Back In It!

Last year, I got invited to the Warlords of Draenor beta and started this blog.  Shortly thereafter, I was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer and decided to undergo a year’s worth of torturous procedures designed to save my life.  I’m pleased to report that these were successful, and I’m now cancer-free.

It kinda put a damper on my gaming plans for the year, though.

Now, here, in 2015, there is serious aftermath to deal with.  The good news is, this has left me with a ton of time on my hands.  Logging back into WoW for the first time in months has been so refreshing.  The good folks at Blizz have truly outdone themselves this time.  Not sure how, but they seem to have made the game 3.14% more exciting than it ever was.  Perhaps serious competition from Rift, Guild Wars 2, and the like has caused them to step it up, I’m not sure.

As someone who has played “since Vanilla,” I’ve gone back and forth over the years with whether I would “quit WoW forever.”  I think a lot of us have.  Seeing the game blossom with Burning Crusade and Wrath, then suffering through the long dark night of the Cataclysm, I’ve at times played with obsessive fervor, taken lengthy breaks, and half-assed it.  Pandaria was a disappointment, but saw the return of some player base that eased the Cataclysmic loneliness.  I’ve asked myself the same questions many times– is this really something I’m going to do for the rest of my life?  Is this a waste of time?  Will I ever get Raven Lord or Ashes of A’lar?  SHOULD I CHANGE MY MAIN?

Now, with millions of players returning for WoD, as well as sweeping improvements to the game overall, I feel ready to, IN MODERATION, grind Sethekk Halls for as long as it takes.  As an Arcane Mage.  It’s not so much that some of my realid friends are back– though that helps.  I’ve become largely a solo player these days.  It’s not so much all the newly fatted loot, or the glorious transmog options– though those help too.  It’s more that Blizzard has finally made improvements we all waited years for, and that’s a party I don’t wanna miss.  Stay tuned for run-downs of some of my fave content in the weeks to come!

Faerygirl

New Night Elf Model in Action, Garrison Updates, and a “WTF Smackdown” Moment.

The WoD Beta finally decided to update on my machine yesterday, so here are a few screenshots from the new build.  They haven’t opened up any new leveling or zones yet, as far as I can tell, and I still haven’t been able to copy my main to the beta server.  I finally got over my horror at the new, not-quite-sexy-enough female Night Elf model to post some action shots:

New Night Elf Create

These new skins just look super weird to me.

New Night Elf Model

This is what she looks like in-game.

Female Night Elf New Model Speak

She Speaks!

New Night Elf Flirt

She Flirts!

New Night Elf Cry

She Cries! What is up with those vampire fangs?!

New Night Elf Chicken

She can even do the funky chicken!

As far as what I’ve got updated on my machine, the race/gender combinations I’m really the most excited about (female Troll and female Belf) do not have the updated models yet.  When they do, you will be the first to know and see it here.

I was finally able to do some updates to my garrison with this patch, such as completing my Alchemy Lab:

Alchemy Lab Completion

We’re all very happy to finally be able to complete the Alchemy Lab.

I was also able to update my Town Hall to level two, which made it look like this:

Upgraded Town Hall

Upgraded Town Hall made my garrison feel more like home.

I like the garrisons a ton.  I can’t wait to see where Blizz takes these!  There are so many different options for what to build, I think it will be a favorite feature for players.  One thing I like is that I can’t seem to see any kind of general chat when I’m in the garrison.  I have a feeling this may end up being a point of contention:  some people will want this, and some will not.  Maybe a solution could be that trade chat/general channel could be toggled on/off while in the garrison.

Leaving my garrison to explore a bit, I had a WTF moment when I saw this:

Rulkster 2

The Rulkster… spawning is incomplete here, brother!

Andy Ravage oh yeah

Andy Ravage… oh yeah!

My best guess is that this is a developer response to some comment that maybe the new Human model looks like WWE?  WTF?!  I wish they would have spent this time finding a way to copy mains, or improving some of the new skins.  But whatevs, I’m just happy to be here!

I might not be able to post a ton in the upcoming two weeks, as I’m getting ready for Faerieworlds, Oregon’s summer folk festival blowout.  I have to finish making my costumes, get henna tattoos, and stuff like that.  It’s my first time attending and I’m pretty excited, as some of my favorite folk artists will be playing at it.

Faerygirl

 

 

For The Kids!

This October, I’ll once again be gaming for 24 hours straight to raise money for the ‪Children’s Miracle Network through Extra-Life. The way this works is similar to most fundraisers… I get “backers” who pledge a minimum of $1 an hour (that’s a donation of $24 for the whole event). The money is donated through Extra Life’s secure site, and the proceeds go straight to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. This year, I’ll again be playing games with in-game support for Extra Life. Last year it was Trion Worlds games Rift  and ‪Defiance (which I sucked at). I am super duper hoping that ‪Blizzard will create in-game perks for EL this year but I’ll go wherever the action is.

It might seem crazy for someone with advanced cancer to attempt this, I say Fuck It. There are little kids out there suffering. Here is a link to my Fundraising Page:

Nora Candey Extra-Life Fundraising Page

 

Late Night Digression: How to Play “Angry Hearthstoners” and the best in new Stoner Doom Metal

It’s three am, and I cannot sleep.  This is a pretty common thing for me… it’s not because I’m on drugs or coffee, or any of that.  It’s because of life stuff that I may talk about sometime in a different blog.  I keep meaning to make a post about all the fantastic UI improvements in beta, maybe I’ll get my shit together to do that tomorrow.  There are many, and they rule.

While waiting for new content to explore in beta, and while anxiously waiting for my main to copy, I decided to head over to Hearthstone and check out the new card back I earned by reaching rank 20 in Ranked Play mode during June.  Pretty cool that Blizzard put a rainbow on the card back, I’m assuming for Pride month?

Hearthstone Rainbow Card Back

Rainbow card back earned by reaching Rank 20 in Ranked Play mode, June 2014.

There are a few things in life I should really stay away from:  Crack, comic books (which are like crack, just more fun and expensive), and digital card games (which are also like crack, they just work faster).  So far, I’ve done pretty well with staying away from any illegal substances, and I haven’t been to SDCC in years, but hoooo boy, the digital card games.  Six or so weeks ago, I had decided to try Hearthstone, and was hooked immediately.  The gameplay is so fast-paced and strategic, the lights and colors are so pretty, and best of all, I can play it sitting in bed on my iPad!  Also, they did a freakin’ awesome job on the music.

Questing Adventurer just wants to level

Playing this card is the quickest and best way to turn your opponent into an angry, irrational player hater.

 

The Mighty QA in Action

This druid buffed up that troll and did a few points of overkill to the Questing Adventurer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HS Playing against Druid 1

Gameplay is fast moving, graphics are great, and druids are hard to beat!

HS Playing against Priest 1

Play minions with Taunt to block your Hero. Secrets are a really fun component of the game and are central to the Mage deck.

HS Playing against Rogue 1

I’m finding that the game really distills the philosophy behind each class… it’s well designed, and call me crazy but I think I’m playing my Mage better in WoW after spending time with different Mage decks.

HS Victory

Victory! I won ten gold. An Expert Pack cost 100 gold.

I’d encourage folks to check out Hearthstone… it’s a lot of fun, and I think it’s gonna be great for long plane rides, Tuesday maintenance, things of that ilk.  It is possible to play the game completely for free and win new Expert Packs from the gold you make completing quests and beating other players.  Season four started yesterday, so it’s a really good time to get in on the ground floor.

While I was playing Hearthstone, I decided to delve into some of the finest recent Stoner Doom Metal… it seemed fitting.  A shout out to my buddy Andrew, his band Brimstone Coven just got signed to Metal Blade, and they’re fantastic!

Also, here’s an infectious track from Black Moth.  Anyone who likes Sabbath should dig this:

Sam Didier should totally make a ‘Stoner Rock band.  🙂

Faerygirl

Blue Post Regarding Class Mechanics

Here is a Blue post from yesterday regarding Fury warriors, reproduced in its entirety.  It can also apply to other classes/specs and I found it helpful:

Game Designer
Some general thoughts in response to this thread, which is lighter on hyperbole (and hashtags) than a number of other discussions I’ve seen today – that’s appreciated.Fury and Heroic StrikeFury warriors currently have four buttons that are some flavor of “Deal X% weapon damage to a target.” One of them generates Rage. Two of them have a base cost of 30 Rage. Two of them are only usable sometimes. One of them is off the GCD. But those are nuances, and at a basic level there’s a significant amount of overlap. (And this isn’t even counting Colossus Smash.) That both qualifies as what we’d generally consider “bloat” and it also makes the spec much less intuitive to figure out without doing some math (or, more likely, consulting a guide compiled by someone else who did the math). Fury doesn’t need three different single-target rotational Rage spenders in order to be effective and engaging as a spec – for the majority of WoW’s history, Fury hasn’t had all three of those buttons. We think it’s one too many.

Our vision of a successful Fury design certainly is not one where the warrior sits at the Rage cap for protracted periods of time. We’re not saying that the current (as of June 30th) Beta iteration of Fury is perfect or final. It’s not. In the next build, we have a change to Wild Strike (reduced GCD) that should allow it to more distinctly serve as an outlet for excess Rage, keeping some of the frenetic pace that defines Fury and distinguishes it from the more deliberate and tactical Arms spec.

Without Heroic Strike, Bloodthirst would clearly be your Rage builder, Raging Blow your most efficient spender (when usable), and Wild Strike would be your filler. There’s little lost depth there (instead of hitting HS when Rage-capped or during Colossus, as you currently do, you’d use non-Bloodsurge Wild Strikes), and one fewer keybind and ability of which to make sense.

But maybe we’re missing something – we’re certainly fallible. We’d like you to check out the changes in the next build, give feedback, update your petition websites where applicable, and then we can discuss further. None of this is final.

The Beta Design/Iteration Process

To repeat, none of this is final. If you haven’t followed one of our Alpha (or now Beta) cycles before, there’s a ton of iteration that happens in a public format, much of which never sees the light of day on live retail servers. Our betas are not a sneak preview or an advertisement – they are a genuine invitation to join us as we wrap up the development and refinement of our game, to give feedback, to help us find bugs, and yes, to witness some thorns and missteps along the way.

This sort of experimentation on our part happens all the time internally, long before we open our doors to public testing. Back in February or March some skills were cut or redesigned entirely, then returned days later after playtesting internally and realizing that we’d made things worse, and not better. Other times we tried experiments (e.g. moving combo points off the target and onto the player) and ended up keeping them (for now). The nature of our class design process is that we work on live data, right alongside quest content, encounter content, and everything else that gets added into each build. We want those changes to be part of the same data branch in order to test them properly in a realistic and relevant setting. But, of course, once we’ve moved into Alpha and Beta, this means that you get to witness some of those experiments too.

We could make separate internal builds to keep any class changes that aren’t 100% final in our eyes from seeing the light of day. That would limit our ability to test them somewhat; it would certainly limit your ability to play with them, and to give us feedback. It would reduce the rate at which we could iterate, and the number of ideas we could try out. It might save some frayed nerves in the short run, but I’m not sure it would make for a better game in the long run.

Some of our experimental changes make it into patch notes, because our Beta patch notes are ultimately a living record of our moment-to-moment changes to the game. If we don’t document those changes on our end, they’ll be seen via datamining anyway, potentially out of context and giving rise to greater alarm. But just because something shows up in “official” Beta patch notes does not mean it’s going to be in the official patch notes when Warlords actually goes live. And those are the ones that count.

[continued]

Game Designer
“Skill Caps” and PruningThe goal of some of our changes to a number of classes or specializations is to make them more accessible. Note that this doesn’t necessarily mean “simple.” We want our classes to have nuance and depth in practice, and inquisitive and competitive players will always ferret out and theorycraft ways to maximize performance. We’re not looking to get rid of that behavior, but we are looking to refocus its impact.A player should not need a guide to figure out a basic rotation for their spec (e.g. “if I have enough Rage to do either, should I prefer to Heroic Strike or Wild Strike?”), or to understand the basic purpose of their abilities, or their value (e.g. keeping Steady Focus from dropping off is pretty much the most important thing for a Marks hunter, but reading its tooltip doesn’t tell you that). But the difference between the master and the above-average player lies in none of those things: it lies in more subtle timing, cooldown usage, interactions of talents, set bonuses, and trinkets, and in an understanding of how to adjust those considerations to suit differing contexts.

Context is essential. There is much focus on training dummy rotations, or theoretical “Patchwerk” rotations for raiders. But in the situations where performance matters, and in which players can truly exhibit mastery, there is far more multitasking involved. Being the best raiding warrior isn’t just about being able to mechanically execute a perfect priority rotation: it’s about maintaining your best facsimile of that rotation while avoiding Hisek’s Rapid Fire and Ka’roz’s Whirl; it’s about shifting priorities to maximize damage on specific targets in specific windows that are most vital to your overall raid’s success rather than your personal place on damage meters; it’s about handling interrupts, stuns, or other needed raid utility while continuing to DPS “optimally”; and so forth. Being the best PvP warrior is far more about positioning, communication, awareness, predicting enemy actions, and quick reaction time, than it is about executing any sort of DPS rotation.

I’d venture so far as to say that when you move away from the training dummies in town and into realistic situations, no one has reached the absolute skill cap in either sphere of gameplay in WoW. A precious few players might come close at times, and may string together a few near-flawless pulls or arena matches, but in the big picture, there’s always room for improvement, and removing a single rotational ability or a proc-driving passive is not likely to change that.

The snarky part of me really wanted to echo @Lore on Twitter’s vehement TL;DR directed at beta participants, although I have to cop to being completely guilty of hyperbole and hashtags.   Also, this definition of “bloat” was not lost on me.  It’s super trippy to be interacting with devs on social media.  People complain frequently about Blizzard’s CS modality, but I’ve always appreciated the mystique surrounding talking to a CSM, and the kind of distance devs tend to take when interacting with players.  I think it makes the game world more immersive.  I just looked up immersive, and got this:

im·mers·ive

[ih-mur-siv] 

adjective

noting or pertaining to digital technology or images that deeply involve one’s senses and may create an altered mental state: immersive media; immersive 3-D environments.
Anyway, the points are really well taken about context and skill caps.  Watcher makes it sound very “zen,” and that kind of meditative focus has always been one of my favorite things about WoW.
Faerygirl

Garrisons, Bonus Objectives, and Steam Powered Faeries… Oh my!!

Today’s login to the Warlords of Draenor beta saw a vast improvement over yesterday, in that I could actually stay logged in for decent length stretches and complete some quests.  I tried to play an Ally toon, I really did, but my heart just wasn’t in it.  So I rolled Horde. Today, Beta players actually got to venture to Draenor and see the new starting zones.  There are soooooo many new features, I really can’t go into all of them here.  So I’ll focus on what I thought were the two coolest things:  Garrisons and open-world exploration. The best way I can think of to describe Garrisons is as a kind of mini-game that must be a lot like playing one of the early Warcraft strategy games (I never played them).  Basically, you gather resources to build stuff, and gain followers who you send on real-time-ish missions that run in the background while you’re out questing.  Here are some screenshots of the Garrison interface:

How to open garisson

Click the highlighted table in your inn to open the Garrison interface.

Building Your Garrison

Save resources to build structures in your Garrison.

Garrison Followers

Gain followers.

Garrison Missions

Send your followers on missions.

I’m kind of a loot whore. There, I said it.  So as I unlocked more and more missions and followers, I thought to myself, “Oh, cool!  Another way to farm loot while I’m already playing.”  I did get a pair of gloves off the first reward chest, but all the others yielded a big fat LUA error.  I’m assuming this will be fixed by the time the game goes live.  I hate to think of my peons slaving away for that, though.

The other super cool thing that happened today was that I got really tired of the spawn timers at crowded quest hubs, and went off exploring the game world.  For years now, I’ve been wondering why Blizzard didn’t do more to take advantage of the ginormous map WoW is set in.  Well, as I went off exploring today, I found a whole bunch of loot caches, a few Christmas quests, and something called Bonus Objectives, which I think is fucking brilliant.  That is to say, this time around there are actually a lot of rewards to straying from the beaten path.  One time, I even found a Rare quality weapon sticking out of a block of ice in the middle of nowhere.  I also found a “loot castle” full of chests.  Stuff like that.

Bonus Objectives

The little crossed swords denote Bonus Objectives, which give LOOT!! WOOT!!

There is tons of other cool stuff in the game, there really is.  But it’s getting late and I want to check on my peons before bed.

Oh, I almost forgot.  My steampunk faery wings arrived in the mail today.  Gwen at Faerieworks rocks!!  I’m getting ready to attend a big steampunk convention next weekend, and am putting together a “Steam Powered Faery” costume to fit this year’s theme of Aviation.  Here’s what I got so far…

Steam Powered Faery

Faerygirl

Welcome to my head.

My two favorite things in the world are Faeries and MMOs.  As you can imagine, these can get a little mixed up sometimes.  This blog is intended as a place to put my thoughts about the World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor Beta Test.  But I’ll probably talk about other stuff too.  🙂

Last week, I checked off the last two items on my Mists of Pandaria bucket list:  getting my legendary cloak and my “Insane” title.  So when reset happened Tuesday morning, I was sitting there wondering what to do.  I farmed Ashes and Raven Lord, finished my TI weekly, and finally dinked around on a lowbie on a different server.

Then, this morning, THIS WAS IN MY INBOX:

Warlords of Draenor Beta Test Invitation

This is my invitation to the Warlords of Draenor Beta Test!!

Oh holy cow!  It turns out that WoW is targeting veteran players for Beta this time around, instead of however it was they did it before.  I did a little happy dance and spilled tea on myself.

Now, this was at 7am, and the Beta server wasn’t going live until 2pm.  I was dying to tell someone.  I logged on my main and sat in guild for a moment, wondering what to say.  I didn’t want to seem like an asshole, but really, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

/g

/act casual

“I got my beta key this morning… anyone else?”

This was met with a bunch of “OMG” and “No, nothing in my inbox.”  Yep, I felt like a jerk.  And, even though I wish everyone in my guild could get a Beta key, there was a part of me that liked it!!

The rest of today has been spent downloading the client, and stuck on loading screens with a few minutes of gameplay interspersed with frantically scrolling through the forums looking for blue posts.  Anyone else who was on Beta today can relate.  Because my main wouldn’t copy, and because the blues asked us nicely, I rolled Ally.

Female Draenei Mage WoD Beta Day 1

This is my Ally Mage in her starter gear.

Those aren’t eyelids

… you are staring into the void! 😉

I did eventually get back online and do the first couple quests in Tanaan Jungle.  Here are a couple more shots, one of gameplay and one of the DREADED STAT CRUNCH.  Bah!  I’m two-shotting everything.  Back to it!!

Day One Stat Crunch

 

Warlords of Draenor Day One Screenshot

Screenshot from Dark Portal

Faerygirl