The Halfway Point

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Today (or tomorrow) marks the halfway point of Blaugust. I never thought that I would be able to keep up with 31 days straight of blogging. As much as I enjoy writing, most days it just feels like life is too hectic and to be honest, most of the time I feel like people don’t really want to read about what I think. Opinions are like, well you know, and everybody has one. Still, I find it interesting to read the opinions of others, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is an audience out there.

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The good thing about Blaugust is that it’s making me consciously think about doing something that I would otherwise just be like “eh, screw it”. If I can hang in there until the end, I think it’ll enable me to consciously attempt other things that I would normally procrastinate on. I’m also happy to have this outlet to talk about things that are going on in gaming. When you’re a 30-something professional with all the responsibilities that go along with that, you don’t always have people around that you can talk to about gaming. Twitter is great (and I love you Tweeps), but it can be difficult to actually communicate ideas in 140 characters or less, and the chance of miscommunication is much higher.

Onwards! 🙂

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Gaming Update

Time to catch up on what is going on in my gaming world this week.

World of Warcraft: Still chugging along. Teaghan the paladin is level 95 now, and she’s about to finish up Gorgrond and head into Talador. I spent about 3k gold earlier today to buy ore and herbs to level up her Jewelcrafting, she’s been making plenty of money just through questing and such so I didn’t mind dropping the cash. She should easily hit 700 Mining and JC in a few days time through the normal cooldowns.

Beyond questing, she’s been running Tempest Keep to try to get the Ashes of Al’ar mount. I love this mount, it’s my favorite ever. I probably won’t see it drop for a year or two. 😉

LotRO: The good thing about LotRO is that since I’m a lifetimer, I don’t ever have to worry about subscribing/unsubscribing. So right now let’s just say that I’m on another LotRO break. I’m really just waiting on transfers to open up from Landroval to Gladden so that I can move my Landroval characters over and get all of my crew together.

Wurm Online: I haven’t played Wurm in a while, other than to log on and make sure that the upkeep is paid on my deed. I likely will drop $15 or so and buy gold off another player so that I can deposit more upkeep and keep the deed safe. I really don’t want to lost that spot if I can help it. Eventually I’ll probably go back (I always do), but now is not that time.

Be Still My Beating Heart…

This… this…

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I’m not planning on playing a Demon Hunter other than to see the starting experience, but I MUST have this little guy. I’m really hoping that he goes “mgrlrlrlrlglglrlrlr… not prepared…megrlrlrlrlrlglr” and shoots other pets with laserbeam eyes. LASERBEAMS. I also wasn’t planning on buying the Blizzcon Virtual ticket since you can get all the info for free afterwards, but yeah, I might shell out the $40 just for this little guy.

Yep, I’m a complete sucker.

Also, this…

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How cute is THAT? It looks like Blizzard is revamping the festivals for the latter part of the year, which is a good move. After 10+ years, most of the festivals need updating and players need motivation to participate if they’ve already completed all the achievements. Interestingly, there is no update for Lunar Festival in February. I wonder if that was a natural stopping point because, oh, I don’t know, maybe there will be another major event around that time? Hm.

 

Criticism, Communication, and Call of Duty (not!)

Last night I was scrolling through Twitter and somebody mentioned that WoW fans should just shut up about Ravenholdt and let the WoW devs do what they want. While my last post wasn’t exactly criticism of the Ravenholdt vs. Sewers decision, I wanted to take a moment to address the role that criticism plays in our gaming, the way that we as fans interact with the developers of the games that we love so much, and how communication from developers can actually improve the situation.

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At the risk of being one of “those people”, I’m going to state this up front because I want you to understand where I’m coming from (not that it elevates my status above any other player AT ALL). I’ve played WoW off-and-on since beta, mostly constantly during Vanilla/TBC/Wrath, and in spurts through Cata/MoP/Warlords. I love Warcraft. I love the lore, I love the world, I love the stylized graphics and crazy colors juxtaposed over dark and gritty stories and quests. I had never played the original Warcraft RTS games before starting WoW, and I’m not really a RTS player, but if they released a Warcraft 4 RTS I’d play it just to see where the story goes. I have all the books, the old WoW magazines, some plushies, t-shirts, etc. Basically, I’m a FAN. I love this franchise, even if I take breaks to play other games. I think the cinematics teams and music teams are #1 in the industry, and the developers over the years have done an amazing job of creating fun game experiences for millions of people.

All of that said, I will not back down from criticism when I deem it necessary. Here’s the thing: criticism doesn’t necessarily mean that you hate whatever it is that you’re criticizing. On the contrary, it shows that you care for it so much that you don’t want it to suck. The real danger in the gaming world is apathy. I’m not a Call of Duty player, so if you come to me and tell me that Call of Duty is implementing rainbow guns and playable purple manatees, I’ll probably just shrug my shoulders and say “okay”. It’s not my thing, so I don’t really care what they do. But if I were a fan, I’d probably be VERY upset about rainbow guns and purple manatees, because I don’t want the game to suck.

So if the developers make a decision that I don’t like, yes, I will criticize that. It’s important to note here that criticism doesn’t mean NERDRAGE. Nerdrage does nothing but get your opinion thrown out the window immediately. You have to be able to communicate your criticism in a way that is calm, doesn’t insult other players or the developers, and preferably includes other better options. That’s the kind of feedback that helps developers in the long run. If you don’t like something, what don’t you like about it? Why don’t you like it? What are other viable alternatives that would accomplish the same goals that the developers are going for?

It goes both ways though. Just as fans need to be respectful to the developers, they should be respectful to us, and part of that is in how they communicate. After this past weekend’s Dev “Q&A”/Chat/whatever that was on Sunday, players were steamed (and rightly so)because it wasn’t exactly as advertised. After reading the comments from the devs and CMs afterwards, it sounds like there was confusion in what it was actually to be – basically the right hand didn’t know what the left hand was doing. If you’ve ever worked for a big corporation, you know that this isn’t all that unusual. It happens, and it’s an honest mistake. Blizzard apologized for the confusion and said they would try to do better in the future (yay! thank you!), but they also said that they are trying to avoid confusion and that in the future they will be tighter-lipped about their plans.

No. That’s not how you do it. Guys, if you want to establish good will among your customer base, this is all you need to do:

“So we think we have some really cool locations for these class halls. Lights Hope Chapel for paladins, a fel planet for warlocks, and the Dalaran sewers for rogues are all options that we are looking at, but we’re still investigating the options.”

“What we have planned for Legion is the launch raid tier followed by an additional raid tier with the first content patch. We’d also like to add flying into Legion with the first content patch if possible, but we’ll have to see how much time it takes to finish up the raiding and other content.”

“We are planning on revamping professions to implement new UIs, new craftable items, specializations for each craft, and recipes for cosmetics and artifact enhancements for each profession. We think it might be really cool for mini-pets to have a miniature artifact that they use during pet battles. It’s still a work in progress so things may change, but we hope to show more once we have that locked down.”

“No promises, but we will take a look at a moose mount.”

A little transparency and humility would make a MAJOR difference in how the Blizzard devs are perceived and treated by the WoW community. Back before SoE became Daybreak, the communication from Dave Georgeson to the Landmark beta community was astounding. Every single day, and multiple times a day, he would post updates on what bugs were being fixed and what the team was working on. I’m not saying that Blizzard should do daily updates, but quick Producer’s Letters every couple of months wouldn’t hurt. The community managers shouldn’t be afraid to respond to player questions either, even if it’s a “I don’t yet have an answer, but I’ll see what I can find out.”

Increase the communication about the development process without making “promises”, and you’ll build player trust. Build player trust, and the tone of player communication will change over time to something far less toxic than it is currently.

On Ravenholdt

I have to admit that I’m fascinated about all the drama surrounding the Rogue Class Hall in Legion. The devs at Gamescom, while building up the idea of class halls being in these really cool iconic locations, made a couple of off-hand remarks about placing the rogue hall in the Dalaran Sewers.

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Of course rogues went ballistic, since Ravenholdt is THE iconic rogue location, where rogues have been going for class quests and the like for years, and well, nobody wants to hang out in a sewer. Unless you’re a goblin. 😉

So #RavenholdtOrRiot was born and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth on Twitter and Reddit and the official forums, the devs of course said they would discuss it at the office, but what if they could make the Dalaran Underground (notice the name change here) WAY COOLER than Ravenholdt?

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Either location they go with is going to need some artistic reworking done to make it cool. The thing about Ravenholdt currently is that it burned down in the legendary dagger quest. So it would need to be rebuilt, which means new art anyway. Hmm…

I’m thinking an old, stately yet mysterious stone mansion… something in between Human and Forsaken architecture, so that it’s evenly balanced between Horde and Alliance.

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Once you step inside, it should be clear that these rogues don’t do sewers. They may be loners and n’er-do-wells, but they make bank from all that pickpocketing, with grand staircases and fine furniture.

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Each race could have a wing… a la the Harry Potter “houses”. There could even be a cool purple-and-green gothic wing for the Forsaken rogues.

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Maybe a little Karazhan music for kicks and giggles?

Trap doors, secret entrances, levers on the walls leading to secret corridors, a poisons laboratory, and a weapon arsenal (as a location for customizing those artifacts) are a MUST. And of course, rogues have to practice their lockpicking abilities. How about a dungeon in the basement?

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I dunno… Ravenholdt is looking pretty cool now. I’d be curious to see how much better the Dalaran Underground would be. 😉

WordPress and Bloggy Things

Since we’re in Blaugust, lets talk about blogs. I don’t know about you guys, but I am never really satisfied with my blog layout. I don’t know why, but I see awesome looking blogs like Mama Needs Mana or Tales of the Aggronaut and mine just seems like fail. I don’t think it really is fail, but I suppose that’s a little bit of the perfectionist side of me. In the past I’ve tried both Blogger and WordPress, and I LOVE WordPress. I had a WordPress blog set up at Battlepriestess.com a long time ago, but funds grew short so I ended up canceling that domain/site and moved over to the free WordPress.com instead.

I really like WordPress.com – if you’re on a budget it is great as far as having a lot of good free themes and some basic customization. For a fee, you can upgrade WordPress.com to give you unlimited storage and amazing customization. Last year I paid $30 to get CSS/HTML customization, which worked great and is budget-friendly. However when I went back over the weekend to update/renew that, I found that the $30 option is no longer there. It’s all been rolled into the $99/year premium package with a bunch of other frills that I don’t really need.

So now I’m shopping around. It turns out that I can get a hosted WordPress.ORG setup, with whatever theme, customization, and storage I want, for around $3.99-$4.99/month, which is still cheaper than $99/year, and includes a free domain that I can hold on to. Given the competition, I’m not sure who the WordPress.com premium package is marketed to. You still can’t use your own themes or Google Analytics, so perhaps it’s for people who want more options but are ingrained at their WordPress.com blog address.

I’ve decided that if I can hold out for all 31 days of Blaugust, my reward to myself will be a splurge on a site with a WordPress.org setup. I’ll probably end up spending about $100 by the time I get a nice theme and all that, but at least I’ll be back on my own domain and not under the thumb of WordPress.com. What say you guys? If you have a blog, what host do you use and would you recommend them to others?

Blaugust Update and Stuff

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Blaugust: I can’t believe that I’ve posted something 9 days in a row now. I won’t lie, it’s been a little harder that I expected. I was doing pretty well for a while at writing my blog post the night before and queueing it up to publish the next day, but I took one night off and I’m off schedule. This post is actually being written on the 8th and will be published on the 9th to try to get back on track. Once Blaugust is done, if I can keep up this pace I may also try this on other good habits that I am working on… exercise being one of them. 31 days…. just 31 days…

I’ve failed utterly at commenting on other posts – I think I did that for the first couple of days and then fell short. That’s okay, I’ll keep pushing forward. Know though that I AM reading the other Blaugust blogs and so far I am really liking what I’m seeing and all the support for each other out there. Keep at it y’all!

RAH RAH GOOOOO BLAUGUST TEAM!!

2 – 4 – 6 – 8! Those Blaugust posts just can’t wait! GOOOO TEAM!!

Gaming: It’s no surprise that I’ve been playing WoW lately. The paladin alt that I’ve been working on-and-off for about 3 years now is level 92, and I’m pushing her to level 100 as quickly as I can. After I level cap her I want to get all her professions capped, start running some older instances for mounts and cosmetics, and focus on pet battles and goldmaking.

  • Cap Jewelcrafting
  • Cap Mining
  • Cap Fishing
  • Cap First Aid
  • Cap Cooking
  • Get the Ashes of A’lar Mount
  • Start Pet Battles
  • Grind reps with interesting tabards/mounts/cosmetics
  • Play the AH (my favorite mini-game)

I do think that she is going to be my main going forward. I’ve been having a lot of fun being a paladin and I’m looking forward to the paladin class halls coming up in Legion. Plus, it feels homey being a dwarf again. 🙂