Archive | March, 2010

CDev

30 Mar

So short of being a professional fantasy author, a fully funded explorer or a lottery winner – working for Blizzard’s CDev team would be pretty damn neat.

The CDev team or “Creative Development” team is a group within Blizzard that manages the histories and published story lines for all of their game properties.

Well, they have their own board over at Blizzard’s Official Forums now.  The intent behind the new forum is to allow the creative team to interact more with gamers in hopes of better shaping the ongoing story that we all share.

I have to say that I’m encouraged by this.  There are so many facets to the game that seem to get completely ignored.  While big names like Richard Knaak, Christie Golden and Jeff Grubb have done fine work in the past to create the world and it’s most memorable characters, there has been a complete glut of stories about the rank and file of Azeroth, the every day people that live, die and strive in the same world, but don’t bear the names Proudmoore, Windrunner or Hellscream.

I’ve dug through a few posts already and have seen a number of promising threads.  There are some calling for more Tauren centric lore and stories (gotta love that) and others expounding on their favorite in game themes.  Of course there are some typical LoL-threads out there too, like “Is Thrall Homo” (complete with a link to a You-Tube clip – it’s been deleted by forum moderators already – so don’t bother.)

Still, CDev’s entrance onto the official forums is a really positive move and one I plan on following closely.

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The Loss of a Gathering Profession

25 Mar

Here’s a question:

Are gathering professions really worth having anymore?  Like most folks I “grew up” with complimentary gathering / crafting professions as I leveled and for the most part it was good.

Then I learned how to really use the auction house.

And I have to wonder why I bothered gathering.  Most mats for anything I want to craft are tossed up on the AH by enterprising farmers or players leveling.  In many cases, the mats are more than cheap enough that I can keep a steady income of around 300-700 gold  a day just buying and crafting or buying and reposting at a higher price.

Now I suppose an argument for gathering might be what I’m seeing on the Horde side auction house.  The leather market (which has always made up a large percentage of my overall sales) has been tied up by a handful of goblins.  They keep prices exorbitantly high – well above cost for anything you might try to craft.  Worse, they also seem to have a lock on the farmers, so very little useful material makes it into the pipeline.  In this situation, having a character that can skin can be useful.  After all, If I really need money, I can always farm for an hour or two and come away with a stack of mats to keep me going.

But who wants to do that?  With my primary market denied to me I simply moved on to other markets where I have crafters or transmuters available and simply try to wait until the leather prices free up.  Either way – I win.

On the Alliance side, the situation is different.  While a goblin or two might take a swing at the mats market, it rarely seems to stick.  All I have to do is bide my time and before you know it, there are stacks and stacks of reasonably priced leather flooding the AH.  In a few minutes a day I can keep a steady stream of income rolling in.  Much better than farming.

Regardless of faction, it seems like folks really serious about maximizing their in game income are turning to their crafting skills and Auction House chops vs. relying on their gathering abilities.

What about you?

Loremaster Thoughts II

24 Mar

So I’ve been laid up with some kind of nasty Korellian Death Flu and haven’t felt much like playing or posting.  Things feel a little more lucid today  (for the moment) so before the blood worms start feasting on my brain again – I thought I’d jot down some notes about my trudge toward Loremaster.

  1. All of the suggestions I received via the blog and via e-mail have rocked – thank you.
  2. Everyquest is worth its weight in gold.  I’ve started a systematic culling of quests in Kalimdor on a zone by zone basis.  As I enter each zone I pull up EQ and eyeball what quests it thinks I haven’t done.  I’ve already found at least a dozen simple quests that I *thought* I’d completed.  This is probably because I *have* completed them – but on different characters.  My numbers are already looking much better now that I’m clearing up all the discrepancies.  No more “I’m sure I’ve done that quest” – now I check.
  3. The whole Scepter of the Shifting Sands quest chain calls to me.  It just does.  Yes it is chock full of vanilla raid content – and I mean CHOCK full.  But I missed so much of it screwing around with my army of alts back in the day that I really want to at least give it a try.

You know, the whole LONG INVOLVED quest chain thing is something I really enjoy.  One chain that I really miss (believe it or not) is the Onyxia Attunement Chain.  I’ve  done the Alliance side attunement several times, but never managed to complete the Horde quests before Blizzard removed the requirement.  I’ve read that the quests still exist though.  I think I may have to hunt them down and see if that’s true.

I have to say that I’m bloody tired of Northrend at the moment.  While the quest hubs and the overall quality of “questing” was probably the best to be had in the entire game, they also happen to be the quests that I have had the opportunity to do the most.  So much of my time in vanilla WoW and Burning Crusade was lost either working on ALTs or getting deployed that Wrath of the Lich King has been the one expansion that I was actually able to play pretty much ad nauseum.   Hell – I was gone so much of BC that I’ve never done the majority of the level 70 heroic dungeons *or* Karazhan.  Finding folks willing to rediscover a lot of this content is difficult since most players are as sick of it as I am of WotLK.

Either way – there are so many things left for me to do in this game.  Which is kinda cool.  Sure some of it is a little grindy, but hey, the pay is good, the scenery changes and they let me play with explosives.

Wait…what?

Oh…right…here come the blood worms…gonna lay down for a while >_<

Loremaster is Kicking Me to Death

22 Mar

The title says it all.  I’ve downloaded Everyquest and Loremaster and I’m trying to be thorough, but as I hurtle about the old world looking for quest givers, I’m seeing fewer and fewer.  Worse, the quests I do find tend to be in the far flung corners of the world and the quest givers once found – seem determined to send me off to *other* far flung places.

Loremaster of Kalimdor is a particular pain in the ass.  I’ve gotten frustrated enough that I’ve started working on Loremaster of Outlands instead while trying to finish up at least one or two Kalimdor based quests a day.  Not a great idea to split my efforts I know, but at least the scenery changes.  At the moment, the bulk of my Kalimdor based questing consists of taxiing back and forth across the continent.

Time consuming and boring.

So Loremasters, how did you manage to nug these quests out?  Did you use addons?  Keep WoWHead open and just work your way from zone to zone until you found a quest in need of completion?  A little of both?

Did you do raid quests or things like the tier 0 upgrade quests?

Was medication ultimately involved?

0_o

WoW in Afghanistan

18 Mar

Eastern Afghanistan.

Mountains.  High parched desert.  Taliban.  No fit place for man or beast and there I was plunked right in middle of it all.  I had been in country for maybe four days and had finally made it down to the little American Forward Operating Base that was to be my home for the next year.  It was a pretty spartan place, located on top of a plateau at around 7000 feet. Not many amenities to speak of and the guys that were showing me around had hit all the high points in about five minutes.  There was a collection of beat up free weights they called a gym, the chow hall, and a tiny exchange where we could buy razors, soap, and six month old magazines.

“But hey – we do have our own Internet – so it’s not all bad,” I was told.  This surprised me, most bases have little Internet cafes setup for troops to e-mail folks back home and maybe get in tiny bit of web surfing.  But these guys were describing good old fashioned real Internets with no government filters or restrictions.

“Lead on,” I said, “take me to your Internets.”

And they did.

Troops throughout the company area were tapping away on laptops, e-mailing, surfing, listening to music.  Things were looking promising.  Then I saw him. There was this one guy who was sitting behind a desk in a particular hunched posture, his face intent, mouse hand twitching.  I knew that look, knew that focus.  Sidling around to where he was I stole a quick glance at the liquid perfection of his super high resolution lcd.  There, in its achingly familiar and wonderfully rendered glory were the Hillsbrad Foothills.  The object of all the mouse twitching was a midlevel dwarf warrior killing turtles for turtle meat.  Realizing that I was the new guy and wanting to make a good impression, I said something witty.

“ZOMG…”

The geeky happy realization that the next year might not be WoW free after all was shot full of holes pretty quick.  You see, the guys my unit was replacing were going to take the hardware for their civilian Internet system home with them.  That is – unless we got together and bought it from them.  Putting the word out to gamers and the rest of the Internet starved troops, by the time the rest of my unit’s main body arrived, we had collected over $10,000 to buy the satellite modem, dishes, wifi paraphenalia and the painfully expensive service contract.

When the old unit finally picked up and moved out for home, those of us in charge of the new Internet System went to town trying to get everything setup and sorted out.  Of course – with the guys who had managed the finicky thing through 15 months already on freedom birds headed back to the states, we were on our own.  This presented the best time possible for a hardware failure to occur and before anyone could so much as torrent an episode of Battlestar, the router that managed much of the communications died a smoky, dust-choked death.

Faces fell like daisy cutter bombs when we passed the news along to everyone else.

Not to be deterred we pulled some cash out of our reserve fund and purchased a replacement router.  In the meantime we went about the time honored task of jury rigging something, anything together.  A day later, with a little netgear home router stuck in place of the big (dead) Cisco, we were able to offer up some basic Internet to the company area.   It was brutally slow and the little router tipped over in protest from time to time with all the users hitting it, but it worked.  Tentatively, a friend tried logging on to WoW.  The look of ecstasy on his face when the loading screen came up was a joy to see.  After a few moments of disconcerted clicking he finally looked over at me.

“It works,” he said.  “But it’s damn laggy.”

Damn laggy was actually like 5-6000 ms latency.  Yeah.  But you could log on to less crowded locations and chat with friends or just wander around and farm herbs or ore.  It was something.

In time we managed to get enough bandwidth provisioned that the service felt a bit better than dialup.  Remember, we were sitting on a mountain top in the middle of damned no where in a country that time forgot.  The satellite shot we were supping from was small and we were using old, inefficient hardware that ate up even more of that bandwidth just keeping the connection up.  AT&T Broadband it was not.  Through the year that we lived there, we fought to keep the service running, fixing failed hardware, arguing with surly Afghan technicians over borrowed cell phones, burning through our precious Skype air time to place calls to provider data centers in Germany and Spain – hoping against hope that someone would speak english and didn’t mind the laggy coke bottle quality of the call.

But through it all, slow as it was, people got to talk to families, e-mail got sent, itunes got downloaded.  And the gamers gamed.  I leveled Rain’ into her early 70’s while in Afghanistan and did the Mag’har chain quests on her and Tigerclaw both.  Not much for an entire year, but we were kinda busy.  A good latency day for us was around 2000 ms and a great day was something no stateside gamer would tolerate at 1000 ms +.  But it was playable – and play we did – and e-mail and download and surf.  That crappy, laggy, hard as hell to maintain link to the rest of the world was a critical piece of sanity that was enjoyed from the newest private all the way up to our Brigade Commander, a 1-Star General.  I’m proud as hell of the system and proud of the fact that it was my personal baby to protect and nurture.  Nothing I did though would have been possible without the guys from our S-6 shop (the army’s computer guys) my buddy Sertab and a host of WoW crazy volunteers that helped us keep the thing running.

I remembered the system last night when my son started complaining about our home broadband.  He was trying to play Counterstrike while watching You-Tube movies on two old laptops he’d crowded around his desk.  Things were starting to lag a bit for him.  While this was going on, I was farming ore in Icecrown and my wife chatting with friends on Facebook.

I just smiled at him as he grumbled about You-Tube being reduced to a slide show.  I put on my “uphill both ways” boots and told him this story.

World of Westerncraft (II)

15 Mar

For those just tuning in – Wind’ is taking a tangent.

This starts down here

###

The three riders crested the hill with their backs to the late afternoon sun.  Two were mounted on Kodos, big grays with proud black horns, their flanks covered in tribal symbols writ in decorative white paint.  The third sat astride a sturdy black riding wolf, rare for the tribal taur-ahe, but common enough in the armies that protected New Kalimdor.  Shading his eyes from the glare, Woodrow could make out the silhouette of old man Bearclaw, the chief of the Blackhoof Tribe.  The old Tauren was as strong as the kodo he rode, but like the rest of his dwindling race lacked the size and stature of his forefathers.  Riding next to Bearclaw was a younger Tauren, a brave, probably a son or a favored nephew along to observe the elder Tauren’s statecraft.  The third rider, Tauren as well, was a proud looking female in traditional buckskins and sporting the tabard of the Thunderbluff Native Tribes Council.  That would be Laughing Sparrow, Woodrow decided, the representative from the tribal side of the bipartisan government that ruled much of the prairie between Thunderbluff and the Barrens.  She was along to ensure that the Ranchers Association was holding to its bargain to share the bounty of the land with Mulgore’s native peoples.

A fine agreement, I give them a percentage of my herd twice a year and they agree not to burn my ranch down around my ears.

Trebuchet snorted and stamped again as if in agreement with his master’s observation.  Nathan tightened his thighs around the big red gelding and held the rein a bit tighter.  As the riders reined in, Woodrow raised a gloved hand, palm open.

“Chief Bearclaw – it’s good to see you again,” he said and nodded a greeting to Laughing Sparrow.  The tauren chief reined his Kodo a polite distance from the rancher’s war horse and raised a big three fingered hand in salute as well.

“Nathan Woodrow – I see you.  It is good to see the seasons change is it not?”

“It is indeed,” the rancher replied simply.

Bearclaw turned in his saddle to indicate the brave he rode with.  “Allow me to present Clear Creek, my sister’s son.”

Woodrow regarded the young brave, noting the tauren’s rigid posture.

“I see you Clear Creek,” he said, “and I welome you to these proceedings.”  The young warrior nodded gravely but remained silent.

“Greetings to you Captain Woodrow, from the council of elders,” said Laughing Sparrow smoothly.  “I trust the fine animals your men are tending to are your offering to the accord of sharing?”

Nathan nodded casually and glanced down to where two of his hands were wrangling the obstinate female into the makeshift corral.  The big matriarch honked at the horse borne riders and brandished a worthy horn at them, but slowly joined the young males inside the pen.

“Four bulls and one of my elder breeder females,” he replied.  “They are healthy and strong and will serve the Blackhoof well I think.”  The rancher glanced at Bearclaw.  The elder tauren was listening to something his nephew was saying.  Nathan couldn’t pick out all the words, but he thought he caught the taur-ahe terms for “big female” and “nightmare”.   He had to work to keep a thin smile from playing across his face…his mustache twitched with the effort.

“Fine beasts – particularly the bulls,” Bearclaw said after a moment.  “Nathan Woodrow, my nephew is curious about the lady of the plains that you’re offering us.  Does your herd not need a matriarch?”

“I have a young one up and coming,” the rancher replied, “I’d have offered her to you, but felt that it was best to offer the Blackhoof tribe’s herd both strength and wisdom.”

Clear Creek blanched a little at the answer and Bearclaw actually laughed out loud.

“Indeed.  If her wisdom is anything like my lifemate’s, she’ll have my herd’s bulls running for your pastures in under a week’s time.”

Woodrow finally did grin and tipped his wide brimmed hat to the tauren chief.

“Only the best for my friends,” he said, his eyes twinkling.  Bearclaw barked a laugh again.

“Friends!  Hah!  I’d pay good coin to see what stock you’d offer to a blood enemy!” He said, but stretched a hand down to the rancher to seal the deal.

####

World of Westerncraft (I)

15 Mar

Mulgore Plains – Free Kalimdor
210 years after Cataclysm
50 years after the Sundering

Captain (retired) Nathan Woodrow, late of the Kalimdor Free Cavalry stared down at the milling herd of kodo with something close to contentment.  There were at least 200 of the beasts, complete with a fine pair of bulls and a train of honking, complaining calves spread out in the valley below him.  It was spring in Mulgore and the soldier turned ranch owner had spent a long and worried winter moving the herd from the feed lots outside of New Ogrimmar, across the Barrens and into the 1800 acres of mesa and rolling Mulgore prairie that was his.

From his vantage point, a small bluff overlooking about a quarter of his usable pasture, Woodrow watched as his ranch hands, a collection of professional kodo-punchers and former soldiers, worked the herd.  Most of them were moving the bulk of the kodo to higher pastures so the lower could be cut for hay.  But a smaller group of riders were pulling out several young males and one big grumpy matriarch, splitting them from the herd and leading them back down toward the makeshift corral of stacked stone and timber they’d built the previous week.

“My tribute offering,” the Captain muttered to the wind and glanced off to the east where a trio of riders were moving toward him with purpose.  Woodrow spared a look at his pocket watch and then shifted in the saddle.

“Leave it to old Bearclaw to show up on time when there’s something in it for him.”

Woodrow turned Trebuchet, his favorite war horse from the old days, down slope with a gentle nudge of heel and thigh, to greet the approaching riders.  The big red blew once when he noticed the trio coming up the hill towards them and stamped.  Nathan grinned behind the distinctly non regulation handlebars of his steel gray mustache and slapped the warhorse affectionately.

“No charge today, lad.  We’re both retired.”

####

(more after lunch – assuming work allows)