All quiet on the southern front

42-16215875It’s Christmas week, so I expect I’ll be forgiven for a reduction in content output. Also, I’m not entirely certain whether you lot want to hear about anything other than WAR, though I’ll admit that hasn’t stopped me until now. I may post later, or I may be a lazy, no-work-on-right-now git and just play all day.

Right now, however, I’m all Christmassy spirity, panicking about last-minute gifts I not only haven’t yet bought but have no clue what I should buy, humming carols when I least expect it (not a pretty sound, trust me), and generally being all good will to man (and woman) kind of thing.

I hope your week will be as good or better, and certainly no worse.

The continuing story of Bungalow Ysh

I haven’t logged on to anything but WoW this week, and it’s been a lovely break. The beta that dare not speak its name has has some rather ropey patches; nothing truly unexpected, that’s what betas are for, but now and then I hit my “gah!” limit and have to play something simple and, most of all, stable. I have a pretty good tolerance for stuff like that but when you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. So, I played WoW.

I’ll say this for it — it’s stable. Before you think I’m damning with faint praise, that’s actually very high praise coming from someone like me with my MMO track record. Vanguard: not stable. WAR: depending on the patch and the computer, not always stable. Various alphas/betas: never very stable to begin with.

So last weekend, Ysharros the Hunter was born, but she languishes on a trial account I made before I a) remembered my old account details and b) realised that I had a free Burning Crusade trial on the old account. My main, if I really have to have one, is now Icewolfe the Draenai hunter. I know, I know, I’m sorry… I like hunters, ok? They’re fun. Plus, I’m a pet freak and always have been. Rangers in AD&D, creature handler in SWG (then beast master, but we’re not going there); if a game has a pet class, I’ll play it.

icewolfe-with-pet-around-16I could have gone looking for one of the named pets, but I had fond memories of my old dwarven hunter’s snow leopard, so Icewolfe went off to Loch Modan ahem, I mean Dun Morogh — to get herself some cat. If anyone knows of a white (really white, not scabby pale grey) wolf that can be tamed, do let me know.

It’s been over three years since I last played WoW, and I have to say some of the changes are extremely welcome. I gather the pet changes I’m so chuffed about are fairly recent; I can’t say much about pet talents yet because Ice & Opal only just hit 20 yesterday, which is when pets start getting talent points, but I will say this: the pain has been taken out of pet levelling. I don’t know if that remains the case all the way up the levels, but now I can actually consider getting a pet that’s way lower level than me and not have to give up weeks and weeks to grinding the little bugger up. A good decision, that one. (Again, one SOE could emulate in SWG with beast mastery. But hey, everyone does everything there AFK now anyway, especially since it’s been not only officially condoned but actually encouraged. Meh.)

But wait, there’s more. I’m an altoholic, you think I haven’t made alts yet? Hah! So far we have a priest — slooooooow levelling for me to 10, but I’m going to try and stick with it. WAR has taught me a little about playing clothies, and I enjoyed my priest years back in WoW even though she only got to 20-odd; I think she could be a lot of fun in the long run. There’s also a druid, because while it’s not a pet-class, it actually IS a pet class, even if bear form is fugly and water-thingy form is SO fugly it scares small children. And there’s a warrior — a class I meant to try way back when and never got around to; I wanted to play a smackety class but I’ve got bad, bad memories of the constant bufflet microcmanagement Pallies have to do (if that’s changed, let me know). Priesty is 10, Drood is 12, and the Warrior is 11. Much too early to tell anything about them, but I’d taken priest & drood to 25+ before so I have an idea what to expect. I’ve also got a Blood Elf hunter I made and got to 12 before I realised Casualties of War are on the Alliance side in WoW. Oops. There will be others — I have a hankering to take a Warlock higher than about 18, and also to finally try to play a mage.

icewolfe-and-opal-and-some-naga-bintThis past week, however, I stuck to what I knew and just explored the Draenei (and to a lesser extent Blood Elf) starting areas. Levelling seems very, very fast, not only compared to WAR (which isn’t much of a surprise) but also compared to what I remember. I think someone mentioned it had been speeded up, and it sure feels that way. I’m almost hoping it slows down a little, but with my altoholism it may not be a bad thing.

Oh, yeah, and Stormwind has a harbour now! Yes, I’ve been gone that long. There’s going to be quite a bit to rediscover, and I suspect I may find myself dual-wielding WoW and WAR, as JoBildo calls it. My trial has 3 days to go, as Blizzard just kindly reminded me by email; so far I’m leaning toward resubbing, unless something happens in the intervening time to make me decide otherwise.

This time around, I am going to play the way *I* want to play — which means I will not do instances if I can possibly avoid them, I will not raid, ever, and if I bloody well want to solo to 70 or 80 then that’s what I will bloody well do. If all I really want is to look for hunter pets and companion pets, or whatever other fluff I’m in the mood for that week, that’s what I’ll do.  Yes, they’re multiplayer games; however, until someone else is paying my sub for me, nobody gets to tell me how to play. I don’t grief and I’m quite sociable enough in channels — being attached at the hip to a group is not a mandatory condition of play.

Ah, tomorrow I may have to rant about the people who use the “multiplayer” in MMO as an excuse to whine about other people not doing what they (the whiner) want when they want it, be it in games or on forums. And if I ponder it now and then, I should have worked up a head of steam by tomorrow… or forgotten all about it. ;)

Son of Be My Muse (Part II)

I’ve flitted from game to game like a drunken bumblebee in the last few weeks, and for those of you who thought this would be a dedicated, informative WAR blog (assuming anyone did) this may be something of a disappointment. I never did guarantee either content or enlightement, however — just the occasional bit of entertainment.

When it comes down to it, I like writing, and while blogging isn’t my Great American Novel it’s still better than not writing at all, which is what it’s come down to for me these last… too many years. Also, I think I’m a lot better at writing about whatever’s going through my head than trying to find a “niche;” I’ve never been much of a niche-type person. And tangents — I like tangents. A lot. Did I mention that one time at band camp…

Today, however, the bumblebee has a hangover, the cause of which has absolutely nothing to do with my health (Syp has managed to e-transfer his virus /shakefist), and even less to do with playing WoW into the wee hours of the morning last night. Well okay, it was only just past midnight, but that’s late for me.

Bleary-eyed and runny-nosed, I putzed around here and there waiting for blog-spiration to strike, but so far it’s failed to do so. On the off-chance you have a topic you’ve been absolutely burning for me to tackle, do tell. If not, I’ll probably have recovered my usual sparkly poise and prose tomorrow.

Oh oh and in the meantime, go check out Genda’s blog, the Grouchy Gamer. Yes, it’s gone a little furry around the edges and is starting to go wild (feral blogs, dangerous things those), but he says he’ll be back in curmudgeonly form soon, telling people go get the hell off his lawn, so it’s worth keeping an eye on. There’s a reason RSS stands for really simple, ya know!

Honey Pie

patchy-smallOkay, there’s no way to work “Patch 1.1b” into a White Album title, damn those inconsiderate Mythic patchy types. I just hope this title doesn’t get me too many spam porn links.

Anyway yes, 1.1b is in the process of patchinating (technical term) as I type. It’s not earth-shattering in terms of excitement, patch-wise, except for an interesting note on RvR renown point awards. Since I’m not quite sure how it worked before I can’t really tell you what the difference is, except that the awards seem higher than before. Presumably, now that we’re seeing more R40/RRxx folks coming up, Mythic are starting to get better info on the general RvR grind. I can’t comment much on it, since I haven’t done any significant RvR in about 6 weeks, for various previously documented reasons.

Either way, if it means that renown ranks will be a teeny bit easier to get once you pass 20 or so, that’s a good thing, right?

Notes are here, and for the access-challenged, here’s the text:

WAR 1.1b notes

Greetings!

1.1.0b is almost here, and while the notes may not be very long there are some great fixes that make a lot of significant improvements to the game. We’ve got some additional fixes in the wings so stay tuned for more as we continue to work on enhancing content and improving stability!

1.1.0b will be going live Tuesday, 12/16. All North American servers will be brought down at 7AM EST with Oceanic servers to follow at 9AM EST. We expect all servers to be back up and running by 1PM EST.

As always stay tuned to the Herald for the latest news and updates and continue reading for the 1.1.0b Patch Notes…WAAAGH!!!

  • We’ve added additional messaging to the Inventory Overflow system introduced in the 1.1a patch. This was done to aid players in understanding what the Inventory Overflow in fact does and how to utilize this new feature.
  • Fixed an issue that was causing the Nordenwatch scenario to crash intermittently.
  • Fixed an issue that would cause the wrong realm name to appear in the center-screen Keep or Battle Objective capture message.
  • Renown, experience, and Influence rewards have been added for attacking and defending Fortresses.
  • Renown gains: This patch includes a significant fix to the amount of Renown gained in both open Realm vs. Realm combat and Scenarios. The intent of this change is for players to gain Renown based on the differential between a player’s Rank and Renown Rank. The examples given below are based on solo Realm vs. Realm confrontations without any sort of bonuses and with both players being of the same Renown Rank (differences between RRs also affect RPs awarded):
    • If a Rank 40/Renown Rank 1 solo kills a Rank 31/Renown Rank 1, the Rank 40 will receive 206 Renown as a reward.
    • If a Rank 40/Renown Rank 1 solo kills a Rank 18/Renown Rank 1, the Rank 40 will receive 70 Renown as a reward.
Notice that this is a larger reward than the Rank 40 would receive with the   previous system (51 and 5 respectively).
  • To discourage exploitation of this system, if a player is killed repeatedly in a short amount of time they are worth less Renown each time due to the existing diminishing returns system.   Also, please keep in mind that the difference between players’ Renown Ranks will also affect the amount of RP rewarded.
  • Nordenwatch: Reenabled access to this Tier 1 Empire vs. Chaos Scenario. Fixed an issue with this Scenario that affected server stability.

Everybody’s got something to hide

… even me. My monkey, however, is innocent.

This will come as no surprise to anyone except maybe me, as I finally realise that I’m not an AC-junkie, or an EQ2 junkie, or an SWG junkie — what I am, is an MMO junkie. Corollary to that is: never say never.

When I quit WoW for the last time in summer 2005, I never thought I’d go back. Basically, I have zero interest in item-grinding and actually a negative interest in raiding, which together form 100% of what WoW is apparently about once you hit the endgame. (Oh yeah, and I don’t like that term either.) To be extremely blunt, it also got really tiring to find myself explaining to my guildies at the time that I. Didn’t. Care. that I wasn’t wearing all the latest and greatest purple shiz. Seriously — if all my stuff is “of the monkey” green, don’t worry yourself about it, okay? I’m happy with it. I wasn’t defending my playstyle 24/7, but it was often enough that it got pretty irritating. I don’t poke at people for spending months chasing one item in raids only so they can then spend months chasing the next item, which to me seems to be the absolute epitome of pointless gametime-wastage. So don’t question my game choices, one of which is not to care about WoW’s biggest carrot: combat stuff.

Ah, but there are many kinds of stuff, and some of the WoW stuff kicks the crap out of just about anything else out there except, possibly, EQ2. WoW has pets… but no housing. (SWG has stuff too but I’m peeved that after 5 years they still haven’t made a decent looking set of lounge furniture.) EQ2 has housing and some pretty awesome other stuff, but it still looks to me like it’s been spraycoated in plastic wrap (though it seems to be less brown than it used to be, judging by Pete’s screenshots).

So, um, with my WAR-RvR ennui and general beta fatigue for another game I can’t mention (coming on the heels of WAR’s pretty ropey performance in the past few months), and because of — ah crap, I have no real excuse. Bloggers I read have been talking about “stuff” and other bloggers have been talking about WoW, and of course CoW has expanded into Warcrack, and various people posted pictures of the cute companion pets — anyway, it’s everyone’s fault except mine, okay?

Saturday, I downloaded the WoW trial (which impressively took mere minutes), and spent the rest of the day reacquainting myself with Dark Elf starting areas (man I hate those Gnarlpine shamans). Sunday, I found out I had a free trial for the Burning Crusade… so I spent the bloody day downloading 18 million bloody clients. Trial = win, day downloading = yawn. Nonetheless, I did manage to make a character and spend a couple of minutes checking out the Blood Elf starting area. Those Blood Elves… they’re a little glowy, aren’t they? I was expecting more blood and less Kate-Mossyness.

Still, I’ll tell you one shameful thing: it is such a relief playing a game that has solid performance and good framerates. I hadn’t realised how utterly tired I am of performance OR looks, or of crashing regularly no matter what I do; this latter, admittedly, has been more of a problem in the GITICN* than WAR, but still — each crash reduces one’s overall gaming enjoyment. Get enough of them, and I get really really cranky(er).

fessing-up

* Game I Test I Can’t Name

Helter skelter

It’s been a while since I played WAR seriously, and as a result it seems my PvP-meter has declined back to its usual “OMG NO!” state. I’ve been avoiding scenarios on all characters and making sure I play at times where no oRvR is likely to be going on (i.e. 6 o’clock in the US morning).

PvP is not a natural playstyle or choice for me, and as soon as I stop practicing I retreat to my comfort zone, which involves not doing it if I can help it. I’ve been dreading T3 scenarios ever since Ysh turned 22 and couldn’t go into T2 anymore — I’d just got used to Mourkain Temple, dammit! Well, I say “used to,” but what I really mean is “able to stand 7 minutes of chaos without comporting myself too poorly or soiling her velvet-nap SW outfit.” All I’ve ever heard about T3 is that there’s only one scenario — Tor Anroc — and that it involves spending most of your time boiling in lava. Not being one of the classes that can pull victims in or one of the classes that can then AoE them to death, and given my utter inexperience with it, I suspect I’d spend 95% of the time in lava and the other 5% running back from the respawn point.

ysh-tombstoneI did get to the stage, in T1, where I can cheerfully die and just run back to the fray. In T2, I still lose the pedals now and then and just end up running around like a headless chicken, prey to whatever Chosen or Witch Elf fancies a slice of High Elf for dinner. In T3… I dunno. I don’t like being ignorant (of the landscape, of tactics, or other folks’ choices), I don’t like being confused (though you’d think I’d be used to it by now), and I don’t much like being dead all the time. I had a bad time in Stonetroll Crossing — half a dozen attempts and confused and/or dead almost all the time, except for one time I got the bloody pacifier, alone, just in time to see 8 Destro come up on the knoll and wonder where the hell Order was; and I had a fairly bad time in Phoenix Gate — and I *still* don’t get the point of that scenario. I understand what we’re supposed to do, I just don’t understand WHY anyone would want to do it. It’s a giant empty scenario map with mini- or mega-mosh stages and… that’s about it.

My intense and probably irrational hatred for game-death is part of what’s kept me from enjoying PvP all these years (aside from, you know, the asshats who tend to gravitate to it); it’s not really that onerous in WAR, but after 5 or 6 chain deaths I do start getting a bit frustrated. To my credit, at least I don’t vanish from scenarios the way lots of people seem to be doing now when they don’t like the way things are going.

/tangent — and WTF is up with that anyway? You join a scenario to play a time-limited game and you bloody well stick with it, win or lose. You don’t fark off when you’re losing just because you can’t stand the thought of not obliterating the enemy, or because the NPCs on your side aren’t providing you with whatever service you think it is they owe you. (I’ve already ranted about player tendency to see anyone else in a game as “not real,” just a bunch of quasi-NPCs who are there to heal them, tank for them, or otherwise provide whatever it is Joe Q Asshat thinks he’s owed — but I may rant about it again, just for fun.) I may have had a horrible time in some scenarios — the ones where everything goes wrong from the start, for whatever reason, or the ones where there are 5 of you and 11 of them, or the ones where your side is all level 1 and they’re all level 11 — but it has never, not once, occurred to me to bug out of one because it wasn’t going the way I wanted. Serisouly — WTF? /tangent

The thing is, there isn’t a whole lot to WAR if you don’t do at least some RvR on the side, and I know from past experience that it can be fun, even though it also tends to be l-l-l-laggy and crash-to-desktoppy. Besides, Ysh has some Devastator boots and I wouldn’t mind a) being able to wear them someday, which isn’t likely since she’s RR17 and they’re RR23 req to wear and b) getting some of the other set pieces someday, preferably before Ysh hits 40 and they’re no use to her. That’s sort of what happened with the T2 Tracker set — by the time I got even the first piece, I was levels and levels above having a use for it.

On the whole, fun as it can be, RvR is something I have to force myself to do. The more I’m confronted by people who just don’t understand how someone couldn’t love it (or whatever activity it is they’re hawking), the more obstinate and contrary I get — actually, the more anyone tries to get me to do anything, the more contrary I get, but that’s another story and the reason why I never joined the armed forces.

So now I’m wondering — could I just get Ysh to 40 and worry about RvR then? The Devastator shoes are just shoes, and I don’t really care about items. I can always pass them on to someone more deserving. And in the meantime, I wouldn’t have to agonise about stupid PvP and could just PvE — as long as I don’t make a big deal of it, people might not notice. (Does blogging about it count as a big deal? Oops.)