As raiding begins to crank up, I find myself for the first time without any raiding options open to me. My main guild’s GM has been more or less AWOL since a year ago, and shows no sign of starting to play again, and a potential "we’re getting the band back together" opportunity appears to have fallen through. So for the first time since BC1, I find myself with no plans to raid, no pressure to hit level cap, no pressure to do anything other than play whatever toon I want for as long as I want. Which is exactly what I’m doing.
There are many, I am sure, that will point out that LFR fills the gap, and lots of my guildies are going that route and are, at least on the surface, quite happy about it. Personally, I don’t consider "raiding" to be all about the content, and no number of Epics will alleviate the fact that I’m raiding with a bunch of strangers that I’ll probably never see again2. All of my fondest memories of raiding have more to do with the people I raided with than the raid experience itself. Sure, downing a boss was fun. But the whoops heard in Vent from nine3 of your closest comrades after hours of study, practice, effort, and wipes is What It Is All About, and anyone that disagrees is just itchin’ for a fight.
This is somewhat liberating, as I possibly change focus and attitude with regard to WoW. Ever since the breathtakingly awful reveal of WoD and its subsequent consistent misteps, I’ve become somewhat sour on Blizzard games. WoD is a fine expansion, there is no denying it, but my feelings of loyalty to the brand are greatly diminished. They will need to do a lot more of what they’ve been doing4 before they win my trust back.
And meanwhile, there’s Elite: Dangerous, and it’s shaping up to be something I’ll want to do. The time I expect it to stabilize after commercial release just so happens to coincide with the time that I’ll probably start to get bored with the tedious Garrison grind and other not-actually-a-daily-in-name dailies. The fact that a game that I’ve wanted for quite some time is coming up to speed in the next two to three months may have provided the final temptation to spring me out of this game.
Or, it may be another Wildstar, and my interest will die a silent death in the dark of night again. You just never know.
One of the oldest chestnuts in WoW gameplay discussions is between the various content “factions” – for example, raiders, casuals, PvPers, RPers, and so forth. There are at least four points of tension listed here, and there are probably more than that in reality.
Raiding has always been criticized as taking entirely too much development resources for the number of players that partake of it. Even with LFR now a thing, I suspect we’re looking at a maximum of 20% participation at all levels. Take away LFR and we’re probably closer to 10, or maybe, 5 percent of the entire game’s population.
And that of course is the crux of the critics’ argument – massive resources are being directed at something that only one out of five players actually experiences. While we don’t have head counts here, the critic will point to Blizz’s recent refrain of “that would cost a raid tier” as the reason they didn’t get around to doing the things other “factions” wanted to do.
Dance studio? Two raid tiers. Or maybe an expansion. Dancing’s hard, y’all.
At any rate, the thing we come away with is that raiding’s a Big F!cking Deal to the game designers and around 20% of the player base.
But I’m okay with that.
Watch this video. I’ll meet you on the other side.
Okay, ask the average Eve player and they’ll tell you that the images you saw in that video are atypical of the average game experience. Most of the time is spent micromanaging a plethora of skills, bots, build jobs, and other administrivia2. But the fact remains, these epic battles between huge fleets exist. They exist so hard that when they happen, the Web usually takes notice. It is not unusual for one of these massive battles – which I emphasize, often include ships worth tens of thousands of real-world dollars – to make the cut on cnn.com or other mainstream news site, even if it’s just to mock us geeks and our pathetic ways.
Here’s the thing. Raid-level encounters in Eve are not scripted or in any way influenced by CCP, the parent company of Eve. These encounters are completely organic, entirely generated by the goals and needs of the players, in the truest sandboxxiness sense.
And yet the parallels between these battles and WoW raiding, especially outside of LFR, are pretty stark3. And it illustrates why raiding in WoW is a thing that needs to keep happening, even if only one out of a hundred of us does it.
Because epic tales are important. They are part of our DNA as fantasy/scifi RPG players. Even if we can’t be part of the epic battles, even if we don’t make the cut for the realm’s greatest raiding guild, we can hear the stories and dream. This is the essential nature of gaming, in a way.
A new player class or race, updated professions, or even the Dance Studio are nowhere near as, well, “sexy” as an epic raid, even when experienced viscerally via youtube video or forum post or even word of mouth on the guild forums. Tales of great deeds are inspirational. Tales of blown opportunities in the skill-up grind for Engineering … not so much.
I imagine the average Eve player resents the hell out of the big Corps out there and their iron grip on Big Fleet Battles. But I suspect every dedicated Eve player that is NOT in one of those big Corps would probably jump at the chance to play even the smallest part in one of those gigantic space battles. To paraphrase Dave Scott, the commander of Apollo 15, I believe there’s something to be said for grandeur. At the end of the day, regardless of our place in the grand scheme of things, we all need something aspirational to drive us, to inspire us, to provide us with something a little bit out of reach that we might be able to grasp, if we play our cards right.
In game theory terms, it is a huge carrot for us to chase. Eve’s players drive both ends of that equation. If raiding was removed in WoW completely, I suspect something similar would happen here.
The question is, is it worth it for Blizz to sink resources into something like this? I suspect it depends on what the end result is, and I don’t mean boss drops. Just what is it that Blizz gets from raiding?
My main gripe with raiding has always been, it removes something from the average player’s personal experience. It’s not gear, but the story of the raid design itself. More than anything else, each raid provides a distinct tic mark in the lore of Azeroth. MC provided us with a limited understanding of Ragneros; Kara gave us much lore about Medivh; ICC was the capstone on Arthas’ arc; Deathwing was destroyed in one of those raids. Something something Pandaria. Garrosh has a plan. You get the picture. The raid endpoints of a content patch and/or expansion have been rather lore-heavy. Thanks to LFR, these have become potentially accessible to every player in the game willing to achieve a specific gearscore.
That’s not the point.
The point is, the primary lore delivery mechanism for WoW is, has been, and will continue to be, the raid. So as long as that remains the case, raids are extremely important to the health of the game, regardless of whether you participate directly or not. From a lore perspective, this matters. From a, er, spiritual perspective, it also matters.
Basically, the moment that someone decides that raids are no longer relevant to WoW is when WoW begins to die.
Unless an equally valid source of lore and epic content is identified.
To make sure players have access to them, we’ve added them to the Inscription vendors in Stormshield and Warspear. Alliance players can purchase them from Joao Calhandro, and Horde players can purchase them from Maru’sa.
Update 1:10 PM PST: We’re also working on adding Glyph of Cleanse (Paladin) and Glyph of Frostbrand Weapon (Shaman). Glyph of Cleanse will be added to the Inscription vendors like the other glyphs. Glyph of Frostbrand Weapon’s item is missing from the game files, so we can’t add it to the vendors via hotfix. Instead, it will be automatically taught to all Shaman level 75 or higher.
Update 1:47 PM PST: Glyph of Cleanse should now be available on the vendors, and Glyph of Frostbrand Weapon should now be automatically learned by all Shaman (although you may need to relog to pick it up).
There is a moment in the Shadowmoon Valley experience that is one of the most supremely heroic and noble and tragic and triumphant of the game so far. Nothing in all the expansions or the original game can match this for emotional punch or impact. It is truly one of the Big Moments of video gaming. This is a genuine “Aeris moment”. The people at Blizz that are responsible for this should take each other out for copious rounds of hard cider and pizza; they’ve achieved a high point in this franchise. I state this without hesitation.
Those of you that have seen the cinematic sneak peeks, or completed this zone, know of that which I speak.
And yet that there is more to the story of Shadowmoon Valley. You still have work to do, and you’re inspired to do so. And that, friends, is the point of a good cinematic. It drags you in and involves you in the story.
There is a scene before this in which you are involved in the final battle to save Karabor. You are participating in a future-vision with alt!Velen, and in the dream you fight beside him and Yrel. Just as things look grimmest, alt!Velen cries out and gives rise to the Holy Light, and the enemy begins to fall back! And then there is evil laughter, and Ner’zhul, and then … well, I won’t spoil it, but if you were there, you probably whispered … “oh, gods, no.” It was that bad.
As I and alt!Velen awoke from this nightmarish dream, I felt a resolve … “Hell, no!” Just that. The thing that we saw. We’ve seen it before. And regardless of the outcome of the previous event that we have seen before, the cost is just so damned high. Never again.
After That Cinematic Moment, the game kicks into high gear. The moment of supreme sacrifice cannot be dwelled upon. The Iron Horde is storming Karabor! You know now that the nightmare of alt!Velen’s vision will not come to pass. But will it be enough?
I hope you have the music playing, because they milk it for all it’s worth as you, Yrel, and Maraad take to the skies as air support for your garrison’s denizens as you all, together, storm the city. Your job is to plow the road so the garrison troops can break through to the docks.
Once accomplished, you link up with Yrel after taking out a mini-boss1 and end up once again in the final defense of Karabor. Will the Aeris moment pay off?
Of course it does, but the final moments of the battle are involving and emotional. If you can imagine a Dwarf riding a giant rooster, his rampaging polar bear at his side, yelling FOR [REDACTED]!!!! at the top of his wee Dwarven lungs, charging into battle as if he’d forgotten that he never quite mastered the art of shooting and moving at the same time, well, you’ve got a good handle on where I was living for five minutes of my life.
At the end, you’re given a ride back to Embaari, where the music swells, speeches are made, and the natives cheer you and your doughty troops for, well, as long as you stick around, it looks like. The moments of tragedy, tension, and triumph all culminate in this final moment, in which you not only get to bask in the glow of your own sense of achievement, but share it with the people that you were fighting for. Again, it was quite an emotional moment.
Here now, in the wee hours of the morning, I hurry to push that emotion out onto virtual page before it’s gone. It’s not enough to feel it; I want to share what it’s like, even though I know that this sense is completely derived from pixels and logical constructs living inside a silicon wafer. And I just don’t care.
A year ago, I was mocking Blizzard for many reasons, and justifiably so. They appeared to be inept, tone-deaf, and downright hostile to the culture they said they were a part of. Boy, a year does make one hell of a difference. Blizzcon 2014 saw a complete about-face, right down to the host of the cosplay event. The Overwatch reveal was a huge success2, the outreach felt genuine, and the tone of the game launch, while marred by a DDoS and subsequent messy mop-up3 was aimed squarely at us, the gamers.
I’ll proudly be among the first to step up to the buffet and eat a large plate of crow. If Shadowmoon is any indication at all, this game has received a much needed injection of “Panda? What’s a fucking panda?”
Story matters. It has to be a good story. It has to be a relevant story. I’m sure some poor fellow worked long and hard on the Pandaria lore, but bottom line is, nobody cared.
Draenor, for all the contrivance involved in its invocation, is nevertheless relevant, in spades. And the story of Draenor thus far is, by the Light, GOOD. I know the high spots of what’s coming, but this zone. Guys, this goddamned zone. Tears of anguish. Tears of betrayal. Tears of hopelessness. Tears of loss. Tears of joy. Tears of triumph.
A very moist zone, this Shadowmoon Valley.
I don’t know if I’m emotionally up to coping with what is yet to come. And I damned well don’t know if I’m up to bringing three more alts through this zone over the next month or two. But for some reason, I have the feeling that the giddy feeling that I get coming out of it will make it worth the while.
Game on, nerds.
Honestly, I have no idea how Jas or Illume are going to survive that dude without a tanky pet. [↩]
I’m not into that kind of game, but by the Light it was one hella reveal, even a jaded old husk like me can admit that. [↩]
Which, despite the bleats of the nonbelievers, was done in cracking good time. [↩]
I missed all the launch day angst this year because I had my own personal launch day angst. My boot drive died, and I was without PC. 1 So I set forth to reinstall Windows for the third time in as many months2
Last night was Right Out due to OS upgrades, but also the servers still appeared to be having problems. This morning they were free and clear, at least the ones I’m involved with. Kudos to Blizz for repairing the damage resulting from the DDoS attack as quickly as they have. That shizzle ain’t easy, yo, and if you ever start to think it’s easy, come talk to me. I’ll dissuade you of that sad delusion.
As opposed to the abortive effort that was Blizzcon 2013, Blizzcon 2014 was an amazing success. That coupled with the +700K sub numbers indicates that the old warlord is far from dead. I can see Metzen up on stage saying BRANG EET, BASTIGES, and imma for once stand with him on this. Blizz seems to have turned something around, and while it’s only supposition, one can’t help but look at a moderately recent departure for clues on the change in tone.
And this launch was, from my perspective, amazing once I got into the game. Here are my initial impressions.
NOW’S OUR CHANCE! STORM THE PORTAL!Well, I gotta say beardless!Khadgar was a bit of a disappointment, but after working with him, I totally didn’t care. Whiskers or not5 he’s a total badass and I am happy to fight at his side. I would have preferred that the premier mage on Azeroth, Jaina Proudmoore, lead this charge, but at least they wrote this guy well.
For the first time in what seems over a year, I swapped out my Spirit Beast, Cheezburger for my default tanky pet, Bumbles. SRS BSNS, FOSHIZZLE
I actually got THANKED by a representative of the Shadow Council on behalf of the Shadow Council. Flora might have been cool with that, but I just felt a little skeevy.
Yrel’s evolution is apparently going to be a lot faster than I expected6. When I first meet her, she “has never killed before.” Amazing for a race that is undergoing systematic extermination. Protip, Yrie – get on that shit as soon as possible to avoid extinction. kay?
Start of garrison – hello, Baros! That’s an unexpected and familiar face from the past! I love how they’ve managed to merge old-school Azeroth into this expansion.
Being called “Commander” really makes me feel a sense of obligation … maybe grimmtooth!Actual’s military experience comes into play here, but the feeling that the whole garrison’s population is looking up to you makes it a LOT more personal than I expected.
And speaking of personal, the barracks appears to be inhabited by slobs, and/or college freshmen7.
All in all, this has been an excellent start to an expansion that I was – at best – dubious about when it was announced. While it’s not as advertised as the brodawg Orc shit, the Draenai lore is really shaping up nicely. The mechanics of things is working out well. The questing process has been, so far, well done, if unchanged from the MoP questing model.
And the player involvement in Things of Import is really well done. I feel like a player in this. I feel like I am being looked up to, a true “commander” of the Alliance force in old!Draenor. The quest and zone designers have done an amazing job of putting this all together, and I am going to be first in line8 to call them out on (1) a job well done recovering from an unexpected launch event, and (2) a job well done on the design of the expansion.
Ops team, Quest Design team – take a well-deserved break at your earliest convenience. You’ve earned it.
Word to the wise: just don’t buy OCZ SSD drives. This is the third hard failure in as many years. Lonomonkey has already chastised me for this poor purchasing choice on Twitter, so consider your chastisement obligations fullfilled in proxy. I mean it. [↩]
Time the first: moved to Win7-64 to play WildStar. Time the second: upgraded motherboard two weeks ago. Time the third. F!CK F!CK F!CK [↩]
SERIOUSLY – were you asleep the last five expansions or something, people? You’re amazing. In some non-complimentary form of the word. [↩]
That’s the same guy that did the Blizzcon costume contest, by the way. He’s One Of Us. [↩]
Whiskers have a strong union, expect class action in the near future. [↩]
I’ve seen the end-of-Shadowmoon cinematic, so I know where she stands. [↩]
There’s been quite a bit of – well, “whinging” might not be totally inaccurate, but it might be viewed as some as offensive1, so we’ll call it “whinge-like sounding critique” – about the pre-expansion event associated with Wierdos of Draenor2, and that puzzles me. It’s as if they remember other pre-expansion events that I do not. Neither Pre-WotLK nor Pre-Cata were all that big a deal, and were done after a handful of quests, unless you were the kind of jerk that liked to get the zombie curse and grief your own faction3. I’d even say that the Cata event was much shorter. And maybe I missed the Panda event, but I really don’t remember one. So whatsamatta for u?
I just don’t get the haters. Well, I do. Haters gotta hate. If they got nothing to hate, they make something to hate. So yeah I get it, but I hatin.
OH DAMN. NOW I BE A HATR!
I do have one issue with the event, and it’s with the way that quest events are indicated in the game. They’ve moved from a “sparkle” highlight or a “gear” highlight to a “faint outline” highlight that I absolutely hate. Maybe I’ll get used to it, but right now I can see a LOT of trips to WoWHead in my future as I grapple with hidden items in Draenor.
If I had been ambivalent about the Iron Horde before, this would have changed it.
YOU KILLED KERI! YOU BASTARDS!
Us Dwarves have a fairly low threshold of outrage when it come to killing off our booze vendors.
Clearly, somebody’s going to have to pay for this.
Hunters have lacked a strong distinction between the different specializations. What we mean by that is that the Hunter specializations all had rotations that felt similar, with Marksmanship and Survival having the most blurred identities (Beast Mastery felt well rooted in the pet). Hunters were also some of the most afflicted by button bloat. To address these problems, we opted to make changes to each specialization’s rotation, primarily through removing abilities, and making some of them unique to each spec. This means things like Aimed Shot being the primary Focus dump for Marksmanship, instead of Arcane Shot or Serpent Sting being available only to Survival. Hunters also had a large number of cooldown abilities, which we’ve also cut down (some of which we moved to the talent tree, competing with other active buttons).
Well, first of all, “tell me about it.” I’ve been whining about this for a while. Blizz may make this come across as a MoP issue, but I’ve seen the same interchangeability between the three specs since Cata, and its roots in the changes that took place in WotLK1 .
Sure, doubt me. But I’m a systems guy, and the ability to spot the similarities between different systems is more or less a survival instinct in my field. We may not be able to prove that A = B, but we can prove that A+C = E, and B+C = E, therefore A must be hella lot like B. And we might not have an A but we have a B.
And what I’ve noticed for a long time is … well, it’s best illustrated by a little sketch.
Not to scale, of course.
The gist is this: hunter rotation, regardless of spec, amounted to a general flow that felt more or less the same no matter what spec you ran. The spec you ran more or less depended on the results of several runs on SimCraft. It didn’t matter what the periodic nuke was called, it always appeared in the same place of the rotation. It didn’t matter how you replenished Focus, it always occurred at the same spot. A focus dump is a focus dump. Sure, there were flourishes. You had a small array of periodic nukes to fire off, for example, and the main distinction between them was where in an encounter they were deployed. Didn’t matter. It’s all the same, with different names2.
The only reason I’m bringing this up now is that in this patch, Blizz have more or less made a commitment to giving the different specs a different way of working. And I’m saying it now: if they end up normalizing on the same general rotation as depicted above, they have done nothing that they haven’t tried before.
The names of the abilities don’t matter. If the rotation is more or less the same with nothing different than the name of the abilities used, or the order in which they are used, then they have failed to deliver on the implicit promise presented in these patch notes.
I’m not saying they haven’t.
I’m saying that this is the yardstick against which they will be measured with regards to the Hunter ability lineups. Maybe not on WHU, but measured nonetheless. If I end up able to shift between the three specs without any trouble at all, they have failed to deliver on that implicit promise. The DPS purist may not care; the DPS purist is excused from this discussion.
Well, except MM. MM’s always been weird.
A final note: I find it fascinating that my perception of the hunter trichotomy differs from Blizz’s. They see BM as being “different”. I see MM as “different”. They feel that the use of pet abilities makes BM different than the other two. I feel that the odd rotational cadence of MM makes it stick out from the other two. I see pet abilities as simple drop-ins for PC abilities. They see pet abilities as alien to the rotation. One of us has a far different view of the Hunter class than the other. Painfully, it means I will lose this battle.
While MM has always been the most alien of the three, it still shares a lot in common between the other two specs. And in Cata / MoP, shifting between Surv and BM was a trivial move. [↩]
Incidentally: the same rotation works for a Demo lock, excepting that the nuke swaps places with the focus/mana dump, and occasionally a demo lock switches to an alternate rotation that more or less looks the same but has different ability names … but I digress. [↩]
She awoke, for the final time, at The Terrible Turnip, as she liked to call it in her darker moments1. It was a fine enough establishment, and Innkeeper Lei Lan did the best she could considering the hordes of outsiders from all parts, but it was missing a few refinements that her apartment in Dalaran had, especially the company.
Well. At last, her business here was done. She was finally going home.
She had given her notice to Farmer Yoon the week before, and he assured her he would be able to find new help, so not to fret about leaving him in the lurch. Elvish mothers got nothing on this fellow, she thought with amusement. I guess it’s those big Pandaren eyes.
She checked her bags one last time; all the Pandaren foodstuffs had been sent off to other members of the clan that could use them; anything faction-related that she could transfer had been. All she really had at this point were a couple of changes of clothes, and even those would probably be put in storage or disenchanted before too long.
After breakfast and tea with Madam Lei one last time, she took her leave and flew to the Shrine, trying to avoid looking at the Vale of Eternal Blossoms as she flew overhead. A couple of days in Ironforge, visiting with the “family”, and she was finally on the tram to Stormwind and the docks.
During the trip to Valiance Keep2, she read, daydreamed, and enjoyed the sea breeze as if it were somehow better than that around Pandaria. And perhaps it was; she always appreciated the crispness of the northern air to the muggy closeness of the South.
The flight from Valiance Keep was uneventful but altogether too long. After over a week of travel, her patience was starting to wear thin. She could see the spires in the distance, for the first time since that awful time with Lady Jaina and The Purge. As she drew closer, the enchanted city looked no worse for the wear. Jaina might be the angriest four people in the world right now, but she knew how to manage a city, as anyone in Theramore could attest before Garrosh destroyed it.
Landed at last, she hurried towards the Legerdemain, all the while trying not to look like she was rushing. But when she rounded the corner and saw that sign over the door, she might have lost all of her resolve. Maybe.
Bursting through the entrance, she practically skidded to a stop as Amisi appeared right in front of her3.
“Well, look at you!” Amisi caught her breath for a moment, and then grinned slyly. “You look terrible.”
That was it; when next she was herself, Jasra realized she had taken Amisi in her arms and was having a hard time letting her go. “Well, you look divine, my dear,” she whispered in Amisi’s ear before releasing her.
Behind the bar, Arille was headed her way in a most indecorous way – for a High Elf, or anyone else for that matter. His grin, “most unbecoming for one of his station”, was like a cool drink on a balmy evening.
Collecting data from many sources, I submit the Big Fat Glyph Table for WoD. I submit without comment, except the following.
I celebrate at last the removal of one of the two Stampede glyphs. Such a pain to track two different ones.
Let’s discuss this table.
Unchanged – The same glyph will exist in WoD. There is no guarantee that it will function precisely the same, but it’s more or less survived intact.
Removed – The glyph with this Item ID is being replaced with a thing called Charred Glyph, an item worth exactly 50s in the coming expansion. So sell it for whatever you can get unless all you can get for it is less than 50s.
Changed – The glyph you have now will change to something else, but it will still be a glyph that you can sell. Look at the “Comments” column for the name of the glyph it will change to. Not that matters a whole lot pre-patch.
New – A new glyph will be introduced with a new Item ID. You are not prepared.
Uncertain – I am getting conflicting information. For example, one source says the glyph is being added, but the datamined data on wod.wowhead.com says it doesn’t exist. Since this doesn’t affect the pre-patch activities that much, just keep an eye on it. See the comments column for any relevant info.
The table itself can be filtered, segmented, or sorted at your whimsy. And that’s pretty much all I have to say. Enjoy.
Army of the Dead
Aspect of the Beast
Aspect of the Cheetah
Aspect of the Pack
Beacon of Light
Breath of Fire
Burden of Guilt
Certificate of Ownership
Chains of Ice
Charm Woodland Creatures
Circle of Healing
Cloak of Shadows
Cone of Cold
Crackling Tiger Lightning
Curse of Exhaustion
Curse of the Elements
If it's being added, there is currently no data.
Dancing Rune Weapon
Death and Decay
Death from Above
If it's being added, there is currently no data.
Die by the Sword
Enduring Healing Sphere
Eye of Kilrogg
Fire Elemental Totem
Fire from the Heavens
Fists of Fury
Flames of Xoroth
If it's being added, there is currently no data.
Flash of Light
Flying Serpent Kick
Hammer of the Righteous
Hand of Freedom
Hand of Gul'dan
Hand of Sacrafice
Healing Stream Totem
Hold the Line
Horn of Winter
If it's being added, there is currently no data.
Leap of Faith
Leer of the Ox
Light of Dawn
Might of Ursoc
If it's being added, there is currently no data.
One with Nature
Path of Frost
to Boil Blood
Pillar of Frost
Pillar of Light
Power Word: Shield
Prayer of Mending
Protector of the Innocent
Rain of Frogs
Rising Tiger Kick
Seal of Blood
Shadow Word: Death
New rune, old name.
Spinning Crane Kick
Spinning Fire Blossom
Spirit of Redemption
At last, we only have one glyph by this name to track!