Thursday, August 18, 2011

Transmogrification and Other Stuffs

I find it very amusing that just a day or so after I wrote out my thoughts on altering gear to our preferance ( Wardrobe Options and Gear Dye ) Blizzard released the teaser picture for their new Void Storage and Transmogrifier. I could hardly be more pleased!

This is a feature that was honestly long overdue in WoW, something the community has been asking for for years now, and is perhaps a little too late. Blizzard's already destroyed some pieces of very interesting gear over the years as they've remade whole locations! Hopefully they'll add in some way to obtain this new gear!

Unfortunately for me, this may be a feature I miss out on for a long time. Our money issues are such that we've canceled our accounts for the time being. I desperately miss my friends I've made in game, and my toons. Brunnstag is a part of me that I'm loathe to give up, and the hours spent chatting with my guildies and laughing in vent are not something I'm pleased to be missing. Hopefully things will clear up soonish and I can perhaps splurge the extra $14.00 for the sub.

For the time being I've been playing Forsaken World, a free to play MMO. It's not WoW, but it works all right when I've got a hankering. Unfortunately, it does little to help with the people who I'm missing! I may write up a few posts about Forsaken World in the future, as I think an analysis of some of the free to play games from a WoW players perspective might be interesting indeed!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Wardrobe Options and Gear Dye...

Because honestly, who would want to mess with a masterpiece like this?

I've recently had a RIFT in my game time- a friend of ours, Cyto, got in a good deal for RIFT and was looking for some friends to try it out with him. We went on ahead and splurged on the game, and have been playing it for about a week now. It's an interesting game, with it's own pros and cons, but seeing as this is a WoW blog, I won't be discussing much of the gameplay; if anyone is interested in my thoughts of the game coming from a WoW players perspective I'd be happy to share.

What I WILL be discussing is one of the most requested additions to World of Warcraft: A feature to allow us to equip gear for a visual basis only, as well as a way to dye or tint gear to suit out wants. I cannot count how many times I've seen this requested on the forums, or talked about in game.

It never fails in game that someone will win an item drop from a boss, that fairly often there's a sigh from everyone in vent over how crappy the gear looks. Or that it clashes horribly with the rest of their armor. Or that it just doesn't suit how they envision their character to look.

One of Blizzards biggest claims is that their game offers a lot of variety in designing your character. But does it really? You can chose from a vareity of facial features, hair styles, a couple different colors of hair.... and that's about it. Every MMO I've ever played allows for this, plus being able to tint hair and/or eyes any color you can choose from, as well as being able to alter the characters facial structure, choose the size and shape of the eyes, nose, mouth, eyebrows, often times different types and locations for tattoos, and the overall height of the character. When you take all of that into account, WoW doesn't seem very customizable at all. It seems rather behind the times in fact.

Another basic feature of MMO's is gear upgrades. Most days you play, especially while leveling, you'll get new pieces of gear; you need to equip them in order to continue with game play; a character in out of date gear will have a far harder time actually completing game content than one with the best gear. So it doesn't matter if the previous helm you had was the most awesome helm you've ever worn  because you're just going to replace it.

Or does it?

This is my character Shalkan, a level 20 Bahmi Mage (Elementalist/Stormcaller/Pyromancer if your curious). Overall, that gear he's wearing is pretty god-awful looking. It's very plain, unflashy, and mismatched. The nice blue quality staff he's got looks fantastic yet he's stuck with a helmet that make his head look like a purple dew drop. Fail.

But notice that nifty little "Wardrobe" tab in his character panel? The wardrobe panel allows me to equip a piece of gear over what he's wearing, simply for the visual effect. Combining the wardrobe feature with the ability to make a purchase dyes to tint your armor, and I ended up with this:

They see me rollin', they hatin'.

Now that is seriously an improvement. I applied dye to several pieces of armor to change them to my favorite color, and equipped several of those pieces to my wardrobe as I've replaced them. This lets me keep use the upgrades, but still be able to look how -I- want to look.

And that's not even the end of the awesomeness that is RIFT's gear customization. Here's a screencap of my level 23 Warrior Stagsun.

As you can see, I've also taken the time to dye his gear and equip it to his wardrobe. But notice the super badass helm? That's an epic quality rare costume drop I got from a rift I helped close during an invasion. Costume pieces have no purpose but to look cool- they have no stats and add nothing to your character, but for the look.

This is a BRILLIANT idea. Costume pieces are either rare drops from things like rifts, or you can buy them with currencies you get during your adventures in the game. They're just fun pieces you can equip that you like the look of. 

Now World of Warcraft also has costume pieces, although they're usually silly items like bunny ears you can get at Easter, or a Santa Clause outfit you can get at Christmas time. But the nice thing about RIFT's wardrobe feature is that since your still equipping it, it's not in your bag. There's no gear to change out, your wearing the costume pieces, and your regular gear as well. When was the last time you ever saw anyone very seriously enjoying the costume pieces in game? They're such a hassle to carry around with you, especially if you have two separate specs worth of gear to keep with you.  It takes all the fun out objects in game that SHOULD be fun.

Now you might be thinking "But Brunnstag! What about the pvp'ers? Or the hardcore raiders? How will they be able to see what gear people are actually wearing so they can judge skill/gear level?". Well, this can be looked at several ways.

  1. Disable the feature in PVP. I myself have never had time to analyze the armor that a warrior is wearing while he's charging at my face, but I suppose hardcore pvp'ers might be skilled and quick enough to see that sort of thing. But even then, if it's attacking you, it's attacking you, the gear that it's wearing isn't honestly going to be that big of a decided factor.
  2. Have a "Disable Wardrobe" toggle box. If the gear that you see around you is really that important, just turn off the feature entirely. Everyone's gear would appear as only what they have equipped to their character, and not what's in their wardrobe panel.
What would this solve and why is this feature so important?
  • This would increase playtime and enjoyment. Just as people spend time collecting pets, mounts, and achievements, why not spend time collecting a gear set you like? Do you really like those tier shoulders that drop out of an older dungeon? Go back, and not only see the older content you've likely never returned too since that level, but get a nice looking pair of pauldrons, or a helm! And the longer someone is paying to play WoW, the longer Blizzard makes money.
  • This is would aid roleplayers greatly. Not only would this please the majority of the player base (One of the most asked for features after all!) but it's something very easy that Blizzard could do to make the RPers happy. I know a few RPers, and their bags and banks are full of pieces of old gear, weapons and random things like fish you can hold in your hands. Being able to look the way you want (And how you need your toon to look for whatever your currently roleplaying) would be a godsend to a lot of people on RP realms.
  • It could greatly improve holidays. Costume pieces could be a great improvement to the game, and giving them out or selling them at Holidays, or other special occasions would be a great improvement. Special things and events in game could be commemorated by having rare costume pieces that can drop; something your toon could buy or win to say "Hey, remember the Zombie invasion just before Wrath came out? That's where I got this awesome cloak!" Not only that, but it'd be nice to raid in those bunny ears too, not just idling in town. (And that's IF I want to carry them with me and remember to trade them out for my helm!)
  • It can act as a gold sink. Blizzard is all over things that make you spend exorbitant amounts of money for things that look neat but are ultimately useless. There are still some mammoth mounts for 10,000 gold I haven;t bought yet cause they just aren't worth that. RIFT gives you one wardrobe slot, and 3 others you can purchase for a somewhat high cost. Have one set of awesome battle gear, another for idling in town, and another one for holidays... the possibilities are endless.
  • No more looking like ALL toons shop at 'Gear'4'Us'. That's one of the worst things about WoW. Brunnstag looks like every other hunter. All druids look the same. All warlocks. All priests. Every class that's managed the end game content, pretty much looks the same. The same with the dungeon sets. I don't really like looking like every other hunter on the block. That's not fun or interesting at all. I want Brunn to look like how -I- want him to look.
  • Despise a look? Don't use it! Have you ever gotten a pair of shoulders and they are just horrible? Oh well, put some you actually like in your wardrobe and you won't have to look at them. Does that new belt clash horribly with your older gear? Put one in your wardrobe that fits better till you upgrade all your stuff!
  • It could fix a lot of graphical problems. As a player of a male dwarf toon, I never get to wear a helm. The dwarves beards and their helms just do not mix, and it ends up either clipping badly, or simply cutting the beard off the character ending up with toons with no chins. It looks HORRIBLE, therefore Brunn's helm is almost always turned off, whether I like the helm or not. The older crafted belt I've had for several months clipped badly with the long braids on his beard as well, forcing me to have to spend gold to change it to a cut I like a lot less, just so the graphics wouldn't look messed up. I'm sure there are issues like this with all the races.
I realize that Blizzard's art staff work very, very hard on the designs they put out in game. And all of it does look great. I know they want everything to look well put together, but when you're actually playing, it gets very wearing seeing everyone in the same gear, all the time. It sounds good in principal, like having everyone wear fire based gear because of the Firelands, but when its actually implemented it becomes visually unimpressive. There's a reason why everyone in game doesn't ride the same horse. That would be really boring. 

And of course, it's not like we'd NEVER see the newer gear. There will always be someone in game who likes the new sets enough to use them. Hardcore raiders and PVPers will probably want to idle in game in their latest full hard mode tier set on so everyone can see the awesomeness. A wardrobe feature and the ability to change colors would simply make the game even more eye catching. 

And quite frankly, for all the pretty graphics the artists put in game, if it's a detriment to force players to use them, then overall it's just hurting the game. Player's like customization- and if they can get it somewhere else, they will. And for just how many games there are out there, free or subscription based, that include this feature, it's becoming apparent that it's wanted AND used.

Would I quit WoW over this alone? Most likely no, I still enjoy playing World of Warcraft. Would I  be more likely to pick a game over WoW if it included this feature? Yes, I would. I don't think RIFT is that game- I enjoy it, but it's not the same. But one of these days, a very, very good MMO will come out that has everything else I like about WoW in it, and will let Brunn wear what I want him to wear. And I can't guarantee I'd stick with WoW out loyalty.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday Morning Tidbits...

More Tuesday morning tidbits! It's once again been a while since my last post, and that wasn't even WoW related! @-@;; Mage the betta fishy is doing well, enjoying his bowl even more now that I moved it to sit next to my computer. I can look over there while I'm in dungeons and he's staring at me! I think he wonders why we sit at our desks, staring forward and wiggling our hands...

I've not been able to play WoW much the last few days. My job has been thoroughly kicking my butt (I detest my job, but that's another story) and I've also been away over the weekend watching my parents house whilst they were away. Half the time I get off work I'm so exhausted that I don't even log in, and when I do I end up idling in Stormwind while browsing the internet before logging off. :/

Brunn's been having a bit of a breather himself. He recently got a new belt from the Firelands that, praise the GODS, is not a massive wrestling championship inspired monstrosity. I don't know where the artists think they're going with those. They look tacky, hang off the body... I mean, a belt's a belt. I'd much rather have a traditional looking one- save the fancy graphics for my actual armor and spend the time NOT coming up with goofy looking hunter helms!

I mean, really? It looks like they're using some poor goblins face as a mask!

I honestly wouldn't have minded the belt so much if it weren't for the fact that it stuck off the Brunn's already slightly paunchy tummy so far that it clipped with his longer beard cut! That's the reason why Brunn never has his helm turned on- it clips with his beard and makes him look really stupid. It's been the curse of all dwarven players since vanilla I believe! 

-I swear this fish is hilarious! I look over and he's sitting on the plant staring it me, dead on, watching me eat...-

Anyway, Shalkan's been getting some love recently. I've really been enjoying healing recently, although it's hard to judge how well I'm actually doing at healing versus how overgeared our guildies are for heroics... I've a bit of a phobia of pugging on a healer, especially when I'm still so new. Hellish tanks who run through the instance, pugs who stand in fire... it's a terrifying thought!

Sparkle Shaman @-@

In other news, you may have noticed the new widget off to the right of my blog- it's a link to my Shelfari Profile! If you're an avid reader like I am, I highly suggest the site. It's a place for book people to set up virtual bookshelves, keeping track of what they're reading, what the want to read, and what they've read. On top of this you can write reviews, chat with other people, join groups to discuss books and genres- it's like Facebook for bookies!

Speaking of books, I just finished Ender's Game on Sunday, and it was spectacular! I thoroughly enjoyed it. Now it's back to working on Brandon Sanderson's "Way of Kings". This ones just taking me forever, dunno why, because the book is amazing! 

I highly recommend it!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Behind the Keyboard: Mage the Betta Fishy!

It's time for another Behind the Keyboard segment! I'm very happy to introduce everyone to my new family member, Mage!

Mage the Betta Fish!

I've been desperately wanting a pet for months now! I would love to get a cat, but at our apartments... well it's probably not the best idea. they have a 300$ nonrefundable pet charge for a cat, which is awfully steep for how very easy and not dirty a cat is. Matt and I thought back and forth on the subject and finally decided it was best to wait. But that did nothing to stop my want of a pet.

I don't even recall how we got onto the subject, but mom ended up suggesting I get a Betta Fish. Now, my mother's always kept fish. I had a tank when I was little with a goldfish named Chloe in it- when she died we buried her in the backyard. A few years after that, mom ended up getting a massive tank (Not sure how big exactly, at least 50 gallons), and she kept fish for a very long time in it. Eventually it got to be too much of a chore to clean the tank all the time, and the expense of having to treat and test the water and such, so we broke it down and sold it.

But Betta fishes do well in a bowl (Much better then goldfishes do) and because of their labyrinth lung are able to pop up for air. This makes them very forgiving for first time fish owners. And since it's just one small bowl, the upkeep isn't a massive undertaking. As mom said, a Betta fish makes a great pet. A full on fish tank is a hobby.

So today I toddled off to the pet store and got myself a betta fish! I wasn't expecting them to have any more then the generic red's, blues and combinations there of. But their selection was amazingly good! I almost got a different one that was a Crowntail with a blue body and very fancy multicolored fins. But when I saw Mage... I just fell in love.

I mean really, Look at that face!

He's all acclimated and happy now! He even ate some of his little fishy food pellets. He was clearly a little freaked when I got him into his bowl as he fluttered all around. He moseyed down to the bottom and nudged a piece gravel with his nose. When it rolled over he had a little fish panic attack and flipped out in place. It was adorable! Now he's just relaxing and swimming about! 

Yay Mage!


Saturday, July 9, 2011

Micro-Transaction Mounts: A Review

Yesterday I bought myself one of the new Winger Guardian mounts from the Blizzard store. I've loved lions since I was a child, and a flying armored lion was just too much of a temptation. As I had already managed to get the Mountain O' Mounts achievement, I had no more qualms about buying this beauty!

Seeing as I own both of the mounts that can be purchased from the blizzard store (The Celestial Steed being a gift from Matt from... two years ago now?) I thought I'd make a review of each of them. Some general facts about the mounts:

  1. Both mounts count toward any mount specific achievements.
  2. They count as both ground and flying mounts and therefore can be used anywhere.
  3. They scale with riding skill, and can be used as soon as you train Apprentice riding at level 20, and will scale all the way up to the Master 310% riding skill.
  4. All current and future toons associated with your account will recieve an in game mail containing the mount.
  5. Each mount costs 25$. (This is the U.S. amount, I'm not sure what they cost in other regions!)
So buying just one of these mounts can be very nice, especially if your an altoholic. Whatever the server, any character on your account will receive the mount! You still have to train the riding skill, but you won't have to buy any mounts unless you want them. Other than this, and counting towards the mount achievments, this mount offers no in game advantage what-so-ever. Purely cosmetic.

Celestial Steed

Visual Appeal
This mount looks nice, the star effect is very dynamic and looks really good when standing idling. This is a spectral type mount, so it's see-through, and going with the star theme has what looks like a constellation of stars inside. The armor is also very visually dynamic, appearing to flow almost like water. It feels a bit small though, and the legs are slightly too short, giving it a somewhat stocky look one wouldn't associate with a horse- much less one made of stars!

The run animation is where those stocky legs look a little funny. It takes decently long strides now that Blizzard has slowed down it's run animation slightly, but when running it looks like the legs are far to short. The walk animations look good, and I find them preferable to the run as they look far more stately.

The flying animations are solid, even if the legs get a bit... flaily. I'm not a big fan of this mounts moving it legs while it flies. It looks good on say, the Headless Horseman's mount, as the horse seems to have an invisible solid plain that it's running along, make it look very realistic. The Celestial Steed almost seems to move it's legs for the hell of it. Overall, the effect is decent. Any movement whether running or flying seriously lessens the effect of the stars it puts out while idling, with stars slowly trailing behind, but not enough to be very noticeable.

Mount Special and Sound
This is a special animation that can be caused by either typing /mountspecial, or by using the jump button while standing still in an area where this mount cannot fly. The Steed will rear up, flapping it's wings and extending them up and out, striking a briefly heroic pose, before setting back down and resuming it's idle animations. It will also whinny, the Steed's vocalizations being ghostly sounding to match it's spectral appearance. The sounds the Steed make are not for everyone however, so I'd recommend finding one in game, or listening to a youtube video with the sounds included. The steed does have a very appealing 'thrumming' sound as it flaps it's wings, which sounds VERY nice.

Overall, I like this mount, though I think it looks better visually idling on the ground or in the air than in movement. The spectral skin it has can make for some lovely lighting effects in the various places of the world however!

Winged Guardian

Visual Appeal
This mount just looks imposing. It really feels like it's got some weight to it. Between the muscled build of the lion, the curled wings, and the heavy armor, the Winged Guardian is large and in charge! The top of the mane, tail tip, eyes, and feet all have a flaming effect on them, and anywhere where the color is lighter has a glow. The dark grey of the belly and sides breaks away to the lighter color down the legs and tail, giving it a look like rock breaking apart into lava. As it idles it bobs back and forth, each of the five braids of it's mane moving with it. It also looks left and right, and occasionally growls. One truly feels epic sitting in the saddle o this mount!

As I said before, everything on this mount moves. The fire twists, the braids sway as it moves, the tail swings back and forth and wings bounce slightly with it's motion. Even sanding still the mount has a lot of energy. The run animations are very graceful, but also with the air of it being heavy cavalry. The mount has that same air of bigness; you wouldn't ant to get trampled by this beast! The walk animations are a graceful prowl, with the head slowly moving left to right with each step. Both animations are thoroughly cat like, with all the regalness of a real lion.

 The flying animations are smooth with the Guardian holding his front legs close to the body back legs stretched out and bobbing with his body. He has both a flap and glide animation unlike the celestial steed, with the glide being particularly impressive as you can see the feathers of his wings shudder in the wind. What's best about his flying though is the light effects coming from the winds and tail, which leave a long trail behind you as you go. My only irk is that the wings seem to be too far forward and up on the body, so they look a little funny, but it's not a major detraction at all.

Mount Special and Sound
The Winged Guardian's mount special is to stretch his body out like a cat, throw his head back and roar while stretching those wings (You can see them quiver as he strains), shake his head at the end like a yawn, fold his wings back, and return to his idle animations. It's all very smooth, and I find this to be one of the more impressive and original mount special animations.

Soundwise, the Winged Guardian's vocals are a lot less in your face then the Celestial Steed with the growls and roars being slightly quieter. They sound excellent however and very menacing- it gives the feeling that if it wanted too, it could ROAR. But it doesn't want to cause... it's a cat. Sometimes they just like to be lazy! The wing flapping leaves a bit to be desired for me, as I greatly enjoyed the very loud sounds the Celestial Steed makes when it flies, and the Winged Guardian is very quiet.

Overall- I like them both. I think Blizzard did very well with the two purchased mounts, giving them impressive features that would appeal to a wide audience. These are an excellent option for people looking to get more impressive looking mounts, but aren't able to raid, or don't have the time to farm for one. And with the bonus of being account bound, your alts never need worry about purchasing a mount of their own, which does save a lot of gold.

If I had to pick between the two, I would definately have to go with the Winged Guardian. I feel he's a step up from the Celestial Steed in quality, being more impressive overall, although both will have their little niches of fans!


Friday, July 8, 2011

Rares, Rares, and More Rares!

My first staggering steps into Beast Master have been a bit rough, but I'm really enjoying the playstyle so far! After having played as Marksman for about two years now, just having different button icons is new and exciting. It's funny how picking up a new spec after so long can make the game new and exciting again- Oh, I played as Beast Master in BC, who didn't? But I was fresh from leveling then and hadn't experienced the wonders of Marksman yet. Once I tried it, I loved the style of it, and the utility, and never looked back.

Of course, the first thing I did was go off and look at what pets we're only for Beast Masters. I popped onto Petopia a hunter pet resource guide online, and looked up my options. I already knew I wanted some Spirit Beasts as no beast master is complete without them! I wasn't particularly interested in Rhinos or Silithid's. But a worm... I could do a worm. Off I go to Dragonblight to find the elite Rattlebore!

Mr. Squiggles!

At least, I wanted to name him Mr. Squiggles, but I had to settle for Squiggles instead... Blizzard's name rules don't allow for spaces or punctuation. Darn! Anyway, I LOVE this pet! He's right up there with Bragi for my favorite now. First off, he's huge! I mean look at him, he dwarfs my dwarf! He shimmies back and forth when he 'runs' (Slithers?), and is constantly bobbing side to side like he's dancing to his own little wormy beat. Plus, his swim animation is adorable! If you don't have a worm pet, I suggest your get one!

Happy with my new Wormy, and already in Northrend I decided to go after some Spirit Beasts! I've always fancied Arcturis, but seeing as Brunn was always in MM spec anyway and I'd have to change specs just to see him, I simply never bothered to get him. I sat back for a long wait; and after 8 hours of camping and reading Brandon Sanderson's "The Way of Kings" over two days, he spawned!

Rawnblade the Spirit Bear

After that I had some guildie stuff to attend to, dungeon runs and such! It was a busy day, and later that evening I decided to pop back out to Storm Peaks and see if couldn't come across Skoll the Lightning Wolf as well. After perhaps and hour of sitting about, Skoll spawned as well.

Stormlight the Wolf Spirit

Rather pleased with myself in having found 2 spirit beasts in one day, I decided that I'd give Sholozar a try, and maybe see if I couldn't come across Loque'nahak as well. I flew straight to the Nessingwary camp to sticka  few pets in my stable to make room... and looked up and there was Loque, strolling around just across the river!

Shatterpelt the Leopard Spirit

And that's how I managed to tame 3 spirit beasts in one day! Granted, I spent perhaps ten hours total in camp mode, but I cannot believe my ridiculously good luck in having these three rare spawn pets just about fall into my lap! I'm not super impressed with Gondria, so haven't yet spent the time looking for her. After Loque and Skoll, I did fly over to see if she'd spawned as well, but no beans. Ah well, no need to be a pet hog!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tuesday Morning Tidbits...

Oh Tuesday mornings and your maintenance. Today is my first day off after a five day stretch of full 8 hour days as a produce sales associate at Walmart. I gotta say I feel like someone beat me with a stick- 40 pound plus containers of fruits and vegetables are hard to move around, and this is the most exercise I've had in probably a year. I'm not saying it's not good, and the money will be nice, but I've been feeling pretty crappy all week. Like going to bed by ten PM crappy!

Needless to say I haven't been doing a ton of stuff in game, just too exhausted. Our guild, with the new patch, is finally able to push over the hump and start downing the previous raid tier. I have to say, they made it too easy. I mean we almost had all the fights, but being a mixed group of people who could or have played in hardcore raiding teams, and those who haven't quite got the skill for that, sometimes it's hard to manage the coordination needed. With the time constraints we've had recently between everyone's work schedules and whatnot... it's been difficult to find the time to continue to push on bosses when we're close. Ah well, we got it now, and with the new tier of gear out, hopefully some of our less geared/skilled players can work with us more!

I never remember those after death screenshots, darnit!

We've been farming Firelands Trash for rep and epics the last couple nights with whatever group we can throw together. The first night they were released a couple of us we're farming it with only 5-6 people, blowing cooldowns and such to down things. It was fun, and I picked up the Ranseur of hatred and the Hide-Bound Chains. I'm desperately hoping for a drop of the lava Bolt Crossbow, as I am STILL using the crafted Kickback 5000. It's the only blue I have left, and I can't seem to get a drop of any other ranged weapon, either from Bastion of Twilight or even Zul'Gurub! I feel like a nub with this stupid gun, I want it gone!

I'm also intending to speak with Ioso on maybe giving Beast Mastery a try. I've been resisting the urge in the past, as I've always played Marksman because I enjoy the spec. But the catering towards Beast Mastery hunters with the new pets is pushing me towards the edge. I want to have some nice looking pets too, and unfortunately I have to play a different spec to get them. This is very disappointing to me, especially since Blizzard usually tries so hard to balance things. I've always been somewhat of the opinion that Blizzard didn't know how to fix BM's dps when compared to the other two hunter specs, and therefore made a few special branches of particularly nice looking pets to 'make up for it'. The three specs are more balanced then they have ever been in terms of dps, I want the other things about hunters to be even as well!

I'll still never reroll to worgen though, 1% critical strike be damned! Dwarf forever!


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Flying... Was it really a good idea?

Everyone loves dragons, right? Back while I leveled in BC, I used to sit in Shattrath and gaze longingly on the few people who had Netherdrakes. They were GORGEOUS, the only dragon mounts you could really get at the time; and on top of that one had to have epic flying. It seemed an impossible goal.

Now there's dragons all over the place. Everywhere. (Actually, there are 34 dragon type mounts in total, although some are no longer attainable!) In fact, flying mounts are everywhere- all over the roofs, in trees, sitting in the middle of streets, on top of mail boxes... Anywhere you can think to look, there's some winged or rocket powered beastie on top of something.

How long has it been since you've seen a max level character sporting a land mount? If the picture above is the  most recent one you can think of, you're not alone. I can't really remember seeing any character above level 60, the earliest at which one can get the Flight Master's Liscense, on a land mount recently. The only exception to this is when there is a new 'rare' mount released- When the camels were brand new, I occasionally saw people sitting on them in Stormwind to show them off, but as soon as they were relatively common, even the Camel Hoarder's disappeared.

The ability to fly has relegated the land mount to the realm of toons under level 60 and PVP'ers, who are unable to use flying mounts in battlegrounds of any sort. Just as the convenience of the portal hubs in Stormwind and Orgrimmar have killed the other cities in the game (Read my thought's on that here: Dead Cities), the players want/need for convenience and speed have also killed the land mount.

This makes me sad. It's simply so much faster and more convenient to use nothing but flying mounts that Land Mounts have virtually disappeared. Even I, whom use all of my mounts equally (I.E. I don't pick the most popular mount of the time and use it exclusively) rarely find myself using a land mount anymore.

This is a real shame, as there are a lot of gorgeous and interesting land mounts out there, especially now that even the regular mounts will run at epic speeds! But what else are we really losing by almost always being in the air?

There are some truly spectacular locations out there! From the ghostly, haunted forests of Duskwood, the windy, snowbound paths of Dun Morogh, the eerie and fantastical glades in Ashenvale.... There's a lot of world out there that most people never even get to see anymore. Sure we saw them when we leveled, but there's a whole land out there that's never used now, and now never even witnessed for most of the time. 

It's even worse for new players. Level up to 60, get the Flight Master's Liscense. Now you can fly in both Eastern Kingdoms, kalimdor, and right off the bat in Outland. Whichever continent you didn't level 1-60 in, your likely not going to really experience. Outland is a joke of flying from one location to another, never really seeing an of it. Northrend as well, as you'll be flying the moment you get there too! Sure, you'll see it all from above, but you don't really get to experience the majesty of the landscape from above; and much of the terrain in EK and Kal is covered in very dense trees so any above ground view is obscured.

One of the strongest memories I have from Wrath of the Lich king is the first time I entered Howling Fjord. You couldn't fly until level 78; I experienced most of Northrend from the ground up, riding my land mounts on the paths through caves and over mountaintops. As the boat from Menethil Harbor crosses on it's way toward the dock, it takes a small side trip through a gorge. If you actually sit on the boat for the whole little trip, here's what yous see:

These are some spectacular views! Combined with the dramatic and earthy music the perfectly compliments the landscape, it makes a pretty powerful experience if you sit back and enjoy it. Very few players ever notice this kind if thing anymore I think.

Now, Blizzard has done much to make the landscapes more friendly toward flying mounts- Instead of generally flat areas covered in thick trees and brush, we have more open areas with larger height differences, twisting canyons and massive waterfalls, even huge and elaborate architecture. This serves to make the game more visually appealing to people who are experiencing it mostly from above. It's much better then the boring cover of treetops one sees while flying over most of the old world. Yet it also seems somewhat unbelievable- some buildings seem ridiculously oversized, or the vast changes in height to give the land visual appeal come off as artificial.

The lowering of the levels at which one gets the different types of flying mounts, and the release of flying mounts into the older content of Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms, has in my opinion marred the overall experience of the game. Attaining all my mounts, from my first mount at level 40, to the epic mount at level 60, first flying at level 70, then being able to fly in Northrend at level 78... to me these things were major milestones in my experience. Things I was proud to have achieved. Do new players get this same experience? It's not the 'dumbing down' of the game, or 'making it easier' that bothers me. It's how much we as a community lose through some of these changes; how much of the lore and wonder of this world that we inhabit for so much of our time that we simply bypass and do not notice.

Now, would I give up the speed and convenience of being able to use a flying mount at most of the locations in game? Ultimately no. I have mostly max level toons, which are engaged in other activities for which the convenience of being able to fly is too much of a draw. 

But then too, I also feel that perhaps I've earned these conveniences.

Brunnstag struggled through leveling up to level 40 on foot. He doggedly ran through a lot of the zones in Eastern Kingdoms. I was so thankful for my first ram, I could have cried. It was glorious when at 60 I could enter the new content on my new Swift Rams, going so much faster! Earning that first flying mount at 70 was such a huge milestone for me; struggling through on foot up to level 78, so I could then conquer the twisted crags and mountainous heights of the Storm Peaks and Icecrown... I'm thankful everyday for the ease for which my new toons have it leveling.

A lot of people seem to think that raiding and dungeoning is 'all that' of World of Warcraft. But it's not. The leveling experience should be just as interesting, fun and powerful an experience as downing those bosses. 

That's why I think that for the first toon on every new account for a new player, maybe it wouldn't be so bad to revert it to the original levels for mounts. Let them experience the game a little slower so they can develop an appreciation for the lore or wonder of the world they're in. With how much experience quests give nowadays, it takes hardly any time to get to level 40. After they've gotten their first toon up to level level 80 at least, unlock the now normal levels for mounts (20, 40, etc). Then perhaps we'd also have fewer 'selfish' and egotistical players.

As for the problem of our disappearing land mounts? Perhaps make cities no fly zones once again? Give more areas where characters tend to congregate where land mounts only are allowed? It seems such a shame for this menagerie of beasties to fall into near total disuse but for pvp and low level characters!

So what do you think about the lack of horses, rams and wolves? Do you miss seeing these hoofed and pawed earth-goers? Do you ever miss riding through the trees and seeing the land from the ground up, despite it's lack of speed?


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Behind the Keyboard...

So it's been forever since I've posted here. There's been a fair amount of business going on around here and I haven't been able to, or felt like sitting down to seriously play recently. This is hopefully changing! But here's some stuff that's going on, in case anyone is interested.

I recently changed jobs. I had been a Book Associate at a company called Hastings Entertainment for the last 3 years. The job was great when I started as I was still in college at the time, and it was incredibly flexible on hours. Mostly because you didn't get any... one generally hovered at around 20 hours a week which was fine as I just wanted a bit of extra cash. As it's gone on though, the hours got less and less, and they'd started a wage freeze about 3 months after I started there- I've been working only minimum wage for 3 years. Over the last few months they'd forcibly been keeping everyone under 25 hours so you couldn't get any benefits at all. I'd been scheduled twelve days straight through, going in for 3 hours a day. Three hour shifts are not amusing.

I finally had enough and applied around and picked up a job at Walmart in the produce department. I know, I know, it's not glamorous, but it pays the bills. At least with Wally World I'll be able to attain promotions, wage increases and have access to fairly good benefits- all things I should have been able to get at Hastings but was cheated out of by the company.

But anyway, with the job situation taken care of, it's a big load off my shoulders... Now at least I'll have a lil' bit of spreading around money! XD Not really, as both mine and T's student loans have come due now, so every spare cent is going towards them >.<;;;

Other then that have been some minor quality of life increases. T and I rearranged the living rom into something useful (Nevermind the fact he got a wild hair and decided to do it when guildie's were waiting on us to go on a heroic, go figure!) After getting the furniture aligned I went out and bought one of those plastic sets of drawers and got all of the Warhammer bits and pieces stored away. The living room is now usable! We've got a TV corner (Complete with Wii, N64, Snes, Xbox 360, and PS2), and a crafty corner with a table and chairs where I can work my puzzles, and lay out the table for Warhammer games.

Slowly slowly we're getting this tiny apartment turned into a home. I'm still hesitant to 'nest' in it though, as I'm hoping we can find something a little bigger soon. Maybe rent a duplex or something. This 2 room thing is getting a little bit cramped!

The very few WoW things I've done have either been popping on Brunn for a random or two occasionally, or leveling on Farmstag, or the new Undead Rogue named Turnip I started for shiggles. I LOVE the undead quest lines, they're simply brilliant- I'd leveled through them once before and just couldn't resist doing it again. I was surprised by how much fun i'm having playing the rogue though... Making stealth not cut your speed really does make leveling a ton more enjoyable!

So here's hoping for some less sporadic and more WoW based posting in  the future! Huzzah!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mountain O' Mounts

Last night I achieved something I've been working for in game for a very long time!

I've been stalled out on this for a fair amount of time, basically when I realized how close I was getting. I wanted the achievment and the shiny Blue Dragonhawk it included, but at the same time, what would I do after? I managed to net myself the X-53 Touring Rocket on Thursday, and then realized that put me ninety eight mounts. That's just too close not to get it!

I promptly went and farmed Baron Rivendare, and finally got his Deathcharger after probably over 100 runs of Stratholme. (I checked my statistics and realized they were seriously not updating, and seem to be stuck at 51 kills, even though I know I've done far, far more then that...) Then it was off to the Argent Tournament, where I intended to buy a regular land mount and be done with it. I realized I had 144 marks, so I toddled over and downed a few quests and picked up the Silver Covenant Hippogryph instead.

So what's next now? I've got a lot to choose from. I still have a lot of BC reps I need to finish out, rare spawn achievments, mounts I'm missing, Loremaster, and a lot of other achievements to go after. Maybe I'll even work towards Insane in the Membrane. There's still a lot out there! 


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

New hunter pets- BM Only?

Bragi the Tallstrider
Yesterday was a nice day for hunters! I myself, as a marksman, got a bit of a nerf which was disappointing. But tacked on underneath that was this!

8 new rare tamable beasts have been added, each of which provides a unique taming challenge. Will you be the first hunter to tame Deth'tilac, the rarest and most powerful of them all? Players will need to progress through the Hyjal Regrowth and Molten Front daily questing areas in order to unlock access to the full gamut of taming challenges.

Woot! Some new love for hunters! A lot of hunters enjoy the challenge of tracking down and stalking rare and interesting beasts to tame. And for those of us who are also collectors, many endeavor to have every rare spawn hunter pet available to us! And pets that have a gimmick to tame? Something special we have to do? Great!

Loki the Fox
I saw today on Wow Insider an article detailing one of the new discovered rare pet . I was excited... It had a nice spectral skin... I delved into the post and my dreams were crushed at these two words- "Spirit Beast". Spirit beasts? Well, surely they won't all be exotic? I scrolled through the comments and found a link to one of the other discovered pets, an owl, also a spirit beast.

Forsetti the Dog
Why the disappointment? As a marksman hunter, I can't get spirit beasts. They're exotic, and require the 30 point talent 'Beast Mastery' to obtain, which is only available to hunters who play Beast Master. Survival and Marksman hunters are simply out of luck on these. But why, you might ask, would you be so concerned over one branch of hunter pets? True, there are indeed a lot of interesting pet skins out there that any hunter can get, some of which I've been showing off here from my personal collection.

But the pets with the most unique and interesting skins are all Exotic. Want a wolf that's imbued with lightning? A bear that looks like a veritable spirit of the north? A panther who's very being is made up of mist? Well then, you'll have to roll BM and tame a spirit beast!

Piggens the Felboar
Now many BM hunters in the comments on anything having to do with the annoyance of only one of the 3 hunter specs being able to tame these rare creatures, like to say, in their defense "But Spirit Beasts are the only thing BM hunters get!" Well, if by that, the only thing BM hunters get that the all other hunters can't get, then there you go. I have difficulty understanding this argument. All three hunter specs are the closest they've ever been to doing the same dps. All three specs are completely viable for raiding.

I could perhaps see this if the other 2 specs got their own unique set of pets as well. But besides our two unique shots, there's honestly not that much difference between the specs. To me, the beast mastery talent seems like a cop-out. They couldn't find an 'interesting' shot to give BM hunters at the time they made the talent tree changes, so instead gave them more interesting pets, which granted does somewhat go with the name. But my chimaera shot in no way makes up for my not being able to get a rhino if I want, or a devilsaur.

Tyr the Bird of Prey
Are the slightly unique buttons for Marksman and Survival hunters to press really a good make-up for our inability to obtain the more interesting pet skins? I honestly don't feel that they are. BM pets already do more damage then the other 2 specs pets, making them a very big part of their dps. I think perhaps it would be better to give them a more unique ability (Such as MM's Chimaera Shot and Survival's Explosive shot and Black Arrow) and to open up these 'exotic' pets to all hunters. It's simply doesn't feel fair, especially now when all three specs are so close together in terms of dps and viability, that 2 of the specs be denied such interesting pet skins, when very few skins of the same caliber as those of the spirit beasts exist for non BM hunters.

Now, Blizzard hasn't confirmed that ALL of the these new pets will be Spirit Beasts, and I implore them to not make this special treat only available to hunters who choose to play as Beast Masters. But to so far have 2 of the 8 pets be Exotic is disappointing. So please Blizzard, don't let me down!


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Of Raid Nerfs and Whining

Floating on the sea of hardcore raiders tears...

By now I'm sure everyone has seen the sweeping nerfs that are coming in patch 4.2. I've seen a lot of arguments for and against them, and most of them seem very thought out. But some of them tend to irk me. A lot of the 'hardcore' raider crowd is very upset by these nerfs and a lot of their problems with them seem to be either

  1. Now the raids are so easy anyone can do them!
  2. Now it'll be hard to get our raiders to run the next tier of content because they'll want to wait until it's nerfed to easy-mode!

I gotta say, both of these stances bother me a lot! It seems that many people seem to be of the opinion that either you are at the bleeding edge of content and able to down every raid boss in the game in the first few weeks/months of their release or you have absolutely no right to either see the content, or get the associated gear.

What's up with that? It seems to be that raiders believe they should get some sort of special bonus for being such amazing players that the rest of the community (All of whom pay the same fee to play) doesn't get. But guess what raiders; You DO get a special bonus! You are so awesomely skilled at the game that you get the gear and get to see the content before anyone else. That IS your special reward.

Everyone pays the same fee to play the game; not everyone gets to have the same experiences in it. Some people are stuck having to level alts and whatnot because they aren't lucky enough to have a guild that raids endgame progressively. maybe they don't have time? Maybe their interested in lore more then the game play, and as such don't *quite* have the skill level to master the raid bosses at their hardest difficulty? Does that mean that they are any less entitled to see that same content? To eventually get the same gear?

And as for your fellow raiders not wanting to raid when the instance comes out because "it's too hard, let's just wait for the nerfs"? If they want to wait the several months for the nerfs to come out so they can get the same gear and see the endgame content with the rest of the 'scrubs', then so be it. The whole point of your being an endgame progression raider is to do it first; to flaunt your skill at your class, show off your epic achievements and gear, be the first to get those rare mounts and rewards. If you suddenly don't want to bother with the content and wait for the nerfs, then perhaps your just as little deserving of those rewards as you seem to think all the casuals and lesser skilled players are.

With the new raid tier coming out, I'd like to remind everyone that the current tier of raids will soon be 'old content'. Something to run to either gear up alts for the new raids, or to hit to pick up old achievements and some extra justice points. And the hardmodes are still there for you if you haven't tackled them yet. So can we all please stop complaining about a tier that, for most of the hardcore raiders anyway, will most likely never be run by them again?

So to everyone out there who's just whining because now everyone can get the same stuff you've been able to show off for a long time...

Here's a little cheese to have with your whine....


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Long Time, No Post

Wow, it's nearly been a month since my last post here! Things got a little crazy here recently, with something coming up every time I even thought about sitting down to type. Don't you hate when that happens? So here's a quick little update on how things are going for me in Azeroth!

I've dabbled a bit in raiding and have now downed every boss up to Cho'Gall and Nefarian. I have quite terrible luck with loot so I have very little to show for it right now besides a nifty cloak... But it's the fun that counts!

I also deleted Brunn's son! Nope, I'm not kidding- I deleted my Death Knight Stagsun (Get it? Stag's Son?). I admit I rolled him when I briefly entertained the idea of moving all my toons to an RP server, and envisioned him to be the son that Brunnstag had lost which drove him to go out into the world by himself and become a lone hunter. I tried to play him after Cata came out, but I had always played Blood DPS and just couldn't get into the groove of things with the other two specs. I honestly had rarely played him but for farming ore and leather once I'd gotten him to 80...

... And I needed a toon to farm those things on quickly and efficiently...

So introducing:

Farmstag! brunn's half dwavren, half Gilnean, cursed worgen cousin! Yes, another hunter- This will actually be the 5th hunter I've gotten to any kind of respectable level, and the third on Winterhoof. I have a thing for hunters. I figured, in terms of speed and efficiency of farming, a worgen hunter would be the way to go. I enjoy the play style and am good at it, so it's win-win all around. On top of that, I'm going to leave him as Beastmaster so I can tame all those flashy fun pets on my alt hunter without sacrificing Brunn's marksman spec.

In other news, I've gotten myself into Warhammer Fantasy Battles. If anyone's interrested in it as well, I've started a painting/playing blog for my Lizardmen Army. You can find it at Jungles of Lustria. There's not much to see there currently, I hope to have some pictures up soon of painting progress on my Skinks and Cold Ones.

Allrighty, I'm off then to nurse this dratted cold that's been plaguing me since Saturday! More posts soon!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Patch 4.1 Woes...

So far Patch 4.1 has been a stinker for me! But lets start with the good news first!

Brunnstag now officially has a menagerie! I snagged myself a few more minipets over the last 2 days and got the new Menagerie achievement, ending up with 126 so far! The new Wintersaber Cub and Panther Cub pets are beautiful, and there's still a few more to snag as well! I'm very pleased with the additions and can't wait for Children's Week.

Unfortunately, running the new instances has been hell. The first night I ran much of Zul'Aman with 3 other guildies. One was tanking, Sotee was healing and Quin was rocking the mage dps! We wiped probably dozens of times, and soon came to realize that our tanking guildie just did not have the gear or skill to tank such a difficult dungeon (it's a relatively new warrior toon). We were willing to keep trying with him though, despite the wipes, as we were slowly making progress. After several wipes on the second to last boss, he suddenly went offline- I assumed at first it was a power outage or somesuch; they do happen occasionally. That is until Sotee says in vent "Son of a b-, He freaking ninja logged!"

That's right, one of our guilded tanks ninja logged on 3 guildies and a pug. How embarrassing! And it turns out, he'd done the same thing (unbeknown to me) to another guild member the night before. I mean, come on! I assume he realized he just didn't have the ability to tank the dungeons, and logged to spare himself the trouble of explaining and respectfully dropping group. But there's no shame in being unable to do it! And quite frankly it's disrespectful and immature. He will be receiving a good talking too from the officers and I for one, will not be running with him further. He's lost my trust, and he's going to have to work to get it back.

Last night wasn't much better. The server kicked the group three times and we had to start over twice after reforming, the last time resetting Zul'Gurub over halfway through. After spending nearly 2 hours in there trying to get something done, having my valor points snatched away like that was infuriating and I called it quits for the night. I did manage to procure new epic gloves and bracers, but the fact I've yet to manage to even see the final boss on either of these instances is wearisome. 

Matt got himself the Reins of the Green Proto Drake last night from his FIRST Satchel of Exotic Goods. He's always had ridiculously good luck with mount drops anyway- he got the Green Proto Drake and the White Polar Bear on the first egg and bag on his then Hunter main, and also won the rolls for the Twilight Drake and the Swift Brewfest Ram (Both of which he gave to me cause he's a sweetheart!). I'm hoping the mount droprates are not as high as his luck seems to show... 

While I am very happy for him to have gotten the mount, I can't help but feel a twinge of anger for Blizzard to have given people the chance at these mounts for doing nothing more then what they would have been doing anyway. It took me 3-4 months of consistent egg getting to get the Green Proto Drake and this was after grinding the dailies to get the reputation to even buy them. My friend Ioso just got it a week or two ago, and that's after what, a year? Year and a half? It just feels like a slap in the face towards my efforts to get one of the more sought after mounts when others can get them just for running a random dungeon.

Now, the new Call to Arms feature is one of the reasons why I finished leveling Shalkan; so I can get a chance at the Satchels too by shammy healing. But the truth is, I like my hunter! I may find Shalkan's healing to be a good diversion occasionally, but I play Brunn because he's my favorite to play. Saying they don't want people to feel obligated to do certain content is one of Blizzard's favorite arguments to use; it was one of the reasons they used to get rid of the separate lockouts for tens and 25's. Now I feel at a disadvantage for preferring my dps class, and somewhat obligated to spend more time than I want on Shalkan just so I can get the extra gold, gems, flasks, pots, and pet/mount chances. 

Anyway, once Blizzard gets the servers in check and the instances don't crash so much, I'm looking forward to running them! The challenge of them feels about right, they drop worthwhile gear... If I can just get in the there with both a solid group and without a crash, we may just finish one!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Failed level 80!

While I was working on setting up some separate pages on here I came across this:

I've already failed level 80?!?!

That mob just had to die right then and interrupt my cast, didn't it?

Anyway, you might notice the pages up at the top- I snuck them in today! The 'About Brunnstag' is a little long; It's basically the story of my leveling him and the guilds I've gone through. I won't be offended if you don't read it... But you'll miss the screenshot of a giant tallstrider with a sword attacking me! I'm serious!

The "Other Toons..." page gives links to the armories of my other important toons that you may see on my blog occasionally. I don't tend to post about them as often as Brunnstag, and his information as well as links to his mount and pet collections are in the sidebar. 

I figured a little more information on that stuff would be good. Plus the links just look nice up there under my banner! :D


Monday, April 25, 2011

Finally- Raiding!

I was hit hard with the burnout bug I discussed last post. Terrified of what would happen when I finished the achievements I was working on, I panicked and stopped working on them- Silly I know, but I wasn't thinking about how much things were looking up in the next patch.

I slowly started to work myself back into the game by leveling my Shaman Shalkan. I used to shammy heal back in wrath and decided I'd dust off his little 80 hooves, get him up there and get him geared. This is somewhat to offset the dissapointment of having got my druid Leomaine to 85 and discovering that the allure I had with boomkin at the very last few weeks of wrath did not last... 

Now if only I could work up the courage to actually heal....

I think Shaman healing will be enjoyable to me and good bridger. I'd started to dual spec and collect healing gear on Leomaine, but after having set up his bars I balked at druid healing. I knew nothing about it whatsoever and after seeing a lot of druid healers give up healing come Cataclysm, I decided that learning and entirely new healing class would not be good! From what I've read and seen, shaman healing seems relatively unchanged besides bringing them in line with Cataclysms new 3 main healing spell set. Oh well, we'll see what happens!

A couple of guildies who have been in hardcore raiding guilds in the past have been raiding with another guild <Foundation> for a couple weeks now. They needed an extra for Council and cho'Gall and whispered me to see if I'd tag along as well. OF COURSE! So off I went (Completely unprepared; haven't even bothered to watch the fights yet O.0) and after a try or two we even made it up to Cho'Gall. (Did not manage to down him, although we got close.

Cho'Gall has eyes all over him... Like an ogre potato...

I topped their dps chart that night (I was ecstatic!) and was told by the raid leader I'd definitely be invited back again. I got to raid again with them just this past Friday and Saturday evening,  Blackwing Descent this time. The first night went great, and we got through Magmaw, Omnotron and  eventually Maloriak. The second night we were seriously all off our game. Raid leaders compared logs and everyone was down from their previous performance; just a bad night overall, and we wiped multiple times on Atramedes and Chimaeron.

My UI in action- it needs tweaking for raiding ><;;

No hunter loots unfortunately- unlike Ioso who managed pick up the best in slot hunter bow the other day, darn her! But I had tons of fun, and that's what raiding is all about anyway! It's nice to get back into action after being off for a few months. I've missed it.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Dreaded WoW Burnout...

Looking for group..? anyone..?

It seems that the dreaded burnout has been affecting more and more people recently. I see dwindling numbers on my friends lists as fewer people sign on to the game all the time, popping in occasionally to see what's up. I must admit I myself have fallen into this hole, not logging on nearly as often as I had, and often ending up sitting afk browsing the internet instead of actually playing the game. Why is this I wonder?

I never had this kind of problem during Wrath. Oh, everyone who plays ends up taking a couple days off to do something else. But this is more serious and far more deep. I never felt I had nothing to do during the Wrath expansion- even when I was farming herbs or such, I was still enjoying myself. Now I rarely even have the urge to play at all!

I think part of it is the difficulty level of the endgame content. Towards the end of wrath, I was excited! Having to CC in dungeons? Sounded like a blast! Healing and tanking would be a little harder than a roflstomp? Bring it on! It sounded like the content would be amazing, and I'd finally have the chance to learn to kite and trap I'd always wanted. But now having seen the content, I'm highly disappointed...

Cataclysm is certainly not a picnic!

The dungeons were interesting at first, with new challenging content. But they were hard. After having run Shadowfang Keep several times now, I often wipe just as much on the first boss now as I did the first time I ran it. There's no sitting back and enjoying myself. Any one mistake and your party is most likely doomed. And these are just the heroics. I take no enjoyment whatsoever in running dungeons anymore. I can't get decent gear from them any longer (Except that blasted polearm that never drops! *shakefist*) and the tiny trickle of Valor Points I get at the end hardly seems worth it in the long run; especially when the groups fall apart more often then not.

And I think this is the major problem. Gear came quickly in Wrath, and as such so came the satisfaction. Each tier let us move onto the next fairly quickly and continue enjoying the content. If you wanted more of a challenge, such as for the hardcore raiders, they had hardmodes of the raids to keep them interested and busy with. I successfully raided Naxx with my first serious guild in Wrath, had fun pugging into various attempts at Ulduar and TOC, and eventually had fun launching myself into ICC content towards the end. I had FUN. I don't have that much right now.

Our guild right now isn't quite ready for raiding yet. We have a few members who have the skills, the throughput, and the gear, and a bunch who are just *slightly* under the needed level. Therefore we have no chance. No amount of player heroics seem to be able to get us past those first bosses- and making no progress at all makes for a poor game. We all have raided before and while we aren't one of the finely tuned progression teams that have already downed all the bosses, we work well together, know and perform our jobs, and try our damnedest. The Stromgarde Crusade is an adult guild- adults with children, and jobs, and other things to do. We can't farm, do extreme research, theory craft, and such for hours on end and then try dozens of times till we happen to get it right. No one has time for that, at least not on every boss, every time!

Achievements kept me occupied for a while- I worked on Loremaster, Mountain o' Mounts... but now that those are nearing completion, I balk at finishing them. What will I do when they're finished? Blizzard hasn't mentioned anything about new achievements. I rarely PVP (the alliance on most servers and battlegroups is just terrible and after losing a half dozen matches horribly, one right after the other, it spoils the mood) and I haven't the time and energy to hardcore raid. Being at the bleeding edge of content must be just as bad as stuck at the beginning- both groups are out of things to do!

Wait, wait! I think I see the future down there!

With Blizzard set to release the next patch, hopefully this Tuesday, I'm hoping the light at the end of the tunnel I'm spying is hope! I'm desperately hoping that this new gear dropping from ZG and ZA will be enough to bridge our guild over into raiding. Hopefully it will be enough to draw our burnt out players back, the ones who hate the unfun tanking styles imposed upon them and the overly constrictive mana pools our healers suffer. I hope that with a bit more gear, heroics won't be "One mistake, you're wiped" and that people can relax and enjoy themselves in the dungeons again.

I also hope that this is a sign that Blizzard realizes that while the Hardcore players are somewhat pleased with the content, they've lost the interest of a lot of the more relaxed players. This is the reason why I support hardmodes. It's the best way to make the game accessible to both groups. Hardcore raiders get the fun and interest of tearing up the normal difficulty then throwing themselves at the hardmodes, whereas the more laid back and slower players still have a chance at defeating the content and enjoying themselves. I play to see the lore, the areas, the design, and for the fun of killing an internet dragon. Not to show off my skills to the gaming world. Both groups need to come and realize, the game isn't for one group or the other; and Blizzard needs to find a way to make it fun for both. 

I want it to be hard and a challenge, but when it feels like such an overwhelming challenge and that there isn't room for fun... Well, it doesn't really feel like a game anymore does it?