Archive for the “Blogosphere” Category
Welp, we enter the week leading up to Blizzcon 2013, and everybody in the twitterverse is all excite. There has been a lot of speculation about what we might see at this fabled gathering this year. Allow me to contribute my hysterical speculations.
What we know
- 5.4.0 is the final content patch for Mists. What we’re looking at is pretty much as far as this goes for this expansion – it’s the ICC of Pandaria. Which more or less leaves us to our own devices until the next expansion, which has not been announced at this time. Yes, there is a 5.4.1, for which you have already received a patch (though it doesn’t do much yet). That’s a far cry from more real content though.
- Ergo if there are any "content" patches beyond 5.4.0, we can probably expect more time-killing activities ala land-of-the-endless-dailies or Timeless Isle (this is more opinion than fact).
- We also have this roadmap, posted in 2007 and allegedly from 2003 which has proven to be extremely accurate in general terms. You can see all the pieces here, though sometimes they arrive in different order than originally planned. For example, Pandaria was originally going to be a part of a far larger expansion, from the looks of it, which would have included bits of the Cata expansion as well. I guess what I’m saying here is that looking here for direction is not entirely out of line, based on past experience, but it requires a heavy amount of interpretation.
- If one goes by that roadmap, we have one major piece not yet addressed – The Burning Legion.
Now we Speculate
What follows is a series of thoughts based on what we have seen out in the wider internets. I’m not claiming to know what’s going to happen, but I do reserve the right to crow just a little for each item I get right.
There will be an expansion announced
That’s probably obvious to most, but it should be noted that Blizz has not stated that there will be. Reasonably, the announcement will take place on the first day. What we see is "World of Warcraft: What’s Next" and World of Warcraft: The Adventure Continues" when we look at the Blizzcon schedule.
What we do NOT see is availability of the expansion for playtesting, as we had with MoP. I do NOT recall if that was actually part of the schedule last time. It would be helpful to be able to remember.
Given all the above, however, one thing we do know is that we’re done with MoP. If they don’t announce here, it’ll be at some smaller trade show later on, and I don’t think they’re going to do that to their flagship product.
Ergo, now is the time.
The expansion will involve the Burning Legion.
We don’t have a lot to go on here except for that fabled road map. Considering its accuracy, I’m inclined to look to it for inspiration.
There is also the fact that many, many of the in-game and out-of-game lore pieces have been very strongly focused on the Legion and things around it. The adventures of Anduin, for example, as well as Wrathion. We KNOW the Legion is going to be a huge part of WoW at some point, it’s a confrontation that is being teased in lore and legend and prophesy. Between them and the Old Gods, we’re looking at 80% of what threatens Azeroth. Maybe more.
The expansion will be called "Warlords of Draenor"
I admit this may be premature, in that the trademark was applied for outside the US and only a week before the Con. However, it does fit in with the story arc we’ve been uncovering.
An alternate, The Dark Below, does have some bearing on the Old Gods thread, but if I remember correctly, that was discredited not long after it appeared in trademark sites.
One should also remember that the same trademark sites have been used for the Warlords title, and take both with a grain of salt.
The expansion will involve a new, "lost" continent of Draenor.
One should remember that Outland was not Draenor, but simply a part of it, one continent on a larger world. Given Blizz’s penchant for pulling entire lost continents out of their electronic butts, doing so on a world about which we know SO LITTLE makes a certain amount of sense.
Also, discovery of this continent leads us to …
Alleria and Turalyon will return
Theory: they found their way onto the lost continent and were either detained or could not find the way back. After many years of research and hard work, they’ve opened a portal that leads back to the dormant one in Zangarmarsh. Or maybe Blizz invents some new sort of Twisted Nether transport vehicle similar to a cross between an airship and a sailboat (The AD&D Astral plane was full of such vehicles, and they were super cool). After many years and with the assistance of a stranded colony of Ethereals, they have returned in style.
It should be noted that these two have been teased for at least two expansions in the "hints and tips" pane of the loading screen – which is one reason I leave that feature turned on.
The Ethereals are a new player race
I’m not sure if they’ll be a new player race similar to the Pandas or not (bi-factional) or if they’ll belong to one faction and some other race fill in for the other. If the latter, I have no idea who it would be.
It’s all weaksauce regardless. I am basing this on the merest whiff of a hint dropped here and there.
But if they are a new player race, I bet the starting zone is associated with where Alleria and Turalyon were stranded.
Outland will not get a revamp
There was a lot of joyful / hysterical speculation in Twitter especially that Outland would at last get its remodel and quest streamlining. I doubt this myself because (a) the Cata remodel of Azeroth was not a cracking success and (b) they hate going back to old stuff.
There was the Twitter sub-thread that Outland would be revamped and be NEW content for the new expansion. I doubt this because then they’d have to fill in the 60-70 leveling gap from bits of Azeroth and/or Northrend, and I doubt they want to do something so complicated. HOWEVER, I do consider this to be more likely than revamping it "just because".
The new level cap will be 100
The most blatant clue about this is that several BoA items drop from Garrosh that "require level 90 to 100", which is an odd thing for the tooltip to say if the next expansion is good for only five levels, I think you’d agree.
The less obvious clues are back in that roadmap. It’s fairly clear from looking at it that bits of Wrath, Cata, and MoP were meant to come together as one large expansion. For example, Worgen were possibly supposed to be part of the same expansion as Pandarens. And, thus, the remaining pieces do seem to come together as a whole expansion, rather than a mini-expansion such as what we’ve been getting.
There are no indications of any new class
That’s not entirely true. Consider the Pandaren. Outside of the roadmap doc, the only reference to Pandaren in game terms was as a practical joke or two. Blizz insisted that there could be no possible way that they’d ever make it into the game as a serious race.
What class has also been likewise the source of jokes and amusement? Why, the Bard, of course! So there’s that.
More likely, though, I think we might see another attempt at a Hero Class, this time with less problems than the DK rollout. Possible candidates: that have been hinted at here and there: Archdruid (from Druid, possibly from Stormrage himself), Archmage (from Mage, possibly from Jaina), Necromancer (Warlock, possibly related to the Green Fire quest line), Ranger (from Hunter, possibly via Alleria), and Vindicator (from Paladin, possibly related to Turalyon)
Since this is such an empty bucket, anything that fills it will be no particular surprise.
Release will be in the Holiday timeframe, 2014
I know, someone once asked me, "surely you can’t expect people to wait 14 months for an expansion?" This’ll be closer to 12, which is a reasonable cycle but one that is largely devoid of content, nonetheless.
Expect beta testing to be over the summer, with the final polish going on around August.
Will they announce that this is the schedule. Well, they never have before, so I’m doubtful.
YOU FACE JARAXXUS
Crap. Not again.
Seriously, we need the Dance Studio for this one. Obviously.
Probably. I could hope to see things like ink-derived armor dye, but there is no indication. We’ll probably see at least one more trade skill streamlined as Blacksmithing has. But most people will focus on the Big Picture, and who can blame them?
Bottom line is, I have a suspicion about where things will go, but no hard facts to back it up. Clues are not facts.
I do, however, think this particular story line would be very, very cool.
I’ll be watching this as much as anyone else. Excite!
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The Godmother mused on anonymity in the game space, and Matty riffed on it some more vis-à-vis our virtual personas. You should go read them. Go ahead. I’ll be here. I’m just a digital amalgam of personality traits and pixels.
… or am I?
An underlying theme of this sort of discussion is that games like WoW affords one anonymity, and they feel emboldened to therefore do many terrible things to people around them. In short, griefers.
This is well summarized in Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, captured so well on Penny Arcade.
I want to focus on that so-called "normal person" for a moment.
What is it about The Internets and a venue that creates this "fuckwad" shell around that person?
If you answered "nothing", you win the prize.
One is never truly anonymous on the internets. One is merely hoping not to be discovered.
In other words, that "normal" person is in fact a total fuckwad, and he just found the means to express himself in a manner that he felt he could get away with.
None of us is truly anonymous. We can change our names, address, even our appearance, but we are still who we are. If we act up on the internets, well, that’s us. Pure and simple.
You are everything you do, and that includes the time you were a total douchebag to the loser in the starting zone on the Azuremyst realm.
You may be the greatest raider of all time. You may lead your guild in an exemplary manner and your guildies may gather once a month to sing songs of praise about you. You may write blog posts that make Glenn Greenwald weep with envy.
But that time you were a dick to a baby space goat … that’s with you for life.
Nobody else may know, but you will.
And it’s not your virtual presentation that gets sullied with this. No, it’s the real, elemental, essential you that has to carry this around.
The same applies to those griefers out there.
They go day to day being "normal" people, but at night when they think nobody knows them, they’re being total assholes. And that, too, is "normal" for them.
This talk of the duality of the online and offline personality sometimes gets carried away. At the end of the day, the online personality is actually the offline person, wearing a pixel suit. I’m not a max-level dwarven hunter. I’m a middle-aged out of work software tester that also plays several other characters, some of them female, on the same game system. None of them is me, and yet all of them are within me, come from me, and are expressions of the essential me.
This isn’t a matter of people "becoming" dickwads. This is a matter of people letting their inner dickwad – the part of them that they were too timid or sensible to let real-life people see – out to play, to be a sadistic, brutish bully. To be a rat bastard. To be an illiterate schmuck.
We don’t act this way in real life because we will be held accountable. Ideas of an improved accountability system should be explored and implemented if we want to see this game improved as a social entity.
[KNOCK AT DOOR]
/Bob opens door.
Man at door: "Are you PunchyBooBoo?"
Bob: "Um …"
MaD: "PunchyBooBoo the warrior?"
BoB: "Um, well, …"
MaD: "PuchyBooBoo the Orc warrior on Medivh realm?"
BoB: "Yes, that’s m –"
/Man at Door punches Bob in the face
MaD: "THAT’S FOR MAKING MY LITTLE SISTER CRY, YOU SADISTIC BASTARD."
[A FEW HOURS LATER]
[KNOCK AT DOOR]
/Bob opens door
Another Man at door: Are you PunchyBooBoo the Orc Warrior?
Bob: MOM, IT’S FOR YOU!
Wouldn’t that be grand.
Any time you think you can get away with something awful is a test of your character. Maybe it’s a twenty dollar bill that dropped from a man’s coat as he rushed past you … you can keep it, he’ll never know. You found an exploit in the game that lets you use engineer’s grenades as construction devices. Somebody accidentally lists a 10,000 gp staff for 10 gp. You find a lone flagged low-level Hordie in your territory.
This is your time to shine; do the right thing, and all you’ll probably get from it is a sense of accomplishment. But karmic debt has been repaid, if you believe in such things.
Everything we do in the "real" world and all the "virtual" worlds are just expressions of our true selves. There is no true anonymity. Just opportunities to temporarily avoid the effects of your actions. Eventually, you must pay the toll.
Exact change, please.
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(Fifty quatloos to the person that knows where that title came from – no cheating with Google!)
It is with a heavy heart we report the retirement of Warcraft Hunters Union and Frostheim’s time at the blogging wheel.
You could kind of see it coming; entries there were light at best. There was no MoP Hunter Guides for many months after the expansion went live. It was getting a bit dusty and tatty around the edges.
But there was a robust and active culture of fellow hunters there that just couldn’t be beat.
He and I didn’t always agree on things. But, you can’t really engage as a writer without, as he says, having an opinion. He’s no BRK, and thus sometimes his opinions were delivered with a bit less subtlety and a lot more noise. Then again, nobody ever WILL be BRK, just as there will never be another Frostheim.
I’m not sure where our next premier site of Hunter Goodness will be. What I do know is that the Hunter class is just too awesome not to have one before too long.
I’ll see you there when that happens, and we might even bump into ol’ Frosty.
Stoke me a clipper.
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I know Hydra gets around, but this is a bit more than most people.
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A few months ago, Google announced that it was discontinuing Google Reader. A mad scramble has ensued to find replacement readers. This post is not about that.
This post is about a hidden asset that Google Reader provided, namely web clips. What this was was a way to organize your RSS feeds in Reader, then create links to those folders that would allow you to display a reading list on your blog consisting of the feeds in those folders. Viola! Instant blogrolls! There was peace in the valley and joy amongst the peasants.
Even now, less than a week before Reader bows out, this still works, but time is running out. I have no idea what will happen to these links when Reader goes dark, but it can’t be good for your blog.
Now is the time to get busy moving your blogroll from this nicely automated format to something else. I personally redid the site using WorPress’s own internal link database. It was clunky as hell but at least I got it loaded. Bonus: the site loads a lot faster now! It seems Google was a bit slow on inter-site responses (huge surprise there).
So check out your blog, if you blog, and make sure you’re not relying on Google’s soon to be broken machinery for your blogroll.
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One evening while I was tooling around Uldum looking for interesting
ores minerals, Zwingli, who has a few toons in our guild, asked if I’d been "Navispammed." Assuming it was a Facebook thing, I replied that I had not. Next thing I know, he’s tweeting some gal about this; I looked her up on Twitter and found she was a WoW blogger.
So eventually we arrived at the understanding that there would be visitations, posing, picture-taking, and conversation. None of these are things I object to in any way, so eventually, after a bit of faffing about, we managed to cross paths via RealID and produce the obligatory navispammy blog post, which you can read about on her blog.
As I’ve mentioned in many places before, I find the various Hunter outfits to be just about as ugly as anything I can imagine. I long for the simple forest leathers of the woodsman. But, while working on Loremaster, I came across a set of spaulders that I found to be tolerable and admirable in their simplicity. Since then I’ve managed to find out where the corresponding other bits come from – all from Kalimdor quests – so I’ll be gathering them up as I continue to work on Loremaster.
Navi, of course, caught me in the process of morphing, so a bunch of DW besties with those out-of-place shoulders would tend to get one’s attention. So, Navi, that’s the story – my "mog" goal here is less to look like anything in particular, and more like just the plain old boomstick-waver that I am.
Navi has a much better memory for rares than I do. She couldn’t remember the name of my pet, but she remembered the name of the rare that has that model – Hawkbane. The beasty’s actual name is Random, named after the character in Roger Zelazny’s epic series.
Navi, it is always a great pleasure to meet someone that is pleased to meet me. Come back any time you like!
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The Topic: "Have you ever named a pet after a WoW NPC?" Oddly, this topic also came up last night while running randoms with some friends. I could swear I had posted about it here, but apparently it was only Twitter. Let’s fix that.
The answer, as you probably guessed, is "yes." This past January, we rescued a tiny Tonkinese kitten from our apartment’s parking lot. She was slow. She was listless. Her little belly was swollen. We took her in, and within a couple of days the was scaling anything scalable to be with her new peoples. She was fierce. None of the other cats were safe from her epic pounces. And she’d steal my pillow from me as I slept.
We named her Jaina (that’s her to the left).
A couple of weeks later, we took her to the doc, and the prognosis was grim. FIP is not a treatable disease. Fortunately, it’s only usually communicable to very young and very old kitties, so our other four cats were probably not at risk. We were told, it was a matter or weeks. We took her home, and decided that her last weeks on Earth would be good ones, until she showed signs of slowing down we’d love her.
So, here we are in August. She’s grown into a lovely young lady; still as spritely and fierce as ever. She has a favorite toy, which she will drop at your feet and then pat you on the elbow as if to say, "Please play with me." She’s possibly the smartest cat I’ve ever seen. She pretty much runs things around here as far as the other cats are concerned.
We’re keenly hoping that prognosis was wrong; FIP is a hard thing to diagnose, and the symptoms that she had may have been due to malnourishment than anything else.
So, yes, WoW Insider, we have, but since I had to show her off a little, I answered here.
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Alexander the Great’s chief bouncer has gone to join his master. In case anyone didn’t catch that, Ratshag Actual has made his final curtain call. We may have been on opposite sides of the world of Azeroth in a thousand different ways, but here’s one Dwarf that’s gonna miss the big lug.
Through these fields of destruction, baptisms of fire.
I’ve witnessed your suffering as the battle raged higher.
And though they did hurt me so bad in the fear and alarm,
You did not desert me, my brothers in arms.
There’s so many different worlds,
So many different suns.
And we have just one world,
But we live in different ones.
Now the sun’s gone to hell, the moon riding high.
Let me bid you farewell; every man has to die.
But it’s written in the starlight, and every line on your palm;
We’re fools to make war on our brothers in arms.
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When I was commenting on Ambermist’s unexplained ban from STWOOR, I mentioned that if it hadn’t already happened, it was just a matter of time until Blizz got the chance to prove its mettle.
I was thinking of WoW, but, looky here.
The only official response, from Bashiok, is startlingly familiar:
We’ve extensively tested for false positive situations, including replicating system setups for those who have posted claiming they were banned unfairly. We’ve not found any situations that could produce a false positive, have found that the circumstances for which they were banned were clear and accurate, and we are extremely confident in our findings.
Playing the game on Linux, although not officially supported, will not get you banned – cheating will.
I can almost guarantee that they won’t provide any useful feedback to the banned users that could help them nail it down.
So, any EA/Bioshock haters, be sure to wash your hands before helping yourself to a plateful of crow, if you for some reason thought this wouldn’t happen in the fair lands of the Blizzard.
No shoving, plenty for everyone.
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This week’s big SWWTTOR fiasco is … well, it’s like a menu, so much to choose from and no idea what you’re in the mood for. But the one that I am most interested in is not the server merges or fear, loathing, and angst associated with that (depending on your venue). What concerns me is the now-resolved story of Battle Chicken’s abrupt, unexplained ban from SWTOR (Start HERE. Continue HERE. Conclusion HERE.).
If you haven’t the patience to read that much (and if not, how do you put up with MY blatherings?) then here is a précis:
- Battle Chicken (henceforth known as BC) gets banned from STWOR for hacking.
- BC professes undying hatred of hacking and complete innocence.
- Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week."
- She responds "Can you tell me what might be causing this false positive?"
- Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week."
- She responds "Can I at least talk to a human being in order to resolve this to my satisfaction?"
- Mail droid responds, "We’re pretty sure you’re a hacker, go away for a week. By the way, please take this survey to tell us how well we resolved your issue. Hacker."
- After a few days of this, impassioned blog posts, cries of outrage from the bloggerati, and possibly one or two droid uprisings (squelched, of course), she gets a real response.
- BIOWARE HUMAN: "HURR, OUR BAD. SORRREEEE. Please to be making the evil internet demons go away now?"
The contributing factor to this is that known "hacker signatures" are guarded as if they were made from gold. If you tell someone you know they were hacking the system due to such and such a pattern in memory, for example, a hacker could use that information. "I must make my program not look like that", he muses, as he twirls his mustache.
Thus, customer service, even if it were capable of conveying that level of information accurately (which I have my doubts about, no matter what company), is told not to because it would give the bad guys a leg up in the arms race that is MMO client security.
Thus, "you are a hacker, we won’t tell you how we know, but we’re right and you’re wrong, even if we can’t write a game client that won’t crash on a bog standard NVIDIA chipset motherboard, we’re always right."
Guilty until proven innocent, as she said, but in this case – you don’t even get the chance to prove your innocence. Case closed. Talk to the droid.
Her experience is a wakeup call. It’s also an outlier. For every case that resolves this way, I bet you a dollar and a bag of lutefisk that there are at least ten that ended badly for the customer.
This is not just on BioWare or EA, though. Light knows they’ve been drug through the mud over this, but they are not exceptions in an otherwise excellent customer service experience in the general world of MMOs.
I’m looking at YOU, Blizzard.
If I put to puter every case I am personally aware of, you’d be here all night. For example:
- One of our guildies lost ALL of his toons on one account to a botting banhammer. Did he get told why? No, he did not. Did the other two accounts he had on the SAME COMPUTER get banned? No.
- Don’t name your pet fox "Fawkes". It will get renamed to "Fox" and you won’t be allowed to change it back, nor told why. And you’ll be asked to take a survey to express your satisfaction with how the ticket was handled .
- Back in Vanilla, people were getting banned for having specific keyboard drivers because the "Warden" program determined it was a bot.
- In fact, I think bringing up "Warden" on the forums would get you banned at one point, no explanation. In Soviet Russia …
Change "Blizzard" or "WoW" out for "BioWare" and I’m sure it would fit right in. Change BC’s issues with BioWare into a WoW case, and, again, it would play out exactly the same.
Bioware’s wakeup call is Blizzard’s, as well, though Blizz has already gotten plenty of them. I’m not sure they’re doing more than hitting the snooze button, though. Time and time again they’ve shown a tone deafness to customer support and common-sense human relations issues. They’ve previously shown a paranoid, no-quarter-given attitude on account bans. I wonder how long before Battle Chicken’s tale finds its own counterpart in WoW?
I guess what I’m saying here is, for once, EA isn’t any more at fault than any other paranoid MMO Customer Service organization. Light knows I wanna hate on them – they stole away several friends of mine, after all – but I prefer my hating to be honest hating.
In closing, I’d just like to say that I’m very happy that Battle Chicken’s ordeal ended on a positive note. A much welcome change from business as usual, yes?
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