Launches and Lurching

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Initially I had planned last night on poking my head in on various characters within Azeroth but like many I was greeted with a lot of this screen when I first got home.  It seemed like a combination of a couple of things… first being that there were apparently some rather nasty DDoS attacks going on with the hosting providers… and secondly this was a major patch in WoW.  I mean I’ve been going through this cycle since 2004 and this is far from the first time a major patch rendered the game unplayable for one reason or another.  Just the simple onslaught of a bunch of players coming back to do like I was planning is enough to take down servers.  I have no idea when it was fixed and when the servers came back up…  because I did what I have learned I need to do to keep from getting ragey…  I moved on to playing something else.

Though that said I heard that the community was particularly toxic to the BlizzardCS account last night.  There were apparently people calling for the firing of employees and all of that nonsense…  while those of us who have been through far worse launches sit back and eat our popcorn.  I think the reality is that Blizzard has spoiled us of late with a string of relatively smooth major patch cycles.  So as a result when folks see what I would consider a normal MMO patch rollout…  they lose their shit.  There have been times when I too was losing my shit… particularly during the relaunch of A Realm Reborn when you had to effectively stay logged in if you hoped to play the game at all.  In this scenario however I happily wandered off to play Elder Scrolls Online after a few rounds of attempts.

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So I have been working my way through the ESO content as it was originally released and after finishing Orsinium… that lead me down the path of the Thieve’s Guild.  Now I had accidentally already done the intro quest to this content because I quite legitimately thought it was just another quest in Windhelm.  That is one of the challenges you have coming back this far behind the curve is there are quests everywhere… and a good deal of them are trying to lead you off to start expansions and DLC without ever fully announcing that is their intent.  Sure I probably could have looked it up in the quest journal, but for the most part I find myself not using that at all while playing Elder Scrolls Online.

One of the challenges with Thieves Guild is the fact that it is more or less a stealthy expansion, and I Belghast…  am not a stealthy person.  I am one of those charge into the fight and taunt all the things type person…  and the thought of sneaking around in full plate seems hilarious to me.  That said I have tried my best to embrace this game play style because the content essentially forces you to do so.  Getting detected in a good deal of the missions means that you are going to get swarmed by city guards that you have no way of actually soloing.  Now thankfully it employs the Assassins Creed “instant hiding container” sort of thing, which allows you to evade attention at just the right moment.  Now unfortunately if you already have guard aggro you are going to have to wait a bit until the “heat meter” dies down before popping out and continuing the mission.

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Now it is not like I have never done a thieves guild in the past Elder Scrolls Online games…  in fact to my knowledge I have done them all since Oblivion.  The problem is in those older games there was always a path of “kill all the things” that got you through the quest as opposed to constantly sneaking your butt around.  For the most part however I have managed to do the quests as intended part from a few times when I killed someone instead of just not doing that.  While the gameplay is not my favorite thing in the world, I have to give the game credit for completely hooking me with the storyline.  This is in fact an Elder Scrolls Thieves Guild story…  which quite honestly tend to be some of the better written and more interesting guilds out there.

I am completely hooked on the characters and the story as it is deciphering due to my interactions.  It is part pirates, part heist, part Indiana Jones and a whole of fighting back against an oppressive evil empire…  all of which make for a really interesting sequence.  The way it plays out is interesting as well as there is no one constant thread that you follow but instead a sequence of what seems to be disconnected actions that ultimately weave their way into a main story quest.  I get the impression that I am reaching about the halfway point in the story as there was a major revelation last night, that seems like it will begin the end phase where I start narrowing down and working to righting the great wrong done to the guild.  I am completely hooked…  in spite of needing to creep about unbenefiting a warrior of my stature.

Elves I Don’t Hate

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Yesterday I pulled an example from World of Warcraft and after doing so I realized that I never actually talked about the character that was hiding underneath the fold of the Destiny 2 image.  I am extremely late to the party when it comes to Allied races, the Horde races were super easy to unlock but the Alliance ones required a level of commitment that I was simply not willing to offer them.  They were one of those things that I worked on off and on as I had time or wanted something mindless to do while watching television or a movie.  It was a few weeks back when I realized that I was actually getting pretty close to exalted with both of the factions required to unlock them.  Even then I largely failed at doing the quests on a daily basis because I really am not a huge fan of Argus.

Nevertheless I managed to push across the finish line and unlock them both a few weekends back and as a result I have been poking around on a brand new Void Elf hunter during the AggroChat podcasts.  I’ve found it super relaxing to just roam around and take things down at low levels and for whatever reason Void Elves don’t trigger that “I hate elves” instinct that I have built up over all of these years.  In part I think they mostly register as Drow to me, which is something I occasionally played in D&D or the games like Everquest that had decent implementations of them.  Honestly it weirdly makes me want to go back and farm the single piece of Dragonstalker that I am missing, because in all of my years of running Blackwing Lair…  I never got the boots to drop off Broodlord Lashlayer.  The only thing keeping me from soloing it each week is the fact that I really hate doing the Razorgore event.

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I realize that I recently started a Tauren Hunter, but the whole being assigned a pet at the start of the game thing still seems a little weird.  On the Tauren your start with a Plainstrider which isn’t really my sort of pet, but even then I kept using it for a significant amount of time before taming anything else to replace it.  As Void Elf though you start with Voidstalker… that is both my kind of pet and also extremely cool looking.  I’ve found myself with zero drive to go out and tame something else, but that might change as I am now interesting Stranglethorn Vale.  I might grab something rare if I happen across it but for now I am more than happy to run around with my void pal…  even though I have yet to give her a proper name.

It is weird to me that I have lost any forward momentum in World of Warcraft thanks to Battle For Azeroth and the direction they are taking the game.  However I still enjoy dinking around on low level characters because to me that is the purest version of the “WoW Experience”.  BfA really has been a let down as far as the information coming out about it.  Additionally my time playing beta…  hasn’t really done anything to hook me on the direction the game is going.  For years I thought that maybe Metzen was what was holding the game back…  but now I wonder if he was a force of stability keeping the game from dropping off a cliff.  Note I loved Legion “for the most part” but the one bit that I could push right into the sea was the factional nonsense that happens in Stormheim.  Battle For Azeroth feels like an entire game made out of those factional nonsense moments and I am not really looking forward to it.

Unintended Night

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What I was supposed to be playing last night is World of Warcraft as Wednesday is our normal mythical nonsense night.  Unfortunately we were down two people already and I myself wasn’t really in the mood to do it either.  I’ve been dealing with some stuff and yesterday was a bit of a bad mental health day.  When those situations happen I tend to turtle up somewhere quiet and hang out by myself until whatever it is has passed.  World of Warcraft is such an inherently social game that even the act of logging in ends up prompting a bunch of people to poke me and say hello…  and it feels bad to ignore them when I need to ignore them.

Sure there is now “Appear Offline” mode but even then that is not a perfect scenario.  For me at least there are a handful of people that I am generally okay with interacting with, because they know the drill.  They understand deeply because they go through their own periods of turtle time, and as a result there is no need to attempt to keep up appearances as it were.  However if you are in Offline mode and you reach out to one of those people who are on the closest rings of your monkeysphere…  they cannot respond.  You will be able to send them messages all day long but they will always get the offline message when attempting to respond back to you.  As a result when I am feeling like this I just avoid WoW like the plague because it isn’t worth the hassle.

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What I wanted to be doing was to sit on the couch and play some Everquest while watching some more Mighty Boosh streamed through the television.  Unfortunately they seem to have had a rather traumatic maintenance yesterday.  The servers went down at 5:00 am EDT on the 18th and did not come back apparently until 2:30 am EDT on the 19th.  I have no clue at all what was going on…  but I kept trying to fire up the launcher and getting the maintenance message.  I have been enjoying myself a shocking amount in Everquest, but I realize that I am riding the drug that is nostalgia.  I am not sure how long that drug will last but for the moment I am riding its high.

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What I did instead was play a lot of MTG Arena as I got it set up on my laptop.  Yesterday Scopique wrote an interesting response to my post about Arena…  or at least one that mentioned it because it wasn’t exactly a direct response.  The funny thing is I wouldn’t necessarily call myself much of a competitive gamer.  I traditionally shy away from player versus player situations, but games like MTG Arena or the Crucible in Destiny don’t seem to bother me that much and I am not entirely certain why.  I stumbled across a post from Tobold who very much did not enjoy his time with Arena, but for the moment I don’t mind at all that it is largely just a stripped down 1v1 client.  I think ultimately if you are going into Arena expecting Duels of the Planeswalkers or MTG Duels either one… you are going to be sorely disappointed.

Arena is simply a Magic the Gathering Online that isn’t horrible.  Sure MTGO is serviceable but nothing about it is really intuitive and it feels like you are jumping through a lot of hoops to make anything work.  MTGO was absolutely less cludgy than the days of trying to arrange a game on IRC and then getting both parties to fire up and connect to each other through the Apprentice application.  However card gaming on a PC has changed drastically since then and Hearthstone more or less has led that charge.  Arena is that Hearthstone-esc interface for the far more seasons and complicated game of Magic the Gathering, and the thing is… it works amazingly well.

There have been a few times I have been bit by the game trying to move forward without me…  but in the grand scheme of things it seems to do 99.9% of the right things at the right time.  The other moments don’t bother me too much because I am not placing a lot of my personal ego into whether or not I am winning.  I am simply enjoying playing cards and occasionally I do really well.  I do feel like Tobold’s comment of not feeling like he could be competitive with the decks presented was a bit nonsense given that I have been entirely playing the stock Golgari Exploration deck.  I felt like I was able to pick it up and start winning matches almost immediately…  and sure as my rank has risen I am winning less matches but even that doesn’t bother me much.  I am still winning more than enough to complete daily quests getting me packs and gold…  to buy more packs.  All in all I feel like Arena is going to shape up to be a very solid version of Magic the Gathering Online…  but we need to stop the comparisons there for our own sanity.

Nonsense Managed

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Last night was the first occurrence of our mythical nonsense group and it almost didn’t happen.  We had planned on running from 7 pm to 9 pm Central time…  so that it wasn’t too ungodly late for our East Coast contingency.  However the entire thing almost failed to happen.  At go time we had two of our players that were unable to get in due to some bug that seemed to be only effecting certain servers.  Grace and I were both logging in characters from Eonar and Byx on Chromaggus also managed to get in just fine.  However Maryalee on Wyrmrest Accord and Nayukhuut on Moonguard both were encountering the issue shown in the above screenshot with their server showing us as “Incompatible”.

The funny thing is that when this first started happening I was able to log into my characters on those servers just fine.  However after closing WoW and relaunching…  the Battle.net patcher updated the game and then suddenly I also got the issue.  Since Blizzard CS said they were working on it… we decided to push ahead and attempt a Mythic 0 with three players.  We originally were planning on doing Maw of the Souls…  which I keep wanting to call Maw of the Damned because Death Knight weapon.  I swapped over to Blood Tanking spec and we gave it an attempt that honestly went pretty smoothly especially considering I have not actually tanked a dungeon this expansion as Death Knight.

About halfway through our Maw run the other two players managed to get into the game and after we finished up the run we had some options on how to proceed with our madness.  We sat down and assessed the keys we had available to us…

  • Mythic 2 – Seat of the Triumvirate
  • Mythic 2 – Cathedral of Eternal Night
  • Mythic 2 – Blackrook Hold

Quite honestly I am not that familiar with Cathedral having only run it a few times…  and I am not sure if I have ever run Seat of the Triumvirate at all.  While Blackrook Hold is not exactly my favorite dungeon it seemed like the more realistic choice and quite honestly the easier one.  However that also set us down the path of only getting one of the keys upgraded each time.  We pushed forward and knocked out the Dungeon in completely reasonable time.

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My key upgraded to Mythic 5 Upper Karazhan…  which made me immediately think…  “why the fuck is this a mythic dungeon?”.  However we managed to largely steamroll the entire dungeon other than the final boss who is just an asshole.  Thankfully in spite of my death we moved forward and the remaining folks managed to get the kill moving us forward again.  I remember Karazhan being a boar to get through when we were trying to run it to get to the bonus boss…  but now it seems like it is probably a completely reasonable thing to do in a timely manner.  I think the fact that everyone has Concordance now…  pushes up the gear levels to the point where you can just take a lot of abuse making all of the mechanics easier.

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The next key target was Mythic 7 Neltharion’s Lair… which generally speaking is a fairly easy dungeon to run.  The problem we encountered however is the pair of affixes we were dealing with… and the fact that we are all used to trying to skip content in the dungeon…  meant we struggled quite a bit.  Firstly we had the Teeming Affix meaning that several of the packs are larger…  which in this dungeon means a pack of three mobs normally sometimes becomes a pack of six mobs.  This also screws with the aggro radius of packs and things we used to be able to sneak around we had to on directly.  Secondly we had the Quake Affix meaning that every so often every member of the party was dealt a radius of quake damage…  which if stacked means you take damage from everyone.

Considering we had a party with three melee characters and a fourth in the form of our healer that occasionally would go hit things…  Quake damage became a problem.  We almost made the timer…  like had everything gone perfectly on the final fight we would have.  However we wound up being about a minute short after the run back from a death on the final boss.  I am not sure if this means we will all start with Mythic 6 keys next week or if the fact that we completed a Mythic 7 dungeon means we start there.  Whatever the case we should have five new options for next Wednesday night to keep moving forward.  We are entering the territory where we can no longer faceroll the mythics so we will have to start getting some strategy on…  and maybe flasking.

Whatever the case I had a heck of a lot of fun running around with this team and look forward to next week.  Having been out of the mythic game for so long… we made way more progress than I originally thought we would in a single night so I am super happy about that.

Mythical Nonsense Tonight

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I don’t have a whole hell of a lot to talk about this morning, but in theory mythical nonsense begins tonight.  We’ve gathered up a group of players who are willing to join in this madness and set our sights on getting our first key through the easiest and coolest of the mythics…  Maw of the Damned.  From there we will shift around and try and determine what our next target is based on the keys that we get.  In theory we are going to run until 10 pm central or wherever there is a breaking off point somewhere close to that.  The idea being that we run for a few hours and see how many we can knock out…  and keep upgrading keys until we get to at least Mythic +15 so that we can walk away with shiny artifact appearances or something like that.  I have no clue how far we will get tonight, and I have no clue how long this journey is actually going to take…  however we have a list of adventurers ready to go.

In theory I need to try and get an Argus kill in tonight before go time since I failed miserably at playing WoW last night.  With the teacher strike going on the evenings have been weird for lack of a better term.  I didn’t want to get into anything serious until my wife got home… and yes while LFR is LFR…  the Argus section of that raid is a serious time commitment at the least.  Then after my wife got home we largely talked about the nonsense the State Legislators did during the day…  like shutting off the water to give themselves an excuse to go home early for the day and avoid the teachers.  My hope is tonight I can pop in for a bit, get an Argus kill so I can walk into Mythical Nonsense ™ with a second legendary and slightly higher item level.

I would totally stream this…  but a few of the folks I am running with have already objected to that notion when someone brought it up on twitter.  So I will just have to report in on our progress tomorrow.  It should be a lot of fun, especially since two of the people I will be running with… I have never run with before.  Byx and Grace however…  have gone through many iterations of my nonsense over the years so they are largely immune to it.  So I will ultimately have to break Maryalee and Nayakhuut into the fact that I have no clue what I am doing 99.9% of the time and that tanks make the most annoying DPS.  It should be hilarious… or at least entertaining for all.

Nothing Much to Say

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This morning I feel like I don’t have an awful lot to talk about, but still feel obligated to say words and things.  The last few nights have mostly been what I would refer to as maintenance gaming, where I log into something…  do a few repeatable activities and then log right back out.  The majority of this time has been spent in World of Warcraft since I apparently have set forth a goal of unlocking the alliance races which will involve copious amounts of reputation grinding.  At this moment I am about 6500 out of 21000 towards exalted or some close equivalent in both of the necessary factions.  At the suggestion of my friend Grace I have started hoarding faction tokens for the Darkmoon Faire buff, which admittedly is not a thing I have really partaken of in its modern format.

I still find it super annoying that the Alliance route to new races is way harder than the Horde route.  As a “Mostly Alliance” player for most of my wow career I have always felt like Blizzard favored The Horde…  not in the least because of the constant insistence that we should care deeply about Green Jesus.  Weirdly enough however for the last while I have been almost exclusively playing The Horde and the character I am grinding up is my Orc Warrior not my Human one.  There are certain things that just work easier on that side of the pond than the other…  for example jumping the wall from the flightmaster to the Horde area in Dalaran is so much faster than having to fly all the way across the map to the Alliance area.  Having a reasonable foothold on both continents is another nice point…  with ways to get there quickly.  Sure you can still use the Theramore boat as Alliance… but it feels weird to do so.

Grace had this idea of doing a sort of “raiding light” group one night a week that worked on trying to get the Mythic+ number as high as we could.  So far however that is struggling to get off the ground given in our most immediate aggrochat crew we represent the only viable folks for this mission.  I am heavily favoring Horde side since my Warrior there is 927 but most of the connections I would have to pull in people for nonsense are Alliance side.  Over the coming days I might start reaching out to individuals that play horde side to see if they would be interested in shenanigans but for the moment the idea has taken root but not seen much progress.

As evidenced by the screenshot I used for this post I fired up Destiny last night and played around in it for a bit.  The changes have made a lot of the weapons feel odd so in theory I will need to test everything out again to see what I do and do not like now.  The fast rate of fire valkydyn that I am pictured holding above no longer feels that great.  The general movement speed however does and it feels like Titan Skating is back to being a fairly viable thing once more.  I am not sure if this is “just me” but I swear the grenade recharge rate was lowered once again, either that or I am still struggling to adjust to how generally slow that is.  Even with double charges it was rare that it would actually be up when I wanted to use it while roaming around Mercury and doing events.

I miss Destiny 2, and more importantly I miss wanting to play it.  I am not sure why I bounced so hard with the release of Curse of Osiris, and why I never actually managed to get any of the other classes in my stable through the story.  Ultimately I was expecting something along the scope of The Taken King, and then was disappointed that we got something the scope of Dark Below instead.  Additionally there just isn’t a grind I want to be doing there, because the weapons at least prior to yesterdays patch all sorta felt the same.  Maybe now with the sandbox update there will be some reason to grind content to attempt to get masterworks for the things I want to be playing with.

The other side note is that I have started attempting to play some Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate over lunch, but quickly realized that if I want to do this thing I will need to leave the floor.  We have a gaming area set up for folks to mostly play the WiiU that is hooked up there, but it does offer a bunch of really comfy chairs.  Over lunch yesterday I attempted to camp out in one and do a few hunts, and within minutes had someone do a drive by and start up a conversation about some project we were working on.  Basically now that I am 100% in the management world I cannot bump into someone without a conversation about something we need to deal with happening.  Ultimately I like the concept of playing a little 3DS or Switch over lunch, but I need to find a hidey hole to go do this thing in.

 

Bad Grind Good Grind

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I am still reeling a bit from a dream I had over night.  I guess in theory you could call it a nightmare, where I ended up leaving my current job and ending back under the yoke of the one boss in my work history that I hated working for.  I’ve always been one of those people who tended to naturally get along with bosses.  Pending they are coming from a place of logic, I get why they want the things they want…  and especially now as a “boss” myself I get how orders that seem disconnected from reality end up having to be passed down.  This boss however was petty and vindictive and gave me nothing but a constant stream of conflicting information.  If I did what I thought was right…  he would rail on me for not doing it however the hell he wanted me to do it.  If I stopped and asked for directions in how he wanted me to do a thing…  he would rail on me for not taking initiative.  In the end it was two and a half years of the lowest point in my career that did some serious damage to my psyche that I am apparently still sorting out.

On the gaming front however I have been playing quite a bit of World of Warcraft, mostly because I want to unlock the two Allied races that I have yet to.  Let me take a moment to talk about how much bullshit the way these races are unlocked is.  Primarily that it is grossly unfair that two races for a single faction are unlocked by doing content that has been in game more or less since the launch of Legion, and the other two gated behind the newest content and honestly the most frustrating to do.  So I have the two horde races of the High Mountain Tauren and the Nightfallen unlocked and a monk and rogue create respectively.  Now I am working on the frustrating rep grind that is roaming around Argus and doing daily quests barely watching the needle climb at all.

Argus just feels bad and was only slightly improved when I got the reputation to unlock the improved flight whistle.  Why in the hell this was not a default thing makes zero sense to me.  I get that they rushed this content out the door and did a lot of visual tricks that are easily dispelled the second you lift off the ground.  However the constant tug of war of achieving flying only to have it arbitrarily taken away from you is maddening.  We experienced this with Pandaria and then suddenly losing the ability to fly on the Timeless Isle and Isle of Giants and in both cases it felt horrible.  Having a speed bump in the form of Argus still feels horrible…  but I am gritting my teeth and dealing with it for the sake of racial unlocks.  As to why this suddenly matters to me now?  I have no clue… it could have been simply spurred on by having access to the races in Alpha.

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The other game I have been playing a significant amount of lately is Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate on my new pokeball edition 2DS XL.  Unfortunately the shut down of MiiVerse and the lack of having any sort of a native screenshot functionality will keep me from actually capturing any shots of my gameplay.  However this has sorta become my evening retreat as I chill out doing some monster hunter from bed before finally heading to sleep.  I find having some sort of a wind down activity helps a lot and at least thus far this fits the bill nicely.  I do however have a USB to 3DS charging cable at work so I might start taking this with me and playing a little over lunch now that I am getting into some of the more exciting activities.

I’ve not made it terribly far but at this point I have taken down two monsters:  Velicidrome and Seltas…  both of which I need several more parts from.  I have the mission to hunt the Great Jaggi so I am likely to attempt that next because I need a single hide to upgrade my current sword and shield.  Not sure why I have not broken out my beloved Longsword yet, but for the moment I opted to stick to the starter weapon.  In truth in Monster Hunter World, the Sword and Shield is probably my second favorite of the weapons so I am in part using MH4U as a way to get more familiar with its quirks.

How quickly I have taken to this game in the relatively short amount of time I have been playing it…  tells me that Monster Hunter World is not necessarily a fluke for me.  Sure it was this amazing gateway into a very complex game…  but the core mechanics are ultimately the thing that is keeping me there.  I’ve had similar experiences with Generations, but I feel like 4U does a much better job of easing you into the game and giving you some semblance of a story to care about.  At some point I fully expect to return to Generations and push a little further given that I have yet to actually get to a single real monster there.

 

Fast Boat

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One of the interesting things that has happened over the last few days is that I apparently got invited to the Battle for Azeroth expansion alpha.  I happened to notice this Tuesday night when I opened my battle.net launcher and found the World of Warcraft tab was trying to patch something.  Sure enough upon further inspection I did appear to have access to the alpha client in my version selector drop down.  I also noticed from social media that a few other people seemed to be indicating the same, so I am guessing there was a whole new wave of folks entering the testing.  The thing about alpha testing that is legitimately an alpha…  is it is as much a burden as it is a privilege.  Yes you have access to something that most people don’t and that in some ways is inherently cool…  but also it becomes your responsibility to go out into the unfinished world and help stop bugs that you will encounter.

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First off let me get this out of the way…  Battle For Azeroth Alpha is in fact an alpha in functionality and in name.  I’ve been in so many different versions of Alpha programs over the years and even in Blizzard terms occasionally those Friends and Family Alphas feel “almost finished”.  This time around BfA feels very much a work in progress and with significant functionality either missing or not entirely working.  For example I spent the beginning of my evening testing an area of the game where quest tracking was not functional at all, and I sorta had to wing it given that I could not really see what was required to finish any of the quests.  One of the more interesting things of note is that the Kul Tirran side of the house appears to have a flight path system that is in truth a series of extremely high speed boats, example is the one I am on above.

After spending some time bug noting Alliance side I rolled a Horde character and the Zandalari areas seem to be a bit more finished.  Those areas had a proper quest flow with tracking working and advisement of where I should be going for the next quest.  In truth that probably means that I should not be spending too much time in Kul Tiras until they have had a bit more time to flesh it out.  I did however report a ton of instances where things were clipping oddly, or in one case where my camera was being pushed up through a when I stood in a certain spot.  I guess that is part of the responsibility side of Alpha testing, that you need to vary your feedback based on what phase in the zone development they are in.

Sure I bug noted the fact that quest tracking was not working…  but after doing that it seemed nonsense to keep reporting it each time I turned in a quest in that area of the game.  Instead I started working on reporting the base pop and terrain anomalies, since they are likely the parts that are being worked on at that very moment.  Ultimately my goal is to spend a little bit of time each night working on testing content, because I feel like since I have eyes on the game…  I should be helping to make it better for launch.

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The gaming for fun side of the evening was spent over in Monster Hunter World which received a patch.  I did not actually defeat a Deviljho last night, but I saw several of them as they interrupted my other hunts.  It is in fact as nonsense as everyone seemed to make it out to be and I am hoping that maybe tonight I can devote some time to actually purposefully hunting one or two of them to get used to how those fights go.  The focus of my evening last night however was finally getting Thalen through Nergigante.  It has been a goal to make sure that everyone gets off high center with this fight in part because it seemed to take me so long to do that myself.  Everyone was more than willing to lend a hand in my hour of need so I feel like it is only right to keep paying that forward.

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Additionally I like the fact that I now feel pretty comfortable with this encounter and could always use more monster bits.  While waiting around for Thalen to finish up a hunt we started talking about our stats…  at which point I joked that I changed my guild card title to Pure Long Sword at some point.  I really have in fact been focused on only this one weapon for awhile as you can see by the fact I have done 253 hunts with Long Sword and the closest second is hammer with 7.  Both Tam and Ashgar have way more spread graphs when it comes to weapons, and in truth I probably should as well.  I should make a point of trying every weapon and seeing if there are hidden gems out there that I might ultimately like.  My biggest problem has been that I just didn’t want to take resources away from my current longsword crafting projects to create other weapons.

World Scaling Thoughts

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Firstly since I was absent in making a blog post yesterday I feel like I need to address said lapse.  I’m dealing with this horrible strain of the flu that has been going around.  I was in fact one of those people who had the flu shot early in the season as soon as my work offered it, and still managed to catch it.  Last week I went to the doctor and they misdiagnosed me with a bad sinus infection.  As the week carried forward and I was not getting any better I went back to the doctor and this time around they thought to swab me for influenza.  I feel horrible because I probably infected a bunch of people during that weeks time considering people are dropping at my work like flies.  The biggest challenge of this batch seems to be thinking…  as in stringing together a sequence of thoughts into something that makes sense.  I tried it yesterday and failed…  primarily because the topic I want to post about involves a little finesse.  However here I go attempting to make a post work in between the coughing spells.

On Tuesday January 15th the World of Warcraft was once again forever changed with the introduction of patch 7.3.5 and World Scaling.  You have to understand I have been thought a lot of emotional tinges about this sequence of events and it really has taken me this long to be able to sit down and formulate my thoughts.  Now this is something that I had been wishing would arrive in World of Warcraft for so many years before there are lots of games out there that do it really well.  Prior to the patch I had been furiously leveling a Tauren Hunter and upon logging in I had the immediate guttural reaction of “Gah! This Feels Horrible! LOGOUT!!!”.  The longer I have lived with these changes the more nuanced my opinion has become, and today I am going to try and weave it all together into something that makes sense.  Firstly lets talk about what leveling has been like for the last few expansions in the heirloom economy.  Putting on a full set of heirloom items turned you into a god and you could pretty much roll though content with impunity.  With zero hyperbole…  on my beast mastery hunter I could pretty much oneshot every single mob in the game while doing level equivalent content.  This had a bunch of positives and a bunch of negatives…  the negative being you weren’t actually doing any of the content legitimately.  The positive is it allowed you to tackle all of those boss level encounters and made up for the fact that the zones you were leveling in were effective ghost towns and you might never actually see another player.

The other side effect is that you could level exceedingly fast because of the sheer volume of things you could kill in your wake.  You could pull big and pull sloppy and shake it off knowing there was virtually nothing the mobs could do to you that would actually kill you.  This meant that on a really good night I might be able to do twenty levels of content, and on average something along the lines of ten to fifteen.  It was not unusual for me to do literally all of outland in a weekend afternoon buzzing from 58 to 68 in a single sitting.  The changes have firmly closed this era of the game.  Speed leveling is probably still possible but the definition of fast has changed considerably.  In the nights after the patch I have played with many variables but for the most part it is a really good evening if I see two dings.  In addition to the lack of speed is the constant fear of death as even wearing a full set of heirloom gear I feel just as weak as if I were wearing greens.  I am constantly in peril of pulling too much or the wrong combination of mobs at the same time and maybe not being able to live through the damage.  Previously food and bandages had no value at all because you simply did not need them… but I find myself utilizing both again.  The big boss encounters however are the problem because once again… there is no native population of players leveling through these zones anymore.  There is no one in zone shouting that they need help cleansing ursoc for example…  an encounter that is still mostly unsoloable for anyone but a tank with some sort of health regeneration of their own.  The island full of all of the boss encounters in Grizzly Hills…  I couldn’t even get through one of the mini-bosses let alone the final encounter that requires burning down the boss while also managing large waves of adds.  Essentially if a quest rewards a blue item… it is probably off the menu for solo players to ever attempt because due to world scaling there will never be a time when it is far enough beneath your level to comfortably solo.

So do I mourn the old fast and silly leveling with heirlooms?  Admittedly a little bit.  Because it was fun to feel that powerful and get through the  content that quickly.  However I also realize it was a bit much and lead to all sorts of problems like being unable to kill something slow enough to complete any of those “use item while weakened” type quests.  Level scaling in truth is good for the health of the game because it means everyone will be actually doing the content in the game rather than buzzing past all of it.  Essentially everyone will be leveling every alt now like they were leveling their first.  I am sure Heirlooms do speed things up still, but it isn’t nearly as noticeable as before.  The problem I see however is that in the new economy… the survival capabilities of various classes are likely going to need to be tweaked.  I’ve been playing a bit as Survival Hunter…  and there are just certain encounters that I cannot handle by myself.  I take too much damage and cannot chew my way through the hitpoints before they chew through mine.  Survival is a fairly sturdy class, so that tells me lots of other classes are going to have pure hell in this new world order.  I am not sure what sliders they have to tweak how the content feels, but this first pass feels like it lands a bit to much on the side of unforgiving brutality at times.  There have been several times I have had to log out and walk away from leveling…  because it was annoying me too much.  Leveling alts was always my moment of zen and my happy place…  and now it is stressful.  Again a lot of the problems are with the fact that while the world is scaling I am still utterly alone in all of these zones with no help to be had from another player happening across my path and maybe seeing I am in trouble.  The general world sorta feels the way that Argus feels at times when you are a little undergeared….  and maybe that is the problem.  Heirlooms previously were supposed to scale like you were wearing the best blues you would wear at a given level.  There should never be a time when you feel undergeared for the content…  but unfortunately that is mostly how I have felt every moment after the patch.

Essentially it is an adjustment period, and I will have to get used to feeling weak again.  I think in the grand scheme of things this is probably a good step for the long term health of the game.  I just have to learn that I can’t fly nearly as close to the sun as I used to.

On The Mend

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I am mostly among the living.  Yesterday was a federal holiday here in the United States and with me being off work… it also mean’t that I largely treated it as part of the weekend for blogging purposes.  I am still fighting the same crud that I had last week, but it feels like at some point on Monday I turned the corner.  While I still have the vestiges of whatever bronchial mess has inflicted me, I am starting to feel better and less like an appendage of the couch and or bed depending upon the time table.  it truly was a miserable weekend and while I attempted to game I was not terribly successful at anything until yesterday.  I spent most of the break working on the Tauren Hunter who has now finished the Outland and is knee deep in Northrend just starting the Grizzly Hills area.  My hope is that when I ding 74 the bear spirit beast will be up and I can collect it for my pet.  Up until this point I am mostly running a Fel Corehound that I got from the Blasted Lands.  I took the Beast Mastery talent that allows your pets to shadow step… so it is entertaining watching him leap up on targets rapidly.  At this point however I can kill most mobs well before my beast even has time to interact with it…  which is the life of running full heirlooms.

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Sunday I indulged a really weird whim and decided to reinstall the Arc client and give Neverwinter a spin.  I’m on the PR feed still from Perfect Worlds and they are constantly putting out press releases about content releases to this game.  It got me wondering what the current state of matters is when I have literally not heard anyone talk about it in almost two years.  It turns out the game is in pretty great shape as far as actually logging in and playing it.  As far as doing its best to feel insidious from a loot box standpoint…  it is also working on winning some awards.  I don’t remember much about the game if I am being very serious, but you know that thing that we chastised Call of Duty WW2 for doing at the beginning of the year?  Where if you get a drop the game announces to the rest of the world what you just got?  That apparently happens in Neverwinter as most of my time spent in the central hub area was a constant stream of people getting loot drop rewards.  In the very short time I played yesterday I got somewhere around 25 loot crate drops from random stuff while doing quests.  Each one of these crates would require a key which runs roughly $1.25 each without any of the “buying in bulk” discounts applied.  Through the quests I wound up getting three free keys to open three sample crates and if the ones that drop in the wild are at all similar to what they gave us as “examples” for why we should buy into this system…  they were full of utter garbage.  If you can however do what I started doing and just vendoring the damn crates for a few copper each time you saw one drop…  and loot past the money grubbing nature of the game…  the core feedback loop is actually rather enjoyable.  I think when I logged in last night I was around 16 left over from my initial push around launch and I believe I logged out for the evening around 25/26ish.  During all of that time I enjoyed the core game quite a bit so long as I completely ignored the multiple currency cash shop nonsense.  If you can do the same then you too will probably enjoy yourself.

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Last completely random thing I did last night…  is patch up and log into Elder Scrolls Online.  This game is in fact the same as I remember it and still rather enjoyable.  The biggest problem I will have is trying to sort out exactly what I was doing when I was last playing.  I am still being insanely stubborn and wanting to finish all of the original three story arcs before doing any of the newer content.  As a result I believe I am somewhere in the middle of Malabal Tor during my Aldmerri Dominion play through.  From there I will at some point venture forth into Ebonheart where maybe just maybe I can play long enough to see the character that was inspired by me and some of the folks we play with.  I think the fact that I jumped around so much last night… but still managed to get a bunch of play in with each jump…  is probably proof that I am on the mend.  In truth a good chunk of this weekend was spend with me just staring blankly at things without really doing a lot of interaction.  There were several times that I would start up a YouTube video that would then cycle through a whole bunch of things before I even realized I was still watching something.  Now however I need to go warm up the car and prep myself to venture forth into the frozen tundra (for Oklahoma at least).  Tonight will likely either be more Neverwinter or ESO because I had a lot of fun playing both.