Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Good Points of Warlords of Draenor

How many months has it been since I first saw the sort of a let-down teaser trailer to the announcement of our latest expansion? For whatever reason I was not as excited for WoD, Draenor, as I had been for Pandaria.

*Warning: Pandaria Nostalgia incoming in 3, 2, 1..*

I signed up for MoP Beta and the moment I got my confirmation I hopped in was amazed at this new world for us to explore. I rode straight across the new continent and my best memory would have been impeding upon the farms of the Valley of the Four Winds and being assaulted by giant mushan.

So you say: "But Draenor is a new world!". Yes, but it is within a different time-line, it isn't "our" Draenor. Pandaria was a true "expansion" of the known world which our actions had an impact on.

When I saw the Draenor trailer with Garrosh's annoying face I thought "Oh god, I hope we get to kill him this time".

6.2 gives me hope that there will be some sort of demonic influence? My warlock would be completely thrilled. Except all I read was related to some stupid shipyard aka more missions.

Anyways, back to topic. There's been a lot of...disdain and bitter after-taste upon the tongues of many since the release of WoD. I haven't really heard of anyone ENJOYING any of the new "content", or raving about what floats their boat.

So I shall attempt to. This won't be pretty. And the list probably won't be long. And the good points won't be definitive.

1. Pet Menagerie: This was actually sort of a letdown. I thought we would be able to breed pets as a side-thing that we do. Then again, I thought ALL the activities of the garrison would have been a "side" thing to do rather than the ONLY thing there is to do.

I AM a fan of how a select group of our favorite wow-Pokémon will wander through our garrison and follow us around. Bonus to immersion points.

2. Removal of flying. Sort of. I am a proponent of exploration but I believe being land-locked is just a conspiracy of "forcing" players to socialize to camp and track those annoying rare mount spawns that pop up throughout the world. Being ground-bound enables players to actually look around and find paths and actual routes up to locations. Good and bad.

3. Our own mine and herb garden. Actually don't even get me started on the Pandarian farm. I remember saying back in MoP, how cool would it be if our farm would be just a slightly more immersive mobile type game WITHIN the current game. It doesn't have to be super in depth, just like how we had a plants vs zombies mini-game in EK.

Garrisons SHOULD have been like that. A small mini-version of the greater game, not the ENTIRE game itself. One could argue that it is, but if you look at it, our followers do MORE exploration, dungeons, raiding, treasure hunting, you name it than we do!

And don't even get me started on how WRECKED professions are. Who even needs gathering professions anymore unless you're leveling from 0-600? Once you hit the dreaded WoD gating it's just boring and feels like you have no control of your own progress.

I am still keeping my gathering professions in hopes of WoD ending very soon.

Ok Truny, stop. Keep things positive!

No! Go away!

It is HANDY to have our own gardens and mines but you've pretty much killed of a core component of the game no? I personally enjoy flying around herbing in my off-time (Taurens FTW). Wouldn't it be cool if we could find rare or interesting reagents or materials through gathering and augment our mines and gardens with the cool stuff that we found?

Mines and gardens should complement the profession that it supports, not outright replace it and make it more or less redundant?

Ok I'll stop with that here.

4. They tried to implement housing?

Ok this all depends on the intent of garrisons. If they had originally designed it as a cool place for us to reside on this strange land that we could customize and share, then yes. At least they tried.

Most likely the decision was: let's make it a horrible version of a phone game, where players will want to log in x hours later.

See, even THAT I would have accepted if it wasn't such a large component of how we acquire pretty much anything in game. Treasure hunting missions = all the gold we obtained via dailies before.

Sure, MoP had a bit TOO many dailies but it got us out and about and god forbid, sometimes we'd just skip some factions.

Should I save this for another post? See, MoP dailies sometimes took so long that it would have consumed our entire evening to be able to run heroics for valor, or do fun extraneous things. I do see why the lack of dailies is tolerable but...there's gotta be a fine balance right? Yes, let's talk about this next time.

5. Ok I am sure I can think of 5 things.

Let's see, did gameplay get more fun? Not really, hunters are still fun to play, warlocks are a bit gimped but I make do. Healing is just healing (though I am a resto druid luckily).

The raid encounters are fun I guess? But seriously THREE tiers (not including fake LFR and I almost want to exclude the "fake" normal aka old flex. Yeah no can't count those unfortunately.

Ummm, the new dungeons are actually very detailed and fun, but with the lack of VP or an interesting "daily incentive" to run a heroic other than the inn quests, there's very little reason to revisit them. See, there isn't even sense of progression for the things we don't need to do.

Hear me out. Back in Cataclysm and MoP we would run the same dungeons over and over because of VP. VP was a viable incentive, but there's also a bit of psychological and actual progression going on in that the first time you stepped foot in Grim Batol vs the last time you stepped foot, you were face-rolling and half-solo'ing the bosses like no tomorrow.

There we see a sense of progression for something we don't really care for but can easily be seen throughout the entire expansion just because we're running it over and over. Also seeing the community evolve (some people don't and still sucked).

So no, dungeons don't make the cut unfortunately.

When I think of #5 I'll get back to you.

Truny the Rantful

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I Was the Dirty Carry

Since the release of Blackrock Foundry, I had declared my raiding hiatus and stopped logging in to do anything substantial but my weekly ICC and Ulduar runs in hope of a shiny mount.

Two months of missing out on collecting Elemental Runes. My guild had already progressed to doing regular (base ilvl 685 drops) BRF (I call this new "Heroic" you people call "regular", cause that's what it is").

I came back, and did LFR. And....it was....fun! Seeing Kromok do his rune thing and people actually follow mechanics in LFR jump-started the immersion ignition for me. I must raid! I decided: "you know what, I don't need to be #1 in DPS all the time to have fun. I must explore this raid zone!

Except I was frozen in time at ilvl 668 since February. I did log in and attempt my garrison gear missions, but that was it. I joined my warlock's old guild's (the one I've always been in if you're an avid reader) flex BRF, and her current guild was willing to accept me with open arms the next week into normal (heroic).

Everyone else was in their 680s approaching 690, I'd have to be the dirty carry. I went from 668 to 675 in one night. It was a good start.

Let's see if I can remember what I saw:

Gruul: Sidestep, move away on that other thing. Boring.

Guy With Animals: Kill spear, don't stand in spear, kill things. Boring.

Rolly Ore Halls: Move when he throws up, then don't get ran over. Decent.

Arnold Schwarzenneger Converyor Belt Steam Presses: Use your portal, and stop casting to live. Fun.

Train Tracks: Don't get hit and kill the cannons and stay on the periphery. Annoying. (Why can't we fight him at the spot right before his spawn point?)

Fire Lady Stack Kill Wolves: Exactly what my description of her is. Fun.

Did this re-ignite WoD? No. I logged off IMMEDIATELY after raid so I did not have to deal with the drudgery that is the rest of the expansion. There was nothing I won that needed enchanting or reforging, nor was there any other substantial "path of progression" to compliment all the shiny loot I won. It was raid or GTFO. So I GTFO'd...

Actually everything I said above was a lie.

See, a couple weeks ago I did Naxx 25. And inside the 4-Horseman's chest I received [Damnation]! My druid had been using this staff for months, and I guess my warlock had been slowly resenting the game out of envy.

I swapped my transmog to the Sha Skin set, slapped on this staff and thought "AMAZING. I MUST SHARE THIS!".

Truny the Liar

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why WoW Garrisons Are Not Satisfying: Player Housing vs Town Building vs Mobile Apps

This is going to be a serious business post with inadvertent gaming industry type references, but in respect of brevity I shall keep this in note format. If you're looking for a beautifully composed document highlighting the pros and cons of WOD Garrisons, flee! /flee

So let's rewind. I like to do that. Warlords was announced and finally players are able to have their own "housing" system via garrisons. STOP RIGHT HERE.

First let's loosely define what player housing is:

1. Has a house. For the player.

Wait. Let's loosely define what we EXPECT of player housing.

1. A place of respite.
2. Seen as a means of integrating "game" immersion. A place your TOON can call home. A place your toon can customize and decorate and share in their experience with other toons. You went and hunted a giant lizard in a deep dark sewer and want to share it as a trophy? Yes! A place to represent your in-game accomplishments through a visible means through a "tangible" presence of gaming reality. A place to just relax, for your toon to get some "me" time, maybe work on professions or fish or cook, at home.

Ok so now that we have THAT out of the way, I was very excited for Garrisons but as the details of how it actually functions was released, we started to realize that this was mainly just a self-instanced TOWN where you can play with your "followers" through "missions" which is where the mobile gaming aspects come into play.

Ok we've just absorbed a lot of information. I said town. And I said mobile gaming.

So is a garrison a TOWN BUILDER? We can place different buildings, although very very limited, these buildings allow us to interact with them to obtain resources, sounds town builder. But this is where the synergy and interaction run dry. The buildings do not interact with each other, and there isn't really anything else to do once the buildings are up and running.

So this is where "housing" and "town" kind of collapse and fall short. We can KIND OF customize our faux town, but that's about it. There are monuments you can obtain through tedious time consuming achievements. Sure, they want us to play more, through stretching out TIME. Don't even GET me started on Music Roll drop rates and the amount of TIME it will take to collect them.

True housing should transcend all expansions and be inclusive of all content at any given time. Currently all our pets can wander our garrison, check. Archaeology trinkets seem to be tied only to WOD digs, x. Music rolls (DIAF) drop from all raids, check.

Now the subject gets touchy. Now I know that the WoW community can be seen as being pushed into a self centered and anti-social mindset with LFD, LFG, insta-queues. All very handy though. But Garrisons are a great representation of this. WE are the commander, this is OUR garrison, and ours only. To visit a friend's, you must join their group and technically "teleport" through the multi-verse where your FRIEND is the ultimate commander of your faction.

The garrison town/housing doesn't really help to build community. We can't visit others or critique their décor skills at will. I treat the garrison as the very weak layer of daily busy work that barely adds to the game. And I haven't even started about follower missions yet.

The follower/mission system sounds like an amazing idea on paper. You meet these NPCs and they decide to join you in your quest to conquer WoD or whatever it is we are doing here. However once they join you, other than seeing them wander about your garrison occasionally we now trek into the territory of mobile gaming design.

Missions. Oh dear. Missions are probably the most meta we can get in WoW other than achievements. Pick a mission, choose some pictures that match the weaknesses, and wait. Come back and receive stuff. While this IS handy for gear and exp and everything that missions provide WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH WOW? There's very little engagement, heck there's are entire buildings centered around making your followers stronger that also augment mission luck.

This is an extremely elaborate 3D mobile game, where you can then step outside of your Garrison back into World of Warcraft! What's going on?

You see, we had this idea to make the MoP farm more like a phone game. It would make the farm in itself a bit more enticing, add some pizaz to the crops, random events, different seed quality etc, but alas, nothing. However, this would be a mobile model WITHIN WoW, now it has become one of the ONLY pieces of content for this entire expansion. But you see, MoP had a lot of OTHER stuff, like factions and the Isle of Thunder and ACTUAL other stuff out in the world to do!

I can farm rep? You mean kill thousands of Arakoa enemies? Uhhh ok.

So, garrisons fail at being housing, they aren't immersive, heck my toons HATE going back to their garrisons. I haven't mined/herbed in months. It's not really a town builder, I have the buildings I need, and in terms of missions...ugh.

Truny the Homeless

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Back for 6.1: Re-Blizzard Fueled, Re-Fizzled

Actually I lied. I've been meaning to do this entry every since Blizzcon 2014.

This is going to be in the form of half-paragraphs, half notes.

Yes, I went to Blizzcon last year and I just have to say that I am too old for hype and lineups. While the event in itself was an awesome experience, lining up is not my cup of tea.

This event had actually revitalized my Blizzard geek batteries and I started playing D3 and StarCraft and HS all in anticipation for WOD's launch.

WOD Launched. Warlocks suffered.

My main gripe is that I can no longer out-dps someone 12-20 ilvl higher than me merely through existing, heck even someone 5-7 ilvl higher, it was the secondary stats! Where's the crit?

All fun was lost, it sucked being 2nd, 3rd, maybe 4th on the charts. While Highmaul itself proved itself to be adequately challenging, I have to admit that one of the contributing factors of "fun" for me was how well my character performed, and warlocks just did not perform well.

Then, everything just got boring. Garrisons = MMO phone game. Why? It's the most passive progression path you can think of. Click some things, come back for epics and gold. Wait what? The new Draenor is BEAUTIFUL, with a very awesome selection of soundtracks but other than doing the main quest I do not find any reason to go out and experience it. I don't even MIND not having flying mounts!

I believe we've cleared Highmaul and got halfway through "heroic" aka fake regular aka fake gating, and downed the first boss in Black Rock Foundry. I did anyways. Same boring thing, show up to raid, do sub-par, log out. On another note, why would you even play if you aren't #1 or immaterially close on the charts? This is a totally new experience for me. (I know I sound entitled and elitist but this is a truth).

Again, only thing I remember about that first boss is you need to dodge when he does his thing that makes it VERY obvious you have to dodge, then not dodge. Meh. Maybe i'll come back and raid after a big break. Our guild has transitioned over to FF14 currently.

Now what was I talking about? Oh yes 6.1.

Garrison updates. A random visitor, a SELFIE camera? Seriously? The target market has totally shifted? How do I even get Arakkoa rep? And are there even any other factions out there?

Raiding With Leashes 3: My goal is to finish this then probably let my toons go stale until there's an actual reason to log in.

Actually, that is all! See you in game!
Truny the Bored as Hell

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Getting Ready for 6.0 Something

So I logged in for the first time today, nothing BIG has changed other than the fact some spells got a much needed cleanup as well as Warlocks losing their mobility????  Y U DO DIS?

The new Kiljaeden's Cunning makes us THINK and break down all our fights into 8 second intervals:

A. Which 8 seconds, and where do we need to move?
B. When can I pop this for a moving Chaos Bolt?

This shall be interesting.

Hunters got shafted, we lost serpent's sting! I've been using this spell as my default pulling spell for SEVEN YEARS? Oh well I'll adapt.

Druids: Wild Growth has a cast time..AGAIN? Make up your minds! You know what I don't even care as long as I still get to fock around in tree form!

Anyone going to Blizzcon and want to be best friends? Let me know before the event starts!

Truny the Nerfed But Not Really