Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I Think I Misplaced My Ovaries

Under the heading of 'bad assumptions', I had one of those WoW moments last week where I can't decide to be amused, offended, or baffled.

Last Wednesday I had the day off but the kids were at school and my wife was at work.  Woot!  WoW time!  Well, Blizz decided to perform the downtime on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, so I got a late start on any goofing around.  I finally got logged into A-52 early in the afternoon, and Neve quickly got into first a Dark Portal and then a Magister's Terrace run.*

The group was chatty enough, which was good because we wiped repeatedly on MgT.  I'm pretty sure that it had something to do with the three Death Knights in the group, two of which didn't know what to do at all.  I described them in guild chat as Larry, Moe, and Curly, and you can just imagine the ineptitude at play.  Sometime after the third or fourth wipe, we took a short break to repair our gear.

"Do we have enough time to finish this?" one of the DKs asked.

"Sure!  I'm on leave!"  "I can.  School's on break."  "Same here."

"I'm fine," I replied after checking the clock.  "The kids don't get off of school for a couple more hours."

That announcement kind of brought the others up short.

"That's cool!  I wish my mom played WoW."  "Same here."

I'll be honest.  I didn't know what to say.

I know plenty of women who play WoW (it was Soul's wife who got me into playing in the first place), so I don't think it unusual.  I know moms who play during the day, too.  However, these kids made the very incorrect leap from "kids at school" to "mom", and I felt I ought to set the record straight.

At the same time, I wondered whether it would do any good to say anything.  Any striving for accuracy aside, was it such a bad thing to leave them thinking that I was a woman?  There wasn't anything resembling flirting going on, and there definitely wasn't any preferential treatment my way.  The first rule of WoW is that you don't know who is on the other end of the computer unless you get on Vent or Mumble; making assumptions in an MMO can get you in hot water. 

In the end, I decided to just not say anything and just keep running the instance.  You could argue that it was dishonest to let them believe otherwise --and I'd not disagree with you, either-- but what kept running through my mind was that I play with the people they imagined me to be, and that maybe it was an eye opening experience for them.  If there was more asshatery going on --as opposed to ineptitude-- I might have responded differently, but I figured there was no sense in busting their bubble over that.

*I finished up the BC Dungeon Achievement at-level, since I know that I probably won't be able to solo these later instances as a Mage until L85, and MGT probably not at all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Cataclysmic Gripe

Even though I haven't reached the Cata zones yet, that hasn't stopped me from three gripes about the expansion:

Oopsie About that Flying Thing

With Old World flying, you can fly everywhere in (non-BG) Azeroth.  Except for the BC starting areas and Quel'Danas, that is.

How ironic is that?  The expansion that introduced flying mounts into Azeroth is the one place where you can find Old World flying blocked.  Others might not find that much of a big deal, given the empty shells that Silvermoon and The Exodar are, but those places are special to me.  My big three toons are two Blood Elves and a Draenei, and I was really looking forward to pulling out my Dragonhawk and going flying in Eversong Forest.  Hell, I've been known to take the flight point back and forth from Tranquillien just so I can enjoy the view.

I know that Blizz wasn't planning on revisiting the BC and Northrend zones for a little while, but they at least put in flight points in Azuremist and Eversong.  The least they could do is enable flying there too.

Okay, Here's The Situation

If you haven't started a Goblin character, you ought to do it just to check out the starting zone.  It is unlike anything else in WoW, and that includes previous winner, Azuremist Isle.  It is steampunk taken to a Tim Burton Gotham-esque degree, and has lots of awesome in it.  (The Pleasure Palace has a putt-putt course in it.  How awesome is that?)

My complaint, you ask?

Blizz has a tendency to put in pop culture references everywhere, and I don't mind that.  Really.  But did we have to have a zone and a race (Goblins) that is The Godfather crossed with Jersey Shore?  It's like every bad Italian American stereotype coming home to roost.  And did we really need to see Snookie's hairdo on female Goblins?  As if we don't see her on the news enough, we now get to see her on Azeroth.  It almost makes you long for the days of Harris Pilton.

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi -- WoW Goblin in Disguise?

You're Taking me to Where?

I don't mind the snuffing of the Worgen.  Really.  I don't have a dog, so it took me a few minutes to realize what it was; once I figured it wasn't some bizarre sound from an instance that I never noticed because I had the sound down, that is.  The over-the-top cockney accent doesn't bother me either.  If you've got kids and you still like Mary Poppins, you can handle the Worgen accents.  What bothers me is the face that the female Worgen toons have.  With those eyes and that expression, they look like you just told them they're going to the vet to get spayed.

EtA:  Added Snooki's pic so the people who thankfully aren't exposed to the show can see what I'm talking about.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holy Crap!? Did that just happen?

I had an incredible stretch of good fortune in Warcraft this past weekend, and I thought I'd brag share it with you all.

I saved up enough coming into the expansion that I had my major expenses out of the way.  I had already bought my master flying the first day it was available (screw you, Blizz, for lowering the cost by a grand a week after I bought it).  And I still had a good chunk of cash going into the expansion.  I'm now only one zone away and only about 40 quests away from having loremaster of cataclysm done, and that was a good chunk of money I'd saved from vendoring quest rewards.

I've also gotten my JC up high enough to start selling a cut blue gem on the AH and made some nice cash before quite a few others people now have the +60 stam gem.

Titansteel is also ridiculously cheep right now.  I snagged 12 bars and two arctic furs for about 500 gold, and then went farming for 80 bars of cobalt.  And I went back to questing for a while until I had over 12500 gold, and contacted a guild engineer and HAD MY VERY OWN CHOPPER MADE!

Yeah, yeah ground mounts are mostly useless now - but shut up!  Yer just jealous. 

So I go back to questing to remake some money to pay for repairs and the like when lo-and-behold I looted an 85 BOE epic.  My jaw dropped - and sunk even lower when I saw the going rate for BOE epics on the AH. 

I netted myself a cool 18,500 gold and promptly bought a travelers tundra mammoth too!


And after questing a bit more, I'm back up to roughly 3500 gold again!

And I hit a nice milestone too - Cataclysmically Superior!

What an awesome weekend.  I'm still in disbelief.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

True Stories

The past 48 hours in WoW have produced some moments that make you shake your head.

Ding and Drop in Unique Fashion

Tomakan was sitting at L67, only two bars away, so I figured I'd dial up Alterac Valley and push him over the top that way.  He did make it to L68, but he got to be witness to a crash and burn of an AV run in epic fashion.

The BG started off fine, with the Alliance quickly capturing the middle towers and killing Galv.  We also defended our own towers and took the mines.  Soon, there were only the two Frostwolf towers and Drek's homebase left for the Horde to defend.  In terms of reinforcements, we were up 380 to 110.

Then the bottom dropped out.

The Horde turtled in the home base and eventually pushed out to a chokepoint south which we simply could not break.  We still seemed to be in control, being up 130 to 40, but then a few of their Rogues slipped out from the firefight and began killing our reinforcements wholesale.  A few people chased them down, but a few more Rogues slipped through and the process started all over again. 

People in BG chat were shrieking at us to go around the chokepoint, as we didn't have much of a chance to kill off reinfocements, but those people didn't realize there was a second wave of Hordies behind the first to make sure we didn't do any damage.  Believe me, I tried.

So our numbers dropped.  110 to 40.  90 to 40.  60 to 37.  40 to 37.  20 to 34.

At last, painfully, it was over.  We had just snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.


How Not to Get an Achievement

I was on Neve in Coldarra, waiting for the LFD queue to spit something out.  In the meantime, I was working on the Alexstraza quest chain.  I was flying around, collecting shards, when a nearby Wyrmkin aggroed on me.  No big deal, really:  Frostbolt plus Fingers of Frost = dead Wyrmkin.  I then mounted up and leapt off the cliff I was on.

My mount squawked.

And I immediately got the Going Down? achievement.

"Oops," I said in guild chat.  "Wrong mount."


The Puzzling Case of the Disappearing Healer

Tomakan's second instance run in Northrend was memorable due to the number of healers we went through.  The first run had tank/healer drama ("If you pull one more time while I stop to drink, I'm not healing you, you dumb ass!"), but the second run was... more mysterious.

At the beginning of the run, the tank said to be patient with him as this was his first time tanking.  This was no longer a big deal to me, as I'd survived the "DK tankfail" wave in Outland.  In fact, this tank was pretty damn good.  He took his time, but he knew who to pull and when.  The guy had obviously done his homework.

However, the healers kept disappearing.

We'd gotten through the Furnace of hate and through the first hallways, and then the healer dropped mid-pull right before the Blood Prince.  Naturally, we wiped. 

So, a second healer ported in and we finished off the trash and the Blood Prince.  Then he dropped right before the second pair of Bosses.

A third healer came in, but we wiped in the Boss fight because the healer stopped healing.  Believe me, I watched the bars, trying to decide when to pick up the slack.  Problem was, I was #2 on the DPS chart, and things were going awfully slow as it was.  So we wiped, and that third healer dropped.

By now, I was just happy to have a healer that stuck around through a single fight.  A fourth healer ported in during the runback, and she flatly stated that if we were on the last boss she was going to drop.  "No," we told her, "we're on the second."

We finished the second pair of bosses, and wonder of wonders, this healer didn't drop.  She didn't seem happy, either, but at least she stuck around.

And then the Death Knight running as DPS started spamming party chat with guild recruitment posts.

I'm still not sure how we finished off Ingvar with a huge chat bubble floating over him from that DK, blocking off all viewing.

But if you're on Deathwing server, I do know that there's a guild recruiting.

EtA:  Convoy to L85 Update:

Nevelanthana (Area 52) -- L71
Tomakan (Ysera) -- L69
Quintalan (Area 52) -- L80 (and enjoying the fishing in the Dal fountain)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Time for a Convoy

I think it's time for an experiment (of sorts).

Quintalan is basically sitting around Dal, cooling his jets, while I've been leveling Tomakan and Neve.  I could send him straight into the Cataclysm zones, but I've been reluctant to do so.  It has nothing to do with being put off by the Great Cataclysm Race, but a realization that if I push ahead with Q I'd shelve these other two for a long while.

There's also a bit of a daredevil mentality at work here.  Just how hard is it to hop on an 18-wheeler and drive a toon straight up through L85 without stopping to farm heroics?

I've read online a lot of "you can go straight to L85 without stopping, but it will be a bit harder," but exactly how hard is "harder" the posters kind of left blank.  When you ding L80, you typically have a bunch of iL187 and iL200 gear, with a mixture of lower level gear thrown in.  This is especially true if you've been leveling through instances like I have, and you don't get those questing gear drops to round out your equipment.  For example, I only recently replaced Tom's cloak; he'd been using something he picked up circa the last two Scarlet Monastery instances all the way through L66 simply because he didn't get a DPS type cloak to drop that entire time.  (Well, one that he won in a roll, anyway.)

What this means is that it's entirely possible Neve or Tom could ding 80 and still have a residual piece of BC gear on them.  And those are the toons I'll be taking straight into the Cataclysm zones.

Okay, I'll eventually get around to getting Q to L85, but right now I've got a good thing going:  leveling Tom in the early morning, and Neve in the lunchtime (or late afternoon).  I figure to ride this convoy straight to L85 and see what happens.  I'll make a point of taking a gear snapshot of each toon once they ding 80 and see how things change over the Cat leveling experience.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

What I Did on the First Day of Cataclysm

Mostly, I sat in line.

I logged in, discovered that the new areas were swamped, and stayed on Neve.

Shadowmoon was empty.

So were the BC instance queues.

I figured that there ought to be more people like me who felt that the new level areas could wait while the people rushing to get to L85 finished, but I didn't guess at how few people there would be.  The line for a BC instance --even with the new battlegroup combinations-- was 30 minutes minimum.  This was well up from 5-6 minutes that was in place a day ago.

Therefore, I made certain that I did a few quests to creep closer to L70.

Oh, and I created a Goblin Rogue, named Jíg after the main character in Goblin Quest. (Sheesh.  Someone already named a Goblin 'Jig' by 5:00 AM EST.  Jim C. Hines would be so proud.)

What did you do on your first day?

EtA:  Amusing moment of the day:  Curiosities and Moore is now a consignment shop.

Friday, December 3, 2010

In Case You Ever Wondered...

...whether pop culture has taken note of the upcoming release:

'Nuff said.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Die, cardboard video game box, die!

For a brief stint after moving to the larger city area I now live close to, I took a job working at a local video game retailer.

When I started there was two shelves for PC games, and one shelf for used PC games.  Steadily over the year I worked there I saw the space reserved for PC games shrink; and now when you visit a store, there's barely ANY space reserved for PC games.

I used to think this was a bad thing, because it indicated the slow demise of PC gaming.  What I didn't realize back then that digital distribution was just starting to offer PC games, and it was becoming fairly popular.  Which probably coincided with the decline of shelf space in local retailers.  I believe another contributing factor is the availability of high speed internet.  You may laugh, but my parents only recently had high speed introduced to their neck of the woods (satellite was available previously, but crazy expensive).

I recently signed up for a Steam account, and have been pretty happy with the level of services offered by the application - a nice friends list with chat messenger, community pages, and a library of your purchased games that are available for download when ever you want them (if you haven't already downloaded them).  I'll never misplace software, or a booklet with a game activation code on it, because it's available digitally. 

And what's even better is they run specials and have some pretty good games for REALLY cheap.

Now, I'm not some Steam fanboi, I'm just setting the stage for the experience I received last night upon my trip to the local game store.

I went to cancel my two preorders for Cataclysm, and move the money I had placed as a down payment onto a gift card to use as a Christmas gift.  And I couldn't believe the attitude of the clerks.  I walk in and explain what I'd like to do and the guy chides "Oh, excellent."  Not in that Mr. Burns from the Simpsons way, and even in a genuine tone of voice - it was that I'm-working-a-job-I-hate-and-being-a-complete-asshole-to-everybody voice.

So, I'm already a little miffed, and the clerk launches into a tirade about how I should throw down some money on the preorder of DragonAge II he saw me looking at.  I tell him no thanks, I just want the money on the gift card, and the second clerk pipes up and again applies preassure trying to get me to preorder the game. 

Look people, I walked in and clearly explained exactly what I wanted.  I didn't ask to be hasseled about any preorders, and I certinaly didn't ask to join your discount card program (I worked there.. I know it's a scam).

I was just all around irritated when I left.  And I don't think I'll be going back.

I got home and hopped on my computer, loaded up the Blizzard website and click click click - Presto!  Two accounts upgraded to Cataclysm with only the need to maybe download a patch on the day of release.  No trouble at all.

I'm going to be doing all of my gaming purchases digitally from now on, tyvm.