Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: Pets and Flight

Pet Menagerie finally built.

Yes, I should probably be titling these 'A Month in an MMO Life' given how often I've been posting them, but I can always dream that I'll start posting more.

With the Pet Battling triple experience weekend a couple weeks ago in World of Warcraft, I finally built the Pet Menagerie.  I had done almost no Pet Battling, so I was starting from two Ultimate Battle-Training Stones from my two level 3 garrisons and a bunch of pets I had gathered through years of playing WoW.  I used the first comment on the Pet Versus Pests Wowhead entry (with 201 up votes at the time) as my guide.  From there I targetting getting a frog, a Dancing Water Skimmer, a fox, and a moth to at least level 20.

I used my Ultimate Battle-Training Stones to level my Terrible Turnip and Sprite Darter Hatchling to level 25.  The Terrible Turnip has a 'Weakening Blow' that will never kill a pet you are battling, so you can make sure you don't kill it before capturing it.  I took my mage (who both wasn't max level and had a port) to the Vale of Eternal Blossoms to capture the Dancing Water Skimmer and Yellow-Bellied Bullfrog.  Battled there until I had two uncommon skimmers and a rare bullfrog and also leveled some of my moths at the same time.  From there is was a quick trip to Kun-Lai Summit to capture an Alpine Foxling Kit and was lucky enough to get a rare on one my first battle.

I was able to win the three pet battles needed to complete the Pet Versus Pests quest with just those pets, including two moths I had leveled, at level 20 or higher which allowed me to build my Menagerie.  Moving it to Level 2 was just a matter of some gold and garrison resources.  I completed one of the daily quests but at this point I have 15 pets at level 20 or higher and to try to build a full collection is daunting.  I'm not sure I want to spend the time doing it or finishing the 150 pet battles to get the Level 3 Menagerie.  At least I can say I've built all the Garrison buildings (except the PvP one).

I also was able to find the time to finish two of the last three achievements I need for the Draenor Pathfinder achievement that allows flying in Draenor.  Whenever I had some time, I would check to see if one of the Securing Draenor quests I hadn't finished was in my garrison and would run it.  Once I was down to four assaults, I just paid for them at my garrison with resources from my Garrison Quartermaster.

I also finished the Master Treasure Hunter achievement.  My missions had given me the Shadowmoon Valley and Gorgrond maps so I started with those.  Once I had done most of them I realized I'd need one more map to finish it, so I bought the one for Nagrand from Grakis in Stormshield.  I'm not sure this was the best one to pick because quite a few were difficult to get to.  Fortunately, I didn't need that many after having gathered most of the treasures from the previous two zones, so it was just a matter of looking for others if one was very difficult to get to.  I enjoyed the scavenger hunt aspect of this, but not as much as I thought I would.  It felt like they were generally reasonable in Shadowmoon Valley but in Nagrand you would often have to find an obscure path to the treasure.

So I only have one achievement left to earn Flying in Draenor, Tanaan Diplomat.  There are three reputations you need to level to Revered and while one of them is pretty straight forward, the other two are going to be quite a grind.  Once again, I'm not sure if it is worth it or not.  I didn't mind being grounded in Draenor.  I'll try to post more about that later.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

World of Warcraft Subscribers and Legion

New World of Warcraft expansion announced on 8/6
I wanted to share a few thoughts on the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion.  The new class, the Demon Hunter, doesn't appeal to me but I thought the initial class quests for the Death Knight were interesting and I'd like to see these as well.  I like the idea of having an artifact weapon that stays with you and advances.  The weapon has always been the item that most impacts the player's effectiveness and this should make it a little less subject to where your next best weapon is placed and the luck of the random number generator.  I have enjoyed the questing for Mists of Pandaria and Warlords of Draenor more than Cataclysm and I expect more of the same and that is a good thing.

There have been a lot of negative talk about how Warlords of Draenor has effected the subscriber count.  Looking at the curve published on MMO Champion the 1.5 million subscriber drop is bigger than what would be expected, but it is only one quarter.  Mists of Pandaria (MoP) had a 1.3 million subscriber drop from between 3 and 6 months after release, so it is only slightly higher.  The decline of subscribers after MoP was not as steep I am sure Blizzard hopes the announcement will help stabilize it similarly.  

I agree with those who say this is a 10 year old game and there isn't a lot Blizzard can do to change the overall curve.  As more people leave there will be a higher peak with sightseers, but it is unlikely many of those returning to see the new content will stay to raid or do other end game content.  I would also think there will be a point where the decline will slow because there are also a lot of people who are committed to the game as long as Blizzard keeps supporting it.  Even if that is around 2 million people, Blizzard can make a lot of money keeping it a subscription game at that level.  I don't see them going Free-to-play but rather ending the game if it doesn't make the profit that makes them want to invest in it.  A recent Game Revolution article put the Final Fantasy XIV subscribers between .8 and 1.2 million, World of Warcraft probably still has five times the number of subscribers as the second most popular subscription MMO.

I take Blizzard at their word that they are trying to release content faster.  I expect a release in the first quarter of 2016, which would be about 6 months faster than the Warlords of Draenor release. If they can do that, they should get another peak from returning subscribers who are just sightseeing.  From there the curve will level out some, but it will be very interesting to see where that seems to happen.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Comments for Blaugust

Blaugust Begins today!

Blaugust begins today!  What is Blaugust, you may ask?  Belghast has been posting everyday now for more than 2 years and last year he decided to have an event to encourage others to post more regularly and Blaugust was born.  Post every day in the month of August and you win!  I know I am not going to post 31 times this month but I wanted to support it so I joined the Nook.  Once there I realized a great way to support those participating was to comment on their blogs, so I am going to have my own challenge to comment on at least one blog post every day this month.

Now that I've caught up on the blogs I follow in Feedly, I've decided I can follow a few more.  I've added a Blaugust 2015 category and I have added two participating blogs there so I can keep up with them.  I know it takes a little catching up, so I'll just try to add two more every week through August.

Good luck to all of those participating and please support our fellow gaming bloggers!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

World of Warcraft Achievements

Achievements can show what you like and don't like to do
As I had mentioned previously, as the Warlords of Draenor expansion to World of Warcraft is winding down, I have focusing more on what I want to do.  Over the last several weeks I have done many of them and even though I'm not focused on achievements, they tend to show up there.

  • Finished all the cooking and eating and drinking achievements.  Since I had always kept up with cooking, it was really just a matter of fishing up a few fish, buying a few items from the Cataclysm expansion and cooking a few items.  It was nice to get the 'credit' for something I had pretty much already done (and use up a few of the cooked items I had been sending to my lower level toons just in case).
  • Finish the 6.2 extension (In Pursuit of Gul'dan) to the Garrison campaign.  I thought this was a really good addition to this expansion to give a max level character a way to experience some of the content without going to dungeons or raids.   The 6.2 quests went pretty quick and weren't quite as good as the earlier quests, but they were good as well.
  • Finish exploring the Warlords of Draenor zones.  I only had two areas in Gorgrond and Frostfire Ridge left to do.  You couldn't tell what areas were missing by looking at the Gorgrond map, so I had to look them up.  There were huge areas in Frostfire Ridge that I hadn't visited since it is primarily a Horde zone and so I just starting travelling those areas and when the last one showed up on the map, I had finished the achievements.
  • Raise the  Shipyard to Level 3.  I'm not sold on the Shipyard addition, but it wanted at least to give it a chance (hopefully I'll say more about it in another post).
Completing these gave me some other areas I'd like to focus on:
  • The Draenor explorer is one of the prerequisites for flying in a subsequent patch.  I had already done all the quests, but I had not done the 'Securing Draenor' achievement which focuses on a daily quest for Apexis crystals that I had decided weren't that interesting.  I figure it'll be ok to try them each once and since there is a Tanaan Juggle version of them that provided oil for my Shipyard and reputation, I figure I'll do each of them at least once as well.
  • Another prerequisite for flying will be finding 100 treasures.  I already have the maps for Gorgrond and Shadowmoon Valley and I picked up several of the Gorgrond ones when I was finishing the exploration there and I'll take a tour of Shadowmoon valley soon and then see how many I need and where I'd like to go from there.  I enjoy the scavenger hunt aspect of this.
  • I'd still like to get all my building on Kanter to level 3 (now that I've done the Shipyard).  The main one I have neglected is the Pet Menagerie, so I'll probably find a guide and it should be too difficult.
Looking at my achievements you can see some obvious patterns.  I've done most in the exploration, general and profession achievement sections.  Since I have all but one profession at max level, I'd really like to get the last one, but that means leveling up my Deathknight from 80 to 92.  It shouldn't be too bad, but I'll probably wait until the other activities are done.  Because of the tokens, I don't feel to bad keeping my subscription since it's pretty trivial for me to early the gold for the token.

In a unrelated achievement, I also caught up on the main blogs I follow.  For quite a while I had over 200 posts to read and that was somewhat disheartening, but I gradually chipped away and for the last week I've just been reading the previous days posts.  I am hoping this will encourage me to start responding to some of them as well, though I read them on my phone or tablet and I'd really always much rather type on my laptop.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Catching up

My Shipyard

June 2015 was the first time I have gone a month without a post in more than 2 1/2 years (October 2012, I checked).  The good news is that I haven't been idle even though I still don't have a huge motivation to play WoW or any other MMO.

I mentioned a few weeks ago that there were a few things I'd like to get done, but wasn't really sure how many I would do.  Since my last post I have sold a few bags a quite a few stacks of food, but I still have hundreds (and for some over a thousand) of the crafting components and don't know what I will do with them.  I raised First Aid to maximum level just by making healing potions, which was the last of the secondary professions.  I also finished all the simple 'Gluttony' achievements, but I still have five left to do, one cooking and four for eating and drinking things.  They will require going back and buying a few items and doing a little bit of fishing from the Cataclysm zones.  This confirms that Cataclysm was the expansion where I was least motivated, but it should be pretty easy to finish them, so I'd like to do that.

The only one of the other activities I listed as possible that I may still do is build the Pet Menagerie.  I have one level 25 pet and another stone to level another, so it should be pretty easy, I'm just still not sure I have the motivation.

Not on my list, but since it is on the requirements for flying, I have started working on the Draenor explorer achievement.  I had one zone done and two others were trivial so I got those out of the way, leaving only three more zones to explore.  I also have the map for the treasures in Gorgond, so I'll try to do them at the same time (which will also help with another of the required achievements for flying).  However, I don't really care about flying that much, so I'm more likely to complete the achievements since I'll be close enough that it will become I nice goal.

I have my shipyard that came with 6.2 and have started completing the missions there.  Right now I have the Battleship and Submarine and I'm trying to level my ships to epic (? whatever purple is), so I'll be more likely to be successful on other missions.  Each ship gains one ability at rare and another at epic and missions require between 1 and 6 abilities, so I'll be much more likely to be able to complete missions successfully if they are epic.  It sounds like there are ways to collect and swap the abilities, but I don't think I can be bothered. I did enough of the dailies in Tanaan Jungle to finish one of my Shipyard quests but, like Timeless Isle, I don't really care for questing there much.  I believe there is a continuation of the Garrison campaign and I would like to do that.  It the end, 6.2 gave me a new set of things to do which has helped, so I consider it a success for me.

One other accomplish that I'd like to do now is level my Mage to 100 so she can craft the highest level gun for my hunter.  I consider every now and then trying to heal on my priest, but I doubt it'll happen at this point.  I just don't see the reward being worth the risk of random groups on either my hunter or my priest.

I made one purchase during the Steam Summer sale, Banished, when it went down to $5.  I had been playing Civilization V, but, even with the recent expansion purchase, I wasn't very motivated.  Banished is similar but nice because it has simpler goals.  I haven't looked up any help from the internet which I think was a wise decision.  I did see where some people were complaining it was too easy, but I am enjoying learning as I go along.  Hopefully I'll have more time to play it and say more about it soon.

Probably the biggest gains I've made in catching up is against my blog feed.  I've gone from hovering around 20 days behind to 6.  I'm hoping I can catch up and that'll encourage me to comment more since I won't feel like my comments are too dated.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

NBI Talkback Challenge - The Seven Gaming Sins

As I mentioned last week, I started this blog during the initial Newbie Blogger Initiative in 2012.  Three years later, I have said a lot of things that I have wanted to say, but I am still a Newbie in that I haven't fallen into a sustainable pattern.  I have followed up some on the others who participated in the original NBI.  This year, I finally caught up with the NBI during it's last week just in time to participate in the last Talkback challenge.  Joseph Skyrim offered the following questions.

Lust – Do you enjoy games more if they have scantily clad and “interestingly proportioned” avatars? Do you like playing as one of these avatars? Why or why not?
The reason I am a casual gamer is that I don't have time to do otherwise.  I spoken often in my blog about my desire to keep gaming, but do it in a way that works with my obligations as a father with three children ages 6-12.  One way I am doing that is by not playing games that I wouldn't want my daughters to watch me play.  I don't think there is anything wrong with those games, it just makes it easier for me to integrate my gaming into my life if I don't feel like I should keep the two separate.
Gluttony – Do you have a game backlog of unfinished games but still buy new games regardless? Why or why not?
I don't have a ton of games.  My daughters just discovered my PS2 and I never bought that many games for it, but of those I have some you don't 'finish' (e.g. Midway Arcade Treasures) but I only properly finshed one (Baldur's Gate:  Dark Alliance) and that only on the easiest level.  One thing I decided is to not buy bundles though I often look at them.  I don't have much time for gaming so I'd rather spend a little more to get one game that I will enjoy and provide a little more money for the developer rather than get 10 games and only try out one or two.  I also like games that don't really have an ending like MMOs and the Civilization games, so I have plenty of those to keep me busy.
Greed – Do you enjoy hand outs in a game? Have you ever opted to NOT do an action / in game activity because the rewards were lacking? Why or why not?
I usually decide not to do things because of time.  It does appeal to me quite a bit if I can accomplish multiple things at the same time, so if I have something I'm interested in doing and then they allow me to accomplish something else at the same time (whether it's an achievement or some more tangible reward) and more likely to do it.
Sloth – Do you ever leech or AFK in a party? Do you discourage others from attempting things that you feel are difficult? Have you ever seen someone that needed help, but decided not to help them? Why or why not?
I don't intentionally leach in a party, but since my play time is less than most others, I am always behind and often feel like I am not pulling my wait.  This is a big reason I don't group much any more other than in old content where I know I won't be slowing others down.
Wrath – Ever get angry at other players and yell (or TYPE IN CAPS) at them? Have you ever been so angry to stalk a person around in game and / or in the forums? Why or why not?
Never.  My play time is casual and if I'm not enjoying it, I'm going to walk away.  Also, since I don't do a lot of group activity and that is normally with my guild, I don't have a lot of opportunity.  I guess that's one benefit to being a casual player.
Envy – Ever felt jealous of players who seem to be able to complete content you can’t? Do you ever suspect they are hacking or otherwise cheating? Why or why not?
Yes, I sometimes try to figure out how to participate in end game content again, wish I could, but because of my limited playtime, I usually can't.  But it would never occur to me that others are cheating, just that they play more than I do, which is both a good and a bad thing.  
Pride – Are you one of those people that demands grouping with other “elite” players? Do you kick players out of your team who you feel are under-performing? Why or why not?
I feel like I already answered this question.  I'm casual and so I know I'll never be 'elite.'  Part of the reason I started my blog is because I felt like I had a different perspective from most gamers who blog.  A perspective of one who is a gamer who plays more casually than most and whose perspective is often overlooked my more serious gamers, though I think it is often considered by the game companies.  This questionnaire has again made me feel a little out of the norm, but not in a bad way.
It was nice to participate in this year's NBI, even if it's in a small way.  Good luck to all those who started new blogs.  I hope you enjoy them for a long time and others do as well!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Week in an MMO Life: The Garrison Campaign

Kantra riding an Amperial Construct in front of her Nagrand portal in her Mage Tower

It has been a long time since I last posted.  I'm hoping to at least get back to a weekly post.  Thank you for those of you who are still reading!

Sometimes in a game when I get close to completing something, I stop and do something else.  It isn't a conscious decision, but I just don't want to do that last step.  I'm not exactly sure why, but I think part of my unconscious reasoning is that I'm enjoying it, I'm not sure what to focus on yet and it's easier if I just don't complete it.

This happened to me with the Garrison Campaign.  I have had one mission to complete for a few months now, but I finally completed it last weekend.  In a month where Blizzard has  taken some heat for losing 3 million subscribers and doing things wrong, I do think this was a good idea for casual players like myself.  In previous expansions, it felt like the only way to get the end game story was to participate in a raid or a long set of daily quests.  I do agree with others that it was advertised as well as it could have been, though I don't have a specific suggestion how they should have done it.

Almost simultaneously to completing the Garrison campaign, I also completed the Got My Mind on Draenor Money achievement which let me upgrade my Garrison Bank and have my own Traders for Transmogrification and Void Storage which is nice.  I have upgraded most of the buildings to level 3 now.  I may try to level the Trading Post since I have quite a few tokens that can help with the reputations.  I am not at all interested in PvP, so I'll never get the Gladiator's Sanctum.  The Inn is unlikely since I haven't been doing dungeons, but I guess there is still a chance I will do them with my priest who should be overpowered with Garrison gear.  The Mage Tower doesn't seem worth grinding all those Ogres and we'll have to see if I ever decide to build and upgrade the Pet Menagerie.  It's possible since it is a solo friendly activity.

Speaking of the Mage Tower, I did finally grind enough Ogres for one of the ports and chose the one in Nagrand since it's the most difficult to get to.  I was trying to figure out what the Amperial Construct was for and read that it allows you to port between two places in your Garrison.  I will definitely be using that to port to my Salvage Yard from my mail box since I do that everyday.

I will be sticking around to see WoW 6.2 and see what is in it, particularly since I can pay for it with game gold now, but I doubt I'll still be playing at the end of July.  Hopefully more about that in another post.

Since my last post a month ago, I reached my three year anniversary on 5/5, as part of the original Newbie Blogger Initiative.  The 2015 version will be done in a week, but you can still join at their web site.  Maybe I'll even take part in the last talk-back challenge.