Friday, February 29, 2008

Visit to the Deadmines

Last night was interesting. As soon as I walked in the door from work I was accosted by my wife and a friend of ours, their mission: The Deadmines. They had made alts and leveled them up to 11 and 12 respectively. A holy priest and a fire mage. I have run instances all the way up to BRD solo and I'm pretty good at AoE farming. So what did I do? I put my mage in full damage mode and ran them though The Deadmines at least 4 times. In that whole time they went from 11 and 12 to 14 and 15. It didn't take long because my mage can kill most mobs in the instance with one blast, burn, explosion, or even a staff hit.

So with that in mind, how do you power level? I've found that pushing the characters through an instance with one 70 mage takes less time than running around gathering quests and getting them complete UNLESS the quests are in the area anyway.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Back in business!

So now that my pc is complete (after a power supply arrival last night), I have returned to the game in all of its splendor. All graphics and sliders turned up to the highest setting and everything turned up to the max with a huge widescreen resolution.

That got me thinking. Some of my former co-workers used to play Everquest 2 (I did as well, call it a momentary lapse of sanity). There was a long debate between me and them about the merits of world of warcraft vs. everquest 2. I ended up giving them all of the trial keys I had laying around so they could try it out. With a little resistance I finally got one of the group to try it. He was instantly hooked on the simple gameplay, the quick learning curve, and the simplistic beauty of what he called the 'cartoony' graphics. So more people began to switch over to World of Warcraft, one guy came back to me with an interesting story. His wife, who never had really taken to the games herself, had passed by him playing the game on the computer and paused. She asked him what he was playing because it wasn't the same game she was used to seeing him play. He confirmed it and showed her a bit more of the game itself to which she replied the graphics looked much better than the other game he played.

It dawned on me way back then, when WoW was still young, that one of the main reasons WoW is so popular is that the graphics are simple but pretty. The gameplay is easily taken to even for kids! It's one of the many factors that makes WoW what it is.

With my computer I can turn all of the graphics up on WoW and stand in the middle of Shattrath City without a bit of lag. On that same note I can pull all the settings down a bit and play it on my crappy laptop that shouldn't be able to play it at all. WoW is accessable and the average computer can run it without the extra bells and whistles. Why do you play WoW?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

World of Warcraft and Widescreen

I've been playing with a widescreen monitor so long that I seem to have forgotten what WoW was like without the widescreen. For the last few weeks I have had my normal LCD monitor hooked to my WoW box because my widescreen's power supply went pop. It's so frustrating to not have that extra viewing space.

Last night my replacement monitor, a very nice 22 inch widescreen made by DCLCD. I have to admit that the color difference and the contrast really set this monitor off from the competitors. However, since my primary gaming machine seems to be having a power supply issue I won't know how nice it is until my new power supply arrives tonight.

How many wow'ers out there use widescreen?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A return to Dungeons and Dragons.

Another activity I participated in was Dungeons and Dragons (3.5), it's been quite some time since I've run a campaign (Barring a failed D20 modern campaign because everyone ended up quitting due to the fact of the D&D with guns association). My return to the fantasy realm coincides with the fact that I have been working on my old campaign setting again. So with all the information I have come up with over the years I have converted this campaign from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 3.5. With 4th edition on the horizon I suspect I will have to again convert myself up a level.

So without further delay, I present you with Mr. Gone's Arcane Theatre. The setting is Aaragoth, the Shattered World. The long and short of the history is that the world itself was rich in magic until a great disjunction, caused by the mages themselves, split the fabric of magic and caused it to fade but not disappear. Centuries later magic has re-immerged on a world that is heavily rhabdophobic. The characters themselves have been called upon to investigate some local disappearances that happened after the town's harvest festival. The only clue they have is that a rather exotic merchant came through town and sold items to almost every person that has disappeared.

Our cast of characters consists of Sierra, Rubin, Samuel, Rusty, and Colin. Sierra is the daughter of well-to-do merchants with a strong martial tradition in the family history. As such she is the captain of the guard in the city of Morigan in the province of Umach on the main continent of Argon. Rubin, a favored soul of Moradin, is just a local cleric that helps oversee the church of moradin in the city. Samuel, a local brawler (monk), is the former champion of the town's monthly boxing matches. Rusty, a kobold laborer, keeps his sorcerous talents hidden from the townsfolk due to the strong rhabodophobia demonstrated on Aaragoth. Finally Colin is a local 'treasure relocation expert' that operates in the city doing various odd-jobs and such.

Another local has volunteered to help in the town's time of need. Norrin, a tall and rugged farming fellow with a liver as hard as the earth he tills, is not the smartest man in the world but he, by far, is quite an interesting addition.

Four people total have disappeared including a young girl, erin, and her mother, carry, who ran a local store. Zeb, a goat farmer, and a wandering merchant. The only evidence that shows any link to the characters is a journal left by the young girl erin that says the merchant visiting gave her a trinket, later entries say that she began getting sick and the last, most cryptic entry, was one stating that she had found a door in the basement of the store.

Investigation of the store brought up nothing but a minor magical trinket tucked away in a crate of miscellaneous items. The merchant's belongings had all been left when he disappeared, among his things was a recipt and a small statue with a green eye perched upon it. The investigation of Zeb's farm turned up a small green ring and nothing more. Upon returning to the inn where the merchant disappeared the Innkeep, John by name, allowed them to stay in his room because it had been paid for up to a week.

Magical identification of the items brought a backlash of pain and a sinister whispering of the word 'Dreams' to the kobold sorcerer, rusty. Having deduced that the problem occurs when the item's possessors sleep near their trinkets two of the investigators decided to slip the ring under the innkeep's pillow. After staging a drinking match that left Rubin and Samuel both passed out on the floor and norrin not far behind the more stealthy of the two slipped into the Innkeep's room and put the item under his pillow.

After the innkeep laid down to sleep for the night the observers noticed that he began dreaming. Rusty left the halfling Colin to the innkeep and returned to their room to find Rubin similarly enthralled in a deep dream state. After waking the rest of them they returned to find the innkeep gone.

The final phase of their brilliant plan left the group sleeping with the small statue in order to find out what would happen. Not far into the experiment two of the group samuel and rusty spied Erin standing by the window. Not having enough time to wake the others they pursued her into the general store and down to the basement where a stone door stood in plain sight where there was none before. Entering the door and the subsequent stone tunnel lead to yet another set of double doors and a passage leading off in another direction.

Inspection of the doors revealed an odd sight, a stunning mountain vista at mid-day. Disturbed, the characters decided to inspect the side tunnel instead. Meanwhile, the remaining party members began to rise and spotted Erin as well. Norrin, however, had disappeared just as quietly as the innkeep had. Once the pursuit was finished, the party rejoined, the characters inspected the hallway only to find loads of cobwebs choking the corridor. In a stroke of ether brilliance or stupidity Samuel burned the webs and pissed off a rather large wraith-spider (another of my creations). Through a long battle Rubin discovered he could affect the environment around him by concentrating very hard. Once the spider was defeated the group of adventurers left the area and came upon yet another door, this one a dwarven-carved masterpiece.

Over three hours summed up in just so many words but that's where the party left off. Interestingly enough everyone was entertained for the duration and I suppose that's all that matters right?

Security Issues

With all of the recent hacked accounts and stolen 'lewtz' (See Here), I've been wondering what steps the gaming community takes against hacking/thieving bastards.

I've worked hard on all of my characters and loosing them or their equipment, while not earth-shattering, would really get me down. I have been using internet explorer because I usually don't care. Is Firefox more secure because it's built better or because less hackers target Firefox? Truth be known nothing is 100% secure, if you built it someone can break it down. If you they can't get in, you can't get out.

Some steps I have taken or gathered are as follows:
1.) Use Firefox with the noscript addon
2.) Watch where you click (Since I work in the IT world this is a no-brainer for me but not exactly for my wife.)
3.) Don't share your passwords (Truthfully I don't even think my wife knows my password)
4.) Don't install addons from a small-time or questionable site
5.) Don't install addons that require an .exe
6.) Virus scan regularly
7.) Have a firewall (or in my case multiple firewalls)
8.) Change your password frequently
9.) Use a mix of characters (My standard is 8-12 characters with at least one capital letter, one lower case, one special character, and one number)
10.) Don't buy gold or powerleveling services (That's a route to stealing or being banned!)
11.) Do regular PC maintenance on your machine (You'd be surprised what digging around in your hard drive can turn up)

So what steps do you take?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Stealthy Gaming

Tobold posted an interesting article about the agro radius in World of Warcraft: Link. Personally I love rogues unless there's one behind me inserting a sharp object into my no-no places.

In the past I have enjoyed playing stealthy games. The list I have played includes the Thief series, Oblivion, Morrowind, and others. In particular I was looking forward to Starcraft: Ghost. I love thief-type characters and rogues. I would love to see a sight and sound based system implimented into World of Warcraft, that would definitely give me the fuel to play a rogue.

My wife has a rogue, this particular rogue is level 60 now and sitting merrily in honor hold waiting for levels. She has gotten a bit tired of the rogue and as such she has been neglected. But honestly having played a rogue for a little while The agro radius system can be painful if you're not really good at stealthing. Being as such she is specced in stealth/murder/ream. She seems to enjoy it. What specs do rogues out there use?

Weekend in Warcraft

So I played World of Warcraft a lot this weekend, go figure right? Well here's a run-down of what we did thusfar.

Power-leveling: Since I am the most skilled at AoE pulling and run-throughs I have been participating in a lot of power-leveling lately. This weekend was my wife's warrior (for the inevitable Zang'thraze the Destroyer, or whatever it is) and a holy priest. A good friend of mine just respecced his 44 priest to holy and as such he requires groups more than your average character.

I often wonder why Blizzard hasn't fixed that problem, I consider it broken dynamics. Every spec for every class should have a viable solution for soloing. Holy Priests, Resto Druids, Resto Shamans, and Holy paladins (just to name a few, forgive me if I miss your class) have the worst time trying to level. I, personally would rather play a holy priest instead of a shadow priest. Some solutions I have thought of would be hiring a tank henchman, or adding more damage-dealing to the specs but what do you think?

On my side my wife and the other dude running with us was nice enough to take my shaman into Blackrock Depths to gather some equipment that drops from various bosses. In particular I was hoping to get the Savage Gladiator's set because she is currently enhancement. Four times in we decided to switch to something else because my equipment will be replaced quickly. Honestly though I am wearing mostly leather and at that it's +int/sta which is more for enhancement shamans.

Dungeons and Heroics: We ran ourselves through a few dungeons and heroics this weekend including Arcatraz, Old Hillsbrad, Steamvaults, and Hellfire Ramparts. My friend, who's mage is named Joinde, has never been into Karazhan or any of the high-level dungeons so we started (and nearly finished) his attunement last night. Tonight we're going to do the Black Morass. The attunement to karazhan isn't really that difficult, I've attuned a few so far and assisted with attunements. The only difficult part is working your way through the shadow labs.

Auction House: Wow, here's the true pain in the ass. I listed my Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer this weekend, again, and got no hits. I'm starting to get discouraged, and as such I think we are going to start questing for cash. It seems to me that it would be the fastest way seeing I haven't touched any quests in blades edge, nor have I finished all the outland quests. What's the fastest way to make money in your opinion?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Power Leveling

So my wife has decided she wants to play her warrior primarily. Me being the good husband I am, offered to power level her with my 70 mage. In turn a good friend of ours will be assisting as well with his level 70 mage. Seeing as she has already hit 40 and has her mount it shouldn't be a big problem to rocket her to outland-level so she can quest with my Shaman and his Paladin or Priest.

Most people are divided on the subject, but I am by far not a WoW purist. I have power-leveled people before and I use Thottbot on occasion, especially since my memory seems to be less-than-favorable in some situations. During my initial run from 1-60 and then 60-70 I didn't use thottbot or any other tools besides the occasional question in chat. So along with what Tobold touched on here: Link, Asking questions seems to bring some sort of stigma along with it so how newbie-friendly is wow? I have found that a good number of people will criticize people for asking questions rather than assist or direct toward an assisting tool.

Could that be because a good percentage of the alliance side is populated with prepubescent boys that get some sort of sick rise out of being an ass? Exhibit A: Link

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer

So I took a chance last night and ran a heroic with my warlock in order to get a primal nether. Basically it is a waste of badges because I don't really care about his gear right now. Whereas I know that primals will no longer be BoP next patch I wanted to go ahead and throw one up on the auction house.

Currently the mats to make the Gyro-Balanced Khorium Destroyer cost 600 gold give or take. They go for 1000-1400 depending on the day and who has them listed. So having put my destroyer up for 1000g in bid and 1050 buyout that will net me about a 400g profit. So that's nothing to scoff at but will it sell? If I run a heroic every night with my warlock (or my main, the mage when the next patch comes out), I have the potential to make about 1k gold with a 600g investment.

What kind of turn-around does that rifle have on your server? Have you found anything else that is craft-able that sells for more?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Early WotLK Launch?

So I've been catching up on my reading lately and I ran across this post at Random-Battle. Link

Honestly, I have been thinking this myself. Mainly because WotLK has been in development for a while. Will we see an early launch? I really hope so because I'm itching for new content and more zones to explore. Theortically the facts match and I would love to see the new talent builds come out with patch 2.4, that would all but confirm an expansion launch soon after. But to tell you the truth I am not going to get my hopes up, that gives me heartburn.

World of Warcraft: Cellular Phone Edition?

So the rumors about a cell phone tool to access wow have been tossed around in rumors and articles but apparently now blizzard has owned up to 'experimenting' with the idea. Honestly I don't remember where I saw the article or I would link it.

I work for the government, they block and several other sites (for good reason of course). But having a cellular version of a wow tool would definitely change things on many levels. Even if it were just a chat interface and auction house manager I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands that would use it. So will this strange mish-mash of cellular technology and our most favorite MMORPG be useful?

For the record I have to say that I wouldn't use it because my job keeps me busy during the day. I can see others running their guild 24/7 from any locale with reception. That's a scary thought.

Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

Okay so with my 27 badges I could start buying equipment. Or I could wait and collect and get better equipment from the sunwell vendor when it opens on my server. So compiled with a wait that seems to be at least two months or more with the release of the patch and the opening of the zone (through daily quests) I estimate that I could potentially earn over 200 badges (I've gotten into the habit of doing the daily heroic quest).

However, it seems that the badge gear coming out with the patch will be better than black temple gear. Now this of course gives non-raiders access to the new raid dungeon if they grind for badges to spend. How does this make the black temple raiders feel? I'm sure more than a few of them feel angry, but you've seen content that we casuals won't see until we can solo most of the mobs in the dungeon (ten expansion from now, heh).

So how do the hardcores feel? Well you're also going to have access to the new raid content quicker than we will, so in my opinion you should just shut it. I already feel like casuals can't access all the content they pay for with that monthly fee. My first thought is that maybe casual players should have a lower monthly charge than the hardcore players. Take away our access to some of the dungeons maybe? But that's a silly idea.

Stuff it, we want to see the raids too! :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Leveling 1 - 60

So someone asked Tobold a question, he addressed it in a post (good old Tobold, answering questions from us noobs since... well... whenever he started blogging. lol (Link)

So here's my thoughts on that because I just can't resist. In my opinion there are several ways to handle this. First off would be to continue cutting the time and XP required to level from 1-60 and then 61-70 and then 71-80, etc as each expansion comes out. That's simple.

What about this, give a person who has at least one character at the max level cap (80 for instance when Wrath of the Lich King comes out) a /level command that works up to the previous content level. So when Wrath comes out someone who works their way to level 80 can level their character up to level 60 with said command. That eliminates the alt-grind wait just a bit.

Any thoughts on that? So when the next expansion comes out, Lord of the Maelstrom, for an example that raises the cap to 90 from 80, your leveling command will work to push a character from 1-70. That makes the previous content still active and the new content still active as well.

Fudging the numbers for drops

Okay, here we go to talk about heroics again. So I'm up to 21 badges total after a few good runs and a failed hellfire ramparts run. A good friend of mine and I have been running together and have come up with a few rules of thumb.

First off, no more paladin tanks unless they have at least a few epics on them. We've had very bad luck with the pallytank situation save for a friend of ours that is decked out in epic gear. But with a set of epic gear for every occasion who wouldn't be good? Sorry to the tankadins but unless you're specced right and have some good gear heroics seem to be a challenge. Maybe we just had a string of really bad tanks?

Second, no more druids as primary healers. Okay, I love HoTs as much as the next squishy class but the problem is that your druid can only rez every 30 minutes. When running a heroic instance NEVER use someone who can't rez frequently. Sorry druids, don't get me wrong you make good tanks and dps but you're only really good at backup healing.

Third, no more mages other than us. I'm sorry but I play my mage primarily for heroics and he plays his mage (suffice to say it's his only 70). Adding a third mage to the mix is great for crowd control but it SUCKS for getting drops.

Fourth, Shamans make good healers but only when they're geared properly. I don't know what it is, I play a shaman too (she's my next to level to 70) but for some odd reason we've had problems with Shamans keeping up with the healing-to-damage ratio. Again, maybe we just got a bad string of healers.

Fifth, (this is my personal rule). Do NOT ask a shadow priest to heal unless they offer to. My wife plays a shadow priest so she's specced and geared for DPS, NOT for healing. If someone's playing a shadow priest they like shadow priests, end of story. If someone offers to heal no problem but don't pester them for it. That would be like asking a holy specced paladin to tank (though we did have one guy do that quite well but again, epics and normal-difficulty dungeon). Shadow priests are great for damage and off-healing through said damage.

Last but not least (I'm sure we'll come up with more), do the daily heroics. Well I guess that's more a philosophy than a rule. We have found that doing the daily heroic every day has very profitable returns. Honestly I would have never gotten so many badges if it weren't for the extra two you get for finishing the daily heroic.

So what do you think? Are we being too harsh? Do you think excluding other mages so cloth drops will favor us is a good or a bad idea?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Break for WoW

Sorry for the brief absence but I was on a short vacation from everything, and as such I finally got to play World of Warcraft all weekend long. I must say that I am increasingly impressed with the daily quests that blizzard put out quite some time ago. I stress again that this is a quick and easy way to make cash. It's almost criminal how easy it is to make 12-25 gold per quest.

The daily heroic quest is the best of all. Honestly I have walked out of heroics this weekend with 10 badges of justice, that brings me up to 16 total with two primal nethers. Since blizzard is making the primals BoE next patch I don't have to worry about doing a bunch of heroic instances with my engineer who needs the primals. I think that is a good move, because people charge way too much for the patterns that require primals. I can see the gyro-balanced khorium destroyer firing now from my destruction holo-gogs!

One thing I also did this weekend was craft the first-tier engineering mount. I must say I am pleasantly surprised by the quirks that go along with owning the flying machine. I am tempted to make every character I own an engineer just because I like the mounts. Blizzard did a good job augmenting engineering.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


So I use a standard Logitech MX510 gaming mouse (Link) and a microsoft natural multimedia keyboard (Link). I'm looking at upgrading at least the keyboard. I've seen articles on different keyboard/mouse combos. With money being no limit (and carpal tunnel being an issue), what would you recommend?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What's in a quest?

So I've taken four characters through the entire process of Outland including my wife's 70 shadow priest. Through all of that I've done a set pattern of zones. Hellfire, Zangarmarsh, Terrokar, Nagrand, Netherstorm. My gnome warlock who I have affectionately named Wigglerachet (yes he's an engineer too) reached 68 after doing just 5-6 quests in Nagrand. So I left Nagrand without doing any more of the quests. Honestly since there are no instances in Nagrand I don't really care anymore. My Mage has the riding talbuk and above that there isn't any other reason for me to complete the quests in Nagrand until I hit 70. Then I can go back and get gold for them all instead of experience.

Recently though (having never been in Blade's Edge other than to do the chain to get me into the daily quests for Ogri'la and the Skyguard.) I've been doing the quests in Blades Edge for the sole reason to get gold. I've worked my warlock up to 1100g my mage up to 1400g and since my hunter is on another server he's poor. My warlock, however, has not gotten his flying mount since he's not 70 just yet. It seems to me that doing quests when you hit the cap is one of the best ways to make money out there. (Any other suggestions?)

Which begs the question of why would someone risk their favorite characters just to spend REAL money to get fake money? By the way what spawned this was six e-mails from four different gold farming operations asking for advertising space on my blog. Pardon my french but you're an asshole, ASSHOLE.

That said the old saying goes 'It takes two to tango.' WHY damn it all WHY?!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Team Fortress 2

Okay, so I've had Team Fortress 2 for several months now. Unboxed, installed, relatively untouched. So I decided to try it last night and I was pleasantly surprised.

I remember back in the TF and MegaTF days of Quake I. Yeah that dates back a bit but back to the point I was impressed with the game. The same mechanics are there and the same old gameplay. Honestly I was very fond of 2Forts back in the day and I find myself playing that more than anything. My achievement screen is a little underpopulated as is the log that shows your high scores and time played on each class. It seems that Engineer, Soldier, and Demoman are my 'top classes' thus far.

I've played every class so far and found that my least favorite class is the medic and my most favorite class is the Spy. There's just something about coming up behind someone and giving them the assknife that makes my evening. So what's your favorite class?

Graphics: 10 of 10
Sound: 8 of 10
Gameplay: 10 of 10
Fun Factor/Replay: 10 of 10

Honestly it's an almost perfect score. I love the cartoony graphics, it's unique. (Reminiscent of Earthbound) Even though your main objective is to shoot someone else in the face the design of the characters is a little more friendly. The sound is quite honestly annoying at times because of repetitive shotgun blasts but that's fixable in the options. And as for gameplay and replay I can honestly say it's theraputic to shoot the crap out of someone when I need to work off some frustration or do something out of the norm. I can't find myself playing it for more than a few rounds though so it's more of a 'take it in moderation' game. But I plan to take it in moderation quite often. The orange box was definitely worth the $20 I paid for it on black friday.

Monday, February 11, 2008

World of Warcraft Fishing

So I finally got around to fishing last night. Since my Gnome Warlock is an engineer I have an ample supply of aquadynamic fish attractors. I haven't won any of the fishing tournaments in Stranglethorn because someone always gets to it faster than me. So even with a riding crop, epic mount, seth's fishing pole, aquadynamic fish attractors, and being level 70 (so all enemies ignore me unless I stand on their feet) I still get outed. So here's the question for you guys out there.

If you have won the tournament what is your strategy?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

WoW TCG, Miniatures

I did previously play Magic: The Gathering, Netrunnner, Towers of Time, and a few other trading card games. I also have played a few board games in my life but I have never tried the World of Warcraft iterations.

Have any of the few readers I have tried the WoW TCG or Board Game? What was your experience and was it worth the investment?

On the side of miniatures (which was just announced, but I saw it coming), I have painted and played a few different games as well. Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer 40k, Warhammer Fantasy, Advanced Heroquest, and Warhammer Quest. I don't know if I would be willing to make the investment into the WoW mini game. Would be useful if I decided to play the WoW pen and paper game though. Has anyone played that ether?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Suggestions for World of Warcraft

1.) A third profession for characters: So your character is an grand master know-it-all in mining right? Well you're a blacksmith too, great. What about taking a second blacksmithing specialization or taking engineering? That would really be something. What happens in 'Wrath of the Lich King' when the new inscription profession comes out? My gnome warlock is an engineer, do I really want to drop engineering or mining to take up inscription? No. Okay, I can make ANOTHER alt with ANOTHER set of classes. I don't want to do that, I have too many alts as it is. I would like to see a third profession for characters in wow.

2.) Multiple spec availability: Don't get me wrong, I swear by frost mages 100%. But what happens when I want to try out another spec I have been toying with? I've always wanted to try out an elementalist spec so I could have viable options for fire or ice. I don't want to pay 10, 15, 20, or even 50 gold to respec. I think the pay-to-respec deal is asking too much of the players. Why should I have to pay to respec? I can't see any big issues that would prevent free respecing.

3.) Alternate, Two Specs: So no free respecing? Well how about giving us the ability to have two specs instead of one and the ability to swap them out freely. What if I want one spec for Solo/AoE Farming and another spec for PvP/Raiding?

4.) Fix Azeroth: Tobold has touched on this before and so have I. I would like to see azeroth fixed or just give us the ability to ride our flying mounts in Azeroth without the flying part. It would feel like a true achievement then.

5.) Massive-scale PvP: So you can't call it realm vs. realm pvp lets call it server vs. server pvp and slap it on the table. Blizzard did well with updating the battlegrounds to include all servers. Lets take it a step further and get down on some massive scale PvP.

6.) Capturable Cities, Buildings: Halaa aside (it's a rock in the middle of a gorge with a few buildings on it, whoopee), I'd like to see a server that is FSPvP (Full Scale PvP). What happens when the horde takes over Stormwind? Can you imagine the battles that would erupt to try and claim or reclaim cities?

7.) Destroyable Cities, Buildings: Not only did the horde take over Stormwind but they demolished the bridge across in the process, making a half-hearted and unstable wooden structure to bridge the broken gap. Plus there are several buildings that are out of service as well. Whatever shall we do?

8.) Player Housing: Instance it if you have to but player housing would be a nice way to customize my wow experience. Let me hearthstone to my house and then go to one of the major cities via a portal I have paid for to have installed in my basement. If my household contains a mage, maybe the mage can set up the portals themselves?

9.) Guild Housing: I'm not a big guild-going person but honestly I'd love to see something like the guild-owned 'castles' or whatever they are in Age of Conan. Capturable? Customizable? Bring it on! Well even if they weren't capturable it would be nice to have a guild house that allows me to hearthstone to. Teleport to any city? Have your own crafting room? Maybe access to the guild bank?

Crafting Systems

Okay, crafting systems are definitely a hot topic for all MMORPG's. What I'd like to know is how many people actually use in-game crafting and which systems do you like the most?

I have experienced the systems in World of Warcraft, Everquest 2, and Horizons to name a few. Whereas I like the crafting system in Everquest I never read the manual so all those little pop up buttons and things just passed across the screen with no interaction. My fault entirely.

So here's what I propose, we as the community come up with THE crafting system and offer it up to a developer to use in their game. For the people by the people? Wasn't there something else like that, and didn't it not turn out the way it was supposed to? ;)

Crafting is broken down into several categories:
Resources (Raw): Wood, Metal, Gems, etc
Nessecities (Purchased): Thread, Dye, etc
Equipment (Provided in game, or in a player owned house. Hint, Hint): Forge, Anvil

So the resources appear in nodes that are accessable by anyone with the type of gathering skill required and the skill enough to harvest it. Simple enough. Sometimes it's in hard-to-reach places and other times it's guarded by a nearby mob (mobile enemy). That part is simple enough and definitely the standard in any game with a crafting system.

Nessecities and equipment require no further introduction!

So the crafting process comes into question. I feel that the crafting process has been ignored by most games though SoE did fairly well with the Everquest 2 crafting system. Including providing a 'crafting class' with experience for your characters.

Here are the things I'd like to see in WoW:
-A Crafting Class (or level) instead of a generic skill level that goes up if you just make an item.
-More steps in creating an item. What goes into making a bag or box to put into your bank? I would like to see the ability to create the materials that go into an item and have that give you XP/Points as well. Well you need metal nails to keep the box together, wooden boards to make the box, maybe some metal strips to reinforce it, and then if it's a nice box some cloth to line it.
-More items to create.

Playing the Spec

When I get time I will release a series of updated macros I use while playing my mage and warlock.

Playing the Specs: Affliction Warlock
Spec Details - 0/41/20
Level Ranges - Normal & Elite: 2-4 Levels
Primary Focus - Constant Grinding
Main Spells - Siphon Life, Curse of Agony, Corruption, Shadowbolt, Drain Life
Gear - +Sta / +Spell Damage

Solo Tactics
Affliction warlocks excel at solo combat. I have played my affliction lock almost the entire way to 70 going solo most of the time. I have experiemented with all of the trees at the top-level and still I come back to affliction every time. The primary combination is to sick your voidwalker on the mob and throw siphon life, curse of agony, and corruption on them. For harder mobs you can put immolate and unstable affliction on them. After that you Life Tap to get full mana and then use drain health (it will be hard to interrupt!). Eventually you will pull the mob off your voidwalker. I just let it beat on me because the constant drain of siphon life and drain health. Once the mob gets to the almost dead state even if I don't need a soul shard I will still drain soul because it restores 15% of my base mana and I can always get rid of the shard. Using that method you can not only farm or grind constantly but take on another few mobs via fear and letting one or two beat on you or your voidwalker. Another thing to remember is your instant cast shadowbolt. You will get audible notification when your instant cast shadowbolt has proc'ed.

PvP Tactics
Everyone hates the DoT/Fear combination of warlocks but it is truely the best combo out there. Throw all of your dots on someone and fear them then sick your pet of choice on them. (I prefer imp for max damage but some prefer felhound for extra security and some utility) You can also use the life tap/drain life combo but that gets dangerous in PvP, I would suggest just spamming shadow bolts or draining life without tapping. When you need mana get to a safe place and tap then use bandages (the warlock's friend!)

Grouping/Raiding Tactics
So here we go, grouping. The grouping factor is just the same as the solo most times. I usually go full DoT on the harder mobs and life tap/drain life. Make damn sure you tell your party healer that you'll be tapping and draining (This is where an announce macro would be nice). You don't want the party healer wasting mana on you when you're good to go where you are. Be ready with your succubus (seduction) to CC some mobs and banish for others.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Blizzard's Canceled Game List

Blizzard admits to canceled games.

So there is the widespread Warcraft: Lord of the Clans but notice the lack of Starcraft: Ghost. While some would argue that it was just put on 'indefinite hold' I am under the firm belief that it is going to be revisited at a later time with the possiblity of some of its content appearing when Blizzard finally decides to open a Starcraft Online MMO.

What do the readers think?
Canned or not Canned, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The lacking content and bugs of underdeveloped games,
Or to take a stand against a sea of unwashed fanboys,
And by opposing, end the game. To program, to debug;
No more; and by a bug to say we end
The carpal-tunnel and the thousand painful needles
That sequel is heir to - 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To program, to debug;
To debug, perchance to play. Ay, there's the problem,
For in that gameplay what games may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal peripheral,
Must give us pause. (Maybe for a bathroom break.) There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long game developing,
For who would bear the law suits and future bugs of time,
th'oppressor's wrong, the proud gamer's contumely, (Definition: Rude language)
The pangs of despised patches, the law's delay,
The insolence of office (call the suits!), and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus (death) make.....
-Hamfist, Prince of the Crossroads

Okay this has ceased being funny and begun being sad. lol Who said gamers are not cultured? Obviously that comes from William Shakespeare's Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act III, scene I.

The pen is mighter than the sword?

Barring any jokes about the penis mighter I have often wondered how many people out there have played or at leasted watched in on a pen and paper gameplay session. Personally I enjoy pen and paper games such as Dungeons and Dragons, Star Wars RPG, Call of Cthulhu, and the like. I usually end up being the Game or Dungeon master because apparently I have a way with words and a vivid imagination. My players never have any complaints about being bored.

So how about it? How many of the readers or passers-by out there have run, played in, or watched a game? How many of you have even harbored the notion of playing?

I ask this because in a few short months Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition is being released. That means it's time for me to update my books and rewrite my campaign world. Again. My original world was written for Dungeons and Dragons 1st edition. I changed it when Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (2e) came out, and again when 3rd edition came out. With the release of 3.5 I made a few changes as well.

4th edition will change some of the core mechanics of the game and hopefully, as they are touting, it will make things easier. The question is will it be easier for the players or the poor DM's that have been changing and changing their content over and over again with each release?

Sports MMO?

So I wrote out a draft for a sports MMO that I think would work well for those... 'odd' individuals who collect every edition of 'Madden' and other sports games for the various systems that come and go. Keep in mind I scribbled this out in a matter of minutes so bear with me and throw in any input you may have. (Update: Apparently the blogger ate my formatting, I'll work on it.)

New MMO Game Concept: Sports
This type of game has not been attempted before. Every real-time sport could be converted to this format, even obscure sports. Each game could be broken into seasons that are available each time of the year real-time or off-season depending on business model. The concept would be to allow for someone to play when their favorite sports are not on or even create their own season. Each season would have its own rewards and special teams, all teams owned by a person ‘could’ be available to them if they purchase the ‘expansion’ for each sport.

1.) Names:

2.) Main Design
Sports Available

3.) Teams
-Players can be created or chosen from a list
-Custom players that advance the more they play
-Real strategies used by real teams
-‘Fantasy’ teams are a strong possibility
-Integrate ‘Fantasy’ Football, Baseball, Hockey, Soccer, etc…
-Multiple players possible to control a team or a series of teams

4.) ‘Guild’ Teams
-Offering a guild stadium for purchase in-game
-Offer in-game purchases depending on your team’s ‘wealth level’
-Custom Jerseys, possible real jersey purchase from online-store?
-Fitness equipment to enhance your players stats, just a little
-Team memorabilia or team items that people will ‘purchase’ by virtual spectators
-This could be a random number based on the team’s status
-Increases revenue and opens up new items and players for purchase in the ‘Store’.

5.) Leagues
-‘Guild-Level’ Teams compete against each other
-Limit ‘Guild’ numbers to a real team size, including backup players
-Real arenas, modeled after real sports locales

6.) Types of Play
Spectator Mode
-Allows you to watch games or matches between your favorite teams, etc.
-When your guild does a match and you are not in play you can watch the game from any angle
1 vs. 1
1 vs. Computer
-‘Practice’ runs that don’t count toward any match points but give you more experience using your team
Team vs. Team
-Every person picks a player and controls them during the game
-Alternate, Team vs. Computer
Ladder Matches
-Teams compete against one another depending on their status, multiple ladders available.
-Instant matching system, computer picks two teams based on their relative score.
-Only hold these matches once a week or once a month to determine the eventual yearly winner. IE: Superbowl, etc

7.) Possible Integration of ‘Fantasy’ Sports
-Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey
-Ladder Matches eventually lead into a final tournament of the best-ranked players.
-Rewards offered depending on your status
-Special in-game items such as players or enhancements for your virtual gym or virtual ‘stadium’.

8.) Rewards
Tournament Champ (For Each Sport) Could be rewarded something special
Free year of play
Special in-game items
Out of game items based on their favorite real teams
-Virtual Stadiums (Guild-Owned or Player-Owned)
-Team Memorabilia to be purchased by ‘virtual spectators’
-Fitness equipment or other enhancements to enhance your team
Possible in-game sponsors
-Gatorade, Team Store or ‘Sports Camp’ adds
-Real teams could be sponsors also, and offer more incentives to someone who would win.
New strategies or ‘plays’ based on the player’s sport

9.) Other Notes
-Allow players to pick their ‘favorite’ real-life teams, possible dynamic reward system based on that person’s team.
-The more someone wins the yearly tournaments the more they get rewarded as they progress.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Diablo MMO?

I had thought I touched on the subject previously but apparently I did not. A Diablo-based MMO? Well I can see it but there are several reasons why it wouldn't be as viable an option in its current state.

Factions: Currently there aren't really any factions in the Diablo Universe. The game is solely good versus evil. That would make a one-sided MMO which, in my opinion, would be counterproductive. Look at World of Warcraft, Alliance against the Horde. Humans against Orcs. That makes for a good conflict, what would PvP or hostilities be like in a Diablo MMO? Arenas. It would be a Massively Single Player game in it's current state.

Races: None. You are a human and that is it. I could see a half-demon half-human race springing up from years of raping and pillaging on the demonic side but in the current lore there is only one side that is playable. That eliminiates one form of customization.

Classes: Well the classes are defined and truely the Diablo 2 talent trees gave rise to World of Warcraft. I think of WoW as a hybrid between Warcraft 3 and Diablo 2. Barbarian, Sorcerer, Necromancer, Druid, Assassin, Amazon, and Paladin. Those classes would work but they're already defined (mostly) in WoW. Warrior=Barbarian, Sorcerer=Mage, Druid=Druid, Necromancer=Deathknight, Amazon=Hunter, Paladin=Paladin, Assassin=Rogue.

The World: The Diablo universe has not been fully defined. You have no world, no continents just cities (unless I missed something, which is possible). Without a larger world there is no MMO, there is just a Massively Single Player game.

Making a Diablo MMO would turn the world upside down in its current form. Expect Diablo 3 first, and if Diablo 3 changes the lore or updates it in a large way then expect a Diablo MMO soon after. Like I said it isn't that it's not possible it's just not feasable without a few changes.

Thoughts on the MMO market

Tobold makes a good point about the progression of MMO games. I agree that most companies are afraid of themselves and others when dealing with a potential loss of profits. One thing in particular I can give to SoE is that their station account idea is top-notch. I enjoy paying one low monthly fee for several games. (We'll not mention the fact that some of them suck a bit) I think that other gaming companies should adopt that same business model. Instead of trying to beat the numbers or not beat your own numbers why not combine the two and call it a day?

Think of this, if Blizzard does release a Starcraft Online game how many people would swap from one to the other? Realisticly they are not leaving but moving from one to the other. Therefore it will not decrease your numbers but spread them out. What if, instead, you decided to up the monthly fee by $5 and charge $20 for one month of service and allow your players to access both games. That's an additional $50 million dollars for a 10 million player subscriber base. In two years that covers the development cost of the game itself.

No player could pass on a deal like that, especially when (I am estimating here) at least 80% of the WoW players out there have played and enjoyed previous blizzard games. That to me seems like a recipe for success. Though it seems Tobold falls in the other 20% we can forgive him for that. :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Earthbound Review

So here comes a blast from the past (hopefully also coming to a virtual console near you. Earthbound for the SNES (Super Nintendo/Super Famicom), truely no other series has reached the level of greatness this game achieved. Keep in mind I am rating this game on the specs 'at the time of publishing' along with a comparison of today's graphics.

Graphics: 8 of 10
Sound: 8 of 10
Gameplay: 10 of 10
Replayability: Depends

Graphics: Today's flashy graphics and showy movies are great but nothing beats an old classic. In it's day Earthbound had graphics to beat them all. The perspective of the game (sort of a birds eye/third person hybrid) was just as unique as the style of graphics. Although the graphics are rather kid-oriented I think they are very original and top-notch.

Sound: The soundtrack, though sometimes repetitive was very appropriate and atmospheric. The gameplay sounds were well done as well. All-in-all I think they did a very good job on the sound all around.

Gameplay: Ease-of-use and easy play are both high on the list of plusses for this game. You can immediately pick it up and start playing without much effort. The story of the game is also very unique and well-planned. All details (as far as I can tell) were thought through.

Replayability: Unknown, I am waiting for my copy to arrive and I never beat the game unfortunately for me. I got to the end but never finished it.

Overall: 9 of 10

Playing the Spec

In the coming days I am going to release a series of articles I call 'Playing the Specs'. I will be dealing mainly with the classes I have played to high levels successfully. First installation: The Frost Mage.

Spec Details - This is the spec I have used or planned out for use.
Level Ranges - The level range of mobs I can take above or below me.
Primary Focus - What the spec is best at.
Main Spells - The primary abilties that are the most important with this spec.
Gear - Sample gear to use with this spec.

Playing the Specs: Frost Mage
Spec Details - 0/0/61 Full Frost
Level Ranges - Normal: +2-4 Levels, Elite: +2 Levels
Primary Focus - Maximum Mana Efficiency and Survivability
Main Spells - Frost Bolt, Frost Nova, Ice Barrier, Ice Lance
Gear - Gear that is +Frost damage and +Crit is, in my opinion, (and Tobold's) the best way to go. Throughout my levels I used the various craftable and auction-house obtained gear sets that focused on frost damage. In outland I swapped those items out with gear that focused on +Int/Sta and +Dmg/Crit.

Solo Tactics
While soloing the primary focus of a frost mage is doing steady damage and getting high crits. Your main tactic is to frost bolt repeatedly while deviating to use Ice Lance (once you get it) to go for high crits with low mana usage. I will routinely frostbolt first when the unit is locked down and immediately ice lance as soon as the frostbolt flys. 98% of the time this tactic will yeild a hit with both spells taking advantage of the target's frozen state. Make sure to have your Ice Barrier up at all times so you can take a few hits without interruption. Frost is also excellent for AoE farming if you get the spec right.

PvP Tactics
While most people will argue that the IWIN button used by fire mages is the best for PvP but I beg to differ. There is no 'perfect' PvP spec. Ice Barrier prevents you from getting the old one-shot in most cases while your efficient mana usage allows you to keep the damage coming constantly.

Grouping/Raiding Tactics
Being mana efficient helps and Ice Barrier (once again) is your friend. Your ability to dish out the hits with high crits will keep you at the top of the damage charts. In those long boss fights I was the only caster that did not end up using their mana potions up. Evocation helps here but efficient mana usage with high damage output is very useful.

MMORPG: Tattoo Artist (Profession)

-Allow Trainer, Vendor, and Dropped Patterns
-Stackable Patterns (Up to Three)
-Certain number of total tattoos available (3 max)
-Stacking Synergy depending on the tattoos you choose
-Special Pigments to Enhance the tattoos an artist creates, could be rare drops also or rare herbalist creations
-Only a high-level artist can remove a tattoo, once removed you cannot be tattooed for a certain length of time

Example of a Stacking Tattoo:
Lesser Mark of the Red Dragon (+4 Fire Resistance)
Major Mark of the Red Dragon (+8 Fire Resistance)
Greater Mark of the Red Dragon (+16 Fire Resistance)
Synergy Example: Once every hour you ignore a fire spell directed at you. Or once every hour you can breathe a plume of fire that does X Damage and X Extra Damage over X Seconds.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Starting Over

I am going to try and post at least once a day or once every other day on my blog again. It has been way too long since I've visted the gaming scene. Now that the crazy things in my life are almost over I can dedicate some more time to my own time-wasting gamer journalism.

Starcraft Online

I know it has been almost a year since my last post but I couldn't help but drop this on my blog just for the sake of expressing my opinions and views on a possible Starcraft Online'.

Projections for 'Starcraft Online'
A total of three races or 'factions' MAY be available at launch. Terran, Protoss, and Zerg. Each race will be a generic humanoid with a set amount of base starting stats and racial abilities. Humans and protoss obviously have a good starting point but the Zerg do not. Zerg issues would arise because besides the queen of blades there is no other cannon humanoid zerg that would work. However, a hybrid between terran and zerg would create a perfect subject (think about the walking bombs that come out of infested command centers).

As a side note for the Zerg, I can also see the world being set with Terran and Protoss being the only playable races with zerg being the third party antagonist. Though being a zerg fan myself I would much rather see a humanoid zerg introduced as a playable race.

Classes: Part 1
The inherent term for a job in an MMO is usually a 'class', however the most likely progression would be in 'talent trees' or 'skill trees'.
Each tree would dictate the character's path such as Close Combat, Marksman, and Psionic.

Terran Examples: (Close Combat) Firebat, Medic
Terran Examples: (Marksman) Marine, Ghost Operative
Terran Examples: (Psionic) Ghost Psion
Terran Hero or Secials: Goliath Pilot

Protoss Examples: (Close Combat) Zealot, Dark Templar
Protoss Examples: (Marksman) Dragoon (Humanoid Equivalent)
Protoss Examples: (Psionic) Templar
Protoss Hero or Specials: Archon, Dark Archon

Classes: Part 2
The other option would be to go with the usual class-based system. Terran Marine, Terran Ghost, Terran Psi-Ops, Etc. Though honestly that would be the less favorable of the two options. All of the normals would be there Terran Marine, Medic, Firebat, Ghost, Zealot, Dragoon (Basically a humanoid protoss marksman), Templar, Dark Templar.

So here we go with the crafting. While simple, the crafting system in World of Warcraft is boring. I would rather see something similar to (but not as annoying as) the everquest 2 crafting system. Gather materials, make base items, then those base items can be put together to become your final item. Specializing in a certain field of crafting would give you a bonus to creating better quality items, more items, or items available only to someone specialized in that type of crafting. I would like to see a class that is centered around crafting as well. If not a class available to all races then maybe a neutral third (or fourth) faction that deals mainly with trading and crafting.

New profession: Tattoo artist! (I have a word document that I wrote my ideas out on but it's not on me).

Setting and Story:
Here's the tough part, will the story be set during the time line of Starcraft, Starcraft 2, or even between or after the two games. Seeing as World of Warcraft was set afterward and Starcraft 2 will come out before any Starcraft Online ever 'sets foot' on your PC I would project it comes after Starcraft 2. This would also give them the freedom to create and modify as they wish just like they did with World of warcraft. I can see some deviations from the cannon lore also.

The inevitable 'mount' question:
Will there be other forms of travel in Starcraft Online? The short and long of it is Yes and No. I can see non-combat mounts being an option such as a motorcycle (terran), non-combat dragoon (protoss), or a lurker-like creation (zerg) being available to get you from point a to point b but I don't see any hope for 'vehicle combat' on the ground. (Update:) Let me correct that, siege tanks in PVP is not out of the question.

So lets touch on space combat. How would you like to pilot your own Wraith? Okay, getting from planet to planet would be easier but what about space combat? I can see that in Starcraft Online but don't hold your breath. As much as I would love to have intense dog fights in zero-g I doubt it will be introduced (at least initially). Take some time to play Tie Fighter blizzard!

Okay here comes another question. How will PvP be handled? I'd say faction vs. faction would not be out of the question nor would be realm vs. realm. The same PvE/PvP realm mechanics could be used from world of warcraft, this much is true. I don't see there being language restrictions nor intense faction hostilities in Starcraft Online though so my guess is that PvP will definitely be similiar to WoW and heavy on the arena matches. The main point here is the contesting of worlds, not cities. (Take a hint from planetside) Maybe your hostile but mineral-rich planetoid can be taken by any faction, making it harder for other factions to get certain minerals.