Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Hard Rock Cafe

Ok, so it's nearly a week ago since my visit to the Hard Rock Cafe Manchester, but it is still worthy of a mention. It was a most splendid evening, with the possible exception of my son getting a little tired and fractious. The staff were all brilliant and very accommodating, and I even turned down the chance for a bucket of beer (no quantity specified), in favour of a milk shake and several pints of coke.

The choice of food is fairly limited but they do a rather splendid line in burgers. This was the burger of choice for the adults.

Hickory BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Mistaken Identity

In an attempt to make my Blog space a little more pleasing on the eye, I tend to google the subject matter to find a suitable picture or artwork. I am not intentionally stealing peoples artwork for huge profits. I am definitely a not-for-profit organisation and I am not deliberately infringing on copyrights and trademarks.

The screenshot above is from Google Images, and I have no idea how it works or prioritises the list, but I seem to have emerged in 3rd spot on the search for Highway to Hell. 100 people, have visited Altaclysmic for the sole purpose of saving the picture from the iconic 1979 AC/DC album.

The mystery is solved and it is not the content of my blog that is creating the traffic it is merely the quality of my chosen artwork. Perhaps I can cover my blog in Google icons, that should just about do it.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Jurassic Park

29th November 2011, was the last content patch for World of Warcraft. In the 6 months since it is fair to say that most people have readily consumed all the content  supplied with that patch. I am 6/8 in Dragon Soul after the two occasions when I could be bothered to raid with the guild. I have had my fill of the LFR system. Theoretically we could still be 6 months away from the new expansion. Numbers are dwindling, the summer approaches with the promise of cold beer to be drunk outside whilst gnawing on carbonised meat. The biggest WoW killer appears to be Blizzard itself both with lack of new content and Diablo III.

I recently confessed in a recent post, that I set myself stupid little short term goals. These goals however stupid must be attainable without requiring too much of a time sink. My last set of targets stated just 4 short days ago will be completed tonight. So it is time to set some new goals or risk logging in and staring absent mindedly at the Dwarven Quarter of Stormwind.

The biggest task I had in the last set of goals was levelling Archaeology on no less than 5 characters up to a minimum of 100. This was achieved entirely on the Eastern Kingdoms continent which mostly involves lots of Troll sites in Stranglethorn Vale. It was during these visits that I discovered than on at least 2 of the characters the mysterious Bwemba was hovering behind me and making those tombstone clicks a little bit harder. On the subject of the Bwemba quests, they appear to have been nerfed a little, in particular the once very annoying Voodoo Zombies, which required the rescuing of 10 Digsite Survivors. When first implemented the droprate was around 1 in 3 and is now a guaranteed droprate. If you have not done this chain it is well worth it and rewards are quite handsome and you get the lovely Panther Cub all for about 30 minutes of your time.

During my forays into Stranglethorn Vale, ethnically cleansing the area of Trolls armed only with a fishing rod, I was very surprised at this random drop. I had mistakenly assumed that this companion was still in the new 5 Man Heroic Zul'Gurub. The low droprate of around 0.01% is the reason for the AH price in excess of 4000G, but with the new changes in MoP this is pet will now be available for all of my characters.

This got me thinking about how little we know about the World of Warcraft, even the people who read incessantly on the subject only know what they want to know or have had personal experience of. The raid dances are drilled into every raider until they know exactly what to do instinctively, it takes practice and we all shortcut the process by watching videos and reading up on tactics.

In recent months I have discovered the quest chain Lawn of the Dead and the gem market for Epic WotLK gems especially the Cardinal Ruby. The Lawn of the Dead quest chain I discovered because I wanted the pet and went off and researched it. The Epic gem was a post from Foo which occurred at the same time that I had run out of things to do with Justice Points.

We read blogs, not just for entertainment but also to look at how other people are playing the same game as ourselves. Essentially we are all looking for a little nugget of information to extend our gaming pleasure.

Archaeology is not something I would include in a list of extending my gaming pleasure, but I wanted to share some recent discoveries about this most heinous of secondary professions.

Skilling up - this seems to take as long as fishing to level. Skillups are awarded for every relic up to level 50. You are awarded 1 point fro learning the basic skill, so the most efficient way to level is find 17 digsites and exhume all 3 relics. Word of warning that you can only keep a maximum of 200 fragments per race. At level 50 go to your trainer and try not to punch Harrison Jones, learn the skill up to 150 and then go outside preferably near a vendor and complete the fragments for 5 skillup points. This will normally put your skill somewhere between 90-100.

Addons - I tried several addons when Cata first came out and most of them are concerned with changing the default UI for completing the fragments. The Blizzard version is perfectly acceptable for the process. My number 1 tip was in the recording of the relic finds at the digsites. In the end I changed from using Gatherer to GatherMate2. When finding a fresh site, start the survey spell when you are at the site of a previous relic. The relics tend to appear in a set number of places and so it can dramatically reduce the number of surveys required.

Nerf - thankfully Blizzard felt our pain and increased the average number of fragments found per dig.

Mists of Pandaria is likely to bring some changes to the profession to reduce the RNG aspect but I doubt whether it will ever be a fun activity.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Upper Class Twit Of The Year

Having monitored the Blogger stats for a few weeks it would appear that when a post contains anything to do with Monty Python's Flying Circus, the viewing figures increase dramatically. So in the interest of research I am putting in a shameless plug for the Upper Class Twit of Year.

It seems appropriate somehow in 2012 the year of the London Olympics with the London mayor Boris Johnson and his fellow cronies the PM Dave "too many tweets make a twat" Cameron, and the Chancellor George Gideon Oliver Osbourne.

It's Official says I'm a Highly Dorky High Nerd.  Click here to take the Nerd Test, get nerdy images and jokes, and write on the nerd forum!

Hard Rock Calling

I was woken up this morning by my wife, asking if I wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe in Manchester (England) tonight. When I came round a bit, I asked why the Hard Rock Cafe, to which she stated that we had won a table for 4 tonight on a Radio competition.

So big thanks to Hard Rock Cafe, Real Radio XS and of course my lovely wife for entering the competition.

This kind of thing makes you feel happy all day.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

It's not always easy to write blog posts. You get an idea and then you let the idea take root and grow. At this point you find out whether you have enough content to write about. Other times you read what somebody else as already done and take that in your direction. This particular post is taking shape in ways that I never intended it to. I am not an expert on the subject I am merely working through my own observations.
My son exhibits unusual signs of mild OCD. When asked to tidy away his items and put them in a cupboard, he will quite often start by taking out all the contents of the cupboard and rearranging items with a fresh start. My daughter would just fill the cupboard until nothing falls out when you open the door.

I personally suffer from what is termed an addictive personality disorder. In many ways this is closely linked with OCD. These addictions can manifest themselves in many ways but the most common addictions are “drug and alcohol abuse to pornography, gambling, Internet, videogames, food, exercise, work and even relationships with others.” As a gamer, everybody seems to feel the need to tell us that we are addicted to games and that we should get outside more and partake in more real life events. I am also a collector of various things like Single Malt Whisky, CD's, DVD's computer parts etc. The other thing about collecting CD's DVD's is the need to display in a alphabetical and chronological order.

OCD and Addictive Personality Disorder are usually diagnosed and treated depending on scoring systems like the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. I believe that everybody sits on the scale for OCD with the vast majority of people placed at the low end of the scale. The definitions used in the  scale are as follows

"OBSESSIONS are unwelcome and distressing ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that repeatedly enter your mind. They may seem to occur against your will. They may be repugnant to you, you may recognize them as senseless, and they may not fit your personality."

In gaming terms, I would guess that very few people would consider thinking about, or having images or impulses connected to WoW or another game is actually repugnant. So from an OCD point of view we are not obsessive, but from a general society viewpoint it might be considered to be unusual or not the norm.

"COMPULSIONS, on the other hand, are behaviors or acts that you feel driven to perform although you may recognize them as senseless or excessive. At times, you may try to resist doing them but this may prove difficult. You may experience anxiety that does not diminish until the behavior is completed."

Compulsions could be seen as the need to logon to the game at every opportunity. This definition appears to be more pertinent to the gaming community.

The Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale includes many different sections which are listed below:

1.      Aggressive Obsessions

2.      Contamination Obsessions

3.      Sexual Obsessions

4.      Hoarding / Saving Obsessions

5.      Religious Obsessions

6.      Obsession With Need For Symmetry Or Exactness

7.      Miscellaneous Obsessions

8.      Somatic Obsessions

9.      Cleaning/Washing Compulsions

10.  Checking Compulsions

11.  Repeating Compulsions

12.  Counting Compulsions

13.  Ordering / Arranging Compulsions

14.  Hoarding / Collecting Compulsions

15.  Miscellaneous Compulsions

Repeating Compulsions, take the form of routines, and repeat activities, in WoW we call these dailies or rep grinds. They are in place to bulk up the end game content, the rewards can be quite small and incremental but sufficient to encourage us to do boring repetitive tasks over and over again.
Ordering / Arranging Compulsions, this is for the people who spend hours rearranging our inventory in bags, bankspace and void storage. The latest craze for transmogging all items to obtain a certain look plays very heavily on this compulsion. The less inclined will stop transmogging for the 5 new levels up to 90 and will wait until the endgame before re-applying their chosen look.

Hoarding / Collecting Compulsions, this is possibly the most obvious part of MMO’s. The need to hoard and collect gear, pets, mounts, tittles and achievements.
Do MMO’s attract people with OCD?  or are the games companies slowly turning people into obsessive compulsives?

Much has been made of the business world trying to tap into the computer game reward system. The business terminology is called “gamification” and is an attempt to reward effort, performance and loyalty with more than financial incentives. Modern life is going to try to tap into obsessive compulsive behaviour in an attempt to maintain brand loyalty and familiar shopping patterns. The more industrialised the environment the more likely that OCD will occur.

The screenshot above taken using the Altoholic addon, is an example of my own obsessive compulsive behaviour. The first thing you will notice is that all the primary professions are maxed out, and so are Cooking and First Aid. I have set myself strange goals to be completed before the next expansion. One of these goals is the achievement of 261 fishing skill. Why would I set such a figure? that is when the red turns to orange. Does that make any sense to you? Well to me red is an abrasive colour. A random internet dictionary states that red symbolises,

"Red symbolises intense passion,aggression,and courage. It can also symbolise sexual impulses, danger and shame. Red is usually not a favourite colour for negotiations or meetings and is great for drawing attention to things."

Maybe it is the shame, I don't know but it is driving me on to achieve a target.

The next thing that strikes me is the lack of effort I have put into archaeology. My head tells me that it is a wasteful skill with no merit or benefit but I still feel the need to raise all my characters to at least 100 points no doubt that will then turn into 150, 200 or even 261.

The other problem I have, is that I am also inherently lazy and will seek the passage of least resistance. This can be compensated for by the obtaining of two targets at the same time providing they have a reasonable level of compatibility. In this case, I have a need for low level herbs, so I can herb and dig up ancient sites for buried treasure at the same time.

Monday, 21 May 2012

48 Hours

Another weekend has past us all by. The most exciting thing for me was seeing my son, riding his bike for the first time. Just need to get him to swim, and my job as a parent is almost done. In my opinion there are several key areas in a childs development, reading, writing, and numeracy are key skills learned mostly in a school environment, then the fun things which are parental responsibility like swimming and riding a bike, and of course much later driving a car.

The weekend allowed some game time which was split between WoW and Diablo III. My interest in Diablo is starting to wane, due mostly to the problems I have killing the bosses. I guess that I am either a real noob or I am missing something like lightning reflexes.

As a long standing gamer stretching back to pong, I have played all types of computer games, but some genres are best left in cupboard marked frustrating. I never understood the idea of realtime flight simulators, and was completely baffled to find that a work colleague was currently flying from Manchester to New York in a 747 and he had to get home at lunch time to land the plane. Over games that do not cut the mustard are platform games. Anybody recognising the picture below might understand my frustration.

For those of you, not old enough to have experienced the Atari 800 or the Comodore 64, this is a classic from 1982, Pitfall. This is what Wikipedia has to say on the subject, "

The player must maneuver a character (Pitfall Harry) through a maze-like jungle in an attempt to recover 32 treasures in a 20-minute time period. Along the way, he must negotiate numerous hazards, including pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. Harry may jump over or otherwise avoid these obstacles by climbing, running, or swinging on a vine to avoid them. Treasure includes gold and silver bars, diamond rings, and bags of money. Under the jungle there is a tunnel which Harry can access through ladders found at various places. Travelling in the tunnel moves three screens at a time, which is required to collect all the treasures within the time limit. However, the tunnels are filled with dead-ends blocked by brick walls, forcing the player return to the surface at one of the ladders, and try to find a way around again. The tunnels also contain scorpions Harry must avoid." The rolling logs, the swinging vines all required split second reflexes or you would soon be staring at the “GAME OVER” screen. The description above still brings me out in a rash.

This is how I am starting to feel about Diablo III, and then I read the latest post from Tobold and I am starting to see things a little clearer. The gameplay is a throwback to Diablo II which is 12 years old, and sits in the pantheon with classics like Pokemon, Roller Coaster Tycoon, Super Mario Bros Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater and Gran Turismo 2. Classics they may be but would you want to play them again. I was appalled at how bad the graphics were on the PS2 when I plugged it in and fired up Gran Turismo 2 a few months ago. I realise now that I am only playing Diablo III, because it is Blizzard and they gave it to me free as a loyality bonus for 12 months subscription.

In summary Diablo III at the boss stages is too twitchy, the gamestyle is old even if the graphics are sharp and the game polished, Everything that Tobold discusses in the fictional Hack 'n' Slay is perfectly true of Diablo III.

Will I continue to play Diablo III? I think the answer is occasionally, but for now I am returning to my bedrock and awaiting the coming Panda explosion.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The King Is Dead

The King is Dead, Long Live Deckard Cain. Not much playing time last night, but I did manage to get past my roadblock of the Skeleton King. I have not worked out how to group with people doing the same quest but I did find a fellow guild member who had sent an invite.

The Skeleton King everybody tells me is easy. I disagree but I did find it considerably easier with an extra level (now 10) and 2 extra levels for my bold companion the Templar (9). On the first few attempts the Templar died within a matter of seconds facing up to the mighty cleaving axe of the Skeleton King. Now with 2 extra levels he soaks up the damage and never dies.

Demon Hunters do not soak damage very well and the main trick is to keep moving and keep on top of the massed number of summoned skeletons. Use the red vials to top up the health and dig in for a long fight. I guess in a group this is very easy but solo, requires constant movement and a good deal of concentration.

I achieved the extra level by revisiting areas and finding that they have re-populated overnight. There does not seem a way to level up any other way, with the questing being very linear.

Next up Act II and with the weekend coming up I should get some decent playtime in.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be

Diablo III, well I am now up and running with a Demon Hunter. I still have no idea what I am doing but I am a level 9 Demon Hunter. No issues logging on but that might have more to do with the article I read at The Poison Mushroom. It seems that I was not the only person having issues on launch day and Tobold makes a valid point that single player gamers will not be used to online authentication and big queues on launch day and the first weekend after launch.

My first impressions are that I really like it, but I have no idea what I am doing. I click click click until things die, I can sort out inventory,and I can hit flashing buttons until they stop flashing. The big thing was I discovered I can die and die again at the same boss.

The boss in question was the Lich King (Skeleton King). He dispatched my Templar in 2 seconds and comes chasing after me. I managed to survive for awhile by dropping traps and running around like a headless chicken, but I do so little damage to him. I have no idea if I am the right level to face him, or does it not work like that, I suspect it does with it being a Blizzard game. After a little bit of research I can confirm that the Skeleton King is Level 8 and I was Level 8 at the time and my Templar was level 5. I did what I would do in WoW which is obtain another level and see if that works, I also upgraded the equipment carried by my Templar, and I will re-attempt tonight.

The problem with grinding a level, is that you need to find monsters to kill, and if you have cleared the area already then are no respawns to repeatedly turn into a greasy smear. Go find areas that still have the fog of war on them and beat them up and move on.

The gameplay is definitely click, click, click. It reminds me of wearing out a mouse playing Sim City, or the beating that the keyboard used to receive in Daley Thompson's Decathlon. Move with mouse, shoot with mouse, it takes a little bit of co-ordination and often find myself moving instead of shooting. It was slightly odd to go back to WoW and find that my DK did not move by left clicking a vacant bit of land next to the mailbox.

Initial impression of the game are very good, and I will certainly play for a few weeks, but I guess that is why MMO's and WoW are better, you know there is always something to do, even if it involves repeating the same content.

Tonight the Lich King will die. I hope so otherwise I am a bit stuck.

*Update - There appears to be a random grouping which is done through the battlenet account, no idea how it works and why it can't be toggled from the game. I shall investigate tonight.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Highway To Hell

Continuing the theme of AC/DC and Diablo, I have a tale of woe to tell. Last night I had 2 aims, firstly was to update my add-ons and test TradeSkillMaster, secondly was to install and play Diablo III.

TradeSkillMaster is a very complexed piece of code that eats into activity that I have previously had covered with other add-ons, like Auctioneer, Postal, and Auction Profit Manager. The first thing to report was that errors appeared on login, so all the add-ons are nicely fighting each other. The second is that UI which is very unwowlike, is remarkably slick. I can see a huge benefit to some of the functionality but right now I just wanted to bulk post Glyphs at an undercut price, which is better than a standard 50G that APM was assigning. Once I discovered were to implement the configuration I found that it was exactly like APM, which is a real surprise considering they were both coded by the same person. Add-ons in place time to turn to Diablo III.

I installed Diablo III and went to activate on Battlenet, only to discover that my authenticator was still at work. Oh dear, perhaps I had already activated when I originally downloaded my electronic copy. The install finished I watched the mightily impressive trailer and then entered my details to play the game. Error 37 the game is currently full and can not accept anymore concurrent users. Damn!

Back to WoW then. I was unhappy with APM for placing single auctions, so I added Auctioneer back on the load list, which means that I am running 2 AH databases on the same character, which is bound to affect performance.

So there is no Highway to Hell for me, but I am sure there is going to be lots more queueing in Diablo III until the servers are balanced out to take the huge load.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Hells Bells

Add-ons -  does anybody play World of Warcraft without them? They are both a boon and a bane, and almost everybody uses them. Blizzard in their infinite wisdom gave us a UI which is full customisable, then left us with a UI that was functional but mostly not up to the task of Raiding, PvPing, crafting and Auction House activity.

If you don't believe me try playing without one of these:

  1. Raiding - Recount or equivalent information gatherer on Damage per Second, Healing per Second, dispels, and damge done (I nearly missed off Deadly Boss Mods).
  2. Raid Healing - Healbot Continued or one of the multitude of alternatives.
  3. PvPing - whilst not essential, in order to be most effective I use Healers must Die.
  4. Auction House - without Auctioneer or one of the alternatives.
The game allows for infinite customisation, but that comes at a cost. The cost for most of us is updating addons on a semi-regular basis. I remember a time before Microsoft did auto updates on the middle Wednesday of every month. There is no excuse for your PC to be without the latest update, only the downside of automation is allowing Microsoft to chuck out the occasional bad bit of coding. I have seen it crash every laptop at one company I worked for, to smaller quirks like Excel updates that stop it printing graphs with legends on. The same is true of add-ons and I have no plan to automate the process from So I am left with a tedious job of manually updating my army of add-ons.

Am I wrong to not trust a 3rd party to refresh my add-ons? I don't know my WoW install is very important me and takes an age to re-install. How well do you trust somebody elses code to update an important part of your favourite game?

When there is a new patch out and I see the EULA and ToS screens, I am not thinking about the wonderful new content I am wondering which of my favourite add-ons are broken and no longer have any support for it.

I have recently re-installed an unsupported add-on Auction Profit Master, this used to be such an important weapon in my arsenal of glyph making tools. The addon still contains all my previous settings and the buttons have been improved but ultimately it does not post my glyphs at the right price. My alternative is to install and master  what I believe to be the much more complexed TradeSkillMaster, which comes with a host of modules, and whilst I am at it I might as well updates all those other add-ons that are no doubt out of date.

Monday, 14 May 2012

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

The long awaited release of Diablo III is nearly upon us. I have no idea what is going on, having no history or connection to this game. I am very excited and my electronic download is in place and waiting for lift off.

I get a feeling that WoW is going to be as quiet as Ironforge for a few days, and what is worse, is that it is entirely Blizzard sanctioned. Might be a good time to collect some herbs and ores.

This Post Is Deceased

As a request for a friend, and the recent relegation of my beloved football team out of the English Premier League, I present the Dead Parrot Sketch. Most of you will of course be able to recite most of the lines from this most infamous of Monty Python sketches, the thing that struck me most odd was the habit of the Python team to set them in obscure locations, in this instance a Pet Shop in Bolton, Lancashire.

With the new expansion of MoP and the increased amount of companion pets for the World of Pokemon meta game, I just wondered whether there might be room for a Norwegian Blue, nailed onto the perch or otherwise. My winning team would consist of the Enchanted Broom, Scooter the Snail and the Norwegian Blue.

If I hadn't nailed this post to the perch it would definitely be pushing up the daisies.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The Professionals

According to Wikipedia, "The Professionals was a British crime-action television drama series produced by Avengers Mk1 Productions and London Weekend Television that aired on the ITV network from 1977 to 1983. In all, 57 episodes were produced, filmed between 1977 and 1981. It starred Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins and Gordon Jackson as agents of the fictional "CI5". The series was conceived as a response to The Sweeney."

I have always been a big fan of the WoW pop culture references, but this one baffles me slightly. The Professionals is a gritty British crime drama from the late 70's early 80's and as such not the kind of programme that might easily be exported to the USA, Australia maybe but not America. Now you may be wondering what this as got to do with World of Warcraft, let me present the evidence.

1. In Stormwind there is a mysterious spy network SI:7, the Professionals was a fictional British Spy department CI5, which is an amalgam of Criminal Investigation Department and MI5/MI6.

2. The main SI:7 character is Mathias Shaw, one of the 3 main characters in the Professionals is Martin Shaw.

Ok so that is the only two connections I can find, but is it any more tenuous than a Lumberjack called Terry Palin?

It would appear we can expect some new SI:7 activity in Pandaland.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Riders On The Storm

News from Blizzard and currently live on the Beta, are changes to account-wide mounts and achievements. The whole system is currently up for debate, but Blizzard are indicating their current direction for mounts, pets, titles and achievements, the plans at this stage seem logical and very fair.
The design philosophy as outlined by Ghostcrawler, "Overall, we never want you to play Character A instead of Character B because of achievement concerns." also, "Having alts is cool and working on achievements is cool, but we don't the two systems to work against each other". This design philosophy is achievable but is less snappy than previous edicts "Bring the player not the class" and "The Hybrid Tax".

The benefits of this system are many fold, as an Altoholic you could have a Rogue for PvP, a Resto Shaman for healing in Raids, and a Hunter for all other achievements. items such as Honor Kills, total money looted, dailies completed will become account wide totals. Does this have an adverse effect on Main character only players, possibly but why would want to do more than 25 dailies?

I personally will benefit greatly from this new design. In WotLK, I raided Ulduar, Trial of the Crusader, and Icecrown Citadel as a Resto Shaman, I PvPed as a Death Knight, and collected achievements on a BM Hunter. When MoP comes out I will collect a load of new account-wide achievements from this expansion. In Cata I have mostly raided, PvPed and achievement collected on my Hunter so there will be very little benefit.

Mounts will save altoholics a King's Ransom in gold. The main gold sinks of  Mekgineer's Chopper, Traveller's Tundra Mammoth, and Vial of Sands. will now be available to all your characters. In addition throw in the RNG mounts from the Holiday achievements and you are looking at Kodos, Rams, and Reins of the Headless Horseman. Of these I look forward to having a fiery flying stead on my Death Knight instead of a Paladin but then again thats why this is random loot event.

Now the 3rd type of mounts which is currently avaialble on Beta but probably will not make production are the profession only mounts, Flying Carpet and Roflcopter. The likelihood is they will appear in your stable of mounts but will be unusable without the required skill level.

The 4th type are the Class based mounts which are awarded to Paladin and Warlocks. What will happen to these mounts is as yet unclear.

What is clear is that Blizzard are attempting to give players more choices in game. How to play the game, and what we look like whilst playing the game (Transmogrification). I feel sorry for the x-mog fans as they have 5 more levels of constant gear changes in the upcoming expansion.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Paranoid Android

"Marvin: Life? Don't talk to me about life!" Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

It's been a strange old week in the Blog World. Having spent a few months writing blog posts for nobody but me and a webcrawler based in Russia, I have suddenly found visitors at Altaclysmic. Since joining NBI, I have seen a steady increase in the numbers and received a further boost with a link from Biobreak. Possibly the biggest shock of last week was earning a comment from Tobold, I guess it was not a shock that he found me after I wrote a post which included a whole paragraph from his recent post on the NBI.

I started this blog which is not my first, as a means to pass a little time during my Lunch Break. Nobody expects to get visitors when you start, but also you are quite surprised when the world does not discover you as the next big thing. I believe this is how every Rock Band/Musical Troupe must start off on their careers. Most of course do not last the course disillusionment, boredom, and in fighting, only the chosen few make the grade. Authors are a similar breed, and every person believes they have at least one novel in them.

Tonight I am going to see Justin Currie in concert.  Who is that you might ask? Well Justin was and still is in a band called Del Amitri. He is a bit more cerebral than the average rock star, but he also seems to be suffering from a certain amount of mental angst. The band achieved a certain status in the Rock World, but never moved on to global stardom and eventually got axed by their record label. Justin seems a little bit angry at the world and is very self-deprecating (see link to website), but at the end of the day he is still making music and playing in front of his fans. I am sure most people would love to trade places with him.

Anyway back to blogging, if you have any designs on blogging, just do it. Tobold pointed out that if you want the massive number of visitors then find a hot topic, A new game (Diablo III) find your niche and pull those visitors to your website, just be wary that the more niche the subject the more narrow your topics are going to be. Tobold and Gevlon have both sacrificed number of visitors in favour of writing about something else. In fact Gevlon has done this on more than one occasion. BRK now only writes the occasional entry, and mostly on a cooking theme.

Do you want the numbers, or do you want to write about something you care about? Personally I am going to write about whatever comes into my head. If you like it, then good, if not, then there will always be another post that might interest you. We all want more visitors, but at the end of the day Don't Panic, because Nothing Ever Happens, Nothing Happens at All.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Resistance Is Futile

Darkmoon Faire is back in town, and for some of us, especially those with multiple characters it is a good time to get a boost to some of our professions. I am in a particularly good place with maxed out primary professions, plus Cooking and First Aid on all my toons. In the past it would be absolute madness to try to level fishing on more than one character. Now with the aid of dailies I have 10 alts all with a minimum of 200 fishing. I believe that 100 is the minimum for fishing in pools, so at least they can stop off and fish the debris and salvage pools if they come across one. The main reason for leveling is something to do in the lull before the call up to LFD or LFR. After awhile I then start setting minimum targets, all characters minimum 100 then 200 and the latest is 261 so that the colour changes from red to orange on the Altoholic addon. The reason any of this is possible is due to Blizzard over time reducing the difficulty of fishing. 1-25 used to be absolutely painful, the time delay between a miss and a hit was minuscule indeed. After this it got easier because you could add lures and better rods, but ultimately you only needed one character to catch all the fish for all your characters. In vanila there used to be a quest at level 225 in order to get the final proficency from 225 to 300. It was estimated that it would take about 300 catches across 2 continents to get all the rare fish needed for the quest.

The Darkmoon Faire affords the less motivated the chance to gain 60 Skillup points in all the professions during the course of a year. Whilst this is not a super bonus, it is not bad if you are no rush to max out the skills.

Mists of Pandaria, if the message is to be believed from Blizzard, is about progression through doing the parts of the game that you want to play. In theory this is going to be a major leap forward, but the average gamer will use any tricks in the book to achieve the passage of least resistance. Daily Heroics in WotLK became de rigueur, and became part of every players routine. The reason for this was that they took 15-20 minutes and gave out maximum rewards - in the form of an Emblem of Whatsit.

Nobody has indicated what the easy options are going to be yet, but I have no doubt that the gaming community will find it and very quickly.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful, part 3

On the subjest of the Newbie Blogger Initaitive, Tobold recently wrote, "With the genre itself stagnating, what is there to write about on a new MMO blog which hasn't been written about hundreds of times on other MMO blogs over the last decade? Does anybody really still want to read about the adventures of your Jedi consular, or Charr warrior? About the guild drama which ensued when the guild leader favored his girlfriend over the most loyal guild member in loot distribution? About the endless hardcore vs. casual debate? If I wanted I could design a "MMO blog Bingo" card which would have a guaranteed hit on 95% of the MMO blog entries still to be written for 2012".

He is of course absolutely right, but just when I was starting to feel good about writing the blog, I am now cast into a position of doubt about why I am writing in the first place.

So why am I writing a blog? My personal feeling is that the content is starting to dry up and instead of consuming everybody elses content that it was my turn to flesh out my thoughts and feelings about the game I love. I have no new takes on the game, I am not a theorycrafter, I can't mash the equations into a working theorem. I am merely writing a diary of my thoughts which is open to the general public, with the anonymity of the internet. The few people who actually know who I am have no interest in reading this, I don't work with gamers and presently I have no other outlet for my thoughts. I have already discussed my current guild status and how little communication I actually partake in.

Most people live relatively mundane lives, why else would we be so obsessed with Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll? My standard working week is pretty much divided into chunks of time:

  • 7 Hours Sleep
  • 1 Hour Breakfast get ready for work
  • 1 Hour Commute to work
  • 8 Hours Work
  • 1 Hour Commute home
  • 2 Hours Family time Evening Meal
  • 4 Hours Leisure
This blog is about what happens in that 4 Hour Leisure period, I am pretty sure nobody wants to know about the problems I have had at work today, what new laptop I have built, how to build a wiki server. Similarly the least exciting part is the 7 hours sleeping, which is pretty similar to the 2 hours commute. Not every day is spent playing WoW, I have tried that and my wife still occasionally twists those pins she put into that voodoo doll.

I have a confession to make, I am a World of Warcraft addict, and I have not played for 3 days now. With only 4 hours "me time" everyday it is easy to see why people can just plug themselves into an alternative reality. I am sure if Better Than Life existed I would be hooked up to right now.

Ok so just at a time when I am starting to get visitors to my computer game centric blog, I take a short break from playing that game. This obviously does not give me a great deal of material to write about.

I filled my time with my wife, I watched some television, 2 football matches as we support different teams, 4 more episodes of Dollhouse. This comes highly recommended but remember there are only 27 episodes because the series got canned, which seems to be an occupational hazard for Joss Whedon. Firefly was cancelled after 11 episodes and it gained critical acclaim and a large fanbase.
I also rewatched Torchwood Series 3 - Children of Earth.

Next week I plan to make some bingo balls so I can pluck out blog stories at random.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

A Rush Of Blood To The Head

Today I did something unusual. That something is self promotion. I am a shy and retiring person and wouldn't normally seek out the limelight. Today I found myself at the Newbie Blogger Initiative, and being a Newbie Blogger, I decided to put my details into the forum page. So If you have discovered the blog from that site, then Welcome to Altaclysmic. There is nothing too heavy going on here, just writing what I see in World of Warcraft.

Where Have All The Good Times Gone?

"Nostalgia is not what it used to be". It's funny that we all look back at some mystical time when everything was better. For some it is the groovy music of the 60's, the peace and love movement, flowerpower. For others the 70's is the golden era, Glam Rock, Disco, the anger and disillusionment of Punk Rock. The 80's was New Romantic, big shoulders, even bigger hair, loadsa money, riots. The 90's Britpop, Girl bands, Manufactured pop, and Grunge. The Noughties, Guitar bands, get famous quick schemes, Britain Got (No) Talent, Pop Idol.

I was born in the 60's, the 70's was a mass of brown and orange clothes/furniture, 80's was a time of depression and no money, The 90's was work and party, The Naughties was work and no party with smelly nappies on top.

What does this have to do with WoW? Not a lot really, but I have noticed that the content to read around the subject is diminishing on a daily basis. On a nostalgic trip I still pine for some of the WoW blog writers of a few years ago.

The creme de la creme was the indomitable Big Red Kitty. BRK was more than just a Hunter's Blog, it spanned the musings of a very funny and clever writer. I was quite fortunate to have discovered BRK way before his appearance in WoWinsider. The love and venom this created was unbelievable he regularly recorded 100+ comments for most of his posts at a time when his colleagues would only get half that many. BRK has returned to playing but his general blog Brain Needed Space is rarely updated and mostly contains cooking tips.

Another big loss was the Pink Pigtail Inn. Larisa gave very regular updates and had her finger on the pulse of the WoW community. Larisa always had the best reading list on her blog so if you needed to read somebody new or different it was an excellent jumpstation. In many ways she was a central character in the WoW community and all the other prominent bloggers liked to bounce ideas off her. In my opinion nobody else has managed to fill this void.

Alongside Larisa, a regular contributor and possibly one of the best writers was Tam at Righteous Orbs. I have chronicled in the past how difficult it was to get this through company firewalls and proxy servers, but on a few occasions I did they made for highly amusing reading material.

Several other bloggers have changed direction and so are no longer fulfilling my WoW needs. In particular Tobold and the Greedy Goblin. These two are polar opposites but at one time they were neatly entwined at opposite ends of spectrum of course. Tobold still writes about MMO's but has stopped playing WoW and has rediscovered a love for D&D. Gevlon at the Greedy Goblin has changed direction more than once, but the latest incarnation is no longer based on WoW but a new found interest in universal domination in EVE.

Currently my favourite reads are Armageddon's Coming!, when he can be bothered to post. Blessing of Kings, when the topic is WoW and not those pesky other MMO's that inhabit our world. Orcish Army Knife when I understand the topic. Troll Racials Are Overpowered, can sometimes be painful but is mostly worth it. Big Bear Butt has been around forever and his rants are absolutely legendary.

If you know of a good read, please somebody let me know.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The State Of The Union

The above graph is from Wowinsider who in turn stole it from GuildOx. The Graph is very interesting and focuses on those people who have obtained an average PvE iLvl of over 400 (heroic Dragon Soul). The runaway class partaking in Heroic is the class with Dual Wield Legendaries, big surprise for all those that dusted off their Rogues.

The middle ground is occupied by Priest, Paladin, Druid , Hunter and Shaman. No real surprise for the 2 true hybrid classes of Paladin and Druid, or for the ever popular Hunter class, however Priest and Shaman is a bit more of a surprise, though I guess there is more need for Healers than Tanking classes.

The ugly ducklings are Warrior, Death Knights, and Mages, bringing up the rear is no surprise Warlock. Cynwise has recently been writing an excellent series of articles on the reasons behind the dearth of the Warlock Class.

The graph above is a census of Level 85 classes pulled from Warcraft The 2 most obvious points are that Rogues are massively over represented in DS Heroics compared to the percentage of Rogues at max level, and that Warlocks really are in a very bad place. Also it is interesting to note the normalising effect on Death Knights during the course of Cata. The number of max level DK's is only 11% compared to their hugely popular status during WotLK, and they are not well represented in the Heroic Dragon Soul category.

The graph on the left shows the breakdown of the class specs and provides a real insight into what is going on in the raiding world at the end of this current expansion.


Although difficult to judge it would appear that Protection Warriors are just about holding their own in the Tanking stakes. Arms Warriors are viable, but Fury Warrior is in a very bad place.


Cynwise has suggested that there is not a lot to choose between the 3 specs, with all 3 viable and none of them outstanding. Maybe if one was outstanding people would return to playing the class.


Resto Shaman is by far the dominant spec for raiding. Elemental makes a reasonable showing with a poor showing for Enhancement.


There appears to be a slight leaning towards Combat Rogues with more than 3x the other 2 specs put together.


Possibly the most interesting class in this study, is the fact that for a class with 2 healing specs it is the Dps spec that is the dominant Raiding Spec. The once dominant Holy Priest is consigned to minor spec, with Discipline taking over as the healing class of choice.


The Healer of choice for the raiding fraternity. Once the creme de la creme of the Tank Healers, Now coupled with a useful toolbox for AoE healing, they are the most popular single spec healers. Retribution is positioned as a middle of road Dps class, and Protection is an average Tanking class.


Fire Mage is the stand out spec, with a handful playing Arcane and Frost are sat on the sidelines in a bucket of ice.


They have been up and down in the popularity stakes for 2 expansions, but Survival is now the top dog. BM has been buffed to be as good as MM, and MM has been nerfed to be as bad as BM. Now they have both been deserted in droves.


This is one class with equal participation throughout. The one issue is Feral, are they Cat or Bear, and the answer is we don't really know.

Death Knight

Last but not least, the once skeletal masses have moved on to other classes, but it looks like Blood is the number one tanking spec.


Tanking and Healing looks to be in an alright position, but the Dps specs seem to be all over the place. Combat Rogues, Fire Mages, and Survival Hunters are sitting pretty at the top, one assumes that the Dps charts mirror this picture.

At the other end of spectrum Fury Warriors, Enhancement Shaman, Subtlety Rogues, Assassination Rogues, Frost Mage, Beastmaster Hunters and Marksman Hunters need some tender Blizzard love.

The classes needing some attention as a whole are Warlock and Death Knight. In case anyone needs reminding there is a new class on the way that needs balancing.


The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Looking For Raid, it's been a mixed bag in the last few weeks. I thought that maybe things were starting to get better until last night.

The Good

I have actually managed to finish a lot of LFD's this week. The current weekly routine is based around the 6 characters that are attuned (high enough iLevel). BM Hunter and Resto Shaman are now 95% geared from LFD and gain very little from partaking in this event. Holy Paladin and Tree Drood are gearing up nicely. MM Hunter is performing very well with substandard gear, how much better is Marksman than Beastmastery in terms of Dps. I get the feeling that MM uses less spells than any other class in it's standard routine. The biggest disappointment is Frost Mage, so much so that I now have a very uncomfortable Fire Mage, who mashes the buttons, with slightly better results.

The good part is I have managed to complete about 10-12 different runs. Some of them even went very smoothly.

The Bad

My MM Hunter is having terrible luck with gear, 4 runs through the Siege and 2 runs Killing Deathwing. From these 6 runs I have so far won Tier Gloves and a ring, also I have a weapon but thats another story.

I have now witnessed a wipe on all 8 bosses. I am not even sure it is possible to wipe on Morchok, but yes it happened last night. During Earths Vengence phase, I witnessed 4 people run off behind the obstacles and straight into a bunch of adds. The adds took a shine to the tanks and it was game over.

The Ugly

Everybody is aware of the practice of some people needing on everything and then trying to trade after. The other big issue is the last of the 4 bosses means that people can need and run, which makes it hard for the people who genuinely need a weapon off Deathwing. Last night I witnessed a new trick which I consider to be far worse.

My MM Hunter who has had a bad run of luck so far in the quest for gear, was fortunate enough to win Vishanka the hunter's bow. Within seconds I was being petitioned by another Hunter to give it to him. There was no trading of items, he wanted the item and felt that he was more deserving than me. I left raid rather than confront him and continued to receive whispers from him until I logged off and changed characters.

The other night I witnessed a repeat of Darla at the Spine of Deathwing . Maybe this kind of idiocy has gone viral. It is bad that somebody should to do this in the place, but to read it and copy it is beyond believe.