World Scaling Thoughts



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



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.


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.


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.


Bad Concierge


Yesterday I failed miserably at making any sort of a post.  In truth by the time I had realized I had not logged in and created a blog post it was mid afternoon…  and figured I might as well just call it a day off.  First off this morning I feel like I probably need to update considering my Monday post.  I saw a Doctor Monday afternoon but good or bad the pain had subsided by that point.  The pain in whole lasted roughly 3 1/2 to 4 hours and without it being “acute” the only way they really had to diagnose things was some scans.  Their advice to me is that if the pain comes back at all…  go to the Emergency Room immediately.  Based on my description they thought it might have been either a kidney stone or my appendix…  since I still have one of those so in both cases something dangerous if I allow it to go unchecked.  While I was there however they also told me I had a pretty significant sinus infection and prescribed a round of antibiotics to help clear that up.  I had been coughing up a storm the last few weeks and apparently I actually had an infection to back that up.  The doctor suggested that I not return to work until Wednesday, to keep down the odds of me infecting someone else…  which I guess makes sense given this is a sort of work based free clinic thing that I went to.  So for the bulk of yesterday I chilled out while something cooked in the crockpot and piddled around in World of Warcraft while consuming Netflix/Amazon shows.


One of my favorite things about ElvUi is the AFK screen thing.  Not sure why it makes me happy to see it pop up and I have a directory littered with screenshots of my character sitting down while dancing on the side.  At this point I am level 52 on my newish Tauren Hunter and spending time in the greater Gadgetzan area.  In truth last night before logging for the evening I got the precursor quest to take me to Ungoro crater, so I will likely be heading there shortly.  Being fully decked out in Heirlooms makes the leveling experience really odd given that things rarely last long enough for my pet to even reach the target, let alone need any form of “tanking”.  This means that I am largely running a pet for the flavor of it rather than for the functionality.  Traditionally when I need a pet to be a barrier between me and the target I tend to favor bears…  however for the moment I am running around with a golden brown Owl I picked up somewhere in Feralas that I named Bubo.  The hunter is ridiculously relaxing which has been exactly the sort of thing I have been looking for lately.  One of the things I enjoy about hanging out in Facepull on the Horde side is that I can be a fly on the wall mostly, that interacts every so often but also has the room to simply not interact at all if the spirit doesn’t move me to communication.


I ended up going off on a twitter tear yesterday talking about guild leadership and being the person in the background that makes sure things are happening.  When I first started leading guilds…  I was very young and lacked any sort of responsibility apart from just showing up at work and making sure I was getting my tasks accomplished.  In fact when House Stalwart hit its stride about a year into the release of the game…  I was in quite possibly the worst job I have ever been in.  I had a horrible boss and felt like I had no control over my work environment, and as a result having a smooth running community to come home to and spend my evenings with was almost refreshing.  During this time my home life was in a bit of a disarray due to the large number of deaths that were occurring in the family, and Stalwart wound up being my stability that I so desperately needed.  As we entered Wrath of the Lich King I changed jobs and wound up in a much better place where I had a support structure and actually started taking on more responsibilities.  As such I found myself starting to back away from the same sort of things that I did during Vanilla and Burning Crusade and begin placing myself in more of a distant advisory role.  By the time Cataclysm launched I had moved up to being a Team Lead, and was responsible with juggling planning and task assignment, and similarly I found myself completely checking out of the guild leadership role and even going so far as to quit World of Warcraft when Rift released.  During that time I have shifted from Team Lead, to assumed supervisor, to actual supervisor… to now interim manager of three groups.  While I have kept trying to be the social glue for guilds…  by the time I get home I just have no social capital left to make things happen.

The truth is that every guild you have ever been in that felt active…  had one or more people behind the scenes making sure that things were going smoothly.  I used to have a motto among our officers that I wanted our actions felt but not necessarily seen, and so long as I had the focus it worked smoothly.  From Cataclysm on Stalwart has changed hands numerous times and as a result has kept going forward without me.  While now it takes a more raiding focus, it is still functional and still doing things.  However if you take away the people who are actively moving the ball forward… you end up with 30 people sitting in guild chat and nothing happening.  That has been the problem with so many of these guilds that I have formed as new games come out..  I don’t have the drive to be the cruise director anymore…  and while I gather up the people I don’t have the strength to actually do things with other people.  This was extremely noticed in the recent foray into Destiny 2 where I spent 99.9% of my time soloing, all the while people around me were trying to make things happen.  Guilds work when they have a concierge making sure needs are being met and I just cannot fill that position anymore.  I have transitioned to being one of the players that just wants to log in and have a good evening escaping whatever stresses piled up during the day.  The key difference for me at least is that I do most of this through solo play and am completely happy to piddle along with alts.  There are times that I miss big group activities…  like I wish we had beat Calus in Destiny 2, or I wish we had made a bigger push into Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood.  Then I sit back and think about the frustrations of having to remember to log in on time with all of the materials needed for raiding on a specific night of the week… and I question if I could ever go back to that.  So yes…  I play tons of MMOs as single player games and am mostly okay with that, and yes I realize I am doing it wrong.  I do like knowing people are out there in spite of me not being capable of actually interacting some evenings, so I will always seek out potential communities because someday…  maybe…  I might shift back out of whatever turtle mode I have been in for the last year.

Double Agent



I’ve reached this sorta happy place with World of Warcraft where I find myself alternating back and forth between it and Destiny 2 for how I spend most of my evenings.  Over the last month or so I had spent most of my pushing up my Orc Warrioress, and have now reached the point where I can no longer easily push her power level up by just doing World Quests.  As a result this caused a bit of an identity crisis over the Christmas break and lead me to pick another of my various horde characters to start working on.  Having not actually pushed up a Demon Hunter… and Legion being the expansion all about Illidari…  I figured it was high time to actually do this thing.  I started out leveling as Havoc like I had before on the Alliance side but promptly swapped over to Vengeance when I started missing tank survival.  It turns out that I really like Vengeance as a spec and you get to do a bunch of fun things…  sadly at the cost of your charge around the map ability.  The way shorter cooldown version of Heroic Leap in the form of Infernal Strike however makes up for the lack of the less predictable movement ability.  If nothing else the build allows me to do most of the World Questing with impunity and at some point I will actually try some dungeon tanking.


For the moment however when it comes to LFR, Heroics or Timewalking…  I have been swapping back to Havoc and just noobing it up.  This is the point where I have to step back from some of the commentary I made while leveling the warrior.  I was shocked and amazed at how chill the horde side of the house had been during my experiences…  but once I donned the mantle of the demon hunter…  and potentially as a side effect of the long holiday break…  all of the asshats seemed to come out of the woodwork.  Monday night I chain ran my five timewalking dungeons in a row… and all of the cool demeanor that I had originally attributed to the horde side melted away.  It became a night of gripes and wipes as I limped through my five instances and then walked away praising some dark god that my sanity was still intact.  I am still not entirely certain why my recent change in religion of sorts and swap to the horde, but I would have to think a lot of it has to do with simply wanting to hang out with my friends in Facepull.  As a result it has been this super chill place to hang out and have occasional comments about the game and life in general.  On a day by day basis I am feeling way less of a double agent and more leaning towards the Horde.  For years I never could seem to get into characters on that side of the fence and the only reason why I had a max level character during Warlords was because I boosted, this time around however I have the same number of Alliance characters as I do Horde and I am already plotting the next thing to level.  Side note…  Blood Elf demon hunters look way cooler than the damned floppy eared Night Elf equivalent.

Clipped Wings


Last night I had every intent of coming home and playing some Destiny 2…  but instead I logged into World of Warcraft to “check what gear was up on world quests” and never really logged back out.  I’m still very much stuck in “must complete the emissary caches” mode and as a result I had one in Argus for the Argussian Reach faction that I lacked enough quests to complete.  As a result I started unlocking more of the planet until I finally got enough to finish it out.  This however was super time consuming because doing anything on Argus feels needlessly tedious due to the packed base pop and terrain that goes out of its way to keep you from going from point a to b.  For my troubles I got a big fat nothing… or in truth a little bit of gold that feels insanely lackluster given the amount of effort I went through to be able to complete it.  So the real question I ask to you more seasoned players that did not take a massive break after Nighthold…  did they just fucking nerf emissary caches into the ground?  In the past these used to be a significant source of gear upgrades, and also used to drop legendaries like candy.  At this point I have no legendaries and have not seen a single piece of gear from the six caches I have turned in since starting up playing again.  Is this just a bad streak or did they simply remove any reasonable rewards from these things?

I’ve managed to move the needle a little further forward and am sitting at 884 and I think 15 concordance on my two primary weapons.  I still have Tomb of Sargeras LFR to do this week but in truth it seems like grinding Argus is going to be my best bet for gear level movement.  The only problem there is that I hate Argus and want to nuke the planet from orbit.  I mean in all reality it isn’t that bad but it just feels shitty to return to land mounts again after being able to fly literally everywhere else.  The base pop reminds me of a lot of what it feels like to roam around in a Rift zone where everything is super aggro and ready to reach out and thump you if you get too close.  The main difference is that at least in World of Warcraft it is completely reasonable for me to round up 30 mobs and grind them down….  because I did this thing today out of laziness and not wanting to stop.  The only really works if you can keep healing yourself like the protection warrior can, but nonetheless it is a viable option.  In Rift if I had more than a couple of mobs I would have fallen over, which makes the game feel super tedious to play.  If I apply myself and gobble up every quest I can do on Argus each day… I may be able to purchase a single piece of 910 gear which is a slow way to upgrade but potentially preferable to hoping for lucky double platnium bonus warforged gear from LFR.


Towards the end of the evening while rewatching Force Awakens I did wind up grinding a bit in Destiny 2 and managed to complete the Mercury Flashpoint.  When I turned in with Cayde-6 I managed to get my very first Masterwork item…  and I maybe just almost accidentally called it Warforged.  The positive it is at least an Auto Rifle which is something I will use.  Grace said last night that when she got her first… it was a sidearm…  which is something that no sane and rational person would ever want to use.  I was absolutely certain that the game would give me a sniper rifle or something else that I generally loathe.  Then again if that were the case the decision to shard it and get crafting materials would have been simple…  in this case I have the strong desire to start using it even though Solemn Hymn isn’t exactly one of my favorite weapons.  As far as the perk on mine, it gives a small range boost which is reasonable enough for the moment.  Were it a warforged Better Devils I might work on trying to get the best possible roll, but for now I am okay with a ranged boost.  I have a late night tonight because Star Wars…  but I might be able to hop on when I get home and give it a proper testing.

Grind to a Halt



When we last visited my Orc Warrior on this blog I was just about to start the Warlords content, and this week when I have not been poking my head into Destiny I have spent it pushing forward in World of Warcraft.  It’s honestly been a shock just how fast leveling went until I hit Legion content.  The old world was a confusion slog where I jumped zones each time I saw an exclamation point show up on the adventure guide.  This meant I was constantly jumping zones every few levels and most of that journey was a complete blur.  When I started Outland I did the majority of Hellfire Plateau then jumped over to Terrokar Forest for a little bit before finishing up the grind in Nagrand.  From there I jumped to Northrend and did a good chunk of Borean Tundra before jumping to Grizzly Hills and doing most of it and finally leaping over to Scholazar Basin to finish the run out.  From there we entered the Cataclysm zones and did all of the 80-85 grind in Vashj’ir without actually completely finishing that zone.  Then came Pandaria and I managed to do the entirety of the 85-90 grind without leaving Jade Forest.  From there I went to Draenor where I managed to hit 98 by doing the entirety of Frostfire Ridge and finishing up with just a tiny tiny bit in Spires of Arak.


This is the point where the express elevator has come to a grinding halt and I’ve been confronted with normal speed leveling because all of my heirlooms petered out at 100.  I chose to do Stormheim first largely because it is both my favorite and least favorite zone at the same time.  All of the Norse themed Vrykul bits are awesome, but all of that faction nonsense is not.  It did give me access to another Order Hall champion quickly however so I am down with that.  At this point I have finished both the main story arc of the zone and the faction bullshit arc and am likely to move on to the next area.  There are a lot of things I have noticed… not the least of which is how ridiculously huge this shield is on my female orc warrior.  It is as thought they scaled the shield for the insanely bulky male models and then just called it good enough for the female ones.  The second of which is how much more intricate and slower paced the Legion content is compared to Pandaria or Warlords.  When I leveled through the content it seemed really quick, but what makes things slog a bit in comparison to what came before is how fragmented the quest hubs quickly become.  This might also be an aspect of the map itself feeling so busy with so many world bosses and objectives hidden out there to slow your journey down.  I cannot resist wasting a few minutes to find a chest that is nearby or going after a mini boss, and as a result my leveling pace has gone to hell.


At this point I am contemplating investing in a set of Heirlooms which will set me back quite a bit of gold.  It isn’t as much about leveling quickly, it is more about not outpacing the gear I am wearing…. and also not looking like I am picking up scraps from the battlefield while I level.  I’ve liked making outfits for my character up until this point and then progressing my way through the content without having to care too much about swapping out items.  In a perfect world Warcraft would have heirlooms for every slot and I could simply level my alts without ever having to worry about swapping gear out.  With the new races coming in I fully expect to be leveling a lot more alts, and in truth investing in plate 110 heirlooms now will probably helm in the long run given that I tend to play plate wearing classes more than any others.  I am still really bummed about the direction they are taking with artifact weapons.  I would have loved to see them turn them into leveling heirlooms much the way that the items that dropped off Garrosh in Pandaria served this purpose.  It would have been a fitting end to a really awesome chapter of the game to be able to then use those weapons to level your alts.  Still having a lot of fun but I am also ready for the ride to be over and for my character to get geared up.

Shovels and Shoveltusks



I declared Thursday and Friday to be part of the weekend last week and decided to take myself four days off from the blog and one week off from the podcast.  I feel super chill going into what is likely going to be an exceedingly stressful week so I think it was probably a good call.  Apart of having to help my folks move some furniture yesterday, I mostly had a pretty chill thanksgiving.  Both Friday and Saturday my wife and I attempted to avoid the world, and the only shopping we really did was online apart from a mad dash out to Target around 9 pm on Friday.  At that point the store was largely sane and wasn’t that much different than a normal trip on any other night.  Throughout all of this I have found myself forsaking my normal checking of Pokemon Go in favor of the relatively newly released Animal Crossing Pocket Camp.  First off I have to admit I have never played an animal crossing game before so I didn’t have much of a cultural frame of reference going into this.  The experience instead reminds me a lot of a mix between the former web based casual MMO Glitch and some flavors of Stardew Valley.  Whatever you end up calling it the game is extremely charming and at this point I am level 16 and have a bunch of the animals at my campsite…  enough that the last three or four gave me a messaging saying there was no room.  Unfortunately I have no clue how you actually determine which ones are at your camp and which ones are not…  but for the moment I am rolling with it.


I’ve also seemingly hit whatever the friend cap is because when I try and add anyone it says that combined between my friends list and the few outstanding requests I have run out of room.  I have no clue what this cap actually is…  I estimated 200 the other day but I am guessing in truth it is closer to 100.  The game is maybe bad at messaging some things but I am largely limping along without doing much in the way of research.  There is a quarry mini-game that requires you to get help from five of your friends, and I wish they messaged when my friends were needing help a little better.  For example if you look at the middle section of the above screenshot you will see a shovel icon out to the side of Kelsey’s name.  I wish there was a way to sort these to the top of the list because they are really the ones I am most interested in given I like helping other players, because you appear to get some sort of cut of their profits.  After that you attempt to guess which rocks have the most profitable stones…  gold nuggets seem to be the best.  I still very much feel like I don’t fully grasp a lot of things…  like how the hell to make large quantities of Bells that Animal Crossing currency.  Right now I have a 30,000 bells loan with the auto place and have never really gotten close to paying it off.  Thankfully they don’t seem to be sending anyone to break my kneecaps because of it though, and they still allowed me to customize my RV regardless of having the loan out.  I feel like maybe they don’t have the best business model.  Regardless if you have not been playing this you should probably check it out because it definitely seems to be addictive as hell given the wide variety of friends that seem to be playing it on a regular basis.


I made a bunch of progress in Destiny 2 but I am likely going to wait until tomorrow to talk about that.  Instead I wanted to talk a bit about the other game I played over the break…  World of Warcraft.  I am still working on my tiny Orc Warrior that is getting less and less tiny as each week goes by.  At this point I have completed the Cataclysm content and am on the airship just about to start the invasion of Pandaria.  This is something I have never actually done on the horde side given my last several characters I leveled were abusing the shit out of the pre-legion launch invasions.  I’ve also not spent much time playing through Warlords of Draenor as a Horde character, so that should be interesting as well.  Similarly I have never seen Legion as the Horde…  all things I am interested in experiencing first hand.  The biggest shock for me is just how fast Cataclysm managed to go given that I started in on Vashj’ir Saturday night and dinged level 85 well before finishing the final section of it Sunday evening.  I realize that zone is in theory about the same size as two other zones combined…  but I did not expect to be getting quite that much experience from it.  Granted I am fully geared out in level 100 heirlooms (minus the rings because I don’t have the patience for that nonsense), but did not partake of any of the experience boosting options.  The mission of the day however is to try and figure out how to get a Pandaria flying book…  because I do not want to return to land based leveling if I can help it.

Punitive Shades and Iron Banner



The 13th anniversary event is going on right now in World of Warcraft and I have been largely disconnected from me.  For whatever reason I am focused on leveling my Orc Warrior above pretty much all else.  This is often the case when I return to WoW after being gone for a bit, I have to ease my way back into playing my bigger characters.  This year each character gets a package that contains 200 timewalking tokens and the quest vendor also sells a bunch of items.  One is the Corgi from past events and another are these crazy sunglasses that my Orc Warrior is modelling above.  These seemed like a fun item until last night I happened to catch wind of something through twitter.

Why would you create an item that is only transmoggable during the yearly anniversary event?  I mean I guess in theory they did give every character 200 tokens so they can fall back on the reasoning that we aren’t out any of our time to get the apparently disposable item.  The transmog system in general has never quite set right with me because it seems overly complicated rather than simply just letting you swap any graphic with any other graphic.  However the fact that there are timed transmogs only makes me more grumpy with it.  I just hate the whole concept of time limited items in general because I realize these are supposed to make me want to collect them all before the time runs out.  Instead what they do is make me just not want to even try and save myself the general disappointment by not participating.  In the case of the  shades, I put them on the Warrior for fun but I am not deeply connected with them.  However it does seem oddly punitive to the players who have designed entire transmog outfits around them.  This is just part of the Blizzard school of design where we can’t have anything that is universally good.  Every nice thing seems to be required to have a negative that comes with it, and that ethos will always be an axe I have to grind with this game.

Destiny 2_20171010061501

My means of taking screenshots in Destiny 2 seems to have crapped out this morning.  It’s probably nothing a reboot won’t fix but I don’t exactly have time to do that when I am trying to churn out a blog post on the off chance that there might be queued updates to run.  Instead you are going to get the Iron Banner screenshot from the PS4 that I took when the event was last available.  Tonight I will begin the process of trying to get a set of gear on my Titan once more, because I really love the Iron Banner gear this time around.  I have the full set on my PS4 Titan and I love it so much for many reasons… not the least of which is it has a decent stat package.  Additionally I am all about trying to get back a few of the weapons that I really enjoyed using… namely the Pulse Rifle and Auto Rifle.  There are daily milestones and my goal is to attempt to complete them on each of my characters.  I am still frustrated that the Iron Banner is not a means of gaining power level the way it used to be in Destiny 1, but it is still a good source of cool gear and I am just going to focus on that aspect.

Memory is Fleeting



With all of the recent talk about the World of Warcraft classic server, I have found myself contemplating a lot of things about the game.  We recorded a podcast episode where we basically spent the entire time trying to determine just how vanilla classic would end up being.  The other side effect of all of this is that I seem to be playing my horde warrior over on scryers quite a bit more than usual.  Now if you were to ask me to rank the current expansions to the game that ranking would look a little something like this…

  1. Wrath of the Lich King
  2. The Burning Crusade
  3. Legion
  4. Vanilla
  5. Mists of Pandaria
  6. Warlords of Draenor
  7. Cataclysm

Notice that number one and number two are the second and third expansion, and that weirdly enough I rank Legion above Vanilla.  What you are seeing is that my memory of these expansions and the nostalgia that colors them does not adequately represent the experience of actually playing through them.  I’ve recently leveled through the Burning Crusade content in a fashion given that you end up dinging your way out of it long before you actually finish much of it.  I did do Hellfire Peninsula in its entirety, the majority of Terrokar and a good chunk of Nagrand.  I left the Cataclysm tainted Vanilla lands at 58 and similarly left the Outland at 68 and as a result have spent the last four levels completing pieces of Borean Tundra.  The reality I am straddled with is that the zone design of the first two expansions is simply not good.  I mean at the time it was released it was world better than anything Vanilla had given us and as a result felt like a breath of fresh air, however when you stack it up against modern zone design from say Legion…  it is objectively not as well designed.


What I mean by this is that the quests don’t flow cleanly from hub to hub and instead it forces you to do a lot of travel time back and forth between a hub and its related spokes.  All the while I was leveling through Outland and so far in Northrend it feels like I am spending a lot of time needlessly travelling between two destinations and this might have been the initial intent.  However after seeing modern quest design it feels like I somehow failed and allowed my quests to get out of sync.  If you fight your way through a micro dungeon with quest A you often find that upon turning in you now have another quest requiring you to go back there.  It is maddening to have to wade through an army of minions to kill a boss that you were already next to and sometimes even killed while completing the first quest.  The other that adds to this feeling of tedium is the mob density and having no real way to get in and out of these destinations without a heavy body count.  Thankfully on my warrior racking up a heavy body count is fun, but on other more fiddly classes this causes the leveling experience to grind to a halt.  The truth is it will probably have taken me twice as long to level through Outland and Northrend as it will have to push through the next three expansions.

As games mature their design ethic shifts significantly and we forget what it was actually like to play these games at the time.  When it comes to Classic World of Warcraft for Project 99 in Everquest… what we are chasing is a feeling not an actual honest moment in history.  I think when players say that they want to play Vanilla again…  they want to return to a time when not everything was mapped out quite so clearly and they had a sense of accomplishment and discovery each time they looted a kobold (and the game subsequently froze).  This is why World of Warcraft Classic is going to be the challenge it will be.  That experience means different thing to different players, and none of the calculations that a game company can make actually take the social component into play.  When I think of Vanilla or Burning Crusade or even Wrath, those memories involve very specific sets of individuals that no longer play the game and I might not even have contact with.  For Vanilla it was the Late Night Raiders, and Burning Crusade it was No Such Raid and when Wrath launched we were excited to be the Duranub Raiding Company.  Three non-guild based raids dominate those feelings and memories and the simple fact that I went through three separate raid groups tells you that there is no way to actually ever join those broken pieces back together again.  All of this said I will have characters on the Classic server, and I will see how this experience actually shakes out in the end.  I just feel like it is going to be exceedingly difficult to please even a fraction of the player base because we all want something different.

Snipers and Hellboars



One of the core problems with Destiny 2 is that progression is all about luck.  What I mean by that is especially as you wind down towards the end of the power curve, everything lives or dies upon what you happen to pull from your powerful engrams each week.  Once upon a time SquirrelPope told me that he started getting random world 300 blues when he hit 299.5 on his base light level.  I’m at 299.8 at this point and have yet to see one and nor have I actually seen any of the supposed vendor engrams that go as high as 300.  At this point on my Titan I need a chest and a class item to hit 305, which admittedly is way sooner than it happened during the console release.  That said everything is luck of the draw for me and this week my luck was just about as bad as I could possibly get.  In total I got six sniper rifles among the nine powerful gear packages that I have opened on my characters.  Sniper rifle being the only weapon that I consider utterly useless because I have yet to find one that is even close to being worthy of that power slot.  Grenade Launcher is traditionally a stinker as far as slots go, but even there I have Berenger’s  Memory and Play of the Game that I like using.  If I absolutely had to use a sniper… so far the only one that seems even viable is Gentleman Vagabond from crucible packages but even then…  there are so many other good weapons that I could be using in that slot.

I tweeted this comment out last night and I thought I would post it on my blog as well this morning.  I promise I meant this to be helpful and not ragey, but it does frustrate me when I see players effectively wasting the scorch cannon rounds spamming the crap out of them.  I admit that I did not know this was even possible until I got to run the Wrath of the Machine raid in Destiny year three, so I went that long effectively using them wrong myself.  The scorch cannon at face value looks like a rocket launcher with a lot of ammo, but it is way more than that even though the bosses that use it never actually use them to their full power either.  With Titan being the weekly flashpoint planet, you are going to encounter a lot of scorch cannons considering 2 of the 3 available events on that planet involve Fallen Walkers.  The weapon has a somewhat hidden alternate fire that involves holding down the trigger after you have fired the round and letting the munition grow in size before releasing and letting it explode.  You are going to have an auditory and visual queue to this and while you can continue to let this go and keep gaining strength as Squirrel pointed out last night, my personal experience is that the 4 second rule seems to be the most efficient for killing those walker tanks.  What I do is fire a round and then duck behind cover while holding the trigger allowing the munition to grow in size and about 4 seconds into holding it visually doubles in size.  At this point I let it go and let the damage get dealt while lining up a shot for another round.  Basically doing this will burn your target faster and easier I might add than spamming rounds and also give you more than enough ammo to take out both tanks with a single Scorch Cannon.  The AOE explosion is also fun for dealing with waves of yellow bar captains and such, but unfortunately this is a tidbit of ancestral knowledge that has not yet circulated through most of the population given that I see most players wasting these weapons.  As a result I just wanted to toss this thought out there and hopefully it sticks.


As far as last night goes however…  after my crushing disappointment of being in sniper rifle hell…  I decided to chill out on the sofa with my new favorite orc.  At this point I am just shy of level 64 and am still in the Hellfire area cleaning up the quests.  In theory I should be able to completely skip Zangarmarsh and go to Terrokar, doing the every other zone leapfrog across Outland much like I have done with Legion content.  There is something extremely relaxing about Warrioring it up and all the while chatting occasionally with the Facepull crew horde side.  Mostly World of Warcraft is serving as this super relaxing comfort gaming time for me, and with work being as stressful as it has been lately I guess I am finding I need it.  Right now it is looking like I won’t really get to take much time off for the holidays other than the default days they give us off.  I have too many deadlines crashing in together at the same time, and this is also throwing a massive monkey wrench in my traditional Pax South plans.  Right now unless something massively changes I will not be attending this year which is a bit of a bummer considering I’ve gone every year since its inception so far.  It also means I will miss out on meeting up with friends and hanging out… and the biggest bummer of all is that I just found out my friend Cuppy is on a panel this year.  I would have loved to have seen that, but then again I am absolutely horrible at actually attending panels at Pax.  I tend to miss them while wandering around doing other things.  Even if not for Pax I am hoping to make it back to Austin as some point in the future.