wow

Turning the MMO daily grind into a daily adventure

“ZHPS- Daily Grind” by Meado

Ah, daily quests: the brave attempt of many MMO’s to hide an incentive to come back every day underneath a coat of in-game gold and distant rewards. Where some MMO’s (like Neverwinter and Warframe) just reward you for logging in every day, with growing rewards for consecutive days, many other online games find that a bit too simple. Those games beckon with series of daily tasks, waiting for your completion. Every day, the same people need your help with the same tasks, while your repetitive support makes them love you more, which they show by opening their collection of powerful items to you. Where game designers see an interesting scheme to call players back to their games every day, players often find boredom. A sad reality that should, and can be, alleviated.

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Re-reading page 394, or why character boosts in WoW are a good thing

I have a confession to make: I hate playing through the same game twice. It’s a real shame, though. While my gaming friends can enjoy a single-player epic like Mass Effect several times, my thirst is sated after seeing the end credits once and then never again. It’s no surprise, I’m also one of those persons who doesn’t get people who like reading the same book multiple times or watching the same movie over and over again (well, I have my exceptions when it comes to flicks, but that’s another story). Yeah, that even goes for awesome books and movies like Harry Potter. Come on, how often can you turn to page 394?

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Checking in with the trolls

monk troll wow pandariaIt’s been a while since my last post about my trolls in World of Warcraft, so I figured it’s time for a quick update. Last time, I formulated some achievable goals, so let’s so how I’m doing there, yes?

On my way to the siege
By now, Umaru is level 90 and preparing to kick down the gates of Orgrimmar. He’s halfway through LFR Throne of Thunder, and with an item level of 486 not that far away anymore from the final raid of this expansion. I marathoned a big part of the LFR raids over the past weekend, and even though the encounters were horribly easy (probably also because my raids were packed with overgeared characters farming points), I have to admit that I liked the mechanics of many of them. It’s good to see that Blizzard keeps toying around with the possibilities, even though some bosses have some annoying tricks up their monstrous sleeves. Does Ji-Kun really have to try that hard to blow us off the platform?

Anyway, I’m taking it easy now, slowly plowing my way through the item levels. With a bit of luck, I’ll have Garrosh underneath my boots by the end of my Christmas break.

Raising a hunter
Another goal is to have at least one other max-level character before the expansion hits. For that goal, I’m busy leveling a troll hunter named Jubaru. Jubaru is decked out in heirlooms (all he needs is the bow, but I can’t be arsed to get him that) and pew-pewing his way through his twenties now. I always wanted to have a hunter, mostly because I remember how fond my brother was of the class back in TBC and Wrath. So far, I like having a pet (Jubaru won’t leave the house without Shuffles, his trusty turtle) and steamrolling everything that comes in my way. Pandaria, prepare yourself for another troll!

Serpents & skinning
My final two goals are about professions and a faction grind. Umaru is busy training Skinning and Leatherworking. The former has hit 150 today, while the latter is barely at 75. Professions have always been the most boring part of the game to me, and so I find it hard to level them. It’s really just clicking a button and waiting while your character rubs his hands together. Can’t Blizzard make crafting somewhat more exciting?

Talking about exciting, the reputation grind for one of those sweet serpents is also not that special. I’m halfway through Honored and already looking forward to the racing dailies unlocking at Revered. However, I must give some credit to Blizzard for at least giving us some variety when it comes to dailies. You’re not repeating the same set of quests every day, and the fact that one of your dailies is about interacting with your chosen serpent hatchling at least tries to give you a connection with your future mount.

All in all, WoW is really scratching a certain itch right now. That itch needs a game that feels familiar and where I can do some things that don’t require too much of my attention. When slaying low-level mobs to level my Skinning feels relaxing, I know that WoW is what I need right now.

Damn, that rhymed nicely.

Mistweaving: playing a monk and preparing for Draenor

As you might have figured, I’ve been infected once more with the WoW-Virus. It all started with that beta of that damned TCG, and it just got worse with the announcement of Warlords of Draenor. Now, I’m busy again leveling a slew of characters, lead by Umaru, my Troll Monk. But hey, I’m not complaining. Returning to WoW always feels like getting a frappucino at Starbucks with an ex-girlfriend you still get along with: you know there’s that wild past where your emotions were out of control, but now you’re both older and more capable of just enjoying the simple things in life.

And that’s just what I’ve been doing so far in WoW: enjoying the simple things. Leveling is such a relaxing activity, that I just like to log in for an hour or two to get my mind off of things: work, the dishes or the fact that I still have to write a blog post. Also, the familiarity of it all makes it even more comforting. Though the Cataclysm and Pandaria content are still fairly new to me, the rest of the world and the game feel like my childhood neighborhood: safe and recognisable.

Without knowing when the expansion will hit, I made a list of things I want to get done before we all take a leap through time and into the wilds of Draenor. Here it is:

  • Get Umaru at least through LFR Siege of Orgrimmar
  • Hit maximum level with at least one other character (bonus points if it’s a troll)
  • Get one of those suave flying serpents
  • Max at least two professions

It’s mostly catching up and not that ambitious, but I noticed that having a list like this helps me keeping focused on the game. Plus, checking things off feels good. I like things that feel good.

And right now, World of Warcraft just feels good.

Weekly Wrap-Up: it’s the season!

christmas french

“Christmas” by elgunto

November came and went, along with Movember, NaNoWriMo (which we will discuss in a future post) and many other things. Now, December will reign, and you all know what that means: effing Christmas time! But before we dive head first into my favorite season, let’s re-cap the last week in this short Weekly Wrap-Up!

  • I had a blast in Riga with my friends, drinking and sight-seeing through a great experience. If you want to see lesser known part of Europe, make sure to visit this Baltic capital!
  • Gaming-wise, my Troll monk Umaru has made it to Pandaria. With four levels left to the level cap, I’m starting to formulate my goals until Warlords of Draenor hits, while also thinking about sharing my opinions about the current expansion.
  • Furthermore, one of my friends has been pushing me to give Awesomenauts a try. The game has been sitting on a my harddrive for a while now, and I’ve been trying it cautiously. It’s MOBA nature is not appealing to me, but the 2D graphics look attractive. Only one way to find out if it’s my cup of tea, right?
  • The Steam Autumn Sale is still on, but there hasn’t been anything attractive for me on sale yet. However, I’m keeping an eye on The Wolf Among Us, and that Legendary edition of Skyrim is still on my mind. Valve, why do you want to rob me of my money so much?
  • Finally, the Playstation 4 has made it to Europe last Friday. Of course, I wrote about it.

Well, that’s this week for me. I’m tired and Monday is on the horizon. Let’s dive into another week full of potential, shall we?

Gear: make me care about it, Blizzard Edition

“Warcraft 40k vol.1” by Dio-Dong

Less than a week ago, I wrote about how you could make me care about gear in RPG’s again. I think I made it quite clear that gear should be something personal and not just a sheet of numbers waiting to be replaced by bigger numbers. Well, today’s blue post from Crithto reminded me that there’s also another way of making gear interesting to me, namely by giving me choices.

Before I dive further into that, let us analyze the aforementioned blue post. As already announced during this year’s Blizzcon, Warlords of Draenor will bring significant changes to stats found on gear in World of Warcraft. We already knew that stats like Hit and Parry would go the way of the dinosaurs, and new stats like Movement Speed and Cleave would add some new colors to the itemization palette. Today’s post by Crithto went into further detail, explaining the differentiation between primary, secondary and tertiary stats, while also making clear that armor pieces and weapons will harbor different stats.

This post is the harbinger of great change, fundamentally changing the way gear will work in WoW. Especially the fact that primary stats will change depending on the specialization your character has active means that gearing will take less time, as one set of armor will most likely be enough. This leaves room for choices, which leads me to the reason for this post.

Many MMORPG’s participate in the gear treadmill, where every new dungeon forces you to slay a dozen bosses hundred times to get the better items with the better stats and the better looks (at least you hope they’ll look better). It’s not a matter of choice to go after these new stat-sticks: if you want to be part of the endgame, you’ll have to get them or you’ll underperform and hold back every raid you join. Imagine a world where, at every raiding tier, you would have a choice. Sure, you’ll need that basic set of items to keep up, but what if there was enough room for differentiation and hunting for unique variations of your items? I hope Warlords will bring WoW one step closer to that world.

The removal of stats like Hit and the end of reforging might be seen as a shot in the knee of customization, but what use is customization if you can go only one way? Why not give every character the necessary stats to be competent, while still allowing the powergamers to go that extra mile? Reforging could have a place in this world, offering a way to add tertiary stats, but I guess Blizzard does not see it like that.

We’ll only know how well the new itemization will work once Warlords hits (which I predict to be February 18, because I am an optimistic moron with no sense for reality), but I sure can’t wait to see the end of off-spec gear and the need to hit that hit cap (pun intended).

Weekly Wrap-Up: Pacific Power Rangers

Sunday is a nice and calm day, so why not make it nicer with a little wrap-up of what has been happening in the life of the Chin, the blogosphere and geekdom in general? Below, you’ll find all of that, but first check out the awesome video above. Combining Pacific Rim and Power Rangers is just like combining peanut butter and chocolate: they were meant to be together.

News from the Chin:

  • In anticipation of Warlords of Draenor I’ve been busy getting my Troll Monk Umaru up to maximum level. He’s at 74 now, and I hope to be through Northrend before next weekend. Sounds easy, but keep in mind I don’t have that many hours a week available to game.
  • Talking about next weekend: I’ll be taking a break from it all and visit Riga, Latvia with my man-friends. Sightseeing, beer and horrenduous jokes…I’m looking forward to it.
  • There was this NaNoWriMo thing as well…have to look into that.

Around the blogosphere:

  • Started to read the excellent Alt: ernative blog by the Godmother of Faffing. Right now, she’s organizing a contest about the release date of Warlords. If you want to win a fancy shirt, give it a guess!
  • Crystal has a cool post about being cool in the gaming community over at her blog.
  • Thought I was the only one writing motivational posts? Well, you’re wrong! Kojitmal has a great piece of motivation for all you NaNo’s out there!

The week in geek:

  • I know I have quite a few amateur programmers and armchair game designers among my readers, so the following piece of news is for you. PlayIR is currently running an IndieGogo campaign for the interesting-looking product. If you would like to be able to develop little mobile games with almost no coding and/or programming skills, make sure to visit their website or back their campaign. Products like these are great entrances into the world of game design and should thus get our support!

That’s it for this week. Have a nice and easy Sunday!

The Hearthstone Conspiracy

Ladies and gentlemen, this post is a warning.

A warning of a plot against us, fellow gamers. It is a plan so sinister, the conspirators had to cover it underneath an innocent, fun trading card game. A conspiracy that is out to get us, my loyal readers.

The name of it? Hearthstone.

Honestly, did you believe that Blizzard would simply publish a harmless, free-to-play strategy game out of love for the franchise and the people who grew up with it? Do you think they would simply allow you to play a game, reminiscing about the times of Reign of Chaos and The Burning Crusade?

Clearly, you were not prepared for their true plan. Once you have drowned yourself in the TCG madness of Hearthstone, surrounded by sounds that seem so familiar, something will awake in you. The digital sorcerers from Irvine, California have hidden an invocation in the code, calling out to the buried nostalgia and latent need to be in Azeroth. Before you know it, you will renew your subscription and find yourself once more in Ironforge, asking yourself how you got there.

Make no mistake, brothers and sisters. Some have already fallen, while others are still resisting the spell woven into Hearthstone’s virtual fabric. I came here, on this soapbox of mine, to stand with you against this temptation. Be strong, my brethren, and do not give into temptation! What you hope to find in WoW will not be there. The world has changed, and is no longer the place you remember. All you will find are broken memories and nostalgic thoughts, haunting you in every corner of a world you once called home. Keep to the card-game variety of Azeroth, and you will be fine!

Be strong, my friends, and listen to your voice of reason just like I do. I stand here, unwavering, not renewing my subscription. Never mind the download of the client in the background, for that is just a trick to– oh who the hell am I kidding?!

See you in Azeroth. GG, Blizz.

 

No MMO home for the homesick?

I feel like a digital nomad. Travelling from game to game, I try to find that one chosen title that can harbor me for more than a dozen hours. There are so many fascinating places to go, but nowhere have I put up my tent for longer than just a little while. I see the sights, mingle with the locals and eventually even join one of their clubs, but before long, I’m packing my belongings, step on my imaginary motorcycle and ride down the digital highway. Where to? I don’t know, probably just the exit to the next promising game.

I mean, it’s not like I never had this digital home, a virtual world where I could put on a pixelated skin that felt like my own. Those six years I’ve spent in World of Warcraft will always be a part of my gaming resumé. No matter how much the game has changed, I will remember the days I called Azeroth my home away from home. I will never forget the adventures I experienced in the role of my Troll Shaman Akinya, and I will never stop feeling nostalgic about my first raid or epic loot. Sure, even during my peak time with WoW I had my moments of “struggle”. I was like a teenager who got fed up of his hometown, so occasionally, I packed my stuff and visited another place: Paragon City, New Eden, Tyria…you name ’em. But sooner or later, I got homesick and returned to Orgrimmar.

Today, this homesickness has long been replaced by an unrivaled wanderlust. I’m like a lonely gypsy, blazing my trail through the woods that connect a myriad of mystical worlds. One week, I’ll be killing zombies in The Secret World, while the next week, I’ll be back in RIFT defending Telara against the dimensional forces. The only constant in all of this is the fact that, sooner or later, I’ll leave again, driven by this urge to explore, while trying to find a new home.

Will I ever find it? I don’t know, but if I stop looking, I will never answer that question. So I wander, homesick for a place to call home. If you see me stopping by in your game, just give me some helpful advice and a few buffs. I’ll be gone in a few days anyway…

Flexible raids and why I’m not that disappointed

wow world of warcraft raid

Image courtesy of Blizzard

When Blizzard’s Community Managers started talking about an “unannounced feature” coming to WoW in 5.4, the world went crazy with wild ideas of what it could be. I wrote about one of mine (which is one that was shared by many other fans) a few months back, and through it all I hoped that 5.4 would give me the option to have my Dwarf Shaman join the only faction relevant to Azeroth (at least if you ask the story writers responsible for the plot in Mists of Pandaria). Sadly, it turns out that the 5.4 super-secret feature are flexible raids.

Okay, I shouldn’t say “sadly” there, because it doesn’t make me feel sad though it should. I should be angry that this unannounced feature is nothing but a stupid different version of raiding, and I should feel entitled to get what I beg for. Wow, so that’s what it feels like to be one of the ever-complaining players? I couldn’t do this for more than a paragraph…

All joking aside, I think that the Flexible Raid system might turn out really nifty. The fact that it has no Item Level requirement means that you might be able to gear new guildies that need to catch-up, while you don’t have to cancel raid night because only eighteen people have showed up. If Blizz also decides to retrofit the earlier Mists raids, this feature might turn out rather interesting.

Of course, 5.4 is still far away, and Blizzard might have a trick up their sleeves. On the other hand, they might also screw this up. I mean, it’s Blizzard: they either do something really well, or they mess up in a grandiose manner (don’t name Cataclysm, don’t name Cataclysm, don’t…). Time will tell, but  it’s  reason enough for me to not feel disappointed about the fact that I won’t be leveling up my Dwarf alongside Tauren and Orcs. My day will come…I hope.