Thursday, April 28, 2016

Resisting The Sirens' Song

I've been debating what to do when I finally reach the limit on the LOTRO story and I have to start grinding Turbine Points to pick up another region. In this case, the next region is a biggie, points-wise: The Mines of Moria. I'm very sure I won't be able to grind enough points to purchase the expac before the 9th Anniversary special disappears, so I've come to the conundrum whether to break down and actually purchase some Turbine Points to get this taken care of.

In the meantime, I've been considering that maybe the SWTOR story has advanced far enough that I can jump back into it and not have the urge to stay up all night finishing the story.

And then, on the heels of the Nostralius server shutdown, came this in my e-mail folder:

Just like last time, the timing makes you wonder whether
someone from Blizz is actually reading this blog. Nah....

The thing is, I've done this already. I logged back in for a week and puttered around, but low level BGs were about impossible to get into, and Trade Chat was as bad as ever.* I wasn't about to break my traditional WoW expac methodology and use the instant-L90 boost when I prefer to start at L1 and level all the way up, and seven days is not exactly enough time to level all the way to L90 anyway.

If Warlords of Draenor is as awesome as the e-mail claims, I can wait. By the time my toons got from L1 all the way up to the current expac**, everybody had cleared out of the leveling zones. None of the insane competition for resources worked out well for exploring each new world.

The places that I pause the most and come back to whenever I level are the BC zones. I don't know why, exactly, but the BC zones just fascinate me. Northrend had the occasional hit and miss zone --Boring Tundra, anyone?-- but even Outland's stinker zone Blade's Edge Mountains had plenty of interesting quests and scenery to get lost in. It's a shame that Outland is basically on life support while the devs focus on the new shiny.

Thanks for the offer, Blizz, but I think I'll pass. Now, if you get around to creating a legacy server, I'd be very interested, but I already know the answer to that one.

*I hear people --the mini-Reds among them-- complain about some of the "sellers" on World Chat on LOTRO's Gladden-US server, and I laugh. If they want to see what a really bad MMO chat is like, they need to watch Trade Chat some day.

**If you count Wrath of the Lich King, I've done it four times. I could count my Warlock for a fifth time, but while he made it to Cataclysm's leveling zones he never got to max level. I got too burned out getting creamed in BGs in the Warlock-weak Cata expac.

Friday, April 22, 2016

2016 Has Been Hell on 80s Icons

I've been contemplating how to deviate from the usual focus of PC, but I kind of threw up my hands and said to hell with it.

Prince Rogers Nelson is dead.

While I may have technically been born in the 60s, I am most definitely a child of the 80s.

And that means the soundtrack of my teenage years includes hair metal, heavy metal, prog rock*, new wave, and Prince. Not necessarily in that order.

Make no mistake about it, Prince was an arrogant bastard, but he was also a musical genius. Unlike Yngwie Malmsteen** who, in his arrogance claimed he was better than Bach, Prince was by far Bach's successor in terms of innovation and sound and musicality. Of the musicians who came out of the 80s, he was one of the top icons of the business. Prince changed the way how music meshed --funk and rock, R&B and pop-- and he did it in such a way that popular music was never the same afterward. Like Nirvana in 1991 and David  Bowie in the late 60s, the music world changed when Prince burst onto the scene.

He was also the consummate professional in the same vein of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, never refusing to settle for "pretty good", and always trying to give the audience the best performance possible.

Prince's halftime show at the Super Bowl back in 2007 exemplified this, playing in a driving rainstorm:

Prince was also a very private man who was very protective of his music. Hence, while I'd love to have a Machinima available --set to Prince's music-- I couldn't find any that hadn't already been taken down.

Rest well, Prince. At least you made it past 1999, man.

*Rush. 'Nuff said.

**For the record, I do have his Trilogy album. He's good, but nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. Musicians need confidence to get out on stage and play, but Yngwie makes me roll my eyes.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Where's a Demon Hunter When you Need One?

Looks like WoW's latest expac, Legion, will drop at the end of August.

That's a very very long time for "not much" in the context of new content for Azeroth, but we'll see how that pans out. In terms of context, they're going back to one of their favorite baddies --Gul'dan and the Burning Legion-- so in some respects it'll be a blast from the past.

But this is very much a WoW-at-a-crossroads release. Blizzard is no longer releasing sub numbers, so there won't be that metric to scale against, but they absolutely need a healthy WoW to keep other projects afloat. WoW's profits allow Blizzard the luxury of taking their time on projects to get them "just right" (the soon to be released Overwatch) or to kill a project when it simply isn't working out (Titan). Without those profits, it is likely that (for example) Heroes of the Storm would have ever seen the light of day, as it required a completely different mindset from Blizzard's development team.

Notice I didn't include Activision in this listing. Activision, well, likely has other plans for its Blizzard sibling, and those probably include maximum profit for minimum work. If Legion stalls out early like Warlords did, then that might be the last major expac for WoW; Activision will demand more Heroes of the Storm and less WoW from the Blizzard development team.

Here's to hoping that the MMO standard bearer doesn't fall victim to the bean counters and get put off to a steady state level of support.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Server's Last Minutes

The Vanilla WoW server Nostralius, a "private" WoW server that existed in a somewhat illegal manner outside of the WoW-verse, had to shut down the other day after a cease-and-desist letter came from Blizzard's lawyers.

Someone had managed to capture the final few minutes of Nostralius (Horde-side) and posted the video on YouTube:

Blizzard may not be under any obligation to provide any Vanilla (or BC or Wrath) servers for those fans, but there certainly is a demand for them.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

And now for some Lighter Fare

After the emotional rollercoaster that was the Overwatch short film Alive, I figured you'd want something a bit happier and lighter in tone.

Sure, I could have gone completely off the rails and posted about the NCAA Men's Basketball National Title Game, but not everybody is a college basketball junkie like I am.

But I really like Sneaky Zebra's YouTube videos of cosplayers at Cons around the world, so I thought I'd give them a signal boost for their latest video, from WonderCon 2016:

And, for those more interested in MMO cosplay, their BlizzCon 2015 music video:

Sneaky Zebra also has a Patreon Page, so you can support their work.

No, this isn't Frampton Comes Alive

Blizzard released another short film for Overwatch, and this one hits you right in the feels.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

And before anyone asks, no, I can't play shooters. But I wish this was a third person angle game.