WoW Update 10/30/07


I’ll get to responding to people and what not within the next day or two, after I tend to guild administrative stuff, which I am also behind in lol. Last week was hectic: I had to evacuate my residence on Monday and Tuesday of last week because of the wildfire situation in Southern California. Everyone and everything is okay thankfully, but ugh…

I’ve been putting off the Halloween events and finally had a chance to do the Headless Horseman event (by do I mean farm) last night in Scarlet Monastery. Picked up a spell damage ring, a healing ring, and a neat looking pumpkin hat (will post screenshot later, I don’t have them at my work machine). Fashion > All.

My WoW playtime has been somewhat reduced as of late because Fall marks the start of game season. Game season means that I am distracted by the multitude of triple-A releases between October and Christmas. As a consequence, my 2.3 badge farming endeavor is going rather slowly. I want my legs and I want them the very second 2.3 goes live (whenever that is)!

So the Crysis demo: I had an eyegasm. You won’t find a more visually stunning game anywhere, it’s beautiful. Hell, it even looks great set at medium on a low ass resolution (WTB new video card). Everything is interactive including the trees and buildings and the AI is reasonably smart. I wasn’t really blown away by the storyline or the gameplay, but that’s an unfair evaluation given that it’s just a short demo.

Beyond the graphics and amusing myself with the physics engine, I am very interested in seeing how the plot, pacing, and gameplay size up to some of my old standbys (ultimately, I like well rounded games). Depending on how well executed those elements are, I smell a possible new contender for 2007 game of the year. I think I am going to need a new video card in order to enjoy the game properly.

Gaming Rant: Stop Boring Me

So I have this big problem: I buy games but don't finish them. My shelf is full of first person shooters, RPGs, strategy games and the like for multiple platforms, all collecting dust. This was just going to be a short blurb with a list of reasons why I never finish games, but it kind of turned into a long ass rant. I swear I'm not full of ire, I'm just bored…

Single player time-sinks are not fun anymore because I have no time to sink. I consider myself an average gamer demographic: working age adult in my twenties. That means that I have a couple of hours at most every night that I am willing to dedicate to a full screen game (as opposed to WoW, or another game where I am doing something else most of the time).

Long games need to have natural breaks built in. Usually breaks are down in the form of missions, levels, episodes and what not. Such episodes must be of reasonable length, no more than an hour or two. If I have to turn the game off to sleep or head out for an errand, I can't spend an additional half hour looking for a save point or a safe place to exit the game.

Games need better pacing. If at any point I am bored for more than an hour, there is a very high chance that I will turn the game off, set it down, and never pick it up ever again. Cut the filler crap: Artificial increases in difficulty in place of intelligent AI and design is not clever. I love a challenging game, but I don't like 30 hour long jumping puzzles, I don't like ammo starvation (if you give me a shotgun I want to use it), and I don't like final bosses so ungodly difficult that it forces you to farm for hours (I know what you all are thinking and fuck you, WoW is different). That's lazy and poor game design.

New game mechanics and devices are needed, I want innovation. Given our level of technology and the resources available to developers, I kind of expect more in terns of things like NPC interaction and play. I think that some of my malcontent towards most single player games stems from the rise in multiplayer games. Human beings, for good or bad add a completely new level of complexity to a game. As a result, computer characters often seem dry in contrast. After all, the depths of e-tards and e-drama are infinite, the depths of shitty AI are not.

I swear that the gaming industry is just as bad as the movie industry at times in terms of delivering pretty looking media with very little substance. Computer graphics by nature date themselves very fast. Take a look at some of the games that were your favorites 5 years ago. Replay them and see how many are still fun (Personally, I can probably name them on one hand. Deux Ex, Half-Life, and a few others). There's something to say though about developers who put extra attention into the art direction in a game, possibly at the expense of having a new cutting edge graphical engine. I admire that.

2.3 Itemization and additional changes

Drysc has confirmed that Precision now affects spell hit as well as melee hit, nice! Also, a new talent for retribution: “Fanaticism will now reduce threat caused by all actions by 6/12/18/24/30%, in addition to its current effect.” Nice change, on par with threat reduction for other DPS classes. I guess my only gripe is the fact that Fanaticism is a passive talent rather than an activated spell like Righteous Fury. It’s going to be much harder for ret specs to tank.

If you haven’t already, check out the new items available in 2.3 from Zul’Aman and the heroic vendor. Several of the new additions are specific to tankadins. I’ve listed the new plate tanking additions, but there are also several new capes, trinkets, rings, weapons and what not but I don’t have time to list them at the moment, have to get back to work.

Zul’Aman drops
Battleworn Tuskguard

Chestguard of the Warlord

Pauldrons of Stone Resolve

Jungle Stompers

Heroic badge rewards
Bonefist Gauntlets

Bracers of the Ancient Phalanx

Chestguard of the Stoic Guardian

Girdle of the Protector

Iron-tusk Girdle

Sabatons of the Righteous Defender

Unwavering Legguards

It’s major badge farming time. These are the current prices on the PTRs: Pants, chest and head are 75 badges. Shoulders, waist, feet and hands are 60 badges. Bracers are 35 badges.

Oblivion: Fighter’s Stronghold

I’ve written about Oblivion once or twice, so I suppose this bit of news is worth mentioning: There’s a new official Oblivion download available from the Bestheda site and it’s free until next Monday (the 22nd of October).

The Fighter’s Stronghold is a full castle for you to explore, hold your shit, hire servants, collect furniture, and otherwise live out your Elder Scrolls Sims fetish/fantasy. Features (full backstory and what not is detailed in the link provided above):

  • A fully detailed castle for you to explore
  • Knights of the True Horn patrol the castle and do your bidding
  • Secret treasure vault
  • Upgrade the furnishings in every area of the castle
  • Hire a vintner to create special wines to enhance your fighting abilities
  • Hire a combat trainer to spar with
  • Hire a taxidermist to craft lifelike trophies for your great hall
  • Purchase an ancient Dwemer Forge that buffs your Armorer skill

I am immediately attracted to anything like this for some reason. So if you still play Oblivion, it seems like a cool dig to plan world destruction from. If you’ve retired from Cyrodiil, it still looks interesting enough to pickup during server maintenance or when your ISP explodes. Did I mention that it’s free this week? I like free…

Game Review: Portal


I don’t think I’ve talked about Portal enough or how much I love it. Portal is a first person puzzle game/comedy based off of Narbacular Drop, a game created by students at the DigiPen Institute who were later hired by Valve to work on Portal. It’s not a traditional first person game; So if you dislike shooters, I still highly recommend picking it up for legitimate and refreshing fun.

I really expected it to be little more than a tech demo of the Portal gun, for the sake of introducing new gameplay and letting the modding community have at it. In fact, since the Portal mechanics and the puzzles are so damn fun and intuitive, I would have been happy with just a tech demo. Instead, I was very pleasantly surprised to find a self-contained immersive story with a compelling narrative.

Basically: You wake up in a futuristic sleeping chamber. Guided by a snarky computer voice, you are run through a series of “tests” with only a portal gun and the promise of moist cake. The gun shoots two portals that will attach to (almost) any surface and act as a gateway between each other.

The dialogue, written by the guys who did Old Man Murray (funny gaming website of early 00’s fame), is hilarious and just bizarre. It’s a pretty simple story that you just have to play because I can’t describe it very well without giving away the fun surprises. Oh, it also has the best ending song in the history of ending songs. Just, so satisfying.

If you don’t want to purchase all of the Orange Box (why not though? 5 games for $50 is a steal), Portal is available via Steam as a standalone download for $20. I guess my only con is that the game is fairly short at about 3 hours (give or take a half-hour) for a play-through. After completion, several additional modes unlock (not to mention the possibility of fun user created mods). WELL worth prying your fingers away from WoW for one of the best games of the year.

PS: For those who have beaten it, rumor is that the Valve online store will have Weighted Companion Cube toys (plushies??) in stock by this Christmas!

2.3 PTRs: Tankadin Notes

Site Note: Those who are only interested in reading the WoW related posts might want to use this URL to filter out all of the non-WoW related entries. October marks the beginning of gaming season with the Christmas purchasing season just around the corner (meaning that I might actually write about “other things”).

I won’t quote the patch notes because they are like, on every single WoW blog and site. I am really looking forward to the sub 60 experience increase (might start leveling my mage again) and Zul’Aman. I really thought that ZG was a fun and well done raid instance, both loot and design wise. Hoping that ZA is similar.

Threat: The old Improved Seal of the Crusader talent (15% increase to attack bonus and holy damage) is being integrated into the normal seal and the new Imp SotC will be the the current Sanctified Crusader talent. Additionally, the mana costs for Exorcism/Hammer of Wrath/Holy Wrath is being reduced, which is nice for Karazhan tanking since I spam Exorcism on certain bosses fairly often :P.

Mitigation: The Weapon Expertise talent is being replaced by Combat Expertise, which now increases Expertise by 1/2/3/4/5 AND total stamina by 2/4/6/8/10%! 10% MORE STAMINA IS AWESOME! I think that’s what, a 1k+ health buff for me? (Don’t feel like looking up my stats now).

A new stat rating called, “Expertise” is being added. According to the notes, “Expertise rating converts to expertise at the same rate that weapon skill rating formerly converted at. Each point of expertise reduces the chance for your attacks to be dodged or parried by 0.25%.” Less chance to be parried means less damage. Less chance for a mob to dodge means more threat. Intriguing.

Pets will now attempt to melee behind their target when engaging in combat! This change is nice because mobs can parry all frontal attacks. More attacks = more parries = more to heal. I try to drag the mob back a bit to reposition all of the melee, but that’s not

Itemization: New heroic badge rewards are added, take a look at the tanking choices. Compare the [item]Wrynn Dynasty Greaves[/item] to Unwavering Legguards (75 badges). Fuck Curator, Badge farming anyone? I am sort of regretting blowing my badge stash on random DPS/healing gear that I didn’t need instead of stocking them :/

Miscellaneous: The range for cleanse is being increased to 40 yards, which should make fights like Prince nicer (having to move in and out of AE range sucks). There are additional faction discounts for all levels above neutral: 15% for revered and 20% for exalted; I am all for knocking off repair bill costs. I had posted a prospective new protection spec a few posts back, but never followed through in lieu of the 2.3 changes coming. I am glad I held off!

Orange Box: Impressions

kind of wanted to do a full article/review on Orange Box, but I am so damn tired this week from getting to bed past 1am every night (playing games of course). I need to finish reading through 2.3 PTR notes before making a commentary post (PROTECTION BUFF PALLYGASM).

I pre-ordered The Half-Life 2: Orange Box over the weekend, which was unlocked at midnight the other evening. So I’ve sacrificed nearly all of my farming, instancing, and Doombeard leveling time this week for the sake of obsessing about it. I worship Valve games almost as much as I worship Blizzard games (almost). TL;DR version of the following: Get it. Get it now.

Team Fortress 2 is damn fun, the play reminds me of the WoW battlegrounds a bit in the sense that both are class based team versus team games with similar objectives (node capture, capture the flag, etcetera). I love the art style; it’s just perfect.

Portal is unique first person puzzle game that takes around 3 hours to complete, give or take a half hour. If you haven’t heard of it, YouTube the trailer, the portal gun is endlessly fascinating to play with. I was mostly interested in it for the gameplay value, I didn’t expect it to be funny! The AI adds sadistic humor to the game while interweaving narrative (it’s set in the Half-Life universe).

Upon completion, an advanced mode is unlocked with 6 more challenges, some limiting your time and the number of portals that you can use. I highly recommend playing through the game a second time in commentary mode, it offers insight on the game’s development and design.

I can’t comment on Episode 1 or 2 because I haven’t played them yet. I need to play through Episode 1 first (didn’t buy it originally, wanted to wait for them all to come out or for a compilation). But before that, I want to play through Half-Life 2 since it’s kind of been 3 years. Orange Box is a great deal. Even if you have already purchased HL2 and HL2: Episode 1, it’s still 3 excellent games for $50. A real bargain if you ask me!

What’s in my bags?

bagsThe topic idea is from Galoheart’s post at Ardent Defender, who posted a screenshot and a description of what he carries in his bags, thought I would post my own. So what’s in your bags? This is what was in my inventory last night before Karazhan (for Gruul I use the Ogri’la pots and flasks).

41 slots are dedicated to gear, though I’ve managed to prune some of it down lately. My resist gear is stored in the bank…I used to permanently carry around my fire resist set in the Molten Core/Blackwing Lair days, but I don’t have enough bag space anymore to do that lol. I carry a tanking set (with extra spell damage, dodge, and mitigation pieces that I swap in and out), a spell damage set, and a healing set. In theory I don’t need three 2-handed weapons…

5 or 6 slots are devoted to reagents, which is sort of overkill in lieu of the blessing duration buff but meh, it’s better than running out. 15 to 20 slots are devoted to potions, consumables, and food. I left my flasks and elixirs in the bank, whoops lol.

For fun: Tonk remote, Vargoth’s staff, non-combat pet, and sometimes the Barov trinket, which gets popped at awkward moments. 4 or 5 more slots are for warlock healthstones and mage water, 1 slot is for the Void Crystals from shit drops that were DE’s, the rest of my free space is for trash, chant mats, etc.

October Geekology: Mixed Bag O’ Media

I have some WoW pics from brewfest, tips and other such musings for another post either tonight or tomorrow. I haven’t done a general interest/review post in a while.

Oh, so November is NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), for those who haven’t heard of it, is a creative writing project that challenges participants to write a 50,000 word (175 page) during the month of November. I have always wanted to participate in it, but could never find the inspiration or time to write that much every day for a straight month. I might actually attempt to this year or at the very least: NaBloPoMo. I imagine an undertaking of this magnitude requiring vast amounts of alcohol (home) and caffeine (work).

Normally, other than a few old standbys, I don’t bother watching many if any new television shows unless it features a spaceship or men in armor :P. I actually bothered watching a few of the new shows this season.

Bionic Woman: It’s a re-imagined version of the original series done by the same person who did Battlestar Galactica. I was somewhat disappointed with the pilot because I semi-expected something with the depth of BSG. I don’t really like the protagonist, the special effects where cheesy, and the show/plot was pretty average overall. It is though, difficult and unfair to judge series based off of the first show, so I will continue watching it (given that I don’t blow it off for WoW). Oh, it has Starbuck in it.

Reaper: Two thumbs up for being funny and interesting. The pilot was after all, directed by Kevin Smith. Continuing from last season: Stargate Atlantis, Heroes, Lost (February lol), Battlestar Galactica (4th and last season, I think it starts in November?).

The new Foo Fighter’s album “Echo, Silence, Patience, & Grace” was released late last month. I was to be honest, a little disappointed at first. But as I listen to it I am enjoying ESP&G more and more. It’s just one of those albums that you appreciate over time. I am really digging it at the moment. ESP&G is a good listen, offering a fairly wide range of genres and sounds that flows easily from one track to another. It’s not a black and white, “quiet side and loud side” album ala In Your Honor. Favorite Tracks: The Pretender, Let it Die, Come Alive, Strange Things Have Happened.

The new Radiohead album, In Rainbows is slated for release on the 10th of this month. The preorders are currently available online in two forms: A “discbox” (CD, bonus CD, booklet, and extra stuff) and a digital download where customers are able to name their price. How cool is that? If it’s good, I am really tempted to purchase the boxed set to support purchasing models like this. 

The Orange Box pre-load is available for Steam orders now (or is it out? I’ve been busy this week). I really want to purchase it but I don’t see myself obsessing over yet another new game at this point. I am devoting most of my extra gaming time to levelling dear ignored Doombeard to 70 <3.

So speaking of games, I am interested in purchasing a new game console either this year or early 2008. ONE game console, I don’t have enough time or interest for two. I am almost completely sold on purchasing a Wii for Zelda, SSBB, Metroid, Mario, etc. But, if the PS3 price drop speculation is true, I would be tempted to go Sony. Hmmm…

Huntardation and Protection Suggestions

The in game voice chat is decent despite the fact that it is borking servers around the nation (getting kicked off repeatedly sucks). The quality isn’t nearly as good as Ventrilo, but the in game integration is nice. I don’t really see this as a Vent server replacement, but it’s a good option for those who do not have one and for PuGs (don’t like giving vent info out to random ass people).

I respec’d my hunter Beast Mastery and started leveling my him again this weekend. What an awesome tree, I can’t tell you how much fun it is leveling as BM. Pet doesn’t lose aggro, less downtime, etc. Not going back to MM any time soon (though I might respec at 70 into a PvP build).

I don’t know if it’s because I’m a huntard noob, but I swear that it’s much harder to pull aggro as BM, since my damage is split more between my ranged weapon and my pet. I tried my best to be an ass and repeatedly pull threat off of the tank this weekend in Coilfang, but no dice (it was a guild twink run I have permission >:D).

A few changes that I would like to see for tankadins (I realize that a few points here are borderline whines :P).

  • It would be nice for our survivability issue to be addressed in some manner. Warriors have 1,200 more base health than paladins do, they also have a ranged slot. That is a pretty large gap. Suggested solutions: Equalizing our base HP, adding a stamina libram, or adding a talent that scales block value/raw mitigation higher.
  • An ability deep into protection that increases our mana return. Thinking either by increasing our passive heal gain or doing something like returning mana on block. SA alone as it is, isn’t enough.
  • Better itemization for paladin specific tanking gear. Specifically: Better paladin tanking weapons on par with what is available via progression for the other tanking classes. That is: At least 200 spell damage, at least 30 stamina and some def/avoidance.
  • Some way of dealing with mob spell immunity.

Oh: I bought a new mouspad yesterday. I have been using the one that came in the WoW: BC Collector’s Edition box, but it is too small. My hand scoots off towards the edge frequently. Consequently, I’ve had to up the sensitivity on my mouse to ungodly levels which has lowered my accuracy quite a bit in other games. It’s cloth, it’s huge and it’s niiiice! Kind of ugly though, wish it was all black.