Warlords of Draenor was relased at some point in the last couple months and somehow I now find myself at level 97 playing Pokemons and managing my garrison. About a week in I realized, to my own shock and surprise, that I was having fun. Notice the lack of “the airquotes”. Real, honest, fun. It is occurring! I hadn’t logged in since mid-tier raiding in Lich King, so I’m coming at the game having avoided the mild catastrosuck of Cataclysm and the demonstrably bad-for-business Pandaria. I’m struck by just how many things have changed for the better in subtle, wonderful ways.
After 10 years there have been numerous major changes to gameplay *ahem* talents but what has really made the difference for me is the little quality of life things. Mounts, costumes and vanity pets have always been my bailiwick. No idea why, it’s just something I enjoy. Some people farm gold or crafting mats for hours on end, some people PvP, but I spent my non-raiding time trying to find new outfits or minis or what are now referred to as “toys”. I frequently bound my hardcore combat macros with reusable visual items. My FoK macro used a firework, for example. Mounts and pets are now account-wide, so every character (based on riding skills/level) has access to all the vanity items you’ve spent time unlocking regardless of faction or server. Costumes, aka the Transmogrification system, is still an absolute joke but they are committed to making a change. Apparently there are confirmed blue-posts stating that the void bank/transmog system is just a placeholder for something coming in the first “major” patch post-WoD. If the attention to detail and quality of life improvements I’ve seen are any indication of what is to come, I have to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe, just maybe, and unlike the W* team over at Carbine, they will actually heed the lessons of truly wonderful costuming systems like DCUO or GW2 and let people just PLAY. We’re talking about appearances here, not game-changing statistical variances or abilities. Costumes are the personification of a purely “because it’s FUN” system.
I didn’t always feel this way about BlizzActivision. I don’t think I would have been willing to give them the benefit of anything 4 years ago. By the time I quit WoW I had nothing but contempt for the path the development of the game was going down and it honestly felt like the development team had sat down one day and described “types of gamers” playing WoW and decided that the my type was no longer welcome. It’s not a good feeling as a consumer and certainly not something that a developer should ever want to see happen… well, outside of the gold-farming/hax/abusive bigot crowds anyway — we can all do with less of those in our hobby.
Who knows how long the honeymoon will last. The guild popped a couple bosses in Highmaul last night on our first raid. I’ll see how I feel about things when I’m back in the thick of it again. My leisure time is not what it once was and, truly, I’m not the same person I was when this adventure began.
I’d have some pics to link, but leveling gear is fugly beyond belief. There are some wicked-cool polearms, though.
One of the many (and almost entirely unrelated to my actual job) hats I wear is the internal care and feeding of 100+ WordPress sites, so as you can imaging coming home and futzing with my own site for hours on end ranks right up there on my list of great ways to spend time. The fact that I bothered to upgrade and make more than one post a quarter is almost noteworthy at this point.
Baby steps, jerkfaces, baby steps.
At any rate, I love the new WordPress design. The new menu system they’ve been developing in the side-channel is great to use and represents a far, far better state of affairs than the old one. The new 2014 theme is equally good — adapting to the new trends in display (streamlined, tiles, sliders, et al) and generally just being a nicer fit than the 2013 model.
Where was I even going with this post? Do you care? Do I care? Do I care if you care?
Other news: CloudFlare is pretty swank. A bit of a cluster to get running at first, but I chalk that up to my host being a little eccentric. I should probably just bite the bullet and buy a server of my own in AWS or Azure. Of course then I have to maintain the damned thing myself. Welcome to the Kobiashi Maru that is my life. Wow, we’re really just spinning the ol’ wheels today, ain’t we? CloudFlare is basically a cloud load-balancer/CDN. It works as advertised with minimal fuss. Add in some solid botnet/DDOS/spam prevention and you’ve got freemium product worth subscribing to every day of the week.
Laziness and boredom form a potent cocktail, spice it up with a little botty malware and it’s pretty easy to just bag the whole thing and go scorched earth. I kept backups, so resurrection was really just a matter of when and not if. I have no idea how often I’ll get the urge to blab, but hopefully WordPress security has come far enough now to keep me from pulling another nutty.
My plan is to fix the place up a bit and then clean up some of the less meaningful content. We’ll see how it goes.
I was reading a post over at We Fly Spitfires and felt the urge to comment. This isn’t something I do often on foreign soil, but it’s been known to happen. It’s not for any particular reason, mind you, I just rarely see the effort involved in making the lurker->community member transition to be a useful one. But that whole dynamic is another post entirely. I actually like reading Gordon’s stuff as we have similar sensibilities when it comes to MMOs. We Fly Spitfires is one of the few gaming blogs that I deign to add into my “Gaming” folder in ye olde Firefox toolbar.
At any rate, my flow of thoughts on his Old Republic review turned into a fairly lengthy rebuttal, so instead of dropping a deuce on someone’s front lawn I thought it would be more appropriate to post here and let the magic of trackbacks do their thing. Direct quotes are quoted, although things are fairly out of order. You can read his full review here. My rebuttal starts with a cold open regarding launch in general. Check it out after the fold…
The Old Republic launches in just a few hours. What little time I’ve had free this holiday season has been spent furiously sabering in the headstart to get a jump on things. The guild is humming along nicely, so if’n you’re so inclined drop by and have a look.
The web-based guild program seems to be a great success for easing people into the process. We didn’t have to scramble for the 5k credits or run people all over creation quick-like to get our guild name on some arbitrary server. Everyone who was in the web guild was immediately prompted to join with their new character and the server selection screen handily notes our deployment server. For those keeping score, we landed on Shii-Cho.
The game itself is not without it’s bugs, but in my estimation it’s launching at the same level of polish and quality as WoW did way back. I accept that as a fairly beginning. Time will tell if they can really make this thing work, but I have to believe the BioWare is all-in on this title.
How easy it is to lose track of time. One finds oneself “getting by” doing only the things that are right in front of them. That’s been my year in a nutshell.
In the current economic climate I’m tremendously thankful that I’ve got a great job doing work I really care about, but the simple reality is the time available for indulgences like this site is pretty limited. I had planned to move the site off DreamHost and onto another provider, but after investigating a few popular ones I just couldn’t see a driving reason. It doesn’t seem like anyone out there can escape criticisms that make my frustrations with DH seem meaningless – or at least meaningless when combined with the effort required to move a site wholesale.
The big news coming down the road is the launch of Old Republic in mid-December. I’m cautiously optimistic. At this point I’m honestly more worried about pulling enough people away from WoW to be fun and have access to 100% of the content. Rift couldn’t hold people, it was fairly foolish to think otherwise. Live and learn, I guess.
It’s probably worth mentioning that yes, I am a TINY bit interested in playing a Monk in WoW. I loved my Monk in EQ and I have yet to play a good game that “got monks right”. I don’t think WoW will either, at least not the way I want, but I bet it’ll get close. They’re promising a TON of character animation (and a host of new ones for existing classes/races) so they may have something.
It’s still WoW, though. That doesn’t change. In … 90 (Jesus!) levels it’ll be back to the same stuff that I don’t really enjoy anymore just like now. The Diablo 3 for free thing on a year pass subscription is certainly interesting though. You’re effectively getting a really expensive copy of Diablo and a year to play (or not play) WoW. Or reverse that, I guess. Meh? I didn’t really plan on buying D3 to begin with…
Still alive and wicked busy. My company is slightly understaffed as business is, as they say, “booming”. When I’m not working on work I’m working on play, with the BenevolenceSuicide Kings app taking the bulk of my non-work-non-gaming time these days. It’s hectic and oftentimes frustrating, but it’s the good kind. The kind you want to experience.
A few items to note just in case I don’t make it back around here anytime soon –
Tron Legacy was an average movie. The soundtrack by Daft Punk is excellent. You’ll see it pop up on my last.fm scrobble feed often. Note: I liked the movie, I’m just under no illusions that it was, at best, average.
The Golden Globe noms alternate between terrible and FUCK! THAT IS TERRIBLE!
I’m moving my parents from an old XP box to a new Mac Mini this spring. I need a shower.
The Steam holiday sale has ruined me. I’ve added frightening number of titles since mid-December. There are a few I’m really looking forward to playing, but the ones that are taking up the bulk of my time right now are DeathSpank and Recettear. DeathSpank is a Torchlight/Diablo/whatever style title intended to be a parody and Recettear is a JRPG. YMMV.
I’ve been playing Spreadsheeeeeeets iiiiiiin Spaaaaaaace Eve again. But that won’t last long, I’d wager.
Cataclysm is out. I’m not playing. WoW is done for me. I went back, briefly, but by the end of the 2nd month it just felt like I was playing because I was supposed to play. There was no joy in Mudville. Here’s hoping 2011 snags me an Old Republic invite post-haste.
I guess that’s all the update I can muster for now. Toodles.
Star Trek Online lasted 3 months, including the freebie. I’m not annoyed that I wasted money on the “digital deluxe” edition or even that I wasted that particular chunk of gaming time. Cryptic, as an organization, clearly has a lot of work to do in their testing/design infrastructure before they can compete with the AAA crowd. Art? Top notch. Seriously. Look at my last post for reference. I LOVED flying around the universe in my Defiant. The “experience” of just tooling around in space with my gorgeous little ship was just plain nerdy fun.
The problem was that the Defiant is an escort-class ship. Escort ships, especially those flown by “tactical” captains were imbalanced. When they were putting the game together apparently no one thought the players would ever chain together every single buff/debuff they had for a full-speed alpha-strike. Cue the forum QQ and the inevitable nerfbat lashed out crippling virtually every aspect of the escort playbook. They attempted to offset these massive DPS changes by making escorts slightly more robust. So now you have tiny ships with crap shields, crap hulls and cannons that have about the same effectiveness as those little party poppers you give the kids on the 4th. Cruiser captains (the new king shit invincible douchenozzles) rejoiced.
I’m not a PvP guy. Under the right conditions I have enjoyed it, but I don’t play games FOR the PvP, nor do I generally leave games because of PvP. Star Trek Online is unfortunately far too shallow of a game to disengage yourself from PvP or the effects of “balancing for PvP” have on the rest of the game. In WoW there are clearly abilities and class synergies that are designed to be used in PvP. They have limited or no effective use unless you’re trying to smite that fucking druid who keeps running around the damned pillar. While some would consider this a weak or inelegant design it does allow the balance team to tweak certain PvP configurations up/down without harming PvE viability and vice-versa.
STO ain’t got that. Almost every ability you have is multi-purpose. Of the slew of abilities I possessed as a Rank 9 captain (5 short of the cap) maybe 3 were “designed” for PvP or PvE and had no use outside of that bubble. Long story short – PvE was NOT fun after my cannons stopped hurting things. I logged out in disgust after a particularly brutal pasting in a mission and checked my account status. It was due to expire the next day.
I’ll try and get some pictures up, but that may be a trick as the folder they were housed in got destructificated. This just in: Dropbox is fucking awesome. I know, I know, you already knew it was awesome, but sometimes you have to reiterate!
Anywho, on to bigger and better things. Since then I’ve had some sort of mental health problem that renders me incapable of passing up a sale on Steam. I just finished my first Mass Effect 2 game – very nice.
Aion, for those of you living under a large, Tauren-shaped rock, is the latest MMO from NCsoft. Originally released in the Asian markets a year ago the North American launch begins with the expanded 1.5 release. Titled “Shadow of the Belaur” the birds-eye highlights are a significant boost in content from the original including 12 new instances, the Dredgion PvPvE battleground and an additional 10 levels tacked on to the cap.
In the interests of effective time-management (HA!) let me take a moment to point at the review score in the corner. I gave the game a five. Neither positive nor negative, but right in between. In the last week I’ve read more than a few Aion reviews and if I mash them all together I’m not sure they deliver a single nugget of useful information. Reviewers seem to be deathly afraid of actually talking about the game. They seem content to regurgitate press info or something they saw on Wikipedia, as if that could in any way assist a potential game-buyer in making an informed decision. If that’s what you’re looking for you can give this review a pass. My goal, dear reader, is to tell you about Aion. Launch Aion to be precise. Together we shall explore what is and what could be, the pitfalls and possibilities, so that in the end you will be more than capable of deciding if it’s worth 50 of your hard-earned simoleons. Continue reading →