An Acceptable Compromise

Rarely have I seen one issue cause so much discussion and venom in one community as the recent discussions about flying in World of Warcraft in Draenor and beyond.  So many of the people I’ve seen agree about other things in WoW were on opposite sides in this one and the discussion wasn’t always civil.  Personally, I am probably a rarity in the discussion, I didn’t care either way.  If flight was offered I might use it, if not then I’m ok with it not being there.  When I’m leveling whether it be main or alt, I do it without flight anyways.  I love the leveling experience and feel that I can only be totally immersed in the world if I’m in the world.  You don’t have the excitement of having to dodge that pack of Nagrand scavengers is you are flying above them.  I also realize that this is just my view on things and others don’t get the same enjoyment out of it that I do.  This is why I think that the way that Blizzard is introducing flying in this particular expansion is a good idea.

Gated flight is not a new concept in WoW, we have had it every expansion so far that I’ve played (I started in Wrath).  Up to this point, once you got your first character to max level you could purchase an unlock that would unlock for all you characters on that server.  This would normally mean that everyone would quickly push to max level then go back and experience what the rest of the content that they wanted to experience and avoid most of the danger, etc.. that came with it.  What they have decided to do now (incase you missed it, which I highly doubt) is actually gate the capability to fly behind content.  I like this idea.  The decision means that players will actually see the content that the developers have created (even if it’s forced upon them) and will hopefully get people out of their garrisons and actually doing stuff in the world.  I know this isn’t popular or acceptable for everyone (I wouldn’t mind seeing a PvP option for flight for those that don’t PvE), but I think it was the best way for the developers to give the community what it seems that most have been wanting while still staying to true to what they wanted from this expansion.

I look forward to 6.2 and all the new it brings and will see you all in the friendly skies when I’ve completed all the prerequisites.

Goodbye to an Old Friend #ThankyouWoWInsider

Yesterday we got confirmation that AOL is closing down Joystiq and all sites associated with it.  That includes WoW Insider.  I made a quick tweet about it yestyerday.Tweet

I actually mean that.  If it wasn’t for WoW insider, I don’t think I would be part of the twitter community.  I started on twitter as a way to keep track of new posts and to gain insight from the writers as many times they would answer questions on twitter as well.  What I found once I started exploring was a rich and vibrant community.  A group of people that are supportive and all share a great love for this game that Blizzard has made for us.  I’ve become friends with many of these people and even managed to find the guild I am now part of because of it.

But that isn’t all that WoW insider has been to me.  If it wasn’t for WoW insider I don’t know that I ever would have started blogging at all.  By showing me these blogs with all these amazing writers with such passion for their subjects, it made me want to share my thoughts as well.  WoW Insider has even affected the way that I play WoW.  My main is a shaman and has been almost since I started.  Until I started reading the shaman posts on WoW Insider, I would only heal for friends and then only on old content.  I didn’t have the knowledge or toolset to really consider healing otherwise, but seeing @LodurZJ and the other shaman writers have such a passion for healing as a shaman led me to dig deeper in the information and eventually try it myself.  I still don’t main spec heal, but I no longer have the trepidation about healing when needed.

I’m sorry to see what is happening to the site and all the outstanding writers and I hope all of you find a way to land on your feet.  I look forward to reading/seeing your work in whatever fashion it may come in.  May your passion continue to shine through, and through all of us may WoW Insider and the community it created live on forever.

 

It’s Been Awhile

It’s been about a year and a half since I last tried to be serious about blogging and wrote anything other than a quick thought or quick update post.  It has been an interesting few years.  In the summer of 2012 I retired from the military and embarked on the adventure of a civilian career.  I found very quickly that my breadth of experience was both a boon and a hindrance.  While it would get me in the door for interviews with most companies, it wasn’t comprehensive enough to get me the jobs that I wanted.  Partly out of frustration I took the first job to come along that was willing to pay me similar to what I was making in the military.  It wasn’t in my normal wheelhouse, but I was able to adapt and learn quickly. About this same time I also started going back to college.  It has now been 2.5 years since that day.  I have changed jobs once, to get me back to Florida, and as of earlier this month, I’ve now completed my degree.  This has given me an opportunity to actually play some video games again.  This isn’t to say that I haven’t been playing, I just haven’t been able to dedicate the same amount of time to them.  I’ve tried to stay active on twitter and in the conversations as I have been able, but it’s hard sometimes when I was sometimes only playing once a week, if that.  I’m still not sure if this will be a true return to blogging, but it is something that I enjoy doing when I get the chance.  I ask that you don’t expect regular posts, but I do have a few ideas brewing that I am planning out posts on, so we will see how that goes.  Hopefully there are some that still want to hear what I say, if not, I write these mainly for me anyways.  Thanks for reading my ramblings.

Gear Thoughts from a Sometimes Raider

I’m seeing a lot of discussion on twitter today on about gearing in WoW and thought it might be a good idea while the thoughts are running through my head, to put them down somewhere.  First where I’m coming from.  I’m  a part time/causual raider at best.  Most of my experience this expansion has been flex with some normal thrown in and a lot of LFR.  My iLevel is in the 550 range because of this and taking the time and Valor to do upgrades and such.  Now here is what I think.  I expect to get gear commiserate with the content that I’m doing.  If I’m raiding, I should be getting raid drops, if I’m doing heroic dungeons, I should be getting dungeon gear, and if I’m fighting a world boss that is considered Mythic or Heroic level, I should be getting drops that match that level.  Do I deserve the full mythic raid set just because I’m fighting a mythic level world boss?  No, but I should be able to get some mythic level gear from him.  It probably shouldn’t be tier gear, but it should be of equivelant level and stats.  I guess what I’m saying is if you want the gear do the content, with LFG/LFR you still have ways to do the content on your time.  Just my two cents.

Other site shut down

Because of my lack of blogging and the fact that I’ve moved recently, I shut down Amongtheelements.info  If I post anything new it will be here until further notice.  Not sure if you will see anything or not, still working that out myself as I’m kind of taking a bit of a break, but if I do, I will let you all know.

My Site has moved

My site has moved. To read new content head to http://www.amongtheelements.info

MoP Update – Klanu the Tauren Monk

Just a few quick thoughts I wanted to get out.  First  was wrong about the new frames.  Roll animations for non-Pandarens not out yet.  As I’ve gotten further with my Tauren monk, (he’s level 8 now)  I notice it more, especially with the kicks.  That being said, I’m having fun with it.  Though I should probably swap out the default weapons at some point, it would probably improve my damage.  Thanks for reading my rambles.  Comments and Criticisms are always welcome.

Mists of Pandaria Beta – First Impressions [SPOILERS]

With this newest wave of invites I have finally joined the mass of Annual Pass people who are playing in the MoP Beta.  I wanted to do a quick write up about my first impressions with the beta.  I do know that it is beta and things are subject to change, and I will keep writing about things I see as the beta progresses.

Say hello to Bearidar, he is my Pandaren Warrior.  I decided to use him to test the new starter zone.  The zone itself is very saturated on most test servers as everyone who joins wants to play a Panda, but that being said, I managed to complete the zone in about two hours without any real bottlenecks.  The first 10 levels through this zone are all about your training and helping to heal the land that has started to rebel.  You are mainly fighting different types of Hozun or Varmin, while working to bring the elements to the Temple of the Five winds.  You are assisted in this by the fiery Ji Firepaw and the sedate Aysa Cloudsinger.  Upon reaching level 10 you accompany the two of them to talk to the turtle that is the island, to find out what ails it.  He tells you that he has a thorn in his side and asks you to remove it.  You fly over to that area, see the crashed ship and then head back to the Temple before heading down to the contested area.  Without getting into what happens down there, I haven’t seen the conflict that is supposed to be the main portion of this yet.  You deal with very wounded reps of both factions and honestly you are offered a choice on how to remove the boat from the turtle, but only one faction has even made a suggestion on how it should be done.   It may just be me, but I didn’t feel there was enough of a lead up to the choice for it to be anything but a preference and no difference one way or another.  After making the selection ( I chose horde, because it’s my prefered side), you are transported to the faction capital to have a talk with the faction leader.  Quick note, if Blizzard is trying to make me hate Garrosh more than I already do, his little speech cemented my dislike.  This is where I’ve left him at this point, I will probably remake him a couple of times during the beta just to see changes as they are implemented and see if I can find any bugs.

This is Klanu the Tauren monk.  I am using him to test the monk class.  I have not done much with him yet as was concentrating on other things, but will be leveling him through Mulgore.  I chose to go this route rather than the Panda, because I wanted to test the new class with the least amount of lag I could find.  Only place that I could think of that might have been less would have been Silvermoon.  My initial impression of the class (really initial as I’m only level 5) is that it will be a fun class to play and will definitely present a almost rogue like play style.  It does appear Blizzard has done a lot of good with the skeletons as the movement seemed natural and not overly forced, at least to my untrained eye.  I’m looking forward to seeing more of this class as I progress through the levels.

The final part of what I started on beta was to start my shaman, Bulidar on his road to 90.  At this point they don’t have the beginning quests for Pandaria, just a messenger by Garrosh’s Throne room that will teleport you to one of three locations.  I chose the wreck because from what I had seen that is the actual starting area.  For questing, it’s a lot like Vash’jir initially in that you are going around and recovering things for the survivors, but these portions move relatively quickly, as you complete more and more quests you begin to work your way up to Hellscream’s Hope which is the first of the questing hubs.  So far I have noticed two quests that I see being real bottlenecks when there are a lot of people moving through the area.  The first is wet work that requires you to grab orbs spawned by elementals, the issue is the spawn rate is currently very slow and is one at a time.  This will cause a back up I think.  Luckily that quest is skippable.  The second quest I see as an issue is Acid Rain.  The quest involves you flying around bombing Hozun with poisoned throwing stars.  With about 30 people flying around the area simultaneously tonight the quest took about 25 minutes to complete.  I can’t imagine what it will be like if there is more.

Last thing I want to talk about still deals with Bulidar, but is more about the shaman changes.  I like the idea that most of our buffs are innate now and don’t require a totem.  What I have that I’m missing is the Call spells that let us drop multiple totems at once.  The main reason I miss the was that I was able to keymap the single spell to drop all 4 totems, now we are back to the original way it was which means single dropping totems.  Luckily with the buff totems mostly gone this allows us to pick and choose what we drop.  The exception I see to this is enhancement which always needs to have Searing down and anything else will be an additional drop.  I will admit I have only tested enhance so far and still have a lot to try out, but with the exception of totems the gameplay is very similar.

This wraps up my initial impressions.  I will write more as I get deeper into the beta and get more play time.  As always, questions and comments are appreciated.

Thoughts on the Annual Pass

I’ve been watching a lot of what has been going on with the Annual Pass.  I’ve been watching Twitter, reading the forums and posts on other WoW sites and while a lot of what is being posted is the normal qq that always seems to happen when people don’t get things exactly the way they want, I see some legitimate issues with the way it has been handled by Blizzard.

I personally am an Annual Pass subscriber and no I haven’t been invited to the beta yet, however, I’m not upset about it.  I’m an experienced beta tester who has tested for multiple games through  the years and multiple MMO’s as well.  I understand that to keep servers stable you must invite in waves to ensure you are properly supporting everyone playing.  That is not one of the issues I see.  Below are the issues with the annual pass as I see them with my comments in-line.:

  1. Blizzard initially advertises the Annual Pass with the impression that those who signed up would get instant access to beta upon start.  Any of us who are experienced testers knew that this wasn’t going to happen, however most of those that signed up for the annual pass are not your normal testers they are players who enjoy the game and see the beta as a chance to play the new expansion early.  Blizzard could have stopped a lot of the initial complaints by knowing their audience and addressing this upfront.
  2. Blizzard announces that invites will come in waves, inferring individuals would be invited based off activity and when they signed up for the annual pass.  Based off what I’ve been watching from people I know on Twitter and what people are saying on the forums, there appears to be little rhyme or reason to the way invites are being handled.  (Let me emphasis, THIS IS BASED OFF WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING, not what I personally know)  I personally believe this could have been rectified by establishing the wave criteria, publicizing it and then sticking to that, none of which appears to have happened for this process.
  3. Blizzard started out with a small wave initially as is apt to happen when testing first opens up as you are testing only small areas, and then do to outcry seemed to very quickly invite a few very large waves.  This bogged down the questing areas as you had thousands of people all trying to complete the same quests at the same time, as everyone was stuck to one area and new characters. One of two things could have fixed this.  Either put up more servers to handle the load or keep invite numbers down until you can support them.

How would I have done this differently?  I personally would have set up a special beta just for the annual pass people.  It would have been a more stable client on a larger number of servers.  It would have been later in the Beta and would have been a preview, not a test.  I also would have made sure this was all stated up front.  Too much confusion comes from not having all the information on a program easily found.

I must clarify, these are just my thoughts on the situation and how I would handle things differently.  This is not meant to be a complaint post because honestly, while I love testing I understand that I’ll get in when I get in and it doesn’t bother me.

As always comments and criticisms are welcome.  Thanks for letting me rant a bit. (Steps down off the soapbox)

The State of the Horde – A Layman’s View

The Horde through Cataclysm has been stretched to the breaking point.  In my opinion, it’s only a testament to the threat that is Deathwing that they are still together.  Lets step through each of the races and I’ll explain why.

The orcs are the best off of the races.  The introduction of Garrosh for them is a return to the Warchiefs of old.  The orcs love battle and conquering and for them Garrosh’s expansion and aggression fit right in.  The one issue that the orcs currently have is that Garrosh is ill suited to the positions of Warchief.  While he makes a great general and leader, he has little patience for the politics that come with running a nation.  This of course also extends to his interactions with other races.  Garrosh also doesn’t handle being questioned in his decisions or criticized well as evident in his interactions with  Vol’jin and Cairne Bloodhoof.  Garrosh has also spread his elite forces a little thin as he now must keep an eye on a revitalized Sylvanas and the Forsaken.

Sylvanas begins the expansion with a new enemy on her door step and a problem that must be solved on how to continue to grow her race.  Sylvanas has taken care of the latter problem by recruiting the Val’kyr and using them to create new forsaken by resurrecting the fallen of her enemies.  This ends up being most fortuitous as three of the Val’kyr sacrifice themselves to bring her back to life after she is killed by Lord Godfrey and his minions.  Garrosh is using the forsaken to establish a major foothold in Eastern Kingdoms with Sylvanas controlling it under his watchful eye.  Sylvanas and the forsaken army have already wiped out Gilneas and South Shore;  established major operations to wipe out the remaining scourge and push out the alliance from the plaguelands; and pushed into the Arathi Highlands and the Hinterlands looking to gain more ground for the forsaken.  Sylvanas has used the opportunity to refocus her wrath and ensure a safe buffer zone around Lorderan to protect her forsaken.  She has also shown she is not above any means necessary to accomplish her goals, so much so that Garrosh has assigned one of his generals to keep an eye on her and report back with everything she does.  Even with this, Sylvanas and the forsaken are happy with their place in the horde.

Of all the non-orc races the Tauren have the most reason to be upset with Garrosh.  The duel between Garrosh and Cairne cost them a beloved leader.  Garrosh’s incursions into Ashenvale has indirectly caused the destruction of Camp Taurajo.  Surprisingly though, the Tauren still tie their fate to that of the horde.  Baine and the rest of the Tauren feel that they still owe the Horde for saving them and helping them establish a homeland.  Additionally, they know where the responsibility for Cairne’s death lies, squarely on the shoulders of Magatha and her tribe of Grimtotems.  The Tauren did not even ask for help in reclaiming Thunderbluff, the responsibility for that was entirely on the Tauren.  The Tauren’s honor firmly entrenches them with the Horde.

Anyone who has played through the troll starting area since the beginning of Cataclysm knows exactly how Vol’jin feels about Garrosh.  Tensions between the orcs and trolls have never been higher.  Things have gotten so bad that Garrosh has actually banished the Trolls away from central Orgrimarr.  I think the only reason that tensions haven’t been higher is that the Darkspear have been busy dealing with the Zandalari menace in both Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub.  I expect tensions will get worse between the Trolls and the Orcs as Vol’jin has zero respect for Garrosh.

The last and by the opinion of the rest of the races the least of the races, is the Goblins.  The Goblins are currently led by Trade Prince Gallywix.  The Goblins are part of the Horde because they saved Thrall from the Alliance.  Garrosh tolerates them barely.  He likes there capability to build him war machines, but he doesn’t like them as a whole and as such as relegated them to their own slum away from central Orgrimarr.  Even for the mistreatment, the Goblins aren’t going anywhere, the Horde protects them and provides them a good profit source and as such, provide all the Goblins need and want.

The Horde through all it’s stretches and strains has remained mostly strong through Cataclysm, but the cracks are there.  For now though, the future looks bright for the Horde.

As always comments and criticisms are appreciated.

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