Another update post plus random musings!

So, the summer semester is finally over, which means I have roughly a week or so of free time (or I did, when I first started writing this).  Hence, more time to get some writing done, which I once again failed to do regularly!  I’m truly the best!

But I do have some updates, and also some musings.  Shocking, I know, given the title.  Most of them aren’t going to be enough to fill a whole blog post, so I’ll just condense them all into one!  Efficiency!

It’s still going to be absurdly long, but when is it not?

Under new management

So, I mentioned before that my guild was basically dead again, and I was trying to determine what to do next.  Well, I can actually conclude that story and also ramble a bit along the way.

For those who are just joining us, my guild was all but dead and had been for weeks/months.  The GM hadn’t been on in three months and the automatic guild dethrone was activated.  Unfortunately, since I was in rank 4 and since the auto-dethrone can only be used by ranks 3 and up, I couldn’t make use of it.  Thus, I was planning on contacting customer service to see if I could get guild leadership reassigned to me manually.

After explaining my situation and why I couldn’t use the dethrone system the first time, CS told me that everyone was inactive except for one person who had logged in a couple weeks ago, so I should talk to them.  This didn’t really answer my question because I wasn’t sure when he’d ever get back on, nor how to contact him outside of the game anyway.  So I replied and told them this, asking if they had any sort of backup plans if the auto-dethrone wasn’t applicable.

The second CS rep just pointed me to the dethrone knowledge base article, which didn’t help me because it didn’t really apply to my situation.  It also implied that the second rep hadn’t even read my ticket in the first place.  I replied again, elaborated on exactly what the problem was, and asked what could be done.

The third rep out and out said “we don’t handle guild leadership issues anymore because of the auto-dethrone feature, and if the GM set up extraneous ranks to keep average members from gaining control, it’s his prerogative.  deal with it.”  I’m paraphrasing, but that was the tone.  They then said that if I opened another ticket regarding guild leadership, they would not be replying to it, claiming that I was wasting their time when they’d had to say no three times now.

Now, to be fair, the only reason I had to reopen the ticket twice was because their answers had never really been entirely clear.  The first reply made me think that there was some sort of cutoff that, once everyone in the top three ranks had been inactive for that length of time, CS could then help me.  When I asked for clarification, the second CS rep seemed not to have even read my ticket at all.  When I asked for clarification again, the third rep ended up a bit hostile in tone but still didn’t really answer my followup question, which was “what if they never come back and I can’t figure out how to get in touch?”  I reopened the ticket a third time to ask, and true to what they’d said, they deleted my ticket and marked it as answered again.  So I was shit outta luck there.

Side-rant:  why doesn’t Blizz have any sort of backup plans for when their various automated systems don’t work?  In my situation, everyone in the officers’ ranks had been gone for three months or so, with the exception of one who’d logged in a couple weeks prior to my initial ticket.  If I had had no way of getting in touch with them, then judging from my responses from CS, I wouldn’t have had an option.  I find it somewhat stupid that, thanks to these automated systems, Blizzard is basically saying that a GM gets to do whatever he wants with his guild, and if you don’t like it, there’s nothing you can do but leave.

Same thing happened in my old guild, when the GM drained the guild bank and hopped servers, but left an alt in charge of the guild (and also in charge of draining the cash flow every week).  By logging in every week, he reset the clock on the auto-dethrone, making it impossible for us to ever wrest control of the guild back from him.  Of course, given the auto-dethrone’s THREE MONTH timer, he could have logged in once every couple of months and still maintained control.  And as I learned with this debacle, if you want to be assured of never having your guild taken away from you, even if you leave the game for good, just put three ranks in between the GM spot and everyone you don’t want to have the guild (which can just be some of your alts if you’re feeling miserly) and watch as CS never gives it away!

I think it’s just dumb of CS to simply rely on the automated systems they’ve created for every single case they apply to, because, as I’ve shown, it’s stupidly easy to foil them.  A bad GM can maintain a death grip on the guild indefinitely, even if they’ve long since left the guild, the server, or the game itself.  One possibility is a broadening of the automated service to everyone in the guild if it’s been particularly long since the GM went inactive.  I still think the three-month rule is much too long, but if we were using it as a precedent, then double the time (six months) would probably be good enough.  Still plenty of time for an officer to step in and take over, but not so long as to be impossible for a regular player to never see it.  Guilds die all the time, and it’s a shame that so many have to lie derelict just because CS won’t do anything about the situation.

Back to the story.  At that point, I could have given up, but I didn’t really want to see the guild slip out of my hands and just completely fade away.  Since CS wasn’t going to help me, I had to find some way of getting in touch with the GM or the officers (consisting of one of his friends and his wife).  I wondered if our old forums were still up, and sure enough they were.  I figured it was worth a shot, so I created a topic and just asked if I could get guild leadership handed off to myself, considering nobody else had been on in a couple weeks, more frequently a month or more.  I added that I only really intended on using it for friends, to share the perks of an already-leveled guild with them.

Nothing came of it for a while, so I shrugged and continued what I was doing, alone in my abandoned guild.  That’s probably where the story would have ended, except for a few weeks ago.

Apparently, the GM did finally see the topic and decided it was only fair to pass it on.  That evening, I found all my characters in the first rank of the guild, and later he logged on again and upgraded me to GM.  There were some other things that he talked about that I won’t get into, but suffice it to say that I understand why he did the things he did.  He said that he was tired of WoW and he just couldn’t see himself coming back to it, and that if anyone deserved to keep the guild, I did.

I wish him all the best in whatever he decides to play next; we discussed EverQuest Next and decided that’d be fun to check out together when it arrives.  He’s not too enthused about the Wildstar payment model, nor am I, and he’s also not entirely sure about the game itself.  What happens happens, of course.

So, happy ending!

Legendary shenanigans

I actually get to talk about three legendaries here, as well as something that a lot of people would consider legendary!

First up, I’m all caught up on the questline!  I finished my epic cloak two weeks ago (at the time I started this writing, I was four Titan Runestones away, so you can see how long it takes me to write this shit) and was very happy to have done so.  The 5.3 questline was a fair challenge as enhance; a lot of it boils down to luck, I’d say.  You have to burn Wrathion down as quickly as possible while hoping he doesn’t use too many difficult abilities in succession.  The attempt I got him down, I managed to avoid his duplicate stage through luck, which is by far the hardest of his attacks, especially since we don’t have any spammable AOE.

Side commentary:  I really have been enjoying the legendary line this expansion, especially since it’s the first I actually get to participate in.  I might try and run it again on my mage just to see how quickly it can be done in 5.4 if you start from scratch.  I don’t think that its availability through LFR is necessarily a bad thing; if you put in the work through heroic raiding, you should have much more to show off than just an orange item (meta achievement mounts (though that’s being separated from heroic raiding next patch, thank god), heroic items, special titles, feats of strength).  I just hope this doesn’t mean that Blizzard will make another category of items in the next expansion so that heroic raiders can still feel special now that eeeeeveryone has a legendary.  Except not everyone has or will have a legendary because you do have to invest a lot of time into it but WHATEVER FUCK LOGIC

I also finally have my 4-set, including a tier helm so I could use my legendary meta-gem!  I was so happy to get the gem a couple months ago, only to find that because I was still wearing a 483 helm, I couldn’t slot it in.  But now I have it so woohoo.  The 4-set is really nice, I gotta say; on average, I’d say that I can use wolves once a minute now, which is a pretty sweet deal.

Second, I’m now squarely in the second phase of collection for my very own Dragonwrath!  Three full clears on heroic (along with a botched attempt to do a clear on 25 heroic) has netted me about 650 Seething Cinders, so I’m about two or three weeks from finishing that stage as well.  I know it’s somewhat ironic that an enhancement shaman is trying to complete a caster legendary, but eh, it’s an orange I can use, so why not go for it?  Didn’t stop me from getting Sulfuras (even if that was an enhance legendary back in ye olden Classic days), nor did it stop me from getting…

Val’anyr!

Yep, after three long years, my Val’anyr is finally complete.  No longer must I have fragments gathering dust in my bank, waiting to be reassembled and reforged.  Instead, I get a legendary mace for a spec I’ve never played, that’s completely irrelevant post-Wrath, and that will also gather dust in my bank until legendaries are allowed for transmog!  Hooray!

Nah but seriously, I was so incredibly happy to have that finally finished.  I got my first fragments at the tail end of Wrath, and I never bothered to create pugs to finish it during Cata, only deciding to work on it during Mists when it could be easily 10- to 15-manned.  On a side note, I still find it hilarious that even though Ulduar comes up as one of almost everybody’s favorite raids, it is so damn hard to find people to go run the place.  You’d think that for a raid people constantly drool over and hold up as one of WoW’s finest, people would be lining up for miles to get a peek.  Maybe everyone’s just really tired of Flame Leviathan.

And in final big update news, I managed to obtain something that isn’t legendary in quality, but almost should be.  The Ashes of Al’ar.

At long last, the phoenix mount was mine.  I mean yeah, it’s not quite as rare as it used to be, especially since TK can now be fairly easily soloed by any class and can be entered without a raid group and mounts are account-wide so you only need to get it once, but still, I was so ecstatic to get that damn flaming burd.  There are other dungeon and raid mounts to go back and work on, but one thing at a time.  Still have to get the Raven Lord, the Swift White Hawkstrider, the Blue Proto-Drake, the stone drake and the air drake from those two Cata dungeons…ugh, the griiiiiind.  Such is life in Azeroth.

On the in-game store

I had a longer post written out for this, but most of what I was going to say was kinda said better by others long ago, and since the announcement has come and gone and the world hasn’t ended, it’s not quite as urgent to get it out there.  But, I did want to at least get something up about it!

The initial uproar over the transmog helms update was quite similar to that raised over the addition of the sparklepony (ahem, I mean Celestial Steed) back in 2010.  Namely, something along the lines of “now that Blizz is selling X, they’re going to sell Y soon, mark my words!”  Slippery was that slope.

Basically, Blizzard decided that selling transmog gear was a good idea and they did it.  For $15 you can buy one of three helms stylized to look vaguely BC-, Wrath-, and Cata-themed (the helms reminiscent of an Illidari follower, the Lich King, and Ragnaros).  The helms were part of the new Cosmetic category of armor, meaning it can be used to transmogrify over any armor type, thus avoiding issues like the Straw Hat or the Shado-Pan Helmet where they had to make a version for each armor class.  They were also BoA, so you could buy it once and use it on all your characters.

Now, I’m not going to imply that these aren’t ludicrously overpriced, because they are.  I’ve been of the opinion for a while now that the Blizzard Store (can’t really call it a Pet Store anymore) items are much too highly priced, especially since their account-wide status is no longer nearly as valuable as it was before Mists.  A mount or a pet that all of your characters got a copy of was seen as a selling point before, but now that you can get any pet or (almost) any mount on all your characters by default, how is $10 for a pet or $25(!) for a mount justifiable?  Beyond the obvious “because people will pay for it,” of course.

However, it’s somewhat silly (and dare I say conspiratorial) to think that Blizzard is intentionally designing raid gear to look awful so that you’ll pay them money for better-looking armor.  That’s the beauty of transmogrification:  you have literally the entire game’s history to plumb for your own personalized look.  A cursory search of Wowhead’s database gives over 30,000 armor pieces that can be transmogrified, and over 6,000 weapons of all varieties.  Of all of these, three are sold in the in-game store.  The vast majority of transmoggable gear is available to you if you put in the effort to obtain it, and honestly, a lot of it looks much better than the transmog helms.

Should these be available in-game?  I think so, yes.  At the very least, it would diminish claims of “pay-to-win” when applied to transmog.  I mean really?  What does that even mean?  How do you “win” fashion?  At any rate, Blizzard’s always looking for good gold sinks, right?  Why not let players spend gold for in-game items instead of just requiring cash?  It would have to be high enough to both make a good sink and also keep the prices they charge justifiable (which would be easier if they were lower, just saying), but not so high as to be seen as impossible to attain without becoming an AH baron.  I’m glad I don’t walk that tightrope.

Most of the later brouhaha about the in-game store dealt with datamined experience boosts and lesser charms for sale for cash.  Despite Blizzard’s frequent insistence that these only applied to Asian realms (yet with a “for now” addendum), players were in an uproar over them.  Cries of “pay-to-win!” were heard across the internet.

Briefly, I’d like to discuss the nature of pay-to-win and what it really means.  Pay-to-win is basically what it says on the tin:  a game charges money for features that enable those that pay for them to have a distinct, quantifiable advantage over those who don’t.  A general rule of thumb is that, if two players face each other head-to-head and one has paid for these advantages, they will be more likely to win than the one who didn’t.  The term is often thrown around without players necessarily understanding what the term implies.  A game with a cash shop is not necessarily pay-to-win, nor is a cash shop that sells boosts necessarily pay-to-win.

In this case, both these boosts are more correctly termed “pay-to-skip,” in which players who pay will have a lower time investment required to reach a goal than those who don’t.  Some games are designed around this principle; many Asian F2P MMOs operate off of the dynamic of making leveling an incredibly grindy task, and then conveniently selling boosts to lessen the grind.  These can also end up being pay-to-win as well, by selling better gear than is available in-game to those willing to pay.  WoW, conversely, is nowhere near as much of a grind to max level.  It’s still a good deal of work, but it’s nowhere near as bad as other MMOs have been.  Some players just want to get to endgame faster; these are people who have RaF’d themselves to get a quick boost to 80 (lord knows I have), or who have spent more time farming the rare that drops the XP potion than they probably will end up saving by using it.  How many heirlooms have you bought?

If memory serves, the Timeless Isle will offer as one of its rewards a similar (or perhaps better, I forget) potion for those who do enough exploring.  So even if these potions made their way to the West, there would still be in-game equivalents that can be farmed up.

There was a tenuous connection to pay-to-win when the charms were brought up.  The argument was, “by spending money on 50 charms for a week and then converting them to Mogu Runes of Fate, you get extra shots at loot, so that’s pay-to-win.”  Again, paying money for charms is merely paying to skip the grind, which isn’t even that hard!  A day’s worth of IoT dailies and completing your Barrens weekly is practically guaranteed to get you 50 charms.  Paying to skip that is honestly somewhat silly, but for those in the East who play by the hour rather than by the month, it’d be a convenience worth the cost.

Feel free to quote me on this:  Blizzard will NEVER sell actual power-increasing items/services through their in-game store.  No, experience boosts do not increase your character’s power.  They just get you to max level faster.  No, paying for lesser charms does not increase your character’s power.  The argument that buying charms allows someone to “buy gear” is just so dumb I can’t even begin to understand the logic jumps.  My only reply:  How many times have you done a bonus roll only to get gold?  How does that mean that indirectly buying them will allow someone to get gear faster?  And again, buying lesser charms would only mean you were skipping a week’s grind, not purchasing something that other players can’t get.  I would have a problem if Blizz were selling Mogu Runes or Elder Charms or whatever the fuck we have next patch directly through the store, allowing one to pay for bonus rolls over their weekly limit, but that’s not happening.

I’m fairly sure that Blizzard realizes the importance of steering clear of pay-to-win, and it’s something that’s been brought up in developer interviews recently, with an emphatic “we will not go that route” from the higher-ups.  It would cause more harm than good to the game, and that’s plain as day to see.  There would be an initial surge of cash as players with the money would spend a lot on power increases, but that would be negated swiftly by a wave of cancelled subscriptions in outrage.  I would very likely be one of them.

One final thought:  what if WoW went free-to-play?  Would they go the pay-to-win route then?  It’s not like they’d be losing subscription revenue through protesting players.  Even so, I have faith (look at this asshole, having faith, what kind of idiot) that Blizzard would not tread that path, for the simple reason that they have many, MANY examples in the MMO genre of what bad things happen when you make your game P2W.  P2W does more harm than good, and that’s the simple truth.

The cash shop items as they stand now, however, are not P2W.  Stop claiming otherwise.

Guild perks

I’ve done some thinking about guild perks lately, what’s been done to them in the past, and what might (or should) be done with them in the future.

Guild perks are a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, they encourage players to stick with a guild even when times aren’t great; on the other, they discourage players from joining startup guilds in favor of established guilds that have already ground out most or all of the perks.  In a way, they can help deter guild poaching, as a player might not want to put in the effort to grind out guild rep again just to regain access to perks they had before.  Then again, with guild rep being easier to obtain than ever, with no daily cap, that system is less of a burden now.

When guild perks were first introduced in Cataclysm, here is what a player in a level 25 guild could enjoy:

  • 10% increased experience and reputation
  • 10% increased honor and justice points
  • 20% less durability loss on death
  • 10% faster mounted movement speed
  • for all gold looted, an extra 10% created and deposited directly into the guild bank
  • 15 minute hearthstone cooldown reduction
  • summonable guild bank
  • 10% increased chance to level tradeskills
  • 50% extra health and mana when rezzed by a guild member, 100% faster movement speed while dead
  • instant mail between guild members
  • 15% more materials from mining, skinning, herbalism, and disenchanting
  • 10% vendor cost reduction
  • mass resurrection
  • 100% duration increase from guild cauldrons and feasts
  • 50% more flasks from cauldrons
  • mass summons

Makes for quite a large difference compared to a player not in a fully-leveled guild, huh?  Sure, each perk in and of itself isn’t a very major boost, but taken as a whole, quite significant.  This is in addition to additional heirloom pieces that could only be obtained through guild leveling (some more added in through achievements later), recipes for the greatest feasts in the game, alchemy formulas for guild flask cauldrons, pets, mounts, and an assortment of other odds and ends that, when totaled, made for quite the difference between players in and players outside of a maxed-out guild.

Now, Blizzard had some problems with some of the guild perks, or they wouldn’t have been changed!  Specifically, the last three on that list earlier.  Let’s go through each one by one and try to determine why they were removed.

For the first, Chug-A-Lug, I imagine it was removed for a separate reason for each part.  For feasts, I believe it was due to Blizzard’s decision not to have feasts be bind-on-pickup anymore, as they were in Cata.  This meant that if a player in your guild was placing a feast, it was a feast that they had created from a recipe that your guild had grinded out.  Thus, you couldn’t just buy a good feast off the AH and put it out for double duration for your guildmates; you had to put in the work to unlock it and make it.  The one problem with this system was that it killed the cooking market.  The Seafood Magnifique Feast gave the best boosts in the game, personalized for every spec, and with the perk it lasted twice as long; assuming your group didn’t wipe, you could have two hours of the greatest food buff.  Why buy any other food when you could just have someone in your guild provide feasts?

Removing the BoP nature of feasts allowed players to sell these on the AH again, but this did not work with the guild perk.  The guild perk was supposed to reward you for creating feasts for your guild to use; without any way to know who made the feasts (as cooked food doesn’t have a <Made by x> tag on it), how could the perk work properly?  One solution would have been to just let the perk continue to apply to every feast, but apparently that wasn’t what Blizzard wanted to do for some reason, so it was scrapped.

The second part, guild flasks, is a bit more difficult to puzzle out the removal of, especially when combined with the second of the three removed perks, Happy Hour.  For those who don’t remember, there were two cauldron recipes unlocked through guild achievements for making flasks, marking the first time since BC that flask cauldrons appeared in the game.  These cauldrons, the Cauldron of Battle and the aptly named Big Cauldron of Battle, allowed raiders to obtain a flask that would give a spec-appropriate flask buff.  The main benefit of the cauldrons was that getting a full raid group their flasks would be considerably cheaper, especially if Happy Hour had been unlocked already.  The regular cauldron held ten flasks when that perk had been unlocked, with the big one holding twenty-five.  Since the regular cauldron only required four flasks and eight Deathblood Venom (simple potion to create) and the big cauldron required twelve flasks in total, it approximately halved the flask requirements for your raid.

In case you haven’t been following along this expansion, flask cauldrons did not make a reappearance in Mists, for reasons unknown.  The best answer I can give you (with the warning that it is merely a guess) is that flask cauldrons were removed for economic reasons too.  Think about it like this.  The achievements for the cauldron recipes required 1000 and 3000 flasks created for small and big respectively.  Assuming a guild created equal amounts of each, by the time they’d finished creating enough flasks, they’d have enough to create 250 cauldrons (regardless of size).  With the rank 2 Chug-A-Lug, this would produce 500 hours of flask buffs for a raid.  Supposing that an average raid guild raided 10 hours a week, by the time the guild had created enough flasks to get the cauldrons in the first place, they would be covered for almost a year afterwards.  Imagine not needing to buy flasks or farm herbs for a year!  Imagine being an alchemist and finding your flasks aren’t selling as much as they should!

I could be misremembering, but I seem to recall that flasks did get fairly cheap as the expansion went on, perhaps as a result of this.  Maybe Blizzard felt that the cauldrons were too big of a buff for established guilds, so much so that it drove a wedge between the already-successful guilds and the newcomers down the line, and that’s also why they removed them.  I can’t say for sure!

Neither of these puzzle me more than the removal of the third perk, Have Group, Will Travel.  To this day, I’ve yet to hear a reasonable argument for why this insanely useful perk was removed.  Let’s go over some of these and debunk them, shall we?

“It gets players out in the world”

This seems to be the big reason that Blizzard came up with, and one that’s so nonsensical I can’t help but wonder if they even remember features that they themselves put into the game years ago.

With this argument, Blizzard said that with the removal of a convenient way to summon your entire raid group all at once, players would be forced to leave their home cities and fly their way to raid instances, taking in the sights and sounds of Pandaria all the way.  It all seems to be part of some utopian vision of Blizzard’s where players will go out and savor every last second of their time playing WoW, where they’ll stop and smell the roses even if their whole raid group’s waiting for them and it’s already half an hour past the usual start time and jesus if you’re late one more time I swear to god I’m going to pull you from the group and slot in the keyboard-turning huntard who does one-tenth your DPS but AT LEAST HE’S ALWAYS ON TIME

…ahem

The thing is, traveling through the world isn’t content.  It’s what you have to get through to get to content.  (I had the Peggle addon installed for a while in my early days of playing the game because travel was SO DAMN BORING and took SO DAMN LONG.)  I’ll admit, Pandaria has WoW looking better than she has in years, and I can’t think of a single zone that I don’t absolutely love the look of (southern Kun-Lai, maybe?  mountains are beautiful though).  Even so, I really, REALLY dislike having to fly for a good couple minutes or so just to get to the raid entrance.  ToT is even worse (or would be if I was still raiding now, hahaaaaaa), as there’s a couple minutes of flying, followed by a couple more minutes of riding since you can’t fly on the Isle of Thunder.  At least SoO will be accessible through a short jog south/north of the shrines, but still.

Not only that, but we’ve had these things called summoning stones for most of the game’s lifespan.  So you don’t even need your whole raid group to fly out to the portal; all you need is two people who are willing to put up with the flight, and they can summon the rest, one-by-one.  Even worse, if you have a warlock you can summon people directly to the raid, if you have two more that go with them.

So basically, by removing Have Group, Will Travel, you’ve made it so that, instead of just one person needing to make the trek, two or three do.  The remaining eight/twenty-three can hang around in the shrine until they’re summoned.  Way to go getting people out in the world, Blizzard!

Here’s a protip for you guys:  If you put meaningful and fun content in the world, people WILL leave the cities and go do it.  Removing convenience to try and force people to doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

“If you need to summon people, use a stone/warlock”

This works only in situations where you have a group of at least three people.  In that case, yes, you could have two people fly to the summoning stone nearest your intended destination, use the stone to grab the third, then fly to wherever you intended to go.

But what if you’ve only got one person you need to summon, and you’ve got no friends to help?  You could do a /who and ask randoms to join your group and help, but good luck finding people in Netherstorm or Shadowmoon Valley, for example.  Doubly so for people willing to drop what they’re doing and help.

And a warlock is even worse.  Once again, you’d have to have the warlock and two others go somewhere just to summon a fourth.  At that rate, might as well just have everyone travel there the long way!

On top of that, where you need to go might not have a summoning stone close by, so you may still need a lengthy jaunt after the summons.  So a long travel time to an out-of-the-way summoning stone, followed by a long travel time to get where you were intending on going in the first place.  WOW THIS IS THE BEST, EXCUSE ME WHILE I STAB A FORK IN MY EYEBALL

Once again, traveling =/= content.  If you want people to sightsee, make pretty locations for them to do that, and then LET THEM DO THAT.  People will do that; they DO do that!  Don’t force people to spend a long time traveling through it when all they want to do is play the damn game that they’re shelling fifteen bucks a month for.

“It was necessary in Cata, but in Mists everything’s so much closer together so who needs it”

Let’s debunk this one with some simple timing.

I’m going to fly on my 310% mount (phoenix!) in a beeline following the quickest path to each raid instance.  I’ll list the paths here and how long it took me to fly there, measured from time from first mounting to arrival at the raid portal.

Cataclysm

  • Blackwing Descent (Orgrimmar -> portal to Twilight Highlands -> fly southwest to BWD):  3 minutes 54 seconds
  • Bastion of Twilight (Orgrimmar -> portal to Twilight Highlands -> fly southwest to BoT):  1 minute 44 seconds
  • Throne of the Four Winds (Orgrimmar -> portal to Uldum -> fly south to TotFW):  1 minute 40 seconds
  • Firelands (Orgrimmar -> portal to Hyjal -> fly south to FL):  1 minute 28 seconds
  • Firelands direct (Orgrimmar -> fly north to FL):  1 minute 41 seconds
  • Dragon Soul (Orgrimmar -> portal to Uldum -> fly east to CoT -> fly down curvy tunnel to DS):  3 minutes 18 seconds
  • Dragon Soul faster (Dalaran -> portal to CoT -> fly down curvy tunnel to DS):  1 minute 8 seconds

Full disclosure:  I measured the BoT one in reverse on the way back from BWD so I didn’t have to blow my hearth so frequently.  Same with the FL direct on the way back from the first FL one.

Mists of Pandaria

  • Mogu’shan Vaults (Shrine -> fly north to MSV):  1 minute 26 seconds
  • Heart of Fear (Shrine -> fly west to HoF):  1 minute 53 seconds
  • Terrace of Endless Spring (Shrine -> fly east to ToES):  45 seconds
  • Throne of Thunder (Shrine -> fly west to Shado-Pan Garrison -> portal to IoT -> ride to ToT):  3 minutes 30 seconds
  • Siege of Orgrimmar (projected) (Shrine -> fly south to SoO):  30 seconds (approximately)

Average time for Cata raids amongst shortest options:  1 minute 59 seconds

Average time for Mists raids amongst shortest options:  1 minute 37 seconds

So yes, on average you can get to Mists raids faster than you can Cata raids.  But not by much.  The shortest travel times to Mists raids are much shorter than the shortest Cata travel times, but Cata is more consistently close to the 1.5-2 minute mark.  Interestingly, the trip to ToT is almost as long as the trip from Org to BWD.

So what can we conclude?  While the time to get to each raid is indeed shorter overall in Pandaria, it was never very long to begin with in Cata.  BWD and ToT are the outliers in these two expansions, and DS is also fairly far if you were one of the sillies who forgot about the portal to CoT in Dalaran.  Still, it only takes a couple of minutes to get from an expansion-relevant city to an expansion-relevant raid regardless, so if it was fine to have HGWT in Cata, why remove it for Mists?

“It makes the world feel larger”

Wha?  I’m sorry, I’m very confused here.

I’m not going to lie, I did love to explore Pandaria on foot.  When you’re closer to the ground level and traveling slower, you get a sense that the world is massive, which it is!  I don’t know the specifics, but Pandaria is probably close in size to Northrend, maybe a bit smaller.  With all the nooks and crannies built into the continent, rare items to find, and rare mobs to kill, it’s got enough content to keep explorers happy for weeks and months (hell, years even).  When you learn to fly again, the world feels smaller because you’re farther away from it and moving faster through it.  You can make a beeline to any location you need to reach without having to ride around terrain.

But summoning, apparently, makes the world feel smaller, not flight.

If that is the case, why not remove summoning stones and lock portals?  They’re just making the world feel small, and we can’t have that!

As I said before, if you design a big world, there will be people who will go out and soak it up and savor it.  But there are also a lot of people who just want to log on, raid, and log off again.  Trying to force the latter to act more like the former isn’t really going to work.  I know it sucks, but some people really just want to beat up internet dragons and not care about the where or the why.  I’m more like the former, but I’m not going to try to force everyone to act like that.  Hell, the biggest thing I try to do in WoW is make sure I’m not wasting people’s time.

This really just seems like a silly excuse to me.  The world didn’t feel smaller with HGWT, flight made it feel smaller, teleports to the relevant Cata zones made it feel smaller (but we couldn’t have lived without them, can you imagine).  Just being able to summon someone wherever you were did not have any affect on how large the world felt, especially for long-term players who’d already seen the world.  Eventually, the big mysterious world doesn’t feel big or mysterious anymore.  That’s just a natural consequence of the game, and not one that should have been used as an excuse to axe the best guild perk.

Here’s a simple thought experiment.  Does fast travel make the world feel smaller in a game that features it, or does it let the player get to the meat of the game faster without needing to spend downtime traveling in the overworld to reach it?  HGWT was much like fast travel, and I would say that it added more to the game than it took away.

“It just made people lazy”

This’ll be the last one I cover, along with a related “but with HGWT in the game, nobody used summoning stones!” and “it’s more immersive to use stones!”

Look, there will ALWAYS be That Guy in your raid team.  You know, the guy who dawdles around in the city checking on auctions or making trips to the bank or what have you.  The guy who always shows up late even if he was online before the scheduled raid time.  That guy who asks for a summons even though he’s the one who’s made you wait all this time but dammit it’s just even more of a waste to make him fly there so lock make a portal let’s go.

Lazy people exist, there’s no way around it.  However, with HGWT, anyone in your raid team could counter the laziness by swiftly bringing the guy halfway around the world without a need for a stone or a warlock.  And if there were multiples, one button press would nab all of them.  If some of them missed it, another raid member could cover for them.  Raid leader needs to head back to the city to get a pug?  Once he’s got them, press a button and everyone’s in the raid and ready, no time wasted!

HGWT didn’t make people lazy.  Lazy people were already there, and they’re still there.  It’s just that now, if you have multiple stragglers, you get to select them, click a stone/warlock portal, wait for someone else to click the portal, finish the channel, select another, click a stone/warlock portal, etc. etc.  I’ve never got a feeling of immersion from using a summoning stone to manually summon five or ten or twenty people to the raid.  I wouldn’t have minded never using a stone again as long as I could’ve kept HGWT.

But no, because of nebulous, nonsensical reasons, HGWT was removed.

So what did we get instead of these fairly nice guild perks?

  • Chug-A-Lug rank 1 replaced with The Doctor Is In, 25% increased healing from bandages
  • Chug-A-Lug rank 2 replaced with Working Overtime rank 2, 20% increased chance to level tradeskills
  • Happy Hour replaced with For Great Justice rank 2, 20% more justice points
  • Have Group, Will Travel replaced with Ride Like the Wind, 25% faster flight path travel speed

…wooooooow, these really make me want to level my guild more

I mean seriously?  Who the hell uses bandages?  Who ACTUALLY uses tradeskill recipes that are yellow or green to level outside of a couple rare outlying cases for the economically-inclined?  Why did they think that a boost to flight path speed would make up for the loss of one of the best utility spells ever?  The slight boost to JP is nice, but since they’ve been fairly useless all expansion (until 5.4 anyway), it’s kind of a wash.

Oh, and let’s not forget the nerf to The Quick and the Dead.  In its original incarnation listed above, the perk increased speed while dead by 100%, making a return to your death site a non-issue.  This was especially useful for such situations as attempting raids on Stormwind; the long trek back from the graveyard was not quite so painful when it took half the time.  It also proved useful in getting back to your body quickly to continue zerging world bosses, which apparently Blizzard didn’t like.  The perk was hotfixed the second week of Mists to only boost speed while dead by 10%.

I can somewhat understand the reasoning, that with QatD death became a total non-issue.  But WoW was basically created with death as a non-issue, a slight stumbling block and not a figurative death sentence for your character.  WoW didn’t have XP or item loss on death like most other MMOs of its time; you just walked back to your body from a graveyard and rezzed, no harm done (apart from your equipment breaking some).  Why would it matter that it was even less of an issue because you could sprint back to your body even more quickly?

I can’t say for sure I know everything that goes on out in Irvine, but I think that Blizzard would probably rather do away with guild perks entirely at this point.  Unfortunately, the playerbase has grown accustomed to them so much it may be hard to remove them at all.  We reacted with vitriol at the removal of HGWT and the figurative removal of QatD.  Imagine the outcry if every perk was suddenly removed.

Besieged by a new patch

Well, 5.4 is only a couple of weeks away (probably), so now’s the time to get prepared.  What am I looking forward to?

Class-wise, enhance is apparently getting a little bit of a nerf to SS and Healing Storm/Healing Rain, which does suck, but that seems to pretty much be it.  I-is this what it’s like to be nerfed after being too strong?  I don’t like it!  Why can’t I go back to the days when I was always terrible so I knew it couldn’t get worse?!

haha can’t type that with a straight face

Nah, it won’t be too bad.  I’ve never worried about topping meters anyway, so eh.  I covered the talent and glyph changes last post, and I’m definitely looking forward to snagging a couple of those new shaman minors.  Shame it took FOUR PATCHES to get more than one or two nice minor glyphs.  Jeez.

I’m definitely looking forward to offing Garrosh; the 5.4 trailer got me super hyped to smash his face in.  Overall the siege looks to be a fantastic way to end the expansion.  I’m still mildly confused about the flow of the raid from looking at the various maps.  Immerseus is underground, but then we go back above ground to fight the Fallen Protectors, then go back under for Norushen and the Sha of Pride, then poof over to Org where it’s mostly linear until you get past the Spoils and then shit gets confusing again.  I guess it’ll make more sense once I run it.

Flexible raiding is probably one of the big things I’m looking forward to.  Considering I’ve only had LFR for my raid fix since about January, taking breaks when I couldn’t really get upgrades from it anymore, I’m looking forward to a more organized form of raiding, but also one that doesn’t necessarily require me to commit to a schedule, something I’m still not ready to do again (and may not do again for a long time).  I’m also happy that the meta mount will be available through flex, as well as the shaman cosmetic set (eeeeee a new wolf helm) and the heirlooms off of Garrosh.  Considering I’m on a fairly busy server, there’ll probably be plenty of pugs for flex; given my current ilvl of 515 and my epic cloak, it shouldn’t be hard to get into them!  Can’t wait to see how that works out.

I’m also anticipating that I’ll be spending a lot of time (no pun intended) on the Timeless Isle.  I didn’t play much GW2 during the beta, but I did like the idea of the dynamic events it listed as a major selling point (and yes, I’m aware that things of this type have been done in other MMOs like Rift and even Warhammer Online).  Its execution was…eh, not really hypeworthy, with most events just involving zerging whatever popped up with a massive group of other players in the area.  From what I’ve heard, the Timeless Isle will be a fun zone to dick around on (and also get some gear for my alts).  While I do believe that the daily quest still has a place in WoW, I do think that a larger variety of endgame PVE content is nothing but a good thing.  Maybe next expansion Blizzard can just not go so overboard on dailies, though I fear they might go too far the other way and give us none again.  I don’t hate dailies, Blizz!  I just hate having to do over a dozen for one faction to be rewarded with a comparatively middling amount of reputation, and then be forced to grind that reputation to a high level so I can access dailies for factions I actually want to do!

Everything else in the patch gives me varying degrees of excitement.  It’ll be nice to actually get into the Proving Grounds (jeez, can’t believe that was first mentioned early last year) and show I know my stuff.  While I’d like to do the Celestial Tournament, I’ve yet to level even one pet to 25, let alone the 15 or 25 (I don’t remember) you need to level to gain access.  The celestial pets are just too cute, though!  Connected realms will probably not affect me, considering I’m on a high pop realm already and it’s implied that connected realms are only going to be for merging a few low pops together.  The arena changes might entice me to actually compete in arenas for the first time (aside from a couple skirmishes my friend convinced me to do back when I started playing), all to snag a shiny new mount.

All in all, seems like the patch will be a truly worthy finisher for the expansion.

Is that all?

Yeah I think so.  We’re a week from the patch and I should probably put this up so that it doesn’t end up too out of date.  I’ll write about the item squish soon as well as other topics I’d like to touch on but haven’t had the time to devote much thought to yet.

Oh, and also a post on Dragon Con, even though it has absolutely nothing to do with WoW, except for the one Judgment paladin cosplayer I saw!
Until next time, everybody.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s