Archive for April, 2010

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Sometimes I miss thee, Britannia!

26.04.2010

My last encounter with MMORPGs was Ultima Online, back in the day. Well, ’00/’01 anyway. There is no doubt that World of Warcraft is far more refined and a lot more addictive than UO was. Proper questlines and instanced dungeons have a huge impact on playability, as do a myriad of other differences.

But sometimes I find myself thinking: “Well, right about now, I could really use that cool feature from UO.”

Some examples include:

Player housing. Now, players allowed to build houses in an uncontrolled way as it happened in UO was just a bit shy of a complete disaster. But players being able to set up their own shops (granted, that was in a world where there was no Auction House), a Guild Hall, maybe even a castle. That meant something. I’m sure if Blizzard wanted, they would find a way. Right now they don’t want to, but I’m still hoping they’ll eventually include it. There’s so much potential for customisation, player creativity – and the Blizzard Store as well, make no mistake in that regard.

Ships and boats. The size of the world is a problem here. In Ultima Online, you could board you own ship and sail all around the world, explore strange uninhabited islands, find a friendly port and then sail back again. In Cataclysm, they’re bringing flying mounts to the Old World, so I have my fingers crossed that maybe ships are next.

Runes. That is, without a doubt, the feature I miss most. Runes or Runestones were initially calibrated to the caster’s location and you were able to teleport (or open a portal) back to that location from the rune. From anywhere, to anywhere. Runes of the most dangerous and hardest to get to parts of dungeons were highly sought after and went for absurd sums on player owned vendors. There were players that had a whole library of runes open to the public, and finally marking your rune with the last chamber of some dungeon was a huge personal achievement.

I know that Blizzard has very good reasons for not including those features, at least not yet. And I know that they might even be completely inappropriate for Azeroth or would wreak havoc on game balance.

Still…

Even if I just want to hear “Rule Britannia” upon entering the capital city – sometimes I miss UO.

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WTF?

23.04.2010

Yesterday WoW crashed on me. Actually, it froze the whole PC. That has happened before, and I suspect some heat issues on my GeForce – I’ll probably switch back to my open case setup I had before.

However, this time was a bit different: When I started WoW back up, I was greeted by the intro video. Which I have disabled. Then the screen was in 1024, while I play in 1680. At this point, I could already guess what would greet me when I logged in. Yep, all settings and keybindings were gone and a few addons welcomed me with their basic setup routine.

Fortunately, the keybindings were restored in a few minutes, as were video and sound preferences. Most addons still had their settings, and for ArkInventory (the one addon that did loose ALL customisation) I had a slightly aged backup that I made when I manually edited the lua file. All my Auctioneer ScanData is gone, though. The DataStore for Altoholic is still there, curiously enough.

All in all, about 45 minutes worth of setting everything up again. And making a proper backup of my WTF folder. Not quite the relaxing evening in Azeroth that I wanted.

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Zone planning

20.04.2010

You are a math-whiz? You like Operational Research? You have free time to devote to absolutely useless problems?

Yes?

Then this should keep you amused for some time:

Given eight (8) characters, who are all Alliance aligned, find a path through all Old World zones (except Horde Capitals and starting zones, obviously) without leaving a gap to grind in between. And with as few repetitions of zones and quests as possible. While minimising travel time when transitioning between zones, to keep a logical and organic flow going.

So far I’ve got three character paths mapped out up to the step “switch to Outland” and two more characters up to level 40. On one monitor I have an annotated map of Azeroth and a spreadsheet containing my character info, on the other the zones by level guide from the WoW-Wiki. It gets more complicated though, since not all neutral zones have quests for the whole level range for Alliance. Hillsbrad Foothills, for example, is officially a 20-30 zone, but Alliance quests start much higher than that. Others have quests, but not nearly enough to level out of the zone. And then there are the Barrens, which are nominally Horde territory, that I currently use to complement my leveling in Stonetalon Mountains, which in turn lacks the low level neutral quests that the Barrens have.

It’s a kind of mixture between Sudoku and the traveling salesman problem. I know that with 8 characters (and eventually 10 when Cataclysm hits and I hit level 55 for a Death Knight) there will be repetitions. But keeping them at a minimum is my goal, especially since I plan to keep my characters at roughly the same level throughout. If it wasn’t so specific, I think this problem would actually be a pretty cool task for a student of Computer Science to automate and calculate the best possible solution.

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A plethora of notes

15.04.2010

In place of a longer post, I grouped several small ones together for today. As the title suggests, my hunter got the 25 pet achievement yesterday.

A rare streak

Over the last few days, I managed to bag quite a few rare mobs. Sadly, there is no achievement for this – I think there really should be! I’m currently keeping track via a Google spreadsheet, which rare mobs each of my alts killed.

I got Takk, but his nest was nowhere to be found. Of course, the nest is why I really went to look for him, since the spawn times are approximately the same and I imagine that whoever takes the nest also kills Takk and vice versa. Oh well, it’s a short ride in the Barrens from Ratchet and there are a few herbs on the way to gather. Or ore nodes, when I switch to another alt.

At least Felstrom was worth a nice set of gauntlets for my paladin. And Sludginn was a pleasant surprise – his spawn is really hidden and out-of-the-way in the Wetlands. Well, still with a spectacular view on Menethil Harbour, but I doubt anybody would venture there by accident. I just noticed a mountain path while working on another quest and behold, there is this rare slime thing.

Curiosity killed the Elf

So I wanted to complete my exploration achievement for Ashenvale. I already had every zone except for a small pocket in the north-west. It went fine, no problems getting there. Then I see some rather large-ish creatures flying about. Well, I say, it’s a level 20-30 zone, I’m level 29, what’s the worst that can happen?

Then Phantim hit me for about 5000 damage.

Seriously, I think there could be more places like that. This rigid level structure for zones works well, but the occasional surprise and unpredictability could be pretty cool. A bit like Stitches coming to Darkshire, high-level mobs that wander from one high-level zone to the next, passing through and wreaking havoc in low-level zones in between.

I miss my boomstick

As a quest reward, my hunter got a new bow, which is an upgrade over her shotgun (crafted by my Gnome warlock). A while back I had switched from bow to gun, now I’m back to bow again. And I miss the gun already. Somehow, with a bow, I never really know when I’m shooting. The gun had a nice loud boom to it, kind of like a metronome. And jump-shooting looked way cooled than with a bow.

Fun fact

If you mis-time your jump from the top tier in Stormwind harbour, you can jump all the way down instead of just to the middle tier.

You are also quite dead upon landing.

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Noblegarden debriefing

12.04.2010

Noblegarden is over, as is my vacation. I had a lot more fun doing the world event dailies than I anticipated, I’m now actually looking forward to the next celebration. So how did I do on my self-imposed to-do list?

  • FAIL: Solo the Deadmines
  • FAIL: Get at least half my chars up to level 30
  • CHECK: Get over ten companions on my two “nature boy / girl” chars
  • CHECK: Buy a guild tab
  • CHECK: Upgrade several of my self-made items

I tried soloing the Deadmines with my paladin instead of my hunter. Maybe that was a mistake. Nevertheless, at level 26, the first time I died was to Mr Smite. His stun attack is quite brutal on solo players – it took two tries to kite him far enough away from his weapon chest. By the time he was back with new weapons, I had recovered AND had time for a quick heal. The mobs on the ship weren’t a threat, but van Cleef himself still remains. His first summoning of adds I could deal with – basically ignoring them, his health was going down fast enough. But the second summon simply was too much. And by that time I once again had lost the race against the clock – trash mobs started respawning and my supply of potions and food was running low.

So he lives to die another day. I think level 28-30 is the most at which I’d try Deadmines, above that it becomes too easy. Already no mobs give XP and the loot isn’t an upgrade over my equipped gear any more. At levels 26-28 it is a nice challenge for soloists, and actually beyond what I’d call ‘casual’.

Project Thirty – almost. I managed to get my paladin up to 30, hunter to 27 and warlock to 25. In the end, there were simply other things I had to do on vacation than play WoW – most notably the first bike tours this season. So it is with only little regret that I ‘fail’ this. Maybe if I had decided to not try the Deadmines and continue questing instead. But the challenge was too tempting.

On a few brighter notes:

In addition to my engineer upgrading a few items, I was able to craft an entire new set of armour with my blacksmith, which was actually an upgrade to several items. The guild tab is there and already filling up with crafting mats for later use by different alts. And of course my hunter earned the Plenty Of Pets achievement.

Overall, three out of five isn’t too bad.

Next step: Complete leveling of all alts to level 30. The pace picks up considerably after level 25, and so far the quests have been a lot of fun. I’ve also mapped out my progression over different zones for most of my alts so I get as much content and as little repetition as possible. Let’s see if this plan holds up in the future.

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Plenty o’ Pets!

09.04.2010

Another checkmark in my Noble List: Plenty of pets!

It took my some 150 gold on the auction house, but my hunter now has a colourful selection of pets at her disposal. It also shows that even a casual solo player like me has more than enough gold to splurge now and again.

In order of my subjective coolness factor:

In other news, I’ve now got three alts on 26, 26 and 25 respectively, so I’m still confident I can get all of them to thirty until Monday.