Archive for the ‘Burning Crusade’ Category

Is World of Warcraft Reaching Its Potential?

I suppose some context is in order, seeing as World of Warcraft has entirely dwarfed any other MMO (especially in the non-asian markets) with around 10 million subscribers. Yes, Blizzard is incredibly sucessful and WoW has already turned massive profits after 3 1/2 years on the market. However, I am quite sure of one thing: If they had released as many expansions as EverQuest 2 has and in the same fashion (not just end-game content) they would likely have 2-3 million MORE people playing than they do now. Even with Wrath of the Lich King, there is STILL no fresh mid level content. Sure they added a couple new 1-20 areas with Burning Crusade, but what about the part of the game that many players by now dread, the 20-60 areas? Heck, after level 30 or so, even the Alliance and Horde players are funnelled through the same content. I for one have made six characters that I have gotten to level 25 or higher, but only three of those have reached and will ever reach level 70 or higher unless content is added for level 20-60 characters. Don’t get me wrong, I really want to spend more time with these characters, but I can’t keep running through the same zones over and over again.

This is something that EverQuest2 has continuously added to their game, along with many other improvements and additions. They have released four expansions already with a fifth on the way. Holy cow. Granted, a much smaller percentage of their population is max level so they need to focus on the lower and mid-level content, but the sheer volume of content that they release is staggering. Granted, it’s not all going to be as picture perfect as what Blizzard releases, but seriously, four full-blown expansions to one. That’s tough to justify in my book. In any case, I can understand Blizzard wanting to focus more on higher level characters because that’s where a lot of their players are, but not all of them max-level, either.

Seriously Blizzard, how long do you expect people to keep running through the same content before they get tired of the game? A rather small percentage of your customers are raiders, which means that the leveling process is all the rest of the players really have, and after a while (if it hasn’t already happened) they are going to get sick of re-rolling characters that have to run through the same content every single time. The raiders might do it because that’s how badly they want another level 70, but it’s probably not going to be because they enjoy the leveling process, and if the non-raiders have nothing else to look forward to, then they probably won’t do it at all. WAR is supposedly going to have six entirely different paths to max level. SIX. Whether they are going to pull this off, or whether you actually need six at release is uncertain, but it’s much better than having unique content for all races up to about level 25 or 30 and then having them all go through the same set of zones and more or less the same set of quests from that point on.

How many hours of non-raiding content will Wrath of the Lich King offer? It’s tough to say exactly, but you can be sure that it’s not 18-20 months which appears to by WoW’s expansion time-frame. It’s likely half that, so come next September-December, when there are 6-8 new quality MMO’s out, as well as WAR and AoC which have both had time to dust themselves off after a few months, where is that going to leave WoW? Seemingly with more raiding, more upper-level content, and no (significant) improvements or addition to their mid-to low level content. After three or four re-rolls with no new content along the way, there is only one place they are going to find what they are looking for, which is at the end, and that content can only hold their interest for so long, especially with all the new competition on the horizon.

~Kanthalos

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Trash Mobs — What’s the Point?

With all the talk about raiding and gear ownership, it really got me thinking about instances as a whole. What about instances can really be changed or improved in some way? This immediately brought to mind trash mobs. Trash mobs are something that have really just bothered me ever since I started raiding (and instancing in general.) Since I didn’t play EverQuest (for more than a week or two) I don’t know whether they started there, or whether they were popularized by WoW, but they seem like one of those things that were implemented once for whatever reason, and from that point on were a fixture in raiding and instancing with little or no regard for their function. If they are there, they must be serving a purpose, right? Let’s consider what all trash mobs are good for:

1) They provide the potential for a random epic/rare drop (as well as small amounts of gold and vendor trash.)
2) They increase your reputation with a faction.
3) They fill space, and make the instance seem more alive.

That’s really all that I could come up with as to why they are included in instances. Some might consider them to be a sort of “gear/skill check” but in all honesty, they are far easier than any of the bosses that you’ll face, with very few if any exceptions. They take up everyone’s time for virtually no benefit, so here is a list of reason why they should be removed altogether as well as suggestions to deal with it.

1) The random epic drops that fall from trash mobs can simply be an addition to the gear that the bosses drop (with the possibility of two or even three items.) As for the gold, it’s never really been enough to matter anyway. No one goes to a 10 or 25-man with the idea that they are going to get gold. They go for gear, and more than likely expect to lose gold for repair bills. Increase the gold drops on the boss (to about 25g each in a 25-man,) or forget about it.
2) Reputation? Drastically increase the amount of the reputation you get for killing the bosses to scale with the trash mob rep. This makes more sense anyways because, after all, they are the reason all the trash mobs are there to begin with.
3)Think of all the time you would save by not having to deal with trash mobs. It would more than cut raiding and instancing times in half. Not only that, but it would prevent re-clears. If you’ve proven that you can kill the mobs once (which, again, aren’t nearly as tough as the bosses,) why force you to do it again, and kill all that much more time? The challenge is with the boss fights, not the trash mobs which keep players from heading straight to the bosses. 25-mans and heroics have timers in place already to keep people from killing the bosses over and over again, so it’s not as if players can kill the bosses, reset, and kill again for more loot anyway. All it would do is free up more time for the players (or allow them to have more time for attempts on bosses.)

The only real reason to keep trash mobs in an instance that I see is because they make it seem more alive, but then again, how “alive” is it if you walk into a room with 6 sets of mobs, and you can pull only one without the others barging in? Perhaps they could leave a few additional guards around each boss, but there is no reason to fight through 30 sets of mobs to get to a boss. Seriously. If you REALLY want to leave trash mob encounters, make them all similar to Gruul’s Lair, and nothing at all like Tempest Keep. Also, if you insist on forcing reputation grinds on players, give them other areas in the world (possibly right outside the instance) to farm rep, but don’t stick it in with the raid.

They aren’t required and they serve very little purpose (other than to annoy,) so why should they be there?

~Kanthalos

Hydross and More

Well, I regret to inform you that our guild has not killed Hydross the Unstable as of yet 😦 What I can say is that we have had three very solid attempts. On the first good attempt, we were able to survive until the enrage counter went off at 10 minutes at about 50%. The second attempt we got him to 52% with 4.5 minutes left before we ended up with 8 adds (we probably would have wiped at about 5-7% if not.) The third attempt we got him to 23% before enrage. Clearly, we have all of the concepts of the fight down, our dps was just a little light because the raid composition was a bit off. We have Gruul scheduled for tonight, but I have a feeling we’ll be headed back to SSC, and I have little doubt that I’ll walk out of there with the Robe of Hateful Echoes (ok, maybe not me, and maybe not that drop, but you get the idea. 😉 )

On another note, I jumped back into Mythos a few days ago. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my level 11 pyromancer hadn’t been wiped, so I hopped back on with him. I quickly discovered that my skill points had been in large part wasted, so I went to the NPC to have respec. It cost 1g which is a somewhat substantial sum, but I was glad I did it. After some research on the forums, I found the build I liked (Flaming Fist) and started in.

Several things quite different since the last time I played. There are now four “difficulty” options to choose from. The first is normal, which hasn’t really changed. The second is Elite mode, which means significantly harder mobs, better drops, more experience, and 50% return on items sold to vendors. The third is Hardcore mode, which means one death and your gone. The fourth is Hardcore Elite which you can figure out. The main other change I’ve noticed is that pots, which used to be insanely priced, are now very reasonable, which is good since they are used frequently. Many other changes have also been included, like guilds, a looking for group tab, achievements (very similar to LotRO), a few more maps, and lots of things that I haven’t noticed 🙂

With that said, I suggest you a) try this game again if it’s been a while since you’ve done so, or b) get your hands on a beta key. There are lots of them floating around, so it shouldn’t be terribly difficult. I have two extras, which I can give out if anyone is curious, I just need an e-mail address. Please actually intend to play the game and do so if you ask for a beta key. I would really like to get these to players who actually want to try it out.

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back soon.

~Kanthalos

Update and Gold Farming Tips

Well, as it happens, we didn’t get a chance to give Hydross a go the other night because our raid leader got run off the road into a ravine and had to go to the hospital for a few hours (he’s alright, just a bit sore.) That said, we are heading back to SSC tonight for the attempt. Over the weekend we had a nice farming session where we took 15 of our guildmates to elemental plateau in Nagrand and donated all of the motes/primals we got to the guild bank so we could start working on a fourth set of resist gear, which was extremely successful. This is a lot of fun and very worthwhile if your guild needs to do the same, I highly recommend it.

With that little update, I have some excellent tips for farming gold, that are all possible for virtually every class. With these tips, depending on the economy of your server, you should be able to make between 90 and 150g per hour.

Requirements — 375 cooking and fishing. It’s a long and tedious process, but well worth it. Here’s why:

1. Mixed Highland/Darter Nodes near Skettis — If you hit up the three highland lakes (Blackwind, Ere’Noru, and Jorune (near the Horde outpost)) and the schools of darter down below (all of which are constantly respawning) this can keep you busy as long as you want to do it, and you can cook up the crawdads and darter for huge amounts of money. I’m currently selling stacks of five golden fish sticks for 10g 75s, and every stack is selling. thats more than 42g a stack. Spicy Crawdads sell for around 30g a stack and are the easiest to catch in the schools (in terms of %.)

On a sidenote, there is a very easy quest given from a little boy named Seth in the tavern in Lower City which gives you a +20 fishing pole, it’s definitely worth it.

2. Basilisks in Terokkar — Run along the river in terokkar and kill the dampscale basilisks. They are only 62-64ish and die extremely fast. if you go the whole way up or down, you just fly back and they will have respawned, so it’s continuous. These basilisks drop Chunk ‘o Basilisks at about a 50-70% rate, and each one can be cooked into a Blackened Basilisk which generally sell for around a gold each. Furthermore, you can fish the darter nodes you see along the way, and the Dampscale Basilisk Eyes can be used for rep with Scryer and sell for 50s each or so on the AH (a stack of 100 will sell for around 50g — not bad when that’s not even what you’re farming for!)

These reasons are why Terokkar is my favorite farming zone in the game. I also have Herbalism and Mining, which combined with wowhead gatherer (make sure you get the Gatherer DB Wowhead version and update the database in the configuration options) is unbelievable.

Recipes:

Blackened Basilisk (+23 Spell Damage) — Supply Officer Mills, Allerican Stronghold
Golden Fish Sticks (+44 Healing) –Innkeeper Biribi, Allerian Stronghold
Furious Crawdad (+30 Stamina) — Innkeeper Biribi, Allerian Stronghold

I hope this helps, and hopefully no one from my server is reading this 😉 Be back later with an update on Hydross!

~Kanthalos

Guest Entry

Since Kanthalos is at class and swamped with homework until early December, I figured it was about time for a new blog entry and who better to post it than…Anaktoria! That’s right, the (wo)man, the myth, and the legend right here right now to blog about the woes of Warcraft and the angst of Azeroth.

Anyhoo, on with the entry.

I rejoined the wild World of Warcraft about a month ago after about a 6-9 month break. Since then I’ve went through some interesting changes. As a level 70 mage, I’m left with a few options. I could run Kara for some epics and then attempt to move on to harder and more challenging raids. I could PvP till the cows come home and end up with some nice Gladiator gear, or I could raise my tailoring skill to about a bazillion and craft myself some epic sets. Nevermind the 5,000 gold for an epic flying mount. The point is that currently this seems like a lot more work than play.

It all boils down to gear and gold. You can’t get into a good raiding guild without being geared (and thusly you get gear from being in a good raiding guild), you can’t run some of the harder endgame raids without great gear due to the fact you’ll get crushed like an annoying insect by the bosses, and you can’t run heroics (a slightly easier way to get gear instead of attempting the horror that is a Kara PUG) unless you’re geared enough to attract a strong PUG and survive the run. If you have enough gold, you can just buy yourself some epics, but we’re talking thousands what with the price on mats and labor.

I’m not a big fan of PvP because…well…I’m Alliance. That says enough about our battlegrounds right there. So many decisions, which one is right? Seriously, I’m open to suggestions. My relationship with WoW is of a love-hate nature. I love the game, but I hate how I end up feeling adrift and lost when all of these tedious options arise. Maybe someday an MMO will come along that doesn’t give me these unsavory feelings when I hit the level cap. I certainly hope so.

The season one arena gear becomes purchasable with battleground honor tomorrow. That’s a start. Hit up those EotS, AV and AB double honor weekends and you’ll have some epics in no time. I’ve got my eyes on a staff, and that’ll help. I’ve found a guild that can run Kara well and most of the members are pretty decently geared and that’s another start. You can always farm for money and mats, but that’s another one of the ‘more work than play’ aspects of WoW. Sure, there are great times in WoW, especially when you find a guild full of friendly and helpful people, but sometimes the negatives outweigh the benefits. Then again, I’ve tried other MMOs and they just can’t spark that initial ‘ooh’ factor that World of Warcraft did for me in the very beginning.

So for now I trudge on in the pursuit of epics and leveling alts. I’m sure you’ll hear more from me again, and most likely about WoW. Kanthalos sends his regards, but graduating college > MMOs at the moment. I hope you enjoyed my WoW insight.

~Anaktoria

On Raiding

Now that my fiancee and I are back into WoW, we’re starting to consider our raiding options for the future.  Our server, which I’ll leave nameless for now, is not all that advanced in terms of raiding guilds.  There are five or six who have even began on Serpentshrine Cavern only twelve or so that have done Gruul and Mag’s Lairs.  For now, this is fine.  There are a few dozen guilds who have completed at least half of Kara which will be more than enough to get started.  Basically, we want to join a guild that has completed Kara and can run through it pretty efficiently, basically so that it isn’t just a wipefest.  We’ve still yet to set foot inside the instance, so we probably shouldn’t be so picky, but after nearly nine months of the expansion, there should be enough experience from a handful of guilds (on my server) that this isn’t too much to ask.   Once we get through Kara for a few weeks, it might be time to jump into something a little heavier, which leads to a new problem.

As stated, there are very few guilds that are pretty advanced into BC raid content on our server, and those that are are basically set with the crew they have now, which will make it rather difficult to get into and even if we do, becoming an important part of the guild (which is what we ultimately want) might be a bit difficult.  This leaves the option of possibly transferring servers if funds become available to do so.  This of course is not something that can be done randomly for a popular server.  If this does in fact open itself up, we’d basically need to have a guild offering us a spot before we went so we don’t blow $50 (two characters, Tonks and Anaktoria) only to find that the server we’re on is a very well-established server with no place for us.

Even if we do find a good fit in terms of a guild on whichever server that may be, there is still the question of “what’s the point?”  The next expansion will probably hit shelves sometime between Q3 of 2008 and Q1 of 2009 which leaves about 10-13 months to raid and gain gear that will soon be deleted in favor of 73 greens.  Actually, on a side note, I really hope this isn’t the case.  I think that if Blizzard has any sense, they will make the best gear available now last all the way through to level 80 end-game.  That way people will feel far less resentment and frustration when they drop they gear that took hundreds of hours to obtain just days into the expansion.  Sorry, got a little sidetracked, but it does sort of fit in.  The point of raiding is both to obtain gear (primary reason) as well as enjoy the instances and time with guild members (secondary reason.)  So those are the “points” of raiding, and as for the gear lasting longer with the next expansion, if that happens, I will be much more likely to take raiding quite seriously and pay to transfer our characters to a new server (unless we find ourselves attached to a guild here.)

So there it is.  I’m really torn right now about whether I want to focus more on the guild or on the gear, as our guild pre-BC was a lot of fun and we enjoyed the company, but didn’t advance nearly as far as we would have liked.  I hope this doesn’t come off as too selfish, but we also don’t want to invest myself too fully into a guild that isn’t what we’re looking for.  Hopefully we can find a healthy balance, and not find ourselves crying come the next expansion as we find ourselves typing “DELETE” once again.

I hope that was at least somewhat coherent.

~Kanthalos

A Return to Asheron’s Call

So yes, it is going to happen. After playing for around a week, I’ve decided that I am going to give it another go. Sure the combat system (for melee classes) is a bit rudimentary and the engine is a bit dated, but there is still a lot to offer, especially since I haven’t played in nearly 3 years and Turbine puts out monthly content updates and there is a whole new expansion to discover. There is still a decent sized community on my server Leafcull (about 300 accounts active each night) and the three things that mean the most to me in this game (besides the combat system) are community, exploration, and the skill-based system. When I say skill-based system I don’t mean the skill you have to play your character, but rather the idea that all the experience you get can be put into whatever skill you choose, rather than improving your attributes through leveling and gear. To me this is something that other MMO’s need to implement, as it gives you much more control over your character, and makes you feel as though your character is YOU, and not a replica of nOObPWNr.

My character maxed out at 126 when I was still playing and the current level cap is 275, so that should say something about how much new stuff there is to do. Even the graphics have gotten a huge update, and while they are limited by the engine, they are very crisp and greatly improved since I last played. While it is difficult to determine just how long I will stay, I’m quite sure that I will not be bored within the first month of play.

Given all of the hate that I’ve dropped on Vanguard, it is still calling out to me, and I will probably give it a shot after three or four more updates, and I for one don’t see any problem with teleportation devices if it means easier grouping and the like. Also, who cares if SOE takes total control over it? I agree with Cuppycake in that SOE probably has a larger role in the game than we know, and likely has the ultimate decision on what goes into the game anyway, so what does it matter?

Oh, and by the way, I am officially done with WoW for good. I just came to the conclusion that while there are new instances, gear and creatures, that is all they are. Nothing innovative was given to the players with the Burning Crusade, just more of the same, and I for one am not going to pay to spend four hours four nights a week playing the same instances I have played for the past year. The climb was fun once, but I don’t want to do it more than that. Change end-game, and I might change my mind, but we won’t see another expansion for 1.5-2 years in my estimation, so that won’t be for a while.

-Kanthalos

Ramifications of Burning Crusade on Guilds

Two weeks after Burning Crusade hit shelves, I had leveled my rogue up to 70. While I had a blast leveling and running several of the instances along the way, I wondered what there was to do next. I decided to spend a few days PvPing as well as a few more attaining an exalted reputation with Aldor for the epic sword. I would occasionally run a 5-man instance with my guild-mates (something like 60 active members and 40 of which now have at least one level 70), and have now become attuned to Karazhan. Too bad I won’t be able to run this instance for at least a month. Blizzard, at least in my mind, really did their players a disservice with the way they set up the initial end-game content. By making the first extremely difficult instance for only 10 players, they basically forced guilds to pick their best 12-15 players and use them to learn this instance. From what I have heard and can imagine, it is extremely expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating trying to learn this instance and requires impeccable teamwork, which in turn means that you need to use basically the same team every time you attempt it so that you can progress at a reasonable rate. This in turn means only the officers and the veterans of my guild, which makes sense. They have put in their time and effort for the guild, but what are the other 30-40 of us supposed to do while we wait for them to learn the instance? This isn’t the only issue, however. When the rest of us are trying to get attuned to Karazhan, most of the officers and veterans, the people who have a lot of experience running the earlier instances, are too busy to help out the other members of the guild, making it extremely difficult for them to get attuned, forcing them into pick-up groups that almost undoubtedly end in failure and a hefty repair bill.

Blizzard should have set it up so that you started with the 25-man instances so that a) you were forced to help more of your guild mates get attuned to help you run the instance and b) allowed more of the players in your guild to run it with you, not leaving them out in the cold waiting for their chance to get in. The way it is set up now, it really alienates the “elite” guild members from the “common” guild members, and in my guilds case, has caused several members to leave in frustration, one of which was actually an officer because he didn’t like the way the other members were being treated. I have heard this from three other guilds on my server, so I know that my guild is not alone in this issue.

Hopefully this will all be resolved in a month or two once all the initial hoopla has come and gone with the new instances, but I fear that, while many of the smaller guilds are now excited that they have been catered to, everyone else will really be struggling to try to get all their players into raids and keep them happy.

~Kanthalos