While my client quietly patches.

Ah, all those years ago.  November 2004.  Fall bringing down the leaves off the trees.  A new game coming out of the box.  (Remember those?  Six sides?  Cardboard.  … Physical?  I’m dating myself, I know!)  World of Warcraft.  It was the guilty pleasure that pulled me from my tanks in Call of Duty (the wife-to-be listening to the rumble of tank engines across the house) or my hand of cards (the wife-to-be on the other end of the internet connection) in Magic: The Gathering.  But this Warcraft was something better.  Where I could play a character in a world with fun graphics, and a sense of humor.  And with other people, grouping for profit, and fun.

Characters surviving from vanilla WoW include Msaker, Stormsoul, Honorus, and Darkhand.  (And with this pre-expansion patch I’ll recover my level 85 hunter, Arcarius.)

I remember the Burning Crusade, January 2007, going through the portal to a new, broken, world, the Outlands (aka Draenor).  The aboriginal Orcs, the proud Draenei.  The new Draenei and Blood Elf races.

I remember the Wrath of the Lich King, November 2008.  Boarding the ships that transported us up north.  Coming in to dock after passing the embracing cliffs, from which was hung a flaming boat, a warning from the indiginous giants, and not catching up with the Lich King until the last zone.

Cataclysm, December 2010, with the shake up of the existing world and the addition of Worgen and Goblins.

And the Mists of Pandaria, Sep 2012, where we discover more new land, this time to the south, and the  Panderians.

And here we are, on the eve of Warlords of Draenor, November 2014, with todays update upgrading us to the new game mechanics and graphics, in preparation for a month from now when we travel back through the portal to a Draenor that’s taken a different path.

We’ll be there, the wife and I.  We’re ready to hit the road again, once more into the breach dear friends, once more.  And we’ll be there, no doubt, as we move on into the Emerald Dream, (defending it from the Burning Legion perhaps), then chase Sargeras down, hitting Argus next.  (We’ve got the starships parked over old Netherstorm.  And goblins can strap rockets onto anything.  Let’s ride.)

And given how friendly World of Warcraft is, maybe Jr. will come along as well.

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I can’t complain about my luck.

I remember Msaker getting the Green Protodrake with his first egg there in Sholazar Basin.

I worked my butt off and got the Brewfest Ram on Msaker as well.

And tonight, fifth (or sixth) visit to Coren Direbrew I got the Great Brewfest Kodo to drop.

WoWScrnShot_100414_225455

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My Shaman on another server

I remember, way back, seeing the “others” come from another server.  Seems they’d left their overcrowded home world and came to ours.  With names like Hammerclaw (a PvP Paladin.  A Paladin??!?!!) and gear like “Who are those guys???,” me and mine felt very provincial in comparison to these “big city” types with their sophisticatitude.

Then came the battlegrounds, where these “others” stayed on their own servers, but joined us in the fray of Alterac Valley because now my humble little RP server belonged to a Battle Group.  Just so we could tell them apart, their names got appended with their server names.  Leetdude-Oneofamillionservernames <ROFLCOPTER DOWN> hits you with a snowball.  And that was great.  Meant we had enough again to reduce wait times for the battleground matches.  (Something the zerg rush ultimately nailed into it’s coffin.)

Things progressed, and suddenly these People-FromElsewhere appeared in my gameworld, not just in the battlegrounds, but poking around in the auction house, inn, spider camp, and everywhere.  Okay, so we’re taking the idea of “merges” a little further.

And that’s where I thought it ended until I got an invite on a new character from a Guild Master on another server.

I’m not the fastest scooter in the turtle store, so it took me a bit of time to realize all the wife’s and my folks on our 2nd/Alt server could join the 2-player guilds we had on our 1st/Home server.   Researching which servers were linked to which, I created a place holder character on a 3rd server who is a member in the guild now.  In fact, the wife was so attached to one particular character name she’d lost, unable to create that character on either of our two servers, she created him on this 3rd server, and she and I, on a new character on the 2nd server, both members of the guild based on the 1st server, did a little knocking around Brill the other night.

Which also means my Tauren Shaman, the one I raided Molten Core with, took to Illidian’s Welcome mat, chilled out in Naxxaramas with, he’s finally “viable” again, a member of the guild, able to easily mail anything back and forth with my “mains,” not just heirlooms, and in the last few days have gotten him two levels to 84.  I’m after the Vial of Sands, so I’m leveling him with Archaeology which rewards solid xp with every successful survey.  (And I’ve seen the Twilight Highlands often enough.  I only want to herb gather there.)

It’s certainly a nice discovery for an altoholic like me that my alts and mains are only seperated by server list screens now, and little else.

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What if they made a game you couldn’t play?

Not really sure how good a business model that would be.

The Wait

I wasn’t sure the loader program was working yesterday, the start, I believe, of the free-to-play ArcheAge.  Glyph just sat there, appearing to be doing nothing.  But when I went to close it, it asked “Are you sure you want to cancel the patch?”  Ummm, no.  You’re patching?

So I let it run all night, and tonight I was going to check it out again.  Oh, about 5pm or so I fired it up and found the queue.  I was 3,700, give or take a few hundred, next in line to join the server.  They were all red, and I’ll be damned if I change lines for the same story everywhere.

It’s 11pm now and at least we’re less than 1,000.  Still, at 668, and more than an hour wait, still, I don’t think it’s going to be happening.

Not really sure what Trion was thinking.  Surely they had some small clue from all the advance packs they’ve sold.  I read that the headstart servers were already filled with player housing.  Which, of course, doesn’t apply to me.

Apparently being able to log in doesn’t apply to me either.

If this works for them, sound business.

P.S. A night later, and it’s just the same.  Eight servers and the two I tried had queues 3,300+ long.  Who’s managed to log into this game?  Truly Pay to Play.

P.P.S. The next day, 4:30pm, so who’s home playing right now?  Is this the afterschool crush?  3,300+ on each server.  Each server is a little different, but every server was over 3,300.  As if it’s more important to maintain an initial queue of at least 3,300+ per server, than let people onto the server.  As if you’re a theater with a movie, but you decide it’s more important to maintain a line outside at least two blocks long at all times.  Crazy, crazy.

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ArcheAge, a Neverland

I kind of knew what I was getting into, but it became very jarring after playing 10 levels over ArcheAge’s Open Beta weekend.

I knew the character models would be “asian.”  But, aside from the occasional use of some gray haired NPCs, and some other anomolies, every NPC (and every Nuian) was a youthful 16-18 year old.  Farmer Grady, Maid Jenny, Mayor Bob.  I think the cad who attempted to become king by trying to solve the palace maze (or something like that) had a moustache painted on his upper lip with shoe polish.  This is the utopia from Logan’s Run. Nobody is old, everyone is beautiful, and everyone is removed from society at age 21.  Military officers, farmers, respected academia types.  The officer on the beach organizing the defenses should have been home doing homework and studying for her exams.

Except for the two fat guys in the level 10 area.  They were easily 3-times standard size, with round heads and triple chins.  “Steven” and “Austin.”  They didn’t have quests, didn’t appear to have anything to say.  Some weird, bizarro world homage to the Six Million Dollar Man?  WWE?  Texas?

Playwise, the world based mobs stood around, waited to be killed.  From a PvE standpoint there was nothing new.  And the bouncing health bars everywhere, certainly plenty old.  At one point I was in a compound taken over by brigands looking for their leader.  I ran all over the site looking for him, but didn’t see him.  I gave up killing these mobs and just stood there, surrounded by red names and player characters.  My target eventually appeared out of thin air.  And I finally got to take him down.  With no interference from any of his minions surrounding us in their dozens.

The overall graphics were okay.  Not stellar.  Not fresh.  They were okay enough for me to bother getting to level 10.  (The wife didn’t care for them at all. And she loved Guild Wars, buying every expansion.)

To test other waters, I also created a Firran.  I passed on the afro, but picked what I thought were decent enough looking dreadlocks.  I pretty much logged him out as soon as I spoke with the first quest giver.  She was a pale, ashen skinned, Firran, big eyes, with a ashen color dreadlock cap on her head.  Nah.  The Uncanny Valley claims another victim.

Transport wise, horses came early enough, didn’t look half bad.  I was very pleasantly surprised with the row boat.  It actually worked like you’d expect a row boat would.  Not bad.

Doing meaningful things, though, cost “labor points.”  Mining ore, chopping trees, … probably much more besides.  Not sure if I’d get enough of these labor points to do what I want if I’m just free-to-play.  And filing a bot report costs labor points.  (Really?)  I think free-to-play, you’ll earn a point a minute while logged in, up to a certain cap.  Paying patrons earn double whether logged in or not, and have a higher(?) cap.  Seems like crass monetization to me.  (But I understand they’ve got families to feed too.)

I did see some amusing things in this Open Beta.  Despite lasting only 4 days, with a complete wipe afterwards, I saw a group of 5 Trailblazers with cargo boxes on their backs heading through the newbie town to the docks.  Apparently on a cargo delivery mission overseas.    Another Trailblazer was winching her catamaran out of the water, up a hill, and into town.  Some strong arms on that one.

The disparity between a “common” player like me, dressed in newb gear, and the “patrons” who’ve paid their way into some alpha/beta level, with their glowing armors, catamarans, gliders, riding elks… There’s going to be haves and have-nots.  They could have provided the haves with Rings of the Special Snowflake, with a 5% boost, but instead they’ve issued Finery of the Fashion Gods, maybe with no boost, except to self-esteem in beautiful society.

Eh.  Who knows if this will stay on my harddrive.  It’s free.  It’s got some new things.  It’s not making me race to delete it off the harddrive like EQII has done several times now.

But I do feel my time is better spent getting to Honored with the Kilaxi on my Blacksmith so I can craft some better weapons in preparation for WoD.  (Where they’ll, no doubt, be replaced instantly with the first quest reward out the door.)  (Or leveling a Mage, or Monk, or Warlock, or etc., in heirlooms who’s leapfrogging through old content.  There is fun to be had in familiar, near-mindless, but satisfying anyway, progression to the next shiny.)

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Next Big Thing Tourist

Wildstar is merging all servers onto two new megaservers.  I liked the game, really liked the graphic style.  Especially the “manmade” look of all the natural elements on Nexus.  That nothing was randomly natural, but crafted by a higher power.  How the trees and grass and hills all came up “procedurally” with very clear patterns.  But I didn’t like it enough to keep subbing.  Server merge portends free-to-play at some point?

TESO we did resub to.  It had appeared, over a couple of play sessions, that the “playing in a party” thing was worked out.  But last night, logging on, the wife found herself in a different instance than me and had to port to me.  Luckily I was already at the waystation.  And during on of the quests, as we passed “into” and “out of” some temples, at one point she disappeared.  So I was partnered with a white floating V.  We could still kill the exact some mobs, so what was the point of putting her in a seperate instance from me?  Especially doing so mid-session???  I’m really wanting to move on from the volcanic ashland that is the Dunmer starting area.  I think (at level 13) we’re just about able to leave.

Landmark I’m still enjoying.  They added PvP and while I’ve picked up each weapon, I’ve not engaged in any PvP.  Nor do I plan to.  Ever.  That’s not why I’m “playing” Landmark.  I joined it to see how EverQuest: Next was shaping up, and it’s a fun diversion building things.  I’ve found it to be a “genre agnostic” free-for-all mishmash with, apparently, a focus now on arena building, with two-button combat options further “streamlining” things.  It also tells me EverQuest: Next is a long ways away.  There’s some neat things down the road yet for Landmark that will make EQ:N “next gen” as they say, but if it’s down the road for Landmark, it’s even further for EQ:Next.  And they’d do EQ:Next a disservice not pursuing those things.  On the other hand, if combat in Landmark is what combat in EQ:Next will be like, then expect a mouse-button driven two-ability (per weapon) combat system that some traditionalists will not care for.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.  I don’t follow a lot of gamer bloggers anymore, so when one I still track picks up a game and finds it interesting, I take note.  I downloaded the “free to try” benchmark program and it says my machine can easily handle the maximum effects.  It’s got nice looking character models, but of the almost too-nice “Asian” look.  Which doesn’t bother me much.  It’s the cutesy race they each seem to have to have that bothers me.  It’s a subscription, which I’d be borderline on, but paying to see those Lalafell’s every day?  I can’t do it.

And I hated the Lopp’s in Wildstar.  The Aurin were borderline, the Chua crossed it, but the Lopps…  I wonder if it’s just not me and the wife, but one explanation of Wildstar’s less than stellar performance so far?

That leaves, for now, of the contenders for my time that I’d consider viable, and where I’d put some time in, ArcheAge.  It’s being brought to us in the West by Trion, of Rift fame, and Rift wasn’t badly handled I don’t think.  I’m not still playing, but that’s not to say it was bad.  If ArcheAge can keep some of the “goodness” of Rift, it won’t be bad.  Yes, it’s Asian, so I’m aware of the Firran.  And I think they’ve changed the Firran to be more human, and less stylized.  (I don’t actually mind stylized.)  From the sounds of it there’s a lot of sandbox activities.  (And also from what I’ve heard, lot’s of “traditional” MMORPG elements too.)  If free-to-play isn’t severly handicapped versus premium paying-to-play, and I can find a guild that tolerates short vist tourists, I am definitely going to check it out.  And it’ll be interesting to see how “caustic” this rumored PvP only world is.

That’s what I’m aware of with regards to the Next Big Things.  Either they weren’t, haven’t become them yet, and/or include things I’ll never get over.

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Five 90s

So far, pre-Warlords of Draenor I’ve got 5 90s.

Cenotaph and Sunstriker I soloed through on my own.

Msaker and Greenclaw I partnered with my wife’s Droonda and Itarilda and we quested our Horde and Alliance couples to 90.

Outrageous and Ombria were mid 50’s characters that we were playing, and we picked professions we wanted to have maxed, and then took advantage of the free boost to 90 once they hit 60. (You had to be 60 to get to 90 WITH max level crafting. Boosting a less than 60 character would mean leveling it to 600 on your own.)

Now we can take a little break and progress a little more with TESO.

And for a change of pace we have another level 85 couple ready to start Pandaria.

(I’m thinking WoW Expansions are too few and far between!)

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