Tag Archive: changes

The Road Less Travelled

I recently embarked on the Loremaster achievement – it seemed like a relaxing time-filler between raids, and an alternative to more soon-to-be-abandonned alts.  And I have to say, it’s turned into something of a mission.

Questing thoroughly for the first time through the revamped old world zones has been an absolute delight. I know some people don’t understand – they find killing low level mobs boring, they hate having their bags full up with junk, they just don’t get the attraction.  But for me, it has been a chance to enjoy the stories, properly read the quest text, and become immersed in the world in a way that hasn’t happened since my very first character.

I have levelled alts since Cata, but with dungeons and heirlooms, the pace is so fast that huge chunks of the world are never visited.  On my travels I have discovered places and characters, and their stories, which I did not previously know existed.  There is a beautiful Cenarion Circle enclave in Desolace – deserted when I visited – which has become one of my favourite spots in the game.  There is a remote quest giver in Arathi Highlands with a couple of fun quests which gave me unexpected Steamwheedle rep.  Everywhere I found little gems of lore and place which I am so happy to have discovered.

Its easy to forget, in all the fuss over patches, expansions and gear upgrades, what it was that first grabbed us about this game.  Loremastering has, for me at least, revived my interest in the core of the game – the evolving story, and the part the player has in it.  Its too easy to be cynical, to fret about how ‘easy’ the game has become, when maybe we should step back and just really look at what Blizzard has created – a place in which to lose oneself, to become something beyond the everyday.

All of the above of course applies to Eastern Kingdoms & Kalimdor.  I’m now halfway through Outland, and I have to say that it’s not quite so much fun. Shadowmoon Valley, while interesting, is so relentlessly gloomy that it is a relief to leave for somewhere with sunshine. And finding the last few quests in Nagrand was a struggle.  But Northrend awaits, with the epic Wrathgate questchain, the quirky quests of Grizzly Hills, and the grandeur of the Stormpeaks.  I am looking forward to all of it.


Going for Gold

Well, I’m back after a turbulent few weeks.  There has been guild drama, raid successes, a new website to set up, and some of the best weather for the time of year since records began – all of which pushed my digital scribblings onto the back burner.

I won’t bore you with the details of the guild stuff – let it suffice to say that an un-bridgeable chasm opened up between the GL & most of the active membership, leading to a mass exodus with the result that I am still playing with the same group of people, just under a different banner.

We have had some small successes – To4W & Shannox, and we are continuing to progress at our usual relaxed pace and have lots of fun in the process.

There has been a flood of information about patch 4.3, but the bombshell this week was the announcement of the tradable pet.  There are reams of comments on this topic elsewhere, and having read some of it, the general opinion seems to be that the actual pet is not the issue – after an initial surge, it could become as rarely seen as the sparkle horse.  What saddens me is the feeling I get of an erosion of trust in Blizzard as a company which will ‘do the right thing’.  There seems to be an air of resigned inevitability about the whole thing – a sense that this is the way the world works now, and we might as well get used to it.

Whether one cute pet will be a harbinger of doom or a one-off  experiment, I have no idea. But I have a bad feeling about it, nevertheless.

Now, a confession.  I have been wasting time on a free-to-play game called Gardens of Time. It’s mildly addictive, basically pointless and I feel slightly ashamed of myself for getting sucked into it.  But I have to admire the designers for their blatant string-pulling to keep players online: hourly tournaments, daily bonuses, presents from ‘friends’ – I have never felt quite so manipulated.  But hey, its a change from my snail-like progress towards Loremaster.

I have had a good week 🙂  My (mostly) guild group finally killed Chimaeron and got the achievement for having only two corpses on the floor, we had a good stab at Atramedes before rl cut things short, and I got my Flameward Hippogryph.  Yes, I know, I’m waaay behind the curve with this stuff, but to me this was a big deal.  I’m still learning to be a raid healer, and the Chimaeron fight was a big test.  Atramedes will be another test of my somewhat erratic movement skills and reaction times, but I’m sure it is do-able, and confidence is a big part of success.

My new mount marks the end of the boring  grind of dailies – at least for now; I may go back to try to get some of the achievements, but for a while at least it will be nice not to feel I ‘ought’ to be doing them.   Bouncing bears and punting turtles is fun for a couple of weeks, and I love the ‘battlefield’ feel of Malfurion’s Breach, but flaming spiders? I’ve had enough, thank you very much.

And then there was the news about transmogrification, which has done wonders for guild interest in running old content; the plans for the new Darkmoon Faire,  which sounds much more like fun than the current version; and, of course, the thought of a final showdown with old Flame-breath himself  to finish off this expansion.

So, its been an interesting and fun time.  I just hope these snippets of future plans are enough to slow the trickle of players I know who have quit the game due to sheer boredom with this expansion.  I hope Blizzard have learnt something from the current patch, i.e. having two long, awkward dungeons at a level where players feel they ‘have’ to run them over and over in order to maximise their valor points, is counter-productive and has caused immense frustration and killed the fun in the game for a lot of players.

Anyway, I’m having a few days of peaceful archaeology and fishing. Half the guild is on holiday so raiding is on hold for a couple of weeks – ‘Limnologist’ and ‘Diggerest’ here I come 🙂

My word there is a lot of speculation going around the WoW blogs at the moment. The news that Blizzard trademarked ‘Mists of Pandaria’ has sparked a maelstrom of differing opinions regarding possible future content; this varies from ‘wish-lists’  of additional classes/races, to the idea of an elaborate hoax/possible Facebook game.

Personally, I hope for new territories to explore, with or without beer-brewing pandas. I’m not convinced Blizz are ready to introduce a new playable class – there has been talk of a ‘support’ class, but I imagine this would be a nightmare to balance with existing abilities.  But new lands, new archaeology (please!) and a new battlefront with less fire and brimstone, that is something I could get excited about.

The other big thought-provoking story is Blizzard’s plan for a real money auction house in Diablo 3.  Now, gaming noob that I am, I have no experience of Diablo, but I believe the game is structured gear-wise in a very different way to Wow; however, this decision makes me uneasy. I can understand some of the reasoning behind it – to make gold-selling ‘legal’ and to remove the gear grind for those who prefer to pay for their shinies; however I cannot shake the thought that this is, at bottom, a money-making scheme.

I believe Blizzard when they say that they have no plans to implement this in WoW – but if it proves to be a huge financial success in Diablo, I’m sure it will be a part of any future games they produce, including, of course, Titan.  The effect of the RMAH on gaming communities has yet to be seen; it is a step into the unknown for developers and players alike, and I am, in a way, relieved that I am only watching from the sidelines.

On a more positive note, I have finally obtained my Globe of Moonlight to go with the Lightforged Elementium Hammer being made for me by a guildie, and I feel I am getting to grips with my new holy healing spec.  My guild has been through a lot of upheaval lately and we are only now picking up the reins of our raid progress. So, I and my newly-dug-up Voodoo Figurine have been achievement hunting, pet-collecting, and generally pottering around trying to be useful. Whilst, of course, wearing our tinfoil hats in case the sky should fall.

No Place Like Home

A gaming friend who recently had to leave his guild due to some real-life drama with another member has been talking to me about starting up another guild.  Now, I have done this before, and had great fun doing it – but that was before Cata and the guild levelling system.  I have a feeling the process could be a lot less enjoyable now.

Of course, setting up the basics, getting a charter signed and so on is the easy part.  But attracting members to a level 1 guild? That could be difficult – I’m sure even new players are aware that there are perks to be had from a high level guild, and genuine new players are pretty thin on the ground anyway.

When I started a guild, it was because I rerolled on another server which had just changed from PvP to PvE; there was an influx of similar re-rollers, a shortage of social guilds and members flooded in.  A guild which had been intended for new players ended up full of people with experience who had transferred to the server for the same reasons I had i.e. a less elitist, more sociable environment.

Now, however, there are so many guilds around that its difficult to see how to create a new one offering anything different.  I know my friend suggested the idea to avoid having to search for a new home, and to have some control over the kind of guild he wants.  But I am happy where I am, and trying to spread myself across two guilds would, I think, be very difficult.  So the plan is on the back-burner for now.

Guilds, other than hard-core progressive raid guilds, seem to be in a constant state of flux; their dynamics change as members join, leave, change their priorities etc.  Perhaps some time in the future my current guild will implode, fragment or meet any of the many fates which can befall a casual, mature guild – but until then there is new content to explore (patch day tomorrow!) and current raids to work on in the company of people who share my gaming philosphy and who are just plain fun to be around.

I would not trade that for the transient ego-boost of being a GM again.

The impending changes to the world of Azeroth have set me thinking.  I now live in a small market town, with shops, doctors, etc. etc.  But for many years I lived in the heart of the countryside, outside a small village, with only one (poorly stocked) shop within reach.  I hated it.  I got depressed; my then husband was working away from home, I could not drive, and had to walk miles every day to get my sons to & from school.

And yet…and yet, there were summer days by a stream, accompanied by cat, dog & pet sheep, watching improbably bright dragon-flies zipping over the water.  There were autumn days, heavy with mist & spiders’ webs, spent picking apples, blackberries, rosehips.  These days more than made up for the days spent cut off from the world by flood-water, or days when the world just seemed a very dark place.

The point I’m trying to make is:  on your travels around the old world of Azeroth,  lift your eyes from the mini-map sometimes and just look at what is around you.  Yes, certain areas are tedious to level through and need to be changed, but they all have their own peculiar beauty, and deserve to be remembered with respect.