flurry of activity everywhere I go is quite an eye opener. I choose to use a Death Knight to make money because it is the highest level character on that Realm.  The high the level more options for money making there are. On my low population nobody needs Peacebloom, Earth Root and Silverleaf, so they tend to sell for coppers or vendor trash. Once the herbs are of a level to be milled for the Inscription inks, they start to acquire a value. On Kilrogg everything sells, There is high demand and high supply but every sells and at good prices.

My other profession for money making is Mining. On every server there is always a demand for Copper Ore and upward, and on Kilrogg there is money to be made. The problem with 2 gathering professions is trying to keep them synchronised. There are more plants to be gathered, but mining gets a boost from smelting. Blizzard have not always kept the ores and plants together at the appropriate levels, which means that you are mining in areas where you cannot herb yet and vice versa. The trick is to find the zone that best suits both gathering professions. In the Hinterland I found at least two herbs that should not have been in that zone, with the zone being designed for level 30-35 it should not have herbs that require 275 Herbing skill. It is probably a throwback to the old zone or at least it contains some rogue code.

Bind-on-Account as proved to be an absolute godsend with all characters sharing Mounts and Pets as well as the Heirloom gear that is now available via mail. If like me you have never done this, simply open a mail, write the name of the character add a hyphen and the realm name, and it should look like this "Bob - Bob's New Server".

My original target was quite modest, to raise around 50 Gold so that I could buy 5x Netherweave Bags. This 16 slot wonders are still brilliant sellers many expansions after they should be. The combination of size and price, guarantee the perfect sweet spot. From my experience the price fluctuates between 7-15 Gold, so I was delighted to sell my copper bars for a huge mark-up and to buy my bags for 6 Gold.

I made around 100 Gold in the first session, and this was to be settling in period. I next decide that I could make more money and be more efficient if I could fly around Azeroth. This meant 30 minutes doing Outlands quests to get to level 60 (from 58) and then discovered that Flying was 250 Gold. A few more quests to gather the money and I was able to fly around Honor Hold. After going back through the portal I was disappointed to find that I still could not fly in Azeroth. I headed back to Stormwind, completed a quest with the Mount Trainer in Stormwind and wrongly assumed that I was now able to fly. I jumped off the Gryphon nest and plummeted downwards towards the Stormwind moat.

It transpires that I need to cross a palm with 250 gold to gain another licence to fly. Azeroth seems to require more paperwork than a French Bureaucrat. It might seem odd, that in order to make money I am spending money, but it transpires that 500 Gold to level my professions is money very well spent. Even on a slow flying mount the results are very tangible. I am now able to mount, fly up the side of mountain, dismount and then get my pick out of my bag and work the node until it is completely empty. I am not at a position where accidentally bumping into mobs is a problem, but it is nice to avoid any kind of drama, when I am only interested in the loot and not the mob guarding it.

I have found it completely compelling game play, to maximise the resource gathering in zones that are as comfortable as a pair of old slippers. I have need to research mount trainers, and consult with profession guides, and from my perspective, Blizzard still needs to go along way to help new starters through a fragmented series of expansions, and it now seems like giving out max level characters is one way to avoid this problem.

One thing I can take away from the weekend experience is that I am looking forward to Connected Realms on my main server. However with the extra players comes an increase in the number of jerks and fun suckers that you will encounter. It is interesting that twice my wife was subjected to Ganking, and Corpse sitting on a PvE server (why was this ever a thing on PvE servers?), and the other Horde favourite of find a bunch of low level Alliance players and then kill all the quest givers. If Blizzard is genuine about stopping the fun suckers, then making the NPC's into Steven Segal (Just a lowly cook), would be a nice twist.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Back On The Chain Gang


Last week I had a moan about the increased use of different media to tell the WoW story. My main argument is that the story of the game should be told in the game. I still believe this to be the case, but I rather enjoyed the Hellscream short story by Robert Brooks.

My only issue is that, the story for me reads as Garrosh is subjugated, imprisoned and then by an act unknown finds himself in Draenor with Kairoz. The huge gaping hole in the story appears, one presumes in the Christie Golden book War Crimes, but that is just a guess, there maybe something in between. It is not my job to pull the disparate strands together to make a story, it is Blizzard's job to provide a game that makes sense. This last statement however, seems like I am asking too much, because if Alternative Chat is right, we are potentially in for a Time Travelling Franchise that can lurch any way it wants and visit any point in history. After that happens the Lore changes forever and we are left just a ball of Timey Wimey stuff in the middle.

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Four Years Ago, The Cataclysm took my wife away from me. Deathwing and Blizzard's policy of harder content knocked the stuffing out of her and she cancelled the subscription and never looked back.

This last week she has been ramping up her playtime from not playing to making sure I have something to watch on TV so she can sneak onto my computer. I am making sure not to stand in her way just in case this turns out to be more than just a little flirting.

My Wife is playing a Panda Hunter and it is very funny watching her struggle along. Everything is familiar and everything is different. She knows what she wants to do but not how to do it any more. All the 1-60 zones have changed, professions have changed, Class trainers are still there but they have limited abilities left.

What is quite funny is that I told my wife about the MoP free copy for returning players about 9 days ago, and she scoffed at the idea. I am guessing that I merely planted a little seed that I am hoping will eventually germinate, but we will have to wait and see (Oov and anybody that knows my wife, keep those scrolls of resurrection to yourself).

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In my own game time, I am rapidly running out of content. I have 3 Legendary cloaks and 3 in the process. Every time you complete another Legendary it feels like the process is getting easier due to the Gaze of the Black Prince, and then you hit another wall in the form of the PvP content.

I hit "The Lion Roars" and as usual a quick win in Temple of Kotmogu and then 10 days to win a Silvershard Mines by a margin of less than 30. What surprised me more than anything was the mentality of the Alliance. "I hate Blizzard for making me PvP", "The Horde are picking on me", "Why do I need PvP gear just to get one win?"

The last comment in particular got my hackles up. I have found a weird correlation in battlegrounds, and the more PvP gear I have the more the Alliance seem to win. One less person demanding to be boosted through content. My second Hunter sporting 10% PvP power can now scratch an opponent but not much more. The ability to survive a little longer does however make a difference in a payload battleground.

I encountered some people with less than 500 iLevel and all of their gear is PvE, and they are expecting to win against organised teams of Russian Mafia who appear to swarm all over the battleground in unison.

If you want to obtain a Legendary item you should put some effort into the process. I have re-specced and re-glyphed, I have done Tol Borad and Wintergrasp, and anything with Honor Points. It took 10 days to complete, but it is worthwhile and rewarding, because I put the effort in.

Blizzard have indicated that a Legendary questline for a Ring, will be in place for Warlords of Draenor. It is going to be interesting to see which aspects are removed and what aspects that we will see more of. It is obviously not going to keep a 6 week hiatus in place while we hunt out 6000 Valor points. The main reason is that Valor is no more, and the fact that it was an extremely frustrating hurdle might have something to do with it.