Leveling Starting To Get Fixed!

Oh wow. It’s only recently I mused about leveling and how easy and untuned it currently is. And here’s a bluepost:

Leveling

Blizzard starting to address early leveling experience which is awesome. I wish they also did something to the speed of gaining experience too.

Movie Mog Prizes

Logged in in the morning to get movie promotional items for mogging. The stuff is awesome! On the second thought, I may not find any use to them :)

So, what we got:

Alliance: 

The one-hand sword. Sadly enough my casters use staves or knife/offhand, my DK wields a zweihander frostblade. So the only fitting toon here is Bons, the Gnome Warrior. Wait – being Fury she wields two zweihanders, so nope.

The shield. No paladins or shamans in Alliance, and Bons is Fury like we said before. Nope.

Horde:

The staff of Gul’dan. It’s the most badass item I’ve seen in a long time. Wait – I have no casters in Horde, so nope.

The one-hand axe. Finally some use could be put in that. It fits Gottenbar, my Tauren Protection Warrior, and Schlitzchen, my Goblin Enhancement Shaman.

So, presents are very nice but they now act as porcelain figurines for me. That is: mantlepiece stuff.

Beginner’s Tanking Issues

So, the reasons I’ve started my new monk were these:

  • Altoholism – because there are 3 more months until Legion with nothing to do.
  • Tanking – I want to dig this role a bit more. I already have a Protection Warrior which will no longer  be Gladiator in Legion, so I’ll play two tanking toons.
  • Fu Zan, the Artifact Weapon – I mean, how cool is that:

Brewmaster-Artifact

An obvious choice for my Brewmaster race was a Draenei girl. Of course, I must have chosen the most beer-related race, and no race is so booze-related in World of Warcraft than Draenei… Just kidding. I like Draenei girls, and those hoofed roundhouse kicks are awesome :) Agility and grace, that’s the point.

Name’s Oluu, with Draenei trademark double vowels and hailing from the Finnish word “olut” which stands for “beer”.

oluu
Oluu (@ level 33)

So, questing and dungeons – here we go.

If you were following my blog and/or twitter for some time, you probably remember that I enjoy proper leveling a lot. I never use any heirlooms, I don’t run dungeons multiple times and I don’t use any other boosts. It’s questing and single runs for each dungeon.

Questing

Yes, questing experience is broken somehow. I’ve already mused about how it should be fixed, but anyways Oluu will undertake a questing challenge at least for levels 1-60. I’m going to do every quest in every next zone on my way through Kalimdor according to claimed zone level. So, it’s Azuremyst (1-10) -> Darkshore (10-20) -> Ashenvale (20-25) -> Stonetalon Mountains (25-30) and so on. Needless to say that I’ve already overgrown them – as I’ve just started Stonetalon and I’m already 33. But I want to see how many levels I will get through doing classic Kalimdor zones in their proper leveling order.

Dungeons

Starter’s dungeon experience is hell, and I can’t even imagine how it feels to new players. People despise their respective roles. Healers have little to do, so when things begin to get rough they just come there unprepared. Tanks (like myself) often find themselves behind some plate and mail players, who tend to aggro everything in sight and when they die, it’s you and healer to blame. But nothing tough really happens until level 30 dungeons, so that encourages them to do so. DPS burn through mobs like a hot knife through butter. Being a slow caster like a fire mage, you may not even have a chance to plant a single spell onto mobs – because when you’ve finished casting, they’re already dead.

Please add some toxic and asshole behaviour in a pile.

If a healer or a tank leaves the group in the middle of a dungeon, the group is disbanded at once because no one wants to wait for a replacement.

Many people “need” the loot they can’t use – mages need leather and mail, hunters want swords and daggers, shaman would go for Strength items. The assholes assume that everyone must have and use heirlooms by now, so they must need the items for vendor. It’s a very rare occasion that a “needja” would pass an item to another player when asked to do so. What is worse, no one would support a loot talk because it slows the group from running dungeon asap.

One perfect example of a 100% asshole was met yesterday in Gnomeregan instance. Tanking the mobs, I’ve noticed that I didn’t see any pet around me or projectiles hitting enemies, and we had a hunter among us. There could be afk reasons, or the guy could be lost, but there he was, following us. After a boss fight when his dps still equals zero, I call for kicking him out. Immediately I get his curses in CAPS in the chat – and the group votes him away from the dungeon. Then the other dps tells us it’s the second group this hunter was expelled from. It’s just hilarious. You maybe doing these dungeons for a 1000th time, but you’re with a group. You have a role to follow. What surprised me most is that he could restrain himself from shooting. Yeah, you may not play with full potential because you’re lazy, but how could you not plant a single bullet or an arrow just for fun during the whole dungeon?

I guess things get better in later levels where enemies begin to get tough. Armored DPS suddenly crouch behind a tank, healer begins to heal, and tank begins to tank. Not yet at level 33, but almost there.

Brewmastering

Can’t yet get a full grip of my defensive abilities. I’m pretty trained and confident to deliver my rotation in the field through questing, as I already have almost all DPS abilities in my sleeve. But mitigation and defence – not yet. And I had to run through Icy Veins for clues. It became better, but I need a lot more practice. I think I will master it by the time I reach Draenor raids and lay my hands on Fu Zan, the legendary keg staff in Legion :)

Illidan and Demon Hunters: Background

I’m in the middle of the “Illidan” book now. There will be no spoilers here, so you could rush straight through the post :)

DH

First of all, I must praise the writing skills of the author. All the books of Christie Golden and Richard Knaak are graphomaniac stuff. It’s not literature – it’s fan fiction at most, with all the mistakes of the beginning authors. I could talk a while about it in another post, but long story short, they’re boring, they lack dynamics and all characters are plastic dolls – yes, they are. Which results in reading with much effort and only for lore sake, not pleasure.

“Illidan” by William King has nice dynamics, great story and believable characters – so it’s finally literature.

Second, it gives awesome description of WoW characters’ intentions and thoughts. You’ll mostly learn about Akama, Maiev and Illidan. You’ll be filled in about their actions between Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne and WoW: The Burning Crusade. It’s a new story which you didn’t see in games.

Third, it gives you a chilling process of Demon Hunter creation. You need this background. You need to understand that each Demon Hunter you roll or meet in game is not just some cool guy with wings. It’s a twisted creature which experienced unspoken atrocities and which is hardly sane. Gotham’s Arkham Asylum would greet them with open arms to lock in their deepest dungeon.

If you plan to roll a Demon Hunter, the book is a must-read.

P.S. I’m possibly rolling a DH in Legion – at least to see the starting quest. It would be a Blood Elf girl, and I’m not sure yet if to tank or dps.

Body Types in WoW

There are some issues with people who want some tuned diversity in their characters’ body type. You know, tuning weight/height/muscles and everything. But I think it mustn’t be implemented in-game.

It’s very true that in our life we meet quite different body types. But in game it serves another reason: race distinction.

Once a character is packed in gear head-to-toes, the only thing left to tell the race is body type.

If there is a single possibility that tuning a pair of characters would make them look the same, it mustn’t be there. For example, if you make a human girl thinner and taller and at the same time try to fix a blood elf girl into something more “human” (tuning height and thinness into least level possible), you would get almost the same toons, especially with all the armor on.

That is why elves would always be thin and tall, but humans won’t, gnomes would never be mixed with dwarves, and dwarves with other races because of their heights, orc women will always be muscular not to be mixed with thin troll girls, and so on.

Of course, hooves, horns and long ears help a bit, but body type is meant to serve the primary race distinction feature. Won’t vote for an option to change it.

Leveling Must Be Fixed!

From all the things Ion Hazzikostas said yesterday my main point of interest was leveling issues. Here’s what was said:

  • The leveling-up experience in classic zones is pretty broken right now and not well tuned. It’s way too easy and it was neglected for a bit. Due to ability changes over the years, you basically feel invincible (even before heirlooms). You’re running around more vs actually fighting. The pacing of the game isn’t what it should be. They’ve been looking to fix this (even via hotfixes now).
  • Barriers of entry to new players – Blizz realized around the time of Cataclysm/Mists of Pandaria that it was a daunting experience for new players who wanted to play with their max-level friends. To help this, they made leveling through past expansions faster and faster…but now leveling isn’t paced correctly. With the addition of max-level boosts, there is less of a need to rush people through leveling, it can be a satisfying well-paced experience. You shouldn’t be out-leveling zones before you finish a story.
  • Potentially able to add flexible zone tech to old zones. They’d have a wider level range so you could stay in the zone without skipping the story.

So, it’s nice to hear that leveling is not exactly a result of making new players join their high-level friends sooner. Class changes were also added in the mix. And it’s nice to hear that developers have in mind to do something with it.

Flexible zones are needed like hell. I’m always struggling with the urge to finish a questline – and they became so awesome in Cataclysm, the EK/Kalimdor ones. But at the same time I’m frustrated to get a final reward for the epic storyline and see that it’s -1 intelect, -4 armor etc. I have to skip the zones. And it’s not enjoyable. It devaluates the meaning of questing and implemented lore.

New players might be even more frustrated – this issue doesn’t serve them well too! Same questlines might be boring for 5th or 10th toon, but new players simply cannot understand why the game is dragging them further, when the amazing story they’re in is not completed yet. And if they linger to see the story end, they will get some shitty reward.

Brewmastering through Darkshore (altoholism has no cure, mind you), I’ve reached level 15 only in the northern parts of the zone. No heirlooms, but there were one-shot kills, my kegs smashed all the mobs, and I kept running bored between the quest mob locations rather than fighting. When I tried to tank Ragefire Chasm, it immediately gave me level 17. Two more available dungeons, and the zone would be outgrown, even if I haven’t yet met Malfurion in its center! It sucks.

Fix this. Leveling must be exciting – which means it must be flexible. We must spend some time fighting mobs. Two or three mobs at once should be a problem. The rewards and experience must scale, so that we could see the storylines and yet move forward. If I’m level 25 and packed to my level by the end of Darkshore (which is currently 10-20), so be it. You may not see all the zones, yes, but that’s the more reasons to level an alt – through other areas. The choice and the diversity are awesome.

Flight Requirements In Legion

Beginning with Draenor you are required achievements to get access to flights. It’s a good decision.

Gold gate is not an option anymore, at least not after garrisons. Some of the players have 11 garrisons acting like gold pumps and they won’t even notice a gold gating. Some of the players have only one toon and desperately saving for the yak or whatever precious mount – and the gold gating model will be a complete disaster to them.

What I am trying to say is: all players must have equal opportunities at expansion launch. And here’s what we have in Legion:

Achievement

Here’s your requirements to flights in Legion, at least it’s the first step.

Three achievements are inherited from Warlords of Draenor:

  1. Broken Isles Explorer – obviously all the map must be opened.
  2. Loremaster of Legion – and all the main questlines must be done.
  3. Broken Isles Diplomat – you must be revered with six Legion factions.

Two achievements are new and bound to Class Order Halls:

  1. A Glorious Campaign – you must finish the new “garrison” campaign questline.
  2. Variety is the Spice of Life – it’s 100 world missions for you.

Let’s mumble a bit about its completion.

  1. If the questing will be as awesome as it is in Draenor, Loremaster will take you from 1 day to 2 weeks depending on your pace, and it won’t be boring.
  2. Explorer – once you’ve completed the questlines, 90% of your map will be already opened. Few, very few special visits to certain dead ends won’t be a problem.
  3. Order Hall Campaign is a nice chunk of plot – which I will gladly replay with all of my alts, because it will be different for each and every class.
  4. World Missions – these are dailies/weeklies, and these are endgame. You will be doing them anyways to boost your professions, to level your artifacts, and many other things.
  5. Finally, reputations. In Draenor it was a stupid artificial crutch thanks to yes/no flight politics during the expansion, and Blizzard had to invent new factions. In Legion you will be gaining reputations from the very beginning – through questing, possibly dungeons – and all the same world missions you will be doing anyways. Remember how we got revered with Arakkoa when we just finished Spires of Arak questline? Won’t be long in Legion I guess. It’s only Revered you need, guys.

Blizzard wants us to see the plot. I couldn’t agree more. You should be aware of what is happening in the universe. You should be aware about the course of events, characters and where everything is going. You shouldn’t be walking in epic things from the latest tier and barely recognize Thrall.

In my opinion all these requirements seem quite sensible and they could be achieved in a month or two of moderately lazy playing.

What is more important, these achievements are done simultaneously and pursue many goals through one activity. During questing you open the map and gain reputations as it has always been. During world missions you gain artifact power, you get reputations and you buff your professions, from what I’ve already read about alpha.

I wonder what the next steps could be. If Part II and Part III will introduce us some flight-specific questlines, like winning a race or snatching a dragon egg, that would be just perfect. If it’s more grinding of any nature – it is a Blizzard’s failed opportunity to do everything right.

Bluepost:

Bluepost_Flights

Does it finally feel that Blizzard will manage to make players feel in game like Blizzard wants them to feel?… I hope so, at least it sounds like that.

 

Nostalrius: Logical Ending

There are just a pair of very comprehensive points why we won’t be playing at any older WoW realms.

Nostalrius

Blizzard couldn’t leave Nostalrius be, because after all it’s a pirate server. Giving Nostalrius a carte blanche will automatically mean a carte blanche for other pirate servers, because rules apply to everyone. And so you could flush the meaning of “intellectual property” in the toilet then.

Official Blizzard realm

Opening an older server is not about pressing a button. Either it’s Nostalrius hypothetically patronized by Blizzard or a Blizzard’s official vanilla realm, this automatically means that this realm is under Blizzard’s standards of quality. Fixing multiple bugs, 24-hour technical support, server capacity and everything. An ability may not work on a pirate server and it’s understandable, but if it’s Blizzard’s realm, you’ll just flood the tech support with bugs, requests and everything you find not working.

This requires time and work and employees and supervising.

And this kind of expenses just will not pay off. First, I don’t think people are going to pay any significant fee for extra Warcraft. Second, what will you do after Naxxramas is nailed after a 6-12 months of gaming? Request TBC?..

People will just face the same thing they’re facing now: boredom, so they will just quit after they’ve pleased their nostalgic feelings. Doesn’t sound like a business plan to me.

UPD:

About leveling. Guys, no one – you hear me? – no one makes you use all the leveling buffs. Potions, heirlooms, friend invites.

I’ve recently leveled a Fire Mage from scratch. It took me a month of lazy playing. I didn’t use ANY heirlooms, I did every dungeon only ONCE and I gained my experience points mostly through questing and professions. It was amazing and fun!

But no, people will dress their alts all in heirlooms, will do only dungeon runs over and over, sitting in a capital, and then they would whine how leveling is boring and too fast now. How there’s no hardcore. And if they saw some hardcore, they would whine how it’s impossible to level an alt. Eh?