Thursday, May 31, 2012

What would I change about WoW? Part 2

OK, here comes the fun part! What would I change to make the game more accessible to all players? By accessible, I mean that all content should be available in some form to all players, as long as they are all paying the same monthly subscription fee. Blizzard themselves have already stolen some of my thunder with changes like LFR, which opens up raiding to all players, and more recently, the elimination of faction-based gear enchants, which will greatly ease the process of getting toons raid-ready.

This leaves me with only 2 main changes that I would like to see in the game, that I feel unnecessarily keep content unavailable to the average player.

1. Gold sinks. I will admit that I don't understand why most of these are necessary. Are there really so many players at level 70 with piles of gold, that artisan flying needs to be 5000 G (or 4000 if exalted with faction)? The void storage cost of 25G per slot also strikes me as ridiculously high. Both artisan flying and void storage are extremely useful for all players, not just those who have made a killing on the auction house, so is it fair to price them out of reach for all but a few? I would suggest lowering the price for these two services, or making them single-purchase services so that you only have to raise the necessary cash on a single toon.

That said, I have very mixed feelings about the upcoming black market auction house, where highly-coveted items will be sold for tens of thousands of gold. On the one hand, I understand the need for at least some form of gold sink in a healthy online economy. I also feel that if you are indeed one of the few who has managed to acquire riches in WoW, then it makes sense for there to be some sort of reward. The other side of me, however, is still worried about the accessiblity issue. Could a player reasonably make a goal of raising enough money to play the black market AH, without drastically increasing their current playstyle and time investment? If the answer to that question is no, then this new feature will be excluding a large portion of paying subscribers. I will freely admit that this mainly bothers me because I will likely be one of the players excluded, and I hate seeing cool stuff in-game and realizing there is no way I will ever acquire them.

2. I do have a potential solution to making black market items, and other items currently available only to high-end raiders available to a larger population: make these items rewards through repeatable questlines. Put new NPCs in old raids, make it possible to enter these raids on a single toon rather than fudging the system with a F2P party member or whatnot, and make the raid into a progressive daily quest adventure. The quests can be difficult, and may need some time to complete; they shouldn't be a faceroll. Still, they will be a hell of a lot more fun and productive than simply farming the same old content for months, as you will be guaranteed some type of cool item (a mount or piece of gear) at its completion.

I have not problem with tiered content, as long as it is available in some form to everyone. So here we have 3 ways to obtain cool raid mounts and transmog gear, which you can choose from according to your playstyle and time investment: the traditional method of running heroic raids with your guild, the black market auction house for the money-makers, and raid questlines for everyone else.

This awesome mail helm dropped for my priest, boo!

3. I have one last suggestion that is not an accessibility issue but came up while I was thinking about the idea of raid questing: Make all bind on pickup items bind on account. Say I receive a totally cool piece of leather gear as a quest reward while I'm playing my shaman. It would totally rock to be able to send that gear to my druid to use for transmogging. In dungeons and raids, it would be necessary to make sure that players can only need on gear that their current toon can use, similar to the current system in LFR, to prevent needing on everything by people with many alts. However, on the occasion that you get a nice piece of gear on a greed roll that you can't use on your current toon, it would be great to be able to send that item to another toon rather than vendoring it.

And that's it for my suggestions! In the course of writing and researching this and the last suggestion post, in addition to a kitty health emergency at home (she's fine now), I haven't done much playing over the past few days. So I'm looking forward to getting back into the game this weekend and potentially getting two toons (Blatella and Gallore) to level 85!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What would I change about WoW? Part 1.

The announcement a couple of weeks ago of pets, mounts and achievements going account-wide has filled me with joy! Since I like to play a lot of alts, it will be wonderful to have all mounts and pets accessible to each toon, as well as to have one unified achievement count for my entire account. I do not personally consider repetitive grinds to be good gameplay, although I understand that this is not such a problem for other players.

Now I've only been playing for a year, but in that time I have formed some thoughts on other changes that would improve my quality of life in-game. I'll start small here in Part 1, and in Part 2 will make some bigger (and perhaps controversial) suggestions.

The first five points will focus on making old content relevant. I am not one of those people who thinks that WoW will crash and burn at any minute. However, I don't think that unused and irrelevant content, littered all over the game, gives a good impression of a thriving MMO. Furthermore, I think that many people, myself included would be happy to revisit older content if it were worth our time (meaning: gives us shinies and gold!).

1. Cooking and fishing dailies for all of the base Horde and Alliance factions. One way to increase population in dead zones like Silvermoon City would be to introduce dailies in those areas. In addition, adding portals to each capital city from Orgrimmar/Stormwind would make travel to all of the daily locations easy. What would make me want to do all of these new dailies? While leveling, I would like the experience and the reputation gained towards the Ambassador achievement. Beyond that, I would like to see better rewards than are currently available for the existing faction dailies. One skill point per daily could be replaced by 5, as you get for the Darkmoon Faire dailies. Fishing rewards that contain pets or decent amounts of gold (as is the case for Outlands and Dalaran fishing dailies) would be a huge improvement over the Bag of Vendor Trash that we currently get. It would also be awesome if the chef's awards from these faction dailies could go towards the chef's hat, which you can now only get from cooking dailies done in Dalaran.

2. While I'm speaking of abandoned zones, how about the Isle of Quel'danas? I don't have any pictures of it as I've probably only spent an hour or so actually playing there. It's a shame, because it's a beautiful place. I remember how excited I was when my first toon dinged 70 and could take to port in Shattrath City to the Isle...only to find that the dailies there gave little XP compared with Northrend, and are focused on a now-irrelevant progression towards opening up old dungeon and raid instances. I would love to see the content made relevant again, even if just by increasing the XP and gear rewards so that a few rounds of dailies could substitute for the first couple of levels in Northrend for those of us who are getting bit tired of Borean Tundra and Howling Fjord.

3. And one more abandoned zone: the Argent Tournament. As with the Isle of Quel'Danas, I was so excited when my first toon got that letter in the mail inviting her to participate! I chose my faction, completed quests all over Northrend and learned to joust until I could beat those damned Boneguard Commanders. Visions of mounts and pets and heirloom gear kept me going until my toon became Exalted Champion of Orgrimmar...and then I realized that I would have to do all of this again with the other four factions, becoming exalted with them as well, before I could open up the rewards vendor. That is when I gave up in disgust. Let me also point out that during the month or so that I was playing the Tournament, I saw maybe 5 other players doing the same, and Drak'Thul is a high population server. Why? Too much work, too few rewards. My suggestion would be to reduce the process to one run through the quests to achieve Champion, as that is plenty. Or, maybe making some of the rewards available as the toon becomes Champion with each faction, rather than only getting access to the rewards after completing the entire insane grind.

4. What's another near-useless feature in WoW? Gear vendors! I would love to see affordable, level-appropriate vendor gear available throughout the game. It's kind of sad that everytime you level up and enter a new area, the vendors are offering the same crap you bought in the starting zone? It's like an Azeroth-wide flea market. At the very least, shouldn't armorers and weaponsmiths in the capital cities be offering the latest (level-appropriate) fashions? This could also serve as a reward for achieving leveling milestones; I would love to be able to buy a super cool piece of gear from vendors only when I hit leveling milestones such as 20, 30 40 etc. It would also be nice if existing vendor gear were useful for transmog: the Battered Leather set above looks pretty sweet for example, but doesn't have stats so it's completely worthless past level 20 or so.

5. Another underutilized population of NPCs are the justice point vendors for the two oldest expansions. I believe this is mainly because the ridiculously low JP rewards for Burning Crusade and Wrath dungeons do not allow players to collect enough JP while leveling to actually purchase this gear while it is still useful. Old JP gear is also beautifully suited for transmog, like the shoulders that Wapsi is wearing in the above picture which were purchased from the JP vendor in Shattrath City. I would like to see Blizzard provide the same JP rewards for all dungeons from BC to Cata, which would make it possible to make use of earlier expansion JP gear before endgame.

That's the end of part one. I feel that so far, most players would generally agree with these suggestions, even if they don't agree with the potential solutions. Most of us would be more than happy to be able to enjoy all of the content in the game. My next 5 suggestions, however, deal with making that content more accessible, which not everyone may agree with.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

20 days- 10 things you don't know about me

This is a difficult topic and I've been thinking about it for awhile, specifically in terms of how much I want to disclose about myself. Also, I don't know if there are 10 interesting things about me that people would care to read about! Well, let's give it a try.

1. I am a biologist. I am tenured at a large state university in the SE United States, where I teach and do research on insect brain evolution.

2. Not surprisingly, I love invertebrate creatures, especially insects. I love learning how an animal with such a tiny nervous system is able to process sensory input, make decisions, and navigate the environment.

3. I love to travel. My job has provided me with the opportunity to travel all over the world. I have given talks in Russia, Japan, Puerto Rico, and all over Europe. I have collected insects all over the US and in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica.

4. I lived in Tucson, AZ for three and a half years that I consider the best period of my life thus far. Southern Arizona is a beautiful place to live, and I found it very easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle of biking/swimming/hiking while I was there. This was particularly important to me as...

5. I have rheumatoid arthritis. I was diagnosed when I was 16, which means I have had it for over half of my life. I've needed several surgeries over the years to fuse or replace destroyed joints.

6. I quit drinking alcohol just over 3 years ago. If a person really likes to drink and has a genetic propensity for substance abuse, I would recommend not choosing a career in academia, where functional alcoholism is almost the norm.

7. I am divorced. Heavy drinking is not good for relationships, as it turns out.

8. I am heavily tattooed. Like many women, I have had body image issues from time to time, and I have found that tattoos are a wonderful way to feel beautiful when I look in the mirror.

9. I never grew out of heavy metal music. I like just about anything that is detuned, distorted, epic and in a minor key (which, interestingly enough, means I rather like dubstep too). I also love the imagery of metal, which ranges from wicked awesome to totally cheesy. I know a lot of people hate Dimmu Borgir (above), but I absolutely love the imagery in their videos. Also, I have a thing for big guys with long hair, and obviously you see a lot of them in metal music.

10. I am a cat lady. I have three wonderful kitties. The oldest, Jasper, is 15 and has been with me since I was in graduate school. Jade joined me when I was in Arizona, and Bella appeared at my door, pregnant and disheveled, about 2 years ago. They are all fat and spoiled now, of course.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Return to 20 days of WoW

I've had a lot of other things to post about, but today I thought a short post on the reason behind this blog's name was in order. I began Goetia's Letters as a RP-style diary about my then-main Goetia's travels through Azeroth. I learned a lot with her, as I leveled her to 85 solely through questing. If I could rename my blog again, I would not use a single toon's name given my propensity for playing alts.

Soon though, I learned that RP is kind of hard, and that maybe I would like to save it for when I had a really good idea, and just talk about general WoW explorations the rest of the time. I also switched mains to Wapsipinicon (in the banner above), and Goetia has been mostly retired for the time being. I absolutely will be leveling her in the next expansion, however, and hopefully relearning roguery well enough to feel more comfortable with her in dungeons.

In other news, I played Aeshna the kitty druid a bit last night and got her to level 15, so she's officially specced into feral and is ready to start dungeons. She tried one dungeon last night and got stuck with a group in Deadmines in which the tank was wandering hopelessly all over the instance and a hunter and a warlock were attempting to keep moving. We miraculously took down Foe Reaper 5000, but after dying on two subsequent packs of mobs I decided the best thing to do was to drop group and sign off for the night.

It was getting late and I was getting tired, so I didn't think until after I logged off: hey! I can tank! So I put the bear spells on my bar so that I'm prepared for next time. As I've said, I'm not great at navigating dungeons, but I can at least try to hold aggro on mobs and keep them in one place so everyone else can pewpew them to death.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Troll feral cat dilemmas!

Last night Aeshna the shiny new troll druid made her way to level 8, questing through the starting zone in Echo Isles, Sen'jin Village and ending up in Razor Hill. I haven't played a troll since I first started playing a year ago, and I found that I thoroughly enjoyed visiting the Echo Isles again. It was funny though to remember how some of the quests were difficult the first time around, but so easy now; I remember going around and around one of the islands looking for Vol'jin so we could kill a naga, this time it was easy peasy.

Finally finished with her work in the Echo Isles, she crossed the bridge to the Durotar mainland...

And the whole big world was laid out before her.

A few more quests and she got her cat form! Hallelujah! She looks pretty sweet! Still, on a trip to Orgrimmar to deliver some meat to the innkeeper or somesuch thing, she couldn't resist checking out the barber shop.

She liked this hair color the best (changed the style too), but wasn't so sure about her feral form.

She tried dark blue next, and the feral form looked like it did with her original blue-green hair color.

Finally, a lighter hair color than she would normally prefer, but feral looked really cool with the red stripes! I think she'll stick with this for the time being.

She spent the rest of her time in Orgrimmar selecting her professions (herbalism and skinning since she wants to make some gold selling mats, and cooking, fishing and first aid of course). Today she'll be back to Razor Hill for questing until she gets to select her feral talent tree at level 10. Then, I think she'll be traveling across the sea to Eastern Kingdoms for questing, as I'm a bit tired of Kalimdor having recently run both Boomhoof and Panthalassa through the early level zones.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

As promised, the bucket list

I'm going to restrict this to goals that I have before MoP comes out, so hopefully they will be fairly realistic.

1. Full LFR gear for my enhancement shaman, Wapsi. She's missing 3 tier pieces and 1 No'Kaled, so she still has a ways to go.

2. Ding 85 on my shadow priest Blatella (83) and BM hunter Gallore (81).

3. Ding 85 on my boomkin Boomhoof (48) and elemental shaman Panthalassa (46).

4. Max primary professions on Blatella (herbalism/inscription), Boomhoof (herbalism/enchanting) and Panthalassa (mining/engineering).

5. Max fishing and cooking professions on Blatella, Boomhoof and Panthalassa.

6. Get the "Professor" title for Wapsi (she's Associate now).

7. Get the "Leading the Cavalry" achievement and the Albino Drake for Wapsi (she's at 37/50 mounts now). She will need to grind Horde faction rep for this.

8. Get the "Loremaster of Kalimdor" achievement for Gallore (she has 4 zones left).

9. Get a full set of heirlooms for further leveling- I need the leather agility chest and shoulders, the mail agility chest, and the plate dps shoulders because I accidentally bought the tanking set.

10. This one is a bit iffy: ding 85 on my newly-rolled feral druid Aeshna. This will of course be easier when I complete her heirloom set.

It will be interesting to revisit this list after the expansion comes out, so I can see how much I actually accomplished!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Anti-bucket list

I'm having one of those evening where I don't feel like playing, so I'm reading blogs instead. Bravetank and Lyrestra at Musings of an Altoholic have shared their reverse bucket lists, in which they list the things they will probably NOT do in WoW. I have about a million goals in game, but until now I haven't thought too much about the things I'm likely never to do. I like to think that eventually, I'll at least try everything there is to try, but there still might be a few things that will never hold my interest enough to invest time in them. So after a bit of thought, and inspiration from Bravetank and Lyrestra (I share a lot of "nevers" with both of them), here is my anti-bucket list for WoW:

1. I have never rolled a gnome, dwarf or human. The races just hold no interest for me. Humans especially; I play a human IRL, so why play one in a fantasy game? And gnomes and dwarves are just little humans, IMHO.

2. I have never played PVP arenas or rated battlegrounds. I've done some PVP and it's fun once in awhile, but not enough to make it my focus in-game.

2. I have never raided heroic current content. I like learning how to play well, but the min-max game is a little much for me.

3. I have never done any raids aside from LFR. This is likely because...

4. ...I have never belonged to a guild of people that I actually got to know and enjoy playing with. Yes, I'm one of those people who accepts spam guild invites for the perks. I follow guild chat and participate occasionally, but I never seem to click with anyone. This kind of sucks, but since I really prefer to do my own thing when I play, it probably works out for the best.

5. I have never rolled a tank. I'm no longer so worried about screwing up in dungeons and getting abuse, rather, I could never lead a group because my spatial memory is total crap. I've run every dungeon in game multiple times but I still get lost every time and have to rely on the other players.

6. I have never rolled a warrior successfully. I've tried twice, and deleted them by level 15. They just don't click with me for some reason.

7. I have never leveled an Alliance toon to 85. I've tried, and still intend to, but my Alliance toons tend to get played a lot for a couple of weeks and then they languish for months.

8. That said, I have never understood the draw to rolling Alliance. Half of their races are kind of dull (see #1). Their architecture is bland as all get out- compare Orgrimmar to Stormwind, Thrallmar to Honor Hold, and Warsong Hold to Valiance Keep, for example. The Alliance cities look like prisons, and bore me so much that I have faction changed two toons to Horde after playing through these areas. Horde cities on the other hand are colorful and overall far more visually appealing.

9. I have never done more than a handful of quests in Blade's Edge Mountains or Shadowmoon Valley in Outlands. I really like the Burning Crusade dungeons, and tend to do a lot of my leveling from 60-70 in Dungeon Finder rather than questing.

10. I have never won the Stranglethorn or Northrend fishing derbies. I tried once in Northrend: when the winner was announced while I was fishing my 2nd pool, I figured this might be a lost cause.

So after all of this negativity, my next post should be my actual bucket list. Stay tuned...

NBI challenge: Learning is fun!

I'm a bit late to the game on the Newbie Blogger Initiative weekly challenges over at Tastes Like Battle Chicken, but I figured better late than never! This week's challenge is to do some research into something new to me, and then give a little presentation on what I've learned. I love this challenge because this is pretty much why I play WoW: I love researching a topic, plotting a course of action and then achieving it in game.

Probably the best example of this for me is when I decide to roll a new toon; so this post will be a description of how I get up to speed on a class that is new to me. I am playing a ton of toons right now, but there is one more race and class that I have been itching to try: a troll feral cat druid. This is because:
1. I am interested in learning the feral cat playstyle
2. I don't have any trolls amongst my Horde girls
3. Troll cats and bears look awesome with their dayglo mohawks.

I've been waiting on this until I get the motivation to grind JP on Wapsi for the leather agility shoulder and chest heirlooms, but for the purpose of this post, I'm just going to dive right in. First, I need to actually roll the toon. It's kind of a complicated process as each my other toons contribute something to help with the leveling.

Here's my new troll druid lady, sporting lovely blue-green hair and skin. She kind of reminds me of the large dragonfly I saw at my pond this morning, so I'll call her Aeshna (dragonfly genus name).

Click Enter World and watch the opening movie: trolls don't like Garrosh! Also, what a lovely place to start!

And here's Aeshna, getting her first quest. Time to do the mailbox shuffle.

Wapsi sends an heirloom helm...

Gallore sends an heirloom cape...

Goetia sends bags and cash money...

Checking her mail...

Ugh, that helm!

Don't want to look at that for 85 levels, I want to see her glorious hair!

First quest and Level 2!

And, I like to take advantage of the only time in the game when vendor armor is actually an improvement. This set looks pretty ragged, but there is a nicer red leather set (called Cured Leather Armor) that you can get from vendors at around level 17 (Ahanu in Thunder Bluff, for example). Unfortunately this armor has no stats, so is not available for transmogging.

OK, we're good to go. Now for the research. At this point I am particularly interested in knowing which stats are important for a class, the rotation, and talent trees and glyphs once I get to the appropriate level. Other things (enchants, reforging etc) will wait until I get her to level 85.

Icy Veins has a guide for nearly every class.

Noxxic is also very good.

Elitist Jerks reads a bit like a software manual as it is an exhaustive source of information. I find that it's most useful once a toon hits 85.

After reading these sites, I have a good idea of what my toon's abilities will be and how to use them. Next, I want to know what kind of cool looking gear is out there, and where I might find it. There are many transmogrification guides available, and these are the ones that I use most often:

Icy Veins is usually my first source for information, with images of armor sets as well as individual items, and each annotated with how to acquire the piece.

Wowhead has a searchable database of armor sets.

World of Wardrobes allows you to search items by color, which I especially like because I tend to build transmog sets around a particular color.

Mog My Gear allows you to see what armor sets will look like on each race.

Wow Roleplay Gear has selected armor sets of each material type, as well as news on the Wow Factor transmogrification events (wish they would come to Horde Drak'Thul!)

Finally, Disenchanting Azeroth (home of the Mogfather, who began the AH transmog business) is the place to go for information on weapons for transmogrification.

Doing research is nearly as fun for me as playing the game. Knowledge is power, and I feel a lot less anxious about entering a dungeon for the first time on a new toon if I have some idea of how to gear and play her. In addition, since the visual beauty of WoW is a big draw for me, browsing sites for ideas on transmog outfits is a ton of fun, and super easy since there are so many good resources out there.