Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Blizzcon 2014 Drinking Game

...because it's a tradition for me, as well as many WoW fans.
I wrote one last year, but a lot has changed since then and I want to have a little fun.
Nothing complicated or elaborate, of course.

Take a shot if during BlizzCon 2014 you hear one of the following elements:
  • how garrisons are not player housing like Blizzard "promised"
  • dance studio
  • legendaries (take 2 if someone mentions that they "promised" a warrior one)
  • unnecessary and boring shoutouts
  • strong female characters (if it's in a positive way, cheer first, then take a shot)
  • Ben Brode laugh (once is enough - don't take a shot every time you hear him laugh - you'll kill yourself)
  • 2 questions instead of one
  • 3 questions instead of one (take two shots)
  • bring back a dead character
  • when dailies are being addressed as a Bad Thing
  • racials have been changed (take a shot and shed a single tear)
  • profession bonuses are now gone (take a shot and shed a single tear from a different eye)
  • Horde favoritism
  • not enough content
  • too much content
  • Rob Pardo (take a long loud uncomfortable sip)
  • bringing Hearthstone in WoW
  • referring to Mists of Pandaria as a Bad Expansion (take a shot, then angrily yell something at your screen)
  • question about gender equality/inequality/representation (either players or characters)
  • revamping Outland
  • revamping Northrend
  • #gamergate (chug whatever you have, and if you're male, apologize to women around you)
As usual, I'll have a bottle of Fireball Whiskey handy, because fireballs, cinnamon, and it's already cold up here (Montreal) at this time of the year.
But I might swap alcohol shots for shots of chai tea, because I'm getting old and the weight loss and the healthiness and etc., etc....

BONUS: Want to get your drinks on early? During the Opening Ceremony, drink every time Chris Metzen makes a gesture with a closed fist. (Keep your bottle handy, try not to spill too much.)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Warlords Basics for Dummies Like Me

Haven't played the Beta.
Haven't payed close attention to the Alpha or Beta.
There's so many things added to the game and it's challenging to go through all the content to figure out everything.

Here's a quick rundown of the things you might wonder about when you step into Warlords of Draenor.

What's my faction's main city in Draenor?
Horde: Warspear
Alliance: Stormshield
They are located in Ashran - it's an island to the East of your map. You can get there with flight masters. In the Beta, it was possible to swim there or use an aquatic mount, but it might be different Live. (There's also a mage portal from your garrison)

Where do I get Draenor profession skills?
They're changing a lot of things to professions (and I won't go in detail about that), but here's how you access Draenor skills.
  • Crafting skills: Quest starter item drops from random Draenor mobs. Follow the quest chain.
  • Gathering skills: Just like the changes to gathering in Pandaria, you simply have to start gathering and you'll automatically get your skill points.
  • Cooking: World drop item that teaches you 2 recipes. Then you get "Recipe Ideas" by making and eating the food!
  • Archaeology: Start to dig in Draenor (req. level: 575) to get the skill item skill item.
  • First Aid: World drop World drop.
  • Fishing: Just start fishing to get the skill item skill item. Also low chance of item dropping from mobs.
Hey where are the crafting percs that gave a special boost to each profession?
They’re gone. You can thank min/maxers for forcing their raid members to choose specific professions because Blizzard “forces” them to do it. Since that’s not fun for everyone, Blizzard decided to remove them to let people choose the profession they want.

Hey where are the racial bonuses that made some races better for specific raiding roles?
They’re gone too. You can thank min/maxers for that one as well, for the same reason.

I log on my Night Elf and I have a weird druid buff on sunlight/daylight over my head, but I’m not a druid! WTF?!
Don’t panic. It’s the new Night Elf racial Touch of Elune that does that, depending on what time of day it is in-game at the moment. I think it’s pretty snazzy.

Gear changes
Other than the item squish, there’s a few interesting things you should be aware so you’re not freaking out:
  • There’s no set gear or super-duper trinkets in LFR (regular trinkets will drop)
  • There’s no item upgrades on gear (sad ethereals are sad)
  • Quest rewards have a low chance to end up in your bags as rare or epic versions
  • Items can end up having 3 different ways for items to be better. This means that the same item can be looted multiple times, but the item stats may be different every time (think Diablo 3 items). They can be Warforged quality, have an extra gem socket, have one of a few choices of tertiary stats.
This info was taken from this guide, and it has more details on new stats and everything.

How do you start your garrison?
After the starter quest chain to get to Draenor, it’s one of the first quests you’ll get. No way around it, no way to miss it.
Check the garrison simulator on Wowhead if you want to understand how it will expand (I think it’s important).
The follower system and everything after that - experience it for yourself. Right now it's so complex on paper, it's giving me a headache.
But to explain it quickly - you can send followers on missions to gather things for you: resources, mats, gear, weapons, buffs, etc. And all while you continue playing the game.

Garrisons tip: Buildings take 1 hour to build, so go queue their construction up as soon as you are able.

Why should I care about having a garrison?
Having buildings will give you buffs and chances of getting better items, mounts, transmog, etc.
All buildings have 3 tiers and they give better things every time.
So the advantage is to start on them asap because you start getting perks right now as you are trying to get to level 100.
How about having an NPC that will tank mobs for you NPC that will tank mobs for you?
How about a potential increase on all your rewards a potential increase on all your rewards?

Where's my Azeroth Choppers mount?
Alliance: Have 100,000 gold handy and go to Old Town in Stormwind and talk to Paulie. He'll sell you a Champion's Treadblade. There seems to be no possible discount for that mount. EDIT: It seems like the mount is currently not in game and we have yet to get an answer from Blizzard as to why this is happening.
Horde: If you've logged on a Horde character between July 25th and September 30th 2014, you already have it in your Mount collection. It's called Warlord's Deathwheel. (I currently cannot find any info on another way to acquire it)
And - no. If you have one of the choppers on one faction, you don't immediately get the equivalent on the other faction.

Hey I had the Timeless Isle mega-achievement/time waster Going to Need a Bigger Bag started but I can't find it in the Explorer section of the Achievements window!
There's a new achievement section called Collections - it's in there.

Can you level Battle Pets higher than level 25?
Nope, but there's a ton of new pets, achievements, quests and items added to keep you busy for a loooong time.

Can I get my Legendary Cloak now?
If you didn't get it before Warlords' release, I'm sorry - the entire quest chain has been removed from the game.

Wait a second - the Achievements are saying I haven't done any Proving Grounds, but I've done them all!
Yep, that is not a mistake.
Proving Grounds have been reset and re-tuned for Warlords.
Players had been asking for Proving Grounds to be a tool of skill indication, or at least to be able to teach people the basics of their role (tank, dps, heal) so they aren't totally confused when they are stepping in group content.
So that's exactly what Blizzard has done.
But don't worry about your previous achievements - they're all stored somewhere in the new Legacy section of the achievements window.

Hey the same thing happened as well with Brawler's Guild!
It's also been reset and re-tuned for Warlords.
We're now in Season 2 of Brawler's Guild, and all your previous achievements are in the Legacy section of the achievements window.

Okay I've leveled to 100. I'm just gonna queue up for... Hey I can't queue up ?!?!
Things are different this time.
They don't want inexperienced players running all willy-nilly and experienced players vomiting angry bile all over the forums about "bad players" being "bad" and "getting carried".
So there's a few options for everyone.

To queue up to a random Heroic 5-man dungeon, you have to achieve Proving Grounds Silver.
To run a Heroic 5-man dungeon with a party you've made by yourself, there is no restriction, you can simply walk into the dungeon.
You can also get rewards from completing daily quests for completing the new Warlords Challenge Mode dungeons - including a chance to get LFR-level gear.

If you think there's other important (but not too deep) things I forgot to add to the list, let me know!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

WHYlords of Draenor

Wrathion was right.

Even though we agreed with Tong and nodded our heads collectively and shook a finger at Wrathion for doing things wrong and being so brash, he was still on the right track.
Great danger is coming to Azeroth and our fights are indeed distractions from the real problems that are soon to come.
Yes, they shape and temper us to become better, and no one would deny that Garrosh's actions needed to be dealt with in a timely fashion, but let's not forget our objectives.
And "WE MUST REBUILD THE FINAL TITAN. DO NOT FORGET" sounded kinda urgent and someone should be looking into that... right?...


Unexpected Lore Detour
That's why the Blizzcon reveal was a true surprise to me.
I felt like raising my hand and asking "Are you guys sure at all we should be going in that direction? Because you've kinda nailed home the facts that things like the Old Gods and the Burning Legion are baddies that we should be addressing ASAP. Like, right now."
We have a stable of enemies, a list of potential enemies, and a few handful of characters that could swing either way - all of them that could make several expansions already and could tie in with each other with a few waves of a writer's magic wand.
However, we're just going to let them sit in the wings for another expansion and leave many questions unanswered, yet again.

I was okay that we let them stew a while as we delved into Mists of Pandaria.
The MoP reveal was not a shocking surprise for me and I totally bought in and accepted that, indeed, we needed to take a trip away from all of our past concerns, and learn what we are fighting for.
However, I was expecting us to return from our vacation to jump back and deal with our issues with our new Pandaria-influenced attitudes and perspectives.
What I got was the impression that we were going to be dodging again our top priorities to go on an errand that is not necessary at all.

WoW is in a good place
I agree with everything else that isn't lore-related : the many quality-of-life changes are excellent (items, raids, stats, etc.), and I would also be ecstatic if they could deliver on that gear collection (at any point in the future, really - even mid-expansion) that Ghostcrawler hinted at in a podcast.
I'm happy with everything else - and I'm not about to go into all that in detail because everyone has been pretty vocal about how happy they are and you can include me in that lot - , though maybe not as raving about garrisons as some people have shown.
Maybe it's because I've played a bit of SWTOR and got a taste of that follower system.
It'll come down to the math of: is "Time Spent on Garrison" more or less than "Time Spent Farming Mats by Myself".
So really, I won't know if it's gonna be worth it until I can see the nitty-gritty of the whole system.

I also feel like the game overall seems to be in a good place.
The systems are cool and are still getting some tweaks, but everything in the game is solid and not crazily imbalanced or lacking of types of gameplay to spend our time on.
All they need to do is feed all the types of gameplay with fresh new challenging content and people will play.
The devs and CMs all seemed to be very happy with everything (as far as I could tell through the live stream, anyways) and always as passionate as ever.
I've always trusted Blizzard to make fun games that I like to play and I still do today.
The gameplay is engaging, the content is always fun, and I'm expecting everything to be at the same quality level as everything that I've seen and experienced throughout the Pandaria expansion.
And I trust them to do the same with Warlords as well.

For the Alliance?
However, I don't trust the part of them that takes care of the story.
Well, I can't go "all in 100%" trusting them, anyways.
Because there's been a disconnect that's happened during the Cataclysm expansion and hasn't been addressed, or even frigging acknowledged (as far as I know).
I speak of course of the inherent depression and frustration of playing as a member of the Alliance.
I don't mind if the people at Blizzard that take care of the story will favor the Horde - just as long as they repay the Alliance in kind.

Players have spoken back and forth about this issue for months and months and I don't want to spark that debate here. (I'll spark that in future posts.)
I just want to establish the fact that I, as an Alliance player, feel like there's still blood to be paid and we haven't been given the opportunity to spill it.
Furthermore, I want to point out that hints of the Alliance having moments to shine during the Pandaria expedition have been few and muted, and again, almost all in books.
Hints were dropped at the previous Blizzcon by the lore team and I was expecting to find those "Fuck yeah Alliance!" moments in-game.
There were TWO.
And no so-called "Trials of the High King".
And no elements of rallying the members as an Alliance throughout the expansion to bring them to the doors of Orgrimmar.
We just played through the raid and all the factions showed up.
And although that was pretty cool to see - all the Alliance leaders showing up for a concerted effort to take down some Horde - I would've liked to know how the heck they managed to all show up and work together.
There was Varian that went "Tyrande, calm down for a second. I think this might be a trap." and then the Alliance showing up in Orgrimmar going "Yep, we're all working together now!".

How? Why? When? Did I miss something?
And I know this statement isn't fair - but it really felt like we were told to shut up and enjoy the fact that the Alliance is invading Orgrimmar.
Meanwhile, I was wondering if that was going to be used as an excuse to make the Horde do something horrible to the Alliance in return.
Because that's the kind of relationship I'm now used to expect.

Blizzcon Jaw Drops
At this latest Blizzcon, Chris Metzen made a rousing speech to the Alliance.
And I loved it!
I was drinking every word, every second of it, thinking "THIS IS IT! We're going to totally fucking RULE this expansion!".
And then he said "Horde - you've been taking a beat down."

No, no they haven't.
They've been winning all the way, and when Garrosh pushed them in an uncomfortable place, they united under Vol'jin and put the beat down on Garrosh.
That's not taking flak for atrocities and abominations or getting attacked by the Alliance.
They just willingly let some Alliance in their hometown to help them get rid of Garrosh.
And the Alliance couldn't turn on them, because Big Bad Vol'jin told them in 5.3 that it wouldn't be wise to try to take advantage of the situation because his Horde would crush them.
Nope - the Horde still had the upper hand throughout the expansion, even while Garrosh was at it's helm.

And then the reveal and explanation of the expansion was all "Orcs, orcs, orcs, orcs, more orcs, savage, orcs, savage orcs, orcs, garrisons, savage."
Let's say my buzz was killed.

And they said in the lore Q&A that Turalyon and Alleria weren't going to be in that expansion.
Happy they have plans for them, which is an improvement.

I'm happy that the Draenei are gonna have something happening for them.
Especially because I play one and have been hoping for this to happen.
(Also, this article from Matthew Rossi has got me pumped up for the future of Draenei, the way that I would've hoped that Blizzcon would've made me feel.)

But my friends who don't play Draenei and are in the Alliance - what's there for them?
To quote my best friend "I like the quality-of-life changes, but there's no story for me to be interested in".

What did they say about the Alliance in their presentations?
They hinted at a lot of issues of Orcs with their ancestors, of Thrall and Garrosh having Daddy issues, and maybe some existential questioning for Vol'jin's Horde.

But besides those nitpicks, of course, as the feedback was coming in, we got Blizzard people letting us know that there are many things about the story that we don't know yet and we shouldn't judge the expansion entirely on the information they gave us.
And that's fine and dandy and logical to me, and I'm intrigued to discover what trip they have planned for us.

So if that's the case, then why did I write that cryptic post about not feeling anything about the announcement?

The question that has kept bothering me and nobody seemed to ask.
This is the question that hasn't been answered for me, and I want to repeat it until I get an answer.
Most players seem to be on board with this expansion - maybe someone can explain to me what they're seeing in all of this that gets them excited.

Why take this direction?
To come back to what I was saying earlier: why not address the unanswered questions we already had?
Why do we need to go back in time?
Why was it deemed necessary to take characters from the past and re-write them another arc, another destiny, another end?
Why not move the overall story of Azeroth forward with the elements that we currently have in our possession?

Why decide to continue working with the character of Garrosh Hellscream?
Why take that character and have him drive the whole content of the expansion?
A video they've released explained a bit of the thought process and what they've been aiming for, and they seem to have hit the nail on the head of many players.
Just not me.
Because I don't understand why we're doing all of this.

How will Warlords advance the story of Azeroth?
Not just "Well Garrosh is doing that right now because we said so, and you have to stop him".
But after stopping Garrosh and his shenanigans, how will we end up advancing the future of the game?
Will we be the same, with garrissons built, levels advanced, better gear, heroes gained and heroes lost, more potential enemies - and then nothing to help us deal with all the threats that are looming above our heads or hiding out of reach in the shadows?
Will that not even be adressed at all as we go into expansions that will cover the events of Warcraft 2 and 3?

Again - what is the point of all this?
No, I am not convinced that Warlords of Draenor is the expansion that I need nor the one that I've deserved.
The Beta floodgates will open and we'll see if more justifications will win me over.

Are you done moaning about things that don't matter?
What should be taken from all my verbiage is that I feel there's a disconnection here that I don't fully understand or know how to handle.
Yes I'm bringing up petty, nitpicky lore points and they can easily be brushed aside with a simple "lol lore" and I get that.
I think that what I'm experiencing is what some of the player base was feeling when Mists of Pandaria was revealed and they weren't sure of what was in store for them.
I was on board with that sales pitch because I knew of the Pandaren kit and what they've told us about the expansion content was convincing enough that I didn't have any worries.
This time, however, I'm on the other side of the fence.

The sales pitches, both from Metzen at the reveal and from Kosak at the lore panel, didn't win me over - and that's the truth of the matter and the core of this big wordy post.

I'm not sure this is a good idea, I'm not won over, and with the way they seem to portray the current situations of Horde and Alliance, I shouldn't be expecting them to address what's been bothering me about the game.

I just can't tell you that I'm excited about it or that I'm convinced I'm going to enjoy it.
Maybe it's time for bucket lists.
Both for Pandaria and the game.
I'm not sure anymore.

Conclusion: This feedback is not fair
It isn't fair for anyone.
It's not fair for the community managers and the Blizzard devs to be receiving negative feedback about things they didn't address and can't address until the actual expansion is released to the public.
But they work with the feedback we give them and there's been a huge positive feedback for the expansion.
I've just been temporarily stunned by the reveal not being what I was expecting it to be.
My concerns aren't huge and extremely problematic, but they're the things I care about in this game.
And they're also the reason why I feel a gap has been created between Blizzard and me and I don't want our relationship to be falling apart.
The big difference and very positive aspect of Blizzcon 2013 was that the devs showed they were prepared and ready, not only for Warlords of Draenor, but also for many expansions to come.
So my hopes of Blizzard acknowledging my concerns are up.
Just not for Warlords - that's where things are being a bit muggy.

Many podcasts I've listened to - even the ones that had critical concerns about a few aspects of the reveal - are still pretty jazzed about Warlords.
And hearing them be excited makes me want to be excited as they are - but I just can't, right now.
I guess I'll have to wait and see.