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Archive for November, 2010

The awesome Johnny Awesome

Warning! Mild spoiler alert! Post after the break!

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The world ended and I feel fine

First of all, happy late thanksgiving to all my american friends! It’s not a holiday we celebrate much where I live(in fact we have it on another day!), but still, happy thanksgiving.

I was planning to make a post about my experiences in the post Shattering Azeroth but a lot of little things conspired to prevent me from doing so. In a way, I’m thankful for that because it gave me more time to experience the content and gather my toughts.

Through the eyes of the NUB

It’s New Undercity Bataillon you band of twisted minds! Seriously, the NUB does really exist in game and Blizzard is having a lot of fun with it while your questing in Silverpine.

I made a choice last tuesday. There I was looking at all the new options and wanting to explore all the new places and I couldn’t decide where to start. Maybe I should make a new troll to see the new starting zone, or go on an exploring spree with my Death knight. Or again maybe I should go play some Plant vs Zombie in Hillsbrad. So many choices! Eventually I settled on a simple choice. I chose to experience the new content at a deliberatly slower pace, to take my time to enjoy it and savour it, not rush through it.

And what better way to do so than through the eyes of a new character experiencing the world for the first time?

I ended up making an undead hunter instead of a troll. Sure there would be less “new” content, or so I tought, but if I was going to level a character might as well be a combination I enjoyed and I’ve been wanting to make a hunter for a really long time. This turned out to be a really good choice because I feel it allows me to really see the new Azeroth while comparing it to the old since Tirisfal glade is not that different from the old one in essence.

The verdict

Am I satisfied with the new low-level content or is it simply a rehash of old-tired content? That would be the question most of us would want to ask no? But first I’m going to ask you another question. Are you expecting a new game or an updated version of the old one?

Because that’s what it is really. The Shattering is an update of the old Azeroth. The game still plays mostly the same, the quests have the same mechanics, a lot of the old textures and looks are still there and there’s quite a few of the old quests who are still present.

Does this means that I’m disapointed with WoW? Hell no! In fact I’m more motivated to play than I’ve ever been in a long time. I love the new storylines (Silverpine kicks major ass by the way), the new quests, the new mobs and new NPCs. They changed the flow of quests in old zones so that now you get a fun story as you go along. I had a blast seeing that poor forsaken you helped become a deathguard or following the storyline of an ex-scarlet crusader who became forsaken. You also have to see an NPC follow you around and pile cadavers on his back to appreciate how far Blizzard has come in quest design and implementation.

The final verdict is still up in the air as I want to give Cataclysm a few months to see how things will evolve but so far it’s been an awesome adventure.

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Success vs human

Yes the world has ended, yes I’ve been playing and enjoying the new Azeroth a lot. No, it’s not what I want to talk to you about. I want to touch a bit on guild drama today. I was scouring my list of  blogs to find out other bloggers reactions to the new content when I found out about some guild drama in Zelmaru (Murloc Parliement) guild. Following the linkage I uncovered a sad story of a guild having to deal with a member having different opinions about how raiding should be handled. It’s a classic story and it’s one I’ve been part of way too often. It’s also why I’ve made Walk the Plank but more on that later.

The game of expectations

So you have this guild who started raiding one day. It was fun and glorious at first but quickly they encountered the same problem every raiding guild has, failure. The guild search for answers and solutions, implement them and then the real problem of raiding guild rears its ugly head.

Not every member is on the same page when it comes to raiding.

Seriously, no matter how you twist and turn things, nearly every single guild problem when it comes to raiding boils down to a member not having the same idea about how to raid. Someone has different ideas about how, when, what to raid and problems appears. Maybe he or she thinks 3 days are too much, maybe she wants the leadership to be harder with the raiders, maybe he disagrees with the strategy. Whatever the reason, things are not going the way he or she thinks they need to go.

If its a member, they may leave. An officer, big drama ahead. A guild leader?.. bye-bye guild.

And I believe it gets to this point because most guild who are raiding are about success and not about the members. If you keep repeating to everyone that every rule is there in order to succeed at raiding then they will expect success. When success is not coming the rules will often be the first suspected cause of failure. 

Recruited bad players? You need to change recruiting rules.
People not having enchanted gear? Change the requirements.
Progress is not fast enough? Add raid days
Group composition is not working? Change raid invite rules.

Every step of the way, we remove the individual human being from the process so that in the end it becomes a very mathematical process. We figure that if we have the right rules, success will come. However every time you change the rules you create more opportunities for someone to disagree with them. Eventually it becomes a simple process for the players:

If rules equals success: Stay.
If rules doesn’t equal success: Change rules.
If rules doesn’t change: Leave guild for success in another guild.

So when I hear that we are loosing human relationships in guilds it’s simply because we  made our guilds about success first and people second. We made it so that no success means no guild.

My experiment

I’ll admit, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the word “experiment”, for me it’s not so much a question of deliberately experimenting but rather an idea I’m trying. So what’s that crazy idea? Making a guild where the explicit goal is to prioritize the human player and not measure the successes in raids or bgs.

In short, I want to have fun playing with my fellow guildies, not because we just killed Arthas but because it was fun doing something with them and being with them. I want to log in because I want to chat and play with Kaozz, MMOGeecee and the others, not because I have to or else I’ll lose my spot or be kicked out of  the guild.

And I want the same to be true for them. I want them to log in just because they enjoy being there. I don’t want them to feel pressured to log in. When I see a member online, it’s because he or she genuinely wants to be there.

I don’t know if it will work or even if it’s viable. Maybe we’re bound for a spectacular failure or we’re doomed to remain a small guild. Doesn’t matter. What matter is that with only the 4 or 5 of us in there right now I’m already making friends and connections that I enjoy more than any boss kill I’ve ever been a part of. And that is happening right now, not in some long-lost golden age way back when.

So once more I’m going to extend an invitation to all of you looking for a place to hang out, hide from your guild for a few hours or if you just want to say hello. Just look for a Walk the Plank member on Silvermoon (US) and we’ll give you an invite right away.

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Azeroth nostalgia tour

Unless all of the WoW gurus and seers have been mistaken, together, at the same time, today is the day when all breaks loose and when we are finally able to log in after much lag and waiting queues we will be able to enjoy the new and destroyed Azeroth.

Most of the time I’m not big on nostalgia and collecting mementos but yesterday I decided to indulge in a farewell tour of Azeroth and visit some of my favorite zones before a big Internet dragon trashed them all. In no particular order, here’s my  favorite three pre-cataclysm zones.

Silverpine forest: Werewolves, haunted castles, curses, zombies… it was all there! I mean, what more can you really ask for? Murlocs?! Even they were there enjoying the awesomeness that is Silverpine. It stands out for me by being the first horde zone that was centered around a particular storyline. Quests would progressively uncover the mystery of what had actually happened with the worgens and I couldn’t wait to get to the next part. Then it all culminated in a showdown in Shadowfang keep with the big man itself, Arugal!

Duskwood: I do have a soft spot for undead themed zones and Duskwood is another haunted forest that I just love. Every Alliance character I’ve ever made has completed the quests for the embalmer, uncovered the mystery of the Dark riders and sought out the Scythe of Elune. Sure it was a pain to travel from one end of the zone to the other all the time but I didn’t mind travelling through one awesome spooky forest.

Searing gorge: A surprising choice maybe for some but that zone always stood out for me as that kick ass end of the world zone I would fly over daily and couldn’t wait to get to. I would take the gryphon from Stormwind to Ironforge as a teeny lowbie and would dream of one day making it and being able to go kill all the dragons and monsters in there.

So that was my nostalgia tour yesterday. I’m curious to hear what was yours or what it would have been.

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WoW, Monday random tidbits

Things have been slowly heading back toward normal for me and I’ve managed to finally spend some quality time in WoW despite a shaky internet connection last night wich prevented me from helping out Kaozz in Sethek Halls.

Lately I’ve been doing mostly PvP with questing sandwiched in between the battlegrounds. I need to get the money flowing in again and questing is the most enjoyable way to me. I know I could make tons of cash with the Auction House but it’s not something I enjoy much. Fun is the key word here. While focusing on “fun” is by far not the fastest way to get to wherever I want to go it makes the game great again and to be honest I don’t feel the need for Cataclysm as bad as I did before.

Talking about fun and PvP, I’m actually having fun again in PvP. It’s not easy, especially since I don’t have any pvp gear and I don’t want to spend money to get some until the expansion comes out but it’s been great practice to get the reflexes up to speed again. I went for an unholy build with my DK in order to get Anti-magic zone and the benefits of a boosted anti-magic shell. My performances so far have been very hectic ranging from pwning to being pwned but I feel like I’m making progress so there’s hope.

Going to conclude this post by saying it’s snowing outside for the third day in a row and that I’m already missing summer…

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Cataclysmic events

I’m going to echo Larisa a bit today and talk about the events leading up to Cataclysm release and player reactions to them. As most of you probably know, Blizzard has made a series of events and quests that ramp up to the actual Cataclysm. We will actually be able to see it happens before our very eyes! I mean, how exciting is that!

Not very much according to some. I keep hearing and reading about how it’s only screen shakings, loot-less elementals, easy bosses and errand quests. What should be a really exciting time turns out to be yet another day at the job for them and I find that very sad.

The Cataclysm event

So what does this event do? Or said another way, what is it missing? Let’s look:

-World changing, story line quests     Check
-Interacting with lore characters  Check
-Accessible quests  Check
-In-game events(Invasion, earthquakes)    Check
-Special bosses(4 of them!)     Check
-Loot upgrades(iLevel 251 items)   Check
-Seeing the world change before our eyes  Priceless

For years I’ve seen people ask exactly for that kind of event and it’s exactly what’s going on right now!
We ought to be super excited and yet I still hear complaints. It’s normal, after all it’s missing a few important
features (/sarcasm)

-Making me better than everyone else    Missing
-Changing to game completely so it fits my every desire   Missing
-Be a new MMO  Missing

It’s all so clear now…

Yes, we are customers. Yes, we pay 15$ a month and as such we are right to expect continuous commitment from Blizzard to improve the game.

This is exactly what they have done with these events. It might not be the epitome of perfection but Blizzard get’s a perfect score for effort from me. They clearly put some thoughts and effort in all of this and to me it’s disheartening to see so many complain about this. They are missing a truly great event and they only have themselves to blame for it. Ask yourself a simple question. Ultimately, does these events improve the game, or make it worse? I truly believe that no matter how underwhelming someone might find them they do not make the game worst. Once that’s established… why not simply enjoy them for what they are, a fun way to experience the changes to Azeroth.

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FF14: Failure to launch

If you’ve been following the debacle of the FF14 launch, you now know that SquareEnix extended the trial period for yet another month, meaning that if you bought the game at launch you will get a full 3 months of free play. That’s a full quarter of a year that the company will not make any money out of subscriptions and unless things have changed or I’ve been misinformed, it’s during the early launch of a game that it needs to make money in order to pay for itself.

After a full three months of play, the impulse buyers will have left, the tourist will have moved on and the “new and shiny” factor will have worn off. When FF14 finally does start to generate subscription revenue, it will probably have missed it’s best three months.

SquareEnix must know this and for them to extend the trial period to 90 days tells of the sorry state the game is in. Going by the very unscientific method of asking a current player and reading the forums I get a very sad picture of servers emptying themselves and becoming deserted.

I believe we might actually be seeing the first MMO to not even survive its launch period. For me to call FF14 to have survived its launch it needs to survive the month where it demands payment. In short, if enough players are willing to pay and they keep the game going past that first month I will acknowledge FF14 to have survived launch.

Right now it’s on life support and things are not looking good.

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