Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Few Days to Legion

We are almost to Legion.  All we have to do is survive the weekend.

     There is always that time before the next expansion drops where we sit in frenzied excitement planning on this being the best expansion ever.  Normally, a couple months in a few flaws will appear and we will start to talk about how Wrath was the best expansion etc... but that beginning where everything is shiny and new is amazing to us.  And who knows, this could be the best expansion ever.  Until we sink our dirty little claws in who knows.

     I have been blows away a bit by the excitement of the pre-patch event.  For the most part it has been tons of fun.  People are still swarming over the Legion attacks, and you can level a alt quickly.  I can tell you going from 90-100 isn't hard.  Wearing full heirlooms and a 20% potion from your garrison you can get almost a level per invasion.  Even without you can get half a level or more. Now is the time to speed level alts.  The time is perfect for it.

    The story we have gotten each week with a new quest has been two hits and one miss for me.  The first week of course was the most amazing when we saw some major lore characters fall, and both the Horde and Alliance get shaken up a bit.  Some people went out like a bad A, (King Varian) and some died before we could see their potential fulfilled (Vol'jin) either way that week was amazing.  You had to play both sides of the scenerios, or watch them on youtube, to get the full story.  If you only had one half, specifically the Alliance half, you were ready to go murder the other faction.

    The second week and the return of Magni Bronzebeard was fantastic.  We got to trudge around Ulduar and Karazhan again.  There was a great bit of lore introduced, some that may have surprised some people.  Though, it came close to what Matt Rossi and Anne Stickney from Blizzardwatch have predicted. Titan Azeroth.....

     The third week I found disappointing.  It felt shoehorned in because Blizzard needed to add something.  Of course seeing Alodi is no small thing, but it felt more like five minutes in Dalaran than anything substantial. There was no real story to it, just a cool guest appearance to make you feel like it mattered.

    I am spending my last few days, getting a few alts to 100, and just getting a feel for a few classes.  I am still not locked onto one class for my main in Legion, but I have this weekend to decide what I want to do.  I love the feel of Demon Hunter, and have been asking for that class since Wrath, but I don't want to jump on the hot new thing because it's the hot new thing.  My paladin has been my main for so long I almost feel indebted to the idea of leveling him first.  But we will see.

    What are you doing in these last few days?  Leveling alts, trying out new classes, or just taking it easy?  Are you enjoying the pre-patch content?  How do you feel about the pre-patch quests?


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Meanwhile, in the pre-patch....

I don't think I'm holding back spoilers on this one... so really
SPOILERS are here
Don't read this post if you don't like SPOILERS.

    So we are two days into the pre-patch event.  I have already rolled my first Demon Hunter, and played through the Alliance and Horde side quests.  It is a lot of fun, and a lot to take in right now.  So let us start with the Demon Hunter experience.

    Rhumor is my new demon hunter, and while I had played through the starting quests a couple of times in the Alpha and Beta, it still feels good to visit that starting zone.  The last time I played through he cut scenes we have been given with, Illidan, Maeve and Gul'dan did not exist.  It was pretty much play through and enjoy.  With the cut scenes it adds a great bit more importance and atmosphere to the game play.  I loved it the first time I played through, and I love it even more now.  If you don't plan on playing a Demon Hunter, I still suggest just playing on through the starting zone.  It is pretty awesome.

     The Class itself is fun to play.  It is very movement based, and you can't help but jump around, charge, and vault away from your enemies as needed.  They do have a bit of glass canon syndrome going on where if you start to take hits you drop quickly.  Well, at least in Havoc, I haven't tried the tanking spec yet, that is on my list for this week.

    Now we get to the quests.  Here is where we get spoilery.  So, once again, if you don't like spoilers don't read on.  I won't stop you, I'm not your mother.  But don't get mad at me later because you kept going despite my warnings.

    Both the Horde and Alliance Quests start out pretty much the same.  You get sent on a mission to stop the invasion.  You storm a beach, meet up with the forces (led by Vol'jin and Varian Wrynn) that had gone on before.  You then start to push the demons backs.

    The Horde and Alliance are on separate sides of the island but meet up when they go to rescue Tirion Fordring.  You know, the dude who stood in a block of ice while you killed the Lich King and then broke out in time to make sure he got some loot as well.  Anyway, we get there, but it's too late.  We get to witness the death of a major lore character.

     Of course there is then a bit of banter from Gul'dan, and the Alliance decides to take him and the Legion head on while the Horde climbs a cliff to watch the flank.  Seems like a good plan, right?

     Well, the story splits off here again.  I will just say, the Alliance is fighting and sees the Horde leave them to the Legion.  Without the support, the Alliance is overrun and has to retreat.  King Varian Wrynn, sacrifices himself to allow the Alliance to escape, and then charges into the demon's and goes out like the Bad A he is.  No we don't recover a body, but play the quest.  He's gone.

     What the Alliance doesn't see is the Horde is being over run and is forced to retreat.  Vol'jin is severely wounded and Thrall is knocked out of the fight.  Despite the cries of hold this position no matter what, the Horde is forced to retreat.  They too get to see Varian Wrynn die as they make their escape.

     So on Alliance side, King Wrynn is dead and Anduin is now the king of Stormwind.  I am curious where this will go, because Wrynn has always been the war leader for the Alliance, and his son is not a warrior.  We of course get a bit of angry Jaina and Angry Genn Graymane, and half the alliance leadership is calling out for vengeance against the Horde for abandoning them.  They blame the Horde for Varian's death

    The Horde calls you in time to see Vol'jin's last moments.  Yes, the troll whom I love the most is no more.  In his last moments he tells Sylvanas what he thinks of her, and then makes her Warchief.  He then is taken to troll heaven, or to be one with the loa, or whatever their afterlife is.

    So now, we get to see two factions who have lost their main leaders have to interact.  Sylvanas has always been what one might consider evil and very aggressive.  I am curious how leading the Horde is going to effect this part of her now that she has to watch out for all the Horde races, and not just the undead.  This may be the redemption story we have been waiting for.  I mean, we have seen so many leaders killed and corrupted, it would be a nice change of pace.

   The one bone of contention I have with this pre-patch is a small one. When the Demon Hunters emerge, they meet up with Khadgar, who introduces himself as the leader of the Kirin Tor.  This is all well and good, but this takes place before some throne room shenanigans in which Jaina is labeled and calls herself the leader of the Kirin Tor.  Either Blizzard dropped the ball here somewhere, or Khadgar and Jaina may be causing a rift in the biggest mage society on Azeroth.  Because we need more leaders arguing and causing civil war.

    Either way, I am enjoying the crap out of this content.  Play it for yourselves, it's great.  The armor you can get for transmog and upgrades from the invasions looks good.  Well, except for the cloth helm.  And Azeroth feels populated again.  Hop in and see what I mean.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Prepatch feelings.

So, by now most of you have jumped on to try out your characters.

     I have taken a couple weeks to post this, because I've been mulling over what to say.  I want to give some bright insights you haven't heard anywhere else along with infusing you with the fervor and excite which comes when we are looking a new expansion in the face.   I want to thrill you with words and make you want to log in this very moment to see what everyone else is experiencing.

     In my heart I can't.

     The state of the game is fine, don't get me wrong.  I have been moving from character to character trying out some of the specs.  Some like my Ret Paladin just doesn't feel right to me.  Which if funny because I would argue my Retadin got changed very little.  Survival hunter feels more fun that I would have though, my elemental shaman just feels under-powered to me.  And on and on it goes.

     I guess I was expecting more early on.  We got built up to this pre-patch event etc, and I got a little bit of bone with bits of meat on it.  The main coarse is still waiting.  The only opinion I can give right now is that things are not where they need to be yet. They have given us a taste of what is up and coming, but I am not comfortable giving any type of judgement yet.

     I was honestly hoping they would start the pre-patch shenanigans today, a week before we get demon hunters.  Alas as far as I know nothing happened.  I haven't seen any news of it in my feeds or on Blizzardwatch, and the DDoS attacks are keeping me from being able to log in to see for myself.  I guess I thought it would be nice if everyone could focus on the pre-patch event, and then on Demon Hunters rather than balancing time between the two.

     The other thing I can speak to is I am in the Facebook streaming beta from Blizzard.  I can stream any of the games I choose to play in Blizzard's list.  Be it Diablo III, Heroes of the Storm, or World of Warcraft.  So far I'm underwhelmed with this product, but as it is, it is the beta.

     The problems I have seen is freezing while recording (to be honest that is more my computers fault then Blizzards) When you are no longer live on Facebook the recording seem clipped and short. Normally it stops after about five minutes, and half of that is video that is fast forwarded/sped up.   I also would love a way to link the recordings here at the bottom of my blog post, because that would be cool.  I would honestly love to record my blog live, verbally while playing so people could choose to click and listen while I am using this technology.  It has a long way to go.

     I still don't think the intention is to take on Twitch.  I just don't see the earning potential or the focus that would be needed towards a particular group of individuals.  I am not seeing anything in the interface that is comparable and I feel that if such things are implemented, they may not fit into Blizzard's vision of this product. Once again, it's Beta so we don't know what is going to happen down the line.

     So, am I being a wet blanket?  Is there something amazing that has come out that I have missed?  Or am I spot on, and are you gritting at the teeth for some real new content to play?  What is your opinion so far?



Monday, July 18, 2016

Tomorrow, we begin again.

It's official, there are no more mooses in Hellfire Citadel.

      That is right folks, tomorrow is the day that we get to relearn everything.  7.0 will be dropping, for those counting this is the 7th iteration of the game.  Not counting major changes that mid-expansion that is.  This time the focus is on class fantasy.  They have taken the essence of each class and tried to distill it into each of the specs.  I will be honest, I have been lazy about playing on the test realm so all I can really say, is hop on and see how your class works.  The people playing on the PTR have been doing a lot of class switching.  This is going to be the expansion where a lot of people change their main character is the feeling right now.

      Demon Hunters are coming, but not yet.  They will not be available until the last week or two before Legion drops on Aug. 30th.  So, you have to put your warglaves on the shelf a little longer.

     New transmog system will be out.  This means my end of expansion bag and bank cleaning is coming.  No longer will you have to have an item in your bank or void storage to use it for transmog, if you have picked it up on a character that could transmog it, it will be recorded, and then you can vendor that item for gold.  My only question is, doesn't this make void storage pointless? Unless they use it as a second bank for everything, I think it does.

      If you are not started, you won't be able to start your legendary quest for your ring after tomorrow.  As a matter of fact, if you aren't to part II of the quest line it will disappear from your quest log completely.  If you are in the latter part of the quest, you will need to finish it by August 30th, or the quest will be gone completely.

      I know everyone is excited for the demon invasion, however, like Demon Hunters, this event will not be happening immediately.  Instead we will be given a few weeks to get the feel of our characters down.  I feel this is for the best, as much as I would love a long drawn out invasion that progressed week by week, this is going to give us the opportunity to get our feet wet and figure out what we are doing before fel fire starts raining down from the sky.

      There is much more.  If you go to you can go look it up.  So get in there tomorrow, figure things out, and let's get ready to kill some demons.

     If you are in Fear Itself, start watching your calendars for Monday and Tuesday nights.  I will start getting get together's together soon so we can start hitting things together again.  It's time to work our way into a new expansion.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Did Warlord's Break Professions.

I’ve been thinking about professions a lot.

                Warlords was not kind to professions.  Everything was made so readily available by garrisons, that for the most point it felt pointless to have any gathering professions, let alone any making professions.  You could upgrade a few select items for yourself or others with a lot of work, but for the most part, it felt pretty useless to be a blacksmith etc… after a point.

                With Legion it sounds like we are taking a step back to the old way of doing things, with a few improvements.  You will have your blacksmiths, doing all the blacksmith work.  Jewel crafters doing all the gems and so on.  The improved part is that if you are not at level with Legion professions, you will still be able to make the items.  This means you won’t have to slog through all making all the Vanilla Wow recipes on up before you can make current gear.

                I look forward to this.  I miss professions feeling meaningful, rather that something you might do so that you can make one or more extra items that through hard work will be comparable to that next drop you get in a dungeon.  I know I’m kind of looking back at things through rose colored glasses on this.  I remember grinding to make a couple of items to get my ilevel up and ready to raid, just to replace them a week or two later.

                However I also wonder how many people are looking forward to going back to the old way?  I remember flying around Uldum for hours grinding ore so I could work on Engineering and Blacksmithing items.  Now because of my garrison, I don’t remember that last time I went grinding for ore.  Well, it’s been a couple of months, but it was in Pandaria to make Sky Golem mount to sell.  I still do that on occasion, but that is a gold earning thing, not a current need gear that works right now thing.  As far as current engineering work, I do the same thing I have done since the beginning of Warlords, I pop out a Blingtron 5000

                Now, since we have not had to do much gathering, are people going to be willing to hope back into that again?  How about professions when it comes to making stuff.  Are people going to have the drive to bang out a bunch of items after it just felt useless?  Or is everyone else’s experience different than mine, where people making a lot of items with professions and making it feel worthwhile?  I am honestly curious.  How is this going to affect people’s feelings going into Legion?  Am I just crazy to be having these thought?

What do you think, are you ready to hop back into professions come Legion?



Monday, June 20, 2016

My Warcraft Movie Review.

O.k., I admit I am late to the party on this one.

    I have finally seen the Warcraft movie, and as with every other Blizzard fanboy and World of Warcraft fan this is the movie I have wanted for years and years.  So, the question is, how did it hold up to my expectations.

    For the most part yes.  I thought the story was good, though it felt rushed at parts.  The characters were great, and the special effects were fantastic.

    I would love to start with the special effects.  The orcs look real.  This is not just fan service, or me being a part of the crowd on this.  It is fantastic the different facial expressions, movement, and emotions the orcs are able to convey.  This is one of those cases where there are scenes where you question how much is practical effects, and how much is CGI.  When the orcs share the screen with humans they look like they belong there and you don’t feel like they are face at all.  All the orcs look distinct and different and even though they aren’t part of the “cast” some of the orcs we know make cameos.  Kargath Bladefist is seen in the background, so is Grommash Hellscream. There are members of the Laughing Skull clan, and other tribes you have seen playing around Azeroth and Outland and it’s fantastic that it is not just a bunch green figures that look the same.

     The story was good with a few difference from the Lore. (I may have some spoilers below)  I thought it flowed pretty smooth for the most part, and was easy enough to follow.  For a non-wow person it might be a little tougher, but I still think the story should be easy enough to follow.  It has been said that about forty minutes of screen time cut from this movie, and it shows here and there where it feels there is a sharp cut in the flow of the show.  I feel there were some critical moments and scenes that were cut to keep the story to the two hour mark, and I hope there is a director’s cut on the horizon so we can see what was taken out.

     I liked the characters well enough.  I had some issues with Khadgar at first, but grew to like him as the story progressed.  Duratan is fantastic and eats up the screen whenever he is on.  Garona has a heartbreaking character arc and the character is used very well.  Lothar is great, and I liked King Lane well enough.  Medivh is very good and Ogrim Doomhammer and Blackhand are both very well done. I did think Gul’dan was a little one note-evil, but that fits his character. 

     My biggest problem there was that some of these characters didn’t have enough screen time to make you care enough about them. Ogrim Doomhammer should have had a few more moments, Callum, Lothar’s son is hard to care about as his character is not well developed, and the list goes one the less important any character is to the overall arc.

Here is where I start with SPOILERS… so if you don’t like SPOILERS… Don’t read further.  I won’t feel bad if you do.

     The changes to the story I thought were great.  The biggest change I felt was Garona’s arc.  The changes were subtle, but worked well.  Instead of being half-draenei/half-orc she is half human in this story.  The movie strongly suggests she is actually Medivh’s daughter (sorry Medan, you won’t exist in the movie cannon) On Blizzardwatch podcast I’m pretty sure they said that in the novelization of the movie that relationship is confirmed.  The other big change to her arc is that instead of killing King Lane because she was Mind Controlled, she killed him because she was given a choice.  And the outcome of that is beautiful and heart wrenching and made me tear up a little.  Everything the character builds in the movie is destroyed as she makes the right choice.

      The other big change I can think of off the top of my head is the Khadgar isn’t cursed with old age when he takes out Medivh when Medivh is possessed by Sargeris. It does not go into the explanation of Medivh always having been possessed from his birth because of reasons I don’t want to go into here, and I’m actually glad the movie didn’t.  That would have been wasted screen time I think for a more general audience.  It doesn’t even name the demon he is possessed by.

     Of course, Lothar Kills Blackhand (Doomhammer did in the cannon) Durotan is killed by Gul’dan to great purpose, which is a better change from the original story, and so on.  I am happy with the changes made because they all made sense.

      Now, the one thing I didn’t like was because of the time constraints was the lack of character development. The big sore spot with this was Callun? Callum? Lothar’s son.  When he gets killed we are supposed to care, even though the movie didn’t have time to build that relationship and give us time to develop any attachment to him.  Instead we had two or three quick scenes that seemed forced into the movie just so we know who he is.  I don’t think Lothar’s performance is why we feel nothing, I think we didn’t have time to develop any feelings to be hurt here.

     So, if I were to rate this movie, it would be four to four and a half stars.  It does what it accomplishes, it’s a fun thrill ride with wonderful special effects that makes you want to run back to the theater to see it again.  I wouldn’t put it on as high a pedestal as Captain America: Civil War or Winter Soldier, and it is not going into my top ten movies of all time by any stretch. (Do a director’s cut that lets me change that please) But I recommend it for a good couple hours of fun.


Friday, June 17, 2016

World of Warcraft Streaming on Facebook.

So, Blizzard is talking about doing a streaming service with Facebook attached to your Wow account.

    This to me brings up some interesting questions.  Both Convert to Raid and The Blue Recluse have discussed this a little, and both had some great points.  Some of which I will repeat a little here, others of which I am curious about.

     The first of which is the discussion over whether this will be competition with Twitch T.V.  It's possible I suppose, but I don't see it unless both Blizzard and Facebook not only incorporate a full interface so people can interact with those streaming, but so that users can monetize their streams as well.   I can tell you from trying to set up a twitch stream once or twice, that it involves third party software and playing around an looking up different settings.  At the end of the day I decided it wasn't worth the hassle.  I'm not divorced from the idea of doing some sort of streaming someday, but I'm not going to be doing it with Twitch, or my current set up, or both.  Youtube still interests me....

     I am not sure Blizzard intends this to be a competitor to Twitch.  I think i'ts more likely it is going to be along the same lines of the Twitter service.  Something in the Wow interface that a player can turn on, or off that will do a small stream in the same manner of the "Live" feature that Facebook just added.  Not something for money, but something for the casual gamer to say he, look friends at what I'm doing with a simple click/option in the interface.

     Either way this is brilliant on Blizzard's part.  Think about all the people who are on Facebook stopping to watch for a few moments while their friends are playing the game.  This will put game play in front of millions of peoples eyes and bring attention to Azeroth.  Folks will see what the game looks like, and more over, they will see people enjoying playing the game.  Let's be honest, you aren't going to stream to Facebook just to show off your Talbuck hooves gathering skills.

     Or maybe people would.  That might be a drawback to this.  A casual observer might click on his friends stream and see how beautiful our World of Warcraft looks.  They might watch and enjoy the scenery as their friend walks around killing monsters and gathering items.  Then it might occur to them, "This world is cool looking, but Tommy here has spent the last fifteen minutes killing ghosts for essences?"  That might be a little strange to some people.

     I'm also curious about voice over.  If I record/stream myself playing I am going to want to be able to do an audio track people can listen to.  (I've been debating doing this with my blog) Am I going to have to use Blizzard's internal voice chat/program.  I know it's gotten better with Overwatch and the new focus on team game play, but I still remember Blizzard announcing in game voice chat, and how well that worked.  If they do this, I'm going to want a plug in for Ventrillo, Mumble, and whatever else voice program I might want to use.  Either that, or I will need to see some good proving of their voice integration.

    What do you all think of this?  What are your hopes and dreams tied into Facebook integration in World of Warcraft?  Is this something you will use?  Do you care about this?  Are you worried for any reason?  Feel free to drop an opinion.

    I also recommend listening to the last "The Blue Recluse," and or "Convert to Raid" podcasts.  Both discuss this a bit as mentioned above.