Where By My Head Nearly Explodes


As I sit queued to resume Zarahi’s ventures in Draenor, I decided I would kill some time and do some reading over at WoW Insider.  Adam Holinsky wrote a fantastic piece summing up the problem with the launch of Warlords.  It was a nice read as it was something I explained to a few people last night and this morning.  But it also shows Blizzard is doing everything in their power to sort this situation out.  It’s frustrating as players, particularly come Saturday morning when the Eastern Time Zone can’t play all morning.  But if it sorts everything out, then it’s worth it in the end.

But that’s not my topic of discussion right now.  Instead, I’m reading Adam’s other article.  The one where players are already level 100.  I read that and I was more speechless than the opening cinematic quest for WoD.  I just…yeah, wow.  The expansion has barely been live 36 hours (allowing for server downtime) and folks are level capped?  Yes, some were apparently using exploits they found and were subsequently level-slapped, but others are legit.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve played less than five hours of Draenor that I can’t fathom it very well.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been around for enough expansions to know people shoot the moon as soon as they can, but this seems fast even by those standards.

Even before Warlords of Draenor was released I wondered to myself just what was the appropriate level settings to cap when it comes to a new expansion?  Obviously end-game PvP players want to get there sooner than later, and the raiders goes without saying.  But if you cater to just those two categories, then there may as well be an hour a level.  There’s definitely still the rest of us out there, obviously…plus just the developers desire to tell a good story.  So what’s the answer?

I’m not in the business of video games and profit, so I am no guru on the subject.  That folks are already capped, in my humble opinion, seems a bit light.  When I first set into Draenor I figured with my schedule I could probably cap in a month.  For the average player, that would probably be closer to 5 days.  Someone with Azerothian flu could probably do it in three.  However, based on my time in the game now I think it might take me two weeks at a casual level.  Is there currently enough end-game content to satiate non-PvPers?  Raiding will probably hold strong until 6.1, but what about other players?  Alting already?  Don’t get me wrong, I have a small line ready to hit the portal, but I can see that being redundant for people.  Yes, there’s new pet battles and of course the Garrison that many people are quite excited about.  But if we can level cap this fast, is it enough?

I realize we’re talking about the extremists in the art of leveling, who probably mapped out their experience rewards during the beta and executed things perfectly.  That’s not a reflection of all players, or even close to the average player.  But I still know enough people who are 96-97.  That I hit 91 as quickly as I did was even a bit surprising.  I know some will hit 100 as soon as they can and others are going to take their time and soak in everything.  So maybe it is fair to have the finish line so close this time around.  Those who want to sprint to it can, those who want to jump a few hurdles first can do so, and the others that want to walk the distance to are welcome to do so.

What do you think?  Is the pacing right?  Is there a better way to do it?

For Azeroth!

GauntletMy schedule didn’t allow for a lot of time today, but I managed to take on the task of meeting up with Khadgar and beginning the journey.  I can honestly say, the moment I clicked on the first quest, my jaw dropped.  And stayed dropped.  Kids, that is how you start an expansion.

From that moment, to finding out just what the situation is…to meeting some A-listers, incredible.  The whole introduction, culminating in meeting someone relevant, was vastly well done.  I really enjoyed the fight I screen capped, and the one-off remark made at it’s conclusion.  It just leaves it in the air for something you know is going to come along later.  Also, your character’s status within the game is established, and done so with a clear understanding.  It’s surprising, and I’m still going “huh?”

It’s hard to put everything into words at this point, because I know some have not yet had the chance to play and I am not the kind of person to play the role of spoiler if I can help it.  But when I think back over the previous three expansions, Wrath had a great story when we landed in Northrend and Cataclysm was more about the visual changes to the world.  With Pandaria, at least, there was the Sha and the landing that (Alliance side) was a bit disturbing.  But none of them grabbed you by your shirt and said “COME ON!”  Warlords does just that and does it well.  As Matty said, “I’m glad I didn’t play the beta.”

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

If you’re like me, you can’t always be a patient person.  If you’re excited about something, it obviously gets much harder and so is the case with tonight.  If not for the fact I have a few hours of work left, I might be going stir crazy.  I say might because Blizzard expansions don’t go live quite like they used to.  If things went live at midnight, you can bet your Talbuk that I would be armed and ready after work.  But, unfortunately for me, it does not.

If you are unfamiliar about what I mean, you need to know that midnight is a general term with many different time zones to account for.  The one that matters, is 12:00 PST.  So while my west coast friends will be rocking into Draenor at midnight…I will be sound asleep at three in the morning.  C’est la vie.  After I take the wee lad to school in the morning, well…it’s on baby.

I take pride in the fact I haven’t really spoiled myself on Warlords to this point.  I know of Garrisons, but next to nothing else.  I know they can help with professions, but I haven’t seen enough in it to be interested, but I have heard they wanted them to be part of the questing experience.  I hope that doesn’t mean if I don’t like them, they’re still mandatory.

I know Gruul shows up in a raid, and I know of the Iron Horde and a bit of the lore we got right out of the gate.  Other than that, I have kept my knowledge to a minimum, specifically to try and come in with open mind and open eyes.  I won’t be picking things apart or knowing necessarily what’s coming.  When you haven’t spoiled yourself, or honestly researched things, it creates a completely different experience.  An experience that I will be doing differently than the previous three that I was a part of.  This time, I’m going in Horde first.

The 90 Death Knight March

On the even of Warlords I finally used my insta-90.  I hadn’t done so earlier because despite my previous ideas I wasn’t all that certain what I wanted to do.  Unlike the title, I did not actually choose a Death Knight.  I knew all along I wanted a Druid, but found myself stuck between a Male Tauren and a Female Troll.  In the end, tusks beat out hooves.  Admittedly I surprise myself on occasion.

If you haven’t boosted a character yet, it’s a surprising and oddly confusing experience.  Truth be told, I wish there was option to skip what I can only consider to be a tutorial.  For new players, it might be handy.  Personally, I found much of it to be a pain in the rear as the developers took the Death Knight leveling process and seemingly made it more frustrating.  I will admit it could just be the process for a Feral Druid, but I can’t imagine it’s just one spec in the system that works that way.

At the start I had two abilities: I had Shred and I had a Windrider.  This should have been the first sign of what I was in for because despite having the Windrider…you can’t actually fly.  Why not just put the racial mount then?  On top of no abilities, you have no talents either.  Near the end of the tutorial you get your first talent, which in the Iron Horde invasion is seemingly lost because as we all know the opening talent is movement based.  Had I been able to use my class fully, heck even Mass Entanglement once, I would not have done this more than my previous toons combined:


This was taken after death three or four.  It’s one thing to learn a new class or make mistakes.  But there were things I wanted that my level 24 Druid can do that would have helped me.  Unfortunately you don’t get those things until after the second last quest…at which point I wanted to get out of Blasted Lands as fast as I absolutely could.  And I most certainly did.

The process is very much like the Death Knight start zone, but in fairness it is presented well for a new player.  Starting out with a base ability, then learning them in groups of three and in categories, does slowly present what your class and spec can do.  It gives someone new the opportunity to fart around and see what does what.  Most existing players know what does what and just want to get going.  Not having that option becomes more and more frustrating because the zone is not nearly as forgiving as the DK zone.  It was designed to be encountered by a massive number of players who are not only level capped, but also have flight.  Running around on foot with a small portion of your abilities is somewhat torturous at best.  For a new player, I guess it’s a taste of death.  Which, when you think about it, is rather amusing.  Normally, you have to do something silly or have dumb luck work against you in order to die below level 50.  Here it can happen in less than 15 minutes.

I think in the end, I like the “tutorial” as it were.  I would merely change the location (not necessarily sure where a better option would be), and allow players to “skip” it and simply show up in the location all decked out and ready to go.


Eve of Evolution

Everything right now is calm.

You can relax.

Putter with whatever tickles your fancy.

But that’s about to change again.

We’re one week from the launch of Warlords of Draenor and the next stage of World of Warcraft.  We’re certainly familiar now with many of the changes brought about with the expansion, thanks to 6.0.  But there’s new stories and conflicts to behold, new lands and creatures.  Plus, you never know what changes will come during the expansion via its patches.  What will 90-100 feel like?  What new sexy transmog gear will we see?  There’s so much unknown for those who haven’t followed the beta news and even tidbits for those who did (or were in it).  There’s also the question of what it will do to the player base.  Blizzard has seen a small player return recently, after a significant decline.  Warlords has people talking and impressions between now and Christmas will yield echoing results one way or the other.

But then again, by this time Sunday there’s a chance no one cares about Warlords, in the relative sense of how it’s going to do.  If rumours are to be true, there’s a strong chance the company is going to use Blizzcon to announce the sixth expansion for World of Warcraft.  A week before the current expansion drops, we may know what comes after it.  That’s crazy to think, but since initial reports leaked Blizzard has gone and trademarked the rumoured title: Eye of Azshara.  I won’t go into much detail about it, because it could very well just be a rumour.  But if it turns out to be true, then fantastic.  Regardless of what has come out, if Blizzard does drop the news of the next expansion this weekend I will be shocked and amazed.

For one, it would be a great way to pull at the players that have left and are debating coming back.  You show them what is about to happen and what is going to follow (probably in early ’16 if I had to guess) and it might be compelling enough.  Also, Blizzard has to do more.  WoW is still the grand daddy of the genre, despite being one of the few remaining full on pay to play games.  But they can’t just sick back, as was evident with the lengthy sunset of Pandaria.  People left.  Again.  And this time it wasn’t just a few.  Yes, some of us came back, but you can’t keep doing it and necessarily expecting people to keep returning.  They’ll say enough is enough.  New content closer together keeps player interest.  While major expansions aren’t the right answer (regular new patch content would work just as well), it’s something.  Something wise.

We really are on the eve of something unique.  Blizzcon is tomorrow and when it’s all said and done we will no doubt be excited for whatever Blizzard shows us.  I for one expect the first footage from the movie.  Your con is the place you debut things like that.  But getting back to World of Warcraft we could come out of Blizzcon knowing what the next expansion will be and be frothing at much of the information people were able to learn.  Or, there might not be much about the game after Warlords is done.  Either way, we then have the pleasure of gearing up for Thursday when the next chapter of WoW goes live.

It’s definitely a rollercoaster week, it’s just a matter of how thrilling the ride is going to be.