3.2 Million Subscribers Lighter – Why MoP is STILL the Best Expansion!

wow_group_by_lye1-d4s13v0

This is prompted by the quarterly results Blizzard publish regularly, and some of it may be less then precise. I apologize if this piece is based too much on opinion, but I feel there is a compelling argument to be made and relish a chance to lay my mind out on the paper. I hope you can follow along and enjoy!

This week, it was released that with Quarter twos departure, so went another 800k subscribers. This leaves World of Warcraft at 6.8 Million subscribers, despite starting MoP with 10million.

It is no real surprise that these 800k exoduses have happened, so let’s start there and build the case as we go.

You can see this as evidence all around the “fan” sites that are popular. So many people fail to see a reason to play MoP when there is no new content planned. Among them, there are likely many people who very much enjoy World of Warcraft, and are simply burned out doing Siege of Orgrimmar for week 1024. Those people, I wouldn’t blame, although I am sorry to hear where these cases end up effecting your love of the game more then they should.

Regardless, among these 800k people is a very definitive type of person. These people manage to keep themselves just informed enough to be grossly misinformed. These people manage to play the game vigorously, but do nothing within it. These people manage to critique the game’s difficulty and interest level, yet have 4 digit achievement points. These people… are the majority that play WoW now.

jadeforest4As mentioned, the perfect microcosm as to why 3.2 million people unsubscribed from an expansion that brought you Brawler’s Guild, Connected Realms, Challenge Modes, Proving Grounds, brand new PVE end game ideas (eg timeless isle,) an entirely new type of group content (eg scenario,) the list can go on for the rest of this article. Point is, MoP has featured more content added to the game then the rest of the expansions have put in combined, yet people still make these hollow comments about the game and its direction.

Realistically, it may feel like too little, too late. Hopefully, most people don’t see these patch notes and list of features and think they are bad. Hopefully they just can’t find the interest to try them all, and don’t have that enchanted spark any more.

But for as many people that quit that have made their claims public, there is always that group harping on things they feel that should be added that already have been.

Now why this mentality has developed is another issue all together. It was around Cataclysm that I first ran into it, but I doubt it started there. That’s just when “popular” faces added their names to the lot. I’m not going to be naming names, but in my mind I can name a huge contributor of it, and realize immediate that him and so many others fall into this same pool. Asking for challenge when they are dead on the floor. Asking for more content when they aren’t even max level. Claiming the game has changed negatively when they haven’t even tried any of the new content.

All it takes is one influential voice to plant this dastardly seed. And boy are its roots deep by now.

Unfortunately, this is the landscape we reside in. The best route around it is to ignore it. I am not this passive though. I fancy myself a crusader of sorts, playing an active role in stirring the pot to help those people unwind their foolish arguments and expose them to be the weak, ill-conceived notions that they are. Very rarely do I expect to obtain anything positive, but so many people follow the mass notion blindly, that when they receive resistance, they quickly fluster and backtrack.

Thinking linearly on this matter should be quite revealing, especially when you can trace a source. Thinking rationally should do even more, especially when you understand where I am coming from.

So here we are, back at the start. In an era that featured these types of changes we find ourselves behind the 8ball, trying to discern what happened and sift through the rubble. In reality, the rubble is all there is and ever was. It was never concrete, and no one ever appreciated order. People love sporadic, and they love spontaneous, and as soon as the opposite notion gets twisted into their conscious, they immediately believe their happiness to be over.

Knowing this, let’s conclude precisely on why this expansion lost so many players, and gained something that could never be surpassed.

dark-animusFor a start, when this many people quit especially when the expansion has been so thorough, you know that a LOT of casuals have been among them. I’m not talking about people who don’t raid. I’m talking about people who do NOTHING. They do nothing in the game, and still have a sour taste in their mouth. Whether they left with regret or hatred, it is best for them to go. It hurts Blizzard’s pocket no doubt, but they are not contributing to the game. If those people ever come back, it proves they didn’t leave for the right reasons anyway. If it were up to me, I would want to expose them for the ungrateful saps they are and do everything I could to remove them actively.

This has been noticeable over the years, and has been talked about many times, and is honestly a feature I would pay thousands for. When we first started this guild, we were bombarded with people who had no gear, no knowledge, and zero clue asking about joining and getting hostile when we said no. This confused, immature player type is slowly being eliminated, and while it means less people overall, it equates to a higher percentage of player you want to be around.

You see, when the fat is trimmed, you are left with a much smaller, more lean selection. And with features like the cross region premade group builder, the community comes closer and closer together. Gone are the days of sifting through the millions of children in trade chat. Sure, those children are still there, but every “quarter” their numbers are trimmed even more.

Every expansion, I grow more and more attached to the features of the game, and grow more and more invigorated as the community progresses from a rampant daycare to a cultivated garden Newton would be proud of. Selective breeding at its finest, as only Father Time could muster.

Its unlike Blizzard shares the same sentiment as I, but I’ll say it one last time to prove how happy I actually am.
This expansion lost 3.2 million people. Some of them were great friends of mine. Most of them couldn’t be missed if I was their mother.

And every single post about how the game is “dead” makes me more and more sure of this. 3.2 million people left a game because they heard some one say it was featuring a kid’s theme and no challenge. 3.2 million people fled a game in droves because everyone else alongside them were doing so. 3.2 million people may come back, but they will fall to the same cycle again, because they do nothing regularly, and have built up no community within a guild or otherwise.

3.2 million people have unsubscribed, and I could never have been happier about it. See you in Draenor.

screenshot_immerseus6

Apexis Crystals – Form and Function as the Superior Valor!

apexs

Before we begin, I would recommend checking out the accompanying video to this article on the WoWStratics Youtube channel!

So for those who haven’t been exploring the beta as I have, it appears with the removal of Valor Points, we see ushered in a new system known as Apexis Crystals. For the record, these have nothing to do with the Apexis shards and crystals from the BC rep and vendors, so don’t you worry!

What they function as is a replacement for Valor along multiple frames, and I am here to explain to why they will do so successfully.

To fully understand, when I discuss their usage and parallel with Valor Points, I am referring to how Valor at one point was used as a raid gear equalizer. Starting late in the Burning Crusade and continuing on until Cataclysm, we saw Valor points award as a turn in raid-viable pieces used mostly as catch up for those unlucky, or substitute for those not keen on raiding.

In TBC especially, this idea truly thrived. They were obtainable from killing any important boss, including Raid Bosses but also Heroic 5 man bosses. This allowed those raiding to get a significant advantage in gear income, but also allowed those only interested in 5 man content to also still improve their gear sets.

In Wrath and Cataclysm, the system was elaborated on, but was beginning to deteriorate into poverty. Once Cataclysm was in bloom, we saw the final fall, making it so only the end of dungeons as well as raid bosses dropped them, and awarding gear that was suboptimal in the scope of the current raid.

In MoP they took this concept to extremes and all but eliminated the casual grind option for players looking to supplement their current sets without much raid interaction. By first mandating reputation requirements upon spending, and then removing gear at all, Valor turned from its once esteemed vantage point to wallowing in the muck. Slight revival came in the way of the Gear Upgrade system, but this too was fleeting and after Blizzcon 2013, it was announced that Valor had served its last purpose and would not be following us back in time.

RIP

RIP

With the death of valor, comes the birth of Apexis Crystals, filling the exact same niche we just ventured through. They will be available seemingly from a daily that rewards a large chunk, but can also be looted in small quantities from regular mobs, select rares, and other objectives. As shown in the video, they can be turned in in large quantities for gear that comes in three stages.

Stage 1 is 630 item level blue gear, equivalent to Heroic 5 man pieces. The price on these cost between 10k – 14k Apexis, which will likely take two weeks or more to obtain.

Stage 2 is 645 item level epic gear, equivalent to LFR or World Epics. The price on these is an additional 4-7k Apexis and a turn in of the previous item.

The final stage is 655 item level epic gear, equivalent to Progression epics. The price is an additional 4-7k Apexis with a turn in of the previous piece.

Now, let’s get down to why this is a much more suitable concept, even as it stands right now.
In the current beta build, the only real option comes from a daily quest as mentioned. Its very likely there will be addition ways to obtain these, but either way it appears to be taking about two weeks or more to get the first piece of 630 gear.  I can see reasonably reducing this to one full week for a single blue item.

From there, it would take the same amount of time to upgrade it from that blue to a 655 epic piece. And this is where the magic comes in…

By doing this, you prevent invalidation of raids by bots or heavy farmers within the week where there are none available, but also allow those interested in putting forth the effort to have a nice reward after some time.

You see, the reason the Valor concept was so popular in TBC was because it gave players an option to obtain gear outside of their progression target, and fostered work towards this goal. This kept five man heroics and previous raids populated.

Now, this will keep the open world populated, and very likely other places as well depending on what they do to augment the drop situation.

If it were up to me, I would do the following:

Offer a small amount (50 – 75?) from completing a Heroic Five man once a day, and offer an even smaller amount for subsequent ones (10-25). This mirrors the current valor strategy in MoP.

Offer a large amount from Challenge Modes in general, but perhaps as a daily boon and then smaller amounts afterwards. I feel 200~ awarded per CM would be suitable, but would understand 200 per daily, and 100 or less after that.

Offer a moderate amount from each raid boss killed. Maybe 50-75 per, making old raids viable. Of course, limit it per raid, not difficulty.

What this would do:

Foster good players having a use for 5 man Heroic content past week 1. They boast their difficulty is increased, so the more skilled and geared players the better, especially knowing most will be completed using LFD.

Foster Challenge Mode expansion past cosmetic rewards. This was a HUGE issue with MoP. CM was easily the greatest feature added to the game at any point (aside from connected realms for longevity) but suffered from a distinct lack of interest from most players. They represent a true challenge, and for those not interested in timers, this creates an even greater usage. I can see it now! “LF 2 DPS for CM Apexis run pst!” Perfection!

Foster old raid completion. One of my favorite things about Classic, TBC, and Wrath was going back to raids I overgeared and doing them either to help others, or to obtain some secondary benefit. Achievements and the like were a fine addition, but realistically, there is nothing in MoP that makes anyone want to do ToT. I’d do LFR, but no one appreciates you like they do in a premade group. Making Apexis drop in there means people will consider it something they would like to do.

inv_misc_apexis_crystal

Finally, the discussion of a cap is important. Currently its 20k. Meaning you can never hold enough for 2 single pieces, but can upgrade 3-4 at once with the same stash. I find this a suitable idea, and makes much more sense but am worried about the 5k limit that is displayed on the item on the Beta. Is this a weekly cap!? If so…

NO NO NO.

They need to remove weekly caps entirely, and if they do so, they will have achieved the results I have discussed. If they do not, then the system will falter just as Valor did.

Let’s hope they understand this, because if its done right it can really work very well hand in hand with more difficult 5 man heroics as well as the in-game premade group finder!

Facial Customization + Death of Blood Elves!?

blood elf fate

Mr. Chris “Disco Ball” Robinson is at it again folks! He has recovered from his major hand injury and is back to the grind of dishing out magic through digital graphics. Why just yesterday he announced that the original idea to implement multiple races over post launch periods was not a reality! He also put the law down on the facial issues people were constantly complaining about… and I must say he did so in a big way.

Full artcraft post: http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/15029247/artcraft-updated-facial-customization-7-30-2014

After reading you see just what I mean. Its quite a spectacular option, and despite knowing negative amounts about this type of art, I can immediately say I am impressed. From what I imagine, it means we will all be allowed to make a custom face with its own unique skeleton and design.

The immediate concern people bring up however, is that this needs to retroactively fit the characters we previously have. I assume it will, but of course this wouldn’t be 2014 if people didn’t take a great addition and find a way to complain about it. The prime comment is “if there is this much diversity in changing exact faces, we need to be able to access it in game for our already-made characters.” They suggest the barber shop as that solution, which I can get behind.

The only thing I could possibly find disappointing is if they did not retro-fit our characters, and we had to pay to make the face we wanted. I HIGHLY DOUBT this will happen, but its one realistic way it could turn into a negative experience.

Either way, the sheer magnitude of design depth this process carries is impressive enough. I find it really hard to say anything remotely negative about the new character models just because of the sinking feeling I get that my own words insinuate these 6 months of work from the art team WASN’T worth the time.

It obviously is, and anyone who says otherwise is living in dream land, or perhaps is legally blind! In fact, nearly every “issue” you can find with them has either been meticulously addressed and solved, or is just an issue of comparisons.

WTF her eyelashes are so pointy...

WTF her eyelashes are so pointy…

For example, the trendy thing to do now is complain about the running animations. Everyone is all “OH EM GEE these are so bad wow.” But that suggests that while using the previous models for the last 10 years, you had said at least once “OH EM GEE I love the current run animation.” Which you did not.

Listen folks, you can’t have it both ways OK? You can’t dislike the old to the point they innovate it and then complain about the innovations. I could see if they weren’t such massive improvements, but to be upset with ANYTHING about the new models is just slapping the art team in the face. I can’t even begin to imagine what this expansion was like for them, knowing that MoP was easily the most attractive visual product to date, and WoD Landscapes have dramatically improved as well as all the effort into the character models.

I am very impressed.

Well… I was…

Until Disco Ball posted this…

Now, if you don’t know me, know this. I play Blood Elf. My Main Paladin is blood elf, and pretty much any other option is as well. I love the interrupt, and I loved the extra mana. That’s going away now, regrettably, but this news is particularly damning.

After speaking so highly, it seems I get snubbed indirectly. But ya know what? I don’t mind at all!

Truthfully, it does kind of disappoint me, but I have known from the start Blood Elf would not make it in. Around Blizzcon, they stated that there would be a lot of races added in over patches, but now it appears as if EVERY race other then Blood Elf will be ready. So that is a huge consolation for me, and its hard to be upset knowing that they are actually doing a better job then they anticipated.

Even the explanation as to why Draenei seems reasonable to me.

Realistically, the only actual disappointment is the morons attached to these tweets. Amazing example is on the first one I linked down here.

Mornmagor: 
Till 6 months after WoD release? I hope you’re joking.

Where is that said? These subhuman illiterates are the ones who ruin the community, especially considering the original plan was to have multiple races not make the cut.

And so we return to the original issue. People find a way to complain about things that are blatant upgrades from the previous situation. They complain about minute features of a model that is not even comparable to the previous in terms of quality. And now they find a way to generalize an argument against Blizzard’s work ethic.

That is the most despicable form of insulting one could muster, in my mind. To insult some one or some thing for choosing to do a poor job, when in reality they are actually doing a much better job then they were previously is just wrong on a hundred levels. Its ignorant, bull-headed, misinformed, patronizing, and just plain dumb.

For anyone who even remotely thinks that because Blood Elves aren’t making it in launch this expansion is now some how worse off, please just keep your mouth shut and go outside for 2 minutes.

I can’t say enough about how enraging it is to hear this around every corner, especially when none of it is even remotely accurate. As I said, I have played a Blood Elf since TBC. It has been my main for that long now, and even I don’t mind hearing this. I don’t mind it because I ALREADY KNEW IT. When they said “some races will be patched in later” you assume TBC races are on that list, do you not?
Maybe these people don’t. These people who want to look at Blizzard posting about Chris Metzen’s Birthday celebration as a reason for the downfall of the video game.

Either way, it is what it is. I couldn’t be more excited for WoD and really look forward to seeing the facial options for my Paladin when the time comes. Don’t forget, 5.1 was only 2 months after MoP’s launch! I’m sure we will see them shortly.

Gamescom WoD Special Event – Juicy Speculation!!

gamescom

This has gotten more and more exciting over the weeks, and now seeing that Blizzard (for the first time) has actually declared they will be livestreaming a “special announcement” at a games convention that isn’t their own…

Well you gotta believe this is gonna be a big deal. How could it not be.

For those who haven’t seen, here is all you need to know:
http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/blog/14963904/blizzard-at-gamescom-website-and-live-stream-29-07-2014

Click to Enlarge!

Click to Enlarge!

The image and the link above it say it all. A four day game’s convention beginning August 14th, opening with a “Special Event” has never been anything other then major and it lines up PERFECTLY with what I have been hinting and predicting at for a month now. Let’s summarize why, with certainty, this will announce the release date shortly after.

– 4 bosses into Heroic (previously “normal) raid testing with an instant 100 server as well as 90-100 leveling functions.

– Accurately predicted start of Heroic 5 man and raid testing with insights stemming from vendors being placed as well as hints from Blizzard representatives.

– Missing link is 6.0 PTR and patch in general. Sticking by prediction that this coming week will see it’s launch. Mark your calendars!

– By August 14th we should have tested most of Heroic if not all, and will likely see near final class tuning based on frequency of patch note updates.

– Final major convention before Blizzcon. PAXeast held an incredible announcement.

– In France.

You might be thinking to yourself, what does France have to do with it? Absolutely nothing. Its just a coincidence.

But ya, so let’s talk about assumptions based on these previous predictions and upcoming facts.

Now to me, it seems all but certain a release date will come and not just any release date. You see, if Blizzard is to follow in their own footsteps, they are very likely releasing this expansion October 14th.

What this guess is based on is the 2 month release date announcement of MoP, Cataclysm, and Wrath. Each time, it has been as close to 2 full months previous, but never on a stage like this. For the first time, Blizzard will not only hype their own game on a world wide stage, but will break the hearts of all the morons clamoring about a “Last day possible” release target. This even gives a wide berth to prepare for Blizzcon – 3 weeks and a few days. Even more so, this aligns with the three weeks it took to receive the 5.1 PTR from launch of MoP. Its extremely likely that 6.1 will be in the works by then as well, so expect something big at Blizzcon!

Think about it logically, if you are still on the fence. Does it make sense for Blizzard to travel all the way to France, a land known historically for extreme crime and poverty – risking their own lives and well fare, just to announce the game is coming out 4 months from then?

Of course, maybe I am wrong and looking way too much in to this. If you are from the future looking back on this, feel free to call me out if I am wrong. But I honestly, have been feeling clairvoyant ever since July Fourth and Rob Pardo’s departure. Everything seems very sketched to plan for Blizzard and I feel I can see their steps before the make them.

Maybe people confuse this sort of “prediction” with a schedule, but upon any close examination you can tell its quite the opposite. If this was planned from the start, we wouldn’t be just hearing about the Gamescom hullabaloo 2 weeks prior to it. They wouldn’t have announced Beta Key giveaways at PAXeast just 1 week before the show, months after they were sold out.

Sure maybe the 2 month prediction is “scheduled.” Maybe now that we are this close to the thing, its easier for them to make timelines to follow. But the point and facts of the matter overall is that Blizzard does NOT operate on a schedule, but DOES have very noticeable habits. Being an observational scientist before all else, it is really resounding to look at any data series involving release timelines and the like.

So go ahead, mark your calendars. Don’t take work off quite yet, but I’m saying with extreme confidence that we see an early October release. The ripple of that means September 16th has to be 6.0 at the latest. It can be as early as August, but they said it will be out for at least a month if not 6-8 weeks prior.

If we assume September 16th, and know it will take at least a full month to test, we have to see the PTR this coming week. Realistically it can’t be anything but, especially if they push the 6-8 week thing as an option, unless the ptr cycle is abbreviated.

 

Back to Gamescom, you should also realize that if for some reason a release date ISN’T looming, it will most certainly feature the WoD opening Cinematic. I’m looking forward to a good one, but after comparing anything to Wrath of the Lich King’s, it is truly hard to compete.

Either way, I don’t envy all those people scuttling around that huge hall. For once, Blizzard is allowing us to take a part of the show from home instead of just read some dissertation about all the events transcribed in half-english.

For once, we will see an official announcement as epic as this one in the proper venue. For those that will be there, they get to see it live in action on the biggest stage. For those at home, we get to experience it together, live, with everyone else. Before I leave you, let’s talk about the announcement and its timezone implications.

From the image displayed, we see it takes place at 1800 live in Cologne, France. For those without a clock imbedded in your brain, that translates to the following:

6PM CEST – Cologne, France time.

5 PM GMT – United Kingdoms

12 Noon EST – East Coast USA

9 am PST – West Coast USA

Some retarded time – Korea

Boom get hyped. To all the non believers. See ya in Cologne.

CAN'T WAIT!

CAN’T WAIT!

 

90-100 First Impressions – My Path + How2 Level Fast!

leveling

So this weekend they finally released a concurrent WoD Leveling experience with all zones and questing paths available. Before we begin talking about my experience and route, let’s discuss two very quick ways to level on the beta. NOTE: It is unlikely these will be recommended for live, just like farming the birds in MoP.

1. Pet Battles.
The reason pet battles are OP right now is because they give, on average, the same experience as a quest AND there is only ever 1 pet. On live, there will be three pets in each fight, so it will take 3x longer by default. Honestly, I have leveled toons solely through pet battling from 88-90 on Live, so don’t think it can’t be done. It just becomes arguably less optimal.

The trick to this on the beta is Nagrand. Get there as soon as you hit 98 and go towards the center of the zone. There are pets you can battle that are ALL either critter or beast pets. Stock up on Mechanical moves for the Beasts, and Beasts for the critters and go in looking to 2 shot them. If you can, you just completed a quest in less than 1 minute. There will be dozens around as well, and some times there will be actual mobs near or blocking them. Kill them, because they drop an item called “Big Soup Bone” or something like that. These can be turned in 25 at a time at the Ring of Trials and give as much exp as the quests as well. I believe its not meant to give experience each time, but if this was the case, you could also add this to the list, especially if you were a class that can do strong control AOE like Hunter or Mage.

 

2. Bonus Objectives and Vignettes

Example of Bonus Objectives.

Example of Bonus Objectives.

These are even more ludicrous but towards the end they stop operating as they should. Bonus Objectives are a new leveling option, and will appear on your map as a set of crossed swords. When you enter the area you will automatically be entered into a quest that ranges from killing a ton of mobs to actually performing other actions. Long story short, these are easy as hell, especially in the first three zones. They give percentage exp, so no matter what level you are you get the same exp as well, which equates to enough to fill 3 full bars! Its easily possible to get half the levels you need to 100 by doing these alone, but some of them don’t work for a variety of reasons.

There are 2 in Gorgrond that have objectives that can’t be completed. One is to kill these spider webs that just evade, and the other is to crush eggs that aren’t actually clickable.
In Spires of Arak, the top right one has an objective that can’t be completed either because the mobs don’t drop the stone you need to finish it.

Either way, on the beta they are worth going way out of your way for. Even do the one in SMV. Its three free bars of experience!
I would NOT count on these giving this much exp on live, and maybe they aren’t even meant to be percentage based. It will still be a cool thing to do as you pass by though.

 

Actual Questing and leveling.

So since I was able to level my actual Paladin, I started at about 25 percent through 90 just because of spillover from leveling to 90 in MoP. I assume that’s the reason, otherwise you just automatically start with some experience lol?

Either way, I was able to get to near 91 before I even left tanaan for Frostfire Ridge and was certainly done with it before my Garrison was finished. I then hit 92 around the time you are doing those quests that come after you return to Bladespire Fortress from saving Wor’gol. That’s only about 1/3rd through the zone, and some of our guildies stayed behind but it severely hindered their speed. Honestly, on live I think I will do the same. Frostfire is an AMAZING zone, and Spires of Arak is horrible, so the least I can cut out of there the better for me. If you stay in Frostfire, you will likely get to just short of 94 before you have done all quests. Next stop is Gorgrond.

Gorgrond immediately turns into a gold mine, as you can pick the lumber mill with the Shredder perk and fly all around the zone every few minutes. Its a huge time saver in some places, so make sure you have it available and use it for damage too when the chance presents itself. I absolutely FLEW through 92-94 at this point, mostly because this is when we first discovered the vignettes being so potent, but also just because the zone gives so much more exp then Frostfire. By this point, we are at around 5 hours played time, with some downtime getting things set up. We did complete every single quest available though, as the zone seems incomplete.

Next zone is Taladar, home of Shattrath! The quests here begin to delve pretty deep into this story, but once again the bonus objectives were my main focus. because of this, I only did about half the quests in the zone before getting to 96. I literally just did the starting quests in the zone to build the base, then went and did the few vignettes and was 95. At this point, I realized once again how OP the outpost perks are. You can get this artillery blast that will absolutely obliterate ANYTHING including players. It does 4-5 blasts of around 150k damage, so make sure you use it on any large mobs and rares. Around this point, I retired for the evening and concluded my first sitting. By the end of 96, I had played for about 6.5 hours, with at least a half hour, if not more, wasted time to beta specific things like setting up specs and action bars + DCs.

Upon resuming with my second sitting, I came to know the Spires of Arak. Don’t get me wrong, if you like gloom and birds you’ll love this place. I just absolutely hated it. Its the one zone where you realize not having flying is absolutely brutal. There are a bunch of places where there are two-three levels and if you fall or have to get up to one, you will rue the decision to come here. What’s worse is that its often the case where the quest helper tracking shows in only 1 dimension and you have to guess which long cave you need to enter.

Now, a huge part of my frustration was the incomplete quests in the zone. About half way through the main Arakoa storyline you run into MULTIPLE quests that are all very unfinished. There are three quests that simply can’t be turned in for a very long time, and then the final two quests just don’t work at all. Meanwhile others require you to loot things that are incredibly rare – likely not intended.

For fans of the lore, I’ll say this zone is probably one of the most revealing. We learn all about how the “Arakoa” we know from Outlands come to be, and get to put a face to names like Terokk, and even encounter Talon King Ithiss from the BC Five man! Its amazing lore wise, but brutal.

The two areas I will for sure do each time I can is the goblin area wayyyy to the south, and the Horde v Alliance garrison quests right across from where you set up your outpost. These are extremely easy and don’t involve any areas that are filled with trees and caves.

Completing this zone took me at least 4-5 hours, if not longer. I’d say a full hour of it could have been avoided by not messing with broken quests, but the facts of the matter are that mobs start getting legitimate healthpools and just AOEing 15 birds down is no longer an option. Around this point is when you need to slow down, take deep breaths, and realize your Mythic gear is losing its potency. It will carry you all the way, but its not gonna be as easy as it was in Frostfire.

From here, we finish in Nagrand. Without question, the best zone in the entire video game. Not just the expansion either! It is absolutely breath-taking, and all the quests are great. There are a few that were very unfinished, but the lore in this zone is the lore you want to see. We learn all about the Blademasters and a few other key pieces of lore that I don’t want to spoil. Even Hemmet made it here! And so did the Ring of Blood!

Around this time, I was starting to lose interest in leveling on the beta, so I just finished the last level with pet battles and soup bone turn ins. It cut the final two levels down to about 4 hours complete, but as I said there is no way pet battling will be that quick, so I’d imagine 5-6 hours for the last two levels is more appropriate.

Who knows though, I’ve never been a speed runner.

If you guys have any questions about leveling feel free to let me know. 90-96 is entirely painless, but things get messy towards the end just because its only been a few days since these quests became testable. Everything should iron out in time!

Full 90-100 Testable! – Line of Predictions Continue!

latest

For those of you who haven’t been following, starting around July 4th, I began predicting a series of events including each zone’s release, the testing of 5 man heroics, the testing of raids, and the completed 90-100 test including the PVE max level servers.

If you are among those people, I am accepting oaths of fealty. All who wish to do so may appear before me within the fortnight, or be branded a traitor to the crown.

Ahem.

Ya so, how bout that call huh Metro? How bout it indeed. I called it on the money, with a few days to spare! Before August on both Raid Testing and most importantly, the instant 100 / leveling completion.

This is really big news, all joking aside guys. I hope you understand why by yourself, but if its not doing it for you, maybe these recent tweets will do it for you.

Try to ignore the morons commenting around these circumstances, but please do understand what these types of announcements mean. Whether or not it was planned as a 6.1 patch, it means its already something they are working through. This being brought up now tells me they are ready to call the final director’s cut and wrap up the WoD world and landscape. Its only been a week since the middle two zones were implemented, and now we already have the entirety of it.

Sure, maybe it wont come fully furnished or completely finished, but the fact that we are even LOOKING at confirmation for future patches and stirring that pot proves what I have been saying for quite some time now.

Let’s be clear as day here, so the next time this happens I can be even more proud.

Raid Testing has started before August – a process that historically has encompassed 4-6 weeks.

Level 100 is testable simultaneously and there will be level 100 premade pve characters – being one of the latest additions to MoP testing.

Less then 4 days in between first two tests – historically 4-6 days ramping near daily.

Raid testing concludes with Mythic in Mid August and wraps up before September.

CM and remainder of heroics open 1-2 weeks from now.

So it is written, so it shall be! Spoken from the mouth of Metro!

One complication is of course the 6.0 PTR. If we ARE on track for October package, then whats taking this so long? They claimed 6.0 should be out at least 1 full month before the expansion, up to as many as 6 or 8 weeks. This is the one big whole in the entire idea, because if this were to be true, then surely it would have to be on the PTR by now? You would imagine they would want at least 2-3 weeks to test that, and if we are giving the 4 week minimum humor, that would mean if the PTR would have to go up next week to play into this as planned.

So do I add this to the myriad of prophecies? Why not man, why not?

So 6.0 PTR no later then week of August 5th. Mark your calendars!

——–

With some semblance of actual information, let’s discuss the process of raid testing and its stability so far.

As many of you may have noticed, this prior attempt was a sheer disaster. Now, the servers are delayed from launching because of an apparent explosion at the power plant…
Not shaping up to be anything worth mentioning, but I suppose worse things have happened.

Once again, if you guys are interested in joining us, feel free. You can add me at Metrolol#1195 on the beta and let me know you are a reader or fan or elephant or whatever. Doesn’t matter. Just let me know its you, so I can keep a headcount.

If things go to plan, we will die together in the halls of Blackrock Foundry. Should be fun.

More realistically though, if there are a bunch of server issues again, don’t expect much. Hard to take it serious when you literally can’t even log in, but if there is actual testing to be recorded and disseminated, I will be doing just that.

Working Clique – Just in Time for Raid Testing ;)

Clique

Finally we have our mousepress keybindings! Its been a long time coming, but with the inclusion of 5 man heroic dungeons as well as the raid testing this week, its a thing of great need.

If you would like to download it, you can find it here

http://www.mediafire.com/download/wdiedhd32zoche4/Clique+wod+beta.rar

Now it may not work the way you want it to, but I assure you once you understand what you are doing, it makes perfect sense. Allow me to walk you through exactly how you need to set this addon up. As a non-user myself outside of Beta, it took me a few minutes, but honestly the more I use it, the happier I am!

Clique to Enlarge!

Clique to Enlarge!

So anyway, that’s what the addon configuration would normally look like, minus the missing textures. Typically, or so I assume, you can bind direct from here by designating a mouse press and then selecting the spell.

In order to make this a reality on the beta, however, we need to do things the gritty way!

Navigate Here~

Navigate Here~

~Then here.

~Then here.

OK, so you have made it to the dark corner of Clique. After speaking with a few self proclaimed experts, this is apparently never used in Live WoW, but is obviously there in case the built in system fails. You see, each time you bind something with a mouse press it makes its own mouseover macro anyway, so instead of it doing it for us this time around, we are forced to take matters into our own hands!

The final image posted shows all you need to know, and honestly if you read the instructions there you should be all set. I’ll explain it more briefly though.

Click the Set Binding Button with whichever combination of mouse presses you wish. Modifiers like Shift + Right Click work very well, so feel free to use them.
Now in the text field, you need to create your own macro.

It needs to be mouse over targeting, as don’t forget, when you click some ones name you are by default mousing over them as well!
Here is an example of one of my spells.

/cast [@mouseover] Eternal Flame

For those really lost, the “macro” is broken down into two main parts.

/cast [@mouseover]

This part is universal for every spell you wish to bind to keypress. Make sure you have it there, otherwise you will just have to target the players as well. And that’s no fun!
The second part is the actual spell name. You can take the first part, copy + Paste it, and just insert it into every bind you wish for ease of set up.

After you have your spell bound, click save and repeat the process with different binds.

Hopefully that’s a clear enough explanation, but as always if you have any questions feel free to ask!

____

Oh you are still here? Good, let’s talk about this raid testing coming up on Monday…

So for the record, did I call that or what? Ya ya, I know I did, I don’t need your confirmation.

But there is still a LOT to be done, so let’s not call it prophetic yet. I’m still saying that this means we aren’t that far from a release, and apparently Blizzard employees have been tweeting images of Grom and the Dark Portal, saying things like “it looks strange” etc.

To me, that says 6.0 PTR, but we shall see what this teaser actually is.

Furthermore, Syiler found a tweet from Muffins saying that Brewfest and Hollow’s End will receive updated resources, but described Hollow’s End to have “made the cut” and will be tested in the next beta build. This to me screams that they are anticipating coming out with the expansion around then, but close enough to Hollow’s End that they aren’t worried about Brewfest. It will receive its upgrade the following year, is how I read that, ya know?
I think you do.

So that’s October to November, and it makes complete sense to me. If they can get it out in that time there will be plenty of time for Blizzcon hype as well as maybe even a 6.1 teaser there.

Last thing I want to talk about is the actual raid testing and the people we will have. Firstly, I encourage any players who are on the beta and want to test with Syiler, Meoni, and my Guild to add me at Metrolol#1195. Please don’t add me on Live, my friends list is full. Just hit me up on the beta, and let me know you are a Stratics reader or fan or whatever you wanna call it. There is a high chance we will need you for any raid testing or anything else you want to do. I’m always interested when I’m on, and when I’m not I may be able to be convinced that I should be interested!

Anyway, the raid testing starts this Monday at 430 EST, so expect to see us all together and Syiler hopefully streaming what will likely end up being a horrible, lag-filled crashfest, but MAY result in something worth recording.

If they can manage to push these out over the next two weeks, we may see Mythic, Challenge Mode, and “Normal” (Flex) testing in the coming weeks. That means all they have left to do is get the leveling servers wrapped up and we are ready for launch before September even comes!
Wishful thinking, likely!

Get Skada on WoD Beta! – Addons Confirm Prediciton!

skada

First thing’s first, since I know its what you all came here for:

Click Here to download Skada for 18566

http://www.mediafire.com/download/l4281p3u3mahpeq/Skada_Beta18566.zip

Now, stick around because we have much more to discuss. Obviously, skada allows you to view and track everything the combat logging discussed last week does but in game. This is probably pretty important for a lot of people, but hopefully it allows you to see the long term goal and realize that the things I have been talking about for 2 prediction posts now are actually coming true.

With the allowance of addons, those who develop them are already hard at work making stable usable versions of our favorites. Skada was the first to happen, but I assume I type others are following suite.

This couldn’t have come at a better time either, as alongside Addons, we have 3 heroic five mans to test! If you hadn’t read previously, I predicted Heroics testable this week, using the Flasks/Enchants + teleport guy as a precursor. I assumed it was to access dungeons we haven’t had access to, but its for an even more important reason.

Ion recently confirmed their usage by explaining that we can NOT queue for the heroics, likely because of the proving grounds requirement. In order to test them, we need to form a group, then use the NPC to take us there immediately. This further elaborates to what I was hypothesizing on with Challenge Mode testing, and allows us to throw speculation to the wind on what this man’s usefulness is.

Honestly, I understand why people may still doubt, but everything that I have logically presented has happened along a reasonable timeline. I think this proves we are really close to raid testing. All the beta keys + addons + Heroic dungeon testing and portals there + enchants and gems.

Its huge, frankly. Hard to ignore. The one piece of the puzzle still missing is actual PVE gear for the level 100s. This will likely be something that comes in quite late, and maybe even after raid testing begins. Regardless of its timeframe for introduction, I believe it is clear we are well on our way. The beta is in full force now, there are hundreds of thousands of people invited and testing, and real change is coming.

There has been so much improved on since this time last month that its hard to even qualitatively estimate, but at first glance it certainly would appear they are pressing for that release.

Even Bashiok agrees!

To Game or not to Game: A parent’s guide to WoW introduction

Age Requirement

“Mommy! I want to see the spider pet!” My seven year old asks this often. I don’t know if it’s because it’s blue, sparkly, or multi-legged. Whatever the reason I oblige and pull it up on my Night Elf Hunter. She laughs hysterically and tries to take control. Eventually, I know she’s going to be playing all on her own just like the sixteen-year-old who is sighing at the desk across the room. She’s fresh in Outlands and decided she wanted to take on a Fel Reaver. Maniacally, I grin at her. I know a lot of parents who let their kids play at an early age. That didn’t happen in this house. I waited until last year. And before you ask why she’s only just now in Outlands when she started last year, she wasn’t sure at first if she liked it. She got bitten with the gaming bug again two weeks ago and has now been inseparable from it since. So then, why did I introduce it last year and not when she was thirteen? Well, I wouldn’t call thirteen age appropriate honestly. In my opinion there are factors to consider before you put your child in a Multi-player Universe, let them create a character, and say have it. And that’s after they establish an interest.

For starters, there is the basic control of the components. In today’s age our kids know how to work a keyboard and a mouse by two. Wonderful, now teach them how to control both at the same time. If you can manage that, we can move on to the second requirement. I toss how well they read both words and mapping in to this too, since you have to pay attention to the quests and the maps. Toss in math skills for the auction house here as well.

Do they understand the difference between a game and reality? I wish I could just unequivocally say across board, SURE! But I know adults who seem to not be able to tell master this. That really has nothing to do with the game as much as it does the person playing it. And this feeds directly into my third requirement.

Can they exercise self-control? Let’s face it, people in these games range from wonderfully friendly to outright cruel. So when your child comes across a stranger in chat who is ranting about how their DPS rate sucks, are they going to get all butt-hurt and escalate the fight? Are they going to get off the computer and throw things? If the answer is yes, an MMO is maybe not the smartest way to go yet. I can see some parent now on the other side of this screen going, “Well I just let him log in and mine for me.” You would be totally right, if nodes and herbs weren’t constantly under attack from other gatherers. If you have herbing or mining, at some point you’re going to have your chosen target snatched away without any warning, and on any shard. It doesn’t just happen in a PvP environment.

And finally, are you the parent going to keep an eye on your child? This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Letting your kid or teen, have freedom in game is fine. But be responsible about it. Inform them that they cannot give out any personal information. Make them check in with you before they add someone to their friends list. Be there for help with quests and questions. Put them in your guild or a guild you trust. Check the language settings for guild chat. Make use of in game filters. Do not just accept that they are fine because they are playing something on computer. On the other side of the screen from them are actual people with completely different agendas, just like any other online system.

If you can look at this list and say, “I will be watching my child regularly. They are mature for their age. They won’t throw a tantrum when insulted by a stranger across the screen. They are in a guild I trust. They can handle the controls.” Then sure, by all means let your child play at thirteen. If you have to answer no to any of the above, then wait a year and re-examine where your child is at. Doing so will save you a lot of hassle from your second-generation gamer and a lot of bad feedback from the people who come into contact with your child.

While it boils down to each parents personal choices on what is best for their child, remember that in an MMO your choices affect others too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ridin The Waves – Predictions Continued!

Tahiti Wave

SO WAS I RIGHT OR WAS I RIGHT?
I will accept oaths of loyalty this coming evening. All who wish to commit their souls to my rule need but kneel and say the words.

Anyway…

Not confirmed yet, but another MASSIVE beta wave went out. Honestly, everyone I know now has it. Except like 2 people. There was a lot of speculation as to what criteria this wave consisted of, and even after blue response, I would offer a more likely solution.

Bashiok took to Reddit for some reason to explain, but I still don’t buy it. Let me tell you what I think and why it plays in to exactly what I was talking about with last week’s predictions.

When I logged on to WoW before raid, I was surprised to find nearly everyone in my guild received a WoD Beta invite. We were all laughing and talking about how great it was going to be. After a while, two new recruits logged on and noted they had NOT received a beta invite and were upset and surprised we ALL had. Like literally, the entire guild is in now minus these two new members.

As a joke, one of our leaders said “You didn’t get in because you joined after we killed garrosh. They only gave it to people who were there for the progression.” We all laughed, and continued discussing the implications of having a full guild in the test.

One seemed quite obvious, and was brought up by multiple people: When raid and other testing starts, we will all be able to participate!

Hmm…

Population who have received Beta.

Population who have received Beta.

So after a night of raiding, these ideas were really swirling in my head quite heavily. It became more and more pressing for me to ask around and see what was happening. So I asked two guild leaders on the server also running 25m Heroic raiding groups. One has been done with Garrosh since before we cleared it, and the other recently converted and just downed Siegecrafter for the first time this weekend.

The 14/14H officer returned a jovial “Ya man, like the entire guild got in lol.” The 12/14H officer was slower to respond and none to pleased when he did, offering a snide “No, why. I’ve been waiting for ever, but I never  get in to things like this. Doesn’t look like anyone else here did either.”

So, maybe a coincidence of course, and maybe a misunderstanding, but for the sake of this article we will progress UNDER THE ASSUMPTION that the beta wave targeted players that had been playing a long time with priority given to those 14/14H after a certain date.

But why would they do that, you might ask?
Well there are two pretty obvious reasons. I am probably giving Blizzard and their CMs WAY too much credit here, but put it this way. The “feedback” thread is a minefield. There is this one clown going on constantly about how the beta is terrible, how no one wants to play it, and how everything is broken beyond comprehension. Meanwhile, there have been 4 capped threads (=2000 and counting) over Flying in WoD, and another near capped thread on the Hubs changing places.

Not to mention the 10 threads a day about how bad the new Character Models are, along side how that one ability removed from each spec completely ruins the video game.

Its utterly horrid. It’s turned in to a general discussion forum honestly, and its to the point that no one there even plays the game seriously, let alone has serious feedback. For the record, if you are nitpicking the new models to the point of making 10s of posts on them, just stop playing the game. If you are staring at your characters face for that long in game then you should just go play a beauty simulator. The new models are amazing and a HUGE upgrade from what they were. You didn’t complain then, so don’t do it now.

ANYWAY…

Where was I? Oh ya, so they invite all these successful raiders to actually do content, instead of just complain about features that have no bearing on important parts of the game. But that isn’t the only reason they would do something this bold.

Once again, maybe too much read into this, but it seems pretty obvious that they are looking to elevate the build. They have announced the API changes needed to facilitate Addons, enabled Combat Logging functionality, and placed vendors with full enchants, potions, food buffs, and flasks. Now they invite a million~ 14/14H raiders!?

Raid testing is on its way boys.

On top of this, we have our confirmation that the next phase will hit the ground running.

That guy, who apparently works at Blizzard, goes on to say later in the string that the build will be up some time next week. This comes on the coattails of Foror saying that they have the other four zones ready, and the next builds will contain two at a time. How exciting is that

But given what we already knew, each time the leveling side gets something, the Level 100 server gets something else. How appropriate would it be to released the next wave of dungeons, wrap that up, and be testing heroics and CM by August? Raids shortly after? then 2-3 months of alternating day Raid testing and the end game is ready to be shipped!

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a LOT to do. They haven’t even added Pet Battling yet, and I know it sounds minor, but that has a lot to it. Not to mention all there is to do in Draenor at 100. Even with the server, we still need to test the end game pve outside instances.

Well anyway, hopefully you guys are as excited as I am. Stay tuned to the associated youtube channels as well as wow.stratics for all the coverage. And maybe some more wod beta key giveaways for those unlucky ;)