Post #13: Let 80 be finale of seem

September 12, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Posted in Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

I’ve been realizing lately just how very much I am ready to take a break from leveling. Here’s my tally right now.

Chiril is moving along through the 70s, with a combination of questing and battleground experience. I expect her to hit 80 in the next week or two, certainly by the end of September.

Matosha, my tauren druid, is in her mid-30s right now and blasting along with my recruit-a-friend partner in crime. Our RAF bonus runs out early in October. We will certainly be to 60 by then and maybe beyond; my friend has some vacation time that’ll take her away from the computer coming up in late October and we’d really like to be at 80 by then if we can be.

I pulled out a very long-neglected draenei shaman and paid for the faction change, and now I have troll shaman Xenzzarn, also in her 70s. Can’t imagine it’ll take her very many weeks to get to 80, either.

Now, I had been working up a new night elf druid to be the tank for friends whose little family-and-friends guilds is chronically short of tanks. But it struck me so hard this week that I just plain did not want to be on that leveling-up grind again. So Ursulia is going to go on vacation, and instead I’ll transfer over the level 80 death knight I have on the same server as Chiril. I don’t need two tank/dps characters in one place, after all. This will share the love around, and I’ll be able to group for high-end stuff with my friends now rather than after weeks or months of leveling.

And…that may be it for new characters for me until Cataclysm. Certainly the last for a while. This gets tagged as a prediction, to see whether in fact I’m back advancing new alts before the end of 2009.

There’s a lot I haven’t done yet at the endgame, and the idea of some months to focus on it in ways I didn’t get to before is really very appealing right now.

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Post #8: Letter to Mr. C – What’s Up With Cataclysm, concluded

September 1, 2009 at 8:08 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | 4 Comments

Dear Mr. C:

Er. Sorry about the extended dance-mix delay on finishing this up.

To recap: Blizzard and its customers share an interest in updating old maps, but doing that will make a significant amount of change necessary in key locales and in boundaries. Furthermore, changing the map this way provides an opportunity to update the structure of quests, adjusting givers and goals in light of lessons learned about what makes the process of questing more fun and less frustrating.

So, what are they doing to tie it all together with? To my great pleasure, they’re pretty much entirely building on existing platforms. Or, to get image-y about it, it’s act III and they’re firing off a bunch of the guns that have been on stage for some time now.

Continue Reading Post #8: Letter to Mr. C – What’s Up With Cataclysm, concluded…

Post #6: Chiril, Loremistress?

August 29, 2009 at 11:44 am | Posted in Alliance, Characters, Chiril, Factions, Loremaster, Loremistress Chiril, Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | 2 Comments

World of Warcraft keeps track of things characters do (and things done to them) and provides achievements for all kinds of accomplishments, from “Shave and a Haircut” for using the in-game barbers for the first time on a particular character to “Going Down” for falling 65 yards without dying to achieving exalted status (the highest possible) with 20 different groups. Often there are multiple achievements associated with a goal, as with the black dragon Sartharion: an achievement for beating him at all, with either a 10-person group or a 25-person one, for beating him with less than a full group of either kind, and for beating him with one, two, or three of the lesser dragons in his lair still alive and able to join in the fight on his behalf. There are achievements for beating many bosses in some minimum time, without any party members dying, and so on, and escalating rewards for collecting 10 non-combat pets, 20, 50, and so on.

Most achievements just give the satisfaction of doing it, an entry in your character’s record that others can check out, and some achievement points that so far can’t be spent, just noted. But some give rewards, like special mounts, pets, tabards, displayable titles, and the like. In addition, some are nested. There is, for instance, an achievement for exploring each zone of the game enough to have come close to all its major features, an achievement for exploring all the zones of a continent, and an achievement granting a title for exploring all four continents currently in play.

One of the achievements I haven’t yet earned is Loremaster. This is one of those nesting ones, for having done a whole lot of quests. Loremaster of the Eastern Kingdoms and Loremaster of Kalimdor each require 700 quests, which is a large fraction of all the quests available to any one character in their zones. The Old World doesn’t have separate by-zone quest achievements, but Outland does: 80 in Hellfire Peninsula, 54 in Zangarmarsh, and so on. Get all of those and you earn Loremaster of Outland. Ditto for Northrend: 130 for Borean Tundra, 85 for the Grizzly Hills, etc., get ’em all for Loremaster of Northrend. Get all four loremaster achievements and earn a title that displays with your character name and a special tabard (displaying the quest giver’s symbol).

Obviously this is something calling for a substantial investment of time, and for a character capable of doing a great many different things. Can I do it before Cataclysm comes out and a bunch of these quests simply no longer exist? (There will be a new version of these achievements to reflect the changed world, and the old ones will be listed under the heading of Feats of Strength, which include things that can no longer be done, to show that you wuz there back in the day.) I don’t know. Maybe not! But I like the options in high-level druids enough that I’m going to give it a try.

Here’s where I am as of Saturday lunchtime:

Loremaster of the Eastern Kingdoms: 62 of 700

Loremaster of Kalimdor: 274 of 700 (guess which continent Chiril and Aelaren leveled up in?)

To Hellfire and Back: 69 of 80

Mysteries of the Marsh: 43 of 54

Terror of Terrokar: 21 of 63

Nagrand Slam: 58 of 75

On the Blade’s Edge: 6 of 86

Into the Nether: 4 of 120

Shadow of the Betrayer: 0 of 90 (that’s Shadowmoon Valley, where Illidan and his Black Temple are)

Loremaster of Outland: 0 of 7

Nothing Boring About Boring: 53 of 130

I’ve Toured the Fjord: 28 of 130

Might of Dragonblight: 1 of 115

Fo’ Grizzle My Shizzle: 0 of 85 (Grizzly Hills)

The Empire of Zul’Drak: 0 of 100

Into the Basin: 0 of 75

The Summit of Storm Peaks: 0 of 100

Icecrown: The Final Goal: 0 of 140

Loremaster of Northrend: 0 of 8

Now, the Northrend ones will advance naturally as Aelaren and Chiril level up. The rest depend on me going back and doing older stuff in spare moments. I will keep the tally and comment on anything interesting along the way.

Post #5: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s Up With Cataclysm, continued

August 27, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C.:

I’ve had a nap and some cold medication, so let’s see if I can pick up where I left off…

Graphics. Yes. Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms, the two original continents of WoW, were designed with a great many graphical tricks to present a rich-looking world that would nonetheless not overwhelm their capacity to design or players’ computers’ capacity to display. Thus there are steeply rising mountain ridges that simply become impassible to tell you “You’ve gone far enough, there’s no more zone past here” and flight paths for griffons, wyverns, zeppelins, and the like that operate along constrained paths. (They have room for variation to keep it interesting, but only so far.)

Later, the developers worked out ways of handling freer movement, and the results are on display in Outland and Northrend: there are no inaccessible spots except the edges of the world, or its equivalentslike the uncrossably large oceans between continents. But doing that to the Old World would mean, it turns out, literally rewriting the map from the baseline data on up. It’s not that every single pixel has to change, but that every pixel might, and that all the old shortcuts would have to be reexamined. Stormwind with flight enabled would have to be laid out freshly, its proportions altered, and the cathedral and many other buildings redesigned, for instance.

So that’s one consideration. What else?

Continue Reading Post #5: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s Up With Cataclysm, continued…

Post #4: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s up with Cataclysm?

August 27, 2009 at 8:41 am | Posted in Letters to Mr. C., Predictions, Predictions Made, Preparing for Cataclysm | Leave a comment

Dear Mr. C.,

You wrote on your blog, “There’s a new World of Warcraft…expansion, is it? called Cataclysm coming out, and here’s a trailer for itRob Bricken is right about how cheesy it is–wayyyyyy too much po-faced narration for my, or surely anyone’s, taste. I remember when the trailer for Wrath of the Lich King came out–I’ve never played WoW for a second and yet I watched that thing over and over and over again, it was so perfect at expressing its ersatz Tolkienisms. This, on the other hand..” Let’s see what I can make of it.

The first thing to say is that you’re certainly right about the narration. This is not a piece of voice work to compare with “The drums of war sound again…” or Terenas’ memorial to his son Arthas or especially “You are not prepared.” It feels rushed to me, though I’m always leery of putting any weight on guesses about the circumstances of production. It seems like the sort of thing a recording engineer would want to use as the basis for markup notes like “Speed the pacing here” and “Let’s get a more sustained rise in intensity through this passage” and “Back off there, it undercuts the punch line in the next paragraph.”

But then this is very much a work prepared under a specific deadline, that of Blizzcon, Blizzard’s annual convention. They obviously want to have a hefty attention-getting announcement each year, and it’s a little tricky for them at the moment. Starcraft II has turned out to be a big enough project that they split it into three separate packages, each of which will apparently have enough material in it to warrant selling as a separate game with a straight face. Diablo III is work in progress, but apparently there’s not a whole lot of news ready to lay before the public. They have a new MMO in the works, but that’s also still work in progress, and there aren’t even any very interesting leaks about it yet.

So WoW is the project most likely to have news of the right sort, and expansion #3 has been underway for a while—since before expansion #2’s launch, they say, and it certainly makes sense that it’d be so. But there’s a difference between having something that is in a general way newsworthy and having a specific bundle of news ready to go right at a particular deadline.

Continue Reading Post #4: Letter to Mr. C. – What’s up with Cataclysm?…

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