Comic Mischief

"A game that keeps a smile on the player's face is a wonderful thing" – Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo


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World of Warcraft: It’s so over.

I’m done with WoW in nearly every way.

I certainly no longer want to blog about it, but I feel like capping things off with one final post.

It’s been 10 years, and I’ve only ever cancelled my subscription once. It was at the end of Wrath of the Lich King, and after a big guild falling apart, I lost interest.

Today, during Warlords of Draenor, my account is still active, but only because a few old friends have returned and I want to hang out with them. Meaning I log in once, maybe twice a week.

Yeah, I’m paying $15.00/month to play a boring game once a week for a few hours. That bothers me.

I’ve been trying to work out what went wrong this expansion. I’ve never been so completely disinterested in playing. Even levelling to 100 the first time was a chore. I was the slowest one in our group, and I forced myself to get there in the end.

I’ve narrowed it down, and I guess here’s what went wrong for me and World of Warcraft, a decade in:

1. Archeage*

* I’m going to make comments here that are subjective. They’re my opinion, not fact. Nothing like this can be “fact”.

But Archeage is simply a better game. The graphics blow WoW out of the water in every way imaginable, not that graphics are the most important thing in a game. But as someone who never had any problem whatsoever with WoW graphics, there’s no longer any denying it. After playing an MMO with beautiful graphics, it’s impossible to really appreciate the cartoon, over-bright world of Azeroth anymore.

The class and skill system is better. Even if you get to end level (50) and decide you want to play another class – you know what you do? You run over to the Nui (graveyard/skill trainer), pay a small in-game currency fee, and choose your new abilities. You do have to level each spec from 10-50, but there’s no painful rerolling an entire character. There’s no losing your bound items.

There are no outdated race/class restrictions. (Something I expect WoW to eventually get rid of, but at this point, still exist.) If I want to play an Archer style one day and a Warrior style the next, I can.

There are no Armor restrictions. A Mage isn’t forced absolutely to wear Cloth. It’s often better to, but it’s not a requirement. My caster character in Archeage runs around wearing a plate chest when she’s tending to solo stuff because it looks prettier.

The questing system is better. You can get extra progress or overachieve in many quests, meaning if you are asked to kill 10 demons, you might be able to cap out and get an “Overachieve!” for the quest at 15 demons. This nets you greater rewards in terms of XP, but is in no way a requirement.

You can submit quests early, for less of an XP reward. The system is flexible and smooth. There’s no forced tediously riding back to a quest spot because you accidentally didn’t loot one item. Unless you want to, of course. Then you’re free to run back and collect that last item.

The crafting system is massive. I mean massive. There are different proficiencies ranging from the ordinary kinds like Tailoring, to things like Handicrafts, Metalworking, Carpentry. Profiencies cap out at 90,000 skill points.

Levelling up your proficiencies is slightly different. You can make endless amounts of one item forever if you want, you’ll continue to get skill ups, although obviously the cheaper/easier an item is to craft, the smaller your skill up. Or you can work on creating the higher end items at each tier level. For example, I recently got 30,000 Tailoring and crafted a new tier of sash for a nice ~400 odd skill up points.

There are massive – and regular! – scheduled world PvP events, with a small handful of daily quests for Honor. Where the PvP really shines, though, is out in the open world, unplanned and often accidental. Sailing your trade packs across to the other continent? Watch your back and prepare for warfare.

The exploration is superior. This partly comes down to how much better the game looks, but you can also craft a multitude of ships – from small clippers to huge galleons – use your glider to float far away, or just adventure out in the open seas, looking for war or maybe just scenery.

The mount and combat pet system is so much cooler. In WoW you get a certain level, purchase your riding skill and mount from a vendor, and off you go. In Archeage, you receive a quest to escort a baby animal to an NPC. Once you arrive, you receive a quest to grow some food for the baby, then raise it as your own. To raise it, you have to feed it, wash it, play with it. Once grown, the baby becomes your mount. Not only that, you can name it, purchase/obtain armor for it (with actual stats!), and it gains experience while you level or with a certain amount of distance travelled. Combat pets are the same – they can be named, wear armor, level with you, and actually engage in the fight with you.

Not only is it freaking adorable, but the whole system is fun and adds another activity to do in-game.

The land system is far superior to anything available in WoW (yes, including the barracks), but this part will have its own point in a minute, where I’ll explain further.

 

2. Blizzard seem to have lost the plot slightly

I’m sure many people will disagree with me here, but I just feel like Blizzard have lost the plot lately. I normally pay little attention to class balance. I enjoy playing my class and that’s that. It’s okay if I’m not always going to be #1 at everything. It’s fun, so it doesn’t matter.

That changed this expansion. At the start, Shaman were terrible. For the first time ever, it felt like I couldn’t do anything to improve. I was just stuck with crappy DPS and spent most groups terrified I’d be kicked. They gave us some minor buffs. Fine. It’s the start of an expansion, we’re still balancing, it’s all being worked out.

But then, why change something that was “unintended” but the change can only be a nerf? Your priority right now – especially given they acknowledged Shaman were underperforming – is to fix the underperformance, then tweak the insignificant unintended stuff. Unless it’s game breaking – it wasn’t – worry about it later.

They’re still tweaking us even now, with notes coming out recently indicating a small nerf to Fire Nova, but buffs to other stuff.

People were reporting the issues to Blizzard in beta, and yet here we were, start of the expansion and all those reports had gone pretty much ignored.

And just strange decisions, like let’s remove Reforging. You know, that shiny new feature everyone was so excited about. Let’s remove Hit and Expertise from gear. So we’re trying to make gearing “easier”, but then we’re going to implement things like crafted gear with completely randomised stats.

I just feel like the game is in this bizarre situation where they don’t know what direction they want to take it, and there are so many things that don’t make sense and are at odds with one another.

 

3. Celebrated features in WoW are lacking

The garrisons, for example. The way people talk about them, I was really expecting something a lot more. Instead I got a garrison in a forced location with all the building spots mapped out, no room for customisation beyond selecting from a list of buildings, and a follower system pretty much torn directly from another MMO that didn’t quite make the cut in popularity.

I just can’t get excited or even interested in garrisons. Not when you compare them to the land and customisation in a game like Archeage.

Seriously, there are more customisation options for my restaurant in Disney Magical World!

But it’s something WoW has done for a long time now, taken a popular feature out of one game and tried to implement it in their own style. Negative, anti-WoW me at present sees that as them taking a great idea and squishing it to fit into their game.

It’s not done well, but it’s there, and it’s a feature that gets celebrated by the community. I celebrated those features once too, but having wandered away from Azeroth and seen such features in their full, proper form, it’s hard to appreciate WoW’s watered down offerings.

I just can’t see the appeal of a dull work order or follower mission where I click a few buttons and come back to check it later. What’s the point? Why would I want to do that when I can check my farm and actually do tasks myself, and customise it?

 

At the end, the point of this entry is to say WoW and I have had a major falling out. If my friends were to stop playing, I’d cancel my subscription instantly, without a second’s hesitation.

I’m not going to try and find it interesting anymore. And I’m not going to try and wait to blog until I have something to say about WoW. It’s over.

What I am going to do, is start posting a lot of Archeage info and resources. That’s where my interest lies now, and there aren’t a lot of resources out there about it yet. So that’s what will be coming up. 🙂

And yes, I’m aware a lot of this entry probably sounds like whining. It won’t happen again. 😉


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Guild members and offensive character names

I don’t like rude, immature, offensive character names. When I’m just a regular player, I see these names and largely ignore them. In nearly a decade of playing World of Warcraft, I’ve seen hundreds of these offensive names and only reported two.

The first was because it was so purposefully and unashamedly offensive and incredibly sexist.

The second was because the guy was same-faction griefing me while on a quest in the Burning Crusade. I asked him to stop a few times, he wouldn’t, he had a dumb offensive name and so I mentioned that in my report, then added him to friends. Sure enough he very quickly no longer had said offensive name. (I have a real problem with same faction griefing).

Aside from that, I ignore them. If someone wants to run around with a stupid name, that’s their decision.

When it’s a member of my guild, though, that’s when I have a problem with it. I’ve had my own level 25 guild for most of this expansion and not really done anything with it. I’ve housed my own characters and my friend’s characters and everyone has come and gone as they’ve pleased – no problems. I’ve just recently started thinking about doing more with this guild – like maybe establishing a flex team to run on weekends. Which of course involves recruiting some more people and putting us out there under the public eye.

I logged on yesterday and someone had invited a low level with a stupid, offensive (and sexist) name. I thought they were a random player, and I booted them. Because I hated the name, and because I have other women and also some kids that are either in the guild, or can read guild chat at various times. Further because if I do run a flex team, I want to attract like minded players – people who are somewhat mature, who won’t cause drama, who just want to make a few friends and kill a few bosses each week. No stress, no fuss.

As it turns out, unfortunately this guy was the friend of a long-term member. He told me the name isn’t meant to be offensive, it’s just a joke. We talked about it for quite a while, and I repeated myself a lot. In the end, I didn’t invite the guy back. I felt bad about it, because he’s a member’s friend, and I still feel a bit uncomfortable about it, but I stuck to it.

Possibly the first time in this little casual guild I’ve ever had to put my GM hat on. I’m curious, though, do other GMs/Officers take issue with offensive character names, or do you just let them slide?


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Again… Can we please stop removing content?

I have a friend who has been purchasing Challenge Mode Gold 9/9 carries for his characters, and talking about it with him recently has got me thinking once again about Blizzard’s insistence on removing content.

Their announcement specifically on the removal of Pandaria’s Challenge Mode:

“…the difficulty of Mists of Pandaria’s dungeons will no longer be tuned the same as they were. In the spirit of fair play, when the aforementioned patch is released a little while before the new expansion launches, the current slate of Challenge Mode dungeons will no longer be available, and the achievements they award will be converted to Feats of Strength.”

While I understand they’re supposed to be difficult and supposed to be an eventually rare reward, removing the content just seems a little backwards to me.

I can see that people worked their butts off to get these achievements and probably feel they deserve some recognition for it. If I held the reins, though, I’d make their recognition the Feats of Strength and maybe an exclusive recolour of the CM gear sets.

For everyone else, I’d still let them get 9/9 Gold once it’s no longer relevant content. Reward them with a “normal” achievement for doing so and a recolour (an intentionally crappier one, just like LFR gear) of the gear sets.

It just seems odd to me, to put the effort into designing the content, achievements, and rewards and then pull them away to keep things “fair”. Especially in a game that people are clearing content faster all the time and constantly asking for “more to do”.

Additionally, every time Blizzard remove something, it has that air of “But it will be back soon!”. Even Tier 3 gear, from the original Naxxramas, has made a reappearance in game on the Black Market Auction House. Imagine having had “exclusive” gear for years, and then having them reintroduce it for people to simply purchase with gold. I had my Swift Zhevra mount since Burning Crusade, and never saw anybody on it. Just recently they decided to reintroduce it as a RAF reward and suddenly they’re everywhere.

I think what’s the most frustrating about this is the inconsistency. Either retire things for good, or keep them in/bring them back. Don’t leave us wondering if they’ll eventually end up reused, or for sale on the Black Market.

Given that players can purchase the achievements and all that come with it (mounts, titles, gear), it also just seems ridiculous to remove it to be fair. People who view that as fair are probably already bothered by those purchasing it.

How does someone paying X amount of gold deserve these “prestigious” items any more or less than someone coming in and clearing them at level 100?

Let’s use normal achievements vs. Feats of Strengths properly, and keep more content in the game.

(Before anyone asks, no, I’m not just butthurt because I haven’t got the achievements or items. I too had the opportunity to purchase them. I don’t particularly like my class’ gear set, I wouldn’t use the mounts or the title, etc.)


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Rape in DayZ.

The blog entry I found today is several months old now, and talks about a female’s experience in DayZ where two male players assaulted and roleplayed raping her character.

There are a few issues to consider here, as there always has been when thinking on even a slightly deeper level about being a female who also happens to play video games. While I could go into many of them at great length, that’s not what I want to look at tonight.

I’m going to stay pretty neutral on the blog entry in question and its author, because that’s not what this entry is about.

However, reading a related blog entry had me hung up on this particular quote:

“a player having to endure two other players verbally pretending to rape her character”

I take issue with this. Okay, the male players in question were arguably jerks. I am not, for a second, trying to say what they did was a good or nice move. I’m not arguing in favour of what they did.

However. At no point can someone truly force you to do something in a game like DayZ. Unlike a real life rape situation, you are not physically held against your will. You are not pinned or restrained. Yes, your in-game character can be handcuffed. Yes, they can command you to do things and shoot your character if you disobey.

The difference is, though, you can disobey. You can take some control of the situation back. Had I been in her situation, I would have stood up and left my computer, pulled my headphones off, or Alt-F4ed. In the game – unlike real life – I still had some control, even if I had two guys giving me orders.

I don’t want to turn this into a feminist ramble about the difficulties of female gaming. I avoid 99% of people I encounter in any video game ever even guessing at my gender, but that’s a personal choice borne from wanting to avoid getting any attention simply due to my gender. I like to game in peace, without flirtatious whispers from people I will possibly never speak to again.

But when I do happen to reveal my gender, I think it’s important to keep hold of some control in the situation if things go downhill. For the person whose character  was roleplay-raped, I would have loved to see her come out of that at the end with a sense of “Screw you guys, I took back some control”, and not only “I’m upset”.

Be upset, but recognise you maintained (or could have maintained) some control in the situation. Recognise it’s a game, and internet anonymity has always spurred jerks. In particular, recognise it’s a fairly highly strung survival game that’s meant to be tough and sees people betraying new friends, lying, baiting and just all around being jerks.

Again – I’m not saying the roleplay rape was a pleasant, necessary or non-asshole thing to do – but as with most games, you do not have to endure anything. The log off button is always  there, whether someone is griefing you in WoW or taking it to new, darker extremes. If an in-game situation is truly upsetting you, abort game. Take a break. Tell them to f*ck off first, if you want – as would be well and truly justified in the rape case – but just remember you always have some element of control.


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WoW 10 Year Anniversary Celebrations

Seriously, just wow. Blizzard have outdone themselves with the 10 year celebrations announced today.

At this point I don’t even know what to say except “holy awesome!”

So here’s what we’re getting:

  • Tarren Mill Vs. Southshore – The Rematch

If you engaged in PvP early on in WoW, you might have fond memories of—and perhaps a few scars from—the endless tug-of-war between Horde and Alliance players at Tarren Mill and Southshore. To recapture that feeling, we’ll be opening a Team Deathmatch–style Battleground based on that timeless struggle. However, unlike the old days of Tarren Mill vs. Southshore, there will be a clearly defined victor, so you’ll need to work as a team or face crushing defeat.

YES. YES I DID PARTICIPATE IN THE ENDLESS BATTLES IN TARREN MILL VS. SOUTHSHORE. I can’t wait for this. Oh man. This is going to be epic. Looks like this is only going to be around for the duration of the anniversary, but they are considering bringing it back each year.

  • Molten Core – LFR Version

Molten Core provided many WoW players with their first taste of WoW raiding. For the anniversary celebration, max-level players will be able to participate in a special 40-player Raid Finder version to relive the experience of hunting down Ragnaros and his minions within his fiery lair. Downing the Firelord will earn you an Achievement and a special Core Hound mount reward (fireproof leg armor not included).

Yep, Molten Core was the first raid I ever stepped foot in, and I was terrified of screwing up. I got extra lucky and got my first level 60 epic in there on one of my first runs too, the old Arcanist Mantle. Still have it too. 🙂

omgomgomg Corehound Mount!

omgomgomg Corehound Mount!

 

  • Corgi Pet!

Anyone who logs in during the 10-year anniversary event will also be able to claim a feisty, fiery new pet: the Molten Corgi! Just think of the corgi-parade potential when you and your friends summon these wee waddling balls of fire for a walk.

Aww!

Aww!

 

In summary: HELL YEAH!


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The Worst Things I Ever Did in Azeroth

I’ve been hanging out in Azeroth for nearly a decade now, and I’ve mostly been a model citizen.

Mostly.

I found myself thinking about the rotten things I’ve done in my time wandering Azeroth, and one thing comes to mind.

 

1. The time I stole an Arcanite Ripper

Way back in Burning Crusade, we had a world event boss in Karazhan called Prince Tenris Mirkblood. Mr PJ and I formed a group to run Kara, and had pretty much one rule: “You can only roll on your main spec”.

I was a Holy Paladin.

The Arcanite Ripper dropped and I did something I’d never done before: I totally broke our own raid rules and rolled Need on something out of greed and/or vanity.

I won.

As soon as it landed in my bags, I realised what I’d done and cringed. The group was going to yell at me and disband, all because I’d had a minor fit of loot greed.

Nobody said a word. I guess at that stage we didn’t realise how rare the item would become, or that it would be removed.

 

That’s probably the only real dirtbag thing I’ve done. I’ve yelled at a couple of people and stuff, but mostly I’m not really a jerk, I don’t steal, and so on. Not a bad record for 10 years of playtime, I guess.

What’s the worst thing you’ve done in Azeroth?