alexxkay: (Default)
Hello, my name is Alexx, and I'm an Achievement Junkie. Over the weekend, I earned 300 Achievement Points in World of Warcraft:

Elune's Blessing for 10 points.
Scholomance for 10 points.
Classic Dungeonmaster for 10 points.
The Argent Dawn for 15 points.
The Argent Champion for 25 points.
Looking For Many for 20 points. Now I can call myself "The Patient" if I want to. I probably won't, as most people who do seem to not deserve it...
Molten Core for 10 points. Yay for guild completionists!
Stocking Up for 10 points.
The Kirin Tor for 10 points.
Consumption Junction for 10 points.
50 Fish for 20 points.
Vehicular Gnomeslaughter for 10 points.
Within Our Grasp for 10 points.
Elders of the Dungeons for 10 points.
To Honor One's Elders for 30 points.
What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been for 50 points. And a Violet Proto-Drake, a dragon-y flying mount that is one of the fastest available in the game!
250 Stone Keeper's Shards for 30 points.
Black War Mammoth for 10 points.
alexxkay: (Default)
Bejeweled, Warcraft Combine to Form World's Most Addictive Game

Not only have they implemented one of the world's most addictive games inside *another* of the world's most addictive games -- itself a tremendously great hack -- they have actually gone the extra mile to integrate the two for extra-synergistic addiction. The in-WoW Bejeweled can be set to pop up automatically whenever you get on a flight path. It tracks high scores across your guild. It lets you level up your Bejeweled skill as if it was a standard WoW tradeskill. There are even, god help us all, Achievements.

I'm not sure if this is the best or worst thing ever. Maybe both...
alexxkay: (Default)
Bejeweled, Warcraft Combine to Form World's Most Addictive Game

Not only have they implemented one of the world's most addictive games inside *another* of the world's most addictive games -- itself a tremendously great hack -- they have actually gone the extra mile to integrate the two for extra-synergistic addiction. The in-WoW Bejeweled can be set to pop up automatically whenever you get on a flight path. It tracks high scores across your guild. It lets you level up your Bejeweled skill as if it was a standard WoW tradeskill. There are even, god help us all, Achievements.

I'm not sure if this is the best or worst thing ever. Maybe both...
alexxkay: (Default)
Scanty posting lately, and probably for a while to come. I am on vacation, yet paradoxically much busier than usual. And my typical writing time is during my commute, which I'm not doing this week. This morning, however, I am taking the T home from returning a rental car, so taking the time to write an entry. cut for length )
alexxkay: (Default)
Scanty posting lately, and probably for a while to come. I am on vacation, yet paradoxically much busier than usual. And my typical writing time is during my commute, which I'm not doing this week. This morning, however, I am taking the T home from returning a rental car, so taking the time to write an entry. cut for length )
alexxkay: (Default)
While I think World of Warcraft is, overall, a masterpiece of game design, even a master stumbles now and then. I'm in the middle of an experience that strikes me as a pretty major stumble.

My Blood Elf Paladin has recently hit Level 60, a major milestone in the life of any WoW character. Among other things, 60 is when you get to upgrade your horse to a much faster one, reducing total travel time significantly. For most players, buying the horse upgrade is a significant expense. For Paladins...

When you talk to semi-informed people about the Paladin class, one of the perks they mention is, "...and you get a free horse!" This turns out to be only approximately true. Your initial horse is, indeed, free. The upgrade at level 60, however, is anything but.

To get your L60 horse upgrade, you have to complete a seven-part quest chain. In and of itself, this is reasonable -- but this particular quest chain has lots of problems. The first two steps are trivial, "Go and speak to X".

With the third, things get annoying. You are sent on a shopping trip to pick up 4 sets of items, plus deliver the questgiver 150 gold on top of that. Already this 'free' is looking a lot more expensive than I had thought. The first of the four item stacks, Runecloth, is easy to get, any humanoid of an appropriate level range has a good chance of dropping some. The second, Arcanite Bars, can only be created by high-level Alchemist player characters, and requires rare components provided in turn by Mining PCs (who are almost never also Alchemists). The third type of item you need, Sungrass, is only created by PC Herbalists. The fourth stack is five Dark Runes -- which are fairly rare drops that are only found inside an instance, and an instance that you need to solve a long quest chain just to be eligible to enter! Moreover, the quest, despite coming with an associated scroll object that has room for unlimited text within it, doesn't tell you how to find *ANY* of this. Guide Dang It! Even if you *did* know where they came from, you couldn't possibly get them all yourself without a lot of help. In practice, I expect most players end up getting all of these items from the Auction House, where they are not cheap.

Part four of the quest is "Go kill these undead." Perfectly reasonable.

Part five is "Go get this heavily-guarded item from the Bad Guys." OK, although it isn't really reasonable to solo this part. It's not hard to complete this part with a friend or two, but I object to being forced to group up for a class-specific quest. It's much more fun to be able to share quests with other people.

For part six, we're back to a shopping trip. This time, pretty much literally. You need four items. Two of these are only available from NPC vendors, and their only purpose in the game is to be part of this quest. So that's another 200 gold down the tubes, only slightly prettied up with a microscopic fictional gloss. A third is an Azerothian Diamond, another rare Mining item. The fourth, a Pristine Black Diamond is another super-rare drop that's only found inside instances -- more instances than just one, at least, but still something you can't get by soloing. Once again, the quest gives no indication of where to find the rare ingredients. Once again, the average player is likely to resort to the Auction House. This "free" horse is looking to cost just as much gold as the ones that other classes get, except it comes with tons more busywork on top of it!

Part seven requires the player to accomplish a task inside an instance. Again, this is something you need a group for, even though you can't share the quest with them. I haven't had the time to organize such a group yet, so despite hours and hours of post-60 effort, and hundreds of gold pieces, I *still* don't have my "free" fast horse yet. And though a few parts of the quest line have been enjoyable, these are more than offset by the annoying ones, and by the overall sense of bait-and-switch. If I ever get another Paladin to 60, I may just buy a standard mount, rather than go through this nonsense again.
alexxkay: (Default)
While I think World of Warcraft is, overall, a masterpiece of game design, even a master stumbles now and then. I'm in the middle of an experience that strikes me as a pretty major stumble.

My Blood Elf Paladin has recently hit Level 60, a major milestone in the life of any WoW character. Among other things, 60 is when you get to upgrade your horse to a much faster one, reducing total travel time significantly. For most players, buying the horse upgrade is a significant expense. For Paladins...

When you talk to semi-informed people about the Paladin class, one of the perks they mention is, "...and you get a free horse!" This turns out to be only approximately true. Your initial horse is, indeed, free. The upgrade at level 60, however, is anything but.

To get your L60 horse upgrade, you have to complete a seven-part quest chain. In and of itself, this is reasonable -- but this particular quest chain has lots of problems. The first two steps are trivial, "Go and speak to X".

With the third, things get annoying. You are sent on a shopping trip to pick up 4 sets of items, plus deliver the questgiver 150 gold on top of that. Already this 'free' is looking a lot more expensive than I had thought. The first of the four item stacks, Runecloth, is easy to get, any humanoid of an appropriate level range has a good chance of dropping some. The second, Arcanite Bars, can only be created by high-level Alchemist player characters, and requires rare components provided in turn by Mining PCs (who are almost never also Alchemists). The third type of item you need, Sungrass, is only created by PC Herbalists. The fourth stack is five Dark Runes -- which are fairly rare drops that are only found inside an instance, and an instance that you need to solve a long quest chain just to be eligible to enter! Moreover, the quest, despite coming with an associated scroll object that has room for unlimited text within it, doesn't tell you how to find *ANY* of this. Guide Dang It! Even if you *did* know where they came from, you couldn't possibly get them all yourself without a lot of help. In practice, I expect most players end up getting all of these items from the Auction House, where they are not cheap.

Part four of the quest is "Go kill these undead." Perfectly reasonable.

Part five is "Go get this heavily-guarded item from the Bad Guys." OK, although it isn't really reasonable to solo this part. It's not hard to complete this part with a friend or two, but I object to being forced to group up for a class-specific quest. It's much more fun to be able to share quests with other people.

For part six, we're back to a shopping trip. This time, pretty much literally. You need four items. Two of these are only available from NPC vendors, and their only purpose in the game is to be part of this quest. So that's another 200 gold down the tubes, only slightly prettied up with a microscopic fictional gloss. A third is an Azerothian Diamond, another rare Mining item. The fourth, a Pristine Black Diamond is another super-rare drop that's only found inside instances -- more instances than just one, at least, but still something you can't get by soloing. Once again, the quest gives no indication of where to find the rare ingredients. Once again, the average player is likely to resort to the Auction House. This "free" horse is looking to cost just as much gold as the ones that other classes get, except it comes with tons more busywork on top of it!

Part seven requires the player to accomplish a task inside an instance. Again, this is something you need a group for, even though you can't share the quest with them. I haven't had the time to organize such a group yet, so despite hours and hours of post-60 effort, and hundreds of gold pieces, I *still* don't have my "free" fast horse yet. And though a few parts of the quest line have been enjoyable, these are more than offset by the annoying ones, and by the overall sense of bait-and-switch. If I ever get another Paladin to 60, I may just buy a standard mount, rather than go through this nonsense again.
alexxkay: (Default)
I haven't had much time for WoW lately, between strawberry harvesting taking a chunk out of my day, new videogames, and many nights being Too Hot. But there's a few anecdotes from the past couple of months that I never got around to posting.

I spend a fair amount of my WoW time 'playing the Auction House', buying low and selling high. Most items that sell for a lot do so because they are useful for gameplay. Others sell because they are status symbols of one sort or another. Some of those are status symbols that sell because of how *useless* they are. Many of the magic items in WoW are semi-randomly generated, granting boosts to player stats that vary within a small, pre-determined range. Shortly after the release of the first expansion pack, something went wrong with this system, and many high-level items were created that granted "+0" to various statistics. The bug was quickly fixed, and no more such items are now generated. But the ones which had been created remained in existence. Unexpected side effect: all these buggy items are now rare collectors items, and fetch high prices at auction!

If you get a character to a high proficiency at Engineering, they can learn how to build "Ultra-Safe Transporters" that will instantly teleport them to various cities in the world. When Engineers (either goblin or gnomish) label something "Ultra-Safe", you have to expect some glitches. It always gets you where you're going... more or less. Sometimes it gets the X and Y coordinates right, but you materialize about 1000 feet up -- better hope you have a Slow Fall spell! Or you can get the Evil Twin debuff, which lasts for a few hours, and gives you a black goatee for the duration. Recently, I was subject to a 'Synchronization Error' debuff, which turned me into a kobold for five seconds, then a murloc for another five seconds before wearing off and restoring me to normal.

Someone on the Burning Crusade team was a big Firefly fan. I think I've mentioned before that there is a pretty gnomish Engineering trainer named K. Lee Smallfry, who professes a great fondness for strawberries. A while back, I was fishing in the same zone she hangs out in. While fishing a 'pile of debris', I hooked a 'Mysterious piece of debris' that started a quest. K. Lee wanted to see it, since it looked like it 'just fell out of the sky'. Now we know where the pieces that fall off of Serenity wind up!
alexxkay: (Default)
I haven't had much time for WoW lately, between strawberry harvesting taking a chunk out of my day, new videogames, and many nights being Too Hot. But there's a few anecdotes from the past couple of months that I never got around to posting.

I spend a fair amount of my WoW time 'playing the Auction House', buying low and selling high. Most items that sell for a lot do so because they are useful for gameplay. Others sell because they are status symbols of one sort or another. Some of those are status symbols that sell because of how *useless* they are. Many of the magic items in WoW are semi-randomly generated, granting boosts to player stats that vary within a small, pre-determined range. Shortly after the release of the first expansion pack, something went wrong with this system, and many high-level items were created that granted "+0" to various statistics. The bug was quickly fixed, and no more such items are now generated. But the ones which had been created remained in existence. Unexpected side effect: all these buggy items are now rare collectors items, and fetch high prices at auction!

If you get a character to a high proficiency at Engineering, they can learn how to build "Ultra-Safe Transporters" that will instantly teleport them to various cities in the world. When Engineers (either goblin or gnomish) label something "Ultra-Safe", you have to expect some glitches. It always gets you where you're going... more or less. Sometimes it gets the X and Y coordinates right, but you materialize about 1000 feet up -- better hope you have a Slow Fall spell! Or you can get the Evil Twin debuff, which lasts for a few hours, and gives you a black goatee for the duration. Recently, I was subject to a 'Synchronization Error' debuff, which turned me into a kobold for five seconds, then a murloc for another five seconds before wearing off and restoring me to normal.

Someone on the Burning Crusade team was a big Firefly fan. I think I've mentioned before that there is a pretty gnomish Engineering trainer named K. Lee Smallfry, who professes a great fondness for strawberries. A while back, I was fishing in the same zone she hangs out in. While fishing a 'pile of debris', I hooked a 'Mysterious piece of debris' that started a quest. K. Lee wanted to see it, since it looked like it 'just fell out of the sky'. Now we know where the pieces that fall off of Serenity wind up!
alexxkay: (Default)
As ever, Blizzard really steps up to the plate for this holiday.

Molten Core comes to consoles -- starting with the Atari 2600. (Be sure to watch the trailer video!)

New Bard Class with special Guitar controller.
alexxkay: (Default)
As ever, Blizzard really steps up to the plate for this holiday.

Molten Core comes to consoles -- starting with the Atari 2600. (Be sure to watch the trailer video!)

New Bard Class with special Guitar controller.
alexxkay: (Default)
I haven't actually played for a few days, but during a quiet day at work, I read some intriguing news about upcoming changes. Blizzard is concerned about the widely perceived (relative) suckiness of the 20-60 experience, and is taking measures to address it. These measures are unfortunately going to be fairly brute force, but they are much better than nothing. Basically, they are just going to turn up the XP dial on those levels, so that players progress about 30% faster. I would have preferred new and improved content, but this is clearly a much easier change to implement, and one that was probably easier to justify to their accountants.

(Of course, the downside of this is that the min-max-er side of my brain now thinks that any playing time in those level ranges is 'wasted' until such time as these changes take place. I shall try and overcome this.)

In addition, several (but not all) formerly Elite mob groups in those level ranges are going to lose their Elite status. Two examples that were called out were Stromgarde Keep in Arathi Highlands and the Crushridge Ogres in Alterac. The general reasoning appears to be that, in those relatively-sparsely-populated levels, it's difficult to get a PUG together for just a few group quests, and this problem will only get worse as they speed up the leveling curve. Makes sense to me. I eventually did do both those quest areas, but only way over-leveled and solo, and only because I was a completist.

On a similar note, this week's incremental patch, in addition to unlocking a bunch of holiday content, also installed a large number of new graveyards in zones where they were formerly sparse, thus making corpse runs there much less punishing. And I've been noticing new flight paths turning up in various parts of the old world as well.

All these changes point to an interesting trend. When WoW first came out, many pre-existing MMO players derided its mechanics as simplistic, and its gameplay as too easy and free of real risk. Hardcore PvPers referred to the non-PvP servers as "carebear". Yet WoW was a great success and continues to be. Since launch, they have moved further and further in this ease-of-use direction, with only occasional forays into a more punishing one. Nor have they overshot yet: 9 million active accounts and still climbing.

During production of BioShock, one of our primary goals was to make a game that, while strategically deep, was still extremely accessible: our mantra was "Does this say 'Yes!' to the player?" Blizzard seems to have embraced a similar philosophy. And as much as the grognards grumble, it seems to me that this is clearly the way the medium moves forward. I, for one, welcome our accessible overlords!
alexxkay: (Default)
I haven't actually played for a few days, but during a quiet day at work, I read some intriguing news about upcoming changes. Blizzard is concerned about the widely perceived (relative) suckiness of the 20-60 experience, and is taking measures to address it. These measures are unfortunately going to be fairly brute force, but they are much better than nothing. Basically, they are just going to turn up the XP dial on those levels, so that players progress about 30% faster. I would have preferred new and improved content, but this is clearly a much easier change to implement, and one that was probably easier to justify to their accountants.

(Of course, the downside of this is that the min-max-er side of my brain now thinks that any playing time in those level ranges is 'wasted' until such time as these changes take place. I shall try and overcome this.)

In addition, several (but not all) formerly Elite mob groups in those level ranges are going to lose their Elite status. Two examples that were called out were Stromgarde Keep in Arathi Highlands and the Crushridge Ogres in Alterac. The general reasoning appears to be that, in those relatively-sparsely-populated levels, it's difficult to get a PUG together for just a few group quests, and this problem will only get worse as they speed up the leveling curve. Makes sense to me. I eventually did do both those quest areas, but only way over-leveled and solo, and only because I was a completist.

On a similar note, this week's incremental patch, in addition to unlocking a bunch of holiday content, also installed a large number of new graveyards in zones where they were formerly sparse, thus making corpse runs there much less punishing. And I've been noticing new flight paths turning up in various parts of the old world as well.

All these changes point to an interesting trend. When WoW first came out, many pre-existing MMO players derided its mechanics as simplistic, and its gameplay as too easy and free of real risk. Hardcore PvPers referred to the non-PvP servers as "carebear". Yet WoW was a great success and continues to be. Since launch, they have moved further and further in this ease-of-use direction, with only occasional forays into a more punishing one. Nor have they overshot yet: 9 million active accounts and still climbing.

During production of BioShock, one of our primary goals was to make a game that, while strategically deep, was still extremely accessible: our mantra was "Does this say 'Yes!' to the player?" Blizzard seems to have embraced a similar philosophy. And as much as the grognards grumble, it seems to me that this is clearly the way the medium moves forward. I, for one, welcome our accessible overlords!
alexxkay: (Default)
It's been ages since I've posted one of these. Time to clear it out and start a new one :-)

cut for those not interested in WoW )
alexxkay: (Default)
It's been ages since I've posted one of these. Time to clear it out and start a new one :-)

cut for those not interested in WoW )
alexxkay: (Default)
Funniest World of Warcraft related thing I've seen in ages: "I Am Murloc".

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Alexx Kay

June 2017

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