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Daily Quests: The Good and The PLEASE DON’T MAKE ME! December 7, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Pandaria.
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The WoW Blogosphere has been endlessly debating the idea of daily quests since we landed on the shores of Pandaria. Whether they’re required, how many are required, blah blah blah. But I think the biggest problem, is that not all of the daily quests provided to us are “good” daily quests. Or put another way, they aren’t quests that are enjoyable.

But what makes an enjoyable daily quest? Ignoring the people who don’t like questing at all (sorry guys and gals, but you’re already a lost cause) what works and what doesn’t?

For me, a daily quest loses its fun-ness when:

  • NPCs are stacked so closely together that I’m forced to either always fight multiples or respawn so quickly that you always fight a long chain.
  • NPCs needed for the quest are sparse
  • Drop rate of quest item is low
  • Quest mechanic is difficult in a way that skill doesn’t help with

Examples of these quests are:

  • Unleashed Spirits in Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Has anyone ever killed only 12?
  • The Spirit Trap in Krasarang Wilds. If there are more than three other players in this cave, good luck.
  • Specimen Request in The Dread Wastes. And I already mentioned Fatty Goatsteak.
  • Stunning Display in Vale of Eternal Blossoms. Objective is right at the water line, and has a limited time before it swims away, some dev was feeling spiteful.

I’ve thought a fair bit about this since 5.1 dropped and introduced four new sets of dailies with the arrival of the Horde/Alliance on the shores of Pandaria, because I think this might overall be the most successful reputation grind they’ve ever put together. But of the clusters, only two of them are truly successful in my mind. From the Horde perspective, the clusters that takes place directly around Domination Point and Lion’s Landing are well-crafted. They strongly highlight the war aspect of the story without forcing any actual PvP on players. The NPCs to be killed are plentiful but loosely spaced, and the quest objectives/mechanics are interesting but not overly difficult. The cluster centered around the Goblin oil drilling/deforestation is a mixed bag. The story of the patch is lost in collecting crab meat for a goblin princess we’ve never seen before. The questing area is too loosely packed and some of the quest objectives are too sparse, but it’s not a bad overall experience.

And then The Ruins of Ogudei is just a mess. I’m a huge fan of questing in caves in WoW. Part of it goes back to when I played on a lesser computer and caves were less taxing on the system, allowing me to play more easily, but this cluster of dailies almost ruins all the goodwill towards caves I’d built up. I already mentioned the Spirit Trap quest, but this cluster also includes clusters of mobs that are tightly packed together, resulting in larger than intended pulls. A pool of water in one cavern that seems to serve no purpose other than to cause grief. And except for killing 12 Alliance soldiers, there is little connection to the greater story of the patch.

So what makes daily quests work for you? What makes you turn away?

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Tilled Soil October 10, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging.
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*stares at the dead horse*

I’m sorry. We’ve beaten you pretty hard.

*picks up a plank* *sets plank back down again*

******

I’m not jumping into the fray of “required” dailies. I’m too casual to care. And besides, I’m having too much fun with the potential of my farm. (and the Anglers and my golden Cloud Serpent)

I’ll admit that in the list of features for Pandaria, the Tillers wasn’t something I was that interested in. I’ve tried playing Farmville type games, and I just couldn’t get over the “wait X minutes” to harvest. If I have to wait, I need a way to augment the speed (like in The Sims or SimCity) or I need something else to do. So when a farm that I harvested once a day was announced, I was indifferent.

But now that I’ve got the farm half-open (with another section opening in the next day or two) and with the prospect of actually “farming” mats for professions. I’m super excited, and every day working through Tillers dailies to open up my farm. And I’ll probably have farms going on all of my maxed level toons eventually.

For two reasons:

  1. Motes/Spirits of Harmony
  2. LEATHER

Anyone who has ever leveled Leatherworking knows what a pain that profession is. You have to pair it with Skinning, and is the only gathering profession that requires you to kill the node before looting it. And then usually only rewards one piece of leather (compared to the 2-9 Ore from various nodes) or even worse, scraps that have to be sewn together eventually. And while leveling, you’ll be killing things anyway, it becomes the worst kind of tedium when you’re at level cap.

Pokem…err, Pet Battles October 3, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Leveling, Pandaria.
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My blogging partner, Stormy, has given his opinion about Pet Battles. He doesn’t like them, isn’t interested in them. And that’s cool. This feature is probably the first WoW feature that is totally optional.

However, I find it enthralling. And for a number of reasons:

I played (and continue to play) Pokemon sporadically. I’ve owned at least one of the cartridges from each generation of the handheld version of the game, and a few of the console versions. Pet Battles take the best part of those games (the battles) and leaves out the more annoying aspects (stopping every five steps in a cave to fight another Zubat that awards negligible xp). Now I have one of my pre-WoW game obsessions available to me in my current game obsession!

It gets me back into the world. I have too many characters that have been practically been parked in Orgrimmar since they reached level 85. So my hunter has become my unofficial “pet battler.” She can stay in whichever inn she likes closest to the appropriate level mini-pets (currently level 10). And when I have a level 1 critter to get going, one of my Org-bound toons can kill some dung beetles to get going. Then, once I’ve unlocked the “dailies” portion of the content, I’ll probably designate an alt to each continent to cut down a little on travel time. I may eventually abandon the capital city altogether.

It’s fast. In the mornings before I leave for work I usually have about 20 minutes while I eat breakfast to putz around the internet. It’s not enough time to make any significant progress on daily quests, but I can now devote this time to doing daily profession gem cut discovery/glyph research and then squeeze in a handful or two pet battles before I have to head out the door.

The speed of the battles will lend itself to filling in those small gaps of inactivity better. Waiting a few minutes for that third guildie to be ready for a scenario or LFD? Suit up your mini-gladiators. LFR queue? Pet battles. Got fifteen minutes to kill before the raid? Go.

But not to be entirely gushy about the feature, I do have a few criticisms:

I wish the matrix of strengths and weaknesses was a bit more complex. Only having one type of attack that’s good against a certain type of pet is limiting. I know Blizzard wants this to be a simple mini-game, and I’m not asking for mixed-type pets, but if Beast attacks could be good against more than just Critters it’d make picking a team a bit more interesting. Especially early on when almost all the pets in the early zones are either Beasts or Critters.

There’s also little information about the relative accuracy of certain attacks. My Darkmoon Monkey has an attack that drops three stacks of bananas on the target, and then does damage over time. Except it seems that only one of the three stacks of bananas actually hits the target. A certain chance to miss is obviously required, but tell me so I can be prepared.

A more efficient way to heal a single pet would also be appreciated. There’s the eight-minute cooldown heal everyone button and the “whenever you want for 10 silver” heal from the Stable Master, but I don’t have a way to top off one pet in between battles. A crafted First Aid bandage that healed a set percentage of health (say 40%) with a cooldown short enough to be used after every other fight or so would smooth things out. Sometimes you get a bad match-up of types or an unlucky string of misses (either attacks or in capturing), so why not? Although it is nice that Stable Masters now have a purpose for the other ten classes in the game.

One Week In October 1, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Leveling, Pandaria, Zones.
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I spent a very large chunk of the weekend wandering Pandaria. And I think we all need some refreshers on basic questing/leveling/farming etiquette.

  1. You are not entitled to the node. If we’re both racing towards the Ghost Iron Deposit, whoever gets there first gets it. No reason to use nasty emotes. Same goes for kills and quest items.
  2. If someone is killing an NPC next to a node or quest item, consider it tapped. Don’t steal it out from under them. We’ve all been on the receiving end of this one, when we tried to get to the ore, only to have something spawn nearby. You hate it when it happens to you, don’t do it to other people. The only exception is when you’ve watched that player pass up other similar herbs/ore.
  3. Invite other players of your faction in the immediate vicinity to help with killing a rare mob. I’ve noticed that many of them hit like trucks and more people increases your chance of success. You might have to share the loot, but a dead player gets nothing.
  4. If  a quest area is particularly heavy with players and the quest is a simple “Kill 10 of X.” Don’t be shy and try to group up to share kills.

*****

As for a personal update, Bullrushed is now 89 and nearing the end of Kun-Lai Summit after clearing Jade Forest, Valley of the Four Winds and Krasarang Wilds. I’ve tanked Temple of the Jade Serpent, Stormstout Brewery (twice) and Mogu’shan Palace (I think that’s the name) with a fair amount of success. Some boss fights I can only describe as chaotic, since reading about the mechanics doesn’t always do much for understanding what will happen.

Despite other people’s complaints about the way quests reward gear, I’ve had no problem maintaining both my Retribution and Protection sets. Of particular use is the dungeon quests that award a spec-specific item. They may not be optimal stat-wise, they are staying within 5-10 ilevel points of each other. My biggest challenge has been trying to stay near to the Level+2 hit & expertise caps, especially with Orgrimmar now so out-of-the-way to run back and reforge any new piece of gear.

Profession-wise this is the best expansion ever. I’ve mined up somewhere close to or over 1000 Ghost Iron Ore, because I chase every yellow dot on the screen I can get to. As a result, I have gotten Bullrushed’s Blacksmithing to the point where I’m waiting to get to level 90 to learn more patterns. I’ve prospected huge piles of gems on Elrush (Auto-Prospect is a feature that Blizz would do well to add) and am now doing the daily blue gem learning discoveries. He’s gotten enough things to disenchant from crafting and Bullrushed’s BoE green drops that he’s at 596 Enchanting. My mage-tailor (Rushie) has been on the receiving end of lots of cloth and had gotten about as far as she’ll get (585ish) until it’s her turn to adventure and is crafting gear for herself and my warlock who dinged 85 and promptly camped in Orgrimmar in gear from Deepholm. All in all, I think Blizz has finally figured how to make leveling professions flow nicely.

Oh, and I’ve got a team of level 10 mini-pets. Woo!

The Great Bank Purge July 24, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Pandaria, Sweating Bullet Points.
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Over the past several weeks, I’ve been systematically cleaning out the banks of the characters on my primary server. I’ve never been someone for whom bank space has been at a premium, in fact most of the characters only use 16-slot bags (and a few didn’t even have [Safe Deposit] until recently), but I still had a fair bit of stuff that had collected for no apparent reason.

So when I’d started the project of reorganizing and cleaning out our Guild Vault, I was motivated to clean out my own bank as well.

When cleaning out the Guild Vault, I set up a few simple rules:

  1. Is this an item that can be fairly easily farmed? – Items such as Copper Ore or Kingsblood are fairly simple things to farm and were sold off, whereas things that randomly spawned within the nodes like Eternium Ore and Frost Lotus were kept. (Although did we really need to keep 60 Frost Lotus?)
  2. Is the item useful for leveling a profession? – We have a sizeable stockpile of gems from Malachite to Inferno Rubies. We have a guildie who might be leveling Jewelcrafting in MoP, so for now the gem cache survives.
  3. Is this something that we are likely ever to use? – Over the lifetime of Cataclysm, many helpful guildies have deposited stacks of cooked food or enchanted scrolls into the GV that they’d created while leveling professions. Since we’re reaching the end of the expansion’s lifespan, they were sold off for profit.

So when cleaning out my own banks, I set up a few rules for myself:

  1. Don’t keep profession leveling mats. – Those that are harder to obtain were deposited to the GV, and the rest were sold off. (Particularly awful was the 30+ stacks of Wrath level meat and fish that I was still holding on to, and now sell for nothing on the AH.) The exception were “parts” from Engineering, because you never know when those will come in handy, and they don’t sell well anyway. But with eight characters on this server at level 84+, I’m not likely going to be crafting a pair of [Spidersilk Boots]
  2. Don’t keep gear that you can’t see. (unless it’s that special) – There’s no reason to keep that ring I picked up on a fun run through Serpentshrine Cavern. I can’t mog it, so it’s just wasting space. Exceptions were made for Ashen Verdict ring (sentimental value) and items with fun “On Use” abilities like the [Rainbow Generator].
  3. If the tabard is easily re-obtainable, pitch it. – I’ve maxed out rep with the major cities, and if I get a wild hair to level Kirin Tor rep on someone, I can buy the tabard again. Good bye.
  4. Utilize Void Storage if at all possible. – My paladin has started to assemble quite the arsenal of weapons from running old dungeons and raids. And at this point in the expansion, I don’t need my transmog set readily available when I’m not getting to new gear pieces.
  5. Lose the Seasonal junk. – How many Moonstones had I kept from past Lunar Festivals because they were once useful for marking dungeon spots, when I can now just use the in-game markers? How about those [Lucky Rocket Clusters] that you can only use during the festival. Or that stupid Fruitcake from Winter Veil. Or the eggnog or gingerbread cookies.

So now I’ve got much cleaner banks. Which will come in handy for my primary characters as I work towards getting them “out in the world” bank access. The Hunter already has Jeeves, and the Shaman has her Hobgoblin. And soon enough, the Priest and Paladin will have Ponies for their Argent Gruntlings.

Now if Blizzard would just announce the release date…

Dear Blizzard – Professions July 11, 2012

Posted by Ben in Beta, General Whinging, Moar Ranting, Pandaria.
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It’s not too late.

I see what you did with Cooking. Allowing level 85+ characters to power-level the profession with vendor purchaseable items is genius. Making each recipe from this method grant 5 skill points. Genius. No longer will my high-level cook be a character I rarely play. Now every character can make their own foods!

But why not share some of these genius ideas with the other professions.

Not the waiting to level 85 part. Because some of those items we craft on the way up are useful. But why do I have to make so many of them?

I recently switched the second profession on my main from Herbalism to Jewelcrafting. He hadn’t been stopping at herb nodes since early in Cataclysm, and since I have two other characters who are Herb/Alchemy and another Herb/Inscription, a fourth herb gatherer wasn’t that useful.

But as I’m leveling up this new skill from scratch, I’m making a glut of things that are just being turned into dust that I’m offloading on the AH. I realize that if I was crafting along with leveling, I’d be able to use more of it, but frankly you’re always going to be making at least four of every Green/Uncommon-quality item for each one that you equip. How does this make sense? Especially as we approach the point where we will need SIX HUNDRED skill points to reach the maximum?

A while back, Blizzard introduced the ability for profession crafting of some kinds to give multiple skill points, but outside of Inscription it was rarely used. The other professions only benefitted on items that were Blue quality or higher, and those items usually had a so much higher material cost that it isn’t always economical to make those.

So Blizzard. Please. Please make levelling professions nicer. I’m trying to decide what my Pandaren Monk is going to pick as professions, and outside of gathering I don’t know if I want to do this slog again.

Oh, and while you’re at it. Enough with leather scraps.

 

The In-Between Time Continues… June 29, 2012

Posted by Ben in Achievements, Beta, General Whinging, Leveling, Pandaria.
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Last weekend I completed Loremaster. I saved Icecrown for last, and enjoyed finally doing all the group quests (albeit soloed in a very overpowered way) for the first time.

But, now what?

I have two characters left to level on my main server. A fire mage at 83 and a subtlety rogue at 61 (and climbing with the ridiculous xp gains from the Fire Festival). But they are both in that space of doing quests I’ve done several times before and  I lose interest quickly.

I recently cleaned up the characters on my old home server. A cluster of Alliance toons that were largely abandoned when I moved to Garrosh to play alongside Stormy. I’d been slowly leveling my old Arcane mage to 85 to see the Cataclysm from the other side (I was disappointed that the only real zone of difference was Twilight Highlands), and I pushed through the last few bars earlier this week.

So now I’m just waiting for the expansion to hit. We’re at least two months away by the best estimates, which is plenty of time to accomplish something if I really put my mind to it.

I’m working my ‘Crusader’ back through all the Champion’s dailies at the Argent Tournament to increase my stable of mounts for the impending “Account-Wide” fun. But that only fills up about half an hour (or less, Chillmaw is such a pushover at ilvl 383.)

There’s little to be gained for me gear-wise by running the dungeon finder, and I don’t want to take yet another character through the agony of gearing up. Although with prodding I might make something happen so our guild can maybe push to lvl 25.

And the beta holds little excitement. Not because I’m not anxious to play in all the new zones, but I don’t want to be already bored of them by the time it drops. So I pop in from time to time to play around with tweaked spells, but that’s about it.

So what are you doing? Any suggestions for what I should work on? Achievements, titles, mounts, pets?

Random, Nonsensical Update Post June 23, 2012

Posted by Stormy in General Whinging, Sweating Bullet Points.
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(Posting for the sake of posting so I feel somewhat productive!)

It’s been a while since I’ve done a bulleted post of random thoughts and perspectives. Here goes…

  • For the last several years my approach to hardware purchases has been to buy a series of cheap, underpowered laptops and then bellyache about how slow they were and how irritated I was. A few weeks ago, with the help and urging of some gamer friends, I decided to treat the purchase of a desktop as an investment and buy a decent gaming rig. Ladies and gentlemen, when you’re used to seeing Azeroth on Low settings at 10-15 fps, seeing the Nagrand sky on Ultra at 60 fps will blow. your. mind. I’ve always had problems in 25-man LFR runs to the point where my computer would slow to 1-2 fps and then just grind to a halt, but those days are gone. I did Ultraxion this past week on Ultra settings and never dropped below 35 fps. It’s also amazing what having a decently responsive computer will do for your DPS. I know it’s only LFR, but pulling 40K on Zonozz when your nearest competitor is pulling 25K is a lot of fun. I’m also impressed with the level of flexibility in designing a UI for a 23″ monitor instead of a dinky 15″ laptop screen.
  • In between Azerothian sightseeing expeditions I’ve been poking away at Diablo III, and I finally managed to finish my first playthrough on normal this past weekend. I’m downright shocked that people aren’t just as upset about the D3 ending as they were the Mass Effect 3 ending. “ZOMG Leah and Adria are in cahoots with Diablo! But let’s never speak of it again! Here, have a shiny monster.” OMGWTFBBQ. Beyond that, maybe it’s failure of expectations, but I expected the difficulty level of the bosses to increase as the game went on, and for Diablo to be the hardest boss of all. Belial absolutely kicked my ass, but I one-shotted Diablo and didn’t really think the fight was even challenging. Beyond that, I loved the storyline of Act I and the resurrection of Tyrael, and I thought the representation of Heaven was beyond beautiful.
  • I’m trying to get Loremaster completed before Mists of Pandaria drops. I have 23 quests to go in Netherstorm, about half of Blade’s Edge, four zones in Kalimdor and all of Vashj’ir to complete. I’m trying to force myself to finish 20-30 quests a day, but after a while setting that sort of expectation starts to feel like homework. I’m putting off Vashj’ir as long as I can–sweet Jesus I hate that zone. Still, I’m amazed at some of the things I’ve found that I never knew existed, in particular the Matthias Lehner quests in Icecrown.
  • I haven’t touched the MoP beta at all, despite all the whinging I did about not getting a beta key until the last minute. Given the level of burnout I’m feeling with Cataclysm questing, I have a feeling that if I work through all the MoP content in the beta by the time the expansion drops I’ll have no interest in logging in.

 

So that’s where I’m at. This weekend I’ll be dragging my intrepid officer crew into Slave Pens to beat up Ahune and take his scythe–I can’t pass up the free guild XP for five minutes of work. I’m going back to school (I start Thursday!) so I’m thinking my playtime will be limited for a while, but I’m doing the best I can to keep my head above water. What’s up in your world?

The Subscription June 20, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Personal, Sweating Bullet Points.
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There have been a slew of WoW bloggers posting about the impending end of their time in the game. These waves seem to happen, and while some of the voices of the blogging community are  missed, I can understand that the time comes for everyone to move on.

But this is not one of those posts.

I’ve been playing (and paying) for World of Warcraft since December 2004. For pretty much the entire time, I’ve been on the 3-month subscription model that means I pay roughly $12/month.

The amount of time in any given month that I play has been wildly inconsistent in the eight years I played the game.

When I first started playing, I was in college full-time and working 30+ hours a week. And I had a LAN internet connection that varied in quality based on the number of other students in the apartment complex that were using the internet at the same time. (Finals week made even checking email an arduous task.)

After graduating from college, I went full-time with the same employer, but that extra 10 hours of paid work didn’t fill up as much time as school had, and my play time significantly increased. Rare were the days when I didn’t log in for at least a couple of hours.

Then I left that job at a department store with a wildly erratic schedule and into a closer to 9-to-5 job. Funny enough, this resulted in less play time. Even though my boyfriend and I both play WoW, the majority of our playtime had been while the other was at work, and our together time was spent watching television. When our schedules now synced up, our TV watching significantly increased, moving most of our WoW time to the 8+hour sessions on the weekend.

What was the point of all of this?

I’ve been paying the same $12 a month over this entire period, and I’ve felt that I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of it the entire time. Someone once challenged me that I could spend that money better on other things, and I laughed at them because $12 buys…

  • less than two movie tickets
  • maybe two mixed drinks at a bar
  • lots of cheap beer I don’t like anyway
  • two value meals at a fast food chain

And all of those things don’t add up to the number of hours of diversion, enjoyment, fun that I get from WoW each month.

So this is why even when I’m playing maybe 6 hours a week right now, I still feel comfortable that I’m getting my money’s worth. How about you?

Making Reputation Last June 5, 2012

Posted by Ben in General Whinging, Moar Ranting.
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I was super excited when I heard that head and shoulder enchants were no longer going to require reputation.

(Sidebar: Some people seemed to get really upset that head enchants were being removed completely as this somehow made the game “easier.” There was only one enchant that was good for your class/role, so it wasn’t even a choice. It was just a small gold sink. But on the internet, people will complain about anything.)

I like the direction that Blizzard is taking with MoP in trying to set us up with lots of options for play at max-level, and eliminating a mandatory faction grind is a good step. But I think they’re missing out on good potential for reputations as each expansion progresses. Because let’s face it. For most endgame PVE players (even those who are pretty casual), we’re going to max out the reputations eventually just by virtue of running dungeons with our equipped tabards, so why not reward us with something other than an achi for doing it?

Right now if you max out your rep with the Guardians of Hyjal, you have a choice of four ilvl 359 pieces. But only one is useful to you. If you get there while those are still an upgrade for you.

What if that same piece could be upgraded with each patch to an item level that matched what you get from the Raid Finder? The item would never be best in slot, but it’d be a great way for casual players like keep up when the RNG gods are feeling spiteful.

Or what if new cosmetic/vanity items were added with each patch? Anything from mounts to transmoggables. You’re exalted with the druid faction of the expansion, so here’s an item to make your weapon look like a glowy tree branch (in multiple varieties for the different weapon types).

And on my suggestion of Account-wide reputation? If that can’t work, then make the items you purchase from the vendors BoA. Then you only have to do the reputation once, but can give the leg up to your alts on that server.

What do you think?