Unfaithful – Day 10

I have been meaning to follow up on my experiment with World of Warcraft.

So, just quickly backing up, I left a decent WoW Raiding Guild after Wrath of Lich King and skipped over Cataclysm and Pandaria without even thinking about the game.  I was just “done”.  Blizzard’s marketing department sent me invites and reminders and when “Warlords” came out, I thought, why not, get the 10 day free offer and try it out again.

During these 10 days, I played quite a bit actually, and I must say, I had fun.  Progression was ridiculously easy – I blew through the content especially after I followed the advice of a friend to swap my “Cataclysm” zone from the underwater one to the one on Mount Hyjal.  The novelty of diving had simply worn off after so many fetch quests and while they were extremely quick and efficient, I always had the feeling that I am in some arcade shooter.  One of the redeeming features of WoW is its grandiose size.  The world is huge but underwater settings reduce that feeling.  Mount Hyjal was more interesting, scenery-wise and I had more fun doing these “kill 10 rats” quests.  Of which there were dozens!  Its a never ending chain of NPC standing around with more and more things to kill, stuff to fetch and occasionally people to escort.  I tried to concentrate on the text and follow the storyline but really, I couldn’t.  The effort to put into a single quest is extremely little, you can knock them out in 2-3 minutes.  Mobs die with 1 shot even on a severely unprepared character and the spawn rates are so high that – on my hunter – I nearly always have something in range.  So, I spent 30seconds reading a NPC quest and 2 minute killing things?  Its a bit lopsided.

But hey, who said WoW is for children?  One of the quests asked me to capture and torture a Harpy.  Harpies are scantily-clad flying female things and seeing one restrained and questioned makes me wonder where the age-police was that day.  I never enjoyed these types of quests but I was positively surprised that Blizzard allows some form of edginess in their game after so many years of watering down the content.

Harpy

 

 

Anyway, the chain of quests persists and I end up in some enormous cavern killing golem-like things by the hundreds.  Other players are zooming around as well but there is no interaction.  The gear I get is apparently better than what I had and I freely swap out with seconds of contemplation, knowing that the next quest could give me another upgrade entirely eliminates the need for any form of investment into gear.  I also have so much money that I start vendor trashing everything.  With one exception, I somehow had ended up with a bow and that’s just not right. Dwarfs have guns,  a trip to the auction house, 500 gold spent on the highest level gun that was for sale, throw some scope on and I am happy again.  Boom!

I mentioned a couple of times how easy the game is and that was actually a surprise.  Being able to lay waste to stream of mobs within an extremely short period breaks the immersion.  Only once did I get into trouble when I had pulled 10 or more mobs at once.  For some reason they were stacked really close, there were 2 wandering patrols and something respawned on top of me.  My core hound was getting really close to being killed but he didn’t, some deflection some feign-death and I was in low health but surrounded by a pile of corpses.  My pet had a grin on his face, finally a challenge.  That fight was actually fun.

Ok, so if these quests are too easy, maybe I should change zones?  I take my flying mount and simply aim South to Uldum.  I always liked Taranis, the desert, so this is my kind of zone.  I land in town, get the flight path and look around.  Nice town, lovely architecture, a king of some kind, very few players.  And no quests.  None. I read up on it and realize that one needs to get a starting quest given to open the quest lines in this zone.   This narrow rail that I am on, where I am literally told where to go and what to do is the single most annoying thing in WoW.  I am used to EVE Online where I can where I damn well please – and likely get killed in the process but hey, its my decision.

With nothing to do in Uldum, I fly out but not before I land on some bright red lvl 84 mob and engage him.  Maybe they are too hard for me, maybe I should stay away.  Nah, it dies within seconds like a mob 5 levels below him.

Ok, so this questing isn’t working for me.  Lets try a dungeon.  I sign up for the dungeon queue and am a bit apprehensive. I have no idea about the dungeons and bosses I am about to face, no clue who my team mates will be and am only beginning to understand what shot rotation is getting the maximum dps.  Its one thing to goof around alone but I don’t want my noobness to be the detriment of others.

The instance starts.  No words are exchanged, the tank pulls a ton of mobs and I start shooting.  Stuff dies, gets looted.  We run down corridors. Nice instance, actually, where am I?  Who are these mobs?  I have no clue.  Some trashmobs die.  We jump of some ledge – I remember this was a dangerous mechanic for hunters, I may jump down somewhere but my pet will try to take the long road and in the process aggro the entire instance.  I urgently dismiss my pet (that wave!) and jump.  My group has already cleared the next 2 rooms and I have actually trouble finding them.  Nobody speaks, I try to make conversation but nothing.  A boss chamber.  The tank finally says something along the line to stand behind him when a spike or something happens and pulls.  Oh dear.  I have no idea whats going on.  But hunter’s credo: if in doubt shoot and keep the pet nearby.  Don’t stand in goop, don’t break LoS with the healer. And the boss melts in seconds.  Yes, there was some effect but I have no idea what it was.  The instance is over, people leave the group and that’s that.

Instance

It was the fastest instance run I can remember. I’d say it was under 10 minutes, really like Left 4 Dead runs with minimal preparation or planning.  I kind of feel sad for the designers – the scenery was actually pretty nice but there was no time to see it, explore, learn what this is all about.

Well, this is it, I guess. I had my 10 day World of Warcraft fix and found it lacking compared to EVE or even Planet Side 2.  The two quintessential items of an MMORPG have been removed by Blizzard from the game entirely.  The “massive” aspect is reduced to the exact content that one is allowed to see at any given time.  Its like taking a train through the mountains – very pretty but you only see what happens to be outside of the window.  Only by leaving the train and hiking will one ever see the vastness of the ranges.  WoW has removed the incentive (not the ability) to do that.  Secondly, pickup-groups (Pugs) used to be the bane of WoW, they were awful and a key driver for people to socialize, join guilds and learn the game.  Not anymore.  I ran 3 instances or so, back to back, with zero human interaction.  I assume in end-game raiding one really has to have a better team but for the casual player like myself, other players may as well be NPC.  The “multiplayer” aspect is gone.

Where does that leave me?  I wanted to like WoW, I really do. I am still attached to my character – Splatus, this damn blog is named after him! – but Blizzard successfully made the game for other people now.  I let my 10 day pass expire and may come back in 2 or 3 expansions.

Or maybe never.

Fanfest 2015 – Remote Recap

As dumb luck would have it, RL prevented me from “working from home” last week which in turn meant that I could only catch fanfest in short bursts when:

  • On the john.  “Yes.  I have digestive issues, thats why it takes me 30 min to take a dump. Got a problem with that, want to discriminate?  I’ll call HR”
  • Driving.  This is actually pretty good, the video portion is overrated of the stream.  Why would I stare at pale and sickly looking male neckbeards standing on a stage for hours.  Most of the information is voice.
  • At work on cell phone (work blocks all game-related websites).  We have a lot of conference calls at work and nobody bats an eye when I am on yet another one. That doesn’t work all the time. I have colleagues who can see my calendar.  I have not invented meetings yet to cover up – my plan for next year.

So, with this disjointed viewing, I don’t get much detail but I do get a decent cross section of the program.  I get Fozzy talking about Sov, I get someone talking about new structures and I get the art panel talking about, well, Art.  I missed the keynote and the trailer (both, Valkyrie and the other one) but neither was rated really highly anyway.  So, those clips and the sporadic tweets gave me a pretty good picture what was going on in Iceland.

CCP has embraced the sprint system.  I can’t recall how many times I heard praises about that system being sung by developers.  This makes me suspicious.  In my experiences, all developers overpromise and underdeliver and this “oh I can release it when its ready” is just too good an excuse for farting around on a fussball  table instead of working. But hey, don’t mind me, I am just mean and evil spirited.

So, what actually happened?  Sov 5.0 (or some other number) will be rolled out.  Not sure how it actually work but in the end, larger corporations will own big chunks of space and smaller corporations will complain that they don’t stand a chance.  Sounds familiar?  See the fallacy in thinking is that large corps are large for no good reason. They are large because they are good at what they do and do it with determination.  Change the game tactics, they will adapt and if not, some other corporation will take its place and grow to project power.  Because despite all the little attempt to fragment own-able space, more ships = more power.  No clever mechanic can fix that and I am not sure it should.  Large and well organized corporations should own nullsec but they should constantly have to fight for it.  Thats the difference and I am not yet sure if the proposed mechanics will achieve that.

Corbexx allegedly defected to GSF or some such, his corp NoHo voluntarily leaving WH space.  I voted for him, endorsed him, even and I’d lie if I told you that I wasn’t disappointed.  But a) I don’t know if it is actually true and b) he is a good guy and can likely bring his acumen and CSM experience to the nullsec revamp.  Wormholes are pretty much done for the moment, so I don’t mind if he takes a sabbatical.  He’ll be back.  Wormholers don’t go back to 10000 man fleets.

The art panel showed some gorgeous changes, rust on (Minmatar) ships, dirt on golden Amarr boats, it was beautiful.  All we now need is a system where experienced pilots actually look at their ship when they fly it and not just their overview and D-scan.

There was more, of course, I caught a bit of the new player experience talk and what I saw was very encouraging.  Mind, you, not in term of game design but it the openness of the presentation, the almost pathological desire to tell everyone that people at first hate EVE.  I personally had a different newb story and enjoyed figuring this all out and not getting it all handed to me was part of the game play but I guess I am not representative of the new players CCP wants to attract.  I salute the effort and wish them all the best.

That’s it, my impression of fanfest, CSM and beyond – it appeared a well-rounded event devoid of hype (where was Legion, btw) which marked contrast to previous events.  But this reflects Seagull’s new CCP – steady, calm and deliberate instead of lurching forward from press release to press release.

Good luck and see you in Las Vegas!

 

Where is Orea?

The Supreme Leader of our alliance attended Fanfest 2015 and reported regular updates on his twitter account.  His acolytes including your humble author have been in touch regularly with him to respond to intelligence that he may develop, manipulate the market swiftly and place scouts in systems to Entosis-ize vast swaths of space.  [insert soundclip of maniacal laugh]

But Friday, the Dev Pubcrawl was announced.  Our Esteemed Commander partook apparently and may have abandoned his usual reserved self.

Below a transcript of a Google Chat conversation from Saturday morning:

03.20.2015 09:34  Epigene: Good Morning

03.20.2015 10:12   Oreamnos Amric: Urgh

03.20.2015 10:13  Epigene: Are you alright? How was the pubcrawl?

<crickets>

A quick ping to our alliance mate who we sent as body guard and wingman to protect our Father of the Nation:

03.20.2015 14:45  Kennesaw Breach: I found Orea

03.20.2015 14:45  Epigene: Is he alive?  Dead?  Tattooed?  Pregnant?  Tell, man, tell.

<crickets>

So, as of right now, Illusion of Solitude has lost its leader.  If anyone has seen him, please give him back his kilt and mail him to the nearest Scottish Embassy.

If he doesn’t show up by Monday, I shall take all his ships.

Podcasts, EVE and others

With roughly 3h/day in the car, 3-4h / week in the gym and the occasional flight, I have plenty of time to listen to podcasts.  I prefer them over listening to ebooks but I am also pretty brutal, if I have 2 episodes that I don’t like, I will unsubscribe and likely never come back.

Over time, I noticed that the key parameter that makes me dislike a ‘cast is the production quality. Long winded, rambling recording of a skype channel is simply not good enough.  Secondly, the hosts have to actually something new to say to me, something that I had not anticipated, angles that I had not seen before.  Its just too easy to read TMC, come up with couple of drama stories that circulating on Reddit and vomit one’s opinion into a microphone.  That’s not the podcast for me.

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CSM 10 and other random stuff

Its done, I voted for CSM 10.  Its basically the same list as I recommended on my previous post with the addition of Bam Stroker.  Bam came in late since I never really had heard from him – just a lot about him.  Then came the podcast and Bam had me sold.  He is full of energy, genuine enthusiasm for the community and a solid all-around guy.  Bam for CSM X.  I even forgive him that he is a Goon. Or PL.  Or whatever those groups are that fly the space with gates that are not Russian.

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Why live in a wormhole?

So, my friend Oreamos and I mused the other day about the reason why anyone would want to live in a Wormhole.  Don’t get me wrong, Anoikis is great and the risk / reward balance here is still very good. Recent buffs to sleeper loot makes running C1/C2 sites actually worthwhile – add to this the sheer number of connections in/out and its a very lucrative region of space.  Non surprisingly, we see an uptick in activity especially in the lower wormholes while the higher ones (C5/C6) still seem to be mostly farming holes of nullsec alts and are fairly quiet during peak hours.

But while increased activity, good loot and many routes mean, Anoikis is a great space to be, it doesn’t mean its a great place to live.

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