Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What is a grind?

In a comment to a previous post Verilazic said "
Reading the article by the guy who doesn't like end game didn't make a lot of sense to me. I guess I just don't see how 1-70 isn't a grind, but 70 is. I find both a grind in the same areas (namely killing the same things over and over, regardless of quests), and not a grind in the same areas (namely pvp and most instances, particularly when running with friends).

What's the difference between lvling and, well, repping/raiding/farming? Speed? the lack of anything but gear as a reward? I actually find 70 more fun than lvling to 70, just because I can pvp now with my friends who reached 70 ahead of me."

It got me to thinking what is a grind exactly. How does the saying go? "I can't describe it but I know it when I see it!" Or in this case "when I feel it!"

For instance:

Leveling for the first time to 70. Not a grind.
Leveling for the second time. A grind.

But that's my opinion and it's all perception. I could ask this blogger if she thinks leveling alts are a grind. She'd probably say no.

Just about everything we do in the game are repeated actions. Maybe once we start doing things for the sake of doing them and not for fun does the feeling of "grind" come creeping in?

Friday, July 27, 2007

Settling in at 70

Although I reached 70 a while back, I've only recently felt I've reached a plateau. No, not Elemental Plateau! I'm just at a place where there's nothing big to look forward to in my near future. Just like how 60 was when the expansion seemed to be but a twinkle in a developer's eye.

While seeing the inside of the Black Temple or experiencing the Battle of Mt. Hyjal is no longer as far-fetched as it seemed when they first introduced it. We're far from setting foot in either. I have acquired decent crafted items and drops so that at the level and frequency I raid will last me a long time. And I've done what is probably the biggest grind at 70 - the epic flying skill. I've even leveled another character to 70.

Am I bored with the game like I was after being 60 for a while? Not really, and I think I have to attribute it in part to being a raider. There's also pvp - but I only do enough to get a few items I want. Unless you are a non-raider, who hit 70 did all the solo/group quests they could do and find the current end game unappealing - or a hardcore raider, like the players in Death & Taxes who completed all of Black Temple and Mt. Hyjal and are now bored of farming the new content you still find raiding keeping you busy.

But like I mentioned, our guild, with only a few bosses downed in Serpentshrine Cavern and The Eye combined, there is still plenty for us to do. Only thing is bosses don't fall quickly, so gear will be a while coming as well. It's just like we were with AQ40 and Naxxramas. That feeling that we are cycling a little in place. For me it is a bit of a breather. I'm not bored, but I'm also not feeling strained playing level/gear catchup. I'm just at a plateau...settling in for a while. Blizzard won't use me to write a blurb to sell their game, but they aren't losing me as a customer either.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hap of Azeroth

Speaking of Winterspring Frostsaber owners: A photo biography of a cheerful, mailbox dancing gnome named Hap.

At least I think he's still cheerful, last I heard he has a nervous twitch.

Netherwing Mount

Since I made it a priority to do daily quests every day for gold I hit exalted with both Sha'tari Skyguard and Netherwing recently.

I didn't bother getting the Nether Ray since I'd look weird - like a troll riding one, rather than adorable - like a gnome riding one. I did however get the majestic Netherdrake. The last sequence of quests to get your Netherwing mount are neat, I won't spoil them for anyone.

I have to thank Blizzard for adding cool things to the game that (almost) everyone can get.

When first announcing the Netherdrake Blue said "The (unarmored) nether drake ... a reward that all players can work towards, but it will still be difficult to obtain." I imagined it would be on the order of grinding for Wintersaber rep, a rep so godawful it had its own support group (amazingly still going strong even after BC. I guess its even easier to grind it now that there's probably hardly any competition.)

Now that I've done the Netherwing grind, looking back the initial epic riding skill was the real hurdle. Getting the rep was relatively easy. What made it nice was you started with only a few quests you could do, but at each level of rep more quests were opened to you. Which unlike other reputation grinds ended up making things easier the closer you got, not harder.

See you in the skies!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Riding the bench

Since I no longer want to commit to a raiding schedule, I have - justifiably so - been relegated to backup status.

What this means is if someone doesn't show up (and I am of the class needed to fill the spot) I'll get to raid. But for the most part I won't. This is fine because I understand consistency and reliability is the key component of raid progression, but takes some getting used to.

For instance a while back I read up on the strategies for a boss we were planning on attempting, I watched some movies from different points of view and as usual I spent time getting consumables ready. I logged on early and made my way to the instance. I jumped into vent and waited. After 30-45 minutes the raid was set and I wasn't in it. No huge surprise but now what?

I could leave my character parked at the instance, while listening in to vent on the chance they need me to sub in and as a reward for my time get dkp for leaving myself available. I was free to play an alt in the meantime.

After listening in as some new bosses were killed and I'm genuinely happy for the guild. But doing this a few times and not actually being a part of it quickly loses the scant bit of enthusiasm that exists in the first place. With each passing raid, to prepare and then end up storing away the unused preparations...I've started to feel like I'm working myself up for something only to be let down each time.

I've already lost interest in reading up on the next boss strategy. I'm not sure I'm going to make a good benchwarmer.


--Zul'Aman will be a 10-person raid zone
--Zul'Aman will be on a quicker reset than 7 days (some might call this "casual")
--Zul'Aman will be MORE difficult than Karazhan and drop better loot (some might call this hardcore)
--Zul'Aman will feature 6 bosses and it's our goal that you can kill them all in one night -- perhaps 2-3 hour clear times (some might call this casual)
--Zul'Aman will not have a key requirement. Nor will it have an attunement quest\ (some might call this casual)
--Zul'Aman will have a VERY challenging timed quest for those who choose to participate in it. This *will be* hardcore and will be very rewarding. Players do not have to engage in the timed run (very similar to the Baron run in Stratholme)
--We're tuning the first boss in Zul'Aman to require less raid coordination than some other raid bosses. He will still hit very hard so you'll need to be geared properly but it won't take 15 minutes to explain the fight. It will be a simple yet challenging fight. The other boss fights get more complex and challenging from there. If players want a basis of comparison, imagine the tuning of ZA started around Nightbane/Prince difficulty and ramped up from there.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Heal the raid*

*I am a shadow priest now, but that doesn't mean I don't care about issues of the entire priest class. I have also never played a paladin, so this is based on observation. I'm not sure how to write this post without sounding so opinionated. Hopefully, no paladins were hurt in the writing of this post, fortunately they wear plate.

Now that I got the disclaimer out of the way....

Heal the raid has always been a secondary role. The main tanks and off tanks are primary. Most fights healing the raid has always been secondary in urgency and priority. Many of the classes are able to move themselves away from damage, bandage themselves, etc.

So when I see the plan for my guild's upcoming boss fight listed with paladins and shaman to be the tank healers and priests to raid heal, I felt a twinge of demotion of the priest class' job.

Now without going into the details of the fight, I do understand certain fights require certain strategies. But this still stood out for me, because at least in my guild, you always placed your strongest healers on the tanks.

In some top performing guilds they don't even bring priests along to heal. So I guess our guild's priests could count themselves lucky.

As paladins became stronger healers in BC, you couldn't say anything about it as a priest or you'd be labeled as a crying for nerfs. As the now defunct Paladin Suck said "I just find it sickening that Priests are focusing on nerfing Holy Paladins..."

I for one never asked for one single paladin to be nerfed. But I supported priests that asked for holy priest buffs. In the end, paladins were nerfed but still retained their healing power and priests remained unchanged.

So now we're left, as described by a Blue on the Europe WoW forums "In my opinion Priest are still the best healers in the game, when that has been said however I think that it is harder to heal efficiently as a Priest than healing as a Paladin."

Huh? Since when has a raid thought it best to bring an inefficient healer?

My whole priest vs. paladin gripe has been that for the majority of my life as a priest I've had to work at being efficient. Priests spend time NOT healing, which seems bizzare when you really think about it. Then BC comes along and paladins just spam Flash of Light. And suddenly the one thing I thought was skill less and frowned upon (spamming a heal of any kind until you're out of mana - ask for an innervate and start spamming again) becomes the ultimate in raid healing.

I can't find the exact quote now, but as a paladin said before "take all your many varied heals priests, I'll still outheal you with my one heal". Priests and other players keep insisting that all healers heal equally well and we each have our strengths. But I'm slowly not seeing that pan out in my own guild.

The saving grace for our guild's priests is they are dwarves. They can always play their fear ward card. And we still have fortitude. Yeah.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Thar's Gold in Them Thar Hills

I was about to post about how easy it is to get gold now that I have several daily quests I can do. I can fly over to Netherwing Ledge, I can fly over the jagged rock that surrounds Ogri'la and I can fly up the hill to Skettis. There's much gold to be found in doing daily quests and I don't feel like I'm farming. What more could you ask for? Then I remembered I have an epic flying mount which cost 5,200 gold to begin with.

The Sha'tari Skyguard/Ogri'la quests require a flying mount and the Netherwing quests require an epic flying mount, so unfortunately unless you have either you can't get access to these quests. I'm guessing if you managed to acquire the gold for an epic mount, making money isn't that much of an issue for you.

Still, while the epic mount is your biggest money sink, after you're flying high and fast there are still things to spend your hard earned gold on. And being able to make 120 gold from the quests alone, not including the coin and drops from the mobs you have to kill means if you decide to spend 300 gold on a rare smithing plan or something, you won't be broke for very long.

You'd think everyone would like ways to make gold outside of buying it from gold farmers, but no. Someone posted at length on the WoW forums that they should remove the gold reward from the quests and just give rep. Since I'm sure I fell asleep in Econ 101...I didn't follow all of the post either. But here is a snippet of it:

Hyperinflation is clearly a problem. Left unchecked, it can bring an economy crashing down very quickly, as money loses its function as a store of value and medium of exchange, it rapidly becomes worthless, and economies can devolve into a barter state.

As gold creation continues unabated through these daily quests, the threat of hyper-inflation is worrisome, though I should add it could have some benefits. As gold becomes less and less valuable, it should hurt the gold farmers (unless they are leading the way in new gold creation through these daily quests). But using hyper-inflation to combat the gold farmers is akin to shooting yourself in the foot to get rid of a fly that’s landed there. Sure, you hurt, and probably kill the fly, but you do a lot more damage to yourself to get rid of the pest.

Other side benefits (from a consumption standpoint) are that the fixed cost things within the game can and will become trivial. Purchasing mount skills or vendor items, or repairs will become trivial expenses within the game as gold is continually pumped into the economy. But the downside is that you can expect items on the auction houses to spiral upwards in terms of price with no end in sight.

Given all of this, I make a simple request, for the good of the game economies, and long term benefit to the players: Remove the gold rewards or greatly diminish them for the daily quests. Players will still complete them for faction rewards without the gold. And stopping the rapid influx of new gold into the economies will help stabilize the burgeoning inflation we are beginning to experience. Economic stability is good for everyone.

I hope they don't remove the gold rewards. I like knowing by investing a small amount of time I can put some extra coin in my pocket. But will there come a time when that gold means nothing on the AH? I can't say. I'm taking advantage of it while I can, and while I'm not bored to tears with doing so.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Raiding carrot

The removal of attunements opened up The Eye of Tempest Keep to our guild. We managed to kill the "easy" boss - Void Reaver and I think it gave our guild a little boost.

We had reached the point where we had the first boss in Serpentshrine Cavern causing us trouble, and beating your head against a boss lowers morale after a while. So it was good timing that VR was made available to us recently.

When we defeated VR there wasn't that feeling of "YES! We finally got him!" because it really didn't take long, but bosses like that help raiding I think.

Having easy bosses are just like quests and rewards and new levels - carrots that keep you playing. Or as some call them loot pinatas. Gives you just enough motivation to go beat your head against other bosses again.

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"I don't *need* to play. I can quit anytime I want!"

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