Thursday, August 29, 2019

Various Vanilla Classic Thoughts 70 Hours In

Well, that didn't take long.

Apparently Blizz has relieved most of the congestion by expanding the number of players who can be logged into a WoW Classic server concurrently.

That explains why I didn't have a 30-45 minute wait last evening to get into Myzrael.* Believe me, I'm not complaining, but I'd actually figured it'd take about 30 minutes to get in, so I logged in and went away to do some cleaning, only to turn around and see Azshandra staring back at me a minute or so later.

"I guess that cleaning can wait for a few," I said as I turned off the vacuum cleaner.**


So last night I was told by people in Gen Chat in Darkshore --hey, waiting for your shot at Anaya Dawnrunner means you've got time to kill-- that there's a player who's close to dinging L40 out there. Of course, the slog really starts around that point, so we'll see what happens.

Someone also brought up some numbers that were crunched by Google (or somewhere) that it would take a month straight --at minimum-- to reach L60. I think they were really referencing this article by about leveling. The article does mention that the world record for leveling back in Vanilla was 4 days, 20 hours by Joana, but the one thing it doesn't mention is whether that leveling achievement was done with help or not. For example, Souldat was far ahead of his wife and I in leveling back in Wrath, and to help get his wife to L60 --and into BC-- he basically ran her through Stratholme multiple times so she could get the XP needed to head to Outland. If there's a situation where there's absolutely no help whatsoever, as you're ahead of everybody else, then any advantages of leveling with people who have gone before you simply disappear.


I have resisted the urge to go online and hunt for info on finding things, such as the two tablets in Ameth Aran, which meant that it took me a lot longer to find (no sparkles or marks on the minimap) but the satisfaction in finding the tablets was much higher. It also means that I've been considering writing down stuff more often in a notepad, simply because you have to remember more and pay attention to the quest text more in order to find what you're needing. Or you could ask in game; a lot more people are willing to help on Classic (so far) than what I remember especially on my last couple of years in Cata and Mists. If you asked a question in game --assuming there were people around in the zone, that is-- then you were frequently met with either silence or a "go google it, noob".

I'm reasonably certain the outflowing of assistance will die down a bit once people reach L60 and start doing other things, but for now I'll take it.


The gear drops are a LOT more whites and far fewer greens; and I'd say of the 6 or so greens that I did get as a drop, only two are usable for a Rogue. Apparently I'm not the only one not getting the drops they want, because the auction house is full of low level greens. Given that I'm saving my in game cash as much as I can, I can look from afar but not touch. Of course, it makes questing that much harder, as you're frequently undergeared even compared to Wrath, but I learned the hard way to cut back on the number of enemies I engage at once.

Classic is a lot closer to Age of Conan than anything else in terms of mobs taking you out, and how easily they aggro on you. This is what I remember the most, especially in the troll city in The Hinterlands, when I was leveling Q as a Holy Pally back then: you defeat a mob at a time, but you progress so slowly (and eat+drink after every fight) that the mobs respawn behind you and make an already difficult job even worse.

One last similarity between Classic and Age of Conan: if you take on an enemy 2-3 levels higher than you, good luck. They hit much harder than you, and you have a much harder time defending against them. Even enemies that are 2 levels below you can take you out if they have the right debuffs against you, such as weakening your armor or making it harder for you to hit. When you finally get an interrupt for your toon, it's a godsend.


Finally, the last question: am I enjoying myself?

Yes. Absolutely yes.

Active --and chatty-- zones, old school finding of quests, difficult combat, and random kindness of strangers is a wonderful thing to see. Active guild recruitment is another thing that's nice as well, even though I haven't exactly pulled the trigger on anything yet.

I know, the sky is falling: Red might actually rejoin an MMO guild for the first time since I was last in WoW, 4 years ago.*** That I've been considering breaking my long standing refusal to join a guild after the nuclear meltdown of the Horde guild and the fading away of the Alliance guild is a measure of how different the Classic community has been so far.

But let's be honest, here: 95% of the guild advertisements I've seen so far have all been similar pitches: room for everyone, just having a good time, group or not is fine with us, etc. The rare progression oriented guild advertisement has been polite, but made it perfectly clear they want raiders. I suspect that this guild advertisement imbalance really is a thing, and not just a lot of people happy to be in Classic, because of one big reason: age.

The Gen Chat discussions have repeatedly come back to variations on "wow, this is great to be back, I was ## old when I first played Vanilla, and now I've got kids and commitments." When people in Classic do the "how old are you to be playing Classic?" question, my age**** is never the oldest out there. Frequently I see people saying they're in their 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. Those are all people with commitments, families, and activities outside of gaming, and that means they simply don't have the time for raiding that they used to have when they were much younger. And let's be honest, my reflexes aren't what they were 5 or 10 years ago, and I'm sure that people in the upper half of that age group who'd like to raid might be rejected by raiding guilds as people who just aren't pulling their weight. So the desire to play casual, just enjoying the ride, is likely stronger in the Classic group than in Retail WoW as a whole.

Hmm.... I wandered waaaay afield for that response.

Yes. I really am enjoying myself. And yes, I intend to keep going, but I'll re-evaluate after every 60 days.

*In a case of never ceasing to amuse myself, Myzrael is in the US Pacific time zone, while I'm in the Eastern time zone. The reason why I'm so amused is that Stormscale-US, the PvP server I originally leveled Q in waaaaay back in the day was also on the Pacific time zone, so when I would be getting up really early in the day to play (5-6 AM EST) it was 2-3 AM PST. Never stopped me from getting into a 5-man, but still it was amusing to see I really have gone back to the past.

**Yes, the cleaning did get done. No, I'm not one of those people who abandon all activity to focus on the new hotness, but I will stay up late if I'm reading/playing/whatever and I get hooked. (I think I've mentioned that on more than one occasion.) But thankfully, I've not done that with WoW Classic. (Yet.)

***And really, for the final 1.5 years of my WoW experience I was in what was effectively a dead guild. There'd be maybe 1-4 people ever logged in over that time, although apparently there's been a name change and a bit more involvement since Mists, but I don't know what the guild is like these days.

****It's 50. Yes, I really did cross that threshold this summer. Me and Ancient can go hang around in the Old Folks' WoW Home, I suppose, but it was best put by a person in Gen Chat in Teldrassil: "My mind feels like it's 20, but my body feels like it's 60." There wasn't any magical "Oh no, I lost my desire/virility/energy/whatever" that happens when you supposedly reach that number, and unlike when I turned 40 and gray started popping out of my beard, I don't really feel any different. I'd like a bit more sleep, but I chalk that up to decades of getting up early and going to bed late (kids and work, you know).

Monday, August 26, 2019

Ordered Chaos

I managed to login to Myzrael before the servers went live, so I didn't have to deal with the long queues.


Recreating my last main, the NE Rogue Azshandra, allowed me to jump in with a minimal amount of relearning. About the only thing I noticed was a bit of lag due to the sheer numbers of people in the Night Elf starter zone:

Not too bad...

Or from this angle.

People were mentioning in Zone Chat that it was apparently bonkers over in the Human starter zone, which made me wonder whether the Goldshire of old will be resurrected along with WoW Classic. I have an almost morbid curiosity about that, and I might want to login to the RP server just to check that out.

After a break for dinner, I'm now waiting to get back into Myzrael, and the wait time is stuck at around 34 minutes. It was 65 minutes earlier, but it quickly shrunk down to 34 minutes where its been stuck for about 10-15 minutes or so.

Oh well.

Back to the Past

Arctus Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob has a post about the odds certain items might happen in WoW Classic. I enjoyed the post a lot, but one stretch of the post made me sigh and shake my head:

  • Somebody Gets to Level 60 in 12 Hours or Less – Not going to happen
  • Somebody Gets to Level 60 in 24 Hours – Maybe
  • Somebody Gets to Level 60 in 48 Hours – Without a doubt
I have to wonder what the people gunning for L60 are planning on doing once they get there. Moaning about how there's nothing to do? Isn't the "the game begins at max level" ethos one of the reasons why the MMO genre is the way it is right now?

But whatever floats your boat, I suppose.

Me? I'm going to take my time; I don't have much choice, since I tend to play at odd hours, but I intend to enjoy the ride.

Friday, August 23, 2019

A Little Something for a Friday

Want a feel good video for a Friday?

Have you got about 1/2 hour?

Good. There's a post by Fandom Entertainment that went up on August 6th that is worth watching.

It's an episode of Fandom Uncovered, and while it's not that big on, say, the history of D&D, the episode really delves into what it means to various people who play the game. The episode also emphasizes how easy it is to get involved in a game, and to not let the rulebooks turn you off. 95% of D&D is just, well, roleplaying without any need of dice or ruleset at all. Pencil and paper RPGs are like that.

However, the best line in the episode had to be about the D&D group that Joe Manganiello put together where everybody around the table could bench press 400 lbs. A bunch of buffed dudes whose forearms likely looked like my calves were playing D&D. And enjoying themselves.

Anyway, give the video a try. Besides, we could all use something good on a Friday, right?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

At Least it's Shorter than 21 Questions

There have been a couple of posts rolling around in my head (the "Are MMOs Dead?" article that made the rounds last week was the inspiration for one of them), but I decided to put those aside for now and look at something a bit more light hearted.

Such as The Seven Questions from the Blaugust lists.

I saw Joseph Skyrim's post on his answers, and thought "I may have to steal this."

I went back and looked over my scribbles I'd put together for posts, sighed, and said "I REALLY need to steal that writing prompt."*

So, here goes....


My Sole** Contribution to Blaugust: Seven Questions about Redbeard

  1. What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog?

    Considering this is a gaming blog, anything gaming related gets covered here. So...

    I guess the first hobby is one I've mentioned once or twice, shortwave radio. Although I guess you could say electronics in general, but really I've not tweaked a circuit board in quite a while. I used to listen to shortwave quite a bit, stemming from roughly around the fall of the Berlin Wall, but as the internet has grown shortwave broadcasts have been cut back. Some stations no longer broadcast to North America, such as the BBC World Service, and other simply no longer exist, such as Radio Nederland. In North America, that means that the bandwidth has been taken up by religious broadcasters and assorted conspiracy nuts, so I've not had much reason to listen these days.

    Another hobby of mine that I haven't mentioned is audio. No, I'm not an audiophile --I simply don't have the money to be one-- but I do enjoy good sound and good music of pretty much any genre. But what I mean by this is that I've built my own speakers and I've installed car stereos (and speakers) many times. Yes, I really have built my own speakers. I've gotten the urge to build a new pair from time to time, but I don't have a lot of stereo equipment lying around that need speakers, so I've held off on that. However, seeing a design like this or this gets my juices going.
  2. Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?
    Well, I suppose you could say that I've been spending the past year or two keeping up with the PC industry, watching the major players in PC component space, and reacquainting myself in how to build a PC. While I've built numerous PCs over the years, the last one I built was in 2003. When I went to replace that PC in 2007 (motherboard died), I priced build vs. buy and decided it was cheaper to buy a PC at the time. I performed the same cost/benefit analysis in 2012 when that PC had graphics card and motherboard issues, and bought the current desktop PC we own. But now, especially for gaming, the numbers have swung in the direction of building a PC, so I'm gathering as much info as I can before I pull the trigger in the next year or so and actually build a PC just for myself.***

    As for what I'd like to learn, I'd like to learn to play an instrument. However, I think my brain is wired differently than a musician's brain is, because I can understand the concept of scales, but when I try to learn to play, I don't think in terms of "High C" but rather "Note #15 starting at Middle C". I blame those "anyone can play music" books that reduced the notes down to numbers, which made perfect sense for me, but doesn't help at all when you're trying to learn the nuts and bolts of music. Therefore, I'm content to be the roadie (and DJ) of the family.
  3. If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?
    No. Not because I wouldn't love to try to make it in a new colony, but because I'm not a big fan of dying by asphyxiation. I can handle dying from radiation exposure (pretty likely in a new colony in a world that doesn't have Van Allen Radiation Belts the same strength as Earth's does) or even starvation (I would joke that I can certainly use the diet), but asphyxiation... No.

  4.  What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? A feeling, thought, or understanding.
    I approach the blog as a series of extended conversations about gaming, so if people read the blog and say "Hmm... That was interesting," then I'm fine with that. I'm not going to be an Influencer in the industry, and PC isn't going to be anything resembling trendy, so I'm fine with just a few readers who find my posts interesting.****

    This is a post for another time, but I still shake my head at how Influencers make money posting on blogs or other forms of social media. I realize that one way to make money is to be in-your-face argumentative along with aggressive marketing, but that's not my style. Besides, the social media mob can turn on you at any moment, and I'd rather not be caught up in that. The Internet Giveth, and the Internet Taketh Away, I suppose.
  5. What excites you most about having a blog?
    If this were in the early years of PC, the mere fact that I was posting on an MMO blog --and the blog was acknowledged by some of the bigger names of WoW Bloggers (Tam of Righteous Orbs and Larisa of Pink Pigtail Inn) was thrilling enough. There was also the Twisted Nether blogcast that I participated in, and that was a thrill. But now, I'm just glad I keep posting on a regular enough basis to maintain about ~70 posts/year.

  6. If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?
    Hmm.... That's a toughie.

    When I was in my teens, I'd have said --almost immediately-- "Anduril, The Flame of the West, born from the shards of Narsil reforged!"

    That would still be cool, but I think I'm going to have to go with the treasure found by Edmond Dantes on the island of Monte Cristo. Unlike Dantes, however, I don't have any revenge to plot; I'd much rather use the treasure for a lot of good causes.
  7. They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

    That would be the novel I've tried to write several times, and I end up getting stuck about 50-100 pages in. The novel is a Fantasy (naturally), but not the classic D&D (or WoW) style High Fantasy, where it seems everybody has access to magic of some sort. It's also set in a timeline where parts of the world are in a Renaissance equivalent, and others are in the Middle Ages. The world is almost completely human --except for some Fey, who are found pretty much only in their hidey holes deep in various forests. Those who wield magic are very few and far between, and like a lot of other Fantasy worlds, don't gain access to their magic immediately: something has to happen to them, typically tragic, that causes the magic to manifest. This means that magic is viewed not only with awe but also a measure of pity, where the vast numbers of non-magical humans would rather not walk the path of those who can wield magic.

    Okay, that's a really short description of the world dynamics, so I won't go into much more detail than that. If you want a non-polished elevator pitch, here it goes:

    "Marcus Dartana is Bound to a Mistress he has never met, fears the dreams that sleep brings, and is pulled onward by a Fey device he can't throw away. His saviors hunt him, his friends use him, and he's convinced the gods are laughing at him. All he wants is to be free. Or dead, whichever comes first..."

*I wrote and entire post and decided to delete the damn thing because I couldn't adequately describe my opinion, and the longer I wait the less current the post will seem. That's the risk of waiting too long to respond to an article that popped up in (gamer) news.

**At least until the next interesting prompt shows up.

***The current desktop will serve my wife for a long time to come, assuming that the motherboard doesn't croak on that one, as she doesn't tax the system at all. I'll likely be replacing the main drive with an SSD this Winter, so she'll see performance improvements that will keep her happy for quite a while.

****I know that at least one mini-Red reads the blog, so if nothing else I've got one reader.

Monday, August 12, 2019


We're a little over two weeks away before WoW Classic drops, and people have started weighing in on what's going to happen.

And I'm sure you're figuring that this is going to be another one of those speculative posts, especially given that I've made predictions fairly often in the past.

This time, however, I'm just going to let it roll.

About the only prediction that I can make is that the WoW Classic servers will be swamped on Release Day, and I'm not entirely sure that Blizz is truly ready for that. I don't even know how many Blizzard people are left from the WoW glory days of the Vanilla, BC, and Wrath drops, but I've heard stories about how much a wait to login and lag time there was, particularly compared to Cataclysm's release. Of course, server architecture has become more robust in the 15 years since, so I guess we'll find out.

As for myself, I'm debating whether to login on Release Day or not.

Two of the mini-Reds will be away at their respective colleges*, and the youngest mini-Red will be at Drumline** practice that evening, so I will have some free time.

That being said, I'm not looking forward to any potential lag, and I really have no idea whether old guildmates (and Souldat, for that matter) will be logging in. Given that WoW Classic is designed to require more grouping than what WoW has evolved into --no LFG, for instance, so you have to group up the old fashioned way-- I guess we'll see what happens.

Maybe Blizz will capture lightning in a bottle again, and maybe the conditions that were perfect for the WoW phenomenon are no longer present.

Buckle your seat belts, everyone. We're in for a helluva ride.

*One is already at her university, because the Marching Band has Band Camp for the next couple of weeks, and she arrived even earlier than the rest of her bandmates because she's part of the leadership team, and she brought with her a plastic jug full of earplugs, because she's going to move from flute to piccolo for the band's performances this Fall. Between that and --I believe-- one of the pieces the Chamber Orchestra is playing this fall is The Lark Ascending, she'll be pretty busy, music-wise.

**For those not familiar with US-style Marching Bands, the Drumline is the percussion section of the marching band. While it can mean just the portion of the percussion that is marching out on an (American) football field during halftime, Drumline can also include the portion of the percussion section that is on the sideline, playing vibes, marimbas, keyboards, etc.